Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Noughties: The Decade That Blogged

I remember exactly where I was at the start of the noughties; standing outside my families front door in Cheriton with my Nan watching the fireworks from all the nearby gardens going off. 2000 had arrived and it brought with it a decade that came with some real highs and lows.

2000: I was still at the Harvey Grammer School, Folkestone, working my way through my A-Levels. Our previous 5 years of being in the same class, with the same people, was at an end and finally my group of friends for the next few years of my life was formed. There was fun and amusement in my RE class with Mrs Makepeace and Sam. That was the whole class. Hilarious. Outside of school I met Stephen, discovered Canterbury and went to my first gay bars (Bar 11 and West Bar).

2001: The year it all went a bit wrong. I did dismally on my A-Levels, failed dismally at financial control, dropped out of Brighton University (something I will forever regret), and drifted apart from Stephen completely. But of course the worst moment of the year came with the death of  Melly. She was only a couple of years older than I am now when she died. She will always be missed.

The only high point was in August when I started this very blog...

2002: Started on a low point with me on a suicidal mission wandering Europe. Sounds pretty dramatic now and it's an experience I look back on with a little sadness but actually a lot of fondness too. The only way I can describe it is by saying that the experience made me a man. 2002 was, after my return, a very good year. Oh at the time it didn't seem so much of a good year. I was very poor. Even when I was working I was being paid so very little that I was still pretty damn poor. But... I had so much fun. Being unemployed and then being single when I was employed meant I had plenty of time to devote to having fun with friends. Nights out in Canterbury with Stephen. Nights out in Folkestone with Zoe, Pete, Laura, Sam etc. And nights out with new friends like Ben and Becky. Work wise... I worked for a couple of months in the fatally flawed Faulty Towers Hotel, and after it's dramatic collapse I moved on to temping at Eurotunnel where my career for the rest of the decade was formed. From the get go I realised I finally had a talent... talking to people on the phone and selling them things! Stacey Lady made her first appearance in that year.

2003: Another year, another job. Holding out until the very last I finally lost my job when the temping contract ended. Thankfully I had two temping agencies ready and waiting to offer me a new contract and off I went to Three Valleys Water.. with Stacey Lady! More new friends, more nights out with Zoe et al. And then... then Gareth arrived. I don't really feel in the mood to write about the next few months of my life except to say: first gay pride, nights out in London, and weekly trips up the coast to Ramsgate etc. etc. When November came and with it a broken heart I was a different person. Sort of. Gareth taught me, I'm a difficult person. But I'm nicer than a lot.

2004: This was a year of change. Started off with a date at a panto with a guy called Mark. He was lovely. Then it continued with ever more dates... more shags... and I think it's pretty clear to me now I was trying to fill a hole (oh do stop being so smutty, Dear Constant Reader) with one night stands and dates. My friendships suffered as I became distant and grumpy and I'm sorry to say they never recovered. And that is my own damn fault! Sorry to those who still read this for my laziness and lack of friendship. Anyway... at the start of the year I'd begun chatting a man named Jim. We failed to meet up many times and after a particularly melancholy Brighton Pride I was unsure we ever would. In August I made a promise to myself. No more one night stands. No more dates that go no where. No more whoring myself out.

And that is when I finally got round to meeting Jim. It's funny how things work out. The end of 2004 was spent falling in love with Jim via a trip to Prague. Things would never be the same again.

2005: A year of deep goodness. My relationship with Jim continued and after two years at working at TVW and 22 years of living with my Mum, I decided to make a move to London to be with him. Goodbye to Folkestone. It was great but sad too... I liked working at TVW. I liked my fun times with Zoe and Sam. But my heart was set on London and Jim and that was that. Jim tried to tell me I'd soon be bored of London but at the time it seemed like I was moving up in the world. I'd obviously spent all my weekends in London not paying attention.

There was more trips: Prague again, Warsaw, San Francisco and Lochgoilhead. And there was a new job at Euroffice, where I discovered new friends and a new way of life. EO was still young and times were still good so we were lavished with nights out to expensive places and treated well. Grandad Alan and Millie cat both passed away in 2005.

2006 was a continuation of the good times. My first trip to Thailand and another trip to Lochgoilhead were the holidays.

My blog reached it's pinnacle with mentions in the Guardian, Bay Area Reporter and London Lite. Work was good as I became important and all powerful (cough) and the drinks continued.

2007 Work began to grate as the free flowing fun dried up and serious times began. My work social life, which had served as a suitable replacement for having a real one, dried up and left me feeling empty and remembering my friends who I'd so easily forgotten back home. But it wasn't a bad year. Plus I met Vy and Arwen who would keep me sane through my last few months at Euroffice which came in... plus a new social life was being constructed at the local. Brittany was our holiday this year.

2008 The year of change! I gave up my job, following another trip to Bangkok, and spent a couple of months dossing before finally settling in to a better paid, less work job in Hammersmith. A new commute, a new job, and new problems kept things a little fresh but London was beginning to feel a bit.. last year.

