Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Weddings, weans and waiting

Well, once again in the streets of Britain, people are panicking. Driving at 3mph, schools closing, trains cancelling, people leaving the supermarkets with supplies to stock in their garages, weather reports going on for too long. In the office people drift up to the windows every ten minutes to mumble about the scenes outside and folk squawk and complain about how long it took them to drive to work, their colleagues all more than aware the person is half an hour late just by looking at the clock. Yes, it is snowing again and people are losing all sense of reason once more.
Ka and myself woke up on Saturday morning to an unnaturally white light beaming in through the bedroom curtains and before I'd had the chance to fall to my knees and scream for pity at the visiting alien lifeforms, Ka had swept the curtains aside to reveal the snow that had fallen overnight.
"Fantastic", I said clambering up to the window. "Better get the Jack Daniels poured!".
I was not celebrating the arrival of snow though, I was filling the hip flask I was taking along to Wendy and Rob's Wedding on Saturday afternoon at the Bothwell Bridge Hotel. Whilst Ka dried her pants with a hair dryer and I sneaked Belgian Chocolate Cake from the bread bin (we've got a spectacular bread bin!), I filled up the hip flask expecting the worst of the hotel's bar pricing. Another Wedding. Like the Number 20 buses that all come along at once. We had Gillian and Craigs' four weeks ago and now another, but more family affair, this time around.
Wendy is one of the three daughters of Lorna, an adopted 'Auntie' to the McGarvas, and thusly a cousin whom Ka grew up and sang with each other into stereos with. Wendy, Pamela and Susan, who are all lovely girls and, until recently, I constantly got mixed up with, accidentally calling each by their various sisters' names at various times and places. Fortunately I'm over all that now and can successfully recognise each (something which, I'm disappointed to say, I've never been commended for). Even after the Jack Daniels, and with two of each wearing the same dress, I was successfully able to nod to and greet in full confidence without making a fool of myself. Something which I can do in many other imaginative and wonderful ways.
Doing the Time Warp, for instance. The third weekend in the space of a month that I've sang and danced to the Time Warp in public (not that I ever dance it in private, I should point out...).
Anyway, Wendy was beautiful in her elegant white dress and Ellis, her son, the star of the show, with a great speech with which he gave his mother away (but stipulated that he wanted her back).
The next day, it was back through the snow to Bothwell once more and to Joshua's first birthday party at which our wee nephew got his hands on more cake, a new course to his slowly expanding dietary menu. A cake so full of sugary goodness that even Willy Wonka would need to go into rehab after eating a slice.
Cake or no cake, Joshua is growing up fast. He zooms around Angela and Steven's floorboards now at a rapid rate and loves investigating all floor based items such as wires and radiator pipes. A reason why we bought him a wee car to pull along the floor. Not only does it have string but it has wheels, music and shaped blocks to slot into it's boot (sounds almost like my old Clio). Joshua seemed to like it anyway and after a quick trip abroad with Morgan, a snowball fight in the front garden and a tasty M&S buffet created by Steven, Joshua waved us goodbye. He's getting much better at the waving goodbyes for some reason. Some people would maybe even be fooled into believing he 's happy to see the back of us.
Something I'll be glad to see the back of are the dreaded work interviews. My various work colleagues, of all shapes and sizes, and I, have all to apply for the 12 positions going in the newly streamlined S&UN which will be formed in March of next year. So we've got the horrible job of competing against one another for a job, whilst doing our jobs. The first is tomorrow. Thankfully, I've got some of that Jack Daniels left.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The call of fatherly duty

"Phew, Ka's got her work cut out for her", I sighed, talking to Grace on the phone on Wednesday night after our first trip to the Hunter Health Centre.
We went along to our first antenatal class, or 'parent crafting' class as it's now called, for some reason, on Wednesday night, and Ka found herself kneeling against a chair, sitting facing the back of a chair, bent over a bed, balancing on gym balls and cuddling whilst standing. All different positions to be in when handling the pains of contractions. It's all very different to how I'd imagined it. Apparently there shouldn't be any tensing of the muscles, struggling for breathe, shouting, swearing, cursing or breaking of the fingers. I'm not convinced but I'm sure I'll find out when January comes around.
Breathe. Breathe. Ka and myself were in a large wooden panelled office, littered with desks with computers and treatment beds. We were shown in with around ten other pregnant couples and all sat in a semi circle of chairs before the nurse started teaching us how to breathe, stretch and exercise our pelvic floor which is to help make your pelvic muscles stronger and thusly help lessen the chance of requiring a colostomy bag in later life.
We learnt that labour should, apparently, all be stress free with no rushing to the hospital at the first sign of labour contractions. All midwives should be perfectly helpful and the whole process should be naturally timed. It should be clearly and easily defined by a timetable of events involving various mucus' and liquids being dispersed from the pregnant woman's nether regions.
The midwife stressed the point of insisting you stay at home for as long as possible so as not to waste the time of our hospital staff and beds. That's what they must have told my Auntie Maria who very nearly ended up delivering Lauren on the hall staircase before making it to the bathroom to pop her out. Ka is considering a pool birth at the moment. I'm pretty sure a bathroom birth is not on the cards.
It's now seven weeks away till the due date and some of the hints, tips and information we were getting on wednesday night may have been more useful twenty weeks ago. How to cope with a growing lifeform in your body, how to exercise your body whilst pregnant, how to stop him or her punching your ribcage etc. It would have certainly made Ka's life a little easier if we'd have been told how to deal with these things more than a few weeks ago. The midwife even stressed the fact that the mothers may get a little tetchy in the next few weeks. The next few weeks? That started ages ago! And 'a little tetchy' doesn't quite cover it. I'm glad we've got midwives to point these things out, I would have never of realised.
The midwife also made it clear that besides driving the mother to the hospital there was nothing a partner/husband could do to help and may as well relax, look after themselves and go home and have their dinner. One of the future Dad's, a heavily tattooed bloke with thick black glasses, mumbled at this from under his woollen hat saying that he would go home and play Xbox. His partner snorted at this, insisting she was taking the Xbox to the hospital with her. Nevermind the nighties, the nappies and the sleep suits, this couple have a case packed with games console and Call of Duty. I wonder what their house will be like when their baby pops into the world if they already spend their time fighting over who gets the Xbox on a night?
Another future Dad asked if it was just like the movies and you have the right to bomb down the A721 at great speeds using the excuse of their wife being pregnant. Is this the reason he got his wife up the duff? So he could drive through Wishaw at a stupid speed?
Then again, once the baby is here these small moments of unadulterated pleasure for a Dad, will be few and far between so I suppose all fathers should take them while they've got the chance.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

