Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Night Shocker!

Prince PhilipIn a move set to send disturbing undercurrents up Kate Middleton's undergarments, my secret news source has revealed that Prince Philip has resurrected the age old right of Primae Noctis or Droit de seigneur whereby a Lord has the right to take the place of the husband on the first wedded night of any of his serfs' daughters.

"Dashed all!" Said a positively beaming Prince Philip. "At my age one has to take one's pleasure where one can and that young whippersnapper, Willy, has a whole lifetime ahead of him of taking his pleasure where he may. For me, time is running out and, well, bugger it, that Kate Middleton is a comely bit of stuff. Willy will just have to make do with sloppy seconds tonight."

Asked what the Her Majesty The Queen thought of this planned turn of events, Prince Philip replied: "To be honest the little old woman trotted off quite happily, mumbling something about finally having a night orf. I'm popping the Viagra as we speak."

My news source has told me that Palace officials have tried to no avail to point out that Primae Noctis cannot be enforced in this case owing to the fact that Kate Middleton is neither a serf (for all she is a commoner) nor a virgin. To quote Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I: "that cherry has already been plucked and not by you."

Indeed Prince William has been seen snorting and guffawing around the Palace grounds saying, "I've already 'ad 'er wot my granddad wants to do, ain't I? So's he'll be the one with a wet willy not me. Unless, o' course, he does it the Greek way, know worrimean?"

However, after a Palace official pointed out that Prince Philip is indeed of Greek persuasion, both Prince William's and Kate Middleton's faces were seen to turn deathly white.

This reaction is not at this time believed to have been caused by copious amounts of Charlie (Prince Charles has instead been keeping his fatherly advice on 'how to be a good husband' firmly to himself)...



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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Now We Are 5

The letter from the local Funeral Services came last Wednesday. Out of the blue. Without warning. I think Karen and I reacted pretty much the same. Shock. An initial inability to process the information contained within.

It's been 5 years since we lost the baby.

Even now we are no wiser as to why or what happened. The post mortem could find nothing wrong at all. His death at 20 weeks was simply put down to unknown causes. It's at that point that you realize that, despite the huge advances made in medical knowledge, the biological act of bringing a child into the world is a patchwork of unknowns and unexplained. The doctors and nurses, the scientists don't have all the answers. Things happen and they are at a loss to prevent, interfere or in anyway explain them.

Life is a chancy thing.

At the time the emotional impact was something like a world destroying meteorite. Karen and I were numb. Our emotional atmosphere flattened out under the weight of this colossal rock of misery that the universe had dropped onto us. Our time in the hospital was a weird blur of camaraderie and fear.

At 20 weeks Karen had no choice but to go through an induced labour. It was both smooth and horrific. And unutterably sad.

Even now I can't go into too much detail about the process. Only that my biggest regret was not looking onto the face of my son because I was too scared about what I might see; what condition he was in. Karen felt the same. It was too much to bear. We were too scared. Our emotions already pulled too tight to cope with being loaded with another tonne of grief.

We weren't able to take in all that the nurses said. I can remember they gave us the option of sending the foetus away for post morten to try and establish the cause of death. I remember this because I still have my half of the form that I had to fill in. We agreed to it. It seemed a good idea. It was a good idea. To try and rule out any congenital problems that might cause any future miscarriages. As I said the results proved nothing either way.

They may have offered us counselling. I can't remember. All I know is there was an implication that once the lab had finished with the post mortem they would dispose of the remains respectfully. The nurses may have given us more information about this; I don't know - my mind is a blur so I'm reluctant to throw blame about here.

So Karen and I left the hospital the next day carrying only our loss. We laid some flowers in a place that is special to us and dealt with our grief. Life was kind. We conceived Tom a couple of years later and now have a very rumbustious little boy on our hands to go with an even more rumbustious 9 year old.

And then the letter from the Funeral Services arrived last week. Would we like to collect the cremated remains of our baby? Or would we like them to hang onto them for a while longer or scatter them for us? All very respectful but a bolt from the blue nonetheless.

We had no idea our son's ashes were lying in an office storeroom somewhere a mere 10 minute's car drive away. No idea at all.

