Friday, September 30, 2005

The Car out side my house - some one had a bad day!!

Car outside my house Posted by Picasa

This is the car outside of my house this morning. I hasten to add it's not my car, thank god. But someone, looks like they have seriously pissed someone off. Theres paint all over it, the tires are slashed, the wing mirrors are broken, they front windsheild is busted, by the brick thats on the bonnet, the wipers are not going to wipe for a while. I considered calling the police, but I guess if the owner see's it they will be doing that or going after someone with a baseball bat.

The good bit of news is that not only did I take the picture with my new mobile phone, but that I emailed it to myself as well via the phone, now the only thing I have to work out, is will there be an extra charge for the email on my bill, before I get all enthusiastic! Maybe I better just bring my cable to work and upload the pictures that way, but its just not so techie and exciting is it?

Monday, September 26, 2005

woogle - its fun!

Hello all, having just spent a bit of time having a look around the blogosphere, I found a great link on another great site called Bacon and EH's which is a funny canadian blog (is that an Oxymoron I wonder?) No its really funny and the owner puts in a lot of work listing great links like the one I'm going to tell you aboout now.

Its called Woogle, yes its a little like google in that you enter a well known phrase or saying, or even your own random thoughts into the search box and you will get back a pictorial representation of your written stuff.

Now you can probably guess as this is the internet, if you put in the term 'Pussy' you can probably bet your bottom doller that the pictorial result you are going to get back is going to be sleazy, I put in 'Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, where have you been' (quite innocently) and ZOWEEEE! DO NOT pass this link to your innocent young children and those in your care.

I did do pictures that I wanted to post based on 'Doc Robs Blog Spot' but I couldn't do it without busting up my template, I am such a technomoron. O well you can always woogle that, I promise it is kid safe.

Anyway its fun - promise

Friday, September 23, 2005

Found Art

found art, and it was in the back room all the time!!! Posted by Picasa

Because my computer has not been 100 per cent these last few days and me not being able to blog, my mind has had to occupy it self, not only with work, but with other things.

I have also been watching ‘Art School’ on TV as well, this is where 4 well known celebrities have been to Chelsea Art School for two weeks learning how to become artists and will (tonight, in the gripping finale) show their work.

Also last week I was looking at a few blogs, as you do, to while away a few minutes whilst at work and many of them are owned by quite arty people, people who always seem to have their digital camera with them to take those arty and amusing shots, people who collect pictures of graffiti, and ‘street art’, there was also someone who collected all the old bits of cassette tape he found discarded on the streets of Paris (I think) and then stuck them together to make new sounds, I guess he would end up with a collage of Maurice Chevalier, Edif Piaf, Johhny Haliday, MC Solaar and Plastic Bertrand (although I think he’s Belgian!).

There also seem to be a lot of people into ‘found art’. No its not people who have found lost old masters that have been lifted from various chateaus and stately homes, stuffed under a sack in the back of a transit van, its people who have the artistic ‘eye’ to see art in the everyday and the mundane. Apparently even real artists like Duchamp and Picasso used found art, probably when they couldn’t be arsed to draw something or they were a bit tired after a night on that green stuff that makes you hallucinate (now I know its not pesto, but I can’t remember the name just at this moment!)

Theres a guy here who seems to have got the idea

Anyway as I had sometime on my hands, I thought that I would give it a try, I would start my art career out by being a ‘found artist’! So I got myself togged up in the required fisherman’s smock, with those handy pockets for putting things in and black beret, for the arty look and off I went eyes wide with anticipation!

So here’s what I got:

24 walkers crisp packets
50 cigarette butts
two bags of leaves
a conker
3 prophylactics (1 used, 2 unused)
one half sucked sweetie
a coca cola can, slightly rusted
one pair of knickers
turd (probably dogs)
some dirt
a feather
one sack containing some oily scrawl on canvas signed by someone called Pollock or is it Bollocks I can’t quite make it out

But what I want to know, is it art?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Brain Dead - A Warning from Hell....

Good Morning one and all, the bad news is that my hard drive died on Monday so I have been brainless for the past few days. Now I have my computer back with a brand new hard drive but the stress and the anguish of nearly losing ALL my data, all my work for the last 6, yes 6 years has underlined and bought into focus the prime directive of using these infernal machines - back up, BACK up, BACK UP!!! I’m off to buy myself a 0ne gig memory stick right now!

