Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Villains Stuffed Cats, Nutter Experience, and They're Strict At Mensa

I dedicate this blog to my Friends Emma and Alyn, who have both worried me greatly in the last 24 hours - but have negated that emotion by both being okay since.

You know the baddie with the cat in the James Bond films? Well there was no way that cat was real - or if it was. It was heavily sedated. I reckon it was a stuffed cat, or an animatronic puppet.
Cats are independent creatures, and seldom sit still if placed somewhere by its owner. Therefore if the cat in the lap (which is also the title of the only Dr. Seuss book to be banned worldwide) of the Bond villain was real, it would have been struggling like mad to get away.
As a result, the famous line "Ah, Mr Bond - I've been expecting you" would have been replaced by:
"Ah (ow! Ouch!) Mr Bond (sit still bloody cat! Ow! Stop scratching me), I've been (ouch! Buggering cat bit me - sod off then!) expecting you. Have you got any Savlon?"
And that also wouldn't have looked very menacing. So it was a stuffed cat.

A well documented story from my life is the tale of my brief marriage, and the unfortunate experience I had with the girl I married (Hello Samantha - hope you are choking on something). That whole event has been classified by me as my "Nutter Experience". Everybody is due at least one Nutter experience during their lifetime. This experience can take many forms - a strange man approaching you and saying that he knows where to get Goat, or that girl at the bar stuffing peanuts into her ears. It could manifest itself as a fleeting encounter, or as a relationship. However it happens, we've all got one due to us and you can't avoid it. If you get to 70 years of age without having one, don't think you've got away with it. Yours is still coming. In the first world war, there was a saying that somewhere there was a bullet with your name on it. Well, somewhere, somehow, there is a nutter with your name - on their pants.

And finally......

One condition of acceptance into MENSA (the organisation for people with a high I.Q) is that all memberships and associated privileges will be revoked immediately without appeal should the member in question be heard saying the word "Erm....?"

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Medieval Muggings......and Keeping The Magic of Christmas Alive For Your Kids

You learn something new every day, they say - and do you know what? They are right!

I was cooking again tonight, ably assisted by my friend who had come over to see me, catch up, and eat. But mainly eat. One of the ingredientsu I was using was fresh nutmeg. For those of you who shop at Aldi, Nutmeg is a spice used in cooking. As its name suggests, it comes in nut form which has to be broken open to reveal the actual nutmeg spice inside.

However, there is another spice inside the nutmeg "nut". Around the nutmeg is a fibrous covering. This covering is called Mace, and is the other spice. However it needs to be handled with care, and of you use bare hands you should avoid touching your eyes (or anywhere else, boys) without washing your hands first as the mace fibres can cause irritation to the eyes and sensitive areas.

In fact the well known anti mugging spray MACE was derived from extract of that spice, and in medieval times travellers would carry a pouch of ground Mace upon them, with which to rub into the eyes of any potential muggers. Muggings were common place in Medieval times - especially during the period when Hemp became the first recreational drug. Soon after, the use of ground Mace became widespread as a deterrent, and scenes like the following one were played out daily:

(A merchant travelling through town is approached by a local)

Local: Good Morrow Sir, pray tell me: what wares do you have for sale?

Merchant: Good Morrow to you good sir - I have oils and perfumes from afar to sweeten the aroma of the lady in your life - wait, what doth you now?

Local (having pulled out a Turnip): Cease thy jabbering! Give me thy purse, or I shall beat thee to death with this Turnip!

Merchant (pulling out his bag of ground Mace): A pox on you and your Turnip! No monies will you take from me today! But you shall take THIS!! (throws the Mace in the locals face and rubs it in)

Local: Aaargh!! Mine eyes!! They doth burn like a blacksmith's furnace!! Oh apothecary, where art though? I need soothing ointment for this pain!

Merchant (merrily making his escape): 'twas fortunate I had my Mace with me - although it is perilous having to get so close in order to make it affective. If only it could be sprayed instead?.....

Or something like that.

I had a discussion with a friend tonight about Christmas, and children, and how the magic is kept alive for the kids. My friend said that she doesn't do Presents under the tree for her kids, they get all their presents in a big sack each in their room.

I said that I didn't agree with that - and I punched her in the face. I then went on to say that you need to keep the magic alive for as long as possible, and the way I would do it would be like this:

• each child gets a small stocking, or pillow case in their room with small presents in. I had a pillowcase when I was a child and inside would be a yo-yo, some plastercine, a colouring book, a Satsuma, and a lump of coal.

• the children would play with their small presents (or coal) until Mummy and Daddy - or Daddy and Daddy (this is a modern world, folks) - got up. Then everyone would go downstairs to see if Santa had been and left presents under the tree.

• The big presents would indeed be under the tree - and the illusion of Father Christmas having visited would be made by a half eaten mince pie, and half a glass of milk on a table. For extra effect you can leave some reindeer poo on your carpet (dog poo will do - its easy to find locally, and the kids won't know the difference), and a hoof print nearby. Make sure to do more than one hoof print - unless the Mummy is going to pretend to be angry and say:
"Tsk! That Santa has been here alright - and his brought that one legged, Diarrhoea stricken Reindeer with him again. I'll be having words......"

• Everyone then sits down together and opens the big presents. One person could be in charge of giving the presents out even.

Following these few simple tips will ensure the Magic of Christmas stays with your children for longer each year.

I very sadly learned today that someone that was in my year at School, died recently aged just 40 years old. To my shame, I didn't immediately recognise the name, and I'm struggling to picture her in my mind.
It is a real tragedy to die at such an age. 40 years is nothing, and at times like this we are reminded just how fragile life is.
We fill our lives with frivolous things that mean nothing. Our pursuit of the material trappings of life, often causes us to lose sight of what is truly important.
It doesn't matter what you earn, how big your house is, or how new your car is. What really matters (in my opinion) is Family, and True Friends.

We only get one life - and we don't know how long we get to live it. So don't lose sight of the people you love and the people who love you.

Rest in Peace Claire Southgate. X

Monday, 27 February 2012

Success, Worrying Suspicion, Above & Beyond, Natural Irony, Motoring Coincidence?......and Talent

I start today's blog with good news: I have successfully passed the first of my three British Sign Language assessments. Not only that, but I got the maximum marks possible. Now I have to prepare for my second assessment, which is in two weeks time. As part of my preparation, next weeks Sign Language class will be strictly "Voices off" - no talking allowed, only sign language.

My personal email account is worrying me slightly, as I'm beginning to think it knows something I don't. Every day, my Spam folder is inundated with emails offering me Viagra at amazing discount prices. Now I know it's been a long time since I - you know - but I'm fairly confident that when the time comes for me to rejoin the living, I will remember - and so will the parts of my body concerned. I'm assuming it's like riding a bike - you never forget. However, unlike riding a bike, you can't offer your mate a 'backy' home. I nay be 40 years old, but there is life in this old dog yet!

If you want great Customer Service, buy Tea. Or rather, just enquire about Tea. I contacted Twinings last week about a loose leaf version of their Everyday Tea, which a friend of mine had said he enjoyed, but couldn't find it in loose leaf. After checking the Twinings website, I emailed them at their "Contact Us" address and enquired after this loose leaf Everyday Tea.
I got a response from Twinings later that day, saying that they no longer made the Everyday tea in a loose leaf variety - but would I like to try their Breakfast Tea in a loose leaf, with their compliments? I accepted this kind offer, and duly received two boxes of loose leaf Breakfast Tea on Saturday in the post. This morning, I emailed Twinings Customer Service to say thank you for the Tea, and I joked that I had forgotten to buy a tea strainer in anticipation of receiving this Tea. Well, I got a reply almost immediately, apologising for not sending me a tea strainer out with the tea, and offering to post one to me overnight. This was really much more than I expected, and I kindly declined the offer stating that it wasn't Twinings place to ensure that I had the right equipment with which to fully enjoy my tea. I haven't come across Customer Service of that level in a long time; and I will write to Twinings to sing the praises of their Customer Service representative who helped me so much. There's a good chance that if I say my kettle broke before I got a chance to sample the tea, they might send me a new one...

You know the saying "like a red rag to a Bull"? Well that is actually a Myth (not the saying - that exists -, but the idea behind it) as it is the movement of the Matador's cape that causes the reaction from the Bull, and not the colour. In fact, most mammals are Red-Green colourblind. But that is not the only quirk in the animal kingdom; there are many others - some of which are quite ironic. For example, did you know:
• Some species of Puffin have been found with symptoms akin to Vertigo.
• Albatross are prone to bouts of paranoia.
• Squirrels have a very mild nut allergy, which is why they store nuts rather than eating all they find and building up fat reserves like a bear does before hibernating.
• Owls are prone to Glaucoma.
• Ants colonies have been known to spontaneously destroy themselves after what can only be described as widespread outbreaks of claustrophobia.
• The Patagonian Mountain Mallard is allergic to its own feathers.

Natural selection may be a well respected theory or fact even - but you can't tell me that nature doesn't have it's own sense of humour.

Now, Top Gear - the long running motoring programme on the BBC. Gas anyone else noticed that whenever the presenters are chatting to each other or a guest on the 'sofa', in every camera shot of the presenters or guest with the audience behind them, there is ALWAYS a pretty girl in view. Is this coincidence? Or is it deliberate? I think it's the latter - before each broadcast the producer must work through the crowd, picking out the fittest women to stand in shot, whilst sending all the hunchbacked, snaggle-toothed, single eyebrowed wart infested hags to the back of the crowd for fear of terrorising the Stig. You check this out for yourself - next time you watch Top Gear, keep an eye on the audience when they have that "Star in a reasonably priced car" bit on. There is definitely something going on........

