Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Best Night Out in Ages...........And Arachnids Need Planning Permission.

Well, what a night. Last night was the second night of the Royal Oak Beer Festival weekend. For those of you that don't know, the Royal Oak is the pub in the village I used to live in - Okeford Fitzpaine.
My friends Nikki and Simon had very kindly said that I could sleep on their floor, which of course meant that I didn't have to worry about driving home, and could have a drink. Huzzah!!

The night was absolutely fabulous - I spent all my time wandering around catching up with all my friends that I knew when I lived in the village, and it was really lovely to chat to them. I must admit, I really do miss living in Okeford.

The Beer festival was a huge success, and the pub was packed out. Actually, most of the people were outside, as there was a real ale tent and a marquee for the live music in the pub garden. The music was great, and there were lots of people from far and wide there. There have been signs up advertising the beer Festival on roads at least 20 miles from Okeford Fitzpaine in every direction (except upwards or downwards), so it would have been known about by many people.

The night as a whole was a great success, but there was one moment of unpleasantness. I was on my way to the toilet and just outside the toilets, two men were having a heated argument - presumably about the young lady who was stood close by looking upset. From what I can gather, one of these men was the girls father, and the other was a "friend" of the girl, or possibly a boyfriend. Anyway, I passed them loudly exchanging differences of opinion and went into the toilets. Typically, as I am standing at the Urinal doing my thing, it all kicks off between these two blokes. The girl is screaming, people are saying "leave it lads!", and these two blokes are grappling with each other and swearing etc.

Well, I assume they were  - I was still at the Urinal unable to get away to see what was happening. I just couldn't wee fast enough. By the time I had finished and got out of the toilets it had all calmed down. Bizarrely, the only injury to anyone was suffered by the Pub landlady, who got bitten on the finger by one of the two men as she stepped in to separate them. Apparently it was severe enough to warrant an ambulance being called - an ambulance which then sat outside the pub for a good three hours. Rather a long time for a finger injury?

But apart from that incident, the night was brilliant - I had such a good time, caught up with some very very special people, and laughed loudly and long.

This morning, I was a little worse for wear. I drove home at 8:30 am and then composed myself and at about 9:30am drove to Yeovil for some retail therapy. On the way I sang very loudly and badly to the radio, but it was a beautiful day, and I was in a great mood - albeit with a stinking headache.
When I got into the car, I noticed a cobweb on my drivers door wing mirror. There had been a cobweb there the previous morning also - but I had removed that one. It was obvious that the spider that lives behind my wing mirror keeps building webs - but it never asks me if it can.

And that is the trouble with Spiders - they pay no regards to property rights or location limitations. They just build a web wherever they please. I can tell you something; the spider behind my wing mirror won't do that anymore - next time I see him, I'll tell him he needs to apply for planning permission in writing to the appropriate authorities - namely, me.

That may sound a bit extreme, but if you don't watch them, those spiders will really take the piss. It starts with a single web, but then there are extensions, and a summer house being put up. So, I have to keep them in check.

They are intelligent creatures , spiders - so I wonder how long it will be until we see this sort of thing:

You have been warned...........

I have had the best weekend I've had in a long long time. And to finish it off, I'm now going to watch The Lord of The Ring: The Fellowship of The Ring on Blu-Ray on my 42" TV.

I'm also going to eat a 230g bar of Cadbury's Whole Nut.

Life is good.  :-)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

People - Ugh!

Firstly, as a side note - don't you just love it when you open a rucksack, and find some Peanut M&M's in the bottom?

I very nearly went out tonight with out doing my blog - what was I thinking!? Fear not - I'm here, but I must be quick. So let me get to the point:

This is Milton Abbas, in Dorset. It is a famous and Beautiful village, which usually looks like it does in this picture. Very rural, serene, and peaceful. However, once every two years the good people of Milton Abbas open their doors (metaphorically speaking) to the world by holding a street fair. I have friends who live nearby who were going to be marshaling one of the entry gates today, and suggested I come along and check out this famous Street Fair. As they could get me in for free (saving me £6), I agreed.

At 2pm I drove to Milton Abbas, parked my car in a big field with lots of other cars and walked to the Street Fair. This is what I found:

There were people everywhere!! And they were all moving soooo slowly, with no apparent idea of where they were heading. There were various stalls lining the sides of the street, and it appeared to me that the slow moving horde around me, were happy to take an interest in the wares on offer simply be shuffling past, rather than actually walking over to a stall and taking a better look.

Oh Goody - MORE PEOPLE!!!
Within about 3 seconds of encountering this mindless swarm of humanity, I was ready to kill. People were walking so slowly, and then would every now and then change direction without warning. No-one said "excuse me", or "pardon me" they just barged past on their pointless quest of nothingness. Combined with this, some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to sell those Character helium balloons, so there were several children ambling through the throng with Winnie the Pooh, or Nemo floating above them. Of course, them being small children and me being 6ft 6' meant that I kept getting hit in the face by those wretched balloons. If I felt pooh touch my cheek once, it felt it a dozen times. Pun intended.

Pretty soon I had had enough, so I started to fight my way back to the entrance and freedom. However, I was distracted by a stall selling Hog Roast, which is very nice usually. I joined the queue in anticipation. However, anticipation soon turned to disgust as upon nearing the front of the queue I heard the large lady serving behind the counter say
"of course, two years ago they were giving out uncooked meat with blood coming out of it".

As you will understand, I made my excuses and left.

I must say that I really don't like crowds. Maybe it's the fact that I now live in a rural location with a smaller population, or it could just be the fact that people are awful in large numbers, and I don't like them.

Thankfully, I'm about to go out to a local Beer Festival and spend some quality time with some great people. I'm sleeping on a friends floor, so I can have a proper drink. Hooray!!

I'll fill you all in tomorrow on the fun I have tonight, and might even take some pictures!!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Weekend. Good.

I'm looking forward to this weekend, because amongst other things I will be:

Visiting friends for dinner

Going to a Beer festival

Going shopping for some new clothes

Going back to the Beer festival

Laughing loud and long with some top quality people

amongst other things.......

I hope your weekend is just as enjoyable!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Revenge of Frankenstein's Dinner, When Polite Conversation Goes Too Far, and Three Piece Suite is a Crowd.

I may have to dash off at a moment's notice. In the Bar of my stomach,  tonight's dinner is causing trouble and is in danger of being thrown out - through either the main entrance, or out the back with the rubbish (if you get my drift). What worries me is that it might try to leave by both exits at once.

 Tonight I finished off the second half of my now infamous "What's Left In The Cupboard" Bolognese - and I'm regretting it. I have a slight cramp, and my stomach is making some very odd gurgling noises. This "Frankenstein" of a meal, made up of individual components that never belonged together, is wreaking havoc. In the 1931 classic "Frankenstein", the monster is chased into old windmill, which is then set alight, burning the creature to death. Maybe a really hot curry would have the same effect on my 'creation', but I'm not prepared to try it.


I did have a nasty taste in my mouth though, so I decided to see if some chocolate might help. In my experience, chocolate can help with most things - sadness, frustration, loneliness, boredom, lack of inspiration, the controversial Evolution vs Creationism debate. You name it - chocolate can fix it.
So I am in Co-Op at the checkout, and I decide to buy some Lottery Tickets with my chocolate.  I don't mean pay for them with my chocolate - I mean buy the tickets as well as the chocolate.
Anyway, as the assistant is getting my tickets, the man queueing behind me says "You're not going to win you know - I am". Now, this is standard procedure. Whenever you are behind someone getting lottery tickets, you have to tell them that they can't win, because it is your turn. It's a kind of un-written rule. So I wasn't surprised when I heard this man say this to me.
Being a friendly kind of guy, I didn't punch him to the floor, but engaged in a brief light hearted conversation. Well it started out light hearted - but then I sort of spoilt the mood somewhat. We were going back and forth about how I was going to win, and him saying no he was etc. and then for some reason I said
"You watch me win. And when I do, I'm going to get publicity and when they give me the cheque on telly I'm going to look into the camera and say 'take that, bloke in the queue at Co-Op!'" And as I said that, I blew a raspberry.

And stuck two fingers up at him.

Right in his face.

I don't know why I did that. I just got a little carried away with the jollity and the friendliness of it all, and ended up insulting a complete stranger.

The smile on the man's face evaporated faster than.......the liquid that evaporates fastest in the whole world (Liquid Helium appears to be a contender), and all he said was "We'll see." I knew that I had overstepped the mark by a good mile or so, so I took my tickets, mumbled the words "no offence", and left as quickly as possible.

I tell you something - at this moment in my life, when it comes to making myself look like a complete git, I'm doing with both my eyes shut and one arm behind my back (metaphorically speaking).

When I moved into my home I bought a new 3 piece suite from DFS. I got a Three Seater Sofa, an Armchair and a Tub Chair. I fully intended to use all three pieces, but have discovered that I am actually neglecting one of them.

The Sofa
This is my sofa. The seat on the left is where I am sitting while I type this blog. It's also the seat where I watch TV, eat my dinner, and scratch myself.
I have actually had four people on this sofa once. Not in the biblical sense. But this sofa is the main seating object in my lounge. The stripy green cushions were purchased by me separately, and they go rather well with the curtains, don't you think?

