Archive for the ‘Days with Tom’ Category

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.

Days with Tom #3. The Clip Show.

May 30, 2012

Hey Tom. Remember how I said I was going to document our days together? Remember how I warned you of my innate laziness? Well, one month on from my last post to you, I think you can guess what happened.

Yep. Nothing.

It’s annoying, because we’ve had so much fun together. Like… [CUE WIDDLY WEE HARP MUSIC AND WOBBLY VISUALS]

Getting you up in the morning

Ah, a freshly woken baby. Toasty warm. Can’t be beaten. OK, it would be great if you woke up a little bit later than HALF PAST FIVE EVERY FUCKING MORNING but once you’ve got past that, how can you not love this?

“Ah, Mr Daddy. We’ve been expecting you. I’ve done a poo by the way.”

Our morning constitutional.

This has become a firm favourite. (No, not a poo. A walk.) We roam the streets looking for cats to point at and dogs to be disconcerted by. A couple of days ago you were licked by a three-legged black lab. You didn’t like it. The licking bit, not the three-leggedness.

What I like about our trips out is that no-one bats an eyelid at a hungover daddy wandering the streets with a small baby wearing pyjamas and wellies. Mainly because it’s six in the morning and no-one else is around to see it. I like the fact that you’ve decided to come out with a book. Just in case the walk gets too dull.


“Yay! Walking! PJs! Wellies! Book!”

Shortly after this picture was taken, you wanted to go home. Only another 12 hours to go before bedtime, which is why I thank God for…


Peppa Pig DVDs. Octonauts on Series Link. Baby Jake. Nothing keeps a baby occupied better than TV.

“Shh. Postman Pat’s on. Now go and get me some juice.”

Obviously we don’t watch the commercial channels, Tom. Children’s programming should follow the Reithian mantra of “inform, educate and entertain”. Notice the absence of “distract” . Reith obviously never had a small child running around his house.

How else do we spend the day? Well, we lunch. By crikey we lunch. We’ve been to Mr Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurants in Stratford and Canary Wharf a few times, popped over to Eat 17 for a Mac ‘n’ cheese (‘n’ Malbec) and occasionally, we’ve had lunch at our desks (or in your case, in your chair).

Post-lunch, we build massive Babel-esque towers, run around and refuse to go to sleep.

Well, I say “we”. It’s more “you”. Personally I’d kill for an afternoon nap.

No? Oh well. You carry on with the whole tower thing.

“I shall build a tower whose top may reach unto heaven. Actually, can I go to the park now?”

Only a few hours till mum gets home.

Days with Tom #2. Fantastic Day, by Haircut 1.

April 30, 2012

Hello Tom.

Well Wednesday 25/04/12 was pretty cool.

It started, as mornings usually do, with a bit of sofa time. Because daddy needs a while to gather himself before the day ahead. This is not a eupehmism for hungover. Honest.

It wasn’t unproductive, though. We got to look at mummy’s bra catalogue, which you found incredibly funny.

“Hahahahahaha! Babies drink from these! Hahahahahaha! Stupid babies!”

Later, when daddy managed to unpeel himself from the sofa (after Octonauts, naturally) we got dressed. For today there was to be no slobbing. Oh no. Today was haircut day.

Now you’ve had your hair cut before. It was a while back and our tactic was, to paraphrase a fellow parent, “to sneak up on you while watching CBeebies and lop chunks off”. (Her name is Elizabeth, she’s very funny and if you’re on The Twitter, you can follow her here.)

But this time it was to be a professional job. We went to a place called Lotolie in Walthamstow Village. Your behaviour was impeccable.

“Yeah, just a bit off the top, tidy up the back & sides. No gel.”

“Off anywhere nice for your holidays?”
“Well we might go to the park later.”

“Yeah, lovely. Good job. Bit more off the fringe maybe?”

Your haircut cost six quid. Now, I pay that for my haircut, but I don’t get toy cars to play with.

Afterwards, we did lunch. Because lunch is what daddy does. Even on his day off.

We went to a lovely place called Eat 17 (see what they did there?). You were unsure what to order.

Like the Sugarcubes said. “Eat the menu.”

In the end, you plumped for the macaroni cheese, accompanied by a cheeky apple juice (Del Monte ’99 unless I’m very much mistaken). Daddy had Merguez and Malbec. Don’t tell mummy.

Sadly we got rained in, so we had to have afters. I never knew such a small baby could consume so much ice cream. I had a chocolate brownie (well, what little I could rescue from your gaping maw).

“Mmm. I’m Michael Winner baby and that was delicious. Pay the lady, old man.”

Replete, we headed home.

When we got back, daddy inexplicably felt like a snooze. Luckily, so did you.

Sleep tight son.

Days with Tom #1

April 25, 2012

Hello Tom.

Before you were born, I promised myself that I would keep a constant online record of you. It was to be a multimedia extravaganza. Much like that Google Chrome ad (sniff, still makes me well up).

Then you actually arrived.

“Morning! What now?”

And all those grand plans went by the wayside. It had a lot to do with the fact that you were really quite time-consuming. But if I’m honest, it was more to do with my innate laziness. Sorry, son.

Anyway. Now I find myself with a bit more time on my hands than I did before. I’ll be looking after you for a day or two a week. No mummy. No child minder. Just me. And I’ll be chronicling our adventures here.

Starting with…

Friday 20th April 2012

Thank you Cbeebies for being on from such an early hour.

I quite liked watching Postman Pat with you. I say, “with you”. I mean more you watched it, spellbound, while I lay on the sofa wondering if letting you spend the whole day in front of the telly would make me a bad father.

