All posts by steve

Just like old times…

If you are either of my regular readers, you may have noticed two things.  Firstly, that I haven’t blogged in a month, which is most unlike me, and secondly that I’ve reverted back to my original blog name.  How come?

1) Very busy, and not in the mood for writing a “what I did today” type blog at the moment (not knocking them, just not really what I want to do at the moment) but struggling for inspiration of what to write instead;

2) Because I missed being One Man and His Blog.

So, it’s a bit “back to basics” here.  I’m not sure what shape this is going to take for the foreseeable future, but then I could say the same about my life.  I’m sure I’ll have fun finding out…

Are we nearly there yet?

If Diana Ross showed up today and started singing “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” I’d have to reply, “well, Diana, I’ve got a rough idea, but if you’re wanting an exact specific location – hmm, that might take a while”.  Or maybe I’d reply, “what are you doing in my house?”.

As I launch into the new year, I’m trying to reflect on things, and in doing so, I found myself looking back at a post from a couple of months back (I haven’t yet mastered linking to posts, so if you want to catch up, it’s the one from 11th November 2008).  I was talking about three aspects of my life being journeys, and trying to work out where I was going and how to read the map and that kind of stuff.  Well, two months can be a long time, so I thought I’d report back on my progress (or otherwise).

First off – the long and difficult journey that I felt had to be made.  Well, I’ve kind of started it.  However, if we imagine it to be a motorway, then I’m currently crawling along on the outside lane, getting distracted at every service station.  I’m determined to do this – I just need to put my foot down more.  Also, I’m aware there may be roadworks ahead, which could lead me to have to take a bit of a detour to reach my destination; but this is somewhere I really really want to go, so if that means a bit of extra driving, more petrol money, that kind of thing, then I’m up for the challenge, because much as I may be tired by the time I get there, I’ll be so glad to reach the destination.

Now to my second journey – I was facing a dead end but looking for a way round it, while also wondering whether I should follow some directions to somewhere else instead.  Well, I think I’m on route to the somewhere else place now, thanks to a bit of encouragement from a passenger who’s travelling with me and giving me the benefit of their navigational wisdom.  The thing is, I’m still not entirely sure if I’m heading for the right place now – if I turn up, will the locals welcome me or politely ask me to move on?

My final journey, I’m pleased to report, is now completed.  Having gone further than I thought I could, I’ve now passed the wheel to someone else.  Now for that nap on the back seat…

So, am I nearly there yet?

1) No, but on the way;

2) No, but on the way;

3) Yes.

Maybe, just maybe, in a few months’ time I’ll come back and tell you what’s going on (although on past experience I wouldn’t count on it – I think this may be the first time I’ve actually followed up on something I said I would follow up on).  But in the meantime, I’ll just keep on trucking…

I’m in a strange place

Not in a physical sense, you understand.  I’m sitting in my lounge, which really isn’t a strange place.  If I was sitting in your lounge, then I’d physically be in a strange place.  Not because there’s anything strange about your lounge though, just because I’ve probably never been there before and you haven’t invited me round (that’s a lovely ornament / picture / TV / patch of dry rot you’ve got there, by the way).

As you may have noticed, I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks.  I was hoping to blog while I was at my parents’ over Christmas (we all had a lovely time, by the way, and Granddad is well, if a little prone to falling asleep frequently) but every time I logged onto the Wibsite, our internet connection crashed.  Then when I got home, I relished having the house to myself and didn’t get round to blogging.  And now I finally have a little bit of time and really want to blog, but can’t think what to write.

I think that probably reflects where I’m at overall.  As we step into a new year, I feel a bit like I’m in limbo.  I’ve got a feeling there’ll be some stuff happening this year, and I’m doing a bit towards making it happen (although I should probably do more) but it just seems odd knowing that I’m not there yet, and I’m feeling a little restless.

However, there is good news.  Rather than making resolutions, this year I’ve set myself ten challenges, with the aim of seeing how long I can keep going on them.  Some are things I aim to do every day, some are things I aim to do a certain number of times a week, and some are things I aim to do gradually over time; all of them are things which I think will be good for my health (physically, mentally, spiritually, or a combination of the above).  Due to circumstances, I didn’t start until Saturday, but I’m pleased to report that so far I’ve managed the three daily challenges every day, have had no problems with two out of the three ongoing ones, and am on course to do the four weekly ones.  All of which makes me rather happy.

Of course, with the transition from the end of one year to the start of the next, it’s tempting to look back at what’s happened so far, take stock of where you are now, and look ahead to see what’ll happen next.  So that’s what I plan to do next.  Tune in for another exciting episode – random time, same channel.

