Sunday, 16 November 2014

Of men and gadgets

Recently OH celebrated a milestone birthday.

He chose not to have a party or any sort of knees-up with close friends, but instead opted to invite his family (which is large) around for a "special late lunch" which he would cook on a Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, as opposed to Sunday, because he was training for a cycling time trial with a friend the following day and I was taking part in road race. Most considerate, quite frankly.

So far, so good.

He did in fact cook the meal (I was running round a pitch trying to settle disputes keep the peace referee between nine year-olds foraying into contact rugby for the first time, and was hence unavailable to assist in any manner or form) and a jolly fine one it was... albeit rather to his peculiar tastes of mixing seafood with lamb and pasta and veg and salad.

Or possibly that is because we arrived late and I ended up with 'a bit of everything' on my plate.


What does matter is that his attention to new gadgets does not abate with the passing of the years.

He 'gave' himself this:

An all-singing, all-dancing, all-whizzy-bangy-flashy-lights-and-fireworks new watch.

He is very pleased with himself because it:
  • has a compass (useful when he is lost in the supermarket)
  • has barometer (useful for challenging the weatherman on TV)
  • has an altimeter (useful when he is above his station)
  • measures the outdoor temperature (shorts or no shorts?)
  • has a storm alarm (don't ask - all I know is that it beeps incessantly at 2am...)
  • shows sunrise and sunset times (uhmm, doesn't common sense suffice if you need lights on?)
  • has a depth meter for snorkelling (this is someone who doesn't even wear goggles when swimming, let alone submerge his head)
  • has multiple date and time functions (because you can be in so many places at the same time, right?)

Anyway. Very nice, so glad he is happy with his birthday purchase.

I did point out that it is, in my books, not truly ingenious as it fails to:
a. tells you when we need milk;
b. do the laundry, or;
c. change a flat tyre on my bike.

Speaking of which, this was MY gift to him:

no, no, no, this is NOT a giant nut-cracker gawdarnit!

A roof-mounted bike rack. Times two. Much more practical.

And I got to use it first, the very next day.

Result. Even he loved it (although not more than his watch, I'll be honest).

Who said romance is dead?


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Something amusing (yes, yes, I know some of you have seen this already) from the home front.

School 'creative learning' for Widget.
Topic: the Tudors.
Option: write a quiz.

So he did.
First four questions were pretty good, showed that he had done his homework.

Then came the fifth one.
Cue his sense of humour.

You be the judge.

I am still laughing.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Pot, kettle, black

There was a poignant short letter in the FT Money section last month which caught my eye and make me smile, albeit rather wryly.

Having seen some of the 'demands' made by HMRC for payment of what it considers to be outstanding tax, how interesting that the Leader of this country should take such offence when the same request is levelled at him.

Now, I have no issue with persecuting individuals for tax evasion. It is illegal.

But tax avoidance that falls within the guidelines and boundaries set up by HMRC in the first place? I am trying to imagine the conversation that took place at some stage that led to the current status.

Prime Minister: I say, Georgie Boy, our coffers are looking a bit low.
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Leave it to me Gov, I'll get it sorted!

(moments later)

CotE: Oi, you! Tax lackeys! What's this nonsense with people paying too little tax?
HMRC: But sir, you said it was okay. We told them they were in line with the rules.
CotE: Rules? What rules? By jove, change the flipping' rules! Chop, chop, get a move on...

(later still)

CotE: Gov, Gov, I've sorted it! The dastardly tax avoiders shall be persecuted forthwith!
PM: Well done Georgie, you are a good lad. Clever tactics then?
CotE: Oh, bit of this, bit of that. Nothing like moving the goal posts after the event though... hopefully they won't notice that bit...
PM: Opportune timing you coming round Georgie, I've just had this damned tax notice come in from that blasted EU... Fix it, will you?

What was that infamous quote from a former PM? Oh yes.

I see this whole saga dragging on and on.

At great expense.

To the taxpayer, no less.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Google plus'd out

I'll just lay it out there for starters (mainly since time is too precious to dilly dally about):

does ANYONE actually know/use/understand/want Google+?

Let me commence from the beginning, although that might prove difficult as I cannot actually recall when this all kicked off - although I do know how it ended. Hang in there, I'll get to the point eventually.

