Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Michael Morpurgo

I’ve just realised that I never actually told you about Michael Morpurgo.

I assume you’ve heard of this particular writer? How about if I say “War Horse”? War Horse is just one of his many brilliant books. Michael writes very grown up books in a manner that makes them ideal for young readers. My 10 year old absolutely loves his work and has a somewhat impressive collection.

To say that Daniel is a little miffed that Spielberg’s War Horse has come out as a 12A has upset him, is a bit of an understatement.


Just before Christmas (yes it has taken me this long to write about it) we went to see a play.

Not a play – a reading.

On Angel Wings – if you haven’t read it – is a lovely little story, based on the birth of Christ. Essentially it’s written from one of the Shepherd’s viewpoints, or more accurately one of their children’s. It is a very ‘nice’ Christmas story.

The reading was at Britain’s ‘National Theatre’ on the Southbank in London, which is an impressive setting for a start. The story was read by Michael Morpurgo himself alongside Virginia McKenna, who, with an impressive long acting career, you might just about remember from Born Free. They would read snippets then sit as a four strong ‘A Capella’ group sang Carols.

It was really lovely.

Daniel was absolutely transfixed as his hero did his thing.

I was fairly miffed because the realisation of just how big the gap is between my own writing skills and an actual genuinely skilled author looks, when you actually open your eyes and read.

It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been so slow to get back into it this year. I certainly haven’t written any fiction for ages and I love writing fiction. I just haven’t got the blind confidence back yet which deludes me into thinking that I’m on a par with these people who write proper stories.

Michael really looked the part of a writer, from his loafers to his scraggy burgundy suit. He joked about at the end to the delight of his audience, and we all left happy and set up for Christmas.

Daniel will never ever forget that evening. I think Jamie may have forgotten it already…

As we walked from the theatre I pointed out that the reading was great but that the Alfresco singers went on a bit. I waited – nothing. So I said it again, this time noting the slightly bored raise of an eyebrow from my wife – so she HAD got it, but was just refusing to laugh for some reason. I tell you this, coming up with ‘Dad jokes’ is a tricky business, some you get right and some just completely fall into thin air.

After the show, we went for a curry before getting a train home. If I have done one thing right with my life it is that I’ve trained my sons to go Indian Restaurants. The Bangalore Express by London Waterloo train station is a fantastic place. It is designed to have a feel of being on a train in India which really makes it different. There are normal tables, but down one side – where we were sat – is a bunk bed style section. You have a table, but next to you is a ladder which goes up to another table above you. Waiters have to climb this ladder to serve the table on top. It’s a gimmick but it works. The feel of the place is vibrant and exotic while the food is beautiful. It certainly is not your standard Indian menu.
The Bangalore Express is certainly not set up as a ‘kids’ restaurant but none the less they were more than welcome and catered for.

It was the perfect end to a fantastic evening. I was so impressed with the show and how my children are the kind of kids who appreciate this kind of thing that I could have cried. I didn’t because I’m not a girl. 

But I could have.

So now I have to get back to writing fiction again, simply because I enjoy it. Also I have to catch up with where I am because it’s nearly February and I’m still talking about Christmas.
Happy New Year.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fishing for Girls

fishing for girls

Now, you are probably wondering why I am posting up photos of utter filth, like the one above.

This picture depicts the horrendous objectification of men that women in our society seem to think is acceptable these days, so why on Earth would I share it with you?

I’ll explain.

My wife showed me this photograph after sitting for some time studying it. In fact, the only reason she showed me it at all, was because she had decided that she couldn’t study it carefully enough on her mobile phone’s small screen and wanted to borrow my laptop instead. Apparently this would make it easier for her to examine it and decide for herself how utterly disgraceful this degrading image truly is.
It still took ten minutes for her to decide.

The source of the photo is unclear, so I can’t credit it – but it has come to my attention via shares of shares of shares on Facebook. The specific group of ladies enjoying this so called sportsman were getting somewhat over excited. Quite a few of them seemed to be wondering what the front would be like. It troubles me to note just how sordid and base women can be when presented with images of this nature. I don’t think men would ever act in this manner. If we saw a photograph of some sportswoman with her bottom out while playing tennis, for a random example, we would shun it immediately in disgust - I should imagine.

