Monday, May 31, 2004

Ciao, Baby

First-born is off to Italy tomorrow with The Ex and The Boyfriend. She gets back on Friday, but I won't be here - I'm heading off to the Isle Of Man on Thursday for a couple of weeks of bad behaviour (with luck, I'll meet a charming girl. Clad in black leather, with an unhealthy motor-cycle fixation.)

I'm actually considering cancelling my trip. I won't see first-born for almost three weeks, and its breaking my heart.

Other news - I have sustained an impressive injury while (get this) polishing a car. You see, the ancient convertible I bought and have been restoring for the last few years for The Ex, first-born and I to tool about in as a family is now surplus to requirements (obviously.) However, I think it knows that its for sale and bit me while I cleaned it ready for prospective purchasers.

You don't realise how much you use your thumb until its out of commission.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Like A Rubber Ball...

Brighton and Hove Albion got promoted to the first division today. My brother is a huge fan, which means that I follow their antics (its a sort of osmosis thing I guess. Either that, or that same grim fascination with which one cannot help observing road accidents). It also means that when he visits tomorrow, he'll insist we celebrate by starting the christmas crate of beer he brought back from Belgium.

Hey ho, say I.

Of course, the jubilation will be short lived. It'll be straight back down to the second division next year. Boiiiing. Gotta love a team with the name of their sponsor enblazoned on their shirts. And that sponsor is called "Skint".

First-born is staying over for a couple of nights and has discovered a stash of books I had as a kid. Tomorrow I have to explain why the versions of Noddy she's read are quite a bit different from the original ones on my shelf. Tessie Bear comes across as a bit of, er, a fast lady too. Shocking, I tell you.

So. The Hair

I can't believe I'm dedicating a whole journal entry to hair. But I promised. And this is supposed to be a journal. So here we are.

First some background. I'm a low maintenance kind of person. I generally get my hair cut very short and then leave it until I can no longer see, then get it cut again. Its been unkindly compared to a shearing of a sheep.

As part of the make-over it was decided that this was no longer sufficient and a style a la incontinent tramp would have to go. So now I have a hair-style (or so I'm told) To be honest, it isn't a lot different. Only now it has a smattering of some sort of fixative.


On the positive side, the haircutting girl was very, very pretty. I have a feeling that her selection was deliberate to encourage me to visit more than my usual annual shearing. And yes, it worked. God, I'm shallow.

Tumbleweed Moments

Everyone has them. When you say something utterly crass, and just as the words leave your mouth, the whole room goes silent.

A conversation about dogs (although you'd be forgiven for wondering):

A: "Oh yes, we had Archie neutered just last year"
B: "Did you? Charlie has been a bit aggressive lately, and we thought we might have him done"
A: "Jolly good. Be careful though - Archie was frightfully nasty and aggressive for a few months after he was neutered"
Me: "I can't blame him - I'd be fucking aggressive if someone chopped my balls off"

This was a dinner party. I was the youngest by about 30 years. I'd also been at the beer. Everyone looked at me and then moved on to the topic of assylum seekers.

My daughter gets to read books during dull adult dinner parties. Why can't I?

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Fame At Last

Well, sort of.

I caught a bit of Radio 4's News Quiz this afternoon while driving back from a first-born visit. I'm positive I heard Linda Smith quoting from the 'Hamburgers Make You Gay' entry. I guess the question is this: is she one of the 7 million people who listen to Today, or a member of the lovely elite who read this journal?

My ego prefers to think its the latter.

Other news of the day; I have the date of the Decree Nisi. Its going to be June 18th. Six weeks after that it'll be game over, and the name of this journal will start to have some meaning. Thus far I've been very well behaved. This, I hope, will not last.

The hair needs its own journal entry. I have to take time to compose myself... come back in 6 hours. I've just got in 12 pints of proper beer from the local brewery and will have to make a severe dent in it before I can do justice to The Hair.

From The Shallow And Vacant Department

I'm feeling a little nervous. Make that a lot nervous.

You see, today is the final day of the Great Newly Make-over. We have the new wardrobe. We have the new shoes. This afternoon we will have the new Hair.

Having spent 16 years with the same basic hair-style, going for a change is a scary proposition. I know guys shouldn't worry about this stuff - maybe I've eaten too many hamburgers or something (thank you, Mr Tebbit)

On the plus side, the girl who'll be cutting my hair is very cute. So perhaps I'll instruct her to 'be creative' and simply admire the scenery.

Friday, May 28, 2004


I have a great family. I went out tonight with my father, my aunt, and my uncle (and his wife) and had a great time. Way, way too much beer was drunk, wine was passed around, and scary brandy based cocktails consumed. I had a great time. Even though they've all got at least 25 years on me.

However, the evening, and being back in this room has made me think just how domesticated I've become over 11+ years of marriage. Sharing a house and bathroom with my 18 year-old cousin has rammed it home. Below are the top five examples:

5) I make my bed every morning
4) I clear out all that distressing hair after using the shower
3) There is no junk on the floor of my bedroom
2) Washing-up and kitchen chores belong to me and my marigolds

And the number one example?

1) I always put the toilet seat down afterwards. Even in the restaurant's bathroom.

Dear lord, I think I need help. This cannot be good in the debauchery stakes...

Hooray For Surprises

There can be few nicer surprises than, after staggering back to the office following an extremely liquid lunch, discovering enough change in your pocket to not only extract a soft drink from the vending machine, but also chocolate.

2 working days left until I get to abuse the Staff, raid the bar and play questionable films in the cinema.