Karen and I didn't have to consider a response. We picked up our son's ashes a couple of days ago. They came in a box so tiny it was obscured by the formal letter that came with it. That was something of a body shock. Even smaller still is the little bag of ash contained within the box. Tiny. So tiny. The box is all of the weight.

Karen and I have decided to buy a tree that we can keep in a beautiful pot in the garden. We shall place the ashes there and keep him with us.

It is good and right to have him home.

Ours.

Us.

Family.



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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Would Like To Thank My Manager, My Agent, My Adoring Fans And Of Course My Wife And Family Without Whom None Of This Would Have Been Possible...

The MADS 2011No comments needed.

Just wanted to thank all of you who voted for me in the Best Blogger and Best Writer catagories in the 2011 MADS awards.

I don't really consider myself to be a "parent blogger" or a "daddy blogger", just a parent who happens to blog. Nevertheless it's nice to be put forward for awards, esepcially when the prizes include things like Kindles and whatnots. Very exciting for gadget-heads like me.

However, I'm really not expecting to win but the nominations by themselves have been a real shot in the arm.

Thank you.



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Monday, April 25, 2011

Kahunas

Buster GonadThere are times when life is out to mince your balls.

If life is nice then it will tie you down to a table, arms outstretched, legs wide apart and will monologue at great length before activating the laser beam that will surely part your balls like peas ripped from a pod. It will talk to you and tell you why it is doing this. Why it has this grudge against you that it needs to exorcise via excessive singeing of your ball sack.

If life is malicious and feeling particularly nasty it will give you no warning whatsoever. You'll be going about your business as usual - perhaps a walk to the shops, perhaps filing a deadly dull report at work - when suddenly some kind of metallic gelding device will leap up at you from the shadows and attempt to remove your meat and two veg in a manner reminiscent of that wince inducing scene from Ice Pirates (kudos if any of you (a) ever saw that film and (b) actually remember it).

There are only two ways to react when life is set on claiming your kahunas as some kind of weird sports trophy.

You can either (a) buy kevlar underpants, walk around with your hands placed constantly over your crotch and look like you have a bad case of the crabs.

Or you can (b) just grow a much bigger pair of balls.

B it is then.




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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Know You’ve Been Watching Too Much Disney Pixar When...

ElastigirlYou start rating the music in Ice Age 2 and start fancying Elastigirl from The Incredibles.

Our youngest is at that age where he is discovering the joy of movies. Or to put it more accurately rediscovering the joy of the same movie over and over again.

He goes through spells where the same DVD is a la mode for entire weekends at a time. This is interminable when the DVD happens to be Thomas The Tank Engine or Barney The Purple Dinosaur but thankfully he’s quite discerning about what films he wants to watch.

Hence I am now surprisingly well versed in the best that Disney Pixar studios have to offer. I can recount entire swathes of script from all the Toy Story movies, Ice Age and The Incredibles.

More scarily I am starting to analyse them, score them on plot and character development, take them to task on their ethical content. I am getting to the point where I am taking them far too seriously.

I am getting to the point where I am loving them and deeply respecting the script writers and the story-boarders. And the composers.

Ice Age 2 has, I think, one of the best music scores ever. It’s brilliant in the same way that Gustav Holst’s Jupiter is brilliant and for much the same reason. The music is uplifting and jolly but without being frivolous and grating. It is rich in emotional range and spirit. I could quite happily listen to it all day long and highly recommend you all give it a go.

All this from a kid’s cartoon.

More worryingly though I am finding that Elastigirl from The Incredibles is one of the sexiest cartoon characters ever created. As Mr Incredible himself says; she is the perfect woman. I mean, just think about it – this is a woman who can stretch herself into any position. The mind just boggles. And plainly there has been a lot of mind boggling going on out there because when I searched Google for a suitable image of Elastigirl I was presented with a whole array of homemade porno pics of said Elastigirl.

Elastigirl legs akimbo.

Elastigirl contorting herself into positions that a gynaecologist would consider obscene (but possibly helpful).

Elastigirl displaying parts of her anatomy that the guys at Disney Pixar had probably never even dreamt of let alone drawn.

Hey, hey, come back, come back – you can check out Google later after you’ve finished reading! Those pics ain’t going anywhere, I promise you. Geez.

Anyway, it got me thinking. Is it a bit too weird to fancy a cartoon character? Is it only guys that do this?