T’was a saga and a half when my disk died. The techie guy said if they were lucky they would be able to recover the data, they later phoned and said yes they had recovered my data and put it on a disk. But O my, the ONLY file on the disk they gave me was one that had my name, automatically created by the machine, but which I didn’t use! It was full of junk. I quickly phoned them again and told them that the 6 years worth of data was to be found in other files, the ones they hadn’t copied.

Oh, they said, ‘we’ve sent the disk back with the technician and if he sends it of to ‘not Very good computers ltd’ it’ll be lost, crushed, sent off into space or whatever they do with corrupted disks. AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH, I said.

Anyway the short end of the story is they got the disk back and hopefully have recovered all the data, I haven’t looked yet, because I am off to Bristol shortly and wanted to get this blog done as a warning to you all out there, don’t forget to BACK UP YOUR DATA, it could happen to you in the next 10 minutes!

Anyway here’s a poem I found in a school last night when I was teaching, I thought it was apposite.

Life before computers
An application was for employment
A Program was a TV show
A Cursor use a profanity
And a keyboard was on a piano

Memory was something you lost with age
And a CD was a bank account
And if you had a corrupted disk
It would hurt when you found out

Compress was something you did to garbage
Not something you did to a file
And if you unzipped anything in public
You’d be in jail for a while

Log on was adding wood to a fire
A hard drive was a trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And a back up happened on the commode

Cutting you did with a pocket knife
Pasting you did with glue
The web was where a spider lived
And a virus was the flu!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Youth and Beauty versus Wealth – no contest!

Last night because of the dearth of anything to watch on TV and because my Ukrainian wife cannot understand why our TV’s are full of DIY programmes, documentaries, quizzes, cooking programmes and reality shows rather than the sorts of light entertainment programmes that went out of fashion with programme makers in the mid 1980’s and are still very popular in Ukraine we watched The Sound of Music.

It’s a very good musical in its way and I know that it has received cult status but doesn’t the main plot, boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love but boy already has lover etc jar a little on closer examination?

I mean lets examine this a little bit. The film starts with a young girl in a convent, she’s a bit ‘off her head’ indeed she is a ‘flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown! The Nuns go on to tell us that Maria is in fact : gentle! She is wild! She's a riddle! She's a child! She's a headache! She's an angel! She's a girl!

So Maria is, in the analysis of the older nuns and mother superior, an angel, a girl and a child, and I think the subtext here is that she’s also a VIRGIN (gasp – well it is the end of the 1930’s as well).

So because she hasn’t got into the habit of being a nun they send her off to be a governess in a Captains house – well we all know what sailors are (free and easy, bright and breezy etc etc). But this Navy Captain ain’t so free and easy, bright and breezy, until this bright and young bit of skirt enters his life.

Now the said Captain, like all good sailors has a girl in every port and in Vienna he is wooing a Baroness with a pot load of money (even though he seems to have potloads too) but she’s old!

Pretty soon she’s getting the cold shoulder while this old rouĂ© (who has 7 children already, one of whom is sixteen, so he would probably be pushing 40 at least (to be kind!) especially being a brave and famous Captain of a ship) is gazing cow eyed at the pretty virgin skipping about his front garden (and the double bonus is she used to be a nun! How erotic is that – or is that just me?)

So the fairly good looking and trim and stinking rich baroness is given the cold shoulder while Captain Sinbad here quickly grabs himself the Virgin, goes on a months honeymoon, possibly to give her the sacraments of her life, and then escapes from the Nazis and lives happily ever after.

Now who says art doesn’t imitate life, or is it the other way around?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Freshers Fair

Here, at this august emporium of knowledge and learning, like migrating wildebeest, the students are returning from their long hot summers in Goa, Phuket and Rock. The new additions to the herd, the ‘fresher’, are easy to spot. They are wearing their newest/oldest funkiest clothing to make a good first impression and to stamp their new student identity on whom so ever may want to cast an envious eye over them. The tee shirt with the oh so ironic comment on it, the brand new hideously expensive trainers finangled out of grandpa, the GAP sweatshirt bought by uncle and aunty for 'passing your exams', the denim jeans showing just enough underpant or thong.

They are also being shadowed at a discreet distance, having been told not to walk ‘too close’ by their offspring so as not to damage the independent image too much, by nervous but relieved looking parents carrying twenty or so supermarket bags full of important provisions that will ensure that the fledging will not actually starve to death in the first week or spend all their money on phone in pizzas.

