Vilo Sky Webinar – Insights from a Stay-at-home-dad

I’m one of those strange people… yes, yes, I’m probably strange in many ways, but what I’m referring to is speaking in public.

I actually enjoy it.

I know many people would rather do lengths in a shark-infested pool or break it to Jeremy Clarkson that the kitchen is out of ribeye, rather than talk in front of a crowd. Thankfully, I’m not one of them.

So I was pleased when the amazing folks at Vilo Sky asked me to take part in a webinar discussing life as a stay-at-home-dad (or SAHD). The event is online on June 17th (2021) and can be registered for here.

I should be a fun evening of me pulling no punches in discussing what it’s REALLY like to be a man in a world that was until recently the sole preserve of women.

In the meantime, if you’d like to hear more of my SAHD experiences, check out Outofdepthdad.com.

What the dad bod is a sign of – and why we should celebrate it

Here’s a piece I wrote about the ‘Dad Bod’ for Mirror.co.uk.

What dad’s really look like

It’s time to face reality. It’s time to be honest about what dads really look like. Yes, some men do have six-packs, amazing skin, no wrinkles and practically no body fat. Yes, some of these men are also dads. I get that, but isn’t it time to say that most dads don’t have that type of body?

Let’s go further and recognise the reason why many don’t have that type of body is precisely BECAUSE they’re a dad!

There aren’t enough hours in the day

There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for most of us dads to live in the gym. We’re far too busy ‘dadding’ to spend any time thinking about our own appearance. For me, if I get the chance to brush my teeth in the morning – I think I’m onto a winner.

Most dads I know, especially with young kids, have given up the activities they used to do before they had kids. They simply don’t have time for football, running or going to the gym as they used to. These dads are far too busy with nappies, bath time and dropping their kids off at Cubs/Guides/Karate etc.

What the dad bob is actually a sign of

Developing a Dad Bod is a physical sign of the sacrifices dads make – it shows the devotion fathers up and down the country have to their children. It’s as simple as that.

Let’s change the way we view the Dad Bod. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s see clothing manufacturers using models that look like real dads, let’s see role models emerge who may be carrying a few extra pounds. Let’s see ‘beauty’ competitions that view men with a Dad Bod as ‘hot’.

I’m not saying dads shouldn’t embrace a healthy lifestyle, or allow themselves to become totally out of condition. What I’m trying to point out is we shouldn’t criticise fathers for not achieving someone else’s view of the ‘perfect’ body.

Chris McGuire, The Mirror

To read the full piece, click here.

Are we all a bit ‘Selfie’ obsessed?

OK, I’m guilty. I do pepper my feed with selfies that I try to disguise as candid photos. Why? It’s a good question. For the most part I’m rarely in company of someone able to take that vital shot of me looking windswept and interesting (the kids kept framing out the top of my head or asking me to ‘smile’).
I’m as guilty of the narcissism that lies at the heart of the Instagram selfie culture as anyone. We are now able to document every stage of our lives, every moment, every unoccupied nook and cranny of our existence. But, as Jeff Goldblum famously said in Jurassic Park: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. It seems to me that the world is awash with pouting, unsmiling images of those of us who are addicted to social media. As with all fashions, it will surely pass. I doubt it will be too long until photographs once more become the preserve of weddings and Christmas. Perhaps then, encouraged by the rarity of the situation, we’ll all return to flashing a smile at the lens.

Not your average cycling writer…

Honesty, that’s the key.

I come back to it over and over again. People can tell, always, when you’re trying to be pretend you’re something you’re not.

When I started writing about cycling I had to make the decision (and it was a decision) to be honest.

What do I mean?

In short, I had to make it clear that I wasn’t one of those lean, mean, ‘cool’ cyclists who clock up 100s of miles without breaking sweat.

Oh, no. I was one of those men on the wrong side of 30 (or 40 nowadays) who was carrying a little (a lot) too much weight, didn’t know a groupset from a twinset and could only manage a ride down to the all-night garage and back before collapsing on the couch.

I realised that there were many people out there like me – they were never going to be Chris Froome or even ‘Joe Bloggs’ the second-fastest fella at their local bike club.

