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Monday, May 31, 2010

Ok, I think I've finished dressing up as Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. You can open your eyes now and pretend to like what I've done. Frankly I've been through more fonts in the past twenty-four hours than a priest on a christen-a-thon. But I think I'm happy with the results. In an ideal world, I'd have my comments opening in a new window as before, but that doesn't seem to be possible. And to be honest, managing to upgrade my template from HTML to XML without losing all the comments on 1,953 different blog posts is an achievement in itself. So I suppose I can't complain. Much.

As it happens, this place isn't the only one I've been redecorating recently. Lisa's Mum is in the process of moving into sheltered accommodation (which means it's guaranteed to have a roof), so Lisa and I have been busy making the place fit to live in. Not as busy as my parents though, who spent last week painting it from top to bottom. They're now so knackered, they need to go into a care home.

I went over there on Friday night to put up curtains and arrange the mats and towels I bought to match the new carpet we've had fitted. I also stocked the kitchen with utensils and tested the new toaster and kettle. We then took Lisa's Mum to view the place yesterday afternoon. She opened the kitchen cupboards, looked horrified, and said "Oh! They've left their old mugs!". I had to explain that I'd bought them for her especially. From her reaction, I think they'll be going in the bin on moving day.

But the good news is that she'll soon be able to afford all the new mugs she wants, because someone had put this card through her front door...

It's never too late to Train2Game.
This is a complex of more than a hundred sheltered flats for pensioners who need extra help and support, and Train2Game have delivered a card to every one of them, suggesting that the residents train to become video game designers. They're obviously taking 'Tomb Raider' quite literally.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Move along, there's nothing to see here.

As it's a bank holiday weekend, I've decided to undertake a bit of DIY on my blog. In all probability, what you're currently viewing is no more than a work in progress, with bare floorboards, bits of old wallpaper, and a few power-tools lying around. It'll take me a while to tidy it all up.

So come back tomorrow, by which time I'll have decided that I hate what I've done with it, and put everything back where it was before...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's mine and Lisa's six year anniversary today.

That was the picture on the front of the card we received from my parents.

And this was the one on Lisa's card to me.

I now regret buying a humorous card with a picture of Tarzan on the front. It doesn't lend itself well to romantic blog posts. I'd bin the thing, but it cost me three quid and I feel I need to get my money's worth.

Anyhoo, the good news is that my parents have kindly taken Amelie off our hands, so that we're free to enjoy a romantic and peaceful weekend on our own. We're planning to make the most of it by spending our Saturday night doing the shopping at Asda. I might even treat Lisa to the DVD of Precious, partly because it's a film she's been wanting to see for ages, partly because the title describes how she is to me, but mainly because it's about an obese, illiterate, pregnant 16-year-old girl with a Downs syndrome son, who lives in a ghetto and suffers long term physical, sexual, and mental abuse from her unemployed mother. And if that doesn't make Lisa appreciate her life with me, nothing will.

Anyway, now we are six, and I love Lisa more and more every year. It could be a very long time till our seventh anniversary though. I plan to marry her in the next twelve months, so we'll be back to the paper anniversary in 2011.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I shot this video at 7:15am this morning, within ten minutes of Amelie getting up...

With hindsight, I probably should have brushed her hair first. The girl looks like Russell Brand on a blustery day. You'll also notice her self-congratulatory clapping and general pleased-with-herself expression. Lisa says she gets that from me. As for the giant wooden animal board she picks up from the coffee table, I bought that on Tuesday from the one and only charity shop in Hurstpierpoint. They don't do plastic there. To be honest, it's probably oak.

But all of that aside, I think I've successfully proved that Amelie can count up to ten. Not always in the correct order, it's true, but I put that down to free-thinking and creativity. I like to put words in an order they've never been placed in before, and nobody says that's wrong. Well, they do, but I tend to ignore them.

Anyhoo, having filmed Amelie doing her Clever Hans and stamping her little feet, I headed off to the doctor first thing this morning. I've been in a lot of pain this week (although obviously I've been putting a brave face on it, and only moaning to Lisa). I'd go into details, but frankly I refuse to write another blog post about prostatitis. I struggle to spell it every time. So if you really want to know the facts, read this post, and then click on all the links in the first paragraph. That should put you off your tea.

I got the antibiotics I was after, so I decided to pull my finger out and ask my doctor about something else too. I've had a problem with the joints of both little fingers for... oooh, at least a year now. Possibly two. It's only really painful if I try to play the guitar or hold Lisa's hand, both of which I've had to give up since Amelie was born. So I haven't done anything about it.

In the past few months, however, it's got noticeably worse. Poking around for earwax is now agony. So whilst at the surgery this morning, I decided to give my doctor the finger. He examined them both, and I have to say his digital reception was a lot stronger than I expected. Within five minutes he'd referred me for a couple of x-rays and a blood test.

