A Very Rude Awakening

It’s been a hell of a day but before I fall in to bed and wait for Soph to (eventually) return from the ramparts of Ludlow Castle, I’d like to tell you how the day started…

You know those loud compressed-air horn things that the more juvenile adults take to sporting events?

Imagine that you are fast asleep in your bed, little Zs falling out of your mouth and running all over the pillow before they transform and become slightly damp patches, suspiciously near your mouth.

Now imagine that the local village lunatic has silently broken in to your house and is standing beside your bed tittering, silently, to himself.

Now place in his hands one of those compressed-air horn things.

Now make the time just a few minutes before 02.00.

Yep, one of our smoke alarms went off in the very early hours.

Not went off as in ‘detected any smoke and decided to do something about it’. Oh no.

This was went off as in ‘decided that its battery was too low so, instead of flashing a warning light which we could have picked up on in the morning, and instead of making a subdued, mildly-concerned kind of noise, it decided to give us the full benefit of its full-on smoke alarmingness.


We were out of bed instantly.

Asleep, but moving around.

I, unusually – given that I was still unconscious – identified the culprit then dashed downstairs to check on the status of the smoke alarm in the kitchen.


Then inspected the upstairs one.

Green status light, flashing red battery light.


Still fast asleep we got the small step-ladder out of the spare room, I tottered around on top of it and eventually worked out how to remove the cover.

Then I removed the dead battery and do you know what?

The fucking smoke alarm chirpped at us. Repeatedly.

Why couldn’t it chirp at us to tell us the battery was screwed? What did it have to sound like the Battle Stations klaxon onboard a Nuclear Submarine?


So I did the only sensible thing a half-asleep person with a chirping but batteryless smoke-alarm could do.

I went outside and locked the fucking thing in my car.

Then I made two mugs of tea, returned to bed and handed Soph hers.

We were still, frankly, in a state of shock; adrenaline coursed through our veins and our pulses were elevated.

We read for a while and then sleep arrived and eased itself in.

So that’s how my day started. It went rapidly downhill from there.

Worn out

It is only Saturday mid-afternoon and I feel drained.

We were up early and out of the house for an 09.00 appointment at Relate (I feel that the counsellor wanted us to explore sordid sexual details, which weren’t forthcoming. Oh no baby. We keep those things to ourselves!). As you would expect from the pair of us we were open and honest and good-natured.

Afterwards we braved the freezing gusts of blusterry galedom, walked in to the centre of Oxford and headed straight for a Latte.

What planet are people from? Those people. The girls walking around in leggings and vests with hideously large and ineffective belts slung around their waists?

Or those people, the ones in short skirts and strappy tops that show far too much cleavage when the temperature is a balmy (not!) six degrees?

I’m asking where these people come from because there were hundreds of them walking around the centre of Oxford today, all dressed as if they’d just jetted in from Bermuda. It wasn’t just the girls. Boys in shorts and t-shirts too. WTF?

Anyway, we warmed our hands and insides and cake may have been partaken.


Then we browsed HMV and bookshops and the shopping arcades and then we met Jaimie, a guy who wants to contribute to the podcast.

This makes two people, Jaimie and Will, who have volunteered to review, interview and record for This Reality Podcast. I’m very excited by their participation, drive and enthusiasm.

More hot drinks followed and then we said goodbye to Jaime and headed home for cuddles and snogs and a little fondling on the couch. This may have been followed by a doze on my part.

And now I have to get changed, go up to the yard and show Philippa how to drive my lorry because I said she could borrow it next weekend.

And then I shall ride the Vinster.

Then home again.

On the face of it I have done nothing today – except been out for six hours. But I am completely washed out.

The remains of the day

I am on the way home. It is 21.17, I’ll be home about 22.40. I’ve been up since 04.45. That, my friend, is a loooong day.

So I’m tired. And hungry. And hungry. And tired. And a little bit grumpy but that might be related to the tiredness. And the grumpiness.

[inserts random question: I’m going to record podcast episode 53 tomorrow afternoon. So what’s the worst job you’ve ever had? It could be a part-time or school holiday job. Comment here or email thisrealitypodcast@gmail.com with your answer]

The journey is going v.quickly but not quickly enough; I just want to be home.

Listening to a recording of Edith Murray interview Duffy at The Brits, it sounds like a mentally defective person talking to a mentally defective person. How on earth do these people manage to survive the rigours of day-to-day life in the 21st century? I’m asking because surely they’re not allowed out by themselves? I find that idea far too frightening.

