Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Inevitable Kick In The Teeth

The first time is always the worst. I don’t think you ever get completely hardened to it.

You send all your hopes and dreams off out into the world and expect the world to instantly be dazzled by their worth and startling beauty. To recognize their barely disguised merit – ‘cos if there’s one thing you’re not going to do it’s hide your light under a bushel.

Instead the world flicks you off its tabletop like a ten day old mouse dropping with the smallest of sneers.

If you’re lucky.

Most of the time the world doesn’t even realize you’re there and merely brushes you away accidentally along with all the other crap and detritus that has built up around its privileged higher echelons.

My latest novel, The Great Escapes Of Danny Houdini, received its first rejection slip yesterday.

Polite, polished and perfunctory.

Simply not what the agent was looking for.

This particular agent dealt with writers who guarantee a huge audience and generate a good income. Or so it said between the lines. Well, duh! If I’d known that I’d’ve sent my novel to an agent who was looking for little or no success and hoping to earn just enough to buy a baked potato from the marquee operating in the square outside.

*slaps head in frustration*

So it’s back to the drawing board. Back to the writer’s yearbook to pull another random rabbit out of a bottomless, unknowable pit of a hat. There’s so many to choose from and you never know you’ve chosen the wrong one until you’ve paid for the postage, sent off your novel and they write back to tell you so.

They want this, that and the other – not what you have presented them with. But they’d like you to try somewhere else because another agent might see things differently.


Normally I can cope with the rejection. I’ve become pretty immune to its bloodsucking effects over the years. But sometimes, just sometimes, it sneaks a punch in below the belt. Wallops your tenders like a couple of cathedral bells at a Royal wedding.

It gets you when you’re at your most weakest...

When you’re at your most hopeful.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Going Round The Twist

It’s amazing what you turn to in times of trouble. What crutches present themselves. What wild ports in even wilder storms you find yourself seeking succour in.

Some turn to drink. Others to drugs. Some try lighting up innocuous substances like banana skins or dried hummus because they’re too scared to get sorted for E’s and Whizz. A few turn to hallucinogenic combinations of all these in the hope that the absurd cocktail they have created blows their mind to greener grass and a more comforting mental ambience.

Some, of course, seek solace in the wild abandon that physical pleasure can bring. Gorging themselves on fishnet wrapped flesh and the tangy odours of perfumed armpit and crotch. Excuse me while I pause and take a few deep breaths here.

Yes, a person’s elected path of escape says a lot about their character. It is only in extremis that the world sees us for what we really are.

And Lord knows I have needed to seek comfort of late. The recent troubles with Tom’s nursery have nearly driven me over the edge. It has been brinkmanship of the highest order.

You have to believe me when I say I wouldn’t usually have done this. But... needs must when the devil drives. I was pushed to it. And when the chips were down this proved to be the sauce that saved me.

Round The Twist.

I happened to see the boxed set of all 4 series going for a veritable song on Amazon. Little more than a tenner for all 52 episodes. I bought it instantly and I swear to God that this show has saved me during the last few weeks when things were at their worst.

For those of you who missed Round The Twist first time around, well, I offer you my sympathies. You have been truly deprived. It was originally made in Australia (all the best kids TV shows are made in Australia – excepting The Wiggles) and broadcast on the BBC in the UK back in the early 1990’s. It is just about the funniest, most inventive kid’s TV show ever. Paul Jennings, the show’s writer, is a genius. Each episode is little more than 25 minutes long but is packed with ideas and jokes and (sometimes rather near the knuckle) fun.

I’ve managed to turn Karen and our eldest boy, Ben, into instant Round The Twist converts. For me, it is a real trip down memory lane. Sure the effects are as ropey as all hell and the music dates the show horribly but once that theme tune is stuck in your head it’s stuck in there forever.

After I’ve been laid low with a day’s worth of trial and tribulation, just a quick hit of Round The Twist and I’m right as rain again. I’m reminded that life can be weird and wonderful and fun. You just have to look for it.

And the best thing of all is I don’t have to deviate my septum sniffing coke or wear that damned gimp mask anymore.

(Oops...! Sorry. Too much information?)

If you can’t live in a haunted lighthouse yourself then buying Round The Twist is honestly the next best thing. They just don’t make shows like this anymore. Alas.

