Wednesday, May 31, 2006

#74 on missing deadlines

Current mood – hassled (I hate letting people down)
Current music – ‘blue light’ by David Gilmour

I had it al planned – how I was going to have all my greenbelt programme booked up in good time for the 31 May deadline.  And then the finding a new job stuff intervened and pushed it all back.  And then I put some time aside this week and that got taken over by other work stuff including the dentist – I’ve got to have a filling – bugger.  And then I still had time tonight until I remembered I had agreed to baby-sit for some friends.

So I got home at 11:45 to send off a ¾ complete programme topped up with apologies.

And tomorrow more stuff is happening including an option to appear like a father.  But I’ll find some time and O and S at the greenbelt office are way too forgiving plus they are on holiday and (please don’t take this as a lackadaisical attitude on my part) I’m sure it’ll turn out ok in the end.

I need to go to bed now if I’m to get behind all this in the morning.  This nearly 40 year old frame can’t sustain a late finish and an early start.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

#73 on why we don't need Gates if there are no boundaries

Current mood: extreme pleasure
current mood: 'Flight of the Bumblebee' orig. Rimsykorsakov arr. Wynton Marsalis

For all of you who have been having good thoughts for me may I offer my thanks, for I am now the holder of a brand new position of work. In September I shall be Assistant Headteacher (Asshead for short) at Chalkhill Primary School in Wembley. I am over the moon about it all and just want you all to know (a) how happy I am to be starting there and (b) how happy I am to be leaving Marlborough. What started out as an exercise in 'keeping one's options box topped up' ended up becoming a realisation that however much I may have invested in an institution and however much loyalty I may have shown, there's not a lot of point in continuing to be treated like shit when there's other bosses out there who'll give you a chance.

And there's also the 10k salary increase too.

Second bit of news with a liberation motif concerns my fast sagging computer. Difford and Tilbrook wrote, 'my assets froze, while yours have dropped' and I think that pretty much sums up my PC. If I was this age in the 70's I'd have probably had my head under the bonnet of my Ford Cortina every weekend but for me it's the bonnet of my PC. But the truth is I'm too old and too grumpy to care that much anymore and what was once (though I say so myself) a damn good set up is now slowly falling into dishevellment and disrepair.

First my hard drive packed up. Not a big deal in itself the only thing not backed up was the tonnes of music from Napster that I couldn't burn to disc or play unless I resubscribed to Napster or wait for the hack to arrive that would let me burn it. 160 gigs down the pan. Bugger.

And then Microsoft had the brainwave to tell me that my copy of Windows might not be genuiine. Nice one Bill - like you are. So now I have to wait 5 seconds to start Windows and endure constant messages about how I can pay £95 to make the piece of shit aka Windows XP work.

Time for a change methinks. Now I have been thinking about a laptop lately. A sort of 'well done on fooling another head teacher into employing you' present to myself and the new Macbook Pro looks very inviting. But I still need a machine at home for the kids and A to hammer so some creative thinking was required. And then it hit me! Duh! After all these years of avoiding the brown rice and sandals of the OS worldIi suddenly brought Linux to mind. It's free (well mostly) andIi might be able to talk my remaining hard drive into becoming a dual boot system just to try it out.

So today has been spent finding out that the good idea of converting my drives to dynamic drives was a bad idea, finding an old 10gig bad boy in the attic that had some stuff onI'dd thought I'd lost to repartition, coming across Xandros which I installed before typing this very blog entry happilyy enveloped in the warm embrace of an Operating System that is neither Micro$oft nor paid for. Smiling.

I'm still working what it can do (most things) and what it can't (some things). I'm going to have to revert to an older version of Office and then pay for the right to modify those MSdocumentss in OpenOffice.Org but the cost is bundled up in upgrading the version of Xandros to include DVD burning and some other bits and bobs including, wait for it, anti virus software! I mean who the hell would want to clobber me and the other half a dozen Linux users in the world. But I'm not complaining. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the trojans and shit that are flying around a the moment are very discriminating about the OS they attack.

So here's to my new job, my new OS and my new improved outlook on life.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

#72 on late nights, triathlons and powerpoint

Current mood – tired but well satisfied
Current music – ‘Red Sky at Night’ by David Gilmour

Well I did it. I completed the Hatch End Triathlon in 1 hour 27 minutes this morning and I am very chuffed. With reference to a previous post, no I did not employ the service of St John’s Ambulance and yes I also came in well inside my target time of 90 minutes. So well done me.

