Friday, April 26, 2013

Hello everyone.

Apologies for previous email. I appear to have been spammed from Chile, according to Yahoo security.

Please disregard.

Best wishes


Monday, March 25, 2013

A bootful of thoughtfulness

Sometimes, when using the works equipment, you realise that the designers really did have your best wishes at heart:

This morning, I was doing my VDI, which sounds like it should involve a cotton swab and some wincing, but is actually a Vehicle Daily Inspection, and took a pickcha, because it puts off changing the defibrillator batteries for a minute which is, like, so boring and who needs 'em anyway:

The office. Ooh, nice drawers . . .

At first, it looks like the normal chaos one finds in the back of the standard rapid response vehicle used by ambulance paramedics the world over, but take a closer look and you can see they have specifically provided a perfectly engineered nook for my cup of hot brown:

If you turn the torch on, Batman appears with milk and sugar.

If that doesn't encourage one to be extra thorough in checking your kit then I don't know what will. Anyway, back to work. Probably shouldn't be blogging on duty anyway, but there you go.

"Right, CLEAR!"


"Oh shi . . ."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Toy orby, son?

Showing my superlative organisational skills, both of my children were born in early March (round of applause please, folks. Thank you. Thank you very much. Nothing like receiving a big hand for your testicles).

In anticipation, my soon-to-be-six year old son has been preparing for his birthday since Christmas, because nothing puts you in the mood for getting presents like receiving gifts. To be fair, his Christmas requests were relatively moderate; an accordion ("NOT a concertina, Daddy!" Well, obviously), a car garage and a pair of castanets, all of which have been duly furnished and didn't break the bank. We ignored his desire for a swimming pool in the garden on the grounds that we don't have a changing room.

For his birthday, he was also quite modest in his desires, wanting only a "spinny disco light". And a shit load of chocolate.

We mused over this for a moment, pleased that it was relatively straightforward but concerned that we might be on our way to having an obese, toothless John Travoltoid as a son. Relenting, because it's not exactly drugs or booze or those joyride-encouraging Super Marilyn computer games that all the kids want these days, we fed a tenner to the ever-giving medium of the internet, and waited.

Happily, the item was delivered quickly (Five stars! Will come again!), and you can imagine how chuffed we were to discover that the very packaging appears to show it was designed utterly with the six year old in mind.


Firstly, it's the Brightly Light model , a marque you can trust especially as this version is the 829B, a vast improvement on the excesses of the 829A, although the  leather attaché carrying case and accompanying dance troupe would have been fun. They've also done away with the diesel powered option and it's plinth is no longer thirty metres across.


One thing they haven't changed is the fact that it's dynamic know no bounds, because why change a winning formula? Dynamic know no bounds could easily be the description for the average six year old child, as demonstrated when one stops running only long enough to ask a fat bloke when the baby's due, or to joyously tell you they've just broken wind and it sounded like an angry hippo.

Clear labelling also informs us that, despite it's many serious medicinal and political uses, this is in fact a faddish present:

My son is nothing if not faddish. His fads last about a minute, so this is perfect for him.

The instructions seem straightforward. I must remember to avoid vibrations and dusty play, so that's the bedroom out, although it will be hard to stop my boy touching it's movement. For cleaning, I'll check if I've got any neuter soap left over from my vasectomy.

Judging by the traditional lamp hint design it seems simple to operate, as one simply turns on the iridescent glassy orifice with the plinth switch. My first thought on examining it was that it should suit not only my son's refined taste, but also his popular one as well. Happily, the packaging confirms that this is indeed the case:

They do use Model number 892C as the demonstration in this picture though, which I hope won't upset my son too much. Especially when I tell him the reason he can't have that one is because he just hasn't been good enough.

You've got to be extra good to get the 892C.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Scratching a Nietzsche

For a couple of days now I have been complaining that the nail on my right little toe has been hurting, because I accidentally pulled half of it out and now it's a bit sore.

