Friday, 24 December 2010

Let's get the party started

Mum has just text me saying Santa has just been and she's now getting very excited. I replied by asking if she was drunk and she accused me of having no christmas spirit!
As it happens I've got more Christmas spirit in me now than I thought I would have had a week or so back. The weather outside is still beyond freezing and the streets are still paved with ice and snow, all the presents are organised, wrapped and underneath the tree, I feel like I've been watching Christmas movies all week, I've ate a mince pie a night, I had the yearly encounter with Mrs Santa in the office the other day, we've even been to a panto and at midnight tonight Ka and myself are off to Church with the Reids for a carol service followed by a nice big mug of hot chocolate. How much more Christmas spirit can you get?
Over a week ago now, just before tucking into a big meal at our local Chinese, I was told over the phone that I was one of the lucky ones to keep a job. So from April 2011 I'll be working in a new role within the Prepress department. Great news for me but news that will always come with a tinge of sadness considering so many others are losing their jobs.
There's also the imminent arrival in early January to look forward to. Baby Reid is most definately making his presence felt as Ka grows more uncomfortable by the day. Let's hope she can keep the Christmas spirit as Baby Reid kicks at her ribs from the inside.
At the panto last week there were actual tears in Ka's eyes as John Barrowman belted out another song before us. Unfortunately it wasn't tears of pure joy, pleasure or appreciation, but tears of pain as Baby bounced about inside her, whilst in the tight, less than spacious, seats of the Clyde Auditorium. The strange thing is I had similar tears of pain as John sang his heart out but I don't have a Baby growing inside me. Maybe Baby was complaining about the sheer volume of the Barrowman, who knows.
Ricki Fulton starred in the last big panto I went along to which shows how long it's been. I hadn't been looking forward to Aladdin. Barrowman wasn't bad in it though and proved himself a great family entertainer as always using the panto as a platform for some of the songs he'd sung on his tour which Ka and Jillian had dragged Colin and myself along to a few months back.
Even the Krankies, the usually gawd awful Scottish 'comedy' duo, were quite funny in their supporting roles. I never liked the Krankies when I was younger. The idea of a small woman dressing up as a wee boy with a school uniform and dirty jokes to annoy her/his older, male friend, who in real life is her husband, I always found a bit too weird.
Certainly far weirder than John Barrowman's ridiculously white teeth and accent switching skills.
Talking of accent switching, Ka and myself have just sat through the latest Harry Potter movie in which Bill Nighy puts on some kind of Welsh, Scottish, Can't quite make my mind up, accent as the Minister of Magic. Another fabulously crazy twisted accent to rival the Scottish slurs of Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The movie itself was entertaining enough but largely for the Potter fans proving that the film was certainly not for the casual cinema goer that may not be familiar with the previous films and the whole back story shindig.
Going to the flicks has always been a tradition for Ka and myself on Christmas Eve. Afterwards we usually have a walk around Glasgow and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Breathing in the festive spirit, watching the panicking Christmas eve shoppers run from shop to shop, the whiff of German sausages floating up through the air from St. Enochs Square at the bottom of Buchanan Street and seeing George Square in lights as the skaters circle the ice rink. Usually we'll have a festive tipple or two as well but not this year, of course. No mulled wine or Christmas cocktails this year. With the imminent arrival I'm now on standby. I'll quite happily leave those kinds of festive spirits to the rest of the family!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The three boxes

