Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolve

Happy Almost 2008! I looked out of the window this morning and was surprised to see that there were no flying cars or people of bacofoil suits floating about in giant bubbles; nor were there any robots clanking down Norwood Road, just a couple of hoodies waiting at the bus stop. Rubbish. The future has turned out to be thoroughly disappointing.

Still, 2008 sort of rhymes with great, meaning my slogan for this year is 'Great! It's 2008!' Or 'It's gonna be great in 2008'. Or possibly 'Nothing will grate in 2008.'

My resolution is to blog more this year (I mean, next year). Yes, I know I've said that before. 2007 has been a Poppy-shaped maelstrom - the first half of the year was all about pregnancy, the second half was dominated by a pint sized tyrant; a tyrant who finally went into her own bedroom last night, leaving Buffy and I free to sleep in the dark for the first time in seven months. We soon discovered that Buffy's night vision is shocking these days, and after turning off the light she found herself paralysed and terrified, struck completely blind and compelled to put the light on again.

My new year's resolutions for 2008:

1. Be more organised. Put stuff where I'll be able to find it again. Use my diary. Don't be too scared to look at my bank account on days other than pay day.

2. Be healthier. Less drinking, fewer fags, more trips to the gym.

3. Make more time to play Super Mario Galaxy.

I don't need to make any other resolutions because I'm almost perfect anyway.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

RIP Muffin and Flake

I've had a double whammy of sadness this week: both our rats, Muffin and Flake, pictured above climbing the Christmas tree last year, had to be put to sleep.

A couple of months ago, Muffin had two massive cancerous tumours removed. She seemed to have recovered and most of her fur had grown back. But then she lost the ability to hold her food and developed a head tilt. The cancer had spread to her brain.

At the same time, Flake lost half her body weight. She changed from being obese - she really was enormously fat - to a skinny little lightweight in a couple of weeks. And she was barely able to breathe. It was a tumour in her lungs.

I took them to the vets last night knowing they were both ill but expecting the vet to prescribe a dose of Baytril, the medicine they always give rats. But she said they both needed to be put down. It was awful. I watched the vet inject them, then stood there blubbing while they both lay down together and went to sleep...forever. I wish I'd asked the vet to do it in the back room because I can't get the images out of my head.

This morning, Sara and I buried them in the garden and cried together. Then I threw out all their stuff because the sight of it was making me feel worse.

I'm a complete wuss when it comes to pets. And now we don't have any. We're not going to get any more rats - not until Poppy starts asking for pets, anyway. Or, when we get our own place, we're going to get a couple of cats.

RIP Muffin and Flake. You were a pair of troublesome, pesky, incredibly expensive pests - but we loved you lots.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My life, and other interesting things

There's a new craze going down in the blogosphere - or at least, the teeny corner of it occupied by Sara, Kate and now me. Someone asks you five questions and you answer them on your blog. My questions were provided by Sara. I was hoping for some easy ones, like 'What's your favourite animal?' or 'What do you want for Christmas?' but, no, she's posed some real humdingers. Here goes:

1. What is the one thing you would most like to change in your life, given the chance? And why?

The facile answer is that I'd like to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Like Nikki from BB, I'm certain I was born into the wrong class. Carpenter father, cleaner mother. There must have been a mix-up at the hospital, and some other sod is going to get my trust fund and massive inheritance. Sigh...

The real answer is easy: I wish my daughter Ellie didn't live in Australia, and I suppose I don't need to explain why. I wonder if I should have made it harder for her mother to emigrate with her... but at the time I just wanted to make things as easy for her as possible. Now my number wish is that Ellie was here so I didn't just see her once a year if I'm lucky. Yes, I see her on Skype twice a week, but it's not the same. I know from the first six months of Ellie's life, and now from having Poppy around, how amazing it is to spend time with your child, and how good it is for them. I worry that she thinks her daddy lives inside a computer (when I actually only live chained to a computer). I miss her and saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I've ever done.

2. What's so great about Embrace?

When I tell people I love Embrace I get one of two reactions:

a) They say 'Who?'
b) They look at me with mixture of horror, pity and amusement, as if I've just told them I have an enormous pulsating growth on my bottom.

But Embrace are brilliant, and it's all down to two things: the tunes, which are uplifting and melancholy and joyful and designed to sign along loudly to, especially 'The Good Will Out', 'Nature's Law', 'Glorious Day', and 'Come Back to What You Know'; and Danny McNamara's voice.

'What?', I hear you splutter. 'But he can't sing! He sounds like a wounded buffalo who wouldn't know the right key if it inserted itself in his jacksie!' But I love Danny's voice. It's warm and intimate and real. And it gives people like me the hope that we could also be pop stars. Well, it would have done fifteen years ago.

3. If you could go back to re-live one day in your life, what day would you choose, and would you change any of your previous actions on that day?

Ooh, this is a good one.

Possibly the biggest life-changing day was when Poppy was born, and the end of that day was wonderful. I wouldn't want to relive it though, because it entailed tiredness, pain (Sara's) and lots of blood. Only a loony would want to go through that again! (What's that you say, Sara - you want another baby?)

No, the day I'd choose to relive would involve lots of pleasure and fun, and a big dash of excitement. A perfect day, when I wouldn't want to change a thing.

