Don’t call me frozen

As I hurtle towards my 40th birthday (just over 15 months to go!) I keep seeing and hearing little things that make me feel my age.

Take this year’s World Cup, for example. I’ve lost count of the number of things that last happened 32 years ago, such as Algeria’s last World Cup finals win. 32 years ago, frighteningly, was 1982, the first World Cup I remember watching.

And then there’s Father’s Day, where the “Dad” compilation albums have moved on a bit – the 70s and 80s classic rock versions are still out there, but they’ve now been joined by ones focusing on Britpop and other 90s stuff. I’ve even caught myself singing along to the odd advert, and thinking “that sounds good”, before realising how past it that makes me.

So when I heard Pearl Jam, my favourite band in the world, had tagged Frozen’s Let It Go onto the end of one of their own songs at the weekend, I thought it would be my chance to score some cool points.

Did I succeed? Well, I’m not so sure. To begin with, Megan fell out with me because I’d commandeered the iPad to show them the YouTube clip. Apparently Play-Doh tutorials are far more important!

Heather took more of an interest, and her face was an absolute picture when she realised what the song was. But even she wasn’t that interested. No cool points for me then.

I’m not sure about the rest of the guys, but I know that Eddie Vedder, like me, has two young daughters, and I suspect they may have had something to do with this particular song choice. And even though he doesn’t quite hit all the notes like Idina Menzel (who can, though?) I reckon it’s a decent attempt, and maybe he’s got the cool points that I didn’t.

I guess I can live with that. Especially if they’d pull the finger out and come back to Scotland, neglected for over 14 years, now. An old man can dream, can’t he?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Last minute Father’s Day gifts

With the girls still being a bit young to buy their own gifts when it comes to birthdays, Christmas etc, it’s still up to Gem and I to do the honours. When it comes to Mother’s Day, I seem to have attracted a reputation for being a bit rubbish at it, which is entirely unjustified. I’m pretty sure this comes from Gem’s first couple of Mother’s Days, which were spent travelling back from Dubai and Lincolnshire respectively.

Not exactly the luxury pampering experience you might want, but it’s not my fault our travel plans coincided with such an important day, or that my wonderful idea of picking up gifts in Dubai duty free backfired a little because we didn’t have as much time to kill in the airport as I’d thought. Still, though, I’ve not forgotten one yet, so that’s good, right?

There have, however, been one or two last minute purchases over the years – the sort of “oh, that date is this Sunday? Really???” last minute purchase we’ve all done on occasion.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, Father’s Day is this Sunday coming, and I’m sure Gem has things well in hand. The girls have certainly let slip enough information to let me know that there are plans afoot, although I have no idea what. I thought I’d jot a few ideas down here anyway, though, just in case they’re required. You never know…

Beer/Whisky

WhiskyI was into craft beer before it was fashionable, but it’s good of everyone else to catch up because it means more choice for me. My only complaint is that all the good shops in Glasgow have been on the other side of the city, but that’s now changed with the opening of Drygate in the East End. I’ve yet to visit, but the range of beers behind the bar and in the shop looks impressive, as does the food. In fact, I wonder if we have any lunch plans on Sunday…

Whisky is something my father-in-law got me into, and I’m very glad he did. Like him, I tend to go for the Islay whiskies like Laphroaig and Lagavulin, but more recently I’ve developed a fondness for the Highland region too, with Macallan Gold and Ardmore being two of my most recent discoveries. Whisky stocks are quite low at the moment, but to be honest a nice bottle never goes amiss!

Cycling gear

Trek hybrid bike

If I’ve learned one thing in the last year, it’s that cycling requires lots of stuff. Most of mine has been picked up on the cheap, and with summer now on its way, I’m realising I could do with some extra tops/shorts to throw into the rotation – the current crop are starting to smell a bit, no matter how many times they’ve been washed. Sports Direct have a decent range of cycling tops and shorts, and I’ve been happy with previous purchases from their Muddy Fox range, so would have no qualms acquiring more.

Failing that, some running socks wouldn’t go amiss either!

Music

Gemma’s one failing when it comes to Father’s Day came in 2010, when part of my present was an IOU for Slash’s first album, which four years later I’m still waiting on. These days I’m more likely to stream something on Spotify, or download it from iTunes though, so some kind of voucher is probably the way to go

So there you have it – some last minute gift ideas that would make me (and I’m sure many other dads) happy. Although to be honest, I’ll be delighted just getting a lie-in followed by a day with my three favourite girls. :)

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Such a perfect day

Anyone who’s been reading my drivel for a while, will probably remember last year’s Christmas production, The 12 Dads of Christmas. If not, go check it out now, and I’ll see you in a few minutes.

Ben from Mutterings of a Fool, who put that triumph together has only gone and done it again, this time featuring Perfect Day as a sort of tribute to Lou Reed. I say sort of, because normally tributes are, um, in tune.

My contribution is particularly special, because I completely failed to get the toy piano I was playing in shot, and consequently look a bit simple.