2009 Another year in London. Work was unfulfilling, but drinking in the local kept me sane. Lochgoilhead was visited once more, along with Berlin. Life was made brighter by the addition of a new pet: Mr Gibbs The Bearded Dragon and Twitter became a new obsession. Mum broke up with her husband, Jim decided he'd had enough of London too, and the decade ends with a big fat "What happens next???"

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sexiest Man Of The Decade: Late Entry

Sam Chotebundit makes a last ditch bid for my heart before we say goodbye to the noughties... More pics here

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas With The Kays

Christmas Eve was spent in the local. On arrival we found our table laid out with presents (from Denis, Mark and Jo) and Panettone. Mmm... Soon enough Mum, Stuart, Beth and George arrived and we settled down for a lovely meal followed by the quiz. Sadly Denis was a little worse for wear by the time the quiz came along and it took so long the others had to leave by the penultimate round. This was no major disaster as we still came... first! I know, it's a bit suspect but that's now 7 consecutive victories (ignoring our day off and the music quizzes). Left the pub like a pack horse, ladened with 12 bottles of wine, and all our gifts.

I was a tad annoyed to hear one of the members of another team (one who rarely makes it to the top three to boot!) came up to Jim and accused us of cheating. If he'd said that to me, I think I would have been very aggrieved but Jim handled it with good festive cheer which I think was the better way!

Christmas morning we headed down to Snodland to pick up my Nan. Sadly she wasn't quite ready by the time we got there so we parked up on Constitution Hill and whilst Jim caught a quick snooze I reminisced about the old video shop where my Mum worked whilst I was young, and the Lodge where my Nan worked and I used to hit up the old ladies for sweets and presents. Finally we picked her up, dropped by Great Aunt Joy's to get more presents and then we were on our way down to Hythe.

When we arrived at Hythe I opened the boot of the car to find we had brought LOTS of things. Presents, food and WINE. Lots, and lots, of wine. We settled down so that Nan, Jim and I could indulge in our delayed Christmas morning tradition of opening presents.

I was much pleased with my haul... the centre piece being a 1000 Marks Reichbank note from 1910 in perfect condition from Mum and Stuart. Also got: Stasi Hell or Workers' Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic from a Dear Constant Reader, Fragment from Beth, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall and The Scottish Nation: 1700-2007 from Mum and Stuart, Guinness World Records 2010 from George, Calvin Klein's Crave from Jim (and some more from Mum and Stuart), a nice wine from Great Aunt Joy, Great Railways of the World from Denis and a tenner from my Nan. Most excellent present gathering indeed!

This was followed by an awesomely relaxing day with very little TV, lots of chats (and Nan anecdotes such as the time she used a teddy bear to pick up a dropped knife to avoid bad luck!) and a huge dinner. Beth and George went to their Dads in the evening and we settled in for Doctor Who and other festive TV. All very nice.

Boxing Day was again relaxing and after taking a Nan back home, Jim and I went down the pub for a locals night where leftover food was shared out and much Wii bowling occurred (I got a most excellent score of 198 but didn't make it to the final!!)

Yesterday was the laziest day in history during which I geeked out over railways and Jim played his guitar.

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas time. I also hope you can forgive me for some of the forthcoming end of the decade nasel gazing that is to come this week. But don't worry there shall be an uplifting post at the end of the week looking to the future!

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here!

For the most part I've been able to spend the last few days being all smug at having purchased all my presents online. I hate shopping at the best of times, but I absolutely fail to understand the urge people have at Christmas time to engage in the torturous consumerist ritual of Christmas shopping.

Sadly, I had to pop to Tesco's in Lewisham today. Tesco's in Lewisham gives me a headache at the best of times, but today... today was awful. It was bad enough doing the shopping but the queue at the checkout was where even Jim "Nothing To Worry About, We're Not In A Rush" Niven lost his temper. We were third in the queue. Not bad I hear you think. Alas, first in the queue were two women who had three trolleys full of food. They couldn't quite understand the concept of one loading and one packing and instead one continued to shop whilst the other had a nice chat with the checkout girl. They were there for ONE HOUR. ONE HOUR just to checkout 3 trolleys of shopping. ONE HOUR!! Stupid people..

Anyway... I've got a meal with the family in the pub and a quiz tomorrow, Christmas Day in Hythe and then should be back home sometime on Boxing Day. So I probably won't be blogging between now and then and thus I want to wish every Dear Constant Reader a very Merry Christmas!!

Yuck... Happy Holidays. How very dull. I think next year we must all eradicate such silly phrases... it's Merry Christmas or nothing! :p

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

Christmas has well and truly begun!! Saturday I went on a brief but interesting sortie into Folkestone via the High Speed link.

Now, overall, the outward journey was only a few minutes shorter than going via the main line as I had to take a half hour journey on the DLR to Stratford Regional and allowed myself some extra time because I didn't know what to expect. It was actually really rather easy, getting off the DLR and then heading through the well signposted subway to Platform 11. Walk to the end of that and you find a bus (where tickets can be purchased for the Southeastern High Speed services). This whisks you to Stratford International (there's no pedestrian access at the moment!). There was only two of us on the bus which was also a bonus!

Stratford International puts me in mind of some of the newer TGV stations like Valence. It's big, modern and lacking charm. Not in an awful way, it is just a means to an end after all.

