Wednesday, 30 September 2009
If, ten years ago, I'd been able to foresee where I am now I would have been surprised. That goes for all stages of my life too. We cannot foresee, no matter how hard we try, where we will end up on life's roller coaster.
A friend was expressing anxiety about a teenage child's first attempts to get a job; a job that is likely to be unrelated to any training the teenager has had.
Haven't we all been there? Both as a parent and as that teenager. I'd done well at school and gone into accountancy before ending up as an insurance man; and never looked back.
I've come to the conclusion that it isn't what we end up doing IN our lives it is what we end up doing WITH our lives that is important. By that I mean how we react to the challenge of just living.
Take the here and now in my life. My wife worries at the transition we are in which has been down to me. She would have happily stayed in the tracks we were in. She doesn't like change.
Me? Well, if I'd been like that I'd never have met her - she was that sweet girl in the insurance office.
Life's a roller coaster so let's enjoy the journey.
Monday, 28 September 2009
But a couple of weeks ago I actually performed that trick.
I'd been making home made soups with pulses along with home made baked beans and the like. And of course the result was a little breezy around the back door. It didn't matter, or so I thought, because at home I was generally alone and at work would be too once out in the van.
On a visit I'll knock on the door to make sure the customer is in and happy to have their stuff dropped at that door. I'll leave them the invoice so they can check any changes to the order while I pop back to the van to get the groceries and on that day drop a fart.
So there I am merrily bending over to pull a 'tote' (big blue plastic boxes we use) to the door to load it onto my trolley. I suddenly got this compulsion to let rip. Oh well, better here in the van than at the customer's doorstep.
I had the longest loudest fart I have had in a long while. I even wondered if they'd have heard it over at the house. It hurt a little too, such was the force.
Then I heard a cough, no it wasn't a follow on fart or an echo.
It was the customer. He had followed me back to the van to help me. Some nice people do. His face will have been exactly at arse level and about three feet away.
I was mortified.
I got the same customers the following week.
He didn't follow me out to the van though.
Saturday, 26 September 2009
Today it was just the two of us so we had a lazy stroll around the grounds.
There is something about early Autumn. The trees are still full of leaves but they are starting to rust. Hints of yellow, red and brown suffuse the old green of late summer. The sun is too tired to get to the giddy heights of high summer and lolls around casting longer shadows giving a depth that you don't get at any other time of the year. Bit like middle age.
Even when tired though, the sun is glorious. It kissed the ripples on the water a thousand times; each one a momentary goose-pimple of light.
And then there is the deceptive warmth. I say deceptive because in the shadows lurk the chills of colder times to come.
Throw in the Hips, Haws, Rowan berries and you have a warmth that is more apparent than real. A last hurrah of colour before the greys of winter.
I didn't take my camera but then I wondered if I'd have been able to capture that fragile warmth and colour of the day. I doubt it. Better to imagine it and hope that my words evoke in you, dear reader, a glimmer of what we experienced.
I never cease to be amazed, even at my time of life, at how a day can be so unique.
Friday, 25 September 2009
I get up and have a coffee with Mrs AWB before she goes to work. Then I play on the computer for an hour before the cleansing ritual; teeth and bath.
Why do we do our teeth in front of a mirror? I do, don't you? No idea why. I know where my mouth is. It's not as though I've forgotten during the night. I've proof; I found it again this morning to pour coffee down it. I wouldn't miss it without the mirror.
So there I was with my electric tooth brush stuck in my gob gurning away while I sent it vibrating off to various nooks and crannies in my mouth.
I was feeling quite good about myself; the weight loss is showing itself in my reduced 'hamster jowls'. I don't look as though I'm hiding my nuts in my cheeks which I tend to do when I put weight on.
But something else wiped the smile from face. Well, a weird tooth brushy smile.
A white nasal hair.
Whitey was back. At least he was on his own. Lately he has started to bring his mates for a bit of fun. I yank them all out but they always return to torment me. So, this morning was no exception. I sent my fingers in to the attack and they came back with their prize; black hairs. I'd missed and Whitey was still there, brazenly standing in all his whiteness. I tried again. More black hairs. And again.
By now I'm sure I heard him laughing at my inept assaults. He was standing even more proud now, waving at me. His black companions having been wiped out; a positively deforested left nostril.
So I got my tweezers. Yes, I have a posh little leather-cased manicure set complete with scissors, files, clippers and some strange thing that looks like a dental implement. Being a man I use that to clean my ears.
This time my attack was serious; a new weapon he he. I aimed, took hold and yanked with victory in sight.