Because I’m very aware that for a lot of guys their first boyhood crush was probably on Daphne from Scooby-Doo. Sure she was a little vacuous, too much of a Valley Girl for her own good, but you just knew she’d get down and dirty behind the sand dunes at a beach-front tiki party and do things for Scooby snacks that even the great Scooby Doo himself would baulk at.

Jinkies!

And then, somewhere in my mind, I seem to recall another cartoon diva that was a big feature of my childhood. Does anyone remember The Arabian Knights? I think it was one of the regular cartoons on The Banana Splits. I’m sure there was an Arabian girl character on there that used to float my pre-pubescent boat. I seem to recall genie trousers, exposed mid-riff and a veil... but maybe I’m making that up or even confusing it with something else?

I daren’t Google it. After the Elastigirl interpretations I’m not sure my heart could take it...

But... er... maybe one little peak couldn't hurt, eh? Just one?



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Monday, April 18, 2011

Nerf Gas

Nerf Dart Tag kidsDon’t mistake me. I hate those Nerf gun adverts on TV.

You know the ones. A group of all American teens (the wrong side of 16) who aren’t quite emotionally mature enough to dispense with the fantasy of being Bruce Willis in Die Hard, who rampage over an unbelievably clean urban landscape playing Nerf tag with their pump-action, fast loading Nerf guns and speaking like movie trailer voice-overs.

“You’re going down!”

“I’m locked and loaded!”

“Take that with my Nerf telescopic sniper rifle!”

“Eat foam Velcro-tipped dart, towel-head!”

Yeah. That kind of thing. I hate those adverts. Really hate them. And the kids in them. Nerdy jocks with too much testosterone but not enough to put away their toy guns and get themselves a proper girlfriend. They really get on my Nerfs.

So it was with much trepidation that we bought a couple of Nerf dart guns for the boys. The eldest was going to a Nerf dart tag party and hence had to be appropriately tooled up. So my wife, Karen, who’s knowledge of toy weaponry is worryingly superior to my own did the deed via Amazon and within a couple of days we were the proud owners of two gleaming green and orange pump action Nerf assault rifles.

The boys – including the youngest – have barely stopped playing with them.

It is disconcerting to see a 3 year old wearing eye goggles and operating the pump action on his Nerf gun like a ‘Nam vet. More worrying to discover that he got his eye in very quickly and, though is content to fire at everything and nothing most of the time, can still shoot the balls off a gnat when he wants to. Even the eldest boy – usually capable at missing a barn door whilst inside the barn – has discovered hitherto untapped reserves of accuracy.

The guns feel and look... er, good. They make the holder feel instantly macho and empowered. And I hate to say that. Because I like to think of myself as a pacific kind of guy. Not particularly marshal. But even I took great delight in bouncing a Nerf dart off the back of my wife’s head at 8 metres. It was a fine shot and took account of gravity and wind speed and the erratic movement of my target.

Technically it was friendly fire but, hey, with those credentials maybe I could get a job with the UN?

Joking aside though, I can’t help but see this affinity that we have with weaponry as deeply sad. And troubling. I’d like to put it down to the sportsman’s simple joy of launching an object through the air and hitting an aimed for target – a test of skill, accuracy and judgement.

But it isn’t, is it?

It’s about power and prowess and machismo. And even 3 year olds get it. Even when half an hour later they’re snuggled up in front of the TV watching Waybuloo.

It makes me feel like Sarah Connor’s son in Terminator 2 when he sees kids playing with guns in the desert and says, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”

‘Cos even if you don’t buy toy guns and toy swords for your kids they’ll go out and find an appropriately shaped stick and pretend one into being. What do you do? Place a limit on their imagination?

Denying our affinity for violence and aggressive is dangerous. The way I see it, it needs to be confronted. Marshalled, controlled, given a safe and constructive outlet.

And I guess this is where products like the Nerf guns come in. And believe me this is not an endorsement or a review – just my observations.

The darts are foam and relatively harmless. The guns come with protective goggles and vests. The vests have target areas on them. The competitive element has been ramped up rather than the murderous (though you can never expunge it completely).It’s just a game with a capital G.

