Saturday, 27 December 2014

One more thing

Since the last grump-fest, I have survived the 'C' day and it's aftermath - also known as the period when all common sense goes out the proverbial window as people queue for hours, nay days, to get their hands on something that they never even realised they didn't need in the first place anyway, like a 50in TV that will not fit in any shape or form in their 4x6ft kitchen/diner/living room, but hey, who am I to criticise?

Anyway. I have been very busy today.

I decided, for some random reason - possibly related to the strand of post 'C' day craziness alluded to above although I have been nowhere near any shops for a fortnight or longer - to have a look at my Twitter followers.

All 1117 of them.

It makes for some interesting enlightening entertaining reading.
I have broken it down into statistical percentages* for your benefit.

  • mother-and-baby-related (games, toys, clothes, parties, mushed food, organic what-not, purified/amplified/multiplied codswallop tripe, play groups, random things that must appeal to post-natal females somewhere but not me) followers: 57%
  • "I'm a new mum/soon-to-be-mum/mother of eight-and-counting" followers: 23%
  • PR agencies followers: 12%
  • dad/male followers: 4%
  • crazy cat lady followers: 2%
  • writers of erotic fiction followers: 0.5%
  • published authors (in any guise) followers: 6.85%
  • fitness fanatics/triathletes/nutters who run/cycle in any conditions: 1%
  • followers who are actual bloggers I have met: 7%
  • followers who are actual bloggers I have met and liked: 0.25%
  • people who are on Twitter but never actually tweet anything: 9%
  • followers who only follow me (presumably) because I tweet rubbish: 4%
  • followers who only follow me because they see the word 'mum' in my handle but do not bother to read my profile, let alone realise it is in parentheses, ie these: ( and ), for a reason: 71%
  • actual people who make me laugh and I follow back: 11.38%
  • actual people I know in person who make me laugh and I follow out of fear of recrimination: 0%
So there you go. Another little useless bit of nonsense.

I am now going to do something far more productive.

Laundry, anyone?


* I may have made some of these numbers up

ADDENDUM (am getting good at these): what I inadvertently omitted to say at the start of this post is that there was a reason for all this extremely scientific analysis proffered. By idly looking at the LCM Twitter followers I noted that my favourite candidate from this year's series of 'The Apprentice' was actually following me.

I am hoping that it was because of my extremely insightful and amusing tweets shared every Wednesday night for the past twelve weeks. Or possibly not.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

That time of year. Again.

I have written a number of versions about my stance on this time of year.
There was the letter version.
There was the summary version.
There was last year's version.

And undoubtedly plenty more for those who have been unfortunate enough to see me shudder when the 'C' word is mentioned, let alone when the tinsel comes out.

So this year, I thought I would take a leaf out of a recent book - pardon the pun - and tell it as it is.

Ready? Here we go. Hold on to your hats. And the reindeers' reins while you're at it.

Hello friends near and far!

Hope you are all well and looking forward to the festivities.
As ever, I cannot wait for it to be over and January 2nd will not come a moment too soon.
It's been a year of ups and downs here at LCM HQ.

After a stellar year gallivanting round the upper echelons of senior management, things came to an abrupt halt when my replacement finally showed up and took over the role. I'll be honest, that is what interim management is all about ('interim', not 'forever'), but the fact I hadn't even met the new fucker, let alone interviewed him for the role I had prepared, tidied up and restructured did leave me slightly perplexed. Go figure. I did hear mixed reviews about his tenure post departure, so small mercies.
Anyway, that was that and I headed back out into the wilderness of consulting and other management positions. Glory, glory, here I come.

The horizon was pretty bleak.

One upside was finding in the midst of the previous company a fabulous individual with whom I then started working on other new projects. We set up a joint venture and proceeded to get many fingers in many pies (not revenue generating, yet), but BY GAWD it's a bloody hard slog setting up a business and getting things off the ground. You'd think I would know this after some fifteen-odd years in the consulting world, but reality always hits you round the head with a very unsubtle clout, just as a reminder.

