Day 335 - The Inconvenient Tooth

AKA - The Dentist's Chair

I’m sitting in a dentist chair in the heart of Budapest.  A dentist with a thick Hungarian accent, who looks uncannily like the insane, evil surgeon from The Human Centipede is just about to drop a bombshell on me.

“Dead.  It is dead.” he says nonchalantly.

“Are you sure?” I respond.

“Yes.  Your tooth is dead.  Pretty sure, I am.”

I didn't even realise it was ill.

I'm taken aback by his matter of fact tone.  He sounds like a heartless, Eastern European Yoda!  Where the devil is his bedside manner?  Does he not realise how close my tooth and I were?  He was one of my favourites!  Undoubtedly in my top thirty two!    We’ve spent nearly thirty five years together since he first tore his way through my infantile, gummy mouth.  We’ve shared so many good times, so many meals out together.  So many gastronomic adventures!  He was there when I first kissed my wife!  Right in the thick of it, the pervy little bastard!  Am I just meant to let him go?  Just like that? 

Hang on a minute.  He said “pretty sure”.  Maybe he’s wrong.  Maybe he has been wrongly pronounced dead, just like Tom Hanks in the film Castaway?

“Only pretty sure?” I ask.

At this, the dentist picks up the liquid nitrogen drenched piece of cotton wool that he was only moments earlier applying to my sadly deceased tooth with tweezers, and presses it against one of my other teeth.

“Aaaaaarrrrggghh!” I respond.  The pain is excruciating!    

“If still living it was, the same pain you would have felt.”

Fuck you Yoda!

“So what now?” I ask nervously.

“Now holes I will drill in to the tooth, treat the root with tiny needles and then next week we will meet for a new tooth.”

He wanders off and returns a few seconds later holding a drill.  He holds the drill ominously, leans over me and peers at me over the top of his glasses.  He smiles.

“Now, I will drill you.  If pain you will feel, raise your hand.”

Fear is rising.  What if this is all a horrible mistake?  What if my tooth isn’t completely dead?  What if it's just in a coma?  What if it wakes up just as this animal is about to drill in to its living nerve?

The dentist thinks for a moment.

“Although to be fair, you won’t actually need to raise your arm if you feel pain.  Scream you will!  Agony it will be!”

Wonderful stuff.

I hear the whirr of the drill and I am afraid.

The drill connects with my tooth and the process begins. 

“There is a film.  An old film.   A film with Dustin Hoffman.” The dentist says over the excruciating sound of the drill boring in to my poor tooth.  “The name,  I don’t remember.  But there is tooth drilling with no pain killer.  Excellent way to get information!”


The drilling stops. 

“Using a series of tiny needles I will now treat your tooth.” he proudly claims.

I decide that I need to climb in to my ‘mind-bungalow’, which is very similar to Sherlock Holmes' ‘mind-palace’, but more homely and without so many levels.  I clamber in and begin to write a short script in my head.  It’s a about a police officer named Tim who’s on a raid with his partner, Steve Guttenberg (‘star’ of Police Academy, Cocoon and Three Men and a Baby).  In this script Steve Guttenberg is playing himself.  They're chatting in a police car about the breakdown of Tim’s marriage.  Then they're entering a drug den in an attempt to apprehend drug lords.  A shoot out ensues and the baddies are shot.  Suddenly other police officers arrive and arrest Tim and Steve.  We discover that Steve Guttenberg is imaginary, the shot people aren’t drug lords and that Tim is simply a civilian having a mental episode following his divorce.  Tim gets sent to prison, but he doesn’t mind, because as luck would have it, he’s put in the same room as his dear friend and hero, Steve Guttenberg.

The dentist puts his tiny needles away.  He’s finished.  I’m thinking about my script idea and wondering if he’s sneakily slipped me any psychedelic drugs.

“Next week, same time?” he asks.

I nod sadly and head home to organise a memorial for my beloved tooth (RIP).  I will give him the sea (aka wine) burial he always dreamt of.

Day 325 - Caractacus Hutchins

AKA - The Latter Day Jesus

I’m trying in vain to put a nappy on my baby’s naked little arse, when I’m hit by a moment of inspiration.  I am suddenly Archimedes sitting in a bath.  I am Sir Isaac Newton rubbing his sore head after being hit with an apple.  I am Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense when his wife’s wedding ring falls to the ground.


Why does this not already exist?  Think about it.  How easier would your life be if you had a simple machine that you could dip a baby in whenever they needed a fresh nappy?  Something like a vacuum packing machine that specializes in baby butts.  Dip them in, placing their legs in stirrups and voila!  Obviously you'd need a baby to feel its full benefit, but still.

People may scoff.  People may laugh.  People may mock.  People no doubt scoffed at Archimedes when he revealed his meat and two veg to the other people sitting in a public bath and shouted “Eureka!”.  But look at him now!  Okay, he’s probably a bit on the boney side, but you remember him don’t you?  People will remember me in the same way.  I will be lauded and held up as a bloody hero to millions of shit covered parents while they are dipping their baby in their very own Hutchins machine (obviously it should be named after its creator to cement my legacy).  Maybe I could even create a premium one with three different compartments.  One to clean, one to cream and one to apply the nappy.  Similar to the process of making scotch eggs (where you dip your meaty egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs)!

Later that day I meet up with Zsuzsa in the throbbing heart of Pest.  She has Mila strapped to her and she's sleepy.  So sleepy in fact, that later this evening she will give Mila a bath and forget to remove her socks.

“What do you think honey?” I ask.

“About what?” she replies.

“Getting my nappy changing machine patented?”


But there’s no conviction in her voice.  No passion.  I can see right through her and she’s not enthused by my nappy changing idea!  I'm perplexed.  Does she not recognize real genius when it’s smack-bang in front of her!?  Does she not see me in my true guise?  The modern day incarnation of Caractacus Potts?   Does she not remember that this is the same man who once put a shelf up in our old flat, and only ruined half of the wall in the process?  Where’s the confidence?

I’m disappointed.  I thought she’d be all over this shit, chomping at the bit to get her hands on such a machine.  After all, trying to dress Mila now is akin to putting a bow-tie on an eel.  She’s a slippery little pickle who refuses to stay still and cooperate.  I never realized how easy the whole nappy changing process was until our little cub decided it about time to get mobile and start moving around all over the place. 

I sigh, but then I look at my beautiful, sleep deprived wife and I soften.  I can’t be too harsh on her.  She hasn’t slept since August!  Anyway, I remember that she had a similar, initial response to my design to combine a baby’s bottle with a hamster style feeder, to go on the side of the cot.  Four thousand night-time trips to the cot to offer her nipple to a screaming baby later however, and her tune has significantly changed.

“Will you hurry up and make that bloody hamster-technology inspired baby feeder!” she now says, whilst nursing her savaged nipples.

No, she’ll come around.  She will be my partner in crime and my biggest supporter.  In fact, maybe I’ll name it in her honour to show my gratitude to her for being my muse and for all those sleepless nights.  As a selfless act I may even forget my initial plan to call it The Hutchins Machine.  I’ll be like Jesus, who I hear also refused to give his name to a nappy changing machine.

In years to come, baby’s arses all over the word will be covered by…The Zsuzsa.  The poor lamb’s earned it.

Coming to  shop near you, this Christmas

Coming to  shop near you, this Christmas

Day 311 - The Yuppie

AKA - Cello!  Is it Me You're Looking For?

Warming up for cello practice

Warming up for cello practice

We are running dangerously low on Nespresso capsules.  As I’m sure you can imagine, as a result, the mood at home is extraordinarily sombre.

