Tag Archives: father christmas

Can you feel the Christmas presence?

It’s finally upon us, Christmas day. Food, Presents, food, drink, food, music, food, games and food. It’s the time of year to eat ‘til you want to burst, have a sleep then eat some more. I love it.

It’s strange for me to see the most wanted Christmas toy list that they seem to have every year. I like to think that, being a teacher, I am relatively up to date with kids TV, music and toys. Every now and then though I am reminded how wrong and old I am. So here is the top 10. Recognise any?

Doggie Doo, John Adams, RRP £22.99

Fijit Friends, Mattel, RRP £54.99

Fireman Sam Pontypandy Rescue Set, Character, RRP £29.99

Kidizoom Twist, VTech, RRP £49.99

LeapPad Explorer, Leapfrog Toys, RRP £79.99

Lets Rock Elmo, Hasbro, RRP £69.99

Milky the Bunny, Flair, RRP £59.99

Monster High Lagoona’s Hydration Station, Mattel, RRP £39.99

Moshling Tree House, Vivid, RRP £18.99

Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, Hasbro, RRP £44.99

Me either!

So then, here are my top 5 Christmas gifts. Time for a festive list…

5) Kid size pool table. This was an unexpected present for both me and my sister. The problem with this gift was my curiosity, that coupled with the fact that I’d had an early night and was up way too early. Basically I’m making excuses for the fact that I peaked. The size of the thing meant that it couldn’t be wrapped so I saw it. Sorry Ma and Pa I had to do it.

4) Remote control car. I loved my car, it was awesome. It was red and fast, and that is all I remember. I do remember wanting one because my next door neighbour had one and I wanted my own. He was quite a bit older than me and infinitely more patient, so whereas mine was straight out of a box, he spent months building his. I do remember that when he finished it, he drove it straight down the drive, into the road and a car ran it over.

3) A Transformer. I never wanted Optimus prime, I was always after Megatron, something about turning into a gun I suppose. Looking back at the original transformers, and the new version I suppose, is how on Earth (or Cybertron for that matter) was it a good idea to turn into a car when you could be a plane. If I had to go to war I know which one I would prefer to be. Anyway, I was told not to let other kids play with it unless I knew them, I ignored this, it broke, I cried.

2) A pack of tampons. OK so not you traditional gift for a man or boy. To be fair, not really a gift for anyone. Could you imagine on Christmas morning ‘here you are dear, I hope you like them’. Anyway, I digress. We had a secret Santa with the lads many years ago, the remit was under £5 and pointless. I couldn’t have chosen better myself.

1) A speeder bike (the one that works in the forest of Endor). This is a star wars based present and it rocked. Not only was it able to fit neatly in my hand, not only did it come with a full size Luke Skywalker (in full camo gear) but it also exploded when you pressed a button on the back. I still enjoy watching the video of that Christmas as everyone is sitting, eating and being merry and every now and again I would run past shouting (not singing) the Star Wars theme tune.

It’s a strange thing growing up as Christmas doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. If I really want something now then I can just buy it. If I wanted something then I would have to wait months and weeks to get it. What it does have though is the joy of being able to buy presents. I do love choosing stuff for other people in a way my younger self just wouldn’t understand. May the force be with you this festive season. Merry Christmas y’all.

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The night before Christmas

Do you remember Christmas eve as a kid? I know I do. Not only did I want to go to bed early but I was ready at about 5 in the afternoon, even earlier if I didn’t know what I was getting. This though had a knock on effect, it meant that I would be up all the more early the next day. I was a slightly hyperactive child so when I woke up the whole house knew, and I’m sure it happened in the small hours more than once. I am also sure I am not alone in this.

Fast forward a few years, I am still very hyperactive, I still want to go to bed early but my parents now have a secret weapon at their disposal… I can now tell the time. They are now able to say ‘don’t wake us up until…’ To be fair to them, they didn’t choose 9 or 10 o’clock. If memory serves it was about 6 o’clock. That didn’t stop me and my sister coming in at quarter to 6.

