I first read the Discworld novel Eric by Terry Pratchett when I was twelve years old. I was a huge fan of Fighting Fantasy, and I’d gone into town to get the 50th FF book, Retun to Firetop Mountain, but they’d put the price up to £3.99 and I only had £2.99 in my pocket. That meant I either had to go home and spend a Saturday on my own with nothing to entertain me, or I was going to need to find a book to read: an actual book.
It’s Saturday morning, and both my kids are at a local birthday party: I’m not going, because it’s a Two Party Saturday and I’ve pulled the late shift. I’ll be at Jungle Jim’s tonight, watching all the sweaty midgets get high on e-numbers before bedtime. It’s no big deal: I’m used to it. What I’m not used to is making lunch at my nan’s house. My nan lives very close to the location of the party, so I’ve escaped to get a convenient bite to eat…except it’s not turning out to be convenient. In fact, it’s proving practically bloody impossible.
It’s 2008 and I’m rushing to Margate’s QEQM Hospital in an ambulance with sirens blaring.
My son’s birth was quite a traumatic event. It shouldn’t have been, but we’d decided on a home-birth, something I would strongly discourage all first time parents from doing. It was a split decision: I’m vasovagal and almost pathologically phobic about hospitals and my wife thought we would get better, more personal (1 on 1) care in the safety of our own home. The resulting disaster turned what should have been the happiest day of our lives into a situation that would have found a better fit in a horror movie.
It’s lunchtime and we’re just settling into a booth at Frankie & Benny’s when I make the mistake of the decade.
I say: ‘Okay, while we’re waiting for the lady to take our orders, why don’t we play….FAVOURITES! Right, kids: who are your favourite….er….Disney Princesses!’
My son (7) rolls his eyes and says: ‘Booooring, but I guess I’d go for Aurora, because she was cool in that film where the evil queen had the horn.’
I smile a bit awkwardly, as I know what he means but can’t help focus on what he’s actually saying. Then, the screechy voice of my daughter (3) interrupts my train of thought.
She says, quite loudly: ‘I love Supunzel because her hair is full of shit.’
I’m at Center Parcs in Woburn Forest, and I’m in Smug Parent mode. I always get like this on those rare occasions when my kids are behaving like angels while everyone else’s are wrecking the place. Despite the fact that we’ve only been on site for an hour and they’re practically bursting with excitement about us all being on holiday in such an incredible place, Sebastian and Evie are acting like proper little grown-ups.
I’d only been working as a shift runner at Blockbuster Video for a few days when the incident happened, and I remember thinking that it was a perfect reflection of my luck that had it happened just a week before none of it – none of it – would have been my responsibility. I could just have continued to do stock rotation and left the entire messy business to somebody else.
This is my son, Sebastian. He’s on the floor of Boots in Ramsgate, throwing a major strop and blowing raspberries at me. He’s also refusing to move, and I’m threatening him with all sorts of punishments to disguise the fact that I have a bad back and can’t physically drag him outside.
Look at the Disney Princess in the picture above. Actually LOOK at her face. Do you know why she has that frozen, slightly startled and not entirely positive expression?
I must have been reasonably self-aware as a kid, because I’m pretty sure I was in the early stages of primary school when I figured out that I couldn’t make friends.
When I finally decided that my dog had some sort of mental health issue, I didn’t mess around. I immediately splashed the cash and called in the professional: a £50 per day dog whisperer called Anita who lived on the borders of Kent and claimed to offer a life-changing service for pets AND their owners. This is the email I sent her…