Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Why the family holiday fills me with dread.

It's that time of the year again. Families all over the world are preparing for their Summer holiday. Whether it be the Seychelles, Centre Parks or a caravan in the car park of a pub, families everywhere are about to spend their hard earned cash on a well deserved break.

The majority look forward to this annual excursion. However I can honestly say the family holiday fills me with dread.

I read a lot of blogs and I follow twitter religiously. The themes tend to be the same. Parents who tweet or write about family holidays describe an overwhelmingly positive experience. This suggests one of two things. Either people who have a shit time are keeping it to themselves or *gulps* I'm firmly in the minority and most people do actually have a nice time on holiday.

This is where I find things a little difficult to understand. Lets look at the evidence by describing a typical Hapless Dad family holiday.
  • Leave booking holiday to last minute. Have no money so have to put on credit card along with the honeymoon we are still paying for from 8 years ago.
  • Leave all packing to the last minute. Run around house like lunatics throwing things in bags and suddenly realising one or all of us doesn't have an up to date passport.
  • Drive away from house in fit of anger and packing induced stress. Suddenly remember we haven't arranged kennels for the dog. Go back to house, get dog and drive to any number of kennels to find last minute place. Very quickly forge vaccination forms to avoid refusal.
  • Drive away from kennels. By now kids are arguing over *insert reason here* which lasts several hours.
  • Arrive at airport at required 2 hours before flight. Now have 2 hours to kill in most child unfriendly place on the planet.
  • Have a beer, for breakfast.
  • Plane delayed for one hour. Not long in the grand scheme of things but long enough for the kids to be swinging from the chandeliers. Stare in wonder at families with well behaved kids. Move to sit next to scouse family with tattoos to feel slightly better about ourselves.
  • Go to Smiths in duty free lounge to go through charade of buying a book I wont have time to read.
  • Board plane. Sit behind old couple who have specifically requested extra leg room seat for some comfort and peace. They request to move 13 seconds later after son repeatedly beats them over the head with the safety card.
  • Unable to keep kids corralled in seat. Walk up and down the Isle all the way to Tenerife. Plan for portable DVD player doesn't work as forgot to charge.
  • Arrive at sunny destination. Wait 40 mins for educationally challenged holiday rep to get her arse in gear. Wait another 40 mins for scouse family to finish their cider and purchase of duty free fags. Kids now crying, loudly.
  • Arrive at resort. Queue at reception to check in whilst kids re-enact scenes from gladiator using the pot plants as cover. 
  • Get to room. Unpack. kids want to head to pool straight away but all available sun loungers have been reserved since 4am despite notices advising the contrary. Walk to the pool area through groups of families that have been there a week and have made 'friends'.  Find ant infested patch of grass and lay towels down. Hot sun reflects off our gleaming white bodies causing temporary blindness in other guests. First sun burn end of day one.
  • Settle in to holiday routine. Up, breakfast, pool, snack, pool, lunch, pool, snack, pool, back to room. Get ready for evening meal. Go to local bar run by grumpy Welshman who went abroad for life of sunshine but actually spends 14 hours a day in sweaty kitchen cooking fry ups. Only people in bar/restaurant as couldn't keep kids entertained in room any longer so have gone out to eat at 5. Back to room. Kids in bed at 8. They are sharing a room so don't go to sleep till midnight while wife and I cram in as much booze as humanly possible before bed. Decide not to have kids sharing room tomorrow night. Wife and I spend rest of holiday either sharing with small girl who sleeps horizontally across the bed or small boy who is so wriggly it's like sleeping with Michael Flatly. Kids excited to be on holiday so wake up at 5. Find ways to corral them in room until reasonable hour so as not to wake other guests. Fail miserably. Loose temper due to stinking hangover.
  • Repeat until end of week/fortnight.
  • Check out of room at 10am. Desperately find things to do to occupy kids until midnight flight. Run out of Euros mid morning.
  • Finally board flight after going through same airport nightmare but in an airport that has even less facilities than the one you flew out from.
  • Board midnight flight. Booked specifically so kids will 'sleep'. They don't. They keep everyone on the flight awake whilst slowly and steadily losing the plot due to ludicrously late hour.
  • Arrive at home airport. Wait 2 hours to collect bags as children cry, loudly. Get in car. Children fall asleep immediately to ensure they won't sleep when you get them home.
  • Arrive home, battle with kids to get them in bed. slump in chair and resolve never to go on holiday again.
  • Forget experience in preparation for booking next year.
An absolute nightmare. Lets be honest. The problem is what is the alternative? You could stay at home and do day trips. We all know that the result will be the same but a week of day trips in the UK will cost you more than a round the world cruise. You could holiday in the UK. However you will have to pack every item of clothing including swimsuit, hats, sunglasses, sun tan lotion, coat, wellies, scarf, gloves and thermal underwear. This will result in you having to buy a roof box just to go away for a week to somewhere an hour from your house.

