Friday, 3 December 2010

X-factor

You'll have to read a good way down until you get to the point of this posting...sorry, but I'm bored at work when I should be working hard.

I really loved this post by Mr London Street - it struck a chord and made me smile

I can't say I've ever watched the programme...a childhood of Opportunity Knocks was enough to put me off that sort of TV for ever, although I did read that one of the contestants has an 81 year old grandmother who is a porn star and prostitute. Which made me realise, just what a peculiar world it is. Hughie Green must be spinning in his grave.

Anyway, on the subject of the 2018 World Cup, I was totally against it coming to England. I was and am a great advocate of the London Olympics so it's not that I'm anti great sporting events on these shores, but for a long time I've been very vocal about what a complete waste of space the people who run the game are. The final presentation may have been very slick and professional, but there were all sorts of shenanigans going on in the months before and I realised that these people shouldn't be put in charge of making a cup of tea. I don't think the media coverage was any more damaging than the bid leaders own antics. Not that I think the world's global football organisations are any better. I'd like to see wholesale reform of the English soccer system...and losing the bid is our best hope, which might be further encouraged if one of the leading Premiership teams was to bite the dust too...I'm not fussed which one.

Not that I claim to know anything about football at all.

Anyway, back to the X in the title. Last night was the opening night of the school senior play. The Boy had decided not to participate this year, but The Cat has a starring part in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The parents of the cast were invited to drinks with the Headmistress at her house. Of course, I'm not a parent, but The Cat's Mother felt that I should come along - all be it that my name wasn't actually on the invite (she did check with the head's PA first). I was delighted. Naturally a second invite had been sent to The Other Parent.

Despite the snow, we arrived bang on time...and were the first people there. A warming glass of red got us going, before another teacher arrived five minutes later. The conversation flowed pretty freely and after another five minutes the door bell went. Yep it was The Other Parent. He was the sixth person in the room. He'd not met me before. He and The Cat's Mother don't speak. It was a small group. Even when three more people arrived it was a small group. And remained a small group for an hour until the start of the play. I'd say the conversation was a little stilted. Just a little. It probably didn't help when the head asked whether The Boy and The Cat had been walking to school in this weather, and I said 'No, it's a long way from Loughton' 'But I thought you lived in Buckhurst Hill' she said. 'No, Loughton is where we live with The Cat's Mother' I explained.

So this'll be the house that The Other Parent worked long and hard to pay for.

Modern families. They're an odd thing aren't they?

Fortunately, The Cat shone on stage.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Pinch and a punch

I may have tempted fate by mentioning that I was heading to the frozen north yesterday. I got there pretty easily, but the return was challenging - the train left Stockport smartly enough and I settled down to read a book...erm I mean use the time usefully by writing a press release or two. We reached Stoke on Trent quickly and then stopped. For about an hour - a broken down train was blocking the way. We then headed back up to the frozen north, to Crewe in fact. Slowly. Very slowly indeed. Once there we stopped before heading back south on a different line. I'd like to say which one, but it was dark by then, and I was engrossed in the next level of Angry Birds - any hints on how to do level 2 of part 3 would be much appreciated.... we arrived 2 hours late. I thought I was entitled to a refund, but Virgin tell me they are only required to provide me with rail vouchers. As I use the train, at best once a year, this is less than useless and suggests that the rail industry has a long way to go before reaching the standards of customer service expected elsewhere.

I've been designated driver for taking the kids to school this week...at last you can see a value in 4x4s that spend most of their time sitting in the drives next to the Porsches in the WAGs triangle. The main roads are all fine, but the side roads are challenging...and we live up a steep hill which makes for great entertainment as we all slide down it to the bottom...where there's a busy main road.

Back home Christmas has started. The decorations have started going up. The normal mugs and tea towels have been put in a cupboard and replaced with ones with a festive theme. The Cat's Mother knows how to do Christmas in style...and it's going to make December a particularly special time. Especially with all that beautiful snow laying all around. Gifts are something The Cat's Mother does exceptionally well.

The Boy has an advent calendar, which has some fabulous chocolates:



The Cat got a splendid Advent scene:

video

I've done very well, getting a beach hut themed advent calendar, and this very splendid bottle of cognac.



Each star marks a day, so I guess you're supposed to drink down one mark per day. The thing is, '1' starts just below the shoulder of the bottle, so first sip is an enormous glug. That should warm the cockles of my heart.

I had no idea that gifts would be coming, so now have to live with the guilt of not getting anything for her. Suggestions on a postcard please. But quickly if you can.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

There's no such thing as a free lunch...

...unless you find £5 on the way to the supermarket as I did today. I did look to see if anyone was around looking bereft, but, no, there was no one. I have to say that little pieces of fortune like that make me feel good. Although I do feel sorry for the person that lost it.

It even makes up for yesterday, when there was a final payout from a client that had gone into liquidation last year. They had promised us it was a cashflow issue and we'd get every penny. In the end we got just 7p in the Pound. On a debt of several thousand Pounds. That didn't feel good at all.

Snow finally arrived in the south today...and caused the inevitable chaos. The Boy came bounding into the bedroom as excited now as he's always been. What a truly lovely way to start the day. There was a 5 or six mile traffic jam when I took The Boy, The Cat, The Muffin and The Mumble to school. As I have a big Jeep, it was my duty really. The traffic was so bad that in the end they had to walk the last couple of hundred yards. I'm sure the cold walk did them good.

I can never find anything bad to say about snow...I absolutely love it. It makes even the dullest place beautiful. I hope we get tons more and we all get given a holiday from now until after Christmas.

Tomorrow I travel by train to Stockport...I hear that's in the frozen North so I may be gone for some time.

Monday, 29 November 2010

To the victor, the spoils...






I mentioned a little while ago that The Cat's Mother, I and a couple of friends went out on a secret evening...The Secret Cinema...but we were sworn to secrecy. Now all can be revealed...we went to see One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest in an old NHS Hospital that had been recreated as an asylum for the showing...in fact it went on for 10 nights and in total 6000 people came along. We all met at Ladbroke Grove tube in our dressing gowns, and then were led a long and winding walk to the asylum. The place was filled with actors who played parts from the film...and we were all given various types of therapy. The more you got into it, the better the experience...we all had an absolute ball...although The Cat's Mother did rail against the way we were treated as inmates...I think she needed electric shock therapy. Here are some event photos on flickr.


By contrast we went to see Harry Potter on Saturday which was leaden and dull... a badly missed opportunity to develop the characters...although the harsh amongst us have suggested that the actors are not up to it. And it was very long. I suspect you can miss this one, and still see the climax in 'Part 2' without feeling you've missed a thing.

Friday night was quiz night...140 of us raising money for the NSPCC...The Cat's Mother is treasurer of the local branch. It shows how life has changed as it's not the sort of thing I'd have done a year ago...but plus ca change...or something. My contribution, apart from answering a few questions correctly, was to have The Cat's Mother donate a case of my wine on my behalf as the prize. Our table included three teachers from The Boy's school. So it was a good job we won handsomely. And my reward? The case of wine was shared amongst our table, and I ended up with one of my own bottles. That felt fine.

Now onwards and upwards to fight the snow that has been threatening, but failing, to deliver me a bonus day away from the office.