Friday 5 December 2008

Going underground

Whilst the world crashes around us, it's nice to know that somethings don't change. Although the office is as close to London Bridge as it is to Tower Bridge, we work in a village...not the oft spoke 'global village', but Bermondsey village...if you can read the pic, you'll see it's official. And it is true that just around the corner is our Village Hall. I like that very much, it gives us a real community feel. Although the spirit can sometimes be lacking - and I've never seen any Morris Dancing around here. Inspite being in a 'village', there have been three murders here this year - most in the national press. The owner of the local sandwich shop killed by her chef (allegedly) because she objected to him smoking pot, a shooting in a nightclub in the tunnel, and a youth knifed in a local park. Random acts of violence do make me worry excessively for the boy's future...I hope through luck or thought remains safe as he grows up.

Also photographed, is the curious drainpipe. As you can see it goes up the side of the wall in Bermondsey Street tunnel. I think it's a piece of sculpture, as it serves no purpose that I can see, and I've had a pretty close look - it's got two ends, but there is nothing attached to it the best you can do is put a ferret in one end and watch it run out the other....assuming it's dextrous enough to get past the U-bend at the top. The word 'random' scrawled next to it may be a clue.

And finally, is the road sign in the tunnel which seems to over-complicate things by suggesting we seek alternative routes as the footpath is closed...there is a perfectly fine one on the other side of the road...perhaps they can't suggest we cross over in case we get knocked over and sue...

I saw on the SkyNews web site the world's largest rubber band ball - it's about seven foot across. I think they've been cheating - some of the rubber bands look enormous. We've been doing one for the last few years by collecting the rubber bands that the postman carelessly chucks on the ground when delivering the post. Ours is the size of a generous grapefruit. But probably not as tasty.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Jingle bells

Christmas is a coming. The season starts for me on 1st December asit's on that day I stop changing channels whenever a Christmas advert, that's been showing since August, comes on the TV. All those impossibly glamorous ads for the latest perfumes and aftershaves means that the turkeys should start feeling nervous. Equally the countdown to the holiday ads which start on Boxing Day also begins. So the excitement begins to build...especially as it seems this year we'll be having flurries of snow throughout December.

We'll get our office Xmas tree from the very fabulous Borough Market at a price which is about double what anyone with any sense of reason or fairness (or credit crunch) would charge for it, but it'll look lovely once we've put the lights and (corporate orange) baubles on it.

At home the Xmas Decs will go up around the fifteenth of the month...Brighton has a very unsophisticated 6' fibre optic tree which kinda catches the spirit of the season, but in Buckhurst Hill there just isn't room for a tree, so we throw some sparkly lights on the bushes which I've done my utmost to kill this year...inability rather than anything deliberate you understand of course, I hope.

Today, whilst trying to find my way to Cavendish Square, being guided by a satnav which has little sense of direction, and certainly doesn't know its left from its right, I ended up somewhere between Piccadilly and Soho, ducking under some gargantuan snow men hung across the streets. Which was nice. And then turned into Regent Street, where the Christmas lights are a beautiful series of twinkling spiderswebs. Fabulous.

I love Christmas...secretly I still believe in Santa Claus, love the Christmas lights and remain convinced that there will be six inches of snow when I wake up on the 25th, and relive happy childhood memories of large family gatherings which just seemed to go on and on and on.

But this year, Christmas has become a bit of a challenge...for the last four years, the boy and I have dutifully trecked down to Llantrisant to spend time with The Wicked Witch of the West. It seems only fair that if TWWOTW has lost her daughter, then grandson should be there. And the boy has always enjoyed going. The first couple of year's the boy's sister deigned to honour us with her company, so it was a good family gathering for the two of them. But the sister has singularly failed to keep in touch with "itttle bruvva", almost since they were separated and she went off to live with her father whilst the boy came to me. And she is less and less inclined to come across to the Christmas celebrations.

Equally as time has gone on, I've felt more and more like a rasher of bacon at a Jewish wedding (sorry, not PC - please suggest acceptable alternative)...not that I'm not welcomed with open arms, its just that they didn't speak to me for five years from the onset of divorce procedings until the day that the brain haemorrhage struck down the boy's mum. So it's always a little uncomfortable (my problem, not their's)

And then last year, after a day of doing nothing but watching TV (apart from a couple of hours when I escaped for a very long walk by myself), I vowed not to spend the day in Wales again.

Which went down like a lead balloon when I told them ("Well you're always welcome you know"), but the boy merely shrugged his shoulders when I started dropping hints about nine months ago. And he's right, it's my decision not his...but some guidance would help.

So all well and good providing we have a good alternative. But we don't. I haven;'t got a Plan B, let alone a Plan A.

At one stage I thought we might get to ski for Christmas...but tightening of belts and declining business haven't allowed for that

And there's a high risk of the boy and I in Brighton entertaining ourselves for Christmas Day. And even I know that's not good.

So either I swallow my pride, make the arrangements to go west, or spend a day full of guilt-ridden which should it be?

Monday 1 December 2008


Yesterday we skeedaddled up to Birmingham to the Motorcycle show and see the latest on two wheels. I have a terrible conscience about encouraging the boy and his interest in bikes, but hopefully when he sees me fall off and hurt myself he will see the folly of my ways and decide not to tread in my footsteps. Naturally I don't regard buying him a copy of Nick Sanders book about riding round the world is in any way encouragement. Umm

Of course there were lots of exciting things to see and do. We tried out all the bikes for I know that you need to be a chimpanzee to ride a Harley, and a midget to ride a Buell, unless you get the long wheel base version! The boy seems to favour shiny new Chinese bikes...which I think is sensible since they will dominate his world, and we both loved the Triumphs. We giggled over the sign on the Chinese bike which warned us not be touched on the muffler..something everyparent should teach their offspring.

I'm still saving for my KTM, although was distracted by the thought of a Royal Enfield, which is little changed after fifty years, though these days enjoys a made in India tag.

We agreed that we would get two bikes and ride them to see Grandma in Cyprus. How we reconcile that with our agreement that the boy will not have a bike until he's 25, I do not know.

Disappointingly, neither of us enjoyed the promotional girls...all of whom looked erm well err rough and not in a good way. I think I did the right thing at least in saying to the boy that if he was going to look at them to not do it furtively...better to have these thing in the open.

And finally (depending on how Blogger decides to layout the blog...I just don't know how to get things positioned at certain points in the text...) the most exciting thing EVER was the Wall of Death. Noisy, smelly, fast and furious. And enough to scare the living daylights out of the four year old standing next to us.