Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Position Is Nothing Without Style

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Ok, I spent the weekend away with a charming lady. Yes, fun was had. Yes, she was a little athletic for poor old Newly.

And yes, I can't pretend the muscle I think I've pulled is anything to do with potential injuries sustained while looking at a stately home.

No, I shan't be riding the bicycle to work tomorrow.

Yes, I'm looking forward to sustaining that injury all over again. Except this time I may do some stretches first.

Doom And Gloom

Tonight I did something I've never done before. Something that I've mocked in others; seen it as a sign of weakness.

I washed the bike.

My last bike was proud of its thick layer of dirt. I'm pretty sure that the dirt was all that was holding it together by the end. This bike, however, deserves better. Its bright yellowness shall not be tarnished by the road, nor will its shiny bits become dull.

Also, I had nothing to do tonight.

I still haven't got to grips with this Single thing yet. For the past 14 years I've pretty much lived in another person's pocket, so to speak. There was always something to do around the house. Some bit of DIY waiting to be done badly. But now there's nothing to do.

A friend said "The wierdest thing will be when you get your own place, and you close the front door for the first time, knowing that you probably won't see or speak to anyone until the following morning". I got a preview of that last week when the house was empty. And she was right.

My solution was to call out for pizza. I can't see that being long term; the delivery boy has horrible breath.

I'm starting to understand why people have pets.

Yeah. I'm down tonight.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bedtime Reading

The Brother and I were enjoying a beer. I mentioned I had a list of books to read. He raised an eyebrow in that faintly affected way of his and asked which ones. I named a few.

When I woke up in the morning, my head aching from either the cocktails or the sight of the female olympic weightlifting the night before, there were two big black bags at the end of the bed with a note attached. He works for a chemical engineering company and gets sent out to some godforsaken places (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Liverpool...) So he reads. And over the last 8 years he's amassed quite a collection, mainly classics, but all on my list.

And now I have his collection. What the heck am I going to do with it?

And the more eagle eyed among you may have noted the pink skirting board and stencilled roses climbing the wall. All just further straws to break the back of my sanity, I tell you.

There's a small site redesign coming tonight. Any interuption in the whining of the Newly Single will be rectified as swiftly as possible.

How Could I Forget?

Breakfast in bed. Chilled champagne. Do Not Disturb sign on door.

Debauched, yes?

Seen One Rock...

Sometimes Big Landscapes impress me, somtimes they do not. Its a case of Seen One Rock, Seen 'Em All.

Such is the case with the English Peak District: "Oh look, *another* hill. Thats nice."

I know that I've attached metaphors to rocks before, but sometimes a rock is, well, just a rock.

So over the last two days the lady of the weekend and I looked around some old, old houses. One from the 1500s and another from the 1700s. I love these places, mainly due to the "fuck you" style of architecture affordable by only the absurdly wealthy. I love the details, the vastness and the follies.

Take the photo above, a cascading channel of water over stone steps. Marvellous 18th century engineering, with huge fountains in the gardens below driven by water pressure alone. Even better is the fact that you're trusted to go paddling without hurting yourself.

People taking responsibility for their actions? Heavens! It'll never catch on.

The hotel was fabulously expensive. But infinitely superior to where we almost ended up staying; a Travel Inn. These places serve two purposes; firstly a place for middle-aged sales executives and prostitutes to meet, and secondly somewhere that makes you appreciate just how *nice* your home is. Even if it isn't.

And now First-born and are off for a swim. Well, if I'm entirely truthful, she'll be swimming, I'll be trying to avoid getting harpooned. Too much good food over the last two days. Where did I put my trainers again?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Doing The Happy Dance

Or the "I Need To Use The Toilet" two-step. The two are pretty similar in their resemblance to a pained jig.

Skiing is booked. A week in Whistler from Dec/29 through Jan/5. Two days in Vancouver either side. I have a deep and meaningful love for skiing. It, sadly, does not feel the same way about me and leaves me to get intimate face-first with the mountain instead. A cruel mistress.

And now bags need to be packed. Nicest clothes need to be carefully folded and placed in a hold-all. Teeth must be flossed. Ears de-waxed. I think I'll stop right there.

I have a weekend away. With a charming lady.

But, But, But, Its Green!

Like many children, First-born is a fussy eater. Her diet consists of cheese sandwiches, processed fish, sundry potato products and fruit.

This is something that has my aunt and father wringing their hands. So in every meal (when First-born is staying over), my aunt tries to introduce something new. Maybe a tiny slice of pizza. Perhaps a single bean. Occasionaly a little piece of 'real' fish. All with a request to at least try and then leave if it doesn't appeal. Which First-born dutifully does, before pulling a face as though she's been asked to eat broken glass laced with dog poo and moving on to her cheese sandwich and apple.

Yesterday I had a telephone call from The Ex. A real 'hold the phone away from ear' type of call. How dare I try and force First-born to eat food she doesn't like. First-born is traumatised. First-born never wants to visit me again. Lawyers will be involved. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Here's the problem. When I have my daily telephone call with First-born tonight, should I ask her about it and find out what she's actually said? Or do I assume this is The Ex taking a throwaway comment like "I tried a bit of fish, but didn't like it" and using it as a big stick to hit me with. A big stick with a rusty nail.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

2 Out Of 3 Ain't Bad

You really cannot beat retail therapy. The Cousin and I hit the shops hard - having never had an interest in appearance, I've suddenly grown a liking of shopping for clothes. My excuse for shirts not fitting is starting to wear thin however. "Its my shoulders" I insisted "They're too broad." "No," replied The Cousin, "Its quite definitely the beer..."

I opted out of much of a debauched evening. Just supped Guinness in a pub and enjoyed some chilli ramen in Wagamamas. I can feel ominous rumblings. My stomach is muttering things along the lines of "I thought we'd agreed a cease fire on spicy foods and red meat? Don't say you weren't warned..."

The reason for the lack of debauchery is that I have a date at the weekend and as The Cousin leered: "You don't want to sap your strength"

Charming. I'm a perfect gentleman.

One Down, Two To Go

Ok, I've done the culture thing.

I know a great deal more about Tamara De Lempicka, and highly recommend her exhibition at the Royal Academy. Investing £3 in the audio guide would be a good idea too. Not least because I'm convinced that one of the actors from The Archers is providing the voice. And also because it gives you an excuse to walk into people.

I also took the opportunity that a few spare hours afforded to be a tourist. I had a nose around a small church that I'd seen years ago - I like interesting buildings. While I read the inscriptions on the wall, a small and crackly voice behind me said "Don't forget to look up"

I jumped, turned, and was faced with an elderly lady. She, with a single skeletal finger pointed, ceilingwards. I followed her finger and gasped at the magnificent sculpture and paintings on the roof.

The old lady, replete with the halitosis that nature seems to reserve for the elderly, then gave me a guided tour of the church. I offered a donation, she said "Oh, don't be silly. I'm just the cleaner, love."

What is it about me and aged female cleaners?

