Thursday, 8 December 2016

Checking my phone in front of my son. But I really couldn't help it, honest! #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you feel bad for checking your phone, even though you can't avoid it.


I had to pick up Dad from a really routine thing at the hospital. They make sure that someone comes to pick them up so that they get home safely.

It was Half-Term, what a great chance to take my 7 year-old to London!

He'd get to see Grandad, who's always funny when he's drunk on anaesthetic.

(I love piling him into a cab in that state, explaining to the driver that it's not booze. It'd be great to have my boy there too.
Like a lads' day out.
A beano, as Dad would call it).
What could possibly go wrong.

We hit the South Bank on the first off-peak train, ready to get the call from the hospital. And I'm showing him all the places where Daddy works really hard every day, writing his scenes that are shared online with an eager international audience forever.

Trouble is, he is really good at spotting logos.

"Is that the place we had noodles once?"
What, Wagamama?
"Oooh, I LOVE Wagamama."
You've had it, like, once.
"I REALLY want to eat THERE!"
But... can't we get some cheese and some bread... from the supermarket.
And eat it in the park?
"Oooh, Daddy. I REALLY want a Wagamama's."

But it's 11 o'clock.
And it's really pricey.
(I can't remember if I said that last bit out loud).

"Oooooh. Pleeeeeeeeeease."

I'm torn.
I've got my boy. And I know my days with him are finite.
And we won't get times like this again, ever.

But, I've also got my mortgage. And I know our cash is finite.
And I don't want to end up bankrupt, ever.

So we go in.
Maybe we could walk to the hospital to claw back a couple of quid, if we eat now.

I order the noodle dish he LOVES. And a side dish of dumplings for me.
(A side dish that would pay for an entire meal lower down the High Street chain).

The place is empty.
It's so early, the staff are having their morning briefing right next to us and we get a whole bench for 10 to ourselves.

This is living.

I'll just check the hospital haven't called and--

I miss something.

A Tattooed Waitress In Shorts is bearing down on me.
"I was just checking... to see if your CHILD is okay..."

Is she saying it pointedly, glaring at the phone in my hand?

"Oh, okay th--" but she's already stomping off.

Oh... She thinks I'm one of THOSE parents.
Who aren't in the moment - who look at their phones more than their kids.

I don't know why this is bugging me so much - that I've been busted for a crime I did not commit (when I've got so much else to be busted for.)

And now, ironically, I'm really not enjoying the rest of this experience, because I'm trying to overly-show the Tattooed Waitress In Shorts that I'm COMPLETELY with my boy and giving him all the attention he needs.

And then Dad calls. He's due out and really looking forward to leaving now, and we're at least 40 minutes away from him.

We've got to ditch these steep noodles.
So I'm wolfing them down now because I really don't want them to get wasted.

And yeah.
That's when I'm totally clocked again by the Tattooed Waitress In Shorts.
Slurp.
Beep.



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Five biggest complaints of High Street sexbots... #BritishDadStuff



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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Five biggest complaints of High Street sexbots... #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you're the last to hear about the latest High Street trends.


They say the news you need to know will find its way to you.

All I've seen is a story about a chain of sexbot cafes coming to the UK (or rather the other way round).

I didn't even make it to those shops where the fish nibble your feet.

Five things you don't want to hear from the High Street sexbots:

5.
"Please place your items in the bagging area."

4.
"Further assistance is required."

3.
"Would you like to Gift Aid that?"

2.
"Please clear your own tables."

1.
"Don't forget to touch out."

Did I miss any?

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How much life-expectancy would you trade for a Chromecast? #BritishDadStuff


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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

How much life-expectancy would you trade for a Chromecast? #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...even your Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) is handing over her life in her head for the home's gadgets.


INT. OUR CAR, NORTHBOUND ON THE M3 - AFTERNOON

I'M DRIVING. MY LONG-SUFFERING WIFE (LSW) IS PASSENGER SIDE.

LONG-SUFFERING WIFE (LSW):
I think... I would hand over some life-expectancy... just to have the Chromecast.

ME:
A Chromecast?

LSW:
Yes. I'll say it. The Chromecast is so good, I would trade it for some life-expectancy. It's that good.

ME:
What, 12 years? You'd lose 12 years for a Chromecast.

LSW:
No. I suppose there are boundaries on that.

ME:
Six months.

LSW:
No, not that much.