Did Edith Murray go to the Fearne Cotton school of brain training? I’m not expecting a discourse on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics or even a synoptical statement on disambiguation… I would just like to hear a Q/A session between two people who might sound as if their combined IQ was marginally higher than 42.

Am I asking too much?

And he did say in a tired voice

Stone me, it’s ten past midnight and we’re still up?

I guess our body clocks must be on holiday time, but the inescapable fact is that even to our tired little selves, the hour of the duvet is upon us.

We’re watching City Slickers 2 (the legend of Curly’s Cold). It’s all about the lost ingredients list for a cure for the ‘flu.

Sophie just wants to make it very clear that Billy Crystal is under-rated. And very funny. Though not as funny as I am, obv.

But even the attractions of City Slickers 2 can’t keep the encroaching tiredness at bay any longer. But I have to tell you something about the film. The character ‘Norman’? It’s not played by the same actor who played ‘Norman’ in the first one.

And it’s also not played by the same actor who played ‘Norman’ Bates in Pyscho.

And it’s also not ‘Norman’ (Fatboy Slim) Cook. Not ‘Norman’ (Stormin’) Schwarzkopf either.

They’re screwin’ with your mind folks, they’re screwin with your mind.


What happens when you get tired?

No, seriously. What happens when you get tired?

With me, I get itchy.

My feet start to itch, my arms itch and my shoulders itch. And then my legs.

It’s a slow and gradual process.

But it kicks off when I get really tired. Not sleepy, this goes way beyond that. This is the point where I’m on the verge of falling asleep standing up; when I’m so tired that thinking straight is difficult.

And that’s me right now.

Itchy feet, itchy shoulders, itchy legs. And unable to think straight.

So it’s goodnight from me.

But before I go… what happens to you when you’re tired?


More alone than usual

Somehow it feels that I’m more alone than usual this week.

Yes, I’m in London but my house back home is empty. Sophie is also away this week. She’s at Aberystwyth on a week’s study course for her MSc.

That extra bit of distance between us, it’s added a slightly more melancholy flavour than usual to my week of being apart from her.


She’s either working her cute little bum off, or she’s being a student. If it’s the former… Awwww. If it’s the latter… [chews fingernails].

I’m keeping busy, it’s 22.55 and I’ve just finished work. Well yeah, I did have a break for tea around 19.30. Twenty minutes.

Since then I’ve written a UAT schedule and a draft plan for system testing.

And I’ve spoken to Daughter. We laughed. She soon hiccuped. I got the blame – go figure!

And an idea for a short story has occurred. I like it, but I can’t see a market for it. Perhaps I should just write it for fun and see where it takes me?

The trouble is that would take my writing away from Helicopter which is where it should be. Sigh.

I’m sitting here sipping cold tea listening to ATSBO – a piece of music I’ve fallen in love with in the last fortnight – thinking I should be doing something else.

I should be doing something more.

I should be doing something.

I know what this is.

This is not working with Vin; this is not working my arse off. This is being unfit and this is not getting any exercise.

It all changes in two weeks when we do The Move.

I feel it’s fair to do the Init Cap thing there; it is a phrase in its own right with a weight and magnitude behind it that is, somehow, more significant than any of the International moves I’ve done before. It is bigger than two words being side-by-side on this electronic piece of paper.

And I don’t know why. It just is.

I suppose it’s related to my own insecurities; natural enough really. And none of the other moves I’ve done had this new insecurity haunting me, following me around like a scary black shadow.

Tired.  So weary.


Saturday night in the house of big fun

The central heating boiler ticks off, the pipes that feed the hot water tank begin to cool almost immediately.

The noise they make sounds like some kind of thermally-driven metronome as it ticks down through the centigrade scale.

Apart from that cooling/ticking, the house is silent.

Through the windows the late-spring evening is also closing down, but here and there shafts of ultra-bright sunlight – that haven’t yet been hidden behind the neighbouring roofs – burst through and illuminate the trees; picking out the lighter greenery and the fading blossom.


The house isn’t totally silent after all.

The man sits on the couch in the lounge, laptop before him.

Tappety tap tappety tippety tappety tap; his fingers dance across the keyboard with great speed and accuracy.

He’s unshaven, hair ruffled; he looks weary.

His white T-Shirt carries humorous cartoons of Greek cats.

He’s also wearing a beige pair of lycra jodhpurs.

His laptop is connected to an iPod; the display indicates it is recharging.

The man pauses from his typing and looks around with tired eyes.