The date draws near - and I ain't talking about Christmas.
Ka is growing by the minute and as if that wasn't scarey enough, I'm now filling out forms at work entitled 'Becoming a parent'.
Becoming a parent? When did all this happen? What happened to the last thirty weeks. A short while back I was lounging about at home gassing on the phone about how Ka was preggers and how exciting it all was. Exciting ain't the word I would choose now. Now the word terrifying springs to mind!
All three boxes on this rather official looking form must be ticked by myself in order to qualify for Paterntiy pay.
The first box states that I am the baby's biological father or that I am married to the mother or that I'm living with the mother in an enduring relationship. The word 'enduring' seems quite apt. So, that's a yes to all. I am indeed the baby's father as far as I know. Hopefully there's not going to be any soap like revelations, perhaps as a tram crashes through my living room ceiling whilst I'm reaching for the bon bons.
The second box, 'I will have responsibility for the child's upbringing'. Now that just strikes you with absolute fear. Responsibility? Of a child? Wait a minute here. I struggle to look after myself at the best of times! I went to work the other day wearing odd socks and Ka has already told me that if I ever did that to Baby Reid I'd be for the high jump.
The high jump just for getting some socks mixed up?!
What's going to happen to me if I dress the child in mismatching top and bottoms? The shot putt?
The third box states that the time off work will be to 'support the mother or care for the child'. So even though your getting two weeks out the office, they still expect you to work for a living, and for less pay. Here was me thinking I'd be taking it easy, taking a breather after the hassles of rushing to hospitals, getting my eardrums battered and my hands crushed by a mad, screaming woman.
Anyway, I've been supporting Ka all the way through her pregnancy so that's no big deal. The loyal, helpful husband. When housework duties have been called for, I've been a good helping hand. I've been going into the cupboard and getting the hoover out for her instead of making her get it herself. I've been patiently handing boxes up to her in the kitchen when she's been packing things away, balancing on one of the two legged breakfast stools. I've even helped her off the couch a few times when she's been going to the fridge to get me a beer. Now you can't ask for any better support than that! Surely I deserve paternity pay, just for all that?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Axl Rose, the zebra and the Chip

Guns and Roses at 90 decibels. That's what Dave and myself found ourselves listening to, sitting half asleep, nursing a couple of Buds after Barry had invited us into his abode at the closing stages of a day of eating, drinking and generally being merry, on Saturday.
It was the S&UN Christmas day out and thirteen of us met for lunch in Glasgow's Ashton Lane in the Ubiquitous Chip at half two in the afternoon. Anna, Linda, Paul, Gaz, Alison, Stuart, Kathleen, Julie, John, Barry, Dave, Davey and myself all seated ourselves and got ready to eat!
Perthshire Pheasant served up with a ham hough terrine, Venison Haggis with turnip cream, Turkey with all the trimmings, steaks with stovies and bearnaise sauce, dumpling, caramel shortcake trifle and the good old crackers and cheese were all just part of the menu as we chatted, posed for photos and drank. Wine, beer, Jack Daniels and various other forms of alcohol were consumed alongside the gorgeous food, including a rather dubious looking Cider which Barry insisted on ordering from the bar, even though half of us were sure it originated from the loos.
Typical Christmas over indulgence but also a well needed breather from the pretty morose atmosphere in the office these days what with all the redundancies. It was good to take a break from thinking about interviews and oncoming joblosses with a work day out, although by the time half two in the morning came around, Dave and myself were looking for an escape.
Barry had talked us into going back to his for more beer and a bit of music and we trooped into his kitchen only to meet his partner Lynsey, who immediately handed us a beer. What service! She'd just had a few bottles herself, watching The Karate Kid before we bounced in, interupting her nice quiet night of martial art kicks.
After almost falling asleep watching half a Guns and Roses gig, I got up on to my feet to explore the rest of Barry's DVD collection. Lynsey took it upon herself to show me round the house, giving me a guided tour, making me wonder if she was trying to sell the place to me. She even showed me the Zebra Paul had brought them back from Africa. A prime position on their magnificent fridge. Another one of those magnificent fridges that makes ice simultaneously. Amazing. My Auntie Tricia's got one of those too. I would have a field day with that. Ice party at mine! Come on round everybody! I've not got a Zebra though... thanks Paul (that's the last time I walk the expressway with him!)
Anyway, I came back down the stairs from admiring Barry's photographic masterpieces adorning his hallway, only to find Dave, eyes faltering before a large Freddie Mercury, diving about Wembley Stadium back in 1986. Barry, hadn't moved, watching on, waiting on an answer from Dave on the couch after his latest question or comment that he'd shouted over the room at him.
Following the onslaught of Axl Rose and the thought of being made to sit and watch a whole Queen gig, not to mention the distinct possibility of Dave and myself falling asleep together on Barry's couch, I hurriedly dived into the kitchen to order the taxi and so was the end of the 2010 work day out.
The last S&UN day out for the group of employees that are to be so cruelly torn apart in the next few months. Who will make it into the elite group of 12? Who knows. I'm not optimistic. But, as Andy Noble says, if yer numbers up, y'er numbers up. It's their loss.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Hiking and jackknifing

