Thursday 27 May 2010

Eviction and kumbaya

How do you celebrate the first anniversary of the fusing of a new human into existence?

You start the process of kicking them out of course.

Last night, for the first time, Mango slept in her own room.

Her eviction was borne from necessity rather than choice, since the wee maggot is growing like a weed and about to burst though the sides of her Moses basket.

Unfortunately she’ll have to remain in the basket in her new surroundings for a while longer until we solve a slight oversight on the part of her crib.

While she normally sleeps like a, well, baby, she occasionally needs a rocking to settle her. The crib weighs about the same as a garden shed, and is less mobile. As my first suggestion of shortening one of the legs to create rocking possibilities was shot down in a blaze of scorn and disgust, we’ll have to come up with an alternative.

Not only have we arranged for her to exit our bedroom, we’ve also put the wheels in motion for her to get out of the house completely by visiting her future daycare centre.

She sat in her sling as we walked around, giving her Princess Diana-esque bowed head coy smile to everyone who greeted her. By the time we were attacked by some strange poodle cross bred with a chicken in the garden she had nodded off and played no further part in the discussions.

She will be there 3 days a week from August onwards, enjoying life with young kids of various ages in what I can only describe as a somewhat ‘new age’ children’s haven.

It’s not quite at the level of shitting in the woods or weaving blankets from discarded pubic hair, but it was emphasized that they ‘solve everything with a hug’.

Everything except settlement of their extortionate bills no doubt, the thieving hippy bastards.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

The days of the dinosaurs

It seems like a million years ago since we regularly whispered in various waiting rooms waiting for ET’s name to be called. A million years since creaky seats, season old magazines, and questionable artwork.

It seems like a million years since the big black umbrella pooled rainwater around its silver tip as we waited in the lesser seen corridor behind the heavy door. A million years since we were finally called to come further.

It seems like a million years since ET took up her, by then all too familiar, position, spread-eagled at sitting head height. A million years since the niceties and pleasantries, ‘terrible weather last night’ before ‘now I’m going to insert it’.

A million years since ‘You can lie there and relax until you’re ready to go home.’ A million years from going home. A million years since a fortnight felt like a million years away.

It seems like a million years ago that the lack of clarity about what I believed in vanished. A million years since I realised that I believe in science and what it can achieve, in biology and what it cannot, in what I can touch, see, feel or hear. A million years since I knew I believe in people, their skills, what they say and do, since I knew I’d rather have a man in a white coat than one on a white cloud every single time.

It seems like a million years ago, but it’s only been one.

Wednesday 19 May 2010


I’m not the brightest.

Yes I come up with good ideas on rare occasions, but all in all I shouldn’t be allowed to do, or say, anything. Ever.

Approximately a year ago I was placed under the spell of a pied piper of podiatry punishment, and I agreed to walk across England with Dan and the rest of the children of Hamelin.

Aside from the fact it’s a rather odd idea to begin with, I have overlooked some of the more practical aspects of this endeavor.

First and foremost the fact that it will probably kill me.

84 miles across England, albeit the skinny bit, over the course of 6 days means walking about 15 miles each day. I can reasonably imagine myself walking even 20 on any given day, but I would be in need of bed rest and a bedpan for a fortnight.

Instead, after walking that on day one, I’ll have to get up and do it again on day two. And day three, day four, day five, and day six. I’m not a fit man, I really hadn’t thought this through.

As if to further illustrate my simplicity of mind, my preparation for this week of hill walking takes place here in Holland, also known as ‘the land of fuck all hills’. If you can prepare for hill walking while pushing a 12 week old in a pram, you’re doing something very wrong.

The nail in my impending coffin is said 12 week old. How can I be away from this for a whole week?

If you wish to show how sorry you feel for her, or me, or if you want to demonstrate how much you will enjoy following the details my excruciating physical pain, or if you just want to get behind the walkers in raising funds to help families who have lost children, you can do so here.

Regardless of how little or how much, every single donation is appreciated.

Neil and Rachael's story.
The official Joseph Salmon trust site.
The Hadrian’s Walk blog.
The Hadrian’s walkers donation site.
My personal donation site for the trust.

