Thursday, March 31, 2005

Happy Birthday

I forgot. Its one year since I sat in a bland hotel room wondering what I was going to do and, with the aid of my good friend beer, decided to start this thing as a form of therapy.

Did I succeed with my stated aims?

* The trips to Amsterdam and Barcelona certainly scored highly on the hedonism scale, with the added bonus that there's been more sex in the last year (indeed, even in the last week) than in the seven years before.

* I recorded the divorce process from start to finish and I hope that the many people who found this site by searching for divorce-related topics found some useful information amongst the whinging and angst.

So yes. I think I did.

Happy Birthday Blog.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Twenty Bore

I watched '24' for the first time over the last week. My friendly neighbourhood DVD store had the box-sets on sale for a nominal fee, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

It was tough, but I stuck with it all through season 1. I watched slack-jawed as the story became progressively more bizarre and outrageous. My treacherous imagination distracted me from the antics of Jack Bauer and his crazed crew of well-dressed morons by speculating on the script meetings:

Script robot 1: "Look, we've got 2 hours to fill for this character. What can we do with her?"
Script robot 2: "How about amnesia? It worked in Dallas."
SR1: "2 hours? Who gets amnesia for 2 hours? We're asking the audience to suspend disbelief, not launch it into orbit"
SR2: "Hmmm... ok, how about we do a reveal that she's really a male Serbian agent under heavy disguise posing as Jack's wife who is dead which is good because it means we get to make Jack cry and what the audience was told was her unborn baby is actually an explosive device which she/he will try and detonate when close to Senator Palmer but Palmer's wife throws herself in the path of the explosion redeeming herself but dying in the process until we do another reveal showing that Palmer's wife was actually Palmer himself and the Senator character was in reality a clockwork toy derived from a Burger King kids meal gift under the control of a generic bad guy perhaps from one of those crazy ex-Soviet states who has a grudge against Jack because he looked at him funny fourteen years 8 months and 17 days ago to this very day and wants to replace the whole of congress with wind-up toys to show just how annoyed he is and..."

(pants into a breathless silence)

SR1: "Ok. We'll go with the amnesia line. I've written the script on the back of this cigarette packet. Go get the cocaine and we'll go for lunch."

There was a trailer for the current season of 24 before a film I watched yesterday at the cinema. It consisted of approximately 30 seconds of Jack Bauer sitting in the SUV in which he seems to spend much of his life, crying about something. Doubtless his daughter had got herself into Peril again.

A few too many Long Island Iced Teas in the bar beforehand made yell some lines for Jack: "Oh fuck, not another season. I don't wanna be typecast..."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Geek Out, Baby

I am a bit of geek. I work in IT. I was part of the first pilot of ADSL Broadband in the UK back in 1999. I display all the classic symptons of internet addiction (well, aside from the whole 'obese, lives with parents, never had a girlfriend' thing)

Which is why, when my DSL went down last week and stayed down, I felt like someone had cut my arm off. I was snappy to coworkers and downright rude to engineers. And pity the poor guy who tried to blind me with science:

"Ah, Mr Single. We've checked your line and its fine. No problems. Must be your Windows configuration."
"Really? How did you check?"
"Oh well, we were able to connect to your router and get a LCP and VCI reponse. Therefore the line must be up."
"My router is switched off and unplugged."


"You haven't tested anything, have you?"
"no... sorry..."
"Right. Either this line is up by the time I get home tonight, or I'll rip your legs off and beat you to death with the bloody stumps."

Ok. I didn't really say that. I thought it. And thankfully, the short-circuit didn't cut in. At least I don't think so.

Although the line was restored that very night. Hmmm.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

For Chris

I love one-sided conversations.

The office Trainee was using a speakerphone in his office. The other side of the conversation was somewhat indistinct, but his voice came through the walls loud and clear:

"Hello, is that...?"
"Warble farble"
"Oh good. Erm. I think I might be in a spot of bother..."
"Yes. I didn't have one - my priest says they're a sin"
"Farble? Warble farble?"
"Well, I just put it in. That was all. I didn't - you know - or anything"
"Warble, warble."
"Oh really? Oh dear. When shall I come in?"
"Farble... farble warble?"
"I'll see you then..."

