Posts Tagged ‘Life’

What I did on my holidays.

Hi all, not posted for ages as I didn’t have anything definite to say.

I was trying to get into the T.A., but had many doubts as to whether I’d make it. I have had encouraging noises from several driving agencies, but as is the law with agencies, nothing has come of it.

I’ve applied for Tesco’s as a warehouseman, just to escape the crapness of my current job, not heard from that either.

So nothing actually happening to blog about it.

Well, nothing changing. I was still being sent to the freezer to work in these conditions;

Thus engendering happiness of this order;

My Kung Fu has been progressing apace. I took my first assessment and passed it, though not with any elan. Not without a bit of commitment either, for that matter;

But as for any change for the better in my driving career, nada.

This weekend it all changed. I had my assessment for the T.A.

As I say I really doubted whether I could get in, right on the limit for age (too old in 27 days, that’s how on the limit I actually am!) medical record from last time I served stating ‘temperamentally unsuited for military service’ or words to that effect. No actual driving experience, being a codger therefore too old to meet the fitness requirements, etc.

I booked some holidays (hence the title of this entry) and trotted off.

Bloody hell! The first night there, me and about fifteen other lads (and they were lads, most teens and early twenties) in one room, bunk beds, army horse blankets. It was a total flashback to twenty years ago in basic training. I hated it then, and I was hating it from memory straight away.

To add to my misery we were all marched (I say ‘marched’, they weren’t allowed to march us anywhere, we were put into three ranks and ‘ambled’) to the NAAFI bar. I don’t drink any more, so that was a trial in itself.

Obviously I didn’t get much sleep, everyone tossing and turning, snoring, and all the kids getting texts and such on their mobiles in the middle of the night. Then, being newbies, they were getting up at 5.45, when we didn’t have to get up until 6.15.

Had about three hours kip.

Less than loving it on the Saturday then.

From 5.45 until end of last lesson at 8pm. Bollocksed.

Anyway, we did team building exercises and such and I was a lot happier by the end of the day, back in army mode.

We did lots of test, and I was the second highest (that I know of) scoring person. The highest scorer was an A&E doctor, so not too shabby from me.

It was all hanging on the 1½ mile run, which I had to complete in under 14 minutes. Not too harrowing. Just a matter of focusing your chi and putting one foot in front of the other. So I thought. The uncertainty lay in the fact that I’d used google maps and a bit of string to guesstimate my training distance.

Not the most accurate of methods. I’d done a dozen or so runs on grass (harder on the leg muscles, easier on the knees) and thought my time was about 13 or so minutes.

When we did the run it was on a tarmac road.

We went out in a gaggle, then he set us off. We weren’t allowed watches so I was looking for anyone who had been regularly achieving 12s. Nobody had.

Set off at my own pace and found, to my dismay, that I was in the front group of five lads. I kept with them for the first half mile, but was worrying about my stamina so I ignored them and set my own pace. I had an ex Gurkha Infantryman just behind me, so I thought if I keep in front of him I’ll easily pass.

I turned the last corner, onto a 200 yard straight, the first four had spread out and the lead guy had already finished, when some young lad came charging past me.

I considered giving chase, but apparently when you finish your basic you have to match or beat your initial time, so their was no incentive (other than competitive pride) to do so. So I came in 6th out of 20, with a time of 10m 41s! Or, to put it in perspective, better than 13 younger people (turns out the Ex Gurkha was 44) and better than I did in my basic training 20 years ago!

In passing got to mention the doctor. She was determined. Apparently she was a bit of a porker, the army said she had to lose weight before they’d even let her apply, so she’d lost five stones! On the run it was clear her fitness was no great shakes, but through sheer force of will she managed to get across the line in 13m 40s. She was absolutely twatted after it. She just collapsed. They  ordered her to stand up, and she tried, but she just couldn’t. I don’t think I ever seen such force of will!

In conclusion, by the end of the weekend I was had done enough to be eligible for any job in the Royal Logistics Corps. I stuck with ‘driver’, it’s what I need right now. It seems that it’s easy to transfer regiments when you are ‘in’.

I got sworn in on the Sunday and as well as my Oath Of Allegiance got this;

Oh yes! Who needs a hoody for street cred?

Suppose it will look more suitable when I get all my hair chopped off. *sighs*

Oh, final note, there was another Nepalese geezer there, son of (and uncle of, brother of, grandson of etc) a Gurkha, who was dying of throat infection and cold (still passed his run) and he gave me his lurgy. Dammit, never free from infection, me.