Move on a few more years (I feel a little like the ghosts in a Christmas carol, the muppet one of course) and its my parents waking up me and my sister. Not because they have gone a bit mental and we have had to tell them to wait until 6am, but because we spent Christmas eve down the pub, and one year a club. I don’t think Christmas morning is the same for parents when they have 2 hungover teenagers.

These days we wake up in our own house at Christmas. My little boy is too young to know what’s going on, he wakes up at 6.45 most days. We will wake up in our house, open our presents (though to be fair they are mostly his), jump in the car and head down to my parents, where he will get even more presents (and attention).

I do look forward to the year, maybe next year or the year after, when he knows Santa is coming and gets really excited. I will be sure though to teach him how to tell the time and get him a digital alarm clock.

Have a happy Christmas eve, may your day be merry and bright and may all your children sleep in until a semi decent hour tomorrow.

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There’s no encouragement to drink less.

I went out the other night. A very rare treat as I have a young son and a demanding and time consuming job. I had a really good night and had a couple of drinks to boot. While in the bar I asked my wife what she would like, I went to the bar, ordered my drinks and was asked the killer question… Would you like an extra measure/shot for only 60 pence. I of course said yes. I went back and gave my wife a much larger drink than she had asked for, explaining that it wasn’t much more money. She turned to me, thanked me and said “they never encourage you to drink less”. It struck me that in our health conscious world surely they shouldn’t be promoting more alcohol. Surely they should make it harder to get drunk and hence damaging your organs not easier. This seems to me to be one of a long line of ‘more, more, more’ culture. Here are my others…

1) BOGOF. The ‘buy one get one free’ offer always gets me. I fall for it every time. Either I a) change what I was going to buy and get the deal or b) buy something I didn’t go in for in the first place. I once saw a man have an argument over cheese, he only wanted one block of cheese but it was on a BOGOF offer. The girl on the checkout was so perplexed that he only wanted one block she was insisting he go get another. The other problem is when there is only one left. Even though I would buy that product individually, and I really don’t need double the amount, I will still pick an alternative as I feel like I was being done out of free stuff if I bought just one.

2) cinema. The cinema meal deal is as expensive as a real meal. Seriously. Having been recently, I asked for a large coke and a small popcorn, the reply was ‘you can get a large coke and a large popcorn for only £8.75’. Only? Only? My dinner later that evening cost about £10.00. As an aside, I tried the popcorn, it was stale, I told the person behind the counter and she asked me, not her boss, If I thought she should do a fresh batch. Erm no thanks, I’ll eat the stale stuff.

3) Fast food: supersize anyone? Why should my blood have an easy job getting through my arteries? Bring it on.

I am yet to walk into a bar and be asked “for the sake of your liver, would you like to pay 60 pence less and get half the amount?” I suppose that wouldn’t make much business sense, just common sense. At this festive time of year I am reminded of Richard Attenborough in miracle on 34th street sending people to where they can get toys cheaper. The best we can hope for is an asda (Walmart) price promise. Come shop with us, go check every item on line and we might give you back 59 pence. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas.

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CCTV Christmas

So I went out to do a bit of shopping. I didn’t stay long! I could go into all the old clichés about consumerism and packed shopping centres, full people being herded from shop to shop like cattle, but it seems overdone.

Instead, I would like to show you this pic I took. There are many of these fake baubles all over the trees at my local shopping centre. It appears that the season of good will towards men is long since gone. Is it now the season of the shoplifter?

I suppose if you have been naughty, if you aren’t getting any presents from Santa anyway, then you need to get your own. Surely though, buying them would be better.

Remember, Santa is always watching.

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Here comes Santa Claus 2

He screamed! We didn’t even get in the door. The poor Santa and elf didn’t know what to do. At least we still got the present.

He was a really good Santa as well.

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Here comes Santa claus?

We are off to see Santa today and I for one can’t wait. I have a shopping afternoon off work, we have booked in (yes, you need to book with santa’s PA for an appointment) and my son has no idea what is going on. It’s not a surprise, it’s just that he is not yet 2.

