Friday, September 19, 2008

Nothing to declare but my Genius

I downloaded iTunes 8.0 the other day, it has a new application called Genius which is a bit like Pandora.

Recorded music must be incredibly data-rich: volume, notes, melodies and harmonies can all be quantified so with enough time and money presumably you can get right to the DNA of any song. Then with clever maths, it should be possible to build a full picture of what music you like and might like in the future.

Genius does two things mainly – the first is to create play lists of songs based on a chosen track. It’s good, if you want to make a quick CD for the car and have a mood in mind, it’ll rustle up a decent compilation for you.

It’s not been created for altruistic reasons, of course. The other thing Genius does is try to recommend other songs you might like to buy from, um, the iTunes Store.

So, I click on Hey Boy, Hey Girl by the Chemical Brothers and it suggests Hey Boy, Hey Girl (Radio edit). I click on Pare Cochero by Orquesta Aragon from my definitive Cuban anthology and it suggests La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin and Shakira. An album by early nineties hip hoppers The Goats, returns a suggestion that I might like to buy an album by a band called The Boats.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic observations

I haven’t posted for a while, for (not serious) reasons that may become clear, but here are some Olympic observations:

I’ve been wrestling with the concept of cheating in sport for a while; most of me believes that the Corinthian spirit should prevail. But this year’s Tour de France was not as interesting an entertainment spectacle as the years when people are being thrown out over drugs.

What’s more, there is no doubt that science is now central to sporting success – why, then, is chemically enhanced performance wrong, when enhancements through nutrition, engineering and technology are OK.

I have come to the conclusion that cheating is entirely legitimate in professional sport – afterall, if you’re not cheatin’ you’re not trying. That’s not to say it should be legal – if you get caught and thrown out, then you’ve tried and failed, and should pay the consequences. Sorry, Dwain Chambers.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that sport is more interesting when you’re good at it. Which brings me to the point…

Is it worth it?
One of the broadsheets ran a chart outlining the amount of money each medal cost us. How typically British. Something like £300 million was invested in the Olympic team in the last four years. On the radio someone said that this would buy you ‘quite a few hospitals’.

It wouldn’t. A big hospital has a budget of around £200 million-a-year, the investment in sport is chicken feed by comparison. But the impact is huge and the success is amazing.

Look at it another way; we have a medal for every 1.2 million people in this country; compare that to China (12 million), USA (4 million), Germany (2 million) and Russia (1.4 million). We have a gold for every 3.2 million, (against China (36 million), USA (13 million) and Germany (5 million)).

It means our personal investment in being successful at sport is relatively small. Yes, there are other things you can spend money on, but we should be investing in our collective esteem.

Team GB
I like the concept of Team GB – that every British competitor in every sport wears the same tracksuit and carries the same badge. We are one team – I like that sense of unity. It says something about us as a nation – that whether you’re winning gold medals or coming last, you’re part of the same team. We’re not only successful, but it’s a good kind of success.

Which sports
As the Games progress, we seem to be involved in increasingly bizarre sports. I rather like Steve Backley’s definition of an Olympic sport. The winner should be obvious - it shouldn’t have to be judged by experts (like, say, synchronised swimming). It should be the pinnacle of success in the sport (which would throw out football and tennis) and there should be legitimate competition across most, if not all continents (so, Baseball should be on the gallows).

Renewed acquaintances
On thing I love about the Olympics is watching a Czech woman winning skeet shooting at 8am on BBC1 a Tuesday. I will never hear of her again. I like that (as I’m tying, Iceland are playing France in Handball. I also like the fact that every four years you come into contact with Dan Topolski – who is a brilliant commentator in the rowing. But in between Olympics’, I couldn’t place him in a line up. What does he do in the interim? Him screaming “THE BRITISH ARE COMING” until he was hoarse during the coxless fours is my lasting memory of the Games.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Famous five adventures

So Max Mosley wasn’t involved in a Nazi orgy with five prostitutes, it was just a regular orgy with five prostitutes.

