Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Situation Vacant

Current music: ‘Between the Wars’ – Billy Bragg
Current mood: tired and hungry

Interesting experience tonight, short-listing applications for the post of leader of our church, after Jesus, that is.

I was brought up in a church tradition where leaders were not chosen by the membership; in fact we had no say at all in whom we had appointed to lead us and they had no choice in where they were sent. So it has been an eye opening experience wading through application forms deciding who is a yes, a no or a maybe.

I can’t say much more because the process is entirely confidential and whilst it is fair to say that it is not a small world we live in, it is a small church we worship in.

Never felt so much like I was on an edition of ‘Blind Date’ as I did tonight.

Monday, February 27, 2006

My son (wot I love)

Current music: ‘Someone to hi to’ by Sarah Bettens
Current mood: Contented

I mentioned yesterday that N has started to type on his own little laptop and it occurred to me that he should keep his own blog. It will be a great investment in recording his life through his own eyes as he grows.

When he (and his brother) were dedicated we bought an amphora for each of them and asked family and friends to post notes inside for them to read upon their coming of age. This is N’s chance to return the favour.

So a blog has been created and link on this site added. Sorry Liz and Steve and Danny, your links have got knocked orf and I don’t know why but I’ll put them back soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Napster, Laptops and the orgasm of Camden Market

Current music: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 5
Current mood: mellow – it’s Sunday afternoon

Just coming to the end of a crazyade bonkers month of unlimited downloading from Napster due to a free month courtesy of The Independent. Now I remember why we take the papers! I’m not sure if my ISP is best pleased about the goings on with the bandwidth but it’s all coming to a close now.

I’ve been pretty disappointed with Napster it has to be said. They were pretty good for the bulk record collection that has largely eluded me although of course I cannot listen to it anywhere apart from this computer. But as I have come across new names either on last.fm or as entries on other people’s blogs the results from Napster have been scarce to the point of non-existence.

Never mind. It’s better than nothing. And who knows, maybe one day the solution will be found to allow me to do more with what I found.

Now I could do with some advice. Conversation turned today at our church lunch to the whole laptop versus desktop and apple versus windows debate. My friend pointed out that since he installed a wireless point in his house and sorted his kids out with laptops they are now to be found in the living room and taking a slightly more active role in their family life. I cannot deny that I spend much of life in front of this enormous desktop system and wonder if it’s really quite worth it. It needs a bit of an upgrade and I wonder if now is the time to flog it to my mum who has been on about getting a computer for yonks and using the money on a laptop. And if do, should I get a Mac or PC. Thinking to do. Advice required please.

As for me and my household…

Talking of Apple laptops, N is currently playing with his new Apple laptop. Work were chucking out a load of redundant hardware including a couple of Apple Emate 300 machines. Any geeks among the readership, apple geeks at that, may know that the Emate 300 was Apple’s first foray (in partnership with Newton) into the world of laptops. Anyway these machines are now consigned to the league of PDA and are only good for basic word processing and drawing plus a few other applications downloadable from geek websites but it is perfect for young N. It also includes a stylus for drawing on the screen so he can do little drawings as well. Even as I type I can hear him tapping out ‘I want to be a rabbit in Mr Gumpy’s outing.’ It’s a reference, by the way to his school assembly on Thursday (in which he is already a rabbit) not some bizarre cloak and dagger plot to expose one of his teacher’s sexual preference. His own blog. Bless. So result there. The battery is shot but Ebay should be able to fix that one hopes.

S is watching Toy Story 2 in the other room. Always having been one to enjoy his own company, he is quite happily re-enacting the movie next door using his Woody and Buzz dolls to act it out. It’s really charming to see him at work. He is even mouthing along to some of the words which is very encouraging too.

A is in the kitchen cooking something which smells quite divine. Some of you will know that I am dieting once again as the previous effort only revealed that I am seriously overweight and need to sort it out before my health takes a nose dive, plus as I said in a previous post, whilst I don’t care that much about how I look or what size I am, I do care greatly about being fit and healthy for my children. So I shall not be tasting the wonderful smelling food, which is a bummer I do not deny it but is all in a good cause. For those who care I have just got my BMI down to under 30 and my target is 23. I’ll keep you posted on that.

B has just got home from a night spent at her sister’s place. She has been to Camden Market today and cannot tell me any more about her experience without her eyes going all flickery and her saying, ‘oh my God’ repeatedly. I’m going to take that as a positive sign.

