Christmas Day

This was G's second Christmas. She's grown up a lot since last year, and was able to investigate her sack of presents for herself. She's also got the hang of the idea of taking the paper off her presents, but still needed a bit of help from me to fully get at all of her new toys.

In fact, because she still doesn't have much idea of what Christmas is and why it's incredibly exciting, G actually let me and Mrs J have a lie-in until 9am. That's something that I can't imagine we'll be able to do on Christmas Day for an awfully long time to come.

G also didn't complain as we soon dragged her away from her presents to go into our local village of Dobcross at lunchtime to check out the brass band's carol concert. As it has been for most of the last month, it was well below freezing even in the middle of the day. But under all her winter clothes, G didn't seem to mind too much.

There were quite a lot of families with young kids at the band club, many of them clutching various gadgets and other things they'd clearly unwrapped that morning. G was in the mood for showing off, and crawled all over the room smiling and gurgling. She even bumped into some of her little friends from one of the parent and baby groups I take her to. There was still no proper walking from her though.

G started to get tired so we took her back home for a nap while Mrs J cooked up Christmas dinner. Once G got up later we all sat down to eat. G had a bit of everything on her plate, and happily munched through just about all of it.

The only exception, predictably enough, were the sprouts. As soon as she put one of the little green things in her mouth she made a disgusted face and spat it out. Seeing as me and Mrs J both quite like sprouts, her dislike of them can't be genetic. Maybe we'll try them out on her again next year.

She Agrees With Nick

Today, an important political figure at the centre of intense media scrutiny met... the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick Clegg was in our area to campaign in the by-election, and I was granted an interview for Saddleworth News. Of course, G came along too.

Mr Clegg looks happy and relaxed in the photos, and he certainly seemed it in the flesh too, despite the headlines of the last couple of days. I suspect there were three reasons for this. First, unlike everyone else he met today, I didn't ask him about Vince Cable's unguarded remarks, the current strife affecting the government not having all that much to do directly with Saddleworth.

Then there's the fact that Mr Clegg has three young children of his own, the littlest not much older than G. He was clearly at ease around her, and told me he'd spent some time at home himself looking after his eldest child, adding that the experience has had a long-lasting effect on him.

If that all sounds a bit grown up, the final factor contributing to Mr Clegg's good mood was definitely G herself. She'd been a bit miserable earlier in the afternoon as I pushed her around Oldham in the cold for an interview with the Conservative Chairman (yes, G racked up two Cabinet ministers in one day). But back in the warmth she was on top form as she smiled, gurgled and pointed at the visiting dignitary, then, as the pictures show, looked expectantly at a sandwich he was eating until she got one herself.

After that it was almost a shame to actually have to do an interview. It crossed my mind that, given the impending rise in tuition fees, the man sitting next to me was as responsible as anyone for adding several thousand pounds to the cost of G's future education. But G isn't old enough to mind about that yet. And besides, he gave her one of his sandwiches, so fair's fair I suppose.

Looking at the photos later, it occurred to me that Mr Clegg might simply have been so pleased to see us because he'd seen the drool G had left on my shoulder. If he spotted it, he didn't say anything. I'm sure that's the sort of discretion he'll be urging some of his colleagues to show in future.

It'll Make Your Hair Curl

I took G to my mum's in the north east yesterday to drop off Christmas presents and show my little girl off a bit more. Sadly, her walking still hasn't improved much, so the main thing she ended up showing off was her incredible appetite.

This photo demonstrates G having breakfast. She'd already had her morning Weetabix (other cereals are available) and was agitating for a bit more, so I cut off a bit of toast for her and went back into the kitchen for a few seconds. When I returned I found that G had left the cut-off bits and just gone for the rest of the slice. She finished it all too.

As G chomped her way through the crusts, my mum said: "It'll make your hair curl." Somehow I don't think it's likely though. Her blonde hair is still as straight as can be, but then she's clearly stubborn like that.