I may also watch some motorbikes in amongst all this debauchery. Or maybe not.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Hamburgers Make You Gay

Obesity hysteria has taken a hold here in the UK. There is much wringing of hands and wailing of poiticos but little actually being done.

Of course, what can you do? Fresh fruit and veg isn't as expensive as processed stuff, and anyone can take exercise. People are educated and are free to do what they like with their bodies, the same as smoking and drinking alcohol. And rightly so.

However, I have to share this, heard on Radio 4's Today programme this morning:

An 'elder statesman' of UK politics, Norman Tebbit, threw his two-penneth into the arguement by linking obesity in children to gay marriage through some of the most tortuous logic I've ever heard.

People came into the office to see why I was laughing so hard.

High Street Hijinks

How hard can it be to buy a television?

I trawled the shops yesterday, looking to buy such a thing. I had cash clutched in my hand and wanted to take one home. Could I find a shop that had any in stock? Could I heck.

The conversation went like this:

Assistant: (questioning grunt)?
Me: "I'd like to buy a television"
Assistant: "Oh, right. This is a good one here"
Me: "Oooh yes, its nice and silvery. Does it have two scart sockets?"
Assistant: "Oh yeah, its a Philips. Its got everything."
Me: "And Fasttext?"
Assistant: "Oh yeah, its a Philips. Scart, FastText. Its got everything."
Me: "How about a digital tuner?"
Assistant: "Oh yeah, its a Philips. Scart, FastText, Digital. Its got everything."
Me: "Can it mix concrete?"
Assistant: "Oh yeah, its a Philips. Scart, FastText, Digital, Concrete. Its got everything."
Me: "I'll take it. Is it in stock?"
Assistant: "No."

(repeat for every model on display)

The only place that actually had televisions in stock was the local foodstore. Go figure.

I bought a little LCD panel which is everso silvery. First-born is very impressed. The shiny nature of it brought out the magpie within her. That, and the fact that I've promised that she can have it in her bedroom.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

On Days Like These

I want to buy a boat. Forget the apartment, the toys, the sports car. A narrow boat plugging up and down the canals of England. That'd do me.

Plus the front bit (the bow?) looks ideal as an open-air hot-tub.

Ok - so I wouldn't give up all the toys.

But on days like these... yeah - I could do the boat thing for a couple of years.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Legal Update

My original plan was for a clean break. Unfortunately, it seems the judge saw differently and has insisted on token maintenance to be paid to the Ex. This is about £1 a year.

The catch is that it gives her leave to re-negotiate at a later date (up until First-born is 18 or she re-marries.) I'm already paying a hefty whack towards the upkeep of First-born. The re-negotiation is on top.

So I'll be leaving wedding magazines about the house on my visits: "You'd look lovely (if a little hypocritical) in white. No, really you would"

Just one more reason to give The Uncle a call, eh?

Garden Musings

Ok. So I got locked out. However, its a lovely evening. Birds are chirping. The motorway is almost inaudible. And I can smell the sweet smells of summer creeping in on the freshness of spring.


And, I get to geek out with the magic red card.

If nobody comes to let me in within the next 5 minutes, I'm going to call up The Uncle and relocate to a pub garden where I will enjoy the same sounds and smells, with the added pleasure of a pint of Chiswick.

Thought for the evening. The Boyfriend (who as regular readers may remember is almost blind) decided to creosote the fence and shed at the weekend. In a particularly purple shade. Consider that for a moment, and then pity all those poor plants, getting ready for summer and now coated in thick, gloopy wood preservative.

Everybody Loves A Rainbow

I have discovered something very exciting.

What could it be?

The secret to world peace?
The whereabouts of Tony Blair's backbone?
The location of my house-keys?

No. The jacuzzi does not only have underwater lighting. Oh no. It has continually changing colour underwater lighting.

The sheer tackiness of this device is surely worth every penny. Although I may have to auction a kidney on ebay to pay for it.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Having A Fiddle

I've been tinkering with template (nothing too daring, I can't munge HTML for toffee.) Let me know if I broke it.

Ok - not in quite so much of a dark place as earlier today (although going through photo albums to try and find some pictures of me and first-born, and discovering that even those had gone almost sent me back there.)

Here's a totally off-topic question concerning journal entries. You write an entry. You publish it. A little later you think "Damn, I wish I hadn't said that"

Do you:

A) Carry on regardless - the entry is in the public domain
B) Edit or delete the entry - its your journal, be as revisionist as you like
C) Post a correction entry with a long explanation for the correction
D) Repeat C over and over again until either Blogger collapses or the Prozac kicks in

Down To Earth

It only took thirty minutes. That has got to be some sort of record.

I arrived in the office this morning, full of the joys of spring (or even summer) and ready to bore any who would stand still long enough with tales of Belgium, beer and unhealthy living.

Within the first 15 minutes work stuff brought me down to a more normal level. And then messages from the Ex took me a lot lower.

I worked out a while ago that rather than buying a place to live, I could take the pay-off from the divorce, buy an old camper van and live off the lump sum for four years before I needed to find a job. Plus, nobody would know where I was.

In my darker times I find myself seriously considering this. Then I consider First-born and usually discard the idea. Usually.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Le Return

I think I'm still drunk. So please accept my advance apologies for more than the usual (high) level of typos in this post.

Belgium now has my respect a Good Place To Go. Lovely architecture (at least where I was), charming people, decent food and lethal, lethal beer.

