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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Her bedroom carpet's gone down today and Amelie's moving in...

On the move.
I've got three days off work, two hundred boxes to fill, and one birthday cake to eat. By this time on Monday we'll still be living in chaos, but hopefully with a different view.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

They do say that you can't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Well, the good news is that I'm now fully qualified to dish out justice in the high courts of Kenya, because I've just bought a pair of MBT trainers...

Well Heeled
They're posture-improving, buttock-toning anti-shoes from Masai Barefoot Technology, and they retail for about two hundred quid. Although I bought mine for £19.99 from a charity shop. And what's more, the Barefoots have barely been worn. So the previous owner obviously thought they were rubbish.

I didn't let that put me off though. After all, the chances of a well-heeled chap simply choosing to give away his £200 shoes within a week of buying them, seems slim. I prefer to think that they were donated to charity by his widow after he fell under a bus the first time he tried to walk in them.

Either way, the discovery of a pristine pair of MBTs in my size for under twenty quid was too good an opportunity to miss, so I put my best foot forward and snapped them up immediately. And the best thing is that it was all for charity. It's like I'm doing a sponsored walk every time I wear them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I must admit, I rarely publish photos of my parents here. And if you knew what they looked like, you'd understand why. But just occasionally I come across a pictorial likeness so uncanny that it simply has to be shared. So for the benefit of anyone who's ever stared at my face and tried to form a mental image of what might have created me, here are my Mum and Dad...

My MummyMy Daddy
You can see the family resemblance. That's my Mum on the left, obviously. My Dad's the darker character on the right. Which, if you've ever heard his views on the last Labour government, will come as no surprise whatsoever.

Anyhoo, those pictures were drawn yesterday by Amelie. Possibly after sniffing the calamine lotion. She was sitting on my knee when she suddenly announced that she wanted to "draw a picture of Da". I should explain that she always calls my parents 'Ma & Da', presumably because she doesn't think the 'Grand' bit is appropriate.

I handed her a piece of paper, and she immediately drew the portrait on the right. At which point she said "Draw picture of Ma!", and produced the one on the left. At the time I thought they were just random scribblings, but half an hour later, by which time I'd scanned them for posterity, Amelie came up to the computer where I was cropping the drawing on the right. She immediately pointed at it and cried "Da!!". Clearly those features are unmistakable.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 4 in the plague house, and that face isn't getting any easier to love...

Even her clothes are coming out in spots. The choice of that top was what you might call a rash decision. We thought it might distract the eye from her skin. In reality she just looks like she's naked.

Anyhoo, the sores, like her parents, are weeping most of the time, but Amelie's still remarkably cheerful. Unless, of course, you take her to a curtain shop. With Lisa continuing to feel rough, I decided to risk taking Amelie's disease into the community this morning, by walking her into town to buy some bedroom curtains. Obviously I didn't want to draw attention to her hideous face, so when she refused to wear a bag over her head, I decided instead to take the backstreets to Western Road, in the hope that no one would notice her.

It worked. Right up until the moment she threw a major tantrum in Linens Direct because I wouldn't let her run down the aisle wearing a curtain sample. She ended up screaming at the top of her voice in the middle of the shop, while the store manager stood three feet away, shaking her head and tutting. For a professional blind woman, she did an awful lot of staring. As did the other customers. Frankly it's a miracle no one called social services. Or offered us some Clearasil.

But amongst the tears and anguish (and that's just me), there has been the occasional touching moment. And I don't just mean when she scratches her sores. Amelie caught sight of herself in the bedroom mirror this morning, and having taken in her appearance, she immediately said "Face dirty!" and tried to wipe off her spots. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I'd have wept buckets, but Lisa was throwing up into it at the time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blog post 2001: A Face Oddity...

Mmm... chickenpox.
I felt a bit better this morning until I saw Amelie's poxy little face. Three months later and she'd have the perfect look for Halloween.

Friday, July 23, 2010

After seven years of nonsense, I've finally stumbled my way to my 2,000th blog post. The "quite staggering inanity" (Western Mail, 30/10/06) of Mulled Whines now runs to more than 700,000 words. You wouldn't believe how long that takes to open in Microsoft Word. I thought my computer had crashed. Anyhoo, I've essentially written seven novels, but without being paid. Which is the only thing that separates me from JK Rowling.

