Friday, September 30, 2005

Sorry I think I left a light on..

Say it, I know, I'm crap.

Call yourself a man of principle Colin? Not me, I've the back bone of a jelly fish and the morals of Mr Blobby.

Truth is I miss the company, and I've missed the blog too. I've been reading all of my favourite people, some new ones too, and I just plain miss it - have you ever tried to blog in your head?

I also had a bloody good chat with myself, and resolved a few things with some of the nagging dissenters in my head. The gist of this was a realisation that it doesn't matter, not a jot, what other people think, it's a place where I get to write what I really think, if I'm honest enough to do that, and if people don't like it, well...they won't read it? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. More than that I'm fed up with denying myself things that I enjoy, if I'm not careful the treats box will soon look as spartan as my fridge.

(But really I just missed it much more than I thought I would).

Erm, I feel a bit like Charlie at the moment when he's squirted on the carpet, mincing around on tiptoe with his tail between his legs...if he could whistle tunelessly he would. So can we just let it go please, consider it an aberration and carry on as if I hadn't widdled on the rug....

I know who drank the '81, call me Clouseau, and I will be naming and shaming, you harlot.

Last night I parked my neighbours car for her for the umpteenth time. It's a busy street I'll grant you, and parking spaces are at a premium, but ma'am, you have the spatial awareness of a drunken moth. But you are very, very sweet when you're flustered, I especially like the way you push your glasses up your nose and look around to see if there's an audience when you mount the kerb.

Oh and some gossip, shhh, lean in because I'm going to whisper - I met someone too! She's very nice, but she's sort of 'on the rebound' and I'm a bit shy so it's softly softly, slowly slowly, if you know what I mean, but I really like her - so keep it under your hat for the moment.

Oooo, this feels luvverly.

And while it's my blog and she doesn't know me from Adam, I'd just like to take the opportunity to say to 'Sue', I've no idea who you are but if you don't stop bullying Katya the boys will be round with an empty Rioja bottle and some vaseline - get my drift?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"heaven, I'm in heaven, and I wish that....."

Thank you leesepea, but I don’t think I’ll be buying flowers for the vet after all…she's nice but, I'm still looking for the real thing.

I know how this started, out there on the world wide web I bumped into an American girl and we started to write to each other. We got quite close and lied to each other on a regular basis, and she had a “blog”. I used to marvel at that, I was a regular visitor and even in the times where we weren’t corresponding with each other (that’s the immediacy of email for you right there, people who’ve never met can argue about a lack of feeling or intuition!), I had a real feel for how she was. She wrote freely and openly about her feelings, and knowing her even from a distance I could see the ebb and flow of her moods. What amazed me most was her commitment to her blog, no matter how she felt, what it cost her to reveal, she posted – and she was private too, hardly anyone commented on what she had disclosed.

That’s why I thought I’d give it a try. Do you recognise the symptoms? A tiny bubble of hysteria, building as it rises and the fear that it might hit the surface in a public place? Imagine, the office, if you felt a sudden irrepressible urge to say what was really on your mind (I’m still going to do it one day and people will say”that was a funny way to resign”). The anonymity appealed to me. It would be helpful to write, to get things out, to think them through and put them in perspective through the simple discipline of writing about them. Squeezing spots on to a page. You can’t imagine the release! (Of course you can, stupid). It was marvellous, better than I had imagined, I could say what I wanted, rant, rave, roll with the flow, anything I liked from what I had for tea to polishing the bones of my skeletons.

It took me a while to get over myself, to start to have a look around. There’s a universe out there, and it’s possible to go scudding from star to star. It’s incredible. There are so many people, saying so many things, every single one of them completely justified just by the very act of having something to say, that you could lose yourself. Still, and all, I found myself coming back to some people, and (finally) found out how to link places so that I could get back to them easily. That should have been a clue for me, but I’m thick.

I’d dug a nice, comfortable hole and filled it with the comfortable mess of my head, and then like a fool I went messing about on the river.

There’s no point in me saying, to anyone who might read this, that there is some wonderful writing out there (but I suspect I’m going to say it anyw…oops, too late). There are people who make what probably seems mundane even to them seem exciting, if only because it’s a window into their world. There are others that make you laugh out loud, and those who can describe the deep dark night of their soul, and do it as if they were writing just for you. I’ve read things that I will remember forever, things that I know will make me hesitate and think before I offer an opinion on things I was once certain about.

This may be boring the pants of you by now, but it is going somewhere really….

I felt the need to leave comments with other people, to try and express my appreciation. I’d no idea, I guess like most of us, how this macrocosm worked, when I first entered it. And then, well look at that!, people left comments on some of the things I’d written. Which is when it really all started to go wrong. I must admit I got carried away. I left footprints in the snow. Suddenly it wasn’t enough to just read other people, I had to go and say something, and they followed me home. And then I wasn’t writing for me anymore I was writing , in my head, for an audience, and showing off (what with I’ve got no idea). Nothing to do with the subject matter, but it was in my mind now that other people would read what I’d written, so I could never be sure that I wasn’t trying to impress.

But that’s not the worst of it. The people that I’ve met here are extraordinary. They care, (you care don’t you?). Have you noticed? I’ve ‘met’ more genuine people in these few months in this cyber world than I have ‘outside’ in my entire life. You don’t simply comment on each other, you actually, really do give tuppence about each others lives. It’s wonderful, it’s incredible, it’s addictive and for me it’s very dangerous.

The truth of it is that the atmosphere is a bit too rarefied for me, up here the air’s too clean. This world on this inside is good, wholesome, supportive. I could live here. But I don’t, I live out there, and mostly it’s not a pleasant place to be, but it is at least real, in a way that unfortunately you are not. I’ll make a fool of myself if I stay, in fact I already have.

On the bright side, on the outside, it’s autumn, which is my favourite season. It’s full of wood smoke and the crisp crunch of leaves under foot, wellie boots and conkers, cool sheets and red hair and freckles (yes, freckles). These are dog singing days.

