Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It's been a blast...

At least, for a while...

Well, I started this journey over a year ago. At the time, of course, I didn't really think anyone would ever read the nonsense I wrote, and had a notion in my mind that "What doesn't kill you..." would be some kind of family journal, plotting the day to day trials of a single father and his children as they came to terms with their newly-defined lives. And - in a sense - I suppose that's what it's been. But along the way it's become more personal than I envisaged and at some point, almost unintentionally, I decided to focus on relationships, on sex, and on love... in other words, on some of the other things that have shaped my life in the recent past.

For a while, I also played with the notion that revealing myself in a physical sense would be possible, but the content of some of the posts on this blog made that almost impossible. Instead I discovered HNT, and if I may I'll quote from an email I sent to someone who questioned it's validity and it's worth: "What Osbasso has achieved is quite miraculous really... an amazing way in which people – if they choose to – can say "This is me, and, for better or worse, I think I can love myself". And the response to that is a quite incredible network of support. Because we all know we're not perfect physical specimens, but those who comment have only one message to relay... that perfection is irrelevant. That beauty comes from within, and every photo is beautiful in its own way. I admire him for having started it, and applaud every single person who participates."

Well done Os - you should be proud. And in a sense, I'm proud too, because Musical Monday has been a revelation at times, and I hope it continues, and grows, because I genuinely believe music to be a very special gift and one that can bring joy at the darkest of times, as well as just getting those hips moving now and again.

Now though, it's time for me to take a break - for a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, or for longer - I really don't know. And I'd like to thank everyone who's read, and particularly everyone who's commented along the way (and yes, NYM - although my earlier comments are no longer visible, I won't forget you were the first; I'll buy you a drink when you finally make it to London!). Life right now is too full for me to devote enough time to this site, and to my friends out there in the blogging world... and after a year of change, there may just be some special things about to happen. Time will tell, but I have to give it/them my full attention as some opportunities are only fleeting. Blink, and they're gone.

I think I've managed to remain authentic, and consistent, and I'm grateful that most of the people with whom I've formed bonds along the way have proven themselves similarly. Some of those bonds will, I'm sure, have a resilience to them that will enable us to remain in touch, as friends; others have proved to be more fleeting, but that's fine too and I'm happy that all of them have "happened" in their own way. And now I'm going to stop rambling, make my breakfast, and see what this particular day has in store for me. I'm still here, still contactable on email, and I may well pop up in your comment boxes. As for when I'll re-open this blog - well, I have no idea. Until I do, keep well, stay positive, and try to LIVE every day. There's no rewind button, remember...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Musical Monday

So... it looks like I’m upping sticks again. As Bea’s Spanish passport will take a couple of weeks to come through and she’s already booked her holiday from work, I’m going out to Tenerife again a week on Monday. Now don’t get me wrong – it’s great to have the opportunity, and it’s relatively inexpensive; and of course I'm going to see my beautiful Cuban again. But the cost mounts up month after month, and I can’t work whilst I’m out there.

Luckily – this time – the week I’m away is going to be a quiet one, before all of the European stuff kicks off in early December, but somewhere long the line it’s going to become difficult. Anyway, London’s next - at the beginning of January - and after that I guess we’ll see what happens. (I don’t mean to sound negative, but trust me... it’s getting kind of difficult to jet off every month!)

I was just sitting here typing, and thinking it’s got cold in the house. It is a cold evening for sure, but what I've just realised is that I’ve lost the power to the boiler (that's "furnace" for you lot across the pond) for some reason, and for the life of me I can’t work out why. So, after having to spend about £300 last week sorting out some electrical problems (and the guy stood on my loo seat and broke it, so add another £50 to the equation!), I could be looking at twice that amount this week if my boiler's shot, and it's been playing up a lot lately. This is not good. In fact, it’s fucking bad. (Look, I know that was a lot for a loo seat, but I don't park my cheeks just anywhere you know! Ed.)

In view of the fact that I’m clearly not having the best of days today, I need something to chill me out nicely. With that in mind, this weeks selection will do just that.

It’s Peace Orchestra, and the album of the same name. And this rather gorgeous, soothing track is called The Man Pt 1... as always, enjoy. Actually, put your feet up and enjoy.

Want to play? Just stick this in your sidebar or on your post, but change ALL the brackets to the pointy ones first:

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just what I needed!

Sorry I haven't been around much - I'm very, very busy work-wise, and also spending most of what spare time I have trying to help Bea sort out her visa application so she can go ahead with her visit to Chez WDKY. But - just when things were looking kind of bleak, she got an unexpected letter in the post today. And guess what?

She's been granted Spanish nationality.