Like me, you're probably wondering if there was an entirely innocent explanation for that telephone call. Perhaps he was talking about chocolate, or microwave meals.

I'm afraid not. Our 19 year-old trainee (who is a member of a particularly cultish religious organisation) had had his first sexual experience and called the STD clinic in a panic, firstly because he had failed to use any sort of preventative measures ('they're a sin') and secondly because he wanted to check that because he'd failed to ejaculate, did that mean it didn't count and that his virginity was still intact?

Where was this man when Bill Clinton needed him?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not For The Devout

Don't read this if you're liable to be offended by mockery of an upcoming important date in the Christian calendar.

I mean it.

All gone?

Ok, so its just you and me...

Easter is approaching. Its a celebration of an individual faking his own death for publicity.

Kind of like Elvis.

Except Elvis wasn't nailed to a cross and didn't inspire a cult following, the more extreme elements of which were prone to committing random and increasingly extreme acts of violence.

Ok, maybe he did inspire the cult following thing. But he quite definitely wasn't nailed to a cross.

But I digress. What I need to know is how the giving of chocolate eggs is related to what Easter is supposed to be celebrating. What is that all about? Any ideas?

(And in case anyone thinks I have a downer on The Church... well, you're probably right (see posts passim.) But lets face it, an organisation that took until 1992 to pardon Gallileo for suggesting that the Earth went around the Sun deserves a bit of a poking with the funny stick. And at least I didn't suggest that Jesus's mode of death was the same as Elvis's. The nails would have cracked the porcelain.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Look At The Pretty Waitress

Another example of the Short Circuit phenomenon.

The Ex and I remain on good terms (although I've just about worn my teeth away through excessive gritting.) So much so that I called in a favour and got a lift back to my house having inadvertantly stranded myself through my own stupidity.

As she drove, she was babbling away about what she and The Boyfriend get up to when I take First-Born away for the weekend.

Get your minds out of the gutter. I gather they don't really have much in the way of, er, that sort of relationship any more (much to The Ex's increasingly obvious annoyance.)

She: "Oh yes, I'm showing him around Sussex - he hasn't lived here long"
Me: "*showing* him around?"
She: "Yes, we went to Ditchling last weekend, and saw Chailey the week before. Lots of pretty villages."


Me: "The guy is blind. Why not save some fuel by simply sitting him the car and making 'vroom' noises, take him back into the house and pretend its a picturesque Olde Englishe Tea Shoppe? He's not going to know the difference..."

Oops. Shouldn't have said that. See what I mean about short circuits?

Short Circuit

One thing I've noticed in the last few months is that consumption of alcohol tends to introduce short circuits into my brain, where I'll say exactly what I'm thinking, that remain for a good 24 hours after I've sobered up.

For example: yesterday I was looking at the new bar-food menu at the after-work pub used by me and my colleagues. Where once there was "Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Veggie-burger" there is a no a huge variety. A conversation with the barman ensued:

Me: "This 'Australian Burger' - what has it got to do with Australia? Its just chicken and bacon; is that a noted national dish?"
He: "Er..."
Me: "And the 'American Burger' - from what I can tell the only difference between this and a cheese burger is that this has deep fried onion rings in it. Onion rings are surely an international delicacy, why should they be associated with one particular country?"
He: "Look, do you want to order or not?"
Me: (sensing that if I carry on, this man will spit in my food) "Yeah. I'll go for the Indian Burger. With Naan."

The menu had actually said "The Indian Burger - Full Of Eastern Promise". If my experience with eating at that establishment was anything to go by then the only guaranteed promise of that burger would be the urgent need to spend some quality time in the bathroom, gripping the toilet seat with both hands.

Since every person I know who has been to India has said the same thing:

(dreamily): "Oh, it was a wonderful place, such culture, such sights, such smells, such sounds..."
"Uh huh. And for how long were you ill?"
", just the first week. Maybe two."

...the Indian Burger is surely the most representative of the bunch.

Year One

Over the piles of half eaten fajitas and distressingly crusty hot-plates I peered around the table. Seated around it where 4 individuals who I consider to be my closest friends. We were slightly tipsy and perhaps a bit rowdy. As is traditional, lascivious details of exploits had been exchanged and greatly exaggerated. One individual was almost face-down in his plate and snoring gently. The rest were generating that warm atmosphere that only comes when old friends are indulging in banter.

