Friday, 30 December 2011

Getting Old 2: then there'll be tears

'We're very sorry ladies and gentlemen, the next Richmond train is not
for another 15 minutes.'

Sod that for a game of soldiers. I'm out of work on time, there's a
match on telly and I've got a red wine thirst on.
Off the train at Turnham Green. TG terrace. Get to the T junction.
Sure it's quicker to turn right than left for the bus stop. Turn
right. Bullet across the High Road. Fast walk for the bus stop.

Getting old.

My R Whites secret lemonade drinking days are over.

Last night at the usual hour of midnight, I sneaked down stairs for my nocturnal fix of citrusy sugary pop. Naturally the light was off for fear of being discovered.

All was still. Somewhere a wolf howled. A distinct thud of the neighbour's size nine hitting fur. Somewhere a wolf whimpered.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Navigating the Dead Zone

Some would say it's divinely right. Others would say it is pure coincidence. I would say it comes down to poor planning.
Mary Carpenter (your one out of the Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and the donkey fame) claimed to have been a virgin. I'm not going to question the fact that as a married woman, she had not consummated her vows and whether legally this meant that she was married to Joseph nor the implications on the status of their child. Perhaps they were heading to Bethlehem for their honeymoon when whop! she was nine months pregnant. Joe was possibly still the worse-for-wear following the reception when much wine was turned into water and this possibly explains why he was searching for an inn and not a hotel when arriving in town with his heavily pregnant virgin bride. I should imagine that this led to some arguments between the newlyweds right up until they set up shop in a stable, thereby ensuring high December straw sales for evermore and a million illiterate Project Mangers with squiggly blue lines.

I am a fan of fiction and have read a fair amount but cannot claim to be familiar with either testament. However, as I understand it, the story goes that Mary was impregnated by God, apparently with the permission of a very understanding and hungover Joe. Let's not argue over the details, by the way, as they are not central to this post. I've never understood the appeal of Star Trek yet there are millions of Trekkies out there and we are able to live our lives harmoniously with our paths crossing but rarely. The crux of this biblical beginning - the Genesis of this blog, if you will - is that God chose to have Mary C. popping on the 25th of December, exactly one week before New Years Day.

This seems to be to very poorly planned. While I can understand the thinking, I cannot help but think that God has messed up his Gantt chart. 'Let New Years Eve fall but one day afore New Years Day? Perfect! Have a sherry. Now, wherefore shall one place the birth of the little baby Jesus? Late October? To fall equidistant between the August Bank Holiday and the New Year? Hmm, no. I can imagine that the Americans will get on their high horse about that once they have been invented and start giving thanks in late November. April? No, that will get in the way of Easter. Another sherry should help me think. What about in early February? Ah jesus, I've only gone and forgotten about Valentine's Day. Second Monday in May? Bugger. The French will go on strike as they've already got their workers' holiday then. Oi. OI! ALFIE!. Give me another sherry. In fact just leave the bottle; it's alright; here are my keys, I'll walk home when I've finished my calendar. It was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank, an old man said to me, won't see another one. And then he sang a song; the rare old mountain dew, I turned my face away and dreamed about you. Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum-dum.

Time at the bar, ladies and gentlemen please. Oh God, come on, let's get you out of here. I bloody love you, Alfie. You're me best mate. Just let me sort out the birth of Christ and then I'm off. Have you got any pork scratchings? Ah sod it. The week before New Years Eve; that'll do. It'll give them all a week off work and they'll thank me for it in the end.

Fast forward a couple of thousand years and here we are approaching the end of the year of our Lord, 2011. This is the thirty-somethingth time I have had to consciously navigate the Dead Zone and I am pleased to report that we are almost there. Between the turkey wearing off and the first glass being poured on New Years Eve, this can often be the most trying time for families and factually results in more pointless arguments than at any other time of the calendar year. Today alone, early results from a MORI poll indicate that door slamming peaked at 3.20 this afternoon when half the nation stormed upstairs, indignant that Indiana Jones had been chosen over Big. This will result in a slight rush tomorrow morning as DIY stores across the globe sell out of one of the festive season's most popular items: wood glue. In some extreme cases where Big was overlooked by Indiana *and* the Angela Rippon dance with Morecombe and Wise was chosen ahead of the You've Been Framed Festive special, entire doors will need replacing. This will result in a peak in door sales the first Saturday in January as the entire population will first attempt to repair the doors with wood glue before resigning to the inevitable: the door needs replacing.

However, this year, I am particularly pleased with my Dead Zone Performance. This could be anacronymized into DZP though I will refrain from doing so as I will only use this term twice more in this blog and then never again for the rest of my days. To shorten Dead Zone Performance into a more manageable DZP would therefore actually cost me more time in the long run. If I thought it was going to be adopted on a national or even global scale along the lines of the anacronym gods (ASAP and OMG) then I would utilize DZP on a more frequent basis but it won't so nor will I.

My Dead Zone Performance has been of a highly proficient, close to professional, level this year. I have applied almost the perfect combination of alcohol, fresh air, food and friends and have therefore only lost one day (a mere 25% of post-turkey-wearing-off time) to the sofa and mundane televisual options. 'But there are almost two entire days to go, man. There's no way you should be making such mildly self-congratulatory and wild claims when you are only two-thirds of the way to the goal', I imagine you are thinking and you'd be right. Partly. Chronologically, your thoughts are accurate. It is 7.33pm on December 29th and there are indeed 52 and a half hours remaining before we sing something about auld acquaintances being forgotten (along with all the other words in the song) but I have a trump card up my sleeve as tomorow I am attending a New Years Eve Eve party and navigating the Dead Zone is almost complete. All that remains is for me to publish this post, put the laptop down and head downstairs for a celebratory beer. 2012 is in sight. See you then. Cheers.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Happy Christmas you arse

Was out with Martin tonight. Been a while but you catch up as best you
can. You try hard but the inevitable topics crop up; do you mention
the wedding you didn't invite them to? Do you avoid the party you know
they attended but you were missed off the guest list? Or do you just
plough on and forget the past, enjoy the present and try to ignore the

I have found my calling

I am sure that I am not the first person to see the light at
Christmas. While all around are celebrating the birth of the little
baby Jesus by stripping the high street of gadgets, toys and pestles
and mortars while pouring as many mince pies and pints down their
throats as they can manage, I have humbly found my path.

