Tag Archives: birthday

I’m not ready to be four

We’ve been studying World War Two in school. Don’t worry, I’m not at school, I just work in one. So to be a bit clearer: the kids I teach have been learning about World War Two. It was fun and they really enjoyed the thematic approach that we took based around the book Goodnight Mister Tom. I enjoyed it too. The kids were shocked when we learned about rationing and couldn’t quite grasp the lack of junk food and snacks. This really hit home when we looked at a birthday party during war time. The cake was made with some odd ingredients, it was shared between a group of children who had the same month of birth and the present (if there was one) was usually hand made or a hand me down.

My kids (the ones that I teach) eat no end of fast food, snacks and general rubbish. I don’t teach in an affluent area (in fact, quite the opposite) and I think this may well be indicative of that. There’s more though. They have loads of stuff. Most of the kids in my year 6 (10 and 11 years old) class have a better phone than I do, a range of tablets and computers and all that JD Sport has to offer. They don’t always get that deferred gratification of birthdays and Christmas: they have it all and they have it now. I’m not making a judgment, just a point.
birthday-cupcakes

So, why the title of this blog? It was my daughter’s birthday a couple of days ago and we had the usual phone calls from relatives asking what to buy her. We had a couple of ideas but not loads. Have we fallen into the trap of buying stuff ‘just because?’ I think so. When she watches a princess film, she puts on one of her many princess dresses. When she wants to play, she has loads of toys to choose from. I pretty sure I didn’t have that many toys at the age of 3. Of course, I could be wrong. And I’m pretty sure that my parents thought the same when I was that age in comparison to when they were. Again, I could be wrong.

The thing that did happen though that made me have that odd parent feeling of pride and worry was what she said to me just before I kissed her goodnight.

“Daddy, I’m not ready to be four.”

It was one of the cutest things she’d ever said.

She told my wife the same thing. My wife didn’t find it quite as cute. My daughter had woken my wife at 1 am to tell her.

BTW: I made those cupcakes!

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Comic book geek?

The dark knight returns comic
I have recently been inspired. Not often do I see or hear something that actually inspires me to do something about it. I have been inspired by Kevin Smith and Bruce Wayne. I think I might want to get into comics!
Don’t get me wrong, loads of things have inspired me over the last few years. The Olympics inspired me to watch it but not to go out and kayak (to be fair I don’t think I was the target audience for the inspire a generation campaign), great art can inspire me but that doesn’t mean I can draw and music definitely inspires me but I still (after 16 years of owning it) can’t play more than 6 chords on my guitar. Comics though… Now there’s something I can do.
kevin smith the green arrow
What Kevin has done has shared his infectious love of Batman and all things DC. Kevin Smith, for those who don’t know, is an actor and a director. He is Silent Bob in Clerks, Mall Rats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma. He also directed all of those and more. If you’ve seen any of those then you know his love for comics. He has also written for DC for both Batman and The Green Arrow.
Let me take you back quite a few years, not to my childhood, to when me and the wife, then girlfriend, were looking for people to share our flat. We had rented a big place and had only one income at the time due to one of us studying. We put out an advert on gumtree and waited. We didn’t have to wait long as about half an hour later we had a couple wanting to come round. They came, they were extremely odd and we ushered them out the door with a promise to let them know. We had a couple of phone calls of the same ilk until finally a normal sounding Aussie called. She said that her and her bloke were interested, they came over and they were normal (ish). And so they stayed for a few years. Why am I telling you this? Because the guy half of the couple was a comic book nut.
gumtree aussie rooms
Jimmy was a funny guy who was constantly hungry. He loved computers and comic books. When I look back now I regret not tapping into his knowledge and, at the very least, getting a comic book 101 lesson. Why? Here comes the list.
1) I don’t want to look like a newbie or get ripped off. I need to get knowledgeable about comics without looking like I need the knowledge. This is where the Internet comes in. I can research them in the comfort of my own home and can also buy them and store them on my iPad. I know it’s not the same as owning the actual books but you gotta start somewhere.
Apple iPad Comic Books
2) I want to know the best arc to follow. It seems it’s not just about which character to follow but also about which version or arc. Do I go for the new Batman reboot (the 52’s) or some other timeline? This is what confuses me the most. If I was 10 I’d take whatever I could get. Maybe having money and an ability to over think things is doing me no favours.
3) I don’t have enough time for crap. Seriously. All I want is someone to tell me what to do. Where do I start and where do I go after that. I’m beginning to think that I may have the wrong comic book attitude.
If you don’t feel the need to get into comics at least have a listen to Fatman on Batman. It’s a podcast (available free in iTunes and smodcast) where Mr Smith has various guests on from the world of Batman. The first episode is all about Mark Hamill (yes, that one) who voices the joker on the animated show. It’s funny stuff, even if you’re not into comics.
fatman on batman kevin smith
Maybe I’m having a pre-second baby panic or at the very least a mid life crisis. I do know that I have started to watch Batman cartoons on TV and that my 2 and a half year old doesn’t like them. I try to tell my wife, and myself, that it’s to keep up with what the kids at school like so I can relate to them. The problem is that she can see through me and read my like a graphic novel.
Enjoy your weekend.
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My 12th annual 21st birthday