Obviously I'd love to have something earth-shattering to write about on such a momentous occasion, but as luck would have it, both Lisa and I have gone down with a mystery illness today. In fact, I'm typing this to the sound of Lisa throwing up in a bucket. If I didn't feel so rough myself, I'd be filming it and posting it on YouTube.

As it happens, we were both fine first thing this morning, but as Lisa began to bring up her breakfast to the Jeremy Kyle theme tune, I was seeing my first patient on the other side of town, and starting to feel ill myself. By mid-morning I had a splitting headache, and by lunchtime I was too nauseous to eat. I know, I couldn't believe it either. Frankly the only thing that got me through the day was the fact that the clinic where I was working has its own pharmacy. I've spent most of today's wages on industrial strength painkillers and anti-queasiness pills.

Needless to say, neither of us are in a fit state to look after Amelie, so if things don't improve soon, she'll be applying her own calamine lotion. Of course, it's possible she's given us both shingles, but as this blog hits the two thousand mark, there's probably a more likely explanation...

2,000th Blog Post
I think it's the millennium bug.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Yes, don't let the happy-go-lucky smile and laissez-faire hair fool you - Amelie's got chickenpox. And she seems remarkably cheerful about it. Although I slightly regret telling her that she's a poxy little child...

I think she's too big for that buggy.I think she took it the wrong way.

Anyhoo, from the moment we woke up this morning, Lisa and I have been seeing spots before our eyes. She had one on her hip, a few on her chest, and what looked like a love-bite on her neck. Frankly she looked like a teenager with no money for Clearasil.

By the time I got home from work today, the rash had spread over her shoulders and started appearing on her back. The spot under her left ear is particularly nasty. And if you look closely at the photo above, you might just see the one above her lip. That'll teach her to kiss her cousin.

But the good news is that Amelie's first major childhood disease seems to be agreeing with her. She couldn't stop laughing when I got home this evening. So she's either very happy and feeling fine, or delirious and about to slip into a coma. But the good news, according to Wikipedia, is that "chickenpox is rarely fatal". Which is enough to reassure anyone.

On the subject of the ill and insane, one of my patients today was concerned about my working conditions, and asked me if I have to spend all day doing eye tests and taking photos in a dimly lit room. When I replied that I do, she sympathised, and said "Do you feel like a pit pony?". I said "No thanks, I've only just had lunch".

I do like to run my clinics like sitcoms if at all possible.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

King Kong, eat your heart out...

Queen Kong
I think I need to scramble some bi-planes before she gets her hands on my sellotape.

Anyhoo, with Amelie climbing the furniture and Lisa climbing the walls, I've spent the day at Horsham Hospital. I considered filming my journey there, but in the end I couldn't be bothered to get up five minutes earlier just to clean my car windscreen. I wished I had though, because driving through Cowfold this morning, I found myself stuck behind a camper van which had a canoe on the roof, and two stickers in the rear window which read 'I've been to Ullapool' and 'I ♥ SEX'. Which is handy as there can't be much else to do in Ullapool.

Between the two was a picture of the Loch Ness Monster. Which brought to mind one of my favourite jokes: "What comes between fear and sex?". The answer, of course, is "Fünf". Although I'm not sure that really works in writing.

Frankly I'd be better off leaving it to my patients. A chap this afternoon was telling me about the house he's lived in for thirty-two years. He said it's perfect in nearly every way, and the only problem he has is that he's regularly woken up in the morning by birds. He then paused for a moment, before adding "Sadly of the feathered variety".

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Amelie out on another Gardner Family Fun Day!

It's basically the same as the last one, but this time she's armed.

Anyhoo, our day out in Burgess Hill yesterday was actually very nice. Which is probably the first time those words have ever been written. Admittedly, the amount of time we actually spent together as a family was limited to about fifteen minutes, but that's what happens when you sit down at an AA convention, the first speaker takes to the stage, he begins to share his experience, strength and hope, and Amelie promptly announces to the entire hall that she "Don't like it". Repeatedly, and in a loud voice.

Mind you, it could have been worse. Lisa handed her a cuddly duck to keep her quiet, not realising that she'd chosen the one that quacks loudly for thirty seconds the moment you press its tummy. I almost had to jump on it like a hand grenade and throw it out of the window.

