Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Cross Your Heart Factor

Katie McGrath as Morgana and Angel Coulby as GwenevereIs it just me or have certain elements in the current series of the BBC’s Merlin been, for want of a better expression, pumped?

Augmented? Inflated? Swelled?

And this isn’t a complaint – really it isn’t – but I can’t help wondering if the makers of Merlin are subconsciously trying to compete with the rather more adult telling of the King Arthur legend that appeared on our tellies earlier this year under the shockingly original title, Camelot.

‘Cos suddenly Gwenevere’s bosom (donated unselfishly by Angel Coulby) – hardly an insignificant landmark at the best of times – has suddenly grown into planet colliding proportions. It o’erspills. Her cups runneth over. She has gone from wanting to merely catch Arthur’s eye to attempting to skewer both of them out with a two-pronged attack. Run into this girl on a cold morning and you’ll end up with broken ribs on both sides.

I daresay Arthur (Bradley James) will consider that a jolly decent way to go but in terms of courtly love, isn’t it he who is meant to be running the good lady through?

I like Merlin. I liked it from the start though I will admit the first two series were a little too fairytale for me. Thing have got blacker and darker though since series 3 and this present series – the fourth – has seen things getting blacker still. Uther was bumped off in the second episode and Arthur is at last king. Morgana (Katie McGrath) has finally been converted to the dark side and has now (alas) spurned her usual neck plunging dresses and taken to concealing her own otherworldly décolletage behind charred sackcloth and a hairdo redolent of Amy Winehouse battling uphill towards an off-license against a force ten gale in Barnsley (going to wizard rehab? I say no, no, no).

I kind of miss Morgana’s finery. Her off-the-shoulder numbers. Her sneery lipped looks over a forkful of venison. Her twirly earrings that caught the candlelight just before she did someone a particularly bad turn. The show’s writer’s need to be careful that they don’t completely lose her va-va-voom amongst her recently acquired hovel paraphernalia and the pickled frogs she keeps in her medicine cabinet. Morgana’s appeal was always that she was a vamp. She was cold hearted and icy but she was nevertheless, undoubtedly, undeniably, a black hearted vamp. And a tease. The kind that lead a man to his doom without ever actually “putting out”.

Now she’s in danger of becoming a tramp. And not in a good way either. There needs to be some curve and some bosom mixed in with that eye of newt and tongue of lizard. After all the lady is a fox not an old bat.

But maybe this is why the show’s producers are building up Gwen’s part(s)? It kind of makes sense to have Gwen as Camelot’s ye olde pin-up girl. She is, after all, the legendary heroine who attracts all the knights of Camelot from far and wide to come and sup from the warm bounteousness of her round table, not Morgana. The balance of feminine power needs to be shifted – and not just in terms of a well fortified cross-your-heart bra.

Let’s just hope Arthur has got what it takes to locate her Holy Grail... keeping both these femme fatales from tearing out each other’s throats is likely to be very thirsty work indeed.

And I'll be more than happy to drink to that.



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Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Cock Vanishes

Foghorn LeghornIt's gone.

I woke up one morning expecting a familiar presence but it had disappeared. It was nowhere to be found, no matter how hard I looked, no matter how hard I strived to recover it... it just wasn't there anymore.

It had gone.

There is an argument that one should just accept this kind of thing. It happens, you know? Happens to everyone sooner or later. Or if not everyone then at least most.

But you get habituated, you get seasoned. You get used to having something there for you when you wake up in the morning. A reassurance that all is normal, all is well with the world. A rousing presence that seems almost as sentient as you are even though it is separate.

I was only aware that one of my neighbours was keeping chickens when the cock started crowing a couple of months ago.

At first, when I heard those first tentative rooster calls, I thought maybe I was imagining it. I don't live in the middle of the countryside after all. I live in a residential area of central Leamington Spa. It used to be farmland a hundred years ago but now it has semis, terraces, garages, corner shops and caravans that have become sculptures in honour of holidays that were never quite realized.

