Friday, 12 December 2008

Plastic surgery

Today I visited the doctor.

It's a rare thing for me...but evidently normal for men not to see the doctor from one year to the next, unless it's too late. Man flu (which I currently have) doesn't require a trip to the local GP, just acres of sympathy from your nearest and dearest (which I don't have, as the boy is in training for man flu too).

It wasn't much of a thing, simply having some skin tags removed. I did it once before and they burnt the tag off; this time it was 'cryo' - in the doctors words, "we're going to give you frost bite". Nice. Thanks. I think the doctor must enjoy his job, as he zapped not just the one or two on my neck I was aware of (the boy had on too many occasions pointed them out as ugly growths), but kept going and going. A bit like polishing out the scratches on your car I guess.

Six hours later, instead of withering and falling off, they've ballooned. So here's a picture of me as I currntly look:

Thank heavens, the boy has taken himself off for the night and won't have to witness this strange creature now inhabiting home. I, however, will get nightmares everytime I look in the mirror...especially if I wake up in the night and glance across to the mirror beside the bed.

As a postscript, I should pay a glancing debt of gratitude to Jonathan Ross, who once spent the early part of an interview with some fading celeb, discussing all the awful things that happen to male bodies as they age. So skin tags have been expected, as is unruly hair growth in unexpected places. Other bodily declarations of decay are to be avoided for now.

Seven of nine

My lovely friend Nappy Valley tagged me recently, and I have to confess it turned into a much greater challenge than I thought, so here are the various seven things...I may change my mind later:

7 things I plan to do before I die

- Visit every UN heritage site in the world (if I say it enough I will end up doing it)
- Spend a whole season skiing
- Build my own house (I’ve already designed it, and just need the money and the right place to put it)
- Let the boy buy me a pint
- Ride a motorbike from one side of the world to the other
- Something (however small) to help solve the Palestine issue
- Stop worrying about anything and everything

7 things I do now

- fall asleep on the sofa at 9 o’clock. It makes me quite huffy and puffy that I miss precious time with the boy
- always leave at least a couple of things to be washed up when we go away from either the flat or the cottage. It's a superstition that by coming back to something that needs to be done from the last time we were ther, then there's a continuity...I know it doesn't make any sense
- Spend most of my time getting angry about anything and everything. That makes me so angry. I think I've become a grumpy old man without realising it
- Cycle at least once a week the 25 mile round trip to the office. Usually it’s two or three times. It’s the most fun I have getting fit…and almost as good as the rollerblading I used to do
- Wonder why during the week we live in a tiny cottage that’s far too small for us, and then rattle around a flat that’s far too big for us at the weekends. There should be a better compromise
- Continue to not manage the finances in the same way I’ve always not managed the finances
- Love listening to the boy playing guitar…it’s such a talent to have. I hope he uses it well to entertain friends and family. And seduce girls when he’s old enough. 13 is not old enough

7 things I can’t do now

- Kite surf. I really, really want to but have little sense of balance and remain terrified that the kite will sweep me away to sea
- Get organised. I have (literally) a pile of unopened post 4’ high
- Relax. What’s that?
- Have a decent social life…I allowed the last five years of single parentage to get in the way of other things. Oops.
- Have a lie in. I miss that so much
- High jump. I humiliated myself at the boy’s school this year by failing to clear something that was about as high as my knees
- Enjoy ironing. And there always seems so much of it

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex

- strong mind, strong looks
- competitive nature
- wicked or rude sense of humour
- positive outlook and energy
- if they can tell me something I don't know, or do domething I can't do
- if they can change a plug. A wheel is even better
- good conversation

7 things I say most often

- umm or err
- I’m fed up with living in a pigsty, can you take your stuff to your room
- (and then) Tidy your room
- You c**t – when I’m cycling and someone steps in front of me, turns in front of me or otherwise puts my life at risk
- “aaaargh” When something hasn’t worked out as I expected. Which is usually every day
- “I hate this country”. Well I do. Whatever happened to the green and pleasant land of my childhood
- “How’s it going?” Out of genuine interest rather than a formulaic greeting

7 celebrities I admire

I have little time for celebrities who are generally self-serving egotists (but that doesn’t stop them being great actors, singers, etc). But I have my list of five (Friends introduced me to this concept…so hopefully you understand)…for the sake of this, I’m going to count them as one:

- Monica Bellucci, Joanne Whalley, Lesley Anne Down, Angelina Jolie, Audrey Hepburn

Plus six people who are famous for being great

- George Bush. Ha only joking. Jimmy Carter is doing a lot now to put the world right
- Vladimir Putin. I like to know where I stand with someone. And you know where you stand with him. Rightly or wrongly
- Ian McEwan. I read ‘Black Dogs’ cover to cover whilst waiting for a flight from Turkey
- Anish Kapoor. I stumbled over his work in Madrid, and am now obsessed
- Muntadhar al Zeidi. In one small act he summed up the feelings of the whole world. Many people were secretly saying "I wish I could have done that"
- Stephen Fry. Somewhat over-hyped at the moment, but clever and amusing

7 favourite foods

- Chicken liver fried in red wine on a bed of spinach in a ring of rice, with soured cream poured over the top
- Tuna with cannellini beans, parsley and red onion swimming in olive oil and a dash of lemon juice
- Salted pistachio nuts
- Venison or bison or buffalo – stewed or grilled or roasted
- Marmite spread thinly on bagels. Or on Twiglets
- Cheese – stilton and anything that really stinks
- Marshmallows. Don’t know why

7 other bloggers

- much as I enjoy doing this…I know I can be a pain for some people, so I will simply tag the first seven people who come to visit…but don’t in anyway feel obliged, at all.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Three colours. Blue

I was never aware of father/son rivalry until three years ago when the boy started attending the same school as I had done thirty odd (and even) years ago. I was moderately successful...some good grades, some average grades, I managed to make prefect and even monitor, but at the crucial moment was distracted by a girl so got the interview, but didn't get the place at Oxford. Academically, the boy is well ahead of me...but not knowing how well I did keeps him on his toes. I shall choose my moment to tell him carefully.

On the sports field I was hardly Olympic Gold medal stuff, and in most cases did my utmost to avoid anything that involved running around chasing an odd-shaped ball in the cold and wet. There's always been a wry smile on my face then when ever it's mentioned that I achieved School colours for my cross-country running. Not that I was any good, it's just that I turned up and ran until I got a little tired. I've kept the tie ever since as an amusing momento.

The boy was delighted that when he arrived at Bancrofts, cross country running had been demoted to half-colours, minor sport; I was crest-fallen...but not much. From the glint in his eye, it was clear his sights were set, and he'd soon be the equal of my sporting achievement.

It has spurred the boy on, and his sporting prowess includes being best at javelin throwing for two years, captaining the house athletics team, joining the swimming squad, and playing for the school rugby team for the last three seasons.

And boy has he worked at it, and where he has lacked talent, he has more than made up for it in grit and determination. And a stubbornness to succeed which is inherited in equal measure from both his mother and his father.

He was gutted then on Saturday when at the end of the season, again, he was overlooked for school colours inspite of his endeavours on the rugby field. The devastation was there for all to see. And I too felt he had been robbed - he turns out religiously and tries his damnedest. He deserves them. I'm sure he does. But no words of consolation from me have or will make up for him not getting them. I suspect to him, I am the winner, magnanimous in victory. Which is a shame, and I will have to work doubly hard to keep him motivated for next season. Nothing would please me more to see him beat me in classroom, field and office.