Thursday, October 27, 2005

I can sing a rainbow

‘tis my blog so I can bend the rules. “thou shalt not write when thy is triped”, is, I’m afraid, out of the window for tonight. (Although I’m setting off optimistically expecting that I will be able to able to glue this to my blog later).

Anyway, I’ve just had a very ambiguous time, banging off the walls and making cheese on toast that now seems to be made of plasticine, and oddly trying to fold my suit trousers into a neat pile instead of hanging them up….

I don’t know whether this job found me, or I found it, but it’s an unhealthy relationship, like putting Herrod in charge of Mothercare. Just about now I feel like I have something very important to say but I’m trying to articulate it with a head full off mashed potato.

It’s got something to do with connections. Not opposites, I don’t believe in opposites. But I feel again like I’m close to a breakthrough, a moment of clarity, it has something to do with relative levels of hope and disappointment, of guarding and shutting doors and making sure the lights are off, of protection and no investment, of staying within and not straying without, because it’s warm out there and cold in equal measure and…..and of course because I’m drunk. Again. Corporately rat arsed and trying to feed the dogs (here, you have the plasticine on toast I don’t want it). Singing loudly in a field in the dark in my suit, I feel good, and looking up and then sitting suddenly in the mud.

So that’s okay then, clear as dishwater, I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Oh, I wore brown shoes to the City today, and I think they’ve cost me the client despite my bar skills.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

a clean sheet

My bed is King sized. It’s official. Fact.

Another fact that I learnt tonight is that of all the mattresses in all the world, the one that I desired had to be the most expensive, hundreds of £’s worth of springs and material. Despite the fact that I turn out looking like an extra from Oliver, I appear to have expensive taste. I’m surrounded by the best of everything that I simply can’t afford.

Bear in mind that this was a whim anyway, I’d convinced myself that a new mattress was a good idea, it’s not as if the existing one had started to talk to me or ran off with the wardrobe. So I stood there with that strange mixture of excitement and fear that imbues one when you are about to embark on the adventure of spending a lot of money needlessly….and took one more lap of the shop to make absolutely sure I would do the deed. And in the corner I found mattress pads, guaranteed to transform even the shoddiest, moth eaten bag full of spanners into a blissful nights sleep, at a fraction of the cost of a new mattress. Pasteur must have felt the same way when he discovered penicillin, though probably less smug.

So I’ve treated myself, new pillows, new sheets and duvet cover, and tall thick church candles to read by. I’ve just come home from walking the dogs, it’s 10.30, and I’m excited like a big girl’s blouse at the thought of tucking up in a ‘brand new bed’.

And it’s strange isn’t it, that in a way that’s a meaning of life, it doesn’t matter what a drudge the majority of it is, the key is having something to look forward to. (The only thing that could make it better tonight would be to share the soft cool newness).

I keep looking at Milady’s blog to see if there’s any news.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday with the zoo

I was going to buy a new mattress at the weekend, but I was lazy and didn’t get around to it.

So I set off for ye olde bedde shoppe tonight full of purpose and resolve. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was, to find out that they were very well endowed in the mattress department. If they’d had a selection of three mattresses I would have been perfectly fine, but there appeared to be hundreds of them. It’s intimidating isn’t it? Because you don’t want to be seen making eyes at the budget, wouldn’t be seen dead in a prison cell or a hotel in Margate mattress, and by the same token, don’t want to pay over the odds for the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow version. So I made a token gesture of sitting on a few beds, wearing the same face I do in the supermarket when I try to look as if I really do know my avocados.

One of the assistants took pity on me after a while and came over: “Can I help you?” she said. “I’d like to buy a mattress” I replied confidently. “What size?” she asked, “Double” I said, (I really had the trick of this mattress buying malarkey). “King or Queen?”………”I’ll see you tomorrow” I said and slunk off.

So, full of mattress loss, a kind of ‘presque mattress’ I went home and took the dogs to the park.

It’s quite dark for our evening walks now, and it was later tonight so it was quite, quite dark, although in London it never goes entirely pitch even at the dead of night because the sky is suffused with a rosy glow of house and street lights. In one corner of the park there’s a pathway that cuts through, between overhanging trees, from some rather nice houses. There’s a solitary lamp at the park entrance to the pathway and at night it always reminds me of the entrance to Narnia.

Tonight another person was walking a dog in the opposite direction and it was obvious we would meet under the lamp light if we both carried on at the same pace. There’s a protocol here, if the other person hesitates or calls their dog then there’s every chance that they don’t trust their pooch or yours to behave, and it’s as well to detour or delay. But we both walked confidently on, and met under the pool of light.

Under the pool of light, I exchanged “good evenings” with a rather well to do, tweedy and expensive wellie boots looking lady who I supposed lived in one of the big houses down the path. She had an immaculately groomed King Charles spaniel with her, who sat down 6 feet behind her as soon as she stopped. “Dreadful weather isn’t it” she said. “Yes, awful” I offered, “and very dark too”. We exchanged a few more pleasantries about the weather when Toffee plonked himself down at her feet. He was right in front of her and looked up with his best winning gurn, “Oh he’s a dahling” she said and played with his ear…”we very nearly had a Springer, but decided on William instead, they’re just much better house pets, you know?”. I looked at Charlie who was weighing up the, well behaved, perfectly groomed poppet “what the f#ck have you come dressed as, and you’d better not do any weeing around here without asking me first”..

…she was saying something else, about how she hated the way that they cut back the trees at this time of year. And she looked down at Toffee again, “you are a good boy aren’t you?”

Toffee was looking back at her with his big brown solemn eyes, which had begun to cross, and when his tongue rolled out to one side I suddenly wished we were elsewhere. For a dog Toffee has quite a range of facial expressions and I’ve become used to reading most of them, the placid dopey looking expression on his face that she was observing at that moment was a certain precursor of something far more unpleasant going on at the other end.

“That’s luvvly”, “Keep playing wiv me ear missus….I’ve got a four pounder in the bomb bay and the doors are openin’”

“Ere we go, bombs away” and he shuffled forward into her hand.

She looked down and finally realised what was happing. Toffee smiled back at her from the wrong end of a foot of brown cable.

“Oh dear” she said, “oh dear, oh dear”….”William come along”

And as I fumbled around for a baggy in my pocket I almost, very nearly, apologised.

And then I thought, what the hell, he’s a dog for goodness sake, so instead I pointed at the offending turd and looked at her, and then at Toffee and said, “that’s a corker!!”

“Good boy!!”

Thursday, October 20, 2005


If you’re travelling abroad you will find that dogs can survive for a maximum of 3 days wrapped in silver foil and tucked into a wardrobe before they start to go off.

