Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Staffa



The sea is so calm that today's boat trip to Staffa is a dream.

Having seen Fingal’s Cave before, I chose to head to the cliffs at the far end of the island, in search of puffins.

The theory is as follows: the human presence scares off the larger birds and as a result the puffins take the opportunity to head for the grass on the top of the cliffs.



If you sit there, they will come.

And they do. They flock in, puffin after puffin. The clumsiest landing skills of the bird world, the most comedic walkers, but what’s not to love about these handsome little bubbers?



Watching them is addictive and it’s hard to tear ourselves away to make it back to the boat.

The sea is still incredibly calm and so the boatman takes the vessel into the cave. A real rare treat.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Planning for passion



This evening is my one Greenbelt duty for the week, running a session on the Manchester Passion.

Accordingly, and a little reluctantly, I skip the organised pilgramage as I need some sleep/rest and time to prepare. To be honest I'm feeling quite solitary and the thought of a private day of sleep/run through the DVD and work out additional edits etc for the first part of the morning, followed by a private pilgramage of my own for the rest of the day, appeals greatly.

And it's wonderful; time to walk, explore and reflect. Time to walk for miles and then find the perfect rock to sit on and just be.

For a while at least...until I start panicking about the evening again.

Time to think it through, prepare some thoughts.

Though it's tempting to fill the one hour session with a viewing of the programme in full (that will be one hour in duration then...) I guess people might feel a bit short changed by that, so I show a brutal edit and try and give some thoughts and set up some points for discussion.

I’ve been dreading it...there’s reasons why I work behind the scenes usually.

It seemed to go ok. Well either that, or people are just lying to be nice.

And that in itself is quite good.

I'm content with that.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Routine and rhythm



The week starts properly and the rhythm of the routine establishes itself. The first photo above is the view from the bedroom I'm sharing with Sally, the second the view from the bathroom as I stand brushing my teeth waiting for the lone shower to free up (my teeth have never been cleaner). Breakfast is followed by more teeth brushing and then 9am worship (I attend some days) and then straight into chores (tidying the Common Room in my case), then a couple of morning sessions before lunch.

I’m on the lunch team, so after setting up, serving, clearing and washing-up it’s into the afternoon free time. After the evening meal, there’s an evening session and then evening worship. The pub generally beckons most people (some earlier than others…) and then after the bar finally stops serving, it’s the walk home and then giggling with friends until far too late.

Some people throw themselves in to every organised activity, others like myself pick and choose. Horses for courses.

Obviously the chore element isn’t optionally (unless you feel like dumping additionally work on your fellow team members), but outside of that people tend to find the pattern that works for them. For me the rigidity of life in the abbey (which seems to have become decidedly more po-faced since I was last a guest) is hard enough to cope with, so I need to find my space where I can.

And this island is perfect for that. This is a seriously beautiful place.



Happily the rain on Saturday was not a sign for the rest of the week. Outside of the odd shower, the weather is excellent. Sunshine and wind – the island at it’s best. Why stay inside when there’s an island this beautiful to explore?

And in the evenings? Well what’s more perfect than the opportunity to catch up with some of my most favourite people in the world?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Trapped in Church



I start today with better intentions and make it to a Sunday morning church service for the first time in over a year or two.

Sall and I arrive after all the seats have been filled and after some confusion of ‘this seat is reserved’, ‘no it isn’t’, ‘yes it is’, we find a little perch on the step leading up to the night stairs. Not the most comfortable seat in the house maybe, but at least it’s handy for an escape route.

A well-meaning steward insists she can find us seats in the choir stalls. Unfortunately yet again I hit the ‘sorry this seat is reserved’ issue and as the service starts I’m now stuck right up the front by the altar with no means of escape. I want the ground to open up and swallow me. However, given the solidity of the ancient stone slabs beneath my feet, I suspect that this isn’t about to happen.

I can feel myself start to panic, I just want to be out, gone, away.

Fortunately the same well-meaning steward realises what has happened and that I’m now stranded. She resolves the situation, but I’m left feeling awkward and ill in the mood for an act of worship, but hey worse things happen at sea.

