Monday, January 31, 2005

Something For The Weekend

I should really mention a little more about the weekend, for the sake of posterity.

I stayed in a Club for Gentlemen located on Pall Mall. Its noted for being the place from where Michael Palin set out for his epic trip around the world in 80 days a few years ago. This is because when he returned, having successfully circumnavigated the globe, they wouldn't let him in as he didn't have an invitation. You've got to admire a place that can be quite so bloody minded.

It was also featured in a recent Bond film as the backdrop for scenes where Madonna was doing something with swords. Thankfully, I believe she was fencing rather than the sort of unsavoury thing for which she's normally noted.

Lastly, it has a billiard table that is listed in the Top 100 Places In London To Have Sex.

Very surreal. Not least because I had to wear a suit and tie (although not during the whole 'having sex' thing - that would be just plain weird), which is something I usually reserve for weddings and funerals, and this was neither (although an awful lot of the members looked like they had just returned from their own burials.)

I saw a show. Something called Festen. The link will give you a review written by someone much cleverer than I. It was a fantastic play, beginning as a dark comedy of manners at a family birthday before turning inky black in the second half. If you're in London, I'd highly recommend it.

Finally, there was a bad curry in a very stylish restaurant. My companion chided me for referring to the establishment as a 'curry house'. She was correct, a curry house serves up huge platefuls of mysterious steaming spiced dishes. Usually in elderly oval metal bowls (doubtless liberated from the local hospital) and left on hotplates that are older than me. Unintelligible music with wailing women bounces around the flock-wallpapered environment to create the proper ambience. This place, on the other hand, served up mere mouthfuls of lukewarm food, artfully arranged on new white porcelain. And the music? Something dreadful that was in the popular music charts a few months ago. Tch.

Best call the council and demand a 'missed the point' notice be sent to the offending establishment.

3 Down, 1 To Go

As we approach the mid-way point of the fortnight of hecticity, I feel its time for a review thus far of the Dating Of People I'd Not Met Before (which is a new thing for me.)

The first was clearly a romantic. Looking like a young Geena Davis and with an accent to die for, I'm smitten. I can but hope that she'll one day assent to reading excerpts from Tolstoy to me. Second date? Sometime next week. Assuming I don't fall off a mountain.

The second was seeking committment and looking for a husband. Funny and smart, but also emotionally fragile - the line "of course I understand you'll be dating other people" was delivered in a quavering voice and with a sniffle. I'm not right for her, but need to think of a way of delivering this news without causing too much hurt - sadly, my honesty can be interpreted as bluntness. Perhaps I should attempt a lie and confess to being gay?

The third was the flipside of the first - no romance here. This lady is simply seeking no-strings-attached intimacy and plenty of it. I have no problem with this.

The fourth I have yet to meet. Judging by conversations she is somewhat of a laddette, certainly a laugh, and has managed to secure a late-night drinking hole in a town more noted for tweed bosomed ladies of the women's institute. This will be Tuesday's adventure and one to which I'm looking forward.

Unfortunately, the Nuns did such an effective job on me in my youth that my intrinsic catholic guilt is kicking a bit. As I was talking to The Third, I kept expecting Sister Mary to emerge from the shadows like an absurdly tall crow with a single skeletal finger pointing at me. Puts one off somewhat. Maybe I just need to start drinking again.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

2 Out Of 10

This post is rated R for content. If you found Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction worthy of the huge moral outrage seen in America and of the epic amount of news coverage devoted to it then you should close the browser now and go and watch QVC for a while. You should also consider getting a life.

I peered at the shiny green package that had been presented to me by my partner.

" 'Gives a tingling sensation to enhance stimulation for both partners'," I read doubtfully, "Where did you get these?"
"Boots," replied my companion, "I liked the packaging."

I'm not sure that selecting a protective based on the niceness of the box is necessarily a good thing. The world of the Newly Single is one where safe sex is practised although sadly only at an amatuer level - I've yet to turn professional. I did however recognise the brand and so thought "Why not?"

"How does that feel?" she asked
"Nmm" I said. It appeared that the 'tingling' sensation had been achieved by a liberal coating of mint or menthol. Think what your mouth feels like when you eat a strong mint and then drink a cold drink. Feels very very cold doesn't?

The 'tingling' appeared to actually be the 'pins and needles' sensation one gets upon the onset of numbness. And numbness defeats the object of the, er, activity somewhat.

From her side of the partnership, my companion compared her sensation to that of 'ice jiggling about' (ok, it was a little more graphic than that, but this journal is blocked by so many obscenity filters that I can't risk a verbatim reproduction.)

We left the remainder of the packet for the housekeeper to enjoy.

Anyone in need of a condom reviewer can find the email address in the sidebar.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Minty Condoms

Either the unfortunate name of a maiden aunt or an intriguing brand of protective.

All will be revealed later.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Posting That Will Get Me Fired

Every journal needs the "this post lost me my job" entry.

I love this story.

The space race was at its height. The Americans had embarked on their two-man Gemini missions. The Russians saw this, saw the imminent three-man Apollo mission, and looked glumly at their aging Vostock space-craft. Their own three-man Soyuz was years away (and, in the event, would kill the first man to fly it.)

What to do, to trump the Americans again?

The engineers proceeded to take the old two-man Vostock capsule and strip it down, taking everything out of it and making just enough space to squeeze in 3 couches. The unlucky cosmonauts would be very cramped; there'd certainly be no floating around in orbit. There would also be no space to wear spacesuits, and no space for any kind of escape mechanism. So if anything went wrong, the crew wouldn't stand a chance.

But it would get three men in orbit before the Americans.

The Chief Designer consulted the engineer doing the modifications: "Is it going to work?" he asked
"Of course," replied the engineer, "It will be perfectly safe."
The Designer clapped the engineer on the back, "Thats good," he said, "Because you're going to fly in it..."

The mission was a complete success.

I like this story because I often wonder if my managers would be so keen on pressuring me to take shortcuts if they were patients in the clinical trials my systems run.

(This post is dedicated to the unfortunate occupants of the Space Shuttles Columbia and Challenger. Maybe if the managers who dismissed the safety fears of engineers were told they were to be bundled aboard, things might have turned out differently.)

Thursday, January 27, 2005


"Thats a nice accent. Is it Russian?"

As soon as I'd said it, I knew I'd made a mistake. The temperature of the room dropped several degrees.

"No" said L "Is Latvian"

Her expression implied that I might just as well have suggested her grandfather sticks hamsters up his bottom. Accusing Canadians of having a US accent was a walk in the park compared to this.

L, you see, is Latvian. Something I didn't really pick up until actually talking to her. A mobile phone conversation revealed the thick accent and images of Russian shot-putters swam through my mind. However, L is in actual fact a far better specimen of the female of the species than I am of the male.

She explained: "I do not like handsome men. They think too much of themselves."
I replied "Oh" in a small voice.

And of course, there's the accent. I'm a sucker for English spoken with an accent. I wonder if its too early in the relationship to ask her to tie me to a chair and read poetry to me?

1 down, 3 to go.

(And for the cynics out there, have no fear; my passport is under lock and key)

Fat Fighters Not So Anonymous

In order to cash in on peer-pressure, we are operating a 'fat club' at work. Measuring scales have been purchased and we have a weekly weigh-in.

My vegetarian friend, S (he of the magic muffins), has been not-so-quietly confident. He has religiously been bringing in a small lunchbox containing rice and sundry boiled vegetables. He has also been taking light exercise reglarly.

I, on the other hand, have been raiding the vending machine for chocolate and taking daily exercise in the form of walking to the video shop, selecting a DVD, a large bag of mesquite crisps and a random bag of chocolate from the wide range available. Sometimes I pay a visit to the fish and chip shop when the smell of frying potatoes, salt and vinegar becomes too much to resist. I regard this as additional exercise (the chip shop is another 20 yards on from the video shop) and carrying the additional weight of a greasy bag of chips surely counts as extra circuit training. Right?

Today we had the weekly weigh-in. From a roughly equal starting point, S has managed to shed 0.1kg. I, on the other hand, have dropped 2.2kg.

There's a lesson to be learnt from this. But I'm not sure that the people who make millions out of selling diet books to people who won't read them and running expensive courses in nutrition and healthy lifestyles for those that will smile, nod, and head straight to KFC will want to hear it.

And tonight I have a date, with L. Yes, I am nervous. Especially after recent events. I'll be writing about this later tonight...

(There was one additional thing I neglected to mention about the diet stuff above; I've given up alcohol. S hasn't...)

The Last Word

Ok. Last word on the car.

Driving back just now I noticed that it automatically increases the volume of the CD player as the engine noise increases. How cool is that?

Boys and their toys... and thats the final thing I'm going to say about the car until it gets stolen, vandalised, or the police take it away from me.

Joining The Dark Side

In the past 24 hours I have learned 2 things (3, if you count the discovery that a significant number of women on internet dating sites are a little bit strange. Yes I am going to meet the person - as the old saying goes; "curiosity got the cat laid". Or something like that.)

Thing number 1 was a bit yucky. I learned how to use a nit comb - First-Born's school has suffered an outbreak of head-lice which means nightly checking of the child's hair for the creatures, along with dark mutterings about getting said child's hair cut considerably shorter. First-Born, an embryonic environmentalist, dislikes all this: "But you'll kill them"
Me: "Thats right"
She: "But they haven't done anything to you. Why do you have to kill them?"
Me: "Because they'll make you itch"
She: "Can't you put them in the garden or something?"
Me: "I don't have a garden. And if I did, they wouldn't like it; most gardens aren't noted for their hairyness"
She: (huff) "Well, its still wrong to kill a living creature..."