How fucking cool is that?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good news & bad news

Well... I'll start with the good news. Having had a couple of client meetings since my last post, it would seem that I have a bit of a window before having to dash off to foreign parts. It looks like Moscow will be first in early December, followed by Milan during the middle of the month. The project in the UAE is subject to a bit of a rethink with regard to strategy, and we don't reckon we'll be going out there now until early January. All of this means, of course, that I won't have to leave my Cuban beauty to fend for herself. Or organise raves in my house while I'm gone!

Want some more good news? Okay... she's applied for Spanish citizenship (as opposed to the residency that she already has) and she's due to get an answer in January. All being well, the application will be pretty straightforward after 7 years in Tenerife - fingers crossed, though, because it'll make life a LOT easier.

So, what's the bad news. I hear you ask? Well, the fucking visa didn't come through yesterday, and so far as I can tell, it didn't come today either (or I'd have received a text by now - and it's nearly 5.30pm!). And that means that all the plans I'd made for the next few days are probably screwed, including our weekend with the Scottish Sister by the sea.

Update: The bastards at the British Embassy in Madrid have said that Bea has to attend in person, so that they can take fingerprints. Yes, they've just changed the process!!! But to get an appointment, you have to use their online calendar, which isn't working... how fucking ironic is that? I guess the phone lines are going to be hot tomorrow, but a Plan B is being hatched, just in case. Whatever happens, my carefully thought out itinerary can go in the bin, though. AGGGGGHHHHH!!!

Now, even though I'm kind of pissed off about it, I'm going to be pragmatic. And so I'll leave you with a touch of humour... or, perhaps, evidence that this particular hospital in Northampton could do with checking it's quality control procedures. What do you reckon - deliberate or not?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

An early Musical Monday

Well, it’s been a very strange week, and one that hasn’t seen much posting or commenting from this neck of the woods. Sometimes life takes priority, and whilst I won’t apologise I’m always conscious of those times when I don’t get to sit in front of the computer and play. Mind you, it’s probably a good sign, when you think about it...

Anyway, “The Trip” is fast approaching. And whilst Bea is meant to be flying over on Thursday, her Visa isn’t scheduled to arrive until Tuesday! Which means she can’t book her flight yet, and there’s a small chance that things won’t go according to plan, and that the timing of her trip will have to be changed by a day or two. I’m going to call the British Embassy in Madrid tomorrow, but you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Aside from this slight uncertainty (and the fact that we’re meant to be staying with one of the Scottish Sisters next weekend!) work is throwing up a few problems of its own. I have a meeting on Wednesday to confirm the programme for the work out in Russia, Italy and Belgium; this is great, but it seems likely that I’m going to have to fly out to Milan and Moscow over the course of the next two weeks. Not so great with regard to timing, is it? And to add to that little conundrum, something rather weird is happening that’s also throwing a little confusion into the pot.

About a month ago, a friend and I decided to bid jointly on a very, very, very large project out in the UAE. Now, his company is about the size of mine (i.e. tiny!) and the competition comprised the large multi-nationals who practice in our field, all of whom are already based out there in the Middle East anyway. We didn’t think we had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting past the first stage, but the scale of the opportunity was such that we were just excited to be participating; now, and after a meeting with the potential client in the UK last week, we find that we’ve got to the last three! And more than that – because our solution is a bit novel (it involves setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle and doing all sorts of smart things with it) we appear to be the favoured option at the moment.

So the next stage is that we have to fly out to the UAE to deliver a presentation... yes, over the course of the next couple of weeks. This is fucking incredible, of course, but what it means is that by the time Bea gets here, she’ll be spending her time babysitting Lola. To be honest, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

An Early Musical Monday

I’m not sure if I’ll have time to play tomorrow, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to put up my Musical Monday contribution a day early. And, of course, I did hint at what it was going to be when I posted the Boots ad last week (that’s “Boots, The Chemist”, by the way - the ad is about their range of cosmetics!) So this week, it’s a track from The Gotan Project, and their album La Revancha Del Tango.

The Gotan Project is a musical collaboration based in Paris and consisting of Philippe Solal (French), Eduardo Makaroff (Argentinian) and Christoph Müller (Swiss). This unlikely trio formed in 1999 and their first release was Vuelvo Al Sur in 2000, followed by La Revancha del Tango in 2001. Their music is clearly tango, but also uses electronic elements such as samples, beats and breaks. In fact, “Gotan” is an anagram of "tango", which is not a coincidence.

If you like this track – Epoca – I’d strongly suggest that you get yourself over to Amazon. The entire album is very good, but then it would be wouldn’t it? It comes highly recommended, after all ;-)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The goose is getting fat

I know a lot of readers of this rather wondrous blog are from the other side of the pond, but if any of you over there have had more than a passing exposure to British television you’ll have realised that the standard of advertising in this sceptered isle is light years ahead. In fact, I still remember some Stateside ads with a certain fondness - or do I mean bemusement - from my many visits to NY... most of them about haemorrhoids, for some reason. Oh, and the one that ended with “That was the most thu-row eye exam I’ve ever had” – remember that one?