Let me be very clear. I am willing to believe that it is possible to have a nice family holiday. I read about them all the time. But to me, nice family holidays are a bit like God - People talk about it but I have no actual evidence that it exists.

Anyway only 3 days to go. Good luck everyone.

Hapless Dad.

Friday, 26 July 2013

10 great ideas for a thrifty summer

I'm one week in to the summer holidays and I have finally discovered an exciting and innovative way to get some peace and quiet. I've bought a trampoline. I'm sure many of you have such contraptions in your garden. You know the sort of thing. A large bouncy area with a flimsy net around it to make it slightly less of a death trap.

Of course all my neighbours have one too. This means that whilst I can avoid their horrible children normally I now have to watch them appearing above my fence every couple of seconds in varying states of undress.

It won't matter once your friends come round for a barbeque. Once you are all plastered someone is bound to have a go paying scant regard to the 10 stone weight limit. This will render the afore mentioned trampoline inoperable for the summer. It will also continue the 'broken equipment' design theme in your garden along with the tadpole infested paddling pool and the swing ball set with no ball, or bats.

The thing is trampolines are expensive and budgets are tight for us all these days. So if you are struggling financially and can't afford to have another trampoline wrecked by 'fat Dave' you'll need some top quality advice. As if my magic here are my 10 top tips for a thrifty summer.
  1. Instead of taking picnics to the park encourage your children to make friends. Once they have found some little chums, sneak off. The other family will feel duty bound to feed them, especially when they start to faint off.
  2. Collect some scrap metal and blag your way onto a traveller site near your home. This will give your kids a fantastically cheap caravan holiday and allow you to make some extra money bare knuckle boxing.
  3. Avoid the expense of buying lollies for hot days by letting your children lick the inside of the freezer.
  4. Camping is an excellent way to have a cheap break. Replicate it at home by going to the toilet in a bucket and letting all your neighbours see you in your pyjamas.
  5. Join a cult. Entry is always free and they tend to have organised activities. Leave the day before the mass suicide unless you really can't cope with the holidays.
  6. Joining the Scouts or the Cubs is a great way to entertain your kids over the summer but it is expensive in both time and money. Give your kids the same experience at little or no cost by sending them into the woods with a recently released paedophile to set fire to things.
  7. Summer clothing can be expensive. Use waterproof body paint as a cheap and fun alternative to swimming costumes.
  8. Spend time with 'Stepford mums'. Whilst we all know they are surviving on anti depressants and affairs with the gardener their monstrous ego will still force them to spend time baking and building dens with your kids to show how good they are. You can read their copy of the Daily Mail while they get busy thus saving even more cash.
  9. Swimming is a great summer activity for kids. Enjoy it for free by allowing your children to swim in reservoirs, disused quarries and canals. If you feel this is a little dangerous, your local sewer system provides an excellent alternative.
  10. A summer play scheme is a great way to keep your kids occupied. You can recreate this for next to nothing at home. Recruit a group of disinterested teenagers and some teachers with large gambling debts to shout at your children in your back garden.
Hopefully my advice has been useful. The summer is an expensive time for us all but it doesn't need to be. Follow my advice and you'll give your kids a holiday to remember without breaking the bank.

Happy Holidays

Squadron Leader Hapless Dad VC, DFC, OBE, PAYE

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Essential products for the new dad

The news is alive with excitement after the arrival of the new heir to the throne. At Hapless Dad we know that some of the Royals are our most avid fans. Therefore it seems sensible to pass on some vital advice to the new dad.

Lets be honest you can find all the information you want on non essential items such as prams, nappies and bottle warming thingies. But what are the real essentials that any dad will need to get over the early stages of fatherhood? We review the best.

Protective headgear.
This seems like an odd suggestion I know. However, generations of Dads have woken up dazed on the floor of Edershaws with a lump on their head the size of Bournemouth after finding out the cost of a cot. Wear protective headgear at all times, and specifically during outings to Mothercare. The first time you are asked to hand over your credit card to buy shoes............ FOR A BABY, this will be worth its weight in gold.