The train arrived, looking all sparkly and new and FAST, and upon boarding I found there was plenty of space and leg room (something I was NOT expecting). The journey was smooth, fast and the conductor was nice.

Kent was covered in snow! After moaning for so long about having no snow I was very happy to see it, even if it was at a high speed blur!

Arriving in Folkestone felt like coming home. Nothing better and I grabbed a taxi outside Folkestone Central and headed to the East Cliff Pavilion for Three Valley Waters Christmas do. Saw loads of old faces, felt more comfortable than last time and Stacey Lady was there which is, as ever, the best thing about TVW dos. Mere hours later I got a taxi back to Folkestone Central and headed back to Greenwich. Now without my added extra time for safety's sack the journey is a good 20-30 minutes shorter on the way back than it would be on the main line. Getting home I settled in at the pub for a cheeky midnight pint with Jim before sleep.

Sunday. Jim went to see his children which left me at a loss as to what to do. Hmm... Christmas. Jae is alone. Time for... Christmas movie day! I watched A Nightmare Before Christmas, Home Alone 2, Gremlins and Miracle on 34th Street. All very Christmassy and it was a very nice lazy day.

Monday... work. Yuck! But things brightened up at 4.40pm when there was an unexpected snow shower. Not just a little one either. By 5pm it was time to go home and I got to trudge (I repeat... TRUDGE, don't you love that word Dear Constant Reader?) through the snow to the tube station. All was going swimmingly until I arrived at Cannon Street. The station was closed and a huge crowd was gathered outside being marshalled around from the road by police. I made an executive decision and returned to the tube and made my way to the DLR at Bank. Here was crowded too (as not everyone is London is a total idiot) but there were two Lewisham trains due, a minute apart. I knew what that meant.

I settled down and watched the ensuring fights and squeezing that occurred when the first train arrived. Then once it had been departed I strolled up to the platform edge (behind the yellow line of course) and lo and behold the second train arrived and I sauntered on in comfort and calm, confident that the train in front would keep on clearing the platforms at every station ahead allowing me a no hassle journey home. Bliss.

Got off the train and headed straight for the local for twas the night of Christmas caroling! Whilst the Christmas Carolers when off around the Triangle (as we call the area here in Greenwich) demanding money with menances and threats of singing, the remaining men of the pub gathered around an open fire, roasting chestnuts and doing those oh so stereotypical "men around a fire" things. the Carolers returned and more songs were sung (not by me for both ideological and concerns for other people's ears reasons) before we had a dinner of jacket potato, beans and sausages from the BBQ round the back. Snow made the scenes even more Christmassy. There was a quiz but as Jim had written it, we didn't take part and then most of the Carolers left... except one. Oh, she was a little worse for wear and after telling Denis how hot and sexy he was she then decided Jim and I didn't look gay, began matching up other men in the pub who weren't gay and then went back to telling Denis how hot and sexy he was. Repeat for two hours. Hilarious!

A very good night indeed ended with a brief early morning snowball fight. Perfect.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tweets Of The Day

