Monday, April 30, 2007

Battlestar Galactica 

I just had a very self-indulgent evening and watched the last four episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

I made the mistake of reading ahead so I knew some of what was coming. It was still a surprise. I can't tell you what was a surprise but it was, nonetheless, a surprise.

I have the feeling that everything has been turned on its head.

Just five months before the boxed set of DVDs are released!


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Welcome back to the writing blog! 

For a while, I kept a very intermittent writing blog, where I would add any news or thoughts about the novel I have been writing since February 2005.

It only just occurred to me that I could use labels for this sort of thing. Hence this posting and all others that I will create that have anything to do with my current novel, any subsequent novels or any short stories will have the label "Writing".

I'm still keeping my dream diary separate. That's too weird for public consumption.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

And your analysis, Doctor Freud? 

I have read some recent blog entries and some emails I have sent to distant friends and I realise that I have been taking myself far too seriously recently.

As a result, the blog entries and the emails sound completely loopy. Sorry!

I think I am back to my version of normal now so I will still sound loopy but hopefully in a much nicer way.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

More introspection 

I thought I stood at a crossroads but the road I wanted to take appears to have been diverted. There are signs but no clear messages. The road I could take will be of my own making and the road I am on is not heading anywhere but it's comfortable so I could stay on it for a little longer until I am ready.

Sometimes I’m too cryptic for my own good but you never can tell who is reading this rubbish.

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Sodding trains 

This morning there was a large chemical fire in Deptford. That's somewhere in southeast London between Hither Green and London Bridge. I haven't seen any reports of deaths or injuries and I hope there won't be any.

I have seen plenty of reports of journey and travel disruption. Unfortunately, I have only seen these after I arrived at work 40 minute late.

All trains to London Bridge, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and Charing Cross were cancelled and there were extra trains laid on to Victoria and Blackfriars.

Ironically, I was in time to catch my normal train which had been diverted to Blackfriars but the notice boards were too full of messages about the other stations being closed that I couldn't tell where it was until it was leaving.

I boarded a train to Victoria but as I was waiting for it to leave I remembered that the Victoria service called absolutely everywhere and the announcements for the Blackfriars service containing the words "fast from Lewisham" proved too inviting. So I left that train and boarded the next Balckfriars service.

It was a warm train. For non-Brits reading this, UK trains often have the heating turned on in warm weather. There is no reason. It is a law of nature. The best place to escape it is to sit as far away from the heaters as possible, i.e. on the end of a block of three seats furthest from the window.

I was joined by a very large round woman. But, as she sat at the other end of the seat, leaving a gap between her and me, I was OK. Later, however, when the train had filled up someone had to sit in the gap and so I spent a significant portion of the journey sitting at an odd angle with my ear in someone's bag.

With the much larger volume of trains heading for Blackfriars, "fast" was optimistic. "Standing still" was a better description but eventually we got there.

As we were getting off, I was unintentionally rude. While I was waiting for the mass of people to filter out the doors, my laptop bag became caught up the bag belonging to the woman who sat between me and the large lady. I pulled it away and lost my balance. This made me involuntarily jump ahead of the woman who should have been next, making her say something sarcastic and totally justified.

I could have explained but it would have sounded stupid so, instead, I let myself look like a complete arse.

I love commuting.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good old Virgin Media! 

I love Virgin Media. They keep me entertained and not just with TV, telephones and broadband.

See my NewsShopper blog entry for the latest installment in the great Virgin Media saga!

Quick summary: they cut off my phone instead of my lodger's and gave the line to someone else so that I have to have another line and a new phone number.

Why am I still with them?

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Doctors and gyms 

I went to the doctor the other day. The main reason was because I here’s a rash on my arm. It doesn’t itch and isn’t painful but it doesn’t look very pretty and I have to wear long-sleeved shirts which I don’t like doing in this weather.

His guess, and I stress that I think he was guessing, is that I have something called guttate psoriasis which can be caused by any number of things. It should go after about four weeks. Can’t wait.

The other reason I went to the doctor was because of my gym. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, I think. I attempted to rejoin but I was foolish enough to tick a box on the application form that said I had a joint problem (my knee hurts a bit when I go upstairs). They gave me a form to take to my doctor to sign. And, in the process, talked to me like I was mentally subnormal.

Anyway, as I was going to the doctor because of this rash I thought I would get him to sign the form at the same time.


Firstly, I was given the standard lecture about only having ten minutes per patient. Fine. I was on time, he wasn’t and I had only been there for five minutes as it was. Patronising git.