ME:
6 weeks. (OFF LSW) 6 to 10 weeks.

LSW:
That's a good deal.

ME:
You'd only be weeing in a bag anyway.

LSW:
And, it's for a gadget that'd be good for say, 10 years?

ME:
And it'd be used a lot through them.

A PAUSE.

LSW:
Course, all that wi-fi is going to kill us.

WE NOD.


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My Boris Bike Crash 5th Anniversary - the night I opened my eyes in A&E #BritishDadStuff


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Monday, 5 December 2016

My Boris Bike Crash 5th Anniversary - the night I opened my eyes in A&E #BritishDadStuff


(It's a self-a&e)

You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you end up in hospital, for yourself.


Happy 5th Boris Bike crash birthday to me,
Happy 5th Boris Bike crash birthday to me,
I was knocked out for five hours,
and then woke up in A&E.


I was cycling to Waterloo through Holborn Circus at 18:30 on 5th December 2011.

Literally, the next image in my head is looking up at an NHS ceiling.
At 23:30.

I didn't know it then, but 5 hours had vanished.
I am 5 hours younger, and using every minute of it.

I had a big neck cage on my head, I was in a corridor, and I could feel my clothes had been cut off.

I asked a passing nurse "Where am I?" and she told me: "The London Hospital, in Whitechapel." I'd had a bike accident in Shoe Lane.

Huh.
I was dosed up nicely.
But my face felt weird.

It was like I was checking bits of my body for the very first time, without moving.
Some teeth were missing. And my lips were stitched.
And I couldn't remember a thing after turning out of Holborn Circus.

The road layout was different then - a terrifying mini-roundabout round a statue that's now moved. (Here's what it looks like in 2008)

After turning onto St. Andrew Street, I always looked over my right shoulder as sometimes I'd have a car up my bum on the run down.
But I don't remember that bit.
I think that's how I crashed.

(Embarrassingly, no-one else was involved.
The Boris Bike basket has a really high centre of gravity.
If you use one, never put your bag in there.
Unless you've got really fat feet and backside).

About a week after the accident, I tried tracking down the City of London police officer who was first on the scene. He'd kindly called my wife from the roadside to let her know what had happened and where I was going.

I wanted to thank him for helping me.

Turns out he'd even checked AND docked my Boris Bike, so I didn't have to sort out a fine.

But really it was bugging me that the policeman told her that I was "a bit of a character."

Uh-oh.

I'm not a character. I am really not a character.

I do not remember one single thing about the aftermath, and I just wanted to know that I hadn't said anything stupid to him.

I sent some wild emails from the A&E bed with my head injury which didn't make sense, and it was around the time of Occupy London.

I felt sick that I'd said something dumb to him, and even dumber almost certainly because growing up in London with school and scout trips to City police stations I think City of London Police are awesome.

I tracked him down via the control room (who remembered the incident and wished me well - I think they get curious about how things turn out), and I got to ask him: what the hell did I say?

A passing taxi driver had flagged him down to get him first on the scene.
(As a cab-driver's son, I liked this detail. London looks after its own.)

He said that I didn't have a clue where I was and I kept asking him if I was going to die.

Seems the brain protects us really well. I do not remember one word of this.

"But this was strange, Neil, you were really good with numbers. You knew your date of birth and even helped guide me through the security pin on your phone."

I do not remember one number of this.

In my head, it's one continuous flow: Turning off Holborn Circus, Hospital ceiling.
Not one beat in between.


Anyway, it changed the course of what I started blogging about, because here's the top ten list I wrote soon after.



10
Face looks like a themed Google logo. Changes by the day.

9
Being known to a handful of healthcare professionals affectionately as ‘that bloke who had the Boris Bike crash’.

8
Talking like Louis Spence.



7
Chunks falling off face like an maxillofacial advent calendar. Festive.

6
Patronising kids in the supermarket who stare to ‘always wear a bike helmet’, like some kind of deranged 1950s superhero.

5
Looking like a vagrant whose stuff never gets touched. Also festive.



4
Hours spent concussed equals hours not spent hearing about Eurozone crisis.

3
Drinking through a straw makes 2 year old son feel superior.

2
Finally being able to look my hero Erik Estrada in the eye.
We both know what this is like.


1
Looking like a Hitler cat.
Or the bloke from Sparks.
Or Blakey from On The Buses.




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When people put things in bold in messages to me but not everything #BritishDadStuff


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Sunday, 4 December 2016

When people put things in bold in messages to me but not everything #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...no-one feels like they are being clear with you.