That day is actually the one when Sara and I first spent a whole day and night together, staying in the Grafton Radisson Hotel the week we both 'pushed the button' and got together. I remember so vividly waiting in the bar for her, with a large glass of wine and a lot of cigarettes, my heart pounding, feeling like a character in a glamorous movie. Then she arrived, looking so beautiful and I spent the rest of the day boiling over with happiness because we were together at last and we didn't have to hide any more.

I could go into more detail but will save that for my autobiography: 'Mark My Words'.

4. If you were the last person on earth, with only dogs and donkeys for company... would you kill yourself? If so, how?

I quite like dogs, and don't mind donkeys. Obviously I wouldn't want to have a relationship with either species, even if there was no one left on earth to frown upon it and a pretty young border collie... hang on, stop right there Mark! What I actually wanted to say was that I would never kill myself, because I don't believe in an afterlife and I think there would always be something to live for, even if there were only dogs and donkeys around. I can imagine some scenario like 28 Days Later where the whole world has been wiped out by a deadly virus. Somehow, I have survived, due to a one in ten billion genetic fluke. For a while I would go around feeling really special. Until I realised that I must share genetics with dogs and donkeys. And then maybe, at that point, I would actually kill myself. With a massive overdose of heroin. Well, you'd want to die on a high, innit?

5. If you were going to recommend a novel to your biggest idol which novel would you choose? And who is it that you're choosing for? Explain your choices.

Well, of course it would be The Secret History because that's the book I recommend to everyone, and the one I use to decide how compatible we are. If you like TSH, we can be good friends. When I lent it to Sara she went ape for it, so much so that I knew we were meant to be together. Well, that and the sparkling sexual tension between us.

I would lend it to Brett Anderson because he's my biggest idol, and I think he'd like it because it would remind him of when Suede were the coolest gang in the Britpop world, but they were still outsiders, and I think when he let Bernard leave it was a bit like the others pushing Bunny off that cliff, and poor old Brett has had to live with the consequences ever since.

So, does anyone want me to ask them 5 questions?

Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me, please.” I will respond by emailing you five questions of my choosing. You must update your blog with the answers to the questions. Whether you like them or not. You have to include this explanation, and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. So, there you go. Cheers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yes, I'm still alive

It's been soooo long since I wrote on here that I've almost forgotten how to use Blogger.

Life has become dominated by Poppy. I get up at 7, stagger to the kitchen, warm a bottle, put GMTV on (more of which later), feed Poppy, put her down, get ready for work, squeeze onto a train, boot up my work PC, write a to-do list, receive numerous bulletins from Buffy about Poppy's doings (I missed Poppy's first laugh the other day; she was probably thinking about her poor old father slogging his guts out to pay for her baby wipes), watch my to-do list grow, squeeze onto a another train, get home, play with Poppy, watch TV, try to stop Poppy crying, eat dinner while rocking Poppy in her chair with my foot, put her dummy in for the millionth time, feed her, go to bed, get up at 7...

I might sound like I'm moaning but I actually love it. Poppy is so cute and gorgeous and loveable - and, importantly, looks quite a lot like me - that the hours I get to spend with her are ace. I particularly enjoy dancing with her in front of the mirror. We gaze at each other's reflections while jigging to 'The Salmon Dance' by the Chemical Brothers. That's her favourite. That and 'Puff the Magic Dragon'. Rather worrying that her favourite songs are about drugs.

Buffy spends 24 hours a day with the Popster, and remarkably hasn't gone completely insane. I think she retains her sanity by building up her friend list on Facebook and watching Cheaters, possibly the most irresponsible programme ever. People being confronted by a self-righteous TV presenter and a camera crew while innocently trying to shag their bit on the side. Shocking stuff.

The one thing you can guarantee when you have a baby is that your TV consumption will increase by about 400%, and ours was pretty bad anyway. Most people probably don't realise that GMTV is actually 15 minutes of programming on a loop for four hours. When you've seen Ben Shepherd say the same thing about Madeleine McCann for the eight time you start to wonder if you're having a recurring nightmare.

GMTV isn't the only thing on a loop. I've discovered that if you watch TV all day and night you only see eight adverts. Again and again and again and again until you HAVE to rush to the shops and buy everything you've seen in the commercials. Our cupboards are full of Organics shampoo and that perfume advertised by those two people making out in a boat. I also bought some tight white speedos as I thought that was what they were advertising but Buffy won't let me wear them. Not out, anyway.

The worst advert of all is that one about Mickey. I think he's advertising Head and Shoulders. 'Everyone knows a bloke like Mickey... he has a look for every occasion... he hates flakes... his favourite look is morning hair.' If I've ever wished premature baldness on anyone it's Mickey. Buffy thinks it's because I'm jealous of his good looks. But I'm not. I just think he's a c***.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sara on telly!

If you're a reader of Sara Sizzle, you'll be excited to learn that she's on TV this coming Monday. She's on Cutting Edge, Bus Pass Workaholics, which features Sylvester Stein, the 86-year-old genius we work with. We haven't seen it yet but apparently Sara has a few lines. I'm very excited!

As you probably know, our daughter was born a week ago, and instead of blogging here I've been putting what remains of my energy into our parenting blog, Life After Birth, where I blog pretty much every day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Quiche is coming!

It's the been the third most stressful week of my life this week.

First, our landlady announced she was selling our flat and we had to get out - then we had big rows with her - and eventually I found us another, much nicer place to live; though I still have to sort out our references.

