Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Blog Archive Volume Four

DISCLAIMER: Some of these blogs were written over 4 years ago and are presented here completely unabridged. Quite frankly a lot of things I wrote then I may no longer agree with, and some are downright embarassing. I'm not the same person I was then. The reason they are on here is I am moving everything across from Myspace - which has had its day. But I don't believe in editing or sanitising things - so here they are, complete in their original form.

  • 25 Jul 2011
School Holidays 

It normally takes me about 10 minutes to write a blog. Once the creative juices are flowing the words just flow off the keyboard.

However, this one has been about a day and a half in the composing, quite simply because the demands on me from the children have reached an all time high.

School holidays. This is my first experience of them. From the comments I can see from other mums on facebook, this is not a time that is looked forward to.

I have noticed with Ollie that he has been significantly more demanding on days when he has not been to pre-school. This has manifested itself almost immediately with a great deal of bad behaviour almost since he walked out of the gates on Friday at the end of term.

This has not been down to a lack of attention from me - it really has not, but it seems the more I give the more he demands. And sometimes you wonder why you bother.

Whenever I do something nice it is always spoiled by a tantrum at the end. So we go to the park for an hour - great, that's good fun for all. But he can't accept that all good things come to an end. So when it's time to come home we get the mother of all tantrums. It makes you wonder why you bothered in the first place. You feel like saying, "right sod you then, if this how it's going to be why don't you just spend the whole summer sat in front of CBeebies and be done with it?".

You have to strike the right balance. Some parents seem to take no interest in their children whatsoever, we've all seen them. Young mums, phone welded to ear talking to their fellow chavs with a chorus of "OMG's" while little Britney or Coolio is trying to attract their attention, and failing. A good friend of mind very amusingly referred to this social caste as "the commoners of this town" in a recent blog entry which just about sums them up.

Then you have the ones at the other end of the social spectrum at the opposite extreme who can't overindulge little Tarquin and Petunia enough. Piano lessons? No problem.

I love my children and spend as much time as I can with them. I would dearly love the whole summer to be one long round of picnics, day trips, play days and all the rest of it. And yes we will do some of those things, but there's no play without work. And it's hard with a baby in tow. We can't just whizz off where and when we want, there's always so much planning needed. And a lot of things we can't do. At least not yet anyway - many more options (theme parks etc) will open up when the children are a little older but for now it's not easy.

Even Ollie is not fully self-sufficient yet in feeding, dressing, toilet habits etc, as well as the baby, and all of these things take time. Meal times seem to take a good hour plus out of the day 3 times a day, and I barely get time to eat anything myself. I am very much #3 in the priority list. Lunch today was a bit of toast. Is it any wonder I have developed this hideous eating disorder where I find myself starving hungry every night about midnight and wolf down everything in sight before going to bed? The worse possible thing you can do. And I wonder why I have chest pains the next day.

Things are getting progressively easier and I am managing to at least get Ollie to eat some of the same things as us, and I insist on us all sitting around eating the same meal (e.g. Sunday lunch) at least 3 times a week, but we are still very disjointed on some days, what with Claire and I keeping odd hours, it's not unusual to be preparing four completely separate meals for four people.

Much of the rest of the day is eaten into by the endless washing and housework. Now I run a very tight ship on the housework, but I like living in a clean and tidy environment. I have routines and stick to them. Not everyone is the same, I have been in some hideous houses in the past and I just could not live like that. I just find that by keeping on top of things it's generally OK. For example I scrub out the shower tray once a week. It's a little bit grimy but nothing too unpleasant. Leave it for a month and it's caked in limescale, filth and goodness knows what.

Despite all this, I am still able to spend plenty of time with the children and hate it when I make a special effort to do something with Ollie and he throws it back in my face.

In order to expand our horizons a little I have been making a real effort to break into the mums circle, which as one who is a frequently lone male in a female dominated world seemed daunting at first when I tentatively walked into Brookside Children centre 3 years ago to find I was the only man there. Although I have not experienced any prejudice, which I probably would have a generation ago, I imagined when I started that maybe some women may not be as keen to socialise with me as they would another woman. Thankfully if anyone thought this they have never said so. Over the past 3 years I have built up some good friendships with other mums and am at the stage where we can have some meet-ups over the summer, e.g. the teddy bears picnic at Garth Park.

Everything changes when you have children. Before I had them I naturally gravitated towards other non-parents and hung out with them. I avoided parents and their "boring baby talk" as I then considered it. Now everything has changed - My social network is dominated by other parents, mostly those with children aged between about 0 - 11. And mostly female as well. But that is indicative of the role I play in the world.

And it is a role I enjoy very well. I like being a man in a traditional woman's world, and feel happy and contented that those women that occupy that world have welcomed me in to it with open arms. A good thing to - as with about 5 weeks and 6 days to go I am going to be leaning on some of you for a bit of moral support I think if the last 3 days has been anything to go by!

There's a scene in an old Simpsons episode where all the children of Springfield go off to summer camp (Camp Krusty). Just as the bus taking them disappears over the horizon there's this collective cheering and popping of champagne corks from the assembled parents waving them off. You know I really begin to understand where they were coming from when they wrote that scene!

Happy holidays!

6:15 AM
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Lynda Sharp
 I feel your pain... yay I can finally post! Lol
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16 days ago
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  • 20 Jul 2011
I've seen the future - and it's a buffet! 

I am not exactly "fussy" with my food, perhaps choosy would be a better word. I do know what I like. As do the other two members of this household who are firmly on solids.

The one scenario that terrifies me is the "dinner party scenario" where you are invited to a meal somewhere with business colleagues or whatever and presented in a sit down situation with something horrific. And there's no escape. Hiding it in your pockets to dispose of later as used in various sitcoms over the years really isn't a realistic option.