And I am in front of my computer typing this post. The blogger plug-in for Word is an absolute godsend. Soon I shall begin typing my plans for school and then I shall retire early with ‘the time traveler’s wife’ which needs to be finished for Wednesday night when The Reading Circle comes around again.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brown Stains

Now it needs to be said, up front, that our house is in a pretty good state of repair and décor apart from the lack of flooring in kitchen, loo and laundry and general state of bathroom. The flooring will be sorted hopefully after I’ve had another confrontation with Magnet. (One day I’ll blog the whole saga of our kitchen, suffice it to say, for now, that no one, absolutely no one, not even people who work for Magnet, not even their shareholders, not even people who are masochists, not even people who have been brainwashed by the ‘Magnet are Good’ religious sect should ever be so stupid as to think about selling you a kitchen let olone darkening their door.)

Anyway, the bathroom. It’s a bit of a shit hole, it has to be said. We chose not to have it renovated when the rest of the building work was done because we didn’t know if one day we would get a loft conversion; a fact that is still true today. It turns out that logic was mistaken. You see having been forced into doing a bit of investigative archaeology it turns out that the original tiling work was the usual 2 foot’s worth around the edge of the bath and that the rest (for those who don’t know our bathroom the whole room is covered in horrible white tiles) was done later. It would seen the original work was of a reasonable quality. It would also seem that the rest was put up by a person who cannot tile using flour and water as adhesive and grout.

The investigation was prompted by the fact that dirty great brown patches are appearing on our hall ceiling and they are spreading. So this afternoon A and I undertook an intricate scientific experiment. Our hypothesis – water from the shower was getting behind the tiles and soaking the floor under the bath. Method – I took off the board along the edge of the bath (watching carefully for spiders) and peered at the wall while A squirted water from the shower at the wall. Observations – water pissed all over the floor under the bath. Our conclusion – water from the shower was getting behind the tiles and soaking the floor under the bath. Bugger.

So I quickly nip to Homebase to pick up some grout and tools and some spare tiles rushing back in time for the rugby (great match, crap score) and then proceed to scrape what’s left of the grout away. Finding a tile that was held up by, well frankly nothing more than the power of prayer, I pull it away to see the plaster behind it absolutely soaking, having the consistency of damp sand than of hardened plaster. Bugger. A couple of other tiles shortly follow to reveal that, where the plaster is dry, it’s in an ok state.

So what to do? An insurance claim could be filed, FFS that’s what we pay £40 a month for but what should we do if they cough up? New bathroom in a place that will probably become the stairway to a new loft? New set of tiles around the shower zone? I dunno it’s all a bit too recent to have thought it through.

So for now we have decided to let the whole thing dry out and ban showers and exuberant bath play (by the kids). But I need some advice please. Is that a good plan or is the plaster shot and I’m just wasting my time hoping that drying out and then re-grouting is going to somehow work.

Comments on the back of a £50 note or by email please.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

I’d like to think I was a source of encouragement.  But today I was largely shite.

Firstly my friend and colleague was umming and ahhing about going to the gym.  So I used all of my persuasive charm to talk her into going.  Which she did.  And then she texted me to say that after having arrived and undressed, she discovered she’d left her kit at home.  And then she texted me to say she’d gone home and gone out for a run and hurt her leg.

Secondly, another friend and colleague who is dieting at the moment needed some encouragement to stop snacking on bad food.  Found out today she’d had 3 bags of crisps.  The logic being, well if I’m going to be bad and have one, I might as well have 3.

And thirdly, I finally caught up with my old pal R tonight.  Long time no see.  Played snooker at a local snooker hall and talked all around why his marriage is not so good at the moment, but that’s what men do.  By the way, R beat me 2 frames to 1.  I swear the balls are bigger than the pockets.  Oo-er missus.

All joking aside, all three of these chums are good people who I’m happy to be acquainted with.  Long may these friendships last.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beyond belief

Whilst I thought that there was a dire and hysterical logic to the actions of Muslim extremists I find it incomprehensible that Sunni’s would stoop so low as to attack a Shia mosque.

Martyn Joseph sang, “do we really do these things to one another, do you see why now dolphins make me cry.”

I lower my head in shame and sorrow when I hear of another roadside bomb or suicide bomber and more troops killed but this act has upset me far more deeply. It’s the hatred, the pure, unrefined violence; the sacrilege, the scorn of any sort of respect.

I just don’t think I can take it anymore.

But I will, I suppose. I’ll get up tomorrow and hear of more reprisals, more killing, more shit.

I dedicate this psalm to all Muslims that this might be their prayer tonight

I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master's commands, like a maiden attending her lady,
We're watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, GOD, mercy!
We've been kicked around long enough,
Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men, kicked when we're down by arrogant brutes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Allez, allez, allez

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my job is leading the annual french trip to, er, France.

Each year we bung around 45 bright eyed 11 and 12 year olds on a coach and a ferry across Le Manche to enjoy the all the cultural delights that France has to offer.  And this year is no exception.

We are going to stay in a youth hostel kind of accommodation in Poissy on the outskirts of Paris to allow us to get to the city centre and Versailles with the minimum of fuss.  It’s going to be great.

