Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Self Indulgence...

This post is a thoughtful/self-serving whiny one. Readers preferring old skool Newly should skip down the page to posts about dropping mobile phones in beer and having needles stuck in one's bottom by a beautiful woman.

Still here?

So I didn't ask the physio for a drink. The same way I didn't ask the receptionist out. The same way I won't attempt to be more than friends with the lady I talked about a few weeks ago.

As I sat in the cold outside the hospital, I suddenly understood the problem. I can't remember a time since I've been dating that I've made the first move. The dates I've had (the waitress, the hairdresser, etc) have all been instigated by the other side. Whenever I've tried, I've... stalled. Thats perhaps the best word. Frozen up. Changed the subject. And then I've let these people drift away.

I never used to be like this wayback when.

I'd been deluding myself; as I replayed conversations and scenarios in my head while condensation began to freeze on the windscreens of cars parked nearby, things became clearer. Everything looked a little different.

I realised that I'm quite a bit more fucked up than I thought. I'd hidden the loss of confidence under a layer of bravado. I'd been dumped after 14 years for a short, blind, bald guy who is as old as my father. I look in the mirror and see someone who didn't measure up. I'm not the sort of person you'd see across a crowded room and think 'wow'

Yeah, it has pretty much destroyed my self esteem and confidence. So much so that I'm terrified of instigating or pursuing a relationship for fear of rejection.

Realising this is perhaps another step on the road to normality (or at least as normal as I want to be.)

Well, That Was A New Experience


Needles don't actually bother me in the slightest. And I've never had acupuncture before, so when the physio suggested it (as part of the grand plan to get me on the ski slopes in exactly one month's time) I was intrigued.

She adopted the usual bedside manner preferred by the medicos at this particular hospital:

"Will it hurt?"
"No. Yes. Well, it might a bit..."
"Can anything go wrong?"
"Oh no. Well, a needle might break, and then I'll have to call someone to make an incision and extract it. But thats never happened to me before. Not yet, at any rate. Happened to Bob last week though. My, how we laughed..."

And so on. It was the same with the MRI scan (which, for those who don't know, uses powerful magnets to build up a tissue map of the body)

"Do you have any piercings or metal objects within or attached to your body?"
"No. Why?"
"Because of the magnets. There might be... problems."
"What? You mean the magnets are strong enough to..." (tails off with images of Aliens bursting forth from chests)
"Oh, thats never happened sir. Not in this country. Not yet, at any rate..."

I swear they just like messing with my mind.

I didn't ask the physio for a drink. There is a reason. I'll be back later with an explanation.


Here are three things I carry about. The evil mobile phone (thankfully the even more despicable pager is no more), a ball and chain in the form of an emailing device and a dog-eared notebook and pen.

I'd made a note of flights, hotel and the address of the office in the notepad. I felt a little foolish. I mean, the email thingy stores all that, and the mobile phone does too. But, well, I work with computers and so have more reason than most to mistrust the black-heart of new technology.

And so it was that before I even boarded the plane to fly out the mobile phone died. Admittedly, I may have played some small part in its demise by dropping it into a pint of beer at the airport. Accidentally, of course.

And then somewhere over the English Channel, the Blackberry lost the will to live (a feeling I know all too well, having spent time in the company of Germans.) It refused to be switched back on, doubtless petulant about being switched off for the purposes of airline paranoia.

The notepaper was fine. And the pen did sterling service, er, writing stuff.

I think there's a moral here somewhere. I just haven't worked out where.

While I ponder this, I shall head off to the Physio. I gather I am the last appointment of the day. I may well slip in a "Do you fancy a drink?" - although decorum states that I'll wait until after I've got my clothes back on.

So. Very. Tired.

I am so tired. Seriously. I have been undone by my own prevarication.

As I sat in the taxi on the way back from the airport, my head lolling in that way that can only be achieved by a Christopher Reeve-style spinal injury or much too much beer, I pondered what I was going to do about the printed-out email that was sitting in my pocket. My boss needed a favour. A presentation due by the end of the week to be done by tomorrow.

And he, being a revolting born-again-non-drinker and born-again-non-smoker (Amsterdam had a profound effect on him, it would seem), was planning on reviewing it at 0430 this morning. I peered blearily at the clock on the driver's dashboard and calculated that I had about 6 hours left in which to do the work before I could slip into blessed inconsciousness. More than enough time you would have thought.

You would have thought wrong. You would have reckoned without my immense talents in the field of prevarication. I watched television. I made myself a sumptious meal involved healthy vegetarian ingredients. I did some ironing.

When I'd run out of things to do, I finally began; knowing that I was looking and feeling my best.

A wicked suggestion was made that I should slip a little naughty something into the presentation using Powerpoint's often abused animation tools. I don't think I did that, but things got a bit hazy at around 0230. I'm waiting for the telephone call saying "A slide has just appeared comparing the General Manager to Bert from Sesame Street in an unfavourable fashion - how did that get there?"

The presentation, attached to a self-serving whiny email was dispatched at 0300, and I settled into what I felt was a well-deserved bath, replete with good book and substantial alcoholic beverage. Some time later I woke up in freezing water, surrounded by dissolving bits of paper. There was a banging on the door. My lift to work had arrived.

And that, your honour, is how I came to be at work, looking like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards with a hairstyle that z-list celebrities pay their stylists a fortune to achieve.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Oh, And Another Thing...

What is this obsession airlines have about mobile phones? They apparently "interfere with the systems of the aircraft"

Wow. Its a good thing Bin Laden and his happy band of lunatics haven't thought of that little wheeze. All that effort in smuggling explosives or knife wielding maniacs into the cabin, and all they have to do is turn a mobile phone on and call their long suffering mother while at 30,000 feet, thus sending the plane into a death spiral over the nearest populated metropolis.

We need some honesty here. If the airlines said "Look, put the electronic gizmos away during take-off and landing; we need your attention in the event something Bad happens. Engines dropping off. That sort of thing. And as for mobile phones, well if you can't go for more than 60 minutes without irradiating your brains with the damn things and driving your fellow passengers into homicidal rages with your non-stop bleating of "Hello? I'm on the plane! What? I can't hear you!" then you'll find the emergency exits there, there and there. Thank you."

Now read that and imagine it in the smiley tones of a steward or stewardess with a grin (or grimace, depending on your perspective) painted on with the same thick brush as that used for their fake tan.

Rant over. I'm spending far too much time in planes at the moment, and I think 'the script' is starting to get to me...

Home Again, Home Again

I gazed at the video screen that was instructing me on what to do in the event of a water landing, struck (as I always am) by the sheer pointlessness of it. I mean, as far as I know there has only ever been one water landing by an airliner which was even remotely survivable (i.e. a gentle landing in a horizontal orientation, rather than a screaming dive vertically into the depths.) And even then less than a quarter of the passengers survived.