It’s difficult to know whether Mosley is stupid, highly principled or pompous beyond belief. I’ve concluded that he’s all three. On principle he’s right, he does have a right to privacy and what spanks his bottom is his business. But to pursue this principle through the courts with one of the arguments being - there was a simulated rape scene and rape is not commonly considered a Nazi torture – is spectacularly pompous.

However, in the end his reputation is not enhanced by the victory, those around him are hardly untouched by the debacle. His wife and children knew nothing of this hobby and doing what he did was rather like standing up at his daughters wedding and giving a speech on his top 10 favourite perversions. Taking it through the courts might protect future victims of this process, but for him and those around him, it was a stupid thing to do.

And that’s where it all meets. You’ve got to be pretty pompous to have principles because if you’ve got them, then presumably you expect people to live by them. But you’ve got to be pretty stupid to think that everyone will live by your own self-appointed unwritten and untold rules.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Toilet humour

Our offices are a 15 minute walk from the middle of town. Our nearest pub was voted one of Britain’s most dangerous and has exotic dancers on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Which begs the question; who goes to see exotic dancers on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon?

On Thursday the water people turned off the supply to the office to do essential maintenance work. We were allowed to take an extended lunch break to head down town to water ourselves.

When we got back it still wasn’t on. Inevitably, the thought of not being allowed to go to the toilet was enough to make everyone want to go to the toilet.

Slowly but surely the rules were bent as people started popping into the toilets. Eventually we formulated an informal rule…

“If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown get down town.”

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Raining men

We were listening to XFM on the radio today at work. OJ said he was enjoying it for a while but it was all getting a bit samey. I said that there was a band of purely pop music and a band of purely alternative-indie music. XFM’s music policy is a band in the middle that mixes the two. So while it initially sounds good and interesting and, well, alternative, ultimately it has all the things you hate about pop music (banal catchyness that drives you to distration).

“I blame Radiohead ultimately” I said, before expounding my theory that great art gets distilled and santised to the point where is palatable, but ultimately dull. Radiohead’s success ultimately lead to a cadre of epic-misery bands which eventually produced Coldplay, who ultimately created a range of epic-misery-pop-light bands.

“Yes” said OJ pondering the theory “There’s all these bands sit indoors singing about it raining, only Radiohead are actually out in the rain”.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Train of thought

Most of my train journeys are simple; Aylesbury to Marylebone and Marylebone to Aylesbury. I don’t bother checking timetables, I know that I can get from my front door to anywhere in London in two hours or less. I consider it my ‘home’ route, a bit like the M40 is my home motorway – when I’m on other motorways I feel I have to drive slower and be more aware of other drivers. The M40 feels safer somehow.

In recent weeks I’ve trained my way to Salford, Warrington and Birmingham. These three journeys require me to change trains. Naturally, I plan my route and know when to get off a train and what time my next train is.

But there’s something that continues to amaze me about actually completing a journey. I know this isn’t how it works, but I think it’s that somewhere in the back of my head, I’m amazed the train knows that I’m there and arrives at the right time to pick me up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Anaesthsia amnesia

The cat is ill. It may be serious, it may not. It’s not Feline AIDS nor Feline Leukaemia, nor is it an eminently treatable thyroid or kidney infection. There’s no tumour, it may just be a generic virus which can be cleared up with a generic antibiotic. While the vet has cloned our credit card (I can think of no other reason how he could have got hold of so much of our money in such a short period of time) scientists in Scotland are currently investigating.

She went in for a blood test and x-ray today. Emma was worried…

Me: “Why? She’s only going for a blood test and x-ray.”

Her: “What about if something bad happens when she’s under general anaesthetic?”

Me: “Why would she go under general anaesthetic? They won’t treat her until they’ve talked to us”

Her: “How else will they keep her still during the x-ray?”

