Archive for July, 2009

Ennui time again

I’ve had a day off today and rather than that miserable feeling I had the last time, I’ve deliberately done lots today. I went to B&Q to pick up the last bits I need for my self-torture/ tendon stretching device. Whilst there I picked up a cute three-pack of cactus, then re-potted my cactus bowl when I got home. I made a display of flowers from the garden (in a large glass. It challenged the contemporary aesthetic. So much so, Wendy immediately re-arranged it into a vase. Luddite! I represent the bleeding edge of the avant garde!)

Anyway, then I deep cleaned the house. I started by doing the toilets (the downstairs one gets particularly clarted in crap due to the excessive amount of industrial grade hairspray Wendy applies on a daily basis. If that’s what it’s doing to the floor, I really do wonder about her lungs. It’s a good job she doesn’t smoke. Quite aside from making it a double whammy of damage on her lungs, there would be the very real danger of her exploding.)

Then I thought I might as well hoover upstairs, then I carried on and did the stairs, then the front room rug. Then I finished off with one off those floor wipe jobbies doing the kitchen and around the front room rug.

Then I worked out for an hour, practising my kicks with the one kilo ankle weights on.

I also managed to fit in an end to the first part of my latest stab at a story, go the chippy (Friday, law and all) have a shower, watch Gardeners World and two episodes of Chuck.

So it’s been quite a busy, and fairly productive day.

 

Have to be up in five and a half hours so I’d better get to bed.

At least I don’t have to take any more driving tests! Yay!

Buck.

Story, Nothing to see here, move along.

………………..

“I’m a werewolf.”

He said it deadpan. No inflection in his voice, no hint of a smile, no boast nor irony. Just “I’m a werewolf.”

John found his jaw opening and closing as he tried to find a reply.

Nothing.

Having someone state that they are a werewolf is like felling a metaphorical giant redwood across a person’s train of thought, John found.

His mouth tried to open again, John shut it decisively.

Finding no way forward he tried to review the conversation for earlier errors or misunderstandings. They had been discussing martial arts, or in truth, John had while Peter had offered the odd nod. John had been musing aloud about the mixture of martial arts in which he was currently training. Taekwondo, all about kicking, and Wing Chun Kung Fu, all about punching, blocking and generally using your hands and arms to fight. He had wondered aloud if the combination of the two styles was the recipe for becoming an unbeatable fighter.

Unusually, Peter had brought something to the monologue. He answered the rhetorical question. “No.”

This had brought John’s first pause. The fact that Peter had chosen to speak on the subject of martial arts was sufficiently out of character to warrant attention, but for him to state such an opinion categorically, was quite shocking.

John had started to dismiss the statement by pointing out the shortfalls of kick-boxing, but Peter had again surprised him by interrupting to say he hadn’t meant there was a better style.

Perplexed, John had asked what he meant.

“Any human can be beaten by a werewolf.”

John was relieved to hear it was a joke, but also slightly irritated that Peter was wasting his time.

“A werewolf!” he’d scoffed.

Then he’d said it; “I’m a werewolf.”

.. ..

The silence extended uncomfortably. John was lost for a reply. He looked at Peter, trying to interpret what he saw. Peter sat looking back at him, a blank canvas. He was betraying no emotion, but had a look about the eyes that John couldn’t define.

John’s first reaction was to laugh it off, but some deeper instinct was warning him not to. It wasn’t the wary-of-further-embarrassment warning that prompted you to exit promptly when someone told you that they’d accepted an invisible friend as their personal saviour, or the other not suffering fools lightly imposition of the nutter on the bus. It was a warning of real danger.

.. ..

The silence was really dragging out now, and Peter was showing no sign of relieving it by word or deed.

.. ..

John had a book of autostereograms at home. He had bought it on a whim and been amused by how you could be looking at a seemingly random pattern and then suddenly your brain flipped it’s perception over and you were looking at a 3d image coming out of the page. That was what it was like. The silence dragging on, the look about Peter’s eyes, his instinct confusing him, all disparate messages, then suddenly WHAM! One message.

.. ..

