Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A Cardboard Box

June 22nd #20  

Imagination is a wonderful thing. In fact it's probably one of the best gifts we can give you and it won't cost anything, just a bit of thought and time and effort on our part.

There are so many fancy and expensive toys available and these are often pretty good but they can be pretty awful too. I can remember seeing adverts for things when I was young and getting so excited about having this toy or that. And this is the thing. How I imagined it would be was far better than how it ever was.

With a good imagination you can get lost in a cardboard box. It can be a house, a den, a spaceship.  It can be anything you put your mind to. We have a big box at the moment and as usual Kelda jumped straight in it. But it would be big enough for you to play in. We could cut out doors and windows and you could colour it in. It's often as much fun making things as it is playing with them.

Our washing machine was broken and the repairman came today. When he cleaned the filter amongst other things out popped a button. And that reminded me of your grandma's button jar. Now that was a truly amazing thing. It was full of all different buttons. I don't think any two of them were the same size or colour.

With a magic button jar, who needs Jack and the Beanstalk's magic beans? Don't get me wrong, your mum and I can't wait to read you all the fairy-tales and do all the funny voices. But wait until you have your own mum's button jar to play with. It kept me occupied for hours.

I've been saving buttons for a while now but they're not very exciting so I'm going to ask everyone to keep their eye out for fancy buttons for when you're a bit older. And I've been keeping a box of lost things. Your mum thinks I'm a bit crackers but I reckon you'll love playing with it.

We want to do all sorts to get your imagination going. We'll get you in the kitchen baking things, you're mum's a bit better than me at that but we'll all have a go. And wooden spoons and rolling pins, they don't belong in the kitchen; they belong in the games inside your head, along with a good saucepan.

Hopefully, when it's Christmas we'll make it look like it snowed inside and leave footprints for you to follow. When it's Easter we'll have eggs for you to find or at the Seder you'll have to find the afikoman. Your mum also says that there are treasure hunts we'll be able to do and set up. We’ll have a bit of a workshop in the garage/playroom hopefully and there we can take broken things to pieces and see if we can find the little people inside.

Toys are a great thing. I'd be a huge hypocrite if I said anything else. My flat is full of toys. But it's what you do with them or whatever else is around that makes things fun and different. Me and my cousin used to make tents and cars out of camp chairs and sun loungers. The stories you can tell and make up and the games you can play - that's what's exciting. You can be anything you like in your imagination. And if you can learn to fly using that, it will help you with everything else you ever do. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

A Dress Rehearsal

20th June #19

You and me, we now have our first problem. It's a nice problem but a problem nonetheless. And this might be an issue you have with both your parents being English teachers.

The problem is this: how to start each of your entries. I've not really read back over them but I feel like (and those three words are a phrase I picked up off your mum) I'm keep starting them with... Today this and today that. Now any good English teacher knows that opening sentences shouldn't repeat themselves so this is now causing us both an unnecessary problem.

Last night (see, I've changed it) your cousin, Cole, spent the night with us. He's already three so by the time you come along he will already be your big cousin. (Which is hard to imagine because he's so little himself.)

And I suppose him staying was a bit like a dress rehearsal for me and your mum, for when you come along. To be quite honest he was really good and your mum did most of the work anyway but we learnt a few things along the way.

After showering him and baking cakes with him (well your mum did that, I'm still trying to make the most of a lie in whilst I get the chance) we took him to the park. He played on the climbing frame and the slides and then because it was raining he got his trousers (and probably pants) thoroughly soaked.

And that was lesson one for your mum and dad because we hadn't brought any spare clothes so your mum had to dry his clothes off under the hand dryer.

I think, to some extent, you might well have to get used to us both improvising. I don't know about your mum but it's definitely in my blood. Once my granddad and his friend found an old woman collapsed in the bushes. Without too much thought my granddad and his friend nipped down to his garage and reappeared with a wheel barrow, which they bundled her into before wheeling her home.

Whilst your mum was busy drying Cole I had my second parenting lesson and that involved making polite conversation with total strangers who were also parents and probably thought I was.

We watched his little boy walk towards the swings and though his dad shouted, "Cross the road properly." His little boy went through the process of looking left and right without actually looking left and right before crossing the road anyway.

Maybe today was mostly about lessons for me and your mum but him crossing the road reminded me of learning to cross the road. I can remember knowing I had to look left and right without really understanding what that meant. So I looked both ways without seeing anything.

I think this is going to be one of the puzzles that possibly we never solve. There are going to be so many things you need to understand and so many life skills we'll want to teach you and half the time you might not have any idea what we're really on about.

As teachers, I guess me and your mum are more than aware of this anyway. It happens in the classroom all the time. But we're all constantly learning and we'll learn from each other. I'm not overly worried about that.

When we took Cole on the swings, and your mum went on the swing, it seemed to wake you up and your mum had to stop. Maybe you're going to have my motion sickness.
Tonight we went to the pictures (again) to see Jurassic world, and the noise seemed to spur you into action again.

So I think what we've learnt today, other than to be better prepared when we take a little one to the park, is that you're becoming more and more present. And every time you move and every time your mum tells me she feels you, well, for once in my life, I'm genuinely lost for words. I have no way of describing how that makes both of us feel. That's the thing you’re teaching us. That invisible bond which is already there and can never be broken. 


I loved dinosaurs when I was little. I had a diplodocus (which I still have, hopefully there'll be a picture of it for you, maybe even the real thing. I have a curio shelf but maybe I need a special shelf for you for all the things I mention in what I write for you.)

My sister's class must have been studying dinosaurs and so she asked if she could put my diplodocus on their display table. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand I was proud that my dinosaur would be displayed. On the other I worried that it was out of my possession and I might never see him again.

I can remember waiting for her after school with my mum on a Friday. But I wasn't waiting for her, I was waiting for my dinosaur to be returned safely to me.

My grandpa always talked to me about possessions. He said they weren't really worth anything. You can't take them with you so don't worry too much about what you own. What you have inside is more important, he would say. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I love my 'stuff'. Me and my other grandad were both hoarders. You never know when something might come in handy and if you've thrown or given something away, it's not there should you need it. All that being the case, anything I have will be yours anyway.

And maybe Cole staying this weekend also showed me something of this. He stayed without a worry. To stay in a strange house or flat didn't seem strange to him. It took me a long time, when I was little, to feel comfortable staying anywhere but home. It made me sad.

Me and your mum want you to be comfortable staying anywhere. Equally we don't ever want you to feel like you're staying away because we don't want you at home. I suppose it's a funny balance to find. Ideally we want a camper van. We want to be able to go on adventures every weekend if possible. My grandpa used to take my dad camping with his friends quite often and we'd quite like you to experience that.

So it seems much of what I'm telling you is a contradiction today. And that's important too. I suppose there are no hard and fast rules. You have to see what's around you and make a pathway which suits your nature and makes you happy. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Doing the right thing

Friday June 19th #18

Today I want to talk to you about doing the right thing. And this is going to be a difficult thing for you to get your little head around because sometimes it's not clear what the right thing to do is and sometimes it seems more tempting and even more rewarding to do the wrong thing.

