Self-Scanning Panic Attack

There are so many people in M&S in Soho at lunch time that when you go to pay  its like queueing up to get into a football stadium. You are corralled and herded into lines so you can pass the tills at maximum speed. I like it. Its efficient and works because us Brits love a good queue.But today it was different because before i knew it I wasn’t heading for a human I was heading towards the machines.

I am about to face the self scanners. I don’t want the machine, I want a human. I want a nice middle aged lady who takes my money with a smile. In fact I’ll take any type of human even a spotty teenager who is constantly yakking to her mate at the next till about how mashed they got last night.  I don’t want to do it myself ,I want someone to do it for me. Its what I pay for. Next they’ll be getting me to make the sandwich myself.\r\n\r\nI’m not good with automated stuff. I have only just mastered chip and pin and still feel pleased with myself everytime the machine says “Pin OK”, looking round for affirmation, like my 6 month year old daughter, expecting the waitress or shopkeeper to give me a little clap for my efforts.\r\n\r\nAs we shuffle forward I can feel my heart speeding up and I start to freak out into a sweat. Its all so intimidating. All those seasoned scanners clutching their focaccias and hand baked crisps and shaking their heads at the people getting it wrong with the scanners, holding up the queue and eating into their precious lunch break. I don’t want to get it wrong.\r\n\r\nI don’t want to be sneared at by the pros. I don’t want the machine to scream at me “WARNING WARNING THERE IS A FOREIGN OBJECT IN THE BAGGING AREA”. I  don’t want the flashing light and the buzzer sound “ACHTUNG ACHTUNG THIS MAN IS AN IDIOT”.\r\n\r\nAs the queue shuffles forward I can feel THE FEAR  increasing. I clutch my crayfish sandwich and pasta salad tighter and tighter. I consider making a break for it. To make a burst for freedom and head for the human tills. But the queue is too tight and I don’t think I’d be able to battle through the hoards. I crane my neck to watch the people using the machine to try and pick up tips. But I am so nervous I’m not sure I can take it all in.\r\n\r\nThen suddenly I am next. After the man in front with his sesame bar and organic yoghurt, its me. I take a big breath and stride confidently up to the machine.  “I am a man.” I whisper under my breath. “You are just a machine. I am your master.”\r\n\r\nI swipe my plastic container with the pasta under the green light and lo and behold there is a beep. I swell with pride. I place it to my right in the plastic bag. My sandwich gets the same confident sweep and the same reassuring beep and green light. Yes. I don’t appear to have any foreign objects in the bagging area. Get In! I press the big PAY button on the screen. I slide my ten pound note into the feeder. It swallows it first time.  Woo Hoo. That feels good. There is slight panic when for a second I cant find my change. But before some smug bloke can say “Its below the scanner dummy” I find it. I have my change. I have my salad and sandwich. I still have my dignity. I walk all the way back the office with a spring in my step.

Fathers influence their daughters sexual behaviour

I have just discovered that a father’s parenting skills can have a huge influence on a daughter’s sexual behaviour. A new study by researchers in America has found that daughters of fathers with good parenting skills are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour.

“When it comes to girls and their decisions about sex, it turns out a father’s influence really does matter,” says lead author Bruce J. Ellis, of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona.Ellis and colleagues looked at 59 pairs of sisters in families in which the parents had divorced and the father moved out, and 42 pairs of sisters from intact families. For girls with divorced parents, older sisters spent an average of 7 more years living with their fathers than their younger sisters did, the study authors noted. “It turned out that it didn’t matter that much how long each daughter lived with her father, but rather what he did when he was there,” Ellis said in the news release. While living for a longer amount of time with a father who provided high-quality parenting reduced the likelihood of risky sexual behavior by daughters, spending more time with a father with poor parenting skills actually increased risky sexual behavior, the investigators found.Risky sexual behaviors include having sex without a condom, having multiple sexual partners, having sex while intoxicated, and becoming pregnant before age 19.