I stopped off on my way home after parking my car at work to visit the local
Open Mic night. I got there just in tone to see a very highly rated band called Stopgosixty ( They were closing the evening, and were very good. And this made be realise that if you can play any instrument, or have any talent of any description: words, dance, music, painting, sculpture - anything, then you have a gift the rest of us can only dream of. A great deal of my relatives are talented musically, and I just think that having the ability to bring such joy to so many people, is a rare gift indeed and it should be nurtured, and allowed to grow.

And to all of you out there who have a talent, or who are able to bring joy to others in whatever way you choose - I salute you; you are the angels here on earth because what you can do, affects so many other people.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

2 For 1 Blog - Part 2: Surprise Sunday....And Walking My Arse Off

You know when you get those days that turn out unexpectedly good?

Well I've had one of those today!

On paper, today wasn't looking anything special; a walk in the morning, then later cook lunch, and then an afternoon of sport: firstly, Arsenal vs Tottenham in the Premier League, then Scotland vs France in the Six Nations, and then Liverpool vs Cardiff in the Carling Cup Final.

So, that was my day on paper. In my head, it was going to be worse.

To start with, when I woke up this morning, I was not in any kind of mood for going on a walk. My feet were still slightly sore from the 12 mile walk I had done the day before. Then there was lunch; I was going to attempt a new recipe hitherto untried by me. Chances of success were slim.

My afternoon of sport were overshadowed by omens of doom. On current form, Arsenal were due to get spanked. Having watched them self destruct against AC Milan a week earlier, and knowing how well Tottenham were playing at the moment, I was prepared for an afternoon of smashing my head against a wall in frustration.

And the Rugby wasn't shaping up to be much better. I always want Scotland to do well, but they always fall short. Plus, France seem to have two or three extra gears than most other teams.

And the Carling Cup Final? Not worth watching - Cardiff were bound to get thrashed by Liverpool.

So how did my day turn out?

Well, I went on my walk in the morning - and felt a million times better for it. It was misty this morning, which gave the the countryside a strange eerie beauty. I walked 7 miles, bringing my weekend total to 26 miles. And my feet didn't suffer too bad.

Cooking lunch was somewhat of a mixed bag. I made the pancake mix fine, but only got three useable pancakes out of enough mix to make eight. I did have to eat three pancakes that didn't come out properly, and the three that I did get we're quite thick. In terms of the amount of mix to user per pancake, less is more apparently.

These were going to be savoury pancakes, and the filling was made up of two onions chopped and fried, along with bacon, chopped apple, and in my recipe, chopped spinach. In truth, the filing came out beautifully - so much so that I will use that filling for other things - jacket potatoes for example.

I had trouble with the cheese sauce though. I followed the recipe, but in the pan it suddenly thickened really quickly, and although I was whisking it furiously, I couldn't prevent it turning thick and lumpy.

However, that didn't stop me using it on my savoury pancakes. And using to fill cracks in my artex ceiling. I baked the pancakes (with the filling, and the lumpy cheese sauce on it) for 25 minutes, and then ate it. My presentation left much to be desired, as I got annoyed trying to dish up, and everything ended up slopped on my plate, in a "Puppy turned inside out" kind of way.

My overall summary of my lunch; needs more work.

And my afternoon of sport? After 30 minutes, Arsenal were losing 0-2. But then they came back and won 5-2. It was the performance they needed, the result they needed, against their biggest rivals. It doesn't cure all their problems, but it showed their character.

In the rugby, Scotland lost to France - but they weren't humiliated. They scored two tries, and showed more invention and progress than I have seen in a long time. There were a lot of positives in that game, and my belief in Scotland remains.

And then there was the Carling Cup Final. Liverpool won - but they had to do it on penalties, Cardiff took them all the way, and it was one of the best finals I've ever seen. A great advert for the game, it had drama all the way through.

So that was my day - not everything went according to plan, but it was really enjoyable.

As you know, I do a lot of walking. 10 miles during the working week, and between 21 and 31 miles at the weekend. In February, by the end of the month, I would have walked approximately 150 for the month. I walked 113 miles in January, so am on target to do 1500 miles this year.

But why am I walking? Well mainly because it is my only source of exercise. I've got a bad back - or am susceptible to bad backs - so I can't run of play football etc. Walking is cheap and easy.

Secondly, I've want to lose some weight, as I'm an usher at a friends wedding in July, and want to look good in my suit. At the beginning of January 2012 I weighed approximately 16st 10lbs (234lbs). At the moment - 26th February 2012 - I way approximately 16 stones (224 lbs). So I have lost around 10lbs.

And for the first time, I have started noticing a difference in my body. Basically, my jeans are getting looser around the waist. I've had to put extra holes in my belts do that I can tighten them enough to keep my jeans up.

When you consider, that a few years ago at my heaviest I weighed over 17 stone, I'm quietly pleased with my progress this year.

At times it seems a chore to get out every weekend and walk, but I am starting to see results, so I will keep on beasting out the miles!

Mainly cos I'm getting buns of steel.

2 For 1 Blog - Part 1: Runaway Purchases And Cook Steps Into The Unknown

This is the blog I should have written for Saturday 25th Feb 2012. I'm sorry that I didn't get to do it on the actual day, but I was busy and

Hang on - why am I apologising? You're not the Boss of me!? Here's the blog:

I've gone a bit mental in terms of shopping in the last 24 hours. Yesterday (Friday) was payday and, as I got to finish early from work, I thought I would go and do my grocery shopping and get it out of the way.

The first shop of the month is always a 'big' shop. I always spend more than I normally budget for, because I have to buy not only food, but also cleaning products, laundry products, toiletries - and might treat myself to a few nice bits. This time I was also buying ingredients for a forthcoming voyage of culinary discovery, do that added to the overall cost.

In the end I got £70 worth of shopping - but it only cost me £62, due to a cunning use of vouchers. Still £62 is a fair chunk of money, but at least I had got everything I needed.

Or so I thought.

I went home, put my shopping away, and went out for a 7 mile walk. During this walk I thought the meatballs and pasta that I was going to have for tea later on. I decided that a nice bit of garlic baguette would go very well with that meal, and made a mental note to pop into my local Co-op (other retailers are available in your area) and purchase one.

When I got to Co-op, I found that there was another note attached to my mental note about the Garlic baguette. This second note said that I needed further ingredients for my planned weekend of cooking. In addition to this my 'Don't actually need it, but get it anyway' gland was working overtime, and subsequently I left the Co-op with 2 full carrier bags, and £10.34 lighter in my wallet.

Saturday morning comes around. After a 12 mile walk to start my day, I think about the cooking I'm going to be doing later on. I had been been given a few varieties on a theme in terms of recipes, and was reading through one that I planned to try at some point this weekend, when I realised that I was missing some vital equipment without which my gastronomic endeavours would fail before it had even started. So I went down to my local 'cheap store that does everything from footwear to bedding to perfumes to housewares' and came away with two ceramic oven dishes, a glass bowl, and a whisk. Another £12 spent.

But now I knew I had everything I needed.

Actually I didn't - but I muddled through. The ironic thing is, is that it was only the fact that I had been paid the day before that allowed me to spend so freely. If I had had the same notion to cook at the end of the month when the money had run out, I either wouldn't have bothered trying to cook, or would have found ways round my lack of ingredients or utensils.

So, I'll eat well this weekend and next, and then go back to having jacket potato and beans.

This weekend has been party to another 'First' for me. I am taking tentative steps into real cooking - buying ingredients, preparing food, cooking meals from scratch - and this weekend I have tried my hand at making a batter mix, and pancakes. Now many of you will be saying "But pancakes are easy - that Larry, he's such an idiot; I hate him - let's stab him in the face, with a cookbook for irony"

Or something like that.

But you have to remember that for a single (and handsome, funny, and intelligent) guy living by myself, for a long time I've slipped into (a masturbation induced coma?, a pair of French knickers?, reverse when trying to find fourth gear?) the bad habit of eating either frozen ready meals, tinned goods, or take away - so to actually do things properly from scratch is taking me out of my comfort zone somewhat.

Anyway, I made my batter/pancake mix. Here's a tip: apparently Duck eggs are better for using in a pancake mix than chicken eggs. I followed the instructions - which had been sent to me in an email by someone extremely lovely - and the mix looked ok. I don't have a cook book - single guy, eats out of tins usually, remember?.

I had my pan hot with butter melted in it (after consulting my fabulously clever and bearded friend Alyn), and poured my pancake mix in to start my pancake cooking bonanza!

Initially, things did not go well. Firstly, I didn't leave my pancakes long enough in the pan to cook properly, do any attempt to move them resulted in their complete disintegration. The first few times, what made it onto my plate looked more like baby vomit than a pancake. Still, with a little lemon and sugar, it was edible.

I cannot guarantee that actual baby vomit can be made edible in the same way, and cannot be held responsible for any unpleasantness experienced as a result of trying.

As with anything in life (with the possible exception of eating baby vomit), the more I did, the better it got. I was learning on the job - I gave my pancakes more time in the pan, and they responded by becoming more stable. Now it was time for the next test - the toss.

Now, this might come as a surprise to many of you, but tossing doesn't come naturally to me. Initially, I wasn't tossing enough. Fear of failure resulted in my pancakes flopping half over pathetically, and my attempts to rectify the situation just inflicted massive trauma on the partially cooked pancake.

(note to self: a career as a surgeon is unlikely)

Undeterred (I ate every pancake) I carried on, and tossed with more vigour! Improvements were made to a degree - I managed to flip the pancake over, but would often catch it half in / half out of the pan, so 50% would continue to cook beautifully, while 50% lay on my kitchen floor screaming "THE THREE SECOND RULE! THE THREE SECOND RULE!"

Of course, I salvaged all floor based pancake, and reunited it with its brethren in the pan.

By the time I got to the end of the batch, I had my pancakes pretty much down pat. So next, I am going to make some savoury pancakes (with Gammon and apple to be precise) which have to be baked. This means I need to make a cheese sauce (another first), and will get to use the ceramic baking dish I bought.