Fortunately as someone who is no longer a "mover and shaker" in the business world (if indeed I ever was), such obligations are thankfully behind me. On the rare occasion I have to participate in a social occastion I am very much leaning on people to go for the takeaway, barbecue or buffet option. It is all about "choice" for me. Such is the subject of today's blog.

Now eating out I can cope with. Quite enjoy in fact. As you have a menu to choose from so you can normally find an option to choose from. However even this can become problematical as we discovered in Cheltenham on our most recent visit. After wandering around various restaurants browsing at menus offering "confit of such and such on a bed of rocket" I felt increasingly depressed. I can't see what was wrong with the old Berni Inn concept myself. Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips and Black Forest Gateau. You knew where you were back then.

Wherever you eat you can guarantee whatever you order, someone at the next table will have something that looks miles better and you will think "I wish I had that".

Personally I like a bit of everything! Yes I know what you are thinking let's stay on topic! I mean food. I am a huge fan of the buffet concept of dining and am convinced that this ought to be the future. Up until now my experiences, at least locally haven't been great.

Emayls in Oxford offer an all you can eat Chinese. This is OK, but not the highest quality. Whereas here in Bicester we have two Chinese restaurants that offer "All you can eat" but it isn't really. You have to order dishes individually and there are so many rules and regulations attached that it's hardly the faceathon stuffing that one might hope for.

On holiday one encounter s buffets in "All Inclusive" holidays but these aren't all they are cracked up to be – the quality is invariably poor.

When do I enjoy eating the most? When there is a choice and it is good quality. It's no surprise that one of my favourite words is "buffet". As a DJ who does a lot of private parties I get to encounter a lot of them. A shame then, that I eat so little at them. I often arrive at a gig at 6pm to set up to see that the buffet is all laid out and ready to go. Since mid-afternoon, or earlier on many occasions. Eventually I am asked to announce at 9pm that the "buffet is open". Then a couple of hours after that when they realise that they have massively over-catered (guaranteed) they offer me some. Yum, just what I fancy in the middle of July, some prawn vol-au-vents that have been on the table for 7 hours. That flimsy bit of cling film you took off two hours ago must mean they are alright. I don't think so.

But done well, a buffet can be a joy. Lovely, fresh, well presented. You can have whatever you want. Platters of meat, pork pies, quiches, sandwiches, breadsticks and dips! A cheeseboard and accompanying biscuits and grapes! Bowls of Doritos! Bit of salad for the girls. What's not to like? Everyone loves a good buffet.

So let me introduce you to Jason's new restaurant concept. I am going to take over a unit in Bicester and offer a lunchtime all you can eat buffet experience. Forget sandwiches from delis, come in and have what you want. All you can eat for £7.95 (just plucked that figure out of thin air but sounds about right). Just like a wedding or Boxing day round at the in-laws but without the arguments. I will even bring my good friend Lynda in to supply the cakes for desserts.

Can't believe no-one's done it before. There must be some reason e.g. it's a bad idea and would appeal only to fat greedy bastards like me, but let's face it, there's plenty of us about.

All I need now is someone to finance the venture so if anyone's got a couple of hundred grand knocking about to get me started that'll do nicely.

This time next year we'll be millionaires!
4:24 PM
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Lynda Sharp
 Let's do it... sounds FAB :)
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21 days ago
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  • 20 Jul 2011
Getting cheesy with it 

Busy old day today. I went to IKEA on Monday to get a new chest of drawers for Jamie's room, the same one we bought for Ollie.

These Malm chests cost about £56 and are solid as a rock. Never again shall I buy the cheap cardboard rubbish peddled by Argos.

Claire is putting it together, she is better at that sort of thing than me.

We make the most of the 3 hours Ollie is at pre-school to tackle these larger tasks. There is very little time to do anything when they are both here it is a constant round of washing, feeding, changing etc.

While she was doing that, I went into Ollie's room to sort out some baby clothes. The air had just about cleared in there. Although he is now toilet trained, he does still wear a nappy at night. It is still not at all unusual to enter his room in the morning and be greeted by a smell like rotting cauliflower, which then pervades the rest of the house. Cue little boy deposited in bath and trip outside to dustbin to dispose of the foul article. Claire is embarassed to have visitors to the house, she reckons that the whole house smells of poo most of the time. "But that's just men" says the mother-in-law which I find somewhat odd. Do girl babies not make such horrendous smells then? Answers on a postcard...

I also suspect from that comment that I am also being implicated along with the two little ones, though I thought I had got a lot better since I gave up buying food from the kebab shop.

So got all the boxes of baby clothes, opened up the 12-18 month box saved from Ollie and had to wonder why I had bothered keeping some of it. What with that and a lot of Jamie's stuff (kept about half, got rid of about half), I had a nice bag of clothes to take to the Oxfam clothing bank in Bure Place.

Observations on the clothes we have had that have been through two children. Next stuff keeps remarkably well. Some of it that has been heavily worn by both children still looks good as new. Primark stuff unsurprisingly does not fare so well, and as for the Tesco sleepsuits, some of them I wouldn't even wish on Oxfam.

It seems that my recent comments regarding cheese consumption have not gone down particularly well on facebook. I did not get a single supporter to my thread. I am really that wrong? My idea of a nice brie is to get it out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature and so it is all gooey. Then the flavours released are awesome, particularly swilled round with a glass of red wine.

Sadly the downside is also the smell created, usual comment from the other side of the sofa is "That stinks". Just to clarify I mean the smell of the actual cheese, not a smell created by me. The worst it smells though the better it tastes. The best is the stuff from the French market that comes to town every now and then. This stuff is practically radioactive. I open the fridge door when there is some in there and I'm suddenly hit by a wave of deja vu. Then I remember what it was - reminded me of when I opened Ollie's bedroom door that morning.