It is a noble trade which brings joy to millions. I will be revered in
the highest of high places and riches will bestow themselves upon me
as never before. I do not mean the riches of monetary craving though
this will undoubtedly be a by-product but the riches found in the love
and respect of those with whom I come into contact.

I have been drawn to the career of a car salesman. Not just any cars;
oh no. But cars which have been pre-loved. I passed my interview with
flying colours. I collected my disciple from a local train station,
his chariot of choice gently spluttering in an endearing manner. I
took him for a crawl through a traffic jam, ably demonstrating the
flexibility of first gear. I talked of how there are four other
forward gears which are equally useful. I drove him to my house and he
bought the car.

No haggling over price. No look under the bonnet. No kicking of the
tyres. No questioning whether the radio worked. Not. Even. A. Test.

I am the Golden Child. I'm going to start my own company.
IBuyAndThenSellAnyCar (DotCom). This time next year I'll be

Sunday, 25 December 2011


Jesus Christ it's hot. Maybe I'm blaspheming; maybe I'm
grammatically-incorrectly informing the big JHC of the temperature;
maybe I'm wondering whether you can be blasphemous if you don't
believe in JC, aitch or no aitch. Maybe I need to stop analysing
everything I write as it slows the story down.

Billy Connolly. He has nothing to do with this blog and he has only
just sprung to mind. He would/does/will tell a story which is
relatively simple. For example, in one of his earlier live sets from
when I was around eight or nine (perhaps not one of his earliest sets
but one of the earlier ones where his brogue had softened enough for
my non-Scottish ears to pick up sufficient words to understand), he
told a story which can be summarised thus:

1. Went to the football.
2. It was a local derby.
3. Strange twist of fate: ended up in with the opposing fans.
4. They bullied him into getting Bovril, several times.
5. They took his shoe from him to ensure he'd return with the Bovril.
6. Each time he returned and was given his shoe, there'd be a huge
jobby in it (his word, not mine).
7. Forced to put it on.
8. Game ends.
9. Bullied fan interviewed by local news and asked about the
difficulties of rivalries and fighting between fans.
10. Punchline: there will be no harmony between fans while they're
shitting in our shoes and we are pissing in their Bovril.

Ten lines for one joke. Probably took you a minute to read it? Not
even? Well done, have an apple. Slower? You're going to have to move
your finger quicker along the screen.

Billy Connolly spent the best part of 30 minutes telling this one joke
due to the number of tangents he departed on. He's known for this and
is very good at it. I should imagine that he either writes enough
material to cover 20 minutes and then naturally stretches it out to
the full 90 of a live set or he writes for 90 and the audience has to
call home to extend the baby-sitter to the following morning.

It appears that I suffer from the same affliction. While cosine and
sine are among my top three trigonometric functions, tangent seems to
be my number one.

So anyway. It's hot. I wouldn't expect it to be. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Drunk Tank

Took the train to town today. Nothing massively unusual in that. I was merrily listening away to podcast after podcast, new recruit that I am to this whole podcasting thing, about 19 years after everyone else.

Took the train to town today and was listening away to a Friday Night Comedy, downloaded from Radio 4 because I am very well-to-do and that's the sort of radio station us well-to-do people listen to. My podcasting days are still very much in their infancy and are restricted to the output of the BBC. I am yet to stray to other podcasting sites as I am fearful of venturing to iTunes and catching iItis; a common disease of which the incurable symptoms appear to manifest themselves in the form of pods, phones, macs and pads.

I've dabbled, don't get me wrong. Leave an iPhone on the table in front of me and I'll be pinching and

Monday, 19 December 2011

Turns out Kim Jong was Il

Today I am sad as I have only just been made aware of the existence of
this site and now realise that it will be added to no longer; with the
possible exception of 'Kim Jong Il looking at the underside of a wooden lid'.

Kim Jong Il Looking at Things

This man could look like no other. Ask Rhod Gilbert.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Route 38

The long wait is nearly over. No longer will you have to go through that whole waiting-for-the-driver-to-actually-open-the-doors pain nor suffer from the old why-is-the-heating-on-its-mid-July adage as the solution to your problems is here.

From now on you can hop on, hop off, try to avoid the eye of the conductor and assure him that you have swiped your Oyster whilst travelling with the fresh London air wafting around the back of your knees;

"Boris's Wet Dream" is ready to roll.

According to the very reliable Labour spin machine, these puppies come in at a mere £1.3 million pounds each. That's the equivalent of 50 Priuses. Can't help thinking that they could have saved themselves the cost of redeveloping the Routemaster by just popping down to their local Toyota showroom and picking up 50 of the tree-hugging five seaters. They'd have probably got some sort of multi-buy discount and had them delivered to their home free of charge.

Passenger capacity would have risen from 126 (no standing on the upper deck or the stairs) to 200 though the ignominy of being spotted in a Prius may prevent the uptake.

