• Night Garden – Shit Houses

    In the Night Garden

    Today I got into an online debate about ‘In the Night Garden’ with a mum who’s a massive fan of it. (She’d seen an earlier post when I’d suggested that Iggle Piggle and Upsy-Daisy were nazis and ‘Jen’ wasnt at all happy).

    At one point she argued that “The Night Garden is sweet, is about fun and friendship and at the end of the day wouldn’t the Night Garden be just a lovely place to live?”.

    To which I replied: “Really? OK, ..but in whose house?”

    And it’s an important point.. If you had to live in the Night Garden whose house would you live in? Because they’re all well crap.

    The Tombliboo house looks nice from the outside but the interior looks like its been built out of twiglets and varnished dog shit.

    Makka Pakka’s cave is basically a f*cking tomb. And its also built in a dry river-bed on a flood plain.. which means if there’s a flash flood he’s f*cked it. (And in a flood the first thing that goes is the sewage drains, so any prolonged rainfall and he’s going to be either dead or knee-deep in Ha Hoo shit).

    On the face of it The Pontipines have the best house but you’ve got to bear in mind that it’s a semi-detached and the Wottingers next door have got 8 bloody kids.

    Obviously, The Wottingers have exactly the same problem.. living next door to the Pontipines and their 8 kids. But for them its even worse because they’ve got to live next door to Mr Pontipine… who I’ve always thought was a bit of a smug prick.. with his dopey moustache.. that he obviously thinks makes him look like Magnum but actually just looks like a hippy’s bush has been stuck to his stupid ball-shaped face.

    Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle dont even have a house. Upsy daisy’s got a bed on wheels that she drags around like some lost mental patient after a f*cking apocalypse.. and Iggle is apparently homeless. He’s just got an old crusty blanket. I don’t even know where he sleeps, but if the Night Garden has a branch of Greggs he’s probably curled up in the doorway every night freezing his bollocks off and drinking lighter fluid.

    So like I said to Jennifer, The Night Garden would not be a lovely place to live at all.. “and you saying it is is just papering over the cracks of the fact that it’s in the grip of a severe housing crisis”.

    …..

    Jennifer: “Matt, you have got waaaay too much time on your hands”.

    Yeah, that’s a fair point.

  • Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure (review)

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    Up until this week, the best thing I’ve seen on an ice rink was when Todd Carty tanked it on the 2009 series of Dancing on Ice.    Closely followed by when ‘Keith Chegwin’ face-planted on the 2013 series.

    So, when we got offered tickets to Disney on Ice ‘Passport to Adventure’ I said ‘absolutely’ and jumped at the chan….

    ..OK fair enough, that’s not true… what I actually said was.. “I’m not going to that.. I don’t even watch skating when its on for the olympics.. I”m not going to enjoy it any more just because one of the skaters is dressed like a massive crab and everybody’s singing ‘Under The Sea’. So, thanks, no thanks.

    Then Lyns said, in not so many words.. Charlie will enjoy it, we’re going.. don’t be such a miserable dick.

    So we went.

    And Charlie did enjoy it.  In fact, he absolutely bloody loved it.  From the moment Nick Wild and Officer Hops from Zootroplis kicked off the whole thing with a dancealong he was absolutely mesmerised.  And he remained that way all the way through to the reproduction of Frozen (the crowd reacting to Olaf’s entrance like it was Bowie at the Hammersmith Apollo in 78′).

    The atmosphere was a thing to behold.. kids love this stuff. I mean reeeally love this stuff.  Jacked up on coke and popcorn and brandishing flashy, lighty sticks like they are riding into battle… they go crazy for it.  And Charlie was no different.. he genuinely couldn’t take his eyes off the ice, captivated. And he remained that way for the whole two hours (which for a toddler with the attention span of a cod is just remarkable).

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    So Charlie enjoyed it.  But, here’s the weird thing… so did I.  Yes Disney gave us the tickets for free, but Mickey hasn’t got a gun to my head as I type this.. I could easily say its crap and there’s nothing the big mouse could do about it.  (If it came to a straight fight I reckon I could take him).

    But it was strange to enjoy it so much.  And not just me and Charlie.  We went along as three generations.. Charlie, me and his mum but also his nan.  And that is what Disney does so well.. it spans generations easily.  It’s what makes everything they do such pure, in its bones family entertainment.. and Disney on ice is no different.