Unsurprisingly, Amelie and I left after about five minutes before we drove everyone to drink. There were three sessions to the convention, each lasting between an hour and ninety minutes, so we returned at the end of each one for coffee, lunch and quality time with Mummy, but other than that, Burgess Hill was our oyster.

And what an oyster it was. Admittedly you're more likely to find 9ct gold than pearls, but they do have a steam train in the high street...

Ninky Nonk
The shop on the left may only sell brown paper, but they've got one heck of a window display.

On top of that, Burgess Hill is the only town I know that caters for people who want their living rooms to look like the inside of a betting shop...

I bet they're good.
I expect their carpets are sticky and the chairs smell faintly of tobacco. If you click on that photo, you'll see the reflections of me and Amelie in the window. I'm the one with the bulging stomach (which is what happens when you deal with your stresses by eating a whole tub of Haagen Dazs on a Saturday night), and Amelie's the one swigging juice from a bottle. I had to buy her that from Wilkinsons after she threatened to blow up the Martlets Shopping Centre using the power of her voice alone.

Having explored the town centre during the morning, Amelie announced that she wanted "Chips!" and "Cola!" for lunch (I've no idea where she learns these words), so we decided to eschew the barbecue in favour of a trip to McDonalds. I've never seen a toddler so happy. She's only 21 months old, and she can already point to a menu and shout "Burger!". It was the only part of the day when she stopped saying "Don't like it".

With Lisa safely returned to the convention, Amelie and I set off in the car, in the hope that if I drove around for a bit, one of us might fall asleep. Fortunately the plan worked, and better still, it wasn't me. Whilst awake at the wheel, I noticed signs to the Bedelands Nature Reserve, so I decided to follow them, in the hope that we'd arrive at a tranquil beauty spot where Amelie could nap for an hour by a babbling brook (and I don't mean Kelly). As it transpired, we ended up at the ground of Burgess Hill Town FC. I don't know what they're doing playing football on a nature reserve, but they probably wipe out an endangered species every time they enter the penalty area.

Anyhoo, the 14th West Sussex AA Mini-Convention closed at 4pm. Much like the nearby Waitrose. So having popped in for some essentials, Amelie and I collected Lisa, and the three of us returned home relaxed, de-stressed, and with a new positive outlook on life.

A feeling which lasted right up until the moment we walked through the front door and found that shortly before leaving that morning, Amelie had shut the door to the cupboard where Chloe keeps her litter tray. Thereby forcing her to use the hallway as a toilet. A fact I discovered only after I'd trodden it all down the hall and into the living room. Nothing says 'Gardner Family Fun Day' like getting down on your hands and knees with a bucket of disinfectant, and scrubbing cat poo out of the carpet. Where's that Carpetright Slate when you need it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SlatedLisa and I went to Carpetright again yesterday, and after running our fingers through a pile of carpets, and studying an interior design colour wheel we printed off the internet (which I still don't fully understand), we eventually chose the one on the left for our bedroom. They call it 'Slate'. I call it Elephant Grey. We chose it partly because it's a nice neutral colour which should go well with our walls, but mainly because it has excellent stain-resistant qualities. So after Amelie's broken into the bedroom with a beaker of Ribena, we can easily wipe the slate clean.

Anyhoo, the carpet's slated to arrive in a week or so, but I'm hoping we can get it fitted sooner, so that we can put the bed back and I can have a lie down between jobs. I spent half of yesterday putting together one item of flat-pack furniture, and frankly I'm knackered. I don't think I'm suited to DIY. I prefer other people to do it for me.

We got quite a lot done yesterday (you can barely move in the Marie Curie shop for bags of my stuff), but despite the list of jobs decreasing, the stress levels started to rise. So in an impulsive act of possible foolishness, we've decided to throw caution to the wind and cancel all our plans for today. And that includes the shopping. I'll be living on cat biscuits and baby food by tomorrow.

So instead of slaving away at the coalface of stress, we're putting everything on hold for a day, and getting away from it all in Burgess Hill...

Lisa was attracted by the phrase 'Familes Welcome'. I preferred the words in pink.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well, as it turns out, I don't have leukaemia. My doctor phoned me for a telephone consultation this morning (which is about as modern as they can get without actually posting test results on Twitter) and it seems it was all just an elaborate ploy to worry me unnecessarily for three days.