The fiercesome stewardess, with hair scraped back from her head in Prisoner Cell Block H style, ensured all attention remained fixed on the screen and the distressingly flame damaged plastic surround. Such things do not inspire confidence.

I was returning from Switzerland, and I was (and, if truth be told, still am) a little tipsy.

It isn't my fault.

I spend a lot of my time travelling alone and usually use the time to catch up on my reading. Alas, this time I'd made the mistake of buying Irvine Welsh's 'Filth' - a book of such unmitigated badness that I can't even be bothered to link to it. There were only so many times I could re-read my dog-eared copy of Private Eye, so I elected to indulge in my other favourite airport past-time; the airport pub-crawl.

This is a simple game, and passes the time from check-in to boarding. The purpose is to achieve as many laps of the airport as possible, stopping at every bar for a drink. My record for Basel (only 3 bars) is 2 and a half laps. I was sadly off the pace, and only achieved 2 laps before the boarding call was made and I marvelled at how full the aeroplane was.

Where had all the people come from?

While I was doing my circuit training, the airport had been deserted. More than once I'd been tempted to stand outside the empty duty-free shop in the middle and cry "Where Is Everybody?" (a temptation becoming stronger with every beer.)

I didn't, of course. I'm English, and so would probably have been more inclined to write a strongly worded letter to The Times.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Don't Forget Your Toothbrush

Sometimes I wonder why I bother unpacking my suitcase.

Oh yeah, I remember - the neighbours would complain about the smell...

So this evening I'm out with the lads and then tomorrow I get to visit the ugliest part of Switzerland again. My comments of last time were noted by the management and I now have a hotel that is allegedly located in a more attractive area.

I'll believe it when I see it.

I also feel a rant coming on about the British public transport system. More on that later...

Friday, November 26, 2004


Yesterday I met the Physiotherapist for the first time. Since I got to keep my MRI scans, she was able to cast a professional eye over them and make comments:

She: (with more enthusiasm than I'd prefer) "Wow! That's a really good injury!"
Me: "Er, 'good' as in 'good' or 'good' as in 'bad'?"
She: "Well, I'm surprised you're even walking - look at the way that nerve is pinched. I mean, your leg should be totally dead with that sort of damage"
Me: (faintly) "Oh..."
She: "Lovely prolapse though. Nice and symmetrical..."

And so it went on. I've never heard the words 'prolapse' and 'lovely' in the same sentence before.

These medicos really could do with a little training in bedside manner.

The other problem was that she was really very pretty. After the problems with the osteopath, I was hoping for a man or maybe a woman to whom I would not be attracted. She proceeded to poke at my back, working down the spine. "I'm just going to check on the state of your sciatic nerve," she said.

What she actually meant was, "I'm just going to fondle your right buttock for a while, is that ok?"

She: "Does that hurt?"
"No" I squeaked, conjuring images in my mind to avoid thinking about what was happening below my waistline. Mentally going through my repertoire of christmas carols saved the day. "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" was particularly helpful.

If you've ever seen the television adaptation of The Singing Detective, you'll understand my dilemma entirely.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Cutely Nauseating

This (with sound) made me snort with laughter. With this sort of thing, you either get it or, er, you scratch your head in confusion and hope it didn't show up your browser log.

Last night was a First-Born night. Or rather, last night was a "Hi Dad, can I play the Sims 2?" night. Sometimes I genuinely worry that all she comes round for is to play with my toys. And then I'll find a little note or picture propped up on the kitchen table after she's left and get all choked.

My current chauffeur, Phil, encountered First-Born for the first time last night. The Ex, you see, is now too stressed to drive, so if I want to see FB I have to collect her. Did I mention that I no longer have transport (can't drive a car because of the back) and so have to rely on the generosity of friends like Phil to get me around? The cynical side of my nature has therefore raised a single eyebrow at THe Ex's sudden protestations of being too stressed to make the 15 minute journey.

Making conversation with a 7 year-old when you have no children of your own can be tricky, and most adults tend to pitch the level at the lowest common denominator. Phil asked First-Born about films. Surprisingly, Toy Story 2 wasn't mentioned:

Phil: "So whats your favourite film?"
FB: "Oh, I like the Muppet Christmas Carol"
Phil: "Really? Is it a good film?"
FB: "Oh yes. Its very good. Except for when Gonzo says he's Charles Dickens, which is silly."
Phil: "Why is that silly?"
FB: (sighs that "Adults!" sigh the children do) "Well. Charles Dickens was a nineteenth century novelist. Gonzo is a blue muppet with a funny nose."

Phil went a bit quiet after that while First-Born regaled him with tales of singing lessons, attempts to swim breast stroke (that generally involve sinking) and the current beau. I suspect he was rather relieved that she hadn't moved on from the whole Gonzo/Charles Dickens thing to the difficult-to-explain-on-a-biological-level relationship between Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy.

Today's post was brought to you by the word "precocious" and the number "7".

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


And so its off to Switzerland again this weekend. I fly out on Sunday, which means I get a whole day to myself in the one of the world's most ugly cities.

While this would not normally be a cause for celebration, I am rather looking forward to it. A Swiss girl I met whilst in Amsterdam has enthusiastically agreed to my tentative suggestion to meet up. I can only hope that her appearance is as I remember it, and my memories are not being blurred by a little too much 'coffee' from the coffee shops.

Knowing my luck she'll turn out to be a sheet metal welder called Hans. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess.

I should also stop going out for drinks with members of my family. I end up agreeing to things that I really shouldn't (or really should, depending on your point of view.) Last night saw beers and an impressively bad chinese meal consumed in the company of cousin Ian. The chinese meal is a story in its own right - we ordered a bottle of wine.

It turned up already open.

It only occurred to me this morning that was not a good sign, and the bottle was most likely filled with the dregs from the night before.

We drank it anyway. With all the antifreeze in it I'll be sorted for my trip to Whistler; no chance of this boy freezing now.

But as usual, I'm digressing. Ian (who I think I've mentioned in the past) chucked in his comfortable job and went off round the world in a sailing boat as part of the Clipper races back in 2001. The deal is this - you pay a sum of money and you get a place on one of the yachts. Experience not required (in fact, no experience is preferred) - they train you up and then around the world you go.

Through beer-tinted spectacles, this sounded an excellent idea. And when I returned home (slightly worse for wear) I signed myself up. It was only in the morning that sobriety kicked in and thoughts such as "You'll be away from home for lots of months - what about First-Born?" and "There's a good chance you might get killed doing this" began to weigh heavily against "You've no mortgage, no debts and who wants to buy a house anyway... Why not?"

But what an adventure. The 2005/2006 race is too soon. I'm giving serious thought to the 2006/2007 race. With the backing of my cousin (doubtless seeking a vicarious adventure of his own) I apparently stand a good chance of being selected.