So at 4pm this afternoon I found myself sitting in a room at Hove Polyclinic, while a woman with an x-ray machine cased the joint of my left little finger. The results will take two weeks. So I've got another fortnight to practice Amelie's counting, before they amputate and we have to stop at eight.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I forgot to say that whilst on holiday last week, I taught Amelie to ride a bike...

Easy RiderAnd she didn't even need stabilisers. It's quite an achievement, because her mother struggles to stay upright on a tricycle.

Anyhoo, we finally left Somerset on Saturday, but before departing the holiday camp for the last time, we decided to treat ourselves to a cooked breakfast in the Mash & Barrel restaurant, on the grounds that anywhere that charges £2.95 per person has got to be good. Admittedly, having seen the size of the portions, I wished I'd paid £5.90 and had twice as much, but Amelie seemed to like it. Which is surprising, as when she first saw the menu, she tried to kill herself.

Lisa and I were queuing at the counter at the time, so the first we knew of the suicide bid was the sound of running, as Amelie left the restaurant at high speed with Lisa's Mum in hot pursuit. She made it past security, through the doors, and within three feet of the open air swimming pool before her grandmother managed to rugby-tackle her to the ground. To be honest, neither of them can swim, and Lisa's Mum said she nearly had a heart attack, so we could have had a double fatality on our hands. Which would have made next year's holiday a lot cheaper.

Fortunately they both survived to tell the tale (well, Lisa's Mum told the tale while Amelie asked for a bic-bic), and I think we all had a good holiday.

Tea Break
I was going to take a photo of us outside the caravan, but frankly we spent more time in those teapots.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Having been sentenced to four nights at the Burnham-on-Sea Holiday Village, we were unexpectedly denied parole on Friday, and allowed to stay another day. I think it was down to Amelie's bad behaviour. And the fact that we bunged them an extra twenty quid.

It meant that we were able to finish our week with a trip to Glastonbury Abbey...

Abbey Habit
If you compare that photo with the cave painting I published on Monday, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we went on holiday with a cardboard cut-out of Lisa's Mum, and simply posed with it in front of numerous landmarks. Needless to say, you'd be wrong. We didn't visit numerous landmarks.

I should also point out that the structure behind us isn't Glastonbury Abbey. It's the Glastonbury Abbey Gift Shop. It was the only part of the building with free entry. I love history as much as the next man, but I'm not made of money. And besides, you can get the same experience from a keyring and a postcard. At least, that's what I told Amelie.

Among the other local landmarks that we didn't visit was the Glastonbury Tor, a big old hill about a mile from the town centre. I wanted to get the Tor bus to base camp, but the only person willing to climb every mountain with me was Amelie, and I knew I'd end up having to carry her back down, so we decided to stay at sea level.

We might not have experienced the magical mystery of the Tor, but Glastonbury High Street was certainly full of weirdos. I've never seen so many new-age spiritual nutcases. The place was crawling with extra large mediums, clairvoyants and soothsayers. Although oddly, they didn't seem to be expecting us.

We passed some fine establishments with names such as 'The Magick Box', 'Man, Myth & Magik' (that's two different spellings of 'magic' and I don't agree with either of them), 'Yin Yang', 'The Goddess & the Green Man', and my particular favourite, 'The Psychic Piglet'. No, seriously...

The Psychic Piglet
It all made for a very interesting shopping experience (even the woman in Oxfam wanted to talk to me about angels), but personally I felt more at home in the cake shop. We spent a very enjoyable five minutes in Burns the Bread, an unfortunately named bakery, the website of which exclaims "Anybody's butter - but Burns the Bread is best!" - a slogan which works on virtually no level whatsoever.

They do, however, sell Torsy Moorsy, a luxury fruitcake which has been "developed from an old recipe found in a niche next to a fireplace whilst renovating the bakery over 25 years ago". Personally I wouldn't trust a recipe which someone had clearly tried to throw on the fire, so I settled instead for a sausage roll, a lemon muffin and a giant gingerbread man for Amelie. It was the size of her head, and she'd eaten it within ten minutes. But it was the quietest ten minutes of our holiday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a well known fact that if you've got a brain the size of a planet, you'll end up revolving around the sun...

I think the second ride was more her cup of tea.

That was Thursday at the Burnham-on-Sea Holiday Village. We'd actually taken Amelie to the 'Little Cubs' play session, but as it turned out, it wasn't much more than a bit of colouring-in on the carpet of the Mash & Barrel restaurant. The 'Fun Star' (that's a Red Coat to you and me) who took the session was a lovely young girl who kept apologising that she didn't really know what to do because she usually does 'Nature Detectives', not 'Little Cubs', and has only worked there for three months. I told her not to worry. The leader of 'Little Cubs' only needs to know the bear necessities.

