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Sunday, August 31, 2008

I love it when things go according to plan. I'd fully intended to spend the first part of yesterday morning at Lidl (it's important to make the most of your weekends), and sure enough I did. Unfortunately most of it was spent broken down in their car park, waiting for the AA to arrive, but you can't have everything.

My local Lidl was having an end of summer monster madness sale (or something), during which they were knocking 50% off all non-food items for this weekend only. I decided to get there at 8am to grab all the bargains, and frankly I'm glad I did, because by 8:15 it was heaving. Half the population of the Whitehawk estate were in there, trying to lay their hands on a half price wetsuit and a couple of chainsaws. It was like the Looting Olympics in Chavsville. Electric woks, hedge trimmers, power washers, car creepers and bacon slicers, all at half the marked price. I was in hog heaven.

I managed to make it out of there at 8:20am with a travel cot for £15 and a chest of drawers for a tenner, and returned to my car with the intention of driving on to Asda for the weekly shop, and making it home before Lisa realised I'd gone. I first sensed that things might not quite work out the way I'd hoped when I turned the ignition key and my car made a noise like the death rattle of a marble factory. Not only did it fail to start, but every attempt sounded like the engine was being torn to shrapnel.

So I called the AA. And 45 minutes later they arrived. Fortunately I'm no stranger to AA men. And I don't mean the guys at the convention in January. If they're not handing out space blankets, they're busy making spelling mistakes on my form, and this one was another very nice man.

I turned the key to demonstrate the problem, and it duly made the sound of death metal, but this time managed to start. At which point the AA man told me I needed a new starter motor, and that if I turned off the ignition, it would probably never start again. So I drove around the corner to ATS, left the engine running, and followed its exmample by sprinting into reception and asking if they do starter motors.

They don't. But fortunately I have a first class garage two minutes walk from my flat. And what's more, they have their own website, complete with downloadable podcasts. So if you've ever wanted to hear a lecture in which "Steve enthuses about the joy of two post ramps", you know where to go.

Anyhoo, I have to say, the guys at 1st Class Garage lived up to their name. But then it's easy to fix a car which isn't broken. Having examined my Skoda with the engine running, they drove it into the garage, turned off the ignition, tried turning it on again to hear the problem for themselves, and... um... couldn't find anything wrong. Having started it up about ten times, experienced the gentle purring of an engine in perfect working order, and wondered if I was from Candid Camera, they eventually sent me on my way before I wasted any more of their time. They did offer a possible explanation involving starter motors and ring gears, but to be honest I wasn't really listening. I was just keen to get out of there before they charged me for labour.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How!The big breaking news story of the day (apart from the fact that BBC News are openly calling a convicted criminal 'The Cash-in-Buttocks Man') is that US presidential candidate John 'Oven Chips' McCain has finally announced his running mate. And it's none other than former beauty queen and 44-year-old mother of five, Sarah Palin.

The BBC describe Ms Palin as "relatively unknown in US politics". The Washington Times say she's "unknown on the national stage". The Washington Post call her "totally unknown and untested", while CBS say "when it comes to being untested and unknown, Palin is in a league of her own".

Let's face it, no one's ever heard of her.

Apart from readers of this blog, obviously. Back in April 2007 (when she was even more unknown than she is now) (if that's possible), I not only published her photo, but wrote a sensitive and caring paragraph accusing her of killing dumb animals. And now, sixteen months later, only one more dumb animal (well, an old dog) needs to die to make her president. Assuming the election goes her way in November. Which it probably won't.

Anyhoo, it's nice to know the Republicans read this blog. I wonder if John McCain knows about her husband's snowmachine records..?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some people think Andy Murray is the only decent tennis player we have in this country. Those people are wrong...

You might notice a mysterious haze surrounding me as I power my way to victory. That's the fog of war. Or possibly there was a smudge on the camera lens. Either way, it just goes to show that being built like a hippo, and rarely topping speeds of 2mph, is no bar to sporting success. I'd also like to make it clear that the camp manner in which I throw my arms into the air and celebrate, does not indicate that it was the only point I won. I actually won loads. We just didn't get any of them on film.