Tub Chair
The Tub Chair is also in my lounge - but I don't sit on it myself. I keep it for visitors who don't want to sit next to me on the sofa, or for visitors who can't fit on the sofa with four of our already on it. When I recently had friends over too watch the Haye vs Klitschko fight, the tub chair was in prime location to see the action.
I wasn't sitting in it.

Armchair - neglected
 My Armchair is upstairs in my bedroom facing my bed. To be honest, as you can see, I use it as a dumping ground. At the moment it has a washing basket full of clean clothes on it, and the jeans a t-shirt I wore last night. It has only been sat in twice - once by me, and once by my mate Steve who said that one night he would break in and be sitting there looking at me when I woke up the next morning. In  just his pants.
I keep leaving my bedroom window open, but he never shows.

I feel a little bad about neglecting my Armchair - not only because I'm still paying for the Suite and should be getting all the use out of it I can, but also because the Armchair would be a good place to sit and write my blog, write some stand up, and do sign language. In the lounge it's too easy to distract myself by turning on the TV or the Wii

I think I'll try it out over the weekend. Who knows? I might be inspired to write something amazing.....

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Mmmmm...........Disgusting...........(Drooling Noises)

As of this moment I have a kitchen designed by Old Mother Hubbard.

I get paid on Friday, but until then I have no food that can be combined with anything else to make a meal. Tonight I used up my last bag of Mince and made what I called "What's left in the cupboard" Bolognese. Today's incarnation of this desperate meal was created thus:

  • Put Oil in a pan. Add 500g of lean mince and start to cook until brown.
  • Whilst the mince is browning, into a jug mix 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 small tins of tomato puree, a dollop of Reggae Reggae sauce, a few squirts of Reggae Reggae Relish, a big squeeze of Hot Dog mustard, a similar squeeze of Heinz Ketchup (it must be Heinz), a heaped teaspoon of English Mustard, a heaped teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, several splashes of Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce, salt, pepper, Oregano, Chives, Parsley, Paprika, Mixed Herbs, and the juice of 1 Lime. Mix this together, taste, and see if you can avoid vomiting.
  • Add this "sauce" to the Browned Mince and leave to simmer for as long as you think it will take for the risk of poisoning to be minimised.
  • In the meantime, write out a will and put on three handfuls of Pasta.
  • When the Pasta is cooked, remove from heat, cover and leave while you make the mince cook for a little bit longer - just to be on the safe side.
  • When you are sure that the mince is a little over cooked, serve over pasta, type the number for the emergency services into your phone ready for you hit "call",  and eat.
In all honestly, it didn't taste that bad. But apparently, neither does a bullet in the split second before you blow your brains out. My biggest concern is what this meal will do inside me - and on its way out. Hopefully, the damage will be minimal. I say hopefully, because I made a job lot of this stuff and am having for tea again tomorrow.

If I live that long.

For similar recipes, please see my latest cook book  titled "Larry's Kitchen of Death"

Of course, once I get paid normal service will be resumed, and I will be back to eating proper meals that can't potential kill me.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Just One Of Billions Of Rubber Bands? - But I'm My Own Rubber Band!

I have a theory about life, existence, and fate.

Life, The Universe, and Everything.
Above is a picture of a rubber band ball. You see how the rubber bands that make that ball cross and intersect one another in a thousand different ways? Now take that thought and multiply it by time, space, and infinity.

This is how I see it: All of us are on a path - our single rubber band that is a tiny part of the whole ball. Every day we make decisions - some consciously, some subconsciously. Some decisions are forced upon us by the actions of others, others we make based on our own perception of the actions of others. Many decisions are made irrationally, based on emotion - but every decision we make changes the direction of our existence. Where our rubber band intersects with another, is a direction change.
For example, let's look at one part of existence - relationships and love. It has been said that "There is someone for everyone". If you believe that, then you would agree that potentially two people, each on their own course (rubber band) in life, will ultimately intersect and meet. No matter what decisions either one makes, they are over time directed towards each other. It is fate, that brings them together. But what if you don't believe in fate? what if you believe in chance? What if you believe that if you leave your house and turn left instead of right, that you might miss the person of your dreams - or might meet them. Of if you leave home 5 minutes later than normal one day, miss your train and have to get the bus to work, who says that the love of your life might be sitting in the seat next to you on that journey into work.

I don't know if I believe in fate or not. At times I think that things happen for a reason - for example, the year my father died, I met one of the people I have ever felt closest too, and she was a massive influence on my life for the next five years. Our lives have taken us separate ways now, but we still keep in touch sporadically - but I think my meeting her was a kind of way of balancing out my life after the loss of my Father. Of course she didn't replace him - no-one could - but I had a loss, and then I had a gain, and although I can't explain it, that 'balancing' didn't happen to me by chance. That being said, I do like the concept that every decision we make from the grandest down to the seemingly insignificant, alters our existence.

If that is a little hard to understand, let me try and explain in a different way.

What if the physical world you know only exists as far as you can see or feel? What I mean is, if you are sat at home right now - like I am - and you can only see out of one window into your garden, what if there was nothing else? no street outside, no buildings, no people, no cars, no sky - nothing. Just a empty void - like on a blank piece of paper. Yes you can hear noises from the outside world - traffic, dogs barking, people talking etc. but how do you know they really exist?  There is a joke that the Queen thinks the entire world smells of paint, because everywhere she goes there is a team of people twenty feet ahead of her painting walls and making things look nice. What if the same applies to the world we perceive? What if the world we cannot see and interact with changes with every decision we make a split second before we can see it and interact with it? When you are walking down the street, or driving in your car, the world you perceive is being created around you as far as your vision and other senses allow - and the decisions you make, no matter how small alter how that world is created around you. If you stop in the street to tie your shoelace,  the young couple you would have walked into round the corner had you kept going, will now never be created, because you changed something. This is going a bit "Matrix" I know, but bear with me. There is another saying "you can't see the back of your head, but you know it is there" -  but how do you know? What if it is created the millisecond you start to reach round to feel it?

I'm not sure what I am trying to say, really. I guess from my own point of view, you can never tell where life will take you - or rather, where you will take you. I'm sure that some decisions I have made have taken me further away from happiness, just as others have changed my direction and brought me closer to happiness.

Well, I've sort of got an idea of the point I am trying to make. Don't see yourself as just one person on a planet of over six billion people - that's a concept that is too large to handle. Consider your world to be limited to what you can see, smell, hear, feel and taste - but know that YOU have the power to change your world, not some imaginary force called fate. We share our world with others that come into it - our partners, our parents, our siblings, our children, our friends. But they are all on their own journey too, and many leave our world and enter it through the course of our journey. Our lives and the lives of those around us intersect, and run parallel for a while, and then separate again - maybe temporarily, or for good. But we are in control - even though it may not feel like it.

scooch over. Deliberately put on an odd pair of socks. Leave for work five minutes later than usual.  Just do something a little differently - who knows what will happen?

I haven't been able to explain myself properly - I can't convey what I want to say. So let me sum it all up like this:

They say "Life is What You Make It".

So make it!!!

Monday, 25 July 2011

And What Exactly is Wrong With My Marrow???

I'm very proud to say that I am a Blood Donor - I've been giving blood every six months for the past three years. I'm also on the Organ Donor register, so that in the event of my death, someone else will be able to play music after me.

Of course, that's a joke - the music dies with me.

But I am on the Organ Donor register. And recently, to ensure that none of me goes to waste, I also registered to become a Bone Marrow donor. I decided to do this, after reading a leaflet whilst giving blood about it. I say reading - the leaflet was laid across my face as I couldn't move my arm. What about my other arm? That was bent behind my head for comfort. D'uh!
Anyway, this leaflet said that there was a shortage of Bone Marrow donors in the U.K. - and being a giving a sort of chap, I decided that I should do my bit and sign up. In due course, I was accepted on to the register. I didn't know when they would contact me to ask for some Bone Marrow, but I knew it wouldn't be long - after all, there is a shortage of Donors.
Well, the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months. Soon enough my next blood donor appointment came round, so I decided to be pro-active and ask one of the nurses when I might be contacted and asked to donate some Bone Marrow.

"Oh, well we might never ask you" replied the nurse, in a matter-of-fact way.

I was shocked and surprised at this answer to my question. They might never ask me? Why? Why would they not want my Marrow? It's as good any anyone else's - anyone else who has had their blood checked for suitability and have been accepted as a potential bone marrow donor - and didn't the leaflet say that there was a shortage of Donors?

I was struggling to get my head round this concept. There is a shortage of Bone Marrow Donors (apparently), and yet the BBMR - the British Bone Marrow Register - are picky about who they ask. How can this be? You don't sit there with loads cheques payable to you in your pocket, and then complain about not having any money? You would sell a really popular brand of washing powder, but keep all your stock in the warehouse and none on the shop floor?
I didn't understand - here I was, with my perfectly good Marrow sitting in my bones doing nothing, and there being a real need for Donors in the U.K., and yet no-one wanted to take it from me?