I bet that you're reading this and planning your trip down to Victoria Station to be the first to ride the dream. Well, get to the back of the queue, sister, as I am there before you and I'm going to be riding the Road to Hackney long before you. Buses are expected every 12 minutes during peak hours so you're going to be 24 minutes behind me. Loser.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Don't believe in the Non-believing Saint David

Today I ran out of coffee before 9am.
Today I ran out of tea before 11am.
This evening I've been in a right arsey mood for no apparent reason.

Whilst not being medically qualified in the traditional sense, I've always prided myself on my diagnostic skills. However, I have come completely unstuck on this one.

What could it be? What could it be that has caused me to send myself to bed early?

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Oof. Exciting times in the world of blogging.

As you'll have seen, I have been slowly getting to grips with this whole malarchy. My mum's fingers are getting ever more tired as she sews an increasing number of achievement badges to my uniform and the arms are nearly full.

Thus far I have earned my:
- Start your own blog badge
- work out what you want to write badge (this may have been awarded
precipitously but I'll get there in the end)
- write a blog with some photos in it badge
- 100 page views in a day badge
- 500 page views in a month badge
- readers in more than 10 countries badge (Russia, Germany and now
Brazil seem to be avid readers - hallo, bom dia and gooddayski to you
- Stephen Fry as a follower badge

And now, with a great fanfare, I have been awarded my first You've
Been Sensored Badge!

One avid reader contacted me to ask me to change a previous blog due to offence inadvertently caused and this is a momentous occasion indeed. The offending item has now been removed and harmony returns to blogworld.

I hope I don't offend anyone else as is this is not my intention. Should I ever cause offence, let me know and we can hug it out.

Now I will return to listening to my badge-inspired, early nineties
industrial music.

You won't take me / you won't break me and you'll never make me / step in line, step march in time. / Well you can violate my body but my soul is still mine. / You must think that I'm fucking stupid, man, / if you think I'm gonna hang with the program, some fool schedule. / I don't give a shit about what is or isn't cool.
/ I make the rules, / I stand alone / and if they try a tap I leave 'em hangin' on the telephone. / One of these days I'm gonna get sectioned...

...or live off the massive royalties and get less angry in my stately home.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Warning: Melancholic Bridget Jones Diary Style Blog.

December the 6th.
19 days til Christmas.
11 more days of work.

Isn't it supposed to feel a bit like Christmas? By law, I should be out four to six times per week, catching up with all the people I haven't had a chance to see in the past 11 months.

My daily worries should revolve around which pub I am going to, when the last tube leaves (presumably it's pretty much the same every day though the alcohol always wipes those few bytes (1) of data from my
brain), how bad my hangover is going to be, how bad my hangover is, how to deal with my hangover and how long it is til I go to the pub and which pub I am going to, when the last tube leaves, etc etc.

December is supposed to whizz past in a blur of minimal productive work, a large bucket of booze and rocketing Alka Seltzer share prices until it spits you out the other side in front of a big plate of
turkey. And mince pies (2).

Mine has so far comprised of plasterers, plaster, plaster dust, EGR Valves, Map Sensors, a fantasy car, a dream car, a breaking-down car, car worries, HPI checks, a liver scan (4), floor scrubbing, sore shoulders, a battle with invisible mice and swollen woodwork (5). And
mince pies.

During the 139ish hours that the month which has the temerity to name to itself 'December' has been in existence, I have been to the pub. Once. And only consumed one pint. It was a great pint too. Made better by the incredible company and food. But one pint does not a festive month make (6). Thou shalt not spend all thy spare time thinking of
DIY and eschewing thy wine (7) as otherwise you'll be able to stomach
your turkey without the merest hint of nausea (8).

But, how will you rectify this, I hear you think.

And quite right you are to ponder this though be a little careful as you don't seem to have got the hang of thinking with your mouth open. I don't think you should be starting your thoughts with 'But' either; it doesn't convey the sophisticated intellect you would like us to believe you possess. Oh, and you're dribbling.

So (9), hopefully things are about to change. Friday: work do. Saturday: 30th party. Sunday: friend's party. That should give me a van-sized hangover that sees me through to Wednesday night, to catch up with people I haven't seen all year.

If I remember any of it, I'll probably write some drunken blogs on the last tube home.


Jesus Christ. My brain is so tangential (3) today that this blog actually comes with footnotes.

(1) On a side note: when you live in France and are buying a new computer, be careful with bandying the word 'byte' in people's faces. Pronounced 'beat', it is very close to the word 'bitte', French slang for 'penis'. So don't bandy bytes or even worse, megabytes in people's
faces; they'll look at you funny. Or buy you dinner.

(2) Similarly, to all of you French readers, careful with the word 'pie'. Pronounced your way, it is less appetising and very difficult to pick up with a fork.

(3) Don't question it.

(4) Turns out I have one.

(5) Oof.

(6) Shakespeare, B., 1792.

(7) Christ, J.H., 22.

(8) Rode, John T., 2008.

(9) So I started with a 'So', what are you going to do about it? It's my blog. (10)

(10) Sorry about the sudden outburst of anger. Back up the screen now, please.

(11) To confuse.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Gran Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

The BBC reports on the short-fallings and neglect of people being cared for in their own home.

My Gran was taken into a home approximately 4 and a half years ago. She tripped and fell one night when trying to go to the bathroom. My Grandfather was unable to provide the care she needed and it was decided the best option was to put her in a home.

