Straight as a die

On the one hand, mourning Albert Finney is such a sad thing. Watching Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story is a curious balm. Two men who re wrote masculinity.

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Dahn Sahf, innit.

We’re not in Holyhead anymore, Toto

For the last two evenings I have been billeted in some very (for me) swanky hotels in a place where, back in the day, was something of a stamping ground…

They say nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. I agree, it’s a thing of the past… But visiting long lost places is curiously satisfying.

I am here, of course, to celebrate the wedding of my god-daughter, Freya, and her fiance, David. Like Freya’s parents, Mawgan & Sue, they have been together from a very young age. Must be the genes xx.

It struck me that I have now known Mawgan over 40 years. Sue almost as long too…

I am currently esconsed in the Great Hall in Sonning. The room is amazing. The shower, bliss. I am currently sat in a ver funky bar / restaurant being the old fart propping up the bar. One of my many talents. The prices are eye-popping but it’s a rare treat, so.

Although I am on me tod, I am looking forward to seeing the Celtuc Cousins, heh, I wish Jill were here but even so I am signing all cards and gifts from us both.

Last night I was in Cantley House hotel which was just as nice but much quieter…

In this land of plenty, I wonder why a mutton dressed as lamb barkeep needs to pinch my change, all of 5pee…

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Domestic Goddessing

On a mucky Saturday, I am being highly domesticated…

Just baking bread, that loaf I made last week was pretty good so I am going again with a tweak or two… If it looks presentable I may put a picture up.

As I do this, I have done laundry and have been trying different salad things. (Please note, I have endeavoured to do these two things as separately as possible).

I’m going to use some of that as a stir-fry later with chicken that I’m preparing now.

As I do this, I am listening to the footy as Brighton are away at Stoke. Brighton are currently leading 0-1 with an apparently amazeballs goal from Jose Izquierdo (again). Stoke playing better in the second half so hoping B&HAFC keep it cool.

Pootle pootle pootle.


Also, on a totally separate issue, I am enjoying (to a point) the Orville at the minute. I am thrilled that I have been sent a sneak preview of next weeks episode where a space dog goes on the rampage and tries to eat the Orville. (See pic).

Back soon 🙂

Bugger… Shaquiri equalises for Stoke…

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Here we are again, then…

Filed under “I wish I’d done this years ago” is having a moment of clarity about life.

I spend quite some time, arguably *too* much time, thinking about life (mine) and the myriad ways I find to screw it up.  I have become quite the expert over time, but I forgive myself by saying that each experience (no matter how repetitive) is to be learned from.

I told myself this even though I always got the same result. My genius never let me on to the fact that this was clearly in contrast to actual outcomes.

Still, yuh learn, eh?

Well, thankfully I hope I finally have. Let me explain…

I have discovered over that past few years that I am not, actually, a slave to my foibles. I quit smoking five years ago last August, cold turkey.  I was able to do this as I had a way to help me when the ‘cravings’ attacked me. If you have ever had a major coughing jag where you actually wonder if you’ll be able to breathe in again or if your number is up, then you too will know what I mean. Coupled with awful shoots of chest pains when this happened, it was simple to use this memory as a way to forget wanting to have a smoke.

A side benefit, and something I need to apologise to so many people about, is the whole “smoke-free” clothes.

When I smoked, I was under the delusion that if I was at a friends house who was non-smoking, I would demonstrate my magnanimity by going outside to smoke in the misguided belief that there was no impact inside the house when you returned.  This is not the case. Now being a confirmed non-smoker, if anyone ever comes to the office who smokes, I can barely stay in the same room.  To all of you who put up with that from me, I really am so sorry.

Amazingly, at the same time that I quit smoking, I also stopped biting my nails. A small victory but one I am quite pleased with. I enjoy not sticking my fingers in or near my mouth by stopping these two things. It feels much more hygienic apart from anything else.

So, after a few upbeat years, last year was the culmination of a few downbeat ones.  As expected, I had managed to fall into mental patterns that had slowly suffocated me. In doing that, I alienated people who I had been overjoyed to have in my life.  (And the very idea of being overjoyed was not something that came naturally…) Yet, I managed to screw that up.

As ever, these things never arrive singly and two years ago, I lost a good friend to sudden illness. My friendship with Rick was something really special. I will always miss him I think, cantankerous old git that he was… This was at a time where I was losing touch with someone very special to me and, again, I saw that as my doing (subconsciously).