Slept like a brick last night, and apart from the shittiness of this new bug, am all refreshed and back to civvy mode.

Things are happening.

Buck.

PS, forgot to mention, there has been a total change of function of the T.A. since I was a regular. S.T.A.B.’s they used to be called (Stupid T.A. Bastards), probably still are. In those days though, you did T.A. at the weekends, and were never going to be mobilised except as a last resort. Now they train you and mobilise you when you are needed. They said they can’t force you to mobilise in the first three years of T.A. service, but that is your job. If you’re not willing to go to war you are in the wrong job, really. I would do a tour. Just one. Fair’s fair. I’m getting what I want out of it, it’s only fair I do the job for which I am being paid. Also the guy said all drivers get HazMat (hazardous materials) training which I would cost over £400 in civvy street, and for the learning of I will be paid! Bonus!

PPS, whilst I was away for the weekend I have been eating meat again! Not only because I have got back into the killing game, thereby abandoning all pretence of morals or ethics, but out of practical considerations. It has been my experience that in the army if you don’t eat what you are given, you don’t eat.

Bad Bucky.

Finally!

..You know I’ve been trying to get into the T.A. ? The Royal Logistics Corps, to be specific. To be more specific, re-enlist, was their term.

Anywho, been at that since near the end of last year.

I applied, they sent me a load of forms, I returned them, they had to dig up my previous army record and get a reference off my employer.

Then I heard nothing for about three months. I thought that they’d decided they’d had enough of me last time.

Out of the blue, I got a ‘phone call about two weeks ago from the T.A., they said they’d faxed a reference request through to my employer in January, heard nothing so tried again in February, still no reply. Could they have a personal reference?

I gave them my mate, Jo, as a referee, and went in to HR to raise merry hell. Their excuse was; as I wasn’t leaving the company they couldn’t give me a reference. Apparently they’d passed the request up and down the chain of command, and basically sat on it.

Bastards.

When I was first thinking this would probably be my best bet for kick starting my driving career one of the senior managers I approached about the company policy on the T.A., mentioned that if I get mobilised the government sends them a letter to force them to release me for the duration, and they have to keep paying me!

Hence their wilful delaying/ blocking tactics.

Bastards.

They T.A. immediately contacted Jo, who did me proud (I asked her to put ‘lover of women, slayer of men, driver of trucks’) and a week later I got another call saying all was well, they’d got my records back, come for a medical assessment on the 23rd of April!

Woo- hoo!

This could be just right. I don’t have to risk leaving a secure job, I get experience and possibly more training in a really professional environment, and they don’t quibble over you running the natives over!

Also, I get to screw my works over! Deep joy.

They asked if I felt confident about the fitness side of it, having to run a mile and a half in fourteen minutes, said ‘yeah, I keep fit with martial arts’.

Went out this morning for my first run in years. Previously when I’ve done stuff like that I’ve at least had a base of fitness and stamina from push-biking.

I worked out a course, approximately 1.8 miles long.

I have been working through a really nasty enervating cold as well, in my defence.

Anyway, I set off and within the first minute I thought I was going to have to give up and collapse gasping for breath.

I didn’t. I looked at the patch of dirt in front of me, tried to breathe and carried on.

It took me fourteen and a half minutes. So, by my (distance) calculations I’m within tolerance.

I staggered back to the car, lungs burning, spit in strings, feeling sick as a dog. It took me a good five minutes of coughing and spitting before I was well enough to drive home.

I did it though. If I do it every day until the assessment I should be able to do it without them following me around the course with  paramedics and an oxygen tent.

In other news, that wobbly front tooth forced me to rejoin the dentists. I went today.

I lay there with my eyes shut, trying to find my happy place whilst doing deep breathing and other Jedi mind tricks.

I was a tad miffed anyway, even excepting the terror. It had a price chart in the reception area, check up £16.50, root canal £46, cap £198! Damn the getting my front teeth shot and nutted out!

The dentist did a check, said my teeth were fine, wiggled my cap off, glued it and stuck it back in there and then, That’ll be £16.50, please!

Big yay!

Other super-duper news is that yesterday at my sax lesson, sax-sensei Pete showed me the fingerings for the last few notes. I now have the set! From F#, which is somewhere in the dog-whistle range, through to low C#, the sound of earthquakes.

Now it’s simply a matter of practising until I can use them!

To round it all off, I’ve got four days off work, and the garden is coming to life in the sudden promise of Spring. All is peachy.

Well, apart from with Wendy who is not entering into the adventurous spirit of armed high-jinks.