  • 08:07 Nobody has even heard of the Blitz spirit in this day and age. They expect everyone to do everything for them now. #
  • 08:08 Nobody brought us any food or water. Maybe you should have had some with you, just in case??? #
  • 08:08 "fobbed us off with excuses" What, like the train has broken down? Grow some balls people! #
  • 08:24 Dear Closeted Homosexual, If you are going to come out please don't do it via the Daily Mail like Gareth Thomas. Thanks #
  • 08:32 Eating chocolate orange at half 8 in the morning... it's Christmas!!!! #
  • 08:34 @SteveShd Yes, but still... The Daily Mail??? He is a rugby player after all, I'd expect him to have more class than that! :p #
  • 08:35 @SteveShd I said "class" not "classless" :p The Guardian or even, at the very least, the Times. #
  • 08:38 @SteveShd Now that is true... why come out publicly at all? I suspect he was being blackmailed by one of the papers... Grr.... #
  • 08:50 I think it's time Britain stopped being so bloody depres sed about history The Empire wasn't all bad. We weren't monsters. Chin up, old chap! #
  • 08:55 @SteveShd Yeah, I was listening to her thanks mainly to @PatrickCavill pretty early on too. #
  • 09:14 People are proud of someone coming out at 35? I'd be proud of someone coming out at 16. Or 80. But not 35! That's just soooo 90s and normal #
  • 09:21 @SteveShd Of course it's not!! :p #
  • 09:22 And don't straight people who say they are "proud" of someone coming out make you want to twat them one? Look at ME I'm ACCEPTING! LOVE ME! #
  • 09:36 @SkylarJordan Yeap. I've got straight mates, so I'm really progressive. I've even heard them talk about sex. And didn't throw up. :p #
  • 09:44 @SkylarJordan Thank you, thank you. I have white friends too, did I mention that? ;) #
  • 09:52 @neilmatthews1 Where is the report of passengers evacuating themselves? #
  • 09:54 I'm going on the HS1 train for the first time today!! Am I excited? Oh yes... then I get to see Stacey Lady! In Folkestone! #
  • 10:01 My route from the train station to the club I'm going to tonight t akes me past my old stalkee's house *resists stalking impulses* #
  • 10:41 Stalkee's everywhere can relax. Not enough time to walk from station so Folkestone Taxi's it is... but late night walk back... beware!! #
  • 10:49 @Spoooky_L Looks like you've travelled into the future to get your hair cut! :p #
  • 10:56 @Spoooky_L Not the colours, it was the shapes that gave away your time time travelling abilities :P #
  • 10:59 Right... off to Somerfields.... *somebody save me.... * #
  • 11:05 @s ad19 No snow. :( I am very, very disappointed. #
  • 11:05 Folkestone Tweets... is there any snow down there??? *hopes beyond hope* #
  • 11:06 @brumplum You have my sympathy. Godspeed and may the Force be with you! #
  • 11:07 @sad19 If I came to Medway, I#d have to go see my relatives, there would be no time for snow. Catch 22. #
  • 11:10 @brumplum *sigh* I tried following it but then he used to word "Thatchell" in a recent tweet and couldn't go on. #
  • 11:10 @sad19 I LOVE Medway. The hoodies. The earrings! The fact I'm from Snodland. It's all good. :p #
  • 11:12 @sad19 The pride I feel is beyond words. The sights... the clock tower... the working men's club, the other working men's club... :p #
  • 11:13 @brumplum Careful! You might get an ABSO! #
  • 11:14 @tomlowth Yeah, it had good AND bad parts. And, unlike most other countries, we acknowledge the bad parts. Just a bit too much sometimes. #
  • 11:15 @sad19 Oh that's called The Red Lion :p #
  • 11:16 Anyway... stop distracting me tweeps! I've got an emergency mission to get food for my two guys... @nivenj and Mr Gibbs!! Somerfield ho! #
  • 11:59 Portugal is considering gay marriage. Maybe if our oldest ally is contemplating it, our leaders might get round to thinking about it. #
  • 12:02 @Alan_Wilks Be careful! #
  • 12:04 @funktakula Greece? Yuck! They're getting themselves a toy boy: Brazil. Bit incestuous but you know what these continentals are like! :p #
  • 12:05 @funktak ula Don't give them ideas, the thought of a bit of Angola might get them all over excited and ruin a wonderful future marriage! :P #
  • 12:08 @funktakula Never a truer saying made! :D #
  • 12:12 Charles Kennedy on HIGNFY??? YAY! :D I think they could put Charles on just about anything and I'd love it. #libdems #
  • 12:16 I must just be cynical in my "Couldn't give a damn" attitude towards Gareth Thomas' coming out. #
  • 12:19 Surely someone coming out should just be greeted with a collective "Yeah, and???" #
  • 12:26 @NickCheltenham On a personal level, sure. But why should it matter to anyone else? #
  • 12:30 @brumplum I agree. We can do that better by just being gay. I find that approaches works best on the individual level. #
  • 12:36 @brumplum @NickCheltenham I do, indeed, LOVE ruggers. #
  • 13:22 All I Want For Christmas Is... this... #
  • 13:30 I thought it was the done thing to do the Review Of The Year after Christmas. Tut to all these early self promoters. #
  • 13:42 Al Megrahi and Ronnie Biggs... still both alive. There truly is no justice in this world. #
  • 14:01 Don't you just hate those left handed bastards! #
  • 14:09 I feel really strange today, very much like something bad is about to happen. Cannot relax. :( #
  • 14:29 Hmm... @nivenj has glitter on his face. Suspicious. ;) #
  • 15:00 @Spoooky_L I hate it when people follow me and then unfollow me the very next day. Grr... #
  • 15:05 @Spoooky_L I get warning emails from #
  • 15:58 Starting on a rather epic review of my life over the last decade. Quite uplifting/depressing really! #
  • 15:59 @gillian73 Yeap... off for a Christmas party tonight.. :D You? #
  • 16:03 @gillian73 I know... I'm shocking myself as well! No last minute shopping for me. Happy times :D Oh except for... lol #
  • 16:04 Javert's gets the best songs in Les Miserables. You just have to sympathise with him really... just doing his job and all that :p #
  • 16:06 Is it really, really sad that I'm not looking forward to my trip to Folkestone for the simple reason Jim's not going to be with me? :s #
  • 16:46 @brumplum Looking backwards is my way to get my mind into the mood to look forwards. Anyway looking forwards is for January :p #
  • 16:53 @brumplum Hmm.. I think you underestimate the importance I place on dates and doing certain things at certain times! :p #
  • 16:54 @markys_tweet As I've said to @brumplum I will be doing that for one of my January posts... big changes ahead just n ext year! #
  • 16:54 Time for toilet, brush teeth, and other such pre-journey things... #
  • 17:26 on my way... Brrr... It's cold... #
  • 17:43 @Psychocowboi can you bring onto dlr.... I is cold! #
  • 17:44 stratford bound twice in a week. Yuck. #
  • 18:13 stratford international reminds me of france. #
  • 18:33 @Spoooky_L @stigblog no! Clean, efficient and good at fast trains! #
  • 18:33 - 19122009028 - Nice leg room. Very nice. Jae loves southeastern high speed! #
  • 18:34 they have snow in kent... Hurrah! #
  • 18:34 whoosh! #
  • 18:35 @Psychocowboi whooshing through it as i type! #
  • 18:43 over the medway.... And onwards.... At speed. I can see this commuting business being ok #
  • 19:02 nearly in folkestone. Astonishing. #
  • 19:12 just saw a eurostar go by with people on it... Expect they are not v ery happy people... #
  • 19:13 @Spoooky_L i know... Right next door to my old school! #
  • 19:50 @Spoooky_L i'm not living in folkestone again until february. #
  • 19:53 nobody ever leaves tvw.. Comforting... #
  • 20:46 hot musculatr guy still working at tvw... Score.. #
  • 20:48 @Cyman because they've been stuck in the tunnel! #
  • 21:27 - 19122009029 - Th e infamous stacey lady with glow stick necklace #
  • 21:35 - 19122009030 #
  • 21:38 @Lee_Beck an old friend from work... #
  • 22:10 i love folkestone. #
  • 22:21 drunken chats with taxi drivers. Missed them *hugs folkestone* #
  • 22:23 so... 40 mins until my train... Folkestone taxis were too damn quick for omce! #
  • 22:25 @Lee_Beck not famous yet.. Only matter of time.... #
  • 22:38 - 19122009031 - Those are my old managers.. I now earn more than them.. Ha ha.. #
  • 22:39 - 19122009032 #
  • 22:40 - 19122009033 - Hello snow! #
  • 22:59 whooshing back across kent to london #
  • 23:05 - 19122009035 #
  • 23:32 the trapped eurostar has been cleared. How do i know? I'm looking at it now! #
  • 23:58 @squawkbox what i found worked best was to lie across 4 seats and relax ;) #
  • 00:04 nearly home... Folkestone seems much closer now #
  • 00:06 canary wharf... Nearly there.. #
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Another Week!

