View through my window

February 28, 2006

Nothing here.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

All idle chatter about sofas and libraries has been reprioritised down the to-do list, pending an urgent need to make money to pay for them. And by the second entry on the priority list: making sure that clients do not shout at me.

See you in quieter, less fiscally challenged times in the near future.

February 27, 2006


I have a Library at home.


This is possibly the biggest over-statement in history, to say nothing of it also being pretentious cock. I'll try again.

I have Porch at home, which has books in it.

That's better.

My porch is quite an elongated affair, and contains, by my count, 21 shelves each containing double and sometimes triple layers of books. Most of the bookshelves are Mr Ikea's finest 'Billy' range, some with as many as six shelves, all tastefully constructed in a white melamine finish, but this is not the point of the discourse. The books contained within same, ah yes, these, then.

I have read very nearly all of them at some point or another. I am afraid to say that very few of them are Literature. One shelf's worth, in fact, is all; I haven't read all of that shelf. The rest: paperback thrillers, science fiction, crime novels, fantasy. Some rock climbing guides and quite a few mountaineering prose texts. Various comedy novels - Tom Sharpe, Stephen Fry. Harry Potter. The Lord of the Rings. A large assortment of further miscellany.

The LOML tidied up the Library the other day. She bought new bookshelves, constructed them (she's a demon with a disposable allen key, the LOML), placed them in the Library, filled them neatly with the disordered piles of books therein. All is now ordered (look, all-stuff-is-now-on-shelves ordered, not Dewey-Decimal ordered. We're not that anal). I think it looks marvellous; civilised, erudite, dignified (as long as you don't look at the titles too closely: difficult to use these three adjectives in close conjunction to the complete works of Patricia Cornwell. Or Dick Francis. But still).

She wants to get rid of it.

She thinks that we should sell most of the books. I've read them, after all, she says. It's a waste of space. I try to explain that would be like selling a CD after listening to it once. She counters, not without skill, that I won't read many of them ever again. Aha, I say, maybe not, maybe not. But Child One will, if he carries on the way he is going. A veritable bookworm, that boy, I say.

This is my Most Convincing Argument, and I really hope she has no counter to it, because I have nowhere further to go, debate wise. I'll be reduced to petulance, tears, and I don't care what you say they're my books and I like them and you aren't allowed to sell them so there.

Fortunately, all I get is a you can keep it fucking tidy in there yourself in future then, and my cause, for the moment at least, is won.

My books are safe.

February 24, 2006

Government slave - a rant (part I, probably).

Regular readers will be aware that I work for myself. This is my fourth year at it. Working for yourself has untold benefits; the only problem is you don't get benefits.

Uh, I could have put that better, couldn't I?

What I mean is, I now have all the little pleasures of being my own boss - such as working in the morning in my jarmies, which I do sometimes on a Saturday - but you don't get what society chooses to call 'benefits' such as sick pay, holiday pay, non-contributary pension and whathaveyou. 'Benefits' is right. Bear with me, I'll look it up ... a ... b ...b ... beluga, belvedere, bemoan ... bench ... Benedictine, benediction ... here we are, benefit n. 1. advantage, favour, profit, good 2. money paid by a government etc. to unemployed etc.

Damn right. Advantage, favour, money paid. That can be the only reason for a sane person to work for the government, the only reason.

Let's be clear on this. As a society we need a government, I think, definitely. As an entity it works, sort of. Stuff does get done, sort of. It's just when you get down to the micro-scale that it all goes tits. I went through various government places, and ended up working for the Environment Agency, a quango. There's another acronym for them now instead of quango but I can't remember it. It was an amalgamation of the National Rivers Authority, lots of people from each local government area, and a chunk from central government's Department of the Environment, as was.

On day one, everyone carried on doing their day job. For a while, people took the opportunity to switch about jobs a bit to do something more interesting. I was one of these, and ended up as a sort of pollution inspector (we had so many changes of job title that I won't bore you with them). It was a good job - one day I would be out chasing oil slicks down rivers, warning people who took water out downstream to stop, sticking absorbent booms and pads out; trying to find where it came from. The next I would be discussing landfill liner engineering with big waste companies. The next I would be doing covert video surveillance of flytipping skip companies, and taking them to court.