Anyhoo, my consummate command of a frisbee in Queen's Park on Monday was clearly enough to inspire us on to further sporting triumphs, so we headed over to East Brighton Park yesterday afternoon for a game of tennis. As you can see, I was the only one who bothered dressing for the occasion, which is probably why I did so well. I regret not holding my stomach in more though. I don't think white is the most slimming colour.

My niece, who sadly refused to be filmed, has been having weekly tennis lessons for the past year, and the results were plain to see. Frankly if she continues to progress like this, she'll be winning trophies in no time. Probably the same kind she's already won for swimming.

After all that exertion (and a distinct lack of strawberries & cream), my brother took his family back to Essex, and Lisa and I made our way to Lewes for our second HypnoBirthing class. I learnt a massage technique developed for MS sufferers, which apparently produces natural endorphins more powerful than morphine, as well as being given a list of phrases to say to Lisa when I want her to relax. Oddly, the list didn't include the one sentence guaranteed to make her feel better ("I've bought a six-pack of Frazzles and they're all yours"), but I can probably write it in later.

My one disappointment was that us fathers had to remain seated on chairs while the mothers sprawled about on the floor with pillows. It's sexual equality gone mad. I wish I hadn't taken my duvet now. But on the bright side, we did get a leaflet of nutritional advice for producing a happy, healthy baby. It contained the following guidelines:

"Eliminate ALL unnecessary fat, fast foods and fried foods - particularly French Fries. Avoid carbonated drinks; NEVER drink diet drinks, caffeine or alcohol."

Lisa read it whilst drinking a cup of coffee, and then asked if we could go to McDonalds on the way home. She said it all hinged on the word 'unnecessary'.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crime Scene - Do Not EnterEven tying her up and declaring her a crime scene isn't enough to stop her smiling. It's probably ADHD.

Anyhoo, my brother and his family did eventually manage to escape the clutches of Lenny Henry, and make it over to my flat yesterday. I'm not sure if it was the hour we spent playing frisbee in the rain, the massive meal at Frankie & Benny's during which I put back on every pound I've lost in the past three weeks, or just the ridiculous amount of time we spent playing Trackmania, but one way or another, I feel like death warmed up today.

Fortunately we've got a HypnoBirthing class tonight, so I'll get to lie down in a darkened room later. I've also got the day off work, although frankly I could do with a pharmacy flapjack to perk me up right about now.

But physical debility aside, here we are in Queen's Park yesterday afternoon, sheltering from the August weather under a big tree...

Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree.
From left to right it's the baby, Lisa, my sister-in-law, my brother and my niece. I do have photos which include me too, but unfortunately, due to some kind of mechanical fault with my camera, they all make me look fat.

So in the absence of a dodgy photo or some inspired words, here's some action footage of a major sporting event. I'm the one on the right...

The first thing you'll notice is that I'm a natural at frisbee. The second is that my niece was born to direct. Sadly we didn't capture the moment when the disc flew straight towards my head at high speed, and I ducked out of the way whilst screaming like a girl, but my niece felt that we could recreate it quite easily. As she says herself "You have to actually act". I'm not sure she was completely satisfied with my performance, but she did like the ending.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Lisa's birthday! I can't tell you how old she is for legal reasons, but suffice it to say she's got another year before her life really begins. She needs to make the most of it - by next August we could have two children.

But Lisa aside, I went to a Chinese Festival yesterday afternoon in the Pavilion Gardens. Obviously it would be wrong to judge an entire day's entertainment on the basis of the ten minutes I spent there, but frankly it was rubbish. Just because the Olympics were fine, doesn't mean that all Chinese people can put on a good show. Or maybe they can, because frankly most of the people running this thing seemed to be English. It basically consisted of a few stalls manned by pasty-faced white people offering to teach your children paper-folding. The place was crying out for a flawless nine-year-old girl miming to a backing track.

There were some Chinese people there though. Here's one doing a fan dance...

Number One Fan Dance
Frankly an umbrella dance would have been more appropriate. I wonder if the old woman knows there's a serial killer creeping up behind her? And why is that man taking my photo?