Apparently, when I had the first blood test five weeks ago, my white blood cell count was 3.1. It's now 3.4. The normal range is between 4 and 11. So whilst it's still low, it's not as low as it was, and it's edging slowly towards normality. As my doctor said to me this morning "If it's ok with you, I don't think we'll worry about it at the moment". I considered the proposal, and agreed. She admitted that it could just be a side-effect of living with a dodgy prostate, and suggested I have another blood test in three months time to see how things are. So if someone could remind me in October, I'd be grateful.

In the meantime, I've finished fusing obscure American rock with arcane British electronica, and adding it to a dull, drizzly drive in Sussex. So here's the result...

I encountered some kind of alien abduction attempt in Freshfield Road, and the electromagnetic forcefield from the mother ship played havoc with my camcorder, so there's a bit of interference after 34 seconds. It's just a shame it didn't come at 6m 30s when I crossed the solid white lines in the centre of the road. I wouldn't have minded something obscuring that.

Anyhoo, the video's only been on YouTube for a few hours, but it's already attracted some avid viewers...

Cat's Eyes
If you're wondering, those are cat's eyes in the middle of the road.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One of my patients this morning told me that I have "a good voice for instruction". I was immediately tempted to do my Gary Coleman impression, but her surname wasn't Willis, so instead I thanked her for the compliment, and then asked her what the heck she meant. She replied that I have the kind of voice that makes it easy for others to follow directions. Which makes me wonder why Amelie won't do a single thing I say. She then added that my voice is "very clear and perfect for instruction". So I told her to shut up and let me take the photos.

But whilst pondering whether to apply for part-time voice-over work, or simply become a dominatrix, I headed into Crowborough town centre at lunchtime (I was working at the hospital there - I didn't make the trip specially), where I bought some buffalo burgers. No, really. And I thought they only ate filet mignon in Crowborough.

I cooked them when I got home, so for the benefit of anyone who's never tasted buffalo, I can exclusively reveal that they tasted like... well, like beefburgers really. But with the bitter aftertaste of having cost twice as much. I probably should have served them with mozzarella. And then washed my hands in a bison.

Anyhoo, fans of prog-rock will be pleased to know that I filmed another road movie today. It's a lot like the East Grinstead one, but with a twist ending. Namely that I end up in Crowborough. Unfortunately I'm still struggling to mix the audio track (it's not easy combining rock with electronica), so it'll have to wait till tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm too exhausted and busy to write a blog post tonight, so instead here's an old article from The Washington Post...

"It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15". That explains why we're half an hour late for everything.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

She's got a cat stool on the left, a sheep stool on the right, and she's choosing to sit in her toybox...

She's basically caught between two stools, and needs to start thinking outside the box.

But fortunately I have something to take my mind off the vast sums of money I've foolishly wasted on hand-crafted wooden toddler furniture, because I phoned up for the results of my latest blood test today. Back on June 18th, shortly before sitting a grading exam at work, I was told that in addition to chronic prostatitis, I now have digital arthritis and a low white blood cell count. Frankly, for someone who hasn't taken a day off sick in more than a year and a half, there's an awful lot wrong with me.

So I was told to have another blood test in a couple of weeks time, which I duly did last Tuesday. I'd have mentioned it at the time, but I had a sofa so good I just had to photograph it.

By pure coincidence, I was due to take another City & Guilds exam at work today, so I decided it would be the perfect time to phone up for my latest results. After all, I passed the last exam, so getting bad news obviously spurs me on to success.

Anyhoo, according to the receptionist I spoke to this afternoon, the official result of my blood test is "The doctor needs to speak to you". I'll find out more at 9:50am on Friday. So I hope I've got more than forty-eight hours to live.

Oh, and I passed the exam. I should have tried this with my A-levels.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Woo-hoo! After years of sailing close to the wind, my boat has finally come in...

The name's Bond.
Well, I say boat. To be honest it's more of a dinghy. I've just won £25 on the premium bonds. Which is an achievement, as when I bought them, the minimum prize was £50. It's what they call the law of diminishing returns.