Sally sadly had it no better as she explains here. Sat several rows behind I can see my lovely friend and 'roomie' getting upset and feel totally frustrated that there is no way I can get to her to comfort her. My heart lifts when I see the stranger next to her, reach out to her and offer comfort. I track her down in the pub later to say thanks. An angel in a time of need.

On the plus side, Martin Wroe's sermon was a highlight, not least for the aside that: "our orthodoxy should inform our orthopraxy and if we get it wrong we may end up gnashing our teeth in hell...in which case we'll need orthodontistry...".

Oh my, I think I've been reading too many of Stuart's theology essays...I get the joke.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Arrival



After a decidedly average Little Chef breakfast (happily 25% off due to the understanding nature of the manager who recognised the irony of the tokens the Travelodge had given us: “25% off breakfast (only accepted after 2pm)”), we head off.

After a couple of leisurely hours drive, we arrive at Oban and having picked up some sandwiches and petrol at Tescos we pull into the queue for the ferry.

At that exact moment, I receive a text message from Sally saying that despite staying in a hotel a matter of yards from the port, they’ve missed the early ferry. If we ask her very nicely maybe she'll tell the full story to Blogland in her on inimitable fashion.

I phone with a small wind-up in an attempt to lift the mood. Sally’s response is simple and to the point “now is not the time for jokes...”.

I hang up the phone – “apparently ‘not funny’...”.

On the plus side it means we all travel on the ferry to Mull together and arrive at Fionnphort in time to catch the same ferry to the island that will be our home for the next week.

The weather has been somewhat overcast since Oban, but as soon as we land at Iona, the heavens somewhat ominously open. The short walk to the abbey is enough to have us arrive like drowned rats.

After a welcome tea, we attend the welcome session run by the community. We’re each asked to give one or two words that sum up our hopes for the week. I’m very close to saying ‘liturgical dance’, but decide to behave at the last moment.

Recognising that I need to do my joining-in in small doses if I’m to stay sane, I skip the evening service and head straight to the pub with some other like-minded folk.

When the others arrive a little later, they bring with them news of the horror that was communal dancing on the part of some rather over-eager community residents.

I’m glad of two things; number one that I skipped the service and number two, that I bit back my sarcastic welcome session comment.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Travel Plan

We have a plan.

It goes like this:

S, M and I will travel together up to Iona and come back the ‘long’ way. S and I will share the driving of his car (it being the fittest of the three) and we’ll head off as soon as I get back from work today.

So as I head out from the office complex onto the motorway, my heart sinks as I see the ‘delays ahead’ signs.

So I decide the ‘long way’ via Thelwall viaduct will be the better bet, however as I head onto the slip road, beyond the point of no return, I see that this route is similarly gridlocked.

Fortunately, it’s not as bad as it first appeared and I eventually make it home an hour and a half after leaving the office.

S and M head to mine, but as we're loading my bag onto the back seat of S's car we notice something a little disturbing in the footwell.



"Errr S, is there a reason you keep two week old prawn dim sum under your car seat?".

Speculating as to who* S may have upset such that they'd plant such a heinous item, we make our way north.

We make it to Dumbarton Travelodge by around 11pm, not cheap (£51 per room) and not picturesque (busy road on one side, railway on the other), and distinctly no frills (no breakfast included as ever and they even charge for watching basic TV these days – how tight is that?) but it has the distinct advantage of being located directly on our route. And besides I’m so shattered even the noise of the express trains two feet from my window cannot prevent sleep and as for the boys…well I believe the snoring of one party drowned out the sound of the neighbouring transport roar for the other...

* presumably a stupid person, given they hadn't pierced the cellophane to release the festering odours...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Feeling tired

Why is it that at the times when you're really busy and need all your energy, you end up under the weather and feeling tired.

Ok I probably know the answer to that one - over-doing things and over-working.

No time or spare energy to blog either.

But hey, there are loads of blogs out there, the world will survive without my contribution of waffle and daub.

Take Fragile Tender for example, a fine, fine blog and always interesting links. Like this one summarising a few different denominations/types of Christians. Very amusing - be sure to read the comments for additional descriptions.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I knew it reminded me of something...