Now nick off, you big galah!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Life has a reassuring habit of tapping you on the shoulder sometimes and saying, “hey, I know you think you’ve got it bad but it could actually be a lot worse”. Lord knows Karen and I have found the last 4 weeks tough and at the height of it we were living like zombies: staggering to work, staggering home, staggering the problems to try and make them more surmountable and then just collapsing into the comforting oblivion of sleep.

But really. Things could have been worse. A lot worse.

I met my old friend, Dave, yesterday – the guy I wrote about a couple of weeks ago on this here very blog; my partner in late eighties C90 based toilet humour. It was one of those chance, out of the blue meetings that are sadly all too rare but do serve to ground you and remind you that actually the entirety of all existence isn’t circling solely around you and your miserable little band of troubles.

It was good to catch up but not good to hear that, like a lot of people I’ve heard from recently (is there some weirdly negative cosmic zeitgeist going around at the moment?) he and his family have been going through the mill lately. I won’t go into detail as the details are not mine to share but let’s just say that persistent illness of a loved one is at the core of it and the situation is not improving. Hence Dave is running around like the proverbial bluearsed fly and not having very much “me” time at all.

Sometimes living life is like trying to nail jelly to a wall with someone on your back charging you extortionate rates for the use of the hammer whilst lubricating the jelly.

I’m sure that image will stay with many of you for a long time. Please don’t thank me; it’s just what I do.

During our chat Dave and I couldn’t help but reminisce back to those relatively carefree days when we used to give our woefully adolescent subconscious minds free reign to express themselves onto Sony C90 tape. We spoke a little wistfully of the dreams we’d had at the time. Dreams not plans. Because there was loads of stuff we knew we wanted to do – travelling around America was one item high on our list, I seem to recall – but we made no definite plans to see any of the dreams realized.

And then before we knew it the opportunity had gone and life had given us a bag of jelly mix and a lump hammer from the local ‘building and plumbing supplies’ hire centre.

In the blink of an eye you’re fast-tracked into the rat-race; nose-dived into the grid. Welcome to the real world. The desert of the real.

And so you grow up. And you mature. And your perspectives change. Your dreams become simpler but in a way far more meaningful.

You want your loved ones to be happy and healthy. You want quality time with them. Sometimes you’d gladly swap a coast-to-coast tour of the US just to sit with your family and watch a decent sitcom on the TV and feel that all is right with your world.

A little bit of homespun wisdom for you all: even when things are at their worst the good things you have are still good.

It really does help to remember that. Trust me.

(Good luck, Dave.)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What The Doctor Said And What The Director Said

Hopefully this will be the last post on this subject for a while... for the last month it feels like all Karen and I have eaten, slept and talked about is nursery.

However, there has been movement if not resolution.

A visit to the GP on Monday secured us the confirmation we needed: there is nothing wrong or abnormal with Tom or his behaviour; it is all within normal bounds. If anything he is very bright, probably bored stiff and ready for school right now. The doctor’s diagnosis matched many of the comments you guys left on my last post: “the problem is environmental not pathological – change the nursery”.

When we reported this to the manager of the nursery she disgusted both Karen and I by actually looking disappointed. Disappointed that there wasn’t something wrong with Tom; that he didn’t have a diagnosable, pathological problem. She announced she’d make moves to refer him to someone herself.

Karen and I let that go as we were booked in to see the director of the nursery yesterday afternoon. Up until just before Christmas the director, J, was running the nursery day-to-day and had everything, including Tom, under control. Her retirement and the installation of a new manager and Tom’s degenerate behaviour are something more than just coincidence.

J is a lovely “old school” type. And totally got what we were saying. She was, I suspect, appalled that such a hysterical flap had been allowed to develop; that Karen and I had been guilt tripped by the manager on a number of occasions (“I was so worried about Tom I crashed my car”, for example); that the boundaries had been allowed to fall away to such an extent that any kind of authority had broken down. I think she was more disappointed that Karen and I hadn’t been listened to in terms of the effective techniques we employ at home to maintain order – the same techniques that she herself employed when running the nursery daily before her retirement. She was sad that we’d been driven to view other nurseries and that moving Tom was now a definite consideration.

She took it all on board and her response was that her nursery, her staff needed to do more. And if they didn’t like it, tough; it was their job to deal with it. Since J started intervening last Monday the daily phone calls to Karen and I from the nursery have stopped. Tom is getting one-on-ones with the staff to intervene at any flashpoint and guide his behaviour back onto the straight and narrow. The improvement and drop in stress for everyone has been palpable. If they’d only done this 4 weeks ago...