Anyhoo, I did experience one decent bit of Chinese culture yesterday. My brother dropped in and we had chicken chow mein. I actually haven't seen him since January (Essex is further than you think, and he came up with a convenient excuse last time), but he's finally brought his family down to the south coast for a couple of days to do a flat inspection and rent review. They're staying overnight at a Premier Inn, and are meant to be back here by 10:30 this morning. Needless to say they haven't arrived. Either they're buying Lisa a birthday card, or they're busy hiding from Lenny Henry.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lisa and I have just tried the relaxation CD we got at the HypnoBirthing class on Tuesday. It was very good, but I have to say that it's quite hard to drift off into a state of total relaxation when the person lying next to you starts snoring after five minutes. I found myself focusing less on the positive affirmations and calming visualisations, and more on the rasping noise to my left.

But still, Lisa seemed to find the process quite soothing. When it was all over, she asked me to get her a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit. I pointed out that the CD we'd just listened to contained the following affirmation:

"You also become aware of the need to put only nutritional foods and substances into your stomach, knowing that your baby receives and absorbs and grows in a healthy manner because of the effects of the healthy foods that you put into your stomach".

She shrugged and said "I think I slept through that bit".

But still, gingernuts are the least of my worries. With the amount of heartburn Lisa's been getting, I'm more concerned that the baby's going to come out addicted to Gaviscon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Betty never did phone me back today. I was quite upset. After all, it's not every day you get to chat to someone who admits they have no idea what they're doing. I thought we had a bit of a rapport going.

But on the bright side, her colleague Natalie rang me instead, and frankly she was far more entertaining. I told Natalie that I'd successfully located the original box, and had carefully placed the damaged injections into it (which was a bit like placing a few peanuts into Westminster Abbey), before re-addressing the package and leaving it by the door. Natalie thanked me for my efforts... before admitting that she had a bit of a problem. Apparently she'd been on the phone to the courier company - that's the same courier company who, twenty-four hours earlier, had said they wouldn't pick up the injections unless I found the original box - and had told them the good news that I'd located all the required packaging.

They weren't quite as pleased as you might expect. In fact they immediately said that to transport four broken vials in a box made for five hundred would probably breach some kind of health and safety regulation, and they wouldn't do it. But neither would they transport them in anything other than the original box. It's what we in the NHS call a bloody liberty. So Natalie told me to chuck 'em in the bin, and she'd send me out some more. Which would be ok if I hadn't cancelled them off the computer system when Betty told me they'd send us a credit note. You have to laugh.

But in better news, the pharmacy manager told me today that she thinks I'll make a good father. That was shortly after I'd made a paper aeroplane out of a letter from Pfizer, and thrown it at her.

Anyhoo, the more important work-related news of the day is that as of 4pm this afternoon, Lisa is officially retired. A combination of both annual and maternity leave means that she's left work for the last time this year, and possibly forever. With a baby due in six weeks, and her birthday on Monday, Lisa received so many presents from her colleagues that someone had to give her a lift home. At least that's what she claims. Personally I think she was just too embarrassed to walk down the road with a helium balloon...

The new TV looks nice.
The only thing stopping it floating away is the cat attached to the string. It's a coincidence though, because Lisa got a balloon for her birthday last year too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We stock this at work...

Phone SexTo my employers, it's Calcium Acetate. To me, it's phone sex where n e thing goes. We've got about 0898 of them on the shelf.

But on the subject of chat lines, I've spent most of today on the blower to a woman called Betty. She works for a pharmaceutical firm somewhere in the home counties, and I phoned her yesterday to say her injections were leaking all over my trousers. Her colleague Jamie, who clearly believes in the principle of free healthcare for all, told me they'd send us a credit note, apologised for the problem, and wished me a good weekend, after which I put the vital vials in a bag, addressed them to Betty, and went home.

After returning from lunch today, however, I had phone messages galore from the lovely Betty, who had apparently called, asked for me by name (note to self: never give your name to people on the phone) and requested that I call her back to talk about cardboard. Naturally I did, and we had a lovely chat about boxes, packaging, leakage, and the fact that her supervisor's on holiday and she has no idea what she's doing. I said I know how she feels. It was all very friendly, but I sensed she was doing her Miss Marple thing, and subtly trying to find out if I'd broken them myself whilst demonstrating my juggling skills in the dispensary. She eventually said she'd arrange for the vials to be collected (possibly for forensic analysis and fingerprinting), and that was the end of that. For about fifteen minutes.

