27 June 2008

Dress stress, money less

We've had a small amount of dress stress, now that everyone has tried theirs on. Most of them were too long, and will need adjusting in the neck strap and in the length of the skirt part, but that's not serious and is quite easy to do apparently. However, one of them is significantly shorter and tighter than its designated bridesmaid. Something must have gone awry with the measurements there, which I suppose was always a risk seeing as they all measured themselves separately and probably all did it in slightly different ways. We're lucky that most of them fit in the waist and bust as well as they do.

So anyway, we had a bit of a panic when we realised that. You can take dresses up or in, but not very easily down or out because... well, you can't make material where there is none. But, having had our chief bridesmaid and dress organiser-extraordinaire contact the Chinese dress lady, it is hopefully not as bad as we first thought. We are told that, for this very reason, the dressmakers cleverly build in extra fabric sewn into the sides and the hem, so that there is scope for increasing the size if need be. How clever is that? I've had a feel of the dress, and I can't feel any hidden fabric, but I hope what she said is true. So hopefully we'll be able to find a good dress alterer and, even if it doesn't end up quite as long as the others, we'll end up with something acceptable.

In other wedding news, we went to the hotel last night to firm up final details. The wedding man asked lots of questions like do we want everyone to be seated for the meal and then him announce our entry, which hadn't even occurred to me as an option. I suppose I've seen other people do that. But anyway, we thought about it and decided we'd be too embarrassed so we'll just sit down when everyone else sits down. It's not a formal affair really.

And having carefully transferred money around in order to pay our bill by the 28-days-before deadline, he didn't actually want the money in the end anyway! He said "oh don't worry about that, just a week before or whenever". So we have managed to avoid being punched in the bank balance to the tune of several thousand pounds for a little while longer.

This weekend will probably be a quiet one as Chris is off at Rob's stag do for all of it. So I am footloose and fancy free, what's a boy to do? I can't wash my hair ALL weekend.

I bet I end up watching Bridget Jones, drinking wine, and dancing round my living room on my own. I am SO cool...
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24 June 2008

Naughty schoolboys and 60-year olds

I had quite a nice weekend, if a little hectic. It always is these days when we go home, we end up trying to pack in far more than in reasonable so we don't have to go home again for a while. By 'home' I mean my parents' house. I'm not sure why I still say that actually, I've not lived there properly for nine years. Come to think of it, 'Home' in my mobile is still my Mum's number too, I really must change it.

It was my Dad's 60th birthday at the weekend, so on Saturday we went up to my brother's house for lunch with them and my parents. Mum didn't come, she wasn't feeling well enough, but I wasn't that surprised. I think Dave was a bit annoyed, but also slightly relieved because it makes it less stressy. It's a shame for her of course, because then she feels like she's missed out and she ends up spending the day on her own again, but what can you do to fix that? She can't come, but she wouldn't be well enough to have people at their house all day, so basically she misses out. It's either that or cancel and everyone misses out. It does make me that extra bit worried about her making it to the wedding though...

Then it had also been our friend Paul's birthday earlier in the week, so in the evening we went out with them to a school disco at G-A-Y. I don't like going out in London quite often, I find it a stress and loads of effort, and I tend not to feel very safe on the night bus home. But I made the effort to go anyway, and am pleased to say that my school blazer still fits 11 years after I left school - when Mum bought me a size 'to grow into', she really meant it. It was quite good there anyway, we got in cheap because we were dressed up, and the music was alright. I was disappointed only about 50% of people had dressed up for it, lazy buggers. You only have to put a white shirt and a tie on, it's not that hard. I also thought there would be more cute boys there, given the club is so big and it's in London, but there were only a few I liked.

There was a freaky old man there (by old I mean about 40) who was wandering around off his face and topless already at 11.30pm (far too early for that), and he kept pushing his jeans down really low so you could almost see his... bleurgh.... in a way I assume he thought was alluring. It wasn't. He came too close to Chris at one point, so Chris glared at him. I think he panicked, because he dropped all his cards and money on the floor and then had to crawl around trying to pick them up while we sniggered at him.

