Don’t jay-walk in Russia!

This very disturbing CCTV capture comes from the Russian city of Perm (no dear, it’s not a hair style).

It shows what we’ve all done, just jogged across a pedestrian crossing to get to the other side in a hurry.

Except this time, the bus behind that car has had a brake failure and…

p.s. What I find really interesting is that in Russia it’s OK to video a street scene, whereas if you try that in London and you’ll get the Plastic Police (PCSOs) on your case telling you that you’re not allowed to do that here

On why people are sometimes not a good idea (2)

Soph was away on christening duties yesterday and although it was a tough call, after much mental wrestling I decided to take K to Blenheim Horse Trials; I’d blagged a pair of VIP tickets and was looking forward to all the frills, perks and niceties that normally accompany VIP status at a world class equestrian competition.

We arrived and, like a well-practised team (which we’re not!), K and I flipped straight in to reconnaissance mode and cruised through the trade stands. Then we headed for the VIP marquee/enclosure where coffee and carbs may have been deployed.

We arranged to meet back later; I went off to walk the CIC*** cross country course and K went off to do whatever it is that women of an equestrian inclination do at these things.

At 12.30 K and I hooked up back in the main arena where we watched a lecture/demo by Graham Fletcher (one of my boyhood show-jumping heroes), which was followed by the CCI*** show jumping.

Sorry, I mean we *tried* to watch the lecture/demo by Graham Fletcher.

Mobile phones.

Didn’t the guy on the tannoy say ‘Switch your fucking mobile phones off’? Well no, he didn’t quite put it like that but take my word for it girls and boys, the message was implicitly the same.

So why did Old Welsh Bag rock up on her electric invalid carriage/chair thing, stop almost right in front of us (because we didn’t want to actually *see* anything, did we?) pull out her prehistoric mobile phone (the size of a concrete block), press numbers, put it to her ear and utter the words: ‘GARETH? IT’S ME. WHERE ARE YOU? I’M IN THE MAIN ARENA. ARE YOU OK? HANG ON, SHE’S HERE.’

At this point Old Welsh Bag handed the concrete block mobile phone to a Less Old Welsh Bag (daughter?) who continued the conversation in marginally quieter tones.

Marginally quieter, but just not quiet enough. We all knew what she was telling Gareth.

Now then, you won’t know this, but throughout the course of the afternoon Old Welsh Bag and Less Old Welsh Bag telephoned GARETH six times.

Six. Fucking. Times.

It would be far too easy of me to pick on Old Welsh Bag for many things (having the telephone manners of a person with no manners or consideration whatsoever, smoking cigarettes near people – therefore not giving anyone a choice on whether or not they wanted to smoke her exhalations too, smoking at all when she was clearly massively overweight and, judging by her laboured breathing, extremely unfit), so I won’t.

Instead I will simply say that neither she, nor Less Old Welsh Bag had any great power of vision, for if they had they would have seen everyone nearby glare scornfully at them for the first three calls and collapse in giggles of derision for the last three calls.

However, lack of consideration and poor telephone manners weren’t the pinnacle of this pair’s achievements.

When, later in the afternoon, we were watching the last 15 competitors of the CCI*** perform the competition’s deciding show jumping rounds, Old Welsh Bag determined that she’d had enough and wanted to leave.

So she threw her electric invalid carriage thing in to reverse and…


Yes, it had an audible reversing alarm, just like an HGV lorry. Because, obviously, one of those electric invalid carriage things is the same to drive as an HGV lorry.

I don’t know how the beeping alarm affected any of the competing horses out in the arena, but immediately, it scared the fuck out of everyone nearby in the VIP enclosure.

However our expressions turned from terror at the initial aural pollution to abject horror at her obvious lack of consideration and thence to giggles and outright guffaws at the comedy of the situation.

But oh, what a shame that the enjoyment of about a hundred nearby people was completely ruined by the total lack of consideration of Old Welsh Bag and Less Old Welsh Bag at a spectator event.