Luckily I didn't find any.

Did I mention that she's decided to be a vegetarian? Since her diet consists of fruit and cheese sandwiches, this isn't much of a jump. I'm just relieved that the British Government finally banned fox-hunting, otherwise she'd be dragging me along to hunt saboteur meetings in a few years time.

Thing number 2 was the dark side of Cruise Control (the optional extra for automobiles, not the appallingly bad sequel to Speed that even Keanu Reeves bailed out of.) I should explain that is the first time I've owned an automatic car (most cars in the UK tend to be manual shift) so I've been having fun playing with it. The way the needle spins around the speedometer with very little interaction from me (aside from stamping on the go-fast pedal) is very entertaining. In fact, the speed at which the car accelerates without the usual frantic drama is quite breathtaking - if I had a pipe and a pair of slippers, I could almost be in a Jaguar (everyone should drive a fast Jaguar once in their lives; its like sitting on an old Chesterfield sofa in the drawing room of an English stately home, onto which somebody has strapped a couple of Saturn V moon rockets.)

But I digress. Plonking the car on an empty motorway and engaging cruise control at 130mph (210kph) is hugely fun. The problem comes if you forget to turn it off after leaving the motorway. One applies the brakes and proceeds to manually operate the gas as one negotiates the narrow country lanes to one's office. One comes to a straight bit, and one's hand inadvertently brushes the 'Resume' button. Remember what I said about the stealthy way the car accelerates? "Hmmm," I thought, "That next corner seems to be coming up a bit fast", as indeed it might, seeing as the car was now travelling at 90mph and accelerating.

So I got to try out the Anti-lock Braking System, and the Traction Control System all at once. Lucky me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Would You?

Oh this internet dating thing is fun. I've only had the one so far this year, but have a lot more coming up. I wonder how many metaphorical frogs I'll have to kiss?

With luck, lots.

I've been loathe to write about my dating exploits (with the exception of extreme cases such as the circumcision lady.) Going into detail seemed a little disloyal to the people concerned - how would you feel if you came across a journal and recognised yourself in it?

But then again, this is my diary. And I really want to record this for posterity. And (aside from The Ex) I'm generally pretty charitable.

So here's a snippet from a message from someone suggesting a meeting. Copied and pasted directly:

"if we dont fancy each other we be honest and if we do fancy each other i will be expecting sex"

Somebody said to me recently that women who aren't afraid to say what they want frighten men. Now I know what she meant. (And I'm not talking about the typing)

I Eat Kittens. Raw.

Ah, the joys of having one's own motorised transportation. While I admire the Lemon's (she of the sadly departed Lemonade Stand) public spirited committment to non-car-ownership, 4 months of standing on freezing station platforms, squinting at frankly bizarre bus timetables and taking lifts from friends who regard the A24 as their own personal drag strip has dulled my ambitions to save the world through reducing my consumption of fossil fuels.

And I miss my old Scirocco. I mean, I tried to recreate the old "will it or won't it?" uncertainty that I got everytime I tried to start it by trying to catch trains that run to a timetable designed with that particular British brand of incompetence. But it wasn't the same.

So now I have a Golf. And as one might expect, I already have some observations. The first is to do with the instrumentation. This car has a miles-per-gallon measurement. Why? If I cared in the slightest about the fuel economy of the vehicle, I wouldn't have gone for the one that dumps so much power down on the road that the wheels spin whenever I stomp on the go pedal. If I'd cared, I would have bought the sensible diesel and caressed the gas pedal rather than mash it into the floor at every opportunity. If I ever find myself sitting in a pub and saying something like "Oh yes, if I maintain a steady 55mph in the top gear, I can get over 70 miles per gallon, you know" I need to be shot. In fact, I shall this very day pen a living will to that effect.

No, the only benefit of this gauge is so I can laugh my head off as it drops into single figures while the car ricochets down empty country roads. Forget miles per gallon - a little light to indicate that my rabid abuse of the environment has caused God to kill another fluffy kitten would be much better.

I'm sure I'll get bored of it soon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Welcome To The World Of Wheels

"What" I said, gesturing to the alien object, "Is THAT?"
"Its a sticker, sir" replied the salesman
"I can see that," I replied acidly, "Why is it stuck to my car?"
"Because you bought the car from us, sir?"
"I don't want that on my car"
"But its part of the valeting service, sir..."

I leaned forward, braving the breath of a man who had clearly not seen a toothbrush, let alone opened a bottle of listerine, for many years. I suspect he regarded floss as something a favourite sheep might be called or perhaps a reference to a George Eliot book.

"I did not ask for one of your stickers. I do not want one of your stickers. I want my windows to be clear of clutter and empty of extraneous articles. If I wanted to cover my car with pointless stickers, I would wear a burberry cap, cover myself with cheap gold-coloured jewellery that turns green in the rain and get some badly spelt tattoos - or better still, tattoos of symbols that purport to mean spiritual things, but actually spell 'arsehole' in a variety of eastern alphabets. I would fit a polished baked-bean can on the exhaust and punch some holes in the silencer for effect. I might even put some black plastic sheets on the windows to simulate tinting.

"However, since I've demonstrably not done any of these things you can be fairly sure I don't want your sticker on my car. So unless you're going to pay me for the advertising placement - shall we say £1000 a year? - take the sticker off. Now."

It hardly makes any difference. If my car survives the week parked outside my house I'll be surprised.

Sign Here, Please

Ever heard the phrase "signing your life away"?

I did that just now.

For the past 14 years I'd been making my way up the property ladder with The Ex. Pensions, insurances and a succession of progressively larger houses until we reached the nirvana of detached, 4 bedroomed splendour. Material goods such as automobiles followed a similar path; first a battered old Vauxhall Nova, then a new Fiat and finally a brand new Mercedes. Indeed, at this time last year, the Newly garage consisted of said Merc, a 40 year old Triumph convertible that I'd just finished restoring and the Scirocco.

And in just 10 months I've managed to dismantle all of that. The final piece of the structure was taken away just now when I signed the transfer deeds, giving The Ex ownership of the marital home. The only thing I have to show for my old life is First-Born, and even there I'm aware that I'm becoming a progressively smaller part of her life as time goes by.

So with the signing of the deed, I have quite literally signed away a life. Aside from a lump of cash, there is nothing left.

I wonder what happens next.


My schedule for the next two weeks:

25/Jan - Collect shiny new car
26/Jan - ask physio out for a date
27/Jan - first date with L
28/Jan - adventures in London with A
29/Jan - continuing adventures in London with A
30/Jan - first date with J
31/Jan -
01/Feb - first date with B
02/Feb - preparing for skiing
03/Feb - in transit
04/Feb - skiing in France
05/Feb - skiing in France
06/Feb - skiing in France
07/Feb - skiing in France
08/Feb - in transit

The Bear is quite jealous because I've barred her from coming on first dates since she might give the wrong impression (she's a very friendly bear, but a bit of an extrovert.) She's also barred from the London trip as I'm staying somewhere that would frown upon such frivolity - somewhere where I have to wear a suit and tie. Hopefully I'll be allowed to remove them before bed.

So the first outting for The Bear will be to meet the French while I fall over in the snow.

I appear to be a busy boy...

Monday, January 24, 2005

32 Going On 8

As I regress towards infancy, my childishness knows no bounds.

Before the movie we went for a meal at Wagamamas (Japanese food served in an environment not in keeping with the cost of the menu. And it isn't a discrepancy in favour of the diners.) A large bowl of chilli beef ramen would ensure that I wouldn't be disturbed in the theatre by members of the great unwashed attempting to sit next to me. And if anyone dared to try, their occupation of the seat would be short-lived.

The meal was a little unusual. I like my steak rare, but prefer my chicken well-done. It seems that as well as raw fish, the Japanese go in for raw chicken too. At least thats how the inaccurately named appetisers came. A companion grabbed a lump of chicken and chewed with an increasingly pained expression on his face. "Tastes a bit odd" he said. I took a bite, and promptly spat it out again. The last time I saw cooked chicken bleed was at a family barbecue ("Crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle!" "If you say so, Uncle")

It appeared that they were breaking in a new chef who, judging by what we could see of the kitchen area, was adept at creating impressive fireballs, but less so at preparing chicken. The manageress apologised profusely (doubtless fearing a visit from Health And Safety) and naturally the meal was free. Equally naturally, we ordered more drinks. Imminent food poisoning is nothing compared to free drinks.

And it was then that the idea was had. We had no idea who the manageress actually was. All that had happened was a smartly dressed woman had appeared and said there would be no charge. What, we wondered, was stopping us performing a similar service for other diners? It would be like setting a time-bomb. Pick a table, appear and apologise for something and then say the meal is on the house. Then retire outside and wait for the fireworks when the unfortunate diners attempt to leave with the distressingly pierced waitress thundering after them in hot pursuit.

Like I said, my childishness knows no bounds. Although the waitress could probably have used the exercise.

No, we didn't do it. However, next weekend I will be in London. In a smart suit.

Basingstoke, Fuck Yeah

Team America (World Police) is perhaps the perfect movie for an English audience. Principally for the opening scene that features a bunch of gung-ho Americans blowing the heck out of Paris by mistake. Its rare that I hear an entire theatre laughing - the only other time was all the way through Armageddon; but I don't think the humour was intentional in that particular crime against celluloid.

Since the following day was a First-Born day, I had to get the movie's theme tune ("America, Fuck Yeah!") out of my system by singing it en-route to the car. Substituting the word "America" for "Basingstoke" (the town in which I was staying) didn't help with the stickiness of the song, but made us giggle like cheeky monkeys.