At one point I drunkenly and embarrassingly made a toast. Today, you see, is the first anniversary of my unceremonious dumping. The day when my little ordered and suburban existance was forever blown apart.

Its often said that you don't realise who your friends are until you really need them. Be it keeping me company in Prague, or inviting me to the Isle of Man to watch the motorbikes, or simply just listening when I prattle on, all of my friends have been there when I needed them.

So this morning I'll raise this styrofoam cup of diet coke and lime (tastes a bit like washing-up liquid, in case you're interested) and say "Thanks" - to my friends (you know who you are) and to family.

Change is good.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Inflation Sucks

"I suppose it would be ok if you got a girlfriend," said First-Born, her arms crossed, "But she couldn't come around while I'm here"

It was an appropo of nothing. Clearly the wheels had been turning while Sponge Bob Square Pants and his strange pink friend had been dispensing humour targetted at children and adults alike.

"Why's that?" I asked, "Wouldn't you want to meet her?"
"Oh yes," she replied, "But there'd be nowhere for me to sleep. She'd obviously need to stay in my bed."
I laughed, "Oh I don't think that would happen..."
She paused the film and turned to me: "What do you mean?"


I had one of my Hollywood moments where a camera pans away from a close-up on my face and reveals me to be standing on the edge of a precipice, about to plummet headlong into a conversation that could potentially lead to The Birds And Bees talk.

My subconscious threw me a line.

"She could sleep on the inflatable bed if there was nowhere else" It wasn't a total lie, and I couldn't feel the usual burning of my cheeks as I said it.

"Oh yes," said First-Born, losing interest and pressing play on the remote, "I'd forgotten about that. Its a shame you can't get inflatable girlfriends. That would make life much easier."

I nearly choked on my pasta.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Grand Don't Come For Free

Buying a house:

£750 - Lawyer's Fee

(ignoring the increasingly frantic calls from your client while you indulge in extended lunches costs money, y'know?)

£1999.50 - Stamp duty

(the government likes their share. Of course they do.)

£150 - Registration fee

(tippexing out the name of the old owner and writing my name in its place is something that takes time and effort)

£179 - Local authority search

(the most expensive press of the 'return' key on any keyboard in the world anywhere)

£34.08 - Environment search

(sniffing the ground around the house to see if it smells funny or not)

£35.25 - Bank transfer fee

(sending data down them wires don't come for free. Oh, wait a minute, it does, but we're banks and don't give a shit)

£4 - Land registry

(gotta love those photocopying charges)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

You Say NASA, We Say ESA, Lets Call The Whole Thing Off

"Look - its a pair of breasts. No, really. It is."

My father was looking at one of the pictures on the wall in the gymnasium. Some child had attempted to construct models of the earth and moon and, inexplicably, made them both the same size (like small melons), stuck them on a bit of paper and painted them... strangely.

I steered him back to seats - doubtless the little Johnny who painted it would soon be standing behind us with his 7 foot tall rugby playing father if I let my father carry on. Half a glass of wine and he tends to get feisty.

We'd secured tickets to a lecture about the Cassini spacecraft (currently in orbit around Saturn) and the Huygens probe. The presenter, Lucie, had been one of the anchors of a BBC telecast during the descent of the probe to Titan and caused schoolboy titters amongst me and my peers when she earnestly began talking about the insertion of probe's penetratometer with bald German scientists who were clearly unused to dealing with a female who was not their mother.

I glanced around the cavernous building while Lucie recited the planets in the solar system with the children:

She: "Jupiter"
They: "Jupiter"
She: "Saturn"
They: "Saturn"
She: "Oo-run-us"
They: "Your anus"

At that moment I could have embraced every one of the snotty little darlings for striking a blow at the politically correct lobby that have spent every year since Voyager's flypast trying to change the pronounciation of 'Uranus' from the one every schoolboy has loved since Herschel ran excitedly to his wife saying "I've found a new planet!" and she responded "New planet? You're an arse. Go empty the rubbish."

It could have been worse, I guess...