Happily mine enjoy a stay at the kennels.

S’funny, but I still forget things when I travel, I always seem to pack in a rush. There are certain bare essentials without which an Englishman abroad is simply lost. Dark socks, a toothbrush and an umbrella, (next on the list is a hipflask, but a sample bottle of good whisky hidden on one’s person will do at a pinch). Yours truly came very close to having his passport rescinded this week when he found himself ‘brolly less on a water taxi in the pouring rain in Amsterdam. There’s no excuse, bang goes my career in the diplomatic core.

I’ve always regarded myself as very lucky to have the opportunity to travel with most of the twists and turns that my career has taken. There’s plenty of opportunity now as a great deal of time is taken up visiting and “entertaining” clients, these days in places that you’d regard as legitimate business centres – which has not always been the case in the past.

There was a time that I used to keep my head down in the office when the next ‘destination’ was mooted. I was working with a company that outfitted hospital Intensive Care Units and Operating Theatres, and I would stay with the nursing staff, for weeks if necessary, to make sure that they understood how to operate all of the equipment. (The first time I did this I evaporated in a dead faint during a hip operation in St Thomas’s in London).

After a little while I was convinced that I was being chosen for some of these assignments on the basis that I was the ‘least valuable player’, a “who can we afford to lose” basis. It wasn’t so much the work as the location. I’ve spent weeks at a time trying to make myself understood to nursing staff in St Petersburg, Belfast, Jerusalem and Dundee (Dundee was by far the most difficult – and the hardest place to stay out of trouble in the evenings too).

And then when one day somebody mentioned Beirut, I just new it had my name on it. It must have been an absolutely beautiful place, perhaps it is again now. The Lebanon is a strip of land trapped between the mountains and the sea. Once a resort of the rich and famous, when I arrived the centre of the city looked as if a meteor had landed there. My cab brought me to the hotel at night, so it wasn’t until the morning when I stepped out on to the balcony that you could truly appreciate the extent of the damage. The hotel was on a square, on one side of a small ‘green’ (dust bowl), four tanks were parked there, three under tarpaulins, one uncovered. There were literally chunks of masonry missing from all of the buildings in site, it wasn’t so much a scene of dilapidation as of destruction, very immediate damage on a large scale. The stone balustrade of my balcony was chipped and scored, and when I turned back to go into the room it became obvious why, several strings of pock marks on the stucco wall were all to real evidence of gunfire in the not too distant past.

In fact the ‘violence’ had ended, Beirut was catching it’s breath after – what was it – 15 years of war? It wasn’t being rebuilt at that time, but consolidated, the people who lived there were testing the boundaries of previous ‘no go areas’. The hospital where I spent the next month was run, staffed and financed by nuns (except for the male doctors and surgeons). The ambulances arrived there with patients who weren’t accepted by other hospitals in the city according to their religious or ethnic prerogative – the nuns simply treated anyone that arrived.

The administrator of the hospital was a local man, he was a figurehead I think, required to legitimise their work – he was necessary to negotiate on their behalf with the Christian militia and their muslim counterparts who co-owned and ran Beirut at the time, who guaranteed the hospital safe passage to carry on it’s work.

For some reason he befriended me and wanted to show me his Beirut. It was one of the oddest times I’ve known. There were still night clubs and restaurants and drinking clubs (most of the intact ones were in basements). I’d be woken up with a telephone call in my hotel room at 1 a.m. to a “it is I Colin, I am the lobby, we go out!”, not a request but an order, issued in his best gravelly Hollywood henchman voice. Of course I went. After a while I began to suspect that his role at the hospital was a front for a more sinister position in the Lebanese Mafia. By the time I arrived downstairs he’d be sitting in the back of the limousine parked outside the hotel, as I came out of the door the window would wind down and an arm would beckon in a cloud of cigar smoke “hurry, we go!”.

And off we went, I remember one night in particular, down a set of stone stairs that opened in to a room so thick with cigarette smoke that it was like fog. It was a belly dancing club, absolutely packed with men in dark suits and the biggest bugger grips (side burns) I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a seat in sight, hardly any floor in fact, but my friend spoke to the ‘gentlemen’ at the door, some dollars changed hands and almost instantly a group of men at a table by the stage were invited to vacate their seats with a few gentle shakes of the throat. We sat down, I’m sure he teased me. “you want girls to sit with us?” he said, shaking some more currency, and I was completely embarrassed when they did.

It was quite usual to get back to the hotel at five o’clock in the morning, we’d speed through the streets avoiding concrete and the occasional car (it truly amazed me that people who had survived 15 years of armed conflict drove like drugged up lemmings racing towards the cliff edge). Except for one night when several, almost clad in uniform, men stepped out from the street corner and aimed automatic rifles at the car (I think that’s what they were, I can’t be sure, but they had barrels and stocks and triggers and looked like they would shoot bullets and not peas or water). We stopped and they quizzed the driver and my host and then me, I had the opportunity to look right into the penny round black hole at the end of one of those barrels and hope that the owner of the other end didn’t sneeze of hiccough or suddenly slip off the curb. He asked me questions which I didn’t understand, and when my companion tried to help the barrel swung his way so he was quiet. In the end my friend asked me for my passport, it was mandatory to carry it, and handed it over. The man with gun passed it back to another who made a play of reading it by the light of a brazier in a shop door alcove where they must have stood when they saw the car coming…he shook his head and pocketed my documents.

We were waved on and drove off into the night. I was horrified, I’d grown up in the country so I knew (shot)guns, but I’d never been introduced to the working end of one before, and while everyone I’d met had been friendly enough I certainly didn’t want to spend any time here without proof of identity. The thought of spending time in a cell terrified me. My host shrugged in a universal c’est la vie gesture “shit happens, no?”.

He explained over a coffee and brandy in the hotel, (this man was a walking dollar shaking conjuror), that the militia had taken my passport, they would hold it ransom for maybe $250 (he’d offered $50 in the car), he would send someone to fetch it tomorrow.

The thing that I’ve always found about business travel is that it is so frustrating, you get to visit wonderful, strange exotic places, and all you ever get to see is the inside of someone’s office and your hotel?

(A few weeks after I came back from Beirut, there was a whisper that operating theatres in Johannesburg were nearly finished – well not Johannesburg proper, but Soweto, Baragwaneth hospital. I went and hid in the loo…but they found me)

Monday, October 17, 2005

leaping and gurning

I’ve been shopping, and I’m going to see a friend in hospital. I hate hospitals, it’s the smell – and that’s ironic really, because for years I used to work for a company that outfitted intensive care units and operating theatres. I’d work with the staff after the installations to make sure that they knew what all the buttons did.