I have been feeling like a hamster on an eternal wheel going nowhere in particular. Networking, meetings, proposals, discussions, more networking, more meetings... repeat. Ironic since this management lark and pitching for projects is nothing new, but... ever feel like grabbing people by the lapels and shouting in their faces, "JUST GIVE ME THE BLOODY WORK you fool!"?

Yes, that.

Oh, and then there are the other people who waste your time. Who will not be drawn into any sort of commitment, or agreement, or communication. Yet they persist in stringing you along in the off chance that something, just something, might come good. And milking ideas and proposals you discuss with them -  under the guise of "exploratory talks" - with not a word of thanks or acknowledgment either. Exploratory my arse. The only thing they are exploring is how much they can tap you for ideas and insight and leads without forking out a penny for your services.

Well. They can also fuck right off. Enough.

Same for all the extra 'free' stuff I have been foolish enough (or nice enough, you decide) to take on. I calculated that if I had charged daily rates for all the hours I put in for this type of work, I would probably be able to take a year off. At least.

Which leaves me at the end of 2014, in this time of enforced festive cheer, contemplating what I have become and how the bejeezus this could ever have happened.

I have turned into a SAHM. And a very grumpy one at that.

The 'role' is just not me. It is not what I set out to do when the kids came along. It is not where I ever saw myself at any point in my career. I love my kids, but I hate this role. It depresses me beyond reason even though I should probably be grateful.
Well, I say 'should', but really? It's just not me, like I said. That's it. So gratitude actually has nothing to do with it. Disgruntlement does. In buckets.

But the kids are great. Growing exponentially, eating us out of house and home, and becoming increasingly lippy as they slowly approach the teenage years (another couple years yet to go, not that you'd know it). At least they do their own washing and run errands to the shops for me now - even though they all know my card PIN number, probably not a good thing. Well, given the bank balance it hardly makes any difference really, come to think of it.

The amusement arises from random exchanges, such as Widget declaring with delight that they had a session at school on "religion and sex education". Interesting, I thought. He actually meant 'relationships' and sex education, RSE in school acronym talk. But his version sounded much more fun.

Blossom now states I am "too slow"for her to go running with. She's right, but that's what happens with age. You may become less tolerant, but you also get slower. We have not yet ventured out cycling together, but I dread the occasion as I am liable to be left behind there as well. And that'll be with her on a single-speeder and me on a road bike with gears. Embarrassing.

Mr Man has only a few centimetres more before he reaches my height. On a recent school trip to visit the Weihnacht markets in Germany (departure 10.45pm on Thursday night, return 4am on Saturday morning, no rest for anyone) he had no suitable shoes for the predicted cold weather conditions. He borrowed my Timberland boots, last seen worn by yours truly in a photo with this same child when he was one year old and riding on his father's back in a baby carrier in New Zealand. How did that happen? His verdict? The boots "were okay". Excellent.

OH queries "So what did you do today?" when he gets home in the evenings, then continues to answer emails/take calls/do other stuff while I answer him.

He says he is listening ("I can multitask!") but I put him to the test. I told him I was running away with the postman and that we were planning to adopt a baby gorilla before selling his car to make up the shortfall in my salary. He didn't bat an eyelid, but looked up some fifteen seconds later and merely said, "Hmm, what?" Yes, exactly. Oh, and he still does not 'get' twitter. Never mind.
Thank goodness for Kevin and great friends who keep my spirits up.

So, vale 2014 and may you all rejoice and enjoy the festivities.
I will be thinking up new strategies to drive my business forward and finally get some projects underway that will pay me a living wage, hopefully more.

Until then, OH will be in charge of the cooking, the kids can dismantle the tree, and I will take myself off for a very lengthy solo bike ride, because, I know all too well, no one likes a long face this time of year.

Have fun.


