Posted in Sport & Fitness

Lions Tour Party

I haven’t had a chance to speak to George yet as according to his nursery schedule he will be busy filling containers with sand and water right now. However, I’m sure he will be disappointed that Warren Gatland has largely ignored our suggestions for his Lions touring party and failed to pick seven of our starting XV. I could ramble on for ages about why I would have picked a different squad but I know George would want me to keep it brief.

Most bizarre omissions: Chris Robshaw (should have been captain), Greg Laidlaw and Rory Best.

Most bizarre selections: Conor Murray (how on earth did he make it?), Toby Faletau (not good enough), Richie Gray (badly out of form).

I have other concerns about certain players who are coming back from injury and may not have much time to establish form and fitness (Lydiate & Bowe) but equally there are some players hitting top form at exactly the right time (J Davies, B Youngs & O’Connell). There is enough quality in this squad to make a formidable starting XV. This is the team I would pick based those selected for the trip.

15 – Leigh Halfpenny
14 – Tommy Bowe
13 – Brian O’Driscoll
12 – Jamie Roberts
11 – Stuart Hogg (not a winger but far better player than other wingers in the squad)
10 – Owen Farrell
9 – Ben Youngs

1 – Gethin Jenkins
2 – Richard Hibbard
3 – Adam Jones
4 – Paul O’Connell (captain)
5 – AW Jones
6 – Tom Croft
7 – Justin Tipuric
8 – Jamie Heaslip

Substitutes: Cole, T Youngs, Vunipola, Parling, O’Brien, Phillips, Sexton, J Davies.

You have probably noticed that I haven’t picked the official Lions captain but as even Warren Gatland doesn’t think Warburton is the best open side flanker in the Welsh team why would he start for the Lions? There are two specialist blind-side flankers in the squad (Croft and Lydiate) and they are both better than Warburton in that position so I see no reason to start him there either. He is a fine player but I would only play him if Tipuric is not playing well. O’Brien is a brilliant impact player and can cover all back row positions so he deserves a place on the bench.

I will need to check this selection with George when we get home but I doubt he will disagree. I think the Aussies will be terrified of that front five, the back row can dominate the breakdown and there is real pace and invention in the backs. Time to bring on the Lions!

Posted in I'm the Daddy

Dadvertising Extra

I started this post last year but I’ve only just got round to finishing it off. It is a small addition to a post I did for the mighty Kraken about how badly Dads are portrayed in most adverts. I’ve seen very little improvement since I wrote this but I feel it is only fair to mention there were a couple of adverts that I was impressed with.

Piri WeepuThe first featured New Zealand’s World Cup winning scrum half, Piri Weepu. The advert was part of anti-smoking campaign and featured the rugby star, bottle feeding his daughter Taylor.  Anyone who has seen Piri leading the All Black haka knows what a fearsome and intimidating character he is so I loved seeing this paternal side to him. Sadly you can only see stills from this advert as it was pulled after pressure from the La Leche League who felt their agenda was more important.

The second advert I liked was from VW which surprised me as I normally hate car adverts. It manages to steer away from too many clichés and most importantly portrays a Dad who isn’t an idiot. The theme that links these two adverts is Dads and their daughters.  The advertising world frequently struggles with complex concepts and has very little idea how to depict a father/daughter relationship.

I can’t find the advert now but recently I remember being infuriated by an advert for Disneyland Paris whose central premise was ‘Dads – You can’t possibly understand your daughter so buy their love with a trip to Disneyland Paris’. It made me want to drown Mickey and his mates. Money and taxi rides are the only thing a father can give his daughter in your average advert.

I think reality is somewhat different and as usual I look to my friends for inspiration. One friend has two daughters and I’ve always joked that he is the least important decision maker in the house but we both know he is central to lives of his little girls. Another friend has taught his daughter the words to ‘Flower of Scotland’ so they can sing the national anthem together before Scottish rugby games – it is beyond cute.  The most broody I have ever been in my life was when I saw the man who taught me ‘where real men piss’ holding his 2 week old daughter with a look of total adoration in his eyes. His daughter is 8 years old and I have never seen that love waver.

If I can find inspiration this easily why do the people behind our adverts find it so hard? Maybe they don’t have kids. I have a Mad Men style image of sharp suited men trying to work out if babies like smoking and whiskey while tedious jazz plays in the background.  I don’t know.  You can probably see why I haven’t finished this post before as I have left myself with nowhere to go. I don’t know the answer and boycotting all products with a poor advert is virtually impossible. I hope things will change eventually and the odd marketing bod will realise that Dads are different now but we may have to wait some time.

I will leave you with what is neither an advert for milk or sippy cups but should be both.

Posted in I'm the Daddy

Looper

LooperHas anyone seen the film ‘Looper’? I won’t try to explain the whole plot as it does get quite complicated but there is one key element I would like to talk about as it has got me thinking. In the film, two actors – Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis – play the same character at different points in his life. Bruce Willis gets sent back in time and tries to change the future for the Joseph-Gordon Levitt version of himself. They are the same man but they are very different, time has mellowed Bruce and his experiences have left him a changed man.