And what’s more, the children have to set their own tables and do their own washing up!  They’re not going to know what has hit them.

So tonight it was my great honour to host a meeting of the 6 members of staff who are going to accompany these dear little children to France and back and not throttle them in the process.  We had a great meeting in which we planned the itinerary and discussed all the things we’ll need to pack in addition to 43 children and our own luggage.  Top of the list was snacks for teachers which included chocolate hobnobs (my personal choice), all manner of M&S snacks and (and this was my favourite addition) pickled onion monster munch.  You can keep your French cuisine, us Brits know how to party.

I’m feeling really excited about the trip now.  It’s not long until we go and as long as I have no more scares about the collective passport (the passport agency wrote a capital lettered request to call them – to sort out a date of birth) I’ll be in the starting blocks along with the rest of the staff team and pupils in April.

I’m also getting quite excited about Greenbelt too.  I Spent the rest of the evening (after the French trip meeting) sending off emails left, right and centre trying to organise a light entertainments programme and if (and boy that’s a big ‘if’) the programme comes off in the way that I’m planning, this year will turn out to be one hell of a shit kicker as far as light ents is concerned.

So book now while tickets last.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Truth is I’m knackered.

To work early to get some paperwork done.  At work all day then dash home to take No for swimming lesson.  En route a discover a colleague standing rather forlornly by the broken down car.  So I drop N off at pool, drive back to assist colleague and then dart back to pool to collect N.  Then it’s a dash home to do some extra work before dashing off to church for a music group rehearsal.  Then home to blog and kip.  Phew!

Suburban life ma be mediocre but it is sure as hell busy.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Phoned my big brother tonight for a chat.  You may recall from one of my first postings that my main reason for doing this exercise in introspection was to allow my middle brother into my head.  He’s been on wrong end of a very fuzzy lollipop but sounded pretty chipper tonight, though with the delay on the phone line to Melbourne it’s not always easy to have too deep or long conversation.  So to keep my half of a deal to stay in touch I decided to write this blog.

Communication does not come easily to my family.  We were brought up to keep the peace by shutting the fuck up – a strategy that was largely a monumental failure but this daily download of thoughts and experiences is helping me to tell him about my life and soul.

So if you’re reading this one, B, this smile is for you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

mercy dash

I did not get to blog last night for as I was about to sit down to begin the phone rang.  The hour was 11.  It was A.  Euston was at a standstill.  She was stuck.

Unfortunately B had gone out for the evening so I had to pack the boys up in dressing gowns and duvets and head for London Town to rescue her.  It reminded me of the early days of our marriage where I often travelled up to the Opera House to pick Andrea up, days before we could afford a second car.  But for the boys it was a great adventure.  

Spent today at church and at home playing shops and other games with the boys.  Continued to soup up A’s new laptop with Norton anti-virus and other bits and bobs whilst trying to plan for school tomorrow.  I need a distraction from the thoughts of back to work so I shall sign off without further ado and indulge myself in a display of rippling biceps in a marvellous story by Philip K Dick.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Went to the Natural History Museum with A, N and S today.  Great day out made great for me by the breathtaking architecture.  The museum itself was packed, lunch cost 20 quid and the kids were mainly interested in pushing, pulling and twisting the interactive exhibits rather than taking in anything of educational value.  

But the investment in culture is of greater value.  A grew up in a house with regular trips on the train to all the galleries and museums going whereas I grew up in a household where a visit to the pantomime on ice was the big day out.  This is not to diss my folks, they did what they think was best in the same way that I do too, my point is that I and A want for our kids what she had and I didn’t.

Anyway that’s not my main subject for tonight’s delectation although the theme of culture and the world in which we want our kids to grow up still figures.

I was a bit pissed off when we were forced along Kensington High Street to get into the museum because the grassy area out front of the Natural History Museum had been cordoned off for London Fashion Week.  Huge temporary structures complete with air conditioning and hair dressers had been erected to house the hospitality suite for the big show.  As far as I could tell the main catwalks and studios were erected elsewhere.  This was one hell of a carnival with the performers were the wannabes and hangers on to the coat tales of the glitterazzi trying to look important whilst drinking champagne and eating tiger prawns.

And as I passed by the burly security boys my rational mind set switched on and played messages of ‘this is a world you do not inhabit – do not judge’ and ‘this is an industry creating wealth and work for loads of people across the world’ and then I came to a stop.  This is an industry were to be at the top is to influence how people should look, FFS.  This is an industry that is so self referential and narrow minded that they’ll design the same clothes as last year and sell it to us as ‘retro’.  This is an industry that fuels the exploitation of millions of workers so that we can all gorge ourselves at the feeding frenzy of wanting to look like a celebrity that we’ll never know beyond what the industry tells us.  