I have no idea how much money my Grandparents had at the time but I think they could have been described as good-to-well off. My Grandfather was high up and, as I learned at his funeral earlier this year, very well respected in the RAF, following his heroics during the war. Upon leaving the RAF he took up a position in a bank and continued to be savvy and careful with his money and investments.  They lived a nice life in a pristine home on the south coast. When my Gran was taken into a home, my Grandfather - Grandpa as he was and always will be - looked into what the State could offer in terms of support. Not much was the answer. In order for my Gran to receive any aid, their total net worth could not exceed - and I am guessing here but I won't be far off - £30,000. So Grandpa worked his entire life, paid all relevant taxes and lived his life within his own means. He continued to pay tax during his retirement on any earnings he received through his shrewd investments.

The Rules state that in order to qualify for State assistance, you have to wait until your net worth falls beneath the thirty grand threshold. You therefore have to liquidise everything you have including your home. Once the big pot of money reduces to the equivalent of a large family saloon with leather seats and a few optional extras, you have to hope that you have sufficient funds remaining to drive from your rented accommodation to the council offices to be assessed as to whether your wife of rapidly-declining health is eligible for state assistance.

When it came to being means-tested to assess my Gran's suitability for State aid, he refused. In all likelihood this was down to his characteristically private nature, not wanting his affairs finely toothed with a comb but I hold on to the idea that perhaps this reveals he was an international man of mystery with hidden millions. Possibly. Probably he felt it was none of the government's business.

So my Gran entered a home, funded from my Grandpa's pocket. I believe the figure is in excess of £800. Per week. I actually believe the figure is higher but am afraid to ask. So for 40+ grand a year, you'd expect quite a high quality of service.

Four-and-a-half years later Grandma is still there, completely in spite of herself. Let's make no bones about it; she doesn't want to be part of this world any more, aged 96. If she could get herself to Switzerland, she would. But she can't. Her legs don't work. She spends every day being lifted from her bed to the bathroom to her chair to the bathroom to her bed. The TV is put on loud on BBC1; partly to compete with volume of the TVs of her neighbouring inmates, partly to provide some form of distraction between the hours of 7am and 6.30pm, partly so the staff cannot hear the screams.

She has a buzzer with two buttons to call for assistance: one for every-day requests such as a cup of tea, one for emergencies such as needing to go to the toilet. Yet she is told not to use the emergency buzzer unless she is in real need of assistance. Presumably soiling yourself does not come high in the league tables of emergencies as she is told not to use it for that. It seems that the only categories where use of the emergency buzzer is acceptable are along the lines of heart attack, falling out of your chair, inability to breathe and death. All of these are coupled with the caveat that they must occur within reaching distance of the buzzer.

One of Grandma's main worries is that she drops the buzzer. She spends a great deal of time ensuring it is to hand. Luckily, her Home has procedures in place to alleviate this worry. Each inmate has a form
which must be signed, timed and dated every four hours to indicate that they have checked the buzzer is within reach of the patient. When visiting on Sunday, I noted that it was clearly instigated in the
summer and that the form had been diligently completed for the first four buzzer-hand-inspections. Three months down the line, they remain the only entries on the form.

A year or so back when visiting, Grandma realised that she was in need of assistance to get to the bathroom. She pressed the buzzer and we waited. And waited. 10 minutes pass and nothing happens. We suggest pressing the emergency buzzer but, pointing out that she is not cardiac-arresting, has not fallen, can breathe and is not dead; she stoically refuses. Walking down the Corridor of Noise - I believe it was the Eastenders Omnibus with staggered arguments dependent on analogue or digital reception - I found four carers deep in conversation next to a rapidly blinking light which indicated there was a non-urgent emergency in cell number 8. Upon request, one of them reluctantly replaced his tea cup, triumphantly laid his hand (four twos and seven-eight-nine of clubs) and ambled along to my distressed grandmother.

Forty grand.

There's more but I'll leave it there. The morals of the story are:
1. Spend all of your money before its too late.
2. Don't save for old age; it makes no difference whether you have money or not. Either way
you're going to end up sitting in your own shit while others play Gin Rummy.
3. Book yourself a one-way Easyjet flight to Geneva.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas List

Christmas has officially begun.

Yesterday I went in to a pub and bought a guilt-drink: a take-out Coke
purely because I had used their facilities. Spending a penny cost one
pound fifty.

When leaving the Worst Toilet in England (not Britain; Edinburgh's
Worst Toilet in Scotland retains its British title for another year),
Noddy Holder was screaming 'It's Christmas'. Ergo cogito sum:
Christmas has officially begun.

This also signals the beginning of the Annual Fear. Within days I
anticipate receiving an email with a Word attachment entitled 'Jimmy's
Present List' which will detail all that Jimmy has imagined he or she
could possibly hope to receive, wrapped with varying degrees of skill,
on Christmas morning.

There will be several emails received from all family members. All of
them will have spent a great deal of time and care working out exactly
what they want. Some will be incredibly subtle in their specificity.
For example, three years ago, one item on a list was 'a trip to see
Carmina Burana being performed on stage.' So far so good. It was
followed by 'it is being performed at the O2 Arena on the 18th of
January next year. Seats in the front of blocks 109 or 110 will be
perfect.' There is a hell of a lot of thought and research gone into
that single Christmas List entry; one of many.

Come Christmas morning, the said recipient superbly feigned surprise
at receiving tickets to see Carmina Burana, row B, block 110, O2
Arena, Jan 18th 2009.

Not being adept at these Christmas Lists, I simply asked for my
presents to be given to charity. They weren't. I received a table

Now there's nothing wrong with a table Jenga though it made me resolve
to actually ask for something I might want the following year.
Naturally I forgot over the course of the next 11 months and received
other items which were kind, yet perhaps not everything I could have

Same last year. My Dad gave me a pot of Swarfega but that's a
different story as, unknowingly copying Joey and Chandler off Friends,
he finds it amusing to buy Christmas presents in Halfords.

