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.

A NAPPY CHANGING MACHINE!

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?”

“Okay.”

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.”

“Cool!”

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.

“What?”

“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 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 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 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

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.

Bollocks.

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.  

Outnumbered

Outnumbered

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 35 - Waiting for a Girl Like You

Waiting for a Girl Like You

Hands on Dad (not a painting of Freddie Mercury).

Hands on Dad (not a painting of Freddie Mercury).

Speaking as a man who is yet to witness a baby tearing his wife’s perineum apart with just its head, I think it’s the waiting that’s the hardest part.  We’ve been on tenterhooks for two weeks ever since the doctor remarked that the baby could come at any minute, but so far ‘nada’.  We can't go too far from base camp, I can't drink booze despite being surrounded by delicious Hungarian grape juice wherever I turn.   So we just sit and wait and when we’re not sitting we’re walking.  In fact, we’ve probably covered every yard of Budapest in the last week.  Which when you consider that my wife has to carry her belly in her arms, is quite a feat.  Across streets, over bridges, to fröccs and langós festivals, over hills, to a Picasso exhibition, through markets and even to a concert (Budapest Bar) she has carried that gigantic belly in her tiny arms.  She may look like an Easter Egg with legs, but I have to admire her pluck.   

In dire need of a wheelbarrow

In dire need of a wheelbarrow

But anyway, I’ve now been in Budapest for about a month and I’m with a friend at a small beer garden (Spiler) near Buda Castle.  The friend has a two year old child and he may not yet realise this, but he is my Obi-Wan Kenobi of fatherhood.  With Junior’s arrival looming large I am looking for reassurance, guidance and a few handy tips of how best to keep a human cub alive.  I’m also trying to assess just how tough the first few weeks of parenthood might be.

“You know the first couple of weeks with the baby?” I say.

He throws back the hood of his robe, leans upon his staff, looks me in the eye and then wisely replies, “Yes”.  This is good.  So far, all positive. 

“Will I be able to get any sleep?”, I ask.

At this he laughs so hard that food comes out of his nose.  I am surprised by this response.  Mainly because he wasn’t even eating at the time.

“I didn’t get any sleep for the first three months!” he snorts.  “You’re going to be so tired that you won’t be able to feel your bloody face!”.  He chortles.  “Take my advice young padawan.  Get as much sleep as you can now as you won’t be able to sleep once the baby arrives!  You’ll look and feel like SHIT!”. 

Naturally, I am thrilled by these words. 

"But still, I guess I should count my blessings that I don't have a nine to five job at the moment.  Right now every day is Saturday!", I remark, striving for an upbeat finish.

"As soon as the baby comes everyday will be a Monday!", he sneers.  

I consider whether I need a new Obi-Wan, whilst wondering if my friend has ever considered a career as a motivational speaker.  

A snap of Liberty Bridge from one of our many walks

A snap of Liberty Bridge from one of our many walks

Lazy bastards lounging on Liberty Bridge

Lazy bastards lounging on Liberty Bridge

Nevertheless I have tried to take this sagacious advice on board and have been attempting to hibernate as much as possible.  For two weeks I’ve been half man, half dormouse, but as we reach the finishing straight it’s not as easy as one would think to pop off to the land of nodsville.  The reason being is that I have discovered that once darkness falls I now achieve an unnaturally high state of alertness.  I am a cowboy sleeping with one eye open.  A praying mantis poised to strike.  A man shitting it that his wife is going to go into labour.  I think this newfound ability stems from someone once telling me that babies are most likely to come at night.  The ‘apparent’ reason being that our instincts tell us that as it’s quiet, there’s a lesser chance of predators being around.  I think this sounds like 'utter bollocks' as surely more predators come out at night, but nevertheless my subconscious mind believes them.  

Pablo Picasso The Finger Puppet.  The toy that all kids crave for.

Pablo Picasso The Finger Puppet.  The toy that all kids crave for.

It’s two in the morning.  My wife gets out of bed to empty her battered bladder.  Like a ninja I sense her stirring.  My eyes shoot open and I sit up in bed, like a meerkat on speed.

“Are you alright honey?  What’s up?”  I ask, but before she can reply I am already wearing trousers and searching for the car keys. 

“Need a wee.” she wearily replies.  My trousers are off and I am back in bed.  But I cannot sleep as I am fully alert, heart pounding.  About thirty minutes later I eventually begin to drift off.  Then up she clambers.  I’m awake again.  I’m wearing trousers.  She is weeing.  Back to bed.  Repeat every thirty minutes until dawn.  

Come on Junior!  Please don’t take after your mother and be late.  We’re waiting for you!

Nearly being a father is tougher than I’d imagined.

Budapest Bar

Budapest Bar