(c) Gary Larson

p.s. (thank heavens for electronic updates) I forgot to add that one of the upsides of not being in full-time gainful employment this year has been spending an inordinate amount of time mucking about on bikes, on runs and in lakes (swimming of course, what did you think?) all of which has led me to complete (for no particular reason aside from 'because they were there' and possibly also 'I did not really think about this thoroughly') the London Marathon, Tough Mudder, the Bacchus Half Marathon - highly recommended - and even get an age category first in the South Coast Triathlon. Get me.
Okay, so they made the latter a duathlon because the sea conditions were so rough "even the lifeguards are refusing to go in the water", but anyway, I got the goody bag, so there. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
It's the small things people, the small things.


Friday, 12 December 2014

Kevin's night of fire (and smoke)

'Twas the last meet up before Christmas.

Almost a full house barring the Aussie Solicitor (flown to warmer climes Down Under for the festivities, most wise) and the Wine Writer (ensconced at a wine and canapés soirée for year five parents, not so wise).

After much joking over the past years about how we have evolved from a simple 'wine-and-cheese-only' into a 'full-blown-sit-down-dinner-complete-with-starter-dessert-selection-of-beverages-mostly-alcoholic-and-cheese-platter-to-boot' bookclub, our gracious host the Lovely Radiographer decided she would lead by example to set the record straight again.

We were served beans on toast.

Well, very posh beans on toast.

Actually, decidedly delicious slightly spicy beans on soda bread toast.

Inspired by a recipe from a book ("the only thing worth photocopying before I donate it back to the raffle from whence I won it last year") and embellished by her enviable culinary skills, her food was scoffed back sooner than you could say "Kevinette".

And there was a cheeseboard. And dessert. And wine.

Did I mention we also had snacks and prosecco upon arrival? It's a tough job being part of Kevin, but someone has to do it.

Anyway, before we sat down to eat, there was much catching up to do and chatting about books, of course. Caught up in all the chaotic noise and banter (we are not the silent types), there was a sudden panic stricken moment followed by a distinct smell of smoke.

Burnt toast. Nothing major, soon remedied and, as mentioned above, of absolutely zero impact on Kevin's hearty appetite. We are a very committed bunch. And a serious bookclub.

The evening passed all too quickly. We did our annual Christmas book exchange (each Kevinette wraps a book up, new or old, puts it in a bag and then we all take turns to select one - very civilised) and then it was already time to head off back home.

With the Botanical Artist and Tough Mudda in the car with me, the conversation continued.
Well, mostly me making disparaging remarks about other drivers, but the banter still flowed as did the laughter.

Never mind that along our route we saw some amazing fireworks near The Oval and a people carrier by Battersea Bridge burst into flames as we drove past it.

The Kevinettes were pretty unfazed. Our main concern was whether the fire brigade has been called (probably) and whether cars blow up when the engine catches fire (they don't apparently, thank you Google).

All part of a normal Kevin outing: no smoke without fire, you see.
That's the way we roll.

flamin' beans baby!


Sunday, 30 November 2014

How not to win new customers

This is not a story about my own business.

This is a story that is related to my business.

This is a story about something pertinent to be being in business in the first place.

This is a story about how a single element can become a stumbling block when those dealing with it are unable to think practically.

This is a story about opening a business banking account.
Bear with me, it's a bit longer than usual.

So. Everything is done online nowadays.
I complete the forms, tick the relevant boxes, provide all the required information.
I receive a phone call the following week to review the details.

Bank: "Is your name Something-Hyphen-Other?"
LCM: "No, my maiden name, which is what I use for work, is Something. My married name is Other."
Bank: "Well, your application says it is Something-Hyphen-Other. Which is it?"
LCM: "I just told you."
Bank: "So is it Something, or is it Other?"
LCM (now getting confused): "It's Something. Other is my married name."
Bank: "Is there a Hyphen?"
LCM: "No. Maiden name Something. Married name Other. No Hyphen. You put that in there, not me."
Bank: "No we didn't."
LCM: "Well I haven't invented it and my application asked for both names, which I gave, and you have put the two together and added the Hyphen."
Bank: "Well, it doesn't match what is listed under your company name at Companies House."
LCM: "Yes it does. I have it here in front of me, I can see it."
Bank: "But there's no Hyphen."
LCM: "We're going round in circles here. YOU put that in there, not me."
Bank: "We have to follow a process. We will cancel the application and you will need to reapply. Using just Something."
LCM: "Oh? Right. Okay, I'll do that then."

