Sunday, 31 March 2013


If you are a man you will like trains. It doesn't matter if you think you are too cool or too grown up or anything like that, if you are a man you will like trains. I like trains, in fact I like trains quite a bit. Yesterday I had been informed that we were going to an Easter Sunday family day at a railway museum. Inevitably when the Chancellor says "Family day out" my Super Cynical Senses go into overdrive. She mentioned that there was a train ride with the Easter Bunny, this sent shivers down my occipital and I had visions of some awful train which you had to straddle and it's only very uncomfortable etc etc. Plus I find people dressed up as things like bunnies very unnerving and I tend to hide. However what we got today was something completely different and very excellent.

 The rain ride was, dare I say it, a great deal of fun. Led by a real steam engine we were sat in old fashion train carriages with separate compartments. I was in all honesty filled with a beautifully romantic feeling and it wasn't just me giddily sitting there watching the world go by from the train window. The wee man enjoyed the ride so much that he wanted to be held up to the window so he could get a better view of what was going on. Excitable screeches and laughter could be heard from him as we trundled along the short track and we both were quite sad when the rain ride came to a stop back at the museum.

The most important thing though was that there wasn't an Easter Bunny in sight. Therefore no hiding needed to take place. There was though a ride on Thomas The Tank Engine which lit up the wee man's face brighter than the sun. It also caused considerable queuing of small children some of whom tried to get on with the wee man but he brushed them away with a face that said "No chance, that's what you've got". How very Easterly on you my son.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sun, Sea And Snooping

The sun it did shine today and my did it shine. Such a rarity this has been recently it's important to share this news with you. Today the wee man has been visited by his grandparents (my parents). We took advantage of the sun and The Chancellor and I decided to show them where we have seen nice houses near the beach. It was also an excuse to go for a walk along the beach. My family at times are not subtle so snooping was the high priority of the day. Order of the day was pull up to said house, gaze from the car and occasionally get out and stand in front of the house staring and pointing. Somewhere someone has noted our car registration and as I write are probably passing it on the police.

Apart from obviously seeing my parents, it was great that they came up because they brought with them a treasure trove of new clothes for the wee man. We are in a scheme, so to speak, where we can take advantage of some of our friends (who live in Yorkshire) older children's used clothes. It has saved us hundreds of pounds and all the clothes are in very good quality and really nice. This new supply go up to two years so we won't need to buy anything for a good while. However we have nowhere to store these clothes so for the time being they will stay in the lounge and maybe in a week's time I will move them or maybe a month or maybe they'll never be moved. Probably the last one.

Let's hope the sun shines tomorrow as we are off to an Easter treat of a day at a railway museum where there is an Easter egg hunt and lots of family fun. Just what Jesus had in mind for us when he was nailed to the cross, though I bet he would have liked Mini Eggs not even the son of God could resist Mini Eggs.





Friday, 29 March 2013

Suspicious Men And Me

Depending on how think, seeing a lonely man in a children's clothing shop may make you slightly uncomfortable. Once, in a reputable department store, I had to stand and loiter wait for The Chancellor to go to the toilet. However the toilets where located next the the children's underwear section. I didn't notice this at first but then I became aware that I was a man looking slightly suspect next to children's pants. Of course it was all in my mind but I did get, that day, a number of dirty looks. After I became aware of where I was I scurried off to look at the Lego. Lesser of two evils.

Today I took myself off for a bit of man time. I treated myself to some new shoes and some new CDs, it was all very therapeutic. One of my other jobs however was to spend a voucher on something for the wee man. The said voucher had been sitting around for a while so it was thrust into my hand as I left the house by The Chancellor.

The shop had a special section for children's clothes so off I went and trawled through the many tops and t-shirts. Then I remembered that The Chancellor had said the wee man could do with some new pyjamas.  I looked around for nightwear but eventually lost interest and had to ask an employee. "Can you tell me where the nightwear is for toddler boys?" I asked but I was greeted with a strange look and a pause. "It's for my son" I blurted seemingly desperate for her to know I had a child and I wasn't just buying boys pyjamas for my own fun times. She replied with a half smile and a look that said 'I'm not too sure about you'. She obliged to my request but I couldn't get the thought out of my head that I wasn't trusted.

What's the difference though with a man in a children's clothes section to a woman being there. It's just our minds assuming that there is something wrong going on. Maybe because it's such a rare thing that we're just socially so confused that we suddenly think 'the bad thing'. I always try and hurry up when I'm by myself  in these places though I'm not sure I look untrustworthy.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fare Thee Well To An A Grade Babysitter

Trusted babysitters are like gold dust. If you don't have immediate family around you then they are even harder to find. One of our trusted babysitters is leaving us here in the North East and The Chancellor and I are very sad about this. We are sad not just because we are loosing a babysitter but because we are loosing a friend and for me an extended family member with whom I am very close. Big Angry Lesbian Footballer Cousin (she is neither big nor angry and she is actually one of happiest people I've met) is moving down south to live a life with her partner which is allowed.

But did she take a moment to think of how it would impact us? Probably not and I don't see why she should. We wish her all the best but we will lament her leaving. If you are reading this and are still around we have theatre tickets in May are you available? There is a box of Maltesers with your name on it...

Not all is lost however luckily there are some very nice mums we know who have offered to watch the wee man for us as we escape for a well earned rest. The Chancellor and I have tried to implement date night once a month and whenever we see a film trailer we get all excited and dream of having an early dinner followed by a movie. In reality though this never happens and we spend most of our time watching old box sets we own. By the time the evenings come around we are so tired that anything further than the lounge door is a bit of an effort. I'm sure this is something most parents can testify to.

Maybe our life would be easier if our parents were closer but we will just have to make do with what we have. I'm just going to have to find a young student to come and babysit. The Chancellor though would probably just call me a dirty old man or some such. You wouldn't believe how easily a reputation gets around. I've heard I'm some sort of celebrity I think Funny Mummy started that one as she loves to tell people she knows a celebrity...


