Busy doing… well, everything really

It is a truth universally acknowledged that…

 

I  have been stupidly busy.

My aspiration to do less remains just that.

An aspiration.

I have many demands on my time, yet the amount of time I have available to service these demands seems to be on a diminishing curve.

Work continues to be busy, which is great.

But being busy at work isn’t helping with the ‘do less’ thing.

Not having horses in my life should be – and is – helping, but I actually found myself looking at a rather tasty 5yo mare last week.

That would be totes bonkers.

*steps away from the horse-buying thought*

Motorbike time has been limited, due to the awful weather.

But I did trundle out and about for three hours on Saturday, in the freezing cold, and as a result I was given this:

Enhanced Rider Certificate

Enhanced Rider Certificate

I think this means that I am now officially licensed to scare professionals, or something.

Actually it means that I am now a Blood Biker.

I have already passed the Controllers training; now I’m able to go out on the bikes too.

Umm.

I have a new guitar.

Well, actually I have almost two new guitars.

After encouragement from top muso and ace bloke Ash, I sent my SG away to be professionally set-up.

It came back, a week later, feeling like a new man guitar.

Seriously, it’s a different guitar, in terms of playability.

But Ash started me looking for another guitar, something with a different neck design, to the SG.

I’ve been looking at Fender Strats, having played one of his.

But after an unplanned visit to a guitar emporium in Leicester, I accidentally bought this:

G&L Legacy

G&L Legacy

The Legacy is a different animal to the SG, and it feels very Fender Strat-y.

But in terms of playability, it’s a significant step up from the SG (even from the newly-feeling, professionally set-up SG).

Unfortunately, the new-and-a-half guitars haven’t lifted my playing ability from the crap zone, but I have got a lot of practice in this week.

I have got a lot of practice in this week because Sam has been in Dubai, UAE; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Yangdon, Myanmar; Bangkok, Thailand; and Saigon, Vietnam.

She’s on her way back from Saigon to Yangdon, then to Dubai, then EMA, then home.

So while she’s been away I have played guitar.

I have also babysat the two rescue kitties and the two rescue kittens.

I have done a bit (not much) of laundry.

And cooked and eaten like a singleton.

And worked.

When not working I have fallen asleep during TV watching.

Actually there’s a topic.

I don’t seem to watch ‘live’ TV any longer.

I have watched the first two episodes of The Grand Tour (or, to give the show its real name: How To Look And Act Like Top Gear Without Actually Calling Yourself Top Gear).

My three word review: Trying too hard.

I fell asleep during both episodes.

I have also successfully fallen asleep during three episodes of The Man In The High Castle.

And an episode of Lucifer.

I quite liked Preacher, and didn’t fall asleep through any of that.

There are other TV programmes that I have fallen asleep through, but their titles have been as memorable as the watching experience(s).

I recently got a Fitbit (there will be a more detailed post about this, soonish).

It is interesting, wearing a piece of medical tech.

I have become slightly addicted to checking my heart rate, but this shows me that I have an odd pattern of fluctuation.

I checked my heart rate before taking the ZX10R out for the three-hour test on Saturday.

90bpm.

I checked my heart rate after the journey up to the Blythe meeting point.

78bpm.

So, when slobbing about at home, my heart rate is higher than yours (probably), but is in the average zone for me.

But, contrastingly, a fairly swift trip in, frankly, some pretty hairy weather, and on one of the world’s most rapid Superbikes, actually lowered my heart rate to what is (probably) average for you, and is below average for me.

All of this is a bit bonkers.

Indeed, sitting here typing this (and watching the Blessed Sandra Bullock in ‘Gravity’ at the same time), my heart rate is currently 99bpm.

Which is also a bit bonkers, obv.

Anyway.

I shall try to be less busy, and make more of an effort to hang around here.

Heart Attack Diary: #11

Getting really emo

 

I thought it was just me.

But a recent foray in to an appropriate group on Facebook gave me a lot of reading on this topic.

There were a large number of posts that informed me that what I’ve been experiencing is ‘normal’.

I watched The Lake House over the weekend, and cried my eyes out.

Not over Keyarnoneenoo’s actoring.

It was the story.

Or possibly the blessed Sandra Bullock.

Either way, I cried like a girl.

It is quite common, apparently, for people who have had a heart attack to be emotionally susceptible.

So that sortov explains why, when I woke up this morning and heard the US news, that I felt so sad.