Blame the hour, I foolishly agreed to follow this path. And reapplied. And just used my Something maiden name, as this is what I am known by in the business world.

One week on. Another phone call to review the details. Different person.

Bank: "So your name is Something?"
LCM: "Uhmm, yes. It is."
Bank: "But your company is registered to Something Other."
LCM: "Correct."
Bank: "But that does not match your business banking application? It has to match."
LCM: "I applied previously using both names, you added Hyphen, and told me it was invalid. I have now done as requested and you are telling me it is also no good?"
Bank: "We have to follow a process. Your name does not match that at Companies House."
LCM: "I'm delighted you have a process. You seem to vary it according to whom I talk to on the phone. My maiden name is Something, my married name is Other. What do you propose?"
Bank: "You need to prove your identity. Can you take your passport and your marriage certificate to your nearest branch for them to copy and certify?"
LCM (rolling eyes, wondering what is the point of online banking): "If that helps clarify and progress this application? Of course."

And I did.
Passport showing both maiden Something name and married Other name.
Marriage certificate showing both my maiden Something name and OH's Other name.
Copies made, HQ notified, details entered in their systems. Everything in order, told this was all that was required and the application should progress tout suite.

Tout suite my arse.

More days later. Another phone call. Different person. Again.

Bank: "Your company is registered at Companies House with Mrs Something Other as sole director?"
LCM: "Correct."
Bank: "But you are Mrs Something?"
LCM: "Yes. Other is my married name."
Bank: "We cannot accept that."
LCM: "WTF? I did as you requested, took documents to your branch, had them verified, certified, copied, put online in my application to prove I am who I say I am, and you now say you cannot accept it?"
Bank: "We have to follow a process."
LCM: "Hmmm. Interesting, I have heard that before, but somehow your process seems to shift sideways every time I speak to someone different. What do you propose now?"
Bank: "You need to contact Companies House and change your name."
LCM (almost speechless): "What? Why do I need to change my name?"
Bank: "It does not match your application."
LCM (takes cue for sarcasm overload): "So, let me get this right. You tell me you have a process to follow. You tell me how I need to complete my application. You tell me which name to use. You then tell me I have to prove my identity, provide evidence of my maiden and my married name. I comply with all of this and then you tell me I have to CHANGE my name at Companies House? What planet are you lot on exactly?"
Bank: "Your name as registered at Companies House does not match your application."
LCM: "Yes. It does. And I have proven it to you. And you have all the relevant necessary information on my file now."
Bank: "We have a process to follow_"
LCM (now fed up to the back teeth): "Do you know what? I appreciate you have a process. But one that moves the goalposts every time I speak to someone else from your organisation does not bode well at all for our future relationship, business or otherwise. So you can stick your damn process up your backside and delete my application from your systems because I am taking my banking elsewhere."

And I hung up.

And walked into a branch of a new 'can do' bank's branch the very next day and opened a business banking account.

It took all of an hour. Certified, verified, compliant, and valid.
And I only dealt with ONE person.


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


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Things I have learnt over the past few months

  • good friends are forever
  • laughter is still free
  • compliments can come from the most unexpected sources
  • time is valuable
  • networking is all-consuming
  • some contacts are just shite
  • others are brilliant
  • perceptions are deceiving
  • gut instinct is not
  • too much tea makes you wee lots more
  • spending hours at the computer makes your back ache
  • stepping outside is a welcome break
  • doing the laundry is not
  • pitching projects and ideas to new clients is exhausting
  • being a corporate nobody again would be worse
  • retaining a positive attitude is absolutely necessary
  • frustration is part of the deal
  • patience is a virtue
  • so is swearing
  • childcare - meh
  • BBC Radio 4 often begets the 'off' button
  • Barclays is rubbish 
  • headhunters still do my head in
  • empty vessels continue to make the most noise
  • job postings - load of bollocks
  • being fed up is unproductive
  • persistence is invaluable


