Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Roll Up!

It's time for me to bug you with more requests to empty your pockets.
Yes, the Box Office is now open for Habeas Corpus, the play that I am directing.
If you can't be arsed to follow the links all the information you need is below. Rehearsals are shaping up very well indeed - all the cast are up for it and I think that the final results are going to be hilarious. I hope that you will come along and see the show - it should be very enjoyable.

Ottershaw Players present

Habeas Corpus

An hilarious farce by
Alan Bennett
(The History Boys, The Madness of King George, Talking Heads, Beyond The Fringe)

Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Peacock Centre, Woking, Surrey.

7th - 10th June, 2006 at 7.45pm

Tickets £9
(£7 concessions)

Phone: 01932 702091

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Cor. Luvverly!

While we were staying with Martin and Tracey last weekend, we had lunch at the Globe & Rainbow in Kilndown. Fantastic food. I had liver. I love liver.

It's odd though. Loads of people detest liver. Jon spent most of the meal making gagging noises because he had to sit next to me. But I really like it. The best meal I've ever had was goose liver - on the 87th floor (I think) of the Jinmao Tower, Shanghai. Fantastic.

I also love Marmite. Which is on a lot of peoples' hate list.

But I can't stand various things that most people seem to love:
  • Tomatoes.
  • Broccoli.
  • Coronation Street.
I like spinach, green beans and mange-tout. I can't stand peas. What's that all about?

I don't like scraping the bottom of the barrel. But it seems that's what I'm doing with this post!

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Easter Weak End

Four days off work. Yippee!

So why do I feel as knackered now as I did on Thursday? Let's examine the evidence...

Thursday evening: off to Kent to spend the evening with Jon and Martin at the pub quiz. We came 2nd! I drank 3 whole pints of beer (count them) and that's enough to get me pissed nowadays.

Friday: Stayed over at Martin and Tracey's in the very dark and quiet village of Kilndown and spent the day larking about with them, their kids Wills and Hattie, and with Jon & Lin and their new arrival, Emma.

[OK - she's not that new; she's a year old: but it's taken us FAR too long to get down there for a visit.]

Friday night: back in time to watch Sunderland hand the league champonship to Chelsea by holding United to a 0-0 draw. Bloody Mackems!

Saturday: Up early (ish) for a bike ride. 14 miles to Staines and back. But I did stop for an ice-cream at Penton Hook lock. Then back to do my accounts and get showered before The Wife's parents arrived for dinner.

Sunday: Nothing to do. A long lie-in. Spoiled by a support call from work at 6am. Balls! Then lunch at The Castle.

Sunday afternoon: a long drive in the countryside. It's official - I'm now an old man. My trilby and sticky-out ears are on order from Saga.

Monday: Up early (ish) again for another long bike ride. 23 miles this time, to Kingston and back. Walking like John Wayne for the rest of the day. Then round to mater and pater's for a spot of luncheon. Then back home to spend too much time updating the family-tree again.

Today: back to work. Bum!

Thursday, 13 April 2006


Back in the 1970s (I think it was) Helen Reddy sang:
"I am Woman, hear me roar."
I think she was getting confused with lions.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006



I wrote about my Nan the other day. Unfortunately, she died two days later. I guess it was a blessing/release (and all those other platitudes we use to try to stop ourselves feeling upset). She turned out to have been a great deal sicker than anybody suspected when she went into hospital. And I know that we all have to go sometime, but I still think I'd prefer to pop off in my sleep, with no idea that I was even unwell.

Nan was a kind, generous person and we're all going to miss her.


The events of the past few days inspired me to start recording some family history. Nothing complicated (I thought at the time), just a record of who was who, when they were born, etc.

But our family is nothing if not complex (as, I suspect, is everyone's once you peel back the years).

I've already had an account setup at - a site which you can use to record your family tree - so I logged in and started updating what was there and adding various grandparents, etc.

Trouble is, it's an addictive pastime. I seem to have spent most of my spare time over the past 3 days registering for various websites which hold census, birth, marriage and death records and scouring them for pertinent information. And the deeper you go the more you want to find out.

It really is an absorbing activity and I can understand why there's been such a surge of interest in genealogy in recent years. Nostalgia as a whole seems to be big business - and I'm not immune; I've ordered some books and software from Amazon to use when I get more time.

Mum commented that if I carried on at this rate there might be another divorce to add to the family tree, so I think I'll give it a rest for a bit and get into it again when I've finished directing Habeas Corpus.

Monday, 10 April 2006

Pedal Power

Training for the Thames Bridges Bike Ride continues apace.

Saturday afternoon was a lovely day, so I decided to go for a ride along the Thames towpath. My aim was to get to 6 or 7 miles before turning back.

In the end, I managed over 9 miles, before realising that this meant a round-trip of nearly 19 miles! But this mean that I did get to lovely Hampton Court Palace - with only 1 stop too!