Me (thinking): ‘We’ve had this discussion before

The car went in for a check up today after the ‘Check Engine Light’ came on again (then off, then on, then off again)… the car is not ill.

Monday, June 02, 2008

On a very quiet tube train...

You know those iPod adverts where people are dancing with abandon? Well, I’ve never done that exactly. I know the feeling though. I’ve stood on a solemn underground station platform staring into the middle distance whilst Electrobank by the Chemical Brothers has pulsated through my brain. Occasionally my foot might tap or my head might nod, I may even mouth the words. I have not, yet, danced.

Today, however, I did laugh out loud in a silent tube carriage. I downloaded Radio 5’s Fighting Talk podcast. An Australian comedian whose name escapes me made it to the ‘Defend the un-defendable’ final. At the start, the host Colin Murray introduced him as ‘the comedian who makes me fear for my job every time he comes on’.

The un-defendable position he had 60 seconds to defend was… “Ashley Cole vomited whilst having sex… vomit is a key part of my lovemaking because…”

He paused…

“Sometimes you need lube”

I just count myself lucky that snot didn’t come out of my nose.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Generally not listening

Millie has an ear infection that just won’t go away. Emma takes her for her latest check up…

Emma: “the doctor said that we should review it in a couple of weeks, if it hasn’t cleared up then he’ll refer her to the hospital.”

Me: “Right.”

Emma: “He said that they might have to put her under general anaesthetic in order to have a look. I said I didn’t like the idea of that.”

Me: “General anaesthetic? That can’t be right”

Emma: “Well that’s what he said. He said that Millie was quite compliant so it might not be needed.”

Me: “Jesus, general anaesthetic just to have a look at an ear. It’s not that she’s suffering or can’t hear.”

Emma: “Well that’s what he said.”

Me: “But general anaesthetics are dangerous at the best of times, especially on small children, especially on small children with heart conditions.” [Ruffles considers that doctor may be part of grand conspiracy to steal children’s brains whilst under unnecessary anaesthetic.]

Emma: “Well that’s what he said.”

Me, furiously thinking: “I think we should get a second opinion on that, I know I’ll ask Spankee’s GP friend, see if he does this.”

Conversation continues for a few minutes in this vain before drifting into other topics and finally to silence.

Then there’s some more silence

And more.

Emma: “Hmm, maybe it wasn’t a general anaesthetic.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More than just a game

“Fate” is how Alex Ferguson described Manchester United’s victory over Chelsea on Wednesday. Fate it wasn’t, there was much more to it than that. A victory for Chelsea would have signalled the end of football and with it the end of history itself.

Manchester United’s victory was been built on a history of footballing success. It’s a story of famous heroes - Busby and Ferguson - and tales of derring-do – The Munich Air Disaster, the 1968 and 1999 European Cup Final’s. Only by travelling this journey have they built a position where they can compete with the best.

A victory for Chelsea, the nouveau riche of European football, would have forged the link between money and trophies. It would have removed the requirement to build success over time. In short, it would have proved that money buys trophies dismissing the precursor of being good at football.

This would have finally proved the triumph of science and logic over human endeavour, spirit and imagination. Why waste the effort and experience the tragedy to win trophies, when such triumphs can be achieved quickly, objectively and without waste?

Chelsea are an efficient, bullying, belligerent team. Strong and well drilled built and bought for the purpose of winning.

Manchester United are, by comparison, swashbuckling adventurers; risk taking and imaginative, brave and spirited. Had Chelsea triumphed the very thing that makes us human will have been defeated. And the thing that our own imagination has created: science, will have, finally turned on us.

This is what makes us people and more specifically British. We are a people whose essence is built on adventure. To leave an island for an unknown destination, as we once did, is a demonstration of imagination and spirit unparalleled. It is said that Britians love a gallant loser more than it does a winner. This isn’t true; Britains respect the adventurers’ spirit; to try is to and live. To succeed is merely a bi-product.

