bookmark_borderShared a moment

A doctor came to see me at work here in south London, he needed some tech support and noticing my accent he asked me where was I from? I told him a little fishing port in Northern Ireland, a longggggg time ago.

I looked at him and knew immediately he was ex-army. When you grow up through ‘The Troubles’ you know instinctively who’s army/police and who’s not, it’s a survival instinct.

He said to me “I lost a few mates over there in ’85, all at the same time”.

And he looked at me, I looked at him and we both know what he’s talking about, I’ve heard this before and there’s very little you can say apart from “I’m so so sorry, it was a terrible terrible time..” and we shared the moment..

And he continued, in a very sombre tone “Aye, they were in an army truck…” and I know what’s coming next, a fucking massive roadside bomb..

“and a tree fell on them..!”

“apparently the IRA planted it”

Fuck me! Bastard! IT’S THAT OLD JOKE! I burst out laughing, more out of relief, thinking thank Christ!

He had me going there for a minute, SUCH an old joke! I just didn’t expect to hear it in a hospital in south London of all places, he well and truly caught me out. I wonder just how long he’d been waiting for that moment, 35 years?? His life is now complete, I bet he punched the air when he left the office!

bookmark_borderTo shave or not to shave. Now THAT is the question!

Beards and soup are mortal enemies
Beards and soup, mortal enemies

It’s the start of summer 2020 and I’ve been avoiding my fellow (in)human beings since early March. Walking the streets of London these last few months feels like accidentally straying onto a Zombie movie set, where is everyone? The first time I really noticed it was when I was walking up the road and a woman nearly threw herself into the hedge trying to avoid me (the story of my life sweetheart, the story of my life!)  

My feeling is this is going to go on for a few years (!) and I’ve been thinking my usual left of field thoughts. I wish I was a Hamster and could hibernate, or go into suspended animation until a working vaccine is available. And then I was wondering, how come in SciFi movies everyone comes out of suspended animation clean shaven and not looking like furballs? I’ve stopped shaving as frequently, sporting the Werewolf look, what’s the point, and now I’m wondering why we actually shave?

Historically, shaving was simply more hygienic. Lice were rampant but washing in freezing cold water wasn’t something to look forward to. Alexander the Great told his soldiers to shave because it was easier to fight and avoid beard grabbing. Men who did not shave were considered barbarians.

But why do woman shave the parts of their bodies that aren’t pubicly – sorry publicly – visible? Social convention? Hugh Hefner and Playboy didn’t help, it seems to me that the big push came around that period (ouch!) but I’d love to know what the Victorians attitude was. Most of us have access to clean water for washing, so the lice argument is null and void and yet we’ve become accustomed to shaving frequently. On average men spend about 125 days per lifetime shaving and research by Emma Leslie of Escentual.com shows these surprising figures for ladies;

Shaving legs- 72 days a lifetime
Styling hair- 294 days a lifetime
Plucking eyebrows – 30 days a lifetime
Taking off your make-up- 52 days a lifetime
Applying fake tan- 12 days a lifetime
Dying your hair- 23 days a lifetime
Body moisturising- 44 days a lifetime
Painting nails- 20 days a lifetime
Exfoliation- 20 days a lifetime
Pedicures-11 days a lifetime

Of course this is from the very selective audience of a beauty products website so the figures are going to be VERY slanted, I don’t know anyone who spends 12 days, or even 12 minutes applying fake tan which reminds me of this little story.

A long time ago I was sharing a flat with a female friend. She was going through a dry run re: boyfriends but one morning I was having a shower and the shower pan started to fill up with water. I was puzzled and mentioned this to my housemate. She looked suitably embarrassed and said “Oh, I’ve got a date tonight – so thought I’d better get the razor blade out..!” Gross!

ANYWAY…. the interesting aspect of all this social isolation is it gives one time to really think and ruminate, to take stock and figure out what kind of person you really are. We never really get much chance to think and ruminate, do we? We start school and then it’s full on until retirement, study study study work work work boom dead! But now we’ve got time to think and ruminate, to really focus on the bigger life questions; where are you going, how is your life, what do you really want, what is the meaning of life, are you going to eat that last Rolo, you know, just the important stuff..

George Sands wrote “There is only one happiness in this life; to love and be loved.” I agree with this sentiment to some degree but George Sands has obviously never tried a White Chocolate Magnum ice lolly on a hot summers day! I think there are many many happiness spread all through our lives, just walking around the (now packed!) park yesterday listening to the children laughing/playing and the birds singing brings me and I’m sure everyone a sense of happiness.

As Philip Gould approached his final days he wrote movingly in the Guardian “I live by the day. Just sitting in the park, looking at the flowers thinking how beautiful they are. It’s almost … not hallucinogenic but it’s a much stronger feeling than previously. For me, at the moment, going for a walk in the park with Gail is heaven.” We, who can see this, understand this, it brings deep joy.

bookmark_borderBelfast 1976. Troubles..what Troubles?

I recently found the above video of Belfast from 1976. Goodness, that brought back memories! My friends and I were regular visitors to the city centre, mostly because the shops at home were crap, These days we are all used to Amazon shopping but to my 15 year old self everything of importance was in the mecca of Belfast, a range of comics, toys, gadgets and games that was impossible to source anywhere else.

To get into the city centre we had to go through security barriers, these barriers surrounded a two mile wide section of the centre so it was stop and get searched, everyone, old, young, babies as well. The security people would wave an electronic magic wand over your body that apparently detected explosives! Then it was into one of the large department stores but again checked at the entrance, the ladies would have their handbags checked again. After a while this just became instinctive, it became a matter of life, a habit, you could only enter a store via one door and you’d automatically raise your arms to be searched at the door.

My first trip overseas (well, to us the Isle of Man was overseas, we had to get a boat there!) was a revelation, I walked into Marks & Spencer and stopped by the door waiting to get searched, the customers behind me walked past me, it was very strange NOT to get frisked when entering a large store. Old habits..

Even when I moved to London it took me quite some time to get out of the reflex of looking for the security guy to frisk me, it’s interesting what becomes ‘normal’. Walking around in Belfast you’d become oblivious to the bombed/firebombed shells of stores, life went on. Every five years or so the IRA would place car bombs in our local town and blow up the Co-op, Woolworths and Wellworths, there was a rhythm to it and we all just got used to it.

I know this may seem frankly bizarre to non-war torn cities but here’s two points to remember.

  1. On the telly there may have been a mob of rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs(!) at the police and army, BUT at the same time there were 1.5 million people NOT throwing stones and petrol bombs at the police.
  2. My friends and I were surrounded by armed police and army in ‘meat wagons’, loyalist and paramilitary groups marching around (when the coast was clear), frequently I watched controlled explosions of suspect devices, I was there when bombs went off in my home town and in Belfast, all this was happening; kneecapping, rioting, murders – but to a 15 year old living through all this, my greatest stress BY FAR was making sure I got my Maths homework in on time to Mr Macaulay, our dreaded Maths teacher! Life is strange, isn’t it?

bookmark_borderThe joy (and burden) of the sisterhood.

Ladies who do lunch

I was wandering around Sainsburys this morning when along came a little girl chat-chat-chat-chat-chat-chatting away with her dad. I watched them slowly go down the aisle with this constant chat between them. Everyone was smiling. It was super sweet to see, and yet just another reminder just how verbally stunted we men as a species are.

The longer I walk this planet the more time I have to observe life, and more importantly, re-form my opinions!

This has been happening quite a lot these last few years. I’m becoming increasingly aware of the differences betwix the two sexes and increasingly envious, yes, envious, of almost every women’s ability to communicate, to network, to be part of such a big collective, a sisterhood, in ways we men can only imagine.