A quarter of an hour later she phoned back to say she had a problem. I was tempted to do my Frank Spencer, and say "Ooh Betty, has the cat done a whoopsie in my beret?", but I changed my mind at the last moment and kept it professional. Anyway, she'd apparently phoned their couriers, who said they were only willing to pick up the injections if I put them back in the original box they (and their 496 non-leaking friends) had arrived in. Betty apologised, told me about her supervisor's holiday again, reminded me that she essentially knows nothing, moaned about courier companies, and said that she'd phone me again tomorrow. I'm not entirely sure why.

Anyhoo, it's not every day you get to root around in a giant recycling bin for a cardboard box the size of a fridge, in which to return four vials no bigger than a postage stamp. But hey, at least my work life is varied.

In other news, Radio 2 played 'non-stop oldies' for an hour this afternoon. I wouldn't mind, but one of them was a Deacon Blue song. You have no idea how depressing it is to find out that one of your favourite songs when you were 18 is now considered an oldie.

And talking of oldies, I'd just like to say hello to the dinosaur-hunter who e-mailed me this morning from Arizona. Apparently I'm big amongst paleontologists. I think they have a professional interest in Lisa.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's surprising how stressed you can feel within 24 hours of a birth relaxation class. I've had the kind of day at work which makes labour look brief and painless. But going back to last night...

Look into my eyes...Lisa and I are no longer labouring, we're HypnoBirthing. And very good it was too. It's supposed to teach you how to breathe, relax, and generally avoid "the horrific ordeal everyone else seems hell-bent on telling you about". And I don't mean conception. According to our instructor, a lot of people are put off by the 'hypno' prefix, but she assured us that no one would be made to dance like Tom Jones, or eat an onion thinking it's an apple. To be honest, it's less about hypnosis and more about looking on the bright side and taking it easy, so that your tension and fear don't end up in agonising pain. And considering the way Lisa grips my hand like a vice when she's stressed, that has to be a good thing.

Anyhoo, we were both very impressed. In fact everything we heard sounded like complete common sense, which made us wonder why we hadn't heard it before. We were given a book, a CD, and an explanation of how stress produces pain in childbirth, before trying some breathing techniques and a visualisation exercise involving lemons. Two people in the class claimed they didn't know what a lemon smells like, which struck me as a little odd. Fortunately Lisa had no such problem. She spends half her life eating Starburst.

It all seemed very effective anyway, and to prove the point, we were shown three HypnoBirths on DVD. They were all remarkably quiet, calm and relaxed, but there's clearly still a gap in the market for anyone who can produce birth without bodily fluids. I'm not great with blood, so I think I might stay at the other end come October.

As for next Tuesday's session, we've been told to take pillows. I'm not sure if it's a birthing class or a slumber party, but either way I'm looking forward to it. It could be the first decent sleep I've had in weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I had some authentic Hungarian strudel at work today. When I say authentic, I mean it was made in Brighton with ingredients from Asda, but it was produced by my Slovakian colleague, who had the recipe handed down to him from his grandmother. The woman clearly knows a thing or two about cooking, because it was actually very nice. Admittedly, Eastern European pastries aren't really at the heart of the South Beach Diet, but I've lost half a stone in the last nine days eating food with the flavour taken out, so I felt fully justified in tucking in.

Fortunately I have a lot less time to eat at work now, because as of today I'm no longer doing overtime. The pharmacy manager has cottoned on to the fact that my new colleague is actually very good at the job, and I don't really need to be there until six to get all the work done. To be honest, if we didn't eat so many cakes, I could probably leave at three.

So in theory I should now have a lot more spare time. In reality I've never been so busy. By this stage of her Mum's pregnancy, Lisa had already been born, and if her sister is anything to go by, we should be expecting our first child next week. So I think it's about time I tackled all the baby books I thought I had plenty of time to read, and worked out how to fold down a buggy.

But in the name of readiness, Lisa and I are now enrolled in a bit of relaxation at the Victoria Hospital in Lewes. I supply their drugs every Friday, but as of 6:45 tomorrow evening, I'll be lying on the floor in the Health Education Room, learning how to breathe through the contractions and float above the pain. It's a twelve-hour course spread over four weeks. So by this time tomorrow I should be asleep.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's official: I'm now fully trained, and legally allowed to touch children in a life-saving manner.