Tuesday: Was quiz night! And, continuing a rather impressive winning streak broken only by the monthly music quiz and our one night off, we won again! Becoming a bit of a habit, and despite belief the contrary we do not cheat!

Wednesday: Another trip to Needoo's began with a visit to Whitechapel, and I believe the half hour I spent waiting outside Whitechapel tube station deserves a blog entry for itself. Jim, Mark and Jo eventually turned up (on time, i.e. late in Jae time ;) ) and we had a pint in the Grave Maurice. Despite it's rather "Backwater town club" feel, the staff and punters were friendly, the Stella cool and refreshing and the sofas comfy. Loaded with some beer and wine from the local shop we finally wandered up to Needoos to discover there was a power outage! We returned to the Grave Maurice for another pint in the hopes half an hour might solve the problem but when we returned we found it hadn't. We sat in the dark with a few other brave customers but eventually, after a few rounds of poppadoms and reading menus by mobile phone light, we decided to give it a miss. A shame as I did enjoy it the other week. Instead we caught a taxi back to Greenwich, and made my first ever trip through the Rotherhithe tunnel. Excitement.

In Greenwich we settled in for a good old Folkestonian meal... at the Gurkha's Inn! Mmm.. we normally get take out but I have to say it's nothing compared to a sit down meal. Tasty. It was a shame, for the owners, that we were the only customers. After Mark and Jo headed home, Jim and I partook of a cheeky one in the local before falling to sleep.

Thursday: Snow Day. Ish. I spent the whole day having my snow hopes raised and dashed repeatedly. Every flurry was a source of hope of snow and perhaps an extra day off work. I went to sleep reluctantly, desperate for a white start to the morning.


Friday: Whilst most parts of the south east were able to engage in that most British of sports, moaning about snow, we Londoners had to make do with a little light covering in some places and nothing in others. The trains were working far too well for this lazy man's liking.

But the day was spent at work dreaming of snow and the occasional flurry again created an emotional rollercoaster of despair and hope but still... nothing. Great sadness indeed!

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Greenwich Train Times!

So today was the first day of Southeastern's radical new timetable. I had two very different experiences.

On the way to Cannon Street things were not going smoothly. Firstly it was pretty clear that everyone from the old 07:03 Charing Cross train and everyone from the old 07:13 Cannon Street train had decided to get the new 07:03 Cannon Street train together. Add on top of this that the train arrived 5 minutes later and you have one very uncomfortable journey in. :( Hoping that with train being on time and the "Oh my, there's a new timetable today?" crowd gone things might be a little better tomorrow.

The trip home... was absolute bliss. Cannon Street trains home were not only on time... but absoltely empty and not only did all the normal sized people get a seat but giant folk like me got one too on the 18:00!! Lovely.

Let's see if the kinks on the morning journey get ironed out, else it might be an even early morning for me from now on...

The train above is not the train from Greenwich but hopefully within the next couple of months will be. It's the South Eastern Highspeed and she's gorgeous.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big Dad: 4 Years Later

Many years ago, when I was doing my GCSE's, I was going through some nasty personal issues as my newly found religion went up against my newly discovered sexuality. I think my Mum must have realised this, because she organised for me to go somewhere over the spring half time. Somewhere where I found myself. That place was Big Dad's.