    The stars of this show are Peter Pan, The little Mermaid, the cast of Frozen and Zootropolis.. That is over sixty years of Disney, and the different eras are brought together in a show that for Charlie had the feel of something new and relevant.. But in me, it conjured nostalgia for a time of pantos and spectacle.  A time when family entertainment wasn’t a competition decided by buzzing X’s or the humiliation of Z-list celebrities.

    So, thank you Disney (and Instinct PR) for the tickets.  And if you get the chance to go as a family… go.   You wont get to see ‘Cheggers’ faceplant but you’ll get something better than that.  A proper show.

    *strolls away humming ‘Under the Sea’..*

    Disney-on-ice

  • So, Charlie is two years old today.

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    So Charlie is two years old today. And I can think of nothing better to post than this bit out of the book… part of a letter to Charlie explaining how he came to exist in the first place…

    ———————————-

    “…So, before you came along, we were happy and had a pretty good life. We didn’t really talk about having kids. Weirdly, it just didn’t come up that often and as we got older I think we both just kind of assumed that we wouldn’t have any.

    Then one morning in 2009, I got a phone call from my dad, your Grandad Gerald. He sounded kind of confused and he stumblingly explained that he wasn’t feeling too well. That morning, he’d been in church and when asked to do a reading he found himself halfway through and unable to concentrate. The words were spidering across the page and he couldn’t quite focus. Worried, we took him off to the hospital and, after a few days of tests, it turned out that he was more unwell than we thought and he had a type of cancer that had spread to his brain.

    (Note: If you’re not Charlie and you’re reading this, I know what you’re thinking: Wow, this light-hearted book on parenting just took a serious left turn. Thanks a lot Matt, two pages ago I was having fun and now I feel like putting my head in the fucking oven. Well, don’t turn on the gas just yet. Because this is the story of how Charlie came to be).

    There are times for all of us when circumstance will plunge its fist into your chest, tear out your heart and show it to you, pink and beating. And for the year that my dad had left, as a family we were hollowed out. I miss your grandad a lot, and it feels like something is out of kilter with reality that you and him will never meet. You’d have got on.

    But, in the months he had left we talked a lot about us as father and son. He apologised a lot for the mistakes he’d made as a parent. There weren’t any, but he apologised anyway. I apologised for my mistakes as a son. There were plenty but he pretended there weren’t. And, he talked about how he had come to terms with what was to come because his kids were settled and happy.

    These were strange conversations. Maybe it’s because when you’re talking to someone who is dying everything they say seems somehow profound and worth listening to.

    What these conversations did, though, was make me see parenthood slightly differently. Your grandad was still a young man at the time of his diagnosis and so had been given a pretty shitty deal. But he accepted that deal more easily because his children were happy, and I thought that a curious thing. There was no way, placed in his position, I could have so easily accepted such a raw fate, just because another human (even one that I was related to) was okay.

    I started to realise that being a parent was defined by an odd sort of selflessness. An unselfishness I just didn’t have, and that the relationship between a parent and their kid was a genuinely unique one. And, maybe, as I lost one relationship to the great nothing, the closest I would ever find to it again would be from the other side of that equation as a dad to a son or daughter.

    So, when your grandad died, this experience, these conversations and this new wisdom got scooped up with the feelings of mortality that come along with a parent dying. Your mum was close to your grandad and she felt the same sense, and all of this stuff was smashed together to make us realise that it might be quite good if you were in our lives.

    In the weeks after your grandad died, me and your mum had that conversation: The one that cemented our decision to try for a baby. And, in that moment, we felt like we had called out to the universe.. and you, our Charlie, boarded a big, fuck-off, white egg, like Superman leaving his home planet, and you would crash land into our lives at your earliest convenience.

    It didn’t work that way. The universe was an un-cooperative shithead.

    It would be four years before you landed. Four years of disappointments and defeats, false starts and sometimes brutal sadness. And, your absence began to feel like a weight belt. But your mum is determined and I’m disney-optimistic and we didn’t give up.

    Like so many parents for whom having kids is not straightforward, every time we walked into the wood-chipper of disappointment, we walked out the other side, bloodied but determined to reassemble ourselves and keep going. With no guarantees, nothing like simple certainty.

    Then you happened. Your superman egg appeared on the radar. Faint at first, but a clear blip. We wouldn’t get carried away or get our hopes up, but it was there, blipping away, and as you got closer the blipping got stronger.

    And three months after you announced that you were on your way (in the beautifully, inauspicious guise of a smiley emoticon on a piss-covered plastic stick).. we saw you on a screen, and the moment that we saw your black and white feet and a grainy middle finger, it felt like something perfect.

    And it was.