See? Everything happens for a reason.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Alarm.....and Deadly Silence

You know when you change your alarm time at the weekend? When you put it back by an hour or two, because you know you don't HAVE to get up that early - in fact you don't actually need to set the alarm at all, but you don't want to 'waste the day' by getting up late?

Why is it, when we want to set the alarm for 7:30am, but accidentally set it for 8:30am that we never leave it, and have to advance the time around again until it gets to 7:30? And always as fast as humanly possible? How many times have you, or a loved one been hunched over your alarm clock, rapidly pressing the hour advance button as fast as you can?

God forbid you waste 22 seconds of your life steadily advancing the time until it is correct! No, it's much better to try and do it in 3 seconds flat - that is unless you have one of those "fancy" alarm clocks where you hold the button down and the time advances automatically really fast.

And I don't mean time everywhere, just on the alarm clock. If there was a button that could advance time in general, husbands and boyfriends everywhere would try and make it into the bedroom whilst being bawled out by their wives / girlfriends just so they could fast forward through the argument.

Mind you, if you're a bloke you know when you are really in trouble, when you see your missus cleaning fast. When the fast cleaning starts, it's time to leave the house - perhaps forever. They scrub away at breakneck speed (and it's called breakneck speed because that is what they are thinking about), with tears of hurt and rage streaming down their face - and as blokes, what do we do?

We say 'you alright?'

Now, we know the answer to that question even before we've asked it - and yet we still ask. And we ask it genuinely because way back in the beginning of the relationship, we were the one who would comfort her when she was upset, we would be her rock - so instinct tells us to comfort her now.
Never mind the fact that it is us that has upset her in the first place!

So we ask 'are you okay?' and we get the most ominous answer in the history of ominous answers:

'Im fine.'

So now it's one word answers. Single syllabul islands in a sea of silence. In many ways, an angry and upset woman is very similar to the "Doodlebug" bombs of the Blitz in the second World War. They would have a limited engine capacity and would cut out just before falling to earth and exploding. And it was their silence that was the most terrifying - because you knew the explosion was soon to follow.

Which is why a woman cleaning fast and not saying much is an indication that things are about to get much, much worse.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Death, Dreams, And.....Development Defers Decline in Successful Mafia Hits

I really should shower more often.

Not to say that I don't shower frequently as it is, you understand. What I mean is that after an evening knowing I've got to write my blog yet struggling to think of a suitable subject, I take a shower - and hey presto! Ideas fall on my brain like the the drops of water from my shower. Within minutes I was working through some ideas - and at the same time was lovely and clean and smelling gorgeous, Ladies......raowwrrr!

(Ahem) sorry about that.

So....... Death. Comes to us all, we can't avoid it. But what happens after we die? Now, I am not going to get into any arguments about religion - mainly because I am not articulate or intelligent enough to convey what I mean clearly enough to make sense. Everything I am about to say is purely what I feel, and believe personally. So please don't take offence. Well you can if you like - but I do not mean any offence.

I believe in God in a spiritual way. I don't believe that he actually created the Earth. I know about the Big Bang etc. (I've heard of it). I carry God with me in my heart, but I do not go to Church on a Sunday - although, the last time I went to Mass I found the peace and tranquility a great comfort.
I also believe in Heaven - I believe that we go somewhere, or our souls do, after we die. I believe that my parents, and all those I have lost are there - and that they look down upon me. I do not like the thought that there is just nothing, just blackness waiting for us when we die. We all have a consciousness, which is more than the electrical impulses from our brain that make our muscles move. We are more than physical beings.

I am also partial to a couple of other ideas regarding what happens after we die.
Firstly, I could quite easily think it was possible that when we die, we get to start another life as another person. We could be a different sex or ethnicity and live in another part of the world, with no memory of any past existence.
Secondly, and furthermore, it think it conceivable that our 'next life' could happen at anytime in the past, and not just the present. This may sound far fetched, but it is only my opinion. I don't fully know how time might work. For all I know it might be possible to re-start a new existence after I die two hundred years earlier. I like the idea of being able to come back - even if I never knew I had 'lived' before.

Like I said, these were the thoughts that came to me in the shower tonight. Most of you will think them (and me) weird - and I can see where you are coming from. All I do know for definite is that when I do die - many years from now - I will be reunited with my parents, and my uncles and aunts, and everybody I knew that has passed away in my lifetime. That is what I believe.

Question: Is there a difference between being unconscious after falling asleep, and being unconscious after getting smacked over the head with a bottle?

Do you dream when you are unconscious just like when you are asleep? Or is it different because the state of unconsciousness is 'forced' upon you when you get knocked out, rather than you slipping into it as you fall deeper asleep. ?

I honestly can't say one way or the other? My instinct tells me no - but I can't quantify why.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, let me know.

The Mafia - always sending people to "Sleep with the fishes". But was there a period of 'research and development' where they finally came up with encasing the feet of the victim in concrete?

Are there a multitude of Mafia informants in the Witness Protection Programme, alive purely because they were given Polystyrene shoes, or an overcoat made of arm bands? The mafia must have worked their way through loads of other materials before settling for concrete.

Surely ?

Well that is it for today. Tomorrow is Friday - and payday, so I'm in a good mood.

Hope you are too'

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Hornby Railway Trees In The Thin Layer of Lava Just Below The Magma Following An Eruption

If 'Going Without' was an Olympic event, I would be the World Record Holder. Not only am I not having any Chocolate, Money that lasts me a month, Luck with women - and therefore Sex, New Clothes, Luck on the Lottery, Extensive choice of ingredients with which to cook a variety of interesting and new recipes, Or any sort of hope of getting my Laptop fixed - but yesterday I didn't have any pancakes either. On Pancake Day itself .

What a Git.

Mind you, I live in hope for that glorious day when my numbers come in, I have a shopping spree, get dressed to the nines, meet a woman, bring her back to my place for a fabulous meal cooked by myself, and then have a chocolate fuelled shag-a-thon.

Which I will then post a video of on YouTube and Blog about using my new Laptop.

But in the meantime: Pancakes.

Although missing out yesterday, I shall not be denied. This weekend, once I have been paid, I will buy the ingredients (and if necessary, the equipment) with which to make pancakes. I have a recipe from a cousin for fabulous savoury pancakes, and I can't wait to try it out. But, like a Bus Driver who ignores passengers requests to disembark, I'm not stopping there - oh no no no!

I have been told, that APPARENTLY the same mixture you use to make pancakes, can also be used to make other things - Yorkshire Puddings and......generic batter mixes. Of course, I laughed such talk off as heretic babble, and then punched the person for lying to me.

Well mix me with two eggs and pour me in a frying pan - it turns out that my colleague with the broken nose was right! So not only will I be making both sweet and savoury pancakes this weekend, but I will also be attempting to cook Toad In The Hole - and possibly a full Roast dinner with Yorkshire Puddings!!

I know!! Check me out!!

But my newly ignited interest in batter mix, has raised a weighty and unavoidable question:

Actually, two questions. (Please try to keep the feeling of suspense in your minds)

Firstly, why is Toad in The Hole called that? And secondly, what else can you put in a batter mix, apart from sausages? And what would you call it?

That's three questions, I know.

'Legend' has it that Toad in The Hole is called that because the Sausages look like Toads peeking out of a hole. That may be - if you've got cataracts, but to me, and most people I assume, they don't look like Toads. If anything, they more like snakes, or fat, brown slugs. The trouble is, "Fat, Brown Slugs in The Hole" doesn't sound too appetising.

I have known and enjoyed Toad in The Hole for many years - but why is it always Sausages? Why has no-one tried anything else? The possibilities are almost endless - not only for meat, but for vegetables as well. Fish might be a bit iffy, however.

But there are definitely options available. I'm fairly adventurous, so may well experiment this weekend. I'm sure I could do something with different meat or vegetables - or even both.

But what to call it? Do I have to keep it "In The Hole"? (We've all asked that question) Maybe I could create something "In a bog" - not the toilet type - or "In a ditch" perhaps. Or, what about "In the thin layer of lava just below the magma following an eruption"?

I like that - I think that works. So all I have to do is decide what to call the sausage replacement. I think, I will have to go with the following:

Meatballs = Dung Balls
Mince = Termites
Bacon = Squashed Frog
Chicken = Albino Whale

Broccoli = Hornby Railway Trees
Cauliflower = Brains
Brussel Sprouts = Footballs
Leek = Missiles

So, this weekend I might cook Brains in a Bog, Termites in a Ditch, or Hornby Railway Trees in the thin layer of lava just below the magma following an eruption.

Sounds tasty, eh?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Time.......Teachers Are People Too?.....And Do Not Open a Card From Me

Can you believe that it will be March soon? Where does the year go?

It's the same ever year - you get through Christmas, and before you can say "Another Turkey sandwich? Yes please!" you are a quarter of the way through the following year.

Already I'm struggling to remember anything of partial significance that happened in January and February. I think there isn't even a real need to name those first two months, because they whizz by so fast that no-one remembers anything about them. Even people who have Birthdays in those months can't recall what they got, or how they celebrated because it is all a blur.

You might as well rename them "Huh?" and "Whassat?".

Talking of Teachers.....(nice seamless link eh?) I remember the first time I saw one of my teachers outside of School. I was at Primary School, so about Fourteen (I was kept back for the amusement of the staff - they loved watching me at Six foot plus trying to sit on one of those small chairs). I'm joking of course -I was Five or Six.

I was out shopping with my family - we always went as a group, to save our parents having to repeat the tales of their shopping exploits to any of us children who weren't there. Suddenly I saw one of my Primary School teachers out in town, and was genuinely shocked to see her. At that young age I honestly thought she only existed in the classroom, and that she lived in the school and never ventured out. To see her carrying a loaf of bread was mind boggling; as far as I knew, Teachers lived off chalk and the dust from Blackboard Erasers.

