The Technology of Perverts?

I went for a walk along the canal a couple of days ago. It was a pleasant trip and I took some pictures I’m rather fond of, the above being the best.

But there was one aspect of the journey that wasn’t so fun. That is the way that people looked at me for carrying a decent camera.

For those of you wondering, the Canon EOS 40D is not, I repeat not, a device for taking pictures of your children’s genitalia through their clothes.

People looked at me as at best mad and at worst evil incarnate just for using something more than a phone camera.

Out on the walk there were people with elaborate and expensive looking bikes and others with plenty of fishing gear – these people didn’t get a glance. But families looked at me like I was about to abduct their children.

Don’t you folks have hobbies too?

Interestingly the folks on the better bikes and those with fishing gear didn’t give me a second look. Perhaps they are well aware of what it’s like to have a nerdy hobby too.

We’d exchange a knowing look – that small smile that says, “Yes my wife let me buy this toy.”

Bob the Builder is Nonsense

I see quite a bit of the output of Cbeebies and on the whole most of it is very good. But Bob the Builder is just nonsense.

The talking construction vehicles I can live with. But why the bleeding heck is there an annoyingly-voiced talking scarecrow in the show?

Bob the Farmer would be bound to have a talking scarecrow. But in a show about a construction worker the annoying carrot-faced git is so incongruous and more than a little annoying.

And while I’m at it what the hell’s wrong with the sense of scale among Cbeebies producers. None of the construction vehicles in Bob the Builder are large enough to admit Bob or Wendy, instead they have to hang dangerously on the side like New York Firecrew1. Is this a good example of vehicle safety to teach our children?

Scale is also an issue in In The Night Garden. A fine show this is, especially to parents who have already opened the bar following a stressful day, but the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk spoil it all. Both wifey and I have become increasingly annoyed by the size of these two modes of transport during the show’s often repeated dance section. Normally the Nonk and Ponk are large forms of transport, but at the end of the show when going to sleep and during the dance song both seem like small toys.

On the subject of In The Night Garden have you any idea where Iggle Piggle is going in his little boat? Is the show some sort of allegory for the afterlife? Perhaps Iggle Piggle is dead and his boat journey is his ride to paradise. It’s not a bad vision of heaven really, Makka Pakka is far more charming company than most of the plonkers I met at Lancaster University Christian Union.

The alternative is that Iggle Piggle has made a terrible navigational error on his sailing trip and has now drifted out into the ocean. Starving and delirious from the lack of drinking water he hallucinates a beautiful garden with the girl of his dreams. The failure of this particular trip would certainly account for conjuring up two alternative forms of transport2 and his delirium for the irritating mistakes over their scale.

But anyway. The point I’m trying to make is that we really need to start some kind of combined campaign to get rid of that annoying scarecrow from Bob the Builder and pressure the BBC for a Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk that show a more realistic sense of scale.

Unless you think that the two different aims might conflict and weaken the strength of our campaign? I’d welcome your thoughts.

I’m in danger of getting very wound up now, so I shall listen to the magical Cbeebies Springtime Song to relax.

1Who I only mention to get my wife excited.
2Perhaps the Pinky Ponk being more useful than the Ninky Nonk out at sea.

Our days of chopping cucumber are over

The Channel Four programme Bringing Up Baby (open in a new window/tab) has been a real hit in our household, bringing much merriment for four weeks here to our family.

The show featured several families all trying to look after their newborn babies following one of three childcare philosophies. These were the 1960s “mummy knows best” approach of Doctor Benjamin Spock, a 1950s strict routine method and a strange 1970s hippy approach based on some tribe in the arse-end of nowhere.

I should first explain our own philosophy on childcare before I share with you our views on the TV show. Looking after twins is hard work and Patrick and Kitty do keep us rushed off our feet, the only way we really manage to cope is by sticking as much as possible to a routine. This means meals at eight am, midday, four pm and seven pm – and now the babes sleep through every single night.

This process took time though – time for us to learn what was best and time for the twins to show us what was comfortable for them. Neither Jo or I are fans of Gina Ford’s Das Kinder Reich view of childcare – we like to choose when we’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit thanks very much, but that’s not stopped us admiring the 1950s approach in the TV show – which differs from Ford’s in that it doesn’t seem to control the parents.

Our admiration for the strict regime came as a surprise to us both I think. We quite like upsetting the wishy washy hippies who think there’s something evil in actually being in charge of your kids instead of letting them be boss. But to be serious for a moment we also think that when faced with twins you need to get some real routine in place or everything will fall apart. And we’re not the only ones but it seems that smug moral superiority of some mothers means folks tend not to stick up1 for the 1950s method.

Various mother and baby websites are completely up in arms about 1950s method guru Claire Verity’s approach, but to be honest it didn’t seem that much different to what the ante-natal nurses taught me before the twins first came home from hospital. But after a run in with Obertsturmfurher Gina Ford it’s no wonder the mumsnet moral majority is narked2.