Yet again, what to do... at least this time I've got a good year to be indecisive.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

They're Ganging Up On Me

First the on-line grocery store, now Amazon.co.uk.

I did some christmas shopping (oh, I'm so organised) and decided to tidy up my address list. Lets face it, I'm unlikely to be sending anything to my mother-in-law again unless someone writes a book entitled "Cabbage - Fifty Different Ways To Boil It Into Green Slime" or "Sunday Roasts - Nobody Likes Mystery Meat"

I whittled the addresses down to one; my current address. Amazon.co.uk helpfully gave me an addreviation that would appear in any drop-down lists. It was this:

"(My Name) - Dork"

Its a conspiracy.

Counting Down The Days

My family have had a tradition at christmas for as long as I can remember. In the weeks before christmas my brother and I would decorate 26 little envelopes (numbered 1 - 25, with two for 25.) We'd draw the numbers and then add pictures, patterns or whatever artistic expression our chubby little fingers could muster. My mother would then fill these envelopes with penny sweets and put them on a notice board. My brother and I would then take turns opening one envelope a day until christmas day.

I carried on doing this with The Ex (I think she felt the whole thing was a little ludicrous, but indulged me nevertheless) and most recently with First-Born.

I've booked myself a night out on the 1st December and, as I made an appropriate mark in the calendar just now, it occurred to me that this will be the first time that I can remember that there'll be no gaudy board of envelopes draped with tinsel. First-born isn't here enough to make it worthwhile and there seems to be something just, well, sad doing it for myself. Like sending christmas cards to oneself.

Right now the fun, games and adventures of being Newly Single are feeling... aimless.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Fun For All The Family

I was in town, collecting a new set of keys for my flat. I am about to acquire a cleaner (I've missed being woken up from nights of excess by kindly faced old ladies garbed in marigolds and overalls.)

As I crossed the road, I noted a poster for an upcoming pantomime entitled: "Cinderella: Worthing's Laughter Panto"

Taking the sheer horror of pantomime out of the equation for a moment, I pondered why one needs to advertise such a show as "Laughter". I mean, you're hardly going to think, "Hmmm, where shall I take the kids this christmas? Oh, I know - how about 'Gulag, The Musical' - that should be a giggle."

And yes, I have a bit of a downer on pantomimes. An afternoon surrounded by children in various states of lavatorial distress while Z-list celebrities prance about the stage in drag is not my idea of a good time.

The Madness Of The Ex

It would seem that The Ex is getting a little bit odder, if such a thing is possible.

I bumped into a mutual friend yesterday and after correcting the usual list of misunderstandings ("You do know that she moved her boyfriend in within a week of me moving out?") learned that The Ex had begun suffering panic attacks, had been signed off work for some time and was taking some serious mind-altering medication to stave off a nervous breakdown.

It may surprise you that this news did not leave me with the warm glow that Ex-related misfortunes normally do.

Even in my bitterness, I felt sick with worry. Not for The Ex, but for First-Born who has to live in the environment. First-born tends not to talk about her home-life much (and I don't like to pry) - the most recent hint that all may not be roses is her assertion that she does not want to attend The Ex and Boyfriend's wedding. I shall ponder my next action with care.

Positive news from the surreal department. On the way into work this morning, the nose cone of Concorde was seen making its way down the High Street and further on, a lorry had shed its load onto the road. The load appeared to be boxloads of feather boas.

I'd forgotten my camera. Damn.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Mr Clean

It appears that the late Douglas Adams and I share an approach to deadlines.

The nearer a deadline gets, the more I prevaricate. My favourite mode of prevarication is to take a bath: "I'll just have a bath to get my thoughts in order..."

As the moment of truth approaches, my baths become more frequent. Sometimes I can get through 4 or 5 in a day. The use of bubble-bath can be shown to be linked directly to the closeness of the deadline.

I have to give a presentation tomorrow. It's Sunday evening and I haven't started. But damn I'm sparkly clean at the moment.

Incisive Inspirational Shopping Ideas

I'm cursed with an inability to take other people's generosity without feeling guilty and worrying about it.

For the past month or, my shopping has been done for me by Family Member Of The Week. I'm feeling marginally guilty about this, and so tonight investigated on-line grocery shopping.

My last attempt a few years back was somewhat disasterous. I have fond memories of the arrival of 36 4 pint bottles of milk following a slip of the keyboard.

Things seem a little slicker now, and in no time I'd was ready to hit the 'checkout' button. Another button marked 'Inspire Me' caught my eye. I clicked it, wondering what would appear. Maybe the system would identify my glamourous lifestyle and suggest champagne, chocolate or fine wines. Maybe exotic foods would be recommended.

I waited as the system thought. And then, at least, inspiration appeared.

"Toilet Tissue - 12 Roll Family Size (Bulk Purchase)
Domestos Bleach
Mr Muscle Kitchen Surface Cleaner"

I've never been so wounded by a computer.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Music In The Rain

The town where I live has been described as 'quaint', 'olde England' and 'characterful'.

This means that it is entirely unsuited to the 21st century. If I'm honest, it wasn't a lot of good in the 20th century either. Traffic is a big problem, with the 'Y' shaped street layout being gridlocked for much of every day.

In the middle of this layout is a traffic island, and as I made my way to the osteopath for my weekly dose of sado-masochism/physio-therapy I saw a man dressed in a dapper white suit standing on a traffic island between the static cars.

He was playing a violin, and the music had made all those on the pavements on either side of the road stop and listen. It was quite, quite beautiful. He wasn't busking, and there was no way to give him any money anyway. He was just playing for the joy of it.

And for a while the rain, the traffic and the greyness that is Autumn in England melted away as the music washed over we who were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.


Hot on the heels of the stalkery post, something really weird has happened.

Someone has sent me flowers. They're very nice - I like having flowers around the house; they brighten it up (although I prefer plants that I can fruitlessly attempt to keep alive rather than cut flowers.)

The difficult thing is working out who has sent them. You see, no-one actually knows where I live aside from immediate family and a couple of male friends.

Ordinarily, a surprise gift like this would be lovely and flattering. But coming the day after several 'silent' phone calls I'm finding it a bit disturbing.

I await the coming week with interest.

Recursive Tendancies

So it appears that there is new 'blog it on' fad. Did I mention before that I hate the word blog? So if you're listed here, you've got to list three blogs to which you link or regularly read and explain why you do so.

Raspberry has linked to me, and in turn I need to pick three from the links to pass the whole blogging lurve thing on. This is tricky, because if a blog is linked, then I generally enjoy reading it (aside from Si who cruelly killed his blog, and I've not get around to removing it from the list.)

But three (without recursion, which removes Miss Issues, Lemon and Ms Raspberry)...


It would have to be All Back To Mine, a blog that I will be truly gutted to see come to end. Always well written, always outspoken, usually brings a smile to these jaded features, and a fellow Brit for whom I'd like to buy a pint or four. I found him in the links of the blog below...