Monday, March 14, 2005

"Men Just Can't Help Acting On Impulse"

"It obviously needs a little work" said Steph. She had the grace to look a little embarrassed as B (style consultant to the stars) and I poked around the grimy interior of the apartment.

Its depressing what £185,000 will buy you in the town where I live. The stairway to the apartment smelt faintly of cabbage and put me in mind of the halls I lived in as a student. Somewhere, a parent was shouting at an unfortunate child.

I sighed. In a single year, I'd tumbled from the lofty heights of a detached four bedroom house with garaging, garden, conservatory and all those good things, to... this. The cash register in my brain ticked away excitedly as I totted up the new kitchen and bathroom that would be needed before I could even consider living in the place. New carpets too. Repainting throughout. And the window frames looked pretty ropey too. I didn't dare open cupboards for fear of discovering dead people, or the sticky results of the vendor's last act of depravity with a duck, or a combination of the two.

I should explain: my landlady has announced that she's going to cash in her chips and sell up. This means that in about a month or so I'll be ejected from my current haven of calm. Therefore I need to find somewhere to live. Somewhere with parking. Somewhere a mere hop skip and a jump from the town.

Poor Steph. Her only success as an estate agent had been to convince me that the place someone else had shown me earlier was the one for me. I walked out of the apartment from hell, back to the newly-built home a few streets away and signed my name away. With luck, I may have enough left over for a small holiday apartment on the French/Spanish border to go with the crippling mortgage payments.

Gotta love impulse house buying.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Call Me Svengali

I drunkenly sauntered over to the man playing the piano in the bar. He was wearing a white dinner jacket and shiny black shoes.

I plonked my beer on top of the piano, a little slopped over the lip of the glass and onto the polished surface. The 5 previous beers I'd already consumed pummelled any lingering guilt about this into tiny pieces.

"Do you do requests?" I asked - the dirge that he'd played so far was eating away at my soul.
"Oh no sir, I cannot play requests"
"Why not?" I asked, incredulous, "Some sort of bizarre corporate policy?"
"No sir, you see," he said conspiratorially, lifting his hands from the keyboard, "I cannot play the piano. It plays itself. I just sit here and pretend."

They keys carried on being pressed by either a phantom pianist, or some clever Japanese servos mounted within the piano. The romantic in me wanted to believe the former. My engineering side believed the latter.

"Can I have a go?" I asked.
"Sure" he replied.

It was surprisingly difficult trying to match my fingers to the keys as they went down.

"If you've memorised all these keypresses, surely you can play without the machine?"
"I'm afraid not sir. It would be against policy. I do sing though. There is no machine for that," he said. I looked carefully at his big, round German face for a trace of sarcasm or bitterness and found none.

As if on cue, the piano segued into "Fly Me To The Moon". I carried on pretending to play while the pianist, for possibly the first time in his career as make-belive musician, stood, leant against the piano, and sang.

I'd like to say he sang like Frank Sinatra. Or maybe Dean Martin. But that would be a lie. His heavily accented English flattened any notes he might have carried while I drank in the surreality of it all.

Who said the Germans have no sense of humour?

Clubbing At The Hilton

The bar at the Basel Hilton is decorated in that uniquely screwed up way you get when an American hotel chain attempts to combine the local culture with a corporate look and feel. Thus it is at once soulless, gaudy and looks more suited as a cheap set for an American soap opera. I'm told it was recently renovated. The renovation sasdly didn't extend to the exterior, which resembles a communist era block of flats.

But I'm being unfair. The room was very nice (although I've yet to work out why the bottle opener is attached to the bathroom sink unit) and the view from the window looking over Basel was magnificent. I never close the curtains in that sort of room, preferring to sleep with the illumination from the cityscape playing over the furniture.

I also tried a 'famous' club sandwich. I'm of the opinion that any establishment using the word 'famous' without a substantial proportion of the population having heard of it should be forced to give me money. In fact, when I rule the world, The Hilton, along with Damon's World Famous Bar And Grill (see posts passim) will be first up against the wall. People who sneeze over the salad counter will be next.

But I digress. The Club Sandwich is an interesting allegory for the Hotel's heiress; actress Paris Hilton. It is entirely pointless and my only reason for looking at it was a morbid curiousity. Why pointless? Nobody, aside from someone with a jaw able to open wide enough to accomodate a small kitten, can eat the thing as a sandwich. I understand the Paris' oral technique has been the subject of at least one film. All the practise eating those damn sandwiches, I guess.

