Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Thank Goodness For "The Simpsons"
Emily: "Daddy? I don't want to be a gay"
Daddy: Speechless. Gobsmacked. Stunned.
Thankfully, Rachel, my eight year old daughter stepped in by stating that she didn't want to be a gay either and went on to explain that gays were girls who kissed other girls and boys who kissed other boys.
Daddy: Still speechless and wondering what subjects had made it on to the primary school curriculum!
Rachel, again thankfully, explained that she had learnt about gays by watching an episode of The Simpsons!
Final Day Of Term
Today, my girls left school for the last time in 2009. It was the final day of term. Naturally, I asked them what they did during their final school day. "Did you learn anything about trigonometry? Did you read any Shakespeare? What about Ecce Romani? Have you even started 'In pictura est puella'?"
Emily started dancing in the kitchen singing "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me? Don't cha?"
Remember? Five years old. The only music played in our house is AC/DC, The Beatles, classical music and Enya (eclectic, I know). Where does she learn this stuff? School, of course. Her classmates are the teachers of course.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
I was asked today if I could name the best 11 players from the decade and it was definitely a struggle but I've plumped for this:
GK: Pepe Reina
RB: Steve Finnan
CB: Jamie Carragher
CB: Sami Hyypia
LB: John Arne Riise
RM: Luis Garcia
CM: Steven Gerrard
CM: Xabi Alonso
LM: Patrik Berger
CF: Michael Owen
CF: Fernando Torres
Now, I've left out a lot of players that ideally I would try to find room for in that team. I've made room on the subs bench:
I wonder how my team would fare in the Premier League?
Thursday, 1 October 2009
At least, I used to think that. Last night, I bought a new suit. It has that new suit look, that new suit smell and feels pretty good to wear. I waddled into the office (11 minutes, as usual) and felt that I was looking pretty good. And guess what? No gushing when I got in.
Could it be that the new suit made me feel more comfortable and more of a "cool dude" and psychologically it ensured that I wouldn't have the physiological response that I was starting to become used to?
(BTW - there was a very nice new shirt involved too!)
Friday, 21 August 2009
I've been very lucky this year. Hardly any delays and I have frequently gotten a seat with nobody beside me. That means I can take my shoes off and stretch my legs even further than normal.
Recently, however, it has started to go wrong. I've had to sit beside randoms. Now, don't get me wrong, I like randoms as they can be entertaining. Not my recent randoms though. All alpha males! All arm rest hoggers!
I don't use the middle arm rest. It's not that I don't want it, it's just that it seems polite to allow the more needy the opportunity to use it. But most men seem to hog it regardless. AND IT IS WINDING ME UP!
Why are people so inconsiderate? Why can't people just be excellent to one another (to re-use a well worn phrase)?
So... I'm sitting in 7C tonight. I wonder who will be in 7D!
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange
Saturday, 15 August 2009
I always thought it would be quite impossible for someone to get out of a car and to walk away before the car started to roll.
I was wrong.
A young girl, who had recently passed her traffic test if the 'R' plates on her wind-screen were anything to go by, got out of her Peugeot hatchback and walked along the pavement passed me. As I approached her car, it started to roll.
Without thinking, I stepped out on to the road and (eventually) stopped it crashing into a brand new Audi A4.
I felt very pleased with myself and really rather heroic especially as my daughters eyes lit up at the thought that I had done something so fantastic. Daddies are supposed to be heroes... and now I am :-)
Thursday, 6 August 2009
By the time I decided it was time for some shut-eye I figured I'd had a great night!
I found some soothing tracks on the iPod and plugged the headphones into..... into my head :-)
After just a couple of tracks, I was fast asleep.
For some reason, I woke at around 2:20am. I opened my eyes to find a silhouette of a man standing in the doorway. I didn't panic; I didn't assume that I was going to be robbed or violated; from what I recall, I didn't think ANYTHING.
I merely took off my headphones and the man said "you've left your car lights on".
Apparently, he had been knocking on the door for quite some time. The moral, don't fall asleep with headphones in.