So this year I am going to prepare. Holder's given me the Nod, so it's
time to Prepare My List.

Now, it is very rare that I actually want anything. I don't really buy
much of anything. At all. I am not materialistic and rarely feel the
need to buy anything for me. Every now and then I buy some music but I
don't really listen to much. I don't have an iPod and while I do have
three albums - yes, three! - loaded on my phone, it is rare that I
actually listen to one of them.

Last year I got tickets to a gig. That was unexpected and very
welcome. And the gig was excellent.
For my birthday, I was presented with a voucher for a night out at the
comedy. Though still unused, I know I will like that.

So that's two items for this year's List.

I've seen an advert for Peter Kay's new DVD. I think I'd like that but
would I find it funny? My student days are long gone so maybe I've
moved on and he hasn't?

Danny Baker had Steve Coogan on his radio show last weekend to discuss
his new biography: I Partridge. I never really got the whole Alan
Partridge thing so would usually dismiss the idea but Danny was so
gushing about the book that it made me think I should give it a try.

1. Tickets to a gig
2. Tickets to comedy
3 (possibly) Peter Kay's DVD
4 (possibly) I Partridge

This is where I need your help. I need your suggestions so please
comment with your ideas. If you don't, it'll be another table Jenga.
Do you want to have that on your conscience?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

It's Not

I am sitting on a tube next to David Dickinson. It is in all
likelihood not David Dickinson. Is David Dickinson the orange one in
one of those Antiques Roadshow rip-offs where they not only value the
tat but flog it too?
I am sitting next to not David Dickinson. He is wearing a wide
pin-stripe. He is orange. Probably not as orange as David Dickinson
but not David Dickinson can be proud of his citrus fakeness.

Not David Dickinson is writing an email. To Bruce. Not David Dickinson
is being a little playful. Not David Dickinson does not let me see any
more of the screen. This is not an exam, not David Dickinson.
Therefore I can only surmise that Bruce is not David Dickinson's son,
not Bruce Dickinson, not lead singer of not AC/DC. Hang on. Is it not
not AC/DC who not Bruce Dickinson does not lead sing for? I think I am
mixing him up with someone else.

Not Bruce Dickinson's surname is not Dickinson. I can see not David
Dickinson's screen now. Not (now not) Bruce Dickinson's surname is
Bishop. Not Dickinson. They work together.

Had not David Dickinson been not Bruce Dickinson's father then this
would have been eye-brow raising. They are of much the same age. It
would have been my duty - and yours, now that I have made you aware of
this - to report the strange paternity situation to the CPA. I'm not
sure if the CPA is the correct authority but they'd be able to pass
you on to the correct acronym. But they're not. So you don't.

Not David Dickinson has just been sat upon by a rumbustuos lady.

Thus ends my tube journey.

Last Night

Last night was brass monkeys.
Last night was spent at Wembley, watching a friendly game.
Last night I remembered why I hadn't gone to a friendly game for 12 years.
Last night I vowed not to go to another friendly game for 12 years.
Last night I was going to go for a post-match curry.
Last night I couldn't find an open curry house.
Last night WeeMan was all excited when he found an establishment
called Indian Ocean ('I was so happy to have found an open curry
house, I was even prepared to eat curried sea food if that was all
they did').
Last night WeeMan kicked a public bin.
Last night WeeMan discovered that the Indian Ocean sells furniture.
Last night we laughed at WeeMan.
Last night I received an urgent text from a damsel in distress.
Last night I abandoned The Curry House hunt.
Last night I took two buses to rescue the damsel.
Last night the damsel had left before I got there.
Last night I took an additional three buses to get home.
Last night I found the damsel at home. Less distressed.
Last night I invented a new cupboard-fridge-combo snack.
Last night I felt sick.
Last night I discovered the antidote to the cupboard-fridge combo snack.
Last night I found a box of mince pies.
Last night I felt a bit like Christmas.
Last night I eschewed a hot water bottle.
Last night was brass monkeys.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Monday. Brilliant.

If Monday isn't my favourite day of the week, it makes my top seven. Just.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

And it's all gone quiet over there

Hmmm. I fear I spoke too soon. Or rather I fear I wrote too soon. While I am keen to write and be critiqued (criticised?), it's still too early to be sharing anything I've written with the wider, unsuspecting world.

I have therefore started up a separate blog and have told nobody of its location. Essentially it is a notebook for me; I never remember to carry one of the various notebooks I have purchased or been given over the years yet I always have my Blackberry with me. Therefore, if I suddenly think of something while on the move, I can send an email to my blog (as I am doing now) and the notes will be added automatically, ready for the next time I manage to log in on a PC*. It's proved quite useful so far and yesterday I self-diagnosed (well, I provided the symptoms, the diagnosis was performed by someone far better qualified) possible mild autism in myself. Mild autism. Not full autism if there is such a thing. Drizzle Man, if you like.

*not such an easy task since the IT Hamsters at my work have decided to block access to the Blogger website I use for the blog you are reading now.

So, all this to say that I won't be writing much of any significance here on a frequent basis until I am in a position to share something more weighty with the world. Ideally this will happen before the Internet is superseded but don't hold your breath. I will undoubtedly persevere with the random thoughts but very much doubt they will find much of a purpose.

Bear with me.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wintry showers in the North. Cold and dry in the South.

And in other news, Colonnel Gaddafi has been killed in Libya.

Can't help but think that the headline news was mistakenly copied and pasted in the wrong order for the newsreader on Absolute Radio this afternoon. Still, maybe they've got it right if the arctic temperatures we are expecting lead to numerous Scots and dirty northerners suffering mild colds, flu, death or manflu.