J is so honourable we’ve decided to give the nursery another 2 weeks. Giving up and washing her hands of Tom was so beyond J’s thought processes it was truly heartening and plainly moving Tom really has to be the last resort.

So the nursery have got 2 weeks to re-establish our trust in them and to start to turn things around.

Karen and I have viewed 4 other nurseries – 3 of which we’d be happy for Tom to go to – so we feel like we have choices and a plan B should this not work out. We feel like we’re back in control again.

Hopefully with J back to keeping a watchful eye on the helm, nursery are too.

Which is happy news for everyone. Especially Tom.

Normal scurrilous blog service will be resumed shortly.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crossing Boundaries

I’ve discovered that it doesn’t take very much to jolt me off track. To so unsettle me that I find even writing – my instinctual outlet since I was 9 years old – impossible.

Problems with my family will pretty much do it every time.

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know from a previous post the trouble we’ve been having with our youngest, Tom, at nursery (or, to put it another way, the trouble our youngest has been having with his nursery) and if you’re not, well, this is probably not a great post to be introduced to me (I suggest you read the one preceding it).

I’m not going to go into detail as (a) it’s not fair to Tom and (b) it’s not fair to the nursery... but suffice to say the last 3 weeks have been hell. Stress overload. Karen and I have not been able to relax for a second as the nursery, once they crossed the boundary of ringing us when Tom was having a “rampage” then more or less rang us every single day. We’ve spent the last two weeks on tenterhooks waiting for the next phone call, not being able to relax, and just generally feeling sick.

Karen had been signed off work, ill, since the beginning of the month anyway so with all this going on any chance she’s had of resting and recuperating has been machine gunned down without mercy. Meanwhile, I’ve had my ability to perform my job impaired as I’ve found myself on call to the nursery. I don’t get paid for time away from my job so I’ve found myself hotfooting it to the nursery without pay to do the job that I pay them to do.


I don’t think Karen and I have slept properly for weeks. It’s been too much. And ridiculous to boot.

In short, a change of management at the nursery has led to a subtle change in ethos and method which has lead to Tom pushing boundaries which bowed and then collapsed leading to a downward spiral in behaviour. Behaviour that is not exhibited at home or elsewhere as Karen and I run a tight ship in the old discipline department. But this has just led to further frustration for us: when we can see how little effort and thought it takes to get control of Tom and yet the “experts” are just not doing it for a whole raft of reasons verging from “staffing levels” to “health & safety”.

Over the last 3 weeks Tom has been gossiped about by staff at the school that the nursery is affiliated to. He’s come home and twice has said something along the lines that “something is wrong / not right with him” – something Karen and I have never even thought let alone said; clearly someone else has said this to him or in front of him which is appalling. It’s been implied that he needs one-to-one help as if he were a special needs child. We were told that a pregnant care worker he hit ended up in hospital – we later found out that she had issues with blood clots; nothing at all to do with Tom but it was nice of the nursery to leave us with that guilt and responsibility for the best part of a week. The manager also pranged her car this week and informed us it was “because she was thinking about Tom”. I wonder how much responsibility a 4 year old can take for the world? The final straw came this Monday when the manager told us that “maybe Tom wasn’t ready for full time nursery care”.

He’s been in full time nursery care at this same nursery since he was 11 months old.

Needless to say Karen and I are not happy and have demanded a meeting with the director next week. For the best part of 3 years Tom’s behaviour has been managed adeptly but since New Year the nursery have allowed Tom’s behaviour to slip and fall and have now exacerbated the problem with H&S rubbish rather than nip it in the bud. The poor kid is confused and wondering what the hell is going on.

I’d like to point out that Karen and I are not excusing his bad behaviour at nursery. It needs bringing into line. But it needs doing calmly and wisely and not with all this hysteria that has been built up – it’s all become about the nursery’s lack of control rather than focusing on teaching Tom the right way to interact. It’s no good Karen and I upholding the rules at home if nursery then go and fumble them during the week. Karen and I are followers of the Super Nanny school of education. But get this – the manager implied that our isolating Tom on a naughty step or a naughty room (where he can’t see us but we can see him) is technically “child abuse” and that “she ought to report it to the authorities”.


Let’s just say the manager did a child abuse course before Christmas and has the zealotry of a new convert.

