Thursday, 22 June 2017

How my Mum would tell them it’s late. Again. #DadDirt



You know you are a Great British Dad when...
...you work out the work.


I’m on the street in Theobalds Road, Holborn, London.

ME
I know this building really well.
I remember the dark blue chunky lettering over the entrance.
“DERWENT PUBLICATIONS”.
Except I know it better from the other side.



It’s 1982. We're parked in our white Cortina, outside the empty car park, like we’re planning a bank job. I’m with my sister, on the back seat in early 80s kids clothes.

MUM
Don’t forget. What do you say if someone asks you why it’s so late?

ME
We know.

MUM
Just say “you don’t know but my Mum’s very sorry”.

ME
We know.

MUM
But what do you say if they ask where the rest of it is?

ME
We know. No-one ever asks us.

MUM
Just in case they ask, “Mum said the next batch will be here tomorrow. She doesn’t know what time. No, you don’t need to say that last bit. (TO MY SISTER) You go with Neil.

The two of us waddle the A4 box of envelopes and long index card filing boxes across the empty car park.

ME
We do this every week.
Around 6 o’clock, because Mum did this job to get some extra money.

CUT TO: Mum, in my bedroom, expertly dancing her hands across the keys of an IBM electric golfball typewriter.

ME
She called it Home Typing.
Back then, when companies wanted to send you stuff, someone would have to type up the envelopes.
We never found out what went in them.

A name and address dugga duggas onto the envelope.

ME
She’d get these boxes of index cards with names and addresses, and copy type them.
Paid by the box.
Box after box after box.

The perforated green cards are in batches of twenty, bound by elastic bands, 1000 in a box.
Dugga. Dugga. Click. Click. Dugga.
I’m there now in my pants.

ME
I’d have a go when the boxes were left out. I think the postcodes and counties stuck in my head.

Inside the deserted building, my little sister and I strain the 1930’s staircase door on the fourth floor, and put the box down on a bare counter in the empty hallway that acts as a reception for the floor.

ME
They’re from my Mum.

The uniformed security guard doesn’t look up from his paper.
My sister and I skip down the empty staircase, four steps at a time.

MUM
Did anyone ask why are they late?

We’re back on the back seat, staring out of the window.

ME
No.

MUM
Good boy.

ME
No-one was there.
No-one was ever there.


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I haven’t got aids after I don't know if I was stabbed with a needle by a homeless woman. #DadDirt


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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I haven’t got aids after I don't know if I was stabbed with a needle by a homeless woman. #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you think about your near escapes, even if they’re in your head.


2005. Dean Street, London. Or Wardour Street.
Four decades of growing up in the Capital and I still get the two mixed up.

HOMELESS WOMAN
Got any change?

She’s young. In her twenties. Hair tied back, hard face, teeth missing.
But she’s still made an effort.

ME
I’m really sorry.

HOMELESS WOMAN
Ah go on, give me a smile.

I break into a smile.
It’s 1130 at night, and I’ve had a few.

ME
I haven’t got any.
Living on cards.
Honestly, I’m really sorry.

ME
(now) That’s a lie. I’ve got a pocket full of change. But I’m scared. I grew up in this borough, and know if you stop walking, someone else is working with them, they’ll see where I keep my stuff, and why should I give money to the gobby ones when the quiet ones, the ones who really need the help are rotting in the park and I’ll give some money to a proper homeless charity who’ll hand it out fairly I promise when I get the chance. (I know I won't).

HOMELESS WOMAN
Ah, go on.

ME
I’m really sorry.

She blocks my path. I have to stop walking. Her hand is held out.

HOMELESS WOMAN
Well for such a lovely smile can I wish you a good night.

ME
Thank you.

I shake her hand.

ME
OW!

Something dug into the soft bit between my thumb and forefinger.

HOMELESS WOMAN
Oh sorry that must be my ring, it catches sometimes. N’nite.

