On November 13th I received an e-mail. ‘We’re writing to let you know that Best Dad I Can Be has been nominated for the UK’s Funniest Blog Award.’
What? I’d never heard of the award. My blog has only been live for a couple of months. And I didn’t recognise the name of the person who’d nominated me.
But hey, I was up for an award! Even my beloved teenage daughter, the acid-tongued Jessica, would be impressed. “Yeah, right, Dad. Good looking people win awards. Not someone who can’t even grow a beard for Movember.”
Fair enough – and there the matter rested. Until another e-mail arrived on 5th December. ‘I wanted to let you know that you’ve been shortlisted for the Funniest Blog Award.’ Blimey. The last thing I’d won was a pheasant in a Christmas raffle. Now I was in the final six for a national award. Surely this time Jessica would be…
“No, Dad, I will not ask my friends to vote for you. Try and find another way to embarrass me.”
I sighed. Once upon a time she’d been the Blessed Virgin, meek and mild.
I started writing a weekly column about my children when they were 9, 7 and 4. That was ten years ago – around the time the word ‘blog’ was being invented. Back then I was writing about nativity plays and party bags. Now it’s teenage angst, university applications and boyfriends I definitely don’t want to know about.
And now Best Dad I Can Be isn’t just a newspaper column, it’s a blog as well – hopefully the Funniest Blog in the UK. It’s updated twice a week, and I try and mix up current posts with some of my favourites from the past.
After all, being a parent is funny – our children do and say the funniest things, and if I’ve had a skill over the last ten years it’s been in catching the funny moment as it floats past and getting it down on paper. But there have been serious times as well. Back in 2005 I wrote a column that still brings tears to my eyes today: how we told the children that my Mum had died.
Family life is full of ups and downs, and that’s why I’ve found writing about my children so rewarding. The 300,000 words I now have are the best thing I’ve ever done – a unique record of their childhood. Sure, camcorders and photos are fine for the big things – school plays and family holidays – but a blog captures the everyday trivialities: the dead goldfish, the chocolate biscuits in the tumble dryer, the sheer hell that’s a family changing room at the swimming pool. And they’re what make up family life.
So here I am in the final six. Up against some long-established blogs with about a gazillion followers on Twitter – but I’m the only Mum/Dad blogger and I sort of feel that I’m carrying the flag for all parent bloggers. You can vote for me by clicking here. I really need you to do that. The trophy would be nice, but there’s a far more important reason. Jessica. She’d have to be impressed…
– Mark Richards
Mark Richards was for many years a dull person with a suit, a wife, three children, fourteen stripy ties and a business in financial services. One morning in 2003 he woke up with a mid-life crisis and began writing a weekly newspaper column about his family.
He finally came to his senses in 2010 when he sold the business, sent the stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing full time. He can now be found chained to a laptop, walking his dog on the beach or hiding from his teenagers.