I’m afraid I enjoyed the weekend rather too well, I should have shopped but didn’t. Which is fine for me, I can get by on chick peas on toast, but it’s an indicator of poor parenting skills when your dogs have to breakfast on cornflakes and gravy! (Don’t feed your dogs cornflakes – it’s LOUD, and certainly don’t mix them with gravy unless you want to spend 15 minutes scraping brown sticky shrapnel off your walls).

So tonight we walked to the light of an enormous brass coloured moon. A sparkle of coloured lights reminded us of what time of year it is. We do celebrate Hallowe’en, All Hallows, (Walpurgis nicht), but we are also very big on bonfire night – or Guy Fawkes night. A strange celebration at face value, setting off fireworks and burning a “Guy” on a bonfire to demonstrate I suppose what the sky over Kensington might have looked like if our anti-hero had actually managed to light the blue touch paper on the barrels of gunpowder hidden in the Houses of Parliament.

Don’t get me wrong, I like bonfire night. I enjoy the fireworks and the treacle toffee and the bonfire itself – there’s nothing like a good “bonnie” tightening the skin on your face while you try to pick a cremated potato out of the embers with a bent stick.

Except that it’s not just one night. The fireworks are on sale, and even though they are not supposed to be sold to kids under 16, kids are resourceful, I know I was. So every night for the next month we will be subject to rockets and screamers and air bombs and all manner of sky bound artillery – and Charlie will dehydrate.

While Toffee is chasing tardy crows into trees, Charlie will be walking by my side. There’s a flash of light in the sky, just a moment before the crack of firework thunder – and Charlie who is 10 inches tall will suddenly appear eyeball to eyeball with me, on the end of a jet of urine, before plopping back down to the ground. I’ve seen him perform this trick eight times in a row when some fiend has set off a complicated multi layered firework.

I’m very happy that light and noise travel at different speeds. I use the fraction of a second between the flash and the bang to move slightly to one side so that I don’t come home covered in wee wee pinstripes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

the best laid plans

I have some wonderful news. If you remember I was expecting a visitor this weekend? The guys have done me proud, dusted, hunted under the bed for hidden sausages and cowered in the corner while I hoovered and dusted the whole house. Special commendation to Charlie who went completely limp when I used him to sweeep the cobwebs out of the corners of the living room ceiling.

And the good news is that the young lady who became separated at Gatwick airport was not abandoned after all. Her parents, who flew on to Germany, had made arrangements for her to be picked up by relatives so that she might stay in the UK. These arrangements included going through customs and passport checks instead of simply moving through the transit lounge, and depositing thier 8 year old daughter on a seat in the arrivals lounge. They left her with a photo of her uncle (in case her uncle failed to recognise her - there must be lots of 8 year old Indoneian girls sitting alone on chairs in Gatwick airport) and a smattering of schoolroom English. Her parents then checked in again and flew to Frankfurt.

Somehow this well laid plan went awry, and the airport police discovered the poor mite before she was collected by her uncle. (It beggars belief, I am so angry that my eyes hurt), but there is a happy ending. The uncle in question had the decency to declare himself and they have been united. So a happy ending thank goodness, I can't close my eyes without thinking about what might have happened to her...

So we are at a loose end. I feel hollow, I don't know what to do. It's Friday night, so we'll break the bed down, and put the crayons back on the shelf....and thank goodness we kept all the dust!! Come on guys let's put the dust back, that'll keep us occupied for a while.

"Charlie, Charlie, where are you slinking off to..."

(I know that being angry is equal to being selfish...but I can't believe that fucking blogging about it is the only thing I can do!!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

on the laying of ghosts - part the something or other

My family had lots of sayings, daft things, I guess every family does. When my mother was surprised she’d say “well I’ll go to the foot of stairs”, or if she was flustered “Jean, take your woolly hat off” to herself.

I once heard my grandmother say, “argle bargle morble whoosh”, but I don’t think she had her teeth in at the time.

But my Dad was an absolute genius for the bon mot, the apt phrase, sage sounding advice that had no basis in fact. One of favourites was, “it’s only the things that you don’t do that you regret”. It’s a classic, it sounds profound, a universal truth, words of wisdom uttered by a guru and gained by years of devotion and painful, aesthetic experience…but, it’s actually a lot of toss as most of us can testify. (From personal experience I regret trying to discover which one of the three was the live wire by touching them in turn with a bare finger, I regret jumping over the sea wall and not checking to see that the distance to the wet sand below was actually 25 feet (etc.)….had I not done these, then I would not have regretted them).

Anyway, that’s probably neither here nor there.

I finally found a girl who let me, and 6 weeks later she said that we were going to have a baby.

We met through friends, she was a remarkable looking girl, quirky but beautiful and full of fun. When we’d go out she’d always be the centre of attention, always on the dance floor, and constantly being chatted up by other guys, I didn’t think I stood a chance. (If you’ve read any of the earlier chapters of this tedious saga, you will remember that I was at University at this time, "washing" my clothes in Johnson’s baby talc and stealing fruit so that I could afford to spend my entire grant in the pub).

During the summer my friend and I managed to get jobs in the local nail factory, yes really. As many hours as we wanted to work, and not a penny in tax. It was heaven and hell. I’d never had so much money in my life, we were rich beyond all sense or reason and proceeded to try to drink every penny of it. Except that every morning we paid the price, I’ve sat and cried in cranial agony amongst mounds of cardboard boxes whilst an army of machines yelled BANG!! and cut the wire, KARAANG!!!, and made the point of the nail “TAKETHATFUCKINGCRASH”!!!!! slamming a flat head on the other end.

We’d be out every single night of the week. I think we were fun to be around and generous with our money so popular too and became regulars and gained a little notoriety in the local clubs for being the only there in the wee small hours on a mid week night. We were drowning in our salad days. Now the young lady who was the object of our desires became a regular stopper outer with us, we hang out together a small hard core group within a larger group of friends. Her parents had already retired and had a caravanette which they’d take on extended road trips around Britain, and the next time they did she asked my friend and me to move in.

And nothing happened, it was great fun. We went out, we came home eventually, and my friend and I took a lot of aspirin in the morning and went to work. Until one evening where we’d blown our bolt too early in the week, and found ourselves on the Thursday before pay day with just enough between us to buy a bag of pork scratchings. My friend, true to his life’s mission, took the money and went to the pub to buy a bag of pork scratchings and to try to scrounge a pint.

My reward for staying in with the young lady was to be led by the hand, without preamble or fuss, to the bedroom to lose my virginity. I was 20.