But each day the cock crowing got louder. Almost as if Foghorn Leghorn was finding himself. Finding his strength. Coming out of his shell (ahem). Learning to be a real cock rather than just a nervous chicken. There must have been chickens too I suppose. I mean one doesn't entertain a cock by itself unless one is really sad and lonely. But we never heard the chicks. They were ethereal in comparison to the volumed glory of the cock.

Between 6 and 8 every morning he'd offer his defiance to the sky. Greet the new day. Welcome the world.

I feared for him even then. People do not like to be woken up early in the morning by livestock in middle class residential areas of spa water towns. It didn't bother me and my wife - we have livestock of our own: two little monkeys who are wont to get up early and play in their bedrooms from 6am onwards. We were used to the early starts.

But the other neighbours?

Students. Labourers. Workmen. Dole-ites. Even a halfway house around the far corner of the block.

There was only going to be so much cock these people could take early in the morning.

And then, sometime this week, the mornings fell silent. No crowing. No calling. No cock a-doodle-doing.

I don't know what has happened to Mr Chook Rooster. There is no one I know well enough to ask and enqiry of the whereabouts of a stranger's cock is frowned upon in polite society. I hope Mr Rooster was found a home elsewhere where he can range free and wild in some immense morning wood. I hope his neck was not tugged by over-excited hands or disrupted by some cruel human's harsh chopper so that he came to a sticky end.

The mornings seem colder now. Duller. Adrenalin free. Devoid of natural pleasure.

I wish I could have done more for him but... I just feel so damned impotent.



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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Class

RAF boysThe way it was always told to me, not long after Chamberlain had declared war on Germany, my grandfather – barely 19 years of age – had hotfooted it around to the RAF recruiting office to sign up. He no doubt fancied himself kitted out with one of those stiffened scarves and leather goggles and chewing on a choice cigar from the comfort of his cockpit as he strafed a few Heinkels with a careless flick of his thumb on the joystick.

And who wouldn’t? The RAF, even before the Battle of Britain, had an air of the glams about it. I mean, dash it all, but those chaps were just plain dashing. Why yomp across France when you can sit at the controls of possibly the best plane ever built and let a Rolls-Royce Merlin carry you all the way to the theatre of battle in style?

But the RAF didn’t want my grandfather. They told him in no uncertain terms that he didn’t have the brains to be a spitfire pilot or any other kind of pilot. He wasn’t made of the right stuff, see. He wasn’t educated properly. He’d made it through a decent enough school but he was indelibly working class. As far as the RAF were concerned he was a yomper if ever there was one. They no doubt looked at him through their steely monocles and muttered under their breaths, “Not one of us.”

And so despite, the urgent country-wide call to arms, the RAF declined my grandfather’s enthusiastic offer and the legend of The Leamington Baron was shot down before it even got off the runway.

If my grandfather was ever embittered by this show of classism he never showed it. He was resilient and perhaps just plain pragmatic enough to depart the RAF recruiting office with a cheery wave and an “Okay gov’nor” and hop over the threshold of the recruiting office immediately next door and find himself signed up by the Royal Navy. They snatched his hand off and had him rated as able-bodied before you could say “hard to starboard”.

He loved his time in the Navy. He loved the travel. He loved the camaraderie. Not that he was blinded by his love – he didn’t like the torpedoes, or the magnetic mines or the time his ship had its stern completely blown off and they had to rely on luck and the skill of their captain to limp them miraculously to the dicey safety of a Maltase port – but I can see from his war photos that the Navy changed him. It broadened his outlook. It completed his education in a way that a stint with the RAF would never have done. So he was never a member of a gentleman’s club or got a nickname like “Squiffy” or “Ack-Ack”... but he got to see India, North and South Africa, Malta, Iceland, even a few Russian ports.

He saw parts of the world that a boy from the working class slums of Leamington Spa would not ordinarily have got to see. And though the officers on board ship were just as high born as those of the RAF there was a closeness and equality (of sorts) born of spending months and months together in the equivalent of a tin can with no other company than the burly chaps around you. The respect that was engendered went both ways. In that respect war is a great leveller.