Goodness me, the beer was magnificent. A huge variety, and a different glass style for each brand. I'm particulary impressed with the pink elephants on the Delerium Tremens glass (the bottle of which was interestingly clearly destined for export to the US) although the sheer bonkers nature of the Kwaks beer glass endeared itself to me to the extent that I bought a couple to bring home.

We drank far too much (in fact, somebody was a little poorly in the apartment last night. My brother denies all knowledge, so I chalked it up to another visit of the Vomit Fairy.) We got ourselves involved in a Hen Party. We ate too much red meat and fresh syrupy waffles. We leered and leched with the best of them.

I even managed to get on the plane home without causing an international soap-related incident (I have a vision of a darkened room, somewhere in the Pentagon, where a list of suspicious people is being read: "We call this guy 'Soap Man'. Watch out for him. He may know Kung Fu. Or not.")

Damn, it was fun. And in less than two weeks I'm away to the Isle Of Man TT Races.

Life is Good.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Horses For Courses

Day 2.

Oddly enough, I didn't wake up until 10 this morning (I'm an early riser normally - 5am and off to work on the bike. Not today.)

Another liquid lunch (after the Delirium beer last night, I went for Leffe) with mystery meat and waffles.

Postcard sent and souvenir bought for first-born. Huge box of chocolates purchased. And now we're off to the beer shop to buy a few crates (my brother brings them back on his trips home)

Hmmm... I can see a theme forming here...

(Side note - I can hear the sound of horses in the street below the apartment. How cool is that?)

Silly, Silly, Silly

I almost didn't make it.

While at the airport, I was perusing the shops and realised that I had entirely failed to bring soap with me. Fortunately, there are more shops at Gatwick Airport than in the town where I live and one was bound to sell soap.

Ok, it was poncy soap, but soap nonetheless.

It was in buying the soap that I did a silly thing:

Me: "I'd like to buy this bar of soap, please"
Assistant: "Flight number?"
Me: "BA4986"
Assistant: "That doesn't sound like a valid number to me. Show me your boarding card"
Me: "For a 47 pence bar of soap?"
Assistant: "Show me your boarding card."
Me: (the mind is saying 'Show the card' but the mouth runs on): "Thats ludicrous - why do you need to see my card just for a bar of soap?"
Assistant: "Security!"

Two large chaps in uniform appeared almost instantly and marched me off to a small white room where my motives for buying soap and not showing the card wbere questioned. Followed by a search. Luckily it wasn't the sort of search for which members of the UK government would pay ladies of Soho £50.

Still caught the plane.

I love Europe. The flight was 40 minutes (in which time they threw lunch and a beer at us), and I'm in a whole different country. Different languages, different currency and damn fine beer.

Yes. I am a little tipsy. A litre or so of 'triple' beer will do that.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Holiday Ro-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oad

The weekend starts here. Two nights in Belgium visiting my brother.

Ok - Belgium may not sound the most exciting of places to visit (famous for Tin-Tin, Hercule Poirot and chocolate) but in the company of my brother I guarantee that bad behaviour will be done.

I'll bring back some chocolate. Promise not to eat it all at once; you'll just make yourselves sick.

All Sing Along

Another proud Dad moment yesterday. First-born (like most children, and some adults) is a performer.

I blame all these reality shows.

It does mean that I get to do the proud Dad thing though. Last night the kids were doing a singing thing with each child doing their own thing. First-born was, of course, magnificent. She does have an advantage - she's very very short and looks more like a 4 year old rather than the smart 7 year old she actually is. This increases the cuteness factor. Oh, and she was the only one who had actually memorised her song.

But enough of the parental cheer-leading.

What I didn't realise is how many kids there were going to be. All doing their bit. First-born was 9th in a line of 50. So after First-born's bit was done I did a very bad thing - I used my mobile phone to call my pager, muttered "Sorry, I'm on call - patients and stuff" and snuck out. Does that make me a bad person?

The other driver for escaping was that The Ex was also there with The Boyfriend. "Why don't you come and sit with us?" she asked.

The woman really has no idea.

The Worst Meal Ever

The British are not very good at complaining. We just don't do it well. We'd rather suffer in silence and then whinge to our friends at leisure.

Last night we eschewed our usual Indian establishment for some pizza and pasta. As it transpired, this was a severe error of judgement. I'm a bit of a human dustbin; I generally eat anything. But this...

So we were very un-British and refused to pay. A united front was presented, even in the face of a knife-wielding chef. Instead we headed to the nearest pub, the landlord of which whipped up a few rounds of cheese and ham toasties. Magnificent.

There's some sort of lesson in there somewhere.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Feeling Bad....

I was asked to find a photograph of myself today. A simple task, but one that made me think of something. The Ex has emptied the House Of Oddness of all photos of me. Everything.

Pretty much all the pictorial evidence of my existence over the last 15 years has gone (although there may be some left of me and first-born.)

The more I sit and think of this, the sadder it makes me.

Time to open the emergency crate of beer that my brother gave me, I guess.

Feeling Good?

Last week I spent some time (see posts passim) helping my severely dyslexic cousin fill in a job application form. Took hours; but was highly rewarding - its easy to take the ability to write for granted and humbling to watch a sufferer writing with the same care as if painting a masterpiece.

He got the job.

Much whooping and cheering. Followed by Guinness. Today is one of the good days.

Maybe I should go for the treble and ask out one of the girls in the other office...

Playing The Joker

Today is lovely. The sky is a vibrant shade of blue that you just don't see in the UK very often. Brids are singing and the landfill next to which I work is humming quietly to itself. Even the rats are sun-bathing.