When I say my Marrow is "doing nothing", I mean apart from producing new blood cells, and being an important part of the Lymphatic system, especially good at preventing the back flow of Lymph. But apart from that, it is idle. You could say, Bone idle ha ha ha ha ha ha!!


So I don't know what is going on. Maybe the Bone Marrow donation process is like the bidding process for tickets to the 2012 Olympics - hundreds of thousands of people register, but very few actually get what they want. Maybe one day, they'll ask me to donate Bone Marrow which will ultimately be given to a arthritic Hamster, or a duck with rickets.

They keep my details on record until I'm 60 years old apparently - by which time, I'll be so brittle that if they take any Bone Marrow, my entire skeletal system will be likely to implode on itself.

I have good Bone Marrow - if anyone wants any, get in touch.

If you want to find out more about Giving Blood, or the Organ Donor Register, click Here

If you are reading this in the U.S.A. and want to know more about giving blood, click Here

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Crocs With Socks....and Beware The Hummingbird of Fear!!!

 I've just come back after nipping out to get some inspiration for my blog.

 Actually, that's not strictly true - I nipped out for some chocolate (there's a suprise), and hoped that in the time it would take me to walk to the shops and back, an idea would pop into my head like an alcoholic into an off-license - swiftly.

And would you believe it, it did! As a matter of fact, I was visited by the Penguin of Inspiration (I'll come back to him later on) before I even left the house. And please be advised that as I type this, several other ideas have sprung into my mind as a result of which, this post may be longer than originally planned.

But for the moment, back to my inspiration. I decided to not bother to put my trainers on for the walk to the shops, but instead to wear my crocs. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say - but would your opinion change if I told you that I was wearing socks with them?
My Crocs
I am well aware of the "Socks and Sandals" rule, but don't know if the same applies for crocs. So I took a chance, and went out in my crocs with socks on.
(Gasps of horror and disbelief from people reading this).
 I didn't feel "wrong" walking about in public with my socks in my crocs - but then the inevitable happened. When I went into the shop to but the chocolate, I almost walked into another customer - a customer that was wearing crocs - but no socks!! I looked at his crocs, with the pink of his skin showing through the holes, and he looked at mine, with the blackness of my socks seemingly oozing out of them. The look that that man gave me said it all. He was disgusted. I doubt  he could have looked at me worse if I had crapped in his coffee. Of course, no words were exchanged. None were needed. I simply turned away, paid for my chocolagte and hurried home. The moment I got in I kicked off the crocs, and have left them upturned and abandoned on the kitchen floor. I now know what a mistake I made, and will never make that mistake again.

I am looking at my socks as I type this, and have noticed that they are odd. I have taken a picture of them for you to illustrate the fact. I am not quite sure how this has happened. I mean I know why I am wearing odd socks - it is because I am colour blind, and in the early morning light with my bleary, half awake vision, the toes of these socks looked the same colour. However, these are not just socks with different coloured toes - they are Simpsons days of the week socks. Somehow I have managed to put a "Sunday" sock (on the left) with a "Monday" sock (I don't need to tell you which sock that one is, do I?). In theory, I should have paired these socks up by the day of the week, but for some reason I opted to trust my flawed colour recognition system.

Whenever I tell someone that I am colourblind, they always start questioning me about the colour of everyday objects, without waiting to find out which colours I have trouble with. You see, being colour blind doesn't mean that you can't see any colour, just that you have trouble with one or two. In my case, it is red and green. And I don't have trouble all the time - just on the odd occasion when a patch of grass might look red, or the red toe of a sock might look green. Inspite of this, the moment I say "I'm colourblind", people start saying "What colour is my car?" or "What colour is the sea?". It really gets tiresome. I'm not BLIND, just colour blind - and then only rarely, and only with green and red. Never once have I cut myself, seen the blood and thought "shit! I'm an alien!".

Earlier, I mentioned the Penguin of Inspiration. Many of you, will not be familiar with this bird, so allow me to explain his existence.
Originally, there was only one emotion associated bird - the Bluebird of Happiness. For years and years this bird was referred to in everyday conversation, and popular culture. But then, ornithologists  started associating other emotions with other species of bird. The next bird to find recognition was the Chicken of Depression, which became so famous as to be included in a cartoon by the renowned cartoonist Gary Larson:
And since then, scientists (not ornithologists - they gave up after the Chicken) have gone on to associate more and more emotions and similar feelings with birds. To date, the list includes the following:
  • The Penguin of Inspiration
  • The Flamingo of Embarrassment
  • The Cuckoo of Jealousy
  • The Bird of Paradise of Arrogance
  • The Puffin of Anger
  • The Ostrich of Apathy
  • The Eagle of Pride
  • The Swan of Vanity
  • The Hummingbird of Fear
  • The Turkey of Greed

The list goes on for quite some time, and at some point or another in our lives, we may be visited by one, some or all of the birds listed above.

All except the ostrich of Apathy - I doubt that bird will bother showing up.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Milk of Human Kindess Must Come From a Wonderful Cow

I've had a great day today.

To start with, the weather has been glorious - sunshine and blue skies. Then this morning I caught up with someone extremely lovely, and saw the Best Dogs In The World.

Then I came home, and a little while later one of half of quite possibly the loveliest couple I know brought me round a home baked loaf of bread. It is delicious.

And in a little while I shall be spening a few hours in the company of another group of wonderful friends, and having a beer.

I don't ask for much in life - because almost always it is the little things that are worth the most to me.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Apple Pie, Anyone?

Apples in he Tree
So far, this year has been a year of many firsts - I have done many things this year that I have never done before including: host a barbecue, learn Sign Language, and of course most recently, make myself out to look like a really dodgy character. However, the list of new things tried does not stop there, for I have decided to try my hand at pie making!

I am fortunate enough to have an apple tree overhanging my garden, which every years fills with cooking apples to the point of bursting - if that was actually possible. Usually, almost all the apples end up rotting on the ground (I pick a few for a friend to use) - but not this year. This year I intend to make my own apple pie, and eat it.

Or throw it in a Media Tycoon's face - depending on the mood of the country at the time.

I will make the pie from scratch - I will make the pastry and everything. There will be no cheating on my part; no ready made pastry, no pre-prepared pie filling, and no shop bought Apple Pie to pass off as my own. This will be a voyage of discovery - and like all voyages of discovery, the journey may be rough, and may involve several people being sick.

However, make no mistake - there is danger involved here.....

Danger: Tree.
Here is a picture of the apple tree taken from further back. You will no doubt notice that the branch in the foreground has something on it. This is a safety carrier bag, and was attached to the tree at my recent Barbecue, to warn people of the danger of the tree.
What you can't really tell from that picture is how low that branch comes down. Well let me tell you, it comes down low. I have already caught my head and shoulders on that branch. What I do in my garden with a bottle of shampoo is my business.

"I don't trust you...."
To illustrate the threat posed by this branch, here is a picture of me standing next to it. You can see how low the branch is - and can appreciate the damage that would be caused if it caught you a glancing blow.
And yet, I will have to run the gauntlet of low, sharp branches every time I go to harvest the apples I will need for my pie. I can't use the ones that fall to the floor, as they will be bruised and unusable. I could develop some upper body armour I suppose - but this takes time, and I really can't be bothered.

So I will bravely see my plan through, though I may be injured in the process. In the end I hope to have created a tasty Apple Pie, that I can make over and over for friends and family - for a small fee.

I do also have a Strawberry plant, and some Rhubarb in my garden - so the possibilities are...........well, about three-fold: it'll be either Apple Pie, Strawberry Jam, or Rhubarb crumble.

Or, Apple and Rhubarb Pie with a Strawberry Jus.

Maybe a Rhubarb and Strawberry comport with baked apple.

Possibly even a three fruit salad.

With ice cream.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Is My Face Red or What?

Today, I have truly outdone myself. I have really, really outdone anything like this that I have ever done before.
Today, I embarrassed myself, and made myself seen in a less than favourable light in a more spectacular fashion than I ever thought possible.

And how did I manage to orchestrate this symphony of stupidity? By being impulsive. Not rational, or sensible, or clever - oh no. I took my foot and rammed it firmly in my mouth on the advice of the "This is a great idea" section of my feeble brain - which was being supported by the emotional section of my heart.

But I go too fast. Let me start at the beginning.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am currently single due to yet another quality ruining of a perfectly good relationship by yours truly. It has taken me a long time to get over my last relationship, but finally, in recent weeks I have felt ready to look for someone else's life to ruin. Of course, me being me I have not been very proactive in my search for new love. In fact, I've been about as proactive about going out an Agoraphobic Hermit who is feeling a little unsociable. That being said, I have noticed a few people on my way to and from work - and even got noticed myself by a woman on Tuesday as I walked back from Lunch. So the feelers are out, in a tentative kind of way.


So, last night I'm being given a lift home by my bosses daughter, and as we drive through Sturminster Town centre I notice a very attractive woman walking down the road about 100 yards away. A combination of the distance, the fact that I was in a moving car, and my dodgy eyesight meant that I couldn't see her that properly - but she had lovely long hair, and a great figure, which was good enough for me. I got dropped off in town and as I got out, I saw this woman go into the local card shop. Suddenly, my impulse gland kicked in, and I made the decision to go to the card shop and see if I can get a better look at this woman - and maybe even ask her out for a drink!!!.

