One man's struggle to come to terms with leaving Wigan.

fredag, september 14

So... no baby yet. If it's not here by Wednesday they're going to get the jump leads out I think. Isobel was induced, too - she came out at a whopping 4.2kg.

Talking of Isobel, she's starting a dance class next week. Here in France nothing is simple, though. So when we signed her up for the year we didn't just hand over a cheque: we had to show her certificate of accident insurance (nobody likes insurance the way the French like insurance) and, best of all, a certificate from her doctor to say that she's fit to partake in the activity.

Once you realise that all this is aimed at keeping people in jobs, it's all completely understandable, though - and it's how France works.

There's a chain of electrical goods shops here called Darty, which is I think the same group as Comet in the UK. Shopping there is like shopping in the Soviet Union, only with plasma tellies instead of pairs of right-footed boots. You get an assistant (eventually) who explains the product to you, then when you've decided to buy he'll sit you down and give you a chit, which you take to the window in front of the stock room. There a bunch of disinterested men are sitting talking about some girl one of them would liek to think he copped a feel of last night. Eventually one of them will take your chit and look at it as if it were something he found on the bottom of his shoe, and shuffle off into the stockroom.

Whole geological ages will pass, and eventually the guy returns with something that's almost, but not quite what you wanted. You'll point out that the combination waffle-iron and hair straightener he's offering you isn't in fact the washing machine you ordered, he'll sigh and then you're back where you started. This may happen two or three times.

And then you're ready to pay.

onsdag, september 12

So... what's been happening with me?

Well, I'm still in Paris, and still in the same job (which is a bit of a record for me). I've moved out to the 'burbs though and bought an apartment in a nice leafy suburb. It's good to be out of the city and away from the tramps, the trannies and the dogshit. We used to live in an area that was cosmopolitan to say the least - so it'll be good not to be woken up by people of some nationality or other celebrating their country's latest win in the football, the cricket or a small war every few nights, too.

My lovely daughter (who is seen below celebrating her third birthday) is now five and a half and just starting her thrid year at school. She's at an International school now which means she has three days a week in French and a day a week in English, which she loves. She was saying to me the other day that she wishes all her lessons were in English. It's a bit hard to explain to a five year old that they'll be very glad they can speak two languages one day. We did, however, have a bit more success telling her that she could learn another language when she's older. Thanks to Dora the Explorer, Spanish is the current favourite.

We've got another baby on the way, too. Imminiently, in fact. It's a little boy this time, and I'm currently never more than a metre away from my mobile phone in case he comes. Actually he'd better get the timing right: if he decides to arrive in the morning the traffic between our place and the hospital's so bad that I can imagine him being born in the underpass beneath La Défense on the back seat of a Ford Fiesta. Which isn't really the ideal start in life.

Crikey, it's been a long time. June 9th 2006 was the last time I posted here, so I thought I'd bring myself up to date a bit.

Wigan Express started as a blog about six years ago now, right when having a blog was quite a hip thing to do (I notice while I'm writing this that the word 'blog' isn't recognised by the Firefox British English spellchecker). But I gave up when blogging was the big thing. To be honest I don't think blogs can change the world, and I do think that people like the BBC slavishly making a point of linking to what some blogger is saying about the latest technology or whatever is cringeworthy - it's a bit like your Dad discussing the latest Slipknot album.

That's not to say that blogs don't have their place - it's great to read about what someone like Steve Jobs does all day (although the fact I have no idea whether Steve Jobs has a blog or not rather shows that I don't really think it's that great). But people who fancy themselves as journalists and think that blogs are the next big thing in journalism? Forget it. If you were a decent journalist you'd be writing for a decent journal and getting paid for it.

So what are blogs for? Well I don't know. But I can tell you what Wigan Express is for. It's for me to talk bollocks.

torsdag, juni 9

Things I am old enough to remember.
Number One - TV

1. Three channels
2. No TV in the daytime apart from Pebble bloody Mill. I knew it was crap when I was four.
3. The test card
4. Waiting for the set to warm up
5. No remote controls
6. Programmes in black and white
7. Announcements like 'John Inman is apprearing in Aladdin at the Octogon theatre, Bolton'
8. Actors reading the news
9. Ken and Deirdre getting married first time round
10. The Black and White Minstrel Show.

onsdag, juni 8

This is my new nephew, Alex. Posted by Hello

tisdag, juni 7

But an even more exciting thing happened on Monday, when I became an uncle for the first time. Alex James Steed was born at 11.35 in England, weighing in at a healthy 4kg. Everyone is well, but tired.

Interesting day on Sunday, when we took a trip to the Champs Elysées for a look at the Champs Olympiques, which they did for the Paris 2012 Olympic bid.

Basically, what they'd done was transform the whole avenue, from the Place de l'étoile down to below the Rond-Point, into an exhibition of all the Olympic Sports. the most spectacular thing was the running track they'd laid from Avene George V up to the Arc de Triomphe, but everything else was cool, too. There were boxing rings, football pitches, an equestrian ring - even a lake with fans for the yachts.

We took Isobel along, thinking she might be a little overwhelmed by it all, but she had a whale of a time wandering along (strictly speaking I was wandering and she was on my shoulders) looking at what was happenign. I think she liked the fencing and the hockey best, apart from the ponies.

The French have a certain flair for these things, and there's no doubt it looked fantastic on the TV. Seems they're pretty much favourites to land the games, too - with London the only real competition now.

fredag, maj 13

You wait ages for a post, then three come along at once.

It seems Wigan is going to get its own version of Monopoly after it saw off (what must have been tough) competition from Bolton and Preston.

Needless to say, we shall be buying our copy. After all, it'll teach Isobel both how to play Monopoly AND about the geography of the NorthWest's most depressing town. Actually thinking about it, that's probably Leigh - but you know what I mean.

All those people wandering around Manchester carrying 'MUFC NOT FOR SALE' banners haven't quite grasped the idea of a public company, have they?

Well, it went for £67. I did quite well, actually. Two more have been up for sale, and the most either of them has gone for was £40. Wahey!

You have to be careful with eBay though - it can take over your life.

In other news, my nephew is imminent but not yet here.

tisdag, maj 3

Two days and three hours to go, and the mystery package is up to £31. I have a feeling it may go through the roof...