Way Back When it Was 2003

This was the old blog – and me – back in 2003.

It’s a straight lift from The Internet Archive and as such, many images are missing, external links defunct and some text is out of context. This then, was then:

______________________

I’ve made a log: This is my online journal, where I make occasional comments on life, what I’ve been up to lately, things I’ve made and what I’ve found on the Interweb.

It occurred to me with the sudden vogue for “blogs” that I’ve been writing mine for five years now. For five years, I’ve been bringing you the best of the best of the web, interspersed among the other shit about me. I think it’s about time the more appreciative started donating to the good cause, so I’ve gone and got a donation icon:

Good innit? If you press it, you can donate dough to me and help me keep this site going as to do so costs money. Thanks (:

Outside the box

Sunday 28 September 2003. Current mood:

© Please contact me, B3tans, if this is yours

I am fucked off with electrical appliances and feel like drowning a toaster as a warning to all things that plug into the mains. I seem to have relapsed into the anti-Midas touch syndrome that afflicted me a couple of years ago, where everything electrical that I touched turned to shit. This bout of the condition has thus far only affected the hi-fi, which seems to have developed a hangover, in that above a certain volume level, it simply switches itself off. Anyway, touch wood (wooden things don’t turn to shit when I touch them), this time the anti-Midas touch seems isolated to the hi-fi. That said, I shall make this entry brief so as not to tempt fate. After all, we need the computer for our business.

Business continues to move in the right direction: a direction that promises to see us busy in the run-up to Christmas and beyond. Continuing our business ethos of blagging free advertising and doing pro-bono work in return for mutual favours, we have a number of things in place in the physical world as well as online. We now have thirteen local taxis carrying their web address, which in turn carries our logo and a link to us, as we designed the website. The same taxi firm have our posters in their office and shop window on Tonbridge High Street. Our Introducing Baby venture is being supported both by the local hospital mentioned before and a local business, Little Impressions, the owner of which was taken by what we were doing. I continue to source display sites for our posters and cards, while Jill works ceaselessly on the design and online side of things. We can also now accept payments by credit card via PayPal, making our products more accessible. It’s the tangible products which we’ve developed, which include Propose Online and websites as gifts via Webbyfeet, as well as Introducing Baby, which will be keeping us busy over the coming months. The core web design business is bubbling under too. We’ve worked bloody hard over the last couple of months and it’d be a cruel world indeed that didn’t see us succeed. Unfortunately, gaining a business bank account has continued to elude us.

I hereby retract the kudos bestowed upon Alliance and Leicester previously and place them now in the “cunts” file in the Webbyfeet filing cabinet, it having taken them three weeks to process our application for a business bank account, only to decline us. It was Alliance and Leicester who promised us that as we would be setting up a bank account that required no credit facility, there would be no personal credit checks run against either Jill or myself. They would (understandably) check our names against the national fraud and bankruptcy registers and check that we were registered as company directors with Companies House. In the first and second instances, we are not listed and in the third we are, thereby fulfilling all of the requirements to be accepted for a business bank account, with no credit facility and simply to deposit funds in, as advised by Dalliers and Liars (sorry: Freudian slip). Aware of how my personal credit rating is not ideal and, although irrelevant to an application for a business banking facility with no credit facility, could do without a search “footprint” against it, I had asked Dalliers and Liars on no fewer than five occasions – twice in the presence of Jill as witness – of their reassurance that they wouldn’t undertake a personal credit check. On all five occasions they assured me that no personal credit check would be undertaken as personal credit was irrelevant to an application for a non-credit business banking account. On friday, we received a letter from Dalliers and Liars declining our application on the grounds of my personal credit borrowing. Obviously, I rang them to register my dismay that they had effectively lied to us and also damaged my credit rating, making it difficult for us to now obtain a business banking facility. In typical large corporation fashion, they were dismissive but after legal consultation, I have now invoked an official complaint. Dalliers and Liars record phone calls “for training purposes” and I have the dates and times of the calls during which I was informed that no personal credit check would take place. I have been advised to ask them to review the recordings of my calls, thereby proving that a representative of theirs was misleading and acted unprofessionally. I have a witness and if this line of complaint isn’t successful, I have been advised to report the matter to the Banking Ombudsman. I don’t expect Dalliers and Liars to relent and give us a banking facility. I don’t fucking want anything of theirs and besides, we have other means of banking business funds legitimately. What I do want is for them to admit they’ve lied to us and repair the damage which they’ve caused. My sleeves are rolled up and I’m ready for a David Vs. Goliath battle. Meanwhile, it is not a legal requirement for a UK limited liability company like ours to have an account in its name, so we will take payments via PayPal and personal cheques. We just have to keep records of those that are received on behalf of the business and pass these on to our accountant.

Dalliers and Liars aside then, business is good and Jill and I are the perfect partnership in business as well as generally. In Jill, I have my first true live-in partner and domesticity is truly bliss. I love her on a level I’ve never know before and would not have thought possible, were I not experiencing it now. On Friday, we had a night out typical of us: cheap, yet enjoyable and romantic for the simple fact that it was she and I together.

As I’ve written here before, I have on occasion visited the site where David Blaine is hanging out, simply out of interest and because I admire his street magic, if not quite comprehending his current stunt. I respect him though, as do the majority of the occasional, frequent and one-off visitors to the site. During my visits, I have befriended a young street magician, Richard Bellars, who is himself a big fan of Mr. Blaine and who is camping out on site for the duration of David’s stay, by way of a supportive tribute. On Thursday night, Jill and I made the impromptu decision to meet up in London and visit the Blaine site as Jill had yet to go there. We met on Friday when I finished work, bought a few cans of cider and walked along the South Bank from Waterloo to Tower Bridge, where David’s box is hanging. Once there, I sought out Richard, who demonstrated a trick he’d shown me earlier and which I couldn’t fathom, to Jill. Jill is at the head of the queue when it comes to scepticism but she was left speechless by Richard’s ability, which I cannot possibly do justice with words alone. All I can say is from whence David Blaine and Derren Brown emerged, Richard Bellars will too. Jill and I sat by Tower Bridge, beneath David Blaine for a couple of hours, just chatting and drinking. Tower Bridge rose twice while we were there and when we left, night had fallen and the bridge was beautifully floodlit and Bankside’s resident rat population was scuttling about the pavement. I don’t mean that the scum element had arrived to abuse David Blaine, rather that rats of the brown rodent variety were in abundance: far cuter than London’s real vermin, the pigeons, and not actually vermin, despite the stereotype. It’s black rats, as wiped out by the great fire of London that carry diseases, not their brown cousins. Returning home, we procured a sodding great bag of chips from the local chip shop and indulged ourselves on the sofa with a meal of said chips, a jar of mayonnaise and some extra thick-sliced white bread. We then retired to bed. Living with someone is so much better than the proverbial Pot Noodle and a wank.

I’m off now before this computer succumbs to the same disease as the hi-fi and because my sister has arrived with my niece, which gives me a good excuse to post a picture of she and I on the garden swing a month ago:

Aw, bless (:

Whilst avoiding contact with all things electronic for fear of fucking them up, I’ve been doing more creative things with my hands, including making a Bonsai Jurassic Park:

Pretty, isn’t it? ©Dog

Before I go, this week’s finds (It’s the amount of time I spend on the Net finding good stuff among the chaff and testing it out that makes donating so worthwhile):

Domo-Kun’s Angry Smash Fest: Control Domo and hit the Powerpuff Girls. Kind of like the fairground game where you hit marmots with a mallet, except you don’t have to go to a fairground.

 

Living in a box

Sunday 14 September 2003. Current mood:

(C)Tedmus

It’s just after 4.30 in the afternoon and Jill and I have just got out of bed. We had a late night last night, having spent the evening in a local pub watching my friend Léanie perform. Léanie is a singer and last night she played a set of covers as well as her own compositions, including the very well-observed and amusing “Silicone Valerie.” Jill and I had far too much to drink and stumbled into bed at 1 O’clock this morning. We awoke at around noon and have spent the afternoon thus far in the box that serves as our bedroom reading the Sunday newspapers and eating sausage baguettes. Jill is now in the bathroom while I’m in the larger box that is our living room, writing this.

Living here, I can sympathise with David Blaine, although our boxes are larger and more numerous than his and we have home comforts. Neither do we have people throwing eggs at our windows as he does.

When on my travels about London, I have on occasion taken the opportunity to visit David Blaine in his Perspex box by Tower Bridge. Whilst there I have become acquainted with the two gentlemen featured in the news who are camping out for the duration of Mr Blaine’s suspension. They have provided me with occasional updates on what’s been going on at the site, including the yobs who saw fit to question the integrity of David’s late father. Egg throwing is one thing and something typical of English humour. Unfortunately, discrediting someone’s deceased relative is also representative of the levels to which the scum element of this country will stoop, especially when he whom they torment is powerless to retaliate. I have been the innocent victim of some illiterate tormentor lately too. What differentiates me from Mr Blaine though is that through the employment of friends more computer literate than I, I have identified my tormentor. He will be receiving a gift from someone at a yet to be determined future date.

In talking to the gentleman camping out for the duration of David Blaine’s stay, who’s a magician himself, I have gained a customer for Webbyfeet, the venture that Jill and I set up a couple of months ago. Business is starting to go well now that we’ve done all of the groundwork and we’ve just completed our first commercial commission. We’ve also set up two sister sites, Introducing Baby and Propose Online. They both do more or less exactly what they say on the boxes and in the case of the former, we’re talking to a national charity about a link-up and a local hospital has agreed to allow us some advertising in their maternity unit. Our groundwork has mainly been blagging free advertising and other such non-monetary lateral-thinking business activity, as well as a little help from our friends, too numerous to mention.

One small hurdle that we have encountered has been the setting up of a business banking facility, thanks in no small part to the greed of the majority of the banks. Kudos though to Alliance & Leicester, who do not require us to deposit five grand to open an account and who do not want to lend us start-up capital so that they can impose swindling interest charges on us. In much the same way that Jill and I have done everything ourselves, using a little of our own cash, which in turn is little, neither did we want to borrow unnecessarily. Most business bank accounts require the directors to do so and given that neither Jill nor I have particularly good credit histories, on account of personal borrowing, the accounts offered by these banks would have been denied us were we to apply for them.

Now that our modest business looks likely to generate some decent cash in the longer term, we’re looking forward to looking back, proud that we did it all ourselves. We also look forward to the time that our success allows us less humble lodgings and when the majority of banks will be falling over themselves to bank our company cash. We especially look forward to reminding them of how they were unwilling to help us in the first place and raising two corporate fingers to them.

Until the time when our business is affording us a more luxurious lifestyle, we’re happy with one another, in our humble abode and doing things for ourselves. Going out last night was an occasional treat for us, as we’re normally happy just loafing about in our little boxes, content in one another’s company.

Among the covers Léanie played last night was “The Power of Love” which I requested she dedicate to my love. Far more romantic than any monetary gift.

_____

I forgot to mention when Jill and I were out walking in the country a few weeks ago, what we saw on the lake. I think it’s a “Sweep.” We took a photo:

(C)Dog / mother inferior

Also, found this week:

How rich are you? Simple and effective. Sobering, even.

 

Grrr!!!

Wednesday 27th August, 2003. Current mood:

(C)Brainstuff

I’m annoyed. Very fucking annoyed. Fucking, bollocking, wanking bastarding annoyed with the so-called law enforcement officers of this country.

Having slagged off my next door neighbours yesterday, we, they and a number of other households in this ghetto – as this road that I live in seems to be becoming – were last night united against a common foe. Two foes in fact: the arsehole who put his fist through one of my neighbours’ car windscreen but mostly our ire was reserved for the police.

As Jill and I were having supper, we heard the sound of breaking glass from outside. Running downstairs, we saw three oiks casually walking down the road, obviously drunk as skunks and high as kites. One of them had a bloody right hand and the windscreen of my neighbours’ car had been smashed. I put two and two together. Something that the police are apparently unable to do but more on that in a moment.

Most of the neighbourhood had emerged from their houses and were standing around talking among themselves. Knowing whose car had been vandalised, I took it upon myself to do what no-one else seemed to have thought to do and inform the family concerned. They were understandably upset and came outside to inspect the damage. The man of this house recognised one of the tossers still sauntering down the street and started after him. Spotting the potential danger of the situation, I grabbed a neighbour’s phone and dialled 999 while my friend’s wife ran after him and pleaded with him to leave it as I was calling the police. He protested that they wouldn’t do anything and that he’d be more satisfied dealing with the situation himself. Something that I now sympathise with him on.

On being transferred to what was obviously a police call centre, I explained the incident and the apparent danger of the unfolding situation: one of the youths, we’d noticed, had his hand in his pocket, for all we knew ready to brandish a knife. The police officer (or whatever he was supposed to be), on the phone then spent ten minutes asking me to describe the suspects, why I suspected them (one had blood on his hand and at least three people had seen him smash the car window) and why I considered the situation to be dangerous. Why don’t you come out and see for yourselves, I thought. I explained that my neighbour was understandably upset and that one of the youths apparently had a knife. In response to the former, the “officer’s” reaction was to threaten my neighbour with arrest. Get out here and stop it happening then, the voice of reason in my head said. The operator then had me not only giving our location but also directions and asking me to spell road names. Like BT and others, I suspect that the police have their call centre in India. After the ten minutes had elapsed, I was informed that a patrol was on its way. Fortunately the three yobs were still in the street, obviously rendered even more stupid than usual by whatever they’d been taking. To ensure they stayed put, my vigilante neighbour, myself and one other, walked to the end of the road to confront them.

During the altercation that took place, a police car casually turned into our road. From it emerged one male and one female officer. The latter was all of five feet tall and weighed probably no more than eight stones. Please don’t think me chauvinistic (bigoted, fascist, maybe but not chauvinistic) but such a petite officer is not likely to be able to take on three very drunk, stoned, and it has to be said, scary-looking, large blokes. I had described the youths, their condition and size to the “officer” on the phone.

The male officer made straight for my neighbour and threatened him with arrest if he didn’t calm down. Understandably, this annoyed my neighbour somewhat, especially as the three youths were now acting as though they were innocent of any crime and were being victimised. At this point, one of them disappeared around a corner and, as witnessed by a bystander, deposited a knife. This was pointed out to the officers. Their response? They didn’t see the knife being deposited so had insufficient proof. Witnesses count for nothing, obviously and, as I’ve often read in the press, the “law” sides with the offender. Like everything I read, I took this to have been written with journalistic license but I was now witnessing police ineptitude for myself. And still the police were more concerned with arresting my neighbour for confronting these youths as they in turn protested their innocence. Well they would of course (the police, that is): in much the same way that it’s easier to maintain crime detection figures by relentlessly pursuing motorists who exceed the speed limit by a couple of miles per hour and are caught on the omnipresent speed cameras in this country, my neighbour would be an easier arrest. And of course, an arrest that would pose less danger to the arresting officers. Excuse me but isn’t it understood when they take on the job that police officers will face danger in the course of their work? Isn’t that why I, and all other law-abiding citizens pay taxes? More controversially perhaps, is it any wonder that the public feel they have to take the law into their own hands when we have such a cowardly, inefficient police force? I don’t blame the individual officers necessarily but I do blame the system, the bureaucracy and ultimately the Blair government. But of course, safe in their protected ivory towers, inventing red tape and human rights bullshit every day, the real world is but a mystery to them, out of touch as they are.

After sending my neighbour and us other two away, the police officers said that they would talk to us after they’d questioned the three youths. All of two minutes later they had completed what was obviously a very in-depth questioning and allowed the three to walk free, past the rest of us, now gathered at the other end of the street by my neighbour’s damaged car. Any of us could have been forgiven for taking a swing at the smug bastards as they walked nonchalently by but of course were we to do so, we’d have been an easy arrest. Then the police officers finally got to the scene of the crime. I’m not one to tell others how to do their jobs but this struck me as being a little arse about face.

The female officer then noted that the windscreen of the car was broken and that it had blood on it: no shit Sherlock! Ten out of ten for crime detection! It’s a shame you’d already let the youth with the bloody hand walk away, having obviously listened sympathetically to whatever bullshit explanation he’d come out with. The gathered public were then told by the police officers that a report would be filed before they drove off. Well that’s that crime solved and the purpetrators brought to justice then. Unfortunately, in England today that really is the extent of “law enforcement,” it would seem.

If I ever have reason to call the so-called police again – and I’m not sure I couldn’t do the job better myself – I shall be sure to spell out difficult to understand words to the operator in India next time. Perhaps I’ll spell tricky words phonetically: “could you send some C-U-N-T-S-tables?”