“What are we going to do?” asks Zsuzsa, fighting back the tears.

I’m trying not to panic although this is obviously a very stressful time.  A brainwave hits me.

“Why don’t I buy some more tomorrow?  I can pop to the Nespresso shop on Andrássy Avenue after work?”

At this suggestion, I can visibly see hope returning to Zsuzsa’s face.  She doesn’t say it, but I know what she’s thinking.

“Bloody hero!  Bring me those capsules and I will ravish your body!”

It’s now tomorrow.  I've encountered a slight obstacle to my plans as I’d forgotten that I’d planned to meet a friend named Rupert at Brody Studios, the private members club that I’m a member of.  There’s a story telling evening on and we’d agreed to meet straight after work, leaving little time for coffee shopping.  But then I remember Zsuzsa’s haunted, Nespresso deprived face, and despite the tight schedule, I decide that I’ve enough time to squeeze in a trip to the Nespresso store before heading to Brody Studios.

I’m outside the Nespresso store when my phone buzzes.  It’s a message from Rupert.

“Where the devil are you?” it reads.

“Just picking up some Nespresso capsules.” I reply.

A few seconds later and I get a response.

“Bloody yuppie!”

I stare at my phone screen.  Yuppie!?  What’s so yuppie about Nespresso capsules?  They’re just tiny pods of coffee granule heaven!  That’s all!  Nothing more!  Yuppie!?  How dare he!  I haven’t been this outraged since the time that Pret a Manger ran out of pomegranate and hibiscus infused water!  I take a deep breath and enter the coffee store.

A few minutes later and it’s my turn at the counter.  A man named Tamás with a gold badge on his jacket that reads “Boutique Coffee Specialist” takes my caffeine filled order.  As he does so I’m staring at his badge, wondering why ‘boutique’?  Is the shop supposed to be ‘boutique’?  I look around, but the place is anything, but small.  Or maybe it’s Tamás that’s ‘boutique’?  Are they poking fun at this poor lamb's diminutive stature?  The cruel bastards!  

I’m now at Brody Studios, clutching my Nespresso bag.  Rupert glares at it.

“Bloody yuppie!” he sneers.

I decide to ignore, for the time and being, the fact that I’m being called a ‘yuppie’ by a man named Rupert, although I do make a note of it in my filofax.  A waiter comes over and takes our order.  In the background the story telling has begun.  A Ukrainian war photographer has just taken to the stage and is telling a story about having to take a shit on the frontline during enemy fire.

“Did you know Jennifer Lawrence has become a regular here?” says Rupert.

“At Brody Studios?” I respond.

“Yeah.  In town shooting some film called Red Sparrow apparently.”


The Ukrainian man has finished telling his story.  An American girl has now taken to the stage and is telling a story about stuffing a dead dog in to a suitcase.  To be fair though, I’m not really paying too much attention as I’m too busy scanning the room for Jennifer Lawrence.  She may not know it, but she's being hunted.  It's like The Hunger Games all over again.

My phone buzzes.  It’s a message from my boutique wife.

“Did you get the Nespresso capsules?” she asks.

“Yes baby.” I respond.

“Who’s that?” asks Rupert.

“Zsuzsa, asking if I picked up the Nespresso capsules.”

Rupert shakes his head.


“Bunch of yuppies!” he says.

There he goes again!!  

“I’m not a yuppie!” I protest,  before adding “I grew up in deepest, darkest Wales!  I went to a comprehensive, and...”  But then I’m stopped in my tracks as my phone buzzes.  It’s my boutique wife again.

“Don’t be too late honey.  Remember that Mila has her first cello lesson tomorrow morning.”

Then it hits me.  A moment of clarity.  I’m a man sitting in a private members club, frequented by Jennifer Lawrence, quaffing continental lager and wine with a friend named Rupert. I also shop at a boutique coffee shop and my nearly nine month old baby is taking cello lessons.

“And what?” asks Rupert.

“Oh, nothing.” I say, as we watch a German man tell a story about how how he responded to a midlife crisis by opening a trampoline park.

Day 243 - Dr Body

AKA Head, shoulders, knees and toes...and anus

I’m at a doctor’s surgery due to a renegade toenail, and the lady behind reception has just asked me for my mother’s name.  I'm a bit flummoxed.

“My mother’s name?” I ask.

“Yes please.” she replies.

“But I'm forty!”

“It’s for security purposes.” she says matter of factly.



I’m still confused.  I didn’t realise that my mother was such a big deal in Budapest.  Although saying that maybe I should have twigged a few months back when my brother came over to visit.  We went to the Sziget Music Festival and the people on the door wouldn’t let him in until he’d dropped my mother’s name.  I thought it was a bit strange at the time, but now it all makes sense.  My mother is obviously a big name in Budapest.  Her name opens doors.  All this time, I never knew.

I take a seat and wait.  A few minutes pass.



“Girit Hootkinsh!”

I turn around to see who this Girit fella is.  Poor guy!  He sounds like something that men in fluorescent jackets put on roads after heavy snow.  A few seconds go by and nobody stands up.  Slowly it begins to dawn on me that the receptionist is talking to me.  I am the mysterious Girit.  I am snowy road's worst nightmare.

“Uh, yes?” I say.

“Dr Body will see you now.” replies the receptionist.

Dr Body!  This is now my second favourite doctor’s name after Dr Pop, the doctor who my wife often saw while she was pregnant.  I’m now intrigued as to what will greet me behind Dr Body’s door.  Will it be a spandex clad aerobics instructor from 1980’s British breakfast television?  Will it be a new villain from the Spider-Man universe?  Will it be Elle McPherson, having recently graduated from Hungarian medical school?  

I open the door and feast my eyes upon Dr Body.  Somewhat disappointedly there’s no spandex, no super-villain and no antipodean super-model.  He’s just an unassuming grey-haired Hungarian chap.  He fixes me with a kindly gaze.

“Halo.” he says.

“Halo.” I reply.

“Angol?” (English) he asks.

“Yes!” I reply excitedly, relieved that I’m not going to have to put my Hungarian medical language knowledge to the test.

He beckons me to take a seat.  I comply.

“What is problem?” he asks.

“My toe.” I say.  “I think I have an in-growing toenail.”

He motions for me to remove my shoe and sock and I do.  I mean, why wouldn’t I?  This is Dr Body!  THE Dr Body!  When Dr Body asks you to do something, you bloody well go and do it!

He studies my toe for a while, strokes his chin and then delivers his expert verdict.

"I think I am going to have to remove some of your knee.” he says.

This is unexpected news.

“My knee?” I say, a little confused and also a tad concerned.

“Yes.  Your knee.  Just a little.”

This has come as quite a shock.  I didn’t even realise anything was wrong with my knee.  I’m also beginning to question this man’s medical credentials.  Maybe he's like one of those reflexologist people who think they can fix a sore throat by rubbing your little toe a bit.  I decide to interrogate him.

“Are you a toe specialist?” I ask, in full David Frost mode.

“Toe specialist?” he replies.  “No, no, no.  Not toe specialist.”

Hmmm.  Zsuzsa told me I was seeing a toe specialist.

“No.  My specialism is the anus!”

Wait.  What?

“I go in the anus.  My speciality is this.  Anus specialist!” he says, a worrying twang of delight in his delivery.


He beckons me to lie down.  I do it because he is Dr Body, although I'm now a lot less enthusiastic in following his orders than I was a few moments ago.  After all, I don’t know what part of me is in the firing line.  My toe? My knee? Maybe my beloved anus?  I’m on edge, my eyes frantic as Dr Body pulls out a sharp instrument.  I want my mother here with me.  As a known face around Budapest she would ensure that no harm came to any of my parts.  Dr Body spots my worry and he tries to relax me.

