Monday, 12 December 2011

Shake Your Tailfeather

Did you know there's a patron saint of small businesses? Neither did I until about 20 minutes ago.

Days like today make me think that St Homobonus (for it is he) knows about me though. They make me wonder if he knows my views on religion, knows just how much I laugh at Father Ted, and is trying to make a point. The ecclesiastical equivalent of a brick through the window.

Lets just say I'm getting a bit cheesed off with the economy and its effect on my customers.

But things brightened up considerably this evening. The Boy Wonder and I went swimming. There were many moments of joy, including his enthusiastic monologue on the culture and tribal customs of the Aborigine people as we were getting dressed afterwards. He waited until we were in the communal part of the changing rooms and then demonstrated his interpretation of their tribal dances.

Now to be fair I'm no expert on such things,  but all I can say is that if his display was even close to accurate I'm surprised that the whole Aborigine nation isn't up in court on indecency charges. There was rather too much wild gyration for my liking, or for the most of the mothers in the changing rooms for that matter.

After I'd placated Hermione and her mum, we headed off to the chippy and sat and ate chips in the car. We chatted happily about everything and nothing, before heading home.

Around 9ish I heard him calling. He stood at the top of the stairs and told me, in earnest tones, that I should have an early night if I didn't want to get fat.

So there you go. It's not the cake that causes the problem, it's staying up to watch Paxman on Newsnight. I just hope that Weightwatchers Ltd is on the right side of St Homobonus. I predict tough trading when the news gets out.

NDC

Thursday, 8 December 2011

PantaLoon

Today my business partner has been wandering round the office wearing waterproof overtrousers.

I asked him at lunchtime why he would do that, given that he'd spent the whole day inside (apart from a wander out to empty his bin, although even that was under cover).

He told me that it's cold at 7am and gave me a look that conveyed, with succinctness and sincerity, that this was perfectly acceptable behaviour and no further questions should be asked.

The overtrousers are still in place.

I worry that one day this will all seem normal.

NDC

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Stat.

This blog is a funny old thing. Not funny har-har (please feel free to interject here...no? OK, I'll carry on...), but funny peculiar.

I started to blog as an online diary. I thought that it'd be good to look back in years to come at the things that concerned me now. I never really expected anyone to read it apart from me, possibly the FMA and hopefully, after I have shuffled off this mortal coil, The Boy Wonder. But somehow other folks have taken an interest in my ramblings too and as such I have started to wonder about the people who read this blog. I never really intended it to be for anyone other than myself, but that's the beauty of the internet. Sometimes it takes you where you need to be rather than where you intended to go.

As a result of this I occasionally have a wander through the stats - the numbers are laughably small in internet terms (who am I kidding? In any terms.) but the locations of people that read my scrawlings are pretty far flung and interesting. Is it you who is reading this in Sweden? Or maybe Hawaii? May I draw your attention to my blogger exchange program* whereby you get to visit me in the centre of the cultural universe that is Leicester and I return the compliment by visiting you in your sun-kissed/majestically beautiful locale. There's no need to thank me, I just take my reward from broadening people's horizons.

But in truth, wherever you are and for whatever reasons you actually read my claptrap, whatever drives you to comment, thank you. You are making this whole blogging thing rather good fun.

NDC

* - Priority may be given to bloggers located close to mountains/oceans/excellent wine cellars

Friday, 2 December 2011

Gangster Trippin'

Our business neighbour is one of life's 'colourful' characters. I like him hugely and am always happy when he's about because he's fascinating to talk to. He's very charismatic, always cheerful and I suspect if you upset him you may well find out what the inside of concrete bridge foundation looks like. Let's just say I've heard rumours that he's quite well connected. I'll call him 'Tony*'.

Around eighteen months ago Tony appeared and told us that he was renting the unit next to us. Over the coming months there was a procession of tradesmen fitting out the building, followed by a few months silence, followed by more tradesmen coming to remove said fittings. There were arguments between Tony and the landlord, the display racks in the building went up and down like a bride's nightie until eventually, a couple of months ago, the landlord saw things Tony's way. The racks and signs went up once again and this time stayed up. The stock arrived a couple of days later and the shop has remained steadfastly shut ever since.

I was just getting out of my car recently when Tony appeared. We were chatting and he offered to show me around his new empire. It was an offer I couldn't refuse**, so I went to have a look.

He sells high end shoes at surprisingly low prices. Though it was very nicely done out I didn't see any concrete boots (I suspect they're special order only), but he did have a pair of shoes with spats on display. This is absolutely true.

I asked Tony why he hadn't opened yet.

He told me that he had a "nice little tickle" running with the bookies. He went on to explain in broad terms what it involved, which sounded quite ingenious and probably illegal. He asked if I wanted "a bit of the action" and I suddenly got that feeling you get when swimming in the sea and you realise just how deep the water has gotten.

Maybe I won't try the spats on after all......

NDC

* - Tony Soprano, Tony Montana, you get the idea.


** - Sorry, I just couldn't resist it.

Monday, 28 November 2011

WTF?

Super, my favourite (and once again only) employee doesn't have kids. She isn't keen on them. She says they take up too much time, expense and emotional input. To be absolutely honest, that's my editorial interpretation of her views on children. The verbatim version has too many swearwords even for the interwebz.

Instead she has a dog. This, I am told on a regular basis, is in no way a child substitute.


Why yes, they are indeed pink socks. With little hearts on them.

NDC

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Every Day's a School Day.

Currently The Boy Wonder is sleeping the sleep of the just (or is he just asleep? I'm never quite sure), at my place.

We have tackled the three Rs tonight in a continued drive to educate and edify him:

In the car on the way over we were sitting at a T junction and he was reading the roadsign opposite. "Leicester Forest East, one and one quarter miles", he cheerfully stated. I was surprised and asked if he knew what a quarter was.

"It's a half of a half" he replied, without hesitation. I was impressed and decided to add to his already impressive knowledge. I told him it was called a fraction. he asked what a fraction was, so I told him that a fraction was a number smaller than one.

"Like zero?" he asked.

TBW - 1
Dad - 0.

Later we had to think up words with "oa", "ai" or "oi" in them and write them down. we came up with a good list and wrote them all down. I then drew this picture for him:



Yes, that's right. It's a gOAt on a trAIn track. I'm sorry to say that's my writing, not his.

Anyway, he laughed until tears were running down his face. I don't think the NUT will be looking to sign me up anytime soon (either for English or Art), but at least I feel like I levelled the scores a little.

NDC

Monday, 7 November 2011

Tales From the Riverbank

This morning I awoke with a bit of a start. As conciousness finally burned its way through the murk of the dream that gripped me, I found myself laying safe and warm in bed in the arms of the beautiful FMA. She was making soothing noises and looking concerned. Once I'd got my bearings she told me that I'd been thrashing about* and asked what I'd been dreaming about.

I explained;

In my dream I had been sitting on a sofa in a marquee with several other people. There was a paddling pool in front of the sofa with an otter in it and we were being instructed by Johnny Kingdom on the best way to get the otter's attention**. All was going well but the marquee was hot, so I decided to cool myself down by taking off my shoes and socks and putting my feet in the paddling pool. With the otter.

As I sat chatting, my feet nicely cool, to the chap sitting next to me on the sofa somebody on the other side of the paddling pool caught my attention and started gesticulating enthusiastically towards the water. Alarmingly I now had a very angry otter attached to my big toe. I calmy began to shake my foot about to dislodge the bugger. It held on for a few moments, I was still calm. The otter then let go, arced gracefully though the air and ended up getting stuck in the pocket of my hoody.

This was the point at which I freaked out and woke up.

The lovely FMA looked bewildered with the explanation. She voiced her concerns about my grip on sanity. She asked 'why the feck' I thought it was a good idea to put my feet in a pond with an otter in it.

"It wasn't a pond, it was a paddling pool." I offered, by way of explanation.

"I don't care if it's a pond, a paddling pool or whatever. If it's got animals in it dinnae*** be putting yer feet in it, you muppet".

Hmmm, maybe the gift voucher for the Garra Rufa fish pedicure I've bought her for Christmas needs a rethink then....

NDC

* - No, not in a smutty way.

** - According to the Johnny Kingdom in my dream, they have movement based vision and therefore respond best to light and shade. I have no idea if this is true.

