Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Bubble Bubble

I've not mentioned the apartment of late. While not usually superstitious, I'm starting to worry about tempting fate.

Time is very definitely running out - I reckon I have until mid-July before the seller will get bored of waiting.

And then, rather than luxuriate in a jacuzzi, making interesting shadows in the exotic (and, yes, deeply tacky) underwater lighting I'll be stuck living with my father for another six months, attempting to recreate the jacuzzi effect in the bath with the aid of a really hot curry and various bits of coloured cellophane.


Just An Ordinary Day

To some, the above photo represents tranquility

To others, it might represent an afternoon spent fishing

Still more might see it as a place of quiet contemplation, to read or write meaningful prose.

For me, its a breeding ground for damn mosquitos. I mean, have you *seen* my legs? I pedal past at 30 miles an hour, and the little blood sucking blighters still get me.

Different cleaner at work today. A guy who looks disturbingly like notorious mass murderer, Harold Shipman. He's often seen carrying large black plastic bags around. No-one knows what they contain.

However, he shares the wit of my other favourite cleaner. Today's comment.

He: "Hi"
Me: "Er, hello" (tricky to be too verbose in these situations, with a towel balanced somewhat precariously)
He: "You're the cycling guy, aren't you?"
Me: "Er, yes?"
He: (mysteriously) "Yeah, she was right"

And then he was gone. Right about what? What? I have a feeling that these guys are trying to mess with my mind.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

You're Wearing What?

You can't beat off-site meetings. Especially when they're in a place that serves proper food.

I've spent they day at a golf club, talking work. I must confess, I don't really 'get' golf. I tend to subscribe to Mark Twain's statement on the matter. I mean, I like walking, I like the countryside, I like taking quiet time to sit and count blades of grass.

But dress up in checked shorts and beat the heck out of a little ball for three hours? I don't get it.

And on the subject of golf-dress, please take a moment to check out the image. When I turned up for the meeting I was garbed in my usual off-site attire; jeans and t-shirt. The woman at reception took one look at me, sniffed, and wordlessly pointed her pen at the sign.

I leaned forward, and in a conspiritorial whisper shamelessly plagerised Churchill with "Madam, I may be underdressed, but you are ugly. In the morning I shall purchase a suit."

I didn't really. I ignored her and headed for the bar.

Nice But Sad

Ok, so I'm torn.

I picked First-born up after sports day yesterday and was to hand her back to The Ex in evening. We sat, we ate, we looked at the photos.

And then we were to leave. Me back to my father's. First-born back to The Ex.

Except First-born attached herself to my leg like an alien and wouldn't let go. So she came back with me.

Its nice. But ultimately sad. The courts, alas, do not work the way First-born thinks they will.

(she also instructed me not to get married again, but said she thought I should get a pretty girlfriend from whom she can borrow jewellery. Relationship advice from a 7 year old.)

Monday, June 28, 2004

Second From Last In The Sack Race

Today was First-born's sports day. She shares her father's athletic prowess, or total lack thereof.

The first race was the 100 metre sprint. I have a camera that I used to take photos of 200mph superbikes in the Isle Of Man. For First-born I had to jiggle it in order to create the illusion of motion blur.

The second was a relay race. Initially, I wondered if I'd misread the race card - but no, she hoved into view some distance behind the other runners.

The last was a mixed relay race. This time the teachers had the cunning plan of applying a handicap to the winning house. This handicap was, er, First-born. On a temporary transfer.

First-born herself, of course, didn't care in the slightest. Her quote:

"All this running about and racing? Seems a bit pointless to me. Can I have my book back, please?"

Of course, First-born has the glory of always being spectacularly last in every sporting event. I, alas, was always second from last, which is just not the same. Not the same at all.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Breakfast Of Champions

So this was breakfast.

Yeah. Not good, is it?

Time to behave for a few days. Friday is going to be bad. Really bad.

(EDIT: I should point out that the cans were empties that I couldn't be bothered to move out of the way. So they stayed and stared at me while I picked at the leftover chinese. Taunting me: "You know why your head hurts? We did that. Yes we did. Bwahahahaha.")

Legal Update

This is what a Decree Nisi looks like. My copy turned up on Saturday (having had the telephone confirmation during the week.)

Its a wonderful bit of paper that says in 6 weeks the divorce becomes final and the last 11 years will be like a bad dream. With luck, I won't find Bobby Ewing waiting for me in the shower. Victoria Principle circa 1978 would be ok though.

Its a testament to 'amicability' - if there are legal spats going on, it can take up to 2 years for one of these to appear. In this case, it took barely 3 months.

That concludes the legal update. When the dust settles, I'll collate all this and put it into a FAQ on the sidebar - I know some readers get a bit tired wading through the rest of the journal to find the legal bits and pieces.

Lessons Learned

Things I must learn:

1. When visiting someone, and they open the fridge and say "I think there's enough beer in there even for you", this is not an invitation to attempt to prove them wrong

2. Trying to shave when still drunk from the night before is a no-no

3. You are 32, not 22. You *are* going to pay for all that alcohol the following day

4. Selecting the late night film based on which looks the worst is playing with fire. One day, someone's going to hurt. Don't forget the horror of 2 Fast 2 Furious

5. Encouraging someone to turn up a sound system that has already been described as 'bowel loosening' following the consumption of a slighty dodgy chinese meal and too much beer is unwise

(a great session last night. Now I just need to prepare myself for Friday's activities...)


Now here's an odd thing. I was in a bit of a rush yesterday owing to the fact the First-born insisted on viewing number 25 of Toy Story. The net result was that I found myself having to buy a sandwich from the petrol station enroute to the evening's festivities (lining one's stomach and all that.)

I selected a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich and was just about to hungrily tear open the wrapper when I saw something printed on it that gave me pause.

"Exciting New Recipe"

Eh? Its a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I don't really see a lot of scope for flexibility there. Its content is defined by the name.

Just as tasteless as normal.

Do You Guys Speak American?

One thing we Brits do really, really well is take an American concept and screw it up. I've commented on our implementation of 'fast-food' before - basically, it isn't either (fast, or food. More sluggish and inedible.)

Today I present First-born's favourite place. An interpretation of a Tex-Mex diner with an amusing twist on a gun manufacturer for a name.

Upon entering the establishment you're greeted by a man wearing a cowboy hat, his face contorted into a rictus of welcome:

"Hi there! My name is (insert name here) - have you made a reservation?"

A reservation? For a bar? And why have you adopted that accent when I know you've lived down the road from my parents all your life?

The huge irony about the place is that its by far and away the most expensive place in town to eat. But they do give away plastic hats covered in glitter and put sparklers in your ice-cream, and until my preferred Japanese place does the same, this will remain First-born's eatery of choice.


Saturday, June 26, 2004


You're selling your car. Maybe you put an advert in a newspaper. Perhaps you put a poster up at work. Often you might put "For Sale" in the back window.

But why would you put a photo of your car in the window of your car?

Friday, June 25, 2004

A Close Shave

A note to car drivers. In particular, those driving their grandmother's old Nova with what resemble baked bean cans strapped to the exhaust and 'Max Power' stickers covering up the rust.

If I stick my arm out on my bike, it is because I intend to turn in that direction in the near future.

I am not attempting to dry nail varnish. While I admire the verbal wit of Eddie Izzard, I have no desire to emulate his appearance.

Instead, I am giving you notice of my manoeveur. Not unlike the indicator lights on your car. Except you don't know what they are, do you? I imagine they don't work anyway, since much of the limited power your engine produces is probably directed to producing sound waves capable of knocking birds out trees.

So, when you see a cyclist with his or her arm out it isn't a sign to overtake in the direction they're pointing, its a sign to hang back and wait until the manoeveur is complete.


