Monday, December 31, 2007

Musical Monday

I’ve been thinking over the last few days. It occurred to me that this business with Livvy has thrown me more than I realised, and because of that I’ve forgotten some fundamental principles that I try to bear in mind as I meander through this ridiculous life of mine. In any event, why would I be so stupid as to assume that nothing was ever going to change? That my relationship with my children would just go on as it was, without the need for continuous emotional and physical investment on my part and without ever being threatened? Whoever said that it was going to be easy?

Somehow, I’ve believed my own hype… I’ve believed that I’m being the best father I can be when the truth is that I’ve been coasting. Somewhere along the way my relationship with my daughter has suffered, and now I need to put that right. It’ll need effort from Livvy too, but maybe the Big Talk that I saw coming needs to be more of a continuous… I don’t know. A “re-connection”. I think that’s a far better idea than risking driving a wedge between us, and although I don’t do New Year resolutions, this is going to be mine for 2008.

Musical Monday

What with Christmas, New Year, angst regarding Livvy and a bad back, I hadn’t really given much thought to a Musical Monday selection today. But I sat here thinking (well, smoking and thinking) this morning, and realised that some things just take time to resolve. And frustrating though it might be, there are times when we all need... well, a little Patience.

Have a wonderful New Year, and an even more wonderful 2008!

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post and get some music up there!

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Goodbye to '07

So… that was Christmas, then. Due to plans that had to be changed at the last minute as a consequence of various coughs, colds and other maladies, I ended up cooking two Christmas dinners, one on the day and the other on Boxing Day, and fed a total of 16 members of family. I’ve had a bad cold myself for a week and a really painful back (I’m finally going for an x-ray after the new year), so I feel like it was something of an accomplishment. Now I just want to sleep…

Anyway, I know you guys over in the US have a habit of summarising your year in the form of a Christmas greeting. Us Brits actually find it all a bit weird - well, we're a pretty conventional lot - but nevertheless I’m going to give it a shot. Call me a hypocrite (I’ve been called a lot worse, believe me)…


What can I say about the events of this year? First of all, after three or four years of playing the eternal bachelor (and, to quote the gorgeous NML, seeing more arse than a toilet seat), I find myself living with a woman 18 years my junior and rather enjoying the experience. Many people have wondered how two people as different as me and Bea have made it work – age, culture, background, even language all seem to dictate otherwise – and the truth is we’re not entirely sure ourselves. All I can say is that she’s the most loving and affectionate woman I’ve ever met, and when you add to that her simmering Latino sexiness… well, give me a break. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not stupid. I'm not one for looking too far ahead because the one thing I know about plans is that they invariably get fucked up, but we're certainly enjoying the here and now. I don’t see any obvious reason for that to change.

This year also saw something of a milestone (how ironic that I almost typed "millstone") so far as my ex-wife is concerned, as now she really is my ex-wife - our divorce became absolute in December after about 5 years of formal separation. The truth is that I was momentarily overjoyed, after which I didn’t think about it again. That said, I find it hard to believe that we were ever together because I really don't like her at all, and her behaviour is becoming more and more unpleasant. She’s now completely unable to communicate other than by being blatantly rude (best case scenario) or screaming down the telephone (normal behaviour). She’s due to give birth to twins some time in January (7 in one house???) and all I can say is… yikes!


In October 2005 I did something rather strange... something that was the consequence of an increasing sense of frustration and dissatisfaction that I knew only I could change. During the course of a routine monthly review meeting with my then-MD Tricky Dicky, I asked if he would be kind enough to make me redundant because "lets face it, we just don't like each other", and even though I had my heart in my mouth it was worth it just to see the look in his face. Priceless!

Last year I was just getting myself up and running, so in reality this has been my first full year of trading. I set myself what looked like a pretty tough target and – having just checked my figures as the year-end approaches – I’ve beaten it by 100%. At times its been soul destroying, and at other times I’ve hated the sense of responsibility – for everything, because there's no-one else to delegate to. I’ve also learnt some tough lessons about business and friendship – sometimes they can go together but often they can’t, and in a sense that has been the toughest lesson of all.

But most of the time I’ve loved it, and I can’t imagine what I'd be feeling now if I hadn't taken the chance to do this when I did . I have a couple of great clients that I've been working with for almost 18 months, I've seen (glimpses, at least, of) countries that I wouldn't otherwise have visited, and I've proven to myself that having the courage of your convictions can make all sorts of things possible. It just takes balls. Now, can I bill you?

The Sprogs

Wow – what changes so far as the kids are concerned. Sam has become so grown-up, and now represents not only the school but one of the local under-11 sides at football (that’s soccer to you lot across the pond). Our relationship is closer than ever, and I’m proud of the kind and sensitive child he’s become (in fact, that he’s always been). Next year he starts secondary school, and I can hardly believe it, but he still curls up with me on the sofa just as he did when he was a toddler. Mind you, he doesn't go upstairs to change into speedos just to watch WWE these days! Bless...

Livvy has begun her tortuous journey through adolescence, and the truth is that it’s not been easy on either of us. She’s often withdrawn, moody, rude or just uncommunicative… aside from when she wants something – usually money – in which case she talks to me as if I’m a human being and even smiles at me sometimes. I’ve come to realise with a reasonable degree of certainty that she’s manipulating her mother, her mother’s manipulating her, or they’re both manipulating each other – whichever it is the result’s the same, it's to my detriment, and it’s reached the stage where its becoming damaging to our relationship. The whispered conversations on mobile phones are increasingly irritating and Bea agrees with me that something needs to be done, so I guess we have a Big Talk coming. I’m not exactly confident that things can be resolved that easily, but I miss the girl she was (and that I know she is), so I have to keep on trying.

There you have it, then… in anyone’s language that was quite a year, but it was also a year that I could never have predicted. And if there's a moral in this story, the moral is this - sometimes we get stuck in what seems like an eternal rut, and it looks like nothing will ever change. But we can make it happen. Of course I know that other factors play a part, but ultimately we're all in charge of our own destiny, and just having the courage to face change in a positive way can transform change itself.

And now, all that’s left is to wish everyone reading this nonsense a happy and healthy 2008. To quote a rather clever guy with even bigger ears than me, may you live long and prosper.

Beam me up, Scotty…

Monday, December 24, 2007

Musical Monday

Well, here we are then... a Christmas Eve Musical Monday. And can you imagine how hard it's been to ignore Wizard, Cliff Richard et al and come up with something relatively normal today? In fact, "relatively normal" is something of an understatement because today I'm paying homage to Van the Man. And, that said, what track could I possibly choose other than Moondance?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, whether or not it has any religious significance for you. Even for me, the Jewish atheist, I kind of like exchanging gifts, seeing family and friends and generally being decadent for a few days.