I should explain; Basingstoke is one of those tremendously dull 'new' towns. It has a new indoor shopping centre that takes the word 'bland' to a whole new level - just walking through it can drain a person of their life-force. Additionally, it is famous for two things: The first is that if you travel west you have to go as far as New York before you'll find a taller building. The other is that the town has been immortalised in a joke involving the Queen, foxes and a really bad pun.

Basingstoke is also the home of a good chum, who's hospitality (and impressive audio-visual set-up) I've been known to abuse on many occasions. This time was a little different; generally I've made my way through a veritable tower of beer cans by the end of the evening. This time I was on the wagon. I was intrigued to see if my ability to talk utter tosh would be impaired.

The speculation that the reason why the hobbits kept changing size in the Lord Of The Rings was due to hobbits being made of erectile tissue proved that this wasn't the case. "Givvus a rub, Master Frodo, so oi can reach the cookie jar." It explains the hairy hands and feet too...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Relaxation Therapy, British Rail-style

I like a sense of mystery.

This is why I enjoy rail travel and plunging myself into the labyrinthine maze of timetables and schedules

For example, according to the internet the train I'm now on should arrive at a given time. The printed timetable at the station begged to differ, and I'm coming to realise that the train has its own ideas about what constitutes 'on time'

So I have to just sit back, relax and let fate deposit me where and when it sees fit.

You couldn't pay for therapy this good.

Strange People On A Train

The pale and gaunt young man sat opposite me on the train, coughing every now and then and sniffing nervously.

The book he was reading was an elderly copy of the Odyssey. As he stood to depart, I saw the binding had given way and the last half of the book was still resting on the seat.

"Don't you want to know what happens in the end?" I said, gesturing towards the brittle and yellowed paper.

"No. I've dreamt the end already. Keep it"

I going to miss these little moments of surreality when my car arrives on Tuesday.

So what am I going do with the last half of the Odyssey?

Saturday, January 22, 2005


The Ex arrived to collect First-Born this morning. Last night was a First-Born night and the morning had been somewhat fraught - I'm kind of looking forward to the day when the child will skip happily into the bathroom rather than needing to be dragged to the Place Of Hairwashing with her fingernails carving grooves into the floor that I'll have trouble explaining to the landlady.

Of course, when that joyous day comes I've no doubt it'll be accompanied by unsuitable boys and a desire to tattoo the current beau's name on a sensitive part of her anatomy. Gosh, the teenage years will be fun. I'll have to get myself a flat with two bathrooms.

But I digress. The Ex looked at me appraisingly: "You've lost weight. How have you managed that? Are you trying to impress someone?"
"No. I've just given up beer again. And I eat salads." I toyed with idea of telling her about the circumcision lady, and thought better of it.
She sighed: "I wish I could lose a few pounds. I couldn't fit into the old wedding dress"

It took a moment for that little nugget in information to sink in.

"You're going to wear the dress you wore to our wedding? Next month? With The Boyfriend?"
"Well, I would, but the back won't fasten. New ones are really expensive."

I looked around. First-Born was downstairs, cleaning her teeth. I spoke quietly.

"Get out of my house. Right now. Take these bags and wait outside. Just get out of my sight."
She looked confused: "What? What?"
"If you can't work it out for yourself then ask The Boyfriend. And if you want to lose weight, I'd suggest cutting out the daily bottle of wine and getting so drunk you don't care what you eat."

Ordinarily I would have simply have kept those thoughts to myself. But you see, I learned something from circumcision lady (aside from her preferences) and this is that its sometimes best to say what you think. For The Ex, I think, it was like being savaged by a sheep.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. Me, I'm out tonight with friends. Seeing 'Team America' followed by a big bowl of chilli ramen in a Japanese eatery.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ice, Ice Baby

2005/2006 New Year is now in the throes of planning. I had originally thought of Australia; spending new year trying, and failing, to learn how to surf seemed a great idea.

But yesterday I had a better idea.

This year, I shall attempt to spend New Years Eve in the Ice Hotel

It seems a noble, if slightly surreal mission. Although Bondage Bear isn't really dressed for it.

And I've been wanting to show First-Born what snow looks like for years.

Hiding in New York is also off the radar - yesterday a friend called to find out if I was interested in skiing in the first weekend on February. I thought about it for roughly a tenth of a second before saying "Yes", this means there'll be a comparison of Whistler and France in a couple of weeks. The Bear is excited too.

So instead of the US, I plan to spend the 3 days in Amsterdam where I'll be unable to answer the phone for, er, a variety of good reasons.

Why Miss Smith, You're Beautiful

This is a rumour. It may not be true.

Our corporate masters (and their legendary sense of fun - no, there was no office christmas party last year. I suspect it was because of a stand-off between the UK management and the US management over the strict 'no-alcohol' policy at all social events) have introduced a new rule. As yet, its only been our European cousins who have been afflicted by it, but I gather its to be introduced world-wide.

The rule is this: "A male and a female employee may not go to lunch off-site alone together unless they are married"

I hear that Sven (remember Sven?) piped up with "But vaaht if ze man is homosexual? Not zat I am homosexual. I am not. I just vahnt to know..."

Sven, I am sad to say, is still in denial.

I can only speculate as to the true meaning of this new rule. Is it an attempt to bolster the "No bonking colleagues" rule? (or as a friend delicately put it recently: "poking the payroll". Charming girl. I may have to marry her.) Our lunchbreak is only 45 minutes, and short of parking the car around the corner from the office and steaming up the windows, fornication is going to be tricky.

Still, nice to know that in some small way, management in their ivory tower over in the US are trying to do their bit to preserve the sanctity of marriage here in Europe. Thanks guys.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Er, Um, Gosh, Ah, Er, Um

Tonight was an evening of great excitement. Following the physio I had a date. Not, alas, with the physio, but the first from a new internet dating agency I'd joined.

Sadly, it was not to be. The lady in question had suggested a pizza. I prefer a simple drink or similar on a first date in order to give either myself or my date an opportunity for an early escape if all is not going well. But she wanted pizza. So pizza it was.

If the waiter hadn't directed me, I wouldn't have recognised her. I suspect the photo she'd put on the site was, perhaps, a little out of date. By about 15 years and 50 pounds.

That said, we did get on like a house on fire and I began to think that perhaps I might simply make a new friend rather than anything else. Up until the she looked up from her pizza, stared me in the eye, and the following conversation ensued:

She: "Are you circumcised?"
Me: (splutter) "What?"
She: "Circumcised. Are you?"
Me: (still off balance) "Why on earth do you want to know that?"
She: "I only have sex with circumcised men. Better hygiene and once you've had one, you never look back..."

I stared at the slices of ham and pepperoni on my pizza. My appetite had vanished. She continued dreamily: "Its so much more pronounced..."

My silence continued. So she filled the space: " if we're going to go back to your place tonight, I wanted to check first. To avoid embarrassment later on."

Embarrassment LATER on? I felt sorry for the diners surrounding us who'd been privvy to this conversation.

She leaned forward and said in a low voice: "I like you. So are you?"

I dodged the question, muttered something about an early start in the morning and conversation moved on. As soon as I deemed it polite, I paid the bill and left. And now I'm back home, a little earlier than planned, but thankfully alone.

Another box ticked on the great questionnaire of life, I think.

Minimise Me

So Apple have launched a new toy. A titchy tiny computer with a deceptively low price (deceptive because you've got to add on your own keyboard and monitor, and even the most die-hard mac-afficiado would have to admit that the base specification is pretty poor.)

I don't know a lot about Apple Macs. In the UK they're very much a luxury item; Apple's pricing policy appears to be to translate dollar directly to sterling. Thus they're pretty expensive, usually two to three times as much as a fully loaded Dell.

However, I really like the idea of this thing. Its just cheap enough for normal people to afford without feeling too ripped off. And with luck, the iPod generation will consider it an add-on for their beloved, and fragile, music player.

I shall be recommending it to friends and family.

Why? Because its famously easy to use, looks stylish and (most importantly) I know NOTHING about how it works. So when the inevitable technical support calls start coming in I can say "Dunno" and give my best impression of a gallic shrug, complete with "pffff" sound. I've been practising. Impressed?

This, my friends, is why Apple's baby computer is going to be a roaring success. Not because its any better than an equivalent Windows PC. Not because its cheap or will look great on your IKEA bookcase. No, its because techs like me will see it as our salvation from never-ending calls for help from friends and families and recommend it enthusiastically.


Constipated? Been unable to pay a satisfying visit to the porcelain throne for a few days?

Your answer is at hand!

Vists the (company I work for) staff canteen! Within 30 minutes of consuming one of their fine sandwiches your problems will be solved! And as a special bonus, any lost faith in the christian religion will be restored because as you grip the toilet seat with both hands you'll find yourself shouting out loud to Jesus, and praying that your lower instestine remains inside your body.

Why spend money on expensive medicines when the answer to your prayers can be found between two slices of stale bread and some rancid butter?

Next week: Weight-loss made easy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Three Meaningless Words

So, Condoleezza Rice, impending secretary of state for the US and person whose name sounds like something I'd buy in a supermarket, has come up with another 3 word phrase to describe countries that she and GW don't like. Doubtless Tony Blair will shortly be along to agree like the cute little nodding dog he is.

"Outposts of Tyranny"

I'm trying to work out if its an improvement over "Axis of Evil" or not.