I used to work in a company that operated a pub-joker policy. This followed the rule that there were four pub-jokers to be played a year (in the same vein as jokers in a pack of cards) The whole company had to agree when they were to be played.

So we'd head out to a summer pub on a day like today, sit in a garden, and as the second beer was going down somebody would say "Today should be a pub-joker day". Discussion would then ensue and after another beer or two, the boss would agree that we could play the pub-joker card. So long as someone else bought the next round. And with that the company would close for the afternoon and the workforce would remain in the garden, enjoying the sun and drinking cold beer.

Happy days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Public Information Broadcast

In my dealing with lawyers, I'm starting to realise why people hate computers so much.

I mean, these guys simply don't speak English. Its a variant. A bit like Cockney, except without the lovable gangsters and punishment beatings.

Following the Acknowledgement (see posts below) I've now completed an Affidavit. The crucial thing about the Acknowledgement is that the Ex isn't contesting the grounds for divorce, which makes the whole process a lot easier. Amicability, eh?

Now, this Affidavit goes back to the court and shortly, maybe in a couple of weeks, we get the Decree Nisi. This is jolly exciting, because in less than two months after that the divorce is absolute and my pursuit of hedonism (and several interesting diseases) can begin in earnest.

In addition to the Affidavit, an Order Of Consent has been sent by my lawyer to the Ex's lawyers. This spells out the settlement in legal terms. We can action this (I get the pay-off, she gets the house) as soon as we like. Which is handy, because I really want that jacuzzi. With lighting.

Bit of a surreal moment with the Affidavit. I had to swear it with my hand on a Bible. The only things I truly believe in are myself, first-born's potential and the basic decency that lies within us all. They didn't have a book for that though. So I made do with a moth-eaten collection of pages with some very distressing stains on the cover.

Back to '98

In the CD player this morning - Republica

Can't beat digging out a random disc from the big cardboard box of CDs and remembering the events around the CD purchase. This one was bought towards the end of my first 'proper' job. First-born was about a year old. Happy days...

Driving back last night from baby-sitting first-born I sang along so loudly that this morning my voice is rather hoarse. Makes for a good voice-mail message though.

Lawyer at 2:15. I shall report back...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Legal Update

The legal process moves on. I know there are some quiet souls out there who came across this site after Googling for legal advice, so this will interest you.

The Ex's lawyer appears to have moved at lightning pace. The Ex took her copy of the Petition to the lawyer last week (see posts passim.) The lawyer appears to have filed this with the court without delay, since my lawyer received an 'Acknowledgement Of Service' from the court over the weekend, and wants to see me tomorrow to complete the paperwork for the 'Decree Nisi' (or 'Decree Nearly' as he calls it. The wit.)

This is a significant step. Once we have the date of the Decree Nisi from the court, then we'll know the date when the divorce will become absolute.

Yay Layers!

Did I say that already?

Sunday, May 16, 2004


So here we are. I'm handing first-born back after a fun weekend. The Ex adopts a concerned air:

She: "So how are you doing"

Me (internal): "How do you think I'm doing? I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my entire future has disappeared in a puff of smoke"

Me (external): "Fine"

She: "And how you coping?"

Me (internal): "I haven't beaten the crap out of your boyfriend, or told your employers that two of their employees have broken a Big Rule. Thats gotta be good."

Me (external): "Fine"

She: "Oh, thats good. Are you ok to baby-sit first-born tomorrow night"

Me (internal): "Only if you promise to die before me. This is the thought that sustains me."

Me (external): "I'd love to"

Oh, the curse of amicability. This journal provides an excellent venting point.

In the good news department, it looks like I might have the funds to kick off my apartment purchase on June 4th. Hurrah!

So - the jacuzzi. Underwater lighting. Tacky or essential?

Bungee Skateboarding

Today, I invented the sport of bungee-skateboarding.

To participate you need:

a) A skateboard
b) A length of rubber. The arm of gimp-suit will do. Failing that, an old bicycle inner-tube
c) Beer. And vodka.

There are several disciplines to this sport.

The first is attaching the skateboard to your body with the length of rubber. Subsequent stunts should make user of the elastic properties of the rubber.

The second involves attaching the board to a motor-vehicle with the length of rubber. The participant then attempts to remain upright on the board.

The third is a simple endurance event called "Waiting for the ambulance"

The Delicate Sound Of Snoring

That last post really ought to have been ranty rant rant 3, shouldn't it?

Hey ho.

First-born is staying with me this weekend, and I can hear her snoring and muttering to herself down the other end of this converted church. Its actually quite a comforting sound.

This time next week I'll be in Belgium, being dragged around some of the more distressing bars that my brother frequent. Ok. Maybe not "dragged around" - more like "dragged out of". As you can see by the above paragraph, I'm giving the hedonism a rest this weekend. So there'll be lost time to make up over next weekend.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Piers Morgan

I've typed, deleted and re-typed this post a lot tonight. I don't normally wander outside of my little sphere (heck, this journal is *supposed* to be self-absorbed) but I have to ask:

Mr Morgan. What the fuck were you thinking of? You printed fake photos of British troops torturing civilians. Why? To sell a few more newspapers?

What did you think was going to happen? The Arab world would say "Oh, right" and then turn to page 3 for the latest David Beckham gossip?

My cousin is serving in Iraq. Maybe you'd care to explain to him why you felt the need to publish an inflammatory story based on patently false evidence.

Neither side of the war debate has any right to the high ground anymore. God, what an awful mess.