So maybe those all American teens will grow up to be balanced individuals who channel their aggression into paint balling weekends or clay pigeon shooting precisely because they embraced their aggression in controlled play?

It’s certainly better that than them going on the rampage at a school or a town centre somewhere near you with an Uzi and a shotgun.

But ultimately, who knows?

I just feel like I have hypothetical blood on my hands this morning and it doesn’t feel too nice.



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Friday, April 15, 2011

We’re Dead Hard In Leamington Spa

We are, you know.

I know you lot think we’re a bunch of soft Midland’s Spa water drinking Andy-Pandy shandy makers but really we’re so hard we’d make Lenny McLean poop his gusset. If he were still alive that is (RIP The Governor).

Want proof?

Well, here are two recent real life slices of anecdotal evidence.

Slice 1) One day last week, returning to work after my lunchbreak in the sun, I approached my place of work with a little more than the usual sense of trepidation because there was a ruddy great fire juggler outside the building. Juggling with fire. Or fiery brands / sticks / skittles whatever those damned things are that jugglers like to keep up in the air in states of perpetual tedium. I mean, what is it with jugglers? Why do they always look so smug? What’s so damned great or even damned useful about juggling? What possible useful application can juggling ever have outside of a circus or a kid’s tea party? I mean if you had to keep your eye on three objects whilst standing still for 10 minutes you’d just put two of them down, if not all three or even just put them in a bag or on a tray.

But I digress.

Some young studo-punk was juggling. With fire. And had a little cap at his feet in which he was hoping to catch a few stray pound coins. Only his benefactors would have to be good shots because you couldn’t get within 5 metres of the guy due to the wall of flaming death that he was weaving about himself.

Apparently a copper had already approached him and “had a word” but seemingly had then left him to it making no arrest and offering no caution. It seems that juggling with fire on a public thoroughfare is perfectly legal.

And the juggler had shown good sense by pitching his human immolation act right in front of Leamington’s Spa water drinking fountain so he could, no doubt, douse himself with sparkling sulphuric water should he ever mistime a throw and find his fuse inadvertently lit.

And the good people of Leamington? How did they react?

They didn’t. I saw mum’s pushing toddlers in prams and pushchairs so close to the fire juggler that their kids must have gone home with a suntan very like the one Richard Dreyfuss got in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. And possibly smelling of barbecue accelerant.

That’s how hard we are in Leamington Spa.

Slice 2) This happened last night. Heading home from work, I happened to pass over Victoria Bridge and I saw two passersby gripping tight hold of a drunk who had already swung one leg over the bridge and was intent on throwing the other over along with his entire torso into the long drop down to the spuming River Leam far below. The only thing this guy was holding onto was his can of Special Brew. As I passed I heard one of the passersby trying to reason with him. Something along the lines of: “if you throw yourself over it’ll be other people who’ll have to tidy up the mess”.

Good on you, I thought. You can always turn someone away from thoughts of suicide by appealing to their innate OCD nature.

The drunk rolled his eyes a bit, looked at his beer can and replied, “I don’ wanna make a mess for nebuddy. I’ll jus’ finish me beer firs’ an’ then I’ll jump.”

That’s how hard we are in Leamington Spa: life is cheap but you never waste a good can of beer.

Leamington is on all main train and coach routes and sports some of the loveliest hotels in the country. Do come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.



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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jessica Alba, Leona Lewis And Me

Jessica AlbaIt seems that some people just can’t take no for an answer.

It seems that some people who have everything – fame, riches, pneumatic boobs and easy access to a plastic surgeon – just can’t accept that a little person like me can say no to them and mean it.

But I’m really not interested. I’ve been blanking their emails for months and months but still they keep coming.

But now they’re getting devious. Now they’re offering me weird deals on meds and pharmaceuticals. Things to improve my performance in bed.

I ask you – is there anything less attractive than someone trying to get you into bed by selling you 5000 blister packs of Viagra? I mean, come on? If I need that many why you trying to get me into bed in the first place?

But it seems people like Jessica Alba and Leona Lewis think that normal rules don’t apply to them. They think that volume will blind me to context and I’ll go along with it.

Not so. I’m not interested.