A fucking black hair again!!!. Whitey just smiled and waved again, not for long though. My second tweezer assault worked and there I was with my prize gripped in the tweezers.
Now I have a completely naked left nostril. When I looked at my right one I didn't see any hairs. I think they've all gone hiding at the back behind the bogeys.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
I beg you.
I'm sitting here with a large....no, huge whisky and soda.....and, I might add, am already having to type....yes. TYPE....this missive verrrrry slowly. And even then it involves missed keys and all sorts of silly mistakes.
Phew! That took ages.
So what am I rambling on about?.......................... Hang on, I need a refill.
It's about my little job. Little? Well, not tonight.
I had a full load on and I had to ride into one of the worst areas of Leeds for traffic at about the busiest time of the day. Ho hum. Been there before. Set off half an hour early and you have some time to play with.
That was the plan. It started to go awry on my journey to my first call - or 'drop' as we call them - (jeeze, typing when you are half-cut is a pain!). My half hour advantage had been whittled down to ten minutes. Bugger.
The next one was fun. Satnav took me in circles; great! The 'notes' said, 'No.1 Bum Mews, Opposite No.99 Pissing Lane'. OK got that; got there. All the entrances leading off Pissing Lane looked alike and there could have been a few opposite No.99.
So I rang the customer. The answerphone went along the lines of, "Chortle chortle, I don't usually respond to messages (Oh great!) but if you are absolutely desperate to contact me you can text me on -expletive deleted'"
I left a message telling her that I was going to go to my next call and to reply if she could. On my way to the next 'drop' I rang 'No.1 Bum Mews' again -don't know why - and, surprise surprise, she answered. I told her I'd get to her after 'Crap Lane'
Next call; I got to where the Satnav took me. The address was 99c Crap Lane. Satnav took me to 99 Crap Lane. Hey ho. Not far. I rang the 'Crap Lane' customer. Time is ticking away remember, 'Oh, haven't you got instructions?'
'Nope' I tried to sound neutral. Not sure I succeeded.
I won't bore you with the details - I'd love to really - but it added yet more time as I drove around to the rear of No 86. It was quite convoluted.
After that I had driven back to 'Opposite No.99 Pissing Lane'; she'd answered the phone by then. Bastard, the street sign for No.1 Bum Mews was hidden behind bins -the bin men are on strike; oh bugger.
And so we move on. I actually had a couple of straightforward 'drops' before approaching this; No 17 Shit Parade.
Satnav took me past No 11. It was on quite a busy route; luckily quiet at eight or so in the evening. OK then. I drove past 11 and lo....................I passed No.41. Bugger.
I'd driven past all sorts, including 'Bastards Lawns'
I rang the customer and described where I was. 'Oh well, you need to go up the drive next to, 'Silly Old Twats nursing home'.
Me, 'OK, I'm facing this way - I described that - so which direction do I go?' She repeated, 'As I said, up the drive next to the Silly Old Twats Nursing Home'
I did that.
It seemed to be a private home. I drove up and turned around in some-ones back yard. I heard a loud 'twang' , a kind of cartoon kind of noise. It was a washing line.
I rang the customer again; 'I'm near the Silly Old Twats Nursing Home'.
'Oh?' she sounded confused, so I said, almost in passing, 'I'm opposite Bastard Lawns'. I was parked there; I'd been there ten minutes before; Bugger; bastard!!!!
'We're up at the end of that', as though stating the obvious. The twat, why hadn't she told me?
Hey Ho. It all seemed so serious when it happened.
Now, all I can think about is the poor confused sod who finds his/her washing line defunct next morning.
Kinda makes up for a shitty shift.
.............and I'm fully cut now.
I have after my last post and the comments that it attracted. They were all along the same lines of my post; 'I've put the effort in but it has not been returned' kind of thing.
I don't deny that you - and I - feel like that about the friends that we have in mind.
But maybe if we asked them they might come up with a different perspective?
I'll start. Take my friend I was talking about. He is an ordinary manual working guy who has never had 'loadsamoney'; he is far more intelligent than his job would have you think though. A very perceptive man.
But he has low self esteem.
So imagine this; he has a good friend who rolls up in his flash Jaguar and is (not any more) able to buy whatever he wants.
Edit; maybe when I think I'm 'giving' he doesn't see it that way. Just a thought.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I'll give you an example. I have a pal who I've known for about thirty years. He has described me as his best friend. When I had my business I would often have a reason to travel to his neck of the woods - he lives about 30 miles away now - and we would meet up. It would be at my instigation though. Had to be in a way as it was me doing the travelling.