Varied, interesting, absorbing, satisfying.

And all the time, quietly, behind the scenes, others were working: the insidious little cost / benefit wonks, the health and safety nazis, the restructuring / efficiency weasels. And they whispered in the ears of the managers, largely decent men and women, promoted from the ranks. The weasels brought in management consultants, who talked about 'the regulation chimney' (I never understood what that was about, and once got a bollocking for playing 'buzzword bingo' too loudly with that phrase) and 'incentivising our stakeholders'.And the managers listened, and heard, and didn't really understand, but did it anyway.

The World's Most Complicated Time Recording system arrived, upon which we were required to account for every six minutes of our time - every tenth of an hour. And no, it didn't have codes for 'chatting at the coffee machine' or 'going for a shit'. Then, just as we were starting to get our heads round it, it was changed. And then again. And then it was computerised. Everyone just recorded all their time against the most-vaguely-described category (something to do with 'site regulation') because otherwise we would have spent all of our time recording our time and none of our time doing the stuff we were paid for. Missives came back from management saying we were spending too much time doing site regulation. All sorts of measures were introduced to address this. We laughed incredulously that someone was trying to draw serious conclusions from the data in the time recording system.

More and more stuff came through - databases of this, computer systems of that. You should have seen the incident response database: every time a little old lady rang to say there was a black bag in a layby or a film of oil on a pond, we'd have to fill in about nine full pages of database fields. NIRS, it was called. Fuck, I hated it. We spent more time recording what we'd done than going out to look at the damn thing.

I was becoming disillusioned. I had started out helping people, using my judgement, my initiative. I ended up as a pre-programmed android, with a pre-judged response to everything. Fly tipping > 6 bags + non-green waste + includes paint tins and / asbestos sheet + known suspect = prepare prosecution file. Other circumstances irrelevant. On the road verge while you're demolishing your shed? You were only putting it in there for a couple of days until you've got room for the skip you've ordered? Not my problem, mate, it's off your own land because the verge belongs to the highways authority. You were going to throw it out so it's waste. Ergo, it's waste on land. Fly-tipping, to you. Rules is rules. No you can't take it back into your garden, it's too late for that. You're not obliged to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court. Do you understand the caution?

For fuck's sake.

I had a problem with managers at this point. We had a manager who had come from the ivory towers of head office, and was keen as mustard on all this bollocks. He got given a pair of protective wellies and a hi-vis coat on his first day, and when he handed them back when he went back to his ivory tower to do policy they were still as clean as the day he was given them. 'Seagull manager', it's called: flies in, squawks loudly, shits on everything, flies off. Perfect. In that time he'd managed to give me a written warning. Largely for, uh, helping people (like the bloke knocking down his shed) without sticking to the procedure, and having four months' backlog of timesheets (my correct justification that they weren't worth the paper they were printed on is, of course, irrelevant. He made me do them anyway, both of us knowing full well that I was just making them up. But they got fed into the system and no doubt conclusions were drawn about them. Surely better to not feed made up information into the system? Don't argue with me, you've already got one written warning).

Suffice to say, I started looking around for something else to do. I managed to find a post-graduate diploma that was taught on Saturdays. I started my business at weekends and evenings. According to the Rules at work, I could request to go to part-time at any point. So I did, when my final coursework projects were looming. I had got enough private work while I was still studying to cover the loss of pay, anyway.

Delay followed delay. I finally got my part time arrangement about three months after I had completed my diploma. (I got a Distinction anyway, thanks for asking. I wasn't going to mention it).

Then, citing Setting An Example To The Country as a wholly spurious reason, the Paperless Office arrived. No longer are you allowed to keep paper files; all the current paper files disappeared for months to some warehouse where teams of temps with no (a) reason to do the job properly, and (b) brain in their heads scanned them into the database. Randomly, apparently. I never saw some of the most important stuff - you know the stuff: evidence that people's children were not actually given birth defects by a leaking landfill with illegal waste in it - ever again anyway. Difficult to go to the anti-landfill action group meeting after that, really. A bit embarrassing. Yes, I know how ill your daughter is. Yes, I'm sure I will see you in court, madam.

