How Transport Ideals Downscale with Time…

How transport ideals downscale with time…

At age 5:

No limits

‘…the bunk-bed can be my spaceport.’

At age 15:


‘I’ll have one in red as well’.

At age 25:

'What speed-camera? Oh'.

‘I’m gonna book that Silverstone track day’.

At age 35:

'It's the 2.0L turbo diesel so it shifts".

“It’s the 2.0L turbo diesel”.

At age 45:

'I'm riding 60miles this weekend'.

“I’m riding 60miles every weekend”.

At age 55:

Walking boots

“Might do the coastal path next summer”.

At age 65:


“St. Lucia looks nice”.


Things To Do Before You’re 41

Turning 40I found myself reading the highly entertaining blog Always Time for Biscuits the other day and noticed that the author has a list of things to do before he is 40.

I’ve missed the boat on that one, I’m afraid.

TheUrbanDaddy turned 40 just over a month ago. The big four-oh. Half-way around. Nine holes down. Score? A couple over par.

At least, that’s how it feels, sometimes. There’s the standard-issue half-time concerns – I should definitely be fitter, for example. My old friend the Buddha-Belly, who used to visit me only at Christmas, now appears to have moved in (I wouldn’t mind, but he eats all the biscuits).

Beyond that though, beyond Buddha’s Digestives fetish, or the advance of salt through hair that was once pepper, there’s a persistent, nagging feeling… that I’m under-achieving. There, I’ve said it. I know when this feeling started – about the time I started looking after the girls. And I know the feeling is absurd because in many ways, that’s about the time I started over-achieving: stay-at-home dad some days, freelance producer on others; Daddy day-care, followed by an evening shift in the creative suite. It’s considerably harder than my previous life, wrapped up in the duvet of a five-day working week. I constantly stretch between my two roles; sometimes not quite reaching either. Maybe that’s what is gnawing at me.

So what to do, when there’s a bit too much juggling and not enough fanfare? It’s time for me to set myself a few goals. Some things to do before I’m… well, 41. I’ve got four so far:

  • Get published in print.
  • Learn 10 songs and go busking.
  • Swim 100 metres (that’s a long way for me, in water).
  • Speak French fluently.

I know- it’s fairly tame stuff, but I don’t really fancy abseiling from space, or the like. When my eldest goes to nursery in September, I might commit to some more. Until then, I’m open to inspiration…

She’ll Wait a Long Time For Me…

The UrbanDaddy family are heading out to the Midlands tomorrow. An early start is required.

So when I got back from a light after-work drink this evening, to relieve MsUrbanDaddy so she could rush off to babysit her niece, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for her to expect me to prepare the way for a quick start tomorrow. Pack my clothes, maybe.

MsUrbanDaddy left at 7.20pm. It’s now… later than that. Somehow, my clothes remain unpacked.

I blame the internet. I stumbled upon this video of ancient rockers 10cc playing that song. No issues there, surely? Watch it; don’t watch it. Move on. Except, TheUrbanDaddy is a bit of a sucker for a good cheesy ballad, particularly when he’s had a drink.

So I moved on to the sofa, where you can find me still. I’ve got about 15 browser tabs open and iTunes is into me for a tenner. MsUrbanDaddy is home and has rolled her eyes at me. She now suggests we go to bed.

Ooooohhh – she’ll wait a long time for me…

3 Feet High, and Rising

Growing is one of the things that my eldest daughter does with gusto.

Yesterday, MsUrbanDaddy managed to keep the old boss still long enough to mark her up against a height chart on her bedroom wall. It seems our number one daughter is 3 feet high, and rising.

Naturally, this got me thinking: What other album titles describe my daughter? And once that happened, another list blog was pretty inevitable, really.

Here’s my shortlist; take them and run with them. You know you want to.

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run.

Florence and the Machine – Lungs.

Meat Loaf – Bat out of Hell.

Iggy Pop – Lust For Life.

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers. (Jam, usually. Or Weetabix)

Guns ‘n Roses – Appetite for Destruction.

Michael JacksonOff the Wall.

Bright Eyes – I’m Awake, it’s Morning.

A Tired Dad is a Grumpy Dad…

Lights of my life though they are, my children are also the medium through which life’s flaws, follies and irritations often reveal themselves to me. Here are my favourite bemusements-de-jour.

1 They really are too tired to sleep

Ah, the joy of falling asleep; that warm, fuzzy drift out of sensory range that parents remember so well, but can no longer indulge, mainly because the bloomin’ infants won’t have it.

The notion that babies don’t know how to sleep is a misconception. Babies know full well know how to sleep – they just don’t know when to, or why, so they militate against the sensation. Cue feedback loop: the more they fight it, the more tired they get, the less able to settle they are, the more they panic, the more they fight it…

This definitely should have been caught at the design stage.