It has been yet another straw to break our backs.

So Karen and I have, with heavy heart, been checking out other nurseries – we don’t really want to move him as our master plan was for him to move to the school affiliated with the nursery in September with friends that he’s built up over the last 4 years. This plan is now in jeopardy. Unless there is a massive turn around at our meeting with the nursery director on Tuesday there is little point in keeping him where he is now – Karen and I have completely lost our confidence in the place. Part of what we pay for is peace of mind and a calm, consistent approach to socially educating our children. We no longer have any of that. The manager who announced she was “in for the long haul” a mere 3 weeks ago was the one saying Tom couldn’t cope with full time nursery on Monday. Read that as she couldn’t cope with it. Hence her minor car crash.

The director we are seeing on Tuesday is a lovely lady – grandmotherly and old school. Up until Christmas she was working at the nursery (but then went into semi retirement) and often sorted Tom out when he’d misbehaved. Karen and I have lost count of the number of times she’d shrugged his latest escapade off with “He’s fine – these young girls flap so much!” We’re sorry to be bringing her out of retirement but if anyone can sort it, she can. We’re sure she’ll be horrified at the thought that her nursery can’t handle a 4 year old!

Because at the end of the day the other nurseries Karen and I have viewed this week as possible alternatives have all but shrugged when told the reason we are considering moving Tom. Nothing new. Nothing special. Not out of the ordinary. Normal. Most figure it can be sorted out within a month.

It’s been good to hear. Good to see people reacting measuredly and sanely and not calling for the local priest. Good to know we have choices. But we will still be sad if we have to move Tom so close to him starting school at the end of the year. We want him unsettled as little as possible until then.

It’s been a dreadful month. We’ve had our parenting called into question, the nature of our little boy called into question and all of our plans for him thrown up into the air whilst having parenting leaflets and behavioural training leaflets waved into our faces by those that most need to read them.

Whatever happens next week we can’t go on as we have been. This level of constant extremis just cannot be maintained by any of us.

Something has got to give.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Liar Liar

First and foremost I’d like to point out that this post is not just a lame excuse to publish a saucy picture of the fulsomely lobed (cerebrally, naturally) Victoria Coren. OK? I would never stoop to such transparent tactics.

Am I lying? Well, just look into my eyes and tell me.

Am I? Am I?

You see, in my continued quest to ramp up my monthly earnings (and thus keep the wolves from my door) I have been reviewing all sorts of options to make a little bit on the side. To earn a little bit more. To acquire a little extra tin.

I’ve followed the normal roads of enquiry: a second job, the “work from home” ads in the Classifieds, selling stuff I don’t want on eBay, selling stuff I do want on eBay, selling stuff I need on eBay (do I really need 2 lungs for example?), the white slave trade and prostitution... but I either don’t have the energy, the time, the legs or the clean bill of health from a trustworthy GP to make these options viable.

So I’ve been looking into the B list. The B list is made up of dodgy, cat in hell’s chance, money making ideas. TV competitions. Pub quizzes. The Lottery. Betting on the horses. And, finally, playing poker.

And it reminded me that some people – some quite high profile people like the blondesome brainiac that is Victoria Coren – make a decentish living playing poker. I used to think the poker playing world was made up of swarthy, cut-throat types who wear sweaty white suits and those weird green visor thingies to try and hide the look of abject constipation in their eyes but Victoria Coren (courtesy of Google Images) and, indeed, the BBC’s Hustle assure me that actually the poker playing fraternity is made up of honest-to-God salt of the earth types who might actually surprise you with their choice of University degree.

Therefore this could plainly be a viable career move. And I reckon I could pull it off. I mean, I can keep my face straight whilst screaming inside with the best of them (I’ve been a local government employee for nearly 14 years).

The only problem is I don’t know how to play poker. I have never learnt. Whenever poker games appear in James Bond movies I shuffle uncomfortably because I just don’t understand all that 3 pairs, royal flush, aces high bollocks. I’m just guessing that the rules are nothing like Snap.

But I think I would be rather good at poker nonetheless. Because when it comes to card games at least (not so good with sneaky Friday nights at the pub) I am a damn good liar. I can remember playing Liar Liar* as a young twenty-something and outfoxing everyone. (Liar Liar is the game where you have to get rid of all your cards by announcing you have, for example, 3 twos – you then put down your 3 twos face down. The trick, of course, is to put down 3 cards (or however many) even if you don’t have enough of the same numerical amount to make a grouping. If people call you – by saying Liar Liar – and you are proven to have lied you have to pick up ALL the cards that have been previously put down.) I was a natural and people would frequently miss when I had lied and mistakenly accuse me of lying when I had in fact told the truth – thus earning the forfeit themselves. God, what a card-sharp, I was.