I’m sure most of us have odd thoughts that always stay with us. One of mine was being morbidly stuck on the age of my Mum when she died. She was 55.  Probably from when it happened I began to obsess over that age and my approach to it.  I kept imagining it was a clock ticking down for me. (See my bit about this blog where I explain that it’s *my* logic, not *actual* logic…) Anyway, last December I turned 56. (Technically, I passed the age my Mum had been in March last year but that isn’t neat and tidy for me so my CDO (that’s OCD in the CORRECT order, dammit!) kicked in and ruled that December was the transition.) Which brings me to the third strand of abstention and possibly the most important.

I think I may have SAD. Every winter is incredibly difficult for me and the period over Xmas is the worst of all.  I withdraw from everything except work and places where I have to be physically.  It is (for me) the worst feeling in the world.  For pretty much every Xmas period for the last 25 years has seen me doing damage to myself mentally and, through ‘self-medicating’, physically.   I have always been able to drink.  I can put prodigious amounts away if I choose. I don’t actually like it. The reason I had done this was to simply shut my head down. If I am unconscious I cannot think, therefore I can’t be depressed.  (My logic, remember.)  Of course, one usually inevitable consequence of going unconscious is that, more often than not, you’ll wake up.

Going through that incredibly dull and monotonous process of remonstrating with myself for taking that option again was exhausting.  I mean bone-wearyingly exhausting. Yet it was the only process I knew.  I had an ability to convince myself that I was totally in charge of this whole process.  I don’t know what impact this had ‘in public’, you know, work etc. because nobody said anything to me.

To give some insight into self-worth, if people *did* know and I worked with them or socialised with them, I wonder why nothing got said… (I know it wouldn’t have been easy, of course, but if you care for someone enough, you do the hard things, no? Maybe not. This bit is an aside, btw, this is something I own.)

So, approaching last December, a lot of points are coming together. My obsession with a number, my mental health going through that season of hell again, and yet another period of punishing myself.  Everything went exactly as expected until Xmas Eve.

On Xmas eve, I had been on Xmas break for a couple of days. I was at a *very* low ebb.  About 12 years ago, a good friend had talked me out of suicide.  I had always had the notion that if I ever got to that point again, I would not call anyone, I would just do it. It seemed completely chickenshit to me that every time you felt you might carry that out, you’d call someone instead of sticking to your plan. As a form of criticism, it’s pretty emphatic.

However. I have no idea why (other than some nagging idea that I do actually exist for a reason that may be important) but somehow, at that low ebb, rather than taking the drastic step, I asked myself why that was the only option. Why was this process always played out this way?

So I decided to make a new option, just for me.  I decided to see if I could take the same approach to the process that I did with smoking and nail biting.  I found a feeling that I could focus on when I thought I wanted to drink, and a feeling to focus on when I was feeling low… and it works.

I haven’t even wanted a drink since Xmas Eve, my mental equilibrium is staying pretty level (certainly compared to the roller-coaster of previous seasons), and I certainly feel healthier which has a circular benefit. And I’m glad I have the self-control to do this.

My greatest hope is that I’ll be someone who can be related to. It may be pure coincidence but that person I was losing just got back in touch…

I wonder if I have been able to do this as I have passed that number? It may be so, but I’ll take that if it is.

The most important thing is that I’m doing this for me. I’m stronger than I knew.


Feel free to join in.


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Bitchy TV review

Not sure what ITV are aiming for with James Martin’s new show but they are missing.
Linda Robson looks disinterested when the camera flicks to her without warning. (If they ever do a show about the later life of Wendy Richards btw, or Eastenders needs a ghost, you heard it here first.) Whoever thought that way too long segment with cooked birds (oh I just got that as well) with feathers was a good idea needs to get out more.
JM needs to shave and think how he appears, he’s not got a good look for tv.
I may try it again with the sound on (I’m listening to awesome soul at the mo’) so it may improve but there are way too many food shows on already and this adds precisely zero.
I like JM usually, but this needs serious rethinking imo.

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Just read…

The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2)The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finished this one, once you get the hang of Ellroy’s style you can burn through them quickly as he has a distinctive rhythm. There is so much detail and minutiae to get a grip of and the rhythm helps with this.

The story revolves around three law enforcement types covering american obsession with communism in the 40’s and 50’s and a series of very grisly murders. (If you’ve read The Black Dahlia be advised that it’s a step up from the gore in that one…)

One odd follow on is the character of Turner ‘Buzz’ Meeks. If you’ve seen LA Confidential, you’ll know Meeks as a low-life ex-cop who’s a bagman and driver for the lookalike escort service. His character is much redeemed in this. I’ll read White Jazz next and see if he appears in that one and where his character goes.