Which I know is also chalk, and yes I said Blackboard - I can say that, because that is what it was. And if anyone says that is not politically correct, they can get a life, and get out more.

But the concept of Teachers as real people? Mental.
Plus if I met any of my old teachers today, I would still call them 'Sir' or 'Miss'. None of this first name business.

I'm developing a bad habit. Recently when sending someone a card, I've either chosen an inappropriate card, or have written something quite wrong inside it, which doesn't quite convey the tone accurately.

Last year it was my Brother in law's Birthday. So what did I do? Sent him an "In Sympathy" card with the message:
'You're married to my Sister - I'm so sorry,'

Technically, not the card to send -but luckily for me, I got away with it.

Well, I have struck again. It is my Nephew's Birthday on Sunday, and I have just written his card out ready for posting. I wrote the usual stuff - have a lovely day blah blah - but then got the idea to write this:

Birthdays are a lot like a poo;
Sometimes they take ages to come, and sometimes they come along really fast.
And sometimes they are painful with sweetcorn in.

My Nephew is 14 (or 13 - I don't know, he's my Sister's kid; she deals with that stuff), and that is not really appropriate.

I don't know why I do it - maybe its a cry for help.

Trouble is, no-one is listening.

Monday, 20 February 2012

No Time To Make The Sign For "Give Me A Minute!"

So I went back to Sign Language tonight after a break for Half Term. I don't know why exactly we have a break - none of the people in the class go to School anymore, but we had a break anyway.

There was a lot of anticipation in the air because we were wondering if the results of our BSL101 assessments had come back. Sadly, they had not - but were expected to be not too long
Our tutor found a good way to get the thoughts of our 1st assessment out of our heads; she told us that our second assessment would be in 3 weeks time!!

Panic set in, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Mind you, nothing could be heard because we were signing the wailing and the gnashing.

So I have 3 weeks until my BSL102 assessment. This time I will have to have a conversation about a specific topic - either Hobbies & Interests, Pets, Family, Work, or Transport. Again, it will be a two way conversation - but I will be doing most of the signing and the assessor will be the one asking questions.

And the input is stepping up a gear - more to learn, and less time in class to keep going over it. The emphasis is more on us to practice - which isn't easy when you live alone. All I can do is sign to myself in the mirror.

But, I'm still loving learning the Sign Language!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

2 For 1 Blog - Part 2: What A Morning!

I'm not quite sure how to word this, so apologies if this doesn't read very well.

Everybody has different friends that they have known for different lengths of time. That is just the way life is. Using myself as an example, this year already I have made four new friends - people that I had never met before until this year, and have got on well enough with them to consider them a friend. Then there are the Friends I have made since living in Sturminster Newton, whom I have only known for less than 2 years. Going slightly further back are the Friends I have made since I have lived in Dorset - which is just over 6 years.
I also have friends that I have known since I was living in Essex. In years these "Essex" Friends (many of whom are now scattered far and wide) have known me and been my friends from between 11 and 36 years.

So I have many friends, but have known them for varying lengths of time. But I'll come back to them in a minute.

I am firmly of the opinion that as I go through this life, I get better and better at being me. That might sound big headed, but it isn't meant to be. All I mean is that when I look back at where I have come from as a person, I am almost a totally different person in some respects.

This might come as a shock to some people, but I haven't always been he funny, intelligent, handsome man you all know and love. Certainly growing up and during my school years, I didn't have a very enjoyable time. Now this isn't a sob story, and I definitely do not want any sympathy, as plenty of kids I knew were worse off than me in certain ways. I'm just saying what I feel inside.

I had no confidence, I stood out because I was tall, didn't have many real friends, got bullied quite a lot, and had a different focus on life due to how things were at home. I didn't follow fashion, or music, and just didn't feel like other kids my age. To be honest, I was a naive loser. Well, looking back that is how I see myself back then now.

And then at the tender age of 18, I met my best Friend, who treated me like shit and bullied me into shape. I discovered my sense of humour, and found that I was a god at playing in goal for 5-a-side football. My confidence grew, as did my common sense, and I began to enjoy life. There were hiccups along the way as everybody experiences, but that is life. 5-a-side playing led to 11-a-side playing, and a feeling of belonging to a group. Thursday night football training, followed by a KFC on the journey home was the highlight of my week.

Then I fell in love, and moved to Dorset. I made new Friends and had a partner that love me. And although that relationship would eventually end - due to failings on both our parts - I was never going to leave Dorset.

And all through my life I have been evolving as a person - and certainly in terms of my own feeling of self worth, I have got better and better and better. And I continue to do so - but not alone.

I have evolved because of the friendships I have made. Like a plant needs nurturing to grow, I have been nurtured by the friendships - and love, because there are many friends that I have a love for, and I feel the love from - that I have enjoyed over the years.

From Liz Clapp, who has known me the longest of all my friends, to Tomas and Steph who I met about a month ago, but have taken to me like we've known each other years.

From my best mate - who hasn't seen eye to eye with me (and vice versa) on many things, but who I can pick up our friendship with after 7 years just like I'd seen him yesterday.

To Katie Beale, who is my second longest distance Friendship (Your number one Martin Cook), and even though we only text once in a while, and inspire of the fact that at one time I confessed undying love for her - several times - she remains my friend.

The friends I have huge love for: my best friend (obviously), but also Jay and Ali, Harriet and Stan, Heather and Peter, and of course Alyn and Emma - all of whom have been so kind and lovely to me without ever asking for anything in return.

To those school friends that I appear to have made closer bonds with in recent years than at School.

My Friends are the fabric of my life, and there are so many others that I have not mentioned above that mean do much to me.

I imagine my life as a day - I was born in the morning, I'm roughly at Midday now, and will die (hopefully) late at night. If it turns out I die at 12:23 in the afternoon, I shall be pissed off.
And the minutes and seconds that tick by are the people that mean something to me, and the experiences I have had through meeting them.

And as I look back from now, Midday in my life, at the morning that I have had, all I can say is - What a Morning!

You, my friends, have helped me become the person I am today, and you will help me to develop into the person I am meant to be.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

2 for 1 Blog - Part One: Chopstick Inoperability, Chilli Roulette, and Mini Turtle Powercut

Firstly, apologies for not writing this blog yesterday (Saturday 18th February 2011). I got home late from a night out and was knackered.

Secondly, everything I talk about in today's blog happened last night. That's not to say that I did nothing else all day yesterday - far from it, but I'm not going to tell you everything I do, am I?

So on with blog.

Last night I had been invited over to my friends' Alyn and Emma house for dinner and a catch up. On the menu was some delicious Asian Fusion food that Alyn was cooking. I'd had food of similar origin the last time I visited them - so either they both really like the stuff, or Alyn was just going through a "phase".

I went through a phase once - it was bed-wetting.

Anyway, amidst games of such quality as 'What does this ingredients smell remind you of?' I chatted to Alyn and cuddled his baby daughter Fern. I did try it the other way round initially, but Fern isn't a great conversationalist,- and Alyn was a bit too clingy.

Emma appeared shortly after; she had been out buying bits and provisions - including four bottles of Coca Cola which she had bought on offer (4 for £2). As a result, she would spend the rest of the evening farting and belching like a dirty belchy farty thing.

Actually, that isn't true. The Coca Cola wasn't 4 for £2, it was buy 2 get 2 free.

Soon enough, dinner was served. Being "Eastern" in origin, Chopsticks were provided alongside the regular cutlery. Now I like Chopsticks (although I am not sure they warrant a capital letter "c" every time I mention them), but just can't get the bloody things to work. I've had the theory of how to use them explained to me slowly, and using drawings and puppets - and yet they just lie there motionless while my dexterity drained digits clumsily paw at them to no avail.

Which means they now join necklace clasps and bra fastenings on my list of "Things I'll never master"

In the end, I discarded the chopsticks and used a fork. Meanwhile, Alyn and Emma mocked me by using their chopsticks to not only eat their meal with, but to also take turns catching a fly with them (a different pair of chopsticks to the ones used for eating, obviously), and throwing the fly - who wasn't harmed, just trapped by their expert skill - to each other for the other to catch.

The Gits.

Inspire of my failure with the chopsticks, the meal was absolutely gorgeous. I was given a bowlful of noodles in a broth with various bits of exotic looking vegetables mixed in. Then there were five smaller bowls in the middle of the table that had bits to add to the meal if desired. These included, lime quarters ( to squeeze the juice from), sesame seeds (I think), fried garlic and...something, some herbs, and - chillies.

Now given my recent experiences with Chillies, you would have thought that I would have at least enquired as to their strength. Well you might have thought that, by I didn't. I merrily sprinkled the liberally over my dish.

And then they disappeared. And I forgot all about them.

Until, several mouthfuls later one of the little buggers suddenly appeared in my mouth amidst a heap of noodles and shouted "Coo-eee!!!" - and then set my head on fire. I coughed, my eyes streamed, my vocal chords were vaporised so I could only whisper, as I reached for my beer and drank to put out the flames. I then reached for my water (not MY water, but my glass of water) as the beer had done nothing.
Soon the heat had gone - but now I was left with another dilemma.

In the bottom of my bowl was about an inch of broth. And in that broth, somewhere, more chillies lurked waiting to get me. The music from "Jaws" briefly played through my mind, closely followed by the notion that I was about to play Chilli Russian Roulette.

No, the idea of leaving my bowl unfinished never entered my head.

I started taking spoonfuls of broth - my hand shaking more than an epileptic standing on a huge jelly during a violent earthquake. Every time I swallowed, I expected pain and heat, but thankfully it never came. Now either there were no more chillies in that bowl, or my taste buds had been removed completely from my mouth so I could have eaten Acid and not felt it.

