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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!)

One… two… two… two… one… is this thing on?

Woo, look everyone – superduper new improved Wiblog!!  So this is just a test post to see if I can work out how to drive this baby; if you can read it, then I’ve probably got it right.

Anyway, it’s late / early (depending on your perspective, and possibly where on Earth you are) so I won’t start playing around with this now; I’ll just say another big thank you to the Wibsite Overlords who have made all this possible.  One day I might even meet you in the flesh, and no doubt I will owe you a drink or seven.

Right, now to think of something witty and insightful to say…  Well, there’s got to be a first time for everything, eh?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… well, last night in a pub…

It’s been a while since Pub Quiz Man had an outing. But last night, he was back with a vengeance and ready for a fresh adventure. Unfortunately, what had sounded like being a fairly large team had dwindled over the previous 48 hours to just me and my friend Becky. But everyone else missed out – not just on the quiz element, but on one of the most strangley hilarious nights I’ve ever witnessed.

To cut a long story short, there’s a big pub quiz on Monday nights a one of our nearby hostelries; it’s hugely popular, but very difficult to win, and the prizes are, frankly, a bit crap (open a mystery box – you might win some money! Or a tin of tuna! Or, er, nothing at all!). So the discovery of another pub nearby also doing a Monday night quiz – but this one with a definite cash prize, wooo!! – made us think it was time to try a new challenge.

We’d been tipped off the quiz started at 8, so Becky and I both arrived about half 7, had a drink and a chat and noted how strangely quiet and empty the pub was, considering there was a quiz imminent. It transpired the quiz was actually at 9, not 8, so we just kept chatting and psyched ourselves up for it. At about five past nine, with still no sign of anything happening, we checked with the bar staff – yes, there was a quiz on. About ten minutes later, the quiz master came round to explain how it worked for our benefit. Worryingly, his explanation took in several different variations of rounds, extra rounds, odd puzzles and so on, culminating with the words, “and then eventually, we finish sometime around Friday morning…”

And then we finally got started. Quite early on, we noticed the quiz master’s gentle, whispering tone, wich was kind of reminiscent of David Attenborough commentating on a snooker match. We also noticed some slightly ridiculous questions, none more so than the first question of the first round. The round was entitled ‘Star Wars’, and the opening question was: “which series of films is set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?” I almost wondered if it was a trick question, and considered putting the Lethal Weapon films as our answer…

Well, we got off to a fine start and at one point were even in the lead. However, a double whammy of sport (mostly about American football and baseball, two sports that are very much non-mainstream in the UK) and history left us struggling somewhat. Then came a round in which a correct answer would give you another point but an incorrect answer would see you lose a point – but you had the option of not answering any of the questions if you wanted. All the while, the quiz master continued to very quietly come out with random announcements like, “and here’s question number two, which comes after question number one and occurs just before question three, although it’s still a long way off question eight…”

Finally, all the points were added up and, out of the seven or so teams taking part, we were pretty much slap bang in the middle. However, two teams had finished with the same score and were set a tie-break question, which caused some controversy as the quiz master struggled to do the maths and work out who was closer due to forgetting that BC years were further back in time than AD years. So well done, winning team. But wait – there’s more. Despite the fact that one team had apparently just won, we were then asked another question – what is the capacity of Wembley Stadium for an American football match?* – and everyone put forward an answer. At which point, the team who came closest got to choose from two cups and win what was under the one they picked. And so, it came to pass that the apparent “winners” of the quiz didn’t seem to actually win anything, while some other people who’d taken a lucky guess at one question walked off with the princely sum of £19.

All in all then, it was a confusing and frequently surreal evening, and by the end of it Becky and I still had no idea what had just happened. But we had laughed a lot and enjoyed the competitive element – even if we still had no idea how the quiz actually worked – and I suspect there may be a return visit soon. Maybe we’ll just keep going back until we actually understand it.

* 86,000 – in case you ever get that question in your own local made-up-as-it-goes-along pub quiz.


Sometimes God says “yes”.
Sometimes God says “no”.
Sometimes God says “yes, but not yet”.

Unfortunately, I’m not always very good at telling them apart. So – as has happened recently – I might think God’s saying “yes”, only for it then to seem that He’s actually saying “no”. At which point, of course, I become convinced that He must have actually been saying “yes, but not yet”.

But then there are two problems. The first is that I’m still not sure that I’m actually hearing God right. And the second is that I’m so impatient, the “not yet” bit does my head in. And tonight it’s *really* doing my head in.

Still alive

…but quite busy this week. I promise at some point I will catch up with blogs (both reading and writing), but I have lots to do and lots on my mind. In the meantime, a few quick points that have come up since I last posted:

– regardless of what flavour it’s supposed to be, all baby food smells like feet.
– God has a funny way of putting the right person in the right place at the right time.
– our cleaner rearranges the furniture and our landlord does our washing up.
– Braveheart is (for my money) one of the cheesiest films ever made.
– there’s no pleasing some people.

That’s it for now. Off to bed. Goodnight.

Inappropriateness – is that a word? It is now…

So last night we had our second evening service, and although we didn’t have the enormous turnout of students we’d had last week (it turns out the unis’ CU have organised for the freshers to do a tour of all the major local churches until the end of October, at which point they’ll all decide where they want to go) there were still a few students showing up.

Well, before the service I was standing about chatting to my friend Stephen and, as often happens when we start talking, it got a bit surreal. We ended up having a huge discussion about when, if ever, it is appropriate to go to church simply with the aim of finding a wife, and Stephen was telling me about one of his friends who had done exactly that. But the exact phrase he used was “capturing a wife”, which summoned up the idea of traps and nets and all manner of probably inhumane methods. This is a fairly typical Steve and Stephen conversation – starts sensibly enough, and then goes a bit daft and borderline inappropriate.

Anyway, it was at this point that our pastor came up to say hi to us, and then added, “guys, there are some new students over there, you might want to go and chat to them”. Now, I’m all for trying to welcome people, and I definitely think we should make an effort to talk to new people (or even people who aren’t new but who we don’t really know yet), but it is something I find really difficult and get quite self-conscious about. And Stephen and I thought about it for a moment, and then reasoned that, even with the best of intentions, it might be a little dodgy for two 30-year-old men who have just been having the conversation we had just had to go up to three 18-year-old girls and say, “hey ladies, do you come here often?” (Of course, we would’t really phrase it like that… we’d probaly be less subtle…) So we stood there for a while, wondering what we should do, and then a female friend of ours went over to introduce herself to the students and we sighed a big sigh of relief.

Incidentally, after the service some of our regular lads in their late teens were trying to summon up the courage to go and talk to the girls… although they insisted it wasn’t like that… they were just going to say hello and make friends… honest…