Trust me, I'm a doctor.
Spit your dummy out.I have to say, the course was very good. Admittedly I found it slightly disturbing to walk into a room and find the lifeless bodies of three babies and a child lying on the floor, but having established that they were only mannequins, and that Hove Methodist Church hadn't been the site of a major terrorist attack, I felt a lot better.

Of course, the moment Lisa and I arrived, there were immediately two more dummies in the room, but by the end of the afternoon we'd been transformed into paramedic powerhouses, primed to leap into action at the merest hint of a choking child. We went to Sainsburys afterwards, and I was actually hoping to see a baby fall out of a trolley, so that I could treat it for head injuries. Sadly it didn't happen.

But over the course of an afternoon, we learnt pretty much everything we need to know to enable our child to cling onto life until the age of 13. After which it's none of our business, and she can fend for herself.

There were four of us on the course, of which I was the only non-pregnant one. Lisa aside, the others were due to give birth in mid-September, so when it came to demonstrating the recovery position, I was the one forced to get down on the floor and play dead. The others could have got down there too, but they might not have got up again.

The best bit of the course was undoubtedly playing with the mannequins. We spent a good couple of hours trying to restart various people's hearts without breaking their ribs, and attempting to remove blockages from babies' throats by giving them showbiz backslaps. I even learnt the Heimlich Manoeuvre, so I'm going to feel a lot more confident in restaurants from now on.

Apparently if Lisa spills a cup of tea on the baby, we need to run the burn under the cold tap for ten minutes, before wrapping it in cling film. I'm not sure if that works with a burnt mouth, but the good news is we also know how to deal with both drowing and suffocation.

Anyhoo, it was all very good. In fact we were so impressed, we're considering booking ourselves on a four-week birth relaxation course run by the same person. It's quite expensive, but if it stops me fainting in the delivery room, it'll be money well spent.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I've driven to Gatwick this morning and successfully picked up Lisa's birthday present. This was the scene two minutes after getting it through the door...

Is it for me..?
And this was two minutes after taking the photo...

I'm not sure you've captured my best side.
She has to approve every shot before I'm allowed to publish it on my blog.

Anyhoo, I have indeed bought Lisa a new TV. Her birthday's the 25th (much like Jesus), and she starts maternity leave on Friday, so frankly she's going to be welded to the sofa for the next twelve months, and in need of entertainment. Our current TV is ten years old, and dates from the days when the only things with LCD screens were pocket calculators, so it seemed like an appropriate time to upgrade.

Lisa's always banging on about her sister's digital hard drive, and asking why we can't record fifty hours of TV a day, so I've killed two birds with one stone and bought a TV with two tuners and a 160GB hard drive built in. She should be able to store a month's worth of Jeremy Kyle without any problem.

The thick of it.Anyway, I've told Lisa she can have it early, as long as she reads the entire instruction manual before turning it on. It's an inch and a half thick, so that should keep her busy til her birthday. Which is just as well, because I don't have time to set it up. I mentioned ten weeks ago that we'd booked ourselves on a baby first aid course in August, and today's the day. By 3pm this afternoon I'll be performing mouth-to-mouth on a Tiny Tears doll.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I had to prepare some drugs for the Digestive Disorders Ward at the Royal Sussex County Hospital this afternoon. It's surprising they have entire wards dedicated to biscuit illnesses, but apparently they do. I expect they use custard cream instead of Savlon, and all the patients sit in wagon-wheelchairs.

But the more pressing news of the day comes courtesy of the NHS All Staff Info-Mail...

Cannulation Cancellation
There's obviously a tube strike on that week.

That's possibly the finest joke I've ever written. It's just a shame you need a dictionary to get it.

Anyhoo, it's been an uninspiring couple of days. It's surprising how little there is to say when you work 8:30am to 6pm, and spend the evenings washing up, shopping and trying to cook something which won't go straight to your thighs, before collapsing into bed at nine. But on the bright side, I ordered Lisa's birthday present at the weekend, and it came yesterday.

Obviously I was out at work, and they wouldn't leave it, but the good news is they came back today.