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easter Approaches

To start with today, Baby Centre duties. This week I'm talking about the many faces of the children's entertainer Justin Fletcher. You may know him as Mister Tumble or one of the many many other alter egos he has. . You can find the blog here. If you have any opinions on the guy I would be interested to hear them. He's an interesting fellow.

A few weeks ago I spoke of how hard it was for a stay-at-home-parent to deal with half term week. Baby groups don't run and you are, generally, forced to go to family friendly places which are full of other families. Another school holiday is upon this week and that of course is Easter. Two weeks will never have felt so long. It'll be like crossing a barren desert only to find at the end of it a man telling you you'll have to do it all again but for longer during the summer. Demoralising.

The only people who really like Easter are teachers who finally get away from all those snot nosed children who have been making their lives a living hell. For two weeks they have peace and quiet and they probably all go a bit nuts which is totally understandable. The Chancellor too likes Easter, as this weekend she has a four day weekend, ergo I like Easter but only for this reason.

But spare a thought for all those people who run these groups that I and my friends attend. They can finally relax those jaws, letting the smiles drop and they will sit for two weeks frowning just because they can. Chronic smiling can't be healthy. Two weeks of being grumpy will do wonders for their souls and by the time they have to start smiling for a living again their minds will be balanced once more. Could I smile for a living? I'm not sure I could. I used to work in customer service and my smiles got slowly beaten out of me by horrible customers. I know exactly what customer service staff are thinking when I ask a stupid question and I have apologize perfusely for being a moron. Never again will I go back to that world but that's a different story for a different day.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Life. Bloody hell. And I'm not even talking about life in general, just the science museum in Newcastle. Pre-school events are generally pretty popular especially as they tend to charge a fraction of the price a place usually charges. But seeing as it was snowing this morning the place was even busier than usual.

These events and get togethers used to be about the parents. You would chat, have a coffee and generally be social. Today I barely saw my friends. Our children, now as toddlers, are running at completely different speeds meaning there is no time to stand around and chat especially with the wee man being so active. Coffees are a no go, though as I left I found out I had been sitting alone in a different cafe lunching the wee man as my friends lunched their children in the main cafe. Communication goes out the window.

Today the wee man was sporting a battered nose which he got yesterday trying to fly off a step. It would take a while to describe where we were but hasten to say there was a slope and a step at the end of it. He picked up too much speed and flew off scraping his face on the tarmac. Blood and tears ensued. Surprisingly the war wound look OK yesterday but as the swelling went down today you could see the whole sorry mess. I would put up a picture but that would be mean and the wee man would never forgive me. It didn't seem to do much for him though as there was no stopping him today. The upside of the non-stop action was watching other parents getting as frustrated as me and being served some quite excellent coffee. There may be a next time with this one.


Picture: Jordan Hatch/Flickr

Monday, 25 March 2013

The 200th Post

200 days, 200 posts and somehow people are still reading. Seven months on from my first post you would have thought I would have learnt a great deal about myself, my child and I would be closer to answering the great questions of life. However if anything, more questions have emerged and the only things I've learnt about myself is that when unsupervised I still eat like a teenager and my tolerance for other people's children is quite low. But there have been some things I have learnt about the sphere of parenting and they're not all nice, happy, fluffy things but some are just don't tell anyone I said this.

  1. Cbeebies is very addictive. This is probably not unknown but I had no idea it was closer to Crack that Crack itself. It's bright, it's fun and it's laced with a property that's still undetected. This property renders both child and parent incapacitated and the sight of both drooling and locked into the set is not a pretty one. Weening yourself off it is nigh-on impossible. Embrace the child crack my friends embrace the child crack.
  2. The Weather Man is your God. For me it has been winter all the way through writing this blog and there is no sign of it changing as I listen to the BBC forecast in the background. I yearn for the day the wee man and I can just spend an afternoon in the park with a football instead of soft plays.
  3. Soft play areas are awful places (but necessary). Last week I wrote a Baby Centre blog about this and I could go on and on about the subject. Big children where they shouldn't be, unsupervised children causing havoc, parents not giving a s**t about their children and all for a good amount of money. I sigh every time we go in. The boycott will continue.
  4. Your child will surprise you. This is the nice part and there have been no end of proud moments for me. From the wee man being able to climb, to him using his right hand to draw. Something, no matter if it's little or big, happens everyday and each conjures the same great emotion in you.
  5. The boredom's what'll kill you. If you are a stay-at-home-parent you will know exactly what I mean by this. If your only interaction in a day is your child then it's not long before your talking to your Yucca plant thinking it's a person. It's like a pressure cooker and if you don't vent to people you'll explode. This is the hardest part of being doing this as a man. The women I know have the other women and I have my Yucca plant.

Thanks for reading everyone and please share with anyone who might be interested.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Wee Man's First Cousin Or His First Second Cousin

The wee man on day one

Meeting newborn children is quite nice especially when they're not yours. You can hand them back when they cry and when they have explosive nappies like my new family member had with me today. I finally met my second cousin or my first cousin twice removed which ever one makes more sense for you, I don't know the difference. Seeing a little child only weeks old makes you wonder how the hell you have gotten to the point at which the wee man is now.
The wee man yesterday
If you look at the two pictures I can't remember a good deal of the time that passed between them, which is terrifying. Today gave me a momentary glimpse at what it would be like to have two children. At one point I was carrying the newbie with one hand and with the other I was pulling the wee man away from a bucket of soiled baby clothes. This was only one moment and the thought of the many many many more moments like this makes me want to spike The Chancellor's breakfast with the pill. The problem though wouldn't come from the newborn but from the toddler who eats away continuously at your attention centre. The major problem I have heard from parents who have two or more comes from the toddler. 