Second, Buffy and I got into a big fight with the Mumsnet forum after I posted a link to our parenting blog on there. Half of them thought our blog was funny and sweet; the other half called me a sexist nob. Traffic to LAB went crazy, but the whole thing got too personal and we had to get Mumsnet to delete the post.

Third, we had the continued agony of the wait for Quiche. But finally - finally! - something is happening. Buffy is going to be induced tomorrow. At last, at last, our daughter is going to enter the world.

I know that's going to be the start of all the hard work. But I have no doubt it's all going to be worthwhile.

Here's a picture of Ellie in her bedroom in Oz:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Anyone out there?

I don't know if anyone still reads this blog because I haven't had a comment for weeks! Maybe you've all moved over to Life After Birth... where you can read all about the seemingly endless wait for Quiche.

Apart from willing Quiche into the world, what else have I been doing? Um...

1. Using consumer power to make Mars change their minds. Last week, Mars announced that their chocolate bars would no longer be veggie-friendly because of the introduction of calf stomach. So, Buffy, I and 6000 others wrote to complain and the company backed down. Hurrah! We can scoff Mars Bars to our hearts' content.

2. Watching My So-Called Life on DVD. I missed the entire show when it was on in the early 1990s. (Not sure what I was doing at the time; hanging around, being baggy.) It's fab and ace. Not as good as Buffy TVS, but what is?

3. Getting excited about Big Brother. Only 10 days to go. Quiche will have to be trained not to scream between 9pm-10pm.

4. Getting addicted to Facebook. On one level, I find it almost as irritating as Myspace, and it makes me feel old. But I can see that it's useful for keeping in touch with groups of friends. If you're on there, look me up in the London network or using my normal email address.

5. Getting depressed about Nottingham Forest getting knocked out of the League One play-offs. How shit.

6. Going a little bit mental. I really do feel a bit mentally and emotionally unstable at the moment. It must be the pressure of the impending birth, but I'm finding it very hard to concentrate on anything right now. I hope I'm not too difficult to live with at the moment.

Come on Quiche!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sweet little victory

I'm feeling very happy this afternoon for a very shallow reason - Sara and I won our company's Fantasy Football competition! (Or, rather, we came top of our league; there are three.) It's funny because our team, which we named before we knew Sara was pregnant, is called Up the Duff, because we had Damien Duff in our side. I've been trying to win for four years. Hooray for us!

I'm also happy because I finally completed on the sale of my house this week. I've been sensible and put most of the money in a savings account, ready for when we try to get back onto the property ladder... although we need a house price crash in London before we'll be able to do so. I've also put some money aside to start driving lessons again. And had a mini spending spree. I've ordered a camcorder so we can shoot endless footage of Quiche. I also bought Buffy a Nintendo DS which she's been playing all afternoon, doing brain training. I promise it wasn't actually a Homer Simpson-style bowling bowl present for myself!

If you think I don't update this blog very often, you need to see Life After Birth - I'm blogging there nearly every day. Sometimes twice.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wimbledon commoners

We've had a very quiet bank holiday because Sara is too pregnant to venture too far, although she went stir crazy today and we ended up in Wimbledon, where I bought some distressed Converse then ran through a May Day downpour to Wagamama. Everybody was stressed and miserable, especially the waitress who barked 'Come', the parents of the numerous screaming brats, and me. I felt like murdering someone with the umbrella we'd just bought. However, yasai yaki soba and Asahi calmed me down.

Sara is in bed right now - it's 6pm - after being up all night, suffering in her last days of pregnancy. I've written more about this on our parenting blog.

Ooh, there are some yobs outside, shouting 'F*** off' at each other. Bank holiday high spirits.

Sara has already told you about the Flake tail trauma. It's called degloving. Last night, after the tail appeared to be healing, Flake bit into it and made it bleed again. I'm not saying she's stupid, but...

I've just signed up to Joost. TV on your computer. I haven't explored it properly yet but it appears to be mainly music programmes and stuff about lingerie models. It's all a far cry from when I first went online, when it took an hour to download a clip from South Park on, if your connection didn't keep dropping, and we thought that was amazing.

Quiche will be here any day now. I will, of course, let you know the moment she arrives!


Sunday, May 06, 2007

We need links!

An appeal to readers of Chicken's Roost and our girlfriend (as opposed to sister) blog, Sara Sizzle:

As you might know, we recently launched our parenting advice blog, Life After Birth. We really need anyone out there with their own blog or site to link to Life After Birth. We'll beg if necessary ;)

Thank you!

Mark and Sara

Monday, April 30, 2007

Cookie monster

Buffy has created the funniest blog post ever. I'm going to give up. I can't compete.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Worrying. Very worrying.

I had a very sad day yesterday at the end of what was a lovely week. Ellie went back to Australia, and we had a tearful goodbye in the less-than-cinematic setting of Hastings Rail Station's car park. (There's a fishing boat on a mound outside the exit; a statue of a Staffordshire terrier ripping up a giro would suit the town better.) Ellie is empathetic now and reacts to tears. Or perhaps she was just hungry, or grumpy after I'd lugged her from cafe to cafe, trying to find a nice place to spend some daddy-daughter time.

I miss her loads. She'll probably be talking next time I see her. Thank goodness for Skype and our video chats.