Smell

My dog’s got no nose.
How does he smell?
Bloody awful!

The family has grown.

I’m still a little bemused at the speed, and at the method.

But one minute we were happy with two small humans, two large humans, and two girl cats.

And then, the next minute, there were two small humans, two large humans, two girl cats, and two boy kittens.

Beano and Dandy, two 14-week old kittens were seen at the RSPCA Rescue Centre.

The next day they had moved in with us.

Since then they have turned the house, and our lives, upside down.

The level of toilet training they have is probably best categorised as ‘regrettable’.

Their behaviour: ‘delinquent’.

And their teeth and claws: ‘lethal’.

Many wees and poos have been found, hither and yon.

But usually hither.

And when I say ‘hither’ I mean usually underneath one of the beds.

But finding these little ‘accidents’ (though, between me and you, I think there’s an air of calculated, malicious deliberatism in the production line) has been made very difficult because of the cold.

Colds.

Because the two adults in the house are now sharing ‘the cold’.

We’ve sniffed our way around the house every time we come in.

Sometimes the sniffing has been successful.

Sometimes the blocked-up noses have let us down.

The two one-year old #RescueKitties (now pending being relabelled as #RescueKatz) have not taken well to the interlopers.

And we grown-up humans have tried to walk the thin and wiggly line that separates showing too much preference to either the #RescueKatz or the #RescueKittens.

So there are behaviours to account for.

And ownerships.

And wee.

And, inevitably, poo.

Welcome to our world.

(sorry about the smell)

Cold

My dog’s got no nose.
How does he smell?
Quite fragrant really.

 

One particular side effect of having had a heart attack is the sudden unavailability of OTC medication I had previously taken for granted.

Around Thursday last week I began to notice the onset of some unwanted but seasonal symptoms.

By Friday the cold was in full swing.

In a non swinging kind of way.

Obv.

The sudden sneeze attacks, the gradual opening of the sluices on the upper levels of the River of Snot (leading, with relentlessly efficient rapidity, to the inevitable downward deluge of mucus), and all of these goodnesses accompanied by a cough so violent it could stun an elk at 25 paces.

That kind of full swing.

Normally I would just load up with a perch or two of Paracetamol, take on board a bushel or several of Lemsip, and continue ploughing through my duties like a slightly underpowered ice-breaker.

Except it seems that I have to learn a new ‘normally’, in some areas of life.

Lemsip, for a start, is now a banned substance.

It contains a substance called phenobarbitone (nb, this isn’t the correct ingredient, but it’s the closest to the correct name that the spellchecker on this phone will allow).

Short of, under cover of the darkest of dark evenings, me donning a hoody pulled hard down over my face, slinking in to the village Shell petrol station, and illicitly buying some contraband Lemsip, those particular meds are now just distant memories; the recreational drugs of my recent past.

So too the aforementioned quantities of Paracetamol.

Gone.

Instead I have to grin and bear it (though the discovery of having a sultry young maiden vigorously massage industrial quantities of Vic’s in to my chest, back, and shoulders, led to some unexpectedly pleasurable sensations).

There has been experimentation with some fringey, alternate drugs.

A bucketful of a honey, lemon, brandy combination led to a deep, dreamless sleep.

Not so much drugged, more medicated as a newt.

The chest needs to be kept a close eye on.

I am keeping in practice by becoming ever more familiar with the chest of the most accommodating sultry young maiden.

Hers being easier to study than mine.

Obv.

Anyway, at the first sign of a possible chest infection I have to head straight to the doctor at a rapid canter, so she can throw even more drugs at me.

Something to do with the infection causing all kinds of problems for my already-working-at-full-pelt-post-heart-attack-chest-recovery-unit.

Yes, it’s a thing.

Apparently.

Anyway, as these things do, even though the cold is not a virus, it has spread.

To the unfortunate but still very attractive sultry maiden.

This evening the poor lass is plainly stricken by the same symptoms from which I am still recovering. From.

So tonight I shall apply the honey, lemon, and brandy mix.

And then I shall wait upstairs, ready with the vat of Vic’s.

To her back, shoulders and, of course, chest.

All in the name of medical science.

Obv.

Heart Attack Diary: #10

It’s a small world after all

 

At 2pm this afternoon I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my Cardiac Clinic Follow-up.

