Well, folks, here it is - my 400th post. I thought I'd mark the occasion with a quick delve into the archives and an unscientific analysis of the topics of last three years (and two days) of blogging. Here are the results.
Unsurprisingly, books feature fairly regularly. I've read some, I've written a few and I hope to write more. You never know, one day I might write something that means I don't have to go back to work when Eloise starts school. The clock is ticking.
Next, comes cooking. Surpising, this one, but a fair number of my posts seem to deal with food. I've even published a couple of food vlogs - how to make the perfect spag bol and my very own recipe, Chicken a la Dotterel. But by far the largest number of references seems to be to that eternal parenting stand-by and sanity preserver. I refer, of course, to CBeebies.
Now I've something of a love-hate relationship with CBeebies. (Actually, I've something of a love-hate relationship with telly generally, but that's another story.) Anyway, I don't mind most of what CBeebies has to offer. At it's best it's educational, informative and entertaining in the finest Reithian tradition. And of course there are no ads for ridiculous, over-priced and tacky toys. At its worst, though, it can inflict otherwise unheard of levels of pain on innocent parents, as the likes of Waybaloo or Fimbles whine their way into your mind like some cruel and unusual torture long outlawed by the United Nations. Shutting your eyes at such a moment won't help; I've tried, and it doesn't. Because Alex's grin remains permanently visible, burnt into your retina and present - like the Cheshire Cat's - long after the rest of him has disappeared.
(Actually, I'm rather fond of Alex. He's a good sport. I insult him regularly on Twitter and not only does he seem to always read my tweets - he's not a follower - but he responds in perennially good humoured manner, which is more than either they or I deserve. I deserve his wrath; I deserve his anger; I deserve his vengeance. But he's not that kind of guy. He's nice. He's gentle. And he's Welsh.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. The best and worst of CBeebies. I know I'm not alone in finding the entire offering of Waybaloo insufferable. It's partly the Piplings appearance: those ridiculously large eyes, for example. But it's mainly the way they all speak in that fake 'child-like' voice and talk about themselves in the third-person. It sets my teeth on edge and - like that infernal nonsense, Fimbles - seems to have sprung fully-formed from the brain of an adult who thinks he knows how children think and speak and what they'd like to see, but who succeeds only in patronising them. That's something you could never accuse In the Night Garden of doing. Ok, it's sometimes weirder than an acid trip but the dulcet tones of Derek Jacobi ensure the programme never talks down to anybody. We also quite like Katy, and her cooking programme. Personally I could do without the guitar interludes, but Charlie likes them and she's a darned site better than Big Cook, Little Cook for certain. There's a lot to love about CBeebies really: their old Spring Song, for example. And dear old Auntie Mabel.
But you can have too much of a good thing. And what all of us CBeebies parents have in common is the problem of how to overcome the eye-glazing boredom of yet another hour of captivating (for our offspring) children's television. Well, I've come up with a solution and it's my offering to you all on the occasion of my 400th post. It's called CBeebies bingo. You download your free card (below); you watch CBeebies and you at least partially stimulate your brain cells by searching for some of the sights, sounds and solecisms I've selected. And if anyone gets a full house, I'll be awarding points. And what do points mean?
That's right. Absolutely nothing. Just like my blog stats!