If it wasn’t for my Nan’s reluctance to travel I have no doubt my grandfather would have left these shores far behind him after the war and I’d be writing to you from South Africa. My grandfather loved his shore leave there and often spoke fondly of it in the years before his death in 2009. Not that he particularly regretted staying put in Blighty – he and my Nan gadded about quite a bit during their retirement years and saw as much of the world as they could – but I’m sure he occasionally dreamed of what could have been; if things had been different.

For all that though my grandfather did well for himself after the war. Yes, he did manual work but he was well paid for it. He aspired to be comfortable and he achieved it. He ended up owning his own house and car and was as far removed from those childhood slums as it was realistic to expect to be.

At the end he could have looked those RAF officers in the eye and got a polite nod in return. He’d earnt his wings.

The first casualty of war might be innocence but one of the last was class.



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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Ghost Of Christmas Post

OK. I’m waiting.

I have my arms outstretched upwards to the stars and my chakras open so wide a Higgs Boson could drive a ruddy great juggernaut right through the middle of them without touching the sides.

But it ain’t hit me. It hasn’t entered me. I am not speaking in Christmas tongues.

The spirit of Christmas has not seen fit to descend and use my body as a vessel for its gloriously tinselly commercialism.

I ain’t getting the Christmas vibe, man,

And I know I should be. The shops are selling their Christmas tat with the intensity of an Amsterdam window dancer. My home town had its big Christmas light switch on yesterday. Even Jamie ‘cheeky twatty’ Oliver is on the telly once more touting his mince pie flavoured ice cream (I kid you not: “individual ice creams wiv bits of mince pie in ‘em – even the pastry! Gor blimey, gov’nor!”).

The signs are there writ large upon the stars. Even the D list ones.

It is Christmas time (mistletoe and wine). It’s time to get jollied up. To get Santa’d. To get ho ho hoed.

But I can’t do it. I just can’t summon up the inclination.

It’s taken all my will power just to summon up a soupcon of enthusiasm to give my wife a Christmas wish list for myself – let alone trying to choose presents for other people.

I feel that spiritually I am shrugging with the burden of it all. I’m suffering from joy exhaustion or maybe more accurately “fear of joy commitment”.

Money’s tight. The health of the entire family seems to be dicey at the moment – if it we were a drink we would be Cinzano on the rocks without the Cinzano. Inanimate and domestic services are breaking down. My work colleagues inform me that Russell Grant got voted off Strictly Come Dancing. Things are on the verge of collapse.

Is this a good time to be having Christmas, I ask myself?

Might we not be better off postponing it until the Spring? ‘Cos Springwatch will be on the telly then and Chris Packham will be convincing us all that life is getting better because of all the birds and badgers producing young. The days will be longer. Jamie Oliver will have died from mince pie ice cream poisoning. I’ll have a modicum of hope in my heart that things will at least be getting warmer if not better.

This mid winter thing? I mean, is that really right for Christmas? Is it appropriate? Half of the world doesn’t think so.

Can we have a referendum on it, please? Put it to the vote?

Where the hell’s Jacob Marley when you need him?


P.S. This is my 800th post. That’s right: 800! 800 posts and still moaning...

Friday, November 18, 2011

No Place Of Safety

Speaking OutDomestic violence is an issue that we all, I’m sure, like to keep at arm’s length. It’s something that most of us don’t like to think about. I mean, hey, we know what it’s about anyway, right? We don’t want to be brought down about it. It happens but not that often and it happens to other people; people we don’t know.

Wrong.

I can guarantee that in your surprisingly wide circle of friends and acquaintances you will know several people who have experienced domestic violence in some shape or form. Several; not just one, several. Some will have been affected directly, some indirectly. Either way it leaves you feeling messed up.