Unfortunately, for the second year running I've neglected helping out with Crisis Open Christmas as I've just had too much to do at home, but I shall endeavour to do my bit over the coming year to make up for it... and my thoughts are with anyone for whom Christmas is anything but a time of joy. It can be a difficult few days (as I know from experience all too well), but if nothing else I can give you music!

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post and get some music up there!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Musical Monday

It's a while since I've posted for Musical Monday. Much has happened in the intervening period, and I'm sure my dwindling band of loyal readers are beside themselves with curiosity. So...
  1. 10 er reef (err... thanks, Susie) - we went for 5 days, staying in Bea's apartment with her parents. We drunk a lot, did bad things with substances that shall not be named, slept too little and came back thoroughly exhausted. In other words, we had a good time.

  2. Istanbul - I was there on business for a couple of days, and stayed in a shit-hot hotel. It's a mad but brilliant city, and I'm due back there in early January (and again in February). Unfortunately, I failed to hook up with Keda on her patch as one of the Lets had hurt herself and the timing was difficult. Maybe next time, though...

  3. My face - is now sporting a goatee. It's a while since I've had one and its quite short and (this time around) rather grey, but apparently its very sexy. And it tickles...

  4. Vista - I HATE IT. In fact, I hate it so much that I had it removed from my laptop, and I won't touch it again until well after SP1 has been released (and maybe not even then). A pox on all connected with its development. Or lack of development.

    Musical Monday

    So, here we are then... and in my usual fashion I shall now proceed to fuse past with present, classic with avante guarde...

    Well, anyway, you should all know by now that one of my favourite tracks ever is Massive Attack's "Teardrop", and of course it's been featured before as my MM choice of the week. I also featured a cover recently by none other than Jose Gonzalez, and I thought that version was pretty good too. This week, it's another cover of this wonderful track - this one's even better and it's by Newton Faulkner. The album (Handbuilt By Robots) is excellent, so stick it on your Amazon Wishlist for Christmas if you haven't already got it.

    If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post and get some music up there!

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Just to say...

I've barely been around for a week or three, although in that time I've been to Tenerife and Istanbul and worked my proverbial balls off before, during and after. It'll be no different for a while yet, and although my Reader is currently well over the 400 mark I simply have no time at all to visit everyone, let alone to leave comments.

To be honest, in other circumstances I wouldn't have posted now but would have waited until things had quietened down a bit. In fact, my reason for doing so is something of a sad one... believe it or not, tomorrow mark's the first anniversary of Anu's death and I just felt that I couldn't let it pass without a word or two.

So, Anu... I want to say that I miss you. I miss the way you made me feel, and I miss posting sometimes, realising that you'd be smiling your beautiful smile as you read it before leaving one of your wonderful comments. You made me believe that I was special, like you made everyone who knew you believe that they were special.

I know you'd rather I didn't cry when I thought of you, but I can't help it... I've never been short on emotion, have I? And, anyway, you're aware of what you meant to me. What you mean to me.

Did I say that I miss you?

Love always,

T x

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chao chao

It's been an unbearably hectic couple of weeks, but we're off to Tenerife for a few days, leaving at sparrow fart tomorrow. To say that I need the break would be akin to describing the Mona Lisa as a good drawing.

Apologies for not visiting everyone, but thank you for commenting, as always. It always makes me feel guilty when I don't respond, but the truth is that I was just too busy to do anything other than work.

Right... I'm off, and a Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Chao chao.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Special Musical Monday

Musical Monday

I'm frantically topping and tailing some bid documents at the moment, and what with a shitload of other work to do I've barely been around for the last week or two. Consequently, my post today is just going to be about music, but that's quite fitting. because this is a very special Musical Monday indeed.

Some of you may remember my friend "Zoozan" who used to have a blog entitled A life More Interesting but subsequently decided to concentrate on culinary delights (including one of mine!) in For The Love of Food. I've had the pleasure of getting to know her amazing family - including boyfriends, lodgers and pets - rather well over the past few years, and she's rightfully proud of her two gorgeous daughters, Laura and Ali. Whilst Laura's been busily setting about putting the world to rights, Ali has shown that she has a real musical talent, and a genuinely beautiful voice.

You can see something of Ali and the band - Koro - over at their MySpace page, but here's a track fresh from the studio. Ali, you sing like an angel, darling...

Koro, and This Way

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post and get some music up there!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A night at the opera

I'm not sure how many of you guys have been to the opera, or would even go should you ever get the chance. I must admit that, when Bea suggested seeing Carmen at the London Coliseum a while ago, it wasn't something that was at the top of my list of things to do; but the truth is that I really, really enjoyed it. Not just the production itself (it was a contemporary version, by the English National Opera) but the fact that I was there, in a place I hadn't been to before. And I was doing something new.

Its a funny thing, living by yourself for a few years after spending a large chunk of your life playing your part in the traditional nuclear family. Its so easy to get into a routine, and to just keep doing the same thing week in week out, year in year out. Because there's a rather insidious allure in doing what you want, when you want... in not having to please anyone but yourself. I know that's what I was in danger of doing, even though I wasn't exactly living a conventional life (ahem), and sometimes I look at others around me and see the rut that they've got themselves in. And its frightening.

Life can just pass you by without you even realising that its happened. The time we have is short, and its precious, and even when things seem to be going badly - and trust me, I can relate to that - its an amazing world out there. And maybe this journey of ours can sometimes see like one long test of endurance, and can be painful... but you never know what's around the corner. The thing is, you have to have your eyes open to see it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Musical Monday

It’s been a week since I posted - doesn't time fly?! Partly, it's the consequence of being madly busy – I have three projects on the go right now, and what with that and Sam’s footballing exploits I barely have time to breathe. But it's also the consequence of just needing something of a break from the computer, and from Blogging in particular... I’m sure you’ve all been there.

One of the projects I mentioned is going to take me to Istanbul (if you're really old, you may be calling it Constantinople) three times over the next two or three months, and all being well I’m hoping to meet up once again with the lovely patchouli girl, Keda… we did manage to hook up in London for a drink a while back, since which time both of our lives have changed somewhat. Maybe I’ll meet the lovelylets as well this time, but it'll be nice to see her again and maybe it'll keep me out of trouble while I'm there!

Anyway, tonight we're going to the opera (no, not me and Keda... me and Bea!), so maybe a bit of culture will re-energise me or something. That aside, I’ll try to work through my Reader over the next day or so, and in the meantime thanks for the (one or two) emails I received to check if all was okay. Oh, and for the comments, a couple of which, in particular, made me smile.