The unease he was feeling, and his inability to instantly reply to the ludicrous assertion. The look around the eyes. He recognised with a horrible shock where he knew it from; the beginning of a fight!

You walk in, weighing your opponent up, not ready to give anything away, focused on what they were about to do. There is a tension, an uneasiness, before the first blow is landed. Fear and aggression being held in an over-riding balance. And the look about the eyes was what that concentration looked like.

.. ..

Now the silence held a deeper tension, but in his sudden awareness John was even less able to break it. He’d known Peter since school, they’d truanted the boring bits together. He’d seen him throwing up after they had managed to buy some cider from an unscrupulous corner shop owner when they were fifteen. They had gone on his twenty first birthday pub crawl together, he still had photo’s of them when he’d been Peter’s best man. He’d dutifully drunk with Peter when Lucy had left him and taken his son to her new boyfriend’s house in Cornwall.

.. ..

He’d know Peter, intimately, for over twenty years. He’d never been to any form of fighting club, he was easy going, and John knew he could have beaten him up without breaking a sweat. But now he felt he was starting to sweat.

Still Peter said nothing, nor changed his expression in any way, just watched.

.. ..

John started exploring thoughts unthinkable a few minutes ago; had he ever noticed anything unusual about Peter? Was he ever mysteriously absent around the full moon? Had he ever been overly hirsute, or exhibited a predilection for steak tartar? John realised he was getting carried away with his speculation, he didn’t even know what a real werewolf was, or did.

With another sense of jarring shock he realised he believed Peter was a werewolf, whatever that meant. No, he knew he was.

He looked at Peter again, who sat there emotionless and inscrutable. From deep inside himself John realised Peter was reading him, aware of his chain of thoughts and waiting for him to reach…, what?

How was it he had never noticed that Peter was so…, still? He sat there exuding nothing but stillness, yet managed to purvey dangerously powerful potential.

It was so obvious John was amazed he’d never noticed it previously.

Or, to put it another way, why was it so obvious now?

John’s eyes widened. He held his shaking hands before him, as though he’d never seen them before.

“I’m a werewolf.” He whispered.

.. ..

Breaking News!

Just a quick one. Whilst being dicked about something fierce in work this morning, I was walking across the yard from one department to another. I met up with Nick, the union rep for the drivers, (he who said he would clear it with the management for me to get some practise in at my reverse in one of the works trucks. Which, after some arsing around he duly did.)

Well, I was minding my own business, and was in a fairly foul mood due to the aforementioned dicking- about- ness, when he pulled up alongside me and congratulated me on passing. I thanked him and said it was about time. He then said, unbidden, that he been in to the transport office on my behalf, and they (the transport management) were on about setting up a training scheme for me!

Happy days! Frown upside down.

As I say, it was unbidden so he had no need to invent it, so I’m hoping it is genuine, and that the deed follows the intent.

That would be perfect. Whatever they have in mind, and however long it takes, I have my foot in the door.

I have been on professional drivers websites where newly qualified drivers were offering to work for free to get experience. That’s how tough it can be. If they come good on this, it would be ideal. Work to their standard, get known, then when they need me I’m there. The drivers all reckon our place is the best paid driving job in the area, and they don’t ask for nights out, sleeping in your cab. Most of the jobs on the interweb expect it.

This is before my license has come back from darkest Wales, and therefore before I’ve stepped into the office to present my case.

There is hope for me. Yay!

I’m going to leave it there, just a quick but really hopeful entry.

Later,

Buck.

Hat and this and that

Well, I’ve given up on my old hat. It has served me well, if tightly, for these last few years. I ordered it from Canada so when it arrived, and was too tight, I didn’t fancy the return postage for a bigger size. To make matters worse, the hat-band seems to have been forged from titanium. No amount of squeezing it onto my head would make it stretch. Then there was the problem with the brim. Although on my profile picture it is doing as I wanted, usually if you bent the front down to shape it the sides would all go to cock.

Nice hat, served me faithfully, but faded badly and now it’s time to move on.