I’ve dreamt my very pleasant dream, and now I’ve woken up, and it’s a lovely day outside.

So, I’m off, no comments (PLEASE!), let a chap put his wellie boots on..

..wait, better check the gas is off….yup,

switch off the lights and, close the door with a


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

And Charlie says da doo ron ron

I can't see anything except a swirl of colours with my left eye, which is nice, it's like having your own peronal en suite kaleidoscope

I used to wonder what it is that women have to say to babies. I’ve never really concentrated on it but I know it’s more than just coochiecoochiecoo. I imagined that it was just one of those things that are somehow necessary, some sentient female instinct to engage the child in conversation, not because the baby will understand the words let alone the meaning, but will somehow absorb some part of it, maybe the sentiment, maybe vocal structure or intonation as part of a subliminal early learning process.

However, I now thing this theory is a lot of tush – ever since I actually registered what I was saying to the dogs. We walk and I talk, complete drivel. Yards of it. It’s become an out of body experience now, tonight I overheard myself singing the “wee on it” song.

“what is it Charlie I don’t know…let’s wee on it”
“what is it Toff, I’ve no idea…let’s wee on it”
“la la la la la (sing along now)…let’s wee on it”
ad nauseum

I do voices too.

I’m going into a home soon.

Go Now

I was going to write something but I can't now, just go and see Miladysa please, someone precious needs your support

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

to whom it may concern

To the gentleman I met in the high street of Red Canyon, Montana, in the early hours of the 27th of August. (Yes you sir, you know who you are, 7 ‘ 2”, ruddy complexion, full beard, Oshkosh biballs marinated in bull semen).

I would like to offer my sincere apologies, from a safe distance of several thousand miles.

It was a complete surprise to me.

I’d simply stepped into the bar for a few drinks, the Margharitas were not on the original agenda. Neither was staying until 2 am, so when the young lady offered to walk me back to my Motel I was grateful for her help. I was a little unsteady on my feet and it was a strange town, which is why we were walking arm in arm. The reason that we were laughing is quite innocent too, she asked me if I knew anything about the stars, and I was very close to convincing her that if you look really, really hard you can see Orion’s schlong, dangling at right angles to his belt.

So when you crashed up the pavement in your truck, clipping the back of my head en route with the wing mirror I was a little disoriented. I’m sorry if I looked stupid. And of course when you leapt down from the truck and shouted “thasmawifebudi”, you’ll forgive me if I didn’t at first register what it was that you seemed to be trying so urgently to convey.

When the penny finally dropped, “That’s-my-wife-buddy”, all I can say in my defence was, it was a complete surprise to me.

If you are reading this I’m sure that your good lady was only trying make sure that a tipsy stranger made it safely back to his lodging. There was no suggestion of improper conduct, and even if there were then I would be entirely to blame.

Oh, and I’m sorry I ran off, but when you reached back into the truck those stains on the seat of your overalls looked for all the world like fresh blood, (some trick of the moonlight no doubt), and I had a sudden urge to go to the toilet.

it doesn't hurt when I wee through it, so I'll just use it for that

I've been reading a lot about other people's experiences with Mosquito's. It's amazing how something so tiny can be such a pain in the backside? Most of the bites that I get I pick up in the evenings while I'm out walking the dogs, and sometimes there's quite a nasty reaction, one got me on the eye not too long ago and it swelled up as if I'd been punched. (I do take a crumb of comfort in imagining the mosi waking up in the morning clinging to the underside of a leaf and thinking "Holy Moly, what the hell was I drinking last night, I'm not going back there again", and searching around for tiny gnatspirin).

But this year I picked up a can of repellent in Canada, it's en francais so I have no idea what it says but I think it must be something like "begone you frail filigree winged fucker" (if it's not it should be), because now I trip gaily through the fields like the boy in the bubble with nary a thought for airborne wee beasties. I don't know what it is but I recommend it (and the manufacturers can quote me on that).

Speaking of tripping gaily through fields, there are a few fields that we have been avoiding recently. There's an Airedale out there that has designs on Toffee. Recently we've been wending our merry way through "Forty Hall" (ex hunting ground of Dick Turpin just by the way) when this bloody idiot terrier has broken cover, slewed off it's dirty old mac, and bolted towards poor Toffee like a sex starved cheetah. Toffee wants to run, that's what he lives for, he'll run, and run, and run, through thickets of undergrowth, puddles, ponds, ditches and farmers fields if you'll let him. And he's a boy, he has absolutely no interest whatsoever in being done roughly up the bottom by a gay opportunist Airedale.

And while we are in the realms of the sloppy segue, Toffee still has a better sex life than me, If you were around last night you'll know that I was feeling just a tad sorry for myself (wallowing in a humungous scalding vat of self pity because I have a vague head cold), one of those occasions where you take a roll call of all of things that are wrong with your life. Stand up career, idiot colleagues prepare to be named and shamed, say hello location, you there - too little time - stand up at the back, although I must say thanks for all of the offers of chicken soup, I may ironically pop my clogs but it won't be for want of nourishing broth. And it's raining it's pouring, my love life is boring. It's been over a year honest Colin, well over a year. My hoover has seen more action in the bedroom than I have (which believe me is saying something).