We left the bear pit after half an hour with a ghost made out of a handkerchief, and a couple of stolen crayons (which we forced Amelie to return later, shortly after she drew on the walls of the caravan), and headed next door to the amusements. Amelie seemed to think she was at Alton Towers, and frankly with the amount of money I had to fork out on rides, she might as well have been.

Penniless and dizzy, we then headed to the beach for the traditional seaside holiday experience...

Dig For Victory
Judging by the amount of people there, we'd either been successful in our attempts to avoid the school holidays, or we'd arrived just after a bomb scare. I decided to let Amelie do some digging to find out which. Fortunately she survived, so I expect everyone else was at Heathrow, waiting for the ash to clear.

I helped Amelie build her first sandcastle, then sat back as she carefully demolished it one grain at a time, and attempted to put it all back in the bucket. That took her about half an hour. In the meantime, I looked across the water and told Lisa I could see Wales, which led to a confusing couple of minutes as she tried to spot large aquatic mammals off the Somerset coast.

The most momentous aspect of our trip to the seaside, however, was our discovery that at the age of nineteen months, Amelie can already count to ten. And we haven't even tried to teach her. Video evidence of this feat is so far eluding me, but whilst running across the beach towards the sinking sand on Thursday, Amelie started shouting out numbers (possibly counting down to the bomb going off). At first I thought I was hearing things, but on about four or five (she could tell you herself) occasions since, she's successfully counted, in order, all the way up to ten. Usually when my video camera's out of reach. She must have learnt it by watching me every day as I count how many biscuits she eats before breakfast.

With maths mastered, I decided to see if she could write her name as well, but it wasn't a complete success...

The writing's on the wall. Well, the beach.
I wanted it in joined up letters.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The trouble with staying in a caravan which is essentially built out of reinforced cardboard, is that when Amelie starts banging on the wall at 7:30am, it's hard to sleep through it. Suffice it to say, we had an early start on Wednesday. On the plus side, the lack of soundproofing meant that when Lisa's Mum started offering Amelie biscuits within five seconds of the girl getting up, we could hear every word. So we'll know where to send the bill for her stomach-stapling in twenty years time. She can go halves with my parents.

Personally, I only encourage Amelie to drink. Having browsed our 'Things To See & Do in Somerset' brochure, and discovered that the county is home to the world's largest Bakelite museum, I weighed up our options, and decided to take Amelie to the nearest cider farm...

Apple of My Eye
I had her over a barrel at one point, but she wouldn't sit still for the photo.

To be honest, there wasn't much to do at Rich's Cider Farm other than go scrumping and buy dairy products, so we loaded up on apple flavoured cheeses, bought a jar of Banana Curd, and headed back to the caravan.

The cheese we bought turned out to be one of the nicest I've ever tasted, so having eaten most of it for lunch, there was only one place to go in the afternoon. Here I am saying cheese in Cheddar...

Cheddar was Gorgeous (obviously). It's like the Grand Canyon on a budget. Not only is there a gorge to explore, but two spectacular caves, a lookout tower, a museum and an open-topped tour bus. As the brochure puts it, "It's a full day out". So naturally we got there at 3:30pm. A full hour before they close.

Fortunately they cater for people like us. In return for £28, they gave us three 'End of Day' tickets and a souvenir guide to show us what we'd missed. The tickets entitled us to visit only one of the caves, but frankly, by the time you've stumbled around in the dark for half an hour with a hyperactive toddler on reins, you're only too happy to get back to the car park.

It was good while it lasted though. Here are a couple of Flintstones and a stalag-mite in Gough's Cave...

Lisa's wearing a CareLink panic button around her neck in case she has a fall.

Reading our souvenir guide, it seems we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men (and possibly women) (but probably men) who have sucessfully explored these caves over the years, opening them up through a combination of digging and subterranean diving, and allowing us all to enjoy the results. The guide provides this photo of two such explorers at work...

Jamie Oliver
That Jamie Oliver gets everywhere.

Ultimately though, if you're going to visit Cheddar, you've got to buy some cheese. Apparently there's now only one Cheddar cheese which is actually made in Cheddar, and they leave it to mature in the caves...

Say Cheese
I had to physically restrain Amelie from climbing the steps and tasting it.

So having emerged into the gift shop, I naturally had to buy myself a chunk at all costs. All costs being £22.95 per kilo. It's the first cheese I've ever bought by credit card. I'd tell you what it's like, but I haven't tried it yet. I lost my appetite when I saw the price.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ignore the date at the top, I'm actually writing this on Tuesday the 18th, from the luxurious surroundings of a 'Prestige' caravan at the Burnham-on-Sea Holiday Village in Somerset. It's a lot like Doctor Who's Tardis. Not only does it look bigger on the inside, but it allows me to travel in time. And I've got a gorgeous assistant.