I understood that these people were enthusiastic for change and more than a little bit intimidated by a sport that seemed to celebrate a bodily perfection they couldn’t hope to live up to.

It takes bravery to leave your house in skin tight Lycra when you’re carrying the extra pounds. It takes humility to smile and wave as the local bike club whizzes by, leaving you for dust. It takes patience to sit by the side of the road and change a flat tyre as white-van man toots his horn and shouts something unrepeatable as he speeds past.

There’s a whole host of people who aren’t photogenic, fast or fabulous on their bikes. They’re just folks trying to carve back a bit of life for themselves, despite the naysayers. I write for these people.

That’s why I share photos of me out on my bike (they’re never flattering), I tell stories of my failures (and occasional triumphs) and don’t worry when what I write takes a comical edge.

It’s OK to laugh at my experiences. Laughter doesn’t hurt anyone, really. I just hope, that after people have laughed, that some of them might get inspired to get out on their bikes too.

They’ll be glad they did…

Wrestling with embarrassment

Here’s a piece I wrote for Eastern Daily Press about my thwarted dreams of following my hero ‘Hulk Hogan’ and becoming a professional wrestler…

“There are very few people who can pull of a singlet unitard. It didn’t take me long to discover I wasn’t one of them.

It’s 2005 and I’m working in children’s TV when, as a result of extremely tight (almost as tight as the costume) budgets, I find myself cajoled into taking a break from writing scripts, to play a wrestler in a series of ‘hilarious’ skits. There I am in a huge blonde wig, thigh high boots and a leotard that leaves nothing to the imagination – strutting around a wrestling ring, against a much smaller opponent, prat-falling for laughs.

Dignity had well and truly left the building.

The thing is, as a kid, I’d loved WWF (as it was then) and WCW wrestling. These amazing pantomime-like events, with stars such as ‘The Undertaker’ and ‘Hulk Hogan’, were a TV staple during the late 80’s and early 90’s and I couldn’t get enough of them. I’d have sold my grandmother to be a ‘real life’ wrestler myself – sorry Gran!

Fast forward to 2005 and I find myself dressed in a ridiculous wrestling outfit, deliberately avoiding looking at my reflection in the dressing room mirror.  

Why?

Somewhere in my heart of hearts I hoped that a miracle might have taken place when I changed into the outfit – transforming my podgy body into a Schwarzenegger-style physique – meaning I looked like the real deal, wrestling-wise. Perhaps this moment would be the first step to fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a wrestling star?

It’ll be no surprise to you that no such miracle occurred. Far from looking like a pro, I looked like a prat. I had the appearance of someone who’d pulled the short straw when the fancy dress was handed out.

That’s life, I’d suppose.

I couldn’t help remembering my unsuccessful introduction to the wrestling ring when my other half put GLOW on the telly a few weeks ago. As I’ve stated here before, we’re box-setters. In the hour between our kids going to bed and our own trip to the land of nod, we gorge on Netflix TV series to unwind after very long days.

‘GLOW’ (the ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’) is a drama series, set in the 80’s, about a bunch of misfit female performers brought together to star in a low-rent cable TV wrestling show. If I’m honest, a programme about women learning to wrestle wouldn’t have been my first choice – viewing wise. At first I paid far more attention to my social media feed than I did to the TV screen, but, much to my surprise, with a suplex or two I was hooked!

After a glut of scandi-dramas, police-procedurals and period gangster fair, it’s so refreshing to watch a show all about a group of seeming no-hopers finding salvation in the most unlikely of places: the wrestling ring.

Glow brings all the fun and flair I remember from the OTT wrestling shows of my youth. The ring action, combined with behind-the-scenes intrigue and an amazing 1980’s soundtrack make an unmissable watch. It’s probably the campest show on TV, which, with the recent arrival of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, is really saying something.

What hits home for me, however, is the positive message of the show. Like me in that dressing room, over a decade ago, many of the GLOW wrestlers saw themselves in costume for the first time and didn’t like what they saw. Unlike me, they put any negativity to one side and got stuck in.

Which makes me think that maybe it’s not too late for me to take up a career in the wrestling ring? Anything’s possible.