Not that I'm surprised at this, please don't misunderstand. It's not as if I'm in a relationship, I don't have anything remotely resembling a 'girlfriend', so it would be even more remarkable if I were showered in indiscriminate sexual favours. It's also not something that I think of all of the time, (except for those little 3 second bursts that we all have every 2 minutes - at least that's what it says in Cosmo), but I don't dwell on it or sit against the bathroom wall and rock disconsolately. Which, in a way, ought to be just as worrying as dwelling on it and panicking. Am I getting used to it? Has my libido shrunk to such an extent that I'd just as soon spend an evening in with my furry friends as try to find some beautiful, happy and above all willing, lady friend? (Word to self: Have a chat with yourself Colin, when have you ever, deliberately managed a successful conversation with someone that you were attracted to? The likelihood of your mouth uttering words that a woman might want to hear is in direct, inverse proportion with how much you like her). And I am able to, you know, sort it out for myself, I don't believe I really will go blind and after all I ought to know what turns me on - except that the last time I tried, well....I got bored, (Hellfire, I even bored myself! That doesn't bode well for the future does it?). In any case, masturbation is to sex what a dip in the local pool is to swimming with dolphins. Anyway, do people really do that, I mean do men (and women) really see someone they like while they are out in the evening, introduce themselves, chat for a while and then go home together? Am I missing the point here, am I the only one that longs from afar? Or, possibly, do people have sex with people they don't particularly like, just for the moist, jiggly bit? Oooer, now I am beginning to panic, it is perfectly possible that if I continue down this manic, limiting path of trying to find someone attractive that I actually like that I may never, ever have sex again. Brrrr, is it cold in here or is it just me?

I'm really giving some serious thought to running one of the dogs over, slightly, so that I can go back to my gorgeous vet......better still, I could kidnap that bastard Airedale and have it's nuts removed?

PS, Last night I found a pair of spectacles in the kitchen. They must belong to one of the drive by wine sponges from the weekend, but nobody has called or emailed to claim them, it's my first clue.

Monday, September 19, 2005

famous last words

  • Katya's
  • fault. She started me on the whole weekend loss thing this morning and it’s gone down hill ever since….

    I’m dying you see, that is I have a runny nose, sore throat and itchy eyes. I know it sounds like a head cold, but I’m a man, and those are all signs of impending death. I will feel sorry for myself to such an extent that eventually I’ll slip into a catatonic state and if I don’t actually die I’ll disappear, groaning and complaining into my own arse. (Is it Spike Milligan’s head stone that says something like “I told you I was ill” written on it?)

    Not that it was a particularly brilliant weekend. I spent most of it chasing a hockey ball around, so now I’m stiff as well as very, very, very ill. The highlight was the Rioja festival, sponsored by yours truly, who had 24 bottles delivered and I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank all of my friends for selflessly helping me to finish the weekend with just the few bottles that I hid in the airing cupboard. Well done you miserable, freeloading bastards!! (ps whoever drank the 1981, I want you to know that particular bottle wasn’t part of the sampling experience, I know that you know, and I still have the bottle – I will find you and I will insert the bottle into the orifice of my choice).

    Other than that it was quiet really.

    In view of my imminent demise I really wanted to put down a few defining likes, dislikes – you know, for posterity, but everything seems to have conspired to make today as miserable as possible and now I’m feeling so sorry for myself that it’s hard to concentrate. It was sticky last night, or at least I was, and I made the mistake of leaving the bedroom door open so this morning I woke up whispering sweet nothings to the wrong end of a Spaniel. I really wanted to change the bed, which I did, and just for a moment I thought I’d found a new method of putting the cover on the duvet, a quick easy way, but of course that was a load of bollocks and I ended up tearing it, and swearing at it, which in turn scared the dogs (who are still looking at me with the “is it okay dad?” eyes). And all I really wanted to do was sit, with some comfort food and watch the football, (and just maybe have a glass or two of one of the few remaining bottles of red wine that the herd of Bactrian camels who call themselves friends didn’t hoover into their maws at the weekend, damn their sclerotic livers). But nooo, guess who didn’t make it to the shops at the weekend, and had to make do with elderly green beans, broccoli and smoked mackerel. Incredibly healthy and about as comforting as sitting next to a nervous stranger on the W8 bus wearing a rucksack and yashmack and reading out loud from the Koran. There was a single, beautiful, bread roll, soft and brown and encrusted with sparkling, jet, poppy seed, which I dropped and knee-punted under the fridge….and I NEVER want to look down there again.

    So I’m feeling a bit random, instead of a 100 things I’m just going to shake my head and see what falls out:

    I love blues music. In fact I’m a bit of a moody git at times and I figure that if a mood is worth having it’s worth indulging, and there’s an appropriate type of music and a bottle of something to keep it company.

    My body is a temple, and somewhere along the line I’ve wee wee’d in the font.

    I’d still like to have children.

    Ugliness makes me despair. That’s not any physical characteristic, but I feel so bloody helpless in the face meanness, thoughtlessness, cruelty, poverty, intolerant stupidity it makes want to weep.

    My body means to let me down whenever it gets a chance. (I once raced after a girl who I’d never seen before and tapped her on the shoulder, my mind was ready to deliver irrefutable proof of my love and devotion, but my body blew a snot bubble instead).

    I fall in love on public transport, to girls I’ll never speak to or see again.

    I have four friends (not you, you wine swilling ingrates), two of them have four legs.

    Other people seem to have better memories of my life than I do.

    I’ve been in love, and been loved.

    I have mastered the double flush technique of going to the toilet discreetly in other people’s homes.

    I want to know what happened to childhood? It seems to finish when you’re twelve these days.

    Kissing is the most intimate thing you can do.

    Mozart was a genius but Bach had a heart.

    I can not believe in a god, it feels like an abrogation of responsibility, I don’t want to blame any of the world’s ills on a third party, or credit him (sic) with the good that we do, it’s up to us.

    I have a dictum that I’ve found I can live my life by, “I will not be responsible for anyone else’s unhappiness”. It’s a cracking get out clause.

    Cereal for dinner is a perfectly acceptable choice.

    People in pubs people ask me how I am so that they can tell me how they are.

    I’ve run out of friend’s friends - that is I’m not asked to dinner anymore to meet terribly nice friends of my friends, for which I’m very grateful.

    There is something wrong with everyone who is looking for someone on the internet that’s why they (we) are there…thanks for reminding me
  • Bea

  • Hair is my thing.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    beauty and the beast

    these were sent to me as a selection of images of the sky just before Katrina struck, beautiful, ethereal and deadly:

    Thursday, September 15, 2005


    on the laying of ghosts part III

    time for a change of mood.