Last year was a disaster. We took the boy to a shopping centre, got there early, queued for ages and had to leave within seconds due to the screaming. Our expectations of a magical and festive experience were smashed to pieces by the piercing screams of our nearly one year old. To be fair to my son though what did we expect? There you go son, sit on this big fat mans lap in a strange place, try to ignore the massive beard and strange person (with big ears and a stripy outfit) taking your picture, just smile for the camera. New parents? You bet.

But what makes a truly great Santa? Here it comes…

1) real fatness. Santa must actually be fat. It’s no good shoving pillows up a skinny mans top as it makes him look like the voodoo head Shrinkers have got to him. Scary.

2) a good beard. It needs to be like goldilocks hair, white of course, but not straggly. The last thing you need is your Santa looking like Dan Ackroyd when he goes nuts in trading places. It also needs to look real, not stuck on, otherwise pulling of the beard will occur. De bearding Santa? A dream crusher.

3) the grotto. It needs to be cosy, warm and welcoming. The one last year looked like an evil Micky mouse lair. No wonder my son went nuts.

4) Santa needs to be old. A young Santa is just weird. Crows feet yes, deep, gruff voice yes. Youthful exuberance no.

I hope today goes well. To be honest I just hope it’s not a scream fest. Above all else though, I hope the picture is good. It’s a long time to wait for the next one.

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The best and worst Trilogy

What makes a good trilogy? Is it a good idea? is it something that gets better as you watch or read each one? Is it something that is well thought through? I am unsure what makes this magical thing of 3 great things, I can however tell you what makes a bad trilogy. Here are my top 3 bad trilogies.

1) The Godfather. This may surprise some, especially those that know me, but the Godfather trilogy is guilty of committing a terrible, terrible crime. The first Godfather film was amazing, made even more so by the fact I hadn’t seen it until the age of 25. I loved the interwoven story line, the effortless violence and completeness of it all. I loved it. Then came number 2. It was even better than the first and added another great Italian actor into the mix. The dual story lines went extremely well together and the whole ‘how times of changed’ angle was great. Number 3 was s**t. End of story. From such high expectations came a less than mediocre film. Why oh why!

2) Back to the Future (although the illustrator of the Squidge series disagrees). The first 2 films were interwoven so well that you couldn’t just stop at the first, although it dies stand alone very well. The ideas behind it, the great acting, and the fact that it makes you feel smarter than you are by being able to follow it. It hits all the right notes. Number 3 though, oh dear. It is all the things a western shouldn’t be and it really feels tacked on to the end as a money spinner. A flying steam-powered train? Really?

3) The Matrix. What a concept. seriously, what a concept. The real world isn’t the real world, the real world is a desolate waste land. Only one (the one) can save man kind. WOW. I walked out of the matrix thinking ‘how will they ever follow that up?’ The answer? Badly. I think that the idea of Zion was a very bad one, as did many other people. So much so that you can watch the Matrix de-zionised. check out U-tube. 

So then, to the best 3. Trilogies that I love.

1) Star Wars. It’s Star Wars, what else do you need? And yes, I am ignoring the prequels. Mr Lucas was given the green light on one film, even though he had 6 (or 9 if you believe certain quarters) he chose to start at number 4. He basically went for the best one for commercial viability. It gets better with both Empire and Jedi.

2) Lord of the Rings. Either the books or the films, I’m not fussy which. All films and books are wonderful, clever, linked and, as with all great stories, a tale of good versus evil. Now some people think they are a bit long and others liked them enough to buy the extended version. Guess which one I was! I would quite happily spend an entire day of my life watching back to back extended films. I have already done it with the 7 star wars films (I included the clone wars animated film).

3) Squidge: Little elf, Little bear. Ok, Ok, I admit it may not be the greatest of trilogies but it is close to my heart. It’s the story of an elf, a bear, some lemmings and a wolf pack. It was really fun to write, lets hope it is as fun to read.

Squidge: little elf, little bear.

That’s it from me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Merry blogging Christmas

It is the school Christmas fare today. Am really quite excited. The only downside is that it will be my job to supervise the kids. Let’s hope the sugar they ingest doesn’t kick in until they get home!