Good fun, recommended.

View all my reviews

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Sunshiney Day…

Some older pictures of South Stack and Peibio Beach… Enjoy.

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Pootle Pootle Pootle…

Having one of those days where you find yourself just drifting about, thought-wise.

Best news I have had for a long time is the news that Jali is coming in October. Simply cannot wait to see her again. Looking forward to getting out and about as we’ll be mobile for a change! 🙂

Seems the chemo treatment has done what it was meant to (or at least all signs point that way). I’m still feeling really tired but that may be partly due to trying to adjust to using a sleep apnea machine… jeez that is a weird thing. When it blows air right in your face when you’re asleep it feels like you’re drowning. For the past two weeks I have been sleeping on the sofa as I couldn’t sleep at all… no wonder I am tired.

I still have to wait before I can get a cat. The reasoning is, if this treatment *doesn’t* take then I’ll have to restart a new programme of chemo and begin with the steroids again and the immunity will disappear again… I told the consultant that if things are going well after the first check-up (in about 5 weeks) then I don’t care, I am getting a fucking cat. He said to me “is it that important?” with the impression he thought it rather ridiculous. Yes it is that important to me, thank you. Why do people feel the need to diminish things I want for fucks sake… Grr.

Getting on top of the flat. Re-jigged everything this week and now working on getting the resultant chaos organised. Feels like there is more room now, hurray etc.

It’s been rather humid and overcast here a bit in the last week or so but when the sun is out (as it is now) the island just looks incredible. Might take a walk with the camera a bit later and stick a few pictures up…

Pootle, Pootle, Pootle…

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Local Papers in the USA.

As well as a love for reading, another thing I am incredibly grateful for having in my life is the love of travelling. Seeing different places and experiencing their culture(s) is just an amazing thing. Thanks to being in a military family, I was well used to travelling to different places and I was lucky enough to keep doing that when I started earning money.

I’ve been to the States three times. First time was to NYC (stayed at The New Yorker Hotel and it was most ossum,) I discovered some things I never knew. First I discovered, on getting to my room on the 34th floor, how to instantly develop vertigo. I dumped my cases, checked out the room and went to look out the window. As I did this I leaned on the air conditioning unit, not realising that these machines are not fixed into place. When I looked and leaned the damn thing shifted and I suddenly felt like I was about to crash out of the window… Then later in the holiday me and the ever awesome Sarah Watford (with whom I went) reinforced this new fear by going up the Empire State Building. Holy crap. The beautiful thing about the New Yorker of course is that it is a wonderful statement of Art Deco.
New Yorker Hotel
One other memory I have is seeing Salt n Pepa arrive there too. Heh.

Second time I went to the US was a two week trip to San Diego (which is where the point of this post comes in (you’ll be glad to hear!)), I stayed with a friend in Front Street. Had a great time pootling about in Old Town and just wandering around. In the middle weekend I took a trip to Tijuana and was gobsmacked at the local crafts, the leather and metal craftshops (and the cheap prices!) were absolutely gorgeous.

I was also slightly amused at the fact I needed my passport so I could get back into the states… (the appalling poverty that attends the incredibly long queues to leave the Mexican border is something I won’t ever forget I think…)

Anyhoo, I took to reading The San Diego Union Tribune. I am a sucker for broadsheet papers anyway but the quality of journalism was really high, compared to our local papers was like chalk and cheese. Our papers have all of the depth that goes with reporting about coffee mornings and funny shaped vegetables, whereas the UTSD journo’s actually wrote about what was happening in a much more in-depth way on a local, national and global way.

The last time I went to the States was a two week driving holiday. I have many stories about that but driving around California & Nevada was terrific for picking up local papers and, again, the quality was great.

Of course, when Jali was living in Atlanta I took to reading The Atlanta Journal & Constitution website.

I haven’t checked out Delaware papers yet but I will. The reason I am waffling about all this is due to the aftershock of the awful events in Charleston. The major media outlets are doing what they do in their insensitive and downright ugly way. But the local paper is knocking them out of the park.

Under its masthead, the Post & Courier proudly states that it has won the Pulitzer Prize. I am not at all surprised. Even a mis-step (like the unfortunate blunder of a gun ad sticker appearing on the front page on the day the shooting was reported) was immediately apologised for which is how it ought to be. Mistakes happen unfortunately, the trick is, own up, do what you can to make it not happen again.

Have a look at the site and read the proper background to what happened and the people affected.

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Mixes through the decades…

Seventies to Eighties…

Some good stuff here.

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