The full package appeared to be a hot topic. If the back looks this hot (If you call those tiny, muscly, hairless buttocks hot – which I certainly don’t) just how fantastic would he look if he turned around?


I like to help.

And after about an hour’s Internet based research I think I’ve found the answer.

Ladies – Try not to get too carried away! 


Check out the size of my codpiece

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Driving Miss Crazy

I know what you are thinking. 

You are thinking, “Glen – it’s late in January and you haven’t yet explained to us why it is that men think their driving mistakes are funny, whereas a woman’s mistakes are a stark reminder of how dangerous it is to allow the female gender to take control of a vehicle!”

Well – I’ve some good news for you on that front.

If you pop over to my post at ‘In The Powder Room’ you should find the answer to that very question explained in a very nearly socially acceptable way.

I like to help.

For anyone who (as strange as this may sound to you) wasn’t actually thinking that at all, it may be slightly more of interest for you to hear that the other day I was so busy trying to have a sneaky look at the very nice lady’s bottom walking past me that I completely failed to notice the huge puddle directly beside me on the road.

Or the taxi driving speedily and determinedly towards it.

Karma really can be a complete git sometimes


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Failing Hugo

Popping around the blogiverse recently, at ‘Keep Cate Busy’to be precise, I was reminded about my family’s complete and utter failure to see the movie called Hugo this Christmas.

Having read the book my 10 year old, Daniel was desperate to see this film and reminded us of this at regular intervals. My youngest son, Jamie wasn’t bothered at all about it and much preferred the idea of seeing Alvin and the Chipmonks in Chiprwrecked. So some negotiations took place, however this is not really the problem.

We promised that at some point in the Christmas holidays we would try to go and see these films. Of course, in my naivety, I forgot that to anyone under the age of 20, being told that someone is going to try and do something translates specifically into “They WILL do this”

As it happens, we had quite a packed Christmas. Due to the way things have gone, I haven’t written very much so far this year, so I will try and cover some of it later, especially the bit about Michael Morpurgo. Now, WE know that this is how things go sometimes. We know that the million and one brilliant things we got up to should be what the whole family remembers and smiles about. We know that – but kids don’t. Children just remember the thing they didn’t do.

What I’m saying is that, as the end of the holidays approached, we realised that we hadn’t been to the cinema yet. I say we realised…  What I meant to say is that we were reminded…

My lovely Sister gave us some vouchers for our local cinema for Christmas so, on the very last day of the holiday, we declared that ‘today’ was the day.

What I did next, I may regret for some time. I told the boys.

I told them about the plan that I had hatched; my cunning plan.

Jo would take Daniel to see Hugo, while Jamie and I would see Alvin.


All I had to do now was check the screening times.

Have you ever had that moment when you realise that the promise you just made to a youngster may have been a tad previous?

Hugo, was no longer being shown in our local cinema – at all! Alvin was, but not Hugo. In desperation I hit Google. It took but a moment to search “cinema reading” and only a few more to see that Hugo was still on – in glorious 3D - at an almost identical time to Alvin, that very afternoon. Fantastic – I had saved the day.

So we would go on the train to Reading, watch the movies and then grab some food somewhere nice – lovely. Now, I should point out that tensions around the house weren’t exactly at their best. People were tired and anxious about returning to school. Though they were looking forward to their treat, I wouldn’t say that attitudes were exactly as ‘Disney’ as I’d have hoped.

Still – we headed off.

Arriving in Reading with time to spare, we popped into a shop to buy some wine glasses that were on offer. This did not help the tension at all because my boys are not the best shoppers on the planet, but it was controlled with the reiteration of what was to follow.

We left the shop and Daniel said something surprising. “I like this cinema Dad - it’s a Vue cinema “

“No, Son,” I corrected “It’s a Showcase in Reading.”

“I’m sure it’s a Vue, Dad”

“Heh – heh, let’s hope not Dan or we’re in trouble, because I’ve checked the times for Showcase”

We did laugh.

We walked over the little bridge and looked up.