Meanwhile, back in the roost, there have been worrying developments... I opened my computer earlier to find this page open on screen:

Why Stop Lusting

Sara, is there something you want to tell me?*

*I am being forced to fess up. Sara found this page after accidentally Googling 'sa' (she was attempting to Google 'Sara Sizzle' but got interrupted). Personally, I don't believe in sexaholism. It's just a way of excusing randiness, isn't it? In fact... actually, I'd better stop there. This blog is meant to be for family viewing!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ellie Vision

I'm happy/sad this week. Happy because Ellie is over, which is fantastic. Sad because it means I'm going to have to go through the upset of saying goodbye to her again at the end of the week... I already feel tearful thinking about it.

I saw her Friday, which was amazing, and then again today, bringing her to our neck of the woods and looking after her for most of the day. We went to Woolies to buy toys including a plastic mobile phone (Ellie loves phones). Then to the park to play on the grass and watch a BB6 rematch between Derek and Science. It wasn't actually them but it really could have been; Derek was a posh black gay man with two springers, who was offended by the Staffs belonging to a young chav, resulting in a massive row: 'You're gay', 'You're a hoodlum, you can't even speak English, go back to Brixton or Peckham, we don't like your sort in the park', 'Yeah..and you're gay.' Then we went to Escape in Herne Hill for lunch where Ellie sucked on a sun dried tomato.

She's so so much bigger and completely different to when I last saw her, four months ago. She's also an absolute angel. Of course, I'm biased, but she's so sweet and good natured. She hardly ever cries, is happy anywhere and is completely gorgeous.

Here's a video clip and some pics. There will be more Ellie stuff later in the week.

Life After Birth

No, we haven't had Quiche yet. I just wanted to let you know that we (that's Buffy and me) have set up a joint blog called Life After Birth.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


It's not easy sharing a bed with a pregnant insomniac. Pleasant, yes, but not easy.

Last night, as usual, poor Buffy woke up 3 or 4 times in the night because Quiche was punching her bladder. She finally woke up at sometime just after 5am and decided she needed a bath. (This happens a lot.) She got up and I drifted back to sleep only to be woken sometime later by banging...


I lifted my head. The thumping and panicked cries appeared to be coming from the bathroom.

I staggered to the bathroom door.

'The light's gone out and I need you to help me get out the bath. I can't see anything!'

'But you've locked the door.'

Poor Buffy was stranded in the pitch black in the dark. We've had two light bulbs blow in the bathroom this weekend, so we thought this one had gone too. In fact, our electricity, which runs off a key, had run out.

Eventually, my 34-weeks-pregnant girlfriend managed to get herself out of the bath and find her way back to bed. I went back to sleep and forgot about the whole thing until I had to clean my teeth in the dark this morning. I hope I was using toothpaste.

Happy Easter. Here's a cute picture from a cute site:

Friday, April 06, 2007

The tooth will out

Ellie's got teeth. Two of 'em!

She'll soon be scoffing Easter eggs. Buffy has made me feel bad by blogging this morning about how no-one has bought her any Easter chocolate. I am planning on buying her an egg. Possibly a Barbie egg. Or My Little Pony. Can you get pink chocolate eggs? Sounds like a gap in the market to me.

When I were a lad I, like many of my peers, dreamed of a giant Cadbury's Creme Egg, an egg so big that you had to scoop out the cream (sorry, creme) with a tablespoon. This is despite the fact that I once threw up a Creme Egg in the doorway of Sainsbury's after trying to eat it too fast. It's one of my earliest memories. Why not try to picture it while tucking into your eggs this weekend?

Have a V Good Friday.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

B-day approaches...

B-day. No, that's not Beyonce day. It's baby day. Birth day. Buffy is 33 weeks gone now, meaning that Quiche is going to be, um, popping out of the oven very soon. I was reading this morning about how this is going to change our relationship so that I support 'the mother' so she can care for the baby, effectively creating a hierarchy that goes something like this:

Top - Quiche
Middle - Sara
Bottom - Me

I suppose I can always lord it over the rats.

Quiche already rules the roost. Yesterday she was demanding that I sing her favourite song to her:

Actually, Bootilicious is Quiche's second fave. Her No.1 is 'I wish I was a punk rocker', which featured on BBC3's most annoying songs countdown. The top three were

1. Celine Dion 'My heart will go on' (yep, it's rubbish but reminds me of Titanic, which I loved, so it doesn't annoy me - much)
2. Crazy Frog 'Axel F' (it doesn't get much worse than this)
3. Robbie Williams 'Angels' (mainly ruined by karaoke, for which I plead guilty)

Sara says her most annoying song is Black Eyed Peas, 'Don't phunk with my heart'. I think mine is either 'Don't worry be happy' or 'Who let the dogs out', even though the latter reminds me of Hastings on a Saturday night. Oh no, hang on, it's got to be 'In the air tonight' by Phil Collins. (Some people are trying to make Phil hip by putting him in video games. It won't wash.)

What's your most annoying song? Leave a comment.

I got my Wii. It's the bestest video game console ever ever ever. It's hard to describe the weird elation you get swinging a white remote control around pretending you're playing tennis. I've had it 24 hours and am addicted. I was up till 1am playing Zelda, which is amazing even though the early stages include bizarre tasks like catching cats and rescuing monkeys.

You'll notice I've got a strip of YouTube vids on the right, using the keywords Wii, rats and Embrace. My favourite clip I've seen so far is this one, which sums up the Wii perfectly:

Seeya later, Roosters.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Viddy up

Excitingly, all my videos are now working. See below.

