Thursday, December 30, 2004

Coffee and Airports

One Monday a couple of years ago I was in France with Helene and I was due to leave on flight FR514 Dinard to Stanstead. We'd been up since 03:30am to do the rounds delivering newspapers "Ouest France" all around the Rosporden countryside. As usual Helene was driving me to the airport, it was a two and a half hour drive from South Brittany to Dinard in North Brittany. We'd had breakfast and we sat chatting with Martine, I kept looking at my watch. Helene was cutting it a bit fine if I was going to make the flight on time.
"Do you think we should be going now?" I asked her.
"No I need a cup of coffee first." Helene at the time was very thin and addicted to caffiene, she was wired. Martine didn't own a kettle so a pan of water had to be boiled, I knew that if Helene needed a cup of coffee it was best to let her get on with it. So I sat there wringing my hands, looking at my watch and sweating. She sat there sipping her coffee and chatting as if she hadn't a care in the world. I'm thinking "drink girl! drink!"
Eventually she put her mug down and stood up, looked at me and said "Well are you ready now?" as if she'd been waiting for me.
We got in the car, a little white Citreon AX, not the fastest vehicle on the road and drove off. We now had to do the two and a half hour drive in two and a quarter hours. She put her foot down.
At St Brieuc we sailed along the dual carriage until ahead we saw a pile up cars strewn all over the road, there was a small gap between the wreckage and the kerb. Les flic (police) were starting to put barricades up across the road "Don't stop." I said.
"But they are waving at us."
"We can't stop, keep going."
Helene slipped into the inside lane and undertook a few cars which were slowing down before the barricade. The police waved at us some more but we kept on going, not very fast, but determinedly. We just squeezed through and through the back windscreen we saw the road completely closed behind us. I breathed a sigh of relief. Helene was shaking.
"I need a coffee. " she announced.
"For the love of God not now, surely."
"I'll be quick, there's a MacDo's just here."
We stopped and I look at my watch for the hundredth time. "Shit Shit shit." She walks in. I'm sitting in the car still. "Don't do this to me please."
Helene smiled at me as she came out of MacDonalds. Her coffee in a paper cup.
"Well drink it while you're walking, why don't you?" I'm thinking.
She get's in the car. "it's not good coffee, but it's coffee." she takes off the lid and has a sip "it's 'ot." she says. "You 'old it for me." and she puts the car in gear and starts driving again. On the straight road she says "Coffee." I hand her the cup she has a drink and hands it back. A minute later "Coffee" she smiles at me all the time. I can't help but love her to death. Even though this obsession for coffee is going to make me miss my flight. As we get closer and closer to Dinard I'm looking at my watch more and more, I'm ticking off the minutes, we are already past the checking in time and we're still miles away. I see familiar landmarks slip by and then we get stuck behind a tractor with huge wheels and a trailer. It's doing thirty. we are four cars back and can't possibly over take the lot. I'm not even sure her Citreon AX had the acceleration to over take just the tractor and trailer, never mind four cars as well. None of them were keen to overtake and so this sedate procession carried on down the winding country lanes.
I am going crazy. Finally the tractor turns into a farm yard and the pace quickens again. We are way past checking in time we're almost at boarding time.
"it's OK." says Helene, "if you miss your flight we 'ave one extra day together. That will be nice."
"Well yes my angel, my Princess, my petite artichoke heart, I'd love that too but I have to get back to England TODAY!" I couldn't believe how relaxed she was over all this. I had meetings to go to, people to see, business deals to sort out.
Then I saw the control tower in the distance. Nearly there. She pulled into the car park. "I'll park while you............" I was gone, running with my bag to the check in.
"I'm sorry Sir the check in is closed."
"What? But I have no luggage. I need to get on this plane."
"You 'ave no luggage."
"No. Just this bag."
"It's too big."
"I can leave it."
"You can get on the plane if you leave your luggage."
"Not a problem." Helene came in. "You have to keep my stuff for me."
A man came running in behind me.
"I need to get on this plane." he said. he was a big fat man sweating from his bald head.
"Sorry Sir. The check in is closed."
"But I need to get to England today."
I turned to him. "Ditch the bags. And you can board."
"Are you mad?"
"No I've had to."
"That's not possible."
"Then you wont fly." meanwhile the guy at the check out gave me my boarding pass and for the first time in three hours I relaxed.
"But I need to be in England today."
"Then ditch the bloody luggage."
"I can't."
"Sod you then." I walked off leaving the guy to argue with the check in staff. He never got on the plane.
With boarding pass in my hand I turned to Helene.
She said "See I got you 'ere in time." How can you be angry with someone you love so much? "I will look after your stuff. I will wash your clothes so they are ready for when you come back." And she did. She later told me that she loved washing my clothes and ironing them and folding them up. She felt nice doing it. When I wasn't in France with her, she had my clothes instead. Hardly a great substitute. From then on I took to leaving more and more clothes in France. There's still clothes there to this day waiting for me, my walking boots, my barbour jacket, jeans, shirts, pullovers etc There's even my shortie neoprene wet suit for swimming in the sea when it's cold. They wait there for my return. I don't know when that will be. I have given up asking Helene during our weekly phone calls. She just says "one day".
It's been just over two years now since I was last with her. It's not so bad now. I have a life, I have great fun doing what I do. I have my friends Del and Tony and Simon and Smashy. Not to mention loads of others. They keep me going they make my life worthwhile. But I miss Helene a lot.
I may have told you this before but she is not the most beautiful girl in the world. She is poor. She comes from a poor background. But to me she is everything. She has dignity. She is a Princess in paupers clothes.
People used to ask me how I felt when she talked to me in her French accent. All I could say was "It does it for me."
I don't know whether I'll ever see her again. Honestly I don't know. I don't mind waiting. I'm having a wonderful life here without her. I've been criticised for that, people tell me she's hanging me on a hook. But while I'm still having a great life who cares? I'm happy and that's the most important thing. If we could be together I'd be happier. But that's the future and who knows what the future will bring? I might meet someone else who is also a Princess. I have very high standards. I wont settle for second best. I'd rather be alone and happy by myself than settle for second best.

That's it. You've had your lot.

Rock on dudes

iPod now playing Do it all over again by Spiritualized

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I'm still alive

I survived Christmas. One of the strange things that I guess you can all relate to is that I made a point of deliberately slobbing out over Christmas. No cooking, no doing anything, just slobbing. As a result I spent most of the Christmas period asleep. The less I did, the more I needed to sleep, I was falling asleep at the drop of a hat. Normally my life is hectic non stop. I don't have time to think, I like it that way. But all this inactivity is dulling me. I'm going to have to step up a gear again. The Christmas eve gig went OK, we had people up and dancing and singing along. The man who can't be named did a stirling job on the mixing desk and doing the music between sets. The bad news is the Landlord of the pub we played at was found on the floor of the pub yesterday morning by the lady who services the fruit machines. He'd had a stroke. He's in hospital now. Can't talk, can't use his left arm. Tonight was my music club. It was a lot of fun. All my friends turned up. Del Tony Paul Simon. I think I'm doing a good job hiding the winter depression. I've only got a few more weeks before I come out of this. I think on the outside the only difference people notice is that I'm quieter than I normally am. I must be the only person who has lost weight over Christmas. Well you know me I don't eat if I'm not hungry and as I've been a lazy sod I haven't burnt up the calories so I'm not hungry. For the last three days I've only eaten once a day. God this is getting boring. I'll stop now before I have to kill myself through lack of inspiration. I promise I'll be firing on all cylinders soon. Meanwhile I'm on autopilot.