And there's T & A (although mostly T rather than A. A appears to have vanished into the ether.) A whole different Californian life, and usually brightens a gloomy English day (even when T is ranting...) I can't remember how I found this blog, but I'm glad I did.

And finally I'm going to break the rules and get all recursive. Lemon and Raspberry were the first blogs I came across when starting this journal, and their stats will attest that I check them at least once a day for updates. Totally honest and a true window into interesting lives. Ladies, I salute you.

Shame it can only be three. See those links on the right? Click 'em. You might like what you find.

New Experiences

When I was a teenager, I dreamt of a time when I could walk into a pub and the barman would know what I wanted and have it waiting for me on the bar in the time it took me to get from door to barstool.

Now I'm an adult, I realise that this is a somewhat pathetic ambition. And equally tragic, it appears to have come true.

My preferred pub closed down last month for something laughably called "refurbishment" (basically, a lick of paint and some of the more distressingly stained or torn chairs replaced.) As I strolled past last night, I was hauled in by the landlady to sample (along with a select band of 'regulars') the results of the new beerlines. Very impressive. But also a little disturbing that I'm considered a 'regular'. My teenage self would be proud. My adult self hangs his head and shuffles his feet, but takes the free beer anyway.

I also appear to have acquired a stalker. This is highly exciting. Today I got the Silent Phone Call at work. Some machinery in the background and the sound of a person breathing. I await further developments with a mixture of intrigue and dread.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Dinner with Dad

Remember the bastard-with-the-book story? My father has a better one. He was queuing at the check-in desk. The guy in front was attempting to check himself and his family onto the flight with an open-ended ticket. He hadn't forewarned the airline and so naturally the plane was full. Cue cursing at the attendant and a blue tinge to the air.

Then it was my father's turn. He had a proper ticket, but there was still no space. Our foul-mouthed protagonist turned and said "So you're stuck in this (insert expletive)ing airport too then"

"Oh no, sir" said the attendant, "*You* will be stuck in this (insert expletive) airport. *This* gentleman will be upgraded to First-Class"

I love that story.

And Another Drink is right. I should never have become friends. Can't do it. I'll stick to shallowness for a few more years; I'm getting quite good at it.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Mount It, Frame It And Stick It On The Wall

Oh yes, I forgot. I got given all the hard copies of the scans.

Apparently they're for when I go skiing. In the event something goes wrong, I can present them to the Canadian doctors to prove that I'm the one English man with a back-bone. Unlike our dear Prime Minister, Mr Blair.

Speaking of back-bones I'm still in the land of 'do I' or 'don't I'. Let me explain. I have a problem. As regular readers know, there have been irregular dating excursions, fun and games and other such jollity of the heart over the last few months. It all pretty much came to a halt with the move into the flat and away from the area. And also with the twang of the back.

So the problem. There is a someone that I've become very fond of. A good friendship seems to be taking hold. The thing is, I think I'd like more than that. The problem is attempting this could make a mess of a friendship I've come to value a great deal.

What to do. What to do.

Other news just in: The Ex has named the date of the marriage of the year. Feb 16th 2005. Apparently I will be getting an invitation. Everyone can come as my guest, ok?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Strap 'Em On

If I've been a little quiet these last few days, its for a variety of reasons.

The biggie is that today was "Meet The Surgeon" (soon to be a hilarious screwball comedy featuring Robert De Niro squandering what little credibility he has left) and I was nervous.

Hell, I pretended it was the curry last night, but the nervousness was clearly making itself felt all day.

After a ride in The Most Expensive Taxi In The World, and listening to the driver complaining that his wife didn't understand him (in actual fact, it sounded like she understood him completely. Most women do) I found myself in the unprepossessing town of North Cheam. South, East and West Cheam were not present. Possibly victims of some Bin Ladenesque conspiracy involving water melons and aardvarks. WMD are so last year, dahling.

As a private hospital, it was depressingly bright and clean. Nurses smiled and the magazines were only marginally out of date, being concerned about Princess Diana's new boyfriend, rather than the outrage at Grace Kelly marrying some obscure royal you get in the elderly publications at my local doctors surgery.

I was called in. The surgeon peered at me through thick, thick glasses. I was sure he wasn't wearing them the last I saw him. "Mr Single?" he said in thickly accented English, "We have found your problem" and there, on the lighted panel behind him was my spine in all its glory. Slipped disk, kinked nerve (well, I *am* pretty kinky, if truth be told), and worn vertibrae.

All good news apparently. The damage is healing. The last 6 weeks of caution have paid off. Another 6 weeks and this boy is going skiing. The benefit of fixing it 'properly' with surgery are outweighed by the risks. So the man is going to leave me alone for now, on one condition. I have to build 'trunk' strength.

This, darlings, means a six pack stomach rather than the six pint stomach I currently possess. The thought of a man in Mr Magoo glasses poking about in my back with a scalpel is all the inspiration I need.

After this last beer.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Siesta In Spain

Due to the vageries of British Airways, I opted not to go to bed on Thursday night in order to avoid missing the taxi that was supposed to arrive at some godforsaken time of the morning on Friday.

I also figured that this would give me time to pack and avoid the usual last minute panic in which I find myself. Naturally, things didn't work out quite that way, and I was still tracking down rogue items of underwear as the driver was thumping on my door in an impatient fashion. As it was, I only forgot toothpaste and a hair-brush. Well below my usual suitcase misdemeanours.

The airport was predictably hellish. A huge stag party dressed as Groucho Marx (individually; collectively would have been more interesting) occupied the check-in staff before I dragged what I laughably was pretending was hand-lugguage to the desk. British Airways eyed the thiny disguised suitcase and insisted it go in the hold. I cursed the stag party that had made this woman take her annoyance out on me, extracted valuables from the bag and bid it farewell in the faintly tearful fashion I reserve for luggage that I know I'll never see again and headed to the boarding gate.

The flight was thankfully uneventful. No back problems (which bodes well for Canada) and a truly awful in-flight mean (improving on the 'inedible' that was thrown at we undeserving passengers on the way to and from Amsterdam.)

I stepped off the plane into a hurricane. The blue sky and bone warming heat that I'd been hoping to find had been replaced by a chill only really known by the Scottish.

It was cold. Windy. And raining.

Even the sea looked unhappy to see me. And judging by the state of the shore there'd been either a visitation of a serious seagull, or the makers of the first Scary Movie.

This, my friends, is why I never swim in the sea. Particularly around here. Just think what must lurking in the water to coat the coast in what appears to be orange marshmallow.

However, the lady who'd collected me (more on her later) had invested in some local gin, which when mixed with tonic more than made up for the weather and selected a nearby restaurant with a menu to make vegetarians shudder. So all was well with the world.