Shocking news about the British girl who was murdered in Japan. I used to work for her employer, Nova. One of my friends who's still in Tokyo said "there are some reports that the Japanese police were really lax in not holding onto the guy and that he actually absconded while they were there. Don't know if its true but..." So now they're searching for him, looking for a man with no shoes. I've always told people that there is virtually no violent crime in Japan and that it's incredibly safe. I always felt safe, anyway. I hope this incident doesn't put people off wanting to go out there and teach.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wii cuties

I just had to share this video; no not one I created myself although I'm thinking of making my own version using Muffin and Flake. Apparently, some mad scientist has discovered that rats laugh when you tickle them.

Via: VideoSift

I had a moment of eBay madness earlier and ordered a Nintendo Wii. I've been desperate for one ever since I saw one in action on one of my fave sites, GeekBrief TV. I've persuaded Sara that it's going to be great exercise, and, well, we're not going to be going out much in the foreseeable future. Let's hope she doesn't thrash me every time like she does on Singstar.

My sister was telling me the other day that when she was pregnant, during the final weeks, when she was in the bath she could actually see the shape of the baby pressed up against her stomach. This sounds far too freaky to me. It's scary enough when Quiche does one of her super kung fu kicks.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Meeting Sara Sizzle

After this morning's video blogging success (and thanks Liz for saying I sound butch, though I think you have a very strange idea of butch!) I set about creating more cutting-edge content for your viewing pleasure.

In clip one, I interview top blogger Sara Sizzle.

Then we decided to play a word association game. Please let me know if you can work out how she got from donkey to Samuel L Jackson.

There are more videos over at Sara's site.

Twinkle twinkle

OK, this is my last attempt to embed a video blog or vlog or whatever the hell you call it.

If this doesn't work, I'll give up and go back to plain text!

This is Sara entertaining me (and Quiche, who is wriggling a lot at the mo) with her rendition of a children's favourite.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Video nasty

The video clips aren't working! They were fine on Saturday but have all gone down. I think there's something wrong with the site where they're hosted. If you see a blue man, it won't work. You should see a frame from the video, with me or me and Sara.

If it doesn't start working I'll take them all down because it's doing my head in!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hair indoors

Buffy is back, bringing with her bagfuls of posh presents for Quiche and a new headful of hair. I went to Euston to meet her and wondered who the young blonde girl grinning at me and throwing her arms around me was. It was soooo good to be reunited. When you spend 24 hours a day together like we do, I think it does you good to spend the occasional day apart, even if it is crap at the time.

Want to see Buffy's new hair? Here it is. If you can't see the vids it might be because the SightSpeed site is down.

She's a bit tongue tied. This is the girl who says her ambition is to be a TV expert!

I might do another post later. I know, with all these blogs I am spoiling you.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Muffin and Flake Show

In an exciting development for both readers of Chicken's Roost, I've discovered vlogging. In other words, I'm using this cool little programme called Sightspeed to record mini video clips. I know I could use iMovie and YouTube but this involves less messing about. Unfortunately my cheapskate (free) account only allows me to record 30 second clips.

In number one, we meet Flake...

Then I reveal a shocking cheapskate publisher, er, shocker!

Then we meet Muffin.

I think you'll agree, I'm a screen natural.

And is my voice really that camp?

I'm doing this because I'm home alone this weekend, as Buffy has gone to Wolvo to see her family. I really hate being on my own. I'm rubbish at it. I end up eating crap and going a bit mental because I've got no outlet for all the stuff that goes on in my brain, so it just goes whirling round and round until I go bonkers.

I'm watching Eurovision. The nation is voting to choose the UK's entrant this year. I quite like the fact thatthe whole country has accepted we have nul chance of winning, but we give it a go anyway, coz it's a laugh, innit. Brian Harvey sang out of tune and mentioned his car crash sixteen times in a desperate bid for the sympathy vote. The French bird was alright but is French and therefore noone will vote for her. Big Brovaz have a good chance. Justin Hawkins was screechingly good - I still have a soft spot for him, even though he's supposed to be a horrible person with an industrial coke habit.

Ooh, stop press - the two in the final spot are the French bird and Scooch. I can't believe it! And Justin H stormed off in a mood. Blimey.

Let me know if the videos worked for you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Rats' nest

Buffy's third trimester nesting instinct has kicked in. With a vengeance. "You're so messy," she complained while staring at a mountain of her clothes piled up at the end of the bed.

She then proceeded to spend all of Saturday dusting, rearranging stuff, buying some rather cute pink and purple shelves to store her collection of belts (you can never have too many belts), and shouting at the rats. I can't say I blame her: she had discovered holes in two of the only items of clothes that still fit over her bump. She looks lovely even though she's utterly fed up with being pregnant.

It's hard to believe that it's 29 weeks since... well, since Quiche was conceived. (We think it happened on our company sports day.) Our flat is filling up with nappies and nipple cream, baby baths and bouncers. Quiche now has more space in our chest of drawers than I'm allowed. I feel like this is the calm before Hurricane Baby hits. There was a three-year-old on the train today screaming over and over "I want my do-do." I hope Quiche doesn't ever want a do-do.

