Sunday, 24 May 2015

Lost in bike land

You know the joke about Moses being lost in the desert for forty years because he would not ask for directions?

Well, I was in a similar position yesterday.
Except I was on a bike.
On a group ride.
In the Surrey Hills.

The short version of the story goes like this:

  • lag behind
  • get dropped
  • lose sight of others
  • take scenic detour home

The long version is more akin to this:

  • join second (of four) group of riders
  • lag behind after 35km
  • get re-attached (courtesy group leader who upped my speed to 45kph merely by putting a hand on my back and pushing me whilst I pedalled like the energizer bunny)
  • fall back again during first climb on Newlands Corner
  • lose sight of the others
  • wait for next (third of four) group of riders
  • watch them whizz past
  • fail to catch them
  • lose sight of them too
  • proceed to seek own route to Leith Hill
  • fail
  • try to find route to Box Hill
  • fail
  • ride through Abinger, Effingham, East Horsley, West Horsley, Ripley
  • repeat
  • three times
  • with a variety of alterations including bastard hill, aka White Down Lane
  • swear at phone map which asks what method of transport am I using: bus, car or walking
  • watch battery reach 'critically low' level
  • wonder whether OH would mind collecting me in the car
  • decide I would never hear the end of it and hence veto
  • take many more wrong turns
  • finally recognise a familiar sight
  • get home after some six hours in the saddle and this:

Today my thighs feel like they have been injected with silicone cement and I have developed a particular hatred of the foam roller (ironically the best cure).

I am walking in a peculiar manner, but at least it is not the walk of shame. 
Just the walk of clueless navigation.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How to just effing do it - a guide to saying ‘Yes’

A few things have struck me over the past couple of days:

  1. if I were paid my market rate for 'volunteer' hours to date, I could take the rest of the summer off
  2. if I said 'No' more often, I would have more time on my hands (but possibly less business ideas as a consequence)
  3. if good manners were a commodity, many many MANY people would be lacking

Any of this resonate with you too?

Let me explain. 

After a very thorough and exhausting process, we have finally appointed a new head teacher at the school where I am chair of governors. It is a huge relief and everybody is excited about the news. Some great teamwork, innumerable meetings, meticulous scheduling, detailed paperwork, consistent and constant revision and review of the input and output, and always retaining the 'vision' of what all interested parties - children, staff, parents and governors - held as important elements in our search.

I wish I had a pound for every occasion someone asked how much time I personally put into this. Instead, I did a rough - and very conservative - calculation of hours.


Yes, I didn't know that either when I signed up. But it's all good and has given me an insight regarding certain procedures and the follow-on business opportunity that exists. Never one to miss the bigger picture, I guess.

So the next question is why do some of us contribute so freely of our time and skills whereas others do not?

I have plenty of views, but not an all-encompassing answer. 
Let's just say that if more people helped out (in general), the "many hands..." saying would be repeated a lot less frequently. 

Which brings me to manners. Or lack of them.

Back in the 'real' (read: paid) business world, all semblance of people state - on their profiles or websites - to being the utmost professionals in terms of how they deal with enquiries, follow up with clients, engage with partners, etc etc etc.

Yet. The amount of downright rude fobbing off, from cack-handed email replies to a refusal to even schedule a phone call ("I am very busy..."), from pathetic excuses ("I am not based in London"... err, hello? Skype?) to total lack of engagement or even a courteous acknowledgement is, in all honesty, quite unbelievable.

How is it possible that even in the busiest of times I can make the effort to at least reply or return a phone call? Is this really such a Herculean effort on my behalf? I think not.

A word to the wise then - and all those who think they are above reproach:

"What goes around, comes around."

When, one day, you require business dealings with myself I will remind you that I forgive, but I do not forget.

Right. Where's my phone?



Sunday, 3 May 2015

Once more into the madness

And again we ventured into the mud. 

Because with the rugby season having finally ended, there was something amiss with my weekends, obviously. Not enough cold, wet, windy, miserable conditions to contend with. Insufficient pain and suffering. And no obstacles to impede progress (like young players scattering over the pitch when you are refereeing a match).

No, not at all. 
There was only one option: Tough Mudder 2015.

After last year's foray, I had conveniently forgotten a few things:
  1. training is a good idea, preferably beforehand;
  2. upper body strength helps, a lot;
  3. water is cold (I won't even mention Arctic Enema, actually I will: insanely f*cking freeeeezing);
  4. bruises;
  5. hills, non-stop;
  6. everything else
But we did it. Another great team effort, fantastic camaraderie and support, plenty of laughs and smiles over the finish line.

