Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Breathing Difficulties Part 2

Favourite Daughter is not breathing.

And has not been for some time.

There are many things They do not tell first-time parents. Because they are Bastards and want you to suffer terribly.

They do not tell first-time mothers that actually it is going to hurt LIKE FUCK. Really. And that odd things will happen to their brain when the tiny life they have been carrying is plopped on their strangely flat belly.

And that they will never want to sleep ever and just stare and hold this small life.

They do not tell first-time fathers that they will never feel so helpless and proud. And that if you delve in with the scissors too quickly the umbilical will actually EXPLODE with pus and blood and give them such a bad fright that they foolishly jump back and have to then go in for an embarrassing second attempt.

And that they will be made to feel quite rude when they are confronted with the news that ‘the head is crowning’ and do not then enthusiastically head south to relish the mind-boggling sight of a PERSON emerging from somewhere they had been previously accustomed to entering in a lesser capacity themselves.

Frankly, in the weird-but-good trauma stakes, the ladies win. Obviously.

But. They do not tell you that a tiny person the size of a fat cat is capable of covering a full-grown adult with vomit from head-to-toe. And that always happens to the gentleman. So it’s not like we don’t have to pay for not having stitches in our nether-regions.


Many years ago.

Favourite Daughter is very tiny. She sleeps in a cot.

One night. She just stops breathing.

They don’t tell you about this. Nobody says in any of the ‘classes’ you attend - where you are nervous and over-chatty - and make the other expectant Dads feel o.k. because you are stupid enough to say:

Me: What? Nipple stimulation? You must be joking. That sort of thing has got us in quite enough trouble thank you. Why do you think we’re here? Jesus. And I doubt either of us would be much in the mood for that kind of thing at such a time!


I think for a bit.

Me: Oh. Right. I see. Yes. Right. That makes more sense. Sorry. Not me doing the stimulating. The baby. To encourage the afterbirth and that. Ur. Right. Obvious when you think about it. What? No I can’t really see the video terribly well. Real childbirth is it? Mmm. No, I don’t need to move. The sound is quite enough. No. Really. I don’t actually want to see. She doesn’t sound happy does she?


They just don’t say ‘Good luck then with your new infant. They’ll probably never stop breathing ever but if they do try not to panic too much. It’ll probably be ok.’

Favourite Daughter is panicking. What with not being able to breath.

Tired Mam is panicking. What with our daughter not being able to breath. It is two o’clock in the morning.

I am oddly calm, as I am in all such situations.

Coughing had turned to hyper-ventilating which had turned to non-breathing which had turned to general blue-ness and boogly eyes.

At least her head was not hanging by a single thread.

Frankly, I feel inconvenienced. I was fast asleep. ‘Trouble breathing’ for fucks sake. It’s not as though a drug addict with what turned out to be a rather lengthy criminal record has anyone by the throat in some rubbish public house after losing an argument over the price of a drink.

I take Tired Mam to one side before she turns blue.

I take Favourite Daughter and hold her infant precious body close to my chest. I let her feel my warmth, steady breathing and slow heartbeat.

Tired Mam is tweaking. This is a reasonable reaction. One that adds to FD’s panic. What FD needs now is a bleary-eyed man who doesn’t get worked-up about important things but will fly into irrational rages concerning his inability to find his nail clippers.

TM steps back, and FD is left in the arms of a perfectly calm although half-asleep man.

Favourite Daughter relaxes. She begins breathing normally. I feel a hand smaller than my ear on the back of my neck. A room filled with tension and panic is slowly filled with my doziness.

Croup. According to NHS Direct at three in the morning.

They don’t really mention that one before they let you take them away. Bastards.

There was no mention of the fact that they may acquire undesireable boyfriends when they are thirteen either. It’s like They actually want us to breed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Breathing Difficulties Part 1.

A man has me by the throat.

I am unconcerned. Oddly. He begins to squeeze and I feel his fingernails closing around my windpipe.

I become slightly concerned. What with not being able to breath and that.

It is was many years ago. When I ran pubs for a living. I didn’t think then that ‘blogging’ about the incident in the future would highlight the lie in a previous post about not hitting someone since I was a teenager when this obviously occurred in my twenties. Grrr.