Anyway, around this time of year the marketeers’ battle for the punter's festive pound really heats up, and some fantastic ads start to hit our screens. Usually, Woolworths wins hands down with it's 3-minute epics (historically, the time allotted to ads during programme breaks) but this year it seems that there may be a new winner. This one, from Boots, is my favourite for a long, long time and also features a soundtrack that I’m selecting for Musical Monday next week (so if you know what it is, keep it to yourself). Oh, and watch out for the girl stuffing the turkey, because she is fucking hot!!

As an aside, long-standing readers of this blog will possibly recollect my dissatisfaction with Weetabix, specifically with regard to the loading of Alpen with raisins. Well, I’m pleased to report that my latest box averaged just 8 raisins per bowl. Yes, eight – a bit of an improvement on 42, wouldn’t you say?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Musical Monday

You’d be forgiven for thinking that my absence over the last couple of days was indicative of my failure to survive "The Sleepover" on Friday. Well, as it happens, you’d be wrong, because it all went pretty well. In fact, whilst I’m not going to say it was easy, it wasn’t exactly difficult either; you just feed them (light on anything that induces hyperactivity, of course), crack a few jokes, compliment them on their make-up, occasionally yell “Will you please keep the noise down?” and let them get on with it.

I’m available, and my rates are pretty competitive.

As for everything else – you know, life - I have one thing to say... no more bullshit. It’s always interesting to find out who your friends are, and who’s just playing lip service, or playing games. And frankly, I don’t have the time or the patience, so...time to move on, I think.

Although this track has been played by one of my MM friends before (yes, you, CeeCi) it’s so beautiful that I have no qualms in choosing it for myself this week. It’s from the album 1 Giant Leap, which should be on everyone’s shelves, and it’s Michael Stipe and Asha Bholse with “The Way You Dream”. I know you'll love it - and in the meantime I'll just bask in the first Tottenham victory over Chelea in 33 attempts. Heaven.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh my god!

I say this for two very specific reasons, as it happens. Which are as follows...

This morning I had my first Spanish lesson. Now, my teacher (Cristina) is lovely – very friendly, very helpful, and very, errmmm... cute. In fact, she told me that I would make an ideal student, although she didn’t elaborate as to why, other than saying something about my accent, and my imagination. I’m not entirely sure that I want her to know too much about my imagination, or why it’s relevant for that matter, but I do know this.

It was fucking difficult.

Anyway, I have a few one-to-one lessons ahead before I join a small group, and with luck on my side I won’t make a complete and absolute prat of myself. Oh, and I’ve just spent about £40 on Amazon, buying coursework and “501 Spanish Verbs”. I imagine it’ll keep me out of mischief for a while!

The second reason is that – as I sit here typing this post – there are EIGHT children in the kitchen. Allegedly they’re eating, but there’s so much noise from them that I think it’s virtually impossible that any of them can have even a molecule of food in their mouths. And even worse, they’re all sleeping here tonight. Me and eight children... god give me strength.

Okay, I’m going to open the door and attempt to restore some order here. And you know what? After that I’m going to pour myself a very, very large drink and go seek refuge in my room. Unless anyone wants to come round and help?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This & that

It’s funny... I noticed (almost by accident) that the hits on this blog broke the 60,000 barrier during the last 24 hours. There was a time I’d have got rather excited about a statistic like that, and probably posted about it. Hang on – I just did, didn’t I? But you know what I mean... I feel like I’m a blogging veteran these days, and things have in some way gone full circle. I started off just using it as a vehicle to post some thoughts, and I feel like I’m doing that again. I’m not a purist, necessarily, but it seems right somehow.

I’ve been talking about starting language lessons for a year or so now, and this morning I booked up for classes... a trial class next week, followed by enrolment for a further twelve. It won’t come as a surprise if I say that I’ve opted for Spanish over French, but to be honest I’d almost certainly have done that even if it weren’t for “extenuating circumstances”. Talking of which, Bea seems to have had a tough few days, feeling the effects of what a LDR can mean, I guess. It isn’t necessarily easy, and despite the cheerful tone of recent posts I don’t have my head up my arse buried in the sand. I’m sure there will be difficulties ahead, but I’m going to remain positive.

Oh yes, and I’ve just printed off and framed a few photographs for various rooms in the house, and a couple of the kids were nice enough that I thought I’d post them here. Well, I’m a father... I’m allowed to act like one now and again, aren’t I? (And yes, I know the backgrounds are crap, but with mounts inside the frames they look okay!)