My Granddad was the real black sheep of the family. His family history is murky (and that is being kind... I'm still trying to find out about his relatives) and he was not around by the time I was born.

About 5 years before my birth he eloped, leaving my Nan and her five children in the lurch. He moved to Suffolk to live with a lady named Sandy and her daughter Tanya. So when I was born Granddad was not spoken of kindly. Nan had had to take up several jobs, working every hour God sent, in order to keep a roof over the heads of her children and food on their plate (and then on mine too when I came along!). Four of her children, my Mum included, blamed my Granddad for destroying her life and theirs. I don't think Nan ever engaged in poisoning her children against my Granddad but my eldest auntie certainly did to her siblings.

And let's be honest, it was a bit nasty to leave his children without keep. Run away but don't try to escape your financial responsibilities. But anyway... his new life did not last long. Shortly after she gave birth to my youngest uncle, Derek, Sandy passed away leaving Granddad with a step-daughter and son to care for.

I only ever met him once before my visit as a teenager when I was about 4 and Derek was 8. I remember only that 1) house was cold and 2) I caught nits there. Hardly inspiring memories.

So it was with some trepidation that I arrived at his cottage in Suffolk. The driveway was covered in the wrecks, literal wrecks, of MGs with grass growing through them. These wrecks, I would later discover, harboured Cat and Fluff the two sentries of the cottage who attack the unwary.

Once through the door, it was hard to find ANYTHING that wasn't falling to bits. Old magazines lay shrewn across the floor, half finished bottles of Coke sat in every room, and there was the occasional smashed window. I.e. it was my idea of heaven having come from the house of an obsessive compulsive. My Mum made a quick escape lest she find the hoover and be unable to resist tidying. And that was me for the week...

Granddad was always a person of obsessions, and passing one's at that. In that we are very much the same, although he was both more practical and more thorough than I. I remember Mum telling me of his obsession with a new form of scaffolding connector which, once invented, he sold for a mere £10,000 down the local pub. That new form of scaffolding connector is now found on pretty much every scaffolding kit out there. Damn his passing obsessions! At the time I arrived in the house his obsession was computing. Amiga's, Commodore's and Atari's littered, literally, the house and this was in age when they were already obsolete. I think it was then that I knew we'd get on just great...

The week passed with playing ancient computer games (Chucky Egg anyone), watching Derek's VHS collections (and discovering my love of Terminator, Alien, etc. etc.) and pottering around with Big Dad (oh yes, he was called Big Dad by everyone up there), Derek and the family of Ludovic Von Kennedy (Big Dad was obviously in love with his daughter and Derek was actually going out with his granddaughter. Kind of disgusting when one points that out... :s). There was fried breakfasts which tasted good but had little black bits all over it as the word "cleaning" was unknown even in the kitchen. There were baths in a bath that actually had a colony of spiders living around it. There was time spent keeping cricket greens and other times wondering why Big Dad had a garden full of portacabins (note it was to do with his last invention which is now in the hands of my Mum... God save us all).

During that time I learnt from watching the 18 year old Derek exactly what lay ahead in my late teens (good times) which was something I'd never seen, which really helped me move on from my problems at the time into a new frame of mind. And I realised Granddad was not a monster just a very silly man with a genius level of intelligence and a distinct lack of common sense.

After that, something strange happened. I don't know if it was to do with my glowing report but Granddad and Derek were allowed back into the family. There was a joint birthday party that year in Snodland Community Centre for Nan and Granddad. Melly's death brought Granddad even more closely, mentally if not physically, back into the fold. And he was even allowed on the head table at David's abortive wedding, although in typical style (and much to my taste) he wore a messy shirt. Gotta love him.

So what is the reason for all this Granddad related nostalgia? Well four years ago today he passed away... and I very much doubt anyone other than Derek will be remembering that. His death caused my family to descend into chaos as Derek and Tanya were, basically, robbed of their inheritance by "my side" of the family who wanted to compensate Nan for all her trouble's. In so doing his cottage was sold (and possibly demolished although Google Maps, as shown below, leaves me hopeful it's still standing...) and ties to Derek were forever severed....

So here's to Big Dad and all he stood for... the intelligence and the stupidity of humanity, both in himself and in our family as a whole after his death. May he rest in peace.

And here's to Derek... our missing relative and good luck in whatever he's doing now. Severed from his family, living his own life... he's a living tribute to Big Dad.

View Grandad's Old Cottage in a larger map

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Week In Briefs

Tuesday: hectic day at work as there was an inspection on. I was selected to represent my team and have an inspector listen in to my calls and ask me questions. This was followed by a trip to the 7th Floor (never been quite that high before!) for a debriefing where I was asked how many breathes I took during the visit and whether the inspector looked me in the eye. After work headed down the pub to see Jim. Won the quiz (YET AGAIN... We Are The Champions!). This was followed by many more hours of drinking and Jim and I stumbled home around 2am... slightly worse for wear.

Wednesday... another night in the pub although we finished it off before 11pm. Hair of the dog and all that. I had not felt particularly jolly at work! Ouchy head.

Thursday... more work. Fucking boring work.