Despite constant and pervasive historic neurosexism, modern neuroscientists have identified no decisive, category-defining differences between the brains of men and women. In women’s brains, language-processing is not spread any more evenly across the hemispheres than it is in men’s, as a small 1995 Nature study proclaimed but a large 2008 meta-analysis disproved.

So it’s a mystery to me (and the subscribers of Nature) as to why women are so expert in communication (and the subtle nuances) and men seem to be real dullards. The current thinking is that the brain is no more gendered than the liver or kidneys or heart but women’s brains are thought to be wired for empathy and intuition, whereas male brains are supposed to be optimized for reason and action. Most of us remain strapped in the “biosocial straitjackets” that divert a basically unisex brain down one culturally gendered pathway or another

I watch family, friends and work colleagues chatting away ten to a dozen, and how important it is, how natural, how fulfilling, it’s that networking, the social oil between each other that makes me so envious. We don’t get that, we have to go to football matches in tribes to even get a glimpse of that comradeship that comes naturally to almost every woman I know. We men are walking this planet tongued tied and handicapped.

When does this difference start? A colleague thinks it starts at school, that great big melting pot of primary school is torn asunder with our tendency to split high school into boys/girls only. But I think it starts off even earlier than that, my own anecdotal evidence suggests right from learning the first few words of a language. Observing very young children it’s obvious that it’s the girls that do much more of the chatting, just like the little girl in Sainsburys this morning. Boys tend to be much quieter and when the dreaded puberty and high school hits we shut down even more, resorting to grunts. If you’ve ever had the (mis)fortune to sit on a bus that’s just picked up a load of high school girls going home the clatter is almost deafening. That wasn’t how it was on our school buses, there was very little chat – apart from the sixth formers at the back, hurling the usual abuse at everyone, which wasn’t conducive to friendly chat!

As I get older, my overriding impression is that a women’s world is so much richer than a man’s, we walk this planet almost completely switched off. Of course, this is a generalisation, guilty as charged. There are blokes who can talk the hind leg off a donkey, I met up with two of them a while back and I just couldn’t get a word in edgewise, it’s like a competition between them. And the local drunks who stand outside the off licence seem to be engaged in constant seemingly pointless conversation between themselves – even if standing alone!

And I’m aware this can be a two-edged sword; woman seem to be more adept at the complexities of large group interpersonal relationships; who’s in, who’s out, and nuances that pass me by. We men only have the cello to play with but woman have the entire orchestra at their disposal. I know our lives are poorer for it.

bookmark_borderHey Good Looking..

Yup, I'm looking at YOU
Yup, I’m looking at YOU

In my bathroom I have the illustrated words, and every time I’m in there (which trust me, in my gathering years is more and more frequently!)  it makes me think. I put it in there not just for the boys but for me too. I imagine the boys think it’s directed at them and to a very large extent it is but it’s also directed at each of us, each and every one of us.

We are all loved, each and every one of us, and not just by family and friends but by God, the Creator, the Universe, the Source, call it whatever you like, but that feeling you have towards your children, that pure pure pure love, s/he feels the exact same way about all of us, every single soul on this planet, no matter how hairy we are!

bookmark_borderHappily Ever After

shrek--fiona,

Dear children..

Once upon a time in a very strange land called Singledom, there lived an ever so slightly green (and occasionally windy) ogre called Grog. He wasn’t rich, famous or even particularly clever but he was kind, decent, had a good heart, and really, that’s all that mattered to him.

Before making the long trek to the land called Singledom he lived in a very popular land called Marriagedom where he had many great adventures, escapades, near misses and the occasional pratfall because, if truth be told, he really was quite an adventurous ogre! By some mysterious magic which he didn’t fully understand, he had somehow managed to grow two baby ogres (it was a mystery wrapped in an enigma), they turned out to be greener and much smellier than him! (Yes, I know, hard to believe!)

However, now he lived in Singledom and golly gosh, wasn’t it a spooky place, full of other ogres, old dragons and some really quite scary monsters, occasionally even he had quite a fright! He’d lived there for well more than ten years and yet even after all that time, he still hadn’t figured out the very odd ways there.. (Yes, he really was quite dim, an intellect rivalled only by garden tools)

For starters, he checked out some of the inmates – oops sorry, I mean inhabitants – passport photos and he was surprised at how different the photos were from the actual inhabitant. “I’ve put some weight on since that photo was taken” seemed to be a common refrain or “did I not mention my co-joined twin?”. In all fairness, it seems the male inhabitants of that land were very partial to the same behaviour too, one of his ogre friends went to meet her 6ft ‘athletic build’ ogre date, it turns out he was 4ft and circular! Cor blimey mate! I guess he worked in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

And then there were the natives who didn’t actually live there, they were illegal immigrants! How naughty! Big chief ogre Trump nearly choked on his cornflakes! They earnestly told him they had full residential status but when he checked they actually lived in his old neighbourhood country Marriagedom and had sneaked into Singledom just to play with the toys! Hiss! Boo! Durty Rotten Scoundrels!

The other thing the green-ish one found a bit difficult was the language barrier. He spoke English (well, OK, maybe with quite a strong Irish brogue but still recognisably English!) but over there it was a very curious version. For example, he didn’t understand LOL, AFAIK, CU, FWIW or SFLR, he wondered – was it Welsh?

Plus the really odd names like BigButts and Glitterfarts, he would never name his little ogres that, no matter how smelly they got! He found grammar rules seemed very loose, a few of the natives didn’t seem to know the difference between there, they’re and their or your and you’re or to, too and two, and hadn’t a clue what a serial comma was (hint – you just passed one, now wash your hands).

And then there was the idea of an actual date. In the swamp where he was hatched, dating meant meeting up and spending time with the same lovely lady ogre, at least until they both decided they were flogging a dead horse (or a dead donkey!) (oh poor donkey!) but in Singledom they used an expression he had never come across before. Apparently one would date lots of ogres all at the same time and then eventually settle on one by saying “Shall we date exclusively?”

Well, he thought, that was very… ummm.. modern..

Singledom was awash with strange customs, some inhabitants appeared happy to write endless messages but when it came to actually meeting up they seemed extremely reluctant. This threw the green one somewhat, in his hatchling days this was known as ‘having a penpal’!

And some inhabitants seemed to have extremely poor social skills, they seemed incapable of saying anything more than “Hi”, “Hello” or “HiYa?”. The big green one suspected they just repeated the same message to everyone in Singledom parrot fashion no matter what but that would just be really annoying. Silly ogre, surely they wouldn’t do that, would they??

Then one day the green-ish one was contacted by a dusky maiden in a land far away called Nigeria. She told him that God had spoken to her in a dream and informed her that she and the green one were going to get married, have lots of little ogres and relocate to a magical castle in a land far far far far far away called Scotland. All he needed to do was send her 400 gold coins to buy a magic carpet and she’d be there in a jiffy.

He thought this sounded wonderful and readily agreed but did ask her as to why God just didn’t make the 400 gold coins appear on her pillow? Very confusingly, this angered her greatly, she swore at him and she cursed him, she cursed his little ogres and she cursed his pet hamster.

Snowy hasn’t been the same since!

Another time he was contacted by a Princess from the land called Arabia telling him that he was her dream ogre! Wow! She was very very much younger than him but a lovely shade of green and suitably round absolutely everywhere. He couldn’t understand why she hadn’t been betrothed to some gallant knight before him but he was really pleased and enormously complimented, this was more like it, she seemed completely genuine!

Then she told him a great secret, she had secreted away a huge treasure chest full of gold and silver coins! Wow! He couldn’t believe his luck! She wanted him to look after it for her and she would share it with him, she just needed his bank account details and she guaranteed he would get a large tax free share of it!!