P&S weren't able to make it last night and propose meeting up tonight instead.

However post migraine I'm experiencing what my mother refers to as the 'wrung out dish clothe' stage. So they suggest coming round to mine and achieving some sort of meal out of the BBQ left overs.

As is now traditional they take the opportunity to catch up on Doctor Who (I have my uses in life). I also suggest I treat them to some of the highlights of last night's Eurovision. They too are suitably impressed by Lithuania and Finnish entries, but then we get to the UK effort.




The biggest problem is Daz himself. Middle-aged bloke, surrounded by young schoolgirls and with dance moves and fashion sense that is just cringeworthy.

Or as S puts it - "it's The Tribe!".

She's a cruel woman at times. But very insightful.

Something else is troubling me...the DJ schoolgirl's fixed grin...it's like something from the Aphex Twin's Windowlicker video. Very disturbing.

The Morning After the Night Before



Oh my, that cardboard really didn't protect the grass too well last night did it?

Time to buy some grass seed I think...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Oh Lordi!



Well the day didn't exactly start well. I woke at 6.30am with a major migraine in progress. The medication didn't work and within the hour I'm puking like a good un.

This continues for the next five hours and it's not until mid-afternoon that my stomach settles enough to allow the ginger sipping of some soluble painkiller, which in turn starts to stop my head exploding.

In faith I decide not to cancel the plans for the party this afternoon, though I do have to put P,R & the kids off, who were planning to come across early.

Needless to say that by the time I've recovered suitably to have a shower and enter the world of the living it's 5pm and I'm ever so slightly behind on my plans to tidy the house, construct gazebos, prepare food, set up the cocktail counter, string the fairy lights, light the BBQ etc. Guests at 6pm...

The wonderful Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses family come round at 5.30pm and a small army of helpers is unleashed. Niece R is a whizz with the tribute to the 70's cheese and pineapple sticks, niece K is a star with the gazebos and lighting, niece H a Godsend with the 'take all this upstairs and dump it in the boxroom'. S is a legend with gazebos and BBQs (helped in due course by some early guests, who kindly muck in) and K runs endless errands picking up the things we've forgotten.

Eventually things are almost shipshape, bubble machines blow their magic over the garden, swingball is proving a hit with the kids, fabulous food is cooking on the BBQ, guests with drinks in hand, nibbles on plates, party mix on the iPod and the house and garden full of lovely people.

And then on to the main feature of the evening: the one, the only, Eurovision Song Contest.

Ah 'tis a delight as ever. True Euro-madness. Rob has provided the sweepstake facility again, complete with little flags for the waving. Class.

I'm glad to say we're not let down...Eurovision is a true kitsch delight. Firm favourites from the Manchester jury are Lordi, a Finnish Eurovision take on Slipknot (douze point!).

You can enjoy their performance again below. And oh yes, you're not mistaken, they do indeed claim that it's an a-rockalypse and that today is the day of rockening.



A fine set of winners. And the moment when they were handed huge bouquets of flowers was quite special.

Myself, I also had a soft spot for Lithuania - barking in the way only Eurovision can be. I mean who'd have thought of combining a Fran Cosgrove looky-likey, with a Ethan Hawke looky-likey, with a Harry Hill looky-likey that dances like...err well I'm not sure I can describe it, check it out for yourself:



Sadly however their claim of "we are the winners of Eurovison" wasn't to be. It seems people did indeed follow their instruction to "vote for the winners!" (it's kind of how the whole poll thing works), perhaps they needed to be more specific: "vote for us!"

Oh a splendid, splendid night.

The wonderful S&K even stayed behind to help clear up the bulk of the mess. Friends like this...you couldn't buy them for all the money int he world. Or as K observes, "you've gone one better than T, held the party at your own house, but got others to host it".

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I've had too little sleep to cope with this...

A business meeting in Cardiff means I’m up at 4.30am in order to catch the train.

Have I mentioned that I’m not really a morning person?

