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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There are definite advantages to moving house. Out of the blue, one of my neighbours has just started learning the saxophone. I've been sitting here for the past hour and a half, listening to 'Summertime' being played over and over again at a pace so slow it could make a glacier jealous. Frankly I'm praying for autumn.

But I'm not sure our new neighbours will be much better...

Fire, my arsonist.
When Lisa, Amelie and I popped up to the new flat last night to bounce around on the carpet, we found the neighbouring road closed, and the whole area crawling with police and fire crews. For a moment I thought the bloke from Carpetright had dropped a fag on his way out, but as it transpires, we're simply moving in next door to an arsonist. I expect the moment he's released from police custody, he'll be inviting us round for a barbecue.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The new carpet's been laid!

Carpetright have lived up to their name and we're all jumping for joy...

Although once we've moved in, there'll be no shoes allowed past the front door.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The trouble with simultaneously moving house, working full-time and wrangling a mischievous toddler in a heatwave, is that it doesn't leave much time for blogging. And when you do finally sit down, you're too knackered to write anything. Frankly this keyboard makes an attractive pillow right now.

But the good news is that our new dining table arrived today, and despite being twenty miles away in Haywards Heath at the time, I've miraculously captured the moment on film...

Teak Addy
I managed to stop them before they unloaded the coffin. But as you can see, Lisa and Amelie were pretty excited about the table. It fits in perfectly in its new home - right outside the front door.

Anyhoo, as it happens, my Dad was there to take delivery of the dining table and four chairs this afternoon. And I'm glad he was, because by the time he'd dismantled it to get it down the hallway, he'd successfully revealed the manufacturer's mark underneath the table top. It turns out that I've unwittingly bought a piece of Nathan Furniture. I can recognise British-made quality a mile off. Even in a charity shop.

But as if that wasn't enough to confirm that I chose the right table, have a look at this link from the Nathan Furniture website...


How spooky is that? It's got her name written all over it. Or it will have soon. In crayon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dead and BuriedDespite the album cover to the contrary, pink is well and truly dead. Having stood in the hallway of our new flat on Wednesday evening, and then spent a day considering the pros and cons of having our walls decorated in a shade of violet rarely seen outside Cadillac showrooms and panther enclosures, we came to the conclusion on Friday morning that living with a hallway the colour of Pepto-Bismol was likely to make us sick.

So following a brief telephone consultation with the decorators, my Dad agreed to re-do it. Having worked all day Friday on his pink cover version, the hall of our new flat is now bathed in Amethyst Showers. Which is the same colour as the living room. So at least we knew what it would look like.

In return for wasting my Dad's time, I agreed to paint all the skirting boards and door frames myself. So that's where I've been all weekend - on my hands and knees, and up a ladder, with a tin of white gloss. I did have a packet of mini rolls to help me through it, but sadly they were just spares for my tiny paint roller. The word 'sponge' was misleading.

Anyway, the hallway's not quite finished, but after one-and-a-half days work, I think I've done enough to look whiter than white. Frankly I don't think this paint's ever coming off my hands.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wu who!I had an e-mail from Amazon today to tell me that the book on the left is being published next Friday, and that if I pre-order it now, I can get 5% off. It's a new diabetic retinopathy textbook by Gloria Wu. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Wu who?". Well, you are if you're Homer Simpson.

As it turns out, she's an American ophthalmologist. I've looked up her website, and she refers to herself as Dr Wu. So she's obviously battling not only eye disease, but Daleks and Cybermen. Anyway, my exclusive 5% discount means that I can get the book on the day of publication for the bargain price of just £89.30. Yes, £89.30. Frankly for that kind of money, I'd want Gloria to come round and read it to me herself. I think I'll wait for the movie adaptation and get it on DVD.

I may not be keen to woo Gloria, but as it happens, I have been making a few other purchases. As certain people spotted in yesterday's video, I've just become a Dell boy by trotting off to PC World for a new monitor. It's state of the art technology, with 24 inches of widescreen, high definition, crystal clear loveliness. Lisa says Farmville has never looked so good.

But that's not all. I've been back to the Martlets Hospice Furniture Warehouse. And I've bought us a dining table. It's arriving on Monday. My Dad's charging his electric saw as we speak...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our daughter's such a basket case...

Having spent most of the day wearing her Easter bonnet like a bra, she's now disguising herself as a pillar box.

Amelie's not the only one seeing red at the moment though. Lisa and I are too. Well, not so much red as shocking pink. This was the colour we chose for the hallway at our new flat...