    By way of a disclaimer, if you are easily offended please don't read this. Sometimes being true isn't adequate justification in itself:

    I live alone, apart from the zoo of course, and I think I always will - and I know there are lots of other people in the same boat because I've spoken to quite a few of them. Strangely most of them seem to be a bit woolly on the "why" they live alone, it seems to be a genuine surprise to them, how did they get to this place and still not have found the person of their dreams? am I not lovable? attractive? (at least easy to please?)....I'm different in that respect at least, I have more than just an inkling into the "why". (And it wasn't anything to do with the ancient gin-soaked gypsy woman in the pub in Wales who grabbed my hand and sucked on her teeth before proclaiming, "you will bring happiness into other people's lives but you'll never find love of your own", but damn her hairy wart to hell anyway).

    I arrived at Manchester University with my hy-man completely intact. It was a new beginning, a clean sheet, and a city that was bound to be full of girls, one of whom (please god) would know by just looking at me that I was really a sensitive, sexy young man who had a lot to offer - so long as it didn't involve conversation or sexual technique. So I was happy. My flatmates were magnificent caricatures too: A vicar's son from Blackpool. A gay skinhead from Blackheath who intended to finance his way through University by selling drugs, and a bluff potato man (he seemed to be 40 while the rest of us were just 19) from Preston. The latter had been sexually active since he was 9 years old and had come to Manchester simply because he had either slept with or been rejected by every girl (goat, sheep, relative) in Cumbria.

    It was pretty bloody good. I know I don't have to explain anything about University life (or your first flat), but pretty soon we had our own collection of pizza boxes, stains, skin diseases, traffic cones. I learned how to wash my clothes without using water, how to order drugs politely...and then which order to take them in, and to lock the door of my room when I wasn't there.

    I've always played hockey. Not ice hockey, but field hockey. It was an option at school. The other one was rugby union and I chose to hit a ball with a stick rather than have 14 hairy arsed strangers sit on me in the mud. It was a good choice, I've always enjoyed it and to be honest I'm actually quite good at it, I've played at county level and on one rare occasion for England. It's a very social sport, we play to win and with 22 men with sticks and one small, hard ball people often get hurt. It can be aggressive and sometimes positively nasty, but at the end of the game we shake hands and shout "three cheers for Old Loughtonians (substitute team name)", "huzza, huzzah, huzzah", really...and then off to the bar for beers.

    It's served me well over the years too. After University I led quite a nomadic life, but all I had to do was to join the local hockey club and I would immediately have, if not mates, then like minded people to spend Saturday night with. So one of the first things I did was to join the Uni hockey section.

    It was fun, but we were hopeless. We were in a league with other local teams who regularly thrashed us by cricket scores, which actually had the effect of making us quite popular. The other teams were made up of players who had jobs, whilst we were very poor (students), and they seemed happy to buy more than their fair share of the beer. Now I am a sociable soul at heart, and often as not I was either unable or unwilling to get back on the team minibus when it left, so I saw a lot of spare beds and living room settees, and I made my way home on Sunday morning from some pretty obscure places around Manchester.

    One team was particularly hospitable and when one of them suggested that I joined them I leapt at the chance. They had already begun to plan their "tour", to the Isle of Mann at whit weekend. Hockey tours are an orgy of beer with vague lip service paid to the game itself, some teams do take the hockey seriously but they are on the whole to be either pitied, or despised, or both. I'd heard about touring but never been so I put my name down at once.

    We arrived in the Isle of Mann via the IOM Steam Packet, a rustbucket that sailed out of Liverpool and took eight days to sail the 300 yards to Ramsey. We were in equal measure sea sick and nauseated from the amount of beer consumed, hoarse from singing and missing half of our equipment that had already left the ship in the hands of other disoriented teams. The sea front at Ramsey is wall to wall hotels, in the "Engish style", trumped up five storey bed & breakfast establishments run by people who were deemed too hostile to work in the prison service. The Balmoral, Carlton, SeaView, Loch Lomond, the Grand, shoulder to shoulder like slices in a toast rack in a regency curve around the bay as far as the eye can see. And in each one a hockey team, two or three in some of the larger hotels.

    It really is quite a big and well organised tournament. Their are literally hundreds of pitches dotted around the island and a shuttle service of buses to pick up teams from the seafront and transport them to and from games. One particular aspect of the IOM that makes it ideal for a hockey festival is that there are no licensing hours, There will be somewhere on the island, if you are willing to look, that will serve you a beer 24/7.

    I can't remember the name of where we stayed, I don't think I could at the time, it was the one between the pink hotel and the concrete bush shelter by the fish and chip shop. It was as dark and unhospitable inside as the proprieter could make it within the confines of the geneva convention. There was a bar though, and a runny egg in the morning, on a slice a toast, so we were content. My room was a monastic cell somewhere up in the gods, with a sink in the corner, and a single rattly sash window, there was a bathroom down the hall with just a bath in it and one loo that the entire landing had to share, I felt quite at home.

    On the Saturady night there was (is still as far as I know) a "Ball" held in the Casino for all of the players. It's obviously not a "Ball" at all, just a focul point for everyone to go and get drunk as a group, generally socialise, dance, do their party trick and try desperately to pull. You will remember that I am a tour virgin at this time, and that position had responsibilities on our team. I was charged with going to the bar for the team drinks, alternately wearing trousers, undercrackers and nekked from the waist down, being made to drink more than my fair share of fines, running whatever errand any of my team mates could dream get the idea.
    By this time in my fruitless career admiring girls from afar I had already worked out for myself a universal truth - the more attractive I thought I was to the opposite sex, (that is the more I had drunk) the less attractive I actually was in identical inverse measure. I like to dance but after a few beers it can resemble a washing machine on spin cycle, I've looked in the mirror in the gents lav in night clubs, and observed the hollow eyed, sweaty , floppy haired moron staring back at me and asked it "why, why, are we not sexy? precious". Eventually I worked it out for myself.