We rest easy tonight however with just the one and probably that will be the way it stays for a while.The Chancellor though, as expected, got very excited at the prospect of number two at the sight of my new relation. Logistically though I'm not sure how any of it would work and I'm in no rush to find out. 

Can I crush the pill down enough to make it invisible?


Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Chancellor's Encounter With Well Fed Flying Things

Like everything else in life, money, or more accurately the lack of money, is a relative thing. Next to some of our friends who have two incomes we are poverty stricken but luckily and more importantly The Chancellor and I still have our cultural integrity intact. Once that goes though that's when civilisation ends.

A story to make my point about the importance of monetary relativity came today when buying cheese. Our budgets, including the food bill, have taken some big hits. It took me a long time to admit to people that I now shop in some other certain establishments.

However, today we were back in our local (expensive) supermarket where we used to shop at before austerity hit. Some people who shop here are very wealthy and for them spending £50 on a couple of items is nothing. I'm not allowed to go there anymore even though they do some amazing quadruple chocolate cookies which I'm eating right now.

Anyway while The Chancellor was trying to find the best prices for some cheese another woman was doing the same thing. The lady who was perfectly nice turned to The Chancellor and said "I'm just looking for the cheapest cheese to feed the birds", The Chancellor muttered that she was looking for the cheapest cheese to feed her family. Alas The Chancellor and I haven't made room in our budget for the birds or any other form of animal for that matter. Oh how the wealthy live. But those birds are getting nothing out of me even if it's still winter deep into March.  

In our world BC (before child) we would budget to the nearest ten or twenty pounds now though we budget to the nearest ten pence. I even spent time this morning going through our penny jars like some dirty student looking for beer money. I was surprised though that we found close to fifteen pounds. This money was immediately set aside to be spent of quadruple cookies and beer. Nothing really changes.


Friday, 22 March 2013

When Dads Go Drinking

Now that the wee man and his little friends are of a certain age, it is now morally and socially acceptable to go out drinking and try to relive the life you used to have. However when you become a dad something strange happens and when you go out you see lots of young people and you become almost thankful you're not them with their trendy life affirming lifestyles. Sure you drink but you take yourself off to a quiet corner where conversation can be had.

Last night Funny Daddy (who is older than me but I won't reveal exactly how much older) and I went to a blues night at a very fashionable bar in a studenty end of town. As you would expect conversation, for the two of us, ranged from politics to children to music via tales of teeth and a lack of sleep. Slipped in there though was a general consensus that the best place to get your clothes in M&S. This is indeed true but something I thought I would never say.

Now to make things worse we were surrounded by a lots of tedious students who had grown designer facial hair (which looked stupid) and dressed far too hard to impress. We didn't exactly feel out of place but we had absolutely nothing in common with these people who seemed to drift effortlessly through the world like a leaf on the wind.

At the end of the night we had to put up with sharing the men's room with people not using the loo for the correct reason. All I'll say is rolled up notes. Is this necessary on a Thursday night at a blues bar? Who knows but this increased our assertion that actually we are probably better off without that hedonistic lifestyle. And as much as our children vex us and cause us all sorts of neuroses they are probably better for us than taking trendy drugs. Though that is something that probably needs to be tested.

As I stumbled walked the three mile home in light snow, stopping every now and again to pee for nature to take its cause, I thought of the annals of time and why I couldn't walk in a straight line. Both of which didn't get solved until I was in a nice warm bed.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Looking Stupid In A Carpark

I try to make looking foolish a rare thing. However when it does happen it tends to happen to such an extent that I just want to die. One of the most embarrassing moments of my life was when I was at school and my voice broke while giving a speech to my house about directing the house play. Some 100 boys and teachers laughed and I wanted to die. I will never ever forget that moment.

Anyway yesterday I went to Sweden Ikea to buy the wee man a table and chairs. He is at a stage where he has discovered drawing and scribbling and is now very excited that he has a place to be let loose with chalks etc. On completion of the set I informed The Chancellor that there were missing parts and we had to go to Ikea in the morning to complain.

The Chancellor being off today couldn't think of anything better to do with her day off than listen to me moan to poor customer service folk, so she joined me. We took with us the offending chair missing some parts and made our way down to Ikea. On arrival at the carpark I had a moment of clarity and realised that the missing pieces were there all along just stuck between another couple of bits. As I opened the door I said " what?"

The Chancellor was not impressed and it fueled her opinion of me that I'm an idiot. At least though I only did this in front of her and not various Ikea staff but we weren't far off a public humiliation. So we immediately hopped back into the car with my pride firmly between my legs and scooted back home. Next time I'll double check.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Nothing Important Happened Today

It would be honest to say after writing nearly 200 blog posts I can't quite remember what's in most of the posts I've written. If you are a regular reader I apologise if you've seen the same thing written again and again. It's not my fault per se, it's just what happens when you decide to write a daily blog for a whole year. So if you've seen the following story before then I'm sorry.

King George III was famous for a few reasons, he had various conflicts with various countries, went a bit mad later in life and he was also the King of England at the time of the American Independence. There is a story of his only diary entry on July 4 1776 being simply 'Nothing Important Happened Today'. This is a phrase that has stuck with me during my time writing One Man as there are a great many days when I could have written this and nothing else. 

As I limbo my way to the giant 200 mark (less than a week's time) I've been amazed how I've managed to write something different everyday for this time and not given up and just said 'nothing important happened today'. My greatest muse though is the wee man and for him something important does happen everyday whether it be going to the park or going swimming or taking a trip somewhere new and exciting. The more I explore with him the more I'll have to write and the less times I'll have to say 'nothing important happened today'.

In news away from crazy kings and even more insane writers two, yes two, Baby Centre blogs have been published today. The first is a slideshow about children's books If you've read my blogs about children's books you will know that I love them and I'm quite passionate about children reading. The second blog is less of a serious look at why I really really hate children's soft play areas but why I have to go to them. If you are a parent who has to go to them then you'll know what I'm talking about. Hopefully these tasty morsels will keep you happy.



