Monday, 26 March 2012

High As a Kite

For some time my hiking buddy and I have been threatening to get back to the hills. We've had numerous planned jaunts that have crashed and burned over the past 12 months due to various unforseen circumstances, but last Saturday the planets aligned and we found ourselves in North Wales standing at the blunt end of a mountain.

In the past our excursions have been to the more esoteric* peaks and ridges of this sceptered isle, but my hiking buddy's heel had been giving him some trouble and he wasn't sure quite how it was going to hold up. The last thing I wanted was to be wasting the last few hours of daylight waiting for the Mountain Rescue team to arrive, so we decided that liberal use of Ibuprofen and a nice easy route was the order of the day.

We chose Snowdon. On the sunniest day of the year so far. Via the easiest route.

Normally when we are in the hills I can count the number of people we will meet throughout the day on the fingers of one hand. A combination of shite weather and scarily rugged terrain means that only the committed, or those that should be committed, are out and about. That's just how I like it.

But not this Saturday. Oh no. On this day the sun shone and you couldn't have thrown a rock in any direction without hitting several nutters.

 Follow me, if you will, on a pictorial journey through the inhabitants of Wales' highest peak.

First up is this lady. She is sporting a very outdoors-y combination of high heeled sandals and a Lidl bag. I believe this is the 'classic' mountaineering outfit as popularised by Chris Bonnington during the 70s. Personally, I would have left the weekly shop in the car.

This couple are far better prepared for any eventuality. Note the appropriate clothing and baggage. As you will also note, the guy has even gone to the effort of putting a backup dog in his pack. Should there be a problem with his primary dog (currently walking alongside), they still have a dog in reserve. Very sensible.

Honestly, WTF?

Especially entertaining is the shadow cast by someone a little further down the trail. The purple dude does look very pleased to be chatting to the chap in the blue coat.

Honourable mentions (but sadly no photo) also go to:

  • The well-to-do elderly couple, he in deck shoes, she in high-heeled wedges, both with cashmere sweaters draped artfully over their shoulders.
  • The young girl walking in stockinged feet, Converse Allstars in hand.
  • A chap who looked like Gandalf's more wizened elder brother, complete with staff two feet taller than him, slogging up the hill and swearing like a trooper.

If you ask me, even though we were all at the same altitude, some of us were higher than others.


* - E-so-ter-ic. adj. The types of peaks and ridges where people rope themselves together, in order to stop the sane ones from running away.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Alea Iacta Est


This post is really a marker for me, to record how I feel at this point in time, something for me to read back later with the benefit of hindsight. It goes on a bit, so if you're in a rush here's an executive summary for you:

Executive Summary

I have a new job. I'm quite pleased.


Last week I got an offer of a job. In actual fact I have had two job offers and a further two request to attend interviews (one of which resulted in a very definite ending of bonhomie between two employment agencies, but that's another story).

So I have accepted the job. I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy to be going to work for the company who want to employ me and god knows I'll be happy (read: delirious with joy) to be able to knock off at 5pm and take holidays without feeling hugely guilty that I should be in the office 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

I'll be happy that if customer Joe Soap decides to do a bunk to Portugal without paying his account (as happened last week) then there will be a team of people that will chase the bastard down and make him pay.

I'll be happy that if my PC (or anybody else's) goes belly up in the middle of the day I (or they) will just use another one until the IT fairies fix it rather than me having to stop what I already don't have time to do and do it myself.

I'll be happy that I won't have to worry about whether George Osborne has decided to change the rates/thresholds on PAYE or NI contributions and I haven't noticed.

I'll be happy that I won't have to try to explain in calm tones to a customer that although he is sure that he's only had the boots for 'a couple of months' but can't find the receipt, the boots have clearly been worn for at least a year whilst digging footings on a building site (or possibly used in combat in Syria) and that no, he can't have a replacement pair for free because they're now 'a bit uncomfortable'.

Most of all I will be happy to not have to witness any more semi-naked builders trying on shirts, or worse *shudder*, trousers.

But it still feels like giving up.

I know that trading conditions have been tough since we started in 2008, and I genuinely believe that had the BP and I not been here the business would have disappeared a couple of years ago. We have had to make difficult decisions that ultimately kept the company afloat. I know that in a more buoyant economy we would be set fair and that we would be able to be pushing for growth from a sound foundation. All this doesn't change the fact that when I decided to go into business for myself there were two primary aims:

  • Make more money than I could working for other people.
  • Have more fun.
The ideal was both of those things, but one or the other would be acceptable. When I realised that neither of those objectives had been met for some time, and weren't likely to be met in the foreseeable future I decided it was time to rethink the plan. So, in a couple of weeks, the BP will take over the running of the business and I will be off to work for The Man again.

And the thing that makes me feel the most guilty of all is that I'm genuinely looking forward to it.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

A Busy Day

Today's to do list

Sit in a traffic jam for an hour þ

Wee in a pot þ

Watch a man shake pot vigorously and peer into it þ

Have man tell me in cheerful tones that I am not a drug abuser þ

Sit in another traffic jam þ

Get insulted by an old man (Note: Not wee-pot man) þ

Go to parents evening

Eat pizza and drink wine

As you can see, my day is definitely heading in the right direction now.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012


I have just dipped a toe into the murky world of Twitter trends.

It is now my strongly held belief that teachers should spend more time explaining the difference between their/there/they're.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Like Water Flowing Downhill....

The Boy Wonder has had Chickenpox this week.

