Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Poxy Chicken Pox

One of the great things about sending your baby to nursery is that it opens them up to new experiences.

Since being there our son's picked up sharing, crawling, standing, waving and now: chicken pox.

Yep, plenty of disease in fact. You work all week to pay lots of money to have someone look after your child and then the child gets ill because of the nursery, but you can't send them there.. so then you take time off work to pay for the place your child isn't even using.. and anyway you can see how wonderful it is.

I feel a bit like we've been collecting children's Disease Trading Cards, you know like kids swap at school. Having gathered quite a few colds, nasty coughs (there's a lot of these printed, very common) and a couple of gastroenteritis (more specialised..) we've hit the jackpot with Chicken Pox.

And ohmygod.. It's like the Plague! Hideous. And you think, how come there isn't a vaccine?! Well, there is.  In America they do immunise against it! There's a vaccination kids can have that stops them catching it, but over here in the UK we figure it'll damage the Camomile Lotion industry so we haven't bothered.

I went to the pharmacy and picked up camomile cream instead until the nice lady pointed out that this was for cracked nipples. She helpfully illustrated this for me by circling her own nipples with both hands and pulling a pained face just in case I wasn't aware of the two areas a woman might find such things. (Turns out you can use this on chicken pox by the way, so maybe she was just a bit kinky).

Anyway, it's day 4 out of a possible 10 apparently and it's pretty horrific, but does make you feel like a real parent taking care of them. Today we went to the doctors as he has it in his mouth and eye. I've never been seen so quickly! As soon as you say 'chicken pox'  you're treated like a VIP! (Very Infected Person). They march you up different stairs and lock you in a cupboard while you wait to be seen.

We're stocked up on many remedies. In a bid to be mildly useful, I'll write that the most recent advancement seems to be Virasoothe which goes on the pox to cool and ease the irritation. Plus of course calpol and calprofen.. And today I picked up some Children's Piriton Syrup. It does say on the side though 'Caution': apparently they 'shouldn't be allowed to drive or operate machinery'. So there goes our afternoon down the mine.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Muddle Earth Game Launched

Very excited. Back in June I did a load of work as a script writer on a big project for the BBC.

It was for an online game called Muddle Earth.

If you've not heard of it, Muddle Earth is a very popular children's book which was then turned into a TV cartoon by CBBC and now in turn into an online game.

Muddle Earth is a bit of a parody of the Tolkein worlds full of magic and mystery.. but with a lot more humour. I think the game looks amazing: it's a virtual Muddle Earth that kids (and big kids) can explore and take part in challenges. Basically 90% of everything that talks in the game was written by me so excuse me for being proud.

So take a look and be one of the first people to play this trial version online now. I spent many a late night pretending to be a goblin/mushroom/ogre/dragon/tree and it was great fun and really interesting. As were my dreams afterwards.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

First Capital Connect Customers on Twitter

I wonder whether the bosses of train company First Capital Connect ever check Twitter.

They needn't leave those customer surveys on the seats like they sometimes do. They could just take a look and see what people think of them in less than 149 characters.

I should point out I don't use FCC, have no vendetta against them and haven't spent ages filtering search results by the way, the following is a genuine snapshot of Twitter though and they may feel free to use it in the AGM:

1. @jimmylemas
Hats off to first capital connect for their on-train toilet facilities. It was like having a slash in the Diana memorial fountain.

2. @StormingHeaven
First Capital Connect must be intimately aware of how unimaginably sh*t their trains are, and yet they still persist without any shame.

3. @HalleStar
That's it I officially hate first capital connect trains.

4. @erinwonderland
First Capital Connect. Why are you so sh*t? Why is it always my train that runs late?! Eurgh.

5. @MissSadiMarie
Glad the weather has picked up for the ride home, shame first capital connect have f**ked up the trains as per usual. Twats.

6. @prdsgn
F*** You First Capital Connect!!!

Guess how many seats are free on the First Capital Connect to London Kings Cross consisting of 8 carriages?

