Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Here we go again

Off to Scotland obscenely early tomorrow morning, and staying in a hotel.

Who would like to give me odds on having a disabled room?

Watch this space......

Monday, 25 February 2008


How you can write something and be pleased with it.

Then a little later, you read it back and hate it.

Pretentious, badly constructed and vacuous.

This is made even worse by not being able to work out how you delete one, so now I feel both inadequate and incompetent.

And (he said, beginning a sentence with a preposition) today looked like it was starting SO well...

Sunday, 24 February 2008

That lovely warm feeling

Last weekend the sun was shining, there was a speedway event on at my local bike meet, a bike club I'd joined were going and I didn't have the kids.

No excuses.

Nothing to prevent me from going. Even the racing didn't start until this weekend.

Saturday passed in a bit of a fuzz of intended jobs not happening, but by the afternoon, even I'd run out of procrastinations and went over to where Witty (my bike is called Witty, as the last three numbers of the plate are WTT. Seemed apt.) lives and thought I'd start her up, just to get her ready for the ride-out the next day.

Click. WHIRRRrrrrrr......silence.

Dead battery.

Removed the seat to find the battery was dry as a bone. Odd, but happens I guess. Not wanting to risk getting stranded, off I took myself to get a new one, but the local shop closes at 5. I got there at 4 minutes past.


Off to a dealer where, £47 pounds later, I have a new battery which has to charge overnight so the following morning, after much swearing and a small amount of blood, it sits proudly in Witty's underseat cubbyhole. I'm ready. I'm going on a ride-out. Really.

Except by now, it's too late to ride over to North London to meet them. However, they are riding to my local meeting place, so I can meet them there.

I get there, but no sign of them. Hang around for around an hour, then give up and ride to the local tea-hut, which is mobbed, only to get a call saying they are there now. Ride back, no sign. Call and it turns out they are at the tea hut and I'd ridden (ok, paddled) within two feet of them. So ride back. Again.

Finally met up and after standing around for a while, the decision is made to ride to the Ace Cafe www.ace-cafe-london.co.uk, so off we go in convoy.

Riding round a major arterial route in heavy traffic has never been my favourite type of riding, but at least I was with my new 'friends', so I was having fu.... sniff sniff.... n or I'm su...snifff... re I would hav...sniff what IS that.. e.... it smells like smoke... e.

A glance down, a deep inhale, and I realise with delight that I am on fire.

Now, I do not have the sort of bum that makes girls giggle and sigh. Agents do not approach me in the street and ask if I've ever considered underwear modelling. I am, however, deeply attached to it and we have an understanding, a partnership. It's a bit like a marriage. We sometimes have our problems and issues, but we're both better off together and I most certainly do not want it cooked.

I made it to the Ace (the alterntive being stopping on the carriageway and being called names to make a Docker blush), but couldn't work out what was wrong. No sign of burning, other than the white acrid smoke that had been pouring from beneath my friend. In the end, I had to risk it, so left the others and rode home, opting to take the motorway so that I wouldn't be stuck in traffic.

I made it home and, some £150 later, have a new Regulator, replacing the "spectatcularly fried and melted one. Although you may need a new Generator too sir, we can't tell yet." Great.

And my new found friends? How many of them have dropped me an email, to see if I'd made it home safely?


So, my effort to have a ride-out has left me some £200 out of pocket, for which I could have had a week's holiday, has reminded me that people are, well, people and made me wonder whether Witty should be renamed Piss-Taker?

Most of all, it makes me think that I should change the bit of my profile that says my hobby is biking.

It will now read: "Hobbies - Procrastination"

Anyone wanna buy a bike? comes with a new battery, new regulator and pseudo-friends?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


I went to the gym tonight.

I haven't been for a long time and decided to cancel, but with a three month cancellation period, I still have to pay until the end of May.

So, what the heck, not as if I have a social life and I REALLY need to lose weight and get fit.

Ok, so "fit" is a relative term.

So, there I was, climbing the stairs to the gym and wondering when they retained Esher as their stairway architect. I swear that the last time I went, it was a simple staircase. Not even a Fiddler-on-the-roof jobbie, with one long staircase just for going up and another even longer going down. Nope, just a simple climb up open the door enter the gym common or garden staircase. I now know how those figures in his staircase picture feel.

Knackered. That's how they feel.

A few years ago, I was using the gym regularly and had an entire schedule worked out. I'd put together a playlist on my original MP3 player to take me through the whole thing so, in a rare display of organisation, I found said player where I'd left it and took it with.

I swear, by the end of song one, I was wondering whether the imagined extra stairs were real and I'd climbed to around 14,000 feet.

By the end of song two, I was thinking that maybe the MP3 player had gone wrong and was playing at 10% of normal speed.

By the end of song three, I was in pain. Not aches, not twinges, but the sort of pain no man should have to feel. The sort of pain that defines why women have the babies.

I have to drive about 500 miles tomorrow, and am severely worried that I may not make it to the car, let alone the meeting.

I hurt.