The purpose of this particular follow-up clinic is so that the cardiac specialist nurse can check on the health and well-being of the patient, check on the patient’s recovery strategy, and make sure that the meds we have to take aren’t interfering with life, the universe, and everything.

‘Hello chap!’ said a voice.

It was AD (not his real name, obv).

I used to work with AD in my previous job, where he was a senior manager in IT at a FTSE top 10 company.

It turns out that AD had a heart attack on the same day I had mine.

He had a few more stents put in than I.

That two senior managers in IT should have a heart attack on the same day is perhaps not much of a coincidence.

But we both live in Nottingham.

And we both worked for the same company.

Now that’s a bunch of coincidences.

The Gods Of Food Are Conspiring Against Me

Cooking shit ain’t what it used to be

 

I’ve never had a really large repertoire in the kitchen.

Cooking for me is a hassle, but a necessary one.

Obv.

I dislike those cookery programmes with a deeply-held and profound sense of loathing.

They are all a load of pretentiousness, served up on a bed of rocket with some strawberry coolis, on a slate.

A fucking slate.

I ask you.

When did roofing materials start to become something we ate our food off?

What’s next?

Restaurants will be serving your prawn spritzer from the tailpipe of a 1973 Ford Cortina?

Anyway.

I digress.

Back to my repertoire in the kitchen.

And I mean cooking, not swearing or doing the washing up.

Though I am hella good at the last two in that sentence.

There’s a cottage pie. Made with minced Quorn.

And a pretty mean spag bol. Made with minced Quorn.

And a pasta dish (which isn’t the main feature ‘cos that’s the sauce which changes massively every time I make it).

And a sweet and sour stir fry (easy on the ginger, heavy on the pineapple, medium on peppers but chuck in some mange tout and don’t forget to fold in the rice for a flash-fry before serving). Made with chicken. Or chicken Quorn. It’s up to you.

And there’s a chicken (or Quorn) stir fry (lots of teriyaki sauce, a touch of soy, and about half the quantity of teriyaki of Worcester sauce, and frozen peas added straight from the freezer for the flash-fry when you fold in the rice).

I suppose those are my main runners and riders.

Anything else is an also-ran.

So I’ve been dicking around (to use a well-known cookery expression) with the chicken stir fry for the last three Tuesdays.

There’s a reason for the Tuesday thing which I’m not going to reveal here, but it involves my double-life as a secret agent for the CIA.

The dicking around has, to a point, been successful.

Except last week, when the chicken tasted like the sole of a well-used Wellington boot.

I mean it was rough, tough, and rubbery (insert racist Chinese joke here and I’ll kick your arse out of town, OK?).

So this week I didn’t cook with Ocado’s worst finest chicken (because it isn’t fine, obv).

I cooked with Morrison’s average chicken.

Which was absofuckinglutely lovely.

But the rice (Ocado’s own-brand long grain) let the side down very badly.

Very very badly.

In fact, Ocado’s own-brand long grain rice let the side down like Wayne Rooney at a grab the granny competition, in a Scunthorpe nightclub on a Monday night.

If that’s even possible.

Over half an hour to cook (despite the ‘simmer for 10-11 minutes’ instructions on the packet).

And it still had more bite that Theresa May at PMQs.

Mind you, that’s not a lot of bite, going by last week’s piss-poor performance.

But enough of politics, and back to the kitchen.

I want to give up on the Tuesday night chickenarama.

The Food Gods have had their laugh.

Chicken with the consistency of a Goodyear that’s done 25,000 miles.

Rice that won’t fucking cook.

Nah. I’m done with it.

Next Tuesday I’m going to flip over to one of my other tried and tested.

The trouble is, I’m likely to be the only one who will eat it.

Because the Cottage Pie has peas, mushrooms and onion in it.

Ah g’day Bruce and Sheils

With deepest apologies to anyone who, you know, might actually be Australian

 

[rising inflection on every sentence please]

Awight mates?

So t’day I bin torkin’ ‘Strine.

An’ doin’ Strine things.

In a good ol’ Strine fashun.

For lunch I had a koala burger.

With a side order of spiders.

Big big Strine spiders.

Not them tiny wingeing pom spiders.

Nah mate.

Anyway.

I thort I’d just leave some top quality Strine music in yer earoles.

Here’s Missy.

She sings a bit proper and a bit posh, but she’s as Strine as a gnat on a dingo’s left bollock.

Yeah.

I really need to socialise with some people during the day.