Here is the new improved hat. I started window shopping a week or two ago and came across this style. It is shaped into a dipped brim at the front and back, and though I didn’t know it, soft as gloves on your head. (Not that that is where I usually wear my gloves, you understand.) I tracked down the style, then a U.K. stockist (for about £40 plus P&P) then found someone selling them for £17.95 inclusive of P&P but they wanted me to set up a new payment system (Worldpay. Never heard of it.) Then I realised they were selling the same hat on ebay! Bleeding typical.

When it arrived it was too big, but I boxed it up again, sent it back and had the smaller size in three days! Good service!

Enough of the words and such, check out this baby:

Yeah verily, I rock!

Whilst I’m here I suppose I’d better clarify a point in my previous entry. The talking snake was a biblical reference alluding to the hilarious story of a talking phallic symbol that tempted the first woman, thereby damning the first man. Which seems to indicate that misogyny is not new and that the bible was written by men. Freud must have pissed himself laughing when he read that one.

I only mention it to rule out any misunderstanding involving a certain Mr Harold Potter and his abilities as pertaining to the field of parseltongue.

You would think such elucidation unnecessary, indeed patronising. I would have agreed had it not been for an incident of late.

My niece, Robyn, posted something jolly on her MySpace jobby to the effect of ‘ Five years from now we could be walking in the zoo, with the sun shining down on me and you.’

In the spirit of balance I replied ‘ Or lying, dying, bleeding and in pain, under a bus in the pouring rain.’

Which she said was horrible. I replied ‘ A poet, like a prophet, is without honour in his own town.’ Which she simply didn’t understand.

Apparently the youth of today are unaware of the ridiculous fiction they should be despising. Go the yoof!

Meanwhile, back at the Buck-cave…

I have made good my resolution to get push-biking. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. All the way to work and back.

The prospective benefits are manifold; No more points on my license, increased stamina and stronger cardio-vascular system, supposedly stretched tendons, saving money on petrol, and saving the planet (you can thank me by form of hard cash).

To be honest, although it is a bit over six miles each way and at the present that’s half an hour of hard pedalling, it’s not too bad. I don’t really get breathless and I could keep up that level of exertion for a lot longer than that. The down sides are; I’m arriving at work lathered like a grand national winner, or, as yesterday, soaked in rain, the bike is stuck in tenth gear which is challenging when setting off on any degree of incline and has already started to knacker the set-in-rust old bike, and MY ARSE!

Oh my sweet lordy the pain! I have formed a nasty ridge twixt my nethers (you’ll be pleased to here I have no intention of posting pictures of that particular sight for sore eyes) and every day when I throw my leg over the saddle I have to do ‘it’s only pain. work through it.’ mantras. Also it is kind of defeating the object, or at least one of them. I expend so much time and energy in the damn push-biking that I haven’t had enough of either to train at my TKD all week!

I am on a long weekend now, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. I still haven’t worked out. I was supposed to be going down to my sisters to sort out a download system for her youngest (in my new-found, unwarranted, and externally imposed role as I.T. tech) so didn’t get stuck in to a work-out first thing. When I got there there was no one in, so I’ve come back and dicked about on the computer.

I’ve been looking for a second hand push-bike. Something that has gears that work. Ideally a racer. I’m sure in the old days, when we would cycle sixty miles in an afternoon just for something to do, that we zipped along. I’m blaming my current lack of zip on the stupid fat mountain bike tyres. I was so convinced that it was the tools (as opposed to the bad -read: ‘fat and lazy’- workman) that I counted the teeth on the cogs. I was pedalling and getting nowhere, so it must be that the ratio was wrong. Nope. Fifty two teeth on the front cog, twelve on the back, just like tenth gear on my racer used to be. So now it is the contact patch and the un-aerodynamic riding position of said mountain bike.

Of course I will get a racer and discover that it is actually (as Christian fundamentalists claim to explain the millions of years old planet that the bible states is but four, or possibly six, -I forget-, thousand years old) that time has slowed down. It’s nothing to do with me being twenty plus years older, a stone or so heavier, and as lazy as a sloth on valium. 

