Archive for the ‘Parenthood’ Category

Birthday Hell

June 27, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks Charlie Clarke did it best on his blog. Charlie lamented the fact that everybody had a winning bout of  sexual intercourse at the same time meaning that a wave of babies arrived at the the same time and taking this further all had birthday parties at the same time. This involves a tsunami of birthday parties that paraylyse working life and involves a grotesque assault on bank accounts. Charlie was right.

Today is a Thursday. I have to collect my daughter from a birthday party in an ice rink on the other side of Bangkok. Before I do that I have to find a Playmobil pony. The expedition will take at least five hours.

Minibus to Promh Phong (30 minutes). Quest for pony (No time estimate). My bet on that horse race is that they will have run out of small horses. Further quest for pony(no time estimate). Assuming I’m a winner then I get the sky train. Seven stops later (rush hour) it’s taxi time from Udom Suk station to Mega BangNa. What a treat!   Then we have to get home and I’ll have a tired and grumpy daughter throwing up.


Tomorrow morning – yipee! – another birthday party! 9.45 AM start. That’s in Siam Paragon. Neatly seats me in the rush hour again. And I’ll have to think of something to do for the three hour party duration. No point in coming home. That would take an hour and a half. Then I’d have to go back. No point. I’ll bring a book or two and stare at a cup of Starbucks.

After retrieving my daughter (we should be back by 3 PM) there is another party starting at four o’clock.

I have to cook something for it.

Charlie had it right. Mothers and Fathers breed (it’s what we are designed for) but think tactics. Space the produce out. Even Annabel, my daughter, is finding all these parties a bit of a cluster.

On a brighter note lots of Annabel’s friends are leaving Thailand. But with light comes darkness. She’s making lots of new friends.


Argh! Hugh. Off to find a plastic overpriced pony!



The Santa Claus Predicament in Security/Tiger Territory/A tent

December 31, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog no longer believes in Santa Claus but many years ago I did. And I’m glad I did. My parents, bless them, did their best to keep this delightful illusion alive for as long as was possible and made a pretty good job of it. I can’t remember when I wised up and put childish things away and became slightly more realistic about Christmas, but my sister was younger and still believed and I played along and I’m glad that I did. Eventually, Jane, too, began to entertain doubts and the Santa Claus era died a gracious death.

It was a natural process and went smoothly. We, my brother, sister and I, loved the whole Santa Claus idea. A bit of a ritual, really. We’d borrow long Army issue socks from Daddy (they were the biggest in the house, all the better to squeeze more goodies in! Especially the satsuma at the bottom – although Doctor Who buffs will note that a satsuma saved planet earth after the good Doctor bowled it with precision on, and the alien warlord failed to catch).

We would raid Daddy’s drinks cabinet for Father Christmas sherry, Mummy would provide mince pies, and again these were destined for the jolly old gentleman.

We didn’t scatter lichen for the reindeer.

In my day reindeer didn’t have red noses, didn’t need stupid songs about them – they just hauled the sleigh got an encouraging whip and were reindeer. I knew, thanks to books, that reindeer liked lichens, but I didn’t want to strip our old apple trees of their lichens and leave them next to the mince pies and the sherry.

If they wanted to nibble away while Father Christmas came down the chimney then fair enough.

Santa Claus (Father Christmas) had a very good innings at the Paxton house – wherever it was located. England (the best for Christmas – our place has chimneys to choose from), Iran (the worst for Christmas), here, there, wherever we went Santa Claus kept coming to town.

Or a tent.

Or a Tuareg village in the Sahara desert.

This Christmas, Santa was faced with a serious set of problems.

My daughter, Annabel, aged nine, has some fairly iconoclastic friends – the sort of know it all brats who question the existence of the tooth fairy or global warming – and I sensed that Santa was coming under peer scrutiny.

The bite the hand that feeds you kind of scrutiny. Think it through, kids! If you bust Father Christmas he stops coming! Who is the winner in this scenario? You get to feel clever, smash a few younger kid’s pleasures. Santa Claus stops bringing you presents. Naughty or nice?