I’ve tried emailing them back. Tried saying I don’t want to hear from them ever again. But all that happens is that I get even more emails – all from different email addresses but all plainly from Jessica and Leona and other famous starlets ‘cos it clearly says so in the subject line. How many email addresses to these girls have? Do they spend all their time creating them? How do they find time to do all their singing and acting and shit like that when they’re emailing me every day trying to sell me condoms and sex toys and drugs with names I’ve never even heard off? If it was Charlie Sheen I could understand it – but Paris Hilton? Britney Spears?

It’s like they’re all spamming me.

Spamming me for sex.

And that just ain’t right. Its skanky and nasty and not in a good way either.

I confess I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve tried writing firm but polite letters to the agents of these famous people but all I get back is abuse and loads of legal bullshit from Greenberg Glusker. The gist of it is, Jessica Alba and Leona Lewis are all denying having anything to do with it.

They’re denying all knowledge.

Well, that’s plainly just a lame cop out.

They just don’t want the world to know that I’m rejecting their advances.

Well, screw you, Jessica [or rather, not]. I’m telling the world right here right now.

I do not want to have sex with you! Stop hassling me with your weird sex-drug emails! Get a life, girlfriend!

You ain’t all that. Talk to the hand.

P.S. But we could still do a deal on the Viagra if you were prepared to ship it in smaller amounts. Purely for experimental use, you understand? Ciao.



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Monday, April 11, 2011

Salt And Vinegar

When you’re watching a Western and you see all those dust balls rolling across the main street just before the main gunfight kicks off, have you ever wondered where they all end up?

No? Well, they end up in my street.

Along with yellow foam-styrene chip cartons, McDonald’s milkshake containers and old copies of The Sport (which could very well become museum items over the coming years).

I tell you this so that you don’t think my street is so clean it looks like something out of Trumpton. (How come Mrs Honeywell’s yapping dogs never foul the pavement, eh? Where are her pooper-scoop and her little plastic shit bag?)

My street is just a messy street. The town planners, when laying out the residential housing grid in the 1950’s, inadvertently created a trash vortex that pulls in rubbish from miles away and dumps it in the gap between my hedge and next door’s garden wall.

Or at least this is what I thought. This is has been my long held belief for years.

But I was finally disabused of this belief last Friday.

Leaving my house I chanced to look across the road where I witnessed a man in his thirties finishing a packet of crisps. Now, given there are public bins not 100 yards away, you’d expect him to screw up the packet and dispose of it responsibly. Well, you would if you were an idealistic fool who think that people actually care about their immediate environment. If, like me, you have a cynical bent you wouldn’t be too surprised to see him screw up the packet and lob it onto the pavement. ‘Cos that’s just how the majority of people behave these days. Like scum.

But no. It seems there was a third option.

This surprisingly well dressed lout carefully flattened out his crisp packet and took considerable pains to slide it between the slats of a neighbour’s fence.

I couldn’t believe it.

I mean, it’s bad enough to throw your litter to the four winds – people do it unthinkingly all the time. But what kind of inconsiderate, thoughtless, selfish prick expends time and energy shoving his rubbish into and onto the property of someone he doesn’t know?

I know, I know. Bigger things are happening elsewhere. This is a small issue.

But I can’t help but think it is somehow representational. There seem to be more and more people around these days who go out of their way to cause problems for others. Not just causing problems accidentally for other people, but deliberately doing it. Planning it. Devising ways to do it. Doing it even when doing it is not even the easiest option.

And what did I do? Nothing. I gave him a hard stare, Paddington Bear style, enough to make him turn around and face me under the iron disapprobation of my censure. But like Paddington I merely felt like I was a lone 3D character in a world of animated 2-dimensional cut-outs, i.e. I was the odd one out in this scenario.

The odd one out for caring and being pissed off at what this guy had done.

I did consider removing the crisp packet and following this guy home and shoving the offending article somewhere prominent on his own property but, I’ll be honest, even though Brian Turner has revamped the menus at the local A&E I am not overly fond of hospital food.

And besides. Why expend all that energy? A good gust of wind and that damned crisp packet will end up behind my front hedge anyway. The world is still the world.

Nothing has really changed.

*Sigh*

I never did like Status Quo.



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Friday, April 08, 2011

Gob

Eavesdropping is necessarily a snide pastime.