They really need to publish a glossary of terms:

"Axis of Evil" - countries we don't like that have oil or an oil pipeline and so are in need of liberation.
"Outposts of Tyranny" - countries we don't like that *don't* have oil or an oil pipeline about which we will wring our hands for a few minutes before changing channels on the television.
"Allies" - countries we do like, but whose citizens we will subject to gruelling 3 hour immigration sessions at our airports with finger-printing, iris scanning and something invasive involving a metal rod that Dick Cheney came up with while watching a short movie he downloaded from that interweb thingy.
"Everybody Else" - Fuck 'em. Unless they got hit by a big wave, in which case we'll promise lots of aid, but never actually deliver it (relying on the public to either make the donations themselves or get bored and change channels on the television.)

A somewhat cynical and simplistic interpretation of US and UK policy, I know. I'm just so tired of the posturing and the sound-bites.

I'm going to start a campaign for electoral reform, in the UK at least. In the next General Election (imminent) I want to see an additional line on the ballot card: "None Of The Above". So I can choose to say "I don't like any of you. In fact, some of you I suspect of having carnal relations with puppies" rather than simply not vote at all. And if "None Of The Above" wins the election, then it has to be run again with different people.

I'm not quite sure what brought all this on. I've overdosed on sound-bites...

Running Away

On February 16 (less than a month away) The Ex is marrying The Boyfriend.

Poor guy.

Discussions with First-Born and recent conversations with The Ex have shown the driving force behind this to be more situationally driven than romantically. Their workplace does not approve of co-habitation and its easier for them to marry than find new work. And of course, the whole adultery thing goes against one of the big ten rules they have there.

I had planned to show up. Either with a cute girl on my arm, or to shout "SLUT" drunkenly at various points in the proceedings in a passable impersonation of Father Jack, and then spending a happy few hours at the reception telling her family exactly what I think of them.

However, I gather that The Ex is having second thoughts, and fearful of another tearful phonecall or "can we start again?" visitation, I've decided to get out of the country for a few days over the period of the wedding. Europe is too close, so I'm looking to the east coast of the US or Canada (far away enough to be incommunicado, but not horribly far in terms of transit time.) New York might be fun; I haven't been there for years.

Some might see this as running away. I see it as taking a sensible precaution. I need her to get married, because at that point (excepting First-Born) it really is Over. Both legally and emotionally.

So... three days in New York. Where to go and what to do I wonder...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

One Born Every Minute

"So this is the car?" I enquired.
"Indeed" replied the salesman.

I tore my eyes away from the man's teeth. I know good dentistry doesn't come cheap, but surely the chap could have afforded a toothbrush in his youth. Maybe the bad teeth thing was a ploy to avoid negotiation; "Don't haggle, sir. I have dental bills to pay..."

But I digress. I had, of course, been 'suckered'. My original noble intention had been to purchase a worthy, but dull automobile. Something easy to drive, economical and comfortable. Over the weekend I'd taken lots of test drives and been bored nearly to tears.

At the end of yesterday's round of test-driving cars that had all the fun of a house brick, this particular salesman had sensed my lethargy and said: "Well, sir. We do have this. It came in just this week as a part exchange for a new GTI. It isn't diesel and is a little over your budget, but maybe you might like to take it for a spin?"

He grinned that awful smile, teeth like rotting gravestones in a desolate churchyard, and I looked at the car. Or anything to avoid looking at him.

Oh dear.

It was the performance model. Sufficiently understated (I don't go in for bodykits, I like fast cars to look as 'normal' as possible. On the outside, at least.) So I had to have a drive. I mean, it wasn't as if I was going to buy it. Much too expensive. I was going to buy the boring version. No, really, I was. I could handle it. I could give it back anytime I wanted. Honest.

Oh dear.

For The Woman Who Has Everything...

Sunday was The Ex's birthday. For those who are interested, she's now 41 (and looks much older - the last 12 months have not been kind. Possibly this was one of the reasons why she selected a blind man to be partner-for-life and swapped out yours truly. Bitter? Moi?)

I got a call from The Boyfriend on Friday night - could I help First-Born select a suitable birthday present and card for The Ex? Naturally, and in my usual amicable way, I agreed.

Oh, the opportunity for naughtiness. One particular mischief-maker suggested that First-Born ought to give The Ex a card saying "Your present is in the same place as my christmas stocking from Santa" which, while appealing, felt like I'd be using First-Born to get at The Ex.

It didn't stop me speculating on suitable gifts. An Alcoholics Anonymous gift pack, maybe. Perhaps a tub of lard. Or a cheeky little weekend for two at the Baghdad Holiday Inn.

First-Born, as ever, trumped me. I suggested getting some beauty products or similar. She shook her head and selected a cheap pair of scratchy brown socks, because: "She's always moaning that her feet are cold."

Thats my girl.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Party Girl

Jo is my new neighbour. Well, when I say 'neighbour' I mean 'person who lives on the other side of the alley'. The only buildings directly connected to mine are a lingerie shop and jewellers. Pretty much ideal for a man on his way home from work: "Hello dear, I bought you this huge diamond. Now, would you mind wearing *this* outfit tonight?"

But back to Jo. I met her this weekend while clearing up the detritus from Friday's curry-and-bad-DVD night. She was in the process of sticking a neatly handwritten note through my door apologising in advance for her housewarming party. "Hi!" she said, "Do you live here?"

It would seem that the sight of me in marigold gloves, clutching a dish cloth and an oddly shaped Belgian beer glass was not evidence enough. Maybe she thought I was a cleaner. Am I really that old and wrinkled?

"I'm having a housewarming party," she continued, "Would you like to come?" She leaned forward conspiratorially, "Most of the people around here seem really old, so I haven't asked them. Just warning them about the noise."

Gratified about not being included in the "really old" collective, I had to regretfully decline. First-Born was staying over that night and I'd rather spend time with her than with a group of drunken girls (my 18 year-old self gave me a slapping about that statement later on, but thats another story.)

By the sounds of things it was a good party. First-Born, who despite her protestations could sleep through the passing of a marching band, didn't hear it. I did. It began to wind down at about 5am, and I'm pretty sure someone was violently sick outside my bedroom window. I haven't dared check yet. There were no signs of life at all on Sunday.

I am hopeful of an invitation for the next party. I can perhaps introduce them to the delights of Strip Rocky Horror (although judging by some of the noises heard at around 3am, that may be a bit too tame for them...)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Loving The Single Life

There are some things that I love about the single life. One of these is that I have spent this afternoon doing absolutely nothing. First-Born stayed last night and was whisked away by The Ex this morning.

So I picked up a book and over the course of the afternoon and evening I read. I put on some light reggae in the background, hopeful that that bass would do bad things to the hangovers of my neighbours (more on that later), sprawled on the sofa and read until it was too dark to see the writing and I had to put on a light.


Oh, and I also managed to eat an entire jar of pickled onions. This, and a couple of oranges, constitute my entire food intake for the day. This is one of the benefits of sleeping alone.

Before I retire for the evening, I'd like to draw your attention to the picture below. It is of the Renault Megane.

Renault have spent a not inconsiderable amount of money on an advert for this vehicle that has been playing in cinemas, on television, anywhere. It features a song, the lyrics of which are "I see you baby, shakin' that ass" along with film snippets of pert bottoms gyrating in time to the music.

Now. Look at the picture of that car again. What is the oddest thing about it? Could it be the bizarrely shaped back of the thing? Or, as a friend delicately put it, "Man, that car has a fat arse..." It is surely the one aspect that one would wish *not* to draw attention to. Although it does at least prove the French have a sense of humour.

The Naked Truth

Its a sign of our advancing years that rather than discuss women, cars or a combination of the two, my colleagues and I sat in the pub after work talking about grocery shopping. My 18 year-old self would horrified.

The majority of us appear to shop with Tesco, a few cling loyally to Sainsbury's and then there was me. Waitrose man.

"Ooooo" went the collective. Camply. "You shop in the posh store."
"Indeed," I replied, "And I don't even enter the store. I have it delivered..."

Cue collective gasp. And justifiably so; I live 30 seconds walk from the store - a fact that always makes the delivery-man chortle as he struggles up the steps with the week's shopped.

"You idle bastard!" uttered one individual, "You live next door..."

"I do," I said, steepling my fingers and preparing what is know as the 'slam dunk' - "But by ordering over the internet, I get that hour of my life back. Sometimes..." I leaned forward conspiratorially, "...sometimes I even do it naked. Just because I can."

We all laughed at the concept of naked shopping. Aside from the guy who'd bought me the Bondage Bears - he just looked thoughtful.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Intrigued, I Am

So I signed up with an internet dating agency. At the very least it'll provide some journal-worthy stories. Surprisingly (compared to my last flirtation with the world of on-line dating) there has been quite a number of interested emails (although not a patch on the onslaught that occurred after the whole Yassar Arafat thing - but that was perhaps a different type of interest)

While most generally consist of "I like films, eating out and blinking - what do you like?" one appeared today that simply said:

"you look sexy are you"

No punctuation. That was it. I'm intrigued; is the individual saying my appearance is pleasing and querying if this is genuinely the case? Or could I be about to take Yoda out on a date?

Sadly I'm unlikely to know. Anyone who uploads a photo and then actually writes in their "Why I'm great" section: "Yeah - that photo isn't really of me" is probably a) a nutcase or b) a man in drag. Or both.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Oh Heck

Its happened.

The Ex and The Boyfriend have paid up. Ok, its six months late. Ok, its three quarters of what it should be. But sometime next week I'll be getting a call from my bank complaining about a suspicious transaction and hearing some dark comments about money laundering.

Of course, this means I actually have to start making some sort of decision about what I'm going to do with it. Of course, while it may seem a huge amount (to me anyway) in the UK it would barely buy a 1 bedroom mobile home in the area where I live (near First-Born) so being rational would lumber with a huge mortgage.