It seems then that my cheese fetish may not be a particularly attractive trait. As Chris wrote on my status "you are one hell of a catch". So I must apologise to any of my female blog fans reading this who may have been harbouring some secret ardour for me, I guess I have well and truly shattered your illusions. Best to get these things out in the open though, I always say.

Don't think we are going to get many visitors for coffee mornings in the near future, somehow :-)

5:36 AM
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Lynda Sharp
 Hahaha, love this blog Jase... you could be a clone of Dunk with that cheese fetish, when he went to France last month he came home with a load for the fridge - by god did it pong?! LMAO
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21 days ago
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Jason Ayres
I knew I couldn't be the only one! Nice one Dunk!
21 days ago
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  • 19 Jul 2011
"Tiger" Ayres to make comeback? (Ducks prepare to take cover). 

On Sunday morning I woke up with a vision. A singular blinding revelation that came to me and told me "Thomas Bjorn" is going to win the Open.

I had not taken an interest at all in the Open at that point so on checking the leaderboard I discovered he was in 4th place, and decided this gilt-edged opportunity was too good to miss. I made a small investment. Probably the first bet I have had on a golf tournament for about 8 years.

Needless to say, Thomas Bjorn did not win the open or ever remotely look like doing so, so that was the end of that. My mind was playing tricks on me. Normally it is not so active early in the morning, but since I was working and driving Saturday night I had not had the chance to dampen it down with alcohol. So while the rest of the country collectively tried to shake off its Sunday morning hangover I was fresh as a daisy. Moral of the story - never make important decisions when sober.

It is some years since I played golf myself. Or rather attemped to play golf. Those of you who recall my golfing career from the early 2000's, will remember that it was not exactly covered in glory. We have all heard the infamous story about the "Duck House" on the Captain's away day in Bedfordshire. If you have not heard it, ask George Deans when he's had a drink, as the story becomes ever more elaborate with the passing of the years.

There were many other disasters as well. In summary I only ever managed a round below 100 once, and that was on an easy course. 130 was about the average. However the one thing I do miss about golf is the chance to get out in the fresh air for a few hours and enjoy the countryside. Rare are the opportunities now - in fact I think the last time I played was on my stag weekend.

Still - who wants to be the best golfer in the world? Didn't do Tiger Woods much good did it.

I would love to go and play again sometime - so if there is anyone out there who is also crap and promises not to laugh at me I would be up for a round maybe. However it would have to be in midweek on one of Claire's days off. I do not want to play on a Saturday or Sunday when I have got to go to work in the evening.

On a completely separate note, someone is going round Bicester drawing large cocks everywhere in black marker pen. I have spotted 3 this morning alone. I don't approve of graffiti - however for many years I would have a good chuckle at the "Swindon Is/ Are Shit" sign on the Cowley bypass on the way to the Kassam stadium. I wonder if that is still there?

2:14 AM
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  • 16 Jul 2011
Confined to base 

Not an ideal day for heavy rain.

I haven't worked out a way to keep us all dry - unless anyone's got any suggestions. I can get a rain cover over the pushchair, but trying to push that along and keep an umbrella over me and Ollie is impossible. If it's only drizzly or light rain then we can cope, but attempting to go into town in this is out of the question.

I imagine that my blog entries may settle into a Monday to Friday pattern. I was not intending to write anything today. Saturday is a very busy day for me - usually preparing for a disco in the evening, Claire usually on an early shift and of course it's not a school day. But I am stuck in at the moment because of the rain.

I need to do some work on the car and also get my gear loaded up for tonight's disco at some point. If the rain ever stops but it's not looking like one of those days when it will. Still, nice weather for ducks as they say. And also for bookies - who rub their hands with glee at an all day downpour. With the ground suddenly turning soft the punters are up against it as the form book goes out the window. I really would not fancy a day at the races today.

I bet all the Monday to Friday workers are cursing the weather today. Still I can't really complain - it was lovely during my "weekend" which was Tuesday and Wednesday. I would imagine that this weather would scupper a lot of people's plans. I did have one invite to a party today but as usual it's impossible. I don't know why but people all seem to organise their events on Saturdays and Sundays when I am very busy with work. No-one ever has a party on a Tuesday afternoon - a shame as I could go to that! All down to the topsy turvy life I lead I guess.

There's no sign of a change to the weather for the next week. It's now 5 years since the last serious heatwave in the UK - July 2006 was scorching. I was working at Talentless House at the time with no air conditioning. I used to have to come home and have a cold shower at lunchtime. I am not really a fan of heatwaves anyway, 30+ degree temperatures are uncomfortable, particularly for the "larger" gentleman. Give me a nice sunny breezy day with temps around 21c and I'm happy.

3:08 AM
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  • 15 Jul 2011
Over the last couple of years there has been a dawning realisation that the type of holidays we are going to take are going to have to change.

Before you have children it's easy. You go where you want - when you want. That's to say, outside of school holidays, when it's cheap. You don't need a big apartment, and you only need two seats on the plane. For under a grand two of us would be enjoying two lovely weeks away from the British winter in the Canary Islands every January or February.

Then kids come along and it starts to get a little trickier. Under two - they have to sit on your lap. At 2+ you have to pay for a seat. Everything starts to get more expensive. And then there's the flight - 4 hours to the Canaries which you used to be able to do standing on your head now feels like 24 hours. And when they start screaming there is very little you can do. Then, when you start hearing disapproving tuts coming from neighbouring seats, you suddenly begin to understand what the concept of "air rage" is all about.

You can't go self-catering any more. How do you sit a two year old down and tell them they have to wait for their dinner? Then when it arrives and it is boiling hot so they can't eat it straight away? Let me tell you now - it doesn't work. So you have to go to a hotel with an eat-in buffet. So no more romantic dinners by the harbourside with the clink of glasses and the sun going down.

You've also got to find somewhere that caters for children properly. Our last holiday was fantastic on that front entertainment-wise, but the food was lousy so everyone got ill.