Speaking of Paris Hilton, I wonder if her siblings have also been named after the hotels. It does my heart good to think that somewhere there might be a Scunthorpe Hilton running around.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Size Matters

A conversation between two blokes:

A: "Wow, thats a small one. I've never seen one that little."
B: "Yeah. Its good isn't it. Its nowhere near as thick as your one."
A: "I can see that... can I, er...?"
B: "You want to hold it?"
A: "Would you mind?"
B: "No, of course not. Here... hold out your hand..."


A: "Thats amazing."
B: (blushes) "Well, I guess I'm a lucky guy."

The *only* time you'd hear two guys saying this is when they're talking about a new gadget (like my titchy little laptop.) The effect is however somewhat spoiled by:

Sven: "Ja, zat is tiny. Mine is huge, but I broke it when I hit a bookcase with it"

I hope he was talking about his computer.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Its Not Supposed To Be A Challenge

Did I mention that I was going to Switzerland again?

I'm esconced in the British Airways executive bar at the moment, gazing out over the concrete blandness of Heathrow Terminal 4 and wondering where they keep the food.

Tonight, I think, is to be a night of adventures in Basel. I'm sure it has more to offer than pharmaceutical companies, impressively chaotic roadworks and an interesting mix of Swiss, French and German people (three nations that detest each other nearly as much as they detest the British)

I have a camera. I forgot the bear. I will be back...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What Not To Wear

The person in the mirror looked back at me. It was me, and yet... wasn't me.

Its amazing the effect that clothes can have on a person. Another trip to the department store had resulted in some new Newly Single ensembles. First-Born was particularly impressed: "Wow, you look like a teenager!"

Bless. One day I'll tell her where I hid her glasses.

The Ex sniffed disdainfully: "How old do you think you are? You're in your 30s. Act your age."

You couldn't really get a better recommendation for a new outfit, could you?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Failing With Style

Its one thing to fail. Quite another to fail in the glorious fashion that I'm pleased to say First-Born has inherited from me.

I got a phone message from The Ex on Sunday: "Oh hi, First-Born has a swimming gala tomorrow - I forgot to tell you about it. Its at 10 in the morning, I can't make it but I told her you'd be there. Byeee"

I'm lucky I have a very understanding boss. My companion, B, raised a quizzical eyebrow as I slammed the phone back into its cradle (missing the slot a few times for comedy value before lobbing the handset at the sofa in a fit of pique, feeling a bit silly, and then carefully slotting it home.) "The Ex?" she asked, as if my thunderous countenance wasn't explanation enough.

Anyhow, I made it the gala. Watched interchangeable 7 year olds splash around (I have to guiltily confess that I couldn't work out which one was First-Born for a good half hour - all the swimming costumes are identical) until I finally spotted First-Born. Quite easy really; it was her first race. There were four entrants but I could only see three kids until I looked to the back of the pool and spotted her. Playing Flipper to the torpedo-like swimming of her competitors.

To finish last by almost the entire length of the pool when the race was only one length long is something to be applauded. And I did, enthusiastically.

Tonight she stays over and we shall have cake and Toy Story to celebrate.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly

Uh oh.

On Saturday the postman delivered Spaced

The adventures of the Newly Single are therefore on hiatus until Monday morning while I close the curtains, roll up a fat one, break out the jaffa cakes and wallow in one of the best British sitcoms of recent years.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Managing The Fallout

"She did what?" I asked.
"Stood on the desk and refused to answer any more questions." said the teacher, with a tired edge to her voice.

It was parents' evening last night. The Ex and The Boyfriend had had an audience with the teacher earlier in the week. It had not gone well. Tonight was my turn.

I was looking at First-Born's latest set of metrics, which required a degree in advanced statistical analysis to understand. Sadly, there was no factor for stood-on-desk-and-refused-to-continue and so one of the scores had dipped dramatically.