Musical Monday

A while back, I featured Bjork for Musical Monday, and – not for the first time – I was pointed in the direction of Sigur Ros, also from Iceland, as a band I should get familiar with.

Formed in 1994, they were named after the sister of one of the founder-members (Sigurrós, born on the day the band officially came into being), and achieved critical acclaim in the late nineties with the album featured today.

So, this week Sigur Ros it is, and a video that I really do suggest you take some time to watch in peace and quiet. The track is beautiful, and the video is haunting. All in all, a breathtaking combination.

Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa, from the album Ágætis Byrjun.

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post and get some music up there!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Musical Monday

I’m off to the gym in a minute. Over the last few months, I seem to have put on about 7 or 8 pounds in weight (no, I have no idea what that is in kilos – I’m British!) and its proving a little difficult to get off again. With Christmas coming, I’ve decided that it needs a concerted effort, because otherwise I’m risking looking like a right porker come January.

A few years ago, I just had to think about losing weight and it would fall off. Age takes its toll, and it was only recently that I was playing in the park with the kids, jumped up to grab a low-hanging bough so that I could climb a tree… and fell crashing to the ground. All in all, it’s seriously depressing.

Anyway, as well as refereeing Sam’s school matches I’ve now been asked to referee the S* A****** Rangers home games, so I need to get myself in good shape for that too. And I’ve decided that when I’ve done it I’m going to reward my (ever-dwindling) loyal readers with a beautifully-slimline HNT. Yes, even the guys, so prepare yourselves!

Musical Monday

Booster asked last week if I could post some Joni Mitchell for Musical Monday, and I’m delighted to oblige whilst also feeling a little embarrassed that I haven’t done so already – it’s very remiss of me. Joni is not only hugely successful as a singer/songwriter, but she’s also been hugely influential - her work has had an enormous influence on artists as disparate as Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, Tori Amos, Clannad, Madonna, Prince, Björk, George Michael, Conor Oberst, Morrissey, and KT Tunstall amongst others.

She has received five Grammy Awards during her career, with the first coming in 1969 and the most recent in 2000. She also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, with the citation describing her as "one of the most important female recording artists of the rock era" and "a powerful influence on all artists who embrace diversity, imagination and integrity."

This song, from the album “Blue”, is possibly my favourite, although as is so often the case it was a close call. It also has a very personal, very intense meaning for me... from another life, a long, long time ago. But sometimes it seems like yesterday...

“A Case of You”.

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post and get some music up there!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Flash 55 Friday...

Or something... anyway, I thought I'd play today.

Darkness. Nothing moved, but the shadows seemed to watch me, mocking. Laughing.

The rain fell in torrents, but at least nobody had noticed the cold sweat clinging to my body, chilling me beneath my clothes.

My whole life had lead me to this moment, to my destiny behind this faded, peeling door. Trembling, I knocked.

I enjoyed that... Kudos to Susie!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Musical Monday

It was something of a mad weekend, and one that was indicative of how little time I have these days... to wander around with my camera, get myself to the gym... or just do nothing at all. Anyway, Saturday morning I was at football training with Sam, followed by some food shopping in the afternoon in preparation for a couple of friends coming round for dinner in the evening. Has anyone ever cooked on a raclette? If not, try it – its messy, and its fun, especially when copious amounts of wine are flowing… we had a kind of charcuterie thing going on, with melted swiss cheese, some chicken and vegetable kebabs, baby new potatoes, fresh baguettes... mmmmm! All followed by fresh fruit salad and lots of ICE CREAM!

Then on Sunday morning it was time for Sam’s second competitive match for S* A****** Rangers and this time they reversed last weeks defeat in winning 10-2!!! Sam played in midfield this time, but some of his touches, and his passing & dribbling generally, were sublime and he was delighted afterwards (well, who wouldn’t be?). So was I, naturally.

Later it was off to Tottenham for the latest saga in a very sad season to date… but with a bit of luck the dream ticket of Juande Ramos and Gus Poyet as head coach and first team coach respectively will give us a bit of hope for the season and put us back where we belong next year. I'm not going to get melodramatic over our horrendous start to the season and say that it feels like my life has come to an end... but I must admit, it feels like my life has come to an end. (It was the great Bill Shankley who said "Football's not a matter of life and death. Its more important than that"!)

Musical Monday

I was challenged indirectly last week by the rather cheeky Jay, who suggested that I wouldn’t know an up to date track if it hit me between the eyes!

I almost rose to that challenge too, until I played an album that dates back to 1972. Then, with a sigh, I bowed to the inevitable, knowing that this week was destined to be like so many others… what can I say? I’m just a musical dinosaur!

Anyway, a few years ago I went to see a Lou Reed gig at the Royal Albert Hall. He was excellent, but I left thinking that Transformer was still his best album. I think, after listening to these two gems, that you might just have to agree with me.

Perfect Day

Walk on The Wild Side

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Friday, October 26, 2007


I went to see Mum on the way to football last night. She’s recovered well from the recent operation on her ankle and – although she’s presently walking with the aid of a frame – the plaster comes off her leg in three weeks and she’ll be better able to get around than she has been for years.

All things considered, things have been pretty good between us over the last few years. I say “all things considered” because my relationship with my parents was always difficult. In fact, difficult is something of an understatement… when my father was terminally ill in hospital a few years ago I went to see him, seeking a reconciliation after an estrangement that had lasted six or seven years. He sent me away with the words “You’ve never been a proper son, so don’t try to be one now”. He died shortly afterwards, and the ambivalent feelings towards him from which I seem unable to escape have been a constant in my life both before and since. Not necessarily an issue that anyone else would be aware of, but one that nags away in the shadows nonetheless.

Yesterday, Mum wanted to talk to me… to explain that – even though it might not seem like it sometimes – she loves me as much as she does my brother and sister. I didn’t ask for that conversation to take place but it was the culmination of a few painful exchanges this week. And I was asking myself, as I lay in bed in the early hours this morning, why a guy of 47 is still seeking answers to questions that stretch as far back as his childhood. I know I’m not unique in this respect, but I find it unsettling. As if it's indicative of some kind of failure in my life.

Sometimes, I try to analyse the way I am with my own children, and to determine whether the mistakes my parents made with me are mistakes that I’m now repeating myself. It’s a useful benchmark, I guess, albeit a negative one. And I know that being a parent is never easy, and that it doesn’t really get any easier. Maybe all that really matters is that your children know you love them.

And maybe that’s what Mum was hoping I'd understand last night.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I was on my own in the lounge with Sam on Sunday afternoon, watching yet another debacle for English sport as Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox problems cost him about 12 places in the field during the course of the Brazilian Grand Prix and – ultimately – the F1 World Championship. Anyway, for some reason my eyes were drawn to the new and unused 3-wick candle (still wrapped in cellophane) that’s sitting on the hearth in front of the fireplace.

