Nine weeks, you say?

I’m dad to Alexander (that’s still weird to write)  and have been since the beginning of last August. At some point in last year’s mild autumn, Alex’s mum and I decided that it would be good for me to take decent chunk of time off work and, instead, hang out with the little man. The benefits are many: I get to spend a chunk of time really getting to know and look after our son; my partner gets to launch herself back into the career she loves without the added anxiety of wondering how the boy’s getting on at nursery; he’ll get to try some new experiences, like solid food and going to the swimming pool; you’ll get to read about how we get on, if you want.

I’m also looking forward to having some time away from work and, perhaps, developing a bit more perspective from that. I’ve always, at 32, been employed or in full-time education; no gap year, no career break, only a fortnight on JSA between jobs in March 2006. Not that it has been deliberate, and definitely not the result of a particularly strong work ethic or careerist tendency, it’s just that I’ve got on with things and this is how it’s ended up. Claire found one of the challenges of maternity leave was not having the mental stimulation afforded by regular work; meanwhile, a company iPhone has allowed my work to become an ever-present blancmange, the beneficiary of which I am yet to encounter.

Claire has been helping me to draw up a list of things to do. There’s a couple of sessions left in the current season of baby massage class. Martin doesn’t work Mondays, Lynne’s around on a Thursday. Alice says I’m always welcome to go to baby cinema. The NCT mums are going to set up a new WhatsApp group. The health visitors run a weigh-in on a Wednesday lunchtime. The flat could always be cleaner. My thoughts, meanwhile, are focused on how to engineer nap time so he sleeps during live play and wakes to save me from Bob Willis’ apathetic and bewildering approach to analysis.

But assuming we’ll be knocked out of the Twenty20 early on, I’ve had some other ideas. We could crack on with some of the remaining Hundred Things, or get around to shimmying back up The Orbit thanks to my annual ticket. There are routes from the local bus station which end up in all manner of alluring places: Chingford Hatch, Barkingside, Yardley Lane Estate. At least one of those has to be worth a punt. There’s the monthly E17 Baby Social, where a gin and tonic is £2, and there are all manner of opinions to express on the Walthamstow Parents Facebook page. My mum will almost certainly make it down for a few day trips.

Last weekend’s test flight was pretty successful. There are a couple of warm-up days later this week, followed by a week in which to reflect, hand over all my work projects, go for a goodbye beer with the team, make sure there’s a series link set for Diagnosis Murder, and watch as the Post-War Architecture of Walthamstow calendar flips over to February and shit gets real. And probably hits the fan, goes all up his back, etc. etc.

Nine weeks. That’s how long for.

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