Then I was told that he couldn’t sign the form as it was an attempt by the gym to pass on legal responsibility for any injuries I sustain to my doctor. He would not sign the form without a full medical and maybe a lot of tests. Fair enough, I suppose. They are trying to get him to set himself up on their behalf.

The YMCA really are a bunch of w*****s. I am perfectly capable of performing alternative exercises if my knee is giving me a problem or of stopping exercise if I am in pain. Nor am I the type of person who would threaten legal action for something I am responsible for.

Not that they asked what the problem was in any case.

So, I am not going back there again but I will send them a very stiff letter of complaint. I have a contact there, someone I dealt with when they were doing something stupid with my direct debit mandates. Unlike most of his colleagues, he actually sounds like he has some intelligence. I will write to him.

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No more beard forum 

I decided to leave the BCBB, the beard forum I have been a member of for the last two or three years.

My friend Glyn posted a goodbye message to the board today and, after a little thought, I followed suit. I have been edging towards this decision for quite a while. I have removed the board from my favourites list, for instance, and deleted it from the links page on my website. All I needed was a final catalyst to finalise my decision and Glyn’s exit has provided that.

I haven’t really felt properly part of the board for a while and I have become increasingly annoyed with the dominance of a few people who respond to any and all posts and then send each other silly messages that are completely off topic.

I have also become annoyed at the “trimming is evil” mantra adopted by the same group. Some people suit and want a long beard. Some people don't. Some people don't like being lectured when they do trim.

If anyone from the board is reading this, I have deliberately avoided posting these comments on the board as I wanted to avoid kicking off yet another set of arguments.

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Last night I was kept awake for a while by some foxes. One was yowling rather loudly more or less right under my bedroom window. Another, a cub by the sound of it, joined in occasionally. A third was peering through my curtains waiting until I was just about to fall asleep before getting the other two to start up again.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

It's that time of year 

Just about now, when the weather is warming up a bit, my skin goes to pot. Apart from the rather delightful rashes and the eczema, my hands become particularly clammy and sticky.

I could give Spiderman a run for his money in a wall-climbing contest.

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Today, the possibility was raised again of me having a trip to Boston to give a course to some potential customers.

While I don't like travelling normally, this would be brilliant on several counts:
1. People in America speak English!
2. I have a friend called Leslie in Boston. I haven't seen her since December 2000. It would be great to see her again.
3. If timed right, I could also nip over to New York, to see the new stage version of Xanadu which opens in late May.
4. I could also visit Chicago to see Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte", a painting I have absolutely adored since school.

I am crossing my fingers!

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It's Friday! 

I woke up thinking that today was Friday but was bitterly disappointed to realise that it was actually Monday.

How cruel is that?

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hiking boots 

I have mentioned my sponsored walk in May. I decided that, if I am walking 11 miles, I need to do it in comfort and I should get a new pair of hiking boots. My old pair had to be retired four years ago because my feet expanded. My little toe became immensely sore and my toe nail fell off after I did the same walk that year.

Have you ever tried buying hiking boots when you have wide feet? I have been trying all week. I work in London so I tried three or four "outdoor" type shops in town for hiking boots but everything I tried were way too narrow, too expensive or both. In the end I bought some locally in Bromley from Millets who were having a closing-down-for-a-refit sale. Amazingly, the boots I bought were both comfortable and cheap. Result!

I normally have a size 10 or 11 shoe but ended up buying size 13 boots! Can you imagine? Size 13! Clown shoes.

By the way, I'm quite happy to take money off you via JustGiving for St Christopher's Hospice. They did a marvelous job for us in 1991 when my mother died and I can never repay what they did for her and for all of us.

Even if you don't know me, the hospice, and more importantly, the patients and families in its care will benefit. Give!

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Sunday, April 08, 2007


Sometimes there are things that you have to work hard for to make them happen.

Sometimes there are things that you are desperate to make happen but the more you try the more they slip away.

It is never possible to predict which approach to take and it is easy to muck it up.

I often try too hard at the things where I really shouldn't and don't try hard enough where I should.

The UK is going through a phase of reality-TV talent shows. Last year we cast the lead for The Sound of Music by TV and this year it is the turn of Joseph on one channel and Grease on the other.

I was half watching both of them earlier.

While the Joseph show seemed to be conducted fairly sensitively, the Grease show seemed to delight in showing the misfits, the people who were trying too hard but really didn't have a hope of getting anywhere and where trying harder only made them seem more ridiculous.

Those people made me cringe because they reminded me of myself. Oh, I could never go on stage and sing or dance as they did. Those dim lights of mine will forever be hidden under the largest darkest bushels you will ever see. But I know I can try too hard at certain areas of my life, just like those people, and make just as big a fool.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007


After finding the perfect barber, I find he's moving to Cyprus sometime later this year.