Epilogue

I found this out today when I spoke to my neighbour whose car got smashed up: that car was the family one. They also have a cab, which the husband drives. Later this morning, someone smashed the windscreen of that as well. Now I wonder who that could have been? My neighbour told the police but they said they couldn’t do anything without witnesses. Er, excuse me? Can’t you just put two and two together? Obviously too much paperwork for them or they’re just shit scared of confronting anyone other than decent citizens. And what good were witnesses the night before when about half a dozen of us saw the wankers vandalise my neighbour’s car and the police let them go? The police also said they’d found the knife that we all saw the yob drop by the side of the shops. Apparently, without witnesses they couldn’t do anything about that either. They had fucking witnesses! And what about finger prints? I guess they failed to think of that the same way they did forensic testing of the blood on the car the night before.

I read today in the Evening Standard that a US toy company is marketing a George W. Bush action figure. I think I’ll make an “Inaction PC:” It will wear a yellow uniform, be blind as well as deaf and have a chord, which when pulled will emit pre-programmed phrases: “No witnesses,” “Too dangerous,” “I want my mummy” and so on. It will of course have no testicles and will be a floppy toy as it will have no spine.

 

Feed animals near the zoo

Tuesday 26th August, 2003. Current mood:

(C)Tedmus

I am writing this in my lunch break at work, having had a busy but nice weekend, which made my feet ache: plenty to write about but not enough time to do so. Films watched recently: Scooby Doo, which was actually very funny. Jill and I did watch it semi-drunk though, so it might have seemed funnier at the time than it actually is. 3/5.

Since last writing here, nothing much has changed drastically. Webbyfeet has got busier, although I’m still having to do the same day job and Jill and I go from strength to strength. Our next door neighbours, whom I’ve mentioned here before, continue to annoy, recently having acquired a second barky dog to compliment their existing one. These people sum up everything that makes me angry about the lowest common denomination of the British public: they’re selfish, inconsiderate, ignorant oafs. Unfortunately, like the stereotype that they typify, were one to confront them, they’d take great glee in antagonising us and others further, such is the extent of their ignorance. Further adding to the stereotype, they read “The Sun,” watch “Pop Idol” and its ilk at full volume with their windows open, and listen to Celine fucking Dion. They have not an ounce of culture between them, nor probably the intelligence to formulate opinions, other than those dictated by the red-top tabloids which they read. In short, scum. But I digress.

When Jill and I founded Webbyfeet, it wasn’t much more than me setting up a company for Jill to do something that she enjoys and is good at, with the chance that it might bring in a little pocket money. Whilst money-making isn’t our prime concern, our business ethic is to help people out where we can, if they’re a deserving cause, often waiving our fees and coming to a mutually beneficial, non-monetary agreement.

Recently we’ve done a couple of home pages for individuals in return for a prominent logo link on their sites. It’s still early days and we need as much free advertising as we can get. The best adverts though are word-of-mouth recommendations and the individuals for whom we’ve produced sites have been more than pleased with the results. We’re also working on a site for a junior football league, comprising 14 teams and in return for our generosity in giving them affordable rates, we get a printed advert in their match programs and our logo on one of the team’s shirts. We’re sponsors of a football team no less, although Premiership sponsors have no need to fear us for a while yet. We have also been approached by a small company whose business is safe surfing (of the web variety) for children. We gather they came to us as they saw us as an ethical business and one with no pretentions: i.e. we’re affordable. The one small thorn in our side is the local taxi firm for whom we’ve produced a free site and who we are awaiting site approval and a return favour from in the form of our logo in their office window on Tonbridge High Street They’re a big firm though and they’ve entrusted their online presence to us, so I guess that patience is the virtue. Being a responsible citizen, now that I’m a company director, prevents me from shoving things up their taxis’ exhausts if they don’t pull their corporate finger out.

One of the personal sites that we put together was a “blog:” a web log just like this, where individuals record their thoughts and lives for reasons best known to themselves. My reasons for having this blog are explained elsewhere but now that the blog thing is becoming quite a phenomenon on the Internet, I can almost claim to be a founder of the movement. It is only in the last year or so that personal blogs have become prevalent on the web but mine is now into its fifth year. Just like my fellow B3tans, I’m ahead of the game for the most part. It should be noted here that B3ta is partly to thank for the level of interest being shown to Webbyfeet and we’re grateful to the collective: Freemasonry without the silly handshakes.

When I refer to “we”, I do so from the company point of view. “We” have not done all of the work that I mentioned above, Jill has. It is Jill who has the creative talent and fortunately the time to do all that Webbyfeet demands. I merely set up the company and do the sales side and general day-to-day running of things. “We” then, is Jill and I as a team. And what a team we are.

I proclaimed my love for Jill here the last time I wrote and stand by all that I said about never having been in love before in the way I am with her. I am now in love in a way that I wasn’t even then. It’s hard to explain but just recently our love seems to have elevated to a new level. Maybe it’s living together and becoming soul mates, sharing everything: belongings, money, worries, small talk, love and life. Whatever the reason, this is all new to me and perhaps the reason I can’t find words to express my joy is that there aren’t any.

The weekend just gone was a three day one and one that Jill and I spent doing things that only a couple in love with very little money can do: going to places and doing things that don’t cost much, holding hands and creating a whole atmosphere of romance.

Once all of the business and household stuff was out of the way on saturday, we started the weekend in a relaxed fashion by spending saturday night in and indulging in our one treat of the weekend: fish and chips for supper. On sunday we walked the Eden Valley Walk, which runs from Tonbridge, via some beautiful Kent villages before ending up, thirteen miles away at the arse end of Kent, in Edenbridge. We trecked for five miles, spotting various wildlife that’s on our doorstep, yet which we are rarely privileged to see. Along the way we saw dragonflies, damselflies and various butterflies, including small blue ones, which are apparently quite rare. We rested awhile by a lake and spotted various birds, the most magnificent of which was a Mute Swan cob, which came within three feet of us to tell us to stop looking at his bird and ask if we spilled his pint, or something. He was big and mean-looking but beautiful and it was a rare treat to see such an animal so close.

We emerged after just over two hours into Leigh, one of said Kent villages, where a game of cricket was being played on the village green. We were planning to catch a train back to Tonbridge and when we arrived, the next one was departing twenty minutes later. So taken were we by the quintessential Englishness of our picturesque surroundings though that we decided to rest at a pub, where we supped a pint of real ale. Following this most agreeable respite, we boarded the next train, an hour later and were whisked (a word rarely associated with Britain’s railways) back whence we came in a mere four minutes. During that journey, scenery that we’d admired on the way out sped past us in a blur that rendered it unappreciable. Sometimes it’s just nice to slow down and take things in, far from the madding crowd.

Yesterday we went to Regent’s Park in London to see the M.I.L.K. photographic exhibition. This is a criminally under-publicised event and one which the likes of my neighbours would do well to visit, to appreciate Humankind and all that family, love and friendship represents. I defy anyone, including next door, not to be moved by the photograph of an 88 year-old Vietnamese woman saying goodbye to her dying 92 year old best friend.

We took the train to Charing Cross then walked the three miles or so to Regent’s Park, in order to take in London’s scenery on the way, rather than “speed” straight there on the tube. The exhibition was an open-air one and good for it, but for the fact that by being outside, it attracted the general public, as typified by my description of my neighbours at the top. Whereas these blinkered idiots would not normally venture into a gallery, fearing it “too posh” they were at the M.I.L.K exhibition in abundance. In a gallery there is an unwritten code of conduct whereby everyone is afforded their own moment of personal reflection. If one wishes to view a painting or work of art up close and there is someone already doing so, the polite and considerate among us allow the latter to have their moment and take their place when they move on, relinquishing ours to the next viewer in good time. The abundance of people who are obviously acquainted with my neighbours present, pushing in front, walking through one’s view and generally conducting themselves in a selfish manner, meant that the day was not as enjoyable as it might have been. Things would probably have been different were the exhibition to have been staged indoors, where the plebs fear to tread. And that just might explain why my next door neighbours have their windows open all the time.

After viewing the many beautiful and poignant images that made up the M.I.L.K collection, Jill and I continued to wander around this, my favourite of the Royal Parks and ended up at the lake that is home to the Royal Waterfowl Collection. There we saw many rare birds and the highlight of our day was feeding a group of Canada Geese by hand: small things… some would say but to me it’s the small things that are the most memorable when done in the company of the one you love. Such a perfect day.

I shall be returning to her shortly and hope to find sufficient things to keep me busy this afternoon to expedite my return home. Speaking of wasting time:

Shop game: Pretend you work in a shop. Give customers the correct change and watch out for thieves. Very addictive.

Mong Hangman: Traditional Hangman too hard for you? Give the mong version a try. It’s a one-joke thing but quite good to send to your mates as a challenge.

Butch Mushroom game: Remember “Butch” from a while back? (down there somewhere——-v) He’s back, as a mushroom. No rules. Hit the cursor keys and catch everything.

 

Home comforts

Monday 18 August, 2003: In the glass to my left: cider; On the radio: “Just a Minute” on Radio 4. I’m quite an avid listener to said radio station’s comedy offerings, as introduced to me by Jill.

Not much has happened since I last wrote here on account of me having settled somewhat into domesticity. Jill has been here exactly a month today and it’s as though she’s always been here. I really don’t know what I did before she came along and I know I’d be at a loss without her. Fortunately that’s not something that I have to contemplate, as by mutual agreement, she’s here to stay, for good. I’ve announced here before that I’ve been in love but without really knowing what love is. Now I know that it’s someone you can live with, be close to all the time and never be able to imagine life any other way. That’s what I have now.

My little “flatlet,” as an estate agent would call it, really feels like home now that Jill’s here: the housework gets done more than once a week as Jill has the time that I never did during the week to do such menial tasks. I have time to myself and for us to spend together now in the evenings and at the weekend as a result. The reason I’m able to write this on a monday is that I no longer have to prepare dinner in the week, although I do at the weekend. Whereas I would normally write here on a Sunday, that being my only free time, this sunday past had Jill and I with better things to do. Before anyone accuses me of anything porcine, I should like to point out that this is an arrangement arrived at by mutual agreement. This place feels like home at last.

Work continues to pay just enough to keep the wolves from the door and allow Jill and I the occasional treat. The two of us are looking at flats together as the current arrangement gets a little cramped sometimes. It’s a good job Harley doesn’t enjoy being swung around in the air above my head, as I can’t do it. The problem is one of money. Not lack of it as such but rather the cost of renting a decent gaff around here or in London. I would need to be earning considerably more that I currently am in order for us to be financially comfortable in a decent abode and have various plans afoot to realise my true worth.

Meanwhile, Webbyfeet was incorporated as a limited company on 7th August, making Jill and I company directors in English law (oh dear). Our first commission is due to go online soon and there are a few others in the pipeline. The time and effort that both of us are investing, combined with people’s positive reactions to our business philosophy, means the future does indeed look bright.

Found this week on the Interweb:

Statesman or skatesman: politicians on skateboards, space hoppers etc: This site came about after the author saw a picture of Enoch Powell on a pogo stick. He then took it upon himself to write to politicians and enquire of their novelty transport methods. Worth a look if only to see Margaret Thatcher on a toboggan and for the chance (if one’s needed) to say “cunt!” when you read the reply from Tony Blair.

Four-way Pong action: The classic game of Pong for four players. Or one very dextrous one.

Interview Hitler: On your PC. His lips move and everything. Ask him if he’s gay.

Internet saddo: With all the talk of perverts and nutters on the Internet, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a dangerous place. If it keeps this bloke indoors though, at least it’s safe for the rest of us to go outside. Point and laugh.

I can smell dinner cooking so I’m off to enjoy some proper home life.

 

The future’s bright…

Friday August 01, 2003: In the cup to my left: tea; In the CD-player: Acid Jazz (Nice!)

When I last wrote here, about a month ago, I’d lost in love again and was receiving online counselling from my fellow B3tan, mother inferior. As I noted then, how quickly things can change. In the last few weeks, mother inferior has become Jill: my live-in partner. Only last week I was made redundant from my job. Today is my last weekday of unemployment before starting a new job on Monday and Jill and I have set up a small venture together. I will attempt to bring you up to date here.

Before going on, I shall just mention a film that I saw shortly after I last wrote: The Trip to Bountiful is a beautiful film about a lady (Mrs. Watts), living the twilight of her life trapped in an apartment in 1940s Houston Texas. She shares the apartment with her hen-pecked son and controlling daughter-in-law. Her fondest wish -just once before she dies – is to revisit Bountiful, the small Texas town of her youth which she still refers to as “home.” The trouble is her son is too concerned for her health to allow her to travel alone and her petty daughter-in-law insists they don’t have money to squander on bus tickets. This prompts “escape” attempts each month which coincide with the arrival of Mrs. Watts’ Social Security check. This is the touching story of Mrs. Watts’ successful escape and last trip home. 4/5.

The film touched me in some way and prompted me to take my mum on one of our occasional trips to London. She doesn’t get out much and these trips are a treat for her, although I always seem to have other things to do and don’t treat her to them enough. Although I’ve spent most of my working life in London, it’s not often that I have the chance to enjoy the city without work being involved.

Sunday 6th July was a beautiful, sunny day which began with a visit to the new, pedestrian-friendly Trafalgar Square. Only one road, the one that ran from Pall Mall East, in front of the National Gallery, has been pedestrianised but what a difference it makes: Trafalgar Square now extends, by way of a staircase one quarter the width of the square, across what was Pall Mall East, right up to the stairs of the National Gallery. Now one can stand on the balcony at the front of the gallery and look over the square, with its fountains and lions, like some country squire surveying his estate. And what’s more, the pigeons have gone. People may argue that these were a tourist attraction but I considered them vermin and destructive to the square. They made it a place which one would quickly pass through, rather than wish to stay. Perhaps tourists will now realise that London has more to offer than the opportunity to pick up the odd disease from its winged rats.

My mum had never been to the National Gallery so, seeing as we were there anyway, we had a quick look around. Just like me on my first visit, she was in awe of original paintings by the likes of Rembrandt and Constable: huge, priceless canvases, hundreds of years old and displayed here for free for the nation to appreciate. We resolved to return another day before heading for the other free national institution which neither of us had ever visited before: The Victoria and Albert. On leaving the National Gallery, I deposited five pounds in the donation box. The suggested donation is just one pound but I was feeling flush at the time, what with having a job, and the philanthropist in me figured that my donation would allow others less fortunate than I to view the gallery’s delights for free.

We took a tube to South Kensington and enjoyed a very pleasant, if over-priced, Italian lunch before heading down Exhibition Road for the Victoria and Albert. There were far too many things of interest at the V&A to merit mention here but I particularly enjoyed the historic Japan section, with its Samurai weapons and armour, and the history of British design.

We “did” the V&A in less time than we’d anticipated, so while in the area decided to “do” the Natural History Museum as well. I must confess to being a little disappointed at the latter as the static exhibits which used to dominate the place have now given way to animatronics and interactive displays. If this is what is needed to make natural history interesting for the track suits and baseball caps that were in abundance at the museum though, fair enough I suppose.

The two weeks following that weekend were largely uneventful, apart from a two-day sales training seminar that was held on-site in the first week at my now ex- place of employment, that myself and 14 sales colleagues were obliged to attend. It was mainly the usual Americanised fare of acronyms and role-playing and I am not sufficiently long departed from the job to give a full description of events. Suffice to say that the proceedings were made less tedious by the participants by way of a few challenges involving song lyrics.

The second week was the one at the end of which mother inferior would be visiting. For the uninitiated, “mother inferior” is the screen name of a fellow member of the online B3ta collective to which I belong. My B3tan screen name is “Dog,” or “Diamond Dog.” Mother inferior had been my online shoulder to cry on when I was feeling a little down previously and we quickly progressed from being online and email friends to real-life ones on the phone. Jill and I spoke every night on the phone for two weeks in the lead up to her coming over to stay, ostensibly to attend the annual B3ta bash which was being held that Friday in London. All of the talking that we’d done had made us very close and provided the physical attraction was there when we met on the Thursday, this could be a true love thing.

At 6pm, two weeks ago yesterday, a nervous me greeted a giggling Jill at London Bridge station. After about 20 minutes, it was clear that the physical attraction was indeed there. This was just the final piece of the puzzle as we knew that we liked each other in every other way. Meeting the way that we did was so much easier and less complicated than the physical-attraction-first,-getting-to-know-you-later approach that is the norm. This was a good thing as Jill had travelled on a one-way ticket.