Friday, 31 July 2009
I'm not sure if the following is a misuse of the English language but I certainly can't understand it. It comes from a commentary of the second Ashes test at Edgbaston:
Clarke works a straight Onions delivery off his pads into the gap at midwicket for a single. At the 15th time of asking, Marcus North gets off the doughnut with a little leg-side tickle as Onions bowls a remarkable snake-like delivery to Clarke which shapes in then swings alarmingly away from Matt Prior.
Now, I recognise those words but could someone please tell me what it all means?
Monday, 20 July 2009
Of course, at that point, it was standard practice to discuss the the people we knew who weren't blessed in the looks department and try to determine whether they had enough self-awareness to know the truth. It seemed like harmless fun at the time and I was certainly younger in those days. Know when I think about it, I feel a little bit bad about the laughing and giggling. These days, I can see something attractive in most people and I'm a lot more forgiving but the question is still valid.
- Do ugly people know that they are ugly?
- Do stupid people know that they are stupid?
- Do chavs know that they are chavs?
I suspect that the answer isn't straightforward. Ugly men probably think they still possess some kind of stud-like quality whereas some good looking women probably thing they look like the back end of a bus. Or at least, their public proclamations would suggest that this is true, but deep down, is their self-awareness veering towards accuracy?
The problem is... it's difficult to ask and ugly person if they know that they are ugly (without being rude about it). It's also difficult to ask a chav if they know they are a chav - although there are maybe some chavs who have aspired to chavness for many a year.
I've been thinking about myself recently and have come to the following conclusions:
- I'm unlikely to play football professionally (I am 38 now)
- I'm unlikely to become an astronaut
- I'm better in the work environment than at home (I'm Mr. Decisive at work and Mr. Procrastinator at home)
- I don't scratch surfaces. When I thrown myself into something - I go for it big time. I can't join a sports club! I want to play, coach and run the committee!
- I'm overweight and would like to shed 40lbs. Clever ideas welcome
- I'm useless at dressing myself. Actually, I can dress, but I can't organise my wardrobe. I need a personal shopper.
- I'm getting grumpier as I get older. Grumpier and less tolerant of idiots. However, I really enjoy helping people improve themselves!
- I love the theatre and bore easily in the cinema. Theatre beats cinema; Painting beats prints; Live bands beat CDs; etc.
- I will never be able to play the guitar the way I want. I can play "Streets of London" and "House of the Rising Sun" quite well, but I'm terrible at practising.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Today, I had another call. This time, the person asked for Owen. I told him that I was sorry that his call was wasted but I wasn't Owen. I did, however, ask him to help me resolve this phone issue by telling me what number he had dialled. I asked him who Owen was. And the result?
Owen hails from Dublin and has recently started working for National Australia Group - my former employer.
It would seem that Owen has been assigned my old phone number and that he is putting a redirect on to the phone and the end of each day - probably in the hope that calls will go to voicemail? The long and short of it is that the phone is programmed to redirect to my mobile... something that was setup over 2 years ago!
The good news is that at least this is easily resolved. The phone's redirect can be reprogrammed and I will no longer suffer these terrible phone calls. But, here's the issue with these calls...
- One of them was abusive and accused "someone" of kicking a dog. Probably our Owen?
- One of them was from an Estate Agent trying to let a flat in Dublin
- One of them was from a "colleague" of Owen
- One of them was from some unknown person who I couldn't make out
- One of them was from someone from Dublin who I struggled to understand
- A number of them went to voicemail but failed to leave any messages
So... the chaos has been resolved.
I still can't help thinking that poor Owen will now be left with a trail of chaos to resolve - the dog-kicking accuser was most vocal and really quite threatening; the estate agent may have let the flat to someone else; and who knows what the others were attempting to achieve!
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
I'm at the Holiday Inn beside the Park-And-Ride on the outskirts of Oxford. It's a blisteringly hot day and I'm relaxing in the bar with a beer doing what I do best - people watching. And they are so good.
The nutter with the lime who put on his performance last night was just a pleasure to watch! Tonight, I heard a most excellent conversation. When I say conversation, I was only party to one half of the conversation but I'm quite sure that had I heard the other side of the conversation, it would've been a lot less funny.
"Hello Room Service, how can I help you" said the woman behind the bar of the aforementioned drinking, eating and sleeping establishment shortly after she'd picked up the phone.
