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 12-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
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?”
On date night you have to go out and then have sex, don’t blame me; it’s the rules, or 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 your 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.”
“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, and then 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, 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.
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 had 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, and released 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.”
Things I hate in my house that I have to look at everyday.
Overstuffed bowl of crap.
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.
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 essentially 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.
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 and then toppled over and crashed to the bottom.
Children: How to ignore them.
It is Saturday morning, and I’m doing what I always do on a Saturday morning; I am hiding in the toilet. It took my five-year-old daughter only a few moments to find me, but I cherished each one. She banged on the door.
“Daddy, is that you in the toilet?”
“Yes, what do you want?”
“Can you build me a pond in the back garden?”
“Not right now.”
“Can you fill it full of fishies and frogies?”
“Yes, but not right now.”
“Can you get me some juice?”
“Where’s your mother?”
“I don’t know where she is.”
“Have you tried the other toilet?”
“Yes, but it’s locked and there is no answer.”
Normally I find it hard to get a job. I am signed up to a kaleidoscope of high-energy recruitment agencies who send me details about jobs I feel obliged to like because they have spent time texting them to me. They all fade out to nothing, but as soon as I sit on the toilet I land a major contract to build a pond and populate it.
More worryingly, it appears that my wife has become better at ignoring the children than me. I don’t know the precise moment that the balance shifted in her favour, I’ll have to ask her, that’s if I ever find her again; she appears to be ‘off-grid’ at the moment.
My thoughts are once again interrupted by a clenched fist banging on the toilet door. I show my exasperation by slowly lowering the celebrity magazine, the pages fan out and make a familiar flapping noise before I eventually drop it on the floor.
“Dad, is that you?”
This time it is my son. It looks like my interrogators are working a continental shift pattern. Witty, sarcastic replies paraded through my mind like beauty contestants hoping to be selected. I rejected them all, and decided to lose my wrag instead.
“What!” I screamed in frustration.
“I don’t know.”
“Can I have some juice?”
I don’t know where my wife is, but searching for her appears to be thirsty work. I imagine my kids glugging gallons of juice as they step over the skeletal remains of other kids who have been foolish enough to look for my wife, before they have to run away from the Indiana Jones’ ball she has rigged-up in the laundry room.
“Can I go on the Xbox?”
“It’s not that simple,” he replied.
Instead of following my orders and flushing out her mother, my daughter had got derailed by a Disney movie, meaning that my son needed permission to kick her off the TV in order to play the Xbox. A high-level decision was required that would result in one of them becoming eye-wateringly upset. My mind wondered back to a much simpler time when I was being asked to build a pond and fill it full of happy, colourful things, and to a time when my wife was visible to the naked eye.
How it works: The Hipster cafe.
Due to popular demand, my first ever blog, which ran for three years and centred around the characters that visited my small cafe, 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 and how to spy on your staff without getting caught.
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.
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.
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 that 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 now views me with suspicion.
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.
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 customers are prostitutes with trench foot, and I doubt a prostitute 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.
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 – 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!
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 your 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 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.
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 were attacked by pigeons.