Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Wot no hangover?

[Sunday 26 December 2004]

Christmas day was round at Bob&Lynne's along with John&Pam, Lynne's parents. The meal was the full monty ending up with cheese and a Dowes '83 port of which I had several (small) glasses. We stayed the night and much to my amazement I was fine in the morning.

That's it, I'm all blogged out for now.

More on Wot No...?

Brass monkeys on Christmas morn

[Saturday 25 December 2004]

Up at 7:30 am on Christmas morning to cycle the five miles back to Francesca's to pick up the car. Only 1.5°C so the fingers were a bit numb by the time it came to folding up the bike and stuffing on the back seat.

But far better than drink-driving the evening before. I might stretch to 2 glasses over along evening but more than that is dangerous and irresponsible - mind you some might take the zero tolerance stance. Hey, we all make choices.

Lorenzo comes of age

[Friday 24 December 2004]
Today is the eighteenth birthday of my nephew and godson Lorenzo. So it was off to Francesca's for a gathering of the family. On Francesca's side that just meant Nonna Carla, on Ian's it was Mum and Dad and us two. Plus a couple of neighbours dropped in part time.

Now here is another reminder of mortality and the passing of time. Lorenzo was born by Caesarean appointment of Christmas Eve those 18 years ago and I clearly remember visiting Francesca and the neonate on Christmas day in hospital.

Then the christening shortly after. I was most impressed that the Catholic church would baptise a child born out of wedlock but then they must reckon that having failed with the parents with the young they get another go. I had to swear to forsake the devil and all his ways and I must confess I crossed my fingers behind my back at that point.

I am not sure I was much cop as a godfather. I do not remember providing much input to his spiritual and moral upbringing nor come to that much in the way of presents. So for this occasion I went for the bloke option - a big fat cheque.

Now he is come to man's estate. S**t doesn't that Karmic wheel fair spin round at a rate of knots!

Spawn of Satan

[Thursday 24 December 2004]
Witchs' familiar! That black cat did it again: clawing at the door, widdling in the bathroom. Sleep deprivation and a rude awakening. The alternative? Leave the door open and get her duvet dancing at 4 am and purring all night like a micro diesel engine. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. How do parents cope?

Retro blogging

Having been out and about over the festive season with a thousand "To Do" items at home has left little time for blogging. So the following are playing catch up. But I leave the dates as they are, it would not be right to spoof the date to make them look like historic posts. Where is that Blog Netiquette Guide when you need it, eh?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Feline alarm call

Who needs an alarm clock when you have a furry friend trying to tunnel her way into the bedroom through the laminate flooring. So I got up for a pee to discover the cat had beaten me to it. Only instead of the litter tray she had used the bathroom floor. Mopping out is not how I had hoped to start my day.

I tiptoed out leaving Mary pushing out Z-Z-Zs. It had been a long evening; Mary travelling down from Scotland and me doing serial drinking:
• First with a colleague for a quick glass of wine after work.
• Then down to Norbiton on the train for Chris and Sue's "At Home". Chris lectures in Space Technology at Kingston Poly University.
• Finally back to Wandsworth to meet Mary off the train from Stansted for a night cap at Konnigans.

In bed just after midnight and only a long-stop alarm. I would have really appreciated that extra hour's sleep but I had reckoned without Cleo. I must try clipping her claws sometime.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Farnham Potlatch

It was a usual pre-Christmas Potlatch in which the family assemble on the last Sunday before the 25th and exchange presents.

To avoid extravagant or competitive giving we agreed some years back to limit ourselves to frivolous presents at the price range of a paperback or a CD. There was no point in spending large sums of money on something the recipient was half-hearted about receiving and might simply end up at Oxfam or Cancer Relief.

For most things if we had wanted it we would have already been out and bought it for ourselves. I stop treating myself to movies and music around my birthday in September just in case Santa has it on his list.

It takes the strain out of present choosing:
a) because Mary does it all anyway [thank you dear] and
b) no tears are shed if it does go straight to the charity shop.

So we can afford to buy silly things that bring a smile. Apart from the nephews who just want money so they that can choose their own and my gift to Mary for which it is traditional to go well over budget.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Toasted Mars Bar on brown

Listening to the Radio 4 item this morning on the Deep Fried Mars Bar (apparently it is real not an urban myth) took me back to my early years in London back in 1979.

Working at Coopers & Lybrand in Noble Street, EC2 we would frequent the local sandwich bar, Piccolo's. They would make to order whatever you wanted - the usual stuff: cheese and tomato, ham and cream cheese, cream cheese and pineapple, ham and pineapple.

Someone said "Yecch! Ham and pineapple!" The debate ensued with popular examples of meat and fruit combinations: gammon and pineapple, duck á l'orange, chicken maryland. The wife of a colleague was known to be partial to bacon and banana.

This lead on to silly suggestions for fillings which spiralled out of control until we got to "Toasted Mars Bar on brown" ('cos that would make it healthy then).

Bron challenged "If you eat it I'll pay for it." And it was delicious <g>

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

London so good they named it once

Crossing Waterloo bridge on a clear winter's evening you get a terrific view of buildings lit up against the night sky. To the West the The London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. To the East the Oxo Tower, Saint Paul's Cathedral (where Mary and I got married) and the SwissRe "Gherkin". London, I love it.

Now New York is a fine town and it has fine songs to match. Native New Yorker by Odyssey, New York, New York, so good they named it twice by Gerard Kenny.

