The answer is: yes. The last line of this post does work on two levels, but I only benefit from one.

It’s Saturday night and my wife and I are watching a romantic film, featuring a couple who are freakishly similar to us when we first started dating. Through a peculiar mishap they become separated and go through many trials and tribulations to be together again. Just as the film reaches the tear-jerking pivotal scene, where they eventually find one another, my wife looks over to me and says with some emotion, “You twat. You left the iron on again this morning.”

“Are you sure?” I say. “That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing I would do.”

“Do it again – I kill you.”

I look back at the screen. The couple embrace as the camera pans around the bombed-out remains of a war-torn city. I think the bleak landscape is used to reinforce the message that love can blossom anywhere, even in the most hostile environment. I look over to my wife who is eating crackers without a plate.

“Plate!” I shout. “Get a plate. Plate!” She gives me the finger and takes an exaggerated bite out of the cracker. Crumbs explode all over her dressing gown. A gorgeous white, fluffy spa robe that has ‘Do not remove! Property of Marriot Hotels’ stitched across the breast.

I try to get back to the film but my eyes keep flashing over to her every time I hear the crunch of a cracker. The crunch is followed by an energetic brushing of the crumbs on to the carpet. It’s like watching an electric planer spitting out wood chips.

The frustrated lovers decide to take shelter. They find an abandoned hotel. He takes her by the hand and leads her into the bedroom; she looks coy but willing. My wife has gone quiet. I glance over and catch her trying to secretly smuggle the lion’s share of a chocolate orange out of her pocket.

The couple start to make love – loudly; forcing my wife and I to flip open our ipads. We both begin to scroll and occasionally look up to the big screen, hoping for the sex to end. It doesn’t. He’s got the staying power of a thoroughbred horse. And she is louder than a foghorn. Pump – honk! Pump – honk! It goes on and on. So long in fact that I manage to razz round all my social media sites.

I flip the ipad shut. They are still having sex. My wife is still scrolling, making me paranoid that she has found something interesting on the Internet that I have missed. What on earth could she be looking at for this long, I wonder. Then she starts typing. Classic signs of someone having an affair.

“What you typing?” I ask.

“Just Googling.”

“Googling what?”

“Who holds the world record for leaving an iron on for the longest time.”

Eventually, the sex ends.

My wife has accidentally hacked into my son’s Instagram account.

For the record, I don’t exactly know how this happened, but my wife has accidentally hacked my son’s Instagram account. My best guess is that she fell over his discarded shoes, and one of her flailing arms punched in his 9 digit password.

Scrolling through his private messages it soon dawns on me that my son is confused by Instagram. He thinks you have to take a picture every time you want to make a comment. So he has been snapping shots of anything near him just to keep chatting. His timeline is peppered with shots of: vases, abstract views of the couch, brass ornaments and the bowl of crap on the sideboard. This was all followed up by an angelic shot of my son perched precariously on a roof.

Whose roof is that?” shrieked my wife, looking at me for answers. I am struggling to recall the conversation I had with her when I revealed my superior knowledge of all the roofs in the local area.

I scrunched my forehead and took a more detailed look at him on the roof and said in astonishment, “Is he…is he wearing my slippers?

Eventually we worked out who owned the roof and decided not to get in touch with them, as the stunt may have been our son’s idea. And anyway, for all we know, these parents may have accidentally hacked their son’s ipod, and could be stomping their way round to us, saving us a stomp round to theirs.

When I was a child in the 70s, I spent most of my time making dens in the local woods with my mates. Back then we made do with the basics, in fact we only wished for two things: one was a big spade so that we could dig a trap to snare intruders, and the other was a magic peephole into girls’ bedrooms.

Through the miracle of modern technology, Instagram has given my son a digital peephole into girls’ bedrooms, which he and his mates use to send pictures of vases to each other. Just in case you were wondering, he also has access to a spade. My son wants for nothing.

My wife and I are sat in the kitchen waiting for my son to return from school. We are faced with a conundrum: we dearly want to chastise him, but if we do, he will know that we’ve hacked his private account.

I look over to my wife, who is hunched over the ipod, her face etched with a mixture of smugness and guilt. It’s an expression that greeted me frequently during the start of our relationship, but no so much anymore; I only ever see it now after she’s eaten fish and chips.

I can’t look at this anymore,” admits my wife, as she continues to scroll down the images. “We shouldn’t be prying into his private life,” scroll, scroll. “I feel terrible,” scroll, scroll. “Put the kettle on,” scroll, scroll…

 

Can you really learn anything from parents’ evening?

It’s Wednesday teatime and I am feeling a bit glum. My dark mood is exacerbated by the fact that I’m trying to remove a stubborn pan stain with a worn-out scouring pad. My wife barrels into the kitchen – full of bloody energy.

Hi, what’s up with you?” she asks and enthusiastically rips open the mail.

Why can’t something exciting ever happen? Where’s the drama?”

Have you been watching Hollyoaks again?”

“I just need something to get the juices flowing,” I say.

“You’re in luck. It‘s parents’ evening tonight.”

How is that exciting?”

It’s not, but why don’t we make it exciting. Most of the teachers are new – they don’t know us. Let’s pretend to be more interesting than we actually are. Have a think. What could you do to be more dynamic?”

I could wear that tight T-shirt I bought with all the zips on it.”

“Excellent. It takes balls to wear something like that in a room full of middle-class parents. To be honest, it would take balls to wear that top at a gay Mardi Gras.”

“True. What about you?” I ask.

When I said ‘we’ – I really meant ‘you’.

The wager was set. To win, we had to convince a primary school teacher that we were more zesty than normal. The loser was the one who came across as nature intended. A dirty pan and a frazzled scouring pad awaited the runner-up.

Table one. English teacher.

Hello. I am Mr Mitchell and I’d just like to…”

Do you like my top?” I ask, peeling off my coat. My wife glares at me, as do a few other parents.

“That’s…erm,” he stammers, “that’s a lot of zips.”

“Yes, yes it is. Too many, if I’m being honest. They really irritate me when I’m trying to write my award-winning blog.”

“Oh, really,” he says. “What sort of blog is it?”

“I’m a Dad Blogger.”

“What’s that?” he asks.

“Ha. Exactly!” shrieks my wife, smugly.

Table two. Maths.

Hi. I’m Mr Fletcher. But please call me…he stops mid-sentence because he can hear many things being unzipped.

After losing the first two rounds, my wife is grumpy. We are sitting in the queue for our next appointment in an angry silence, much like the other parents.

I find my daughter’s school draw and leaf through her work. My daughter is 6 years old, and so far her school years have been something of a challenge. Our son, who is 12, is more academic. Our daughter, well…she’s more of a free spirit.

The first few years of her knuckling down to work were tough. We own a cafe next to the primary school and when the kitchen window was open you could hear her in the playground crying for her mummy. Sometimes it would last all day; it was heartbreaking. Occasionally, we would crack under the pressure and rush to the railings to calm her down through the bars.

The more work I look through, the more emotional I become. The teacher’s comments were getting better. More red ticks. More ‘Good work Gracie’ comments. I pull out one of her drawings. It’s a bright picture of a sunflower with a warm, smiley face. Tears begin to well up. It’s our daughter who is being more dynamic – not us.

So, I think you can learn something at parents’ evening. Wearing the tight European-raver top has shown me what it’s like to try and stand out from the crowd, but my daughter has shown me how much courage it takes to just try and fit in.

Choosing a pet for your child. This month: Gerbils – sorry I mean the other ones, Guinea Pigs.

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After the horror of seeing both my daughter’s rabbits being eaten by the local village fox (and no, I’m not talking about the brunette who works in the post office -Hi Darryl!) we’ve gone for guinea pigs.

They’re the reliable rabbit understudies, waiting in the wings to jump into your child’s affections. That is, of course, after you’ve trotted out the usual adult pet-death lie (does anyone still think kids believe this?) of telling them that you can’t go to the ‘farm’ to visit their old (dead) rabbits, because it’s very far away.

But what are they really like? Firstly, don’t be disappointed. I know it’s a comedown from the glory days of having a rabbit, but guineas are full of benefits. So prepare to flick the cute dial to: Mick Hucknall. Here’s what you get for splashing out £35 on a pair.

They come with a long list of Gremlin-type maintenance instructions.

You have to buy them in pairs, or they get lonely…and die.

Sadly, this is true, but because they spend all day together they end up having a tumultuous Dirty Den and Angie Watts-type relationship; with a major ratings-winning bust-up around Christmas time. At some point, two bald gerbil brothers in leather jackets turn up demanding all sorts of things, but I’ll say no more, I don’t want to give the plot away

Can you call them gerbils when you can’t be arsed to say guinea pigs?

Yes, but this is only advisable to do in the company of adults. Kids like the full name or a cute contraction such as, The Guineas. Double act names are also good. Ours are called: Hall & Oates, or you can get a bit more creative. There’s a girl in my daughter’s class who has two, and they’re called, Fred & Rose. We haven’t invited her round for tea.

Are they obsessed with bog roll tubes?

Again, sad but true. They could eat bog roll tubes all day. Funding for bog roll rehab is way off, so do what you can to keep them down to five a day.

Power display.

Guinea pig experts have termed this as,Strutting’. It’s a power dance that one does in front of the other to show dominance. It’s very camp. Imagine a furry Mick Jagger prancing around in a cage and you’ll get the picture. But that’s not all, the other one doesn’t just sit there and take it, he replies with his own little Rod Stewart power dance. The winner gets the bog roll all to themselves. Throw in a carrot and they do it all again.

Top tip: If they don’t want to eat the carrot, just tell them it’s an orange bog roll.

They make noises without moving their mouths.

Say what? Yes they do. Just imagine cuddling your favourite ventriloquist. Guinea pigs: where your dreams of cuddling a children’s entertainer become a reality. The guinea pig marketing board are missing a trick here.

They do a host of noises and then just look at you as though its not them. Purring, whooping, gottle of geer – they do all the standards. I had to Google the noises to find out what they mean, which allowed me to have this conversation with my wife.

Can you turn the TV down?” I asked.

As my husband, you’re on limited time,” she replied. “You only have three more occasions when you can ask me to turn down Hart to Hart before I divorce you. Why do you need it turning down? This better be important.”

So I can listen to some guinea pig noises on YouTube.”

I’ve never fancied you more than I do now.”

I decided to undercut her sarcasm by calling her bluff. “OK. Let’s have sex now.”

We can’t, because the person you want to have sex with is very far away.

Next Month: Guinea Pigs – sorry I mean Gerbils.

How it works: The Hipster cafe.

Little did I know, when I skipped down the aisle to the soundtrack from the Lion King, that my future wife had a dream; a burning ambition to serve hipsters with frothy coffee and pensioners with trifle. To be honest, in terms of my wife’s dreams, I was hoping for something a bit more lesbiany.

We’ve been running a vintage cafe in Leeds for nearly six years. In that time, we’ve learned how you can boost profits by dancing to Tina Turner and we’ve created a novel way to save money by repurposing excess food. So, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge by setting up your own independent cafe, or just want to take a peak behind the curtain, here’s my: Hipster Cafe Survival Guide.

In-depth customer footfall analysis.

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I’ve never owned a cafe before, so the ebb and flow of customers is all new to me, but slowly, an in-depth pattern of customer footfall is steadily emerging.

Mondays are quiet. In fact, on Mondays I could easily dance around the cafe naked to Nutbush City Limits and nobody would notice.

Wednesdays are also quiet. I could stand in the window and wank off to God Save the Queen, without being spotted standing in a window wanking off to God save the Queen.

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are packed. We get people waiting around the block; just like when Star Wars first came out.