The night bus took FOREVER to get us home, an hour in the end, so it was 4.30am by the time we got to bed and the sun was coming up. The bus wasn't too bad, I didn't feel as unsafe as I usually do, but a sleeping girl did get her mobile phone stolen out of her hand while she slept and woke up a few minutes later by which time her assailant had got off. But at least nobody tried to stab anyone else.

Chris has tried to assuage my public safety fears before by saying people very rarely actually get attacked, which I suppose is true, but I got mugged four times when I was growing up and it has left me a bit damaged. I'm still afraid of groups of 11-year old boys in the street, how ridiculous is that? They clearly wouldn't attack me, I'm twice their height, but the worst children know you can't actually do anything to them without getting arrested, so they can freely harass you, and that's just as bad. I hate the fact that after you've been mugged, YOU'RE the one who's left feeling stupid and ashamed. Anyway.

So then after too few hours sleep, we had a nice restaurant lunch, then trundled back to Brighton, and the weekend was over. And that clock continues to tick on, four weeks three days to M-Day now...

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23 June 2008


I have been having a little play with my new camera, trying to work out what all the settings do. So far I think I understand what the shutter speed, aperture and ISO things do, but I'm not that good at picking the right ones yet. Also, as I've only been playing in my living room where the light is not that great I think I'm making things harder than they need to be.

Here are a couple of ones I took when playing around with reflections and colour. I had to do the blur in PhotoShop, I haven't learnt how to make it focus just on the foreground properly yet.

20 June 2008

Death by dustcart

Being backed over by a dustcart must be a pretty awful and ignominious way to meet your end. That's what happened to a 61 year-old grandmother last year in Brighton, and they've just finished the court case to decide if blame should be apportioned to someone. Honestly, if someone said to me "you're going to die by being backed over by a dustcart", I would think fuck what a rubbish way to go (hilarious pun there, not intentional).

The woman was on a pedestrianised street, but which the vehicle was allowed to be on to collect rubbish. Although it had flashing lights on, its reversing warning siren (that annoying beep beep beep thing) was switched off, and the camera that allows the driver to see behind the truck wasn't working. So apparently he should have asked a member of the crew to stand at the back and check it was safe, but he didn't and it wasn't. The driver has been fined £2,500 for driving without due care and attention and given nine points on his licence, but not convicted of anything like causing death through dangerous driving. The family seem fairly happy with that, they just didn't want it labelled 'an accident' with no-one at fault.

But seriously, of all the ways to go. It's like dying on the toilet or falling into a septic tank or something. I've often wondered how I'll go. Hopefully I'll be really old and no longer frightened of it, at the moment it terrifies me. I'm quite a morbid person sometimes though, I should really cheer up...
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19 June 2008


I've been thinking about why I write this blog, if it's interesting, what sort of things I should be writing about, and other things like that.

I suppose I write it for the same reasons I used to write a diary - it's quite a nice thing to do, to help you think things through, and it's nice to be able to look back on it later. I suppose if any other people find it vaguely interesting or amusing, that's a bonus that you don't get with a paper diary.

The second question is more complicated. Is it interesting? Hmmm, sort of. Sometimes. I think some of things I've written giving my opinion on things, or talking about something funny that's happened, are sort of interesting. General narrative about "I did this, then that happened" is a bit dull though, and I must try to avoid it.

As to what to write about, that's also more tricky. I don't know if people like some of the posts I've written more than others. Things I could write about are:
  • my daily life, the wedding, work, that kind of stuff
  • current events, occasionally I put stuff on here about politics or interesting things I've read in the Economist. Not that often though, I could do more
  • interesting pictures, videos, websites and stuff that I find
  • more personal sort of stuff, like boys, boys I like, sexual adventures (when I have them), lack of sexual adventures (more likely)...
Any comments (from the vague few who read this) would be appreciated. I've been reading about what makes a good blog, and lots of places say "write about what interests you, write what you think, keep it short and accessible". So I suppose that's a good place to start.

It's also a bit tricky when yes I could write about my thoughts about people I know, people I like, people I hate, but they might actually READ this themselves. Especially because I link this to my Facebook, so all my friends could potentially read it. Do I just throw caution to the wind and write it anyway? Would people get upset? Would I have to anonymise it somehow?? Ah so many things to think about...

