Monday, April 30, 2007

Big Tick

Local elections coming up. I believe it is important to use ones right to vote. And I might surprise you by letting you know I won't be voting conservative. Nope. Going to go Lib Dem. I have always had a mild leaning towards them and this year it has been made easy. They are the only party that have bothered to come around and knock on my door. Unfortunately it was bad timing as I was putting "A" to bed, but the point is they tried. So a brownie point and a vote they do get.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Pleasure Bean

Today we had a trip to Cadbury World. Both "A" and I were disappointed not to see any Oomp-Loompas, and neither of us felt that we had so much chocolate that we never wanted to see another bar in our lives (actually I was very restrained). None-the-less, not a bad place to spend the day. "A" got to practice tempering chocolate and, to her credit, did not get it all over herself. I would have liked to see more of the factory in action and to understand the whole process better, it wasn't "techy" enough for me, but we managed to avoid having our photo taken, unlike this poor couple.

I think the most amazing thing was realising how liberated and forward thinking the Cadbury family were. They introduced many things for the workforce which, even now, would not be done. They built a swimming pool and it was compulsory for the workforce to spend time learning to swim and time was provided during work hours for this. And, of course, they built Bourneville itself so that their employees were able to live in leafy suburbs rather than smoke filled inner cities. In fact, they were so good, that I think I should buy more chocolate simply to support the workforce.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


For the years
We grew
We learnt,
Turned to more,
'Till even dreams
Kept us together.

But minutes
Can be stronger,
Stronger than years.
And in minutes
One word
Can become
One hundred.

And words
Can be stronger,
Stronger than dreams.
And while
Dreams remain,
Where the sun never sets
Days appear

Halt In The Name Of The Law

I have only been able to find the following on Radio 4, it was read out on the Friday 6 pm news, about 20 minutes in, so no link I'm afraid.

A Morrisons store in Kilmarnock decided that they needed to find new ways to combat shoplifting. So they had two life-sized cardboard cut-outs of policemen made and erected in the store. Sadly the cut-outs were then nicked. Morrisons have asked for them to be returned.

Sometimes I don't need to try to make something funny.

My Daemon

Below is my Daemon. You may not agree it truely represents me. If you give feedback you may alter my daemon before it settles into its final form. Please do click on the picture and answer the questions as you know me. Thank you.

The following are the changes that my daemon have gone through, edited as changes happen-
My daemon started off as a crow before changing to a silver lynx (modest, solitary, inquisitive, competitive and spontaneous), then to a wolf with the same features, back to the silver lynx, followed by a spider then a stoat (interestingly all have the same descriptive words so I don't know if that is set by my original answers), then back to the wolf (which is good, before this started I would have taken a wolf by choice).

To find your own daemon go to Golden Compass.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Best School

And so to what did I do last night. I went down to London. And visited the Grand Lodge (just off Drury Lane, Great Queen Street, fantastic building that you may have seen in Spooks or some other programmes). My old school lodge was meeting, the Old Cliftonian Lodge (original name I know). I hadn't managed to get to one of their meetings before but I thought it might be fun. I have to admit to some trepidation beforehand. Would I recognise anyone, would they be people I wanted to meet?

Well, the first thing I realised was that I should have spent the previous 24 hours revising. No-one attempted to check my masonic credentials, but my old school credentials were checked to the full and I think I failed. Who was in your year? Er. Which prep school house were you in? Er. Who was headmaster when you were there? Er. Which house were you in? Oooo, oooo, I know this one, Oakeley's. Who was your housemaster? Er. Was Buffy Smithson there at the time you were? Er. Was Flapper Flint teaching? Er. And so on, ad infinitum. look, it was a long time ago, OK. I swear I was almost thrown out, not because I didn't know the secret handshake but because I couldn't remember Buffy Jones.

It was a good night though. The meeting was an installation which, having been installed two weeks ago myself, was excellent to see. A moment to watch rather than be taking part can be useful in understanding the enormity of what happened. And I was able to tell the new Master that I knew exactly how he felt. And the Festive Board afterwards (basically the meal) was enjoyable, meeting new people and, yes, singing the school song. I possibly didn't treat it with as much reverence as some would have liked, but I enjoyed it which, to my mind, is the important thing (I simply believe that there are times when it is important to smile at yourself). I made some new friends. I improved my Masonic knowledge. And I had a good meal with reasonable wine. Definitely worse ways to spend a night.

