Friday, August 28, 2009

my wasteline

Do calories count if you don’t tell anyone that you’ve had them? I’ve always been sure that it’s OK to break diet as long as you don’t admit it to anyone - including yourself, but I’m beginning to think I may have been mislead about it.

I can’t remember when I started dieting. It feels like I’ve been doing it for ever. Whilst away at sea with the Navy in my Twenty’s I was trying to reduce food and run round the deck. I wasn’t doing this because I wanted to be in peak fitness for the Military (as I ought to have been doing), but because even then I knew I had a battle on my hands. The battle of my waistline seems to have been raging on for as long as the battle of my hairline and that is not good news for someone that still thinks he is sexy; clearly I’m right it’s just that the media have set false expectations to the world’s women about what they should be looking for in a man.

It’s not so easy for a man to look good anyway, well not without feeling like a complete pillock anyway. We have to put up with our natural skin condition and hair and the only thing that we can do is exercise in the hope of keeping a decent shape. Women can hide behind moisturisers, make up, hair dyes, hair extensions, fat pants and Wonderbras! According to Gok even the flabbiest mingers can strut on down in lingerie if they’ve had ½ inch of make up plastered on their face and a cut and blow dry; two weeks walking about in the right shape top and fitted skirts can apparently turn Susan Boyle into Nigella Lawson (they really wanted a boy didn’t they?). Meanwhile, men get told to cut out the pizza’s stop tucking T shirts into jeans and that’s our lot!

So there we are unfortunately we have what we are born with and that’s it. The only thing we can do is try not to balls it up. Sadly in my case I’ve spent so many years feeling sorry for myself because of an unavoidable loss of hair that I’ve failed to properly take charge of the one thing that I really can do something about. There are no excuses, I’m not big boned. I don’t think my metabolism is any slower than Brad Pitt’s and I know for a fact that I’m better in bed than him (though Jennifer was still bitter about him at the time so probably shouldn’t be trusted). So if I’ve no excuses what’s going on?

It’s not rocket science – I eat too much tasty but rubbish food and don’t exercise enough. FULL STOP. Too many calories in and not enough out = fat, end of story. This is why I have to review my basic idea that secret calories don’t count. The theory is that if I sneak out under the pretence that I’m going for a walk, and actually tell myself that this is what I’m doing, then I can walk to McDonalds. If I remind myself that a chicken burger is just chicken with a bit of salad between a small bread bun, then I can easily assure myself that a McChicken burger is actually quite healthy and is therefore fine. Milk is healthy, every one knows that, and potato can’t be that bad can it? Hide yourself downstairs and swiftly tuck into the McChicken burger fries and milkshake before your head works out what’s going on and then back out walking the long way back to the office.

Taking the long route back to the office helps to cover up the incident in your mind. The belief that you have actually been on a nice walk can take a better hold and seem more convincing. Work colleagues don’t know about the calories, your wife doesn’t know and the front part of your brain isn’t totally sure about them either so how does your stomach get wind of it? Why is it that my trousers know about my secret lunch when as far as I’m concerned it never happened?

Taking the long route back to the office also serves a second purpose as it gives you chance to cover up disasters. Carefully banging your nose on the wall can bring on a useful nose bleed to cover up ketchup stains on your shirt. Popping in Tescos to buy some chewing gum covers up BBQ sauce breath nicely. Lastly it gives you time to finish the thick milkshake.

It’s no use, I’ve re read this and decided that it definitely doesn’t work, secret calories DO count. What else is there to try? If I eat two chocolates at exactly the same time does my body only think it’s had one?...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dunlivin' Retirement Home

Bob sat alone and hungry, it was already 9 O’clock and still there was no sign of breakfast, though the empty bowl on the table next to him suggested that it had already been and gone. At 88, Bob was one of the youngest residents at the Dunlivin’ Retirement Home in Lincoln. Robert William Smith had only been here a few months but already felt very settled, but was wondering if he’d ever find love again since losing Ethel 2 years previously in a woefully ill advised charity bungee jump.

Old eyes shut in what felt like a blink, but when they opened again they opened to a vision. In the chair next to Bob was an absolute stunner, he couldn’t believe his luck. “Hello young lady,” Bob’s eager & loud opening gambit being heard by most of the staff in the building but no body else. “I say Hello young lady!” the shout accompanied by a prod on her shoulder did the trick. A shrill whistle sounded as a deft turn of a hearing aid switch kicked it into life.