Oh my goodness gracious me! What luck!

He wrote back immediately asking what a bank account was, (he’d never had one of those) but then tragedy must have struck because she immediately disappeared right after that. How peculiar..

One day another inmate contacted him from Singledom, she seemed just as genuine as all the other but he feared she had a broken pencil because her message was full of errors;

Hello, Nice meeting you,how are you? Hope your are alright. my name is sally! i have interest in you that makes me leave a massage for you and also I wants you as a friend also want you to right me. i like green skin. tell me were you leave and also send me your pictures; Is my plesure to meet you here in this site. Yours sincerly Miss sally!

Well, at least Miss Sally seemed completely legit.

One day he was contacted by another inmate, she seemed VERY friendly! Her name was Pussy Galore. She was having a party at her swamp with lots of other ogres and wondered if Grog would like to join them. She mentioned she had lots of swings installed and they would be having a swingers party! What fun. He couldn’t wait.

Then he thought he might try visiting the market town called Waitrose. He’d heard it was a very big market with lots of very high class tasty morsels. There was food too! He went there one afternoon with his wooden shopping cart hoping to fill it up with some beauties but all to no avail. He placed himself by the freezer cabinet and struck his best pose; chest out, bottom in but not one single damsel came along to help him. Oh Bother! He couldn’t stay there too long, it was very chilly on his willy!

Then he heard about Cinderella meeting her Prince Charming at the ball, so off he went to the local Tavern called Stringfellows. He put on his best suit and hit the dance floor, who could resist? He was sure he could impress the local maidens with his Monster Mash, his Gangnam Style Funky Chicken, his Mashed Potato and then his Hokey Cokey (cos that’s what it’s all about!). Sadly the maidens in Stringfellows were immune to his charms (and his Harlem Hustle) and he was asked to leave after being too enthusiastic with The Bump. Oh his poor Achy Breaky Heart.

Poor Grog, he was getting a bit bored with all the shenanigans of Singledom and wondered if a life as a trappist monk awaited him, or a life tending his swamp with his over-talkative donkey, he wasn’t sure which fate was worse.. He had travelled the length and breadth of Singledom, from the icy north beyond the Great Wall of Hadrian (protecting the island from the fearsome white walkers) to the very southern lands of ancient Cornish (who made the most delicious ice cream!) but all to no avail..

BUT THEN.. when he had pretty much given up..something happened. Completely randomly, after many many false starts he finally met a fair maiden called Mog, another long suffering inhabitant of Singledom. She had just as many tales to share with him, all of them sounding strangely familiar..

She had smarts, was strong, was feisty, could hold a tune and could out-stink even him! They spent a lot of time chatting, laughing, arm wrestling, mud bathing and cutting the cheese. It seemed too good to be true!

And then one evening Grog treated Mog with kindness, love, respect, tenderness, burned weevils and a lovely bunch of weeds when something absolutely magical happened, she rolled onto her back and was transformed into a purring pussycat!

Holy Smoke! This was cat-astrophic!

He was completely and utterly allergic to moggies!

He swore never ever to do that again!

(This explained why she was very mewsical!)

But Grog had fallen for her deeply, so he purrsuaded her to come with him to consult with the witch of Boots The Alchemist. She told them she couldn’t break the spell; treat Mog lovely and she would be transformed into a purring moggy….however, the witch could adjust the spell for a small fee, so instead of transforming into a cat – she would be transformed into a DOG! And not one of those silly yappie poodle dogs but a proper ogre sized dog, one that came up to his knees!

This was the best of both worlds; feisty, fighty, funny, flirty, frisky, farty and furry all rolled up into one, she was the ideal companion! His friends said she was literally a bit of a dog and a bit ruff-ruff but Grog didn’t give a hoot, he thought she was a real hot dog! He loved her very very much and soon afterwards they moved to the land called Happily Ever After

The End

bookmark_borderThe Meaning of Life?

 

On the very first day, God created the Ox. He said to the Ox, “As an Ox, you must go to the field with the farmer all day long. You will work all day under the sun! You will work hard to provide for your calves, they must always come first, and you will do this for 60 years.”
The Ox replied, “What? That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for 60 years? Let me have 20 years, that’s more than enough and the 40 years I’ll give back to you.”
So God said OK.

On the second day, God created the monkey. He said to the monkey, “You will entertain people. You’ll make them laugh, do monkey tricks, be mischievous and do this for 20 years”
The monkey protested. “What? Make them laugh? Do monkey faces and tricks? Ten years will do, and the other 10 years I’ll give you back.”
So God was getting annoyed but agreed.

On the third day, God created the dog. God said to the dog, “You are to sit all day by the door of your house. Any people that come past, you will bark at them and pass comment of them and do this for 20 years.”
The dog objected, “What? All day long to sit by the door? No way! I’ll give you back 10 years of life!”
So God was pissed but agreed.

On the fourth day, God created man and said to him, “Your job is to sleep, eat, and play. You will enjoy life very very much. All you need to do is to enjoy and do nothing. For this kind of life, I’ll give you a 20 year life span.” The man objected. “What? Such a good life! Eat, play, sleep, do nothing? Enjoy the best and you expect me to live only for 20 years? No way, man… why don’t we make a deal? Since the cow gave you back 40 years, the dog gave you back 10 years, the monkey gave you back 10 years, I will take them from you!” So God, really pissed now, agreed.

AND THAT’S WHY….
In our first 20 years, we eat, sleep, play, get taken care of, have no bills to pay, no responsibilities, enjoy the best and get to sleep in as long as we like..
THEN for the next 40 years, we work our arses off all day long, do overtime, sweat in our chosen field, worry and stress and do what it takes to support our family.
THEN for the next 10 years, we entertain our grandchildren by making monkey faces and monkey tricks and make them laugh and giggle. They absolutely love us.
AND for the last 10 years, we stay at home, sit by the front door and bark at everyone coming past and pass comment on them.
That is the meaning of life.

Woof! Woof!

bookmark_borderHumans. MkIII

Screw British Airways!

I’ve been thinking (yeah, I know, it’s a habit I’m trying to get out of) about evolution and Darwin again. It occurs to me that humankind really are the model T Fords of the animal kingdom. Pigeons, tortoises, dogs, cats, cheetahs and a whole host of animals plainly and very obviously appeared after us.

Take pigeons for example. When I go to the bathroom there’s two exit points built into my body; one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. Pigeons just coo coo chuckle at that, they only have one exit point, both solid and liquid get excreted at the same exit, this vastly decreases the chance of constipation, haemorrhoids and a hole (oops! whole!) host of lower bowel conditions. What’s more, they get to fly everywhere. No walking for them, no traffic jams and no two hour check-in before boarding a flight to Spain.

And then tortoises and turtles. Hey, no having to work your ass off for 40 years to pay off your mortgage. Why bother when you carry your home around with you on your back. Provide your kids with a home, what..but they already have one! Want to go live in a nicer greener part of the town. Just take a walk and job done!

Dogs? They get to run a lot faster and longer than us mere humans. No tube or bus for them, they’re already at work! Clothing? What’s that for? They’ve got built in clothing. Sense of smell? A gazillion times better than humans. Yup, that lasagne is 100% off (but I’m still going to eat it!) and then I’m going to lick your face..

Cats? Stools, ladders, scaffolding…in cat world these don’t exist, just climb up the bleeding tree. Fall off from great height, don’t worry, they always land on their feet. Worst case scenario, hey, we’ve got nine lives. And you wonder why they sit at home judging us, thinking what bleeding dim humans..

Cheetahs? Bye-bye public transport. No excuses to be late for work ever again.

