January 29, 2005

The Wholly Trinity

Pumpkin, it is likely that you will spend a significant portion of your life surrounded by books. Many of the people closest to you, including both your mother and your father, are Right Into Books. This is, of course, hardly surprising, given that a healthy portion of both of our families are also Right Into Books.

One of my favourite authors, whom you will not be permitted to read until at least 2020, is a guy called Chuck Palahniuk (I can't pronounce it either). Being that yesterday was my 31st birthday, and being that I have friends, who in addition to being Right Into Books, know that I am Right Into Books, I was gifted with a book by the aforementioned Mr Pal.. Pahla.. let's call him Chuck.

In the book, Chuck talks about the fact that people he knows seem to lead a series of lives. That everyone he knows has a number of ways that they define themselves. Your mother, for instance, would likely say that she is a teacher and an artist and a mother. These are three things, I think you'll agree, that are worthwhile things to be.

On the other hand, I am struggling now to figure out what my three lives are - how to define who I am 24 hours a day. I'm a writer, I know that much, and I'm going to be a Dad, that's now a foregone conclusion, but it seems like there's an empty slot there now. Maybe I should take up tapdancing.

I've never much been a fan of tapdancing, mind you, and I'm not sure how your mum would feel about me bouncing up and down making clattering noises while she's trying to sleep. You're right, pumpkin, I'd best come up with a quieter and less intrusive hobby.

Perhaps juggling.

January 27, 2005

Dancing about architecture

I am guilty, most wonderous pumpkin, of neglecting this place in days gone past. For this I apologise, and can give you no other explanation than that I have felt there wasn't anything to tell you.

This is categorically untrue, as will be evidenced below.

We went to see Dr Pete on Monday, an event which left us slightly befuddled subsequent, for two main reasons. Firstly and chiefly, my complacency about your mother's pregnancy progression was jarred by a throwaway comment from the good doctor. He referred to the coming weeks as the 'business end' of the entire process.

Now pumpkin, it is true that I have become used to your mum being pregnant, that I am now accustomed to such phenomena as 'emergency cereal' and the requirement for first breakfast AND second breakfast (as well as snacks, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, linner , dinner, supper etc etc). I am also by now used to a wife who sleeps soundly for up to 38 minutes before waking up enough to pummel me into submission and then wrench bedclothes from my tenuous grasp in her neverending quest to 'just get *&^%$ing comfortable' (not that rude words, pumpkin, would EVER leave your mother's mouth, the profanity is used here to 'add colour').

The point here, if there is one, is that, whilst I am now used to Eve being pregnant, I am completely unprepared for her to not be pregnant. There is, I'm sure you will agree, a substantial difference.

The second of Dr Pete's earth shattering utterances came directly after he measured you and prodded you a bit. He walked back to his desk, saying with pride that he thinks you will be a 'good sized' baby. I was flummoxed. Does this mean that there's such a thing as a bad sized baby? Even so, what precisely does 'good sized' mean?

I pressed him for more information, (and I'm breaking a confidence here, because he in fact said in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't quote him on this), and he said that he thinks you will be 'around 8 pounds'.

Now I don't know how big that is, but let me tell you that your mum went a bit pale, so I'm assuming it's big. Certainly I know that I would not (decorum aside for the moment) like to have ANYTHING that weighs eight pounds having to come out of my body.

Love you.

January 21, 2005

Pumpkin Facts

• The pumpkin is actually a fruit. It is, however, related to the cucumber.

• The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,458 lb (661 kg) and was grown by Bruce Whittier from Henniker, New Hampshire. It was of the variety "Dill's Atlantic Giant," which was developed by Canadian breeder Howard Dill.

• Pumpkins are orange because they contain massive amounts of lutein, alpha- and beta-carotene. These nutrients turn to vitamin A in the body.

• Using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. All Hallows Eve on October 31st marked the end of the old Celtic calendar year, and on that night hollowed-out turnips, beets and rutabagas with a candle inside were placed on windowsills and porches to welcome home spirits of deceased ancestors and ward off evil spirits and a restless soul called “Stingy Jack - hence the name "Jack O’ Lantern".

