Friday, 30 December 2011

My main bug bear of 2011

Is not the strung out downfall of Silvio B and his belief that Italy was - contrary to statistics - in a buoyant state of affairs, quoting, "The life in Italy is the life of a wealthy country: consumptions haven't diminished, it's hard to find seats on planes, our restaurants are full of people." I suppose if all your monetary assets are held in private Swiss bank or intricate tax haven accounts, then your country's demise is barely worth a glimpse, right?

It is not the rampant rate of inflation in the UK that leaves me some £23 out of pocket when all I popped to the shops for was a litre of milk. Okay, so I got a bit distracted in the supermarket but I swear those chocolate florentine biscuits were looking so lonely on the shelf they just jumped into my basket. Possibly with that bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Oh, look! Two bottles. How did that happen?

It is not the lack of a summer proper in Blighty. Again. Fair enough, so April was glorious and October was hotter than it should have been but what about June, July and August? Pathetic. I mean, what do you say to visitors coming from abroad? "Bring your fleeces and your macs, we are having a touch of unseasonal weather. Just like last year. And the one before. And before that..."

And it is not even the knock-on effects of budget cuts at the BBC that saw Strictly Come Dancing resort to cheap tricks (home-grown video training diaries, anyone?), increasingly bad gaffes (time for Brucie to retire, methinks), and distressingly poor wardrobe attire for female presenters and dancers (Tess Daly, Chelseeeeeee Whatserface Bouncyboobs, Nancy Oily Trollop - choose any).

No. Not at all. As if I would be that flippant. Pah.

My main bug bear of 2011 is... *drum roll please*... poor quality beds in holiday lets!

Because, let's face it, when you pay out good money for a 'comfortable' cottage or holiday rental property, the very least you expect is to get a decent night's sleep. Not one that leaves you crippled in the morning, unable to stand upright, let alone so poorly that even the dust mites play havoc and result in this:

And it's not just the UK that fails in this regard. Over the past years I have endured poor quality (and consequently back-ache inducing) mattresses in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, France, New Zealand... the list goes on.

Enough, I say! Forget the London Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, the US presidential elections, or even the forthcoming new James Bond film (okay, maybe not this last one), I hereby nominate 2012 as the year to be vocal about bad beds and mattresses in rented accommodation.

Don't say, when asked for feedback, "Oh yes, it was lovely, thank you!"
Say, "No it was bloody awful and I will be sending you the bill for my trip to the osteopath to sort my back out!"

Don't say, when filling out the post-visit questionnaire, "Really enjoyed our stay, very comfortable, would recommend to others."
Say, "I appear to have developed a permanent kink in my spine accompanied by spasms which whilst very distressing are providing entertainment for the children as they 'practice' massage techniques on their mother."

So. The movement kicks off January 1st, 2012.
It will be called the 'Ban Bad Beds' aka 'name and shame holiday rentals into the provision of better quality sleeping arrangements'.
Of course, it goes without saying that the good providers will also be named and praised.

Who's in?


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Random (winter) rambling conversations with my training partner

You would think - given the change of seasons and the slight 'winding down' that ensues - that our communiqués would let up somewhat.

Not so.

Text messages.
LCM - Resigned. Formal notice just gone out. On garden leave from end of this week.
BB - Garden leave? Serious training leave :-)
LCM - Possibly. No fun without you :-(

Following week. Late (very late) Saturday evening.
BB - Early bike ride tomorrow by any chance??
LCM - Would have to be at 7.30am latest as rugby calling after and need to be ready to leave before 9? Will be knocking on your door sharpish so be ready to go!

Sunday morning. BB's house.
BB - "Look, I am ready! See? Isn't that good of me? Let's go!
LCM (impressed) - "Excellent!"
They mount bikes and set off. BB stops.
LCM - "What now?"
BB (looking down at feet clad in trainers, not cleat-ins) - "Oops. Wrong shoes."

A few days later.
LCM - Just back from ride round Richmond Park. So foggy could barely see ahead until I realised most of it was condensation on my glasses.

Following weekend. Sunday morning.
BB - Going for a run now. Are you at rugby?
LCM - Yes. Currently running around pitch wearing a moustache. Most fetching.
BB - Why?
LCM - Disguise.

Email inbox:
"YOU HAVE 48 HOURS TO GUARANTEE YOUR PLACE for the London Triathlon 2012!"
LCM (reads and thinks to herself) - I will just ignore that and pretend I never saw it.