I can’t understand why I haven’t got a Nobel Prize for all this work!

bookmark_borderHumans. MkII

It occurs to me that when The Committee upstairs made humans they made one small but rather short-sighted mistake. They got rid of the tail. Now, I can see the logic in this, it gets caught in doors, it gets in the way of sitting down and clumsy clods can step on it, but I still think it was a mistake and here’s why.

I looked after a friend’s dog a while back and I never once had wonder if he was happy or sad, it was always obvious from his tail, was it wagging (thankfully usually always) or was it down betwixt his legs. And the thing about dogs and tails is, there’s no hiding emotions, there’s complete honestly all the time, you know if he’s pleased to see you or not, but with humans, well, we’ve become very adept at hiding our true feelings and I’m not sure this is always a good thing. I can see occasions when it is (particularly when dealing with children) but most of the time it’s not. A lot of people hide their true feeling, be it love, hate, irritation, fear, happy or sad and I wonder what kind of world we’d have if we could always tell the emotional state of those around us, if there was always truth in communication, like it was the most natural thing in the world (as it should be), dogs, cats, in fact most animals seem to get along fine with tails..

So I’d like to propose to the The Powers That Be that when we all blow ourselves to bits or a giant meteorite wipes out humans like the dinosaurs, that the next version has a tail and keeps it. Then there will be that honesty in communication; lovers, family, friends, politicians, we’ll be able to see instantly if they’re happy or sad, there won’t be any hiding of feelings. I realise that this will put everyone involved in the duster trade out of business because we’ll all have our own built-in duster but I think that’s a small price to pay for enhanced communication.

octopus

Actually, I’ve been thinking about this a bit more and have decided upon a few more improvements. I really don’t understand why we only have two arms and hands, I’d be much more productive with six or even eight arms …chat on the phone, use two keyboards at same time and scratch my bits all at the same time…and when it comes to rumpy-pumpy..well……….

Plus I’ve decided it would be really useful to have a USB port built in, this would make life simpler for a variety of ways, for starters I’d never lose my tunes, I’d just upload them into my noggin…and then files, documents, photos..all uploaded into my massive brain…but the really important function would be to connect to another person and have that complete connection, being able to communicate feeling and emotions completely without inaccurate words getting in the way…. and the icing on the cake, when I’m knackered I could just plug myself into a wall socket and recharge myself… win-win! You heard it here first God!

bookmark_border37 Rules For Life.

assholes

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
2. Don’t worry about what people think, they don’t do it very often.
3. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
5. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.
6. My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
7. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
8. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention! It never fails.)
9. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
10. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
11. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
12. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so good.
13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
14. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
15. No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
16. A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
17. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
18. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.
19. Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
20. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
21. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
22. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
23. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
24. Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
25. It ain’t the jeans that make your butt look fat.
26. If you had to identify, in 1 word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, & never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”
27. There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.”
28. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
29. You should not confuse your career with your life.
30. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
31. Never lick a steak knife.
32. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.
33. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.
34. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
35. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
36. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
37. Your friends love you anyway.

bookmark_borderDarwinism Disproven

photo

I think it’s time for me to collect yet another Nobel Prize as I have come up with final proof that Darwinism – whilst a lovely logical notion – is complete bollocks. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’ve come to realise that natural selection has a very obvious fatal flaw – or maybe that should be paw..

You see, according to natural selection the male of the species should get more colourful with each passing generation to attract the female of the species and pass on his genetic code. If one looks at the peacock then this would seem the obvious answer, the hen is plain but the male has developed this amazing fan tail of feathers and this is repeated across the bird kingdom, the only exception is the eclectus parrot where the female is multi-coloured but the male is plain green.

So, that seems simple and straight forward enough. But there’s a problem with that theory. You see, if that was the case then most human males would look remarkably more like little furry puppies with each passing generation.

Perhaps I should explain. I’ve doggie-sat occasional for friends and taken dogs for nice long walks in the park and without exception the female of our species will always come over and talk to the doggie and even stroke it’s tum if given half a chance. They pretty much ignore me but the mutt get’s them coo-ing endlessly. Ironically, puppies are like female cat-nip.

So, according to natural selection men should be by now at least a little bit furry, have big shiny eyes, floppy ears, a wet nose and pant a lot. Now I know that some men are heading that way, I pant a lot when I see an attractive woman and the urge to hump her leg doggie style is almost overwhelming but I resist the urge. One of my friends is indeed very hairy – his wife says it’s like sleeping with a Werewolf, but generally looking around at the male of the species I think it’s never going to happen, I seriously doubt that a million generations down the line that we’re all going to look like Scooby Do.

I wonder when I can collect my Nobel Prize?

bookmark_borderIt’s more than just a car..

amadog

An unlucky lady drove into my parked car last week, mine and the car behind it. She was distracted, lost control and bashed into my car and then the car behind me at some speed. Fortunately she was totally unharmed, just shocked but all three cars were totally wrecks.The insurance man came, took one look at my wreck and said it was uneconomical to repair, it would be scrapped.

Now, here’s the thing. I’ve had that car for a few years now and it’s never let me down, it always started first time, everything works as it should (or did!) and I’ve travelled all over the country in it. It’s the most reliable car I’ve ever had. And now it’s going to be scrapped.

We men shouldn’t get attached to lumps of metal but here’s what it feels like. It feels like I’ve had a faithful dog, one that I’ve had for many a year, it’s been totally faithful, it’s never bit me, it’s never even peed on the carpet. It’s never refused to go for a walk and has been 100% obedient and loyal.

And then last Saturday morning it was sitting outside, completely minding it’s own business and a stranger came along and carelessly stepped on it’s paw and broke it. Completely at random, wrong place, wrong time. And then the vet has come along and said “Nope, I’m afraid I have to put him to sleep..”. And I protest but the vet says “it’s OK, you can get another one exactly like that..” but that just feels wrong, this dog never bite me, was innocently minding it’s own business and completely faultless but still it has to be put down. I looked at the car and it looked back with it’s big doleful eyes that said “what happened, I don’t understand???”

I feel bad for him. I’m not sure if cars have souls but if mine does then I hope he’s racing around some race track in heaven enjoying himself and having a ball. He was my best car ever.

bookmark_borderUSA v UK

america

I found this on the interweb the other day;