I’m so sick of it.  I feel contaminated.  I don’t care how I look as long as I’m clean enough to not smell.  I don’t care how much I weigh so long as I can be fit enough to chase my boys around the park for a long time to come.  I have no jewellery save my wedding ring, no cosmetics save my tin of Right Guard, no clothes save those from the charity shop and a posh waking jacket for enjoying the beautiful but wet British countryside.  

There’s still so much more I could do but at least I’m trying.  Check out The Year of Living Generously for some ideas of what you could do.

How do I cope?  I keep a couple of photos of child labourers on the cupboard door next to my desk.  And when it gets all too much I stare into their dark, hollow eyes for a while and then it all seems to fade away, for a while.

Friday, February 17, 2006

pant pisser

Having just blogged about some serious shit happening in the lives of some close friends it seemed churlish to blog this pant pisser of a sketch.  Ah but hey, what the heck.

You’ll have to believe me that this came up entirely coincidently.  I’d been trawling through some old papers and found a hard copy of this sketch given to me by my Religious Studies lecturer at university.  Anyway, I’ve had a root around on the old interweb and come up with an electronic version (which is a relief because my scanner would not have coped well with the old hard copy I’ve got) but unfortunately no author.  So I’m sorry I cannot give credit to the author but I have to say it wasn’t (more’s the pity) me.

This just has got to be performed at Greenbelt.