“Okay.” he says.  “I will just remove a little knee.  No problem.  Very little pain.”

Nope.  Still worried, although also relieved that my anus doesn’t appear to be on the menu.

I’m like a frightened rabbit as Dr Body, as quick as a flash, grabs my foot, sprays freezing spray on my toe and cuts a piece of my toenail off.  He shows me the bit of severed toenail.

“See.  Just a little bit of knee.”

I put my sock and shoe back on, covering up five of my ten tiny knees in the process, leave the surgery and hobble home to ask my beloved wife why she felt the need to send me to see an anus specialist.

Day 222 - The Shit Storm

"Run for your lives!  There's a shit cloud coming!"

My little ladies.  One slightly shittier than the other.

My little ladies.  One slightly shittier than the other.

Mila, if you’re reading this from the future, I apologise.  Perhaps someone has dredged this up on your wedding day and decided to embarrass you.  Perhaps that someone is me!  To be fair it does sound like something I would do, and in that case I apologise again, but this week you’ve had diarrhoea.  A lot of diarrhoea.  Basically our week has been a huge tsunami of baby shit from start to finish and it all came out of your little baby butt.

It started just before we went away for a few days.  I’m not at home, but I get a WhatsApp message rom Zsuzsa…

“She just had a Niagara Falls of poo!”

I put two and two together and decide that Zsuzsa’s talking about Mila, not her mother who she’d been speaking to earlier.

We’d planned to go away for a few days to visit the in-laws, and despite our worry that this is just the beginning of a vicious assault on our senses, we decide to stick to our plans.

Feeling very sorry for herself

Feeling very sorry for herself

A few shit filled days later and we return home.  It hits us instantly.  A wall of stench.

“What the hell is that smell!?” asks Zsuzsa.

“Smells like someones shat in our radiators!” I gasp.

“There must be a rogue shitty nappy somewhere in the flat.” Zsuzsa deduces.

And so we set to work.  We search every nook and cranny of the flat.  I’m surprised as I previously didn’t realise how many nooks that our flat had.  I've often suspected that our flat had more than its fair share of crannies, but not so many nooks.  We search for about half an hour, find nothing, and eventually give up.  We are beginning to accept that we will always live in a bog of eternal stench, but we’re hoping that eventually, we will become accustomed to the smell.  Dinner parties might be a hard sell though.

The next day, I escape from our cloud of shit particles and head to the office.  A few hours later and I get another WhatsApp message from Zsuzsa…

“Her little bum is red and sore and her tummy is still upset.  I’m using a camomile tea infused Muslim to wipe her butt.”

I’m guessing the Muslim is probably equally as upset as Mila’s tummy is, perhaps even more so.  Zsuzsa will later accuse autocorrect, saying that she meant muslin (cloth), but I have my doubts.  I’m blaming Donald Trump.

It’s now Friday.  We eventually found the rogue nappy (hiding in the bathroom bin).  Mila is supposed to have a swimming lesson and to be fair her shit festival appears to be coming to an end, but just to be safe we decide to give swimming a miss.  Instead, like some kind of wild, rock n’ roll rebel, I’ve decided to pop Mila into her buggy and visit the local shopping centre to buy a pepper grinder.

Feeling like Iggy Pop I'm now in a kitchen utensil shop looking for pepper grinders, but something catches my eye.  It’s a massive glass piggy bank.  I instantly decide that this is what is missing from my life.  This is the item to complete our joyous existence.  I pick the piggy bank up, pop it under my arm and head towards the counter.  Being the conscientious Dad that I am, I look in the buggy to check on our little shitty cub.  A glassy eyed, motionless baby face stares back at me.  I look closer.  Still no movement.  My heart begins to pound.  I wave my free hand back and forth, millimetres from her face.  Nothing.  

“Oh my God!  Mila!”

I’m panicking.   With my free hand I slap her chubby little baby cheeks a few times.  Mila turns and looks at me, a look of shock on her face.  She had for some reason unbeknownst to me, decided to fall asleep with her eyes wide open.  I was gentle with my slapping, but her expression tells me that this was not how she wanted to be roused from her slumber.    

Mila and a pig shaped witness

Mila and a pig shaped witness

So, if you happened to be in a kitchen utensil shop in Budapest on Friday morning and saw a man, holding a massive piggy bank with one hand, whilst frantically slapping a baby with his other, that was me.

And Mila, I apologise again, this time for waking you up by slapping your little baby face, but now it’s time for you to apologise.  You need to apologise for sending me in to a blind panic by sleeping with your goddamn eyes open in a kitchen utensil shop in Budapest on January 27th, 2017!  Who the hell does that!? 

Happy wedding day by the way.  Enjoy the rest of 2046.

Day 144 - Déjà Pooh

Déjà Pooh

This little face hasn't been this worried since her last bath-time.

This little face hasn't been this worried since her last bath-time.

“Honey!  Can you please stop watching the election!?  Mila keeps looking at the light on your phone and won’t go to sleep!” Zsuzsa whispers loudly.

“But it’s the American election!  A historic moment!  I just want to watch it until some of the results come in so that I can sleep soundly knowing that The Donald isn’t going to win.”

I’m actually watching an iguana fight a gang of snakes on YouTube.

“Okay, but at least go under the covers or something so that Mila can’t see the light.”

Under the covers I go.  Things are not looking good for the iguana.

I have been watching the election.  The reptilian battle royale was just a brief respite from the political, potential catastrophe.  For the last couple of days I’ve had a horrible feeling that the orange, leather faced, sex pesty one was going to clinch it.  The polls and the bookies all suggested that Hilary was going to reign victorious, but we’ve been here before haven't we?  My impending doom sensors had been tingling.  Less than five months ago I lay in the same bed in our Budapest flat, heavily pregnant wife beside me and watched in horror as my home country slowly committed hari kari and voted to leave the EU.  Now, I’m lying here again, twenty percent poorer due to the bastardly Brexit, wife and three month old baby by my side, worrying about the state of the world in which little Mila will blossom.

"Run you crazy little iguana!  Run as fast as your scaly little legs will carry you!  You must escape the clutches of these slithery beasts!"

It’s been a funny day full of anniversaries and achievements.  It’s exactly a year ago since my first book, Ferocious Dennis was published, and also exactly a year ago since Mila became more than just a twinkle in her mother’s eye.  I’ve also started a new job at a funky media agency in the beating heart of Pest.  I should be happy and proud, but there is an ominous orange shadow hanging over me, breathing it’s foreboding breath upon the nape of my neck.

Project Mila's year anniversary

Project Mila's year anniversary

A few minutes later and I’m still under the covers clutching my phone.  Things are not looking good.  The iguana is hopelessly outnumbered as the dastardly snakes attack!  As well as that, the first results from the first few states have trickled through.  Trump is leading 19 to 3.  I quickly check The New York Times forecaster.  They are still predicting a Clinton victory with an 82% likelihood.  Good odds, but I’m still uneasy.  Maybe it’s the sense of déjà vu engulfing me.

“Honey!  Mila can still see the light through the duvet!  Please!  I need to get to sleep and you’ve got work in the morning.”

“Okay, okay.”

“How’s it looking?”

“Well Trump is ahead, but the forecasts are still predicting a Clinton win.  Maybe he was always predicted to win these states.”

I don’t know who I’m trying to convince.  Zsuzsa or myself.  If it’s myself I’m doing a lousy job.