I thought it was incredible though I expect the best thing about it for her was that it was mercifully brief.

After that I followed her round like a puppy. I had no idea what she saw in me and at the time it wasn’t a question that concerned me, I was completely utterly in lust with her. She was the fountain of all carnal knowledge, she had only to lean forward and let me peep down her blouse, or touch my thigh with a finger and I would have agreed to eat a Manchester tram for her. She 'let me' you see, and would let me again from time to time, just enough to keep me on a short leash.

She worked in a bank and I was suddenly, although temporarily, rich. We had a very good time, I didn’t even mind if she would wake me up in restaurants by hitting me over the head with her shoe like Nately’s whore.

But all good things come to an end, her parents came home from their annual pilgrimage infuriating the other road users in Cornwall and I had to go back to my digs at Uni. Which is when she announced that she was pregnant. She told her parents and then me. Her mother actually seemed to be quite pleased, and I don’t think that it really sank in with her father, he was hard of hearing and had been disconcertingly calling me “Molly” ever since we had been introduced. For my part I wasn’t upset at all, and quite happy to do the decent thing, accept my responsibility and get married if she’d have me. I suggested that she came back to Manchester with me, in the house I shared with 3 friends at first while we looked for a place of our own. Her mother suggested she stayed at home, just for the moment, which she appeared happy to do and seemed to be for the best all round.

And so it went. We had a baby boy. He was born on Christmas eve’ at a few minutes past eleven and I remember running into the church by the hospital and disturbing the Christmas service…”it’s a boy, it’s a boy!”, and one of the ushers saying “yes, he’s called Jesus now bloody well shut up”. And still she stayed at home. We spent some of the holiday with her parents and some with mine, and all the while after the baby was born there was a growing coolness towards me that I thought may be a perfectly natural side effect of motherhood.

I went back to University in the new year, (everyone seemed to think it was a good idea for me to finish the course) and left my “family” once again with her family. It was four months into the year when she arrived at the house, in a car with a girl friend I’d never met before and announced very calmly that she was leaving. Which was complete gobbledigook to me at the time, she was standing there at the door, passing the baby to me and explaining that she didn’t want to be at home anymore, and didn’t want to leave the baby with her parents because they were getting on now, and she certainly couldn’t take the baby with her. And I stood there and nodded gormlessly and finally understood what he’d said to me long after the door had shut.

John was the only one of my housemates at home that day, and I gave him the baby to hold while I went to call #####’s parents. (He calmly tucked the baby in the crook of one arm, he was part of a very large family, so big I think some of them used to sleep in kitchen drawers).

“Hello Mrs ######”
“Hello deary”
“Is ##### there?”
“Oh no, deary she’s left”
“did she say when she’d be back”
“no, I mean she’s left home, she said she’d let us know she arrived safely”
“did you know she’d left the baby with me”
“yes dear, she said she would”
“do you know that he world has just been invaded by gigantic mutant jelly babies?”
“pardon dear”
“never mind”.

Have you ever seen ‘3 men and a baby’. Well it was absolutely nothing like that whatsoever. It was absolute bloody chaos, we had a council round the kitchen table. I had imagined that we could all muck in, in fact it was all I could do to convince them to let me stay! It was going to inconvenient for everyone to have a baby in the house! Damn right, we it might wake them out of a drunken stupor one night and it would require a modicum of cleanliness, who knows possibly take up a bit of fridge space.

I spent the next 5 months on a huge learning curve and remarkably little sleep. I learnt how to make bottles, burp, pack the necessaries for a day out, choose an appropriate outfit, bathe dry and anoint in scented oils (thank you mum for being on the other end of the phone at 3am) and beg and plead with friends to help out while I went to lectures. To be honest I’d chosen to go to University as an easy method of leaving home, I knew I wanted to be in Manchester, but I (literally) stuck a pin in the prospectus to choose a course. It had landed on Civil Engineering and what I’d learned about dynamics and soil mechanics you could have written with a marker pen on the back of a very tiny frog – so I can’t claim that my studies were affected.

Although my concentration levels definitely were. There’s nothing like a 3am feed and a stroll round the deserted streets of Salford with a buggy to make you feel tired, and nothing quite so debilitating as being woken up again two hours later.

Though it has it’s compensations? I do have one perfect memory of waking up in the early morning, I must have fed pudding in the early hours and drifted off before I’d finished changing him. I was flat on my back, and he was flat out on me on, nuddy baby with his chin on my shoulder and fast asleep. He looked tiny, peaceful and very beautiful…and the moment was only spoiled slightly by discovering that he had pood on us again during the night.

And just as we were getting into a rhythm, she arrived back into our lives as abruptly as she had left. This time she was accompanied with another man, who again I didn’t recognise, and she described matter of factly that he was the father of our baby and not me and terribly sorry but she would have said earlier but “you know”, and they were in love, and she was pregnant again (!), and they wanted to get married and could we just pack up his things now and they’d be gone.

And they were, and that was the last time I ever saw him, and I was a Dad, just for a bit.

I’ve heard from mutual friends that they are still together and the “pudster” is a big strapping healthy lad and the eldest brother of five children, which is nice.


And, please - if you were thinking of saying something, before you do - I regard this as a very, very happy memory.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

how lucky am I

There’s a hockey stick standing in a plant pot in the corner of the living room.

In the room next door is a set of golf clubs that I use once a year, looking forlorn and dusty in the corner.

In my bedroom there’s an electric drill in my underwear drawer, under the bed, amongst other things, lurk an empty fish tank, an old shoe box with sepia prints, and a complete set of Beano Annuals, (up to 1982).

In the other bedroom there’s an armchair made entirely out of books with a used-to-be-dark-blue, tatty throw over it.

If you open the cutlery drawer in the kitchen you’ll find, fuse wire, batteries, knitting needles(!?) , 10 different sewing kits compliments of various hotels, incense sticks, sticky tape, a small stuffed walrus, match boxes, nuts and bolts, the instructions for the video recorder and an eccentric looking tool that looks like it was designed by Mary Shelley to remove the bolt from her monster’s neck – but is really the special tool EX#01/675/Epb, and should be used to withdraw the crankshaft of late model Yamaha R1’s.

In the fridge there’s a stone bottle of Genevre, and a salad that has become a liquid.

There are cd’s in the bathroom, but nothing to play them on, and a blue ring pregnancy tester in the bathroom cabinet, despite never having shared this space with anyone else(!).

There are wine corks on the hearth, and wooden ducks sailing serenely in circles suspended in a maze of cobwebs from the ceiling.

In the corner of a huge, ancient mirror, there’s a tiny photograph of a single red leaf, as if it were a suitable frame.