Women, eh? 😉

I will be driving a truck. Worst case, I’ll be away for six months. In all likelihood I’ll be back in one piece, duty done, experience gained.

A year from now the world will be our oyster.

Later,

Buck.

Work.

….It’s been another rum old week.

I was sent on that fork lift training course at work. That should have been a skive and another skill gained.

Alas!

They are having an overhaul at work. The Assistant General Manager has (jumped/pushed?) left. The General Manager’s prospects don’t seem much brighter. They are having a massive crack down on mistakes made in the picks for the stores, and time off sick and accidents.

So instead of our on-site trainer taking us we had a crazed Jock!

He is re-testing all the current fork lift drivers in an attempt to weed out those that might be an accident risk, and being harsh on those being trained, ie, me!

Our on-site trainer gave the lads time to practice so they would be ready for the test, allegedly helped with the written part, and let one lad have ten attempts at the test until he passed it! Others have told me they failed and were told to go away and get their heads together then come back the next day.

Not so with the crazy Scot! He gave us two goes at each exercise, most of the course was spent in the canteen drinking coffee whilst he went for fags, Bollocking each mistake like you were in the army (instead of pointing out how to rectify the error)  no dummy run, straight in to the test.

I was well on top, I’d done the hard moves. I thought I had cracked it so I started to relax. I got myself into a challenging position, managed to get myself out of it, was dead chuffed, reversed out ready for my last move….’Park up and get off the truck’.

What? In my haste and relief I’d forgotten to retract the forks before I backed the truck up.

FAIL!

He was such a crap instructor I wasn’t that bothered. I’d already overcome the urge to beat the crap out of him after one of his screaming harangues, and after he’d threatened to cut me from the course I had started to get off the truck to go home. He stopped me, but I was ready to walk right then.

In the end I was just glad to have it over and done with, either way.

So that was less than fun.

Yesterday at work the new AGM came and asked me how I’d failed, I told him about relaxing and being forgetful, didn’t mention the crapness of the trainer as it would have sounded like sour grapes, he said that they would put me back in for it.

Then I saw the trainer again and he said that he’d told them to put me on a three day one to one course with the manager they are sending away to become a trainer.

Tesco’s opening a big warehouse has scared the crap out of them, it seems. HA!

Then I noticed that there was a missed call on my ‘phone. An event in itself as I don’t give out my number. I got home and tracked it down as the number for that agency driving job, the car transporter one.

I rang it this morning and the guy said he had been ringing around letting everyone know that he would have work for them in the next two to three weeks!

This is good news, but somewhat scary.

I have a full time, not too poorly paid job in the middle of a recession.

I quizzed him, and he reiterated that it was a full job, no experience necessary, with two weeks training given. All the things I need to hear really.

An agency guy’s word being only second to a politicians in veracity I am cautiously optimistic. Why would he be ringing me if he didn’t have work coming up?

The down side is; it would be a bit of a pay cut on basic pay, (but there are bonuses) I would possibly have to be away from home for five nights a week, possibly sleeping in my cab, and I have to risk losing my permanent job to take an agency one. And it’s based in Skelmersdale, thirty miles away.

The only other thing of note is my front tooth cap is coming loose so I’m going to have to go to the dentists. Hate going to the dentists! Can’t remember if that was the tooth that was shot out or the one that was nutted out. Either way, growing up was shite!

Buck.

Help for heroes?

Right! The time has come, I need to speak out.

First and foremost, let me say that in my experience being a soldier is a shit job, done extremely well under even the most trying of conditions. The lads and lasses put their lives on the line and do their duty.

I’m not about to knock that.

I will start by saying; that is their job, for which they volunteered. Nobody made them enlist.

The thing that distinguishes the armed services from any civvy job is that it is in your job description that you will die if so ordered. Tell a copper or fireman to stand firm in the face of certain death and he has the option to quit. It is a soldiers job to die if necessary.

They are doing their job, come death or mutilation. That is not heroic, it is for that they are paid.

But they are being brave, that makes them heroes!

I would argue that the modus operandi of the army is to make you more afraid of your Sergeant than you are of the enemy. You are bullied into being a mindless drone, afraid to not obey an order.

In the first world war the Royal Military Police were positioned in the trenches to shoot any man who didn’t go over the top.

In the second world war they had conscription with jail and dishonour for anyone who wouldn’t go. I know from personal experience that even the most jaundiced of cynics would prefer the possibility of death than the certainty of a lifetime of shame with the stigma of cowardice.

It was proven at the Nuremberg Trials that following orders is not an excuse for committing war crimes. Yet we have recently gone in to illegal wars. Every soldier should have refused. They did not. Nor were they ever likely to.