Good for him but who's going to cut my hair?

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Fun thoughts 

I saw two things that made me smile on the way to work, despite my current introspective trend.

I saw a dog with its owner walking through Trafalgar Square. The dog was barking but it was clear that it was doing so just for the joy of barking. It was having a good time. It was happy.

I saw a poster advertising Gareth Gates outside G.A.Y. It said his concert tour was the "Resurrection of his Career". I'm not sure I'd want that on any poster to do with me.

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Bad thoughts 

Something in my life isn't right. Something big. It might even be several somethings.

It's making me angry and I am lashing out at people who don't deserve it.

I need to sort this out. Working out what it is might be a start.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I've just been looking through my blog logs. I can get some idea from them about numbers of visitors and how they managed to find my blog and other websites, e.g. from Google or a direct link or whatever.

My blog is apparently listed on a blog share market, which was news to me. It's not trading drastically well but better than my writing blog, which wasn't even listed, or my dream diary blog.

I haven't bothered to look at the logs for this too often. It's not a blog I publicise too highly as I don't believe anyone would be at all interested in the odd things my brain dishes up for my entertainment at night or my attempts to make sense of them. There's nothing private in any of my dreams.

However, I was surprised to see that there have been a few people visiting that blog. Not masses but a few.

They will have seen my accounts of being chased by a werewolf or going on a coach trip to Mars (from Orpington) or having sex with the man who I caught in bed with my fictional wife.

God, they must think I'm weird!

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Beard injury 

My eye is feeling a lot better but not thanks to the pharmacist at Boots. I was hoping for some medicated eye drops. She gave me ointment for styes.

It wasn't a stye. It didn't look like a stye but it was sore.

In the end, what I was looking for in the first place did the trick. I bought some eyewash and bathed my eye a couple of times a day for a few days and all the swelling went down.

I'm more certain than ever that it was a beard "splinter" that started all this.

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Clumsy day 

I seem to be having a clumsy day. I dropped my precious Mary Poppins mug although it did not break and I nearly dropped my electric shaver.

All this was before I left the house. In the words of Howard the Duck, this does not bode well.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Return to Titanic 

You might remember that David and I saw Titanic last year in Bromley. Click here to see what I thought of that.

On Saturday we saw a production of the show in Hull that had been produced by friends of ours. It was fabulous and as much of a tear-jerker as the Bromley production, if not more. Martin had thrown in new twists that had me reaching for my hanky.

The end number was led by a little boy who had remained silent throughout the rest of the show. His father had gone down with the ship and the boy and his mother had tearfully placed a photograph of the father at the front of the stage. The boy also placed a model of the Titanic next to the photo and then stood back for a few long seconds, looking terribly scared. I thought it would end there or someone else would start singing but I was wrong. He started on his own, a clear voice with no accompaniment, to sing the opening of the last number. You could hear his fear and the loss of his father in his voice. Then the cast of survivors joined in and finally, from behind the gauze, the ones who had drowned.

It was a severely emotional moment and I became weepier at each step. How I held back from full-on blubbing was a minor miracle.

The actual sinking itself was Martin's stroke of genius. I became lost in the show at that point. I believed the ship was sinking and I knew all those people were dying even though I could see it was a stage with sound effects and actors.

What a fantastic show! It really should go to the West End and Martin Beaumont should direct it.


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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Go Google! 

Some of you may know that I use a thing called StatCounter to add a visit counter to my home page and to my blog. What you may not know is that I get to see where people have come from to visit my blog.

I know I get visitors who follow a link from my profile in the BCBB for instance. Sometimes I get to see that people have Googled my name. It's a very common name. The number of people that think they are soooooooooooo original to say "Ha! Robbie Williams!" is astounding, even now. I've even had someone find my home page (Fat, Bald and over 40) by doing a Google search on Fat Bald People. Nice.

I've recently noticed that I've been getting a lot of hits from people apparently clicking on a photo of me called BeardScotland that appears on my website. It only just occurred to me that they must have found it through the Google Image search. So I typed Beard and Scotland into Google and searched on images.

Bingo! I'm the first one on the list.

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I have an infection in my upper eyelid and it is depressing me. It is red and puffy. I look like I have been in a fight.

I think it may have happened as a result of me trimming my beard earlier in the week. A stray bristle may have gone where it wasn't wanted. I know nothing good ever comes of me trimming my own beard. At least when the barber does it I can close my eyes when he gets to trimming my moustache

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