So if I had to do a powerpoint presentation to prospective cafe owners about the experiences I’ve gathered so far, I would break it down like so: If you want to wank off in the window to the national anthem or Nutbush City Limits, I would do that on Mondays and Wednesdays –  but don’t do it on the other days. I would highlight this bit as important.

Advertising – Get creative.

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As we all know, it’s standard social practice that if you went to university 20 years ago with someone who becomes famous – in my case, Dermot O’Leary – and then you open up a tea shop in Leeds, the celebrity has to drop everything and open it; that’s just how it is – I don’t make the rules.

I tried to cash my cheque by ringing up his agent, who passed me onto his assistant, who passed me onto the assistant to the agent’s assistant. I’m not daft, I appreciate he is a busy man and it would be challenging to get to Leeds at short notice, so I asked if Dermot could mention the opening of the cafe while he was presenting the X Factor.

I was thinking something like: DERM: “Next onto the X Factor stage is Wagner…and don’t forget, Boff’s Baps is open for: hot drinks, sandwiches, panninis and afternoon teas. Now here’s Wagner with, Everybody Walk The Dinosaur.” Fireworks – applause. It didn’t happen, but on the upside, Dermot doesn’t view me as just some guy he went to Uni with, he now views me with a great deal of suspicion.

Window display wars.

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The window displays at Harrods are always spectacular, but are mere rags and baubles compared to what the chemist, my neighbour in our little muse of shops, can come up with.

This year he has gone for the classic, shiny pink paper and santa rabbits surrounded by cotton wool balls, with a Gillette shaving pack as the centre piece.

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I am new to all this shop game but I always thought that a chemist didn’t get much passing trade. It’s a specific shop for a specific need, mainly athlete’s foot powder and cream for your itchy cock or fanny.

In fact, I think all chemists should be renamed: The Foot, Cock and Fanny shop. I assume, from the products he’s selling, his prime customer is an hermaphrodite with trench foot, and I doubt an hermaphrodite with trench foot is going to be lured in by a Gillette bumper pack.

My missus has just pointed out that the chemist sells a wider range of products than I have suggested, and that people also visit the chemist if they have a cold or an itchy arse – fair point.

How to spy on your staff.

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Sir John Harvey Jones, MBE, was one of Britain’s greatest industrialists. He is mostly remembered for his TV show ‘Troubleshooter’ where he tried to breathe new life into ailing businesses.

In order to get some ideas for my own cafe I bought his book, ‘Managing to Survive’, but I was disappointed to find that nowhere in the entire book did he advise that you could increase profitability by spying on your staff from a bush over the road – which is what I did yesterday.

The business leader also didn’t advise taking pictures of them from a stranger’s bedroom – which I also did yesterday.

I ended up in the bush and the bedroom because I managed to get a job fitting shelves at a house directly opposite the cafe. And I think anybody in my position would have done the same.

The internationally renowned business guru also forgot to recommend ringing up your head waitress – in my case Vinegar Tits (she’s a bit bossy) – and revealing that you know what she is wearing and where she is standing; just to see if she can still serve hot panninis (only £4.99!) whilst in fear of being shot through the window by a crazed gunman.

I am glad to report that Vinegar Tits passed this standard business test with flying colours.

Eat my biscuits! Eat my biscuits!

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Owning a cafe means that sometimes you come into contact with strange characters; characters that have slipped through the net and inhabit the darker corners of society.

Every Wednesday morning a man stands in the doorway and shouts: “Dalek don’t work! Dalek don’t work!”

It’s not clear if it is a broken toy Dalek that he’s referring to, or he’s infuriated by the lack of job opportunities for Daleks. Nobody has the balls to ask him.

Now, we’ve attracted another random shouter. By the end of the year we’ll have gathered enough to form a very angry choir. This new guy looks like Oddbod from Carry on Screaming and shouts: “Eat my biscuits! Eat my biscuits!” He then ambles to the counter, pulls some biscuits out of his pocket and we have to eat them.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell the heavenly spirit or body that designates cafes for people to shout at, that we are running at full capacity, but my rival down the road, Big Keith’s Butty shop, is taking on new shouters. Thanks very much.

How to make you kids a pair of boots for the price of a loaf of bread.

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When you first start out in the cafe business, you end up with a lot of stock left over because you are not attuned to your customer’s demands. It’s gut-wrenching to see your profits go straight into the bin, so to combat this, I would eat whatever was left over. In our first week of trading, I think I ate 15 quiches and drank 24 cans of Lilt.

Then, obviously, I wised-up and started using the excess food to make clothes for my kids.

My most popular creation was this pair of boots I made for my son, which are finely crafted from two loaves of Warburton’s Toasty bread.

After road testing them for a few days, he concluded that they weren’t very good in wet conditions, or dry for that matter. Plus, going outside in them increased his chances of being attacked by pigeons.

I even got a commission to make a pair of bespoke bread boots from my good friends Paul and Nina Gillette. By commission, I mean they didn’t ask me to do it. I just made them and left them on their doorstep, but I hear they brought joy to their kids for up to 2 minutes before they fell to bits.

Turns out I’m neither Batman or Robin in my relationship; I’m the Joker. Or am I?

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“Holy Google Image search Batman. Does this mean you couldn’t find a decent picture of the Joker for this post?” “Yes, yes it does Robin.”

Its all your fault,” announces my wife and then gives me the stink eye.

This is not how I wanted to start New Year’s Eve. Plus, when I’m getting a rollicking, I like a bit of foreplay first. On the upside, if she’s microwaved the build up to the verbal roasting, then hopefully she’s microwaved the rest, so I could be in and out in two minutes.

What have I done?” I ask.

We’ve only had two visitors over the Christmas holidays. Two! You scare people away with your…humour.” Suddenly, my speed bollocking is interrupted by the doorbell. “Quick! The doorbell. Its go-time,” she says.

“Before I get the door, can we both agree that this is the last time you say, ‘It’s go-time’? I don’t want to be married to an American wrestling coach.”

“You might prefer being married to a man. It’s the only way you’ll be getting any anal sex.”

“Or a decent frittata.”

“You see. This is why nobody comes round. Who makes jokes about frittatas? Can you just answer the door? No, hang on. It might be someone I don’t want to see. Just look out of the window and check who it is.

I scurry into the front room, peek round the curtain and get a good view of our guest. I scurry back.

Good news,” I announce. “It’s one of your friends.”

Oh no. That’s bad news,” she says. “I don’t want it to be someone I like.”

Why?

Because I’ll have to put my teeth in.”

To be honest, when I skipped down the church aisle, I didn’t think I’d be having this conversation three years later. I was hoping to reach a ripe old age before I saw my wife rooting through the fruit bowl for her teeth.

Hang on,” I say.

What?” she replies impatiently.

Are you saying my friends aren’t good enough for you to bother putting your teeth in? They’re not…teeth-worthy.”

“Definitely not. I wouldn’t hold a fart in for some of your friends.”

“Who else is on the no-teeth list? My mother?”

“Your mother? No way. I owe her a lot. I mean, where do you think I got my farting policy from?”

The doorbell chimes again.

Quick,” she says. “See if my teeth are in the bowl of crap on the sideboard.” 

“Why would your teeth be in the bowl of crap?” I ask.

“The same reason why there’s a stapler, a bouncy ball and a map of France in there. Everything gets sucked into the bowl of crap. Just check it.”

“Oh, wait. Here they are,” I say.

“Oh good. Where were they?”

“Just on the shelf, next to your glass eye and your wooden pirate leg,” I say and laugh out loud, to drown out the deafening silence coming from my wife.

“That’s a joke, isn’t it? You haven’t found them. This joke makes your frittata material look inspired.”

“Hold on,” I say, “what’s that smell? Have you just farted?”

“Yep, I’m not holding them in for you any more either.”

I decide to look for her teeth in a less hostile environment. “I’m going to check the bathroom,” I say, “and I’ll get one of the kids to answer the door. Where are the kids?”

The oldest is at his friend’s house.”

“What about Michael Jackson?”

“Yes, Michael’s in.”

Michael Jackson is our new (and temporary – may I add) nickname for our daughter. She’s six years old, and got two new guinea pigs (Hall & Oates) for Christmas. Like all kids her age she is struggling to come to terms with the fact that guinea pigs are living things and not toys, and as such, she holds them in the same awkward way that Michael Jackson dangled his kid over that balcony.

As it turns out, getting my daughter Michael to answer the door was a good call, because our guests horror at seeing Michael Jackson open the door whilst holding Hall & Oates upside down by their legs, gave us enough wriggle room to find my wife’s teeth.

On reflection, a fab evening was had by all. So good in fact that my wife and I took the good mood up to the bedroom. And did she put her teeth in? Yes, yes she did. And did I microwave the build up? Yes, yes I did.

I’ve unwittingly strayed into my marriage’s Danger Zone.

It’s Saturday night and I’m splayed on the couch. There’s nothing on TV so I start daydreaming about being a secret millionaire and surprising my wife with a cheque for a million pounds. 

Relaxing in the warm, cosy glow of my own pretend generosity, I glance over to my wife who also looks lost in thought. “What you doing?” I ask.

Just thinking,” she replies.

Me too. What about?”

What type of disease you would have to get for me to leave. You know, the Disaster Scenario.”

Please take note, TV schedule people, this is what happens when you keep showing reruns of Border Patrol, it gives my wife enough breathing space to come up with an exit strategy.

To be honest, my wife’s always trying to work out what she would do if I ruined the party by having a long, lingering death. She once saw a film called, Love Triangle where the husband had an accident and was confined to a wheelchair, but allowed his wife to take on a lover, who eventually moved in with them both. But it wasn’t all bad news for hubby, she still made him his tea everyday, and installed wheelchair access to the patio so that he could get some fresh air while he was crying.

“What did you decide? Which ailment would make it OK for you to leave?” I ask.

Tinitus,” she says.

“Well done. You’ve just lost a million pretend pounds,” I reveal.

I don’t need it. I’m a modern, independent woman; I’ve got my own pretend money that I can live off.”

“You’re being a bit harsh,” I say.

You deserve it. Especially after last night.”

Last night?”

Last night…

It’s Friday night and, rather frustratingly, I find myself four days into a two-day DIY job.

I’m making cupboards in my daughter’s bedroom. A job which requires the use of sharp, stabby items, and with the kids flying around barefoot it looks like the opening scene from Casualty. All that’s missing is a pair of abandoned roller skates at the top of the stairs and two men moving a large pane of glass at the bottom.

I’m busy thinking about all the possible scrapes the kids could get into when I trip and bang my head.

Aaaaagh. For f*ck’s sake!” I scream.

Mum. Are you OK?” asks my son through the door.

It’s me,” I reply. “I’m the one swearing in here.”

Where’s Mum?”

She’s swearing at people in Sainsbury’s.”

What’s for tea?” he asks and then I hear the front door bang, followed by much profanity. “It’s Ok. I can hear mum now,” he says and scuttles off.

I trudge downstairs rubbing my head, looking for sympathy from my wife. She is stood in the kitchen, and by the way the shopping bags lay strewn on the floor, I can tell that sympathy will be hard won.

My son barrels into the room, ignores all around, and sticks his head in a bag like a sniffer dog. This always happens when new food lands in the kitchen. I could be doing a naked majorette routine in the sink and he wouldn’t notice. But it’s not just my son, most pre-teens trying to feed a growth spurt tend to ‘apple bob’ their head in a shopping bag to root for food; its a real time-saver. I find this side-effect of puberty to be the height of ignorance, and also something that I must try out.

That was an absolute nightmare,” she says. “I’m never going back to TK Maxx again. It’s just full of ignorant people; all pushing each other. And they just sell cheap crap.”

