Monday, December 31, 2007


Well, Mrs C and I are recovering from a busy week with various
family members staying with us, plus on Saturday, visiting
relatives in Leicester, and then yesterday, taking our youngest
daughter back up to Leeds (with a load of her stuff).

Today, I've wired up our Virgin Media Freeview box to our old
hi-fi system, so we can now get superb quality digital radio
sound ... the only problem will be to hide the cabling somehow..
we'll probably get someone in to put it under the floor-boarding
in due course.

The other minor achievement we did was to hang a lovely painting
done by our niece. It's entitled "Day Breaks Within Me", and it
took the artist 2 years to paint it (as she has a full-time job
looking after her 1 year old son and she composes music too).
The painting looks stunning up on our dining room wall. It's
120cm wide, by the way.

This evening we watched a superb Stephen Poliakoff drama: "Joe's
" with Michael Gambon in one of the lead parts, and I'm
currently videoing "A Girl With A Pearl Earring", which I'd like
to see again.

Mrs C has gone to bed early as she woke up very early this morning
at 4am. Not that she'll sleep all that well right this minute, as
there are fireworks going off around the house as loud as artillery
fire. I'm sitting here on the computer as usual -- blogging away
while there are no "distractions" (like Mrs C talking to me).

New Year's Resolutions?

These are generally a waste of time, aren't they -- but they're fun
to think about, and a good topic of conversation too.

I've made one resolution ... which is to structure my days
a bit more ... to set about doing a household task in the mornings ..
eg putting up a few more shelves in the garage downstairs, putting
back up the roller-blind in the kitchen, and a host of other small
jobs which I've put off doing for yonks. Mrs C was delighted to hear
about this when I told her earlier today.

Now will I get those shelves up .... this week, this coming month or
this coming year?

A good intention, but will I do it?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Yipee, it's Xmas Eve

It's now 11.45 on the clock, and I'm the last person in the
house, who's still up (and not tucked up in bed with a hottie
...and that's not Mrs C unfortunately).

There are stacks of pressies in the sitting room ... mainly for
Little India, who should have some fun tomorrow unwrapping
her's...(or is it "hers"?).

I've often wondered how the myth of Santa working all night with
his reindeer to deliver pressies to everyone, could be at all
believable ... but after all it's just a bit of fun (and
commercially a very successful idea for traders to sell us all
their stuff).

Just for a bit of fun, I spent a couple of hours on Saturday
in Hyson Green Asda .. a large supermarket in Nottingham which
had about half of Nottingham's population inside it at the time ..
several of the aisles were gridlocked with trolleys, so I had
great fun dodging around all those and the hundreds of people.
I ended up with a trolley-load myself of mainly stuff I could
have bought earlier in the week. Some people had two trolleys
stacked high with food -- as if they were stocking up for WW3..

The fact that I'd sprained my right ankle (again) a few days
earlier didn't help, or add to the fun, but then with so many
people milling about, I couldn't have walked any faster anyway.

Our local mini-supermarket run by Nottingham Co-op, is only
closed for one day (tomorrow) and is open 12 hours a day on
other days this week ... so why the mad rush to buy up lots and
lots of food when the shops are shut for only one or two days?

I will end on a funny joke I saw on one Xmas card this year.
On the front cover was a black and white photo of Santa with a
disgusted look on his face, which was partially turned to the

The caption printed underneath read: "As the wind rustled through
Santa's whiskers, he began to regret giving Rudolf some Brussels
sprouts earlier in the day."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Father Christmas

What did you say to your kids when they were little, about Father
Christmas? Did you pretend he was real, and put out a glass of
sherry and a few mince pies for him on the kitchen table on Xmas
Eve ... and spin yarns about him and Rudolf working hard all
night delivering pressies worldwide? Or did you tell the kids as
we did, that it was all a fairy story, but nevertheless put
stockings full of little treats on their beds at midnight, etc..
.. keeping some of the magic alive that we experienced as kids.

When I was a kid, we used to get stocking treats such as a
clementine and a few sweets (Quality Street chocs usually ... the
ones in purple wrappers were my favourites), and a few balloons
for us to blow up.... sometimes a thin paper party hat also.