Once upon a time, an acquaintance 'unfriended' me on Facebook under the pretext that this new sparkly all-singing-all-dancing thingy called Google Plus (henceforth g+) was more to their liking and allowed them to "select how they interacted with others".

In other words (although they never said so), "You are not worthy of my attention and I therefore am casting you out with the rest of the undesirables." A slightly skewed version of Darwin's law.

Good riddance. 

But, I decided to have a look myself, since others too were "moving to g+ as it is so much more user-friendly and adaptable"... blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda codswallop.

All I know is that some three years on I have finally had enough of stupid emails telling me that Conundra Facawalla, Similar Bollocks, Yukitori Shitzu and Watafuka Upstart have "added me to their circles".

I mean, who gives a monkey's arse? 
More pertinently, who the feck are these dipsticks in the first place and why the bloody hell are they adding me to anything?

So, without further ado - and here is how the g+ story met its maker - I have now deleted the LCM account. 

I doubt anyone will shed a tear.

It was empty anyway. 

Which makes me query all the more why so many sad bastards were still adding me "to their circles". Maybe I should have redirected them to my erstwhile (former) acquaintance.

I bet even they're feeling lonely now.

I know a great application they could switch to though...

(with apologies to Gary Larson)


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Musings of posts gone by

When I started out on this (blogging) journey, way back in July 2009, I had two reasons for taking it up: a) sanity, and b) amusement.

The company I was working for at the time had recently been taken over by another, and what initially appeared to be a fantastic opportunity and investment for all involved turned out to be, as ever, the biggest disappointment this side of the Tooth Fairy.

I renamed the takeover monster B'stard Company and started to write this blog with occasional digs at what we all (the takeover-ees) jokingly called 'The Cult' and some of the ridiculous processes that we were expected to abide by. It was based on facts but entirely fictitious. No names, no indications, no details, no breach of privacy laws were ever in question.

Readers and friends thought I must have been working for one of the big gawdawful investment banks. I wasn't, but it proved my point that there was nothing in any of the blog posts to pinpoint who anyone was or indeed which company I was talking about.

Either way, someone snitched (yes, I know who), B'stard Company got whiff of the blog, threatened all kinds of nastiness, we came to an agreement and I removed the blog posts they objected to.
Of course, despite the LCM tag, nothing is truly anonymous on the internet, so in hindsight I was extremely naïve to think they would find my alter ego storytelling as amusing as I (and many others) did.

Of course, it never ends there, does it?

Sanity is a fine line in my book blog. Whilst writing is a great medium for explaining (to yourself) or mocking things that drive you bonkers (hence point b) 'amusement'), more often than not the end result gets misinterpreted, as demonstrated in my reminiscing above.

Regardless of how you tell a story, regale an anecdote, describe an event, even when under totally fictitious pretences, there will always, always, be someone who deems that *they* are the individual you are writing about and take offence. Particularly when the blog post in question is pee-in-your-pants funny.

My erstwhile training companion BB puts it best when she states, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!"

Indeed. A little embellishment can add to the recounting what the actual truth may not.
And therein lies the dilemma for anyone who - in the past - has 'read' themselves into my ramblings.
They take huge offence and go out of their way to tell me so. Recriminations follow, accusations fly, some parties get the wrong end of the stick and there are inevitably bruises all round.
(Can I just add as an aside that any such individuals have been from a working environment who were told via a third party about the blog - it's a long story - and otherwise would never have even ventured on to the internet, let alone searched me out. Anonymity? Pah. Rubbish.)

The honest truth is this: all these people (mercifully few, in hindsight) have one thing in common.

They really are not that interesting for me to write about in the first place. 

You know what is funnier (well, to me at least)? 

Yes, you guessed it. 

They take even greater offence when I tell them this.

Sometimes you just cannot win.

And the point of this post? A lamentation of some really funny pieces of writing which, sadly, are no longer. Or maybe they were total rubbish, so just as well.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The curse of half term

Okay, so as a rule I do not write about the cherubs, if for no other reason than it sits in direct opposition to my claim that I am NOT a 'mummy blogger'.

And I am not. A 'mummy blogger', that is. See my profile (left) if in any doubt.

The brush that still tarnishes some of us who have moved waaaaaaay beyond writing about offspring (if, indeed, we ever wrote about them in the first place, as in my case) and yet eludes those PR approaches who insist on sending out the catch-all emails.