Yeah - someone almost wiped me out today. The knowledge that they couldn't have failed to see me (I've been unkindly compared to a grapefruit on a cocktail stick when riding in my high-visibility gear) and so would have had to spend maybe 6 months at her Majesty's pleasure doing time for dangerous driving would have been great comfort to me as I lay on the mortician's slab.

Which reminds me. Legal stuff to do today - change Will.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

But On The Positive Side

First-born is staying over tomorrow night! Yay!

She's almost at the end of her school year (this time in a fortnight we'll be preparing for our trip to Disney; staying in a very posh hotel in London and then away on the Eurostar from Waterloo direct to the park) and had a glowing report, so I'm going to take her to her favourite resteraunt; a Tex-Mex themed place where the serving staff wear cowboy hats and affect American accents.

I suspect First-born is most interested in the sparkly costumes. I'm more interested in the fact they serve beer by the jug.

Have no fear though, I have not abandoned the pursuit of debauchery... oh no. The weekend looks like being tough on the liver (as well as several other vital organs.) And as for next Friday... one of the elder statesmen of the family is taking us on a day-long pub crawl of central London, starting at 9:30 in the morning. The last time I went to one of these sessions, I ended up falling through a wall (having climbed onto a table to pontificate about fine port versus fine wine.)

All Around England...

...the cry goes up: "We was robbed"

I'm in two minds about the whole thing (well, not the game itself - England's participation was pretty optional; the referee had decided who was going to win before anyone touched a ball.)

The thing is this. Football is pretty tedious at the best of times. When forced to watch, I generally watch the highlights. Watching a full match is a bit like watching a 'Directors Cut' version of a movie. Basically, the same as the original film but with lots of dull bits where nothing happens.

However, so is tennis. Because, you see, its Wimbledon fortnight. This happens once a year and lots of famous players come to England to get rained on for two weeks, the media hypes up expectation of some British player/wonderkid and then pours scorn on the poor chap when he inevitably goes out in the first round, and Sir Cliff Richard sings some songs to entertain the crowds who are shivering under umbrellas, wondering why nobody has thought to put one of those new-fangled roof things over the centre court.

So, with England going out it'll mean that the talk will be of Wimbledon. Less football = good. More tennis = bad.

Still, it could be worse. Throw cricket into the mix and I really will feel the need to open a vein. Or at the very least have a damn good whinge.

Can't Beat A Bike Ride

I still felt a bit odd this morning, but the bike ride soon cleared the general fussiness.

Yes, beer had been taken too. Always a bad idea. I'm going to devise a breathalyser I can attach to my laptop which will stop me sending maudlin emails to friends. Outlook would refuse to send until you breathe into the breathalyser, and if the alcohol level detected is at or above "stupid drunk person" level, it'll hold the emails until morning when you'd have a chance to review them.

I could make millions, millions I tell you.

I also got to wear my new outfit. I replaced the last items in my wardrobe yesterday (a pair of ancient shorts that were the consistency of cheese-cloth and a distressingly threadbare t-shirt) with some lycra shorts (with padding - 25 miles a day can hurt, you know?) and a really, really high-visibility top.

The shorts almost got me thrown out of the shop, owing to my brain thinking one thing and my mouth saying something else. I mixed up latex and lycra. Picture the scene:

Me: "Hello, I'd like to buy some shorts please."
He: "Certainly sir. Was there a particular type you had in mind?"
Me: "Well, yes. I rather like latex"
He: "?"
Me: "You know - black latex shorts. Skin tight on the thighs. That kind of thing."
He: "!"
Me: "...and hard wearing. My last pair got worn away on the bottoms."
He: "I think you're in the wrong shop, sir..."

Anyway, I manage to acquire a pair and proudly wore them on the bike today. And promptly got pooed on by a bird.

I'm told that it's "lucky" to be pooed on by a bird. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Feelin' Sad

After the null sensation over the decree nisi, an odd thing has happened tonight.

I signed the authority forms to allow The Boyfriend to 'purchase' my 'half' of the marital home.

Now its just a case of waiting until more money than I've ever seen appears in my bank account, and the transfer of property happens automatically.

For some reason, this has affected me far more than the whole marriage thing. It hard to articulate. I think its seeing something you've worked for for the last 14 years suddenly be taken away and enjoyed by someone else.

Its only a 'thing', and there will always be First-born, and I don't like feeling this way about something so material.

But I'm feeling really down tonight.

Time for bed.

A Bit Of Padding

This is something that actually happened a few days ago. It crops up here because I've realised that some padding is needed. There is quite an icky picture further down this page, and anyone contemplating eating should be forewarned and given opportunity to decide for themselves if they want to say 'Oh, gross!' out loud.

So, we're all in the pub, enjoying a beer and talking about cars. As guys do. One of our number has brought his new girlfriend along, mainly to prove that she exists. His claims regarding her beauty and niceness were so outrageous, we assumed it was the beer talking. However, for once he's been telling the truth. The lady is stunning, fun and has led a fascinating life. It seems she was once a professional gymnast.

Naturally, all the guys are paying her lots of attention. Which is when I made my faux pas.

Me: "So can you do all those things they do on the bars?"
She: "Some of them - my speciality was floor work though"
Me: "What, those odd contortions?"
She: (laughs) "Yes, 'those odd contortions'"
Me: "Wow - so can you do that thing where you can put your head flat against your foot?"
She: "Oh, thats easy. Yes. If there was more space in the pub I'd demonstrate. I can actually get my foot behind my head"
Me: "Gosh. Can you get both feet behind your head then?"

(I have to emphasise - I had no idea what I was saying. It seems the other guys did, since the sniggering began around the time she said 'floor work')


(the grin on my friend's face spreads at around the same speed as the blush spreads on my cheeks)

He: "Yeah, she can..."

Cleaner Update

Yeah. She was there again today. This time I was fully clothed (I guess her 'naked newly' sense must be a little off today.) Conversation went thus:

She: "Oh, hello deary. A good bike ride?"
Me: "Yes, lovely thanks."
She: "Oh, about yesterday..."
Me: (uh oh)
She: "I hope you aren't worried that I'm going to lodge a complaint or anything. You shouldn't be, love - I've seen enough men without their undergarments in my time... cheerio"
Me: !!

Now, there are two really disturbing things about this conversation. The world is truly messed up if a woman can wander into a mens changing room and then lodge a complaint about the nakedness therein.

The second is that she's 'seen enough men without their undergarments' in her time.

I mean, I'm pleased for her and all. But that conjured up an image that I could well have done without.


Remember my comments about the canteen at my workplace, and the way its' wares are a guaranteed cure for constipation?

Here we have a shot of the deli. Tomato salad with free dead fly. Yum!

To Buy Or Not To Buy

Today's post comes from the Thinking Out Loud department.

Decisions, decisions. As the process drags on (extracting a settlement from The Ex and The Boyfriend) and UK interest rates continue their inexorable climb upwards I find myself facing a dilemma.

Do I hold fire on sorting myself out a place to live?

Rationally, I should. The UK housing market is a silly thing at the moment - there is only one way for prices to go at the moment, and that's down.

On the other hand (and I feel really guilty about this) living with my father is slowly driving me insane. And I think he's a bit offended that I've taken to wedging a chair under the door-handle to guarantee a modicum of privacy.

I thought about renting a place, but having always owned my own home, I find the idea of paying someone else's mortgage offensive.

And of course, there's always the jacuzzi issue... gotta have that underwater lighting.

Yeah. I'll carry on. A swift bit of mental arithmetic (ok, ok, I used Windows calculator) confirms I could still afford the payments even if the interest rates went up to 10%. I'd just have to buy cheaper beer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Fun In The Showers

The reason I'm able to ride to work in the morning is because there are showers here. Otherwise I'd be a sweaty Newly, and nobody would want to talk to me.

Although, now I come to think of it, that wouldn't be such a bad thing...

But I digress.