However, sometimes I would go out of my way and arrange a meet. He knew this. He would very rarely reciprocate. Never came over to see me unless I made a point of inviting him for some reason. I would remonstrate and the response would be, 'you know what I'm like'; with the caveat, 'I've been meaning to ring you' and yes he always has been a bit reticent in making the first moves in any friendship thing. All sorts of reasons. Some people feel awkward. With some its a power thing. Some are just submissive in any relationship. There are different dynamics with each relationship.
Now I don't travel much and my work means that I'm more tied up during the week so I haven't rung to meet up or anything like that. He hasn't either. He knows my circumstances but still has not moved that little extra to keep in touch. And I'm disappointed.
You see there has to be a balance. Give and take. If a someone's circumstances change a true friend would take up the slack and fill any gap. I suspect now that he may feel a little awkward at the gap and be avoiding ringing me. Or he will assume I'll eventually ring. What will I do? Not sure.
Frankly, when people get lazy regarding my willingness to give without getting much back I get pissed off and draw a line. Like I say there has to be a balance. With this guy there will be reason for me, yes me again, to contact him; birthdays etc. I will.
But I won't run around after his friendship again.
Friendships need to be worked at. Otherwise they are just a convenience. Then they die.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
She has a point in a way. Some people when they want something will just go and get it without any thought NOW. They will not savour the wait. Why should they?
Because to wait for something allows you to imagine experiencing whatever it is that you are looking for within your mind. That is unique because the reality will be so different; maybe better or worse. That doesn't matter because that difference will add another dimension to the experience.
And is it so bad to have so much on tap? So much that can reduce the need to wait; to anticipate?
Not at all. We have control over what we anticipate. We can anticipate more if we wish. Years ago we HAD to anticipate something; the purchase of a book; the film on telly scheduled for next week and so on.
Now we can choose. We can still anticipate if we wish. And we have more things we can anticipate, a positive cornucopia of anticipatory delights.
However the choice I have mentioned means that we have control over whether or not we choose to experience anticipation. Before we had to; now we can choose to.
Our choice. I choose anticipation, whether it be a meal on Friday; a meeting with a friend; a glass of wine on Thursday night; a holiday in March; seeing Granddaughter today.....I could go on...and on.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
If you are a local government worker or something similar; a state-funded worker, for instance, you may have heard of it. Here is the link . Do have a look.
Funny eh? I had a look at the equicoaching section. Apparently horses are, and I'll quote this, 'one of life's natural leaders'. Wow, that's a revelation. Does that mean that if I allow myself to be saddled up and ridden, shot, eaten and other things that I am a leader??
The whole aim of these courses is to enable people to develop their non-verbal communication skills; body language to you and me. Quite how interaction with horses helps I'm not sure.
I tell you something though; the whole concept communicates to me - a taxpayer - a complete insensitivity to the rest of society who has to pay for this.
In my delivery job I work with underpaid people. I'm lucky. I get a pension and have other strings to my bow. The job is almost a hobby. Some of my younger colleagues aren't in such a fortunate position. One guy comes to mind. He's in his thirties, married, kids, a bit rough.
But the guy is a lovely man. He is honest, hardworking and has an instinct for people. He has compassion and integrity; rare. We have one of those unwritten 'man-things'; that mutual respect between two guys who trust each other. We help each other without question. He jokes that I must be a millionaire owing to the car I drive and the house I live in. He will never get to have what I have.
But he doesn't resent it. If he did he'd show it or even tell me. He's blunt; typical Yorkshire.
He is a taxpayer. He pays for shit like this so that pompous twits can go and feel important doing something that has absolutely no bearing on what they are employed for.
He will live in a little semi, possibly council, and not be able to afford to go near any horse or to take his kids for a ride on a horse.
Sometimes the iniquities of society hit me quite hard. That article in the Sunday Times did. It shows, for me anyway, how people soon lose touch once they are put into a position divorced from others in a different position.
Let's spell it out. The guy I work with will be on about £15,000 a year; tops. His taxes will pay for people on twice that, people who can afford to go on nice holidays; possibly with horses even, to go on these courses.
Some of these people who think up these schemes to spend our money should maybe be forced to serve a little time doing a mundane job - like the one this guy and I do perhaps - and hopefully have their eyes opened.
Hopefully it would rein in their sillier ideas; hopefully they'd saddle up their sanity.
But neigh, it will never happen.
Friday, 18 September 2009
Every time I have done something interesting in my life it has been when I have stepped outside the norm.
My first job was as a trainee accountant. It had status, potential to make a lot of money and my parents approved because I'd get a qualification and be a son to be proud of.
