The news helps me count my blessings
Right now the world officially doesn't make a great deal of sense.
For three weeks, living in these islands felt a bit like being trapped inside a sitcom which was stuck in fast forward, simply because the news came in quicker than it could be typed. Newspapers were out of date before the morning Marmite and toast could be scoffed and journalists wondered if they would ever see their beds again. As a nation we were completely obsessed with the Brexit fallout and the high drama which followed. If, during that crazy period, somebody hadn’t resigned, plotted or been sacked within a morning I felt a little short changed.
I lost count of the number of occasions I informed whoever might have been listening that we were witnessing history in the making. News nerds like me were being spoiled rotten.
But it took the horrific events in Nice last Thursday evening to jolt us from our collective naval-gazing. What happened in the South of France was shockingly brutal but almost in keeping with a truly awful year which has seen a flurry of high profile deaths, a succession of mass murders, unprecedented political turmoil and the spectre of financial instability threatening to return with gusto.
If you think too hard about the events of 2016 you are likely to do yourself a mischief - a prospect which has inspired me to focus on more mundane matters.
The clock is ticking down on the beginning of the summer holidays, a phenomenon which, hitherto, I have always managed to play a bit part role thanks to the demands of the office. But for the first time since Clearasil was my best pal I am leaving the house each morning without a tie on and having not had a shave, which would be a doddle were it not for the fact that for the next six-and-a-half-weeks I shall not only be Nappy Changer In-Chief but also the modern day Billy Butlin.
I can vividly remember my own summer holidays 30 years ago and being crushed by the fact that Woolworths launched their ‘Back To School’ range before July was out. I also recall the semi-permanent pained look on my mother’s face as she laboured in vain to entertain two truculent young brothers on a tight budget.
Until now, my stint as Mr Mum has been reasonably successful insofar as the fact that we have yet to visit A&E, I have not left either of the children in David Cameron’s local nor have I felt a burning desire to scuttle back to the newsroom. But now the serious work really begins.
Finding suitable entertainment for both a seven-year-old and a child whose party trick is lobbing dummies from his buggy is a tough ask but one I am looking forward to tackling. The past two-and-a-half months of parental leave have been enlightening to say the least.
I have learned not to feel embarrassed while speaking Moron to a baby and also that my phone isn’t the most important thing in the world (when there isn’t a breaking news story of some significance).
I realise my enthusiastic approach to a month-and-a-half without school borders on the naive but my own personal 2016 has been in stark contrast to one that many others are experiencing.
It may be the gloomiest year in recent memory but the prospect of being a hands on dad this summer trumps it all.