The house is neat, smells clean, but there’s also an additional scent that overlays the freshness of a pristine house.

The scent of expensive perfume.

It’s been five minutes since she closed the front door behind her, got in the car and drove away.

A girls’ night out.

A boy’s night in.

He sits, planning.

First a shower.

Then a shave – face and body.

Brush teeth.

Dry and comb hair.

And then the moment he is looking forward to.

To slide, illicitly – yet deliciously – in to bed.

To feel the crisp white sheet beneath him; the cool cotton duvet cover over his body.

He reflects that he could do anything he pleases.

There’s money and credit cards in his wallet, his car stands outside with a full tank of fuel.

His boundaries are limitless, he could spread his wings and travel far and wide.

But tonight he is content with an early night.

And a mug of hot chocolate, a large glass of squash – and a DVD of pulp.

Tonight this is his Heaven.

He hopes that when she comes in she doesn’t wake him.

But he’s already looking forward to the cool press of her naked body against his.


And so to bed

Yeah, I know that it’s only 19.26 (the time not the year).

But you know?

It would be really most excellent to be doing the going to bed thing right now.

I’m so tired.

I could do with a shower.

And brush my teeth.

And then just slide between the crisp white sheet and the lovely duvet.

With a good book close at hand (still working on the Haldeman).

Why am I so tired?

I really don’t have the faintest idea.

I just am.

Today, though, I have:

Migrated my iTunes library from the dear old laptop over to The World’s Fastest Laptop
Sorted out a drive mapping problem on the dear old laptop
Fixed an indexing problem on my iPod that’s been exercising my braincells for a couple of days
Driven to the yard, got Vin in and spent much happy time grooming him before and after work
Schooled Vin (flatwork), concentrating on evenness and balance in transitions
Stripped and cleaned the bridle
Stripped and cleaned the dressage saddle (leaving the jumping saddle still to do)
Washed out one of the grooming boxes and made it ready for Saturday
Watched Alien Vs Predator (AVP) – one of the pantest films in the history of pantsdom
Watched the last 20 minutes of Sleepless in Seattle
Watched the last 45 minutes of Hitchcock’s The Birds – now that really is a scary film (though there’s a really stupid bit in it when, during the height of the bird attacks in Bodega Bay, a radio announcer says ‘Bodega Bay has been cordoned off’. Why’s that then? To stop any more birds from driving in?)

I think the shower’s calling.

And then maybe – just maybe – the bed.


Sunday evening 19.47

The time, not the year…

It’s been a day.

We slept clinging to each other, as though we were survivors of a shipwreck, bobbing adrift in the ocean’s waves, not wanting to let go because to let go would mean separation and inevitably… loss.

OK, setting aside the metaphorical imagery for a moment, that’s how we really did sleep.

Clinging to each other.

It’s what we do.

We started with breakfast at Cafe Rouge in Worcester.

Then shopping, Christmas vouchers were finally spent in HMV where my personal haul was:

CD: Iron Maiden – Somewhere Back In Time
CD: Linkin Park – Meteora
CD: Led Zepplin – Four/Symbols
DVD: The Ronin

A little money was spent in Coffee Republic (cake-related things).

Then home to dispose of cake-related things, drink hot chocolate and then to bed.

Later, an episode of House.

Afterwards I threw on clothes and went to the yard, dragged Vin out of the field and spent ages grooming him (he’s still clinging to the remnants of the unclipped portion of his winter coat).

Then schooled – BE Test 102 – in preparation for Llanymynech Horse Trials (where the verdict will inevitably be guilty! – that’s a joke) which is suddenly very close (assuming we survive the ballot).

When I came home we walked to the corner shop, bought a few ingredients for tea, walked back, I prepared (most of) the meal, we scoffed.

Then I backed up the laptop, downloaded outstanding podcasts and synched my iPod while Soph did some ironing.

As soon as I’ve shut the laptop down I’m going upstairs for a shower.

In a few minutes we’re going to bed (shockingly early I know) – where we’re going to treat ourselves with one of the new DVDs.

And sleep.

It’s a very early start for me in the morning.

Tomorrow evening we have a Riding Club 2-phase at Lincomb (show jumping at 18.55, cross country at 20.05).

I’m going to have to leave work early in the afternoon to enable me to get to the yard, get Vin in, groom him, get the lorry out, get it loaded, get him aboard, drive to Lincomb, unload, boot up, tack up, get changed in to show jumping kit and work in prior to 18.55!

Frankly I’m bushed.