What Is Red, Plastic And Glows In The Night?

Oh, oh, oh. I have a new toy.

As some may have surmised, a chunk of my work involves computers. Because I'm currently of 'no fixed abode' I've got a problem with out-of-hours work emergencies - if there's a problem, I have to be able to look at the systems (People Could Die - really)

Ordinarily I'd have a link in the house. Thing is, I'm currently between houses at the moment, and my elderly VW doesn't even have a cigarette lighter, let alone a satellite uplink.

The solution is this nifty little red plastic card that sticks out of the laptop and connects to a 3G mobile (cell-phone) network (GPRS if 3G isn't available.) At best, its a little slower than DSL, and worst its a bit better than a decent modem.

Its fab. Today I was paged while driving in the middle of nowhere, pulled into a layby, fired up the laptop and solved the problem. *This* is how the internet should work.

Sorry - geeked out big time there. Had to share.

A Place In The Country

Everyone needs a bolt-hole.

When I'm visiting my grandmother (she of the vegetables boiled to mush) I stay in a little place a few miles out of town. Its a converted church, run as a hobby by a widow (its not as if she needs the income - when I arrived today, she was proudly showing off her latest acquisition; an Aston Martin DB7. This woman is 70 going on 17.)

And its fab.

You see, this lady travelled the world with her husband and they filled this space with stuff they collected. Wierd, wonderful stuff. You can spend all day just poking around the two rooms that form the accomodation. I've stayed in suites in 5 star hotels that can't hold a candle to this place.

The thing it does is this: you turn up, you're asked what you'd like for your evening meal, what you'd like for breakfast, when you'd like breakfast brought and then have a chat (the owner's other hobby is as a herbalist - complain about an ache or pain, and you can guarantee that a little sachet will be provided within the hour, fresh from the garden.) And then you sit down and relax... it even works for first-born. After an hour or so of sitting around you're mellow.

I love it.

Thing is, I'm not going to tell you where it is. 2 reasons. Firstly, the owner doesn't take bookings anymore from people who haven't stayed before. And the other, is that if I wrote it here, it wouldn't be my secret bolt-hole anymore.

I'm a git. What am I?

Friday, May 14, 2004

Peacocks In Leather

...I forgot. Today I collect first-born (we're going away for the weekend) which means I can parade before the Ex like some sort of bitter and twisted peacock.

With luck, she'll be attired in her usual gear from Versaci's summer collection: "Dragged Through A Hedge Backwards"

I have a feeling that first-born will be impressed. And then demand a similar expedition.

Molten Plastic

Well, there we go. From 80's retro chic, we're bang up to date with 00's style and a very fashionable credit card debt.

I'd forgotten how much I dislike London. Particularly the tourist honeypots. Oxford Street tube station was heaving with rucksack wearing students, all of them standing around gormlessly. And what is it with those matching rucksacks anyway? Is it to assist the muggers in selecting victims?

Of course, as much I dislike London, I also love it. Kind of a love-hate thing going on there. So many theatres and shows to see, and museums and galleries in which to wander about. And clothes shops to visit.

It is done.

One frantic session of late-night shopping later (to the point where John Lewis in Oxford Street kept a till open after closing time) and we have a whole new look. Not one item that was lurking in my wardrobe was spared. Total replacement. I would offer clumsily drawn before and after pictures, but sadly I have no web space. Tragic, eh?

After the shock of the purchase, we retired to the employee's bar at Diageo (how great would it be to work for that company? If you're lucky, some companies have a subsidised canteen. Diageo offers a subsidised bar!) where brain-numbing cocktails were consumed and several pints of Guinness drunk. The inevitable Chinese meal followed.

A good night. A really, really good night. Just a haircut remaining, and I'm ready for some seriously debauched behaviour. Heh.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Emperors New Threads

Another cousin (and his stunning fiancee) has thrown in his lot with my pursuit of a debauched and hedonistic lifestyle.

Of course he would. He's involved in the marketing of Diageo (the company that gives us Guinness, Smirnoff and a range of alco-pops in the UK.)

They: "Right. Number one. You look like a tramp"
Me: "But I *like* these clothes. I'm very attached to them"
They: "Yes, attached like fungus. They've got to go"
Me: "Harrumph. Some of my clothes are older than *you*"
They: "That would be the problem... And as for your hair..."
Me: "?"
They: "Its very... er... 80s"
Me: "Its low maintenance!"
They: "Well. Its got to go."
Me: "!"
They: "So, we'll see you in Oxford Street at 6 tonight and melt your credit card. Then you can buy us dinner."

Deary, deary me.

Ranty Rant Rant 2

I should explain the whole Moron Tax thing.

For those not aware, in the UK we have a national lottery (same as most countries, I gather.) You pays yer money, you picks yer numbers and you watches a dreadful television show to see if this week is your lucky week.

They call it gambling.

I disagree. Gambling to me equates to card games, betting and the like. Where there is a modicum of skill involved (as well as a chunk of luck.) A fool and his money are still, more often than not, parted with surgical precision. But at least the fool can have a chance of winning based on her or his skills.

The lottery requires no skill. In fact, the ticket machines will even pick the numbers for you. And with the number of games going, you have to buy a lot of tickets to participate in them all. So, you can end up spending a lot of money to make sure that your numbers are in all the draws over the week (after all, wouldn't it be awful if you didn't enter one of the draws and that was the one in which your numbers came up?)