ME:
Hi, I don't know how to say this. So please know that it comes from a really kind place.

EMAILER:
Sure. What's the PROBLEM?

ME:
It's... it's the emails you send me. (THEN) You keep putting bits of them IN BOLD. It's... kind of annoying.

EMAILER:
But I do it to punch through IMPORTANT DETAILS. So you don't miss them.

ME:
But it's like this one here. You've put the DATE IN BOLD! I already know that's an important deadline. Because the words next to it are "This is an important deadline".

EMAILER:
I'm just being super-clear though. So you instantly see the IMPORTANT DATE!

ME:
I know. And I know my attention isn't the best and huh, movie actress Emma Stone cut her foot at a party.

EMAILER:
So I make sure the MESSAGE IS HEARD.

ME:
I know, but it's a little embarrassing. Like I can't be trusted to read an email. Urgent politics. I'll click on that petition later.

EMAILER:
You're upset that I'm just making my emails CLEAR AND EASIER ON THE EYE.

ME:
Yes. Right! If it's that crucial... why don't you just leave only the important bits in the message? Instead of putting SOME OF IT IN BOLD and nothing else? Do you see? It's a bit insulting.

EMAILER:
Okay. I'll stop doing it.
(THEN) ON THE NEXT EMAIL.
(SINGS) I WILL USE A LARGER FONT. INSTEAD.

ME:
Ooh. Ricky Martin's trending in Japan.


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McDonalds salads are like dogs balancing treats on noses and 50-56 other Great British Dad Thoughts #BritishDadStuff


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Saturday, 3 December 2016

McDonalds salads are like dogs balancing treats on noses and 50-56 other Great British Dad Thoughts #BritishDadStuff



As a Great British Dad, I have thoughts, hopes and dreams.
Here are the ones I'm having this week.


Sunday 4th December
I got bored sending out change of address emails, and now everyone from P onwards lost me.

Monday 5th December
Me ordering a salad in McDonalds is a bit like a dog balancing a treat on its nose.

Tuesday 6th December
If some air escapes you, the most important call in our house is whether it's forced or accidental.

Wednesday 7th December
Imagine cavemen going for a weekend in a different cave. Or native Navajo pulling themselves away from the bison for a fortnight. I don't think holidays were invented by men.

Thursday 8th December
I listen so badly, I don't know if my wife is talking to me or OK Google. My family now get me with "OK Daddy."

Friday 9th December
That TV presenter does so many adverts that I forget what she wants me to buy next.

Saturday 10th December
We should be kind to the workers at the companies we hate. If they treat us like that, god knows how they treat the staff.



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The Night I Shaved My Head Forever #BritishDadStuff


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Friday, 2 December 2016

The Night I Shaved My Head Forever #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you have got all your own hair. In handfuls. On the floor.


I don't think I've ever written about this: the first night I shaved my head, forever.

CAPTION:
London. My flat. The landing. 8th April 2003. 19:32

SHUFFLING THROUGH THE REMINGTON BOX PLASTIC HAIR GUIDE CLIPS.
LIKE A HAMFISTED SNIPER.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Baldy is going for it. Let's do it.
Where's a 1. I'll go for a number 1.

ANGLE ON: MEASUREMENTS EMBOSSED ON MORE HAIR GUIDES.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Is a number 1 point one inch... or one m.m.?

ANGLE ON: 0.5MM

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Half a millimetre. That'll do it.

DOWN GOES THE TAPER ARM.
READY FOR THE HIT.
LIKE A PRO.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
And no taper. So... this is it.

REVEAL: ME IN THE MIRROR. NAKED FROM THE WAIST UP.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
No more visits to Ben. Feels like I'm cheating on him.

A CHUNK COMES OFF THE SIDE. IT FLOATS TO THE CARPET.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
No going back now. God, I'll miss those chats.
If your Ex is using him now, it's time to move on.

HALF A HEAD'S WORTH IS GONE. I STARE IN SHOCK.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Man...

MY POV: THE BARE LIGHTBULB ABOVE.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
I can feel it from here.

SWINGING MY HEAD FROM SIDE TO SIDE, COMPARING FEELING THE HEAT FROM THE LIGHT.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Shaved. Normal. Shaved. Normal. (THEN) Huh.

