Sunday, June 17, 2007


I haven’t seen any of the Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses household for far too long (it must just be a couple of weeks, but it feels like ages). They’ve been hard at decorating the new home, and I’ve barely been in Manchester and feel like a bad friend who hasn’t been able to join any of the weekend painting parties.

Last night however, the focus was on the old house; a chance for one final party to say goodbye to local friends and neighbours. With the new house a fraction closer to mine, I’m alone amongst the guests looking forward to their move.

Whatever the reason for the get together, it was just good to catch up with them all.

Oldest Radlet K is one exam away from finishing her GCSEs, so I supplied some of her favourite Thornton’s Viennese Truffles that I picked up in town yesterday to see her through the last week.

Youngest Radlet R was worryingly proud of the plaster cast and sling she is sporting from the ‘Heelies Incident’ and I got to sign it as is traditional.

Middle Radlet H was looking gorgeous as ever – those eyes are going to break some hearts in their time.

Millie the dog was in seventh heaven with a houseful of people to give her attention.

K Snr was stationed at the new, huge, gas powered BBQ, cooking the meat element of her traditionally wondrous spread.

S seemed to be paying particular attention to the lessons in making genuine Sangria, as bowl after bowl was prepared through the evening.

His commitment to education was possibly coming back to haunt him, by quarter to three. With all the rest of the guests departed, K and I cleared up a little, whilst S looked on, clinging slightly to a door jam and complaining that he felt ill and that the world won’t stop moving.

I wouldn't want his head this morning...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

So close

Post-haircut I mooch around the shops in Manchester. Despite some moments of deep temptation in Shuh and Monsoon, I resist all shoe and clothing temptations and outside of some shampoo and bits in Boots, it’s been all window shopping and my credit card has remained safe.

Walking up Market Street I debate whether to head straight for the bus or whether to pop into Debenhams as I pass.

Now if we adopt the internationally acclaimed Lori school of accountancy, it can be demonstrated that my decision in favour of the department store saved me the best part of £60.

More traditional schools of finance would in contrast consider it to be a decision that cost me just over £60, but hey what do they know about Matthew Williamson skirts and John Richmond Jeans at under half price?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Up at the Villa

I don’t why, but I’ve never read any Somerset Maugham before. For some reason his novels haven’t stayed in vogue in the same way as many of his contemporaries.

Up at the Villa is a charming short novel, which generated some good discussion at book group tonight.

Based on my enjoyment of that taster, I think I’ll be searching out some more Maugham.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time Flies

Management Group Meeting in London last night, Operations Manager telephone conference tonight.

Ten weeks to go, until build week.

Where did the year go?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Shopping and Lunch

Ah shopping – it’s what 1iz and her mum do best together. It’s not really about the consumerism aspect, indeed we buy relatively little – it’s about time together, just the girls, time to talk, share, laugh, cry and just do the mother daughter thing.

After a little under two and a half hours, we make it back to the designated pick-up spot near West Croydon, help Dad load the scooter into the car and then head out for lunch at Coombe Lodge.

Now, if we’re quick to mention poor service, then I think it’s only fair that we share when things go well:

The story gets off to a bad start, when my diet coke comes complete with lemon slice (I’m assuming by now I don’t need to run through my whole Diet Coke = Sign of a Benevolent God, Diet Coke with Lemon = Evidence Humankind can F*** it up Everytime, theory?).

I remove the slice and leave it beside the glass.

When I order a second glass, the waitress sets it down with a smile and the words “there I spared you the lemon this time”.

Now that’s what I call service. The tip reflected my delight.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Big Father

One of the most peculiar side-effects of mum’s illness in recent years is the impact it’s had on Dad’s television watching habits. A little before ten pm he wheels her into the bedroom and gets the things she needs to start getting ready for bed. He then leaves her for half an hour plus to sort herself out, before he comes to finish off the last bits and get her into bed.

The gap in the middle is rest time for him; usually too short a period to do much with he surfs the TV channels.

Only those who know the serious intense character he can be, will appreciate quite how weird it is that he seems to end up on Channel Four watching all manner of tat.

Never did I imagine that my father would engage me in conversation about the goings on in the Big Brother house. I can only compare it to the sort of reaction you might have if the Queen turned to you and said “oooh did you read that article about Britney in Heat the other week?”

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Courts and Cubs

After a sunshine blessed stroll along the river from Hampton Court (me pushing Mum in a wheelchair, Dad limping alongside, quite a picture!), we head to my brother’s house for an afternoon of fun and barbeques.

I can’t believe how much my ‘little’ nephew has grown in the few months since I saw him last.

Definitely taking after my brother, his legs appear to have extended by a foot, without any accompanying increase in girth. With his yellow t’shirt and brown shorts the combined effect is a bit like watching a new born giraffe at times.

The niece is also continuing her transformation into proper little girlie and the once shy and unsure ‘oldest’ child is now largely unrecognisable in the confident happy kid that is emerging.

I have to say that barring one incident in which a ball is thrown over the fence (“she told me to throw it” – the truth of the matter is unlikely to ever be known), they are really well behaved, are great fun and play well together – a real pleasure to be around.

I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s a bit like cooing over a lion cub at a zoo, all very lovely, but you wouldn’t actually want one in your house.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Another weekend, another trip to London, this time to see my folks and attend the monthly Greenbelt Mgmt Grp meeting.