Reminds me of a French national news program I once saw which was so national-centric that in the running order, George Dubyah's re-election came fifth, directly after a story about a mysterious disease affecting vines in a small region of south-west France. Again, I have to agree with the editor (or whoever it is on news programs who works out what gets into the schedule and in which order) as a bottle of Bordeaux is far more important than any lasting impact junior Bush will leave on the world.

Now this seems to be turning into some sort of news review, I may as well carry on as I watch John Snow teach me about the day's happenings.

It's all been kicking off as the inhabitants of Dale Farm are tasered away from their illegal homes. I've done an extensive amount of research and Wikipedia reports that it was established in the 80s whereas the Dale Farm blog claims it was the early 90s. Either way, we're looking at 20 years minimum so it beggars the question, 'How long do you have to remain in one place before you can no longer class yourself as a traveller?'

Saturday, 15 October 2011

He said 'let there be water'. And two weeks later, there was water

Ohhh yeah!!! Qui est ton père?!

Today, I've actually accomplished something by way of manual labour and I feel like I could walk on water. Water from the newly gushing font in the bathroom which for the last two weeks has been dry and sorrowful, that is.

You may recall two weekends back when I had the most worrying of dilemmas; riverside pub or Homebase, as I had a basin flex to replace? Two, actually.

Well, only 14 days or three hundred and thirty odd hours later, visits to 14 individual DIY or plumbing stores, encounters with 14 acned teenagers posing as experts, with only three of them failing to hide their superious snarls, I have only gone and finished the job!

Hot on the heels of painting walls and mixing cement for a month in the summer of 1996, I now have my next DIY cap feather: Tap Flex Changer Extraordinaire.

Would you like to see my spanners?

So while I have a little time before the inevitable call comes in from Nick Knowles or close personal friend, Kirsty Alsop (I know someone who once met her) about my daytime-primetime-home-improvement TV show, I thought I'd impart some newly gained wisdom to save you the pain:

If you're dismantling a tap and then plan to remantle it, buy some of these.

You will not regret it.

Now I must leave as my work here as done. Also because Raj is coming round in an hour to talk about plastering so I've got to quickly dash to Homebase to buy a tiny pot of paint and a pencil. The pencil is to go behind my ear and the tiny pot of paint is so that I can accidentally drip a little in my hair and on my jeans; all to give the impression that I am some sort of DIY-expert who knows what plastering probably costs so that I won't be ripped off by Raj and chums. Cannot wait to spend an hour talking about and making out that I know about 'skimming', 'PVA' and a variety of other daunting words which I like the sound of but have no idea of their meaning.

This post would not have been possible without the invaluable input of the following stores (in order) and their teenage staff: Wickes, Homebase, Wickes (again), Homebase (again), B&Q, Screwfix, Screwfix (again), Plumb Centre, City Plumbing, Plumb Centre (again), City Plumbing Supplies, Bath and Plumbing Superstore, Screwfix (yes, again. I like it there, alright?), Homebase (again again).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Cheap Shandy

I was right. I so often am. Most would disagree.

Others are wrong. They so often are. Most would disagree.

I was right this time though. A week ago I was riding the crest of the
page view wave. After the last post where I wondered whether I'd crack
the magical One Day Ton, I was astounded to do it again the following
day without posting a single thing.

Now, I'm not one for exclamation marks as I feel as though the reader
should be able to determine their interpretation of the words and
apply their own tone and understanding to what they are reading.
Exclamation marks are dictatorial, bordering on fascist, in their
demands for your brain to read the words in a certain way. I am one of
the brave few who rails against the unnecessary evil which is the
exclamation mark. Anyway, that sentence at the end of the last
paragraph could, I admit benefit from one. But do I now re-write it
with an excitable exclamation mark, delete this paragraph and continue
on worrying about people reading and thinking that I must be some sort
of run-of-the-mill idiot who brandishes willy-nilly an inverted 'i'
without the merest obvious hint of irony or apology? I'm not sure of
the way out of this paragraph now. I think I am going to abruptly end
it without any way, shape or form of grammar or punctuation and leave
people baffled as to where to go next and hope that they do not notice
what is at the end of

I was astounded to do it again the following day without posting a
single thing! This is incredible, thought I. For a little bit of
effort and a tiny 'please please please pay my blog some attention'
post on Facebook, the fruits of my labour were more than I could have
hoped. And that was just on Day 1. Day 2 was an almost-as-eager puppy
but then the market crashed. My page views dropped dramatically and
the high was gone as quickly as it came. But it's not the departed
highs which hurt; it's the devastating lows. One page view today. One.


But then the questions start messing with your mind:
- what am I supposed to write next?
- how do I know it will be interesting?
- will people tell their friends so that more people can feed my habit?

And that all leads to a paralysis which prevents any words finding
their way on to a screen.

So I've decided to buy a smock, quit my job and wear a beret. If I am
going to suffer from an inability to write, I've got to look the part.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Lessons in dealing with Customer Services: 1.0

Having spent most of my working life dealing with customers in one way
or another, I have always prided myself in my ability to construct a
balanced and objective stand point when discussing a contentious

Two weeks ago I was on the receiving end of someone placing a nice
sticker on my windscreen telling me my parking was fine. I was always
one to be pleased when earning certificates though have never been
asked to pay for one so was a little shocked to be told that this one
would cost me £110. Still, time moves on and I guess the economic
downturn means that I have to contribute towards the salary of the
fine gentleman who adjudged my parking to be fine. And, get this, in a
special early autumn offer, if I choose to pay for my fine parking
within 14 days, they have a 50% off sale so I can be the proud owner
of my parking fine for a mere £55. Bargain.