Lunch was taken at my all time favourite London eatery. I love the Wong Kei on Wardour Street. Where else can you get a huge plate of rice, mystery meat and a beer for around a fiver? And you've got to love places that are cash only.

I've been going there since I was an English student in London, and used to grab some cheap grub before queuing for stand by tickets. The staff are sadly not as magnificently rude as they used to be, but you still get sat WHERE THE F**K YOU'RE TOLD and the sensation of playing Russian Roulette with food poisoning is thankfully ever-present. I live life dangerously.

Indeed, the Wong Kei may have been instrumental in my eventual divorce. The Ex and I spent a few nights in England between marriage and honeymoon (posh Hotel on a Greek island.) So we saw some shows - I love theatre. And we ate at the Wong Kei. And the following day, the day we were supposed to be flying out, I got sick. Really, spectacularly sick. At the airport. After check-in.

I had to endure the indignity of the airport emergency doctor while The Ex retrieved the luggage (which was already on the plane.)

The Ex has dined out on that story for the last 11 years. Every new person gets "Hello, I'm and this is my husband. You'll never guess what he did at the airport before we were due to fly out for our honeymoon." I kept the 'Not Fit To Fly' certificate though.

(we did have a honeymoon in the end - 5* hotels in Paris and Venice)

Ok. Thats the culture. Now I'm going to be all materialistic on Oxford Street.

Everything. Hurts.

I had a dream last night. I dreamt the pressure of expectation was crushing me.

I opened my eyes and realised it was First-born, sitting on my chest.

Was she holding the dreaded Toy Story 2 DVD? No.
Was it a favourite book? No.

What she was holding were my trainers (now a little less than new.)

"You said you were going to go running this morning. I didn't want you to forget."

As if I could, what with the unique fragrance well-used trainers tend to acquire after a while.

So today; 3 miles. Everything hurts. Cycling is so much more civilised.

And now I'm off to London to be cultural in a gallery, materialistic in the shops and debauched in the bars.

More later. Assuming my heart didn't explode somewhere along that run and I simply haven't realised it yet...

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Curse Of Labels

Tonight is a First-born night. We've been swimming. We drew pictures. We ate food that is really bad for us. And now we're watching... oh, you guessed it.

Swimming was fun. Since my last pair of swimming shorts had become so threadbare that they would have constituted an offence in certain US states I figured it was time to select some new ones.

Unsurprisingly, First-born loves clothes shopping, and did the selecting.

The new shorts looked ok on the shelf. They even looked ok when I held them in my hands. Maybe a little patterned. Perhaps the palm trees were a bit OTT, but, well - they are for swimming after all.

First-born and I stood on the poolside. She in her usual rainbow costume and me in the newly purchased shorts.

I became aware of people looking at me. A group of girls in the corner of the pool began sniggering.

"This is your fault" I muttered to First-born under my breath "You chose these shorts"

First-born didn't look at me. She simply said "I think they're laughing at that big label saying 'Medium' you left on the front of the shorts"

Thanks, kiddo.

Olympic Somersaults

The media coverage of the British team is something to behold. And so (with apologies to Private Eye for nicking the format) may I suggest all British newspapers print the following apology, based on their astonishing about-face of the last few days:

"An apology.
We, like the rest of the national press, may have given the impression that the British Olympic team are a bunch of wasters and no-hopers and that the money wasted on athletics would be better spent subsidising Rupert Murdoch's tax bill (shurely 'subsidising other sporting activities' - Ed.)

This could not have been further from the truth; the British team are without doubt the greatest group of golden guys and gals in the world ever and deserve our unreserved applause, congratulations and general bootlicking."

Gotta love the tabloids, eh?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Mmmm. Pizza.

I went for Pizza. Mainly because the delivery place lets me order over the internet. Tragic, eh?

After an age, there was a knock at the door.

He: "Ere's yer pizza, Mister"
Me: (internal) "Stop with the fake cockney accent, I know your Mum, and she's posher than the Queen"
Me: (external) "Thank you. What do I owe you?"
He: "Er. 17 quid, mate"

(yes, I selected a drink and some upsetting chicken pieces containing random bits of bone)

Me: "Here's a 20"
He: "Oh, right. S'pose you want change, yeah?"
Me: "Er.."
He: "Only the coins is in the car, right?"
Me: (internal) "Of course I want change, you little git. Unless you promise to spend the money on soap and a decent deodourant, I want change. Thats over a pint of beers worth of change there. And driving the half mile from the Pizza place, running down countless adorable furry animals, consuming fossil fuels needed by Soccer Moms to put in their absurd Jeep things, and still managing to deliver the pizza in a state that can only be described as 'cold' does not merit a 20% tip. I want my change."

Of course I didn't say that. I never do.

Me: (brightly) "Its ok, you keep the change. Have a drink on me."
He: "Ta"


Two Hot Pokers! Quick!

I may never forgive the BBC.

I forgave them for all those reality shows. I forgave them for 'Elderado'. I even forgave them for waiting until after Douglas Adams died before commissioning a third series of the radio incarnation of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy.

I cannot, however, ever forgive them for making me think "Hmmm, Michael Portillo? He's actually not a bad bloke, you know"

I cheered with the rest of the nation when he lost his seat in Parliament back in 1997. I booed when he slipped into the seat sadly vacated by Alan Clark. I found him a repugnent politician through and through.

And tonight I happened to be watching a repeat of a TV show he did for the BBC last year (after he 'retired' from political life) where he spent a week in the place of a single mother with 4 children in a deprived area of Liverpool. Of course it was manipulative television, and of course I felt that same guilty pleasure inherent in all car-crash TV. But I found myself warming to the chap as he struggled to make ends meet, deal with the kids and work in the local supermarket.

Damn you, BBC. I need to put my eyes out with hot pokers before you do something like persuading me that Margaret Thatcher is actually a bit tasty.

Tough Choices

Do I raid the fridge and rustle up some of my (in)famous chilli?

Or do I reach for the phone and ask a nice person to deliver something scrumptious?

Ok. No contest.

But then we have a tougher choice. Indian or Pizza? Or even, Indian AND Pizza.

You make one tough choice and then a tougher one comes along. Tch. Ordering takeaway food is such a metaphor for life. Admittedly, its a bit of a dodgy one, but there you go.

The Body Evil

I've come to conclusion that my body has an automated self-defense mechanism regarding exercise. I cycle intergalactic mileages, but retain my fuller figure owing to epic beer consumption.

Its like some sort of autopilot kicks in - I go to the bar, I try and say "I'd like a glass of iced water, please. With lemon," but instead "2 pints of your finest ale and a bucket of those distressing looking 'hot nuts' from the vat, please" comes out.

Whats that all about?

It happened again today. After doing a couple of little 4km runs, I came to the conclusion that my trainers were past their sell by date and needed replacing. The man in the running shop looked at them disdainfully and with the words "I don't even think our 'Shoes For Africa' charity will take these" disposed of them. The way he held them between finger and thumb and peered at them as though he had eyeballs in his nostrils was particularly impressive.

