Monthly Archives: November 2010

Baby B: Shopping But Not As I Know It

30 weeks, four days

A cot: L127 x W68 x H101cm, conforms to BS EN 716, requires a continental size cot mattress (60 x 120cm) – check -, suitable from 0-24 months, 3-position mattress base height. Ordered online and paid for by mum.

Nappies: Boots own brand £2.99, Huggies newborn – unsure of price – but the sizes look good. Size 0 for low birth weight babies up to 3kg, Size 1 for newborns 2 to 5kgs. I pick up a packet (x24) of size 1, I’ll order a jumbo pack online later (or two) and get it delivered. Apparently newborns go through 10 to 12 nappies a day. “Get the size 0 for newborns” she says, that’s for low birth weight, I say. “How much do you think babies weigh, get the size 0”. I point out that size 0 is for ‘up to 3kg’ and size 1 is for newborns. “Get the size 0, 0 is the smallest so it’s for newborns”. I point out once again the sizes and the weight. We go on for a bit and then maybe she understands because she says nothing further.

I turned to Google and asked what I would need for a new baby and I added ‘NHS’ in the query. I then had my first official source of information: What will I need for the baby?

Nappy changing, Bathing, Sleeping, Feeding, Clothes, Getting out and about, and Also useful.

I don’t have a car so should I buy a car seat? What if the baby needs to travel by taxi or go in a friend’s car at some point? I look at car seats. I have no idea which one to choose. I settle on a Moses basket because suggests that babies outgrow them soon so you’re better off getting one second hand or borrowing one.

Cotton wool: always buy white. I pick up cotton wool balls. She comes by and replaces the balls with cotton wool pads. This is at the end of the hour long visit to Boots so I don’t say anything.

Microwave bottle sterilisers v electric bottle steriliser system all in one. ‘You don’t have a microwave’. ‘It broke recently and we’ll replace it’. ‘You don’t need it, you have no space’. ‘That’s not the point, we will get one and the microwave bottle sterilizer will be more useful’. ‘Get the electric all in one, you don’t need a microwave’. On and on and on.

I still need a baby monitor but bought a forehead, ear and room temperature thermometer. Nappy rash cream, a dressing gown and slippers for the hospital. A baby bath and a foam bath support.

You should always buy a new mattress – Mothercare Spring Interior Mattress with Amicor- Cot Continental £64.99.

Also Useful list: Blunt-edged scissors or baby nail clippers. From Boots in the end, £2.49. Put them back, she says. Why? They’re blue. What difference does it make? I guess they don’t have any other colours. We’ll get them.

The baby’s probably a girl but I won’t know for sure until he or she arrives. 66 days to go, give or take a few here or there.

City of Bristol College, Mini Demonstrations

I suggested that the City of Bristol College appeared relaxed about the demonstrations. Apparently I was wrong.





Nighty Night Bristol

Nighty Night

A Good Read, from the Bristol Old Vic

After three decades of being recorded at BBC Bristol, the Radio4 show A Good Read, was moved to the Bristol Old Vic for a special edition in front of a live audience. Actually there were two programs recorded within the hour and a half. The first is broadcast tomorrow, 23 November, with host Sue MacGregor and guests Baroness Warnock and actor John Telfer talking about their favourite paperbacks.

We practised our applause. Wild but not out of control, as recommended.

Baroness Mary Warnock is an academic and JohnTelfer plays the Reverend Alan Franks in The Archers. *cue a gasp from the audience*

John Telfer is no stranger to Bristol Theatre, he studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and has appeared in more than 35 plays with the Bristol Old Vic Company.

Baroness Warnock’s choice of book was Philip Pulman’s – The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Myths) about Jesus and his twin brother.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories.

John Telfer’s book was a combination of journalism and crime, If it Bleeds by Duncan Campbell a senior correspondent with the Guardian.

Britain’s best known gangster, Charlie Hook, wants to tell his life story and chooses crime reporter Laurie Lane as his reluctant ghost. But the next day Hook is dead, his blood and hair on the walls of his north London mansion. Who has killed the last of the London Godfathers? Could it be a Russian businessman with a love of Scottish poetry and something dodgy in his Hampstead garden?

Sue McGregor’s choice was Evelyn Waugh’s classic Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder.

A Good Read is on Radio 4 at 16:30, 23 November 2010.

Baby B: and Iron

Third trimester, 29 weeks, four days

I had some blood tests at my 28 week midwife appointment and one of them was to check my iron levels. Five days later I received a phone call informing me that they were too low and that I should contact my GP. The midwife spent the next couple of minutes telling me the kind of foods I should be eating and that orange juice should be drunk with meals to help absorb vitamin c. I wrote some of it down but took more time researching it on the internet.

The baby is having a growth spurt apparently and I’m now entitled to 200 more calories a day.

The baby needs iron to help it form red blood cells. How much extra did I need however? Apart from knowing that it was about double the ordinary intake, I wasn’t too sure. The normal levels are 12 to 15 mg and my levels were down to 8.4 from 12 in June.