“Sam, why has my new candle got a big dent in the side and a piece missing?” I enquired.

“I don’t know” he replied. “That’s weird, though.”

Then, on Monday, I was in the kitchen with Bea. “WDKY, what’s happened to that lovely ornament that was on the mantelpiece in the lounge? The one Sue bought…” she asked (sorry Zooz – it was that one!). In a flash, the mystery of the dented candle was solved and all became clear.

“Hah!!!” I cried. “I told him about that bloody football…”

I called Sam at his Mum’s house. “Now listen carefully, Sam” I began, “You have one opportunity to answer these questions truthfully, and only one. I'm pretty sure that I already know the answers, so be very, very careful. Okay?”

“Errr… okay Dad…”

“Okay... 1. When did you break the ornament in the lounge? 2. Were you playing football? And 3. Where have you hidden it?”

“Don’t be cross with me, Dad…”


“I broke it yesterday – the ball came off the wall at a funny angle.”


“I hid it under my wardrobe. Sorry, Dad.”

“What have I told you about playing football in the lounge, Sam?”

“You said I’d end up breaking something.”

“And what am I going to say now?”

“No more football in the house, Dad.”

It’s good to have such a telepathic understanding with your children, don’t you think?!?

As an aside, Sam played his first ever competitive match on Sunday morning (other than for the school team) when he turned out for S* A***** Rangers Under 11's. Like any good kid who realised that his father was almost overcome with pride would do, he scored in the first few minutes with a cheeky volley from a corner that he skillfully sent over his shoulder and into the goal.

His team went on to lose.


Photos courtesy of Olivia...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Musical Monday

Musical Monday - Part 3 of 3

Well, as you can imagine things have been a bit hectic since Paris last week, and consequently it's been something of a struggle to get around my Blogroll since I got back (I'll try to do something about that, though). I also don't have time to post much more than my music selection today, which is the last in a series-style tribute to the great songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

As it is the last, I've opted for two great tracks from two great singers, and next week will see something of a return to the present. It should be obvious that my taste in music is pretty eclectic, but I must admit that I sometimes listen to older tracks and sigh wistfully... even if some of them were from era's that were even before my time. (Shut up - I'm not that old!) Right - here you go then... and as always, enjoy!

Sandy Shaw - (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me

Bobby Gentry - I'll Never Fall In Love Again

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Saturday, October 20, 2007


Well, we're back, and what a wonderful few days we had. It didn't start as positively as it might have done, mind you... as soon as we arrived at the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo we were advised that the train and bus drivers in France were all on strike for pretty much the whole duration we were there. That meant no Metro (which was how we intended to get around the city) and a possible cancellation of the Eurostar we'd booked for the journey home.

Consequently, we did a lot of walking for a couple of days (and when I say a lot...) and then decided to stay an extra night to be sure we could get home when we wanted to. It all worked out pretty well in the end, actually - the extra night was perfect, and the Metro was operating again by lunchtime on our second day there. Which was just as well, as the city was slowly being invaded by English and South African rugby fans going for the World Cup Final this evening.

I've posted a few photos below, although many of them were just snapped as we wandered around. That said, there's some at the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur and The Arc de Triumphe as well as a number of general shots. And for anyone who hasn't had the joy of visiting Paris, I can only suggest that you do your damnedest to get there some time... it's the most beautiful city, and somewhere I'd live at the drop of a hat if I could. Everything centres around the bars and restaurants - it really is the epitome of café culture, no more than where we were staying... directly opposite the Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots - the two most famous in Paris and right in the heart of St Germaine in the Left Bank's Latin quarter.

And I proved one thing to myself... my French is a lot better than my Spanish. I can't say the same for Bea's, though ;-)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Musical Monday

Yes, I know… it’s actually Sunday over here, but I thought I’d get this post done and dusted (you’ll get that one later) because I’ve been a little excited about it since last week. And anyway, this will probably be my last post of any substance before we go to Paris for a few days in celebration of Bea hitting the big three zero!

The last month or two have been kind of difficult for us in some ways. Bea’s hours have been rather anti-social and I’ve had a lot of pressure through work (and pig-headed clients). We’ve battled through, though, and this trip has been one of the things that we’ve been really looking forward to. The Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triumphe, Champs Elysées (and yes, the Buddha Bar itself)… so little time and so much to see. I’ll be taking lots of photos, hopefully, and may well post some of them on here.

Musical Monday - Part 2 of 3

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien's first professional musical experience came in 1958, when she joined the British vocal group the Lana Sisters and recorded a number of singles with them over the following two years.

In 1960 she left the Lana Sisters and formed the pop-folk trio the Springfields with brother Dion O'Brien and Tim Feild (the two of whom had been working together as the Kensington Squares). According to Tim Feild, the new trio chose "the Springfields" as their name while practising in a field in Somerset in the spring of that year. So Mary (who had been nicknamed "Dusty" as a child) became Dusty Springfield, and the rest is history.

Springfield had become a fan of Burt Bacharach in the early 60’s (largely influenced by Dionne Warwick’s collaboration with him, and later with Hal David), and recorded a number of Bacharach/David compositions including "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself", which reached number 3 in Britain. She was chosen to record the original version of "The Look of Love" for the 1967 Bond movie Casino Royale and it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song of 1967. In 1968 a cover version by Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66 became a bigger hit than the original; however, the song has remained more closely associated with Springfield, whose interpretation is widely regarded as definitive.

Before releasing her final album, A Very Fine Love, in 1995, Springfield was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received treatment and, for a time, the cancer was in remission. Unfortunately, howver, it was detected again in the summer of 1996 and Springfield, after a spirited fight, was eventually defeated. She died, aged 59, just ten days before her induction into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The day she died was also the day she had been due to go to Buckingham Palace to receive her OBE medal.

Right… here it is then – part 2 of my tribute to Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and The Look of Love. A beautiful song, delivered to perfection by the late Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien. That’s Dusty Springfield to you.

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

More black ties and carriages

Well, I should probably apologies for not being around much this week. The project that I'm working on - and have been for the last few weeks - reaches a critical milestone tomorrow, when the pack of documents I've been putting together have to be issued to various parties who are still involved at this stage of the process. it's meant some very late nights and not much time for anything other than working. that said, everything seems to have come together over the last 24 hours and I'm reasonably sure that we'll avoid any last minute crises. Now I've said that, of course, there'll no doubt be some last minute crises.

The function I went to on Monday was unfortunately not open to partners to attend as well (boo), but all is not lost as there's another one tonight that is (yay).

This time it's in a castle that dates back to the 12th century, would you believe, and Bea - who's getting her hair done as I type - is coming too. She's a little nervous and will no doubt be on the look-out for these illusive carriages she keeps hearing about. If we see any, I'll be sure to take photos :-)

I think I'd better get back to these documents, as I only have until late afternoon before we have to set off. Hopefully I'll have an opportunity to be a little more sociable as the week draws to an end!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Musical Monday

Tonight I'm off to one of the nicest hotels in London for a black tie dinner. (I would tell you which one it is, but then someone else who's also going might do a search on it and end up here, so I'd better not. Because that would be... bad!)

Anyway, the dinner is work-related and I'm a guest on the table of a company from which I'm hoping to get a nice project at the end of the year, so I'll have to stay (relatively) sober and try to leave my bow-tie on at least until after dinner. I have been known to misbehave at this event in the past, as it happens (no, there's no surprise there...).

I was looking at the invitation earlier, and was laughing at Bea's face as she read the phrase "Carriages at 1am"... this country really is steeped in tradition, but the truth is that I like it. Tradition can be... well, comforting sometimes, and although I only go to two or three black tie functions in any year there's something about walking through the West End looking like a penguin that I enjoy.

Musical Monday - Part 1 of 3

So, given that I'm a throwback to Victorian times, I decided that I'm going to do a Musical Monday series - reminiscent of some of my more popular HNT's - to demonstrate the fact. The next three weeks, therefore, are going to be a kind of musical tribute to two of the greatest songwriters of modern(ish) times. Burt Bacharach and Hal David, or just "Bacharach and David". If you fancy reading something about them and their amazing collaboration have a look at this article; otherwise just sit back and enjoy Dionne Warwick singing "Walk On By".

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

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Friday, October 05, 2007

You gotta love 'em

Clients, that is. After adding more than two weeks leeway at the tail end of a project I'm working on, I booked a short holiday in Tenerife so that Bea could see her family and we could unwind a bit. Safe enough? I thought so too, but now it seems that - because my client has failed to meet all his deadlines (his deadlines) for document approval and sign-off Bea will probably have to go on her own.

I know I've been moaning about work a lot recently, but this kind of thing fucks me right off. I could remain resolute in my determination to go, but if I do it will probably cost me about £2000 in respect of missed days when I'm needed over here. I'm tempted to cut off my nose to spite my face, but the truth is I doubt that I will. I can't write off that kind of money - I wish! - and I'll probably have to end up biting the bullet and smiling politely! (Update: he's been a star, and has insisted in reworking the programme around my holiday! There is a god)

To make myself feel better I went for a walk on my way back from a meeting yesterday, and took a photo of "The Gherkin", one of my favourite buildings in London . It's actually in the City - that's the financial district that originally encompassed precisely one square mile (although the boundaries long ago extended and have since become slightly blurred). Anyway, Wikipedia's take on the building itself...
30 St Mary Axe is a building in London's main financial district, the City of London. It is widely known by the nickname "The Gherkin", and occasionally as The Swiss Re Tower, Swiss Re Building, or just Swiss Re, after its previous owner but principal occupier. It is 180 m (590 ft) tall, making it the second-tallest building in the City of London after Tower 42, and the sixth-tallest in London as a whole. The design is by Pritzker Prize-winner Lord Foster and ex-partner Ken Shuttleworth and Arup engineers. It was constructed by Skanska of Sweden between 2001 and 2004.

It looks a lot more impressive when you click on the image and see it in it's true size. Actually, here's a much better one, although I didn't take it. It's the view from Bishopsgate, in case you're interested :-)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spreading the love

Anyone with kids in their last year of primary school (no, I have no idea what that's called in the States - perhaps Junior High - but here they change schools after Year 6/aged 11) will appreciate what a difficult time it can be. In fact, its a bloody nightmare.

After watching Sam play football this afternoon, we're off for a tour of yet another possible destination although this time it's a single-sex school. I'm really not even sure why I'm taking him to see it (I'm much, much more in favour of co-ed) but in this area there's a real dearth of schools that meet the criteria were looking for - good results, state of the art facilities and decent kids - and we have to look at all the possibilities.

It's actually not that unusual for families to move simply to get inside the catchment area of a school they particularly like, and the whole process can end up being more than a little trying. All in all, then (what with client troubles, school angst and rather depressing football results) it seems like a perfect time to push all the problems of everyday life to one side and think about something altogether nicer...

Every now and again I post video on here, and there's always a good reason for my doing so. This occasion is no different, and the short movie below is well worth 8 minutes of your time. Because sometimes its nice to have a smile put on your face, and to know that there's a little love out there, isn't it?

(And this little gem has apparently won in the order of 35 film awards. Within that context... what's 8 minutes, eh?)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Musical Monday

Well, I got through last week relatively unscathed. Unscathed, that is, aside from a "difference of opinion" with the client for whom the work was being carried out that made me realise why so many of my friends in the same line of work as me refuse to go down the consultancy route... it's a fucking hard way to earn a living, and it can be soul destroying at times.

I felt better when I emailed my invoice, though. Much better, actually.

Musical Monday

I'm particularly pleased with my musical treat today. I imagine everyone knows by now that I love the Bristol music scene over here, of which Massive Attack is a major part. I also really do enjoy the music of José González, although I'd be the first to admit that they're poles apart. Well, how about a a José González cover of my favourite track by Massive Attack? "You're mad", I hear you cry, but I kid you not. This is Teardrop (live), and I like it. I like it a lot, in fact.

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The second coming

Two more days of madness. I’m not quite wilting under the pressure, and it’s true that I found the time to go watch Spurs win yesterday, but the demands of this week have been unrelenting. Anyway, you know what they say... when the going gets tough…

Things at home have been difficult lately, with Bea having had to work a couple of weeks of late shifts (which entails coming home at 3am, when I’m fast asleep and not easily roused) and me having had a bit of a cough and cold. This week, though, I’m better and we’re managing to spend some proper time together; consequently we’ve lived what feels much more like a “normal” life, and slowly but surely everything is falling into place again. For some reason, as I typed that sentence the words from that wonderful W B Yeats poem sprang to mind… you know the one.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Was that a little melodramatic? Probably, but I must admit it takes me back… A-Level English Literature, smoking behind the 6th-form block, those parties I was writing about the other day… 18 hour days seemed easy then!

I'll catch up with you all soon, I hope. In the meantime, the poem’s called The Second Coming. It really is one of my all-time favourites, by one of my all-time favourite poets... you could do worse than to check it out.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Musical Monday

So... the week of complete madness has started, and if I seem to be less visible than normal just blame the fucking ridiculous deadlines that I'm working to. Is it worth it? Ask me when I've banked the cheque!