Wendy has got her job at bleeding long last. She did one day as a wages slave and they were ringing her at home asking her to come in on her day off (she’s salaried, so unpaid) to pull them out of the shit. Then she said that because as a volunteer she went in Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and now she’s employed she will be working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they’ve allotted her appointments for Thursday but not moved or cancelled her Monday ones. She will have to work four days for the next fortnight for three days pay. They are taking the piss if you ask me. They all knew what the shifts were, and what she worked, it’s not rocket science to move them into alignment.

Anyway, she’s still happy with it. She is being paid to learn what is for her the best aspect of the best job, thus ensuring she will always be employed in that field.

Personally I feel like going down to the office and laying down the law, and a few of her bosses.

Keep taking the ‘get over yourself’ pills Bucky.

I was looking on t’interweb, window shopping for prospective jobs for when my license returns if my works won’t take me on, and there was one there: Mon-Fri, poss Sat morning, occasional overnighters sleeping in your cab, class 1 driver, with bonus, £15k!

Larf!

All the rest seem to be agency, and require lots of experience (even if the job actually exists, bloody agencies). I’ve started to complete the online application form for Stobbarts, but have had to pause as they need driving license details and my license is still in darkest Wales. I’ve also asked the Royal Mail to email me when any driving jobs occur. I will get there, even if I have to take a really crap job just to get the experience. Once in work I can apply for any jobs that arise demanding experience.

Right, I’m off,

later,

Buck.

PS, it’s now Sunday night, the long weekend has flown by, and I feel somewhat out of sorts. I don’t feel I’ve achieved anything this weekend, and I’m back at work in a few hours. I don’t know what I expected to achieve. Nothing on my to-do list really. I tried to sort out our Nathan’s computer, not my fault he wasn’t in. It was too soggy for me to be arsed gardening much. Taekwondo was cancelled when I got there today, but I’ve done two good work-outs while I’ve been off.

I can’t pass a test every time I have a day off, and if I keep self-medicating with  retail therapy I’ll just be replacing ennui with money worries. Focusing and diverting, but not really in a good way. I’m probably just tired and bored. And I don’t want to go back to work, and I’m in a state of limbo whilst I wait for my license to return.

Ennui is such a decadently self-indulgent affliction. If someone is trying to kill you, or you are desperate for food or water, or in intense pain you just don’t have the energy to expend on it. I suppose I should thank the Army for providing me with that knowledge, but I don’t.

Positive Bucky: I’ve been using my ankle weights whilst training and they are good. They are velcro-ed strap on jobbies, you can start with one half kilo weight, then keep adding them up to two and a half kilos. Nearly five and a half pounds in English. I’ve started off with a kilo on each ankle. Then I was struck by a flash of genius! Whilst doing head kicks, or as I was trying for, throat kicks, I was worried I might be kicking diagonally. You want to kick up to the height then turn the whole body, flicking your foot horizontally. Diagonally would be bad as it would mean you would impact with your targets body before reaching the head/ neck. Then it struck me; stand a brush up at the side of the target. If I was hitting that before the target, well that would have been bad. However, even wearing my kilo weights I was clearing it and making the kick! Go me!

Well anyway, it’s been better than working. And I’ve been enjoying ‘Chuck’. Just tired I reckon. Later,

Buck.

Evil Lisa!

I forgot to say, we went around to my sisters house last Sunday. She is a bit of an evil genius at the making of puddings. If you think of the artistry of Gary Rhodes, the relish of Nigella Lawson, and the to-hell-with-the-calories of the Two Fat Ladies, you are in the right area. Add a soupcon of talking snake and you’ve got it.

With one pudding she managed to break two diets. I love my sweet stuff so I piled straight in, but Wendy was saying ‘perhaps I’ll have a spoonful out of one’. Lisa, gave her a bowl (they were already made up into little bowls) and after the first spoonful, even though she was full, Wendy was eating the lot.

I was half way through my bowl, in an ecstasy of creamy goodness, when our Lisa started talking about the problem she’d had with the jelly.

Bugger!

Jelly =gelatine =animal product.

I’m a veggie.