It's called 'Violet Verona 5'. And it does nothing like it says on the tin. Dulux describe it as "a fresh violet" for "a soft, subtle, understated look". My Mum describes it as "strawberry milkshake". And having gone up to the flat last night to inspect my Dad's handiwork, I'm inclined to agree with the latter. It was like walking into a bubblegum factory. I've never been so in the pink. Frankly, on this evidence, the two gentlemen of Verona were gay.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Well, it's almost time. Eleven days ago, England met the USA at Rustenburg. Five days ago, England met Algeria in Cape Town. And tonight England meet France at the airport.

But before that, we've got an important match against Slovenia. All over the country, businesses are being urged to accept the inevitable and let their employees watch the game live. And frankly I'm livid about it. These fixtures were announced months ago, complete with kick-off times, making it quite obvious that England's third group match would start at 3pm. So I booked today off work in April.

Admittedly, people thought I was a bit stupid at the time. After all, if England had beaten the USA and Algeria, today's match would be meaningless, and I'd look a fool for using up my annual leave just to watch it. But I knew we'd be rubbish. We always are in the first two games. The chances of us beating a team of Africans with eleven multi-millionaires were always going to be slim. Unlike Wayne Rooney.

So if I can have the foresight to take time off work two months in advance for a crucial World Cup crunch match, so can everyone else. Anyone who hasn't, deserves to miss it. Frankly if I had my own business, I'd take the Somali approach.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I was working at Horsham Hospital today. It's next door to the fire station. Which is next door to the police station. If you call 999, every phone in the street rings. There's no better place to be set on fire by a mugger.

Today, however, the fire-fighters of Horsham were fanning the flames of publicity, and had this sign burning brightly on the kerb outside the station...

Never mind leaving your body to medical science, you can leave your car to West Sussex Fire Brigade. It's a hot idea which appeals to me. I've certainly owned a few vehicles that I'd like to see set alight at the roadside. At least, I'm presuming that's what they want to do with them. For all I know, they plan to use them as fire engines. Let's face it, anyone who can get my last Skoda across town in a hurry without being overcome by smoke, would be more than qualified to drive a Dennis.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Whilst sat in the local branch of Carpetright on Saturday afternoon, watching my vitalstatistics being tapped into a calculator, I asked the salesman how long it would be before they could fit our new carpet. He told me that the one we'd chosen would need to be ordered from their head office, which isn't open over the weekend, and that having received the order on Monday morning, it would take about a week to be delivered to Brighton, and a few days more before they could fit it. So he suggested we could be looking at a fortnight.

Of course, that was before I used the word 'Carpetright' on my blog yesterday. It's a bit like using the word 'bomb' on a mosque telephone. By 9:15am this morning they'd picked up the reference at their headquarters in Purfleet and were reading my blog. And at 3pm this afternoon I got a call to say my carpet had just been delivered to Brighton, and I can have it fitted tomorrow.

Of course it could just be coincidence that they managed to get the thing shipped from Essex to Sussex within six hours of reading this blog, and find a fitter who's free the next day. It might not be the case that they deliberately pulled out all the stops in the hope of getting a decent online review on a well-established site. But frankly I don't care. I'm quite happy to sell out if it means I get a better service. So I'd just like to say that Carpetright are consistently great, and I never go anywhere else. Well, not for carpets. I'm sure their vinyl flooring's top quality too, but I haven't had a chance to try that yet.

(You've got my phone number if you want to rectify that situation).

Anyhoo, the tragedy is that the decorating's not finished yet, so we can't have it fitted tomorrow. But I appreciated the offer. They're lovely people at Carpetright, and I won't hear a word said against them.

Let's face it though, I'm not the only member of this family that wields great power. This was Amelie at 5:30pm this afternoon...

If Mr Carpetright's reading this, I promise to keep the next one more tidy. Especially if you let me have it for free.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's my second Father's Day, and things are going downhill already. Last year Amelie presented me with two CDs, a box of truffles and some personalised chocolate. This year I got a Banoffee Pie and a Chocolate Refrigerator Cake. I'd show you a photo, but I've eaten them both already. I did suggest that maybe she could have got me something which would last longer than two hours into Father's Day morning, but as her official spokesperson (Lisa) told me, "You already have everything you want". Plus a waistline I don't.

To be fair though, they were damn fine cakes. In fact they weren't just cakes, they were M&S cakes. I'm tempted to go back for more before I become so crippled with arthritis that I can no longer lick my own fingers.

Anyhoo, in the absence of any Father's Day photos, here's a close-up of a carpet...

Lisa and I bought that yesterday for our new flat. It's called 'Aubergine', which is interesting because if I had an aubergine that colour, I'd throw it away. We're combining it in the living room with walls painted in this shade of violet...

