Monthly Archives: October 2006

Chuck in your 10 pence worth…

rummy-confused.jpgI need some advice. I feel that my time in Spain is not going exactly according to plan, and I feel some rather strong swift action is needed. If anyone feels they are in a position to offer a comment, please feel free.

The whole point of me being here is to learn Spanish. However, although I am improving, I feel it is going far too slowly and that I will not be fluent if I continue to improve at this rate, within a year, my deadline. I work 4 days a week in English, pretty much the whole day, and the other three I have free. I am living with people who can speak English. I need to do something to improve quickly, unfortunately, going to parties often does not help, as often I can’t understand anything – too fast. I need patience.

I feel I have several options:
Leave Madrid – there are lots of people who speak English here.
Leave my current flat – same reason.
Spend more on lessons – private conversational lessons to get up to speed.
Take almost my entire allowance of holiday in one go – and spend all the time engrossing myself in Spanish.

I just need to make that jump from knowing the theory and grammar to being quick enough to understand and speak at the same time.

Any suggestions, votes for options, etc. welcome.


Last train to transcendental

Barbed wireSpent the week, nose to the grind trying to write a report about Diabetes. Even traded in my much loved part time days to spend more time in the office, but the report’s still not done, and Monday, the final day of writing, is looking increasingly like the grand final of the Krypton Factor.

Can’t keep my mind on the text. Wanting to evaluate, but the mind keeps spinning off into new directions. Thinking about more than organisational development – the whole vagueries of human behaviour, all mapped out in little bits that I keep catching site of, trying to write it down and see the whole thing come back slightly differently again. Wanting to crack jokes and jump up on tables. Could well be the final swan-song of a consultant gone bad, but trying to remember that I need this job. That a dive into full-time freelance work promises nothing, but improverished scraping around.

On the plus side would like to say that I have written 15,000 words in 5 days. No mean feat and one to show that uni students have it easy. I laugh at their paltry dissertation word counts. Also have been pushing away at the Frankie Wedge website, nearly finished for so many months, but not quite…. Too much busyness and higher priorities had left it sitting on the shelf, but no more. I figured that the best route to instantly cheering myself up was to finish it and will see if that works this weekend. It’s so close to being done my brain hurts and my fingers tingle. Got to stop writing this stuff, take a quick run round the block and then move quickly for the final frontier.

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Positive thinking

This kind of negative posting is getting me down. I feel it’s time for a Mr.Dopemeyer’s Magic Pill. It may just be a placebo, but that makes it one of the strongest drugs out there, universally functioning and very unlikely to lead to overdose or anaphylaxis (if that is indeed how you spell it). When I’m feeling the strange lucidity that occassionally soothes my mind, I often find myself thinking how great it is to be alive. Really, we have very few limits but those we impose upon ourselves and have imposed upon us externally by persuasion. Unfortunately, those limits are often the most limiting, and can lead us to not grab the metaphorical bitch by the tail and swing it about our heads crying: “Dance bitch! Dance!” whilst hooting ecstatically. A shame, I posit. And so I would like you all to think in terms of what this life effectively is to many of us… one big game ending in death. I am not being negative, I am just saying that we all die, and that’s the most amazing thing for levelling the playing field. It’s honest, and fair… and nobody knows if it’s bad or good (even if they think they do).

Don’t dwell on the bad things that happen along the way. More often than not, you’ll forget about them pretty soon and realise that they never mattered anyway. People that are famous are worse off than those who aren’t. People who are amazingly rich, again, are also worse off. If you have some serious hurdles that, as hurdles tend to do, keep hitting you squarely in the shins and causing you to scream with an ungainly, twisted facial expression when you try to leap them, take a step back, give yourself room, and see if they need jumping in the first place, or whether it’s just a matter of perspective and a change in direction.

I am happy. I certainly have hurdles, but I think I know how high they are and have an idea that they are not infinitely wide, and that, at least, is knowing more than I used to. Perhaps one day I will jump, or even, just step around them. I hope you can learn more about your hurdles and realise that they are silly objects that the athletic amongst us strain to jump over, often for no reason at all.

The power of ten, my friends!



Heard a story a couple of nights back, about a kid my mates knew in the 1980s, whose tennis racquet got stolen. Some other guy at his school was a blatant shoe-in for the grab. A kid at the right place at the right time, with a history of theft to his name. They grilled him, but he wouldn’t give it up. Gave him the whole schtick about the police coming up to the school and his parents on his way. No confession. Eventually they just expel the little bastard and then a year or so on he hangs himself. Around about that point some other kid comes forward and says “hey, that was me that stole the racquet”. Suburban madness at its best.

