Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dual identity

At work we've got a World Cup prediction league going on. After a good first week, I've had a pretty poor run of form and I'm now lying second behind our work placement student who takes whole days off to get ready for England games. I had England v Sweden down as a 1-1 draw. Which is a good thing given that everyone else seems to have England down as winning every game 5-0. So, with nothing in the real world to really play for in the game, my interest was more in gaining some prediction league points...

England score, 1-0 - YES
Sweden equalise, 1-1 - YES
England score again, 2-1 - BOO
Sweden equalise - YES

I'm so confused.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Babe magnet

I needed some t-shirts, not that this is something you generally needed to know, but it is the reason we went shopping. There hasn't been many tears as a result of losing a stone and a half down the gym in the last year, but there has been a shedload of sweat. My endeavours coupled with particularly unsympathetic washing detergent, has trashed many good and worthy t-shirts. The favourable weather in these parts meant that they needed replacing.

It wasn't the first time we'd gone out with Millie, but due to the heat it was pretty much the first time she could easily be seen in public from her pushchair. As we walked along people (women mostly) would turn and look, nudge their friends and saying 'Ooh look tiny baby'. As she's still pretty small, Millie looks like a brand new born baby, but she has the slightly more controlled demeanour of a six week old, where there for short periods at least, she coos sweetly looking like the most perfect baby in the world... which she is, of course.

When she did cry I took her out of the pram and carried her on my shoulder (a sure fire winner, although I do worry it only stops her crying because it restricts her breathing). As we walked along I began to sense particularly ethereal, barely audible, 'aahhs' from people. Women would tried to catch my eye, but I'm not best at engaging with strangers so I became increasingly conscious of my surrounds. it was like a rather cutesy version of the Blair Witch Project, where you could just about hear voices in the middle distance without ever actually working out which direction they came from.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Health warning

In China, people will tell you, women will give birth in the middle of a paddy field, sling the baby on their back and carry on working. In Britain the support received is somewhat more thorough. Once pregnant, the mother is assigned a community midwife. This is not necessarily the person who will actually deliver your baby, Emma had three additional midwives during her labour, plus a number of others who appeared and disappeared, and doctors, and anaesthetists, and other people. Then there's the post natal midwives who look after mother and baby. Once out of hospital you resume a brief relationship with the community midwife before being handed over to a health visitor.

The health visitor is part nurse, part social worker. A woman with no portfolio; which is probably why she's so keen to create one. The role is less than clear, she seems to have an array of surgeries, groups and meetings, none of which require pre-booking or an appointment, none of which is compulsory. From speaking to others, they're aim is to be as prescriptive and reactive as possible, scaring and stressing out new mothers at every opportunity. The advice they give is always retrospective and generally inconsistent. Emma's health visitor is full of nervous energy, when she first came over we told her that Millie was pretty much sleeping through the night. "EXCELLENT ARE YOU CALM PEOPLE BECAUSE GENERALLY CALM PEOPLE HAVE CALM BABIES ITS GODD TO BE CALM ISN'T IT, I LIKE CALMNESS, IT'S GOOD, BEING CALM, THAT IS". We were calm people until she walked through the door.

She wanted Emma to attend her post-natal classes held at a surgery a couple of miles away. This is despite the fact Emma already goes to a post-natal group and couldn't drive because of the caesarean. The reason given, breathlessly, was that the children that go are the ones Millie will be going to school with. I've just checked the calendar and Millie is 5 weeks old... school doesn't start for another 1,800 days. Feeling that she should at least try to attend, Emma spent the week trying to work out the logistics. She couldn't do it and had to tell the health visitor at the following week's meeting, the health worker, completely contradicting herself, replied "Oh no, I hadn't expected you to come".

