Saturday, 29 December 2007
Life seems to have overtaken blogging for the last few weeks. Maybe I've just had nothing much to say...
Not that I have too much to say today, apart from Happy New Year to everybody.
And with that, the thoughts turn to resolutions. I'm no big fan of New Year's resolutions, mainly due to my complete inability to stick to them. But I was interested to read of the psychologists analysis of them, what works, what doesn't etc etc.
So for men, we seem to be playing up to the 'can't multi-task' stereotype by saying that we do best if we have one very specific resolution and concentrate on that. We also need to break our goals down into small manageable steps so we don't get disheartened by too high a mountain to climb.
Not to be outdone, women have to live up to one of their stereotypes and talk a lot about their resolutions to other people, enrolling them to help, support and encourage.
It also seems to be important not to leave it all til New Years Eve.
So, to back this up, I thought we could use the blog as a public service broadcast tool.
I have one very specific resolution (no multi-tasking whatsoever required) that I have already decided on (well in advance of New Years Eve), have lots of small intermediate goals towards achieving the big one, and I'm not going to tell you all what it is (not being a woman - at least last time I checked).
For you women out there, you can tell us all about any resolutions you want to, and will, I'm sure, receive much virtual support and encouragement in achieving your goals for 2008.
For the guys, pick one thing and don't tell us what it is...
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Now Professor Richard Dawkins thinks he is a 'cultural Christian'. He has spent a good deal of the last decade or more having a go at Christians (and those of other faiths) culminating in his latest book which I understand labels all believers in God as deluded. Not wanting to add to his wealth I haven't read it myself...but I think the basic message as reported in the media is quite clear without reading it.
Well, I'm afraid I've got some bad news for the professor...he is one of the deluded ones too if he thinks that there is such a thing as a 'cultural Christian'.
This is actually one of the biggest delusions around. Christianity is about faith not culture. Islam is about faith not culture. And it pretty much goes for all religions too. Including atheism. And as you know, I see atheism as a matter of faith and therefore also a religion.
I wonder why people, especially atheists like Dawkins, want so badly to associate themselves with the word 'Christian' even if 'only' in a cultural sense when they say they don't believe any of it? Nagging doubts, maybe? Hedging your bets?
Perhaps he hasn't thoroughly thought it through after all...
Monday, 10 December 2007
It may only be a symbol but I certainly think it's a better one than the symbol that many others have given and continue to give by doing absolutely nothing.
Sunday, 9 December 2007
What bothers me is that under my, admittedly very strict, personal definition of 'sport' developed during my teenage years, neither an activity that involves an equine quadruped doing the majority of the work nor a savage display of pugilistic brutality qualify. So under my rules, neither a horse rider nor a boxer can ever rightfully be the 'Sports' Personality of the Year.
This year's event ran particularly contrary to my rules, with all 3 of the trophy winners representing what I call 'pastimes' rather than sports -two savages and a man who relies on millions of pounds worth of technology...
I know they are all very dedicated. I know they are all very fit. I know they all do stuff that I can't. But that's not enough to make it sport. Not in my book.
Discuss. (Or doesn't anyone else care?)
Thursday, 6 December 2007
I understand what he was thinking at the time. Devious and underhand and fraudulent, very probably...yet to be proven, innocent until proven guilty and all that. But understandable.
No, what I want to know is this - why did he turn up in a police station now? Why not stay in Panama? Nobody would have been any the wiser...what was he thinking?
Monday, 3 December 2007
Back in the semi-real world, I finished my novel synopsis today. Condensing 93,000 words down to a 750 word summary has been quite a challenge. The first three chapters have been edited to the 'I'm happy to send them out' stage. So there's no stopping me now. Well, except for editing the other 9 chapters, agents rejections, publisher rejections if I get an agent to accept me, and then if I'm really lucky, critic rejections! I'm looking forward to those - because at least that means the thing is published and out there!
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
'A prisoner at HMP Bristol has been treated for deep laceration wounds after cutting off his penis with a razor blade.
The inmate who is serving an 18-month sentence for possession of a knife, was found by wardens on Sunday morning.
Prison officials said the incident was "extremely serious". '
Extremely serious? You're telling me! I couldn't stop my eyes watering for a good ten minutes...
Oh, maybe they mean that he had a blade on him?
Or that they were put off their traditional Sunday morning breakfast of sausage sandwiches?
Tomato sauce with that anyone?
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
OK, it was wrong. Some guy screwed up and he resigned. Unusually.
Please don't add insult to injury by continuing to bombard us with interminable apologies, explanations and analysis. I don't care! Just get on with the really big issues of running the country like the health service, education and stopping our involvement in illegal wars.
The lead story on the news? You've got to be joking!
Thank you for your patience.
Monday, 26 November 2007
The only trouble is, I can't decide whether I need to rewrite my one and only scene that might qualify, even though it is extremely implicit in nature. How can you spot how bad your own sex scenes are? Did the authors on the list set out to win the prize too and surrepticiously slipped a bad sex scene into an otherwise good book? Do they have other sex scenes that are better written and the nominations are only for the anomalous scenes within otherwise excellent carnal descriptions?
It's all just such a minefield...
Sunday, 25 November 2007
A couple of points struck me. The first is that these debates are usually completely pointless. 'Believers' all think they should be allowed to talk about their faith because it's an essential part of who they are. 'Non-believers' or atheists think that no-one should be allowed to talk about their faith. Nobody ever changes their mind as a result of the so-called 'debate'. The media are largely filled with humanists, atheists, liberals and 'unbelievers' and I am always slightly dubious about whether we get a representative picture from the callers chosen to take part. But in any case, after the debate everybody thinks the same as they did before. So why bother?
Well the second point is maybe the reason to bother. Within the debate one guy said something I thought was notable, a little bit different and not normally heard on the media. The reason I thought it was so good is because it's what I think too! He said that atheism is a faith system too. To not believe in any God also takes faith. As far as I'm aware it's impossible to prove that he doesn't exist. Therefore to believe he doesn't exist is on a similar faith footing as believing that he does exist. Therefore the insistence to not talk about any faith (apart from atheism) must be one of the worst kinds of bullying and intolerance around. Surely it's tantamount to saying 'You're not allowed to talk about any faith except mine.'
Or am I just opening myself up to be labelled as a stupid, delusional believer that doesn't get it?
Thursday, 22 November 2007
‘Whoever is willing to swim across the pool,’ said Fuller, ‘can choose whatever they want from these three things: £10 million, half of this estate, or to marry whichever Spice Girl you like.’
The guests looked around at each other dumbstruck.
The silence was broken by a loud splash. Everyone looked around to see Simon Cowell swimming desperately for the side of the pool. Other guests reached down and pulled him out just before the shark could get to him.
Fuller went up to the dripping Cowell. ‘Frankly, I’m surprised anyone took me up on the challenge, especially you. But I’m a man of my word. What is it that you really, really want?’
Cowell could only gasp as he recovered his breath.
‘The £10 million?’ asked Fuller.
Cowell shook his head. 'Peanuts' he gasped.
‘Half of this estate?’
‘No,’ spluttered Cowell. 'This dump? No way.'
‘Surely you don’t want to marry a Spice Girl?’ said Fuller.
‘Definitely not!’ said Cowell.
Fuller was non-plussed. ‘So what is it that you really, really want?’
‘I’ll tell you what I want. What I really, really want…is to know who pushed me in.’
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
So sorry to any football fans out there feeling down, feeling depressed or feeling the cold feet of the woman they love against their (previously) warm leg. But trust me on this...you will get over it. Think of the schadenfreude you'll be able to enjoiy when McLaren gets the boot (or falls on his sword beforehand if he's got any sense - although that would cost him millions). Think of the pleasure of a European football championships without the stress of being robbed by dodgy refereeing decisions. Think of the early nights curled up in bed with the warm feet of the woman you love (the finals are in the summer after all, so the feet will either be warm or the cold ones will be rather pleasant as you lie there sweating). For the women football fans, just substitute the appropriate words "man" and "warm dangly bits" wherever you need to.
Just in case you missed the point of this post: IT'S ONLY SPORT!
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
I was in the jacuzzi today with two bikini-clad beauties. The nurse was on my left while the dancer was on my right. I enjoyed the jacuzzi more than I have any jacuzzi in recent times.
All factually accurate.
But it doesn't really tell the full story. Unfortunately!
Monday, 19 November 2007
But what is the world's most expensive cup of tea?
I know it wasn't the one I had today, but it was the most expensive one I've ever had.
Granted, the teapot was solid silver, it was proper leaves and a silver tea strainer instead of a Tesco own label bag which is my usual cuppa.