This happened the last time you went to TK Maxx, why do you still go?”

To get your Christmas presents.”

My son pulls his head out of a bag and says, “What’s for tea?”

Fish cakes,” she announces matter-of-factly.

I don’t like fish cakes,” he says.

I know,” she replies, looks at me curiously and mouths, “What the f*ck’s wrong with your head?”

In case you’re wondering, I don’t count this exchange as sympathy, in fact my wife is exhibiting all the classic ‘please leave me alone’ signs: the scattered shopping bags, swearing at my head, forcing fish cakes on a twelve year-old. My son and I should have just walked away, granted her ten minutes’ peace to put her feet up and let the day wash off her. But we didn’t.

I don’t want fish cakes,” he repeats, then sticks his head in another bag.

My daughter walks in. “What’s for tea?” she booms and sticks her head in a bag.

My wife calmly walks out of the kitchen and into the front room, slamming the door behind her.

Both kids jerk heads out of bags and scan around nervously. “What are we going to do about tea now?” they chant in unison.

I don’t know,” I say and go after my wife. I enter the room…

I sit on the couch and glance over to my wife. After the longest time, I manage to catch her eye and it’s there, right in that moment, I realise the part of me that I hate the most, is the part of me that can only daydream about being a better man.

Merry Christmas Facebookers, The Twitterati and my fellow bloggers!

Thanks for giving me your time, support and feedback this year. And I promise, the next time I daydream about being a millionaire, you’ll all get a slice. Pretend-spend it wisely!

 

School, was it really any different back in the 80s?

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The 80s. Come on, what’s not to like?

Please be warned, there is some coarse 80s language in this post. For those easily offended by the eighties, please scroll away.

Back in the eighties, I had the dubious pleasure of going to the third worst school in Britain, and with a name like, Julian Boffin, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. If memory serves my correctly, I think my school missed out on the top spot due to our bullies being unable to waterboard properly.

The school was nestled in a large council park and during winter months we would receive phone calls from flashers saying they were going to pounce. Flashers wouldn’t do that now, back then they had much better flashing etiquette. 

We would have an emergency assembly, warning us that the flash level threat had been raised to Amber, and that all girls had to be escorted through the park by two boys. Acting as a flasher bodyguard was scary but also a great way to meet girls, and flashers; who to be honest, always ended up being the local butcher. ‘Hi, Norman’, we would say. ‘Tell your Mam I’ve got that brisket in for her’, he would reply. It was all very cordial.

Our main claim to fame was that our top bully, or ‘Cock of the School’, had one eye and was called, Mad Morgan. For a guy with one eye, Mad Morgan was a crack shot with an air rifle. He would bunk out of lessons, climb up a tree and shoot at us when we were doing cross country.

During cross country we had to do three laps of the park. Start at school, go round the duck pond, slalom past the flashers and whizz past the teacher. As you approached the finish line, you would just see little puffs of smoke near your legs, followed by a glint of Mad Morgan’s glass eye from a nearby tree. At this point it was prudent to pick up the pace a little and belt it past the teacher, who seemed constantly surprised by my turn of speed. “Well done, Boffin. Keep them knees up. Excellent last fifteen yards,” he would say.

Aaaaagh, get down…incoming fire,” I would reply.

We also had a Bad Hut. This was a portacabin, situated in the middle of a field, that housed all the loose cannons. It was our version of Alcatraz; the worst of the worst. When Mad Morgan wasn’t up a tree shooting people, he would sit in here being rehabilitated.

A good joke to play would be to offer the Bad Hut a sacrificial goat for slaughter, usually, Sloppy Sid from year 8. You would grab Sid, tie him up to the Bad Hut and then bang on all the windows shouting, ‘Wankers!’ It was the eighties, it was totally politically correct to bang on portacabins and shout, ‘Wankers’, in fact it was frowned upon if you didn’t. This is something that these 80s review shows never touch on. We weren’t all dancing to Wham, fiddling with a Rubik’s cube and getting AIDS. No, some of us where goading psychopaths.

Just as I finished my little walk down memory lane my son shuffled in looking worried.

What’s up?” I said.

I’ve got a problem at school, Dad,” he replied.

Ok, what is it?”

It’s my best friend. I don’t know what colour Jack Wills socks to get him for Christmas.”

“Stripy. Always go stripy.”

“And there’s something else. My nickname. They’ve given me one, but I don’t like it. Can I change it to one I like?”

“Don’t think it works like that.”

“What was your nickname at school?”

“Sloppy Sid.”

 

What’s it like having sex and drugs when you’re middle-aged?

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In case you were wondering, this is my sex face.

I’ve recently discovered that strong pain medication makes me both drowsy and horny. I’m like a wanking Frankenstein, or as I like to call my drugged-up alter ego: Wankenstein.

Transforming into Wankenstein is great fun, but it’s a state of being that makes it so much harder to do the household chores. They should put that on the packet. Side effects: wanking, unable to clean curtains.

Against all the odds I manage to empty the dishwasher and slowly shuffle across the lino to my wife who is dealing out carrots to the kids. I saucily rub myself up against her as she bends over to pick up the carrots that my 6 year-old has thrown onto the floor.

Not now. Not now!” screams my wife. “Inappropriate. Inappropriate!”

I shuffle off into the living room and sit down. Bad Wankenstein, I think to myself and doze off. 

Some time later my wife enters the room with a walnut whip and snatches the remote off me. To someone high on medication, my wife couldn’t look any sexier than she does right now as she pulls off the walnut topping, scrunches up her face in disgust, throws it on the floor and then angrily flicks through the channels. Maybe it’s not the drugs, maybe I get turned on seeing food thrown onto the floor. I quickly dismiss this notion after recalling an image of my wife wolfing down half a chicken in Nandos. Then I make my move.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve been drugged-up due to a botched dental procedure. It was done so badly that I’ve spent many hours festering, thinking about dentist revenge. Often times I imagine the dentist roaring off in his Audi from his dental practice – which has limited parking – to a swanky dental orgy, with excellent parking facilities, where they’re all laughing with perfect teeth. I burst through the door, shuffling slowly and wanking, people flee in panic and then…it all gets a bit hazy but I don’t think it ends well.

The dentist flashback makes me angry. I am now angry, dopey and horny. The perfect storm to have sex with my wife while she is watching, Flog It. A tricky manoeuvre; one of the hardest secret parent shags in the book. I have to initiate proceedings during Flog It, then deftly tiptoe past the kids to the master bedroom while they are shouting, “What’s for pudding?” I’m living the dream.

I shuffle past the walnut on the carpet and slump next to my wife.

Not now, Wancula,” she says.

“It’s Wankenstein. I’m Wankenstein.”

My pre-teen son shuffles in. He flops down next to me on the couch; thankfully he is just dopey and angry. To my wife, my end of the couch must look like a scene from, Dawn of the Dead. I just have to wait for the impending teatime argument to end, then Wankenstein will be regenerated.

I’m hungry,” he says. “What’s for pudding?”

You’ve just had tea,” my wife exclaims. “How can you still be hungry?” He shrugs his shoulders and shuffles out in a huff. My wife chases after him. I doze off again. I go back to my apocalyptic End of Days dentist scenario. I am stomping through the room, people are fleeing… food is knocked over. I get horny. Hang on…

I may be having sex later but I don’t know what type.

It’s Friday teatime and my wife is pestering me for some make-up sex. Problem is, I didn’t know we’d fallen out.

When did we argue?” I say.

We haven’t…yet,” she replies. “But it’s still early…”

Why don’t we just have normal sex for a change?” I ask.

Tssk” she replies.

Thinking about it, I’m not sure what the difference between my normal sex and my post-argument sex, but what I do know is that when you’re married to my wife you need to be aware that sex, no matter what type, may happen at any time.

Before disappearing through the door frame, she looks back over her shoulder and breathes seductively: “You need to argue with me. I’ll be in the front room…waiting.” I go back to slicing the carrots. A couple of beats later I think of a great argument that will send her insane; insane enough to have some kind of sex with me.

Ten minutes later I enter the room to drop my awesome argument.

I’ve been thinking,” I say, “maybe we should spend christmas at my family’s this year.”

Shut up!” she says with great conviction.

Is me talking about my family at Christmas making you horny?”

This is not a sex argument!” she shouts. “This is an argument, argument,” and then my wife angrily flaps our daughter’s school report in front of me.

If you’re unfamiliar with modern primary school reports, they consist of a coloured bar chart and your child’s progress is ranked by number. Good colours are, purple and blue; red is bad. The number and colour system comes with a key code. At present my daughter is a Green 2, which is exactly the same ranking as my new boiler.

Look… look,” she says. “Green 2. That’s your fault. It says here that she’s ‘easily distracted’. Easily distracted – that’s you. You’re easily distracted.”

I’m not,” I say and then look up at the ceiling and go to my happy place. I don’t stay there long.

We need to sort this out,” she says. “My daughter’s not a Green 2. She’s a Purple 2. Anybody can see that.”

OK,” I say, “but let’s make it fun.”

Fun but harsh,” my wife says enthusiastically.

I can’t readily think of a learning technique for six-year-olds that is fun but harsh, but we both agree to try and improve her concentration in a fun learning environment; an environment where she wont realise she’s actually learning a lesson. We need to trick her a little, but fortunately, she’s a Green 2, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

As part of my fun learning program, I sit my daughter on the couch and tell her to stare straight ahead while I do goofy stuff in front of her. She is not allowed to look at me. She just needs to sit and stare; no distractions.

I begin by going past her direct line of vision doing the MoonWalk. She starts giggling. I then go behind the couch and mime descending in an elevator. She giggles. Then, I see the door open – it’s my wife. It appears that she has written the 2 times table on her knuckles.

Look at Mummy’s knuckles!” she shouts. “Look at Mummy’s knuckles,” and then she moves like an angry crab from side to side in front of our daughter.

Two twos are what?” she shouts. “Four. Two twos are four! What are two twos? Look at Mummy’s knuckles. Look at Mummy’s knuckles!”

Before this whole thing started I was struggling to think of a learning technique that was fun but harsh, but now, now I don’t have that problem.

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Thanks to the wonderfully talented Heather @betamother for bringing my wife’s angry crab to life. See more from Heather here

It appears that my wife has a few secrets.

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Les Dennis & Dustin Gee. The thinking man’s Hale & Pace

It is Thursday evening and the dishwasher is broken. I am scrubbing the dishes and my wife is drying. She is in a good mood and is busy telling me that she is a ‘happy-go-lucky’ type, and that stabbing her sister was a ‘one-off’. I pass her the big knife to dry.

I watch her dry the knife slowly. “Why did you stab her?” I ask.

It was nothing really. Something to do with mashed potatoes.” Eyes mesmerised on the knife, I cautiously pass her a clutch of forks. She puts the knife down, picks up the forks and says, “Nice try, but I stabbed her with a fork.”

Are you taking the piss?” I say.

You trying to make me angry?” she replies.

I am 16 years into what looks like a 16-year relationship, and tense dish washing episodes are becoming common. I think my mere existence is now reliant on how often the dishwasher breaks down. Some people worry about global warming, I worry about blocked nozzle jets and the efficacy of rinse aid.

You got any more secrets?” I ask. She waggles the fork around and stares into the mid-distance; deep in thought.

When I was about ten years old,” she says, “I went to Dustin Gee’s funeral.”

What! How come you were invited to that?”

I wasn’t.”

What the hell’s going off. When I was a kid I was busy playing with my Subbuteo, but it seems my wife was busy stabbing relatives and gate-crashing celebrity funerals.