That the said bags contain lots of healthy food and drinks that have been specially chosen by the concerned mum and dad is immaterial to the fresher as they have already planned in their minds eye that they are going to spend the next three years eating nothing but pot noodles and baked beans in order to have enough money to drink themselves into oblivion every night.

The foods contained in the bags will probably only be consumed should the male student cop off in his first week and invite the female back to his place where she will discover all the goodies and proceed to prepare them all. The female fresher, of course will, like the good girl she is, eat everything her mum and dad bought her and then within the next week join the goth soc, lose her virginity, get a tongue piercing, dye her hair pink and dress only in black, sending all the nice clothes her aunts and uncles bought her to go to uni in to the Hunt Sabs socs jumble sale and become a committed vegetarian.

As soon as the fresher has been allocated the room and all the bags have been transferred from the back of the car the parents are with out ceremony wished goodbye and sent on their way. For the first time, the student is on their own. The poky student room feels like a New York Loft, all this space, all the walls to cover, my own bed all the fun to be had, what fun, what freedom.

Meanwhile as the car carrying mum and dad hits the motorway out of town, they wipe away the tears that had been raining down their cheeks, the tears of joy as they realised that at long last they had been relieved of the monster that had been sharing their house since puberty hit at 13 or so. No more moods, no more arguments, no more sitting up all night wondering where the monster was, till this time in the morning!!!! They now had their own house back, all this space, the walls to redecorate, their own bed, what fun, what freedom, and no more whispered orgasms!

Yes there’s a lot to be said about getting a higher education!!!

Walking and health update.

Tuesday was an average day walking, not much to report about 6,500 steps so didn’t make my goal but yesterday was worse. I was up at 4:00am having to drive to Wales to do some work, I had to be in a school at 8:45 so had to be on the road by 5:00am. This is an unhealthy life, only about 4,500 steps all day, just sat on my arse in a car. So that’s only 10,000 steps in two days! Here’s what I ate yesterday whilst driving.
2 Apples (good start)
1 grande latte and 2 croissants (at a garage for breakfast))
1 chocolate muffin and 1 medium latte (in a supermarket waiting for appointment as I was early)
1 bottle diet coke (lemon)
1 packet Cheese and Onion Crisps (whilst driving)
(By this time the amount of caffeine that I had imbibed not only had me wired but desperate to go for a wee all the time because it’s a diuretic as well! – I usually drink de-caff)
A peach
3 slices of toast when I got home
decaff tea x 1
An apple
A Boost chocolate bar
One big bowl of borsch with potatoes in it. With a bread roll.
Some vodka, about three fingers – relaxing in the bath..

It’s like I’m on that programme ‘you are what you eat’, maybe I’ll have to keep a food diary to as well as a walk diary. Because as I can clearly see in this list if I only removed a few things from it my diet would be quite healthy.

Oh well today’s another day and you don’t want to know what I ate today!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

'Another Way' Natwest and the case of the £1 overspend

"Another way"
Posted by Picasa

‘ROYAL Bank of Scotland (owners of NatWest) have announced pretax profits rose 14 per cent to £3.7 billion in the first six months of this year (2005)’

I give you this statement after just fielding a telephone call from one of NatWests (O joy, Word does not like ‘NatWests’ and the spell check has offered me ‘Nitwits’ instead, you can guess the tone of this blog right from the off) Customer Service Manager who broke the good news to me that they would not be charging me a further £56 pounds on top of the £28 that they have already charged me.

My crime, my account went £1 and 06p overdrawn. Yes that right, I’ll spell it out I went One Pound and six pence overdrawn whilst I was away on holiday in Ukraine. (For American readers that’s about $2) Heinous isn’t it. I am such a spendaholic me, spend spend spend with no thought to how the bank will cope, what with their £3.7 billion profits and all.

And pray tell me, who else is fed up of being patronised by 20 year old ‘Customer Service Officers who tell you that you shouldn’t have ‘overspent’ and that I should have ‘managed my account so that I would not have gone overdrawn’. The fact that I actually didn’t go overdrawn on purpose but the vagaries of the exchange rates and the fees charged for using your ATM card abroad actually slipped me over into the disastrous sum of £1 and 6p!