And of course, the majority of the people who play the lottery can't really afford it (demographics, dahling). That £5 being spent a week on tickets could be spent on buying junior some books, but no. There's an infinitely small chance of winning a million, so out with the cash and on with the television.

And there is an alternative. I don't know about the rest of the world, but the UK has Premium Bonds. You put your money in (ok, the initial stake is bit higher), and every month there's a draw with various cash prizes. The difference is that this is a savings account. So maybe you might win, maybe not. But your stake sits in an account gaining a little bit of interest. So when its time for junior to go to college there'll be a nice big pile of cash for him to take with him, rather than a pile of discarded lottery tickets.

Hence Moron Tax.

Rant over.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Two things - the last entry reminded me of the foghorn-like qualities of first-born's voice. She is a tiny child, but possessed of a huge noise. And she listens. All. The. Time.

Now, I don't play the lottery. In fact, I've been known in my more candid moments to refer to it as "Paying The Moron Tax" (but that's a rant for another day.)

First-born obviously picked up this expression, and while we were walking past the usual queue at the lottery counter in the local foodstore she boomed out "Look! Aren't there a lot of people paying the Moron Tax today, Daddy?"

I like to think that first-born's comments below were payback by some higher power for the embarrassment above...

Second thing - I've just spent three hours helping my severely dyslexic cousin complete a job application form. Its the most rewarding thing I've done for ages. So if you're feeling a bit jaded; help someone out. Do a favour and ask nothing in return. A guaranteed pick-me-up thats almost, but not quite, as good as three shots of good tequila.

Yay Lawyers! Part 2

I can't believe I've used the above phrase twice in one lifetime, but there you go.

Maybe the breed is undeserving of their collective reputation.

Let me recap - the Ex and The Boyfriend consulted their lawyer today. I met them this evening to discuss the result. They'd inexplicably dragged first-born along (the poor kid was also present at the lawyer's office. This is significant...)


Me: "How did it go?"
She (sulkily): "'k"
Me: "Any changes we need to make?"
She: "Nothing much - lucky for you we're sticking with the deal. The lawyer thought we should go for more but I said not."

At this point first-born looked up from the drawing she was doing, looked the Ex in the eye and, in the embarrassingly clear voice children tend to use in public situations, broadcast: "No, thats not what happened. The lady said that you were lucky to get off this lightly and to stop wasting her time, Mummy"

So. Yay Lawyers! And Yay First-born!

Wednesday Nerves

From the Reality Of The Situation department:

So far, in this nasty business, I've made most of the running (well, aside from the sleeping with the boss bit. The Ex has been taking care of that for the last couple of years, it would seem. Just as well - my boss is a 20 stone rugby playing ex-fireman, and so not really my type.)

I've seen a lawyer, discussed settlement terms and sent the petition to court (not the kind of petition you sign along with a whole bunch of other people to try and stop a food store being built over a library, no - this is the kind you give to someone to remove them from your life.)

Now the Ex is seeing her lawyer this evening. This could go in one of two ways. Either the lawyer says "Hmmm, yes - that seems reasonable. Sign here, please", or the lawyer panders to the Ex's warped sense of justice and starts fiddling with the terms. In which case it will all start to go a bit runny.

So I'm a bit nervous. Thus far, I've gritted my teeth and put up with moving out, The Boyfriend moving in, and the timing of the revelation in the name of amicability and minimising the potential damage to first-born. Question is, will the Ex do the same.

Apparently, when the Apollo 11 astronauts landed, Nixon had two speeches prepared. The first was the "attaboys" speech, the second was an "oh bugger" speech. In a similar way, I have two phone conversations ready to go. In a strange way, I'm rather hoping to deliver the "I hope the coldsore bursts" rant.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Babysitting Blues

Baby-sitting first-born last night. I always enjoy this; first we plugged through the maths homework, then drew pictures ("Dad, why do you always draw rockets?" "Beause I LIKE rockets") and finally bed-time stories. Happy days.

I then prowled the house, counting the changes. I tell you this, she didn't waste any time in adding The Boyfriend's stuff to the general clutter.

I wrote the word "Yuck" in the thick layer of grease that had built up on the oven and settled down to read a book.

I was also pleased to note, before they left, that the Ex is sporting a substantial cold-sore. Bitter? Moi?

Monday, May 10, 2004

The High Cost Of Living

Just got the mortgage cost through. £800 a month.

Sweet Jesus.

I feel like Doc Brown in 'Back To The Future' railing about his future self's excessive use of gigawatts: "How could I have been so wasteful?"

Time to reign-in or rethink. Damn. And I was really looking forward to that jacuzzi too.

Its at times like these that I thank the (insert preferred deity here) for the internet. And Aubrey The Arse Hamster (rated R for rudeness. Obviously.)

(17:12 edit - ok, ok, I know that would buy a mansion replete with a staff of maidens ready and willing to tend to my every debauched and hedonistic need in other parts of the world. But I don't live in other parts of the world. I need to live near first-born. Such is my personal tragedy. I think I'm going to get myself an old VW Camper instead. I have fond memories of VW Campers.)

Ranty Rant Rant


I am a cyclist, and therefore consider myself to be in a privileged position to have a damn good rant about certain other road-going cyclists.

1) Wear reflective gear. Just because you can see the car doesn't mean the car can see you. Especially if you wear black.

2) ...following on from above - wear the gear in the daytime and night. It may not look cool, but its better than being a hood ornament on a Volvo.

3) Lights. That poxy reflector on the back of your bike is just not good enough. You need a steady light and a flashing LED on the back, a recharge-able halogen on the front (with a back-up.) Remember - you can see the car; it has big lights. The car cannot see you.