My point is; bravery takes many forms. Killing Johnny Foreigner for his oil may well be the least brave option once you’ve taken the Queen’s Shilling.

Then there is a technical point; a hero is someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Who does something without thought for personal danger, to serve his unit, and somewhat nebulously, his country.

To call everyone in uniform a hero is to devalue the word and dishonour those who have earned the epithet. Clarkson did a piece on some chap who kept going back into battle though they tried to cas-evac him on several occasions, firing a mortar like a bazooka, bleeding from his ears, shot to shit and still fighting. That is a hero. Some desk jockey who happens to wear a uniform is not.

Then there is the actual campaign, ‘Help For Heroes’. Started by the Sun. The mouthpiece of the evil Murdock. Why did they start it? To whip up patriotism and support for our boys and to stifle questioning dissent amongst the ‘screw oil concerns, let’s keep our boy’s alive’ lobby.

The aim is to have us all saluting the flag, supporting illegal wars, and frightened to say ‘bring the boys back home’ as that would mean we were unpatriotic. Is it braver to follow this route or stand for your principles?

Of course I’m a stinking hypocrite. I am actually trying to get back into the army!

What was that Latin phrase?  ‘I see and approve of the best path, I follow the worst’

I want to get back in to get my truck driving experience so I can get a civvy job. My principles are as ephemeral as that. It doesn’t mean I can’t see the truth of the situation.

Which brings me full circle to my my point. I am willing to serve, again. I know and accept the risks. If I can get back in I will most probably be getting my experience in Afghanistan. Would that make me a hero? No. It would make me a chap doing his job.

To quote the philosopher Gump; “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Buck.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

At work some coffin-dodging bastard has switched to Gold. Allegedly all the best songs from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Actually all rock ‘n’ roll, and a few pop songs from the latter decades. Apparently there was no hippy era, no punk, no new wave British heavy metal, no gothic. Just saccharin 60’s and the odd inoffensive mainstream pop song.

Which brings me to my point, spleen vented.

They have played Cindy Lauper’s ‘Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun’ a few times. Each time I hear it I feel a bittersweet pain.

I am suffused with a nostalgic melancholy for a loss I can’t quite pinpoint.

It’s not the song, which I like in an off-hand way. It’s not exactly the time in my life when it was in the charts.

I  have been thinking about it. O.K., so I was getting drunk but I was still working full time and my standard of living, due to the above, was considerably poorer than now.

It seems to be some sort of product of the milieu, the zeitgeist and my own age of innocence.

Girls just want to have fun.

We were young, all the fun was new and thrilling (not the dependencies they would become) life was innocent and hopeful, and we were all just kids. Trying to live the dream of the day, which was to be totally ‘right-on’, (which later became ‘Politically Correct’ and a stick with which to beat the dream to death.)

You weren’t a man, woman, black, white, atheist, Muslim, whatever, you were all people, and it could all work out.

I’m getting choked up looking back on that.

‘So young, so dumb’, as a later songstress would say.

Sorry about that, I was trying to capture a feeling and explain it. Wendy objects strongly to me writing it, so if it was too much…, well, tough tits, we ain’t in the 80’s no more!

…..And, we’re back in the room. Senior moment over with.

What has been happening with your quest for a driving job? I hear you cry. Potentially good news, at last!

For months every job I’ve seen is either advertised as ‘must have extensive previous experience’ or it turns out to be a prerequisite when I have applied.

Out of nowhere, like the proverbial bus, three come along at once that state ‘previous experience preferred, but not essential’.

Woo-hoo!

I’ve applied for two of them, (the third was 20-50 hours, I need to be sure of more than 20 hours).

One of them is for a car transporter driver. Not great in many ways, I’d have to take a pay cut on my basic, might be away from home for a week at a time, and it’s at Ellsmere Port (about 25 miles away, so petrol money would be more). However, when I rang them (turns out it’s an agency fielding the contract) they said that the jobs were full at the mo, ring them back every fortnight on a Friday and they would get me in. No experience necessary as two weeks training given!

That will do me!

Gotta go, boss says it’s bed time.

Buck.

The week that was.

Hi, it’s been another weird week.

At Kung Fu I had some seasoned veteran of the style doing blocking drills with me. I think he had an agenda, be it bullying the newbies or showing off how ‘well ‘ard’ he was I don’t know. Either way, what should have been a quite painful training exercise turned into a really painful test of endurance. I stuck it for as long as I could, but I was getting worried that I was going to sustain a serious injury.

