Here is ‘The News’

October 12, 2016

This school book, which Myers Jr brought home last night, was published in 1991. It’s hopelessly outdated (as you’d expect), with illustrations of ‘aerials’ and ‘television transmitters’. There’s also some ever-so-subtle political bias, which, given education’s ‘liberal’ reputation, is unsurprising. Plus ça change and all that.

So without any further ado, here is…


This looks like some sort of teachers’ march. In 1991, the ideal school is a school of peace. EDUCATION NOT NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION is the rallying cry. I like to think Jeremy Corbyn is somewhere in shot, like a CND edition of Where’s Wally.


1990s Philip Hayton (whatever happened to him?) looks serious. As he should be – look at all the news he has to report from all over the world, every day.


First up, a Poll Tax march. Note the obligatory ‘woman in dungarees’ on the right, and the little old lady who appears to have brought her grandkids on the left. Myers Jr says, “It looks like a party”. That’s right son. A COMMUNIST PARTY.


Next up. Ecological disasters. I can only assume that oily cormorants were deemed too distressing for young children. Regardless, OIL IS BAD.


Finally, a terrifying giant-headed mutant attack. I don’t remember much about this, to be honest. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES EVERYONE!


Moving swiftly on, here is John Humphrys shouting at what looks like an Open University lecturer who has strayed on to the set of the Nine o’Clock News. In 1991 news readers, as you see, are all male. Luckily, the director is a woman – what glass ceiling?


Meanwhile, Peter Snow grills Roy Hattersley in a deserted conference hall. We zoom in on Roy. There is quiet desperation in his eyes. Will he ever see a Labour Government? Not for another six years, Roy.


Finally, a snapshot of what we can learn from TV. That, in addition to man-made disasters, natural ones are occurring every day. That the West Indies cricket team are unbeatable. That Americans like parades.

And that, apparently, the only thing we do in England is go on marches. Insert your own Jeremy Corbyn gag here.

No news is good news

December 7, 2015

I’ve started turning the radio off if the news comes on when the kids are around.

There’s probably some sort of parenting advice wisdom that says that shielding our children from the world outside is an AWFUL THING TO DO, but I don’t care. The juxtaposition of their innocent little faces and reports of the vicious world we live in makes me unbearably sad.

Myers Major, being the observant little bugger that he is, has called me out on it. “I know why you don’t like listening to the news, daddy. It’s because it’s always bad news. Every time you listen to it, people die.”

All very heartwarming and a genuine ‘lump in the throat’ moment. But looking back on it, I’m now grinning because it reminds me of this joke:

Halfway through a U2 gig, Bono asks the audience for some quiet. Then he starts to slowly clap his hands.

Holding the audience in total silence he says, “Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.”

A lone voice from the audience pierces the silence.

“Stop fucking clapping then!”


President Who: One weekend, two momentous events

November 21, 2013


If they haven’t started already, the next few days will see plenty of people attempting to tell you where they were the day President Kennedy was assassinated. I’m afraid I’m about to join them.

My account of the incident won’t help our understanding of it or provide much of a snapshot of life in 1960’s Britain, but it was certainly a significant event of my childhood. So I’m recording it here because, one, some horrible illness may one day prevent me from remembering it with any clarity, and two, the act of writing it down rather than telling you orally means I won’t see you start scanning the room for someone more interesting to talk to.

So. It’s a Friday evening in Bournemouth, England. My dad has to collect something from the home of his mother-in-law who lives about a mile away. He doesn’t want to do this at all…

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Walthamstow sticks it to The Man.

March 5, 2013

Wandering through Walthamstow this morning, I noticed this artist’s impression of what’s being proposed for the new Arcade Site.

All the usual retail suspects are featured, including Starbucks, Pizza Express and Sainsbury’s. The names had been altered slightly, as (I assume) the companies in question hadn’t signed up yet and this was, after all, an impression. So Nando’s becomes “Pando’s” and Pizza Express is changed to “Pizza Impress”.