I watch the iguana make a miraculous escape, decide enough is enough, put my phone down and try to go to sleep.  It takes a while, but I eventually drift off.  I dream that I am in Wales.  I’m in my recently deceased Grandma’s house.  Donald Trump is sitting in her chair.  He’s wearing an ill-fitting t-shirt with a Welsh flag design.  He’s just sitting there, staring at me with his stupid face and silly hair flapping about.  A snake slithers passed.  I hear a baby cooing and I’m yanked from my dreamland.  It’s Mila.  She’s decided that as it’s 0600 it’s time to wake up.  I reach for my phone, check the news.  Bum.  This is like Steve Brookstein winning The X-Factor all over again, but much, much worse. 

A few hours later and I’m in the office for my second day at work.  I’m sitting on the toilet reading the outpouring of woe on social media.  I reach for the toilet paper.  Holy mother of God!  There isn’t any!  Armageddon has already begun!  I sit there panicking for a few moments trying to work out what to do?  What would Batman do if he was stuck on a toilet, on his second day at a new workplace?  I decide that he'd probably keep some spare toilet paper in his utility belt, the uber prepared rubber suited prick!  Well screw you and your utility belt Batman!  I'm going to do this my way!  So, absolutely terrified, I stealthily make my way across the toilet room floor, shuffling like a penguin with my trousers around my ankles.  I successfully complete my mission.  I will be clean!  I will not have an unspeakable second day at work that will haunt me forever!

Back at my desk I ponder the events of the last twenty four hours or so.  Things are looking decidedly bleak, but then I remember our friend the iguana.  Things didn’t look great for the iguana, but did he give up?  Did he fuck!

Maybe that's the answer!  Maybe we should all be more iguana.  Either way, I'm sure things will be alright in the end.

They will won't they?

The most thrilling action sequence of all time?

Day 140 - Hallelujah!


Available in all good record stores this Christmas

Available in all good record stores this Christmas

“My mother wants to ask you something.” says Zsuzsa

“Really?  What does she want to ask me?” I reply.

“Well,  she was wondering if you’d mind singing Hallelujah at this year’s Christmas Advent gathering.”


“I mean you wouldn’t be singing alone, you’d have lots of children as backing singers.”


“It would be to the entire village.”


“Honey, are you alright?  You’ve gone a bit pale.”


Several minutes pass.

“I’m sorry.  What?” I eventually respond.

“Sing Hallelujah to the entire village backed up by a bunch of children.”

At this point I’d like to mention that I am not a professional singer.  I’m not even an amateur singer.  I vaguely remember once singing a karaoke rendition of a 5ive song at University after drinking several Aftershocks, but that was the current highlight of my singing career.

Wait a Goddamn second!  What the devil ever happened to Aftershock (the potent, cinnamon flavoured, highly alcoholic spirit)?  Is it hanging out in a retirement home somewhere with Mighty White Bread and Blockbuster Video?

“But…why me?” I say, utterly befuddled.

“Mum thinks it would be nice to have someone sing in a different language to Hungarian, plus she’s heard you singing in the shower and thinks you have a nice voice."

I ponder this for a moment.  Maybe I shouldn’t simply dismiss this in a blink of an eye.  Maybe this is what life is all about?  Maybe it’s all about challenging yourself, living life and pushing the boundaries?  Maybe it’s all about singing to the entire inhabitants of a remote Hungarian village whilst supported by a bunch of children.  Hang on!  Heard me singing in the shower!  Surely all shower’s are soundproof!?

“Why don't you find the song on YouTube and sing along to it?” Zsuzsa suggests.

My groupies listening to Gareth Unplugged

My groupies listening to Gareth Unplugged

Spurred on by a sudden desire to grab life by the testicles, I search YouTube and find the Jeff Buckley version.  I get the lyrics in front of me and nervously begin to sing the song to my expectant audience of wife and baby daughter.  Five seconds later and Zsuzsa, channeling Simon Cowell, puts her hand up to stop me.  Surely I wasn't that bad?

“Not that one." she says.

She obviously means the Leonard Cohen original.

 "The Alexandra Burke version!”

“Alexandra Burke!?  Alexandra Burke the winner of the 2008 series of The X Factor!?  No fudging way!”

I decide that not only do I know a little too much about Alexandra Burke, but also that life is probably not all about singing Alexandra Burke songs to Hungarian villagers.

Day 119 - Carry on Budapest

Carry on Budapest

Alas I didn't take a photo of the old man in pants, so this image of Mila trying to act cool will have to do.

Alas I didn't take a photo of the old man in pants, so this image of Mila trying to act cool will have to do.

There's an old man standing in our flat in his underpants.

It's our neighbour.  He rang the doorbell a few moments ago and when I opened it the scantily clad gent invited himself in.  He’s trying to say something to me in English, but struggling to find the words.  I think he’s asking if the noise from a neighbouring flat is bothering us, but to be honest, the only thing that’s bothering me at this precise moment in time is the old man standing in my flat in just his underpants and an open, extravagantly multi-coloured overcoat.  He looks like Joseph from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, if Joseph had recently divorced, lost his job and then turned to the bottle for comfort.    

“Maybe, best if I speak to Zsuzsa?” he says.  “I struggle for the English”.

Zsuzsa, you may well remember, is the artist formerly known as 'wife'.

“Zsuzsa!” I bellow.  "Our neighbour is standing in our flat in just his pants.  Help me!" I want to add.  

Then I remember.  Zsuzsa is in her underwear in our spare bedroom and our spare bedroom is only a few yards away from our erotically dressed neighbour.  She’s trapped!  I block our neighbour’s path to prevent him getting an eyeful of wife while I try and work out a plan.  Moments later though and Zsuzsa confidently appears.  She’s wearing a large ski jacket (the only thing to hand).  She walks up to our neighbour and I leave them to it.  Just two people having a chat about a nearby, Austrian oboe player.  One wearing saggy white underpants and a coat made from the skin of butchered teletubbies, and the other a ski jacket in a sweltering hot flat.  

I then have an idea.  This morning we read that Mila is now at the age where she should begin to laugh.  On reading this we spent the day tickling her feet, doing silly dances, flaring our nostrils and making funny noises.  Alas we haven't even managed to raise so much as a snigger.  We're disappointed, but also relieved that this means that Mila probably isn't a Daily Star reader.  But maybe the unusual sight of an old man in pants will make Mila giggle!  I fetch our baby girl and show her the old man in pants.  Mila just stares at him and frowns.  

The following morning and Zsuzsa has left me alone with our sleeping cub.  I’m very proud of myself as I’ve been ultra productive while Mila sleeps.  I’ve been beavering away with a work project and I’ve also done some rigorous exercise. 

I’m about to jump in the shower when I hear something.  A baby cry.  Fudgenuts!  I eventually decide to solve this crying baby, stinky body conundrum by bringing Mila’s play mat into the bathroom so that I can keep an eye on her while I shower.  I plonk Mila down on the floor, switch on the shower, let my dressing gown drop and I’m about to step in to the steamy hot water when I hear a noise that I haven’t heard before.  It’s a laugh.  A baby laugh.  My baby’s laugh.

I turn to Mila to see what on earth could be so funny.  What could it be?  One of her cuddly toys?  A strange sound?  Has she just discovered her own feet?  None of the above.  It’s Daddy’s ‘bits’.  She has suddenly decided that Daddy’s ‘bits’ are hilarious.  Brilliant.

“Ok, Mila.  You can stop your giggling now.”

But Mila is having none of it.  Her little baby face is contorted with hilarity.  It’s apparently the funniest thing that she’s ever seen in all of her nine weeks on Earth.