So you've got there, your holiday has doubled in price, and you've got all the additional angst to worry about now with the children inevitably becoming ill and ejecting stuff in all directions. But there's worse to come, dear friends...your holiday is about to double in cost again!

They start school so you now need to take your holidays in August. You're about to be fleeced. Thomas Cook and co know they've got you over a barrel. Suddenly you are being quoted £3900 for something hideous on the Costa Del Crap that you used to do in much nicer places for £900!

Much as I enjoy watching "Benidorm" on TV, I have no desire to find myself in such a place.

I'm not joking about £3900 either. When you consider that a few years ago my then girlfriend and I spent a month on a world tour that took in LA, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and Dubai for about £5000, then that sum looks horrendous.

Normally by this stage I would already be booking my holiday for next year, but I have not done so yet. In the first instance this is because Claire and I have "other plans" for next summer, but even so, I have recognised that things need to change in the future. Package holidays are out.

With a larger family, rather than paying per person, you really want to pay for the whole trip. Like when we go to Butlins we pay for the chalet. It doesn't matter how many people are in it. So first rule of thumb is going to be - pay for the room/ caravan/ cottage whatever and avoid flights.

I don't want to confine myself to the UK for the next 18 years, but I think driving to France is a realistic option and taking the ferry overnight. I am increasingly thinking Eurocamp could play a major part in our future holidays.

It's possible to negotiate with the Primary school for a few days off in term time, so if we could get away in say June, we could probably do some affordable things.

And what's wrong with holidaying in the UK? Most of the reason people go abroad is for the sun, but with the kiddies, hours laying out by the pool doing very little isn't an option anyway. We seem to do very well at Butlins - lots for the kids to do there. There must be a multitude of other holiday options in this country and nothing's more than a few hours drive away. Just get in the car and go. No more of that airport aggro. Perhaps the time has come to bring our holidays home and rediscover the joys of old blighty.

3:02 AM
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  • 14 Jul 2011
A Big Fat Billion! 

I think there must be thousands of people living in Bicester who never venture into the town centre at all. Those who have bought houses on the various new estates over the years, commute daily into Oxford, London or Milton Keynes, do a weekly big shop at Tesco and that's about it.

Sure, they will have made a few friends but I doubt whether they will have embraced the "real Bicester" that I know and love.

I speak from experience as 20 years ago when I first came to Bicester I was one of them. Fortunately I soon integrated myself into the community in another way. By being down the pub every night.

Living the lifestyle I do I am in the town on a daily basis. After dropping Ollie off at school it's into town. I love being in town at this time of year and at this time of day (9am - 10am). Everything is clean and fresh with that "It's gonna be a bright sunshine-y day" feel. None of Bicester's unemployable chavvy scum have surfaced from their pits yet to spoil it. And as for the few assorted alky's that have made it up, they are safely out of harm's way "breakfasting" in the Penny Black.

On a good day I can be found "breakfasting" in the best cafe in the whole wide world - Nash's. I haven't been there today though - yet. Mum is coming over for lunch and will normally treat me which means I can indulge myself in "The monster". A larger and more generously filled sausage and bacon bap I'm yet to find.

One of the advantages of daily shopping in a variety of stores is that I can buy food fresh daily for whatever culinary masterpiece I've got planned for that day. I can also shop around for the value. I know what different things cost in different stores. This means going in all shops, even the ones I don't particularly like. For example - 4 pints of milk in Iceland is £1 as opposed to £1.49 elsewhere. All those 49p's mount up over the year. I don't buy a lot of food from Iceland though. "Cheap and cheerful" would be the polite way of describing their own brands. Fortunately I am not in a polite mood this morning so I shall simply say "cheap and nasty". Still it appears to a certain demographic I suppose.

Finally we get to the point of this article. On the average day I probably buy about 8 to 10 items from about 3 different shops. This means that I know pretty much what I am spending in each. Now during my shop I tend to pick up a few items that are described as "2 for £2". So when I get to the till I am expecting to pay £5.50 or whatever. So when the cashier rings up £6.50 alarm bells start ringing in my head.

This normally leads to a confrontation, with much grumbling from the staff and huffing and puffing from people in the queue, generally designed to make me feel as much as possible like I am being a pain in the arse. But I am merely standing up for my rights. In the vast majority of cases I have been proved right and the till has failed to recognise the offer. Eventually I get my money back. It's normally theire fault.

Tesco is the worst, and there have been occasions when they have refused to pay, and this is over grossly misleading offers such as "3 for £5" on several items on a shelf in the chiller cabinet. But then they claim "But this one's in a different offer". This is despite the items all being on the same shelf, and all 3 having £3 for £5 stickers on them. Tesco's offers seem to be designed to be as ambiguous as possible to try and sucker you in.

Or they say, "that offer finished yesterday". So why is the promotional material still on the shelf?

OK it might seem like I am being penny pinching over this - but look at it this way. I reckon this happens about once a week to me, at about £1 a time. Let's call that £50 a year. Multiply that by 20 million households in the UK and what have you got. £1,000,000,000. Yep - that's it. A Big Fat Billion to inflate the coffers of these already bloated corporations.

And how many of you notice? When you do a big shop would you notice if the bill came to £90 instead of £89? Do you check the receipt there and then at the till on a busy Saturday morning - I suspect not. Every time you go shopping these supermarket giants are taking the piss out of you.

Food for thought.

2:46 AM
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  • 13 Jul 2011
A televisual feast? 

Just a short blog today, I have a lot to do with it being Jamie's birthday.

I watch a lot of television. Very little "live" TV, and very few films. Mainly we watch DVD's - boxsets of TV shows. In fact most weekday evenings are spent with my wife watching various shows.