So I headed back from the running shop with a nice new pair of trainers and inexplicably felt myself drawn to a roadside burger bar. I never eat food from these places (except when, um, tired and emotional.) But my body knew that I was intent on a course of action for which it was not suited and took Steps.

These Steps consisted of a bacon cheese burger with extra fried onions and english mustard. Followed by fully leaded coca cola.

And now I feel faintly ill.

Curse you, evil Body! I will go running in the morning! Whether you like it or not!

Monday, August 23, 2004

And The Result Is...

...all clear. A slightly nerve-wracking week (the results actually came through on Wednesday, but my Doctor doesn't believe in dispensing good - or bad - news over the phone.)


First-born calls him "Doctor Nasty-Man", usually to his face. I think he rather likes the nickname. The guy is quite proud of his bedside manner. I suspect he'd call it "no nonsense", while his patients would describe it as "Crikey, I'm sick, you know? A bit of sympathy, please?"

However, he did save my life a few years back when I came down with pneumonia which The Ex declared was just a bad cold coupled with jet-lag after a trip to Montreal. My mother popped round to say hello, took one look at me and called the guy out. He packed me into an ambulance within the next 10 minutes, and I spent some quality time in intensive care.

Ah, you can't beat the good old National Health Service. I was eventually put in a mixed ward, full of seriously mad old people (one woman was convinced I was her grandson, another frequently pottered around the ward in the altogether.) The ward itself featured a pervading odour of urine.

On my last day the source was discovered. One of the old guys had knocked over a full bed pan under his bed and the cleaning contractors only clean under beds once a fortnight.

Its amazing I survived.

On my second to last day, some of my friends turned up (having visited earlier) and broke me out of the ward. We went to the pub for an hour. I was pathetically grateful.

Happy days...

Incidentally, its been pointed out to me that the previous post may have implied that First-born was an 'accident'. Not at all. And I'm still agonising over that question, you know. Can't have First-born without The Ex being involved along the line...

Q And A Part 2

3) would you rather eat someone else's booger or have someone else eat your boogers out of your nose?

Eww. That is just gross. The latter, definitely the latter. Although I suspect you could record the event and sell the footage on certain specialist websites. Yuck.

4) if you could remake one decision that you have made in your life, what would it be and why?

I've thought and thought about this one...

I'd like to go back in time, and explain to the 18 year-old Newly Single that while being, ahem, intimate with your English teacher is great for the adolescent ego, it shouldn't be the start of the one major long term relationship in your life. I'd advise him to take better precautions.

He wouldn't listen, of course. He never did.

This would, of course, mean no First-born. Hence the agonising. But I think I would have liked to see how my life would have turned out if I'd never met The Ex.

5) what is the thing that makes you happiest about your blog? what is the thing that makes you least happy? why?

The journal was immensely therapeutic during the whole divorce process. In that regard its somewhat redundant now. I guess right now what makes me happiest is the diary aspect coupled with the people I've 'met' through the journal. Why? Because I always wanted to keep a diary, but was rubbish at it until I began using this medium, and meeting fun people just can't be beat.

The downside was the fear of being 'outed' and the couple of times when I've felt the need to self-censor myself. The big thing, I guess, is the 'life laid bare' aspect of the journal. There are posts containing stuff that I wouldn't even tell my closest friend. Thats probably the worst thing; the whole exposure aspect. Why? Because I'm actually a pretty reserved person, this isn't something I do (the only person who knows my feelings and thoughts as well as a reader of this journal is The Ex. At least she used to. Heh.)

Have to wait until 10,000 for the next batch of questions...

Q And A From The Lem

Part 1...

1. If you had to get newly married again right now (i mean HAD to), knowing all the people you know right now, who would you pick and why?

You askin' ? Seriously though, if we narrow the field to people I've met in real-life then yes, there is someone who works at this company. Why? She makes me laugh, she's interesting, there's something dangerous about her and she laughs at my jokes. She's also entirely off-limits (either she or I would have to quit our jobs if we ever became more than 'just good friends')

2. Whats the best story from the "mr. newly was a young lad" archive that would help us get who you are today?

When I was about 8 years old, I went to a catholic junior school. Somebody in my class took great delight in stealing the shoes of a certain girl. Somebody else told the headmaster of the school that it was me. The headmaster decided to give me a fright and called the police in to talk to me, called my parents in, and stood me in front of the school with a placard saying "thief" around my neck.

Thing is, I didn't do it. I had no idea who did. No-one believed me, even though I'd never stolen a thing in my life - I was a model student.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, I still find myself remembering the shame of standing on that stage with the sign around my neck while the headmaster foamed at the mouth about the ten commandments. It killed whatever faith I had in the church, instilled a conviction that religious organisations are populated by hypocrits and gave me a deep distrust of my fellow human beings that I've only recently managed to get over. Interestingly, it also made me scruplously honest in everything I do.

One day I'll find the headmaster's grave and spit on it.

(sorry it wasn't a cheerier tale, but whenever I think of my childhood, this story pops up first and drowns everything else out)

3. What would rather do....eat someone elses booger OR....(now i turn this over to you, co-winner razz!)

So far I'm leaning towards the OR :-)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Check That

Reality hits expectation. A rare thing indeed.

Tomorrow, I shall reveal what happened when First-born tried the 'Japanese' toilet, what my brother and I did last night (and with whom) and other stuff and nonsense.

But now the laptop is required for Toy Story 2.


Friday, August 20, 2004

Le Weekend

Ah, the weekend.

Tonight I go out with The Brother. Beer will be consumed, a film will be viewed, and then, with luck, Takeshi's Castle will be watched as an early morning treat with a couple of bottles of good Belgian beer to hand.

And then tomorrow I drive 200 miles to collect First-born from a station in Peterborough at 1308. I can't fully describe how excited I am about this. I have a mental image of her stepping off the train at the platform and running toward me with a huge grin on her face for a big hug.

I hope reality doesn't let me down.

We'll head to my favourite place to stay in all the world (the old converted church), visit my aged grandmother, and on Sunday head for home where a street party is apparently planned.

This is shaping up to be a good weekend. A really good weekend.

All Lads Together

This post is rated R for ickiness. Sensitive souls should come back later, when there'll be something a little cleaner...

Ever been in a social situation with a group of friends and one starts telling the rest something they shouldn't? An amusing, but embarassing something?

And part of you is screaming "Stop! Stop! Don't tell me this thing! You'll regret it, because I *am* going to laugh and remind you of this for years to come"

And another part of you that is not so pure of motive is sitting firmly on the good part, and rubbing its hands in glee.

The last time this happened I was with a drunken group of friends, and one began to tell us how he'd made it through University. It transpired that he'd discovered that the local sperm bank would pay £10 per donation. He became a frequent visitor and went into quite graphic detail about the whole, er, process.

We laughed.

The next day, he arrived for work with a stinking hang-over to find, on his desk, a small plastic cup, a pair of latex gloves and a box of tissues. He never lived it down.

