Thursday, June 29, 2006

How To Loose Friends And Not Influence People.

As part of a conversation with a couple of friends about the lack of content on television and my personal dislike of Football (soccer), I was heard to say “Personally I would not really be bothered if the England Team’s plane fell out of the sky!”
Now before you leap on your high horse and start a “Flame war”. I do not wish death on the England team.
But with all the skill of a man who frequently can be found with at least one of his feet firmly wedged in his mouth I had picked a particularly quiet moment when I achieved a slightly wider broadcast than I really wished.
There came from another quarter of the bar “That’s not a very nice thing to say. Imagine if your Mum and Dad were on that plane!”
Some people take football far to seriously.
As many who have heard this story have said “what would your Mum and Dad be doing on a plane with the England squad any way?”
With all the foresight of "20/20 wish I’d thought of it then" I also realise that it would be rather an unusual event for my mother and father to be in the same room together, let alone travelling on an airplane.

Rant End.

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Happy Birthday!

After reading an item on My Mixed Company (it is purely coincidence that yet again Lynn has posted something that has inspired me to write) I composed this (and felt like sharing it here as well):

It so easily happens. Until a few months ago I thought mostly to other people not me.

The day after my forty first birthday, and a long time since any sort of liaison with anyone of the opposite sex. A long time since a guarded smile, a stolen look. Even a decent conversation.

My usual detour via the pub on the way home. The bar’s not crowded, as is the way for a Thursday (Ladies darts team night).

A couple of friends are looking after the cousin of a third friend. It was one of those almost throw away thoughts, but it occurs to me that she was not half bad looking (that’s about as close as I get to a complement). I didn’t think much else of it and set to with a pint.

I’m not sure when and how but some time later she and I are talking passing the time of day and comparing the quality of Guinness between here and Ireland. Guinness being my drink, and her being from Ireland. This is a fatal combination. I am always willing to throw caution to the wind when a woman talks to me with any stile of Irish accent. I just get that stupid gooey feeling inside and become putty in their hands (not a pleasant site at the best of times). In fact any non-English accent tends to attract me, but particularly the Irish.

Well one topic leads to another and one pint to the next and we have covered the fact that she is half my age (Oh my god!), but that doesn’t matter because she likes older men. Then to my surprise the conversation focuses on the size of her chest (a particularly fine example if I may say so).

Talking leads to kissing. I’m dragged into a dark corner for a sumptuous (spell checker wanted "scrumptious") fondle. Then all of a sudden she’s dragging me into the ladies toilet. Well it appears someone from the Ladies Darts Team complained about the noise, and it only took them forty five minutes to get us out of the cubicle (funnily enough my attention was elsewhere so I didn’t notice them knocking on the door).

They insist we walk back through the bar to a rapturous round of applause. My reputation goes in two directions "Up" for the majority of the men and "down" with the majority of the women.
I of course haven’t seen her since. Now I don’t tell this story from any Macho bravado but from the almost same feeling that you express the “oh is that it then?” I know exactly how you feel. Even as a bloke I feel slightly disappointed.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

The Self-Nailing Crucifix.

This is for my mate Gordon, and a number of others who have picked up on it through out some of my posts here.

During many late night ecclesiastical discussions between myself and the Anti-Pope (ours being a very accommodating religion, we see no need to have all this infighting with fire and brimstone stuff, between Pope and Anti-Pope, so we regularily meet for the odd pint, bottle of wine, couple of bottles of mead), many is the time we have turned our discussion to futile and bizarre forms of suicide. Being fairly dark and twisted sorts we look for the most bizarre, gothic, and of course insulting to those “Christian” quarters. You probably know the game, “drowning in a custard filled balloon dropped from a plane over St Paul’s”. This of course raises problems due to the arcane nature of British legislation. It is illegal to try to commit suicide, and to aid the act (see the bloody Christians get everywhere). It’s at about this point the soapbox comes out and I start to rant that “crucifixion is too good for them!” (Christians that is) It must have been sometime around this rant that the thought occurs to us. Self crucifixion! Better then self mutilation (probably). Now it fits most of the criteria, slow painful death, visually impressive, insulting to the church, involves a big cross, I think it ticks all the boxes. Obviously there is the one floor in the plan. The eternal problem of the last nail. How do you complete the crucifixion if you have managed to nail one hand and your feet in place? (try this one at home kids, imagine you’ve fixed the two and attempt the last nail on the front room floor). You can’t push the nail through your hand and then hit the wood with it, the nail would fall out (unless the crucifix where made of balsawood then what’s the bloody point if you’re not going to do it properly?). You can’t hold the nail and the hammer in the same hand. No hammer has a long enough handle to hold it in your mouth and hit the nail, and even if it did (try holding a broom in your mouth and hitting your outstretched hand, absolutely ridiculous) it is too much work to complete the job. I do hope all the children are trying these exercises at home as we go along.