My first encounter with domestic violence was when I was 18. I was young and naïve. I’m glad therefore that I was not directly involved because I would not have known what the hell to do about it. I was working at British Telecom at the time and had a friend that I shall only refer to as R. R was sparky, vivacious, funny and totally madcap. She was a couple of years older than me but seemed a lot older than that. She had an Asian boyfriend and both were heavily involved in the local band scene at the time.

One day she came into work sporting a split lip. She talked about it quite freely during a tea break. They’d been set upon, her and her boyfriend, by some white guys. If we thought she looked bad we ought to see her poor boyfriend. It had been a horrible attack. Undoubtedly racially motivated.

We all made the right sympathetic and outraged noises.

All apart from one of the older women among our colleagues who sat very quietly and said nothing.

I only know what happened next because R told me years later. While the rest of us had returned to our duties, this older colleague – let’s call her P – had sat still and asked R to wait. Once they were alone P had simply said, “You need to get out of the relationship now. He won’t change. This will not be a one-off. He will cry and he will apologize and he will swear that it will never happen again but he won’t change.”

When R finally told me the truth of what happened many years later – that her boyfriend had habitually hit her – the relationship was long dead. She’d finally left him after a couple of years. And P had been right. He had hit her again. And again. And again. Each time afterwards he had been sorry. Heart wrenchingly, heartbreakingly, genuinely (I’m sure) sorry. He had cried. He had sobbed. But he had not changed. He had not admitted that he himself needed help.

In the end he had exhausted R’s capacity for forgiveness. Thank God for that (despite the irony).

R had been lucky. She had found the courage to leave him. She had found the courage to admit to herself that it was a bad situation that could not be fixed. Found the courage to admit to me that she had lied about the racist attack to protect not just herself but also her boyfriend.

Because when you are the victim of violence you are hit with a double-whammy. Fear and guilt. And those are pretty effective weapons to keep someone silent. To keep someone complicit.

I often wonder now about P. How did she know? I was too innocent to pick up on the signs that R was undoubtedly giving out but not P. She saw the whole situation in an instant. From experience maybe? It’s hard to speculate. P was a strong character. I can’t imagine her being caught up in a relationship like that.

But why not?

It only takes falling in love with the wrong person. Nobody is born is a victim. Nobody chooses it.

But our most intimate relationships can bind us to the wrong people in ways that are very difficult to break.

And you can’t tell what someone is like just by looking at them.

You have to listen too. And even then, sometimes, that is not enough.

Today I and many other bloggers are Speaking Out about Domestic Violence. I was asked to participate in this campaign by Wanderlust and have been proud to do so. If you also wish to join the campaign or just to show your support it is not too late. Simply visit Wanderlust’s blog and sign yourself up.

Thank you for listening.




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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Greatest Invention of The 20th Century Was The Washing Machine

And I have proof. Incontestable, empirical proof. You cannot argue with Spongebob Squarepants.

My youngest son has a Spongebob soft toy. Spongebob lives in my son’s bedroom on my son’s bed. Or at least he does during the times when he isn’t being used as a makeshift ballista projectile or an odd shaped rocket whose sole mission in life is to take out the lampshade that surrounds the ceiling light.

Most of the time Spongebob enjoys a quiet, dry, calm existence. Occasionally he is airborne against his will but most of the time he is stationary.

One day this week, however, Spongebob encountered a new experience. A wet experience – which is rather ironic considering Spongebob is supposed to live at the bottom of the sea.

During one of his impromptu boy-assisted flights Spongebob made touch-down in my son’s potty. The potty was full. Spongebob came down into an ocean unlike any ocean that Spongebob was ever made to inhabit.

Spongebob was not happy. My son was cautiously amused.

Spongebob’s label said nothing about him being machine washable. Clearly though we could not allow the status quo to remain as it was. Spongebob needed to wash or go.

We threw him into the washing machine and gave him the works.

Cue both sons – the youngest and the oldest – sitting in front of the washing machine, watching obsessively absorbed as Spongebob was sloshed round and round the drum for the entire duration of the wash cycle. Pure, unadulterated entertainment.