But enough about Lisa's Mum. As I write this, we've only been at the holiday park for twenty-four hours, but we've already made friends with the Canadian family next door...

We honk at each other every time we drive past.

So I'm well and truly down with the goose kids (which is a feather in my cap), and Amelie's keeping her fingers crossed that they'll let her play with them...

Pecking Order
In addition to having a gander at the neighbouring caravan, we've also been out for a duck hunt at the nearby lake. Amelie likes to run along the bank, shouting "Quack" at anything with wings, so she's on the verge of getting an ASBO from the local anglers. Frankly she's making a rod for her own back. And coming close to being hit with one.

Our journey down here yesterday was mostly without incident. I paid 50p for Amelie to have a ride on Clifford the Big Red Dog at a service station on the M4, which went well until the ride finished after about sixty seconds. At which point she looked up at me and shouted "More money!". I think it's a taste of things to come.

But we made it here in one (50p) piece, and settled into our accommodation. The caravan has three bedrooms and is bigger than our flat (not to mention more tidy), so I'm tempted to move in permanently. The park is very nice too - all grass, trees and lakes, with the beach just a stone's throw away. Although we haven't been able to test that yet, as it's all sand and no pebbles.

Amelie spent most of this morning doing laps of the nearby caravans, before accompanying me to the corner shop for the daily papers. Lisa's Mum asked if I could get her a copy of the Brighton Argus, but oddly, the Burnham-on-Sea branch of Spar appeared to have sold right out. So I got her the Daily Mirror instead. And told her to have a good look in it.

This afternoon we decided to explore Burnham town centre, so we piled into the car, turned left out of the holiday camp... and discovered it was only about 200 yards down the road. I wouldn't mind, but we ended up paying & displaying so close to our caravan, I could have watched for traffic wardens from the bedroom.

It was worth making the trip though, because we got to visit Britain's shortest pier...

I bought Amelie that bucket and spade from a pound shop in the town centre, but in the end she found something much better for building sand castles...

Gold Digger
Just look at that great big gold digger... sitting in the JCB.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Well, as of 4 o'clock this afternoon, we're back from Somerset. I've eaten enough cheese to clog the arteries of a hippo, Amelie's grazed her knee, Lisa's caught the sun, and we all smell faintly of apples.

As luck would have it, the holiday camp where we stayed had free wi-fi. Unfortunately my laptop doesn't. Frankly it barely has Windows. So I'm slightly disappointed to see that Big Sis has let me down on the blogging front. As I drove down the M5 on Monday, she was assuring me that she'd be taking full advantage of my absence by turning this place into some kind of speed awareness shrine, possibly with scans of her latest parking tickets, and photos from all ten of Wiltshire's Gatso cameras.

Unfortunately, by lunchtime on Tuesday, she was texting me to say that she'd underestimated the amount of time she'd have for blogging after doing a twelve-hour working day and a three-hour commute. So she's clearly struggling to subtract 15 from 24. As a result, she was unable to write anything more than an absence note.

But the good news is that whilst my old laptop might be about as compatible with modern technology as a Betamax video recorder, it does have enough working keys to allow me to scratch out a blog post by the light of a camping stove. So I'll be back in the morning with part one of 'What I Did On My Holidays'.

And in the meantime, here's a groovy chick I met round the back of our caravan...

Frankly the place was wall-to-wall birds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well, assuming the volcanic ash cloud doesn't shut the M4, I'm off to Somerset to spend four days in a caravan with the mother-in-law. And a screaming toddler. I'm sure it'll be more fun than it sounds.

Unless there's an internet café at the bottom of Wookey Hole, I doubt there'll be much going on here before the weekend. Although when we went to Weymouth three years ago, Big Sis posted here in my absence. I'll send her a text message and see what she can come up with...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's ok, my throat's fine as long as I don't speak or swallow. I'm keeping a spit bucket by my side, and communicating with Amelie via hard stares and smiles. Life continues pretty much as it was before. So going back to yesterday...

It's about eight months now since our good pal Andrew (of Stefan & Andrew fame) decided to do his bit for agnostic church music by joining a non-religious gospel choir. If you want to know the background to that decision, you need to read this post from last December. It doesn't explain much, but it does show him with his arms around The Cheeky Girls. He hasn't been the same since.

Andrew was let out in public at Christmas (see the link above), a breakthrough performance which resulted in an avalanche of offers from top agents. Mostly travel agents asking him to leave the country. But only five months later, he was back on stage yesterday, charging members of the public good money to hear him sing.