The location was quite nice - the Park Lane Hotel.
As was the company - a colleague from my coaching course.
And just to set the record straight, my A to Z was simply a compilation from the stories in the Daily Mail starting at page 1 and going through until all the letters were complete - not me being gloomy. I didn't miss any stories out except for the tiny ones (not many) or the ones that weren't about Britain (not many either). But I guess it's no surprise that many people are gloomy when this is what they read in their papers every day.
Having said that, call me nostalgic but I do miss Germany for many things...Kaffee und Kuchen, Weizenbier, King Creole (local restaurant to where we lived), Gluhwein on the Christmas markets, our local bistro called Lemon where they knew us so well our drinks were brought to us without us needing to order, Applewine, even Sauerkraut...anyone would think I was obsessed with food and drink!!!
PS Big congratulations to Keith the Littl'un. Massive achievement. Big up to the ex Big Un.
Friday, 16 November 2007
Not to be out-done, I scanned the stories in the same paper, thinking that a one-day snapshot of the Daily Mail might give us another view of life in Britain. Here’s my list:
A is for Arab sheiks
B is for Blair (Sir Ian, not President Tony)
C is for Children in Need
D is for Drunkenness
E is for Engineering genius (granted from 60 years ago)
F is for Food Scares
G is for Gunshot residue
H is for Human rights
I is for Interest Rates
J is for Johnson (Boris)
K is for Killings, sexually motivated
L is for Leaving here
M is for Mosquitos
N is for Noise
O is for Overbudget
P is for Pills for weight loss
Q is for Quintuplets
R is for Recycling taxes
S is for Soap Opera violence
T is for Terrorists
U is for Underage pornography
V is for Virginity repairs
W is for Winehouse, Amy
X is for Xenophobia
Y is for Yobs, 5year old ones at that!
Z is for Z-list celebrities
It’s enough to make L your favourite letter.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
A mayor in Chicago has put up customised stop signs to try to halt the number of people that just drive through them without stopping. So the new signs say 'STOP' and then things like 'In the Naaaame of Love' underneath. The idea is that it will catch people's attention, make them laugh and make them stop.
During the TV launch, a car was seen in the background driving straight across the junction...without stopping!
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
I realised today that publicly saying what sounds like 'I need some help!' might not be the wisest thing to ask people to do...
So, to bring in some reality, here's a little about coaching.
Coaching is not therapy. Therapy deals with (among other things), the past, root causes, dysfunction and, generally, problems.
Coaching deals more with opportunity. It is always forward looking (when done well), briefly pausing at the present to make sure the differences between the 'Here and now' and the 'There and then' (sorry for the jargon) are properly understood, before launching into a bright new future.
You will not find out anything about yourself you don't already know. You will choose whether to face up to what you already know, not the coach. If you don't want to in a particular area, move on to something else or stop the coaching. You are in control of the coaching relationship and you can always say stop. Your coach may challenge you on that (wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't), but will sensitively back off when appropriate.
You can work on anything you like, from health and fitness, relationships, work and business etc etc etc. Entirely up to you. If there are areas you don't want to touch on, just make it clear at the start.
Above all else, the result should be clarity rather than new discovery. This clarity will help you to focus on what's really important to you and cut the rest of the crap...
Thanks Lyndyloo for offering! I'll e-mail you to set something up...
Anyone else, I suggest that you contact me privately via e-mail (the real one if you've got it. If not, use the one attached to this ere blog and I'll send you the real one...)
Just to be clear though, there is nothing to be ashamed of. I have had lots of coaching myself and wouldn't be offering it if it were not powerful and productive. Lots of business leaders and entrepreneurs have coaches. Many of them don't talk about it publicly either. The most important things are only to do it if you're ready, don't let anyone talk you into it, and tell everyone or no-one, exactly as you see fit. It's nobody's business but your own.
I might just steal some of this from myself for my marketing pitch...
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Actually, as it's an industry that has no regulation, I can call myself a coach regardless that I've not finished the programme yet. But then I could have done that before last week...
Maybe not the best way of marketing myself. Let me start again...
Free coaching available! Call now on 1-800-123-MOOSE...or better still register here!
Are you perfect in every way? Nothing you'd like to improve in your life? Then I'm not the coach for you.
If, on the other hand, you are a mere mortal and would like to find out if being coached can help you, and you'd like to contribute to the training hours I need to do, then try it for free now.
Coaching can be done in person (subject to geographical location) or on the phone. One hour every 2 weeks for the first 3 sessions (6 weeks), then we can see how it's going and agree what to do, if anything, going forward. That will be entirely up to you.
I'm ideally looking for 5 willing guinea pigs....roll up, roll up, spaces are limited.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
I'm off on a course, a week of learning how to be a coach. One of those things I promised myself I'd do while I was on my sabbatical, which is another word I am particularly fond of!
Not sure what the arrangements are, but I do know it's 8.30 to 6 of classes every day and a couple of hours of 'field work' (oo-er!) each evening.
So I shall give my apologies now and you'll all know where I am if there is no sign for a while...
Thoughts are with Mr C and Caroline. Especially not easy when these things happen so far away from home. Been there, done that.
PS For the record, my Speedo's are, I believe, entirely acceptable. You see they are made by Speedo but are swimming shorts, covering everything and with no embarrassing bulges (apart from the one above the waistband). Hope that clears everything up...
Thursday, 1 November 2007
I heard a chap say 'geo-political' today on the business news. I haven't heard that one for a long time. It's just such a good word.
It's less beardy teacher with patches on his elbows than 'geographical'.
It's less overweight man in an ill-fitting suit than 'political'.
Maybe the reason I like it is that I'm an overweight geography graduate in an ill-fitting suit.
But enough of my Speedo's...machinations is another one that I miss.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
I feel strangely comfortable and unmotivated to return to work after turning some financial instruments into hard cash last week. Bad news as it makes me feel too flush...but I'm not really complaining!!!
So, what's this all about? On a roundabout over which I drive every day on the way to the said gym...not literally drive over unless I've started drinking VERY early in the morning...they have been doing some road painting. They have 'hatched' - a technical term I believe - a circle about 18 inches wide on the inside of the roundabout, thus making it technically illegal to drive on a small patch of road that serves no other purpose. No pedestrians should be there. It can't possible stop the roundabout getting blocked. It doesn't create more space for emergency vehicles.
In fact, as far as I can see it, this hatched area serves no other purpose than to make the roundabout even narrower, and forcing those on the outside lane into a minor traffic offence when cut up by idiots on the inside lane who fail to drive 'around' the roundabout and tend to go 'straight across'. And in my experience, there are a large number of those in this particular town...which we should all remember is (allegedly) the inspiration town for Little Britain.
What is the point? Job creation for the line painters? CCTV operators having a laugh? Revenue generation for the local plods to get some innocent motorists who dare to use the road to drive along?
Please, someone explain to me what it's all for...
Traffic rant number 2...
Was following a car today that 'gesticulated' at me, I can only assume because he deemed me to be driving too close to his boot. OK, I was in a hurry, but the gesture followed him braking suddenly and harshly for no reason whatsoever. What does he expect if he does that? Surely any driver would end up too close in such a situation. If I'd really been 'too' close I would have hit him. I didn't, ergo I wasn't too close! Anyway, we then approached a roundabout (a different one) that has plenty of space for 2 cars to go around simultaneously side by side as long as, you've guessed it, the one on the inside doesn't cut straight across. I was going right, overtook him just approaching the roundabout and turned right, leaving plenty of space for him. Except he was a straight-across-cutter-idiot. He beeped me! Unbelievable...(and even Mrs M agreed I had done nothing wrong...)
Monday, 22 October 2007
On the way back, #2 fell asleep and as we passed Castle Hedingham, I recalled a time a couple of years ago that I had taken them to the same beach and #2 had thrown up all over himself at that specific spot. I'd stopped in a lay-by to clean him (and the car) up a bit before continuing the drive home.
Today we got home and the mooselets watched a little TV before eating tea. Towards the end of the meal, I was called to the table by the words 'Daddy, I feel like I'm going to be sick'. Which he then was. I was just too late with the bowl. Thank goodness for paper towels and washing machines!
I am never going to Frinton ever again!!!
Thursday, 18 October 2007
The last week or so have been hugely productive on it. I'm so in the groove it's amazing. It has not been without sacrifice though, as apart from keeping up my training, I have done almost nothing else! I think it's the fear of having a proper job again soon and having no time for writing that is motivating me to get it finished. Again. Now I need to buy a ream of paper so I can print the thing out.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
How stupid is this story? I could race a cheetah. And, like Brian Habana, I would lose. Does it really matter by how much?