And it was fucking boring!
The local Co-op insurance manager tapped me for a job. My father was horrified. An insurance man!!! He was only mollified when I said there was some qualification I could take. I wanted to do it because I knew it would suit me and help me develop my social skills. You see I was awkward, shy and never really felt comfortable with people. That job knocked the corners off me because I had no choice but to face some of my demons. The fact that I did it and proved good at it made me successful in my own eyes.
I had stepped outside and thought.
It's the same now. I have sold my lucrative business and caused some consternation amongst family, friends and colleagues. Why do it? Because I stepped outside and realised that I couldn't function in that business anymore for all sorts of reasons. I had reached a personal cul de sac. And I had to exorcise yet more demons. I have to get this writing bug lanced for one thing.
Most people don't do that. I know this because I saw so many as a financial adviser and now as a delivery man. They get on one of the tram lines of life and stay there without a sideways look, without stopping off at a station. They run with society's vision of what they should be, not their own. They are too afraid to get off and have a look. Then, if they have any imagination, they wonder why they are dissatisfied.
I know why. They have turned a blind eye to their own demons, their own fantasies and get to a position where they 'wonder if......'. And most of the tram lines of life are geared towards one thing; status and money. That is how society, that is how most people judge success; how we measure each other.
The trouble with that is that there will always be someone with more money, more status than ourselves. We can never be the best if that is the only way we judge our success. So we get dissatisfied.
We all succumb to degree. I bought a Jaguar partly as a statement to everyone - 'look at me, I can afford one of these'. The trouble is, no sooner had I got it than someone got a newer one and now there is a new model and mine is starting to look its age.
Will I get another? No, I can't afford one at the moment but even if I could I wouldn't. I had a look at the new model and it just felt wrong when I got in it. I don't need to look successful because I don't care as much as I used to. I only want money so that I can do what I want to do.
Status? Every institution that involves more than one person has a pecking order, a hierarchy that involves status. It's the human way. I tend to recoil from that. I don't even bother with message boards because there is a hierarchy there. Writer's clubs? what a joke they can be as people pontificate to get noticed.
I am still outside, still not on one of those tram lines of life. Will my life continue to be colourful in its own little way?
Well it won't if I get back on the wrong tram line. You see there is a choice. We just have to look sideways and then have the courage, once in a while, to step off and think; to find that tram line that suits.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
I loved it and was usually one of the top salesmen.
I got used to working on my own for very good money and not many hours. When I completed a a survey I had trouble describing myself as full-time. This lasted for about 10 years until I decided to take the promotion trail. They were 10 lovely years full of fun. I was young, the job kept me fit and I met lots of nice people, a few idiots.
Most of the people I saw were women; this was in the days when a man worked and a woman stayed at home. Traditional working class.
A lot of these women saw me as a little light relief to the monotony of their day. I was young, attractive and personable. However, within a few short months of starting this job I had met my wife and didn't want to stray; partly because I am basically a one woman man but also for the practical reasons of not mixing business and pleasure. I was, though, sometimes met with suspicion by the husbands.
Most of the women were happy to keep it like that. Even if they liked to tease a little I'm quite sure they would have run a mile, kicked me in the balls or cracked me over the head if I'd responded overtly.
Some did push it though and I developed avoidance tactics.
I soon learnt that sitting on a settee could be risky; they'd sit close, very close.
If I sat on a comfy single chair with arms, one or two would sit on the arm, very close again.
If I stood and lent against the kitchen counter one or two would come and lean against me; very very close.
I ended up standing behind a chair with a back big enough to rest my round book on. They couldn't really sidle up suggestively there. I'd carry with me an air of urgency and tell them how busy I was (I rarely was) and never ever accepted any drinks unless I felt safe.
Sometimes my guard slipped; 3 examples for your amusement.
Very early on I used to call on this smelly house. Rank homes were an occupational hazard of my job. Think stale, sour, rancid. Add in sweat, piss and old cooking fat, stir it all up and you should get the idea. Hot days could be challenging and as I got tougher I stopped dealing with the worst of these people. I didn't early on though. I called on this bottle blond who lived like a pig. She always had me traipsing back and forth to get the money and then keep me talking.
Now, in my efforts to be nice I generally tried to compliment a client on something about their home or whatever. This was often a challenge. It was in her house. I got invited into the lounge one day - she had a female mate with her - and looked around for something to mention. Without thinking I alighted on the one thing that stood out as being clean; a picture on the wall.
'That's a nice picture' dropped from my mouth without any thought.