A more detailed examination of the visual shows that perhaps the artist isn’t as enamoured of the plans as the developers are, as you’ll see from the close-ups of some of the changed names below. Apologies for the poor picture quality.


See what they did there? Because Sainsbury’s are an evil corporate pain. They’ve also doctored the “Live well for less” strapline to “Live less well”.


What word ending in “GA” might be obscured by the tree?
It couldn’t be MEGA could it?

Kudos to whoever sneaked these through the approval process.

Simply wonderful advertising

March 4, 2013

Every now and then a TV ad comes along that needs no comment.

DLKW Lowe’s 90″ spot for Marie Curie Cancer Care is one of them.

Having said that it needs no comment, I just wanted to share why I like it so much.

It doesn’t try too hard. There is no intrusive voiceover. The ad speaks for itself.

And then there’s the beautiful last line.

“Your last moments should mean as much as your first.”

Simple. Powerful. Wonderful.

Wear a daffodil. Make a difference.

Days with Tom 8. Thank you for the days.

February 28, 2013

Hey Tom,

In January, I was alerted to an iPhone app called Life In Seconds. The premise is lovely – you record one second of video a day and the app stitches them together to create a short video. So I downloaded it and started filming.

So far, so good. But then I discovered iMovie. (It just goes to show how technologically illiterate I am that it’s taken so long for this to happen.) This let me take my Life in Seconds movie, cut it and add a soundtrack – can you see where this is going yet?

And finally, I realised that I could post my film on YouTube (I know, I know – it’s not rocket science but, like I said, I’m tech-illiterate). And then I could embed that film into this blog.

So… Here’s the first two months of 2013 Tomfoolery, set to the delightful Charmed Life by The Divine Comedy (which, due to copyright issues, is why the video is blocked in Canada, Germany, Saint Pierre and Miquelon).

Given the title of this post, maybe it should have been Days by The Kinks. Anyway, it’s pretty rough and ready, the quality’s quite ropey and the player is tiny. Hopefully in time I’ll get better at this sort of thing.

But it’s from the heart, and I hope you like it.


Dad xx

Days with Tom 7. Sick days.

February 26, 2013

A Sick Boy, yesterday.

Hey Tom,

So you’ve been a sick boy these past few days. Not just poorly or a bit under the weather. I’m talking full-on parmesan-scented, tomato-skin-packed, when-the-hell-did-you-eat-that sick.

It all started on Thursday night. You went to bed, looking all smart in your big boy pyjamas and clutching your (soon to be washing machine-bound) Mister Monty.


“Night mum! Night dad! See you in the morning! And not in two hours, covered in sick! Definitely not!”

A couple of hours later, you woke up bawling. We rushed into your bedroom to find a scene reminiscent of Mister Creosote’s restaurant. It was in your hair. On your face. All over your pyjamas. Everywhere.

And all I wanted to do was pick you up, give you a cuddle and tell you everything was going to be all right. And then go and change my T-shirt.

Anyway, we hosed you down, changed the sheets, dug out some clean PJs and put you back to bed.

And then, a couple of hours later, we had to do it all over again. Sigh.

You were incredibly brave – if it had been me, I’d have been moaning about it for ages and complaining that I still had sick in my ear (sorry about missing that bit, by the way). I’m very proud of you.

Next morning, you seemed much brighter. We gave you some milk. You guzzled it with gusto. Well, you can probably guess what happened next. A day on the sofa beckoned.


“Mister Monty says more CBeebies please.”

Now, I quite enjoy being ill. I like lying around watching rubbish telly. And it turns out, you do too – that’s my boy. Unfortunately, we don’t share the same televisual tastes. While I was all for a Star Wars marathon, you insisted on Baby Jake.


Goggi Geeaaaaghmakeitstop!

Baby Jake Loves Waving. Baby Jake Loves Spinning A Web. Baby Jake Loves Musical Statues. Baby Jake Loves A Picnic Feast. Baby Jakes Lo…ENOUGH WITH BABY JAKE! PLEASE! I GET IT! BABY JAKE LOVES STUFF! CAN’T WE JUST WATCH SOMETHING A BIT MORE GROWN-UP LIKE JUSTIN’S HOUSE? Aaaand relax.