Amethyst Showers 4, Queen of the South 0We're choosing so many fruity pastels, we could both get jobs at Rowntree. That colour's known as 'Amethyst Showers 4', which sounds like half a scoreline from the gay football league. It's a light, fresh colour, which should provide the perfect background for Amelie to draw on the walls in biro. It won't matter if she drops moussaka on the carpet either.

Having spent yesterday in Carpetright, I took Amelie into town this morning to look for some Maisy Mouse books. She's already got five, but the words "MORE MAISY!!!" are constantly reverberating around this flat, and there's only so many times I can read 'Maisy Goes to Hospital' without checking into the mental health ward myself. Interestingly, the character's Wikipedia entry begins with the words "Maisy Mouse is a fictional mouse", presumeably to differentiate her from all the other cartoon mice which are, in fact, real. Obviously I haven't let Amelie read that - she'd be heartbroken.

Sadly we didn't find any Maisy adventures that she hasn't already got, but I did buy her a book called 'Quack', which is possibly the most surreal thing I've ever read. I'd tell you about it, but frankly it warrants a blog post of its very own. Possibly with a video of Lisa reading it aloud.

But anyway, it may be Father's Day, but there are mothers out there who need help too. So rather than putting my feet up in front of the World Cup with a pair of Dad slippers and a cup of tea, I'm off to do a list of DIY jobs for Lisa's Mum. It's my best chance of getting more cake.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Three weeks ago today, I went to see my doctor about my prostate and was sent for an x-ray on my little finger.

Two weeks ago today I had the accompanying blood test.

And one week ago today I was supposed to phone up for the results of both.

Unfortunately I've been busy making sure my own patients get their results on time, and having done five all-day clinics in a row, it wasn't until 8:45am this morning that I finally had a chat with my doctor.

He said the x-rays show degenerative changes. I said "Eh?". He said "It looks like arthritis".

So it's official: I'm old and decrepit. And my guitar-playing days could be numbered.

But not as numbered as my white blood cells. Apparently the haematology revealed a slightly low white blood cell count, so while I'm waiting to be referred to a rheumatologist at the hospital, I have to book myself in for a second blood test to confirm whether I have some hideous disease, or if I'm just more red-blooded than the average bloke. To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention. I was busy thinking about the retinopathy grading test I was due to sit at work, and which he was making me late for.

But the good news is I passed! After a year spent eyeballing the sugar-daddies of Sussex, I'm now officially qualified to diagnose diabetic retinopathy in the eyes of the unfortunate. It was the only decent test result I had all day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's always good to start the day by being subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse. But today it didn't come from Lisa. I was actually sitting in my car outside my flat at 8am this morning, signalling right, and watching the traffic crawl past at 10mph as I waited for some kind soul to let me out. This is Brighton, so obviously it took a while. But having been there for a couple of minutes with my eyes glued to the wing mirror (not literally - that would be painful), I saw a driver leave a short gap ahead of him and flash his lights at me. I naturally pulled straight out, whilst mentally offering to have his children and give him my last Rolo.

I was just about to raise my hand to say thank you, when he suddenly started honking his horn at me. Which came as something of a surprise. But not as much as when he stuck his head out of the car window and started hurling obscenities at me. As we continued along Eastern Road, me feeling confused, him gesticulating at me with a potty mouth like an X-rated Duke of Hazzard, I looked at his car in my rear view mirror and realised what had happened. He hadn't flashed me. He'd just chosen that exact moment to turn on his headlights.

Naturally I wanted to stop and explain the situation, but when you're in a low-speed chase with a man who looks like he could happily kill you, it's probably not a good idea to stop. And to think that thirty seconds earlier I would have had his children. That was the shortest romance in history.

Anyhoo, the good news is that I made it to Crowborough (again) without being murdered. And what's more, I've cleaned the lens of my camera. So here's another everyday scene from the High Street...

I think that's possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever seen. I thought it was an art installation from the Turner Prize for Paedophiles, but apparently they're just doing a shop-fitting for a new children's boutique. I still don't like where that boy's putting his hand though.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

At least someone's sleeping well at the moment...

Sleeping Beauty
She's so much less trouble when she's in bed. If only I could say the same for Lisa. We'd barely got under the duvet last night when she was physically sick. Possibly at the sight of me naked. I had to run to the bathroom for a bucket before I was swept away on a wave of vomit. It was all very sudden, so it could be anxiety, or possibly pregnancy, but knowing our luck, it'll be a summer bout of winter vomiting virus.

After a disturbed night, I was in Crowborough today, visiting my fourth hospital in three days. So if you're wondering where the NHS budget's going, it's on my travel expenses. The good news is that my routine is helping to educate Amelie. Every time she hears the word 'hospital', she now says "Daddy!". It's a nightmare if we're trying to watch Holby City.