Either way, the score was now Chillies 2, Larry 0.

Alyn and Emma have small Turtles - not Terrapins apparently, there is a lot of rivalry between the mini Turtle and Terrapin communities - and they live in a tank in shallow water, with rock they can climb out on to.

A lot like Terrapins really.

They have a heater and a light in the lid of their tank, which is on a timer and switches off at a given time. Now while this if perfectly acceptable to us, I can't say for certain that the mini Turtles like it. To them it must be like having a Powercut. Last night I didn't hear the Turtles moving around at all - until their light went out. Then all I could hear was them bumping into things in the Darkness. Just imagine what it is like:

(Light goes out)
Turtle 1: "Oh, great - we've had a Powercut!"
Turtle 2: "Who said that?"
Turtle 1: "Don't take the piss! Get the Candles!"
Turtle 2: (banging into things) "Ow! Okay, hang on. Ouch! Here they are"
Turtle 1: "What about the matches?"
Turtle 2: "They're in my coat pocket in the bedroom"
Turtle 1: "The bedroom? But that's under the water!"
Turtle 2: "Oh yeah......oops."
Turtle 1: "I hate my life."

Or something like that...

Friday, 17 February 2012

Ramblings (Not Naked) Of A Bored Man

You'll have to forgive this blog - yet again, I have nothing specific to write about. However, I'm game if you are, do lets see where this goes.

I'll start with where I am; I'm sat at home on my sofa, typing this blog on the App on my IPhone. My laptop is sat six feet away from me, absolutely useless. I can't use it as God intended because its display adapter has failed so I cannot see anything on screen. I have discovered (through information passed to me by a friend) that it is possible to connect my laptop to my TV and use that as my screen. Subsequently, various cables have been purchased to make this technological dream a reality - but these too sit redundant along side my laptop. The problem is that the "port" - to use I.T. Jargon - to which I need to connect the cable to my TV is situated at the back of my TV, which in turn is nestled nicely in an alcove (see the bottom picture below). It was a real pain in the arse to get the TV into the alcove in the first place, and I am loathe to attempt to try and connect the cable by myself (using a hand mirror, and a footstool) as I know that there is a greater percentage chance that I will end up somehow ripping the TV off the wall bracket, than me successfully connecting the cable.

So Al, I'll need your assistance.

Obviously, that is a personal message for the Al in question, and he will understand. Well you will ALL understand it, as it wasn't cryptic, but I only want one Al - THE Al - to respond.

Anyway, what is the etiquette when it comes to updating photos of friends? If you look at the second picture below, you will see it is a picture of my best mate's son, Cain. It was taken about 8 years ago, and obviously Cain no longer looks like that.

I still do - but those are the cards life dealt me.

I've been thinking about updating that photograph with one of Cain and his dad which was taken by me in Scotland last year. But do I keep the old photograph? Or do I throw it out? Would it be considered rude to discard it? Must I keep
Photographs of my friends at various stages of my life, or can I just keep an up to date one?

Also, I have a picture of myself on holiday in Tunisia in 2003. Don't worry, I'm not in a mankini - I'm stood at the end of a boat out at sea. (think of that shot of Robert Shaw in "Jaws", except much, much less cool. And no shark.)
Is that a bit vain, to have a picture of yourself on display? I can understand a group photo where you are with other people (in case you don't know what group means - way to patronise your audience Larry), but a photo of just you - is that vain? I know in olden days, rich people had huge paintings done of them on horseback, or thrashing a servant to emphasise their wealth and standing, but today it smacks of arrogance maybe?

Unless I had a photograph taken of me with a load of other blokes who looked just like me. Then it would be a group photo - but at the same time it would be just me. Genius!

To be honest I am fairly bored. And as a direct result of this boredom, I really want some chocolate. As you all know not one tiny piece of chocolate has passed my lips in 2012, and that is an ongoing achievement that I am proud of. However, I could murder some right now. As I type this, my brain is going through my kitchen cupboards looking for something for me to eat. And when I say 'going through the cupboards', I mean mentally, not literally. I'm not sat here with an empty skull (although from the quality of this blog you'd be forgiven for thinking so) while my brain hops squelchingly from cupboard to cupboard searching for food. For a start, it wouldn't be able to open the cupboards as it has no arms or hands.

Unless of course, it used the power of telekinetic energy from the 90% unused part of the brain to open the cupboards and search......

Anyway, I'm hungry. But I know that I haven't got much in. My options include:

• Eating the contents of a small tin of Tomato Purée.
• Cup A Soup (Potato And Leek)
• A Parsnip
• A Jar of Pasta Sauce

None of these you will note, are sweet. Herein lies the problem. In an effort "to be good", I have removed anything of any tastiness from my kitchen. The only thing I have got that is remotely sweet is a bottle of Summer Fruits squash, and some sweeteners for tea. I suppose I could make a pint of squash and add some sweeteners to it - but it wouldn't be the same as chocolate.

And the high doses of sugar and....whatever they put in sweetener, might have an adverse affect on my enjoyable food stuff starved digestive system. If all else fails I'll nip out and get a packet of biscuits. Or two.

And if I'm going to, I'd better get a move on! I've just realised that it is 9:15pm and I've been typing this drivel for ages.

That's it then, I'm off to buy biscuits - but not chocolate one.

Sad face :-(

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Too Much Jiggling?

I read today that a man was in court after being arrested for Naked Rambling. And when I say Rambling, I mean the walking kind - not that he was stood with no clothes on wittering on about nothing in particular.

Apparently, this man was rambling through....I forget where, possibly the Lake District?. Anyway, wherever he was, he was rambling with only a hat, socks and walking boots, and a back pack on. Now firstly, I wouldn't necessarily consider that naked. defines Naked as "Without covering or clothing". Well - Aren't socks clothes? Does a hat not cover your head? Yes is the answer, so surely that man wasn't naked?

The man was arrested by an off-duty policeman who was out running and saw a woman with a "frown on her face" (that is an actual quote from the news article) who had just seen the man rambling naked past her as she walked her dog. Now, I have issues with this also:

Isn't it ALWAYS an off-duty policeman that just happens to be around when this sort of things happen? The police do a difficult and dangerous job, and they have my utmost respect for that - but surely they have better things to do to relax in their free time than go running in areas notorious for obscene hikers? Maybe they are addicted to policing and can't actually 'switch off', constantly on the look for wrong deeds being done. Or maybe, it wasn't an off-duty policeman at all - maybe it was some nutter that gets his kicks by pretending to be an off-duty policeman, and runs around sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong. For all we know that off-duty policeman might have already that day "arrested" a pensioner for having a tartan shopping trolley, and cautioned a fat kid for putting his heart under too much strain. And arent these 'would be ' policemen con artists a bigger worry than some bloke hiking in the nude? (although he wasn't, technically)

And what about the frowning, dog walking woman? She only frowned because it was some middle aged, pasty, flabby, hairy arsed nobody that defiled her view briefly. If it had been a young muscular, tanned hunk, she wouldn't have complained at all. In fact the only reason she probably got upset was because the naked man's unattractiveness reminded her of her waste of space husband at home that she spends four hours twice a day walking the dog to avoid!

And I don't think a man would have complained if he had seen the naked rambler. At most he would have had a laugh about it with his mates down the pub later. I doubt that most men would make a complaint if they were out walking their dog and a man - who was obviously rambling or hiking whatever - walked past. Unless of course their dog was traumatised by the affair.

I don't know how the dog took it - for all I know it may be having counselling.

The trouble is that if something is found to be offensive to one person, or one belief, or one section of society, then it automatically becomes offensive to all - the law makes it offensive to all. There is the old saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" - which basically means that physical attraction is subjective. What one person finds attractive, another might find unattractive - and vice versa.

In this instance, you also have to take into consideration the location. Now I don't know all the details, but I assume that ramblers by nature do not take the usual routes that everyone else takes. I know that there are specific rambling routes but these are through the countryside generally. And as rambling isn't that popular an activity (let alone naked rambling), I again assume that not many people were about. This naked rambler was only seen by the woman, her dog (who cannot be identified at its own request), and the off-duty policeman. Of course, if he had been rambling through a crowded shopping precinct, whacking pensioners in the face with his Penis, that would be another matter.

But going back to the subjective nature of beauty, if I stood naked in front of you now, I'm fairly certain that some of you would not find me attractive. Others, I am certain, would be vomiting uncontrollably, and even some would by desperately trying to gouge their own eyes out. But some of you - and you know who you are - might find me attractive. And that is the whole point; it is down to individual opinion.

Some women would not have been offended by the sight of that man rambling naked. Some would have laughed. Nearly all might have thought it was weird, but not everybody would have had the same reaction.

But like I said, society has to err on the side of caution, and we have to have sweeping generalisations for virtually all aspects of our lives to protect ourselves from ourselves.

If I had been out with my family (wife and children) and had seen that naked man, I most definitely would have thought it inappropriate for obvious reasons. But if I was out by myself, I would have maybe thought he was a brave but weird man.

And maybe felt a little intimidated.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Simple Pleasure

Let me tell you a little secret. Well not a secret exactly, more of a tip. It's not a wonderfully clever tip, but it does work wonderfully. What is it? This:

Take your enjoyment from wherever you can.

Things for everyone are tough at the moment. I certainly don't have the money to go out very often, and after a while, 'going without' can get you down. But you don't have to spend a fortune to put yourself in a good mood.

For me at the moment, I'm getting immense pleasure listening to Classical music on my phone. When I walk to and from work, I have my headphones in, and I listen to a few pieces of music.

I know that Classical music isn't everyone's cup of tea (which reminds me, I fancy a cup of tea), but trust me it is fabulous. The secret is to not care, and to participate. Generally, there are only two ways to listen to Classical music; you either mouth along to the any singing (I would say sing along, but most Classical singing is Choral and not in English), or you can pretend to conduct the Orchestra, or play a violin (many fine pieces of Classical music have wonderful Violin pieces in them) or other instrument.

