Early on in our courtship, during a typically sophisticated booze-and-movies night at her apartment, Dr B managed to spill a large glass of red wine across a previously pristine magnolia wall. With the ever-present fear of an unreturned rent deposit looming, we manically attempted to clean up the spattered mess – like something from Dexter – with the nearest thing to hand: vermouth. It turns out that vermouth is rather good at removing red wine … and paint. We scrubbed and scrubbed until we saw the brickwork. We were clueless and laughing our heads off. The first of many little adventures.
Jump ahead to 2012 – this year is turning out to be the biggest adventure of all. One minute, there I am without a care in the world aside from deciding when to redesign my website again or which variation of Scotch Egg Surprise to prepare for lunch and then – BLAMMO! – the next thing I know I've got myself a concussed pregnant wife.
Yup, I'm married to a beautiful concussed lady-doctor and there's a little Benneworth-Gray on the way. It's all a bit exciting and nerve-racking and a little bit more exciting. Suffice to say, we've been a tad busy.
The wedding was incredible, joyous, perfect. Basically all the adjectives from the good bits of the dictionary (and we have pics by ace photographer Emma Case to prove it). Of course, Dr B looked stunning from beginning to end – impressive given that she was on some pretty hefty painkillers all day.
You see, the day before the wedding, the lady wife managed to pass out in the refund queue of Marks & Spencer and bonked her head, giving herself quite the concussion. Spending several hours in A&E wasn't at the top of our big wedding planing list, but thanks to help from friends and family, we still managed to get everything done.
Dr B's noggin is still on the mend – the main problem at the moment is dizziness and the mystery of anosmia. Basically, she can't smell anything. Anything at all. Smell is one of those things that doctors don't seem to know too much about, so it's impossible to know if it'll come back tomorrow, in a couple of months or ever. We're trying to train the nose and the brain to recognise smells again – this mostly involves me sticking a particularly inky-smelling bit of print (thank you GF Smith and Herb Lester) under Dr B's face and describing the smell of the colours. I fear I may just be implanting a case of designer synesthesia.
The concussion has also meant we've had to postpone the honeymoon for a bit. Fingers crossed we'll be able to get to New York before Bean arrives and dictates our travel plans for evermore.
Oh yeah, Bean …
In March, we found out that we're expecting a baby. An actual human baby. We had a bit of a scare at the beginning – and by "a bit", I mean the worst day of my life, the absolute polar opposite of our wedding day, but significantly longer – so went for a very early scan. Everything turned out fine, but all we saw on the screen was a tiny pulsating baked bean shape. Without any exciting pictures to take away with us, I dealt with the situation in a typically designery way: I asked an illustrator to do one for us. I don't know how many "hello, you don't me but I want you to draw the inside of my wife's bits" requests Simone Lia gets, but I'll wager that was the best one she'd received that week.
Bean is a LOT bigger now, but we're still only halfway there. I suddenly find myself trying to catalogue all the impartable wisdom cluttering up my head, checking out every pram I see in town (no, lady, I'm not staring intently at your baby, I'm just trying to see what make your travel system is), and despairing at the state of children's TV (seriously, have you ever seen the nightmare that is Baby Jake?). There's just so much to figure out.
And this is where Path comes into its own. For some reason, this fledgling social network is the perfect arena for dads. Most of the people I chat with on there are writers or designers with, or expecting, kids. For months now, seeing their little stories of pride and bemusement has filled me with hope. I always feared that I wouldn't be a good dad because I didn't really know how to be one – I now realise it's something you learn as you go along, and that every single day throws something messy and stupid and glorious your way. Pathmen, you've been a real inspiration and have helped me through this more than you know.
So here we are. Five years after abandoning that boozy crime-scene of a wall, we're both still clueless and laughing our heads off. Adventures. Many, many adventures. I'm terrified and I couldn't be happier.