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Message from my sister…

I found this rather amusing, maybe you will too. It seems like rather than an anti-muslim sentiment in this country, we should all be watching out for the religious hoards ganging up on the more secular amongst us.

“I walked out of work today.. so pissed off. Had a christian and a muslim in
the office practically shouting at me because I don’t believe in heaven…
Fucking hell. I’m talking total abuse. Questions like ” So what is the
point of your life?” Every time I get confronted with this crap I go to pieces.
Anyway just so annoying.. if I disrespected their “beliefs” I would be out
on my ear (Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad) However they are allowed to
openly say whatever the fuck they want about what I think. Muther fuckers.
love from Pinster”

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spiral of doomIn response to Kuga Flak – the new house is looking pretty good. Gourmet meals cooked up on state of the art equipment, including a toaster that scans your bread, slowly drags it into it’s nutrinium powered furnace, cooks it for exactly the right time, to make sure it is properly toasted (but with not a hint of burning), and then slowly pushes it back up at you. “Suits you sir.”

I wash my clothes, hang them out on the line. Bring them in dry a few hours later, smelling lemon fresh. I go to bed by half twelve and I rise to a bowl of coco pops, a glass of juice and an apple for the way to work. I had a few weeks off the herbal rice cakes, did some new things and tried to walk a minimum of three miles a day.

But today doom is in my heart. I knew my temporary feeling of optimism was a dangerous thing and announcing it, even for the sake of posterity, was a foolish mistake – I suppose a little like the self congratulatory stupidity described in Bennie’s post. Suffice to say, today I am back to shaking my fist at the sky, staring out at the rain tipping down and wishing I did not know of concepts like ‘pathetic fallacy’. A pox on these skull-monkeys. That’s it, the final straw.

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rabid animalFeel that I spend a lot of time whinging on bolo, so just wanted to say that – This week my heart leapt for joy and has not come down again. I can’t think straight. I can’t do any work. I just want to rant evangelically about how great everything is.

Also wanted to signpost people to my pal’s new blog documenting her soon to be launched epic travelling experience. Inevitably will make me much jealous while perusing the strange encounters of the world outside of Londinium….


pesky varmints!

pickpocket.jpgOne thing the natives are sure to say when you arrive in Madrid: “watch out for pickpockets!” Not a particularly inviting prospect to be strolling around, one hand on your wallet, scanning the crowd for possible undesirables, paranoid, tense… However, they have a point. I’m not one to blanket criticise a population (a very large population at that), but migrants do tend to invite the bad rap on this one. Two experiences now: a group of young girls of an amero-hispanic appearance in the park, and a group of rather scarey looking east europeans. The madrileños do not generally take the sun, even when it’s really nice. The only people in the park sunbathing are… yes… TOURISTS! DUH-DUH-DUUUUUUUUHHHHH!!! The naughty girls tend to stroll along offering newspapers to the unsuspecting loungers, who often have their bags lying down beside them. These newspapers make a surprisingly good shield to protect against a tourist’s eyes from seeing the hand entering their bag and looking for their wallet!

My own recent experience is with my parents who visited last week (they haven’t turned to pickpocketing themselves, by the way). Coming from the airport to my flat by Metro, I spotted a couple of fingers investigating the insides of my father’s pocket like a small rodent investigates a burrow it has happened upon. I watched for a couple of seconds, just out of interest more than anything else, AND THEN TOOK ACTION. I smacked the hand away from my father’s pocket, scowled at the east european and then said something loudly in spanish like “What a thief! You bastard! I should call the police! You should be in a prison! What a bastard!” so that all the passengers could hear me. Then for good measure in english I said “pickpockets… he was trying to pickpocket you” loudly, and I’m sure most people got the picture. We checked for anything missing (nothing was) and they left the train pleading their innocence at the next stop.

They were a team of three. All I now wonder is, what is their story?

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If you ever move to France and learn the lingo and, after a few years of staunch resistance, find yourself saying “Ciao”, don’t worry about it. I’ve tried to fight it, but it just seems inevitable. I just hope I can keep it out of my English vocabulary or I’ll probably end up nailed to a pub wall somewhere in Stoke.

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In a council meeting today and wondered if I had stumbled into some kind of temporal vortex where the laws of normal work and time do not apply.

The group spent half an hour in discussion, trying to work out a new name for a project. Lets pretend it’s currently called Soapy Dish Trumpet. We talked about whether it needed to be called SDT – but that might confuse people that can’t understand acronyms right? We talked about calling it Only Soapy for Some People Brass Trumpet – but that’s far too long right? We talked about calling it Soapy Trumpet and Dishy Brass – but they were both too generic. We talked about calling it Soapy Piccolo – but we could all agree that the project was about trumpets. We even thought about Soap Trumpet – but that was too trendy.