I was in England again a few weeks ago, mostly in small towns, but here’s some of what I noticed:
* Almost everyone is very polite
* The food is generally outstanding
* There are no guns
* There are too many narrow stairs
* Everything is just a little bit different
* The pubs close too early
* The reason they drive on the left is because all their cars are built backwards
* Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.
* You’d better like peas, potatoes and sausage
* Refrigerators and washing machines are very small
* Everything is generally older, smaller and shorter
* People don’t seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government
* Their paper money makes sense, the coins don’t
* Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare
* Hot and cold water faucets. Remember them?
* Pants are called “trousers”, underwear are “pants” and sweaters are “jumpers”
* The bathroom light is a string hanging from the ceiling
* “Fanny” is a naughty word, as is “shag”
* All the signs are well designed with beautiful typography and written in full sentences with proper grammar.
* There’s no dress code
* Doors close by themselves, but they don’t always open
* They eat with their forks upside down
* The English are as crazy about their gardens as Americans are about cars
* They don’t seem to use facecloths or napkins or maybe they’re just less messy than we are
* The wall outlets all have switches, some don’t do anything
* There are hardly any cops or police cars
* 5,000 year ago, someone arranged a lot of rocks all over, but no one is sure why
* When you do see police they seem to be in male & female pairs and often smiling
* Black people are just people: they didn’t quite do slavery here
* Everything comes with chips, which are French Fries. You put vinegar on them
* Cookies are “biscuits” and potato chips are “crisps”
* HP sauce is better then catsup
* Obama is considered a hero, Bush is considered an idiot.
* After fish and chips, curry is the most popular food
* The water controls in showers need detailed instructions
* They will boil anything
* Folks don’t always lock their bikes
* It’s not unusual to see people dressed different and speaking different languages
* Your electronic devices will work fine with just a plug adapter
* Nearly everyone is better educated then we are
* If someone buys you a drink you must do the same
* There are no guns
* Look right, walk left. Again; look right, walk left. You’re welcome.
* Avoid British wine and French beer
* It’s not that hard to eat with the fork in your left hand with a little practice. If you don’t, everyone knows you’re an American
* Many of the roads are the size of our sidewalks
* There’s no AC
* Instead of turning the heat up, you put on a jumper
* Gas is “petrol”, it costs about $6 a gallon and is sold by the liter
* If you speed on a motorway, you get a ticket. Period. Always
* You don’t have to tip, really!
* Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall really are different countries
* Only 14% of Americans have a passport, almost everyone in the UK does
* You pay the price marked on products because the taxes (VAT) are built in
* Walking is the national pastime
* Their TV looks and sounds much better then ours
* They took the street signs down during WWII, but haven’t put them all back up yet
* Everyone enjoys a good joke
* There are no guns
* Dogs are very well behaved and welcome everywhere
* There are no window screens
* You can get on a bus and end up in Paris
* Everyone knows more about our history then we do
* Radio is still a big deal. The BBC is quite good
* The newspapers can be awful
* Everything costs the same but our money is worth less so you have to add 50% to the price to figure what you’re paying
* Beer comes in large, completely filled, actual pint glasses and the closer the brewery the better the beer
* Butter and eggs aren’t refrigerated
* The beer isn’t warm, each style is served at the proper temperature
* Cider (alcoholic) is quite good.
* Excess cider consumption can be very painful.
* The universal greeting is “Cheers” (pronounced “cheeahz” unless you are from Cornwall, in which case it’s “chairz”)
* The money is easy to understand: 1-2-5-10-20-50 pence, £1-£2 coins and £5-£10, etc bills. There are no quarters.
* Their cash makes ours look like Monopoly money
* Cars don’t have bumper stickers
* Many doorknobs, buildings and tools are older than America
* By law, there are no crappy, old cars
* When the sign says something was built in 456, they didn’t lose the “1”
* Cake is is pudding, ice cream is pudding, anything served for desert is pudding, even pudding
* BBC 4 is NPR
* Everything closes by 1800 (6pm)
* Very few people smoke, those who do often roll their own
* You’re defined by your accent
* No one in Cornwall knows what the hell a Cornish Game Hen is
* Football is a religion, religion is a sport
* Europeans dress better then the British, we dress worse
* The trains work: a three minute delay is regrettable
* Drinks don’t come with ice
* There are far fewer fat English people
* There are a lot of healthy old folks around participating in life instead of hiding at home watching tv
* If you’re over 60, you get free tv and bus and rail passes.
* They don’t use Bose anything anywhere
* Displaying your political or religious affiliation is considered very bad taste
* Every pub seems to have a pet drunk
* Their healthcare works, but they still bitch about it
* Cake is one of the major food groups
* Their coffee is mediocre but the tea is wonderful
* There are still no guns
* Towel warmers!
* Cheers

And then I found the response;

england-en

Scott Waters, an American, has caused a stir with a Facebook post sharing his observations from a recent trip to smalltown England. “People don’t seem to be afraid of their neighbours or the government” and “There are no guns” were two of his comments that seemed to help the post go viral. And pretty astute, I thought, was: “Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.”

I moved from the UK to the US six months ago, and it’s true what they say: the portions are enormous; there really are 300-400 TV channels; everyone has beautifully white teeth; and nobody can pronounce “water”.

But, at the risk of biting the hand that feeds me, here are a few other things I’ve noticed about the United States. Because, as John Travolta once said, they’ve got everything we’ve got … it’s just the little differences.

1. Customer service is either so warm it’s like you’ve made a new friend for life or so brusque you feel as though you’ve just been ordered back into your cell after your five-minute phone call with your lawyer. There’s no middle ground.

2. You need to tip for everything. If you think maybe you should tip, you should tip. You should be tipping me for this article.

3. If you don’t tip in a restaurant, the waiter or waitress will make a smart remark and your evening will be ruined. I’ve seen it happen.

4. People tip because the waiting staff are paid low hourly rates.

5. The waiting staff are paid low hourly rates because employers have successfully tricked their customers into taking on a significant portion of their staffing costs. If you don’t like the sound of that, all is not quite lost – there is a socialist running for president this time.

6. You can have anything you want, as long as you can pay for it.

7. And as long as you tip.

8. You can fill up your car at a petrol station using a couple of nickels and an old button.

9. Something as tiny and insignificant as a bicycle could never be considered remotely comparable to a car, and to expect it to abide by the same rules of the road is considered utterly absurd by cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.

10. Coins have become so worthless that restaurants sometimes refuse to take them – even thieves have been known to turn their noses up at some of them.

11. They’re only really used for the laundromat. Because strangely enough in this land of modern conveniences, it’s apparently too much to ask to want a washing machine in your apartment.

12. Nobody is worried about burglars even though they have fire escape stairs stuck to the outside of their building and the living-room window has been propped open for six months because an air-conditioning unit is sticking out of it. And, no, a flyscreen won’t keep them out.

13. Although I admit it: a flyscreen is a good idea. I haven’t had to kill a wasp or a moth for months.

14. Apartments usually come unfurnished, and Americans think the idea of sitting on someone else’s sofa or sleeping in someone else’s bed is disgusting. Come on – they’re not in there with you. “They might as well be!”

15. Far more Americans than the often-quoted 14% have a passport. But even if the number is low, relative to other countries, the fact is that they can quite happily cover 3.8m sq miles of vastly varied terrain without one. That’s more than double the 1.7m sq miles of the EU , which many British holidaymakers will be visiting.

16. It’s best to think of the police as a sort of occupying army and avoid them accordingly – particularly if you are not white.

17. TV news is rabidly partisan, while the broadsheet press pretends to be objective and neutral. Whereas in Britain …

18. Remember when British leftwingers thought Boris Johnson was too much of a joke to become mayor of London and then he went and did it anyway? That’s what’s happening with Donald Trump and the presidency.

19. That story about the pig was probably the first time anyone here had heard of David Cameron.

20. Celebrities walk around major cities as bold as brass. The other day I sat next to Dominic West, Damian Lewis and John Slattery in a restaurant.

21. Yeah, that’s right. And bragging is considered perfectly OK.

22. And so is telling someone sincerely that you think they, or something they have done, is amazing and fantastic.

23. I mean it.

24. No, really.

25. I’m not being sarcastic.

26. Honestly. That’s just my normal voice.

27. A lot of the trains and subway carriages look like whoever built them said, “OK, well, it works – what more do you want?” And left it at that.

28. But basically, you’re lucky in most parts of the country if you have any trains or subway systems at all.

29. If you get out of your car and walk from A to B in Los Angeles or Miami, people will think you are a surprisingly well-dressed and purposeful-looking homeless person.

30. If you’ve got good health insurance, the doctor will give you everything you need … and more.

31. If you haven’t … Oh, God. Good luck to you.

32. A lot of people consider “Oh, God” swearing.

33. Medical companies believe you will respond positively to a TV advert for, say, a sleeping pill that includes 10 minutes of warnings about side-effects that include danger of death, erections lasting more than 24 hours, and the fact that you may find yourself driving a car while asleep and not remember it the next day.

34. If you do need a sleeping pill the slow, ponderous and worthy tones of NPR (National Public Radio) may fit the bill. Do not listen while driving or operating heavy machinery. Or if you have an erection that has lasted more than 24 hours.