It’s my birthday today (only if you’re reading it on the 15th) and I’m actually quite excited. The thing that’s exciting me this year is the fact that my little boy knows what’s going on. A bit sad? You bet.
It got me thinking about how my view of birthdays has changed over the years and what birthdays mean at different ages. A list you say? A list with a twist.
Early years – early birthdays are all about the chaos and confusion of it. A house full of family, as much cake and sweets as you can eat and a conveyor belt of presents. It’s the presents that I remember (maybe its a false memory as I’ve seen, and am lucky enough to have, video tapes of those early years) and the fact that they kept on coming. A conveyer belt of ripping, shaking and discarding before moving on to the next item. The other side to the coin was if you got the one you really wanted early on then the others waited for a long time to be opened. I love the start of ‘Toy Story’ when you see it from the perspective of the toy, the panic that new toys bring, “pull my string the birthday party’s today!” a shocked Woody exclaims. One of the best openings to a film I’ve seen.
woody the cowboy toy story
Primary school age (4-11) – This is now more about the party and a little less about the presents. At this age you get to invite your whole class and run around like nutter, high on sugar, for a few hours. The doorbell has never been such an amazing noise. The party food and spread is also very important. This is something I tried to capture in the second Squidge book. I wanted to write about Christmas but not all totally about it. I came up with the idea of the big elf celebration (they were far to busy and then exhausted to celebrate Christmas) being a birthday party, and who better than Santa to throw the biggest party of the year. Here’s a little excerpt.

Now, if you are an elf, then Santa’s birthday party is the best time of the year. Elves don’t really celebrate Christmas like us because they have no time to prepare. Christmas takes a lot of hard work to make great and the elves are too busy making toys. Santa knows this and so makes sure that all of the elves get to have a great big party on his birthday. To give you an idea of how big a party it was, here is one page of Santa’s party preparation list:

 

Jelly and ice cream

Crisps (all flavours, shapes and sizes)

Donuts (jam and chocolate)

Fizzy drinks

Sweets (soft, hard and chewy and all the colours of the rainbow)

Sausage rolls

Pizza (one of each topping and 2 pepperoni as its Santa’s favourite)

Jam sandwiches (with the crusts cut off)

Ham sandwiches (with the crusts left on)

Balloons (the ones that float)

Streamers

A Piñata (full of marshmallows so they don’t hurt you when they fall out)

A gigantic birthday cake (must be chocolate sponge with chocolate icing and chocolate buttons)

 

And there are 20 more pages just like this one. I bet if you can think of something you would like to have at a party, you would find it on Santa’s party list.

squidge Christmas elf

Teenage years – as you get a bit older the party at your house, with the cake and cliche, just won’t cut it. It’s a time in your life when it’s all about you. I want this, I want that, and so on. You want one big present (usually very expensive) and a cool party at the bowling ally, swimming pool, fast food restaurant, quasar (look it up kids) or cinema. What you don’t realise is the expense. Your parents have to pay for the lot. At 13 or 14 though you don’t really care or consider it.
Early 20’s – clothes and a pub. It really is that simple. You can legally drink and you wanna look good doing it. The choice of pub though is very important. You want somewhere cheap, and that usually means a chain, but you also you want somewhere with atmosphere and that means expensive. Do you go to the local or somewhere different. These decisions are very important in your early 20’s and the clothes choices infinitely embarrassing when you look back.
the chequers billericay
Early 30’s – my 30th was a massive event. Bouncy castle, fancy dress (I went as a Jedi), old school sweets, shed loads of beer and pumping 90’s tunes. Everything from the Chillies to MC Hammer and all that is in between. This birthday though will be as the last couple have been, very low key affairs. A couple of friends, a couple of kegs of beer and laugh or two.
adnams broadside and bitter in my fridge
I’m off for a swim with my son now (partly so he’ll have a good nap and not be grumpy when my friends show up later) and then maybe out to lunch to line my stomach for the beer ahead.
I envisage a Sunday morning hangover followed by a fry up and many cups of coffee. Enjoy your weekend people. I know I will.
The final picture is of me and my dad at my 30th. He says he’s meant to be John Wayne, I think he looks Like Woody. You decide.
me and my dad peter
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