You might think that this is a minor injury, but perhaps not when I inform you that there was actually a spot of blood when I did it. And the side went all red and swollen for, like, maybe half an hour afterwards.

I say complaining, but not a huge amount because I am, and this is objective fact, super-rufty-tufty, and you would barely notice my limp were I not wailing and dragging the affected limb behind me like a crocodile's tail.

Then yesterday I met a great chap called Paul, in his eighty-ninth year, who told me how he lost an eye in a Lancaster bomber in 1943. He was a front gunner and, after about twenty searchlights cheerily lit up his plane somewhere over Essen, flack exploded in front of them, shattering the perspex of his canopy and sending shards throughout his confined space in the nose. One shard entered his eye, bouncing of the back of his socket and exited via his forehead. The Lancaster limped home, the crew all surviving and he was patched up, with the damaged organ removed and replaced with a prosthesis.

He described how he had adapted well to this because he "had a spare".

Then, in his early eighties, he suffered a stroke, leaving him with mobility problems as the whole left side of his body was affected. Again, he had adapted superbly, walking with a stick and adjusting his lifestyle accordingly telling me "It could have been worse, and I've got a spare arm and leg as well!"

This gave me pause. I thought about what I had just heard and seen. About Paul's eye and my toe. About Paul's arm and my toe. About Paul's leg and my toe. About Paul's general stoicism in the face of adversity. And my toe.

You might not be surprised to learn that I came to understand something of myself after that. Not just myself in fact, but of all of us. Our suffering means nothing to the cosmos. Call it self-realisation, or an awareness of  one's own humanity in the face of nihilism, or maybe even call it enlightenment, but those thoughts took me to a conclusion I had never reached before.

I realised we have a lot in common, Paul and I, because I also have a spare toe.

In this little spark of clarity that we call existence, this flitting sparrow of life flying briefly through the banquet hall of eternity from one dark window to the next, don't we all have a spare toe.

Yes we do.We all have a spare toe.

Unless, you know, you haven't, in which case, sorry about that. Have you tried wearing Crocs?

Friday, December 28, 2012

So That Was Christmas

As we are all aware from copious adverts, blanket publicity and saccharine marketing campaigns from multinational corporations intent only on making us better people, christmas is a time for giving. There is nothing more noble and appreciated than giving, it would appear. I'm not totally sure about that because I gave someone a cold sore once and they were less than amused.

It's not just individuals who can give at christmas, but organisations as well. For instance, after sending my mobile phone back to my supplier because, as I told them, it had a faulty battery, they kindly gave it back to me still in situ only with a helpful label on it:

The new Samsung Faulty range was not a marketing success

Of course, it would have been more generous had they sent a working battery, but at nearly five quid that would have been far too generous for a tiny start up company like Virgin Media.

My own employer was also in a giving mood this festive period, and we had a new water dispenser installed in our ambulance station so we no longer have to lick condensation off the windows (which  was unnerving the firefighters in the adjacent station and putting them off their porn and fry ups).

Emblazoned in bold type on the front is the name of the water dispenser. Sure they could have gone for something corporately acceptable and expected  like 'AquaTech' or 'HydroSpurt' maybe, but no. The mind responsible for product nomenclature in this company, presumably ensconced somewhere on the right side of the autism spectrum that we all occupy to some degree, went for something much greater:

Behold, the Double Ay Double Three Double Zero Ex!

That, my friends, is the AA3300X.

An awe inspring name I think you'll agree, possibly more suited to a merciless robotic killing machine than a water cooler but that just adds to the impact. I insist on calling it by its full name whenever it comes up in conversation.
"Just going over to the AA3300X. Anyone want any AA3300X juice?"
"Are there any AA3300X cups?"
"Deploy the AA3300X!"

I'd like that trend to continue. Maybe bring out a new stapler called the PX-Buffalo or a Desk-Hawk Z9000 Tactical Hole Punch.