I have one thing to be grateful for: as a 'legionnaire' (aka TM 'veteran', get me) I was permitted to by-pass the Electroshock Therapy.

Damn shame, that.

And today I have a choice selection of bruises (again), aching joints (again), and rather sore muscles (again).

It was only when one of the team posted the following map that it dawned on me why I might be in such discomfort: 

So I took the only remedy I could think of.

I signed up again for next year.

(I know, I know, I need a life).


Monday, 20 April 2015

A marriage of texts

A good friend of mine shared a link recently on that wonderful medium that is Facebook which not only had me laughing but also got me thinking of how OH and I communicate and what our text message exchanges say about twenty plus years' worth of a relationship.

Needless to say I subsequently wasted about an hour scrolling through hundreds of SMS* to get a feeling for what is important to us.

I think I know now:
  1. food
  2. rugby
  3. food
  4. offspring
  5. training
  6. food
  7. other random stuff
And single word replies. From OH. Or cryptic messages. And zero punctuation.
Sound familiar? Here's a sample few to prove my point.

LCM - At M&S. Will get prawns for dinner.
OH - Great
LCM - Do we have any fresh salad? Bought some yesterday but think we ate it all last night?
OH - Ate

LCM - Widget in rugby semi final match at festival.
OH - Ok
LCM - Bloody freezing pitch-side. Sun out but cold wind. Usual suspects as opposition. Coffee rubbish. Ref'd two games.
OH - Home
LCM - Lucky you.
OH - Yes

OH - What time are you back?
LCM - Due to finish at 9. May go for for quick drink. Eat first, I'll eat later.
OH - When
LCM - When I get home.
OH - What time
LCM - After conference finishes, after I attend reception that follows (briefly), after I catch tube home and walk back from station.
OH - Shall I leave you something
LCM - Dinner. Or winning lottery ticket. No pressure.

LCM - Sink in guest bathroom leaking. Seal appears to have broken or disintegrated from horizontal out pipe under plughole, probably because it moves about like our one does. Have put note and bucket under it but will need sorting, something to look forward to when you return.
OH - Yes
LCM - Don't get too excited.
OH - No

LCM - Arrived early. On bus now to station then change for next destination. No swimming for Widget on Monday. Starts again January. All his PE kit in blue box.
OH - LW 66, Edgh 10
LCM - You watching the match?
OH - Yes
LCM - Have kids finished homework?
OH - Yes. Watching match
LCM - Gathered that. Get him to pack his kit before school.
OH - Who
LCM - The cookie monster.

LCM - Washer on rear window of car not working any more. Front ones also not right :-(
OH - Park in the sun.
LCM - I was parked in the sun already.
OH - More
LCM - So helpful.

LCM - Am still at swimming gala, almost done. Can you please collect other two from school?
OH - Y
LCM - Need dinner as well please?
OH - What you feel like
LCM - Food and strong drink.

OH - How was your run?
LCM - Muddy. Cold. Wet. Bit of sunshine. More mud. Lots of hills. Just finished.
OH - That's why it's called Tough Mudder.
LCM - So perceptive.
OH - Y
LCM - Am filthy. No showers available. Only cold water!
OH - Don't get car dirty
LCM - Seriously?

OH - How did it go?
LCM - Disaster at 34km, flat rear tyre. Changed but something still wrong so have stopped by marshal to request mechanical help! Not happy :-/
OH - Bad luck. Thought you were doing 25km
LCM - Hah! 63.17!
OH - Should have done short ride
LCM - That was the short ride.

OH - Please can you get stuff to make pizza?
LCM - Too late, missing mozzarella. You will have to get that. And salami.
OH - Will pick up
LCM - And milk please? And ice cream.
OH - For pizza?
LCM - For breakfast. And coffee. And bathing.
OH - What?
LCM - Okay, last one was joke.
OH - Milk?
LCM - Bathing. Still need milk. And ice cream.

It's called 'cheap entertainment' and 'how to waste two hours and not get the time back'.

You're welcome.


* that may be an exaggeration, in all senses


Monday, 13 April 2015

April? Already?

I'm back, I'm back.

I've just been a bit busy.

With this:

Which involved a lot of this:

On runs of this colour with funny names:

And required lots of replenishment of this nature:

Which you need when this happens:


And you return home to be confronted by this:

Back to work. I have some serious bills to pay now.
And possibly a new washing machine.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

How not to interview

Let me tell you a little secret.
I have almost finished my book. The one I am writing, that is, not the ones I read for Kevin.
And I say 'almost' because it has been a labour of love for the past eighteen months and I still have...