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Schrodingers Cat

I have my head in a vice. I can't concentrate. Everything I do has a difficulty level far exceeding the reality of the task. Humourous banter with customers has disappeared. I feel like I'm in a black box with a letterbox slot to look out of. People come in bright and breezy wishing me Merry Christmas and I can barely talk enough to anwer them let alone return the greeting.
Sandra has just come in with a plate of mince pies for me and a card. She started singing "We wish you a merry Christmas."
I said "Sandra I may have to kill you if you don't shut up."
I've decided that Scrooge was a victim of Seasonal Affective Disorder, like me. BY the end of Christmas I think just about everyone I know will end up hating me, why not? I Hate myself right now. I've already been accused of being "a miserable shit" and told to "Pull yourself together".
Well it's not that easy as anyone who suffers from depression will tell you. I'd like to pull myself together, really I would, I'd love to be able to give myself a good slapping and get up on my feet laughing and joking. But I don't have the mental energy to do that.
I could start taking anti depressants but as they take three or four weeks to kick in it's pointless, by then I'll be my old self anyway.
So apologies to all those dropping by expecting to read something funny. This is as funny as it gets until January when the days get lighter.
Oh yeah and I have a gig Christmas Eve. I 'll be doing that one on autopilot.
Del has decided to call us "Dilingers Cat", well he hasn't made a unilateral decision, he's thrown it into the arena for discussion. I think I might throw in "Schrodingers Cat" for good measure, if it's still alive.

Michael

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Monday, December 20, 2004

It's that time of year again

Look I'm not normally like this. I just don't get on with winter and dark days too well. I will get better I always do. I promise. I don't need to see a shrink I don't need to see a doctor. I just need some sunlight. It's called SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

When I'm like this I can get really claustrophobic. Not as in confined spaces but with crowds of people. I can't cope with too many people.
Roadie and I went shopping Saturday night, it was busy. Very busy. I was going crazy. People in my way at every turn. They wont get out of my way they just stand there really stupid. I want something off a shelf and some idiot is standing there for ten minutes reading the fucking labels. I feel like shouting at them to fuck off out my way. So the stress levels rise. I just want to get out. Roadie keeps saying we need to buy one more present it's the last one. But I need to get out of the store. I want to run. To get outside in the middle of the carpark where I've got space to breathe.
Any thoughts of buying presents goes out the window I don't care if there's only one present left to buy, the panic levels are rising and I don't care if who ever it is doesn't get a present, not this minute I don't care if it's Tiny Tim himself. I start to get dizzy and the shop begins to spin around. I can't hear what Roadie is saying any more, I can see her mouth move and I can hear noise, but it doesn't make sense. My brain has stopped processing the information. I Hold onto something to stop myself swaying. From the outside I must seem normal because Roadie is still going on about this last present. It's as much as I can do to hold on long enough to get through the check out. I can hear her telling me not to be stupid it'll only take a few more minutes. But that in my condition is a lifetime. I can feel myself getting angry. But I'm trying to stay calm. I'm biting my tongue. Inside I am seething, I am so desperate to get out the shop, I'm getting angry with anyone and anything that is slowing my exit. Roadie grabs my arm and pulls me back to ask me whats wrong. It's too much and I let fly with such venom she's stunned and lets go my arm. I'm immediately ashamed of myself. But I have to get out. Even the automatic sliding doors don't open fast enough.
Out in the car park the cold air hits me, actually it's freezing, but it feels good. I can see the sky, I can feel the wind on my face. I'm only ten yards from the sliding doors and already I'm feeling better. MY heart slows down to a reasonable beat. My eyesight and my hearing come back to me. Everything is normal. Now I have to apologise for being aweful to Roadie, because she is upset with me. And despite feeling much better I also feel terrible for being so nasty. "It's not me, it's not the real me. This is not how I am. I'm not nasty usually."
But she doesn't understand what has just happened. She just thinks I'm a fucking shit, especially as she didn't HAVE to help me with christmas shopping and that's how she gets thanked."
I try and explain, but it just makes me sound like a fucking lunatic,I give up thinking it's better to be thought of as a shit than as a madman. But even that's not a great idea. I just give up.
Later when I'm fully calm I explain again, she listens and says she understands, WE'RE FRIENDS AGAIN.

Going by previous years I have about four more weeks until I start to pull out of this. Mostly people don't notice much difference except I'm quieter than usual, more introvert. What happened in the shop isn't the norm, it's quite rare actually. But even still it does happen sometimes.
So you needn't suggest miracle cures or give helpful hints, I've heard them all. Just know in four weeks time I'll be super smashing and marvellous again. It's something to look forward to. That cheers me up no end knowing that in four weeks the depression will melt away. In the meantime there's fuck all I can do about it. Hibernation might work.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

The Phantom of the Opera

I went to the cinema tonight. I took my children to see "Phantom of the Opera". It as aweful. I spent two hours praying to god that it would finish. My children, Gemma and Jamie, thought it was great. But me? I wanted to die. If someone had rushed into the cinema, with guns looking for hostages I would have pleaded with them to take me.
Now I accept that some people love this sort of stuff. But I just can't relate to it. Why do they have to keep on singing every single bleedin line?
Why can't they talk normally between the songs?
Gemmalah said to me "if you write this you'll get loads of hate mail."
"Who from?" I asked.
"Me and Jamie"
"OK then I'll write about how crap it is then you can send me hate mail."
So be prepared for my own beloved children to comment, if they dare.
Most people get hate mail from sad losers who have nothing better to do but I'm hoping for hate mail from my children. Don't worry I'll still love them.
So what do I hate about this film? Well it's boring. Boring boring boring. There is one tune that stands out, that's really good, the rest is just an excuse for music. It's nothing. It's just words that are sung to a pointless tune. Words that are better left spoken. Why couldn't they catch the Phantom? Oh yeah of course why didn't I think of that? It's musical and so the phantom can't be caught it would spoil the story. He's only lived in the theatre for twenty years. He has his own box in the Gods. Why don't they take him out while he's in his box? So he's demanding 20,000 francs every so often to allow the show to go on. It doesn't make sense. IN the real world he'd have been shot straight away. Or at least captured and taken away. There was too much use of dry ice. All that mist and fake snow. There was a scene where the Phantom led Christine down a corridor where candelabras were held by loads of people. Who were they? What were they doing there? Who was paying them to hold the lights? What happened to them at the end of the film? It's all bollocks. Where does he find the money to pay all these people to stand there all the time just holding lights? And if he did have the money why bother? What happened to his secrecy?
And where did he learn to sword fight? If Miranda Richardson was the only person who saw him how the hell did she teach him to sword fight against a professional soldier?
It was at this point I started banging my head on the seat in front of me.
After the film Gemma and Jamie both declared it was the best film but Gemma thought there was something missing. She couldn't put her finger on what it was. So I suggested that it what was missing was Arnold Swarzzenegger or Sylvester Stallone or Vin Diesel. And maybe a raid by special forces. Where was James Bond when you needed him? Maybe an alien presence was called for. Ripping flesh and devouring the lesser actors one by one. I'm sorry but I can't do this. Musicals are not my bag. I don't care how you dress them up. They leave me cold. (Except for perhaps "The Rocky horror show") So now I await the wrath of my children. What words will they come up with? What independant hate mail will I get for hating this film? They predict that the wrath of God will descend on me.