A few of my favourite pieces of Classical music are as follows (search for these in YouTube):

• The 'Hallelujah' Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" - a great one to Sing along to (most versions you'll find will be in English)

• Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture - great to "Compose" along with.

• Beethoven's 5th Symphony - The music of this piece is widely thought to represent Fate knocking on the door, and when you hear it you will understand why.

• Bizet's Carmen: Act 1 - Prelude. One of the most famous pieces of Classical music ever written, and perfect for Conducting along with.

• Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March. Now THIS is one to be played loudly and to be both conducted and sung along to. It is fantastic!

You will be amazes how good a bit of pretend singing or orchestra conducting can make you feel. I often put a bit of classical on in the car if I am out driving. I crank the volume right up and wind my window down so I can share a bit of culture with the masses.

Some of you might think I'm stupid, and that is your opinion. Like I said, Classical music isn't everyone's bag, and that is fine too.

For me, it can lift me out of whatever less than chirpy mood I may be in, and can make my heart soar.

I love it.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Car Carpet Hazards, Birds, and.....Numbers

Okay, I'm late writing this, so let's get straight to it:

Today I had car trouble - both interior and exterior. Inside, it was my car mats that gave me trouble. The mats in my car are not heavy, plastic ones that stay in one place - they are like carpet samples, but not as rigid. As a result they move about and crumple up when I drive (well the driver's side one does).

This happened to me this morning as I was driving into work. Because I drive a small car, have big feet, and long legs, I can't lift my foot off the clutch pedal properly, and have to slide it off instead. This makes me move the may and cause it to crumple. As a result, I caught my foot on the crumpled may when I went to change gear, and I almost stalled. I effectively tripped myself up whilst driving!

Externally I wasn't faring much better. When I got to my car this morning, the left hand side of the windscreen, the passenger door, and that side of the roof was peppered with bird droppings. But there was so much that there must have been a whole flock sat upon my car defecating on the passenger side. I couldn't believe how much there was! It took ages to clean it off, and whilst I was doing it, it took all my willpower not to vomit at the smell.

Talking of smells - what is the minimum number of people required in order to have an orgy? We know that two people are a couple, and that three people are a threesome. Four people are a foursome - or a quartet as swingers in Sussex like to be called, but how many people does there gave to be to be an orgy?

I was going to suggest that perhaps orgies are organised on a strict "Orafices to Limbs" ratio - but then I realised for this to work adequately, you would either have to invite people with limbs missing, or some with no Orafices.

Maybe five people is the minimum - but this is an odd number, so you would either have to organise the proceedings in a "Musical Chairs" kind of way, where someone eventually has to miss out, or you could introduce a little competition with rules such as "winner stays on".

So it must be an even number - after all, an orgy is just a grown up party and at all good parties, nobody goes home without getting something. I suppose the actual number depends on the venue; if the venue is too small then having lots of people will make it cramped and possibly difficult to 'manoeuvre' adequately. Conversely, having too few people in too large a space will result in unfortunate echoing - and you don't want that.

Orgies eh - logistical nightmares!

Monday, 13 February 2012

To You.

In honour of Valentines Day tomorrow:

To the Women who have briefly (in the grand scheme of things) shared my life at one time or another, my thanks; You saw something redeeming in this fool, and we're willing to allow me to be part of your existence.

To the Women that I loved unrequited: the passion that burned for you, burned the brightest.

To the Woman whose love I threw away: I'm sorry - losing you will forever be my biggest regret.

To the Woman who brought me into this world: I love you mum, and miss you xx.

To that Girl on the bus all those years ago: Who knows what might have been?

To all my crushes: You were so beautiful, you took my breath away.

To those that judged this book by its cover: You don't know what you missed out on.

And to Love - who walks with me holding my hand, and also trips me up. Who makes me feel ecstatic, terrified, all conquering, helpless, foolish, inspired, desperate, empowered, joyful, and tearful - all at the same time:

I love you.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

2 For 1 Blog - Part Two: Sunday

Today started delicately for me, the previous night's shenanigans caught up with me. My head was pounding, and my throat was dry, and I felt rubbish.

However, being a hero and all round legend of a guy, I still managed to write my blog about the events of yesterday and last night.

My duty done, I decided to get dressed and join the land of the living. I was halfway through getting dressed when there was a knocking on my door. Bearing in mind that I was not in my own home, and yet cheerfully opened the door in my boxer shorts.

I don't know why there is a door in my boxer shorts.

When I opened the door, there was my mate Alyn - looking much worse than me hangover wise, and wearing his dressing gown. After exchanging pleasantries, Alyn asked if I wanted a cup of tea. He then looked me up and down and laughed and left me to get dressed.

That's always happening to me.

I got dressed and went downstairs. Alyn's parents were up and were cooking breakfast - a glorious fried breakfast with toast and coffee or tea and orange juice. The whole works, basically. It was fabulous, and cleared my headache right up.

Breakfast done, Alyn and I set off to Cardiff for a spot of pre-match showing of Larry Cardiff City Centre, including a trip to the 'Forbidden Planet' comic book shop - a must see part of Alyn's city tour. I was going to use this tour of the City to try the new "Female grading system" as devised by Carl who is the friend of Lenny that I met last night. For those of you unfamiliar with the intricate and detailed system, let me try to get the gist of it across to you:

If you are out at a pub or a club, or an abattoir and there are women in the vicinity, you must grade them from 1 - 5 thusly:
• 1: You wouldn't go near it, if she was the last woman on Earth and your life depended on it.
• 2: Still far from ideal, but if you really had to, you would talk to it.
• 3: Not bad, would be happy to talk to her, and wouldn't mind being seen out in public together.
• 4: Definite girlfriend material, take her home to meet the folks.
• 5: Marry her now.

We arrived in Cardiff and set off on a tour. Actually, only I was on a tour - Alyn had been there before, do he was just wandering about. We had a plan - Alyn would look at comic books and say "ooh, shiny", and I would look at women and say "Yeah, I would".

Cardiff is a great City - it is Vibrant, with a nice atmosphere, and today it was throbbing with a friendly banter-filled army of Rugby fans. Supporters of both sides were drinking together, having a laugh, and looking forward to the game. I can honestly say that at no point did I ever feel threatened or in a situation I wasn't comfortable with.

There is also a nice mix of the old and the new in Cardiff - there is the Castle, and many houses that were built in (I would guess) Victorian times, but also a modern shopping centre and various pubs and restaurants. It all gelled together nicely.

Alyn found his comic books, and I had seen three "3"s, four "2"s, and only one "1" - but I reckon he was a model. We met up with Alyn's parents who were in a pub with Alyn's brother Tomas (That is the correct way of spelling his name - with no H.) and his girlfriend, Steph (who definitely has a H in her name - otherwise she'd be called "Step").

Again, as with the rest of the City, this pub was full of a mixture of Welsh and Scottish Rugby fans. Everyone was drinking, but there was no trouble at all. I did notice a very tall and lovely looking barmaid who was definitely a 2 and might even have been a 1. Which was nice.

It was good catching up with Tomas and Steph again - we had got on very well at Alyn's house warming party and I enjoy their company. Steph has a very good memory, and has taken an interest in my blog, which I am humbly flattered by.

We stayed for a couple of pints before heading over to the Stadium - but not before observing the Williams' family tradition of eating a Pastie before the game. I'm not sure how or why this is a tradition, but the Pastie was very enjoyable, if a little cold.

Now, in order to adequately explain the experience of visiting the Millennium Stadium I would have to write pages and pages , so let me just say this:

It was the best experience of my life so far. I was in a Stadium with 73,129 (or so) people, and the atmosphere, the noise, the banter was unbelievable. There was no segregation of fans here; Welsh and Scottish fans sat side by side and shared banter and laughs together.

And when the Welsh National Anthem was sung by 50,000 plus fans in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, to be there and hear it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I now want to go and see Scotland play at home in Edinburgh, France in Paris, Italy in Rome, and see Ireland play....wherever it is they play (I forget).

It was a great game, and I am not ashamed to say that for this one day I shouted and roared for Wales as loudly as I could.

I was very sad to leave Cardiff, when we started our journey back to Dorset, but I know I will go back there.

My experience of Wales has been one of total joy, and I am so grateful to Alyn and Emma, and Alyn's family for letting me experience all that I did this weekend. Thank you Alyn, Emma, Phil, .....erm.... Linda (let's call her Linda - I can't remember what Alyn's Mum's name is), Tomas, and Steph. I have had the best time of my life.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

2 for 1 Blog - part one: Saturday

So the big day had arrived. Yesterday was the day of the first of my three assessments for my British Sign Language level 1. The time of my assessment was 10:10am - so naturally I arrived at the place where the assessment would be held at 8:20am. From the moment I woke up, I kept telling myself "Mustn't be late". Well, I definitely made sure that wouldn't happen, didn't I?

My tutor arrived at 9am, and I got myself settled and started revising. Other classmates arrived and we all paired up practising our signing and asking our tutor questions. About 20 minutes later. The assessor arrived with her husband, and while they were greeted by our tutor and had a little chat, all of us students just gawped.

It's one thing to be taught Sign Language by a hearing person, but another to see real deaf people signing. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I was fascinated and in terms if my assessment, terrified. The speed at which they signed was incredible. Of course, for us they would sign s-l-o-w-l-y but at that moment they were a veritable blur (Parklife)

The assessor when into the exam room to set up. We were to go in one at a time and have our assessment. Whole the rest of us waited for our turn, the assessor's husband helped us out by going over the basic questions and topics we would be asked.