I point my baby in the other direction, continue with my self conscious shower and reminisce about those halcyon days before Mila learnt to laugh.


Day 110 - Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

The Wife and I

The Wife and I

I’m sitting in a waiting room, waiting for a business meeting.  After a few minutes, the lady who I’m meeting appears at the door with a beaming smile.

“Hi.  I’m sorry, but I won’t be giving you any pussy today.  I’m a bit sick”. she says.

I’m now worried that I’ve misread the agenda.  I mean I’m all for being friendly, but that’s the kind of greeting that you rarely get, even in Essex.  I’m also not sure that my wife would approve.  She’s funny like that.

The meeting runs its course, and true to her word, I am given no pussy.  Not even a little bit!

An hour or so later and I’m on the phone to my wife, recounting the tale of the friendly greeting.

“She mean’t ‘puszi'!  It’s Hungarian for kiss!” she explains.

“So it’s not a Hungarian custom?” I ask.

“This isn’t Ancient Rome!”

"And you're absolutely positive it isn't to do with the fact that I'm having a really good hair day today?"

"She meant 'kiss'!"

I’m relieved as I have a few other business meetings scheduled for the next few days, one with a fairly elderly gentleman who smells of tinned spam.

“That’s a very funny misunderstanding” I say.  “It’s definitely going in my blog.”

“Don’t put it in your blog!” my wife says.  “If she reads it she will be mortified.”

Later that evening my wife has a look on her face that suggests that something is wrong.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Nothing.” she replies.

Shit.  This mean’s something is definitely wrong.

I prod and poke her until she eventually caves.

“You know your blog?” she says.

“I’m aware of said blog” I reply.

“How come you only ever refer to me as ‘wife’?” my wife says.  “Everyone else has a name.  Mila has a name.  You have a name.  I’m just ‘wife’.”

“I don’t know.”  I say.  “I think I just called you wife in the first one and then continued to run with it.  Would you like me to name and shame you?”

“I want a name.” my wife says adamantly.

It’s later that evening and Mila is having one of those nights.  We can’t stop her crying for love nor money.  My wife’s well appears to be running dry and not even the trusty old dancing to AC/DC trick appears to be working.  

We try the dummy, but she keeps spitting it out.  As a side note, why don’t they make dummies with elastic face bands?  If they're good enough for party hats.  By the way, you can have that one for free.  I’ll keep an eye out for you next year on Dragon’s Den.

After several hours of nursing, comforting and "shushing", my wife eventually gets Mila off to sleep.  I sneak in to the bedroom where they’re both lying.  A lullaby is playing.  It's a lullaby that we've heard thousands of times over the last few months, and it’s starting to make me want to eat my own feet, just to take my mind of it. 

"Shall I change the music?" I ask with pleading eyes.

"As long as it's gentle and quiet.” my wife replies, barely audible.

I scroll through my iTunes.  I find The Carnival of the Animals, a magical piece of classical music that you'd recognise from countless films.  I turn the volume down to near silent and press play.

But my iPhone has other ideas.  It quite fancies listening to The Beastie Boys at full volume.  My iPhone is a despicable dick.


Mila is awake.

Zsuzsa is livid.

There will be no puszi for me tonight.

Zsuzsa aka The Wife

Zsuzsa aka The Wife

Photos courtesy of @zsolt.barabas.

Day 82 - White Candy

White Candy

Me sleeping

Me sleeping

My wife has been thinking.

“Honey.” she says.  “I’ve been thinking.”

Told you.

“You know what having a baby reminds me of?”

I lie there motionless, eyes closed and mouth open, a bit of dribble slopping out of the side of my mouth.  A sexier image, you will surely not hear of today.

“Like travelling on the 6:30am Ryanair flight to London whilst looking after a crack addict, EVERYDAY!” she replies.  “You’re standing in a Ryanair queue before the sun comes up.  You’re so tired that it feels as though your skin is about to fall off your body, and all the while, someone with manic eyes is pawing at you, pleadingly”

I nod at my wise wife.  She’s hit the nail on the head.  I’ve been trying to put my finger on the feeling for a few weeks now, but I think this tiny, female, milk providing soothsayer has nailed it.

“All we need now is for some bastard to turn up at our front door selling scratch cards!” she adds.

I think what my wife’s analogy is alluding to is that we are constantly tired and our baby appears to be going through cold turkey every two to three hours.  She wakes up in a blind panic.  She’s frantic!  She’s desperate!  Only one thing will quench this furious desire.  That thing being a nipple spurting milk.  I haven’t tried my wife’s milk, but by the reaction of her one, sole customer, that’s some good shit she’s peddling!  

Craving a hit of 'White Candy'

Craving a hit of 'White Candy'

A thought hits me.  Maybe my wife should open a milk bar, like the one in A Clockwork Orange!  It would surely go down like a house on fire in Shoreditch.  They’d be arriving on their penny farthings and queuing around the block to sample, what I have no doubt, is seriously addictive stuff.  But then I start to worry that my wife’s lactation process won’t be able to keep up with her customer’s demand.  I‘m also worrying that there will be complaints to Watchdog that she is dealing a new, legal drug.  What would its street name be?  ‘White Candy’ maybe.  We might need to buy a camper van and head out in to the desert to replenish our ‘White Candy’ stocks.  It sounds like a lot of work.  I decide that I don’t want that stress for my wife.  It’s at this moment in time that I start to realise that I'm suffering from delirium, brought on by sleep deprivation.

To be fair to our little girl, she does actually sleep through the night like a fleshy little log.  The problem is, we don’t.  The reason being that Mila often makes a choking sound during the night that suggests that she can’t breath.  Concerned by this, we speak to the doctor and he assures us that it’s quite common.  Basically she can’t yet swallow properly so either milk, mucus or both often gets stuck in her throat.  

We are momentarily relieved until he adds, “You should keep an eye on her though as there is a chance that she can suffocate in her sleep.”

Great.  That’s sleeping off the menu for the foreseeable future then.

But anyway, today I am getting a temporary reprieve from our ‘White Candy' loving, wheezy little human cub.  I have been given a green card by my kindly wife and I intend to use it wisely.  I’ve now been in Budapest for more than two months, but I’m yet to visit one of the city's amazing thermal spas.  Today is the day where I rectify this.

Gellert Spa

Gellert Spa

A couple of hours later and I’m entering a sauna at Budapest’s ostentatious Gellert Spa. The sweltering heat hits me and I feel a tad feint, but I decide to battle on.  In the sauna is one other gentleman.  An elderly Hungarian man in tiny speedos that are struggling to contain his low hanging testicles.  I sit down and he smiles at me.

“Jó napot! (Good Day)” he beams, seemingly delighted to have some sweaty company.

“Jó napot.” I reply.

“Hogy van? (How are you?)” he enthusiastically asks.

“Jó köszönöm. (Good thanks)” I reply.

The elderly gent obviously detects an accent as his next word is "Deutsche?”

“Nem.  Angol (No, English)” I reply.

“I speak a little English”, he says.

I smile back before asking “How are you?”

This was my mistake, for this man does not realise that if a Brit says “How are you?” he doesn’t actually give a rat's ass how you are.  It’s just a turn of phrase.  It’s akin to saying “Hi”.  If anyone replies with anything other than the stock answer of “Good”, we assume that they are insane and proceed to panic.  Apparently however, if someone asks the same question to a Hungarian, it is an invitation for them to tell you their life story, as the man then launches in to a gargantuan monologue about the last few years of his life. 