So Come on kids give it your best. May I crash and burn for the heresy in your eyes. I challenge you to put me straight. I may be your father but you have your opinions. Fight back God damn it. The film was crap. A waste of millions of pounds. The rest of you can put your four penneth worth in too.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

The perils of Washing up

Went to Dels last night for a rehearsal we're playing Christmas Eve. But just as we were thinking of starting Del got a phone call from his mother. That was going to keep him tied up for an hour at least so I dived into the kitchen. I thought I'd just do him a favour by doing the dishes. Diane was working last night and Del was stuck on the phone. So I rolled up my sleeves I set to washing the cups and plates and dishes etc.

Feeling pleased with myself I turned round to find Del standing in the doorway with a gun. He'd finished on the phone.
"Step away from the sink Mike."
Shit! was it loaded? God I didn't realise talking to his mother would make him this crazy.
"Put down the T-towel, and step away from the sink." He was firm in his tone. The gun levelled at my chest. "Step away, now!"
I looked for a sign that he might be joking. But his hand didn't waver, the gun still pointing at my chest, his eyes fixed in an angry glare.
"I'm just doing a bit of washing up." I pleaded. "What's so bad about that?"
"It's not going to happen."
"Can I just....."
His arm went up a little, I was looking down the barrel. Del was not joking. He wriggled his trigger finger to be ready to shoot.
"OK Del you win. I'm putting the T-towel down."
"Nice and slowly, don't try anything."
With finger tips I placed the T-towel on the worktop.
"Now step away.... See how easy it is? ... Yes just keep on walking toward me and out that door... into my office...no sudden movements or you get it... now sit." I sat. "Now stop fucking about with the washing up and have a beer." he put down the gun, tapped it and grinning said "It wasn't loaded."
"Bastard!"
I hate water pistols.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Insulting our intelligence

So I'm minding my own business ticking off the minutes until I can lock up when in walks Mr Joe Public Senior. He's carrying a vacuum cleaner on behalf of his 18 year old daughter Tracy, who can't bring it herself because she's stuck at home with six kids and doesn't drive.
Anyway despite the fact that the vacuum cleaner is out of guarantee they've managed to persuade Electrolux to authorise a repair on condition that the machine hasn't been tampered with, Abused, or otherwise neglected.
The vacuum cleaner is covered in filth and it's well used.
"It gets hot and cuts out." says Mr Public Senior.
"Yes that's because the filters are blocked." I say.
"My daughter religiously cleans them filters every time she uses the machine." he lied. Maybe he doesn't lie. Maybe he believes his lying, cheating cow of a daughter when she said to him "Yes tell the man I cleaned the filters every time I used it."
Now normally I don't give a toss because I'm gonna get paid for sorting it out and if I tell the customer it's there own fault then 1. I don't get paid. 2. The customer gets really pissed off. and 3. it's too much hassle to argue with the customer.
But when they blatantly insult your intelligence. Those filters have never seen the light of day. I get really pissed off. It takes nerves of steel to bite your tongue and say nothing because we'd rather be paid than end up having an argument for nothing.

The customer is always right. Not in my shop they aren't unless they're giving me money.

I could send this to Lydia as one of her daily pet peeves. or she might see it and lift it for her site.

I'm working so no iPod right now

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The bonus track

Mick in the UK E-mailed me to say I should post this. It's a bonus track I sent to him and Paul a bit of background to the previous story. He says you guys will be interested to read it. So don't blame me. I tend to write to people who comment and give them the background. But Mick said I ought to share this one. So read on................

You know what I loved being a diver? It's that I was surrounded by people who wanted to push the envelope. Go that extra mile. I can't do it anymore for two reasons. 1. My little brother died in a diving incident, he was trying to save his best friends life. AND 2. I have kidney disease and the weight of the kit kills me. It's bloody heavy.

But I don't regret one minute of my diving experience. It was great. The people I dived with were 100% up for it. They wanted that edge, That moment of living on the edge of danger. I wanted it too. It's not like joining a Sunday league football club or joining the crib team at your local pub. It's more than that. We were putting our lives on the line every week. Things could go wrong and they did. But our training (strict training) got us out of the difficulties. I loved those guys (and girls). You are taught not to panic. Panic is the route to disaster. You have to give yourself time to think things through even when it seems all is lost. Because it would be definitely if you panicked. It's a sort of discipline that you can use in your everyday life. Don't panic! There is always an escape route.

We were also taught to trust your buddies. It's difficult at first but when disaster strikes you have only yourself and your buddy to rely on. That's when you find another level in friendship. When someone saves your life. Because you've made a mistake. When you've saved someone else because they've made a mistake. I don't think I've been closer to anyone than the guys I've risked my life with. I knew I could rely on them and they on me. None of us panicked. It's a dangerous game diving. If you obey the rules it's safe. But as my story told, sometimes things can go wrong. I was careless. Unforgivably careless. Yes I was lucky. But then I had the confidence in my buddy to not panic because he was right next to me until ten metres from the surface when we seperated. I had the option of buddy breathing. He let me go up and he stayed for the decompression stop. It was pointless us both getting bent. Ten metres to the surface was less than a minute.

I had a choice try to stay down and decompress. Or just go for it. I chose to go for it. Really it wasn't a choice at all. I had almost no air left, even in the emergency tank. It makes you realise how good life is. To be on the edge. It's great. Absolutely mad but great.

Get that with the Sunday league team. I don't think so.

iPod now playing - I don't want to go to Chelsea by Elvis Costello

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Great British workman

We have a team of roofing experts putting a new roof on our shop next door. They're very efficient. They know exactly what they're doing. Professionals.
Well I thought so until they set fire to the roof. They were/ are using calor gas flame throwers to melt the bitumen felt so it's sticks.
One of them put down flame thrower on bitumen felt in order to have 1. a roll up and 2. A chat with his mate.
I saw flames leaping up, heavily assisted by the flame thrower still turned on.
I waved at man on roof. "Hello!"
I waved some more "Hello Excuse me"
He's still rolling his fag. Three foot behind him the roof is on fire.
"Hello!" I'm shouting.
"THE FUCKING ROOFS ON FIRE! FOR CHRISSAKES!" that did it.
He put out the fire and stuck a patch over the hole burnt into the roof. "No problem mate you'll never notice."

Oh and while we're mentioning it. They melted our plastic guttering with their flame thrower. I've a mind to sell what's left to the Tate Gallery as a sort of Salvidor Dali type exhibit. Drooping gutter.

I can't wait to see one of them try to light a roll up using the flame thrower. At the very least it would save them having to buy one of those Remington nasal hair clippers. Actually I read ina magazine once at the Hairdressers about this new technique of haircutting using a blow torch. The hair is burnt off. Or Singed. Takes skill and training not to end up with a kojak.I can't see the attraction though, the smell of burning hair (and maybe flesh) is hardly the pheremone type smell of choice.

Look will you lot stop distracting me I've got work to do.

I'm at work so no iPod.......... sorry

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Gemmalah

This morning after I wrote the latest post my ex-wife phoned me. MY Gemmalah was really ill. She needed to go to hospital fast. She'd been vomiting all night and was in a real state.
Go back a week. She got ill at university and went to the doctor complaining of a stomach ache. Get this. The Doctor said "Well if you take class A drugs what do you expect?"
My Gemmalah wouldn't know a Class A drug if it was labelled and put in front of her.
So the next day she went to see another Doctor. He said "You need to drink more water."
So she went back to her room at university and started drinking lot's of water. She got more ill. By Friday she was very ill. She went a third time and the third Doctor told her she had a kidney infection. He gave her a prescription.
By the time she got back to her room she was so ill she couldn't make it to the chemist.
Sunday I went to collect her as planned from university.She looked rough but didn't say much about it. I didn't think anything of it and took her home. Perhaps I should have but she wasn't complaining to much.
This morning my ex phoned me at 6:45am she'd been up with Gemmalah all night. She'd been vomiting continuously.
So bleary eyed and tired I rushed over in my car to rescue my baby.We took her to hospital. She was seen in less than five minutes.Which must be a record. They pumped her full of antibiotics and said that was all they could do and sent her home.