“I have a philosophical secret!”
The lowest-rated Jerry Springer show ever.
CROWD:     Jer-ry!  Jer-ry!  Jer-ry!
JERRY:     Today’s guests are here because they can’t agree on fundamental philosophical principles.  I’d like to welcome Todd to the show.
Todd enters from backstage.
JERRY:     Hello, Todd.
TODD:     Hi, Jerry.
JERRY:     (reading from card) So, Todd, you’re here to tell your girlfriend something.  What is it?
TODD:     Well, Jerry, my girlfriend Ursula and I have been going out for three years now.  We did everything together.  We were really inseparable.  But then she discovered post-Marxist political and literary theory, and it’s been nothing but fighting ever since.
JERRY:     Why is that?
TODD:     You see, Jerry, I’m a traditional Cartesian rationalist.  I believe that the individual self, the “I” or ego is the foundation of all metaphysics.  She, on the other hand, believes that the contemporary self is a socially constructed, multi-faceted subjectivity reflecting the political and economic realities of late capitalist consumerist discourse.
CROWD:     Ooooohhhh!
TODD:     I know!  I know!  Is that infantile, or what?
JERRY:     So what do you want to tell her today?
TODD:     I want to tell her that unless she ditches the post-modernism, we’re through.  I just can’t go on having a relationship with a woman who doesn’t believe I exist.
JERRY:     Well, you’re going to get your chance.  Here’s Ursula!
Ursula storms onstage and charges up to Todd.
URSULA:     Patriarchal colonizer!
She slaps him viciously.  Todd leaps up, but the security guys pull them apart before things can go any further.
URSULA:     Don’t listen to him!  Logic is a male hysteria!  Rationality equals oppression and the silencing of marginalized voices!
TODD:     The classical methodology of rational dialectic is our only road to truth!  Don’t try to deny it!
URSULA:     You and your dialectic!  That’s how it’s been through our whole relationship, Jerry.  Mindless repetition of the post-Enlightenment meta-narrative.  “You have to start with radical doubt, Ursula.” “Post-structuralism is just classical skeptical thought re-cast in the language of semiotics, Ursula.”
CROWD:     Booo!  Booo!
JERRY:     Well, Ursula, come on.  Don’t you agree that the roots of contemporary neo-Leftism simply have to be sought in Enlightenment political philosophy?
URSULA:     History is the discourse of powerful centrally located voices marginalizing and de-scribing the sub-altern!
TODD:     See what I have to put up with?  Do you know what it’s like living with someone who sees sex as a metaphoric demonstration of the anti-feminist violence implicit in the discourse of the dominant power structure?  It’s terrible.  She just lies there and thinks of Andrea Dworkin.  That’s why we never do it any more.
CROWD:     Wooooo!
URSULA:     You liar!  Why don’t you tell them how you haven’t been able to get it up for the past three months because you couldn’t decide if your penis truly had essential Being, or was simply a manifestation of Mind?
TODD:     Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!
URSULA:     It’s true!
JERRY:     Well, I don’t think we’re going to solve this one right away.  Our next guests are Louis and Tina.  And Tina has a little confession to make!
Louis and Tina come onstage.  Todd and Ursula continue bickering in the background.
JERRY:     Tina, you are…  (reads cards) …  an existentialist, is that right?
TINA:     That’s right, Jerry.  And Louis is, too.
JERRY:     And what did you want to tell Louis today?
TINA:     Jerry, today I want to tell him…
JERRY:     Talk to Louis.  Talk to him.
Crowd hushes.
TINA:     Louis…  I’ve loved you for a long time…
LOUIS:     I love you, too, Tina.
TINA:     Louis, you know I agree with you that existence precedes essence, but …well, I just want to tell you I’ve been reading Nietzsche lately, and I don’t think I can agree with your egalitarian politics any more.
CROWD:     Wooooo!  Woooooo!
LOUIS:     (shocked and disbelieving) Tina, this is crazy.  You know that Sartre clarified all this way back in the 40’s.
TINA:     But he didn’t take into account Nietzsche’s radical critique of democratic morality, Louis.  I’m sorry.  I can’t ignore the contradiction any longer!
LOUIS:     You got these ideas from Victor, didn’t you?  Didn’t you!?
TINA:     Don’t you bring up Victor!  I only turned to him when I saw you were seeing that dominatrix!  I needed a real man!  An Uber-man!
LOUIS:     (sobbing) I couldn’t help it.  It was my burden of freedom.  It was too much!
JERRY:     We’ve got someone here who might have something to add.  Bring out…Victor!
Victor enters.  He walks up to Louis and sticks a finger in his face.
VICTOR:     Louis, you’re a classic post-Christian intellectual.  Weak to the core!
LOUIS:     (through tears) You can kiss my Marxist ass, Reactionary Boy!
VICTOR:     Herd animal!
LOUIS:     Lackey!
Louis throws a chair at Victor; they lock horns and wrestle.  The crowd goes wild.  After a long struggle, the security guys pry them apart.
JERRY:     Okay, okay.  It’s time for questions from the audience.  Go ahead, sir.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:     Okay, this is for Tina.  Tina, I just wanna know how you can call yourself an existentialist, and still agree with Nietzsche’s doctrine of the Ubermensch.  Doesn’t that imply a belief in intrinsic essences that is in direct contradiction with the fundamental principles of existentialism?
TINA:     No!  No!  It doesn’t.  We can be equal in potential, without being equal in eventual personal quality.  It’s a question of Becoming, not Being.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:     That’s just disguised essentialism!  You’re no existentialist!
TINA:     I am so!
AUDIENCE MEMBER:     You’re no existentialist!
TINA:     I am so an existentialist, bitch!
Ursula stands and interjects.
URSULA:     What does it [bleep] matter?  Existentialism is just a cover for late capitalist anti-feminism!  Look at how Sartre treated Simone de Beauvoir!
Women in the crowd cheer and stomp.
TINA:     [Bleep] you!  Fat-ass Foucaultian ho!
URSULA:     You only wish you were smart enough to understand Foucault, bitch!
TINA:     You the bitch!
URSULA:     No, you the bitch!
TINA:     Whatever!  Whatever!
JERRY:     We’ll be right back with a final thought!  Stay with us!
Commercial break for debt-consolidation loans, ITT Technical Institute, and Psychic Alliance Hotline.
JERRY:     Hi!  Welcome back.  I just want to thank all our guests for being here, and say that I hope you’re able to work through your differences and find happiness, if indeed happiness can be extracted from the dismal miasma of warring primal hormonal impulses we call human relationship.
     (turns to the camera)
     Well, we all think philosophy is just fun and games.  Semiotics, deconstruction, Lacanian post-Freudian psychoanalysis, it all seems like good, clean fun.  But when the heart gets involved, all our painfully acquired metaphysical insights go right out the window, and we’re reduced to battling it out like rutting chimpanzees.  It’s not pretty.
     If you’re in a relationship, and differences over the fundamental principles of your respective subjectivities are making things difficult, maybe it’s time to move on.  Find someone new, someone who will accept you and the way your laughably limited human intelligence chooses to codify and rationalize the chaos of existence.  After all, in the absence of a clear, unquestionable revelation from God, that’s all we’re all doing anyway.  So remember:     take care of yourselves - and each other.
ANNOUNCER:     Be sure to tune in next time, when KKK strippers battle it out with transvestite omnisexual porn stars!  Tomorrow on Springer!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Some old and very dear friends are having some relationship problems at the moment.  As their friends we have tried to be a source of support without prying or interfering.  

But it was with a heavy heart that I saw one of my best friends slip further and further out of circulation in spite of (because of?) my best intentions to be an ear and a shoulder.

Well the news is that my phone messages have finally been answered and we are going out for a drink on Saturday night.  Result.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

at the centre, we are children, we are welcome

What a day. Busy but fun. The joys of half term and all that.