This might sound very boring, but when you consider that I was basically out on the piss for two decades from 1987-2007 I could do with slowing down a bit. It also means that there are a lot of shows to catch up on that I missed while I was out doing...well whatever it was I was doing, I need not say any more :-)

We watch a variety of stuff, and naturally have things each prefers, though in most cases our tastes are remarkably similar.

A few observations on how my perceptions of certain genres of TV have changed.

1) A decade or so back I would have dismissed most American shows as "transatlantic tripe". I have totally reversed this opinion now. Amazing the shows coming out of the US over the last few years and to name but a few, Lost, House and The Office (USA) are a major part of our staple viewing diet.

2) Comedy - whoever said the sitcom was dead clearly hasn't got into Peep Show, Benidorm, IT Crowd etc. Fantastic shows I could watch again and again - just like the classics e.g. Fawlty Towers, from where the title of today's blog came.

3) I'm into my sci-fi as you all know, it would be unfair of me to foist this on Claire 24/7, so whilst Doctor Who, X-Files and such like have all featured, we do have a fair bit of period drama too. Now I have a bit of a problem with modern period drama. Last night we watched the first episode of Downton Abbey. I just could not get into it - exactly the same as I felt about the resurrected Upstairs Downstairs last Christmas. I think one of the problem's with these shows is that they almost seem too lavish and over-produced. As if they are trying too hard.

The original run of Upstairs Downstairs that ran from 1971 - 1976 was one of the finest pieces of TV ever created and my favourite period drama of all time. But these new shows just don't have whatever it was that they had. For me, a shows succeeds or fails on its characterisation and dialogue, and all too often these are swamped these days. Mrs Bridges, Hudson etc - you can never beat them.

Over-reliance on dramatic incidental music is another thing I don't like, you can hardly hear what people are saying sometimes.

I said this was going to be short didn't I, in fact it's run on beyond what I anticipated. A lot more I could say but I am going to have to cut short now, today's not about me.

Later, blog fans.

2:26 AM
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  • 12 Jul 2011
First day  

Today was Ollie's induction day at St Edburg's C of E Primary school.

I guess this sounds like quite a daunting prospect but really it wasn't. The reception class at the school isn't that different from the Courtyard preschool. He has already been going there every morning since September, so today didn't really hold any surprises.

He was straight in, over to the water table to start playing with a fountain, with a cheery "bye Daddy, see you later". Unlike some of the other newbies who were sobbing at the door.

I am so proud of him. Those of you that know him will know that he is not the easiest child to care for - he is very demanding and needs a lot of attention, and guidance. This is why I am so glad and 100% still believe I made the right decision to give up full time work in 2007 to devote my time to him. He has blossomed in the last few months, whilst we still have the odd tantrum his confidence has soared, and whilst he may be a cheeky little chappie, he knows what's right, what's wrong and what is expected of him. And wherever he goes, he charms everyone he meets, especially the ladies :-)

None of this would have been possible if both of us had been career minded and put him in care all day at a young age. Whilst that would have brought home lots of bacon, it's no substitute for time and you can never get that back. I know not everyone agrees with the view and many earning mega bucks and climbing the corporate ladder will say "I am providing for my children's future", well that is fine, it all depends on your values. And I do know that many childminders (including one very good and long-standing friend of mine) do a fantastic job.

Like I say to everyone, about everything - you just have to do what works best for you.

I'll be off to get him in a minute. I just hoped he remembered my instruction not to go around shouting out "oh my god" like he did when we went to the church youth group. That did not go down well. I have told him to say "oh my goodness" instead.

On a completely separate note, not at all impressed by the Times' coverage of the phone hacking scandal. Very hard to remain objective when you are trying desperately not to say anything nasty about Rupert Murdoch. I think I shall be buying "i" from now on -you can't go wrong at 20p and I really don't have the time to read all of The Times anymore anyway.

In the meantime I had better delete all these dodgy messages off my phone, as a figure in the public eye I can't rule out the possibility I might be next.

3:30 AM
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Lynda Sharp
 Fab Blog Jase xXx
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29 days ago
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  • 11 Jul 2011
Hand Me Downs 

Poor Jamie. I do feel guilty that he's very much the poor relation, being the second child. Especially being the second boy.

Obviously unless you're rolling in it (which I am not), or the government decides to put child benefit up to £100 quid a week (unlikely) hand me downs are a fact of life.

Jamie's wearing Ollie's clothes, playing with Ollie's toys, using Ollie's cot, playpen, high chair etc. You get the picture. Of course all these things are perfectly serviceable (once all the stains were scrubbed out) but little lord Ollie got it all brand new first time round.

The only things Jamie really has that are new are his books. We don't have any of Ollie's baby books left as they were all chewed, ripped, and systematically destroyed in one way or another.

On Wednesday Jamie will be a year old. An age at which Ollie had a number of big presents, most of which are still here and ready for Jamie to play with. I was wracked with guilt this morning thinking what can I buy Jamie for his birthday, I can't just give him Ollie's old stuff. Coming on the back of a rather expensive trip to Butlins I'm hardly rolling in it at the moment.

Never mind, I'm sure we can find something, so off to Argos I went this morning, and looked through the baby toys. After spending about an hour going through the catalogue picking out something I liked only to be confronted with "sorry this item is out of stock today", I did eventually manage to find a few nice things for him, eating quite heavily into this week's food budget. Never mind, just have to be a beans on toast type week, after all the kids come first don't they? I can now feel like Superdad again, I may have nothing to eat, but my conscience is clear.

Also I have purchased that old favourite the "Caterpillar Cake", so we are all set for a nice little birthday tea on Wednesday. The only possible snag I can envisage is that Ollie will throw a strop when he sees Jamie getting these new toys and demand to play with them himself. Even though he has his own playroom in this house which is filled to bursting with his "stuff" that he has acquired over the past four years. This playroom incidentally doubles as my office, though it seems I am being increasingly shunted into an ever decreasing space in the corner as Ollie progressively takes over. Another year or two and I expect to be relegated to the shed.