If you don’t know who Dustin Gee was, he was in a comedy double act with Les Dennis but he died from a heart attack, or as I am now inclined to think, he may have succumbed to a random fork stabbing.

My wife goes on to explain, “His funeral was held in York and anybody could go. I just managed to get inside – that’s all.”

When I asked about any more secrets,” I say, “I was hoping for something a bit more, lesbiany.”

My wife rolls her eyes and I pass her a dish. “What about you?” she asks. “Any secrets?”

Not really, but I did something bad that I regret.”

Go on,” she says.

When I was about 12, I locked my brother in the shed for 6 hours.”

What happened?”

He got out and shot me in the arse with an air rifle. I was grounded for about a month.”

Why did you lock him in?”

Because he was trying to shoot me in the arse with an air rifle. He had this air rifle that fired coloured feathered darts. We were always squabbling and my Dad thought it best to hide the gun to stop my brother shooting me. It’s just that he never really hid it that well. To be honest, the gun hiding was so lame, I thought my Dad was encouraging it.”

My wife laughed, threw the cloth in my face and walked out. I was left alone, cloth on my head, thinking about my funny old wife. About how the breaking of the dishwasher had slowed life down a bit and given us the chance to just chat to each other. And how, after 16 years, I was still finding out new things about my wife that I should be afraid of.

I looked down at the broken dishwasher and thought, you, my friend, can brake down as much as you want, because sometimes, just sometimes, when one thing is broken, something else gets fixed.

Date Night. Strangers in a bar.

It is Thursday night and I am busy coming up with suggestions for date night, suggestions that even I don’t want to go on, just so that it looks like I’m putting some effort in.

Let’s do something fun this time; something exciting,” says my wife, with hope rapidly draining from her face.

What did we do last time?”

Sex.”

On date night you have to go out and then have sex, don’t blame me – it’s the rules. Alternatively, you have to come up with a great excuse not to have sex, such as a recurring back injury or that you’ve had too much shepherd’s pie. I find it’s alway handy to keep a few shepherd’s pies in the freezer just in case anyone tries to have sex with me.

I’ve got it!” she says like a woman possessed. “Stranger’s in a bar. Let’s do Stranger’s in a bar.”

You know I don’t drink.”

Yes, but you’re alter ego does.”

Who is my alter ego?”

He’s dynamic. A guy that knows his own mind and doesn’t take any shit.”

I don’t want to do it,” I say.

Tough, you’re doing it.”

I wish my alter ego was around during the daytime to be honest. I have to think up some kind of fictional character, a person who embodies all the characteristics that I admire, and more importantly, a fictional character that my wife would want to have sex with…twice.

If you’re not sure what Stranger’s in a Bar is, it’s a role-play sex game where you pretend to be someone else and pick your wife up in a bar. You then have to put in extra effort during sex, such as sucking your gut in or taking your slippers off.

The night finally arrives and my alter ego is fully fleshed out in my mind. I drop the kids off with my sister-in-law, and find that I can’t look her in the eye because of what my alter ego is going to do to her sister later on, then go home to transform. The house is empty and it feels quite eery. My wife has already left to take up her seat in the bar in a hotel in Leeds city centre; all I can smell is her perfume, and it seems like her alter ego enjoys smelling like the beauty counter at Boots. I get changed into my character.

My no-bullshit, sexy alter ego is called, Dr Fong. He is a talented bio-physicist who is just stopping by a bar in Leeds for a quick drink before he flies off to a bio-chemical conference in Michigan. I know there is no direct route from Leeds/Bradford airport to Michigan but Dr Fong doesn’t care, he’s a freaking wildcard.

I enter the bar and I can immediately smell my wife. I make my way over.

Hi, is this seat taken?” I ask in a smooth, talented bio-chemist voice.

What the fuck?” she says.

You’re feisty,” I say. “I like that. Let me introduce myself. I am Dr Fong. The talented..”

Bollocks, you’re not Dr Fong. You’re Troy Maddison, the technology entrepreneur.”

The waiter comes over and asks if we would like anything from the bar menu. Troy looks at the menu but is feeling a little bit sad that Dr Fong has left.

I’ll have the Nicoise salad,” says my wife.

And I’ll have the shepherd’s pie,” I reply.

 

Dr Fong spotted!

Don’t worry Dr Fong fans, apparently Troy Maddison wasn’t very good in the sack so we may see Dr Fong again some time.

If you’re wondering what Dr Fong looks like, the very talented blogger, Katy from http://www.carryonkaty.com managed to spot him and get down a sketch before he flew off to his bio conference in Michigan.

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How squatting can prep you for rearing a tweenager.

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“Aaaaghh!! Get this Tweenager off me.”

As a spectator sport, puberty is hard to beat. I mean that in the most normal way possible. My son is always up to something secretive and when I get back from work there is always a puzzle to solve. Here are a few of his puberty puzzles.

The Bedroom iPad mystery.

Last week I walked into his bedroom unannounced, which is something you should never do. You must always make tweenagers aware that you are coming; knock, whistle, wear cymbals on your knees…anything. But I didn’t, so I walked in and caught him, and three of his mates, all hunched over the ipad watching Murder She Wrote. 

I didn’t know this at the time, but it seems that huge doses of testosterone make tweenagers lust after busybody granny detectives. Of course, this may have been a smokescreen and he could have easily clicked from Brit Babes to Cabot Cove before I even noticed. I did the same sort of thing when I was pubing. I remember disguising my porn videos by writing, The Sky at Night on the cover. It was an effective ruse, and every year my uncle still buys me an astronomy book for Christmas.

How is he trying to kill me?

It’s called Stagging, where the young buck attempts to dethrone the dominant male. In this scenario, I am the hairy ape, and each night before I sit down for tea I have to uncover his latest attempt to finish me off before we can get round to pudding. To be honest, I don’t mind if he takes over and drives the submarine for a bit. Sitting on the back seat and gawping out the window would suit me fine.

There are two forms of Stagging.

Physical attacks disguised as play fighting.

Just when you’re feeling nice and relaxed, your pubing child will take you out with a rugby tackle and rub your face into the dirt – just a little bit too hard. So be prepared, I have taken to wearing one of those padded bite suits they use to train police dogs. The bite suit manufacturers have cottoned on to this now and have produced a skinny leg version for Hipster dads.

Twisted mind games.

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My squat.

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Me outside the front door of my squat. We were young, idealistic revolutionaries and dispensed with traditional house numbers, replacing them with slogans instead. I lived at: The fat ladies got no chewing gum.

In my youth I used to squat in a derelict block of flats in Hulme, Manchester that were about to be demolished D.ring the day I worked for free as an intern copywriter at an advertising agency called, Stowe, Bowden & Wilson. It was a crazy time and I used to get a full body wash in the toilets before breezing into the boardroom and pitching ideas to clients.

Like Cinderella, I had to leave work early before it got dark because that’s when all the muggers congregated near the squat. The flats were built on concrete pillars and the muggers would slowly weave in and out of the pillars on BMX bikes scouting for victims, and I had to try and run past them to get home unscathed. It was a bit like doing the gold run on Blockbusters but without the chance of winning a kayaking weekend for two in the Lakes.

This fear, this blind panic of weaving in and out of concrete pillars with three muggers on bikes chasing after me, ringing their bells louder and louder, is the same feeling I get when I am alone in the house with my tweenage son, especially if I go in the bath and he’s pinballing around the house getting frustrated by internet blackouts.

I was in the bath last week and I swear I heard him whisper under the door: “You must be erased.” To make it sound even more chilling, he did it in a camp voice.

Puberty check list.

So, if you’re wondering if you’re child’s hit puberty or not, here’s a quick check list: Are they obsessed with retro detective shows? Can you hear what sounds like Larry Grayson issuing death threats under the bog door? Are you dead?

Note.

I have since learned that the noise I heard in the bathroom was not my son threatening me, it was in fact a slow release of spray coming out of the shower head, making a sort of, shuwmistbeeherazed, noise. I know this because it happened again the other day when my son was out and only my wife was in.

Three things dads should avoid.

Drunk mums who brag about the strength of their pelvic floor.

Drunk mums; we all know one, are one or are married to one, but how do they let people know how strong their pelvic floor is when they are completely hammered at a kid’s birthday party? They do synchronised star jumps; that’s how.

They tend to hang around in the kitchen, so be vigilant when entering. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve gone into the kitchen at a party and seen a Gin Mummy doing star jumps and shouting, “Look at me! I’ve had four kids as well,” or “Look at me! I’m doing lunges and I haven’t spilled any wine.”

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Drunk mums go from  this…

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…to this in ten minutes. That’s less time than it takes the space shuttle to leave orbit.

 

Freerunning.

Freerunning, or Parkour as it’s known in France, is famous for spectacularly nosediving from cool to uncool in the fastest time ever; even quicker than flash mobs.

If you don’t know what Freerunning is, it’s a leisure pursuit that allows both amateurs and experts the opportunity to bang their knackers on park benches and then upload it to youtube. 

For some people testicles are important, and if you’re one of those people, Freerunning should be avoided at all costs until the day arrives when the male anatomy becomes so advanced that men can tie their testicles around their neck for safety, or wear them as a hat, just like what Pharrell does.

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The future may not be all jet packs and space travel, it could be bollock hats.

Jennifer Aniston’s perma-erect nipples in Friends.

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Only joking, don’t avoid these; record and pause all you want.  

Here’s how I cleverly hide the fact that I’m purely focused on the acting abilities of Aniston’s nipples while I am watching Friends.

Wife: Why are you watching Friends again?

Me: It’s so well written.

Wife: Which series is it?

Me: Not sure, how can you tell just by looking at it?

Wife: Easy, is Chandler fat or thin?

Me: Which one is, Chandler?

 

Unwarranted Flash Mob criticism explained.

‘Dude!’ I hear you saying in fluent ‘guy’ speak. ‘What you doing disrespecting flash mobs?’ I’m edgy, what can I say, but it’s quite easy once you’ve seen this, the laziest flash mob ever… http://bit.ly/1pEVipe

My son has just pointed out that what happens in the video isn’t actually a flash mob, it is in fact – real. Take off the rose-tinted glasses boy, as you get older you’ll come to realise that you’ll never find 20 knickerless catwalk models hanging about in the bus station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In-depth analysis of the PR-Blogger relationship.

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Pipe not included.

The world of parent blogging is all new to me but the important role PR companies play in the daily life of a blogger is slowly emerging.

Once a month you will be asked to review an eastern european board game called, Bobble, or Froggle or Frog Bobble. While you are doing this, all the top bloggers will drive you insane by getting all the good stuff to review such as, Jaffa Cakes and tea bags.

The email will always start, ‘I hope this email finds you well’ which may seem a little frightening, as though they are expecting something bad to happen to you at any moment, but on the upside, you’ve just learned an ominous email greeting that you can use to make people think you’re hiding in a bush with a gun trained on their temple.

Next, they will subtly reveal that they have a massive marketing department by saying, ‘After careful consideration we think your readers are perfect for Frobble’. Now, I have met most of my readers, and not one of them is a Frobbler. They can barely be arsed to read my normal blog never mind spend time reading about how I spent the night Frobbling with the next door neighbour’s kids.

At this point it’s a good opportunity to try and scare the PR person by asking for payment. Just send them an email saying something like, ‘I hope this email finds you well. How much do you pay for reviews?’ They will reply by saying they don’t have the ‘budget’ for paying bloggers and that the £8.99 game is your payment.

This may sound bad but don’t worry, what it actually means is that they see the board game as legal currency and as such you will be able to use Frobble to pay for your petrol. Just go up to the counter and explain that you don’t have a ‘budget’ to pay for petrol, but all they have to do is review Frobble; about 300 words and a few pics – no rush.