Here's a picture of another baby, Ellie, on her swing:

Last night I went with Mimo to see my friend Andrew Wallace at the Chuckle Club, a comedy night at the LSE. Andrew is starting on what to me is a terrifying journey: trying to make it as a stand-up. He's very funny, but he was on first so I missed the first five minutes, which was annoying. One of the other comedians was a very scary Canadian called Jason Rouse, who pushes the boundaries of taste so far that just watching him makes you feel unclean. He'll never be on telly. Mimo and I sat in the second row, which was dangerous, but fortunately only the people at the front got picked on by the comics. The fear of being picked out of the crowd usually deters me from going to comedy nights. This fear possibly stems from the time when I was at college and was picked out of the crowd and forced to put a condom on a banana. Or was it a cucumber?

I haven't recommended any books on here lately, so here's one: Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire. When Sarah is 14, she starts a sexual relationship with her English teacher, Mr Carr, a relationship that mixes literary study with lashings of violence: S & M - Shakespeare and Marlowe. Then his wife finds out and he leaves town. Fast forward a few years and Sarah is wildly promiscuous, sleeping with everyone - and I mean everyone, from her best friend to another friend's boyfriend, plus a neverending parade of dangerous strangers. She's searching for the feeling she had with Mr Carr. Redemption appears to be on the horizon in the form of Jamie, who loves her and wants to save her. But then the novel takes an unexpected twist and things get really twisted.

It's a brilliant novel because the author never pulls back or flinches away from extremes. It left me feeling quite dizzy, and now I want to get everyone to read it. If I read a better book this year I'll be shocked.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

You fill up my senses, like a night in a forest...

A prize to the first person to tell me where the headline comes from. Because I can't remember myself.

We've just returned from a week in the woods. Griffon Forest, in Yorkshire. It was just what Buffy and I needed, some time away from rubbish modern life, dingy sarf-east London, rude commuters and the internet.

We stayed in a gorgeous log cabin deep in the middle of nowhere (that's 'just outside York' to be precise) complete with hot tub, four-poster bed, jacuzzi bath, peace, quiet and all the mod-cons you could possibly want for a week of hermitude. I have no idea if hermitude is a real word, but if not I'm claiming it as a neologism.

Normally, I return from holiday with handfuls of tales, most of them stories about what went wrong, but the whole week was a happy blur of laziness and lounging. We spent a lot of time in the water, even more time in bed, quite a lot of time shopping and a fair amount tramping about in the woods. We watched a lot of DVDs, glugged champers in the steamy hot tub while stars twinkled above the treetops (Buffy only sipped; I glugged), fed the birds (blue tits are SUCH bullies) and I went for a long bike ride to a weird village called Strensall which had nothing apart from a pub, a Tesco Express and a military shooting range. Yep - really. Every morning, we were awoken by the distant crackle of machine gun fire.

We ventured into York a few times, running up enormous taxi bills, though apart from visiting the Cathedral (rip-off, £7 to see some stained glass windows and a very disappointing crypt) we didn't do anything touristy. We just bought stuff in high street shops.

We attended the launch of Habitat's new VIP range for kids, though I was able to resist buying the Christian Lacroix monsters. Just. That same night, we went to an Indian restaurant where we tackled the biggest naan bread in the world ever. Look, I'm not kidding:

This was the second most interesting meal of the holiday. The most 'interesting' was on the first night, at Tykes restaurant, a short walk through a muddy field. We had risotto. Imagine eating a large bowl of salt, with some more salt poured on top, swimming in a salt sauce. Hmmm. Afterwards, the waitress offered us a free dessert because there was "something wrong" with the main course. She wasn't bloody kidding. Then we walked home down a pitch black country lane, armed only with two tiny maglites, and Sara had a Blair Witch style freakout. Oh, if only I'd had a video camera with me.

Here's Buffy not having a Blair Witch style freakout:

It was a brill, ace and fab holiday. It had to be, because next time we'll have Quiche in tow. Yep - our last kid-free holiday until Quiche is old enough to be left home alone. So, seven or eight years then...

There will be lots more about the holiday, including more pictures and Sara's very own perspective, on Sara Sizzle.

Finally, I've just discovered an amazing band. They're called The Sounds, they're from Sweden and this is the video for their new single, Tony the Beat. Single of the year so far:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bird flu over the chicken's roost

That laboured pun is my way of telling you I'm ill. Stuck at home feeling lousy and bored. Still, it could be worse. It could actually be bird flu, which I've been going on about for years. Catch Your Death, the novel I wrote with my friend Louise about viruses, is with an agent at the moment; 100 pages in, likes it so far, the usual... I've got everything crossed for some good news but don't expect it. Said Eeyore.

Buffy is 25 and a half weeks pregnant now. That means we have approx 15 more weeks of waiting. I know it's going to be exhausting and bewildering, not to mention bloody painful for Sara, but we're so excited and keen for Quichey to get here. Sara's mood swings have lessened now, although we did have a big row on Clapham Common. As soon as we got off the bus, Buffy announced that she wasn't up to walking anywhere. Which would have been fine if I'd been in possession of a wheelchair or known where on earth I was going. I just knew we were looking for the North Side. "I'm sure this must be it," I insisted, discovering ten minutes and several tantrums later that we were in fact on the south side. It was a classic couple argument, but we made up over a veggie breakfast in a weird restaurant. On the south side.

Clapham is overrated anyway. This is Clapham: a smug well-off couple with a baby in a Bugaboo sitting in Starbucks talking about property prices.

Buffy does look lovely in her fully blooming pregnant mode, as visitors to Sara Sizzle will know.