She leered at me and suddenly started talking about me as her 'bit' to this friend who was equally obnoxious; a bit like this.
I left in a hurry and lapsed the business off for non-payment. The picture had been of a naked lady.....doh!
Totally different was the South American beauty. She was married to an English guy; a wimp and flaunted her sexuality in a way I've never seen before or since in normal life.
Remember hot pants? She wore those; I think she sprayed them on. And cheese cloth blouses? See-through and with no bra, tied around the mid-riff. Oh my word.
But get this; she'd wear no knickers too and this was in the days before pube-shaving. She was no Brazilian, she was a Bolivian! And with a generous bush too. She teased her pubic hair out of either side of her crotch and stood slightly open-legged so that two generous black tufts could be seen very clearly.
Dick and I stood very rigid, gawping at this vision while she regaled me with tales of her boyfriends. I never listened much; far too distracted.
Lastly the subject of the title. I used to call on this middle-aged lady. She was sophisticated in my eyes; given that most of my clients were traditional working class. I liked her and would linger and chat.
One day I ventured to sit next to her on her settee; I liked to tease too! She smiled and we had a very short conversation that went something like this;
'I've been told I'm very good on the pink oboe. ' she told me.
'Oh?' completely non-plussed as I'd never heard that expression before, 'Pink?' I queried, 'Is it plastic?' I tried to imagine a pink 'musical instrument' oboe.
The conversation sort of died after that.
Sometimes I'd get home to my young fiance, and later wife, feeling decidedly horny.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
It surprises me how many people are on there and places like it. They use their real names too. I think I may have mentioned that I have an account but under a different name.
But then I thought. Technology develops all the time and with it our ability to trace other people and find out about them. You can do a lot of 'Family Tree' research on the web that couldn't be done a few short years ago.
So, bearing in mind all the personal information that we trust to our various web accounts I do wonder just how much of it will remain private.
Now I can google my own name and come up with various 'John Bennisons'; including a bishop linked in a sexual misdemeanour case! No doubt my blog will appear somewhere as I post my own name on it.
Consider this though. There are various tracing sites. As that technology develops just how 'safe' are those accounts I have?
In ten or twenty years time will somone, my daughter or wife for instance, be able to trace my email account and find an easy way to read it? Will there even be the technology to 'read' stuff that was deleted years back?
Maybe not but it does make you wonder.
It's a little like electronic DNA if you think about it. A misdemeanour can get solved nowadays because of technology advances that the perpetrator never expected just a mere twenty years back when it was committed.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
I pose the question because it struck me tonight how patronising society is to women. And how women seem to accept it and join in.
Why tonight? Well, I ambled on to 'Statcounter' to see who'd been reading and who'd posted any comments. As you do. And there at the bottom left was this photo of a pretty girl with the headline, 'How does she look so thin?' with a link to the 'secret diet' that celebrities use, apparently.
So, of course, I had a look out of idle curiosity. I didn't read any of it but noticed that a doctor was highlighted. A man, of course, and he seemed to recommend it. Then there were a string of 'Oh how wonderful this is' comments from 'Carol' and 'Barb' and the like; no men.
I've never seen an advert, 'How does HE look so thin' with a female doctor telling ME I should get skinny to appeal to women.
My reaction would be, FUCK THAT FOR A LARK.....and then I'd eat a greasy burger or summat.
And maybe women should say the same.
My daughter rebels against this sort of thing. She is 'big' but she has admirers and although she would look nicer if she lost a little I do understand her 'bugger that' attitude. I'd be the same if I were a woman, I think.
When I tried to come out of that link I was met with 'are you sure?'. It took a couple of clicks. That made me even more angry.
The only other sites that try that technique are some of the porno sites; and then I'm frantically clicking away trying to get rid of the bastard like some electronic snot that just won't go away.
Funny old world innit.
Keith Floyd was 'in yer face' He was honest and he could be a tactless twat too.
But he had talent and had something to offer. His fame was based on his ability to cook and his ability to communicate an enthusiasm for cooking that no other TV chef has been able to equal.
I still watch his around the world things, some I've seen two or three times. I'd never do that with any other TV chef.
When I cook it is Keith Floyd who I have in mind. And I usually do it with a glass or two of wine too.
I started watching him being interviewed by Keith Allen last night. I stopped. Why? He looked old, his voice was thin and Keith Allen seemed to be encouraging him to be outrageous. And because Keith Floyd didn't really give a fig he obliged. I thought he was being interviewed as an oddity to an extent and sensed that something might happen to him; he looked decrepit and could hardly walk.
That's not how I want to remember him.