I'm sure the man himself wouldn't approve of the media coverage, after all, he did it to highlight the endangered status of the cheetah - an admirable cause.
But for the media to make such a big thing of it is a little strange, when he had a 10m headstart and lost "by a whisker". And to describe his speed as superhuman is also quite inaccurate, since he has 'only' clocked an impressive 10.2 seconds over 100m. I can't remember how long ago the world record for 100m was that 'slow'. We even have some British sprinters, probably drug free, that regularly beat that mark.
Faster than a cheetah no.
Maybe we could come up with some other useless comparisons:
I'm so thin, I'm thinner than 50% of all Americans.
I'm so fit I can do an Olympic triathlon faster than the world triathlon champion (in the over 75 age group category).
I'm such a great writer that my writing is much better than the output of a chimpanzee bashing randomly on a typewriter. (I'm reasonably confident it's also better than the output of a human bashing randomly on a typewriter.)
I'm so smart that I'm smarter than most 10 year olds (just a shame I wasn't smart enough to come up with that idea!)
Any other offerings?
PS by the way, Gilles Villeneuve is the answer, according to a sick joke in the 70's when he died in a Formula 1 crash...
Sunday, 14 October 2007
They had both been at a birthday party during the afternoon while I sweated some excess weight off in the garden. When they got back, #2 came and chatted with me. He told me that James (one of the kids at the party) was mean. I gave my usual response based on the Primary Attribute Error. Although I don't use those words (I may be obsessed but I do remember he's only 4), I explained that we all did mean things but that didn't make us mean people. I reminded him that he was sometimes mean to #1 but that he wasn't a mean person. I said that I did mean things sometimes but that I wasn't a mean person.
That's when he said it. "You are mean, daddy. You leave all the work to mummy."
So it's survey time. What to do?
- Swallow my pride, say nothing, keep going, trying to be positive and doing all I already do and more if I can.
- Ask her how it's possible for our four-year-old son to come out with a statement that sounds exactly like that which would normally come from a 40-year-old woman.
- Rant and rave a bit and get it off my chest.
- Some other suggestion.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Usually it's Tonight followed by Panorama that does it. I must be getting old when Martyn Lewis and Jezza get me all worked up!
Still, last night my musings were on the evolutionary, or possibly counter-evolutionary effects of stupidity.
My conclusion is that sub-prime mortgages are not only named for the credit rating of those that take them out. It seems to me that the between the ears functions of these people are also somewhat sub-prime. I know that I grew up with Maffs and stuff and work(ed) in Finance, but the concept of an interest rate isn't too tricky, is it? And even if the mortgages were mis-sold, which they probably were and the culprits should be punished, I'm really not sure that excuses the stupidity that some people exhibit.
"The interest rate went up and we couldn't afford the repayments any more." Doh!
"The broker told me to lie about how much I earned and I just followed his advice." Doh!
"They wanted to give me a half a million in mortgages even though I only earn £30k and I took it." Doh!
If we were to follow evolutionary thinking to it's logical conclusion the argument would run as follows: if people are that stupid, they will go bankrupt, not be able to feed themselves and die. Then the fittest (cleverest?) will survive. Is there anything wrong with that?
Except it doesn't work like that. The stupid people also tend to have lots of kids, or, to hark back a couple of posts, be overweight smokers who have all sorts of health problems, and therefore use a lot of the resources of schools, NHS etc that the clever people (or at least those earning money) pay for.
So by paying taxes we are stopping the forces of natural selection from weeding out the weak in society. Worse than that, we are actually weakening the average set of genes in the pool by allowing them to breed too much.
There's a lot to be said for the 'Brave New World' approach where the gene pool is carefully controlled, the lower echelons are stupid and ugly and would never get a mortgage of any sort, while the rich and beautiful people enjoy all the priveleges.
Then we could just use the stupid and ugly for our entertainment, putting them on TV to display their ignorance to the world. They'd probably do it willingly to get their 15 minutes of fame.
Have to go now, Jeremy Kyle is on...
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Oh and the swimming is also going swimmingly - how else could it go? And the rest of the fitness/triathlon training...if only I could get the food and weight part of it back on track...
My thoughts today turn to the issue of self-centredness. Maybe it's not wholly new as the point yesterday re paying taxes is a little of the same.
(By the way, welcome back Dr JMcC! Long time no see...I have been avoiding Cambridge since that night out with Dr Booth, but still get a shudder when I hear a Polish accent.)
So, today on the JV show, there's a lady on complaining that lots of people cut up the funeral cortege when she was burying her father. Most of the comments were on the lines of how disrespectful we have become as a society. Now, firstly, this is undoubtedly true. I am sure that the vast majority of the 'bad' drivers that the lady observed were simply so wrapped up in their own lives, their own deadlines and their own little world, that to pay a thought for someone else's grief didn't come into question. The precious few seconds they lost because of a slow cortege were just too important to them. Self-centred.
However, I took something else interesting out of the discussion too. Not once did the lady concerned mention the possibility that one or two of these drivers may have had a legitimate reason for being in a hurry. A reason would be legitimate in this sense only if the overall social view of the circumstances were known and an assessment could be made that their need to hurry was indeed greater than the lady's need for 'respect' to be shown during her father's funeral. I'm not saying that the chances of this are very high. They are probably very small indeed. But what if someone had just heard that THEIR father had just had an accident and they were rushing to be with him. Wouldn't the still living father take precedence over the already dead father? And what if the accident or illness were a child instead? I'm sure there are many other situations we could imagine, all of them rare but still possible. People buy lottery tickets with only a 1 in 14 million chance of winning because it is just about possible. Why then is it so difficult to imagine a calamitous event with probablilities of say 1 in a million, happening to someone else?
My point is not that this was the case in the lady's funeral situation. My point is that it didn't even seem to cross her mind that it might, just might, be the case. She was, quite understandably, wrapped up in her life, her deadline, her little world.
I recall that one of the signs of emotional intelligence that Daniel Goleman refers to in his book is the ability to assume that those who cross you, and he uses the roads as a specific example, have a legitimate reason for doing so. It is emotionally intelligent to let it go, to think the best of others, to assume there might be a legitimate reason for someone else's 'bad' behaviour.
So no matter how justifiably self-centred we could be, surely it's better to forgive and not judge.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
At first sight it seems appalling to discriminate against fat people or smokers. They have, like everyone else, paid their National Insurance contributions for years and should expect the same level of care as anyone else. Whatever next? Will we turn people away from A&E when they've had a car crash if they were driving over the speed limit? Not treat the long term unemployed because they haven't paid in as much as people in work? Except of course unemployed alcoholic smokers who have paid much more in duty?
The fundamental issue though, is that we do not fund the NHS properly. It's too easy to argue that their are massive inefficiencies within the system. Of course there are. But even if it was the best run health service in the world - a more realistic target than a perfectly run service - there would still not be enough money to treat everybody of everything, and that straight away with no waiting lists.
So the inconvenient truth is that we have to make choices about who we treat and how long we make them wait. We are not living in the ideal world of free treatment for all at the point of need. We possibly could be if people weren't so selfish and were willing to pay the higher tax rates that people pay in countries that do have better health services than we do. My personal experience of Germany highlights this. Marvellous health care. And very expensive it was too - both directly for my health insurance and indirectly through an average tax rate in excess of 50%.
And if we have to make choices about who we treat and how long people wait then somebody is going to be 'discriminated' against. Personally, I don't think it's too unreasonable to 'discriminate' against those who in some way have contributed to their need for treatment through their lifestyle OR who have contributed to their poor chances of recovery from certain treatments through that same lifestyle. And if we are not to pick on the fat and the smokers, who will we pick on instead? For as long as the NHS remains underfunded, the one certainty is that we will have to choose not to treat some people.
Having said that, BMI is clearly the wrong measure. And I'm not just making excuses for myself...although I do fall into the category of people whose BMI is in the upper reaches of the zones and still would be even if I were to lose a reasonable amount of weight. I cannot deny that I am overweight. If a doctor told me I had to lose weight in order to qualify for treatment, I'd actually think it was fair enough. I might even appreciate the added incentive!
Unfortunately many don't see it that way. For example, the woman on Panorama who waited 2 years and then went to Malta for her op - what on earth was she doing during those 2 years? How much weight could she have lost if she'd focussed her energy into that instead of into insisting on her right to be treated even though she was too heavy? I appreciate she couldn't exercise, but that's probably only 10% of losing weight. They should have shown what she ate in an 'average' week - Dr Gillian McKeith stylee - I would wager a considerable sum that people's opinions would probably have changed then!
