Friday 25 June 2010

Jiggety jig

Home again, home again.

The silence has been thankfully shattered, and the blue-grey hue of an empty house has been replaced with a noisy technicolour racket.

My long standing belief that airplanes are several notches higher on the ‘germ spreading’ scale than say, being licked by an arse-picking tramp on the floor of a public toilet, has again been proven true. Mango’s snuffling, spluttering and coughing is evidence enough.

So while we hope it passes fast I’m just glad she came home.

Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes that blue-grey hue remains. Sometimes children leave their homes and never come back.

I was unsettled enough over three days to get an inkling of how shattering and traumatic it would be to be facing never seeing or hearing your child at home ever again.

That’s just one of the reasons why, in just over a week, I will join dozens of others in England to walk the width of the country along the Hadrian’s walk trail in support of the Joseph Salmon trust.
The trust offers financial support to families who have lost children, giving them a little breathing space during the lowest point imaginable.

I’m delighted with what has been raised so far, both through here, and in total. An overall target of 20,000 pounds is very achievable if people continue to give whatever they can, or spread the word in whatever way they can. A sugar daddy, or mammy, who craves a warm fuzzy feeling can get a quick fix by dropping a couple of (or twenty) grand into the pot.

It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve raised a single penny, fancy being my hero and helping out here?

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Solstice solace

June 21st was the longest day of the year, in every sense imaginable.

Yesterday was the first day that I hadn’t seen Mango from dawn till dusk. In what’s sounding a little like Alanis’ long lost verse, I left her and ET behind in Ireland the day before, father’s day.

The house is far too quiet, eerily echoing the way it was not even two years ago.

Our neighbour has been and come back from the shops, his two wee girls skipping ahead of him both ways, you notice these things when you sit on the coffee table for half an hour.

Mango’s welcome home present is lying in her playpen watching the television that’s turned on just to break the silence and I move about the house starting ten different things and completing none of them.

My little girl is back home, meeting and greeting, being passed from pillar to post, being poked and prodded with the best intentions. That’s an exhausting few days for someone so small and I want nothing more than to bring her to my shoulder so she can rest her head. Then maybe I can rest mine.

Just one more big sleep.

Monday 14 June 2010


90 minutes a day, normally, 2 hours if we get lucky.

That’s less than I spend driving.

Life and work and being responsible-ish squeeze most of the life out of us before I get to see Mango.

First thing in the morning, I peek into her cot and she is stretching from head to toe with excitement, grinning so wide you can’t tell if her ears are outside or inside her mouth.

For the next 10 or 11 hours she lives out her days, her walks, her snoozes, and her finger chewing - all while I’m elsewhere behind a laptop, speaking pigeon Dutch and all too often counting to ten.

At the end of the day she is just as pleasant as she was when it started, coyer perhaps, but full of smiles and dribbles saved up for me.

With four months having already flown by, should things have to remain on the same schedule it would be a true shame. Thankfully, and luckily, they don’t. Dutch law entitles both parents to 26 weeks parental leave, to be used, within reason, in any form they wish.

Because of this, I get to spend July getting it all back. Aside from the wee bit where I abandon my family, I have the entire month free when ET goes back to work. That leaves 22 of those 26 weeks, which I get to use 1 day at a time, once a week, for the next 2 years or more.

Thanks to some sensible parental leave legislation, from August onwards I’m cutting to 4 days a week.

From then on, Donderdag is ‘Papa dag’.

From then on, I get to do some serious squeezing back.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

No kissing on the lips

There’s always someone shaking their box in your face, looking for cash.

With so much good shaking action it’s terribly hard to decide when you should slip a few quid into a thong, and when you should wave her on in the hope that the next one along will be curvier with awful English, and a poor grasp of exchange rates.

I’ve shaken my box at you lot a few times now in the name of raising funds for the Joseph Salmon trust, and many of you have been wonderful and slipped crispy bills inside my g-string.

As with all whores, I’m hungry for more. I want more of your sweat stained bills grazing my thigh, I want to have more of your coppers lodge themselves in uncomfortable places.

The problem is though, why should you bother? How can I make my collection tin a more attractive place for your hard earned, pilfered, outright stolen, or alimonied cash?

I can’t really, other than give you a list of reasons.

The man who has organised the fundraising walk also arranged this:

That has got to be worth a few cents or pence surely.

I’m five and a half feet tall, if I walk 84 miles there is a good chance I will lose 15% of my pathetic height, my stubby legs will be worn and eroded to just above the ankles. My last miles will be mapped out with a bloody wet trail of oozing slime. Like a snail. Or a 55 year old midget prostitute.

It’s costing more to go on the walk than I’ve raised. That’s depressing. I could have stayed at home and donated the airfare instead and everyone would be happier. I could have continued to live out my life until I have that inevitable heart attack instead of probably reaching my demise at the bottom of some ravine in the North of England. But that would make the world a dreadfully sad place and you don’t want that to happen, do you?

You should be convinced by now as to the merits of throwing a few quid our way, but if you’re still not ready to dig behind the sofa cushions for the walk then I’ve only one reason left.

You can make a difference to a stranger who needs help. Someone like you, a family like yours, or your friends, or your neighbours. An everyday someone who has had their world turned upside down by the loss of a child. Someone who will be at their lowest, needing all their energy to look after themselves and other family members, and who can simply do without worrying about the electricity being cut off, or not being able to afford basic funeral costs, or having to go back to work too soon when they are needed at home.

Your fifty pence, or 1, 2, or 50 pounds donation helps that person.

If you would like to donate, you can do so here. If you would like to know more about why I think you should, you can do so here.

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.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Maybe she should learn a trade

Some people wake to trash metal stations, some to the dawn chorus, and some to the sound of rubbish bins being thrown around outside their window.

We wake to singing, in the most subjective and optimistic sense of the word.

She wakes slowly, first feasting on a breakfast in bed of fists and fingers, mumbling and babbling to herself along the way. This babbling leads her to remember she has real vocal chords and the screeching starts.

She must surely swallow all her consonants during the warm up, because by the time she’s in full flight there’s nothing to hear except for a string of vowels, randomly strung together and impossibly pronounced in the form of long screeching warbles reaching volumes that render the baby monitor redundant.

Sneaking a peek around the door at this performance I challenge anyone not to laugh. Lying there with a head of hair like a Liz Taylor wig, her sleep-suit spread around her like a 1980s wedding dress, and a face full of concentration. Her eyes rolling and tongue flapping around her chicken-like gums, arms extended straight and stiff with fists clenched while she belts out one never ending deafening note after another.

By the time she is working up a crescendo all that’s missing is strobe lighting, a key change, and a wind machine.

Les Pay-Bas, nul points.