"Her English is, as before, excellent. We can't measure her reading or writing age; our charts only go up to age 12 and she's way beyond that," continued the teacher, a hint of pride entering her voice (First-Born is 7), "and the math is improving. She tells me that you and she do her homework together?"
"Yes," I replied, "She stays over twice a week, and we do it then. Thats why its sometimes late - her mother doesn't really do math."
"Mmm hmm," said the teacher, leaning back, "Her mother. In light of the desk incident, have you considered counselling?"

I knew this was coming.

"Yes," I agreed, "I think its a good idea."

I signed the proffered bit of paper and hoped First-Born would forgive me.

The teacher smiled, "For what its worth, you shouldn't blame yourself. Maybe you should go and have a look at her work."

And that was what I did. Which is how I came to be wiping some more grit from my eye as I read stories about how she and I were going to EuroDisney for her birthday next month and how much she was looking forward to it, how she'd loved christmas, what she and I did at the weekend and so on. I also understood why The Ex had been so angry on the phone the night before; there was nothing about First-Born's other life at all...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A What?

Hot off the newsdesk:

I saw Doctor Exclamation Mark again this evening to see how I'd got on with the little blue pills. Yes, based on the effects I've decided to play along for a while.

He: "So, how did it go? Did we have a happy lady? Or man-friend? Haha!"
Me: (dutifully) "Haha. Yes, they were ok."
He: "Hmmm! You don't seem too sure! Any side effects?"
Me: (after a moment's thought) "No, none"
He: "Jolly good! In which case lets up the dose! 100mg is the next level! Here you go, this should keep you going for a while!"

And with that I was gone, with a prescription for enough of the stuff to last. Well. A long time. I should feel guilty about this - its an expensive drug for the National Health Service to dole out. Fortunately, I also know how much tax I pay, which cancels the guilt out nicely.

My usual pharmacist was closed so I had to use another one, a local shop with the proprietor's name displayed prominently.

"A. Woodcock"

I looked at my prescription and looked again at the sign. The pharmacist saw my barely concealed smirk and sighed: "We've only got 4 tablets in at the moment. The rest will be ready in the morning. Will that be enough for tonight?"
"I bloody well hope so" I said, laughing as the pharmacist realised what he'd said and started to turn a fetching shade of scarlet.

You couldn't make it up. You really couldn't. "A. Woodcock" Deary, deary me.

Take Two Bottles Into The Shower?

The hairdresser was giving me the monthly shear. I'm cursed by thick, fast growing hair (same as First-Born, although she's blonde at the moment. I'm not) which means I either opt for the whole hippy thing or go short. At the moment, I'm still enjoying the novelty of short hair.

"What hairwashing product do you use?" she enquired

I gave her the name of the industrial-strength detergent in which I douse my head every morning.

She stepped back in horror: "Thats awful stuff!" she exclaimed, "No, you need to get some Vosene, maybe some Timotei, certainly some conditioner..." and then proceeded to list a dozen hair-related products without drawing breath.

"But, but, but," I protested feebly, "I'm a bloke. One bottle of shampoo is all blokes are supposed to have. A variety might indicate that I'm, you know, maybe not interested in girls..."
"Nonsense!" she said, "If a lady has got as far as using your shower, then she'll probably already be wise to your, ahem, orientation..."

The town council could have used to heat from my blushing face to melt the ice from the roads.

Sorry Mate, The Horse Has Already Bolted

Gotta love the English. A tiny dusting of snow and we're thrown into a panic. Last night the army was called out to deal with the chaos in Kent. All caused by about 3 inches of snow. Countries with proper winter weather can stop laughing now.

Better still is the shock and horror with which this event is greeted every year: "What? It snows in Winter? You get ice too? Nah, you've got to be joking..." This means that EVERY YEAR the government agencies tend to wait until everything is nicely iced over before doing anything about it. Which is how I made the discovery that having a car that dumps a substantial amount of power down onto the road is not the most fun thing to have when the tarmac is coated in an attractive sheen of frozen water.

The litte orange "you didn't want to do that" traction control light on the dashboard stayed lit almost all the way to work this morning.

And the worst thing about that smug little orange light? Apparently, according to the manual, one is supposed to turn off traction control when driving in ice and snow. I thumped the steering wheel and yelled "then what is the effing point of the stupid thing?" in the hope that the fearsomely efficient German engineers in Wolfsburg would hear me.