We had long discussions about the importance of not scratching the spots to ensure that he doesn't end up with a load of scars. He told me that his Mum had already told him all about it and that he wasn't scratching at all. He did mention that sometimes his clothes rub against his skin though. I told him that it was OK, there wasn't much he could do about that. Don't worry.

He's a pretty compliant sort and will respect the rules if they're clear, but he's inherited my tendency to understand the rules of the game and find ways to work within them to get the desired result.

During our time together I can honestly report that he did not scratch. Not once.

What he did do every 5 minutes however, was what I can only describe as an amalgamation of The Funky Chicken, The Macarena and several Bruce Lee movies in order to make his clothes rub against his skin 'sometimes'.

I think at some point we'll schedule a discussion on the differences between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.


Monday, 12 March 2012

London to Brighton

Here we go again.

Some time ago The Tall Guy* and I were in conversation in the kitchen. Somehow the subject got around to cycling and The London to Brighton bike ride.

I told him that I'd done it a few years ago and told him what a great day it was. He said that he quite fancied a go at it (he cycles a good few miles every morning except Sunday, rain or shine), so we registered on the British Heart Foundation website. I went back to drinking coffee and eating biscuits, he carried on going out to parties and eating the stuff that McDonald's markets as food.

Time passed. 

Last weekend we sat in the same kitchen, booked our places online and chatted about cars for a while. I drank some more coffee and ate some more biscuits, he went to some more parties. I assume there may have been more McDonalds, but I couldn't swear to it.

No problem I thought, I remember last time. I hadn't cycled in years at that point and my training schedule consisted of dragging my bike out of the garage, putting some new tyres on it and riding to the end of the road and back to make sure nothing fell off. Dead easy.

This morning I worked out that the last time I did it was in fact ten years ago. So I think maybe I should put in a few training miles. Either that or persuade someone really really old to do it with us.

Although the positive side of being ten years older is a more mature attitude to life. This time around I will do my level best to resist the temptation of hurtling between two cyclists just as they close in to each other in order to cross the finish line holding hands, sending them wobbling off in opposite directions at the critical moment. One of them may have crashed, my recollection is a little hazy.


* - The Tall Guy is a top bloke. Funny, intelligent and a heart of gold. He's also my stepson.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Happy Days

There it is.

This morning I had a few deliveries to make, and my weapon of choice for the task was my trusty Volvo. Yes, I know it's horrifically uncool to like Volvos, but I am unconcerned by such things. I care not one jot. My barney is not bothered*. I give not a fig. You can barely move for the amount of fucks I do not give. It's an ace car and I will brook no argument on the matter.

One of the many many wonderful things about it is tucked away in the little cubby hole/armrest between the front seats, which was probably designed to accomodate a fondue set, a member of ABBA or some other essential Swedish accoutrement.

A USB port.

This means that I can connect my iphone to the car's sound system and have my crap choice in music rattling the windows. It's quite a good sound system and on full volume it has the ability to frighten small dogs and pensioners at 50 paces.

So this morning's playlist was as per the photo at top. I put it together yesterday and it contains nothing but tracks I can sing** along to in a wildly overenthusiastic manner. Some tracks even get full-on mimes of the singer responsible (Mick Jagger, I'm looking at you) and "chicca wah" style guitar breaks by yours truly at 70mph.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's my soundtrack for the morning. I was quite surprised at just how many of the words I remembered. By the time I was back in the office I was as happy as a dog with, well.....tails. Yes, a dog with two tails.

Shake Me Down - Cage The Elephant
Jump Into The Fog - The Wombats
Beautiful Day - U2
Nem Vem Que Nao Tem - Wilson Simonal
Underdog - Turin Brakes
Pass Out - Tinie Tempah
Honky Tonk Women - Rolling Stones
Rewired - Kasabian
Gold On The Ceiling - The Black Keys
Italian Leather Sofa - Cake
Burn Baby Burn - Ash
Mardy Bum - Arctic Monkeys
Kate - Ben Folds Five
Ain't No Rest For The Wicked - Cage The Elephant
Ooh La - The Kooks

Sadly missing is Voodoo Child by Hendrix. I have several versions of it, most of which he's playing whilst ripped to the tits on various recreational pharmaceuticals and I couldn't find the (slight return) version before I left the office. It will be fixed.

Today is a good day.


* - This is one of the FMA's colloquialisms from north of the border. I hope I said it right...
** - Shout.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Swings & Roundabouts

Today started in the most miserable of fashions.

Outside the sky was sullen and heavy, rain hunching the shoulders of those unfortunate enough to be in Mother Nature's company. Inside things were equally leaden, the unhappiness of loved ones like dark clouds.

I left the house feeling unsettled and adrift, a rain-slicked world doing little to assuage my mood.

Later, I saw a Chinese guy on a fold-up bike cycling in the rain at 2mph holding a pink umbrella. With a frilly edge.

This afternoon we are on a holiday booking spree and I am going out to have pizza this evening. I am under strict instruction that the real world is off limits for tonight, so discussion will be limited to dinosaur swans and unicorns riding ponies. Unfortunately the juggling dwarves are already booked elsewhere.

Maybe the world ain't so bad after all.


Friday, 2 March 2012


Uncle Junior

Ever noticed that you never see them both in the same place at the same time?

Maybe it would've worked out better for Tony if he'd just bought a newspaper (I have no idea how it works out for Tony yet, I'm only on season 3, so no plot spoilers please).