The funny thing was when I went to get her to take her to hospital she said "I need my foxy" Now Foxy is a soft toy, a stuffed fox. She was like a six year old with her favourite toy. I didn't laugh. She staggered to my car clutching "Foxy". She walked into the Doctors surgery clutching "Foxy". Gemmalah is nineteen years old. But for that moment she was my baby again. Two weeks ago she had mumps. She was very ill with that too.

She is a lovely girl. You would love her if you met her. She is very special.
She's nineteen but she's still my little baby.

You know when she was little I would play guitar and I trained her to clap whenever I finished playing a song. She would be sitting in her bouncy chair at my feet and I'd been playing guitar. One foot on her chair to bounce her. When I finished playing I trained her to clap and say "Yeah!". She was so small.

Do you know to this day she still makes the same sounds and she's nineteen years old. She still claps and waves her arms. It's so cute. She was my baby and she still is. The difference is she is 19 years 0lder. We have progressed from being Father and Daughter. Now we are best friends. More importantly we are equals. She can now teach me stuff. It used to be I was the teacher and she was the pupil. But now its different. And I love it. She is teaching me.

I forgot to switch on the iPod so nothing is playing

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Zen and the Art of breathing

Still major probs with old PC so here's a story for you.

Years ago when I was SCUBA diving we all went to the Farne Islands. I drove up with Stevey in his van. We stopped off at a Granada Service station on the A1. Had a coffee, as you do. Except I don’t. I’m incredibly sensitive to caffeine. I guess it started when I was at university and I drank loads of coffee. Hot strong and black,gallons of the stuff. All freshly brewed in my steel coffee percolator of the sort that you can’t buy now. I was OK during the one hour lectures but after two hours I’d be shaking like a leaf and I’d have to get my fix of caffeine.
Skip forward 15 years and I’m still drinking coffee but I’m getting headaches. My wife (at the time) said “That’s the caffeine in the coffee doing that.”
“Bollocks.” Was my succinct, well thought out reply. “I’ve been drinking coffee all my life.”
But something in what she said nagged me and without telling anyone I stopped drinking coffee for a week. Well whoopidy doo dah, the headaches went away. Not wanting my wife to be right I told myself it was a coincidence. So after a week I had a coffee for the first time.
POW! Right between the eyes, the mother of all headaches. I had to sleep for three hours. OK she was right. No coffee for me from now on. I went on to tea. Just as bad.
Next thing I had to cut out was Coca Cola. Then disaster upon disaster, chocolate.
Now this was nature taking the piss big time. I love chocolate.
Skip forward another ten years. I’ve been clean all this time. I haven’t done the drug at all. We’re at the Granada service station. Steves having a coffee and I said I’d have one too. Surely after ten years I still can’t be sensitive. One cup wouldn’t hurt.
I had a cup of coffee. It was by service station standards, pretty good. We started walking back to the van. I was feeling a little dizzy. Then a slight headache. Then confused. I started stuttering. By the time we were a mile up the road I could hardly speak at all. By the time we reached Sea Houses I was out of it.
Everyone was already there and Steve put up our tent and inflated the air mattresses. I just collapsed onto the bed and went into a deep sleep. I woke up hours later. Feeling like shit. It was dark. I got up and looked about. The camp site was deserted. They’d all buggered off and left me. Still a little unsteady on my feet I took a walk. Found someone walking their dog.
“Where’s the nearest pub?” I asked.
“That’ll be the lights over there.” He said.
I walked to the pub and found the guys.
“Christ Mike.You look like shit.”
“Yeah I feel it. Mines a pint.”

The next day I felt great again and we went to do some diving. If I could be arsed to look up my old diving logs I could tell you which wreck we were diving that day. But I can’t. I can tell you it was 33metres down. We dived down in pairs and swam around the wreck. The water was quite clear. The wreck was broken up but the old boiler was still visible and if you sifted through the sand you could pick up old crockery and tin soldiers and rather oddly, old reels of cinema film. It was while I was sifting that my buddy Richard tapped me on the shoulder. He showed me his air gauge, it was down to 25%. So I grabbed mine and had a look. Zero.
Nah! That’s not possible. I tapped it. Yep Zero. But I was still breathing. Must be a fault. Suddenly the zero meant zero. Then was nothing left. That’s the thing with an air tank under water you don’t get any warning, apart from your gauge. The air supply just stops. You can suck all you like but after that last normal lungful, there’s nothing. Nada. Zip.
OK so here’s the situation. I was 33 metres below the surface, that’s over a hundred foot down. My main tank had gone empty. I had half a lung full of air. I can live on that for a minute maybe two. It takes about five minutes to get to the surface without bursting your lungs or doing some other nasty damage to your body. Luckily I had a two litre pony, a small spare emergency air tank, that’s not many breathes in that either. What to do?
Head for the surface pretty damned quick. I was supposed to stop at ten metres and again at five for a minute at each stop to equalise the nitrogen absorbed into my body tissue. That was no longer an option. Straight to the surface.
I bobbed up at the top. The boat was just a few yards away. I was dragged out the water. NO air left in either tank. Hmmm nice fresh sea air. Nothing like it. Good for the body good for the soul. Except Rob decided I needed more than just air. I needed oxygen. He strapped a mask on me.
“Keep breathing.” He said.
Yep that works for me, I thought. The idea is that breathing pure oxygen minimises the possibility of getting bent. And I don’t mean turning into a homosexual. It means getting the bends or as they call it now decompression illness. Bubbles of nitrogen that form in the tissues of your body. Imagine opening a bottle of fizzy drink. It all froths up. But if you crack it open let off a little gas then screw it down again quick and keep doing that, you can eventually open the bottle with no bubbles forming. This is exactly what happens in your body if you come up too quick. The nitrogen bubbles up. It can be very dangerous. And painful. I was on oxygen for twenty minutes. For the rest of the day Rob stuck to me like glue. Every ten minutes asking me how I felt, was I dizzy, was I this, was I that, how many fingers could I see.
After a while it got a bit wearing. But he was doing the right thing. It’s been known for someone to get ill up to twenty four hours after a rapid ascent from depth.
But I didn’t. I was lucky I guess.

iPod now playing – Mama we’re all crazy now by Slade

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Some Questions Answered

Thak s for asking the questions you guys so I'm going to try and answer them. In order of importance.
How drunk do you have to be to sleep through a fire and a crashing tree?
Well I would say pretty much horizontal which isn't very hard when you're drinking the old "Ron agricole". It's like paint stripper. You can not possibly drink it neat. In a mortar and pestle we ground up mint leaves from the garden with brown sugar, martine added her secret ingredient which I suspect was some sort of fruit cordial then the rum. I am loathe to really call it rum. because it's nothing like any rum you've ever tried. You could use it for drag racing. O-60 in a fleas cough.