I've had £1,000 invested for five years now, and I've won a total of £75. I'm not sure what rate of interest that equates to, but I think I'd do better on the lottery. I'm off to buy twenty-five scratchcards.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If there's one thing I've learnt about life, it's to expect the unexpected. One moment you're filming a nice video of your cat sleeping peacefully on a chair. The next, this happens...

I think I'm living in some kind of surreal fairytale world where Red Riding Hood has taken up plumbing, and my cat's the Big Bad Wolf.

Anyhoo, she might be driving me around the u-bend, but Amelie's not the only one plunging at the moment. Her neckline is too...

Fairytale Ponytail
It's hair up and dress down in the Gardner household today. Lisa's given Amelie a cute little ponytail. It makes it a lot easier to spot chickenpox on the back of her neck.

On that subject, if your poxy little family is infected with a highly contagious herpes virus, there are basically two courses of action open to you. Either you can lock yourself indoors and impose strict quarantine conditions until it passes, to avoid spreading the disease amongst the vulnerable. Or you can head straight out to a large social gathering and spend two hours in a confined space with dozens of people, in the hope of wiping out half of Brighton. Lisa and I opted for the latter.

Dear HeartOne of my work colleagues got married yesterday (having previously been married to her job), and as luck would have it, we were invited to the reception party in the evening. We responded by inviting Lisa's Mum around here to babysit, and she in turn invited a friend of hers over to keep her company on the sofa. And I thought it was only teenage babysitters who did that.

The invitation stated that the party was to take place "from 6pm", so I suggested we arrive at about quarter past, so as not to miss any free food on offer. Lisa responded by telling me that I know nothing about weddings, and that no one would get there before seven-thirty. It turned out she was wrong. And I'd have told her so, if I hadn't been so weak with hunger.

So while the rest of the medical photography department were snapping up shots of whisky and dissecting slabs of cake, Lisa and I were struggling to get Amelie to bed over the sound of two pensioners reminiscing about the good old days. We eventually rolled up to the venue about eight. By which time the sausage rolls had rolled off the tongues of the guests, and straight down their throats.

But it wasn't an entirely wasted journey. The party was held at the 'Latest Music Bar' - an oddly named venue, as most of the songs they played dated back to the 70s - and within five seconds of walking through the door and announcing myself as a party guest, I'd been handed a free glass of champagne.

Unfortunately I'd walked into the wrong party. The one we'd been invited to was downstairs. It's just a shame my colleague pointed out my mistake before I had a chance to help myself to their buffet.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

As it transpires, YouTube's definition of a video which is no more than ten minutes long, is anything up to 10 minutes and 59 seconds. Which is useful to know when you're trying to pare down a twelve minute film into something usable. In the end I had to cut out Woodingdean. Which is something I'd like to do in real life. Those crossroads are a nightmare.

Anyhoo, here's the finished version of yesterday's commute from East to West Sussex, crossing the leafier parts of the county, through Ashdown Forest and beyond. Frankly you can't see Woodingdean for the trees...

You can turn off the adverts for Emergency Glaziers and Sussex Coach Hire by clicking the little 'X' in the top right hand corner. Unless you've currently got a broken window in your minibus, in which case help yourself.

Anyhoo, while I was in East Grinstead yesterday, Amelie was spending the day with her three-year-old cousin, a boy she clearly fancies with a passion. Frankly she can't keep her lips off him. Which is perfectly legal under British law. It's when they start having children that we need to be careful.

But in the meantime, Amelie spent a few hours yesterday afternoon hugging her older man, giving him lovely kisses, and cuddling the boy against his will. All of which was charming and delightful, until we received a phone call in the evening from Lisa's sister to say he'd just gone down with chickenpox.

According to the NHS Choices website (which ironically I felt obliged to consult), "it takes 10-21 days for the symptoms to show after you have come into contact with the virus", so we don't yet know if the chickenpox has crossed the road and got to the other side of the family. But I'm taking no chances: I bought a bottle of calamine lotion at Asda last night.

Friday, July 09, 2010

I'd just like to point out that yesterday's blog post was brought to you by YouTube. You can blame them for the fact that it didn't appear.

I've been working in East Grinstead for most of this week, a schedule which involves lengthy, if leafy, commutes through the Sussex countryside. I was tempted to avoid them altogether by spending my travel expenses on a B&B for the night, but in the end I decided to inject some interest into the journey by sticking a camcorder on the dashboard and filming it. The journey, not the dashboard. I hoped to produce something along the lines of the BBC's 'London to Brighton in Four Minutes', but with the added chance of roadkill.

