Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bedtime Blues

My daughter is 7 this week. Asked what she wanted to do for her birthday party she elected for a sleep over. Now, to be honest, I think that this is a bit young for a sleep over, but the precedent has already been set and it is this years "thing". So yesterday was her party. First off was taking "A" and 4 friends to Hannah Montana. This was probably my starring moment. Not Hannah Montana but the taking of children to the cinema. I have an Audi A6 for a test drive this weekend. I tend to drive quite fast anyway, and the acceleration isn't bad in this car. So they rather enjoyed sitting in the back with the windows down as we tore up duel carriageways and around roundabouts (actually one of them wanted the window closed as she thought she might fall out). Loads of bonus points for me there.

When we got to the cinema I tried to convince the attendent that she wasn't supposed to let middle aged men in to Hannah Montana. I failed. I did take my iPhone with me and the headphones, but somehow I resisted listening to my own music (I may have surfed the web a bit, but credit where it is due please). We then took them to Buddies for tea. And at this point we are doing OK.

The sleep over bit may not have been quite so good. One girl was scared by the ghost stories they were telling each other. I should point out that our house is only 20 years old and in no way scary. I should also point out that this girl watched Coraline, which looks an incredibly scary film to me (well, I mean for 7 year olds, obviously not for me). And Scooby jumped on to my daughters bed, scratching her leg in the process. And.......and.......and. Anyway, they were up and down the stairs like a yoyo until I raised my voice. Even then they kept awake upstairs. In fact, at one point J threatened that I would come up to speak to them and they laughed. Hmm, I clearly need to work on the intimidation factor. In the end they didn't go to sleep until gone 0030 hrs.

Which meant that they were all still asleep when the parents came to pick them up. Rather embarassing. When "A" has been at a sleep over then the next morning they are all fed, watered and packed by the time they are picked up. Ours were still snoring.

I am shattered.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


What a pleasant night. When life can be hectic, too fast, and sometimes downright difficult, it was great to have time out. My parents came down so that my father could come out to a Chapter meeting with me. I had a few lines to do, not a massive amount, but what I had went well, a relief as I have had so much on my mind that I had found some difficulty in buckling down to learning. And it is very satisfying to deliver lines well, with meaning. Time to meet with people, build new friendships, to share moments with my father - all very valuable to me right now. Recently for a few reasons I have not had the drive, the impetus, I needed for this or indeed much. Changes to my life style, and some decisions in my head, seem to have helped and I feel energised. Which is good because being energised results in enjoying living.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I'll wrap it up tight
With chains and locks
To hold it
And bury it
Where, no longer
It tears me
Not wanting to lose
Unable to embrace
For now
I need to place it
And maybe
Just maybe
One day
I will look again
And, no more
Feel the pain
Happy memories

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Drive He Said

In my mind I may have decided, but the test drive was disappointing. The BMW 520 has excellent acceleration, but there is no real "feel" to it. It might be an exec saloon thing, but you kind of just float around. Maybe that is why BMW owners are so annoying, they simply forget that there is anything outside their car. So the BMW 520 no longer seems such a sure bet. Especially since a new car popped up on the list. An Audi A5 Coupe. Now, you may ask if that is a practical car for one with a family. And my reply is - who cares. Sleak, fast, and not something everyone else is going for (the office car park is going to look like a BMW show room soon). I took "A" to see one at the weekend, she said she doesn't mind having only the two doors, no problem getting in and out for her. I think she might have been woo'd by me mentioning the acceleration (0-60 in 3 seconds less than the Mazda 6) (I am lucky having an adrenaline junkie as a daughter). And I reckon I can fit most things in it that I need, it's not as though it is a TT (which is also now on my list but some sense must prevail). Test drive now needed, although in the meantime I will try the Audi A6.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Bees are quite fun little things. They fact that the defy the laws of aerodynamics and gravity adds to their charm. But they are apparently hydrophobes. The are scared of flying over water (digression point - midges get blown over water as aerial plankton, when they are no longer over water they can recognise the reduction in UV light being reflected up at them, so they close their wings and effectively dive-bomb out of the air). SO it's nice to know that something has found a use for the plethora of bridges that seem to have sprung up over the Tyne. Bees in the centre of town commute over the bridges and back in order to find pollen. Personally I always thought the number of bridges rather overkill - there is a limit to how many times you can cross one river - but if it is helping the bees to make their way to some decent flowers then it seems a worth while spend of the tax-payers money.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


This time we made it to Chester Zoo. After the last attempt when we decided the weather wasn't going to be good enough we were going to be easily dissuaded today. And the weather was good, surprisingly so for a Bank Holiday. Chester is quite a good zoo. A lot of effort being put into environmental enrichment. Doesn't always work, especially with the Jaguars which, although beautiful animals, were showing too much pacing for my liking. Zoos are always a conundrum, they do a lot of good work and support conservation, without some of the research by some of he zoos there would be even more extinct species, but for some of the individual animals they aren't great.