God knows how many hundreds of pounds spent on PlayStation games, God knows how much spent on widescreen TV and digibox, even more spent on DVD players and handheld games consoles...

All wasted.

Want to know what my kids are getting for Christmas?

Laundry.

They’ll love it.



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Monday, November 14, 2011

Immortals

ImmortalsThere are times when you spurn the healthy option. When edifying foods with a high nutritional content are just not what you crave. Instead you want the hamburger. And you want it with cheese. Lots of cheese. You want it cheap and a little bit throwaway. You want it fun rather than worthy.

And so it was, in such a peculiar hunger, that Karen and I went to see Immortals on Saturday night. From the trailers we’d kind of sussed what kind of film it was going to be. Pure escapism. Not at all serious. Just beefcake, epic battles and spectacular effects. The only question was: would it be as excruciatingly wooden as the Clash Of The Titans remake or would it manage to recreate the magic of watching an old Ray Harryhausen movie on the telly when you were a kid?

I’m pleased to say it was more of the latter than the former. It’s not a classic. No one is going to get an Oscar. But neither was it tiresome and stilted. It was ridiculous, of course, but then it is impossible to portray Greek myths on the screen without them appearing ridiculous. As soon as you put muscular men and impossibly pneumatic women in skimpy gold costumes and flimsy togas – no matter how much they may appear to embody Zeus and Athena – they inevitably appear camp and like something from a Carry On movie. Couple that with the production people who gave us the 6-pack rich 300 and you have gratuitous violence as well as gratuitous musculature. If you’re a fan of fab abs and skulls being pulped with big golden hammers you’re going to love Immortals.

If Ray Harryhausen had had access to modern technology this is the kind of film I’m sure he would have made. Once you surrender to the Doug McClure-esque absurdity of the storyline it really does feel like being a kid again. Don’t fight it. Roll with it. This isn’t Shakespeare (or even the person who claimed to be Shakespeare). It’s a hamburger with cheese. It’s naughty but nice. It’ll put a couple of inches on your thighs but so what? It’s coming up to Christmas. You’ll have to diet in the New Year anyway.

Mickey Rourke gives good value as King Hyperion though given his bulk you’d imagine he would have been better placed to play Zeus. His performance is very physical. I think he is quoted as saying he didn’t get “all method” about it. I don’t blame him; there really was no need, though I can’t help but feel wistful about his surprisingly subtle performance all those years ago in Angelheart.

Zeus is played by the surprisingly svelte Luke Evans who looks bizarrely like Action Man, the one with the eagle eyes and grippy fingers but nevertheless convinces the viewer that he is indeed the father of the gods. Henry Cavill, fresh out of The Tudors, seems to have spent a few months down the gym and an equal amount of time on a sunbed but throws himself into the part of Theseus with gusto – which is odd given the luckless life Theseus seems to lead. Mother murdered before his eyes, he gets beaten up, finds a magic bow, gets his end way just once, loses the magic bow and then dies killing the bad guy. In between, of course, he does dispatch a great number of masked warriors with superlative spear work. One can’t help but think he is compensating for lack of opportunities elsewhere.

All in all this is great entertainment provided you don’t take it at all seriously. Director Tarsem Singh gives everything a slightly Indian tint which actually marries quite well with the original Greek blueprint though I was waiting for a Bollywood-style song and dance routine about halfway through.

Mickey Rourke does Bollywood. Now there’s a film I’d love to see.



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Friday, November 11, 2011

School Trip

Our eldest boy has gone on his first ever school trip away from home. I’m not talking about a day terrifying museum staff or a day leaving chewing gum under the pews of a big city cathedral. I’m talking proper sleeping-away-from-home-for-several-nights and eating-food-that-has-not-been-specifically-catered-to-his-extremely-discerning-palate.

It is a momentous occasion in the life of a child. And a parent. It feels like that first big developmental step towards full independence and eventual adulthood.

He’s ten. In some ways he’s older than his years. In some ways younger. Like all ten year olds I suppose.

He’s bright. He’s developing a nice line in cheek that will stand him in good stead in later years.