As the volume of blood increases in the body so the nutrients are diluted. My nose bleeds had stopped the past couple of weeks and the GP paused a moment when I told him. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or not. I was told that the breathlessness and the heart racing were probably due to the low iron levels. The last few days, I have had to go back to bed after eating because my heart just wouldn’t slow down from its breakneck speed. My normal heart rate is just over 90 these days.

I was given iron supplements and told to continue with my pregnancy multi-vitamins. I went shopping. I changed my whole diet, primarily adding lots of meats, cereals, juice, leafy greens, chickpeas, black pudding and Marmite to it.

On that first night after the phone call I had an iron rich meal.

240gms of chick peas
250 gms of beef steak
1 slice of black pudding 4.4mg iron

And on a personal note it was my birthday last week. The first birthday where the baby exists.

Celebratory Birthday Menu
Sultana Bran – around 80gms – with soy milk – 200 mls
Starbucks Venti soy latte 20ozs (1.8mg iron, 10gms protein, 80mg calcium, for 8oz)

2 rashers of bacon
1 slice of black pudding 4.9mgs iron
1 bak choi
some carrots / sweetcorn / green beans

20 dried apricots
1 small brownie

Happy Birthday.


Two Paths To Queen Square, Bristol

Two Paths To Queen Square

As If It Were The Last Time, Subtlemob

Tiny gestures in big cities, cinematic experiences without cameras

Try to remain invisible say the Subtle Mob. Find a partner, download an MP3 and be at a secret location at the right time.

Two of us under a horse chestnut tree, between the fountains and the cascading steps. There’s nothing embarrassing or dangerous says the voice on the recording. Stay in the area marked on the map.

Narrow Quay, Bordeaux Quay and Pero’s Bridge.


Stay where you are and look down at your feet. Look carefully at the ground beneath you. Right now, you’re here, and you’re not alone. Keep looking at the ground. You can’t see them all right now but around you are friends and strangers.

Now, raise your head, very slowly, and take in everything around you. This vision, this street. People in this place. To your left and to your right.

The instructions are simple and unhurried. The story interweaves with the soundtrack but it’s more of a series of fragments than a cohesive narrative. I wait for the next thing to do, not wanting to miss anything. I miss some of the fragments.

We smile hello and try to find a reflection in the water. We stroll along the Narrow Quay and I mishear so I smile at too many people. Past the Bristol Hotel and leaning against a tree. Autumnal hair and autumnal leaves on the ground. Orange light from Pero’s Bridge and we end up facing the steam cranes and the boats in the harbour. I can’t figure out how to lean as if I’m holding up a wall. Ah well. There’s dancing. Slow dancing, then faster, then spinning, then back to slow.

Two women are shuffling at the edge of the bridge and they wear mittens and woollen hats. A couple kiss and then walk away and then the soundtrack stops. 33 minutes are up.


In contrast to a flashmob, which gathers hundreds of people to create a big and obvious impact, the silentmob is an apparently small experience which leaves an individual impact.

Two MP3 files were made available, so the audience were divided in half. While one group was instructed to perform a simple scene the other group heard this described as if it were a film scene, but they could actually see it happening around them.

Throughout the piece these roles of watcher/performer alternated between the groups, ever increasing in pace until by the end they are all performing/watching simultaneously.

We walked away without instructions and chatted about it briefly. Now and then, however, I think ‘wait, I could have done that part better, I would have liked that moment a little more, enjoyed the stroll without looking at what others were doing. I would have been less self-conscious, appreciated my own partner’s smiles more than looking at other people. I hadn’t realised it would finish so quickly. That this instruction would be the last thing’.

Oh, I see.


The next one in Bristol is on December 2. Our Broken Voice premieres as part of the Inbetween Time Festival and you can sign up on the website.


All Covered Up With Autumn, Bristol

All Covered Up With Autumn, Bristol

Don McCullin, Victora Art Gallery in Bath

Don McCullin, described in the Bristol Review of Books as “the twentieth century’s greatest war photographer” is featured at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath at the largest ever UK exhibition about his work. The Bristol Review may be prone to hyperbole since their main feature is on McCullin but the 75 year old’s reputation is indeed international.

His work on Vietnam – Battle for Hue and the Siege of Derry for the Sunday Times is celebrated in “Things As They Are – Photojournalism in Context Since 1955”. From Vietnam, “McCullin’s photographs are dramatically harrowing in their depiction of the battlefield, and almost painfully intimate when showing the soldiers’ dedication to each other” (p.156) while from Derry, his portfolio of 12 pictures about the escalating conflict in Northern Ireland was the lead just before Christmas in 1971 (p.192).

The exhibition in Bath is timed to mark McCullin’s 75th birthday and many items are on public display for the very first time. ‘Shaped by War’ comprises more than 160 items and mementoes (including a Nikon camera body damaged by a bullet).Included are some of his elegiac Somerset landscapes and prints from his most recent projects on frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Victoria Art Gallery, Bridge Street, Bath, BA2 4AT, 11 September – 21 November 2010


Last One Standing, Autumn

Last One Standing, Autumn