The next day at work, as I got changed to go into the freezer (again!) one of the lads pointed out that I was bruising on my arms. I was OK with it until after my breakfast, then when I returned to work it was suddenly really sore. My right arm had swollen and hurt every time I moved it.

The photo’ doesn’t show the swelling very well, and makes the bruising look like slap marks, but believe me it really did smart!

That was less than fun to work through.

Also at work they’ve started sending me back into the freezer as I mentioned above. My five day reprieve, whilst welcome, was all too temporary. Ho hum. They are processing all the sick note people, still waiting to see if they have the commitment to follow through on the sacking of the unfit. The other event of the week at work was today when I got ready, had an early dinner and all that, made my grub for break, went in, then got told by the lads ‘it’s your day off today’.

And it was. Gutted. Came home pretty damn pronto but it ruined my day off.

Almost forgot, there was another incident of note at work; some geezer came up to me asking was going to sign a grievance, saying there were too many foreigners at our works!

ME!

Bloody hell, he’s someone I’ve know and worked with for 18 months, and he assumed I’d sign!

I was a bit miffed.

Someone coming up to you and saying, ‘seeing as you’re a moronic racist you’ll sign this knee-jerk whine, won’t you?’ Not flattered, me. 

Nearly parked the mighty Micra into a lamppost two doors down from our house today. That was briefly focusing. We’d only had a half inch of snow and it didn’t seem to be affecting the driving conditions. Until I tried to turn into our close. That would have been a whole world of embarrassment, crashing in front of all the neighbours!

To make this brief (Wendy’s gone to bed, so I have to hurry with the typing!) I watched Ip Man today, (the story of the guy who taught Bruce Lee Kung Fu)  it’s comically overacted in parts, (in the English subtitles, at least) the dialogue is dire, and the propaganda is rife, but the fight sequences! Wow! I really can’t wait to get back to class. I don’t care if it buggers my arms up, they must toughen up eventually, I’ve got to get good at Wing Chun Kung Fu!

There’s more, but you can’t master a martial art if you’ve been beaten to death by a sleep deprived spouse.

Later,

Buck.

Just musing.

Hi! I’ve just noticed that I’ve had 1,000 views of my blog! I’m a celebrity!

However, this will be my 103rd post, so I’m an unknown. 🙁

If you don’t follow me on Twitter let me tell you I’m loving my Kung Fu class. I’ve got my kit and I’m not afraid to pose in it!

It’s a pity the Beth couldn’t keep it up, it’s really spiffy. Don’t know that she’d have loved the last class though, swapping punches so your arm collides in defence/attack with your partner’s. It soon starts hurting and doesn’t stop!

Grin and bear it, it’s good for practice and it toughens you up.

I’m aching still though. And I’ve got bloody friction burns on my arse from all the sit ups! Again! All good though.

My sax lesson has had a positive turn around as well. When I went this week I had a few of the things that I have been struggling with come together. Then he turned the page to a new chapter and it was a checkpoint. Instead of learning something new it is three set pieces supposed to consolidate your learning to date.

As usual sax-sensei Pete pointed me at the new stuff and told me to have a go. It was for a complete change, a lot easier than the previous exercises. I didn’t do it perfectly, but for a first time, sight reading as I went along, it wasn’t too shabby.

I was quite pleased with myself, then he told me that the pieces were from a grade 4 exam! (Or level 4, I forget.)

The point being, these are pieces on which the student would train for months before an exam and I did a reasonable attempt first time out of the bag!

Not trying to blow my own trumpet here (if anything, my own sax) just saying how surprised and delighted I was.

Then he said now we’re at chapter 17 you can move on to ‘100 best tunes book’ or some such. Learning by playing songs, some of which I will already know, rather than by bending my mind around hideous exercises. If you recall, that was what I said I was going to leave my lessons to do in my last blog. So that it going swimmingly.

Here is something I found that seemed to be begging for the title ‘Ships Of The Desert’

Also on the pictures front, here is that Sisters of Mercy/ Merciful Release logo that I want as a tattoo

Groovy, or what?

Perhaps you have to love the band.

I’m currently enjoying a long weekend. I was off Thursday, in Friday, now off Saturday, Sunday and Monday! Bloody lovely.

On the subject of work, I have been moaning lately about being sent into the freezer all of the time. The place at which I work has the contract picking and delivering to the Iceland stores, so it’s not too unexpected that I would work in the freezer now and then. In point of fact I’ve been in there that often that I don’t even mind it that much.