So. Pop quiz. You have, er, enough to buy a top-spec Porsche or a nearly new Ferrari. But you're living in a tiny flat behind a shop. What do you actually do with it?

(My original plan for tomorrow, car shopping, is now on hold due to the fact that I might do something very, very silly...)

How's My Performance? Did The Earth Move For You?

(warning - work related rant. Apologies in advance to efficient, hardworking and dedicated Human Resources staff. Please come and work for my company.)

Oh joy, its appraisal time. Part of the joy of American corporate ownership is that I find myself subject to the whims of the entirely pointless department known as Human Resources.

Ok, not entirely pointless. They hire staff and organise training. Oh, wait a minute; I had to hire and fire staff myself and sort out my own training and that of the people working for me. HR were too busy. So what exactly is it that this department does?

Demand appraisal forms, thats what. Where before an appraisal was generally an informal, ongoing thing where the boss would stop by every now and then and say "You're utterly rubbish, Newly, why did I ever hire you?" now there's a form that needs to be completed, replete with touchy-feely questions such as

"How do you feel you've performed?" (answer: "Bloody fantastic. I'm great, me.")
"Where are your weaknesses?" (answer: "Weaknesses? What weaknesses? See answer number 1.")
"Would you like us to order softer toilet tissue?"

Ok, so I made the last one up.

And the worst thing is the title: "Performance Roadmap For Success". For goodness sake - its a one page questionnaire. The odds are that the title came from a mission statement rejected for being too short and lacking the word "empowerment"

The worst thing is that aside from the odd trough, I genuinely enjoy much of what I do and I am really good at it - I learnt this week that my job is changing this year into something very exciting. I particularly enjoy working for my boss. But the barriers and paperwork thrown up by this particular department make me weary.

The boss and I have concluded that I'll do two forms. One that we'll actually discuss, and then something suitably bland and HR-friendly that I'll sign. The one that has:

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
Mostly working from a chalet near a mountain that is stunning in summer and skiiable in winter (note: France has had the worst snow for the last 30 years this year – possible relocation to US or Canada)
Stand-in for any male Hollywood star during those embarrassing-to-film sex scenes with pouting starlets (that a word for an actress, not the badly built Japanese car of the 80s and early 90s)

Won't be submitted. Unless my boss decides to play a really nasty trick on me...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Any Other Business

Tonight there will be fiddling with the site. Links to be deleted, links to be added. Things to be adjusted.

Thus the usual spewing of bile and bitterness will be suspended until the morning. Until then, and because this is a posting about the journal itself, let me share some of the search terms that have found my little puddle of gloom. Rather than the usual somewhat lascivious terms, I thought I'd select some of the sweeter ones:

"Rotating sparkly cowboy hat"

When you find this, my friend, let me know. I know a little girl who would probably keep her room tidy for at least 24 hours in return of one of these. Especially if its pink.

"Stewardess Tamara"

It would seem that T of T And A has ditched the world of media for the world of aviation, or so this Googler appears to think. Sadly, she can't be found here unless she wants to be Guest Blogger for a day. Sorry.

"Location of the batcave"

It would seem that my secret identity has been revealed. Or there's a web-cam in my bedroom. But lets not go there, shall we?

Happy Thursday.

Pop Quiz

You have left the lights of your car on. The battery is flat (as well it might be, this car being an MG Rover, built by monkeys in Birmingham. Those of you thinking of buying a BMW Mini, consider this; the same monkeys build those near Oxford with the same legendary quality and attention to detail. Not.)

What do you do?

You bump start it. You push, and get a friend to dump the clutch once the car is up to speed.

Which friend do you choose? Out of everyone, do you choose the one guy who hasn't driven a car in 5 months and has whinged piteously about being banned from driving due to a dinged back and a right leg that no longer works properly?

Of course you do.

So don't complain when, after you've pushed the car to the necessary velocity, this individual dumps the clutch as instructed but then accidentally hits the gas instead of the brake and puts your car into the bushes, leaving you face down on the tarmac.

Stuff happens ok?

Oh, and I'm very, very sorry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A Happy Memory

Over at the house of Sundae, happy memories of Ex's are being replayed. I'm still waiting for mine to surface (probably in the same fashion as a turd popping up in a swimming pool.)

So far, the closest I've got is something that happened this time last year. I was on my way to grab some groceries and noted that The Ex had let the car run bit low (I cycled to work, and so didn't use the car much) - so low in fact that it clunked to a halt with the petrol station twinkling in the distance.

A car pulled up alongside me. It was an elderly Vauxhall Nova - the sort of car my grandmother used to own. The owner had strapped what looked like a shiny bean can to the exhaust, stuck black plastic on the inside of the windows and fitted wheels so large that there was distinct smell of burnt of rubber from where the tyres were scraping the bodywork. And strip lighting under the car showed the rust up a treat.

The window jerked arthritically down. Revealing both the source of the thumping sound (a stereo that was all bass and no trousers) and the pimply face of the baseball capped driver.

I waited for the torrent of abuse or mockery, as I sat in the dead Mercedes.

"Wanna hand, mate?"

And he, and his companion, pushed me and my stricken car the rest of the way to the petrol station.

Which is why last year's resolution was Never Judge By Appearance.

And that is my current happiest Ex-related memory, or at least the one that makes me smile. From the time she let the car run out of fuel. Sigh.

Angry Rant

I don't watch a lot of broadcast TV. I watch films. I listen to radio. I read books. However, last night I did turn on the idiot box; there was something I wanted to watch. A friend had been involved in the making of a documentary, and loyal chap that I am I duly sat down to see what he'd done. Or at least to whom he'd been serving coffee (or whatever the heck it actually is he does)

It was a BBC documentary about the construction of Auschwitz.

By the end of it I felt physically sick. And this was only part 1.

The nausea was accompanied by a deep and irrational rage. Not at the horror committed 60 years ago, but at the fact that not enough people would have seen this programme. Most people would have watched an abomination called "Celebrity Big Brother" on the other channel and be talking about Z-list celebrities desperately trying to breath life into dead careers.

Using the blandness spewing from their televisions as a shield against the ghastliness of the world.

Sometimes I want to stand in the street and shout WAKE UP.

Rant over.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Imaginary Friends

The check-out girl and I peered at my haul. One grapefruit. A tin of tomatoes. A packet of dried basil.

The tomatoes went over the scanner.

"Eating for one, eh sir?" she said.

Then the basil.

"Still, at least you didn't buy one of those meals for two..." she continued.

She attempted to scan the grapefruit. Mother nature is yet to be thoughtful enough to provide fruit with a barcode, and there were a disturbing amount of attempts to swipe the yellow sphere over the scanner before the girl realised she'd have to consult her big-book-o-codes.

" always see the single guys getting those, pretending they've got company"

She keyed in the price of my breakfast.

"And as for those who religiously buy a packet of condoms every week..." she snorted. Fortunately it was time to pay and the monologue was interrupted. I wondered if putting the word "religious" in the same sentence as "condom" would result in a lightning bolt from Rome. I paid the money, relieved that my purchases didn't include any rubberware.

In actual fact, the check-out girl had said nothing. I gave her an extra hard stare anyway, just in case she'd been thinking it, collected my change and stalked out into the rain.

More Than My Job's Worth, Guv

I called the tax office today. They'd written me a letter demanding money with thinly veiled threats. Adorable puppies would be drowned, fluffy kittens thrown to hungry wolves. That kind of thing.

Being highy efficient about such things (or, more honestly, as a way of avoiding doing some proper work) I'd dealt with all this months ago and so called the helpline. Judging by her voice, a lady of advanced years answered the phone. Although she said her name was Julia, to me she was instantly and forever Ms. Jobsworth.

"Hi," I began, "I've got this letter saying I owed money to the Inland Revenue"
She: "Yes?"
Me: "Well, I dealt with all this months ago. I don't know why I have this new letter"
She (deep sigh): "The computer wouldn't have sent you a letter if it wasn't necessary"
Me: "But I don't know why. Can you check if you received my last tax return?"
She: "If we had received the return you wouldn't have got the letter. The computer doesn't make mistakes"
Me: "Could you check? Please?"
She: "I said the computer doesn't make mistakes, sir"
Me: "Please?"
She (another deep sigh, finished with a 'tch'): "I'll check. What is your reference number?"

I gave her the number.

Time passed.

She: "Er. The system appears to be down at the moment. I can't open your file"
Me: "This would be the computer that doesn't make mistakes, yes?"
She: "...yes..."

My life is so tragically small that I live for moments like this.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Artist In Me Died Long Ago

I stood on the station platform, dodging droplets of water and looking for the train. A novel wheeze of the train companies is to show the time when the next train is due on the displays but avoid showing the current time. Gives the whole 'waiting for the train' thing a sense of mystery I guess. Or its just sheer bloody-mindedness. One of the two.

Accompanying me on the platform were 24 cans of dog food, still in their shrink-wrap packaging. Somebody had clearly forgotten about them.

If I were an artist I might have seen this as symbolic. Perhaps constructed an installation around it. Maybe named it something clever and metaphorical.

I'm not. All I thought was that some dog is going to be hungry tonight and some person is going to be in the dog house. Figuratively and possibly physically.

I also acted on one of my resolutions tonight and asked the physio out.

"Are you asking me out on a date?" she smiled, one eyebrow raised
"Um. Yes. Could be." I stammered
She leaned a little closer and whispered "I only date men my age, I think you might be a little old for me..."
Externally I smiled ruefully: "Oh well, maybe another time."
Internally... crushed.