Friday, 8 February 2008


I have always worked in sales, which may either may or may not explain why I hate the utter bullshit that seems to surround sales as a 'profession'.

I think a lot of this comes from the other side of the Atlantic, where sales and selling have been escalated to a science, an artform and a profession. Entire sections of bookshops are devoted to the techniques, skills and science of selling, including shelves full of books on self-visualisation, Positive mental attitude (the above-mentioned 'PMA') and NLP. Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

I am ashamed to say I have bought two books on NLP.

I am proud to say I have read neither. Answers on a postcard.

To me, NLP remains a terrorist organisation focussed on the Liberation of Newts.

I don't know what the P stands for either.

But two things seem recently to have become even more popular and, as a consequence, are irritating me the way a spot just where your clothes rub irritates.

One of these is the "Inspirational Poster". Some arty photograph, of sea birds in flight, or a sunset, a small child offering friend a sweet, waves crashing on a beach (you get the idea) is accompanied by some pseudo-profound statement, such as

"Teamwork - when getting there together makes everyone whole"

The bucket is under the sink.

I know I'm not alone in my feelings on this, as increasingly, you can find DEmotivational posters on the net. Trust me, search and ye shall find.

Geez, now I sound like one.

Anyway, the OTHER thing that irritates me is the verbal equivalant of these. I had one thrown at me the other day. Upon remarking that I'd assumed something, I was told:

"Never assume, as you make an ass of you and me".

I refrained, on that occasions from thanking him for the insight into Bottom's transformation in A Midsummer's Nights Dream, and contented myself with musing that I may make myself an ass, but he was a self-made arse.

However, today, I was in a less tolerant mood.

So when told "There is no I in T. E. A. M." I could not resist.

So I pointed out "No, but there is a ME in it".

I love it when they can't think of what to say.....

Thursday, 7 February 2008

That's what friends are for

I got a phone call tonight.

A mutual friend, a friend for whom I acted as Toastmaster at his wedding, called.

He'd heard, telling me he'd had a call this afternoon.

I was really touched. Touched that at least one of our mutual friends cared enough to call and make sure I was ok.

"I got a call this afternoon" he said, and I was touched, "I've been asked if we can arrange a time to meet up so I can give you the things you left at her house. And if you have any bits there, plus her keys, we can, well, meet up to hand them over."

Odd, in a single sentence, I went from touched to disgusted and hurt.

I didn't shoot the messenger, but I DID tell him how I felt. That I was rather annoyed that after all that time together, she wasn't able to be civilised enough to meet me in person and hand stuff back. I explained that I have my kids this weekend, so I won't be doing anything. I explained that I would call him next week.

"Is it alright if I call you next week then?"

No it bloody well isn't. I will call YOU.

So, that's what friends are for. To do the dirty work you don't have the courage to do yourself. And this from someone who accused ME of avoiding confrontation. That's what friends are for. Just seems he's not one of mine.

There's a surprise.

So that is that

It seems that sometimes, love is not enough.

But then, you knew that.

Personally, I blame the Guild of Screenwriters. They fill our minds with ideas that love can conquer all, that love will find a way, that money can't buy you love.... no, hang on, that was the Beatles. Anyway, whatever they say, it's not enough.

I have bought (but not read) a number of those 'Idiots' or 'Dummies' guide to whatever, but have checked, and there doesn't seem to be one which is a "Idiots Guide to Relationships" or a "Dummies Guide to Women".


I could do with one.

But then, so I suspect could most men.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Funny old life


We all want one and when we get one, it causes nothing but pain.

At least, that's how it feels at this moment.

Why we believe, time after time, that this time it will be different and that two people, with different backgrounds, upbringing, values, attitudes, beliefs and desires can be together as one single being always amazes me.

Problem is, it only ever amazes me when it falls apart. Why can't I just accept and believe this BEFORE I start the process of getting hurt and, if I'm honest, of hurting?

Yet each time, I blunder on in the belief that the "whole will be greater than the sum of the parts".

I've never got round to a divorce, not least because of the likely cost of a highly contested argument about money and property. I've simply not had the money and, if I'm honest again, the mental resources for the confrontation and conflict. It's a failing of mine that I bury my head in the sand, avoiding confronting issues. I know it's a fault. I know I need to do something about it. But it's not that easy.

And before anyone reading this bridles at that, it's no different from someone with an intense phobia or addiction. It's always easy for someone to tell you that you just have to make your mind up to do it, less easy to actually do it.

So now, in the immortal words of Gilbert O'Sullivan (no, not Gilbert AND Sullivan), "Alone again, naturally".

And what's odd is that I spoke to my ex about a divorce and she's amenable to a discussion, a mediated settlement and keeping it civilised. She doesn't have the money (or will?) for a fight either. Not yet at least.

And then she asked me if my relationship had anything to do with this decision? And when I explained what had happened, she told me that she wasn't a stranger and that she was there if I needed to talk to someone.


The one person who I thought of as my opponent. The one person I felt would be judgemental turns out to be the one person who is there for me.

Funny old life innit?