Some of my favourite people in the world are making comebacks at the moment. My musical hero, Brett Anderson, has a very catchy new single and album coming out. I heard too late about his London gigs but I'm keeping an eye on eBay.

Then there's Louis Theroux, who has a new TV series. The first programme reminded me why I don't gamble.

All I need now is for Donna Tartt to bring a new book out and my cultural life will be complete.

Congratulations to Sue and Darren on the birth of little Elyan. It's Arthurian, you know. Apparently, he does explosive poos. I'm scared.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A womb with a view

Sara Sizzle has already told the world on her blog, but... it's a girl! And here she is, enjoying the best days of her life. Quiche has been kicking a lot recently, mixing in the odd karate chop and headbutt. Ah, mummy's girl. I think you can tell from the scan that she's going to be a beauty, can't you? Look at that nose! Those lips!

In other news, I've put my old house on the market. Anyone wanna buy a 3 bedroom semi in the not-posh part of Tunbridge Wells? Yours for £205k. A snip. Buffy and I have decided we want to run away to Cornwall to live in a house by the sea. This might happen... in about 2012. In the meantime, we're stuck in the world's rudest city. I've become increasingly outraged by how f*cking foul people are in London, epsecially on public transport. I bet if you asked a poll of strangers if they would give up their train seat for a 6-months-pregnant woman with a very prominent bump, they'd all say, 'Of course.' But 99% of them would be lying. What actually happens is that after practically shoving Sara onto the tracks in the rush for a seat, the commuters on our line raise their newspapers and try desperately to appear as if they haven't noticed the pregnant belly in front of them. It's shocking. Women are the worst - they never ever offer their seat. Some men do, very occasionally, but usually only after having an internal wrestle with their conscience for five minutes.

It makes my blood boil. I'm going to bring up quiche to have consideration for others. And to kick people who bother her in the balls.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The God of Small Broken Things

I must have done something to anger the god of inanimate objects this week. My shaver broke, leading to a one-man designer stubble revival. The back keeps falling off my new shiny phone. The Netgear wireless router decided it didn't want to be wireless any more. Worst of all, the washing machine broke down. Now, I wouldn't normally count that as a noteworthy occurrence - I mean who wants to read about broken white goods? - but it did lead to an interesting adventure: going to the launderette.

I haven't been to a launderette since I was at uni. In those days, I would wait until I was down to my very last pair of pants before going. (My last pair of pants, which were a Christmas present, possibly from my mum or Auntie Jo, had a picture of Father Christmas on them saying "Santa Says Relax" and were two sizes too small. I never wore them on a first date.)

I would then have to lug the entire contents of my wardrobe through the red-light district of Stoke on Trent, passing smack-addled prostitutes who would try to tempt me to spend the pocketful of twenty pence pieces I'd been collecting over the last week on them, rather than on washing my smalls. In those days, people used to smoke in launderettes, so your clothes would come out of the machine all fresh; by the time you got them into the tumbledryer they'd smell like you'd just come out of Wetherspoons.

So I wasn't looking forward to going to the launderette today, particularly as Buffy had given me three bin-bagfuls of washing, colour coded and bulging. (Rather like those Santa pants. He bragged.) But apart from a brief moment of panic when I thought someone had stolen my whites (he'd actually put them in a basket; nice of him) it wasn't that bad. Okay, there were quite a lot of poor people there, as one would expect, but I didn't see anything too gruesome. And nobody was smoking. In fact, someone helped me unpack my tumble drier, which was heartwarming if a little scary, almost leading me to shout "Get your hands off my towels."

When I got home, Buffy had rearranged all the furniture. It's a pregnant woman thing, I guess, though I'm glad to report that her modd swings have subsided, apart from a now-customary attack of the housework horrors this morning. She's blooming though. Hehe - she hates it when people say that. But it's true.

There are quite a lot of pictures of us on her Flickr page.

Last week I rifled through my record collection to find some vinyl to flog on eBay. I've got tons of indie and goth records from the nineties, including an extensive Sigue Sigue Sputnik collection. It's quite upsetting, though, to post your prized possessions on eBay - in order to buy nappies - only to find that no-one even wants to pay a quid for them!

However, my Cure Disintegration picture disc is currently going for - wait for it - £51. Some bloke in Spain is desperate for it. And there are still a few days to go. It's very exciting.

Is it me, or has Britain felt apocalypic this week? As well as flooding, gales, pestilence and plague, the whole country went Big Brother bonkers after the Jade/Shilpa racism row. Jade has taken the brunt of it - though I don't believe her "career" is over - but the twosome who really made my blood boil were the loathsome bimbette Danielle and young Pat Butcher lookalike, Jo from S Club. The sight of them guffawing like two gargoyle-henchwomen while Jade screamed abuse at Shilpa will haunt me and makes me feel ashamed to feel British. This country is awash with racists and I actually think Channel 4 have done us all a favour by bringing it into the open in such a dramatic way.

Shilpa to win! Here's a massive picture of her for your enjoyment.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Two thousand and oh oh seven. Innit.

Relax! It's alcohol-free beer.

I'm back. Back! BACK!! Yep, my new year resolution is to blog more often and try to keep up with Sara Sizzle. There we are, above, toasting 2007. I was not on alcohol-free beer, I must confess, but Buffy was.

Next year, apparently, she's getting slaughtered. Guess who's babysitting.

