So Meesstair Bond Jones, we meet again.

My arch-enemyâ’s implacable bulk loomed immovably in front of me.

Actually I’m not sure if ‘loomed’ is the right word in this context.

The Bricklayers Arms, south London.

Let me explain.

I left Docklands yesterday evening at about 18.30.

And arrived in the house in Brixton at 20.10.

Yep, it took over an hour and a half to travel thirteen miles.


At 19.45 I was still only a hundred yards north of The Bricklayers Arms.

Staring at it.

The journey took so long my imagination kicked in.

It almost seemed to be taunting me, The Bricklayers Arms.

Its lip-curling sneer dared me to crawl another half metre further forward.

Suddenly its character changed from Blofeld to Harry (of the Dirty variety).

Think you can make it punk? Think you can get another handful of centimetres further forward, do ya? Go ahead and try punk. Make my day.

I looked around at the other road users and wondered if they too were having hallucinations.

The girl in the Porsche next to me seemed intent on collecting three points for nattering in to her mobile phone whilst at the wheel of the car.

She also spurned her compulsory seat belt.

I mentally composed a new public message seat belt campaign:
Notice to drivers, the penalty for not wearing your seat belt is deathâ’ – accompanied by a suitably gory picture.

Bit too hard core do you think?

The driver of the Lithuanian-registered builders van behind me picked his nose and flicked ash in to the lap of the motorcyclist; shoe-horned between the van and a traffic bollard the motorcyclist brushed the ash from his lap, raised his visor and shouted ‘Oi!’

The van driver either didnâ’t speak English or chose to ignore the motorcyclist’s existence.

I wondered if the Lituanian-registered van had any insurance.

It was an interesting spell of people-observation but I really could have been more productive.

Over an hour and a half!

Thirteen miles?

Welcome to 21st century London, folks.

Never can say goodbye

(1973 i think; gloria gaynor)


I finished Transport – a SciFi short story – last week.

Today I’ve just decided…

* that I haven’t finished it

* that I don’t like the middle section and

* that there could be a much more twistier ending.

So it’s not quite back to the drawing board because I do like the start.

And it’s a great hypothesis.

And I quite like the characters.

I just don’t like other bits.


I’m off for a beer now; R got the job and while I do feel for the other candidates who weren’t successful (let’s face it, we’ve all been there!) I am very happy for her.



Like a sad, tired old balloon.

My normal degree of energy, vitality, engagement and indeed good humour has fled.

Yesterday was not a good day and it finished in some not good style.

Today is a downwards-sloping continuation of that mood.

Reasons to be uncheerful? (oh God, I canâ’t believe I just did that to Ian Dury!)

Project 1: I donâ’t know why but I continue to be surprised (impressed, even!) at the polished ability that software companies have to tell a pack of downright, blatant lies.

Project 2: I have a mental question-mark about the degree of senior management buy-in for another project.

Project 3: Thereâ’s a doubt about the commercial understanding of another area of senior management.

I fell asleep with these things in my head last night; they were still there this morning.

Walking in from the car park I felt as though I was the central character in one of those clever TV adverts – where I’m standing still in my own world of isolation and the rest of humanity is speeding around me, carrying out their productive tasks like a team of worker ants.

The only soundtrack that fitted my mood this morning was the haunting Gong by Sigur Ros.

Isolated is the right word.

R has her interview today, we had a brief deskside chat; she’ll be fine, I’m confident of her ability.

Drinkies after work I reckon.


Dedicated to the one I love

I’ve been thinking.

It’s your birthday on Friday 29th June and you’ve cunningly taken that day and the next off.

And you’re going to come down to London village on Wednesday 27th June after work.
Thought 1:
I’m going to buy your ticket. Please don’t argue. Call it a treat. I’ll book it on-line and get it sent to the house.
NB to self… remind me to remind me to flippin’ well remind me (because I absolutely MUST NOT FORGET) to bring a birthday present or two and a card that might be roaming around the house down to London at the start of next week!
Thought 2:
It’s going to be lateish when you arrive at the London village train station. I’ll pick you up in the car. But because it’s going to be late I suggest we don’t go out Wednesday night; I’ll cook for us in Brixton (somewhere, out in the street, in someone’s car, haven’t decided where to cook yet).
Thought 3:
I’m working on Thursday; you’ll be fine in the house with Pete and/or Shane. I’m sorry that the shower-room is a building site. Blame Shane. I do. But the bathroom upstairs is very spacious and functional.
Thought 4:
If you want to meet for lunch on Thursday that would be nice, but as Thursday is your birthday there’s no pressure, just chill and enjoy yourself.
Thought 5:
After work we could be really daring and go out for the evening? Perhaps the West End? Or do you want to meet up with Sammi and/or any of your other London-based friends? Sorry, I’ve had another thought (let’s call it Thought 5b) – the upshot is we’re going out; it’s booked.
Thought 6:
Friday, I’m working again but will finish about 13.30 after which we can enjoy each other’s company on the Long March Home (to almost quote Mao Tse Tung).  We’ll probably get home between 16.00-17.00 depending on traffic and toilet breaks.
Thought 7:
Saturday, I’m not competing so we can spend the day together if you like? Potter around, do a bit of shopping in the morning?. The only thing on our calendar is that we have to be at a place an hour’s drive away from home for the early evening. Oh. Didn’t I tell you this?  Sorry. Perhaps we could nip off and see the boys around late morning then take a slow drive to our destination, stopping for lunch en-route, before we get to the thing?
Thought 8:
Sunday, no plans there either. Spend the day with me? Please? Except… if the weather’s nice perhaps we might pop down to Gloucestershire for a thing?

