Category Archives: Events

Bowl in the Bay.

Super Bowl is this Sunday and it’s a big freaking deal.

This year it’s being played at Levi’s Stadium, right here in the Bay Area, so Americans in our near vicinity are even more excitable than usual. In total, it’s expected that more than 120million people will tune in, just to catch a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple.

But what is the Super Bowl, and why is the biggest prize in American Football named after a serving dish? Surely you want a trophy to have gravitas, not gravy…

Continue reading Bowl in the Bay.

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Christmas. But not as I know it.

So, um, Christmas Day was a little different this year.

We took the kids out for a walk in Santa Cruz, stopping at the harbour to eat raisin bread. And then we spent the rest of the day at Twin Lakes beach. The beach. On Christmas Day. As you do.

Continue reading Christmas. But not as I know it.

The C-word.

We need to talk about Christmas.

Mainly because I’m the only one in America with the baubles to do so.

Don’t get me wrong, Christmas over here is like everything else in America – absolutely massive.

In the UK, the biggest radio stations sprinkle classic Christmas tunes into their playlist from mid-December. But out here, brand new stations are created out of thin air, exclusively to belt out Christmas songs, 24/7. I tell you, all I want for Christmas is to not hear Mariah Carey’s god awful song every 15 minutes.

Continue reading The C-word.

Thanks.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.

A day when Americans get together to watch football, eat their body weight in turkey, and open a can of thanks on one another. They thank their hosts for a lovely meal, to which their hosts say thank you. Then the dinner guests thank them for their gracious hospitality. So the hosts find something to thank them for again. And so it continues until they either run out of things to be thankful for, or they run out of cranberry sauce. At which point shit gets real.

Continue reading Thanks.

Trick or treat is not a rhetorical question.

Hallowe’en is a big deal out here. Like, Christmas big.

In the weeks leading up to the 31st, you can’t miss it. House decorations, advertising, grocery stores, even church signs… it’s bloody everywhere. They don’t do anything half-arsed in the US, but I do – and having left it to the last-minute to get a costume for a Hallowe’en party, I went into a nearby pop-up shop.

Continue reading Trick or treat is not a rhetorical question.

Footsteps. 

Father’s Day has always been a token gesture. 

Ignored by almost everyone except retailers and those blokes who scale Parliament in Batman outfits, its true significance has always been proven by its visibility in Clintons Cards. 

For Valentine’s Day the whole store turns pink. Every shelf is stuffed with heart-shaped tat and teddy bears, and you can legitimately grope an employee without risk of legal action. 

Mother’s Day is worse. You can’t leave the house without being bombarded with guilt adverts on billboards, radio and TV. At shopping centres, every store finds a way to work the event into a sales pitch. Clothes shops, jewellers…even cobblers get in on the act:

“Give Mum a good night’s sleep. Get new keys cut.”

And then there’s Father’s Day. 

Where cards are tucked away in the shop somewhere between family birthdays and bereavement condolences. And they’re never sure what sort of gift to suggest either. Just yesterday I saw this Father’s Day promo in the local supermarket: 

 

Yes, that’s right, because a Dad wants nothing more than to wash his face while reading a novel. 

Today is my fourth Father’s Day. This morning I got the gift of two kids screaming in my ear at 7am, and one foot right in the testicles. I’m still unsure if that was the kids or Alex. 

When I was a kid my Dad was up and out of the house before most of us were awake. He worked hard during the week, but was always home for dinner, when we’d gather at the table and find out which members of his factory staff were having it off with each other. On a Friday night he’d bring home magazines for me and my sisters, smuggling in chocolate contraband under my Mum’s nose. And the weekends belonged to us. He was our taxi, our climbing frame, our playmate…he managed my sunday league football team, and even made me captain. Despite the fact that a dog amputee would have been a more effective choice. 

As I got older, he taught me some of life’s most important lessons:

  1. The value of money. When I was old enough to work, he stopped my pocket money and only reinstated it when I had a weekend job. 
  2. The importance of keeping a low profile. In the swimming pool on holiday he taught me the art of ogling holidaymakers while underwater. 
  3. How to keep things quiet. Usually when an extravagant purchase was concerned – a new car, an electric golf buggy – he would give me a sneak preview so I could share in his short-lived excitement, right before Mum found out and hit the roof. 

Thank you Dad. For giving me the same myopic view of my kids that you’ve always had of us. For helping me navigate some of life’s toughest decisions. And for being the father I aspire to be. 

p.s. For a slushy view on Father’s Day, check out this ridiculous Toyota ad. Then watch this one.