Later that same day, email inbox.
BB - Re London Triathlon 2012, what are we doing about this?????
LCM - Absolutely nothing. I really draw the line at swimming in the docks.
BB (silence)
LCM (thinks to herself) - That crazy Brazilian would never just enrol me without asking, would she?

A few days later, via email.
"Enter London's premier 10k and stay motivated over the winter!"
LCM (reads and thinks to herself) - Uh oh. Here we go again. How long before _

Computer beeps. New message in inbox.
BB - Re London premier 10k, what do you think? Though the state of my back suggests it is a bad idea, I am sure I'll be better by May 2012.
LCM - You do realise this is the day after the Dorney Super Sprint triathlon?
BB - Oops. Maybe not.

At the school Christmas fair.

LCM - I am manning your cake stall!
BB - I am running there...
LCM - Not fast enough! Lack of training?


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ho ho ho, it's that bloody time of year. Again.

Yes folks, the enforced spirit of joviality and one-upmanship is again upon us. Let us rejoice in spending money we do not have, on items we do not want, for people we do not necessarily care about (but whom we might "meet up with in 2012", even though we have not seen nor heard from them since 1998), and passing time with family members who cannot be avoided (duty and all that), eating and drinking more than is ever good for us, wishing we were somewhere hot and sunny and free of rubbish TV re-runs, all in the name of the birth of the Baby Cheeses.

And in that spirit, I give you the updated version of the LCM yearly circular, last viewed here and here.

Dear family, friends, plebs, hangers-on and wannabes

This has been a year of austerity. It is not just the embattled Eurozone countries who have been feeling the pinch, with the vultures hovering overhead ready to hone in for the kill. The LCM household has also had to watch its purse strings and pull its belt in another notch or so. Tough times call for tough measures, although I like to think that one person's misfortune is another's opportunity. Or something like that.

So - we had to do away with our cleaner and replace her with a more affordable option. I fortuitously came across a sweet older man who goes by the name of Dominique, or DSK, as he prefers to be called. Quite serious, a good worker, although he had a penchant for pouncing unawares from behind doors, scaring the living daylights out of me a couple of times until I sorted him by leaving some random pieces of the kids' Lego on the floor. Since treading on these in his stockinged feet, it has no longer been an issue.
I also made him wear a bell round his neck. Better than any sat nav app.

Food shopping has also been affected. With the cost of the Ocado delivery pass increasing, I took matters into my own hands. Some negotiations later I found myself at the helm of a lemon van, delivering my own groceries. Now this would have worked well had it not been the issue with neighbours who took exception to the bright yellow vehicle blocking their driveway for a week whilst the local constabulary kept themselves busy with documentation establishing rightful ownership and clamping rights before the sodding thing was finally towed away. So much for free enterprise and upholding the spirit of the bold.

Speaking of vehicles, the LCM household has had to do away with cars this year. We all converted to Boris bikes and applied for a permanent rack outside the house. Again, a few troubles with the neighbours who objected to the volume of traffic on their front door and their lawn being trampled. When I pointed out that they should join in and not be such moaning minnies, they took exception and reported us to the local authority for breach of planning permissions. I have passed this on to dear Zac who, given his environmental credentials, will - I am sure - be keen to fight our corner for us.

The children have also made some sacrifices this year. As we could not afford to buy new rugby boots all round, we have resorted to introducing new tactics in to the game based on sharing footwear. These consist of wearing only one boot at a time and hopping down the field at speed to score a try. The aim is to see how high you can jump over the opposition, not how far you can run through their defence. It may take a while to convince others, but we are sure that the RFU will support our efforts in the name of austerity.

Back on the home front, the cycling turbo trainer purchased for OH last year is proving very useful. We now have a twenty-four hour rota marked up for all family members - and friends and relatives, when visiting - to partake in a daily session to help generate power. Our heating bills have been curtailed enormously, although this may be down to the decreasing number of people coming to stay with us. They have assured me it has nothing to do with our efficiency drive, but I am doubtful.

And on that note, can I wish you all a terrific 2012. May the austere times make better people of everyone. I know they will of us.

As they say in Hounslow - laters!


Yeah, yeah, yeah - sodding cap and bleedin' fake snowman,
plus there's a blizzard in the office as well now! Gah!


Thursday, 1 December 2011

What the eye sees - the mish-mash version

It has been a very busy few weeks. Not only does setting up your own company take time and effort, when something on the technical front goes awry, you cannot just pick up the phone and call the IT department.

I am the IT department.