Here he is combining Comic Relief with Live Aid by wearing a microphone on his nose.

The Christmas concert was at Hove Town Hall, but naturally they're not going to be able to show their faces there again any time soon, so yesterday's show took place at Roedean School. We considered taking Amelie, but frankly she'll have plenty of time to see the place when she wins a scholarship there in ten years time, so we left her with her Grandma, and took Stefan instead. He seemed less likely to cry and ask for bic-bics.

The concert was part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, and featured the very talented Phebe Edwards, who's sung with both the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and the X Factor winner, Shayne Ward. I wonder which one she's more proud of?

Phebe has the kind of voice that could fill the Albert Hall without the need for a microphone, and makes Alexandra Burke look like one of the Cheeky Girls, but she's not the only talented member of her family. Here's Phebe's older sister Shirley singing a duet with Andrew...

Admittedly Andrew's voice is slightly drowned out by all the other people who insisted on singing, but I put that down to poor direction by the choir mistress.

The concert was very good anyway. Most of the faces were familiar, but the songs were new, there was an appearance by STOMPer Ollie Tunmer, and they even did a couple of a cappella numbers. Or maybe the sound system just broke down. Either way, it was impressive. As were the surroundings. Roedean School has its own purpose-built theatre, which made the facilities at my old Comprehensive look pretty lame. Our stage consisted of a few wooden crates and a curtain remnant, lit by a man with a big torch. In contrast, Roedean's pupils have something that wouldn't look out of place in the West End.

But if you're going to teach music and theatre, you've got to do dance. And sure enough, the interval drinks were served in the school's ballet studio...

Swan Lake
Some people need no invitation. I was going to have a go myself, but I didn't want to bring new meaning to the word Nutcracker.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's a well known fact that in the world's best choirs, they only give microphones to the most gifted performers...

Brighton's Got Talent
That's my good friend Andrew with his three backing vocalists. The one on the left is top gospel singer and support act to the stars, Phebe Edwards. Or as the official programme put it...

Phebe Edwards
And I must admit, she did keep looking at me.

Anyhoo, Lisa and I spent this afternoon at a 'Brighton Goes Gospel' concert. I'd tell you all about it, but we're going on holiday on Monday, so with impeccable timing, I've naturally gone down with flu today. The sandpaper I had in my throat this afternoon has developed into razor blades this evening, and I'm blowing more hot and cold than a bowl of chilli ice cream. I've even got the brain freeze headache to go with it. So I'm going to bed. My photo of Lisa doing ballet at Roedean School will have to wait till tomorrow...

Friday, May 14, 2010

The thing about big-budget movie production is that there are always unexpected hold-ups. Word has reached me from the East Sussex film set this morning that we're now in possession of some higher quality footage. Having worked through the night, the film crew discovered that my actors look better with the light on. So I've temporarily halted production in the editing suite until I get my hands on the latest action.

But while my Director of Photography continues to badger the local wildlife on location in St Leonards, I really should write an update on the slapstick comedy that is my sister's life. It was Big Sis's birthday on Wednesday. I didn't buy her a present because... well, because I barely know which country she's in, never mind what address she's living at on any given day. But I thought about getting her something, and it’s the thought that counts.

The last time I mentioned her, she was murdering armadillos in the deep south of America. Since then, she's had a near miss with a deer. It was quite spooky, because having swerved to avoid Bambi's Dad on a US highway, the sat-nav in her hire car flashed up the word 'STAG'. Ten seconds earlier, and she might not have clipped his antlers. It’s a handy safety feature though. If Australian cars had it fitted as standard, there'd be one more kangaroo in the world.

That was a couple of weeks ago, and Big Sis is now back in Britain. Where she's picked up another speeding fine in Wiltshire. Apparently though, this one was "an error". Much like her decision to take up driving.

But if you think that Big Sis would get into a lot less trouble if she just parked her car somewhere and left it, you'd be wrong. She texted me on Wednesday to say that she was in Weymouth at the beginning of the week, where she overslept by ten minutes, went to move her car, and found she'd got a parking ticket. So she drove into town in disgust (that's a Ford Disgust), paid & displayed for half an hour, returned to her car seven minutes late, and discovered another ticket. That's two within an hour of getting up, which isn't bad by anyone's standards. And on the bright side, it could solve my birthday present dilemma. I wonder if Weymouth Council does gift vouchers?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Mum popped over this evening and I successfully swapped Amelie for five magic beans and three tapes of badger footage. I've got an hour of action to sift through, and a few foxes to edit out, but suffice it to say that anyone who thinks that badgers can't climb stairs is in for a shock.

The finished movie could take me a while, but here's a trailer to be going on with...