I have spent the last two days in London. On the train down one of my colleagues left his kindle on the train.

(A kindle is an electronic book and whether that's right or wrong is something I might talk about later. Your mum is a big fan of kindles. I prefer books. Kindles might have overtaken books by the time you read this which would be a terrible shame.)

Kindles aren't too expensive, equally they're not the type of thing you want to lose. When we were ready to leave London, my colleague decided to check at the station and see if anyone had been kind enough to hand his in.

To his amazement, they had. And this is a lovely and important thing. It restored his faith, a little, in people and it was a pleasant reminder, in a world where often people are dishonest, that there are some good people left.

I must have had but of a habit of putting things in my pocket when I was little. Apparently I once walked out of the doctors will a little yellow man in my pocket. He's one of the strangest little toys I had. He only just looks like a man and he is tiny. My mum didn't make me take him back because he wasn't even a proper toy. 

I think your grandma regretted her decision though. I spent half my time playing with him and half my time losing him. I had a toy box which is probably yours by now, my granddad made it. And my mum once found me upside down in it with my legs hanging out. I was probably trying to find my little yellow man. (Of course, I still have him.  Eventually I found a toy car he could fit in and I kept him in there so I wouldn’t lose him).

When I was at Mrs Pollard's nursery school, I saw a toy car that I liked, so once again I put it in my pocket and took it home. I think I did know that stealing was wrong but I didn't see it as stealing as I'd watched that car and nobody played with it and it didn't really belong to anyone as far as I could tell.  The way I think I saw it was that nobody lived at the nursery so no one really owned the toys which were there.

I don't think I hid it from my mum and when she saw it, to my horror, she made me take it back the next day. This was a hard lesson. I didn't see why I shouldn't have that car and I didn't think I was doing any harm. But it was the wrong thing to do and I returned the car.

At some point later, my mum did buy me the same car. Maybe that was to reward me for doing the right thing and taking it back. I don't know. I still have that car which one day I will show you.

Now life does have its ways of teaching us lessons we don't always want to learn. When I was at university one of my friends was walking down the street and he saw a cyclist ride past. As they rode they dropped some money. He picked it up, thought for a moment about calling the cyclist, then changed his mind and put the sixty pounds in his pocket.

You might not believe me but this is a true story. A couple of weeks later he was out and he lost his wallet. He had sixty pounds in his wallet and he never found it and no one returned it to him.

I have mentioned karma to you before and this might be karma or it might just be coincidence. The truth of the matter is that it's always important to do the right thing. It might seem wrong at the time, it might seem like you're getting something for nothing, you might gain something that you really really want and find it difficult to part with. None of that matters.

If you lost or misplaced something you would hope that someone was good and decent enough to return it. You should also do the same thing. Always treat people how you would expect to be treated and always try to help out. You don't know the impact of someone losing something and not having it returned could have on their lives. Equally returning it will make them feel a little better about the world, just like my colleague. And it's these little acts which happen occasionally, which make this life that you now have, so very very special. 

The toughest battle

Wednesday 16th June - 16 weeks / 4 months today #17

You can suck your thumb. You can move about for five minutes and if the placenta is at the back, some mums can feel it now.

Today I was thinking about why we do things and who we do things for. I started off writing this for you. I started writing it in my head long before I dared put anything actually down. I'd say on paper but this is an electronic note book. Such are the times. Who knows what you'll be writing or reading on by the time you can. And this is for you and always was and always will be.

But the more I write the more I see how much other people are involved. Some who know and some who don't. And I wonder if I'm writing it for them too. Or maybe I'm just writing it for me and none of the other people matter. 

And maybe this is today's lesson. Whatever we do, whatever I do, whatever you do has long lasting effects outside of what we first realize. And these can be good and they can be bad and regardless they ricochet around and between the world we inhabit and the people we live beside. And just maybe we need to be a bit more mindful of this.

Today's chapter of writing started because I was thinking about when I had my tonsils and adenoids out. I was remembering the doctor - Gandhi I think he was called- there's some irony there if he was. I can remember seeing him some time before the operation. He was sitting behind a big desk. But everything seemed big to me, I was only four.

I remember his hands. They seemed strange, alien like, and I think this is maybe because this is a mixture of memories. I knew he was a doctor. I had some notion that he was going to operate on me and maybe he examined me and what I'm actually remembering are those strange rubber surgical gloves which I’d probably never seen before.  

I can remember the nurse trying to put a band on my wrist and kicking out and kicking out not wanting to wear it. I've no idea why. This must have been instinct. Knowing or sensing something was about to happen that maybe was unusual. Maybe we are always aware of a little bit more than we realise. I think I kicked a table over. 

I can remember being taken to surgery. I think they gave me a piggy-back. I can remember being told to count back from ten and getting to about eight before everything swirled and I fell asleep.

I can remember coming round, vaguely. Everything felt upside down, I felt dizzy and confused but I couldn't understand why. I think there was blood. 

Mixed with this memory is my new 'brown teddy' in a box and a room that me and my mum stayed in. And a track of some sort that I could build a bit like a jigsaw and it made a road which I could play with my toy cars on. I think I had a new fork lift truck to play with.

In hindsight I think this was something my mum and dad bought me to settle me or make me feel better. And I'm going a little round the houses here, but that's what I'm trying to say. 

Hidden behind all these thoughts, all these slightly scrambled memories, are my parents. They must only have had a little bit more of an idea of what was going on than I did, maybe they were scared and worried too. And that thought has only really struck me now. Nowhere in my memory is a sense of fear or worry or doubt. Only love and security and safety. And trust in these two people who were only as human as everyone else but never let me know it. They were quiet super heroes.

(Both your grandmas and your mum are reading this as I write it, piece by piece. Grandma Shirls just told me that my Grandpa paid for me to have my operation privately because they couldn't afford it and they wanted the best for me. I never knew he'd paid or that they couldn't afford it which kind of proves what I'm telling you today.)

The scariest thing of all, and probably the thing I'm looking forward to the most, is that this is what me and your mum will be for you. And if we do it well enough you probably won't even notice.

We will make your life magical. We will eat up as many of your fears as we can. We will take the pain and the hurt away as much as is possible. We will feel as much if not more of what you feel and we will be with you every step of the way, even when you don't notice. And most importantly of all we will help you to smile and laugh and be happy. 

And you know, it's kind of scary for me and your mum, and we don't really know what we're facing or what's ahead, but you must always know, wherever possible and sometimes when it's not, we'll be a little bit ahead of you, ironing out your road forward and trying our best to smooth your way, not because we have to but because we want to. 

I think the most remarkable thing is the impact you've already had on my life. You're already making me look at things differently and you haven't even taken your first breath of this world's air.

Your gran said to me the other day, your baby tugs at your heart strings from the moment it's born and carries on doing it for the rest of your life and I'm starting to get a sense of that already.