Presented to us on Wednesday was a vision of what might be. The master puppeteer Abramovich lording over his chosen court jesters. “Lamps and JT” the arrogant two-headed beast playing centre stage. The scent of burning flesh and impending doom was real as Terry stepped up to slaughter the innocent. Then, as though the Gods had mustered an ounce of strength he slipped allowing goodness to return. As if the great poets were writing the game, then Nicolas Anelka; the greediest footballer on the planet missed; the horror presented to us before we were returned to The Shire and safety.

I am no Manchester United fan; and they are hardly without criticism. They too have been enticed by logic over spirit and have been at the forefront of the movement to pull up the drawbridge to success. Our constant thirst to strive for logicality will see football’s inevitable decline with a small number of billionaire clubs competing and technology deciding every marginal ruling. Only Alex Ferguson stands between football and oblivion.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fat not phat

“How did he do it?” Asked the bloke at work as I described to him what I’d seen on ‘Half-Ton Dad’ on Channel 4.

It was an all-pervasive question; how did he get to weigh half a ton? How did he conceive a child? I can’t say I found out the full answer to either question. I turned over at the point they were slicing great slabs of his flesh from his thighs in the vain attempt at getting him under the svelte thirty stone mark.

I’ve seen programmes like this before where some of the ‘how did he do it’ questions are answered. There was one bloke who claimed that his pizzas were healthy because they contained all the main food groups. Now I don’t care how fat, stupid or American you are; surely everyone knows that vegetables, cheese, bread and meat are not main food groups.

Also there was the bloke became housebound so put his money in a bucket and lowered it to children down below so they could get his Kentuky Fried Chicken bucket. You would think that the first time you had to resort to such a drastic action would be the point at which you start to think you’ve got a problem to sort out.

So, how did he do it? He ate a shitload of food, that’s how he did it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dead bloggers society

Some bloggers finish their blogs having achieved something; losing weight, finding love etc. Some just go away – perhaps they’ve been rumbled and set up shop elsewhere, perhaps they realise that despite their best intentions, their lives are so cyclical, they’ve only got a few things to say. Perhaps they descend into some personal crisis.

Some, like me, plod on regardless of the number of visitors or whether you have anything interesting to say. I don’t like abandoned blogs, they unnerve me. I’m conscious that it looks like I’m abandoning this one, but it’s not true.

I’m suffering from bloggers block. I can’t get round to getting anything down. Since Christmas we seem to have been in a constant state of adjustment, any sense of routine (including the routine of posting) has been largely absent. In addition to, and perhaps because of, this constant (though in no mean bad) flux, I’m finding that I’m doing what I want to do rather than what I feel I have to do. So I’m not idly fiddling with my laptop when I really prefer to watch TV or read or go out and do something less boring instead.

Anyway, I’m here. But still not very interesting.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Analysis paralysis

Have you ever done that thing where you promise to pool all the photos you have from a wedding? It never seems to happen, even with the benefits of Flickr and their kin.

Have you ever thought about the number of photos you would have if you managed it? We took 43 decent photos at Spankee and Islay’s wedding last week. If that’s an average, you’re looking at over 4,000 in total, plus all the official photos. That’s a picture every 10 seconds.

And that’s just the visual stuff you capture, there’s also all the stuff you miss. Think of all the sounds, tastes and smells; think of all the interactions - millions and billions of them; most of which you have no idea about. You go to a wedding, but at the same time, you’re barely there at all. The Spankees had a ‘fake cake cutting’ photoshoot away from prying eyes – I only know this because as an usher I had the itinerary of the day, almost nobody else will know it happened.

Where else, but at a wedding, do you spend a day ‘stripping the willow’, chatting with a disillusioned tabloid photographer, finding out how difficult it is to edit articles for The Lancet, trying to identify whether those shoes were Jimmy Choo and trading jokes a minor celebrity?