My colleague joins me at Crewe and it’s good to catch up with him, but it does mean that there’s no opportunity for a sneaky kip.

We grab a taxi to the office and my colleague politely asks the cabbing “how’s business?”.

A fairly innocuous question you’d think, but having got himself going on the woes of a life as a taxi driver (the increase in cabs on the streets is driving his profits down), it’s but a short trip to a diatribe about the corruption of council officials (which drove him out of business when he was a joiner you know) and from there the rest of the journey is filled with him ranting on about “ethnics” and “them bringing murderers and rapists in”, how we’re about to be overrun by 300,000 eastern Europeans, how this is the wrong place anyhow for young Muslim men under the age of 25 (? Yeah that one confused me as well…), how immigrants are taking all the jobs and having new houses built specially for them, how they bring diseases with them and overrun the health service and cost us decent tax payers and…and…and…

And he honestly says, without any trace of irony, “not that I’ve got anything against them mind, one of my friends is black. He’s a fine bloke, works really hard. Mind you he has just been given a 5 bedroom house and it’s just because he’s black. He admits as much. I mean he has got 9 kids, but even so…”.

What do you do in a situation like that?

My colleague and I are stony silent. At one point I can take no more and have to correct him on some of the woeful ‘facts’ he’s trotting out, but he’s undeterred. He has no apparent realisation that he lost his audience a long, long while back (about the time he first opened his mouth), not to mention any chance of a tip.

Though it would be a tempting to say “here’s a tip for you…stop buying the Daily Mail and try going a week without blaming someone else for every possible perceived wrong in your world”.

The office is a short 10 minute drive from the station.

It felt much, much longer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

RED



Having the Independent guest edited by Bono is an idea bound to attract mixed emotions.

Personally I guess I feel that each side is using each other in a fairly balanced manner (some would call it mutual back-scratching, but mutually exploitation seems a more fitting term somehow). The paper gets a boost in circulation and some valuable publicity, Bono gets a public stage, some publicity for Product Red and 50% of the cover price to go towards funds fighting aids.

For the reader, there is the bonus that the paper contains the sort of articles you wouldn’t normally find (and I don’t just mean Bono’s celebrity interviews). The cover sums this up; comprised solely of a piece by Damien Hirst, it declares “No News Today*” with the footnote * Just 6,500 Africans died today as a result of a preventable, treatable disease. (HIV/Aids).

The numbers never fail to shock. 6,500 every day and how often does this make the front page? Natural disasters and even terrorism or war, rarely achieve that sort of casualty rate in a day, let alone day after day after day. And there lies the problem, how do we make this news? Another 6,500 died today, just as they did yesterday. Nothing different, nothing unusual, nothing newsworthy; just another 6,500 died today…just like yesterday.

So it’s refreshing to have a gimmick like this guest editing slot allow the opportunity to make this news. To say “today the main news is…”

Hirst’s painting choosing the cross motif to portray this message. The horizontal bar comprising a tablet, a syringe and a capsule. Above the dove with a “leaf in her mouth”, below praying hands and a skull. The Genesis 1.27 reference:

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

In the words of Mr Lennon (who I so maligned yesterday): I heard the news today, oh boy.

The Wrong Guy



A colleague of mine has been known to recount the following tale of when he was interviewing candidates for a job (names changed to blah blah blah).

Heading down to the reception area he enquired of those waiting “Simon Brown?”.

A fellow stood up, nodded and accompanied my colleague back to his office, where said colleague the Chief Eng1neer proceeded to grill him about his knowledge of w@stewater netw0rks.

After about 5 minutes the interviewee paused and said “I’m a little confused with all these questions…I’m not sure they have much to do with the p1pe material I’ve come to talk to you about.”

“P1pe material?” asks my colleague, “I thought you were here for the networks job?”

“Job?” replies their poor victim “No, I’m a salesman with X company, here to talk about plastic p1pes…”.

After much embarrassed laughter, they return to reception, where the ‘correct’ Simon Brown is identified (“well I did wonder...” he said) and his salesman namesake is united with whoever it was that wanted to know about his product.

An amusing story, but I think this guy has it licked.