Sailing (dream, not plane)

In which stir craziness tightens its grip around the fevered brain of our stay-at-home hero

 

I had a bonkers dream last night.

I dreamt that I bought a yacht.

It was in Australia.

So I flew out to the Land of Oz, where we had a couple of shakedown cruises.

The yacht was crewed, and I only took the helm for the final ‘back to port’ leg.

We agreed a price and I stocked the yacht for the journey back to the UK.

So far, so straightforward.

But then my dream became locked in a weird logical loop.

I couldn’t decide on the route back home.

Should I head northwest through the Indian Ocean?

If I did (my dream reasoned), I could pick up a stopover in the Maldives/BIOT, before heading in to the Gulf of Aden, then the Red Sea, Gulf of Suez, and finally in to the Med via the Suez Canal.

From Port Said it would be a relatively straightforward journey through the Med, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and then northwards, hugging the coast of Portugal, across the Bay of Biscay and back to Blighty.

Or should I head east-northeast, across the South Pacific, stopping en route at the Cook Islands, and French Polynesia, before crossing to Panama, and motoring through the Panama Canal.

Then crossing The Atlantic to Cape Verde, before heading northwards via the Canary Islands, Funchal, crossing Biscay before landing back at Blighty.

Here’s a map showing (approximately at least) the two routes:

Dream of routes to the UK from Oz

Dream of routes to the UK from Oz

The yacht, by the way, was an HR 36, which makes the dream all the more bonkers, because Hallberg-Rassy yachts are made in, er, Sweden.

Hallberg Rassy 36

Hallberg Rassy 36

Not Australia at all.

Anyway.

I don’t know which route I did choose, because the bulk of the dream was taken up with agonising over the route decision.

And I woke, before I’d got around to making the final choice.

I am beginning to suspect that my dreams have become more odd – they have certainly become rememberable (yes, it is a word, I checked) – since my heart attack.

Maybe it’s the meds.

Anyway.

I have spent much of today on various sailing forums, trying to ascertain which would be the best route from Oz to the UK.

Fender (no bender)

There’s a new guitar emporium in Nottingham.

PMT has been open a week.

I know this because when I went there today, I tried three Fender Stratocasters, and I asked how long they had been hanging on the wall.

One week. Since we opened (was the smart reply).

Anyway, this is a MIJ Fender:

MIJ Fender Stratocaster

MIJ Fender Stratocaster

And this is an American Fender:

American Fender

American Fender

And this is another American Fender

American Fender

American Fender

You wouldn’t get much change out of £1,000 for any of these three.

I’m not going to buy any of them, I was just checking them for ‘playability’.

Ash said (in not so many words) that I would do better playing with a v-shaped neck Fender Strat, than I would with my Epiphone SG.

And then he let me play one of his v-shaped neck Fender Strats.

OK, so Ash’s Fender has been professionally setup, so the action is much lower on his Fender than it is on my not setup SG.

But notwithstanding this detail, the shape of the Fender Strat neck fits my hands better than the shape of the SG neck.

And I found playing Ash’s professionally setup, v-shaped neck Fender Stratocaster much easier less difficult to play than my SG.

However, all three Fenders felt the same to my inexperienced fingers.

I can tell the difference between the Fenders and my SG, but I can’t tell the Fenders apart.

Anyway, the bottom line to all of this is that I’m looking to sell my acoustic guitar, get the SG professionally setup, and buy a used MIJ Fender.

I’ll try some more this week, but I think all this will do is to reinforce the difference between the SG and a (any?) Fender Stratocaster, to my uneducated fingers.

Heart Attack Diary: #9

It’s not all sex, drugs and rock and roll

 

I continue to climb the walls and chomp at the bit.

Although that sounds like a near-impossible piece of multi-tasking.

Anyway.

I feel fine.

I feel ridiculously good.

I am bored rigid.

And yet by the time the early evening comes around, I feel really weary.

Is that an after-effect?

Or is that just me getting knackered towards the end of the day?

I’ve been told that I can no longer donate blood.

This makes me unbelievably sad.

Giving blood has something I’ve been doing for many years.

I know I’m a common as muck O Positive, but that’s not the point.

I’m on the national organ donor’s database.

Which is something.

I keep getting phone calls from Taylor Swift.

I wish she’d just stop.

I know it’s the beard.

And the motorbike.

But Jesus, Taylor, enough is a enough.

Give it a rest eh?