National Identity

One of the questions in last weekend's census was about national identity. Specifically, it asked which nationality you would describe yourself as. Even though we've both lived in England for more than a decade, I put Scottish, and Mrs J went for Welsh.

We also had to fill out the form for G. Having been born in England, she's got a reasonable claim to three separate national identities. However, she's not nearly old enough to make a considered judgement about which she prefers, let alone tell us about it. So I just ticked the box marked British.

But then, in the post this morning came a Welsh rugby jersey sent by my mum, and which G has been modelling all day. Although I doubt that simply liking the shirt makes her definitively Welsh. And besides, as someone who was born in Lancashire but who lives in Yorkshire, G's allegiances are even more confusing than at first glance. I think she might find that British remains the best description.

Cold Turkey

Some people are funny about giving dummies to babies. When G was a few days old and constantly making a sucking motion with her mouth even after being well-breastfed, the visiting midwife was a bit reluctant to tell us to use them. Lacking sleep, we weren't bothered at all, and G has been sleeping happily with the aid of dummies more or less ever since.

But you can't keep giving your baby a dummy forever. I stopped carrying them around ages ago, because I didn't want to keep giving them to G, only to one day send her off to school and realise that she was still sucking away. I don't find much embarrassing as a parent, but that's something that I would very much like to avoid.

So, even though G has only been using dummies during her afternoon nap and at night for a long while, I think it's time to get rid of them altogether. Dummies are for babies after all, and with G 18 months old today and toddling around happily, she's definitely not a baby anymore.

And the early signs are that going cold turkey might just work. G has just had her first dummy-free afternoon snooze and, although it took her a while to drift off, she managed it eventually. Her continuing obsession with shoes might be harder to shift, though.


G had her first-ever haircut today. For a while her hair's been growing at an alarming rate. Where once there was just a bit of fuzz, now there's a big blonde mop, so much so that the easiest way to pick her out of a room full of little ones is to look for her hair, which is much longer and thicker than everyone else's.

So I took her into the Northern Quarter salon where Mrs J was having hers done this afternoon, and sat with her on my knee as the hairdresser gave G a trim. She sat quietly throughout, and looked more puzzled than anything else. G's reward is that she now has a fringe, which also means her hair isn't constantly in her eyes and I don't have to fidget around with hairclips, so it's good news all round.

Later we went along to Oldham's Twestival, a charity fundraising event with various child-friendly entertainment on offer. G was particularly pleased with the balloon which the clown modelled for her, even though to me the pink "flower" looked decidedly more phallic than anything else.

In fact, G liked it so much she refused to let it go, even when she met a new friend, Oldham Athletic mascot Chaddy The Owl:

The mascot seemed very taken with my little girl. But given Oldham's current form, meeting G may be the first thing Chaddy has had to smile about in quite a while.

Proper Photo

I don't really like having my picture taken. This probably offers a clue as to why I've never become a fashion model, although it doesn't explain why G enjoys being in front of the camera so much, something demonstrated by the smiles which are in just about all the pictures on this blog.

One of the businesses at yesterday's shop local festival in Uppermill was a photographer, Jude Gidney. After agreeing to do an interview for the next Saddleworth News TV bulletin, she suggested she'd take a quick snap of me and G in the little portable studio she'd set up in the corner of the Civic Hall. For once I think I look fine in it, although G seems keen to get back to toddling around.

Having avoided doing photoshoots with G up to now, this means I've now ended up doing two in a month, following this one for the Sunday Times. Still not sure I like looking at photos of myself much, but if G grows up to be a bit vain, then at least I'll know where it all started.

In The Crowd

There was a festival of local shops and businesses at Uppermill Civic Hall today, so the three of us all went along. There were dozens of stalls packed in, and lots of people milling around, but G wasn't fazed by the crowd, and happily went toddling around.

In fact, she was toddling around a bit too well, and it was difficult to keep track of her at times. She wasn't really in the mood to be carried either, and every time I picked her up she soon started fidgeting until I put her down again.

When I went to the tombola the woman behind the stall gave one of her balloons to G to tie round her arm. This didn't have the effect of slowing her down much, but at least it gave me a better idea of where G was heading whenever she trotted off. I think some kind of permanent contraption to help me keep an eye on her might be needed soon. Preferably one with flashing lights and a siren.


"Shoes" is one of G's favourite words. Given that it's one of the few words she can say in the right context, it can't really be anything other than one of her favourites. But she certainly seems to enjoy saying it.

G especially enjoys saying "shoes" while putting her feet into a pair of my size 13s, as shown in the picture. She's taken to dragging any shoes she can find into the middle of the living room floor, before trying to put them on.

She even managed to get both of her wellies on just before her bath the other night. It seemed a shame to have to take them off again, especially as she was about to get wet. Clearly that was the logic which was at work in her little mind when she decided to put them on in the first place.

Back To School

I was invited to talk to a class of children at one of the local primary schools today about what it's like to be a journalist. I'd actually been to the class once before, during the by-election campaign when the youngsters were visited by all the main candidates. Before getting there today, the teacher told me that the kids remembered me. Well, they remembered G, who had spent much of my previous visit crawling around causing chaos.

The only difference this time was that she can now walk around, which meant she was harder to keep track of than ever as I got ready to give my talk. I decided it would be better to strap G in to a chair and give her some food to keep her quiet as I started speaking. This worked for a while, but when it came to ask the children if there were any questions and some of them started putting their hands up, G copied them. When everyone laughed, G obviously thought this meant she was doing something very clever, and kept giggling and putting her hand up.

And so, not for the first time, she managed to completely upstage me. But given the choice between cooing at a toddler or having to suffer someone chunter on about being a reporter, it's not too difficult to see why.

Red Nose Day

Now that G's ability to toddle around on her own has increased, so too has the likelihood of her hurting herself. Yesterday, she was wobbling around on some concrete when she lost her balance and fell flat on her face, scraping all the skin off her nose. Once she'd stopped crying and got cleaned up, her nose was bright red against her pale face, making her look a bit like the world's youngest alcoholic.

Mrs J took this picture during G's bath last night. Evidence of why it's a good idea to learn how to break a fall using your hands.


We haven't got round to giving G a proper haircut yet, so it's actually starting to get quite long. Long enough for Mrs J to try her out with bunches, anyway. I think her hair could do with being a bit longer still before G can really carry this look off, but she certainly seems pleased with it. Maybe it's because it makes her look like a girl. If it can have that effect without her being slathered from head to toe in pink sparkly stuff, then so much the better.