Letters addressed to you will be opened by admin staff, and scanned. You are then supposed to find them for yourself (remember you've got a response target time), resave them to the appropriate place, and then act on them. Assuming the admin staff put them in the right place so you even know you've got them, otherwise you'll suddenly come across a series of letters from someone getting crosser and crosser about a genuine problem until they are practically apopleptic because no-one is replying. They've tried to phone but it's just an 0800 number and they can't get through to the right person. Filed in the wrong place? Really? Oh, sorry about that.

I could go on. But for the purposes of this rant, suffice to say I just quit. On the spot. And no, I haven't looked back.

February 23, 2006

What is it with women and clothes?

"Can I go shopping this evening?" The LOML looks at me expectantly from under her lashes. This evening is one of the kids' nights for cubs or gym or something.
"Of course.What for?"
"I need something for your cousin's wedding."
"Which is in, uh, May ... hadn't you better wait until the spring stuff's in the shops?"
"Oh no, its okay, all the spring stuff's in now."
"Right. Um. Of course you can, love. I'll just take Child One to the supermarket while Child Two's at her club, shall I?"
"He likes it. He calls it 'being Daddy's little helper'."

In the face of indomitable argument, I succumb.

Later, when I'm slobbed out knackered on the sofa, the shopping put away, both kids in bed, the LOML returns. She commences a mini fashion show.

"I bought this skirt, look, it wasn't at all what I was looking for but I thought it'd be really good, it was only forty quid, and I thought I'd wear this new wrap top with it with one of these new vests underneath, and my black shoes. What do you think?"

I make a Fatal Mistake. I fail to gush on about how wonderful it all is, largely because it's the middle of MacIntyre's Sting on telly, and they're about to do a surprise arrest on a bail dodger who thinks he's won a car.

"You don't like it. Right, I'll take it all back."
"Mmmmmf. What, sorry? No, no. I do like it, really I do. You look lovely."
"No, no, you're right, I'll take it back. It's not smart enough. All your cousin's doctor friends are all going to be wearing little designer spring dresses, aren't they. I'll find something else."

She goes on. I go on right back. I persuade her that it's fine, really, she'll look lovely. She finally agrees that the one top and skirt are suitable. The other top can go back, it's a bit old on her, and the vests need to be a different size. Compromise finally negotiated, we go to bed.

I'm just nodding off, when:

"You know, I think I will take that skirt back. I mean, it was forty quid. I'm sure I can do better. I'll go and have another look."

She promptly goes to sleep. I spend an interesting hour or two looking at the ceiling.

February 21, 2006

Never trust a car salesman

I bought a car last year. Nice one - second hand, but nice enough. Prestigey-sort of badge. I took Flash Pete along because he actually enjoys buying cars; indeed, sometimes at weekends he goes and browses car places, with no real intention of buying anything. He knows about cars and about buying cars. He has lovely cars himself.

We test drove a couple of cars, and I was veering towards buying one, and Pete said it was ok, everything worked, it was reasonable value, but just felt a bit gutless to drive. The nice sales bloke said what can you expect, it's a big old car and a one point nine diesel engine.

I bought it.

I took it back for a service last week. The bloke rang and asked if it was a bit gutless lately. I said yes, actually, I thought maybe it was. Mmm, he said, thought so. The airflow meter that regulates the air/fuel mix has been progressively failing, and the power will have been dropping off as it goes to a default safe setting. He'd get the part and change it when the part gets delivered. Ok, I said.

I went back today, and they replaced it, and the car is now a absolute freaking rocket ship (for a one point nine diesel, anyway. These things are relative). Unbelievably quick. I am convinced that the airflow meter was already failing when I bought it a year ago: I'm sure it wasn't this fast then. I can, of course, prove this not at all. I know I can't, the sales bloke knows I can't. Still, he was nice, didn't charge me for the ten minutes or so his bloke took to fit it, made me a coffee while I waited, chatted amicably. We touched on how long I'd had the car, and how long these things take to fail, usually. We had that look at each other with a half-knowing-smile, I-know-what-you're-thinking moment.

I didn't mention it.

At least I get to play with my new sporty car now.