On the downside, it's not until you start filming from your car that you realise you're essentially just producing documentary evidence of all those electronic 30mph signs which light up when you break the speed limit. Never mind YouTube, I was expecting to see my video in a court of law. But that aside, I successfully produced a fifteen minute film yesterday which proved that even at four times the speed, the traffic at the Lewes Prison crossroads still doesn't move much.

A bit of editing later, and I set the footage to a rousing fourteen minute prog-rock song about England. No, really. I then went to upload it to YouTube. At which point I discovered that they don't accept videos more than ten minutes long. Which is discrimination against prog-rock if you ask me. So I turned to Blogger video. They do accept fourteen-minute films. But not if they're over 100MB in size. Mine was almost five hundred. I went to upload it to my main website, but that doesn't like files over 70MB. So I tried Tinypic. And that failed too. Possibly because it wasn't tiny. Or a pic.

So basically I ended up with a work of cinematic brilliance which I could only share with people if they were willing to come round to my flat and watch it in person. There was only one thing I could do:

Drive faster. And find a prog-rock song that's under ten minutes long.

The latter was obviously impossible, but I put my foot down this morning and filmed the journey again. I think I might have something usable, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow, because I need to go shopping tonight. And I'll publish the video of that trip on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I was in the hospital library this afternoon, where I found this question being posed in the library newsletter...

Pulp Fiction
I've seen a book on reflexology, so I know the answer to that, but here's the official response:

Novel Idea
You can also get 'Carry On Matron' on DVD and look up porn on the internet. I expect. But that aside, I love the fact that the hospital library provides NHS workers with health-related novels. It's like giving David Cameron the box-set of 'Yes, Prime Minister'. Not that I have time for novels. I'm still reading the biography of Harold Shipman.

Anyhoo, the good news is that I now have two places to curl up with a good book. The three-seater sofa was so good that my Dad repaired the two-seater too...

My Dad's the Chairperson
I like to think of them as chair and chair alike.

Don't Like ItOn the downside, I took Amelie up to the new flat last night, and she informed me that she "Don't like it". To be fair, she's currently not liking all sorts of things, from milk, chicken and toast, to vacuum cleaners, puffer fish and GMTV. She still says "Hello News" every time Alistair Stewart comes on, and "Bye Bye Wheels" when we turn off the fan, but pretty much everything else at the moment is "Don't like it". She's like a bad-tempered focus group.

So she left me in no doubt about her lack of love for the new sofas, the curtains and the cushions I spent forty quid on. I even made the mistake of showing her the colours we're considering for the bedroom...

Dulux Dogged
Needless to say, she don't like it. I can't wait until she shows me around her first flat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I knew my Dad could do it...

Daddy Bear
That's not him on the sofa. It's Amelie's dance instructor. I'd write more, but I'm watching The Sex Education Show on Channel 4, and I'm finding it hard to concentrate.

Monday, July 05, 2010

After spending half the weekend crawling about on the new carpet with a screwdriver, a duster and a bottle of furniture polish, I've successfully turned the table's three parts into a gaping whole...

Turning the Tables
Although much like myself, the living room door's still completely unhinged.

In addition, I've investigated the quality of our three piece suite. Which is easy to do, as it's currently sitting in bits in the bedroom. Fortunately my Dad's going to put it back together for me. He's the son of a carpenter, which means that when it comes to furniture, he has the same healing qualities as Jesus. So I'm putting my faith in him, and hoping he can resurrect a couple of sofas.

In the meantime, I've done my best to soften the impact of all that work, by sorting out the cushions myself. The suite's original condition was just peachy, but Lisa and I decided that we'd rather use the spare set of covers that came with it. They're more of a magnolia colour, so the choice was between peaches and cream. We plumped for fat over fruit.

So I spent most of Saturday afternoon removing the old cushion covers and fitting the spares. Which led me to a further discovery. It turns out that the back cushions are all 100% duck feather. Which is appropriate because, as previously stated, they used to belong to a quack.

