Saturday 7 April 2012

Going our separate ways

It's that time I'm afraid.  It comes to us all.  It's time to go our separate ways.  To be honest it's hard, but it must be done.  It's for the best.

The Cat's Mother, The Cat, Queen Anne and Hopeful are heading west.  The Wild West.  Well New York really.  It's the same thing.

The Boy is heading North.  The Far North. The Frozen North. Well The Lake District.  It's the same thing.

I am heading East.  The exotic east.  The snowy mountains of France.  It's the same thing.

The Cat's Mother is flying (of course - she couldn't go by ship as the Titanic evidently went down some time ago).

The Boy is travelling by mini-bus for his adventurous training.

And I'm going by train.  From St Pancras to Albertville is 10 hours.  It's my idea of heaven...I love train travel, and I've never crossed France in the daytime - when The Boy and I used to go by train we were always on the sleeper.

The Cat's Mother and the Cat will be staying in the Four Seasons.  I'll be staying in a cosy chalet.  And The Boy will be in a tent.  Three of us have struck lucky and I don't envy the other.

The Cat's Mother will be shopping and enjoying the culture.  The Boy will be yomping.  And I''l be slipping and sliding.

But here's the thing we're all doing something we want to do.  We'll all be with friends.  And we'll all come back refreshed and looking forward to spending time together.  Absence make the heart grow fonder.

Friday 6 April 2012

Right Said Fred

Are you a Harold Lloyd fan?  Or Charlie Chaplin?  Or Laurel and Hardy?  At the moment I'm a fan of the two unnamed builders who are providing the entertainment in the yard outside our office.

To protect the innocent, names have been changed.  Let's call them Bob (pronounced just as Black Adder pronounces it in the second series) and, in the interests of ethnic balance and diversity, Ali.  I would make one of them a woman...but truly have you ever seen a woman builder?  And I would, again in the interests of balance, make one of them disabled, but for reasons that will become obvious, that would be impossible.  Whilst I try my utmost to be completely politically correct, I'm afraid I have to say that these two embody every stereotypical aspect of the traditional British builder.

Some months ago, I had to pop back to the office one night, but could only get there with an immense amount of difficulty due to the street being blocked by several fire engines and many hunky firemen.  Blue flashing lights along the narrow street added to the sense of excitement.  I couldn't smell anything nor could I see flames.  But it was exciting all the same.  So exciting that by the time I'd got home some 40 minutes later I'd forgotten all about it.

At the beginning of March, the narrow mews entrance to our office was blocked by a scaffolding truck for several days as athletic young men erected ever higher scaffolding on the side of the building.  To make it even better, they also constructed a meccano-like frame which stretched across the roadway.  This road way, which is already only just wide enough for a milk float is the route by which the rubbish truck enters and leaves the mews.  Reducing the width meant our rubbish and everyone else's rubbish was not removed for long enough that we all started wearing nose gays.  Eventually the truck decided it could get through, the rubbish was removed and all was happy again.

In the meantime, outside our office a large container (a ship container) had been delivered and next to it a skip.  So you get the picture, our office is round the corner and a couple of hundred yards away from the building with the scaffolding.  At the time I didn't relate the two.

After a few days, the container was slowly filled with an endless stream of building materials, and a few days after that Bob and Ali were to be seen bringing large amounts of waste material in a wheel barrow to the skip.  Slowly it became obvious even to the dim-witted that this waste was coming from the scaffold-enclosed building.  Some 200 yards away.  It would be remiss of me not to mention that to the side of said building is plenty of open space; certainly enough to place a skip and a container.  Perhaps Bob and Ali just want the exercise.  Not too much though, as their wheelbarrow regularly dumps half its load on the roadway before it reaches the skip.

These days generally when there's building work going on at the top of a building, there is a shoot which looks to have been made out of colourful dustbins down which all the builders materials are ejected.  Not in this case though.  Every piece is lovingly carried down in either the lift or the stairs by Bob and Ali to the wheel barrow.  It's a slow process.  But that's good, because it gives us all something to watch and pass the day with.

It was only when Bob and Ali started bringing out burnt timbers that I suddenly associated the works with the fire engines all those months ago.  I'm not that quick witted sometimes.  I'm guessing that whilst the top flat was the one that was damaged by the fire, it is the firemen's water that has run through the entire building causing extensive damage inside and indeed outside.  It looks as though the whole building is being replastered (this place was only put up in the last ten years), and it has been covered in wholes as surveyors poke around to see what damage has been done to the structure of the place.  My feeling is that if I lived there, I'd sell can't be good.

In the meantime, Bob and Ali are clearly on a tight budget.  To avoid having the skip emptied too often, they're using sheets of mdf to create higher walls round the edge of the skip.  This makes emptying material into the skip as the mdf walls are now above their heads.  The waste gets piled up pretty high indeed.  And when the skip lorry driver arrives there are filthy looks and the odd growl.

As a special floor show for a few days, Bob and Ali have, at the end of the day used their mobile scaffolding tower as a racing car.  One pushes whilst the other sits on the top of the 15 foot tower like a gladiator...much the same way I loved to push The Boy around in a shopping trolley when he was two.  And now I come to think about just like many a drunken exploit as a student a few years before that.  Like all shopping trolleys this is somewhat less than controllable, and the highlight is seeing just how many parked cars they can just about avoid hitting.  It's heart pounding stuff.