Presently I began to feel a little foolish. My hand hurt too.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Return To The House Of Oddness

A slightly odd moment today. Odd, and disconcerting.

My friend S (he of the magic muffins) and I went to The House Of Oddness over lunch. S will be a father in a few short months and, after getting The Ex's agreement, I offered a whole load of First-Born's baby gear. I'd been very emotionally attached to this stuff (things like her pram, baby-basket and first toys) but for some reason felt able to let it all go after what happened last year. Interestingly, The Ex was the opposite and took some persuading (having nagged me for years to get rid off it all.)

So, off we went to empty the attic. I felt strange seeing items I'd not seen for six years coming down through the hatch while S squeaked excitedly (doubtless cheering himself that he'd be earning huge amounts of brownie points from his girlfriend with his haul)

I prowled around The House Of Oddness for the first time in many months as S loaded his car with prizes. More things had changed since I was last there. But, and this is the thing, I felt absolutely nothing. It no longer felt like my home.

Some rooms however, like the attic, did cause a tightness in my throat as I saw things exactly as I had left them a year previously. I'd been in the process of putting floorboards into the attic and everything - wood, power-tools, nails and so on were still sitting forlornly in their original locations, waiting for their former owner to return and use them again. The layer of dust coating them indicated that it would be a long wait. It was like I'd just popped out and then never come back.

Which, in a way, is what happened.

Its odd how seeing bedroom furniture rearranged and pictures removed did nothing, but the sight of an opened packet of nails, the contents sorted into neat, dusty piles triggered an emotional reaction.

"You ok, man?" asked S
"Yeah," I muttered, "Got some grit in my eye. Thats all."

The Two Step Plan

The way to win my heart:

1. Make me a nice meal (satisfies the 'I care enough about you to invest time and effort in preparation' requirement)
2. Incredible sex (satisfies... well, just satisfies really.)

Ah yes, 2005 will go down as a great birthday.

So, to answer Miss Issue's questions (which coincidentally appeared at around the same time as visitor 20,000 - I hadn't planned to do the whole "Ask Newly" thing again, but since they're here...)

1. I know you've been thinking lately of a career change. If money and location were no object, what's the one job you'd love to have?

Oh thats easy. George Bush. Imagine the fun you could have being head of the scariest army on earth. Someone annoys you? Bam! Need a holiday retreat in the sun? Invade some island in the Carribean on the slimmest of pretexts ("They looked at me funny"). Want some good skiing? Annex Switzerland. I'd take out France at the same time. Just because.

(Serious answer: I'd like to be a travel writer. I'd really like Michael Palin's job.)

2. Do you ever want to have more children?

Personally, no. I would have to meet a very special person to make me change my mind. Vague and contradictory enough for ya?

3. If you could spend a day with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Just the one person? It would have to be Michael Palin. He's a personal hero of mine. From Monty Python to travelling around the world in 80 days, I think there'd be enough to talk about and he'd make me laugh. And I want to know how he's managed to be so successful and yet remain a decent human being. I'd like to apply the lessons learned to my own life.

4. What's your favorite book of all time? Why?

The second book of AA Milne's poems for children (can't remember the name off the top of my head; possibly 'Now We Are Six'. Funny how I know most of the poems off by heart but can't remember the book title.) My mother use to read them to me, and now I read them to First-Born. They're very special to me.

5. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Who is this 'Charles Wood' person? Should I know him?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

If Symptoms Persist

"May cause a sustained erection for 4 hours..." I read from 'Adverse Reactions' section.

I pondered that, and added: "That sounds more like a feature than a side effect to me"

I'm a little anally retentive and always read the bit of paper that comes inside the packet of pills. In this case I had elected to see what the accidentally prescribed Viagra was supposed to do from a medical perspective. Aside from making Hugh Heffner a very happy old man, of course.

"Taking medication after eating may delay or dissipate the effect..." I continued. Useful information. "Best take one now then" I decided, and swallowed one of the little blue tablets.

"Do not exceed 100mg or the amount prescribed by your physician." I concluded. Each tablet was 50mg. "Better safe than sorry" I added, and took a second pill.

The question is, of course, was there any noticeable difference?

Goodness me. That was one of the best birthdays yet. I gotta get me some more of those.

Enough said, I think.