Category Archives: Dadhood

Hello again, it’s good to be back

125_g.jpgIn case you were wondering where I’ve been, we’ve been having a baby.  That and an avalanche of work has kept me rather quiet. We didn’t have no.3 at home (like we did no.2), but York community midwives were again fantastic, just this time at the hospital; I can’t thank them enough.

And that’s a FACT!

Fascinating (and rather disturbing) piece over at Bad Science about the MMR scare; he unflinchingly places the blame for the whole MMR/Autism thing at the feet of journalists and the Blairs.

After her MMR booster number one daughter showed some symptoms of Measles.  This is not uncommon.  What freaked me out was the reaction of health professionals who simply assumed that we had not had her immunised and that she actually had measles. Seeing that take up of the vaccine has dropped to 73% makes their reactions make sense.  Eyes rolling, sighing, and a general air of “you twat” must be the only way they can deal with it, I guess.

Babies vs. Patio Heaters

So…  Having a third child is “worse than having a patio heater“, is it?  In an age when this country’s birthrate is dropping rapidly and where the under eighteens are outnumbered by the over sixties for the first time it seems to be to be highly disingenuous to suggest that population growth is a problem in the UK.  In fact, much opinion suggests that exactly the opposite is the case.

Not only are many couples opting to have either no children or only one child, we are also having our children much later in life.  These two factors combine to cause a genuine risk of Britain not even achieving the “lowest low” (a birthrate of ~1.3, where population halves in 45 years and the decline becomes unrecoverable) let alone the “replacement rate” of 2.1. Countries like Japan, South Korea, Italy, Spain and Greece are already below 1.3, while the UK is at 1.65 and falling.

I may be biased (Claire is expecting our third child in January), but I can’t help feeling that a country at least maintaining its replacement rate can’t be anything but healthy.  I can’t even persuade myself that this is controversial view, surely?

This article on the topic of birthrate at the New York Times is long (10 pages), but well worth the read if you’ve got 5 minutes.

Children’s books

I’ve been tagged by Rowan. This time to ‘fess up to the favourite children’s books in our house. This one I appreciate, as I’m always on the hunt for new books for our two. Amy is 4 and Irie is 2 and they both demand to be read to pretty much constantly. The age range makes for difficult choices, as Amy can happily sit through really quite long books now, while Irie is obviously at a much younger age. That said, all she wants is to be like her sister, so she’ll gamely try pretty much anything…

I’m assuming I can’t mention ones Rowan already has, which is a shame, as Irie’s favourite book by a country mile is Mr Wolf’s Pancakes… Still, there are plenty more…

Mr DizzyFirst up has to be Amy’s current favourite. She’s obsessed with Mr Men at the moment, and Mr Dizzy has her in gales of laughter when the oh-so-smug Elephant shouts “Dopit dopit!” with a knot in its trunk. My mum brought us a whole heap of mid seventies editions of Mr Men books from my childhood recently and I must admit to finding the moral a touch iffy in quite a few of them, but this one is (apparently) genuinely funny. There’s no accounting for taste, I guess.

Little Rabbit Foo FooFor Irie after Mr Wolf’s Pancakes it has to be Little Rabbit Foo Foo. He is so very naughty, which I think Irie rather digs. And his punishment only seems to cause amusement, not concern. Michael Rosen is cool, too, which helps.

Topsy and Tim at the FarmAfter the Mr Men Amy’s next obsession is Topsy and Tim. Yes, yes… I’m not sure quite how my kids got into the children’s books equivalent of seventies public service films either. That said, Topsy and Tim At The Farm (for example), holds genuine appeal. The utterly real nature of the stories gives us lots to talk about and Amy is quite happy to place herself in the story. Irie thinks they’re boring – and says so.

Rastamouse and the Crucial PlanRastamouse And The Crucial Plan is mine really. I love reading it (it gives me a chance to do my shit Jamaican accent); the rhythm of the words and the rather cheesy plot (they are mice, after all) make it great for Dads to read aloud. I also like the fact that apart from White Teeth it’s one of the few places you’ll find the word Irie defined, as there’s a helpful dictionary of patois at the back of each book in the series.

Harry the Dirty DogLast but not least it was a toss up between two ancient books that Claire and I loved as kids. I’ve gone for Harry the Dirty Dog, but it could equally have been The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Both stories are really a bit rubbish in modern terms, but the kids seem to love them and I’ve read them so many times that I can recite both off by heart.

What this makes me realise is that our kids, despite having tens, nearly hundreds, of books seem to go for the older ones. I’m guessing this is down to the fact that we own lots of books that Claire and I liked when we were children ourselves and so read them more often, but it does seem a little odd.

I’m pretty sure I’ll read anything that gets dragged off the shelf (except perhaps a rather appalling rendition of the nativity which makes my skin crawl) so maybe they’re choosing the Topsy and Tim, Mr Men, Harry the Dirty Dog and so on by themselves? Time will tell, I guess. If I find Amy with a Secret Seven habit a year or two from now then I’ll know it’s actually all down to me.

So, who to tag? Richard (if you’re reading this), Stef (leave something in the comments), Monty (after your “bat before ball” comment the other day I’m looking to your parenting skillz to get me through) and Francois (anything except Richard Scarry, the girls won’t buy it however hard I try). I’m desperate for recommendations, so any other readers with kids please take up the baton too.

Whither In The Night Garden?

I can’t be the only person wondering what on earth has happened to the BBC’s In The Night Garden… After much fanfare and promotion it took to our screens in March. They had announced 100 episodes, yet so far have only shown 10. More amazingly they repeated those 10 episodes after only 2 weeks, and then took the programme off air. A total of 10 episodes (each shown 6 times!) doesn’t really account for the marketing fanfare and PR machinery that went on.

Characters are still included in interstitials and so on, yet there’s no mention of where it’s gone. The Christmas merchandising run is obviously beginning (here, here and press release here), but those of us who’s children (and us) that had fallen in love with are left wondering what on earth is going on. It’s clearly captured the hearts and minds of its audience; “makka pakka” is the single most common search term to hit this blog, for example.

I Have therefore taken it upon myself to find out; for you gentle reader, as I know you are worried too. And indeed, it’s not that hard to find out what’s actually happened. This thread over at the CBeebies parent’s message board from 3 weeks ago (log in required) has the following statement:

“We’re thrilled that In the Night Garden has been so well received by young children around the country and I’m sorry the current run has ended.

“But I take heart in the strong reaction to the series ending that we have really connected with our audiences. Ragdoll is busily beavering away on new episodes and we plan to bring them to you as fast as we can.

“Each programme is carefully crafted and takes time to complete, so that’s likely to be in about 6 weeks.”


  • firstly, 100 episodes my arse, in fact they’ve only made 10 (despite the programme being announced in October 2005 and the toy deal being announced in April 2006),
  • secondly, only making the announcement on a hard to find and closed message board is not exactly looking after your audience, is it?
  • and thirdly, why on earth not just keep showing repeats? The kids don’t care and we’ve seen it a damn sight less than the Andy Pandy, Charlie and Lola, Our Planet, Muffin the Mule and all that other rubbish that’s replace it.

Boo, BBC, boo. You could have done this a lot better. On the positive side, it sounds like it’s only 3 weeks to go before new episodes grace our screens.

Blue Pontipines

If, like me, you’ve been wondering about the mysterious blue Pontipines (who are they, why do we never see them except in the dance, are they Pontipines at all, etc etc) I can shed a little light…

They are in fact not Pontipines at all, but Wottingers. Why they play such a tiny part in the show compared to every other character I’m yet to discern, but at least that’s a start.