Not today you don’t

Nor tomorrow.

I’d planned to school Big Vin over showjumps today.

Big Vin fancied a weekend off.

When I went to get him out of the field I noticed straight away he only had three shoes on.

So I guess he won.


I spent some of the time productively; cleaned tack, shoved apples in to Beech and Vin (even if Vin didn’t deserve them for removing his off-fore shoe).

And now I’m back home, serious thinking done.

Cleaning tack is like that – productive time for serious thinking.


I’ve decided that I’m going to retire Beech; this fracture is one injury too many.

So once the vet’s given us the thumbs up I’ll start looking for a retirement home for him.



Gone shopping, slowly

It’s Friday evening so naturally I’m shopping at Morrisons, Bromsgrove.

Wild party animal that I am.

I’ve stopped off to have fun do the shopping on the way to pick up The Lovely S from work; she doesn’t finish until 20.15.

My boundaries of disbelief are under threat from a couple of directions.

Firstly, Morrisons management.

They’re twisted.

The store has two aisles near the exit that are designated as ‘express’ check-outs.

But they’re the two slowest aisles in the store.

The tills are designated as ‘Hand Baskets Only’ – and that’s great because by and large that’s the way it works.

But they’re still the two slowest aisles in the store.


Because the management (did I mention that they’re twisted?) put the slowest members of staff on the stores payroll on these tills.


Twenty six minutes to process the contents of four shopping baskets.

I kid you not.

Twenty six minutes!


But this evening I didn’t mind.

Oh no.

I didn’t mind because (and this is the second reason my boundaries of disbelief have been tested this evening)…

I was in front of a group of…

SuperChavs! (innit).

Look, what I’m about to say isn’t sexist, I’m just stating what I saw.

Five Chavettes – actually, SuperChavette – queuing behind me.

13 years old.

Lamb dressed as mutton; floating on a cloud of whatever cheap, nasty, tacky perfume they could spray on for free at the Boots Tester counter.

Garishly coloured, spangly tops; black. skin-tight slacks, open-toed sandals-with-heels.

Accents I can only describe as ‘Brummie-Lite’.

(‘Wotcha do a’school to die Shaz?’ that kind of thing)

Fake tannery underneath layers of makeup applied by builders’ trowel or powder-puffs the size of a bathroom sponge.

Hair styles that must have taken hours to gain the appearance of being so sculpted.

Each of these SuperChavettes carries a bottle of Lambrusco or similar whilst muttering almost silently how unworried they are about getting ID’d.

Guess what?

They got ID’d.

‘I’ve left it in moy car.’ Said the Senior SuperChavette.

‘That’s fine,’ said the checkout supervisor who had spotted the girls from a distance and intervened across the top of the store’s Slowest Checkout Operator.

‘I’ll wait here while you go out to the car park and get it.’

Unfortunately I couldn’t hear precisely what happened next because I had to finish packing my seven items of shopping and leave – I was beginning to look like either a sinister stalker or an escapee from the community mental health team.

But as I was driving out of the car park I did see all of the SuperChavettes leaving the store.

Sans bottles of wine.

Friday evening in Bromsgrove, ah we really know how to rock the world.


I really am crap at them.

There’s one coming up (not mine, naturally).

I’ve had plenty of notice.

But why is it that after I’ve listed the presents in my head as I’m driving home I think, ‘That’s rubbish! How much thought went in to that?’


Quite a lot.

I’m just rubbish at choosing presents Full Stop.

Why did I do that?

Put a ‘.’ After ‘Full Stop’.

I dunno.


Back to work.

I’m an addict and I have sinned

Bloody bookshops.

Shouldn’t be allowed!

I now have a copy of Dick Francis’ latest paperback ‘Under Orders’ and Billy Bragg’s exploration of ‘Britishness’, ‘The Progressive Patriot’.

Like, I have time for such fripperies as reading?

I mean.

I’m getting a bit freaked out by the lack of spare time in my life as it is.

And I’ve gone out and bought two books – two books!?

Whatz goin’ on?

Sorry about that bit of Chav-speak there.

The Lovely S works in a library ferchrisake.

And if that’s not enough we have a spare room that resembles a, well, a library.

I know she loves books, just as I do, but I’m supposed to be able to pull back and say ‘Oi Mr Bookseller, no! I don’t have the time for your tree-grown version of crack cocaine. Leave it!’

But no, not me.

I said: ‘Oooh, buy one get one half price? That’ll do nicely.’

What a twonk.


Saw a copy of my book in Waterstones the other day.

At least it wasn’t in the remaindered bin.

The sound of silence

The sound of silence goes like this (are you ready?)…

Faintly in the distance: Meow?


Then, still faintly in the distance but coming closer: Meow, meow, meow? Prrrtt? Meow?

And then, close by: MEOW!!

You wouldn’t believe it but the cat in question is the other side of my bedroom door.

What, I hear you ask, is the cat doing inside my bedroom?


It’s me that’s inside my bedroom, the cat’s on the landing, OK?

Pete and Shane have gone away for a few days leaving the shower room unfinished and the cats (sometimes none, other times one and infrequently two) marauding around the house demanding attention.

How come they’re so loud, cats (cats obviously; I haven’t the faintest idea how loud Pete and Shane are) – the Scilly Isles being out of listening range)?

They’re tiny.

Cats, not Pete and Shane.

Perhaps they have built-in amplifiers?

Perhaps that’s why they walk around with their tails lifted high like that?

Not so that you can admire (eew) their bum’oles – but so the mini-loudspeaker cunningly located underneath their tails can get a good shout out.

Now there’s a thought I didn’t want to have.


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.