She strides away, back down Dean Street or Wardour Street and my heart is racing.

ME
It was definitely a needle.

I’m in the flat saying this to my girlfriend.

GIRLFRIEND
Are you sure it’s not bleeding?

I’m in the bathroom, still drunk, trying to focus on the flap of skin between my thumb and forefinger.

ME
There’s a mark. There’s definitely a mark.

GIRLFRIEND
But no blood?

ME
No.

GIRLFRIEND
Maybe it was just her ring.

ME
It was a needle. It was definitely a needle tucked into the ring.

GIRLFRIEND
(outside) You haven’t got AIDS.

I’m left staring at the tiny mark.


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Of course we're angry. It's all our fault. #DadDirt


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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Of course we're angry. It's all our fault. #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
you're really fed up with all the politics.


I’m walking across the town square and my way is half-blocked by a man with a table and rosette.

MAN IN ROSETTE
Excuse me sir, are you going to vote on Thursday?

ME
Thank you. I love that you care enough to even ask.
Your passion's really great. To be out here doing this.

You’ve chosen a side, and you want to make a change.
And try and help it win.
That's brilliant.

But I’ve got this problem.
That it all feels like we’re just filling newspaper websites.
And passing them around to each other, to fill more newspaper websites.
When, everything else is... you know... 2017?

And we’ve already forgotten about all those really important battles and all that arguing the toss, from even 3 years ago.

Can you remember what we were arguing the toss about 3 years ago?
No, me neither.

But oh it was so important with those rentagobs and their soundbites.
And none of them, not one of them is around any more.

But no, this is really important now.
These rentagobs and These soundbites - they're the ones we’ve got to be obsessed about now?
Right.

Like it all comes from up above.
And we’ve got to listen to them.
And agree with them.
Or fight them.
Or “not let them get away with this one”.

Like any of them are going to be around in 2021.

And however urgent and important we try and tell ourselves it is this time - this is the one that counts - I know that my heart really isn't in it.
And it's great.
Because it's one big constant distraction.

And we’re angry.
We’re angry because it couldn’t be a bigger way of speaking to our failings.
To not be curious.

To look to some mythical hierarchy to look after us because we do not want to do the difficult work ourselves.

Because we're all too busy scrolling through our feeds, or watching TV, or doing another lap of Gran Tourismo 5 than actually doing hard work like looking after each other.

Look how self-righteous we get when something bad happens.

“Something needs to be done!”
Yeah!
By whom!
“Somebody else!”

It’s a crock.
It’s held up as really important and noble.
Damn right - it’s important, so we can bin off all the difficult stuff to someone else as a top down relationship.

To people obsessed with “winning” who do really horrible stuff to get to that position.

But they’re the ones we need to look to.
Because we then all get to moan when it’s not done right.

Who would want to do it right.
It’s hard.
That’s why we all hand it over to someone else for five years.

Even though we’re at this crossroads right now where everything has changed - in culture, products and relationships - the ones that matter - nothing else in our lives works like that any more.

I know that nothing will change because we want a system where I get to be distanced as far as possible from the difficult work of changing things for the better.

In a first past the post system that doesn’t even reflect our vote that we can’t be bothered to change.
Because that’s too hard.
But no, no, that one day is sacrosanct.

Choosing to cheer or boo between three or four storylined pro-wrestling characters.
I'm not so sure party politics is the same as Democracy.

We can’t even be bothered to devote more than a day to this deliberately defective process. As if we couldn’t stress any harder how Victorian it is, we 'suspend campaigning' to send someone to London in secret as an expression of shame. “At last. That’s over. I can moan for another 5 years now.”

So, as you can probably imagine, I’m having a tough time deciding whether I’m alright endorsing the system that always has been broken and always will be.

But man, what a beautiful distraction.
Neither of us getting a stroke of work done.
Let’s hope we can keep it going, eh?

MAN WITH ROSETTE
Do you want a leaflet?