However, what does piss me off is all the other pickers from grocery getting out of doing it by bringing in a sick note. This means the few of us who haven’t got a medical exclusion are always being sent in, whilst the others laugh at us. Everyone knows the job is for Iceland, that part of your job is working in the freezer and that most of the sick notes are bullshit, but nothing was being done about it.

Apparently if you are not fit to do your job that is reasonable grounds for dismissal, yet the company let it slide.

Anyway, because of it, I was in the freezer all but three days out of six weeks.

In the end I’d had enough. I went storming into the office and had about four different managers, up and down the chain of command, over it. (When I said I’d been moaning about it above, I meant at home and on t’internet, I’d just gotten on with it at work.)

They said that there was a review of the sick note situation coming up and the people who were laughing at me would be laughing on the other sides of their faces! And for once it looks like they may have been telling the truth!

The union rep said yesterday that they were going to refer all the sickies to the company medical review people and if they were found to be medically incapable of working in the freezer they would be given four weeks notice! HAH!

Yes, I am gloating.

They’ve all been keen enough to take the piss out of me and let me do the dirty work for them. As I said to one of the managers, I don’t want special treatment, I just want fair treatment.

There are an awful lot of sphincter’s twitching at work now. There is about to be the biggest incidence of miraculous recovery since the bible stories!

On the down side to this week, I’ve tried to register with the driving agencies around town and they don’t want to know!

Bugger.

If I haven’t escaped before, I’ll risk taking a temporary job in August. That will give me a few months experience.

Still, overall, it’s been a good week.

Later

Buck.

Quickie.

Just to say the Beth lasted all of one Kung Fu lesson! She went, loved it, then cried off the next lesson citing lack of money. I’ve told her the offer is still open.

I went to the second class and Sifu was having a self-defence lesson, specifically how to deal with knife attacks.

You grab the attacking arm, grip the hand that is holding the knife, elbow them in the face, carry it through so the knife cuts their throat, reverse their hand then gut them.

Ohhhhhh K.

So that was fun.

He explained that way you are never losing control of the hand holding the knife and, as an added bonus, never putting finger prints on the knife. If you’ve just cut someone’s throat then lent into them (to stab into their guts) you’re going to be covered in blood anyway, so the finger prints might be superfluous.

Technicalities.

If someone has just tried to attack you with lethal intent the first priority is stopping them. Legality comes a very distant second.

So that was what Beth missed. Good, clean fun.

Also, whilst I’m here I should mention an incident from last week. (I mentioned it on Twitter but omitted it from my last blog.)

Wendy, her brother (Pete), his wife (Emma) and I(Buck!), went to see Avatar 3D at the local flicks. Which I should mention in passing was rather spiffy, first good 3D I’ve seen. Plot was massively predictable, but really well done.

Anywho, it was still in the midst of the snow and ice. I gave  Pete and Emma a lift to the flicks. Apparently they really are gay about my driving! All the slipping and sliding, which I thought was fun, was a bit unsettling for them.

After I’d dropped them off and they were self medicating with stiff drinks, Wendy and I came home. I was chugging up to the lights on Cromwell ave which were on green, so I put my foot down to make it, then, as I had to do a right turn through the lights, went to brake.

Not a bloody sausage.

Micra locked up, slithering all over the place. I said to Wendy "We’re going to crash, sorry." Then by some miracle of mighty Micra mastery, I managed to save it!

That was a hell of a rush. More so for Wendy, I suspect.

I returned to my sax lesson.

Hate it.

Wish I could just get the basics down so I can quit the lessons for a while and learn by practising all the songs I like. That will be more fun and less pressure.

Damn these baby steps I am forced to take!

I did a work out at home yesterday, my first for two months, and how it shows! My tendons were a foot shorter! I ended up totally done in, and today my legs are really sore.

Then to add to my joy I had another headache. I woke up with a bit of pressure in my head,it got worse all day, (despite all the painkillers) so that by seven o’clock I had to go and lie down and that was me for the night. Not how I wanted to spend my day off.

Fine and dandy, hale and hearty today.

Wish it would go away though.  It’s every few days I have some form of headache, generally at least once a week it’s so grim I just want to lie down with a eye mask on in a dark room.

Chin up.

Not lying under a building in Haiti.

So that’s it, just a quickie. It’s because of Twitter. It happens, I put it on there, then forget to put it here.

Live long and prosper,

Buck.

The resolutions are go!

Finally I’m getting my resolutions going.