So what is the solution. Simple The (soon to be patented) All New Self-Nailing Crucifix.

How does it work? I hear you cry.

Turn all the nails the other way round (points sticking outward, make them big enough to pass through the wood and give you a reasonable length on the other side). Sharpen the ends. Then all you need to do is position yourself in front of the cross, impale your hands on the sharpened ends and kick the ladder away. Job done.
I'll be taking orders after the presentation. Queue to the left please.
Thank You.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Day In The Life.

As I troll the blogosphere I occasionally come across an idea that interests me and inspires me to write. Which is half the joy of the whole blogging experience for me.

Such an article is to be found at
My Mixed Company. Quiet simply someone writing about their every day experience, but in a stimulating way. As I said in my comment:
“I tend to wait for “interesting” things to blog about. I rarely blog about the mundaities of my life. Not that there is anything wrong in having a normal life.
I just assume that the ordinary aspects of my life were not inspiring enough. (New challenge then, once a month just post an ordinary day).”
Now it occurred to me that though my work-a-day life may not be the most inspiring. In fact I posted on another site, (lost the post in the massive of the blogosphere, Actually at
Scary Ducks blog.) where asked what quote from which tune summed up my life I replied “My job is very boring, I’m an office clerk!” from “Echo Beach” by Martha and The Muffins.

I am often more interested in the little things people mention in their posts. As an Englishman there are certain social rules, certain attitudes, which we take for granted, but in differing cultures the same gesture may actually mean the exact opposite.

So from the point of view of, say, your average Bolivian
Guinea Pig Swoggler, my trip to work on a bus every morning is actually quiet an amazing aspect of life, as, by comparison, the bus from La Paz to Cobija is only on a Thursday, and mine involves no Llamas.

I have to admit the following is probably an amalgam of the week but could easily happen in the one day.

Start: Friday sixteenth of June two thousand and six, zero six thirty hours in the morning.
I turn over, pick up the alarm clock and add another hour on the timer. I can afford to get up at eight because I can just sling on a shirt clean my teeth and leg it into town.

Restart: Friday sixteenth of June two thousand and six, zero eight hundred hours in the morning. Alarm goes off and a not too well rested body begrudgingly lifts from the bed to start the day again. It’s about this point I think to myself, as enjoyable drinking down the pub is perhaps it should be left to non-school days. Not Thursday night (and Wednesday, and Tuesday, and Monday, night).

It’s always a mystery how the ablution, dressing, feeding ritual; actually gets done in my house in the morning, but half an hour later I am “aspirin-ed” up, tea and toasted, dressed, and at the door. Sunglasses poised and ready to hit the streets. Much like the vampire hit by the first rays of dawn I collide with the day. Secure behind my shades I stumble almost painfully into daylight and head off down the road. Hoping the deodorant masks the smell of tobacco on my clothes from the night before. Un-ironed shirt, hole in my shoe, rip in the neck of my old rain coat, if there was ever a place to use the word shambolic, I would use it here. Not that I’m untidy, I wear a shirt, tie, and jacket. There’s just a particularly scrunched style I happen to wear them in.

Less of a problem on the way to work, more of a problem on the way home, I pass the pub. Vague memories of drinking, laughing, and winding up the barmaid, bring a grin to my face. Last night she scored a nightmare hat trick, my self and two friends all decided to convene for a little mid week drinking, so she achieved her three least favourite customers in the same bar at the same time, and Thursday was not a busy night. So she got all of our personal attention (much to her regret).

Philosophy for long life number one: Never run for a bus. (I saw it said on a cartoon about the world’s oldest man, forget the title but believe Mel Brooks did the voice). This is a policy I have held most of my life. It only puts the bus drivers in command, and this just goes to their heads. Unfortunately for me as I round the corner of the pub there is an only too inviting bus gliding round the roundabout and pulling up at the bus stop. I don’t even bother with the weight to acceleration calculations as I know for certain I would not make the bus. Which would put me in a particularly horrible state (sweaty, out of breath, and irritated) and would only make the day of some petty dictatorial fascist driving the bus. So I don’t bother, busses much like woman, there will always be another along in a minute or two (or in my case with women, another in about ten years).

I opt for the bus to work route. Thus tying myself to the decision. If I wait for the bus, the time passes the critical point at which I can comfortably make it into work walking, so I have to catch the bus or be even more later than usual (classic catch twenty two situation). The longer I wait for the bus the more I have to rely on the bus to get me to work. So the longer I have to wait. Not the best situation on this level of hangover.

My journey to work is measured by people I regularly pass on the way. I call these my markers. Certain people passed at certain places along the route mark whether I am early, on time, or, more usually, late. A couple of my mid journey markers pass as I await the bus, indicating I am very late. Luckily the bus ride is only minutes so I start to see my mid to later journey markers walking in the places I would usually pass them.

