Needles & Calpol…….mmmmm, Calpol

It’s been more than two weeks since my last post. This is basically a sad indication of how busy life has been at work, and how little time I’ve had to do stuff with Marley (and my wife). 

That’s not to say it has been completely without incident; h
e did get his jabs a couple of weeks ago.

I call them “his jabs” because I have absolutely no idea what they’re for, or what exactly was injected in to my child’s body. I think I remember the Doctor mentioning Tuberculosis at one point, plus another hundred other things that would be going in to the various needles. 

And to be honest, therein lies the problem: Needles. 

I was trying so hard not to think about the sharp, pointy object about to pierce my baby’s skin, that I didn’t really listen to anything the Doctor said. 

I have always hated needles….it’s not the fear of pain, or blood, or anything like that. It’s simply the thought of a large needle poking in to skin. I can barely type this without throwing up.

Right after his jabs he was (understandably) a little bit upset, so I sent my wife off to the pharmacy right by the Doctor’s surgery to get some Calpol. 

I was quite excited about this. 

I used to absolutely love Calpol as a kid. But my wife told me I wasn’t to have any. I ‘promise’ I didn’t take any…..

Anyway, while she went off to buy it, I was left standing in the Doctor’s waiting room. Several people (mostly old ladies) smiled at Marley, and gave him glowing looks as they walked past. I was chatting to one such lady about “the jabs” when a man, perhaps in his mid 40s, walked in.

“Oh, what is it…just a boy? How old is it?” he asked me. In those exact words.

“Umm, yes, it’s a boy”, I replied.

“Oh, when was he born? Exactly?” he continued, insistently.

“Err, 18th of June”, I replied.

“That was a Saturday”, he said, without even pausing to think about it. And then: “That was the day I was thrown out of Sainsbury’s for being naughty”.


“I’m behaving much better now. The Doctor told me”.


Fortunately, that was the end of the conversation. He left. And my wife returned with the delicious Calpol shortly after, so we headed home. 

When we got back, Marley needed fed straight away so my wife took him off to the bedroom to get him settled. 

I put back Marley’s changing bag and packed away all of the stuff you have to take out every time you go anywhere with a baby. And I definitely didn’t sneak in to the kitchen to have a swig of Calpol….

Top Five Things To Do When You Are Apart From Your Newborn For The First Time

After eight weeks of new baby madness we decided to take a short trip up to Edinburgh. We stayed there for a (surprisingly sunny) week and then, while wife and baby decided to stay on a few extra days, I returned to London for work, on my own, last Wednesday. 

So the last few days have been the first I’ve spent on my own since he was born. 

We’d been so busy arranging our trip and then introducing Marley to our friends and family up north, that when I found myself sitting at home in our London living room, completely on my own and without his little noises anywhere to be heard, I had absolutely no idea what to do. 

Apart from attempting to get the absolute maximum amount of sleep I could in those few, short days, I had neglected to make any plans whatsoever.

So, I basically had no other choice than to inadvertently come up with this list of the Top Five Things To Do When You Are Apart From Your Newborn For The First Time. 

Here we go:

No 5. Get re-acquainted with the pet

Our cat behaves erratically at the best of times. But ever since we left her in the hands of a Cat Feeder for the first time (we found him online, and he is a nice man, but Bo either hides from him or hisses at and attacks him whenever he comes round) she has behaved even more psychotically than normal. 

A few days of re-kindling our friendship (albeit with a few bites and scratches) has succeeded in making her a tiny bit happier. 

Well, it had, until we locked her out of the bedroom again last night and she started trying to scratch down the door. 

No 4. Eat something irresponsible

There’s nothing like being left in the house on your own to make you feel like you have absolutely no responsibility and can eat anything you like. I decided that, after a day of zero exercise and just sitting on the couch, dinner should definitely include spaghetti hoops that night. 

Serving suggestion: two chicken kievs, a lake of spaghetti hoops and a mountain of potato wedges. (And an Irn Bru)

No 3. Sport (watching, not playing)

The football was on. The Olympics were on. The cricket could have been on, and i’d still have watched it. Probably. 

Oh, this happened on the same day as the spaghetti hoops….

No 2. Tidy the entire house

This happened the day after the spaghetti hoops.

And it only really happened because I didn’t want to get shouted at for not cleaning the entire house when my wife got back. 

*Note: the people in the picture did not help me clean.

No 1. Guilty pleasure

Yes, you could argue that I ticked this one off with the spaghetti hoops. But after an entire day of watching sport, I needed something different to watch in the evening. So imagine my delight when I saw the ’80s classic Commando was on. 

There is possibly no better way to suspend reality than to watch an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that you’ve seen a hundred times before. Especially when you know you wouldn’t get away with watching it in a million years if wife and baby were around.

So there you have my Top Five Things To Do When You Are Apart From Your Newborn For The First Time

*One more thing also happened this week. It turns out that while we’d been away, London had experienced a mini heatwave that had pretty much wiped out my entire crop of plants and vegetables in the garden. The chilli plant survives, but it remains to be seen whether the tomato plant will make it…..

A bagpiper, a criminal and a dwarf get on a train….

Visiting Edinburgh during the Festival, you have to expect to come across some pretty unusual characters. Our train journey from King’s Cross had all the makings of an Edinburgh Fringe show production. 

The only thing I had been thinking prior to the journey was “I pray he sleeps”. I have been on trains with wailing babies before. And hated it, of course. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bothered about Marley’s crying upsetting other people on the journey. I honestly didn’t care. But I had just played football for the first time in six months the night before, my legs were in pieces, I hadn’t got to bed until 2:00am and I wanted to try and get some rest for myself. 

Selfish? Yes. Bothered? About as much as any new dad coping on four hours sleep a night, I imagine. 

Anyway, the train was packed. Incredibly, Marley slept the ENTIRE way there (well, unless you count that one trip to the bathroom where he had his nappy changed, and proceeded to piss everywhere; all over the wet wipes, the changing mat, the walls, the floor, the ceiling, his own face…..thankfully my wife took that one on) 

As far as first train rides with a newborn go, this couldn’t have been smoother. 

Having said that, our fellow passengers on the seats around us made for a very entertaining journey. Over the four and a half hour journey, we were entertained by:
– three guys from a London brewery start-up called Forest Road who were promoting their beers in Edinburgh
– a bagpiper who was travelling up for the World Championships
– a female criminal who had just been released from jail that morning
– a magical dwarf

The most vocal of the bunch was, of course, the criminal. She “never thought she would end up in jail” and painted a picture of a placid woman who had just flipped when she’d caught her husband of many years sleeping with her best friend. It turned out she had a slightly more questionable background than she first made out, and with a brother also in jail (murder) and countless other stories up her sleeve, it didn’t sound like she’d be enjoying her new-found freedom for too long.

Still, she regaled the carriage with tales of what goes on inside, utterly convinced that prison provides the best possible opportunities for business. The train was a slightly duller place after she got off. But the bagpiper stepped up with his own brand of entertainment to keep things going. After one of the brewery guys tried (and failed) to get any notes out of the instrument, I took Marley out when the piper began blasting out some tunes. 
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It was at this moment I encountered the dwarf. Standing in the vestibule, bouncing Marley along to the tune of Scotland the Brave, he seemed to appear magically out of nowhere. We spoke for a few minutes, but I don’t think I really heard anything he said. I was too busy thinking about how I could make this all in to a show at next year’s Fringe.