Special mention has to go to the bat cave. Before we went in "A" said she was scared of bats. So you'd think going into a cave where the bats can fly around you would be a disaster. Quite the opposite, by the time we came out she said she liked bats and wanted to go back in. It was fascinating. The bats fly right around you. If you stand still and are quiet then that actually fly up to you and hover right in front of your face. Rather than being the shy things that you imagine them to be, it turns out that they are curious little things. Lovely creatures. As your eyes adjust to the dark you can start to see them hanging from the walls next to you. It was without doubt the best bat display I have seen.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Crispy Business

If you had spent years studying at law school what would you aspire to. Would you want to lead the lastest murder trial, would you want to be fighting for human rights, would you be trying to reverse great injustice? Or would you be trying to decide if Pringles are a cake or a crisp? It turns out that they are, in fact, crisps. Had you ever questioned that in your mind? They certainly seem to be marketed as crisps. But, for Proctor and Gamble, this is a serious issue. A cake is exempt from VAT. Crisps (and biscuits) are not. So it makes commercial sense to be a cake. A similar thing happened with Jaffa Cakes a few years ago, however they won that one on the grounds that biscuits go soft when they go stale and cakes go hard - Jaffa Cakes go hard ergo they are cakes. For Pringles it was the regularity of the shape and the fact that they are made from a dough that gave them a chance to claim that Pringles aren't crisps. However the judge has decided that there is more than enough "potatoiness" (really not sure of the spelling for that) for them to be crisps. And this is an expensive decision for Proctor and Gamble.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quacking Up

Overall the expense scandal (? mortgagegate, flippergate) is sad. It undermines the political system as it discredits politicians. However there are moments that have to make you smile. I love that most of the dubious claims are completely on line with any stereotypes that we may hold about each party. Todays is a case in point. Only a conservative MP could be caught with his hands in the till for charging a floating duck island on expenses.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Over or Order

I don't think anything amusing needs to be said. The blog can be as short as his resignation speech. 30 years comes down to 30 seconds, and finally the Speaker sees that he must resign, even if the apology is not forthcoming.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Looking for my castle
Somewhere to hide to
Somewhere to hold to
With the gates closed
To protect me

Without you here
To let the light in
I will let the dust
Gather round me
Watch armour
Turn to rust
Water stagnate
Curtains fall
From rotten wood

But the walls
Will keep me

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Star Struck

We went to the ROyal Windsor Horse Show today. Must admit that, if we hadn't already pre-purchased tickets, the weather would have put us off. Especially when 10 miles from Windsor visibility on the motorway was less distance than a pig sneeze. Having paid though then we were going to spend at least an hour there. And, luckily, we actually got a lot of sun. Also got covered in a lot of mud, and when I got home I realised that I was rather colder than I had suspected (wearing shorts may not have helped this last point). Overall a good day. Saw plenty of Royals, including the Queen. And saw Robert Lindsay, which was (sorry, I hope this isn't treason) even more exciting to spot. And no, don't worry, we did have more class than to rush up to him for his autograph. But I have admired him since "Citizen Smith" (Wolfie was someone you HAD to look up to when I was young), "GBH" and "Nightingales" so spotting him, and hearing his voice, was a good moment.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

PLease Don't Leave Me - Pink

Da da da da, da da da da
Da da da da-da da

I don't know if I can yell any louder
How many time have I kicked you outta here?
Or said something insulting?
da da da da-da
I can be so mean when I wanna be
I am capable of really anything
I can cut you into pieces
When my heart is....broken

Da da da-da da
Please don't leave me
Please don't leave me
I always say how I don't need you
But it's always gonna come right back to this
Please, don't leave me

How did I become so obnoxious?
What is it with you that makes me act like this?
I've never been this nasty
Can't you tell that this is all just a contest?
The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest
But baby I don't mean it
I mean it, I promise

Da da da-da da
Please don't leave me
Da da da-da da
Please don't leave me
Da da da-da da
I always say how I don't need you
But it's always gonna come right back to this
Please, don't leave me
[Please Don't Leave Me Lyrics On ]
I forgot to say out loud how beautiful you really are to me
I can't be without, you're my perfect little punching bag
And I need you, I'm sorry.