That the 20 years old financial wizard in front of me at the bank couldn’t comprehend this and just kept patronising me and repeating that ‘the banks terms and conditions states…’ like some sort of lunatic automation didn’t help my mood one iota, especially when they pointed out that the combined charges for my £1 error would in fact be £84!

Then like all good female customer service operators everywhere she upgraded her attack , from the customer is a simple imbecile from whom we can extort money just by stating terms and conditions to he’s an aggressive male whose language and behaviour has become inappropriate so we will terminate the session. (I admit that I was aggrieved and accused the female of patronising me, but I did not shout or swear or make any moves that could be construed as aggressive its just she had no where else to go with such a dead end argument and I was not going to just roll over and give her the money.)

So the Customer Service Manager marches in all smiles and conciliatory language, like the snake in the Jungle Book but without the eyes. She also attempts to patronise me by ‘just pointing out the rules and regulations of ‘un-permitted borrowing’. But it wasn’t un-permitted borrowing, it was just £1, due to me being on holiday and the exchange rate changes. Plus, as I told her as I had been banking since I was about 16 and was now quite old, I actually did understand how banks worked without her giving me the potted Janet and John version specially written for imbeciles. But my point was that a fee of £84 for a small mistake of £1 was nowhere near the realms of fair or good business practise. – She didn’t agree.

And we had to agree to disagree, because apparently, while she would have been very happy to have sold me the financial services provided by the bank, such as Mortgage’s, Insurances, Loans and so on probably up to and beyond the value of £250,000 there was nobody, yes NOBODY not even the Manager, in the Bank who could authorise stopping the said £84 charge. Isn’t that remarkable?

A special request had to be presented to some office somewhere or other up country, where probably some VERY IMPORTANT person would discuss and consider the request by the Customer Service Manager to write off the said £84 fee. Which of course they haven’t done, they still feel the need to slap me on the wrist, admonish me to the tune of £28 while at the same time pretending to have done me a favour by writing off the further £56 fee and explaining it to me again as if I am a two year old, all for the sake of me being £1 06p overdrawn. I will attempt to get my £28 back too!


By way of an almost instantanious update I was so incensed at what I wrote, I called Natwets complaint line (NatWest - 0800 50 50 50) and the very nice man on the other end of the phone gave me my £28 pounds back too - isn't NatWest a wonderful bank, hey.....

(Oy who muttered hypocrite in the back there?)

Monday, September 12, 2005

A slight hitch but I continue hiking

The bad news is that my equipment has let me down once again! I think it was telling me lies. Because according to the pedometer I had done nearly 16,000 steps at close of play Friday evening. Serves me right I guess for trusting a piece of equipment given away cheap by the Daily Nail (name changed to protect the guilty and me from a libel case), that purveyor of right wing filthy lies.

No wonder I have been led astray by this little Judas in my midst. It would have continued to lie to me although the journey, it’s little digital numbers blinking away trustingly, the little comforting click click click of its pendulum, but all the time plotting and scheming behind my back. OH YES, I knew what it was up to right from the off, trying to lead me down the wrong path, so I would humiliate myself in front of my trusting readers and the watching world (including you, you lurkers) let me pause for a minute for my eyes to flash, my brows to furrow and to wipe the foamy spittle from my rabid lips.

Since nothing had dropped through my door on Saturday Morning from the huge pedometer corporations across the world (notably China and Taiwan) I resolved to buy a new one. One that I could trust, one that would become my friend, guide me yea through those dark valleys of the shadows, to climb every mountain and ford every stream, and comfort me on those dark nights away from home.

I searched the high streets and the low streets until in that wonderland of dreams we called Argos I finally found my friend, £9.99 cruelly reduced to £7.99 but all electric with seven, yes seven functions, with a good heart and a wet nose ready and willing to count steps in a truthful and honourable way.

I called him ‘Steppy’ and he has been strapped to my hip ever since, we are inseparable. (Except for when I am in bed, I am sorry but I make it a strict rule never to mix beds or baths with electrical implements, not since that fateful day when I was having a bath and fancied some toast! I can’t speak (yet) about the bed incident)

To the journey then:

Steps on Sunday 10,000, distance covered about 5.3 miles

I am now over the Tamar Bridge and into Cornwall striding out towards Bude and the Atlantic Ocean!