But nevertheless you worry.

A week away from home is a long time. What if his DS batteries run out? What if he loses his asthma inhaler? What if he doesn’t like any of the 16 choices of sandwich fillings that the adventure centre offers him?

He’s a fussy eater, Goddamit. Maybe we should have snuck a few tins of tuna into his backpack along with all the “emergency crisps” and the “fail-safe chocolate bars”?

He was braver than I was at his age, I’ll give him that. My first trip away from home was a hike to farmhouse a mere 2 miles away where we stayed for a paltry 3 nights. I cried like a baby on the first morning, didn’t like the food when we got there and was convinced my room was haunted simply because the branches of a tree were hanging down right outside my window.

My boy however demanded the coach driver keep his two bags together like a seasoned traveller, settled into a double seat on the coach like a pro and immediately plugged himself into his DS like he was still on our living room couch.

I’ve a feeling he’s going to go far. Literally. Probably backpacking around the globe and making himself head honcho of the global village.

Meanwhile, the wife and I are looking around us, unsettled by the slightly emptier nest that he has left in his wake. The house seems quieter. The biscuit tin looks depressed at the reduced opportunity for human interaction. The PlayStation is sobbing like a betrayed lover.

We are seriously considering hauling a stray kid in off the street and paying him to talk over all the TV programmes we’re trying to watch and complain about the amount of vegetables on his dinner plate. If he can throw in a few pre-teen tantrums and refuse to honour the bedtime curfew even better.

Our boy has left home for the first time.

It’s only been one day and his mum and dad are already homesick.



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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Technology Fail

StonehengeIf ever proof were needed that inanimate objects not only talk to each other but also conspire with each other, I have it.

The timing is too perfect. I have evidence of a well orchestrated campaign.

The inanimate world around me is crumbling, failing. It is falling to entropy with a gusto that can only be the result of enthusiastic collusion. All my gadgets are committing malicious suicide.

Take my PC monitor. It is barely 2 years old. A nice widescreen Cibox thing. It doesn’t need any drivers because I’m running Windows 7. It should just plug and play and indeed has done so for the last 24 months.

But it has now taken to switching itself off repeatedly within the first ten minutes of being turned on. Initially it would turn itself off just once. I feared something fundamentally wrong with the PC and rebooted each time. But then it started upping its game. It would switch itself off a second time. I soon sussed that the PC itself was still running. So I merely unplugged the power cable from the monitor and then plugged it back in again. Hey presto. The monitor came back on and showed all my work to be exactly as I’d last seen it. The PC is fine. It’s the monitor who is stabbing me in the back.

The damn thing is now switching itself off 4 times in a row before eventually stabilizing into the on position. I’ve come close to punching it twice but I remember reading in the manual somewhere that gratuitous violence can severely shorten the functioning life of a PC monitor.

And then my MP3 player discharged itself yesterday. I don’t mean it kneecapped someone. I don’t mean that it oozed something unpleasant from an orifice. I mean it somehow got rid of all the electricity that I had pumped into it a mere few days ago. Thus I had to do without the usual musical accompaniment that I am wont to enjoy on my walk home from work. Ironic when I was dying to listen to Cliff Richard’s “Wired For Sound”. Because I most certainly wasn’t wired for anything at that point.

The water heater fiasco you all know about.

But we’ve also had a gas fire that has mysteriously switched itself off twice. We have a fan in the oven that refuses to switch off but runs for a good 5 hours after we have finished cooking. We have a leaky shower unit that leaks so much water on the floor I could plant a paddy field. And the non-stick surface on our frying pan is no longer non-stick which is hampering the perfection of my fried egg sandwiches.

And all this before Christmas!

These things need replacing... Karen and I know this but sending / receiving them as Christmas presents to ourselves just seems bad form. And yet to spend extra money on them as well as budgeting for more luxurious Christmas presents is plainly economic stupidity.