Once you have refused to do the review it is then OK to go onto Twitter and check who actually accepted to do the review, and feel that somehow the PR lady is cheating on you. Repeat this each month until you get the Jaffa Cake gig and then retire.

This post doesn’t adequately tell you exactly what happened to my testicles.

It’s a glorious Friday morning, midway through the school summer holidays, and I am stretched out on a chair in the Doctor’s surgery next to my injured son. My son is nervous and is reading aloud anything that scrolls across the electronic notice board in the waiting room.

X-Ray scans must be submitted before 12 noon…” his legs judder nervously up and down like two engine pistons. “There were 346 missed appointments last month…” he looks around like a Meerkat on high alert. “X-ray scans must be submitted before 12 noon.”

I look at him reassuringly and say, “They really don’t want X-rays after 12, do they?”

No,” he replies, and laughs the nervous laugh of a child preoccupied with the thoughts of doom associated with a doctor’s appointment.

I try and take his mind of it, “Hey,” I say in a cool dad voice. “Why don’t you go up to the receptionist and tell her that you’ve got some X-rays, but she can’t have them till after 3pm.”

He shakes his head in annoyance, and starts reading out the messages again. “Mrs Thorner to Dr Bartholemew. Room 2.”

You don’t need to read out all the messages,” I whisper to him. “Just read out the X-ray stuff, not people’s names.” We sit in silence, all we can hear is Ken Bruce on the radio. Rock Me Amadeus, by Falco, chants its way out of the radio

My son starts nervously singing, “Amadeus, Amadeus…Amadeus. Amadeus, Amadeus…Amadeus. Amadeus, Amadeus. Oh, oh, oh Amadeus. Come and rock me Amadeus. Amadeus…”

Have you heard this before?” I ask him.

No.”

How come you know the words?” He doesn’t laugh.

The doctor is now thirty minutes late for our appointment. We used the touch screen computer to log in and the computer flashed up that we had been ‘acknowledged’. I think thirty minutes is the official length of time you can wait before doubting a computer, so I approach the receptionist to check if the computer knows that we are here.

Hi. Our appointment was thirty minutes ago. I’m worried the computer doesn’t know we’re here. Does it?”

Yes,” she replied. “The computer and I both know you are here. We are very busy.” I look around the sparse reception room. There is an old man in one corner reading a leaflet and in the other corner is my son who is murdering, Knights in White Satin, by the Moody Blues.

I glance back at the receptionist. It’s just with a computer, you never know; you know? I just prefer talking to a human.”

The Doctor is very busy,” the human snaps back.

I return and decide to calm my son’s nerves by telling him a gruesome medical anecdote which will put his bruised wrist into perspective, “You know, when I was your age…”

…It’s not another one of your stories is it, Dad? I’ve heard them all before. Please don’t tell me the one about how your first girlfriend dumped you for a dwarf.”

Ssshhh. I think the preferred term is: Little Person. No, I’m going to tell you a new story, one that will put all this into perspective.”

Go on.”

When I was your age, I was the subject of the following sentence: ‘Quick! We need to get him to a hospital within the next hour or he may lose the testicle’.”

My son laughs the nervous laugh of a boy having to listen to his dad talking about his testicles and says, “So, what you’re trying to tell me is that she went with the dwarf because he had two testicles?”

Before I get the chance to clarify the testicle anecdote he comforts himself by reading the notice board again, “Repeat prescriptions can only be issued for one month…Brodie Boffin to Dr West. Room 3.” He looks up at me nervously and says, “That’s us, Dad.” He takes my hand, squeezes hard and we both get up. I look down at him and say, “Little Person. The Little Person had two testicles.”

Can you use a selfie stick in a Swinger’s club?

My wife rushes into the room; a cheeky grin spreads across her face. I’ve seen that look before; someone’s died.

Have you heard? Have you? You’ll never guess in a million years,” she pants breathlessly and plonks hands on hips.

Over the years my wife and I have learned to share out the household chores that play to our strengths; I do the bins, and my wife breaks the news of celebrity deaths. This isn’t her only job, she also buries family pets. She’s a one-stop-shop for all your funereal needs. I fully expect that when I die she’ll do the eulogy, catering and digging.

My wife gets her fondness of announcing celebrity deaths from her mother. I got five missed calls from my mother-in-law when Jackson died, in fact I think that’s how Tito found out.

I do what I always do in this situation, I stare back at my wife and mime sifting through a mental list of celebrities that I think are knocking on death’s door, I call it, The Dead Pool, but she always interrupts me before I can say, Freddie Starr.

She dumps herself next to me on the couch and says, “I’ve just heard…” I am urging her to mouth the words, Freddie Starr, “… that there’s a Swinger’s club in Pudsey on a Wednesday afternoon.”

“Won’t that clash with the Farmer’s Market?” I reply sarcastically, and she gives me a withering look, the kind of look I think husbands see before their wives go on an afternoon shopping trip to Pudsey.

I’ve got to the age now where I can barely be arsed to go to the cinema in the afternoon, never mind shag strangers in Pudsey. For a start, the parking’s terrible and I wouldn’t know what to wear.

I give my wife a quizzical look, flip open the ipad and type: Is Freddie Starr dead? I get a quick response, he is alive and well, so I put Freddy back in the Pool. My wife frantically scans around the room for other people to gossip about swinging to, but the kids don’t look too interested, so she targets me again.

“You know Gary’s mum from year 5?” 

“Yes.”

“Apparently, she’s been swinging since year 2.” 

“Isn’t she married?” 

“Most of the time,” she replies optimistically.

“How many days of the week are you married?” I ask.

The phone rings before I can get an answer. It’s my mother-in-law trying to get through on our celebrity death line. We all pretend to look busy, which I’m rubbish at, so I pick up the phone.

“Who has died? Tell me, tell me,” pesters my wife, tugging my sleeve as I listen to her mother on the phone.

“No-one. She’s just called to ask if you want to go to the Farmer’s Market in Pudsey on Wednesday afternoon.”

“You’re kidding me. That’s next door to the Swinger’s club.”

“Yes, I’m joking, but I’m afraid we need to take Cilla Black out of the Pool.”

Breaking Updates.

Since I posted this I’ve had allot of people messaging me for more information about the Swinger’s club, here’s what I know:

The club is split into three pleasure zones: a Group Room, a Couple’s Room and a Voyeur Room, and yes, the orgy room does have free wifi. The dress code is, office casual, and no, they don’t allow selfie sticks.

More details as I get them.

 

Captain Nemo and the classic £20 con trick.

Like most parents, I sometimes need a break from parenting to recharge my batteries, and it’s the same with writing a blog about parenting; a short interlude can give me clarity, plus I think my one reader (Hi Margaret – how’s prison life treating you?) needs a break too.

So, just to spritz things up, I occasionally post the best bits from my now defunct first blog, which ran for three years and revealed some of the curious goings-on at my cafe.

Enjoy the break and normal service will be resumed next week.

This is episode three in a five part series and includes: Captain Nemo, a shocking sex story that will change the way you look at Cbeebies, the infamous £20 con trick and details of a kid’s game I invented called: What am I scratching now? 

The classic £20 con trick.

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A Mancunian showing off his new wardrobe for spring/summer 15.

Let me start this blog by saying that not all Mancunians are criminals.

I know a couple of Mancs who are wonderful (that’s maybe stretching it a bit; they’re OK) but we’ve only ever had two in the cafe and they’ve both tried the £20 con trick; a con that all shopkeepers get stung by at some point.

I’m still confused about how it works, but the upshot is, a Manc waddles in with a £20 note and waddles out with £30 and a can of coke.

All I can say is that Mancs must really love fizzy pop and money. Or perhaps I’m mistaken, and there is a pop and cash shortage in Manchester, for which I apologise, but I haven’t seen anything on the news. 

This is how the scam is done:

A Manc bimbles into a shop and asks for a can of coke, but only has a £20 note. Coke is 90p, we give him £19.10 in change. The Manc complains that he doesn’t want all that shrapnel change and suddenly finds a tenner in his pocket. He then asks if he can have the twenty back and use the tenner instead, and this is where I get confused, but somehow he ends up with £30 and a can of coke.

This first happened 2 days ago, and the word must have spread around Mancland because another one tried it yesterday. I don’t know why they don’t just form an orderly queue, or maybe do it a bit slower so I can work out how it’s done.

Failing that they could try a more flamboyant act of 18 century deception to get pop, such as the classic magician’s trick of sawing a woman in half. The top half is holding a twenty, the bottom half wants the change, the legs give back a tenner and the head gets the pop. 

To be honest, it really upset my wife. Whenever you get conned it makes you feel vulnerable and naïve, so her faith in humanity has taken a bit of a hit. It’s also made me fear for her safety when she is working alone, which is not something I bargained for when we first opened the cafe.

To put my wife’s mind at ease, I’ve decided to get rid of all the coke and stock Lilt instead; no one drinks Lilt. It’s a simple tactic; just remove temptation. I employ the same technique when I’m hiring staff, that’s why all my waitresses look like wardens from Prisoner Cell Block H.

Just to clarify, it’s not to stop me from being tempted, it’s the customers. I once employed a pretty waitress but we got loads of Justin Bieber types, and dads who’ve been ‘married too long’ staring at her through the window. I went out a few times to reason with them, but I found I got quicker results if I just hit them with a broom. 

My customers are sex mad.

Here’s some sex gossip I overheard in the cafe today.

One of my regular customers, let’s call him Barry, lives in a terraced property next to a woman, let’s call her Margaret (Hi Margaret) who is also a regular. It turns out that she is a Commercial Broker and an avid sex screamer.

While Barry was decorating his child’s bedroom, he overheard the sex screamer shouting: “F*ck me harder! Aaaaagh you twat! Squeeze my f*cking tits…aaaagh! That’s it, put it in there. Aaaagh…F*cking hell!”

The problem is that her boyfriend is the spitting image of Mr Tumble.

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What am I scratching now?

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We shopkeepers take an overseas vacation around this time of year to give the impression to our competitors that we are doing much better than they are. It’s all smoke and mirrors of course; admittedly, we have just returned from Italy, but it was on a tight budget.

On the last night of our holiday we were all crammed together in a hotel in Pisa, not in the city centre, but some way outside the city in a business district. The air conditioning was broken, and someone had nicked the bath plug. I can’t say who did it, but I bet there’s a Manc somewhere guzzling coke and admiring his collection of European bath plugs.

There was laminate flooring in all the rooms, and the walls were paper thin, so you could hear every footstep. All we could hear from the guy next door was a tippy-tap noise on the laminate, going from the bathroom to the bed. He was either racing cockroaches, or he had really long toenails and a weak bladder.

To alleviate the tension, I decided to play a game I’ve invented that always helps to get the kids to sleep, it’s called: What am I scratching now? This is how you play:

Turn out the lights, scratch a body part and the contestants have to guess which bit; simple.

I always go for the same three areas: ankle, foot and ballbag. If any of the kids shout out the correct combination of: ankle, foot and ballbag, they are the winners.

The fantastic underwater adventures of Yorkshire’s Captain Nemo.

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I always try and make sure I’m in the cafe on Tuesday mornings because that’s when Captain Nemo floats in. 

Nemo is a retired submarine commander who loves spinning exaggerated tales about battling Johnny Foreigner beneath the ocean waves. As soon as he’s placed his order, I ring the chemist next door and he immediately stops selling itchy cock cream and pops in. We both sit down, like a couple of dough-eyed kids in library corner, with a strong cup of tea and a hot chocolate brownie (only £2.20!) and listen to a weathered old man talking about submarines. 