Time is a concept I have never quiet understood. My clocks at home each read differing times. So I have “Standard Kitchen Time”, “Front Room Meridian Time”, and “British Telecoms Time”. The alarm clock having a sliding scale of accuracy based on the fact I should replace the battery as and when I can no longer see the digits. “Front Room Meridian Time” being slightly faster than any other measurement (about five minutes) for the purpose of fooling me into a minor panic every morning and actually ensuring I leave the house on time. Even though I set the clock fast, and logically know it’s fast, I fall for the same trick every morning, and only tend to remember half way down my road. The majority of my appointments are run on “Celtic Mean Time”, basically “I made here didn’t I?”

The clock on Saint Paul’s on the way to work is another mystery. It tells me when I am going to arrive at work. It must be exactly faster than any other clock by the right amount of time it takes me to get to the council offices from the front of the church. The clock in Portsmouth Guild Hall is always five minutes fast so as I’m marching up the steps to the civic offices it proudly shows that I am five minutes late. I’m never really sure how early or late I am when I arrive, but at least I get there.

To be continued……………………………..

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Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup 2006, View From The Bench(Sitter). (By a Football Conscientious Objector).

I was going to write some huge ranting soapbox of a diatribe. Pillaring state and international stupidity. Until it hit me, I don’t actually care. Football, that is. If football were really a religion I would be an agnostic. Agnostic as apposed to atheist, because I know football does exist, I just don’t care. Not even on the level of “if football were Christianity” (crucifixion is too good for them), I would not even class myself as a Buddhist (i.e. preferring rugby, or cricket). No I just don’t care.
Back in the bad old days, yes I do vaguely remember my time at
school, I used to hate football. Everyone wanted to play it. Everyone loved it. Not me.

