Sunday, March 30, 2008


I saw Dave, my brother-in-law, today for the first time in months. He was admitted to hospital just after Christmas to have one of his kidneys removed. It was cancerous.

He has been in hospital ever since recovering from the surgery, from infections and now, it seems, from a resurgence of the very aggressive cancer that put him in hospital in the first place.

I like my brother-in-law. He is a nice bloke who would do anything for anyone and always puts other people first.

Even today, having fallen asleep because he had been awake half the night with pain, he was apologising for nodding off. As my sister-in-law and I left, he was saying he hoped my brother's stomach was better.

I feel very upset now. Probably for him but mainly for my sister. It is obvious how much she loves him and how devastated she will be if she loses him.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I have lost an ear-bud from my headphones. They are a pair of Sennheiser headphones with the little rubber pieces (ear-buds) that make a snug fit with the speaker and the ear.

They have, until now, been great. I can hear music perfectly and most external noise is cut out.

I ordered some spares some time ago but now I find they are too small. Music now sounds strange and tinny.

It's amazing that a little piece of rubber should make such a difference. I have been spoiled.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency 

I have long been a fan of the series of books written by Alexander McCall Smith that tell the story of Mma Ramotswe and her No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gabarone, the capital of Botswana.

The books are very simply written but paint a glorious picture of life in Botswana with flashes of humour and strong dependable characters.

I was both excited and worried when I heard that the first book was to be screened by the BBC. Excited because these marvelous books would find a greater audience and worried that the televised version would suffer from the usual problems that beset written fiction when it is transferred to the silver screen.

I have just watched it.

It is a rare thing to see something you see in your head reproduced almost exactly on the television. OK, there were differences. Mma Ramotswe's little white van was not what I was expecting and I do not remember the exceedingly camp hairdresser from the first book. I will have to re-read it.

However, the rest of it was like seeing some old friends after a long absence. There was Precious Ramotswe in all her traditionally built glory living in her house on Zebra drive. Here was Mr JLB Matekoni, the owner of Speedy Motors, eternally repairing the little white van and having to suffer his lazy apprentices. Finally we saw Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's secretary and achiever of 97% at secretarial college.


It is a fitting tribute to Anthony Minghella who died so recently and who's last work was to bring this book to life.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Streisand phone? 

My mobile phone sometimes lights up as if it is about to ring or report a text or give me an alarm but then nothing happens.

Maybe it's like the character that Barbra Streisand plays in On a Clear Day who would know when the phone was about to ring. Perhaps my phone lights up because someone was about to ring me but then changed their mind.


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... er ... fame? 

According to StatCounter, someone found my website by Googling "Rob is fat".

I tried it out. Not only does "Rob is fat" find my website but the site is the top of the list.

"Rob is 40" gets the same result but "Rob is bald" has my site as number 2. "Rob is gay" doesn't have my site anywhere in the first two pages.

And "beard scotland" in an image search still brings my site out as the first one.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Trouser sizes 

When I was in New York, I tried to buy some trousers. On my previous visit (in 2000) I was impressed by the breadth of sizes they had on offer and how I could buy jeans that fit me almost perfectly. To my dismay, this time, I found that trousers were stocked only within certain ranges. I could buy trousers with the right waist but an inside leg that was just a shade too small. Trousers with that waist size and a larger inside leg were available only online.

So, I gave up on the trousers, muttering that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen in good old Blighty.

Only, it has.

I went to buy some trousers at lunchtime for myself and for David at the huge Marks and Spencer at Marble Arch. I found some for me easy enough but when I looked for some for David I ran into trouble. There were some at the size just below his but nothing bigger. Same thing in jackets.

I did find a discrete notice, easily missed, that said clothing in sizes of a particular range were available by order or online. Who wants to buy clothes online? You wait weeks for them to arrive and then find they don’t fit.

I admit that we are a little on the large side but, given our heights, neither of us are outlandishly huge. This seems rather wrong.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alexander Technique 

Those of you who know me might know that I practice the Alexander Technique. Many probably will not and are probably sitting there wondering what the Alexander Technique might be or, worse, have made up their minds as to what it is and think I am a filthy bugger, a braggart or a personal friend of Sting.

The Alexander Technique is essentially is a way of encouraging awareness of the way in which you use yourself and allows you attempt to correct a lifetime's worth of bad habits. It is principally concerned with posture and breathing but can be applied to all sorts of bodily processes and even some mental ones.

It is usually taught on a one-to-one basis with a teacher guiding you through basic day-to-day stuff like standing and sitting. There is some very negligible manipulation which is mainly just tactile guidance to nudge you to take notice of something you are doing.

There are few "exercises" but the main two are the monkey which I won't describe here and the semi-supine position, a way of lying down that allows your back to release.

I just popped down to the gym to have a twenty minute semi-supine followed by a nice hot shower. My back was murder before I got there and hurt some more as I was lying there but I was almost skipping as I left the gym.

The technique isn't intended as a remedial thing. It's more a way of losing bad habits that will cause you problems. However, it really helped me today.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I have been using an alert feature in Outlook so that when I get an email from certain people a window pops up to let me know.

I've come to realise that this wasn't such a great idea. In fact, no matter how much I want to hear from people, I hate the little box popping up when I am in the middle of typing. It is a pain in the arse.

So, I've turned it off. I don't need to know about emails that much.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008


Years ago, I had a moustache. I loved it. I loved it way it felt and I loved the way it looked on me.

I always used to fancy men with moustaches and they used to be incredibly fashionable. Look back at pictures from the early 20th century and you'd hardly see a man without one.

Even back in the early eighties they were still popular but then the straight world saw them as "gay" and the gay world saw them as "so last week" and they died out in much of the western world.

The exception seems to be New York and isolated parts of the UK but no-one knows why.

When I had one, they were already unpopular and I got stick from all of my friends, my family and even my boyfriend about it. I stuck with it though for a few months until one of my many trimming accidents had me shave it off and since then I have either been clean-shaven or had a beard or a goatee.

Yesterday, however, I had a haircut and beard-trim. It was rather more severe than I was expecting and my beard has largely disappeared. During the cut, the barber left trimming the hair under my nose until last and so for a very brief time I had a moustache once more.

It was so tempting to just stop her at that point and leave it on. In many ways I wish I had. It's been a long while since I even thought about having one and I didn't realise how much I missed it.

The question remains as to whether I miss it enough to fly against the opposition of everyone in my life.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Not a good sign 

I just lost my pencil. It wasn't under my keyboard or hidden behind my notebook. It wasn't in the box of pens or under the many sheets of paper with which I decorate my desk.

No, unfortunately when I moved I discovered that it was hidden under my own stomach.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Live writer 

I just upgraded Windows Live Messenger and it offered me this thing, Live Writer, to allow me to write my blog without having to log in to Blogger.

Let's see if it works...

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