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Doing my head in

Lots of networking.
Not enough (paid) work.
Ridiculous email replies.
Feckin' cold callers.
Doorsteppers wanting 'donations'.
At eight o'clock in the evening.
While I am trying to get dinner.
And sort out homework.
And figure who needs what kit for which activity tomorrow.
The cost of shopping for food and basics.
Which is getting higher.
Despite inflation 'falling'.
Indicating therefore that no government minister ever uses a supermarket.
Or is indeed in touch with reality.
A bit like OH.
Who despite twenty-one years plus of marriage has still categorically failed to master the basics of Italian.
And therefore announced to all and sundry last night that we were having 'pene' with our dinner.
Instead of 'pane'.
Which means bread.
Not penis.

(c) Gary Larson


Friday, 12 September 2014

Kevin's new member(s)

It's been a long time since we inducted new members into Kevin.

We did have grand plans about questionnaires, committees, admittance panels and examinations, but they sort of fell by the wayside as we are a very serious book club. All that stuff is far too airy fairy for the likes of us.

We could only really use one surefire method to establish whether nominated individuals should be invited to join our mêlée: would they return?

Despite our penchant for a) senility, b) going off on tangents, c) scoffing the host's food and wine, and d) laughing at inappropriate comments, we have very high standards:
  1. read
  2. discuss
  3. eat
  4. drink
  5. eat more
  6. drink more (unless driving)
  7. discuss other things
  8. return to discussing book(s)
  9. ooh look more food
  10. top up? yes please
  11. what book?
  12. who?
  13. sorry what are we talking about now?
  14. bwahahahahahaha
  15. oh yum dessert too
  16. wassertime?
  17. who is hosting next
  18. can we have a short book please
  19. must go to the loo before heading home
You get the picture. It is exhausting stuff. And cerebral, that goes without saying.

So we issued invitations.
And waited with baited breath (well, not quite, but anyway) to see whether they would meet our exacting criteria.

*cue momentous pause*

I am delighted to announce that we have not one but two new Kevinettes: Tough Mudda and La Diplomat. Of course not their real names, but appropriate.
You have to be willing to be parodied to join our lot.

Of course, we haven't told them that yet.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Nothing in particular, aside from numbers

After being soundly beaten by Mr Man on Saturday morning by a margin of five minutes and twenty-eight seconds (and yes, I *was* trying my best) at our local Park Run, I started to look at some other numbers - randomly, of course - and began to compile a list of no particular importance (or relevance) which has been doing the rounds of my poor little brain.

  • Twitter followers - one day they are over eleven hundred, the next below, then up, then down, up, down, up, down, more than the proverbial whore's knickers. Why? Do other twitterati randomly decide to follow me, then are suddenly overcome with a notion of purity and god-fearing duty that requires them to exorcise any individual that swears in a public forum? No idea. Views welcome. (I am secretly hoping the ones dropping off are those infuriating mummy/baby-related accounts that should never be following me in the first place btw)
  • weight gain/loss and associated training - prior to the summer escapade, I was doing exercise of some sort approximately three to four times a week. My weight - according to the scales - went up, down, up, down, up, up, up, same, bit down, up. I return from doing close to bugger all over a fortnight's break (excluding kite surfing lessons, more below), eating whatever comes across my plate, drinking more beer/wine than is necessary, scoffing ice-cream like it is going out of fashion, and check the numbers. Hey ho, guess what? I weigh less than I did upon departure. Okay, only just, but anyway.
  • kite surfing lessons - you learn in stages:
Level one: launching, manoeuvring and landing the kite; walking with the kite, learning to change directions.
Level two: doing the same, but in the water; learning how to control the kite with one hand while you 'swim'. 
Level three: body dragging (your own, not some random individual you stumble across on the beach, although that happens as well); heading offshore, heading back onshore, trying not to a) drown, b) take out other kite surfers, or c) end up over the Gibraltar straits in Africa. 
Level four: doing all the above but with a 'small' surfboard which you somehow have to manipulate on to your totally uncooperative feet so that you can then manoeuvre the kite to gain power and - voilà - stand up and actually kite surf.
Level five: face plant, crash kite, relaunch, face plant, drink seawater, keep kite flying, have feet trailing somewhere behind you, grapple for board, lose board, crash kite, relaunch, body drag, drink more seawater, head for shore, exit like stunned mullet, hand kite to instructor so he can head out and locate lost board and return to you. Repeat.