The next day was the day of the B3ta bash and we’d arranged to meet a group of fellow B3tans for pre-bash shenanigans in the afternoon. These people, like all the others that would be there in the evening, were relative strangers, known only to us by their screen names and what they got up to online. Jill and I wore “mother inferior” and “Dog” T-shirts respectively, to aid recognition and had only been in London for 20 minutes when someone stopped us and asked Jill if the name on her shirt was her B3tan one. Had it not been for the shirt, we’d have gone unnoticed but this occurrence was confirmation of the size of the B3ta “secret society,” where membership can sometimes have all the benefits of Freemasonry.

We met “Groovegenerator,” “Tedious,” “Vulga,” “Bovine,” “DarkEdge” and about six others at Namco, next to County Hall, where we played pool and commenced alcohol consumption at 4pm. Others joined us there by virtue of a few of us with mobile phones acting as call centres and co-ordinating movements and meeting points. At around 5.30 (and to give you an idea, here’s something Tedious did – mother inferior and I are bottom left), a dozen or so of us headed for The Salmon and Compass bar in Islington, picking up “Spacefish” on the way. Spacefish, like many others that were with us already or whom we were due to meet, is a minor legend among the B3ta fraternity. Some of these people are reviled as stars among us but I shall not try to explain this here. Suffice to say that they are sufficiently prolific and talented in what they do that they deserve respect.

A few drinks later and our number now double what it was when we arrived, we left The Salmon and Compass and headed for Babushka in Cledonian Road. This was the venue for our bash, where we had two floors and a balcony reserved. Although the two hundred or so people there were relative strangers, we all had something in common through B3ta. The online collective had collected for real and we had a ball. This was only a relatively local gathering. Had the entire collective, which numbers around 14’000, on and off gathered, we’d have needed a somewhat larger venue. Mother inferior and Dog can now count “Martian,” “Mictoboy,” “Professor Fnord” and many others, including those we’d met earlier as real-life friends as well as online ones. B3tans look out for each other, so they’re good friends to have. Which actually leads me quite nicely to the person who’s left a couple of unwanted messages in my guest book lately: I’ve got a pretty good idea of who you are, even though you don’t have the courage to identify yourself directly. There are ways of finding out where you are, which may be beyond me but not my B3tan friends. They, like I, don’t like cowardly trolls, so one word: Don’t. Unless you’re a really curious masochist.

Jill and I reluctantly caught the penultimate train home that night and woke on saturday with hangovers that were a suitable testament to the bash. Once recovered, we decided to undertake some spring-cleaning of my PC as years of downloading various crap had rendered in on the verge of falling over and it had less than 10% hard drive space left. The hard drive was where we concentrated our efforts but cutting a long story short, we were a little over-zealous and we fucked it up. We spent about six hours over the following three days trying to rectify the problem before conceding defeat and calling in a PC repair man. The computer is now running just as it did when I first got it and we managed to blag some software into the bargain, which was nice. Thank you Bill Gates and your crappy security.

As well as the friday, I had the monday and tuesday off of work and the return on wednesday came around far to quickly. Fortunately, the return to work was brief as it was on the wednesday that I was made redundant. Before that happened, I’d left home with a packed lunch made by Jill in my briefcase and was looking forward to a dinner that she was preparing on my return. I have always prided myself on being domesticated, preparing my own dinner after a day at work and not relying on a microwave ready meal. Although I protested with Jill, she was insistent that if I was the one working all day, she would lighten the domestic workload. Who was I to argue?

I spent the best part of wednesday afternoon using the firm’s phone to call various contacts and play upon the fact that in the printing industry, the drums of the jungle beat loud. I owe gratitude to many friends and contacts but a few good friends are worthy of special gratitude and to Claire, Karl, Mark and Nick especially, I extend heartfelt thanks for your help. As I said at the top, I have now found alternative employment and start on monday. The basic salary in the new job is significantly less than the relative luxury which my former one afforded me but, combined with Jill’s money, we can pay the bills and have a little left over. The low salary will give me an increased determination to win business and therefore supplement the basic wage with commission. The job sees a return to commercial print sales, so wins should be easier to come by than they were in the corporate finance sector which I have just left. Less guaranteed cash will also lend a sense of urgency to making the new venture that Jill and I have started a success.

It was on saturday that the two of us were discussing our options and when I suggested that perhaps now was the time for me to realise a personal ambition and start a business of my own. I have nothing further to lose, after all. We compared our various skills and attributes and on saturday evening, Webbyfeet was born.

Jill is very skilled in web design and combined with some business ideas that I have, we decided that we could make ideal partners in business, as well as in life. Unlike most web design firms we will not be designing sites that are laden with flash animations and so on, preferring simplicity and ease of navigation. Ours and the research of others have found this to be what most people browsing the web look for. We will also be able to be very competitive, as at the outset, this is something that we’ll be running in our spare time and something that we’d like, rather than need, to make money from. We’ve asked friends to critique the web site and the feedback has been universally good. What has provided particularly positive feedback is our pricing as, like our web site, our name and our designs, it is slightly quirky, certainly innovative and we hope, refreshing: if we design a web site that someone doesn’t like, they don’t pay. If they like what we’ve done, they pay what they perceive it to be worth. Sure, that’s a policy open to abuse but we trust people as we expect them to trust us. Besides, if anyone were to really muck us about, we have friends.

So, if anyone knows of an individual or small business, that needs an affordable, innovative web design or web-support, we’d be grateful of any recommendations at webbyfeet.co.uk

All of which pretty much brings me up to date on the events of the last month, at the end of which Jill is here to stay, I have a partner for life, in all respects and we have a business in which we both share a passion and confidence.

The future’s bright. The future has orange webby feet:

Edit: Almost forgot the web finds:

Operation Slaps: The playground game of “slaps” is now on the web, and less painful.

Tunnel Surfing Game: Very pretty and very addictive.

Boil the Kiddies: You control a witch. Pick up the little brats and drop them in the cauldrons. Yay!

Cloudbusting: Point your mouse at the clouds to make them rain on the grass and grow flowers. Aw!

Chat to Google: Download MSN Messenger, add “chattogoogle@hotmail.com” as a contact and speak to God. After all, Google knows all.

Talking Computer: Just type something at the command prompt and see what it says. Try “wanna cyber?”

Fuck up your eyes: This is the optical illusion to end them all as it’ll fuck up your eyes.

 

Previously…

The “Towl”

Can’t fly very fast. (C) Dog

Smoking harms your unborn child

No it doesn’t: it makes them into cool freaks. (C) Dog

No wonder it crashed

What with NASA’s budget cuts. (C) Dog

This just in (my garden)

I think it’s called a Velociphant. (c) Dog

 

Mis-spent weekend

Sunday 29 June, 2003. Current mood:

 

(C) Tedious

It’s amazing how my moods change week on week sometimes but I guess that’s a reflection of my life at the moment.

The reason for my current mood is the fact that this weekend has been spent not doing what I’d planned to do. Last Sunday I met an absolutely wonderful woman whom I hit it off with straight away. We got on so well from the start and had so much in common that it was almost as though we were meant to be together. In fact, after only two days of knowing one another, our conversation was taking the form of talking about the future and as each of us spoke, that future included the other. We’d planned to spend this weekend together but alas on wednesday we had to cancel. I shall not go into detail as to be honest, I’ve not totally grasped the complexity of the situation myself. Put simply though, my other-half-to-be had past issues that she felt didn’t allow her to enter into another long-term relationship. She told me this whilst we were having a drink outside a pub on Beachy Head (always a good place to receive bad news). Unfortunately for me, that’s not the be all and end all of it. In fact it was her fondness for me that prevented her from allowing the relationship to go any further as she was afraid of being hurt. It goes without saying that I would not harm someone whom I feel so strongly about but I’m still a relative stranger to her and she has no reason to trust me on that. The bottom line, by her own admission, is that I’m too nice. The situation is one of paradox, which might explain why I don’t understand it. Right now, we’ve agreed to leave it, I think. I hope I hear from her as she made me feel like a teenager again. Oh for those halcyon days of a mis-spent youth back. How I miss them.

So this weekend has been spent moping, getting drunk and spending far too much time with my B3tan collective friends, one of whom took me under her wing when I needed someone to talk to in my time of need. This collective to which I belong probably sounds very strange to the outsider but to me, B3ta is a second home. I wouldn’t expect anyone who visited the place to understand that as it takes a certain kind of person. Like me, I suppose. It’s not a physical place, it’s an online community but so much more besides. It’s not a cult but a collection of like-minded people, sharing a similar sense of humour but whom one can also call trusted friends, even though the majority of them remain faceless. Mother Inferior, as my B3tan counsellor is known, produced a Photoshopped portrait of me that reflected my mood quite well at the time:

 

(C) Mother Inferior

In a strange way, it cheered me up.

As I’ve mentioned previously, every week at B3ta we have an image-manipulation challenge thought up by the warped minds of the collective. This week the challenge was to imagine an alternative world where smoking was good and healthy, and to come up with ideas for “International Smoking Day.” Among my ideas, this was the one that shouted out to be made:

 

Caption: The tobacco giants rebuilt the World Trade Centre and every year on International Smoking Day, they’d turn on the special light and smoke display to celebrate the humble cigarette

 

(C) Dog (that’s me)

 

I guess that’s a one way ticket to hell for me but I shan’t be alone. We just share a sick sense of humour, so I’m in the right place when in residence at my second home, “home” perhaps being the operative word for where I belong.

And thanks to B3ta, I give you the following fun things from the interweb:

All music is shit: Enter your favourite singer, band, album or song and this site will slag it off. Just that.

Salt maze for slugs: The things some people do to put on the web are often perplexing, which is why it’s such a great place, I suppose: this bloke made a salt maze and put a slug in the centre of it to see if it could find its way out.

Right, I’m off to get drunk again and to celebrate the fact that in six months’ time my daily commute into London ought to improve as those cnuts Connex have been served notice. What a mis-spent weekend.

 

Waiting and GameParking

Sunday 22 June, 2003. Current mood:

The original pic was thus: and my fellow B3tan, Scoopzilla Photoshopped it, so thanks for that mate. The thing is, I didn’t even ask him to: I was just browsing the B3ta messageboard, where members of the collective to which I belong post messages and amusing pictures they’ve made, and there I was. The trouble with posting pictures of yourself is that they’re sitting ducks for abuse. I think Scoop’s job here though is fucking hilarious.

One of the many current image manipulation themes is cross-breeding animals. For example, you get a picture of a dog and a picture of a cat, mix them up in an image manipulation program thing and produce a hybrid, in the case of the cat / dog to produce a “cog” or a “dat”. Traditionally, I’ve merely “lurked” at b3ta, just watching what other people are doing and gaining great amusement from it. Recently though I’ve begun to make my own pictures and post them. My latest creation is a hybrid buck / fox. I give you the fuck box:

It’s crap but I’m still practising.

It was thanks to another B3tan, Barnesy, that I got my GamePark32 working this weekend. It arrived on Wednesday and although I’m quite computer savvy, I’m also impatient. Although it’s a games console, using the GP32 isn’t just a matter of slotting in a cartridge and playing a game. First you have to install the appropriate emulator so the thing can emulate the computer or console that you wish to play games for. Once that’s done, you have to find ROM images of games and install those. Anyway, it’s taken most of the weekend but thanks to Barnesy and a couple of late nights, I’m done. My GP32 is now emulating the Atari ST and I’m playing Xenon, Dungeon Master and many other classic retro delights from the days when games were playable. It’s also emulating an old PC and I’ve installed Doom on it. Envy me, GBA owners on the train tomorrow.

Talking of trains, I had the biggest arse of a journey home on friday and one that typified the general crapness of our rail network. I’d left work early at five O’clock and was looking forward to getting back to Tonbridge and meeting some mates for a drink in a pub garden, the evening being so fine and sunny. I was originally due to go for a date on Friday (see below) but that has been postponed. More on that in a moment.

Arriving at Waterloo East station at 5.15, it was clear that all was not as it should be (nothing new there) as the next train to Tonbridge was the late-running 4.13 service. There appeared to be three or four other trains heading my way behind that though, so I figured if the first train was packed, I’d just wait for the next one. The platform that all of my trains were due on was actually closed, so I and many hundreds of others were directed onto an adjacent platform. Just the one platform this was, for every single commuter heading out of London to squeeze onto. Laying claim to my postage stamp-sized piece of platform, I waited. And waited and waited some more, while none of my advertised trains turned up. At this point I was fortunate enough to spot a fellow Tonbridge person and it was actually thanks to my new friend Chloe that we progressed from there. We were standing at the far end of the platform where there aren’t actually any PA system speakers, relying on the visual clues that our trains were due, these being the departure boards that still advertised said services.

After a further four trains that weren’t going our way passed through, Chloe decided to ask a member of staff what was going on. It turned out that there’d been a fire at Charing Cross station: a train had caught light and they’d closed five platforms as a result. I know there are health and safety issues but surely that’s overdoing it somewhat? So, with just three platforms dispensing and receiving trains from Charing Cross, the decision had been made apparently to divert all mainline (our) services out of Victoria. We thanked the platform staff person for not having told us this before, as well as for the general abundance of information available generally and wondered what to do next. Oh, and apparently the trains still advertised on the departure boards for our line no longer existed, “innit?” Don’t ask. We didn’t.

Then we were told that Hastings line (more of our) services were running from London Bridge, so we squeezed onto the next train to arrive and went there. Upon arrival, there was a train on the opposite platform announced as being a Hastings service, even though it said “Cannon Street” on the side (those Connex cunts scamps!) So we boarded, only to be told that this train was fast to Tunbridge Wells and therefore didn’t stop at Tonbridge. But, we protested, surely we could make an additional stop as there are apparently no trains to Tonbridge at the moment? Apparently this would cause disruption to services. Because they weren’t fucked up at all already, were they? So, off we got and then we heard that a Tonbridge service was due on a different platform, which we made our way toward. Well, we couldn’t even get onto the platform as it was six people deep, so our chances of getting on the train were somewhere between none and er, none.

At this point, I applied a little lateral thought and pointed out to my companion that we could travel via Redhill and change there for a connecting service to Tonbridge. This would take us longer to get home but was an option that had not occured to many people, judging by the number of them on the platform we’d just failed to get onto. The next Redhill train was due to depart in five minutes and was on the complete opposite side of the station to where we currently were. A quick sprint though and we made it.

Then we heard an announcement that an additional service on our main line was due to depart in twenty minutes but it was a direct service, so we’d get home earlier. It was on the side of the station where we now were so we figured we had a good chance of procuring seats. We did, and with twenty minutes before departure, I suggested that we get some drinks. It was now just after 7pm and I certainly needed one, as did my new friend. Twenty minutes later and the train pulled out. Chloe and I toasted the fantastic service that our rail operators, erm, “operate” and I finally got home at 8.30. In no country other than this would the public not riot at such a shambolic state of affairs. It’s no wonder us Brits are so good at queueing and waiting. My mates had moved on by the time I got back so I just went straight home and got very drunk.

If only my date hadn’t been postponed, I’d have been out in London on friday night and therefore travelling home after all the shit had died down. I’m not bitter at my date: she had her reasons, which I understand. I’ve asked her whether we might try again but thus far I’ve not heard back in the affirmative. I happen to know that she’s quite shy and nervous and if I’m honest, so am I. This will be the first time we’ve been out, after all. I just hope that she can find it in herself to want to get to know me better and agree to go out with me. I just know she’ll overcome her nerves after just a short while with me, as those who know me will testify that I’m a friendly kinda guy and so easy to get on with. Aren’t I? Maybe that’s what I should do: give her a “get out clause” and tell her that if after an hour or so she wants to leave, I shall understand.

If the trains are as fucked up this friday as they were last, I hope she likes me enough to stay out for the whole evening. Before that though, I truly hope to hear her response to my proposal and hope that it’s a “yes”.

Patient person that I am, I shall continue to wait in hope.

 

Always read the smallprint*

Sunday 15 June, 2003. Current mood:

In the glass: cider (I found some). In the CD-player: Madness. Just Madness. All five albums in fact. Film watched last night: Nationale 7, a French film set in a special needs home. Funny and sad at the same time. In my movie equation method of summing up a film, this would be Crazy People + Tod Browning’s Freaks + Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (Idioterne), with a surprisingly touching ending. 4/5.

Whilst not being arty, I’ve been awaiting delivery of my GP32, as previously described here. It’s not turned up yet due to my credit card company’s inability to accept payment on any day other than that on which they direct debit from my bank account. This despite my making an over-the-counter payment at my bank in cash in order to give me sufficient credit on my card to pay for said GP32. At the moment, the credit card company have accepted my payment but on questioning, have referred me to the smallprint on my statement that says that additional payments made to one’s account are ignored, or something. Cnuts!