So, enough about the work front, let's focus on something else that has been amiss of late.
Random photos and commentary, anyone? Yep, I see the show of hands, especially Mrs Woog's.
Woogie baby, this one's for you.

Here we go. Bear with me, they have been collated over a period of a few months. It has been that long since the last time.

I had forgotten about this one, taken in Rome back in late July.
I would like to draw your attention to the sartorial elegance of the tourist passing the building site of the very up-market and classy Hermés. I am particularly impressed with the over-the-shoulder moob holder.
Oh, wait, hang on. That's a camera strap.
Naughty LCM. Say ten Hail Mary in penitence. You were in the Holy City after all.

Uhmmm... Herpes? Who'd shop there?
This woman however is to be commended for her hair and outfit colour coordination. Who knew that Cruella de Vil had a sense of humour?


And this, well... I have no idea what those things on her legs are.
Leg warmers? Zip-up socks? Compression tights? Disguise for hair-removal failure? And what is it with the knitted jersey thingy 'doubling' as a dress (of sorts, I use the term very loosely)?

I need these things on my legs to distract attention because when
I stand up my crocheted top barely covers my lady garden
Now, before you start hurtling the usual accusations about showing photos and not disguising faces, let me state for the record that these two young things were already being photographed by someone with a proper camera. I just took advantage of them posing. I was merely intrigued by the blonde's footwear, especially as she had barely managed to stagger up the escalator in front of me. And no, she was not drunk.
At least I don't think she was. I did not engage in conversation to assess if she was slurring her words.

Blonde - I'm taller than you
Brunette - Not if you topple from that height
Finally, the piéce de résistance: the thigh high denim boots. I am always wondering what drives people to purchase (let alone wear) such peculiar footwear. 

I may be wearing a very bad wig which keeps on shifting on my head,
but my legs are something else, baby!

I even attempted to chase her down to ask her but she was way too fast... as the blurry image below testifies.

Eat my dust

Right. Back to business plans and technology wotsits.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Strictly Come Kevin

It is again that time of the year when Saturday evenings suddenly become obsessive events involving time-keeping, schedules, and wrangling the remote control out of the cherubs' hands.
Yes, it is part and parcel of giving in to the mania that is Strictly Come Dancing.
Now, should you want to read about all the shenanigans, sequins and sexy samba sensations, then I can highly recommend the delightful (and thoroughly entertaining) writings of Miss Jones. Classy stuff, for sure.

Conveniently, I only came across Miss Jones as she is a friend of one of the Kevinettes. There is a connection there, you see, albeit somewhat tenuous.

Anyway. Where am I going with this? Oh yes, Kevin. We met again. For a change we chatted about the books - in a loop-like sequence, repeated four times as each member turned up in progression on Belfast Blonde's doorstep (at some stage I will invest in a dictaphone to minimise this effort).
Most of us had managed to read one of the selection, but none of us had completed the second choice.

Actually that is not strictly true. The Botanical Artist had read both books but was absent from the gathering (sore throat lurgy, not welcomed by Kevin) and had relayed her views and comments via yours truly.
I am not sure I managed to convey her enthusiasm entirely accurately, especially given that one of my comments was along the lines of  "She said the start of the book was a bit peculiar but it was worth persevering".
The Lovely Radiographer captured the mood beautifully in her reply, "Right, I'll give that one a miss then."

So we moved on to far more interesting subject matter, what with us being a serious book club of many years standing and all that.

In no particular order this was: Strictly, work, holidays, Strictly, other books, Strictly, choir practice, food, wine, Strictly, more wine, X Factor, and Strictly.

We are a varied lot.

But at least this time we remembered to a) set a date for the next meeting, and b) select the next books to read.

Progress, of sorts.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Time to Speak Out


And I can just imagine certain people reading this title in their twitter stream and rushing to see if I am about to overstep the boundary and spill some more beans about corporate life.

Sorry folks. Today is not your day.

This is, in fact, a far more serious topic, and one that I am proud to support.

A truly wonderful blogger friend - Kristin, the gorgeous redhead at Wanderlust - is a keynote campaigner behind Speak Out. I cannot do her words (or her horrific story) justice, so invite you to read it for yourself here and here.
A note of warning: it is not for the faint-hearted.

I would urge you to show support for this event - even if you are not a blogger or a purveyor of social media, raise awareness by speaking out against domestic violence. If you are a blogger and social media devotee, then join in and add your voice to ours. Kristin even has a natty selection of giveaways to entice you further.