*** - FMA is a Scot. Apart from when she's cross and then she's a Glaswegian.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Unsolicited Calls

This morning I had a telephone call from a gentleman called Stephen. He assured me that he was from E-on, but under close questioning revealed that he was actually from a company working on behalf of E-on. Quite whether E-on actually knew that this company was working on their behalf remained elegantly vague throughout the conversation. The fact that we are with E-on for our business energy suggests maybe not.

Anyway, surprisingly enough Stephen was keen to find out when our contract expired. I am quite experienced in these phonecalls as we get quite a few over the space of a week, so I told him that we had only just signed a new 2 year contract. At this point The Stephen usually realises the horse is dead, goes to find another one to flog and I can get on with whatever I was doing.

But not this Stephen.

"Do you have any other premises that may be coming to the end of their contracts?"

"Actually we do" I lied. "Would you like their phone number?"

Stephen cheerfully took down the number as I read it from the computer screen. Directly from the E-on website. It was clearly printed under the heading "Customer Enquiries".

"The guy you need to speak to is called Stephen" I added, in what I hope was a helpful manner.

He went cheerfully on his way to perform the telesales equivalent of placing two mirrors in front of each other and I went off happily to make a cuppa. Yes I know it's childish.

NDC

Monday, 31 October 2011

A Girl's Best Friend

Yesterday, sitting in traffic with The Boy Wonder we were talking about cars. He's a real car nut already and we often play 'name that car'. In front of us, at the traffic lights, was a Megane.

Me: Do you know what make that car is?
TBW: It's a Renault. I don't like the logo very much.
Me: Well, it's just a diamond shape isn't it. I don't suppose it's very interesting.
TBW: Not for me. But ladies like diamonds don't they?

You'll go far son.

NDC

Friday, 14 October 2011

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Rise of the Machines

Back in the Eighties when I was young and (slightly more) foolish, most of the people I knew worried about the chance that the cold war would escalate and that that mankind would be vapourised in a nuclear holocaust. For my part, I gave a little headspace to this crazy notion, mainly because you need to have something to have 'serious' drunken conversations about at parties, right? But deep down I knew what would be our ultimate undoing.

A steady diet of films like Wargames and Terminator fed my overactive imagination. I genuinely worried that somewhere, in top secret military labs, boffins in white coats were working out the secrets of artificial intelligence. I worried that they would succeed and unwittingly create a code-based Frankenstein's monster that would become sentient and do for us all, seeing the human race at best as an irrelevance or at worst a handy power source.

The years moved on and the nuclear threat subsided. Holes in the ozone layer, global warming, diminishing oil supplies and global economic meltdown all took the place of the mushroom cloud, vying for the title of Thing Most Likely To Finish Us Off. I hadn't worried about technology taking us to the cleaners in ages.

Until today.

I set a form to print (150 copies). I watched the first 10 or so come off and then, satisfied that all was well, went of to do other things. I came back to this:


Not quite Skynet, granted. But the printer is definitely saying 'up yours'.

NDC


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

It's a no from me.


I arrived home on Sunday morning to find this waiting on my doormat.

And to be honest, although a big chunk of me is relieved, a small but quite vocal part of me is quite disappointed.

I bet that small but quite vocal part of me will STFU come January though, when I can just sit around on my fat arse and eat biscuits, instead of going out in the rain and sub-zero temperatures looking like a cross between Max Wall and an advert for road safety in order to do a 15 mile run.

NDC

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Specifically Targeted Products


Wow. They do a depilatory product for pretty much every body part now, don't they?

I'm a bit surprised at the picture of the lady on the front though. Last time I checked they didn't have 'nads.

NDC

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Allowed List

OK, so I know that The Allowed List (hereinafter referred to as TAL) is a pretty commonplace thing in long term relationships, I know a lot of (probably most) couples have them, but I have to be honest and say that I don't really like them.

I Just don't get the mechanics of it. I worry about the questions it throws up, the myriad of grey areas and poor original specification of what is admissible on your list.

Why is it OK to expect the person you share your life with to give you a cheery thumbs up when you rock up at home after a drunken night out, with Angelina Jolie* in tow and announce that you're just off upstairs to do the wild thing? It just wouldn't wash if it was Brenda from next-door-but-one, would it?

Is it the fame? At what point does a person become famous enough to qualify for a TAL? If Brenda decides to cycle across Guatemala to raise money for charidee and appears on page 7 of The Leicester Mercury as a result, does that count?

Is it wealth? If so is it a relative number? Could I be a reasonable candidate for an unemployed lady's TAL somewhere?

Anyhoo, the Future Mrs Adventures and I were discussing such lists this morning. She asked if Kylie was on my list I said no (although I'm sure she's a lovely person) and told her there was only one person on mine.

David Tennant.

The one and only reason I have him on my list is because he's on the FMA's and I know she wouldn't want my cast offs.

I don't think we'll ever meet him, but if we did, Dave would just have to take one for the team (so to speak), in order to safeguard our relationship. I'm sure he'll understand.

NDC

* - To be fair, I don't think it would matter if Angelina was on my allowed list or not. If she decided she was going to shag me I'd be too frightened to say no.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

17 hours

A beautiful day today, and as of this moment I've seen all of it. Every single minute.

I saw the birth of the new day, wearing the inky blackness of midnight, stealing in on silent tides. I sat and listened to the nagging voices of the wee small hours pointing out my shortcomings*. I was happy to watch the sun rise, burning off the mist and the doubts, promising warmth in the day to come.

And then The Dad stirred. He wandered here and there hunting for clothes, muttering about missing socks and generally being bewildered, although mercifully not in pain. For my part I tried to shepherd him in the right direction, to treat him with respect, trying to talk to the man he was.

He has a range of drugs to take four times a day that would keep Jimi Hendrix, Pete Docherty and Kerry Katona happy for weeks. Every time I hand him the small pot full of pills he looks at them like they're a mixture of Strychnine, Cyanide and Chicken McNuggets. Eventually he satisfied himself that they were acceptable and chugged them all in one go.

After that we sat in his kitchen. I'd fixed up a bowl of Weetabix and a cup of tea for him and as we sat there I chatted to him about what my plans for the day were.

He put down his spoon.

He looked me square in the eye.

He told me to give it a fucking rest.

After that, he carried on drinking his tea. I wandered into the other room and laughed hysterically to myself for a few moments. I went back in to tell him I was leaving for work, he smiled and told me to be careful.

All valid points Dad, all valid points.

NDC

* - Which is always fun, but to be honest they could have spent a lot longer on it. I thought the brief précis that they supplied was very fair.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Proof, should it be needed, that even Mary Poppins has to buy toilet rolls.

Although I was there to buy alcohol, I felt an overwhelming urge to buy sugar and a spoon. Hmmmm.

NDC

Thursday, 15 September 2011

If You Can Keep Your Head When All About Are Losing Theirs....

Apparently, planking is old news. The way that the future of our country keep themselves amused these days is by 'horsemanning'.

The principle is simple; one person lays down with their head out of sight, another hides behind something so that just their head is showing and pulls a suitable face. A third captures the scene for posterity.

I suppose at least this is a little more sociable, involving three people in comparison to the two required for planking, but honestly, who would waste their time with such inane nonsense?


Ahem.

NDC

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Apochryphal Lyrics part I



Ronan Keating knows nothing.

Life isn't a rollercoaster.

Sure, they scare the bajeesus out of you with their plunging drops and their rapid turns, maybe even turn you upside down and empty the cash from your pockets occasionally, but here's the problem with the analogy: When you clamber into your seat, you know exactly what the destination is before you start, you know you'll be fine. Being on a rollercoaster is, at heart, a passive experience. You're just along for the ride.

No.

Life is a 1964 AC Cobra 427 in blue with white racing stripes.

Life is a bright red Ducati 916 with track use only Temignonis and racing slicks.

Life is a 17HH chestnut thoroughbred with an attitude problem.*

In short, if you have the skill and strength of will to control it, life is exciting and unpredictable. The destination could be anywhere, each day could take you to new places, flood your system with adrenaline, make you feel as though you are king of the world.

Unfortunately it also means that if your attention wanders life will mercilessly spit you into a ditch, land on top of you and make things very very unpleasant, very quickly. And for all that, I'm still glad that I have hold of the steering wheel/handlebars/reigns.

Although just now I'd be quite happy with a Ford Focus for a while.

NDC

* - The more observant amongst you will know that this statement marks the absolute outer limit of my equine-knowledge envelope.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Meet my maker

My Dad

A man who did great things, who built homes, lives, families, people.