Friday. Workity, workity, work. Then went out for a couple of drinks in the Hammersmith Ram before heading back to Greenwich. Horrible trip home caused by Christmas partying, stupid suits. Got to local to find Jim, Mark and Jo drinking surrounded by Mark and Jo's French friends. Cheek kissing ensued. Awkward. Then a puppeteer joined us and let us in on the next big thing... on CBeebies anyway. I stalked "new" cute bar man

It was a good night and I came home with 36 Mini Mince Pies courtesy of Denis. Score!

Now for our last lazy weekend before the move...

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Monday, December 07, 2009


When one "aims high", usually it is to aim for something grand, to better one's social position or career prospects.

Maybe it is my humble background, coming from a line of down to Earth farm and paper mill workers. Maybe it's just a crippling lack of ambition. But when I ask myself what I truly want it's not a million pounds, nor a position of power. It's peace, quiet and freedom (all with Jim of course!).

Oh I dream of a life free of work, free to travel around, free to flee from commuters and suits. I know, an impossible dream. But it's something to aim for isn't it? I don't often aspire, so maybe I should set myself a goal for once. Aim for the stars, and I might reach the moon.

Now... I've been slacking in my Brent Corrigan love this year... time to make up for that with a particularly good "Brent With The Oh So Sexy Floppy Hair Look" picture.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, December 06, 2009

There's More To Life Than Work

That's what I say anyway. And, as you Dear Constant Reader well know, I'm always looking for way out of the rat race. I never actually get off my fat arse to do anything about it, I've been more content to sit around and moan about how unfair the world of work is.

Well I must, must, must change this. Despite what I, and probably you, might think I'm NOT stupid. Disregarding the fact I hate saying nice things about myself due to deep seated emotional issues for a moment, I know I am somewhat intelligent. But do I have any "skills"? Hmm... that is the question. I can see patterns in things, work out the underlying cause of problems pretty damn quick and retain AND share information as and when necessary. I've been referred to as "The Oracle" and "a walking Wikipedia" as I tend to know the right information that people need. That's why I quickly become to go to person in any company I work in. But is that a "skill"? Could I market that? I think not. Could I put it to use? Of course. But doing what?

I don't mind the concept of work, but I want work more on my terms. I know that I'll always need customers, so "my terms" is a negotiable concept but I must, simply must, get out of the rat race asap.

Must DO SOMETHING! I'm a human being, get me out of here!

Right time for a bit of Tom from Coach Trip...

And yes, the blog's name has changed... back once again *with the Renegade Master* to "come back to what you know". I can't help it. I always come back to what I know!! So old title and the old quote... together once again.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Friday, December 04, 2009


Work. Currently we are in the first stages of redeployment (for which read redundancy) across many different departments in the company I work for. That includes my department. I applied for a new job a couple of weeks ago and was very disappointed to not even be shortlisted for the role. The real disappointing thing was that I know the people who were shortlisted... if they are better than me then I'm in REAL trouble. Shudder.

Anyhew, I'm not a careerist and so it's a disappointment but hardly as important as the next downer this week: Jim has got H1N1!! He wasn't feeling too well on Wednesday and took a turn for the worse yesterday... hopefully he'll be feeling a little better when he wakes up today. I've taken carers leave so he doesn't need to do anything today.

So let us look beyond disappointments and worrying things to something moe pleasant...

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Jae and Jim Take The Family To Scotland!

Pictures of the holiday can be found here

So, my holiday began on Wednesday with a lunch trip to Needoo Grill in Whitechapel. It's shame Whitechapel is such a ghetto, as Needoo Grill is absolutely awesome. The south Asian cuisine was so very, very tasty. I recommend the peshwari naan and the pakoras. Yum, yum, yum! We spent some time in the local and lazed the day away.

Thursday, and Jim and I headed up to Luton as part of "Jae's Mission Never To Be Late For A Plane". On the way up, along the M1, spotted some sort of falcon (no, it wasn't a kestrel!) sitting on a fence. Very beautiful.

Luton, unfortunately, not so beautiful. We stayed overnight at the Leaside Gastrotel, which was nice. The room was big (we stayed in Room 101 which, as well as giving us a good laugh, suffered severely from road noise), the bar was comfy (with lovely Stella Triple Filtered on tap), and the food divine. I've been to Italy, but I had the tastiest pizza ever on Thursday night. Luton itself was a bit... dire. Another ghetto, where the only sign of a bit of class was the Polish organic food shop.

Friday, we woke up early and had a pleasant breakfast at the Gastrotel. It was pretty quiet, but the one other guy there was a God. He was MT... with a little bit of bulk. I.e. he was my perfect man. I informed Jim, and Twitter, that my life was now complete and we made our way to the airport.

Luton Airport... was actually not that bad. The security staff were less rude than Heathrow and the queue moved far more quickly despite being about ten times bigger. I still had to remove my boots but we can't have everything. Jim and I relaxed in the executive lounge until Mum, Stuart and the twins arrived, whereupon we had to rough it with the plebs at the bar.

Despite going straight to the gate when the flight was called, I was still near the back of the queue and, this being Easyjet (*shudder*), I was thus forced to take a normal seat. Proof, if needed, that I am unable to fit into a normal seat (my legs literally could not even be forced to go either side of the seat in front, instead I was squashed to one side). The pain is indescribable but thankfully the flight to Glasgow is a short one. I was soooooo pleased to pull myself out of that plane with my legs still in working order.