    Dad x

  • Baby Changing Rooms… of Doom.

    Baby Changing Rooms of Doom

    …used a baby-changing room today (in a branch of a well known, tax-dodging coffee shop). And it was horrific.

    Can anyone explain why they bother having these facilities, only to let the room become so filthy that a baddie from Scooby-Doo would think twice before having a shit in it?

    It is amazing how much a baby-changing room sign can mean to a parent when their infant has just detonated a level-9 in a packed shopping centre. This symbol is a beacon, a light guiding us to a place of refuge. A panic room. Baby Changing Rooms can be more than a place to change a nappy, they can be a room to retreat to and regroup. That’s the good ones.

    Unfortunately, the good ones are few and far between.. and the bad ones are a f*cking horror…
    You can normally tell, before you even open the door, by its grim handle and by the crooked sign above the entrance: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”. And, as you open the door, there is a rumble of thunder and a dog howls plaintively in the distance.. Welcome to a cubicle of doom:

    A flickering strip-light overhead illuminates what appears to be a disused crack-house. If you are lucky there isn’t the chalk-line of a recent murder victim still visible on the stained floor. A floor that’s so sticky (with christ knows what) it sucks your shoe off as you walk in. You notice one of those “This facility was last checked by” sheets on the wall.. but its just a stone tablet hanging from an ancient cobweb. (“This facility was last checked by Pliny the Elder in 74AD”).

    And, cold, shivering and wary.. you approach the fold-down shelf thing..

    A shelf that appears to have been used by a tramp hosing off his balls. Its f*cking filthy. You wouldn’t euthanise a badger on this f*cking thing let alone change your baby. (Also, there always seems to be food crumbs in the hinges.. like you’d find in an oven door .. who the f*ck is feeding their baby on this??)
    Who hasn’t taken one look into a place like this and opted to change their baby somewhere more appropriate like the car, or a bench, or a derelict pig-shed.

    But sometimes you’re desperate. Sometimes there is no choice. And, so you place the most precious thing in your life onto a surface that has enough bacteria to wipe out France. And demand that your clueless infant not touch anything. As your baby, instead, decides that this is the appropriate time to start licking the walls and pawing everything in sight.

    The worst thing about the bad baby change rooms isn’t even the hygiene levels, or the fact that they look like Jeffrey Dahmer’s abandoned cellar. It is the fact that nothing is ever replenished. Everything is empty. The box of changing mat covers is empty, the soap dispenser just spits out dust, you are lucky to find water that’s running let alone hot.

    And, the design of these places is clearly the job of a f*cking idiot. Why is everything out of reach?? What is the point of having a big sign saying: “Don’t leave your baby on this surface unattended” if you are then going to place the soap, the bin, the sink and everything else precisely 12 inches out of arms length. The average arm span of a human is 5 feet 7 inches.. Just put everything within that f*cking range. Jesus.

    …Even, If you and your baby survive the ordeal of changing.. Then there is the nappy bin.. the throbbing, glowing, radioactive container in the corner of the room.. slowly cultivating the virus that f*cked everyone over in the film ‘Outbreak’. Obviously, the foot pedal doesn’t work so you have to use your hands to prise open the lid and close it quickly.. before the gas that is released has the same face-melting effect as opening the Ark of The Covenant had on the gestapo bloke from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Baby Changing Rooms are supposed to make life easier for parents and on the whole they do. It reflects well on a society that it wants to soften a new parent’s day. There is no legal obligation to provide these rooms, so businesses obviously think that they are a good way of encouraging young families, with cash to spend, to come on in.

    ..So, why go to all the trouble of creating one and then make it as welcoming as Death’s arsehole?
    Answers on a wipe-clean postcard to the Sheffield branch of a well known, tax-dodging coffee shop.

    www.facebook.com/manversusba

  • Another day, another parent-friendly coffee shop…

    Coffee Shop and Babies

    – Could I have a cup of hot water please? I just want to warm the baby’s food.

    – No. We can’t let you have a cup of hot water.

    – Really, why not?

    – It’s Health and Safety.

    – mm. But I’ve just bought 2 cups of tea from here and they were the same temperature as the Earth’s core.

    – And?

    – Well, the only difference between those cups of tea and a cup of hot water is that the tea cost £2.50 and its brown.

    – Sorry, we still can’t give you a cup of hot water. It’s Health and Safety. Can I get you anything else?

    – Yes, could I get another cup of tea please?

    – Certainly, How would you like it?

    – Er. I’ll take it with no milk, no sugar, and no teabag please.