I'm going to remember that enthusiastic unpredictability of the man in front of his portable stove; not the poor old sod I saw last night.
On Friday I'm going to cook a Keith Floyd tribute - and probably get pissed too.
Monday, 14 September 2009
We went to a place that had a veteran car rally near our home yesterday and saw one of these;
It is a Sunbeam Alpine and we had one over thirty years ago. Ours was white too. It was one of my first cars. It looked great and I felt like the dog's bollocks driving it. It was absolutely terrible for road holding though. When I looked inside the one I saw yesterday I was struck by how basic it was.
It made me realise just how far we have come when it comes to cars.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Well, here is a site that may solve that challenge.
It did for us today. We came up with this.
The venue was about five minutes away from our home; boat rides on the canal - we went on two, vintage cars, face painting, the water mill - a weird Willy Wonka steam driven oddity, a survivalist giving lessons on how to make fire - all sorts - and it was all free too. Granddaughter seemed to find the Blacksmith the most interesting thing; he taught us about tempered iron. He made some pincers; even piercing a hole with a hot punch thingy. He was enthusiastic but not that good; kept dropping stuff.
There is so much to see around us and so much of it is so near too.
Saturday, 12 September 2009
By one in the afternoon it is a different story. Everyone and his granny is out. The car parks are full. It is noisy. If we persevere 'til mid-afternoon it is worse. The kids are tired and moaning but the parents are determined to see it through. We hardly ever stay that long. We are often ready for home by about one.
We went to Beningbrough Hall this morning. It is a fail safe place we go to when we aren't sure what to do. And being members of the national trust it is free. We arrived at about eleven when it opens and were gone by one.
By then it was heaving. But we had seen it when quiet; the gardens that is. We rarely go in the house. But the gardens are idyllic.
All we wanted was an hour or two in that glorious autumnal sunshine that we had today. We got that and got to continue it in our garden back home.
By two I was sat underneath our umbrella with a cold beer, a book I'd bought for two quid at the hall and dozed in the sunshine with the butterflies floating about.
We had got to experience the best of everything; peace at our venue of choice and at home too. Our neighbours were all probably at Beningbrough.
What does everyone do on a Saturday morning?
Friday, 11 September 2009
I'm a noisy eater, or at least used to be. I tame it a little now. It's a family thing. When my wife first had a meal with my mum, dad and sister she was gobsmacked by the lip smacking volubility of our table.
She used to say I sounded as though I were marching through Poland, such was my enthusiastic masticating.
Her solution? Well, an awareness has resulted in a reduction in decibels but there are times when my enthusiasm escapes and I find myself chomping away without a care. At least I do it with my mouth closed.
So we have music. Usually something soothing like a Julian Bream guitar piece, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream or Bruch's violin concerto.
Now if we ate to Wagner or Beethoven it could be fun. Or some of the faster paced pieces from the likes of Mozart.
Hmm, I'll leave it to your imaginations now.
For me yes. I work Monday to Thursday so when I get home, Thursday night I have my first glass of wine of the week. A little celebration. Don't get me wrong, I like my little job but the prospect of having a day when I can do just what I want is enthralling.
Last Friday I saw a good friend. Today is to be writing and gardening; the weather is supposed to be good and that autumnal glow you get at this time of year is so lovely. And then a take-out tonight at the behest of Granddaughter who will be staying. All in all, a very promising day.
So a Friday, for me is a special day. I try to plan it that way. That's what we all do isn't it? We build a little routine around the structure of our work, if our work has a structure. Some of us want and need structure, some don't. I find comfort in having a pattern or routine to my life. I wouldn't want it all to be like that but the times when I haven't had a pattern imposed on me, being self-employed for instance, I have had to create one.
Saturday? Well that'll be Saturday. I'm lucky, I get to have two of those.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
And here we have a new curry thingy.
Mrs AWB is not a foody like me. Not easy to please. It means that when I do create something that she loves I know that I have cracked it. Or at least cracked something.
I found a recipe in this book for cauliflower and shredded ginger; here
It is gorgeous.
I tried a variation. I grated the ginger, added some fresh coriander and mixed it all with some gram flour to make a bhaji paste to coat the cauliflower.
That was great too.
It follows that when people read my stuff different things will strike them.
I chose with some care the people to read my work. People who I regard as intelligent and sensitive. People who can write too. People who I respect.
I'm a member of a couple of writer's forums where you can log stuff in to get reviewed. Mostly it is done with care but there is a sizable minority who spoil it.