Song Time

This is going to be out of synch because I will write the post later about what I was up to last night (although the label will give a clue). Suffice it to say at the moment it was to do with my old school. And we sang the school song. What fun. I am sure I only sang this once while I was at school but it made me smile last night. The song is written by Henry Newbolt, and it is the epitomy of what you could expect a school song to be. The words are below, please read. I have to admit to a disappointment though. A line of the chorus has the words "jolly days", I was rather frowned on for singing the word "jolly" in the same way as certain Greenbelters (yes, you know who you are, and I admit I am one) sing the word "frolic" from Puff the Magic Dragon.

It's good to see the School we knew,
The land of youth and dream,
To greet again the rule we knew
Before we took the stream:
Though long we've missed the sight of her,
Out hearts may not forget;
We've lost the old delight of her,
We keep her honour yet.

We'll honour yet the School we knew,
The best School of all:
We'll honour yet the rule we knew,
Till the last bell call.
For, working days or holidays,
And glad or melancholy days,
They were great days and jolly days
At the best School of all.

The stars and sounding vanities
That half the crowd bewitch,
What are they but inanities
To him that treads the pitch?
And where's the wealth, I'm wondering,
Could buy the cheers that roll
When the last charge goes thundering
Towards the twilight goal?

The men that tanned the hide of us,
Our daily foes and friends,
They shall not lose their pride of us,
Howe'er the journey ends.
Their voice, to us who sing of it,
No more its message bears,
But the round world shall ring of it
And all we are be theirs.

To speak of Fame a venture is,
There's little here can bide,
But we may face the centuries,
And dare the deepening tide:
For though the dust that's part of us,
To dust again be gone,
Yet here shall beat the heart of us -
The School we handed on!

We'll honour yet the School we knew,
The best School of all:
We'll honour yet the rule we knew,
Till the last bell call.
For, working days or holidays,
And glad or melancholy days,
They were great days and jolly days
At the best School of all

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Something For The Weekend

I had to pop into the chemist today. I walked in and was instantly greeted by two very nice, attractive, young female assistants. This was very pleasant, having them vying for my attention (OK, look, I know that it was just that I was the first customer they had seen in 15 minutes but I am nearly 40, bear with me, I need to make the most of whatever attention I can get). Anyways, I smiled and started joking with them. All very nice. Then I remembered why I had gone in. There is no way that you can drop the word "imodium" into a conversation and continue flirting (in fact, to tell you the truth, and you probably don't want to know this, I am beginning to think I have irritable bowel syndrome because if it isn't irritable it is certainly d..n annoying.). It would have been so much easier if it had been something innocent like, I don't know, condoms perhaps.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Official Office

Half way through the morning the window cleaners came in. I hardly ever see them because I am out on the road but today I was in. And before cleaning the inside of my windows they openned the blinds. I felt like I was in a comedy horror (me screaming "bright light, bright light", I just needed someone to spill water on me). I hadn't realised how dark my room was. You see my desk, which is "L" shaped is positioned in the corner so I am facing the window. But opposite my window is a white wall and the sun reflecting off it is very bright. So I have got used to keeping the blinds semi-closed. The wash of sunlight into the room was nice though. I couldn't keep my desk where it was and the blinds open because I was squinting so much I couldn't see anything, so I decided to rearrange the room. As I finished some others walked by and asked me if I had filled in a health and safety form for rearranging the room. For a moment I believed them!

I now face into the room and towards the door so I can see straight up the corridor (ha, hours of fun people watching). But the desk cuts across the room, something I have avoided for 6 years as I feel that a desk can easily feel like a barrier. Not sure about the new layout, yes I have more natural light which has to be good, but my office now feels like, well to be honest, an "office".

I will give it a week then decide if I should go back to the old layout.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I so wish I hadn't found this. The Wordsworth Rap. Luckily for you I can't add the video and I strongly advise that you don't go there unless you have a very strong constitution. We have a rapping squirrel, MC Nuts, dancing around the lakes singing a rap version of "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud". And it is produced by the Cumbrian Tourist Board. They say that 200 years after the poem was written it is still reaching new audiences and inspiring people. This is good. So they decided to do a You-Tube version. This is bad. What would Wordsworth make of lines such as "When all at once I looked down and saw a crowd, And in my path there was a host of golden daffodils, So check it" or "Must have been ten thousand I saw in my retina, No more than a glance then I register they're beautiful etcetera" (honest, in the rap the squirrel sings the word "etcetera" to rhyme with "retina").
And they think it will keep the poem alive for another 200 years. I think they may have just killed it off. MC Nuts is a red squirrel, I think his days might have become even more endangered. The Cumbrian Tourist Board and MC Nuts have definitely not got "respect".