35. Americans love telling stories, and they’re really good at it.

36. And they’re really creative with language, especially slang.

37. If you watch European football (soccer) here, it’s a morning sport, after which you can do other things with the rest of your day. As long as you haven’t kept to your old British football-and-drinking regime.

38. It’s perfectly respectable to drink Coca-Cola or other similar drinks with a meal.

39. Order a cup of tea in a cafe or restaurant and you will be confronted with a glass or mug of lukewarm water with a teabag of some alarming flavour, like pomegranate or boysenberry, floating sadly on the top like a punctured dinghy, and some “milk” that is probably 50% cream, delivered on request. I’m just going to say it once: the water needs to be at boiling point for the tea to infuse!!!

40. Just order a cup of coffee. They know what they’re doing with coffee.

41. If you eat pizza with a knife and fork they look at you like you just ate a sandwich with a spoon. New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, caused major controversy by eating his the European way – the weakling.

42. A plate of Doritos and some guacamole is considered a full meal.

43. Bars don’t usually serve food. Just keep on drinking.

44. But drinking on the street is illegal – except in New Orleans, where it’s compulsory.

45. People still love smoking, and the glowing retro-futurist coloured lights of e-cigarettes haven’t really caught on yet.

46. They have no universally agreed upon way of saying goodbye (a kiss on the cheek would be unforgivably inappropriate and borderline actionable). Most common is just to pause for a moment, perhaps give a barely perceptible nod or slightly awkward wave … and then simply walk away.

47. The weather really means business.

48. Americans are acutely conscious of race, in the way British people are acutely conscious of class.

49. Lots of people you don’t expect to own guns or support the right to bear arms do .

50. No massacre, no matter how awful, will prompt Congress to tighten America’s gun laws. There will have to be a wider cultural shift. Lots of people do care about this. But they’re not sure exactly what to do.

bookmark_borderIs There Life After Birth?

life

A tale of two babies has made the rounds on the Internet. It made me smile, and I wanted to share it here.

The story is about twin babies who are having a philosophical discussion in the womb. Their dialog goes as follows:

Do you believe in life after birth?

Of course. Everybody knows there is a life after birth. We’re here now because we have to grow and get ready for what’s to come.

That’s ridiculous! There’s no life after birth. What could such a life be like?

I don’t know exactly, but there must be more light than in here. Maybe we’ll walk on our legs and eat with our mouth.

Nonsense! It’s impossible for us to walk. And eating with our mouth? That’s crazy. We get our food through the umbilical cord. And obviously there can be no life after birth because the umbilical cord is too short.

Well, I think it’s possible. It’ll just be different from what we’re used to in here.

But nobody has ever come back after birth. Birth is the end of life. And frankly, life is just meaningless existence in the darkness. There’s no point to it, and we’re going nowhere.

No! I don’t know exactly what it will be like after birth, but I’m sure that we’ll see our Mother and she’ll take care of us.

Mother? You believe in Mother? And just where is she then?

Where? She’s all around us! And we’re inside her. We’re her children. In her we live and move and have our being. Without her we wouldn’t exist.

That’s absurd. I’ve never seen this “Mother,” so there’s no such thing.

I don’t agree with you. In fact, sometimes when it’s quiet, you can hear her sing and feel her caress our world. You know, I believe that we’re here to prepare for the life to come, and our true life starts after birth.

 

bookmark_borderNobel Prize #3

Extra body anyone?
Extra body anyone?

It looks like I’m up for my third Nobel Prize for Science; I don’t know WHY I didn’t figure this out sooner!

Ladies, do you use shampoo in the shower? Well when I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body, and printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning,

“FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY.”

…No wonder I’ve been gaining weight!

Facepalm!

Well! I have gotten rid of that shampoo and I am going to start showering with Jif scouring cream instead, its label reads,

“DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE.”

There, problem solved. You can thank me now. I wonder when I will get my Nobel Prize?

bookmark_borderTick Tock

dscf0100

My mother Doris passed away suddenly last week so I thought I’d pen a few thoughts. The over-riding thing I remember about Doris is her determination to do things her own way and sod the rules. The Doris I knew was completely unflappable, she played by her own rules whilst on this earth, she never worried much about what others thought of her.

The rules are that when you’re in your 80’s you should be settling down for a quieter life but not Doris (and Bob!), off they went to Australia to a wedding and of course there was a freak heatwave there and even the natives were falling to the ground with the heat but not Doris and Bob.

She spent a few weeks travelling around in the sweltering heat and then came back to a bitterly cold Ballymoney winter with frozen pipes burst in the home and the place a mess. I talked to her at the time and asked her if she was all right and she said ‘oh aye, sure, I’ve got Bob, that’s all that matters’ and it’s true, she had Bob by her side and that was the most important thing in her life.

She started having ‘issues’ a few weeks ago and needed an urgent operation. Having a medical background I flew over here last week to make sure that she got through her operation and past the danger-zone of the weekend. However, instead of finding Doris comatose in Intensive Care I found her sitting out of bed watching X Factor on Saturday evening telly. This was 24 hrs after a major op.

She was bright and sparkly and completely on the ball.

The rules are that when you’re on ICU you’re meant to be really sick but as usual Doris played by her own rules. The rules also state that when you’re 88 and just past a major operation you’re meant to be a bit fuzzy – but not Doris, she was able to tell me my mobile number quick as a flash on Saturday evening – something even I have difficulty remembering..

On Thursday evening, the night before her op I had a quick chat in private with her, I told her that she wasn’t allowed to die, that it didn’t fit in with my timetable, that it wouldn’t be very convenient – I told her that perhaps…. PERHAPS when I’m 65 and retired and she’s 100 then PERHAPS it would be OK then…

She roared with laughter and said that she’ll go when the man upstairs says it time and that’s the end of it!

Our last chat was an interesting one, we were talking about church and religion and she was trying to get me to go to church (as usual), lots of talk about Jesus, God and heaven and I remember holding her hand and telling her that I tried to be good, not because I wanted to get into heaven and not because I didn’t want to go to hell but because it’s the right thing to do, our motivation shouldn’t be the next world but trying to do our best for this world.. She looked at me and I knew she was OK with that and the subject wouldn’t come up again.

For 32,120 days Doris walked, strode, ran, swam, leaped, crawled and sometimes stumbled on this Earth. Not all of them days were good, some very hard, some were bad, some were a real struggle but in all the time I knew Doris I never saw her without a smile on her face.

And she told me that the last 2,258 days were the best because those where the days that she had been married to Bob.

bookmark_borderSuperheroes

superhero
When we were kids my gang and I used to play superheroes…like we were the only ones who could (and always did) save the world. This was way before the emergence of that strange new fangled interwebby thang, we had to use that other older system…now what was it called…oh yes – imagination…

We all wanted to be the hero, no-one wanted to be the villains so most of our villains were imaginary and if the worse came to worse we’d get shot/stabbed/arrowed/ray gunned/blasted/poisoned/disembowelled/nuked/pushed off a cliff  (always our choice) but have an heroic death – and our heroic deaths tended to last even longer than Hollywood heroic deaths which is saying something..

Advertisements at the time always showed rugged good looking heroic men rushing off to save someone life…Gillette Razors were masters at the genre and we would try to emulate them – even if we were too young to shave!

However, as I’ve got older I come to realise that Gillette and our gang didn’t have the hero market cornered, I’ve come across many examples of heroic people, the unknown heroes, the quiet heroes, the forgotten heroes who work away, slave away without thanks or recognition, simply getting on with the job as there was no-one else to do it and because of love.