I’ve got some tidying up to do.

I had a phone call in the office earlier today, and my sponsor asked me if I might consider looking after a little Indonesian girl who had become ‘separated’ (don’t even go there) from her parents in transit. Just for a few days.

So I’ve been out this evening, to be introduced and try not to frighten the poor mite.

So come on chaps, make yourself useful, into the corners and wag your tails, dust you buggers dust – we’ve got company.

dog songs

damn right, thank you everyone, crawl out from up your bottom Colin and listen to the boys!!

what is it Charlie,
I don't know,
let's wee on it

a leaf or a stone
some other dogs bone
we'll wee on it

you've missed a bit
I'm having a sh#t !
well I'll wee on it

any old stuff
let's wee on it

wee on it!!

(in a really growly voice)

Monday, October 10, 2005

whisky in a jar

Here’s an odd thing (or maybe not). I’ve never actually fallen out of love. You have to take a leap of faith with me here and assume that I know what being “in love” is in the first place. I’m not going to try to explain or describe it, the Oxford English Dictionary is a bit woolly on the subject, there’s no clinical explanation in the Lancet, and I don’t trust Byron, he did a lot of drugs…but that feeling where you go to sleep at night, and wake up in the morning, and when you wake up in the morning your first thought is the same thought as the last thought you had when you drifted off to sleep. That person.

I’ve been in love twice, and I’ve been soooo lucky. I have spent time with two people who have enriched my life incredibly. It’s a learning process after all, of course you find out about the other, but at the same time you find out so much more about yourself, because what is love if it’s not a place where, at last, you can lower your defences, be yourself, take chances?

So, I’ve been incredibly lucky. To have met two, completely different, wonderful people who chose to spend time with me. They left for their own reasons, neither acrimonious, no recriminations or angry words, but we parted when it was time for them to go. And I’ve never fallen out of love. Please don’t misunderstand, this isn’t a dopey, dewy eyed, pink spectacled look down memory lane, nor a wish them back kind of feeling, as far as I understand it they’ve both moved on with their lives and are in happy loving relationships. I don’t wish them back, we had our time, there are no regrets, I just feel something for them that you can distil and separate from the physical, from the needy things and know that the best bits still remain. I don’t hold a candle, but I’m improved, better for having known them? Does that make any sense at all?

Which is why I wish I’d never met that bloody old hag.

To this day it preys on my mind. It’s so stupid but it clicks and rolls like a like a loose penny in the spin dryer of my mind.

We’ve always enjoyed New Year. As long as I can remember it’s been an opportunity to come to together as friends, a huge revolving feast of friends and have a good time. Christmas is for the kids, New year is a time where we have filled holiday cottages with fun and laughter and our own silly traditions. We originally used to New Year in Scotland when my parents were alive, and then later in Snowdonia in North Wales and in recent years in different places each year, from the Dorset coast to Dartmoor. All we need is a place that will house about 20 people and we can provide the rest. (Always someone there at 3am, always someone there in the kitchen, always queues for breakfast, snorers and walkers, fireplaces and a glass of whisky, chilly red noses and dirty wellingtons).

One particular New Year we had a very remote cottage in Wales. Actually a cottage and a converted barn. It was one of the most joyful times I can remember, three little girls, my nice and my friend's two little girls all under the age of six went on “midnight rambles” (of course it was only 8pm but it was pitch black!). We sat in the moonlight on a little humpty back bridge, with the lights of the cottage behind us and howled at the moon…I thought it was a good idea, a la 101 dalmations (?) to see if the dog telegraph might work, and it did!! First of all on a farm to our left some sheep dog picked up our message, and then another further down the valley and relayed it and then another, and another…and there we were, sitting on the bridge and laughing and howling and waiting for a reply with tears of laughter running down our cheeks.

Which has nothing to do with anything at all, except I remember it vividly and it makes me smile.

And one day that week we set off on the great expedition in search of snow, with our sledges and woolly hats and mittens. It had snowed on the mountains but we were in the valley below, so despite the fact that we’d brought enough provisions to feed an invading army for a winter campaign we climbed in the cars and set off. It was a great day as far as I can remember, we did find snow and messed around, and got very very wet. Which is why we stopped in the pub on the way back - just one drink and a quick thaw out, (of course that wasn’t the reason at all, it doesn’t matter that you have enough booze to sink a liner back at the house, there’s nothing like a pint in the pub over an open fire). So we all decanted into the village pub. It was tiny, we immediately quadrupled the number of people in there and the landlord didn’t mind the children at all, (he probably thought he could have the night off if we bought just a couple of rounds).

We were laughing and joking, I think trying to involve the kids in a game of Chinese whispers, when my nemesis, the object of this little box of brittle bones announced herself.

You’ve heard all of the descriptions, “wizened old hag”, comes nowhere near, she was children’s story come to life a witch, dressed in maroons and dun browns, layered and bent, be-warted, be-stubbled and skinned like an ancient oak.

She tottered through the room which was quite crowded now and picked up her drink from the bar, it looked like a large dark rum and began to circulate. She laid gnarly hands on the shoulders of my seated friends, and they bought her drinks, she showed them old pennies and pieces of rock with bright gold seams that she retrieved from invisible pockets in her may layers. She tousled the children’s hair, and there was a sparkle to her eye. She wasn’t scary or threatening, but she was somehow a figure to be reckoned with.

I was sitting with my niece, near the fire spinning coins on the table when she found us. She hovered a hand over the table, my god it was old, etched with lines, dark and mottled, and when the coins had stopped she snatched one up and looked at it…she gave it back to my niece with another penny for good luck. Helen wasn’t fazed at all, our witch did it all with such aplomb that it was like watching a conjuror at work.

She played with Helen’s hair and told her what a beautiful little girl she was, which pleased Helen immensely, and then turned to talk to me.

I swear she took a step back. She looked at me, in fact she stared at me, straight in the eye and hissed (hissed, I swear it). Her eyes were tiny blue discs, inside larger mottled brown irises, just a point of black for a pupil which seemed to grow, even smaller as she looked at me. It was very uncomfortable and very embarrassing. My brother was standing by the table and looked around, the little circle of conversation that he was in suddenly wanted to know what he was watching.

After a moment or two, she stepped forward and picked up my left hand, held it in her two dry, rough hands, and turned it palm up, pulling down on my fingers with one hand so that the palm was stretched. She only looked for a moment a second or two, and leant over , and said, just to me so that I might hear but I don’t think that anyone else could catch it “you’ll bring happiness and love into the lives of others, but you’ll never have love of your own”.