Pleading The 2nd

The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights makes interesting reading. This is the bit that the gun lobby in the USA use to defend the fact that everyone should be allowed to wander around with guns, everyone has the right to bear arms. But let us look at the entire piece:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Hmm. So it doesn't just say the right of people to bear arms should not be infringed. No. It says a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. Is it possible that this was written in another day and age? A time when things were different? Is it actually saying that the people need to be able to defend themselves against a tyranical state? This was written at the time of great upheaval and the emergence of the union. The people had fought to achieve what they had and the amendment was there to ensure that this would not be lost.

I think that the second amendment does not give all civilians the right to bear arms. The amendment describes why it has been added (being necessary to the security of a free state, not for individual security) and it says who (a well regulated militia). There is an answer to all those who wish to bear arms however. They can fulfil the 2nd in its entirity. Your country has an emergency at the moment. It is called Iraq. Anyone who thinks that they have a right to bear arms should go straight down to the recruiting office, you can tell them you are bringing your own gun, and get shipped out to Iraq to become a well regulated militia.

Hmm, you don't want to go? Thought not.

Monday, April 23, 2007

So Fast I'm Giddy

Patricia Hewitt has done a "You Ask The Questions" profile with The Independent. I challenge you to find where she actually answers a question. I am actually moving to a position where I admire her for the flagrant and unashamed spin she puts on things. To lift a couple of the questions:

Inflation is 4.8 per cent. Nurses pay is to rise by 1.9 per cent. How can you justify that? K GRAIN, by email
We will never do anything to take us back to the days of raging inflation and double-digit interest rates. So this year, while we accepted the recommendations of the independent pay review bodies (including 2.5 per cent for nurses), we also decided to stage the pay rises with 1.5 per cent from April and the rest from November.

How will you tackle the crisis in abortion care caused by more doctors opting out? KATE TAYLOR, Hull
The number of abortions being performed has hardly changed year on year - and more abortions are now done earlier in pregnancy.


There have to be many men who are grateful to Kiera for the fact that she is willing to go topless in films. And I would almost, almost, think well of her that she is liberated enough to feel willing to be naked. I think people can get too caught up in the naked body. But she rather blows this as she continues with the interview. It is all very well to say how liberating it is but when you then follow up by saying that she will show off her top half but has a body double for her bottom (how do you explain that at a party when asked what you do "I am a bottom double"). This just means that she isn't so much liberated as vain and has certain parts she likes to flaunt.

And, considering how comfortable she is with her top half, you might want to spend a minute or two playing "Spot The Difference" between these two shots from King Arthur, one for the UK and one for the USA.

Dial M For Murder

So when Sal said she would come to an opera with me I suspect this wasn't quite what she was thinking of. But I have to say that Opera Interactive Technology are living up to their name. I haven't quite worked out why they called themselves that, but their story is rapidly turning into a soap opera. And I do like the way that GMTV, and others, are trying to act so innocent. It is possible, and I am really being generous here, to imagine that the presenters knew no better, but there must have been an element of complicity between the two companies. In many ways though the real surprise is that people are shocked that this is happening. The types of questions alone give away the fact that this is really just about making money. I mean, with questions like "Was the hero a) James Bond, b) Inspector Gadget, c) Deputy Dawg?" after you have watched Casino Royale, what can you really expect?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bobbing Along

Bad Taste Warning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thames Water are, of course, completely right to warn people not to go swimming in the Firth of Forth after the sewage plant pumped 100 million litres of waste into the waters. After all, anyone attempting it would just be going through the motions.

Bricked Up

It is always nice to see how the Americans have managed to learn from history. Taking great successes such as the Berlin Wall and the West Bank Wall and using them as role models, they are now building a Baghdad Wall. And, as can be expected from examining history, it is doing wonders for morale and to bring the communities together. In fact, thinking about it, maybe it will help with the community thing - soon everyone will want the US out.

Notes From Heaven

OK, a bit late reporting this one, but the story is worth telling, and my thanks to Barefoot for finding it. It is certainly an interesting experiment. Place a top rate, world recognised, violinist in an incongruous position, such as at a busy station, and see how many people realise what they are listening to.

It is a long article. If you want to see the video clips then you will need to follow the link as I still don't know how to add video to my blog, but I will summarise.