• The town of Keene, New Hampshire currently holds the world record for the most lit pumpkins in one location.

• 90% of all pumpkins sold in the United States are used for Jack O’ Lanterns.

• In colonial New Haven, Connecticut, cut pumpkins were used as guides for haircuts to ensure a round, uniform style. Because of this fashion, New Englanders were nicknamed "pumpkin-heads."

• Illinois produces more pumpkins than any other state in the United States.

Movement at the station

It was last night, my restless pumpkin, that I felt your touch for the first time.

Uneventful weeks of laying my hands on your mother's belly had left me wondering if I would ever get the chance to feel you, I had decided, I think, that you were hiding from me.

That one small nudge from you, which felt something like a foot, but could easily have been an elbow, a knee, a hand or a headbutt, set off some kind of a seismic disturbance in my emotions that it is difficult for me to accurately get down here.

I'll give it a shot.

For my entire life to date, through the years of my mis-spent youth (tales of which will be heavily censored for the time being), I never did anything that could not be undone, repaired, paid off or forgotten. All of the mistakes that I made (and there were many), were mistakes that affected only me and the people around me. My responsibility in the first 30 years of my life was limited only to my own survival, and although I tested that responsibility to the edge of the envelope, I made it through.

Now, pumpkin, knowing that you are coming, that responsibility has shifted. It is not with thoughts of the repercussions on myself that I consider courses of action, or regret decisions I have made. You, pumpkin, are my responsibility, and it is for you that I must now live my life.

Love you,

January 14, 2005

Eternal sunshine of the empty house

It is with mixed feelings, pumpkin, that I inform you that the influx of northern hemispherean guests to our abode is drawing to a close today.

The unfailingly lovely L and J depart our shores on the big silver bird late this afternoon, bound home to Wales with fond thoughts of you in their hearts. L and J came out here to investigate the possiblity of making the Big Move down under, and I think that such a shift could be possible in the not too distant future. Although not absolutely positive that Aunt Loz (as opposed to Aunts Liz 1 & 2) will be the most... decorous of role models, I can safely say that both her and her wonderful 'usband Uncle J have a boundless expanse of joy and love in their hearts.

Whilst it has been the greatest of pleasures to enjoy the company of L&J, and of your also unfailingly lovely grandparents, it must be said that your mum and I are very much looking forward to once again enjoying the peace, quiet and lack of muchbooze that tends to characterise our domestic situation.

It is a sad fact, pumpkin, that four adults into one bathroom is not an equation that fosters easy living, and that feeling free to take advantage of the facilities will be a joy.

In news about you (yes, I know that's what you were waiting for), you continue to be a wriggly baby. Also, evidence that you are taking an interest in your surroundings is thick on the ground. After hearing a noise that was undoubtedly a burglar the night before last, Miss Purdey performed her alloted task by barking very loudly and suddenly. Your mum, jolted first by the unexpected noise, was then surprised by the fact that you started to wriggle around immediately thereafter.

I've been meaning to get my act together in terms of getting you listening to music, and I think that this occurrence was the one that may spark me into action. I have a copy of the Beatles' White Album, which I think might be a good start.

Love you,

January 07, 2005

Perambulation Breakdown Part Deux

So there we were, pumpkin. Standing in the pram store on High Street, faced with a dozen choices, behind them a dozen more. Red strollers, blue ones, four wheels, three wheels, laybacks, zippers and buckles. A stroller was picked out from the pack. Red it was, with ABC on its flanks. A price was quoted, a lower one sought. A discount was obtained, the purchase was upon us.

The gang retired to the pavement to talk over the deal. We came to the decision, after to-ing and fro-ing, that we needed coffee and cake.

Of course, after downing a gigantic slice of honeycomb cheesecake, we realised that we had not seen Nearly Enough Prams, and that a trip to the Giant Purveyors of BabyGoods was in order.

Saddling up the blönk, and laying in provisions (a bag of snakes), we set off across the wilds in search of the fabled location. After an interminable drive across much of creation, we came to the gates of the babyland, and marveled at its magnificence.

