Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Recently, because there have been so many changes in speed limit in the area between my house and David's and so many policemen jumping out of the bushes with speed guns, I have been pretty good at keeping to the speed limit. I do this everywhere by habit now. I just do not trust to luck anymore.

Last night I found myself driving in front of a Police car. This normally provokes two reactions from me. The first is similar to the feeling you have when there is a wasp in the room and you're eating something large and sweet and sticky, hoping that the wasp won't notice but at the same time trying to will it away.

The second is the feeling that I am doing something wrong or that the police in the car think that I am doing something wrong. I knew I was not, especially now that I drive under the speed limit by habit, but that didn't help. In fact, it made it worse. There was the nagging doubt that my care at remaining under the speed limit would look like I was trying to hide something else and that I was drunk or had just robbed a bank.

I'd be a terrible criminal.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coughs and sneezes 

David has a cold. Most of the people on the train this morning seemed to be sneezing or coughing.

How long can I last before I succumb?

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Cancelled gym 

I cancelled my YMCA gym membership at lunchtime. I can't afford extravagance in these trying times.

It was strangely liberating.


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I just got this email ...

Dear Robert

You're invited to something amazing this summer. Enter Cancer Research UK's Race for Life and raise money to help beat cancer.

Race for Life is the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK, where women of all ages and fitness levels come together to support Cancer Research UK.


Women of all ages, AND genders, apparently.

A laudable cause but I shall give it a miss rather than become a Miss.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

"Openly gay" 

On Tuesday in Bickley (an area not far from where I live and near to David's house) a gay man and his partner were stabbed on their doorstep. One of the couple died and the other was very badly injured.

There were countless news stories about the crime: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7923868.stm

While this is a shocking crime, what annoyed me enough to write this piece was the shameful use by some of the press (The Daily Mail mainly) of the statement, apparently from the Police, that the men were apparently attacked because of their "openly gay lifestyle".

I absolutely hate that phrase.

Saying that someone is openly gay implies that they are supposed to hide it, to keep it secret. To say that it is a reason for an attack implies that we only had ourselves to blame. If only we'd pretended to be straight. If only we'd hid ourselves away. If only we lied, butched up, married, caused decades of hell for some poor cow dragged into marriage to act as a beard. If only.

No-one is ever labelled as being "openly straight" are they?


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Sunday, March 01, 2009


Here I am in Holland about to give another Arezzo course. It's only been a couple of weeks since I gave the course in Hong Kong.

I'm giving the impression that I am a bit of a jet-setter but that would be incorrect. I can count the number of work trips I have had abroad, or anywhere come to that, in the last few years on two fingers and they have both happened within weeks of each other.

Yet again, I find that English is spoken fairly commonly, for which I am very grateful and also, rather guilty. Like many of my countrymen, I do not know a second language. I know the odd word here and there but not enough to have a conversation. Yet, in Europe, many people know two, three or four languages almost equally well as part of their everyday lives.

Kind of shaming really.

The problem is, of course, that because English is so common, we don't have to bother to learn another language. Picking up French, for instance, would only help me in France or Belgium. Dutch would only help me here. English is the common lingua Franca which makes us all exceedingly lazy.

That's the British for you.

Another point of note is that a few days ago, a Turkish airlines jet crashed five hundred metres from the runway at Schihpol airport. I saw that plane on the drive out from the airport. I didn't want to see it but my eyes found it and were morbidly glued to it. It was a sad little thing in a field off the side of the road, broken in three pieces as we have all seen in the newspapers.

It really was very close to the motorway. If it had travelled a hundred metres more a lot more than nine people would have died.

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I have done something very geeky but may save me future embarrassment.

I used to have a PDA to help me remember things. Trouble was - I forgot to check it when arranging things. I used to have a Smart Phone (a phone with Windows on it) that I used to make notes of events I needed to remember. Again I would forget to check it.

These days I have a paper diary which I use and sometimes check. I have three calendars in Outlook at work but I don't always check them BEFORE I book other things but at least I can set reminders. Neither helps prevent me double booking myself, which is something I'm doing rather a lot of at the moment.

I took the geeky way out of this and have written a small application in C# that pops up when I start my laptop to remind me about things.

It might help remind me of things that are coming up. It might even prevent me from double booking.

Or I might find other ways of ignoring my diary.


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