The trip to Lochgoilhead was easy as usual. It's nice I now recognise the journey, around Loch Lomond, up to Loch Long, then a left at the Rest and Be Thankful and down through the Argyll Forest Park to Lochgoilhead. We were staying at Drimsynie again but things would be a little different this time.

Firstly, instead of staying in one of the Toblerone chalets, we were in a much larger house (virtual tour here). It was lovely, clean and modern. We, of course, bagsied the en-suite room.

Secondly, curling was off. A week or so ago they had phoned to say the curling rink had a problem with it's ice. We decided to go anyway but even though the ice actually was fixed by the Saturday, we were no longer in the mood. The worst part of this was that most of the other people who would normally be there had cancelled their curling trips and thus the entire place seemed deserted and ghost like.

Thirdly, nothing went right. Nothing went "wrong" as such. But the usually efficient organisation and communication just wasn't there. Our breakfasts weren't booked in. Our lunches were booked in but no one told us. Our leisure passes were forgotten. They were minor niggles that were easily sorted but they have put Jim off ever going back again.

And finally... on Saturday and Sunday we decided to mix things up a little.

But firstly, Friday night. We had meals from the bar and settled in for an evening of kareoke. There were no cuties and it was almost a no go at all but two absolutely rat-arsed Scottish guys and a few out of key locals soon had us tapping our feet and trying to hold back laughter. It was great until three local teenage girls got up and forced us to leave the building as their singing was worse than bad... it was truly awful.

Saturday saw us have our first proper breakfast (think potato scones and black pudding...) and then we undertook our first adventure... a boat and fishing trip out on Loch Goil. We set out in our little boat and headed down to Carrick Castle, via the seal colony, and occasional stopped to fish (no success there, but still very fun). We had a very inquisitive seal visit the boat a couple of times but I was most taken with seeing a black-throated diver "flying" under water in an attempt to catch our spinners. Absolutely gorgeous.

The clouds had been low when we set off, but whilst we were fishing off Carrick Castle we failed to notice it had lowered even further and a very thick fog now lay between us and our dock at the north of the loch. We were on the far side of the loch and wanted to get to the other side in order to follow the shore northwards... but the fog moved over us as we reached the middle... and we were lost.

I don't want you to think I'm overplaying this, but the fog gave visibility was only 15m and the still waters only added to the sense we were in some grey bubble. We pottered along for a while in search of the shore but soon wiser heads run over and we stopped the engine. We had no way of knowing we weren't going around in circles. About to call for help, Jim managed to get a GPS signal on his phone and with him at the helm, Stuart navigating by GPS and the rest of us shivering, counting our supplies (2 Jaffa Cakes!!!! AH!!!) and keeping look out we were able to find shore and move north.

When we arrived at the dock, 5 minutes early!, we discovered a rather relieved looking boat owner. He was obviously pretty concerned at having a group of tourists out in one of his boats in the fog, but thankfully old seadog Jim had seen us through to safety... if with a little added adventure.

Saturday night's Dinner/Dance had been cancelled due to the fact there was no one about so instead we had dinner in the Green Room restaurant in Drimsynie House Hotel and then went down to the bar for the band "So Driven", who were quite good but we didn't stay long as my sister was "feeling ill" (for which read attempting to get between Mum and Stuart. Aww... to be a teenager and have a step dad... those were the days!).

The next day we decided to be even more adventurous and, for the first time in my four visits to Lochgoilhead, we left the confines of the village and headed out to explore Scotland!

Our first destination was Glen Coe. The scenery on route was glorious, reminding me that there really is more to this country than London and the big towns. The bitter cold was relieved at a rest stop over looking Lake Tulla with a lovely square sausage sandwich and a cup of tea. At Glen Coe I headed for the gift shop first where I spent so much money on books (one about my family's Clan Davidson history... everyone can have a Scottish Clan history, get yours soon!) and Christmas presents that the guy behind the till gave me some Scottish tablet free and informed me that my family would always be welcome at Glen Coe. Given that this was the scene of the Glencoe massacre, I have to say I've done my bit for inter-British relations!

The visitors centre was informative but wildly expensive for what it was. Thankfully the beauty of Glen Coe more than made up for it.

Then it was onwards to Fort William and Ben Nevis. Sadly... the weather didn't hold. By the time we had made it around Loch Linnhe, the clouds had come down and Ben Nevis was no where to be seen. So I've been near this country's tallest mountain but still failed to see it. Damn it.

After a quick trip to Morrison's it was back to Lochgoilhead, dinner in the Green Room and a night in watching DVDs.

And then it was Monday... breakfast, Glasgow airport and home again (50 minutes from Luton to the Sun in the Sands roundabout [i.e. about a mile and a half from home] and 1 hour from there to the house thanks to a Blackwall Tunnel disaster of some description. Grr.)

Shout out to Luton Airport Car Parkz who made the start and end of the trip so bloody relaxing and trouble free. Excellent service at a good rate.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist