14st 11lb, 2.5 units. I woke early and wrote a newspaper column, which was inevitably about the arrival of The Baby even though I know that this will be of precious little interest to most readers in the North East. But, to look on the bright side, it will probably offend most of them less than my taking another pop at Gordon Brown.
At 11 I took The Dog for a walk, following a couple of tracksuited teenage scratters who slung their plastic drink bottles noisily onto the pavement behind them as they walked. How I wished I had the strength of character to remonstrate with them; but it struck me as an imprudent course of action if The Baby is to grow up with a living father, or at any rate a father who isn’t on a life support machine and is capable of eating solids. On our way back we encountered the youth I always think of as The King of the Scratters, his mouth as ever hanging open gormlessly. He was wearing a ludicrous, large baseball cap to disguise his comical ginger hair and remarkably low forehead. Surrounded by his posse of even more stupid admirers (hard though it is to get one’s mind around either part of that concept), he was clearly trying his utmost to exude menace, though I am happy to report that he merely succeeded in looking utterly ridiculous and pathetic.
Having deposited The Dog at home I set off on a mad dash around the shops to buy various things desired by Mrs H. I thought that it would also be a good opportunity to renew the battery in my pocket watch, so called in at the repair shop only to find some scratter pensioner debating whether or not to treat herself to a new, cheap wristwatch. As I entered she had just reached a decision: “No, I’ll leave it for another week”, presumably to see whether she died in the meantime. But then the crafty young salesman sowed a doubt in what passed for her mind: “Yes, that’s fine. Though, of course, when it’s gone, it’s gone.” So naturally she had to “have another look at it”. I gave a despairing sigh and left, heading up in the lift to the top floor of the nearby department store to buy Mrs H some hair mousse. For the first time ever there was a queue at the counter, inevitably led by another old biddy making incredibly heavy weather of arranging an appointment to have her short, grey hair styled in a coffin-ready perm. Why can’t they just get on with it, for God’s sake?
When I got to the hospital I found that Mrs H had again been transformed, this time from Pamela Anderson into Jordan. I devoutly hoped that she would be stopping there, rather than continuing to develop into one of those ladies who can only obtain work in special interest porn films.
At 2.20 we went to see the Assistant Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, though presumably her duties at the hospital mainly relate to the first and last of those. We initially struggled to find her, but eventually tracked her down to an office off the hospital café with a big sign saying “Registrar” on the door. She took down The Baby’s and our particulars, after which I cheerily pointed out to Mrs H that the next time she would need to perform this task would be when she was registering my death. She seemed to find this thought unaccountably depressing, though it cheered the assistant registrar up no end. We were then presented with a copy of the short registration certificate which the State generously provides completely free of charge, though the assistant registrar warned that we would find it totally useless for any important purpose such as obtaining a passport; for this we would need a full registration certificate, obtainable at the bargain price of £3.50. Even though she could offer no discount for bulk, I bought three of them; the same number as of the Christian names we had just registered. In birth certificates as in names, there is no way that my son is going to be stuck with just one of the buggers, as I am.
Mrs H rang me at home in the late evening with the not altogether surprising news that The Baby had been diagnosed with a recurrence of mild jaundice and that this was going to be treated by sticking him under a UV light overnight. He would be remaining in his mother’s room for this, but she did not like the idea of him sleeping in something that looked like an incubator even though, as I pointed out, that was not actually what it was. I cited the many cases of my friends’ children who had suffered jaundice and grown into fine, strapping adults. She did not seem convinced, so I did a bit of research about jaundice on the internet. The first site I looked at said that 65% of babies suffered from it; the second site claimed 90%, and that was naturally the figure I quoted to Mrs H when I rang her from our bed before going to sleep.
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