As we prepared to fly to India to go on a tiger safari I noted with dread that on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we would be in a tent. Nothing wrong with being in a tent (I’ve had many wonderful nights in tents) but they inhibit privacy. If I were to take Santa’s bounty into this tent it would be discovered immediately. Annabel has an exploratory streak and nothing is more swiftly explored than a tent.

Santa would be a bust.

I thought then of hiding the presents in my hand luggage/carry on but these bloody security checks, now so tiresome and repeated at airports, hotels, restaurants etc. would, I knew, sooner rather than later, involve an Indian commando or special force opening my bag and running a metal detector over Santa’s Furby and the game would be up.

Commando: “What’s this, sir?”

Me: “It’s a (nervous giggle)…hee hee (lowering my voice to a whisper) ..a Furby. Please keep your voice down. Please???”

The Commando: “Why? What do you have to hide?”

Me: “Hide? Me? Hide anything?”

Him: “You are trying to hide something, sir.”

Me: “OK. Yes. I am trying to hide something. It’s a surprise present from Santa Claus. It’s a Furby.”

Him (the un-relenting fiend): “Please come this way. Place your Furby on this scanner.”

“Daddy, Mummy’s waiting! What’s the matter?”

Commando: Is this your Furby?

Annabel: Oh, wow! A Furby! I asked Santa for a Furby! Just like that one!


We decided not to take any of Santa’s presents to our tent in India and instead relied on various lame excuses and sops such as – “Maybe your Christmas present will be seeing a wild tiger or a leopard or a gaur or crocodiles?”

They would have worked on me. Blimey! I’d have heaved the Christmas tree out of the window, chucked Dad’s socks and run like mad for the plane to get a glimpse of crocs, Kipling’s Jungle Book, sambhur, leopards.

The forests provided. After a bit of bumping about and we saw a tiger. What a thing to see! A wonderful encounter..


Hugh Paxton’s Blog: Yes, well, the tiger enchanted Annabel, and we saw so much more, enough to make anybody forget about reindeer and..andd.. but then came Christmas Eve and a rather pathetic looking little girl started telling us us how Santa had a special magic dust that could create a chimney he could climb down. Even in tents.

I had in a vague, roundabout suggestion-sort of way, said that maybe Santa couldn’t get into tents. And that he’d prefer to leave presents in Bangkok.

Annabel confounded this lame explanation by remembering (and reminding us parents) of the time Santa had not only delivered the goods in a remote wilderness area in north east Namibia but had also left a steaming pile of elephant dung beside them. (My idea) Africa being Africa, we had explained at the time, he had traded reindeer for flying elephants.

It was a rather uncomfortable Christmas Eve but we sang a couple of songs and after ten minutes Annabel keeled over. Being on safari for ten hours tends to take it out of you.

Christmas Day dawned and Annabel had a quick check of the tea biscuits she’d left out for Santa by her wish list which ended with the message

“Don’t worry if you can’t bring them because that’s alright. Thankyou love Annabel”

She tried a tea biscuit.

“These are soggy!” she said.

“No wonder he didn’t come” said I grasping at this straw.

“Did you phone your friends in Bangkok to put presents under my tree?” asked Annabel.

“Don’t be silly,” I said. “I would never do that!”

Honesty and sincerity were mine for a change. And Annabel knew it.

My wife did that. Midi is a Sphinx. No help for Annabel there.

We’re just back in Bangkok. Khun Den had put the presents just right.

Santa’s intact for the time being. But I doubt he’ll last another year. Too many children gnawing away at silly traditions and with not a lot to replace them.

But if Annabel’s had a nine year run of Santa Claus I reckon she’s done fine. When she has children of her own she’ll be up to it!



Paxton family holiday snap

November 11, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog got this family holiday snap from my sister. I’m a bit glad that I was too busy to join the holiday and relax with my loved ones. Nice photo, though!

If you’ve taken your children for a bit of R and R you’ll have probably seen worse. My sister is somewhere in the middle of the melee.


Thai Days: Aquathons! And taxi drivers!

September 25, 2012

Today my daughter had her school’s Aquathon. It’s quite tough. Eight laps in an Olympic pool followed by running round a sports field the size of Kentucky. Five times.

Understandably she wasn’t that keen to go to school.