February 20, 2006

If only anyone tagged me ....

*Adopts plaintive whine* Why'd nobody tag me to do a the 'four favourite things' meme that's been going round for ages? Huh?

I really really want to be able to do that offhand "I don't normally do memes but since you've tagged me and I suppose it saves doing a proper blog on a Monday" thing.

Still, Universal Soldier gave a general invitation to do it so perhaps I might if I get desperate.

The highlight of my weekend was a long-overdue excursion into the world of plumbing. I don't do plumbing. Or electrics. Woodwork, plastering, brickwork, painting (actually the LOML does the painting now I think about it), tiling (uh, actually, LOML again), shelf hanging, mending broken stuff, car stuff, bike stuff and whathaveyou, I do. Plumbing, not really. It was with some trepidation that I considered fixing the sink tap in the bathroom that's been dribbling for months. It had got to the stage that I am pretty much the only one who can turn the tap off hard enough to stop it dribbling. And then the kids can't turn it on again to wash their hands, so by now we're probably all walking brood farms for virulent masses of threadworms just waiting for the middle of the night to erupt in an unclean itchfest.

So, pathetic as it may be at my time of life, I didn't know how to change a tap washer. I mean, I know the theory: I know how a tap works, I think. I'd just never taken one to bits and changed the washer.

The LOML was chatting to Andy'n'Mandynextdoor on Saturday morning first thing, and he said he had a tap washer if I needed one. Ta, I said. I'm going to the shops today so I'll probably be ok, but ta anyway.

So quite why it was at five o'clock on Sunday that I was apologetically knocking on his door holding a split tap washer, I'm not sure. No, it hadn't taken me all weekend to take the tap apart, I'd waited until half past four to start, for some reason. I got the tap apart ok, but I couldn't get the old washer off without splitting it in half. So the tap's defo not working now, and I've not got the bit to fix it, and the water's turned off and Child Two cannot understand why she can't have blackcurrant right now. Great.

Fortunately, Andynextdoor has a washer, and it fits the tap and I am DIY hero again. Child Two gets her blackcurrant, and we can all wash our hands and thus stave off third world style parasite infestations.

I offer to buy Andy a pint when I see him as thanks for the washer. I know I am fairly safe doing this because he tends to go to the pub early, and me late. So with a bit of luck I should get away with it for nothing.

Lost count again. *Adds up on fingers*. Oooh-er, I think it's 69. Snarf snarf.

February 17, 2006

Back to the silly stuff ...

Can't let it pass without comment: Madonna is an icon who has reinvented herself successfully many times to maintain her position at the top of the pop tree, so why has she decided, in her latest incarnation as seen at the Brits, that the best new look is the mutant older sister of Trisha Yates off Grange Hill?

Bad time

Ok. Explanation for missing or bleak postings last few days.

I play rugby every Saturday, nothing fancy, just for the village team. More of a social thing than anything, chance to run round and get rid of some frustrations and have a few beers with your mates afterwards.

A chap that I play with collapsed on Saturday, on the pitch. He was preparing to throw the ball in at a line-out, and just went down. He was playing for the first team, away, and I for the seconds at home, so we didn't hear for a while after our game, and then the news came through in dribs and drabs. Not too serious, we thought at first. He'll be ok. Concussion, probably, it happens. Then came the news of teammates administering CPR, and the ambulance coming, and the paramedics shocking him several times.

I don't know him really well. He doesn't live in the village, he comes down from Birmingham to play. I've had many a pleasant chat to him in the bar, and we've played front row together quite a few times - he's moved across from hooker to prop, and I've come in at hooker - but no more than that. He's quite a private, intense kind of bloke; well respected, fiercely loyal, committed to his family, his work and his rugby. A very fit, hard, man: he drinks bottles of pils so he can keep in with the rounds in the pub but only drink half as much. No extra fat on him, even at forty-four. Never smoked.

It turns out that he has a history of heart disease in his family, and maybe his lifestyle was an attempt to stave this off. I don't know.

He's still unconscious in intensive care, breathing by himself, with difficulty, via a tracheotomy. The doctors have tried to bring him round but without success so far. They are worried that if they do manage to bring him round, the shock of what has happened may give him another heart attack. It doesn't look good, to be honest.

I have had a few days to get used to this now. It's tough, but you just have to realise that this happens to hundreds, thousands of people every week. In time, it'll happen to someone you know. The world carries on, and my life with it: lucky me, and you, and all of us. We feel sad, and are reminded deeply of our mortality, but gradually it fades and we carry on. We are playing again on Saturday.

I hope he makes it, I desperately hope so. I cannot imagine the anguish that his wife and young children are suffering. Unconsciously, I find I am trying to spend as much happy time with my wife and kids as I can. Perhaps that is the best legacy of something like this: we are reminded that our time is short: four thousand weeks is all you've got, and that we need to make the most of them.

Be kinder, more considerate, and more tolerant, for our lives are far too short for hate, indifference and injustice.

February 16, 2006

Old times

Went back to my birthplace yesterday, to show the kids where Daddy grew up. My school looked small and sad, the swimming pool and the sports centre were both boarded up, all the shops had changed into charity outlets, someone was moving out of my old house, Child Two fell over and cut herself, Child One trod in dogshit.

Their abiding memory will be the play area by the river that wasn't even there when I was a kid. (The play area, not the river. I imagine the river's been there for a while).

They said they enjoyed it. I think they were just trying to be nice.

Look, I think it's 74 days. But I'm still not confident of my maths.

February 13, 2006

Life used to be so simple, before

The telephone rings. It is Child Two.

"Daaaaad, I've been playing in the greenhouse at Granny and Grandad's and I took off my trousers so I could take off my tights so I didn't get them dirty, and I couldn't get my button undone, so I pulled and pulled and it came off and fell into the soil, and I buried it and found it again and I buried it again and now I can't find it because I can't remember which hole I put it in and Mum says would you bring up our little metal detector that the other Granny and Grandad gave us for Christmas to see if we can find it with that."

I did, but they couldn't.

First day of rest of bloglife


Now sober. Am also getting used to the fact that I have readers.

Strangely, knowing people are reading has given me a bit of writers' block. So I've had to have one of those having-a-stern-word-with-myself type moments. Get-a-grip. Stop-being-silly. Snap-out-of-it. Pull-your-finger-out. You know the kind of thing. So, continue ranting on about nothing in particular.

I was talking the other day about karma. For me, this is nothing more than a literary* device to make weak jokes about bad luck. I don't believe in karma, or anything else inexplicable really. But you have to wonder, do you not, about the fact that not only was I tied up working all day when all I wanted to do was come on here and go through all the comments, but then when I got back all the adsl cabling in the house was shot to buggery and the nice man couldn't come and fix it until Saturday so that was another day missed and and and.

Still, Andy, the nice telephone cabling chap has come and sorted out all the spaghetti, so, two birds with one stone and all that, not only is the computer now going to be more reliable (touch wood) but the LOML is happy because there are far fewer cables slithering around the skirting boards, and the telephone will be able to go comfortably on the coffee table in the New Living Room** without stretching the cables. Andy is a rare find, with whom I am delighted. He is conscientious, perfectionist, neat, tidy and punctual. He's going to come back and sort out the co-axial nightmare of relocating my telly eight feet across the room (qv this blog, previously).

So, have now soberly looked through the comments and in my replies may have pissed off the odd anonymous commenter. I got told off for it as well. I may have got Mr Anonymous mixed up with Ms Anonymous at some point. Ach well, whatever. Have a site of your own and then we'll see. But do keep commenting., anonymously or otherwise. I reserve the right to slag off anonymous commenters when I'm a bit pissed, though.

Quick diary type stuff, just for completeness: the work thing I went to was a get-together of my trade organisation in the Midlands. Vociferous, informative, networky thing. I came away (a) enthused with new ideas and energy to get out there and get the work and then do it efficiently and competently (stop laughing at the back. Pete, particularly. When you rang this morning already on the M25 I wasn't dressed, you know. You work too hard, I don't: I am right and you are wrong ;-). I have already had a meeting today; I've not just sat around doing this all morning); and (b) confident and satisfied that both my talent and my working practices are as good and robust as anyone's and better than most. Which is always good.