Domestic violence will not just 'go away'. It can happen to anyone.
Be brave, be supportive, seek help.
Speak Out.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Guide to the imploding European situation for beginners

Once upon a time (a long time ago, like, 1957, which was before even I was born) there was a group of people who got together and had a jolly good knees up and decided they should all throw their lot in to the same bag and achieve economic nirvana. 
"A problem shared is a problem halved," one of them was heard to say. 
Of course the rest of them thought this was hilarious and secretly patted themselves on the back for getting hitched to each other, thus ensuring (they believed) that no one of them would ever go down the toilet without the others coming to their rescue, albeit wearing rubber gloves and thigh-high waders.

Fast forward a few years. The original group had swollen from six original founders to some twenty seven members. Some of them came bearing gifts, some came bearing bribes, some just came full stop, all clamouring to be part of this generous love-in that guaranteed funding to those in strife, assistance to those in need, and bail-outs to those who couldn't run a bath. It was a very popular club.

Of course, as with any club, there were loads of rules and regulations that had been made up about who could join and what they had to do to gain access. But hey! Rules are meant to be broken bent, so by and large everybody was allowed to come to the party.
The new members also patted themselves on the back for managing such a feat and for being so clever about hiding their huge budget deficit holes and gaping unemployment figures, not to mention rampant inflation that was starting to make Zimbabwe look good by comparison.

Anyway. One day, one of the members of the club woke up and found that his piggy bank was empty. Not only was it empty, it was also broken so no matter how much money his chummy mates lent him (because they were all members of the same club after all), he could not store it and had to hand it out to others who lived in the same village under the promise that they would look after it for him. They took it off his hands quite happily, because their piggy banks too had suffered the same fate (although they did not tell him this).
Now, as we all know, the saying goes, "Finders, keepers. Losers, weepers," and goodness gracious did that start a torrent of tears.

Shortly after, another member of the club suffered a similar fate. All the people had been having such a grand time, they had been living a little beyond their means. Eventually - as ever - it caught up with them and bit them on the arse. The people booed and hissed and told their leader to take up golf instead. He did just that.

Of course, there were others who met a similar fate. One had been so taken with his Lego kit, constructing all manner of buildings, that when Santa failed to bring him any more for Xmas, he stomped his foot, went off in a huff and was still having a temper tantrum at the time of writing this blog post.
Yet another had taken their eye off the ball so badly whilst they tried to sort out (or not, as the case may be, parodied brilliantly here) who was actually going to run the country, that they failed to notice that banks were lending money to themselves under the pretext of shoring up their stability by buying their own shares. A bit like turning your underwear inside out and pretending that it is still clean one week on. A manoeuvre worthy of Inspector Clouseau.  

However, there were two club members who refused steadfastly to be tarnished with the same brush as all the other failures. 
The first played a natty game of charades with his fellow club members. He stood in front of them all during a very important meeting and held up one finger. "One word!" was the response. He nodded. He held up four fingers. "Four syllables!" came the reply. He nodded again. He cupped his hand to his ear. "Sounds like?" was the chorus (they were really enjoying this momentary distraction), and he proceeded to run around like a nutter, pretend to get cramp in his leg, lie prostrate on the floor and then abruptly stand up and blow a whistle.
"Foul?" one person volunteered.
"No!" he shouted back. "Ref! Ref - e - ren - dum!"
They all gave him a red card.

But the second was even better. He took everyone by surprise. "Crisis? What crisis?" he said to the masses, and cast his eye towards the clock, wondering if it was too early to suggest a pool party with lots of young girls in bikinis to distract them all from their problems.
Indeed. The saga continues.

(c) Roberto Mangosi

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Whilst on garden leave

I have been very busy resolving the pressing problems currently facing the G8 G12 G20 G... oh I don't know. How many bloody nations are there now?

*walks off muttering*

Sarkozy - "You Briteeesh 'ave no idée 'ow 'ard eet eez to
understand zat German womann avec le térrible dress sense."
Cameron - "Don't worry old boy, I can lend you a suitable
candidate to interpret for you. Ever heard of Boris?"


Friday, 28 October 2011

All change, please

You know that commonplace announcement that booms across the tannoy when you reach the end of the line on the tube/train/bus/motorway queue/supermarket check-out? Yes, well, I am there. In a manner of speaking, that is.

For those who have missed out on the earth-shattering news, I have resigned from my current job and... (drum roll)... am setting up my own company, venturing (back) into interim management and all that it entails. I say 'back' as this is not foreign territory for me and an idea I have been toying with for a while. Suffice to say that whilst the economic conditions at present might be foreboding for many, the timing for me is right.