I’ve bloated out in the two months I’ve not been working out at martial arts. I’ve only gone from ten stone six to eleven stone one, but I think I must have lost a lot of very heavy muscle and replaced it with acres of relatively light fat. I’m hanging over my trousers in a way that bears no resemblance to such a small increase in weight.

It’s a distressing thought that I am going to have to spend the rest of my life sweating the flab off.

Damn middle age!

I used to be able to stay slim without trying when I was young.I had a bloater phase about five years age, but then I gave up drinking and dropped three stones so I thought I had it cracked. Apparently not. My work is no longer physically demanding enough and I have been on the road (now I’ve got a car license) for over three years. Previously, with the bikes, I either got banned or crashed them. The longest (by a long way) that I was on the road continuously was fifteen months. That was the only time I ever renewed an insurance policy on a bike! The upshot of that being that I spent most of my life on a push-bike.

Long story slightly shorter than interminable, it turns out that it only the exercise of martial arts training that has stopped me looking like a space-hopper.

Which is preamble to saying I have started my training again. I’ve given up on the Taekwondo as flash but impractical, and gone back to Wing Chun Kung Fu, famously the style of Bruce Lee.

The lineage is impressive as well. The Sifu (Chinese for master) at the club was taught in Hong Kong by the sons of the legendary Yip Man (the guy who taught Bruce Lee, and about whom they made a film last year).

I’ve got the money to do it this time and I have an abundance of desire.

Also in the merits column, I am taking my niece who has been having a bit of trouble with her self confidence and has been avoiding going out of the house because of it. This will do her a power of good. Just getting out is a major step.

She braved it last night and came with me.

Kudos.

She met a load of new people and found them all to be a laugh, encouraging and supportive.

The exercise is it’s own reward (and punishment!) and, in time, she will be confident that she can handle herself if things should kick off. At the moment she seems to be in the worrying phase where she won’t go out because someone might see her, they then might make a comment, they then might give her abuse, they then might start a fight, they might, they might…

It’s all worry feeding on itself. When you don’t feel threatened by people taking the piss out of you (because you don’t sport chav chic) the abuse is like water off a ducks back.

This is the voice of experience here. See my pics. I wear that for everything, going to town, doing the shopping, it’s what I wear.

Anyway, if she sticks to it there is no bad. She was buzzing off it when we finished our first lesson on Tuesday. When I dropped her off at her mam and dad’s, they (her sister included) burst into a song and dance rendition of ‘Kung Fu Fighting’. That was funny.

That was one/ two items on my resolutions list. Exercise and back to martial arts.

The other big thing is back to my saxophone lessons tomorrow.

I can’t say I enjoy them. I want to know all the basics then I’m going to stop the lessons while I take my own time to practise everything. Get back at it though, that’s the main thing. I can’t run until I can walk.

The same with the Kung Fu. I was really nervous about going back. I’ve already quit that club twice (once because I was drinking too much to keep at it, once because I just couldn’t afford it.) Now I’ve been once, got over that nervous hurdle, I can just get on with getting on. Paying for my years membership and uniform tomorrow, just to show I’m committing. Which has not impressed Wendy overly. ‘Are you collecting them?’ sort of comments. (In fairness I’ve only got two, the Karate one and the Taekwondo one.)

The only thing I can’t seem to get moving is my driving career. That seems to be out of my hands. I keep applying, keep hearing nothing.

Ho hum.

Chin up, keep trying.

Getting there,

Buck.

New Year!

Momentous milestones! We’ve all made it into 2010, it’s my first blog entry of the year and my one hundredth entry on MySpace.

Welcome to the new century!

I thought I’d summarise 2009, as pertains to Wendy and me, but first let me tell about last night.

Our neighbours, who, in fairness, rarely hold parties, told us they were having one on New Years Eve. Fair do’s again, if you can’t party in the new year, when can you?

Then they said they’d hired a DJ! A feckin’ DJ! Ours is a block of three houses, this neighbour is the one in the middle, so to all intents and purposes is in a terraced house. And they were hiring a DJ.

So we expected loud, and as they are into their cocaine, we expected it to go on a bit.

Happily Wendy’s brother, Peter, invited us around to see in the new year. This was welcome as Wendy gets really stressed out about noise nowadays.

We set off to Pete’s and Emma’s (his wife) at about eleven pm. (The ability to jump in the car whenever we feel like and the feeling of moral superiority are the best consolations for not drinking!)

We came home at about half past three, and next door were still at it! We went to bed by four am, and the music was only quiet, but because they were all coked up they were unaware of how loud they were being every time they went outside for a fag.

After a fitful sleep we got up at twelve noon and they were still going!