You may think that the carefree, and rather athletic, sex life you enjoyed before the kids will continue. Think again. Sex after children is as rare as hen's teeth, and just as painful. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly you will both have had less sleep than an orange jump suited guest at Guantanamo Bay. Therefore a 30 second bunk up will seem like crossing the Sahara on a space hopper. Secondly, if you were to approach your wife's, previously rather dishy, nether regions you will feel like the first on the scene at a terrorist attack. Any number of lollipop stick sized splints will not help you to over come this. Remember, child birth is essentially like passing a bowling ball through your nostril. Damage can be significant. The extensive use of pornography will ensure you don't upset your wife or start being creepy with teenage girls who work in shops at the weekend.

A large bottle of Glenfiddich
You may feel too tired to drink but trust me, this is a mistake. Drinking continuously will help you to see the funny side of the mad world in which you have been suddenly deposited. It will also help you to fall into a drunken snooze at will. Babies keep odd hours so you need to grab the opportunity for some kip when you can. Any beverage will do of course. I have suggested whiskey because of its similarity to tea without milk. This enables you to become a functioning alcoholic without anybody noticing.

A pet
Not just any pet. It has to be something your wife will hate like a rat or an Iguana. The key point here is pecking order. You may have been best friends before the birth. I can assure you that when that little bundle of joy arrives you will slip further down the pecking order than Garry Glitter on the bookings list for Children in Need night. Having a pet your wife hates will keep you from the bottom of the table thus preventing relegation.

An industrial strength shredder
This is specifically for Dads with their first child. Everyone knows that subsequent babies can take up smoking without you noticing. However, when you have your first, every single aspect of the rearing of that child is analysed and stressed about. As a result, bookshops are jam packed with publications designed to tell you how to raise your child. Your wife will buy hundreds of them. These books are the devil's work. As adults we assume that everyone is different and yet all babies are expected to be the same. If you are not careful some flip flop wearing mentalist will have you feeding your baby blended sirloin steak and guava halves whilst trying to teach it Sudoku. And don't even get me started on baby signing. Babies have been communicating with their parents quite perfectly for thousands of years before someone invented this idea. I once knew a child who was so dependent on baby signing that he was still making the sign for milk well into school age. Shred, shred and shred again!! Your wife will wonder where the books have gone but you can blame her baby brain. You will also have tonnes of top quality bedding for Iggy the Iguana.

A second world war gas mask
You may think you can cope with bodily secretions. It is likely that, once you have reached a certain age, you have probably had to deal with your own sick and have probably pooed yourself. Most likely at the same time. This will not prepare you for the smell of digested baby formula and Annabel Carmel recipes. A gas mask will help to ensure that the contents of your stomach stays where it is supposed to be.

An ipod
This is only to be used when you are on your own with the baby. Your wife and her friends will think that every single movement of the baby is an event. They will stare and ooh and ah and giggle and make funny noises for hours on end. You are a man! Therefore babies are boring as shit! Your son will get interesting when he can play rugby to a good standard. Your daughter will get interesting when she brings her hot college friends to stay over the holidays "oops sorry lovely I didn't realise you were changing!" Up until that point you need to be entertained whilst looking after your baby in a range of places where a Sopranos box set is not an option.

A set of golf clubs
Everyone will tell you that you need time to yourself when a new baby is born. Up until now you have had a quick game of squash and rushed home to your lovely wife. Now is the time to take up golf. God knows it's barely a sport but the idea of spending 8 hours standing in a country park on your own will start to look pretty attractive by about week 2.

A large man bag
As a new father you will continually question the ten tonnes of crap you have to carry around every time you go out as a family. When you are out on your own you can feed your children in pubs and used beer mates as nappies but when your wife is there you will have to carry 'the bag'. It will be a flowery bag, possibly with a cuddly bear on. However your wife will make you carry it. Suggesting it is left at home will not work. The only solution is to buy your own.

Hopefully these products will help you get through the first few months of parenthood. I wish you the best of luck.

Lt Col Hapless Dad CBE

Friday, 19 July 2013

Top tips for surviving the summer holidays

Ah, the summer holidays. A blissful 6 weeks of glorious sunshine and lazy days. A chance to spend some real quality time with your gorgeous children without the intrusion of school.

oh, hang on. I think I dropped off then *removes dribble from chin*. What was I doing? Oh yes, writing a blog post. Lets start again!

Aaaarrrghh the summer fucking bollocking arseing holidays. A nightmare of nearly 7 weeks of pissing rain and domestic slavery. A daily challenge to find activities which require as little work as possible on your part whilst waiting for teaching staff to come back from French campsites and give you some free childcare again.

Here at HD we feel your pain and we understand your plight. So, as if by magic, here are our top tips for surviving the summer break.