4) The pavement is for pedestrians. You are riding a bike. If you're scared of the road, then walk. Idiot.

5) Wear a helmet. Casualty doctors and nurses have better things to do with their time than scoop up the brains of people who felt they looked a bit silly wearing a helmet.

6) Traffic lights and stop signs apply to you too, moron.

7) There is no number 7 (apologies to All Back To Mine)

Whew. That feels better. Can't beat a damn good rant of a Monday morning. It really sets one up for the week.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Sobering Up

Friday night has got to score an 11 on the Hedonism scale.

It began badly. We'd gone intending to see a film. Meeting up the bar, we took full advantage of 'Happy Hour' before staggering dunkenly into the cinema.

The film? Van Helsing.

I can only think of two saving graces in that film, and they were both attached to Kate Beckinsale. It really is career-endingly bad. The sort of thing little Willy Smith would cheerfully take money to star in.

I say this, because I'm aware that after my Kill Bill vol 2 post, people actually went to see the film and may have been a bit miffed that I didn't warn them as to its badness. So consider this a warning. This film is truly, truly awful.

We'd planned to go carousing, but after the downer of a film we opted to pile back to someone's house and raid their DVD collection.

Things went downhill (or uphill,depending on your perspective) from here on. Bottles of spirits were produced and the challenge was laid down: "Make us a Long Island Iced Tea". The first couple were great, but then the drunkeness took hold...

...I should explain. When I was at college, I used to play harmonica in a band. I was convinced that the more beer I drank, the better I played. Right up until someone played back the tape. The same thing applies to my cocktail making abilities.

By the fourth or fifth tumbler, the drink was little more than tequila, vodka and coke (I'd used up the rest of the ingredients, but there was lots of tequila left, and some-one went out for vodka. They returned after three hours, bloodied, but carrying a couple of bottles.)

(I can't tell you what happened after the fifth tumbler - I think it was around then that we started playing a variation of Spoof)

And during all this, we just sat around, ate pizza and ice-cream and talked rubbish in a progressively more drunken fashion until the sun came up. I don't think I've laughed so much for months.

Unfortunately, the hang-over kicked in last night.

Mother's Day?

What is it about Americans and celebrating things on different days? Mother's day happened back in March here in the UK. I guess Hallmark must need to spread their profits out over the year.

Mother's Day has special significance for me since it was the day the Ex revealed she'd been sleeping with her boss for the last 18 months. This just before first-born awoke and presented her with a home-made "World's Greatest Mum" card.

Timing, eh?

Friday, May 07, 2004

A Beer Or A Post?

The infinite connundrum.

I don't normally do this ('this' being book recommendations), but I've just finished reading Discovery Road. Its the diary of a couple of British lads who decided over a beer one day to cycle across 3 continents in a year - Australia, Africa and South America. Totally unsupported, with only what they can carry on their bikes.

Its funny and inspirational in equal measure.

And now, I go to drink beer and be useless all afternoon. Such is my lot in life

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Hey, hey 16k

...what does that get you today?

Digressing on the first line of a journal entry must be some sort of record. And my sincere apologies to anyone who clicked that link and isn't a) British, b) over 30 and c) Thought a ZX Spectrum was either a Japanese motorbike or a particularly obscure hi-fi setting.

I never thought I'd say it, but... Yay, Lawyers! Admittedly, the firm acting for me have done stuff for the family for the past 100 years (or so it seems) to the point where the receptionist who did the flowers for my wedding is now typing up the divorce petition.

Anyhow, it appears that there are a mere 2 months to go until, as one of my lovely commentors put it, I can join the land of the dating. Unfortunately, if its anything like attempting to enter the land of the free I'll need a biometric passport, genetic proof of my heritage going back two or three generations and a really contrite look on my face before a man with more bullets in his gun than points in his IQ lets me in.

Sorry - just had a flashback to a trip to New York a couple of months ago.

Today's task has been to sort out the equity transfer in the house (basically, The Boyfriend gives me a lump sum, and I give him the house.) Even the lawyer was faintly suprised at how fast the Ex has moved in this regard.

He: "He's moved in already?" he said, dust showering from eyebrows unaccustomed to being raised
Me: "I'm afraid so"
He: "Well, it only helps us as far as basing the divorce on unreasonable behaviour. But I wonder if your wife realises what she's doing..."
Me: "I'm starting to think she knows *exactly* what she's doing"

One of the purposes of this journal was as a guide for anyone in England or Wales setting off down this path. My next step (having seen the lawyer and sent the petition to the court) is now to get hold of an equity transfer form from the mortgage company. This effectively releases me from the mortgage (and any claim to the house) and transfers it to somebody else. Normally the ex-partner. In this case, The Boyfriend.

More forms. Fun, fun, fun.

(oh, and I have a date - just a drink. Nothing more. Really. Honest. I'm being good.)


I caused a traffic jam on the bike ride home last night. I pulled the bike into the middle of the road and crawled along, much to the consternation of the drivers behind me.


Some ducklings were being herded across the road by their mother. Awwwww.

I figured that my hi-visibility jacket would be a little more obvious to speeding drivers than a troupe of 6 inch high ducklings.

The ducklings clambered over the banking and into a pond. Not a word of thanks. Tch.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Pop Quiz

You had a huge crush on someone while at school.

16 years later, that person hears about your plight and, after telling a similar story, asks you out.

What do you do?