    Imagine my surprise then when I realized that, out of the 2000 people in the room that the girl at the bar was smiling at me. Not at someone behind me, but me! I smiled back and she said something, I've no idea what, and I tried to offer some explanation as to why I was standing at the bar in my underwear. She followed me back to the table and actually helped to carry the drinks, where one of my older team mates helpfully removed my underpants while I was struggling to put down the tray. My team made the most of the opportunity to embarrass me. I was covered in lager, and generally and enthusiastically harangued, condoms appeared from everywhere and some one who'd been watching too much Blue Peter made a hole in beer mat and pushed it over the end of my willy. Bastards, I thought, but when I looked over my shoulder she was still there, and still smiling.

    I begged for my pants back, at least my underwear, but they wouldn't. I really wanted to dance but I could hardly ask her like that and I was trying to tell her so over the melee. She went away and I was absolutely gutted. I sat down on the sodden floor and did my best to finish off a jug of lager before any of my team mates could get their selfish, sodding hands on it. But, I had underestimated the lass, she came back, to more hoots and laughter with a ladies woollen sweater, which I thought was terribly nice, but really quite stupid in the circumstances. Then she knelt down next to me and whispered in my ear....

    ....which is why we ended up on the dance floor, stuck together for hours, her in jeans and a T shirt, me in a T shirt and my legs and bum in an upside down woolly sweater with the v-neck discreetly pointed to the back.

    She really was quite lovely, Bear in mind that my sole criteria for finding a girl attractive at that time was whether she showed the slightest interest in me, but she really was, pretty and fun. She was from Liverpool and I remembered that my brother had reliably informed me about a club in Liverpool called the Grafton where 5 generations of Liverpudlians have been conceived in the queue, so I was very optimistic.

    Eventually they threw us all into the street. We kissed, awkwardly because I was holding my woolly jumper up with one hand. I thought that was wonderful and I was already hoping that we might meet again during the weekend although I didn't expect to be that lucky - when she asked me where my hotel was. Eventually the penny dropped and we literally sprinted down the road. I don't know why she ran but I wanted to get there before she sobered up and changed her mind, or maybe found her marbles in her hand bag.

    I went to bed a tour virgin, and a virgin in every other sense.....I woke up, alone, exactly the same.

    It was a pretty good hangover, right over the eye. The sun was creeping across the walls through the curtains, I was stiff, sore all over in fact and I was sure I'd missed my runny egg. There was a vile taste in my mouth and a horrible smell in the room. I lay there for a while and contemplated as best I could between the grinding pebbles in my head. I knew that we hadn't, I had remembered lying on the bed, kissing, getting incredibly turned on and getting naked in fits and starts and bursts of giggles, and kissing and murmuring and then....I knew we hadn't, I'd simply fallen asleep. A triumph of lager over lust.

    Eventually the pain in my head and the taste in mouth drove me to make some effort to get to the daily ration of aspirin and toothpaste, And what the hell was that smell? I gingerly, incrementally lifted my head off the pillow and looked down. There, coiled on my chest, between my nipples, was a perfectly executed Mr Whippy poo. (For those of you who do not know Mr Whippy, he is the brand of ice cream completely devoid of any dairy that comes out of a machine in a swirl - sometimes we have a chocolate bar in it, but I've never fancied a "99" for some reason).

    I lay back. Perhaps there was a cat in the room, the cat crept in, crapped, and crept out again. But that was silly, a cat wouldn't do that, it was just too much effort, and they are generally much neater. A seagull, nope, wrong diet....I'd done it myself perhaps, but I couldn't imagine what physical contortion I would have needed to perform....unless of course I'd done it in mid air and managed to land before my little brown friend. Like Sherlock Holmes, having eliminated the impossible, the solution no matter however improbable was that....

    ....she must have been rather upset. I mean I've heard the phrase "don't get mad, get even", but this seemed a little, well, OTT.

    You rememeber perhaps that the toilet was at the end of the hall, and this certainly wasn't something I wanted to deposit in the sink. I lay for an age wondering how to disengage myself from my little present. In the end, I slid tortuously from the side of the bed and limbo danced to the window, it was a sash, and I turned sideways (with my head bursting with the effort) and managed to lift. I faced the window, and took a deep (and unwise breath) and stood, suddenly and lurched forward towards the window. The little turd shot out, street bound, from 5 floors up. I covered an hysterical urge to shout "gard a looo!!" after it.

    When I left the hotel later, I left in a suspicious, embarrassed kind of way, I didn't meet anyone in the eye, and I didn't look down at the pavement.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    slightly embarrassed

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to write all of that.

    It was just that the photo’s and then the letters prompted memories and when I started it just felt better out than in somehow.

    That’s a lie too. The truth is, (and I don’t know whether this rings any bells with anyone else?), but ‘memories’ is the wrong word. It feels removed, as if I’ve watched a film or read a book that’s affected me, as if somehow it wasn’t really me who was there, I was just a spectator.

    I don’t think I shall read the letters, they’re open but they were obviously deeply personal and private in their time and it would feel like an intrusion. There’s a selfish reason too, I don’t want to find out that there is any more hurt available from that time, I thought we’d already wrung out every last drop.

    (Thanks by the way, you know who you are).

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    of letters in a box

    I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up, clearing out the loft amongst other things. There’s stuff there in boxes that other people packed, and rather than go through them at the time I just stacked them up, years ago. In fact some of them have moved with me and remained unopened.

    I opened one of these recently and I’m beginning to wish I’d just thrown it away.

    When I was 11 years old my parents moved to Scotland. Just my father and me at first as my mother was pregnant with my younger brother. I have an older brother too, and my grandmother (my mum’s mum) lived with us. Dad and me went first as I had to start school, but mum stayed put s until the baby was born (my older brother, 10 years older had a flat and a job so he was staying anyway).