  1. Under no circumstances go on holiday. Holidays with kids are shit. They don't respect your sangria induced hangover and you spend the entire week eating in empty restaurants ludicrously early while your partner walks round and round the car park with a push chair. If you think it will be easier with older children think again. Your 12 year old daughter will spend the week fawning over foreign waiters and being ogled by local criminals and your 10 year old son will become extremely friendly with 'the swearing family'.
  2. Use the £3,000 you would have spent on your week in Majorca to hire a Porsche. This may seem like a waste of money. However for one whole week you can drive up and down the motorway in a supercar while your kids sleep peacefully in the back.
  3. Watch Ground Hog Day. This will prepare you for doing exactly the same every day and hopefully help you to see the funny side of the fourth trip to the park that day.
  4. Start drinking in the morning. Firstly this will help you to feel like you are on holiday. Secondly you will inevitably pass out on the sofa in the afternoon sleeping blissfully through the mayhem until your partner returns from work.
  5. Buy your kids an Xbox. They will start playing in July and emerge from their urine soaked pit 6 weeks later having lost the use of their legs and developed massive thumbs. Tell the school it's a medical disorder so they don't think you are a bad parent.
  6. You will be asked to join friends for a day out with their kids. Don't do it!! Trying to relieve the stress of your kids by spending time with more kids is the equivalent of trying to recover from an alcohol addiction by drinking four times as much as usual.
  7. Plan several visits a week to relatives houses. Ask them to watch the kids for 10 minutes and then fuck off for three hours. Blame a traffic jam outside Sainsburys. "There must be a sale on or something??"
  8. When you partner comes home from work, let her catch you sat in front of a webcam wearing her underwear. This will result in a trial separation. If you time it right you will get 6 blissful weeks in a B and B and be back in the house by September. Warning: This should only be attempted by experts who are 100% sure their partner has no secret perversions. If you get this wrong it may result in you spending the summer at home and having to make love in a Marks and Spencer's bra and thong set for the next 20 years.
  9. Get involved in a charity event for a worthy cause. Specifically something that will take approximately 6 weeks like climbing Kilimanjaro or crossing the Sahara on a unicycle. No partner in their right mind can refuse this one because of the charity element. This is key. If you suggest going to Australia to watch the Lions it will not have the same result.
  10. Enrol your kids in summer school. On the face of it this may seem expensive. However I can guarantee that 6 weeks of intensive maths coaching will cost less than one trip to the sea life centre in Weymouth. It will also give the impression that you are giving your kids the best possible education. Don't worry if your kids are thicker than a whale omelette and think geometry is a star sign. The summer school will keep that to themselves just in case you stop paying them.
Hopefully our advice will help you get through the summer. If not, a full course of incredibly strong anti depressants will have you flying through the summer like a particularly jolly balloon. You may not feel that persuading your doctor you are depressed is morally acceptable. News flash! If you are a parent you are already depressed so just book the appointment and let the Doctor find out for herself.

Have a fantastic summer and good luck.

Hapless Dad.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Asbo Darren and the Dinosaur Crack Dealers

Asbo Darren was in school colouring a picture of a Dinosaur. Darren loves Dinosaurs. He was just finishing his picture when he realised he had run out of colours.

"Give me your fookin colours man", said Darren to his friend Clint. "I've got a fookin blade".

"Miss, Miss", said Clint. "Darren said he's going to cut me!."

"Oh Darren", said Miss Apathy his teacher. "There are plenty of colours in the store cupboard. Go and have a look".

Darren got up from his chair and whispered in Clint's ear "you're dead at playtime" and he walked across the classroom to the store cupboard.

As Darren opened the store cupboard door he could hear a sniffling, crying sound coming from the back. He moved closer, wondering where the noise was coming from. Right in the deepest darkest corner he found Leon who had been locked in there some weeks before. Miss Apathy had assumed he had moved schools but hadn't bothered to check. Leon was the school drug dealer. Darren loves drugs.

"What you cryin about bitch?", asked Darren.

"My stash has been robbed", said Leon, sobbing with all his might. "Will you help me to find it?"

Darren thought for a moment. "Yeah man, for a cut!", he laughed. "But who's stolen it?"

"Fuck knows", said Leon. "One minute I was making some real cash money. Next thing I heard a massive scary roar and the overpowering sound of speed garage. That was the last thing I remember. I woke up with little or no taste in music and my stash was gone."

Just then a secret door opened at the back of the cupboard and Darren and Leon were transported to the bottom of a rubbish shoot in an old school housing project.

"Chill blood, we'll find who stole your stash and when we do I'm going to bust a cap in his ass". said Darren.

The two boys twisted their baseball caps to a jaunty angle, pulled their trackies down so that they were only just held up by regular clenching and strutted out into the open. As they turned a corner, in between the garages and the off licence they heard a massive roar. The unmistakable sound of speed garage got louder and louder and louder.

