Sunday, April 16, 2006

Four Days Late, Two Days Early

Every Sunday I write and submit a column to the Daily Record, Scotland’s biggest selling daily newspaper (if you ignore the report in today’s Scotland on Sunday that The Sun has taken over that title) and every Tuesday the column is printed in the paper and copied on to this website.

For reasons that will become obvious at the end of this story, I’ve decided to post the column today so that it takes its proper place on this day in history. Confused? Read on…

There has been tremendous excitement among the Sutherland clan in recent days as we eagerly await news of a new arrival. My sister is on the brink of giving birth to her second child so the family are currently indulging in their new favourite hobby of phone-staring whilst fighting the urge to call her every hour to see if there’s any news. When the phone does ring, the expectant grandparents are displaying a fleetness of foot that belies their 140 years (combined) as they rush through to the hallway screeching, somewhat obviously, “The phone! The phone!”

Being the eldest and wisest of her three brothers, I decided to take the low key approach by sending my sister a text message at the beginning of last week to pass on some words of comfort and support. It said,

“Rona. It would be ever so helpful if u could squeeze out my new niece/nephew by the weekend in order to give me something to write about in the newspaper next week. If u r currently in the delivery room, u may reply at a later time. Love, Neil. P.S. Tell that no good husband of yours I’ve forgiven him for knocking u up. Again.”

As yet, there is still no news so my focus as World’s Greatest Uncle remains directed towards my three nephews, the youngest of whom persuaded his parents to leave their home in England last week to come up for a visit. Although a mere two years old, young Fraser and I get along famously, not only because I sneak him chocolate buttons when his parents aren’t looking but also due to the fact that we have so much in common.

For example, we both enjoy getting our heads down for a quick afternoon nap whilst the adults scurry about cleaning up after us. We also have a mutual dislike for mushrooms and are not shy in making this fact known at every opportunity. And during moments of high excitement such as birthdays and Christmas, we both have a slight tendency to pee our panties.

On Saturday, I went to visit Fraser at his grandparents’ house and was looking forward to seeing what new toys he’d brought with him. Much to my consternation, his parents had decided to leave most of them at home in order to fill their limited car space with so-called essential items such as clothes and strollers. Worse still, he had been given my box of old toy cars to play with and was eager to tell me all about them.

“Uncle Neil! My car! Vrrrooom!”

“That’s actually MY 1972 Corgi E-type Jaguar,” I pointed out with a grimace. “And I don’t think granddad appreciates you bashing his head with it so maybe I should just take it for safe keeping.”

For a moment it appeared as though an ugly standoff might ensue however tensions eased quickly after the distribution of a few well-timed chocolate buttons. With the concept of sharing now cemented, the rest of the afternoon passed without major incident but signs of tetchiness reappeared later at the dinner table. As the steaming bowls of risotto were passed around, a howl of disapproval rang out across the room.

“Aw mushroom. I NO LIKEY.”

“Be quiet Neil,” snapped my mother. “What type of example is that to set to Fraser?”

I sat sedately for the remainder of the meal, hiding the mushrooms under my cutlery and thinking about how I’d be a great uncle to my new niece or nephew. I’d love to outline my strategy in more detail but there’s a ringing noise downstairs so if you’ll excuse me, I better go.

“The phone! The phone!”

I didn’t know it at the time but at the precise moment I was making up and typing those last two sentences (4.30pm), my new baby niece (7lbs 8oz, no name as yet) made her first appearance into the world and immediately asked why her favourite Uncle Neil wasn’t in attendance.

“He has to work on Sundays dear,” assured my sister in between gasps from the oxygen mask. “But he’ll be bringing you chocolate buttons soon.”


At 17/4/06 5:10 pm, Anonymous wendi said...

i'm still waiting for my email from you with the iternerary for arizona!!! ;-)~


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