Popped into work to pick up a few bits and pieces and see how the ICT work was going on. Yeah I know, I’m not ICT coordinator any more. You can take the ICT (and the pay) away from the boy but you cant…

Went to the library with N to drop off some (overdue) books. Our local council were undertaking a market research project, ‘how shit is harrow’ I think it was called. For those readers who would know what the Pulse is, this was like a bad display in the Pulse. I take the piss, I know but they listened to my comments and seemed very interested in what all the locals had to say. My main gripes were that the local park has gone to pot (and heroin) since the warden was done away with so the gates are not locked at sundown any more and the fact that plastic is not recycled. We are pretty good and try to recycle as much as possible but I would say that 90% of what we chuck is plastic. If the council recycled that we would have a practically empty green bin and a brown one that would need to be emptied twice a week (a problem I’d be happy to accept.)

Then off to the park for a spot of kite flying. Some of you may know of my sad delusional love of designing, making, flying and crashing kites. So with N and a few (well about 12 actually) kites we held pieces of string in a muddy park looking upward. N put on the voice of Mr Dragon (a Malaysian delta) and commentated about how much he was enjoying flying in the sky rather than being scrunched up in the bag – a metaphor for life if ever I heard one. I just swore at a box delta that I had spent hours making that refused to fly. Bugger.

B and S joined us for a session on the swings. I have to say that B appeared to have more fun than the kids. N saw an old pal from nursery, I saw her attractive mum so nice result there and S monopolised the slide.

Then home to forget that N had a swimming lesson only to be reminded by A via text message. Arrived in the nick to see N continue to stagger me with his ability to swim. I was 12ish when I learned but N is already swimming front, back on top and under and he’s only 5. He looks a treat (and a bit camp truth be told) in his very faded Spiderman trunks. The chlorine really gets to work on anything dipped in the water – eyes, flesh, hair, fingernails - pretty much anything organic is unsafe in that acid bath. When I was a kid the water wasn’t half as bad as that as I recall. In fact the outdoor pool didn’t seem to be treated at all. It started the summer clear and shiny and went through phases of yellow, orange and then brown as each kid in the neighbourhood used it as a public urinal. Oh, those were the days.

Back home in time to put the children in B’s care so that I could leg it to Griffin Park for Brentford (5th place) to hammer Southend (1st place) 2-0. ‘top of the league, top of the league, you’re having an laugh, you’re having a laugh.’ And what with Swansea and Colchester drawing at home it was a great evening that saw us jump up to third with two games in hand. Charlton on Saturday in the Cup. Come on you Bees.

Then home to break promise to self about the work I would do if I went to football but instead wrote blog. Actually I was a bit delayed in getting going because A was communicating with the person on Ebay from whom we had bought S’s birthday present. It seems the Post Office attempted to deliver the parcel to the wrong address and left a card instead which said bring some ID down to the office and we’ll give you the parcel. So the bloke from down the road went to the office, didn’t show or showed the wrong ID (more likely the former) and took home a play microphone. A has knocked on his door loads of times and got nowhere and has now decided to take it up with the Post Office because they gave a parcel marked for one address to a person with ID for another! Believe me, this is not the kind of issue to get A involved in. Once pissed off, she will not let it go until she feels that she has won, is seen to have won by everyone, especially the losers and that the losers are seen to be losers. Lord have mercy upon their souls for she will grind them to fine dust all.

And so to bed. I am currently listening to ‘At the Centre’ by Lies Damned Lies. Those of you who know the track, please try to feel as mellow as I am feeling just now. For those of you unaware of the track please feel mellow anyway.

I’m glad I’ve just written all this. It’s reminded me that I have had a busy day but a good one and that it’s finished as good as it started.

Monday, February 13, 2006

TFI Half Term

The sermon went well in my humble opinion.  My cold mixed with my nerves mixed with desire to come up with a more serious tone of voice meant that the whole thing was delivered quite deadpan but I’m happier with that that than if I’d clowned around with it.  I’ve seen too many wannabe stand up comedians try to string a theological argument whilst cracking bad jokes about communion wine and organists with bad breath.

It was good to get a call from my former minister, now retired.  He had heard on the grapevine of my efforts and rang to congratulate me.  He is largely responsible for my knowledge of the Bible such was his mentoring through my teenage years and early years of my 20’s.  

And tonight was a church leadership group meeting so it’s all very holy for me at the moment.  I won’t lie to you; there’s been times lately when I could have quite easily thrown in the church towel but I’m in quite a good place with it all at the moment.  I could list the numerous faults with hillside Community Church but what’s the point, we know we are on a journey and we are trying to pick out a way of getting there.

Half term continues with a chance to clear up the classroom, call an electrician and take N to see ‘Chicken Little’.  Basically crap.  A bit of a Chinese meal of a movie; alright at the time but ready for another half an hour later.