There they were. Crack dealers. But not just any crack dealers. They were crack dealing Dinosaurs. Have I mentioned Darren loves dinosaurs? There was a crack dealing Diplodocus, a crack dealing Triceratops and sat, in the front of his three series was a massive crack dealing T Rex.

"Lets fuck them bitches up!" said Darren. "It's drive by time".

Leon punched a passing 8 year old and stole his BMX. Darren removed his piece from the sagging waistband of his trackies. The two boys got on the bike, excited at the thought of their adventure.

As they cycled slowly towards the sound of speed garage anthems 2013, the crack dealing Dinosaurs spotted them and let out the scariest roar.

"Attack", screamed Darren. Leon pedalled as fast as he could.

Darren turned his glock to a rap video inspired angle and fired indiscriminately. As rounds bounced off the body of the three series the Dinosaurs fired back.

Their aim was good but Darren's was better. As they got closer and closer the Diplodocus and the Triceratops ate lead big time. But the T Rex was still firing. Just then his oozy jammed and Darren and Leon took their chance. They pounced upon the T Rex and using all their strength, tied him to the steering wheel.

"You is bang in trouble now hoe!" said Darren. "No one take's Leon's stash and gets away with it."

"Please don't ice me!", sobbed the T Rex. It isn't my fault. I'm a product of my environment.

"Too late", said Darren and he emptied his glock into the body of the T Rex. "Leon, grab the stash you prick!".

Just as Darren and Leon cycled away with the sound of five o sirens in the distance there was a loud bang and a massive flash of light. As they slowly regained their sight, they found themselves back in Miss Apathy's store cupboard where the whole, amazing adventure had started.

"Where on earth have you boys been", said Miss Apathy looking up from her copy of Heat magazine. "Leon??, I thought you'd left to live in Skegness?".

"Nothing Miss", Said Darren. "Just finding some coloured pencils".

The boys giggled as they sat back down and began to chat about their next adventure, doing that bitch Clint at playtime!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

50 Shades of Sod All - Chapter 1

His eyes opened. The peace of the early morning filled the still air. The only sound was the rustle of the seagulls attacking the bins on the pavement.

As he slowly gained consciousness he was vaguely aware of the perfect dream he had just had. He never got to the end of the personalised weather forecast from Carol Kirkwood off the telly but the sexual tension was so thick he could almost taste it.

"I'll give you, 'front of low pressure moving in from the west'", he thought to himself.

He knew he had to release the pressure that was building up in his throbbing, ridiculously large and attractive manhood.

He checked the date on his Rolex. His birthday wasn't for some months yet, but it was worth a try.

He turned slowly, towards the snoring.

They'd agreed some years before to always sleep facing away from each other. It did mean that during the night the hair on his back was disturbed regularly by the ladylike expulsions of wind from his darling wife. They both agreed this was a better option than the minor earthquake effect of her snoring removing his fillings like the most perfect, sweet and delicate pneumatic drill.

He made his move. He began to slowly and gently stroke her back. Her skin was so perfect and smooth. He loved it and knew in his heart that the £500 tub of body butter was worth every penny. As his finger nails gently moved across her back the snoring became a guttural, hacking cough. He knew she was awake.

"What time is it?", she grunted sweetly.
"It's 5.30 my darling", he purred seductively, "I've had another Kirkwood"
"For fuck's sake let me go back to sleep you arsehole!", she replied in a loving and supportive way.

He smiled to himself. He knew this tactic well. He knew she wanted him right there, right then but this was her way of increasing the excitement, of raising the tension to almost bursting point. He loved that about her.

He tried again, at regular 10 minute intervals from 5.30 until 7am.

At 7am she revealed her true, unbridled desire for him.

"Ok, ok but be quick", she whispered, "I'm having my upper lip waxed at 9".

The flood gates opened. Her took her in his strong and arms and pulled her towards him with an almost animal aggression. She groaned with pleasure, although it could be pain as she had a dodgy back. He never knew which.

As their bodies were joined together as one, writhing in unbridled passion in the early morning sun, the door creaked open. Their daughter came in on all fours.

"Mummy, can you wipe my bottom", she pleaded.

As the smell of toddler pooh filled the warm air they fell into a crumpled heap on the bed. Laughing and giggling at the joy of the precious gift of children.

His once, ramrod of a member became flaccid as the day he was born as he shuffled bleary eyed from the bedroom, ready to clean up the contents of the bin from the pavement outside.

Chapter 2 coming soon..................................

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

HD's guide to male grooming

Recent figures suggest that, on average, men spend approximately £284 per year on grooming products. At HD we move with the times. So here is our definitive guide to male grooming, for men. Follow this guide and you'll be looking good well into your 20s. Beyond that, I cant help you.