Okay, I made the last level up, but you get the picture. Great fun btw.

  • pots, pans and general cooking utensils - my longstanding and erstwhile (and momentarily incapacitated) training partner BB was chez LCM for lunch with her entourage over the weekend. She marvelled at how tidy and clean the kitchen was given that our cleaner only comes once a week. "How do you do it?" she asked. I told her we have a 'golden rule', and the cherubs obligingly chorused for her, "Clean up as you go along, especially when cooking!" Shame, I added, that the only person who did not quite abide by this mantra is OH when dishing up meals. Why use one knife when you can use seven? Why present food in an oven-to-table dish when you can redistribute it and use one, nay three, different ones? Who needs to use the same tea mug when you are working from home and can express yourself liberally and line up five in a morning alone? Oh, and that strange thing called a 'dishwasher'? The plates magically walk themselves into it. Likewise cups, glasses, forks and spoons. Not to mention the six pots, three frying pans and two oven trays utilised for making fish and chips for dinner. Fascinating stuff.
But he does cook, and pretty well. 
Small mercies.

I will now go and find something more erstwhile to focus on.
Like work projects.
The numbers might be more productive there.

(c) Scott Adams


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Kite surfing for the 'older' generation

For some years now I have wanted to learn how to kite surf.
In fact, for a rather long time, come to think about it, ever since first spotting the early uptake as way back as 1998 in Tarifa, on Costa de la Luz.

Back then, there were a couple of dudes mucking around with these big flying things, carrying around more paraphernalia and lengths of strings and small surf boards and harnesses and helmets than you could shake a stick at.

Oh, how we windsurfers scoffed at them.

"Passing fad," I think we even muttered under our breath, silently in awe of the ease of set up and acrobatics being displayed on the waves. "It'll never catch on, it's far too windy here for it to be safe!" we continued, shaking our heads.

Fast forward sixteen years - yes, we have been returning here that long - and the kites now outnumber the windsurfers. By a ratio of about one hundred to one.

Don't believe me?

Okay, spot the windsurfer then:

clue: they're not in the water

So kite surfing beckoned.

For a number of reasons:

  • I am a useless windsurfer (get on the board, wobble a lot, haul the sail up, head out, come back, fall in, repeat until my knees are raw, my hands numb and my back totally buggered) and never quite mastered the beach start, let alone the water start - mind you, trying to learn the latter in a large swell with three foot waves, a howling twenty knot wind and cold Atlantic water is unrelenting at the best of times, so I'll excuse myself on that front
  • I like a challenge (this includes having a lesson in four different languages, simultaneously)
  • I could be as good, if not better, than OH at this (he too is a novice here, unlike windsurfing)
  • the instructors are great fun (read: tanned, fit, entertaining, and happy to massage your shoulders whilst telling you to "Relax!" as the kite catapults you headfirst onto the beach in front of an amused audience of professionals ducking for cover)
  • it gets me away from the demands of young children on the beach ("Is it lunchtime yet?" "Can I have an ice cream?" "My brother/sister is not playing with me/does not want to go in the water/is kicking sand/buried my hat/took my towel/smashed my architectural masterpiece...")
  • it just looks FUN

So I have taken the plunge. Or rather, OH and I both have (okay, he started last year, but I caught up to his level with a couple of sneaky lessons before he arrived). 

Stay posted. I might just be able to show some footage at some stage - although logistics are eluding me at present and I have visions of my Nokia Lumia being trashed by sand, sea and wind by one of the well-meaning offspring as they attempt to capture proceedings.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this clip.

This girl was so good until I decided to catch her on film.



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Sushi me up baby

It's funny, isn't it, how some some things come round to bite you in the arse backside behind haunt you.