Simple as that, verbatim, as far as I can remember, and I honestly don’t think I’ve forgotten. I could have laughed. I thought she was going to utter some dreadful curse, I thought I might suddenly catch leprosy or at the very least my well would turn sour and my crops fail…but that was it?! In fact it sounded somehow like a compliment at the time, “bring happiness to other”, well that’s a good thing isn’t it? I almost bought a round.

And that was pretty much that. She drank her drinks and we drank ours and we left, no knowing looks, no “Oi’d be careful on the moor tonight, if Oi were you’s” and no harm done.

Except that over the years, those words have seemed be growing in importance. They are there, said, and I can’t un-hear them and every time I do remember them they seem to have a little more resonance.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I'm it (get it off with a specialised stain remover)

oooh look, I'm excited, I've been tagged by Blondie.

7 things to do

before I die

have a lot more sex, not all over the place thank you, but with the same wonderful person

have children (but not every time we have sex please)

know that the person I'm with wants to be with me as much as I want to be with them

have an original thought

stand on top of Cader Idris naked and drunk on New Years eve and sing “you got to move it move it” (this may endanger the chances of my first ‘to do’ ever happening)

tell the rude Welshman in the pub to “sod off, take the chip off your shoulder and stick it up your arse”, in his own language

see a witch on a broomstick on Hallowe’en

I can do

push a string bean up my nose and pull it out of my mouth

tell bedtime stories without the aid of a book

wear a nice suit and make it look like a dustbin bag


make wine disappear like a majic trick

say “there,there”

stairway surf on the ironing board

I can't do

hold hands with a girl and walk in a straight line

tell you what I want what I really, really want

maintain the necessary link between my mouth and my brain when I'm drunk

dance the same dance as everyone else in the room

flatter to deceive


think in a straight line


that attract me to the opposite sex

hair is the first place, no particular colour just beautiful hair

warm happy laughter

un self-conscious, "I'm sexy, not my clothes"



the spectacles and tied back hair look

some girls just 'shine'

(can I have another please? I think that the single sexiest thing in the world is watching your loved one concentrate on something else, a book, a letter, painting a toe nail…)

things I say most often

Holy Moly

Good boy

Spluff ‘n splunder

I and Me (too often)

Same again please



celebrity crushes

Anna Friel

Imogen Stubbs

Jessica Rabbit

Janice Joplin

Marilyn Monroe

Princess Lea, in “that” costume

Bette Davies

Oh poo, only 7?

people I want to do this

well, up there on the right, there’s Aimee, and Katya (have you done this already Katya, and Bea, Wendy too (sorry Wendy I’ll put a link up soon I promise!!), anyone who wants too!!

pleasantly pooped

I'd really like to write, but I'm pooped. There's all sorts of vague strings in my head that want out, (is it the same for you, they don't really crysatlise until you begin to write?) but I'm afraid that if I start then I'll just make a mess, or even fall asleep half way through.

It's not a bad kind of tired, more a warm, fuzzy, cream crackerdy, doziness. I've all sorts of lovely things to think about at the moment.

So I'm going to be lazy and offer a few random pics of the weekend, and two 'ickle observations.

Stop it, the world does not need a razor with 5 blades. It's getting silly chaps.

My farts (yes I do occasionally) firghten Charle. He was dozing on the sofa next to me and I'm sorry to say that I parped. He jumped up like he'd been shot, yelped, leapt off the and ran out of the room. He's under the bed at the moment, hiding, just in case I assualt him with another bottom burp. (I'm going to eat a lot of brocolli and pickled egss to see if I can really scare him one evening).

great white!!
small black
erm, leaves
charlie took this
"what shall we do charlie", "wee on it Toff, wee on it"

jolly hockey sticks (we lost 7-3!!)

Thursday, October 06, 2005


This time, genuinely by popular demand, the last post has been removed, for reasons of:

  • common decency
  • a visit by the blogger "good taste" police
  • a communique from Mr Disney's lawyers
  • several visitors who obviously miss spelt "pooh" in thier internet search (or worse, didn't)
  • a sudden on-rush of sobriety

HNT is definitely better left to the ladies.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It lives

and says "thanks" for your concern
Charlie is sooo happy Toffee is okay too

one of those days

I'm sorry, all I've got today is the transcript of an email I sent last night, bad grammer and all, I was in a bit of a flap so go easy on me:

....It was fine until this evening, just, well Tuesday,
work, shopping, walking the dogs...I was late home and
I thought I'd give them a bit of a treat, so instead
of the usual walk I took them Forte Hall, one of the
places we'd normally go on a Sunday for a longer walk.
And I lost Toffee.

It's a park, maybe 2 miles from the house, not a
swings and roundabouts park but lakes, and woods and
lots of little pathways that back on to local
farmland. He's good now, he goes, disappears from
sight, he just loves undergrowth, but when I whistle
he comes back eventually. It wasn't always like that,
he used to disappear for ages and we’ve had a few
arguments, you know, but he hasn't done that for the
past 2 years.

Except tonight. He went, I whistled, we (me and
Charlie) carried on whistling, I clapped my hands,
shouted his this time, if he's within
earshot he knows I'm annoyed and generally creeps
out of the undergrowth looking peevish and sorrowful.
But tonight he just didn't show up at all. We walked
for ages, then went back to the spot that we'd left,
just in case. I'd walked us down one of the footpaths
through the woods. And it goes dark now at around
7.30, seriously dark. They shut the park gates at I took Charlie back there and sure enough
the park keeper was hovering around the car looking
surly. I explained, and then parked the car outside, I
left Charlie in there, poor sod in the dark in the
car, and went back in.

It's cold too, I'm in a T-shirt, wandering around in
the dark in the woods, just calling and whistling. By
now he'd been gone for nearly an hour and a half.
There's a lane through a hedge, bordering one side,
and I was terrified perhaps that he might have been
run over, but there was no sign, I walked the entire
length and then pushed back through the hedge. I
walked two full circuits of the park, every path I
knew, and off the beaten track and ended up back in
the car park...where I'm sorry but it was well after
nine by now I just sat on the kerb and cried, I really
thought I'd lost him.

I thought I'd give it just one more go, there's a
stream that he loves, and I walked back down through
the woods to there, more in desperation than
expectation, but, well, you know? But he wasn't there
either. By now I was thinking almost as much of
Charlie locked in the car, when - yup, just when you'd
given up, the little bastard, sodden, mournful,
covered in brambles, just 10 feet off the path.