Her extra-large breakfast probably contributed to what happened later in day. Back at home and back on the by-election campaign trail, I found myself interviewing Labour leader Ed Miliband for Saddleworth News. I managed it while holding G in one arm with my dictaphone in the other. Mr Miliband, who has a couple of children himself, seemed rather more interested in discussing G than talking about whether he would apologise for the campaign conduct of ex-local MP Phil Woolas, but then I don't suppose you can blame him for that.

As she usually does, G gurgled winningly throughout the interview. But then filled her nappy ten minutes later. She's clearly still an undecided voter.

On The Television, Again

Going on TV is becoming a bit of a habit for G. After popping up in the background of news reports about the Phil Woolas case both last month and last week, she finally got a starring role in last night's Party People political programme on Granada. I was being asked about what I thought regarding the forthcoming by-election, and G's role was to sit in my arms and look cute throughout, something she's normally fairly good at.

Unsurprisingly, she got a bit bored while I was droning on, and decided to give a gurgle or two. She then tried to grab my mouth. Presumably she wanted me to shut up. I can only hope the viewers at home weren't thinking something similar.

The show was broadcast on ITV straight after the first repeat of the Coronation Street live episode. So within minutes of all those dramatic deaths, viewers in the Granada region were being treated to the sight of me and G standing around in the cold. I think I know which was more exciting.

On The Television

Imagine my surprise last Friday when, during the lead story about the Phil Woolas judicial review on the local ITV Granada news, a familiar looking man-with-baby popped up in the background. The footage was actually taken a couple of weeks ago in Uppermill during a visit to the area by a leading politician, one of many we're going to experience in the coming weeks as a by-election looms.

Given how long broadcasters usually hang on to archive pictures for, I might find that me and G are illustrating political stories on Granada for some time to come. After all, the same poor woman's suffered years of breast cancer screening on the BBC, and I remember during my days working at Sky when someone phoned up to explain that an elderly person who featured in a report on pensioners had long since died. But that's just the magic of television, I suppose.

A Granada crew came back to film us today, only this time to do an interview for a story on the by-election to be shown on Thursday. The reporter was keen for me to give my opinion while holding G, clearly in the knowledge that would add considerable credibility to what I had to say. Unfortunately, G drooled all the way through the first take, so I had to do it again. She must have either been doing a bit more teething, or expressing her general distaste for all politicians. Sadly she didn't elaborate on which it was.

Through The Windowpane

It's been snowing a lot here in Saddleworth over the last couple of days. It's meant that me and G have been more or less stuck indoors, watching the landscape around gradually becoming whiter and whiter from the snug safety of our living room.

I couldn't resist taking her for a quick walk yesterday afternoon though. I went to the shed to get our off-road pram out, and got back to the front door to find G with her nose pressed against the glass, presumably wondering what I was doing. She seemed happy enough, but that was probably because she had no idea what I had in store for her:

When it snowed last winter and G was still a tiny baby, it was easy enough to cram her into a snowsuit and off we went. Now she's a lot bigger, and lot more fidgety, so making sure she's wrapped up as she should be is considerably trickier. Don't even ask about trying to get the wellies to stay on.

But eventually we made it out into the cold, and my off-road machine did us proud as I pushed G through the snow and down onto the canal towpath for a walk to Uppermill. She seemed happy enough although her face quickly started to glow red. Also glowing was the light of lamps from the odd house, and soon that was just about all that was visible in the murk as the daylight faded:

I imagine that scene hasn't changed all that much since the canal was built more than two centuries ago. In fact, with all the gloom and snow I thought it was all a bit Dickensian, like something out of A Christmas Carol. Although given how her parents and the rest of her family dote on her, I imagine G will have rather more stuff to enjoy this Christmas than poor old Tiny Tim did.

Wikipedia (and who could doubt the veracity of the information contained on that sage website) actually claims that the Tiny Tim character was based on the invalid son of a mill owner that Dickens knew in Manchester of all places. It's probably just a coincidence, but if I start seeing ghosts as we get closer to Christmas, I'll let you know.