All the classic films are in black & white.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Conservatives are in, and Lisa's sick to her stomach. I've never seen anyone so physically repulsed by the thought of a Lib-Con pact. Come to think of it, she started throwing up before they'd even announced it. As it happens, Lisa went down with a mystery illness early yesterday morning. Well, I say mystery. Personally I think she caught something from the Igglepiggle pyjamas. She hasn't been right since she posed for that photo. And let's face it, I bought them from a Hospice shop, so they've probably killed before.

For me though, the coalition government has ushered in a new era of productivity. With Lisa at death's door and Amelie asleep, I was able to get on last night with a job I've been meaning to do for... oooh, about three years now. Back in 2003, Jim Kitson of The Senators (click here if you’ve no idea who he is) sent me a couple of old promo videos from singles they'd released in 1988 and 1990. Using the stone-age technology we had in those days, I managed to put a lo-fi, fuzzy version of both on my Senators site. Versions which looked fine until technology advanced, everyone got broadband, and YouTube was invented. At which point they looked like they’d been created with a Victorian zoetrope.

So since about 2007, I've been meaning to produce some new digital versions of the videos which might actually be watchable. I even put a notice on this page of the website, promising to do it. That was about two years ago. And nothing's happened since. I blame the arrival of Amelie.

But now that we have a Prime Minister who's younger than my brother, I've been inspired to make better use of my time, and have finally dug out my old VCR and hooked it up to my PC. To be honest, I only really did it in preparation for getting my hands on some badger footage, but don't tell Mick & Jim Kitson.

So here, in high resolution technicolour (or at least two different shades of blue) are the guys who brought me and Lisa together...

That video dates from 1988, and was directed by Keith Allen, shortly before he divorced the mother of Lily. I was studying for my GCSEs at the time, and Lisa was... oh, I don't know, celebrating her 30th birthday or something.

It wasn't until 1990 that Lisa came across The Senators, when she saw their 'Ordinary Heartbreak' video on TV...

That was directed by Nick Willing. I remember his brother, God.

That video, and the album purchases which followed, made such an impression on Lisa that the moment the internet was invented, she was straight on there, entering the words 'Senators' and 'Kitson' into Google. And in 2002 she finally found what she was looking for:

Me. She's been disappointed ever since.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I took the badger cam over to my parents' house on Saturday and set it up on the windowsill of my Dad's study. He only uses the room to study Bob the Builder videos and their effect on Amelie's brain, so I knew it wouldn't be in the way there. Having instructed my parents to start recording at the first hint of monochrome mammal movement, I then returned home to await news. It arrived this afternoon, in the form of an e-mail from my Dad:

"We have 10 minutes of badger!!"

I knew it was worth him sitting through those four hours of footage. I haven't seen the film for myself yet, so it's possible it's just a fat alley cat, but either way, I'll have it on YouTube by the end of the week.

In the meantime, I've continued in my quest to clear Sussex's charity shops of quality goods. I was working in Haywards Heath today, and in addition to seeing twenty-five patients, I saw these for £2 in the St Catherine's Hospice shop...

Who's not in bed?I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "I wouldn't pay as much as two quid for them", but as it happens, I'm not referring to Lisa and Amelie. I actually bought those Igglepiggle pyjamas. They're brand new, complete with tags, and in Amelie's size (which I think is verging on Extra Large). They also feature the words "Yes, my name is Igglepiggle", which is a lyric from her favourite song. Lisa and I were forced to sing it to her twelve times before she'd agree to go to bed tonight.

But that's not all. Oh no. I also did a lot of good work today for Oxfam. In there I found another brand new item (there's clearly a lot of unwanted gift-giving going on in Haywards Heath). It's a digital photo frame with a twist. The twist being that it's only one inch wide and on a keyring. I can store up to fifty-six digital photos on it, and carry it with me wherever I go. I'll be able to stand around in hospital waiting rooms, playing slideshows of Amelie to bored receptionists. Whether they like it or not.

It looks a little complicated to operate, but fortunately it comes with a comprehensive instruction manual. Unfortunately its author isn't what you'd call a native speaker of English...

Thick Reminiscence Favor
I started struggling to work out what "aspect designing with thick reminiscence favor" might be, but then I turned the page and read this...

So it's obviously just me.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

It's Amelie feeding her face in St Philip's Garden of Rest!

Phil's Garden
No seriously, that's what it's called. If you squint a bit, it looks like they have my name on the gate.

As it happens, Lisa, Amelie and I have just got back from church. I'll give you a moment to get over the shock of that news. It's true that we're not what you'd call regular church-goers, but we do like a good buffet, and Lisa's always been keen to try a communion wafer, so we decided to pop over to Hove this morning for a Sunday service.