Which was obviously no better. I did try to contact them to request that they deliver it in my lunch hour, but apparently they don't do things like that. They prefer to turn up unannounced when I'm out, and put a card through my letterbox. Anyway, having tried (and failed) twice to hand over Lisa's gift, they've now given me 48 hours to collect it in person from their depot. Which closes at 6pm. And is situated at Gatwick Airport. That's the convenience of internet shopping for you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I was watching the Olympics at lunchtime today, and saw a Chinese swimmer called Qi. I thought that was quite interesting. According to her Wikipedia entry, Qi is "technically perfect and undoubtedly very hard-working and talented", so I'm sensing she wrote it herself. I might edit it to say she's lazy and flawed, and see how long it takes the Beijing secret police to turn up.

In other news, I had a bit of a rude awakening this morning. Literally. Lisa clearly hadn't forgotten what happened on Saturday, and thought it might be amusing to give me a taste of my own medicine. So instead of waking me gently with a tender caress, she shook me violently by the shoulder until I woke up screaming. How we laughed. Her loudly, me inwardly and with deep resentment.

Unfortunately for Lisa, she then committed the schoolboy error of allowing herself to fall back to sleep while I was in the shower. Needless to say it's now two-one to me. And I scored extra points for making her hit the ceiling.

Anyhoo, I've been driving around the streets of Brighton in the pharmacy drugsmobile this afternoon. One of the regular drivers was off sick (ironic, given that he spends his working life visiting hospitals), so I had to deliver drugs to the Royal Sussex, the Eye Hospital and Hove Polyclinic. I've decided it's not a good idea for the person who picks, checks and packs the drugs in the morning to then deliver them in the afternoon. There's something about knowing the value of your cargo which affects your ability to drive. Frankly if I'd crashed that van, the whole nation's taxes would have to go up.

But I made it back safely, and returned home to a letter personally addressed to me (and every other voter in Kemptown) by Simon Burgess, Labour's candidate for the next election. As previously demonstrated on this blog, the man's no stranger to a tandem, but this letter reveals far more about him. Apparently Simon has worked in frontline NHS services and wants an NHS we can be proud of, complete with "properly paid staff".

Its' HistoryBut mostly importantly, Simon's aware of

Its' Patientsand promises to be an advocate for

Its' Staffand

The man's got my' vote.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yesterday got off to a good start when I woke up, saw it was 7:30am, panicked that we'd overslept, and shook Lisa awake, before realising it was Saturday and we didn't have to get up. I think she saw the funny side. To be honest, Lisa isn't sleeping much at the moment, due to a combination of heartburn and the fact that she has a five-pound baby thrashing about in her abdomen, so me waking her up probably came as a refreshing change.

With the damage done, I left Lisa in bed and got up to make a diet shopping list for Asda. I weighed myself on Friday for the first time in a couple of months, and let's just say it wasn't good news. I'm not revealing how much weight I've put on since the start of the year, but frankly the scales thought I was the pregnant one.

Compare and contrast this photo from November last year with this one taken two weeks ago. I look like I've moved to America. Mind you, Lisa's piled on the pounds too. And my Mum's aged terribly. Or maybe that's not her in the first photo.

Anyway, it's hard to believe that eating all those flapjacks, brownies and gingerbread men at work every day could have such an effect, but apparently it has. That giant Eccles cake I had on Thursday morning to help me over my midweek illness certainly didn't look that high in calories, but you never can tell. So despite the fact that the pharmacy stores supervisor has promised to bake us a coconut cake this weekend, I think the time has come for action.

Two years ago I lost ten pounds in about three weeks on The South Beach Diet, so I'm going back to that for a while. At least until the end of today. I'll see how I feel when I meet the coconut cake tomorrow. Interestingly, when I decided to start the diet in July 2006, I'd just had a visit from Lorraine, and funnily enough the same thing's happened two years later. The woman clearly puts me off my food.

Bra Bra Black SheepAnyhoo, having been to Asda and stocked up on healthy stuff, I escorted Lisa into town, where she bought the bra on the left. It's called the 'Gabrielle', so I think you're meant to wear it with an eye patch. Lisa looks even better in it than the model, but you'll have to take my word for that.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what my role was meant to be in this venture. I basically just sat on the comfy sofas in Bravissimo for twenty minutes, giving reassuring glances to the other lost-looking husbands, until Lisa had made up her mind. I was expecting her to pop out of the changing rooms in her underwear and ask for my opinion, but it didn't happen.