Anyhoo, if there's one thing the photo above demonstrates (apart from the fact that Amelie hasn't moved in yet), it's that we don't have any living room curtains. So having browsed the various online options yesterday afternoon, Amelie and I decided to hit the ground running, and walk into town. We ended up at Linens Direct, where we wiped our rusk-covered fingers on a range of samples, and chose a set of aubergine curtains from their 'Uno' range. They're not made to measure, so I hope they fiat.

From there we went to British Home Stores to look at scatter cushions. I'd previously decided that I'd be willing to pay as much as £5 per cushion. Which was a problem, as they were all either £10 or £15. I spent a few moments wondering why anyone would spend as much as £15 on a single cushion, before examining them, and finding out. Within thirty seconds I'd fallen in love with a chenille damson that I'd happily have paid the world for.

But as luck would have it, I didn't need to. Despite being part of their £15 'Premium' range, it was in the BHS sale for a tenner. So I bought four. I don't know what came over me. I'd never normally spend forty quid on soft furnishings without Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen holding a gun to my head. So I blame Amelie. I think she's driving me slightly insane...

All I said was "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, take me to work".

Sunday, July 04, 2010

I've been up at the new flat most of the weekend, doing hard labour with soft furnishings. Frankly it's curtains for that living room. And a blind for the bathroom.

So I'm taking it easy for a couple of hours this evening, and letting Amelie entertain the masses.

Oh, and I apologise for fluffing my lines at the start...

For 'take your bow', read 'exit stage left'.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Uruguay are through to the World Cup semi-finals, which is clearly good news for anyone hoping to make money as a Diego Forlan lookalike...

Thank God Ghana didn't score that penalty. I'm not sure she'd have blacked up for the camera.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Having seen twenty-seven patients today (obviously no one around here wants to watch the World Cup), I spent this evening up at the new flat, polishing our new dining table, and taking doors off their hinges so that I can get it into the living room. I then popped into Lidl, met one of the twenty-seven patients I'd seen earlier in the day, tried to avoid a conversation about eye drops, and finally got home at 9:40pm. At which point I washed my car before it got dark. Well, before it got darker. It's surprising how much energy you can get from a family-size bar of chocolate, three pieces of fruit loaf and half a Key Lime Pie. Oh, and the slice of cream cake I ate at lunchtime helped too. I should be diabetic in no time.

But anyhoo, it was worth visiting the new flat just to witness the fallout from Tuesday's towering inferno. East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service have put this leaflet through our letterbox...

Marvellous. Those working smoke alarms gave the occupiers the earliest warning of fire, allowing them to safely escape.

Or as The Argus put it in this article, "When fire crews arrived they found the trapped man hanging out of his window gasping for air. The man passed out from the severe heat and smoke inhalation and was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital".

If that's an early warning and safe escape, thank God he didn't leave it till the last minute. His ashes would be escaping in a vacuum cleaner.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The saxophone solo ended up lasting for three hours last night. I've never known a British Summertime to go on for so long. By five-to-ten I was so brassed off, I felt like marching straight over there and giving the man a new kind of woodwind by attacking his solar plexus with a baseball bat.

But fortunately I didn't need to. On the dot of 10 o'clock, the sax addiction ended. So I expect he's a fan of Desperate Housewives. He's certainly created a few, if my own reaction was anything to go by. The only thing that stopped Lisa turning to drink was the fact that she was out all evening at AA.

But on the subject of people who ought to apologise, Amelie appears to be developing a guilty conscience. In the past few days she's suddenly learnt to say sorry for every misdemeanor, so she's now shouting "Sorry Daddy" every time she shuts my head in the fridge, and "Sorry Mummy" as she looks at the bowl of food all over the carpet. Yesterday she even apologised for having a dirty nappy.

As of Tuesday, she's been saying sorry to Chloe for running her over with her buggy, but the biggest development is that she's now started apologising to inanimate objects. We've got a big desk fan in the living room, which Amelie calls 'Wheels', presumably because much like the wheels on the bus, it goes round and round, all day long. Yesterday she knocked it over whilst climbing on the coffee table to reach a remote control - an action which certainly deserves some kind of apology. Unfortunately she didn't direct it towards me or Lisa. Instead she cried out "Sorry Wheels", then picked up the fan, gave it a hug, and said "Cuddles". Frankly that thing gets more love than I do.