I MOVE INTO THE BATHROOM. THE REST COMES OFF.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Oh my God. I'm free. (RUBS HEAD) Shaved blonde.

MY POV: A PILE OF HAIR IN THE SINK.

ME:
(VOICEOVER)
Is that still blonde?

SCOOPING OUT A CLUMP OUT BY HAND.

ME:
(OUT LOUD, A LA CHAS AND DAVE)
Hair, hair, hair, hair, I've got none on me noddle.

(DANCING OUT ONTO LANDING)
But I don't care as down the road I toddle.

(KICKS CLUMP ON FLOOR, BUT MISSES)
The girls all shout, here comes the thoroughbred,
But I don't care, I've got no hair.
Proud of me old bald head!

(SCRATCHES FURIOUSLY)
AhhhHHH.


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Why do other families' homes smell so different? #BRITISHDADSTUFF


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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Why do other families' homes smell so different? #BRITISHDADSTUFF



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you know and like the smell of your own home.


Ever notice how other families' homes smell different?

Dog kennels and Elephant houses all smell like each other.
We're the same kind of animals. Why do all our homes smell so different?

Is it a genetic, biological thing - a way of knowing that you're back at home?

Or is it meant to be a big turn-off?

Your home smells bad to me to drive off anyone that's not close family, who will waste your precious resources.

Your resources stink to me. So I will not stay here so long to use them.

You always notice it the most getting home from the car boot sale.

This is why we've got to go to a field to sell off our stuff.
Fresh air.
Nice neutral smell for the things.

And then you get the stuff you've bought home and "phwooar!"
It stinks!

And you're there, cleaning all the dust out fo the crevices.
Trying to get rid of that smell.
That smell that was there to keep you away from the stuff in the first place.


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Hello, how are you? How to get the best from the worst phonecall, or anyone #BritishDadStuff


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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Hello, how are you? How to get the best from the worst phonecall, or anyone #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad...
...when you've got to book an appointment with someone who sounds like they hate you and every other caller.


I had to book a completely routine appointment.

I called the number at a major Big City hospital far away - even though it's for an appointment in my town.

I book it and I've not done this before, so I ask where was it.

CALL LADY:
"Well I don't know, do I. I'm based at the Big City Hospital."

ME:
"Okay"

(TRY AND KEEP IT BRIGHT)

ME:
"Um, sorry, but do you know where it is or where I'm supposed to go?"

CALL LADY:
"No, I just told you. I'm not in your town. I'm in the Big City Hospital, in the Big City."

(MY VOICE NOW STRAINING WITH SPRINGINESS).

ME:
"Okay, well... this has been great!"

And I hang up.

You know when a chat ends, and it was not good for either of you?

It was one of those.

Believe it or not, I don't go into the world to spread misery.

And now I'm paranoid.

Shouldn't she have checked my contact details?
Ask me my date of birth?
Did that appointment even just get booked?

And it gets worse.
I told my LSW (Long-Suffering Wife) about it and she said we wouldn't be back in our town that early and yes I would have to call back the Big City Hospital to change it to a different time.

ME:
"But I'm scared.
She might snap at me again.
Maybe the X-rays zapped her too much."

LSW:
"Sorry, you've just got to do it. "

And I'm on hold, daydreaming Danny Boyle's Olympics Ceremony Tribute to the NHS having dithery know-nothings being told off by entitled jobsworths for not knowing their system.

We didn't see them because we didn't know where to find them and missed the appointment.

And then it hit me: I need to go completely crazy happy on this call.

"Hello!"
I singsonged.

"How are you?"
said like we'd been sleeping together for the month.

"I'm good thanks!"
The sheer force of energy I think I heard is making her smile.

"I need to check an appointment please!"
I said like a six year-old doing role play in the Home Corner.

"What's the name?"
she chirruped.

I've got to front this out. She'll know it's me.
So I spelt it out, making the phonetics as saucy as possible.

"M for Mother, O for OMG! S for sex-ahy, another S for some more sex-ahy, E for... Elephant Man, Y for... Yes."

(I ran out by the end).

Got the appointment moved - over to the Big City Hospital.

I went too far.


So now I'm one month into my experiment:
Every single time I talk to someone in person or on phone, I always try
"Hello, how are you?"

(I only forgot to do it once, and that thing happened in the supermarket).

It's still working.
Today I got a free coffee.


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Tell me why... I don't like Cyber Mondays #BritishDadStuff


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