Chariots Of Fire

Tonight I see the physio for what she cheerily described as a 'damage assessment' following the skiing trip. Tediously, I actually feel very good after hitting the mountain - maybe all that motion has actually helped rather than hindered the healing process. Or maybe this is the calm before the storm.

Either way, I also intend to get my driving licence back on the basis that if my leg works well enough to push me off the top of a mountain, it'll certainly be sufficient to grind the accelerator pedal of a car into the floor.

If the physio gives me the green light to start driving, I'll have the joy of selecting a new car. My colleagues at work have rather unkindly suggested that this would be an appropriate mode of transport.

A three wheeled, plastic invalid car. Actually, it rather appeals to me. I can remember seeing lots of these sky-blue chariots of fire rumbling around the streets and with a little bit of 'bling' it could be rendered very 'street', as I believe young people say these days.

I like to keep it 'real', you see.

Sadly, on further investigation is appears that these wonderful vehicles have recently been banned from the road. In fact, reading in more detail, it seems that it is actually illegal to own one. The mind boggles. I can understand how it could be illegal to own a missile launcher, but a 3 wheeled plastic invalid carriage? Seems a little extreme. Unless... these aren't what they appear. Could they actually be concealed weapons? Folding out to reveal a launcher capable of dispensing death within 45 minutes rather than an elderly lady who smells faintly of wee and insists she knew Winston Churchill?

Maybe these are the mythical Iraqi WMDs (Women with Massive Diapers.) Is it a coincidence that they disappeared from Britain's roads at the same time the Iraq war kicked off? Perhaps Saddam Hussein has them stockpiled somewhere... the inva-cars. Not the old ladies.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Home Again Home Again

I stalked the aisles of my local foodstore, looking at my fellow shoppers while I collected the ingredients for my evening feast.

"These people don't know about me," I thought to myself, "They don't know that yesterday I went wading into the sea from a snow covered beach. They don't know that I skiied down a mountain the day before. Heck, they don't know even know that a couple of nights ago I participated in a Rocky Horror strip party."

The thought amused me as I poked at the vegetables in search of an amusingly shaped carrot or potato that I could sell to one of the lower-end tabloids. It also distracted me from the memory of the final leg of the journey home.

Here's a phrase you never, ever want to hear at the gate (well, aside from "your pilot today is Captain Bin Laden"): "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry to announce that the flight will be delayed for two hours due to severe weather at the destination airport and... er... hold on... ah, the Captain thinks he'll be able to fly through it ok, so we'll start boarding. Business first, please"

Yes, the last leg from Frankfurt was a little choppy. The drinks trolley was not pushed down the aisle for "safety reasons" - or rather the stewards and stewardesses were either too afraid to experience the bucking bronco ambience of the plane or were concerned about slipping on the vomit. Seriously - I've never seen so many people throwing up at the same time. Except for the time I was in the audience in a showing of Armageddon.

Next adventure... Dublin.

Funky In Frankfurt

The flight was uneventful. I entirely failed to sleep at all. The woman sitting next to me did. From the moment she'd sat in her seat and put on her belt she was asleep. Head on the window, mouth open, nostril hairs moving gently in the breeze.

After 8 hours had passed I began to toy with sticking a pen up her nose, or perhaps writing on her face. Not because she was snoring, but because I was desperately envious of her ability to sleep. In fact, the whole cabin seemed to be asleep. Anyone else get that feeling on long-haul flights? That you're the only one awake? I took to making circuits of the cabin. At the start of the circuit I decided who I'd look for and then find them.

My targets were:

The couple who'd just joined the mile high club
The person most resembling a dead celebrity
The individual who'd wanted to join the mile high club but whose partner hadn't been up for it

And so on. Anything to alleviate the boredom.

And now I'm at Frankfurt. I wonder where my luggage is. Probably somewhere hot and sunny.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Time Passes So Slowly...

Having been thrown out of the Cathay Pacific lounge, with its free internet and, most importantly, free beer and odd Japanese wines, I staggered back to join The Public.

I stepped on something sticky. I raised my foot and beneath me stared Bullwinkle the moose, encased in sugar. A nearby kid tugged my leg: "You trod on my lolly!"
"It was on the floor" I protested.
"But is was miiiiiiinnnnnneee!" the open pink mouth began to scream.
I crouched down: "Kid. I'm real sorry about the candy. Don't draw attention to me I'm... on a mission."
"A mission?"
"A mission. I'm with the British. Can't talk about it, do you understand?"
"Oh wow. Like James Bond?"
"Ssssh... here's some money for another lolly. You... never... saw... me... ok?"

I didn't have the heart to tell him that my 'mission' was a cocktail in each bar in a continuing circuit until boarding. Still, thanks to me at least one child has been stopped screaming although he'd have some interesting stories for his parents.

Back to circuit training. Ho hum. Weird airport this.

The End

No, not the end of the journal. Just the end of this particular adventure. Assuming I make it to the airport and the plane isn't too badly delayed. Otherwise I may be back...

I could really have used another 2 weeks. Maybe 4. Perhaps 8. But there you go.

I learnt some stuff. I learnt that I really, really like Canada. So much so that I'd like to live here. I learnt that people you meet on-line are usually even nicer in the flesh. I learnt that strangers can be generous and wierd in equal measure. And I learnt that I really don't want to go home.

If all goes to plan, I'll be back on-line tomorrow with tales of Lufthansa's elderly airbuses, the soulessness of Frankfurt airport and a tearful reunion with First-Born. But for now, thank you. You know who you are.

Bellini Bear And The Fornicating Giraffes

"I really need a quiet night. Really. I do."

The fact that a light dusting of snow seems to bring Vancouver to a total standstill made it look increasingly likely that this would be the case. My plan for the evening was to wander from the hotel to a bar on the beach, drink myself into a stupor and play on the interesting looking quiz machine they had installed. My general knowledge is formidable; honed by many tedious christmases with the in-laws playing Trivial Pursuit and pretending not to notice my father-in-law cheating.

I brightened. I no longer had a father-in-law. Reasons to be cheerful part 1.

Reasons to be cheerful part 2 was a message from a Vancouverite journal reader suggesting meeting up. I was unsure, but The Bear likes to meet new people. As I waited in the hotel bar the waitress offered me the house speciality: deep fried spaghetti. I dutifully nibbled it and imagined the serving staff peering around the corner giggling: "He actually ate it! Go see if you can make him drink some of this cats pee..." but I wasn't in the mood for Budweiser.

Our party arrived, I learnt new things, and we headed out to Millstones. Highlight of the evening for me (aside from meeting fun people) was the suggestion that one of our party (who worked in London)'s 'bitch of a boss' could be turned into a happy, well adjusted person by, if not actual impregnation, certainly by getting laid. I love that expression. Naturally, I volunteered. However, the graphic descriptions of the anally retentive and controlling nature of this individual left me with the impression that intercourse would take the form of:

"What? You've finishd already?"
"Well, er, yeah, 60 minutes is a long time for a guy..."
"Well *I* haven't! Do it again, and this time DO IT RIGHT!"

Such a thing can dampen a man's ardour somewhat.

It was around this time that one member of our party constructed the scene below. Out of two of the giraffes from the Bellinis. Bellinis, for those that don't know, are a kind of alcoholic slush-puppie. I can only hope that Another Drink never reads this, otherwise my status as 'bloke' will be forever tarnished...

...and as for this picture. Well, maybe that gooey stuff isn't bellini after all. Oh deary, deary me...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mark And Mary 2

Oh yeah. The whole Mark and Mary thing.

I was interrupted this morning by the need to catch the SnowBus (highly recommended - 30 Canadian dollars for a return to Whistler from Vancouver is not to be sniffed at) and had planned to finish retelling the story on the bus (I have a tiny, tiny laptop and so can do such things.) Unfortunately, the host put a breathtakingly bad film called "Hellboy" onto the bus's video which distracted me for the whole journey in much the same way that a car crash tends to draw one's eyes whether one wants to look or not.

But I digress.

I was aware that following a naked man through the corridors of the hotel was not something I'd normally do but I figured - heck - whats the worst that could happen? Luckily my imagination had not had the time to provide options when we arrived at another door. The man (who I later learned was called Mark) thumped on the door.

"Mary!" he called "This the right room?"
"Ya" came the reply, and the door was opened. I peered inside. Including the one I assumed was Mary, I could see 3 more women and another man.

"I found my beer!" said Mark, holding the can up for the doubters in the room, "Left it in the hot tub. Hey, this is - what was your name?"

I said my name. Eveyone laughed. They normally do. The ski instructors loved my name, as do traffic police.

"Hey, cool name dude. Which part of Australia are you from, man?"
"I'm not Australian," I said, my fingernails digging into my palms, and adopted the clipped BBC accent reserved for such occasions, "I'm English"
"Oh man. Awesome. Let me fetch you a drink, man. You wanna beer?"
"Sure, beer is good"

Judging by the smell of the room, beer hadn't been the only thing taken that night. I sat on the sofa between 2 of the women and they explained the rules of the game they were playing: "Ya - see, we're watching Rocky Horror, and whenever you don't get the line right you got to lose some clothes, ya? And when you do, you got to take a shot, ya?"

They giggled: "Mark's not very good" - they clearly weren't much better.

"I see" I replied, wondering what had possessed these people to invite a total stranger in to play 'strip Rocky Horror'. Certainly not my physical appearance. I learnt later that the only people who'd known each other for longer than that evening were Mark and Mary.

And with that, I'll draw a veil over my last night in Whistler aside to say that the list of things below that I did is still correct and I wish I wasn't so British as to be practically handicapped.

The Polar Bear Club

Ok, so I entirely failed to do the whole Polar Bear thing. The Bear did. She stood amongst the snow, sand and sea as the water washed over her and fixed me with a disapproving stare.