Thoughts anyone? Shall we just got for red hot gossip and sexual perversion?? I know that's what you're all dying for...
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Dresses and photography

I'm rather excited because I heard yesterday that our bridesmaids dresses have now arrived in the UK from China. They are at the factory-owner-lady's house in Swansea, and at some point are either going to be posted to us or to our chief bridesmaid Jennie. I hope they look good, the prototype they made up and sent over looked really nice.

They're a total bargain too, as they've been handmade to order, which presumably would cost quite a lot of money over here. They had to make them based on measurements the girls took themselves, so there's a chance they might need altering, but at least they've arrived five weeks before the event so there is time to sort that out if need be.

I hope that the girls don't end up looking better than we do... Although I suppose we're fortunate it will be less directly comparable than a bride with bridesmaids, and so we haven't needed to sabotage the bridesmaids by sticking them in tartan or whatever. Our hire suits are nice, but obviously not tailor made or anything. We have the upside that our suits don't belong to us, and are insured for accidental damage, so we don't need to worry about random spillages or whatever. If the girls want to keep their dresses for anything else, they're going to have to behave in them!

I'm also quite excited about the new camera I bought at the weekend. It's a point and shoot digital one, not an SLR one or anything, but it's really good and it lets you control loads of the aperture and exposure settings and things. I've been saying for a while that I might like to get "into photography" but that I'd need a better camera to do so. So now I've got one I guess I should start taking some pictures! I might see if I can find a nice book that explains about light and composition and things, and also what the different settings on a camera actually do for you.

I'm not quite sure what it is exactly that I want to photograph in my new-found and possibly short-lived interest in photography, but I expect I'll start off with some interesting macro shots and sunsets and things.

We had a semi-controversial photography competition in the office recently, to choose photos that people had taken to go up on our walls. It very quickly became apparent that people can have quite different opinions on what makes a nice photo, in the same way I suppose as people like different types of art. It did at least give me the chance to see lots of photos taken by other people though, to build up an idea of what I like.

And, for the record and in case it hasn't been made clear enough, no I do not like photos of dead rabbits with glassy staring eyes. I don't have a particular problem with the killing of rabbits if it's necessary to keep numbers down, but I don't think that it makes a nice photo. The same as I wouldn't poison loads of rats and then go around photographing their corpses.

I will try to put some of my photographic efforts up here from time to time. Dead animals are unlikely to feature.
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17 June 2008

5 weeks 3 days til M-Day

I haven't been on here for a while as I've been ill AGAIN. Honestly, it can't be normal for someone to catch viruses quite as often as I do. I was ill at the start of April, a bit ill at the start of May, and now again in the middle of June. It should not be a monthly occurrence! I'm starting to suspect that it's actually the same virus, and I'm never getting rid of it properly. I've read that can happen, it just goes into hibernation somewhere in your body, and then when you get particularly stressed or run down it pops up again. I'm not quite sure what I can do about it either, as doctors can't do a lot for a virus apart from tell you to rest, take paracetamol and drink lots of fluids.

So anyway, I was off for two days last week, afflicted with horrible all-over aching, and a massive gland in my neck that meant I couldn't turn my head or lay on that side. Nice. Thankfully it's gone away now, until next time at least. My current pattern of illness every six weeks is concerning me slightly though, because it means I'll be due again either at the wedding or during the honeymoon. Hmmm... maybe I should eat LOADS of oranges between now and then or something.

My wedding stress about the rooms as been assuaged somewhat, as the nice man at our hotel has said they can have some, if not all, the rooms ready at 1pm for us. Much better. Or at the very least he said they'll have somewhere where people can change, but I'm pinning my hopes on getting a couple of rooms because I'm sure people will want a bathroom etc too.

There are only a few bits and bobs left to do for the wedding now really. People are asking about it lots again, I can't remember what we used to talk about with our friends before we got engaged. The seating plan is all done and made, which is good because it took a while, but annoying if anyone wants to drop out or add guests or whatever. So we're having to be firm and say no more changes - I think that's fair given it's only a few weeks away now. And hopefully the dresses will arrive from the Chinese sweatshop soon. We're seeing the man at the hotel next week to confirm final numbers and pay our invoice, eek! So that'll be several thousand pounds, which is a bit harsh. You wouldn't think it would be so expensive to have dinner and a bit of music and dancing would you?