@ThisIsSammy you and First Capital Connect just need to shag and get it over with

First Capital Connect: Your customers are not all cold blooded reptiles that need constant 45C

Just a quick message for first capital connect: YOU F*** F***ING F****ERS OF COMPLETE F***NESS GIVE ME MY F****ING MONEY BACK YOU F***S

You see, First Capital Connect, the trouble with making people's trains late in 2010 is you're just giving them more time to Tweet.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Google Instant

Have you seen that Google’s changed? It now has "Google Instant"

No longer do internet searches have to be percolated or plunged from a Google-tiere, no.. just one spoon, add boiling water and you know what you wanted to know.
Basically it tries to guess what you’re typing and starts searching before you’ve finished. A bit like those annoying people who try and finish your sentance and then get it wrong but try again nonetheless when you restart.

Through their research/spying on our every move, they find the average user used to take more than 9 seconds to enter a search item but.. get this.. they saw that some people took 30 to 90 seconds to type!! Really?! What were they doing?! Using their nose?! Were their hands tied? Were they searching for a hostage negotiater?

But now Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search and they say in their press release that if everyone uses Google Instant around the world then 3.5 billions seconds will be saved a day! That’s 11 hours saved every second! Which means if everyone used it by the end of October we could actually be back in June when it was sunny! I think. Hang on, let me look that up...

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Choose the fate of the BT couple!

After 5 years of adverts, BT are letting us choose the fate of Adam and Jane! If you need bringing up to date you can either watch all of them here.. or get a hobby.

By visiting BT's special website you can help decide what should happen next in their series...

I LOVE the British public's responses so far:

  • Adam and Jane change to the new BT browser and find it's as rubbish as we're finding it. Constant losses of connection. Driven by the resulting frustration; Adam throws his laptop through the window and Jane batters the home-hub before deep-frying it with a spare Mars bar.
  • Adam trips over the home hub, gets the wire wrapped around his neck and tragically dies. Jane runs into the road screaming where she is killed by a BT van. The kids go to live with their dad, but become so frustrated by his slow broadband connection that they beat him to death with his own laptop. Or: Adam and Jane get married, and they all live happily ever. either one will do.
  • Adam finds out that Jane has been cheating using his new faster BT broadband, he follows this up with a free weekend phone call to the local hitman.
  • Adam gets a fault on his phone line that BT tell him will require an engineer to fix. The fault is within his property and the dirty smelly BT engineer arrives and spends less than 10 minutes on the fault then tells him he won't be charged for it. Two months later Adam receives a bill that takes £125 out of his bank account for the engineer visit and sees this for the extortionate price that it is. He calls BT to complain but is faced with a member of staff who can barely speak English and doesn't understand what he is saying. He hangs up after getting nowhere and tries again with the same outcome. Adam then emails BT and tells them to stick their services where the sun don't shine and decides to transfer to Virgin Media. With Virgin Media he realises that he has been being totally ripped off by BT as he now gets up to 50mb broadband, a whole load of premium channels and on demand content and all his calls for the same price he was paying BT for receiving less services. Adam is now happy and calls Jane advising her to switch to Virgin Media for a better service.
  • Adam realises that he's a decent actor and that no matter how well paid these vacuous adverts are they are no substitute for a proper career. He does the decent thing and tells BT to shove it.
  • Jane gets flying elbow-dropped from on top of the wardrobe by a midget in a wrestling costume. Nobody knows how long he's been hiding there, but in hindsight food has been going missing from the kitchen for a while.  Meanwhile, a bunch of local delinquents start throwing mini babybels at Adam through an open window.
  • Just me, or would anybody else like them both killed?, nothing horrific or anything, maybe a gas explosion or hit with a rogue metorite strike.....hmmm yes that would be my choice.
  • Dear BT: Any chance of this?


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Conference Call

I had my first conference call today.

I know, I know. How very grown up.

In a way it's great: there's no way I'd have been able to sit there with my flip flop'd feet up on the table eating an ice cream in a board room. How were they to know?

In another way, it's very odd. There are lots of uncomfortable gaps in the conversation because you really need eye contact to have a proper multi-person chat.

But on the good side: the meeting was so much quicker than it would have been if we'd been in the same room because we were all so uncomfortable we wanted it done and dusted as soon as possible. And besides my fingers were sticky from the ice cream.

The only thing I wish I'd known was the opening etiquette. The automated BT lady tells you to type in the pin code you've been given to join the meeting. So, I pulled the handset away to see the keypad and carefully typed it in. As I put the ear piece back I heard the lady say 'and then press hash key'. "Ooh, this is fun!", I said as I hit hash whilst trying not to drip Magnum on it.