Imagine, you turn up for a job interview as an IT assistant at the BBC, the next thing you know you’re being shoved in front of a camera and being asked to give you expert opinion on the legal battle between Apple Computers and Apple Corps. A situation not helped by the fact that you are French Congolese and have only self-taught English at your disposal.

Guy Goma, Guy Kewney, it's an easy mistake to make...

OK his answers wouldn’t have won a Faking It style test, but the fact he kept calm and did his best, is a fine testament to the guy. I hope he got the IT job.

And who knows, Alan Sugar may just have found inspiration for one of the challenges for the next season of The Apprentice.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Boys listening to boys playing guitars



An interesting article on the BBC today, examines the rise in women downloading music and using mp3 players.

According to publishers Emap, this trend is behind the "boom in the number of women reading music magazines". The BBC expands on this, stating that "for the first time, more women are reading metal magazine Kerrang than men, while almost half of Q's under-30 readership is now female".

So maybe it's time for the NME to stop being part of IPC's Ignite! ("Better Men's Media") imprint? Something that has always annoyed me.

You never know, next newsagents will stop stocking the NME amongst Nuts, Zoo, Maxim, FHM and all the other 'whoops my clothes fell off' publications. Then I could search for the last copy without qualms.

And maybe more women will start picking it up...and reading it...and start getting hooked on good music...and then maybe more women will start picking up guitars and...

Hey, you may say I'm a dreamer...but, you're a bloke Mr Lennon, so what would you know about this?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Who?



You know you’ve over-shopped, when you wake the next day with muscles aching like you’ve completed a 10 mile hike.

So a lazy day, with bits of tidying up post-plumber (including rebuilding of a bookshelf that didn’t appreciate being moved) and sorting out of paperwork.

S&P call round early evening to borrow some DVDs (including Dr Who episode 5 freshly burnt).

I’d saved them the Dr Who sticker album that came free with the Radio Times this week. I thought they’d laugh and turn their noses up at it. Oh how wrong could I be? S started pouring through it and P asked where you bought stickers from.

It seems even P&S will fall for cheap commercialism when it comes to their beloved Sci Fi.

I’m friends with them despite this...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Red



A haircut (appropriately with bright red slices) and mammoth shopping trip (I forgot the golden maxim of never buy more than you can carry) meant I missed the start of the FA Cup final.

What a game though!

"You're not blowing bubbles anymore, you're not blow-ow-ing any-more!"

Oh Stevie Gerrard, you are indeed da man.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Strawbury Duck



S is still under the weather with this killer cold-type-thing that she’s had for about two weeks now.

She’s on the mend fortunately and well enough for a country pub visit.

P drives…a novelty that hasn’t warn off yet for any of us.

Shares in Stolichnaya are bound to rocket now I’m not so much off the wagon as not responsible for driving it any more.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Repaired plumbing

I worked from home today, so that the plumbers had access to the house to do various jobs (new radiator, service boiler, fix serious leak, new washing machine tap points).

Excepting a little bit of blow torch scorching to some wallpaper, they seem to have done an excellent job. Not really the weather to even think about switching the heating on, but best to test it’s all working.

On a similar front, Mum’s new plumbing appears to be continuing to operate well, so we’re feeling positive.

Though hopefully there were no blow torches involved in her case...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Set back

Mum came home from hospital yesterday and all seemed well.

Unfortunately, in the night things went rather pear-shaped and today she had to go back into hospital for them to resolve the problem.

In a proceedure akin to the jetting out of a suuwer (I thought it was very supportive of me to draw that comparison), the tubing was flushed through under pressure, revealing the culprits...a number of blood clots.

After a short period of observation, they let her home again and so far all seems well.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Operation

Mum had to have an Op today.

We've all been rather anxious. The last operation she had, led to some serious bad stuff.

This time, fortunately, she doesn't need a general anaesthetic, just something akin to an epidural. That in itself is worrying her though, as her previous experience of a proceedure under similar anaesthetic arrangements was so traumatic that 16 years on, she's still majorly frightened at the very idea.