It would seem I've brought the snow back from Whistler. Vancouver is covered in the white stuff, and I'm gratified to note that the car drivers here are about as bad as their UK counterparts when it comes to sudden snowy conditions.

The taxi from the bus drop-off to the hotel was particularly impressive - I thanked the lord for ABS while the driver muttered curses in some asian dialect as his wheels repeatedly locked up in the slush.

The Bear and I took a stroll along the beach, marvelling at the difference a week makes. This was the scene a mere week ago, and now...

I paddled in the freezing water for a while for no particular reason and enjoyed the surreality of a beach with palm trees covered in snow. The Bear made a new friend in a bar while I drank cocktails and explained The Bear's mission - to see the world...

...and then it was time to return to the hotel where it would seem I've been gifted the best room - a corner on the top floor with 5 windows looking out over the bay. And a bath that has a plug. And boy, do I need that hot bath right now.

Mark And Mary

There was an insistant knocking on the door. Hoping it was the repair-man with a new plug for the bath (the Timberline Lodge has a real blind spot when it comes to the bath plugs - neither of the rooms I've stayed in have had baths capable of holding in water) I opened the door.

Before me was an impressively built man. Shaved head. Entirely naked. Dripping wet.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, knuckles tightening around his beer can.
"Er. Waiting for someone to come and fix my bath?" I volunteered, feeling slightly inadequate for a variety of reasons
"Dude. Where's Mary? She with you?" the man asked.

I thought carefully about my answer.


The man leaned back and peered at the room number. "Oh man, I'm sorry. Wrong room. Hey - you want to come to a party?"

I looked at the man. Consulted the clock. Asked the bear.


And so it began.

...I gotta catch a bus. And fight a hang-over.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


"But it says it expires on 6 Jan" I explained to the man wielding the scanner
"Computer says you used it on the 29th"
"I couldn't have. I was in Vancouver"

I was trying to board the gondola for my final lesson on my final day. And my lift pass had apparently expired.

"Look, I'm going to miss my class. My pass says it ends on 6 Jan. How can it have expired?"
"Computer says you used it on the 29th" was the response

I considered my options. I could make a fuss and lose my last afternoon of skiing or I could swallow the 20 dollars and be done with.

"How old are you?" I asked
"Do you smoke?"
"Yes... why do you want to know?"
"No reason"

I paid the money and rode the gondola, secure in the knowledge that the officious lift attendant would most likely be dead before me. Such things sustain me in this cruel world.

Bye Bye Whistler

The Bear and I are wondering what to do with our penultimate night in Canada (and our final night in Whistler.) The Bear wants to meet some new people. I want to sit in a corner of a restaurant with my book, a bottle of wine and some food that I will regret eating an hour later.

Over breakfast I decided to make a list. This was ostensibly in order to make notes for tonights journal entry, but mainly to take my mind off the fact that the waitress had underwear more visible than The Bear's, and its rude to stare. So - here we go:

Lost evenings - 2
Units of alcohol consumed - (numeric overflow error)
New people met - 12
Number of days I skiied - 7
Number of falls - 2
Number of different ski instructors - 5

These were:
Paul - an Australian with an affected Californian accent.
Sara - a Canadian who gets a little uptight about swearing. Unfortunate, when my principle method of skiing is to say "fuck" most of the time.
Hiro - a charming and entirely unintelligable Japanese woman. Her main mode of communication was to shout "Up! Up!" a lot. What she meant was anyone's guess.
Barrie - a Canadian who had a spiritual approach to skiing: "Be one with the skis, dude". Eh? "One with slope" is more my style.
Eric - another Canadian with a somewhat lassez faire attitude to tuition: "Ya, you guys ski down and I'll watch you from here. Ya. That was great. Lesson's over."

Yep. I had a good time. The bear has talked me into one more night out. Photos to follow.

Zero Self-Respect

I'd planned a quiet evening in. I took a long bath, read some more of my book, thought about how beautiful the mountains had looked in the fading light of the afternoon (kind of pink, if anyone's interested) and then slid deeper into the water and let the bubbles close over my head.

My reverie was interupted by a noise from the laptop. Since I'm a slave to all things electronic, I padded over and peered at it. A friend was reminding me that tonight was an important hockey game for Canada and why wasn't I watching it?

I've developed a liking for hockey and decided that rather than sit in front of the TV with a glass of water and a box of cookies for company, I really should watch it in a bar.

This, my friends, was a mistake.

The Amsterdam Cafe is practically opposite my hotel, so I acquired a seat at the bar, ordered a beer (my New Years resolutions don't take effect until I leave Canada...) and watched Canada demolish their unfortunate Russian opponents. I imagine the poor kids from Moscow will be spending some quality time in Siberia after that performance.

My new friend, Sean (pronouced Shahn) next to whom I was sitting (I've got very good at talking to strangers in bars) tried to explain the significance of 'Sutter-Style Hockey'. I was more fascinated by the theatrical headsets the commentators were wearing - this is the 21st century, guys. No need for something that looks like it came from the prop basket of a 50s movie.

The game ended with the result that had been inevitable from the start of the second period. The bar was pretty apathetic about it. I watched some commercials on the big screen (the one for something called "hamburger helper" which basically involved a woman feeding her family something hideous from a packet and then declaring it "home-cooked goodness" tickled me. Lady - heating pre-prepared food from a packet in a microwave doesn't count as home-cooked...)

Sean left and was replaced by Robert. Robert is a snowboarder and was in Whistler to take avalanche training (I never did work out if that meant cause or avoidance) and decided that tonight I'd be his drinking buddy. I'm easily lead and went along with it.

This was the second mistake.

As the Amsterdam began to empty, Robert and I headed out to find somewhere a bit busier. We stopped in a few bars, watched a band play in the mock-Irish pub at the bottom of the gondola and eventually found our way back to the Amsterdam. By this time, Robert had decided that we were both going to get "laid" tonight. After the tequila, I could barely stand up, so laying down seemed an excellent idea. I have a feeling that that wasn't what he meant.

No, his plan was to head into the Down Under club and introduce us to any unfortunate woman that was standing by herself for more than 30 seconds. Sometimes more than once. Remembering New Years Eve, I'd switched to soft drinks (much to the disgust of the waitress who was, it must be said, stunning) and was beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable. Robert (who I was interested to note suffers from a stammer like me) dispensed advice with the confidence that only Jack Daniels can give. While gesturing vaguely in the direction of some ladies for whom we'd bought drinks. I nodded, and admired the waitress.

At midnight we staggered back into the night air. Robert had nowhere to stay tonight, and dropped some not-so-subtle hints. I was sober enough to know that I did not want him in my hotel room and so guided him back to his huge off-road vehicle (which, I have to say, looked a great deal more comfortable than my room) and left him to sleep it off.

My alarm awoke me this morning from a dream where I, the hamburger-helper lady and a basketball player were planning a mission to Mars to save humanity and I lay still for a while, trying to work out if I'd had fun last night or not. I'll get back to you on that one.

For now, I have a final day of skiing and tomorrow I return to Vancouver. Tonight needs to be... quiet.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bear Meets Mountain

I felt fragile this morning, and since I'd given myself an extra day in Whistler figured that I'd take the morning off. And the bear wanted to see the mountain (evidentally she'd tired of the succession of bars.)

Up we went, feeling a little foolish in our casual clothes while surrounded by skis, boards and portly individuals wearing jackets that only further emphasised their egg-like appearance.

The mountain was, of course, stunning. The Bear peered out to the horizon. I listened to The Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby' on the PA which seemed somehow appropriate at that moment.

When we returned to the village, something wonderful happened. Yesterday I lost my skis. Well, someone took my skis (I assumed by mistake) and I'd had to rent some more. I was looking down the barrel of the cost of new skis... but... there they were. Whoever had taken them had realised their mistake and returned them. Back where I'd left them.

Whoever you are, thank you. The Bear thanks you too. Stuff like this, and the re-appearance of Ms Sundae's jewellery really gives me a sense that there are more decent people in the world than we give credit for.

And now the snow is calling.

The Enigma Part 2

So Canadians and US citizens. The similarities continued.

You guys also have terrible, terrible television. I really don't understand this. The US certainly is one of the most demanding nations on earth and I've witnessed the impressive method of ordering a sandwich and coffee in coffee-shops. Where I might say "A black coffee and a cheese sandwich, please" the transatlantic version takes twice as long to say, with well over 1000 possible permutations.

So, I've ascertained that you guys aren't afraid to ask for what you want (unlike we Brits who tend to regard waiters with the fear and awe deserving of one who has the power to spit in your food) so why the bad, bad TV? The first time the television was turned on in my room was while my guests were recovering from the excess of new years eve. Aside from the ice hockey (which I have to confess to rather enjoying on first viewing) and a lottery advert spoofing the Dukes Of Hazzard called The Dukes Of Windsor (make that show!) there were literally 50 channels of crap to choose from.

Why do you guys put up with it? And why do Canadians put up with so much US TV?

It is, like I said, an Enigma.

I'm taking the bear up to look at the mountain now, and to give the servers at the roundhouse a hard stare.

Monday, January 03, 2005

And Another

This post is a little icky... readers of a delicate constitution probably shouldn't read it.

I have one more resolution. Never, ever eat chicken pasta at the Whistler roundhouse again. It was all going so well - another day of lessons in the hope of transforming myself from a talentless amateur into a talentless amateur with marginally less money but a nice shiny badge with my forename on it.

After a morning of not falling over we retired to the roundhouse for lunch. Since I can count the number of 'proper' meals I've eaten since arriving in Canada on the fingers of one hand, I elected to actually eat something while trying out my new grasp of the Canadian language on the solitary local in our party.