Monday, 1 October 2007
It all started a little strangely, getting up just after 6 to head for the gym before my meeting up in London re a job. I did my Swim only session of 12 minutes crawl and 3 minutes breaststroke, 2 reps, 30 lengths in total. I was feeling good about being able to do the 12 lengths crawl without stopping - a real breakthrough for me in my swimming.
Off I then went to London, had a good meeting and things look very positive for a start in December/January, doing something I am good at but is still a challenge and interesting for me. For decent money.
I then headed for a well known sandwich chain, got myself a green tea, sat down in the corner with my laptop and attacked my daily diary (catching up on a couple of weeks with no comments!) and then my short story. Nearly three hours later (thanks to my new laptop battery which has massively increased my flexible working ability) I shut down having got to 3,100 words and then trimming it down to 2,900. Another 400 cuts to go. The thing that made me feel like I'd been through the wringer though, is that to write it I had to get inside the head of my protagonist, who of course is a rapist and murderer. Boy that made me feel strange. Let me just, for the record, reiterate that this really is a work of pure fiction!!!
I jumped on a bus to avoid the pouring rain back to Kings Cross. Bought a cornish pasty as a treat...and stopped eating about two thirds of the way through and threw the rest away. What on earth was I doing? OK, the right thing because I'd had enough, but seriously, throwing away a pasty?
Got back to the car and decided to head back to the gym. The idea was to catch up on my alternative triathlon (sauna, steam room and jacuzzi) that I didn't have time for this morning. I went into the steam room for about 10 minutes and then the strangest thing happened. I thought to myself 'Now why don't I get in the pool and have another swim?'
Great idea, so I got in and thought. 'I know, on the back of my success this morning I'll just swim crawl until I can't do any more.' I guessed I'd last 20 lengths. I went past 20, then 30, then 40. At 50 I stopped, not because I really had to, put because I started to think it was a bit silly and I might knacker myself out for tomorrow morning's Bike and Run session (which is, apart from the full triathlon, the toughest of my sessions). 50 lengths, what was I doing? Non stop. Crawl!
I thought I'd throw in another 10 of breaststroke so that I'd completed a full 1,500m. I'm tired this evening and completely incredulous that I did what I did.
Friday, 28 September 2007
So I sat down yesterday evening to write. And the not entirely unexpected happened. I closed the window a few hours later with absolutely nothing written. OK so Carol Vorderman was busy in the background finding out about her ancestors, but since I'm not a huge fan of either 'Who do you think you are?' as a concept or of the lady concerned that wasn't too much of a distraction.
While on the subject, whoever decided she was the 'thinking man's crumpet'? I count myself as qualifying on both counts - thinking and man - but she doesn't get into the crumpet category for me. Isn't that very condescending, the thought that just because a man does his thinking between his ears instead of between his legs, that he will automatically find a certain woman attractive? Surely there would (rightly) be an outcry if Sienna Miller was the 'posh actor's crumpet', Jordan the 'poor, brainless man's crumpet', J-Lo the 'black man's crumpet' or Tanni Grey-Thomson the 'disabled bloke's crumpet'. Why is it not the same for thinking men?
And personally, I think Tanni Grey-Thomson is cute...
Back to the subject. I think inspiration has struck but thought I'd run the idea past you lot to see what you think before I start actually writing it.
The concept, not entirely original, is a backwards story.
- It starts (at the end) with a man celebrating the laws on the DNA database being changed and him finally getting his sample destroyed and his details removed from the database
- He campaigns to have the law changed
- He struggles to have his DNA sample destroyed before realising it's hopeless unless the law changes
- A different guy is convicted of the rape/murder and jailed for life
- Our 'hero' gives his DNA sample as part of a voluntary town-wide blanket testing for the man who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl
- It then ends (at the start) with him raping and murdering the girl
My idea is that the story is essentially a character study...to build up a character that the reader can identify with and feel compassion for in his predicament before destroying all of the suppositions one has made about him - ie that he is innocent. Technically I have to work out how he gets away with it...but that's a minor detail!
I also thought about adding an epilogue which skips back (forward) to the evening of the celebration where the story started (ends) and him watching another girl in exactly the same way I would describe him doing at the beginning of the rape/murder scene.
So what do you think?
Monday, 24 September 2007
I've often thought that the test of a good marriage is not whether you have an itch but rather whether you decide to scratch it or not.
Mrs M enjoyed her flowers, delivered to her in bed at 7.30am by the mooselets.
I have some pink bubbly stuff ready for this evening...
No elephants died in the celebration of this anniversary!
Friday, 21 September 2007
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
The article is by a novelist so I immediately thought there must be something in it. All novelists make complete sense whenever they have anything to say. Did I ever tell you I was a novelist, by the way?
Anyway, it seems that the secret to being happy is to delight in the little things of life and not make your happiness dependent on your job, your friends, your marriage etc etc. This all sounds like good advice. We have all got so used to making unhelpful comparisons versus other people and versus our own high expectations - "the guy in the next office earns more than me and he's useless" and "this isn't at all what I expected my marriage to be like" - that we forget to take pleasure in the small things.
However, I have a large but. That's a large but, not a large butt (well, actually...but that's an entirely different subject...) And here it is... But, there is a danger of getting lost in the small things and using them as distraction from the large and important things in our lives. Do we really want to end up saying things like: "I hate everything about my job but everything is OK because the coffee shop nearby makes a really good cappuccino" and "my wife is cheating on me but it's all fine because the sun is shining today"? I can't believe that such self-delusion is the course to true happiness.
In the midst of our disappointment and despair with the big things in life the good little things can provide crumbs of comfort and islands of respite. We should be thankful for them. And they will help ameliorate our sadness and depression to a certain extent. Most likely just enough to get us across the invisible line between the unbearable and the bearable. But I doubt that these little things will make us truly happy if all the big things are going horribly wrong?
She did say one important thing that I can agree with wholeheartedly. And that is that feeling connected with people is important for happiness. I also agree that we need to be thankful for all the connections that we have with other people, whether in real life or virtually.
So, thank you all for being connected through here. It really helps...
When I'm thinking clearly I know that there is only one thing that is really big and really important - not just for happiness but in general. Bigger than jobs and careers. More important than money or success or friendships or marriage.
And therein lies the real reason for my malaise at the moment - the fact that I feel far from God. Now he really is big and really is important. The exquisite froth on a cappuccino, a good day at the office, a bright sunny day - let's not lose sight of what these small things are; reminders to look to God and be thankful.
How did the Daily Mail miss that one? I'm off to read the Sun...
Friday, 14 September 2007
I can't exactly put my finger on why. On the surface it's been like any other week but there has been an unnerving undercurrent of wierdness going on for me.
Am I overtraining in the gym? I don't think so, it's going incredibly well and the article accompanying it is progressing nicely in draft form.
I wasted almost a complete day on Thursday by deciding I needed to go to the beach. I picked what I thought was a suitable destination..let's just say I'd never been there before (which was important to me before I set out) and it's on the Lincolnshire coast...took 3 hours driving there only to sit on the beach with my book for about 20 minutes before becoming so irritated by the tedium of it all that I got back in the car and drove back again. I went to the gym so that at least I'd done something that day.
Some would say I wasted Wednesday as well since I played golf after my gym session. I had a mixed day, hit 15 over par in total (18 handicap so a reasonably good day) but was 11 over par on my worst 4 holes (2nd, 3rd, 16th and 17th). The run of holes from the 4th to the 15th must be the best consecutive 12 holes of golf I have ever played in my life, ending 1 over par for the lot, including 2 birdies (and plenty of chances for others).
I decided to change my routine around a bit today. I was determined to have a good gym session (the Bike/Run session) but felt not quite ready for it when I got up. Also, I've been thinking recently about how I can get some writing done first thing in the mornings...my habit has been to do loads of other things first, resulting in me often not getting anything done at all, or only starting to write at 3pm). So I brought my laptop to the gym, got myself a coffee and wrote 1,200 words before the battery died. The gym session went fabulously well - I'm not sure whether fuelled by high dopamine levels generated by the inspiration of having polished off more than 1% of my novel or from the caffeine. Probably a bit of both.
I also think I need to equip myself better to work away from a power outlet. When I've posted this I'm off to PC World (other computer stores are available) to get a spare battery for my laptop.
But overall I think my strange mood is simply emotional imbalance. It's the first full week back into routine for many months and the attack of feelings of uselessness and a yawning future empty of recognition are plaguing me once more. I had managed to forget about them for a few months. What's most strange though is that this comes in a week when I have been bombarded with headhunter calls and the possible job options seem to be ever expanding. More choice doesn't make us happier.