And then there’s the effort, £1000 plus per hour to put the show on, every last experience, from the cake to the speeches to the flushing toilets provided by someone. And then there’s the bride and groom; the only people who truly know what’s going on and the focal point of the whole gig. Yet whilst so much is channelled through them; at the same time they are in an entirely separate bubble of their own bewildered happiness. At the end of the night, as people prepared to board the coaches back to the hotel, I left Spankee and Islay standing practically on their own in the middle of the dancefloor smiling widely, but apparently unable to know what to do next.

This is why weddings blow my mind. A hundred or so people, many of whom you don’t know and never will, but whose lives are separated from your own by just one or two people. You eat with them, dance with them, talk to some of them, hell, you even pray with them; yet you’ll never really know them.

Perhaps it’s not wise to analyse these things. All I can say is that Spankee’s wedding was one of the best I have ever been to. With infuriating logicality, he pointed out that nobody was going to say anything different. He’s right, as he usually is (whether it’s how mobile phones work or choosing a wife) but if we have a friendship based on anything it’s probably on house music, but otherwise it’s honesty. And it was a great day. He even said something nice about me and our friends that bashfulness ensured I forgot the moment he said it.

Alex James says that you shouldn’t know why your friends are your friends. If you do, then they’re not your friends, they’re your fans. I’ve tried analysing why my friends like me (indeed, if my friends like me), but have come to the conclusion that this isn’t my concern, I simply know who my friends are and how much I like them. And with that I’m quite content.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The sickness inside

I’ve been feeling unwell all week, at first I thought I’d just overdone it at the gym, then a cold took over, then flu, then you get to a point where you don’t know what is illness and what is a result of the illness. So is the sore throat a virus, or because of the coughing?

On Thursday, amidst all this, I saw a light on the dashboard of my car. I looked in the manual it said “Engine light”. Initially I took this to mean that the light in my engine was broken – which didn’t seem too troublesome. It then dawned on me that a) I don’t ever remember seeing a light in my engine and b) that was a fairly minor thing to be flagging up on your dashboard alongside things like revs, speed and engine temperature.

Checking further it suggested that something was wrong with my engine and that I should take it to a garage. This I did, where they plugged a computer into a slot I didn’t realise I had, took a reading and checked it on a database. Apparently it was indicating some sort of oil leak. They thought the car may have ‘thrown its toys out of the pram’ and so the warning may be a misreading. They turned the light off and sent me on my way.

The computer was cool though, I was tempted to see if they would put it up my bottom to take a reading to see what was wrong with me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Probably better never than late

I know what you’ve been thinking; what happened to The Ruffs? The annual rundown of my favourite albums of the year. Well, to tell you the truth, I forgot to post it. So here it is:

1. Maths and English – Dizzee Rascal
2. The State of Things – Reverend and the Makers
3. Suck my Deck – A Bugged Out Mix – Simian Mobile Disco
4. Kala – MIA
5. A Bugged Out Mix – Klaxons
6. Hats off to the Buskers - The View
7. Fabric Live 33 – Spank Rock
8. Hourglass – Dave Gahan
9. Cansei De Ser Sexy – Cansei De Ser Sexy
10. Yours Truly, Angry Mob – Kaiser Chiefs

Past winners: 2006, 2005, 2004.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stars in the aisles

We’ve got Tesco just down the road from us. Barely a day goes by when we don’t pop in for supplies. Tonight, whilst perusing the asparagus, a vision caught my eye.  Actually, to be perfectly honest, the asparagus is on a low shelf, and as a result I was initially struck by this woman's curvaceous booty. She was wearing a skirt which barely covered her essentials. She had curves like Jessica Rabbit. She had a main of braided hair. Everything about her was turned up to 12.

At first she was just startling looking. Then as I glanced up, and looked away, and up again, and looked away again… I began to piece together her familiar face in my mind. It matched a face I’ve seen before. Improbably, it was Makosi from Big Brother 5. At the self-service till, she kicked up a stink because she couldn’t get anything to scan. I felt like contacting Heat there and then.