I couldn't do angry, I was so, so relieved, (I really
thought I'd lost him this time ######), just a
"c'mon", and I think he felt the same way too. We had
a very quite walk back to the car, and he went no
further than 3 feet away from me, he didn't wag his
tail until we got through our own front door, and he's
flaked out on the settee.

sigh, I mean big "sigh"

Monday, October 03, 2005

a word in yer ear


Let’s get this out of the way from the very start, the following is intended to be practical advice for holiday makers from the United States to the less than sunny shores of the UK. As such it is, as far as possible, a reflection of the racial mix and the prejudices that exist in the real world, making references to these is not intended to condone them, only to recognise and take them into consideration .

Congratulations, you have decided to spend some time in the United Kingdom, steeped in history and culture, a fellow nation, an ally sharing a common mother tongue and a distant happy neighbour?

You have probably done some research on places you would like to visit, must do’s and it’s perfectly possible that you have also made the effort to do a little practical research on what to expect, how to conduct yourself, let’s face it how not to make a public fool of yourself. Well done, although we (almost) share a language, you’ve recognised a vital fact - for you this will be very much a foreign country.

It’s quite likely that you will be flying in to Heathrow or Gatwick, if you have never visited the UK before then London will probably be very high on the “must do” list.

Like so many other things preparation is the key. So a little word of advice before you set off, about dressing appropriately: We have a climate that can cram three seasons into a single day. You may have sunshine in June, and snow in December, it’s not unheard of for us to have a beautiful sunny day interspersed with violent hail storms and biting winds.

There’s another very good reason to think about what you would like to arrive in. Let’s imagine that you’ve arrived safe and sound, with a numb bum but in fairly good shape. On a tangent here, please try not to be the first to disembark, there really is no point, and if you are the first to make it into the rabbit warren of corridors beyond the gate there will be no indication of where the baggage hall is , and no-one to ask. You’re also going to be spending 2 hours waiting for your bags to arrive, whilst our handlers take a well earned tea-break to get over the exertion of the coffee-break they had 5 minutes ago. You will have plenty of time to ruminate over why there was such a wild rush to get of the ‘plane. But I digress, the real reason that you need to consider dress sense is that, once you clear the passport control queues and collect what remains of your luggage, you will pass through customs, and behind that pane of one way glass lurks Betty.

Betty has been trained specifically to bring horror into the lives of unwitting, inappropriately or gaily dressed travellers. Betty has absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever, she can not smile, all of the nerves necessary to smile have been cauterized. She is waiting like a moribund spider for the signals that mark a deviant, a drug smuggler or the fool with an extra carton of cigarettes –the signs that will vibrate her web and cause her to strike. Her triggers are simple, anything remotely ‘hippy’, scuffed sandals, bandana’s, braided hair. An overabundance of tattoo’s (just wear a long sleeved shirt), or even a particularly vibrant jacket can cause her to pounce.

If you should find yourself confronted by her malignant gaze, concentrate, try not to panic and above all else do exactly what you are told. Betty will not take kindly to any chatter, attempts at humour are to her like the angry chatter of screeching nails on a classroom black board. Listen carefully to what she tells you to do, nod your acquiescence and do no more or less than she asks. These simple rules should mean that you have to spend just a few embarrassing minutes publicly repacking your his and hers thongs, industrial sized vibrator and pile cream

If you don’t well then Betty might decide to make a more thorough examination, and she has rubber gloves, and soaks them in bleach between uses.


Let’s say that you have managed to successfully deploy an air of innocuous invisibility and made it through the gate and into the world outside. Huzzah, welcome to London where the streets are paved with litter and cardboard boxes with people in them!!

You are going to have to force your way through the crowd of gormless idiots who are trying to make some other passengers life easier by holding aloft their name scribbled on a piece of corrugated cardboard: Smith, Green, Narangwe-ne-Kalalanegarwath. Hit them in the shins with your trolley, they’re idiots, they’re in the way and they deserve it.

If you are lucky you will be staying in a hotel of sufficient stature to have it’s own shuttle service. It will take you some time to find it, because the only visible member of airport staff, much as he would like to help you, is actually a Croatian dentist who only arrived in Luton airport this morning.

If not then you will have to make a choice, you are caught between scyla and cheribdis, a rock and a hard place – a taxi or the tube.

The Tube is by far the quickest and least expensive way to get around London. However it’s not necessarily the easiest or most convenient, especially with heavy bags and no knowledge of where your hotel is in relation to your destination station. The tube is full of perils and pitfalls and is a chapter unto itself.

For simple convenience I think I would be tempted to opt for a taxi, it may well cost an arm and a leg, but it will get you in relative safety, conveniently from A to B.

Let’s just take a moment to define taxi here. A legitimate taxi is a black cab, they are very easy to spot resembling a hearse that’s been foreshortened by being reversed into a brick wall. There are unlicensed cabs operating in the airport, they are illegal, but somehow a few still slip through the net. Black cab drivers do not leave their cab. Unlicensed cab drivers skulk around the doorway whispering “taxi?” to would be punters. Don’t do it.

If pressed a very useful phrase is “naff off” (naff orf) – meaning go away. Failing that “Fuck off” is a perfectly acceptable rejoinder (try practicing fack orf, make the r roll). In fact “off” with a flick of the thumb is usually perfectly adequate. This is important, because it is likely that he’s driving a rust bucket that may not survive the journey…’s also perfectly possible that he is the Serbian brother in law of the Croatian Dentist who was politely of no bloody use to you a few minutes earlier. He has been in London for 3 days, he has a degree in Organic Chemistry but no earthly idea of the geography of London and will attempt to navigate you to your hotel by using the relative position of the sun, and by asking strangers for directions, who will tell him to “naff orf”.

Pay the money and get in a black cab. Sit back, relax and enjoy the peculiar sensation of being driven around in a biscuit tin with windows. Oh, and be prepared to be assaulted by an hour or more of conversation so excruciatingly tedious and one sided that Samaritan’s have been known to hurl themselves out of the windows of moving cabs into oncoming traffic.

Cabbie’s do the “knowledge”. It’s a life’s work and in all honesty it is something to be enormously proud of. Imagine, a city of 12 million people, intricate patterns of streets and avenues, of crescents and bizarre names (“crutched friars”! really, it’s a tiny little wynde near Tower Bridge) and cabbie’s are supposed to know ALL of them. They are expected to take you unerringly from any point in London to any other, by an economical and expeditious route. They spend literally years pottering around London on mopeds, learning it area by area, street by street.

In order to memorize such an incredible amount of detail cabbies have paid a terrible penalty in terms of every other mental function. Conversational skills are the main victim. Your average cabbie's conversation consists of completely random evidentiary snippets of his daily reading, he doesn’t have the equipment to form an opinion of his own so he’ll simply rattle out a fragment from the sports pages of the daily red top newspaper that he reads, or part of one of the “Dear Deirdre” letters from the problem page. He will happily rattle on about his grandmother’s psoriasis, or his dogs bowel movements, and remember half way through the anecdote that it’s actually the dog that has the skin condition and his grandmother who has sloppy stools.