Mum is stressing out a little more now about how she'll cope with the day. I'm stressing a bit about it too, because I know she's going to find it hard, and her being stressed will just make her feel more ill. She's said she "doesn't want me worrying about her on the day, I'll be busy enough as it is", which is fair enough because I really can't be focusing on her the whole time. But it's going to be a bit hard for me not to... Well anyway, she'll go for a rest after the ceremony, and then she'll probably not stay that long after the dinner either as long as she's being sensible. So then she won't be around for me to worry about anyway, so I'll have no choice. I just hope Dad and Dave do a good job of keeping an eye on her.

Arrgh I still can't believe it's been booked for 18 months and now it's five weeks away!!! Where does the time go?? I'm getting so OLD!! It's been five years since graduation now, that's longer than the whole degree course was, and everyone at Boogaloo these days is practically a child. I'm sure they look at us suspiciously and wonder why such old people are there... I've been going there since they were about 11 years old! Some of them still look about that age actually.

I'm still cool anyway. Sort of. We still go out clubbing, and I don't feel old. Plus I've got loads more money than the 11 year olds, and a nice flat and a car, so I guess I'm doing alright...
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10 June 2008

6 weeks 3 days til M-Day

The wedding is creeping up really fast now, only six and a half weeks to go (M-Day stood for marriage day, by the way, and was also a vague reference to X-Men comics for all you geeks out there).

Things are progressing fairly well I suppose, but I'm still getting more and more stressed about it. And I haven't helped myself by looking on Trip Advisor just now for reviews of the hotel we're having the reception at and where our families are staying. Now, don't get me wrong, I take reviews on that site a little with a pinch of salt, as usually only people who've had a really bad experience care enough to write on it, and everyone else has a perfectly fine time and never writes anything. BUT, there were some very bad reviews to be found, particularly around the noise levels. Which is not unexpected I suppose, given where it is - on the seafront, with one side facing East Street where there are several bars and a club. And I'm sort of hoping that most of us who will be staying there will be going to bed fairly late anyway, so the impact will be fairly minimal.

That will not, however, apply to my mother, who I fully expect to have retired upstairs by 9pm at the latest. So I've asked more than once in an OCD-checking kind of way that they be allocated a quiet room, AWAY from East Street. Which they've said they'll do, to be fair, so I'm hoping it'll be OK. I cannot deal with her having a paddy because she's had no sleep, or even worse saying she doesn't feel well enough to come to the ceremony/reception because of lack of sleep. I'll just be stressing out the whole time.

A further little problem I've just found out about, which I'm a bit afraid to tell Chris because I know his Dad's been asking in a keen sort of way, is that for the guests staying overnight there, you can't check in before 2.30pm. And the ceremony is at 3pm. Why is nothing simple??? Why is it so late?? I know they've got a lot of rooms to clean etc etc but that's going to be really unhelpful, as I was hoping we could get ready at the hotel. Mum and Dad'll be alright as they're arriving the day before, but most are arriving on the day. Oh bollocks, and I've just remembered that we'll have hire suits for our brothers and Dads, so where are they going to get changed? I was thinking "oh they'll just have to get ready before they come to Brighton, drive down and come to the ceremony, and check in later" but they can't if they haven't got their suits! Damn damn damn!

And it's not like six people can get dressed in my parent's room, not with my Mum 'needing to rest', and even our flat is going to be a problem because Chris' cousins are staying there!! Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! OK maybe we should just cancel. Or move the whole wedding to a nice quiet hotel in the country where there's parking and the rooms are available from 12pm. Although then all the non-resident guests have to figure out how to get home so that doesn't work either. How do people ever manage to get married??

Oh god this is going to be well annoying to sort out... And parking's going to be a problem, I can't even think about that at the moment.

Oh fuck it, I don't even want a wedding any more. 
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06 June 2008

Boogaloo at the Arc

Last night was Boogaloo's first time at its new venue, the Arc. I'm not sure why it's moved so soon from Candy Bar, but the Arc is a very cool venue so I'm not complaining. Although actually I WAS complaining last night on the way there - I'm not used to having to walk so far for it! By 'far', I mean 5-10 minutes, but that's far for me for Boogaloo.