Da da da da, da da da da
da da da da-da da
Please, please don't leave me

Baby please don't leave me
No, don't leave me
Please don't leave me no no no
You say I don't need you but it's always gonna come right back,
It's gonna come right back to this.
Please, don't leave me.
No, don't leave me
Please don't leave me, oh no no no.
I always say how I don't need you
But it's always gonna come right back to this

Please don't leave me
Please don't leave me

Friday, May 15, 2009


A moment
Within a grasp of heaven
Entirely one
With you
More than sharing
A breath forever
Holding the world
As we hold each other
Immensity of emotion
To a star point

To pause it
And never move on


The next time I fall
You're not there
To catch me.

Will it go on
In the void

Least Complicated - Indigo Girls

I sit two stories above the street
Its awful quiet here since love fell asleep
Theres life down below me though
The kids are walking home from school

Some long ago when we were taught
That for whatever kind of puzzle you got
You just stick the right formula in
A solution for every fool

I remember the time when I came so close to you
Sent me skipping my class and running from school
And I bought you that ring cause I never was cool
What makes me think I could start clean slated
The hardest to learn was the least complicated

So I just sit up in the house and resist
And not be seen until I cease to exist
A kind of conscientious objection
A kind of dodging the draft

The boy and girl are holding hands on the street
And I dont want to but I think you just wait
Its more than just eye to eye
Learn the things I could never apply

I remember the time when I came so close with you
I let everything go it seemed the only truth
And I bought you that ring, it seemed the thing to do

What makes me think I could start clean slated
The hardest to learn was the least complicated
So what makes me think I could start clean slated
The hardest to learn was the least complicated

Im just a mirror of a mirror myself
All the things that I do
And the next time I fall Im gonna have to recall
Its isnt love its only something new

I sit two stories above the street
Its awful quiet here since love fell asleep
Theres life down below me though
The kids are walking home from school

Im remember the time when I came so close with you
Sent me skipping my class and running from school
And I bought you that ring cause I never was cool

What makes me think I could start clean slated
The hardest to learn was the least complicated
So what makes me think I could start clean slated
The hardest to learn was the least complicated
The least complicated
The least complicated

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Time for another gym update. Sorry, but I am so into it that you have to suffer as well as everyone else. I continue to increase the levels on the machines which is good. Still hate the treadmill. But I am finding an unexpected side effect that will also help the weight. I am eating and drinking less. This is a direct result of the time I end up going. I wait until "A" has gone to bed and then head off. Once I have done the gym and used the sauna/spa (compulsory, as explained previously, as it is the one thing that stops me seizing up) I am not home until gone 2130hrs. And that really is too late for eating. So whereas previously I was cooking meals, with very generous portions, I am now having a couple of slices of toast. Even tonight, when I went on the way back from work as "A" was off trampolining, I didn't feel like a proper meal. In addition I normally don't feel like a glass of wine either (although as I type this I do have a glass of whisky beside me). So over a period of a week I probably drink a bottle of wine less than I used to (OK, I used to have a glass every night, and they are big glasses).

Gosh, I so should have done this a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I've Been Driving In My Car...

Yesterday down to Wimbourne and back. Today it was Chippenham. That's a lot of driving. But nice weather so quite pleasant. Especially as I got a chance to catch up on some podcasts. It's time for a new car though. My one has come to the end of its company life and I have to chose a new one. I will miss my Mazda 6, it has been a lovely drive, and very reliable. Given a choice I would go for one again, especially as they have been restyled (in black look almost Batmobile-like now). But we are now limited to a few named marques. That isn't a complaint, there are good cars available. I have always said I won't have a BMW. Sorry if this insults you but beamer drivers seem arrogant t..sers on the road, they seem to think they own it. Well, for the purpose of research and so I could cross it off my list I went to look at the BMW 520d. Then I sat in it. And fell in love. It is a beautiful car. The inside is simply gorgeous. And for the pleasure of driving it I am quite happy for people to think I am a t..ser (don't jump in there with "they already do"). I get a test drive next week, just to make sure, but my mind is already there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Forward Pass

In rugby news today Northampton Casuals children beat Northampton Casuals parents.