You know the type. The "for your little ones, aged six and under..." notes that ping into your inbox and are immediately deleted with vigour.

Let me put it on record as a future reference: current ages of children are eleven, ten and nine. They get older with every passing year. You do the maths.

Which brings me to half term.

Half-at-my-wits-end term.

The one where you read all three kids the riot act at breakfast, before heading out, and again in the car for good measure. All before eight in the morning. Impressive stuff. Lots of shouting (me), hand waving (me again), palpitations (ditto) and glum faces (them). In one ear and out the other, hence the repetition. Three times and counting.

The one where you have to lug them around the supermarket with you - because they have already eaten you out of house and home and then some - and hand one of them the scanning gadget, one the list, and the other the trolley, and then make a bee-line for any aisle where they cannot see you in the hope that the store manager does not contact social services. Lots of accusatory glances from little old ladies. I couldn't even be arsed to smile feebly seeking forgiveness. I scowled back and offered to sell them three children. Cheaper than the sherry they were coveting and domesticated to boot. Bargain, I thought. No sale though.

The very same half term where you pitch up at Herne Hill velodrome and leave all three kids to do lap upon lap upon lap upon lap of the circuit knowing that for five hours they will be kept a) engaged, and b) contained. All for the bargain price of fifteen pounds including bike hire. Packed lunch extra. And I got to hog a table at local bakery for three-and-a-half hours solid with free WiFi, for the cost of a coffee and pastry. Get me and my (almost) freebie loading.

So, what does that say about my parenting skills? Not much.

Except that I need more work. Of the paid kind.


Monday, 13 October 2014

And another thing

At least when you row in a boat with other crew members, you all cross the finish line at the same time.

Unlike yesterday's cycling event.

Two other Kevinettes (from my rowing past) were in the posse: the Aussie Solicitor and the Wine Writer.
Phenomenal rowers, awesome cyclists.
I should have known how things would pan out after watching them become mere dots on the horizon after two hundred metres.

There was also something of a hill (to climb) between us by then.

No matters. Onwards. And upwards. Quite of a lot of upwards, actually.
My mantra played itself on repeat in my head: "The more you do, the better you get. The more you do, the better you get. The more you do..."

So, with the three-woman pace line having fallen at the first hurdle hill, I was back to being Nobby No-Mates on my own two wheels. Madame Escargot at her finest. Although I was overtaking quite a few people, much to my own amazement (don't think they were trying hard enough really, I truly am not very fast).

And then my rear tyre decided to call it quits and with an audible "Pfffffsssss..." went flat on me around the half way mark.

Do not fear! LCM knows how to change a puncture! It will only take her fifteen twenty thirty-five minutes much longer than necessary! And the inner tube will refuse to sit flush inside the rim! Despite any attempts to fiddle or push or manipulate or start all over again!

Cue frustration, pedalling slowly with bastard uncooperative wheel to nearest marshall (a mere two hundred metres away, if only I had know earlier, grrrrr) and requesting mechanical assistance.

Eventually the van and man with all the gadgets turned up and faster than you could say "Victoria Pendleton" had me sorted and back on the road.

Small mercies.

Here's what followed:
  • hit bumpy section of road and watched precious unwrapped-to-make-consumption-easier bottle of energy drink self-eject in suicidal bid and land in path of oncoming car;
  • overtook others cyclists and felt very smug again until realising there was no one around (or ahead) and I could hear distinct rumbling of motorway; 
  • turned around before actually entering London-bound A3;
  • called additional 5km directional failure a 'scenic detour';
  • cursed gears when approaching last incline as chain refused to move into small chainring;
  • uncleated right foot and kicked front derailer whilst moving at speed (not advisable);
  • successfully changed into lower gear and remained upright;
  • finished race

By this stage I can add that the Aussie Solicitor and the Wine Writer had already consumed a full Sunday lunch, downed a couple of pints, and read all the weekend newspapers twice over. They were about to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea when I finally turned up.

You can probably see my point about the rowing boat now.

Oh, I also recall at some stage going through a village called - appropriately - Hurtmore.
No shit, Sherlock.

But, jokes aside, it was also great fun and a fantastic day out.

Just next time I will have teflon tyres.
Or alternatively my own personal support car and mechanic.

(c) Dave Walker


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