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Baltic Day By The Tyne

Continuing on from yesterday, the wee man and I took a hop, a skip and a jump across the river for a new event based in the Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art. In the picture it is the the building furthest to the left out of the four. Now on a day like today there aren't many colder places in country than being down by the Tyne. It really was Baltic (to steal the name). So much so that the wee man couldn't be bothered looking at the river or the bridges and just wanted to be inside riding on the the very cool glass lifts. And they are very cool.

The event was fun and it will be something I will go back to. Though the organisers made a bit of an error in the respect that to get to the space you had to navigate through an exhibition that consisted of polystyrene boxes which had giant metal poles sticking out of the them. This was all too tempting for the wee man and most of the other children but it also seemed rather dangerous. We were advised to walk round the outside of the room making sure we didn't impale ourselves in the name of modern art. The artist would probably have liked this.

On a sour note, alas no brownies were on sale today so I had to make do with a chocolate bun which wasn't as good as the brownies. This made me very sad and has now put a real dampener on my day. I had been prepared to come home with a box full but now I'll have to make do with substandard chocolate or cheese and crackers.


Monday, 18 March 2013

What Would Happen If I Had A Six-Pack?

"You've brought a man with you!" It's nice to know I make the day more exciting for people. These were the words of a nice, if overexcited lady, when I arrived with my friend Sensory Mummy to a new playgroup. So starved, I presume, these woman are of manliness that they pounced on me and I don't even exude masculinity. What they would do if a man with a six pack entered the room if anyone's guess. He may well never be seen again.

The playgroup, run in a church hall, was surprisingly fun and it didn't come at all with indoctrination into the faith. This is always a worry when doing things related to churches but no such worry today. And I'm definitely not going to turn down a free group that offers me coffee and biscuits. Also it's always great to catch up with my friend.

Tomorrow though we are doing something on the opposite end of the spectrum. Forget religion let's get our heads around contemporary art. And sometimes folks that's harder that religion. We are going to The Baltic Centre for crazy art and pretentious fine art students who want to look all grown up. Despite having a mum who is rather good at art, he may still be too young for appreciating modern art. Though to be honest most of the stuff in The Baltic is nuts and scares me and I feel that I have an appreciation for art. Give me Botticelli any day. I'm not sure what the wee man will make of the place but the session we are going to is designed for children but will probably turn them in preposterously arty people.

Never-the-less go we shall if only for the truly exquisite chocolate brownies they sell in the cafe down stairs. These brownies are so good that they make you tingle all over and make all the staring at s**t artworks worthwhile. If you live anywhere near Newcastle you have to sample these brownies because they are just that good. I intend to stash a good few with me at the end of the day and not share them at all with The Chancellor. Sorry. Actually no I'm not.




Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Wee Man The Heartbreaker

I'm high right now and not the good kind of high. This morning I have been cleaning with thick bleach and I don't think I sufficiently ventilated the area leading to me feeling sick and having a hearty headache. To temper this I am eating Hobnobs, as you do. So bearing in mind that even with my glasses on the world is still blurry, whatever I write can't be taken as the truth.

After a slightly melancholy post yesterday it would only be fair to talk today of cheer, candy mountains and all things fluffy. For the past two days the wee man seems to have been taking his happy pills, charming everyone who enters his space and generally been a great child.

Even yesterday, with a visit from two of our close friends from home, he let us sit and eat lunch in a restaurant with minimal fuss and only right at the end did he want to remove himself from the high chair and maraud around the place. This was a far cry from my last trip to a restaurant with him where he just wouldn't sit still, leading to me getting indigestion and both of us getting annoyed.

Our friends though think he's wonderful but the wee man finds it easy to charm pretty women. Even in the streets he gives pretty women smiles and chats to them leading them to say "awwwwwww". While walking to the hospital last Friday we had to go through the university where the wee man was in his element having multiple female student swoon over him. For the record I taught him nothing and I don't spend my days talking to pretty women. Only sometimes.

Yesterday's good mood even spread through to today. Sundays are The Chancellor's day. It's her day in respect that it's her turn for a lie in and I groggily pull myself from bed and release the wee man from his cage. Some good male bonding was had this morning over the football highlights and he has been nothing but cuddles and laughter even when The Chancellor took him to the supermarket.

Let the good time roll.



Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Bleakness Of Children's Hospitals

Hospitals are pretty grim places.Children's hospitals even more so. Even with the complications of the fingers on the wee man's right hand, it's nothing compared to what some children and parents go through. We sat for a good couple of hours yesterday in various different waiting rooms surrounded by children with varying forms of mental and physical disabilities. All who will need, I would imagine, round the clock care and where a break for the parents just doesn't exist.

The wee man excited by hundreds of new toys and a multitude of new faces to smile at ran around the waiting room with not a care in the world. Anyone looking in on our life must have thought we have it easy and to some extent we do. But it's not until you see the severity of some cases that you think how lucky you are.

After our initial consult we were sent to the x-ray and as we walked up we wondered if it was at all possible to keep the wee man still. But the wee man was great and for the first time in his life, since he was a baby, lay still for longer than five seconds. There was a moment at the start when we stood over him on the x-ray table where there was a look of real terror in his eyes and he looked to us to take care of him.

It makes you think what we would all go through if major surgery was needed or if the reason we were there was more serious. After warming up and charming the radiographers with smiles and a wave or two we went back downstairs for a further consult. Luckily for us all it will be a year before we have to go back and see our consultant after she was impressed with the progress he has made.

It makes me think that I wouldn't want to spend anymore time than is necessary in a children's hospital and I think neither would the wee man.


