Oh the irony

Odd feeling getting off the train this morning and not getting on my bike. The descent in the tube matched the depths of irritation that these bowels of London always bring. Tube was packed, hot and horrid even at 7:40 in the morning. I’d forgotten how rude everyone is.

Crossing The Strand as the electronic pedestrian flashed, I was nearly mown down by a cyclist. This would have been whimsically amusing had three more not flashed past in the blink of an eye nailing me to the crossing afraid to move.

Still it was my fault, I was on the crossing so I knew the risks.

I want my bike back. Being a pedestrian is no fun at all.

Shrubbery coffins

Oh some would call these receptacles of all things flowery plant pots but in our hands they are ovalised death zones, black holes of destruction, the terracotta personification of “abandon hope all yea who enter here“. We’re plant killers you see, not by choice but, for reasons which escape us, anything which flowers stands more of a chance of survival planted at ground zero during an atomic explosion. A lot more chance.

As we weeble towards the door wobblying under a hundred quids worth of soon to be organic cadavers, you can almost hear a nasty whisper from the surviving plants “welcome to the valley of death”. For a sweet but short moment our latest compost food looks exactly like the little card accompanying it. Latterly these are papery gravestones spread throughout the garden each marking the final resting place of a once lovely bloom. Sometimes accompanied by pathetically sad lifeless stems but mostly positioned over an unhealthy brown sludge that was once a flower and before that, money.

Thing is we have almost no trouble with other plantlife – Fruit, vegetables and of course weeds flower (sic) with wild abandon. It’s like a bloody cottage industry especially the legions of fruit marching up the garden garrisoning flowerbeds and annexing new territory through perennial summer campaigns. We have a rhubarb auditioning for the main part of the Rocky Horror Show and sufficient raspberry’s to power the WI for a thousand years.

It’s the kids I feel sorry for, here’s a random dinnertime conversation which captures their horror:

“What’s for tea, please not more raspberry’s?”
“No, no, way better than that, Raspberry Surprise”
Suspicious: “What’s the surprise”
“Raspberry and Rhubarb pie with unidentified green stuff”
Plaintive: “Aw Dad”
“Play your cards right and it’s Rhubarb Crumble for afters with a slug’n’snail custard”

But flowers, no. Buy ‘em, plant ‘em, kill ‘em. The planticide register reads:

Hoster: Death by drowning
Snowdrop: Slug attack
: Cat Strike
Very expensive purple thing: Burned to a crisp.

I could go on but you get the idea. Even the houseplants that survive our frankly woeful watering regime succumb to greenfly, whitefly or occasionally I think lose the will to live.

But the solution is at hand. A quick wibbly scan shows me plastic flowers of almost every description. Surely, not even we could kill those? In the meantime, I’m going to harvest the raspberries.

With a chainsaw.

And they’re out!

It was all a bit touch and go. The nurse wasn’t keen to remove all the stitches as apparently “it’s still a bit loose and sloppy up there”. She was referring to my knee I think. Still I refused to leave the sanctuary of the out patients ward until she relented under my extreme whining.

We agreed that I couldn’t cycle on it for a week (boo) and that it’d have to have a dressing so the “bag knee” shower attachment has some work yet (double boo) but that’d it fine for me to go riding in Scotland next week.

I didn’t mention that it was kind of super rough off road riding with big rocks, huge climbs, knee jarring descents etc. There didn’t seem to be the right time to mention it.

Still my mood of extreme lightness was dimmed to the almost black by the belated realisation that as from tomorrow I’ll be back in the sweaty underworld of the tube. Oh how much fun is that going to be? Almost none is the optimistic answer.

Also the bike that is going to scotland is almost as wobbly as my knee. It has suffered a complex component failure that requires a plethora of tools I don’t even know where to buy. Apparently just twatting it with a hammer isn’t going to solve the problem.

Every cloud and all that tho – an excuse to buy some more shiny tools to adorn the “wall of death” where the other implements of destruction lie waiting for their next victim.

Progress of a sort

Now there is probably a serious social anthropometric statement to be made here. But we’ll ignore such pretentious nonsense and instead focus on the amusing backlash against product marketing and demand creation. Christ that sounds almost as bad – let me tell you what I’m talking about.

Work gave me one of these.

It’s super clever – a synchronised repository for all my e-mail, text messages and calendaring. Essentially a phone shaped device pretending to be half a PC and if that’s not enough it’s equipped with more communications modes than NASA; Bluetooth, infrared, GPRS, Analogue and an electronic facsimile of morse code. Okay, I made one of those up but honestly, the last time I saw so much amazing stuff in a small package, it was filled with class A drugs.

Obviously that was a long time ago and I was only looking. Ahem.

Oh it’s a phone as well. It has a decent camera and if that wasn’t enough offers several million ring polyphonic ring tones, infinite classes to which you can assign contacts, some kind of smart dialling where the number is whipped straight out of your mind and dialled before you can say “what the fuck is happening here” and other advanced stuff buried deep in a manual that is comically four times the size of the device. I can’t just call it a phone, I’ll get sued.