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Child Care Snails

It’s fair to say that a lot of men don’t take their duties and responsibilities as a father seriously. And in the animal world that is true too, with many males of the species too busy mating with multiple partners in an attempt to increase their chances of producing offspring, and neglecting their childcare duties. But there is one shining example of selfless male parenting – the marine whelk. Solenosteira macrospira, as he is known, does all the work of raising the young, from egg-laying to hatching – even though few of the baby snails are his own.

daddy whelks

When the snails mate, the female glues capsules, containing hundreds of eggs each, to the male’s shell. The male then carries them around for over a month lovingly nurturing them.\n\nBut when researchers carried out Jerry Springer “Who’s the daddy?”  style DNA tests on the hatched offspring, they found, on average, that the male snails were the fathers of just 24% of the babies they had carried on their backs. Many had sired far less. And some carried the offspring of as many as 25 other males. “The promiscuity in the female snails is extraordinary,” says Stephanie Kamel, one of the study’s authors.

Thankfully marine whelks carry around their own homes – their shells – so the snails don’t have to get a large mortgage and shell out (shell out! get it? oh come on!) for a bigger home for all their step-sons and step-daughters.

So why do the male snails do it? The researchers say it might be because carrying egg capsules are a way for a male to show a female that he\’s good parent material. “If he wants to get any action, he has to pay the price,” says Kamel. So maybe it’s not quite so selfless after all.

Militant Lactivism

Flicking through wife’s Harper’s Bazaar I read an article on Brazilian supermodel Gisele and her recent birthing experience.She says that she meditated throughout her eight-hour labour – no doubt purring like a sex kitten between contractions – and that she got back her bikini body in just 6 weeks thanks to breastfeeding.

She says ‘I think breastfeeding really helped. Some people here [in the US] think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think, “Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?” I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.’

Now I am an advocate of “breast is best” and quite possibly Gisele’s breasts are the best in the world but that last sentence is ridiculous.“A worldwide law on breastfeeding.”

This is typical celebrity la la nonsense. Did it not occur to her that some women through circumstances or health issues perhaps can’t breastfeed? And how would you implement the law Gisele? Would there be breast police  (now there’s an idea)? Would you throw people in jail if they were caught with a baby bottle?

This is militant lactivism taken to its ridiculous conclusion.

First Day Back At Work

My paternity leave has ended. I have been in the privileged position of being able to take time off for the birth and first two months of our new baby girl. But all things must end and this week I had to return to work. I was not looking forward to it.I love my job (I am a television producer/director) but I didn’t want to leave my beloved baby.  I was also worried how wifey would cope with no extra pair of hands. Up until now we tag teamed. But now she will be home alone.

On my first day back at work I got up with baby, bathed her, fed her and played with her until it was time to leave. Walking to the tube I had a whole new perspective on going to work. I was now going off to work  to earn money to feed my wife and baby. I am now a provider, I thought. I am man. I am part cave man part farmer / miner / fisherman. I am doing what men do. What they have done since the dawn of time.  Leaving the family to go off to work, to work hard so they can fill the mouths of their little ones.

The reality is I am a media ponce going off to sit in an edit suite and make tv shows, but on that 7 minute walk to the underground station I felt in tune with my fellow men, my fellow fathers throughout the centuries. I walked proud I walked tall. “Get out the way I have to feed my baby” I wanted to yell as I fought with the tourists and the commuters to get on the train.It was nice to go back to work to see the crew and get my brain working again. But I did miss my baby. I kept sneaking at pics of baby on my laptop and coming over all misty eyed.

I couldn’t wait to come home.
I left early so eager was I to see baby.
I walked in the door, kissed wifey and said hello to baby. She smiled back. And I felt wonderful. “Man has returned. With food and things for his family” I said in my best caveman voice. Not out loud just in my head. This is what life is about, I thought. Man returning home to his family after a hard days work.

After 40 years I have finally become a family man.Full of joy I picked up baby and cuddled her.\r\n\r\nShe looked at me and then started crying. And crying. And screaming. Inconsolable she was.“She must be hungry:” I said.“Don’t think so she was just fed.”  says wifey.\r\n\r\nI speak to baby, I rock her, I try and calm her down. But she is having none of it. I reluctantly hand her back to wifey, knowing what will come. And sure enough in wifey’s arms baby immediately stops crying.In that moment my heart is smashed in two.

I go away for 9 hours and already she hates me.  I go to bed early, heartbroken.