Sometimes, when they have larger stuff to move Bob and Ali use fill up their oversized Transit van.  Loading it up, driving it the two hundred yards and then emptying it in the skip.  The van is too big to manouevre into a parking bay, so it sits there blocking anything else coming in or going out.  It's exhausting stuff - for us.  On a daily basis there seems to be little squabbles erupting.  We can never quite hear what they're about, and they never get too heated.  It's just like a couple who've been married for decades and just need to bicker to keep things going.  Our two heroes never seem to tire, never seem to move at anything more than a snails pace and at this rate will be here for ever.  It's going to be a long hot summer and we're going to enjoy every moment of it.

*P.S. this post was really just an excuse to show the video (which of course doesn't even feature builders) which I saw on a daddy Blogger's page...if only I could remember who it was...sorry!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Tutto coso sono won't grind me down Blogger!

I'm so upset.  I'm so angry.  I put up a post earlier today and its gone.  Disappeared into the ether.  Vamoos.  It's kaput.  It was there one minute, gone the next.  it may not have been the greatest post ever but it was mine, and now it's as if it never existed.  is there anywhere to contact Blogger?  No.  Not that I can find.  How is it that a 'social media' organisation can't be contacted.  Surely that's a pretty basic thing.

Anyway, I can't remember what I wrote, other than it was ABOUT LAST night when we abandoned The cat's Mother who was still lying ill in bed.  The Cat, The Boy, me and The Muffins went to see Bugsy Malone as presented by Future Cinema.  A fabulous experience best shown in this You Tube clip:

As I mentioned, no one got to see the end of the film as we all got involved in a cream pie and splurge gun fight.

Just the best...if only The Cat's Mother had been there with us!

Monday 2 April 2012

I'm sick of this

It seems that temporarily the petrol panic has abated.  I was lucky to find some on Friday night when I left work...few garages had any fuel and my motorbike was running on fumes.  Madness, utter madness.

The week end finished as it started - swimming in vomit.  Friday night, The Boy and The Cat were at a party. The Cat stayed over, The Boy was brought home by three mates in a 'bit of a state'.  In fact, as he was helped through the front door, he loitered long enough, head in hands, only long enough for me to ask his friends if he was all right.  In a case of mis-placed loyalty, two said yes he was fine, whilst the third said "I wouldn't say that".  The Boy then dashed/staggered past the bathroom (?!) and on towards the kitchen sink to empty out his stomach.  The noise churned my stomach too.  A few more heaves and wretches over the next twenty minutes  seemed to be sufficient for him to want to stagger upstairs to bed, complete with plastic bowl 'just in case'.  As dutiful father I popped in a few times through the night to make sure everything was OK.

In the morning it transpired that he'd first thrown up in the garden of the house where th party was being held.   As it's the home of one of his teachers (the daughter is a classmate) he was sent round with a bunch of flowers and a card.

I have to say that I don't approve of all the teenage drinking that goes on.  Yes I know, we all got drunk when we were young, but alcohol wasn't as freely available as it is now.  More particularly, there seems a greater desire to drink as much as possible irrespective of the consequences.  Adults seem more tolerant of teenage excesses (I include myself in this), and little attempt to educate the young on why too much alcohol is not good.  The Government is bringing in a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, and that's a step (however I suspect most of the alcohol for this party was bought by parents anyway), but the enormous leap that is needed is an educational one I think.  Am I just being 'parental' about it?

I may have mentioned before that where we live is a culinary desert.  There's plenty of chain restaurants (an evening at Pizza Express is still my idea of heaven), but gourmet food is unknown.  Last year we had a new restaurant open.  The chef was from a top London restaurant and you could tell...the food was scrumptious.  Briefly.   In the course of the year, the service has become diabolical and the food is now well below par.  It's a shame, but must reflect demand I guess.  Also last year, a pub in the forest re-opened as a gastro-pub.  Now I don't know what your idea of a gastro pub is, but I doubt it's this...gaudy interior decor and food that is 'boil in the bag' rather than home prepared in a busy kitchen by chefs that love their job.  It's a big step forward from the drug dealing and bikers pub that was there before, but is still struggling to move itself out of the 1970s.  It was to there that we repaired for a friend's 50th birthday celebration on Saturday night.  I enjoyed myself immensely.  I've never had a waitress put black pepper on my pate before, nor French role that's been sliced and left in the sun to dry out. I even enjoyed the boil in a bag cod and bashed potato, although almost everyone on our table left most of it.  The rhubarb crumble was interesting, as you could lift your plate through 90 degrees and it wouldn't slide off.  The look of horror on our hostess's face when she saw that no one was touching the food was a picture to behold, but I don't think it stopped her enjoyment.

And on to Sunday...The Cat's Mother has come down with the vomiting bug that is doing the rounds at the moment.  We tended to her every need (not hard as she wanted to be left alone with a glass of water as she repeated The Boy's Friday night performance).  I was banished to the top floor guest bedroom as she doesn't want me catching it just before the Easter break...a nice thought, but I suspect that if I'm going to get it, I'm going to get it.  I hope not as the noises coming out of the bathroom might well have come from Nightmare om Elm Street.