Author: Joe (page 1 of 33)

How Sophie’s shepherd nativity debut unfolded

I’ve seen a lot of school nativities in my time.

Usually, there are a whole host bunch of ridiculously cute small children wearing tinsel, tea towels and terrified faces acting out a vague interpretation of the Christmas story to an excitable sea of uber proud parents, grandparents and other assorted adults.

It’s usually lovely.

But throwing Sophie into that mix was quite nerve wracking. Sure I was very excited about the show, but what if something went wrong…?

I was delighted to get the time off work to go. My manager actually anticipated it asking me if I had one to go to. So I rushed out of work and made the trek across town desperately hoping I wouldn’t be late.

Sophie had been singing the songs with gusto at home for a good five weeks.

Initially she told us she was an angel and we were imagining white dresses halos and a pretty glamourous look.

We got a bit suspicious though when her favourite songs were We must go to Bethlehem and Look, there’s an angel. Surely angels wouldn’t be quite so startled to see one of their own?

Turned out she was a shepherd.

So tea towels after all then.

We saw Sophie coming in with her class to sit down and as soon as she saw us she shrunk back into the teacher, a coy grin plastered all over her face. 

They’d done all the costuming. A deep blue cloak, manly headdress and a little sheep to clutch. We beamed with pride although there was that ridiculous feeling inside – what if she makes a mistake? Sure she wouldn’t.

Next to me her grandparents were so overwhelmingly excited. Pity we couldn’t really see her from our seats. Her lookalike best friend was wearing exactly the same costume and sitting next to her, constantly blocking our view. Occasionally she’d stand up for a quick second, shoot us a grin and an embarrassed wave and then bob down again.

Still we knew she’d be pumping out the showtunes, a veritable array of awesome children’s carols. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of her face and she was so happy.

Narrators bumbled on and off, powering out their words with great enthusiasm and a very cute lack of flow and rhythm. That’s Reception for you.

My favourite character was the donkey. A child in a onesie with a girl in a blue dress and a balloon tummy following him round the stage. Classic.

Finally, it was Sophie’s big moment. The shepherd dance.

She bounded on and jumped her little heart out to the sound of Jump jump jump there’s an angel. It was amazing.

She was probably only on stage for twenty seconds or so but the feeling of parental pride was immense. So lovely. And she smashed it as well.

Afterwards she allowed herself the honour of waving frantically at us, briefly, before disappearing off with her teacher to get changed and return to 2017. The consummate professional.

And so, as we gathered up the tissues which had collected our tears of pride, we thought that was pretty fun.

Same time next year?

Why shift work has brought Christmas round more quickly

It can’t just be that now I’m comfortably into my 30s ,Christmas appears on the horizon more quickly.

I know the grey hairs are proliferating but I can’t accept that’s the reason.

I prefer to blame the ever shifting nature of shift work and the weird impact on the body.

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Life as a commuter

Three weeks since crashing the car, I’ve had a fair bit of time to reflect on what it’s like getting public transport to work.
And whether it’s 6 o clock in the morning or 10 o’clock at night, the quirks and joys of commuting are easy to see.
First of all, there’s the timetable. Within a week I’d ditched the train in favour of the tram purely because of the inconvenient times and frustrating platform waiting.
I don’t mind walking a fair trek out of my way if it at least keeps me vaguely in charge of my own destiny.
The tickets are a bit of minefield. Peak v off peak. Travelcards. Bonus excess cards. We’ve got it all. And none of it seems to save me any money.

Then there’s what to do when on the tram. Heaven forbid you speak on the phone – although silence is not quite as expected as on the tube, it’s still a heavy unwritten rule.
Anyone who breaks it is a trailblazer. I found myself unwittingly fascinated by the yarn a girl was spinning on the phone the other day to a friend who’d broken the heart of some guy. A real life soap opera.
Speaking of people, public transport is an amazing snapshot of city life. All ages, including the kids who climb on the handrails, shapes and nationalities. It’s pretty interesting watching them actually.
That is when I’m not checking out my phone like everybody else. My data has almost run out for this month already with three weeks to go thanks to public transport. Ouch.
I’ve even seen two former pupils. Naturally I kept my head down and didn’t acknowledge I’d seen them. They can’t find out I’m a real person outside school obviously.
(And to be fair I’d have no doubt embarrassed them in front of their friends. It’s better for everyone this way).
And the worst of all is when the service stops working. What do you do? Last weekend the trams simply stopped running and I found myself stranded six miles from home in the rain at 10 o’clock at night.
I did what any self respecting person would do…and inadvertently ran/walked the six miles home emerging like a drowned rat into our house about 11 o’clock.
So now we’re actively exploring a replacement car and I’ve got to say I can’t wait. Sitting in your own space, with the radio on, getting from a to b with the minimum of fuss.
Apart from the traffic. Urgh. Life as a commuter is perennially frustrating.

Another giantkilling on our watch

What a weekend.

Day off on Friday was spent tearing down to London to watch the ATP World Tour Finals – a long-held dream fulfilled.

However, just as we saw Mo Farah and Usain Bolt fail in spectacular fashion when we went to the World Athletics back in August, we were in situe to witness the downing of another favourite.

And the rising of a new hero out of nowhere.

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Harry and Sophie in footwear refresher 

There comes a point where you have to accept that your child, despite your best efforts to discourage him, is going to start walking.

That’s the time when every cupboard gets childproofed, stair gates are slammed up, anything within reach is plonked on the highest possible shelf.

It’s also the time when thrifty parents have to loosen the purse strings and buy some shoes to help them with their development.

We just didn’t expect Sophie to get herself involved at the same time.

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Happy 1st birthday Harry

When Sophie turned one, I couldn’t quite believe how fast the time had gone.

That’s nothing compared to how quickly year one has been for Harry.

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On the other side of Parents Evening

So Sophie had her first school Parents Evening last week and I was fascinated to experience what it was like.

Gotta say…it was weird.

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Miscarriage Awareness Week

It’s Miscarriage Awareness Week and my wife’s doing a bake sale at work to raise money for Tommy’s, a charity which endeavours to conduct research into miscarriage and stillbirth and support families undergoing these traumas.

Nothing particularly unusual about that.

However, she’s doing three half marathons as well.

And that’s because the experiences Tommy’s helps couples through are very close to our heart.

Delve a little deeper, uncover the heartache we personally went through two years ago this month and you’ll see the scar tissue is still raw. 

I don’t tell our story at all to curry sympathy or to make anyone upset. 

But if in some small way it helps people be a bit more open (and donate to this excellent charity too via her Just Giving page) it’s definitely a good thing.


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On the eve of a new job

It’s a month into the new school term and I’m preparing to start a brand new job tomorrow.

As many of you know, that’s not in the system I’ve dedicated myself to for the past eight years.

A new dawn rises and I’m excited.

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The start of school

It’s a very strange irony but as I adjust – quite happily – to the lack of school in my daily life, Sophie is revelling in her first few days of pre-school.

For me, it’s been a real joy to take her along and  experience those new times with her. It’s something that would have been simply impossible had I stayed put.

For her, it’s been a wide-eyed adventure into the unknown and one that apparently she is absolutely loving.

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