I watched a rather wretched looking daughter bracing herself for the school bus and said, “I hate these things but if you are brave and can make it, I’ll go down to Thong Lo and buy you a prize.”

She bravely mounted the bus and off she was gone. Thus began my own Aquathon. I grabbed an umbrella that wouldn’t open then exploded in my face while I was fiddling with it in the minibus.

Thais are used to white men behaving strangely and the grim battle with the umbrella was politely ignored. A German chap, who had caught the wrong bus and who was a bit new to Bangkok kept, politely, asking “Are we there yet? Where are we?”

The driver dropped me off in a seething river that should have been a street.

I was knee deep from moment one and the umbrella was still up and umbrella-ing so I thought yes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ll wade ahead! If my daughter can make eight laps in an Olympic pool I can handle a bit of raw sewage and reach Sukhumvit!

This part of town has a large Japanese community and they all had really good golf umbrellas. Big ones. And they worked! The bastards!

Mine was from England and you would think an English umbrella might make an effort! It’s had plenty of practice!

I waded along and was delighted to see that lots of other people didn’t have any umbrellas at all.

I managed to reach a shop, bought something to justify the expedition, but the prospect of buying an Aquathon prize for my daughter from the Emporium looked suicidal. I hailed a taxi. Hailed a few more. Nobody was stopping and I couldn’t blame them. There were shrieks. A Thai girl had just fallen down a pothole. Purses were bobbing past.

The Robin Hood Pub’s lights glowed invitingly across the torrent . So near. And yet so far.

Then, joy, salvation! A taxi driver swamped me in muck and sank to a halt. I swam in and my Aquathon began properly.

The driver was built like a bullet and was a persistent fellow. Left, right, straight ahead -everywhere I looked motorbikes were going down. Sliding past. Being hauled out of grey whirlpools. Cars were giving up the ghost. The streets were jammed. My chap cursed and his car thumped and he changed lots of gears and at one point his cab floated. A bit later it was knocked about by waves. I felt as if I was in a boat. My feet flooded. Along with his car.

But he was a man who wanted to finish his mission and although it took two hours, he did.

My Aquathon was over! His was only beginning. He’d have to get his car back to high ground.

Thai taxi drivers! Those who are about to drown we salute you!

Cheers! Hugh in Bangkok!

PS I gave him one helluva, rather soggy, tip! I’m hoping he used it to buy a berth in a multi-storey car park (6th floor) and some steaming hot noodles. And my daughter came last in the swimming but second in the terrestrial marathon. She’s got the right idea. Stay out of the water! And run like hell!

Explaining Jesus and “that guy on that thing again”

August 28, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog loves my daughter and finds her opinions and comments both stimulating and thoroughly annoying. Take Tuscany for example. We were in Siena pretending to be interested in yet another church and while I was absorbed in my guidebook trying to find out whether we were in the right church and why it ought to be interesting, a voice was heard.

“It’s that guy again on the thing again.”

Everybody else in the church looked up from their guidebooks and wondered what would come next.

“That guy on the thing!”

“What guy on what thing?”

“Him! On that thing!”

Ah! I got it! Annabel was referring to Jesus (the guy) and the thing was the cross.

I explained that it was Jesus being crucified. This answer was insufficient. I tried to explain but began to flounder.I’ve got an A level in Divinity but still have no answers and  I had a dreadful fear that she might ask me what’s the big deal?

I had another look at the guy on that thing and thought let’s get the hell out of here before we really snarl up!

We made it out without further questions, thank Christ!

Next Annabel question?

“Can we have an ice cream now?”

The answer was so obvious, so simple.


If any blog reader can explain Christianity (or nine year old girls) in a couple of sentences your contribution will be greatly respected!



Thai Days: how to help a feverish child

July 3, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog was alarmed to see beloved daughter, Annabel, become feverish. Fevers here – like fevers everywhere – can be dangerous. I fed her, forced gritty medicine down her throat and took her temperature with tedious frequency. Nothing seemed to work. A friend suggested that I apply an ice cold swab to various parts of her body. I started with her groin. The results were impressive! I spent a minute wondering where to put it while preserving her dignity and thought the inner thigh might work. A miraculous recovery! I applied the ice. She kicked me in the face and almost broke my nose!