Onward into Cornwall Posted by Picasa

Even the signs attempt to humiliate Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 09, 2005

Best Laid Plans

Damn, who spotted the 'deliberate' mistake? Yes, I know, I've headed in the wrong direction, lets put it down to enthusiasm and my mojo not being 100%, I should be walking not into Dartmoor, but towards the broad Atlantic Ocean and Bude, which is where I will start walking on water.

The Road That Should Be Travelled Posted by Picasa

The Walk is on....

Like many famous adventurers before me, Dr Livingstone, Robert Falcon Scot, Eddy ‘the Eagle’ Edwards, ‘giving up’ are not words that easily come to mind when I have set myself a task. So like Ellen Macarthur I have found away to get back on track, and I didn’t even have to listen to any Dido to do it, although for the life of me I don’t understand, why with all the millions pumped into her projects, she can’t buy a boat that works, so she doesn’t have to keep shinning up the mast every time she crosses the southern ocean and then gurning into the cameras snivelling about it.

Yes last night I set about fixing the pedometer! How could I have faced the blogging world if I had fallen at the first hurdle (and as of yet none of the huge pedometer conglomerates have offered me the use of one, not even with the sweetner of me advertising their product for free, unless, of course, the offers are ‘in the post’).

After hours of poking about in the intricate workings of the machine, I found that a piece of plastic on the bit of plastic which holds down the battery had broken and thus the battery was not snug in its socket. This was swiftly repaired with a handy piece of cardboard and voila said pedometer was pedometering again. I had fixed the equipment and had thus saved the day, in the glorious tradition of adventurers every where, Royal Society please take note.

I have also spent this spare time doing some calculations for those anoraks who are so mathematically minded that they will follow the stats rather than the brave adventures.

It is 3130 miles from Plymouth to Plymouth, that’s 198316800 inches.
1 mile is 63,360 inches
My pedometer is set at 34 inches per step
That is 5832847 steps to Plymouth, Mass
At the recommended 10,000 steps per day that would take 583 days or 1.6 years.

Here is a map of the journey so far: 6000 steps and over 3 miles done!

Dr Rob's Walk, The Start Time 13:00 distance walked 3.2 miles Posted by Picasa

Journal Notes;

Phew it’s been all up hill so far, but me and mojo are coping well with the heat. Mutley Plain was difficult as it is well known for its abundance, of pubs, cafes and fast food joints, but we managed to avoid the worst of them, we are now striding out and headed for the wilds of Dartmoor. Our resolve is strong and we pray that the god of weather, Micheal Fish is on our side.

We leave you in good heart taking these true and mighty words as our motto, we won’t look back in anger, only forwards, ever forwards.

(Note: all apostrophe disasters are the work of the author, so please get on with your own work, you know who you are, and where were you when I needed someone to proof my Phd eh?)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Dr Robs Walk of his Life - The beginning

So the hippy Doctor has told me that I am too fat, too unfit and probably too old, and me and my mojo are on the scrap heap! As I have related below the darn doc refused steadfastly to give me any sort of body or mind altering drugs, going instead for the alternative therapy of shameing me into action, by metaphorically pointing at my waistline and lifestyle and going Ha!

But dear friends I am not put off or shamed that easily, as you know I am a researcher of (probably) international repute, indeed some people in America and even Ukraine know me and of course I am well known by the Portuguese intelligentsia and glitterati and here at home other brain boxes (like me) hang on my every word. I was sure that somewhere on the internet I would find the drugs that would see me and my mojo back on the road to full health and vitality.

You just would not believe what you can get on the internet, I was gob smacked! Everything from ‘erbal Viagra, to Chinese dried weeds that cure everything including that greatest symptom –Death! You can get stuff for Breast Enhancement (not needed thanks), Cellulite, Depression, (me depressed nah), Hair, (Lots thanks) Immune boosting, (maybe this is my mojo?), Menopause, (Not me!) Sexual (Female), Sexual (Male), (NOT ME RIGHT, OKAY, GOT THAT!), Weight Loss (Hmm maybe) and so on.

This one is for SELF SWEATING??? It contains: Cornus, Dioscorea, Rehammania dried and prepared, Poria Coco, Schisandra, Oyster Testa, Mantidis Octeca, Gardenia, Phellodendron, Anemarrhena. It helps stop the night sweating or self sweating without costly suegery (sic) What sort of mad Chinese suegery stops self sweating I might ask? And secondly do Oysters really have balls?