Not more than two days ago I was chatting with a group of friends about how "I don't do guest or sponsored posts on my blog", recalling the idiocy of many PR approaches ('insert name of blogger [here] and send out random email with non-sensical offer that has nothing to do with who they are or what they are interested in') and the absolute joy of that fabulous key, also known as [delete]

Anyway. Lo and behold within the space of twenty-four hours yesterday I found myself agreeing to take part in something that caught my fancy, for two reasons:

  1. the PR lady (Elly, super efficient media woman) had gone to the trouble of actually reading the LCM blog and passing an amusing comment on my last post; and,
  2. it involved food, more specifically sushi.

As my close friends will attest, the LCM offspring trio are somewhat partial to such fare. A recent holiday outing saw me asking for an overdraft facility when the bill was presented.

So was I 'up' for a lesson* with a sushi chef? Of course. Just don't have me saying that on repeat after a few drinks (sushi chef, that is).

Hmmm... sushi sushi shushi shitzu shit...

Less than twelve hours later and I showed up at The Atrium at Westfield as directed.

It was packed.

straining at the barriers, I tell you

I presented myself, gave my name, watched the nice lady run through the list (which I could read upside down)... and then heard those infamous words: "You're not registered."

I had figured this out already - my upside-down list-reading skills are invaluable in this regard - and showed her the email from my newest bestest media friend Elly.

"Am so!" I retorted.

She looked me up and down. I had even gone to the trouble of dressing up and putting make-up on, yet she still did not look convinced.

"Oh." she said. "Are you a blogger?" she queried, trying hard not to look at me in a condescending manner.

"Uhmm, yes..." I answered, not sure what relevance this had.

"We are seriously oversubscribed for this," she said, "But I might be able to squeeze you in."

And I was allowed into the Holy Quadrant.

Start time came and went. The venue was even more packed. So lucky they let me in.

yes ma'am, the crowds were thronging

Finally a few more people meandered into the enclosure, including one rather intense American who queried everything ("Is this tatami mat plastic? Where do I get one? What way up does the nori sheet go? How much salmon on my roll? Is this enough rice? Should I add wasabi to everything? How much rice? What about my chef's hat, do I wear it? And the apron? Is this too much rice? What way does the nori sheet go again? Can I cut it? Will it rip? What if it rips? Where is my lawyer?...)

No matters. Suffice to say that the sushi chef from L'atelier des Chefs was very patient and very good.
I learnt how to make sushi rolls.
I got very sticky fingers.
I did not get told off for using the bowl of water for washing my hands.
I resisted licking the rice off my extremities.
I refrained from scratching my nose.

I did, however, manage some photos.



voilà - eat!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to clean my phone which still smells a tad fishy.

* yes, they paid me to attend this event, best decision I have made all week btw - PR numpties, take note and LEARN from the lovely Elly how to do it properly


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Open letter to Mr Misery Guts

Dear Mr Miserable Bastard

As I stood this morning in the fine drizzle cheering and clapping the thousands of amateur cyclists in the RideLondon-Surrey100 with Mr Man, Blossom and Molly dog (whose owners were taking part in the event), you accosted me quite aggressively and demanded to know "How long is this going on for?"

Aside from the fact that a preliminary "Good morning!" or even a cursory "Excuse me?" might have softened what came next, I was stunned by the vitriolic attack you then launched after I mentioned the event was continuing for some time yet ("at least until this afternoon" were my words).

"If you need to cross the road, you can do so more safely round the corner, just watch for gaps between the cyclists!" I offered.

"Do they stop for lights?" you asked angrily.

"Err, no, it's a well publicised closed road event!" was my reply.

And then you were off on your rant.

"A bloody inconvenience!" you snarled. "It shouldn't be allowed, totally ridiculous, damn nuisance for us locals..."

I interrupted you. "I'm a local too," I said, "And I think it is a brilliant community event, really exciting and so much fun!"

I was smiling broadly and still clapping the riders whilst this exchange was taking place.

You were not to be swayed from your staunch opinion.

"They should do it somewhere else, it's a disgrace..."