Showcase Cinema Reading – as it turns out – is quite a distance out of town, whereas Vue is the cinema that we were currently standing in front of.

We went in and headed up the escalators to discover that Hugo was NOT showing. It wasn’t.

Daniel didn’t take it well at all.

Slowly, and very begrudgingly, we compromised at all of us going to see Alvin. He wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about it. We would have to wait an hour, but at least we were going to see a film.
So I queued in what was the most ridiculously long queue ever. The place was busy and these days you can never just buy your tickets at a kiosk – oh no – you have to buy them at the food counter, meaning that you have to wait as everyone slowly chooses their popcorn. So I waited. I had a feeling there should be a machine for if you just wanted tickets, so I asked Jo to go and investigate.

But she just stood there.

Apparently she had just heard some random person moaning about how there WEREN’T any machines anywhere, so she decided that looking for one would be pointless. So she stood there. Not knowing about her overheard conversation, Jo’s refusal to even go and look wound me up a little, but what could I do except queue?

Several days later the tickets were bought and, because we still had a little time left, we headed outside for some air.

That was when I saw the machines.

From here on in it all got a bit Simpsons.

I shouted at Jo. Jo shouted at me. Daniel shouted at me. Jamie shouted at Daniel.

The next twenty minutes weren’t very pleasant.

And then we went to see Chipwrecked without anyone really talking to each other.

Time is a great healer though – especially when it’s spent in the company of chipmonks. By the time the film finished all was pretty much forgiven, and our treat meal was just that – a treat.

Daniel still hasn’t completely forgiven me for the fact that he will probably now have to wait for Hugo to come out on DVD and then it won’t be 3D. Jo still hasn’t totally forgiven me for shouting at her over the ticket machines. Jamie would have quite liked some popcorn, apparently…

So I’ll review Hugo, using the terminology of the young.

Epic Fail.

Alvin was good though!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The maddest idea I've ever had

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. Eventually I was bound to wind up having an idea of my own that doesn’t get vetoed by my wife.

Which is a shame really because she really should have vetoed this one…

In April, my brother-in-law will be running the London Marathon which is, of course, insane. Paul has run this race once before, back when my ten year old son was still in a pushchair and slept during the day. He vowed never to try it again.

Paul never was very good with promises.

I’m in awe of people who run this race. Every year I sit glued to the TV, nibbling on a pie in amazement. People with the most unbelievable stories are there overcoming horrendous struggles to wind up running for twenty-six miles. Others aren’t content with just running that far, they also have to dress like a hippo or hop backwards. People are incredible.

Meanwhile, I can’t even jog faster than treacle runs downhill for more than two minutes.
In order to secure his place, Paul is running to raise money for the CF Trust, which is a very well-known charity in our lives. If your life has never come across Cystic Fibrosis in any way at all then you can consider yourself very lucky indeed. This genetic disease not only kills people at a very young age, but it first of all makes them suffer.

CF attacks the lungs, filling them with mucus. It also causes a whole host of other problems leaving sufferers weakened and breathless, yet they seem to become some of the strongest people you can know – because they have to be. Getting your lungs pumped out on a daily basis, while living with the knowledge that you will be very lucky to live past your thirties, kind of forces you to be strong.

My friend Anthony had it. We were classmates at school. I can’t remember anyone at school who was happier, or more fun to be around than Anthony. Nobody complained less. Nobody smiled more. And yet he could barely talk some days. He could never run anywhere and mucus had to be painfully pumped out of his lungs every day, but his would be the first grin that you would notice in the mornings.

Anthony died while still in his Teens.

My wife’s cousin – who is the reason Paul has chosen this charity - was an incredible woman. From the very first ‘family’ get together I attended with my wife, Cheryl stood out. She would be the centre of the fun. The only clue you ever got for the suffering she endured would be the occasional wheeze. Meanwhile Cheryl defied convention by doing exactly what the doctors told her not to do. She had not one, but two children. One ‘should’ have killed her – it didn’t.

The next thing Cheryl did was to live. And Cheryl lived well with her family. Sadly, we lost Cheryl two years ago at the incredible age of 45 – a seriously impressive age for a CF sufferer.

