I’m constantly on the quest to learn things. This week, at Ukulele Club, things were shaken up a bit. I can tell you this because I have given up on adhering to the first rule of Ukulele Club. It happens occasionally, this way of doing things differently. Instead of the old faithful songs that the group can be prone to churning out week after week, someone decided to get a bit adventurous and throw a load of new songs, many with new chords, into the fray. It was a good evening. I had fun. I learned things. Most specifically I learned that one of the songs on the electronic tambourine that I mentioned last time a blog post had an outing, one that I hadn’t previously identified (Shazam and other music recognition apps hadn’t worked), was called Dixie. It is a jaunty little tune. I enjoyed playing it all the more for the relief it gave me to be able to now name the tune and release me from plastic orange tambourine earworm hell. It also confirmed that one hundred per cent of the songs on this thing were somehow to do with the American Confederates. I don’t know why either.
The boys have had their first birthday now. If anyone in the North West of England has noticed a shortage of AA batteries in the last couple of weeks, it is down to the requirement of all the toys they received from friends and relatives. And it is also due to the fact that every single one of their toys that requires batteries appears to communicate with each of the other ones and they co-ordinate it so that they all run out of batteries at exactly the same time. We thought having a couple of four packs of AA batteries might suffice in the early days but we have been severely disabused of this notion and last week I had to go to a pound shop to stock up to fill the new toys that they received and replace all the batteries in all of their existing toys. And when I had cleared the shelves in that shop I had to travel to the next town to their pound shop and clear that of batteries as well.
Fortunately they also got a lot of books for their birthday, so they too will learn things, hopefully of a more important nature than what tune their latest piece of plastic tat is playing. Some of the toys we have been given over the year that the boys have been with us are from Canada. This means that those that talk, and a lot do, are bi-lingual and will shout out their gleeful messages in English or French. I keep slipping them into the French function in the hope they may pick up a few words. I do this with the cats – whenever I feed them a pouch of food I read out some of the other languages on the packet to them .When we had an Icelandic staying with us she thought I spoke Icelandic because she overheard me telling Dave that he was about to get a meal of Tonfisk (that’s Tuna fish to you and me). The cats don’t appear to have learned much. Mind you, they aren’t exactly fluent in English yet. I am hoping the boys fare a bit better than the cats.
I said I was going to attempt to avoid stories about defecation and the results thereof, but sometimes it is unavoidable; some stories have to be told. Mrs Aitchworld and I have a new game – “Poos or Brews”, A.K.A. “Russian Poolette”.
Due to the nature and location of my job, most mornings I am up at the crack of dawn (or before) and out of the house while it is still dark and Mrs Aitchworld is left to deal with everything. Other mornings, those when I am either visiting customers who are relatively local or at weekends, we get up at the same time and form a joint task force. Well, we divide and conquer. One of us has to make the cups of tea required to wake us up properly and to prepare the morning bottles of milk for the boys. Whichever of us isn’t doing this has to wake the boys up and change their nappies. We have to make a choice, Poos or Brews. Even then it isn’t that simple – we don’t know whether one, both or neither of the boys have filled a nappy with poo in the wee small hours, so it really is Russian Poolette.
The other morning I opted for the poos instead of brews. Arthur still had all his bullets in his chamber as it were – his nappy, other than a healthy amount of wee, was clean. Henry, on the other hand, during the night had formed, somehow, an almost impeccably spherical ball of shit, somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball.
He is somewhat of a wriggly baby at the best of times and this morning was no exception. If anything, he was even more vibrant and excitable than usual and was especially chipper. As I laid him on the changing mat on the floor and unwrapped the nappy from around him, I paused to marvel at this miraculous formation. At this very moment he mustered up his finest wriggle and at the same time he managed to grab the corner of the nappy and pulled it. As he wrenched it from my relaxed grip, it formed a perfectly shaped slingshot, the resultant vigorous motion shooting the spherical turd within it high into the air.
As it arced across the nursery I had a decision to arrive at and an instant in which to make it. Actually, I don’t even think I had time to make a conscious choice and natural reaction just kicked in. Instinctively, I reached my hand out at exactly the correct length to catch the ball. As I kneeled there, horrified that I was clutching in my hand a whole poo, Henry waved his nappy in the air triumphantly, proud of what he had achieved, and smiled at me with a grin so wide that the only thing I could do was laugh at the horror to which he had subjected me to. And then scrub my hand until enough skin had been removed to ensure new, untainted-by-poo, skin was present.
One thing that nobody warned me about before having children was how ill it would make me. I’m not prone to exaggeration (I’ve probably said this about a million times since starting this whole blog thing), nor am I overly dramatic, but since the boys have come along, I have caught every illness going. In fact, several times I have been so ill that I have been mere moments from death. A couple of times I have probably started walking towards the light without even realising it. I have had coughs, colds, both at the same time, Ebola, the consumption, the plague and probably AIDS, and not the good sort. I have coughed up more colours than Joseph had in his dreamcoat and one day just after Christmas I woke up with an eye infection so bad that made me look like the Terminator just before he was lowered into a pool of molten metal. And all this is before they have started at nursery and will be bringing all the deadly diseases carried by the other kids back home with them.
Despite having a decent enough bike, last year I didn’t even use it. I didn’t have the time or the energy for exercise. However, the scales started telling me that maybe I should address this and in January I dusted off the bike, pumped up the tyres and got out there and put a few miles in. I started off the first week taking it fairly easy and only cycled about five miles. In week two, I roped in a friend who had far greater levels of fitness than I did to start cycling with me to give me motivation. It rained during this week, so the ride was thoroughly miserable on the whole, given that we were also experiencing January type temperatures and that upon approaching the local park, as I put in a sharp turn on the wet smooth tarmac, the bike fell from under me and I entered said park sliding on my arse with the bike a couple of feet in front of me. I was admonished by an elderly lady for frightening her dog. Madam, I damn near shit myself too!
However, as the weeks have passed, the exercise has got easier, the distances have grown, the descents have got steeper and rougher and the weather has been incredibly kind to us. In addition, the weight has dropped off by, at the last estimate, half a stone, and miraculously the illness, other than losing my voice last week (which some say was a blessing) I have been in remarkably rude health ever since starting this. I don’t know if that is down to the cold weather killing off any bugs, the exercise strengthening my immune system, or a combination of both, but whatever it is, I’m keeping it up because I haven’t felt this good in years.
Someone ought to tell Henry and Arthur though, because this weekend both of them appear to have caught some stomach bug. Of course, they never catch it at the same time, so Friday night it was Arthur who was vomiting himself inside out every couple of hours or so. By the end of Saturday it became apparent that it was going to be Henry’s turn to keep us up all night after he did a spectacular sick all over himself in his baby walker in the kitchen. I didn’t know what to do first – fetch Henry out of his walker and clean him up, grab some kitchen roll and wipe off whatever had fallen through onto the brand new laminate flooring, or try and rescue the battery operated panel that makes all the lights and sounds of the walker work, before the liquid ingress shorted out all the electrics.
After a moments deliberation, I went for the floor first, Henry second and left the electric panel until after he and Arthur had gone to bed. Deciding to pull it all apart and clean it, pushing carrots through holes that were really too small for carrots to be pushed through, I was put right off the meal that was in the oven cooking. As I’d cycled 11 miles that morning, going without an evening meal on top of this means that I am expecting more weight loss. As Henry and Arthur are spending a lot of time in their walkers, to the point where I am concerned there are going to be grooves worn into the brand new flooring (they have already taken chunks out of the brand new kitchen unit end panels!) they should by now be enjoying the sort of rude health that I am, rather than throwing up everywhere every few hours.