Worse news is that the crisismobile, respendent with no less than three new tyres (ulp; there goes the bank balance), also now has a split driveshaft gaiter. Oh well, it needs a service soon anyway. It's only money, eh.

Oh yes, I was supposed to be Enthused wasn't I? Keen to get on and do the work. Best go and do that then.

Lunch first? If you insist.

*Note to self: be very careful before in any way comparing this to literature.
**Not really New, more of your Rearranged, but it feels new to me.

now listen, I could go through my diary and work out how many, but I've gone and mentioned lunch now and my tummy's rumbling, so I'll work it out later. Tomorrow's later, isn't it?

February 12, 2006

Never rains but ..

Just as I find out that I have readers, bless you all, I have to go out all day to a work thing. And then I get back, and the internet connection is down. And I try and mend it, but can't. It's all gone to bollocks and needs fixing by a professional. So I am still detached. Such is karma, perhaps.

So, a nice man called Andy has been round and replaced chunks of my ADSL cabling (is that what it's called? I'm such a Luddite). And now I'm back, finally.

Trouble is, it's gone midnight now and I'm more than a little drunk. So, now that I have the opportunity, finally, to talk to all you nice people who were out there all along, just I didn't know it, I'm far too incapacitated to make any sense.

I worry about my karma, I really do. Constantly receiving kicks in the teeth can't bode well for my afterlife. Hopefully, hopefully, some sense at some point tomorrow. Perhaps.

February 08, 2006

Total. And. Utter. Knob.

*adopts poor imitation accent of wossname from Friends, the one that's not Joey or Ross*

'Oh. My. God.'

*stops accent as it's a pretty piss-poor effort, to be honest.

Everybody, everybody, I am so sorry. I have been a total, total arse.

Until this evening, can you believe it, I had no idea that anyone had ever bothered to comment on my blog. All of your best witty, scathing, kind, encouraging, welcoming, sarcastic comments were sitting in the 'awaiting verification' box, and I had no idea they were there.

Surly gurl, bless her bothered to send me an email on my recently-opened address to point out I might have the settings wrong. Duh. Did I ever. Profound thanks (and I've sent you an email saying so again).

You can imagine that I was getting a bit worried that I couldn't, in fact, write for toffee. I mean, Flash Pete always laughed but he only ever seems to have time to read it at my house, so he doesn't leave comments -unless he's Mr Anonymous. I've been writing away for my own amusement, really, hoping that people were reading but just a bit shy. So, imagine a little further if you will my surprise and delight when I found no less than 52 comments awaiting my attention. I'll maybe try and go through the archive and reply wittily to the comments when I get a chance, even if it's a bit out of date now.

Wouldn't you just know it, tomorrow I'm out all day for the first time in ages so can't spend the time I want to on my new favourite place in the whole world (with the possible exception of my bed).

And just before we get too touchy-feely-weepy, the anonymous person that put '1 reedy voices in the wilderness isn't good grammar' can:
(a) tell me how to do the html so that it adjusts itself when there's only 1 comment; or (more likely)
(b) fuck right off.

So, thank you all for persevering and my apologies to you all for being such an IT-Luddite arse.

as many as there were this morning, it's not midnight yet.

Car trouble.

Duh. I've got a puncture. Arse. I'm going to have to spend a proportion of my morning lying in the road getting wet and muddy changing it. Bollocks.

There's no getting away from it. It's one of those jobs that you have to just get on with. No point moaning.


*Takes deep breath. Forces a smile*.

Could have been worse, I suppose. Let's look on the bright side:

It's not actually raining at the moment;

I recall thinking last night on the motorway that the tracking needed doing, so I guess it was already going down then. I'm glad it didn't decide to let go suddenly - a high-speed front wheel blow-out I can do without;

It'll probably only take half an hour or so;

There was a space in the parking area right outside the house so I've got a flat surface to put the jack on;

The tyre was on its tread wear limit so I needed a new one anyway;

The tracking does need checking so I can get that done when I go to the tyre place;

I wasn't going out this morning anyway, so I don't need to do it in a hurry, and / or phone clients to postpone appointments.

Ok. Good.

I'm almost looking forward to it now. See, everyone, how you can turn a complete pain in the arse into a not-too-bad-after-all-never-mind occasion with a bit of blessings-counting and positive thinking?

Note to self: must make sure the LOML reads, digests, and acts upon this strategy in future.

*Looks out window, and observes a family of pigs flying across a blue moon.*

81. I think.

February 07, 2006


Child Two has the lurgy. It's gone round school so much that they have even sent a letter home about it, saying that, uh, there's a lurgy going round school. Year 3 have got twelve children off, I am told in breathless excitement. We haven't had so much drama in school since the portakabin lorry took the top out of the neighbour's tree delivering the new Year 5 classroom.

Child Two is normally a robust and optomistic little girl. To see her pale and tired and coughing herself sick is not a pleasant experience for any parent. We did all the damp towels on the radiator, cough medicine, Calpol-y things, but still she couldn't settle. Eventually, last night, we told her that she wouldn't have to go to school today: just to stop her worrying about it and in the hope that this would help her finally to get to sleep. It worked after a fashion, and she did sleep, more or less, for the rest of the night. She slept through the rest of us getting up this morning, so we left her, curled up warm under her soft duvet with her rabbit teddy, sucking her fingers (her own, not the rabbit's. Rabbits don't have fingers).

When she eventually awoke at about school time, she seemed quite resigned to be not going, and actually ate quite a lot of breakfast in bed for a poorly seven year old. Demanded biscuits, more juice and hot blackcurrent, in fact. Asked questions about what was on Nickleodeon and Pop at this time of day.

It's now coffee time *thump*, I'm trying to work *thump*, and she's *thump* doing gymnastics on my *thump* bed.

crisis will happen in one day less than yesterday, however many that was

February 06, 2006

Odd-shaped balls.

I go to the rugby! 30-odd of us go to see mighty England trounce the hapless Wales! Sadly, not the 6 Nations dicking at Twickers, but the under 21s at Worcester's ground, Sixways. And the trouncing was more of your 21-18. Still, a win's a win.

No-nickname-yet Ed has organises a box to watch the game from - so much better than mixing with the proles in the stand. He has some business clients coming, so best to entertain them in the corporate-stylee to which they are no doubt accustomed. The rest of us are just freeloading.

Ed's clients ring to say sorry they're late, they have been lost, but the taxi driver is now confident that he knows where he is going and they'll be there in ten minutes. I happen to be standing beside him during this conversation.

'Fine, all right. We'll see you in ten minutes. The food's just here, so you'll be just in time. Bye.'

Ed then does a comedy double take; food, telephone, food, telephone ... 'Ohmyfuckinggod, they're Jewish. They're only fucking Jewish. Where's the catering manager? For fuck's sake.' And exit Ed, at a high rate of knots. We all look at the food. Sausages, in onion gravy. Pork ones, naturally.

The Typecast Landlord is along, with Mrs Typecast Landlord. They are not big rugby fans, indeed have never been to a game. Mrs TL asks for explanations. I oblige: it's a maul if the players are all still on their feet and the ball's not on the floor like now ... now it's a ruck, they've got to stay on their feet and not handle the ball now or it's a penalty.

Mumbling Nige and Tony Bloke guffaw loudly at this, and Nige reminds me that I should follow my own advice the next day while playing for the seconds. I do have a bit of a reputation for, ah, borderline legality at the ruck. I am saved by the arrival of the England sub, delighting in the name of Topsy Ojo. He takes a pass, gets tackled, and spills the ball. Someone observes that it's all gone Topsy turvy, and the conversation fortunately moves away from my deficiencies.

What with having the TL along, we don't really need the extended licensing laws legislation when we weave back into the Posh Pub at about closing time. He shuts the curtains onto the street, slips effortlessly behind the bar and time in the world outside ceases to have any meaning.

We lost fifty-odd to twelve the next day. I nearly scored but didn't. Our performance really was nothing to do with the fact that half the scrum was at the England match, at all.

And I got an (accidental) kick in the bollocks that I can still feel this morning.

Move on.

83 days, is it? I can't add up. About that, in there, anyway.

February 03, 2006

Grumpy and ranting

I'm extremely grumpy this morning, largely because I've been losing at poker. I won't go on and on about poker, because that's very boring for anyone that doesn't play, but rest assured that I have been vastly, hugely unlucky over the last week or so. And before you say, I know everyone always says 'I was really unlucky' to cover bad play, but I have the records to prove it - getting all my money in when I'm 4:1 favourite, and losing to the 20% shot, time and again. I reckon I've lost 17 out of 21 times when the chances were in my favour, often heavily so. My bankroll has gone from healthy to nearly disappeared, and I'm grumpy.

Diary stuff isn't interesting: went to my meetings yesterday, they were fine, I've got loads of work I should be doing but can't motivate myself, whatever.

Best thing when feeling grumpy is to have a rant: watched that programme with the fragrant Kathy Sykes (Professor Kathy to you) examining alternative healing from a rigorously scientific viewpoint. This week, faith healing, spiritualism, that sort of thing.

She made a very convincing case for the efficacy of placebos. There is loads of experimental research into this, including a surgeon in the states who treats patients with chronically arthritic knees. Half his patients have a very believable fake operation, which includes being anaesthetised and opened up but nothing else, and the other half have the full standard procedure. Afterwards, he asks them all whether they think they were operated on or not - and all of them thought they were. Apparently just the expectation of some sort of treatment is enough for the brain to release dopamines or something, which in themselves do cause wellbeing and confidence. And they do genuinely feel better and in less pain.

One experiment which made me laugh was debunking a spiritual healer. An academic hired an actor to learn to mimic exactly the spiritual healer's actions and words, and then treat patients just as he did. You know, arranging crystals and laying on hands and such. And afterwards, the spiritual healer's patients reported slightly less improvement than the actor's. Hahahaha. And the clincher? Most of the actor's 'patients' couldn't believe that they hadn't been spiritually healed in some way, such was their perceived improvement, so they rationalised it ... and decided that the actor must have hereto undiscovered spiritual healing powers.

For fuck's sake.

Kathy, probably wisely, declined to comment.

OK. Feel a bit better now. [/soapbox ]. Move on.

oh yeah, nearly forgot. 87 days.

February 02, 2006

No time ...

Going to see a new client this morning so no time for long post. Going to see old (read: both existing, and elderly) client this afternoon so no time for any post at all really. Two meetings to prepare for and all that. So should stop blogging, really. And prepare. For my meetings. Any time now would be good.

I'll just get a coffee first.

oh yeah, nearly forgot, 88 days to crisis and counting. I think. I can never work it out. I'll have to write down the numbers every day in my diary or something. Unless that's sad, is it? It's not even as if it's my first life crisis or anything, I already had the big give-up-you-job-and-do-something-else-altogether-for-a-living-one. This is just a number. Oh good, that's another 5 minutes nearer my meetings and I still haven't done anything. All right, I'm going now.

February 01, 2006

Spring fever

The LOML has an unhealthily zealous light in her eye. I am trying to watch the telly; she is decorating. At half past ten at night. With the stepladder in the way of the William Hill Poker Tournament on Sky Sports.

'Why are you doing that now? Come and sit down.'

'Because I've got time now, and I enjoy it, and I don't want to watch poker.'

That's three reasons, none of which I have a refutation for. She's decided that the room doesn't bear comparison with a new sofa, and it will have to shape up. The fireplace wall (pic last week some time, can't be bothered to put up the link, look in the archive if you're bothered) is now gold. Not just dark yellow, but a weird sort of metallic goldy effect. I quite like it, actually. It needs another coat or two, but I can see the idea.

She gets these zealous moments occasionally. At Christmas it was the juicer: I'm sure I mentioned this at the time. We had juice 24/7. But then, inevitably, interest waned - I suspect largely because it's a bit of a git to clean. I still quite like the juicer. I used it this morning, primarily so I can say I have in this blog this morning. Nobody else has used it for about three weeks; it's just sitting next to the kettle. I wipe it, occasionally.

Still, at least the zealous episode this time is giving us a shiny newly-painted living room, ready for the new sofa / chair / footstool. Which is good. Even if in the process the current sofa has had to be moved so close to the telly that you get cross eyed and headachy watching the poker.