I paused, spoon laden with calorific sublimity, then thought ‘well I’ve already eaten some. Screw the animals’, and troughed the lot.

Bad Bucky! Buddha demerits.

Which is a recurring ethical problem. I have leather goods, I use slug pellets and pesticides, yet I want to be a veggie. At what point does a life inherit value? Buddha says not to take any life, as we are all indistinguishably one. But would he not have boiled dirty water?

It’s a dilemma, but it’s bedtime.

Later,

Buck.

And there’s more…

Well it’s proving a good week for us. Wendy had her interview today, passed with flying colours, and is back to being a (part-time) wages slave as of next week!

When she was last with the C.A.B. she worked on a project called G.P. Outreach as a sort of independent advisor. She would go to doctors surgeries and deal with people the doctor referred, such as people with debts, housing issues, benefits problems etc. The idea was that she could then deal with people who were too loony or simple to just attend the regular bureau. Then, in dealing with the some of the causes of stress and misery in their lives it would let the doctor offer a more holistic package whilst freeing the doctor up to just deal with the medical issues.

I only mention that to explain that in her last role Wendy had to take on a whole lot of issues then deal with most of them herself as the clients weren’t capable, and keep on dealing with every little issue that arose in their lives. She was constantly having ongoing clients calling her and then she was worrying over every thing in their sad lives.

Although on the one hand rewarding, it was emotionally draining and too much of a burden for her.

Which brings us to her present job; trainee debt specialist.

In this capacity she is specialising in her favourite subject (debt), she is part of a team, and because of the massive (and inevitably increasing) workload in that field that the bureau faces, it is her boss’s policy to deal with all of the clients problems in one, or at the most two interviews. Then case closed. These are going to be compos mentis clients so there is no need to hand-hold and take over their cases. It’s sort everything out, tell them what to do, or arrange it, then let them get on with it.

Also it is one very short bus ride away from where we live, her previous job entailed two buses, or a bus and a train, or if I happened to be off, an hour’s drive in rush hour traffic (to cover about seven miles!)

So, old job bad in all sorts of ways, new job better in just as many, and having the added bonus of letting Wendy specialise in her favourite subject.

Also she’s lost the best part of another stone since we returned from Scotland, so everything is peachy in the world of the Wendster.

I have made a decision about my martial arts. I went to a Karate class the other day to try it out. It was weird, but I expect it was good if you stuck at it. The only reason I went is, as I’ve mentioned previously, Taekwondo more or less ignores the fact you have hands. They are just handy (as it were) counterbalances for when you are kicking. This is fine in a competition where your opponent won’t be trying to punch you, not so great in a street fight.

So anyway, I went. It was weird, but I could see the point. Then they tried to show me how they do their kicks. Oh, no indeed. So gay!

I was all of a tizzy when I got home. Trying to learn two styles, with opposite techniques, would be a nightmare. It made me think longingly of Wing Chun Kung Fu. That was all about punching, blocking and all that is to do with using your hands to knock the crap out of someone. With hardly any emphasis on kicks. TKD and Wing Chun would be the ultimate combination. The only reason I stopped going was because it was seven pounds a lesson which, on top of  Taekwondo, would have meant that  when you had paid for the gradings, the insurance, the uniforms etc, spending over a thousand pounds a year on martial arts. We were dirt poor so I had to quit.

Then I passed my test.

And now Wendy has a job.

Can you see where I am going with this?

I’ve decided not to bother learning Karate. I’m going to wait until I have a driving job and know what hours I am doing then go back to the Kung Fu. Assuming the swine flu doesn’t kill me, I could be an all-round lethal martial artist in five years. Which would make me forty eight years old, and at my martial prime. Weird.

Still, I don’t drink, smoke, or do any other drugs (apart from caffeine) so I have to  have something in life I enjoy. Also if I do end up sat on my arse for twelve of thirteen hours a day as a driver I really will need the exercise.