The not breathing thing is becoming something of a chore and without really thinking I reach back and land this gentleman a good one straight on the cheekbone and he briefly disappears from sight.

I am eight stone and five foot eight. I am pleased with myself. I’ve floored someone. I haven’t done this since high school.

Some days previously. Myself and colleague invite favourite customers from our previous Public House to our current Public House in nearby town. They attend.

‘Wow this is a bit rough.’

Us: No no. We’ll sort it. It’ll be quite nice soon.

I had to remove needles with rubber gloves from the toilets every morning because the cleaners, somewhat understandably, weren’t too keen.

So they were all there. And I smack a guy in the face. In front of them. They know me as chatty friendly guy. Hmm.

Within seconds tables are flying. Recently twatted gentleman gets up with alarming ease. Police are summoned. Upon their arrival half the clientele vanish. As they are all Wanted.

I am nicked. And carted-off to the nearest Police Station. For assault. I smacked someone who was attempting to choke me to death over a brief dispute over the current price of a pint of Stella Artois.

It is decided that I am not a major menace to society and am DRIVEN (they gave good service in those days) back to my Pub.

Assorted previous customers of Quite Nice Pub In Which No-One Died Or Tried To Kill Anyone Or Inject Heroin Ever are leaving never to return.

I don’t really blame them. ‘Good luck’ they say.

Oddly they never returned.

And we weren’t there long..

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Love / Hate.

I am about to hit a man on the head with a hammer.

Except that I don’t happen to have a hammer on me. And I haven’t hit a man since I was a teenager. And I’m in a perfectly civilised mobile phone shop. And I don’t really want to know what Prison Love is actually like.

I hate my mobile phone. Because. You know. It’s a mobile phone and that. They are essentially hateful items.

But I also love it. It was a Christmas present. It is shiny and looks nice. And. Get this. Not only is it a mobile phone – it’s a bloody camera as well!

Let the good times roll.

It is also my only means of internet access, for reasons too tiresome to recount here.

But there is a cloud upon this utopian horizon.

I don’t really know how it works. I am reliably informed that people can send me messages of a text variety that also include pictures. Imagine it. Words and visuals. It’s like fucking Buck Rogers or something. But without the whole spaceshuttle-being-frozen-for-five-centuries tiresomeness.

Somebody sends me such a message, and I cannot open it. Grr. I could refer to the manual, but am not yet ready to taste those bitter ashes of defeat.

I do some research on the inter-course. It takes ages and I get nowhere. The phone’s GPRS thing is only faintly more frustrating than Ceefax.

I resolve to go into the shop it was purchased from and demand to know why I have no idea how to use it. And they’d better read the manual themselves quick-smart and tell me the things that I don’t know because I’m a busy man, am wearing a suit so therefore must be Important and have a limited amount of time.

Walking into the shop. I locate the poorly-signposted Customer Services desk. And stand there for five minutes. Whilst several youths with ‘interesting’ hair and who sport clothing bearing the insignia of the mobile phone shop mill about in a disinterested manner.

It is clear to them that I am not here to sign-up to an eighteen-month contract named, inexplicably, after an animal.

I am grinding my teeth.

Staff to customer ratio is eight to one. Me being the one.


Somebody lopes resentfully around the counter.

I am already clenching and un-clenching my fists. Without realising.

He looks at me in a vacant, slack-jawed manner.

Mobile Phone Youth: ‘Sup.

Me: What?

MPY: ‘Sup fella?

Me: What?

Silence for a while. His name tag states, improbably, that its wearer is named Cornelius.

MPY: What can I do for you?

Me: Right. [Brandish phone] There’s something wrong with the MMS er thing. Could you have a look? It was purchased here.

MPY gingerly takes phone and taps at the keypad for some time.

I begin to let out the knots of tension from my shoulders. There is a professional on the case. Everything will be Fine.

Some time passes.

MPY: Do you know how to unlock it?

Me: I’ve no problem with the network provider. So I don’t care.

MPY: Yeah. But do you know how to?

Aha. He is testing me. He is trying to get the measure of me as a customer. Wants to know my level of mobile phone knowledge and, by extension, my knowledge of all things Manly.