He has the most arbitrary array of conversational openers, “that pope, he’s a funny geezer ain’t he, they reckon he drinks pints of crème de menthe, no wonder they carry him round in a fackin chair, eh, eh?” By dint of his incredible memory he has read and memorised every Christmas cracker joke known to Christendom, and he thinks they are funny.

Don’t attempt to encourage him, he doesn’t need it and won’t appreciate any help, he is the emperor of tedium and what he says quite literally goes. If you feel that you just can’t take it any more, try holding your breath for a little while, until it hurts actually – don’t, whatever you do, be tempted to practice your new found language skills by telling hime to “naff orf”, or you’ll find yourself standing on the hard shoulder of the M4 in the pissing rain with your luggage.

When you arrive, tip him, around 10% should do, as he is quite adept at accidentally attaching suitcases to his rear bumper and doing a u-turn with them in the street.

To be continued..

mature - like cheese

It's just possible that I may be growing up.

There was an office 'do' on Friday night, just an informal affair to see off one our colleagues who's leaving to go home to Oz.

I was busy ferrying drinks between the bar and our group, concentrating very hard on the job in hand as I have an almost phobic reaction to trays (I had an expensive accident in a beer garden with one once) - so I didn't see the hand that tapped me on the shoulder coming, and it took a moment or two to register who it belonged to. I very nearly had another expensive accident. It was very pretty lady that I know quite well, or at least did know quite well, In fact I'd had an enormous crush on her in a past life, but she'd chosen not to notice at the time. She said hello, and I rattled my tray and made goldfish faces for a moment, before explaining that I had to get the drinks to my friends before I spilt them all. "Fine" she said "come back and have a chat".

So I did. She was there with her friends on a girl's night out - her "one moment of fun in a boring existence" as she described it. I knew already that she'd married, but she seemed happy to talk and I was happy to let her. Except that she seemed to want to talk mostly about what a rotten marriage she had, how it had been a mistake really and how terribly bored she was...and did I remember how we'd had fun and done this and that and wasn't that exciting, and how she missed.....a good time that frankly I couldn't remember having. And eventually it permeated my thick skull that just maybe she was suggesting that we really ought to be having fun, that if I offered just a little encouragement I could help it to happen.

She is very attractive. Even if there's no suggestion of any kind of physical liaison, there's a temptation there (please don't leave me out there on my own with this, tell me I'm not the only person who this might occur to, or I will feel like a complete cad), which is to play along, to act just a little sexy to see if you could, you know, if you wanted to. Because for her I think, the grass will always be greener on the other side, and she'll need to know she's wanted, daily, hourly perhaps.

I'm happy to the point of being smug to report that the little man with the halo on my left shoulder told the man in the tight red pants on my right shoulder to poke it. It would be fun, I agreed, to go out for a drink, when could her and her husband make it?

(And don't think that it hasn't occurred to me that she might have been teasing the man with the big L on his forehead, getting me all worked up so that she could ignore me all over again).


there's a little black spot on the sun today

There's a dead pigeon on the pavement outside the office. It's right next to the door, and the dozen people who work here have so far stoically managed to ignore it.

This morning there was a partial eclipse of the sun (honest guv).

One more sign...if I see a locust, or a even a strange cloud formation...just one more, and I'm going home to hide.

Sunday, October 02, 2005



fools fall down

Aren’t Sundays great?

I used to hate Sunday because it was ‘nothing’ day, somewhere between the weekend and the Monday morning. Now I love it, for exactly the same reason. There was a time where I saved up all the odd jobs for Sunday, tried to clear up the detritus of my life to make sure that the week ahead was a clean sheet. Now I just give in to it and go with the flow.

I’m not sure that this is going to hang together terribly well, but is seems to make some connections in my head, albeit it probably needs rewiring (my head that is).

I got home rather late last night, 3.30’ish I think but I’m not sure, after a night with the pyt’s (pretty young things) in town. It was one of the girl’s 21st birthday party and we did lots and lots of bars, and it was good, it was great fun, but I’m getting a bit too old for all the posturing that goes with an evening like that. So, drunk, happy and full of a ridiculous bubblalove, I thought it would be a good idea to try to tell my heart’s desire….something. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Yup, drunk and obsessive, (you’re such a divvie Colin) I wonder if she’ll ever talk to me again.

So, it had occurred to me that I’ve read a lot more ladies blogs than chaps. Its not a conscious decision, they (you) just seem to have more interesting things to say. I did wonder if it was a kind of voyeurism, unhealthy somehow, but I don’t think it is….

I don’t “get” women. Yes I know you hear it a lot, it’s tired, but it’s also true. You are a different species. I’ve read the “Men are from Mars…” and really after a dozen pages all I saw was bla, blablabla, bla bla. Do you feel the same way about men?

If you do, may I provide just a tiny little insight into the male psyche?

We are, on the whole, well intentioned. It’s easier to describe in a scenario: You have had a rotten day at work. Just a pig awful day, and you want to talk about it. You get home and you want to unload, and all you have to unload on is the poor witless buffoon that you live with?

Because there is the difference. You want to talk. The very act of talking is therapy.

We want to mend it.

That’s what we do, it’s some sort of prehistoric, biological imperative. We want to mend things, make them better. I’m not sure where that comes from, but my theory is that it’s an evolution or variant on the “impress the missus” urge.

Once upon a time Ug turned up at the cave door with two tons of dead animal.

“What the fuck is that?!” said Mrs Ug.

“I killed it”

“What the hell for”

“I thought we could eat it”

“It’s huge, you dickhead, we could hollow it out and live in it”

“Don’t you like it then”

“Oh fuck off Ug”

You see where I’m coming from? We want to impress the missus. We do our best, and it is well meant, but it’s not always particularly well directed.

So when you tell us about the people in the office who are making your life hell, we want to make it better. Can’t you see us concentrating? You’ve left us behind with the detail of course, and we’ll never remember the names of the people that you’re talking about, but that look that we get, furrowed neanderthal brow and both eyes in the same socket, means that we really do care –at the back of our minds we are constructing maps, and wiring diagrams and pits full of sharp stakes to murder your enemies.

It never occurs to us that you don’t want a solution, that all you want to do is talk about it.

Smashing eh? Look at your man when he’s not concentrating, oblivious, when he’s got that happy savant look on his face, and the chances are that there’s an A Team episode playing on a loop in his head