Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Bottles and box sets

Saturday the 12th of January 2013 was a big day for me. There was nothing particularly exciting about it. No events. No occasions. In fact, I didn’t even leave the house. The only reason it was vaguely ‘big’ in any way was solely down to the fact I was being left in charge of my own child for the first time.
Ka was going out on the town with her girlfriends and leaving me in charge.
I was flying solo. Going it alone. Nappies, clothing, bottles, medication, entertainment, it was all down to me. Not only was Ka dragging herself away from Sophie for the first time, she was going out and drinking for the first time in approximately eight months. Vicki, Yvonne and the rest of the girls from her room in the ELU nursery (I can’t remember if it’s the Caterpillar room, the Butterfly room or the Pushmi-Pullyu room) were heading into Glasgow for the day and taking Ka out of the house with them.
“On you go!” I insisted. “It’ll be good for you!”
The words had left my mouth before I’d even seriously contemplated the consequences of my verbalizations.
As it happens, it was a bit of a walk in the park. Sophie, who was just approaching the eight week mark of existence on this miserable little rock, was great company. After Ka left with Amy and Kirsty, Sophie ate her lunch quite happily and then lay back in her deck chair to relax and take in the sights.
No, it’s not really a deck chair, but that’s what I call it. It’s like a soft padded slope on a wooden frame, not unlike a deck chair, but probably usually called some along the lines of a ‘baby rocker’. It had been Claire’s little one, Olivia’s, when she had been wee, and Claire had popped round and donated it a few weeks ago.
Sophie had been getting a little irritable in her jungle seat what with the dangling parrots, butterflies and monkey music and had not been settling. Her frustrated boxing would start within around ten minutes of sitting, but in Olivia’s deck chair, she seems far happier. Sophie will gurgle away quite happily on it until she either gets vaguely frustrated for a few minutes, has another quick boxing match with an invisible opponent and then falls asleep or, even better, simply falls asleep without the boxing match. It’s great for watching the room too. Sophie just kicks back in it and surveys her surroundings, finding constant interest in mirrors, windows and blank white spaces of wall. Sophie often prefers to watch the walls rather than the tv with it’s moving images and light.
So whilst Sophie lounged and relaxed after her latest intake of milk, I lounged and relaxed on the couch and watched a few episodes of the rather wonderful Breaking Bad.
Colin and Jillian bought me the first three series of the American, award winning, drama series for my Christmas and I’ve been watching it whenever I get the chance.
Just in case you’re not aware it’s all centred around a struggling high school chemistry teacher named Walter White played by Bryan Cranston, the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle, who, after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to a life of crime in order to ensure his families financial well being after he leaves his mortal coil. White is aided in his drug making efforts by a former student and known local bum Jesse who, with his contacts to the shady underworld, helps his former teacher make his money.
It’s brilliant, dark, funny, intelligent and well acted, particularly by the two main characters (who have some great chemistry…) and great for a Saturday afternoon’s entertainment.
In fact, throughout the day, in between breaks for feeding, changing nappies, bathtime and general baby chit chat, I managed to finish the first season of Breaking Bad off, something it would have been impossible to manage had Ka been in the house.
As it happens, Ka has now not only lost interest in the series but banned me from watching the 18/15 rated drama whilst Sophie is in the living room, which makes watching the box sets remaining seasons even more difficult. I now have to wait on a completely empty house before I can watch it, which will be virtually impossible as I can’t see Sophie heading out into town with her pals for cocktails anytime soon.
Ka probably has a point though. The last episode Ka watched with me involved someone being melted in a bathtub with hydrofluoric acid…
Anyway, before the Breaking Bad ban, I sat that Saturday night and finished season 1 whilst drinking lots of coke and gobbling mini toblerones. Just a flavour of my wild life, and my Saturday nights, getting all the more electrifyingly crazy as time goes on.
Ka eventually called informing me of her missed train and her intentions on the next, so I then bathed baby Sophie and ordered dinner for the night, a take away from the local Indian restaurant (not for Sophie, obviously). Moments before the dinner turned up, Ka tumbled through the door, surprisingly only moderately drunk, and we settled down on the couch to a bhuna whilst Sophie snored away upstairs, her snores growling out of the small baby monitor plugged in at the end of the couch. The light dial goes from blue lights to red on the small monitor, depending on the volume of the child being picked up at the other end, a larger, white, glowing dome presently situated at the side of the moses basket. A great wee device for keeping an ear on Sophie whilst she’s parked in a different room. Just maybe not so great when she’s having one of her louder half hours and you’re trying to get through season 2.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Another year, another quiz and another chilli

"Why did Adele have a minor strop at this year's Brit awards ceremony?".
This was a question that caused a bit of a ruckus in the Reid household on New Years Night.