Good times, bad times

Well, as promised, I’ve found some time to write a bit now.  The last couple of weeks have been pretty chaotic, and most of the major developments can either be categorised as “good times” or “bad times” in a Justin Lee Collins stylee (although I must admit Led Zep were the real inspiration for the title…)

So, in no particular order, in the last couple of weeks I have:

– worked my butt off trying to sort everything out that needed sorting before I finished w*rk for Christmas.  Theoretically this should be Good Times, but the reality of trying to keep up with everything has often been more like Bad Times.  My job is tied in with education, so you might expect that as the schools prepare to break up, things would wind down.  You would be wrong.  Instead, as schools prepare to wind down, they send us page after page of requests for things that they want ready for the first day back in January.  And quite aside from the fact that they’re clearly assuming that we’re all still going to be in the office over Christmas (right, just because you’re on holiday, you don’t expect us to be as well, eh?), there’s the fact that, to put this stuff in place for the first day back, we might need to get more information and speak to someone at the school.  But – you’ll never guess what! – they’re on holiday.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea…

– held a baby for the first time in my life.  I don’t know how I’ve got through thirty years of life without holding a baby before, but last weekend I spent a good ten or fifteen minutes holding little B, my friends’ 6-week-old.  He didn’t cry, poo or puke, otherwise he’d have been handed back much sooner.  His dad said he was quite docile because “he isn’t sure whether he’s sleepy or hungry”.  That’s how I feel most of the time.  Anyway, apparently I was a natural at baby-holding, so Good Times on that score.

– done my first Christmas dinner of the year, with my housemates.  We had roast duck with a wide selection of veg, tiramisu, wine and a large number of Good Times.  We also had a fine collection of cheesy Christmas tunes playing in the background, leading to a wonderful comedy moment as we stopped to say grace, only for it to be preceded by the trumpet fanfare at the start of Jonah Lewie’s ‘Stop The Cavalry’, which sort of ruined the moment while simultaneously making the moment.  After dinner we invented a game in which we wrote the Queen’s speech for her, one word at a time.  Although since large portions of it were hugely inappropriate, I won’t share them here for fear of being sent to the tower.

– heard that my granddad has been in hospital.  He had a suspected case of gallstones.  They’ve decided not to operate for now, but in order to get him discharged, my parents have had to take him in at their house, as Social Services wouldn’t let him go back to live on his own until he had a care plan organised.  So while the trip to hospital is certainly Bad Times, at least I’ll be able to spend more time with granddad over Christmas, which is Good Times.

I’m sure there have been some other major things as well, but those are the most immediately obvious ones.  Still to come – I have to do my Christmas shopping.  Thankfully I only have a small number of presents to get, but unfortunately I have no idea what to get for any of them.  And the shops are pandemonium already.  Bad Times, I suspect…

Not the most fun week…

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote anything here, not because I haven’t had time (I’ve had plenty of it, as you will see) but because I haven’t really known what to write.  So let’s go back to last Friday…

I was off to Tina and Spike’s for the weekend, but first I had to do half a day at work.  And before that I had to pack, something I probably should have done the night before but had somehow failed to do.  So I was already late leaving the house, and then the traffic was abysmal, so I didn’t get to work until half 9.  Flexible working hours are great – although, of course, they’re not so flexible that I don’t have to make up what I’d lost.  Never mind, I thought, I can work through to half 1 if needs be and still be in time to catch the train to London.

Unfortunately, over the course of the morning, I found myself feeling pretty rough, aching all over and struggling to focus on what I was supposed to be doing (OK, that last one’s not necessarily a sign that I’m ill, just that I’m awake).  My colleagues suggested I should leave early, and eventually I agreed and, as a result, got a slightly earlier train and arrived in London Town before rush hour kicked in.

After a good while of catching up with Tina and Spike, we headed off to their local Indian restaurant where I ordered possibly the tastiest curry I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately, I was starting to feel increasingly rough, and I only got halfway through before I had to give up.  But after a good night’s sleep on the sofa bed, I felt a lot better on Saturday morning.

While Spike was working, Tina took me for a guided tour of Crystal Palace park, which was very interesting and featured rather more dinosaurs than I would have expected.  But by the time we got back to the house, I was feeling a bit rough again – a general feeling of indigestion, bloated stomach, frequent burping; not good.  Undaunted, in the evening we headed off to Waterloo (where Napoleon did surrender) to meet up with some Strange People From The Internet, which was a lot of fun.

The next night’s sleep was less peaceful, largely due to the five attacks of diarrhoea during the early hours.  Which at least explained why I’d felt so yukky the evening before.  I’m guessing I had the winter bug that’s been going around.  Of course, with this being a Sunday morning, there wasn’t really anywhere to get some tablets and that, so I had to chance a trip on the bus to the train station, then a train to Victoria to get some medication before heading home.

Well, on Monday I felt OK, but figured I should stay off work just to make sure I’d got over it.  I phoned my manager and said I hoped to be back on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, the early hours of Tuesday morning saw the diarrhoea back again, so after I’d phoned work I went off to the doctor.  He suggested I should take the rest of the week off and stay away from people as much as possible, so I decided that’s what I’d do.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I now seem to have shaken it off – but it’s taken the whole week.  Unfortunately two of my housemates have also been ill with colds and flu this week, so at least I’ve not been sitting at home all alone very much.  But I’ve definitely had enough now, and I’m actually looking forward to going back to work on Monday.