Now I’m not one for giving out advice to other people but what if I could go back and talk to myself? What if I could back exactly one year to the day before my son was born? What would I say? If I could go back, I imagine the conversation would go something like this.

For the purposes of this blog post I will be played by Bruce Willis and me from a year ago will be played by Joseph-Gordon Levitt.

Bruce Willis (BW): Hi Andy, I’m you but from the future.

Joseph-Gordon Levitt (JGL): Really? You look like Bruce Willis.

BW: Yeah I know. I would have cast someone else but what can you do? Anyway, I’m sure you’ve guessed by now it is all about to kick off.

JGL:  I’m really nervous, I could do with some advice. Have I done enough to prepare for childbirth? Will I be able to help?

BW: Well kind of. Nothing you’ve done will be any use but  . . . um .

JGL: But it’s going to alright isn’t it?

BW: Not really. It’s going to be awful. None of that ‘best day of your life’ crap.  You’ll get through but that’s the best I can say about it.

JGL:  But once the baby is born, then it will be alright?

BW: Sorry mate, not really. It is going to be hard especially in that first week. I don’t want to say too much as you have got to find out for yourself. It will get better but not for a while.

Silence

BW: Anyway, this isn’t why I came back to talk to you. I came to warn you that things are going to change, you’re going to change.

JGL: Change how?

BW: It’s difficult to explain. Everything you feel, everything you see, everything you do will be different. You won’t be able to separate the different strands of your life, everything will come back to the little life you helped bring into the world.  Things that used feel important won’t anymore.  Clearing your head will become one of the hardest things you do. Don’t underestimate the emotional impact this will have on you, there is no going back.

JGL: I don’t understand. How do I prepare?

BW: You can’t, you just need to know it is going to happen. Changing a nappy is easy and you will get used to waking up in the middle of the night but no one tells you about the emotional changes, even though it is the hardest part. The highs will take your breath away, you will not believe me if I tell you how many happy tears you will shed in the next year. The smallest gesture, smile or noise will make your heart swell with unconditional love. All these feelings come wrapped up in one and you have no control over any of it.

JGL: I’m still not sure I understand.

BW: Let me think of an analogy. Have you seen the film ‘Looper’?

JGL: If you are really me from the future you know that I haven’t.

BW: Oh yeah, never thought of that. That’s a shame, I had a really good idea where you could be played by Joseph-Gordon Levitt.

JGL: Oh I like him. Look I’d better go. Have you got any advice for the next 24 hours?

BW: One thing. If you get asked to wear some shoes that pinch a little, don’t make a big deal about it. There is going to be someone else in the room in much more pain and you may come across as a bit of a princess.

JGL: Thanks mate.

BW: Good luck. I know you are going to be OK.

End scene

This post might make more sense if you read my original post about the day George was born.

Posted in Biscuits

Class

‘And we’ll die in the class we were born, well that’s a class of our own my love.’

Time for Heroes, The Libertines

Last week I filled out the class survey on the BBC website to see which of the new class brackets I now fall in. Turns out I’m part of the ‘Established Middle Class’. Not really that surprising as I went to University, live in the home counties and listen to Classic FM in the car cos it seems to make George sleepy. So far, so predictable. It was when I started to read more of the description of what it meant to be in this ‘class’ that it started to make less sense. I do have a nice life but the description of wealth and in particular the word ‘established’ suggested an element of immovability from my current position that I don’t feel. I am very aware that redundancy or long term ill health could bring this crashing down and I can never feel 100% secure.

This led me to think about the number of friends and family members who have been made redundant, had pay cuts or been forced to re-apply for their own job in the last few years. All of them worked hard and were guilty of nothing more than working in the wrong industry at the wrong time. I have only ever been unemployed for a short period of time but what sticks in my memory was how long it took to recover from this experience. I took a job I didn’t like as I needed the money and ended getting side lined into dead end roles. It took me years to get to a point where I felt I finally had a career.

This train of thought neatly brings me on the raft of welfare cuts the government brought in over the last week. Knowing how easy it can be to fall I am a firm believer in the need for the state to provide assistance for those who need it. Very few people are so secure that they know they will never need help at any point in their life. I am well aware that there are some who abuse the system but I don’t see why the majority should be punished for their actions. More importantly I cannot demand a safety net for my own life and then deny others the same basic rights.

In my opinion the new changes are a crude and remorseless attack on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of our society. I’m not alone from feeling this way but I sometimes need to remind myself that as I select who I follow on twitter and only read certain newspapers I frequently only get an echo chamber for views similar to my own. Not everyone agrees with me, according to a ComRes poll last year, 40% of us think that at least half of all benefit recipients are “scroungers”. Even more frightening is that this rises to 50% when you only ask 18-30 year olds. It seems that compassion is thin on the ground amongst the next generation.

All of this brings me back to where I started. Some of the more hysterical editorial in our national newspapers have spoken about a divide being created through our society; not ‘scroungers vs. strivers’ but those who support paying benefits to the unemployed, old and disabled against those who only see cheats, idleness and murderous intention. Is this the real class divide? Does caring about what happens to those around you set you apart from your peers? I really hope not.

Please put your comments, views and opinions in the box below.