Those of you at karaoke last night I am sure would have been touched by my dedicating a song to my second born. I am looking forward to the next year with him. Ollie goes to school full time in September. Without him completely ruling the roost and demanding all my time, Jamie will finally get all the 1-2-1 attention that his elder sibling enjoyed uncontested for his first three years.

More tomorrow folks - I wonder how long I can keep this daily blogging up?

2:46 AM
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  • 10 Jul 2011
Petrol Head 

Just time for a quick blog entry before the big race starts at Silverstone.

I mentioned earlier that I thought Vettel was an outstanding price to win the Grand Prix if it stayed dry. However, despite sunshine here, Coulthard's wandering around on the telly with an umbrella, so who knows?

I like to think myself reasonably good at predicting the outcome of GP's but I don't bet on them. As a purist I like to watch the race without fretting over some bet or other. Personally I would prefer to see some rain today to give Button a bit of a chance - I am a fan of our McLaren boys.

Regrets - I've had a few, so sang Frank Sinatra. Not sure exactly what he was on about, I guess for most people that probably includes a) people they slept with then wished they hadn't or b) people they had the chance to sleep with but didn't go through with it for whatever reason, never got the chance again and rued the missed opportunity for ever more. Go on admit it, you've all done it!

In my case there's a 3rd category - I wish I had translated my love of motor racing into having a serious stab at it when I was young. Sadly the funds/ opportunities just weren't there, and whizzing about in a 1978 Austin Allegro in my teenage years never quite fulfilled the dream.

Now anyone who recalls my sporting "prowess" from school will primarily recall the lack of it. My ability at most things (apart from squash) ranged from a high of "mediocre" to a low of "woeful". The only notably victory I can ever recall at anything was in a "crisp eating" competition when I was about 15, which does not really qualify as a sport.

However it seemed whenever I got behind a kart I was transformed into Ayrton Senna, coolly despatching the opposition. Unless I happened to be karting with my good friend Adam Wilkins (aka Satan) in which case the event tended to turn into more of a demolition derby,

I'm still doing it today - retiring undefeated as Butlins kart champion once again this year. 5 races, 5 fastest laps, 5 wins, pretty much lapped the field in every event. Sadly it seems it's all a bit late now. Oh well, there's still living the dream through GT5.

Note to all my dear friends and family reading this - if you ever decide you love me so much you want to buy me a great big present you could do worse than buy me one of those days at Silverstone when you get to drive a real racing car! A pity I did not think of this a couple of years ago, I am sure I could have justified that for my 40th! Got another 9 years to go to the next "big one".

Right time to go - enjoy the race, petrol heads!

4:36 AM
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  • 9 Jul 2011
Saturday Night Fever 

I was meant to be working tonight, doing a wedding for someone that used to work at the White Hart. However, they decided a few weeks ago to postpone it. Which is probably a good thing, as the last time I saw them in the street together, they seemed to be having a slight disagreement (which is putting it mildly).

I have been thinking perhaps I ought to get people to pay for wedding discos up front. Then if anyone decides to do a jilting at the altar the money is safely in the bank. Fortunately this has never happened, and to my knowledge, every couple I have sent on their way to wedded bliss to the tune of various cheesy hits is still happily betrothed. So there is a good advertisment.

Someone rang up last night to ask if I could do something tonight at short notice but it's impossible. Not only is half my gear not even here, but my wife is going to a party tonight leaving me home alone and trying to sort out baby sitters etc at this short notice is not going to happen. Unfortunate for them but if you will book a DJ who cancels at 24 hours notice what can you do?

So what do men do on Saturdays when their wives are out for the night? Play poker? Watch porn? No doubt. However, with the petrol induced testosterone still burning through my veins from Butlins, I think a GT5 session may be in order. I shall be getting on to Lynda and Darren later to see if they are up for it.

Now my blog is up and running again I am bursting with things to write. Though I shall have to limit it to what I think may be of interest and suitable for public consumption. For example, were I to have as a hobby the kind of leisure pursuits that my good friend "Dogger" enjoys this might be frowned upon by some readers. Rest assured, in case you were wondering, I don't indulge in that kind of malarkey. Even if I wanted to, I doubt whether I could find the time.

As for other deep dark secrets such as hanging around the garden in my underpants during heatwaves or sitting on the kitchen floor eating packets of ham directly out of the fridge, these have generally met with disapproval when written on facebook so are unlikely to feature regularly.

I have set this up now so anyone can read it, not just myspace friends. There's bound to be a few people that don't like what I write or don't get the "humour" but that's alright. I'm not so thick-skinned as to know there are a few people out there who probably don't like me. Judging by the number of people who have deleted me on facebook anyway. Thank goodness I am not famous so they can't shoot me down in flames in the "News Of The World". Oh no, hang on, they can't anymore, can they?

I was very reticent in my early social networking days, having ridiculously high privacy settings on facebook so no-one could add me or see me other than friends. There was a reason for this. People read too much into things. You only have to mention having an interest in the 3:40 at Ascot and some people will assume you are a problem gambler - to give just one example.

But I've relaxed a fair bit now, and thrown myself open - Jason is now free for all and free to air. You can all have a piece of me x

1:03 AM
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  • 8 Jul 2011
Sorry for the break! 

Hi blog fans,

Apologies that it has been a while since my last entry. In fact about four years to be precise, however, I have decided that the time to return to blogging full time is upon us.

I am sure I don't need to fill in the intervening four years details, anyone that knows me should know where I am at!

The family and I have just come back from a week at Butlins. Well Monday to Friday to be precise, with the kiddies. Now I know a lot of people look down their noses at Butlins but there is really no need these days.

The weather was crap most of the time but it didn't matter as there is loads for the kiddies to do indoors. Ollie did much better this year, and after some initial reluctance and tantrums I could not get him off the rides. It was a proud moment getting Jamie on there and seeing the two of them going around together.