But I digress trying to avoid the real questions. How and when did I move in with Caherine? I never actually moved to France completely. I have my own business to run. For ages I would go to France to visit her without her husbands knowledge and I'd stay in Hotels. After a while it proved to be awkward. A little limiting. At the same time Catherine was feeling guilty about hiding me from her husband. At this stage they were already sleeping in seperate beds. I'd arranged to go and see her and our usual 'otel was fully booked so in desperation she called on another 'otel. It was shut for the weekend. She told the manager we were desperate for a room. he said "OK I'll leave you the keys to the Hotel we're going away for the weekend. Pick any room you want."
I couldn't believe it when Catherine told me. But we drove to the new hotel and sure enough under a flower pot were the keys to the Hotel. We went in. It was very dark only the emergency lighting was on. We had a bit of fun wandering around looking for a room, after all we had the choice of the whole hotel. We chose the penthouse suite. Obviously. The one with the big bath with gold taps and the biggest bed.
It was before this visit that Catherine told her husband about me. So he knew I was coming to France to see her regularly, every month.
Catherine had to go to work and sort out her kids so I stayed in the Hotel. She came back "André wants to meet you."
"WHAT?"
"He wants to meet you."
"You have got to be joking."
"No I don't make the joke. He wants to take us to dinner."
"OH shit!"
Only the previous week he had been threatening to kill me. He was going to go to prison, he didn't mind as long as I was dead. So I was understandably a little nervous and apprehensive about this meeting. What was he planning? Did he want to get me to the house see me in person and then take out a big knife and stab me to death. After reading about his rantings in Catherines letters it was a possibility.
"No he just wants to meet you. He wants to know what you're like."
"Shit Shit Shit!"
Catherine seemed quite calm about it, so I quickly calmed down myself. I agreed. After all I didn't want to be seen as scared. I'm English we're scared of nothing. So I'm told.
At the appointed hour we drove to the house. The children were all at school it was midday. I took a deep breath and marched with Catherine to the front door. She opened it and standing in the hallway was André.
"This is it." I thought to myself.
André just held out his hand "Bonjour." he said.
I shook his hand it was all very civilised but very uncomfortable.
Catherine and her husband talked briefly about where we were going to go for dinner, they quickly agreed on a place, it wasn't far. Thank God!
The restaurant was a cross between a proper restaurant and an up market transport café. We sat down at a table Catherine and me on one side of the table and André the other.
He said "You look good together, very natural."
Why was he being so nice?
We ate dinner with forced conversation. I had a couple of lagers and it got easier, until in the end we were laughing and joking.
We drove back to the marital home and went in. André turned to me and said "I 'ave a present for you."
"Vraiment?" I said surprised.
He turned round and picked up a book and handed it to me. It was Ernest Hemingways "Paradis Perdu" Paradise Lost. I don't know to this day if he meant it as a subtle message. I've never had the occassion to ask him. But he is a clever guy so maybe it was a subliminal message.
So the meeting was over handshakes all around and we went back to the Hotel.
Now I mentioned before that catherine worked for an Artist, Martine Cotten. She lived on a farm in a converted barn. She had a spare flat that wasn't being used. IN conversation she said to Catherine that perhaps we might want to rent it for when I was in France. It would be cheaper than using Hotels.
So from then on whenever I was in France, Catherine and I stayed at this flat. It was wonderful. Martine wasn't always there and she never locked her doors even when she went abroad to work. We had the run of her house and the flat. We all became best friends.
Previously Catherines relationship with Martine was just as employer and employee but after we took on the flat we all became friends. Very good friends. Over the five days each month I was in France we'd take it in turns to cook the evening meal, either Martine would cook, or Roman her son would cook or catherine and I would cook. But we all sat down together and ate.
ON saturday when Catherine was working, I'd have dinner with Martines Mother and the farm labourers. Her Mother would always pour me out an aperatif, usually a very stiff whiskey. Followed by the obligatory red wine with dinner. Dinner consisted of home grown vegetables and plenty of meat. Followed by bread and cheese and more wine. I don't know how the farm labourers carried on working after dinner. I had to go and sleep.

To put you in the picture I went to France every month for five days. I left England on Thursday morning and flew out from Stansted to Dinard. I came back Monday afternoon. I did this for two years. So in fact I never lived with her permanently. I wished I could.

It was about that timne the Child Support Agency was on everybodied case. I had come to an amicable agreement with Vikki for child support. Shge was happy with it and so was I it seemed fair. But then the CSA poked it's nose in. They were threatening to take me for every penny I had. It was at that time when every week there was another story in the press of some poor sod committing suicide because the CSA had destroyed his life. You see they take more than half your wages from you and they give your ex spouse the minimum. So for instance they might have taken £200 from me but only given Vikki £60, because she was claiming benefits. So Vikki would have been worse off and I would have been devastated financially. I went off the radar. I became a non person. I still lived and worked in Peterborough, but I wasn't on the electoral role. I was "of no fixed abode" so they couldn't find me. I can't vote. I suppose that's the only thing that's affetced me since I went off the radar.

If they had caught me I would have said "Sod it! I'm going to France and take my chances." But while I had a moderately successful business here with a guaranteed income, it was better for me for my ex-wife for my children to stay. I also had pressure from my family. I run the family business. Without me it's nothing. My brother, my niece and my parents rely on me for their income. It's a terrible thing to be torn between loyalty to your own family and your love for the girl of your life. Who happens to be French and living in France. INitially we thought that Catherine would move to England with her chidren and live with me here. But her husband vetoed that one. He would not let the children leave the country. He had that power. We tried to argue that Catherine could legally move to Marseilles and be twice as far from him than if she was living in England. But that didn't sway him. We promised him visiting rights and holiday time for his children but still he would not be moved. He was stubborn with capital letters. He threatened to take custody of the children. Catherine was crying when she phoned me about it. I told her to see an advocate a solicitor. The solicitor told her she hadn't a leg to stand on, she would lose the children. You see France is a predominatley a catholic country. The family is all important. Affairs are very very common in France. They are famous for it. But the family is all important. So the thinking behind it is, that if Catherine left the family home for me, she was the unstable partner. Andre the husband who was always there was considered in French law the stable partner. So the likely hood was that he would get custody of the children. Catherine could not take that chance of losing her children. I was savvy enough to know that although Catherine loved me to death her children were more important than I was. I knew that and I accepted that.

So after two years together she reluctantly went back to her husband and "dumped" me. It wasn't nice. It wasn't nice for either of us. But I knew her children were more important than I was. So now they live together. In seperate beds in seperate rooms, She works nights while he works days so she doesn't have to see him that much. But she still has her children. They eat at seperate times. She says she 's not hungry deliberately so she doesn't have to sit down and eat with him.

He is still telling her that one day she will learn to love him again. But it isn't going to happen. They are poles apart in interests and attitude. He is basically antisocial and very wary of people. She, like me, loves to have friends and go to dinner parties and hold dinner parties. She can't have friends. Since I last saw her two years ago she hasn't been out.She hasn't been to a dinner party. She has no friends because he wont allow it. All she does is work and exist.

We speak every week on the phone, sometimes twice a week. The last time I spoke to her which was last Tuesday, I asked her "Is there any point me waiting for you?"
She said "Yes of course. You are mine and I am yours."
I don't mind waiting. Especially as I'm having a great time being single. People tell me I should settle down. Find someone who is available, not someone who isn't. Stop wasting my life. But I would go to my grave waiting for this girl. She is so special.

I know there are those amongst you who are in marriages of convenience. It might have started out as being the love story of all time, but now it's just a drudge. Well now I am 46 I am not prepared to settle for second best.
If I can't have what I want then I don't want anything. I can have my shag buddies, but they will never have the true me.

So come on, keep them questions coming. I don't know how many I answered tonight. But I had a good stab. What else do you need to know?

iPod now playing Local boy in the photograph by The stereophonics

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Roman

One weekend in Autumn, Catherine and I were on the farm. Roman said he had to burn a load of rubbish. The farm was where we had our flat in a converted barn.Roman is the son of the artist who Catherine works for. Martine Cotten. He was in his late teens. She is a famous artist. Well in France she is famous. Maybe not here. In fact not at all here.

