Big heads, crying babies and worrying too much about the No 10 cat…

MY mother reads this blog nearly every day – “but I only get halfway through the political ones”. Well, the cheek of octogenarians these days.

So I shall attempt to steer clear of politics today. It is true that I have a bit of a political head; equally true that it is a large head. And according to a report in the Times today, the size of a baby’s head may be an indication of how bright they are likely to be. Data gathered by the charity UK Biobank found that larger heads and brain volume were associated with higher intelligence. Well I can only nod my big head to that, although how much of that over-sized skull is still filled with pinkly functioning brain is anybody’s guess.

Staying with babies for a moment, the Times also reports on a new industry for frazzled parents: sleep consultants who charge £350 a night or £600 for a whole day to break babies’ bad habits. Our youngest is now 22 and her sleeping causes us few problems. But there was a time when I had to order my knackered wife back to bed when our daughter just wouldn’t stop crying.

The conversation went like this…

“Have you fed her?”


“Have you changed her?”


“Right put her in her pram and we’re going back to bed.”

So we left her screaming downstairs in her pram while we ascended to the faraway attic. She was sleeping happily when we came down later, although she didn’t sleep through fully until the night before her fourth birthday. Her father still doesn’t sleep through, but there you go.

So perhaps I missed a trick there. I could have charged my wife £350 for that bit of useful advice.

Parents nowadays must have more money than we did at the time, although I can’t imagine many can afford to pay so much. According to Katie Palmer, who has been running her sleep practice for nine years, the problem lies in what she calls ‘sleep association’. If a baby is rocked, breastfed or cuddled until they fall asleep, they start to cry again when they wake and realise they are no longer being comforted – “The cycle is maintained when the parent helps them get back to sleep.”

Which is pretty much what I was saying all those years ago, in a manner of sleep speaking. How to break my own sleep association is another matter entirely.

Here is a bit of politics but mostly it’s about cats, so don’t wander off yet, mother. When Larry the chief mouser at No 10 was spotted limping shortly after Theresa May moved in, her team  summoned a vet to examine the cat’s front paw. Larry was believed to have been in a fight with Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat. Now there is a row in the House of Lords, according to the Daily Telegraph, about who should settle the vet’s undisclosed bill.

At the time it was reported that Downing Street staff had dipped into their own pockets. Now Lord Blencathra has submitted a formal question to the government in the Lords saying that the government should refund staff who helped pay the vet. He also demanded that there should be “proper routine and emergency veterinary treatment for government cats, and any other officially owned animals in government service”.

Our cat limped in yesterday morning after a night-time fight with one of her feline foes. She was in a sorry state all day but we didn’t trouble the vet, having been down that costly road before. Instead we left her to sleep off her injuries, and this morning she seems brighter.

So perhaps Lord Blencathra is worrying a little too much.

So there you go, mother – a blog free of politics.

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