Drumming up support for a party

The Northern Echo:

10:50am Thursday 2nd April 2015

SO that's it. Our youngest was 18 at the weekend. Against all the odds, we've somehow managed to negotiate our way through the obstacle course of parenthood and guided four children past the post into adulthood.

Left in the firing line

The Northern Echo:

2:26pm Wednesday 18th March 2015

THE reality is beginning to dawn. Nearly a quarter of a century after our first was born, along with the Dad At Large column, my wife and I will soon be on our own again.

Pipe down, Mum

The Northern Echo:

10:18am Wednesday 4th March 2015

WHEN you get to my age, you’re lucky if you still have your mum ¬ ¬- and I’m well aware that I'm very fortunate indeed.

Trouble in store

The Northern Echo:

1:27pm Thursday 19th February 2015

TO be perfectly honest, Valentine’s weekend wasn’t my finest piece of planning. The significance of the date had gone straight over my head and I’d arranged to spend Saturday morning playing tennis, Saturday afternoon at the rugby, and all day Sunday travelling to London for a football match.

Phil yer boots!

The Northern Echo:

4:02pm Thursday 5th February 2015

OVER the years, I’ve done my level best to indoctrinate my children into my sophisticated musical tastes. Ever since they were little, I’ve bombarded them with my favourite band, Genesis.

Cutting remarks

The Northern Echo:

8:54am Thursday 22nd January 2015

THE clematis hanging down from the porch outside our front door was out of control. In fact, it had grown so wild there was a danger that the paperboy might be lost in there.

A disaster on the cards

The Northern Echo:

2:12pm Friday 2nd January 2015

EVERY year, sooner or later, in the midst of festive chaos, my wife will inevitably let out a painful moan along the lines of: “I have to do everything at Christmas.”

Put to the test

The Northern Echo:

2:49pm Thursday 18th December 2014

IT’S that time of year when dads of a certain age are expected to drop everything and drive round the country to move their offspring back home from university for Christmas.

Hot and bothered

5:12pm Monday 8th December 2014

MY wife and I had been to the cinema to see a film called The Imitiation Game, about how one of history’s greatest mathematical brains, Alan Turing, had cracked Germany’s Enigma code, shortening the Second World War by an estimated two years and saving millions of lives. With Bendict Cumberbatch outstanding in the lead role, it is thoroughly recommended. Anyway, not for the first time lately, I offered to make the tea when we got home. I suggested my speciality – egg and chips – but my wife decided she’d rather have chips with the spicy prawns from the freezer instead. The chips went in the oven and the spicy prawns followed at the time dictated by the instructions on the packet. Everything was going according to plan. “Do you want beans with this?” I shouted. “No, I’ll have sweetcorn,” she replied. “But, don’t worry, I’ll do it myself.” This might be rather familiar to regular readers because my last column was about how, after 26 years of marriage, my wife had declared that she doesn’t like the way I “do bread”. Upon interrogation, she’d explained that I wasn’t up to the job because I spread the butter/margarine haphazardly, with not enough being pushed out to the edges of the bread. I admit to being a bit upset, but I’d just about got over it – until the sweetcorn incident. When buttering bread, I can see there is at least a certain technique involved – skill even. But what on earth could be wrong with the way I “do sweetcorn”? “Surely, it’s just a question of emptying it into a bowl and microwaving it?” I shouted back into the lounge, where she was watching telly with her feet up. “Yes, but you’ll do it wrong,” came the reply. “In what way will I do it wrong?” I asked. “You won’t time it right,” she said, finally making an appearance in the kitchen. Ah, so, it was a question of timing. “You always microwave it too early so it’s not hot,” she went on. The irony was impossible to escape. We’d just been to see a film celebrating the life of a legendary mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and pioneer of the computer age – a man who cracked a code with 150 million million combinations – and I couldn’t even be trusted with overseeing a two-minute blast on the microwave. The result of all this is that I am refusing point blank to cook anything anymore. We are in the midst of a new Cold War and I’m rapidly reaching the conclusion that my wife is an enigma even the tortured genius Alan Turing could never have worked out. I left the bread. I left the sweetcorn. I left the kitchen.

Lest we forget

5:41pm Thursday 20th November 2014

Dad At Large usually focuses on the light-hearted side of parenthood. But, in the month of Remembrance, here’s a letter I was asked to read last week at a “Lest We Forget” service at St Mary’s Church, in Norton, near Stockton-on-Tees...

For butter or worse

The Northern Echo:

3:52pm Thursday 6th November 2014

IT never ceases to amaze me that, even after 26 years of marriage, I’m still discovering things about my wife and our relationship that I didn’t know.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

The Northern Echo:

9:53am Friday 24th October 2014

AT the age of 52, I am having to face up to the reality that I don’t have as much hair as I used to.

Cracks appear in my wife's relationship with George Clooney

12:01pm Wednesday 8th October 2014

IT has not been a good time for my wife. George Clooney - the man of her dreams - got married.

Such a loser!

The Northern Echo:

9:46am Thursday 25th September 2014

I ’VE always enjoyed a day at the races. When I was a kid, a trip to Redcar, Catterick, Thirsk, and even York was a special treat with my Dad.

A bedtime nightmare

7:22pm Tuesday 16th September 2014

EVERY dad knows it’s not easy to get a good night’s sleep. For the first year, the kids wake every couple of hours and you go through life in a kind of hazy, brain-dead state.

Hot stuff

The Northern Echo:

10:42am Thursday 28th August 2014

SO there I was, in the leisure centre changing room, after another hour spent on the treadmill, desperately trying to hold back the ravages of time.

A steamy affair

The Northern Echo:

10:26am Thursday 14th August 2014

MY wife had some devastating news: “I’ve been seduced in the middle of the night,” she gasped, excitedly.

Pooling talents

The Northern Echo:

10:06am Thursday 31st July 2014

DESPITE being 24, 22, 20 and 17, the kids still come on holiday with us — and, for as long as it lasts, we like it that way.

Feeling prickly

The Northern Echo:

10:26am Thursday 3rd July 2014

FOR nearly a quarter of a century, my family have put up with the details of their lives being laid bare in this column.

Brief encounters

10:38am Thursday 19th June 2014

COUPLE of columns ago, I told the story of the “Feast Coast Main Line” – how my wife has got into the habit of supplying food to my daughter as she passes through Darlington station on her tour with a dance company.

Peter Barron
Dad At Large

The Northern Echo: Peter Barron

Peter Barron on the heartaches & belly laughs that go with being a dad of four.

Peter also writes about his experiences as editor of The Northern Echo in From The Editor's Chair.


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Opinion from the region's best known woman columnist.

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Ruth on the heartaches & belly laughs that go with being a mum.

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An offbeat view of the week's events and how they affect the region.

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Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Mike Barton's monthly column on policing.


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