Friday, 15 March 2013


First off today a big thank you to Ericka Waller and my Artistic Cousin for being guest bloggers this week. There must be some love for One Man as the latter post came all the way from Italy. Both posts were excellent and it is a sad day when the guest bloggers write better posts than I do. Though they have certainly boosted my page views so maybe I should keep them on retainer.

I now look forward to some more guest blogs from anyone who has something to say about parenting, from any angle. I am trying to organise for the famous Multi Mum to tell us all about what it's like to have four children. But there in lies the rub as having four children, I imagine, would make it difficult for you to sit down and write anything. I have one child and that makes it hard enough. Maybe I could entice her with a biscuit or some such. We will see.

Somehow, despite having a child and almost having various blogging meltdowns, I keep churning out posts like some battery fed blogger and now I'm appearing on other people's blogs too. It's like an addiction and I've turned into Blogzilla. So with the image of me either squatting and popping out blogs from my behind or me tearing down cities, I need to direct you to some places I can be found this week.  

Firstly, as ever Baby Centre duties have been fulfilled for the week and you can find my latest offering here

Also this week I can be found on the very excellent Mama Lewis website  run by Stacie Lewis, I talk about my son's hand condition and the choices The Chancellor and I have had to make. My post is at the top but please look around the website as it's an excellent blog.

Enjoy. Right time for a lie down or my head might just explode.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thoughts From Venice

Today we have the second guest blogger to grace One Man and a Wee Bairn. Writing all way from Venice my Artistic Cousin gives her perspectives on children and language. Enjoy. 

I am in Italy, sitting with a young Italian girl called Liza. Liza is four years old. Her mother is Russian, so Liza speaks an odd mix of Italian and Russian. She doesn’t seem to realise the difference as she skips easily between the two, expecting her listener to skip with her. Nor does she realise how lucky she is- to sit between two languages, cultures and histories as most of us struggle with one.
It is as easy for a child to learn Japanese or Chinese, as French or German. Whatever place a child is born into, and whatever language is spoken at home, the child will learn that language, whether it has complicated tenses, sounds, cases or letters. And as my experience of teaching six-year-old Russian children shows, they are much better at picking up a foreign language than adults. They lack the self-awareness and embarrassment of adults; they don’t question linguistic oddities; their mouths are more fluid, and they don’t care about mistakes.
One day soon, the Wee Bairn will open his mouth and quote Shakespeare at his parents. This may well be a shock. However, all this time, his brain has been assimilating, coding, remembering, storing language. And language- whichever language- is almost inexpressibly complicated. Even the simple distinctions between “here” and “there” or “I” and “you” demand an implicit understanding of space and self.
This is not to mention the waterfall of tenses that place us in time- “I had walked”, “I walked”, “I was walking” “I will have walked”. Only when you try to explain them to a non-English speaker, do you realise how difficult they are (I was ready to strangle someone after the sixteenth attempt at explaining “I have watched…”). Russians get by with three tenses- past, present, future.
How do children learn to speak with so few mistakes?
But what fascinates me the most is the link between language and culture. The Wee Bairn was born in England to English parents so will speak English. And his understanding of English will shape- and be shaped by- the way he views the world, just as Liza’s is shaped by the fact she happened to be born to Russians in Italy. Even the Wee Bairn’s sense of humour will be influenced by his language (e.g. English puns are far easier and more common because of the large number of words in the language). He’ll even hear animal sounds differently- Russian dogs definitely do not go “woof” (neither, to be fair, do the English ones I’ve heard…). 

In the end, Liza is lucky. She has been given keys to two different worlds. For this reason, I always wince when English people say that they don’t have to learn another language because everyone speaks English, or that their children can get by with just English. This may be true, but how much richer everyone else’s world for knowing two languages; and how much poorer ours for only knowing one. The science of learning a language is as yet not fully unexplained. Learning another language is like jumping on a boat, exploring unchartered territories, and using those territories to see your homeland clearer.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Jamie Loves Kids (Apparently)

If you are to believe the graffiti in my local park, I love kids. This funny bit vandalism was spotted by the Chancellor while I was away and yesterday I thought I would check it out for myself. I would assume that it was meant to be a negative slur from one friend to another. It's a bit on the nose though just so happening to be found in the playground I visit regularly. Could it be one of my more ardent fans spreading the love of One Man and a Wee Bairn? If it is then next time can you at least put the web link to the blog please.

If you look close enough to the top right of the orange board you can see the offending words. I would like to point out that I'm not in love with kids nor do I love kids in general. I love my son but find most other children hard to deal with. These kind of slurs can get around and either of those two interpretations could have a negative affect on my celebrity status. Why don't you pop down to your local park and see what the graffiti says about you.

In other news away from my alleged love for children  I have a Baby Centre blog out today, for more information go to, Right I'm off down to the park with some paint.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ahoy Shipmates

Ahoy shipmates. I have returned, you can all now breath a collective sigh of relief. For I have returned and have immediately been thrust back onto the plank of parenting, staring down at the sharks circling below. My crimes of desertion and mutiny by going to Manchester are punishable only by expulsion to a deserted island in the Pacific. But seeing as it's still snowing in Newcastle this sounds brilliant.

My first mate, The Chancellor, did a quite excellent job with the wee man and I think I owe her a day or two of peace and quiet. The Chancellor will probably expect that she is our ship's captain but I'm the man of the house so I'll wear the hat and have the parrot on the shoulder and say ARRRRRRRrrrr.

Away from pirates a big thank you to Ericka Waller for being the first guest blogger on One Man. If you want to read what I wrote for her blog then you can find it at While you're there check out her writing because it's very good but read mine first.

To get home from Manchester yesterday it took 2 trams, 1 train, 1 taxi and a 2 hour drive. All of which I had to negotiate after a night of excesses. I won't go into detail but by the time I got home to an over excited toddler I was ready for the glue factory. It would have been though a bit unfair if I had returned home and instantly asked The Chancellor for more time to recover and feel sorry for myself. I knew what her reaction would have been so I didn't even bother.

