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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Chapter 1 - A story about twins (and a clown called Blatter)

The Pitch
In the really annoying piece of time between Christmas and New Year - someone asked me the inevitable question about what my resolutions were going to be for the coming year. At this point I should mention that I have never been a fan of resolutions before – mainly because I struggle to stick to them. And let’s face it – any resolution which involves not eating junk food as a resolution will be broken by the end of New Years day. So my reply to this question was probably laced with some form of thinly veiled sarcasm or a generic answer like “I’m going to try and be a better person”. I’d imagine it was also followed by some form of struggling to smile smiley face. But you get the idea. I couldn’t care less about New Year resolutions – and those of you that know me will agree. Or at least that was the case until I started to think seriously about what my resolutions would be. And my list of potential resolutions was a big list. A very big list. An almost depressingly big list compared to other peoples. Whereas some people had 2 or 3 resolutions – I had 10 (In truth I stopped at 10…the list could easily have gone on and even as I write this now there are some really obvious things that I’ve left off). Was I being really picky with myself and my life? Were other people just more realistic with the number of their resolutions or did they just choose easy things (like “after taking a dump I will use toilet roll instead of sandpaper”) from their lists?

As you can probably imagine – I didn’t bother over analyzing my thoughts on the matter (much) but as you can probably guess by now – I made 10 resolutions (some of which are more like guidelines). And yes – I am going to tell you all what they are. But not yet. You see – as I mentioned before – I struggle to stick to stuff (incidentally – that would have been resolution number 11) – so how (you might ask) am I going to stick to my resolutions? The simple answer – is you. I will make myself accountable to you. But not by giving you a list and asking you to hound me. No. I’m going to write each week about my life (1 part journal – the type of which starts next week, 1 part story, 1 part question / worldly observation) - and hopefully within the journal parts (especially), stories and potentially ranty observations (spoiler alert) you will be able to work out what my resolutions are. At the end of the year – I’ll reveal the list and hopefully we can look back and see that I’ve stuck to the 10. If not – at least if I write for a year I’ll have crossed off number 11. Glass half full people…half full. I hope you join this journey with me and hopefully you’ll laugh (and maybe cry) along the way. But before we start – I’ve put together a few things you might like to know… (Which I’ll probably add to throughout the year):

  1. I will not rant about Arsenal….there are other places for that.
  2. My faith will be mentioned at times – so deal with it. What I will say though is that it’s not MY secret agenda to preach at you. Just know that He loves you. (If you have any questions about my faith – then please get in touch).
  3. I certainly don’t mean to offend – so if I do I’m sorry. I’ll add it to next year’s resolution list.
  4. This is written just as much for me as for you – A) I want to remember what I learn from the year. You know those moments where you realise something really important but then you forget. Hopefully writing this will mean that I won’t forget and can in future be a fountain of wisdom (Don’t laugh) B) I want to remember the mistakes I make so I can try and not repeat them.
  5. At times these writings will be brutally honest. I make no apologies about this – I’m just giving you a spoiler alert.
  6. Because of last year (and to give myself a fighting chance) – resolutions started on January 2nd this year….not the 1st

The Twins
Cast List:
Andy Howson – Friend, geek & colleague that will happily moan about ANYTHING. Is very fond of Strongbow and Jaegermeister – but has now started the process of giving up drinking (for four months) as a New Years resolution (although he has written some loopholes into the deal). I love having him as part of my life (although a volume button is occasionally needed). Underneath the mouthy exterior though lies a father that would do anything for his daughter and a friend who cares much more about others than he would ever let on.

Naomi Langmead – Friend & colleague that has an uncanny ability to always make you smile. Wants to marry / elope with / kidnap Johnny Depp. She’s one of the most caring people that you could ever meet and within moments of meeting her you could be telling her your life story. Despite being initially shy it’s worth noting that at times she is an utter poser. Oh – and don’t let her anywhere near technology. She will break it.

Naomi and Andy in 2010 (Captions welcome)

Earlier this year – my little sister Naomi (I appreciate this could get confusing as I’ve put another Naomi in the cast list – but rest assured the other one doesn’t appear until later) and my brother in law Sam called me with some exciting news. She was pregnant. I was going to be an uncle for the first (official) time. Cass (my wife) was going to be an auntie. Overjoyed – we started preparing to have an extended family.
A few months later I had another phone call from Naomi. My mouth opened as I listened. I was going to be a double uncle (yes – that is a real thing). Naomi was expecting twins. Excitement didn’t cover my feelings.
A few months passed by…….