There is just one incy problem with it. It’s a bloody useless phone. Actually it’s pretty useless as a PC as well and the camera is just an excuse to toss drunken photos of body parts to your mates over a communication medium that was developed for targeting missiles. Is it just me that sees this as a tad ironic? Apparently porn is going to be the biggest growth sector (excuse me?) on these multi media monstrosities with Video taking the lead for those who can’t wait to get home to wank over keyboards. Maybe I’m getting old but it smacks of desperation. Download a 30 second image on a tiny screen and knock one out in the toilets. Maybe it’s time to bring back those tyre catalogues that used to adorn the walls of garages. It’d save a fortune on GPRS charges.

Anyway I’m delighted to hear that it’s not just me that’s whinging at the apparent solutions looking for problems or should that be revenue. The ubiquitous Nokia 6210 is now the most sought after phone on Ebay after it went out of production two years ago.

It has no camera, the battery lasts for ever, you can make and receive calls and – get this kids – that’s it! No Java Games, no cut down operating system running Anti Virus scans and bastardised PC applications. No way of receiving your email but decent size keypads so you can text without playing hunt the key. It is essentially a phone. What a fantastic idea.

Apparently they are now selling on Ebay for more than the original retail price. Now that’s properly funny.

I was going to write some snide comment about what drives product development and how we’re all slaves to marketing in that we don’t care what’s best, we only care what’s new. Still having looked at my extensive bike collection with no component older than a decent wine, it may smack of hypocrisy, so I’ll shut up.

Well for the moment at least.

Front end washout

Not some strange meteorological system rather an overarching description of the Leigh family three’s summer accidents. First Verbal discovered gears and understeer at about the same time and binned the front end on a gravel track corner leaving her with a line of scars running from cheek to ankle. This took quite a lot of ice cream and attention before she accepted it was probably non fatal.

Then my attempt to imbibe Chiltern flint through high speed osmosis spookily also at the painful end of a wheel tucking under on a fast corner. Twice might be a coincidence but today it became clear this is some kind of genealogical malfunction that affects this entire branch of the family.

The local cycling route sees us head up the road and then down into the cemetery (verbal quote “dad, are there lots of dead people here?”) which has a simple concrete loop on a slight gradient. Random disappeared down the hill with all the cautiousness and care that define a five year old. I couldn’t chase her on account of my still dodgy knee but her cries of pain some five seconds later did for my ears what my eyes couldn’t see.

We found her lying in the middle of the first corner having – yep you guessed it – overcooked the entry and instinctively turned in harder to the point where gravity defeats grip and road beats bare skin. She was fine though and after a little blub bravely took back to the track for many more circuits although with a noticeable decrease in rumbustuousness.

Verbal rides round with a thunderous expression as if someone has asked her to tidy her room for the rest of her natural life. Short of lining the route with ice cream or promising her a video of her efforts, I think she’s possibly not going to enjoy the sport as much as I do.

So three accidents, three front end washouts. You know what this means? We all clearly need new bikes. There’s no way we can all be that rubbish.

Oh and I checked about the bike frame. It’s two testicles. Tough call.

Nice weather shame about the knee.

Well I’m back and I’m sad. And I mean that in a downcast, miserable cat kicking way rather than the post modern definition of a man who collects, polishes and proudly displays doorknobs as a hobby. And just to prove that this poorly researched, grammatically suspect blog has at least some basis in fact, I Googled “Door Knob collection” and was rewarded by some interesting and stimulating web sites. I’ll not encourage them by putting a link in here but if you really feel you must know more about this fascinating pastime, Ebay is a good start.

No I’m sad because the weather has shades and shadows of 2003 and I can’t ride my bike. I know this to be a shallow and selfish sentiment mainly because my wife made this clear to me after I’d mentioned the root of my glumness for about the 1000th time. I was considering a little retail therapy in the form of a new frame to tide me over but it’s hard to know which testicle I don’t really need.

Still the blood red one would remind me of why I couldn’t ride. That’s justification enough surely?

Checks testicles. Apparently not. Nick over at 32Sixteen has one and is flauntingly enjoying it.

Anyway we’ve just ordered sufficient stones to empty a decent sized quarry. Think pyramid building with a few thousand hapless slaves lumping squared off rocks up spiralling verticals. Except in this case, that’ll be me portaging a few hundred slabs a hundred feet from the front garden as the delivery truck is too wide or our drive is too narrow. Whichever one it is, muggins here will be redployed as a pack horse. Unbelievably this Stonehenge like monument has cost almost as much as a new bike frame. I’m embaressed to admit I have an economics O level and it makes no sense to me at all.