Anyway, Crowborough is my kind of place. All the men turn up in suits, the women arrive in pearls, and I parked next to brand new Jag in the car park. As a naturally classy person, I fit right in. I could describe the place in detail, but a picture paints a thousand words, so here's a photo I took on my walk into the town centre at lunchtime...

Grassed Up
It's the only town I know with a ride-on lawnmower shop.

And I apologise for the dreadful state of my camera lens. I don't know who's responsible, but frankly it's got Amelie's fingerprints all over it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

As luck (and the rota) would have it, I was doing a clinic in Lewes yesterday, and halfway through the morning I opened up a patient's records on my computer to check who his GP was, and was faced with an oh-so-familiar name. I had to physically restrain myself from shouting "Oooh! I've got your doctor's sofa!". It's a small world.

Unfortunately it's not a small sofa. And life isn't always suite. I was at Horsham Hospital this afternoon when I received a distress signal from Brighton. I wasn't back from West Sussex until late, but I went straight up to the new flat after work to assess the situation. On the plus side, we can get both the sofas and the armchair into the flat. On the downside, we can't get them into any of the rooms.

So either we spend the rest of our lives watching TV in the hall, or I borrow my Dad's power tools and start sawing. Honestly, I could weep.

But let's face it, things could be worse...

That's why Lisa doesn't want Amelie picking up Chloe.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I got into a few scrapes over the weekend. In fact I was completely floored. At one point I was lying face down on the ground, covered in dirt, wondering what I'd got myself into.

Suffice it to say, it's not easy removing underlay from the floorboards. I've spent most of the weekend on my hands and knees with a metal scraper, trying to get up a carpet that was probably laid when Jesus was a boy. Or when Lisa was a girl. Either way, I've had an Axminster to grind all weekend, and I'm knackered.

Having bought the sofas on Saturday, I spent the rest of the morning clearing a bedroom at the new flat in which to store them while we have the living room redecorated. I then decided I should get the carpets up before the painters move in. That took most of Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday morning. I've never inhaled so much dust. If underlay is made of asbestos, I'm a dead man.

The result is that the hallway and living room are now carpet-free and thoroughly scraped (if a little dusty), leaving the way clear for the sofas to be delivered on Tuesday and the painters to start work on Wednesday. I've decided to employ the same firm that decorated Lisa's Mum's new flat. They seemed to do a good job, and they bring their own sandwiches. I'm not on first name terms with them yet though. They insist that I call them Mum & Dad.

Lisa's currently browsing the Dulux website (which is a miracle as it means she's not on Facebook), and is doing her best to choose the kind of colour scheme that would make Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen proud. We're tempted to do Amelie's bedroom in Raspberry Diva, but Lisa's concerned that if we have another child, it might be a boy, and if he's forced to share a pink bedroom, he could be scarred for life. That's if living with Amelie isn't enough to tip him over the edge.

Having scraped a living on Sunday morning, I then headed up to Lisa's Mum's in the afternoon to sort out a few teething problems with her flat. It basically involved pressing a button on her freezer and re-tuning her TV, but I felt fully justified in accepting a treacle tart as payment. She's only been in the sheltered housing unit since Thursday, but already it's looking like a hotbed of romantic love. She'd barely stepped out of her front door on Saturday before she was propositioned by an ageing Casanova who took her hand in the on-site shop, and invited her up to his flat. That was followed by an offer from a female resident to discuss excursions with the menfolk. Her initial reaction has been to run a mile from every proposal and avoid people like the plague, so if things carry on like this, it'll go one of two ways: she'll either be married or housebound.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

With Lisa's Mum now removed from the equation, and busy settling into her new home by trying to work out how to use the Freeview digibox I bought for her, it means we can begin the second phase of Operation Move It: getting me, Lisa and Amelie into her old flat. You didn't think I helped her move house for nothing, did you?

So first thing this morning, I was straight over to Hove Town Hall for some visitor parking permits. If I'm going to persuade my parents to do all the decorating for us, I at least need to provide them with free parking. It'll distract them from the amount they're spending on petrol.

So that's what I went for. What I came back with was this:

Sofa So Good
That's a photo of a sofa. The real thing's arriving on Tuesday. And it's bringing a couple of friends...

Suite as a Nut
Yes, I know the mother-in-law's key fob has barely had time to go cold, but I've bought us a 3-piece suite.

It's the MultiYork Glemsford, and it costs £2,495. Unless you buy it from a charity shop, in which case you can pick it up for £250 including delivery. I went for the latter option.

I wasn't actually planning to look at furniture, but I'd just bought us some bedside lamps from the YMCA shop in Hove, when I noticed that they've opened a new Martlet's Hospice shop across the road. It's been well documented on this blog that about half my worldly possessions came from the Martlet's Hospice Furniture Warehouse on the other side of town. I bought Lisa's dressing table there, along with two chests of drawers, a table, and of course my lovely old sofa (although not the saw I used to cut its legs off). So to come across a new branch just as I'm about to move house, seemed like a fateful discovery.

And so it proved. I may not know much (feel free to argue), but I know quality when I see it. So having shamelessly climbed into the window and sat on all three pieces of furniture whilst waving to passers-by, I made myself comfortable and called Lisa on my mobile. She listened to my enthusiasm and told me to go for it. Which was an easy decision, as it's not her money.

So I went to the desk to enquire about it, and was told that it came with a complete set of spare covers, plus a wooden MultiYork paddle thing which you apparently use to shoehorn them over the cushions. To be honest, the only tool I usually get with my furniture is a screwdriver to put it together, but I nodded as though I understood.

The suite is arriving on Tuesday, but I decided to take the spare covers with me today. Three boxes of them. Only two of which would fit in the boot of my car. Frankly they take up more room than my old sofa. But I was glad I took them, because when I got home, I discovered that the boxes feature the name and address of the previous owner, from when MultiYork first delivered them new.

And guess what..? My 3-piece suite belonged to a doctor in Lewes. I'll be checking down the back of the sofa for pills.

Friday, June 11, 2010

So anyway, suffice it to say, I had a moving experience yesterday. In fact it almost moved me to tears. I certainly felt like crying at one point. And not just when I got hit in the face with a wardrobe. But by the end of the day, Lisa's Mum was successfully settled into her new flat. When I say 'settled', I obviously mean 'surrounded by boxes and unable to get within three feet of her bed', but I didn't hear her complain. Mainly because I was half a mile away within five minutes of unloading the last box.

The highlight of the day for me, was getting to know Lisa's cousin. I met him briefly at their aunt's funeral in April last year, but a ten-second chat outside a crematorium really doesn't do the man justice. By 2pm yesterday afternoon I had enough material for a book, a play and a TV mini-series. To say the man's a character would be an understatement. I'd add that he's the kind of bloke you can't fail to like, but judging by some of the stories he told me, that doesn't appear to be true. I certainly warmed to him though. He's like Del-Boy Trotter crossed with Arthur Daly. Only slightly more dodgy.

It all made for a very interesting day, and by mid-afternoon the two of us were firm friends. He even gave me his views on women as we drove over to the new flat. And may I say, I learnt a thing or two. Although I couldn't repeat it in public.

Anyway, the man's biggest contribution was that he hired a van for us (I say hired - it could have been stolen), leaving me and my Dad free to do all the heavy lifting while he chatted to Lisa over a can of Coke. I was a bit concerned about asking my Dad to help move stuff into a sheltered unit for the elderly, in case they thought he was a resident and refused to let him leave, but fortunately we got away with it.

So we spent the morning up-lifting, down-sizing, and trying to get large items of furniture into a van without breaking anything expensive. It was a timeless experience. Mainly because my watch broke when I got it trapped between a door jamb and a sofa. With all the clocks packed, I was forced to tell the time from the position of the sun. Which isn't easy on a cloudy day. It's no wonder I didn't have lunch until three.

Lisa's cousin departed about one-thirty, but to be honest, we'd pretty much finished by then. Admittedly, the entire contents of Lisa's Mum's flat was still sitting on the pavement in the rain, and we were blocking the fire exit with an upturned sofa, but he obviously had somewhere to go. In a hurry. I expect he needed to get the van back before the owners missed it.

Fortunately, my Dad and I are expert removal men. Well, we look like Laurel & Hardy. So by 3pm we had all the furniture up to the fifth floor, and were heading back across town to fill our cars with boxes. Well, my Dad was filling his car; I was filling my stomach. I'd only just realised I'd missed lunch.

Anyhoo, the good thing about sheltered housing units is that they have plenty of panic buttons. I should know - I've pressed most of them. My favourite was the one situated on the wall of the lift, about six inches off the floor, in case you find yourself lying there in a pool of blood, wanting to chat to someone. Needless to say, I didn't. But I did keep knocking it with cardboard boxes. By the end of the afternoon I'd formed a close bond with the bloke who comes over the tannoy asking if you need an ambulance. He'd never had such a busy day.

But all of that aside, I think the day was a success. By which I mean I only broke one chest of drawers and a watch. Having finished all the removals, I can look back and say that I had a good day with Lisa's relatives. Or to put it another way, I enjoyed meeting Lisa's first cousin, once removed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The good thing about spending ten hours heaving the mother-in-law's furniture halfway across Brighton, is that it gives you the chance to meet diabetics. I'd only known Lisa's cousin for about half an hour this morning, when he looked at me from the other side of a heavy wardrobe and asked what I do for a living. He'd obviously worked out from the way I was holding the thing that I don't do removals. So I told him I'm a retinal screener. At which point he informed me that he has diabetes. I naturally asked him when he last went for retinopathy screening, and he replied that he's never turned up for an appointment.

I was going to point out the foolishness of his actions, but by the time I'd put down the wardrobe and gathered my thoughts, he'd gone to ask Lisa's Mum for a Kit-Kat.

I'll be adding that to his patient records in the morning.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

After some initial success yesterday, Amelie's no longer having much luck picking up Chloe (I'm the same with women), but here she is trying to dislocate her hips at 8am this morning...

I don't know why she keeps mentioning my name. I had nothing to do with it. Admittedly, I wouldn't mind getting some footage of Amelie doing the clean & jerk, and holding Chloe above her head like a barbell (they pay good money for that on You've Been Framed), but that doesn't mean I was encouraging her. I just happened to unlock the kitchen gate. And make lifting motions with my hands. Whilst pointing at Chloe.

I think Amelie was essentially saying "Come on Daddy, if we work together, we can have her dressed up as Igglepiggle and strapped onto a clockwork Ninky-Nonk quicker than she can say RSPCA!". But obviously there was no way I could do that. We don't have a clockwork Ninky-Nonk.

Anyhoo, my Mum came over this morning and kindly took Chloe to the vet for me. I don't know what happened, but when I got home from work at lunchtime, I found a bill for £25 on the table. So I think he gave her some pills for her nerves.

Shortly afterwards, I received this photo in my work e-mail...

Amelie Does Springwatch
That's Amelie demonstrating the famous Gardner ability to pick up birds. She's letting them slip straight through her fingers.

As it happens, Amelie is now over at my parents' house. Which is worrying, as they have foxes in the garden. She'll be lucky to survive till the weekend. But it's a risk we have to take, because tomorrow we're helping Lisa's Mum to move house, and frankly Amelie's lifting skills are rubbish. If she can't get Chloe more than two inches off the ground, she's never going to be able to take the other end of a sideboard.

So we've shipped her out for a couple of days, I've taken tomorrow off work, Lisa's cousin has hired a van, and it's all systems go. For about 10am. I refuse to get up early for anyone.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The big breaking news from around here is that Amelie has just learnt how to pick up Chloe. Usually when the latter least expects it. I haven't managed to capture the event on film yet, but give it a week or so, and she'll have Chloe strapped into a buggy with a hat on.

Anyhoo, I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but having seen fifteen patients this morning, and then spent the afternoon at the hospital library, I feel decidedly ill this evening. Well, I've got a headache anyway. And I'm surprisingly tired. I expect I've caught some kind of hospital superbug or major tropical disease. But I'm sure I'll be fine in the morning.

So while I crawl into bed with a couple of paracetamol and a traumatised cat, here's a picture of a chicken...

I told Lisa I'd write a note to remind her to give her Mum the packet of chicken breasts we've been keeping in the fridge for her since Friday. But I decided that a picture speaks a thousand words. It's just a shame we didn't buy her any sausages. I'm much better at drawing pigs.

Monday, June 07, 2010

As it turned out, Lisa got up yesterday morning and had Amelie's dress off her in about three seconds flat. So I think I'd obviously loosened it. It probably slipped off more easily with a cup of water down the front too. Suffice it to say, she had a lot to thank me for.

So with Amelie successfully freed from her bonds, I took her down to the marina in her sparkly shoes. And a different dress. I wanted to buy her a new painting book, because in addition to being water-logged, her old one is now completed. She's knocking out art for art's sake, quicker than you can say Monet, Monet, Monet.

Tragically, I failed to find anything suitable, so I bought this instead...

Meerkat ManorIt's Meerkat Manor! Simples! I got the DVD box set of the first series for just £4.99. And then decided to get the second series too for only twice the price. That's ten hours of meerkat magic for under a tenner. It should keep Amelie quiet for... oooh, about a day. And if you compare the 'Meerkat Manor' with 'In the Night Garden', which I'm forced to watch against my will for hour after endless hour, every day of my godforsaken life, there's no competition. Makka Pakka's all very well, but all he does is wash stones and dance a bit. Meerkats are far more entertaining.

As the box set cover says:

"Follow the daily saga of the Whiskers, a 12-inch tall family that's a lot like yours."