I’ve also been meeting people and the reason for my current mischievous Cheshire cat happiness is a particular young lady, whom I shall say nothing about till after our first date in London on Friday.

When one is happy, time seems to fly by and it seems as though I was only here a few days ago. Oh, I was. In that case there’s little to say and I just hope that the next week hastens to Friday. Until I’m next here then, here’s a few things I’ve found to amuse yourselves with:

You must choose: a series of sometimes tricky moral dilemnas. For example, “You must fuck some-one once. By doing so, you will inherit their wealth but only for the period of time that they are famous. Thereafter, you’re flat broke: A. Avril Lavigne; B. David Bowie.” Actually, I made that one up. I know which one I would though. There are similarly simple ones but many are actually quite thought-provoking. And you get to see which voting group you fall into. You’ll get the idea.

Revenge on the spammers: this is the tale of Steve Thompson, who got one over on a Nigerian “419” spammer. The 419 spam / scam is the one that’s been running for years whereby a supposed dictatorship escapee pleads for assistance in liberating millions of dollars from the country escaped from in return for a cut. This guy actually saw it through, to a fashion. Interesting reading along the lines of the now infamous Junk mail check deposited by Patrick Combs in 1995.

Lego treasure hunt: a puzzle / adventure game made entirely of Lego. It’s sometimes amazing the depth of games that are available for free and without download on the net.

Sleepy Kittens: a video and song about cats and their love of sleep by Rob Manuel, who’s one of the founders of b3ta, the online collective of which I’m a member and where I spend far too much time with others finding the links that I post here. I’m going to the b3ta bash in London on July 18th and this is by way of a tribute for the invite from the man himself (which was actually an open invitation but I asked if I could go and he said I could). Well, I think it’s funny. The kittens, not the invite.

Britney’s naked cat-a-phone: still in the feline theme and again by Rob Manuel. Utter stupidity but that’s what the Internet’s for surely? Makes me laugh but then I suppose it would.

Top ten cutest kittens (NSFW*): and a third and final kitten / Rob Manuel thing. If you’ve seen ratemykitten, then you’ll know what to expect.

And with that, I’m off in the hope that this week speeds past and that Friday arrives post haste. I shall leave you with a joke:

How do you titillate an Oscelot? Oscillate its tits alot.

/ Coat

 

* NSFW = Not Suitable For Work

(always read the smallprint)

 

A week and a half

Thursday 12 June, 2003. Current mood:

In the glass: cider, which is becoming hard to come by in Tonbridge of late. I always knew that I drunk a lot of the stuff but surely I cannot be the sole reason for this town’s shortage? There’s a plate next to the glass and it is currently host to a BLT burger that I just made and am currently eating and dropping bits of into the keyboard at the same time.

Unusually, I’m writing this on a thursday as today has been the first in the last week and a half that I’ve had time to do so. Last weekend was mis-spent and the weeks that last weekend is sandwiched between have been busy both professionally and personally. Suffice to say at this stage that my beloved London could soon play a lesser or greater role in both capacities over the next couple of months, so watch this space.

My current happiness is on account of my awaiting delivery of a GP32 from GBAX.com: the GP32, AKA GamePark32 is a Korean hand-held games console along the lines of the Gameboy Advance (GBA) but with a number of differences: the GBA is the Nintendo’s popular hand-held gaming thing that I see many sad people holding in their hands on the train on my daily commute into work. I say sad people as the device that they hand-hold costs around 70 quid, has a CPU speed of 14mhz and will only play Nintendo games at a cost of 30 or so pounds per cartridge. The GP32, on the other hand costs 120 quid and that’s where the differences start: the latter runs at 133mhz, so it’s ten times faster than the GBA. It has its own operating system, like a scaled-down Windows, which is inter-changeable for say, Lynux, so it’s programmable. More importantly, it’s open-source, so anyone with coding skills can write their own copyright-free games for the thing. Most importantly though, the GP32 can run emulation software, freely available on the Internet. This means that it can be a Sinclair Spectrum, Atari 2600 / 5200 / 7800 or Jaguar, a C64, Atari ST, NES, SNES, Megadrive, PC Engine (playing original “Doom” and “Quake” ROMs, and even a MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator). As the owner of a GP32, I will have no need ever to buy a game to run on the thing as it’s all available for free.

The GP32 is also an MP3 and digital movie player and with the right attachments it can be a digital camera and TV. All that and two decades of retro-gaming in one’s hands: I really should get a life and find better things to do with my hands. Until I do, my fingers have been clicking and found the following:

Insect-eating game: control the rather odd Butch and catch insects. Simple but nice.

iSketch: it’s been around for a while but only recently have I become addicted. You will too, I promise.

Snake Jump: it’s got a 3D snake and looks nice.

Interactive human beatbox: Err…

 

And now to bed. Goodnight.

 

That was the week that was

Sunday 01 June, 2003. Current mood: /

In the glass to my left: Ice cold cider. Currently in the CD player: “Ok Computer” by Radiohead. Film watched this week: It’s a Wondeful Life – Not the kind of film that I’d normally watch but I’m glad I caught this on FilmFour last weekend. I was feeling a little low and this film gave me a lift. A classic from 1946 when films had to rely on good stories, acting and direction and couldn’t hide behind special effects and CGI. 4/5.

This week began on a tragic note when I learned of the sudden death of a very dear friend. On Tuesday, I’d been at my firm’s Birmingham office. We have offices in Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, New York and Birmingham and it was the latter that was chosen as the venue for a meeting last week. Having set out at 6am and returned home at 9pm, I was pretty shattered and certainly not prepared for the news that was about to be broken to me. My friend Pete called at just after 10 and the lateness of his call alerted me to the fact that this might not be just a friendly call and indeed it wasn’t. It was Pete’s unfortunate duty to tell me of the death of our former colleague and close friend Trish, who had been taken suddenly at the age of just 30-something. She was a mother figure to me and always joked that one day she’d be able to buy a nice new hat when I, her “boy”, finally got married. She was hoping to model new headwear at the marriage of Helen and I when things between us two looked to be heading that way but alas she was denied the pleasure. I shall miss my friend and surrogate “mum” dearly and will shed a tear on Wednesday when we bid her farewell but take comfort in the fact that she is now free of the health problems that beset her in life and is now living the next part of life, as I believe we all do when we depart this existence.

As soon as I learned of Trish’s death, I phoned the first person that I thought of: Helen. She was wonderful, as she was on Friday when I saw her. Friday was my birthday and although there were many people whom I could have seen, I chose to spend the evening with Helen as I felt it a good opportunity to tie up some loose ends that I thought still dangled since we split. In short, we spent the evening slagging one another off but it was a constructive exercise. We agreed with hindsight that we weren’t meant to be together as we were not compatable. The bloke she’s with now seems to understand her better than I ever could and so they’re better suited as a couple than she and I were. At the end of Friday evening, we hugged and went our seperate ways. Yesterday, unlike the day after I’d previously seen her, I felt enlightened. It’s taken a couple of months but thanks to Helen herself, I’m truly over her and have my life back, as she did hers by ridding it of me.

Yesterday I travelled to Hertfordshire to spend the best part of the weekend with my friend Sarah and the time spent with her really was the best part of my weekend in all respects. Yesterday afternoon we had lunch in her lovely home town of Ware then spent yesterday evening at her house and that of her next door neighbours. I met some truly lovely friends of Sarah’s and enjoyed my birthday weekend thanks to all of them. Sarah had hung a “Happy Birthday” thing in her living room and bought me a birthday cake, which I thought very sweet (the sentiment, as well as the cake). Today she cooked a lovely lunch for which we were joined by yet more friends, before driving me home.

Probably the most comforting thing I heard when Helen and I split was when my friend Mark at work said that I could look forward to falling in love all over again. Until now I’ve not really thought I could but someone whom I met this weekend encouraged me, not by anything that she said but by simply being. A particular friend of Sarah’s set off feelings in me that I’ve not had since I first met Helen and last fell in love. I’m not saying I’m in love, that takes time. I did feel that familiar and pleasant something though that I’ve not felt for a while and that you feel when you meet someone with whom you click. The person in question was due to go on a date today so I’m not even thinking of pursuing the matter. I’m just happy that I can feel that certain something that I thought I might not again.

Trish: you will be able to get that new hat one day, and I just know you’ll be at my wedding.

_____

New finds this week:

How dodgy are you? – this site tells you how many years in jail your secret misdemeanours would have earned you. Entertaining and proof that I’d do a lot of porridge if ever anyone knew all that I’ve got up to in the past.

Headbutt the screen – move your mouse and make a bloke headbutt the screen. Very therapeutic actually.

Mini Baywatch-type game – save Laydeez in distress whilst avoiding jellyfish and speedboats. Kind of like “Frogger” but better.

Interactive penguins – control the penguins with your mouse. Similar to the lovely analysts from a few weeks back.

 

Limbering up

Sunday 25 May, 2003. Current mood:

The reason for my current annoyance is my new next door neighbours: for the past couple of hours, they’ve been playing Celine Dion at full volume and with the windows open as they seem to believe that the rest of us around here want to hear the Canadian-froggy warbler. We do not and I shall pop next door and inform them of such if it’s still going on by the time I’ve finished this.

This will be a brief entry as I am about to undertake a couple of writing projects. One is a short story and the other my novel. So if they’re the hundred metre sprint and marathon respectively, I’ve come here to get my writing flowing. This is the crouching down at the starting blocks then standing up and looking stupid doing warm-up exercises bit.

Since the split with Helen, my writing has suffered somewhat in that I’ve not been arsed to do any. The few attempts that I had at short stories turned out so morose that the only escapism they would provide for readers would be an escape from life by way of suicide.

I am happy to report in all honesty (having reported self-deludingly previously), that I am completely over Helen, or rather have come to terms with the situation. This has been largely due to the support of friends, some of whom I’d neglected to keep in touch with whilst with Helen but who fortunately have remained true friends despite this, by being there for me in the aftermath. I thank you all.

Helen also has played a role in my getting over her by being characteristically blunt and telling me that she wants no contact from me if that contact is to take the form of moping. Since my last mope to her on the phone I’ve not spoken to her.

Further support has come from my occasional little Saturday night visitor, who as well as showing me that there are girls besides Helen for mutual entertainment, company and so on, has read my short stories and given me encouragement. She has built my confidence as a person and as a writer. Most recently this encouragement came last night.

So this afternoon I’ve been reading “Writer’s News” and am about to pen a story for a competition therein. About half a dozen sheets of frantically scrawled notes are on my dining table waiting to be turned into stories. Beneath those and the weekend papers somewhere is the synopsis for my novel, which I plan to write a more detailed chapter plan for.

In order to write, I require relative peace and quiet which is being denied me by my neighbours still. These are the kind of people who like Celine bloody Dion because “well, she’s got a nice voice, aint she?”; the kind of people who watch “Stars in Their Eyes” and vote for the person who tries to emulate someone they like, even if the impersonator is no good; the kind of people who probably had friends round last night for a “Eurovision Song Contest” party. During said contest, the UK received a total of “nil points” from our European neighbours. Neighbours? Cunts!

So off I set and I shall leave you with the following:

Throwy, catchy ball game: for one or two players, the idea is to catch your opponent’s balls (arf!) whilst trying to throw yours so that he can’t. Each time you out-wit him, a level of flooring is removed from beneath him. You’ll get the idea.

Platform cow game: collect the vitamin pills and jump on the bacteria. Kind of like Sonic but with pills instead of rings. And a cow instead of a hedgehog.

 

New favourite joke

Tuesday 20 May, 2003. Current mood:

(C) Humandescent

(Edit: Thanks once again to my friend and mentor Emma for her spooky (but nice) ability to get right inside my mind last night and actually tell me what I was thinking without me realising myself: you’re the best girl.)

I apologise in advance but today my favourite joke (what did the slug say to the snail? “Big Issue mate?”) was superceded:

Two pregnant Irish ladies are knitting jumpers for their unborn offspring. One says to the other, “I hope mine’s a boy cos my wool’s blue.” The other one says, “Well, I hope mine’s a spacker cos I fucked up the arms.”

(I’m so very sorry. I’ll get my coat…)

 

Sofa, so good

Sunday May 18, 2003. Current mood:

(C) MrSheep

In the mug to my left: Coffee, lots of cream lots of sugar (I’m tired as well as sad). Musical entertainment is courtesy of “The Amp” on digital satellite.

Films watched this week: Dog soldiers – Great modern British horror. Imagine a cross between “An American Werewolf in London” and “Night of The Living Dead”, throw in some black humour and this is the result. 3/5; Panic Room – Very tense and atmospheric drama. And with my acting heroine Jodie Foster in the lead role to boot. 3/5.

The reason for my sadness and tiredness is Helen, in a nutshell. Although I’ve tried to tell myself that I should be over her by now, I guess you just don’t get over someone that quickly if you truly love them as I did her, and still do. She’s moved on and I should too but I can’t because I’m not ready. It obviously takes some people longer than others. I still wish her well and care only for her happiness.

Recently when Helen and I have spoken on the phone it’s almost been as though there’s a game of one-upmanship going on between us, with her telling me that she’s happy (good) and me telling her that I’m likewise (a lie). I’m not too proud to admit this, nor that my greatest wish will not be granted me: that of getting Helen back. I do have another wish though and that is that she might phone me soon and that we might have a conversation where she tells me that she cares about me enough as a friend to listen to me being truthful. I’ve not spoken to her this week as I’ve been loathe to interrupt her life. I would value an intrusion from her into my life, which is somewhat barren without her. Just a phone call would be so fulfilling for me right now. I hope that wish can be granted today, on what would have been the first day of our 22nd month together.

Anyway, besides moping I have been keeping busy over the last couple of weeks since I was last here. I’ve been re-establishing contact with a few more old friends and am very much looking forward to my birthday weekend, the weekend after next when I’m staying in Hertfordshire with my very dear friend and first true love, Sarah. Before then, next weekend is one of options as a number of invitations have come along at once like proverbial London buses.

This weekend has been spent at home in a vegetative state, as I didn’t actually bother to arrange anything social. Instead I’ve been watching films, reading, writing and being geeky tinkering with the computer. On Friday I had a new graphics card with TV-out fitted. Together with my cordless keyboard and mouse, this has facilitated my current position: slumped on the sofa, writing this entry on the TV screen. And this is where I intend to stay for the rest of the day, pee breaks aside, browsing the web, watching films and hoping for that phone call to breathe a little life into me.

Whilst spending far too much time on the Internet recently, I’ve found these:

Another Japanese game: this involves not touching the sides (arf!), along the lines of those games where you have to pass a metal loop along a bendy wire without setting off the buzzer. A steady hand required.

Switch zoo: a bit like Mr. Potatohead but with animal body parts. Get creative and make your very own freak.

Pastaroids: Asteroids with pasta shapes. Groovy!

I also found a little comfort in the two blokes below. If ever I’m tempted to think that spending a weekend home alone makes me sad and that I should get out more and find a girlfriend, I’ll be reassured by the knowledge that there are those far, far sadder than I:

Find me a wife: this bloke has been let down by dating agencies and web sites, so has set up his own site where he’s looking for his ideal wife. Nothing too unusual in that, apart from the fact that he could go out and meet people. What’s interesting is how, as you read on, the guy’s unfolding weirdness becomes apparent.

Sleazy Gigolo: this guy is just a little tragic, and he looks ridiculous. Good luck to him if he’s making money from it but for me this is sadder-than-I and a demonstration of the magic of the Internet: you can laugh at people without them hitting you.

Maybe I’ll build a new web site…

Addendum

Further to this entry, I spoke to Helen: I relented and called her. In a stroke she told me to buck up and stop being so miserable as she doesn’t like me being that way (for her benefit rather than mine). She said that she wants to be friends but not if I continue to mope. She was blunt as ever, perhaps on account of me interrupting her while rushed off of her feet and generally a little stressed.

We didn’t speak for long and Helen said that it would be a while before we spoke again, due to her workload. It made me feel better though, having spoken to her.

I subsequently got a call tonight from my friend Emma in Exeter, who pre-Helen, was my writing soothsayer, and who’d read here of my sadness. It’s cheered me no end to hear from yet another true friend.

Breaking up is hard but friends with time to spare are the best cure for a healing heart. And so, with thanks to my supporting cast, I am able to lift my arse off of this supporting sofa and retire to bed.

Night all.

 

Breaking old news…

Wednesday May 07, 2003:

I’ve received many emails at work of late with “amusing attachments”. Due to my new-found singleton-ness and geekdom, I’d seen most of them weeks ago when they appeared in their original guises, due to interracting online with fellow geeky people. One of the purposes of this bit of the site and the email that goes out whenever a new entry is made, is to alert people with more fulfilling lives than I that myself and my fellow geeks have served as “filters” and only report on the good stuff. Today, we found these:

Kick ups: Keep the ball in the air with your mouse. Quite difficult and furiously addictive.

