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.


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.


* - 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.


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.


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.