I know a few mothers, struggling away to make ends meet, doing their best to keep a roof over the head of the children and just trying to do the right thing, trying to provide and be there when lesser souls would have given up the struggle..these are the real heroes in the world today, not me with my bedsheet for a cape and a stick for a raygun..although I have saved the planet from Vogons more times than I care to mention…pesky Vogns…getting grabbed by the Vogons always brought a tear to my eye…

People always think of doctors and nurses as being heroes too and to a degree it’s true but it doesn’t end there, I’ve cared for many patients were the wife (always the wife) cared for her long suffering husband through the many stages of cancer right up to the very end. And when I come across souls like that I always think wow, you’ve struggled all these years, many more hours than a full time job and no complaints, no cutting corners, no bitterness because it’s all done out of love.. real heroes..

But a lot of times the even bigger hero is missed, it’s the person with the cancer. By the time one gets past fifty one tends to know at least a few people that have passed over due to cancer and it’s these people that are the real superheroes. The souls I’ve known that have succumbed to cancer, they’ve always been very stoic, no raging against the unfairness of it all, no shouting at fate and God, no destructive benders, usually it’s quiet acceptance with lots of dignity, very quickly an acceptance of how things are going to be followed by trying to get as much living done in the so so so short time remaining. For me these are the biggest heroes, not the one’s on the cinema screen in 2D but the real life heroes, the souls that manage to open their eyes one more morning, even if it’s just for one more day.

To misquote Mr Bowie, we can all be heroes..even if it’s just for one more day…

bookmark_borderThe Perfect Husband?

perfect-man-search

Here’s a little but wise story from Nasruddin about this dance I’m doing;

Once there were two friends who would meet every New Year’s Eve and discuss their future plans.
The first one asked the second, “What are you going to do this year?”
“I’m going to find myself the perfect wife,” the first friend replied,
“Someone beautiful, cultured and kind.”
A year passed. The two friends met.
“Tell me, how did you get on?” asked the second friend.
“Not too well. I found a woman who was beautiful but had never read a book or played an instrument and we had nothing in common. Next year I’ll search further afield.”
Another year passed.
“How did you get on with finding your wife this year?”
“I searched even further and found a woman who was beautiful and well-read and I loved her for that but she was selfish – only ever thinking of herself.
Next year I’ll search even further afield.”
A third year passed.
“And how did you get on this year?” asked the second friend. “Did you find the perfect wife?”
“I did,” replied his friend. “I found someone beautiful, cultured and kind but there was a small problem. She was looking for the perfect husband.”

That made me smile and there’s a lot of truth in it, Rumi, another Persian thinker once said “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” and I’ve come to discover over the past few years that we nearly always are our own worse enemies, and knowing that, acknowledging that fact is half the battle.

bookmark_borderDog Logic

dog_logic-49764

1. If I like it, it’s mine
2. If it’s in my mouth, it’s mine
3. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine
4. If I can take it from you, it’s mine
5. If it’s mine, it must never be yours
6. If it just looks like mine, it’s mine
7. If I saw it first, it’s mine
8. If you are playing with something else and put it down, it’s mine
9. If I am chewing something up, all of the pieces are mine
10. If it used to be yours, get over it.
11. If it’s broken, it’s yours.

This applies equally to Toddler Logic

bookmark_borderIs there a such thing as a wrong turn?

crowd

You’re curious and smart and bored
All you see is a choice between working hard and slacking off
There are so many adventures that you miss because you are waiting for a fully formed plan

To find them, look for tiny interesting choices
Take wrong turns
Talk to strangers
Open unmarked doors
And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing

Do things without always knowing how they will turn out

And always remember, you are making up your future as you go along

bookmark_borderThe Fault in Our Stars

599px-Gustav_Klimt_016

Been reading The Fault in our Stars by John Green recently, the main characters in the book are sixteen year old Hazel and seventeen year old Gus, both of whom have cancer. It’s a lovely novel and John Green has obviously had some experience with cancer in teenagers or done his research thoroughly. And it’s a funny book too, gallows humour as we ex nurses call it, the story and characters resonated quite a lot with me because of my time working in hospitals.

However, there’s another character in the book, one of Gus and Hazels friends from the support group called Isaac, he has a rare form of cancer that’s cost him the sight in one eye and early on in the book he goes into hospital to have the remaining eye removed to stop the spread of cancer. Our sight is our most valuable sense, without it we really are severely limited, we lose a lot of our independence, losing our sense of taste is hugely inconvenient but it’s not on the same scale as losing our sight.

Strangely, John doesn’t explore this at all, Isaac goes into hospital and comes out again completely blind but it set me thinking, if I knew I was going into hospital to lose my sight in a few days time, what would be the last things I’d choose to look at?

I think there’s the obvious, my boys would be at the top of the list, I would ‘drink them in’. Knowing that I’d never see their faces again would be hard to take; in the years to come they would always have that youthful (and admittedly somewhat spotty) face, even when they’re bearded family men with teenage children of their own. And there’s so much in the future with my boys that I’m looking forward to, not being able to see their children’s faces, well, I can’t imagine how that would feel.

However, what else, at the end of the week you are losing your sight forever. Well, I’ve particularly enjoyed the colour of the trees this fall so I’d be out there drinking that in too but there are other pleasures that I’d miss terribly. Right now I can pick up my latest book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and read it, unless you get the unabridged edition audio books tend to skip bits, I suppose I could cajole/coerced/blackmail someone very patient/gullible into reading the actual book to me but it’s not the same, we all read at our own speed and even in these Kindle days there’s still a certain pleasure from holding the dead tree version in our grubby mitts; the smell, the feel and reading at my own speed.

And then there’s driving a car and the freedom that gives me. I know Al Pacino drove one as his blind character in Scent of a Woman but I’m not quite sure I’d get away with that in Londons green parks – plus I don’t know my left from my right so I’m bound to crash into a tree! And I think I’d miss the simple pleasures in life, being able to see a fresh orange as well as taste it and smell it, and flowers, and not bashing my head on the kitchen cupboard every time I walk in there. And art, I’ve haven’t got around yet to see Gustav Klimts The Kiss (above) and I can’t imagine not ever being able to see that one day, I have a few other favourite painting, imagine never being able to go to a gallery and see them, I’m sure the staff of the National Gallery wouldn’t be too happy if I started groping their paintings, wouldn’t they..?

However, there’s a restaurant in London that does something that seems completely illogical, it’s called Dinner in the Dark and the general idea is that you eat in complete darkness. It’s pitch black in the dining area and you’re taken through double sets of doors to your table by blind staff (as they are skilled at negotiating obstacles in the dark) and have a choice of four ‘surprise’ menus. The owners know that ‘the first taste is with your eyes’, sight is the dominant sense but they want diners to enjoy the smells, textures and flavours of the meal so it’s lights out time. I suspect a lot of the meal is ‘hands on’, trying to balance garden peas on a fork in pitch black is never going to work and I dare say most diners come out with at least some food down their front. I know I would, even when the restaurant’s fully lit!

Oh, one last thing, if you ever go to this restaurant then you will be pleased to know that the toilets are well lit, you aren’t taken there by a blind guy and have him pull your trousers down and assist you with your aim!

bookmark_borderSecrets of the OLDERhood?

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I read this a while back and thought it was worth sharing;

The secret to getting my wife to be less inhibited had more to do with me than her. It wasn’t until I started listening to what she wanted from me outside the bedroom that changes happened inside the bedroom. I needed to show that I loved her by talking to her and treating her as my equal in all aspects of life. Once she became secure and felt deeply loved by me, all her inhibitions disappeared. Damn, I wish I had figured that out sooner.
Danny G, age 58, husband for 24 years

Danny’s a lucky bloke to have figured that out, most go through life in a daze, never really joining the dots, at least Danny figured this out eventually..

