Archive for August, 2011

Baby’s First… Holiday

The Little Monkey is underwhelmed by his first experience of a British beach.

"I remain dubious about the merits of beaches."

Nothing but blue skies, do I see.

The boy takes after his father in his ability to sport a natty chapeau.

A Baby’s Ever-Changing World

Things can change very quickly in a baby’s world. Sometimes the Little Monkey will be kicking away on his playmat, and suddenly he’s assailed with a wrenching, terrible pain: “No-one has ever hurt like this before” he thinks, “All the light has gone out of the world, my whole being feels empty, I am the most dreadfully neglected, unhappy individual there has ever been!” And then he gets a mouthful of milk and muses “Well, this is nice; some lovely milk, and just when I was getting a tad peckish, don’t cha know. What a delightful day I’m having! Ah, look at mummy’s pretty face, she’s such a treat that I’ll give a little smile, she’s a sucker for those.”

And then at bedtime: “Well, I don’t care if it is dark, I’m having a smashing time, waving my limbs around, gurgling, I’m so awesome! Wait, daddy, why are you putting me down here, on my soft, sleepy place? And don’t tuck me, you silly man, how will I be able to thrash about then? Oh. No, wait a sec… Zzzzzzzzz zzzzzz….”

Brain Attachments

It’s sometimes said that dads don’t get interested in their offspring until they get old enough to be thrown up in the air, or kick a ball across a room. But I’m not sure if that’s really true; babies really are fascinating creatures (I know I’m biased in the case of the Little Monkey, but even so…) Every week Toby has developed something new for us to marvel at; lately he’s been figuring out that those flailing limbs that sometimes hit him in the face are attached to his brain, and thus can be bent to his will. Combined with his eyes, which are also, miraculously, attached to his brain, he’s able to start on the long road that leads to awareness of how one can interact with, and affect, objects that aren’t physically connected to one’s brain. It’s all rather astonishing.

The War-and-Peace-O-Meter: Week Nine

Previous weeks: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

We’re past the halfway mark, folks, and squarely into the book’s third volume. It starts with a rather fine, and admirably precise, review of the causes of the 1812 French invasion of Russia. Tolstoy muses on the strange way that huge incomprehensible events are attributable to everything and nothing; if enough of Napoleon’s generals had refused to come out of retirement, there could have been no war. Yet what difference could one general have made by refusing…

On a rather smaller scale, similar thoughts often occur when one is in a pensive mood about one’s own life. And I have been minded lately to pense the seemingly improbable existence of my freshly-minted son. If Mrs. Monkeyshines and I hadn’t met, there could have been no Little Monkey… if Sarah Beeny hadn’t started up that dating website… if people hadn’t watched her shows to give her the necessary cash and cachet… if there had been no property bubble for her to exploit… Our strange, contingent, complicated human lives are such funny little things. But it’s fun to think about them sometimes; and reading War and Peace is, for all of its stoutness, a rather simpler way to inspire such thoughts than having a baby. Although the latter is probably more rewarding in the long run. Swings and roundabouts, people, swings and roundabouts.

The Monkeyshines Troop

It’s somewhat strange to reflect that our Little Monkey owes his existence, in part at least, to Sarah Beeny, the (seemingly) ever-pregnant host of a range of home improvement shows. For Mrs. Monkeyshines and I met via the dating website that she founded, (MSF). MSF’s schtick is that a friend writes the bit of the profile that says how amazing you are, while you get to be self-deprecating in your section of the profile. A strategy that works a treat for two amazagoggling individuals such as Mrs Monkeyshines and I, who are modest about how absolutely brilliant we both are. (And people wonder why the Little Monkey is such a charmer – how could he be otherwise?…)

The Monkeyshines troop.

The three of us recently featured on MSF’s Success Stories blog, exhorting others to give the site a whirl, since it worked out so splendidly for us. (If you peruse the other success stories, you’ll see that most of them are about people getting engaged, or maybe married; ha, we beat those slackers by getting ourselves a cute little monkey! And a cute little cat!)

The War-and-Peace-O-Meter: Week Eight

Previous weeks: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

I’m glad that I’ve got a good solid hardback edition of the book; it’s taking quite a beating on my daily commute, but is bearing up well. I like to keep books looking as nice as possible, but there’s nothing sadder than a pristine book, it’s spine uncracked and it’s leaves uncut. This book’s dust jacket is looking pleasingly tatty around the edges, and the binding is getting a bit lop-sided. Any future readers of this tome will certainly know that it’s been read (and presumably enjoyed, since you’re not going to stick it out otherwise…)

No. Not gonna happen…

… hoomins are good for food and cuddles, not as sources of labour for charismatic cats.

The War-and-Peace-O-Meter: Week Seven

Previous weeks: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

I’ve broken the 500-page barrier this week. I wouldn’t want all books to be this long, but there is something almost luxurious about the opportunity you have, as a reader, to become absorbed in these characters’ lives. The epic scale of the novel is very much grounded in the emotions of the characters, whose virtues and flaws ebb and flow as the narrative throws love and power at them. It’s all very pleasing and satisfying to read.

Five Weeks Old and Already a Fashion Icon

Rocking the preppy look.

He can even carry off those socks.

Our Little Monkey has some lovely clothes, many of them bought by generous friends and family. It’s rather good fun picking out a little outfit for him, particularly if we’re going out and want to show off how handsome he is. Cute animals are a recurring theme, and some of the slogans are very sweet.

Perhaps because they are such a distinctive shape, giraffes seem to be popular motifs on clothes and as toys. (Although it was no coincidence that Grandma bought Geoffrey Giraffe for Toby, as his nursery has a safari theme.) Elephants too are quite common. Crocodiles in sunglasses are somewhat rarer.

A nautical lad.

Geoffrey Giraffe muscles in.

Baby’s First… Bedroom

It’s strange to think that Toby won’t have any recollection of his nursery, since it will be where I picture him when I think back on his early days. But, as with much baby paraphernalia, I think getting it nice is really for the parents’ benefit. Although we hoped that the animal silhouettes would capture his interest, believing that babies like to look at contrasts. And, indeed, I’m sure he was having a good look at an elephant while being burped on my shoulder last night. Or he could just have been concentrating on his windy-pops.