A Clean and Tidy Relationship

It’s Monday morning and before I left the house today I completed arguably the most important part of my weekly routine; I carefully counted out £27 and left them clearly visible on the kitchen countertop. Monday is ‘cleaning day’ – for three hours the lovely Camilla transforms my house from a filthy squat into a neat, sweet, family home.

Why is this so important? Well I find that there is a direct link between the cleanliness and stability of my domestic life.

I will never call myself a relationship expert. Prior to meeting my now wife, girlfriends tended to last a maximum of three months before the inevitable explosive argument would prematurely finalise each brief fiery encounter. And during the early days, this relationship looked likely to follow the same predictable script. We moved in together in the summer of 2006 and our honeymoon harmony soon disappeared, replaced by a cheap point scoring system as we fought for the higher ground on almost every issue.

However, we moved through this dangerous period, largely because we pinpointed the central pivot that underlay our shaky imbalance – household contribution. Who made more effort in the running and general upkeep of our ‘happy little home’? Now if I am being honest she was usually right – without doubt she contributed more. But I could not give way, I am never one to admit defeat, so together we came up with a simple solution that would revolutionise our day-to-day existence.

I hope you heed this important lesson – my cleaner has saved my relationship (now in its sixth year). In fact the decision to shell out for a three hour deep clean (at £9 an hour) has allowed for a relaxed marriage and even led to a new household addition…who now easily contributes by far the most mess.


Baby Telepathy

Apologies, no entry on the commute home yesterday – I met one of my old university housemates for a couple of beers near Waterloo. As predicted two beers morphed into six (and a meaty mezze from Tas) and I was in no state to type as I swayed on the train home…

But as I crept stealthily through my front door (at 10.45pm) I wasn’t greeted with the sweet silence of a sleeping wife and child – far from it. My little 13 month old son was doing his best to inform my neighbours, and their neighbours, that he was very much awake. Immediately I was hit with the heartfelt dread that perhaps I wasn’t quite as neat, contained and quiet in my arrival as I had previously believed.

“Oh no,” I half-whispered to my fiery looking wife, “did I just wake him?”

The relief on my face was obvious as she explained that he had erupted about 30 seconds before I rustled in. It could not have been my fault – I was at least 50 feet from the house, too far to have caused this sudden explosion.

Eventually after much bouncing and a shot of Calpol, he finally settled at about midnight. A particularly long day considering the 5.45 wake-up for my aforementioned exceptionally early commute in.

Lying in bed, desperately willing him to sleep, I had too much time to consider an unlikely coincidence. Over 18 hours earlier, moments before my unusually early morning alarm, he had let out a whimper, then a gurgle, and was obviously awake. My shower and breakfast had been punctuated with a light, happy chatting from behind his closed nursery door. Apparently my wife finally went to him moments after I had exited.

So twice in the past 24hrs my son had woken at an unusual and random time, which happened to coincide to within minutes of my emergence.

Years ago I watched a documentary, which attempted to prove that animals (namely dogs and cats) could accurately predict their owners’ arrival home. The tested animals were left at home as their owners went out at random times. Each time, the dogs especially, would become very animated within five minutes of their owners’ re-arrival, despite their being no obvious indicators that they were about to return home. The expert concluded that this “must” be down to unique telepathic ability that we as humans will never fully understand.

Now I don’t religiously accept every 9pm Channel4 documentary as absolute fact. It was hardly conclusive proof of a strange, revolutionary phenomena. But…maybe the documentary did tap into elements of truth. Maybe more primitive animals can use a telepathic field in a way we cannot comprehend.

And if dogs can do it, why not babies?

It’s amazing what wild ideas can be concocted with the help of sleep deprivation, lots of grilled meat and 6 premium lagers….

A message?

If I was looking for a message from above that I should persist with the blog, maybe the sight of the stunning purple sky at North Sheen station this morning (my first ever morning of blogging) is just what I need.

20120117-074849.jpgWell my basic attempt to keep my blog secret failed desperately last night, as I cannot sit silently tapping (editing) on my laptop without my inquisitive wife ‘needing’ to know why. The problem is my wife actually is a journalist, a very good journalist, whose very nature is to both enquire and critique. But perhaps this is not such a bad thing, as not only have I acquired my first reader, I have also employed a trained editor (or perhaps I should say critic).

But she wasn’t too harsh, she actually seemed quite impressed. However she did make some valid ‘suggestions’:

1) I need to read more blogs. I need to understand what people write and more importantly why people read.

2) I must not try too hard. People who try to hard to be witty, interesting or intelligent all completely fail.

3) An honest, irrelevant blog could be readable, but don’t expect immediate success.

All very helpful, thank you sweetheart.

So thanks to my editor I feel like I have a little more direction. Perhaps I was too quick to dismiss my new father position and my stimulating career yesterday – both will naturally form part of my day-to-day observations. In fact this blog should be something like a twice daily diary, a vehicle to document what actually is an exciting, happy and interesting time of my life.

I could try and be clever, delete this blog and start again, writing in the first person as my little boy or as an anonymous controversial sports commentator. But I won’t, I will stick with this honest (if a little pointless) commuter blog. If nothing else it has certainly achieved the desired effect, my commute this morning has flown past, despite not managing to grab that illusive seat.

And I have achieved at least one other major goal today, I now know how to both take a picture and upload it using my iPad….I am a blogger in training.

Doing it

I’m doing it.

I am standing on the platform at St. James’ Park underground station, waiting for the tube. Officially I am both commuting and blogging.

The most immediate apparent problem is that it is difficult to stand, hold an iPad and type…and I’m not even on a squashed tube yet. It’s going to be tricky and I’m going to have to work on my standing iPad blogging technique. Evidently thumb typing is a skill I am going to have to strongly develop.

Time is not an issue. I reckon I should have enough time to write valid entries. My problem is content; what to write?

I am a “relatively” new father (13 months into it), but there are hundreds of novice dad blogs out there already written by considerably more talented and capable writers than myself. I work in sport for a reputable sports agency, but again I cannot stand out from the mass of journalists and ex-pros who have both reputation and worthy opinion on sport.

Frustratingly I am not uninteresting, I have had a number of notable experiences… For example I lived in West Africa for a year (Cameroon and Ghana) and have a host of observations, opinions and anecdotes from that reasonably rare life. But that was 6years ago, not exactly current. Similarly my single, lively, hedonistic (!) past is now a distant memory. I need to face the fact that currently I’m just not that interesting.

Therefore my only niche can be general “life observation”.

But it’s working. Whilst typing I have bumped my way onto the train, and even have a seat. My typing still isn’t great, I seem to be limited to either 2 index fingers, 2 thumbs or one complete hand. The latter seems to be the best option, so in the short term I will go with it.

And i’m enjoying it. I already feel superior to the Brickbreakers, Angry Birders, Facebookers, basic Tweeters and even the Standard readers. One commute in is still early days but I shall stick with it. Each of these distinctly average entries could be my last, but maybe I will experience something unique. Maybe tomorrow my life will become much more interesting…