Our main (some would say only) reason for attending was to witness the confirmation of Lisa's sister and nephew. To be honest, we had no idea what that meant, but having established the presence of free food, we decided to turn up anyway. And let's face it, we're both Godparents to that boy, so anything he gets up to in church is officially our business. Unless he's caught throwing stones at the stained glass windows.

Anyhoo, the service lasted for an hour and a half. It just felt much longer. Amelie and I walked out halfway through, but our protest didn't seem to attract much support, so having eaten a rusk in the garden, we went back inside. I don't think we missed much.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of formality, and I'd run out of steam by about page 9 of the Holy Eucharist & Sacrament of Confirmation, but I did like the church's multi-faith play area. In addition to selling colouring-in sheets for only 10p each, they had a range of books to read, including 'Buddhist Stories' and 'Muslim Stories'. It made me wonder if the teddy bear Amelie found was called Mohammed. I thought their attempts to acknowledge other religions was admirable (keep your friends close and your enemies closer), but I do think they're taking a bit of a risk. One boring sermon, and all the kids will convert to Islam.

Anyhoo, I thought Lisa's sister looked very pretty in a floral dress, although her outfit was slightly upstaged by the bishop. She also came close to setting Lisa's hair alight with her confirmation candle, but fortunately Lisa was moving with such speed towards the buffet, that the flames were put out by her whirlwind. I'm not saying she was keen to get to the food, but having consumed the body of Christ in the communion service, she pretty much ate all twelve disciples in the church hall afterwards. Now I know where Amelie gets it from.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I'll say one thing for this new coalition government: they get things done. This was my Mum back in the 1960s, looking for somewhere to chuck an ice cream on Hastings seafront...

She hasn't changed a bit.
And here's the scene now...

Who says there's no such thing as progress.

Friday, May 07, 2010

So as it turned out, the Lib Dems didn't have a Clegg to stand on after all. I can't believe it. It just goes to show that you can't trust those upwardly mobile worms. I'm talking about the debate indicators there, not Tory voters.

Brighton Pavilion may have been the first constituency ever to elect a Green MP (apart from Mars South), but sadly I live in the neighbouring ward of Brighton Kemptown. Which means I've woken up to the news that I'm now represented by this man...

Si of Relief for the ToriesI think that's what you call a hairy situation. I've no idea where you go to get your hair done like that, but I hope they don't charge.

Anyhoo, that's Simon Kirby of the Conservatives, who has overthrown the Labour Party in Kemptown to become my new MP. I'm thrilled. Sorry, I mean chilled. To the bone. Frankly I'd rather have David Van Day. I'm sure Simon's a lovely man, but if we're going to elect a Tory, I'd rather have one we can laugh at.

I feel a bit sorry for Simon Burgess, the Labour party candidate. He seems to have been campaigning for this seat for what feels like an eternity. The man's been putting leaflets through my letterbox for almost as long as I've lived in Brighton. Let's face it, it's already more than two years since I posted a picture of him on a tandem. In comparison, Mr Kirby's been like the invisible man. Although with hair like that, I'd be in hiding too.

Of course, the Labour Party saw that as a deliberate tactic. They put a leaflet through my door last week, claiming that the Conservatives were intentionally avoiding doing any campaigning in Kemptown, in an attempt to fool voters into thinking that Labour had it sewn up. Thereby spreading complacency amongst Labour supporters, and reducing their turnout. At the time I thought that was just paranoia, but having seen the result, and looked at the lack of blue leaflets in my recycling box, I'm beginning to think that Simon Kirby's strategist deserves some kind of medal. Mind you, I suppose it's a tactic that makes a lot of sense. I've always been more popular with people who have never met me.

Personally I'm a one man Lib-Lab pact. I tend to be Lib Dem at heart, but I'm willing to work with Labour if it gets me what I want. And what I mostly want is tree-felling. I let Gordon Brown keep one eye on me, but the moment he's back in the bigotmobile, I'm shaking hands with Nick Clegg. So Kemptown turning blue is a bit of a grey day for me.

But despite my general election disappointments (there are now no Labour MPs in Sussex), there is one person who's succeeded in bringing a bit of sparkle to the election campaign in Brighton. I took Amelie to the polling station last night in her new shoes.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lisa's sister bought Amelie a new pair of shoes today. They're quite sparkly. But don't just take my word for it...

And before you ask, no, I didn't film that with the badger cam.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

When it comes to fashionable hairstyles, Big Sis and I are in the same boat...

I'm the one on the left.
We're both up the creek without a paddle. Well, apart from the two in the photo. It's a wonder I look so cheerful.

