Grandpa In My Pocket

Cbeebies is full of very strange programmes. Take Numberjacks for example. This appears to be a remake of spooky 70s show Sapphire & Steele albeit with the eponymous heroes replaced with CGI talking numbers that live inside a sofa. Then of course there’s Waybaloo a show about dwarfish Buddhists with speech and learning difficulties, which tries very hard to be representative and fill each episode with a group of children of every hue that means the production company is very likely to exhaust Canada’s supply of Chinese children pretty soon.

One of the oddest shows is Grandpa In My Pocket. Here James Bolam, slumming it from grown-ups’ telly, plays the titular Grandpa. Now don’t get worried – grandpa’s excursions into “my” pocket are not of the Daily Mail-baiting “I’ll give you a Werthers original sonny if I can have a rummage” kind1. Oh no, instead it refers to Grandpa’s ability to shrink to a pocket size when wearing his “magical shrinking cap”.


The Magic Heliclopter

One of the great joys of being a parent of a three year old is the mad stream off chatter emerging from them. Granted if you’re not in the right mood it can be tiring – our daughter readily admits “I can’t stop talking daddy” – but on the whole it’s hugely entertaining hearing the thoughts of bonkers pre-schoolers.

Having twins makes that even more entertaining because you can overhear conversations they have with each other. Take the following for example – I was driving them back from school along the back road, where one often sees military helicopters flying to and from RNAS Yeovilton. I’ve retained their pronunciation of helicopter and other words.

[Pat] Oooh I’ve just seen a heliclopter.
[Kitty] Did you Pat?
[Pat] Yes Ditty, it was very fast.
[Kitty] It was an airlaplane.
[Pat] No Ditty, not an airlaplane, it was a heliclopter.
[Kitty] Well I can’t see a heliclopter.
[Pat] That’s cause it disappeared.
[Kitty] Ooh, was it a magic heliclopter Pat?
[Pat] No Ditty, it just flew away.

[Kitty] Daddy why are you laughing?

I just about kept control of the car.

Our days of chopping cucumber are over

The Channel Four programme Bringing Up Baby (open in a new window/tab) has been a real hit in our household, bringing much merriment for four weeks here to our family.

The show featured several families all trying to look after their newborn babies following one of three childcare philosophies. These were the 1960s “mummy knows best” approach of Doctor Benjamin Spock, a 1950s strict routine method and a strange 1970s hippy approach based on some tribe in the arse-end of nowhere.

I should first explain our own philosophy on childcare before I share with you our views on the TV show. Looking after twins is hard work and Patrick and Kitty do keep us rushed off our feet, the only way we really manage to cope is by sticking as much as possible to a routine. This means meals at eight am, midday, four pm and seven pm – and now the babes sleep through every single night.

This process took time though – time for us to learn what was best and time for the twins to show us what was comfortable for them. Neither Jo or I are fans of Gina Ford’s Das Kinder Reich view of childcare – we like to choose when we’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit thanks very much, but that’s not stopped us admiring the 1950s approach in the TV show – which differs from Ford’s in that it doesn’t seem to control the parents.


The Corned Beef Tin of Doom

A gruesome story from ten years ago…the faint-hearted might like to look away now.

I was opening a tin of corned beef, the sort with a key. I’d turned the key all around the can and was trying to pull the smaller section away – when it suddenly gave way.

Ouch! I said, thinking I’d given myself a little nick.

Then the blood started fountaining out of the end of my finger.


He Likes His Women Fat & Far Away

We, that is L and I, were talking yesterday about TV adverts. She’s noticed how all the kids in adverts these days seem to be pushy little miniature adults who boss grown-ups around. Look at the new Werther’s Original commercial or the latest Fruit Pastels ad for examples of that. Another issue with adverts these days is the portrayal of men. Commercials have turned men into a bunch of wimpy girls.

Cosmetic companies have been selling expensive gunk to women for years in collusion with magazines such as Cosmo using BS science made up in some marketing department. It seems you can’t buy a bottle of shampoo anymore, it has to be a total hair nourishment treatment. Magazines eager for advertising money have colluded with the cosmetic companies to rip off women in this way for a long time. But now they are doing it to men too. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen moisturiser adverts aimed at men with the same kind of patronising pseudo-science they normally try to fool women with. (more…)

The Food of Kings

The Goblin Meat Pudding sounds like something Gollum would buy down at Crazy Saruman’s Convenience & Liquor Store. But behind the silly name lurks a meal fit for a king.

For the last two weeks every weekday lunchtime I’ve sat down to a couple of Goblin Meat Puddings, made by Simpsons Foods of Manchester. I’ve been eating these things since I was a kid and the gorgeous L recently ordered 20 (yes 20) of them in an online grocery order because she knows I like them.

This lunchtime I have eaten the last of them. So it’s goodbye to the tasty soft pastry for a while and I’ll have to eat something more healthy instead. But I just wanted to pay tribute to one of the finest foods available, and easy to cook too, taking just 90 seconds in the microwave.

I’ve not eaten one of these things for ages until L bought me some and the can has certainly changed and is more attractive. The problem with the old one was that it was a bit of a lottery whether you opened it at the right end. So you’d end up having to open up both and pushing the pudding out. Now with it’s handy grenade style packaging, pudding opening confusion is a thing of the past.

But all waffling and silliness aside, the Goblin Meat Pudding really is the lunch of champions, albeit slightly porkie champions.

Lancaster Reunion 2001

An account of the epic journey of one James and one Harry.

Their quest, to return to Lancaster University in autumn 2001 and see what fun could be had by a pair of ex-students in their former stomping ground.

An account of the epic journey of one James and one Harry. Their quest, to return to Lancaster University in autumn 2001 and see what fun could be had by a pair of ex-students in their former stomping ground.

Although the reunion involved just Harry and me, it was so say the least a superb weekend. (more…)

Bagpuss – The Chocolate Biscuit Episode

Remembering a childhood classic now, in the form of my rant about the political ideas behind a certain episode of Bagpus.

Well as you remember, Emily, the little girl who seemed to have somehow become a shop owner, goodness knows how, judging by the Victorian setting she should have been up a chimney somewhere, or losing fingers under a Spinning Jenny. But I’m digressing. Erm… so Emily would bring broken object d’art along to her shop and her demon possessed toys would renovate them so she could sell the items at hugely inflated prices. Great scam isn’t it? The junior necromancer conjures forth life from an organ, some stuffed toys, and a bookend and uses them for her own nefarious capitalist means. And some Christians complain about Harry Potter. At least he didn’t breath life into a wooden bookend to give it a superiority complex and to oppress working class possessed mice.