This morning I thought I would give the lovely people at Kingston
Council a call to thank them for this wonderful opportunity but also
to regretfully decline their kind offer as I felt that there are
others more worthy of having their parking recognised in such a way.

The Customer Services Gimp was most pleasant all the way through our
delightful conversation, explaining that I was fully deserving of my
Fine Parking Certificate. However, if I wanted to pursue my request
not to be the proud recipient then there was a process to follow so
that eventually I could speak with Big Chief Parking-Adjudicator for a
specific 15 minute slot in which I could lay claim to not having to
pay for my award.

Drawing on my years of dealing with customers, I succinctly and
objectively summarised the situation, the options and the way forward
before calling him a tosser and hanging up.

So now I am going to pay for my fine parking purely so I do not have
to speak to the same Customer Services Gimp again. One day I will
learn not to resort to ending frustrating conversations with
completely childish remarks purely because I am not winning the

And his mum smelled of poo.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Free beer!

Brilliant. Just what I needed; something else to get obsessed by.

It's only about 6 hours since I mentioned this blog to 111 of my
closest friends which makes 113 people who are aware of its existence.
Not that the other two aren't my closest friends; just that they don't
use or won't befriend me on Facebook.

Since then, I've got slightly obsessed with Page Views. I wish I
hadn't discovered that I can access the blog 'dashboard' on my phone.
That would have saved me a lot of time; not logging in every hour to
see how many people have read something I've written; being excited
when I see that 30 pages have been viewed in the last hour or
disappointed when there've been only a few views.

I can see this becoming addictive. So far, it's all 'wow, I wonder if
I'll get to 100 page views within 24 hours, that'd be amazing' but I
fear the downside. What happens when I get none in a day? Do I start
wearing blog patches to ween me off? Do I take up crack to lessen the
lows? Is this going to turn me into a druggie and a junkie? (You can
be both; my dad told me).

But then you can go even further into the stats. You can see how many
times each post has been viewed. Currently, more people have looked at
the mundane photo of an airport window than have read the lovely story
about my friend Paul.

I like to think that most of my friends are intelligent souls but it
seems that the majority would sooner look at a picture with pretty
colours than spend some time running their finger along the screen,
silently mouthing the words as they learn about my encounter with an
Irish legend.

Fair enough. It's a modern world with little time to spend reading
long-winded nothingness. Therefore, this post is a test. I shall
entitle it something provocative to see if I can entice you in. If
you've read this far then you'll understand the title is meaningless.
If you've not read this far then you are currently wondering what that
was all about. Or you're back at the airport photo.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

This is a man. This man is immense. And a close personal friend.

February, 2009. I'm in one of the finest pubs in the world, having a quiet pint watching Villa play someone I don't remember. That's not important.

The football finishes and next up is a Munster game so we decide to keep our seats in front of the big screen and watch the game.

Just before the game starts, some huge bloke walks in with his proportionately tiny missus and takes up position between us and the screen. Having paper-scissor-stoned it as to who was going to have to tell Huge Bloke to get out of the way, I found myself reaching up on tiptoes and knocking on the bricks he used in place of a shoulder. "Mate, would you mind? We can't see the screen." 

Preparing myself for some intimidating reply to which I would surely respond by offering him our seats and perhaps a pint for him and a fruit-based drink for his lady friend, he quietly responded with a "Sure, sorry about that" before squashing himself against the wall for the duration of the match.

At some point, my mate leans across to me: "I think that's Paul O'Connell [Munster and Ireland second row] and you've just asked him to get out of the way of watching his own team play." Shit. 

At the end of the game, I go up to O'Connell to apologize and he's very gracious in his reply. I ask if we can get a photo and he's ok with this and puts his arm round me. With the Blue Oyster Club music ringing in my ears, I return the compliment in what can only be described as a man-cuddle and my mate takes my phone to take a photo. Job done, I swap places with my mate and - slightly jealously, as I thought Paul liked me best - I take a photo of them embracing. 

Heading out into the cold air, we review the photos and discover that neither of us had actually pressed the camera button hard enough and neither of us had actually taken a photo. Nor had any proof of our meeting.

This is a mock-up of what the photo would probably have looked like. Paul is such a man-mountain that he makes the 6'2 man he is holding look like a mere child*. 

Anyway, from that moment on, he has become a close personal friend and we hold a mutual respect for each other. I watch him on TV and he goes on TV so that I can watch. We don't call, text or make any form of contact but I think that's best; we are holding on to that one moment we spent together and know that it cannot be repeated.

Paul O'Connell: close personal friend and hero.

*just so as I am not offending anyone, this is actually a photo of Paul and his son, Paddy. I'll take it down if you don't like it, Paul, but that would mean that you have to get in touch which would break our mutual unspoken promise. Your call.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

29 degrees. October 1st. Riverside pub or Homebase?

There are some people that do. There are some people that try. There are some people that don't.

No matter how hard I try to convince myself that I am a Try it's patently obvious that I am a Don't. Having partially dismantled the basin without flooding the bathroom I was beginning to convince myself that I am definitely a Try and nearly a Do. 

Seeing that I needed to remove another part of the basin before accomplishing the high end, professional DIY task of replacing the hot-water-in pipe (forgive me if I am losing you in the technicalities) I quickly identified that the millions of tools I have are not fit for the job. Suddenly I was afraid that I was slipping from my lofty Do/Try perch and set off for Homebase for a tool (Do) or, at worst, some advice (Try).

Cleverly forgetting that it's a Saturday and that means Homebase is staffed by acned teenagers killing time and trying to earn enough to fund their bus-stop-WKD habits, I could see Don't status fast approaching. 

Couldn't find a suitable tool. Couldn't find somebody old enough to shave to ask for advice. I Don't.