I don’t think I’ve ever eavesdropped on a single conversation and come away thinking, “Ooh, they’re lovely people – I wish they were in my friend’s network so I could get to know them better”.

Generally I come away shaking my head, sneering, laughing and quite often disgusted at the small minded, bigoted, malapropism-rich outpourings of my fellow man.

Of course, I’m quite willing to accept that maybe I am just a big snob per se and congenitally live in contempt of my fellow humans.

But that in no way invalidates my claim that eavesdropping inevitably positions those being eavesdropped upon well beneath the moral hobnailed boots of those doing the eavesdropping. It’s just human nature.

This being the case, I was walking quite innocently back to work after my lunchbreak yesterday afternoon when I stopped at a pedestrian crossing. While I waited for the lights to change in my favour two other pedestrians approached the lights behind me and waited at my back. Two young teenage girls, the ubiquitous mobile phone held out in their hands like a Ghostbuster PKE metre and their overly glossed lips pulled into pouts big enough to form the south facing wall of a bouncy castle.

“Fockin’ gaffa tape. Fockin’ gaffa tape. Bastard. I mean, look, that’s what he wants me to get. Fockin’ gaffa tape. Can you believe it? Bastard. Fockin’ gaffa tape.”

And on and on and on. Those same few phrases repeated over and over while the orator’s companion laughed like a drain and no doubt was as familiar with the gutter as one.

I actually began counting how many times this delightful young lady swore. I got to 15 before the green man finally appeared and rescued me.

As I sped away I could still hear, “Fockin’ gaffa tape, fockin’ gaffa tape, bastard” singeing the air like hastily deposited nuclear waste and I found myself wondering whether anyone on this planet can ever find such constant expletive incontinence attractive. Or even think it adult or mature?

I mean I am right in thinking that someone who effs and blinds every second word is chromosome deficient, aren’t I? Their emotional / intellectual development has somehow stalled at the ‘bike shed badinage’ stage and they’re forever stuck with the mentality of a 15 year old where they think that heavy use of the eff word automatically bestows upon them the heady mantle of ‘Adult’.

I instantly found myself dismissing this pair as a couple of foul-mouthed, uncouth, thick as shit, nob chompers who will end up working in McDonalds and exorcising their dissatisfaction with life by wiping malicious bogeys onto the underside of all the bread buns.

Which isn’t fair. They might actually make it to Burger King.

Joking.

They might actually be intelligent. They might even be nice girls. From good homes. With a staunch moral view of the world and an acceptance letter from Oxford.

But I don’t think so.

We are how we talk. Our voice and choice of words express our personalities and our aspirations. I’m not talking about accents here. I’m talking about what we say rather than how we say it. To choose to swear so prolifically and so (deliberately) loudly speaks volumes about a mindset that has not only normalised aggressive displays of behaviour but has also promoted them as being the most efficient way to navigate modern society.

And that is deeply, deeply saddening and possibly speaks volumes about the rest of us.

Possibly.

Or it could just be that a potty mouth is a habit that people fall into when young and like all nasty habits needs a jolly good kick to get it broken.

Believe you me, I was tempted.



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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Anti Social Networking

I’ll be honest. Despite being a denizen of the internet for the last 15 years I am not up on the whole social networking scene.

I dragged my heels with Facebook (and still grit my teeth when I use it).

I tried MySpace and loathed it so dumped it. I now have NoSpace and am much happier.

Skype I’ve heard about but can’t bring myself to install.

Messenger I have permanently disabled because I hated the way it would launch itself on me as soon as I turned on my PC (like being hounded by a happy-clappy stalker).

Twitter I use infrequently and cynically, i.e. only when I have a blog post to sell.

I admit I tried ICQ (remember that?) in the early days but found it bothersome and frustrating – I’d be at my computer trying to do stuff and people would bug me for inane conversations overloaded with smilies and emoticons.

Emoticons. Urgh. I hate both the word and the concept. Let’s break it down: emotions / cons. You get my drift? :-P

But some Social Networking facilities have made it through my taste firewall. LinkedIn is one of them. It seemed a good idea at the time and helped me to reconnect with an old friend but since then I hardly use it. I’m Connected with a handful of people – some old school friends, some blogging pals and, er, that’s it.