"No it's not!" I replied. "It's fantastic, look how many people are taking part, an amazing achievement for all those participating!"

But alas you were not for the turning, and continued to rant and rave and shake your fists at the swarms of pedal pushers racing past.

"Dreadful, totally inconsiderate..." You went on and on. I rolled my eyes and laughed at you.

And thankfully you then stormed off with your own little black thundercloud hovering persistently over your head.

I did shout after you - quite loudly, I'm sure you heard me - that "You should join in! It might make you a happier person!"

Never mind. I felt sorry for you. Just like I pity the individual who criticised the numerous neighbours who play social volleyball (open to anyone who wishes to join in, might I add) on a grassy area of our communal development. An individual who demanded in their acrimonious email to the residents' committee that (I quote) it should "cease immediately" and they were disappointed that such people were "just interested in their own enjoyment".

Yes, really. Maybe the two of you are related?

So. Mr Miserable. Why are you so displeased to see thousands of your fellow beings taking part in an outdoor activity that brings together all ages, sizes, shapes and abilities? Does it highlight your own social ineptitude? Or maybe you just got out of the wrong side of bed? Or were suffering the aftereffects of a hangover?

Because, you know what? Smiling and cheering on those who take part is a great - and rewarding - way to enjoy a sport, even if you cannot be on a bike yourself.

And it might just make your own life a little brighter.
Especially at 8am on a rainy Sunday morning.

Love and happiness,

Heading up Sheen Lane towards Richmond Park -
the masses en biciclette


Monday, 4 August 2014

Wishful thinking

So there I was racking my brain about how many other people in my network I should be connecting with and who else we could be speaking to and whether it was appropriate to start setting up appointments for September when the bulk of the working population is back in their offices and if I could tap a few other individuals for opportunities to partner with my brilliant business associates and me... and then an invite appeared in my inbox.

Mr Al-Huzzah Al-Maktoum Al-Geezer El-Shabel In-Harrods 'would like to connect with you on LinkedIn'.


Quick search on the internet and the aforesaid Sheikh El-Spondoolies seemed absolutely fair dinkum. He was a real person, he did have the (very) high position of authority he purported, and he also was, comfortingly, not blacklisted by any of the credit ratings or data agencies.

Hmmm, I thought. Too good to be true?

I wrote back to him - without accepting his invite, I might add, I'm picky like that.

"Dear Mr El-Dollarz

Thank you for extending an invitation to LinkIn with you. Whilst I am flattered to be the recipient of such attention, I would also appreciate understanding in what capacity you believe we could work together?

Kind regards,

Within a nanosecond I received a reply.

Ho hum, not quite what I was hoping for.

Would I like to take part in a project financing programme where Mr El-Dollarz' private equity and venture capital company will "re-invest through project funding in investment loan to third party investors, project owners on a 2.5% interest rate per annum on long term investment projects that can generate up to 10% ROI within the period"?

No. I don't get it either. And I have been involved in financial markets and investment banking most of my working life.

So thanks. But no thanks.

Oh, and by the way: what 'period' are you talking about?
Because if it's within my lifetime, that's a pretty crap return by any standard.

Back to the drawing board.
Like they say: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

(c) Scott Adams


Friday, 18 July 2014

Björn LCM

Another year, another opportunity to dress up, have a drink, dance like a loon and have more laughs than you can shake a stick at.

Or a set of flares. Of the wearable kind, that is, not the distress ones.

Yes. The advent of that fabulous spoof Abba group, Björn Again.
Too much fun for any blog post to actually do justice to the event.

Suffice to say that even if you are the most die-hard miserable git with zero sense of humour, standing in front of the stage and singing along (loudly, off key), doing the dance moves, and having an absolute whale of a time is guaranteed to lift your spirits, have you toss all semblance of dignity aside and join in the overwhelming sense of fun that everyone is experiencing.

If you are having a crap day, I can highly recommend it.

If you are having a great day, this will be the total icing on the cake.

Fan. Tas. Tic.

So thank you for the music and groove on down baby!


Yadda yadda yadda...