This is our life

A week ago there was an announcement in work. There was an announcement that there would be an announcement on Wednesday. Organised announcements in our week can only mean one thing - bad news.
Wednesday came and at one o'clock the Big Boss, GD, arrived with the Human Resources Manager, adorned in black, and wasted no time in gathering everyone at the back of the office. The axe was going to fall, but by how much?
Basically, 33 were to become 12. Liverpool were taking the Ad Creation side of the business away from Scottish & Universal, leaving only the planning, outputting and studio departments, in a vast, sweeping move to streamline the business, and, of course, make it cheaper to run. Scottish & Universal Newspapers, top of the charts for accuracy and skills in Trinity Mirror for so long, has become yet another victim of the all consuming recession and it's aftershocks and obliterated by it's english relatives. It happened to the Welsh in Cardiff and now it's happening to us, up in Scotland.
At the end of March we are all to be made redundant with the exception of 12. These twelve will work on, in the Hamilton office, in the newly formed, shrunken version of the prepress department.
In the next few weeks those in the office interested in applying have to hand their forms into the Boss' office, placing their application into the big red folder, waiting on his desk. This red folder, sitting patiently, like a new twisted version of 'This is Your Life'.
The interviews are to proceed shortly and the lucky 12 will know by Christmas who they are. Which, I'm sure, will make the Christmas Day lunch and outing very enjoyable assuming some of the successful candidates go to the dinner. Who'll be the first to bitch? Who'll be the first to walk out? Who'll be the first to wear their drink?
Then there's the three months following Christmas. What will the atmosphere be like in the office then? Half the employees not giving a rat's ass how they do their job whilst the other 12 sweat over their stations trying to meet the usual deadlines...
Yes, the next few months are going to be great fun in the office. March will be the end of an era and a sad month for all of us concerned. I have enjoyed working at S&UN. I've had a great time and will be sad to see it go. The job has paid for my life for the past five and a half years (well, some of it anyway) and the cheesecake has been great.
There's the usual resigned sighs going round the office now. "We knew something was going to happen", being the main comment, and the rather odd, "maybe this is the kick up the arse we need".
Sorry, but I wasn't aware I needed anything up the arse. I've got a baby and, hopefully, a new pad on the way. If this is a kick up the arse, I'd hate to get a kick in the balls!
Then again, that may be yet to come after I apply for any of these jobs - whether I'm lucky or not!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sleep suits and snow suits

Excuse my ignorance here but, how do you know you're leaving hospital with the right baby? This has been troubling me for around four days now. How do you know your baby hasn't been mixed up with somebody else's after it has popped out? There is no way of telling! All babies look the same for around three months after their birth. How do you know your going home with the right one? It'll be three months till you know for sure! This is concerning me.
Also, what's with the buying of snow suits? Apparently we need to buy the expected Baby Reid snow suits. Snow suits? I wasn't aware we were eskimos? Will we be travelling home from Wishaw General in a sledge pulled by huskies? Me, standing at the back of the sledge cracking the whip, whilst Ka and baby cower from the cold in furry suits at my feet, our huskies racing forward, pulling us, their breath puffing out in swirling clouds before their frozen maws as they pant their way through the white, frozen wastelands of Wishaw and Craigneuk.
Sleep suits too. Sleep suits, sleep suits, we don't have enough sleep suits, and apparently we never will. This baby is going to have more suits than Hugo Boss.
Hats, bibs, boots and scratch mittens. Scratch mittens? Apparently babies have a habit of trying to scratch their face off? First I'd heard. Surely they can't be that fully aware to look in the mirror and hate their god given mug at that age? I thought that all didn't kick off till the teens and forever after? (Certainly didn't with me anyway). Then again maybe that's a good way of knowing it is indeed my child - if it sees itself in the mirror and immediately goes for it's own face screaming horribly.
Nesting. The suit buying is all part of the nesting process apparently. A word for what an expectant mother does in and around the home to prepare. Moving things around. Throwing things out. Making way for piles of sleep suits. Buying baby lotions, talcum powder and cotton wool.
Spending money when it's not yet quite needed to be spent, that's what I call it. I've had to empty two of my bookshelves already and the poor wee tyke is not even here yet. All in the name of sleep suits. Who would have thought such tiny garments could take up so much space?
We need a house and quick. Anything bigger than a one bedroom anyway.
I'm sure some of those eskimos must have more room in those igloos than we've got. They always have loads of kids running about. You never seen eskimos on the Michael Palin programmes shouting about how little room they've got in their igloos because of all the sleep suits. Bet the huskies have even got their own room!