Some just go through the motions in order to get a credit for their own work. Some take great delight in, 'telling it how it is' and seem to regard tact as a dirty word. They go out of their way to find fault. Some are just plain nasty.
And, like anyone who puts pen to paper or finger to keyboard, I have an ego.
So I awaited comments from my reviewers with just a pang of anxiety.
No need to worry. So far the questions they have asked of me have been intelligent and sensitive. They have made me look at my work with a different pair of eyes; and one or two amendments may be in order ;)
And each one has seen something different they like or would question.
I feel quite privileged and cannot thank them enough.
So here you all are, those of you who read me.
A huge, enthusiastic, tremendous, sloppy, puppyish...................Oh, I could go on, thank you.
On Saturday my wife and I had a lovely day out in The Peak District.
We got back and it happened. I won't say what it was about, doesn't matter does it. Suffice to say I had done something behind her back to protect her and when she found out she went ballistic.
So a couple of days of fuming silence until I broke it with an explanation and, thankfully, that was the foundation on which we built our bridge of reconciliation.
In the meantime it had seemed so lonely.
I could never be single. I like to have a companion. Someone to witter on to, someone to reminisce with, someone to share a nice day out with, a walk with.......well I could go on.
Luckily our rows are rare.
Monday, 7 September 2009
Last spring I got an urge to revamp it. I don't know why but some sort of muse seemed to invade my mind and take over. Initially I thought I'd write it and then leave it, maybe enter it into a competition.
But during the writing all sorts of other ideas jumped out of various hiding places within my imagination. I was quite flabbergasted. Now, I make no great claims as to originality or quality but the fact remains that I had this urge to write and the stories felt like my own creation.
Within a few weeks I had written a dozen or so and sent some off to a competition. I didn't get anywhere but that didn't matter. I was hooked.
I worked my way through twenty or so shorts before the novel thing took over.
So here is that very first short, Traveller's Rest. Not hugely original and while I was writing it I had no idea that I had so much more to write. For me, though, it has a special place in my mind.
I have a few people who have generously, and perhaps foolishly, agreed to read the first three or four chapters of my novel. They are the ones that will get sent out to any agent who is interested enough along with a synopsis of the whole thing. This is the sales pitch, the marketing side of getting a book published and, since I've never done it before it is very daunting.
My first attempt was rubbish so I googled, 'how to write a synopsis' and came up with a few helpful sites including this one. Then I slept on it and created a skeleton of it in my mind. Now it is in a draft form and seems to be OKish.
The trouble is, a synopsis tells the whole story, albeit in a very truncated form so I'll maybe suggest to my readers that they read the chapters and THEN the synopsis.
And not only that, the synopsis has highlighted where I think the story needs beefing up. So I'll do that and incorporate the 'beefing up' in my redrafting.
One day I might finish the novel.
Lastly a huge thank you to those victims, sorry friends, who have agreed to read.
I'll repeat on here, you still have the get-out clause of, 'I couldn't do it justice' or 'not my kind of thing' or any other reason. In fact you don't have to give a reason. I've read other people's work and have felt a responsibility to be honest and tactful about it. Not always easy. So again, a huge thank you.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
I've never done that but I have to admit that when I think of something interesting I sometimes google it. When I say 'interesting' I'll qualify that and say 'interesting to me'.
And today my interest is in the riveting subject of...........
Wait for it..........
It's really exciting shit this...........
I bet you're all of a quiver wondering what I'm going to talk about..........................
Don't cheat and scroll to the end...................
I'll get annoyed..................
Oh, go on then, I'll tell you......................
I'll explain. I was on my way to see a friend on Friday and noticed, not for the first time, just how many pigeons have gammy feet. Missing toes, lumps and deformities. In fact all sorts of foot weirdness. And such a huge proportion seem to be afflicted too. If you watch them quite a few limp which lends the 'pigeon gait' a quite extraordinary wobble. A wobbly hobble.
Now please dear reader, I do like a pretty foot; but a human one. And female too. This interest in the avian foot was merely idle curiosity not some strange fetish. Well strange maybe but fetish no. And yes, if you were in Leeds on Friday morning and noticed a muddle-aged guy gazing at pigeon's feet you may have found it a little odd. Oops, did I mean to say, 'middle-aged'?
The thing is I've noticed this before and wondered if there is some kind of 'pigeon leprosy' around. This is where my googling came in to the equation. My curiosity overcame the concept of silliness and I googled, 'pigeon foot diseases'. I came up with all sorts; basically most seem to be injuries from getting trapped in netting and the like along with disease too. Who'd be a pigeon.