A man who showed me how to be, how to live life with thought for others.

A man who showed me what quiet dignity and respect looked like and what those two qualities could achieve.

A man that laughed a lot, that made others laugh in equal measure and always, always could laugh at himself.

A man who showed me that a sharp mind is more powerful than a strong arm.

A man so much greater than this prescribed end.

I was made by my Dad.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Semantics

Edited highlights of an overheard conversation between a group of blokes whilst waiting for a cup of coffee this morning. Text in yellow is what was going through my head.....

"Dave's swimming the Channel for charity in a few weeks."
Wow, that's some feat at any time, but given that it's now September and the weather is cooling down it's even more impressive. Nice one Dave, when I get my coffee I'm going to give you a few quid.

"Actually, we're going to be swimming the equivalent distance in a pool, but it sounds better if we just say we're swimming the Channel, doesn't it?"
Hmmm. Well OK, it's still quite an undertaking. I don't think I could swim 21 miles, even in a pool. Actually Dave, you don't look that fit to me......

"Yeah, there's ten of us doing it, we'll do a mile each, go and have a cuppa and then do another mile later. But we're not telling anyone that bit 'cos we won't get the money if we do, will we?"
Wanker.

I suppose if the swimming doesn't work out, Dave might try his hand at marketing.

NDC

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Importance of being, Ernest

A while ago, The Dad developed quite an interest in elephants. The first one turned up with fairly little ceremony and spent some time on a table in the lounge. He's always had an eclectic taste in 'stuff', so I thought no more about it.

Then a smaller one turned up and he started to get quite enthusiastic about the whole genre. He now will drop on any oppportunity to show off his collection of pachyderms like some slightly demented David Attenborough.

I should point out that these are carved wooden thingummys, although I wouldn't be entirely surprised if one day I turn up at his house and he's managed to source a real one from somewhere....

Yesterday he went for a CT scan.

Today we get the results.

Wish him luck, I know what I said a while ago about my family having a lucky streak, but if you have any to spare, please send it his way.

Failing that, send elephants.

NDC

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Non-Internet Porn

Just up the road from where I work there is an old fashioned corner shop/newsagents. The lovely old Indian couple who run it are great neighbours, they keep a good supply of all the things I need but am too disorganised to buy outside of working hours (tea, coffee, milk etc) and quite often slip me a free mango from their farm back home when they've been on a visit. In short, they're lovely.

They also keep a frankly bewildering variety of jazz mags in stock.

The naughty schoolboy in me can't help but have a crafty glance out of the corner of my eye as I walk past, but it amazes me that so many variations of one-handed literature can survive these days. Just type in anything even vaguely risque into google with 'safe search' set to 'off', and see how far you get before you see images that would make Courtney Love blush.

There is a gentleman that is regularly in the shop who is known within our business as 'Porn Bloke'. Everytime I see him in there he is loitering suspiciously close to the 'Special Interest' section, showing a strange interest in 'The Bumper Book of Sudoku' or whatever other innocuous publication happens to come to hand. Sometimes he's even holding them the right way up. He's about my age, so I guess he's reasonably computer savvy...

He was in there this afternoon when I went to buy some milk. I did think about asking his views on the survival of the offline porn industry, but he didn't look like he wanted to chat.

NDC


In Interesting Times

This morning The Dad had an appointment at the hospital to get some tests done on his chest. The word 'Asbestosis' had been bandied about by his GP, so listening to him coughing on and off last night did little to dispel the nagging voices of worry in the back of my mind. His cheery statement about sanding down sheets of Asbestos as an apprentice didn't help allay my concerns either.

To further enliven proceedings, he has Alzheimer's. I got him up in plenty of time to be picked up by The Mum* at 8.30 for a 9.15 appointment. Unfortunately I had to be in the office for 8.30 this morning so I had to leave his house around 8.00. He was suited, booted and ready to go. What could go wrong in half an hour?

Cue stressed out call from The Mum at 8.15.  She'd arrived to pick him up and the house was empty. Apparently he'd decided to head off to see his friend, having forgotten all about said appointment, but helpfully left his phone at home.

Once he'd been tracked down, all was well and the hospital is broadly happy that he's not going to keel over tomorrow (he finds it hilarious that they think he might).

All we have to do now is await the arrival of the initial test results and turn up for another couple of tests/scans in a couple of weeks. Good fortune runs in our family, so I know it'll be OK.

NDC

* If my parents were on facebook (and I thank my lucky stars that they're not), their relationship would definitely qualify as 'it's complicated'.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Thoroughly Recommended

Have you ever seen a middle-aged woman in a polka dot skirt trying to get on to a pushbike with a saddle clearly set way too high whilst trying to maintain her dignity on a busy main road?

As of this morning, I have.

It's hilarious, I can tell you.

NDC

Friday, 15 July 2011

Geek

Some time ago, the frankly delectable FMA and I were having one of our deep & meaningful philosophical discussions;

"If you could have been in any band, which band would it be?"

I originally went for Jamiroquai, she started with The Sex Pistols. We eventually settled on Motorhead which was, we felt, a pleasing combination of very cool to outsiders, musically credible, but an absolute hoot to be a part of.

In reality, if I had one iota of musical talent, I would be far closer to this:


Better than the JT original? Oh, I think so.

NDC

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Who Ya Gonna Call?

The area where I live is a funny old place.

Mostly, when I mention it to people there is a raising of eyebrows and a bit of cooing. People are impressed by my postcode*, it is seen as one of the nicer areas of Leicester. I, however, find it a bit parochial and, well, very very old.

An example; There is a small row of shops and a couple of pubs on the 'main road'. A couple of years ago there was an application made to the local authorities for permission to open a chip shop (there are currently no takeaways of any description in the village). Cue much lobbying against the idea by the self appointed pillars of the community.

"It'll bring down the tone of the village!" they cried. "It will mean we will be over-run by hoodies and litter!" they wailed. I suspect that had they still got any of their own teeth left, they'd have gnashed them too.

The powers that be saw fit to turn down the application, but in the interests of compromise they agreed to allow one of the pubs to sell chips to be taken away. If you phone in advance to order them. I kid you not.

So imagine my delight when I saw this guy, smoking a fag, parked up in the village.

Yes, that does say 'paranormal investigations'. I wonder if he's worked out yet that the people in the village aren't actually dead, they're just behaving like they are?






NDC

* - This would be a much more impressive statement if I was in London. Leicester people get impressed from a much lower baseline.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Things I Have Learnt This Weekend

Yesterday I had The Boy Wonder for the day, I love the time I get to spend with him whatever we do, whatever his (or for that matter, my) mood. Time with him makes me happy beyond words, and it's quite often a learning experience too. Occasionally for him, but mainly for me.

Here's a summary of yesterday's gems of knowledge, straight from the oracle that is my son (age 5):
  • 'Batman' is a perfectly acceptable name for a cat.
  • He likes The Saturdays' new song 'Notorious', unless I sing it. That just hurts his ears and makes him feel poorly.
  • Beyonce is not a Pterodactyl. I know, I was surprised too, but if you look closely the signs are there.

A Pterodactyl
Beyonce

But here's my absolute favourite vignette from yesterday. He has taken to dropping the 'T' sound from words, using a glottal* stop instead. I am constantly pulling him up on it, it's become a great new game for us. He told me that T-rex was "be'er" than Diplodocus. This is the conversation that followed:

Me: "How many Ts are there in Better?"
TBW: "2"
Me: "So we say them both, don't we?"
TBW: "Better"
Me: "Thank you."
TBW: "There are 2 Ts in 'butter', aren't there?"
Me: "That's right."
TBW: "But only one T in 'but'."
Me: "You're right, that's very good!"
TBW: "There are 2 Ks in 'Dalek'."
Me: "Ah, no sunshine. There's only one K in 'Dalek'."
TBW: "Not if there's 2 Daleks."

Five years old and he already has the measure of me. Sigh.

NDC

* - Is it just me, or is it funny that 'Glottal' has two Ts in it?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Communications Policy

So far today has been quite eventful.

Super (my number one, but no longer only, employee) told me that her dad comes into her bedroom every morning to wake the dog up. No this is not a euphemism, the dog sleeps in her room. In the bed. That's a whole other blog post right there.