"Fer-sher-ay?" I volunteered. She looked at me strangely and asked me which part of Australia I came from.

The chicken pasta began to work its magic on the chairlift to the summit. As I slid off the chairlift I was painfully aware that last night's snack and lunchtime's meal were about to do a comeback tour through any available orifice. And the nearest bathroom was a long, long way away.

"You ski good today, yes!" called the instructor in her thickly Japanese accented voice, "Very fast! Very good!"

We'd reached the first waypoint, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to wait for the rest of the group and still maintain my dignity as well as the virgin whiteness of the snow. I explained the situation to the instructor replete with actions for the words she didn't understand (I'm damn good at charades), locked my skis parallel and rocketed down runs I wouldn't have dared tackle an hour earlier.

I spent the solitary journey on the gondola back to the mid-station curled up on the floor and then did something of which I'm rather ashamed on the final gondola run. By coincidence, I was sharing a gondola with a paramedic and an unfortunate child with a broken arm (snow-boarders, tch) The medic peered at me: "Are you ok, man?"
I cast dignity aside - my pasty face and the frozen sweat on my forehead had betrayed me: "No. I'm not. I ate something at lunch that hasn't agreed me and if this gondola doesn't get down NOW its going to get messy..."

This started the kid puking (shock of the broken limb, I guess) and the medic hauled open the door and held her over the edge. My delicate stomach decided to join in - I did say I was going to try following the crowd, remember?

When we'd finished the medic peered down at the damage.

"I wish you guys had waited until we'd got over the trees" he sighed.

If you were skiing down from mid-station to the village this afternoon, I'm really, really sorry, ok?

Five For Five

This is going to be one of those tedious resolution lists that everyone is doing at the moment... check back later to find out if today was the day of the injury.

Accompanied by Bear, book and notepaper, I sat at the bar of Earls and studied the menu. A chap on the opposite end of the bar stared at me intently, I don't think he blinked once the entire time I was there.

I had determined to write down my resolutions for the new year - every other journal seems to be doing it, and one of my resolutions is going to be 'follow the crowd'; striking out on one's own is overrated. Looking at the pint of dark coloured liquid in front of me, resolution number one was simple:

"Quit alcohol"

I have zero self control and rarely manage to steer a course anywhere but to self destruction where alcohol is concerned. Moderation just isn't an option. Tried it and failed.

"Cut out red meat"

I like red meat. Red meat doesn't like me. Enough said. This could well be the first step toward vegetarianism, with the added bonus that it would really annoy my father.

"Cut back on sugar"

Damn, if I don't like chocolate. And chocolate likes my waistline, judging by the stubborness with which it hangs around there.

"Make the first move"

What can I say? I've agonised about this at length in the past. How one overcomes an almost crippling shyness is something to think about.

"Redesign the journal"

Yeah, in three months time I'll hardly be 'Newly' anymore will I? So, do I kill the thing off completely or attempt a redesign. I've got three months to think about it.

I put my notepaper away, paid the check and headed out into the frigid air. I fought the urge to go into to the 'Down Under' bar and correct their poster: "Don't come in if your shy" - the word should be "you're" - apostrophes rock, darling.

Time for snow and ice. The photo? One of the library of bear-related imagery amassed over my time in Whistler. Shame I can't upload the one with all the cute girls...

Sunday, January 02, 2005


"These, dude," said Paul the Australian ski instructor, "Are your snow-boarder kebab sticks. Use them wisely, man"

They looked like ski-poles to me, but Paul was the expert and I wasn't about to argue with him. Even if he'd affected a broad Californian accept for the benefit of his employers.

I felt he was perhaps being a little harsh on snow-boarders - the nature of their craft means they spend large amounts of time either on their posteriors or face down in the snow. Threatening to spear the poor devils with a ski pole as well as all that seemed a tad excessive. Some of my best friends are, after all, snow-boarders. That said, some of them would probably enjoy the insertion of an angry ski-pole.

So, my principle feeling towards snow-boarders was one of equanimity. Live and let live. And so on.

Until today.

Today I attempted to get from the top to the bottom of the mountain. All on relatively easy green runs. I was within sight of the village. It was spread out below me, belying the description "village". A few more turns and I would be there. Triumphant.

It was not be. I heard a shout behind me and the whole world turned blue and white. It appeared that high above me, a snow-boarder had lost his board, which was careening down the slope, out of control (skis have stoppers to prevent this happening when detached from the boot.) As I blearily sat up I could see the orphaned board making its evil progress to the village, taking out three children, two adults and causing general mayhem.

"Snow-boarder kebab sticks" Hmmm... Maybe just the one. Perhaps two...

Oh, and the photo? A charming waitress from The Keg who liked the bear. The waiter pretended not to see it.

If You Could Be Me

Thought for the day - ever thought that a person has a really interesting life, and then when you get to spend some time in it you realise it wasn't that great after all? They have all the same fears and worries, just wrapped up in different packaging.

I've no idea where that came from. Possibly while I sat on my haunches on the Whistler summit being bowled over by the beauty of it all. I'm toying with the idea of staying on an extra day, or maybe more. It is just so, so beautiful here while the weather is so clear.

The room is now eerily quiet, just the regular gurglings of the fridge to keep me company. At some point I should go out, take the Bear somewhere new, book tomorrow's lesson. But for now I'm content to sit and think. And make a noise approximating an orgasm when I finally get these damn ski boots off.

More later. With pictures.


I have some new words that I am going to submit to the Oxford English Dictionary people in the hope of further extending the scope of this great language.

They are:

'jagered' (pron. yay-gerd) - to be intoxicated. Example: "John was completely jagered last night; he could hardly stand up."

'jagering' (pron. yay-gering) - to drink an unfamiliar alcoholic beverage to excess. Example: "Mary spent the night jagering. By the end of the evening she was well and truly jagered"

'jaging' (pron. yay-ging) - to explosively expell the contents of one's stomach. Example: "Mary and John spent the morning jaging in the bathroom having been utterly jagered the night before."

Yes, I consumed something called Jagermeister. Nasty drink it is too. I peered at the dark liquid and asked myself the obvious question: "People drink this stuff for fun?"

Jan 1 was an odd day. Very subdued. Myself and another member of our party hit the slopes while the others slept off their respective excesses. Television was watched. Lethargy and apathy reigned. We quietly ate a meal. We sat in the hotel hot-tub and speculated on the quantity of foreign fluids, bodily or otherwise, that were causing a thick scum to form on the surface (I'm still itchy, even 12 hours later.)

At 10pm we trotted off to a club.

At this point I have to confess that I don't dance; I didn't dance much before bursting that disk in my back and now the twisting and bouncing about seem a really bad idea. If its going to go again I'd rather it go on the slopes where I might get a ride in the heli-ambulance. So instead I adopted my usual role of casual observer while nursing a bottle of beer. And there wasn't a huge amount to observe, behind me a game of pool was being played badly by some kids with fake ids. Ahead of me tumbleweed was blowing over the dancefloor (aside from one chap who'd clearly taken an illegal substance of some sort and had decided he was John Travolta for the evening.)

I was just beginning to tire of looking at the dance floor and admiring the pick-up technique of my female companions (if its cute, its fair game) when the club dancers appeared and proceeded to gyrate on stage. At this point I gave thanks for being a man. Although I harboured a lingering fear that watching such things might make me go blind... and then fatigue overwhelmed me: "Canada tired you out, huh?"

I wanted to say: "No, the whole cattle-market feel of this place is starting to make me feel like I need a damn good shower." I didn't, of course, instead I mentioned ski lessons the following morning and the fact that out of the whole party, I was the only one who hadn't spent large chunks of the day asleep. I doubt anyone heard over the music.

"No bringing strange men back to the room" I admonished and then was gone, 8 hours of sleep later and the sky is blue and the snow is calling me. Time to load a bullet into metaphorical revolver of my skiing and spin the barrel to see if today is the day that that pesky back of mine finally gives up the ghost.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Long time readers might remember this post

Done it.

What to do next, I wonder?

I See Dead People

...or rather, people who wish they were dead.

Mike B and Ms Sundae are currently passed out on the sofa. The divine Ms U and I hit the slopes at 8, smiling cheerily at employees of Whistler Blackcomb who clearly wished they were elsewhere while we fought off the waves of nausea that drinking far too much alcohol the night before brings.

Skiing with a combination of a hangover and still being drunk is something everyone should do once. And if your level of skiing is the same as mine, then the odds are you will do it only once. And then spend the next year in physiotherapy.

So what of the night before? Its hazy, although I'm pretty sure I had a good time although I sadly didn't wake up 'sticky' as one of our group delicately put it (a euphemism for spotting drunken carnal relations the memory of which is obscured by alcohol, I understand.)

We went to the Amsterdam Cafe, where the bear took a turn. Once with the waitress (see below)

And again with a chap who clearly misunderstood the meaning of the phrase "giving head" (see below)

Other bear related images are sadly censored in order to protect the anonymity of our party. I tried pretty much every drink on the menu before we staggered out into the winter air and back to the hotel to allow the ladies to prepare themselves (being a guy, my preparation consisted of sitting down and saying "are you finished yet?" at regular intervals.

Things went downhill rapidly thereafter. There was a bar. There were shots and then I figured I needed some air. And couldn't find my back to the bar. I'm pretty sure I went somewhere else, did some drunking dialling and somehow made it back to the hotel where it appeared I decided that falling asleep in the lobby was a great idea. Which brings us to the present.

So, all told, a good new year. Although I'm not sure my companions will agree.