Friday 14 May 2010

Runaway train

They were right of course, the smug bastards.

It will go by so fast’.

It does. It has. 40 plus weeks of pregnancy have come and gone in a ridiculous flash, Mango is here and about to turn 12 weeks old.

Twelve bloody weeks old, in no time at all we’ve gone from measuring her existence in minutes, hours, or even days, to dozens of weeks. Months.

She still stares exactly as she did that very first time, that kind of unwavering, uncompromising stare that actors try to perfect in order to be dubbed 'the new Pacino'. For the rest, she’s constantly changing, evolving.

What strikes me most is her independence. That may sound ridiculous of someone who needs changing and feeding, but it’s her spark that’s independent, her spirit.

As long as someone is there to tend to her, she’s fine, she’s happy. She doesn’t need us, yet we couldn’t live without her, and my adult brain can’t quite get itself around that infant inspired realisation.

It comes down to this, she doesn’t know or care about what it took to get her here, she owes us nothing, and neither should she. The weight of what went before is for us to carry, not her.

At 12 weeks old she has probably already needed us as much as she ever will as a child. Depressingly, but rightly, as it should be.

It goes by so fast.

Smug bastards.

Saturday 8 May 2010


Haaai’ she says, if you haven’t shoved your face in front of hers in a while.

That’s ‘Hello’ to you and me. Not so much a welcoming hello but edging more towards that sarcastic fake teeth filled smiley hello that groups of girls use amongst themselves on a night out.

Eh’ is her ‘Meh’. She usually rolls this one off in conjunction with a sigh and a scornful glance before turning her head in the opposite direction. To be interpreted in no other way than ‘you haven’t amused me with that sound or stupid face, so piss off’.

A very pitiful sounding ‘Mmmboo’ means she’s knackered. Stop trying to keep her awake as she’s flat out exhausted and things will only deteriorate rapidly until you ensure that she finds herself in a prime position to have an uninterrupted snooze. ‘Mmmboo’ is often joined by sad baby face.

Like many Dutch words, her ‘Ngong’ has a couple of meanings. Namely ‘give me a bottle now’ and ‘I’m about to scream my head off through starvation’. Take the bottle from her mouth mid-feed and you are likely to be bombarded with a string of ‘Ngong ngong ngong’s.

'Nnngh, nnngh, nnngh’ is especially for me. When it is accompanied with a frown and a reddening face literally translates to ‘Daddy quick! Make an excuse to leave me with Mammy because I’m in the process of filling this nappy with something that will turn you off your lunch.

Gaaaaaaah ef ef ef muhm muhm aaaheeuw’ highlighted with two big headlamp eyes almost certainly means, ‘Please go read this. Please, please, please help daddy help that big sweaty Englishman raise funds for a trust that helps families who have lost children. Normal families just like yours, or your neighbour’s, or your friends, who face financial difficulties during the darkest times they are likely to face. You can help someone simply by donating any amount at all here.

She may sound a wee bit pushy, but she has a point.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

The Nederlander

I’ve had ten of them.

Friday was the tenth ‘Koninginnedag’ I’ve had the dubious pleasure of experiencing.

Ten times I’ve seen the Dutch national holiday come and go in its usual sea of orange clothing, odd songs, and untimely downpours. Yet not once have I ever particularly enjoyed it, other than as an excuse to imbibe that little bit extra. Not a surprise I suppose, being a foreigner.

I wonder about Mango though, technically she is Irish, despite her birthplace, but for all intents and purposes she’s going to have her early years surrounded by the same things that every other little Dutch girl has.

Her Irish passport is winging its way to us as we speak, albeit probably via the hands of an Israeli assassin, or first being used as an incentive for an Arab billionaire to invest in some Galway based businesses. Should it eventually arrive in one piece it will be the only thing to set her aside from all her peers at school or daycare.

She will be sung Dutch songs, will be told Dutch fairy tales, and will play Dutch games with her little Dutch friends.

She’ll be cycling before she can walk, having cheese for breakfast, and talking with a funny accent.

We’re raising a foreigner.

A cute one though.