I think we all struggle with some of the big questions in life, why are we here? What is our purpose? What are we to do with a world we didn't choose to be a part of? I'm starting to understand these big questions a bit more clearly since your appearance. 

You have already fought one of the toughest fights you'll ever face, to be you and to have your unique make up. And you did all of that with asking any questions at all. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

A potted history (part 1)

A Potted History (part 1) #16

So this is a bit of a history lesson for you. I think it's important you know where my side of your family come from. I'll try get your mum to do the same.

It seems most of my family came from Russia. Between 1880 and 1920 many Jewish people fled from Russia because of the pogroms sweeping Eastern Europe. This is when my mum's side of the family came to this country.

My dad's side of the family came over a bit earlier in the 1860s. Maybe they sensed the tension. They were originally called Benedick but somewhere amidst the chaos the name got changed. I was always told someone's handwriting had been misread on a passport but no-one seems to know for sure. They came from a mixture of Poland and Russia but those countries weren't separated back then.

Lucky though. Your mum says if it was still Benedick she'd not have been so keen for you to have my surname. But she likes Benedict. It sounds more catholic than Jewish.

Families back then were huge. On my dad's side, your great grandma was one of six and your great grandad was one of nine.

My mum's side also came from Russia. She seems to think her granddad's family came over one at a time. So the parent came with one child and then another and another. It's almost impossible to imagine what the world was like then for me and you're five generations away from that.

I knew my great grandad. He was called David and I used to go and get my pension (sweets) with him when he collected his. I must have been around 3 or 4 when he died but I can remember him. I can also just about remember the day he died though I didn't really understand what was going on. My mum and grandma were crying in the hall. This is part of life though and he lived a good life.

Great Grandad David fought in the First World War and had false teeth because apparently he couldn't be bothered with the dentist. He had old blue-green tattoos up and down both his arms, I think they were ladies, and he used to wiggle his arms and tense his muscles to make them dance. I can remember never being able to see them dance but maybe that's where my fascination with tattoos started.

My mum says he always regretted having tattoos and always wore long sleeves. I hid my tattoos from my mum for a long time. But that's another story.

When your great granddad David arrived in this country people used to throw stones at him for being Jewish. This world you're coming into is a tough place. People can be very intolerant. It is changing slowly.

It's important that you know where you come from for this very reason. It's too easy for people who are comfortable to look at other people and pick on them or laugh at them or have little understanding and be drawn into the wrong views on immigration.

What people forget is that nearly everyone has migrated from somewhere. The world doesn't have dividing lines allowing some people to live here and forbidding others to live there. It is people who make those boundaries and that's a very wrong thing to do.

My mum's dad's family also came from Russia. He had five brothers and a sister. He was originally called Eli Narunski but he and his family all changed their names. They wanted to fit. He became Eddie Newton. And though that is a nice name, if you are boy, we have called you after his original name because it is a name to be proud of and we don't need to run and hide as people any more.

His mum, Bobby, only spoke Yiddish and his Dad, Zadie spoke broken English but couldn't write. To think how far we have come. Your mum and dad are both English teachers!

It is some of your granddad's last words that I have tattooed on my shoulder. Zay Geshunt - stay well, be healthy , goodbye.

My grandma, his wife, is called Anita. Her family also came from Russia. If you're a girl then you're Elsie Anne and that's partly where your middle name comes from. Hopefully you'll get to meet her.

My grandma 'Neets' was so warm and lovely. In her eyes I could do no wrong and I can remember curling up to sleep on her knee and sleeping through the afternoon. When I woke up, my dad would be home from golf and I'd be feeling all confused as I didn't quite know where I was. When I had a bath she used to clean in between my toes and it used to tickle and make me laugh.

This is part of your story. This is some of where you come from. It's just my side and your mum has her own story which is the other half which makes you. For all these things to happen to bring me and your mum together to make you is quite an incredible thing. You should always try to remember that. 

Going First

Monday 15th June #15

Already I've written more than I probably thought I would and your mum keeps saying keep some back so there's something to say for your sister or brother.

That's a big thought to hold. You're not even here yet and in the back of our minds, if we are lucky enough, we'd like you to have a brother or sister. In fact I’d like there to be six of us but your mum says that's a bit too much and she's probably right.

There is something to be said about the order of things though and how it means life must work. Someone always has to come first and someone always has to come last. With all the will in the world and however much people try to make it different, that is how it must be. It is our drive to stand out as human animals, to make things better and move constantly that helps us survive.  If we were all the same, which is how some people think we should be, we would probably have died out by now.

You will be born first. That is now out of all of our control. And with that, there will be a lot of firsts. You will always be our first child and we will learn a lot of things together.

It also means you will have to go first at some things all of your life. And at some point you're going to be a big brother or a big sister.

Neither me or your mum were ‘first’ like that. We were both second. For me, it made things easier. I could watch all the mistakes my big sister made and tweak them. That meant more often than not that she got into all the trouble and I managed to avoid it.

But also my parents learnt, so probably changed how they dealt with things. And I'm a boy and she's a girl and though it shouldn’t, that makes a difference too.

All these things are going to be issues we'll have to deal with together as a family and we're really looking forward to that.

The flip side is that you are first. You'll probably get the bigger bedroom. You'll get to stay up later when your brother or sister has to go to bed. You get to be the first and that's a really special thing.

Years ago, when my mum was going through all her baby stuff, she had a book that she filled in about her first baby, your aunty. There wasn't one for me though. I can remember thinking about it but it didn't really bother me. I kind of get it.

Everyone says things are different between your first and second baby. With you, for a lot of the time, especially when you're newly born, we won't know what on earth is going on; we won't know what has hit us.

By the time your brother or sister comes along we'll have been through it once so we'll be better prepared. But you won't and suddenly you'll have to learn to share. That's going to feel strange for you, for our attention will have to be split between you and you'll be used to having it all.

So this that I am writing, it is for you but it's for your sister and brother too. And I like to write so I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say when they come along.

Learning to share will be no bad thing. Having someone to look out for and look after will also be a good thing. And having someone who is your own blood, there is nothing like that in the world.
One day maybe you'll sit with your brother or sister and share this with them. Maybe it will remind you of everything you've been through together and it'll tell you a little bit about me and your mum before either of you were here.

Me and my sister fought and fought when we were younger and I really hope you two aren't like that. But we are close now and it's really nice to have someone who comes from the same place as you and knows and understands pretty much everything you've been through. Our memories of certain things are very different but they are shared memories and you don't get anything quite like that from anyone else.

Sometimes the world won't seem fair and decisions won't seem fair and you'll feel like everything and everyone is against you.

When I was little, my sister had a brown and white teddy and I really loved it and would have done anything to have it. I have no idea why that particular teddy captured my attention but it really did.

At some point your grandma and granddad bought me a huge inflatable Donald Duck. I don't know where it came from but it was nearly as big as me. I liked Donald but I loved Paula's brown teddy so I couldn't believe my luck when she agreed to swap Donald for the teddy.

My mum, she always had a thing about swapping. She didn't like it for some reason. She always said we shouldn't swap things with each other or with other people. She said we'd always regret it.