    A lot of rural lowland Scotland is split into parcels of land still held by peers, most of them minor ones, and most of them are poor as church mice. We had been on holiday several times to Kilkerran, an estate owned by the Fergussons, and the current baronet was struggling to pay off the death duty levied after he had inherited the title. The estate consisted of a few hundred miles of square land and most of the income was derived by letting the land to local farmers, a stables, lumber, pheasant shoots and holiday cottages. My father found a job as the estate manager.

    I think pop had his work cut out, the local’s were suspicious of the English “sasenach”, and he wasn’t exactly wise in the ways of the country. But old pa fishonabike was a trier and bullheaded so it was really only a matter of time. I had plenty to keep me occupied, as the only English kid in school.

    We moved into a cottage called Glenton. It laid back off the main road a half mile or so, on a hill, in it’s own quadrangle of barn and outbuildings. There were open fields to the front, a dusty old orchard to one side and the forest peered over and formed the boundary to the rear. It was summer and there was plenty for a “towny” like me to explore.

    I should say the best fun I had was with a toy racing car I found in the barn. It was shaped like a real old Stirling Moss flier, and even then it was far too small to get in and pedal, but I would roll it to the top of the hill and sit in it with my legs sticking up and out, and then hurtle down the hill, laughing like a loon all the way, right across the road at the end and eventually bump to a halt in somewhere down the gravel track on the other side. It was bloody long walk back up the hill, but worth every step.

    Sounds pretty cool doesn’t it? And it was, I was a kid, I was left to my own devices in the woods and I had an imagination, I was the great white hunter, the last of the Mohicans, a spy, an assassin, anything I wanted to be.

    I even had a taxi pick me up and bring me home from school!! Dad was there every evening, though I was often home first, sometimes he was late but there was no real problem. Until one evening, when he asked if I minded if he went out after dinner, to the local pub, just to do a bit of networking with some of the locals. No problem at all.

    Except, in hindsight, it occurred to me that I’d never spent the evening actually in the house on my own. I’d always played out until Dad came home, dinner was at seven and I had my ticker ticker Timex so I was never late, and in any case he probably thought it was much healthier than me sitting in and watching tv (yes we had one!).
    And the reason I hadn’t stayed in was because I didn’t really like the house. It was gloomy and very old, the walls were six feet thick with windows seats, there were creaky stairs and floorboards with threadbare rugs, and it felt somehow unfriendly…not homely or wholesome.

    So Pop left and I sat in front of the tv, with an open fire and full bucket of logs, with instructions to go to bed at ten (which I had no intention of doing – I’d sleep in the chair if he wasn’t home before I dozed off). That’s when life took a bit of a down turn at Glenton, when a baby started to cry upstairs. To be precise in the master bedroom, (when you’ve been in a house for even just a little while you know where the noises come from). To be absolutely precise, a toddler, not crying but sobbing “mummy”. My skin crawls now to think about it. The act of writing this requires me to be there again for a moment to remember it and write it accurately. There was nothing to suggest it, but there was something in the child’s cry that wasn’t a plea for it’s mother, quite the opposite, and it grew more plaintive and a little louder “mummy, mummmeee, mumeee”, perhaps I’m reading too much into it but I would swear that Mummy was the cause of it’s distress.

    I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t. But I do believe what I heard, I know it….and the only other thing I know is that whatever that was, I was not supposed to occupy the same time/space as it. It hit me like a physical blow. I wet myself, all of the air left my lungs and I panted, hair all over my body rose and trembled, and I started to cry.

    In films they go and investigate!!! I couldn’t, wouldn’t open the door, it would be louder out there in the hallway, and even if I did make it outside where would I go, and one thing I still remember clearly is - I was sure that if I did make it outside I would look up, and if I did and I saw something in the window, I would go instantly, utterly mad. So I did the only thing I could think off, I turned the tv up as loud as it would go, curled up in the chair and I waited…and waited…for the sound of the car pulling into the courtyard.

    When it did I turned down the volume, and it had gone, and when my Dad woke me up to say “it’s late, you should be in bed”, I just said “sorry” and waited for him so that we could brush our teeth together. I can’t believe he slept in that room.

    I never spent another moment alone in that house, at least not at night, and I spent as little time upstairs as possible.

    Eventually, Mum, Gran and my new little brother arrived too. My mother and grandmother hated the house, although it’s not something that we could ever discuss with my father – I don’t think he had a metaphysical bone in his body, he was utterly pragmatic and it would have annoyed him intensely to think that something “trivial” could spoil the new life we were carving out.

    My brother was growing up. I think he had an even harder time at school that I did, there no children of his age close to us and I didn’t provide much companionship for him so he led a pretty solitary life. He was maudlin little boy, focussed on something inside, probably unhappier than we knew at the time.

    Time goes on, and times got a little hard on the estate. Eventually times got so hard that they couldn’t afford my father any more and he found a good, well paid job – which was, unfortunately in Saudi Arabia.

    Just about now I’d gone AWOL from family life. I had a car and a bunch of friends, and there were parties and pubs and just my Mum and Gran at home by way of any discipline - and they had their hands full with my kid brother, because he was, a handful that is. (Somehow I can’t bring myself to blog my brother’s name, I hope you don’t mind).

    One particular day he’d wound my mother up to such an extent that she told him to get out of the house, go and find something to do even though it was cold and raining. He was twelve at the time.

    They found him eventually when they found his Wellington boot. He was above it in the tree, his scarf had snagged in one of the branches and he was hanging from it.

    There was an inquest, but no suggestion of suicide, or blame, and a simple verdict of accidental death.

    My family came apart at the seams. Secret shame, blame, accusation and guilt were every where, in every silence, in every conversation, in the shadows in the corners of rooms, in toys found under the settee, favourite cups and chairs and baby names for endless everyday things.

    He was effectively erased. As if he’d never lived, there was a single photo in the living room and an urn, all else was packaged away.

    My grandmother died soon after, my mother not long after that, and then my father who simply gave up the ghost a year later. I stood like a block of wood at each of the funerals, not because I didn’t care, far from it, but as if a switch had been thrown or a connection severed.