He explains that he has just retired, but that he’s not enjoying it and that he wishes he was still working.  He’s struggling to cope with so much free time.  He then begins to tell me about his family.  His daughter is recently divorced and it’s causing the family much anguish.  He then elaborates on this subject, by divulging minutia about his daughter’s marriage and why, exactly, it broke down.  But I’m no longer listening.  I’m close to death.  It’s nearly one hundred degrees celsius in this hell hole of a room and my life is flashing before my eyes.  I’m discovering that living off minimal sleep for two weeks is not a good pairing for a room that’s so hot that it would melt Frodo’s ring.  I want to get out!  I need to get out!  But I’m British!  To simply get up and leave halfway through this man’s story might seem rude.  I’m trying to assess my options.  Do I get up and leave halfway through this man’s story, or simply give up and collapse, here on the smouldering floor.  If I get up and leave now, obviously I will need to leave the city for fear of bumping in to this man again.  I mean, he might give me a disapproving look!  Alternatively, if I collapse on to the floor, the spa will probably need to find a spatula to scoop me back up off it.

I eventually decide that social embarrassment is probably slightly more appealing than potential death, and I’m about to leg it, when the door opens and another elderly gent in x-rated speedos enters.  The two men’s eyes meet and they begin to converse.  I see my window of opportunity and leave the sauna.  I can feel my blood simmering and now know what it must feel like to be a live lobster in a pot of boiling water, whilst an older lobster with low hanging testicles tells you a sob story.

All of a sudden, an early morning Ryan Air flight with a crack addict doesn’t seem so bad.

Day 68 - Do Babies Dream of Baby Sheep

Do Babies Dream of Baby Sheep

You know how I said before that it was the waiting for the baby's arrival that was the hardest part?  Bollocks!  The waiting was the easy bit, as you can see from my new top three list of the hardest things about having a baby, ranked from hardest to easiest...

  1. The birth.  Horrific.  Brutal.  Savage.  Basically like a Saw movie.  (Shudders)
  2. Twenty four hours of a baby crying.  Oh!  My!  God!  Please sleep!
  3. Waiting for an overdue baby.

In fact, as unbearable as it seemed at the time, I actually miss the waiting part now!  I mean, we love our baby, we are over the moon, smitten, and very rarely think about selling her on eBay, but I live in a beautiful city, it’s thirty degrees outside and I don't have to go and sit in an office!  I miss being able to just take a stroll up to Buda Castle with my favourite wife, pop in to Pest for a bite to eat, or visit one of the city’s many bars or cafes for a sociable drink in the sun.

Maybe I’m just feeling a tad bitter due to the fact that Mila spent yesterday (which incidentally was our third wedding anniversary) screaming at the top of her tiny lungs.  FOR TWENTY FOUR FUCKING HOURS!  I think she’s maybe going through that phase.  You know the one.  The phase where the ONLY thing that will stop her crying is to be carried around by her Dad while he sings the entire back catalogue of The Crash Test Dummies to her.  The trickiest part of this is that I only know two of The Crash Test Dummies' songs.  These being ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm’ and ‘Afternoons & Coffeespoons’, and out of these two songs I know a total of eight words from the lyrics, seven of which are in the titles.  So, our anniversary evening consisted of me, with wild, bloodshot eyes, wandering around the flat carrying a baby, guessing the entire back catalogue of The Crash Test Dummies.

“She’s asleep honey!  Why don’t you try and put her to bed?” my wife says.

I nod and then looking like a man carrying his life's work through a field of land mines, I carefully put my sleeping child to bed.  Her peaceful, sleeping head touches the mattress.  Her eyes shoot open.  She glares at me and she is frantic.  She screams.  I pick her up.

“Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.”

Repeat until my eyeballs bleed, while I consider if there's any feasible way to put our baby back inside my wife.

One other thing that hopefully one of you experienced parents out there can help shed some light on.  Why is it that a baby will sleep through storms, sirens, violent political demonstrations etc, but if you step on to a squeaky floorboard, wide awake!  Why!?  What is this witchcraft, this black magic!  A few days ago we went for a walk with Mila in her buggy.  It was some kind of National Hungary Day so there were celebrations all over the city.  We’d just managed to get Mila to sleep by walking vigorously over a cobbled street, when up ahead we spot something that terrifies us.  A parade of Hungarian bagpipe players coming our way!  About fifty of them, all gleefully blowing in to their abhorrent sacks!  We've no idea what Hungarians are doing playing the bagpipes, but naturally, we are horrified.  We look for an escape route, but it’s no use.  We are surrounded.  So, with darkness in our hearts we prepare to walk in to the bagpipe playing hell.  And...our ridiculous little human didn’t so much as raise an eyelid!  Astonishing sleeping skills!  We are delighted!  We get home, she seems to be in a coma, we put her to bed, step on a floorboard that had just at this moment decided to become squeaky.  Eyes shoot open.  Scream.  We are broken.

“You know our baby?” I ask the wife.

“I know her.” she replies.

“Well, I think she might be a bit of a dick.”

“Don’t say that honey!”

“I’m sorry, but she has screamed for the entirety of our wedding anniversary, only stopping if I sing early 90's, obscure, Canadian rock to her!  Not only that, but she seems to time her number two’s for when it’s my turn to change her nappy!  You get a little splash of fragrant baby wee, I get stinking baby jalfrezi!  What the hell is that about!?  Like I said, I think she might be a bit of a dick.”

“She’s not a dick.  She doesn’t understand what’s going on.  She’s going through something called a leap.  She’s just scared.”

“Well, I hope you’re right!  She better be scared shitless!”

When we do finally manage to get Mila to sleep I often find myself staring at her, wondering what the devil she’s dreaming about.  I mean, what does she know?  She knows the inside of my wife’s uterus, she knows that breasts are delicious, and she knows a tiny section of Budapest.  She'd be a rubbish 'phone a friend' on Who Wants to be A Millionaire.  She probably doesn’t even realise that the United Kingdom recently had a referendum about whether or not to stay in the European Union!  Or maybe I’m wrong and she knows a lot more than she’s giving away.  Maybe she has been quietly absorbing the world around her over the last nine months from inside my wife.  

What the hell is going on inside that tiny head?

What the hell is going on inside that tiny head?

 Maybe her dreams are vivid and wild.  Maybe they go a little something like this…

Flying over the Alps like a fleshy, baby, Ryanair jet

Flying over the Alps like a fleshy, baby, Ryanair jet

The Even Littler Mermaid (Eat your heart out Nirvana Nevermind cover)

The Even Littler Mermaid (Eat your heart out Nirvana Nevermind cover)

Dancing with pink dancing sheep on the beaches of Kokomo (obviously)

Dancing with pink dancing sheep on the beaches of Kokomo (obviously)

Riding her stuffed dog Rufus through the wild jungles of Mexico

Riding her stuffed dog Rufus through the wild jungles of Mexico

Travelling across a river with her friendly, stuffed, pink, giraffe, Juan Sebastian.

Travelling across a river with her friendly, stuffed, pink, giraffe, Juan Sebastian.

Or maybe she’s just dreaming about my wife’s breasts. 

Day 54 - Escape From Baby Alcatraz

Escape From Baby Alcatraz

Not enjoying the handball coverage

Not enjoying the handball coverage

I’m sitting at home watching Tunisia play Qatar at handball whilst a baby who can’t pooh screams in my ear.  There’s been a lot of obscure Olympic sports watched to the soundtrack of horribly shrill, poohless baby shrieking over the last few days.  Judo, fencing, table tennis, canoe slalom, trampolining, something called radial sailing.  I am well and truly living the fatherhood/Hungarian Olympic coverage dream.  Maybe this is what heaven is like.  I’m hoping things will change moving forward, but week one of parenthood has been like when the mafia ‘go to the mattresses’ during times of gang warfare.  We’ve hardly left the house all week for fear of detonating an explodable baby bomb.