So Paul is running the marathon and to do so he needs to raise money for the CF Trust which is where I come in. I figure it’s time I got off my backside and did something too.

I’m not running the marathon and I’m not sitting in a bath of beans, or climbing Everest dressed as a polar bear, but I am going to try something that in my current physical state of disrepair and neglect seems impossible.

Not impossible for you I should imagine, but trust me when I say that it scares the willies off me. I may have failed to run more than one single Kilometre only a couple of weeks ago, but I’m going to run 10 of them in April.

Here and now I do declare that on April 12th I intend running 10K (over 6 miles) across London. This means I have three months to go from the jelly belly mess that I am today into exactly the kind of person that I’ve been avoiding all these years – a healthy one.

I have not run further than 2 miles since I was 19, some 21 years ago. I sit here now and shake at the thought of it. However, deep in my brain I know that it is realistically possible. People run marathons; people do so much more than this with a million better reasons as to why they shouldn’t be able to do it than ‘just because they like pizza too much’.

But it is daunting and it most certainly is going to challenge me in a way that I have not been challenged since I joined the military.

I will be starting my training now, and will of course be updating my progress right here. Also (as you’ve probably guessed) I’ll be begging for sponsorship. Hey things are tight at the mo – I expect nothing, especially from anyone who has already supported me in the Movember scheme, so please don’t feel pressured. Just come here and read without shame. As the days go by I will also be giving details of the route and of where the finish line is (cunningly next to a pub near a handy train / tube line as it happens) so if you just happen to be in the area…    Why not?  Want to join me on the run or just mill about in the pub next to the finish line? All proceeds of sponsorship are to go to the CF Trust VIA Paul’s Marathon donation page – to clarify, the reason for this is simply to apply these funds towards his target but ALL the money does go to the Cystic Fibrosis charity directly from the Virgin donation page.

The run is not an officially organised race, it’s being planned by me but I intend being as open as possible. I have two fitness types who have agreed to run with me and validate the distance, though I am trying to get more runners – the more the merrier, mainly for the whip in the pub afterwards if I’m honest.

So do you live around London? Want to see the sweatiest man in London crawling towards the heart of the City? If it helps, my two fitness types are worth seeing – their moobs are actual muscle and are called Pecs apparently, so they don’t need a bra for them like I do.

Glen’s Life CF 10K – coming soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The New Year brings crazy ideas..

The birds looked at each other and almost fell off their perches laughing.

Children frowned as worried Mums ushered them swiftly out of the way.

Men shook their heads in despair at the sight slowly lumbering towards them. They had to wait quite a while. Actually they had to wait ages.

It was New Year’s Day. It was cold. It was the day I never really believed would come.

January the 1st 2012 – the day we went for a ‘family’ run.

What were we thinking?

Still drunk from the success of December’s Santa Run where I, for one, had coughed and wheezed my way around 2 miles of Oxford streets by running slower than your Nan walks, we decided to try again – only this time it was supposedly ‘just for fun’.


Who for?

Any parent reading this will know how hard it is to get their kids off the sofa during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, and just how unbelievably worth the effort it is to do so. My boys spiral ever faster into anarchy, like a whirlpool of bitter, pent up Punk Rockers the longer they are left sitting around a treat filled house playing games and watching Christmas TV. It’s lovely for a couple of days but soon the fighting and noise levels rise worryingly high, so action has to be taken.

So you take them out on walks.

These work like a blood transfusion, spending their bad energy and replacing it with a fresh input of life that they can use eating yet more chocolate sat firmly in front of the box.
Three woodland walks later though, and the magic has worn off. You have to try and find something new. Bleary eyed from staying up until midnight to see in the year but refusing to stay in bed past nine the next morning, my two boys were itching for a hard day’s arguing. They put their feet down and made it clear that the walk I was suggesting would result in me losing the last precious few strands of hair on my head once and for all. It was not going to be worth it. They were too tired; they would sit in front of the TV and occasionally hit one another instead.