I walked up the road and past the Islamic school. It was kicking out from this evening’s lesson. A small Asian boy, fresh from being spiritually enriched, was singing along to his iPod. As I passed I heard him rapping “…your mother is a ho”.

This doesn’t happen every day in Aylesbury.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Plumbing the depths

Recently we decided that we needed some more space and started investigating the possibility of having a loft conversion. We don’t want to move but could do with a little more space. We were told that it would look like someone had dropped a shed on our roof. Casually, Emma looked at a couple of websites to see what else we could get for our money. We had a look round one house and then… our house bit back.

Firstly, the toilet overflowed, inconveniently I was in Belgium on a stag do and Emma, her dad and our nice-bloke-but-terribly-disorganised plumber - “Plumbing’s an art form, not a science” - battled to bring the thing under control.

I was walking around Brussels taking phone calls and texts about the ensuing disaster. First I would get accusatory calls saying that we would have to throw money at the problem in a ‘don’t you fucking dare even challenge me’ kind of way. It was the only practical answer, obviously. Then I would get a text saying “I know it’s not your fault”. Then I would get another text saying “Call me urgently”.

When I asked why I had to call, Emma’s response was “Well I wasn’t going to pay for it”. Which rather suggests that I had to pay and that, ergo, it was considered to be my fault.

On Thursday a pipe started dripping in an awkward-to-get-to place. We calculated that the dripping would fill the only bowl that would fit the space every hour and a half. So, every 90 minutes throughout the night, we took turns to go down stairs and empty the bowl. “It was worse than breast feeding” said Emma, possibly not referring to the incessant dripping.

The dripping pipe was fixed by the plumber and his monkey wrench. This has once again highlighted an apparent failing of mine – my inability to do DIY. It is considered a source of some hilarity that I am no good at DIY. I admit, had I had a bit more time and application, I should have trained to be a master plumber, carpenter and all round builder. It is not so much that I’m not good at DIY, it’s that I chose not to do it. In the same way that people choose not to rear their own cattle for beef.

Instead, I buy it in. Ultimately, it is more expensive than doing it myself, but that’s why I go to work – to make money to pay for things I want (and don’t want e.g. a weekend of DIY). Strangely, however, being male and not doing DIY is, for some reason, considered effete. I say it’s a choice I have taken, it is fundamental to a functioning economy (specialisation and the exchange of monies) and that because I think like that I am the very essence of modern mankind – rational, specialised (and standing upright). It’s not an argument I often win.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ruffles gold... or Never mind the Ruffles, here's the bollocks

I don’t know where the year is going. Life is like a series of dials, turn one up and another goes down. If you don’t keep tweaking the dials you find one is turning itself up to max to the expense of all the others.

And so it is for me; the work dial has slowly turned itself up to the max eclipsing everything else. As a result I’ve been going to the gym less, football less, I’m getting home only 40 minutes before Millie goes to bed, then I eat and get back on the laptop. And, of course, I’ve been blogging less. I really need to readdress the balance.

So in an attempt to catch up a little, a few excerpts from some recently aborted drafts…

… The vilest spectacle at the Brits was The Brits School. It’s alumni – Kate Nash, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Adele, Mika all got exposure from their sponsors, cheered on by their peers who like the Aliens in Toy Story are waiting to be chosen for stardom.

Thank God then for James Nesbitt who announced the football scores before sneering ‘yeah , football’s big at the Brits School, isn’t it?’ before mouthing ‘wankers’ at the hysterical wannabes …

… The traditional stag do is outdated; the stags I know don’t actually want or need a last night of freedom because being with their partners is not considered any kind of purgatory. In fact, I’ve yet to see a naked woman on a stag do and would be quite scared if I did.