We went ahead and swapped anyway and I got to take Brown Teddy to bed with me. Now I had a whole army of teddies in my bed and they all had their special sleeping place, but Brown Teddy got pride of place, next to me.

I don't know what it was about soft toys. I definitely had a thing for them and they stayed in my bed when I was far too old to have them. I think it's my imagination. I believed they were alive and they could think and feel and secretly a part of me still thinks they do.

Anyway, the next morning I awoke, still proud of Brown Teddy being mine. This delight wasn't to last. At some point during the night poor Donald had burst. My sister had told your grandma what had happened and I had to give her 'my' teddy back. I was left with nothing which didn’t seem fair at all. Actually, looking back it still doesn’t seem fair but there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Your grandma is amazed that I still remember this and can't believe that it has stayed in my memory for so long. I think I’ve always had a strong sense of injustice. She must have known somewhere inside because when I was four and had my tonsils and adenoids out, my mum and dad bought me my own brown teddy to make me feel better.

He wasn't the same but I still loved him and I have him now whereas Paula's brown teddy has gone. I always knew he'd have been better off with me and I think he did too.

We all make mistakes. We all get things wrong. People sometimes do things that seem really unfair but when it's your family they always do it for the right reasons. Whatever me and your mum do, we will always be trying to do the right thing by you and your brother or sister. 

The world changes quickly

Sunday June 14th #14

When I first showed your mum this, she thought it was about caterpillars. And maybe by the time you read this you'll have grown some butterflies of your own and you'll understand the connection. At first I didn't think it had anything to do with caterpillars but the more I think about it, the more it does.

Change happens quickly my little one. And I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. 15 weeks ago you didn't exist. And now you do. And more changes have taken place within you, from nothing to something, than the changes I want to talk to you about. I suppose, as adults, we don't really look at things that way. Maybe we're not quite ready.

When my grandparents were little the aeroplane was only just being invented. If you bought a new car they brought it round to your house. There were still toilet blocks at the end of the street. Television was in black and white and there were only a couple of channels. Not everyone had telephones, mobile phones were a thing of science fiction, If they'd even been thought up yet.

In my life I have seen technology set the world alight. There were no videos when I was young. Then there was Beetamax, a video with a plug in remote control. Now videos don't even exist anymore.

I can remember our first computer. It was a ZX81 and it had a 1k memory and a 16k plug in pack. The keyboard didn't even have buttons and the display wasn’t in colour but was black and white. We went round to someone who your granddad knew to have a look at theirs before we bought it. I can remember how seeing it felt. It was like looking at the future.

In fact, I can still remember before computer games and even before Atari, when you had a box you plugged into your telly and there were maybe three games built in. In one of them, probably the most famous, you had two lines (bats) and a square dot (the ball) and they called it 'tennis'. Google it. I can remember a life before Google. I wonder if Google will even exist by the time you are old enough to understand.

I can remember the first play station and how seeing it was like seeing the impossible. Before even that I can remember my first computer lesson at school. There was a room full of BBC computers. They don't exist anymore. You could send your friend a message and were amazed when they received it pretty much straight away and they were sitting opposite you.

When I started teaching there was no internet or email. I hand-wrote work sheets. And it all changed within about five years and we all changed with it.

When I was little, I used to like taking things to pieces. Once my granddad asked me if I wanted to learn how to make a telephone. We took a radio to pieces and unravelled the copper wire. He said, "Put one piece to your ear, I'll unravel it and walk round the other side of the house, put the other end to my mouth and then you'll be able to hear me."

I did as I was told. Waiting to see how telephones worked. He walked around the other side of the house and after I'd waited and put the copper to my ear, he shouted, "Hello."

I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I'm not sure he really knew how much he was teaching me. The world changes fast. I can't imagine the technology, the things that will happen in your life, which you will take for granted whilst never wondering what the world was like before. These things happen. Life changes quickly. Don't ever be scared my little one. And don't ever get too carried away to stop once in a while and look over your shoulder in amazement at the things people have managed to do with what's around them.

But also remember that this world is precious and all the things in it are precious. Don't ever sacrifice a quick fix for the things that might be lost, the animals that might suffer and the people who might suffer in the long run. Technology is a wonderful thing. So are history and people and thought. Don't be in too much of a rush to get somewhere without remembering how you got there and where you and all of us came from in the first place.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Digging deep

Saturday June 13th #13

Today I want to talk to you about people and their funny relationship with money. Now Yorkshire people have a reputation for being a little bit careful with their money, as do Jewish people. So you've got a tough start. Except it's not really like that. And money drips through my fingers more easily than maybe it should. I tease your mum about being more Jewish than me.

Your great grandpa Charles used to tell a story about his friend Freddy. If ever they went out for a meal, Freddy would always ask what my grandpa was going to order, then order the same or something of equal value. He couldn't bear the idea of having to pay a little bit more or less than the person he was eating with.

Your grandma always says your granddad is too quick to the bar. Always the first to be buying a round. And I never think that's a bad thing. But it is if you're buying the drinks and no one buys you them back.

As you grow up you'll learn these things. When you start going out with your friends, you'll have just enough money for what you need and you'll need to manage that.

As you get a bit older, earn a bit of money yourself, hopefully you won't have to worry so much. You'll order and your friends will order and you'll split the bill.

There are times when your bill should be more and you pay less. There are times when your bill should be less and you pay more. Once you have enough money, and I don't mean to burn or to waste, I mean enough to live on, then money shouldn't be the issue.

You go out to eat with your friends because they're your friends. You go out for the conversation and the fun and to enjoy the time you spend together. You go out because that's what you're doing.

And if, when you go out, you spend most of your time watching what everyone else eats and comparing it to what you have, maybe you shouldn't go out at all.

What I've learnt is, and your mum's the same as me, is that when I am short or times are hard, my friends help. And when they go out and are struggling or finding things difficult, I help them. It's always a circle. Everything comes back round. It never hurts to help someone out, that's what friends are about.

The hardest thing, sometimes, is realising that the people who keep a little check in their heads, keep count or score, measure whether you paid or they paid, probably aren't friends at all.

Where we are is where we are. Things can be tough enough as they are. My lesson to you here is, pay your way, put your hand in your pocket, don't let friends or anyone else for that matter, manipulate you and don't manipulate them either. Some people call this Kama. I just think it's the way of the world. Most of the time, you must do what is right. And you won't go far wrong.

Slaves to Time

Friday June 12th #12

I suppose at some point I should tell you about hankies, odd socks, parties and OCD. I think probably all of us like our routine and some of us slip in to patterns more comfortably than others. So much so that the doctors made a scale for it and sometimes parents hope their children will be higher up on the scale than they should be just to justify the things that they see which couldn't possibly be their fault.

Routine is something me and your mum are going to have to think about very carefully. We'll need to get you into a sleep routine and an eating routine and a bath routine.

And that suits me fine because I live my life in routine and patterns. Routine can be a good thing. It often this makes things easier rather than more difficult. We just hope the routines we give you help and don't make things awkward or make you awkward. And the slightest things can have lasting effects.

The Benedict's and the Newton's, so your family on my side, are handkerchief people. It's an old fashioned thing and not so many people use them anymore. One thing you'll definitely learn is, the world is divided into...
And it could be Elvis or the Beatles or Oasis or Blur or it could be hankies or tissues.

I was taken by the hanky posse. Some people think hankies are disgusting. They want to know how you can carry snot around in your pocket all day. But I don't understand tissue people. For a start they never have tissues when they need them and often sneeze into their hands. When they do have tissues they leave bits of them everywhere. And what do you do with a used tissue if there's no bin around? Put it back in your pocket. I think you'll be a hanky person.

Your mum is a bit more awkward than that that. She uses whatever is available, my granddad would have called her a 'joiner' and that does no good for my routines.

Whichever side of the bed I sleep on, she wants to, wherever I sit on the settee she wants to sit and she even wanted to share my hanky. How disgusting is that?! This will all change when you arrive though. You'll sleep and sit where we need you to and I suppose I'll have to fit around that.

For years I had to carry a hanky in each front pocket. And it's not even like I had a runny nose. I like things to be even and I couldn't be weighed down in one pocket and have nothing in the other, which would make no sense at all. I couldn't have one padded pocket and one empty. It would be uneven. It would feel like the world was going wrong.

The world you’re about to join has many things happening to make it feel like it isn't going wrong. To make it feel like we have some kind of control. One of these things is time keeping.

When I was little my parents were slaves to time. They still are.  And don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful thing. They are reliable. If they say they will be there, they will be. On the dot. And sometimes before you've finished drawing the dot and most definitely before you have time to colour it in.

It is becoming a bit of a problem though. Your granddad gets so on edge now when he has to be somewhere that he ends up being so early that it's ridiculous.

Possibly because of this I have a funny relationship with time keeping.  At parties I was always the first to get picked up. And though I didn't ever have to worry about whether my parents had forgotten about me, games were still going on and I had to leave whilst they were unfinished. I always felt like I was missing something. Probably I was just enjoying myself and sometimes it's best to leave whilst you're having fun rather than waiting until the fun is over and wishing you were somewhere else.

I would also be the first to arrive. At everything. And that meant waiting around for everyone else to get there whilst doing nothing.

Now I'm pretty much always late. I think maybe it was intentional at first but I don't have to practice it any more. I'm not sure how we'll manage this with you. Me and your mum haven't really talked about it yet. Ideally we'll be somewhere in the middle. What I've heard about babies is that everything takes twice as long so maybe our time keeping will go to pot completely.

I do think though that rushing around always worrying about this time and that is stressful. Most of the time, time isn't important. You can spend so much time worrying about being on time or being late that you don't get to enjoy what it is your actually doing. And that's the important thing. Enjoy the moment. Don't worry so much about the next thing or the last thing. Make the most of everything.

And you might wonder how this links to socks. Like hankies, I always had to wear matching socks. I wasn't comfortable if my socks were odd. This is a bit like magical thinking and all humans are a bit like that. For some reason we think things like if our socks don't match our day will be bad. It's ridiculous but it seems to make sense at the time.

Not long ago, and remember, I'm 41 now; I decided to not worry so much about matching socks. I dared myself to wear odd socks. It made me feel awkward and uncomfortable but I pushed ahead anyway. And, surprise surprise, the world didn't end, my day didn't go bad. Everything was okay. It was just the same as always.

What I'm trying to tell you is that routine is important, being organized is important. Equally it's very easy to get bogged down with things which aren't so important and that can stop you making the most of all that is around you. It's easy to make changes, even though sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world. Never be scared to change things or challenge things. If worst comes to worst, you can always change them back again.

Hit it with a hammer

Thursday June 11th #11

I was thinking, today, about patience. Actually I was really thinking about a time when I hit my dad, accidentally with a golf club.

The Benedict's are, amongst other things, known for a quick temper and a little bit of impatience. As you will be a Benedict this is probably an important piece of information. Most of the time, your mum is very calm so there is a chance you might have just the right balance. There again she can be fiery too so if you get a bit of that from both of us, It's quite likely that you're going to be, well, let's say passionate at the very least.

My dad is a golfer. I never really took to it. There was never enough action for me, there's too much standing about and I could never quite work out how you knew where you were supposed to aim.

Anyway, when you're little and you're growing up you sometimes get opportunities to visit parts of the adult world you don't normally get to see. Maybe you get to go work with your mum or dad. Or maybe you just hang out with them whilst they do their thing.

To some extent, in those situations, you're probably meant to be seen and not heard. But that's okay. It's a bit like spying.

A few times I got to caddy for my dad. I quite liked the golf club. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere and a bit like another world with different rules and special clothes and secret rooms like the nets and the locker room.

I think my dad liked having me there too. It was like our secret time together. When you're here we'll do loads of things together as a family but there will also be times when you nip out with your mum or nip off with me and we'll have lots of secret adventures. Though probably not at the golf club.

So we were out on the golf course and I was watching my dad. I didn't know how he was playing because I didn't understand the rules of golf yet. And this is the thing about life. There are lots of different types of rules. There are easy and obvious rules. There are rules set by the police. And there are other rules which you have to figure out as you go along.

At some point I decided to swing the golf club my dad had just handed me to put back in his bag. I think what happened next could be blamed on my dad. I didn't know the rules, no one had explained them to me and as yet my common sense radar hadn't quite kicked in. Maybe he should have told me, explained how golf worked. Maybe I should have been a bit more aware of what was going on and more particularly who was standing near me.

I'd had a few golf lessons, so pretending I was a professional golfer, I teed myself up and swung the club, ready for hole in one. What I didn't know was that my dad was standing right behind me, close enough to feel the full force of my back swing.

I can remember that he just about managed to protect his face with his hands as I cracked him with the club. And it must have hurt. It must have really hurt. I can't really remember what he said but I can remember the colour of his face and the look that passed across it. I could pretty much see all the words he wanted to release and hear all the things he was going to say and I didn't really have any defence. Sorry didn't seem to quite fit or prevent or heal what I had just done. I wanted to run away and hide but there was nowhere to go.

Somehow my dad managed to control that Benedict temper that I mentioned earlier. His face remained a kind of crimson but with a skill I don't think I've seen before or since, he kept all the swear words and curse words inside his head. He maybe mumbled something about looking around before you swing a club but I don't ever remember him mentioning it again. He got on and played his golf. I wasn't in trouble even though I must have hurt him. Coming to think of it though, I'm not sure I ever caddied for him again.

And this is what parents do for their children. This is what he did for me and what we'll do for you. We know what it was to be young, me and your mum. We know what it's like when everything is new and you wonder, what'll happen if I do this, or what happens if I put this into that and hit it with a hammer, without even considering that there might be consequences.

When I was little I tried to take a ship out of a bottle and a sea horse out of a piece of amber. On both occasions I ended up with nothing and wished I hadn't done it but this is how we explore the world. This is the way we learn. Even if sometimes we have to learn it twice.

And you will do silly things and you will make mistakes. And you might hurt us accidentally or on purpose. Whatever you do, me and your mum, we'll be there for you. To dust you off, to pick you up, to put you back on track and help you understand the rules of this funny little world.

You will have to learn to be accountable for your actions, to recognize your mistakes, own up when you've done wrong. These are all parts of life. Maybe the most important lesson is that when it all goes wrong, or feels like it has, which can happen so easily, when everything inside screams and your instincts make you want to run away and hide,  it's nearly always best to face what's happened. Most of the time, nothing is quite as bad or as broken as it seems.

I got your grandma to show your granddad this bit. My dad says he forgives me as time heals all wounds. This is what happens to your sense of humour when you get older.  In the grand scale of things, it won't be too long until I'm saying things like that to you. And that's a very strange thought for me to hold in my head.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Capture and remember

Wednesday 10th June #10

Today you are 15 weeks old. I had a message from a friend last night. I wrote a poem, which sometimes I do, and sent it to a few people who like that sort of thing.

You have to
Think things
And tell them
To the wind
Or dig a
Deep and wide
And shout them
Into the earth
In the hope
That it might
Swallow up
Whatever it is
You need
To scream about
Before someone
And tries to
It back on
In reality
Every day
Is the same
The sun rises
The sun sets
And however much
It may feel
That this
Doesn't happen
Or it happens
It is but a wave
And the ocean
Is the same
There's a storm
Or not
It's still
Just water
Which can
Crush you
Or soothe
In equal
Quite beyond

He replied with: Nice one, you wouldn't believe  how apt for today!

And the strange thing about my poems is that they often have that effect. But that isn't what I'm writing to you about today.

His girlfriend had her baby last night. It was born just short of 24 weeks. That's very early and only time will tell. They also nearly had another baby but that didn't ever get born.

I think what I am learning is how precious and fragile life is. Not that I didn't know that before, but it is very different now.  And consequently how precious you are and how lucky we have been so far.

This life we live is very busy. There often isn't time to take real notice of what is happening, what is going on. And part of that is the beauty of living and part of that is also the sadness of living so quickly.

We don't always get time to really see what is going on. To cherish the beauty and the magic. To feel and appreciate it. Because so many things happen so much of the time that's it's hard to keep track.

There was a crash last week on a ride at Alton towers. A 17 year old girl lost her leg. At that moment, her whole life changed forever.

And what we don't realise is that these important moments aren't marked just by the big events. Every little event is life changing in its own way. And it's so hard but we must, and you must, do our very best to capture and remember as many moments as possible. Big or small.

At 15 weeks apparently you can now hear, and you've started to be able to wee. And when we look at your mum's tummy, it's hard to believe you're there at all. But you are.

Today I talked to you. I don't know really if you can hear me at all. Maybe the vibrations. Maybe you can. Maybe you can't.

Apparently you'll know our voices (me and your mum) before we even see each other. And your mum said, after I'd spoken to you in her tummy, that just maybe you moved a little.

Like I said, maybe you did and maybe you didn't but these are moments of magic. And this is a special one. But all moments are magic and you should try your best to see that in all the good and bad that will happen in your life. And maybe don't see any of it as good or bad. Just one big adventure that you should enjoy and make space for as often as is possible.

Your mum changed the game a bit tonight. She's prone to doing that. She made me add the poem and she made me read this to you. So this entry, somewhere in your consciousness, you've already heard. How crazy is that?

What's inside you


On Saturday me and your mum were going to an ideal homes exhibition. It's where we bought the Alice in Wonderland pictures which will hang on your nursery wall. I hope by the time you read this you have happy memories of those pictures.

As we were driving we passed quite a few people on their way to 'Parklife'. Parklife is a kind of festival which takes place in Manchester. It's not really a festival, more of an event which takes place in Heaton Park.

We were laughing because the kids who go really dress up as if they're festival goers. With kind of hippie clothes and wellies.

Those kind of festivals took place in the 60s, before even my time. And people dressed that way because of a political movement and changing ideas. The idea of peace was offset against the ideas of war which had been happening across the world.

Parklife has nothing to do with any of that but I guess the younger people see how the older people behaved and try to copy as they find their own feet and try to make their own print on the world.

So me and your mum were talking. And we wondered how you would turn out. Neither me or your mum are particularly image conscious. That doesn't mean we don't take care of our appearance (your mum probably more than me) but we're not massive victims of social pressure and we hope you won't be bothered by these things either.

This doesn't mean we don't know how it feels to want to fit in. I can remember when I first started realising about fashion and how other people see you.

My mum used to always buy my school bags from the market. They'd be a pretend make and it didn't mean anything to me then. They'd also be cheaper which is why my mum bought me them.

Anyway I suddenly became conscious of this bag, I'm not sure why. I didn't want a bag from the market any more. I didn't want to stand out by having something so cheap. I didn't want to stand out for being fancy either. I think I just wanted to fit in.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to fit in. But this is a hard lesson also because you shouldn't just do things because other people do, either. You have to learn to be your own person and do things because they are right for you. Sometimes that makes you stand out, sometimes it makes you blend in.

As long as you do what's right for you and not because other people make you, or pressure you, then you'll be okay. Of course that doesn't count if me and your mum tell you to do something- most of the time we'll be right there, even when we're wrong!

My mum didn't buy me a bag from the market that year. She bought me a bag from a proper shop. I think maybe she took me along to choose it. I'll never forget that school bag. It was a Head bag and it was black with purple and green. I felt on top of the world with that bag. I was proud of it. I don't think anyone at school ever commented one way or another but it made me feel better and sometimes that's what's important.

And how times change. I just sent your mum this to read over and by the time she was at school, 10 years later, Head bags had become, in her words, 'snide'. Fashion and trends are fickle and they change fast. What is inside you will be with you forever.

Friday, 17 July 2015

This is love ...


This is a funny thing and really I don’t know how to measure it. We're staying at my mum and dad's. You'll know them as grandma and granddad. And all my life they stayed in a room together.

Tonight me and your mum sleep in your aunties room, my sister, and my dad sleeps in my old room, and my mum sleeps in their room.

And I'll tell you this; I don't know what to make of it. This is love. This is a thing, as yet I haven't learnt to understand and probably never will, and you'll probably spend your life trying to make sense of it.

You wonder how you'll match, who you'll match with. I can remember being maybe ten or twelve. I used to go on adventures every Saturday morning with my granddad. We'd talk about all sorts but often I'd ask him about love. Maybe I was just starting to get interested in girls or was at least toying with the idea.

And I'd ask him how you met girls and how you'd know it was the right one. I think maybe I thought the first one you met and liked would be the one forever.

It just doesn't work like that. It's so hard to explain. I think my granddad said 'you'll just know." I didn't really know what that meant.

He was right though. You do just know. Sometimes you nearly know but it's not quite right. And you have to go through all of this. I suppose that's what makes it all the more special. Though it doesn't always feel like that when you're going through it.

Me and your mum knew. You can ask her that. Sometimes, as your mum said today, someone will break your heart, and I think she thinks that somehow girls feel that worse than boys, but that isn't quite true. That hurt, that pain, you have to learn it, for some reason, to live with it, to make it make sense. And those parts feel like the worst times in the world. You can't concentrate and you think you'll never get through it. But you will and you do.

And then you find it. And it's everything you thought of and more and it's also totally not what you thought it might be and it's more than that- you're grandma just interrupted my flow- and then

Well. This is all for you to learn. And me and your mum will be there to dust you down and stand you back up again and wipe your tears and share your smiles.

And me and your mum get to learn a new type of love too. We get to love you in a way we've never loved before and we know that already.

Your mum has a special bond with you because you’re growing inside her and I have a special bond with you too. We can both feel you already and you're the most important thing in the world and you always will be.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Fight or Flight


Today maybe I thought I'd talk to you about anger and aggression and temper. And they're all different things.

Last night there was a bit of a to do with one of my friends and me. And your mum thinks maybe I've got too bad a temper. And sometimes maybe I have.

But it made me think, as often you make me do. About growing up and where this all comes from. When I was little I was soft. Proper soft. I think I cried too easily and things upset me.

And somewhere along the lines I learnt to toughen up. I can remember this boy at shull. Kids hung around as kids do and he was so full of himself. I thought he must be so much older than me. We stood in a circle as children do and I guess he probably bullied and picked on people. As we stood in this circle each one of us probably hoped he wouldn't pick on us and were secretly relieved when he picked on someone else. He never picked on me but I worried every time I went to shull, in case he might and I was too scared and ashamed to tell my dad.

As a child there are more times than there should be when you feel like that. And as an adult, if you're not careful people can make you feel a bit like that but your footing is somehow different. Or at least mine is now.

I knew, in my heart of hearts, I knew that at some point I’d have a run in with this bully boy. I didn't know how I knew, or really what I knew or what it meant, but I knew I'd have to face him at some point. Maybe this is how you learn your instinct.

When I went to middle school everything was strange. And I didn't really know anyone. There were only two classes in our year, maybe sixty kids in all, and all by nature of being Jewish, fairly soft. The tough kids we'd all encounter later.

Low and behold who was in my class but that bully boy. Jxxxx Kxxxx he was called. And he was a show off in only a way that kids can be. When you grow up they become clever heads or know it alls or loud mouths and somehow they're less powerful. It's as though, once you're a grown up you can see behind the bravado, you can see the fear that they're trying to protect themselves from, and they're not so scary. Or at least not as scary.

So I knew we would tangle and I kind of braced myself for it. He already didn't seem as big as he used to and there were no proper fights in this soft ghetto anyway.

It happened one day. I can't really remember the details. We were in a classroom and I guess we'd all spent a few weeks weighing each other up. It's kind of a primeval thing boys do without even knowing. As they get older they're more aware, more conscious, as 9 year olds it’s more a push and a shove to find your place in the pack.

So he pushed and he shoved a little and I can't really remember what I thought. I'm not much of a fighter but I'm not really a runner either. I held my ground, probably wrapped myself around him so he couldn't do too much. And I've always been strong, probably stronger then than I am now. It was a weird kind of a fight. I think I probably restrained him more than anything else. And he backed off. At the very least he realised he couldn't win. And with bullies that's sometimes enough. I can't really remember how I felt. Relieved? Maybe more a sense of knowing this moment would have come and finally managing to conquer it so it wouldn't hang over me so much anymore.

(Though strangely, when you're young, there's normally a few of those moments. They creep up on you and you have to master them again and again, but eventually they are done).

We became fairly good friends for the four years we were at that school. When we left for bigger schools and tougher kids he pretty much withered away. His mouth couldn't compete with the toughness of the proper scrappers. The last I knew he disappeared into religion. Hiding behind something big enough to pretend he wasn't so scared I guess.

(His mum said to me he never grew as big as the other boys and he felt like he couldn't compete. But I'm the same size as him and I compete just fine. He was all mouth and no trousers and once his mouth didn't work he had nothing left).

My path was a little different. I'm not a fighter, never have been. But I know how to protect myself and I know when to stand and when to run. And more often than not, it's better to run, or walk away and if you can do that more quickly than it looks or before trouble finds you, all the better. 

Equally, and maybe it's a boy thing, sometimes you have to stand your ground. Face what's coming.

Someone once said to me: everyone has to take a beating once, and the longer you run the further it chases you. (I've made that last bit up).

But there is some truth in that. Fighting isn't the way but sometimes you must stand up for yourself. Even if it's only to learn that getting beaten one way or another isn't always quite as bad as it was in your head. Maybe you can cause more pain inside your own mind than most other people will cause with their fists.

I guess what I'm saying is, most people are scared of something at one time or another whether they show it or admit it or not. We're all scared sometimes. There's no harm in being scared. Also though, you have to learn to face your fears, stand up to them rather than run away. Some of the scary things aren't so scary when you see them for what they really are. Especially when you face them head on because you've chosen to do so.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Scissors and Shavings


Today I was cutting out some paper glasses for Kelda. Hmm. I can see this is going to take more explaining than I imagined.

Kelda is our cat. Actually she's my cat but she's our cat now. I've had her just over two years. She arrived a couple of months before I met your mum.

I always thought, if I were to have a cat, and to be honest I'm more a dog person, that I’d get a scrapper. I thought it'd be a battling Tom cat, all scarred and ragged.

So a bloke I used to work with asked if anyone wanted a cat on Facebook and I said I'd have it if there were no other takers. I didn't see a picture of her or anything. So when he turned up with her I was a bit surprised. She's a pretty cat with bright blue eyes. Certainly not a scrapper.

Her name comes from a Terry Pratchett series. A Kelda is the only woman of a clan. The rest of her clan are all small, blue fighting men with red hair.  They are called the Nac MaC Feegles. She's very powerful and dominating. Maybe you'll read about them for yourself.

Anyway I got some vouchers through the post and there were some cut-out paper glasses to put on your pet and send pictures in and whilst I was cutting them out I thought about learning to use scissors and cut out neatly and how tricky it is when you're little and how you're praised for cutting out well and how such milestones are important. I could almost see your chubby little hands gripping the scissors and your tongue sticking out in concentration. All these things I take for granted now but they all took effort and concentration and practice. And very soon we'll experience it all again, with you.

My friends, who already have children, say don't bother with advice really, they say you just have to work if out for yourself. They then usually go on to say: but I will give you this one piece of advice...

At the moment that seems to be mainly based around routine and that suits me. I'm good with routines. We have 'Kelda Cuddles' after my shower and 'Sunday shaves' on, well a Sunday.

(Your mum says I'm a bit much on the alliteration but it fits my head. Everything that happens are like little boxes of stories and the alliteration gives them a title or a chapter or a place to live I suppose.)

I have a funny relationship with shaving. When I was tiny little I can remember sitting in the bath putting bubbles on my face and pretending to shave them off with my dad's old razor (blade not included).