ME
Sure.


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Any excuse to get my family to be creative #DadDirt


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Monday, 19 June 2017

Any excuse to get my family to be creative #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
... you try to get your family into getting out of your comfort zone.


I'm in the garden with my yellow pad and Long-Suffering Wife (LSW).

LSW
You know you've got pen down the back of your leg.

ME
It's for the blog. I chickened out of taking a picture in the High Street.

LSW
You've spelt you're wrong.

ME
I spelt "you" wrong as well.
Funny how the other one catches the eye.
I'm afraid people won't think it's intentional, even though there's a big U in there.

LSW
You could've spelt the too with one o.

ME
Oh yeah. That would've been better. You know when you stop dead in the street because you just walked into something weird?

There was this hard-looking man, but he'd been stopped by this old lady so she can read the tattoo on the back of his leg. You know, some quote or poetry.

So he's posing, in his shorts, angling himself so that she can read him.

And I'm standing there. Staring at this.
Can't even remember what it said, cos I'm busy thinking "This is beautiful! This is art!"

When it's probably just bad eyesight and rubbish lettering.

But I'm looking at this -- and I want it to be a meaningful moment.
You know, two people being brought together by this... illegible leg poetry.

And he's getting to share what he's always wanted to share, what he's put on his leg to last forever.

And I'm thinking this is how Art spreads.
Because I'm writing this down on the back of my hand in Biro.

And I'm feeling really good about noticing this moment, because it's all happening outside the very place I've come to help my family be more creative.

So I'm walking to the back of the Pound Shop - to the stationery section. And now I'm panicking because I'm still holding this Biro and I don't want them to think that I'm stealing it.

Instead of putting it in my pocket, I put it down on the side openly and I manage to find these hard-backed books that me and my family can come together to fill - with ideas, and doodles and dreams and stories and hey.

It's just like that tattoo.
We can all fill the books in marker pen so it's indelible. Like the illegible poetry on the hard-looking man's leg.

And you can't tear the pages out of these hard-backed books.
My mind is racing at all the ways we can organise this - will we do it against the clock? Or one page at a time?

But then I get home. And I've got to clear the table. That's if I can get everyone else to the table.
All at once.
And there's probably a fight over who gets which colours.
And I can't even get myself to the table, let alone anyone else.

So I try and write it all down.
Staging a photo that I didn't have the guts to take.
By drawing all over myself.

Aww man.

I left my pen in the Pound Shop.

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Daddy why do women like saying our names out loud? and 141-147 British Dad thoughts #DadDirt


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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Daddy why do women like saying our names out loud? and 141-147 British Dad thoughts #DadDirt



Thoughts I'll deal with this week.

Monday 19 June
I love how stuff from the supermarket says serves 6 to avoid the fat and sugar looking too high.
It serves 2.
When the two are pigs.

Tuesday 20 June
Singing Happy Birthday down the phone to someone does not have the same status as gift or present.

Wednesday 21 June
My personality profile shows, that I am the type of person who is into personality profiles.

Thursday 22 June
I spend way too much time daydreaming where I would wear my smartphone if I were a moped delivery man.

Friday 23 June
"Daddy, why do women like saying our names out loud in front of everyone?"
"I don’t know son, they just do."

Saturday 24 June
Every time a company asks for my Date Of Birth stupidly raises my already big hopes for next birthday.

Sunday 25 June
Seems life comes down to this simple question.
How can I make a profit from being a Dad.


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My Dairy Alternative vs My Big Belly #DadDirt


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Friday, 16 June 2017

My Dairy Alternative vs My Big Belly #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you look at the stuff that you put in your body.


They put sugar in my dairy alternative.

Second ingredient.

Water. Sugar. Almonds (brackets 2%)

I have dairy alternative for my health.

In my head.

Meanwhile in my belly...

SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR

I like dairy alternative for my health.

And I like my belly.