Anyway, this time last year I was in melancholy mood as I was at work, and blogged about it because that's what I do. I complained (a bit) about not getting into the christmas spirit which is understandable when one has to treat it like any other working day.

This year was a smidgen different though. I got given a new knife and a book on whittling, and also some booze because it's a classic combination, but I was also given a particularly valuable gift that would have been quite difficult to wrap.

I got gifted the gift of . . . *profound face* . . . time.

Obviously I don't mean someone gave me a watch, even if they are also difficult to wrap. No, this year I was one of the lucky few granted annual leave over the festive period, so didn't have to go to work and instead got to witness the full delights of my offspring opening their presents, open mouthed and agog at how prescient Santa must be to know exactly what they wanted, even though they've talked of nothing else since September.

Apart from the occasional thought about how much cheaper this time of year would be if I had naughty children, I really enjoyed myself and definitely did get into the spirit of things. I appreciated the food, the merriment, the indoor conifers, the stupid hats, the company and the giving. I suppose it seemed even more special because time off with my family . . . well, it's not a given.

I'm working over the new year, but I think I can manage that without undue grumpiness now.

Here's wishing you and yours a very happy one.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scenic Route

Today I'm working out of a Cotswold ambulance station about fifteen miles from home. It's very picturesque round these parts. Very scenic.

Being a one car family means I usually travel on my motorbike when working a bit of a distance away, a faster, cheaper and usually more fun mode of transport than driving. I say faster but that doesn't include getting togged up at the beginning which takes ages especially if, like me, you've built up your riding kit piece by black leathery piece over the years and can't just slip on a nifty bright onesie and go straight out. It also doesn't include getting undressed at the other end which consists of jerking around like a man changing into a werewolf in a black and white film, only with a more startling transformation resulting.

Apart from that, much faster.

My trip to this ambulance station is usually cursed with discomfort though. Rain is often the order of the day, with lashings of horizontal wet lasers probing my seams with the sole intention, it appears, of getting my undercrackers wet, and not in a good way. The beautiful scenery that flashes by, green and wooded, gentle hills, fields bordered by ancient walls, the honey-coloured stone of Cotswold dwellings nestling in cute villages are completely unavailable to me as I try to clear my visor. Last "spring", I got caught in a blizzard riding home and was reduced to a crawl, stopping every few minutes to shake snow off my jacket and peel ice off my helmet. Cars meandered by unconcerned and it occurred to me for the first time ever that I might have to swap my trusty old Suzuki for the all-weather comfort of a second car.

No one would blame me. Cars are easier, warmer, and you can go out in your pyjamas if you want. They have hot and cold running music, comfy seats and you can scratch yourself wherever you want.You can even  indulge in a beverage or snack with relative ease. 

Currently however, the only option I have is the bike. Dutifully I donned armour, secured my work kit on the back with the help of overstretched bungees and growled off, fully expecting a sudden chilly, utterly unpredicted monsoon to plague me en route.

But no! The journey this morning was gorgeous. The temperature was admittedly low and the roads icy, so I was forced to take it easy, but the emerging sun made every verge a diamond carpet, the dark silhouettes of the hills just magnifying the aesthetic effect of a marmalade cloudscape. The nearly full moon was still out and I could even see the bright dot of Jupiter in the dawn sky to my right.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I remember Robert Pirsig suggesting that one difference between riding and driving was that being on a bike moves you through the scenery, as a part of it, whereas being in a car you simply go past as a separate, insulated observer. Having been to too many incidences where a vicious tree has attacked a car and suddenly made both vehicle and occupants very much part of the scenery, I've never been particularly convinced by this.