So being the pyromaniac I am, I love a good fire, I agreed to help Roman to buld the fire. We spent all day dragging out old wood and furniture, loading it on a wheel barrow and taking it to the tip in their farm yard. There was loads to burn. The pile was already high when we started. But after a day of shifting all the rotten wood, it was very high.

That evening we lit the fire. Starting small. We gathered old newspapers, and crumpled them up and lit them. We got a blaze going. It was a tremendous bonfire. We couldn't stand less than fifteen feet in front of it without being burnt ouselves. Martine and Catherine came out with aperatifs. Rum cocktails. Martine would use "Ron agricole" for her cocktails. That is agricultural Rum. She'd go to the depot with a container and they'd fill it for her. It's a very cheap way of getting pissed. So armed with our "ron Agricole" cocktails we stood in the darkness watching the big bonfire. The flame reached out to the stars. We'd achieved our goal and al the rubbish was being burnt. We stood there at a distance and basked in the heat of the fire. Then we went to bed to let it burn out.

At about three in the morning I heard an enormous crash.But still full of "Ron agricole" I went back to sleep. Catherine in my arms just murmered a little she didn't wake. I wasn't about to get up and leave my Catherine alone in bed.

The next day we woke and went outside. A whole tree was missing. It had caught fire in the night and fallen into the flames. All that was left was a smouldering stump. We all stood round the embers. It was still damned hot. Where once was a vigourous tree was now no more than a stump. God! We had to laugh.

What do you want to know? Just ask the questions. Do me a favour. I'm havng difficulty writing about Catherine (although I want to). Maybe your questions will inspire me to finish the novel (on the right hand side). Ask anything and I will do my best to answer. There is so much to tell but I don't know where to start. So you guys can start me off by asking the questions.

I need help here. You know you can do it. Ask the question. It doesn't matter what. I will answer.

Rock on dudes

Fuck the iPod now playing because it isn't

But if it was it would be playing Five years by David Bowie

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

My Catherine

Today or tonight I'm going to introduce you to the love of my life. Her name is Catherine. If you read the novel that's on the right hand side of my blog, you'll find her referred to as Helene. We go way back. I have known her for over three quarters of my life. But we are still not together. It's a very complicated situation. But if you are patient I will explain over the next few weeks.
My Catherine isn't the most beautiful girl on the planet. I say that objectively. But to me she is irresistable. She has a beauty that is more than skin deep. It goes way down. Don't get me wrong she isn't ugly either. In fact she's rather cute. She's five foot six, very slim, short brown hair, (highlighted at the moment with deep red). What I mean is she isn't the classic cat walk model type. When she walks she glides like she's been to finishing school. She doesn't stomp around. She doesn't slouch. She holds her head up even though she's very poor. But with her poverty she has dignity. That's important to me. She has no money but she scrapes by. But she is not common. She is not a chav. She is a Princess in poor clothes. her parents were very poor. They were very common, but she has risen above that.
One day we were at her house and she showed me her wardrode for the first time. She said "don't hate me but I love to buy new clothes, I have all these." and she swung open the door. She had almost nothing. On the hangers she had about 15 different dresses. I couldn't believe that was all she had. My ex-wife had four wardrobes full of clothes and more piles four foot high in the bedroom. I just laughed. She said "Don't laugh at me, these are my clothes I love them, is it too much?"
I just had to hug her and kiss her. Of course it wasn't too much. They weren't designer clothes, but they were clothes I had grown to love. They were her clothes. I recognised each dress and and where we were when wore it.
She had more clothes than me. But she was so apologetic that she had squandered so much on clothes. It's a different world. I took it for granted that my wife would buy clothes. Catherine would think twice then three times, and then when she was sure she would buy them, but only when she knew she had enough money. And then only when she was sure it suited her and she was happy with it. I know girls who will buy something just to experiment. IN fact most of the English girls I know do that. They will buy something try it out, and it will then fester in the back of the wardrobe until time ends. Every single item Catherine had, was worn.

When I first met her she wore a brown woollen dress and a Hermes scarf. It was quite plain. I don't know but the French have a way with clothes. You see the girls in Paris wearing the obligatory Navy blue, boring sweater and dress,. But boy, do they have style? They wear it with applombe. It must be unique to the French. Girls in this country couldn't carry it off. I have never worked out why. It's almost like a uniforn. Typically French. Boring but stylish. Think of the stereotype and that's reality. You may think the French are at the cutting edge of fashion but the truth is they aren't any more. It's the English who are. Love it or loathe it. The only trouble is we are so radical in our fashion we have lost the sense of style the French have clinged to. They have become boring, the English have become Avant guarde. But Still the French girls knocks spots off the English. It's their deportment and the way they carry themselves. It's not just the clothes. It's their attitude.
I get criticised a lot for being a Francophile. But really we have a lot to learn from the French. They have an attitude. Sort of Laissez faire, a "Manana" thing. To us English everything has to be here and now. But to the French it can wait until tomorrow. Yes they have their protests.Like barricading the ports with burning carcusses of dead sheep. But if you want to know the truth I would rather be French than English. I would rather be laid back and live a simple life than be English and be chasing the dollar.
My Catherine has no yearning for money. We have have discussed this at length. She doesn't want a fast car, a big house, a swimming pool. She wants a simple life with just enough money to pay the bills. And to be honest that's what I want as well. I have no hankering for a yacht. Or a chateau. I am not interested in fast cars or material possessions. I just want my Catherine. I'll tell you more as time goes on. I could be making a fool of myself but my Catherine is all I want. I have a joke with my Mother. She asks me what I want for my birthday/ Christmas etc and I tell her "I only want what you can't give me." That's my Catherine.

I'll tell you more in future issues of this blog. God I hate the word "blog".
I hope to explain to you why our situation is so difficult and why I can't finish the novel. It's a love story. IT's a love story with ramifications. If only life was simple. You think you have things sorted, you don't know the half of it. Try falling in love with someone who is from a different country and speaks a different language. It's not easy. But then should true love be easy?

iPod now playing - Sorry I haven't even switched it on tonight.

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Being second best

You wouldn't believe it but I found Ross. Yes. The Ross of the stories. After twenty odd years. Amazing! How did I do it?
Well in an idle moment I just typed his name into google, and up he came. So I sent him an Email and got a reply. A short reply. A very short reply.
"You found me. How? My telephone number 01*** ***555."
I Might give him a call. But then maybe it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Saturday night we went to see Tony and his new band, Unlimited. My Roadie was not keen. In fact she was dead against it. In fact one hundred yards down the road she told me to go by myself. What?
"What are you going to do?"
"Pack my bags and go home."
"OH no you aren't going to try that feminine blackmail trick on me. If there's a problem we'll solve it, but I'm not going to stand for these mental games."
She suddenly changed tack. "I know you really want to see Tony. It's important to you. So I'll come with you."
"Are you sure? We can go somewhere else."
"No you are determined to see Tony."
"We don't have to if it's going to upset you."
"No. I'll go."
So we went.Tonys band was much better than I thought it would be considering they haven't rehearsed that much and it was their very first gig. We left after a while and came home. On the way back Roadie said "I don't know how you can do that."
"Do what?"
"Stay friends with Tony."
"I can't believe you have a problem. No one else has a problem with it. Least of all me."
"Well you should have a problem with it. A big problem."
"Well I don't, my life is too short to hold grudges."
"Well it's pathetic."
"Hang on, this sounds like you think I'm less of a man than I should be in your eyes."
"If you want."
We walked on in silence. I began thinking do I want to be with some one who thinks I'm pathetic because I wont hate some one, because I don't run around exacting dreadful revenge. Maybe I'll help her pack her bags even carry them to her car and say Hasta la Vista. Thanks for being so understanding. But the moment passed and we started talking again. But even so comments like that don't just go away.