So given that I have been asked ever-so-politely to desist from writing about anything vaguely work-related by my incumbent employer, I shall abide by this request and instead entertain the masses with a silly ditty.

Because that is what I do best (here on the blog, not in my working life, let's be clear about that).

I give you, in worldwide première, the LCM sing-a-long reference ode (with a few liberties) to new beginnings:

I was working nine to five (trying hard to make a living),
when the gods up yay on high, gave me thought for a new beginning.
the sky's the limit (not myself).
'Coz slavery's abolished now,
(though not working for a man),
and the ultimate prize for going it alone


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What the Vegemitevixens got up to next

There are a few rules in life. My life, that is.
They are - in no particular order - as follows:

  1. do not try to put lipstick on while the car is in motion (whether you are driving or otherwise)
  2. be nice to your parents
  3. change the sheets on your bed (or if all else fails, pay someone else to do it)
  4. remember to collect your kids from after school club, preferably before closing time
  5. do not name actual names in blog posts (although this will not stop individuals purposely misinterpreting your sarcasm and taking offence because they believe you are making disparaging remarks, poking fun, or mocking them and/or others, or something along those lines. Confused? Yes, me too. Really guys, get a grip, life is too short)
  6. hold the bannister when descending stairs in high heels
  7. join in, it's much more fun
  8. fresh air, at least once a day
  9. always have a good joke you can recall at short notice
  10. refrain from writing sponsored posts or reviews wherever possible

Now with regard to the last point, I have made a couple of exceptions over the past year.
One was for the lovely Holly at Vosene (entrance to London Zoo, an unexpected proper croquet set and then shampoo freebies for the kids' school vetoed any reservations I might have had), and the other was for Carte Noir. If you have not watched the ridiculous antics we filmed for the latter, you have probably done your eyes a favour.

The last event I agreed to accept (graciously, as ever) was courtesy of the London Eye. It was originally to have been an 'end-of-summer-event-without-kids' just for me, however, after some haggling negotiating, I blagged multiple tickets for the infamous Vegemitevixens and off we went.

Now bear in mind that the last time we met up for a night on the town we ended up thus:

Pure class, yes?
This time we were far more constrained. Never mind that two of the Vixens had cried off (one citing babysitting failure, the other lurgy - pah! amateurs, I must talk to the President about having them struck off), the remaining four still had a wonderful champagne 'flight' on a most glorious late Indian summer evening on this star attraction of the South Bank. The views were fabulous, the talk non-stop, and the laughs - as always - aplenty. Thank you, London Eye (and my flying companions) for such a wonderful evening!

As for the post flight events, they have already been beautifully captured here.

All I will add is that we were actually turned away from the nightclub (under the pretext of our names not being on the guest list at the door - pah! another insult), but I allowed the Vegemitevixens to carry their dignity to the lounge bar under the belief that they really were 'not up to clubbing' that night.

And actually, enjoying a bottle of wine and laughing with girlfriends, I must confess, was a far more befitting way to end a fabulous night out.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Another dilemma in the LCM household

Guess what? This is not about work. I just wanted to make that clear. You never know who might get the wrong end of the stick, purposely or otherwise.

This is about that all-consuming passion that is currently causing no end of grief in the LCM household.

Rugby. More precisely the Rugby World Cup

We have a slight dilemma in that there are a few countries we can legitimately support.

  1. Wales (OH)
  2. England (children, by birth; LCM by length of service)
  3. Australia (LCM by birth and parentage; children by nationality)
  4. Ireland (OH by ancestry)
  5. Italy (LCM by parentage; children by nationality; OH by default and love of fast cars)
  6. New Zealand (LCM by ancestry)
Given that nos. 2, 4 and 5 are now out of contention, we are left with 1, 3 and 6.
So far, so good. 
Tomorrow we will all be up at the crack of dawn to watch the Welsh (whose national anthem I can sing but still make a hash of the words, although not as bad as one John Redwood MP when Secretary of State for Wales) slaughter the French.

And then. 

Then it becomes a tad more awkward. If the All Blacks beat the Wallabies, so be it. 
I will swear allegiance to the dragon and cheer for the Welsh lads, if for no other reason than the pleasure of ogling James Hook's thighs.

However, if the reverse is true and the final on October 23rd sees Australia pitted against Wales, I fear there may be some serious repercussions chez maison LCM.With three offspring, there will never be an even distribution in the cheering squad.

I might have to resort to cheap bribery drastic measures.