And this lunchtime it happened again. A new member of staff, eager to impress during our Friday lunchtime beer, launched into a story of the hijinks he and his fellow students got up to in college. It transpired that his room had a balcony that overlooked the chancellour's office. So on occasion he and a group of friends would stand on this balcony and, er, enjoy themselves in the same manner as the friend above, with the exception that they were targetting the chancellor's window rather than a small plastic cup.

We considered this for a moment.

And then the table erupted into gales and gales of laughter. Aside from the guys who were still eating and now looked faintly sick. It wasn't the window thing; that was just yucky, it was the concept that a group of guys would get together and, well, *do* such a thing in company. On a balcony.

So this chap now has a new nickname. I shan't put it here, since my journal is already blocked for naughty content. I shall leave it to your imagination.

And when First-born is of an age, she is NOT going to The University Of Bath. Although it sounds like the boys are more interested in each other than in girls. So perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad idea after all...

Further Things I Learnt From Yesterday

* Don't Use A Computer When Drunk

I have absolutely no memory of creating the previous journal entry. For reasons to be made clear in a moment I could only look at comments this morning, saw Another Drink's and thought "What the heck did I say about Switzerland? Have I offended an entire country?"

I should check the Sent Items folder of my email, but I haven't the courage at the moment.

* If You Know A Foreign Language, Don't Tell Anyone

I'm fluent in German (well, it takes a couple of days and then its like my brain switches gear.) Nobody in the office knows this. They also don't know that when they were talking about me, my boss and other people I know and care about, I understood. Every. Word.


* This Journal Is Red Hot X Rated Material

Seriously. Not only is it blocked by Vodafone. The Internet Cafe at the airport wouldn't let me look at it. And yet all the journals in the side-bar work.

Evidentally I am bad, and my thoughts are dangerous materials which, in the wrong hands, could incite violence. Alternatively, NewlySingle might mean something very rude in an as yet unknown language.

I really should go to work. The fact I had to check-in for my flight home at 5:30am will cut short shrift with the human resources department.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Things I Have Learnt Today

* All Buildings In Switzerland Must Feature A Bomb Shelter

What the heck is that all about? I mean, its not as if Switzerland featured much in the last couple of European wars. And even then, it was mainly as a place to stash all the dirty money.

Few things can rank as high in the 'disturbing' stakes as being given a tour of the facility by Sven, and he saying "ja, so zis is the bunker. When I close zis door" (clunk) "ve are completely isolated"

* Don't make passes female customs employees. No matter how pretty they are.

So, I'm working right on the border of Switzerland and Germany. I drive through customs and my passport is checked by a very pretty customs official. I invite her out for a pizza. She reponds with a search of my vehicle. Is this some European courtship ritual of which I was unaware?

* Never try and exrcise your rusty German on the attractive waitress

"Hello, can I buy you a drink?" in my interpretation of German sounds more like "I want to ravish your mother, father and brother" according to Sven. And judging by the expression on the face of the waitress, may be even worse.

More on Sven later. He merits his own posting.

We Have A Winner

Yes, I keep stats on the site. Mainly as a way of checking if The Ex has blundered across the journal. Not really a problem any more, but reading some of the google searches can be entertaining.

And yesterday the 5000th visitor since the middle of May logged on for their daily dose of bitterness, bad grammar, awful spelling and general Ex-related whining.

So who were you, Mr or Ms 5000? You came from Canada, you paid a visit at around 1400 UK time and your ISP is someone called Shaw Communications. Make yourself known, and you win a prize... er... the prize being "Ask Me 5 Questions"

I'm rather glad that Mr or Ms 5000 wasn't the person searching for "cash machine policewomans breasts" - I'm not sure I would have liked to have heard their 5 questions.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ugly Can Be Misjudged

The photo won't do it justice.

I'm a sucker for nightscapes.

An adventure next year will involve travelling to the middle of a desert and spending a couple of night camping out and looking at the stars.

I miss First-born.


Who Did You Say You Were Again?

Uh oh.

I should have seen it coming.

The Date and I are enjoying a drink before dinner. I'm drinking wine (always a bad thing, but I figured that ordering a beer roughly the size of a small child would not go well with the attractive lady I was meeting. At least until I had a chance to work out what was acceptable or not.)

She is sipping a gin and tonic.

She: "So what do you do?"
Me: "Oh I'm in pharmaceuticals too"
She: "Really?"
Me: "Yes - clinial trials. Human, of course."
She: "Oh? So what brings you to this part of the world?"
Me: "A client has sprung a snap inspection, and the office here needs some support"

(something at the back of my mind was trying to make itself known at this point)

She: "Hah - me too. The regional office called me out here too."

(the little voice is getting louder now)

Me: "No way? Why are you here?"
She: "Oh, I'm an auditor - I'm here to audit xxxxxx"

(the little voice was just a little too late. Her company name had sounded a little familiar last night, but beer at the bar had drowned it out)

Me: "I work for xxxxxx"
She: "..."
Me: "..."

And there, my friends, the date ended. Damn.


One of the Germans has been proudly demonstating his new toy - a Panasonic Toughbook. To show how tough it is, he threw it on the floor...

..."ja, zis it is designed for, you see"...

...and broke it.

Moments like these make life worth living.

Little Blue Pills

Ok, so things are looking up. I met a charming lady from a well known pharmaceutical company in the bar last night. Tonight we have a date.

With luck, she'll bring along some of her wares.

And tonight I will tell you all about Sven...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Do You Like Fondue?

For those labouring under the impression that Switzerland is pretty, may I present the view from my room.

Prosecution rests.

The problem with the current batch of adventures is that my fear of flying is getting progressively worse with each flight. God knows what I'll be like on the plane to Whistler in December.

I blame myself. I'd always been a bit of a nervous flier and decided that my fear was silly and needed to be conquered. My solution was to devour air-crash investigation documentation. A little ghoulish, but I figured the best way to deal with such silliness is by learning all about it.

It worked too. It also stopped anyone wanting to sit next to me in the departure lounge as I whipped out my CAA folder and started reading about the causes of crashes involving the brand of plane in which I was about to fly.

Unfortunately the effect was shortlived. It began to unravel a few years back when I was sitting next to a very nervous flier and reassuring her that all the odd bangs and squeaks were normal.


She: "What's that!!?"
Me: "The landing gear retracting"

(Whirrrrr... pop... pop...whirrrrrr)

She: "And that? What about that?? The engines are slowing!"
Me: "Yes, thats normal. We're flying low over a residential area. Don't worry, this particular aircraft could stay in the air on a quarter of the thrust of just one engine"

Except at the back of my mind a little voice piped up "No, that bang might not have been the gear. It might have a premature air-brake deployment, like on that Korean plane. In a matter of seconds, in the words of the CAA, the plane will 'cease to have the characteristics of an aircraft'"

So now I do the white knuckle thing with the best of them.

