Monday, August 30, 2004

Spend time with your family

Something of a leitmotif that phrase, this year.

It was a good thing that Mary went to visit her Mum and Gran last week weekend. Her Gran passed away on Tuesday and we went to Scotland for the funeral on Saturday. A bereavement is always a sad occasion but given Gran Martin's condition it was not unexpected.

On the other hand I learned from Bill this week that X has been advised to go home and spend time with her family. I have known X a quarter of a century. She is only a couple of years older than me and her birthday a few days after mine. When I first came to London way back in 1978 she was one of the "usual suspects" whenever a social outing was required. And we shared a number of birthday celebrations.

Some 18 months ago she had breast cancer (and like my Mum, a mastectomy) which spread to her lungs and now her brain. She is on her third set on increasingly unpleasant chemotherapy. Now the doctors have suggested that she go home to spend time with her family. I suggest you do the same while you still can, and tell them you love them.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Any colour you like

as long as it's red.

Harking back to my wittering at Bob&Lynn's BBQ last Saturday, I find it hard to believe that the assembled company had not heard about how I chose my first company car. What follows is Gospel, unfortunately I do not need to exaggerate.

I joined Inforem and the deal included a company car. When I asked what it was the fleet admin lady said I had to chose (within a monthly lease limit). Since I know as little about cars as I do about sport I bought a What Car and a round of drinks for some mates. The next day I went in and we started at the top crossing off cars until we got to the Golf GTi. "You don't want a 16 valve do you?" she exclaimed, "They're like hens' teeth!". "What is a 16 valve?" I asked in my ignorance.

So, that decided that make and model leaving only the spec. At the time I had a pair of red shoes I was particularly fond of, so I said "I'll have a red one to match my shoes".

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Chinese take-away in Farnham

Tuesday evening I popped down on the train to visit the Aged P's in Farnham for a Chinese take-away and a bottle of wine. We call them the Aged P's following the example of a character in Dicken's Great Expectations. Dad started it and it is a term of affection.

There was a note from Heather with some photos from Jane's silver wedding do. She - Heather - wrote that we three (me, Jane, Ian) were very lucky to have such parents. I must say I second that. From what I hear and read about others' relationships with their parents we are very lucky; I enjoy their company and spending time with them.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Home but not alone

Home... Mary flew straight from Dublin to Prestwick to spend the weekend with her mother. Gran Martin has not been well and is recovering from a chest infection for which the prognosis had not been good. She is 98, suffering from Alzheimer's and very frail indeed. So Mary went to spend time with them.

...but not alone. I had John&Andrea visiting for the weekend with Julian (4½) and Charlotte (1½). They were down for Lynn's 100th birthday party, cumulative: Lynn 41, Bob 50 and Beechwood (their Havana Brown), 9.

I am embarrassed to say that I may have had a glass or two more than was strictly necessary on medical grounds. I entered a hazy phase where I was "holding court" a little using the continuous, free-association form of discourse that my wife unkindly refers to as wittering. Oh dear <hangs head in shame>.

Friday, August 20, 2004

A mother's curse

It must be three years since I worked for more than two weeks in the same location. And nearly 20 (I've just checked my CV, 18, in fact) since I commuted by public transport on a daily basis. Now I am rediscovering one of the joys (honest!) of public transport. I get time to do The Times crossword on a regular basis. Crosswords are a vice I inherited from my mother.

This morning I polished off the easy crossword in the eight minutes between Wandsworth Town and Vauxhall and about a third of the main crossword on the 521 bus from Waterloo to Cannon Street. Mind you the competition winners polish off the hard version in just over four minutes so I have a way to go. Reminds me of the old joke "Q. What is pink and hard in the morning? A. The Financial Times crossword."

Anyhow, in the intervening years I discovered I could amuse myself by looking at the cars in front of me on the M3 and trying to fit words to the last three letters of the registration number. If I could use the prefix letter as well that was a bonus. I told my mother about this and some months later she muttered imprecations along the lines of "Curse you, number one son, ever since then I cannot stop trying to make words to fit number plates!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

How much for a pair of shoes?!

Quick drink after work with Jita and Matthew at All-Bar-One, Cannon Street. Then off to Jo Allen to meet with Gary for a meal.

On the train back to Wandsworth I was reading the fashion section of T2. In it James Delingpole listed amongst his "failsafe good buys" cashmere jumpers by Paul Smith at £ 425 and brogues by John Lobb at £ 615. Have they gone completely mad, have they lost all sense of perspective? How on earth can £ 615 be good value?

If you have that much money to spend on a pair of shoes then spend £ 115 on a perfectly serviceable pair of reasonable quality shoes and give £ 500 to charity. To spend that much on footwear is obscene.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Just Wandsworth stretching and yawning...