Fatherhood suits me, there's no denying it, this is what I was put here to do. Look at some of the stuff I wrote four years ago, I've certainly changed. I would do anything for my two little boys, and always put them first. There's many things I might like to be doing, but why be selfish? I had my years of doing what I want. I know some people might think I am being boring when turning down social invites or going home early because I know I've got to be up for them at 7am, but hey that's just me now. Those of you that were around with me pre-fatherhood had your fair share of all-nighters with me then!

Anyway, back to Butlins. So much to do - I've got quite a few photos to put up on facebook. Apart from all the rides there are the shows - and when they are 3 they really do think it's the real Bob The Builder. Plus countless other things, you can always look on their site. My personal highlight and where I spent all my money (other than the arcade) was the karts. For a few exhilirating minutes I could fly round that track and pretend that rather than being a slightly rotund 41 year old I was in fact a teenage racing prodigy headed for a glittering career in F1. Well we all have fantasies, and they aren't all dirty ones, even mine.

The accomodation is amazing - if you book Deluxe. It's well worth the extra. Lovely spacious apartments, great furnishings, leather sofa, even a DVD player which was handy as we took along the boxset of the fantastic "Peep Show" - best thing on telly, for after the kids had gone to bed.

We went premium dining again - I don't really think it's worth the extra, more or less the same food as in cattle class, but if you enjoy a quieter, more luxurious environment away from the riff-raff (as Basil Fawlty might say) it could be for you.

All in all a good week then - however, I was rather annoyed to see that someone had written "clean me" on the back of my car before we left. We were by the seaside, it's not my fault that the seagulls had crapped all over it.

More soon - definitely not 4 years until the next post.

Jason
8:21 AM
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  • 6 Jul 2007
Karaoke 

Current mood:tired

Hi Blog Fans.

I am feeling rather tired today, after another long week at the coalface. Last night's karaoke was particularly taxing towards the end of the evening.

You would think that four hours was sufficient to get everyone on to sing who wants to sing, unfortunately we have this situation where a lot of drunks come piling in during the last hour after the other pubs have chucked out, and all come up asking to sing when there's only about 20 minutes to go. We then go through the same old routines we've had many times before. Here are a selection from last night, the first two of which I've experienced many times before, but the third one was a new one on me.

The first one waited until somone was almost finished singing before lurching in front of the screen with his pint of lager slopping it all down his top…

SQUADDIE: "Ave you got any REM mate?"
JASON: "We have several REM songs, look in the book.
SQUADDIE: "Yeah but ave you got any".
JASON: "Here is the book, here is a piece of paper and a pen, write it down and bring it back up to me.
SQUADDIE: "Have you got Daysleeper?"
The other singer finishes
JASON: "Yes, let's hear it for Julie!!! Nicely done (A few polite people clap and cheer)
SQUADDIE: "Yeah but have you got it"
JASON: "I am actually in the middle of something at the moment, as I said look in the book, you will find it under D – that's between C and E in the alphabet by the way.
A few minutes later.
SQUADDIE: "I can't find it. Have you got it?"
JASON: "Well if it's not in the book, we don't have it"
SQUADDIE: "Are you sure you don't have it?" What other REM songs have you got".
JASON: "Look in the book"
SQUADDIE "Have you got Losing My Religion"
JASON: "Look in the book"
And so on and so on…
Here's conversation number two, another intellectually stimulating debate I am sure you will agree.
SQUADDIE 2: "I wanna sing mate etc etc etc…"
(a few minutes later he actually masters the art of using a pencil and hands me a barely legible scrawl)
SQUADDIE 2: "When am I on"
JASON: "I will get you on before we finish"
SQUADDIE: "Am I next"
JASON: "No, as you can see there are many slips here already"
SQUADDIE: "But I want to sing next"
JASON: I am sure you do, but as you see there are six or seven people, who have all been waiting patiently.
SQUADDIE: But I've not been well. I had a heart attack last week.
JASON: Well it's good to see you've recovered well enough to come out drinking with the rest of the lads.
SQUADDIE: Come on mate I will buy you a pint. I want to sing next.
JASON: You will sing when I say you will sing and if you continue delaying me from getting the next singer on then there will not be time for you to sing.
SQUADDIE: OK, I will go out for a fag then. But when I come in I want to sing.
JASON: OK, don't go overdoing it mind, we don't want a young fit lad like you having another heart attack do we.
(20 minutes later when I called him up he was nowhere to be found…)
And finally, just to show that the girls can be as bad as the boys, here's the final one from last night, from two young 19 year olds.
12:50pm
GIRL 1: (being very flirty) Hi We want to sing!!!!
JASON: I'm afraid it's too late now, we finish at 1
GIRL 1: Yes but it's only ten to
GIRL 2: Come on mate let us sing!!!
JASON: It may only be ten to, but I have 2 singers queued up to sing and I stopped taking in slips half an hour ago.
GIRL 2: But we were in the Litten Tree then!
JASON: Well come back next Thursday at 9pm and you can sing as many times as you want.
GIRL 1: But we want to sing now! Come on, we'll do anything for you (flashing eyelids and showing cleavage).
JASON: I'm sure you will but you're still not singing.
GIRL 2: If I snog my mate in front of you will you let us sing.
JASON: I might.
GIRL 1: OK. (They proceed to snog the faces off each other for about 15 seconds).
JASON: Thanks. I enjoyed that.
GIRL 2: So can we sing now?
JASON: No
(back on to the microphone)
JASON: Well that's about it for tonight, so it's time for our final singer, FLISS!!!!
GIRL 1: Bastard
JASON: Correct.
And that's about it. Another par for the course night in the weird and wonderful world of being a karaoke DJ.
2:55 PM
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  • 29 Jun 2007
St Ives, Cornwall 

Current mood:contemplative

I have just come back from a most relaxing week in Cornwall, St Ives to be precise. This was arranged at fairly short notice in order for us to get in a holiday before our baby is born.