According to Nemo, during the cold war Russia deployed subs up to the northern Scottish coast to spy on us Brits. They would play a game of cat and mouse with our submarines; hiding in the reeds and slipping in behind our subs. This really annoyed the Royal Navy, because once a sub is behind you; it’s game over. So with great fortitude and that unique sense of British endeavour, the Royal Navy dispatched our entire submarine fleet to the Channel, with strict orders to do the same to the French.

 

Off-grid activities to do with the kids on a budget.

Watch TV.

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The next door neighbour has just bought a big ass plasma screen, stuck it on the wall and hasn’t closed his curtains since.

I think the plasma fitting instructions tell you to use appropriate wall fixings that can handle the weight and to leave the curtains open for the first few months so everybody can see that you’ve got one.

To cash in, I made Brodie a rope swing. When he reached the apex of the swing he could see what they were watching.

We watched parts of Harry Hill yesterday and a sizeable chunk of Eggheads today.

Acrobatics.

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I don’t know about you but after a hard week at work I like to unwind by seeing how many nappies I can balance on my son’s head.

Last night I managed to stack a jaw-dropping 16 nappies on the boy’s head.

I’m sure in years to come he will look back at this achievement with much pride and thank me for helping him break a record he didn’t even know he wanted to break.

Craft time.

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I don’t know about you, but after I’ve relaxed by balancing nappies on my son’s head, I like to march him down to the local supermarket, so that he can accomplish my dream of seeing him sat upon a throne of multi-pack kitchen rolls. The look of joy on my little lad’s face will stay with me forever.

Make up your own games.

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Quality time with the kids is important. I like to turn off the TV and invent new parlour games. This is one of Brodie’s favourites. It’s called, BOX BALLOONS!!

It’s pretty straight forward, I put Brodie in a big box and put him in a room where there are some balloons.

You cannot see his little face, because it’s in a big box, but I can assure you he is enjoying every minute of the two hours he has to be in there.

Gracie is sat at the table behind him, and even though she is far away, you can just about make out the look of joy spreading across her face, as it suddenly dawns on her that when she gets older she will too have to play, BOX BALLOONS.

Role play.

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Some parents force their kids to become cooler versions of themselves when they were young, which has resulted in a generation of tiny body poppers; popping, locking and whirling about all over the place. I don’t agree with this. In my view, it is much kinder on your kids to force them to look like Brat Pack characters. I force mine to look like James Spader.

Upon my command: “Look like James Spader now!” My son has to rush around, find his Rayban Wayfarers and adopt a confident pose.

He then has to be dismissive towards a college geek who will then ironically beat him in a love dual for the hand of the college sweetheart.

Obviously, I don’t do this with my young daughter. I force her to look like Baby Bjorn Borg.

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My wife has super powers but only after drinking gin.

It is Thursday evening around 7pm, and my wife is working through her second day of a gruelling gin hangover. My wife can get a little caustic when she’s hungover, so to ease tensions, I have been avoiding her. I reckon I only have four hours left to endure before she slumps into a coma on the sofa, so I take the plunge and enter her lair. With great caution, I open the door…

Everything seems normal, there is crap all over the floor and my wife is laid out on the couch flicking through an old photo album. She turns to me and says, ‘Hi’ in a spritely fashion. I say, ‘Hi’ back and cautiously sit down beside her.

My wife continues to flick through the album, she stops at a picture of me in my younger days and says: “You look so much better in 2D.”

“But I spend most of my time in 3D,” I reply.

“4D. You forgot about your smell.”

I am constantly amazed by my wife’s ability to elevate and deflate in the same sentence. I get up to leave and remind myself that in future I should never return to a lit firework.

Living with my wife during a hangover is not all misery though, when she’s not finding me unbearable, she is doing a stirling job of ignnoring the kids. In fact, I could swap the kids for two chimps and she’d never notice. She denies this of course, and says that if the kids were swapped for chimps she’d know because the house would be cleaner.

Thankfully, I’m saved from any more complimentary insults by our son who bursts into the room shouting: “My eyes! My eyes!!” like one of the old hags in Macbeth, and rubs both of his eyes with the palms of his hands. “My vision has gone all blurry. I can see little dots. They are all in clusters.”

My wife looks perplexed and says to me: “I used to really like Clusters; they were my favourite cereal. Did they stop making them? I’ll google it.” She starts scrolling.

My eyes. My eyes!” wails my son.

Excellent! They still make them,” exclaims my wife. “Score!”

I make soothing noises about his eyeballs and look over at my wife, prodding away on the ipad, and wonder why I’ve never noticed before that she says: ‘Score!’

Do you mind,” I say pointedly.

What’s the matter?” she barks.

Can you come off the ipad and help me look after our son.”

The injured chimp looks longingly at his mother, eventually she presses ‘Buy Clusters’ and comes over to dish out hugs and cuddles. This gives me a golden opportunity to dump my parental duties and tip-toe out of the room. I can feel her eyes burning into the back of my neck as I escape. As well as giving her a two-day hangover, gin also appears to have given her laser vision.

A few hours later the kids are in bed and my wife and I are sat downstairs enjoying the last few hours of her hangover. My wife turns the TV on and we try to select a programme that we both like so that we can ignore it and go on our ipads.

“What about, Australian Border Control?” she asks.

“No,” I reply. “It’s just all about Chinese people smuggling fruit. I never knew Australians were so scared of Chinese fruit smugglers.”

My wife chucks the TV remote at me and says: “Here, you have it. I can’t be arsed looking any more.”

I start operating the clicker. I’m feeling adventurous and scour the unchartered channels, – high up in the 500s. I land on a programme about injured chimps and look at my wife with a sarcastic look on my face. She doesn’t see it because she is slumped awkwardly asleep; her dressing gown has parted – revealing all to the world. I sit back and think: My eyes! My eyes!

My wife and I are busy planning our next spontaneous sex session.

As I get older I find that I am unable to have sex with my wife for a full 24 hours after she has eaten cottage cheese. This wouldn’t have stopped me in my younger days. Back then I was sexually adventurous; back then I would even have sex during the afternoon.

For me, it’s the texture and smell; I have developed a real phobia about it. I have to wait until the cottage cheese is completely flushed out of her system before I can pathetically rub my body against her; lucky lady. I don’t like shiny buttons either, or Quavers. In fact, for me to have sex nowadays my wife has to be in a wetsuit eating crackers during an eclipse. This isn’t a one way street of course, there are certain things that I ingest that puts my wife off sex, such as onions and oxygen.

With this in mind, my wife and I started planning our next spontaneous sex session. I looked across the kitchen table at her; she was eating cottage cheese so that ruled out Monday and Tuesday. I moved onto Wednesday and noticed that I had a moderate workload scheduled, so Wednesday was out too.

My son shuffled in.

Guess what?” he said. My son is twelve years old and all of his conversations start in this cryptic fashion. Being the parent of a pre-teen is like being a contestant on 3-2-1.

My wife ignored our son, looked at me and asked, “What about Thursday?”

Not sure,” I replied “What’s for tea on Thursday?”

Gammon,” she replied. I turned up my nose. I don’t think gammon is classed as an aphrodisiac. I very much doubt that they give porn stars gammon and peas before they shoot a scene.

My son slammed the fridge door shut, and a couple of the fridge magnets lost their will to grab onto kid’s party invites, releasing them onto the floor. “Is nobody listening to me?” he shouted from the centre of a party invite dust cloud.

OK, sorry,” I replied. “What happened?”

My son became enthused, a trait you see less and less as they get older, so I savoured it and mentally locked the image away so I could refer to it the next time he is being unlikeable, “A girl at school got caught with a bottle of vodka in her locker.”

My wife and I both stopped trying to schedule sex, and listened to our son’s vodka in a locker anecdote.

Has she been expelled?” I asked.

I don’t know, what are you asking me for?” he replied sulkily, and I could tell from his expression that he was trying conjure up a fond memory of me looking ‘enthused’. He then flounced out of the room and slammed the door, which wafted all the invites across the room.

My wife munched on some more cottage cheese. “Friday?” she said rather hopefully.

Salad?” I asked; she nodded. “OK, let’s do Friday.”

My wife’s expression slowly changed from resignation to concern, “Do you think we should have asked him a bit more about the vodka in the locker?”

Yes,” I replied, “but let’s wait until he’s sobered up a bit first.”

From smashing pottery to group sex to devil worship in 2 minutes, but that’s pre-teens for you.

It is Thursday evening and I am watching my wife cook the tea; the tea I had promised to cook. It was a tense situation. I felt compelled to stay near her, so she knew I wasn’t off enjoying myself, but this was irritating her. The tension was momentarily suspended by my twelve-year-old son who shuffled in sheepishly and delved into the fridge. He looked submissive, like he’d done something bad and wanted to get the verbal roasting out of the way. The same look I was giving my wife.

Is something wrong?” I asked him.

Daaaad…” he said slowly and cautiously. I mentally ran through a list of ornaments I thought he’d broken, and put them in an ascending order of importance so that my reaction was proportionate.

I sort of accidentally…went to the woods with four girls. I was the only boy there.”

My wife swung round alarmingly fast and said to me: “I told you not to buy him that Lynx deodorant.” We all laughed nervously.

Over the past few weeks my son has been pestering me to buy him some Lynx deodorant. Male grooming is now the natural rite of passage for most boys, and I hear that even some remote Amazonian tribes have dispensed with circumcision rituals to mark the onset of manhood, and are now giving each other ‘Instinct by David Beckham’.

Watching a twelve-year-old boy apply deodorant is a real eye-opener. They have no concept of what is an appropriate amount to wear on a trip to the corner shop to buy fizzy dummies. I timed him yesterday and he held down the nozzle in the spray position for a jaw-dropping 14 seconds. As a result, my house smells like the Lynx testing facility and looks like a foggy London scene from an early Sherlock Holmes’ film.

My wife cautiously side-stepped me and positioned herself so that she could more easily waterboard my son to find out all about his ‘trip to the woods’.

What happened?” she asked in a cool mum voice. The kind of voice that would make a kid think it’s OK to describe how he had sex in the woods with four girls.

It was awful.” he replied. Not what I wanted to hear, but at least the ornaments were still in one piece.

It’s OK,” comforted my wife. “What happened?”

One of them started doing black magic. They were trying to summon up this spirit to move a pencil….and it did. The pencil moved!”

Emotionally, I was completely drained. I had gone from smashing pottery to group sex to devil worship in two minutes; but that’s pre-teens for you. It soon got worse. My wife appointed herself chief councillor and ushered him off to a separate room, which meant that I had to finish the tea.

Later that night I tucked myself into bed, turned off my wife’s Ipad, which was blasting a white light into her sleeping face, and then rolled over. Ten minutes later there was an apologetic knock at the door, followed by a strong waft of Lynx. A sheepish voice broke the fragile silence, “I’m scared,” it said. “Can I sleep in here with you tonight?” 

I woke up my wife, which startled her and she started screeching like a possessed witch. Trust me here, a startled wife is not something a boy needs to witness when he is looking for reassurance that demonic spirits don’t exist. Eventually, we both agreed that he could sleep at the foot of the bed in a sleeping bag.

My son zipped himself in tightly, as though someone had told him that spirits from the fourth dimension struggle to undo zips. I spent a long time trying to reassure him, so much time in fact that I was starting to get annoyed. Eventually, I sensed that he was only half-reassured, so I took this as an opportunity to turn off the light. Darkness wrapped its ominous cloak around us.

A few moments later he piped up: “Dad, how do you know ghosts aren’t real and they won’t get me?”

Because they’re all allergic to Lynx. Now go to sleep!”