At this ripe old age of 52 I’ve figured out a few things too, you know, the usual stuff;

  • consistently be kind even when others are treating you like shit
  • figure out who you really are and be true to that person
  • never let your bare bottom touch a public toilet seat

you know, the normal standard things we’ve all figured out.. but I wonder if you’ve figured this out as well;

OK here’s something that’s going to throw you, it’s something that you will remember and come back to again and again and if you strongly disagree with it now then trust me, eventually you will agree totally with it. The secret of love, true love, the love that lasts, the love that makes it all worthwhile, is constant forgiveness.

I’ve seen it in partner relationships, one messes up and the other forgives, because that’s what true love is all about, and with most couples there’s this swing, it’s almost like they take it in turns, one goes through a stage of messing up and the other forgives and then later on the other one messes up all the time and the important thing is that eventually this should balance out, the messing up and the forgiveness..

And I’m not just referring to partner relationships. It’s something I have borne witness to all my life. I see it in parents with their children, especially during the teenage and early adult years when they should know better. I have seen young adults come home to mum with some terrible event they’ve done wrong and after all the shouting and tears, there’s always the forgiveness, because that’s what it is to love somebody with all your heart, you constantly forgive them, in fact you can’t help but forgive them and hold them in your heart, it’s what we do..

bookmark_borderSecrets of the sisterhood?

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Apparently….. (always be wary of any sentence that starts with the word ‘apparently’, it’s usually a fib…or even worse, gossip!), apparently  the 2007 Meryl Streep movie The Devil Wears Prada is one of the all time greats. I know this for a fact as I met up with a potential date when it was released and she spent the entire (extremely long and tedious) date telling me so.  Knowing how fantastic an actress Meryl Streep is I was indeed tempted but having viewed the trailer I put it firmly in the chick flick bin (along with Twilight et al) having decided that even the mega talents of Meryl Streep couldn’t rescue it. This may  have been the wrong thing to say to my date.

One lives and learns but the completely  wrong thing to say was “I’m sure there were no straight men in the audience or if there were then they were definitely getting some that night”  Needless to say I never saw Ms Coffee Date ever again so my chances of getting some disappeared as fast as she did, actually I think she may have stormed off at that point.

Fast-forward six years and I’m starting to think I may have been mistaken, perhaps too hasty in my writing off The Devil Wears Prada. You see, being a typical (non-thinking) bloke I tossed The Devil Wears Prada straight into the chick flick bin along with any Twilight movie (in fact to be honest any movie with Kristen Stewart in it) but along with this I also tossed in Sex in the City and Bridget Jones. I’m sorry, I’m an ignorant bloke, I’ll blame the Mars/Venus thang.

However.. and I should pause here for effect..however, I read this quote from Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason on Friday evening and had an epiphany;

“Keep thinking back about what Mum said about being real and the Velveteen Rabbit book (though frankly have had enough trouble with rabbits in this particular house). My favourite book, she claims of which I have no memory was about how little kids get one toy that they love more than all the others, and even when its fur has been rubbed off, and it’s gone saggy with bits missing, the little child still thinks it’s the most beautiful toy in the world, and can’t bear to be parted from it.

That’s how it works, when people really love each other, Mum whispered on the way out in the Debenhams lift, as if she was confessing some hideous and embarrassing secret. But, the thing is, darling, it doesn’t happen to ones who have sharp edges, or break if they get dropped, or ones made of silly synthetic stuff that doesn’t last. You have to be brave and let the other person know who you are and what you feel.”

― Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason

OK, it’s not Shakespeare, not even Milton but still… it’s very good! What a fool I’ve been,  it suddenly struck me that these books weren’t written to entertain woman, they weren’t written so woman can relate to all the angst about weight, bum size’s and does he love me or does he not, no, these books are written solely as instruction manuals for men! The fact that woman find them funny and can relate to them is a spooky co-incidence!

Helen Fielding has bravely spilled the beans about what makes woman tick and for that she’s bound to get excommunicated from the Sisterhood!

So there it is, in black and white, how woman’s minds work, how these strange creatures view things and I can’t believe I’ve been ignoring such a valuable resource, one can read Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus as many times as one likes but you won’t get as much insight into the woman’s minds (or be entertained so much) if you just stop and read The Edge of Reason.

(And yes, I do get the rabbit reference!)

bookmark_borderArmageddon?

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A gang of workmen pitched at an electricity junction next to the Embankment in central London on Thursday night, put on safety jackets, hard hats and as the law requires, surrounded the area with ‘Danger Men Working’ signs. They then (rather cooly) broke into the substation and ripped out all the thick copper cables. It would have been hard sweaty work. They loaded all the cables into the truck, retrieved all their ‘Danger Men Working’ signs and drove off into the night.

I know all this because at around 10pm I stopped receiving the usual spam emails…in fact I stopped receiving any work emails and when I looked at our website it was down; so were the seventy other sites we manage. Oh dear.

At that same time the managers of about 25 other London Universities were having exactly the same experience. There’s a special site we check to make sure everyone’s connected to the internet on the Joint Academic Network and for the first time ever it was listing everything as ‘Down’ in bright red writing. Oops!

It was the end of the world. Armageddon.  I looked out the window and checked the news on the telly to see if World War Three had been declared. It was like someone had pulled the plug on the Internet. Thousands upon thousands of students across London suddenly not able to study or even more importantly, not access Facebook and Youtube’s funny cat videos. Looking around the University library it was like a scene from The Night of the Living Dead, students lost… trying desperately to use their phones to send emails and access non-existent teaching resources.

It was like (shock horror!) when I was at University when The. Internet. Didn’t. Exist.  I had to (OMG!) do actual research and learning from “books” and “journals”, I had to “write” things down on “paper” using a “pen” and try to “remember” it.  I know, it was a new experience for a lot of them, imagine not having Google and Wikipedia to answer any question you had…Imagine not having access to Youtube, imagine have to watch terrestrial TV, no search function, no fast forwarding, imagine being cut off from all the funny cat videos…shudders!

So, like any sensible and mature University we called in the counselling team and set them up in the library and they were inundated with students in acute withdrawal. However, on Friday morning we had to pass the word around that we wouldn’t have proper access until Monday at the earliest. This sent shock waves through the community. We managed to get some limited access by routing our connections through Wales of all places so if the internet connection smelled of sheep and went baaaaaa occasionally then this was the reason. Additionally, google would only accept sheep related queries. This would be no hardship for one for my friends as he only ever googles about good looking sheep.

I’ve no idea what the black market price for copper is these days (though I have a friend who does!) but it’s must have been worth it for the gang to take such a risk in central London. At a really busy area right beside a Tube station, on a Thursday night, kudos to them!  However, I’d like to make a suggestion to any gang of thieves thinking of swiping our copper cabling again. There are easier things to steal and there’s no having to get messy doing it, just ramraid your local supermarket for some of these items;

Christmas cards  – £4.50 for one card, for heaven’s sake, it’s a bit of card and an envelope, pound for pound they are more expensive than beluga caviar

Razor blades – Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor £15.49/unit. Yup, for one! At that price I expect it to make breakfast and do the laundry as well.

Roses – a fabulous investment opportunity, currently £30 for a dozen this week but in two months time, around Valentines Day the price skyrockets to £100 for a dozen. More than triple your money.

ANY Apple product. Massively overpriced. Apple made $8.8billion profit in the last quarter, that’s roughly $30billion in a year. To any thieves out there, if you wanna get rich then stop stealing our cables and just raid your local Apple store, it’s easier, there’s MUCH more profit plus you get an iPhone/iPad into the bargain. Win Win!