Okay kids, see this arm height? Yes?
This is how many tubs of ice cream mummy will
give you if you cheer for the right team, okay?


Friday, 7 October 2011

A true act of selflessness

Given the world we live in - you know, all 'me, me, me', greed personified (footballers, anyone?), 'slebs at every turn, and constant attention-seekers hankering after some meagre claim to fame - it is refreshing and inspiring to find someone who is pursuing a fairly unique challenge that only benefits others.

This person is possibly one of the loveliest and most genuine people I have ever come across. He is now into the final days of his amazing challenge - read all about it here. Having been a guest of the LCM household this past week, I feel very privileged to have gotten to know him better. The fact that he also provided entertainment for the children, cleared my fridge of any leftovers, and was extremely neat and tidy was an added bonus.

Jokes aside, I have seen first hand the pain and travails this young man is putting himself through for a cause that is truly, honourably, selfless. If you too are touched by the story behind the challenge, then I urge you to donate something, however small, because gestures like these are all too few and far between nowadays. Details as to how to do this are here.

Sean, I salute you, You are an inspiration and an absolute star. I am very proud to call you a friend.

Sean wears flourescent physio tape courtesy of therapist
LCM wears wetsuit and floral cap courtesy of very bad taste


Thursday, 29 September 2011

The very latest random conversations with my training partners and a whiff of conspiracy


Text messages.

LCM - Okay, have had to make final decision after much deliberation and off and on back spasms that come and go at random.Will not be competing at IoW as risk of further and longer lasting injury too high. Am gutted as despite lack of training and knowledge of the bastard bike ride, I was really up for it.
BB - That's it? Can I borrow your bike rack?

The race comes and goes.

Text messages.

BB - Have a look at results. WW was 4th!!! I was 37th on bike ride - out of 41. I saw the 'last runners marshall' for the first time ever. Hopefully last too.
LCM - Saw  results, am laughing that WW was slower this year by 3 mins yet has moved up from 9th to 4th. Hope springs eternal?


WW - I'm just bathing in the glory of 4th without thinking about the merry detail! Okay, swim time appalling. Might need a new/better nose clip, kept falling off (is that me blaming my tools? Or maybe I should blame the guys that made me swim front crawl...?). Run time not good, wondered why I was enjoying it, but then there was a lieutenant with a 'nice bum' (said the water girls) in front of me... But hey, the conditions were obviously much, much tougher this year (ahem, she lies).

Phone call.

BB - So we do Windsor again next year, yes? WW has already enrolled.
LCM - We are already booked to do Blenheim triathlon and it's the week before. And anyway, Windsor entries will be full by now. They all go in space of a few days.
BB - Can you just check on your computer now? Look at the website?
LCM - I am at work. I am far too busy.

Later, by text.

BB - Website I am looking at says entries are closed - bummer! Any other ideas?
LCM (pumps fist, cheers under her breath) - Yes, Henley instead :-)

Phone call.

BB - Are you busy?
LCM - I was.
BB - Can you talk?
LCM (rolls eyes) - Yes, unless you want me to do a mime act via telephony.
BB - I have found a way to enter us in Windsor next year!
LCM - Oh lordy, lordy, lordy... Who did you bribe?
BB (in very proud voice) - I just had to enter us in another event as well to secure our places.
LCM - You are joking, right?
BB - Nup. Email confirmation on its way to you now.
Cue new email in inbox.
LCM - I just got it. Is this a conspiracy or something? What did you and WW get up to on the Isle of Wight? That's now three triathlons in four weeks!
BB - Relaaaaaaax! It's ages away!
LCM - Yup. That's what we said last time, and I ended up with the race marshals cheering me on because they wanted to go home!

That same day, by email.

BB - Ladies - we are all on! Eton and Windsor. See you all soon for autumn training!
WW - Woo hoo!
LCM - Nutters. The lot of you.

I swear these two are out to get me. Not sure under what guise yet, but am sure that will become apparent in due course.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Waiting for Kevin

If there is something that never ceases to amaze me about Kevin, it is how much I laugh every time we meet.
Some eleven years on, with most founding members still present and intact, the conversation flows, the discussions are lively, and the spouses all take cover. Or absent themselves from proceedings.

Of course, the Black Book that contains the titles of all tomes we have read over this period - and comments, themselves cause for amusement as well - is testament to the range of authors and genres that have crossed our literary tastes. However, it is the banter that accompanies these meetings that is by far the most entertaining.