    [*Blank expression*]
    – But, …that would be a cup of hot water.

    – Now you’re catching on.

    – We can’t serve you that.

    – Why not?

    -It’s Health and Safety.

    ….And, in the distance, over on table 12, a hungry baby wept bitterly.. as it realised that it had joined the human race and it was a race full of dead-eyed twonks.

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  • Tough week…

    Tough week. Charlie’s mum’s maternity leave ended. So the person in our house who prevents fires etc. returned to work.. Whilst I found myself looking after our little boy properly on my own..

    Its true to say that as Lyns walked out the door that first morning there was quite a few tears, sobbing, and protest-soiling.. but, in my defence, by lunchtime I had calmed down a bit.

    Anyway, to alleviate Lyns’ concerns about leaving Charlie in the care of a f*ckwit, I promised to keep in touch…

    www.facebook.com/manversusbaby/

    Texts

  • Book Tour Dates 2017

    Thursday April 20th – SOLD OUT! The Man vs Baby Rave/Book Launch, Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield
    https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/man-vs-baby-rave-book-launch-party-tickets-32865483546?aff=es2

    Thursday April 27th – Sheffield Waterstones (Orchard Square) 7.00pm – 8.30pm – £3.00 incl glass of wine
    https://www.waterstones.com/events/an-evening-with-matt-coyne/sheffield-orchard-square

    Wed 17 May, Chorleywood Bookstore, Chorleywood, – £8 Tickets (with Scummy Mummies)
    http://chilternbookshops.co.uk/events/evening-scummy-mummies-matt-coyne

    Thurs 18 May, Reading Waterstones, Reading – £5 Tickets (with Scummy Mummies)
    https://www.waterstones.com/events/an-evening-with-matt-coyne-and-the-scummy-mummies/reading-broad-street

    Wednesday 14 June, Urmston Library, Manchester 7.30pm This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite, phone 0161 912 3189 or email libraries@trafford.gov.uk

    Saturday 16th September – Chiswick Book Festival, details to follow..

  • Baby Hagrid

    Hagrid Baby

    So, this week, I accidentally called a woman’s baby: ‘Hagrid’.

    To explain…when I very first posted about this parenting stuff, I suggested that all babies are indistinguishable and that they all look like Ross Kemp. (What I actually said was that all babies look like one of the Mitchell brothers.. if you’ve got an ugly baby.. its Phil).

    Anyway, after eight months I’ve started to be able to distinguish between the babies at our drop-in health clinic. Only thing is, I don’t know their names.. So, just in my head, I use nicknames..

    There’s one baby that’s always chewing on his mum’s clothes, I call him ‘The Moth’, there’s one kid that looks a bit like Jeff Goldblum who I call ‘Jeff’. And, there’s another that, for some bizarre reason, is always dressed in army camouflage trousers.. I call him ‘Delta Force’.. you get the general idea.
    The thing is, there is one supremely hairy baby who I got into the habit of thinking of as ‘Hagrid’. (I’m not proud of it).

    Anyway, as I walked in this week, in a sleep deprived state, saying hello to everybody, I accidentally blurted “hey Hagrid”..

    Shit.

    The mum just stared at me.. I did try get and away with it by saying “Oh, er.. I call him Hagrid, y’know just because he’s such a big strapping lad”.

    Hagrid’s mum raised an eyebrow:

    “Actually, ..she’s a girl.”

    Oh, for f*cks sake.

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  • So, we’ve just come back from Charlie’s first holiday…

    Man vs Baby

    One or two people were a bit judgey about the idea of taking a 6-month old away. “So, you’re taking him on holiday?” Yeah. “Abroad?” Yeah. “Somewhere hot??” Yeah. “On an aeroplane??” …By which point I was tempted to answer: “No, me and Lyns will be going on the plane, but we thought we’d get Charlie there by driving him to Dover and firing him out of a f*cking cannon”.

    What I actually said was: “It’ll be fine”. And you know what? It was.

    Here’s some other stuff I learnt holidaying with our tiny human..

    – We had a checklist for what to pack, it had just one item on it:.. ‘Everything’
    The amount of stuff you need to take for a weekend is comical.. to go away for a whole week its roughly the same amount of stuff that the nazis took to invade Poland.

    – Don’t take an expensive pram on a flight.. The moment you check-in and that pushchair disappears behind that rubber curtain it is collected by two WWF wrestlers who smash it against a wall for half an hour.. before it is transferred to the runway, where they reverse the plane over it a couple of times before placing it in the hold.

    At your destination.. for some bizarre reason you have to collect whatever is left of your pram (a wheel) from a baggage carousel that’s f*cking miles away.. (I’m sure our stroller ended up closer to the airport we’d just left).

    – One of our worries about the flight was that we’d get seated next to someone unhappy about being near a baby.. We hoped to be sat next to a kindly old Angela Lansbury type, with a soft spot for babies.. In the end we got sat next to a woman who had a face like a cats arse being burned at the stake..
    To be honest, we didn’t care.. after 6 months we’re developing a thick skin for this sort of crap.. Some people have a problem with babies, whether they’re sat next to them in a restaurant or on a flight.. These people are what my dear old nan used to call ‘arseholes’. (Also, I suspect that if the woman in question had greeted us with a smile, rather than a roll of her eyes, we’d have been more inclined to tell her that she’d come back from the toilet with her skirt stuck in her tights, and was showing everyone her arse).

    – When airlines say they have ‘baby changing facilities’ what they actually mean is: ‘a shelf’.

    – Changing a baby in a plane toilet is like the hardest round on ‘The Cube’. Basically ..imagine trying to carve a turkey in a phone-box.. now half the size of the f*cking phone box, and arrange for an incontinent dickhead to bang on the door every five seconds.

    – If your baby will sit quietly during the flight that’s great , if they will sleep.. even better. If like Charlie, your little one likes to ‘stand’ up all the time.. You can look forward to, what feels like a midget river-dancing on your bollocks for the next four hours.

    – Baby Passports are, as I suspected, a rip off.. I’ve said before that all babies look like Ross Kemp, but the idea that any baby is still going to be recognisable on their passport photo 5 years after their birth is insane…. Besides which the immigration people barely even glanced at it.. Charlie could have sailed through passport control with a drawing of Gregg Wallace on the back of a beer-mat (..and it wouldn’t have cost us 50-odd quid).

    – As for the heat.. It turns out taking a baby to a hot country is fine.. people in scorching climates have babies quite a lot, so it’s a bit daft for us to think that if we take a baby to a sunny place they will suddenly burst into flames, like someone’s opened the curtains on a vampire. It’s just common sense, ..shade, avoiding midday and applying factor thrumpteen suncream.
    (Just a note on suntan lotion.. let it dry off before picking them up or anything, otherwise its like wrestling a seal that’s just left a massage parlour .. Charlie was in less danger from the sun than he was from me juggling him like a bar of soap).

    – Even with all precautions there is a threat from the sun. To you. You will burn. You will be so preoccupied with keeping the sun off the baby.. You. will. burn. As I write this my face is a haunting red. (I think I applied suncream to myself once in the whole week). In fairness, I did mention to Lyns, before we went, that I wanted to come back with a bit of colour.. I just didn’t particularly want that colour to be the same as an angry baboon’s penis.

    – Sandy beaches are a bad idea. A six month old baby puts everything in reaching distance in their mouth so, in hindsight, sitting them down to play on four acres of powdered glass is a bit dim.

    – Unless you’re willing to use gaffer tape and a stapler, it is easier to get a squid to wear a bum-bag than to get a baby to wear sunglasses and a hat.
    Finally, what I would say to anyone considering taking their baby on holiday is this: ..Go.
    For all its pissy little challenges, to spend time together, away from our newly destroyed home, was incredibly special..

    I will always remember Charlie’s face as he curled his toes in the sand for the first time. ..His delight at being pushed around a hotel pool on the back of an inflatable crocodile. ..And, his fascination as we sat on a bench, hand-feeding a sparrow some crisps, overlooking the deep blue of the mediterranean sea.
    ..Small price to pay that it was the same colour blue as my trampled bollocks after the flight home.

    www.facebook.com/manversusbaby

  • Baby Fingernails/Claws

    Baby Fingernails

    You know how fast Wolverine deploys his claws.. ? That’s basically the same speed a baby’s fingernails grow.

    You can cut them, file them, angle-grind them..turn your back for 5 minutes, turn back again.. and there he is.. Edward Scissorhands, lying in his cot, ..raking his own face again, until he looks like one of the cenobites from Hellraiser.

    I’m sure our Health visitor thinks that in between her visits we enter him into underground knife-fights. every time she asks how things are going and we reply that everything’s fine.. I’m just waiting for her to follow up with “really,? So, how come he looks like you’ve locked him in a cupboard with a fucking puma?”

    (please, don’t suggest the answer is scratch mitts.. there’s more chance of keeping a pair of sunglasses on Voldemort)

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