No matter, we’re happy to say we thought that the couple3 (with twins I may add) who followed the method did the right thing and did really well.

Our own approach is somewhere between the Spock method tried by some of the families in the show and the 1950s method promoted by Claire Verity in the show. So we try to keep within a routine, but we’re willing to be flexible and approach things in the best way for everyone. This seems to be paying off with the twins really getting to grips with solid food and sleeping through every night.

The approach in Bringing Up Baby that really had us in stitches is the Continuum Method. Here babies spend their first months in a sling attached to mother or the increasingly stern looking father4. The parents do everything with the poor baby slung around them giving no privacy and no break from parenthood.

This apparently results in very mature and well-adjusted babies. This was demonstrated by the TV couple coming to meet other families who are trying the Continuum Method. And what a bunch of Fairtrade Peruvian llama wool snood wearing middle class hippy filth they turned out to be.

We were shown how well adjusted the babies were because they were all using very sharp knives to chop of fruit and veg. This is one of the goals of the method based on the tribe of hunters. We were not entirely convinced that the use of offensive weapons is really needed by toddlers in the angsty middle class boroughs where the method is bound to be most popular.

Particularly entertaining and annoying was the woman promoting this method in the show – Claire Scott5. Typical moral majority hippy nonsense for the most part, delivered with the most irritating patronising voice imaginable.

In the end all the couples seemed to do well with their chosen method but we really liked the couple with twins who clearly worked really hard and succeeded despite initial doubts. We also really liked the lass who clearly was cock-a-hoop to be bonking her bloke again – though I can’t remember which method she was using.

Some of the other couples that appeared earlier in the show’s short run didn’t appear last night, so we were wondering how the single mum was coping. Shame it didn’t update us on everyone. But great entertainment it was – more please.

1You can tell the mothers who like the approach, they are the quiet ones while the rest of your toddler group is likening the method to Year Zero in Cambodia.
2Mumsnet is likely to declare war on the 1950s method nanny Claire Verity at some point, militant bare breasted harridans the lot of them.
3The bloke actually seemed to be actor James Nesbitt, or his identical twin.
4Poor fella looked distraught at his prolonged enforced celibacy, meanwhile all the other couples were at it like jack rabbits.
5Funnily enough hippy sling-promoting Claire owns a business that designs and sells slings. Well who would have thunk it!

The Corned Beef Tin of Doom

A gruesome story from ten years ago…the faint-hearted might like to look away now.

I was opening a tin of corned beef, the sort with a key. I’d turned the key all around the can and was trying to pull the smaller section away – when it suddenly gave way.

Ouch! I said, thinking I’d given myself a little nick.

Then the blood started fountaining out of the end of my finger.

A gruesome story from ten years ago…the faint-hearted might like to look away now.

I was opening a tin of corned beef, the sort with a key. I’d turned the key all around the can and was trying to pull the smaller section away – when it suddenly gave way.

Ouch! I said, thinking I’d given myself a little nick.

Then the blood started fountaining out of the end of my finger.

Well I say the end of my finger. Until then it hadn’t been the end of my finger. What until then had been the end of my finger now sat in a growing pool of blood on the chopping board.


Thing is, I didn’t fancy going to hospital or anything. So I picked up the bit of finger, stuck it back on, and held it there beneath a reddening kitchen towel.

Then my sister walked in. Didn’t notice the blood everywhere and we had some pointless row about washing up or something. So I stormed out and went to the pub. Had a couple of pints while holding my finger together then walked home.

By then my sis had noticed the bloody mess and asked what I done, and I explained.

I then got some sellotape and stuck the top of my finger back on.

Bizarrely this heath-robinson approach actually worked. It healed. And today all that’s left is a tiny little circular scar on top of the finger. The skin kind of healed over where the cut happened and sort of grew up and over until just a little circle was left of the bit that I lopped off.

Searching for a Hobby

Ever since I moved down south my beloved L was determined for me to make some local friends and perhaps try a few new hobbies. I never really did that, mainly because being with L was such great fun that I rarely felt I needed any other company.

I did get involved with archery for a while as she was great at it, but in the end I found it not as interesting a hobby as I expected.

So with L passing I realise I do need to get out more, perhaps find a hobby that I can do that doesn’t mean dragging Patrick & Katie around a golf course or something complicated that would affect their feeding regimen.

For some time I’ve been considering getting more into photography. I’d talked to L about it and she encouraged me to find a local club or go on a nightschool course. And today I was spoke on the phone to a friend who has encouraged me to give it a go.

So I’ve decided I’m going to try to get more into photography, learn more about the subject and treat it as a more serious pastime than merely taking a few quick snaps. There’s plenty of gorgeous scenery around here and lots of interesting subjects, so it seems worthwhile.

I don’t know how good I’ll be at this, but at least I’ve found something new to occupy me other than making miserable blog posts.