Amy and I had one of those typical family conversations on Monday night, where you catch up with the day's events. "Done anything interesting, Dad?" she said. "Nothing much, I just nipped in to No 10 and had a chat with the Prime Minister." She thought I was joking. And still does. As if. Hopefully, she'll believe me when she sees the picture.
I was there to accompany Sean Scannell who had been invited because he won the Championship Apprentice of the Year award last season. It was an event to show the importance of apprenticeships and how important it was for companies to take on young people. The TUC and the PFA were involved. Adam Matthews, who's at Cardiff, was spokesman for the lads and did well.
As soon as Gordon Brown saw me he came over and I couldn't stop him talking. Straight away he said, "Unlucky that goal at Bristol" – you remember Freddie Sears' "goal" that went in but the ref didn't realise. I asked him about his Raith Rovers allegiance and told him mine was for Greenock Morton as that's where Sharon's grandparents live. He knew all about the area, and how much it's changed in recent years. We were chatting so much one of his staff had to interrupt and tell him to circulate.
The only disappointment in a great do was we did not get to see much of the building inside. When I went to the White House this summer we saw everything. Still, not bad in a year is it, the White House and No 10 Downing Street? Sean enjoyed it. I'd never seen him in a suit before (above right). I think he got it off Del Boy.
2. I take reporter to task over half-empty glass
I'm looking forward to the international break next week because we've had a tough run of matches, four out of five away from home, and I'm knackered. We've done well, too, not that everyone appreciates it. After a creditable draw at QPR in midweek a young lady interviewed me for Sky.
She started by saying, "Well Neil, you've no wins in five now, are you concerned?" I took a deep breath, smiled, and said, "Well I'd like you to start with, 'Well, Neil, you've only lost one in nine and have played QPR, Preston, Leicester and Cardiff away, and Forest at home, you must be delighted'."
I said to her, "Where do you come from, because your glass is obviously half-empty? We've done remarkably well to lose just one game, and that by a bad 10 minutes at Leicester."
It was an exciting game at Loftus Road, real end-to-end, just like going back in time. Both sets of fans were unbelievable, I guess it's the only derby this season for both, and the coaches were up for it too. Julian Speroni made a world-class save at the end and John Gorman and Jim Magilton on their bench, and all of ours, all jumped up shouting, "What a save".
We're playing Middlesbrough today and I'm looking forward to meeting up with Gordon Strachan again. I've a lot of time for him. He came a couple of times to watch us train and have a chat at Sheffield United when he was out of work, and when I've been up in Scotland pre-season I'd go and watch Celtic play. I wondered what sort of job he'd come back to and I think he's picked a good one. Working for Steve Gibson's a big plus and it's not often you get a team that's at the top end of the table.
As he found last week it's still not that easy, but they have often been better away from home, maybe they feel under less pressure. One player we'll have to keep an eye on is Adam Johnson, who cut us to ribbons when he was on loan at Watford. We've a cunning plan to deal with him. If we lose 5-1 you'll know it's not worked.
3. Favourite dinner fills hole created by No 10
There wasn't much to eat at Downing Street, just canapés and wine – it must be the recession – so I really savoured my favourite dinner that night: cod in butter sauce, fish fingers to dip in the sauce, and mashed potatoes. Having been in central London I was even able to read the Evening Standard while eating it. It's all very well giving it away for nothing, but I can't get it in Beckenham now.
4. Alexander the great keeps proving me wrong
I read this week that Graham Alexander has played more than 900 games. What a fantastic achievement, amazing for an outfielder. When he had played about 600 I thought about signing him but I watched him and thought his legs had gone. Three hundred games later he's 38, still playing and doing so in the Premier League. He's been an absolute credit and I couldn't be more delighted for him. He's a super example for any footballer. I used to hate it when his team got a penalty, I knew we'd never save it.
5. Boadicea spells end of my homework help
Sharon was away on Sunday and I had to do William's homework with him. I thought it would be straightforward. He was doing Boadicea, the warrior queen. He had to do these sentences and I couldn't help him at all. I was useless. He just looked at me, shook his head, and said, "Dad, I have to say, Mum's a lot better than you at this." It was just like hearing me talking. I said, "Oh yes, can she manage a football team?"
Later I read him his bedtime stories. I read a bit, and he read a bit; as he's reading I fell asleep. I woke up to him tapping on my shoulder and saying, "Dad, you're snoring." But he did get 10/10 for his spelling after I went through it with him, so it's not all lost.
6. Spurs soft centre gets my middle men off hook
After watching Spurs defending against Arsenal I said to my centre-halves, "I don't think I should criticise you as much." They had worked so hard but just switched off at a throw-in for the first goal. As for the second... I only ever see a goal like that on William's computer game. It was a couple of minutes that didn't do Ledley King's World Cup hopes any favours.
In this weekend's big match I fear for the Manchester United defence against Didier Drogba. Football has a habit of confounding everybody but Chelsea really do look full of themselves at the minute.
7. I hope there'll still be some fireworks tonight
Tonight we are going to nip down the road to see the fireworks. I read somewhere that one display is not letting people have sparklers, for health and safety, another place are not even having a real fire, just a TV screen with a fire on it. It's as bad as the headmaster who banned lads from playing conkers. What is going on? They'll be saying toffee apples are bad for your teeth next. The other treat this week is Sharon taking William to see Wicked, but I can't believe she's got to pay full price for an eight-year-old. That's scandalous.Reuse content