In the meantime, let's seek solace in some music... this week, I've gone back in time again to an old staple from the days when the simple things in life were all we cared about... a few friends armed with a bottle and a spliff, some beautiful young thing for the night, and the next football match.

I have no idea why things become more complicated as we get older, but I wish they wouldn't, or didn't have to...

For those of you with long memories - or shorter memories but a taste for vintage music - how about some JJ Cale and, perhaps, a little... Cocaine?

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

The one where...

…he moans about work.

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m working. There’s nothing unusual about this, as it happens, and I’ll no doubt work tomorrow too – the only difference this weekend is that Bea’s got her days off, and so I’ll feel a little guilty about it as well as being slightly more cross than I usually am that I can’t just switch off for a couple of days like most other people.

For the last few weeks, my work day has tended to start at around 6.30am and finish somewhere near 10pm… not every day, but most days. From Monday it’s going to get worse, because I have one project that’ll be hitting a peak and another (involving some work in Turkey) that’s about to start. The reality is that there’s no divide between my working day and whatever everyone else seems to have – I think it’s called “leisure time”. And it isn’t just me, I know, because a friend who’s running a similar business (another consultancy in the same sector) works longer hours than I do.

This year – from January to December – it looks like I’m going to bill double what I earned in my last year as a salaried employee. My costs (overheads and subcontractors) only amount to around 20% and I pay less in tax than I would have done as an employee, so I should be happy. But the truth is that any surplus income I have needs to be set aside in case next year is a quiet one; I don’t even feel like I’m reaping the benefits because the consequence of this constant uncertainly is that I don’t actually spend any more than I used to. I just don’t have any immediate financial worries like I might have done, and perhaps used to.

I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m complaining when, instead, I should be rejoicing in my good fortune. But I’m fed up with being tired, and I have a headache. My friend (who I referred to above, and who’s also effectively the subcontractor I mentioned) has let me down big time on a piece of work he was meant to be doing for me, and I’m probably going to spend much my day doing what I’ve paid him to do. And I have a headache - did I mention that?

Enjoy the weekend… those of you that have one. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Love is blind

So... there you go, then. In all the excitement of the new dishwasher’s arrival and impending project deadlines, I would have forgotten if Bea hadn't looked at me earnestly this morning and said "Congratulations". I looked back at her quizzically for a moment, and then it dawned on me. I suspect that it would have completely passed me by in other circumstances.
I have a little bit of child-related drama going on with my ex at the moment, and its driven home to me yet again that she’s a woman full of anger and bitterness. She probably always has been - she certainly has a history of treating those around her (those that she purports to “love”) with contempt. Not always, but ultimately always, if you get my drift. Well, I don't often quote the Bible (Jewish atheists tend not to) but I'm bound to say... as you sow shall you reap.
Understandably I imagine, I’ve asked myself how I didn’t see all this from the beginning, and maybe the answer lies in some of the comments one or two of her oldest friends have made to me over the last few years… “This is the woman that we all know - the one you see now. The woman you thought you married was in temporary residence…” But actually, amongst all the bad there was a lot of good, and even a bit of great. And if ever there was a reason (well, two actually) not to look at those thirteen years of my life as a mistake... well, I'd better go and check their bolognese sauce.
Because if there's one thing they love it's their Dad's bolognese sauce.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Musical Monday

After all the soul-searching of late, I decided that I needed to get out and play more. What with one thing and another, though, getting out proved to be harder than anticipated so staying in and playing therefore became a slightly more viable option. Well, who would have thought that our friends at Blogger would be so helpful?

I was on my Dashboard yesterday (intending to try a template tweak or two) and stumbled across Blogger Play (in fact, that's quite an approriate expression because it's not dissimilar to StumbleUpon in concept). If I've got the tag right, clicking on the image below should take you straight there. The photos you'll see are uploaded by Blogger in real time - in other words, as they're posted to blogs you see them appear on the screen. And by clicking on them, you'll be taken straight to the blog post concerned.

Its intriguing. And its fun.

Musical Monday

For a while there I was stuck in a rut of my musical past, but you'll be impressed to learn that this week I'm not a great deal more than a decade from being up to date. And this track is one I heard a few weeks ago purely by chance, and I liked it so much that I did a Victor Kiam and bought the album. In fact, I bought two because it was 2 for 1 (give or take an extra 50p) on Amazon that day!

Anyway, a little about Fiona Apple, courtesy of Wikipedia... "Apple is a member of a family rich with roots in entertainment. Born in New York City, she is the daughter of singer Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart. Her older sister, Amber Taleullah, sings cabaret under the stage name Maude Maggart. Her brother Spencer is a director and directed the video for her single "Parting Gift". Her half brother Garett Maggart starred in the TV series The Sentinel. In addition, her maternal grandparents were Millicent Green, a dancer with the George White's Scandals, a series of 1920s musical revues similar to the Ziegfeld Follies, and Johnny McAfee, a multireedist and vocalist of the big band era; her grandparents met while touring with Johnny Hamp and his Orchestra.

Hmmmm... quite the pedigree. In 1996 Apple's debut album, Tidal, was released by a subsidiary of Sony. The album went on to sell 2.7 million copies and was certified three times platinum in the U.S. My favourite track (and the one I was referring to earlier) is Shadowboxer, and that's what I give you today.

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

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Friday, September 14, 2007

A question answered

I seem to be starting each of my posts lately with a reference to the one that came before, but on this occasion I felt that I had to acknowledge (and say thank you for) the comments that were left following - yes, you guessed it - my last post. I appreciated the sentiments expressed very much.

I’m not sure whether that one post had any particular influence on my Mexican chick but whether it did or not she saw fit to ask me a question as part of a game of tag along the following lines (and I’m not being narcissistic in any way, just trying to adhere to the rules)… “You're also one of those bloggers who can string thoughts together in such a way that probes the deeper recesses of my mind. You make me think. Who or what inspires you to write like you do?” That’s some compliment – which I'll accept, even if I do so with a degree of embarrassment – and I think I’ll go back to the beginning in trying to formulate some kind of coherent response…

I think that I’ve hinted more than once before that I consider myself to have gone some way in terms of my… I don’t know. Let’s call it personal development. I certainly wasn’t always “the person that I am now” and some of that change has come about because I didn’t like what I saw back then. In fact, I’ll be more brutal with myself, and admit that I didn’t like some of what I did back then either. Can we all say that? Frankly, I don't know, and in any event I'm not sure that I want or need to benchmark myself in that way. But for me, it was true.