Once at the palace, time for a quick lie-down on the grass bank overlooking the river. Very relaxing. Until I realised I was laying very close to a pile of dogshit. Yuck. So I moved and relaxed again for 10 minutes.

Heading back, the saddle sores started pinching and I realised I was riding into a strong-ish headwind. No wonder the ride out was so easy!

I also learned a lesson. Take money when you go cycling. I passed 3 pubs and 2 ice-cream vans, on a lovely warm day, while I was exercising, and I have no water bottle on the bike! I was gasping for a drink!

Never mind. A couple of stops on the way back, including a relaxing sit-down on a bench at Walton Reach, just by the temporary bridge which has been there for 40-odd years.

It made me feel good and happy that my training is back on schedule.

Photos taken on my phone - hence the shoddy quality.

Friday, 7 April 2006

Sadness & Guilt

My Nan's in hospital. Very ill. My Dad rang earlier because the doctors don't think she will last more than two or three more days.

She's been there 3 or 4 or 5 weeks - originally just a 'bad back', but that turned into a kidney problem and then they had her in a cardiac monitoring unit.

That was at least 2 weeks ago (or was it 3 - shit, the time goes past too quickly) and now I feel guilty as fuck. I was supposed to visit her the other week and I didn't make the time to do it.

After that, I thought she'd come out and was getting better. I heard that my aunt and uncle were around and the plan was to take Nan down to their home in Gloucestershire.

But I obviously got that wrong. And I never asked how she was. And nobody told me she was still in Kingston Hospital, deteriorating.


I hate sickness and death and hospitals, but I know I should do my duty and I will go and visit her tomorrow after work and I can only hope that it's not too late.

I love you Nan.

Thursday, 6 April 2006

No More Whingeing!


Yesterday's post was a little bit moany, wasn't it?

Though, thanks to Delmonti-man, I've made £500 from selling our office's Xerox machine on eBay.

Anyway, I've already applied for a new job. Less than 10 miles from home. Actually, it's about 3 or 4 miles from home, so that will be nice - if I get it.

One of the main criteria in the job spec was that the applicant should be able to speak Korean.

Is that a clue to the employer?

The agency said it wasn't absolutely necessary - which is a relief.


The Thames Bridges Bike Ride is now only just over a month away. Eek!

Considering the amount of money which has been pledged on my completing the event, I'd better make sure I'm in shape for it.

I had deliberately waited until BST kicked-in before starting to train properly (not wanting to get squished by a truck in the dark, or anything). So on Saturday I managed a grand total of SEVEN (count them!) miles. And I had to stop twice to allow my jelly-quivering calves to recover.

{Next time I'll leave the trailer full of baby cattle at home; it'll be far less effort.]

Bear in mind that this Thames Bridges ride is 34 miles. I need to go 5 times further than on Saturday, and without stopping every two-and-a-half miles!

Tonight I'm aiming for 10 miles without any stops.

And if Dave ("The Silver Fox") Estall is reading this - Stop laughing, you sod!


Hooray! I managed:

10.2 miles in 51 mins 20 secs.
Ave speed 11 m.p.h.
Top speed 25 m.p.h.
Calories burned 221 (apparently).

My new bike computer is great! If only it could pedal for me too...

Oh, and I only stopped once - after about 5 miles. If you don't count having to push the bike up Brooklands Hill (it's a steep one!).

Now, if I can just do something like that
, 3 times a week, one or two miles further each time, for the next 5 weeks - I should be ready.

Wednesday, 5 April 2006


Yes, I am sulking today.

We had one-to-one phone conferences with our line manager today to tell us the outcome of our pay reviews. The upshot was - I'm not getting a pay rise.

After four years working here, I've had one pay rise. Which means that next April, I'll have been here for 5 years and only had any sort of recognition (i.e. more money) once. That pay increase was just around the level of inflation (3.5%).

I applied for my job when it was based in Reading. Now, I'm based another 25 miles further away. Which is around £25 per week in extra petrol alone. All in all, I reckon I'm now over £200 per month worse off (in real terms) than when I started this job back in April 2002.

[That's £100 for travelling and about £100 as wages have not kept pace with inflation.]

The mixed signals from management don't help:

My first two years in this job I had excellent appraisals - but I didn't get a pay rise. Year 3 was really tough and I was getting pissed-off at the lack of recognition, so my performance dipped - and I got a pay rise!

What's the message here? The company that I work for values mediocrity over excellence - that's the only assumption I can make.

So this year, I've just coasted. If my colleagues are reading this, I can only apologise, but we all know it's true. I just don't care anymore. So was my mediocrity rewarded? Was it buggery! Another year without a pay rise. Result - I now care even less than I did yesterday.

I think I need a new job. With a company that gives a toss. And less than 10 miles from home.

Wish me luck...