But a stag do is a noble thing; it should go back to fundamental principles and have the stag party ‘laying siege’ to a town of their choosing. Camping on its walls like a Roman garrison; stealing food and drink under the cover of darkness for sustenance. The townspeople should accept this law breaking for the greater principles it is demonstrating; men bonded, proving themselves as the hunter gatherers – a right of passage towards the next stage in their lives ...

... I like to ‘walk’ London because you hear and see the richness of life itself. A tour guide on Carnaby Street got the emphases in his spiel all wrong. The line I heard was “FROM 1964 PRACTICALLY ALL THE SHOPS on Carnaby Street WERE [pause] clothes SHOPS”…

If emphasis is designed to bring out the important components of the sentences – he basically said that “FROM 1964 PRACTICALLY ALL THE SHOPS WERE SHOPS”…

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I say, I say, I say

I see that Fabio Capello has declared he’s the not the new messiah

Presumably that then makes him a very naughty boy.

Thankfully, GMTV are keeping me up to date with the presidential elections. Apparently on Tuesday Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had spent the night ‘winning their victories’.

Why wouldn’t they? These are the best kind of victories.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Costa losta

A few months ago I started getting a Costa Coffee Latte with my petrol. Then it became my Friday morning treat. The same bloke served me every week. Just prior to Christmas he engaged in some light discussion.

I went in a couple of times over Christmas, he asked me how my Christmas was, then how my New Year was and when I was going back to work. I wasn’t wholly comfortable with this. He was being nice, and my discomfort was my failing not his. I’m just not very good at small talk and we had few shared experiences on which to hook any conversation – he knows I like Lattes, he knows I was wearing shorts on boxing day, I know he get ‘fucking pissed off’ when he spills steaming hot milk all over his trousers. Beyond this there was little to discuss.

Still, he pursued the friendship, he started serving me large Lattes not regular as requested, and he even gave me two complimentary chocolates rather than one. It was all getting a bit Brokeback.

I haven’t been in for a couple of weeks, last week I was ill and just didn’t feel like a coffee. The week before I was in meetings and was Latte’ed up to the eyeballs. This morning I went in… and he didn’t recognise me. He just served me a regular Latte and didn’t even ask me how I was. We have drifted apart. Having not liked the fact he tried to engage in discussion with me; I now don’t like the fact he ignored me. I am never happy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It'll be all white on the night

Following Louis Theroux trip to San Quentin Jail, where he met a married neo-Nazi with two children who was having a non-physical homosexual relationship with a gay jewish man in make-up, one could only conclude ‘only in America’.

Except, last night I stumbled across BNP Wives, which did exactly what it said on the tin. I couldn’t work out whether it was shocking or funny. One lady said that the difference between white Europeans and Asians was that (and I have to confess, I didn’t know this) ‘they look after their cars, we look after our houses’ – she fully expected the UK to become a Muslim state as the result of ‘a war… or something’.

Another was seen protesting about the opening of a Mosque, nobody seemed interested in signing their petition. One lady said she wasn’t bothered if there was a Mosque in the area to which the BNP wife responded under her breath ‘you will when they rape you’. Later she was confronted with someone who tried to prize a reasoned argument as to why the Mosque shouldn’t be built; the answer was: ‘we’ll lose four municipal car parking spaces’.

And then there was the BNP Wife who was flyering around a neighbourhood. She said that she didn’t deny the holocaust, she just questioned the numbers (having read a book called ‘Did 6 million jews really die in the holocaust?’ – it’s not on Amazon. Which, unless it was 5 people of varying backgrounds who died of old age, is surely a technicality. She did say that some good had come from it – dentistry and plastic surgery, for example.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New look

New Year means resolutions, I’ve tried formulating some SMART objectives, but I can’t quite nail it. Like most people, I want to be better than I was last year. I’m just not sure in what ways.

I want to swear less, Millie was quick to copy me saying ‘tractor’, it will be markedly less sweet if she comes out with ‘fucker’ over the next few months.