The office cleaners have a habit of bursting into the changing rooms unannounced. And today, a lady who looks slight older than my grandmother made an appearance. Naturally, I was entirely naked (being just about to enter the cubicle.) She gave me an appraising look:

"Cold morning was it, love?"

And then shuffled off to push a filthy mop around the floor. Sadly, it took about 10 minutes before any ripost wittier than "F*** off" sprung to mind.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Chiropractor Shmiropractor

I've spent a large chunk of the evening on the phone to First-born, trying to persuade her that her spine isn't going to fall out of her bottom.

Of course, if she'd ever sampled food from the staff canteen at my workplace, she could have that experience on a daily basis. Even I, the human dustbin, refuse to even purchase sealed confections, let alone the gloop that has been sitting on the hot plate for the last 30 years.

No, what happened with First-born is this:

The Ex picked up a leaflet in the local shopping centre offering a free consultation with a private chiropractor. She's always been a bit of a hypochondriac, and so off she trotted with First-born in tow.

The guy basically said that both their backs are messed up, and they need to start a programme of consultations lasting a year.

Even The Ex saw through that one, and left. But not before First-born had listened to all the horror stories and got them jumbled up in her head, the net result of which is the first sentence of this entry and a terror of lying down in bed for fear she might 'trap a nerve in her vertebrae and not be able to move ever again'.

So First-born and I have had a long conversation, and with luck I've rolled some of the mental barbed wire back.

Stern words with The Ex tomorrow, I think.

I Don't Get It

I've bored at length about hom much I enjoy my bike ride to work. Admiring the countryside and swerving to avoid the squishy roadkill. How unlucky has a rabbit got to be to get run down on a road that sees about one car every 7 years?

So here I am, pedalling along through a section of the ride I call 'bluebell wood' owing to the fact that the ground is carpetted with bluebells in the spring. Birds are twittering away. Sunlight is coming down in bright shafts of light through the tree-cover.

And some bugger has decided to dump a bunch of kitchen appliances by the side of the road.

I just don't understand.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

More From The Record Collection

Today's random CD from The Big Cardboard Box was by Sheryl Crow.

It had a track on it called "Every Day Is A Winding Road". A person crueller than I might suggest "Every Song Has A Whining Note" as a worthy substitute, but I'm deviating again.

Its got the following lyrics:

"I hitched a ride with a vending machine repair man
He says he's been down this road more than twice
He was high on intellectualism
I've never been there but the brochure looks nice"

Now, tell me, do you reckon that Ms. Crow (or whoever wrote those lyrics) jumped up and did a little dance at their own cleverness after writing that last line? Call it 'The Clever Jig'. I do it when I've assembled something from IKEA, and it doesn't fall apart when I stand it up. Instructions are optional. Superglue is not.

Last comment on that album - I really like the track "A Change".

Happy Birfathers Day

I have a really great family. I'm very lucky.

Today was a triple celebration; my brother turned 30, my cousin turned 26 and it was Fathers Day. This called for a family party. And it being summer, this involved burning sundry pieces of dead animal flesh and dubious vegetables on a distressingly unstable barbecue.

Of course, this being round my cousin's house, the barbecue was actually a space-age device that looked as though it belonged in orbit, rather than squatting in the garden.

First-born spent the morning painstakingly creating cards because she is:

a) Artistic, creative and talented
b) Too cheap to buy proper cards

(the actual answer is c) She couldn't afford to buy a card because she'd spent her allowance buying me a surprise gift. And yes, it brought a tear to the eye.)

My cousin was very proud of his new creation. He has begun to make his own sausages. These two-foot long behemouths sizzled nicely on the grill while he gave a blow by blow account of the manufacturing process. Not for the first time, I considered vegetarianism.

I digress. The food was excellent. The company was excellent. The beer was excellent.

Today was a good day.

Burning The Quill

Seems like fun girl and all round good-egg Moxee is hanging up her blogging boots for good.

Its a sad thing because, unlike most journals that end when the author either got bored, got a life or just ran out of things to say, Ms. Mox called it a day when someone blew her anonymity to folks who didn't need to know.

Miss Issues posted a list of rules recently. Number 3 was all about protecting anonymity. And with the end of Moxee's journal coming fast on the end of this, it got me to thinking - what would happen if anyone I know got hold of this stuff? Initially, nothing - I'm a pretty open person; nobody I know would find anything surprising here.

But supposing some kind person forwarded it on to The Ex?

Should I stop posting until July 31?

Or should I go by The New Newly Single Rule Of Journals: "Fuck 'em"?

I've got some stuff about fun stuff that happened today, and then I think I'll sleep on it. Next week is the week of the 5 day bike ride.

(oh, and longtime readers should note that I used the 'b' word in honour of Moxee's departure. You shan't see it used here again in this lifetime :-) )

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Happy Things

I spent a goodly part of this morning (at least, up until the American office woke up and began paging me) in bed with a beautiful blonde girl.

Yeah, First-born is over and at about 6am she sneaked in, waving the Toy-Story DVD and a moth-eaten toy that seems surgically attached to her whenever she's in her night clothes.

So we watched Toy Story (23rd time), The Making Of Toy Story and read some of my really old, pre-political correctness Noddy books. And we had breakfast in bed.

This more than balances the grief of the previous two posts. Just wanted to share.

Exactly 6 weeks to go as of today.

Annoying Things

The Ex was in a strange mood today.

She'd been drinking again and was a little maudlin. The Boyfriend had made himself scarce.

Here are some quotes:

"First-born said she doesn't like me and wants to live with you. Its not fair."
(well, what the fuck did you think would happen? - you moved her father out and your boyfriend in within the space of a week without warning. First-born isn't stupid)

"Why won't any of your family talk to me?"
(well, duh)

"My parents won't stop talking about how great you are. Its really upsetting me."
(you're mistaking me for somebody who cares what your parents think. Did I tell you I was going skiing over new year?)

"Why were you so rude in front of my friends and The Boyfriend when you picked First-born up? You hardly said a word! I thought we were being amicable."
(keeping my mouth shut seemed the best option)

And it looks like they want to defer a portion of the settlement...

Hateful Things

What is the biggest blocker on the pursuit of a debauched and hedonistic lifestyle?

Is it money? Nah... you don't need a lot of cash to behave really badly
Is it The Ex? Nope. Well, not after July 31 anyway (and, to be honest, I'm not going to wait *that* long)
Is it the Law? Noooo, I'd never do anything illegal. Well, not unless I was fairly sure of getting away with it. And if not, and the policewoman was pretty, well...

So what is it?

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Dr Mobile and Mr Pager. The two most evil and and despicable devices on earth (unless one counts the Disney animatronic puppets running the US and UK at the moment.)

While I'm on call, these babies rule my life. I may not consume alcohol (because I might have to drive a car.) I may not be more than 30 minutes from the office (in case I can't solve the problem with my laptop and magic red card.) And either could go off at anytime during a 24 hour period. And frequently do. 'On Call' is one week on/one week off.

Today was a bad day. I had stuff planned with First-born - we were to go shopping for clothes for our trip, have lunch out, go for a swim, maybe see a film and so on. The gruesome twosome had other ideas.

In the end we managed just the swimming, and I hate myself for it.

However... Call-Out is paying for my jacuzzi. Its like a Faustian pact.

Flag Waving

Some journal entries are thoughts of the moment. Others are things that have been mulling around in my head for while.

This one's been rolling about for a few days.

When I first went to the US, I was 15, and somewhat nonplussed by the fact there wherever I went there were US flags fluttering. On flagpoles in towns, on stores, on people's houses, even on cars. I just thought it was "one of the things They do that We don't"

I went several times in my 20s, and this time found it all a bit nauseous. Land of the free, and all that. I felt pretty proud of my cynicism. All that flag waving - pah.

I was last in the US earlier this year and this time I felt a bit different. Perhaps envious. In spite of everything, many Americans are intensely proud of their country. I chatted to a friend who'd been involved in war protests:

"Why keep waving the flag?" I asked, "I thought you hated what was going on"
He looked at me, nonplussed, and said "Yeah, of course I don't like the policies and going to war on a lie, but I love my country. Don't you?"

And I knew he was right. I love being English. I wouldn't want it any other way.

So this week cars, houses and pubs are festooned with the English flag. Its because the national football team are off in Portugal, kicking a ball around a field.

But wouldn't it be great to keep that national pride going even after the game is over?

And no, there's no flag on my bike at present. Too much drag. Ahem.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Decree Nearly

The clock is ticking. Today is June 18th.

Around about now, some old chap is being roused from his slumbers by an attentive nurse and dressed in the wig and robes which, but for a drunken suggestion by some member of royalty around 300 years ago, would make him appear like an aging drag queen rather than a man capable of sending the innocent or guilty to spend time at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

(Yeah - I don't really go for all the paraphenalia that goes with the English legal system)

This elderly man will then be presented with a pile of paper. In between snoozes and the odd coughing fit (shaking dust off the wig) he'll come to my paperwork. He'll sign it, and then clock will be ticking. The Decree Nisi will be complete.

The clock is ticking. 6 weeks and 1 day from the Decree Nisi comes the Decree Absolute. Then its partytime.

I think I should feel sad. Or angry. Or something. But I feel nothing. Odd.

Except, of course, for the unbounded joy at knowing today is Friday and in 42 minutes I'll be in a pub, enjoying some of Fullers' finest ales.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Happy Days

Did I mention that First-Born is staying over? Right through until Sunday evening. She was positively jumping with excitement (mainly because her great-aunt and grandfather fuss over her something rotten rather than anything to do me.)

I may have to drop some subtle hints about Fathers Day.

Good to have her under the roof, and I think we're starting to get into a routine.

Now, here's a thing. Living at home with a parent for the first time in 14 years is an odd, odd experience. I left home under somewhat of a cloud, aged 18, and shacked up with The Ex. And here I am, 32, and back.

Don't get me wrong, my father is really making an effort. But I haven't even got a lock on my door. Just now he burst in:

"Why are you using that computer in the dark - its bad for you eyes"
"You should be asleep - you've been looking very tired lately"
"Don't forget to eat breakfast before you leave tomorrw, and make sure you make some for First-born"

And I have to fight the urge to turn into Kevin The Teenager

And for gods sake man, knock. I could have been doing anything in here. Anything.

With the apartment purchase dragging on forever, I may have to consider sleeping in the car.

Pebble-Dashed Legs Are The New Black

When the local council can't be arsed to tarmac a worn-out road, they chuck a load of gravel over it and let passing cars flatten the whole thing down.

This is good for the motor industry - cars get scratched and rust. Great for car owners - they get to try rally stunts around corners. But bad for cyclists, who get blasted by gravel every time a car passes (I mean, I'm all for exfoliation, but shot-blasting one's legs seems a little extreme.) Spend too long on the road, and your calves end up looking like something out of Clive Barker's Hellraiser films.

I have a vision that the discussion in the transport department goes thus:

(scene - a wood panelled room which was probably decorated in about 1945. Two portly, middle-aged men sit at a table, shuffling paper)

Mr. Farquar-Inbred-Johnson: "...jolly good, so we'll close the hospital and make the patients travel to Moscow for treatment. That should clear the waiting lists pretty sharpish. Next on the agenda, resurfacing the road."
Mr. Parker-Chinless-Wonder: "Ah yes, Mr. F. I had a wonderful money-saving idea for that."
Mr. F: "Indeed?"
Mr. P: "Indeed. My cousin has a skipload of gravel left over from the school he built for us"
Mr. F: "The one that fell down?"
Mr. P: "Thats the one. And rather than pay a road-builder £60,000 to tarmac it, he can just dump the stuff on the road for £59,999. A saving of £1."
Mr. F: "A wonderful idea! I trust your cousin will be extending his hospitality to the council as usual?"
Mr. P: "Of course. The used £50 notes will be provided in the usual brown envelope."
Mr. F: "Excellent" (presses a button on the desk) "Miss Smith, could you pop in here for a moment?"
Mr. P: "Tea?"
Mr. F: "No, after working so hard getting value for the taxpayers, I think I deserve a blowjob"

Not that I'm at all cynical about local government. Oh no. Not me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Its Been A Long Time...

...since I've had to interpret Signals. Longtime readers will probably remember the episode of the curry night some months back.

Happened again tonight. I think.

I decided to try a different hairstyle. Having had the same one for nigh on twenty years, and then changing it last month, I figured it was time to change again. Playing with my 'look' is one of the things I'm having fun with at the moment.

And, of course, it meant I got to look at the hairdresser again (did I mention last time she was very, very pretty?)

So she and I are alone in the house, me in the chair and she wielding the scissors.

She: "So what sort of thing would you like?"
Me: "Oh, I don't know. The new one is ok, but kind of flat. I'd like something more disshevelled. More ruffled. As though I'd just got out of bed."
She: "Mmmm. I know just the thing."

(cue snipping and general chit chat)

She: "There." (holds a mirror up) "How's that?"
Me: "Yes - thats just what I wanted. Great!"
She: (closer) "And this side?"
Me: "Yep - looks good too"
She: (very close) "How about here?"
Me: "Er, yes. Lovely thanks"
She: (really, really close now - sotto voice) "Is there anything else you want?"
Me: "Er..."


Me: "...maybe some hair gel?"

Ouch Ouch Ouch

See the image above? It has a name. "Evil Bastard".

Including my vacation, I've not actually done the 25 mile round trip to work and back for three weeks, and its amazing how quickly one loses the hard-fought-for fitness. And, of course, I didn't stretch before starting out. Yes, I am an idiot.

The back wheel did not fall off, the tyres didn't go flat and I got wolf-whistles from some girls waiting at the bus-stop.

So, my legs are vibrating in a slightly distressing way, my back hurts and my buttocks feel like they've gone 3 rounds with Madame Whiplash. Aside from that, yeah, it was good. Makes a change to ride in the sunshine for a change.

New Meaning To Old Word Of The Day:

Fovant (n.)
A taxi driver's gesture, a raised hand pointed out of the window which purports to mean 'thank you' and actually means 'fuck off out of the way'.

(courtesy of The Meaning Of Liff)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The House Of 180 Empties

Yeah, the plate got a bit fuller by the time I finally left.

Tomorrow I get back on the bike. I've not ridden it for a couple of weeks and it is glaring, reproachfully, out of the garage at me. I imagine this means that tomorrow it will choose a good time to drop the back wheel. Either at speed, or when I'm trying to show off my legs to a passing group of impressionable young women (yes, I really can be that shallow if I put my mind to it.)

Still wishing I was back on the Isle Of Man.

Looking forward to taking First-born to Euro-Disney (and Paris) in 3 weeks time.

Really looking forward to going to Prague with the chaps in August. Debauchery.

Really, really looking forward to going to Amsterdam with the chaps in September. Hedonism.

And as for the Munich Beerfest in October? I'm positively trembling with anticipation. Or maybe its just my liver saying: "For the love of God, NO!"

567 Emails...

...were waiting for me when I got back.

What did people do before email? Oh yeah, I'm old - I remember. People talked to each other, and left tersely worded memos on desks indicating either:

"Hey, man, I got into the office before you. See how important I am. Worship me, for I am The Lord"


"I'm an anally retentive idiot. Please ignore me, and use this memo in the event you've eaten a British Airways chicken sandwich and need something on which to catch your pelvis"

Nah, things haven't changed that much really.

Its time to play Email Roulette. This involves closing my eyes and holding down the delete key while I count to 3. If any were important, they'll get back to me.

(24 hours ago I was skimming pebbles on a crystal clear sea. How did I get so jaded so fast?)

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Journey Home

So I'm on the plane at last. Squeezed into the narrowest seats possible with our legs pinned in positions that would cause palpatations in the makers of certain types of specialist film.

Something foul is in the air.

"Great" I think "I've got the Stinky Man". The guy next to me could certainly use a shower, or is just a very nervous flier. It can't be a lot of fun for him either - I have broad shoulders (at least, so it seems in these seats) and even when hunched forward like a 21st century Quasimodo, I've managed to invade his personal space on at least two occasions.

But Stinky Man has a surprise up his sleeve.

British Airways always serve food and drink. Even on a flight as short as this. The stewardess stops at our row with a screech of brakes and breathlessly asks: "What would you like to eat sir?"

He: "Do you have a vegetarian option?"
She: "Certainly. We have cheese and pickle sandwiches. Will that be ok?"
He: "It will have to."
Me: "I'll have one of those too, please!" (I had a chicken sandwich on the way out, and shortly after spent some quality time in the bathroom feeling like I was about to pass my pelvis)
She: (to me) "And what can I get you to drink, sir?"
Me: "A beer would be lovely, thank you"
He: (looking at me with barely concealed contempt) "Water. Still water. No ice."
Me: (waggling the can of beer - a bit tipsy from the airport) "Hey, its free you know"
He: "Alcohol clouds the senses and diverts man from the path of righteousness. Consuming it corrupts the sanctity of our bodies"

I kid you not. My last bits of religious education were Confirmation classes with Father Jimmy. Father Jimmy's idea of religious teaching basically involved saying: "Ah to feck with this. Lets go bowling." Yeah, we all liked him. I don't think he and Stinky Man would have got on.

So, I'm nervously sipping my beer. Waiting for the lightning bolt. In deference to Stinky Man I've poured my beer into the plastic cup rather than my usual chugging it out of the beercan. Its at this point the stewardess rushes back up the plane to start litter collection. I didn't notice it before, but she's a well built woman. A little too hourglass shaped to work in such a narrow cabin, maybe.

Remember what I said about the broad shoulders?

An attractive left buttock, moving at speed, connects with my right shoulder and the beer goes flying.

Stinky Man retains a dignified silence, even as a rivulet of beer runs through his beard. The stewardess and I are mortified, offering sympathy and paper towels.

But the woman sitting on his left, who I assumed was his wife, is about to have a seizure with laughter.

And this, friends, is why next time, I will travel business class.

....and Hello

Its amazing who you meet in bars.

The flight was delayed by a couple of hours, so I sat at the bar nursing a pint of Guinness (the alternatives were some hateful lager on tap and some dubious American and French stuff lurking in the fridge.)

An old guy sitting next to me noticed me scanning through some of the photos I'd taken. I passed the camera to him, and he peered at the photos of the parade lap, where all the classic bikes did a turn of the circuit.

"That's the one I rode" he said, stabbing a finger at a particularly elderly looking machine, "not the actual one, of course. I crashed that years ago..." and he was off, back to the 1948 TT where he won one of the races.

It might have all been total bollocks, but the stories entranced me. I wished I'd brought a tape recorder. The delay flew by.

When our glasses were empty, he ignored my protestations and got another round. I think he just enjoyed having an audience.


So this is it. The last day.

A swift view of the bay where I was staying, and I'm outta here. Planes to catch, trains to miss, all that sort of thing.

It was a good ten days. A really good ten days. I debauched with the best of them, and got certain things straight in my mind. Now I just need to action those things.

The next post will be from the real world tonight. Bummer.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

I don't want to talk about it.

Inger-land, Inger-land, Inger-land

The final night's festivities have been decided. Rather than walk miles to the nearest pub, we've patched the television into the cinema, opened up the last three crates of beer and invited the neighbours over.

Tonight is the England/France football game.

This will inevitably lead to a post at around 11pm which is either drunken and celebratory, or drunken and maudlin.

You have been warned.

(and no - I'm not a huge a football fan; but its the national team for goodness sake! Playing France!)

Photographic Evidence

This is a good one.

I emailed First-born some photos from my holiday (including The Biggest Pint Of Beer In The World.) She (with the aid of The Ex) emailed some of her from their Italian trip.

Ok, so it felt a bit odd seeing shots of First-born on a 'family holiday' in which I'm not involved (save for dropping off and collecting from the airport) but its something I need to get used to. It was good to see her playing on the beach, attempting to pet a frog in the garden and showing off in new (pink and sparkly) clothes.

What wasn't quite so good was the last photo which was a nice big one of First-born and The Boyfriend enjoying a cuddle.

The woman really has no idea. No idea at all.

Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

This is a public service announcement.

Absinthe is a dangerous drink. It should not be drunk in the same manner one might consume other, lesser, spirits.

Failure to observe this rule may result in large empty bits of memory and, at worst, a desire to participate in kareoke.

This concludes this public service announcement.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

You Know You've Gone Without Sex Too Long...

...when you start thinking about this sort of thing.

Observe the two images of Queen Liz above.

On the left you have Her Majesty as she appears on a standard English 5 pound note. On the right you have Her Majesty as she appears on a Manx 5 pound note.

Now, is it just me, or is Liz just a little bit foxy in that image on the right. Kind of a 1950s posh bit, who is probably doing the dirty with the gardener on a regular basis? While on the left, well, she looks like my gran.

If I were the royal portrait painter, and Liz got hold of these images, I'd be worried:

Liz: "My man, we have come into the possession of something called a '5 pound note'"
He: "Really, ma'am?"
Liz: "Yes. And it appears that we now resemble somebody's grandmother rather than a posh bit of totty who looks like she might be a bit of a - what is the word - goer."
He: "Well, yes ma'am. Aging gracefully and all that."
Liz: "My man, it will not do. If we had wanted an accurate portrait we would have had Edward take a bloody photograph. Do it again. Something a little provocative."
He: "Yes ma'am. I'll go and fetch the vaseline."

I have a feeling I'll be spending some quality time in The Tower for this post...

What To Do, What To Do

And so I'm into my last 2 full days here. Then its a return to civilisation and sitting behind a desk, scowling randomly at people walking past.

The last set of races are late this afternoon, and I've gone and woken up early (having sat up to watch the sun rise)

Should I:

a) Go for another long walk along the beach, this risking sunburn and Big Thoughts
b) Raid the bar
c) Make a concerted effort to finish off A Tale Of Two Cities
d) A combination of the above

In spite of the big thoughts over the course of the week, I think I've scored a 10 on the debauched behviour scale. Cue a conversation from a few nights ago:

He: "Dude, do you want a beer?"
Me: "It would be rude not to. I'll have two, please. Just in case."
He: "Hey, I don't think I've seen you without a beer since we arrived."
Me: "Don't be silly, there was that time last night. I didn't drink beer then."
He: "Dude, that was Tequila."
Me: "Well, there you go."

I necked a couple of pints of water that night. Mainly to make a point. But thats been it on the soft-drink front. It all stems from not drinking any fluids at all in the morning (normally because I sleep through the morning) and waking up for lunch. Which is accompanied by a beer.

I have a feeling I'm going to have one hell of a hangover on Tuesday morning...

Proper Use Of Police Time

I love this place. See the coppers leaning on the barrier in front of the Creg Ny Baa pub? See the guy holding the speed camera?

He was using it to clock the motorbikes as they come around the corner during the Senior Race (a name that conjours up visions of elderly men wheeling bathchairs at speed, rather than past winners playing on the latest machinery.)

I gather he and his colleagues had a bet going as to who'd be the fastest.

Gotta love the police here.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Explaining The Ex

Today's post is dedicated to an explanation of The Ex. Its a bit rambling, so I apologise in advance.

This journal began a week after I was 'dumped' in favour of her boss, and as such only contains the fall-out. It also serves as way whereby I can record Things That Happen.

The Ex was actually a new (intern?) teacher while I was at college. We got together when I was 18, and married when I was 21. We had lots and lots of fun.

First-born came along when I was 25.

Things probably began to go wrong then.

I became an object of resentment since The Ex opted to breast-feed until FB was 4. I lack those attributes and so was unable to do an awful lot in midnight feedings except make cups of tea.

Once FB moved on, and began to sleep through the night (as of 3 years ago) I thought things would begin to sort themselves out. However, it seems the resentment festered, and almost 2 years ago The Ex began a relationship with her boss.

I, of course, was unaware. Everything seemed ok to me. We went on family holidays. Went out in the evenings. Laughed, joked and talked. It didn't seem odd to me that she was spending a lot of time, and the odd weekend, working late. After all, teachers have a substantial workload and I try/tried to be supportive of that.

The affair, it seems, went into overdrive when FB took part in a show in regional theatre. Because The Ex was so busy with the teaching 'stuff', I spent 6 months taking FB to rehearsals, sitting through costume fittings, etc, etc.

I did think it was odd that The Ex's boss came to the show.

And, a few weeks after, on Mother's day, The Ex came out with the news. It was a total shock. I genuinely had no idea. I thought since FB was now sleeping through the night things were sorting themselves out. Everything seemed ok.

The funny thing is this - she said she'd spent the night around The Boyfriend's house. It was a girl's night out, and if she'd said she'd got drunk and couldn't drive home, I would have believed her. But she told me the truth, and The Boyfriend later told me The Whole Truth.

It seems everyone. I mean *everyone* knew what was going on, except me. Unless you experience it, you can't know how that feels. Almost 2 years,

The Ex wants us all to be friends. And for the sake of FB (and because I try and be rational about stuff) I go along with it. This is why she sometimes makes what seem to be outrageous demands. This is possibly because I haven't shouted, or ranted, or raved (FB again.)

Its hard. Really hard. But in the UK at least, The Ex has the power to prevent me ever seeing FB again. I don't want that, and I know The Ex would do it.

So I go along with it all. I grit my teeth and log stuff in this journal. Sometimes I snap (the garage door key incident, for example) but I fear for FB.

I've spent the last 3 months working out what it was I did wrong. A couple of days ago (on the beach) I realised that I did nothing wrong. The Ex is perpetually dissatisfied, and nothing I could do would change that.

I realised that she actually isn't a good person. How so?

(the next bit is a little icky, and readers of a faint heart should look away)

After FB not sleeping for 4 years, The Ex and I decided that we didn't want any more children. I didn't like the idea of the woman I loved filling herself with birth control drugs, and other methods didn't strike me as a reliable. So I took, er, steps of a permanent nature. We discussed it, we both agreed it was safer than her going through it, and so it was done.

And while I was doing that, she was laying plans with The Boyfriend.

This is why, in my eyes, The Ex flipped overnight from life partner to the person who appears in this journal. I will never understand how she could have let me go through with that knowing that within a year I'd be joining the ranks of The Dumped.

And that is all I have to say as explanation for The Ex. The journal will continue to feature occasional examples of outrageous behaviour. There was a really good one today...

Thursday, June 10, 2004


You know those shrines you sometimes see on the side of the road? Where there's been an accident, and someone leaves flowers for a while and then the bouquets wither and die, and all thats left is a bit of faded ribbon and cellophane attached to a tree?

There are so many on the roads here. On the cliff-top road above where I'm staying there are 3 bouquets in a 100 yard stretch. And all the flowers are fresh.

Yeah, I'm still in a bit of a pensive mood at the moment.

Someone's suggested Apocalypse Now Redux as Film Of The Night. Yeah, like that's going to lift my mood.

The Railway Buffet At The End Of The Universe

To top off my day of cultural excitement, I went on the mountain railway to Snaefull.

Of course, when they say 'mountain' here, they actually mean 'small mound' - I imagine that the figure '2000 feet' will have any readers living in countries with proper geography snorting with derision.

Trams that proudly proclaimed their 100 years rattled up the mountainside and dumped the passengers in one of the most god-forsaken places I've ever been. A cafe huddled on the hill and everything else was coated in a thick mist.

I got back in the tram and went home.

The Biggest Water Wheel In The World Ever

So the Isle Of Man is the proud possessor of the biggest working water wheel in the world ever. It was built in 1854 to pump water out of a nearby mine. I can hear the conversation now:

The Boss: "Bob, we need to get water out of the mine"
Bob: "Yeah, right. Lets build a water wheel. The biggest the world has ever seen!"
The Boss: "A water wheel? Are you sure?"
Bob: "Yeah, it'll be great!"
The Boss: "Ok - go build a wheel"

(many years pass. Eventually the water wheel is complete)

Bob: "There - it runs. It is MAGNIFICENT"
The Boss: "Yes, Bob. It certainly is. 200 horsepower you say?"
Bob: "200 MIGHTY horsepower!"
The Boss: "Thing is, Bob, I've just been reading in the London Times about this new fangled steam power thing..."

(silence, save for the weeping of the accountants)

Here endeth today's history lesson.

Secrets And Lies

A phone conversation with The Ex:

Me: "So you don't want me to tell The Boyfriend about what?"
She: "Event A, B, and C. I don't think he needs to know about them."
Me: "Uh, you know I don't think that's a healthy way to start a relationship"

(damn, wrong thing to say - cue 10 minutes of listening to a rant about relationships ending with the line: "And THATS why this is all YOUR fault")

Me: "So its Event A, B and C, right?"
She: "Yes, I don't think he'd be very understanding. So don't mention them, ok?"
Me: "Ok" (sotto voice) "Heh heh heh..."

Roll on July 31st, I say.

(the A, B and C substitutes have been used to protect the innocent. Well, first-born, because she sometimes reads this over my shoulder)

At Speeds Approaching 100 Miles An Hour...

...I give you The Purple Helmets.

I think I may have burst something laughing. Imagine the boys from Jackass, except on Honda 90s and with an infinitely smaller budget. After the showboating of the major motorcycle manufacturers and 'Streetfighters', these boys represent the perfect antidote.

Coupled with the despairing commentary "And now the boys are going to attempt the... oh... they've fallen over again. God, what total shite." the sight of 20 grown men in large brown overcoats falling off motorcycles makes for entertainment for all the family. At least up until they wheel out some of the novelty bikes (made on a budget of £7.34, most of which appears to have been spent on beer.)

I wouldn't liked to have been the parent who had to explain the significance of "The Golden Shower" (a two wheeled shower cubicle.)

Same time next year, then.

The Longest Day

Yeah, beach walks are definitely bad for the mind. Too many thoughts.

Its 60 years ago since D-Day kicked off. Reading the names on this monument was a humbling experience.

To everyone - British, American, Canadian and all the other nationalities who fought with the Allies in that conflict; Thank You. I owe you my freedom.

(and yes, seeing Dubya and little Tony Blair standing shoulder to shoulder with the veterans left a bitter taste in the mouth)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Thinking Too Much Is Bad For The Mind

This post is from the Department Of Thoughtfulness. Anyone looking for tales of debauchery and silliness involving beer, motorcyles and innuendo should check back in about 7 hours. I'll have seen The Purple Helmets doing their thing and will have a full report.

I went for a long walk this morning. 5 hours, all in. Some of it on the beach, some of it on pavement. All of it along the coast. It was very good thinking time. Or bad, as the case may be. The beach was mostly deserted, just me and a bunch of seagulls.

I took a load of pictures, but the one above had a certain symbolism for me. I liked the way the sea was choppy on one side of the rock, and smooth on the other. Its hard to explain, but my life used to be smooth like the sea on the left. Now its like the sea on the right. Its fun at the moment, but one day I'd like to be able to choose the smooth side again. So I need to find that rock. Then I'm free to do either.