I must really like being healthy.

Because my belly is big.


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They dont live anywhere near us. But they want our vote. #DadDirt


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Sunday, 11 June 2017

They dont live anywhere near us. But they want our vote. #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...people already know enough about you.



My Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) dumps all her stuff from her book club on the table. A book.

LSW
We were talking about the election candidates. One of them lives in Hackney.

ME
Hackney? 70 miles away?

LSW
And yet he's standing here. Or, probably sitting down after that far.

ME
We should take the time to write to him. Keep him up to date with the goings on about the town.

LSW
He wrote to us with all his gumpf.

ME
(LOOKING HIM UP ON THE PHONE)
On the upside, I guess he's nearer Parliament.

LSW
"Dear Mr Prospective MP who doesn't live anywhere near us". For that is his name. "We must apologise for taking such time to reply to your correspondence. If only the distance between us weren't so great."

ME
"What news from London? Are our needs being met?"

LSW
And did you see two doors down - the one we're voting for...

ME
I know - they've got a poster up.

LSW
How can you do that? It's so... in your face.
I don't want everyone knowing how I'm gonna vote.
Worse than telling someone your salary.

ME
Oh let's put that in the window.

LSW
"I EARN THIS MUCH"

ME
You'd get an idea of the state of the country.

LSW
Easier than having a flash car.


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How I voted wrong for 4 years but it was probably right #DadDirt


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Thursday, 8 June 2017

How I voted wrong for 4 years but it was probably right #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you realise that party politics has absolutely nothing to do with Democracy.


I'm at the other end of the table from my Long-Suffering Wife (LSW), with the kids fighting over the Berries and Red Cherry corner yoghurts.

LSW
Noone wants the red cherries.

ME
I hate elections. They remind me of 2001, and the vote before that in 1997. I voted "Rainbow Alliance".
I thought they were for the Environment.
I couldn't find Green.
It was Camden in the 90's.
How can they not be putting up a green candidate?

LSW
The Rainbow Alliance is Green?

ME
I didn't know. I thought you know... because of Greenpeace, Rainbow Warrior? I wasn't getting much sleep then.

LSW
So you voted for the Rainbow Alliance.

ME
Right. And proudly. Spoke about it freely. Told everyone for four years.

LSW
And that was '97.

ME
Fast forward to 2001. There's talking in the office and I bring this up. "I couldn't find the Green box - in Camden - so I voted Rainbow Alliance".

LSW
I think I know where this is going.

ME
Someone in the office - Nick - knocks on my door - way before all that open-plan balls - he knocks on my door. "Um Neil..." And he's got these printouts about the Rainbow Alliance Party.

LSW
And they're Gay.

ME
How did you know this?

LSW
The flag's a bit of a giveaway.

ME
So I gave my full-on support to this political campaigning group for the Gay movement. For 4 years. I'm kind of proud.

LSW
"You did your bit".

ME
Got the internet now. Not sure I'm that much more on it.

LSW
I like the gay flag. Always wondered why it's a rainbow.

ME
"If you get my gay friends together in a room, you can never get them to agree on anything".

LSW
Probably best you stay off the internet.


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Housework that I do that will never count as housework aka What do you want, a medal? #DadDirt


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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Housework that I do that will never count as housework aka What do you want, a medal? #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...chores you claim for are disallowed.


Housework that I do, that will never count as housework
aka What do you want... a medal?

- setting up the wi-fi

- hoovering the car

- filling or even changing the water filter

- clearing things off the TV box

- rinsing the recycling

- getting change for parking meter

- charging up toothbrushes or any item or gadget

- bulk buying birthday cards

- tupperware reconciliation

- hosing down the kids

- emptying tumble dryer fluff tray

- devising digital photo storage “solution”

"Remember your guide.
If it doesn’t take as long for episiotomy stitches to heal... do not bring it up."


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Why Im not allowed to get on that next train #DadDirt


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