I guess, like for all of us, there were things about my childhood, my adolescence, my relationship with parents and other influential people in my life… I could go on, but what I’m saying is that there were things that played a part in shaping who it was that I was becoming. But somewhere along the way, I think that I realised (and accepted) that responsibility for who I was had to rest with me, and me alone; it wasn’t enough to be a passenger, and it wasn’t acceptable to try to reason away my behaviour when – deep down – I didn’t necessarily like that behaviour. I suspect that this thought process came to a head when I was in my late twenties and my first marriage ended, but the knowledge that in some way – in any way – I had to keep on looking at myself in the mirror (and questioning what I saw) continued as the paths I took in my life meandered in unexpected ways.

One of the things I strive for in trying to be the person that I want to be is honesty… in both thought and in expression of that thought - even if it hurts occasionally. Because, you know, it’s just as easy to be dishonest with ourselves as it is to be dishonest with other people. Perhaps I’m fortunate in being able to express myself in the way that I want to, at least most of the time, and that’s really all I try to do in this medium of ours. To express myself with as much honesty as possible.

Whether I succeed or not may just depend on how I feel about what I write. Or maybe its about how able I am to make some kind of connection with whoever chooses to read. Maybe its a combination of the two? And I’m not even sure if that answered the question, but I hope it was close enough as makes no difference! And apologies for making this a long and slightly rambling post... I wasn't going to, but it just happened that way (so shoot me...).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The company you keep

Ever had one of those weeks when things just seem to… happen? The kind of things that halt you in your tracks for a moment. That make you stop and think for a second.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog since the early days will know that I’ve been separated from my ex for some time (in fact, it’s about four and a half years). Those days were not the most pleasant of my life… she was unfaithful and I went against every instinct in my body in giving her a second chance. It all became quite traumatic as the lies and deceit continued, and if I learnt one thing it was that second chances are not things that should be given without a great deal of thought! Anyway, I digress…

A few days ago, I received a letter from the solicitor who’s been dealing with my divorce proceedings (finally). It seems that the Decree Nisi is to be granted on 18th September; and thereafter, the Decree Absolute will be granted on 31st October.

I read the letter and then tried to determine what it was that I felt, and the conclusion was stark and mildly surprising. I felt nothing.

Then - yesterday - I was taking Sam to buy a new pair of football boots, and I decided to question him, subtly, about a text I received a couple of days ago that seemed slightly strange at the time. He was a little reticent at first but then gladly relieved himself of the burden of information that for some reason he'd been made to promise not to divulge; it seems that my ex – who’s now 40 and was sterilised whilst we were married – has successfully undergone IVF and is now expecting in February. In fact, she’s expecting twins (god help her!).

As we sat in the car, and indeed later that evening, I again tried to determine what I felt, and the conclusion was just the same. Again, I felt nothing… save for trying to ascertain how it would impact the precious time that I spend with my children.

We’re all shaped by the sum of our experiences. Those experiences can be hard to deal with but deal with them we must, because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about… a life in which we deny ourselves the opportunity of finding contentment. Of being happy again. And I don’t mean happy with another person; I mean happy with who we are, as individuals. Because in a sense we have to get through life alone, whatever our circumstances.

I realised with a degree of certainty that was comforting that I now find myself in that position – happy with who I am. And it reminds me of a few lines from The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer…

“I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.”

I can, and I do.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Musical Monday

Well, there’s clearly no doubt that the BBC documentary (Guys and Dolls) featured in my last post was both fascinating and disturbing, and I enjoyed reading the comments that were left. Many of my own thoughts were expressed in those comments, and I was left with two overriding feelings after watching it. (Twice, I might add!)

Firstly, the objectification of women as sexually-compliant, non-thinking/speaking, commodities; available whenever required, never complaining, toys to be hung from a chain (like a carcass at an abattoir) until – or when no longer – required... well, it left me feeling that something here was very, very wrong.

Secondly, the rather sad and pitiful proposition that (most) of these guys believed that they were enjoying a “relationship” with their dolls… that is, a relationship with a piece of plastic (okay, plastic with interchangeable tongues and vaginas, but inanimate nonetheless). What on earth does that say about the parental and other role models/influences that have resulted in them being so completely unable to relate in a social context to REAL women? (And what about the guy with EIGHT dolls, all modeled in accordance with some sleazy, stereo-typical fantasy of woman-as-sex-toy?)

I don’t have any problem at all with sex-aids as masturbatory devices; in fact, I find the double standards thing that normally seems to apply in this area of sexuality (and which, ironically, are generally "in favour of" women) quite worrying at times. Neither do I have a problem in recognising that some people have severe social deficiencies, and that these deficiencies need to be recognised and – in some way – treated so as to ensure that no harm comes to others as a consequence.

But… I don’t know. Somehow, this just doesn't seem right. And I can’t really put it any more intelligently than that, I’m afraid.

Musical Monday

I’ve gone unashamedly commercial with Musical Monday this week, for three reasons…

Firstly, I think a lightening of the mood is in order, after all this talk of the objectification of women and men’s social inadequacies!

Secondly, I LOVE this song (it’s one of a very few that I’ve actually bought as a CD single).

And finally, these women are DAMN SEXY (shame the guys had to be in it, though!). So damn sexy, in fact, that I’ve posted the video as well as the music player so that you can all drool along with me. And I have only one more thing to say…


(And no, the irony wasn't/isn't lost on me, in case you were wondering.)

Liberty X - Just a Little Bit

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post, but change ALL the brackets to the pointy ones first (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Challenging convention...

Or, perhaps, challenging yourself...

There are times when all of us want to push back against the rules, regulations, expectations, moral values... the conventions that are forced upon us. And at the same time, we probably all think that the framework that we build around ourselves in order to give our own lives some kind of self-imposed order is the "right" one. But if we make assumptions in this respect, aren't we also guilty of imposing our own conventions on others?

Time and again I'm reminded that it's a strange, and often perturbing, world out there, and some questions don't have an easy answer. This video from a BBC documentary runs to about 46 minutes (yes, it's a long time, but its compulsive viewing so you may want to kick off your shoes...), and if it doesn't leave you with a slight feeling of unease I'll be more than a little surprised. And you tell me... where do you draw the line with regard to your own comfort zone, and does this fall outside of it? Are you disgusted, or did it give you cause to question yourself as to what's... "acceptable"?

As I said, you tell me...

"Guys And Dolls"

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Life balance

A while ago, I was talking to someone about the joys of running a business, and in discussing why I was actually happy to walk away from a relatively high – and secure – income I used the phrase “work/life balance”.