Tomorrow brings sorting the bathroom – seals around edge of bath given up leading to brown stains on hall ceiling (and my trousers) – possibly an insurance claim, greenbelt emails to write and a few other phone calls and bits and bobs.

Pretty bushed now so I’ll catch up with you al tomorrow.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

9 sleeps 'til school again!

How does one get to half term.  Stagger, crawl, limp.  Choose your cliché but I am absolutely knackered.  Still I’ve got a chance now to catch up on all those jobs I’ve been putting off at home and also (spot the donkey) catch up on all those jobs I’ve been putting off at work.

Who else in their right mind goes into work when they are on holiday?

I reckon they should double teacher’s salary to a rate more commensurate with a profession such as mine and direct us to work a 37 week year, 45 hour week.  That way we’d all earn more, work less and not burn out.

But then again, any politician with an education would think that’s a silly idea.  That’s the problem with political jokes – all too often they get elected.

On a different note, I’ve been asked to preach tomorrow.  Wish me luck, have a good thought or say a prayer depending once again on your preferred cliché.

‘Til then, my lovely readers, I will bid you good night with the promise of a post mortem on the sermon tomorrow and an update on how sad I am to work in my holidays.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Spark in the Dark

This blog has a very self deprecating title. As it happens I really do enjoy living where I do especially when things go wrong like they did tonight…

The cooker did not exactly go bang, plink, or fizz but the lights were definitely not on and the chicken (organic and expensive) was not cooking. Incidentally, is it a Romanian trick or do other people poke a half filled wine bottle up the arse of a chicken before standing it upright in the oven to cook it?

So Goddard, full of masculine bravado and absolutely no idea what he was doing began to make repairs. Now this is an ongoing saga the details of which I’ll certainly not bore you with or I will definitely deserve the banal and pointless tag on this blog, suffice it to say that the wall socket needed to be replaced after it melted the last fuse placed in it.

So off I toodle to Homebase and come back with a new socket and one of those posh screwdrivers that will light up if you touch a live wire or something I dunno. I switch off the correct circuit on the fuse board and begin, gingerly at first, to change the socket. Once I’ve convinced myself that the wires are not live I begin to work with more confidence until suddenly, POW, the whole house is plunged into darkness, N & S extremely upset as they were just getting to the good part in Monsters Inc.

So I retrace my steps and work out where I went wrong only to do it again. Bugger.

Never mind I thought. Shame about the chicken but we can live without an oven until tomorrow when we’ll call in a sparks who’ll know more than me about domestic electricity circuits, (though quite frankly knowing more than Goddard about electric circuits is hardly grounds for calling oneself an electrician. On that basis they could set themselves up as a horse whisperer, assassin or any other profession going apart from teacher perhaps). But then we find that the fridge and freezer have blown as well and we are really screwed. Bugger.

A gets home and hits the crisis button and we are on the phone to neighbours asking if they have any freezer space handy. And that’s when my neighbourhood shook itself down, took a deep breath and came into it’s own.

Now I don’t claim to live in the best neighbourhood in the world nor am I suggesting that no other neighbourhood could ever come up with the goods as mine did tonight, I’m just saying that when M came round at the drop of a hat and spent a good couple of hours helping me to sort things out, I felt proud and happy to live where I do and have neighbours like that.

So thanks M for popping round. We’ll still need an electrician to get to the bottom of all this but at least we have a working cooker and fridge, for now.

And the chicken? Well he has been part cooked and is standing there on the kitchen work surface looking rather forlorn what with a wine bottle up his arse. We can’t really carry on cooking him.

Actually I think he’s smiling at me. I think he got the last laugh after all. Bugger.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wu Wei

Having recently had need to thumb through my well thumbed copy of Bejamin Hoff’s brilliant book, ‘The Tao of Pooh’ I have tried hard today to put the principles of Wu Wei into action. For those of you who are not so sure allow me to quote…

"Literally, Wu Wei means "without doing, causing, or making." But practically speaking, it means without meddlesome, combative, or egotistical effort … Wu Wei means no going against the nature of things; no clever tampering; no Monkeying Around.

The efficiency of Wu Wei is like that of water flowing over and around the rocks in its path - not the mechanical, straight-line approach that usually ends up short-circuiting natural laws, but one that evolves from an inner sensitivity to the natural rhythm of things.

When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made - or imagined - by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.

When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don't belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn't try. It doesn't think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn't appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.

But down through the centuries, man has developed a mind that separates him from the world of reality, the world of natural laws. This mind tries too hard, wears itself out, and ends up weak and sloppy. Such a mind, even if of high intelligence, is inefficient. It goes here and there, backwards and forwards, and fails to concentrate on what it's doing at the moment. It drives down the street in a fast-moving car and thinks it's at the store, going over a grocery list. Then it wonders why accidents occur. When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don't have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them."