You may remember that I had a friend M who was being stalked by a pub landlord, well the police got involved eventually and for one reason or another she dropped the charges. Then damn me if another of my friends J turned up at the music club with the same pub landlord. Now she is a good friend of mine, nothing has ever happened between us, we're just friends. Well she came to speak to me and tell me she had started working for him, very quietly I warned her about him, I told her to be very careful and think twice about getting involved with this guy. Just a friendly piece of advice. She went back to the pub landlord and he said "What were you two talking about?"
She told him. Fuck. I couldn't believe it. You try and help a friend out and they stab you in the back. Ever since the Pub landlord has been on my case. I've played in his pub a few times.
Last Tuesday J phoned me.
"Yes."
"You haven't called me in weeks."
"No. Are you surprised?"
"Have I upset you or something?"
"Apart from stabbing me in the back?"
She knew what I was upset about. "I just told him what you had said. He asked and I told him."
"After all I've done for you........."
"It was nothing."
"Right."
She hung up. She sounded close to tears, but I didn't give a shit.
Friday my brother went to the bank. he came back and said "I saw your friend J at the bank. She's left the pub she was working at something to do with the landlord harrassing her."
Well that's a big surprise.
Then Saturday the same pub landlord phoned me "About my supposed reputation......."
I need this like a hole in the head.
The lesson is don't get involved. If you find someone bleeding in the gutter walk on. If your best friend is hangin by a thread over the pit of oblivion leave em to it. Yeah as if...................

I suppose you're waiting for the bit where I give you a choice of stories to vote on. It aint gonna happen. My old PC where all the stories are kept is rapidly going toward landfill. The A drive is fucked, the CD writer is fucked, and now the monitor is fucked. SO I can't access the stories.

Meanwhile........... Cling Eastwood was on TV last night. I had a girlfriend who drooled over Clint Eastwood. She collected all his films on video and proclaimed him to be her ideal man. Another girl friend drooled over Steve McQueen. My Helene had this thing about a guy on TV who was probably the ugliest guy on film. Thickset, very gallic, dark hair, very gruff voice
overweight and probably had bad breath. She would tell me that he was lovely, a beautiful man, he did things for her.
Hang on wasn't it me who is supposed to be doing things for her? Aren't I supposed to be the love of her life? If so why is she drooling over this ape of a man who is so Neanderthal, he can't string more than two words together. If this guy is her perfect man what does that make me? Second best?
My ex-wife would go gooey over Bergerac (John Nettles) oh and Trevor Eve. OK I don't drive a vintage car and I don't get invited to evening soirées where someone gets murdered. I don't wear a poncho and say "Make my day punk." I am not all muscle, in fact I'm pretty thin and weedy. I'm not dark and mysterious, I'm fair (now grey) haired and what you see is what you get. I can't imagine myself being any girls fantasy object. So what's going on? I asked "Well if I can't have Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen you'll have to do. Oh yeah and you make great breakfast in bed on a Sunday morning."
So fuck you Clint Eastwood. I do a mean breakfast in bed. And where will you be John Nettles, when the bin needs emptying? Swanning around in your fucking vintage car. And that grunting French twat......... I bet he'd take all the covers.

iPod now playing - shine on you crazy diamond by Pink Floyd

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Living with guilt

Denise........ahhh! Denise was lovely. She didn't live with us at all but used to spend time round our gaff. She was petite with short bobbed brown hair. Very, very cute. I liked her a lot. In the pub she'd do this disco dancing finger thing, making her fingers dance in tune to the music. A bit like hand jiving but this was finger jiving. I can't think of a single bad thing about her, except she had a brother. Steve. He was older than Denise and thought he was Gods gift. He was forever boasting about this and that. He had a CB radio and his handle was King Rat, I suppose that says it all. He also owned a Toyota Celica. He fancied himself as a driver, not just a good driver but one of the best. Except when he had anything to boast about he didn't consider any of us worthy to be in his presence. Which was quite lucky because we all thought he was a complete arsehole anyway.
After a while his boasting got him into trouble, the exact details we'll never know, but he got in with the wrong crowd. his boasting about being a brilliant driver got him noticed, and he was roped in to be the getaway driver for a post office raid. Oh Gosh! What laughs then eh? He really didn't think it through, he didn't consider the implications of his actions, he was sucked in by his own bravado and found he couldn't back out without looking stupid. He went along. The guys he got in with were not your usual drug ridden theives they were professional hard men, they carried guns. Sawn off shot guns.
Well the post office was hit, and shots were fired. The post master was killed with the twelve bore. They made their getaway, Steve was driving. He got them out of there OK.
He got home. The shooting began to sink in and he realised he was in deep, way over his head. Someone had died and he had been part of it. It began to eat into him. It was supposed to be a laugh, it was a bit of fun, but he'd been playing with the big boys. He couldn't live with it.

Denise came to the house. She was in tears. She was shaking and crying inconsolably. Steve was dead. He'd taken the 9mm hand gun he'd had for the job, put it to his head and pulled the trigger. There was nothing we could do. The house was already cordonned off by the police with yellow "Police line -Do not cross" tape. Blue lights flashing, and armed police standing guard.

Through the window, we could just about see her father sitting in his armchair. His head in his hands. Plain clothes police standing near him.
That's where her father stayed for the next few months, he never moved from that chair, he lost the will to live. He went into himself, never speaking. A few months down the line Denises mum couldn't stand it anymore and she left taking Denise with her to Leeds, where I believe she is to this day.

iPod now playing - Baby I love you by The Ramones

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Living with a smelly git

Living in Australia house was Ross, Jacky, me and various other people the first being Brian, who left after nearly a year. Then came Martin. He was a funny guy, he made us all laugh, which is why we invited him to help pay the rent. The only problem was he had a personal hygiene problem. He never washed, showered or changed his clothes. he worked in the aerospace industry making stainless steel galleys for aircraft. It was hard physical graft and as he was on the plump side he sweated like a pig. I guess when he lived at home with his mother, she washed his clothes for him and put out clean ones everyday. But we didn't have the luxury of our mothers doing stuff for us, we had to do our own washing and drying etc.
I remember standing in the kitchen of our house in front of the washing machine stripping off completely and putting all my clothes in the washing machine so they'd be clean for the morning, then getting up early and putting them all in the tumble dryer and going to work wearing damp clothes that finished drying off through the morning. Uncomfortable at first but getting better.
Martin didn't do washing. We put up with it for a few weeks until Ross started commenting. At first Martin would laugh it off. But it was beyond a joke. He stank. He was rancid. It was getting embarrassing in the pub. It was intolerable at home. You couldn't walk past his bedroom door without noticing that acrid rank acidic smell. It was appalling.
We held a summit meeting. Ross, Me and Jacky. He would have to be given a warning. In not uncertain terms.
We called him upstairs to the sitting room. He climbed the stairs whistling, oblivious to the disaster awaiting him. We told him straight. We didn't pull any punches. He was disgusting, either he cleaned up his act or he was out. We would teach him how to use the washing machine, we'd show him how the shower worked. We'd even wait for him to get washed and changed before we went to the pub. But incredibly he couldn't see the problem. He was indignant that we would even suggest that he was dirty. We pointed out his jeans that he was wearing at the time were shiny with grime, he'd worn them for three weeks straight, working and playing. So then he got defensive and begged to be given a second chance. So because he was so entertaining in other ways we agreed that if he cleaned up he could stay.