I know!!!! Me - actually approaching a woman and asking her out. I was exhilarated and terrified all at the same time. I didn't know whether to faint, or soil myself.

Luckily, I did neither. I realised that I would need some sort of ruse in order to justify going into the card shop. I'm pretty sure they frown on people just walking in and staring at the staff. So, a quick trip to the cashpoint was called for. One quick trip later, and with £10 in my wallet I headed for the card shop. To my dismay, while I was still a good hundred yards away I saw the woman I wanted to speak to walk out of the card shop, and down the street away from me. With a look on my face somewhere between "dog that's been told off", and "child that's dropped his ice cream", I turned away, and walked home.

Fortunately, home was only a minute away so before anyone could see me fighting to keep back the tears of frustration, I got home and made myself a cup of tea. As I drank the tea I thought about what might have been - the initial conversation we would have had, me cracking a joke, she laughing. We agree to meet up, and then a few months down the line, we marry and live happily ever after.

Except that we wouldn't - because I'd never see her again. I was starting to feel depressed. And when I feel depressed, only one thing can help.


Before you could say "you'll get fat" (not that I cared) I was back out of the door and on my way to my local co-op to buy 230g of happiness. My route would take me past the card shop of broken dreams - but hang on just a goddamn minute! What's this? the woman I wanted to talk to was walking back into the card shop!!! For a moment, I was back on the faint / soil myself knife-edge. I managed to compose myself, and carried on towards the shop.
It's a small shop - about the size of your average bedsit - so imagine my surprise when I couldn't see the woman who I had just seen enter these very premises. Confused, I walked round the shop trying to locate her. Thankfully I did - she was in a back room whose door was only partially open. I was still confused - like a man in a park seeing a Frisbee get bigger and bigger and bigger. And then it hit me - she works here!
Cue small choir singing "Hallelujah!"
Great, she worked here. Now I knew where she worked. Now what? I couldn't just interrupt her working and start chatting her up - that would be rude. I may be many things, but impolite is not one of them. So I bought a card (to complete the charade) from the assistant behind the counter, and left. I then went to the Co-Op, bought some chocolate and went home.


At work this morning, I was telling my bosses daughter all about my adventure of the previous early evening, and she suggested that I go back to the card shop today and ask the woman out. With the residue from yesterdays secretion from my impulse gland still coursing through my veins, I said that I would.

Foolish, foolish boy that I am!!!

So at lunch time, I took the card that I had bought previously back to the card shop to exchange (I had actually needed to buy a card, but in the panic brought on by my proximity to the woman I was going to marry (who I still hadn't had a clear look at by the way), I had picked up a hideous card that I wouldn't give to my worst enemy. So I walked into the shop expecting to see the woman, and be able to use the card exchange as a way of talking to her.
Except she wasn't there. The door to the back room was shut, and only the assistant from yesterday was working.
I exchanged the card, and then I did something very unlike me. I was about to walk out, when I turned back to the assistant and said: "excuse me, this might sound a bit weird, but you had a woman working here in the back room yesterday when I came in, and I wanted to ask you - is she single? because I think she is lovely".

I haven't seen her properly, but I think she is lovely. Give me a break.

But I had done it. I had actually gone out on a limb and opened myself up for heartbreak. My entire body tensed as I waited for the assistants reply. She was going to tell me that she wasn't single, I knew it.

As it tuned out, the assistant didn't say she wasn't single. What she said was much, much worse.

"She's actually sixteen." the assistant said, with a strangely concerned look on her face.

At that moment, my entire world crashed through the floor. As those words registered, I suddenly became very aware of how this must look. A forty yeard old man enquiring after the availabilty of a sixteen year old girl - and from the look on the face of the assistant, I had enquired via the girl's mother.
I terribly sickening feeling of embarrssment washed over me. I was stood there open mouthed, but for some reason was holding the card I had just got in exchange infront of my gaping mouth.
I felt unsteady on my legs as the full horror of the situation I was now in filled my mind. I some how managed to express my sincere apologies, and asked that the assistant forget everything that I just said. On rubber legs, I staggered out of the shop and stumbled back to work.

I don't approach women and ask them out, and I don't approach there friends and enquire about them. And there is a very good reason for that - mainly that in some way or another, it always ends in disaster. If you don't believe me, find my blog entry of 2nd April titled "Thanks to all who have loved me - not you, girl on the bus!". All I am saying is that I have no luck.

I can't tell you how mortified I still am at what happened in that card shop earlier today. I can never go back there - ever. I am so embarrassed, having made a fool out of myself, and possibly now being considered by some in my community as some sort of "predator". There is a saying "He Who Dares - Wins". In my case, substitute "Wins" for "Fails Spectacularly".

I tell you, you couldn't write the stuff that happens to me.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Two Brooms For Flipper

When I was a small boy, I only really ever had two favourite toys. One was a plastic Dinosaur from The Natural History Museum - a Diplodocus, to be precise, and the other was a Dolphin made of soft plastic with a squeaker inside. I loved those toys, more than anything else.

For those of you who don't know what a Diplodocus looks like, here is a picture of the toy (and Dinosaur) in question:

Of course, this is not the actual toy Dinosaur that I had - that sadly got lost at some point many years ago. The toy that I had was dented, scuffed, and the tail had been chewed quite considerably (I was a troubled little boy). I loved this toy because it actually looked like what Diplodocus would have looked like in real life. I was heavily into Dinosaurs - but didn't want toy Dinosaurs that looked unrealistic, with multicoloured skin, red eyes, and blue feet for example. No - I wanted my dinosaur toys to look as realistic as possible, so that my imagination could bring them to life as much as possible.
All this talk of Dinosaurs has reminded me of one of my favourite "Far Side" Cartoons:

An instant later, both Professor Waxman,
and his time machine are obliterated, leaving the
cold-blooded / warm-blooded dinosaur debate
still unresolved

That grey plastic, scuffed, dented and chewed Diplodocus was big part of my life for a long time......

But before him, there was another.........

The Diplodocus was my favourite toy from the age of about 7 to 10. Before then, my all time, never to be beaten, most favouritest toy of all time was the soft plastic Dolphin with the squeaker inside. While it seems plausible for a toy Dolphin to have a squeaker (after all, Dolphins make squeaking noises - sort of), I have just had the realisation come to me that my favourite toy between the ages of 4 and 6 years old, may well have been a dog toy. Many dog toys have squeakers in, and back in the early 70's there may not have been the robust plastics available that today's dog toys are made of.
We didn't have much money as a family - but we did have a dog. A dog that always looked at me weird when I was playing with the Dolphin............
Anyway, whatever its origin or supposed destiny, that Dolphin was my best friend. And can you believe it, I found a picture of it!!!

I'm quite emotional at the moment, because I haven't seen this toy in 34 years, and it is bringing back one very special memory involving it - and my dad.

When I was small, I was lucky enough to go on holiday with my family to Butlins at Clacton in Essex. Now back then, Butlins was a great family holiday park - not the seedy, alcohol fuelled, Chav magnet that it appears to be these days. From memory, we went every year for a few years (although this might not be accurate). In fact, we must have been going since I was a baby, because my very first memory is having a bottle of juice in my cot in the Chalet at Butlins. I knew that I wasn't at home, because the room was decorated different colours to home.
Anyway, Butlins at Clacton was where we went on Holiday. And where I went, my Dolphin went. The memory in questions happened when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We were at Butlins on holiday, and on this occasion our Chalet was a first floor Chalet. The Chalets ran in two rows one on top of the other, with another row of Chalets opposite and a small playing area in between. At that time, it was safe enough for the kids to play outside the Chalet in the play area, and I was running about with my dolphin playing both in the play area and on the balcony outside our Chalet.
I can't remember how it happened exactly, but somehow my dolphin ended up on the roof of our Chalet. I can only presume that I was on the balcony throwing my Dolphin around when I managed to land it on the roof. Of course, when I realised that my dolphin wasn't going to swim back to me, I burst into tears - distraught at the thought that I would never see my friend again, and that he would die baked to death by the sun on the roof of a Butlins Chalet.
I remember standing in the play area bawling my eyes out, being comforted by a grown up from a neighbouring Chalet (who didn't have to go through a CRB check, to be allowed to approach me), as I looked up at the roof of our Chalet.
Luckily for me, my father was a super hero. Again, I can't really remember all the details - but I do know that at one point, my dad was stood on the railing of our first floor Chalet balcony with two brooms tied end to end, reaching to try and get my Dolphin down. What I later found out is that my dad hated heights (just like me) - and yet he still risked life and limb to get my Dolphin back.

And he did get my Dolphin back, and I was the happiest boy in the world.

And remembering my Dad now, I am again.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Hooray!!!! I'm celebrating!! Nothing major - just one insignificant thing, and a slightly less insignificant achievement.