Suddenly there was silence and I said.. 'erm.. hello?' and another voice said 'Hi, who's that?'.. 'It's Steve..'
And then after some pleasantries an automated voice said 'Guest joining the call is..' followed by a man's voice saying 'Sean' - And then the same voice (now known as Sean) greeted us and started apologising for being late.

It was at this point I realised that what I'd missed the lady say before 'and then press the hash key' was most likely in hindsight 'Say your name now...'

So when I'd joined in the other's had heard the lady say 'Guest joining the call is.. "OOH, THIS IS FUN!"

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Football Explained

I was having a chat with my nephew yesterday.

He's only four years old and is very excited about his first World Cup.

He was telling me he'd joined a football club and then went on to explain to me how football worked:

1. 'You can't pick up the ball as that's cheating'
2. 'Two people fall over a lot'
3. 'A man blows a whistle'

To be fair, he knows more about it than me.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Middle Class Tantrum

Supermarkets really do define social classes don't they?

Never was this more clear than this afternoon.

When I'm in Tesco I often hear kids saying in a whiney voice:
"Muuu-uum can we get some sweets?"
"Muu-uum I WANT some CRISPS!!"

But today in Waitrose I heard:
"Mummy, shall I get the brioche?"

Sunday, 23 May 2010

More Things A Daddy Has Learnt

1. Always rinse the bath out properly before bathtime.  I think it's fair to say that you shouldn't find pubic hair on them for at least another 12 years.

2. If you have a bath toy Octopus by all means call him 'Olly' but if you have a bath toy Whale refrain from calling him 'Willy'. It's fine for a while until you shout out 'Come and look! He's playing with Willy in the bath!' whilst your neighbours are paying a house visit.

3. Taking a baby swimming is awesome but getting them dried on your own is hard work. Some how you end up being more wet than if you'd jumped in fully clothed.

4. Even though when 'swimming' with a baby all you do is spin in a circle, lift, push etc.. without doing any lengths or diving.. you still leave the pool absolutely starving like you've just swum the channel. How is that possible? Do vending machine operators pump something into the air that makes you crave Frazzles, Tootie Frooties and Lilt?

5. Having re-read point '1' again I think I should add that you probably shouldn't 'find' pubic hair on a 12 year old, they should simply discover it themselves.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mother's Day Musings

Becoming a parent has finally made me realise that Mother's Day isn't just a cynical ploy by Greetings Card manufacturers and florists to get us to spend money (though the same is surely still true of Valentine's Day), nor is it merely an excuse for Simply Red to release another Love Songs album (though it's a happy coincidence that keeps Mick Hucknall in curlers).

For the first time in my life I can genuinely see how amazing mums are and that they really do deserve a special day separate from their birthday on which we focus on how great they really are.

It's not that I was a bad son and didn't appreciate my mum, but I now realise (with some sadness since this is the second Mother's Day without her) that my brothers and I never really knew and therefore never really showed her quite how amazing we thought she was. Like I say, we were lovely to her.. but we couldn't have known quite how lovely she deserved us to be. We couldn't have known all of the words we should have spoken of gratitude and love. It's only since becoming a Dad that I can see all of the things my parents did for me even before I was born; all of the emotions she would have felt and everything she went through and sacrificed for me...

But here I am, a Dad, and here's the first Mother's Day for my wife, the mother to our son. He's done well: scrambled eggs, daffodils (all supermarket flowers are pink and my wife hates pink), a personalised card, a present.. but 'Mummy' insists the best gift of all was the 2 and a half hour lie in she had whilst father and son covered each other in puree'd pear and sang songs down stairs. (If I'd have known this, he'd needn't have taken our a hefty loan from the Bank Of Dad for those Spa Treatments).

But I know that actually the best gift of all was when she was finally awoken by him practising his yodelling in the room next door; it was the smile he'd have given her; the squeal of excitement; the glint in his eyes; the hug with his tiny arms and the sigh of contentedness. So I know that my Mum will have felt special too, because actually being a parent at all is easily the best gift you can be given anyway.

Although that doesn't mean you're getting off lightly when Father's Day comes round in June.