Today's flight was not helped by the fact that a chunk of the wing looked like it had been patched with the stuff I used to fill in the rust holes on my first car. Swiss Air have clearly fallen on hard times. Nice stewardesses though, and a welcome change from the bulldogs that snarled up and down EasyJet's aisle.

I'm going to hit the bar now and hit my expense account even harder. Drunken update later...

(Incidentally, it appears that my journal has now been blocked by my little red vodafone card as 'adult content'. I feel somehow proud of this fact.)

Why Did I Have To Go And Do A Stupid Thing Like That?

The scene - last Sunday, the garden of my Dad's house, idly watching my father and my The Uncle create a fireball on the barbecue the like of which would have impressed the late Red Adair.

I am surrounded by women either married or about to be married to various cousins. I am also about to get stitched up.

She: "More beer?"
Me: "Oh no, I think I've had enough"
She: "How about some champagne?"
Me: "Oh, go on then... hic"
She: "You know how you used to do running?"
Me: "Yeah, a few years back now. I mainly cycle now"
She: "Do you think you could still do it?"
Me: "Running? Yeah..." (puffs out chest) "'Course. A few months training and I'd b fighting fit"
She: "Really?"
Me: "Oh yeah. I'm sure it would all come back"
She: "Oh thats great. Why don't we run a 10k for Cancer Research in October?"

Bugger. It seems she'd been looking for a running partner and everyone else had found other places to be.

Which is why I was out this morning, doing a tentative mile. When I made it back to the house, I looked like I was having a seizure. My previously grey t-shirt was black and I was steaming gently in the morning dew.

The dog, who normally jumps up wagging her tail whenever a member of the family appears, looked at me, shook her head sadly, and pottered back to bed.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Leeeeeving On A Jet Plane

The buck was being passed around the office at an impressive velocity. Like something The Tron Guy might attempt with frisbees before falling over and splitting his lycra.

"I can't go, I've booked tickets to see Dido with my wife"
"I can't go, I'm taking my kids to see Spiderman"
"I can't go, its my wife's birthday"

And so it went on. Until all eyes settled on me. I began to regret making public the fact that I have new freedoms since wife is now ex-wife and child has been taken away on holiday.

Me: "No, not me. I can't go. I'm busy."
She: "Doing what?"
Me: "Er, er, feeding the boss's cat while he's away. It'll starve, you know"
She: "No it won't, load up some food bowls and it'll survive for a couple of days"
Me: "Well, I can't go. I don't know the systems"
She: "Never stopped you bluffing before..."
Me: "And I've got this really itchy rash. I should really go to the clinic. I might pass it on to the client..."
She: "..."
Me: "Damn. I'm going to have to go, aren't I?"
She: "Yep. Here's your ticket."

And that is how I discovered this afternoon that I would be spending the rest of the week in a deeply ugly part of Switzerland. Lucky me.

The World Has Gone Mad

Ah Monday morning, and here I am struggling to find things to do rather than what I'm supposed to be doing. This includes tidying my desk, sending emails to friends and family, and finally hunting for the biscuit that I'm sure slipped down the back of the drawers last week. I'm a bit peckish, you see.

I also have a new pair of shoes. This, in itself, is not newsworthy. The interesting aspect is a warning sticker placed on the sole. It says:

"These shoes have been made of the highest quality leather. Leather is permeable and so these shoes are not suitable for excessive outdoor use."

Hello? These are SHOES for goodness sake. For wearing on feet. They are not the delicate and lacy things I might wear for a ballet lesson, nor are they humourous 'tiger feet' bedtime slippers that I might have owned as small child (and that my father doubtless has concealed in a loft ready to impress potential girlfriends: "Yes, he looks stylish now, but look what he wore when he was 5! Would you like to see the infamous 'paddling pool' video?")

These are SHOES! What will it be next: "Please don't take this umbrella out in the rain, it is not suitable for a damp environment", "These condoms have been made of the highest quality latex and so are not suitable for intercourse", "This beer has been made of the finest ingredients, and so will taste like urine and not get you drunk"

Oh wait, that would be Budweiser.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Attention, Please

Important Messages:

For the lead guitarist in the band I saw at the Blues Bar. A 10 minute guitar solo in every song gets tedious after a while. And while I respect and admire your proficiency on the fretboard, please stop. Now.

For every guy in the bar who came in with a nice girl. Please pay attention to your girlfriend. Leaving her sitting alone while you go and talk to your friends is bad. Don't be surprised if you return to find her in conversation with me.

For the bar. Stop selling beer in 4 pint jugs. It only encourages foolish bets along the lines of:

"I bet you can't drink all that from the jug"
"I bet I can"
"10p says you can't"
"Right, you're on!"

For the pilot on my EasyJet flight back from Prague. Coming on the intercom and saying "Er, ladies and gentlemen, we should be hitting the runway at 8:15" is bad. I never want to hear the word "hit" linked with the ground in any aircraft situation.

Thank you for your attention.

Hateful Things

I really loathe wasps. While in Prague, a friend was quite shocked at the slow and deliberate way in which I tortured them; I managed to capture 5 of the little bastards in a beer glass and spent a couple of hours watching them suffocate before killing them.

I only reserve this sort of treatment for wasps. Other creatures on the little island where I live (being the UK) are treated with respect (unless they stray in front of my car when I'm trying to beat my home-to-work-after-getting-a-page record.) I even like spiders.

But I can't stand wasps. I think the problem is to do with First-born, who was stung by one of the little so and sos as a baby. And since then I have carried out my vengeful retribution over the entire species. With the aid of beer glasses, wooden spoons and, on occasion, my car keys.

Which is why we have this photo. There's quite a wasp problem in the UK at the moment. I imagine the environmentalists will mutter things about "global warming", or "climate change" or even "which one of you bastards spiked my herbal tea with vodka?" Whatever. I ride a bike to work, so am allowed a certain amount of insufferable smugness.

The photo was taken at my aunt's birthday party this afternoon. A great party, but lots of wasps in the garden. So the Newly Single wasp catching device was deployed (an old jam jar with a bit of strawberry jam and water in the bottom.) By the end of the afternoon each of the 5 jars had snared 10 wasps apiece. A good day.

The bees buzzed around the flowers all day and didn't bother a soul.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Things That Go 'Lump' In The Night

This post is a little icky.

Yesterday was a tough day.

Checking for unusual lumps in the breast is something women are quite familiar with. Guys are supposed to check for unusual lumps in their testicles to a similar schedule. Except we don't, do we boys? We think we're going to live forever.

However, I do. My mother died of lung cancer and my grandmother from breast cancer. So I'm a little cautious about things, particularly when First-born came onto the scene.

And the night before last I found a lump. Yesterday morning I phoned my GP and was called in within the hour. He checked, and agreed that it needed a scan as soon as possible, and did I have any health insurance?

My company provides insurance, and by yesteray afternoon I was in a hospital having a scan. So within 4 hours of seeing the family doctor I was in the hands (literally, and a little painfully) of a specialist.