He was a real character - incredibly friendly and funny, he put us all at ease and really helped us to relax. For example, one of the questions he asked was "what weather do you like?", and when we have the answer he would ask "why?" to get us to answer more fully. He encouraged us to ask him the same question, and he said he likes Hot Sunny weather. When he was asked why, he said because girls wear bikinis and he gets to look at them! And as part of the signs to emphasise that he made a face like a panting dog! It was hilarious!!

Suddenly it was time for my assessment. From the moment I walked into the room it was 'voices off' and Sign Language only. This was it.

I coped quite well I think. The assessor asked me my name, then threw a curveball in and asked me my second name (I knew to recognise this question, but wasn't expecting it) i Fingerspelt it, and then had to explain that it was a French name. It had to be a two-way conversation so I returned the question. This continued for "Where do you live", and "What Family do you have?"

We also discussed how I arrived for my assessment, and where I worked, and what I did for work. Luckily, I had learnt the Sign for Pot Pourri (It's Dead. Smelly. Flowers. by the way)

And them just as I was getting into it, it was over (that's the story of my life). I thanked the assessor and left. I wasn't allowed to stay in case I gave any tips to other people waiting to be assessed, so I collected my things and left. I won't get to find out the result for a few weeks yet, but I'm quietly confident - although the more I think about the assessment, the less confident I get. So best not to think about it really.

I drove home, and then went out for another 12 mile walk - but at a much gentler pace than yesterday's (see my blog of 10th February 2012 for full details). Nonetheless, it still knackered me out and almost crippled my feet. Still, it burnt another 1600 calories, which all helps towards getting me slim and attractive in time to look awesome in a suit for my friends wedding in July.

I didn't get much time to recover at home after my walk, because I was going back out again. This time however, I was going on a new adventure.....

My fabulous friend Alyn (previously referred to in these blogs as 'the bearded angel of loveliness') had procured me a ticket for the rugby Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff (Which is in Wales in case you are an overseas visitor to this blog and are unsure of where places are) (and Wales is part of the British Isles, in case you are a complete moron also).

So Alyn picked me up and drove me to Caldicot in South Wales, which is where his parents live. We would be staying there overnight on Saturday and then going to Cardiff on Sunday.
Upon reaching Caldicot, my first impression was that it was quite similar to Basildon in Essex (my place of birth). This was born out by the fact that the first thing I saw in Caldicot was a chavvy little kid on a push along scooter ride up onto the central part of a roundabout. Alyn hung his head and with a rueful laugh said that that summed up Caldicot perfectly.

We arrived at Alyn's parents home, and after a brief greeting and a cup of tea, Alyn and I went out to the pub. On the way, we saw a man pushing a bicycle down the road with an upside down armchair on it.

As you do.

Now my memory of events in the pub are a little hazy, as I am typing this blog on Sunday morning with a medium sized hangover, but the key points are as follows:

• Met Alyn's friends Dave and Sarah, Lenny (met previously) Carl and Rhys.

• Heard a brief history of Alyn's younger days including fencing with a Broadsword and a Samurai sword, and tales of a landlord who never bothered to knock. Especially if you were female.

• Discussed wether there was (or should be) an individual world ranking system for Trombone and Cornet players - similar to the World rankings for tennis players.

• Discussed if said Trombone/Cornet players could improve their rankings by competing against each other by both having to play "Flight of The Bumblebee" and whoever plays it best wins.

• The rating system for women in pubs - and how that individual preference can throw this system into disarray.

• Why ( and really, why?) Dave would, as a twenty year old young man, have sex with 60 year old in a graveyard "just to get rid of her"

• How much innuendo and inappropriateness we could get out of the fact that Lenny needed to find a good home for his male chicken. You can fill in the blanks yourself, okay?

It was, I have to say, one of the most bizarrely yet hugely enjoyable evenings I have had in recent times.

On the way home, we grabbed some Chinese takeaway (and had a weird conversation with two young oiks whilst waiting) and I waited whilst Alyn urinated against his old Primary School. I must say that not only was I appalled at this lack of respect, I was also slightly alarmed at the speed with which Alyn is apparently able to whip his penis out - even with a button fly on his jeans.

Eventually we got back to Alyn's parents house - but found we couldn't get in. Just before we left, Alyn's mum had asked him if he had his key. Alyn said yes - a brash and foolish statement to make when, three hours later cold, tired, hungry and drunk he realised that he in fact had his partner Emma's keys.

Oh how we laughed!! (not)

Alyn had to wake his mum up and get her to let us in. She did this in remarkably good spirit - probably because she was thinking "My son Alyn: a world travelled musician, a great cook, father to two lovely children, and has a lovely partner in Emma. Still a twat though."

And so here I am about to get up and get ready to add a new experience to my life: Watching my first live international Rugby match on my First visit to a major stadium, on my first visit to Wales.

Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Beguiling Chilli of Doom, and....Dire Straits Never Sung About This One!

To be honest, I knew the danger was there right from the word go.

Readers of yesterday's blog will remember that last night I had some very lovely people over for a Curry night. What you won't know (unless I mentioned it in yesterday's blog and have forgotten) is that I cunningly (some might say greedily) saved all the leftovers and put them in a plastic tub to have for lunch today. They don't call me Larry Leftovers for nothing!

Incidentally, that's also the reason they don't call me.

So, today I came home and warmed up my ungodly mish-mash of assorted Curry and Naan Breads in the microwave. Four minutes later, I was tucking in. It tasted fine, and I was enjoying it very much - some of it for the second time. And then, there it was.

About an inch and a half long, green, and looking like it wouldn't hurt a fly, a chilli stared up at me innocently from out of between the rice and sauce and assorted unidentifiable meats. At the time however, I did not realise that it was a chilli because the part of my brain used to recall things couldn't be heard over the much louder part of my brain that tells me when I am hungry. So although recall was saying "Isn't that a chilli? That looks like a chilli - didn't Jerry have chilli's in his curry last night?", it was drowned out by the shouting of my appetite receptors saying, " HUNGRY! FOOD! EAT FOOD, FOOD GOOD - EAT FOOD! HUNGRY!!"

So I scooped up this green, obviously edible piece of miscellaneous food and popped it in my mouth. As I chewed and swallowed, the thought "Ooh, what's that?" passed briefly by - but by then it was too late.

A burning sensation tore up my throat, and filled my head. My tongue felt as if it was on fire, my eyes streamed tears of scorched agony, and my nose run like a snotty toddlers. Overpowered by a the intense heat in my mouth and throat, I stumbled to the kitchen and grabbed a pint of water and gulped it down.

I then grabbed two more pints, and did the same, and only then did the fire start to subside. I was still gasping slightly but the effects gradually wore off. Obviously I was able to finish off the rest of the Curry - once I had checked that no more concealed chillis lurked within. Next time, I shall be more vigilant......

This weekend I am going to Cardiff to watch Wales play Scotland in the Six Nations Rugby tournament. Because of this, I will be unable to do my usual 7 mile walk on Sunday. However, not to be denied, I formulated a cunning plan; I would walk further on other walks I can do this weekend.

I got the opportunity to take a walk this afternoon, as I finished work at 2:30. By the time I got home, changed, and got ready to go it was 3pm. In my head, I planned to walk for two hours - an hour outward, and then turn around and an hour back. That way I would get back home before sunset.

I set out at a blistering pace, as I estimated that in an hour I could walk almost 5 miles. A 10 mile round trip would be a good effort. I made good progress, and covered the first 4 miles in 50 minutes. I was prepared to stop and turn around at 5 miles, but then I saw a sign for the village of Stourpaine a further mile on.

I looked to the Sky, to see the position of the Sun. Based on my current pace, I reckoned I could make it to Stourpaine and back before the Sun set. Motivated, I strode on. Although my feet were starting to complain, I ignored them and kept going. And after another mile, I reached Stourpaine. I had covered Six miles in 1hr and 15 minutes. But I had no time to congratulate myself, I had to turn around and get back.

Now I was in a race against the Sun. But I was tiring, and my body was starting to rebel. Nonetheless I set off. Well, I had to - I had no other way of getting home.

At first, I didn't make very good progress as I kept getting stones in my Wellies. I have no idea how stones get in my Wellies as they come half way up my calf, and have no obvious holes in them. Still, they got in - and I had to keep stopping to empty them out. All the while, the Earth kept turning and the Sun kept sinking towards the Horizon.

Stone free, I carried on. I only had to stop one more time, and that was to answer the call of nature. Even then I wanted to pee quickly, as I was obsessed with beating the light. I resumed my walk - but my pace had slowed.

I knew it was slowing, and I tried to step up the pace - but my body was fighting against me. If I paused for any reason, my feet screamed out in burning agony. My calves and hamstrings were verging on cramping up, and my mouth was dry. At one point I farted, and followed through a little.....

Still I carried on. The path before me seemed to stretch on endlessly, and I started to feel every stone press into the sole of my boots. My body wanted to stop, I wanted to stop - but a tiny voice in my head whispered "Just keep going, just keep going"

The last mile seemed to go on forever. I was half hobbling, half stumbling - but I would not stop. I had walked so far, I had to keep going. By the time I reached my home I was dead on my feet. I checked the distance I had done on my app and it read 11.98 miles.

With a groan, I dragged my aching legs in three laps of my garden, just do I could get the total distance up to 12 miles. I staggered through the door, stopped the app, and nearly collapsed.

12 miles in 2hrs and 38 minutes - and there was still sunlight (just). But my feet are sore, my legs are sore, I'm sore. I will do this walk again tomorrow - but at a much slower pace. I shall allow at least 3 hours to do this walk in.

To do it again at the pace I did today would be madness. Never mind Dire Straits classic "Walk of Life", that was a walk of death!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Blood And Tears (No Sweat)

Today has been a good day - apart from a bit in the middle when I nearly managed to make it a crap day.

This morning I took one more step to becoming even more amazing than I already am. I went to the Doctor's to have samples of my blood taken. The reason I am having this done is to see whether I am suitable to Donate either Bone Marrow of Stem Cells.