As its a Christmasy day I thought my new festive jumper would be in order. It has all the right elements for a wonderful Christmas garment. List time…

1) it is knitted. It may not be hand knitted or made by my Granny, but it is knitted none the less.

2) it is immediately identifiable. It is in no way subtle, it screams Christmas at the top of its woolly lungs. Here I am, be festive or leave my presence.

3) it is a once a year deal. I could not get away with it in either November or January. It will be nearly packed away on December 26th 2011 and I will be in anticipation of its return in from November 2012.

4) it is worn with a sense of irony. It’s cheesy as hell and I know it! I believe, or hope, that at 32 I am still young enough to say ‘check out how cool I am, I have a Christmas jumper’. I am sure that in the next few years I will have to revert to ‘look at me, I’m trying to be cool but I just look like an old man in a christmas jumper’. In a way though, I look forward to that day.

5) I can spill anything down it and no one will know. Kinda explains itself that one.

Any way, take a look. Is it awfully cheesy, or is it in fact cheesily awful?
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To blog or not to blog?

I am really enjoying blogging. It’s an opportunity to say whatever you like to complete strangers. It’s a kind of therapy really, clearing out all the thoughts that swirl around my brain and putting a full stop ( literally) at the end of it. But it has also created a list of problems I hadn’t even considered at the start. Here comes another list…

1) what to blog about? I now find myself laying awake at night, considering what I can speak about. This is not a writers block problem at all, it is quite the opposite. I had at least five topics today, ranging from my friends wife who has recently released a book to the school trip today.

2) is it a family thing? Yesterday I spoke about my grandparents, today I considered writing about my young son. Do I really want to put my real personal life out there? And that brings me onto point 3…

3) is anybody interested in what I have to say? The simple answer is yes, it appears so. I am averaging a good number of hits a day. The problem is this: will I continue to do so? Is what I am saying of any interest to you? I hope so. Plus, I find myself constantly looking at my stats on my WordPress app.

4) how often should I mention the books? The reason for starting to blog was at my publishers behest. He thought I would enjoy it. He was right of course, I’m loving it. But it does come back to the fact that I would like people to go to the titles tab and look at what I have had published (little shameless plug there).

All this said, the problems of blogging are far outweighed by the joy I get from it. I think that, even if the book bombs, it is something I will continue to do.
Please keep reading, I will be right here.

Andrew Thomas
Blogger

Ps. Am gonna ask my friends wife if I can blog about her this week. Tomorrow will be about the great tradition of the school trip. Maybe.

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A very London show

The stage was set (some painted pieces of fabric held up by wooden frames), the actors were ready (a travelling panto cast of 6 or 7), the audience waited (7 classes of primary school children ranging from 4 to 11 years old) and the orchestra started to play (a lady at the back with a MacBook). It was the school panto.

I must admit, I was slightly dubious when I found out that the panto was to be The Wizard of Oz. Never before had I heard of a film based pantomime. To my surprise though it was very good.

Yes the acting was hammy. Yes the set was more functional than stunning. Yes the music was very synth based. But I found myself singing along and clapping in all the right places.

The thing I didn’t expect was the reaction of the children. Don’t get me wrong, they very much enjoyed it, the problem was that they didn’t know what to do. Panto rules state that
1. If someone shouts ‘oh no they didn’t’ you response should be ‘oh yes they did’.
2. When the baddie comes on you boo, when the goodie comes on you cheer.
3. Clap along with the music whenever possible.
4. Direct the person on stage who is looking for someone, either ‘it’s behind you’ or ‘over there’ will do.
5. Fidget uncomfortably on your seat when the slow/love song comes on.

I often forget that working in a very deprived area means that the kids don’t get much. They had no idea what to do. Most of them have never been to the theatre, even for a pantomime. I now feel bad about my last post bemoaning the fact I had to attend 2 pantos a year.

I now realise how lucky I was, and even though I moaned a little at the time, hindsight (and the kids I teach) have taught me a valuable lesson.

In their defence, the kids did admirably with point 5 on my list of rules. Some things you just know.

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