It then gives examples:

That sums up me and Lisa pretty well. Although she always preferred wine to snakebite.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Mmm... Key Lime Pies...

Brimming with the taste of the Florida Keys. And not just because I made them in fish dishes. They actually taste even nicer than they look. And I should know - I've eaten most of them.

My culinary prowess might be well-documented, but sadly my childcare skills leave a lot to be desired. When Lisa returned home at 11pm last night, I told her of the difficulty I'd had getting Amelie undressed, and described the wrestling match which had taken place on the floor. She laughed and said "I'm surprised you didn't just put her to bed in her dress!". I told her to read my blog and look in the bedroom.

She did. And found that I'd also forgotten to put the side of the cot up.

But as luck would have it, Amelie hadn't escaped. Or if she had, she'd come back by 11pm. So while Lisa slept off her Tizer hangover this morning, I got our daughter up to do some painting in her permanently-attached dress. I felt that if she got paint all over it, I'd feel less guilty about cutting it off.

We join the action just as Amelie (with the plunging neckline) drops Makka Pakka into her paintbrush water...

So she's drowned Makka Pakka, drunk her paintbrush water, flooded the table and kissed a dog, all whilst wearing a dress that I can't get her out of. It's no wonder she's learnt to say "Oh dear".

Saturday, June 05, 2010

As it turned out, Amelie didn't manage to flog her Nanny's glassware to Fiona Bruce. We discovered that most of it came from Asda, and Lisa decided it wasn't worth queuing around the block to get a valuation on a Smart Price tumbler. So if you want to see us all on TV, you'll just have to wait for a documentary about poverty.

Lisa's gone out with her soft drinking buddies tonight, so I've been left holding the baby. She's heavy though, so I put her down early. Fully clothed. Because I couldn't get her dress off. I'm not saying I don't know my way around women's clothing, but despite unbuttoning her outfit all the way down the front, I still couldn't get her arms out, never mind pull it over her head. We spent a good ten minutes rolling around on the floor together, her laughing hysterically, me on the verge of picking up a pair of scissors. In the end I gave up, stuffed her into a gro-bag and chucked her in the cot. Lisa can sort her out in the morning.

As we speak, Lisa's at a restaurant called Harry's with a group of people from AA. So I'm watching the final of Britain's Got Talent, and making her a Key Lime Pie. Mainly because I feel guilty about eating most of her chocolate without asking. The last time she went to Harry's was on November 6th last year, and coincidentally I spent that evening cooking too. I'm even using the same dishes. Which is worrying, as the last recipe was for fish.

Anyhoo, it takes longer to cool a baked biscuit crumb base than you might think, which is why I'm sitting at the computer instead of squeezing my limes. I need to make the most of it though, because I fully intend to go the next AA event myself...

Club Tropicana, Drinks Are Alcohol-Free
Obviously you have to question the ethics of an Alcoholics Anonymous poster which immediately names three people who are going to be there, but that aside, you've got to hand it to Brighton AA. Not only have they managed to organise some alcohol-free clubbing on a Friday night in Brighton, but they've somehow booked a DJ with four top-twenty hits under his belt. And what's more, that poster's been signed. Amelie's drawn all over it in blue biro.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

There are definite advantages to having a family. I was working in Crowborough all day yesterday, where I'd had a manic morning trying (and failing) to keep up with a dozen patients while a nice man from I.T. ran his hand over my laptop and tried to boot-up my hard drive. It was distracting to say the least. I barely got a lunch break, so by the middle of the afternoon I was tired, ratty, and ready to run amok with a plastic pinhole occluder.

At which point my mobile phone bleeped, and this photo arrived...

Obviously the sight of Lisa and Amelie relaxing on a sofa with a playful kitten, while I was wrestling with my 25th patient of the day (not literally), could have tipped me over the edge. But instead it made me smile for the first time all day. It's good to have something cuddly to go home to. And I've got two.

As it happens, the kitten isn't ours. It's just been rescued from the gutter by Lisa's sister. She's called it Tiger, because she found it in the woods. I expect. It might not be the most original name, but their other cat's called Pie, which more than makes up for it. Amelie's already tried to take a bite out of him. She wanted to throw him out of an upstairs window too, but her hopes were just Pie in the sky.

Anyhoo, I made it to the end of my clinic, and stopped at a farm on the way home for some prize-winning sausages. Not only were they home-made by the farmer's son, but they were so fresh, I could hear oinking coming from behind the counter. On the downside, the taste was disappointing. As Lisa put it when she tried one, "They're a bit too meaty". I think we both prefer rusk and eyelids. I should have stopped at Lidl instead.