For a moment I was stymied, I’m not suffering from self sweating, well not at the moment, even though it is a bit close here in sunny Plymouth and I am not blooming likely to take ANYTHING which includes Oyster Testa and Rehammania which is Chinese Belladonna! So I had to search deeper and this is what I came up with a website called The Fat Man Walking No, hands of that mouse, no surfing there until I've finished thank you very much!
Precis: American Guy so Fat he can hardly walk to the nearest burger store with out puffing decides to take 6 months off to walk Route 66 (about 2,800 miles) to quote: ‘to lose weight and regain my life!’ (and get rich and famous in the process through book deals, selling tee shirts and other media things – I added this bit). Steve tells us that : ‘Being fat is physically and emotionally painful’ so he is ‘going to take six months out of my life and walk across the United States from San Diego to NYC.’ (Dr Rob empathises)

What a GREAT idea! I thought when I read about this mans epic journey to fitness and a 30 inch waist. I could do that I thought. So first thing last night I found my wife’s pedometer, gathering dust on a shelf somewhere and inputted the relevant data so I was ready to start Dr Robs Walk of his Life.

Dr Robs Walk of his Life: The Plan

The plan is for me and my mojo to walk from Plymouth, United Kingdom to Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States of Americky where the Pilgrim Fathers first landed to found the United States and become colonists forever. This is a distance of 3130 miles according to an online distance calculator. So yah boo sucks Fat Man!
Now before the comments box fills up I know that there is a slight problem here in that between the two Plymouths there is nothing but Ocean and as I haven’t, as of yet, been declared the new Messiah, I can’t walk on water. What I can do is metaphorically walk on water by plotting my journey on a map and adding up the miles I do on my pedometer.

So this morning I was ready, I had the pedometer strapped on, locked and loaded, I’d had a healthy breakfast of two apples and with a flippant wave over my shoulder to my wife and family set off on this great adventure. It was a bit humid, but I started of at a great pace with my mojo trotting at my heels.

By the time I had reached the office, my equipment had let me down, the pedometer wasn’t pedometering, and so I need to re-organise and search out a better pedometer that wasn’t £2.99 if you bought a particular Daily Newspaper that I would never in a million years have bought otherwise because of its right wing views.

ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITY. If there are any manufacturers of very good pedometers out there who would like to send me one to borrow for the duration of my quest I will gladly put a link to you on my blog and mention you every time I gave an update. Or if you are an individual who would like to donate your expensive but working (but unused) pedometer please contact me via the comments box – thank you very much. P.s. If its got an intregal MP3 player so much the better!

So Dr Rob’s Walk of his Life has stalled at the first hurdle. But stay tuned for the next exciting instalments of this great adventure.

The proposed route of my walk Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I blame the 1960's - me

Dr - Who???? No prizes for guessing Posted by Picasa

I went to the Doctors yesterday, ‘hello Dr. Rob’ he said, ‘I’m a Dr too you know’ ‘I know’ I said ‘That’s why I’ve come here to talk to you about my health’ ‘O’ he said and got all professional by putting his stethoscope around his neck, unclipping the blood pressure thing, fiddling with his computer, like he knew what he was doing and putting a spaniel like look on his face, ‘So’ he said in the sympathetic voice they had taught him at medical school ‘what’s the problem?’

So I told him, I am afraid that you, dear reader, will have to imagine my symptoms as I still believe in the fact that what I tell my doctor is between him and me, and my wife, of course, and the receptionist as she can pull up my file on the computer, and the nurse who can do the same and probably the cleaner, and the student on work placement whose job it is to rinse out the sample bottles. Yes I believe in full confidentiality.

Anyway basically, and I blame the 1960’s, he told me that I was too fat, too unfit and probably too old! I blame the 1960’s because of the untold damage that some of the ideas that came out of that dull decade have done to our society. I believe that I have, for example, cited before the problems foisted upon us by Feminism which grew out of the 1960’s. Feminism for example has poisoned the relationships between men and women. It has placed barriers between us that are difficult to pull down and created situations where men and women have stopped communicating upon many basic levels, and often the most basic is sex, but I digress.