That done, Lisa proved that she's not on a diet by heading straight to Subway for a sandwich, while I went to the pound shop and bought some tupperware for my vegetables. From there we walked to Somerfield where I bought two lettuces and she picked up a fresh cream cake. We finished up at Love's Fish Restaurant, made famous by Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, where Lisa got takeaway fish & chips and I got £3.50 change from a tenner. I'm not saying who had the better day, but it wasn't me.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mr Do!The big news of the day from work (if you believe everything you're told) is that my boss once taught Meatloaf to play Mr Do!. He also claims to have met Omar Sharif and sung with Tina Turner. Apparently it's all in a day's work when you manage an amusement arcade on Brighton seafront. Mind you, he also swore blind he could catch a ball with his eyes closed, and we soon put that claim to bed. He's now got a bruise where it hit him in the stomach.

Interestingly, I discovered that wealth of information shortly after demonstrating my juggling skills with a stress-busting foam penguin from Unison. Let's just say it's been a quiet day at work. The people of Sussex are too damn healthy.

I'm beginning to think there's something in the water though, because having heard a few tall tales at work, I came home to the news that one of Lisa's colleagues was apparently sent home this morning because she was radioactive and couldn't be around pregnant women. I think it must be April 1st, and no one's told me.

But in far more sensible news, I'm going bra shopping tomorrow. Lisa's persuaded me to accompany her to Bravissimo for a fitting (her, not me). She's struggling to stretch her current bra around both her and the baby, and wants a couple of nursing bras for the weeks after birth. Fortunately they have some very appealing products. Here's a photo of a breastfeeding mother from the Bravissimo website...

Shortly After Birth
I'm not sure if it's the bra Lisa wants, or just the flat stomach.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I was sent home from work yesterday. Not for breaking another bottle of morphine, but for being generally unwell. I think they were worried I'd throw up over the ondansetron. I didn't feel too bad at 8:30am, but having spent three hours surrounded by painkillers, I had the kind of headache only JFK could understand, and felt sick at the sight of cyclizine.

So they sent me home. My manager even offered to drive me in the pharmacy van. I refused, hoping they'd offer me an ambulance, but it didn't happen.

Anyhoo, having spent the afternoon in bed, and the evening discussing baby names with Lisa, I feel ok. Kind of. To be honest I still don't feel quite right, but my head feels less like I've been shot, and more like I've been gently tapped with a baseball bat, so against medical advice (mainly from my mother), I've decided to go into work this morning. After all, if you're going to collapse with a serious medical condition, there are worse places to do it than a pharmacy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

One of my work colleagues has just been away for a long weekend, during which she embarked on a nine-mile canoe trip down the River Wye. She was back at work today though, so she clearly hasn't got the hang of this whole faking-your-own-death lark. She really ought to be half way to Panama by now.

And Daddy loves me.But while my colleagues are wandering Wye, Lisa and I have been taking delivery of a new batch of baby clothes. The lovely Lorraine came round for the evening yesterday with her 4-month-old little princess, Leia, and brought us three bags full of unwanted clothing. Something tells me she went a bit mad in the Next sale. Either that, or she's been teaching Leia 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and needed a visual aid.

As a result, we now have enough pink fabric in the house to reconstruct Barbara Cartland, and we may never need to go shopping again. On the downside, I'll have to throw out most of Lisa's clothes to make room for it all.

But having spent two hours in her company, I'm pleased to report that baby Leia is quite adorable. She talks a lot less than her mother, but she makes up for the lack of conversation with lots of smiles and general cuteness. I wasn't even put off by the vomit. Frankly, life after September is going to be great. Leia's lovely enough, but my baby's related to Lisa. It doesn't get any better than that.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Why do TV camera crews never want to interview me on the street?

Pride in Your Appearance
Just because I don't have a green moustache and trousers made out of a deckchair. It's discrimination, that's what it is.

Anyhoo, yesterday was Pride 2008 in Brighton, and what a day we had for it. I don't know if it was the pouring rain I hated most, or the bitter east wind which came all the way from Siberia just to give me a headache. But either way, it was grim. Lisa's Mum always stays indoors when Pride is on, and frankly I wished I was there with her. The only thing to be proud of was climate change.