I want to stay fit; I’m already a gym regular and have had a clean bill of health on both my teeth and, by some miracle, eyes. I’ve been going to the gym for about 3 and a half years, but it’s still a daunting ugly prospect. I figured I should get some new kit to make me feel better.

I found some trainers, which literally overnight dropped £30 in price (and were only available in my hard to find size 10.5), so I bought them. I didn’t know whether they were any good, or even if they were suited to my needs. According to the website they were for ‘neutral’ running. I looked everywhere to find out what neutral running was – perhaps it was Swiss. Perhaps it was a new fangled exercise programme I don’t understand – like ‘core fitness’. Eventually, by downloading the Mizuno catalogue did I find out its true meaning. Apparently it just means it doesn’t have any specific purpose.

I also bought some ClimaCool Adidas shorts. They’re a bit like cycling shorts but I wear them under my normal shorts. Again, I had no idea if they were any good, but sometimes on the rowing machine my boxers show out the bottom of my shorts and it’s a bit unsightly. The blurb said that they have physiological and psychological benefits to performance which basically means that, although they are generally more comfortable, they have no real purpose apart from making you feel like you might start looking like John Arne Risse.

I’m torn by buying kit in January. On one hand it tends to be in the sales, on the other, you simply look like one of those new resolution numpties who think buying the kit takes you half way to running a marathon.

Those people are the ones who buy exercise DVDs. They’re not short of choice there’s the minor, previously fat, celebrity who starves herself to death type. There’s also the novelty exercises – today I saw an advert for a pole dancing DVD called ‘Poleercise’ and a Strictly Come Dancing DVD called; wait for it – Strictly Come Dancingercise. Surely you can’t legitimise exercise regimes by simply tagging ‘ercise’ on the end of something. Otherwise I’m going to make a new DVD called lager and kebabercise.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hunting and gathering

I lie in wait in the dark recesses of the forest. My pray is sitting alone in an open pasture. I have spent time firstly finding it, then tracking it; the kill is nearing.

But as I sit watching my vulnerable prey, a prey that will not fight my attack, I know that others may be sitting in the shadows. I may not be alone.

The minutes tick by. I could attack early to draw out my foes. Too early, however, I may find myself facing something I can’t handle. If I sit here, someone may attack when I’m not ready.

The silence is deafening; all I can hear is my own breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Should I just attack? Let the frenzy begin? I know that more experienced hunters wait.

Eventually, I decide to attack…

And as a result I won my first ebay auction. I’ve never been a big bargain hunter so ebay hasn’t really held me like it has others, but I have been usurped in a couple of auctions.

OK, so it was a CD, it was £1.99 and I was the only bidder. But, hell, it was exciting

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

So that was Christmas?

I haven’t yet joined le grande return, as the French might enigmatically say. Christmas and New Year were pretty fragmented. We weren’t really prepared, finishing just three days before Christmas day. Millie got Chicken Pox. Three walks were cancelled, as was a Boxing Day party. We missed The Big Friends Night Out due to babysitting technicalities. Even Millie’s immense Christmas day nap meant that we didn’t get to unwrap all her presents.

Which makes it all sound like a disaster, which it wasn’t. Dinner at the Dobscrubs, Christmas Eve with the babies, Boxing Day football and Christmas Dinner were all good (Christmas Dinner was officially The Best Ever). It was just that when we actually managed to engage with the festivities, we seemed to bounce along the surface rather than delve right in.

For New Year we managed to disengage totally. As last year, we decided to do nothing, but this year we surpassed ourselves with nothingness. Following a nice meal, Emma decided to go to bed at 10.30 (learning from last year that snoozing on the settee and going to bed at 12.05 does not a New Year party make). I was supposed to go and wake her just prior to the chimes.

Nothing was on TV so I put on my new DVD copy of Depeche Mode’s 101. At 11.55, halfway through the film, I ventured upstairs. Emma didn’t respond to my calling… so I went downstairs and continued to watch the DVD whilst she slept on oblivious.

Party on. 

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