Once, when you went to the Doctors, it was pretty much a safe bet that you would probably come away with a nice hefty prescription for some heavy weight drugs. Overweight? Try these amphetamines! Depressed, try this mind altering substance for a while. Nowadays they just tell you that you are overweight and that you need more exercise. That you need to ‘balance’ your diet, get your mojo working again (And yes folks the Doctor actually did say that to me) so take more exercise, lose some weight and hey ho all will be fine again. ‘But I wanted DRUGS’ I moaned in the winging voice of a 9 year old child wanting Smarties.

He leaned back in his chair and tried the psychological tactic of putting his hands behind his head to show how superior he was, but all I could see was the damp sweaty bits and the stains from his deodorant. ‘You know Dr Rob’, he said ‘we no longer prescribe drugs for everything under the sun, it makes more sense to find a balance in your life and once you have sorted out your mojo everything else will fall into place’. I nodded and gave into to his impenetrable logic and the fact he wasn’t listening to me anymore. He twiddled with his computer.

‘I’ve booked you in for some blood tests’ he told me and I was dismissed by the overqualified hippy.

I visited the nurse this morning for the blood test having spent the earlier part of the day practising the blood donor routine al la Tony Hancock. As I sat there girding my loins, practising ancient meditative routines to ward of the pain and anguish, and thinking nice thoughts, she was rattling around in the needle drawer looking for the sharpest straightest needle, I think. She looked up and said ‘Have you fasted’ I said 'pardon' thinking she said farted, (I hadn’t not even in fear) ‘Fasted’ she said again, ‘eaten any thing this morning’. ‘OH’ I said, ‘Should I have?’ ‘No’ she said. Testing a needle in an old orange. ‘Well I’ve only had two apples, some cake and two coffees this morning’ I said. ‘Does that count?’ ‘No’ she said gritting her teeth as she forced the best needle through the soft flesh of the Orange, ‘you shouldn’t have eaten anything this morning’ ‘Well the Doctor didn’t say’ I said, ‘Snaffenrassen fassen mumph’ I thought she said with a hint of disappointment in her mumble as she chucked the needle point first into one of those stainless steel kidney shaped bowls with a loud clang!.

Suffice it to say I have to go again on Friday morning for the Blood test, so that means more girding of loins and nothing, not so much as even a Full English Breakfast is to pass my lips after Midnight on Thursday.

All the fault of the 1960’s I say, as apparently all my ailments are the fault of my 'mojo' whatever that is* and the Doctor so laid back he ‘forgot’ to mention that I had to fast, probably because that was part of his hippy routine, fast until lunch then two pieces of Broccoli for lunch, a herb sandwich for tea, then hit the cupboard where all the old pharmaceuticals that they don’t use any more are stored for a hit on something to mellow out for the evening (if not on call that is).

Who’d be a Dr hey?

* according to the online dictionary

a 'mojo is: a Cuban seasoning of garlic, olive oil, and sour (Seville) oranges used as a dip, marinade, or sauce so what the *&%"*& is the Doc on about? How DO I get ma mojo working maaaan?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Bonfire Bonanza

Isn’t having a bonfire fun! There’s something inherently primeval about lugging bits of wood around the garden and burning them. And people seem to be drawn to them like moths to a flame, standing there glassy eyed, slowly getting smoked like a kipper, gazing into the flames like something possessed, clothes getting lightly singed and eyebrows disappearing.

Yes we started to tidy up our garden last night and we had a quantity of boughs off the trees that had to be got rid of and I didn’t fancy filling the back of my car for a trip to the recycling place with my ‘green’ waste. So a fire was on the cards from the off.

Just the thought of helping with a fire was enough to unglue the teenage boys from their computer screens and they staggered into the daylight wincing as the sun burnt their reddened eyes, coughing as oxygen coursed through their lungs replacing the fetid carbon dioxide of their bedrooms. But they were keen to help (god forbid).

So soon the newspaper had been crinkled, the kindling arranged and the lighter flicked into life. Soon we had a roaring conflagration upon which the garden rubbish was piled with no mercy (note that we were on constant alert for errant hedgehogs). The heat was such that like ground zero the plants and shrubs within feet of the fire were soon blackened ashes, I comforted the wife telling that fire was good for plants, that is was cleansing and regenerative, take the proteas of South Africa for example. However, my wife was of the opinion that dahlias were not of the same hardy stock as the protea and stomped off in a huff!