Generally speaking Millie's is doing really well. She's alert, she's contented and sleeps well. We're in the rare position of actually enjoying having a new born baby (as opposed to coping with the culture shock on no sleep). What's more, Emma's feeling pretty good after the caesarean and is recovering well. The only issue is that having thrived in the first week, Millie's been losing a bit of weight, this is obviously something that needs reversing. After each weigh-in the health visitor presents a different pearl of wisdom. Looked at in one perspective, Milie has lost 3 ounces in a week, from another she's gained 5.5 in four weeks (or 5% of her birthweight). Not perfect, but not yet a crisis. When her weight did drop a little, the health worker said Emma shouldn't 'go home and cry about it'. She wasn't planning to, but it did get her pondering whether there was actually something serious going on, something to cry about.

If Emma was to take it all on board she would be eating six times a day, doing nothing and waking up Millie in the middle of the night to feed. Given that waking Millie up for a feed is a fool's errand (she just lolls around utterly uninterested) the net result of taking this advice on board will be to make Emma bloated, lethargic and tired. This, along with the fact it is Emma who has to visit the clinic, it makes the term 'health visitor' something of an anomaly.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Nig nogs versus the fuzzy wuzzies

As Simon, Islay and I sat watched the first half of the Sweden versus Trinidad and Tobago game we lightly joked about which stereotypes the commentators would trawl to describe the West Indian debutantes. Simon searched for his answer having dismissed that it was the African's that would be labelled 'defensively naive'.

We concluded, well Islay mostly who claimed to have gleaned much from her mother, that comments would be about the colour they would bring to to the tournament, the constant partying of the fans who and above all, their nice smiles.

Indeed all three were insinuated throughout the game, but we hadn't banked on 'the Trinidad and Tobago players should really be wearing flip flops', that the game would have been fairer 'if it had been half a game of football and half a game of cricket' and that their time wasting was just 'them playing at Caribbean pace'.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

World cup fever

Has hit, hasn't it? We've had a sweepstake at work (I got Croatia and Portugal), the whole thing caused an inordinate amount of excitement, particularly amongst the people whose knowledge extends to knowing that Wayne Rooney plays for Manchester Rovers.

Now, I don't wear novelty Christmas ties to work and I've never been one to dress thematically. A trip round Tesco on the Saturday morning of an England game will tell you that many people do. Lots of people must wake up in the morning and think 'Ooh, England game today, where's my England t-shirt'.

I can just about understand the psychology behind wearing an official England shirt, there's something in the assimilation to affluent, young, fit and celebrated individuals. A vintage England shirt, displays something similar, but a 1966 shirt suggests a deeper, historical appreciation for the game. But what does a generic loosely themed red and white England T-shirt with a number 7 on it say? 'Yes, I want to be assimilated to the affluent, young, fit and celebrated, but I'm clearly none of these and so to accentuate this fact, here's a £6 t-shirt from Asda to prove it.

And what does this fashion for flags on the sides of cars, communicate? Given that they're England flags in England and they only come out during the football it surely says 'I'm English, and I'm going to watch the football on the telly later'. Mindblowing.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shepherds' pie for the soul

I know what you're thinking. What was playing on Ruffles' new iPod whilst he made the dinner last night? Playing on shuffle and drawing from the 6827 songs on it, it came up with...

No for the 13th Time - The Wonder Stuff

Bruce Lee - Underworld

Mobeus - Orbital

Mercy in You - Depeche Mode

Hallelujah (Deadstock Mix) - Happy Mondays

Born to be a Dancer - Kaiser Chiefs

Rockin' It - Deejay Punk Roc

Sitting up Straight - Supergrass

Intro - Nas

And me - Beastie Boys

Izzy Izzy Ahh - Missy Elliot

Hit the Hi-Tech Groove - Pop Will Eat Itself

Potion - Ludacris

Highlight of the week on Big Brother has to have been the argument between Sezer and muscle queen Richard. Well not so much the argument but the aftermath. Tourette-y Celebrity Pete took responsibility to comfort Richard in the garden acknowledging that the pervasive bitching was what fuelled the blow-up.

"They're all a bunch of WANKERS" he said, his infliction attacking him once again... "Ooh, for one my tourettes has context." he concluded with pride.

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