And I believe that things have got done today. I’ve not got too wound up about stuff at work, I’ve recognized that things needed doing at home and I’ve found time to get quite a few of them done tonight. I even managed to make time to paint N’s face.

It’s a nice feeling when you do it the Wu Wei.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

You Gotta Fight For Your Right...

S’s party today.  Three Years Young.  If you know S at all then you’ll understand that today was a celebration of three years without killing him.  

Friends of ours and friends of his and crisps and sausages and cheese and pineapple and jelly and ice cream and wine and pop and presents and cards and chat and time to go home and clearing up and relax.

Cream crackered.

Blog then bed.

Staying up late with PDA

So I agree to sort out my Dad’s PDA.  (By the way it’s my father in law we’re talking about here.)  Well there’s a certain responsibility on my part since it was my idea for him to give it to him for a retirement present.

He has a laptop, a PDA and an enormous collection of wine, CD’s and books all of which he wants to catalogue.

So the plan is hatched – I add office, the synchronisation software and docs to go (a MS office application reader) to the laptop.  I then write a few excel spreadsheets for him to add his catalogue.  (I’m not even going there to answer why I didn’t use Access).  


Like fuck.

Firstly father does not hand over CD of synchronisation software or apps.  Not a problem methinks for the Sony website is bound to make it available to download.

Problem number 1.  They don’t.  Bugger

Thus begins trawl of internet for software.

Problem number 2.  The clié runs palm OS (yuk).  The palm website does not support the clié.  Bugger.

Further trawls of internet for other software.

Problem number 3.  Version of said palm OS is v4.  Most software available is for version 5.  Bugger.  

Finally get software (all trial version only so another bridge to cross in 30 days) to attempt installation.

Problem number 4.  PDA runs Win98 and doesn’t want to know anything about software until we have a serious man to machine chat about drivers.  Bugger.

So back to Sony website here I am amazed (actually not amazed at all) to find…

Problem number 5.  No fucking drivers.  Bugger.

By this time it was 1:30 and I really needed some sleep.  I would have carried on but Andrea rang me from her mobile in bed to say get to bed you loser.  So no blog last night and not a lot of sleep either.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Life is like a slow train crawling to harrow and wealdstone

Went to see Katie Melua tonight.  Never have I seen so many middle aged people crammed into the Hammersmith Apollo.  Had a super time.  Katie truly has a sublime voice and the band that backed her were simply brilliant - versatile and musically accomplished.  In fact they actually made Ms Melua's stage presence seem a little amateurish.

Was joined on the train home by my boss and her husband.  They'd been to the concert too.  Nice chat to make the journey on the slow train go pleasantly quickly.

Off to Cheltenham tomorrow for a GB meeting so need for much sleep required else I'll be a bit drowsy behind the wheel so I’ll bid you all goodnight my dear bloglings with Katie Melua still singing in my mind.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Uruk-Hai play football

One of the beautiful things about my job is being able to see my son at school without having to peer over the fence and risk having the police called – yes that has happened before now and it was just a parent looking for their kiddie.  Fuckwit.

No, for me I can insist that my pupils get on with their work quietly while I peer out the window at N running around the playground.  Today he and a pal decided to join in the year 3 football match.  Brave move.  It’s a cross between death match wrestling and Watford town centre on a Friday night but without the lipstick.  Even the teachers on playground duty stay out of it for fear they might not get out alive.  Take this recent conversation for example between a teacher on playground duty and a child preparing to enter the fray…

Teacher (holding child by the throat):  Have you got any knives, guns, knuckle dusters on you?

Child:  No, no, no.

Teacher (smashing bottle against wall and thrusting jagged edge towards face of child):  Well you’d better take this then, it’s a bit rough in there.

Anyway N managed to avoid a couple of nasty encounters before his pal saw the futility of his situation and buggered off to play on the train tracks (they’re not real train tracks by the way) though frankly if they had been it would have been significantly safer than the football match cum massacre that was occurring on the other side of the playground.

So they stuck him in goal.  Bless him.  No problem – all he had to do was stand there and shiver until the ball got punted down the pitch in his direction closely followed by a marauding pack of year 3 Uruk-Hai (tonight you will eat man flesh.)

And my son stood his ground to catch the ball and chuck it back down the pitch.  

Actually he did nothing of the sort.  If ever, in a single moment, proof was required that maybe Richard Dawkins had a point about genetics after all it was then.  For just like his father would have done in the same situation N legged it around the back of the net muttering ‘bugger that’ under his breath as he went.

I was so proud.

N didn’t seem to care – he was already on his way to the train tracks to find his mate.

And the fighting Uruk-Hai didn’t even seem to notice.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

DJ All The Way (2)

Was that a prophecy?  DJ’s on his way alright – all the way to Birmingham.