Next time I put on the wig, boots and yellow unitard I won’t be playing it for laughs.

Not deliberately, anyway!”

Chris McGuire, Eastern Daily Press

Isn’t it time to take bullying seriously?

Here’s a piece I was commissioned to write for Metro.co.uk.

In it I examine my experiences of being severely bullied at school and how they’ve shaped my focus as a parent.

I still remember the whistling in my ears.

A sudden sense of the world being unsteady and the ground coming up to meet me. Landing hard, I was knocked out. Moments later, my eyes opened as several feet walked away. ‘You showed him,’ said an excited voice. The thing was, he hadn’t shown me anything. I still don’t know what I was punched for.

It was my first day at secondary school, and a sixth former (aged 18) had decided to attack this clumsy, naive 11-year-old, excitedly chatting about comics to some mates. My only crime seemed to be being bigger than my aggressor. But, though the size of a man, I was very much a child. This incident was the first of many. Persistent bullying became the background narrative to my school years.”

Chris McGuire, Metro.co.uk

Wax on, wax off…

I’ll do anything for my art… or for my cycling.

Did you ever see the piece I did for The Western Morning News about having my legs waxed? More and more MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) are doing it, so I thought I’d have a try.

Go on, it’s well worth a read…

Photos by the amazing David Taylor.

“Ready?” asked Lisa, cheerily.
“Ready,” I replied.
In fact, I was having second thoughts, but it was a bit late to call it off now. 
I lay back and the first layer of warm wax was applied to my leg.
I’m one of that ever-growing group of unfit men who’ve turned to cycling in an attempt to gain control over their wayward waistlines. 


“I don’t look silly do I?” I asked my girlfriend, the first time I squeezed into cycling kit. Her reply was brutally honest.
“You’re standing there head to toe in Lycra so tight I can tell what you had for lunch and you’re asking me if you look silly?”

Chris McGuire, West Magazine: ‘Wax on, wax off…’

My 2nd book ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’

My second book, in collaboration with the amazing illustrator Spencer Wilson, is called ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’. It’s the perfect read for anyone who works from home or is planning to take the plunge and leave the traditional (office bound) world of work behind.

“Ask the man on the Blue Peter Omnibus and he’ll tell you: homeworkers spend their days lapping up This Morning and Diagnosis Murder. As such, they have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the latest, celebrity-endorsed, streak-free self-tanning products, along with a detailed understanding of police forensics procedure.

Yet, the reality is rather different. As the old saying goes: ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. Homeworkers do have access to TV, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that they spend entire days watching reruns of Columbo. Remember, those who work from home also have constant access to their bath tub, but this doesn’t mean they spend every day up to their neck in Radox”

HOMEWORKING: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Published by Ice House Books this is my second time working with Spencer Wilson, after The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro.

I’m thrilled with the way this book has turned out – so please pick up your copy soon. ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’ is available here.

On yer bike!

I regularly write features for Cycling Plus, the UK’s most popular cycling magazine.

“Imagine the scene: the sun is shining and the birds are singing. You’re on your bike, riding at that perfect pace: not too slow so you’re burning carbs, not too fast so you take in the vista around you. Your freshly-shaved legs are looking good in perfectly fitting shorts and your tan lines are maturing nicely – in fact, it would be easy to be mistake you for a pro. You chat with fellow riders who are great company, while other road users happily, safely and respectfully keep their distance. The only thing on your mind is what type of coffee to order when you arrive at the friendly little café that lies just beyond the crest of the next rewardingly challenging incline. 

Too good to be true? Not necessarily.

At Cycling Plus we believe the perfect ride is always achievable. Here’s our guide to what you need for The Perfect Ride, Every Time.”

Writing for animation…

Over the years I’ve written for promos, interstitials and short animation. 

A favourite of mine was ‘Hairy Dog Stories’ a series of shorts I created for Nick Toons. 

The premise was: all dogs are allotted a set number of lampposts to ‘christen’ with pee every day, these are the stories they tell each other while keeping to a tough schedule…

The dogs were named ‘Arnold’ and ‘Toby’, voiced by the amazing Lewis MacLeod of Postman Pat and Star Wars fame. The animation was created by Zoo Films.