A final visit to the ultrasound clinic this week gave me the opportunity to stare nonplussed at what appears to be a baked potato prancing around in the caregiver's innards.

Careful scrutiny of the monitor screen faintly suggests what appears to be the facial contours of an ugly old man embedded in the spud, confirming my grandmother's droll observation that we arrive and depart this world (if we enjoy longevity) with much the same physical features.

In theory, the birth is still some weeks away, but the scan suggests it could be sooner than later, so there's a change in the household's tranquillity. It's rather like closing up a warship for action stations - nappies are being stockpiled and the caregiver is preparing lists of essential phone numbers and issuing instructions on what my 6-year-old son requires in his school lunch.

I was surprised to learn he's consuming only sandwiches filled with hundreds and thousands and that I'll be wasting my time if I try upgrading his tastebuds with anything more wholesome.


Concerned friends inquire, "how will your young son react to having another little person in the house?" Of course, like all family, he'll learn to live with it. But he is apprehensive because he has it on good authority from his school chums that "babies stink you out".

Of course he's quite right. Newborn infants introduce a wide variety of unusual, cloying odours into the household, ranging from the ghastly to a variety of milk-cum-talcum-powder sweet smells that permeate everything. My concern is, will these pervasive new baby odours seriously interfere with my nightly enjoyment of drinking fine wine, or will I be forced to consume something stronger - like cognac, or even methylated spirits - simply to obliterate invasive foreign odours wafting in the air?

We all have our own little foibles when dealing with unusual situations.

While the caregiver stockpiles nappies and other essential paraphernalia, I have been making sure that my airline travel kit containing eye masks and sound-absorbing earplugs is conveniently stored in my bedside table.

It's common practice these days to know in advance the sex of the new arrival. People ask all the time: Is it a boy or a girl?

We have no idea, but I'm still vainly hoping it'll turn out to be a dog, which I'll joyfully call Rover.

The reason is very simple. Veterinary expenses are less onerous than school fees.