    So in the loft I have boxes. They are a small part of the jumble that my brother and I decided to keep from the wreckage. Amongst them there are photo’s, not just of my immediate family but old sepia prints of great uncles and aunts that I wanted to sit and sift through over a bottle of wine. I’d started to do that and it was okay, it was fascinating in fact until I came across a bundle of letters amongst the photo’s.

    It’s impossible to mistake the handwriting, they are from my mother to my father, and vice versa, there’s a whole correspondence there. Which is not a mystery in itself, what is most disturbing is that they were written while they were living together, not while he was working away. I want to open them and read what it was that they couldn’t bring themselves to say to each other…..but then again I don’t, not at all.
    I've been playing a game with the lady in the newsagent.

    Every day I buy a copy of the Telegraph, but the shop is a bit olde worlde, so I have to ask for it. This is how it goes:

    "Good morning", me.

    "Good Morning",

    "Telegraph please"


    "Yes please"

    "60p please"

    "Thanks, bye"


    Every day, without fail, a Telegraph and every day, when I ask for a Telegraph the reply is "Telegraph?".

    Please don't get me wrong, I know it's not the end of the world, but it's really started to wind me up now, so I've started to play, just to see what happens.

    I've been trying to throw a spanner into this well oiled machine:

    "Good morning", me.

    "Good Morning",

    "Telegraph please"


    "No, Guardian"

    "Guardian?", a little flustered,

    "No, Telegraph"

    "Ah, Telegraph?"

    "Yes please"

    "60p please", back on solid ground.....etc.

    I've substituted the Mail, the Times, the Independent, and once when I was feeling really cantankerous, went from the the Mirror, to the Express before we finally arrived back at my Telegraph - I was considering stretching it out even further with a Sun, but I thought I detected genuine panic and a little bit of bottom lip tremble.

    Why does she do this? Why is it necessary to repeat what I ask for? I've no idea.....but then again she seems completely oblivious to the game too, so she's probably telling her friends about the fuckwit customer who just can't make up his mind.

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    beware, goats

    Thanks Kat, Undercover, you're lovely...


    flippin's so depressing being back at work? Yesterday was my first day back and I spent almost all of it just catching up, but today I've slipped back into routine and already I can feel the monkey beginning to climb my back. The gimp had a day off yesterday too, but he was back this morning, posturing, talking nonsense and generally being his idiot self, he grinned at me earlier and it sent shivers down my spine. Of course it would help if I had any iota of work ethic, but I know exactly why I'm here, so I can afford to enjoy myself when I'm not.

    I picked up the lost boys from the kennels last night, and we had our usual re-union dance (which consists of them jumping in the air with slobbery kisses whilst peeing up my leg - but it's excited wee wee and I don't mind if they are that pleased to see me). There was a huge parting with money then leisurely stroll round a park to recover, and a swim in the duck pond(for them) followed by hot soapy showers all round....because they absolutely honk after three weeks, dinner and then general collapsing.

    Would it bore the socks off you if I moved on to North Dakota? It did me....

    Slowly but surely the trees began to thin. I'd begun to get tunnel vision by now, driving down the narrow ribbon of road that disappeared into the vanishing point on the wooded horizon. The landscape changed progressively into sunny glades between the trees, to open gently rolling countryside with occasional wooded knolls, to flat, farmed sun bleached cereal crops as far as the eye could see.

    Eventually I needed to pull over (to answer the call of nature) and took a few discreet steps into the corn (I think that's what it was, although I didn't meet any children in there). I did what men do when they are having a pee on there own in the countryside, I did a full 360, and then tried to see how high it would go, which meant looking up, and I swear I was stunned. It's not as if I've never seen the sky before, obviously, but I never realised there was so much of it. All of the skies I have ever seen have been limited, by some feature, buildings or even distant hills, but this sky stretched from the sun overhead to every single point of the horizon. It was quite stunning and made me feel strangely maudlin, and bizarrely a little afraid, of being out there on my own.

    Pretty soon I longed for a tree. This would be a place that the Daleks would enjoy enormously, I can imagine them careering around in corn fields (fields is too small a word - counties is probably nearer the mark), spelling their names, making alien patterns or writing "zingwat loves pirraxable" without any fear of coming unstuck on even a slight rise, let alone a large rock or even a ditch. There were signs of life, grain hoppers, and what appeared to be dwellings set far, far back from the road, but more often than not the only obvious tell-tale sign of human existence was a mail box at the end of a dusty drive leading back into a million acres of maize. And towns, about every 200 miles.

    This was encouraging as some of them had shops, and bars and even motels - and worrying at the same time, because non of them seemed to have any inhabitants, unless....unless those goats in the that field were were-goats who sat and ate complicated salads watching cable tv when there was a full moon over the prairie.

    I drove for a gazillion miles through sweet fanny adams. There was a point where I thought I should take a photo so that I could show people at home the extent of this extravagance of grain, rather than try to explain it. So I stopped the car again, in a place that seemed to be completely unbroken by any feature that disrupted the absolute symmetry of the view. It's only when you get out of the car that you realise it is oven hot outside, and quite high too, so the sun scorches bare skin immediately, It was strange but my skin didn't show any inclination to sweat, and I am a sweater given a chance, so it must be dry, as dry and arid as it looked. I walked a little way down a gravel drive with the camera, but as I looked around through the view finder it was obvious that it wouldn't work as a photo. It's not as if I'm a photographer, quite the opposite, I rarely take photo's mostly because I'm alone and views are so bloody boring, but this time I thought I ought to bring the camera. There was just nothing that would provide any perspective, all around there was just blue and yellow, blue and yellow, sun and corn. I wished I'd stopped earlier near the dusty old windmill.