Thankfully this time the trains are running and it’s smooth, easy and stress free.

Dad’s currently limping following an accident lifting a paving slab, which promptly split down the middle, with one half landing on his toe.

A huge blood blister is forming and it’s likely he’ll lose the toenail.

One year off three score and ten and now with diabetes, I suggest he needs to be more careful and that perhaps in future when undertaking such projects he might want to wear his steel toe-cap boots.

His refusal and response, is one to make any H&S professional weep “well I don’t expect it to happen again”.

The Paris Diaries

It seems that for better or for worse (the latter I'd guess), young Paris Hilton is out of jail having only served 3 days of her original 45 day sentence.

There are details of the specific driving related offences on reputable news sites, but it basically amounts to being guilty of being unbelievably dumb and arrogant from what I can make out.

So will she have learnt anything from the experience one wonders?

Perhaps she'll have learnt that it would appear that it's possible to subvert justice by the judicious attending of mass in a white dress and being photographed carrying books like the Bible and The Alchemist (who knew that good-behaviour could be so simply demonstrated? Paulo Coelho can surely be expecting his royalty cheques to soar as his work becomes popular with felons across the US).

Or maybe she'll learn that justice it would seem means something very different for a stupid but rich white girl, who can afford a top lawyer?

If that's all she learns it would seem to be an opportunity lost, as none of that really goes to waking up to yourself, taking some responsibility and accepting that the law might even apply to rich little old you.

Still, if we have to endure her vacuous presence in the news cycles, then at least let us extract some mirth from the situation. Try the LA Times take on what her prison diaries might have been if she'd ever got past day 3. To give you a taster:
"DAY 1: Arrived late Sunday night. So tired. Asked if I could check into my room
immediately. Quite possibly the rudest concierge I have ever met. I told him he
was fired."
But perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps she really does have a 'medical condition' that takes her into a different category from all the other inmates (you know the ones without the advantages of being rich or white) and justifies her early release.

Shall we speculate what it might be?

I'll start the ball rolling, with the suggestion that medical tests may have been unable to detect brain activity.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What not to wear

Female friends of mine have divided opinion about pulling at festivals. Some run with the theory of "I wouldn't want anyone who would want me in this grubby state" others with the counter point "hey if he likes me looking like this, it can only get better".

Presumably the same questions arise in the swimming pool (which as you may have gathered is somewhere where I've been spending a rather large amount of my time over the last nine months of 'get healthy' living).

So when tonight, after 100 minutes of non-stop lengths, I was a little taken aback by the attentions of a fellow swimmer.

I mean what should one make of being asked for a date when you're wearing a hideous speedo swimhat goggles and a swimsuit (so let's face it all one's bumps and curves are there for all to see) and your face is no doubt red and blotchy with any traces of make-up long since washed away? Not exactly a good look is it?

And sometimes what we wear can be so important. You see, unfortunately, whilst his swim wear revealed a very nicely put together athletic body, he was wearing that one item of apparel that this girl just can't accept...a nice gold band on his left ring finger.

Ladies, if you'd like to join me at this point in rolling your eyes and exclaiming "Men!"...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

When the technology lets you down

It's a Kn0wledge Gr0up quarterly meeting (covering Europe and Asia, but effectively involving a handful of people from across the UK and India) in the South of England today. My colleague and I decide that in the interests of the environment and our sanity, we'll take part by video link.

Can we video link to the office out in India? Yes.

Can we video link to the Home Counties? No.

Can we even phone that office? No, their phone lines are down.

Is our company's on-line meeting facility down for the day as well? Of course it is.

So after an hour and a half of faffing about, we eventually start the meeting with A and I joining by means of a phone link to one of the southern guy's mobile phone on speaker phone and with them sharing a video link to India.

These meetings can be fairly painful at the best of times, and the additional distancing by a dodgy phone link and a less than perfect on-line screen sharing facility isn't helping. Though on the plus side it does mean my colleague and I can privately share wry observations and even rest our eyes in one of the more long winded afternoon sessions without anyone being any the wiser.

Assuming of course none of them ever read this...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wherever I lay my hat...

I'm home.

My bag's home.

My straw Stetson? Hmmm that'll still be in the back of P's 4x4 then...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wychwood 2007

I didn’t make Wychwood festival last year, so it’s interesting to see how it has grown and developed since its first appearance on the festival scene back in 2005. A little bigger, but generally the same, I confess I find it a little hard to reconcile the worthy front end, with the underlying unmistakably corporate, commercial foundations.

I guess the same can be said of a lot of the audience, middle class neo-hippies with bags espousing the joys of real nappies as they push their over-indulged off-spring around in the buggy-world’s equivalent of the SUV off-roader.

Still, I’m here to help out in whatever way I can, happy to help out some very excellent people who are involved it making it all happen on the ground. A bit of looking into this, a bit of helping form a response to that, even a bit of pulling pints in the Beer Tent when they're short.

And whilst much of the festival might not ring my particular bell, there is always something about the festival vibe in general that makes my heart glad. In the quiet times, taking some time out to munch noodles and sip frozen margaritas in the sunshine with some of the best people I know – well what’s not to love?

Oh and I caught bits of Badly Drawn Boy and Fun Lovin' Criminals...which was nice.