Our new employee, who started with us on Monday, realised that the keyboard on the computer she uses didn't allow her to type a GBP symbol (£). Five minutes of googling provided the solution and the problem was fixed. It was at this point that Business Partner stated "Oh yeah, mines been like that since I got my PC too, I just copy and paste it from other documents." Business Partner has been doing this since 2008 (not Monday).

Later, I was chatting to Super about what I did last night. I told her that I had a fairly quiet night, the highlight of which was watching Paul (the new Simon Pegg film), in bed, with a cup of coffee and a biscuit. She gave me the most withering of looks and I wondered what the problem was. She did seem rather keen to terminate the conversation and get on with her work. I wondered if she was just not a film fan, or disapproved of eating in bed, or just very busy. Whatever, I left it at that and back to work we went.

I have since learnt that she misheard me and thought I was watching porn in bed with a coffee and a biscuit. I should really speak more clearly.

NDC

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Blame Culture Vultures

I have received two text messages from two different numbers today, both reminding me that I still haven't claimed compensation for my (unspecified) accident.

The text messages said that I may be entitled to up to £3650.

All I needed to do to find out more was reply 'CLAIM'

Apparently it was free to apply.

I should point out that I have neither had an accident, nor have I made any approaches to anyone regarding compensation, but they knew their prey so well. It was too much to resist.

I responded immediately;


'GET IT UP YOU, YOU BLOOD-SUCKING BASTARDS'.

NDC

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Three Ring(road) Circus

You know how it is, weirdos are like buses...you wait an age for one and then, well, you know the rest.

On Saturday morning the lovely FMA, 50% of the kids and myself were in The Barge (AKA the Volvo), heading out for a bite to eat. The sun was shining, birds were singing and we were dawdling along the ringroad (again) at a licence-freindly rate.

You may think that excitement would be a scant commodity given:

A) The location
B) The mode of transport, and
C) The number of points currently tarnishing my licence

Not a bit of it. Gasps of astonishment from the back caught our attention. Then we saw him.

He stood right beside the busy ringroad face turned up towards the sun, arms outstretched with upturned  palms and a beatific smile, looking for all the world like Leicester's answer to Christ the Redeemer. The traffic slowed towards the lights and we sat watching, open mouthed, as his gaze slowly shifted from sky to ground and back again.

Did I mention that he was entirely naked?

Not a stitch on. not so much as a sock or a figleaf or even any kind of pixellation. It was quite a sight.

FMA called the police and told them we had just seen a naked, confused gentleman standing by a busy ringroad. Our friends in blue serge took details of the man's location. They took details of FMA's home address. They even asked if she was calling on her own phone which tickled me, but the final question was the killer;

"Why do you think the man is confused, Madam?"

They don't all get filtered out in Hendon, do they?

NDC

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Counterbalance

The world has a funny way of ensuring proportionality.

I was driving through Leicester today on my way to see a customer. The journey takes me through one of the less salubrious areas of the town and there are quite often some sights to behold, but today's sat very nicely against yesterday's darkness concerning end-of-life arrangements.

Along a very busy main road there was a long backlog of traffic moving slowly towards me. At the head of this glacial procession was a mobility scooter, driven by a rather well-to-do looking elderly lady, complete with small dog on lead running beside it*. She was right in the middle of the actual road.

As we know, although mobility scooters have a top speed which is startlingly fast within the confines of the ready-meals aisle of Asda, they are not really up to the cut-and-thrust of the average ring road.

As I got closer I could see that the lady on the scooter was locked in a heated debate with the lady driving the car (at a very speed camera friendly rate) behind her. As I got closer still I learnt that it was not only heated but also quite shouty and hilariously foul-mouthed. All at 9mph. With obscene gestures to boot.

I drove on, cackling to myself, certain in the knowledge that Dignitas won't be getting my £10k. Oh no. I shall blow it all on a fancy scooter, a ridiculously small dog and a megaphone. Take my advice and avoid major routes in Leicester from 2040 onwards, there may be delays.

NDC

* - The small dog seems to be a common accesory. Are they provided with the scooter as an optional extra?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Mort

The human being is a complex beast.

I watched the documentary last night on people who were considering (and eventually going through with) assisted suicide at Dignitas. Despite the incredibly beautiful art direction it was a difficult thing to watch.

The program was hung on the shoulders of Terry Pratchett, himself an Alzheimer's sufferer. His almost entirely amateur approach to meeting the people who had booked themselves a one way trip to Switzerland somehow added to the humanity of the whole affair. At one point, as a doctor discussed the final act of drinking the poison with a patient*, TP loitered in the background wearing a long black coat and a black Fedora. Add to this his gaunt, almost skeletal features and the similarity to the character Death in his novels can't have been lost on him.

The people involved who had chosen to die were both quite different in their ages (one late 60s, one 42) and their social status, but both were incisively eloquent in their reasoning and absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing. That the right to self-determination was a something that they were entitled to.

As I watched it made me think. I was taken aback by the dignity and strength of character of those filmed. Not the people going to die, but those who would be coming back without their loved ones. The incredibly posh wife of 40 years who sat and was terribly stoic with her husband as he breathed his last. The mother of the 42 year old who fundamentally disagreed with her son's decision to die, but went with him to a small industrial park in Switzerland to ensure that he wasn't alone. It all spoke volumes about the human ability to show love and compassion despite a fundamental disagreement with the decision made.

I wondered if I would make that decision if I were to be in the position of suffering a hugely debilitating/painful and incurable illness. Would the wishes of those close to me sway that decision? Would I have the courage or the cowardice to end it all with a small glass of liquid in a foreign land? If the shoe was on the other foot, would I be able to accept the wishes of someone I loved and support them through that process if they asked me to? Hopefully I'll never have to find out.

If you didn't see the documentary, I thouroughly recommend it. Easy it is not, but thought provoking it most definitely is.

NDC

* - Patient? Customer? User? No word seems to fit here.




Monday, 6 June 2011

By The Numbers

My Dad has a memory that makes a sieve look like the perfect receptacle for storing water. Conversations with him are always an adventure, so when my phone started ringing and the word "Dad" filled the screen I knew that I was in for a treat.

He's going on holiday soon and wanted to know my number, should he need to call me whilst away. I resisted the temptation to point out that he (or if you're nitpicking, his phone) clearly already had my number by dint of the fact that he'd called me.

I asked if he had a pen to write the number down. Cue hurried scrabbling in a drawer to locate such an item and we were away.

Me: "OK, so it's 07793..."(pause to let him write that bit down...)
Dad: "Yes, 09973...."
Me: "No, 07793....."
Dad" Oops sorry....07793.."
Me: "82......."
Dad's partner: (off microphone, stage left, with notepad and pen) "09973...."
Me: (supressing urge to giggle) "No, 07793..."
Dad: "07793."

This three way game of Chinese Whispers for the Bewildered continued until I'd disseminated the whole number. My Dad, ever the stickler for clarity, read the number back to me, transposing the last two digits. "No." I said, and reeled off the entire number once again.

"Yes, that's right." said my Dad, entirely without hint of irony.

On the downside, my life seems to have turned into a Two Ronnies sketch. The upside is that I probably won't get too many phonecalls whilst they're away.

NDC

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Rekindled

Hello, my name is Andy, and I am a technoholic.

There, I've said it.

I love gadgets. If I won the lottery my house would look like Q's laboratory but with a comfortable sofa. Streetlights in a 2 mile radius would dim slightly as I walked through the automatically operated front door after a busy day hobnobbing with Steve Jobs and Isaac Asimov*, due to the alarming array of devices that registered my presence and switched themselves on.

Despite this, I have never found a substitute for the humble paperback. I have tried using my laptop (too big and takes too long to switch on), my iPhone (always with me, but just too small a screen) and most recently an iPad (pretty good, but not really much use for reading in the sunshine due to the highly reflective screen).

Then I borrowed a Kindle to take on holiday with me. I wasn't full of hope as it looked like it had been designed during the early part of the 1980s by a YTS trainee. A non colour screen and a 'throw-a-six-to-start' menu system added fuel to the fire of my disdain. 

I loved it. The non-colour screen that was the subject of my scorn uses a very clever 'e-ink' system and is as close to reading from a printed page as makes no difference. The menu system that had me tutting like Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was only necessary when picking which book to read in the first place. After that, it's just a case of pressing a button to turn the page. It was lighter than your average Mills & Boon paperback and the battery life seems to be measured in months. Lovely.