"So you don't want to order anything now?"
"OK, sir. I look forward to taking your order."
At that, she hung up with a most quizzical look on her face.
"What's wrong?" asked one of her co-workers.
"Some nutter has just phone me to tell me that he will phone back in two minutes to place an order for room service. He wanted to give me prior warning apparently."
Now, I like nutters. They are fabulous as long as they are not dangerous. This particular nutter was obviously concerned that the woman manning the room service phone would be taken unawares should someone phone her requesting room service. He's the kind of nutter I appreciate.
Monday, 29 June 2009
This is most irksome but I travel with a spare debit card just for such an eventuality. I insert my "spare" and after some strange noises I receive another apology claiming that the card has been retained and that I need to speak to my card issuer. Note: the second card was issued by a different bank!
It seems that others fell victim to the HSBC ATM's over-zealous retention of cards.
But the big bother came when I phoned my issuer in the vain hope that I could get a replacement card sent out to me in sharpish time. Alas, it is not possible... but I only discovered that the card would take 7 days to arrive (rather than the 4 that I need because of holidays) after I'd had a most bizarre conversation with their call-centre staff. It went like this:
"We need to take some details from you for security purposes, sir" they said.
"No problem" I replied.
"What is .....?" they asked. I replied.
"And could you tell me .....?" they asked. I replied.
"And finally, what is ....?" they asked. I replied.
"I'm sorry sir. Two of your answers don't match our records"
"But those are the right answers - I use them every day because I check my account, every day. What are we supposed to do now?"
"We will need to reset your account, sir"
"How long will that take?" I asked.
"Can you not just check my answers again?"
"I can't do that sir. You are welcome to hang up and ring us again to try the procedure once more."
"Why an I do that yet you won't check my answers again?"
"Because you could keep trying answers until you get them right, sir"
"But I could just keep ringing you until I get them right, isn't that so?"
"I guess so sir, but those are the rules."
I hung up and phoned again. I provided the same answers and was security cleared. But then, it was a futile exercise anyway. I won't have a card before I go on holiday.
The upshot of it all is this:
- I am missing 2 debit cards
- I can't get them replaced before I go on holiday so I will be forced to use credit cards
- I will be changing my bank when I get back from holiday - bye, bye Cahoot
Why does society carry such scum?
Sunday, 28 June 2009
I've had four job interviews in my life and been offered a job as a result of each of them. I'm tempting fate here, I know. I'm quite sure that this run of good fortune will come to an end at some point (though I'm hoping that a lottery win will negate the need for any future interview).
2. Voting & Elections
I was granted the right to vote at the age of 18 (as is customary in the UK). Since then, I have managed to cast my vote at every local, regional, national and European elections with just one exception - which makes me feel bitterly disappointed. I have precious little time for politicians but I still manage to cast my vote. If I am permitted to borrow some sentiment from Groucho Marx, anyone who wants to be a politician, shouldn't be allowed to be one!
3. Heros & Heroines
I don't think I have any. I can't be doing with hero worship. Some people are talented in a musical way; others are talented in business. I like to think that most people have a talent for something - even if they are merely talented at annoying others! I think I'm talented, though I haven't figured out what that talent is yet. The point is, I can't elevate someone who has a talent for something to the point of being my hero. They would have to be multi-talented to a point which is sickening and at that point, I wouldn't want them to be my hero because they would be everyone's hero. The person who comes closest to it (at a guess) is Stephen Fry. Multi-talented and an absolutely joy to watch, read or listen to.
4. Learning To Drive
I learnt to drive at a young age on a disused runway! Family holidays in the 1980s were spent at a caravan park in Ballyhalbert on the Ards Peninsula. The caravan park was sited on a disused World War II airfield and those great wide-open runways were great for practising my skills in a Cortina, Escort and a Renault whose number I've quite forgotten. Thankfully, none of those cars were capable of any kind of acceleration that could be described as dangerous.