In fairness, I did convince you to watch WALL•E, which is the greatest animated film known to man.

So it wasn’t all bad, was it?

Days with Tom 6. Soppy days

February 6, 2013

Hey Tom.

Yesterday I left work in a bit of a bad mood. Too many people saying too many stupid things without thinking. Or, worse, saying stupid things after thinking.

The bad mood lasted all the way through the interminable bus journeys and packed tube rides.

It was still there when I arrived home. But then I looked up at the bedroom window and saw you and mummy looking out for me.

I watched your face light up in a big smile when you saw that daddy was back. And the bad mood was gone. Just like that.

You’re the world’s greatest anti-depressant.

I’m reminded of this song, by The Divine Comedy.

I hope you like it.

Days with Tom #5. Christmas Days

January 11, 2013

Iiiiiiiiiiiiit’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaas!

Well, Tom. This is a momentous, erm, moment. The first post of 2013. A belated happy New Year to you, my lovely little lad.

This brings the total number of posts to a massive five in nearly two years. Even by my apathetic standards, that’s quite impressive. You should be proud of your old man.

So, what’s occurring then? Well, your second Christmas came and went. Unlike your first festive experience, when you were more interested in boxes and paper than the actual contents, you seemed to ‘get’ what was going on. Apart from thinking that Christmas is Santa’s birthday – but, hey, you’re not even two yet and we’ve got plenty of time to sort out the whole ‘Baby Jesus’ thing.

Talking of Santa, we took you to see him this year. You weren’t scared, just a tad overwhelmed (and somewhat out of focus). You asked him (via mummy) for “choc-choc”. You got a paint set. Silly Santa.


“Where’s my chocolate, fat man?”
“Don’t talk to your father like that.”

Going to see the fat guy in the red suit was just one rite of passage that got me a little teary-eyed and choked up. It’s just another sign that my little lad is growing up fast.

Another rite of passage was leaving a sherry and mince pie out on Christmas Eve. I love this photo – there’s a sort of innocent wonder that I hope you’ll always keep (Oh dear, did I just write that? It looks like the manopause is fast approaching).


“Mmm, forbidden mince pie.”

And of course, every family must sit down and watch The Snowman together. Except this year it was The Snowman and The Snowdog. You liked it a lot. So much so that we watched it over and over again. And each time you didn’t quite understand why daddy would get so leaky in the eye department.

It happens when you get older, son. Trust me – it happens a lot.

Days with Tom #4. A Moving Story.

July 10, 2012

Hello Tom,

On Friday 29 June, we packed up our belongings and said a fond farewell to 71 Northbank Road (big shout out to the boys from Grays Storage and Removals for doing such a great job, by the way). You were at Mama Shan’s that day, thank goodness. I don’t think I could have coped with moving sofas while a little whirling dervish barreled around the place. No offence, but you can be a bit of a handful.

Anyway, leaving Florence Villa was a little bit emotional. You weren’t, ahem, ‘made’ there (you were an Argentina baby) and you weren’t born there (although that was the plan, until you refused to come out on time). But the day we brought you back from the hospital, you turned our house into a family home. One that smelled of baby poo, admittedly, but there you go.

You worked wonders for our relationship with our neighbours, too. Even though we’d lived there for 12 years, we never really spoke to many people on our road. But as soon as you arrived, we started to get to know them. You were even given a rather fetching hand-knitted bobble hat.

Baby Dappy was unimpressed by his new headgear.

You’re a wonderful conversation-starter, you know. In the early days I would take you out in your pram to give your mum a well-earned break. People would stop us to look at you and ask the usual questions. Is this your baby? What’s his name? How old is he? Who are you again?

Of course, we didn’t meet that many people, what with it being 5am. But those we did meet were very nice and didn’t bat an eyelid at the tired man wearing his coat over his pyjamas (they were probably  too busy looking at the gorgeous little baby to notice, anyway).

Now, 18 months later, we’ve got a whole new neighbourhood to explore. It’s going to be fun.

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