Firstly, I have finalised my account details for Adsense, so I can start getting paid. For those of you who don't know what Adsense is, let me explain:
You will notice that to the right of my blog is a vertical bar with a few adverts on it. Every time someone looks at my blog and just clicks on one of those adverts, I get a tiny amount of money - pence really. You see the advertisers pay Google to show those ads, and Google pay me for having them on my blog. These Ads are clever - they (should) show Ads based on keywords in my blog - for example if you look at my recent blog titled "Backpack, Weekend, Chocolate???" You will notice that at least on of the ads on that blog page is for Backpacks. Smart eh?
Now I get paid just for someone clicking on an Ad - they don't have to buy anything, and can immediately close the page that they are taken too - so the person clicking on the ad isn't giving me any money, and doesn't have to pay anyone. It's the advertisers and Google who pay.
So I have set it up that the little money I earn goes straight into a savings account so that one day I might be able to stop living a penniless existence - but that depends on you out there. I'm not allowed to click on my own Ads (for obvious reasons), so I need you guys to do it for me. So do me a favour - every time you read my blog, just click on one Ad - and then close the page you are taken to. It won't cost you a penny, I promise.

But earning money from my blog is unimportant compared to my other achievement. I have just completed my online British Sign Language (BSL) introduction course! There were seven modules, covering basic fingerspelling, numbers, colours,  greetings, describing people, places, money, time, jobs, hobbies, and food and drink - amongst others!
Now that I have passed this course (got 100%), I can go back over it and memorise all the individual phrases and words that I learnt. I have access to the course for one year and as I only started it in February, I've still got seven months use of it.
I'm going to take a college course in September, which will cover the same topics I understand. It may sound silly doing things I already know, but this time I will be signing with other people in a class, not just by myself in front of a computer screen. I think it will really help me learn.
Until the course starts in September, I am going to sort out possibly visiting some local deaf clubs and try using my sign language on real people - again, to improve my technique.
The online course wasn't difficult to do - I'm sure anyone could do it - but it is the first step in a longer journey. I'm really looking forward to the next steps!

If anyone is interested in finding out more about learning sign language, you can go to the website I went to by clicking here .

Monday, 18 July 2011

So, Why Do You Want This Job?............Moo!!

So, it was the final of "The Apprentice" on TV last night. The Four finalists had to endure four tough interviews where their Application forms, CV's and Business plans would be scrutinised and ripped apart.
One of the interviewers had the cunning idea of asking each candidate to do the "Elevator Pitch" - this involves pretending that they have stepped into an Elevator (or Lift, for those of you who live outside the U.S.A) on the ground floor with the interviewer, and they have until the lift gets to the top floor to sell their business plan and why they should work for Lord Sugar.
As you might expect, being asked to do this at the very start of an interview threw the candidates quite a bit - but I don't think it went far enough.
If it was me doing the interview, I would have thrown a few extras into the mix to see how the candidate reacts. For example, I would let the candidate begin their pitch - but then interrupt them shortly afterward by making a loud "PING!" noise, and then explaining that someone else has got into the lift. This will test how good they can recover after having their train of thought interrupted.
Another thing I might do is pretend to suffer from Claustrophobia, and suddenly freak out half way through their pitch screaming "I can't get out! I've got to get out! Aaarrrgh!!"
It's all about seeing how people react to unexpected changes in a situation.

Of course, the "Elevator Pitch" is just one idea - there are many others interviewers could use. What about a Cattle Market pitch - the candidate has to sell an imaginary cow to the interviewer, and the interviewer could either interrupt occasionally by making loud mooing sounds, or start talking like one of those fast cattle auctioneers.
Of course, there doesn't have to be a "pitch" at all - there are others tests that interviewees could be asked to do. There could be a Pictionary test, where there are three cards with one word relevant to the interview or the position being interviewed for on each, face down on the desk. The candidate is asked to choose one, and then has one minute to draw that word on a flip chart pad. The interviewer knows what each card has written on it, but doesn't know which one gets chosen. So it's up to the candidate to get the word across to the interviewer as accurately as possible.

These are but a few of the ideas that popped into my head after watching the programme last night. The possibilities are almost endless.

I hate interviews. My best ever interview was when I went to work at the Head Office of a Charity in London - I even managed to get a joke in to the interview somehow, which got the panel laughing!. My worst interview was when I went for promotion at the same Charity - no-one was laughing then.........

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Truths of Life

Here are some well known (and lesser known) truths of life:

Starting a sentence with the phrase "I don't mean to be rude, but...." gives you the right to be as rude as you like.

Your sense of smell is no where near as good at telling if something is off as your sense of taste.

Earrings on babies is WRONG.

When trying to remember the name of someone famous that you have temporarily forgotten, you are legally allowed to kill anyone who says "I'll give you the first letter of their name".

There is no such hair colour as "Strawberry Blonde" - you're Ginger.

Doga are better than people because they wag their tails rather than their tongues.

The current Health & Safety overkill, and the "No Win - No Fee" culture means that Common Sense is an endangered species.

75% of people that park in a Disabled spot are not Disabled.

There's never a pen when you need one.

Those of us who chew our pens at work and use them to clean our ears, will inevitable clean our ears and then chew straight after at some point.

People only tell you to "mind your head" just after you've cracked your skull on something.

There is no right answer when a woman asks you for your opinion on her outfit.

One in Three people (25%) can't do basic maths.

The moment you move into a queue of traffic, it stops moving.

When we finish a really good meal, we all secretly want to lick the plate.

The Three second rule is often ignored.

Everyone has a favourite Spice Girl.

No-one likes the Ginger one out of "Girls Aloud"

Pretending to throw the ball for a dog is the closest most of us will ever get to being a magician.

Saturday, 16 July 2011


 I'm bored..........I've done nothing all day apart from Housework, and a couple of good deeds.

I need more excitement in my life. There has to be more to this existence, than........this.

A win on the lottery would help.

So would Cameron Diaz knocking on my door.

Actually, Cameron Diaz knocking on my door wearing nothing but three strategically placed winning lottery tickets.

See? I'm feeling more excited already.......

Friday, 15 July 2011

Backpack, Weekend, Chocolate?

Here is today's tip of the day: Never wear your backpack walking through the streets when the Schools finish for the day.

I did this today, suddenly became very aware that I looked like giant school kid walking home from school amongst all the little kids. I'm sure some of the mothers were whispering to each other, asking how old I was, and wasn't I a big lad for my age. Some of them probably thought I was older than the rest of the children - but had been kept back because I was a little 'slow'.

It probably wasn't that bad - although I'm fairly sure that my Spider Man lunch box wasn't helping my appearance.

So another weekend is here - and yet again I have no plans. Well no fun plans, anyway. My humble abode is in need of a good clean, I'm doing a couple of good deeds tomorrow in the form of a taxi service - and that's not a funeral for a mini cab - but apart from that, have nothing in the diary. The weather is meant to be a bit hit and miss, but I'll see how it pans out and adjust my activities accordingly.

The only question now I go out and get myself a bar of chocolate to enjoy with the bottle of wine I have here, while I watch a movie tonight?

I think we all know the answer  to that one, don't we?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Art of Conversation Gets an "F" - and Dodgy Geezers

Is it just me, or does anyone else have the habit of continuing a conversation even when it really isn't practical to?

I have realised that recently I have done this on two separate occasions. Today, I was loading an order for dispatch on to a lorry. I was on the Forklift, and the lorry driver was very kindly on the bed of his vehicle with a set of pallet trucks, so he could move the pallets into position after I fork them on to the trailer - this saves a great deal of time, as my dexterity with a forklift can leave a lot to be desired.
The lorry driver was a nice friendly chap - as am I - so a conversation soon began.

All was fine, until I started fetching the pallets with the Forklift. Our Forklift is very old, and very noisy - and on top of this, the floor of our yard at work is not totally even so the Forklift bangs and rattles as it drives over the uneven ground. So the lorry driver was merrily chatting away, and I was doing my best to fulfill my part of the conversation. It was becoming more and more difficult - at one point the driver said to me something like, "I'll put one more on this side, and then you can load the last four - that will be faster." Now I didn't hear those words that clearly - it was only the fact that the driver was gesturing whilst talking, and I was trying to lip read that I got the gist of what he meant. If he had not been gesturing, and if I was just looking at him and not lip reading I could quite possibly have interpreted what he actually said as "I punch one mouse this Sunday, and then you can loan the least fog - they will be French"
Now that was a near miss - but soon afterwards the driver said something to me that I have no idea what is was. And so I did what all of us do when someone says something that we don't hear, but we don't want the embarrassment of asking them to repeat it - I said "yeah", and gave a little laugh.
For all I know, the driver might have said "Can I gut you from head to toe, peel your skin off, and wear it as a dress?" And I just gave a laugh and replied "yeah".
And the moment I answered blindly, I momentarily wondered if I had just made myself look like a complete idiot. I was driving away from the lorry, but glanced quickly back just to check to see if the lorry driver was stood there with a puzzled look on his face. To my relief, he wasn't.