5. Favourite Books
I read a lot more often these days. I used to love reading the "Three Investigators" series of Hitchcock books as a young boy but I did manage to spend most of my 20s avoiding literary books. I've rediscovered the joy of reading novels again. Unfortunately, I've read some rubbish recently (and the worst three were all by Dan Brown). My favourite, as of today, is "The Great Gatsby", despite the rather abrupt ending :-)
Monday, 22 June 2009
You see, it takes 5 minutes for the bags arrive. (My bag was first off the carousel) and it takes precisely 5 minutes to hoof my aging body to the air-rail link. It takes another 5 minutes to sort out my ticket and get to the platform.
To catch the 8:14 train to Oxford, I need my plane to be connected to the covered walkway well before 8:00. In fact, I need my flight time to be as per the pilot's announcement.
So I've missed my train today! I have to wait an hour for the 9:14 again. I've had 4 attempts at this journey and only have a 50% hit rate on making the 8:14.
On the plus side... it gives me a great excuse to start my week in grumpy form. Guess I'll just spend the next 40 minutes people watching and engaging in that most inquisitive of activities: bluetooth device name discovery!
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Why am I blogging? Well... I'm alone. Travelling around the country with work may seem exciting but I do end up in hotel bars by myself.
Of course, there are other travellers. There are lots of lonely people sitting at tables in the bar by themselves and none of them are speaking to each other.
Of course... I'm as bad as they are. And I'm ashamed of that fact. Maybe these people would be delighted if I said hello? Maybe they would tell me where to go? I don't know but something has changed in our society which means that all these people are happier with their laptop on their knee rather than an interesting and engaging fellow traveller to keep them amused. And I'm blogging.
I have become one of these people!
I think I'll speak to someone after all. 'Another pint please, good man'
A rich pageantry of fun and frivolity should be had by all except it just isn't the case.
The erecting of the arch is a signal for the thuggery to congregate on street corners, vandalise property, intimidate householders and stage pathetic mini-confrontations with their various rivals.
What this meant for me was a crowd of about 20 youths gathered outside my house to plot and scheme and taunt police officers. Of course, the plotting and scheming was done without the use of any words with more than two syllables but with an over-liberal use of four-letter words of the docker kind.
A young girl demonstrated particular linguistic skill at one point by declaring "for ****'s sake, be ****ing careful, I'm nearly ****ing pregnant". Class! She would've been aged around 14 or 15 (and could maybe have been 14 or 15 stone also) which begs a number of questions:
- Did her parents know she was wandering the streets at 11pm on a school night?
- Does she even go to school and if so, is she concentrating during her English lessons?
- What does "nearly pregnant" mean?
My hedge was damaged during the evening. I can only guess that someone was pushed by someone else through my hedge. And I have some graffiti on my wall - though not very much as I'm guessing that spelling wasn't the "artist's" strong point. Damage was minor but the stress was positively major. If ever there was a reason for moving on, the colourful tribe from Queen's Park provided it.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Three years ago, we had another mouse come into the house - it didn't last long.
This week, that all too familiar "scratching" sound could be heard as I was busying myself on my computer. A turned around to find a mouse come out of my fireplace, stand on the hearth looking at me (with a look of a disdain, I thought) and then scurry back into the fireplace.
Trap set, mouse murdered. Chilli flavoured dark chocolate seemed to entice the wee fella to meet his maker. I say 'fella' and 'his' but I could be wrong!
Trap is reset (just in case) and bang - another mouse murdered. This is serious now. Multiple mice suggests a family! And one of the rooms in the house that is virtually disused is showing the distinctive signs - some droppings, some gnawings.
I know it is probably my fault. The hot days encourage us to leave the back-door open all day and I reckon they "wander" in to the house to see what they can see. Should I just accept that it is an "occupational hazard" or should I buy a cat?
Monday, 1 June 2009
The one time when it seems acceptable to deface our streets with election campaigning posters. A time when tribal politics takes to the fore once more.
The literature was dumped through my letter-box and (as I always do), I diligently read everything that the candidates had to say. Only two candidates seems to make reference to what it means to be a member of the European Parliament and what they would do for "our wee country" at Brussels.
And the other candidates? No Dublin rule; Brits out; Red, White & Blue; Green White & Gold.
Absolutely pathetic and sickening.
Once again, the politics of fear and division!