I feel irrationally guilty about this. My 82 year old grandmother cannot get insurance any more and so relies on the NHS. It takes her weeks, or even months to get appointments with specialists. In the time its taking her to see someone about her knee and hip she has deteriorated markedly.

I was in, and being checked within 4 hours of reporting symptoms.

There's something wrong with the system.

(The results of scan were inconclusive. The images are going off to another specialist for analysis. Probably using some software that I wrote. Oh, the irony.)

Friday, August 13, 2004

Muh Woman Done Left Me

Tonight is shaping up to be a Good Night. Me and some friends are heading out to Ain't Nothin' But, a blues bar in Soho.

The joy of being the boss is that I get to say "Right chaps, work finishes early today! The Blues is calling me!"

One of the guys is bringing his girlfriend, who is in turn bringing some of her single female friends. This, I suspect, is all part of a ploy to win a bet that I undertook while my friend Beer was being intimate with my liver.

Me: "Thatsh it. No more. Never again. I'm staying single from now on"
He: "No chance. You've not spent more than 3 months 'single' since you were 18"
Me: "True. True..." (vague waving of finger) "...but a man can change. I'm not making that mistake again."
He: "Hmmm. £100 says you do."
Me: "Hah! Easiest £100 I'll ever make!"
He: "Ok. I give you two years. If you've had a serious relationship longer than 6 months in that time I win. If you don't, you win"
Me: "Hah! Done!"

...and so he's been introducing me to eligable bachelorettes ever since like some demented match-maker. Tonight we apparently have a couple of student nurses to meet.

And this, you see, is why The Ex is sadly deluded...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Sex with The Ex

Life has taken a slightly surreal turn.

Following The Ex's ranting on the phone earlier in the week (see posts passim regarding unleashing the legal dogs) I had expected more of the same when collecting First Born tonight.

I didn't expect The Ex to be in alluring/seductive mode.

Me: "Hi, is First-born ready?"
She: "Almost - she's watching television in the lounge"
Me: "Oh, er, ok. Is she likely to be finished soon?"
She: "Oh, we've got lots of time. The Boyfriend's out too. Beer?"
Me: "Uh, no, I'm driving..."

What followed was a none-too-subtle stroking of the ego in the form of a tirade on The Boyfriend's 'Performance' ("He's lost interest since he moved in") and a suggestion of "one for old time's sake".

Is it me, or is the woman getting slightly unhinged? What the heck was all that about?

Luckily, I find her about as attractive as a road accident, so am still virgo-intacto, so to speak. At least as far as the whole 'sex with the ex' thing goes.

First-born is, as ever, blissfully unaware. She's more concerned that if The Ex and The Boyfriend get married next year, it doesn't interfere with her trip to Florida.


A moment of pure Monty Python.

The scene: Sitting on a train at London Waterloo station, waiting for it to leave and take me home. An announcement over the station PA.

Station PA: "South West trains would like to apologise for the delay of the 10:45 from platform 3. This has been caused by extreme weather conditions"

('extreme' means the astonishing discovery that sometimes it rains in England)

And then a crackling voice came over the train's own PA with The Truth:

Train PA: "Er, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry about the delay. We're awaiting the arrival of the crew for this train. They're currently on a train waiting for an available platform at London Waterloo. Er. Actually, its this platform they're waiting for. Um. So they can't arrive until we depart, and, er, we can't depart until they arrive... so, er... sorry about all this..."

We, the passengers, looked at each other in horror. Was this to be our Groundhog day? Stuck on a train forever (or at least until Bill Murray arrives to overact and Andie MacDowell to be, well, just faintly irritating.)

And then the British 'can-do' attitude kicked in as we realised that no, we were actually in a Monty Python sketch. Train driver played by John Cleese, guard by Michael Palin. And eveything was right with the world.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wherever I am...

I have a small person staying over tonight. We read some A.A.Milne. She chose "The Friend" and "Us Two" because, in her words, "Thats me and you, Dad"

Yes. I got all choked again.

Right up until she explained that she was Christopher Robin and I was his bear. Because I'm apparently a similar shape to Winnie The Pooh.

And she expects presents at christmas? Hmmm...

Appraisal Time

I'm currently ticking off the hours until a First-born visit tonight. I'm actually collecting her from The Ex, so it should be interesting...

In the mean time I have a performance appraisal to do. My approach to these has been:

Boss: "How would you rate your performance in the past year?"
Me: "Fantastic. I'm great. The Daddy. The Man. *You* tell me how I'm not. And I'll have a pay rise, please"

Which, surprisingly, always seems to work. I suspect that I've always left my backbone in the office when going home of an evening.

This time I have a form to complete.

Question 1: "How do you handle criticism?"
My answer: "With surprise"

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bed And Breakfast Paradiso

I have to admit, my heart sank when I saw the hotel for the first time. The feeling was somewhat tempered by the knowledge that I hadn't booked it, and I'd be able to use its grottiness as a sure fire way of getting free beer from the guy who'd made the choice.

As ever, appearances were deceptive. The interior put me in mind of Adventureland at Disney (without the Pirates. Or overpriced junk food. Or surly French cast members.) It was, of course, lovely. Aside from the 'Being John Malkovich' moment I had when peering out of my room and seeing a door for little people opposite.

I love Prague. I wish I was back there. The next Adventure Abroad will be Barcelona in September. October is hazy - I'm torn between Amsterdam (been there, love it) or Budapest (never been there, looks fascinating.)

My situation has its upsides after all.



That was fun.

I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, but I rather enjoyed that.

Look! Vertibrae!

Long meeting with the lawyer this morning.

This is what is going to happen. The consent order actually comes up this week (it isn't tied to the Decree Absolute as I thought, its tied to when The Ex and I signed off on it - apparently a month ago.)

So I have options. The first option was the one I offered The Ex - I don't pay maintenance until she comes up with her side of the deal. That one was angrily rejected last week.

Option 2. The court will force her to sell the house. Because property is all about paper, there isn't a lot she can do, and the court will send in baliffs if need be. The sadist in me likes this option, but I haven't reached that plateau of nastiness to do it.

Option 3. I like this one. The amount in the consent order starts to accrue interest at judgement rate. This is about 8%. Which translates to 650 UK pounds a month. If The Ex had kept her temper, it would only have cost her 350 UK pounds a month, so there's a certain satisfaction in this...

So lawyer shall talk unto lawyer - its out of my hands. I'll be talking to The Ex tonight and will break the news then.


A couple of little things tipped me over the edge.

One was her refusing to help with transporting me to the airport this weekend because The Boyfriend's parents were visiting.

The second was a postcard from First-born from Italy. Except it didn't come from Italy, it came from England and was sent to shut First-born up who was wondering why I hadn't received her card.

Reason why?

The Ex didn't bother to send it.

Two weeks in Italy (and three days in Monte Carlo) and she couldn't find a place that sells stamps to send First-born's postcard to me.

Little things, I know, but I'm tired of it. Really tired.