The snow is finally melting. We are now driving on actual tarmac rather than spinning around on half a foot of compressed snow and ice. I've never been so happy to drive unhindered in my life. No more digging my car out of a giant layers of snow or walking home to East Kilbride on the expressway. Well, not for the moment anyway.
On Monday night, after the biggest snowfall in decades, the expressway, the main dual carriageway into and out of the East Kilbride, had become near inpassable due to the weather.
Barry, Paul and myself walked home to East Kilbride, abandoning the cars in the work car park, hiking up the dual carriageway under a ghostly mist which hung down threateningly over the faded lights standing tall overhead in the darkness over the thick snow covered road, among the abandoned cars and the fellow walkers.
The road going into East Kilbride had been clogged up not only by the weather but by a Morrisons lorry jackknifing and the remaining traffic piling up behind, slowing to a near complete standstill. Not sure what was slowing all the outgoing traffic on the other side of the road up.
It may have been another jackknifed lorry. A Sainsburys one maybe. The two drivers having it out in the middle of the road. The abandoned cars all over the expressway only parked up to watch the big fight. Harry Hill shouting from behind a temporary desk in a nearby field.
Usually this dual carriageway would be buzzing with life. Traffic of all shapes and sizes blasting up and down it on either side. Hiking home on it all seemed very surreal. It reminded me of 'The Day After Tomorrow', the rather drab, silly movie with Dennis Quaid, in which he plays a climatologist who goes out in search of his son after a giant storm which throws the world into another ice age. Or something. Storms, snow, people collapsing in the snow. The collapsed people puffing and gasping, accidentally brushing some snow aside underneath them only to discover that their lying on the glass roof of central station. At which point it starts cracking...
Either that or a snowy version of 'The Day of the Dead'. Zombie like figures stumbling about the snow covered expressway wondering what to do.
It all puzzled me a little. We're on the expressway. That town over there, which you must of been driving towards with the high rise flats, is East Kilbride. These are legs. Those things at the end are feet. Why not try that walking thing?
Okay, there may have been the slight issue of abandoning your beloved motor, but it was either that or sitting in the beloved motor for an extremely long time which, in the end, would make it extremely unbeloved.
For instance, Ka hates Gillian's poor little car now as a result of sitting on a roundabout at Hamilton's Asda car park for at least three hours on the same night. Sitting anywhere near Hamilton's Asda is horrifying at the best of times what with all the Zombies that usually shop there.
Unfortunately I often find myself parking in Hamilton Asda, thanks to Ka who works in the town, and unfortunately I think my parked car has been hit by a 'fellow' shopper at least 50% of the time. Not because of my parking, you understand, but because most drivers in Hamilton, cannot drive nevermind park. They simply put their pedal down, turn the steering wheel and hope for the best. A seven year old in a dodgem would cause less damage to another vehicle than a Hamilton Asda shopper.
Anyway, thanks to the weather and the congested traffic the threat of having to spend the night at work became all too horrible to bear and Ka and Gillian sat it out, eventually getting home four and a half hours later than planned. It's amazing what folk will do in order to not spend the night at work.
It's also amazing what folk will do when not at work. Apparently there's folk going round in Kent somewhere nicking snowmen!