About Me

I was born in Luton, known for hat making, Vauxhall cars, London Luton Airport and a great football team who once beat Arsenal at Wembley in a Cup Final, currently languishing in non-league football for the 4th season. I moved to Edinburgh in 1990 and now live in Leith, Edinburgh's 'waterfront'.

Married for 24 years to Louise (who is on day release from Fife), I have 4 children: Holly (aged 28) who's studying medicine at Dundee University, William (aged 26) at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, Alice (aged 23) and Maddie (aged 16).

We live in a 226 year old Georgian house which we are slowly renovating. We once had a note from an artist posted through the letterbox asking if our semi-derelict house was available to rent as studio space. Things have improved lately; the stonework has been repaired and we have shiny new railings. Just the inside to do now then.

Current CNPS score: 999

Header Image: Richard Bloomfield

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    Madeleine Rose (aka Maddie)

    I think we must have read the 40,001 Baby Names book a dozen times: my Mastermind specialist subject is now ‘baby names and their meanings’. Finally we have chosen “Madeleine Rose”, although we’ll use the diminutive form “Maddie”.

    Madeleine has been slowly climbing in the top 100 names list having moved from 78th in 2000 to 68th in 2004, so it’s neither too unusual nor too common. It’s the French form of a Hebrew name meaning “woman from Magdala”, “high tower” or “tower of strength”.

    As Madeleine was born on St.Patrick’s Day, I was pleased to see a tenuous Irish link while checking anagrams on I Rearrangement Servant: “Mad Eileen” (Eileen is the Irish Gaelic version of Helen).

    Since they came home from hospital on Tuesday everything has been going very well. Eating, crying, sleeping and pooing are all taking place in roughly the right proportions (yes, mother and baby). Alice, Holly and William are all taken with the new addition and we’ve had no signs of jealousy.

    We went straight to Fife from the hospital so Louise’s father Bill could see Maddie: he’s too ill to travel much now. It was a joyous moment for Louise to see him hold the baby.

    It’s a girl!

    A beautiful, healthy girl, 7lbs 6oz, born on Thursday 17th March at 23.44 (St Patrick’s Day – just).

    Mother and baby doing just fine.

    More later.

    Confinement day

    It’s today.

    Well, it’s supposed to be today but nothing so far, other than a couple of wee cramps and a fart or two. I can’t believe it’s come around so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that she was holding the pregnancy test behind her back, looking me in the eye and saying “Promise you won’t be mad at me? I’ve got something to tell you.” I wasn’t mad at her of course and she knew I wouldn’t be.

    Work has been progressing but not as quickly as I’d have liked. I have a new office. We have a new kitchen. We have an empty shell where the baby’s room is to be but it won’t take long to sort out and we’ll put the cot in our room for the first few weeks.

    Louise has ventured out of the house this morning to meet a friend, but she’ll no doubt be back shortly to rest again: it must be unimaginably tiring to carry around 9lbs of living, feeding child inside of you. And no, I don’t think my beer gut comes anywhere close.

    And so we wait, expectantly.

    Complimentary Scotsman

    My sister and her husband were in Edinburgh last week and it was nice to get to see them, albeit briefly. My brother-in-law has a high-flying executive position with a large computer organisation. If he won ‘The Apprentice‘ he would have to take a pay cut.

    Needless to say, they were staying in a very nice Country Club hotel on the outskirts of Edinburgh. My sister was particularly impressed with the offer of a complimentary Scotsman in her room in the morning. She asked if they wouldn’t mind waiting until after her husband had left for his business meeting.

    We managed to fit in a meal in The Compass on Friday night, followed by the compulsory visit to The Port O’Leith Bar. Just a wee taster though, an early evening fleeting visit, not the full dancing on the bar wildness. Next time maybe.

    They flew back to London Luton on Saturday, which is a particularly handy airport if you happen to live in Luton, although not for London as Gordon commented today.

    He refers to a project to find ‘the greatest words ever spoken’ which was organised by an organisation, ‘lutonfirst’, in Luton. The winning expression will be inscribed into the wall of the arrivals walk-way at London Luton.

    I don’t know why they didn’t just use ‘Were you truly wafted here from Paradise?‘. Or maybe they’re trying to shake off that image.

    The sperm donor

    The last week or so I have been very lackadaisical (that’s such an odd word when you come to write it, isn’t it) about my appearance and personal hygeine: it helps me get into full builder-mode if I don’t wash and shave. It’s a bit like being an actor when you have an activity portfolio as large as mine: it helps you get into character. William even laughed at me a couple of days ago having noticed my builder’s bum (you know, a half-moon, arse cleavage while bending over).

    Fortunately, I had to don my Leith Festival hat today and visit one of the UK’s top design agencies for a meeting. This involved a haircut (hair used in the singular in it’s literal form), a shave, shower and suit, and replacing The Sun in the back of my briefs with The Guardian in my briefcase. A successful meeting was followed by the *inevitable visit to The Port O’Leith Bar where I chanced upon Wooly Dave the photographer.

    Somehow (probably as we were chatting about poverty and the fact that I am to be a father again at any moment), we ventured onto the subject of sperm donation. It must have been because of the high-powered marketing meeting I’d just attended, but I couldn’t help thinking that sperm donation must be one of the most poorly marketed activities there is. I was listening to an item on Radio 4 the other day on the very same subject and apparently there is a grave shortage of donors. How can that be? I mean, come on guys, they pay you to wank! How hard a sell is that? It’s hardly work, is it? I don’t know about you, but I’d even be happy to throw in the odd freebie now and again, out of sheer love of the job.

    Anyway, Dave pointed out that new legislation means that there’s no longer anonimity for a donor: the fruits of your labour could come looking for you in the future, curious to meet Daddy. How would you explain that one to them? And of course, the way this government is going, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Child Support Agency came after you too. Every silver lining has it’s cloud.

    *Lightbulb syndrome:

    Q: How many men does it take to change a light bulb? A: Six. One to change the bulb and five to congratulate him down the pub afterwards