Rock Hauling is based on the nice man in the hospital removing the external stitches on Monday. I’ve been sloughing skin like a fat snake and scabby deposits map out my route through the house. When the dressing was changed on Monday – an incident which I endured through a finger mask and much gurning – the repair looked pretty damn good especially when compared to the gaping maw that had preceeded it.

If they don’t take the stitches out on Monday, I shall be unavailable for comment having an uber grump in a dark corner and considering the potential joy of collecting door furniture.

And Rest..

Right that’s me done for a week. Off to Sunny Devon tomorrow for a week where I can watch the kids get wet on the outside and I’ll be getting wet on the inside once these hated antibiotics are done.

One thing to share with you before I go; “the demon duck of doom” and the flesh eating Kangaroo as shown below.
The skull of an extinct giant, meat-eating kangaroo known as Ekaltadeta

Apparently these were found in Australia but sadly are now extinct. Shame really, this would be exactly the type of family pet that’d teach proper care and handling.

More here

In whinging injury news, I finally managed to have a shower using the proven “legbag” bathroom accoutrament. Ah the joy of the cool stream of water after five days dabbing around with a moist flannel was mostly offset by cheekily removing a dressing on my arm that I felt was medical overkill.

Welcome back bastard pain of scab removal. It’s been days since you were last here. Ow.

I’m taking my laptop with me if only so I can while away the pre-beer antibiotic evenings compiling the hospital diary.

No, I can hardly wait either.

Satorial Elegance

I think you’ll agree that there’s almost no social occasion where these much sought after trousering garments would not add both class and sophistication:

Sadly the pants are not included but this bag within a bag means at least I can at least take a shower. Otherwise the smell will lead our hosts nailing up the door in the holiday cottage and shouting “Bring out your dead“.

Obviously armed (legged?) with this cutting edge trouserette of choice, I’ll be fighting off the women with a stick. It’s hard to believe they’ve yet to hit the cool club scene in London yet.

I’m thinking of myself as a fashion trailblazer 🙂

Forget hangover cures…

I need something slightly stronger for this:

Riding on Sunday as an excuse to go for a couple of beers. Lost the front end on an off camber corner and ripped open my knee (and other various body parts) on some Chiltern flint. Couldn’t helped noticing that when I was looking at my knee, the tendon was staring back at me. That’s not right I thought and it wasn’t.

Seven hours in A&E while they prodded, cleaned, injected into the open wound and before deciding it’d have to be cleaned out under a general. Of those seven hours, about one hour was being treated while the other six were spent waiting for x-rays, doctors, consultants and lots of other busy people. Still nice to see the NHS is staffed up on all our Taxes eh?

Next day they didn’t do the op as they were busy. That’s ok as I didn’t really want to eat or drink anything for 30 hours while they threatened to take me to theatre. Finally cleaned and stitched it up on Tuesday and sent me home today mainly as I am the man who put the patient into impatient.

10 days before the stitches come out. Can’t have a shower, can’t drive, can’t do more than a comedy shuffle. Wife not impressed as we’re on hols next week and my contribution will likely be lying in a chair drinking beer.

And in case you’re interested, yes it bloody hurts.

Sausage in a bun

Hangovers. We’ve discussed them before. But because they occupy an increasingly worrying period of my morning and occasionally afternoons, it’s worth sharing my extensively researched cures. Not drinking is one but because even I’m not prepared to flirt with such a ridiculous notion, we’ll not only leave that there, we’ll poison it, bury it and pretend it was never a member of the family.

Talking of burying worthless notions, I was forced to extend this to an individual who selfishly pushed his slicky haired, stripy suited self in front of my much needed person at what we laughingly refer to the restaurant at work. Because you’re not allowed to call it a canteen. No, honestly. While my need for fried food was both medical and instant, he exhausted the – admittedly limited – patience of the fella behind the jump asking for his sausages just so. Then after a couple of refusals, he smeared these favoured bastions of the hungover with MARMALADE. Even in a state so close to catatonic, I could not let this pass. On enquiring pleasantly “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO THAT SAUSAGE YOU PERVERT” his only excuse – excuse mind you don’t confuse that with a reason or even a rational argument – was that he was South African and this kind of thing passed as normal behaviour in the mother country.

Obviously this left me with two options; the first was to explain that while we Brits accepted the empire was long gone and that certain cultural shifts were something to be embraced and even welcomed but there were limits and in this specific case, his condimentatory faux pas was way beyond the pale. Or I could kill him in case he felt the urge to breed.

Anyone asks about a South African Gentleman suffocated in a vat of marmalade tied to a pole sporting a sign “BROWN SAUCE OR KETCHUP IF YOU MUST”, you ain’t seen me right.

Anyway Hangover cures. It’ll have to wait for another time as a mate had turned up and he has beer. And munchies. I’m sure you understand 🙂 But don’t worry I’ll be back to it, there’s a definitive list but please feel free to post up your own. Not that I’ll acknowledge them, it’s not like this is a democracy or anything.