I can remember watching my granddad. He had this brush and somehow he dipped it in a mug and used that to lather his face. He used to shave with a cut throat razor which I now have framed on the wall.

In fact, if you're a boy you'll be called Eli and that's after him but more about that at some other point.

So I started shaving when I was twelve which is quite young for that kind of business. I never really liked it, it made my face sore and my skin never really got used to it.

From then on I've always had a stubbly beard and for a long time I've shaved my head. So on Sunday's, I shave my head and trim my beard so I look a bit more presentable for work on a Monday.

I was half growing my beard but your mum said it won't be nice for a baby, all stubbly whiskers. My granddad had a moustache and he was prickly to kiss so I kinda see what she means. But there was something different about kissing him when he was little. I kind of had to brace myself but I kind of  liked it as well.

Now my dad's aunty Tessy, she had a prickly face and me and my cousin did everything we could to avoid kissing her. That's another story though, probably not necessary for now. 

I guess shaving and watching your dad pull funny faces in the mirror is something you won't get to see too much. I might do it for you anyway. We'll see.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Bit of Magic


I guess I learnt to jump real high. And it's only now I'm starting to put my feet on the ground. I wasn't trying to escape or run away. Although some of the time, if you'd have asked me, maybe I'd have thought I was. But no, not really. I was seeing what was there, where I could go. And there are lots of places to see and visit. Some of them are physical and they exist. Some of them are further away but felt closer to home.
Never be scared of what's out there. It's scarier to pretend it isn't, to be worried of the things you dare not face.

See I've got the wild in me. It makes me restless. I'm not too good at staying still. And when you were scanned, you wouldn't stay still, maybe it's in you too. Your mum, she's not got it in her. And my mum, she didn't either. My dad, your granddad, has scratchings of it.

But my mum and yours they have the calm. And I guess you'll have one or the other, maybe both. And if you have the wild I guess you'll need to find the calm like I did and if you have the calm I guess you'll need the wild like your mum did.

I'm not suggesting for a minute things are quite so simple, though they probably are. I can only give you half of your story maybe not even that as you'll have to make it your own, do things yourself.  And some of your story comes from your mum, and that isn't mine to tell. What we have given you are the beginnings, the chance to make your own story. The rest will be up to you.

I think, for a bit I stopped believing in magic. And maybe you have to. Because you start to wish for things that can't make a proper shape in your head.

And then you realise something else. Once upon a time I wanted a magic book and a magic ring. I suppose, what changes is how you see magic. My grandpa gave me a book that his mother gave him and he carried with him all through the war. One night he gave it to me. How much more magic do you want than that?

And then my other granddad gave me a ring which he didn't wear very often but when he did he made sure it showed in photos. He had another ring which was so old all the letters had faded. It was his wedding ring. I was with him once when he had it re-engraved. The letters have all faded away again now. Maybe it's a magic ring after all. Letters don't seem to be able to stay on it. See. It all depends how you look.

One day you or your sister or brother will have these things from me and maybe you'll see them as magic too.

Tonight me and your mum went to see Mad Max. It's a remake of a film made first in 1979. I was 4. Your mum hadn't been born yet. So maybe things are circular and they just keep on coming round. Maybe that's until you get it right or we get it right or the world gets it right or maybe that's just the way it is. And there's nothing to get right or wrong. Just chances to take and a way to see. And the more chances and the more we see the better.

A Good Mix


Today we saw you for the first time. We waited for an hour and we were getting frustrated. A man was shaking his legs which made all the chairs rock and this didn’t  help your mum at all because she was all full up with water.  It was really quite annoying and selfish and he seemed totally oblivious. Everything was becoming too much. And then they called us through, and they showed us you. I'll tell you something, and you'll never know this until you go through it yourself. We forgot everything else instantly. We could see you. And you wouldn't stay still. You were wriggling and turning and moving and twisting.

And we were captivated. I think, right now you're only about sixty-five millimetres long. We could see your arms and your legs and your nose and your mouth. And when you moved we could see your bones and in the picture we reckon we can see your brain.

I guess maybe one day you'll see the scan. You'll know how you looked before you were born. And that's how times change. I've no idea what this world will look like for you. The technology wasn't there when I was your age. But that was over forty years ago.

It's my birthday tomorrow. I don't hang too much on birthdays but you are the best present for both of us. A bit of your mum, a bit of me and the rest will be all you.

There's going to be a lot of questions. A lot to learn. But we saw you today. And I think, what I learnt is, the questions and the answers don't always matter so much. I mean, they're the most important thing and you must always ask and learn. But sometimes there is also magic.

Wherever you are and wherever you go there's always something that puts things in perspective, helps you to see your place in this world. There are no answers, just what is. And don't ever be too proud to see how beautiful that is.

And you're a good mix you come from all over the world not too many people can say that and it be true.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A Big Adventure

Tomorrow is one of those days. And I guess that's an understatement. You don't get too many days like these. In fact, this is probably the first for me. Tomorrow we get to find out if, as things stand, you're okay. You don't really exist yet, except you do, and I've lived with the idea of you for pretty much all of my life. You're living inside your mum and it’s all out of my control.

For twelve weeks you've been more than an idea, you've been fighting hard to become you and everything you will be. We've been monitoring you and your mum has an app and week by week it tells us how big you are and what you can do.

Tomorrow we'll get to see you for the first time and they'll test parts of you and tell us whether or not everything is okay.

We've told a few people but tomorrow is d-day. After tomorrow everyone will know. And we don't know if you're a boy or a girl. Your mum thought you were a girl but she's dreamt only of boys so now she's not sure. And me, I'm too superstitious to say. I'll tell you when you're here. But we don't care either way.

We can't wait for you to be here.
You know suddenly everything is marked by either this time next year when there's three of us or this is the last time we'll have a birthday or a holiday and you won't be here. And we've spent twelve weeks saying very little because to some extent it's no time at all and to another it's everything and nothing is going to be the same again. Already things are very different. It's only May. At the moment you're expected December 6th. We'll see. You're not even thinking yet but you have a heart beat and hopefully we'll get to hear that for the first time tomorrow.

Sleep easy my little one, grow strong. There's a lot ahead of you. A big adventure.



This is your story before you were born. And this is me and your mum in a way you'll never really know us...

All stories start a long time ago. What a lot of people don't know is that stories are round and that's why you can never tell how old they are or how long they'll last. Although, to be honest, once a story has been told, at least part if it will always last forever. But that's not really what I meant.
I suppose your story starts here, which is tricky because you're not here yet.

When you think about things properly, not many of them make much sense. I suppose you spend most of the time twisting things to fit into the shape you think they should be. It's easier that way and in the grand scale of things it doesn't make much difference anyway.

It's funny thinking of Stacey as your mum and me as your dad for that matter. It's hard to explain, people don't think like that, or say it if they do. One day, hopefully you'll read this for yourself and understand what that means.

So me and your mum, we're just two people together, from different worlds and different places. And we made you. And we want you already. And we can't wait. And it's the strangest most beautiful thing in the world.