Mini Golf: A real mini golf course, on your screen. Wicked!

Ant City: This is fucking great! Imagine you’re looking over a city and that you’re giant-sized. And you have a fucking great magnifying glass in your hand. And the sun’s shining. Those aint ants down there. Them’s liitle people, trying to get home from work. Get them under your magnifying glass and focus the sun’s rays. Warm ’em up and: kaboom! This is what the net was made for. And then there’s the cars (focus, focus). And the oil truck. Oh, get that fucker!

Japanese shoot-em-up: This am the best though. It’s a first-person shooter, kinda like doom. But simpler. And more fun. Some of the animation is much amusing. Yay to the Jap art of animation.

And me? Tonight I have been reading Modern Drunkard Magazine: The article on the virtues of getting drunk in one’s own company was particularly poignant. My inner monkey is waiting in my bed, so I shall away to play with him.

 

This just in

Tuesday May 06, 2003: I found another Poem generator today. These proliferate on the net but this one’s a little different: you enter a web address and it sends a spider bot thing to pick up key words from the text on that page. For my front page it came up with this:

 

Welcome to disk in any form without the file

If your questions answered, interrogate me

May be viewed with the spider a starman waiting in a goat

out the Typewriter font click here.

I intended them to get a spastic as writing cooking, eating, crosswording,

searching for ET, my birthday suit.

This site is Major Tom to stevelaker.net:

the snake and I know out the sky

The size of something alcoholic and vice versa.

 

Kinda weird, in many ways: surreal accuracy being one of them.

 

T.F.F.T

Monday 05 May, 2003. Current mood:

Thank fuck for that: the weekend’s over. I’m not glad that the weekend is over, per se, rather that the spring-cleaning which I undertook at the beginning of the weekend is.

The pile of poo that pertains to be my computer had developed a bit of limp lately so I decided this weekend to sort it out, either by cleansing it or throwing it out of the window. Fortunately, the former approach has worked and now my measly Celeron 433 with 56k dial-up is performing more like a Pentium 4 2GHZ with broadband might, on a particularly bad day.

My clean-up operation began on Saturday when I downloaded Spybot: Search and Destroy, which identified and removed no fewer than 200 bots, spiders, adware apps and other shit from my hard drive.

The next problem to address was the 100 or so spam emails that land in my inbox every day. Mailwasher is well on the way to filtering the nasties out, bouncing them with an auto-generated email that tells the spam server that my email address doesn’t exist. In time, the spam servers will remove me from their mailiing lists.

Of course, the reason for my problems is my proliferation of net activity attracting attention to myself through newsgroup posts, messageboard activity and domain ownership. Occasional geek became total geek this weekend when not only did I undertake the above preventative measures but I also changed my browser software.

Mozilla is a far superior browser to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer: it’s a smaller but faster program, it has an email client, web page composer and chat client integrated and it’s open-source. It’s also freeware.

And now, after sitting at this keyboard till 1.15 this morning, having previously spent the majority of Saturday and yesterday here and finally eight hours today, my system is purged and I’m happy with the improvement almost to the point of banging one out.

I’m too knackered for that though, so instead will now retire to the calling of the sofa and crash out in front of the TV for the conclusion of the snooker final.

Good evening.

 

My left hand

Monday 05 May, 2003: 01.15am.

What am I doing still up, you may wonder. And so do I.

I was just pondering a “screen name” and an alternative name for this site: I have nothing better to keep me awake.

For some reason my left-handedness sprung forth into my mind and to all ICQ people, henceforth I should like to be called “Sinistrophile”.

Good innit?

You will no doubt be wondering where such a name came from, so I shall attempt to explain: A “-phile” is the opposite of a “-phobic”, the same as a “-philiac” mirrors a “-phobiac”: the former loves with a passion that which the latter fears. “Sinistro-” is the prefix of all things left-handed and it sounds quite good, don’t you agree?

Anyway, I’m left-handed and proud of being a spastic in that sense and am therefore glad to have blagged sinistrophilia.com and .net as domain names tonight.

Whilst I wait for said names to procreate and having no girlfriend, I just ate the proverbial Pot Noodle, so all that remains is to wank furiously. With my left hand.

 

A wise man said…

Sunday 04 May, 2003. Current mood:

(C) Crap PaintShopping by me

On the saucer to my left: the remnants of a bacon croissant with extra fall-down-into-the-keyboard bits, that I had for brunch this morning. Since then I’ve been in geek mode, talking to friends overseas on ICQ, downloading stuff and toying with Paint Shop Pro. No musical entertainment this week as it’s the snooker final today so I’ve got that on the TV. Both the finalists have won the compo before so there’s no underdog to support. Also, one’s a Taff and the other’s a Paddy, so I’m really lost on who to support. I’ll just appreciate the gameplay and sportsmanship that exemplifies the game.

Talking of sportsmanship, or rather gentlemanly conduct in general, I had a conversation this week with someone whose name I cannot mention but suffice to say that it was interesting and informative. This certain gentleman told me something and swore me to secrecy. Gentleman’s honour dictates that I shall respect his wish and we shook on it. I mention it only because it gave me hope and comfort and those are two emotions that have dominated my heart this week.

On Wednesday, I visited my sister in Kent and Canterbury hospital, following the birth of my niece (see below). I am not the paternal type and even on the train to Canterbury I was unsure of what my reaction might be to this unprecedented occurrence. I was sure that I would remain composed and absolutely determined that I wouldn’t succumb to any bouts of cooing, which quite frankly make me reach for the nearest bucket when watching others make fools of themsleves with such displays.

I’d not been to Canterbury since my childhood, when I visited the cathedral and was struck by the sheer size of the place (Canterbury, as well as the cathedral). Working in London must have had an effect on me as my first thought upon arrival at Canterbury West station was how small it was (the station, as well as Canterbury). I sought directions from the station to the hospital from a cabbie outside the former and he very kindly offered to take me there. The journey was pleasant and it struck me that despite the difference in size between the two cities, they have at least one thing in common: friendly, helpful cabbies. An engaging conversation formed the soundtrack to the journey, during which I spoke of Helen and how I rue our split (something I’ve been doing to anyone prepared to listen lately) and also of Alice, my niece.

Negotiating my way through the warren that are the corridoors of the maternity wing, I located my sister, gave her a peck on the cheek and said “hiya” in the half second that it took my to scan the bay and spy Alice in her cot. “Aaww, look at you! Aren’t you gorgeous? Aah, bless you. You’re so cute aren’t you? Coochy coochy coo!”

Fuck!

I’m bound to be biased but Alice really is a lovely baby, with her mannerisms and facial expressions, as well as just being a cute little Human being. I got to hold her and spoke simultaneously to her and my sister as I did so. I said how wonderful it was that this new life could be created and that here it was, out in the big wide world with a whole life ahead. Cradling this precious, vulnerable little person made me feel somehow strong and brought a lot of things into perspective. For a moment it were as though nothing else mattered and I was truly humbled by the experience. Incredible I thought, that a new life, with no experience and total innocence, can be so comforting and give so much hope to a world-wise soul such as I. It’s difficult to explain the feeling in words as it was just that: a feeling.

I am truly proud of our new arrival and of my sister, who will be a wonderful mother to Alice and no doubt others. Maybe one day, I in turn will make her an aunt.

I was due to visit Alice again today, with my parents. I have chosen not to though, as I saw Helen last night, who is unwell. I didn’t wish to run the risk of passing anything on to the little one.

Last night was the first time in three weeks that I’d seen Helen. We had arranged to meet a couple of times prior to last night but on both occasions I didn’t feel that I was ready. To be honest, I wasn’t totally sure that I was last night but my fears faded when I met Helen and we got along just fine. I suppose my main fear was of all my feelings manifesting themselves and I getting emotional as a result. I’ve done well in coping lately but our contact has been confined to telephone conversations. When I say “coping,” I mean keeping my emotions in check and gradually repressing them over time. When Helen and I first split, all I could do when we spoke was to ask questions in a hope of understanding what had gone wrong and to offer to make amends. Gradually I’ve come to terms with the way things must be between us, even accepting that Helen is now with someone else. I am able to speak with her as a friend now, with no mention of what was and what might have been. I cannot deny that I still find her incredibly attractive, in all respects but I guess that’s a measure of lasting love. I can’t say I’m not jealous of her new boyfriend either but as I’ve said elsewhere, I care about her enough to wish her only happiness. Last night, despite being ill, I sensed that she was happy. She seemed happy to have seen me too, which is comforting and gives me hope that we can continue to see one another on the same basis as last night.

In the taxi on the way home last night, I spoke of my evening and my week to the driver. Among other things, I mentioned how I wished I’d known that the last time Helen and I had done things was indeed to be the final time. Had I known, things might have been so different. I also spoke of Alice and a parallel was drawn: that of two girls starting anew and who knows what role I might end up playing in those lives.

This realisation somehow gave me hope. It’s difficult to explain the feeling but it’s a comforting one.

___

Also this week, I went looking for things and found these (isn’t the net wonderful?):

The incredible phonebox cam: A great idea. This bloke has a webcam pointed at a phonebox across the street from his house and he’s put the phone number of the box on this page. Watch for someone passing the phonebox and phone it. Great fun! Taking this as an example, another bloke pointed a webcam at a phonebox outside his flat and put it on the net. The site lasted three days before someone verbally abused some kids who answered the phone and the webcam owner got a visit from the police and had to take the site down. Even more fun!

Online graffiti wall: Leave your “tag” on the electronic wall. At the time of posting, the site was about to introduce a “cock filter” as so many people had been drawing cocks and the site owners thought people might want to see the fine works of art on the wall among the cocks but without the cocks. I was “tagger” number 10’458: I drew a cock. An artistic one, mind:

(Clicky to enlarge my cock. I said “enlarge my cock.” Fnaar!)

Spectrum Top Trumps: Remember trump cards? There were space ship ones and monster ones and each card had various attribute scores. The idea was to “trump” your opponent and end up with all his cards. And make him cry. Well, this is a trump card game using Speccy games. Aah, the nostalgia.

Hacker or spacker? First there was “Tash or gash?” then “Lady or lady boy?”, “Real or fake norks?”, “Cleavage or bum-crack”. You know the kind of thing. Many variations have followed but this is the sickest. And so sick as to be genius. Check out the soundtrack.

Still in a sick vein, Japanese scat dolls: they shit for you. Oh God! Would the last one out please turn off the Internet?

I’m going to the toilet. Goodnight.

 

This just arrived

My niece.

Aaww, bless!

 

The man’s an U.N.C.L.E

Monday 28 April, 2003. Current mood:

(C) Cozza

“Unexpected Niece Came Last Evening” is the best I can come up with for “U.N.C.L.E,” given that she was a couple of days premature but her arrival deems me an uncle.

Celebrations today then, for two reasons: Firstly, at 1.10 this morning my sister gave birth to the above-mentioned baby girl, by Ceasarian, so she’s in hospital for the next few days whilst she recovers. Unfortunately, this is two hours away by train from London, so I’ve been unable to visit her after work tonight before visiting hours end.

Alice Rose (after my maternal grandmother and my mother respectively) is the first of a new generation for our family, so for the first time my parents are grandparents as well. Given my track record in the love life stakes they’d have been in for a long wait if it were down to me, so well done sis.

My other reason for celebration is a phone call that I received today from my old mate Pete, who moved to Lancaster a couple of years ago. Among other things, he rang to commiserate me for the break up with Helen, having read about it here. This on top of the other two well-wishers last week proving that my readership here numbers at least three.

Sympathy and compassion are qualities that Pete does not possess. Instead, he has a killer wit so outrageous that it serves as a verbal slap round the face to anyone foolish enough to be feeling sorry for themselves in his company. Our conversation today was an example, as I told him of Helen dumping me:

He: “So, were you gutted?”

Me: “I’m okay now but to be honest, for the first few days I was inconsolable.”

He: “Did you blub?”

Me: “A few times, yes.”

He: “Fucking poof.”

Mates are great aren’t they?

Anyway, we resolved to get together in the summer when I will travel to Lancaster (“Lung cancer,” as Pete calls it) to stay for a few days. I’m very much looking forward to it, as I was to the last weekend that I stayed at his house while he still lived here in the south. Prior to that weekend, I commented to him on how much I was looking forward to it, to which his retort was: “Yeah Shame you’re gonna be there though.”

It was on the recommendation of another mate, Mark, whom I work with, that I purchased a copy each of today’s newspapers. These I shall package appropriately and give to my sister as a kind of time capsule to be given to her daughter at a future date. Okay, so birth date editions of newspapers are available by mail order and on the Internet but they’re invariably facsimiles. The ones I have are the originals. And as Pete pointed out on the phone, “rather than cost you forty nicker mate, you got ‘em for four quid, you tight cunt.”

Anyway, I just wanted to share my good news. If only I had more than you three readers, by now the world would know that it has another child.

On Wednesday, I’ve booked the day off of work to visit my sister and my new niece, as travelling from home as opposed to London means that I will get there quicker and be able to spend more time with them.

One geeky thing discovered today on the net is this compare-spaceships-with-real-buildings-and-animals thing. You can even move them around for comparative purposes. Wicked!

Goodnight.

 

Damaged goods

Saturday 26 April, 2003. Current mood:

(C) Tedmus

I’m in a reflective mood at the moment, taking a look at myself, away from the madding crowd and deciding if a bridge needs to be built and crossed. That’s the poetic way of putting it. In reality I feel like an unwanted pet, whose owner has grown bored of it and replaced it, as one would a broken kitchen appliance. More on that in a moment.

CDs procured this week: “BeautifulGarbage” by Garbage and “A Rush of Blood to the Head” by Coldplay; both very agreeable. No music this week as I’ve got the Snooker on the telly, an activity that I wouldn’t have been allowed to indulge myself in whilst with Helen but now that’s she’s no longer with me I can do whatever I want, like going out in London and getting totally wasted with mates.

To be fair, Helen was never worried about what I got up to. Rather it was I that was so besotted by her that I’d make sure I was home in time to phone her before bed. Sad, perhaps, but no more.

So, today I’m nursing a bad head due to last night’s copious intake of alcohol. The evening was spent with a group of friends whom I’d not seen for a couple of years and it was very nice to meet them again. The first thing that one of them said to me upon arrival was “I don’t want to hear that girl’s name from you tonight, alright?” And so it was that I enjoyed the night without a thought for Helen. But how did he know that Helen and I had split? Well, he reads up on me here, which is one of the many purposes of this site, to keep distant and parted friends up to date on me. It saves phone calls and it saves me constantly repeating myself. He was the second person in as many weeks to comment on things he’d read here. Proof of what I’ve always suspected: that I have two readers.

Anyway, I got a bit carried away last night and at 10 O’clock had to excuse myself on account of feeling more than a little nauseous. I didn’t excuse myself verbally as I feared that to open my mouth would bring forth speech of the technicolour liquid variety. I apologise therefore to those that I left and hope I can stay for the next one.

This will be a short entry as I’m expecting company tonight. The reason for the kitchen appliance analogy at the top is that Helen has informed me that she’s with someone else. I knew that she had a “friend” but also that she didn’t want a relationship, with anyone, not just me. She tells me today that her “friend” is now her boyfriend. Given that it’s only been three weeks since we split, I guess I’m not that hard to get over. Well, I wish them all the best and only hope that he looks after her better than it would seem that I did.

For my own part, I’ve realised that there is no bridge to be built, as the water to be crossed is actually quite shallow. Instead I shall walk upon it, happy at least that Helen remains just a friend; something that she’s helped me realise this past week.

My other “friend” is now due, so I shall bid you farewell dear readers and leave you to play with a couple of things I’ve found this week on the net, whilst I limber up for some twanging of knicker elastic:

Remember “Pigeon Street,” the kids’ programme from the early ’80s? It annoyed the hell out of me, which is why I like this Pigeon Street Massacre game as it allows one to shoot the rats-with-wings motherfuckers.

Not quite as satisfying but nonetheless good for wasting a few seconds is WebWar. It’s kind of based on Tempest, the 3D vector graphics shooty game from the ’80s.

 

Retrobate

Sunday 20th April 2003. Current mood:

(C) Reverend Dan

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends this weekend and retro gaming. More on that in a moment.

In the carton to my left: multi-vitamin fruit stuff, for vitamin and nutrient replacement purposes. Musical entertainment is this week provided by “The Amp,” one of three new music TV channels on digital satellite, because we need them.