As I spend the evening waiting to hear, some rather splendid friends help keep my mind off things. Instant messages and email ping-pong, I love broadband, but even more so I love the excellent people I find on the other end of it (especially those who engage in joint bitching sessions!).

Fortunately, all goes well and Mum gets to watch the proceedure live on an internal camera thingy. A bit like being the star in your own episode of Holby I tell her.

They'll keep her in overnight, but despite a small difficulty (the organ they tried to 'inflate' to make the proceedure simpler, kept deflating!) they think everything has gone well.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Adventures in Cheshire



Stuart & K (yes them again Sall!) have wonderfully agreed to accompany me on a trip to check out a potential venue near Crewe for the autumn/winter Greenbelt Ops and Programming weekend.

Given my dodgy knee is not appreciating the previous night’s abuses, S even offers to drive.

The least I can do is buy lunch.

After a false start at the Plough and Flail (now I remember why I stopped going there), we settle on the newly refurbed Merlin at Alderley Edge.

With a 20 minute wait for a table in the restaurant area, we head to the bar. As we order two pints of diet coke and a pint of lime and soda the bartender fixes us with a sympathetic smile and asks "heavy night?".

That obvious, it appears.

The new d├ęcor is a little alarming. Stuart is won over by his animal hide chair upholstery, but I’m guessing vegetarians would feel slightly less at home.

The food though is top notch; a real pleasant surprise for this kind of size pub.



Refuelled and slightly more alert we head on to our destination, where the lovely retreat centre manager shows us round what it turns out is a wonderful place. We’re won over.

Picking up the younger two Radlets en-route (plus friend), we just about make it back to Manchester in time for me to make my evening plans with Sarah and for Stuart to head back out, to run a youth club.

I haven’t seen Sarah for a week now (unheard of outside of holidays), so I’m looking forward to catching up. Unfortunately she rings up full of cold and cries off. Poor thing sounds absolutely miserable. So instead I end up having a night in, which is probably just as well given how tired I am…even if I do have to cook for myself (hurrrumph !).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Party Tricks



With S&K, I head mid-afternoon to T’s 30th birthday BBQ and party.

This is the way to host a party alright, we could only marvel and learn.

The party isn’t at T’s tiny flat, but at a colleague’s house/garden (I mean why watch your own place get trashed?).

Accompanying the drinking, eating and general merry making, various guests provide entertainment. The close-up magician is a quality act, though perhaps slightly overshadowed by the fire-eater (I’m sure primary school teachers didn’t do that kind of thing in my day).

When the one-man-band starts up, initially my heart sinks, but actually he was pretty good.

Until of course the pan-pipes came out.

At which point S and I just looked at each other and exclaimed in unison "Sally!"

So returning a previous favour I phone her mobile and let her listen to a ‘gig’.

On hearing details of the party and my companions, her response is "you’re not with S&K again?!? I don’t know why you don’t just move in!"

(A fine idea...if only they'd let me...but anyway, back to the party…)

Later S&M entertain with guitars and singing, including a special, audience sing-a-long version of When I’m Sixty-Four with adapted lyrics.

K starts on her third bottle of wine and I’m mighty impressed at how well she’s holding it together. A little problem with finding the last word of each sentence, but other than that…

The party continues into the night and just after midnight, just as it seems things are starting to wind down, a late guest arrives, fresh from singing at a jazz gig. Next thing you know we have an intimate little jazz gig of our own as she sings T his favourite song, Stormy Weather (didn't think you'd appreciate a call at that time Sall...).

A fine, fine party. But it does lift the bar rather.

As we rise to leave around 1am, S looks at K and says "Have you got a key?". K replies "No, I haven’t, I thought you had!"

And so the eldest Radlet is roused from her bed to enable her irresponsible parents re-admittance to the family home. I, the designated driver and therefore sober component, suggest she should possible ground the pair of them and certainly remember this next time she has a Malteaser moment and locks herself out.

(of course if they would just adopt me and be done with it, I could have been responsible for the key...you know it makes sense ;-) )

Friday, May 05, 2006

The cupboard is bare...

A night in.

No food from the Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses household in my fridge.

