Down and out in Walthamstow by Roy

The things I know now that I’m a dad

She’s here! Oh the joy! The nine months of patiently waiting; the thumb-twiddling; the trying to appear nonchalant while feeling secretly horrified at the sight of instruments of torture (i.e. Milk Express Machines); the tireless telling of the same stories - how long its been since the wedding, how old I am, how I must be the most fertile mid-30s male in London (surely that’s true!).

[advert:mpu] Yep, it’s finally happened.

Roll out the bunting, let Aston Villa win the league, let Tony Blair name the date. “IT” is finally here. “IT” is a she and her name is Gracie and she’s mine. Mine! All Mine! (well, “Ours” apparently… but MINE!)

After the dust has settled, it doesn’t take long (and maybe it’s just me), for changes to creep into the lifestyle. Okay, so I’ve settled down now that Gracie’s been with us for a few weeks… but the paranoia has started. I can see her eyeing up the bathroom from her prime position in the cot. She’s calculating her chances and sending me a message loud and clear: “It’s a three-hour soak for me, Pal… you’ll be lucky to get in there before Christmas!”

Crikey, just 21 days old and she’s working through all the angles.

Already, I can tell she’s weighing up the masculine décor and plotting pre-emptive Laura Ashley style guerrilla attacks. It doesn’t stop there… she’s flicking out those little pinkies for the TV remote; perking up her ears while daddy is surfing the channels. I get the feeling The Barbie Channel, reruns of Lindsay Lohan Movies, MTV and VHL are becoming ‘No Go’ areas. Yep, I can see small furrows developing above each eyebrow. They’re arching into an angry ‘V’ shape and she’s emitting a low pitched feral growl as I alight momentarily on Barca v Valencia. Frankly, it’s quite disconcerting in one so young. Walthamstow, we may have a problem

Friends appear randomly to scoff and commiserate. They don’t hesitate to point out my sudden lack of ‘going out’ opportunities. “Nah, things wont change,” I weakly protest... but even as I say the words I’m pumping up the tyres on my 4x4 urban baby buggy and cradling some muslin which some projectile substance has conspired to miss completely (do babies do that on purpose?). This icky stuff doesn’t appear to be on friendly terms with my Abercrombie and Fitch white T-shirt. Sure, the shirt’s two years old and looks a couple of shades off grimy but it had plenty of wear left in it.

I silently howl, while committing yet another part of my BK (“Before Kid”) life to the ‘Dark Place under the Sink’. This is where once-proud clobber goes to permanently retire after being ‘Gracied’.

Fatherhood. It’s a rum do!

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