Those were the days.

Pity we weren’t playing for money. Or playing strip Liar Liar with Victoria Coren... those photos would go down a bundle on eBay.

So anyway... I can lie like a barrister when I have a deck of cards in my hand. I just need to be taught the rules of the game.

Any poker aficionados out there willing to take on an apprentice? I’ll split my winnings 70/30? Come on, that’s got to be a good deal! Money for practically nothing!

Victoria, if you’re reading this, I’ll make it 60/40 but you might have to lose a few items of clothing... (and you know I’m not lying).

Call me?

*Also known as Cheat.

Monday, February 06, 2012

I Know Nothing

One thing life has taught me is that the easiest way to be unhelpful to people you don’t like is to feign ignorance. To shrug your shoulders. To look apologetic and say in a wheedling voice that you’d really like to help but the issue in question is totally beyond your current scope of abilities.

If you want to be particularly passive-aggressive about it you can add: “Ooh, I don’t know a thing about this and I fear I will only make things worse for you should I try to lend a hand.”

Once this tactic has been employed I can quite nastily go about my business watching rather smugly while the mother-of-all-foul-ups occurs as the hapless victim struggles with their task without the miracle-cure knowledge that I have jealously guarded and retained for myself.

For years I thought that such tactics were just merely sneaky, lazy, cowardly and undeniably fun but small victories in a world where little people like you and me get shat upon regularly from great heights by big people who don’t even notice the rank smell they leave behind them as they pass over the surface of the earth.

But it turns out that, according to an episode of QI that I recently watched, such a tactic is actually a prime example of Socratic Irony. Making out that you are dumber(er) than you actually are. Playing the fool. Playing the ignoramus. Apparently Columbo is a classic modern example of Socratic Irony at work. The bumbling, stumbling detective who seems to have a haphazard and dishevelled grip on the facts.

I now feel that my normal modus operandi has been elevated somewhat by its dazzling association with Classic Greek Athenian philosophy. I don’t know whether this makes me feel very proud or fills me with chagrin. Clearly I have been exercising the higher echelons of my intellect rather than just taking the easy way out. Rather than just laziness my nonchalant responses indicate a deep understanding of elenctic method. This does wonders for my self esteem.

But I can’t help but feel I have been casting pearl before swine.

Those around me have been thoroughly ignorant of the cleverness of my tactics. My methods, in short, are too damned smart for them.

So my question is: is that more ironic than the method of elenchus I have been employing? Or less?

Just who is the joke upon?


Suddenly I have a maddening headache in the pupil of my glass eye...


Friday, February 03, 2012

On The Bone

I don’t like meat on the bone.

This thought occurred to me the other day. Or rather I suddenly became properly conscious of it (it’s not like not liking meat on the bone was suddenly a surprise to me).

Does it make me a wuss? That’s the question that immediately followed the thought. Because, you see, in my mind at least – and maybe in your mind too – there is something ideologically macho about eating meat on the bone. Ripping off a hugely greasy chicken leg and tucking into the thigh Henry VIII style. Chowing down manfully on a dripping spare rib. Shoving your gravy encrusted beard into a Desperate Dan style cow-pie replete with horns sticking up out of the pastry.

But I’ve never liked food like that. I really don’t like finding hard inedible stuff in my food. I don’t even like fish bones, for Heaven’s sake. Something else I had in common with the Queen Mum.

As a child the worst meal of the week for me was on Thursday’s. Because we’d have chops.

And there it would be on my plate. A whacking great bone. Or worse still. A sharp little one with splintery bits sewn amongst the fat.

I’d pick at it daintily with my knife and fork, completely eschewing the idea of picking it up in my fingers and bloodthirstily sucking the flesh off it.


Give me a chicken Kiev any day. Or a detached pre-packaged breast (steady!).

And that holds true even today. I went for a chicken curry at a friend’s house years ago and was mortified to find bones in the curry – still attached to the meat. I struggled with the cuisine in Egypt too when I went there for the exact same reason: chicken pizza – with bones on it!