*pauses to check*

... five more chapters to write.

Anyhow, the book.

It is not a novel.
It is not chick lit.
It is not a crime thriller.
It is definitely not science fiction.

It is a career guide for women. And men, should they be that way inclined.
Marginally sarcastic (would you expect anything else), ever-so-slightly cynical, but definitely informative and overall humorous.

Because if you cannot laugh, well, then, there is no point.

So, today, I went to see a man about a job.
Not because I am looking for a permanent position (I am not) or because he had something I was clamouring after (he most definitely didn't), but because - via a headhunter - I was 'sought out', as they say, for my background and skills as "someone they would definitely like to talk to."

Well, I'm always up for having a chat and if nothing else believe you can learn from all such events.

So I trotted back up to the City to meet this fellow at the agreed time.

And a mere forty minutes later placed a call to the headhunter to give him a stern talking to.

"A total waste of my time," was how I put it to him, although I used a few more expletives.
And I explained why - because there is no point complaining unless you can offer constructive feedback:

  • the interviewer was late (this despite being "very keen to see you as soon as possible")
  • he had not read my CV and was quite obviously bringing it up on his phone and scrolling through it whilst firing random questions at me (more below)
  • his introduction was "I am [insert name] and I am head of [insert suitably generic title] and I was in the US for 10 years and now I am in the UK" - yes, that's it
  • there was no outline of the role he supposedly was seeking to fill, no insight as to the company's vision or plans, no details around how they are structured and operate - so just as well I had done my own homework and had a grasp of facts
  • his most pressing question was, "What was your largest sale?" (this for a business development role)
  • his other question was, "What is your experience in capital markets?" (err, hello? I was a trader for over ten years in the banking treasury division and have been in financial services more or less ever since? It's on my CV... oh wait, you forgot to read that, didn't you...)
  • but most of all - and yes, I am being totally non-PC here, but who gives a shit - he was almost incomprehensible with one of the most difficult accents to understand ever, not helped by speaking through clenched teeth
It was a classic lesson in how not to interview - from the employer's perspective.

Man, I could have given him a lesson there and then on good practice, engagement, courtesy and talking clearly.

Would have certainly made it worth my while. 
In the meantime, it has added another chapter to my book:

'What to do when your interviewer is a twat'.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Rendezvous du Kevin

Since touching down from last week's cycling academy in the company of my awesome Aussie Solicitor friend - a blissful combination of no laundry, no work, no demands from children or otherwise, but an awful lot of miles and LOTS of hills, she nailed them, me less so - I don't think I have quite yet caught my breath.

With any luck I may do so just in time for the end of term break. Yay. Lucky me. I foresee lots of shouting and threatening children with all kinds of horrible endings.

Anyway. One upside from returning to the fray was Kevin, the much ridiculed, most beloved and of many years' standing bookclub. And LCM's turn to host.

Cue panic.

What food to prepare for the demanding posse that would require minimum time and produce maximum contentment? Easy. Thank you Cook. I'm not proud.
How much wine? More than usual, that's for sure.
What books to suggest (the host has the honour of proposing a selection of their choice, we are very democratic) that would encourage debate and opinions?

But more importantly - what to say about the previous tomes in conversation, one which had left me wanting to slit my wrists, the other which had depleted my best speed-reading skills and been abandoned halfway through?

Thankfully there were mixed reactions to both, including some defiant non-reading by some - horror, shock, pagans in our midst - most of which were neatly summarised in the black (now blue) book that contains our many years of comments.

With regard to the first choice, in one camp sat Belfast Blonde, the Wine Writer and the Botanical Artist. They analysed, dissected, explained and enthused about eels, ale-making, history and torment. My eyes might have glazed over at some point but fortunately I had food to delve out and drink to replenish.

In the other camp sat the Lovely Radiographer, the Doctor of Psychology, Tough Mudda and yours truly, LCM. I think my comment summed up (most of) our feelings: "I felt like I was going round in circles so much that I was about to spiral out of control."

Aussie Solicitor positioned herself conveniently in the middle having managed to avoid even getting her hands on the book. We told her to continue desisting. It was time better spent.

As for the other, well, what to say? My comment was a sole word: bleak.

Fortuitously we have chosen two new books now from the seven proposed, one of which I know will lift spirits as I had started it on the tube (pure fluke that it was later chosen by the Kevinettes, I promise) en route to meetings this week and have already laughed heartily out loud a few times, much to the consternation of fellow passengers.

I seem to have vacant seats either side of me as a knock-on effect.

Excellent result. Will certainly make for additional entertaining conversation at the next Kevin convention.



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