I found that picture in an old photo album during our four-day binge-a-thon in St Leonards. I wanted something to read while I ate my ice cream and cheesecake. Fortunately (for our waistlines), we returned home yesterday afternoon, and I duly weighed myself this morning. I'm not saying it was bad news, but frankly I'm more depressed than I was a week ago.

On the plus side, Lisa's done her bit to help me avoid eating, by spending the afternoon creating the kind of lasagne you'd cross the street to avoid. Frankly even Iceland would think twice about charging for this one. I returned home to the smell of burning milk and the kind of kitchen only Kim & Aggie could clean. Things had got so bad that Lisa had been forced to call in a friend to act as some kind of Red Adair figure as her hopes went up in flames. I think it's where we get the phrase 'making a meal of it'.

But that's not the only stroke of luck I've had today. Returning to work after five days of mourning (and six days of eating), I was cheered up this afternoon when fate stepped in with a bit of serendipitous good fortune. I was doing an all-day clinic at Horsham Hospital (which didn't feel that lucky when the alarm went off at 6:15am) so at lunchtime today I braved the rats of Horsham Park and made my way into town to the nearest charity shop. Where I immediately found this piece of kit for only ten quid...

Badger CamIt's a bona fide badger cam! Well, kind of. It's actually a NatureWatch Micro Wireless Camera with colour, sound and infra red vision for seeing in the dark. The night vision's only in black & white, but that doesn't matter because so are badgers.

It's actually designed for installing inside a bird box, so that you can see tits on your TV before the 9pm watershed. But having tried (and failed) to film the nocturnal wildlife of Hastings using a video camera which barely functions after dusk, it's just what I need. I'll be filming episodes of Big Badger in no time.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The good thing about spending the weekend in St Leonards, is that it gave me the chance to complete my trilogy of great movie entrances. This was part one, filmed last November...

I followed that up with an all-action sequel at Easter...

But now the magnum opus is complete, with this, the third and final part of the 'Living Room Door' trilogy...

She picked her Grandad's nose without permission, then blew it by being caught on camera.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

It's me and Amelie soaking up the south coast sunshine on a bank holiday weekend...

Bank Holiday Sunshine
That's a parasol I'm holding. And Amelie's trying to protect her face from sunburn.

We've actually been at my parents' house in St Leonards since Thursday evening, where we've retreated for a bit of rest and recuperation. It's like rehab for the downhearted. And it has free creche facilities.

On the bench.We still feel a bit sad about the loss of our baby, but fortunately we have a super-sub on the bench. Although I'd rather she hadn't sat there in the pouring rain. By the time she got up, those tights needed a lot more than a ladder to escape the pool of water she was sitting in.

Lisa's body seems to think she's still pregnant, and has been making her feel as tired as Gordon Brown looks, so I've spent the weekend taking Amelie for long walks in the hope of doing the same to her. As a result, I'm now so knackered I can barely keep up with the girl.

We've spent a lot of time on the beach, picking up stones, jumping in rock pools, and stroking passing dogs (not always with their owners' consent), but the nicest walk took place yesterday afternoon, because Lisa came with us. The three of us toddled all the way to Hastings, where we found a seafront gift shop selling coffee mugs which say 'Proud to be a Health Service Worker'. I was going to buy one, but pride tends to go before a fall, and Amelie had already pulled me over once that day. I've got a bruised arm from running downhill at high speed, trying to keep hold of the toddler reins.

Anyhoo, we spent an hour in Hastings town centre yesterday, where we met a man who was trying to convert people to Christianity by singing Nessun Dorma, and a bloke canvassing for the Labour Party in a giant fox suit. I'm not sure either was very succesful.

But on the subject of local wildlife, my parents went to the AGM of their residents' association on Friday, where they learnt that one of their neighbours has a somersaulting ferret. No, really. Apparently it's going to be performing at a street party in July, without the aid of a safety net. Needless to say I'll be visiting that weekend with my camera. 'You've Been Framed' pay good money for that sort of thing.

And as if that wasn't enough animalistic excitement, my Mum saw a badger in the garden on Friday night. I've been attempting to film it ever since, but despite tying Lisa to a tree like Fay Wray, I haven't managed to lure it back. There's also a slight concern that it could be dangerous to have large mammals roaming around on the patio, and that Amelie's likely to have TB by the end of the week. I suggested contacting the local Brock Advisory Centre for a risk assessment, but as Lisa helpfully pointed out, "We could just invite Big Sis over. She'd kill it for us in no time".

Saturday, May 01, 2010

With less than a week to go until the General Election, Amelie's had enough of listening to Nick Clegg...

Liberal Youth
Mind you, she feels the same about Tony Blair and David Cameron...

New LabourYoung Conservative
She does still like Gordon Brown, but that's only because she hasn't heard how he talks about her.