However, this shouldn't cause a problem. So long as summer 2011 doesn't end before summer 2012 then I have calculated that I will have no need for hot water. Ever again. And with that, I am off to a riverside pub which proves I Do, after all.

Testing testing one two three

---insert title here---

I'm still trying to get to grips with this blogging game. The reason I started was because I want to write. I think ultimately I want to write a comic novel (an amusing book, not a feature length Beano) or perhaps an oscar-winning feature film with John Merrick playing me in the lead role. But is that reason enough to start a blog?

Will it prove cathartic or will the repetitive attempts at writing allow me to improve my prose? I was inspired to start the blog by someone who has a very specific reason for writing a blog and therefore does not need to search for a subject each time.

I can't write every blog about writing a blog and searching for a topic so I am going to narrow it down to a field I can concentrate on. Not sure what though. I thought, 'I know, I'll ask people to suggest topics for my blog, that will save me some effort' until it dawned on me that nobody is reading this. Then I thought I'd blog asking for information on how to get people to read this but was quick to realize that that is a chicken and egg situation.

So for now I will leave it here and go off in search of people to read these ramblings. I will report back with my efforts.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

26'C. September 28th. London is hotter than Benidorm. Probably.

I always thought how funny the French are on the Riviera. August 31st,
it's 30 odd degrees and everyone is speedoed-up and on the beach,
gallicly shrugging as they sip their rosé. September 1st, it's 30 odd
degrees, the beaches are deserted and everyone is in trousers, coats
and hugging their cafés-au-lait as if winter is upon them.
It's not the changing of the seasons (and the tides of the sea) which
dictate their choice of attire but the date. I never understood this
mentality and they never understood mine; wearing shorts as I did
sometimes as late as December.
Fast forward a few years and the English summer finished in early
September. Well, the English summer actually consisted of a hot
couple of days in April, one in June and a nice long weekend in
August. Not a bad haul this year. For about a month, the heating has
been on on the buses, trains and tubes of London and the commute has
been jumpered and coated.
So, despite being warned of an Indian summer and having time to plan
appropriate attire, why do I find myself on a centrally-heated tube,
trousered and jumpered-up, wishing I was on the Riviera where these
temperatures are more at home?
I shall rue this situation as I hug my cappucino.

Monday, 26 September 2011


The 8 minute taxi ride for 35 Swiss Francs was a fair introduction
and warning as to quite how expensive this place is.

One mediocre fried 'char' (apparently it's English) with cabbage and
potatoes plus a cordon bleu (pork stuffed with cheese and ham) and
three beers came to 90 CHF (approx 70 quid) for two of us.

We decided against the desert menu.

Now sitting in my ridiculously overpriced hotel room watching French
M6 before a 12 hour day with our 'special' Swiss clients tomorrow.

The waterfall power shower makes it all worthwhile though.

Bed now. Early start tomorrow. Home in the evening. Cannot wait.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Oh point five

It'll become one point oh at some point when I am happy that I know what I am doing. We're still in testing stages at the moment.

All best intentions... what did I write last time? Something about writing something every day is the best way forward? So, anyway, one week later...

Oh point four


Oh point three


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Oh point two

Nothing to see here. Carry on about your business.

Oh point one

OK, bear with me. Just getting to grips with the whole blogging thing and using this site. Seeing as I have told nobody of its existence, I don't know that anybody is able to find, let alone want to read this. To be honest I wouldn't bother.

When you start a new journal or a new diary, you want the first entry to be significant, poignant, interesting and perhaps humorous. The type of entry where anyone reading it will chuckle knowingly to his or herself and will instill a desire to read more. I'm not convinced that this first entry is going to live up to expectations and for this I apologise.

However, to anyone reading this I have some comments: Firstly, thanks very much for finding this post. I have no idea how you ended up here but thanks for making the effort. Should you wish to make further efforts, perhaps there is some sort of tool that allows you to make comments to this post and perhaps you would like to reveal the voodoo magic you undoubtedly employed to end up here? Only if you can be bothered though.

Secondly, what the hell are you doing reading this? I don't wish to antagonize the very few people who have found this but have you seriously nothing better to do than read this? I appreciate that you are probably of the opinion that despite you have nothing better to do than read this, I must have even less to do as I am the one spending time writing it. To this, I respond: fair comment. Let's speak no more of this and call it a draw.

So I guess I need to write a little about my intentions with this blog. For years I have wanted to write and have told many people - friends, family, strangers, interviewers, a strange woman who appeared to maintain her sizeable stature to maximize the available flesh and to allow for as many tattoos as possible - that one day I will write a book. I've even bought books on how to write books and one day I intend to read them. I've been saying this for at least 6 or 7 years and, with the exception of one foray into working out the structure to a story with a twist which would transfer directly to a blockbusting, record-breaking, straight to VHS movie, I have made very little progress.

I saw an interview with Stewart Lee in that program where Robert Kryten Llewellyn drives folks round in his Prius interviewing them whilst driving round the streets of - presumably - their local town. Otherwise it would be celebrity kidnapping rather than a talk show on the road. Anyway, the one I saw had Stewart Lee on the streets of Edinburgh and they got to talking about blogs and how Stewart was one of the pioneers of blogs and how he tried to write something every day. Doesn't have to be much, just an observation or two about something from his day. He said that the posts are not always funny or worth reading but sometimes they are worthwhile and amusing. He also said that the discipline of writing a quick note about his day increased his writing speed, succinctness and story-telling ability. So that's what I am trying, too. I may have to work on the succinctness.

Oh, and if it wasn't Stewart Lee then it was Stewart Maconie. One of them anyway.

Right. Oh point one: done.