Initially I was a bit sceptical about it when I got there, as it was really really empty. They weren't using the whole club (probably for the best) but even the open bits were a rather sparsely populated. Saying that though, it had picked up immensely by 12.30 and was looking quite decently full.

The drinks were ridiculously cheap at £1.50 each, and the music was as good as it always is with Dynamite Sal and Boogaloo Stu on the decks (note to self, download Justice - D-A-N-C-E). As the Arc is in the arches under Kings Road, the brick walls and ceilings gave it back a bit of that basement vibe that suits Boogaloo so well too.

Cabaret was... interesting, as it featured full nudity from the remaining three contestants. They had an iPod AND and iPod Shuffle to give away, so people REALLY upped their game in order to try to win them - I think that could be a bit dangerous during the three months they say they've got them available as prizes. After the usual simulate-a-spit-roast and fake-an-orgasm rounds, Stu naively announced that the winner would be the first one with their pants over their head when the music stopped. Not willing to wait for the music to stop, the girl contestant promptly flung her dress off, danced around with her bra-less bosoms going all over the place, and then whipped her knickers off as well. The two boys were a little slower to react, but clearly really wanted that iPod as well, as they were naked very shortly afterwards, making no attempt to cover their average-sized modesty, while Stu protested in vain that they might get shut down for indecency. The boys weren't bad, could have been better, but I'll take my nudity where I find it. Miss No Bra won anyway, so was rewarded for her uninhibited exhibitionism, and the boys were given the iPod Shuffle to fight over between them.

Next week they'll be having the Pipettes performing live apparently, about which the crowd seemed quite enthusiastic. Should I have heard of them? They sound a bit familiar, but I may just be thinking of the plastic dropper thingies from GCSE Science. I might Google them to see if they're worth the hangover on Friday.

And although I really would like to win an iPod, I'm not at all sure I'm prepared to push it quite as far as those contestants did. Maybe I can get Chris to win one for me...
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05 June 2008

Barack, Hillary and Margaret

It looks like Barack Obama is going to win the Democratic presidential nomination in the US, after a very long and drawn-out battle with Hillary Clinton. I'm not sure if I'm pleased or not, as from the beginning I had favoured Hillary a little over him. I know she is hated by a lot of people (although I'm not really sure why), but he just seems a little young and inexperienced.

I suppose I was comparing Hillary in my mind a little with Margaret Thatcher, who was also widely hated and still is, as they are among the few women to accede to top political positions (or almost accede to them anyway, sorry Hillary). Despite the general venom that is elicited when you mention Margaret Thatcher to anyone, I actually quite admire her strength and what she did for Britain, although often you're vilified if you dare defend her. Yes she crippled the trade unions and closed the coal mines, but I've never cared for trade unions particularly and the closure of the coal mines was a necessary stage in the globalisation of our economy. We are still benefiting from the world class economy we inherited from that era, when we could otherwise have slipped into economic obscurity. I also think it was very clever of her to stockpile loads of coal beforehand, so when the miners went on strike she could just say "fine, you strike, I've got plenty of coal thank you and now I don't have to pay you".

So I wonder if it was that same strength in a woman that makes Hillary so unpopular with some? Qualities that would be admired in a man can be viewed differently in women, and they get perceived as a bitch or a ball-breaker, which is rather unfair. I'd rather have a female leader who can exercise strength and authority when needed than a testosteroney man who's only interested in posturing and looking macho.

It won't matter much anyway, as Hillary is expected to concede on Saturday and we'll be looking at a Barack Obama / John McCain presidential race. John McCain is rather old, and hopefully that'll count against him. I don't want to see another Republican in the White House, George W Bush has been pretty much a global disaster. I just hope that all the campaigning Hillary did to illustrate the failings of Obama won't actually have been leg work for McCain.

A lot will depend on who Obama picks to be his vice-presidential running mate, as that position could help bring some of the supporters that favoured Hillary back. An obvious choice is Hillary herself, but she brings a fair bit of baggage including Bill and there'd be a risk the two of them would get more attention than Obama himself.

And of course, whatever happens, you can't trust the American public to vote in any rational way. They elected George W Bush after all, and conservative religious whites still hold a lot of sway in American politics. And some won't want to vote for a black man, which will skew the polls until results day as people rarely say "yes I'm a racist" when asked about their voting intentions.