This weekend started pretty much as it was intended to go on: drunk. Lately in my ex-Helenness I’ve been in danger of becoming a bit of a hermit, so decided on Thursday night to meet up with some old friends in town. I needed to get out and enjoy myself in surroundings other than my house and where there would be fewer reminders of my lost love.

The evening started fairly quietly with a friend and I having some catching-up banter over a pint or five, in one of the quieter pubs in town. Once the formalities were out of the way, and we were sufficiently lubricated to be talking shit and therefore with no need to be able to hear each other any longer, we moved on to a more lively venue: The Hog’s Head, which overlooks the river and where Helen and I spent a few romantic evenings last summer (“stop it Steve!” Sorry.)

On this particular night, the Hog’s Head seemed to exist in a parallel universe as my friend (who’s twenty five years old and also single) and I (thirty-ish) didn’t get served and yet all the school kids in the pub did. As it turned out there was a school disco thing going on at the local nightclub and the “school kids” were actually teens and twenties dressed up as such. The place was so full of them that my friend and I couldn’t physically get to the bar. Pleasant though the scenery was (the girls), it didn’t warrant not having a drink to dribble into.

We moved on to the local Weatherspoons, a cavernous place, and it too was packed to the gills with girls in school uniforms. The crowd waiting to be served at the bar was six deep but with patience and sharp elbows we made it to the front and got drinks. Forward thinking souls that we are, we eschewed pints of lager / cider and figuring that we’d have to wait a similar age on our next visit to the bar, we procured four pints. Of vodka Redbull. Each.

Milling around the pub, we met up with a few others, somehow managed to blag a table, where Helen and I once sat (“oh do shut up!” Sorry), and proceeded to get even more drunk than we already were. From there the memory of the evening blurs. I do remember that one of our group, whom I’d not met before, was in a wheelchair and that my friend decided to have a go in it, whilst its usual occupant wasn’t, as it were. In particular I recall the thud as he fell backwards on attempting a wheelie and the drunken guffawing that ensued as a result.

Come closing time, I decided to walk home and grab some food for company on the walk; the walk that Helen and I had traversed, hand in hand, so many times (“oh for fuck’s sake!”) All food establishments were closed and I somehow managed to get lost, arriving home a full 90 minutes after setting out on a walk that ought to take 40 minutes at the most, even when very drunk.

Hungry as I was, a chip butty seemed appealing so I proceeded to clatter about in the kitchen, cooking and assembling said culinary delight. I managed to hit the bed on my third jump and fell asleep with my chip butty at my side. In the morning I was wearing it.

Waking up to a cold chip butty and not Helen (“oh God”. No, hang on) was a pivotal moment, for although I had desired it the night before I had got through the night without it. A piss-poor analogy, I know but what I’m trying to say is that as each day passes I’m getting more used to the idea that I am single again. It’s tough at times but there are more good days than bad now, whereas a couple of weeks ago the days were all bad.

Friday, yesterday and today have been spent in the company of myself. I’ve always valued personal time and now I have it in abundance I’m making best use of it.

One of the topics of conversation between my friend and I on Thursday, whilst we were still capable of speech, was computer and video games: in particular how we’ve both grown tired of trying to keep up with the latest hardware and software, and in any case games nowadays are all about looks and quite frankly too complex. We both agreed that today’s games lack gameplay and reminisced about the classic old games where the object was simply to get a better high score than your mates. He showed me his mobile phone, onto which he’d downloaded some classic Atari games: Space Invaders and the like.

Phones are another area where I’ve grown tired of trying to keep up with trends: I have a decent enough mobile but this is why I have a 1970s Bakelite phone at home: so retro-chic. So for the last three days I’ve been retro gaming and in the evenings I’ve been getting drunk.

I have MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) on my PC and have been playing “Bomb Jack” till the early hours. “Bomb Jack” is one of those games that anyone can play, as it’s ostensibly simple. Only when you get to know its inner workings though can you truly excel. I used to be able to score just short of a million points on the arcade machine in one of the pubs in town. So far I’m up to 640’000 with my late night gaming sessions. If I were sober I might achieve my pinnacle again. Some may think this sad but I’m having fun and justify my current nerdiness by pointing out to myself that I went out on Thursday.

There’ll be plenty more nights like Thursday spent with my fellow single friends and no doubt more mornings like Friday when my main preoccupation on the toilet was with one thought: ‘it smells of Redbull in here.’

Helen will always be in my thoughts but I’ve realised that I must move on and that I can enjoy doing so. The two of us still speak: she tells me that she’s happy, and her happiness is of paramount importance to me. I care about her enough to wish her happiness, even if for her that means being without me.

One day I’ll be truly happy too and until then I’m having a good time getting there, doing the things that blokes with no girlfriends do.

Including trawling the Internet for fun things and this week I have found the following:

A great running down pedestrains game Control the car with your mouse and squish the pedestrians. Yeeha!

Since the departure of Helen I’m smoking quite a bit more. The new government health warnings on packets of tabs are a little depressing, I feel, so I found http://www.smokingcures.com to cheer up my fag packets. Print out the labels, stick ’em on your smokes and feel better.

 

Get along

Sunday 13 April, 2003. Current mood: ish. In the cafetiere to my left: Tea. “Tea!? In a cafetiere!?” I hear you cry. But teapots are so last century, darling. Haven’t you heard? The cafetiere is the new teapot. “Oh shut up Steve.” Okay. But it’s great stuff: longer leaf tea from PG Tips, designed for the cafetiere. It’s very nice. And I don’t have a teapot.

Film watched this week: The Player. A Hollywood satire, part of the fun of which is spotting the cameos. There are more than 60 Hollywood names (okay, some minor) playing themselves. 4/5.

Currently in the CD player: “Electric Dreams,” a compilation of music from the 1980s. I’m having a nostalgic afternoon and proving that, tea-drinking aside, I’m still back in the last century. Oh well, happy memories…

Which brings me to the subject that has traditionally dominated these pages and who, as in my life generally, will now play a lesser role here. Helen and I are but a memory, albeit a recent and fond one.

After seeing her on Monday I was quite upset by the finality of it all, as I was when we met again on Tuesday to return mutually accumulated artefacts of one another’s. On Wednesday I returned to work, tired and deflated but all credit to my management, colleagues and friends who got me through the day. Come Wednesday evening, an understanding of the situation had taken up residence in my head, evicting the confusion and some of the grief that had been squatting there. Wednesday was the turning point and far from being over my emotional loss, I was nonetheless resigned to what must be.

Helen and I remain friends and we are continuing to speak regularly on the phone and will continue to see one another, albeit with less regularity and minus some of the things that were part of our nights out. To whomever was at the other end of the CCTV camera in the tunnel under Reigate station, I would say: I hope you recorded it all as there’ll be no more live performances.

And so, rather than reminisce, I shall do as Helen is doing herself and as she and I are doing together: get along, but rather than with head bowed, dragging my feet, with head high and a spring in my step.

And that will be my lasting memory of Helen, as that is how she made me feel: proud and confident. She still makes me feel like that, you see because I figure it this way: if I can pull someone as stunning and brilliant as her, it stands to reason I can pull anyone I like.

No-one will ever be able to replace you babe but you’ll always be the one that “done it” for me, in many ways.

Ooh, almost forgot the fun things I found this week:

Death Star Pong: A sort of cross between Arkanoid, ten-pin bowling and well, Pong. Good fun.

Pigs fly: whilst wearing helicopter hats, in order to feed and breathe fire. Yay!

Make your own dancing freak: Hmm. Defies explanation. And physics.

 

Farewell my sweet

Monday 07 April, 2003. Current mood: (There’s no icon for inconsolable). In the mug to my left: Tea. In the CD player: Nothing. I think that music of any kind will set me off at the moment.

I am currently nursing a broken heart as Helen and I have just split up. It’s not fully sunken in yet but as I type this, it is beginning to.

I shan’t wash our dirty laundry in public but suffice it to say that Helen and I had grown apart. I’m so thick-skinned that I didn’t realise until it was too late. It truly is too late as despite my protestations, Helen’s mind is firmly made up and she no longer feels for me as she once did. I respect her decision and wish only that she be happy, whether with or without me. I care about her enough to hold her happiness paramount.

She had the decency to come down here today and tell me of her feelings face-to-face, when perhaps a lesser person would have chosen an easier method. Cliched though it may sound, we have agreed to remain friends and I know that we will get on as such, with all pressures of our relationship thence gone. The alternative was to cease all contact but we care about one another on many levels and would always wonder what happened to the one that got away if we’d chosen that route. The route that we have taken may be a more difficult one but I’d rather have Helen as just a friend than not at all. My lover alas though, has gone.

The times that we spent together were the best of my life and I thank Helen for what are now fond memories. I will never forget the girl who was the love of my life and for whom I will carry a candle for the rest of my days. Deep inside I hope that she can rediscover her love for me but I fear that will not be the case.

Ahead is a period of grieving and if you’ll excuse me I will commence that now as I’m welling up. I must cry alone.

Farewell my sweet. I will never forget you and will always love you.

 

Never gonna give you up

Sunday 06 April, 2003. Current mood, beamed directly from the satellite above my house:

(C) Artamnesia

(be patient while it finds me and zooms in).

In the mug to my left: Tea. My fifth in as many hours, randomly. In the CD player: Nothing. Music today is courtesy of the digital radio station “SBN”. Not sure what that stands for but they play some good vibes.

Recently found on the Internet:

Barbed wire skipping: Press the space bar to make your character jump, thereby preserving his legs. So much more fun than a standard skipping rope.

Cheap shopping: Use this site to produce alternative barcodes that you then stick over the real ones, so they’re cheaper when scanned at the till. Totally illegal, as it’s theft.

Films watched this week: Happiness. Disturbing yet poignant. The intertwined lives of various dysfunctional characters, all connected by three sisters. 4/5.

A friend and I were recently discussing the respective merits of literature and film, as well as examples of adaptations of the latter from the former. Among other things, we decided that film is a more powerful medium for invoking one’s emotions as it engages more than the one sense. Literature engages just the sight but can be more powerful, we opined, through its ability to paint mental images, the product of the “sixth sense” arguably being more personal and therefore emotive than any celluloid image. We could both cite many examples of films that had moved us emotionally but were at a loss to name a single book which had had the same effect. Proof perhaps that literature is a far more difficult medium to produce than film.

After much memory-searching, I did remember an example of a book that had moved me, almost to tears, and which continues to do so every time I read it: “The House on Pooh Corner.” Some may say that the writing of A.A.Milne cannot be classed as great literature, to which I would argue that this is subjective. What may move one person may not similarly affect another.

Reading the stories and poems of Milne affords me an escape, back to a time of innocence when I could empathise with Christopher Robin: to a time pre-school when one made up one’s own rules and lived in one’s own world, oblivious to the greater scheme of things. The particular passage in “The House on Pooh Corner” that moves me to tears is when Christopher Robin effectively has to say farewell to Pooh. Pooh, Rabbit, Tigger et al, are all aware that Christopher Robin is going away but none of them know where or why. Christopher Robin of course is about to start school and realises that this is the end of his carefree adventures with Pooh, day in, day out. His days of innocence are coming to an end and the time has come for Christopher Robin to grow up and enter a world where Pooh will not always be at his side.

A great literary artist is something I shall never be, which is why I don’t aspire to such great heights and remain content to write as I do for a hobby. Although I make time for my writing, my life schedule is too busy to allow the far greater investment in time required of the submission process.

I was heartened recently to read of the chap who, at twenty-one, has just been given a six-figure advance for his first children’s novel, set in his own fantasy world. This he wrote in lessons while he was disillusioned with school. On completion of the book he was convinced that it would appeal to no-one besides himself and consigned it to the bin. Unbeknown to him, his mother fished it out, read it and liked it. Six years later, she gave it to the widow of the late, great Douglas Adams, who was a personal friend. She liked it too and showed it to Adams’ agent, who liked it so much that he took the author on and secured the advance. A story with a happy ending if ever there were one.

Helen and I have been distanced by circumstance this weekend and today on the phone she dropped a bombshell when she told me that she needs a little more space and time to herself, which I respect. I shall not now assume a reclined position on a proverbial psychiatrist’s couch but merely accept that I have to not love the object of my affection to the extent that I suffocate her. I love Helen dearly and am determined to maintain reciprocation in that respect. My fairytale just took on a feature more commonly found in mainstream literature: an obstacle to be overcome by the protagonist. As the protagonist in this plot twist, I am determined to work personally to overcome and I will, as I’m not one to give up easily on something that I feel so passionately about.

I don’t feel that speaking of my relationship with Helen in terms of literature is an inaccurate comparison as my feelings for her are best explained by way of a reference to the piece of literature that moves me the most, emotionally: if ever she and I were to separate, I would feel as Winnie the Pooh without Christopher Robin.

Right now, I’m going to deposit all of my writing in a bin and mention that I’ve done so in passing the next time I speak to my Mum.

 

Guilty

Sunday 23 March, 2003. Current mood:

(C) Mystery Bob

In the glass to my left: Cider. In the CD player: Nothing. Music is currently being piped into the room courtesy of Classic FM TV via satellite. I’m feeling a little stressed and it’s having an agreeable relaxing effect.

 

Found on the Internet and responsible for a few wasted minutes:

Scary Danish game: A rather gruesome first-person shoot-em-up, complete with moustachioed psycho shouting encouragement.

Economists: Trace a line on their graph and watch their reaction. Simple, cute and worth wasting a couple of seconds on.

 

Films watched this week: Signs, with Helen last night. A very poignant tale of faith lost and re-found when confronted by a common nemesis, I think. 4/5.

 

Thought for the week: when love and friendship are parted by distance, there’s always the phone. The phone is the means of the verbal hug, even if the physical one is denied by geography, and soon you’ll see one another again. Let not distance be a barrier to love and friendship.

 

Having said last week that things were quiet in the corporate finance markets, as they are in the print industry generally, my firm this week was forced to make redundancies. Business is likely to pick up now that the uncertainty of war is over, being as we are, a country at war. The long-term forecast though is still uncertain and Friday’s inevitable cuts are my first reason for feeling a little guilty.

More on that in a moment but firstly, I would just like to go on record as saying publicly that I support the current war, led by this country and the US. There are many valid reasons against war and I dare say that there is much that we, the general public do not know and which our leaders do. That aside, I feel that the removal of a dictator and the liberation of a country for its people is justification enough for the war in which we as a country are now involved. I sincerely hope that the allies’ aims are achieved quickly and with the minimum of Human casualties.

Having berated Tony Blair here before, my views of him as a man, and the party which he leads, remain the same. What has changed though is my view of him as a leader. That after all is what he is supposed to be and in the House of Commons this week he made a speech which I felt was inspiring and heartfelt. I actually admired him, as a leader, not only for that speech but for his conviction in laying his leadership on the line if Parliament didn’t back him. I felt that he was genuine in his intention to step down as Prime Minister, should he not have the backing of the house.

Parliament backed him, thank goodness and now we are fighting what I believe to be a just war. Had they not backed him, I dread to think where we might be now, given that the majority of the rebels against war were within Tony Blair’s own party. I still hold the Government in contempt but wholly support our Prime Minister for doing his job as a leader. To the rebels and those that still choose to protest against this war, I say that to do so is their democratic right, living as they do in a democratic state. I hope though that they realise that they are a minority and that the vast majority of the public in this country are behind the fine men and women who make up our armed forces, fighting for the very right that the anti-war brigade are able to exercise. I would ask any anti-war faction to consider for a moment how they might feel if they were on the front line, knowing that the people back home weren’t supportive of them. They’ll never know because they’re a lesser breed who would never be capable of the conviction and bravery of those that are out there in the Gulf.

To return to the point, certain parallels are apparent, to me at least, concerning the wearing of blinkers: the “management” of my old company, faced with the need to cut costs, would have looked at those that were not contributing to the business most immediately: the sales people. A less shallow-thinking management would realise that they needed to have sales people in place for when markets improved. Furthermore, the former would operate a by-the-book first-in-last-out policy, without any deeper thought or analysis.

But I digress. Returning to work, as I will tomorrow, Friday was a sad day for me as the redundancies included a very dear friend of mine. I’ve only been with the company for six months but my friend was one of those people with whom one “clicks”, which he and I did from the start. Six months later, he’d become a very good friend indeed, both professionally and personally. I will return to work tomorrow as I have been reassured that my job is safe, for now at least. I will return to a slightly emptier workplace though, both literally and emotionally.