In early November I received a message from Naomi after she’d had some hospital appointments. To cut a long story slightly shorter – the scans were not positive. The 2nd twin was much smaller than the 1st. The consultant gave Naomi two likely potential scenarios (to help you imagine the severity of the scenarios – in the 2nd scenario only one twin survived). We were distraught – (and if we were like that I’ve got no idea how Sam and Naomi coped) but they asked us to pray for the twins. We prayed and hoped that the next scans would be more positive.
Slowly – the scans started to bring more encouraging news. The smaller twin was growing and although the situation certainly wasn’t resolved - it was a lot better than we had hoped. The consultant decided that Naomi would have a C section on the 2nd January – over a month before the twins were due – but a safe date. We started to prepare.

On the 22nd December I had a call from my mother. Naomi had started having contractions and she had been taken into hospital. There was no further information about the twin’s health or anything. But as the 2nd January was the “safe date” and this was 11 days beforehand you can imagine the situation. To top the phone call off - my Gran had also been rushed into hospital. Shell shocked – I put the phone down and Cass started to ask me 101 questions about what was happening. Like a typical man though – I had no details about the questions she was asking. When she asked if I was ok I said that I was. My mind though was running every single scenario through my head. Not just for Naomi and the twins - but now for my Gran as well. Each question and each moment was already bringing more “What ifs” into my mind and I just needed to be able to shut down…or at least to think. I already had plans that evening to be meeting Naomi and Andy (this is where the other Naomi comes into play so keep up) for a few drinks – so rather than cancel I decided to go.

I went upstairs to get ready and all of a sudden a feeling of anger came over me. Why was this happening to my family? I felt so helpless. I don’t know what your opinion of praying is – or how you pray – but I started to rant – at God. And because I’m useless at opening up – (even to Cass sometimes) – I opened up to God in an angered volley of “if this happens” and “why!” (On reflection – it must have looked funny though). As I got out of the shower a different feeling came over me and I broke down in floods of tears.  I emerged a while later. I didn’t tell Cass what had happened (and in reading this – it will be the first time she has found out)

In the car on the way to Naomi’s house – Andy asked me what was wrong - so I told them both (talk about an evening killing moment). Without planning it though – Andy did the right thing and simply chose to ignore it as he wanted to have a good night (either that or he just knew that I didn’t want to talk about it). I finished texting the vast majority of my phone book asking people to pray for Naomi, Sam, the twins and my Gran. By the time we arrived at Naomi’s house, I’d received over 50 amazing messages back and one from my mum mixed in amongst them. Naomi (sister) had gone into labour.

At Naomi’s house – It’s fair to say that I was a mess (I have to learn that situations like this + booze do not mix). Naomi was being very careful with what questions she asked me. She could tell that the face I was wearing was my bad equivalent of a brave face. Hours passed and I hadn’t heard anything. Naomi got in a strop because “we’d hidden her camera” – only to apologise 20 mins later because she had actually put it on charge. Then my phone rang. I answered it and took in as much information as I could. My eyes started welling up again and I started to shake.
I was now an uncle to two beautiful nieces. And despite being small – both were ok. The best Christmas present ever and their safety and health is something I will forever be thankful for.  

You might ask why I didn’t mention Naomi and Andy much despite them being cast members – and you would have a very valid point. But let me tell you what I learnt in those few hours spent with Andy and Naomi that evening. A good friend knows when you want to talk and when to let you think. A good friend is with you through good times and bad - and a good friend knows when you want to have fun and when you need to have fun – even though you might not know it. The reason Andy and Naomi aren’t mentioned much is simple. They will never be able to remember what they did to help me through that night – but they will forever be remembered as part of my story for the evening. A story that I will certainly never forget.
Despite all of that though – I shouldn’t have left Cass at home alone that night. Knowing how hard I found it (even with others around) made me think about how hard it must have been for her. We are partners in life – at times I forget that. So that’s another lesson learnt.
Oh – and another one…..Fireball whiskey mixed with apple juice (whilst very nice), will leave you constantly on the toilet the next day dumping like a machine gun……. Just a heads up.

 (And a clown called Blatter)
Some of you might have heard about a story this week in which an A C Milan football player walked off the pitch after being racially abused by the fans of another side. Well - a chap called Sepp Blatter has now got involved (the president of FIFA) and whilst praising the player’s courage for walking off the pitch - he has condemned the action of it.
I was asked for my opinion on this earlier in the week – so here we go:
If Mr Blatter and his organisation actually had the balls to do something to teams with racist fans and players rather than fining them the equivalent of a packet of polo mints then players might actually start to believe that Blatter and his posse of clowns actually want to kick Racism out of football. Until then – players should be commended for taking action. 

That’s it for this week - I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Next week will feature a massive clue as to one of my resolutions so be prepared. Please feel free to send me any questions on anything that you want to ask about (I really don’t mind what you ask) and please share the chapters as we go along with your chums…. – oh and follow me on the twitter: @andifoster

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