Still, at least it looks like the Democratic race is over, and whatever happens in the end we'll still get rid of that chimp from the White House - thank God for a limit on presidential terms!
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03 June 2008

Stockholm baby!

I had a lovely, lovely weekend in Sweden, which felt massively long because we packed so much into it.

We set off on Friday morning after a bit of a false start because Zac had managed to leave all his marathon entry details behind. Once we got up to Stansted, we met up with the others and off we flew to Stockholm Skavsta on the yellow-highlighted monstrosity that is Ryanair. Although yes they are cheap as an airline, they really do shaft you on all the extras as much as possible, including charging you if you check in at the airport instead of online, and if you dare try to take more than hand luggage. They also charge you for PAYING for your flight, by adding a charge for every method of payment available, which I think is ridiculous, there is no free way of paying. How can you fly with them without paying?? Fortunately all of our lot had been very good and crammed everything into one bag each, so we were relatively charge-free on that side at least.

In typical Ryanair style, the Stockholm airport they fly to is actually 90 miles from the city is really just a couple of buildings with a plane parked next to them. So once there we had to get a (very efficient) airport coach to Stockholm for an hour and a half. It was SO hot there, it must have been more than 70 degress when we arrived, so the coach was not all that pleasant really. And then once we finally arrived at the bus terminal, we were picked up by Rob and one of Emma's sisters, and had another half hour car journey, so all in all it must have taken about nine hours to reach our final destination!

We spent Friday night at a very nice hostel near Emma's parents' house, and then on Saturday we set off into town shortly after the boys who were running (Zac, Simon and Rob) in order to take up position to cheer them on. Stockholm is a lovely city I have to say, very clean and really quite quiet for a capital city. There's water everywhere, lakes and rivers and things, because it's built on a set of islands, and the buildings are very pretty.

I know it sounds a bit rubbish compared to the boys who actually ran a marathon, but spectating all day was actually very tiring. It was boiling hot all day, and you couldn't just 'watch' the runners: you had to scan constantly every face that went past in order to have any chance of spotting the people we were meant to be cheering for, which meant you had to be alert and poised with your camera at all times. It was really quite difficult to identify three people among 18,000 runners all wearing identical caps!

We flitted around between four different points in order to get ahead of them each time and cheer them on some more, which meant quite a lot of walking around the city. That was nice in a way because we got to see a fair bit of it, although I'm not sure how Emma managed it all while also looking after baby Elliot (who was very good, considering he's a baby and it was a hot and long day).

The boys all did really well, and all managed to finish the marathon. Zac came first and took about 4 hours 19 minutes, then Simon with 4 hours 25, and then Rob in 5 hours 20 minutes or so. He had the hardest time of it, having done less training than the others, so everyone was very proud (and relieved) when he finished it in time and in one piece, and actually still looked remarkably well!

Here's a nice picture of Zac running:

After the marathon we went to Rob and Emma's house in Katrineholm, about two hours from Stockholm. It really is in the middle of the countryside and they've got masses of land around their house, and it was all very picturesque and sunny and quiet.

Sunday, our last day, was lovely as we went and saw a pretty lake, then had a barbecue lunch, then went to another lake and had a nice outdoor swim and sunbathed on a jetty. Then it was back to Skavsta, back on the Ryanair cattle train after cramming some food down us and running through passport control, and then a late-night drive back home that got us back about 1am. I was more tired than I realised when I finally parked, so it's lucky the roads were quiet and we had a safe journey.

I thoroughly recommend Stockholm and would definitely go back. We're going to Rob and Emma's wedding in August, which is on the coast, so we'll be seeing some more of Sweden then anyway. Everyone seemed to speak perfect English, which made the Swedish I'd learnt a bit redundant, but never mind.

And while I enjoyed meeting baby Elliot, and felt ever so paternal when I held him and bobbed him up and down, it made me realise that I'm so not ready for children yet. Babies are SO much work, you have to devote all your energy and time to them, and I like my life as it is a bit too much for that at the moment. Maybe in 5-10 years I'll feel differently, I think for now I'd be quite happy being a favourite uncle.
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