Day 2 saw more venturing out. Still windy, still cold, but at last a blue sky. I pottered about the cliffs and looked at the sea. Its an eerie place; like a British seaside resort, except you know that in 6 months time the place will be alive; shuttered shops will open, and holiday-makers will frolic amongst the scum in the sea. Not like a British holiday resort (aside from the scum in the sea bit.)

Lacking an Isle-Of-Man-esque epiphany, we explored some of the old towns. Long time readers will know that I'm sucker for narrow alleyways (I mean, I live down one for goodness sake) and it didn't take long to find an eatery sited in an old blacksmith's forge. Hearty local fayre was consumed along with a bottle or two of the local wine. This was naturally followed by a slightly unsteady wobble back to house and a 14 hour sleep.

And, as is the way of things, the weather turned on the last day. I poked around an old church (where had everyone gone? Lots of cars parked, but no-one around.) Did some touristy stuff and enjoyed the best steak I've had for... ooooh.... about 6 years.

And then today, I had to come home. I'd become rather attached to the place - mainly because it appears that my laptop didn't work, so my employer couldn't get hold of me. But it was awfully pretty.

I also learnt the benefits of being a bastard. I checked in about as late as possible and so for the second time in my life, found myself bumped up to First-Class. This struck me as a little unfair on all the people who'd followed the rules and checked-in on time. There was me, late, sipping champagne and nibbling filet-mignon while the proles behind were having cardboard boxes of mystery meat thrust at them.

Tough life, eh?

Sadly no pole-dancing stewardesses. I understand thats only if you fly Virgin.

I really am going to have to make this decision soon, you know...

Follow The Herd

"If there is someone on your friends list who you would either like to tie down and have your way with, teasing them mercilessly and making them beg for release, or have them tie YOU down, post this exact same sentence in your journal."

Yes, I stole that shamelessly from Ms. Raspberry

The only sad thing is that it appears one can only pick one individual.


Stay tuned, sports fans, for a substantial update later tonight featuring spanish adventures, lovely photographs and distressing menorcan goo.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Fly Fly Away

And tomorrow I leave for a Spanish island. Apparently they've just had an impressive thunderstorm.

I was hoping for sunshine, but lightning streaking across the sky whilst I sit on the balcony, sipping beer and enjoying the show will do just fine.

Stupidly early flight, so I think I may simply stay up all night, drinking beer and watching DVDs.

If you see a guy in a black leather jacket, slumped and quietly drooling in the departure lounge at Gatwick tomorrow, it'll probably be me. I'll be the one for which they keep calling the last call.

The Bastard Files

The perfectly lovely Tamara wrote this recently, which struck me as an excellent way of ruining someone's day.

I used it just yesterday. The stewardess was handing out beverages and snacks. A passenger in front wanted a gin and slimline tonic.

"I'm sorry, sir, we only have normal tonic. Will that be ok?"
"Of course it isn't f**king ok. If I'd wanted 'normal' tonic, I'd have f**king asked for it"
"I'm sorry sir, can I offer you anything else?"

And so it went on. All through the drinks trolley. Nothing was ok, and the abuse kept flying. To her credit, the stewardess just took it (she probably planned to have the police waiting at the airport to help the chap have a little 'accident' while walking down the steps.)

As we left the aircraft I noted the book he was reading. It was a mystery thriller; I'd read it myself a few months ago.

"Good book" I said, gesturing.
"Yeah" he grunted.
"The author's great. Keeps you guessing until the end."
"I mean, I had no idea the killer was David and the Peter was actually Sue's brother."

And with that, I was gone.

And another thing...

Based on the last 5 days, I find the following cartoon by the ever inventive Weebl somewhat appropriate.

Something I forgot from yesterday.

You know how one's mind tends to remind one about things one has forgotten just that little bit too late? Such as the fact that your house-keys are sitting on the kitchen table as you close your front door behind you, the fact that you've left a pot boiling on your stove as your plane touches down in Australia or the fact that you're married before you start screwing around.

Sorry, I couldn't resist that last one.

This time, it was a case of 'almost too late'. I was on the plane, heading for home, when a stewardess announced that non-European nationals would need to complete a landing card. I took that as a cue to check that I still had my passport and lo and behold, what did I find hidden in an inside pocket of my jacket? A neatly sealed sachet of 'stuff' given to me in a dark bar a few nights before.

An experience many years ago (and another a few days ago) has taught me never to take anything the providence of which I'm unsure. So I'd put the bag in my pocket and forgotten about it. It was all too clear in the harsh cabin lighting what the bag's contents were.

I briefly pondered trying to nonchalantly stroll through the green channel; but I tend to have 'guilty' written on my face in bright red letters when I do something Bad, and I really didn't fancy a cavity search (although at least it would have been free, I gather that it costs 75 Euros in certain Amsterdam establishments.)

So down the toilet with it. I bade it farewell like an old friend, and whistled a passable rendition of Taps as I pressed the flush button.

So, a close one there then.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What Happens In Amsterdam Stays In Amsterdam

I wish I could tell you that all I did was walk along the river and think deep thoughts. I wish I could tell you I went back to the hotel, read some more of the novel of the evening and had an early night.

All these things I wish I could do. But that wouldn't be the whole truth.

I crossed the bridge into the seamier part of town. I went to a coffee shop and hooked up with a couple of Dutch guys who knew where there'd be jazz. We dodged the herds of Japanese tourists and passed through the red-light district where ladies of every shape and size waved and pouted and tapped on windows (the Dutch are nothing if not inclusive.) We stopped at coffee shops and bars on the way.

We listened to great music.

Eventually I bade farewell to my new best friends, knowing I'd never see them again and made my way back to the hotel. In the morning I drank in a champagne bar while I waited for my taxi to the airport.

I can't fully explain it, but I've fallen deeply in love with this city. It isn't particularly beautiful, nor is it perfect in every way. But it seems more at ease with itself than other places I've visited, and I like that.

Home again, home again.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Oh Yeah

And before I forget, I'd swear I was sitting opposite Samuel L Jackson on the tram back. Probably doing some prepatory work for Pulp Fiction 2 or something.

I'd have asked for his autograph, but I didn't want to disturb the professionalism and focus of the man. He looked like he'd been partaking in what last night's waiter referred to as "a bit of shmokey, shmokey, you know?" too.

And do you know what the RAI's (the conference centre) slogan is? "A Better Climate For Business"

"A Better Climate" my arse. Do you know how cold it was today? Beneath the cheery slogan was a huge clock and thermometer. The temperature never got above 2 degrees celsius all day.

And now I really am going out. I mean it.

The Most Dangerous Man In Holland

Is a taxi driver. Seriously.

I considered my options this morning, opted for good behaviour and went to the conference. The catholic conscience so lovingly instilled in me by the mad nuns tends to load up on the guilt when unauthorised fun is being considered so I opted for the path of least resistance. With the boss gone, I also realised that I no longer had a partner in crime.