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.


It wasn’t love at first sight.

She didn’t look unpleasant as such.

Just not my type.

A bit on the small side.

Skinny too, painfully thin.

And a funny shape.

Not weird, just not completely normal; big bum, head slightly too large for her body, big bum, dumpy legs, big bum.

And she had a big bum.

But she looked at the world through the sweetest, gentlest, most trusting pools of soft brown eyes that I’ve ever seen.

Hypnotic eyes.

Trusting eyes.

Intelligent eyes.

With a lot of pain behind them.

We spent half an hour together.

And I decided to give things a go.

For the next six months Taal and I worked together.

I altered her diet, gave her a fitness and exercise plan and got a specialist remedial farrier to see to her poor, poor feet.

The first time I met Taal she had chronic laminitis in both front feet; was 100% lame.

Almost a year later we’d graduated from walking out in hand to lightly hacking around the Somerset countryside, frightening the living daylights out of motorists.

Eight months after that and we were taking part in fun rides and leaping over small fences.

We became well-known on the local show scene; that loony bloke and his equally mental mare.

We were together for six years, my Taaly and me; six tremendously fun-filled years.

Five years ago this summer she just stopped having fun.

A week later she was gone.

But the photos show her doing what she did best…

Having fun.

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?


Candles in the wind…


Phone call to Daughter.


She is unwell.


She has a runny nose and it’s sore.


But (bless) she’s determined that it won’t stop her from going to school tomorrow.

How so??

Because the school year is almost finished in Spain and prior to the start of three months summer holiday(!) it’s a big school Fiesta tomorrow.

Apparently she’s taking chicken sandwiches (every pupil takes at least one food ‘thing’).

She didn’t get her carnivore tastes from me.


Saturday, Dressage

Swallowfields, P10 and P18.

I rushed Vin through a hurried grooming, quickly stowed his dressage tack and the rest of the gear, loaded him, gave him a haynet to keep his mouth if not his brain busy, closed up the tail ramp and drove the lorry out of the yard at 09.20.

Unfortunately I had to stop for diesel en route, there was a queue at the garage and it was later than I would have liked when we arrived at the competition venue.

I unloaded Vin, groomed him again, tacked up, put my tie and jacket on and changed my wellies for my long leather riding boots, donned hat and gloves, mounted and walked to the working-in arena.

We got called forward to the huge indoor arena and I asked a member of staff to call my test for me.

Overall our first test (Prelim 10) was good but Vin wasn’t as forward-going as he normally is; perhaps he didn’t want to be there.

He gave me an incorrect canter strike-off – something he did a fortnight ago at Abbey Dressage – but at least this time he let me correct the movement.

Apart from this error he was only slightly argumentative.

The caller was absolutely brilliant and refused my offers of cups of tea, coffee and/or food from the caterer as payment.

In between tests I struck up a conversation with a couple whose lorry was next to mine.

Coincidence number 1: They were at my yard on Thursday preparing a stable for a friend of theirs.

Coincidence number 2: They saw and said hello to Beech.

Coincidence number 3: They’re at a livery yard run by my yard manager’s friend, just a few miles from me.

Nice couple.

After a cup of tea and a fried egg roll (yeah, sorry about that) I got Vin ready and we worked in slowly, concentrating on transitions again.

Our second test (Prelim 18) started well but went gradually downhill from there; incorrect canter strikeoff again (I’m really going to have to school this out of him), little displays of resistance and pockets of being argumentative.

Nope, Vin didn’t want to be there.

In retrospect I wonder if his attitude was down to the first thing he saw when I unloaded him at Swallowfield; a field full of showjumps?

Also, as we worked in for the dressage I could feel that he was very interested in the four or five cross-country fences plainly visible.

So perhaps he wanted to go jumping rather than do boring old dressage?


The second test wasn’t horribly bad, it just wasn’t terribly good.

Our mark for P10 came in at 54% and we got 52% for P18; not too bad considering.

I untacked, groomed and gave Vin his haynet which he fell on as if he hadn’t eaten for days.

I went off for another cup of tea and, ahem, another fried egg roll and sat and chatted to another couple of contestants from Chaddesley Corbett – also near my yard.

Then I put Vin in his stall, closed up the lorry and at 13.30 began the drive back to the yard.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the forum yard…

Driving through the narrow single-track lanes towards Hockley Heath…

Around the corner rather too-quickly for a country lane came a quick brand new unlicensed/unregistered Porsche.

It was obviously being test-driven by a potential buyer with the IBM-compatible-suited salesman in the passenger seat.

The look of absolute terror on the salesman’s face when they rounded the corner at 40 mph and found a ten-ton lorry occupying the width of the lane was absolutely priceless.

By 15.20 I was back at the house having returned to the yard, unloaded and groomed Vin, turned him out in his field, made a big fuss of Beech, put Vin’s tack away, mucked out the lorry, emptied the living accommodation of the usual day-out rubbish, photographed the lorry from three angles for the signwriter (tell you about that another time) and put it in its parking bay.