So I now own one. I have more books than I know what to do with on it and I'm happy that some bright spark designer within Amazon stuck to his guns throughout the process of getting this thing to market. In this world of sleek design and 'wow-factor' bells & whistles, I had almost forgotten the engineer's mantra. Form Follows Function. I'm really glad he or she hadn't.

NDC

* - Yes, I am aware that one (or depending when you're reading this, possibly both) of these people is dead. If the lottery win is big enough I intend to get him (or them) re-animated. That's the way I roll.


Monday, 30 May 2011

A lovely weekend

This weekend I have had an absolutely wonderful time and something happened that made me very, very happy.

Unfortunately I have been slapped with what passes for a Super Injuction around these parts, and a fate worse than incarceration will befall me if I share it with you.

So unless you know any MPs who feel the need to make a stand on a point of principle, you'll just have to wait until it leaks out on Twitter.

NDC

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

14,974 Days

Tomorrow marks the end of my 41st year on the planet. This is a huge surprise to me.

Not the fact that it's my birthday, as I've noticed they seem to happen around the same time every year and hence this time I was ready for it.

No, the thing that surprises me about this particular birthday is the fact that I've managed to accrue 41 of them.

In my twenties I was always genuinely of the belief that I would be boxed up and slowly reverting to my constituent parts before I was 30, based on my adrenaline addiction and a quite alarmingly under developed sense of self-preservation.Yet here I am. I survived 50mph rides on car roofs. I survived emulating my teenage hero Carl Fogarty. I survived some quite alarming parties. I even survived some pretty scary girlfriends' ex's.*

In my thirties I was far too busy climbing corporate ladders and generally having a high old time jetting around Europe persuading people to see things my way to notice my singular failure to be Pushing Up The Daisies. A friend took a good go at Throwing a Six on his motorbike and I sold mine as a consequence. It was replaced by mountains and I survived numerous miscalculations relating to both my climbing abilities and navigational skills.

So here I stand in my Forties. I'm glad that I was as wrong about my own judgement day as Harold Camping was about everybody else's because I've been having an absolute blast. The last year has been full of highs and lows, but right now I see the future as being somewhere I am very much looking forward to visiting.

NDC

* - If at some point in the future The Boy Wonder is reading this post, none of the aforementioned tales are true. They have all been made up for effect. You should not, under any circumstances, do any of these things. They are bad. 
Love, Dad.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Maslow

Today I feel truly loved.

No witty comments, no punchline, no smart-arsed remarks.

Simply that.

NDC

Thursday, 12 May 2011

People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish. But that’s only if it’s done properly.

I love grafitti.

Not the brainless daubing of some feckless youth with time to kill and too little imagination to assasinate it properly*, but the kind of grafitti that has been considered, the kind of grafitti that catches you out, makes you think, makes you smile. Yes I know that it is, at a basic level, pretty much vandalism. Yes I know that it is illegal. Yes I know that someone (most likely me, via my council tax) will have to pay for it to be removed.

Despite all of these things I still love it. I love the idea that someone has been struck by a thought and has been so desperate to share it with the world that they have risked censure (and possibly a fine) to get it out there. I wonder whether the author/artist/vandal concerned felt the need to put paint to wall because they were concerned that the rest of society might be in peril without their sage words, or whether they just thought we could all do with a laugh.

Whatever the motivation, I'm glad the person who created (perpetrated?) the example I saw on my way into work this morning took the time to enlighten us all. Their insight worked for me on both humorous and philosophical levels. I take my hat of to him or her, I just hope with all my heart the comedic aspect was intentional. It said, in large capital letters on the side of a railway bridge, with stark simplicity:

LIF IS SHORT

And you can't really argue with that, can you?

NDC

* - There are exceptions to this rule. I used to drive past a bus shelter on which someone had written THEIR OWN NAME, realised they'd misspelt it, scored it out and then tried again. I laughed every single time I saw it, until the council spoiled the fun by painting over it.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Sticky Fingers

On Wednesday evening I had spare time. This is always a dangerous thing for me. The phrase "The Devil Makes Work For Idle Hands" could have been written with me in mind.

I could have done a million and one useful things. I had a pile of washing to do, I could have listed all the crap that I have to offload on Ebay, I could have got some actual work done. Hell, I could have spent time considering solutions to the current strife in the Middle East. I could have. But did I?

No.

Instead I sat mesmerised by this;





Now that the need to stay completely injury-free is gone I can resist no longer. Climbing shoes, chalkbag and lairy shorts have been located and stuffed into a rucksack. My outdoors partner in crime is up for it. Leicester climbing wall is making sure the local A&E is on speed dial.

I wish I could say that I will be recreating the athletic beauty and explosive power of those in this video but I suspect that the summary of my first climb in a long time next week will more likely be "Short on ability, long on entertainment".

Leo Houlding is probably not concerned.

NDC

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Blood, Sweat and (nearly) Tears

Here it is. The distillation of 6 months of commitment through all the training. Of nearly 6 hours of focus on the day, refusing to give up. Of quite a lot of running.

On 17th April 2011 I ran what may well be the only marathon I ever run. I was amazed, amused and humbled by the people who I passed and who passed me.
  • The guy dressed up as a second world war fighter pilot (complete with pipe).
  • The two guys carrying a full size surfboard.
  • The 2 girls who span hulahoops for the entire distance (at a pace that I struggled to stay with).
  • The several Army and Firefighter guys in full kit
  • The guy in full Bomb Disposal kit (the real deal, complete with bombproof armour and helmet).
I salute you all. You all have a grit and determination that is just astonishing.

But as for my little adventure, well there were a few high points. Stopping on the course just before the finish line to see The Boy Wonder in the crowd, running back to give him a hug and seeing how excited he was is something I will never forget. 

So for now, I have my feet up, a bag of frozen peas strategically placed to reduce the pain and I'm looking forward to joining  FMA on holiday next week. No more running.

For now.

NDC

Friday, 15 April 2011

Ready your meal and eat heartily - for on Sunday we dine in hell.

Well London actually.

At this moment I am sitting in my office, merrily shovelling paella into my mouth. Nothing particularly alarming in that, until you consider that my food intake today has been:

  • A large bowl of porridge
  • A round of toast & honey
  • A chocolate cookie
  • The aforementioned paella (large)
Still to come today is a bowl of pasta and probably a couple of other things later on. I love my food, but I'm struggling.

All this is carb-loading for the big day on Sunday. The Virgin London Marathon. And this will be the last blog post before heading down to That There London tomorrow.

It's been a long slog to get here, I worked out some numbers for my training last week that surprised me quite a bit:

  • 480 miles run
  • 87 hours running said miles
  • 58,000 calories burned

The training has been full of highs and lows too:

I was quite surprised at the start of the caper that I could actually run more than a mile without stopping.

I have experienced the joy of running in the warm late summer sunshine through the beautiful Leicestershire countryside and the misery of having to pry myself out of a warm bed to run 15 miles in the freezing cold winter rain.

I have learnt that I run best when I'm angry.

I have seen and heard things on night runs through the city that made me run just a little faster.

I can sometimes be a little competitive.

Sunday's target has taken up a huge amount of my life over the past 6 months or so and by extension has had a significant impact on those around me. The support that I have had has been fantastic and I know that without it I would have had a much harder time keeping going through the winter.

And for those of you that have commented on my "it's-so-tough-running" posts, thank you. You have helped more than you realise too.

Wish me luck!

NDC

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Wisdom of Super

Super, my number one employee* and I have just had a brief chat.

Me - Looks like it might be a nice day today then.

Super - Yeah. It said on the radio that it will be hotter than abroad today.

Me - To make that statement really work, you might want to be a bit more specific about where 'abroad' in particular it might be hotter than.

Super - OK, where's a hot place abroad?

Me - Cairo

Super - It's going to be hotter than Cairo then.

Yes, I know. I doubted the accuracy of this information too.

NDC

* - Super is my number one employee and also my only employee.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Your Mileage May Vary.

I am still running.

The distances are getting smaller as the taper begins, but it seems that the citizens of Leicester have heard that I am almost done now and have made a concerted effort to get out and interact with me as I complete my training. Although the mileages are considerably less than a few weeks ago, the comedy per mile ratio seems to be increasing exponentially.

First off last week was an elderly Chinese guy with an unfeasibly heavy looking load of shopping, heading in the same direction as me. I ran past him fairly early in my route, which was a straight run to a point and back. He gave me a gap-toothed smile as I went past and then had the bad grace to be far closer behind me when I turned around than he had any right to be. He still had the same smile, but I think I probably looked a good deal grumpier.