So off to the RAI I went. I eschewed the tram and damned the expense by flagging down a passing taxi. They're all Mercs here, and this one was a lovely silvery new one. I'm a bit of a magpie about such things and so hopped in without making certain important observations.

The first was the hi-tech dashboard. This is very clever. It tells you lots of stuff. The driver was blithely ignoring the following increasingly panicked messages from his car:

"Passenger restraint failure - proceed to nearest service centre"
"Front tyre pressure below operational limits - proceed to nearest service centre"
"Rear brake failure - proceed to nearest service centre"
"Front brake failure imminent - proceed to nearest service centre"

Well, you get the idea (although 'passenger restraint' sounded a bit kinky to me. I've been here too long.)

But that wasn't what scared me - I've used minicabs in London that were powered only by the wattage of the stereo. No, what really scared me was another aspect of the hi-tech dash. It was an in-place DVD player. What I thought was a nice picture of a town square turned out to be a shooty-shooty-bang-bang film with Matt Damon. As we careened through Amsterdam, narrowly missing cyclists and trams, the driver gave me a dutch commentary of the film, gesticulating at particularly good bits in case I'd missed them.

When we arrived, I noticed a wad of DVDs stuffed down the seat pocket. It looked like Matt Damon wasn't the only thing my driver liked to watch. I fervently hoped that the stickiness of the seat was only in my imagination.

I caught the tram back to the hotel tonight.

And now I'm going out, catholic conscience or not.

Jewels On Chains

A quiet night last night, I went out in search of jazz and found none (I asked a taxi driver and he misunderstood my "Live music?" as "Live show?" which means something entirely, and quite distressingly, different.)

In the end I sat on a bench and threw pebbles into the canal, watching the ripples reflecting the yellow fairy lights. I've got to make a decision about something soon, and I'm not sure I want to.

And then home. I figured my body could use a rest. I've been treating it quite badly over the last few days.

Tonight will be an entirely different matter. Oh yes...

...oh, and the reason I'm here? The conference? Well, lets just say it should have been subtitled "Death will be like this..."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Yonder Be There Bad Things

The day isn't the only thing thats grey. There are some big chunks of memory equally misty.

I'm going to have to add a new descriptive level to my lexicon of altered states.

The new word is 'spannered'

I munched on a cheese toastie (or tosti, as the Dutch insist on calling it) and when the improv jazz had finished headed off into the afternoon to explore. Too much beer, and way, way too many coffee shops later I returned to the hotel for a nap. And then everything goes very hazy. I can't really remember making the post below and judging by my attire this morning must have gone out again at some point.

An audit of possessions was hurriedly done - all present and correct, so whatever I did didn't actually cost anything (which rules out 2 of things for which this place is famous.) I did have one extra item that hadn't been there before; a napkin with an imprint of lips on it, a name and a phone number.

What to do? I can only wait until the mist starts to clear and see if the memory is one at which I'll be biting my knuckles in horror (like the whole Jubilee line incident in London back in 2000) or one that will mean I can cheerily cross some more things off The List Of Things To Do Before I Die.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


The boss and I were pottering about Amsterdam this morning.

"I need a beer" said I

And so we found ourselves at "Rembrandts Corner" in a cafe (not coffee shop.)

A band was playing improv jazz, with a female vocalist who had a voice more suited to a 50 year-old blues singer rather than a winsome teenager.

They were fantastic. We stayed all day.

I love this city.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Up In Smoke

Today marks the start of another adventure. In fact, its going to be a busy few weeks in terms of adventures. Flying to Amsterdam today, Menorca on Friday and then Barcelona again at the start of December.


Well, I guess because I can.

To this end I purchased some proper luggage, one of those irritating suitcases that just squeeze into the maximum cabin limit (the public reason is because I need something lightweight, with wheels and a handle because of my back, the private reason is because I like annoying my fellow passengers.)

A very helpful shop assistant took me through the options this morning, but I was distracted from the sales spiel by her attire. Now, I'm aware of the current fashion where women wear trousers that flirt dangerously with their hips, resulting in wobbly flesh hanging over the beltline and a good view of their underwear.

My position on this fashion is neutral. Like all fads, it can look very, very good or go disasterously wrong.

However, the shop assistant took it one step further. With every suitcase she bent to pick up I was treated a good two or three inches of arse-crack. It was like watching a road accident; I couldn't tear my eyes away.

In the end I bought the most expensive suitcase in the fervent hope that the poor women would be able to use her commission to buy some underwear from the Marks & Spencer store next door. In this weather she'll catch herself a chill.

Time to catch a plane.

And They Call This Television For Children?

First-born and I sat and watched a bright and colourful television show designed principally to sell merchandise to parents. It was a stop-motion affair called 'Bob The Builder', which features the catchphrase "Can We Fix It?" to which all the machinery reply "Yes We Can!" This is both sinister (I mean, a talking Cement Mixer? Its positively Stephen King) and inaccurate; lets face it, when presented with a similar question most builders I know reply with "A fortnight next Tuesday?" or "Oooh, gonna cost yer. You've had a real cowboy in here..." or a combination of both.

Today's episode featured Bob fixing the window of an Italian restraunteur, Mr Sabbatini (replete with comedy accent.) Bob and Mr Sabbatini are wondering what to do with a large pile of broken tiles (dropped by a talking forklift that was racing racing a living scarecrow called Spud. This really is the stuff of nightmares.)

Bob: "Oh dear, what are we going to do?"
Mr S: "I-ah know-ah Bob. More Sex!"
Bob: "Excuse me?"
Mr S: "Mosiacs! Mosiacs on-ah da wall"

I know some of these shows like to stick in the odd adult joke now and again, but really! I feel a strongly worded letter to the Daily Mail coming on. Probably starting with "Why is your newspaper such a steaming pile of-"

Friday, November 05, 2004


Readers who've never heard of the infamous Monty Python dead parrot sketch, or who are liable to get offended about me making fun of a serious situation should return tomorrow, when there'll be a nice First-born related post followed by the first Amsterdam photos. The rest of you... read on...

Is it me, or is there something of the Python about this whole Arafat situation?

The scene: Intensive care at an anonymous French hospital. The reception are looks suspiciously like a badly built BBC set. Of a London pet shop. Michael Palin, with an outrageous French accent, is behind the counter. John Cleese, with a towel on his head, strides in with a humourous walk.