Respect to the quality of the product, but shit!

They started to disperse before one in the afternoon, now all is quiet.

We are tired and a bit miffed with them, but in the small mercies column, it’s only the fact that my day off happened to fall today that stopped me from having to get up at ten to five this morning.

OK, whinge over, back to the review.

Let me paint a word picture of this time last year; I was working in the De-kit department, I was still paying for training towards my HGV class II license having already failed the test two or three times, I was training in Taekwondo and Kung Fu but was having to decide between them because we were so poor, Wendy was still a volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau and we were unmarried.

Phew, how times change!

In January I passed my class II, to the relief and surprise of many. Then over the year I set about the class I (articulated lorry) training and tests. Many tests. There was the moment of high drama when it looked like we had run out of credit and I still hadn’t passed, then miraculously the credit card doubled our limit unbidden. (God bless those unscrupulous bastards!) Finally, in July, I passed.

The relief has never been so great! £ 5,615 to get both licenses. Worth every penny just to be free from the terror of having to take one more bloody test. Then from July to now I have been strung along by work that they would employ me as a driver. Five months!

On the subject of work, in January we in the de-kit department heard a rumour that we were being kicked out and being replaced by agency workers. This was dismissed by the management. We took unofficial industrial action and in the end they came clean that everything we’d heard was true. Thanks for the graft lads and screw you.

Back to order picking then for the rest of the year in ambient and, although they’d sworn it would not be the case, in the freezer.

Our works then is managed by lying bastards who’ll tell you anything to keep you sweet. Which is why I am applying for every driving job I see and not waiting for them to sort me out.

Wendy decided that 13 years was long enough as a trial and wanted to get married, which we duly did. We were still poor (still paying for the driver training, Wendy still unemployed) so it was a cheap and cheerful affair. That was fine by me, but it later transpired that Wendy wanted to make it something of an occasion.

Forgot to mention, Wendy was plump at the beginning of the year. She saw the wedding photo’s above and went on a diet for the best part of the rest of the year, losing three and a half stones! Go Wendy!

This is her now.

We took a week’s holiday in Scotland for a honeymoon, paid for out of everyone’s kind gifts of cash at the wedding. That was lovely.

I had a walk on part as an evil eco-bastard in the Gardeners World peat special. They asked me at the flower show if I used peat based compost, to which I replied that I just  used the cheapest as I am poor. They aired it!

Ho hum. Evil Bucky.

July was a double celebration for us, I finally passed the bloody HGV test and Wendy got a paid job with the C.A.B. as a trainee debt advisor, her favourite subject.

That was bloody splendid. I didn’t have to run up any more debt in the truck training (once you’ve started you can’t afford to stop until you’ve passed and have a means to recoup your outlay) and Wendy was raking in some decent cash. Huzzah! We could start paying off debts rather than accruing them.

Shortly thereafter I ran afoul of a speed camera. Bugger.

In the martial arts sphere I had to give up on the most expensive one (Kung Fu) early on in the year but by November, when money was no longer such an issue, I realised that I’d backed the wrong horse.

I want a martial art that will win fights. At a Taekwondo lesson they said to me that I was supposed to do this spinning whip kick and land it with my back to the opponent so they couldn’t score points off a return kick to my chest armour. Land it with your back to your opponent! That is a quick way to get a knife stuck in your back on the street.

That was the moment I knew that however much I liked kicking people in the head, it wasn’t a serious martial art. I gave it up in November, and will be returning to Wing Chun Kung Fu on the 12th of January.

The other highlight of this year was remembering a teenage ambition of learning to play the sax. The good thing was we were finally in a position where we could afford for me to indulge my whim.

Note also the winklepicker shoes. Suddenly finding yourself with expendable income is such a nice feeling! It took some doing, mind, it wasn’t gifted. A few years back I had to stop drinking, Wendy had to prove herself worthy of a really demanding job. We are reaping the rewards of our effort. By all the people who go on holiday every year, own their own homes, have savings etc, we would still be deemed pretty damn poor, so I’m not boasting, just saying for us this is solvency and bloody welcome it is too!

We are into 2010. Wendy is going great guns, her diet has paid off, she’s up to speed at her job (she’s bagged her man ) and she’s a happy bunny. I’ve got loads of stuff, have cleared a load of debts and am clearing more. I have my licenses and have applied for jobs (including driver in the T.A.) and I reckon this will be the start of it.

2010. By the end of it I will be a professional driver and, with the cash that comes with it, we will be able to be debt free and minted!

This is going to be a great year.

You heard it here first.

Buck.