Mouse #3.

We go to Disneyland.

“ItsmickeymouseitsmickeymousedaddydaddydaddyitsMICKEYMOUSE!!!” cries the Toddler.

Mickey Mouse appears.

I am determined, for a few days, to leave my natural English miserable-bastardness in the hotel for the sake of family unity. I take a photograph of a man in a giant mouse suit and we walk to the theme park. Burly men at the gates are opening peoples’ bags and checking them for any negative thoughts.

The recipe for Disney is very simple: 2% pudding, 98% egg. The fact is that small children are thrilled by the basics of a) going on brightly coloured things that move and b) meeting giant mice, and you could probably leave it there and go down the pub. But they do insist on slopping on all these concepts of wishing and dreams coming true and the world being a wonderful place and all that.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in a constantly repeated song called ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’. This plays over the tannoy on some form of constant loop, whilst made-up loons prance around with fixed smiles in the big parade. A soft-rock number in the boy/girl duet mould, it has the unusual effect for an art form of making you want to cut off your own cock in order that the pain will cause you to pass out and make the song go away. Then, just as you are scrabbling in your bag for a big knife, a truck-driver’s gear change reveals that – no – it will never go away, and will be stuck with you for ever. I have subsequently – and very foolishly – found this song on Spotify, and my life will never be the same again.

We watch the St Patrick’s Day tribute to Ireland and the Irish, which features riverdancing chipmunks.

Songs aside, I enjoy my trip. And food. Songs and food aside. I am a big fan of true American food, and it distresses me when it is spoilt by being prepared in the European fashion, ie boiled in the microwave and served in small portions for lots of money. But everything else is good.

The LTLP takes the Toddler for a wee; I sit at the entrance of the park, people-watching whilst I wait. It is the best bit. I could never get tired of spotting each child’s face absolutely light up as they step through the gates and realise that they are in a place that will provide them with brightly-coloured things that move and giant mice. It is truly heartwarming. Then I realise that I am turning into Noel Edmonds, which is wrong.

Mouse #2.

I meet a celebrity!!!

In London, before we leave. We have not even got to Disneyland yet, and already I am meeting celebrities. Not that I am overawed by this, being one myself. I would not even mention it, except that it will probably be interesting to non-celebrity readers who would not take such an encounter in their stride, as that is not the sphere that they move in. Although I have an internationally-successful private secret diary, I have not lost touch with the non-celebrity world. I just thought that you would be interested. I certainly don’t want to be patronising to the civilians.

It is Andrei Arshavin, legendary Russian international footballer now playing for the Arsenal!!! He is in the municipal play area on the South Bank with his family, his children playing on the swings and slide with the other London kids.

He clearly has a lot to learn about being a Premiership footballer.

A small child shyly asks for his autograph, which he provides obligingly. The small child does not recognise me, as I have my sunglasses on – he will kick himself when he reads this! The afternoon draws on; the premiership legend-in-waiting gathers up his family and disappears off towards the river and a man painted silver, pretending to be a statue.

I am sometimes a bit nervous about going out in public, in case I am approached. So I am impressed with his ‘man of the people’ casualness.

Then I realise that it is easy for him. Being approached by members of the public is nothing intimidating for a man with his background. He grew up in a region dominated by gangsters, of crime and casual drunkenness, in a society made corrupt by the gushing influx of money, money, money cascading into the hands of those socially and morally ill-equipped to do anything but selfishly exploit this excess of capitalism.

Whereas I grew up in Essex.

Mouse #1

We stay in London.

Rather than risk missing the Eurostar train on Monday morning, we decide to stop off in the capital for the night. London! City of Pepys and Ackroyd, cradle of all that is enlightened in the history of Western intelligent man! I book the hotel myself.

It is right next to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I have not used this hotel before, but being right next to St. Paul’s Cathedral is about the best location that you can get. The history of Smithfield and Clerkenwell a short walk north; the oft-neglected back streets of the City all around; the bridge ‘cross the river to the south. Honestly, being right next to St. Paul’s is brilliant. I cannot think of a single disadvantage at all.

We walk across the footbridge to the Tate Modern. I have had an idea that I would like to show the Toddler the Tate Modern, as it is full of colourful eccentric things that she might like.

There are all sorts of cheap shots that I could make at modern art, but this is not really my style. I do not really like to do juvenile material.

Nevertheless the Tate Modern visit is not a success, mainly because it is impossible to explain to a three year-old why a piece of art based on the design of a children’s play area is not, in fact, a children’s play area. Also, it is possible to buy a two-volume hardback on the cultural significance of crisps to the development of twentieth-century pop culture, but no crisps.

We make an early return to our hotel next to St. Paul’s Cathedral, excited about the week ahead. The LTLP is keen to get a good night’s sleep to set her up for the journey.

It is not to be. Until midnight, on a regular basis, she is rudely awakened by a giant dong.

Out of Office Autoreply.

I am going on holiday!!!

To a world-famous tourist destination that features grown men dressed up as giant mice. Truly my life has changed over the past three years.

It might be fun, although looking at the travel website it already appears that I’m going to have to change from the Eurostar at the Isle of Wight, get a bus replacement service to Calais then wait for another train on to the Disney place. But there will be giant mice when we get there, so that’s OK.

See you when I get back.


I’ve not really pushed this before as I never quite understood it, but shedloads of people have suddenly started following me on Twitter, the short message thing started by Stephen Fry. Twitter is a bit of a problem for me as it eats material – traditionally, some small vaguely interesting thing would happen to a writer and they could pad it out to at least 600 words split across two posts; worded cleverly this would generate ninety-odd comments, a book deal and a TV series starring Billie Piper. Now you just tell everybody on Twitter and it’s gone.

Anyway, I’m using it a bit more these days. Think of it as exclusive previews of forthcoming padded-out 600 word posts.

The subscribe link’s at

I will probably not get as many followers as Stephen Fry, but I can try. I could be the Norfolk Stephen Fry. That is my aim.

I will not be Twittering from my holiday as the LTLP would get cross.