Crossing through into the halls of babygoods, we were confronted by a veritable cornucopia of prams, an order of magnitude more than had been at the previous location. Your father naturally immediately found a pram that looked like a spaceship, with a pricetag that bore an uncanny resemblance to the budget for the space program. No speakers though.

After further investigation, I found one that I really liked. It had all of the features that we were looking for, and was red. Unfortunately, pumpkin, you will remember what I said about the way men shop. This method of shopping is all very well and good, provided that your mother is not present.

Your mother, pumpkin, as is the case with many of her fair gender, shops holistically. She examines the object of desire and sees it as a whole, rather than as a collection of features. In the case of the pram that I had discovered, the problem was that, in her eyes (which, you will recall, pumpkin, work far better than mine), it was ugly. This, of course, for a baby destined to be so pretty as you, Simply Would Not Do.

Some earnest discussions were held, involving sitting down, talking very slowly and politely and walking off to look at some other prams.

A compromise was hammered out, an achievement not dissimilar to the drawing up of the Treaty of Versailles.

This, then, pumpkin, is your dad.

With your pram.

A Valco Runabout Series II Deluxe, in Black Magic with matching sunshade and Cocoon. I think you'll like it.

January 05, 2005

Perambulation Breakdown

It is the 21st century, pumpkin, and your father should be clever enough to know that technology proceeds apace in all industries. That in diverse fields of endeavour the world around, designers and strategists are wracking their brains for innovations that will allow their organisation to seize market share.

This also applies, my pumpkin, to prams.

The sheer variety that is available for purchase in the child conveyance sector, punkin, is quite simply astonishing. To walk into a purveyor of such conveyances without prior investigation is to walk unadorned into the Den Of The Lions.

It was with trepidation then, that your grandfather Jon and I accompanied your mother and grandmother on the expedition to end all expeditions. On Saturday, pumpkin, we bought your pram.

Now it must be said, my child, that prams, strollers, pushchairs and their ilk have transformed since I was your age. Apparently the preferred nomenclature of perambulation devices in 2005 is "strollers", and the particular type with which your mother is enamored are called "Jogger Strollers".

Let it be said here, my darling pumpkin, that I have never yet seen your mother jog.

Having said that, we pressed on. Undeterred by tales of other folk who had fallen by the wayside, we forged on into Baby Target. Momentarily distracted by a stroller that was branded by a major car company, your grandfather and I gazed longingly at the inbuilt speakers and parental cupholder (although your grandfather and I agree that it would have held a bottle of beer equally as well as a latte). Your mother and grandmother, being of far more practicable stuff, rattled on about how heavy it was and did the footbrake work well and how easy was it to fold up. All immaterial as far as I'm concerned, SPEAKERS, pumpkin, it had SPEAKERS!

Leaving the confines of Baby Target behind (although I'll wager it's not the last time I'll darken that doorway) , we journeyed on to another large provider of goods for tiny people.

It was there that we discovered another flaw in our plan.

When men are buying something, pumpkin, they divide their requirements up into compartments, and then rate the object at which they are looking against those requirements, applying a score against each. When the overall score for that particular item reaches a predetermined point, they make a purchasing decision. This is, pumpkin, as long as they are shopping only By Themselves, or With Other Men. It is also provided that they are given access to adequate comparison information on products. Men, pumpkin, can easily tell you that RMS is a much more accurate measure of a stereo's overall sound performance than pure wattage output.

But stereos, pumpkin, are the same in every shop. They do the same thing, they have the same connections, and you can tell which one's better.

Jogger Strollers, pumpkin, do not present one with that luxury. In each store, there are different brands, all of which appear to perform the same basic functions, but whose feature sets and price ranges vary SO widely as to make accurate side by side comparison next to impossible.

LUCKILY, pumpkin, the men were not alone on this journey. It is likely that had we been, we would have returned home with a milk crate, an octopus strap, a skateboard and a case of beer, maintaining steadfastly that our contraption "fulfils all of the basic functions of any others, and at a fraction of the price, providing you don't take the beer into account".