Note of caution: Before embarking on this guide add up the cost of your partner's beauty regime. If it is somewhere near four figures and she still looks like a bag of spanners then think twice!!

This kind of product is designed to keep your skin smooth and younger looking. It should be applied morning and night and after events that may dry your skin out. These events could include showers, exercise, sunshine or a 48hour drinking bender. Either way if you are not careful your skin will begin to resemble a nomad's flip flop. If you wish to venture into the world of moisturiser you may be tempted to steal some of your partners. DON'T!! She may be keeping this information from you but I can guarantee your partner's moisturiser was more expensive than unicorn tusks. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives on the market. Our recommended product is Lurpack (unsalted). It is about £250 cheaper than an upmarket moisturiser, lasts longer and is multi functional.

Hair care
Real men are bald. Fact! Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Jason Statham, Sinead O'Connor, the list is endless. Compare this with men with full and luscious locks such as Boris Johnson, Liberace and Elton John. If you are going bald, embrace it. Don't stop at a grade 1 or 2, grab a razor and shave it to the bone. This has a number of advantages. Firstly it will improve your swimming times by reducing drag. Secondly the shine from your head can be used to attract rescue helicopters in the event of a plane crash in the desert. Thirdly you WILL become more popular as your mates will be desperate to slap your head in a comedy manner trying to replicate a sketch from Benny Hill. There are some disadvantages. Two days after you've shaved, the stubble on your head will make it almost impossible to put on a t-shirt as it will get stuck like you are wearing a Velcro suit. You will also have to baste your dome in ambre solaire even in the depths of winter. If you have hair you have my sympathies - however the simple rule is, just copy exactly what David Beckham is doing and you won't go far wrong.

Facial Scrub
When I searched for this on google I was presented with a range of rather 'specialist' web sites. Never the less it is nothing to do with s and m. It is in fact a product designed to cleanse your skin and make it as smooth as a babies bottom. Taking that to it's logical conclusion it would appear that the secret to clean smooth skin is to wear a nappy on your head at night. However this may be impractical. A facial scrub is basically soap with grit in it. A premium product can cost upwards for foomphty gazillion pounds. Save money by using fairy liquid and mixing in some of the little stones from the bottom of your fish tank.

Facial hair
If you can't be bothered to shave, now is your time. Even handsome men don't shave these days. However there are some rules. A small amount of stubble makes you look rugged and manly. A full, bushy beard makes you look like a cross between Brian Blessed and a serial killer. If you are an actor/mountaineer or you prey on prostitutes along the M4 corridor then let your beard flow and prosper. If not keep it to a few days growth with a good quality stubble trimmer. There is a cheaper alternative which has an additional benefit. Just wet shave as normal but don't leave the house until two days afterwards. This will mean you can only venture out 3 days a week which may have work implications, but the drop in salary can be offset by the considerable cost saving of not using a trimmer.

Body hair
Any man will know that the real irony of getting older is that, as the hair on your head gets less and less so the hair everywhere else on your body flourishes like Monty Don's rose bushes. There are some rules for keeping this in check. Firstly nasal hair and ear hair must be trimmed. The reason for this is eventually the mini afro growing out of these critical body parts will begin to effect your hearing and sense of smell. All other body hair should remain as god intended. At some point, possibly during your midlife crisis, you will be tempted to trim or indeed shave the hair around your genitals. Do not fall into this trap. Male genitalia is incredibly ugly whatever you do to it. So you have a choice. Either leave it and risk your genitals looking like a very old David Hasselhoff or shave and risk your genitals looking like the last chicken in Sainsburys. Your choice.

Ear rings: Unless you are a pirate or a teacher in an inner city comprehensive ear rings are not required.

Watch: Real men have a watch, despite the ever present mobile phone with the time on it. Pick something classic for everyday and something sporty for the weekend. I have nine watches, which hints at latent homosexuality, so don't over do it.

Tattoos: Everyone below the age of 25 has a tattoo. Beyond that, only have a tattoo if you are a sailor, a Glaswegian builder or you are having a mid life crisis. If you go down this route, choose carefully. You don't want to be sat in a nursing home explaining to your grandkids who Homer Simpson was and why you have a picture of him on your arse.

Rings: Wedding band, yes. Anything from Elizabeth Duke at Argos, no. More than two rings is definitely over kill. Reduce this limit to one of you have had any fingers removed. Also, under no circumstances, should a ring appear on your middle finger. Pay the extra pound and have it sized properly.

So there you have it. HDs guide to male grooming.