So I went to the Doctors with the Blood Sample taking kits that NHS Blood and Donation sent me. When I got in to see the nurse there was a but of confusion when she opened up both kits and took the contents of each out and laid them all out together - and then realised that they had to be kept separate as they were going to be sent to different locations (Sweden and Bristol apparently). For a brief moment we were both picking through the various paraphernalia saying "does this go with kit 1 or kit 2?" In the end we got it sorted, and were ready to proceed.

Now, I must say that I was very impressed with the "tools" used for drawing the blood from my vein. There was no mess, no wastage, nothing. There's nothing worse than having a blood sample taken and they slop half of it on the floor, so that you slide all over the place when you get up to leave. Don't you think?

But not this time. This time it was quick, painless, and very interesting. The nurse took eight samples ( nearly an armful!) in total, five of which were to be couriered to Sweden, and three which had to be posted in a pre-paid envelope to Bristol. The courier had been pre-booked to come to the Doctor's surgery within half a day of my appointment - so by Midday today.

I offered to post the Kit to Bristol, and so took the box away with me. I must admit I found it a little unnerving to hold that small, warm cardboard box when I knew that the heat was coming from the freshly 'harvested' samples of my own blood inside.

If that was the heat generated by three vials of human blood, then stabbing someone to death must make you really hot. I bet Jack The Ripper was sweating like a pig when he went about mutilating women.....

I posted the box safely, and now just have to wait to hear if I am suitable to donate.

And tonight was pretty amazing too. Quite simply my ex girlfriends children, Harriet and Stanley Udell - along with Harriet's bloke Jerry came over for a curry night. It was really nice seeing them again, and along with good food we had good conversation and a real laugh.

However when they came to leave, I did get a bit sad - and even had to fight back a tear when I gave Harriet a hug. It's soppy I know, but although I see them fairly regularly I do so miss them being in my life like they used to be. They will always hold a very special place in my heart.

And that was today!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cold, Donate, Alarm, Fab.

Now, I did know exactly what I was going to write about today up until about thirty seconds ago, when I distracted myself and completely forgot. What I can tell you is that it is cold - very cold. The weather people say it could be -4 degrees tonight - and I believe them.

I'm in bed as I type this, and am trying to move as little as possible because any slightest adjustment of body position will mean lying on freezing cold bit of the mattress. I have a hot water bottle, but am clinging to it like a life preserver in the open ocean.

I must also admit that my thoughts have turned to those less fortunate than myself who are (for whatever reason) sleeping rough. These are not the temperatures you would wish to be out in tonight - I hope they find some warmth somewhere.

I've got a good day coming tomorrow. In the morning I am going to have some blood samples taken. Now I know that doesn't sound very good, but it is because, my blood will be tested to see if I can donate Bone Marrow (in the form of Stem Cells). I have already been identified as a potential match for someone who needs a transplant, but the donation people need to do more tests to see if I can donate. I really hope that I can - I think being a donor - of blood, bone marrow, whatever - is an amazing thing to do, and I am more than happy to do it if I can. I already donate blood, and have got an organ donor card, so to add bone marrow to that list would make me very proud.

Oh bugger! Don't you just hate it when you are all warm and cosy in bed, and then you realise that you haven't set the alarm on your clock radio? The clock radio you deliberately put on the other side of the room so that you couldn't just reach over and hit 'snooze', you would have to actually get up and go over to it to switch it off. The idea of this of course was that because you had to get out of bed you would get up and get dressed,rather than fall back to sleep.

And of course it doesn't work like that.

But, I stil have to get out of my lovely warm bed into the freezing cold "outside the bed" temperature and make sure the alarm is on. And I don't want to - oh no.

Anyway, I digress. The other reason tomorrow is going to be a good day is the fact that I have some very special people coming over tomorrow night for a curry. I'm not cooking - we are all getting takeaway from the Indian restaurant next door. I'm really looking forward to it as we always have a good laugh.

The middle of tomorrow (the bit at work) will be a bit dull - apart from me trying to revise my Sign Language when I can for my assessment on Saturday.

But apart from that, dull.

Now, let's see if I can muster the determination to leave my bed and set the alarm on my clock radio.......

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Good Deed Induced Bambi.......And Over-Eagerness

I have lived in Dorset now for just over Six years (cue wailing and gnashing of teeth from those I left behind. Or cheering), and in that time I have seen a few of the animals that live in the surrounding countryside - many of them quite close. Usually these have been Rabbits, Squirrels, the odd Fox and run over Badgers. Well, tonight I got to add one of the most elusive inhabitants around to that list; Deer.

And my meeting with these Deer (oh yes - not just one, two Deer) did not happen by chance. Karma engineered it.

Tonight the rural temperature is pssibly going to drop as low as -11, and I have two elderly friends who live in a very old house that doesn't stay very warm. Well, at my workplace I found a convection heater and I asked my boss if I could lend it to my elderly friends to use until the cold weather has passed. I knew that I would make a big difference to them, and as they are 79 and 73 respectively, I wanted to help. My boss said yes, so I put the heater in my car and drove over to my friends house.

And it was as I was driving to my friends house that I had my close encounter with Bambi and his mate. I was driving along a typical Dorset road - flanked by hedgerow and peppered with mud and manure - when I saw these two Deer ahead at one side of the road.

I slowed down in anticipation that the Deer might run out in front of me. And they did - but not until I was almost level with them. And they didn't run out - they casually sauntered into the middle of the road and stared at me and my car with almost nonchalant disdain. It was as if they were saying "What is that awful car you are driving?"

I was mesmerised; these two Deer were simply beautiful. I have never been so close to them before and it was incredible to see them so close. I could have happily sat there for hours looking at them, but sadly the feeling was not reciprocated. Without so much as a "Cheerio!" the two Deer turned and skipped through the hedgerow and out of sight. Ever so slightly disappointed, I carried on my journey and delivered the heater to my friends. Once again, Karma had rewarded me.

Throughout my learning Sign Language, one thing has been drummed into me: If I don't use it, I will lose it - forget all I have learnt. I will soon be going to a local Deaf Club to Sign with people and keep up my knowledge, but in the meantime and up until now I have been on the lookout for Deaf people to practice my Signing on. Without success.

And when I say "on the lookout", I don't mean in an Evil, Terminator kind of way.

However today, as I walked home for lunch, I saw a car driving slowly as its driver looked for something. Being a helpful sort of chat, I walked over and asked if I could help. It turns out that I knew the building he was looking for - and that he was quite severely Deaf. His speech wasn't pronounced properly - that, and he had a hearing aid.

So as we were talking (he was saying thank you, I was saying 'oh, don't mention it - happy to help.'), I was itching to ask him if he knew Sign Language and try out a few phrases. I even felt my hands rising up, ready to Fingerspell my name. Luckily (for him) I resisted the urge.

But is this desire to practice what you are learning a common occurrence? Or am I just some sort of weird stalker? Do students of Martial Arts yearn to get into a situation where they have to either A) use someone's body weight against them, or B) defend themselves against attacking pieces of plywood?
Do people learning foreign languages constantly nag friends and family to ask them what the Mandarin Chinese word for "Protractor" is?
Do work experience motor mechanics ruin all weekend plans for their parents by attempting to strip out, re-bore, and replace the engine on the family car?

They must do surely. I know I need to do Sign Language regularly to keep it fresh in my mind. I feel a bit like a sort of Sign Language superhero, patrolling the land looking for Deaf people to help in the Post Office, or at the Doctors.

Except I'm not, and I can't find any Deaf People.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Well, I'm really nervous now.

Tonight was the last Sign Language Class before our first assessment - BSL101 - this Saturday, the 11th February.
For this assessment we have to have a five minute two way conversation with our Deaf assessor, and will be expected to know the following:

• Greetings - Hello, good morning, how are you etc.
• Use and recognise simple questions: What is your name, where do you live, what family do you have etc.
• Describe a range of weather.
• Use and recognise ways of asking for clarification: Again please, slowly please etc.
• Use and recognise the signs for People's ages, time, money, and dates.
• Fingerspelling.
• Give simple directions.
• Use and recognise signs for describing methods of travel.

This will be a two way Sign Language conversation and we will be expected to ask at least three questions.
It should be fine - we have covered everything listed above in the previous weeks. However, just running through it tonight, I seemed to be drawing a lot of blanks. I'm sure it's just nerves, but I will be frantically swotting up this week in preparation for Saturdays Assessment.

And we don't find out for 6 weeks whether we have completed it or not. Torture!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


This is likely to be a short post as I haven't got much to say.

It's been a quiet day today - in the absence of snow to complain about, people haven't been saying much. I did however, do my third 7 mile walk of the weekend - although this was extremely painful. Because I've got great big flat feet, the weight distribution isn't even and I wear away the heel part of any footwear I wear. This also gives me blisters, which are really painful.

When I walk, I wear walking boots (my ballet shoes don't go with any of my walking gear) and I have worn away the insole and given myself blisters at the same time. So I have worn two pairs of socks to cushion my feet a bit. This worked for a while, but I was still having pain when walking. So then I bought new insoles - Memory Foam insoles which, according to the packaging are like 'a mattress for your feet'.

To be fair, they are super comfortable - although the warped side of me worry that if these insoles were truly like mattresses for my feet, then my feet my fall asleep, I fall over, and nearly break my ankle.

So I tried these insoles. They worked initially, but I give my boots such a pounding that the insoles were squashed down by the time I had finished.

Today I wore three pairs of socks in an attempt to cushion my feet adequately. I am happy to say that my heels were protected beautifully, and remained blister free. My toes however were so crushed that I had to stop half way round and remove the third, outer sock. But even then, by the time I got home my poor toes were horribly blistered.

I think I need to get bigger walking boots - size 13 I think.

Or I could just wear the box they come in.......