As for today, I had to do a Basic Resuscitation course at the hospital this morning. I've been with Lisa for six years now, so obviously the thought of giving mouth-to-mouth to a dummy holds no fear for me....

... because we went on a baby life-saving course two years ago. No really, that's what I meant. Click here to see my certificate.

Anyhoo, today's course was pretty much the same, but with fewer pregnant women. As far as I know. It actually ended up being the most entertaining training course I've ever been on. Which isn't saying much, it's true. But the guy who took it was how every course leader should be (but never is) - witty, funny, knowledgeable, and able to share that knowledge in a highly amusing way. As he said within five minutes of our arrival:

"CPR is like sex. Everyone thinks they're good at it, until they have to do it in front of their colleagues."

I'd proved that by the end of the morning. Well, I'd done it in the recovery position. It amounts to the same thing.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

It was a year ago yesterday that I started my new job as an all-seeing eye screener. Since then I've driven more than 4,000 miles across Sussex (I had no idea the place was so big), healing the sick and making blind men see. Usually by asking them to put on their glasses. Obviously a momentous anniversary such as this requires the purchase of a cake, and sure enough I bought one at the weekend and took it into work with me yesterday. Unfortunately I forgot it was my anniversary, and promptly gave it to someone else.

I actually celebrated the end of my first year in the job by sitting a City & Guilds exam on the anatomy of the eye. The cake was for my invigilator. So needless to say I passed. As it turned out though, I didn't need to bribe him to turn a blind eye to any cheating. I was actually the perfect pupil. And if you think those puns are bad, trust me, I know cornea jokes than that.

Anyhoo, my cake purchase may have been a little short-sighted, but fortunately I've had a vision. I've seen a way of making a guaranteed fortune by the end of the week. Lisa's Mum has been busy packing up her treasured possessions, ready to move house in a few days' time, so I kindly suggested that we drive up to her flat last night and take a few boxes off her hands. I thought we could take them over to her new place in my car, to save some space in the removal van.

At least that's what I told her. My real motivation was this...

The old ones are the best.
That banner has gone up directly opposite my flat. I've spent the past week having to look at Fiona Bruce's giant nose every time I walk out of the front door. I don't know if it's just a crease in the tarpaulin, but she looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, the oldest thing Lisa and I own is made out of white formica, and all our crockery's microwave-safe, but Lisa's Mum has got a few choice items from the last century. Which technically makes them more than ten years old. Sadly I have to work tomorrow, but Fiona and the team are setting up shop less than a hundred yards down the road, so I'm sending Amelie along there with some antique glassware. She'll either make the Antiques Roadshow or You've Been Framed. Either way, we're quids in.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It's taken me a fortnight to get around to it, but I've finally edited together a bit of badger footage and produced a black & white movie. I've essentially fused 'Patio Badger' with 'Fantastic Mr Fox' and come up with 'In the Night Garden'. Or possibly 'In the Night Gardner'. The result is unique amongst feature films, in that it's much better than it looked in the trailer. Which, admittedly, wasn't a hard thing to achieve.

Anyway, it's almost seven minutes long, so I've added some gratuitous sound effects to stop people falling asleep. The crunching, however, is 100% real. Unfortunately there was a bit of a technical glitch at the mixing desk, so the beetle who arrives after three minutes has his footsteps cruelly cut off halfway through. I didn't realise there was a problem until I'd uploaded it to YouTube, and frankly I couldn't be bothered to re-do it at that point. Spielberg was the same with E.T..

So here it is. I like to think of it as David Attenborough meets Richard Attenborough in Band of Brothers. I mean Badgers. Whatever...

Personally I think he only moved the camera after five and a half minutes to give us a better view of the fox. I can't stand actors who think they're directors.

But on the subject of decent views, it's come to my attention that the new blog layout you're currently looking at, may not appear quite as dandy to some people as others. Here's how the title at the top of this page appears to me, and to most people living in the 21st century...

True Colours
And here's the top of the sidebar on the right...

Archive FootageUnfortunately, having consulted with certain individuals living in bygone times (Hello Mum), I've discovered that a lot of internet users don't have those fonts installed on their computers. To them, the renaissance of this blog is just something that happened to other people. Anyone with Word 2007 or Windows Vista will be seeing things as they really are (I think), but for a lot of other people it'll be like trying to get High Definition on a black & white portable.

Obviously I could revert back to generic, widely-used fonts for the sake of my visitors, but let's face it, this place looks great from where I'm sitting, and since when has this blog been about anyone else but me? Well ok, it's more about Amelie these days, but it looks fine to her too. And she only really watches the videos.

So if the fonts at the top appear badly positioned and dull, look at these screenshots and use your imagination. And then go out and buy a new computer.