The boughs burnt and the crap crackled and we were finding it harder and harder to find fuel for the fire. The garden was being scoured for anything and everything flammable. Isn’t it the case that once you start burning things then its difficult to stop, I even think this was used as an excuse by those Nazi’s who were burning books in the 1940’s. ‘Ya vell ve started viz zer porno and then once ve run out ve had to keep ze fire going, zo we burnt all ze other books too, it vas great, huge flames ya!

I think there is a little arsonist in all of us, that’s why we stand around the fire throwing stuff on, just to watch it burn, no other reason, except just to watch it burn. Pretty soon the garden was pristine, nothing flammable left and even some overhanging branches from the live trees had been cut off and added to the fire. These additional branches then give off really satisfying gouts of white smoke as the greenery boils and burns. Its then, and only then, that you wish you’d watched those old cowboy films a bit closer and learnt how to make smoke signals – how useful would that be.

Smoke signals Posted by Picasa

Then later there’s the pleasure of sitting down with a cup of tea, watching the embers glow and hiss, the slight flare of flame as you kick another half burnt twig on the fire, the charcoaly taste of the burnt potato, the roast hedgehog (no only joking!) the smell of wood smoke in the air and in your hair and clothes. Yes one can kick back relax and enjoy the soothing heat and the feeling of a job well done.

Yes there’s nothing quite as good as a bonfire, roll on November 5th.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Moi - A Capitain of Industry

Now I am a captain of industry, what with my promotion and all, I have decided that I had better live up to the trust that my employer has seen fit to bestow up on me. To that end I have decided that changes must be made both in my personal life and my business life.

Here’s what I have decided.

1. No longer attend work in clothes that have not been ironed, this is the sign of a slovenly worker, and thus a slovenly intellect. How will I be taken seriously by the higher ups if I am all crumpled? I will talk to the wife about this later!

2. Get one of those notepads with the Orange covers that all the other managers seem to carry around with them, jotting down every thing the higher ups have to say, including the jokes which I will be able to pass on as my own in other forums and maybe make the wife laugh too (especially while she is ironing).

3. Wear my pass around my neck on a necklace thing, that seems to make people look important, and to be even more important is to stick it in the breast pocket of my shirt – I guess it’s a sort of ironic statement about hidden identity.

4. Try to remember everybody’s name, this didn’t seem important before, but now I am a manager I have to make the little people think that I care and how can I do that if I don’t know their names, and squinting at their name tags dangling down makes it look like I’m looking at their breasts – which is not on.

5. There seems to be a competition going on amongst the senior managers to see who can wear the silliest or most revolting tie. As of the moment I am not a ‘tie’ person, I am more ‘smart business casual, open neck, but slightly crumpled’ sort of person, the question is should I enter the game at this earlier stage or should I ease myself into it as I become more accustomed to the culture of higher management? I would welcome some guidance here. Or is there capital in being the maverick outsider who is known more for his intellect than his fashion sense?

6. Make sure that when I go to meetings I take my palm pilot with me as this shows how au fait I am with technology; I must also remember that when people are speaking in meetings to spend some time tapping something into the palm pilot in an important manner or setting the alarm so I have to fiddle with it when it goes off so people will look at me and see how important I am.

7. I’ll need to upgrade my mobile phone to one of those silver flippy open types as this seems to be the fashion, also I’ll need a specially irritating, but upper management, type of ring tone, like the theme from Inspector Morse or a snatch of classical music, perhaps you’ll send me some ideas, of course the Crazy Frog is out!

8. I’ll need to put in an order for a nice set of things to put on my desk, desk tidy’s, somewhere to put all my pens and pencils rather than the old Coke can I currently use. I don’t think that sends the right message. Also my desk needs to be tidier, clean, and emptier, so that it looks like I am on the ball and ahead of the game. Where I’ll put all the papers, questionnaires and lists etc that currently clutter my desk is a worry, as I am not high up enough to have a secretary or PR who would do the tidying for me.

9. I’ll have to put in for a car park pass as well, I thought it was quite outrageous that I didn’t get one automatically with my promotion, I mean riding in on the bus is so…so downmarket!

10. I will also have to foster an air of ‘knowitallness’ and authority as I wander around the corridors of power, it wouldn’t do for anyone to get an inkling of my poor working class roots, my Birmingham birth (fortunately losing the accent en route to my great successes -phew I never be a manager else.) the years festering away in factory work, noooo these skeletons will be safely locked away in my Punchline 4 drawer lockable steel cabinet!

The things we have to do to make a living hey?