Take the last get together. We all descend upon the Botanical Artist's abode. Her husband has wisely taken refuge elsewhere (a 'Meet the Teacher' evening at the school certainly promised more discipline and less rude jokes) and her daughter was wise to us given past history.
Sat in the kitchen with a (gratefully received) glass of wine in my hand, the Doctor of Psychology looks at the food laid before her, opens her arms wide and declares, "Well, I've got the nipples!"
"Yes," retorts the Lovely Radiographer, "We know that, you don't have to flaunt them."

Not only are we going deaf, we are also reverting to teenage innuendo.

Thereafter followed a lively discussion around dementia and whether calling your own children by the wrong names qualified for this label. I am a fully paid up member in this regard, although I still sustain that it keeps them on their toes as they are never quite sure whether they should be sitting in the naughty corner or if they are doing time on their sibling's behalf. No matter. I have age on my side.

The conversation then veered by way of the two books we had read - both commendable, btw - to whether leftovers from dinner could be taken home if a clip box was provided (answer: yes, a true gourmet doggy bag), to fashion faux pas in Palma (think tent dresses and Jesus sandals and you get the idea), to lactose-free cheeses (apparently there is such a thing), renditions of various accents (the best being the broad Yorkshire farmer version by the Lovely Radiographer), to an amusing tale about spotting Len Goodman in the dry docks where the Titanic was built.

"I thought it was him from a distance but could not be quite sure. Then I realised there was a camera crew right behind me and I was in their way, as they must have been filming him for something," said Belfast Blonde.
"What did you do?" we all asked.
"Yelled 'Sevvvvveeeeeeen' at him, and moved on," she answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

And the moral of the tale this time is that when other stories get in the way of a good book, you laugh so much that you forget to set the date for the next meeting. Yes indeedy.

Waiting for Kevin? We may be some time.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Rogue trading - the view from the inside

It was all going so well. The sun was shining, the gods were smiling, the upper echelons of power didn't have a clue and I was playing (yes, playing!) with other people's money. 
Bliss, I tell you, absolute bliss. Not even Swiss efficiency could touch me. I was king of the world, dabbling in markets that meant nothing to mere mortals, racking up trades that would baffle the common man on the street, hedging positions that covered my arse and guaranteed my multi-digit bonus.
"Wasssssup?!?" was the catchphrase we used to greet our peers in the morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6.30am, ready to take on the world.
"Grützi mittenand!" was the reply from our boss, Herr Stickler. A right one, he was. William Tell of the modern era. Nothing got past his beady eye. Heard a snippet about shorting the Euro? He was on to it like a rat up a drainpipe. Got a tip off regarding safe haven investments? His slippery fingers were all over the phone dials placing positions. Overheard a discussion on an innovative hedging strategy? He was on to it before you could say, "Two billion dollars."
Amazing, a true talent. Like the rest of us. Young (ish, Herr Stickler is pushing thirty after all), ambitious, hungry (and not just for food), over paid and over here. Nothing stood in our way.

There was just that very irritating institution called the Swiss National Bank and their insistence on interfering in the market when, really, they should have known better. I mean, the motto "Who dares, wins" was not intended for a national institution trying to protect their currency from positions of unbearable strength.
It was meant for us masters of the universe who were able to defy common sense, throw caution to the wind and gamble away the company's nest egg under the pretext of making eye-watering profits. Sanctioned all the way to the top we were, I'm telling you. Of course, they conveniently deny everything now, claim they had no idea. Pure as the driven snow.

Oh well. Never mind. As Herr Stickler said to me the other day when we exchanged words in the police cell, "At least it wasn't our own money."


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A short(ish) story about kite surfing, car crashes, going commando and crazy hair

Once upon a time there were four friends who regularly went on wind surfing holidays together: LCM, OH, Lady and Dr P. A few years down the line, there were suddenly ten of them, of which six were small people. They still went on holiday together, but had to go everywhere twice.

The second time to apologise.

Do not try ocean swimming when this lot are out
As windsurfing was slowly but surely overtaken by kite surfing in popularity, the four friends steadfastly stuck by the original sport. The kit remained as cumbersome as ever, the sails varied in size according to wind strength, and the boards became more fancy year in, year out. The most popular ones were called ‘Screamer’.

Screamer by name, not by nature, if you are a wuss on the waves
LCM duly did and bailed out. She decided kite surfing was the way to go, but her back had other ideas and reminded her that she should act her age, not her shoe size (which was already substantial anyway at a tidy 41). So she ogled the young fit things instead and their flying machines.

It was hard work.