I have since found out that my son was referring to this, the latest internet Mexican demon summoning craze….http://dailym.ai/1duC96r

How to shout at other parents and get away with it.

When my wife’s not shouting at me, I like to spend this ‘downtime’ by shouting at the kids. I know this isn’t a great use of my time, I would much rather spend it shouting at a few parents whose kids have been mean to my kids. But how can you lose your rag with other parents and then not feel awkward on the school drop-off?

Here’s a top tip I’ve learned recently, and it works like a charm. I know, because someone did it to me. You can subtly persecute other parents by volunteering to organise the school summer fair. Apparently, that’s what it’s there for.

Joining the School Summer Fair Committee will give you free rein to order around some of those sickeningly enthusiastic parents from year 1, and sadistically stick them on the coconut shy with some of those jaded parents from year 5, who specifically said they didn’t want to do the ‘bloody’ coconut shy again. That’s me, by the way.

Because one of my kids insulted a committee member’s kid 6 years ago, the committee exact their revenge by sticking me on the coconut stall, and because my wife hates watching pensioner’s eat trifle, they put her on the tea tent. The tea tent is, of course, something of a contradiction. It serves tea, but the ‘tent’ part of the title only lasts ten minutes before it’s blown away.

This year we face the three main perennial problems, they are:

Effing ballache number one.

The tea tent has no access to water.

My solution is to get two of my best teenage waitresses, Pepsi & Shirley, plus one mature waitress, Vinegar Tits, to carry buckets of water from the cafe to the park.

Yesterday I timed them running with two full buckets, and Vinegar Tits beat Pepsi & Shirley by a nose. Problem solved.

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The cafe girls on the bucket run.

Effing ballache number two.

We’ve heard on the grapevine that there is going to be trouble between rival gangs at the event. Apparently, the Kirkstall Krips are going to rock up and cause trouble with the Village Masif.

The Police have warned us that if it is sunny, we may be swamped by groups of topless males drinking cans of Stella, who are more than likely to be accompanied by ‘women of easy virtue.

This concerns me because the coconut stall is the first stop for any drunken gangsta wanting to show off his hunting skills to the easily virtuous, or Big Bev as she’s known locally.

Working the shy for the past few years has taught me that nothing turns a woman on more than seeing her man win a coconut. I think it’s how Mark Antony wooed Cleopatra. It probably went like this:

Antony: “I give to you, Queen Cleopatra, the entire southern provinces of Rome and Gaul, and this coconut, which I won first throw; didn’t need the other two balls.”

Cleopatra: “Eeeeh thanks, Mark. Let’s shag.”

Thankfully, the committee has decided to hire three bouncers, and I’m getting two of them. The spare bouncer is guarding the other potential hotspot for trouble: the tombola stall.

Effing ballache number 3.

New members of the committee always try and make a name for themselves by coming up with something ‘fresh & exciting’ for the school fair, which has the effect of infuriating the rest of the committee.

The ‘fresh & exciting’ idea is always the same: donkey rides. It’s a complete non-starter because it’s easier to get insurance to go to the moon than it is to allow a toddler to ride on a sixty-year-old donkey called, Bluebell on school property.

This year our fresh idea is: Classic Cars. Unfortunately, someone has typed ‘Plastic Cars’ on all the posters.

A table full of plastic cars is not much of a crowd-puller, but we don’t want to be criticised for misleading the public. My solution is to place a table displaying plastic cars next to the classic cars, just in case someone has turned up with the sole intention of viewing small plastic cars.

Crap Raffle Prizes.

No piece about a school fair would be complete without a rogue’s gallery of crap raffle prizes.

This is the booty that we came home with this year. It’s the usual suspects I’m afraid. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the inflatable hammer, because it burst the very first time my daughter smacked me in the nuts with it.

Crap talc set.

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The crap talc set is great for office workers because they can re-gift it for their secret Santa.

Unidentified toy animal.

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If anyone can tell us what animal this is supposed to be we would be very grateful. I’m thinking; startled chicken. The manufacturers have gone to great lengths to add the belly button, so it’s obviously an animal known world-wide for its belly button.

Sideways glance monkey.

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Everyone needs a cuddly toy that expresses disapproval through its eyes. 

A pensioner eating trifle.

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The wife will be pleased. Not sure where we’re going to put it though.

Unofficial Hulk merchandise.

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I love this. Not sure which feature gave the game away to me first that this wasn’t an official Hulk toy. Think it was the teeth, then the eyebrows and the fact that one arm is way bigger than the other.

How to make kid’s boots for the price of a loaf of bread, and other stories…

 

Due to popular demand, my first ever blog, which ran for three years and centred around the characters that visited my small cafe, which is nestled in a little village somewhere up north, is now closed.

Yes, the blog that showed you how to make a pair of kid’s boots for just the price of a loaf of bread; how Tina Turner can help increase customer footfall; how to spy on your staff without getting caught and how we came into possession of the famous James Bond spoons.

If you missed it, take a look at the best bits below, before I turn the closed sign round for one last time. Tears, hugs, trudge off into the distance.

In-depth customer footfall analysis.

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I’ve never owned a cafe before, so the ebb and flow of customers is all new to me, but slowly, an in-depth pattern of customer footfall is steadily emerging.

Monday’s are quiet. In fact on Mondays I could easily dance around the cafe naked to Nutbush City Limits and nobody would notice.

Wednesday’s are also quiet, I could stand in the window and wank off to God Save the Queen, without being spotted standing in a window wanking off to God save the Queen.

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are packed. We get people waiting around the block, just like when Star Wars first came out.

So if I had to do a powerpoint presentation to prospective cafe owners about the experiences I’ve gathered so far, I would break it down like so: If you want to wank off in the window to the national anthem or Nutbush City Limits, I would do that on Mondays and Wednesdays but don’t do it on the other days. I would highlight this bit as important.

Window wars.

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The Harrods’ window displays are always spectacular, but are mere rags and baubles compared to what the chemist, my neighbour in our little muse of shops, can come up with.

This year he has gone for the classic, shiny pink paper and santa rabbits surrounded by cotton wool balls, with a Gillette shaving pack as the centre piece.

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I am new to all this shop game but I always thought that a chemist didn’t get much passing trade. It’s a specific shop for a specific need, mainly athlete’s foot powder and cream for your itchy cock or fanny.

In fact, I think all chemists should be renamed: The Foot, Cock and Fanny shop. I assume, from the products he’s selling, his prime customer is an hermaphrodite with trench foot, and I doubt an hermaphrodite with trench foot is going to be lured in by a Gillette bumper pack.

My missus has just pointed out that the chemist sells a wider range of products than I have suggested, and that people also visit the chemist if they have a cold or an itchy arse – fair point.

How to spy on your staff.

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Sir John Harvey Jones, MBE, was one of Britain’s greatest industrialists. He is mostly remembered for his TV show ‘Troubleshooter’ where he tried to breathe new life into ailing businesses.

In order to get some ideas for my own cafe I bought his book, ‘Managing to Survive’, but I was disappointed to find that nowhere in the entire book did he advise that you could increase profitability by spying on your staff from a bush over the road, which is what I did yesterday.

The business leader also didn’t advise taking pictures of them from a stranger’s bedroom, which I also did yesterday.

I ended up in the bush and the bedroom because I managed to get a job fitting shelves at a house directly opposite the cafe. And I think anybody in my position would have done the same.

The internationally renowned business guru also forgot to recommend ringing up your head waitress, in my case Vinegar Tits (she’s a bit bossy), and revealing to her that you know what she is wearing and where she is standing; just to see if she can still serve hot panninis (only £4.99) whilst in fear of being shot through the window by a crazed gunman.

I am glad to report that Vinegar Tits passed this standard business test with flying colours.

Eat my biscuits! Eat my biscuits!

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Owning a cafe means that sometimes you come into contact with strange characters; characters that have slipped through the net and inhabit the darker corners of society.

Every Wednesday morning a man stands in the doorway of the cafe and shouts: “Dalek don’t work! Dalek don’t work!”

It’s not clear if it is a broken toy Dalek that he’s referring to, or he’s infuriated by the lack of job opportunities for Daleks. Nobody has the balls to ask him.

Now we’ve attracted another random shouter. By the end of the year we’ll have gathered enough to form a very angry choir. This new guy looks like Oddbod from Carry on Screaming and shouts: “Eat my biscuits! Eat my biscuits!” He then ambles to the counter, pulls some biscuits out of his pocket and we have to eat them.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell the heavenly spirit or body that designates cafes for people to shout at, that we are running at full capacity, but my rival down the road, Big Keith’s Butty shop, is taking on new shouters. Thanks very much.

How to make you kids a pair of boots for the price of a loaf of bread.

When you first start out in the cafe business, you end up with a lot of stock left over because you are not attuned to your customer’s demands. It’s gut-wrenching to see your profits go straight into the bin, so to combat this, I used to just eat whatever was left. In the first week of trading I think I ate 15 quiches and drank 24 cans of Lilt.

Then, obviously, I wised-up and started using the excess food to make clothes for my kids.

My most popular creation was this pair of boots I made for my son, which are finely crafted from two loaves of Warburton’s Toasty bread.

After road testing them for a few days, he concluded that they weren’t very good in wet conditions, or dry for that matter.

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I even got a commission to make a pair of bespoke bread boots from my good friends Paul and Nina Gillette. By commission, I mean they didn’t ask me to do it. I just made them and left them on their doorstep, but I hear they brought joy to their kids for up to 2 minutes before they fell to bits.

My son’s first time sat at the adult table, let’s hope nobody mentions ‘you know who’.

There will come a time when your children want to sit with the adults on family visits, and forsake their usual childish activities when they are at grannie’s house of dragging a reluctant dog around the garden on a lead.

My son is twelve and he wanted to take the plunge into the world of adult chat on a trip to see my wife’s relatives in Liverpool. On such occasions, I think all you can do is just sit back and pray no-one mentions Jimmy Saville.

Thankfully my wife was on hand and she effortlessly steered the conversation into the safe waters of death by rabies. I gave my son a ‘see what I have to put up with’ face, followed by a ‘fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to get worse’ face. He looked out of the window longingly at his 6 year-old sister who was happily dragging the dog around the garden. I looked longingly too until she awkwardly held the dog in the air, in the same clumsy manner that Michael Jackson held his baby over that hotel bannister, hundreds of feet above the pavement. That’s another person we don’t want mentioning.

It’s appropriate to say at this point that my wife was tipsy and when she is lightly drunk she rattles off the same three tipsy anecdotes, anecdotes that were impossible to verify, until now.

Her jewel in the crown bullshit anecdote is that she once saw Magnum actor Tom Selleck in a bakery queue in Canada, and that she could feel a ‘vibe’ between them, even though she was stood three spaces behind him. Apparently, Tom is great at seducing women with his calves and shoulder blades. Her second one is that Craig Mchlachlan, the guy who played Henry in Neighbours, once tried to serenade her with his guitar at York train station.

Of course I think my wife is a beautiful woman, but I am somewhat annoyed by the fact that my wife’s sexual magnetism is confined to actors in shows with titles that fall between M and N in the alphabet; Magnum and Neighbours. It’s an enduring mystery to me why actors from other shows in the alphabet don’t want to seduce my wife with their calves.

Her third story isn’t a bullshit story, it’s a bullshit fact. It’s that an English man in England contracted rabies off a native English bat last year.

Sadly, time was up for this bullshit fact, a perfect storm was on its way, because there was a young person with access to google sat opposite her, and the nail in the coffin was that sitting quietly in the corner of the room, was a mysterious female stranger, who we were all about to learn had once been bitten by a rabid dog. We all collectively tensed up slightly when she told us this, and I saw several phones slide under the table to ask google if you can catch rabies at a dinner party in Liverpool in the middle of the afternoon.