Cleese: "'Ello. I wish to register a complaint"
Palin: "Sorry, we're closing for croissants and sheep burning, can't help you guv."
Cleese: "Never mind that, I wish to complain about this 'ere World Leader what I left not 24 hours ago in this very 'ospital"
Palin: "Oh, yeah, the Palestinian Blue. Whats wrong with it?"
Cleese: "Whats wrong with it? I'll tell you whats wrong with it. Its dead. Thats whats wrong with it."
Palin: "Nah, nah - its resting - look!"
Cleese: "Look my lad, I know a dead World Leader when I see one. I met Breznehev. And I'm looking at a similarly dead World Leader right now."
Palin: "No. Its resting. Lovely example of a World Leader this. Marvellous head gear."
Cleese: "All right then, I'll wake it up" (shouts) "'Ello Yassar! George Bush has promised to concede the election when you wake up!"
Palin: "There, it moved."
Cleese: "No it didn't. That was you pushing the bed."
Palin: "No I didn't."
Cleese: "Yes, you did." (props up deceased figure and shakes his hand) "'Ello Yassar! Sharon has withdrawn from the West Bank" (he releases his hand and the figure flops back onto the bed) "Now that is what I call a dead World Leader."
Palin: "No, no it's stunned."
Cleese: "Look my lad, I've had just about enough of this. This World Leader is definitely deceased. When I checked on it not half an hour ago you assured me that the lack of activity on the brain scan was due to it being worn out after a particularly tricky crossword."
Palin: "Its probably pining for the fjords."
Cleese: "Fjords? There are no bloody fjords in Palestine!"
Palin: "Its just resting. It'll wake up in a minute."
Cleese: "Look, I took the liberty of examining that brain scan machine you used the hour before. The only reason there was a squiggly line on it then was because you drew it on with a biro."
Palin: "Well, I had to do that. Otherwise it might have overloaded the machine. Tricky crossword and all."
Cleese: "Overloaded the machine? This World Leader wouldn't show any brain activity if you plugged 4000 volts into it. It. Is. Dead."
Palin: "It's not, its pining."
Cleese: "It's not pining. It's passed on. This World Leader is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late World Leader. Bereft of life, it lies in state. If you hadn't propped the eyelids open with matches, it would be in calm repose. This is an ex-World Leader."
Palin: "Well. I'd better replace it then. Got a special on Hamas this week."
Cleese: (to camera) "If you want to get anything done in this country, you've got to complain until you're blue in the mouth."

...and if I've really upset any lunatics in possession of weaponary, my real name is Tony Blair, and you'll find me at 10 Downing Street, London.

Frosty! How Could You?

I pottered back home from a very pleasant curry. Several bottles of Bangla Beer were churning about inside, coupled with 3 or 4 pints of T.E.A. from a local pub I'd not visited before (one of those pubs you sit in, chatting with your friends, until it dawns on you that there are no females in the pub AT ALL and the music playing is a cover of "Its Raining Men" by Geri Halliwell.)

Who cares? The beer was good. Although I'm glad I didn't go for the low calorie option of vodka and soda with a dash of lime.

So, following the inevitable curry, I climbed aboard the beer scooter, confident it would find its way home (it always does.) As I weaved my way back I noted that the pavement was glittering in the moonlight.


I'd not had any of the magic muffins, so I pondered this for a moment. Its a measure of the strength of Bangla Beer that it a took a good 5 minutes for me to notice the Ford Transit Van parked opposite with a cherry picker raised above it. In the cage were two men in hardhats attempting to attach christmas decorations to a lamp-post. Tinsel was raining down like dandruff from an old person.

One man was either attempting to connect a circuit within the snowman or performing an act of depravity on an inanimate object the likes of which leafy Surrey has never before witnessed. Frosty was certainly looking pained.

I gave a cheery wave and made my way back to the alley of Cold Blooded Killers.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Worst Line In History

The dating game has been a little slow of late. Moving town hasn't helped; being near the family has been great (getting my father to do my shopping because I'm not supposed to carry stuff about has been strangely satisfying) but I knew that a semi-permanent move, coupled with the inability to drive a car would end some relationships that I was rather enjoying.

So be it.

I did, however, finally screw up the courage to ask The Receptionist out. Well, almost. Things never go to plan, do they?

The first problem was that I didn't know her name. Yes, I *know* I could simply have asked around but oh no. The Ego knew better. Which is how we come to The Worst Line In History.

Me: (strolling in after a restrained lunch; a vodka and soda rather than the usual 2 or 3 pints of beer - I had to meet some auditors and I don't think breathing the fumes of depravity over them goes down well in a Good Manufacturing Practice audit) "Hi!"
She: "Oh, hi there Newly. Are you back to work?"

(Curse of senior management - everyone knows who you are; you get pointed out like an exhibit in the zoo. Parents take small children and point: "If you're bad, then *that's* what you'll grow up into")

Me: "Yeah, I think so, so long as I stay away from the bacon sandwiches in the canteen. Haha"
She: (smiles)

(The whole bacon sandwich thing is a long running joke in the office. Eat anything from the canteen and you can guarantee that within 30 minutes you'll be gripping the toilet seat with both hands, feeling like you're turning inside out. I particularly enjoy getting the canteen to do the catering during an audit and then running my own little sweepstake on who has to leave the table first following lunch)

Me: (struggling now, fighting the nervous stammer) "So, er, I've realised that I come in here every day and say hi and I don't even know your name..."
She: "Oh, well I'm xxxx"
Me: "Nice to meet you then, hey listen - would you like-"

At that moment a colleague appeared: "Hey, Newly, they're looking for you in the audit. Oh... (snigger)... am I interrupting something?"


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Good News Bad News

I was manipulated by the osteopath today. She's pretty, funny and a wicked flirt. She also has lived happily with her partner for the last 10 years or so (I checked.)

The chatting and flirting is designed to put one at one's ease so when the inevitable (crack) comes, you're relaxed and don't have time to go rigid with apprehension.

The good news today was the improvement in my back. The disk appears to be sorting itself out and while I'll still need surgery (because it'll just keep recurring) I may well be able to strap on some skis and do some falling over in the white stuff, so long as I look after myself for the next couple of months. This has unforseen consequences:

She: "So where are you off to this weekend?"
Me: "Oh, Amsterdam"
She: "Really? Are you meeting anyone?"
Me: (sheepishly) "Maybe"
She: "Oh, er, well, be careful of your back"
Me: (laughs) "Don't worry, I'm not going to carry anyone over the threshold..."
She: "Er, no. Thats not what I mean. You need to watch out for, uh, excessive pelvic movement..."
Me: (the English have a problem talking about this sort of thing) !
She: "You know..." (and proceeds to do a passable impression of Tom Jones)
Me: "Er, ok. So, er, what *can* I do?"
She: (gaining confidence now that the ice has been broken) "Well, having your ladyfriend straddling you is perhaps best, although a little one-sided - hahah"
Me: (faintly) "Haha"
She: "Or if the two of you lie on your sides and 'spoon' - you know what that means, yes? Good - that will be a good support for your spine and allow more participation. Now... relax..." (crack)

Now, I'm all for openness in all things, and a lot of society's taboos are plain dumb. But I could really have done without that conversation with a pretty woman while I'm down to my underwear.