Me: I’m sure I could generate an unlock code from the IMEI number but that really isn’t the issue in this case.

He looks taken aback. Ha. Got you, you young scamp. Just because I don’t have a stupid haircut and don't have excellent sex with beautiful 20-year-old Vanessa Paradis looky likeys every Saturday night doesn’t mean I don’t know a thing or two.

He brandishes my phone at me.

MPY: Can you unlock it for me? Please.

Me: What?

Oh fuck. Oh surely not.

Me: The keypad?

MPY nods.

Me: You want me to show you how to unlock the keypad?

MPY nods, looking at me as though I were an idiot.

I take my phone from him. I do not have a hammer.

Me: ‘Bye.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Perhaps It Was Space Aliens.

Many years ago.

It is late Sunday morning. I am in bed, asleep. I awake.

‘Ouch.’ I think to myself. ‘That is quite a headache.’

I was In The Pub the previous evening.

Slowly, I sit up. I notice a number of things. First of all, my pillow is still attached to the side of my face. With some discomfort, I peel it off. It is covered in blood. As are my bedsheets.


I look at my hands. They too are very bloody, and there is very little skin on any of my knuckles.


I decide some pills may be in order, what with my I-am-Godzilla-you-are-Japan headache and everything. I place my feet on my bedroom floor and stand up. Except I don’t, because for some reason my right leg doesn’t work and immediately buckles under me. I can’t bend it or put any weight on it.


I get up off the floor. There is considerable bruising to my left ribs.


I hop to the bathroom, and look in the mirror. Not entirely unexpectedly, my face is covered in blood. I wash it. A large portion of my face does not like the feel of the water. I look in the mirror again.

One quarter of the right of my face is smashed to a pulp. It is not recognisably human. I may or may not have two eyes. It is impossible to say.

This is quite a puzzle.

Being barely twenty years old, I decide the best course of action is to go back to The Pub and have a stiff drink.

Pub Landlord: What the fuck happened to you?

Me: I was rather hoping you could shed some light on the situation.

No. He cannot. I had left early and unscathed the previous evening. Only two or three drinks apparently. I wasn’t noticeably drunk.


Drinking Friend arrives. Looks at me.

DF: What the fuck is this?

Me: [gesturing] This is my face.

I stay a little longer. Complete strangers admire my new face. I feel rather roguish.

Some days later.

I remember the man at the burger van I visited on my way home giving me a very strange look as I purchased my supper. I mustn’t have looked too good at that point. It is a completely isolated memory.

Some weeks later.

I remember passing a particularly unpleasant night-club on my way home.

Bouncer: Alright are you?

Me: [Aggressive] What’s it to you?

Bouncer: Well. It’s just, you’ve got blood pouring out of your head.

Me:[checking] Oh. So I have. Thanks for that.

Again, an entirely isolated memory.

It is now.

My only souvenirs are a small scar above my right eyebrow and a small area of roughly-textured flesh on my right cheekbone. You wouldn’t even notice unless you were specifically looking.

And I’ve still no idea what the hell happened.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I am being kept waiting by my country’s next Prime Minister. He is late. It is very tiresome.

Favourite Daughter
: Daddy!

There are an awful lot of tall men with very short hair and enormous hands present. They wear black suits with strange bulges under the arms and 24-style earpieces. They start to get a bit animated. Something is happening.

Me: Just another minute sweetheart.

She is hopping up and down in four-year old frustration. Favourite Son is busy trying to smack his head off every single unexpected object in the building, as is the wont of most two-year old boys.

Forty minutes previously.

All three of us get off the train. We are at the city that I may have mentioned my strange love affair with. We head toward the science centre. It is a real place that does real things with genetics and that, but also has huge tourist-exhibition-type-things all the time.

Some of the way is uphill. FS is in a pushchair, FD is holding my hand. My right hand is on the right-hand handle of the pushchair, my left hand is holding FD's hand, and my right hip is pushing the left-hand handle of the pushchair. I've had practice, and find this works. Although does make one appear as though one is attempting to fuck a pushchair. Whatever. It works.