Today though, I got it. I felt the freshness of the cold, heard the roar of the wind, could smell the air and feel the changing vibrations of tyre on road beneath me with an immediacy not duplicated in a car. My fingers were a bit numb because I hadn't put my inner gloves on underneath, I had to think about every corner, every icy patch of frozen flood water yet to drain away after our recent rains, even the slush of leaves in the car park as I arrived at work. On the way, my innards felt the surge of acceleration as I overtook a line of traffic, my inner ear enjoyed the long sinuous bends through the woods and I finally got it because this morning I really had to be there.

I still danced the undignified transmogrifying dance of the changing biker at the end, but it seems well worth it. I may change to a car in the future, but not for a while yet if I can help it and you can be damn sure that if I do there will be times I'll regret it.

Bet it pisses down on my way home though.

Monday, October 29, 2012

N.E.G.L.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me.

Oh gnash of teeth and wail of lament!

Oh damn you hours in the day for being so paltry in number!

Oh curse you sense of prioritisation and your . . . your . . . priorities!

Just doing one of those oft-heard blogger-with-no-time-to-blog posts. You know the type. Life is hectic (which it is) and external responsibilities are too demanding (which they are) and procrastination is too [*note, insert thing that procrastination is too much of here at some point*].

It could start to get you down, although blogging shouldn't be a chore. Unless you're doing it for a living or as some sort of punishment.

I wonder if there are any punishment blogs out there?

I don't mean *waggly eyebrows* dominatrix-led punishment, with all studded collars, flagellatory equipment, leather faces and that, because they're ten a penny. I imagine. No, I mean blogging instead of doing lines or paying a fine or something.

"Professor D'Espicable, you have been found guilty of wantonly hollowing out a mountain without planning permission, and so must either serve 60 hours of community service visiting the elderly or construct a blog post on the pitfalls of setting up a nefarious empire intent on taking over the world."
"Ah come on Your Honour! Can't I just be ejected into space and get it over with?"

No, for me blogging is just for fun, and like any fun thing one shouldn't get stressed about neglecting it. Although it might be frustrating when you don't get chance to bash one out (yeah, that's where I'm going), eventually you are going to be able to relieve the pressure at some point, and end up happily ejaculating your givings onto the receiving substrate.

So here I am.

Before any of you begin feeling extra sorry for me and start planning a concert to raise awareness for my plight, I should point out that I've been having a pretty pleasant time of it over the last few months. The summer was damp but not horrible, we went on holiday, we had some enjoyable get togethers and we took the children on various educational trips to expand their brains, broaden their horizons and fuss fluffy critters.

I was particularly excited by the promise of this sign outside a farm park which suggested we could feed baby felines to cows:

Kittens! Pound a sack! Gerrem while they're mewling!

As it turned out, the kitten sale and animal feeding were separate entities. I should have realised this because cows obviously don't eat kittens. If mad cow disease has taught us anything it's that cows eat other cows.

We drank occasional expensive coffeecinos in smart cafes, one of which had a literally correct description of it's cake:

Further reductions inside!

And, at a wedding, we all stayed in a posh hotel which had not only a kettle and a telly in it, but a panic alarm on the wall:

Panic? Alarm? Which is it? WHICH IS IT?
Never mind the children, you have no idea how much self-restraint I had to show not to push that bugger just  to see who might turn up. Maybe the Best Western chapter of the Guardian Angels, or Batman in a stolen hotel robe. I'm pretty sure it would actually have been a phone call to see whether it was panic or alarm I was experiencing. Press '1' for panic.Press '2' for alarm. Press '3' for alarmed panic.To listen to these options again, please scream repeatedly.

It's not all fun and frivolity though. Yesterday, as part of my parental responsibilities, I had to steal the kids home-made play dough, craft a scary halloween hand and then chase them and their visiting friends who'd come round to play:

Anyone got any E45 cream?
I was rewarded with satisfyingly high-pitched yelps of terrorised delight and one child wetting herself. If that's not a sign of success then I don't know what is.

And if this post has taught me anything, it's that blog posts really don't have to be about anything.