Ok. I've finished whining now. Last of the Prague stuff to come later.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I Heart Prague

I was a little concerned about this whole trip. Not the going to Prague part of it, but the mode of transport selected. The airline was EasyJet. A budget airline.

I have a friend who works as a contract aircraft maintenance engineer, and he won't fly EasyJet. He shakes his head and says "Its only a matter of time, only a matter of time" But the tickets were cheap, and so we went. As you would imagine, the check-in staff and cabin crew regarded the passengers with thinly veiled contempt (indeed, at the other end the stewardess didn't actually have to say "Get the F**K OFF MY AIRPLANE", her expression did the work for her.)

But we survived, and enjoyed the singing of the stag party that was kicking off in the back of the aeroplane. Especially the one about the four and twenty virgins.

The first two hours were spent locating the hotel. Entirely our fault; we told the taxi driver "Hotel Elite", he took us to "Hotel Knocking Shop". Silly us. It did mean that I got to look at some of the frankly bonkers art scattered around Prague. In this case, a pair of gigantic silver legs. Female, I presume, with a silver thong hanging around the knees. Hmmm.

Hotel located, we set out to find beer, and I took the photo above. As we sat in a pavement cafe and watched the beautiful people file by, we planned the next 48 hours. The trek to the hotel had changed my mind about the format of the weekend. I'd planned to spend the time crawling from bar to bar, doing things that would probably require a liver transplant in 10 or 12 years time. I was unprepared for the beauty of Prague. So I made a radical suggestion. Skip the late night/early morning sessions and make the most of the daylight hours instead. Which led (after a lengthy leer) to a return to the hotel by 1am and breakfast at 8am.

So we crossed the bridge. Replete with big tower.

"Hey, I know" said some bright spark "Lets go up the tower!"

And so we did.

Gosh, what a good idea on what transpired to be the hottest day of the year so far. And me with jeans and t-shirt. Yes, I thought about jumping off. Yes, I fought the urge to yell random obscenities at the people below. No, the stag party weren't around.

The Charles Bridge is a fantastic pedestrian crossing. A little old lady gave us an unwanted lecture in broken english on its history. Little old ladies seem to have a bit of thing for me.

The statues on the bridge interested me. Normally you see halos, or big gold dishes behind holy figures. I can only assume by the propellors on the heads of these statues, that these must be the patron saints of geeks.

And of course, later on in the day, the street musicians come out in their dozens. All more talented than I will ever be, and all playing for a pittance. I wanted to weep for the beauty of their music. All except the guy playing "You Are My Sunshine" on a kazoo.

The whole tower thing got a little out of hand over the course of the day, and by the end we'd climbed five of the bastards. The last one had me visualising dangling the idiot who's idea it was from the top by his ankles. Unfortunately, doing that to oneself is not only difficult, I suspect its illegal. Certainly in some US states at any rate. Ah, but the views...

And of course, there was the Astronomical Clock. A crowd would gather in the square every hour on the hour to watch this thing chime. Little statues rotate around in the doors. I dare anyone who's seen it not to think "Disneyland Small World" aside from the farting sound made by a trumpet at the end. And the frankly bizarre applause from the crowd. I mean, hello? It isn't a performance. Its litte wooden dolls, rotating.

And apparently the guy who built it so impressed the town elders that they blinded him so he coulnd't build any more. Shame no one thought to do the same to guy who built Disney's Small World ride. I hope First-born never reads that bit...

But ultimately, what its all about really is sitting with a cold beer or mysterious spirit based drink, and watching people go by in a beautiful setting.

More later...

You Wanted What?

Dear Person Who Found This Journal While Searching For 'pilot stewardess get blowjob',

I hope you found what you were looking for.


...all of which reminds me of a happy event from my childhood. I had a huge crush on one of the BBC's female news readers. Might have been Jan Leeming.

But I digress.

There was a story years ago about a British Airways plane that had to make an emergency landing when, during a normal descent, one of the cockpit windows failed and the pilot was sucked out of the aperture. A steward managed to get hold of his legs and keep him from disappearing entirely until the co-pilot was able to land.

The image of the steward performing this act of bravery is amusing enough. But what made my day as a (very) young person was that the news reader (the fragrant Ms. Leeming, if memory serves) used the words 'cock' and 'suck' in the same sentence.

Those were simpler days. These days I'm a little more sophisticated and instead have a crush on BBC Radio 4 news reader Charlotte Green. I don't want to know what she looks like. Just tie me to a chair and have her read poetry to me.

Yes, I am trying to avoid doing work at the moment.

15 Crown

It used to be a tradition in European countries, that whenever one wished to use a public convenience (bathroom/toilet/McDonalds - take your pick) there would be a wizened old lady perched by the entrance to extract money with menaces before allowing you into the gloomy room beyond.

Sadly, this seems to be in decline. Possibly as a result of various European Union directives concerning wizened old ladies, inescapable bodily functions and financial transactions.

I was curious to see if Prague, as a fresh-faced member of the EU club, had been similarly affected. And indeed, there was a dearth of wizened old ladies.

However, on my way to find a taxi to the airport, I elected to pay a swift visit to the bathroom (more advice from my father: "Never pass up the chance for a pee") and was confronted by a near spherical woman of advanced years blocking the doorway.

"5 Crown" she said

I hurriedly pressed a 20 Crown coin into her hand and headed into the dim interior.

While I stood, contemplating philosophy and counting the cracks in the ceiling while I waited to, er, finish, there was a tug on my sleeve. I broke one of the sacrosant rules of "The Gents" and turned my head. Next to me was the old lady.

"15 Crown" she said and tried to give me some silver coins. My hands were otherwise occupied.

"Keep it"

She shook her head and repeated "15 Crown" until I was able to take the money from her.

"Thank you sir. You have good day, yes?"

Sunday, August 08, 2004

5 Hours Ago

...I was sitting in a pavement cafe, picking at a plate of goulash and sipping a glass of ice-cold Staropramen beer. Taking the photo you see above.

And now I'm back in my little room in the UK, reading email and updating the journal.

Prague is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. Book tickets and go. Tomorrow.

...more tomorrow. Along with why the words "15 Crown", coupled with a tug on the sleeve, now fill me with fear and dread.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Land Of The Paranoid

Ladies and gentlemen, we are away. The bit of paper you see above is the Divorce Absolute. Also known as "You're Outta Here".

Getting this piece of paper has made all the teeth gritting indignities endured through 'amicability' worthwhile. I know people who've had this process drag on for years. Here, it took about 4 months.

Now I get to grow a backbone. Heh.

Great show last night. Click the link in the post below on Sunday for a listen. I'm not sure if my contribution will make it into the broadcast. The keywords are "Ant And Dec" (which nobody outside of the UK is going to understand.)

With the bit of paper now in my hand I'm thinking about the future.

Not for the first time I'm pondering a career change; my first choice of career was journalism and writing runs in the family. I took the option of computing because there was more money in it. Looking back, I think I made a mistake. I've had a few bits and pieces published over the years. Maybe its time to make a little more effort...

...and possibly bother to proof read these posts for grammar and spelling before hitting the publish button.

Time to catch a plane.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Speaking Of Bladders

Some of you may have noticed I have links on the side-bar. Some of you may even have clicked on a few (if you clicked on the B3TA one you probably said 'Eek' and hit the back button before your boss saw what was on your screen.)

Squatting there is a link to the BBC audience ticket page. This is my secret hobby. Pick a Radio 4 comedy show, and the odds are that I'm in the audience. Its just great. Going to London? Pick yourself up some free tickets here. The radio shows are usually better than the TV ones from an audience perspective.

Why so? Firstly because the atmosphere (unless its in a theatre) is like that of an old comedy club. The venue is small, the audience barely a couple of metres from the performers. A bar is attached, and you're encouraged to bring your beer through with you. Oh, and did I say its free?

Tonight I'm going with friends to a recording of The Now Show.

Why the bladder reference? Last time we went (to The News Quiz, I think), we drank rather too much beer, forgetting that it takes over an hour to record a 30 minute show (outtakes are great.) One of our number had to make a break for the bathroom.

Unfortunately when you're on the front row and do this, you find yourself being referenced in the subsequent broadcast in a most unflattering manner.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Thank Your Lucky Stars

I took the bike out today. I've managed to find an excuse not to ride it ever since EuroDisney and felt I really ought to make my peace.

It rewarded me by dropping the back wheel during a particularly arduous climb up a hill.

As I stopped and looked over the Downs, framed by the blue sky and old buildings (and envied the people who get to have such a view) I felt incredibly alive. Hot, sweaty, but definitely alive.

Why is it that when one is having such a spiritual epiphany, one's bladder always has to pop up and say "Remember that beer you drank after work? Well, I haven't. And remind me - how far are you from the nearest bathroom?"

Another First-born night tonight. Yes, the Toy Story 2 DVD is ready. And a new Noddy book. Yay!

Another long talk with the lawyer: the deal with the consent order is this - it lasts for 28 days. If nothing has happened after 28 days then the house is sold and split 50-50. Its out of mine, and The Ex's hands. Yes, I enjoyed breaking that particular bit of news tonight... ahem.

Do The Right Thing

From the legal department:

There was a somewhat heated discussion with The Ex last night.

The issue is this:

As part of the whole divorce thing, there is a consent order. This basically sets out the terms of the divorce and what each party will do. Our's goes thus:

* The Ex and The Boyfriend buy me out of the house
* First-born stays with me for a minimum of 2 day nights a week over the course of a year
* I pay The Ex £400 a month for upkeep of First-born

It's supposed to kick off within 28 days of the Divorce Absolute (which eagle-eyed readers may have noted occurred quite recently.)

Thing is, The Ex and The Boyfriend are nowhere near fulfilling their side of the deal - lets face it, there isn't a great deal of pressure (he earns more than me - my £400 will probably go towards holidays) and I've made it clear that I'm not going to force them to sell the marital home. This is the main reason why I lost the apartment.

So my lawyer advised me not to start my side of the order.

The Ex pretty much exploded. That I can handle. What I had a problem with was that her reaction was "Ok, then you can't see First-born"

So last night I wrote a cheque and took First-born home. The Ex looked smug, I felt like I'd caved in - again. The little girl in question had no idea what had gone on and was more concerned that I fix the string on her purple sparkly cowboy hat.

A friend said:

"You did the right thing in the long game - good man. You'll get your payback soon enough - whilst she disappears up her own bitter and twisted backside"

Yeah. Right. Doesn't feel like it at the moment.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Awww... Cute...

Haven't posted a photo for a while. Thought about one of a sleeping First-born taken just now because it sums up that after the disconcerting mental state of the last few days, all is now well in the world of Newly Single.

I didn't upload it because I have some sort of 'nauseatingly cute' fuse in my head that went pop just before I hit the button.

Anyhow, First-born has returned. No being squashed by a car. No airplane crashes. No being trampled by a herd of enraged badgers. So we ate strawberries, watched Toy Story 2 and read a 30 year-old Noddy book. Conversation following said book:

FB: "Why does Tubby Bear keep being spanked?"
Me: "Because he's a naughty bear"
FB: "So what is 'spanking'?"
Me: "Oh, its - er - something you get if you're naughty. Its a bad thing. People don't do it anymore."
FB: "No. Mummy just hides my Barbies if I'm naughty"
Me: "Really?"
FB: "Yes, she forgot to give them back before we got on the plane too"
Me: "Oh dear, shall I talk to her tomorrow?"
FB: "No, its ok. I've hidden her credit cards. That'll teach her to f**k with me."

Ok. She didn't say the last sentence. She didn't have to. The tone of voice said it all.

I'm going downstairs now to put all sharp implements in the kitchen somewhere safe.

Excitement Reaches Fever Pitch

First-born returns today. I'm collecting them from the airport, not through any altruistic motive but through pure selfishness; I get the first hug earlier than planned.

Unfortunately, I have started having nightmares; had a good one last night. One of those horribly real ones. I'm waiting in the car at the arrivals zone. First-born, The Ex and The Boyfriend appear in the doorway, First-born sees me in the car and runs across the road to say hello. Screech of tyres. First-born is thrown up in the air like some sort of doll.

It took far too long to wake up from that one, and rather than the guilty feelings of yesterday, I was drenched in tears and hyperventilating.

First-born stays over for 2 nights. Tonight she has requested/demanded a trip to the awful tex-mex mentioned in posts passim. This is principally to add another sparkly hat to her collection. I also have to lie to the waitress and pretend it is First-born's birthday in order to ensure that there will be sparkly balloons and what resembles a distress flare stuck in a slice of chocolate cake.

Monday, August 02, 2004


Woke up this morning feeling vaguely guilty.

What the heck is *that* all about?

I'm assuming its the substitute for a hangover, courtesy of absinthe rather than anything deeply psychological. At least, thats the story I'm telling myself, and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

I have an absinthe shaped hole in my memory.

Yesterday was a fun day. Saw a film. Had some really good Italian food. Pottered around and complained about the heat. Opted for a night in with some DVDs. Wielded the credit card and collected some champagne on the way back.

It was all going well. 3 bottles of chilled champange were drunk. Strawberries were eaten. And then... from the depths of the freezer... came the bottle of green stuff.

This can be kept in the freezer, owing to the fact it is 70% alcohol.

The next thing I knew it was morning. Evidence suggested something happened but no matter how much I poked at the bit of my brain where the memory should have been, nothing was forthcoming.

And its not the sort of question one likes to ask:

"Er, about last night..."
"Did we, er, you know...?"
"Did we what?"
"Well, you know"
"You mean I gave you all a woman can, and you can't remember! It meant so little?"
"Er, no, it just that-"
"You men! You're all the same! Bastards the lot of you! Mother was right!"

So I opted for frying up some bacon and eggs instead.

We have another date at the end of the month. Before that, there's the waitress and I still have some thinking to do on the subject of the hairdresser.

Life has suddenly got a lot more interesting.