“Hello?” She sounded unsure as to who had spoken first.
“Hello young lady – are you here to visit your Mum?” Bob still had it, he’d been quite smooth in his day, 15 years in the Navy had taught him a lot of good lines, but luckily he’d forgotten those and relied on the ones he’d learnt since he’d left nowadays instead.

“ Oh you are a one! I’m not here visiting, I live here – It’s really nice, they do a lovely breakfast, have you had the breakfast? I wonder what the breakfast is like? I’m Mavis there’s nothing wrong with me!”

“Oh Mavis – what a lovely name, I used to have a dog called Tinker you know, you look beautiful in that dressing gown, I wonder – would you like to join me for Bingo after lunch?”

“Smashing!”

With this Mavis fell asleep and dreamt of being swept off her feet by a debonair ex military bingo caller.

The rush of excitement was buzzing in Bob’s room as he put on his best blazer and gave his medal a final polish. He looked into the mirror and tried to remember the last time he’d felt like this, then he tried to remember when he’d last had a cup of tea. Once his teeth were nice and clean and fresh he put them back in and set off at full pace down the corridor, his Zimmer frame a blur.

He settled into some fine small talk as they waited for the game to start. The circle of chairs set around the edge of the room were worn and smelled of Detol but that didn’t matter. The sexual tension increased as Bob enthralled Mavis with his daring exploits as a Naval Diver and of the time he met the Queen. Mavis in return talked extensively about when she was a ‘Land Girl’ working on the farms Mostly they spoke at the same time as each other but this didn’t stop the interest levels rising.

Bob tried his hardest to look manly as he crossed off numbers on his sheet, he couldn’t really hear the numbers being shouted out and so had to keep having sneaky looks at Maureen’s sheet on his left and then copying hers. Meanwhile what was Mavis doing? Was that flirting? Mavis kept sucking her big fat marker pen between shouts, occasionally looking over and smiling. Bob has been out of the game for a long time but he felt sure he remembered what that body language meant! When Joan won the house ( as usual) they didn’t care – they barely even noticed, the only two people in the room who didn’t. Joan’s amazing ability to win every game had been quite a talking point. Most people still held the belief that Joan had been sleeping with young Derek the bingo caller.

The evening meal was a blur, Bob had said that it would be an honour if Mavis would join him for a roast and after he’d carefully re-worded the request she had agreed. During the meal they shouted sweet nothings to each other occasionally stopping to chew something. In no time at all Bob was walking Mavis to her room; her wheelchair easily replacing his walking frame. At the door there was an uncomfortable silence until Mavis finally in low sexy tones looked our man in the eye and made her move. “I suppose you’ll have to come in then?” she seductively asked.

The sex was passionate but quick, so quick in fact that technically only one of them had it, but this did not matter. In no time at all Mavis was pulling on that sexy dressing gown that had so caught Bob’s attention all those hours ago and telling him to leave. Mavis was way past the age where she needed to be losing good sleep to some man snoring in her bed. They both stood and smiled and said how they couldn’t wait for the next day to arrive so they could see each other again.

The next day Bob sat alone and hungry, it was already 9 O’clock and still there was no sign of breakfast, though the empty bowl on the table next to him suggested that it had already been and gone. At 88, Bob was one of the youngest residents at the Dunlivin’ Retirement Home in Lincoln. Robert William Smith had only been here a few months but already felt very settled, but was wondering if he’d ever find love again since losing Ethel 2 years previously in a woefully ill advised charity bungee jump…

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Gym

It’s August and I started going to the gym yesterday. Actually it’s the same gym I joined in January. I’m a serial gym joiner.

I have good intentions; I really do want to be healthy. Every time I start going to a gym I know that this time it’s going to work. This time I’m going to keep going. Unfortunately I’ve spent so many years being ‘comfortable with my size’; using it as part of my shield of comedy to engage with people that I struggle with knowing how to be anything else. I force myself to go to the gym and make a start. I plan a million different types of diet to ensure that I’m not going hungry but still losing some weight. I tell myself day and night that I want to do this rather than just needing to. It never sinks in though. I have to remind myself these things every few minutes and that makes me depressed because it’s on my mind so much. When I get depressed I rebel. I hunt out anything on my do not have list and have two of them. I’ll attack a ridiculous breakfast after a week of eating healthy, not because I’m hungry or even because I fancy it. I do it to shut myself up about not eating it. I am most definitely rubbish at being good to myself.

It’s self destructive but I can’t seem to get away from it. I was actually enjoying the gym earlier this year; I’d gone past the point of sitting on the exercise bike for 5 minutes ambling along like I was on a summer picnic and then retiring to the “juice bar” to watch everyone else still working, enthralling my peers with tails of endurance and speed. For the first time in a long career of joining gyms ( I think I’ve joined a total 6 different gyms and used them for a max combined total of 4 months) I actually was feeling the difference, I genuinely started to ‘get it’. It took no time at all to break that spell though. A couple of weeks of not being able to get there through illness combined with a week of not getting chance to go through work commitments and I was broken. Suddenly I was not going back. Suddenly the diet was not important and I began hunting out lard again. I was back on the bacon.

Unfortunately, I really do want to change my ways, I really do need to change them. So I’m afraid I’m going to have to go back to being a gym bore. I don’t seem to have an in-between. Maybe this time I really will find a way of coping. I’ll find a way of being healthy without being obsessed, making me able to feel like I’m still me but without the lard. Surely it’s possible to be happy without the excess weight? Admittedly there is one drawback I’ll either have to wear my big clothes all the time with a belt or else risk sending Jo out to the shops unescorted to fetch some new trousers. I do have this blog to occupy my mind now – something that is just for me so maybe if I can still focus on this then I can just get healthy on the side, rather than have it on my mind for 24 hours a day. One day I will be able to conquer my lard addiction, but then again maybe I won’t. Perhaps I’m like an alcoholic and for the rest of my life one pizza will always be one too many.

Any way – wish me luck because I’m off the bacon and back on the treadmill.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cyberspace & the Blogosphere

This cyberspace place is a funny old world. A month ago I decided to start writing, I’d always fancied having a go at it and finally gave in to the fantasy and gave it a go. I have to say I’m really pleased that I did. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that I could maybe learn as I went too. I’m not good enough to, or have the slightest idea how to write a book. I’m not interested in anything enough to write about a particular subject in any real depth so what could I do to practice?

Then I found these blogs. Somewhere you could jot down your thoughts in a private manner but let other people critique them almost instantly. At best there is even the dream of making some spare cash from it – actually earning money from your random thoughts. As most Bloggers know the money doesn’t exactly cut it. Brilliant though the idea of selling advertising space on a piece of writing about towing a car may be, the reality is that most people just read the posts and move on. On a blog like mine with a small amount of readers the tiny fraction made from advertising will never even get high enough to merit the mighty Google from getting their cheque book out. Even on much more focussed blogs with readership in the thousands, revenue is still no way near enough to live on. I’m afraid it’s only going to be pocket money apart from the real top of the tree sites.

What has struck me the most on this quest though, has been the fact that I haven’t really been able to hone my skills as a writer, because I’ve been too busy trying to work out cyberspace etiquette. I’ve had some really nice comments about some of my posts which have been great, & I hope to get more. In fact it’s quite hard to get useful feedback; notes that will help locate and improve on a style of writing, and the different hoops in which you need to jump in order to get some are mind blogging. Joining forums, reading article after article on things you have little or no interest in. You bore your friends rigid and struggle hopelessly to learn HTML when all you wanted to do was write stories.

Here I am now ranting about how hard it is to learn the rules of the World Wide Web because instead of doing what I enjoy (writing some light hearted - hopefully funny – piece about the life I see around me) I’ve had another fruitless hour desperately trying to figure out how to get some extra traffic onto my site in the hope that they will :-
A: Like my posts enough to subscribe or follow me and hence come back.
B: Leave a tick in the boxes to let me know if my post was on the right track.
C: Leave a comment – hopefully of praise but at least of useful criticism.
D. Buy something from Amazon!

So I think that is decision made, I’m going to stop putting as much thought into the design of the page. Stop worrying about pasting back-links all over the blogosphere and just write stuff instead.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Geocaching

Recently we have been trying Geocaching. My wife was invited to go with a friend who had all the kit and knew what they were doing earlier in the year. They went off and had a lovely time, found the cache and all had a nice walk in the country to boot.
You’ll have guessed that it hasn’t been so idealistic on our own attempts though.

Geocaching is something that I’d never heard of until Jo came home to tell me what they had done; it is a web based treasure hunt basically. Users have set up stashes of stuff all over the country (and the world) and then you are given longitude and latitude coordinates in order to help you find them. Most people then have a hand held GPS device into which you pump the coordinates. The device then simply gives you a compass like arrow that points to the coordinates. People then trudge through the countryside following the arrow until they hit the spot. Some searching through the bushes and then hopefully you find the cache. This can be a purpose built box, and old Tupperware box or a film canister or anything.

In some will be some treasure that you can keep, in others simply a log for you to write a message into and read other peoples logs too. Some boxes have travel bugs in them; a little thing with a code on it. You pump the code into the website to say where you have found it and then you put it into a box somewhere else. This means that the items travel is documented on the website and people can track its journey. Some people specifically hunt out and chase the bugs.

I have to say I’m still to be fully convinced about it all. I struggle to get very excited about it and when I was told about it I didn’t think it was for me at all. The idea though is sound. A family has an ideal excuse to get out in the fresh air and go for a walk, the treasure hunt aspect adding a bit of excitement to help get the kids to join in and not notice that they are being healthy. At least that’s the idea.

Of course, whilst we are trialling the idea I’ve been using my car satnav instead of forking out for a proper walking GPS. As I have proven, it works just fine and the cache is marked just as successfully. However, being an expensive bit of kit not designed for carrying about and with a touch sensitive screen, there is no way on Earth I’m letting my two little ninjas hold it.

The upshot of not letting the boys get involved with the hunt side of the operation is that they couldn’t care les about it. They know full well that they are actually on a walk and instantly start moaning and fighting the moment the car is out of sight. And so Jo and I try desperately to get them excited about it all with discussions and pointing out the lovely plants etc. but they just look at us like we are insane.

The first solo hunt we went on went unfound and two disgruntled boys who’d been made to walk about some fields for an hour whilst their father confidently walked round in circles trying to work out why his satnav isn’t telling him which path to follow, went home without any treasure. The next time we did find it in the end but only after I’d had to go back and fetch the car so that the satnav could be recharged; the battery had gone dead after a monumental cock-up on the planning stage.

All in all I’m still not certain that it’s for me but I think that when the boys can direct the chase with a GPS they can hold it will be better. I’ll keep you posted on that though because I reckon I’ll only be buying one GPS and I have two boys that think sharing is illegal, it’s going to get violent I can tell.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The 2012 Olympics

The Olympics are coming – I’ve just been reminded. With over two years to go I’ve already started thing about the potential for making some extra cash.

There must be some scam I can pull. I don’t live in London but I do work there and with an easy commute. Surly there’s something I can do.

My first idea is that perhaps there’s a way I can rent out my desk in the office and then work from home. Maybe some high flying exec from New York wants to see some swimming. He can work at my desk through the day and then pop over to the swimming pool in the evening to watch the action. I reckon Prime London Office space must pay a premium, what do you think it’s worth £50 per day?

Better still I can add in some extra charge and supply him with a pillow so he can sleep under the desk too, we have a shower in the building and I’ve tested the practicality of this option after a few beers so I know it works; An extra £50 per night surely? Two weeks Olympics and that’s £1400 in my back sky pocket! I may have to practice my Cockney Rhyming slang though if I’m going to properly scam the Americans! Bed and Office space available for the Olympics with tea and coffee facilities (in near by Starbucks) £100 per day.

What I could also do is put together some corporate packages. That can’t be hard. I’d sort everything out except the tickets. The lucky punter would be able to park their car almost securely on my drive, then a short walk to the station where they would be able to pick up there complimentary edition of the London Metro paper to read. I’d supply the train & tube ticket and point them in the direction of Stratford. At the end of the day they would be able to return to my house and make use of my tent in the back garden. I’d supply a camping loo and shower facilities (garden hose attached to outside tap). In the morning they’d get continental breakfast and easy access to another day at the games. Surly a package like that must be worth £200 per day!

Or maybe we could have Murray Mount 2 in the back garden. I could charge people £20 to come into the garden every day and I’d invest in a big T.V. which I’d stick on a long extension lead and prop up on the bins or something so the crowds can watch it and feel they are soaking up Olympic Atmosphere! No one would be allowed to bring drinks or food in so we’d clean up in selling squash, strawberries and cream! I see no reason why we wouldn’t make a fortune on this one. As long as the commuters tent is roped off so the Murray Mount guys don’t interfere with it we should be laughing.

I see the Olympics as being a potentially profitable game for me. A few small wrinkles to iron out but I’ll get there!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cats

Some harsh lessons in life were dealt yesterday. My two young boys watched on in disbelief as next doors cat got on with the task of eating it’s catch.

They’ve seen this before and shook their heads in disgust at the idea. They’ve even seen and learnt that cats like to play with their kill as well as eat them. That was funny to watch though as ‘Harry’ tossed the bird into the air and caught it over and over again having a great time. Each time the bird thought it was getting away only to be re taken. The boys were dumbfounded to learn the reality of what cats get up to.

This time though a new twist was added. The bird was part of a pair. The bird had a friend which clearly did not want to loose its mate. For ages the second bird loitered about occasionally trying to swoop at Harry in order to frighten him away. Harry didn’t frighten off though – he continued to play, having the time of his life. This was a real adventure, this was hunting at its most raw. As far as Harry was concerned he was out on the Serengeti hunting down gazelle and buffalo. The cat was now a Lion and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

For ages he taunted the second bird, flipping the first one towards it and then catching it again. Putting the bird down and moving a little as if he was going but then going back and getting it again; occasionally swiping a spare paw towards the free bird. In his head he was a savage hunter and could go on all day.

My boys meanwhile were distraught. The sight of the second bird brought home a little truth about the consequences of death to young minds. They declared that they would “tell” the cat’s owner. Clearly 5 minutes on the naughty step should sort the cat out. You can’t stop a cat being a cat though; millions of years of evolution can’t take the hunter out of it anymore than it can stop me having a hairy back.

My boys have got over it already of course, it’s now just another step on their roads towards being full blown cynics like their Father, bless them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Giving blood

This year I started giving blood. I’ve wanted to do it for years and finally got the chance now that the rules stopping people with ‘controlled’ blood pressure have been relaxed. Most people are of the belief that the nurses working at the donor centres are wonderful people, selflessly dedicating their lives to the vital collection of blood. I know them to be sadistic and sex obsessed; loving every minute of their work.

It is of course a brilliant and difficult job that they do – certainly not one that I could ever do and I absolutely tip my hat to them; but do they have to be so rough? Really after all these years can they really not be a little gentler?

It starts when you get there, you get given a book to read and a form to fill in and pointed to a chair that has been deliberately filed down on one leg in order to make it wonky and uncomfortable. The book reminds you that you are a complete health risk to the entire world as far as they are concerned and if you want them to believe otherwise then you’d better be prepared to go into some serious detail and back it up with signed affidavits from the local vicar.

Then you read the questions.

These people are obsessed with sex. To give blood you aren’t allowed to do anything! They test you on all sorts of different scenarios and you’d better not have done any of them. If you’d done half the things on the list you wouldn’t be able to walk surely? It appears unless you’ve only ever had sex with one person of the opposite gender who coincidentally was a virgin at the time, then you can’t give blood; though I noticed there was no specific bar on people who have been romantically involved with animals, so I was accepted.

Having declared yourself a saint you get taken into a private area where they ask you to repeat the questions while they watch you for poker tells. If you pass the stare test then the nurse asks you to pass her your hand. I assumed she was going to read my palm as another check to see if I was lying on the sex test but no, a vice like grip twisted me down on to the desk whilst she produced a needle from behind her back and jabbed it into my finger. I shouted at her to stop, indicating that perhaps she was not entirely legitimate, but I was ignored. A giant pipette was produced and my hand was drained of blood. I’d have been ok with this but I knew full well that this was only another test, this was not job finished. Yet again I passed the test and with a plaster on my finger and a tear in my eye I was ushered back to my chair. I made sure I jabbed her in the kidneys with my elbow on my way past though – you can’t let these people get away with everything.

Then they make you wait as people walk up and down looking busy and holding odd bits of kit with blood in. In your mind you can hear the ‘Psycho’ theme tune playing and someone is running a metaphorical shower. This is the worst bit – having answered detailed questions about your personal life twice and had some nutter jab a needle into your finger you know you can’t change your mind and leave, but you can’t just get on with it either. The longer you wait the more little details you notice, such as the nurses not wearing gloves or the fact that the bags of blood are getting put into picnic cooler bags, what else is in there – Champagne flutes and Caviar?

Then you are up and lying on a bed someone comes over ties a tourniquet around your arm that hurts like hell and then walks away again. An hour later they return and clean your arm , pressing down with all their might to scrub you clean – after all they know that you are really a sex pest.

Then you see the needle.

Knitting needle.

In it goes with a laugh and a lick of their lips. You are surrounded by women lying around with needles in their arms too so you can’t make a sound or head-butt the nurse but it takes all your self control not to do either. Now you lie back and wait. You keep checking yourself to see if you are drying up. Images of sundried tomatoes come into your mind as you suspect that you have clearly been waiting too long now. Surely if they take any more out they’ll have to put some back in?

Then it’s out and you are done. It’s time for tea and biscuits. First though they have one last evil trick to play. Whilst one distracts you by saying where the custard creams are another comes up and sticks on a plaster 10 cm squared in size and tacked with superglue. You now have less than ten seconds to remove it before it becomes a permanent feature of your arm. What do they do? They set an alarm clock and tell you to stay there for two minutes whilst they watch. They will not tolerate people removing the plaster within a satisfactory sticking time.

I’ve just re read this post and think that it’s just possible that I’ve exaggerated a small amount here and there. Sorry about that. Please do Give blood – it’s very easy, not at all scary, worth while and the nurses are lovely, if a tad firm.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

making a website

Today I’ve discovered how confusing creating a web site is. I thought I’d picked up enough about the world of webbing and HTML through creating this blog. It turns out I haven’t.

I’ve been trying to create a website for another non blog related project and suddenly discovered that there is a massive difference between using a tailor made blog writing programme and actually knowing the first thing about creating websites. Of course I boldly told my wife that it would be no problem and committed myself to getting it up and running in a couple of days. I fear I may have to use the TEXTCUSETM to come up with a decent reason for the failure.

I’ve tried reading the tutorials; I’ve tried randomly pressing buttons. It’s just not sinking in. This is made all the more maddening by the fact that I know that in fact there are so many programs that help and do the work. Anyone you ask who’s done it will tell you so. However, even though there are blind Grandmothers in deepest Peru who have managed to get a website up and running after an hour on a pentium II solar powered UNICEF laptop, I’m afraid I’m going to give up. It’s nonsense and that’s all there is to it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My sports injury

I’ve just sustained my first ever sporting injury. It’s a nightmare that won’t seem to go away. 3 days have passed and still I’m sore round the shoulders, I have no idea if I’m ever going to try boxing again to be honest.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, some light sparring – good manly exercise. My head was safe so I knew I’d not suffer any damage there and my opponent seemed easily beatable. I therefore had no qualms about warming up and getting myself in among it. How was I to know you can wrench your shoulder out by trying to punch too hard? Without even receiving one single punch I walked away in pain. The only consolation being that my wife seems to be suffering the same.

It was all her fault anyway. In the first bout I was taking it easy, enjoying the exercise and novelty of giving Jo an occasional smack without the rigmarole of social services getting involved. But it hadn’t occurred to me how the points rack up. Jo was going for it like she had 11 years of pent up emotional neglect suddenly and explosively to release. And there it was, three rounds later I’d been beaten – by a girl!

Why couldn’t she follow the rules – have a bit of fun playing sport against a man, get a few points to make it interesting and then let him win! It’s not rocket science.

The game was on. The second bout began. There was no longer any room for mistake or friendliness. I had to win this one for the sake of mankind, for downtrodden thumb ruled husbands all over the world. The bell rang.

I ran in wind-milling like a wind turbine in a hurricane. Punch after punch went in; face, body, above and below the belt – my eyes were closed in determination so aiming was irrelevant. Round one went to me and I wheezed a few seconds of breath back. Round two was a draw after Jo got a lucky left hander to my chin when a camera flash distracted me. I was still in the lead but only just.

Round three took about 3 hours. I pummelled, dodged, upper cut, jabbed and switched to South Paw. I did everything I could and then suddenly with only about 20 seconds of the round left over she was down. I had her out and she stayed out. 10 long seconds passed but there was no way she was getting back up. I jumped for joy punching the air with relief – I’d done it. Man was back!

It was the next day – the adrenaline subsided – when I noticed the pain. Realised that there is a reason why top sportsmen do all that training; Spend so long warming up and cooling down. There is a reason why I’m not a sportsman.

Jo was in the same mess and so we resolved just to play Brain Training the next night; leaving the sports games to the kids instead. The WII is an amazing toy and great fun, but if they are going to put games like boxing on there then there should be better warnings or training advice given.

I’m not sure when we are ever gong to try the boxing again, I prefer the tennis anyway. Jo though has stated that there definitely will be a rematch as she is quite competitive. Talking of which she is outside as I type, running up and down the garden with a big log on her shoulders, there is a big group of kids following her singing ‘Eye of the Tiger’.


Should I be worried about this?


Walking With Dinosaurs

I feel like a kid again. Once more I’ve been transported back to the 70’s. In the same way that I’ve already said that going to see Star Trek made me feel like a 6 year old in Lincoln watching Star Wars, Walking with Dinosaurs has made my imagination buzz like a 7 year old.

On Friday we all trekked into London to see the spectacular Walking with Dinosaurs arena show at the O2 Arena. The location itself is impressive enough. From the moment we saw this advertised last year, we knew that this was the right show for us. Essentially they have taken the BBC show with the same name, a documentary from a few years back which used computer animation to do a realistic Wildlife documentary on the dinosaurs. So it was shot and presented as if it was a real camera crew walking about in the past watching their habits etc. in the same way as a modern documentary about Elephants. This concept has now been recreated as a live show for arena venues.

They deliver this with a mixture off small puppets, man size puppets and massive robots. The impressive Raptors run about feeding and fighting with puppeteers inside them mimicking the imagined hunting in packs method of a kill. Then massive ‘life size’ Brachiosaurus loom around the arena floor their heads near the ceiling, ‘eating’ leaves off the trees. No detail spared as the fake leaves disappear down the huge mouths. Tyrannosaurus Rex completes the show with jaw dropping realism roaring directly at you, making you try and hide behind the kids.

The effect on me was to take me back to feeling how I did when I saw shows and films when I was little. This was so well done, so real that you can’t help but be fully transported to the Jurassic period, to almost believe that you are there. You know that you aren’t there; you know they are not real, but you want it to be real, and you feel that it’s real enough to fully immerse yourself in it. That feeling often gets lost as you grow up, but as a kid it’s there a lot. When I watched ‘The Fall Guy’ as a kid on telly I truly believed that Colt Severs was an actual stunt man. When my brother pointed out that the actor used to be the 6 Million Dollar man as well I was gutted. Some of the magic of that show was lost for me and it never came back. Don’t even ask about ‘The Man From Atlantis’. Watching any film or show now doesn’t often take you like that, because our cynical adult heads reminds us that it’s fake. To a 6 or 7 year old however, it’s as real as it can be.

Both my boys were amazed. Jamie not so much as he is just too young, his nerves making him remind himself (and anyone sat next to him) that it’s not real every few seconds in order to take the fear away prevented him from losing himself in it. Daniel and I though were both gone. Mouths open eyes unblinking we watched in awe. I absolutely loved the show but I think I enjoyed feeling like a 7 year old more. No cares, no worries, no stress; Just a stadium full of Dinosaurs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

early mid-life crisis

My first mid-life crisis came when I was just 23 and looking back now at how much fun it was I can’t help looking forward to the next one.

I’d very sensibly had two very standard cars; Ford Orions were cheap dependable and got me there and back to Portsmouth and Plymouth with no issues at all. The problem was they were very boring. Whilst away in the Gulf I started to dream about being exciting. Late night chats with car experts (any man after 4 pints) had started to give me an idea about which way I wanted to go. A couple of kit car magazines later and I was hooked. The decision was made; I was going to hunt out a Midas Gold.

The Midas kits were built in Loughborough I think so I went for a tour and saw the beautifully put together show cars, how great they looked. I pictured myself on Monte Carlo sea front with Claudia Schiffer on one hand and a Pukka pie in the other, a shiny new Midas sunning itself behind me. Of course because I’m just too tight, as stated before when it comes to the crunch of paying for any gadget I will always opt out at the last minute. I also knew that I had the technical car knowledge of a Anglo Saxon ox and so I figured that building one up myself in the traditional manner was not an option. And so it was that I found myself in Bristol, after extensive second hand advert searching. I’d tracked one down, A Midas Gold fully built and ready to go.

Ok so it had a bit of marking on the bonnet where the previous turbo engine had melted it but that was not a problem because it only had a standard Metro engine in it now – right? I was hooked and soon was driving it home. Oh my goodness what a thrill. I’ve never been so happy with any purchase. It was raining so the roof was up but I was still getting a little wet, this was clearly my fault as I’d probably not shut the window properly. As soon as the sun came out the roof came off and I was in Heaven. The Gold is a tiny little two seat soft top. It has headlamps similar to the Frog Eye Sprite and the curves designed by Jack Brabham, it was sexy. Best of all it felt like driving a go kart. It only had a 1 litre metro engine in it but weighing in at about 2 grams the car was amazing to drive. It accelerated fast; it stuck to corners like glue and could achieve awe inspiring speeds well in excess of 50 miles an hour down hill! It didn’t matter that the top speed was not all that high, in a go kart on the M1 at 70MPH I felt like I was Nigel Mansell and I would occasionally burst out laughing.

As it turned out it had been put together by a monkey. Bits kept coming off, or turning out to be extremely dangerous and needing replacing. We had to rip out the petrol filter because it kept clogging, also meaning that the fuel guage stopped working, and I had to take a guess that it was time to refill the small tank after about 180 miles. Doors swung open on tight bends. Window wipers worked when they felt like it. Lights came on or went off to their own preference. The car was a mess. I had to drill holes in the floor because the cockpit kept filling with water when it rained; this simple solution worked a treat.

It’s also safe to say that no women ever understood the pulling power of the car. Oh they were drawn in by the look of it at first, but as soon as they peered in and smelt the damp they generally lost interest; Claudia never phoned. The thing is that all these things never mattered. When I was sat behind the wheel I always smiled. Roof on or off the car was a joy to be in. My Midas was so much fun, I’d smile and just laugh as I drove it, I’ve never felt like that in any car since. Driving it made me feel 17 and that was the thing. I felt like a kid in Hamleys.

I miss that feeling so that’s why I’m looking forward to getting my next crisis. I don’t know what it will be this time, perhaps an old style Mini convertible or a motorbike. I’m not sure what piece of junk I’ll wind up getting but as long as it’s too small to put any children in and it makes me laugh just by turning a corner, I’m in.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Invention

I can’t seem to get to get any backing for my ‘Dragon’s Den’ idea. Nobody seems to believe that it’s a good idea, I’m not sure I’m ever going to raise the capitol I need to get the prototypes made.

Perhaps I’ve so far been pitching to the wrong people, my wife hates it and her brother, sat next to his Sister at the time, didn’t rate it either. Maybe I need to be pitching this idea to a group of men in a pub. It’s a fact that a group of men in a pub are the experts on practically any given subject so if they go for it I’ll know with conviction that I’m right. Nobody knows better than some MIAP (Men In A Pub) how the world ticks or how to resolve the world’s issues so if anyone can help me - they can.

The idea:

The TEXTCUSETM is a revolutionary piece of software that is going to save relationships and marriages across the globe.
Initially it will be on a stand alone blue-tooth device that the owner carries, but will also eventually be part of an application on people’s I-Phones or similar.

TEXTCUSETM will prevent up to a million unnecessary divorces and 4 billion nagging sessions every year; all by keeping the ladies happy thinking that their man is actually thoughtful.

The user simply uses the easy to follow instructions to submit information that TEXTCUSETM uses to smooth out the wrinkles in your life. This data will include names, phone numbers and details of your everyday life. Relevant details about your job, places you go and friends (that are automatically accepted as OK by your partner). Then you add in times that you usually get home on different days. The address of your home and what time you would normally take to get there from work.

Then the magic begins. The information is added to a vast database of preloaded excuses. We monitor your Mobile phone’s GPS position and also monitor inbound texts and calls from predefined numbers. Utilizing voice to text technology we are able to ‘listen in’ on calls to or from the wife, meaning that we can quickly spot when you are heading towards an earache. When TEXTCUSETM works out that you are past the point of getting home on time and are clearly in a non-authorised location (such as a pub) it automatically selects the best plausible excuse for your whereabouts infilling with proper names and places and then automatically texts home for you. At the same time it emails you a more longwinded explanation to your mobile.

As the GPS spots that you are nearing home it rings you to remind you check your email, thus ensuring you are fully clued up with the relevant matching excuse when you arrive home. This simple reminder ensuring that on arrival home you are met with nothing but smiles and a slightly cold tea.

The device will also ensure that no excuse repeats occur as it will remember used excuses.

Later upgrades will allow follow on excuses. These are where the time limitation of the current excuse starts to wear thin and so a second plausible reason why you are now taking longer than you thought is generated, both reasons and a usable link between the two will be emailed to the user.

Also we hope to add a function where the phone’s GPS will be monitored allowing the phone to ring as you are approaching your train stop meaning you are woken up in time to get off; you need never miss your stop again.

Variations will monitor calls to listen for the things we should have noted. “My Mother hasn’t been well she’s going to the Doctors at 2pm” could be casually mentioned in a call from your wife. Don’t panic! TEXTCARETM will note this down then text your wife an hour after the scheduled Doctor’s appointment, and ask how it went. As you approach your front door it texts you and reminds you to ask about it as you walk in. No longer will you be accused of not listening or being thoughtless; TEXTCARETM will ‘hear’ for you and take care of everything.

There are unlimited variations and upgrades that we can add to this, I’m quite excited by it. All I have to do now is keep quiet until I get the patents and then work out how on Earth to do it and then pop down Witherspoons and see if Duncan Bannatyne, James Caan, Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis are in having Curry Thursday.