If you take care of your body and your appearance your body will take care of you. Obviously that is completely impossible but you know what I mean.

Hapless Dad

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Top parenting money saving ideas

Parenting is expensive. Fact! A recent survey published by The Guardian suggested that bringing up a child can cost a staggering £218,000.

Costs include child-minding, furniture, toys, hobbies, food, clothes and holidays to name but a few. This doesn't even account for the inevitable school fees if you are a) Posh  b) a shameless social climber with a massive inferiority complex about your own upbringing or c) You live in London which means you only have the choice of private education or a gang infested inner city comprehensive where year 9s carry knives and teachers have nose studs.

Here at Hapless Dad we think this situation is completely unacceptable. So here is our essential guide to saving money on your child's up-bringing:

Note: This guide is intended for your first child only. Every one knows that your second child is brought up like a Romanian orphan. 

  1. Do not attend the birth. This may sound harsh but the cost of hospital parking is astronomical. If you are there for some time you will be forced to spend £8 on a sausage roll and a cup of coffee, no matter how organised you are with packed lunches. Don't take the risk.
  2. During early labour, phone the midwife in a really panicked voice screaming "something's wrong". This will have two benefits. Firstly your perfectly healthy partner will be rushed to hospital in an ambulance thus saving petrol and wear and tear to your vehicle. Secondly, having one adult less in the house has knock on benefits for variable costs such as lighting, heating and water usage.
  3. As soon as your wife is feeling strong enough to venture out after the birth, phone all your credit card companies to say your cards have been stolen. This will prevent any impulse purchases of must have items like prams that cost the same as unicorn tusks or books on baby signing. There is also the possibility of your wife getting arrested whilst trying to use the card. No explanation needed.
  4. Enrol on an NCT parenting class. This will ensure that your partner is battered into breastfeeding using a combination of uncontrollable guilt and "science". As a result your new born will be strapped to your partner's unfeasibly large boobies 24 hours a day. This has two benefits. There is the obvious cost saving in terms of formula, bottles, flasks and bottle heating thingies. It also negates the need for any baby furniture as your spawn will have to be carried and share your bed for the first 2 years of it's life.
  5. Buy adult nappies for your child. The first years of any child's life revolve around poo and wee which often reaches up to it's neck (and yours). If you wrap your child in adult nappies they will be fully protected from head to toe. From a cost point of view you won't have to buy any clothes until the child is at least 3. 
  6. Choose your school for the right reasons. Most parents choose schools on the basis of geography or reputation. Alternatively pick a school that you know is attended by friend's children who are slightly older than yours. This will create 15 years of uniform hand-me-downs.
  7. Always offer to have a spare key for neighbour's houses. As we all know, taking kids on holiday is shit. It is ludicrously expensive given that it's got to be during the school holidays and the fact that children over a certain age can't be stowed in the hold of your easy jet flight to Alicante. Once there you will quickly find that you do exactly the same things as when you are at home but your wallet is £4k lighter. Having a key to a neighbour's property will allow you to move in there when they go away. This will save money, give a feeling of a change of scenery and you can still go swimming 4 times a day just as you would have done at centre parks.
  8. Take up taxidermy. Kids want pets and pets are expensive. There is the food, the vets bills and the new kitchen you'll need after your Labrador has eaten your oven. Stuffing a dead rat, badger or family member's deceased Iguana will give your kids the enjoyment of pet ownership without the costs. It will be some time before they realise it's not a real pet and by then they'll be addicted to the xbox and won't give a shit.
  9. Invest in sky plus. It might sound like a contradiction in terms for a money saving article. However sky plus allows you to record children's programs and, most importantly, fast forward through the adverts. An advert free life will mean you are not emotionally blackmailed into buying Skylanders, Moshi Monsters, Pokémon, Transformers or whatever ridiculously expensive con trick is on trend.
  10. Organise your meals around the 5:2 fasting diet. You and your children will reap the benefits of a healthy, more natural existence based on the "scientific fact" behind this diet fad, sorry phase, sorry lunacy. Most importantly for two days a week you don't have to feed your children. This equates to 104 days a year. On even a modest spend of £10 per day on kid's food this equates to over £1000 per year. Savings are doubled or even tripled if you make sure fast days fall on birthdays and at Christmas.
Final note of caution:

You could spend the money you save on a nice sports car to accompany your inevitable mid life crisis. Don't do it. Put the savings towards a university fund. You need to make sure they get into a college hundreds of miles away otherwise they'll be living with you well into their 30s.

Small print

This article is not indorsed by any money saving web sites and has little or no basis in fact. Estimated savings are based on guesswork.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The school fete survival guide

We are in the grip of a glorious British summer and the time is approaching for one of the most feared events on the parenting calendar. The school fete.