Talking of which, my examiner yesterday (bezzy mate Glen) was saying he goes down the gym for two hours a night. I was suitably horrified at the prospect, so he explained he used to be thirty eight stone! He’s down to seventeen, and carries it well, but two of those he has put on recently so it’s two hours at the gym every night before he really starts banging it on. My admiration was immense though. If you are thirty eight stone how can you motivate yourself to start dieting? I have been trying to get from ten stone twelve back down to ten and a half, ideally ten stone, and it is taking for ever.

I work like a Trojan every day and sweat buckets at every TKD lesson. How can you even start to consider starving for years at a stretch? Apparently he had to have nine kilo’s of excess skin surgically removed when he had lost it all.

Well, all’s well in Bucksterville.

Happy days.

Buck.

Finally!

Hi and a big huzzah!

Finally passed that bloody test today. Glen, the examiner, was desperate for me to pass, I think if I’d have failed it this time he would have driven for me next go. He was telling me to relax, not panic, then when things got dodgy he was saying ‘not your fault, you’re in your lane, that was his fault’, telling me not to go to pieces as I’d not failed yet, etc.

Bless him, he really did want me to pass.

I had a few moments, pinched some of an oncoming lane for a turn when, strictly speaking, I didn’t need to, went into some situations a little too fast, and felt I was overcautious in others, but my new best-mate Glen said it was good enough. I came away with eight minor driver faults, and one of them was for taking a shunt on my reverse manoeuvre (I’d left it a bit tight and thought it was better to take a shunt, and the consequent driver fault, rather than possibly fail the test there and then).

I have been saying, since my last test, that I can pass it now, that I should get it this time. When I knew I’d only failed on missing a gear and pulling over on a single yellow line, I thought ‘I can do this’.

Which is all good and well until you get back in the cab. You’ve already failed eight times, an infinity of variables await you and everything is riding on the next fifty minutes as you pull out of the (infeasibly tight) corner from the test centre onto the road.

Huge gulp, massive deep breath, chi focused, and off we go.

God it is horrible. The fatalist in me is saying ‘you are never going to pass this’ while I’m so desperate to pass it. You just have to brace yourself for failure whilst trying your damnedest not to. It is truly horrible. The money you are throwing out the window, the doubt that you will ever pass and the knowledge that you’ve invested too much to be able to quit. You have to keep on trying until you pass, be it nine or ninety tests.

Then when he told me I’d passed…, really there are no words. The emotional overload of joy that is primarily inexpressible relief, it feels like this:, sort of.

Bloody hell, I’m glad that’s over.

I felt like my hands were shaking, though they weren’t, and I thought I might need surgery to remove the grin.

Sent my license off today to have the three penalty points stuck on it (couldn’t send it away before as you have to present your license to take the test) when it gets back I send it off again (with my pass certificate) and when that returns I can start looking for work.

Which reminds me, I’ll have to get a really good photocopy of my pass certificate in case they keep the original when they upgrade my  license. I think I’ll frame my certificates for in my computer room. Sad, I know, but no one else need see them, and the amount of commitment and anxiety that has gone in to achieving them, well, they will make me happy to see them there.

So, a mere £5,615 and thirteen tests later, I am a qualified articulated lorry driver. Bargain.

There’s other stuff afoot, but quite frankly I don’t care. ("If you could squeeze ‘rats ass’ into that sentence it would be perfect." To quote Niles from Frasier)

Happy/ relieved Bucky.

Later,

Buck.

PS I forgot to mention, when I told Wendy she was obviously delighted, but then admitted she had thought I was never going to pass! There’s supportiveness. She didn’t think I could do it, but encouraged me each time I failed and voiced no dissent when I then put us in another £283 of debt on the credit card by booking another test. If she had put us five grand+ in debt for something I thought she clearly couldn’t do, I don’t know if I’d have been able to do the same.

Done now, thankfully.

Days off, huzzah!

Today is my first of five whole, glorious, non-working days! Big yay!

I’ve sorted out a bunch of videos, (all the TKD poomse -required patterns- for all of the grades to black belt) numbered them, put them in sequence, chucked them into a file with the photo’ of my badge on the front, (you still wish you had one) and now have written about it.

Sad, sad, sad.

I have also been making the most of the non-torrential moments to do a bit about the garden. Many’s the suspected weed that has felt the pitiless brutality of the dark side of my gardening. Also I collected a nosegay of sweetpeas and roses, an eye-candy of crocosmia and dahlia, and a touch of hosta and butterfly bush to make an arrangement. I call it ‘Summer in a glass’.

Nice, don’t you think?

Also I decided to try an idea I’ve been mulling over. For a while now I’ve fancied putting some plants out the front of the house, but we have no garden and the local pre-convict youth would have trashed any plant pots with their relentless football. Now however, the darling youth have mostly moved their delinquency to some other poor bugger’s domain. Mostly. It would only take one hit to knock a plant over, possibly to break the pot. Then I noticed I’ve had to start weeding in the 10" gap between the house and the pavement. It is covered in large stones, with more of the same and sandy gravel below. I thought it would be too inhospitable a terrain to support plant life. But if weeds can do it, why not try some of the hardier plants?

So today I’ve been excavating small holes in the stones/ gravel, filling them full of compost and heavy soil, then planting lavender. I had one small lavender growing independently, but the other two were just branches I’d pinned down to root (layered). They were still attached to the mother plant until today. I’ve just snipped them off, cut them right back (to encourage rooting and decrease water loss through the leaves) and stuck them in the front. Watered them in, obviously. Now we wait. If anything can take it it will be lavender. Hot, dry, and poor (to the point of non-existent) soil. Nothing lost, I’m layering another bunch of branches now.

While I was at it I potted up one of my dwarf firs and buried the pot in a whole I made in the stones. It’s a nice fir, but I can’t really find a home for it in my garden, so it’s an ideal experimental candidate.

Talking of firs, whilst we were in Scotland we were surrounded by the buggers. One particular flavour caught my eye. I went rooting around for pine cones, trying to find one bearing seeds, but they were all wide-open, dried husks (due to it being totally the wrong season). Not to be put off I ripped a few cones apart to try to find any recalcitrant seeds (ones with issues) and amongst the few runtish looking seeds I found one that was rooting! I quickly ripped it out, put it in wet bog-roll, and left if for the rest of the holiday. I brought it home and potted it, not really expecting a result, but check this out:

Oh yes! Verdant growth! To put it into perspective that is a 3" diameter pot, but still, it’s not dead.

My other gardening thing of note is that, as I predicted, the ground cover is filling out:

 

I’m going to sort my push bike out while I’m off and start biking to work. No more tickets, improve my stamina, strengthen my cardio/ vascular, stretch my tendons (apparently) and save us some money. All good.

I wanted to do it before, but it is about six or so miles each way, and when I was in de-kit I simply didn’t have the excess energy to waste. Now would be the perfect time to start.

Which reminds me, after getting kicked out of de-kit I put on half a stone in about two weeks. This is bad news, for, unlike Wendy, I do not have it in me to diet. I work hard, sweat buckets at Taekwondo, and eat like a pig. Dieting and further exercise are anathema to me. So I was worried. I went from around 10, 6 to 10,12 ish. The worrying thing was; would I ever stop or just balloon into the thirteen stone bloater I was when I was drinking?

I cut out the odd cream cake, weighed myself quite a bit, and over the course of a few weeks have got back down to 10, 7. That was this morning. Briefly. I had a cup of tea and was probably back up to 11 stone. But I’ve not seen 10, 7 for quite a while so I am cheered. The overall good thing is that I’ve stopped banging it on.

Sah bum nim was banging on about her flab fighters when last I was able to attend. She was saying she went for a forty mile push-bike ride before class on Sunday, had been for runs before the other classes, then when she went to flab fighters, she had lost a pound! "A POUND!" she was going on. Apparently some of the other women there had been saying things like "I went for quite a long walk" "WALK?!" "WALK!" "A POUND!"

It was quite funny, for us at least.

My other news is irksome. I have been playing with all the add-on’s you can slap on the bog-standard Firefox browser. One of them is called Lazerus. It sits quietly in the background, supposedly securely storing all the forms you fill in, in case of data loss. Supposedly you just put in your password and it will retrieve the document on which you were working. I’ve had it for weeks now, snooping on me. Then when I was three quarters through typing out my blog I lost the bloody page. The only place it happens to me, and the only reason I installed Lazerus. After ten minutes of trying to remember what password I’d set I finally got into it, only to find it doesn’t do it for My-bleeding-space!

