The things with kids – at least non-Nigerian ones, if my experience was indicative – is that they do not hesitate to call BS-ing adults out. In a moment of subtle pressure – and not for the first time – the unofficial God daughter got me to agree to take them for a meal to the Frankie & Benny’s across the road from mine. At the time, I was only slightly worried – it was late August, and the school holidays were not till October. I assumed that the kids, being kids, would have forgotten by the time October rolled along. My bunch didn’t, which was how I ended up dragging two children – with a third, the chief instigator, planning to arrive after a birthday party – through the doors at just past 12.30 on a Saturday afternoon; as far removed from my typical Saturday as could be. No gym, or light cleaning or an early Cineworld movie to look forward to.

Having managed to get everyone seated, and settled in at our assigned table which thankfully was tucked away from the hustle and bustle, we ordered our drinks – a diet Pepsi for me, a Tango for their father, fruit shoots for them; and then food. The peace and quiet that came with their intense concentration on food lasted no more than a few minutes, the first toilet break the precursor to a game of me too in which both V and M alternated toilet breaks. It didn’t help that the adjoining table was chock full of excitable children either, whose craned necks and general restiveness captured the attention of my crowd, once they had downed their meal.

F, who has evolved into a precociously talented – not young, her words not mine – nine year old, joined us an hour later. Being the bundle of energy she is, she lit the place up like a banshee, getting her usually more reserved baby sister a lot more agitated in the process. I think we did OK – between her father and I – also managing to catch up a few key issues deferred from our last proper catch up a couple of months ago. All told, we were pretty much done in two hours flat, bar last minutes requests for ice cream instigated by F, and channeled through her baby sister. In fairness to her, she did pick up toilet escorting duties after she’d downed her meal, allowing the adults a bit more catch up time.

Plenty of positives all round, if I say so myself, not least of which was my Favourite Uncle creds surviving in tact for another season. Labouring up the stairs to my house having bade all and sundry goodbye, with my jacket fitting a bit too snugly from all the food, the one niggle at the back of my mind was a sense of slight unease. If the strategic five year plan comes together, this – without the get away clause and with the potential for diapers and late nights – could be my life. That, is still more than a wee bit scary.

There, or thereabouts…


It is a cold, crisp morning; the sort that draws an involuntary wince when the twin comforts of a snuggie, and the remnants of warm tea are withdrawn somewhat suddenly. Having not visited the gym in two weeks and a few days – blame my trip to the middle of nowhere, not my laziness – the plan is to drag myself there at some stage over the course of the day. The dry, sunny vista that greets my eyes looking out onto Pittodrie beguiles me into kitting myself out in my gym get-up; which is how at the ungodly hour of 9am on a Saturday I am high tailing the 700 yards or so from my house to the gym. The forty-five minute amble on the treadmill passes by uneventfully enough – today there are neither svelte, graceful does nor brawny, over-fit ones to terrorise me, or show me up for the lazy bum I am..

Four minutes into my slow down routine, I catch sight of F, in the full length mirror, she is waving excitedly.. Behind her is her father..

AJ!!!!! He hollers, when I come off the treadmill, wiping my brow and breathing heavily..

You never talk true for this gym matter o.. That girl must have you in her armpit..

I laugh. He and I have this ongoing conversation where he insists the sole reason I am still doing the gym thing is that some woman of some description has me cornered. Just how I could have gone from a couch loving, NCIS/Big Bang Theory bing-er to one who goes to the gym twice or more each week beats his imagination.

[In the interest of full disclosure, both Q. and S. were obsessive gym-ers; nothing of course developed from those liaisons.]

He insists the weight loss is significant too. Bar the odd day on which the extra space in my favourite pair of jeans is obvious, I don’t see any evidence of that. While we are talking, trading these volleys of accusation and counter accusation, someone else walks past with two children in tow. It’s an old classmate of mine from my Newcastle days..

Doing very well with the gym thing pal, he says.. Keep it up, he adds, punching me lightly in my stomach. F. rolls her eyes, like only a woman can. Her father stifles a laugh as he throws me a knowing look… I shrug a bit, inwardly chuffed that the hard work of the summer of living dangerously appears to be paying off already..

On this evidence, I suppose I can claim to be there, or perhaps thereabouts?