Readers of Sara Sizzle will know that our unborn progeny is known as Quiche. I have a weird feeling that this name might actually stick. Quiche Edwards. I think it looks quite good; I can picture it on a book cover. A book about being teased at school and despising your parents.

Quiche is growing and pushing out Buffy's belly. Buffy looks cuter than ever, I reckon. but I have some words of warning to all men out there. Women get very moody when they're pregnant. VERY moody. And I'm sure this doesn't only apply to redheaded yummy-mummies-to-be. Last night, at about seven, she suddenly announced - after lying in bed for two hours quite happily - that if all the housework wasn't done before the start of Celebrity Big Brother, the whole weekend would be ruined, implying with a steely glare that it would be ALL MY FAULT. She then proceeded to list all the things that are wrong with me:

I flap too much. Apparently, when metaphorically 'in a flap' (ie trying to decide what to do to keep the Sizzle happy) I actually flap my hands. I've never been aware that I do this. But the thought of it makes me, well, get in a flap.

I take ages to do anything. For example, it can take me half an hour to wash up or iron a pair of trousers. But that's because I'm meticulous! And daydreamy. I thought these were nice qualities.

I am insensitive, uncaring, horrible, ugly, smelly... oh, all right, she didn't actually say those last two. That would be ridiculous. I can't tell you all the things she said because they're not suitable for family reading.

I can't blame her - or any woman - for being moody when pregnant though. All that sickness, the backache, the need to hug giant five foot long pillows at night. The other icky stuff that would make most men dial 999 and insist on being nursed 24-7 while crying out for their mummies.

I accompanied Buffy to the hospital yesterday while she had a check up at the maternity clinic. A very pleasant way to spend two and a half hours, I can tell you, surrounded by moody pregnant women, their slack-jawed partners and griping infants. Vicky Pollard was there. Not the Vicky Pollard - maybe her sister. She had a two-year-old with her. This two-year-old had more E numbers in her than a Woolworths sweet department. While we were there, Ms Pollard gave her small child two fizzy drinks, three packets of sweets and a Big Mac. Oh, hang on - sorry. The Big Mac belonged to the sour-faced somehow-pregnant 50 year old sitting next to her. Maybe she wasn't 50. Maybe she'd had a hard life. Then there was the girl who, the midwives indiscreetly revealed, is a hypochondriac who visits the ward every day complaining of chest pains. Let's hope she doesn't have a heart attack next week. Maternity clinics are, I'm convinced, designed to put you off having children. They should open a vasectomy clinic next door, so horrified dads-to-be can get snipped while their partners wait and wait and wait. Oh, if only we were rich enough to go private...

I realise that I'm lapsing into cynical-writer mode, which I don't mean to do. I'm actually very very excited about Quiche's arrival. I've become obsessed with two things:

Trying to flog stuff on eBay to raise funds to pay for Quiche's upbringing. (And maybe go private.)


I've simply got to have a cool buggy to push Quiche round in. I spend hours researching them online, and when people walk past with a buggy, I (and Buffy too; she's just as bad) don't peer at the little nipper - I try to see what make the buggy is. I've decided that my preferred item of baby transportation is going to be the Quinny Buzz. Apparently, you just press a button and it unfolds itself. How exciting is that? It looks cool too. Now, we just need to know whether Quiche is a boy or a girl before deciding on hot pink or electric blue.

And speaking of hot pink...

Buffy made some delicious fairy cakes today. You may remember the giant cookie disaster from last August (which was when Quiche was conceived, though I'm sure there's no correlation).

Today's cakes, created while watching the unbelievably camp Grease 2, were much more successfull and yummy. I'm planning on eating them all and growing my very own bump.

Finally (the iBook is heating my lap so worryingly that I have to go) here are some pics of Ellie, now settled happily into the Australian lifestyle. Elle and I videochat on Skype several times a week, which is great. Well, I chat, she throws bricks around. Not housebricks, I hasten to add.

Bye, Roosters. I'm going to see what my lovely girlfriend is up to, apart from being pregnant.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

No Roost for the Wicked

Sara Sizzle, who's had a very sexy redesign, has been pestering me to update. I'm actually quite happy just to be a character on her blog; a wisecracking sidekick; the Bob to her Vic. But then I guess both my loyal readers would be disappointed... I'm planning to update properly at the weekend, but here's a very quick list of stuff I've done recently:

Got very excited about the Quiche in the Sizzle oven.

Gazed lovingly at my new video iPod, onto which I have uploaded some classic videos including, er, Tainted Love by Marilyn Manson and, um, Doin' It by LL Cool J. Which, ladies, is my theme tune.

Wandered to Wolverhampton - again - and hurried to Hastings.

Fainted after being given a £160 vet bill for an operation on a very small lump on a very small rat. Muffin - you owe us a LOT of entertainment. Get juggling now.

Stoically endured the full force of Hurricane Sizzle when she's feeling a bit hormonal.

Speculated about who's going to be on Celeb BB. Courtney Love? If only...

Video 'chatted' with my beautiful faraway daughter.

Gazed lovingly at my beautiful far-out girlfriend.

Gazed forlornly at my bank statements.

Drunk for two.

Had the best Christmas ever and a very sober new year, which was, nevertheless, great fun with lashings of curry and Singstar.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

2006 was the most bonkers, intense, crazy, emotional, rollercoaster year ever. It was a year of being truly alive. I hope 2007 is a bit calmer - for example, I don't want six different addresses this year - but it will be just as momentous.

Happy New Year, Roosters.