I think he secretly had a moped in the shopping bags. It's the only reasonable explanation, other than me being dog-slow.

Also featuring last week was a lady out running with her dog. If you imagine Margot from The Good Life in Nike trainers and a bodywarmer you'll be about right. The dog in question was a small terrier type affair on a retractable lead, so the situation had trouble written all over it. As we ran towards each other I tried to give them some space (mainly in an effort to avoid having to run with a dog attached to my trouser leg again).

Unfortunately, as we approached each other the dog spotted something of interest on my side of the path and made a beeline for it. The lead at this point was still set at about 2m radius. I was watching the 4-legged boobytrap like a hawk, trying to pick my line to avoid disaster when I heard Margot start to issue commands in her plummy, clipped, middle class voice;

"You're on the wrong side. For goodness sake get on the correct side. You'll trip us both over, you silly boy."

As we continued towards each other I thought to myself that rather than having a conversation with the dog, maybe a shorter lead or some shorter instructions ("heel" for example) might be more expedient. I looked up at her and realised:

She was talking to me.

As we passed, I was laughing uncontrollably. I don't think it helped the situation much, but some things are just too funny to keep a straight face, even when you're knackered.

I suspect that I'll have a few weeks off after 17th April, but then I'll be running again. The laughter is just too much to give up.

NDC

Thursday, 31 March 2011

All the news that's fit to print.

I know this is going to make me sound very very old, but I remember a time when the BBC news was read by a slightly cross looking elderly gentleman/lady with a plummy Oxbridge accent and a vaguely superior air about them. They didn't give me their opinion, or ask me to look at their blog, or leap about in front of fancy graphics. Their job was to disseminate the facts to the viewer. Nothing more, nothing less.

I liked that, it was how the news was supposed to be. There was no sitting on the edge of the desk in a matey "How you doin' " fashion, no slightly risqué flirty chats with their co-presenter (yes, they've turned into presenters now), they just sat behind a desk and told me about things that had happened. The responsibility of opinion was on me. Lovely.

As a result of this I haven't really used the BBC as my main source of news for a while. I know that they all pretty well follow the same format now, but it somehow seems so much easier to deal with when it's not the BBC that is talking to me like we're old mates.

Having said all of that, I was led via a link earlier this morning to the BBC news website. It's worth a look today for entertainment purposes alone.

On the right hand side of the page are a couple of interesting features:

The "Top Stories" box includes news that the editors of the BBC site (I guess) think are particularly noteworthy. Today these include stories about the Japanese nuclear meltdown, concerns over prison procedures and skulduggery in the G20. Pretty much what you'd expect.

Further down the page is "Most Popular". Most of the above appear in this list as you would expect, at position 4, 9 and 3 respectively. So what is the number 1 most popular story on the BBC website?

"Vandal attack on Clarkson fence."

Despite all that's going on in the world, the thing we most want to hear about as a group is the strife poor old Jezza is suffering at the hands of the local hoodies.

And then it occured to me that maybe the BBC is just having to give us what we want. Innit.

NDC

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Napoleon Dynamite.

Last night The Boy Wonder stayed over at Reality Towers. There was laughing and pizza and den building a go-go.

What follows is a classified transcript of the campaign briefing in the command centre* at Reality Towers, 19.05hrs zulu time.

++++Personnel present:++++

Commander Vert Wheeler (AKA The Boy Wonder)
Agent Bumblebee (AKA Daddy)
Corporal Doggy (AKA Doggy, a small soft toy)

++++++++

Agent Bumblebee - OK Commander Vert, what's the plan?

Commander Vert Wheeler - Well, we'll drive around in our cars and then we'll drive into a big storm and fly and then we'll find the baddies and then we'll stop them from being badddies.

AB - That sounds like a brilliant plan, Commander. How will we stop them being baddies?

CVW - Well, we'll tell them that we don't like baddies and that we'll take away their cars and that we know Doctor Who and then we'll drive into the big storm and our cars will turn into robot planes and we'll fly away from the baddy boys.

AB - Sounds foolproof commander, let's go!

CVW - Yes! And then when we've beaten the baddies we can have a nice picnic.**

Corporal Doggy - Woof.

++++SitRep ends++++Classified+++++Eyes Only+++++

I'm no military expert, but I think as campaign strategies go this one was unorthodox to say the least.

Although, and maybe this is just my middle class upbringing, I do think that perhaps more of the world's conflicts would be settled more expediently if The Geneva Convention had a clause stating that all combatants would be taken on a picnic after hostilities are concluded.

After all, who wouldn't get a wiggle on to get to sit on a tartan blanket in the sunshine eating quiche a little bit earlier?

NDC


* - OK, the "command centre" was actually a kingsize duvet and 2 towels hung over a clothes airer.
** - At this point Agent Bumblebee almost forgot his military training and collapsed into a fit of giggles.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Normal service will be resumed shortly

I had planned to write something up for tonight, but today has been a rum old day and I simply can't be arsed.

Today was just too meh for words, it was a crap day generally, too many minor failures, disappointments and tribulations. I didn't even get to see or talk to the lovely FMA today.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't have to deal with any reactors going into meltdown or have to fend off any tinpot dictators today, so I'm ahead of the game compared to a fairly sizeable chunk of the world's population.

But, in short, today has been a day that I am glad has passed from the future to the past via the pinch of the now.

Yes, I know that there are an alarming quantity of swearwords peppering this post (and yes, I know I am posting despite saying that I couldn't be arsed), but that does pretty well sum up the day.

Tomorrow will be another day, the sun will shine and Wednesday 23rd March 2011 can just jolly well feck off. And I feel so much better for having written this.

And now I am going to bed with a good book, a coffee and a biscuit.

NDC

Monday, 21 March 2011

999

Well well well, first of all it's the census and now Auntie Gwen is getting all governmental and wanting to know stuff about her bloggy neighbours.

The main difference is that I know the lovely AG won't eventually sell my details to BigBusiness Inc., resulting in me being bombarded with 'Tailored Marketing' for stuff I don't want to buy. (although I suspect The White Company might get my details out of AG for the small consideration of soft furnishings. Every woman has her price).

Anyhoo, on to the nitty gritty;

3 names I go by:
Andy (most everyone calls me this), Andrew (my Sunday name, it still makes me nervous) and MFN. Don't ask.

3 places I've lived:
North Leicester, South Leicester and Cloud Cuckoo Land. Adventurous sort, aren't I?

3 Places I've worked:
I've worked in the UK, France and Germany (amongst others), although the non-UK places were all a few days at a time.

3 things I love to watch:
The start of Formula One races, Films that involve car chases and explosions (if the cars explode whilst being chased, so much the better) and drunk people.

3 places I have been and loved:
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, a small restaurant on the edge of Lake Vattern in Sweden and the Purist Route on Bristly Ridge.

3 people that email me regularly:
My business partner, a chap who apparently has a lot of money that he'd like to get out of (insert African country here) and will reward me handsomely for my bank details and a company in Russia that is very concerned about the girth of my penis (ahem).

3 things I love to eat:
Bosciola olives, freshly baked ciabbatta and a really good bacon sandwich (with tomato sauce, naturally)

3 things I am looking forward to:
April 17th (the London Marathon), April 18th (no more training for the London Marathon) and a much needed holiday somewhere sunny.

So that's it. You now know more about me than you did before. Is that a good thing? Well, you'll have to decide that.

And I'm quite restricted on the people to tag in this part (gimme a break, I'm new to this blogging malarkey!), so let's go with Laura, The Colonel (yeah, right!) and O.Bliss

NDC

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Seventh Deadly Sin

Last night was parent's evening, the first since The Boy Wonder started 'proper school'.

He and I had spoken about it briefly on the phone a couple of nights ago and there was great excitement in his voice. I asked him if his teacher would say that he'd been a good boy. There was a pause. Quite a long one. "She might say I had a time out* once or twice".

I hoped for the best and prepared myself for the worst.

After waiting an interminably long period of time on unfeasibly small chairs in a room at the school that could only be described as Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen's nightmare made real (Small children do love primary colours, don't they?) we were summoned in see the teacher.

As we wandered through the door I looked down at TBW. I could see the look of apprehension on his face. and realised that the fun and games we had been enjoying in the holding pen had evaporated from his mind. I remembered my less-than-stellar school career and the sinking feeling of parent's evenings, squeezed his hand and smiled at him.