Aaagh, I'm having problems articulating this. I'll think some more. In the meantime, I'm going to store the hi-res version of that picture so I can get it printed poster size and put on the wall. It means something.

Things Are Getting Out Of Hand

No - don't worry. They aren't all mine.

But things are quite definitely getting out of hand. Thank goodness tomorrow has been designated a 'Rest Day'. Up until we go out to watch The Purple Helmets.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Gotta Love Those Arrows

A pleasant day today spent lounging on the grass at Ramsey, watching motorcycles attempt the Quarter Mile with the added bonus of a display by the Red Arrows.

My eldest cousin flies for the Royal Air Force and has the following to say on the Arrows:

Q: "How do you know you're talking to a pilot from The Red Arrows?"
A: "Oh, they'll bloody tell you soon enough"

I think he may still be a tad bitter that he flies cargo (of the talking and non-talking variety) while they scud about in acrobatic jets.

Damn impressive though. As you can see by the picture - they came pretty close (not much of a zoom on the camera, you see. I've only got a cheap Canon which is good for taking shots of the inside of my pocket and little else.)

More later. I can hear the call of a bottle of beer. Sounds just like a seagull. Odd that.

Cruising In Comfort

The room where I'm making this entry is called, I think, The Sun Room. If it isn't, then it should be.

The house was apparently built by a chap who loved going on cruises of the big ship variety. So the sun room is constructed in such a way that the huge windows look out to sea with no sight of land in 180 degrees of vision. Its really quite spectacular. Aside from the seagull poo of course.

Today is Quarter Mile day. This is an all-comers day where anyone can turn up and see how quickly their bike 'does the Quarter Mile'. I am expecting to again sport a pungent odour of burnt rubber. Then there is the fly-past of the RAF display team, the Red Arrows. And finally beer and fireworks on the Douglas promenade.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Ever had the awful realisation that you don't belong somewhere?

This little creature almost met its end under the shoe of Newly. As I pulled back my foot and looked around, I realised that the clifftop on which I was walking was covered with baby seagulls.

Now, I don't like seagulls (I regard them as flying poo-machines) but squashing a freshly hatched chick seems just wrong. I became aware of the presence of anxious parents swooping overhead.

So I took some photos for first-born and crept away, shamefaced.

I hope those chicks remember the benevolent giant who failed to tread on them the next time they're looking for something on which to leave a trail of excreta.

Divorce Absolute currently set for July 31st. This will be a Saturday.

There will be a substantial party.

(isn't email great? Even while perched on a cliff, my lawyer can send me the appropriate documentation. Actually, maybe email isn't so great after all...)

The Crowd Gasped... Honda unveiled their new line in beers during the Isle Of Man TT Races.

Said Honda Europe CEO, Ken Keir: "We've noted that beer consumption spikes during TT Week and, with the arrival of NewlySingle from the mainland, felt that the time was right to enter this exciting new market."

When pressed for a name for this beer, Keir explained that several names had been trialed by the marketing department: "Several names were tried with varying success such as 'Bud-a-munga', 'Cors-zilla', and 'Jesus-what-the-fuck-is-that' before we settled on 'The Family Size'"


No PhotoShop was involved in the making of that picture. Just me, the Honda display team and a pint of beer.

Yesterday was a good day. We hid from Mad Sunday (when the TT course is opened to anyone to tank around.) So we hid in Peel and watched the Honda Display Team doing the oddest things in mid-air over a lorry. Sadly, these talented boys were upstaged by an outfit called The Purple Helmets for whom the sobriquet "talented" doesn't really apply. The British love a heroic failure and so the crowd took these boys to their collective heart. Heck, I even bought a T-Shirt.

I'm not looking forward to explaining the name to First-born:

FB: "Why are they called the Purple Helmets when they're wearing black helmets?"
Me: "Er, it doesn't refer to the helmets on their head"
FB: "Do they have a spare helmet that *is* purple then?"
Me: "Er, yes. Sort of."
FB: "Where?"
Me: "Ask your mother"

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Too Close For Comfort

I like this photo upload thing. The picture above is from the side-car race where the passengers are clearly keen to get to know the drivers much better just before the corner.

Apparently they were doing roughly 120mph when I took that photo, just before a 90 degree turn (the curb of which you can see on the left of the picture.)


So yesterday was the first 'proper' race day. Two races of 3 or 4 laps around the island. The first was Formula 1 bikes (average speed on the course - 130mph. Can you imagine?) and then side-cars. We elected to watch from a corner of the course near a pub and sat on the grass, drank beer and watched the lunatics scream past. It can be a bit disconcerting when someone screws up the line of the corner, locks their wheels, and you realise that the run-off area on the track is, well, you.

After that excitement, we went for a walk on the cliff (being careful not to step on the seagull chicks, of which there were many. All camoflaged to blend in with the rocks to escape predators but not the accidental foot of Newly.

And then I was very boring. Some of the other people staying here elected to make a further indentation in the bar and partake of the cinema room. I, on the other, went to bed and slept solidly for 10 hours.


So, the next photo. Should it be:

a) Motorbikes doing silly things
b) Adorable fluffy cliff-top chicks
c) Something else entirely
d) Enough of this photo nonsense!

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Watching The Girls And Boys Go Round

It doesn't get much better than this. Lying on the grass, drinking a cold beer, watching lunatics hare around roads better suited for tractors at 200mph.

Particularly when there's only a little wire fence between you and the action.


A larger update will follow. I just wanted to see if a photo-journal entry would work.


3 years ago, my mother died very suddenly. She wasn't particularly old (having barely hit 50) and was looking forward to early retirement travelling around the world a few times having spent the last 30 years saving towards it.

I decided then to make a list of things that I wanted to do before I died and do them as soon as I could (I added a few more after getting dumped by The Ex.) The List is a phyiscal bit of paper with handwritten entries. When I complete an entry, I put a line through it and write a page in a diary along with some photos.

Last night was Reverse Bungee night. I'd planned to be cool and manly during the catapulting-into-the-air part of the whole thing. Unfortunately, I screamed like a three-year-old.

Sort of.

Most three-year-olds don'tsay "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck" for almost a minute without drawing breath.

And while I crossed that off The List, I noted a free-fall jump (where you are hoisted up on a crane and dropped onto netting about 100 feet below.) Another entry for The List, I think.

(Lovely SMS text from First-born today: "Come home soon, Dad. I miss you X" - sad and lovely at the same time.)

From The Bitter And Twisted Department

A brief rant before bed.

A couple of weekends ago I cleared out the garage of the marital home. To be honest, it was pretty clear already - the floor just needed sorting out after being home to the hobby car (which, like most cars of its ilk, oozes oil.)

Not really my responsibility, but I figured for the sake of amicability and all that I'd sort it out.

Today, the Ex phones up and wants to know where the key is. It appears that she's lost it and wants the spare. I have a spare. With the rest of my keys. In my bag. On the Isle Of Man.

Because its only an hour's flight, she wanted me to fly back tomorrow with my key. So The Boyfriend could store his stuff in the garage.

I may have done amicability a disservice. I fear I used a rude word. Perhaps two.

Do You Have Anything.... Rubber?

I smell of burnt rubber.

Tonight was stunt-bike night on the promenade. This consisted, as far I could tell, mainly of grown men behaving like children while riding 200mph motorcycles.

This is a good thing.

Huge wheelies, something called 'stoppies' (basically, stopping and getting the back wheel in the air for as long as possible) and Newton-defying wheelies where the rider puts himself into various unfeasible positions.

And then there are the burn-outs, where the back wheel is spun with the express intention of bursting the tyre. After spending some quality time drinking beer and listening to the band in Bushy's (the blue and white striped tent in the background on the webcam), this is utterly engrossing.