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
Honestly, I went into it with an open mind and determined that if it was right for me I would give up my life of leisure, writing and golf - if indeed there is any discernible difference between the three - and go back to work.
But fortunately the roles they have available, while I could theoretically do all 6 of them, are all a little limited for me. I want to do all 6 at the same time, but that's the job of the guy I met with. So it's him or me and he's the incumbent.
After three sexist and two racist comments and way too much detail on his sex life since his wife divorced him - surely ANY detail is too much in a pseudo-job interview situation? - I'm not sure I'd be happy working with him anyway. Sure, lots of people end up being like that when you work with them every day, but when it's so openly thrown in your face at the first meeting, it's a little different.
So today I am at the gym, then going shopping (there were no delivery slots available when we belatedly tried to book one on Sunday night so I'm once more consigned to the drudgery of a manual shop...), then off to the office to write a bit before helping out in the after school schedule from hell (whole schedule: pick up mooselet #1 at 3.05, take both to swimming, #2 from 3.30 to 4 and #1 from 4 to 4.30, then on to Beavers for #1 for 5-6 - my part in the schedule: collect #1 from Beavers). Normal day really. I don't have access to my office for Wednesday and Thursday so I do believe I will be FORCED to spend a lot of time on the golf course...
And no dodgy jokes about Beavers, please.
Monday, 10 September 2007
Today's is my latest achievements in my triathlon training schedule. I made up the schedule myself with no particular event in mind yet (the only one left in this season is in 3 weeks time and I don't feel that's quite enough time to prepare). The winter will be focussed on getting rid of more weight and on building up a bit of stamina in each of the three events, so that I can realistically enter events in the spring and not show myself up too much.
So, the plan is as follows: Think of it as a grid with 13 different levels of training on one side and 7 graded training sessions for each level (Swim only, Bike only, Run only, Bike/Swim, Bike/Run, Run/Swim and Triathlon). The entire plan and accompanying article is being constructed ready for sale to fitness magazines...so please don't steal it.
The 13 levels build from Level 1: 2 minutes/lengths fast then 1 minute/length slow, repeated 7 times, up to Level 13: 50 minutes/lengths fast. For swimming the fast means front crawl and the slow means breaststroke (or froggy legs as we have to call it to avoid any unwanted discussions on the female anatomy). For the bike section fast is at 100 revolutions per minute and slow is 90 (I still have to convert this into realistic road speeds for real outside-the-gym training). For the run, fast is running at 10 kmh (OK for any serious runners out there that's more like jogging, but you try carrying 17 stones any faster!) and slow means walking at 6.5 kmh. The accompanying i-pod playlists will also be made available as part of the article for sale...cycling equates directly at 100/90 beats per minute, running is 140 bpm and walking 120. My i-pod isn't waterproof.
I'm currently on level 2: 4 minutes/lengths fast then 2 minutes/lengths slow, repeated 5 times.
Last week I did the 3 single element sessions of Swim, Bike and Run only. This morning was the turn of the first double session - Bike/Swim. After a few minutes warming up on the bike I launched into the 30 minute programme and finished it still feeling relatively fresh. In the pool I swam the 30 lengths continuously with no stopping for a sneaky breather. I think that's the farthest I've managed to swim in one go for many, many years...AND I did all 20 of the front crawl lengths.
So now I'm off to the smoke for a job interview/discussion...although with all this training to do and the article to write, I don't think I've got time to do a real job...
Friday, 7 September 2007
I probably ought to discuss the matter with Mrs M first! The only question I should really ask her is: Blue or silver? Since I've already decided which model I want...
It was a bit reminiscent of my experience of buying my car - "I want that one." Debit card out. Done.
For Keith: F800ST. Can you recommend it?
For everyone else: Blue or silver? And should I buy the leather trousers now or should I lose another 10-15kg first?
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Additives are bad for kids and make them hyperactive. Really? So that could be why the mooselets run around like mad things after a couple of Smarties. Doh, I was wondering!
Binge-drinking is bad for everyone and leads to "social problems" later in life. Yeah? And what about the more immediate social problems of pools of sick and blood in our city and town centres, STIs and teenage pregnancies following the drinking sessions, the use of valuable NHS resources for all the fight injuries, not to mention the mere existence of Doner Kebab vans? Oh and the unavoidable and incredibly offputting sight of exposed pale flabby stomachs hanging over low slung belts, male and female...
The additives thing reminds me of a little story from our holiday. We were at the pool with our friends in LA when a group starting unloading a trailer full of "goodies" for a kid's birthday party. The only drinks were carbonated 2 litre bottles of additive-infused sugar water and the cake was enormous, divided into eight sections, each of which was plastered with a different brightly coloured icing mountain, each colour bearing no relation whatsoever to anything from the natural world. We got out of their way rather quickly... I fear that the levels of hyperactivity after that lot would have been truly anti-social. Pools of some sort of nasty bodily fluids (are there any other type?) were probably apparent later in the day...
In more local and private news, Mooselet #2 started school today. He's been looking forward to it so much...the memory of him in his new school uniform standing proudly outside the front door will last a lifetime. It's really quite sad to read stories in the news relating to the stress that some kids seem to have put on them by their parents - I can't imagine how else a 4 year old would know it might be something to get stressed about - when the only stress he was suffering was having to wait two extra days after his brother went back before he could go to school too!
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
The guy was actually talking about kids and how the chances of ending up poor are largely determined by what your parents do. So a plumber's kid is 6 times more likely to end up poor as a lawyer's kid. But hang on a minute, reverse the stat...a lawyer's kid is only 6 times less likely to end up poor as a plumber's kid. Ending up poor when you are the offspring of a lawyer is a hard thing to do, unless you opt for addiction or decide to become a writer.
There was also, rather conveniently, an article about whether rock stars really die younger or whether they hype around famous early rock deaths, mostly but not all at age 27, distorts the apparent average while we forget the armies of ageing, fat and silent ex-rockers. Damn, that's now 8 hits for "fat" - hopefully the 2% range still applies...
Well, it seems that the statistics show that rock stars are 3 times more likely to die early than those in more normal professions. This, despite the distorting bias that fat-free (9) health freaks like Jagger and Sting (just for Lyndyloo!!!) have on the stats. Well, I suppose someone has to offset the Pete Doherty effect - who is already 28 so has missed the ideal double-whammy opportunity for rock legend status and freeing the rest of us from having to read about him all the time.
But...reverse the stat and you discover that you are only 3 times less likely to die early if you are in a boring, ordinary profession than if you are a rock star.
That seems like a chance worth taking...and a more financially rewarding career choice than being a writer. Now where did I put my guitar?
Sunday, 2 September 2007
I joined the insomniacs club last night. I'd taken 3 hours to get to sleep on Friday night after going to bed early. Last night I watched the football, experienced my usual start of season incredulity: "But I thought he played for Middlesbrough. And Koncheski was a West Ham player. What has happened to him? What do you mean Rooney is injured?". I take so little notice of anything during the off season and being away for nearly 3 weeks adds to the effect. Not even my chance meeting in a Chinese take-away in Los Angeles with a football (soccer) obsessed wine dealer who knew a darned sight more about West Ham (and English football in general) than I did, increased my awareness of what was going on in the football world back home. Back to the story, I got into bed at 12.08am. I was full of caffeine having been out for dinner, washing it down with 2 diet Cokes and a double espresso to finish. At 12.50 I decided to get up, make some peppermint tea and write down my thoughts to stop them spinning through my head.
Back in bed an hour later, I still felt overly alert but soon fell asleep having committed my random musings to paper (well, screen obviously). I have had only one cup of coffee today after lunch so I'm hoping for more sleep tonight...and the way my head keeps on aiming spontaneously for the keyboard, I don't think it'll be all that long in coming.
Thursday, 30 August 2007
I bought 2 packs.
How does that work?
I'm so glad to see you were all busy and (mostly) present over the last 3 weeks. We generally had a good time - drove thousands of miles and saw lots of great sights. We're currently trying to get the mooselets back into a regular sleeping pattern, which this time is proving more tricky than normal and we don't quite know why.
In the land of the world obese champions, I managed to lose a bit of weight. That was mainly achieved by only ever having 2 meals a day and avoiding starters and desserts, but also by choosing hotels with pools where I could have swimming races with the mooselets. It is so fantastic to race with them, although the handicap system is complicated - at the moment we are roughly level when I do 4 lengths to mooselet #1's 2 lengths and mooselet #2's 1 length (floaty jacket assisted). Hiking in 100 degree temperatures probably sweated a few pounds off too! Zion National Park remains one of my favourite places in the world. Despite the disapproving looks of the park ranger, we all hiked up the Narrows - a hike that basically goes through a river in a very narrow canyon. At times, mooselet #2 was up to his chest and the two of us fell in at one point - entirely my fault but I pulled him in with me as I was holding his hand pretty tightly the whole time! We also went to Disneyland for a day which was nowhere near as bad as my expectations of it. I even agreed to go back sometime.