We are being backed into a corner by the technology that is supposed to be making our lives easier! It is a conspiracy to undo us, I’m sure of it. Our mod-cons are out to get us. My frying pan wants me on the scrap heap rather than itself.

There is only one solution: to opt out (man).

Want to know what I want for Christmas?

A yurt. And a yak hair kaftan.

I’m going stone age, people. It’s the only way to beat the technology rap.

Expect to read my next blog chiselled onto the side of Stonehenge (be patient – it might take some time)...

Addendum: Thursday 10th November 2011 - the exhaust literally fell off our car this morning. I am not joking. I think a T2 might be after me...




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Monday, November 07, 2011

Being Crap

The thing about being crap is that you know, I mean really know, that you’re doing it.

But this knowledge doesn’t help you.

It’s not like other epiphanies. It’s not like when you think to yourself I’m being an arsehole and then you manage to rein in your arseholeness a modicum so that you are less areshole-like. It’s not like when you are stapling a work colleague’s tongue to the notice board and you get to the end of the staples and think OK, I’ve made my position perfectly clear now and you finally stop.

When you realize you are being crap the being crap continues.

I have two novels to proofread. One for publishing on Kindle the other for sending out to an agent. I need to be writing synopses and "Dear Agent" bum-licky letters. I have other people’s work to read and review. I have shop-bought books to read just because I bought them to read them for pleasure. I need to chase college who, bizarrely, have not yet confirmed that I have passed Sign Language Level 1 even though Level 2 is now so far underway it is pointless me trying to enrol and catch up. I have chores around the house – not particularly big chores – that need my attention. I have vague ideas for new writing projects that need solidifying, sharpening. I need to be thinking about Christmas presents. I have bills to pay. I have stuff that needs... stuffing.

But I’m doing none of these things.

I am being crap.

I feel like a severed tongue. I’m just lying here without any discernible means to move myself and I probably have poor taste to boot.

It could be post-novel writing blues. It could be pre-winter SAD. It could be sheer laziness or just inspiration famine.

But I am being crap.

And I am being crap very well indeed.

Result.

See. I knew I wasn’t a complete loser.



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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Major Infarction And General Anaesthetic

So my poorly hot water heater was given its pre-op clean Tuesday evening. The dust was scrubbed off. The old bottles of Domestos and Oilatum were removed from the top. The blood spatter patterns were removed from the sides (don’t ask). All in preparation for Dr Plumb to delve into its coppery innards Wednesday morning.

I told work I’d be in late. I needed to be on hand to wipe my water heater’s brow and whisper reassurances into its metallic ears as the engineer invaded it’s inner sanctum with a screwdriver and a rolled up copy of The Sun.

As it was the operation was cancelled. After an hour of fruitless waiting I rang Sureway to be told by the receptionist that Dr Plumb’s previous patient was currently dying on an operating table somewhere in Suburbville and would take a lot longer to resuscitate. I couldn’t afford to lose yet more time at work so had to reschedule the op for the next day. Thursday at 4pm.

Typical bloody NHS.

As it was the Dr Fixit who attended on Thursday was worth the wait. If we were fearing a greasy-handed butcher who would leave foreign objects afloat in my water heater’s tender abdomen (I believe it’s called retention) I was wrong. We had a lovely young doctor who prepped and cleaned the operating table beforehand and even swept up the rusty entrails afterwards too. It was like the NHS had been unable to attend and had sent BUPA instead.

He quickly ascertained the possible sources of the problem: either a faulty valve (replacement would be £170 – may as well get a new water heater if this was the case) or a worn diaphragm.

It proved to be the latter. Much cheaper to replace and very reassuring to know that my water heater has been indulging in safe sex for all these years without me knowing about it. Though it does explain why our shower unit always looks so perky in the mornings.

We now have the pitter-patter of hot water running throughout the house once more. Father and water heater are both doing well.

Thank you all for your get well cards, your flowers and your chocolates. They were much appreciated though very much more imagined.

I can now get myself up to my neck in hot water once again (in fact I must remember to tell this to my wife: she’ll be thrilled).



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