2. The child / testicle nexus

If you are a dad reading this, your family jewels have presumably already served you well. Ironic, then, that your progeny should reward this success by smashing you in the nuts at every opportunity. Children reach the optimum height for head-butting your crotch, just as they reach the optimum age for running headlong into things without looking. In a further sign that dads may have been cast adrift by the gods, the crotch is also at perfect object-throwing height, too. Needless to say, medium sized dead weights will be hurled into your tackle daily, and with laser-guided precision.

3. Child Car Seats

Question: How many times have you smacked your child’s head against the door-frame of your car trying to slide them into the car seat? If you’re me, the answer is every time.

By rights, the mere suggestion that the family load up the car should have your kids reaching for their bike helmets. Instead, they invariably dance with joy.

I suspect concussion.

4. ‘Pull-over’ sleep-suits

Two observations:

* The pullover sleep suit must be pulled over the baby’s head to put it on.

* Newborn babies can’t sit up.

Yes, I know it can be done. It’s still a pain in the poppers, though.

5. The crazy assumption that age makes you a better parent

Because experience counts for naught when your baby daughter decides she wants to sing gurgle karaoke from 3 to 6am

I’m only 39 but, chastened by many a long night rocking and soothing, I would probably swap some experience for a little more energy.
I’ve just read this back. Wow, I really am tired.

Meeting Myself Coming Back

I had a phone call the other day from my 19 year-old-self. It’s fair to say, I was surprised.

Still, after some rigorous security questions and a large Brandy, I agreed to his suggestion of an interview. I do wonder why I hadn’t thought of the idea before, but I’d need a whole new blog to address that metaphysical can of worms. Here’s the interview, instead.

Me Then: So how do I look, future me?

Me Now: You see Dad? He’s your new mirror.

MT: Seriously?

MN: Well, it was always gonna be him and mum – and it’s mostly him.

MT: OK. Give me 3 pieces of advice.

MN: Won’t doing this mess up space-time or something?

MT: Technically, we’ve already messed up space-time… Tell you what – go and stand in front of a mirror – if you start to disappear, stop talking.

MN: That’s reassuring… Ok, here’s my first piece of advice – Lose the moustache! Second, she likes you. You don’t have to be such an arse to her.

MT: Who are you talking about?

MN: Like I said, stop being an arse.

MT: Right…

MN: Good. Third, unless this phone call has completely messed things up, there’s a good chance you’re going to live beyond the age of 25 –

MT: Spare me the lecture; I know I’m going to have to pay the loans back.

MN: Right. That’s why you should get all the loans you can and keep the money in an account that pays a higher rate of return than you will pay in interest, so that when you leave Uni, you can put a deposit on a flat –

MT: As fun as that sounds, granddad, I’d rather go traveling after Uni. The last thing I need is a mortgage.

MN: Oh well, I tried… How about a few F.A. Cup betting tips?

MT: I don’t want to talk about football, after the season Arsenal has had.

MN: Don’t worry; it gets much better. And then it gets worse again.

MT: Are you still playing?

MN: Not really. And I’m more likely to use the Sport section of the paper to stuff inside wet footwear than to read, these days.

MT: Since when?

MN: Since the internet destroyed the Sports Page Experience. I’ve more time for the Family section, now.

MT: Do you have one? A family?

MN: Erm…

MT: You’re right, don’t answer that… I’d quite like to see this world of yours.

MN: When you get here, I’ll show you around. Until then, trust me on the moustache.

TheUrbanDaddy: At Home Alone

MsUrbanDaddy has taken the UrbanDaddy girls to see their grandparents.

So I’m on my own for a few days.

This might be a good time to do a Catch-up. A fix-up. A sort-out-and-file-away. The list of tedious, sundry tasks, long put off in the cause of domestic fire-fighting, can no longer be excused or denied.

Except, they can. Of course they bloody can!

When a man such as myself  (be-wifed and childrenised, as writer Tim Lott so accurately frames it) gets some extended time alone, he is bound to use it in the most solipsistic way possible. It may be years before he gets another chance! So have I ditched the domestic to-do-list, for some good old-fashioned slobbing?

As it happens, the old, feral ways don’t come quite as naturally as they used to. Don’t pin any medals on me, the house could do with a tidy. But mess just isn’t so easy to ignore any more and true solipsism requires regular practice, if you’re to be any good at it.

Me? I’m out of shape. I’ve lost some technique. Lost some of the tools, too. There hasn’t been a games console in the house for years but that’s more of a personal choice. My ‘home alone’ recreation was always to drag out a guitar and a USB keyboard. One long night, about a thousand takes and, maybe, I’d have a chorus. It’s been a good couple of years since I did one of those nights!

Still, there’s plenty of time for a bit of Garageband as TheUrbanDaddy family isn’t due to be reunited until Saturday. When I find the cable for that pre-amp, I’m good to go.

I’ve just got a few things to do first…