Why is it so feared I hear you ask? Well lets be honest if you enjoy the school summer fete its unlikely you will be reading this blog. For the rest of you who have stumbled across this site whilst looking for last minute flights to Amsterdam let me paint a picture. Imagine, if you will, a very poor quality car boot sale. No, on second thoughts imagine a crap version of Noel Edmund's multi coloured swap shop.

The premise is simple. You take a truck load of shite from your house consisting of broken toys, board games with missing pieces and soft toys riddled with fleas and you swap this with a truck load of similar shite from your friends and neighbours. There are a number of stages in between but the result is essentially the same.

There will be some extra bits. There will be a barbecue for example. Not a professionally run barbeque I hasten to add. This one will be run by a recently redundant bank manager. As such, you will all get salmonella and the school will have to hastily cobble together a letter saying that the barbecue was not authorised by the Head.

As luck would have it we live in the UK. This means on the day of the fete it will piss down. The fete committee will have had many lengthy and high level strategic discussions about this possibility. In fact they will have had lengthy discussions on many topics starting 6 months before the fete. Possibly as a feeble excuse to spend time away from their spouse or in an attempt to sleep with another parent on the committee. Eventually they will reach the inevitable conclusion that the school is too small to have it in doors so we'll have it on the yard and cross our fingers.

If you live in a rough area the fete will happen in school time. This is because the school knows the parents are free during the day, providing there isn't a Jeremy Kyle marathon on. Even if there is, a stall selling knocked off duty free fags will tempt them out of the house.

The school also knows that they can only ask staff to turn out at the weekend out of good will. In rough schools there isn't any. The staff have had a tit full of the parents and the kids by Friday and wouldn't dream of giving up their Saturday afternoon in Ladbrookes to be pelted with wet sponges.

As the school can't persuade the parents to set up a fete committee this decision is made by the Head, who has a caravan down the Gower and leaves early every Friday.

Schools in middle class areas always have the fete at the weekend. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly the school knows that if they have it during the school day, hardly anyone will come. As a result the school won't make the princely sum of £68 to put towards a new IPAD for the nursery.

Secondly the fete committee will argue that a summer fete during the week would mean an unacceptable loss of lesson time and possibly effect Tarquin's chances of getting into the local grammar. Everyone in education knows this is bollocks! All the tests an assessments happen before Easter so the kids haven't been taught anything since March. Never the less the members of the committee are well educated, opinionated and totally lacking in even the most basic knowledge of education. A dangerous combination.

Thirdly the staff will be prepared to turn out at the weekend. There still isn't any good will and the thought of being harangued by overly ambitious parents about Tarquin being on the same reading book for six months will fill them with dread. Never the less they also know that middle class parents will move their child at the drop of a hat, which means jobs are at risk. As such they will consume several large tumblers of GlendFiddich and get the wet sponges ready.

So how can you avoid this ordeal? Here are some suggestions:
  1. From January onwards sever all links with any parents on the committee. If possible change your mobile phone and don't tell anyone. This will ensure you are not co-opted into running the book stall. If they track you down at home, which is very possible, here are some ideas:
  2. Offer to bake cakes for the cake stall. The cake stall is the chance for middle class mums to show how perfect they are so competition will be intense. If you leave it late enough they will have plenty to sell and won't need your hastily repackaged ASDA Victoria sponge.
  3. Offer to run a stall which is inherently dangerous. This could be knife throwing, fire eating, bungee jumping or rifle shooting. The school's health and safety rep will be scared shitless and kindly refuse your offer. It will also give the school the impression you are a sadistic maniac and ensure you are not asked in the future.
  4. These days you can't drive into a school car park without a criminal records check. Suggest to your child's teacher that you are unable to provide one due to a "small misunderstanding over internet use" from a few years ago. They can't disprove it and you'll never be asked to a school event again.
  5. In preparation for the event, be overly flirty with a member of the school staff. The younger the better. Try to come across as creepy rather than letting your natural animal magnetism shine through as it might not achieve the desired result. If you get a reputation as a bit of a pest they'll leave you alone.
If these suggestions don't work I'm afraid I can't help you. At best you will spend your Saturday handing over your hard earned cash for 16 bags full of old scaletrix cars and trying in vein to pull your kid down from the seat of a fire engine. At worst you will stand, in the rain, behind a pile of clothes that Oxfam wouldn't touch with a latex glove, attempting to look jolly.

The kids of course will have a fantastic time. But, at the risk of repeating myself, if that's at the top of your agenda you are reading the wrong blog.

Good luck.

Hapless Dad