When you were a child, how old were you when you realised that
Father Christmas was just make-believe?

One of Mrs C's friends told her a true story about the outing
of Father Christmas in her family ... her grandson, Jamie, made a
solemn request to his parents one morning, a couple of weeks ago:

"Dad and Mum -- I want to talk to you right now in the
sitting room .... ... come and sit down!" Jamie is seven years
old, by the way.
"My friend Sam says Father Xmas is all made up ... is this true?
.... I want to know the truth!"

His dad didn't say anything, but his mum attempted to tell him
the truth in a roundabout way, so as not to hurt his feelings.
(It was his mum who was obsessional about keeping up the pretence
that Santa was real for the last 6-7 years).... "I'm sorry to say
this, Jamie, but Sam is right."
Whereupon Jamie burst into tears and sobbed for a few minutes.
Mum then asked Jamie if he wouldn't mind keeping quiet about
all this as regards his younger sister, Alice, so that she could
enjoy all the fun of believing Santa was real.

Jamie cheered up a little on hearing this, but then he said:
"And what about the tooth fairy?!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lost and found

Two days ago I turned the house over looking for some Xmas
pressies I'd bought for a few relatives ... the pressies
were HMV tokens for the younger generation (thinking they'd
have some fun choosing some music for themselves, rather
than putting up with my choice). The tokens were inside
four plain envelopes, so in this house it was a bit like
looking for a needle in a haystack. Very frustrating...
especially when looking through a drawer or a bag for the
third time ... just in case.

Eventually Mrs C found them ... she got us thinking about
everything I'd bought from the City Centre that day, and
while she was in our main bedroom she recalled that the
tokens were in the same bag as another pressie - a box of
chocs (Thornton's Continental Selection)... she'd hidden
them away in her wardrobe (something I don't use unless I'm
trying on some of her clothes). This was at about 4pm after
I'd spent most of the day searching for the things... I was
on the point of going out to buy some more. What a relief.

The good side of all this was that my study/den got a well-
needed tidy-up ... the best it's ever had ... it was starting
to look as if a teenager was living in the house, and was
becoming a dumping ground for various things ... empty boxes
for the Xmas decorations and the like, plus a few empty glasses
and mugs. Now it's all neat and tidy with far less clutter.

A friend told me about someone who goes around his house with
a small digital camera around his neck -- taking photos of
everything he did of any importance, so he could see at any time
where he'd put such-and-such ... an alternative to having CCTV
in your house in every room. Could be good for remembering
where you put your car keys down ... if you remember to take a
photo of them.

Now where did I put that shopping list .... .... ?

Monday, December 17, 2007

8 days to Xmas

Only 8 days left until Xmas!

How do you feel about that? Are you getting excited or
are you feeling horrified about the amount of shopping
you've got to do, getting food and pressies in, and
meal planning for the Xmas period ... or getting off in
the post yet another Xmas card to someone who's just
sent you one?

Or if you're a Christian, you may be feeling excited
about taking part in the annual remembrance / celebration
of JC's birth?

One of our family traditions when I was a kid, was to
listen to the annual carol service from King's College,
Cambridge ... and in later life to watch it all on TV.
Though I'm not a believer, I do feel there's something
magical and really beautiful in the candlelit service ...
a bit like listening to/watching a well enacted fairy tale/
Hollywood film... something that has a wow factor for me.
Watching it does send me straight back in time to my
childhood Xmasses, and re-creates all the magic and
excitement I felt at the time.... Xmas trees, Xmas pies &
cake, opening pressies & a Xmas stocking in the middle of
the night (feeling sick of eating sweets by breakfast time!),
and occasionally going to see a panto or film at Xmas.

So how's is it all going for you?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ruddy statistics

Reading through the Money Section of last Saturday’s Guardian,
I came across a report of a survey of small UK business bosses,
carried out by Barclays Local Business.

The survey found that more than 4 out of 10 UK entrepreneurs
were “first born”.