But why do we do that? Is it an English thing? Is it because we are so polite, that we don't want to offend someone by asking them to repeat themselves , because we couldn't hear them properly? Are we subconsciously embarrassed by our faulty hearing (in spite of the fact that all sound was drowned out at the crucial moment by a passing motorbike, or a pneumatic drill etc. we feel that it is our hearing that is a fault), and therefore try to paper over our flagrant rudeness by gambling on a answer that might not be right?
Or is it a man thing? When men have conversations, they don't show weakness by admitting that they didn't hear what was said - that sort of thing is done by Women and weak elderly folk. Us men hear all, and know all (which is why we never ask for directions). And if we don't hear all, we try and blag our way out it. That is the man's way.

I think also, that part of it may be that generally any conversation you are having in a location where the possibility of noise pollution interfering with the reception is likely, then that conversation isn't that important, and any information missed won't be that vital. Important conversations always take place somewhere quiet, so that nothing is missed. You wouldn't get the doctor to tell you the results of that Biopsy at an Iron Maiden Concert, and you wouldn't conduct a job interview on the flight deck of an Aircraft Carrier. So perhaps the reason we don't say "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that - could you say it again?" is because we not that concerned with the conversation anyway.

The second instance of an impractical conversation happened earlier in the week. I was walking down the street on my way back to work, when I saw someone I knew walking towards me. Now this is important: This person I know is a friend - but not a close friend to warrant stopping in the street to exchange pleasantries with. You know what I mean; there are three types of Friends: Very good friends who you will go out of your way to approach and talk to. People you would cross the road to go up and say hi to. Those are your very good friends.
Then, there are the good friends - people you will stop in the street to talk to, if you bump into them. But if you saw them across the street and they didn't see you, you wouldn't cross over to talk to them. The best you would probably do is shout their name and raise a hand to them.
The third type of friend is the friend you know but not that well - maybe a friend of a friend. These types of friends you exchange greetings as you pass on the street - you don't even slow down, and you would only stop if they do (and even then you might not, saying "sorry, I'm a terrible rush"), but you certainly wouldn't cross the road to speak to them or even call their name if you saw them and they didn't see you.

Me: "Hello mate, alright?"
Friend: " Hello Larry, I'm good thanks. You?"
Me: "Good good. Yeah, I'm alright"
Friend: "Good good. Work busy?"
Me: "Yeah, bits and pieces"
Friend "Good. See you later!
Me: "Yeah, see you later!

All in all, that conversation took about ten seconds. However all that time we continued moving in our own direction. The first part of the conversation took place when we were about four foot apart. The middle portion of the conversation (the 'small talk') took place as we drew level, and then passed one another, and carried on. And the end of the conversation finished when we were about twenty feet apart. And the volume increased also - starting normally, but ending in almost a shout. We didn't look back at each other when we said goodbye, and we never broke stride.

Which meant that I nearly frightened to death the old lady I was catching up with, when I shouted "Yeah, see you later!" right behind her.

These sort of conversations should really be limited to a nod and a smile, because what happens if you end up having a longer conversation but both keep carrying on walking? Will you end up hollering at each other from opposite ends of the street? Probably.

I had a couple of dodgy blokes knock on my door tonight, asking if a Cheque had been posted through my door for a Miss K Rose. I said no, the only mail I had today was a gas bill. The talkative bloke then asked if I had received a cheque yesterday. I said no (again) - what did he expect? did he think I might say "Oh yeah, a cheque for Miss K. Rose did come in the post yesterday - but I can't give it to you, that's was yesterday's post. Today is today."
They were either con men, or were checking the place out with a view to rob it. If they do try to rob it, I will defend my home to the best of my ability.

Unless I'm out.

But they were definitely dodgy. Very very dodgy.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Exercise and Alcohol, and the Rising Cost of Rioting

I've just pierced a blister on the heel of my left foot. A Blister obtained in the pursuit of fitness. As you may know, I am on sort of a health kick so I have taken to walking a set distance as fast as I can within a set time limit. Today I set a new personal best: 6.72 Miles in 1hr 24mins. You can see all the details of today's walk here. I'm quite proud of this - but am also in some pain, as I have pulled the skin off my blister, revealing the raw flesh to the elements.

In addition to this, I have also developed a new exercise related injury: Walker's nipple. It happens when the fabric of my t-shirt rubbed against my nipple causing it to go red and sore. Strangely, this only appears to have affected my left nipple - my right nipple is unaffected. Perhaps I have inadvertently been walking with my left breast stuck out proudly, causing the nipple to rub excessively against the material of my t-shirt. Whatever the reason, I will be forced to place plasters over my nipples in future to avoid more nipple rub.

The lengths you have to go to just to lose a few pounds.

As I write this, I am yet again under the influence of alcohol - but this is not my fault. Again we have been obliged to entertain some suppliers of ours. which  of course has involved considerable amounts of drinking, and an Indian meal. As a result, our suppliers are suitably impressed - and I am suitably intoxicated. I will have a hangover in the morning - and a painful heal on my left foot. Whoever said the best thing to do with a blister is leave it, was on to something.

I've been watching the news recently - especially the news about the violence in Northern Ireland surrounding the Marching Season. Every time they show some footage, there is always gangs of people in masks, and they are always throwing petrol bombs.
For those of you who do not know what a petrol bomb is, it is basically a glass bottle filled with petrol, with a rag (soaked in petrol) stuffed in the neck of the bottle. The rag is lit, the bottle is thrown, and when it hits the ground, the glass smashes and the petrol inside ignites.

But how can they afford this form of missile? With today's petrol prices rocketing out of control, I would assume that it has long since become economically unviable to use petrol bombs in violent protests. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it won't be too long until they are forced to use water balloons filled with urine - although I admit that a face full of wee is less intimidating than being set on fire.

Hopefully, things will settle down soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Why Can't You Make a Tune or Something!?

As we all know, everyday our hair, fingernails and toenails grow a tiny little bit. In my case, it's just my fingernails and toenails as I have been blessed with being what polite circles would call "Follically Challenged". Impolite circles call me "Slap Head", "Chrome Dome", or simply "Bald Git".

I prefer the polite circles.

Anyway, up until tonight I was always of the understanding that our fingernails and toenails would alert to their need to be trimmed by simply catching on items of clothing, or innocently scratching the person closest to us in moments of romantic interlude.
However, it would appear that I am the exception to the rule. My nails appear to have decided that rather than make tiny holes in various garments of mine (or in any female person that might be in close proximity to me), they will alert me to their need for pruning by causing me excruciating pain.

I have been sitting here, thinking about what to talk about on today's blog, when WHAM!! sharp pain starts shooting out from the index toe on my left foot (you big toe is basically your thumb, so the next one to that is your Index toe, then it's the two useless toes that serve no purpose like the two useless fingers on each hand, and finally your little toe which is your little finger). It felt like hot needles were being stuck into my toe as if by Satan's Acupuncturist, whilst simultaneously crushing the end. Satan's acupuncturist slash heavy handed masseuse is probably a better image to create.

With a cry of confused agony I whipped off my sock and examined the painful digit. To my surprise, there was not a tiny flaming Swedish person with lotion in one hand and red hot needles in the other merrily whistling away as it stabbed and pummeled my toe. In fact, there was nothing to see at all, just my toe and my nail sitting there all innocent.

"What? We 'ain't done nothing", they appeared to say.

The pain however, was telling me otherwise. I gently pushed the nail and immediately regretted it - pain shot through my toe like electricity. Without touching it, I looked again at my nail assuming that it was digging into my skin - but no, skin and nail were adjacent to each other, but not touching. Like polite neighbours.
This confused me - but I had no time for pondering. I was still in pain, and there was only one solution: Trim the nail.

Now, when it comes to trimming nails I'm more of a 'tearer' than a 'cutter'. I find it easier and faster to constantly pick at the nail until you get a bit of purchase, and then tear the thing off in one fell swoop. It's too much effort to get up, go to the bathroom, get my manicure set (yes, I have one), walk back to where I was sitting, and then address the problem.
Actually I've just realised that technically I only ever need to walk to where the manicure set is, because once I'm there the bits of me that need trimming in the first place are already there too. Walking back, carrying the manicure set (ironically in the hand with the nails that need trimming), is simply a waste of time and effort.


Although the 'tear' method has many advantages over the 'cut' method, it's not all sunshine and roses; every time I tear part of my nail off, there is the danger of tearing too far. I am all too familiar of the agony involved when a nail being teared off grabs hold of a piece of skin than runs down into the quick, and starts to tear that out too. Too often have I jumped up and down in pain with a piece of nail dangling from the end of my finger only attached by a thin ribbon of skin protruding from the bleeding corner of the nail. Too often have I had to rip the skin out fast and then scream in anguish as the exposed nerves are twanged by the air reaching it. And too often have I been left with finger tips or toes that look like I've been doing things with them that I really shouldn't have been doing.

All these thoughts paraded through my head as I picked at my nail, but none of them could stop me tearing the offending part away. This time just the intended bit of nail came away. This time.

I don't know why my nail hurt me so much. Perhaps this is evolution in progress. Perhaps from now on I shall always know when it is time to trim my nails, as the pain receptors in my brain call in extra staff to handle the additional information. I hope that isn't how things are going to be - there must be better ways of telling me that my nails need trimming.

