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By trade I am a journalist with a background in current affairs, culture, health and fitness, travel and high profile interviews. I also own and run an outdoor fitness business aimed at people that hate gyms and bootcamps (www.spartanfitnesslondon.co.uk). Most importantly though, I am on Shared Parental Leave from May 31 to October 3. Everyday from 0730 to 1800 I will be in sole charge of a real and completely awesome baby girl.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Day Three – Cult Initiation and Mushroom Slugs


JUST a quick one today, mainly because my mind is frazzled from all the activities of a Thursday but also because I've posted a picture and it paints more than a thousand words. That little idiom should be adapted. Or is it a proverb? Whatever, move on. 

Anyway, after refusing to drink an acceptable amount from the Milk Lady at 0700, the producer of bespoke milk plugged herself into the pump. Sexy little number that. Sounds a bit like a hot tub when its motor is running but there's no water in the system, and there's rotten meat clogging up the pipes. BZZZZZJJJJ, BZZZZZZJJJJJ!!!. I speak from experience*. Anyhow, that's just the sound – the actual bit of kit (Medula Swing if you're asking) is quite remarkable and ensures that a) the elixir is not wasted and b) The Producer is not engorged with concrete ballons blown up to her chin and ready to burst (painfully unpleasant by the look and sound of things). 

*of a waterless hot-tub with rotten meat, not having my breasts pumped. 

Mummy went off to work while The Lady and I had a very successful solids session. I ate all of my peanut butter on malt loaf and oat-banana milkshake like a good boy and the A-bomb absolutely demolished a steamed apple, leaving just the skin. She knew it was Thursday and needed the energy stores. After nap time we would be heading to BABY SENSORY. OMG. 

1030 start, always the same. Sleep from 0900 and have a leisurely 12-minute stroll over to the venue. Possibly have a coffee before we start. Naaaah. Not on Alexa's watch. Woke up at 1020, did a lovely smile to melt my heart, stared into my eyes and soiled herself without blinking. A super-quick change was required and a new 800-metre buggy sprint was recorded in order to be on time. There's talk of snooker being let into the Olympics – cancel that and get nappy-change-buggy-sprints in. It's what the fans want. 

I've been to Sensory before, but not as the parent in charge, just as a guest. The different roles bring hugely different levels of responsibility, not so much from the perspective of needing to keep a human alive, but more the being expected to KNOW THE SONGS and understand what the hell the hand gestures correspond to. I parked up my wheels, legged it upstairs and joined the mums on the mat. It's a common theme that all the parents are mums except me and that's not an issue in the slightest, I'm just giving context. Some body shapes and parts are different and that's about it. We all sat around the edges of this big mat with our babies in front of us, all focused on The Leader. I'm sure she has a nice title like Class Teacher but I saw her as The Leader. We started the session with what clearly is the standard opening song to begin proceedings and it was at this point at I realised that I was now part of a cult. Nobody was being asked to sacrifice themselves or do irrational things, but we were definitely in a cult. I nailed the first few lines of the song (obviously brainwashed from my last foray into SENSORY)... "say he-llo to the corn/ shi-ning down on me / I love the corn because de de mmmmm", but then I was lost. I looked around and all of the mums were in a trance, belting out the lyrics and making strange hand signs (probably signals to a higher SENSORY being) towards The Leader. I kept my cool, but was conscious that I was floundering and that if I was outed as a non-singer/non-believer I could be ejected from class or worse, exterminated. As it turned out I lived to sing another day and now simply must learn the words. In fairness the class was excellent with lots of the old classics pumped out of the speakers into the minds of this new generation – you've got your One Finger One Thumb, your Wind The Bobbin Up and the rip-snorting crowd pleaser of a headline number... The Grand Old Duke of York, with real marching around the room and throwing the baby UP on UP, DOWN on DOWN and holding them HALFWAY UP on HALFWAY UP – genius. I actually thought Alexa was going to explode with excitement. Her smile was so big it looked like her giant red cheeks might fall of the side of her face. What a little munch bunch. 

The exit from the class was quite a harrowing experience and one that I'm not quite over yet. As I plodded back down the stairs carrying my daughter I realised that in the hour we'd been closed away some sort of apocalypse had taken place with only feral beasts surviving. Shrill screams filled the air while stampeding creatures rampaged across an arena of chaos. "It's Half Term," whispered one of the mums in a petrified tone. "This is what they become". The venue caters for all ages of children. M'lady needed to be fed but that had to wait. I ran for the nearest shelter; a pub. 

We were safe. 

A long (2.5-hour) sleep at 1330 meant the last feeding session was a fast and furious affair but one that the girl embraced like a true eating champion. First some formula, which was fine. Then came the good stuff: Portobello Mushroom (my dinner), baby corn and chicken strips (my dinner). As usual she stripped the corn with gusto, coughed a bit but dealt with it. The chicken was sucked to oblivion. Then came the mushroom, which I had had my doubts about because plenty of grown adults hate mushrooms, citing reasons of texture, squeakiness or not liking the idea of eating fungus. Kind of fair points. No drama here though. She piled in as much as she could and would not stop gumming it for a good five minutes. By the time she was bored with the dark item it resembled a rather dishevelled slug. Quite often I hoover up the remains of Alexa's plate/table as extra tummy treats for myself but I'll level with you, I passed on the sluggy shroom. 

It was time to get hosed down and go to bed. 

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