After a good sleep last night my body has recovered not fully but enough to deal with the wee man. But since I've been away he seems to have gotten bigger and more vocal and I didn't think that was possible. Either I wasn't paying him enough attention before or my new glasses have let me see him properly. Maybe a mixture of both. But I am back on it (as they say) and already today I've had a tantrum from him but I also managed to have a coffee with a friend while he slept. This kind gesture from him keeps him from Davy Jones' Locker for one more day.


Monday, 11 March 2013

Are Dads Who Go to Playgroups Losers?

Today we have something a little different. One Man and a Wee Bairn welcomes the very excellent Ericka Waller to share her opinions of stay-at-home-dads. Ericka's blog, which I will be writing for, can be found at Over to you Ericka...

So I go to this playgroup on a Thursday that is frequented by a few “Jamies” (stay-at-home-dads). If I’m honest, when I first started going, I thought they were a load of losers.

So stuck was I in my ‘men do work, get pennies while woman make house and babies lovely-nice’ as I was, I could not bend my head around the idea of a man being able to do the HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD EVER.

(Definition of HARDEST JOB IN WHOLE WORLD EVER = Staying home with the children full time, sacrificing all career, time-to-self, social-life and ‘nipping anywhere quickly’ opportunities forever more).

I searched for things that backed up my view of these men. Ha! Look how mismatched their children’s clothes are. Why his daughter's (inside-out) skirt is not even ironed! And see how they tidy up so badly. The wooden bananas have been put in with shape sorters. The playdough lids are not correspondent to the playdoh within.
When one of them put a plastic hammer in with the dolls, I began to seriously worry about the mental-health of the women who left these goons in charge of their kids.

But then I started noticing little things.  The way they wiped their children’s snot off so gently with their sleeves.  The way they waited until they were sure their kids had finished their snack before they ate all the remnants (in one large gulp YUMP!) Their eagerness to help fold tables and put trikes back in the shed. (I am STILL man, hear me roar.) The depth their baritones added to 'I am the music man' in singing.

And I also noticed the way they engaged with their kids. Not huddled together in groups either side of the room, talking about one another or their child’s dull achievements - but sat beside their kids, faithfully making towers, or drawing cards for mummies who were busy ‘at work’.

I realised what a fool I had been.

Now, like a rebel at school, I hang out with the boys. We talk about whoever it was that badly glued the train set to a lump of hardboard, and their lack of civil engineering skills. We race one another to see who can stack the most chairs the fastest and put them away (without knocking over any children) or who can swing their child the highest in the hockey-kokey.

We don’t talk about reading books or speech development or potty training. We don’t moan about our weight. We don’t talk about the housework waiting, with its jaws open, for us at home.

Of course there are moments when having men there is annoying. Like when I’ve been for a coil check-up and want to discuss the length of my cervix (what is normal?), or when someone asks me how my piles are.

But mostly, I welcome the invasion into a mostly female dominated space. I wish they would take the tidying up more seriously, but they can only do one thing at once. Poor simple fools.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Grim Up North

The previous two times I've been able to sleep, without the worry of listening out for a child, I wasted them. On both occasions I ate and drank far too much leading to bloatedness and a drunken sleep that in no way made me feel rested. The Chancellor was smarter on the other hand drinking less and enjoying a more rested sleep. So last night I made a point of eating less and saying no to wine with dinner. Naturally I slept like a baby, unless it was the wee man as a baby of course who never slept.

During the day yesterday, as I lay on my parent's sofa feeling like one of those people who bum around their parents house but are in their thirties, I looked around expecting to see a little face by my side or a hand smacking my face. It was almost disconcerting that he wasn't there. I didn't however loose much sleep over this, as you can imagine.

So as I sit on the train crossing the Pennines with only a small bag and this tablet to keep me company I am almost relaxed. Not as relaxed as I would be if I was sitting on a beach in the Maldives with as cocktail. I will have to make do with Lancashire as a poor runner-up.

In a side note away from industrial cities in the north of England, remember that there will be some blog swapping this week. I will be appearing on Ericka Waller's blog on Monday and she will be entertaining you when I get back from my mini holiday.

"We are now approaching Manchester Piccadilly" That's me told.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Prozac And Cheap Booze

To start this cold, dank, miserable day some good news. On Monday there will be a guest blog written by myself appearing on the very excellent website It is a site written by my fellow Baby Centre blogger Ericka Waller. Ericka was one of the other bloggers I was up against when I made it into the last five for the Baby Centre competition. She won the popular vote (by some way) and this made me disgruntled and I cursed her name for having more friends and followers than I did. But then I won too (editor's choice) and I liked her again. Fickle. But seriously she is an excellent writer and has happily agreed to write for One Man so expect her blog soon. I will post a link on Monday to my blog on her site and I expect would like you all to read it.

Onto today. My bag is packed, the car is ready and The Chancellor is stocked up on Prozac and cheep booze. For when she returns from the shops I will be dashing away quicker than a cheetah. But I wonder if I will spend all my time away wondering if the wee man has had a nap at the appropriate time or what he's had to eat or if he's slept through. This last one generally happens but knowing The Chancellor's luck he will be up all night for two nights.

I am on best orders to enjoy myself and relax. But I'm not sure if I know what relaxing is anymore. It has been so long since I sat back and didn't have something child related on my mind.When The Chancellor has given me an afternoon to relax I end up either doing some housework or sitting around waiting for them to come back. My mind has irreparably been altered to to care for a child that there is little sight of it being changed back to get me to a place where I can relax and let my shoulders drop.

As I write The Chancellor has returned with money for me to enjoy myself. A proud moment indeed. So off I go and I may have time to squeeze in a post while I'm on the train tomorrow.