Tis outrage!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Skellig



At Book Group in the pub tonight we discussed Skellig by David Almond; our first foray into the world of children’s literature.

Overall the verdict was very positive. Beautiful, compelling and with a lovely magical air to it.

Some reservations about certain elements, but nothing sufficient to take away from what we generally agreed was a charming, pleasure of a read.

At 170 pages and written with a younger audience in mind, it doesn’t take long to read it cover to cover. So if you feel like escaping into a world of magical innocence for a couple of hours, I’d certainly recommend it.

As ever our discussions never restrict themselves to one book and the converstaion drifts from what we appreciate in literature, to current affairs, to music, to football, to crap TV, to party invites, to raising children, to the trouble with relationships, to ‘why has a Mariachi band just wandered into the pub’, to politics, to the essentialness of a mobile phone, to why Americans find exclamation marks inappropriate, to whether T get’s out enough, to whether he’d get out more if he had a mobile phone, to…oh almost anything. Excellent company and I haven’t laughed so much in a long time.

J turns up 2 hours late and surprise, surprise hasn’t read the book.

In fact she’s been turning up late to Book Group meetings for nearly a year now and hasn’t read a single book (she’s managed the first five pages of about two works, but that’s it). Our usual subtle hints about the absurdity of this, turn into open challenges tonight.

As a teacher and in her mid-fifties, I find it hard to fathom her repeated excuse of "I didn’t know where to get a copy". When predictably she says the same about the next book on the list, I’m afraid I couldn’t hold back any longer : "Well you could try a greengrocers, or you know...maybe a 'bookstore’? Or come, to think of it, you’ve also worked in IT haven’t you – how about Amazon?".

"So they won’t have it in Tescos then?"

Grrrrrrrr…

Sometimes, it's very hard to be a 'nice person'...and sometimes I confess I struggle to find the motivation.

Local Elections 2006



I always vote.

I'm too aware of the battle hard won by my foremothers, to ever take the right of sufferage for granted.

That said, I've never felt less inclined to vote for anyone, or come closer to spoiling the paper with "none of the above".

For the first time ever I'm stood in the voting booth undecided as to what to do.

Four candidates face me, but in my ward it's almost certainly going to be Labour or Lib Dem. But for me it's a choice between a different two; I'd never vote Tory (I wouldn't bandy around terms like "lunatics and closet racists", but well, you know...) and every Lib Dem local politician I meet seems to fill me with greater loathing of their petty minded, self-aggrandising, credit seeking local power trips.

So that leaves me as ever with the choice between Labour and Green. A choice between a pragmatic "despite everything I'd rather have a Labour councillor than a Lib Dem one" and "f*** it, I'm so tired of voting for the best of a bad bunch, I want to vote for someone with real ideals that I generally support even if they aren't going to win".

I made my cross in a box and left.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Delusions of competence?

A day of training, which apparently I'm just sitting in on to overview as part of my new role.

Well that's what people kept saying to me, myself I felt I had as much to learn as anyone.

Turns out though, that I do know stuff; how we analyse some things, how we analyse others, how it all fits together, what else we need to consider etc.

Maybe I've just been stagnating too long. I guess this new role is waking me up a bit.

I have moments of feeling competent, which surprise me.

And it's a nice surprise.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Blah Manchester and top nosh

Another Blah tonight.

And the third night in the row I've spent with members of the Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses household. I think they should be done with it and formally adopt me.

Sadly, I didn't really seem to get much out of the Blah session for once. Maybe I've just been thinking about that stuff for too long already...

Might consider an intentional ritual connected to setting the burglar alarm though...I liked that idea.

Dropping S&K home, a plate of fajitas prepared and packaged up by my favourite niece K is smuggled into my car.

So now I have the dilemma...do I eat the Ragu pancakes I brought home as a doggy bag on Sunday...or go for the fajitas?

I so need this family to adopt me.

I'm housetrained and everything honest...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tapas



Time for a girlie night out and the opportunity to introduce K to Tapas...Dimitri's style.

Good food, good company, a nice way to round off a Bank Holiday weekend.