“I hate it when people say that” she responded, “It’s about life balance, not work/life balance. Work is just one part of the whole, and shouldn’t be any more important than the others.” Now, it doesn’t matter whether you think she was right or not, but it is an interesting subject to mull over. I was thinking about it yesterday evening, in fact, because I was preparing some papers for a hastily-arranged meeting with a client today and had been rather put out at having to don a suit (although no tie, you can be sure) and get myself on a train a touch too close to sparrow fart for comfort.

In a (vaguely) similar vein, Bea’s struggling with one or two issues at the moment, having had to work until 1.30am for three days running; we’re also getting slightly pissed off about the fact that it’s impossible to plan ahead due to the uncertainty surrounding her days off and shift rotas. The job itself is great, but there’s a downside; it’s just affecting her life balance a bit (see what I’m saying?).

Anyway, more on this subject another time. The client I met today was actually my first for the business, and we’ve been working together for about a year and a half now. It’s something of a consultant’s dream because I’m regarded as an integral part of the internal management team these days, and that can be a hard thing to achieve. In fact, it can be an impossible thing to achieve. The offices are on the river, situated between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, and as it was a nice day when I left after lunch I decided to go for a walk.

Now, I didn’t have my camera with me, but even so decided to take a few shots on my mobile (that’s cell-phone to most of you lot!); the results weren’t so bad (they can’t have been, considering that I was pleased enough with them to give them names). Just cut me some slack, because I’ll be going back some time soon to give my Canon an airing.

And don’t take that the wrong way.


(Oh, and the mobile's a Nokia N95, for those that asked!)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Musical Monday

Well, here we are again. In reality its not quite Monday, but even so I find my thoughts turning to music; however, not before a bit of a ramble, as is my wont. Old habits die hard and, anyway, this is a habit I enjoy…

I seem to have managed to persuade one or two new readers to stick around lately; that being the case (and having had some messages expressing a degree of surprise on the matter) I should probably clarify that from mid-February '06 and earlier the original comments that were left on here have all disappeared. That’s because I switched to Haloscan at that time, and had to archive the Blogger comments to avoid having two platforms running simultaneously. It’s therefore always nice when people delve into the archives and leave a thought or two – thank you for those who have. Okay...

On Saturday night, we went over to Zooz for dinner (remember Zooz?), in celebration of one of her daughter’s recent graduation – with a First, I might add. And what a superb dinner it was, cooked and presented to perfection. As always, there were a liberal number of spliffs working their way around the table, and I must admit to being rather stoned by the time we left. Bea was more drunk than stoned, and had one of those “moments” on the way home, caused in the main by frustration at not being able to articulate herself in the way that she wants to and culminating in a few tears. And I’m sure that it is frustrating, but there’s no point in worrying about it. It just needs a little time, and a little patience… (Bea, everyone loves you, darling. Don't worry about it.)

Musical Monday (and my leg) now comes to you in glorious Technicolor. A while ago, we were in Brighton for the weekend. On the Sunday I was wondering around one of the little art & craft shops when this track came on the stereo and, not really concentrating, at first I thought it was Portishead (listen for the similarity). But it wasn't, as you'll have gathered by now.

If you can be bothered to follow a link, there’s some information about Björk Guðmundsdóttir (that’s Bjork to you) here but suffice it to say that she’s one of the most original, interesting, quirky and innovative artists around. And – let’s face it – Iceland isn’t exactly known for having a production line of original, interesting, quirky and innovative artists, is it? Anyway, this is from her album Homogenic, although it has to be said that she looks a whole lot cuter on the cover of Debut! It really is a near-perfect track...

Hunter. And, thinking about it, it's a perfect track.

If you want join in with Musical Monday, just stick this in your sidebar or on your post, but change ALL the brackets to the pointy ones first (by the way, this is the code if you want the new image link, i.e. the colour version. Go on, you know you want to change it…):

(a href="" target="_blank")(img src="" border="0" height="160" width="120" /)(/a)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interviewed by...

I volunteered to be interviewed the other day. It’s not something that I’d normally do, but I made an exception because of the esteem in which I hold the interviewer… none other than the lovely Finn.

I expected some thought-provoking questions and I wasn’t disappointed…

If earning a living were not an issue, what would you do with your time?

Hmmmm. Ironically, what I love the most – photography – proved to be rather more fulfilling as a hobby than as a career. Wandering around with a camera in some of the places I (one day) want to visit would be a lovely way to spend my time, though, and I’d have no problem filling my itinerary as there are so many destinations to choose from. India, Mexico, Peru, Madagascar, Haiti, China, most of the Far East, etc etc etc…

The reality, of course, is somewhat different and having failed to earn more than a meagre living as a photographer I was reduced to baring my all in the seedy world of male modelling.


What's the most important thing you've learned in your life?

I’ve spent much of my life paying emotional penance for things done that, given the time again, I’d know better than to do. It took me many, many years to realise that making mistakes is part of being human. In learning that, I managed to come to terms with myself, and eventually to like the person that I had become. It was a valuable lesson.

There are still things that haunt me from my past, but I’ve managed to find a kind of peace with them, at least most of the time. And I might still make mistakes, but at least they’re different mistakes.

What thing do you find sexiest in a woman?

Well, I’m assuming that you don’t mean physical characteristics (although if you did – bottom, lips, eyes, hair). Being serious, though, the things that attract me the most have nothing to do with looks; they'd include intelligence, confidence, sexuality, spirituality, and self-awareness.

Nothing unique there, I know, but a beautiful concoction (wouldn’t you say?). Now, spice that up a little with the physical, and… mmmmmmm.

What is your worst character flaw?

That’s a difficult one, because I have a few too many for comfort (and I’m also unsure that I want to expose them in such a public forum!). But as my arm’s being twisted I’d have to say that I’d like to be less stubborn than I am – a lot less stubborn, actually. I tend to be pretty sure that I’m right, and pretty much all of the time… the truth is that every now and again I’m not, and it always comes as something of a shock.

If I was permitted to add a second, I’d probably mention something about crying uncontrollably when I watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Is that a character flaw?

You have one entire day to yourself -- what are you going to do?

Now that’s not an easy one, because frankly I’ve never thought about it. And if I did (for too long, anyway) I’d probably come up with something that’s more a figment of my imagination than anything I’d really desire.

That said, I’m a thinker, and I find that time on my own gives me the opportunity to make some sense of all the crazy stuff that we’re immersed in every day. I guess the question, then, is where – and the perfect place would definitely be characterised by blue water, hot sun and a cool breeze. No sounds other than the sounds of nature, and nothing to interrupt me in my quiet contemplation of life.

Can I do that for an entire day?

Interview directions:

1 Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2 I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3 You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4 You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5 When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.