The moral of this little story is that having VIP tickets is not an effective barrier against the stupids; they’ll still find ways of getting to you.


On why people are sometimes not a good idea (1)

My gold credit card was cloned last week.

The utter bastards who did it have tried to rip me/the credit card company off to the tune of £1,450 by some very dodgy transactions, but unless something very nasty falls out of the woodwork, no-one is going to lose any money because we nipped it in the bud before all of the transactions could be processed.

The inconvenience to me though, is high. I recently booked flights, accommodation and car hire in Italy for next week, and I’m totally confused as to how those things stand. Are they good, do I have to make them again? My gold credit card has effectively been electronically shredded so all of my regular arrangements need to be changed too – Amazon, for example, needs to be updated, and there are a couple of transactions outstanding with them that are probably going to get caught up in the fallout. I made a charitable donation to a friend/former colleague on that card last week, is that payment going to get bounced?

I have another credit card to use, and that’s fine. It, like my gold credit card, has a stupidly high credit limit and it, like my gold card, has its balance zeroed every month; so it’s not as if I’m suddenly put in a place where things can’t continue to occur, I’m not in a place of financial hardship or even difficulty because of what’s happened.

It’s just the faff, the inconvenience of having to make so many changes in so many places to so many online profiles, and having to check back with so many people as to whether this payment or that payment has gone through or not yet been processed. And this faffing, this needing to make changes was, of course, inflicted upon me by ‘people’.

Sometimes I hate ‘people’.

Not dead yet

Not for a very long time either!

The Monty Python West End musical ‘Spamalot’ features a sketch based on the original Monty Python TV sketch ‘bring out your dead‘ which features a medieval serf trying to pass off an old man as the corpse of a plague victim (because the people of the time were paid for the plague corpses they produced).

People who go to see Spamalot and buy T-shirts from Ye Olde Rip Offe Shoppe can buy shirts that are emblazoned with the words ‘I’m not dead yet’.

I feel as though I should be wearing mine today.

The schedule of events goes like this – and bear in mind this is all one day – Saturday:

00.45 – vomit and onset of stomach pain
01.30 – pain in every position
02.30 – massive spike of pain. I may have cried for an hour or so
02.45 – stomach became distended and hard
05.00 – went for a walk to try and ease the pain
09.00 – rang NHS direct who did the sharp intake of breath thing and said they’d get a nurse to call me
09.15 – nurse called, did the sharp intake of breath thing and said I should speak to a Doc
10.20 – Doc called, did the sharp intake of breath thing and said I should get to hospital
11.05 – Arrived at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Redditch

11.10 – Seen by duty ‘out of hours’ Doc who diagnosed any of three possible problems, chronic gastric blockage requiring surgery (the exact quote was ‘if it’s that you’ll be seeing the surgeon later today’) or a chronic gastric blockage treatable by non-surgery methods (that was my favourite) or a stone (of the non rolling variety) also requiring surgery. I told him to proceed as if it was option 2!

11.30 – given two shots, one for the pain which almost made me pass out a couple of times during the consultation, one to relax my internal organs. Then given pills, told that things could take up to an hour to work and I should make myself as comfortable as possible (ha!).

12.00 – re-inspected by the Doc – feeling non-vomity and slightly better internally but stomach still as hard as a rock

12.30 – re-inspected by the Doc – still non-vomity, much better internally but worryingly stomach still distended and still as hard as a rock. Doc said the last two things will go away over a week or two. Gave me a box of pills, said I was very lucky as he had me down to be under the knife by 15.00, and instead he shook my hand and sent me on my way.

13.05 – arrived home, crawled in to bed, spoke to The Lovely S to allay her fears, dozed

The evening passed in a blur – I was that tired.

This morning I ate breakfast (porridge and a cup of tea) and medication.

This afternoon we went to see the horses, fed them apples then met The Outlaws (The Lovely S’s platinum parents) at a pub where they bought us lunch (I had soup and dessert).

We all came back home where more cups of tea were followed by a slice of birthday cake.

My stomach is still distended, still hard but I’m not in the least bit of pain and – importantly – I’m keeping my food down.

Tonight is Top Gear followed by A Long Way Down. The former is compulsive viewing, more on the latter in a moment.

I’ll get things ready for tomorrow, go to bed and – ironically – get up in the morning and go to work as if nothing has happened this weekend.

And all I’ve got to show as evidence is a box of hospital-issued medication, a distended stomach and a general lack of sleep.


Meanwhile elsewhere…

Right, Long Way Down (BBC2, 21.00 Sundays).

I have a book to review – actually I have two books to review – by a young author called Sam Manicom.

One of his books is his version of ‘A Long Way Down’ – his story of his motorbike journey through Africa – whilst the other book is his version of a motorbike trip through Australia and Asia.

I’m looking forward to reviewing them both – but it’s safe to say right now that unlike the over-moneyed, over-protected, fully-cocooned celebrities who are currently starring in TV’s celeb-love in ‘A Long Way Down’, Sam Manicom made both of these journeys without the hugely expensive backup teams in 4×4’s.

In our contacts to date Sam seems to be personable young author, in the excerpts I’ve read Sam’s work seems very promising.

Time, coursework, the 9-5 and life has stopped me from reviewing his books so far, but I’ve got a clear plan of getting them both done before Christmas.

I’ll let you know how it all pans out but…

Even though I’ve only skimmed his books so far – I’m already recommending the books ‘Into Africa’ and ‘Under Asian Skies’ by Sam Manicom as alternatives to the completely unrealistic ‘A Long Way Down’.


I thought I was going to die today

To get from the point of normal healthiness last night via the terrible pain and sickness starting just before 01.00 – to where the indescribably agony was ended in the local hospital over 12 hours later – is a journey of harrowing detail, continuous body-wrenching pain and much illness.

I shall gloss over the details save for the turning point – two injections and a bunch of medication administered by a very considerate emergency hours GP at the Alexandra hospital in Redditch.

I never want to go through that again, I really did think I was either going to expire painfully today or do myself in, in an attempt to end the agony and secure a different kind of release.

Now, however, I am back home in bed.

The horses remain unseen but if I’m up to it I’ll sneak in a visit to them tomorrow.


The grass is greener? Or lemmings? Or rats leaving?

These are interesting questions.

I don’t have the answers – and frankly I don’t think that anyone does.

According to figures released today by University College London (on behalf of MigrationWatch), 130,000 Brits left the UK last year – just for Australia (71,000) and Spain (58,000).

I appreciate there’s a general air around the country that the UK is going downhill fast, but come on folks, surely we can all see that this is an attitude that sparked in to being within Parliament and has been wildly fanned by the British media.

Surely we’ve rumbled by now that keeping a population subjugated by fear is how those in power manage to maintain their power?

It seems to me that we have made a fundamental shift in our governance.

We have moved to top-down democracy instead of bottom-up democracy.

Power no longer comes from the voter; it may have originated there but through our political apathy we have granted total authority to our political parties.

We have now reached the point where we the voters have lost control of the country.

Don’t believe me?

Well how about this…

For the last eight general elections the winning political party that took power was voted against by the majority.

Yep, it’s true.

On a single-party comparison more people chose to vote against the last eight governments than voted for them.

So our democratic power is where?

In the rubbish bin – along with the mandate from the people that our last eight parliaments have claimed they had (but don’t).

Faced with a political system like this and the continued ‘climate of fear’, is it really any wonder if people choose to live elsewhere?


The reverse Midas touch

That’s the one where everything starts out gold and gradually turns to brown, smelly stuff under your watchful eye.

I’m not sure what’s gold about the alarm going off at 04.15 but I felt remarkably chirpy when it did.

Lurched as quietly as possible out of the bedroom.

Teetered downstairs, kettle on, porridge into microwave.

Back upstairs; shower, shave.

Spare room; get dressed, take clutch of clean shirts and bag of belongings downstairs and out in to the car.

Kitchen; devour breakfast and cup of tea.

Back upstairs, brush teeth.

Tiptoe in to the bedroom, kiss a sleepy but Lovely S, tell her to go back to sleep (so why did I wake her to tell her that?).

Tiptoe downstairs again, put a few bits and bobs in the car and at:

05.03 drive off.

08.15 arrive Docklands, send ‘safe and sound’ text to The Lovely S (she is using my spare mobile handset with her sim card, because her two-week-old Motorola has dropped dead. Again. This is the second handset to do this in less than a month; well done Motorola!)

08.30 enter office.

Do typical Monday morning stuff.

09.20 leave office for a bus journey to Bow. What a great bus journey! The 277 goes all around the houses, it’s brilliant (Ted)! I wish I’d taken my camera with me.

10.00 arrive meeting venue.

10.30 start meeting.

11.35 finish meeting.

11.40 catch bus back to Docklands.

12.05 arrive back in the office, eat lunch while answering emails, responding to messages etc.

12.15 promise to help R with presentational stuff (she looks very fragile about this thing).

12.30 leave office for meeting on the Isle of Dogs.

12.55 arrive meeting venue.

13.00 start meeting.

13.45 finish meeting.

13.55 start next meeting

15.15 finish meeting.

15.18 move downstairs to chat with IP’s (interested parties).

16.00 arrive back in the office, do more emaily/messagy stuff.

16.15 take delivery of a USB dongle that will allow my laptop to receive DAB Radio/Digital television (how cool is this?).

16.30 reiterate to R that I’ll give whatever advice/info I can.

18.33 receive text from The Lovely S that mortifies me; she’s found ‘photos’ on my spare handset (I haven’t used it for two years – since before I met her). In equal measures I am embarrassed for me and fearful for any pain that I might have caused her.

18.55 in response to my apology The Lovely S replies that she’s not worried. Doesn’t alter the fact that I am. Still feel mortified and gutted.

19.00 install USB dongle. Insufficient signal in Brixton to make the effing thing pick up anything. Why does this surprise me? I can barely get a phone signal in Brixton.

19.30 receive email from R with her presentation. Except the file size is half a meg and despite downloading it three times the effing thing won’t open. Give up after third attempt.

20.30 phone call from The Lovely S. She says it’s no big deal. But it is to me. Still mortified of Brixton here!

21.09 phone call from R about her presentation; she resends it. This time the file size is different, I download and open it. Looks neat! I suggest we should have 10 mins together tomorrow so she can run through her presentation in tandem with the slides. Tell her it’s great stuff; she’s a little stressed – no need in my view. Have a gneral chat with R, exchange improbable-sounding but true stories about our pasts. We both chuckle.

21.30 try the USB dongle again. Perhaps if I used a kipper for an aerial I’d get a better signal. Why is it that Brixton is such an awful place for all manner of signals?

22.58 falling asleep whilst trying to read a bio of Napoleon. Need to get this blog out. Need to sleep, alarm will go off at 05.20.

Don’t panic!

I’m sitting here with a mild feeling of anxiety.

I mean, it’s 13.48 on Sunday.

The weekend is slipping through my fingers like fine Mexican sand on an, erm, Mexican beach.

And no matter how hard I clench my digits together the sand continues to slip between them.

It’s 13.49 now.

I should be doing something.

Something productive.

Mozart composed his first work at 4 (and at 5 he went home for tea, ha ha ha).

But really.

I’m feeling panicy and unproductive.

I suppose I could have a shower and get dressed?


Now then reaches towards the ancient yet still faithful rucksack where did I put that draft symphony score I was working on when I was three-years-old?