There are coppers EVERYWHERE. Favourite Daughter witnesses a man who appeared a bit out-of-place being instantly maced, cuffed and thrown into a meat wagon.

FD: Are they taking him to jail Daddy?

Me: Christ. For his sake I hope so.

Law enforcement are twitchy this afternoon. I hope he doesn’t get too much of a kicking.

FD is delighted. It is possibly the best thing she has ever seen.

FD: Policeman take the naughty people to jail he was naughty but we’re good so we’re safe.

Me: Yes sweetheart.

I’m not sure he was doing anything wrong at all. But he was unshaven. Which will not do when my children are present.

We get to the reception-type place of the science centre.

Quite Fit Woman: Can I help?

Me: I believe I’m on a VIP list of some sort? It’s Mr.Dad.

QFW: [checks] And who are you the guest of?

Me: Em. Under invite of Makepeace in Human Resources.

QFW: That’s right.

Me: Um. I know.

I am issued with much paraphernalia to indicate that I have a right to be there and will not be bombing anyone or anything. And that I don’t have to pay for anything at all. Ever. Well. Today. Not even lunch. Today.

I am told that we have to be at a specific point in the exhibition centre at a specific time. At the time the next prime minister will arrive.

Which is where we are now.

FD: Daddy!

Favourite Son: Owww!

He’s ten minutes late now. This won’t do. If he can’t keep a simple appointment I don’t know how he expects to run the country. Christ. I’m never late for anything. Maybe I should get the job. Anyway. Doesn’t he know who I am? I write a blog that gets literally tens of hits every MONTH. I bet his doesn’t.

On the gangway above us lots of the short-hair big-hand men begin approaching. All the television people around us get quite animated. I see our next Prime Minister who doesn’t even have a blog and even if he did it would be rubbish compared to mine heading this way.

My eyes and brain do that weird ‘ooh I recognize you but from tele-vision so it’s a bit odd seeing you without a tele-vision in front of me’ thing.

FD: Daddy! I want to see the monsters!

Me: Two seconds sweetheart. Look. That’s the man who is going to be the boss of the whole country.

FD: Which one?

Me: Him.

FD: Oh.

She looks at a man in a suit. She’s seen one before. This is not an event.

FS: Owww.

Me: Oh you buffoon.

Our next Prime Minister begins to head down the stairs toward us.

48 hours previously. I am on my way home from work. I share the car with sister-in-law Makepeace. I say share. I sit in the passenger seat and offer money from time to time. It is never accepted. I do not push the matter.

Makepeace: Strange request for you.

Me: Oh?

Makepeace: Gordon Brown’s visiting our place. Some sort of meet-and-greet thing. It’s just. We’ve had a call and he wants plenty of children there. For him to be seen with. It’s his thing. Only photogenic ones though. He wants to be seen chatting to them. What do you think?

Me: Do I have to pay anything?

Makepeace: No. You’ll have to security vetted, but otherwise it’s a free day out.

Me: Fill your boots.

Makepeace: I’ll put your name down.

Me: Great. And I don’t have to pay anything?

Makepeace: Not even lunch.

Me: Great. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Dave Cameron.

Makepeace: It’s Gordon Brown.

Me: Mmm?

Anyway. He’s heading down the stairs toward us.

FD: Daddy!

Me: He’s coming now sweetheart.

FS: Owww!

Me: Silly sod.

FD: Daddy! I want to see the monsters!

Apparently it’s a very good exhibition. Life-sized models of mythical creatures.

He looks shorter than on the tele-vision. But also bulkier. He gives the impression that he is made of very dense Lego.

FD: Daddy!

In fairness we’ve been waiting fucking ages.

FD: Monsters!

There’s a dragon I’m told. I’m quite anxious to see it myself. Animatronic. Apparently there’s real smoke. It’s supposed to be huge.

Our next Prime Minister heads our way. But is distracted by a family consisting of slightly-less-attractive-than-my-own children.

FD: Daddy!

Do you know what? Fuck it. I want to see the fucking dragon as well.

Me: Come on you.

FD: Yaayy!

FS: Owww.

We walk off. He had his chance.

And there was real smoke and everything. Favourite Son was terrified. Favourite Daughter was ‘middle-scared’. It was brilliant.
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