Nobody – and I mean nobody – has used the site to contact me in the manner recommended by the site’s administrators, i.e. nobody has offered me work / money / commissions / contracts. It has done absolutely zilch for my career prospects.

But nevertheless I’m on there. Pimping myself. Or rather, pimping my online persona. Links to my web site and this blog. The kind of unthinking self promotion that we all do from time to time.

Suddenly, within the space of 2 weeks, I have had Connection requests from 2 people who work in the same Local Government corporation as me. People who I see once in a blue moon and only ever in a professional capacity. One of them is very, very high up in the corporation hierarchy. Very high up.

I confess it has put me in a spin.

You see, I don’t want these people getting too close to my online persona. I don’t want them reading my blog and the comments upon it and realizing what a cynical, back-stabbing little turncoat I am. I want them to continue thinking I’m a good boy who keeps his head down and deserves the money that they keep paying me every month.

This Connection thing is too close for comfort.

And utterly pointless.

I mean, what’s the good of them Connecting to me on LinkedIn? Are they going to offer me a job?

Hello? I’m already here.

So the barricades have gone up. And by barricades I mean I have ignored the email from LinkedIn – including the reminder email that tells me these people are still waiting for me to confirm a Connection with them.

I don’t want a Connection with them. The real life connection is bad enough. I don’t want them following the breadcrumb trail back to this ‘ere blog and the harsh excoriating heart of my lifelong malcontent.

I am simply too anti-social for Social Networking.

Too curmudgeonly. Too grumpy. And that’s the plain honest truth.

I mean, they’ll be wanting me to Poke them next. And that folks is just an interaction too far.

I think I may just have to be permanently AFK.

That’s all, folks. Goodbye.

P.S. Do feel free to RT this post.



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Monday, April 04, 2011

So How Would You Sign “Another Whisky Please?”

Working Men’s Clubs are funny things. I think I’ve only ever been to about 4 in my entire life and up until last Friday they were solely to attend private parties or functions, hence the patrons stuffing their faces with cake alongside my own were not what anyone would in any way term “regulars”. They were all interlopers like me.

Friday, however, was different.

Friday was set apart by an invitation by my Sign Language tutor that invited us (his class) to come along during the evening and meet some Deaf people in a proper social environment. To be honest, there are a number of such opportunities that we can choose from – some later in the month to attend a proper Deaf Club in Coventry and others in Solihull – but this one attracted me because of (a) the proximity – it was in walking distance from my house – and (b) I have my second formal assessment tomorrow night and I figured the extra practise would be no bad thing.

So I’m walking to the Working Men’s club and I’ll be honest, my vision of the clientele and the whole ambience was of a very quiet snug (akin to the one in The Rovers Return), half full of men and women of a certain age sporting a certain hardy Northern-esque look, a dog or two asleep at the foot of the bar and a barman who spends the entire night giving non-locals pokey looks from his permanent place in front of the optics rack.

But what I got in actual fact was a lounge bar very like something out of Coronation Street, sparsely populated by people of a certain age who could quite easily get roles as extras in Heartbeat, a single dog (a hearing dog for the Deaf funnily enough) and a barman who gave me pokey looks as soon as I stepped foot inside the bar,

In fact his first words to me were, “How did you get in here?”

This made me think that maybe (a) I’d somehow slipped through the minefield and the barbed wire gun emplacements without seeing them or (b) I’d broken both my legs without noticing it or (c) he was confusing me with some bad-ass whippet owner he’d barred from the premises in another life.

As it was I could only answer sheepishly that the guy on the door had let me in after I’d paid a 50p entrance fee (and no sexual favours asked for).

As soon as I explained I’d come to meet the Deaf group though he relaxed, served me my whisky (though he diluted it with unasked for coke – plainly he thought I was a wuss; plainly I was because I accepted it without complaint) and left me alone for the rest of the night.

Naturally, being at heart a saddo, I was the only one from my class who’d bothered to turn up; everyone else is obviously saving themselves for the relative cool of the Deaf club in Coventry.

So it was just me, 5 Deaf people and a hearing dog. And a raffle that I couldn’t enter because I wasn’t a member,

I was at 42 by far the youngest person in the entire building.