Friday, 8 March 2013

Jamie's Magical Mystery Tour

I am aware this morning that I forgot to inform you of my latest Baby Centre blogs for this week. I have become something of a melting pot of creativity and ideas, it's amazing what adding an extra cup of coffee into your day will do for you. But two blogs of mine have appeared on Baby Centre this week. First off a tale of a woman who took laziness and shamelessness to a new level, The second is me getting serious and judgmental.

So if you are not completely bored of me and what I have to say I will continue. Hopefully in the next week or so you will have someone else talking to you about children and parenting or about whatever they want to write about. This is because I will be having some guest bloggers writing for me. Also I will be appearing on another blogger's site but more about that later on. So look out on here for someone who can actually write and who has something interesting to say. I'm also trying to get The Chancellor on here but some coercion maybe required for that.

Now if you thought those bits of new were exciting then hold onto your hats because this weekend One Man will be blogging from two different cities. Tomorrow I am going away for two and a half myself. No child, no wife, no change bag, no half eaten pots of food, nothing child related will be going with me. Apart from this blog. This kind of excursion is totally unprecedented and I'm sure it's going to be a little weird but I intend to bask in the quiet of childless surroundings. Though I'm swapping it to go see a band in Manchester who can be described as noise pop or pioneers of shoe-gazing. Don't ask me to explain, safe to say though it will be loud but enjoyable. The Chancellor will experience the full force of long periods alone with the wee man who is turning more and more each day into the Tasmanian Devil.

*I must say as a disclaimer that it's very nice of her to take a day off work and look after him for so long. Thank you.

So the roadshow pit stops in Leeds tomorrow for a night then onto Manchester. Will I miss home life? I'll let you know.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Riding On The Metro

There is a song I like by synthpop band Berlin called The Metro. If you don't know it here's a link Even though the song is about the Paris Metro, every time I go on the Tyne and Wear Metro system I sing the song especially the line "riding on the metro". Now I wouldn't be offending anyone if I said the Tyne and Wear Metro isn't quite as glamorous as its Parisian counterpart.

It is though a great mass transit system that runs underground and overground and it might be important at this point to tell you that I LOVE undergrounds and metros. And I mean LOVE Why? I have no idea but I once had an interview to drive metro trains. Unfortunately I knew more about the Tyne and Wear system than the person interviewing me and they obviously thought I was a smart arse because I didn't get the job. I have learnt now to never correct interviewers, no mater how wrong they are.

Anyway yesterday was the first time the wee man had (knowingly) been on a Metro train and I wouldn't be lying if I said it was a great moment for the both of us. We took the escalators deep into the bowls of Newcastle city centre and hopped on a train bound for the Airport. The wee man was already brimming with glee as he has a thing for escalators. In my excitement I even managed to get a seat right at the back window so we could watch each station disappear into the distance. He sat opened mouthed and surprisingly still as we rushed trough tunnels and out into the open air. I'm sure even at his age this will be moment he will never forget. Just wait till I get him to Tokyo to ride their underground.

When we reached our stop I sat with him on the platform as he watched a few trains pass through the station and he waved at nearly all of them. I'm not afraid to say there was some good father son bonding going on. Next stop is the airport and plane watching. Proper man time.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Chancellor's Brush With Masculinity

Suddenly and inevitably the spring I was so excited yesterday about has vanished under a blanket of grey clouds. Now I don't often uses daft things like upside down or happy faces but it seems appropriate here, so here goes :( . Seeing as this kind of weather inspires me as much as the we man's nappies when he's ill I thought I would tell you a little story. Are you sitting comfortably?

Some time last year I wrote about a day when I was mistaken for a woman. I didn't see the funny side of this that my friends did and it instantly made me want to cut my hair. Anyway last week while The Chancellor was on holiday the same thing happened to her only this time she was mistaken for a man. Now let me say she looks nothing like a man and could be mistaken for Audrey Hepburn. I would show you a picture but that would blow her cover and I would imagine you would find her too good looking, so much so that it would blind you. It certainly blinds me everyday. Oooh yeah, I'm good.

Anyway the incident in question happened in a park and a nosy little girl thought it would be smart to point out to her gran that the wee man had slipped from his mother's grasp and was making a break from freedom. I had walked a little further on as I hadn't realised the wee man had gotten distracted by a gust of wind. The gran turned to her grand daughter and told her that it's alright his dad is right next to him.

For the next few days all I got from The Chancellor was "Do I look like a man?" I obviously told her no and that the gran was either blind or just not looking. "What kind of man wears an elegant winter coast?" she asked me. Well I do for one but I didn't tell her this.

I understood her pain as I was wracked with annoyance that I could possibly be mistaken for the opposite sex. So we both over compensated and now The Chancellor is going to grow her hair long and I'm not going to shave ever again. The only problem with this is I will look like an idiot while The Chancellor will still look great. Oooh yeah.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

With A Knapsack On My Back

Life seems suddenly great today. This may have something to do with the sun being out and it feels dare I say it like spring. There has been a spring in both our steps today and we took the opportunity to get down to the aquarium and the beach. It's amazing what a bit of sun will do for your morale. The local aquarium runs a good offer called Toddler Tuesday, where they charge significantly less than what they normally do. And what they normally charge is insanely expensive. So taking advantage of the the cheap prices seemed like good economics. Included in the price is the most useful thing of all a free cup of coffee.

The wee man was certainly ready for a trip out and scarily can now wear his own backpack. So with a splash we delved into a more fishy world but my timing was a bit off and we had to share the place a large school group. This would have been OK if that hadn't taken over every thing in the place including the men's toilets where I had to wait for all the kids to finish their business before I could even get in. When you have a child who wants to escape and a full bladder this can be pretty tedious and time can suddenly go really slowly. Luckily the teachers saw me crossing my legs and hurried the little kids along.