Stiff as a board obviously. Supremely knackered. But satisfied.

could have prepared better by not getting to bed at 2:15 am but we got home rather late after A's final installment of her 40th birthday celebrations. it was great seeing her getting more and more pissed as her father and step-mum plied us and some of A's friends all with wonderful food and wonderful drink. i unfortunatley because of taxi dutoies and impending triathlon could not partake o the alcohol but nevertheless had a smashing eveing in the company of some smashing people.

This evening i've been working on a couple of presentations for the interviews coming up this week. I personally find PowerPoint presentations extremely annoying because they distract the listener away from the speaker by silly animations. So I have tried not to fall into that trap myself and have kept it all rather simple and consistent.

We’ll see.

I won’t deny I’m nervous about the interviews . But it’s an excited kind of nervous – the type you get when you know it’s achievable with a bit of hard work and commitment.

So do spare a good thought if you happen to have any spare this week.

Friday, May 19, 2006

#71 on being careful what you wish for

Current mood – daunted but pleased to be so
Current music - Die Zauberflöte: Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen

As the Queen of the Night tells us (albeit on a top f) that the vengeance of hell is in her heart, bless her heart I proudly blog tonight of being granted a couple of interviews.  Truth is I don’t really want to leave my current place of work and if these events help to focus my boss’s mind on retaining my services I will not accept (assuming I’m offered) a new position but I think that she may have painted herself into a corner and I may have succeeded in more than just keeping my options box topped up I may have actually forced myself to think that I can do better and desrve better than the constant stream of shit that I have been shovelling for too long now.

So we’ll see.

Problem is the mind shift and time commitment to search for a new job and then apply and then prepare or an interview is immense.  Other commitments such as organising the funny bits for a festival and giving a church a sense of vision and direction are not getting the time and head space they deserve so I for one will be very happy when the events of next week are over – whatever the outcome.

So be careful what you wish for… you might just get it.

#70 on a gig by a man the man who wrote ‘grace and gratitude’ and, in so doing, changed my world

Current music:  Crazy by Seal
Current Mood:  very relaxed

I went to see A sing at The Recycle Collective just the other night.  Not only was I treated to some music that was truly exquisite, I also bumped into some friends connected with the Greenbelt Festival and was able to sort a couple of bits out on that score.

A and I are very keen to explore the medium of music that we were treated to the other night – looping, where layers of sound are laid down in turns and then mixed and painted onto a aural canvas that teases the mind into imagining which layer is which and what is being played for the first time.  Eventually one’s brain gives up and lets go and allows the music to flow over and through and beyond and you are left feeling that you’ve been massaged by a whole symphony orchestra when in fact it was just the deft touch of a sublime bassist, opera singer and virtuoso violinist that were doing the damage all on their own.  So we are going to get our hands on some cheap looping kit and have a go ourselves.  I’m keen on the work of Steve Reich and feel that the creative ideas sparked by his work could lead to some interesting collaborations.

Steve you drag me from suburban mediocrity.

Monday, May 15, 2006

#69 on training for a triathlon

Current mood – upbeat (1 application form down 3 to go)
Current music – ‘And She Was’ by Talking Heads

What was I thinking?  Was it one of those desperate moments when I needed to prove my masculinity?  Had I been hypnotised or duped into thinking I really am some iron man trapped in this overweight body that’s in love with food in any guise?

Well whatever but I’m pretty excited (if a little knackered from the training) to have entered the Hatch End Triathlon 2006.  Suburban mediocrity in a single event.  Roll up, roll up, roll up.

400m swim, 17k cycle, 3k run – consecutively not all at the same time you understand.  The swim is my weakest event.  I seem to thrash the water to foam and succeed in moving backwards slowly.  The cycle is my best event and can probably knock out the 17k in about 35 minutes.  The run should be ok as long as I don’t go completely bananas on the bike and leave myself with nothing in the tank for the run.

My aim is firstly to finish without employing the services of St Johns Ambulance.  My second aim is to do it all in less than 90 minutes.  My third aim is to not look like a tit trying to prove he’s not 38.

I’ve been training hard – at the gym by 6:30 and out in the evening too.  It’s getting me fitter and lighter too (I’m 2 stone lighter than I used to be) and what with a tai chi work out to settle everything down I feel quite clear in the head too.

The only problem with it is timing. (Is there ever a good time?)  I’m currently applying for 4 jobs and the dead lines for the forms start hitting this week.  Plus I’ve got a church leadership team meeting on Wednesday night (so I’ll miss the football – bugger) and I’m going to see Andrea sing and Steve caress at the Recycle Collective on Thursday and then, double bugger, it’s Andrea’s birthday dinner party on Saturday night, the night before the bloody race so no alcohol for me.