The two families were round for a buffet dinner on New Years Day. Mum, Dad and Lynsey Ann arrived with a big tray of lasagne, a big box of iceland goodies and a big box of budweiser. The McGarva's then arrived in the Hood mobile. Jillian and her Mum arrived with Colin, Grace and Dougie in tow, ferrying a tray full of macaroni, a large steak pie, a large, freshly baked chocolate orange cheescake, a couple of trays of ice cream and more than a few plates of Jean's famous chocolate snowballs. Jillian's mum's white chocolate balls are now a must for any family buffet. Made with white chocolate, coconut and probably way too much sugar, Jillian’s mum’s balls are the ultimate sweet treat.
With the arrival of Steven, Angela, Morgan and Joshua a little later, the living room was now full and Ka and myself got to work warming up, cooking, or boiling in the kitchen on our rickety old cooker.
Earlier that morning, as soon as I'd got up, I had got to work on another of my chilli con carnes. Okay, it's not the hardest of meals to cook but it was my contribution to the night's buffet meal along with a big pot of rice and some nicely warmed pita breads. Whilst Ka got the three large oven dishes warmed up, the macaroni, the steak pie and the lasagne, which all took turns in our wee oven, we got to work on the pasta dish and boiled up the rice to accompany my chilli ("It's just a chilli" Dougie shrugged, nonchalantly, on more than one occasion throughout the night). Before long there was another table of food laid out in our living room and everyone was helping themselves whilst Olly Murs and Kasabian played as background music and Ka sat back in one of the corners of the room to feed baby Sophie who seemed a little disconcerted by the chatter and surrounding family members. By the time early evening came round, everyone had eaten and Sophie had been laid down in her moses basket upstairs after getting a little tired of being handed around the room, from relative to relative.
After Morgan took the names from my holiday hat, 5 teams of two were made and another Reid family quiz kicked off with a spectacular prize of a large slab of Whole Nut chocolate to play for. The quiz consisted of, what I thought, were a good mix of questions from events, people, and places from throughout the year. Plenty of news, sport, tv and music. Something to keep everyone happy. Or so you’d think.
There was one exception. One question was put in specifically for Morgan and Joshua. Unfortunately the kids chose to remain silent and weren't much help to the quiz teams. I had wanted to know the names of Thomas the Tank Engine's two blue friends. Mum and Dad, who had been paired up as a quiz team, immediately objected claiming themselves to be singled out, claiming there was no way they would know such details. These allegations seemed quite unfair considering when Kenny was a wee kid all he talked about was, yes, you guessed it, Thomas the Tank Engine. He had the Thomas the Tank Engine toys, lunchbox and everything! Mum even made him a Thomas cake for one of his birthdays. It's not my fault she didn't pay as much attention to her youngest son's interests.
The Brits question was the one that really got some blood vessels bubbling though as I had wanted the answer including Blur cutting Adele's acceptance speech short in order to play their Outstanding Contribution set at the end of the programme. Apparently this was wrong. It was James Corden who was actually to blame so although I was wanting a mention of Blur there was a minor mutiny and some of the teams started taking it upon themselves to rebel and award themselves points as long as they mentioned James Corden even though they were told clearly what the requirements of the answer had to be and they quite obviously did not have them. Colin, who had been paired with Lynsey Ann, was my only defence in the matter, but this was probably down to the fact he was the only one that answered the question to my high standard. As a result some papers were marked wrongly and even though this one troublesome question was a mere point, it caused the game's biggest ruckus. Grace and Dougie, another husband and wife pairing, had a minor ruckus among themselves about the name of Lady Diana's son, after the teams were asked who was photographed naked during August, in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for my Mum and Dad it hadn’t been Keith Chegwin but Prince Harry baring the crown jewels during a game of strip billiards in his Las Vegas’ VIP hotel suite. Another question asked what Felix Baumgartner broke when he jumped from 25 miles above the Earth. The answer, of course, was the sound barrier, at 834mph. Grace suggested that it was his ankle.
Jillian and Steven were the eventual victors and took the slab of Whole Nut chocolate as their prize which Steven kindly donated to his team mate.
Once everyone had left and Ka and myself were making our way to bed after feeding little Sophie at around quarter to midnight I received a text message from Colin.
“Michael jillian and steven cheated they looked at angelas sheet to get Gordon and shouldn’t have got point for adele so would’ve drawn wi me and lynsey ann”.
That, one sentence text message said it all. It’s a shame that people feel the need to shout, complain and, worst of all, cheat at a small, largely unimportant, family christmas quiz but it’s perhaps more of a shame that Colin was still going over it all in his head three hours after the quiz had been brought to it’s tiring conclusion.
Still, it only happens once a year, we should be grateful of that, like an MOT, a PDR or the Jackie Bird Hogmanay programme.
Thankfully Ka and myself missed the majority of the Hogmanay television as we were both in bed by quarter to eleven this year. Sophie Reid is successfully knackering us out and besides, I had to be up early the next morning to make that chilli.