His teacher is fantastic. She was warm and freindly and clearly has a huge amount of time for TBW. He is doing incredibly well and is way ahead of the game in reading, writing and 'rithmetic.

When I started writing this blog I thought that it'd be nice for him to read one day when he's older. I'm now concerned that I've already set the reading age too low for his current abilities.

Yes I know that it's one of the seven cardinal sins, but I don't care. I honestly think I might burst with pride.

You, Sunshine, mean the world to me. Fact.

NDC

* - If you have kids under 8 you will know what this is. 
For those of you with kids between 8 and 15 think equivalent to  'The Naughty Step'. 
For those with kids between 16 and 20 think equivalent to  'A Good Telling Off'. 
For those of you without kids and older than 35 think equivalent to 'A Clip Round The Ear And Bed With No Tea'.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Got ma lip busted fightin', now there's blood on my top.

No, not me.

I refer of course to the wonderfully talented Plan B. I'm going out running in a short while (not just in daylight, but in actual sunshine!) and 'Always Stay Too Long' (the song from which the lyrics in the title are lifted) is my favourite track to run to, by an 8 minute mile.

It's been a long winter of runs. The ever increasing distance needed to stick to the training schedule is starting to get tedious. When you have been running for 3 hours even being shouted at by hookers is a welcome distraction (although I could have managed without seeing a fat man in just his pants watching television thankyouverymuch).

Yes, both of these things actually happened to me. On one run.

I'm hoping that now the nights are getting lighter and the weather is getting warmer I can summon up a little more enthusiasm for the training, find some of the spark that has gotten me this far. I know that come April 17th it will all be worthwhile, but right now a bit less time plodding along the mean streets of LE and a bit more time sitting on my arse with a glass of vino and the right company is a very appealing concept.

Despite the best efforts of Plan B, prostitutes and portly persons, my resolve is waning.

NDC

Edit:- This was due to be fired into the ether at 5.20pm and I was intending to be running by 6.30ish. Cue one stressy phonecall and voila! Post left hanging and I'm running in darkness at 7.30. Joy.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Facebook Lunacy.

I have a facebook account. Every now and then I post something to it. Usually it is fairly vacuous (stop sniggering at the back), sometimes it might be vaguely amusing and very, very occasionally there may be something useful in what I post.

Generally I use it to keep up with old friends, just to see what is happening in their lives. I suspect I am a fairly crap facebook friend because I read way more than I write.

But I have noticed a worrying new trend. People are now setting up facebook accounts for their pets. Admittedly I may have missed something on the news, some genetic breakthrough that has, for the first time, allowed Tibbles to operate the keyboard and therefore share their thoughts, opinions and concerns with the world via social networking. But I doubt it.

I doubt that Tibbles would really post "Just come back from the vet's with less than I went with. I am cross with mummy and daddy. Me-ow!" *

I suspect it would more likely be "Just had my nuts chopped off and it was sanctioned by those two feckers that I just about tolerate because they feed me."

I can't wait for HRH's corgis to share their first status update.

"If I get caviar for dinner one more time this week, I swear I will crap in Liz's slippers."

Andy likes this.

NDC

* - this is an actual, genuine post. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

I Need To Get High



Today my MBX and general raggedy-edged partner in crime sent me an email. The subject line merely contained the question "Need a break?". The body of the email just contained the picture at right.

It was enough.

It made me realise how long it's been since we were in the hills. He has had a few problems with his heel (because he is very old) and I have had a huge amount of time taken up with training runs for the London marathon (because I am very stupid). Roll on May, when the running will be done.

I miss the singlemindedness of a day on the rocks. The sharpness of the ridge doesn't care if you are concentrating or not. The weather does not give a fig about your happiness, or comfort, or welbeing. It is a beautiful contrast to the cotton-wool wrapped life that we all live.

The pic was taken last year on Bristly Ridge, in the Lakes. A day of adrenaline soaked sunshine, punctuated with incendiary smiles and manic laughter.

And for the record, I am the one with the unfeasibly pasty legs.

NDC

Monday, 7 March 2011

Because It's There.

Early start at the office for me today.

I was sitting at the main office PC, coffee in hand, trying to resolve an accounts problem hung over from Friday when the Business Partner breezes in.

BP is a man of few words. Conversations are a means of getting from A to B as quickly as possible. There should be no shilly-shallying or meandering. Any deviation from the original purpose of the exchange (and boy, there'd better be a purpose) is generally met with silence or, if he's really feeling chatty, a grunt.

Last week I managed to find out that he was planning to head to the Peak District for an organised walk over the weekend, so I thought I'd ask how it went;

Me - "Morning."
BP - "Morning."
Me -"How was the Peak District?"
BP - "Crap. It pissed down all day."
Me -"Oh dear. So not fun then?"
BP - "No."
Me -"Ok,"(by this point it's become a personal challenge to keep it going...)"Well, it does rain a lot up there, maybe next time the weather will be better."
BP - "Oh, I don't mind the rain, but I fucking hate walking uphill."

And thus we arrive at point B.

NDC

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sid Vicious will be spinning.

Glasvegas, a Glaswegian post-punk outfit are playing Rock City in Nottingham in May. They sing about fighting and shagging and being angry about stuff. They also swear a lot.

The lovely Future Mrs Adventures is a big fan and decided that it would further my musical education to see them live. We decided to book tickets.

£7.00 a pop, so we decide to take along the family.

To a Glasvegas gig.

The youngest (who went to see Justin Bieber on Friday) was warned that crowd surfing was off limits.

At this point I desperately wanted to email the frontman of this hard drinking, foul mouthed, system-smashing group to tell him his gig was the subject of a full on family outing. He would have cried into his cocaine*, I'm sure.

Luckily for the mighty Glasvegas, it turned out that due to an advertising error the tickets were in fact £15.00, which was a bit pricey.

After all, we'd spent rather a lot over the weekend on an iPad and some rather lovely soft furnishings.

Sorry Sid, it looks like it was all for nothing.

NDC

*- This is purely for comic effect. I'm sure he's never touched the stuff.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Talk Wrench

I am a bloke.

This is a fact. I know this for certain because I have just returned from taking a wizz standing up and I still have dry shoes (there is other supporting evidence too, but I'll keep that to myself thankyouverymuch).

I also score very highly on the "engineer" spectrum.

These 2 contributory factors have served me pretty well throughout my life. If something needed fixing (and assuming it didn't rely on the evil black magic that is electricity), I would fix it. If something didn't need fixing I would probably take it apart to see why not and then just 'fix it' for the sake of it.

In short, life has equipped me well. The ability to take stuff apart (being a bloke) has been balanced with the ability to put it back together (being an engineer). Inanimate mechanical objects are my playground.

However.

When it comes to human beings (particularly those of the opposite sex), the rules change.

I know that I can't fix every problem. I know that even if I could there is not a requirement for it in every single situation. I know that sometimes I just need to STFU and listen.

Knowing these things and actually enacting them are two very different things. Does anyone know of a good manual?

Or should I just fiddle with my toolbox less?

NDC

Thursday, 24 February 2011

How Rude.

Today I took a phone call from a company trying to sell me a marketing opportunity.

I probably get around 5 of these calls per week, usually telling me that for a very reasonable (undisclosed) sum, the caller will:

  • Get me onto the front page of google*
  • Put me in a catalogue to be sent out to 3 kerzillion companies who will all be forming a queue to buy my goods*
  • Introduce me to lots of gullible people who want to buy my company for several times its true worth*
* - Delete as applicable.

Which is fine. I am quite adept at dealing with these calls in a brief but courteous manner. Today's call however, took me by surprise.

Once we had cut through the doublespeak, half truths and weasel words that characterise these conversations, it transpired that the caller was wanting to sell me a Facebook group.

Yes, the face you're pulling now is probably very similar to the one I pulled. I laughed quite a lot for quite a while.

The girl making the call took umbridge at this and castigated me. "There's no need to be rude." she said in hurt tones.

I just wish I could have stopped laughing for long enough to get the price.

NDC

Monday, 21 February 2011

Point of Origin


Do you ever go home? 

I mean really, really go back to a place that is special to you?

On Saturday I was driving out to do some shopping for stuff and the journey took us past the house where I spent almost all of my childhood. I hadn't been back since we helped my Dad move out several years ago.

It was built by my Dad (with help from my favourite uncle, who is no longer around) and holds so many happy memories of childhood for me. 