From The Bitter And Twisted Department

I see the Ex on a weekly basis, normally to collect first-born and to drop first-born off.

The Boyfriend thinks we should be friends (I think for the sake of first-born. I hope he's not about to suggest some sort of, er, 'group activity') and I go along with it for the sake of amicability.

This entails a dinner once every couple of weeks.

Usually there is an awkward silence into which I find myself talking in order to fill up the spaces. Because of first-born's presence, this is pretty stilted stuff:

Me: "So, how is work?"
She: "Oh, fine"
Me: "And your parents?"
She: "Oh, fine"
Me: "Not dead yet then?"
She: ...

And so it goes on. However, this time around, the Ex sat sullenly staring at the table while I chatted with The Boyfriend. Me suggesting that he probably enjoys intimate relations with puppies, and He asking how I'd managed to go 15 years without pouring water on the Ex in order to dissolve her with only a despairing cry of "I'm melllllting"

Ok, I made that last bit up. Although I'm not too sure about the puppies, you know. But I digress.

So we're sitting there, when she pipes up:

She: "So, how's N then?" (N is a female co-worker)
Me: "Fine, I guess"
She: "I thought you said she was having problems"
Me (wracking brains): "Uh, did I?"
She: "Yes, I distinctly remember it. You said she was having problems"
Me: "Oh, right. I don't remember, but if you say so"
She: "Didn't you help her out then? I thought you were friends - you've been out for an evening before, you know"

And then it dawned on me. She'd become tired of having to be the 'bad guy' in all this and was determined to seek out some adulterous affair in my past. What followed was a list of pretty much every female co-worker I'd ever had: "And how is X? What about Y? Have you seen Z recently?" - in the past, her interest in my workplace had appeared to consist of spending the salary. But no, she'd had a little black book logging the names...

I guess the fact that I'm able to work with the opposite sex without sleeping with them is something alien to her.

Propping Up The Economy

Newly Single's first rule for workplace productivity:

Drink beer at lunch.

Ok, it doesn't actually help with improving productivity, but it stops one feeling guilty about it.

(actually, I'm a little concerned about Blogger - it appears to be putting context sensitive ads in my banner linked to alcohol and binge drinking helplines. Am I really that fixated? To what sort of things will it link in a few short months? STD clinics?)

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Oddness In The Showers

What is it about showers in this place?

First there was 'Biking-Better-Than-Boffing' Man. Now there is Strange Little Old Man.

There I was, post shower and donning the gear for another day recreating Ricky Gervais's vision of the average British workplace, when an old chap who I'd never seen before peered through the shower curtain.

He looked in one cubicle.

Then the other.

"Can I help you?" I enquired, ever the gentleman (despite my incomplete attire)

The chap looked at me, startled, and scurried off.

I never saw him again.

(one day, I'll write about the curious incident of the cleaner and the soap)

Belgian Chocolate

Who wants some?

I'm off to sample some alarming Belgian beer in a couple of weekends time (my brother is living out there at the moment and, in common with many of my friends, has reacted to my hour of need by inviting me over with the alluring offer of getting drunk and looking at girls)

Yes, I may only look. Just until the paperwork is signed. After that...

It amazes me how the time fills up - when this all kicked off, my greatest fear was that I'd end up sitting in a room, moping about the unfairness of life. Instead, I've not managed to get through a weekend without some form of activity. Generally involving carousing.

So, a weekend in Belgium. A country noted for chocolate, Tin Tin and really, really frightening beer. We're talking stuff brewed by monks to be drunk like wine. Except that we'll be chugging it back in litre glasses.

One day, in a few short months, I shall be able to add 'sex' to the list of hedonistic and debauched activities. The time cannot come soon enough - I fear my liver may collapse with only 'alcohol' and 'really hot curries' being the only current entries.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Correct Cinema Etiquette

Britain is a country of binge-drinkers.

Really, we are. It all boils down to our licencing laws. These laws are written like a commandment:

"Thou shalt not purchase alcohol between the hours stated by thine Majesty's Government unless thou art in a restaurant, consuming food. And lo, even then thy Lord Blair shall consider it a bit dodgy"

What this ends up translating to is pretty much the whole country shutting down at 11pm (except for hideously expensive clubs) and much of the bar-going population attempting to chug as much beer as possible before the police turn up.

There is a point to all this.

I was in a cinema with a friend last night when I became aware of a commotion a few rows back. Turning, I found myself the unwilling voyeur of the antics of the two drunks who'd staggered in shortly before the film started. She over a row of seats and he enthusiastically behind.

To his credit, the chap didn't break his stroke, but fixed me with a watery eye and said:

"Sorry mate, we'll try and keep the noise down"

This being Britain, had they lit up a cigarette afterwards, I would have had to have politely urged them to either extinguish the evil weed or leave. But the rules of etiquette do not cover shagging in a cinema.

Never thought of Kill Bill vol 2 as a particularly erotic film either. Hey ho.

(I can see my own poor efforts in name of debauchery and hedonism have some way to go)

Saturday, May 01, 2004

An excellent night last night. You really can't beat an evening that starts with beers, continues with a curry and ends with expensive whisky (or should that be whiskey? - apologies to the spirits fans among you)

The worrying thing this morning is that I have no headache. This can mean one of two things:

a) The beer was fake
b) I'm still a tad tipsy

I guess I'll find out in 15 minutes time when I get on my bike to cycle the 15 miles home. Could be some weaving going on.

So - a high score on the debauchery front, not so on the hedonism (it was only guys - and I really think you need girls involved to get a perfect score)