Please picture those endless humiliations, two skinny kids sitting on the bench, standing in the line, the last to be chosen. Never more retched a site seen than the dispossessed, the unwanted dregs, of the Footie team line up squad choosing ritual purgatory.
It starts with the two “I am’s!” the better, louder, more aggressive individuals (self acclaimed “alpha males”), picked by the teacher to be team captains. The first level is the squabble over the “good” players. The “if you have Bob then I want Tim”, thing goes on for a few minutes. Teacher usually has to mediate this level. Then the reasonable players are apportioned off in quick succession, then the mediocre then the bad and finally the line consist of three or four refugees from a mixture of
The Bash Street Kids, and Belson. Usually myself (left handed taught to be right handed, I believe, though another subject for another day), and my mate Alex (Brain tumour/blood clot removed from his head during his early teens. Thus a little slow of the motor neurone responses). I liked Alex, a lot of the others used to pick on him, but I found him amusing. Once you got past the slower, slightly slurred way he talked you realised he was possible completely off his head. Not stupid, he ran the staff ragged with his “Oh I feel tired now perhaps it’s my medication” scam, and his infinite understanding of the fact the staff were paranoid his condition may re-occur. Absolutely convinced he was going to take over the world. I didn’t go to school in “Tom Browns School Days” conditions, but they seem to be somewhat harder and slightly more violent than they appear now. Alex used to get picked on. Alex actually promised me ministry of Art when he took over the world, mainly because another friend of ours wanted the position and it amused him (and me) to give the title to someone else. I think that’s why I liked Alex, he was twisted.
Well it would get down to the last few untouchables, and we would be apportioned in the ritual “If we have to have him then you must have the other one” brush off that went so much further to bruise ones ego.
Don’t get me wrong, it was not just the teenage emotional equivalent of lining up for the showers in
Buchenwald that put me off of football. That was just the preliminary.
As a child I was reasonably fit, I walked a lot, and practiced yoga. It was not until my early to mid thirties that my job changed from something physical (Bar cellar man) to something more sedentary, and I also didn’t allow for that change in metabolism that occurs in men about that age. So I wasn’t in bad condition, and had much less body fat than I do now, I just had particularly bad hand eye co-ordination when it came to ball sports (this is a masterful understatement, some people are meant to hit things, others are meant to write about them doing the hitting. I have always been one of the latter).
It is when we hit the pitch that the main abomination occured. The “I am’s” run onto the pitch as though it were their day at Wembley, the rest as reasonable kids going for a game of football, and we, “The Untouchables”, bring up the rear like reluctant outcasts, from the extras, from the football match in
Football has long been a mainstay of British physical education curriculum (at least for Boys) from the point of attempting to engender teamwork, communication skills, and group activity, as well as physical well-being. Never has it been considered from the point of view of the lasting and hideous mental damage it’s implementation causes to those who are less than “good” at it. Reference again the football match in Kes, as to the bullying and mental degradation just inflicted by the teacher, let alone anyone else.
The beautiful game now splinters into two styles of play. The disassociated, running around of the untouchable. Hoping to the high heavens that their occasional shuffling of position, ensures they neither suffer the horror of actually touching the ball, and that the member of staff in charge is to involved in refereeing the game to rarely notice that there are a number of zombies on the pitch trying their hardest to look like the other “normal” children, and hoping desperately that they are not spotted ball dodging. I think we actually kept score amongst the ball dodgers and if you touched the ball in a game you did almost become unclean amongst the lower cast for a week. Many thanks to a particularly sadistic PE teacher who actually, on noticing my particularly well thought out and choreographed version of ball dodging, stopped the match and insisted I have the ball. Please don’t even try and measure the level of ridicule, and disdain, I received.
The other style of football being played by the “Footie Alpha Males”. This was something , even now, but mostly at the time, I could never understand. It is, I truly believe, the whole point behind why we (the English) have done so badly in international football competitions as a nation for the last forty years.
The style I am referring to is the loud shouting aggressive individuals who, in complete negation of the rest of the team, seek the glory for themselves. There are in most professional teams those few tat once they have the ball, rather than actually looking to see how well they can use it to the advantage of the rest of their team, immediately become the focus of the effort and insist on trying to take the thing forward and score the goal themselves. The prima Dona syndrome. How many post match analysis conversations have I had to endure in the PE changing rooms where the “Better” players boast about their exploits and how the team would not have done as well without them. I see it in the professional matches I occasionally watch bits of when down the pub. Give the ball to one person and they have to try and take it forward to goal to get the glory of the goal.
Much like a military campaign. You may have tanks, and planes, and snipers, all with very different skills and weaknesses, but what is the point of putting a sniper forward when they have no artillery and infantry to back them up? The sniper may achieve some strategic targets but the sniper with the rest of the team is much more effective when used cohesively.
Finally Flags, and patriotism. I have no problem at all with an individual displaying their countries flag with pride. I do object to the “Fair Weather” patriotism that is displayed whenever some British tennis player, or football team or any other excuse brings out the jingoistic brow beating flag waving stupidity. A Dutch (Nederlander) friend of mine had Guinness tipped over her head during a previous world cup just because she came from Holland, and was in the wrong pub at the wrong time.
We quake at the pictures of hoards of fundamentalist Muslims chanting and beating themselves in the Middle East. Yet revel in the orgy of ecstasy performed when our world cup team score a goal.
Recently a work college asked me where my patriotism was? I replied that I live in the country and pay my taxes, that’s good enough for me.
I can’t put on the radio, watch television, or eat my breakfast without having the World Cup shoved down my throat.
I suppose the length and complexity of this piece suggests I do give a damn on the subject.
Please do take some time out from your orgiastic revelries to keep an eye on legislation passed in the next few weeks. Paranoid or not the fact that ninety nine percent of the general public are focused on the football, I would be trying to pass some less publicly popular laws whilst everyone has their back turned.
Rant End.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Who Shot That Albatross?

Final and absolute proof that I am cursed. I hold out on a job a friends offering me whilst another company (good interview) makes the decision to stick with contract people rather than go with permanent, the friend having to offer the job to someone else because he can’t wait. Not only can I not get the job that I’ve been doing for the last year in the local council (which I’ve just finished running the office by myself for a week in). But I get turned down by one of the local schools for a DBA job (too expensive, I think). Then a local college has my CV (read resume for USA). The manager, who wants to take the interviews personally, has fallen over and broken his hip, so is off work, and can’t take the interviews. In the meantime I am running out of time here because they will eventually present me with the person who did “interview well” and expect me to train them in the job.

Rope, gun, sharp knife, razor blade anyone?

To be honest if I shot myself I’d miss. If I tried to hang myself the rope would break, or be too long. The razor or the knife would be blunt. I’d crucify myself if it wasn’t for the problem of the last nail (note to self “must copyright the idea for self nailing crucifix”). I’d throw myself from a tall building but would probably bounce, or worse just break my spine and live on as a paraplegic (nothing against paraplegics, but given the choice I would rather not be one, I know most paraplegics aren’t given the choice, or would have loved the choice if one had existed at the time of the accident, I’ll shut up now I think!). I’d throw myself in front of a bus or train but they’d probably swerve and miss.

Picture a brilliant, bright, sunny day over Portsmouth with one tiny rain cloud, me underneath. Picture darkness following my every step. Picture accidents occurring around me, servers fail, airplanes fall out of the sky, just never on me.
Believe it or not the logon to the blogger server failed half way through me trying to post this, my PC locked me out and I had to re-start everything again. So sod Damian and that 666 rubbish, the day of the meekon5 is at hand. Da da da daaaaa!
I may as well go and eat worms!
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