Altered States

I am a relative newcomer to the scene of recreational substances; my vast and varied experience to date being sitting in dingy rooms as a student while a foul-smelling roll-up was passed around and a one-time disasterous flirtation with a pill given to me by a friend that I was assured would "blow my mind" but instead gave me a lost evening and a difficulty in focussing for a couple of days after.

In retrospect, my relationship with illegal substances was all too brief. I met The Ex and put all that behind me with a delusional lack of regret.

So, on The List Of Stuff To Do Before I Die (between 'Threesome' and 'Twister' - or a combination of the two) I have 'Try A Variety Of Illegal Substances'. Based on the experience of the weekend, I have tried to define the levels of, er, experience:

Level 1. Stoned.
This is relatively mild. The world is a little bit sparkly and everyone is, well, just great. This must be how Nicholas Parsons sees the world. Which means I probably need quite a bit more, which brings us to...

Level 2. Caned.
Ok, so now things are getting interesting. Not a huge effect (and not the sophoric effect of alcohol) but a definite effect nonetheless. I mean, take the moon. Its just great, hanging there, you know? What do you reckon stops it falling into the sea? My IQ has dropped to the level of a Pop-Idol hopeful although I'm sure I'm saying really profound stuff. I've become a politically active Hollywood star; spouting crap about stuff I really don't know much about. But I'm sure I'm not feeling any effects, I must just be stronger than other people, so I take some more...

Level 3. Monged.
This is interesting. This must be what life is like for Ozzy Osbourne on a daily basis. The world keeps slowing down and speeding up at random. I've got the attention span of a goldfish - everything is interesting for about 3 seconds and then I move on. I can't settle - conversation, playstation, music, conversation, dvd. It changes. I'm entranced by the beauty of a picture, the thunder of Holst and the taste of the night air. Unfortunately I've lost the ability to put it into words that make sense to anyone but me, although everyone looks really interested.

Level -1. Sober.
I wake up, 14 hours later with no ill-effects. Box ticked on the list. No desire to do it again...

But I am in Amsterdam this weekend...

Love Is

Today's post is the result of navel gazing. Readers expecting to find the usual slightly cynical outlook of Newly Single should check back later for a post which'll be about drugs and probably be more entertaining than this one.

Everyone gone? Good.

Here's something I've been pondering for a while. Did I ever truly love The Ex? And if so, how was it so quick and easy to fall out of love? For example, the other night when she called asking to 'try again' there wasn't a trace of desire within me to do so. When I look at her, I don't see the woman I was prepared to grow and old with, I see someone who appears to have taken to dressing like a rather badly wrapped parcel (mainly because the clothes she used to have are now all several sizes too small.) I mean, I know The Boyfriend is blind, but surely the sense of touch is unaffected?

More importantly, I don't see the person with whom I went to watch the fireworks this time last year, and outside I can hear the fireworks of this year taking flight.

I didn't think that love was something that could be switched on and off so quickly. I figured it was a feeling so strong that cannot be resisted by rationality and would eventually turn into companionship as the years went by so that life without the other ceases to be an option.

But if thats true, how can I explain the fact that I'm feeling more upset that I forgot to cancel a taxi this afternoon and so incurred a charge for the company I work for than the fact that the supposed love of my life is living with someone else? I don't like The Ex, I don't hate The Ex, I just feel... nothing.

Could it be that I fooled myself all these years? What I'd thought was love was just maintaining the status quo?

Did I ever truly love The Ex? Did she realise, and that was why she left me for someone who could?

And now, with the benefit of hindsight, I don't think I did. I said the words, made the vows, did the actions, but my heart remained cold. I married her because of something Bad that happened. I tried to love her, I gave up such a lot, but I don't think it was enough. And I think maybe she knew. She realised before I did.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I lay in the MRI scanner, pondering life and feeling relieved that I'm not claustraphobic.

The nurses had thoughtfully given me a list of music from which to select while the machine did its stuff. I have to confess that Norah Jones leaves me a little cold, Robbie Williams just annoys me and Radiohead seemed a tad inappropriate for a machine designed to detect various growths or tumours likely to leave one disabled or dead.

They wouldn't let me play my selected CD (the very excellent Garden State soundtrack recommended by this person) so I selected 'Hits from the 80s' - I am, after all, a child of the 80s. I waited for the wave of nostalgia.

Instead, I was greeted by a wave of nausea as track after track of Phil Collins washed over me. I began to fervently hope that I'd inadvertantly swallowed something metallic earlier in the day which could burst, Alien-like, out of my stomach while the magnet did its stuff and end the suffering. No such luck. When the music finally turned to David Bowie, the scan was over and the nurse was manhandling me out of the narrow tube.

And all of that reminds me; can I request all those writing blogs refrain from recommending books or CDs? Particularly compilation CDs like the one above, which I listen to and then end up having to source CDs by the various artists. My credit card can't stand it. Really - it can't.

The Deal

A heck of a lot of Americans read this journal.

So this is my last plea. Today, please vote. Its really, really important that you do; I think you all saw last time that every vote (coupled with some really good lawyers) made all the difference.

This time, lets not need to have the lawyers, yes?

I don't expect you to be guided by the opinions of someone who lives 4000 miles away in one of the most stagnant democracies in the world. That would be silly. But please vote for John Kerry, just to give us Brits the simple joy of hearing Tony Blair say "Fuck" when Bush loses if nothing else.

Oh yes, the deal. The deal is this. Hundreds of you read this everyday, and in return I ask for one litte thing. Just that today you make the trek to the polling station; disregard the media frenzy, what Fox TV has told you, what Michael Moore has told you and do the right thing.

Ok. Preaching over. Tonight I shall be describing the levels of wastedness from the eyes of a newcomer to such things. Neither candidate would approve.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Rock

Yes, I stuck it on the wall. Yes, it means the same.

Certificate 18

Converstation with First-born while walking back from Aunt's last night. The backstory: First-born is a huge Sims fan and is currently working her way throught the 'The Sims 2'.

She: "Why do they always go all blocky?"
Me: "Blocky?"
She: "Yes, blocky. You know, when they have a shower or a bath, their bits go all blocky"
Me: "..."
She: "So you can't see all of them"
Me: "Ah, yes, that would be to stop the game having an 18 certificate"
She: "What's that?"
Me: "Well, it means that the game would be for adults only"
She: "Why? Just because the Sims aren't wearing clothes"
Me: "Er, yes"
She: "But its not as if I don't know what those bits look like - we do biology, you know"
Me: (desperately trying to change the subject now) "Its just the way it is, I'm afraid"
She: "Its still silly"
Me: "Yes, I guess it is"
She: "But its one of those things I'll understand when I grow up?"
Me: "No, it probably isn't..."

How do you explain the taboos of society to a 7 year old? Another chapter in the book, I guess...