And the TT Races have yet to start proper (although the annual cull of insane bikers appears to have commenced with the practices). The riders all have a 'hundred yard stare' about them. I guess taking part in a race on little country roads (replete with picturesque villages and flint walls) riding 200mph+ superbikes will do that to you. Just watching the 'bikecam' footage gives me the willies.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Will There Be Anything Else, Sir?

This is an odd, odd place.

I was shown to my room last night:

Me: "Gosh, this is nice. The floral armchairs are a nice touch"
He: "Yes. The owner loved this room. She'd sit in that chair there and watch the gulls"
Me: "Really?"
He: "Oh yes, sir. She frequently slept here."
Me: "She must have been sad to leave"
He: "Only the undertaker knows the expression on her face, sir"
Me: (faintly) "Oh"

I have to say; it is lovely here - I sat in the sun room this morning before the rest of the house awoke and started tackling my 'to read' list. First up - A Tale Of Two Cities. I found a copy in the library. Printed in 1911.

(yes, there is a library in this place. Next to the bar. I may never leave)

Seagulls, Tall Ships And Motorcycles

We made it.

Unfortunately, someone on the airplane said, as we were flying over, "Doesn't it look like Craggy Island from Father Ted", which has left me humming the theme tune ever since and saying "Drink, Grrls, Feck" at random intervals throughout the day.

(note to anyone who has never seen this show: you should)

The Isle Of Man airport is brand new and has been built in the art deco style. Unfortunately, the logo and the style puts one in mind of films set in Berlin during the late 1930s, if you get my meaning.

However, I was pleased to note that in amongst all this newness it still took half an hour for the luggage to make it from the plane to the terminal. And yes, the plane parked next to the terminal. You could see it. Along with the workers sitting around enjoying a cup of tea before unloading it.

Thats it for now. I have an appointment with beer and a webcam. There's money to be made!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Welcome To Britain

Ok, so the airport is chaos. I've hidden myself behind an electrical store and am impressing my boss by firing off emails like an incontinent hippo on a helter-skelter.

I don't mind the fact that every flight is delayed.

I don't mind the bored, screeching children.

I can even live with the guy sitting opposite me picking his nose and flicking the result at the window.

No, what I have a problem with is that due to the volume of people standing about in the terminal, the bars are rationing beer.

Harsh. Very harsh.

Come, Friendly Beer And Fall On Me

2 minutes to go. Yes, I am just a little bit excited. I've not had a major 'solo' holiday for years. The last one was to Montreal (which resulted in a mystery virus and some quality time in Intensive Care when I got back.)

I'll try and do better this time around.

Other news - got a phone call from first-born this morning. I hadn't heard anything since they left. So I'm a happy newly as I head to the pub to toast my imminent departure with beer and a cheese toastie.

Holiday Ro-oh-oh-oh-oh-aod Part 2

Last half day and I'm away for ten days. However, because I'm surgically attached to my pager, cell-phone and laptop, the updates will come thick and fast.

Assuming I get off the ground. It seems the brand spanking new UK air-traffic control centre has broken down and no planes are taking off from any UK airport.

Yup. You heard that right. Nothing is taking off.

From a geek perspective, I can't get my head around this. I run a medical system and we have massive redundancy - we're talking a complete duplicate system sitting in a building a mile away in the event of a total disaster. In two years we've never had down-time. Ever.

I stalk about the office, pouncing on innocent programmers with a cry of "Lives Are At Stake!" Mainly because they are. If quality slips, patients are at risk.

So how can it be that an air traffic control centre can be so totally shutdown by a computer error?

Gosh. Am I ever nervous about flying today..

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Move Over Walter Matthau

Dinner with Dad tonight (my Aunt is off on a girlie night.)

Moving back in with a parent after living away for 14 years is a really wierd sensation.

Tonight was pizza.

Now me, I'd either be idle and phone out, or nip into the local market, grab a base, and cover it with what I refer to as "A Varied Selection Of Herbs, Fresh Diary Produce And Cured Meats" and my friends crudely refer to as "all sorts of shit, can we order curry instead?"

No class, some people.

However, my Dad slapped a half frozen cheese and tomato thing on the plate with a masonary-like thud and a triumphant flourish and, before I could comment, said: "Beer?"

I love that man.

Wanna Know A Secret?

In the continuing absence of my artistic efforts, anyone interested in knowing how the make-over actually went in the end should check out this Isle Of Man Webcam. On Friday at 3pm UK time I'll be standing by the tree on the left with a couple of friends.

I'll be the guy in the black leather jacket.

The blue and white striped tent on the right is a beer tent. So I may be a little late depending on... well... you know.

The lengths I'll go to in order to win a bet. Tch.

Vengeful? Moi?

Raspberry has posted a quiz that tickled my fancy the other day -
Which Of The Seven Deadly Sins Are You?

I came up as 'Wrath/Anger' replete with a photo of butch men with their shirts off, all looking a bit grumpy.

'Lust' returns a much better picture.

Anyhow this probably explains why, after dropping First-born, The Ex and The Boyfriend off at the airport (amicability, remember?) I sat in the car and cackled evilly to myself.

The weather was terrible. Huge crosswinds. Torrential rain. Thick cloud.

The Ex is terrified of flying.


(For those concerned about First-born - don't be. She loves turbulence and thinks its like a rollercoaster.)

4 Words

I Am A Guy.

For some inexplicable reason I've been getting a not insignificant amount of emails referring to the Ex as male, and The Boyfriend as being mine.

I Am A Guy. The Ex is as female as Cruella De Ville and The Boyfriend is very definitely Her's.

Thank you for your attention.

(Thats not to say that I'm not in touch with my feminine side. And we won't mention the drag party at college where I went dressed as Batgirl. The photos of that incident have all been destroyed. Oh yeah.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Todays Post Is Brought To You By The Letters T E And A, And The Number 9

T.E.A. stands for Traditional English Ale. It comes fresh from the brewery in containers of 3, 9 and 15 pints. The Uncle was round tonight (it was his birthday. I gave him a socket set to replace the one he discovered he'd lost at the weekend while attempting to remove a particularly recalcitrant nut from his MG. Funny how tools tend to do that.)

And we drank his beer. We might as well have stuck straws in the container.

And ate a home-made balti.

The two are making some distressing noises at the moment, but I have a pint of water at the ready along with two aspirin which should see me through the night in the absence of a leather-clad biker chick.

Yeah. I really need to get some sleep...

Diet Acid

So tell me. What is it that is put into Diet Coke? The stuff with lemon (for the idle amongst us who can't be naffed to slice it ourselves, or who aren't allowed sharp objects. Like me.)

It has just dissolved a cup from the water machine in a very impressive fashion. Shame about that confidential document I was reading. I hope the reviewer attributes the brown stain to a beverage spillage rather than my alarm at the document's contents. I can see the review board now:

Faceless Exec 1: "So, item 19 on the agenda. The review of this week's vending machine usage. Any comments?"
Faceless Exec 2: "None here"
Faceless Exec 3: "Nothing from me"
Faceless Exec 4: "Nor I. But I think IT have shat all over the report"
Faceless Exec 1: "Really? What were their comments?"
Faceless Exec 4: "No, you don't understand. IT have shat all over the report"
Faceless Exec 1: "Figuratively?"
Faceless Exec 4: "Literally"
Faceless Exec 1: "Shit"
Faceless Exec 4: "Exactly"
Faceless Exec 1: "No, I was moving onto item 20. Excessive toilet paper consumption..."

I kid you not. I've read the minutes to these meetings.

And no, I didn't cancel the trip. I understand that The Staff have already prepared my bedchamber. It would be a shame to disappoint them. That, and I can on the webcam that the main beer tent has been erected.

(oh, and all those who thought this post was going to be about prescription medication - shame on you! Come back in a week's time...)