And to show just how inaccurate my predictions are:
- We didn't make it to 29 Palms.
- We didn't go to Joshua Tree NP although I did see Joshua trees
- We by-passed Big Sur due to fog and time constraints having spent an extra day in San Francisco
- We didn't go to Yosemite to see El Kapitan
I hope that blasting various 70's hits (the 70's station was the only one we could pick up most of the time) at the Grand Canyon in a thunderstorm, across the vast nothingness that is Nevada, and in the Mission district of San Francisco will suffice as suitable memorial instead...
I started back at the gym yesterday with a decent training session and I've decided that I need an event to do in October to train towards. Triathlon or 10k I think. I did the Cancer Research 10k last October so I might repeat that, even though triathlon is my preference. I will be doing the internet search for the appropriate event as soon as I've posted this...
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
I shall stop in the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park and blast "I still haven't found what I'm looking for".
I shall stop at the bottom of El Kapitan and blast "Happy Talking".
I shall stop at Big Sur and blast something "Hang the DJ".
See the rest of you in a couple of weeks...
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
We have invested in bigger seats for the trip out there and still a hope for an upgrade on the way back. Am so looking forward to Santa Barbara and Monterey. I do hope my PVR thingy will cope with so many episodes of House to be recorded while away.
I have a very red face from Sennen beach yesterday. And we went to a reservoir today for mooselet #1 to have his first ever go at sailing. I took mooselet #2 out on a kayak and got a very wet bottom. We only had one near miss when mooselet #1 aimed straight for us!
I am driving back home on my own Thursday, to be joined by the others on Saturday evening via those friendly little Irish people at Ryanair. I have a man to see about a job on Friday up in London...or maybe 2 men to see about 2 jobs, as I still have one appointment to try and fit in.
Am still trying to work out if and how I can blog from hols. I am thinking that I might just take a complete two and a half week break. I'm sure you'll keep yourself going with all the poking you seem to be doing with each other (I am not on Facebook so don't bother even trying to poke me, even if you were tempted!)...hope that's OK with everyone.
Sunday, 29 July 2007
Chanelle leaves BB. Who cares?
Tour de Farce has finally finished. No excitement about that. Even the bloke that won must feel a little let down and disillusioned by it all.
England back to losing ways in the cricket. Quelle surprise!
So there is obviously only one newsworthy item to celebrate...
Congratulations to Hazel for now being a world famous published photographer!!!
In case you missed it...http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Poor old David Cameron. I am not disclosing whether I am a supporter of his in particular or his party in general, but I do feel for him as a victim of our insistence on form over substance, appearance over reality.
What could he do? He is expected to APPEAR statesmanlike, which involves such activities as foreign trips, even though he can DO nothing while he is there. He is also expected to APPEAR to be helping in his flooded constituency, even though the reality is he can DO little if anything.
OK, he could have picked up a bucket and started baling...but to what effect? Are the people of Witney whose houses are flooded baling out? No, because there is no point until the waters go down. They have hunkered down and are more bothered about getting a bottle of clean water. Can Cameron get them this water? Well, the government, environment agency, supermarkets and various others seem to be doing a prety good job.
The job of an MP, in particular an MP of the opposition (whether the leader of that opposition or a simple back bencher), is to represent his constituents. Only when in government does the job change. David Cameron is not in government, therefore his job is to represent his constituents. Turning up and smiling and shaking hands does not represent them. Arguing in future for more flood defences, more aid etc may well be called for but at the height of the floods it is not the time for this. It is simply a time for whatever practical action can be done.
Incidentally, I am not entirely sure how he was representing the people of Witney in Africa either. But then that's the point...he feels as though he has to be there because the expectations on him are unfair.
Friday, 20 July 2007
It's so nice to be wanted! My plan is to pursue all four of them as far as possible in the hope that I will find out more about all the opportunites and be able to make an informed decision on which one fits me best, if any. In terms of culture, I may simply have to choose whether Irish, stuffy English, down-to-earth English or Qatari suits me best. I like Guinness, didn't go to public school/Oxbridge, am trying to get rid of my builder's cleavage rather than being proud of it, and I don't really do temperatures over 18 degrees C without breaking into an embarrassing flood of sweat. Shame the Irish one is probably the least successful of the companies and the most likely longer term dead end for me.
Any competitive bidding between the relevant corporate giants on salary and package that might also happen is completely coincidental...
In case you were wondering, becoming a bus driver in Germany isn't one of the options.
Just in case my career (never forget that the Oxford English dictionary definition is "to swerve violently out of control") takes a sudden turn into politics, I wanted you all to be the first to know that I am in the Gordon Brown camp (oo-er) regarding cannabis smoking. Never been there, not got the t-shirt. I, unlike GB, am not satisfied to answer with a simple and emphatic no. I just have to go further to admit that I was always just too darn goody-goody and chicken to ever go there. Let's face it, I'm the moose that has only ever been drunk twice in my life and only one of those times so horribly that I threw up. I hate being out of control (and therefore outside my comfort zone) so much it's a state I avoid with the paranoia of Jeff Goldblum avoiding ultra-violet lights in a chip shop.
That makes me think about an alternative perspective on the character traits and principles of our politicians and their suitability for high office. Would we rather have boundary-pushing, brave renegades or staid, don't-let-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone wimps as our Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Chancellor etc?
And, maybe more importantly, are their 20-year-old youthful attitudes to illicit drugs really a good indicator of which camp (there I go again) they are in?
Monday, 16 July 2007
Although maybe there are other interests (if not skills) that could be enflamed in other jobs. I'm also thinking of becoming a bus driver...
I do speak German after all!!!
Saturday, 14 July 2007
I hadn't mentioned it recently, but then I haven't mentioned much recently at all, except in an e-mail to Hazel, but we had our school appeals panel yesterday. And we won! The 'again' is because mooselet #1 only got into this school on appeal too. We now count ourselves as experts in primary school admissions appeals having a 100% record.
I have been rather busy over the last week preparing the case. At least the mooselets will be at the same school next year - a huge relief to us all.
I hope to get back to slightly more regular blogging in the coming week.
Friday, 29 June 2007
Clearly the answer will be different depending on whether you are male or female, but even for the males among us, I reckon the answer is more than one.
I don't know why, but this question has crystallised in my mind over the last day or so, through a fog of jet-lag, pain and phlegm (apologies but it is the most medically accurate, least offensive and simply the best word ever for it).
I'm inhabiting many different worlds at the moment. I'm back into the real world of my home life, with school runs, assemblies, catering for children and washing (piles and piles of washing - how can one person generate so much washing in only six days away?). Part of my mind is still in the other real world in Boston that I inhabited for most of the last week, with memories pricked by the pain of the blisters.
Then there are fictional worlds. The fictional world of my book is ever present, if somewhat at the back of my mind at the moment. I also have the fictional world of my Bridport Prize short story (just completed and submitted this evening - more than 24 hours before the deadline, I must be getting better at delivering ahead of expectations!) strongly there.
But where I recognise that I'm bumping up against my personal limit is that my head is also full of Will Self's fictional world from The Book of Dave, my Boston reading material. I finished it at the airport in Boston. I tried to start another book I took with me but have been completely unable to do so. The impressions of Self's book are just too strong. The language and the characters were so well developed and so ingrained into my head that they keep impinging on my real world - I keep thinking in the Mokni (Mockney = mock Cockney) that he employs throughout the book, translating my normal conversation into his language.
What this also does though, is instil a very real goal in me. If only one person, on reading MY book, will be transported into my fictional world in anywhere near the same way, I will rate it as a success. Hopefully the last week of research (and yes it did include the local brews - especially Samuel Adams) will help me, in some small way, to create such a compelling and believable world of fiction.
Friday, 22 June 2007
I am here and finally online after much fiddling and eventually giving in to paying the hotel $10 a day for using their wireless network.
Have had a great day...so far. Although it's my usual time for blogging, it's only 6pm here and I still have a number of plans to delay the onset of sleep and therefore hopefully negate the impact of jetlag.
Weather on the M25 was severe this morning and it took my maximum allowable 2 hours to get there. Good conversation witht he taxi driver who may well feature in the book now. The usual extremely long lines at check-in (and later at passports and security and the gate and then the second check in at the gate to finally get a seat allocated). Why is it that all air travel related activities seem to be weighted towards efficiency for the airlines and away from customer service?