The rabid dog victim started telling her story which involved a lot of hand gestures. “In India,” she said, “When you get bitten by a rabid dog you don’t ring for an ambulance, you call the Police, because they know what to do,” and then she did a menacing throat slitting gesture with her thumb across her neck. She then did another menacing hand gesture to show something else the Police did to the dog, which looked exactly how I would mime trying to smash open a chocolate orange.

The internet then interrupted with the answer and relayed it like a trance through the young person. It was bad news. It was indeed true that an English man contracted rabies, but he contracted it from a Scottish bat in Scotland. There was a slight pause, apart from the rabies victim who was busy showing another woman, through the medium of mime, that the best way to open a chocolate orange is to smash it over a dead dog.

Things I hate in my house that I have to look at everyday.

Overstuffed bowl of crap.

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This thing will haunt me till I die and then it will somehow gain the power of walking and visit my tombstone; the bastard. Passers-by will see the bowl and add their own crap to it, until one day it becomes so vast that my mortal remains become part of the bowl of crap itself. It’s the circle of life: birth, death, bowl of crap.

As you can see, the overstuffed bowl of crap is full of all the things you need to keep handy in case of an emergency such as, a red stapler with no staples in it, just in case I want to pretend to staple something. One snap card, that basically sums it all up. A Peppa pig purse you can’t fit anything in and a plastic tray full of grapes.

The grapes appear from nowhere. They burst onto the scene somewhere between the hours of 4 and 5pm on Wednesdays. I am planning to stake out all entrances next week so that I can spot the leak in my defences and then block up their point of entry. I don’t mind the grapes myself, it’s just the plastic tray. I know that once the grapes have been eaten, the plastic tray will stay in the bowl of crap for a further two weeks before it is jettisoned from the mother ship, at which point all the other bits of crap will hold their traditional farewell party, which involves buying more grapes.

We could all learn about how to deal with immigration from the crap bowl; anything and everything is welcome within its borders. Black or white, stapler or spent battery, all are treated equally. It’s essentially a swinger’s club for bric-a-brac.

The Pleasure & Pain Chair.

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My kid made this thing at primary school and it scares the life out of me, but I am unable to get rid of it because my wife is sentimentally attached to it. If she could find a magnet big enough it would be on the fridge door right now.

It looks like any other craft item from the front, but on the back it is full of spikes; pleasure and pain. Plus, to add to the freakish nature of what is just some Crunchy Nut boxes painted a luminous green, he made it with a kid at school who I have always been wary of because he is a sloppy eater; give that kid a bowl of spaghetti hoops and you better buy yourself a raincoat.

Using the stairs as shelves.

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If any member of my family is unable to stuff anything more into the overstuffed bowl of crap, they put it on the stairs. They think that the stairs are a never ending parade of shelves, that they can also use to get upstairs.

This is either a symptom of rank laziness on my family’s part, or they are trying to kill me. I once found three bowls of jelly and an empty tray of grapes on there. By found, I mean stood in, toppled over and crashed to the bottom.

 

 

Top 4 dangers of being a parent.

Playing football in the garden with an uncoordinated child.

You may as well just smash the greenhouse up now, trample the plants and fall out with your neighbours.

Washing a pre-teen boy’s bedding.

Strap on the marigolds and get yourself some horse blinkers, because you really don’t want to see anything that looks like a liquid map of Africa. Personally, when I am entering the forbidden zone to retrieve pre-teen bedding, I wear the same flame retardant suit used by Formula 1 mechanics.

For a clean retrieval, it’s best to pull the under-sheet away like a 70’s illusionists whipping off a table cloth, and then hold the bedding at arms length (the same length away from your body that you would hold someone else’s baby who has just had a massive poo) before stuffing it all in the washer.

Top Tip. If anything smears on you, best to just think of that part of your body as dead from now on.

Being ignored by a parent you said hello to just the day before.

You could donate a kidney to some parents and they’d still give you the cold shoulder 24 hours later.

I don’t know whether it’s because we are in a playground setting, but some parents see it as an opportunity to act childishly by ignoring you. It does leave them in a predicament though when they have to pass you to get out of the school, so they pretend to be engrossed with what their child is saying to avoid your gaze, which is much harder than just saying hello, I should know, I’ve done it plenty of times myself.

Paintings magnetised to the fridge reach critical mass.

I am in constant fear that the sheer weight of paintings stuck to my fridge will make the 10 ton cooler tip over, or worse, that the one Lightwater Valley fridge magnet holding it all on will eventually give up the ghost and the whole lot will be released, turning my kitchen into a scene from a presidential ticker tape parade.

 

Inappropriate things I’ve accidentally said in front of the kids.

Dropping the F-Bomb.

During the following exchange I will swap the F-bomb for the less offensive, Burt. So to be clear, when you see Burt, think f*ck.

I am wearing sandals (Birkenstock – naturally) and I am in the back room organising a glitter and glueing session with the kids. My wife is in the corner behind a heap of washing, doing the ironing. The washing heap looks like that mashed potato mountain Richard Dreyfuss made in Close Encounters. I walk over to see if my wife needs some help and she drops the hot iron on my foot.

“BUUUUUURT!”

“I’m sorry. It was an accident. Are you OK?”

“For Burt’s sake! What the Burt do you think you were doing? Burt!”

“Stop saying Burt in front of the kids.”

“Burt the kids. Just look at my Burting foot. It’s Burted.”

Mentioning one parent having an affair with another parent at the same school.

This was awkward. As you can appreciate, I think it’s appropriate to change the names of those involved. I shall refer to them as Mr and Miss X.

Me to my wife: “Did you hear about Mr X and Miss X? Apparently, they’ve been…”

One of my kids pokes a head out from behind the couch. “What about Mr X and Miss X. What have they been doing?”

“Nothing. There’s some pizza in the kitchen, do you want to go and get some?”

The kid scoots off. I find offering pizza to a kid is a great way of getting them out of the way when you want to talk privately about how other adults have got themselves into a pickle by acting like children.

“Tell me, tell me, tell me,” begs my wife.

“Mr X has been seeing Miss X behind his wife’s back. Apparently, they’ve been Burting each other since the Harvest festival.”

The top 4 scenarios that warrant confiscating a pre-teen’s iphone or tablet.

Refusal to smile on a family photograph.

This is the ultimate betrayal and should be dealt with severely. Up until the point where all your family are lined up at whatever event you’re reluctantly attending, most people will believe the propaganda you pump out that everything is rosy in your garden.

Their refusal to smile, after repeated requests, will send a ripple of fear through the congregation and will signal the start of your decline. Think of yourself as a Roman Emperor and trusted friends are now picking up stabby things.

To regain power you must immediately confiscate their phone and force them to smile. It is OK to hold up proceedings for at least ten minutes while you scream ‘enjoy yourself!’ at your kid.

Not cleaning up Coco Pop spillage.

If you’ve ever been infested by mice you’ll know that spilled Coco Pops look just like mouse droppings, and each time you enter the kitchen, and see this mess all over the surfaces, the harrowing images of removing dead mice from the insides your slippers will return to haunt you.

If you’re unaccustomed to Coco Pops, when I say they look exactly like mouse shit, I am not kidding. I imagine when they were created in the laboratory, one developer turned to another and said: “Yes they taste great, but how can we make them look more like mouse shit.”

It will take at least three attempts to get them to mop it up, so the dead mouse image will stay with you, and be repeated daily. It doesn’t get any better when they try and clean it up, because children don’t understand the delicate intricacies of cleaning by using a flannel for mopping purposes, to absorb the moisture, and then gently dabbing with a dry cloth, they will just grab one of your T-shirts and go for it.

Not cleaning up Crunchy Nut spillage.

Same as above but instead of the dead mouse in a slipper image, the spilled Crunchy Nut will remind you of a severe case of dermatitis you had.

Pretending to turn the volume down on their tablet.

On the rare occasion that the whole family are sat in the same room, it is your right as a parent to have the volume control on your tablet set louder than your children’s.

The modern family viewing experience, prior to gadget confiscation, goes like this:

Someone puts the telly on and flicks to a suitable program that all the family members can ignore without being offended by it. It then plays away to itself at an ambient volume that doesn’t drown out each family member’s tablet.

The parent’s tablets are awarded the next highest volume setting and the kids get the lowest. At strategic intervals the kids will secretly turn up their volume. You need to keep an eagle eye on this, as the background chatter of whatever Japanese cartoon they are watching can create an intense throbbing pain in your temples. Please be vigilant. So just to clarify, that’s one eye on the TV, one eye on your own tablet and one eye on the kids.

Intermittently, you need to shout: ‘turn it down!’ to both kids at a level that is much higher than the TV. The sort of level you might expect an armed robber from the 1970’s to shout at a bank cashier. They will in turn scream: “I have. I’ve turned it down!” Please ignore this, as it is complete bullshit. They will then pretend to turn it down. Repeat this scenario for the next two hours until you finally snap, and then you should confiscate anything shiny with an apple logo on it. You can then punish them further by making them watch the TV.

 

 

What’s the precise date your child turns hideous?

The exact date is: the October half-term holiday in their first year at high school.

The signs will be pretty clear, they are as follows:

Embarrassing rapping.

Your child will couple up with another child and rap; this is, unfortunately, inevitable. One will do the embarrassing rapping and the other will do embarrassing beatboxing.

In gay relationships, you can usually tell which is the male and which is the female, it’s the same with amateur rap duos; the one doing the beatboxing is the woman.

Surprise wrestling.

If you have a son, during the October half-term holiday they will start spontaneously trying to wrestle their father. It is a classic show of male dominance; the young pretender trying to usurp the alphamale. If you’re the father in this scenario, then I recommend that you get something bullet proof, like the family tortoise, and sellotape it to your groin.

This wrestling is unscheduled and will happen at the most inconvenient times, such as when you’re resting a hot cup of tea between your thighs, or having a secret fag in the shed. My son is, at the moment, like Kato from the Pink Panther movies. I tread carefully into rooms, open kitchen cupboards slowly and watch for minor movements in the curtains.

Hair selfies.

As we all know, extreme quiffs need constant exposure on all media platforms, and your child will see it as their job to do this. You may at this point need a separate room for your child’s hair care products. So if you’re thinking about an extension, this is a prime time.

Going to the park.

Going to the park will become a constant obsession. Your child will hear the jungle drums beat across the village and will automatically drop everything and flock zombie-like to the park. Once there, they will indulge in all of the above, in-between being ironic on the swings and swearing at strangers, which usually turns out to be someone you know, so expect a phone call later from a ‘concerned’ citizen.

Voice Breaking (boys only – in most cases).

At some point the voice of one of your son’s friends will break, and your child is soon to follow. It is OK to take the piss out of their friend, but if their parents do it to your son, it is well within your rights to ignore them for a bit and go into an adult sulk.

The introduction of an adult voice in a boy’s frame is a weird and uncomfortable time for all involved. Imagine Clint Eastwood asking you for a bowl of Coco Pops and you get the gist.

Refusal to wear a coat in cold weather

Big coats for kids going through growth spurts have a limited shelf life and may only last one season. It is your job as a parent to get your money’s worth out of it, so feel free to demand that they wear the big coat whenever they are in the vicinity of fresh air.

Perversely, it seems to be the child’s job to refuse to wear the big coat. They firmly believe that a nylon school jumper is perfect for blizzards, hurricanes and alpine trekking.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Either the brand of coat is not cool, or they have to hang their coats in the school locker room, which is usually where all the nutters hang out, and they are afraid that they might become a victim of unscheduled wrestling.