    Can I say too that there is only so much country and western music that a man can take. It truly is music to cut your throat by, but there's bugger all else to listen to. There's a song, I should remember what it's called because I heard it ten times a day, but some internal self defence mechanism has saved me from using those synapses - about some poor bloody woman dying of an incurable disease. Her husband is singing it, lamenting the distance to the hospital and praying that the latest treatments and drugs available to medical science will save her - no doubt so that she can come home and look after their 32 children and do the washing up because they've used all of the crockery in the house.......I can hear a sub plot in my head, her side of the story, "oh piss off and leave me alone, I'd rather pop my clogs than spend another day in the wilderness with you and your devil spawn, my darling, shit boring husband"

    Eventually, in the dark, (what a sunset by the way), I found a Motel.....I'd had the good sense to buy some snacks to go with my beer this time. And I found the local bar and got a real good beer buzz going, and found company too for the first time in three days. He was made entirely out of leather, sitting on a bar stool and alternately drinking and spitting on the floor. I ordered a beer and sat down leaving a free stool between us, and after a decent pause he looked at me from under his hat with the eye of an ancient lizard and growled......"yer not from these parts are you buddy?", which although I didn't realise it at the time would be my conversational opener for the next 3 weeks.

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    beer and trees

    it’s quite big isn’t it? the United States that is. I mean I new this, but it’s a matter of perspective, maps don’t really convey the size and distance in a way that you can properly appreciate (who really looks at the scale). The map I have of the States has all of the main roads of the USA on two pages – and individual states on separate pages, and now when I think about it I have also have a map of the UK, that is on the same scale as the individual states…..which should have given me a clue.

    But, you live and learn. So I barrelled down out of Canada and into Wisconsin, full of beans and raring to go. Tomorrow I’d be half way to Oregon! After all it was only 6 inches on the map. My god I’ve never seen so many trees, I will never, ever worry again about de-forestation. Wisconsin alone will keep the earth in oxygen for eternity. In fact I’m surprised there isn’t a surfeit there and the whole state doesn’t spontaneously combust. I’d opted to stay off the interstates too as I wanted to “see” places rather than just drive on by them. I saw, trees, oh and bushes, and trees, and road kill (though what on earth killed it I’ve no idea – from the lack of other traffic on the road that ‘coon must have been desperately unlucky or very, very stupid), and trees, and not a single soul, unless they were behind the trees – on the more detailed map, there were place names which I presumed were towns, but somebody had obviously decided to name gas stations.

    With the air conditioning off, I breathed in the rich, clean air, lightly fragranced with pine…which was slightly alarming too, in it’s way, as my lungs are used to London air, thick stuff that your lungs can get a grip on. So I found myself comfort, chain-smoking.

    The landmark, named gas stations passed with alarming irregularity, I had the same sensation that you get when you wake up after a sleep on a long haul flight and see that the cartoon aircraft on the screen has only moved 3 inches. It seemed so unfair, Wisconsin was huge and only 6 people lived there.

    So suddenly that I nearly missed it, I passed a sign that said “Welcome to Minnesota”. Huzzah!! Not that I have anything against Wisconsin you understand but I was beginning to worry that I had mistakenly managed to pull on to a huge circular road.

    And nothing changed. The sign may as well have said “Welcome to Wisconsin part II”.

    After 12 hours solid driving I took a 50 mile detour to get to a town that was definitely a “town” and not just another gas station (it had a little red blob attached to the name”. And sure enough, there was a lot more there, there was a church, a shop, and several houses…and a sign at the far end promised a lodge in another 15 miles.

    It turned out to be a huntin’ n fishin’ kind of place down a dirt track off the main road. I’m not sure what the problem was, but the chap who (eventually arrived in reception after much bell ringing and helloooing) couldn’t seem to see me properly. He kept squinting at me as if I were made of smoke, nodding his head and shifting from side to side. It took approximately an hour to complete the business of getting me a shack half a mile from the main reception.

    I’d been stupid enough not to shop, except for a pack of beer I’d bought at one of the gas stations so I spent the evening, on the step of my shack sipping beer and looking at the stars. It was wonderful, when it went dark, it really went "dark" in a way that it never does in the town, and the only thing that obstructed a wonderful view of the early evening constellations was, you guessed it, the trees. Unfortunaltely I found out in the morning that even if I missed out on supper I had unwittingly providing the evening meal for hundreds of local midges. Bliss.

    Now there’s a thing I don’t fully understand. Various broadcasters had been warning me all day long, via the glory of local radio, that drinking and driving was a very naughty thing to do, and if I was caught, then I would be hung by the testicles from one of any number of trees by the road as a warning to other potential offenders. But the only place that I’d seen beer on sale was in the gas station….”fill her up and I’ll take a six pack of Bud please, of course I won’t drink it as I’m going along, I don’t have time to consider anything other than how fucking entertaining these trees are, there all different sizes you see”.

    Just before I went to bed I looked at the map again, which by now had become a thoroughly depressing affair. By my calculations I would reach North Dakota some time in the fall, but I was quite looking forward to it, I thought I’d read somewhere that it wasn’t big on trees.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    laundry and other crap jobs

    oh o, I'm home, and I hate it.

    You know those people who stack shelves in Woolworth, who win the lottery and then say "it won't change my life", and you think.....well, can I have the money then? I feel the same way about people who come home from holiday and say "I've had a great time but I'm ready to go home now, I'm really looking forward to a nice cup of tea".

    The wedding was fantastic, the setting on the French River in Ontario was just breathtaking and the mixture of people, boarding school Britain meets the wonderful world of Noelville got on famously - mainly due to the copious amounts of alcohol and strange local, relaxing, herbal remedies.

    I'm doing the laundry now. I got home too late to pick up the pooches, so thay get another day's holiday. All in all I managed to clock up 6000 miles, from Toronto, down and across, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, down into Wyoming, eventually to Oregon and then back, lower, through Colorado and Nebraska, to Ohio, and eventually back to Ontario via Penn and New York. A considerable portion of my arse is now part of the car.

    I want to go back, and meet more and more weirdo's , odd-balls, four legged furry friends that I can't put a name to and an out doors where the sky goes on forever.

    I'm going to open a bottle of wine, the last thing I want at the moment is a cup of tea.

    there may be some photos here, sore bum