The Washington Post managed to convince Joshua Bell to play for just under three quarters of an hour during the middle of morning rush hour at a Metro station in Washington DC. They wanted to see what kind of attention he would get and how many people would stop to listen to something that actually would cost a heck of a lot of money to see in a concert hall. The result was not many people stopped. Only a tiny fraction of those going past could spare even a moment of their lives.

But reading the piece I am filled with conflicting thoughts. At first it seems a pity, sad even, that people do not stop. But then consider the pieces he is playing. These are fine pieces, but they are pieces for those who know music, have grown up with music, who understand music. Classical music is a refined taste, like many things you need to start with the basics. And the majority of those walking past haven't had that experience so all they hear is a "scratchy" violin. I have listened to the clips and there are bits that transcend emotion but there are also bits that don't.

So I am not sure what it actually tells us. That many of us are too wrapped up in our own world? Possibly yes. That an internationally recognised genius is only a genius amongst those who understand the field, yes. But actually we could look at the hope of the story. Some did stop, some stood still and listened, some who had never been touched by classical music were touched for a moment.

Would I have stopped? I hope so.

What Time Is It?

I think it might be a long day in this household. I didn't sleep well and ended up getting up too early as I was lying in bed with too many thoughts rushing around my head. Unfortunately, depite best efforts to be quiet, this then woke up "A". I told her it was too early and she should go back to bed but, possibly reasonably, her argument was that I was up so why shouldn't she be. Anyway, this means two people who are both tired and likely to become increasingly both grumpy and tetchy as the day progresses. It started with an argument over whether "we" play the PS2 (me) or we watch channel 621 (her). I think it may get more unreasonable later. Oh joy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

World Cup Cricket

At some point it had to happen. A match that made it worth while. And todays was it. The result doesn't truly tell of the tension. England win by 1 wicket. It sounds fine. But that doesn't tell the little matter of the fact it came down to 2 runs needed off the last two balls with no wicket in hand. Pietersen and Nixon made the difference. Two men who stood up to be counted when it mattered. Amazing match.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Thin Blue Line

I suspect I may not have helped my neighbours this evening. On the way back from work I was rather surprised to see the road next to ours closed off by the police. A lot of cars parked on the roundabout but no-one in them. Further down the road I could see that the park was cordoned off. All very odd. As I drove up to my house I noticed a car parked opposite with two people in it. I parked in my drive and got out of my car. Almost simultaneously the man and woman in the car got out. Uncanny timing, was it just a co-incidence? They looked at me. And this is where I might not have helped. Rather than smiling at them I stared, possibly quizically, and then broke eye contact and scurried into the house. I don't think I came over as "friendly". Now this might seem odd but my nervous behaviour was rather driven by the fact I thought they were police. Of the serious crime investigating sort. The "we would like to discuss where you were today" sort. I realise that this might sound, in itself, either suspicious or paranoid. But about 10 years ago I was interviewed by the police regarding a murder and I have never quite got over the experience. So, at times, I can feel a little "on edge". This was one of those times and I thought if I got into the house quickly enough then I might be OK.

So exactly why did this not help the neighbours? Well, as I got into our house and tried to surreptitiously peek out of the kitchen window without being spotted I suddenly remembered that the neighbours house was up for sale and it dawned on me that maybe these were people who had, until my odd behaviour, been considering becoming our new neighbours! Hmm, doubt I will be seeing them again anyway.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In The Footsteps of Lloyd George

So I was in London last night for the NOAH dinner. It was a good evening, an opportunity to get dressed up in the DJ, always something I enjoy. Luckily I got to London early because as I checked into the hotel I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to pack the studs for my dress shirt. Wandering around London you can rapidly realise how many shops there are with clothes for women while there is hardly anything for men. However I did find some rather nice studs (and also accidentally managed to buy some new cufflinks at the same time). Dinner was at the National Liberal Club. in the library. A fantastic room, very elegant and beautifully decorated, stunning pillars. The after dinner speaker was "different", in that I have never seen someone read 5 pages of a book before, especially when the book wasn't written by him (although he might have had time in the early 90's when he was stranded on an island), but the food, the wine, and the company were all enjoyable.

Just a pity I had to be back in MK at 0900 hrs this morning for training.

Bit Of A Drag

It is with a certain sense of irony that I can report that within about 5 hours of the last post I got a taxi in London. Only to realise as we pulled out of Euston that the driver was a chain smoker! As well as subjecting me to his smoke this also meant one hand was never used to control the taxi. Not a good idea in London when control is paramount. To add to the excitement (!) he also was doing the crossword.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I am so looking forward to the laws banning smoking in public. But I have found there is an extra bonus. Apparently these laws will also cover company cars. Anyone with a company car will not be able to smoke in it. Yippee. I have had a pool car before that was owned previously by a smoker and it was a horrible experience, in fact I had to change cars. That's the thing about smoke, it clings to everything. I hate getting back from a party and then the next day being able to smell the smoke on my clothes. I know a lot of people will be very unhappy but I, for one, rejoice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

World Cup Cricket

To say that was a pathetic display would be an understatement. England were lucky to get to the Super 8's and they really demonstrated that today. South Africa won by 9 wickets. In itself that sounds bad but when you realise how many overs they had to spare then you realise how far out of their league England really are. Fletcher has to go. More importantly Vaughan has to go. I don't care how much people say he is a good tactician and a good captain. A captain has to lead from the front. Look at Ponting, look at Smith. They put themselves on the line. When you look at Vaughan all you can think is that to be captain of England you just need to be mediocre. It isn't enough. No wonder they were boo'ed off the pith.

And just in case you thin you are safe, no more cricket, I have changed my allegiance to New Zealand.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Melt In The Mouth

Recent work by scientists indicates I must be eating the wrong kind of chocolate. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate (have you tried the latest magnum with Ecuadorian chocolate - to die for). But to say chocolate beats kissing! The two just can't compare. All I can say is they picked some strange test subjects. Maybe they had no attraction for each other. Chocolate is fine, but predictable, as it melts in the mouth. A good kiss however is anything but predictable and that is what is so exciting, it may be soft, it may be hard, it may be gentle and reticent, it may be forceful and demanding, a memory of what has been or a hint of what is to come....... OK I think I'd better stop.

Big Enough

I have no doubt that this lady was treated badly. Certainly claims of sexism and being pushed out seem reasonable. But sueing for £1.3 million. How can that be justified? She was on a salary of £70k so how on earth can that multiply up to £1.3 million? That's almost 14 years of work (for her, for some that is over what they could ever see in a lifetime).

We live in a society that is becoming more and more litigatious and this is not good. If we are poorly treated then we should have recourse to justice but it is imperative that we don't try to abuse the system. The more that some people abuse and misuse the system the less there wil be for the truly deserving. The more the big companies will simply wrap themselves up with lawyers to protect them. The less daring and innovative companies will beome for fear of being taken to court. I would be happy for this person to win something, but to win what she is after would be a crying shame.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Google have recently introduced a map service which includes a direction finder. Try finding your way from Maine in America to the UK. I have copied some of the directions (and this is not made up I promise). You will see it starts off normal enough but then check out step 13.

Take exit 24B-A toward RT-1A N/Airport/Gov't Center
0.3 mi
1 min
Turn left at John F Fitzgerald Surface Rd/Surface Rd
0.2 mi
1 min
Turn left at Milk St
174 ft
Continue on Central St
0.1 mi
Turn right at Long Wharf
0.1 mi
Swim across the Atlantic Ocean
3,462 mi
29 days 0 hours
Slight right at E05
0.5 mi
2 mins
At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto E05/Pont Vauban
0.1 mi
Turn right at E05
5.7 mi
10 mins
Take the exit onto A29/E44 toward Amiens
Toll road

Er, yes, right. Swim across the Atlantic. And they reckon it will take 29 days. Who do they think I am, David Walliams? Then, to add insult to injury, land in b....y France. So I will be soaking wet, very cold, probably in need of a wee bite of food, and I can't even ask for a towel because they speak the wrong language. And it is so nonchalent, swim across the Atlantic then slight right at E05! After 3462 miles I am not sure I would know which way was up, let alone right.

Too Long Albert

Radio 4 have a programme today called "The Reunion" where they are bringing together cast of Eastenders. Apparently Eastenders was first aired in 1985.

Now I have to say, Eastenders is a programme that irritates the hell out of me. I see it as one of the worst aspects of media and the fact that it is so popular does not reflect well on humanity. It is banned in our household. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against soaps per se. I used to watch Coronation Street (until it became more like Eastenders), I listen to the Archers, although not a fan of Neighbours I don't mind it being watched in our house. No, my hatred is very specific to Eastenders. It is the plotlines of Eastenders that are the problem. There are always very bad things happening to people and no-one is ever happy. I am sure there is occassional humour but it is constantly overshadowed by the sheer misery. There are more tears shed in Eastenders in a year than have been ever shed in The Archers (a much longer running soap). And I believe this is why it is popular. The fan base is dominated by people watching the programme and then thinking that at least there are people worse off in the world than they are. It survives because it makes people think that their lives could be worse. In other words it relies on our base instincts that other peoples suffering makes our hard times seem better. It makes us glad that others have more problems than we do. And I think that this is a very bad thing.

Let's have humour, let's have things that raise us above the dross and make us aspire to happiness, aspire to being good to each other. Give us the anti-Eastenders.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Look No Hands

Well, no stabilisers anyway. "A" suddenly announced that she wanted to have the stabilisers off her bike. I still don't know why. But we went down to the park and had a go. Yes she fell over but, also and importantly, she managed to ride the bike. Not far, and not straight, but ride it she did.

Drop The Dead Donkey

There is something ironic about the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton splitting up being the lead story on the news when the reason they are splitting is because of media attention. It is somewhat less ironic that it is the lead story when there are actually important things happening - Kasparov arrested, deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brown meeting Bush (very scarey that one).

How does such a minor story, which really has no impact on anybody (except those directly involved) get to be so high up the list? Are we really all so shallow that this is what we want to hear about? Maybe the media don't think that we can understand anything more in depth.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I mentioned our trip to Warwick Castle. Here is the pictorial edition.

The early days. Not a care in the world. Before war was thought of, when men were happy. When juggling and frolicking were a way of life.

Then "A" starts practicing her archery. Oh, if only I had listened to the warnings.

Soon "A" is preparing for battle
The English lines are drawn. Archers to the fore, billmen behind and knights in the distance.
The French cavalry line up, ready to charge the lines. Little do they expect the chaos to follow.
The final blow is dealt. The English are victorious.

Bit More Seasoning Please

This is one of those "there but for the grace of God" moments. A vet in Taiwan had his arm torn off by a crocodile. He had been reaching in to remove the tranquiliser dart when he found the croc wasn't quite as asleep as may have been hoped.

It brings back memories of having to stitch up a large laceration on a lions tail. I darted the lion, waited for it to go to sleep then entered the cage. The fact that no-one else entered with me did raise an alarm bell or two. So there I am, sitting at the back end of a very large lion, tail still twitching between my legs, sewing away. Now, I admit I was never a fast surgeon, but that day I stitched for my life. I am still surprised that I didn't need a change of trousers at the end of it all.

In this case the vet failed to notice that the croc wasn't fully anaesthetised. I seem to remember poking the lion with a sharp stick for about ten minutes before I felt brave enough to enter the cage (did I mention the fact that there was only one door to the cage and it was only about one and a half foot high so I couldn't exactly have run out in an emergency). And his family are worried about when he will be able to play the piano again.

The thing is, they were treating the croc because it had been off its food for a week! What a time to regain your appetite.

World Cup Cricket

I didn't comment on England beating Bangladesh because I was otherwise occupied, not because I have stopped watching the cricket. And definitely not because I am worried about receiving more "zzzz"s. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Morning After

And finally back home. Still struck by last night and the enormity of the occasion. But also struck by the sheer amount of help and support I got from my parents. My father in giving me guidance and helping make sure I had organised everything I was supposed to do. My mother for spending so much time sourcing flowers and fruit, and getting everything arranged to make the Festive Board look so good and the tables look so impressive. Unfortunately I failed to take the camera so can't show you, but I was very proud.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Big Night

The morning is spent starting to worry about the practicalities of the day. Will the blue glasses that I have had engraved for the Lodge look good on the tables? Will my reply to the toast be suitable? How will we get the fruit and flowers to the Lodge? Have I printed enough place cards, and spelt names correctly? In some ways this is good because it keeps my mind off the enormity of the day.

After lunch I start thinking more about the actual event itself. The Lodge is going to install me as their Master for the next 12 months. They trust me enough to put the direction of the Lodge under my hand. This is really quite big. In fact, very big. I get more and more nervous. The meeting should start at 1630 hrs but we get delayed and we don't start until 1700 hrs. That was an incredibly long half hour.
Then the evening builds up, I have to step down as Senior Warden, in front of the Lodge I make some vows. Next all those who have not been in the Chair of a Lodge have to leave. The ensuing part is awe-inspiring (and I am not going to tell you about it apart from to say that what made it even more emotional was that my father conducted this part of the ceremony) before everyone comes back in and I am recognised as the Master. Then, after I close the Lodge, we all go upstairs for the meal.

I had chosen the same meal as my father had at his installation. It seemed a nice touch. Surrounded by friends a happy evening of conversation, toasts and replies, a bit of singing (the Masters Song) then followed. We finished late, very late. One of the latest evenings I have known but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, I didn't see surreptitious glances at watches. Some friends travelled a long way, Bristol and Daventry, and that made it even more special. I never wanted the evening to end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Practice Makes Perfect

Down to Cardiff for a rehearsal before a very important evening for me tomorrow. The rest of the team have been attending the Lodges of Instruction and know their parts well. I come in, as usual, at the last minute and they have to hope I have learnt my lines and that I can quickly pick up where I am suppose to be at different times during the ceremony. This is the problem of living in Northampton and going to a Lodge in Cardiff, I just can't attend the rehearsals often enough. We have a pleasant meal beforehand then go into the temple. It all goes fairly well, at least the bits I am allowed to see. For about half of it I, and some others, are thrown out because we are not privy to what happens. This changes tomorrow for me.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cry Havoc

A day at Warwick Castle. And I have to say that every penny there is well spent. The place is so well organised with something going on all the time and plenty to keep the children amused. "A" had a great time. Hard to say what was her favourite but I think she enjoyed the mini knights. This was an opportunity for the children to learn a bit about fighting in the 100 years war. The children got to choose roles from archers, billmen, knights and trebuchet operators ("A" was an archer). Then the daddies (well, some of us, considering how many children were involved either a lot of daddies were spoil sports or some of us had been VERY busy boys) played the role of the french. We charged the english lines but were repelled, first by the archers then the billmen. A trebuchet missile almost killed our king before we were massacred by the english knights. A lot of calls of "vive la france" and "sacre bleu" along with misbehaved horses and squeaky helmets lead to a lot of laughs, as much from the mothers as from the children.

The highlight for me was to see the working trebuchet. This monster of a siege weapon is the largest in existence weighing in at 22 tonnes and 18 metres high. We were very lucky today as there was no wind so they decided to fling a fireball. A big rock wrapped in hesian soaked in fuel and lit. The ball soared to an unbelievable height and an incredible distance before hitting the ground in an explosion of fire. Impressive.


A world around us
Moving, buzzing
Full of activity
Believing us
To be a part

When really
Deep down
This silence
And all we feel
Is apart

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bath Time

So my cats don't know a lot about the ways of the world. That's fair enough. No reason why they should. They are still fascinated by everything and like exploring. Also fair enough. So "A" gets in the bath this evening but it is a bit cold (parents-in-law around, cooked sunday lunch, lot of washing up, no water left). She complains so we let her get out and have a shower instead. Scooby comes in and decides to explore the bath. When it still has water in it. Have you ever seen surprise on a cats face? And indignation because we were laughing so much at him. He tried to maintain some dignity as he walked off but failed to carry it off as each step involved shaking a paw five times to get the water off before he would put it back down.

World Cup Cricket

For those that don't like cricket I will keep this short and sweet. England lost.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

World Cup Cricket

I will risk some more "zzzz"s from Sal, and report on a result other than an England one. For Bangladesh have just beaten South Africa. Beaten them conclusively. An incredible upset and one that deserves recognition. Rather than being overawed the Bangladeshis gave it their all. I think the phrase is "respect".

Petting Zoo

Thank you for the following link 1iz. My favourite is the bat, mainly because of feeding time (hint: clik on "more")

Friday, April 06, 2007

More Ouch

So neither the painkillers or the wine have kicked in. Not a happy bunny. Now, I have to admit that I am fairly used to back pain. When I was a meer whippersnapper (or young student anyway) I was out in the car with a vet one day when he decided to overtake a tractor. Unfortunately the tractor turned right and we hit the back wheel and bounced back off across the road. Now, to be fair to the vet, it wasn't his fault, the tractor driver had not fixed up the electrics on his trailor (which he tried to surreptitiously do before the police arrived). None the less, this didn't do my back much good. Then I followed the exaple of many a young vet when I qualified and had a number of my own accidents. Including one where I put my Astra under a lorry, turned the Astra into a rather sporty looking drop-nose model, and my dog slept through the whole thing. So I live with a certain amount of discomfort day to day anyway. But this is different, it isn't ususally lower back and hips. No matter how bad things get I have been able to touch my toes. But not today. Today my toes seem an extra 5 feet away from me and the idea of touching them impossible. I feel very old. Please make me borg.


This travelling is absolutely killing my back. Even with regular trips to the osteo I just can't keep up. Last year I bought a rucksac to carry the laptop rather than the normal bag so that it would distribute the weight better. I think the problem is all the security you need to go through. The rucksac is on and off my back so often, then at times being carried by hand, it can't help. Today my lower back and hips feel as though they have hot needles in them and can't bend down. Not good. Here's hoping some wine helps before I have to become borg like the man in the picture.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

World Cup Cricket

As I was away last night I missed posting about the cricket. I was quite distressed because the hotel didn't have Sky Sports but I did manage to watch the highlights. And, compared to many recent England games, this really did have highlights. The England bowlers did well and kept the Sri Lankans down to a good possible target. I think at the end f the Sri Lankan batting it would be best to describe the match as honours even. Then England came out. The beginning was predictable, the openning batsmen struggling to get off the mark and two wickets lost for only 11 runs. So, so predictable. But then Bell and Pietersen got stuck in and for the next 15 overs or so things were turned around, England had the upper hand and the thought that we could win sneaked in. But once Pietersen lost his wicket for 58, with a very respectable strike rate, things faltered again. The men we should rely on failed and it started to look poor only for Bopara and Nixon to stage a recovery. From a very unlikely run rate they moved things forward and it came down to the very last over. 11 needed off 6 balls. And still they came. Finally 3 needed off the last ball. How tense can it get, 50 overs each and it still hangs on the last ball. Unfortunately rather than a heroes four, Bopara was bowled by Fernando and that was that. Close but no cigar.

Splash Down

I am generally not a great one for cute but 1iz has posted a youtube video of otters that is worth seeing. You will have to go to her site to view it as I haven't yet worked out how to insert videos into my blog (1iz being really clever can do it in comments as well). Otters are up there with my favourite animals, along with wolves (which I believe should be released back into the UK) and orcas (which should not be released into the UK, for one they wouldn't survive on land). One of my highest prized memories is unzipping my tent in the early hours when I was camping on Arran (being before I realised I had pitched my tent on an old burial ground around the corner from Lochranza, well obviously I knew it was around the corner from Lochranza, it was the burial ground bit ....anyway I digress) to see sea otters playing in the bay in front of me. I lost track of time watching them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tick Tock

Homes in Plymouth were evacuated last night because an old bomb was found. This was reported on Radio 4 where they said that "the bomb disposal squad have made the bomb safe and taken it out to sea". I love this image, where they have given it a comfy jacket and some pillows to rest on and are now taking it out on a pleasure cruiser for a sightseeing trip of Plymouth Sound.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sweet Jesus

This is sad. Outraged catholics have demanded the removal of a 6 foot statue of Jesus made out of chocolate. They say the timing of the exhibit, coming up to Easter, is especially designed to provoke anger. I think it is a pity that they can't see the irony in the statue. A time when we should be thinking of his crucifixion, instead is a time when people think about sweets. Bringing the two together presents that juxtaposition and should make people ponder on what the real meaning of Easter is.

Every Breath You Take

I heard today that the Conservatives are calling for a complete reform of the Police. Why, I ask, they only just got back together.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bring It On

OK, option one is to go to bed despondent. I don't like that option so I will have to go for option two. Option two is to say today is over and, importantly, as it is over nothing can be done to change it, therefore there is no point worrying about it. Tomorrow is an opportunity to reset the system. Take the challenges as ways to learn and to move forward. I need to be positive and I can be positive. Tonight I will look in the mirror and recognise I believe in myself. Tomorrow morning I will look in the mirror and say I am ready for it all.

Swing Low

Some days are just tough. A combination of frustration and things not seeming "right". And one thing leads to another so nothing seems to get done. It just adds up to a bad day, one which feels incredibly low. I have to remain positive at work and positive at home without anyone to really talk to. And, at times, that just seems too much.

Hands Up

I admit it. Sarah was right, very sharp.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I suppose now would be a good time to tell people what my plans are. I have had to keep this secret but this is the right time. I have been in discussion with the Alaskan Fisheries (AF) for a job that they have for a vet. There have been concerns recently about diminishing numbers of orcas (killer whales) and the AF need to look into this in more detail. We have a number of theories including a migration of polar bears to the east because of global warming so that there is less food for the orcas or an orca that escaped from captivity disurpting pods so that they are not managing to breed. We have had to keep it quiet but the necessary documentation has come through and they have found accommodation for me. It is all going to be a bit of a rush and I am moving out there after Easter.