Of course it would. So we went out for brunch at La Cafeteria, Walthamstow’s premier eatery. You ordered the toast. I’d brought a banana as an amuse-bouche. I fed it to you while singing “Ba Na Na Na Naa”. Like the Kaiser Chiefs song.

Oh, we met Brian Harvey, formerly of 90s Boy Band East 17 (it’s good to see some people don’t abandon their roots). You were on your trike and waved at him as he walked past. You said “Hiya!” Good lad – nice to see that celebrity doesn’t faze you.

Of all the times not to be carrying a camera. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Brian for old times’ sake.

“And ven ver fackin baby said Hiya!”

After that, nothing could really live up to your brush with stardom. I mean, we went to the swings, you had your obligatory middle-class lunch of pesto chicken pasta and did a poo. You also ran around. A lot.

But in the words of East 17, deep, deep down the whole Harvey thing was the real highlight.

Talking of which (tenuous link alert). You’ve got your first trip to the hairdresser’s tomorrow.

Should be fun. Fingers crossed.

Babies On A Plane

July 28, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, we took our six month old son, Tom, to New York. It was his first proper holiday and he was understandably excited. Actually, he was just his normal, cheerful, flailing, burbling, gurning self. But I like to think he was excited.

Anyway, this was his first time on a plane so it was a tad nerve-wracking. Would he be OK? Would he cry? Would I have to change his nappy during a spot of turbulence and end up with a toilet looking like an H-Block prison cell circa 1978?

What if he screamed for eight solid hours? How would his fellow passengers react? Like this?

“I have had it with these motherfucking babies on this motherfucking plane!”

It’s bad enough when it’s your own baby, but when it’s someone else’s, the screams seem, well, louder. And I’ll admit it. I was worried that we’d be seen as Bad Parents.

Thankfully, all went well (or as well as can be expected). So I thought I’d share a few observations, hints and tips on how to survive Babies On A Plane.

On boarding

Once you’re on the plane, carry your baby up and down the aisles to show him off to his fellow passengers*. This will reassure them that he is a nice, friendly baby who poses no threat to them. It also buys you precious sympathy points if crying ensues. “This is strange,” passengers will think. “That baby seemed so happy and smiley earlier. This crying must be a momentary aberration.” Hahaha suckers! Gotcha!

Pre-flight preparation

You’re belted up and ready to go. It’s time for the safety video. Now, while it is important that you acquaint yourself with where the lifejackets, oxygen masks and emergency exits are, it’s pointless trying to get your baby to do the same. He will simply think he knows it all.

We gave Tom the safety card to read. He just tried to eat it. As he does with anything that he manages to get hold of.

Mmm, tasty safety card…

Take-off and landing

The plane’s rumbling up the runway. The engines roar louder and louder. The wheels leave the ground. How do you solve the unpleasant ‘ear-popping’ sensation that can cause instant baby wailing (and dangerously raised blood pressure in nervous flyers)?

Simple. Feed the little bugger. He’ll be too engrossed in guzzling down The White Stuff to notice anything. Sadly, this ruse cannot be used throughout the entire flight as even the most milk-laden mother is going to run out at some point (and even the greediest baby is going to get full). On a completely unrelated point, it’s amazing how breasts can be such  distra… ooh, boobies!

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Flying. Right.

In-flight entertainment

It is utterly pointless sitting Junior down in front of the seat-back telly and hoping that he will be entranced by the latest movie blockbuster or old episodes of The Simpsons. He’ll quickly become bored and will be much happier covering the screen with his mucky paw prints.


It’s not that he thinks the pictures are real; I reckon it’s because he’s convinced it’s a touchscreen. It’s not an iPad, kid – you need to use the remote control to change channels. (Talking of which, under no circumstances give your baby the remote control. He will only try to eat it. Or inadvertently press the ‘Call stewardess’ button. Which, as he’s not allowed booze or pretzels, is a waste of their valuable time.)

Foregoing the delights of Black Swan and Limitless myself, I spent most of the flight wandering up and down the plane with Tom in a sling, ending up (mysteriously) in the galley, where I would surreptitiously ask for a gin and tonic.

(Top tip. Make sure you add “And I’ll have the same” when you order. The stewardesses have never heard this joke before and will find it hilarious. Your baby, however, will stare pityingly at you, much like Sylvester Jr. as if to say, “Why have I been lumbered with this buffoon?”)

“Oh, father.”


Sleeping? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Sorry. Lost it a bit back there. Bit tired and all that. If you’re like me, you’ll know how hard it can be to sleep on a plane. There’s the restricted space. The hums, bumps and vibrations. The constant interruptions. Now multiply those distractions by a lot and you can understand why babies aren’t great sleepers. Firstly, because those free eye masks are just too big. But more importantly, there’s just too much going on. Babies are like hairless puppies – they’re just curious about absolutely everything. So why would they want to miss it all by going to sleep?

Shh, he’s finally asleep. FOR ABOUT A MICROSECOND.

Tom managed a whole hour’s kip on the flight out. The rest of the time was spent being carried around the plane, savouring the experience and smiling at his fellow passengers. Some even smiled back, albeit warily.

On the way back, which was a night flight, he slept for most of the time (I assume he’d become somewhat blasé about the whole thing, what with it being him having become a frequent flyer in the space of a week).

And when he woke up,we let him sit in his own seat for a bit.

“Oh stewardess. Where’s my milk?”

*Only do this if your baby is smiling and quiet. Carrying a crying baby up and down a plane is like showing everyone the explosives you’ve got strapped to your chest. Please note: this is a joke.

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