As for the Sign Language... seeing it at work in a social context highlighted to me just how little I know and how paltry my level of expertise is. Making Signs is only half of it – having an instant visual recognition of other people’s Signs is the very important other half and that lack of immediacy really tripped me up on several occasions.

Thankfully one of the Deaf people there – a sprightly 84 year old named Billy – could talk (he’d lost his hearing due to being caught in a bomb blast in Glasgow during WWII when he was 10) and though he Signed simultaneously, if it wasn’t for his vocal narrative I would have spent much of the night staring into my whisky and coke feeling that everyone else was talking about me but not to me in a language that was whistling way over my head.

As it was, they were a very friendly group and made generous allowances for my ham-fisted level of expertise. I also learnt what a small world it is: Billy had been a soldier at the barracks during the same period and in the same street in Glasgow where my dad grew up as a boy. A big hello to everybody reading this from Maryhill.

The biggest thing I learnt though was how many different types of Deafness there are, how many different levels and experiences, how people’s Signing is not uniform but is as varied as their handwriting and just how distracting a jukebox can be when you are trying to concentrate and you are the only person who can hear it.

All useful fodder for the novel I am currently writing which features a Deaf character... though whether it will help me pass my formal assessment tomorrow remains to be seen.

And certainly not heard.



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Friday, April 01, 2011

Goodbye And Thanks For All The Fish

I don’t know where to begin really.

I just want to say that I did start off with honourable intentions. And at the end of the day the whole process was a real life saver for me. It was necessary. I do hope you all believe that and won’t judge me too harshly.

But at the end of the day all this is a sham.

There’s little point prevaricating. I may as well cut straight to the chase.

This persona – this me that has been blogging for the last 6 years – is all fake. My life details, my family, my career are all works of fiction.

I am not married. I do not have children. I do not work for the local Government. My name isn’t even really Steve.

Technically I work for central Government though for very little recompense and without any choice in the matter at all.

My name is Adrian Jessop and I am currently serving a 20 year prison sentence for embezzlement with aggravation (I got caught by my boss and lamped him with a fax machine – he’s OK now but still suffers from extreme technophobia; not a good thing to be suffering from when you are the MD of PC World).

I was married – great girl called Suzie who was a trained trapeze artist – but she dropped me as soon as the old Bill came knocking after the fax incident at work. We didn’t have kids. She said it would lower her pelvic floor which would upset her entire centre of gravity and thus mess with the momentum of her forward swing. Apparently timing is everything.

Which may explain why she’d already got another man lined up before my name was even on the duty officer’s charge sheet. Got another man and was gone. While I was looking at a 20 stretch. My life reads like a country and western song. And I’m not talking “Jolene.”

Prison is hard. The food is crap. The work is boring. And the sex is at best inconvenient and at worst cause for split personality disorder.

But it does leave me a lot of time to write. Hence this blog.

Originally it was just therapy. A way to get my head around prison life. Away to defeat the regime rather than let the regime defeat me. Mental flights of freedom to compensate for the very real physical constraints that have seen me incarcerated here at Long Lartin for the last two decades.

I only meant the blog to run for a few months. Kind of an experiment. Just to see if I could do it.

But it took over. It assumed a life of its own. I found myself daydreaming during the laundry of what I could write about next. My dream, my fantasy of an ordinary, good life. I think that was the key to its success, you see. It’s ordinariness. It’s normality.

A blog about a multi-millionaire playboy... well, nobody would believe that. They’d see through it straight away. But an ordinary humdrum sort of bloke working for the council?

They’re two-a-penny. Every town has one. Probably more than one. It was like a ready-made niche. One I could slot into perfectly.

But the time has come to end it. It has served its purpose. I’m getting out in a couple of weeks. I don’t need this anymore, this literary crutch. I’m sorry if you feel let down. Feel that the time you have invested here has been wasted; has been extracted from you under false pretences. That was never my intention.

I’d like to thank you all. Truly. From the heart. You’ve kept me going. You’ve kept me alive. You’ve given me something good to focus on in the prison showers.

But it’s time to say goodbye.

Time to reveal the real me.

When I get out in a couple of weeks, maybe we could meet up?

I need some digs. Only temporary until I get back on my feet again.

Maybe just think about it, eh?

Yeah, yeah. I know. I’ll wait until I hear from you.

Story of my life.



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