So I ended up iin the very back row, left thinking until the very last minute that I'd have a spare seat next to me. The very last passenger to board turned out to be my neighbour. But he was great and I had a very in depth philosophical discussion about life, God, the universe, evolution and molecular biology with him. He was German so I slipped in a few words and shocked him suitably!
Read some of my book, one of three I purchased on a threefer offer specifically for this trip, and watched a movie. And then we were here. Hot and sunny when I arrived but it's gone steadily downhill since then, although it has now stopped raining so I can see the river and Boston University beyond.
I have to admit to being very stinky when I got here and was really looking forward to a shower. Imagine my dismay when my room wasn't ready. But then I guess it was only 12.45 here. I drank coffee while they got housekeeping to fix up the room, then showered and headed out for the University. The nice people at the Barnes and Noble store - I correctly guessed that slipping into the conversation that I'm writing a book would elicit both excitement and friendly help - sold me a book about the Uni (written by students for students) and recommended a campus tour, telling me exactly where I need to go to do that. And because they are 7 days a week, my plan is to hit there tomorrow. I sat in their Starbucks and made some notes. I already feel that I have some additional research material that will make the book better - from the colours of the stripes on the buses to the hairstyle of the barista, and from the bike lock attached to the railings but completely devoid of a bike to the three trust-fund babies discussing boyfriends and dates.
I've called home on the old Skype - what a great invention that is! - and now am gearing myself up to go visit the gym. I'm going to eat in the hotel tonight because I know that by the time I've eaten and drunk a beer (or two) I will only be fit to collapse straight into bed, hopefully to sleep until a reasonable time in the morning. But if not, I guess I can always do some writing if I wake up at 3am.
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Interview today. Went well. Don't want the job.
Weight 107.3kg. Woo-hoo! Lowest in a long while. Thank you Paul McKenna! Bought some new shorts with a waist size not seen in this household for many a year.
Flying away on a "research trip" on Friday. On my own. For 6 days. Good 'ole US of A. A brew of tea parties. Excited? You bet I am. Fairly flash hotel booked (at Mrs Moose's insistence). Me, the laptop and some books. A list of locations to visit while I'm there.
In the meantime, one to mull over...
Lies, damned lies and statistics. But consider these two numbers:
We have to build new prisons and release some non-violent prisoners early and everyone is up in arms about the amount of crime we have - there are 81,000 people in prison.
There were 194,000 abortions last year.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
According to a failed reality TV contestant on a reality TV programme that I have not watched a second of this time around (for the first time). I know this only because the reports of what is happening in the BB house are unavoidable in the red tops that accompany my gym breakfasts. That and 'News in Briefs'.
Somebody called Lesley apparently dissed half the population as being dead because they have silver cars. Apparently the woman herself drives a black Porsche. She claims that black is the only acceptable colour for cars.
My gripe is not really with her taste in colour but rather her taste in marque. Maybe I'm judgemental but Porsches usually seem to be driven by short men with big chips (on their shoulders) or trophy wives/girlfriends. And more annoying, even people who drive the things can't say it properly, demonstrating the usual British lack of skill and desire to correctly pronounce anything remotely foreign. Ikea is pronounced with a short i like in pig, but no we have to say Eye-key-ah. Ikea themselves have even given up trying to correct this in Britain as they realised they were in a losing battle. Munich and Cologne don't exist but we can't get our tongues around Muenchen and Koeln.
I suggest Porsche do a bit of rebranding. They will have to change the spelling of their brand. They have two options. One is to call it Porsh, capitulating to our laziness and ignorance. The second is to call it Portia - at least some British people are educated enough to have read some Shakespeare and know how to pronounce her name, and it's closer to correct than 'Porsh'.
Maybe Katie from The Apprentice could advise on the global branding aspects - I hear she's looking for work.
I was telling Hazel this morning that my lack of a blog posting recently was not for want of trying. I have spent an hour or two over a few evenings sitting with a blank New Post screen in front of me waiting for the muse to strike. Nothing.
A skateboarding half-pipe in a church in Cornwall? No.
A 26 toed cat? Nearly, but no cigar.
Two deaths in one day, one police officer and one at the hands of the police? Unbelievably, not that either.
England winning at cricket or throwing away a football match by missing a penalty? Not even that.
But then I arrived at the office and it hit me. Even before I had logged on, for I read the paper at the gym while consuming breakfast. And it was this.
Katie (from The Apprentice, just in case you didn't immediately know) has been fired...again!
What does that say about me? Am I cruel, enjoying the schadenfreude (again)? Am I vindictive? Or do I just get a sense of righteous satisfaction when the 'burning coals' get heaped on someone's head who seems to deserve them?
Maybe some of each. Katie's statement in her interview that she can be pretty ruthless, when she rated getting someone else's husband "because I wanted him" as an 8 on the 1-10 ruthlessness scale, got me and half the nation wondering what would earn a 10. Well how about this?
An employee takes unpaid leave for a few months to join a reality TV show where she doesn't want the prize on offer but does want the fame and notoriety of winning the show. On walking out of the said show, just in time before being fired, she returns to work to have 3 more affairs with married men (allegedly). One of her 'encounters' in a field is caught on film and published in the national Sunday newspapers. Her employer fires her (allegedly) for bringing the organisation into disrepute. Is that worth a 10 for ruthlessness?
Or just full marks for common sense and decency...
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
Now I learned at school that just because there is a statistical correlation between two things doesn't mean that there is a causal relationship. Sad person that I am I can still remember the example that our Economics teacher used. Sad person that I am I also remembered it in an entrance scholarship exam at University - a memory feat that helped me earn some much needed and appreciated extra cash. Anyway, it was that the incidence of cancer in the countries of the world had a very strong correlation with their consumption of canned sardines.
Stop the sardines! Ban the sardines! They cause cancer! They are to BLAME!
Of course the real link was the degree of development of the countries concerned. Only rich, developed countries eat lots of canned sardines. And in poor, underdeveloped countries, most people die from other things before cancer can get a hold of them.
So, wild guess here...but could it possibly be that the larger consumption of alcohol and drugs by people with wallets as fat as their heads at the end of the month might just have a small causal impact on the whole situation?
In the meantime the good police officers of West Sussex will no doubt enjoy the overtime cash they will earn during the times of upgraded police cover. Let's just hope they don't spend it all at the end of the following month on drugs and alcohol or there could be real trouble.
Monday, 4 June 2007
- maybe I only have to pay my car insurance if I have a crash
- I only pay my TV licence if I think the BBC programmes are any good
- I can borrow self-help books from the bookshop, returning to pay for them only if I am a noticeably better person for it
My life would be distinctly cheaper if I could follow these rules. Let's hope that it's also cheaper for the NHS.
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear blog,
Happy birthday to you!
The 100th entry on this blog and what better way to celebrate than with the news that the secret of a happy marriage is recognising that sometimes it will be miserable.
Well I never realised that! How many times have I said that when our expectations are too high we end up with problems? How many times have I commented on self-sacrifice and humility being fairly important in all relationships but especially in marriage?
How much do we pay people to come up with these findings? Is there a University of the Bleedin' Obvious somewhere that churns out these studies? Will they pay me a load of money if I spout self-evident conclusions on not very important stuff too?
Oh, I do that already...could someone please just send the cheque to...
Thursday, 31 May 2007
So why does it appear that we're so busy?
My belief, having observed a number of companies both here and abroad, is that we are busy doing nothing much productive. We work on the wrong things. We do a lot of things for show rather than profit, we are allergic to good process and we're basically a nation of jobsworths.
Not us of course. Anyone who joins in here in massively productive and positively holding up the economy single-handedly. If a group of people can do something single-handedly, but I'm not sure what the right word is for 'group-handedly'.
While we continue to mock other economies for their obsessiveness about efficiency (Germany, Japan), their cost effectiveness (India, Eastern Europe) or their laissez-faire, if we are not going to be very productive let's at least make sure that we don't work long hours attitude (France, Italy) we will never compete with them. I think we should at least pick one of these to join in with. Efficiency and cost effectiveness are hard work.
Just for once, I suggest that we align ourselves shoulder to shoulder with the French and the Italians.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Just one question. Why, if you can't find a pretty girl in Birmingham, would you pick instead a chav-queen Colleen looky-likey from Stoke?
I mean Stoke, for goodness sake. What were they thinking?
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
I'd never been before. Despite my numerous trips to Cornwall, we usually zoom past all those "up-country" trendy parts and descend into the real vile extremity. So I was intrigued to see what it was going to be like. I can't help but be somewhat disappointed. I didn't see Rick Stein, I didn't see a statue of Chalky and I DID see lots of pikey Brits. They were the type of pikeys that clearly have money. Now a few years ago this would have ruled them out of the pikey classes altogether but I fear that the mere possession of a few quid isn't sufficient these days to become excluded. The evidence is all around you in Padstow.