We travelled by train which was surprisingly easy despite 3 or 4 changes. It's so much more straightforward than air travel you just hop on and go. We went practically door to door to, the whole 250 miles journey taking about 7 hours in total. The real difference is there is no hanging about like at airports, checking in luggage, being processed from section to section and all the rest of it. I really enjoyed the journey, it was a refreshing change.

It also brough back memories of past driving nightmares to Cornwall, particularly back in the days before the A30 was a dual carriageway and prone to endless queues of traffic during the summer months. I particularly remember a 12 hour nightmare return journey back in 1991 when the car broke down, unable to cope with the heat and stress of travelling 50 odd miles in first gear.

No such worries this time, travelling in comfort and ease and off the train at St Ives to glorious sunshine and the endless cries of seagulls. I always feel like I have somehow come to my spiritual home when I come here. Not that there is much chance of that, all of the property has been bought up by cash rich city types. Even the Cornish can't afford to live there now.

We stayed in a delightful little cottage next door to the famous Sloop, which whilst perfectly adequate was also extremely tiny. It would have probably suited a family of hobbits, but the rooms were so narrow, in order to pass in the bathroom is was necessary for one of us to stand in the bath!

Did a fair bit of travelling around, visiting the theme park Flambards and Lands End. Been to both before but Claire really wanted to go to Lands End and have her picture taken by the sign.

The week was soon over and we were back in Bicester, and the focus is now very much on preparing for our baby's birth. The time seems to have flown by and Claire's now into her third trimester. She is still doing well, people say she is blooming and I have bought her some maternity clothes. She has had quite a problem with lower back pain though.

So far we have obtained a carry cot, push chair and quite a fair few items of clothing. We are converting the attic room into a nursery. It is quite a large room and already serves as a storage room, office and wardrobe, but there's plenty of room for baby too. Quite what we are going to do in the long run I do not know. I love living in this house but it is not ideal for a baby. As far as getting back on the property ladder, that's out of the question at present. We don't earn enough money and even the money I have would not be enough for a deposit. As I have said before I am loathe to buy a house anyway under current circumstances, I believe a price crash is inevitable.
It has been suggested we get on the housing list but since we are both working and most of the houses seem to go to single parents and various other assorted scroungers I doubt whether we would have any chance. So it looks like we are staying put for the time being.

I am so excited by the prospect of being a Dad that all other concerns seem to have been shunted to one side for the time being. So what if I have hassle at work, my sore foot is playing up, my stocks are down by £3,000 and I've had to deal with a number of idiots in my social circle, none of that matters to me, because I am going to be a Dad!

We are going to call him Ollie.

2:53 PM
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  • 31 May 2007
Babies 

Current mood:happy

Apologies for the lack of communication over the past month but there have been a number of reasons for this.
Firstly I have had a bit of a meltdown here, largely due to a major internet outage. Being deprived of the internet for any length of time for me leaves me in a state not dissimilar to that of Ewan MacGregor's character in Trainspotting. Quite simply my whole life revolves around it, virtually every possible function I have moved to the internet in the past few years, and not being able to access it causes me major frustration.

After countless calls to BT, and repeating the same things over again, all the usual rubbish like deleting cookies and restoring the computer etc etc finally I have some sort of access again, though they have now decided that the problems are down to the router and are sending me a new one.

In the meantime I have made a bit of a mess of things and deleted/ lost various files and messages and all the rest of it, so apologies if I have not got back to anyone, it's not that I'm ignoring you, it's just one of those things.
The second reason for my lack of contact is that I have had the misfortune to suffer an incredibly painful medical condition known as "gout". Now there is something of a stigma attached to this condition, in times gone by it was seen as a rich man's disease, and associated with the image of an overweight lazy middle aged man knocking back the port, wine and rich food. Of course those of you that know me well, will know that nothing could be further from the truth!

Anyway, that pretty much laid me up for the past week, it's only with the help of some pretty strong drugs (prescribed not recreational) that I have managed to surface back into the world today.

I've also been quite busy in other areas too – the offers of karaoke nights are starting to come in from other sources, it seems I have made a reasonably good name for myself in this sphere, and am now getting opportunities in other areas. Who knows, this could be the start of a whole new career for me.

However, one major event has dominated May 2007, it's quite simply the most amazing and momentous thing that's ever happened to me. You see, it was the month I found out that I am going to be a Dad.

Claire and I wanted to have a baby and decided to start trying a month or two back, so imagine our delight when she took a test a couple of weeks ago and it tested positive. However we were astonished when we went to the Doctors to discover that she was already four months pregnant and we had not even realised. When the doctor put the stephescope on to her tummy and we heard the heart beat loud and clear I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it felt.

Claire is in full bloom and we are so blissfully happy and in love that I have never had a moment's doubt about this. I am so glad that fatherhood has come along now at a moment when it feels so right. I have waited longer than most for it, but I don't regret that at all, I shudder to think what might have happened if I had had a baby with any of those awful people I used to go out with years ago.

Mother, father and baby are all doing fine and looking forward to being a family. My life is going to change now in so many ways, but it's a change I am more than ready for. After 20 years of pissing up and getting into all sorts of scrapes I am glad to be settling down with someone who just wants to be with me because I am me, and vice versa.

My blog entries won't be as frequent as they used to be – maybe one a week, but I will keep you updated as the months go by and impending parenthood looms ever larger. I am so going to enjoy these next five months, and all that follows. It's a whole new adventure and has given my life an entirely new sense of purpose. Unlike many of the babies being born around here to broken homes, one night stands, etc, this baby has two parents who love each other and their baby, and are going to give it the best possible life we can.

More on my thoughts about how we are going to do that next time!

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

7:32 PM
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