Typical!

Uninstall Lazerus? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

To finish on a positive note, I think I have a control system for my headaches. I take that nasal spray every day as a preventative and I think it decreases the frequency and severity of the headaches. As a first line of defence when I feel one coming I take ibuprofen, which helps. Then if it does kick in I take some decongestant with paracetamol pills, and, hey presto, the sick feeling goes off, the pain eases and eventually stops. Marvellous!

Happiness is the illusion of control.

Off to practise my poomse, class tonight, big lie-in tomorrow!

Buck.

Same ol’, same ol’…

Do I need to say that I failed again?

Well, I did.

This time it was two even more incredibly silly things than usual. I did all the hard stuff, the stupidly tight turns, the impossibly small gaps between parked and oncoming cars, etc.

Then, when he asked me to pull over on the left (to test my ability to pull out into traffic safely) I blew it! Normally they say things like "don’t worry about parking over someone’s drive, we are not stopping for long", so I checked the road ahead, spotted a gap between parked cars on the opposite side (to allow traffic to pass) cleared the bus stop, got between two roads that were joining the one I was on, so as not to obstruct vision or block access, and pulled over. On a single yellow line. Fuck. Fail.

I didn’t even notice it I was that busy looking for everything else, and I wasn’t looking for it, as I thought the same "we are not stopping" rule would apply. Nope.

The other one was an aberration, I was crawling up hill, between cars, went to change from fourth to fifth (by flicking a switch up, which puts you into high range gears, making the first gear position your fifth gear) but in flicking, pausing while the box changes ranges, then putting it into fifth, I think I pushed it too far to the left (into the reverse area of the box) and couldn’t find a gear. I tried dropping it back down to fourth, then third, but was stuck in a false neutral. I had to stop for a second, put the handbrake on, release and depress the clutch then start again. Fail!

Ho hum. Six minor faults. Failed again.

Still those are things that have never happened to me on test before and should never happen again. If I can pass everything else it is just a matter of time. And money. And indomitable spirit.

Bollocks.

Buck.

Hot. Damn hot!

Hi there.

This beastly weather we are suffering is killing me. Work, though better than being in de-kit, is still a non-stop sweat-fest. I put in four hours overtime on Monday. The manager asked me if I could do any overtime quite early on in the shift. I’d just had the weekend off and was feeling fresh and lively, so I said I would. By 1pm I was done-in, soaked in sweat, had no food, and another five hours in front of me. That was fun.

Sweatier yet is Taekwondo. Sah bum nimh reckons she’s joined flab-fighters, so were are all getting exercised to death (as misery loves company). The last two nights have been so humid, then on top of that having Sah bum nim cracking the whip. You could literally wring my dobok (gi, fighting suit) out. She had us all lined up doing one kick, step, one kick. Then one kick, foot down, straight into second kick. Then three kicks, then five, then ten. This wasn’t three kicks, rest. It was kick, kick, kick, again! Kick, kick, kick, faster! etc. Then doing mad kicks backwards across the hall. Then we were split into groups (I was with the black belts/ one below black belts, and me! Yeah, see my trumpet. Observe me blowing.) Doing turning kick, into 360 degree kick, into spinning back kick. Not easy, but I was 80% there. One chick who was the grade below black belt (red belt with black tag) and was obviously surprised at my attempts, said I shouldn’t worry about not getting it dead right as this was an advanced exercise for her grade and that I was excellent. Yeah, she wants me.

In other news the Warrington coppers show an alarming alacrity in dealing with motoring offences. An indecent haste some might say, given their response time to real crimes. Anywho, Wendy posted that confirmation of details thingy back to them on Sunday, I had the reply on Tuesday! £60 fine and three points. Bastards.

The Wendster is moaning about me typing so I’d better sign off while I dig a shallow grave in the garden.

Later,

Buck.