It was the end of the season for the casuals. And the end of the season sees a match of kids versus parents. Not all the kids and all the parents in one go, that would just be a bundle. The kids stayed in their respective age groups. We had 7 kids against 4 grown ups. A number of adults claiming bad backs. I was just glad I started going to the gym a month ago (and to be honest, knowing this was coming up was a driving force behind joining). There was a fundamental problem in the rules, in that grown ups could only take three steps before they had to pass. Well, because we were passing backwards as you should, this meant we ended up going backwards overall as our steps forward were shorter than our passes back. Then trying to get the kids tags when they were so low to the ground wasn't easy.

It was great fun. Really enjoyed it. Maybe next time we won't let them win.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Money Money Money....

It must be funny being a politician. So many ways to claim expenses. There are so many options that it must be difficult to ensure you are claiming everything that you are entitled to! And then you can blame the people who check your expenses if you get it wrong.

The approach seems to be to try and claim things and, if passed, then it is allowable. However there seems to be no consideration towards what is ethical or right to claim. The attitude is to push to the limit. The practice of "flipping" seems especially dubious. Whether or not it is allowed, does it seem fair. When people are having problems paying their mortgage, or affording necessary repairs to their hose, politicians are able to simply redesignate their house in order to fund new furniture.

There was another time when a group of people blamed their behaviour on the rules. That time it involved concentration camps and the rules were their excuse for numerous horrors. Once rules can be used as an excuse and devolve reponsibilty for decency then society can degenerate to dangerous levels.

Friday, May 08, 2009


I have been away for a few days. So rather surprised to find that my computer has died while I have been away. The computer seems to boot up OK but then none of the USB ports are working. Which rather puts a kybosh on the thing. Keyboard and mouse out of action. So everything inaccessible. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Up and Down, Again and Again

Bank Holiday. So important to do something. Don't want to waste it. but then again the weather looks terrible. Especailly up north. Especially near Chester Zoo where we had suggested we might go for the day. And despite efforts the daughter still wants to go. Suggesting that rain may not be the best for walking around a zoo she responds that we have hoods. To show how desperate I got, please understand the levels I must have sunk to in order to suggest staying in Northampton and going to the cinema in order to see Hannah Montana. It can't get worse than that. And still the zoo was the prefered choice. So we got in the car and set off. As I watched the rain falling on the windscreen I felt a journey time of over 2 hours each way was not compatible with being rained on. And then a brain wave. A flash of inspiration. I suggested Drayton Manor. Goooaaaaaallllllll. Yes, that was a good idea. So we went there. And it was cold. Especially after the water flume ride which gets you extrememly wet. But it was a good day. 5 (or was it 6) times on the Waltzers was a bit much (as "J" won't go on fast rides this falls to me) but it did mean we did the vertical drop only once so was a blessing in some respects. And we went to the zoo section, which was better than I expected, I can recommend going to see two absolutely beautiful tigers. At one pont "A"s lips were so blue that I thought she would get hypothermia, but she wouldn't give in and we were there until kicking out time. And she went to sleep within minutes when we got home, exhausted but happy.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


So I joined the gym about three weeks ago. I am still going, and more than I expected. This is good. I am not convinced that it has helped the waistline yet, which is bad, but at least I am persevering. Interestingly though (for me if no-one else) it has helped the fitness. When I first started I was incredibly disappointed to find that I couldn't even manage 10 lengths of the pool. I used to be a good swimmer. I couldn't do much else but I could swim. So I was rather shocked by my inability to pull myself through the water. Since then I have not swum, I ahve spent the time in the gym. Today, for a few reasons, I ended up swimming. And I managed 40 lengths! I think that is an incredible improvement. And, to be honest, the main reason I stopped was because it was getting a bit monotonous.

One In The Back

If anyone can explain to me how the term "lamentable failure" is not to be seen as a criticism then I was be very grateful. You'd have to think that Hazel Blears 100% support for the Prime Minister is of the same calibre that he has often given people before they find a knife in their back.

And this comes only a few days after Peter Mandelson commented on his relationship with Blair, and arguments with Brown, irrepairably damaging his political career. I don't know if Mandelson has looked around recently but, for the record, Brown gave him a job.

With friends like these, who needs Conservatives!

Saturday, May 02, 2009


It doesn't take long. In completely bad taste but great fun, try to stop the spread of swine flu.