But before retreating onto the pier to defrost ourselves with warm doughnuts, Lisa and I did see some rare sights. Here's the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender wing of the Conservative Party...

I've come out. I'm a Tory.
It's surprising how many of them there were. About half the local Tory party seemed to have crammed on to that float. The others were all up at the clock tower, taking part in the anti-gay protest.

Anyway, the celebrations continue today with a street party just around the corner from me, and a cabaret featuring the likes of Betty Swollocks and Fonda Cox. They both sound like nice girls. Interestingly, Lisa once met Betty Swollocks at a funeral, which just goes to show the kind of social circles she moves in.

Sadly, however, I don't think I'll be able to make it along to this evening's event, 'Around the World in Eighty Gays', due to ill health. August obviously doesn't agree with me, because the prostatitis I had last summer appears to have reared its ugly head, and I feel as rough as... well, as rough as Lisa really. But at least she'll feel better in October.

The good news though is that I now have a four-week supply of antibiotics which I picked up from the chemist yesterday. Whilst waiting for my prescription, a bloke walked in and told the pharmacist he'd hit his head on a tree (as you do) and wanted something to remove a splinter. Fortunately, my local chemist isn't in it for the money, so instead of selling him something, he offered to personally remove the wood from the man's skull. It was an entertaining couple of minutes. I'm not saying it went badly, but having failed to stop the bleeding, they ended up having to send him straight to casualty with a wad of tissues on his head. The man only went in for a pair of tweezers. You have to laugh.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Am I the only one who finds it hard to hear the name Barry George without thinking of Culture Club? Every time I see a picture of Jill Dando, I start humming 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?'

Don't Lose your HeadBut that aside, my favourite news story of the day was this one from Canada:

"A man on a Greyhound bus travelling across the Canadian Prairies has killed and decapitated a fellow passenger. An eyewitness said the victim was stabbed 50 or 60 times by the man sitting next to him, who then severed his head with a large knife."

And I thought I'd sat next to a few nutters on the bus.

A couple of years ago, Big Sis went out for the evening with a bloke she'd met on a Greyhound Bus. Some people thought she'd lost her head that day, but clearly it could have been worse.

Anyhoo, it's been a quiet day at work, which is why I was reading the BBC news site, but by mid-afternoon I was forced to leap into action. I received a phone call at 3:40pm from the Royal Sussex County Hospital, saying they needed an urgent supply of drugs for the weekend (don't we all), and asking if there was any way they could get hold of them. Naturally I did the only decent thing: I told them I'd take their drugs. With hindsight I wish I'd said "drive them over".

As luck would have it, I happened to know that Lisa was due to finish work at 4pm, and I couldn't help thinking that she might like a ride in the pharmacy van appreciate a lift home in her current state of pregnancy. So with patient welfare very much at the forefront of my mind, I jumped into one of Her Majesty's vehicles and headed straight for Lisa's place of work.

Unfortunately, despite looking like she's got a space hopper up her blouse, Lisa can move more quickly than you think. By the time I got there, she'd already left, and was heading down the main road on foot. I soon caught up with her in the drugsmobile, but herein lies the problem: Lisa is the most unobservant person I've ever met. Frankly it's a miracle she ever spotted me on Victoria station four years ago. She has a tendency to head in a straight line (usually in the wrong direction), looking permanently ahead and refusing to veer from her path, come hell, high water, or white van man screaming her name across two lanes of traffic.

I shouted at her from the right-hand lane of a dual carriageway, waved my arms, then turned right, did a u-turn, and pulled onto the pavement. As she neared the corner, I honked my horn, leaned out of the window, and shouted again. She stopped. But only because there was a red man on the crossing. And I don't mean me. So I floored the accelerator, pulled up to the traffic lights, saw the green man appear, and watched as she crossed the road three feet in front of my van.

I have to say, shouting at pedestrians on a pelican crossing does tend to get you some odd looks from members of the public. Unfortunately the only person not to turn, stare, and start to take down my registration number was Lisa. I waved and shouted at her again thirty seconds later as I overtook the girl for a third time, but as I write this, Lisa still has no idea I was ever there. And she won't do until she reads this post.