The friends had hired two cars between them. LCM’s car came minus a rear windscreen wiper, with dials that were in the most peculiar places, scratches all round the paintwork and safety buckles that were reminiscent of a tin can junk modelling concoction made by a ten year old. It was a moving miracle on four wheels.

Lady and Dr P had a far better model. They crashed it.

Stop sign? What stop sign?
LCM was called back to the scene and asked to translate in her best Spanglian. The police turned up, LCM and Lady P were struck dumb by the officers who were over six feet in height and dazzling in uniform. They both donned multiple sparkly earrings. One was female.

Back on the beach there were torsos, tits and tattoos everywhere. OH and Dr P were transformed into lighthouses, not knowing which way to look with all the totty around. It became a great excuse to ‘watch the children’ under the pretence of doing something useful whilst observing the bountiful generosity on display.

Now if she really wanted something to doodle on
I could have lent her a drawing pad
Lady P kept her cool until a threesome in full view packed up to head home. One of the trio appeared to remove the lower half of her bikini as well.

Judge for yourself.

Please missus, don't bend over
Of course, not being one to pass judgement (*cough*), LCM also kept her cool and did her best to appear nonchalant about all the goings on. Until someone said she had crazy hair.

No. Really?

Surely this look will be acceptable in
office next week?
So the moral of the story is: don’t get your tits out* if your car is dodgy and your hair looks like you have stuck your fingers in electric voltage.

* And no, just for the record, I didn’t.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Latest random conversations with my training partner(s)

I swear these become more absurd by the week day.

On Facebook.

BB - SOS. I desperately need a cyclist for London Triathlon relay with me TOMORROW. Any taker? I wanted the Wine Writer and London City Mum but they are not around... sniff sniff

No replies. Aside from one, male, in Brazil. Tsk

BB - Come on people. It is just 40k flat. It is just for fun!
LCM - My flight does not land until 8.30pm. Guess that'd be a little too late?
BB - You never know. I might be getting out of the water then.

Text messages.

LCM - Going to swim at Datchet tomorrow 6.30am. Coming? Our start time on Saturday is 17.40. From one extreme to the other.
BB - Bollocks to 17.40. Datchet tomorrow? To think about.* We'll speak later.
LCM - You are starting to sound like me. Can you write a blog post for me as well? Went for run yesterday, very slow and foot sore. Limping now although that may be due to very high wedges á la BB today at work.

* Brazilian for "I'll have to think about it". Some things get lost in translation. Or texting. Or whatever.

The next day, after BB opts for pool swim and LCM pretends to go to Datchet.

LCM - Afraid I bailed on swim this morning. Foot sore and then rain meant I just rolled over and had another half hour in bed.

No answer.

Next day.

LCM - Happy to report I got my sorry arse out of bed this morning and went for swim at pool. Cannot let the side down! Although only two other blokes in my lane and they kept on lapping me. Must try harder.

No answer.

Next day.

LCM - You do realise that the top Olympic triathletes from around the world are competing tomorrow and our only saving grace is that they start at 08.36 vs our time of 17.40?

No answer.


LCM - Mrs Radio Silence, what time we heading to Hyde Park tomorrow?

No answer. 
LCM starts to panic, just ever so slightly.

Crazy door rap in early morning. It can only be one person.

BB (all smiles and jumping excitedly from foot to foot) - "So, you excited? This is going to be great!"
LCM (wondering how she got sucked in to this one, and cursing WW who is in deepest Norfolk) - "Uhmm. Sure!"
BB - "You don't look too convinced?"
LCM - "I still haven't had any breakfast."
BB - "Me neither! I'm going to the dry-cleaners, want me to take anything for you?"
LCM (contemplates handing over tri-suit, wetsuit, cycling gloves and other paraphernalia) - "No. Thank you."

Races comes. And goes. WW is cursed. A lot. 

Text messages.

LCM - Time of 1hr 46mins 56secs, so not too bad for an old bird.
BB - Well done! Official results? Where did you get them?
LCM - Online now. You were 1hr 39mins 59secs, absolutely brilliant.
BB - Yes!! Sprint was worth it :-)
LCM (takes long swig of well earned beer) - Watching men's elite live on BBC2 now. Slightly different set up for transition for these guys. No crowding or long distance run to get to their bikes!

On Facebook.

LCM - And the truth in numbers, aka BB doing zero training is still superior to me doing zero training. But at least I am a 'Prof' from Italy.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Back shortly

In the meantime, I have been following the advice provided by my HR manager:


Yadda yadda yadda...