As we pulled up in front of the drive I was surprised to see the place looking almost exactly the same as when we left it. It looked tidier than when my Dad (a builder, remember) lived there, but the house itself and even the front garden looked almost exactly the same as I remembered. 

We sat for a while, I shared a few memories with FMA and as we talked a car drove down the road and pulled up on the drive. The passenger door opened, a little girl ran round the side of the car and bounded up onto the step in front of the door. The way she did it reminded me of how my little sister used to make the same journey from car to house, it was quite startling and caught me a little off guard.

At the time I seriously considered going to talk to the guy locking the car, explaining who I was and asking if I could have a little look inside. Englishness got the better of me and I decided against it to avoid embarrassment. I'm still not sure if I would have wanted to see inside or not.....

They went in and I smiled at the idea that a new family are now making their own happy memories in that place, and I wondered if in another 30 years time one of them would be sitting where I sat.

There is a advertising line from a very high-end watch company that I love:

"You never actually own a Patek, you just look after it for the next generation".*

I think the same applies to homes.

NDC



* - If Patek Phillipe would like to sponsor this post, a Nautilus would be lovely. Not too fussed about the blingy diamonds, but white gold for preference. Thank you.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A Damn Good Screw

Last night I was laying in bed with The Future Mrs Adventures. We were looking at new bedroom furniture on the World Wide Wasteroftime and the subject of Ikea came up.

I love Ikea with a passion. In my dim and distant past I was trained as an engineer (which is a bit like being trained as a Shaolin Monk, but without the fancy moves or natty orange trousers), so the way in which the Swedish outfit designs its furniture to be cheap to produce and easy to assemble by Joe Public with nothing more than an allen key and a 5 minute attention span just fascinates me. IMHO Genius is not too strong a word.

I found myself telling my lovely Other Half all about how they actually manufacture non-standard screws for their equipment to save money on materials, and how because of the huge volumes that they use, it is a worthwhile engineering exercise vs buying a standard screw... .

In bed.

Ladies, please form an orderly queue.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A few more miles on the clock

Yesterday morning I set off in glorious sunshine for the longest run I have managed so far - a total of 16 (and a bit) miles.

The first couple of miles were along country roads without pavement which, as usual, bordered on an extreme sport. White vans and hot hatches competed to see who could get closest to the idiot jogger without actually accruing points or a prison sentence. You will be pleased to know that this time White Van Man took the laurels with a masterful display of speed and proximity.

Once I had run the gauntlet of the traffic I skittered down to the towpath to the canal and set off southwards.

The transition from traffic-ridden country roads to empty towpath was startling. The air was almost completely still and the only sounds were my feet hitting the ground, birds singing and the occasional splash of something unidentified making itself scarce before I got a view of whatever it was.

The canal was millpond flat, reflecting perfectly the azure blue sky with impossibly beautiful white clouds hanging weightlessly. On some sections, where the towpath ran close to the water, it was like running on the sky itself.

As I ran my mind wandered to various subjects and a number of truths struck me

  • The beauty of a house's location will be directly proportional to the amount of junk in the garden
  • Swans are not particularly competitive. I challenged a number of them to a race to the next tree/bridge/bend . I won every single time.
  • Ditto narrowboat drivers (are they called drivers?)
  • I, however, would seem to be way too competitive (see above)
  • The size of the passing dog is inversely proportional to the likelihood of it attacking you.
  • The beauty of the potential photograph is directly proportional to the distance you are away from your camera.
  • I will never use Lucozade energy gels again.
The last couple of miles were really tough, with Team Hot Hatch making sterling efforts to even the score. When I finally stopped my legs felt as heavy as lead. I was not a well boy.

And come the big day I will have another 10 miles to run. Yikes!

But all my suffering (oh, the humanity!) was put into context when I found out about the events that had occured whilst I was out. I wished I could have done more, wished I could have said the right things to the people affected, wished I could have made more of a difference.

I know we all run our own races, but on some parts of the course it's so much easier to be running in a team.

NDC 

Friday, 11 February 2011

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Middle-Class Crack 32/365


Middle-Class Crack 32/365
Originally uploaded by geezer742uk
Olives and feta cheese. From Waitrose. In a Volvo.

Oh dear god, I've turned into a cliche.

Hippy? Me? Pah.

As I type this I am sitting in my office. There are Alpine-scale mountains of paperwork on my desk and a national-sporting-event volume of people that I need to call. This is not an unusual situation if the truth be known, both paperwork and workload appear to be generated by forces far more effective at delivering work than I am at clearing it.

But today the sun is shining and I am happy.

It feels like Mother Nature has dusted off her spring wardrobe and is trying on her favourite frock from last year. Oh, I know that this is very probably a fleeting glimpse before she hauls on her heavy grey coat again for another few weeks of crap cold weather, but the day seems all the sweeter for its transience.

The sunshine brings the promise of warm evening runs in daylight.
Of days in the hills with a lower than 90% chance of rain.
Of visiting new places and seeing new things.
Of finding a comfortable happiness.
Of sitting outside in the evening with a cold beer or glass of vino with the right person.

All these things combine to create a powerful feel-good drug. And I am hooked.

This year is going to be a good year, not just for me, but you too. I've said it now so it must be true.

And in 10.5 months you can tell me I'm right.

NDC

Friday, 4 February 2011

Fight The Power 28/365


Fight The Power 28/365
Originally uploaded by geezer742uk
I am a middle aged man with a Volvo.

Deep down inside however still beats the same heart that, at seventeen, made
me do a lot of very silly things in the name of rebellion.

The picture at right is my car. Parked in a space clearly marked "Lord Mayor
Only". (It's painted on the parking space, you can't see it due to 1.5
tonnes of middle-class hardware obscuring the view. But trust me, it was
there). It was like a flashing beacon, calling out across the years to my 17
year old self - "The Man is saying you can't park there. You're not going to
stand for that, are you?"

My travelling companion was like a cat on hot bricks about the whole heinous
crime. Me? I desperately wanted the Big Cheese himself to turn up and ask me
to move. As it turned out, our esteemed leader didn't actually appear, so I
guess it qualifies as a victimless crime.

Yes I know it's childish, yes I know that I should know better at my age and
yes I know that it was entirely pointless.

But the small part of my heart that will forever be seventeen was happy.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Dreams are made of this

I miss my dreams.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I used to have the most magnificently vivid dreams. They ranged from the downright bizzare to the terrifyingly horrific and occasionally took a detour through the strangely realistic (you know, the ones where you wake up not sure if you were dreaming or whether you really had been downstairs in the kitchen watching the kettle boil. Being stared at by a penguin). They all had one thing in common though.

They entertained me hugely.

Maybe the events of the last year have affected my sleep patterns to such an extent that the part of my subconscious that deals with dreams has decided that my life is mental enough in reality and it just can't compete.

Its current strategy is to wait until I'm just about to drop off to sleep and then bombard me with the minutiae of the day/week/month. This means that on occasion I am awake and considering in great detail the pros and cons of changing the route I drive to work (seriously) in the wee small hours. 3am blog posts are a distinct possibility.

I'll be happy when the penguin is back.

NDC

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Insanity


Insanity
Originally uploaded by geezer742uk
This is London Marathon Race Director David Bedford. A very well
respected and senior figure in one of the largest sporting events in
the world.

He is wearing a dress.
And high heels.
And a feather boa.
And a bin bag.

DB was on stage in front of around 200 people at the Meet The Experts
day and was hugely entertaining.

The previous couple of hours was filled with a stream of very
knowledgeable people giving advice on subjects ranging from nutrition
and training (fascinating), to Virgin's corporate strategy behind
their website (yaaaawn), to what to expect on the day (yikes!). The
common threads through all of the above presentations were
professionalism, expertise and polished corporate slickness.

So, given David's seniority and august status within the hierarchy of
the VLM, I was expecting great things.

I will share with you the nugget of advice, culled from DB's many
years of marathon experience, that I enjoyed the most. And I quote:

"if you decide to shag yer missus wearing your finisher's medal, make
sure you sling it behind your neck. It's made of metal and you'll
knock her bloody teeth out if you don't."

He even put on a medal and got down on hands and knees on the stage to
demonstrate. Just in case any of the audience were struggling to
visualise the concept.

I am writing this on a train hurtling northward and I am still
cackling to myself.

Thankyou David, you were worth the journey alone. In a world of
corporate-sponsored, on-message platitudes, you'll do for me.

NDC