As it stands, if Mila is conscious, the only way to stop her screaming is to stuff a nipple in her mouth.  Sadly, mine appear to be dormant, so it’s my good lady wife who has to be constantly on standby with an emergency nipple bung.  But then, when the time comes to remove the nipple from our human cub's mouth, it’s like removing a pin from a WWII hand grenade that you’ve found in your back garden.  You don’t know if the hand grenade is live or not, but if it is live, you can be sure that it will take your face clean off and leave everyone around splintered with shrapnel.

This nipple stuffing technique does seem to be foolproof, but it’s pretty tough for my wife.

“I’m like an industrial cow!”  she says.  “I’m just here for milking.  I don’t think she’s even seen my face!  All she’s interested in are my tits!”  

Maybe Mila takes after her father.

“Ahh.” I reply in my most soothing voice.  “You’re not an industrial cow honey.  More like a lovely organic cow that has been well looked after by a loving farmer.”

I think for a second, before continuing with my inspirational pep talk.

“I actually like to think of you more as her favourite restaurant.  And not just any restaurant!  You’re not a Wimpy for example.  If anything you’re like a lovely little, local, healthy restaurant.  You’re probably even gluten free!”  

A thought hits me.  I haven’t seen a Wimpy for about twenty years.  I’m now worried that they may have gone the same way as the dodo, the woolly mammoth or C&A.

“But I can’t keep up with the demand!” my wife moans, close to tears as she nurses her savaged nipples.

But it’s no use, I’m not listening.  My mind is focusing on the potential extinction of Wimpy restaurants.

At that moment we are interrupted by the midwife knocking on our front door.  It’s now been six days since Mila last poohed, so we just want to check that everything is in working order.  The midwife enters, prods her little belly, pushes her legs up by her head and then puts a thermometer up her rectum.  Once she’s finished fooling around we show her to our baby.

“I think she seems fine” the midwife tells us.  “It’s often the case that newborns don’t poop much for the first week or two of their lives if they’re being breast fed.  Keep doing bicycle exercises with her little legs, massage her belly and before you’ll know it, you will have more poop than you can handle.”  The midwife then leaves, leaving us once again, with our poohless child.

“Maybe she’ll never pooh” I say.  “Maybe she's like The X-Men!  Maybe the next evolution of the human race will be a pooh-free human!  Imagine how freaked out Andrex would be!  The shit would well and truly hit the fan in their HQ, perhaps for the last time!” 

Thanks to Angelcare I can Dad without missing a second of my beloved trampolining qualifiers

Thanks to Angelcare I can Dad without missing a second of my beloved trampolining qualifiers

On Mila’s eighth day on Earth we decide to put our pooh concerns behind us, and prepare to face our fears by leaving our safe haven.  She wakes up at midday.  My wife pacifies her with a nipple.  Half an hour later she slowly removes the nipple.  Huzzah!  This grenade is not live!  We carefully place our cute little sleeping daughter in to her buggy, pop our flip-flops on and leave the flat.  Twenty metres later, Mila wakes up.  She apparently doesn’t appreciate the fact that we didn’t get her sign off for our expedition.  She screams.  Our neighbours no doubt assume that I am butchering a piglet.  We return home.

We are prisoners to our nipple obsessed little warden.   We are in Baby Alcatraz.  But never mind.  At least we can now watch India play Lithuania at badminton.

Later that evening, whilst I am helping Mila do her bicycle exercises, something shifts and things start to move.  It happens whilst I am looking directly in to the eye of the storm.  I don't think I will ever be clean again.

Hoping that Mila won't look behind our Raquel Welch poster

Hoping that Mila won't look behind our Raquel Welch poster

Day 51 - Budabreast


I've been trying to furiously milk myself now for hours, but so far not a drop.  I think the pump is broken.

I've been trying to furiously milk myself now for hours, but so far not a drop.  I think the pump is broken.

If you’d told me several years ago that during the summer of 2016 I’d spend a whole morning, miming the action of pumping a tit to bemused looking, elderly ladies, on the other side of Europe, I’d have been dubious.  Today this happened. 

I was traipsing around Budapest in a desperate quest for a breast pump.  From shop to shop I travelled, like J.R Hartley looking for a book on fly fishing, but with more nipples.  And you know what?  Not one person in any of the shops spoke a word of English!  What on Earth are they teaching these people in the breast pump selling schools of Budapest!?  

The situation repeatedly played out like this.

I enter a pharmacy/medical supply shop.

An elderly, gruff Hungarian woman stares at me blankly.

“Beszél Angolul (Do you speak English)?” I say.

“Nem (No)” they reply.


I do the only thing I can, and look them in the eyes pleadingly, whilst pretending to grab my imaginary tits and squeeze them.

Cue a furrowed brow from the gruff Hungarian lady.

My eyes become more and more pleading as my tit squeezing mime becomes more and more elaborate.  On a few occasions they twig and answer me with a shake of the head.  On a few other occasions they just continue to stare blankly.  But, just like those man hungry Mounties, I eventually get my man/breast pump.

My search was all in preparation for my ladies finally returning home to our Buda Nest.  Mila was born four days ago, but due to the particularly savage nature of the birth, Mila ended up hurting her collar bone and my wife dislocated her arsehole (or something like that).  So they’ve been kept in until now to recuperate.  Mila also needed a blood test as she was apparently looking a bit pale.  Thankfully the results came back positive, with the midwife concluding that she was probably looking a bit pale because she was half British!  What the…!?  But today was the big day.  They’d been given the all clear!  My little lady and my even littler lady were coming home.

The message to come and collect them comes through and I’m overjoyed, despite the fact that it might disrupt my evenings, which over the last four days have consisted of me, a pair of underpants, a sofa, The Olympics and a bottle of wine.  I jump in the car and race across Budapest to collect my girls.

On route to the hospital.

Once at the hospital it becomes apparent that we now have an abundance of possessions that must go with us wherever we go.  In the past, when we’ve hosted friends with children I’ve always been incredulous or sneerful, or both (sneerdulous?) by the sheer amount of apparent ‘shit’ that they’ve hauled with them.  Sterilisers, little tubs of slop, numerous wheeled contraptions, bags, more bags, a few more bags just in case.  Now, even before our baby has arrived home, I cast my eye at our car full of ‘stuff’ and begin to calibrate with their apparent madness.  It was bursting at the seams with baby shit (not literally)!  I make a mental note to do all that I can to stop this insanity in it's tracks.  We need to be the kind of couple who put our flip-flops on, chuck the baby in a baby bag, grab our passports and toothbrushes and head to The Amazon.  This may be wishful thinking.    

We leave the hospital and drive home.  Mila screams from start to finish.  On the straights I almost reach twelve miles an hour.  After what seems like several days (but was in fact less than twenty minutes), we get home and it hits us.

What the holy fuckety fuck do we do now?

Back in The Buda Nest.  Let the games begin!

Back in The Buda Nest.  Let the games begin!

Day 47 - Mila Time

Mila Time

Mila Juno Hutchins

Mila Juno Hutchins

Ladies and gentlemen meet Mila Juno Hutchins.  Mila Juno Hutchins meet the ladies and gentlemen.

So, she’s out, and as a result I have a new found respect for women.  THAT.  WAS.  BRUTAL!  My tiny wife somehow managed to push out a 57 cm long, 8 pound 10 ounce baby.  My little wife who can still comfortably shop at Baby GAP.   I have to doff my cap to my amazing better half and also to the miracle of modern medicine, as if the events of August 4th had taken place one hundred years ago I’ve no idea how we would have got her out.  But all is well and we are both in shellshock.  Oh my God.  What a day.  What a lovely day!