When notice of impending cost-cutting was given on Thursday, everyone naturally feared that it could be they that were about to be rendered jobless. Close colleagues confided their fears to one another and provided mutual reassurance in turn. Given that I am the last Sales person to be taken on by the company, I confided to my now-late-of-the-company friend that perhaps one of the redundancy notices could have my name on it. As I’ve said before, I’m working hard in what I see as a great opportunity of a career but market conditions have dictated that my success has been limited. My friend reassured me that although my sales were less than might have been hoped, this was through no fault of my own but rather due to prevailing market conditions. My activity levels are such that I have a prospect list that is bigger than many sales people, although others have less need of opportunities as they have greater actual sales. He in turn confided that it might be he who was made redundant, to which I assured him that with a turnover greater than my own, I felt that I would likely go before him. In fact, I offered to put myself up before him. He has three young children; I do not. Were he anyone else, I might not have made such a gesture but as a true and respected friend, I felt it right. He thought this a very gallant gesture on my part but insisted that there were no need: the two of us sell different products so it was simply not a practical proposition for the company.

As it turned out, it is I who am returning to work tomorrow, still with a job and an opportunity. In the aftermath of Friday’s events, I registered my disappointment with my boss that it was my friend and not me that has been made redundant. Having been in the job for far less time than my friend and still having that job after Friday’s events made me feel guilty. It is my opportunities and not my time that have saved me and I intend to make the most of those opportunities to prove that the wider view decision on the part of the management was right, as far as not making me redundant is concerned. My friend and I have swapped home phone numbers and vowed to stay in touch.

And my previous “management”, to whom I made comparisons above? Well, I heard a rumour this week that certain parties are seeking to have him made personally bankrupt. This was relayed to me via a reliable source as having come from the man’s very own mouth: the husband of the horse’s mouth, as it were. I stress that it remains a rumour but as my ex-boss himself would advocate, rumours are there to be spread. So now you know.

There’s a second reason for my guilt and that concerns my beloved Helen: thanks to me, she’s probably had one of the worst and unrewarding weekends ever. My general unease and insecurity concerning work at the moment has meant that I’ve been in a far from good mood this weekend and I’ve taken it out on her.

She had yesterday off of work and so came down here to stay with me on Friday night, looking forward to a whole weekend of she and I being together. This is a chance that we rarely have as she only has four Saturdays off in a year.

On Friday night, I was understandably upset about the events in the office and Helen, being the understanding girl that she is, well, was understanding. Yesterday, I should have been appreciative of the fact that she was here and made the most of the weekend. Instead, I let the work situation rule my mind and effectively disregarded her. We met with friends yesterday afternoon and I just talked “shop” all the time, making her feel left out. Last night I was still so wrapped up in myself and unable to relax that the poor girl couldn’t get my attention except when she dropped some food on the carpet and I got all anal, tidying up behind her. Sweetheart that she is, she later religiously picked all her dropped remnants off of the dining table and carpet. She shouldn’t have had to because I should have let myself be relaxed in her presence and it shouldn’t have mattered. Last night, like the night before, we went to bed and straight to sleep. By my own admission, I’ve wasted what should have been a very special weekend.

Thankfully, Helen and I made up before she returned home today. Perhaps she would have been better off going out with her friends than being with me this weekend. Perhaps I’d have done better to think of her rather than my work mates. In much the same way that my friend at work declined my offer to put myself up ahead of him for redundancy, I hope that Helen feels that the weekend with me was worthwhile as without her at my side, I’d have been far more worried about my future than I was. A job isn’t everything; a partner like her is though.

One thing that I’m sure about of the future is that I’ll always have Helen. Deeper down than all the day-to-day events in life, she is my whole life and always will be. I just wish she wasn’t so far away so I could tell her.

I shall phone her now.

 

Having a ball

Sunday 16 March, 2003. Current mood: In the mug to my left: Coffee. In the CD player: The Greatest hits of The Electric Light Orchestra: a recent bargain acquisition at £15.00 for a double CD set.

 

Recently found on the Internet and responsible for many wasted minutes:

Simon Swears: an expletive-laden version of the classic 80s game of memory.

Spacerunner: Deceptively simple game of hop, roll and dive. Cute, and quite addictive.

Gridlock: A block-sliding game. Addictive and increasingly difficult as you progress through the levels. I’m on level 27.

 

In the couple of weeks since I last wrote here, not a lot has happened. It’s been mainly work and Helen, both of which remain agreeable.

In the case of the former, the Corporate Finance markets, in which my company is involved, are very quiet so business is slow as a result. I am fortunate that I work on the Report and Accounts desk and that the product which we sell is a legal requisite and therefore business is being done, albeit slowly. I am also fortunate to work for a company of sufficient size and financial standing to be able to weather the storm while the markets are quiet. I am relatively secure in the knowledge that although business is slow, my efforts are appreciated and will pay dividends in due course. This is partly due to the intuition, amenability, trust and understanding of my boss, one of the Sales Directors.

I wish the same compliments could be heaped upon Helen’s boss but unfortunately hers is the opposite of mine in all respects and that was no more true than this weekend, which Helen’s boss effectively fucked up for us. I’m not an unreasonable person, which is perhaps why unreasonable people annoy me so much. What goes around comes around though, as proved by my last boss, who had not the first inkling of man-management skills and subsequently got what he deserved: his staff deserting him en-masse and his company going tits up. A very satisfying and reasonable denouement to that period of my life.

The Friday just gone was the evening that Helen and I attended the black tie ball that I mentioned here in my last entry. It was a charitable event to raise funds for her college and we had been planning for it for weeks. Helen had requested the Saturday off of work so that she and I could spend the whole weekend together, not having to get up early on Saturday (yesterday) morning. Her request was granted when she made it about four weeks ago. Helen and I were therefore looking forward to staying for the duration of the ball, which finished at midnight, secure in the knowledge that we could enjoy ourselves and not have to worry about an early rise the following day. I had booked a cab to take us from the venue in Reigate back here, where we would enjoy the remainder of the weekend relaxed together. Then it all went the way of my previous employer.

On Thursday, Helen’s boss told her that they were short-staffed and that she would have to work on Saturday. Helen protested that she’d booked the day off well in advance and for the reason that she wouldn’t really be up to working on the Saturday, following the late night on Friday. She further pointed out that both she and I had spent a not inconsiderable sum of money, dressing and preparing ourselves for what was a very special evening for us. Her boss’s reply was that we shouldn’t make plans for the weekend without consulting her.

When Helen told me all of this I was livid, to say the least. How dare her boss be so pretentious? Helen had booked the weekend off of work and so therefore our plans were ours to make. I asked Helen if I might phone her boss to protest: to say that unbeknown to Helen I had booked us a weekend away and that her boss’s reneging meant that I would have to cancel all of our plans. Helen said that I’d only be told, as she was, that we shouldn’t plan our weekends without consulting her boss to which I would be at a loss to reason and so rather than me losing it with Helen’s boss, and Helen perhaps losing her job, I should leave it. Out of respect for Helen, I duly dropped it, wishing her boss plague and pestilence for the rest of her days, followed by damnation in Hell after her death. I don’t think that unreasonable.

In true fairytale style, we did go to the ball. And we looked very fine indeed, even if I do say so myself: I in DJ and all the trimmings; Helen in a beautiful, flowing ball gown. And here (for the first time I believe), is a photo of my beloved, looking lovely as ever, along with me, being un-photogenic as ever:

(That’s me on the right).

 

After Helen’s boss dropped her bombshell, we were thinking that maybe we should ease off of the alcohol a little and perhaps leave the ball early, so that we got a good night’s sleep. In defiance to her boss though, we decided fuck that, we were going to have a good time and fuck the consequences. And we did.

When we arrived at the venue, Reigate Manor Hotel, Helen took great pride in introducing me to her various friends and tutors. Without exception, they were very nice people. After a couple of introductions, I spotted the bar and made a beeline for it. This being a posh hotel, they didn’t have my favoured tipple of cider on tap but in half-pint bottles. I requested that two of these be decanted into a pint glass and was duly charged £6.00. This pretentiousness of making cider a premium drink would render the evening quite expensive, I surmised. I hadn’t reckoned on the reasoning of the barman who served me on my second visit to the bar though: “How much did they stripe you for that last time?” he enquired. When I told him, he replied: “I think that’s fucking outrageous mate. It’s only a pint so I’ll charge you for a pint. Three quid okay?” An expensive pint but half the price of the last one, so I agreed. “You see me next time mate,” said my new friend, obviously a fellow cider-drinker. He winked and I winked back and that was to be our little sign of defiance on my subsequent seven or so visits to the bar. I lost count.

I proceeded to get extremely drunk and Helen got a little tipsy thanks to my forethought of putting a hip flask in my DJ. It was an over 21s bar and Helen is not, so she was on Cokes, which I duly topped up with Bacardi.

Helen danced rather a lot, and I did too once sufficiently lubricated, which embarrassed Helen considerably. The pride with which she’d introduced me earlier turned to disassociation.

We stayed at Helen’s rather than mine and rolled in just after midnight. Well, Helen glided; I staggered. We undressed and crashed out, both thinking we were too tired to be capable of any post-ball activity but I surprised myself (and Helen more so) by putting on a very good performance under the duvet. At 2am we drifted off, her to sleep and I into a coma.

At 7.30am we were rudely awoken by the alarm clock and Helen had to get up for work. My head was pounding with a classic hangover but I got up too, to escort her to work, gentleman that I am. On arriving at Helen’s place of work, her boss was unfortunately nowhere to be seen, so I couldn’t give her a piece of my mind. And boy did I want to give my mind out because it hurt like fuck. Had we been able to enjoy our weekend as originally planned, we would not have been there, then.

Helen came down after work yesterday and we continued our fragmented weekend. Last night we had a fish and chip supper and an early night to put on a repeat performance of the night before under the duvet. Alas Helen returned home earlier than is usual on a Sunday today, so there was no time for a matinee performance. However I’m warm in the knowledge that I spent a lovely weekend with my Cinderella, my fairytale girlfriend.

With hindsight, I’ve not actually asked Helen if her boss turned up for work yesterday, so as far as I’m aware she could have been involved in an horrific accident the night before. Even now she could be lying in a gutter somewhere, being pissed and shat on by dogs and tramps even as I write this.

What goes around comes around, not unreasonably.

 

I’m back

Sunday, 01 March 2003: The more observant among you may have noticed that I’ve not been around here for a while, or rather that this web site has been unavailable.

As I’ve said before, I’m not particularly good at writing in my own mind, which is why it remains a hobby as opposed to a career. I enjoy it though and I’m still learning the craft while enjoying occasional plaudits from friends and online publishers. While professional publication continues to elude me, I’m glad to have this place back where I can write about nothing in particular.

I will attempt to explain briefly why this site has been unavailable of late: Yahoo (!?) are cunts. They will henceforth be known as “Boohoo”.

To elaborate, Boohoo were the registrars of this domain and they failed to tell me that I needed to pay a renewal fee, so the hosting lapsed. I tried to renew said hosting but found the Boohoo web site incomprehensible. I shall not go into boring detail but the simple inclusion of an email address to write to within the site was lacking.

I then transferred the domain to totalregistrations.com, who in turn could not get a response from Boohoo by way of permission to transfer the domain. Two weeks of emails from them and me to Boohoo finally resulted in the latter relenting to the transfer of the domain. And so, dear reader, here I am. Yahoo! And no thanks to Boohoo.

A lot has gone on since I was last here, including Helen and I celebrating our second Valentine’s day on Sunday 16th February, this year at a Gurka restaurant in Reigate. During our meal, I presented Helen with a song I’d written, or rather ripped off, which goes thus:

Surrey Girl

(With apologies to David Bowie and Iggy Pop)

 

I could escape this feeling, with my Surrey girl

I feel a wreck without my, little Surrey Girl

I hear her heart beating, loud as thunder

Snuggled with her, smashing

 

I’m a mess without my, little Surrey girl

Wake up mornings where’s my, little Surrey girl

I hear her heart’s beating, loud as thunder

Watch her go (smashing!) down

 

I feel a-tragic like the littlest hobo

When I look at my Surrey girl

I can pretend that problems really don’t mean much

When I look at my Surrey girl

 

And when I get excited

My little Surrey girl says

Oh baby you stupid fucking dog

 

I stumble out the pub, just like a drunken sod

Visions of tunnels in my head

Plans for both of us

It’s in the front of my pants

 

And when I get excited

My little Surrey girl says

Oh baby you stupid fucking dog

 

My little Surrey girl

I love it when you play with me

You make me everything I am

I’ll give you television

And the remote control

Whenever you are round my house

And you rule my world

 

And when I get excited

My little Surrey girl says

Oh baby you stupid fucking dog

She says… stupid dog

 

Not terribly good, I realise, but it’s a sentiment based on the words of a hero and intended for the one that I love.

The referrals to me as a Canine are on account of Helen’s perception of me as an occasional idiot. For the most recent example of this, see my previous entry and my encounter with the food steamer.

On the night that Helen and I were out, she contributed to my accident proneness by poking me in the eye. Being slightly superstitious and aware that mishaps are alleged to occur in threes, on my return to work on the Monday, I requested of a colleague that he trip me up randomly, in order to get the third mishap out of the way. He didn’t oblige and I still await my third mishap.

I am currently listening to “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish,” a tribute to my late, great hero, Douglas Adams (Author of “Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) on BBC7. I was just on the complimentary web site, which invited one to partake in the composing of some Vogon poetry.

To the uninitiated, Vogon poetry (according to the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is the third worst in the Universe. An example:

Oh freddled gruntbuggly thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee
Groop I implore them my foonting turlingdromes.
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurgle cruncheon,
See if I don’t.

And so on.

At the BBC7 site, one is invited to enter key words which are placed into a Vogon poem. I decided to compose a verse myself, effectively a reworking of another hero of mine, for Helen and entered key words required by the site thus:

 

A word to describe your mother: Cuddly

An unsuitable colour for a T-shirt: Brown

Something that smells: My bum

A friend’s name: Helen (who else? It’s whom the poem’s for)

A word that describes how you feel when you wake in the morning: Horny

Something small and green: Pea

A completely made up word: Anyuh

A word that sounds rude but isn’t: Masticate

Something you’d find in your fridge: Courgette

An ugly animal: Cockroach

 

And the Vogon poem that was generated:

See, see the Cuddly sky
Marvel at its big Brown depths.
Tell me, Helen do you
Wonder why the cockroach ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel Horny.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your anyuh facial growth
That looks like
A Courgette.
What’s more, it knows
Your masticate potting shed
Smells of pea.
Everything under the big Cuddly sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm My bums.

I said I wasn’t too good at this.

Helen and I are due to attend a ball in a couple of weeks, the dinner jacket and trimmings for which I was measured up for yesterday at Moss Bros. While there, I spotted a particularly attractive bargain in the form of a Cashmere overcoat, reduced from £200 to £65. I will be wearing it for the first time tomorrow, into the office. I have no doubt that I will either stub a cigarette out on it, close it in the train door or trip over it.

 

Letting off steam

Monday 10 February, 2003. Current mood: In the mug to my left: tea. in the CD player: “Uncut Starman” a compilation of David Bowie covers that Helen found for me.

I’m writing this diary entry from home as I’ve taken the day off of work on account of the fact that I’m a complete imbecile. On Saturday evening I was cooking dinner for Helen and I. Our meal comprised minted lamb steaks, roast potatoes and vegetables. The latter I was steaming in my new food steamer. I’m never one to read instruction books but I should really have taken note of the safety precautions for my new appliance. Cutting a long story short, when the time came to dish up, I removed the lid of said steamer and promptly steamed my right hand, to the extent that my index and middle fingers are now covered in blisters and are very sore.

Helen was so sweet on Saturday night, nursing me and constantly enquiring of my wellbeing. My injury affected her too, as the two fingers in question are the ones I, well, you know. The sympathy was short-lived though as, when we were washing up yesterday morning, Helen noticed the label on the lid of the steamer, which read: “Caution! Hot steam. Always use oven gloves when removing lid.” In an instant I was transformed from poor, injured baby to “you fucking tosser”. Anyway, my fingers bloody hurt, I didn’t get a very good night’s sleep last night and so decided to lie in this morning and take the day off.

My boss was very understanding when I phoned him to ask if I could take today off when I explained the circumstances. My boss is never one to ask questions and will grant any reasonable request. With hindsight though, I wonder if I should have waited till I was feeling more awake before I phoned him this morning. My explanation of Helen staying over for the weekend, me cooking us dinner and the resultant accident was condensed into one sentence along the lines of “I had an accident on Saturday night with Helen and the food steamer.” Perhaps that’s why he didn’t enquire further.