The sacrifices an elite athlete has to make.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

#68 on how hopeless I am at keeping in touch

Current Mood – nervous (thinking about an awkward conversation I’m going to have with my boss tomorrow)
Current Music – Angel by The Eurythmics (beautiful song with sublime bass line)

Didn’t blog last night because I was pissed.  As a fart.  

Source of inebriation was a stag night for an old friend with whom I have managed only sporadic contact in the years since the heady days of Friday night Youth group meetings.  Also assembled was the gang from all those years ago.  Friends to whom I have barely spoken in the past few years, friends that I once held dear, friends who deserved better.

But we were all in the same boat and with a collective muttering of ‘bloody hell’ under our breaths we all putthe guilt of wasted years behind us and got into some serious catching up.  We swapped children’s names and photos of them on our mobile phones.  We swapped stories of house prices and percentage increases (viewers of grumpy old men last Friday will know exactly what I mean).  We swapped realisations of impending and actual mid-life crises and we swapped email addresses with firm commitments to keep in touch.

I think I will keep these commitments.  Maybe that’s my admission of my mid-life crisis.  

At least I know now that I am not unusual in turning out to be suburban and mediocre.

Friday, May 12, 2006

#67 on getting frigged about by the NHS

Current mood – relaxed if a little tired
Current music – overture from the marriage of Figaro by Mozart

Having just watched ‘Grumpy Old Men’ I should be saying how rotten our health service is and indeed… I shall.  Bugger it I was going to justify a line of ‘how lucky we are’ but I’m too knackered and frankly too cross to make an attempt at balance.

Spare a good thought for my mate K.  9 years old, took a tumble from a climbing frame, landed on his arm, snap.  So serious is the fracture they’re going to have to pin it.  Must have hurt to buggery.  You’d think he’d be seen quick.  

How long, do you reckon?

36 hours.

If it wasn’t for the fact that his mum works for the health service and knew the premed procedures she’d have to have cuddled him through the night in the A&E waiting room; as it was she took him home for the night.

He’s a good kid with a cheeky grin.  No one deserves this.  So spare a thought.

Worse still for K.  It’s his left arm and he’s right handed.  So no getting out of school work.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

#66 on nightmare deterrents

Current mood – coming down (just listened to Brentford get 1-1 draw in play-offs)
Current music – ‘Blackbird’ by Sarah Mclachan from the soundtrack ‘I am Sam’

N has been going to bed with his socks on lately.  This is the standard Romanian technique for ridding children of nightmares.  According to B, a native of Romania, it’s impossible to have bad dreams if you are wearing socks.  N went for it and we’ve not had a middle of the night visit for over week now.  I’ve started pulling them off when I kiss him goodnight – when he told me that he’d found them in the bed I told him that good dreams cause your socks to come off.  He went for that too.  There’s such beauty in that kind of gullibility.  

(By the way, is it me or is pulling off socks one of the most satisfying feelings going, not the sticky tug of war or the squash of the fold over method but the smooth swish of the toe end yank.)

Last night, N hurt his finger and cried for a plaster and I thought we would be in for a night of bad dreams – it’s the standard precursor.  So I reached for strategy number one – the brush off – I told him it was nothing.  Then he said his ears hurt and that he was falling apart and the sobs and the tears.  He really meant it.

Choosing strategy number two I scooped him into my arms and told him that it was all going to be fine and that I’d never let anything happen to him (oh if only I could really make that promise) and then it came, the silver bullet, straight to the heart…

Daddy I don’t want to die.

Can you remember the first time you considered your own mortality?

No wonder he wept.

No wonder I wept.

[subtext translator on]

Daddy I didn’t want you to die.  
Daddy I wanted you to make me extravagant promises you couldn’t possibly keep.

[subtext translator off]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

#65 on owning up to not being able to do something

Current mood:  relief (at being back)
Current music:  none (I can’t type what I’m about to type with any distractions)

I find myself creeping back to this online outpouring of inner digestion following the death of my father.

You, my dear reader, are now sitting comfortably reading this and have no idea how long that previous sentence took to type.

I could baffle you with supercilious and condescending psychobabble about how I’m coping but the truth is I’m finding it hard – not hard to cope, God knows (literally) that I’ve been coping for years, no finding it hard to have any kind of emotional literacy with which to articulate the cloying emptiness that has filled my quiet moments and the dull hollow clang that sounds when I tap my heart.  I needed to take some time out – blogging about my Dad has been impossible and blogging about anything else would have seemed crass.

The fact is I don’t know how to grieve.

Now if that isn’t suburban mediocrity I truly don’t know what is.