...just morning, South London putting it's feet on the floor. *

Well I guess that is life in the big city: neighbours banging at one in the morning, police sirens at three and the early morning Jumbos coming in to LHR at five. So I've checked my email, made myself a bacon buttie, got ready for my day and still got into work for 08:15.

* The Apple Stretching by Grace Jones

Monday, August 16, 2004

Fleetfoot voodoo man *

We (M&M plus usual suspects Bob&Lynn and Tim&Sarah) went to the Middlesex 7's on Saturday. A long hard day of drinking Guinness, picnicing in the car park and watching seven-a-side rugby.

Now what I know about any sport could be written on the back of a postage stamp. However, having been to Lansdown Road several times to watch full strength rugby, I can say that 7-a-side has some pluses for the naive spectator. One is the open nature of the game which means some very spectacular runs. Those players may look chunky but they sure can move, there were some impressive exhibitions of sprinting half the length of the pitch!

Then back to Wandsworth for (another) bottle of wine at Konnigans and then across the road to Pizza Express for a wafer-thin pizza. Say good night, z-z-z!

* Rip-off by Marc Bolan and T.Rex

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Hunger Site

I used to visit this site regularly to milk the sponsors' marketing budget to help feed the third world. I have just started doing it again.

Put a shortcut on your desktop (IE right mouse, create shortcut) and you can do the same.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Elgin itinerary

Just for the record it was a hectic itinerary over the weekend in Elgin.

On Saturday:
* Findhorn to see what a eco village looks like
* Baxters for a lunchtime bowl of Cullen Skink
* Glenfiddich for a distillery tour and free "nosing"
* An evening ceilidh to celebrate Ros' 50th

Then on the Sunday morning:
* Elgin's Cathedral and...
* ...Biblical garden
* followed by a trip to the seaside at Lossimouth
* then over to Ros and Craig's for a leftovers lunch before catching the plane back to LHR.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Going commando

More on the language and customs of Scotland: Roslynne was telling us that McColls, a big dress hire company in Scotland, had banned "Going commando" in their kilts because of the cleaning bills. Mary had to translate this for me as "going without underwear" in the, supposedly, traditional manner.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus

I always say to Mary that Scotland is a foreign land with it's own language and customs. Having just returned from a weekend in Elgin to celebrate Roslynne's 50th I am wiser in the linguistic ways of North-East Scotland. Namely that the name for the dialect of that area is "Doric". One of the books in the Baxters Book shop was entitled " Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus" which prompted Mary to a rendition of this childhood ditty:

Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Oh ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Ye cannae shove yer granny, for she's yer mammy's mammy,
Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer other granny aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer other granny aff a bus.
You can shove yer other granny, for she's yer daddy's mammy,
Ye can shove yer other granny aff a bus.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Newsflash: Hovel in the Hills ours by 20-Sep-04

We have received an email from Pietro at Gruppoinvest D'Amico saying that he has received a message from the Notary confirming that the matter will come to a conclusion by 20th September 2004. Yippee! At long last a date. And a most auspicious date as it will be my birthday

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Going clip-clippety-clop on the stair *

My sister was up in London with the three boys to see "The Woman in Black". Since brother Ian's office is just over the river behind London Bridge we all met there for a quick beer followed by a Thai meal.

The three nephews (Ben, Chris and Tom) are all turning into fine young men "handsome, tall, and strong". But then I am allowed a certain avuncular bias.

Ben ordered the coconut ice-cream in the half shell and said that someone else had to order the same so he could use the shells to go clip-clippety-clop on the way home. Made me chortle that did that piece of wit and repartee.

* A Windmill In Old Amsterdam

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hot town, summer in the city *

Started a new contract on Friday so yesterday was the beginning of my first full week. When I came here for interview originally I walked from Waterloo to just behind Cannon Street station: a pleasant 30 minutes stroll. Yesterday morning I took the 521 bus - a pleasant 25 minute ride.

Yesterday evening I took the Waterloo and City line (aka "The Drain" to us old-timers): a very unpleasant 15 minutes - yuck! Hot, humid, sweaty.

This morning I got the bus again: the trade off for that extra 10 minutes is worth the improvement in quality of life and I can ogle the girls people-watch.

* Back of my neck gettin' dirt and gritty

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Eating squirrels in Worth Matravers

Last night we went to see Mike West appearing at The Square & Compasses, Worth Matravers. Lynn kindly drove so Mary and I could have a couple of pints of Ringwood Best. This is an extraordinary pub out in the wilds of the Isle of Purbeck.

No less extraordinary is Mike West. I think of him as a latter day Tom Lehrer and that is high praise. God know what the grockles made of this long-haired, wild-eyed, banjo-playing hill-billy from New Orleans. advocating the eating of squirrels. We first saw him at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville at the NO JazzFest back in 1998 so we knew what to expect. Go see him if he tours near you for a different kind of musical evening.