What has London got? Ralph Mc-bl**dy-Tell and Streets of London. A song so threadbare any pathos it once had has long since worn away - pass me the bucket. Oh a for a pop anthem for London to rival the Big Apple's.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Donationware and the good Samaritan

I like the concept of Donationware and extend it to other realms. Occasionally I have copied a CD for a fellow Marc Bolan fan or done some other favour. The hassle of currency exchange and postage for a couple of quid is just not worth it so when asked "How much do I owe you?" I reply "Stick a couple of dollars in the next charity box you see."

On Saturday taking our guests (Verginie, Orla and Megan) for a tour of the New Forest I had to turn the car round. Instead of doing an elegant three point turn on the road I did a U-turn and the - so I thought - nice green verge turned out to be a shallow mud bath. Result: much wheel-spinning and a sense of humour failure on the distaff side.

After failed "sticks under the wheel" and "jack it up and put a carpet underneath" I / we gave up and called the AA. Just then a local Good Samaritan with a chunky four wheel drive and a tow rope came to our rescue and towed us out of the slime. In the country those kind of vehicles do make sense!

He did not look like he needed financial assistance to buy a beer (or a gin and tonic) so "How much do I owe you?" seemed inappropriate; instead I asked him to nominate a charity. His answer Wessex Heartbeat. So that is my evening's task, as a matter of honour, to pop a cheque in the post.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Lift like a goldfish

The lift in our block of flats has a memory like a goldfish. As soon as you press a second button it forgets about the first. No problem until two of you get in together and want different floors. You end up wandering down an identical corridor wondering "who moved my flat?".

Also have you the noticed the Judeo-Christian cultural bias in most lifts? The up arrows are illuminated in white for angelic heaven and the down arrows glower red for hellish damnation!

Someone should write to Otis and Schindler and complain: we want Politically Correct lifts. How about blue (sky) for up and green (grass) for down?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Gullible's Blog manifesto

This is my response to the Anonymous comment on Monday asking "Why are you writing a Blogg?".

According to the mostly tongue-in-cheek Why I Hate WebLogs I would count as a "Reverse Voyeur". So what started me blogging?

Intellectual curiosity:
• Because it was there. It came free with the excellent Google toolbar so I thought what the heck. Being an amateur webmaster for over seven years has taught me a lot about technology which I have enjoyed learning (no Geek comments please). This was another new thing to learn about.

• I am fascinated by the impact of technologies on the way people communicate, ever since CSC installed voicemail following the takeover of Inforem and transformed the way people interacted. Every medium (email, voicemail, mailing list, fax, usenet, answerphone, SMS) introduces new etiquette, new possibilities and pitfalls. And so what would Blogging be like I wondered?

Emotional necessity:
• A need to scribble on the sands of time, even if they are washed away by the next tide. This is driven by a new found sense of my own mortality. This was triggered just prior to the start of the Blog.

• Christmas day I said to Mary that we must visit Mick Casson an old family friend. Boxing day Dad rang to tell me Mick had died. The day after Mum told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. New Year's eve Mary's father, Bill, died. First week of 2004 was Bill's funeral, second week was Mum's mastectomy. Hence the content of my first post: Life is too short to drink bad wine.

What kept me blogging?

Emotional plate spinning: More reminders of mortality: Mum's Aorto Bi-femoral Bypass, Mary's Gran died, Denise's funeral and the loss of Oscar.

Artistic leanings: Just wanting to write. Something I haven't done since O-Level English back in 1968, A long time to get rusty. Trying out different styles. The three paragraph, haiku-inspired postings. Just writing in a way that isn't in the boring work-style.

What I do not blog:

Political commentary: Cannot see the point of that. Go down the pub and bore your mates.
My work: Many interesting blogs are about interesting jobs. Mine, however much I enjoy it and find it challenging, would quiet frankly, my dear, be of little interest to others.
My inner emotional life:That ain't nobody's business but my own.

Mary says it is a bit self-indulgent but that leaves my life really and the world around me. Enjoy it or not not as you wish.


Monday, December 06, 2004

A quiet Saturday night in

But with what wines!

We had Bron and Maggie round for a DP on Saturday and used it as an excuse to open some of our finest wines - Bron like Mary being something of a fellow oenophile. Never mind the food, this was the wine list:

• Reisling 1994, Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Clos Windsbuhl
• Bâtard-Montratchet 1982, Blaine-Gagnard
• Chateau Langoa Barton 1985
• Chateau Léoville-Poyferré 1982
• Vouvray Moelleux 1990, Le Haut-Lieu

Normally I prefer the reds but this was a particularly fine assembly of white wines. Having said that the food wasn't bad either and the left over pheasant bits did us for Sunday lunch and some wonderful stock for soup making.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A pound of pauper

Well actually A Pound of PAPER by John Baxter but I keep misreading the cover. An entertaining autobiographical read about a bibliophile and obsessional "completist".

It seems to be mainly a guy thing this obsession about collecting and making lists. A bit like Nick Hornby's High Fidelity which I also thoroughly recommend as an insight into many a male psyche.

Mary is on a bit of a book buying jag at the moment and passing on the best ones, like "A pound of paper", for me to read. Another good recent recommendation was Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8) elegantly themed around crosswords and their compilers. Given what I wrote about A mother's curse you might have guessed this would appeal and it did.