It started at 0500 with The Show.

My wife wakes me up.

“Honey, The Show has started!”

The Show!  The Fucking Show!  Sounds like so much fun doesn’t it?  Visions of jazz hands, music, dancing, can-can girls and maybe even a magic trick.  But then my wife shows me The Show first hand and I can confirm that The Show is not as entertaining as it sounds, and probably wasn’t written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Show was shortly followed by a series of contractions that made my wife make noises that sadly, I don’t think I will ever make her make.  It’s definitely happening.  I calm my wife by charging around the flat screaming “Don’t panic!”  I am Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army. We get in the car and off we go.  Over the past month I’ve discovered that the roads of Budapest are particularly confusing at the best of times, but when you are driving along with your wife screaming in pain every five minutes, and me screaming “Don’t panic!”, I can confirm they are still fairly baffling. 

We get to the hospital and I am surrounded by rooms of women screaming and groaning,  They are no doubt either giving birth, watching pornography or watching The Walking Dead.  I mentally decide that they are watching pornography.

We get in to a room and it begins.  Zsuzsa is in pain, crying and wailing.  Given that she usually cries if she misses a train this isn’t abnormal, but I sense this is more than a missed train.  Call it intuition.  I give her a piece of chocolate and start recording her with a video.  She doesn’t appreciate this.  I stop recording.

What followed was like the opening twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, but for seven hours.  I’ve never witnessed such savagery, such brutality.  Oh the horror!  THE HORROR!    I felt as though I was starring in my own, foreign language version of SAW. 

At one point, I was holding one of my wife’s legs, a midwife was holding the other, one doctor was playing the slip fielder, while another big male doctor pressed down hard on my little wife’s belly, trying to force the baby out with some kind of crazy Hungarian toothpaste technique!  And all of this whilst not understanding a single fucking word of what anyone was saying!  Throw in an exam paper that I hadn't revised for and take away my trousers and that's my nightmare!  Right there!  I had visions beforehand of casually sitting by my lady wife’s head, holding her hand and whispering sweet nothings while the doctor did the dirty work, but I had no say in the matter.  I was at the business end.  I was in the trenches.  I probably now have trench foot.  



And now it’s over and I can confirm that I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.  Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhâuser Gate.  Now I’ve seen a baby's head do unmentionable things.  All of those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain.

If you are not familiar with Blade Runner you may now be thinking that I’ve been over doing it on the nitrous oxide.  Outrageously though, they don’t have nitrous oxide in Hungarian hospitals!  It was the whole reason that I got my wife pregnant in the first place!  Livid.

But she’s out.  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  Mother will hobble and sit on a rubber ring for a few weeks I’d imagine, but all is good.  We are ecstatic.  Our little family has just grown by 50% and she’s gorgeous.  I’m sure there will be tough times ahead, but for now, we are an overjoyed, mentally drained, tired, family.

I leave the hospital for the night while my wife and little Mila both try and work out how to breast feed.  I’m now out numbered by ladies, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My girls

My girls

Day 42 - Running Out of Names

Running Out of Names

Sadly neither Jet or Jinx made it on to the shortlist

Sadly neither Jet or Jinx made it on to the shortlist

Our baby is now five days overdue and we can’t decide on a name.  If we were having a boy the name was long decided and agreed.  Hugo Zoltan Hutchins!  He would no doubt have been both a comic book character and a wizard.  But little Hugo will just have to wait as, unless it’s a boy with a micro penis, all evidence suggests that we are having a girl, and we are more than delighted with this.

“Why don’t we call her Sonia?”  my wife suggests.  I almost choke on my yogurt, which I’m confident would have been a world first.

I show her a photo of the Eastenders character called Sonia and she gets my point.

“What about Uma?” I ask.

“Are you insane!?” she growls back.  

I take this as a maybe.

This game of baby name tennis has been going on for months now, ever since our twelve weeks scan where we discovered that we were most likely going to welcome a little madam in to our world.  The drama is also heightened on discovering that you are not allowed to leave the hospital in Hungary until a name is registered!  Yikes!

I decide that a run might help with the baby name idea generation.  I am also spurred on by the realisation that I may have to take my top off in a hospital in the next few days for some skin to skin action with a new born baby.   

It’s midday and I am running around Margit Island like an unconventional English/Welsh gazelle.  It’s over thirty degrees celsius and I am the living embodiment for the Noel Coward song, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”.  I am now rather regretting my running decision. 

Half way through I spot a leafy little exercise yard and instantly decide that this is a perfect excuse to take a break from my foolhardy run.  I study the machines on display and make a calculated decision that the peculiar devise that allows you to swing your legs from side to side is probably the least taxing of all the available machines.  After all, what more do you want from exercise than to relax?  So on I hop and begin the bizarre routine of swinging my legs from left to right.  It’s in the shade and I start to smile as I feel my life-force returning.  But then something dreadful happens.  Something almost too ghastly to even mention.  A man makes his way towards my machine, and as bold as brass, hops on to the section that opposes me and begins to swing his legs about.  He is facing me, our noses are centimetres from one another.  His breath is caressing my skin.  I am horrified by this brazen display of disregard for the unwritten rules of personal space encroachment.  But not unlike Theresa May, I resist the urge to immediately trigger Article 50, as being British, the last thing I want this random chap to know is that I feel uncomfortably by his unbelievably close presence.  So, with my heart composing it's own hardcore drum n' bass 'tune', and with every fibre of my being secretly screaming “What the fuck are you doing you scoundrel!?”, I try and play it cool.  This begins with a nonchalant scratch of my shoulder with my chin.  It provides me with the perfect excuse to move my face in to a safe zone.  But I immediately realise that this is only a momentary respite as I can only scratch my shoulder with my scratching chin for so long without appearing to have descended in to madness.


The Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus

I need a new 'face safety' strategy.  In a eureka moment it comes to me!  I will study the ground for a while as though it is as fascinating as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!  But it’s no use.  I can’t continue to look at the ground for more than fifteen seconds for fear that this stranger will suspect that I am looking uncomfortable, and as a Brit, it is in my DNA that I must do all that I can to avoid this shame.  I reluctantly decide that there’s only one thing for it.  I brace myself and then slowly, calmly and assuredly look straight ahead, in to the eyes of my aggressor.  Our eyes meet and it is horrible.  If we both extend our lips we could probably kiss.  And in this bloodcurdling moment I’m now afraid that this is what he has in mind, so I quickly glance at my wedding ring in the vain hope that his eyes will follow.  But they do not.  This bushwhacker is made of sterner stuff and will not be fooled by ‘sleight of eye’ tricks.  I want to grab him by the ears, shake him and forcefully say “I don’t know what you’re used to around these neck of the woods you cretin, but in Britain we respect each others personal space!”  But it’s no use.  This man is a shameless bastard, plus I don’t know the Hungarian for “neck of the woods”.  Or “cretin”.  Or any of the rest of it.  So I look at the ground again.

Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, but was probably actually less than thirty seconds I decide enough is enough.  You have won sir.  You have won!  I hop off the machine whilst whistling, trying to act as nonchalant as possible and involuntarily break in to a peculiar display of lunges to help me appear so.  I don’t think it worked.  I then run away as fast as my tired legs and shaken mind will carry me, a mentally broken Brit in a land full of foreign, personal space invading madness.  

About a hundred metres down the road I spot a little stall, selling beer.  I decide to stop.  I remember that all of the world’s greatest ideas are generated in a pub.