So onto more pleasant news – we got a new washing machine today.  The old one started leaking when Chez tried to use it a couple of days ago.  An engineer came to look at it today and said it wouldn’t be economical to fix it; within a couple of hours our wonderful landlord had bought a new one and was round at ours plumbing it in.  So Chez’s washing is finally being washed.  The great thing is, not only does the new machine have an environmentally friendly 30 degree setting, but it also has an electronic display that tells you how long until the wash cycle finishes.  And you can programme it up to 20 hours before you want it to start, which will be very handy for doing washing while I’m at work.  Get in!  (I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a little more excited about the new washing machine than I really should be… but trust me, it’s a thing of great beauty.  Whoop whoop!)


My housemate D moved to the UK from South Africa a year ago, and moved into our house at the end of March.  He’s a great bloke, a good friend, and hilariously funny.  So you can imagine how gutted we all were when D came home tonight to announce that he’s probably going to have to leave the country in a few months.  And then you can imagine how gutted he is.

D has fallen foul of the new immigration laws.  He can’t stay without a visa; he needs the support of his employer to get the visa; his employer has said they can’t help.  This seems really sucky to me, as they’ve been really supportive of him in the past, and he’s had several promotions and commendations from his managers (I would boycott the employer in protest, but I don’t use their product in the first place, so that would be even more pointless) .  Barring a sudden whirlwind romance and wedding (and he’s not the kind of guy who’d fake that stuff just so he could stay), he would have to leave by this time next year – but he wouldn’t be allowed to work past the end of February, so in practical terms he’d have to leave then.

What’s also sad is that, while D is clearly proud of his heritage (as he reminded me following the rugby the other day) he really feels at home in the UK, and most of his close family are actually here rather than in South Africa.  He’s involved in loads of stuff in his church, including leading worship and youth work, and it’s clearly going to be heartbreaking for him if he has to turn his back on it all.

We’re all rather shocked and saddened.  It’s not a happy evening in our house.

Thank you, O WISE One!

I got home from work tonight to see an interesting little parcel on the stairs (the traditional spot where post is left in our house).  It had come all the way from Australia, which was a rather exciting discovery.  Yes, my WISE gift is here!

So yay for Yay, who has sent me an amazing assortment of very Australian items:  a postcard from Nut Country* in New South Wales, a fine selection of Aussie sweets – Coconut Ice, Mango Passionfruit Ice, Jupiter Caramel Bar and Maca Chino Macadamia Coffee Truffles – and a set of 16 Australian flag tattoos (we may have to have some sort of Australian themed party to show them off!).  Oh, and four gold and four silver Deputy Sheriff badges, which will also provide hours of entertainment!

So thank you Yay for tracking all these bits down, I’m looking forward to sampling the sweets and wearing my Deputy Sheriff badge and Australian flag tattoo with pride!

*Nut Country may not actually be the real name of this area, as the postcard appears to have been doctored somewhat (no pun intended, Yay… but it probably should have been).

My… brain… hurts!!!

I have a headache.  It’s probably due to dehydration, which is largely due to the fact that I have been so frantically trying to sort stuff out at work today that I kept forgetting to make a cup of tea.  And although I did drink some water, I probably should have drunk more.  So once I’ve written this, it’ll be time for a pie, chips, water and a couple of Ibuprofen.  That classic dinner combination.

Anyway, I’ve had a fairly tough few days, just in terms of having to think through a lot of stuff, and discussing things with people who were mostly (but not entirely) symapthetic.  However some good things did happen, not least an unexpected phone call from my lovely sister who talks sense (although if you’ve ever overheard us having a conversation, you might dispute that).

In other news, after many delays (some of which were within my control, so apologies there) my WISE gift will be in the post tomorrow.  In order to reach this point, I had to spend twenty minutes queueing at the post office after work… just to buy an envelope.  Now I get to put something in it, take it back to the post office tomorrow to find out how much it costs, and then hopefully the lucky recipient should have a belated-but-enjoyable surprise by the end of the week (so yes, it’s someone in the UK).

Frohliche WISEnachten*

Since everybody else is blogging about their WISE gifts and stuff, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon.  In case you’re not up on it, WISE is the Wibsite International Secret Exchange, in which from time to time Wiblog bloggers across the world send stuff to each other through the post. (remember that?  It’s what we used to have before emails.  Turns out it’s still going too, and is more useful for sending bulky items.)

Being Mr Last Minute, I thought I’d wait til today before buying my lovely things.  The other reason for waiting was that the annual German Christmas market opened today.  So, WISE receiver, expect something pretty and something ornamental (with the emphasis on “mental”).

The arrival of the German market has now replaced the sound of Noddy Holder bellowing “Iiit’s CHRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSST-MMMAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSS!” as my key indication that the festive season has arrived.  It’s nice to walk out of work of an evening and see a huge number of people eating wurst and crepes and garlic bread and drinking gluhwein.  Although it’s less nice when it gets really busy and it takes twenty minutes to walk to the bus stop because you can’t get round the dawdlers in front of you.  Maybe, if I ever get things sorted out with my camera (long story), I might bring you some exciting pictoral reportage.  Failing that, expect a restaurant review of the wurst stall shortly.

*which is kind of a hijacking of the German for “happy Christmas”.  A bilingual pun, if you will.  I’m such a show-off.