All that remains to say I hope that whatever you’re doing, tomorrow is your perfect day. And without further ado, I now give you Perfect Day by the Backstreet Dads. Merry Christmas!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

I got your name tattooed inside of my arm

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, courtesy of Last Year’s Girl

Last night Gem and I went to see The Gaslight Anthem at Glasgow’s O2 Academy. The girls, meanwhile, went to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a sleepover, something they absolutely adore. That doesn’t stop them being curious about what Mummy and Daddy will be doing of course.

“We’re going to see a band playing. You like some of their songs. You sing along to them in the car” I said, before breaking out YouTube to show her who I was talking about, and what the experience might look like. What I wasn’t expecting was the question that followed:

“Why does he have so many tattoos?”

Gem and I were talking about this later, and agreed that the chances of either of us having seen a tattoo were slim – in those days they were reserved almost exclusively for sailors, builders and convicts. But that was a long time ago, and times have changed. Just because neither of us have ever felt the urge to get inked, doesn’t mean plenty of our friends haven’t. Among our generation, tattoos are as commonplace as glasses or dyed hair. Or beards.

And, getting back to the story, it’s undeniable that Brian Fallon is a man with a lot of tattoos, including that one on his neck that must have stung a bit. So I answered in a suitably matter-of-fact manner.

“Yes, Heather he does. Some people have lots of tattoos. Do you not like them?”

If we weren’t expecting the initial question, we certainly weren’t expecting her next response, which left the two of us pretty much speechless.

“No, he has too many. I mean, if it was a Hello Kitty…”

Me and Gem just looked at each other, dumbfounded. Here was our little girl discussing the relative merits of different tattoos. I can’t honestly remember how we responded to that. It might even have been at that point that Heather pointed out the 2 guys in the video walking through the Reading Festival crowd, dressed as Mario and Luigi.

But it was certainly an interesting moment, and one which, combined with her being almost word perfect on Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”*, confirms that she’s getting older all the time. Our little girl isn’t so little now, she’s learning more about the world every day, and is more than capable now of holding her own opinions on all sorts of things.

Including tattoos, although I’m not so sure Brian Fallon would agree with her taste.

*Incidentally, Megan also loves a bit of Taylor Swift, and will happily sing “Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble” whenever she hears it

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Let me sleep (it’s Christmas time)

I’m not sure why it took me so long to pay attention to the BritMums festive playlist linky, I’m just glad I spotted it in time to take part.

The format here is pretty straightforward – pick (at least) five festive songs and explain why I love them. Given that a week or so ago we spent a night building a spreadsheet whilst trying to decide which Christmas album to buy (Heather insisted on Christmas music in the car) and have been listening to Christmas music at home pretty much ever since, it shouldn’t be that hard to do, right?

There are, of course, plenty of very obvious songs I could include here. But where’s the fun in that – everyone’s already heard Slade, Band Aid, Wizzard and the Pogues (feat Kirsty McColl) more times than they probably care to mention. So, instead, I present here a bunch of less well-known Christmas songs which are floating my boat this festive season.

1. Pearl Jam – Let Me Sleep
Lifted from a 1991 fan club single, this anti-festive ditty is actually quite nostalgic at its heart. When you were a kid there really was something magical about Christmas, and now I’m getting to see that all over again, through the girls’ eyes.

2. Noel Gallagher – Merry Christmas Everybody
I’m pretty sure this was recorded for a Royle Family Christmas special back in the late 90s. I’m also sure my dad hated it when I played it, because it’s a bit more melancholy than the Slade original. But that’s its charm!

3. Manic Street Preachers – Ghost of Christmas
Another nostalgic one this, and one I suspect the Manics would never have dreamed of recording at their outset. I mean, it’s got saxophone and everything! No idea where the visuals in the below clip come from btw, pretty sure they’re nothing to do with the song itself.

4. Geraldine McQueen – Once Upon a Christmas Song
Is this obvious? I don’t know, but Peter Kay’s Christmas parody is certainly not one you’ll find on any commercial Christmas compilation, that’s for sure. Which is a shame, because it’s actually a decent tune, and one which definitely gets stuck in my head every time I hear it.

Bonus fact: I once saw Conleth Hill, the actor who played Geraldine’s mum on TV, in a Russian play about a suicide. He was very good, as was the play.

5. Lou Monte – Dominick the Donkey
Anyone who listened to the Chris Moyles Show will know this one, as it got played to death, in honour of newsreader Dominic Byrne. I think it might even have got into the Christmas charts a couple of years ago, presumably around the time we bought it. The only other time I’ve seen/heard it mentioned was by my cousin last year, just after he’d moved to New York, questioning if it was a real thing!

And speaking of the Real Thing (see what I did there?) this linky is all in aid of promoting Coca Cola’s Designated Driver programme, which you can find out more about by clicking on the link below.

Update: Only after I’d posted this did I discover Chris T-T has recorded a Christmas EP. I’ve seen Chris a few times now, and have written about how his brilliant Disobedience album inspired me to read AA Milne to Heather, so I’ll definitely be picking this new EP up. I’m pretty sure it would have made this list, had I done so in time!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!