The Guardian article then stated that the first born are often
of higher intelligence and are higher achievers than their other
siblings. It then mentioned a few first-borns who’ve done well Sir Richard Branson and JK Rowling.

The overall conclusion of this article was that first-borns
were more likely to succeed in business than their siblings, as
supported by the survey findings.

... er, the survey findings??

If you look more closely at these, the survey findings appear to
show that first-borns are at a disadvantage to their siblings,
don’t you think? … 6 out of 10 UK bosses were not first-born.

It’s strange isn’t it, how people start off with an idea
(sometimes a very good and sensible one), and then look around
for some statistical evidence to support their point of view.
Politicians and their advisers are very adept at doing this, of
course ... producing statistical evidence to outsmart their
opponents. Any statistic that doesn’t support their point of
view gets ignored.

So who are we to believe?

And the scientists themselves, who do the research … are they
trustworthy? I think most of them are, and that they’re a
very dedicated bunch of people … certainly those who work for
university research departments independently of big business …
but then how much research in these departments is sponsored
by big business, which would like results produced to put their
products / business in a good light?

So if someone starts spouting statistics at you, or makes
claims that this and that food / medicine is good for your
liver, brain, kidneys, skin or immune system, I’d advise some
degree of caution / scepticism about them, until you can
review the evidence for yourself.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Darwin's Story of Amnesia

No doubt you will have been following the amazing case of
John and Anne Darwin in the media … John who allegedly faked
his own death in a canoeing accident in 2002, and then went
into a police station on 5 December claiming amnesia. I wonder
how the police found out his name, in the first place?

The fact that his story and that of his wife’s has been blown
by the photo of them both smiling in a Panamanian removal
firm’s website, and further revelations / allegations about them
day by day in the press, makes a prison sentence for them both
seem very likely.

The sad victims of all this appear to be their two sons who
were both unaware of what was going on.

If all the press allegations are true, it seems to me that John
Darwin was daft to think that the police would believe his story
… what could he say for example about the fake passport and
identity he’d used allegedly?

Perhaps their dream of a new life together in Panama was not
working out, and he/she/both decided to return to the UK and
start all over again here?

If you’d gone abroad to escape prosecution, would you return
to your home country when there’s a chance you might end up in
prison? I think I would stay abroad incognito. So why on earth
did John Darwin come back? That’s what I’d like to know.

Was he amnesic?

I’ve just done a search about the Darwins in Google … there
are loads of entries about them. One of the entries reads:
“Book Your Canoeing Getaway with John Darwin.”

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Rainbow pattern

Sunlight scattered by a prism.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A small couch potato

Little Ava (aka Shibby) is very keen on fiddling with our remote
controls, and changing channels on the TV / Freeview box. She
lounges back on our sofa, and plays with a remote control, pressing
the buttons with her thumbs. When her dad, Kris, first saw this at
home, he remarked to Beck: "Oh my God! We've raised a slob!"

Here she is inspecting a tube of Mrs C's hand cream ... she's worked
out how to prise open lids like this with her teeth (well she's only
got two teeth so far, but they're put to good use chomping on apples
and the like). She's now 14 months.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I'm having a break this weekend

... from two busy days looking after Little Ava, who's
been recovering from a mild diarrhoea bug. She was not
well enough to go to her childminder's, so I volunteered
to look after while her mum went to work (she job-shares
with a colleague for 2-3 days a week ... hubby working
abroad this past week).
Fortunately, I didn't have any pookie nappies to change
yesterday, and Little A's appetite had returned - so she
was back a normal diet for her - Birds Eye fish fingers,
& steamed potato, carrot, lots of brocolli & courgettes,
plus natural yoghurt & some of Mrs C's gingerbread for
lunch - yes, she ate a good helping of all that.
Sounds like she's become a Very Hungry Caterpillar, a
story she enjoys looking at.
I felt knackered by 10.30pm, after my second day looking
after her, and went to bed much earlier than usual. How
do older parents manage with young ones ... where do they
get the stamina from? I don't think I'd wish to be dad
again at my age, if we had the choice.
Here are a few photos I took of her and her cousin a week
or so ago ...