I did come across this though; Pigeon Talk , Coo, coo my feathers did get all ruffled with excitement. I stuck my beak in the forum and pecked at some of the threads.
They have one called, 'Hall of Love'. It's where you can post a memorial for.........er........'that special bird'. I found a post there, 'R I P Little Hoppy'. Oh dear, must have been one of those pigeons with a gammy foot. My first thought was to join and do a spoof one for a 'Dead Parrot' . Alas, that would have been cruel.
You see I have been a member of some strange forums. One hobby I have is wargaming and I have, in the past, talked vast amounts of bollocks and even the occasional drivel on things like the minutiae of how to represent whether or not an Elf should be a better bowman - should that be bowelf? - than, say a human. Yes, my wargaming was surreal too. Elves, Dwarves, Undead. Even Ratmen amongst all sorts of other weirdness.
I still have the painted models and occasionally play.
That's the thing. we all live in our own little worlds, cocoons. Modern technology allows us to communicate with people who have similar interests to our own and that means that our diversity is not limited by geography anymore. Years ago wargaming was limited to a few sets of rules that local gamers could all get something out of. Now we can move away from that and talk to others and therefore find those who are prepared to venture away from the norm. The variety in wargaming and its related hobbies is astounding now.
The particular game I play is quite rare. The nearest guy who plays is in York and most others are down south. Without technology, the web especially, that game would probably die.
The web, through forums, and blogs too, offers conflicting answers to our strange society.
On the one hand it encourages diversity and therefore the fragmentation that we all see.
On the other it is a conduit for web-communities that give people the opportunity to communicate about things they would have found difficult to do so in the past.
After all, how many of your friends would dare enthrall you with talk of pigeons...........or wargaming for that matter.
But I wonder. With so much communication being done at a distance does it mean we are all becoming more divorced from the real world? Living in the cocoon of the title.
Does my ability to play a minority game mean that I will be less willing to compromise and 'muck in' and find a game that those near me would play too?
Am I going to be more interested in talking on the web about something that is specifically of interest, knowing that I can find like-minded people there, than in going down the local club and talking about something a little more general?
The society we live in tolerates more now than it ever did.
I'm not so sure about individuals though.
It wasn't about pigeons after all was it.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
I made one from scratch a while ago. Then the same last week. It has been declared our favourite.
Ingredients as per the book;
1 kg Blade Steak, cubed
2 tblspoons veg oil
2 cloves garlic
2 large onions
2 tblspoons finely grated ginger
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 tspoon ground turmeric
1 tspoon curry paste
1 small eggplant, finely chopped
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
As with all recipes you adjust according to what you have and for personal taste too.
I used 2 decent sized chillis. Green beans instead of the eggplant. A tablespoon, generous, of paste. Patak's was my choice and the Rogan Josh was the one I used. You could vary it with any of them or use your own. I was also generous with the coconut milk.
I fried off the beef and put it in our slow cooker. All the rest, bar the beans, I fried in the same pan with the beefy residue, adding the coconut milk and stock after the onions had been softened. You needn't do this, just put everything in the slow cooker after sealing the beef. I do think frying the spices with the onions improves it though.
All you do after that is let the slow cooker do its stuff. At least 3 hours. Very easy.
Absolutely gorgeous, I'm getting hungry just thinking of it.
I think it is partly down to the ginger and chillis combining to give a clean, fresh heat and then the coconut milk with spices giving a warmth and richness. The green beans instead of the eggplant helped too I think. It's rare to get that kind of perfect combination. Curries are often either 'rich' or 'clean' tasting.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
It was the moon and the night was clear, the light quite bright in that cool, chilly way the moon has.
A phrase stalked into my mind, 'Your warmest is cool,.................' and sat there like a self-satisfied purring pussy-cat. And like a cat I couldn't get rid of it so I put the light on, picked up my bedside notepad and attempted to write a few lines of poetry.
I got a partial skeleton of one going but as soon as I added any flesh to the bones it became a monster and when I took that flesh away it seemed to die.
So now it sits in my mind, slumbering. I'll go back later to play.
I came up with this. Philip John Basil Bennison is my grandfather.
He was a professional artist who specialised, I think, in water colours but could lend his hand to pretty well anything. I've seen the War Memorial referred to. It is lovely and has his name on it.
He died when he was in his thirties of pneumonia contracted, so family legend has it, after an argument with his wife. He ran off in an artist's huff and caught a chill. My dad was about a year old. It was in 1924 and Grandma had to bring him up on her own. She never married again.
It's strange looking at someone who is not so far removed from me being described as; 'a significant artist......................from the early 20th century '
I think I'll contact them.