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Thursday 28th January 2016

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It was only a short break to Austria, but it felt like we packed a lot in and in spite of it being knackering, terrifying and humiliating, it was a real tonic and the staff at the Goldenberg hotel made us very welcome. If you like skiing then this is a great place to come and if you don’t like skiing then it’s still fun to chill out in the mountains and take awkward saunas with naked strangers. I still don’t like skiing, but  my wife is keen to do more and it will be interesting to see if you can make yourself enjoy something that you don’t like just by doing it enough times. Perhaps I need to be more competent to like it, but I am just not sure that sliding down a mountain on some curly sticks is for me. 

The mountain we were on is like something out of Thunderbirds or James Bond as there was a big complex of “secret” tunnels underneath all the hotels there, with supply routes and staff entrances and this morning a man drove us down into the labyrinth in a golf cart so that we could be picked up by our cab. I kind of hoped that the man would take us all the way to Innsbruck airport, but as that was 90 minutes away in a proper car it would have been a long and cold journey.

Phoebe coped quite well with the long journey, though it took quite a lot of singing and playing to keep her relatively non-shouty (fellow airplane passengers may disagree with this assessment). She likes music and tried to bang her hands on stuff and dance along or clap her hands to show she is happy and she knows it (even when she is actually crying and I enjoy her use of dramatic irony here), but the only song she tries to sing along to is, bizarrely, Shake Your Body, where she has a good and recognisable attempt at singing “Shake, shake, shake”. It seems mildly inappropriate, but I suppose it’s OK for a baby to shake its body even if she mainly only moves her head from side to side. After nearly a year of getting only a few possible words out of her, it feels like a triumph when she says anything. Tonight as we had a photo taken she patted me on the head and said, “Dada”. It’s still not possible to be sure that she knows that that is what I am called (or at least the assumed name I pretend to have for her benefit), but I think she did.

The flight went OK, though we did hit a big lump of unexpected turbulence towards the end. Phoebe was on my knee and I had to hold on tight to stop her flying off into the ceiling. It was quite an unsettling minute or two, as I struggled to pass her over to my wife who had the baby seat belt. For the moment I couldn’t really worry that the plane might be about to plummet out of the sky, I had to make my baby safe for the short term. My wife and I stayed calm and held on tight and got the little bugger strapped in, which obviously was going to be fuck all use if anything bad was really going to happen, but short term goals and we saved her from more likely and imminent harm.

I used to worry about myself dying in a plane crash, but losing myself is nothing now. I’ve got to get this little ball of gristle and hair to the point where she wants to have nothing more to do with me.

And we made it to the ground without becoming a big splodge of human smoothie, though still with another couple of hours to go in the car and desperately trying to keep the baby awake now so that she’d sleep at the right time. Even though I was tired and it was rush hour I was glad we’d come in our own car. Picking it up was easy and we were quickly on our way. And our TomTom expertly guided us down some back roads and made a difficult drive relatively quick. My wife kept the baby entertained and awake and when we got home I gave Phoebe milk and she went straight to sleep. Today, as parents, we were both pretty skill. There will be plenty of days to come where we screw it up, but I hope Phoebe remembers what champions we were today. She’d better, the rubbish-memoried idiot.

Good to be back and straight back to work tomorrow, but surprised at how much that short break has done to make me relax, especially given how badly I slept and how stressful getting there and back was. But nowadays any simple thing successfully completed is a triumph in itself.


The audio version of the RHLSTP with Aisling Bea is now up at the British Comedy Guide and iTunes.



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