The dress 'sense' is similar to downtown Stevenage only with designer labels instead of Primark anonymity. The language is similar to Harlow Town Centre but with a plummy accent. The cars are trashy BWMs and Mercs instead of trashy Fiestas and Subarus. But pikeys they are still.
The crowning moment was a conversation overheard by me between a father (fortysomething, kitted in designer shorts, t-shirt, deck shoes and sunglasses, plus earring) and his early teenage daughter (white lycra leggings with some logo across the butt and a navel exposing crop top with matching logo, highlighted hair and designer shades too) about the pubic nature of eyebrow hair, all in distinctly estuary accents. I recognise these easily having one myself!
Hey, but at least Padstow has Fish n Chip cafe's that give you a plate, knife and fork instead of forcing you and your young kids to struggle with a polystyrene tray and a wooden chip fork, as we had to endure in Wells last week. And that's despite Wells allegedly being the focal point for the Chelsea-on-Sea bit of North Norfolk just as Padstow is the centre of the equivalent movement in Cornwall. I suppose it's all just further evidence for my pikeys wherever you go theory.
Maybe I protest too much. Estuary accent - check. Fat Face clothing - check. Eating in a Fish n Chip cafe - check. Oh no, it must be true. I am a pikey myself. Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!
Monday, 28 May 2007
Are we all really that stupid as a nation? I'm not that stupid. Nor are a lot of the people I know. So are all the people I don't know (let's call them the pikeys for simplicity) that stupid.
Let's look at it. We are technically allowed to drink 3-4 units per day if we are a man or 2-3 units if we are a woman. If we drink so much that we forget whether we are a man or a woman, I'd suggest that 3 units is the right target as both targets have that in common, but it doesn't really matter because you'll be well over if you've drunk enough to forget anyway.
Now, whether I'm drinking high strength beer or normal strength wine, I know that I've had too much when I reach about that amount. I don't do it too often which may have something to do with my low tolerance levels. But I know that if I go beyond one glass of anything on any day, then it's probably too much and I'm not doing myself any good. I have a drink because I enjoy it, but that is exactly what I have - a drink - singular, lonely, one drink. And surely that's easy enough for anyone to count, even the most mathematically challenged pikey. One drink - OK, more than one - probably too much. DOes anyone not get that?
So are the labels going to help? I doubt it somehow. We have a pretty unhealthy attitude to alcohol in this country and have done for generations. When I think about what makes us British/English then binge drinking comes fairly high up the list. Ever since King Alfred drowned his sorrows with ale or mead after burning the cakes (or maybe even before that) we have been a nation of drunks. A few extra numbers on our bottles won't change that.
Maybe the absurd idea that pregnant pikey women shouldn't drink anything because they are too stupid to work out how much 1 or 2 units are is really the answer. Maybe the real issue is in utero alcohol addiction which then carries on through our entire lives. And maybe, just maybe, the government are right to suggest complete abstinence.
Thursday, 24 May 2007
But no, we instead put down some turf for 2 days - yes count them, one, two - in Trafalgar Square. So it's almost literally here today and gone tomorrow. The turf will be moved to other parks but I assume to replace existent green space rather than create new ones. I don't know about turf but I assume that being laid on concrete for two days can't do it much good - let's just hope that it takes in it's new location. Only tourists go to Trafalgar Square anyway so there's likely to be little impact on the good burghers of London Town.
I propose that instead, if we really want to promote green spaces we really make a new one. Take a street, close it, send the diggers in to remove the concrete and then plant some real grass and some real trees and then leave there for ever.
My suggestions? Whitehall would be good. However, Downing Street would be smaller but more impactful. Visiting ministers should arrive on a goat instead of in a chauffeur driven gas guzzler. Or a donkey for the PM for an added impact of biblical proportions. Of course when ministers are called to Number 10 to be sacked they will have to leave on the ride-on mower so that their final exit from the street (or now renamed Downing Field) will be of some use (biodiesel driven from left over chip fat, of course).
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Weigh-in tonight shows that I lost 3kg in the 9 weeks, as opposed to the 12kg that was the target. I should be thinking that the result is pathetic. But you lot told me not to be too hard on myself. So let's focus first on the positives:
- I lost 3 kg!!!
- I'm at my lowest weight for about 5 years.
- My fat % has dropped significantly. That means I've put on c. 3kg of muscle since I started. Meaning I've lost 6kg of fat.
- I feel thinner and fitter than in a long while.
- The trousers I'm wearing now are 1 size smaller than 9 weeks ago and are feeling loose.
- I've had to add 2 holes to each of my favourite belts.
- I'm eating less. Even when I do binge the binges are smaller.
- I'm often not eating until I'm hungry rather than when it's a mealtime.
- I'm eating better. More veg and fruit. Less fried stuff.
So what went wrong?
- I didn't stick to the rules.
That's it really. There are so many of the rules I didn't stick to fully that detailed analysis is pointless.
What happens now? Phase 2 started today. Originally I had planned to give myself 4 weeks off now - not off completely but a month of keeping the weight stable rather than trying to reduce it. But the reality is that I lost the 3kg in the first 4 weeks so I've already been roughly constant for 5 weeks. So I'm going to plough on now. I've written a new target and renewed my desire to stick to my own rules. I'm going for a longer time but more weight loss. 20kg in 20 weeks this time. My spreadsheet has been drawn up, I'm ready to go, and as soon as this is posted I'm going to add up my calorie total for today.
Monday, 21 May 2007
My reaction to the story was to laugh in a slightly embarrassed way. Sometimes the truth, while amusing, is better not uttered in exactly the way we might think it or indeed in a way that is easily and immediately understood. I feel for people in the situation of having to compile such reports. The expectations on them are that they are professional, factual and evidential in their treatment yet they should also use clear language. While "ding bat" cannot be claimed to be particularly professional it does convey a succinct truth which is hard to beat for clarity. As a casual reader I immediately had a vivid picture in my mind of what this particular child is like and how you might need to treat them. Sometimes you face a situation where you just have to call a spade a spade.
Reading the story seemed to highlight an important difference in the priorities. The school themselves was apparently most concerned with the report book having been left on the street while the local educational authority was most concerned with the language used and the loss of the book was relegated to second place. This reminded me of the time in one of my previous corporate lives when the information that finance analysts doing the same jobs in different divisions of the company had significantly different salaries. I was in the lower paid group. There was outrage among the analysts - the lower paid ones for being lower paid and the higher paid ones for it coming out. There was also outrage among the management - not for the inequality that had evolved but rather for the release of confidential information that exposed the inequality. Their first reaction was to start a witch hunt to determine who the source of the leak was.
Another interesting priority question surrounds the motivation for the finder of this report book. I would like to think that if I found something on the street my first reaction would be to think "Who does this belong to and how can I return it to them?" But not this lady - she was straight on to the BBC instead. Maybe I don't have the right nose for an opportunity.
Friday, 18 May 2007
Buoyed by the excellent round of golf I played yesterday (second best ever - I went in to thank the pro for his help afterwards as I know it was his advice that made a huge difference) I was on a bit of a high yesterday as I got home. Big mistake. Pride comes before a fall and boy did I fall a long way. I won't go into the details except to say that my reflection on it this morning has mellowed my reaction somewhat and I understand what happened. Suffice to say that my dream/ideal job that I mentioned yesterday turned out to be a giant bubble, burst with a very loud bang within an instant of starting to discuss it.
Every now and then I do a piece of reflection that I call 'the state of the nation' - named after the President of the US's speech he does every year, except my nation is the Moose nation. A birthday is as good a time as any to do this, although New Year also lends itself quite well. Basically I do a quick review of my life, the various roles I play (eg husband, father, work etc) and how I'm doing and feeling in each of them. I plan to do that today but I have a sense of foreboding that it ain't pretty. Nothing new comes up in the review, nothing that I don't know already, so the feeling in the pit of my stomach beforehand is quite a good prediction of the more formal review result still to come. There is of course the possibility that the blue mist has descended and that the gut feeling comes more from that than from the real objective assessment of my life. I'm going to keep holding out for that small shred of hope for as long as I can.
This will be my last post before I go over the hill. I hope to see you all safe and well on the other side, as what is hopefully the second half of my life begins on Sunday...I would like to invite you all to a virtual glass-raising at 8.30pm on Sunday evening with the beverage of your choice. The one area of my life that has improved dramatically during the 40th year of my life is that I have gained a group of friends that have become very important to me...cheers to all of you!