Perhaps they could just vibrate a little? Or give off a distinctive smell. Alright a different distinctive smell. I don't care what it is - just don't hurt me!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Feeling The Burn

As I type this, my feet are warm and tingly, my calves are tight and painful, my right hip is aching, and my brain is telling me that I don't have enough energy reserves left to manipulate the muscles in my hands and arms which enable my finger to type this blog.

And the reason for this physical exhaustion? My decision to walk almost 7 miles in an hour and a half after work tonight.

You see, I'm on a bit of an exercise kick. This has been brought on by me realising that for a long time now my evenings and weekends have been filled with long periods of inactivity, plus the fact that my clothes are becoming filled with a fatter, slobbier version of myself. And as I'm pretty sure most Women don't go for the "Comic Book Guy" look (from the Simpsons - see below), I thought getting in shape might help me in my search for love.
You want me......don't you.....

But tonight is not the first time I have peeled my lardy frame off the sofa - oh no! I have been doing little bits for a few weeks now. It's not much - just press ups and crunches on alternate days. I have two apps on my phone - one for press ups and one for crunches - which are  helping me work towards a specific goal. In this instance I am hoping to eventually be able to do 100 press ups continuously, and similarly do 200 crunches continuously. In addition to this, I try to do a "plank" for 75 seconds every hour while I am at work, on the days that I do my press ups, and I lift 25kg drums of oil in 1 set of 10 every hour at work on the days that I do my crunches. And then yesterday I went for a brisk walk to a local Railway Project, and found that I got from home to the Railway Project and back in an hour and a half. I found it was a good workout, and so decided to do it again tonight. It has really taken it out of me though, so I won't be doing this every night.

Although I did pass in both directions a nice young lady out jogging - so maybe I should go out again tomorrow just in case she is out there again......

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Email, Bed.

So I'm back, after 17 days of serialising my story "Nonsense Tale". I hope you will forgive me - I know it was a easy way for me to get out of writing for a while, but I did also want to share my story with you all.

Whether you wanted the read my story or not, never entered my thoughts.

Now you would have thought that I would have used the time where I didn't have to think about what to write to actually think of what to write for when I had to start writing my blog again. However, as with many ideas in my life, that notion was filed under 'nice ideas that will never see the light of day'. Subsequently, I find myself at my laptop with a page as blank as my thought process.

Well, not entirely blank - there is one small scribble in the corner of my mind:

E-mail signatures - They don't always fit in with the tone of the e-mail, do they? Generally, most email signatures are fairly standard. My email signature is:

Larry Lagrue
Production and Planning Administrator
S&N Home products

Nothing too difficult about that. However, I have received emails from people whose email signature includes phrases like "Kindest Regards", or "Yours with thanks", and I realised that in certain situations, such a signature just isn't appropriate. I guess what I mean is, is that if you are writing an email of complaint to someone, and throughout the email you use tone and words that emphasise your displeasure or unhappiness, then having an email signature that says "Yours with thanks" will negate to a large degree the tone of dissatisfaction that you are trying to get across - especially if you really want to say "sort it out you useless bunch of idiots".

A possible solution to this would be to have a number of different email signatures saved - each with a different tone. However, this would not only be time consuming but would also be inpractical (inpractical? or unpractical? or is it impractical? I'm not sure.) as by the time you have looked through the available options and selected the signature that most fits with what you are going to say, you will have most likely forgotten what you wanted to say.
What I think is a much better idea is to have a programme written in to your email software that recognise certain words in your email and therefore detects the type of email you are writing and automatically chooses an appropriate email signature for you. Of course there would still be an element of control, where you can amend the chosen signature if you need.
Plus you could choose to turn the feature off. Should you ever be in a situation where you are emailing your partner and telling him/her how much you are looking forward seeing them that evening and spending time with them, having your computer choose the email signature "Yours, in erotic hotness" might have a detrimental affect later on that day.

It's just a thought.

It's Sunday night, and you know what that means: Clean Bedding!! Yes, on Sunday I change the bedding on my bed, so that it is nice a clean for the week ahead. At this point I must say that I haven't changed the bedding yet, but will do after dinner.

Or so I tell myself.

Too often I do half a job; I take off the old bedding, and put it in the laundry basket. Then, for some unknown reason, every time I am about to take out the new bedding and put it on, something happens to not only distract me from putting on the new bedding, but also makes me forget about doing it. Too many times I have wearily walked upstairs late at night, looking forward to the feel and the smell of the soft, clean bedding - only to find my unmade bed lying there laughing at me. And having to then make your bed late at night when you should be in it, is not an enjoyable experience. On many occasions, I have been sorely tempted to just wrap myself in my duvet cover and throw myself on the bed.

So tonight, I must break the spell and complete the whole task.

Or maybe tomorrow night.

Saturday, 9 July 2011



(Have you enjoyed this so far?
 If not – go back and read it again, as you are obviously not trying)

Finally, the work was done. Nothing remained of the camp – there was now only a large clearing in the forest with several tree stumps, and a few black area of ground where fire had scorched the earth.
Nasgorath was stood in the centre of the clearing, with the Knight, the Writer, Jack and the Friar standing close by. The townsfolk were stood in a circle around them talking amongst themselves.
The Knight stepped forward, and put one hand up to ask for silence. Initially, the townsfolk ignored him, until Nasgorath beat his wings and roared ‘Shut up, you noisy ingrates!’ This had the desired effect immediately, and the townsfolk fell silent.
The Knight said ‘thanks’, through the side of his mouth, and then cleared his throat audibly in preparation to speak. He looked up at the Great Dragon towering in front of him and said in a loud voice ‘Nasgorath! You have saved us all – a debt we can never repay. But I am true to my word, and will release you from your oath. Behold! I give you the Golden whistle that made you its slave for so many years. Now you are its slave no more, you are free! Nasgorath the free!’
With that, the Knight threw the Golden Whistle into the air, and Nasgorath devoured it in one swift motion. At that moment, the townsfolk cheered and applauded wildly.
As soon as he had swallowed the whistle, Nasgorath gave an almighty roar and said ‘Free! Free at last! I, Brian, King of the Dragons am free!’
Everybody stopped. ‘Erm, did you say Brian?’ the Knight asked, severely confused, ‘I thought your name was Nasgorath?’
Nasgorath is my public name – the name my legend is known as. Whoever heard of a Dragon called Brian? That isn’t really the stuff of legend, is it?’
‘I suppose not,’ said the Knight, scratching his head, ‘anyway, Brian, I thank you for coming to our aid. We will never forget you.’
‘And I’ll forget you too!’ cried Brian, as he took to the air and flew off out of sight.
The Knight called after him, ‘no – I said we’ll never forget you…..oh never mind.’ He turned to his friends, and said ‘Dragons eh?’
The Writer replied, ‘and who’d have thought that he’d be called Brian?’ ‘I would have hoped you would, considering that you’re the writer’ replied the Knight. ‘Oh yeah!’ chuckled the Writer.
The Knight then turned to Jack and said ‘I can’t believe you came back – that was very brave of you.’
Jack went a very bright shade of Pink, and humbly replied:

♫”What else was I supposed to do?
Just run off and abandon you?
My conscience wouldn’t let me do a flit
And leave you neck deep in the …”♫

‘…you didn’t’, interrupted the Knight, smiling. ‘You too have helped to save us. You’re a true friend, Jack.’ Jack didn’t reply; he just blushed a bit more. The Knight then turned to the Friar, who stood there beaming back at him. Without saying a word, the Knight ignored the Friar, and addressed the townsfolk. ‘Gather your things, we’re taking you home!’ the Knight cried. There was an excited murmur as the townsfolk asked each other if they had any things to gather. They soon all agreed that having been kept prisoner by the Evil Ones, the only “things” they might have were the tattered and dirty clothes they were wearing, and as they were already wearing them, that was the gathering pretty much taken care of.

Soon they were on their way out of the forest, and on their way home. At the head of the long line of townsfolk (who were walking in two’s in an orderly fashion, rather than being spread out all over the place like football supporters coming out of a football ground) were Jack and the Knight, both sat upon Jacks cart. Jack was singing a merry song, and the Knight was holding the reigns, and just enjoying being there.
The same could not be said for the Writer, who had been given the task of bringing up the rear of the townsfolk, along with the Friar, who was complaining about being snubbed by the Knight.
‘Didn’t I help?’ asked the Friar, ‘didn’t I play my part in defeating the Evil Ones? But Oh no, that’s not good enough for the Knight up there – Mr I’m-so-pleased-with-myself. It’s not right I tell you.’
‘Yes you do – over and over’, sighed the Writer, wearily. He was beginning to wish that he had written a heroic but unfortunate end for the Friar.
Suddenly, they stopped. Up ahead, they had again reached the fork in the road. This time the parting was a happier one. As Jack started off towards home, the Knight wondered what would become of him. As if he had read his mind, jack began to sing a new song:

♫” I’m jack, I’m Jack – my name is Jack the Bard
Whatever I say, I’ve got to sing - but it’s not very troubling
In fact I love it more each day
So I sing my songs along the way!

Great friends I’ve made upon this road; great evil I helped defeat
As adventures go, I’d say this one would be very hard to beat!
I found new strength within my soul – a strength that I had hidden.
If you’d told me that back at the start, I’d have said “you’re kidding!”