On the subject of work, my job continues to go well. If I’m honest, towards the end of last year I might not have made that statement. The main part of my job involves making phone calls, usually to Finance Directors of Stock Exchange listed companies, with a view to producing their Annual Reports. As with any sales job, this is a numbers game: the more calls you make, the more business you’ll eventually end up with. When calling these people, the ultimate goal is to secure an appointment. Short of that, the aim is to be given the opportunity to quote on the project and at the very least to gain a request for further information on my company.

This is what I’d been doing for the first three months and by my own admission, with limited success. The run up to Christmas was a bad time, as most companies weren’t going to be doing any business until the New Year and therefore, sales wise, this was a quiet period. It was during this time that I analysed my call records and realised that I simply wasn’t getting as many appointments or requests for quotes as I needed. In my previous sales posts, gaining appointments was comparatively easy and I realised that something must be fundamentally wrong.

Returning to work after Christmas, my boss, myself and the other two members of our team got together to review the situation. We concluded that an appointment to discuss the kind of work that our company does is far less likely an outcome than it would have been in the market sector from whence I came. In order for a company Director to wish to speak to us, we surmised, they would need more than an introductory phone call to persuade them to give up their valuable time. So, we hit upon the idea of making the gaining of an invitation to quote the prime objective. I’ll not go into the psychological reasoning behind that decision but the figures speak for themselves: In my first three months of selling Annual Reports, I made about 150 calls. From those I gained two appointments, 10 requests for quotes and ultimately, two new customers. In the last month, since adopting the new working practice, 100 or so calls have resulted in 30-odd requests for quotes. The appointments will come later. It’s still a numbers game and of the 30-odd companies whose Annual Reports we’ve quoted, maybe five will become customers (the conversion rate is better as an interest has already been stated in the request for prices), but it’s a much better numbers game now that we’re working differently.

All of which is of no consequence to the casual reader but to those who take an interest in these updates, it means I’m enjoying my job. And it’s been a long time since I was able to say that with conviction. Compared to my last job, well, there’s no comparison to be made between a dictatorship and a democracy. Nor for that matter between a company that’s well run and still doing business and one that wasn’t and therefore isn’t (meow!)

While the job itself is enjoyable, I only wish I could say the same about the journey to and from work. To be fair, the train service is good for the most part. When things go wrong though, Jesus they go fucking tits up with a vengeance. There are too many instances to describe individually here but I’ll relay the events of last Tuesday morning as the most recent example of incompetence and mismanagement. (I haven’t been told who my ex-boss’s new employers are but I have a sneaking suspicion that he may have been charged with running the railways):

I arrived at Tonbridge station last Tuesday for my usual cattle truck into London: the 0752 to Charing Cross. It was cancelled. I should just note here the prevailing weather conditions on Tuesday morning: It was a little cold, perhaps 4 or 5 degrees Celsius, and there was a light drizzle of sleet.

The next train that would have been due was the 0758 to Cannon Street. This is a viable alternative for me as I can change trains at London Bridge and continue to Waterloo east from there. It was running 25 minutes late.

The next train due was the 0802 to Charing Cross but because of a fault on the train, this was terminating at Tonbridge. So, with three train loads of “customers” (and I’ll have a bitch about that in a minute) and no trains to put them on, what’s a station manager to do? “We advise customers to seek alternative means of transport” came the announcement. There is no fucking alternative! If there were, I wouldn’t mind being called a “customer” quite so much. “Customer” implies choice and we have none.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t blame the train staff themselves. Nor the train operating companies for that matter. I blame the Government that has allowed the public transport system to descend to the level that it’s at. And this is the Government who are introducing a congestion charge on London’s roads a week from today and who expect us commuters to use the public transport “service”. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to make a political statement and I guess this is it: Tony Blair: you’re a cunt!

Back to Tuesday morning then and as my travelling companions and I are wondering what to do in order to get to our places of work so that we can do our jobs and be taxed by the Government for doing so. So that they can use the money to improve public transport, a train arrives. Well, I say a train arrived. What actually happened was that the indicator board said: “0802 Charing Cross – Arrived.” Well if it had we couldn’t bloody see it. And that’s when we realised where all the money’s going: Cloaking devices!

As it turned out, the indicator board was faulty, according to the “customer announcement” that was put out. The indicator board, the rolling stock, the management, the tracks. They’re all fucking faulty, and corrupted, like the Government that let it get that way.

I seem to recall that a few years ago there were efforts to introduce “APT rolling stock” onto Britain’s railways. “APT” stood for “Advanced Passenger Train”. The reason given for its withdrawal was that in order for the trains to run properly, the tracks that they ran on would need upgrading and that this wasn’t financially viable. I have my own theory: The “Advanced Passengers” had all fucked off and decided to drive to work.

Being a passenger of a relatively advanced nature myself, I applied a little lateral thinking on Tuesday morning: We are fortunate enough in Tonbridge to have a branch line into London, as well as the main line. The journey on the former takes three times as long as that on the latter but I figured this would be my best bet, so I boarded a train for London Bridge via Redhill. The journey went reasonably well and I eventually arrived at Waterloo east two hours after setting out. On arrival, an announcement came over the public address system: “We apologise to customers for the delay to services this morning. This is due to extreme adverse weather conditions.” Extreme, my fucking arse! And stop calling us fucking “customers”. “Passengers” if you please. Perhaps “victims” would be more appropriate though.

Well, until the next time I have nothing better to do, I shall bid you farewell. It’s great having this little corner of the Internet to vent my spleen and generally write about nothing in particular when ideas for stories elude me. I find writing here quite therapeutic sometimes when I need to get something off of my chest.

Right now I feel as my food steamer must have done on Saturday night.

 

Just a minute

Sunday 19 January, 2003: This will be a short diary entry as I’m tired and have a multitude of things to do tonight before the return to work tomorrow (notice how the return to work nowadays is no longer the dreaded return that it used to be in previous employment).

Over the Christmas period, I grew a Goatee beard and became attached to it to the extent that I bought a beard trimmer to keep it happy as an adornment to my face. The beard and I got on well and people told me that it suited me. Lately though it has started to interfere in my life to the extent that last night I subscribed to “Artsworld” on satellite TV. Realising that I had become a ponce, tonight I have shaved it off.

In much the same way that I learned to appreciate certain people while I was stranded in America post September 11, my appreciation of my Mum has been brought home this weekend as she has been in hospital since Friday. She went in for a routine operation to remove her salivary gland but developed complications post-op. She had a second operation this morning to remove a blood clot and is thankfully doing well. With a bit of luck she’ll be discharged tomorrow.

It’s humbling to have to realise that one’s parents are mere mortals like the rest of us. One day we shall all be gone but for now we’re still here and for that I’m grateful. I told my Mum at the end of visiting hours on Friday, “I love you”. It’s something that I tell her far too infrequently but I know that she knows that I mean it when I say it. My world is somehow emptier with my Mum in someone else’s care.

Parental love cannot be compared to the love felt for one’s life partner but I feel empty and somewhat cold now that Helen has gone following the first weekend that she and I have spent together for some time. I miss the two most important ladies in my life at the moment.

I’m typing this on my new cordless infrared keyboard that I bought yesterday on a whim. I needed a new keyboard and mouse anyway and thought “what the hell.”

I’ve been testing my new purchases by placing the keyboard and mouse gradually further away from the transmitter that’s plugged into the PC as I write this. Right now I’m sitting on the sofa and I can still see from the screen that my typing is being faithfully reproduced.

I’m now in the bathroom, checking the cuts to my chin, post-shave.

And having returned to the desk, keyboard under arm, I can see that my words reached the screen.

Now I’m in the kitchen. Back in a mo…

(It worked!) Hang on…

I am now in bed, typing. Can you see me?

(Hehe! This is fun!) It’s cold outside but I’m going down to the end of the garden…

Ccccaannn yu stil se m?

 

Let it snow, told you so, gotta go…

Sunday 12 January, 2003. Current mood: In the mug to my left: Filter coffee. Musical entertainment is courtesy of “Alternative Rock” on the Music Choice satellite channel.

Today is a busy one on the writing front. As well as this diary entry, I’m writing four short stories.

I keep notepads next to the bed and beside the toilet, as those are the places where ideas most frequently occur to me. Indeed, the lavatory is where I tend to think in general. Alongside the usual thoughts such as ‘get out you bastard’, ‘no wonder that hurt’ and ‘surely it shouldn’t be that colour’, the occasional story idea will spring forth.

An explanation for my proliferation of ideas could be the number of times that I’ve been in my “Thinker” position today due to the curry that I had last night. I sometimes pay for my taste for spicy foods in more than a financial sense but last night was certainly worth the slight loosening of the stool that I’m suffering today.

Helen and I went to Lal Akash in Reigate, an Indian restaurant as opposed to a “curry house”. I’m not a restaurant reviewer but to my mind an establishment can be judged on three criteria: food (obviously), price and service. The food was delicious and arrived soon after ordering. The service was efficient, friendly and attentive, the waiters even having that rare thing: a sense of humour that was appreciated and reciprocated. A two-course meal with two bottles of French table wine (of superior quality to the usual stuff made from real French tables), came in at less than fifty quid.

Something else to be said of the restaurant was its general atmosphere. It wasn’t quiet and subdued, as no restaurant should be in my opinion: people pay to enjoy themselves when they’re having a meal and I can’t stand the stuffier establishments that still insist on a jacket-and-tie dress code and expect its diners to speak in whispers. Neither was the place rowdy as so many lesser establishments tend to be. Instead there was a happy medium where the place was lively without being too noisy. It was a happy place, filled with diners who were happy to be there, as Helen and I were.

The place was full, so it was a good job we’d booked our table in advance and the fact that it was filled to capacity makes the level of service more impressive still. The food was so good that I asked for what we’d not eaten to be put into take-away cartons, a request that was duly obliged.

I am suspicious of restaurants that do not have a “doggy bag” service. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve paid for the food, so I’m entitled to any that’s left over. I often ask a restaurant when making a reservation if they offer doggy bags and don’t complete my reservation if they do not as I don’t want to eat something that perhaps a previous diner didn’t.

I spoke last time of Tony Blair (the cunt) and what a useless, toothless wanker he is as this country’s so-called leader. Leaders are supposed to lead positively, as President Bush did when he addressed the American public in his New Year’s message. Although the US is a nation poised on the brink of war, Bush told the Americans that theirs is a nation to be proud of. Thus America enters 2003 with hope. With his talk of impending doom to an already browbeaten public, thanks to his Government’s mismanagement, I wouldn’t mind betting that Blair’s New Year’s speech means the Samaritans are doing a roaring trade.

Speaking of mismanagement, the firm that I worked for before joining my present company has gone tits up. My ex-boss still tells people to this day that I spoke nothing but praise of him while at the same time holding his other employees and I responsible for putting a curse on his business. As far as he was concerned, he was perfect and it was everyone other than him that was to blame for the firm’s downfall. Assuming Tony Blair to be similarly deluded, and trusting that the same forces of black magic can work again, I’ll say just one thing: repeat after me: “come on Tony”. That should do it.

Whenever I’m feeling a little down, I often recite a couple of my favourite jokes to myself. One concerns the Irish cat who had a poo then buried himself, and my all time favourite which goes thus: What did the slug say to the snail?

“Big Issue mate?”

The weather brought cheer this week when central London was covered in a liberal layer of snow for the first time in twelve years.

Getting to work on Wednesday was an absolute arse but my fellow travelling public and I weren’t nearly as stressed by this as we normally would be, thanks to the white stuff. Leaving aside the fact that the country was typically unprepared for winter and that the mismanaged, under-funded, crumbling public transport system collapsed beneath the strain of a little snow that other countries’ public transport systems would take in their stride, Wednesday was actually quite fun.

Where rain elicits grumbles and moans, snow is greeted with “Aaw!” and “Aah!”. Whereas rain often has adjectives attached in our language, like “bloody” and “fucking”, snow is just snow. And so it was on the train into London on Wednesday morning as people looked out of the windows in awe at famous landmarks with icing sugar on top.

Eventually alighting at Waterloo East, big, squelchy snowflakes were falling and the pavement was covered in snow two inches deep. The sound of snow crunching beneath my feet as I walked to work was quite surreal.

Later, a colleague and I were returning to the office in his car having visited customers. We were in the middle of a council estate when someone threw a snowball from the balcony of a block of flats. Normally, if someone throws something at a car the occupants of the car will curse and swear and seek to catch and punch the perpetrator. Instead, we both looked at the exploded snowball across the windscreen and said, “Aah!”

At lunchtime, the Royal parks and open spaces were scenes of fluffy white riots as normally reserved city workers couldn’t suppress the urge to gather up a snowball and throw it at someone. And nobody minded. What a difference the weather can make. Let it snow!

It was a pity it hadn’t snowed earlier in the week. Had it have done so, the police outside my office on Monday might have better appreciated my humour. There were twenty or so of them, stopping seemingly random cars. To my mind they were drawing the wrong kind of attention to our company so I enquired of the officer who seemed to be in charge how he’d like it if I were to stand outside his station stopping police cars. He said that were I to do so, I’d be in breach of some section of some act and that I’d be arrested. Humourless bastard. Probably unhappy in his job though, to be fair.

Of course, I blame Blair and on that note I shall retire to the toilet in search of more story ideas. I fear that my frequent visits to the smallest room today may soon render me without toilet paper.

This evening I shall search the weekend newspapers for pictures of Blair and cut them out. I’ve often wanted to see him with egg on his face but this will be much better.

 

A Dedication

Sunday 05 January, 2003. Current mood: In the mug to my left: Coffee. Musical entertainment is courtesy of “Total Rock”, a digital satellite radio station.

It occurred to me just now as I archived the entries I made here in 2002 that 2003 will be my fifth year of being here; of having this site I mean: I am more than five years old.

Looking back over 2002, it was a fairly eventful year, a fact that it occurs to me is made clearer by the keeping of a diary to look back upon. 2002 saw the most dramatic changing of jobs that I have ever undertaken and the subject dominated the entries here as the move became a slanging match between certain others and myself. I am happy in the job that I’m doing now where I was far from happy previously. 2002 was also the first full year that Helen and I spent together and 2003 is our third yea r. It was also the year in which I lost a very dear friend and surrogate Uncle. I will remember Keith very fondly for the rest of my days.

Looking further back to the entries that I made in 2001, what is quite striking in the general improvement of my mood and wellbeing since August 18 that year, that of course being the date that I met my wife-to-be. Shortly after that was when I spent an impromptu two weeks in America, courtesy of Osama Bin Laden. Upon my return from exile, all things Helen-related dominate my diary entries. My mind and heart remain hers now and will do till death us do part.

2001 was also the year that a few others and I arranged a primary school reunion of people who’d been out of touch for twenty years. Earlier in the year, reading the pre-Helen stuff is interesting as before her it would appear that I misspent most of my weekends in a drunken state. Helen has done many things for me, both knowingly and unknowingly. Among them, my drinking is more moderated and I rarely drink before 6 PM. The quality of my weekends has improved infinitesimally since being with her. Even on the rare weekends when we don’t see one another, I am able to concentrate on my hobby of writing, due to the fact that life is good and I have no reason to block it out with my previous hobby of rendering myself blind drunk. This weekend is one of those when Helen and I are not together and I miss her intensely. I am however using the time constructively and writing a couple of short stories.

It is interesting reading further back in 2001 how happy I was when I first started the job that I grew to hate. Were it not for the manipulation and back-stabbing that were rife in the place, and were individuals respected as such and allowed to do their jobs unhindered, I guess I’d still be there now. As it stands, not only am I long gone but so are the majority of my former colleagues. Tomorrow, the firm itself perhaps.

I’ve not got around to trawling through the entries for 2000 and 1999 and I’m not sure I’ll even bother. I remember that the former was the year of the “great flood” and that it started with the most amazing free public party that was Millennium eve in London. Such a pity that London can’t do it again but I’ve commented on that enough elsewhere.

Rather than continuing to look back I am now looking forward to 2003 immensely. Helen has made me happier than I’ve ever been and I really can’t do her justice here as there aren’t sufficient superlatives. It says a lot though that she is my main reason for looking forward. That in itself is proof, were it needed, that Helen continues to be the most important aspect of my life and a very large part of it. In fact, I would like to dedicate this entry, as I have my life henceforth, to Helen. Without Her I feel I would be the lesser, unfulfilled person that I was reading back on the diary entries of earlier. As it is, I enter 2003 a happy and confident person thanks to her.

6 PM and time for a drink: here’s to us babe…

 

 

Most things “Found” whilst hanging around on the message board at b3ta.com

 

Archive 2002

Archive 2001

Archive 2000

Archive 1999

 

All content © Steve Laker, unless otherwise stated. “Dog” and “Diamond Dog” are my on-line personas and copyright of both revert to me. The images that I create are free for download and use but please credit me if using them.

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