After we had seen sharks, lobsters and more primary school children than we really wanted to we nipped over the road to the beach and the wee man dashed off to chase any dog he could find. I had intended to have a nice picnic on the beach but forgot useful things like spoons and water. So I had to fashion cutlery out of whatever I could find. The wee man was obviously not impressed by this and took to eating shells and rocks. He obviously had too much fun as he collapsed with exhaustion soon after and had to be brought home. Hooray for the sun.


Monday, 4 March 2013

The End Of Holidays

One Man is getting old. This morning the wee man and I went to collect mine and The Chancellor's new glasses. I've never worn any glasses before and as I sit here wearing them for the first time I can tell you that it feels a bit odd. The wee man's reaction to my new accessories was one of humour and happiness as he now has something to rip off my face and chew on. This is a game that probably won't get boring any time soon for him.

This morning saw the return of The Chancellor to work. None of us particularly wanted this to happen but we have to pay the mortgage some way. It has been nice the past week to have her here even if I was forced to do jobs around the house. Now the house seems eerily quiet, that is until the wee man wakes up from his nap and demands his lunch.

To keep myself from descending into madness, plans a plenty have been made for the week. These plans actually involve us leaving the house and going further afield than the local park and supermarket. I think a few day trips should stem the tide of boredom. This week we have also been promised sun and warmish temperatures. Now these two things have been in such short supply since October last year that I've forgotten what it's like to not wear a scarf outdoors. I envisage this being the beginning of the end of winter and sun might bring a smile to my face, it will certainly mean we can do a lot more fun outdoorsy things. Today though is freezing but I only have to endure one more day before I break out my shorts and sun cream. I often wonder why I live so far north.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

In The Night Garden

There is programme the wee man watches just before bed called In the Night Garden. As he loves it so much I thought I would devote a blog to it. Also it is worth talking about because it's so mindbogglingly mental. There are a lot of kid's shows that I get and can see the point of but with this show I've been watching it for a while and I still have no idea what is going on.

There are lots of different characters who all live in this garden that's up in the stars or the imagination but then that would make them abstract and that would cause a whole load of different problems for me. I will try to give you my interpretation of some of the weirdest characters.

Iggle Piggle- He's blue, runs around waving and fancies a lassie called Oopsy Daisy.

Oopsy Daisy- She's really really annoying. She likes to say her own name over and over again sometimes singing it through a megaphone. Iggle Piggle I imagine one day will come up behind her and beat her to death with it. She also likes to show her knickers to anyone who's interested. In short she is like one of those women you see on a night out whose had a few too many drinks and is in the gutter singing by one in the morning.

Macca Pakka- God only knows what this guy is. He again likes his own name and trundles around the garden with a Zimmer Frame cleaning rocks and people's faces. It's hard to know what the point of this guy is.

The Tombliboos- There are three of them and they would be your neighbours from hell. They play loud and horrendous music and fall over a lot. Avoid if possible.

The Pontipines and The Wattingers- Miniature creatures who live side by side in a semi-detached house. They are the show's interpretation of the middle east crisis, which ones are the Muslims and which ones are the Jews is a matter of personal opinion.

There are various other characters included a demented train and a boobie like airship that 'ponks' stuff. Very weird and all very subversive. But for some reason loads of children LOVE it. It's hard to go into complete detail in a short blog but it's safe to say LSD was used in the conception of this show.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Wee Man Repays Some Of His Debts

Keeping a toddler entertained is hard. We all know this or if you don't I tell you enough times. But keeping a toddler entertained during a wedding ceremony is even harder. Today it was my job to keep the wee man busy for an hour and keep him quiet during the important parts of the ceremony.

The day got off to an auspicious start as I realised that I didn't fit into any of the trouser parts of my suits. This made me very sad as they were a long way off fitting. Being a stay at home dad has done nothing for my waist line but I am more determined than ever not to turn into one of those obese people you see at on TV and say "ewwwwww".  The exercise regime starts tomorrow.

So after I finally found a pair of trousers that accommodated my extra girth and we trotted off to the wedding of a good friend. We were unfortunately only able to make it to the ceremony as all our babysitters were busy and it was a long way to bring him back then go back out again. So we are missing out on a very loud and raucous party which is a shame.

The ceremony though was an exercise is distraction. I had an array of things to keep the wee man entertained from wallets and bank cards to books and multiple packs of raisins and a dummy. To give him his dues the wee man was great and sat happily reading and got very excited by the hymns and his grandfather's singing. Towards the end, as boredom set in, fussiness took over but a quick glance over my shoulder to some pretty girls made him happier and the pretty girls cooed over him which he loved.

It's hard to take in anything that's going on in the ceremony because you're trying hard to preempt what the wee man will want and what will keep him from causing havoc. But today he passed the test and pays off some of the debt he owes me. Good lad.



Friday, 1 March 2013

An Ode To Children's Books

I like to read my son his books,
I can tell he’s excited by the way he looks,
He sits and he listens as I drone,
Intently, intently without a groan.

He loves to hear Green Eggs and Ham,
He loves to point to Sam-I-Am.

Books in the lounge
Books with his lunch
Books one at a time
Or books in a bunch
He likes to read them here and there,
He likes to read them everywhere.

Subjects aplenty subjects diverse,
I keep mine in my pocket, his mum in her purse.

The Cat In The Hat is a favourite of his,
My renditions tend to send him into a tiz.
I leap up on high
I crouch down low
I hope my silliness will make him grow.
He probably thinks I’m a bit of a fool, a fool, a fool,
But I think I’m cool.

Books in the hall,
Books on the wall,
Books in the bin,
These come with a grin.

Apart from his bunny his books he likes best,
Cuddled up tight in pyjamas and vest,
He falls asleep with our words in his ears,
Dreaming of knights on horseback with spears.

So goodnight my young son I’m going to go
To tidy your books that you’ve thrown to and fro
I might even read Green Eggs and Ham
I do like that one Sam-I-Am.