Well he had a shower that night and miraculously found clean clothes. We thought he'd turned the corner. But within a week he was his usual disgusting self. We told him to leave. NO discussion, no debate, no third chance, he had to go. It was very quick. We'd already got a replacement fourth person to replace him. Andy.
The day he left he was pathetic. We sent him back to his mummy who would look after him. Tell him to wash behind his ears and attend to certain bodily hygiene regimes.We threw him out, we weren't proud of it, but it had to be done.
He left and we thought that was the end of it, but Andy was moving in very soon his room had to be cleaned ready.
Ros and I went in and opened the windows wide straight away. The room was disgusting, food wrappers everywhere, and then under the bed.... oh my God! Disgarded kleenex. Ross went straight to the kitchen and came back wearing yellow marigold gloves and carrying a black bin liner. He picked up each and every one of the crusty crumpled balls of kleenex. Every so often muttering the words "Filthy bastard!" An accumulation of several months of wanking over the porno magazines we also found under the bed.

We had to tell Andy to wait until the weekend to move in. We couldn't let him occupy the room 'til it had aired properly. He was cool with that.
That evening there was a knock at the door. It was Martins mother. She wanted to know what the hell we were doing kicking out her boy from our house. She didn't want him back either it was obvious. After half a day picking up after his mess. Ross wasn't in any mood to debate the matter so he told her straight. He told her exactly what her boy was like. I backed him up a little.I'm not very good at confrontation, so I let him do the talking.
She left defeated. We never saw Martin again.

Andy moved in. He was a biker. He worked at a garage specialising in sports bikes. He was very clean. he had a girl friend, Julie. She was very cute and very nice. Stupid but nice. I guess you could describe her as a chavette. But in them days they didn't exist. Andy was always immaculate when he wasn't working. He turned himself out very well. He was totally uneducated but at the same time quite clever.

But then we found out he was a psycho. At the beginning he would come with us to the pub. We'd laugh and joke as normal and he was definitely part of our team, he never let us down. He never embarrassed us. But every so often he would disappear on his souped up trails bike. We didn't know where he went or what he did when he went absent without leave.
Until the day we got up and he wasn't in the house. It was a Saturday morning and he phoned us from the hospital to pick him up. He'd been beaten up by squaddies, big time. His arm was broken.

Ross and I went to bring him home. Then we found out the horrible truth. We lived in Church Crookham not very far from Aldershot. Andy had this thing about squaddies.He hated them. Don't ask me why, he just did. So the evening when he disappeared he would ride around Aldershot on his bike and pick fights with the Army guys, he usually won.

This particular night he was riding round Aldershot looking for a fight when he saw a group of squaddies walking down the road. So he drove at them as fast as he could and with Julies spare helmet in his hand he jousted with them. He took out the first one, no problem. He spun round and went for a second run and took out another, the third run he should have come home, but he went at the group again. This time they were ready. They took him off his bike and beat him senseless. They left him in a ditch. He woke up hours later with a broken arm and in agony and was rushed to hospital.

You'd have thought he would have learnt a lesson. But no. While he recovered he told us it was the greatest rush ever and he couldn't wait to get back on his bike and do it again. There's always another squaddie to fight with. Julie was so proud of him. But then she was stupid. The last I heard of Andy was that Julie was in the club and they left, leaving just me Ross and Jacky again.

And then there was Denise. But that's another story. I'll tell you about Denise next time. Armed robbery and death. It's a tragic story. Really it's not funny. You can veto it if you want. After all we live in a democracy. But unless you vote "no" the next post will be about Denise and her psychotic brother.

iPod now playing - run time error (505)

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Living with that moment of terror

I was invited to stay with my Sister in Jamaica for a month. Ross and I were best buddies and so I asked him if he wanted to come with me, he agreed. He was a little upset because he suspected that things were not quite as it seemed with his girlfriend Jacky. He had suspicions that she was playing away from home, many a time in the pub he'd be confiding in me telling me what he'd do to who ever it was who was shagging his girlfriend. I'd be sitting there knowing everything and just nodding "Yes Ross. Firm but fair. Broken bones? Crippled for life? They'd be getting off lightly. " I knew for a fact that Brian amongst others was getting his quota. I kept quiet.
So we packed out bags and flew out to Jamaica. Where we had a great time until...............

One evening we were all sitting round the dinner table. Me, Ross, my sister and my brother-in-law Phil. Now Phil is not reknowned for his subtlety. In fact his nick name in the Navy was "Foot and mouth". He is as subtle as a brick through your window. So we were chowing down on spag bol and between mouthfuls Phil pipes up.
"So Mikel....." chomp chomp " what ever happened to that .... " chomp chomp. "girl you were shagging?"
"What girl?" I ask.
"You know...." chomp chomp "Jacky."
FUCK! FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUCK! Dead silence.You could hear a pin drop. My sister threw Phil a filthy look. I was stunned. Shit I'm dead.
Ross slammed his knife and fork down and slowly stood up.
Oh my God! Oh lord forgive me for my sins, I've never been to confession, but in these last few moments of my life can you quickly absolve me of just about everything I might have done that wasn't quite kosher, but be quick 'cause I'll be dead in about two seconds from NOW.
When absolute fear, abject terror takes over, it's like you are a rabbit trapped in the headlights. Ross moves round the table and walks straight past me. What? He walks through the patio doors and goes outside.

Phil just sits there knife and fork in hand looking round as we both stare at him. "WHAT?" he says "WHAT?......What did I say?"
"Philip you can be so stupid." spat my sister.
"But what?"
"Jacky is Rosss girl friend."
"Oh.............. Sorry."
"You will be."
Suddenly no one apart from Phil wanted to eat anything. He carried on.
"So were you..."chomp chomp "...shagging her?"
"For fucks sake Phil."
"I just ...." chomp chomp " ....wondered."
I got up.
"Where are you going?" asks sis.
"I suppose I'd better talk to Ross."
"Don't you think he's better left alone for a while?"
"Great spag bol darling."
"Shut up Phil."
I went outside and found Ross sitting in the dark, the sound of crickets was all around. For some reason I wasn't scared of him anymore. He was my friend, he wasn't happy. I walked over to him.
He doesn't even look up, he's sitting with his head down and he says "Four years ago you'd have been dead in your chair already, where you sat."
"I know."
"I'm catching the next plane home."
"Bad idea Ross, you can't afford it, you've got a return ticket, you'd have to buy another ticket."
"I can't stay here now."
"Of course you can."
"After I find out you've been shagging Jacky?" he looks up for the first time and stares hard at me. I feel myself flinch.
"But that's the thing I never did, there was nothing between me and Jacky, I never shagged her."
"So what was Philip talking about?"
"His usual rubbish."
Well Ross agreed to stop and forget everything for the sake of the remaining two weeks of holiday. We carried on having a good time, but not great, there was always the Jacky problem bubbling under the surface. I don't think he believed me. So when we got back to England I loaded up my Fiat 124 sport coupé, moved out and headed off for Peterborough.

Years later I went back to visit Ross, with my new wife and child, he seemed pleased to see me. Jacky was long gone and he told me he knew how she was. But I'm still not convinced he truly believed me. So if there is a million to one chance that Ross reads this. I have to say that I really didn't shag Jacky. I preferred to have a good friend than a quick shag. But we had some great times and some great parties. It's a pity it all ended like that.

iPod now playing - (Sexual) Healing by Marvin Gaye

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Rehearsals

I've been rehearsing with Del. It's very late and I'm very tired. The sequel will have to wait.

Goodnight dudes

Ipod switched off

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