I just don’t like it.

My eldest boy does. Even as a youngling he’d happily gnaw on a bone and tease off every fleck of flesh.

But not me.

I like to think it’s because I’m a little more rarefied. More cultured. But I suspect it’s because I’m a big girl’s blouse. I would never have survived in the Neolithic.

What? Eat that? You mean you’re not going to skin and bone it for me? But it’s still got the face on it! Can’t we just make a stew?

I would starve. I’d be dead within weeks. Man cannot live by wild berries alone.

And the trouble is I’m not particularly keen on berries.

So thank God for pre-prepared food. I am very much a child of the modern age.

The greatest civilizing influence ever was the family butcher.

Which is rather ironic when you think about it.

Anyone care for a chicken nugget?


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Caught In Amber

A nice diversion from all the strife that has currently been assailing Bloggertropolis Towers has been the discovery of how easy it is these days to convert old C90 cassettes into a digital format that I can play, modify and edit on the ol’ PC.

Back in 1989 when I was a somewhat awkward, repressed, geeky, closet-extrovert teen, me and a good mate of mine spent every Saturday evening for a month or two adlibbing comedy, songs and general testosterone fuelled mayhem onto C90 cassettes. I had at the time purchased one of Alan Sugar’s finest creations: a home studio 4-track recording unit replete with turntable and twin cassettes and input jacks for just about everything.

If I remember rightly it cost about £499 and looked like a Borg spaceship (hello Star Trek fans). I had visions of... I don’t know. Certainly not making it onto the music scene. Possibly not even making it onto the comedy scene. I think all I really wanted to do was alleviate the dreary scene in my head of being stuck at British Telecom for the rest of my life being ungainfully employed as a telephone operator.

In many respects they were dark days. The job was awful. Sheer anathema to an obsessively creative type like me. I was spotty and painfully shy around girls. And not much better around blokes I didn’t know (which, let’s face it, was most of them). I lived with the ever-abiding fear that I would die a lonely old social outcast and would never ever have a girlfriend. My best mate at the time, Dave, was probably not much better off socially – though he wasn’t bad looking, could sing and seemed to have a natural flair for learning to play the guitar.

And yet I remember those days very fondly. We were relatively carefree and our troubles at the time – in retrospect – were minor and bound to come good just by having a little patience and waiting for life to take its course. Whilst I couldn’t sing or instantly play the guitar like Hendrix I did have a frighteningly egotistical sense of humour which seemed to burst into life as soon as any recording device was placed in front of me and switched on.

Somehow a double act was born and over the space of 3 months Dave and I must have amassed nearly 12 hours of the most inane, embarrassingly juvenile recordings ever committed to magnetic tape. We did impressions, told jokes, made up songs and murdered existing ones by recording our own lyrics over the tops of the originals. I can lay personal claim to having murdered Bono and lyrically shitting on his grave on at least five separate occasions.

And then the recordings stopped. Dave got a job as a postman and got himself a woman. For some reason that diverted his attentions elsewhere. I’m not bitter but I do blame Dave unreservedly for ruining our chances of getting onto the telly or the radio. Because, to be honest, Rik Mayal’s and Ade Edmondson’s “Bottom” wasn’t that far removed from the type of material that Dave and I were coming up with off the top of our head’s week after week.

Well. So we thought at the time.

The tapes were mixed and then stored away. I even made covers for them. They lay forgotten for years gathering dust.

And then finally in 2011 the cost of technology had dropped so much that a simple tape to mp3 converting device set me back no more than £25. It was something I’ve always meant to do. Future proof all those Derek and Clive moments.

It doesn’t matter that the jokes are bad. That the ethics and sensibilities behind them are as blunt and callous as any teenager’s – we knew little of the world though thought we knew it all. It matters not that some of the verbal outpourings that came out of my mouth now make me cringe and want to tell myself to shut up...

They are little time machines. Moments in time – whole evenings – captured and held in amber. Exactly as we used to be. Without edits or cuts or a single layer of varnish to make any of it any more or less palatable.

I love them dearly, those recordings. They make me smile and frequently make me laugh.

We had something special, Dave and I . We really did.

A friendship. And it’s nice to know that it’s still there (if you’re reading this, Dave).

And no. I will not be posting excerpts of any of the recordings on this ‘ere blog.

I have something now that I didn’t have back then.

A reputation.

(Though do feel free to tell me I’m wrong.)