My wife, Jo – never short of a ridiculous idea – surpassed herself. “Hey, I know what we should do – we should go for a family run – all of us. That will be a laugh won’t it? Bagsy not running with Dad!”
Before I could point out that there was no way in hell I was going to be running anywhere when I could be sat here eating chocolate and pretending I can’t hear the kids trying to kill each other, the boys cheered and started laughing. Their sugar and inactivity induced vindictiveness could be aimed at me instead of each other. The glee with which they relished the idea of making me go running on New Year’s Day completely made them forget about how tired they were.

I put my shorts on.

We set off with Jo leading the way. We would run 5K or about three miles if you prefer. Jo and Daniel have run this distance together a couple of times; Jamie and I would just have to see how we got on.
It is safe to say that I didn’t get on at all – nor did the boys.

Two weeks away from the playground, mixed with the stupendous over-excess of Christmas, had erased all of the evidence that we had ever managed to run two miles together. The boys kept stopping to walk or just to stop – and well, someone had to stay with them! I tried to gee them on, but I was about as convincing as Russell Crow’s accent in Robin Hood. Who was I fooling when I said that we could do it? No one.

The boys whinged. I whinged. We sounded like a faulty ambulance with an extremely rough sounding exhaust as we inched along the paths, holding up Zimmer framed ladies who were dragging wheeled shopping baskets behind them and getting more than a little vocal about their delay.
Daniel attempted to complete the 5K, all be it by walking, while my youngest and I simply dodged behind a fence long enough for Jo to be out of sight and then hobbled a short cut home. I’m not sure how far we actually ran but I suspect you could measure it with a ruler.

However the thing is, as big a failure as the family run actually was, it was also a massive success. In fact Daniel wound up getting out of the house and walked / jogged for three miles. Jamie got off the sofa and walked / jogged for two. They got air. They got exercise. They had point blank refused to go for a walk with us, and yet they had – willingly.

And when they got back they were renewed. Oh they were tired and the TV went back on – of course it did – but the aggression was spent. Irritation and sibling rivalry had returned to its standard background level. I had my boys back.

Jo’s idea had not been so ridiculous after all – in fact it had been sheer genius. I probably only ran about three inches more than Jamie so I can’t claim that I got much exercise really, not that you would have guessed that from the amount heaving and sweating I was doing, but yet again just shutting up and doing what my wife told me to do paid for itself.

The world’s least impressive jog saved Christmas!  Now there is a claim.

Worryingly, in those first few moments, when I was filled with positivity about the world of exercise, I came up with an idea – a potentially very silly one…

Friday, January 6, 2012

Winning is addictive

Hello Hello.

I’m back on the train and I have loads to tell you about, lots of stories to write, bags of ideas for this is 2012 – a very big year, here in England!

But first…

Some news.

I’ll get on with writing some posts for next week, but in the meantime I need to say thank you.
Do you remember me writing a begging post here – asking asking for ‘likes’ ‘tweets’ or ‘W+’ votes on the WURDZL site? No not the Diamond Light Source competition – the other one.
The one that was for a Kindle?

Well, believe it or not I won. I have the Kindle in my bag – I’m so excited about this.

I won a blummin Kindle for writing less than 300 words!


And some of you helped with that – so thanks.

Thank you.

I was a little cynical at first, when I received the email telling me I’d won and asking for an address I just didn’t feel that the prize was likely to ever actually arrive. Prizes have failed to materialize before. However, my doubt was unfounded and the owner of the site was absolutely good for his word – which is refreshing. Therefore, I can heartily recommend you keep your eyes on the WURDZL site, in case he runs another competition, even if he still hasn’t updated the actual site.

Not that I know when I’ll ever read it, I need to be getting on with writing during my commute really, what with it being a whole brand new year with blog posts to write, weekly columns and only about six million more competitions to enter. But still.

I won a blummin Kindle!!!

Get in!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year

Hello everyone – happy New Year!

Today sees the start of my all new regular weekly column at In The Powder Room (cool eh?)
I won’t necessarily write a link each week so look for the shortcut on the right hand side and hop over there every Tuesday – if you like.

Meanwhile, normal posts will resume here just as soon as I get back on the train – I’m too busy playing “Cars2 Operation”, Articulate, or watching TV with my boys at the moment to be writing stuff down.
Family – love it.  Look out for the report on our so called Family Run – coming soon.

Cheers Glen.