And some of it was incomprehensible! I stared at the one candidate's poster which stated:
Now... I'm no literary expert, but it disturbs me everytime I see that poster. Principle is a noun so what is he trying to say? Is he saying that he is a principled person, ie. someone with high moral values? I suspect he is trying to say that, but then he ought to have said Principled?
How can I possibly vote for someone who constructs a campaign poster so severely lacking in any sense? What am I saying? He's target demographic are the ones will vote for whichever person has managed to squeeze the most red, white and blue on to their poster?
Alas, I shall be voting for those people who advocate collaboration, are concerned about our country's standing within Europe and are caring towards the environment. In other words, the people that aren't likely to get elected.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
The whines from Emily made their way from her bedroom into mine and my deep slumber came to an end.
Usually, I would stay still and hope that I was mistaken. A second cry would ensure that my brain would start hoping for a mere brief bout of crying without the need for any kind of attendance.
I eventually heaved my weary body to its feet and staggered to the kiddie room. Emily was still crying. In my most sympathetic tone, I told her to be quiet. Followed by the "I'm too tired for this, give it a rest now or else". She looked at me, but it was clear that she could see me. Another cry!
"Stop it", "be quiet" and "I'll give you something to cry about" may work with someone who is awake, but not tonight. She eventually calmed down and I bounced off the walls towards my own bed with the hope that I could resume my snoring.
Next morning, as we walked to school, I asked Emily "Why were you crying last night?"
"I wasn't crying, daddy" she replied.
"Oh yes you were. You woke me up and I had to come in to see you".
"Daddy, I think that was just your imagination" she said.
Maybe it was?
Thursday, 19 March 2009
I've just found out that just two doors away from where I live there lives a family that may not be the most honest.
Mr. & Mrs. Dishonest are joined by four or five dishonest children and why do I say all this? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Dishonest don't work yet live in a house which is costing them about £500 a month in rent (and each room seems to have a 50in television in it). They holiday 3/4 times a year and they own a couple of cars.
How do they manage this when neither of them work?
Well, Mr. Dishonest seems to own a home somewhere. He claims that he has separated from his wife so she is claiming single mother's benefit. He claims redundancy, invalidity and goodness knows what else. Some of their "children" have left school already - but they don't work.
It seems that they get almost £1,000 a week in benefits!
That's tax-payers' money that is! That's my taxes going to them and what benefit do I get from it? I don't even feel good that my money is helping the under-privileged in my community because it is going to cheats!
This family have only recently moved in. Before them, lived another set of seemingly dishonest people. The "man" of the household refused to accept a full-time position in Tesco because it would have a severe impact on his state benefits.
How little pride must someone have to behave like that?
Is there a place in the world where I can bring up my family without the influence of "criminals" in my community because as far as I am concerned, these dishonest families are nothing more than that - criminals!
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Uncle Alan, with the look of a mad professor, is a single man in his sixties and can be best described as "not a people person".
His rantings are recorded and hopefully they will be released to the general public at some point in the future - they have the makings of quite a story and maybe even a film. For example:
"I went to the Post Office today to post a letter. Nobody was in the Post Office except for the two women behind the counter. They were chatting, as women do, and ignored me. I grew madder and madder. I took two pieces of tissue and shoved them up my nose, got down on all fours and barked like a dog! They shall not ignore me in future."The story was verified by the women themselves! His most recent rant, however, shows his special contempt for foreigners.
"Swept the laneway... SIGH... Tried to paint... SQUEAL... I then switched on the television and some Afrigger was trying to tell me how to cook on BBC1. BBC2 had some Turban-wearer trying to tell me how to look after my home. That Irishman, Eamonn what's-his-name, was on ITV. And Channel 4 had some bastard with 15 boxes!"
Some may be critical of his behaviour. He certainly has some racist tendancies. However, I believe that these "eccentrics" should be treasured. How wonderful to know someone so opinionated.
Sunday, 4 January 2009
- Lose 2 stone in weight
- Stop drinking so much (no more than 2 bottles a week?)
- Get a contract renewal
- Go to Canadian Rockies
- Stash away £20,000 into savings accounts or investments
- Get a new car
- Extend the house