I was lucky to have the ice on hand. I think my nose and my daughter are recovering!



Leonie’s View: I-Pad (Read, then watch Video)

May 14, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog rates this techno-incompetence a classic. Mainly because it is so true. To take a case in point a friend bought his father a state of the art computer with a view to open his world to the wonders of email communication. A significant amount of money was spent, not just on the computer but on training. That was over a year ago. Since then he has received just one message from the computer whizz – “Does this work?”

I’ll say no more and hand you over to our blog correspondent, Leonie.

Read, then watch the video.

How not to use an i-Pad: The daughter asks her father if he’s figured
out how to use the iPad she gave him for his birthday , which he
affirms without question.

Leonie’s View: Why Parents Shouldn’t Text.

April 20, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog is in complete agreement – parents shouldn’t text. Thanks for this one Leonie! I’ve never texted anybody in my life. And speaking truthfully I was beginning to feel a bit out of date. This post from Leonie is a welcome reminder that you shouldn’t run before you can walk and that our children are here to outrun us anyway and that trying to keep up isn’t going to work. How to text? Nah! I shall continue to live in ignorance. If I want to say something to someone I’ll use my voice. Or the phone. Or this blog. Or an email.

All four are out of date I know. But I enjoy em and know how they work and they speak my language.


Shaun Says: Why some people have issues later in life . . .

April 20, 2012

Why some people have issues later in life . . .

Shaun’s sent this in and Hugh Paxton’s Blog is predictably reminded of English poet, Philip Larkin’s famous opening lines:

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to but they do. They fill you with the faults they had and add some extras just for you.”

I don’t think these lines apply to all the following images. But I fear for Mr. T. And those Smurfs cause me concern. To follow the rest of Larkin’s poem go to Wikipedia as usual. A British judge used the opening lines as an admonishment to parents in a divorce case.

Emailing: My girl’s photos of Japan

April 15, 2012

The first Japan holiday picks from my gals!

Yesterday they spent memorable hours visiting the graves of Mamachan’s family. I’m not sure that Annabel was initially very interested but when the relatives started giving her money she became more enthused.

She earned 15,000 yen in three hours.

That’s a month’s wage for your average Burmese builder.

After the graves they visited a forest beneath Mt Fuji famous for suicides. It is apparently THE place to go to commit suicide. Annabel joined an ecotour and was shown a hut that had just burned down. Apparently the man who wanted to commit suicide by burning himself in the hut changed his mind when it got too hot and ran away. Annabel thought that was very funny. Next she was treated to a view of a motorbike. The rider had parked and walked off into the forest and has never been seen again. Nobody has moved his motorbike. Annabel said it had lots of scratches.

At this stage of the Skype I began to wonder about the ecotour.

Annabel then waved something in a plastic bag in front of the computer camera and said it was forest fried shrimp. It looked like a curly pine cone that had been stripped of nutrients by a squirrel. For once in my life I was right! But yes, it did resemble a shrimp tempura.

The ecotour was enlivened by a herd of bosozoku – they’re Japanese delinquents who remove mufflers from their motorbikes in order to make as much noise as possible and scream and rev and hurtle around with the express purpose of annoying everybody and letting society know that they don’t give a shit.

There was a lot of ecotour educational stuff but Annabel was a bit incoherent when it came to explaining content. A lot of volcanics, island creation (Fuji is apparently part of an island chain that includes Guam), different pine tree species and then they all went down a ladder and some steps covered in ice into an ice cave. Most of my extended family fled the cave because it was very icy. And lethal.

Everybody then had a thermal bath (onsen), were served delicacies by lots of old people who run a traditional inn, spent the night in the inn, and caught eight trout which they grilled on coals after Annabel watched the fish gutted and cleaned. Annabel’s verdict “I felt sorry for the fish. They stuck a stick through its mouth and washed its guts out. It was gross.”

Fuji appeared and Annabel told me it was the biggest something in Japan. She added that peach trees were blossoming. Yamanashi is famous for peach orchards.

The chronology of this holiday is a bit muddled. My correspondent is eight years old.

But my wife and daughter have only been in Japan for three nights!

And if they’ve managed all that in such a small time, I’m bracing myself for the next email.



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