 So I’m travelling Home – but not for long
There a world to explore with my songs!
Where I’ll end up I cannot say
Perhaps I’ll end up on Broadway!” ♫

The Townsfolk cheered, and waved Jack goodbye, and his song could be heard long after he was out of sight. Eventually, the Knight got them moving again, and they continued on their homeward journey.
Soon they came to the remains of the village of Merkin, which was in a considerably better state than when the Knight had last seen it. The two women had been very busy, and they rushed out to greet their townsfolk. There were many laughs and lots of tears, and plenty of embraces. The women threw their arms around the Knight and thanked him for all he had done.
The large of the two women then saw the Writer, and lunged at him wildly, snarling. Luckily for him, she was restrained by several townsfolk. The Knight decided to press on, and soon the village of Merkin was lost from sight, although they could hear that the re-building of the village had begun instantly.
Having left the village behind them, the Knight quickened the pace. He hoped that Montague Fripp’s curious emporium would still be there, as he wanted to thank him, and ask him for his sword back. They reached the place where they had met Montague, but there was no tent. They had obviously moved on. The Knight felt a twinge of sadness, for a moment – and then realised it was a twinge of a full bladder. He turned to the townsfolk behind him and cried “Toilet break!” Immediately, the two columns split, and men on either side walked a few steps to the edge of the road, and collectively “spent a penny”.

Seconds later, and feeling suitably relieved, they set off again.  The Knight was rejoined by the Writer, but not the Friar. He had decided to stay at the back, as he was still in a mood with the Knight.

Darkness began to fall, and so did many of the townsfolk because the light was fading. Torches were lit, and passed back. Soon there was enough light for them to see where they were going. Even though it was dark, no-one was afraid. Since the defeat of the Evil Ones, the whole world seemed to have a lighter, friendlier feel to it. There were no more rumours of people disappearing, or of places which were too dangerous to visit. It was as if a weight had been lifted from the minds of every living thing. With a renewed feeling of hope they walked on. They marched through the night, without a care – except when they reached the hill where the Wolf General had fallen. They paused in silence at the cairn of stones under which the horse was buried. A few plants had started to work their way between the stones, but the Knight didn’t mind. The final resting place of the brave, but permanently angry horse had a fine view of the surrounding area. If the Horse had been still alive, the Knight felt sure he would have chosen this place himself – as you could spit a folk in any direction you fancied from up there, and they couldn’t get you back.
This thought helped subdue the pangs of guilt that still haunted the Knight. Taking in a deep breath of clear night air, he got the townsfolk moving again.
The townsfolk were getting more and more excited, as they knew they were finally nearing home. Sure enough, as dawn broke the next day they walked tired, smelly, and starving back into their town. The men folk scattered throughout the town, and soon shrieks of glee and the happy sound of crying could be heard. The Knight turned to the Writer, clapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘We did it. I told you we would.’
The Writer smiled back, and replied ‘yes you did – I wonder how much reward we’ll get?’
‘I don’t want a reward’ said the Knight, ‘I’ve already got my reward’
‘Oh yeah?’ asked the Writer, ‘how do you figure that one out?’
‘I got an adventure. That was what I really wanted, and I got it. I don’t need any reward.’
‘Well, you might not want any reward’ said the Writer indignantly, ‘but I certainly well do!’ With that he started set off across the town square and up the marble steps of the town hall. Of course, the moment he set one foot on the steps he lost his footing, and fell flat on his back. The Knight walked over to help the Writer up, who was visibly winded. ‘You should have remembered the steps’ he said gently. Wincing at the pain in breathing, the Writer replied, ‘I know – Actually, I’ve decided that I don’t want a reward after all. I just want to go home.’
‘Me too’ said the Knight, ‘come on.’

And so, without fuss or celebration, without being given the key to the city, and the key to several chastity belts, that the Knight and the Writer walked out of the town of Stinky-under-foot. Neither of them spoke – instead they each reflected on what they had experienced throughout the adventure. They didn’t really pay much attention to where they were going; they just let their feet take them wherever they wanted to go. I did annoy them slightly when their feet decided to take through a fast flowing river and through a cow field without watching for cow pats – but apart from that, they were happy to go wherever.
Sometime later, the Knight – who had been happily asleep while his feet did the walking – woke up, looked around and said ‘Hang on a minute, this can’t be right – where are we?’
‘Huh?’ said the Writer waking up alongside the Knight. ‘What’s up?’
‘We’re lost,’ said the Knight, ‘I don’t know where we are.’
‘Eh? How can that be? Aren’t we still on the road?’ The Writer rubbed his eyes, and looked around him. He couldn’t see anything.
‘I can’t see anything’ said the Writer.
‘Me neither’ said the Knight, ‘where are we?’
The Writer thought for a minute, and then said ‘Aah, yes – I know where we are.’

‘Really? Where?’ asked the Knight – not really believing the Writer.
The writer turned to face the Knight, and with a glint in his eye he said, ‘this my friend, is the beginning.’

The Knight felt that he was either missing something, or the Writer was missing something – like all sense of reason. ‘The beginning? The beginning of what?’
The writer smiled at the Knight, and said ‘the beginning of the story – of your story. This is where it all started, seventy eight pages ago. This is exactly how it was – nothing. A blank page, just waiting for me to start something.’
The Knight looked around; nothing. He saw nothing – just a great expanse of white, pristine and untouched. It didn’t look very much, to be honest. ‘This story, started here? It’s not very impressive is it?’
The Knight didn’t make the connection – that much was clear to the Writer. Nonetheless, he tried to make the Knight see. ‘Impressive? Of course it’s impressive! Don’t you get it? This is where all great stories start where every piece of literary brilliance begins! You have to start with a blank page – it’s the only time you ever have total freedom. The moment you put down one word, that it; you’re tied into something, you have to write the next word, and the next, and they have to make sense. But before that, before you commit yourself to that path, you have a blank page – a playground for your imagination, a place where no matter what you think about putting, it always sounds like a great idea. This is the best part of writing a story. This is perfection. Anything you write on this blank page is a compromise, is not quite what you wanted to say but it’s the best you can do at the time. And no matter how many times you stop and start again, it’s never as perfect as it is in your mind, as you imagine it will be on paper.’
The Knight just stood there watching the writer, who was now spinning round like Julie Andrews on that hillside in”The Sound of Music”. The Knight had never seen the Writer look so happy, so enthusiastic.
The Writer stopped spinning, because he was starting to feel sick. Once he had regained his composure, he walked over to the Knight and said ‘It was here that it all started – you and the Friar, remember?’

‘Get lost!’ said the Friar, walking in on the scene.
‘Oh don’t be like that,’ said the Writer.
‘What’s the matter with you now?’ asked the Knight, not really caring.
‘No!’ said the Friar, ‘I will be like that! I’m sick of being at your beck and call – you just write my name down and I’m supposed to appear?. And when I do appear and try to help, all I get is abuse, and get told to shove off! Even when I played my part in the defeat of the Evil Ones, did I get a thank you? No! Not so much as a “well done”. That’s wrong!’
The Friar was pointing straight at the Knight.
The Knight was about to remind the Friar that the clergy were not above getting a thrashing, when the Writer said to him, ‘He’s right you know. We have treated him pretty badly.’
‘But it was funny!’ said the Knight, infuriating the Friar even more by talking about him as if he wasn’t there, ‘Whenever the Friar turns up, he tries to help, makes things worse and then scrams. That’s how it is in this story – that’s how you wrote him.’
The Writer disagreed slightly. ‘Not all the way through the story – at the end, he played as much of a part in defeating the Evil Ones, as anyone else. Remember – it was the Friar who freed Nasgorath.’
‘That’s right, he did’ Said Nasgorath, swooping in to land, ‘and if I remember correctly, you did very little during that entire battle scene.’ Nasgorath gave the Knight a look that said “you know I’m right”.
‘Shut up Brian’ muttered the knight.

The Writer put a hand on the Knight’s arm and said ‘Look; it’s the end of the story, everything has worked out well. Can’t we end this on a positive note? I’d really like to.’
The Knight was about to answer, when the Friar walked over to him and said, ‘by the way, I’ve got something for you.’

Being a man of the world the Knight got defensive instantly. ‘Oh yeah, what?’ he said.
The Friar reached into his robe for a moment, and then pulled out a roll of blue velvet. He handed it to the Knight, and took a step backwards.
‘What’s this?’ asked the Knight, looking down. The velvet felt weighty as he un-rolled it, and as the rolls decreased he felt something turning inside the material. He turned the cloth faster to reveal the object hidden in its centre. As the final length rolled off his hands to the floor, the Knight gasped.
In his hands, lying there gleaming and majestic was his sword.
‘Montague Fripp sends his regards’ said the Friar, smiling.
‘How did you…I-I don’t know what to say’, stuttered the Knight in shock.
‘And that’s exactly what I’ve been waiting to hear from you all story – nothing’ replied the Friar with a cheeky grin.
The Knight simply looked at the Friar, and beamed at him.
‘That’s as good a place as any to finish’ thought the writer.