In the end, some bright old spark raised their blue polyester shirted arm to suggest Soapy Dish Trumpet – and everyone liked that name. We took a quick vote and it was decided Soapy Dish Trumpet was the new name. Then they realised it was the name the project already had. Oh well, at least they had consulted. I was happy at least. It meant I didn’t have to do the work involved in changing the name.

Then we talked about some other stuff. The stuff needed a volunteer, but no-one wanted to do it. No one wanted to take on any more work, but it was not clear what they did now. So it was noted on the minutes that a volunteer was needed. Then we set dates for the next meeting – “Not on a Friday” said several people. “I want to get home early”.

All the while, the quiet of the meeting was disrupted by a service user hyperventilating – whether from sickness, or excitement from the proceedings – was not clear. You need service user representation on these thing you see. The poor guy insanely gibbered and offered up inappropriate comments at various points. Everyone smiled politely and said “that’s right Johnny. That’s right”. They wrote down what he said and looked nervously at one another.

‘Yeah’, I thought ‘that’s right’. That’s why I pay so much council tax and no-one takes my rubbish away anymore if it doesn’t fit in the bin. Still, I kept quiet. I was happy at that point to be taking the tax dollars, happily folding down my laptop and heading sharpish for the door.

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The Figure of Eight

A long time ago, a good friend of mine, a man who has long since signed his life over to humility, sandals and celibacy (ticking some of those boxes myself at the moment, but I’ll let you guess which ones), spent the year expounding the principle of the figure of eight. The theory was that unlike as commonly thought and quoted, life does not move in perfect circles. Things will repeat, but its just that they’ll be slightly twisted as you come back round again. Plus of course, when you hit the point where the lines cross – the point of intersection on the figure of eight – you recognise bits of what you already know. Damn I’ve explained this badly, but it’s late and I’ve been staring at the magic rectangle for too long. Arial font burned into the retina…. but I digress again.

The theory of the figure of eight caught on like wild fire amongst our small group of failed seekers and it was not uncommon for one of us to nod or wink mischeviously at another when we felt deja-vu, the TV echoed a conversation we had earlier in the day, or a girl let us down in the same way as last time, to proclaim: “The figure of eight man. The figure of eight.”

I was reminded of this feeling, that sense of synchronicity, this morning on rising to face the street of my childhood. The town that had nurtured me as a youngster, inflamed me as a teenager and offered temporary respite from chemical indulgence in my young adulthood. Here I was again, but in a different house, composed entirely of pastel shades and expensive furniture that I was already worrying about breaking.

The combined forces of economic necessity, disorganisation and disgust with the filth of my old flat had pushed me back round the figure of eight again, and now myself and the Rompost stood back at the nexus, in his dad’s recently vacated suburban mansion, bouncing off the walls and trying to work out which way to go next.

The walk to work brought a host of memories and the sense that we were back in a different social sphere. Suited individuals in well-turned out pinstripe, clutching briefcases on their way to rape the world instead of eastern european malcontents injecting special brew directly into their veins. Well groomed Jewish princesses, pacing in high heeled boots and push up bras, instead of ladies in hijabs lofting boxes of discount crisps from Makro.

Go past the primary school, looks so small now. Swear at some angry Rotarian (thanks Hunter…) trying to run me over at the zebra crossing and smile at a couple of kids throwing bread in the park.

Get to the town, full of SUVs mounting the kerb, their owners struggling to see over the wheel and up to the tube station. Pick out a couple of fitties to glance surreptitiously at and wait ages for the train – not so many on this part of the line. Offend my fellow commuters by insisting on sitting down. After all, there are three seats and I’m not afraid to sit in the middle. Sit there scribbling away in my notebook, left arm jerking away in my notebook and needling the person on my left with my sporadically firing elbow.

Looks of concern all around. What is this weirdo with the loud music, falling down jeans and furrowed brow doing writing with such feverish intensity? Occasional glances to try to decipher this strange scrawl. What am I writing about? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m writing about the figure of eight. Oh yeah, and lose some weight you fat bitch.


Soap opera experience

Well, what better way to start the week than with some bolo-aided cyber-flirting (check out the comments to ‘Moody Face’) and two of my three flatmates at each other’s throats. Being the diplomatic tolerator that I am, I have tried to keep things chilled and at the relevant level (they have escalated from theft of butter) but soon I may just let them go all out, and enjoy the spectacle with my bucket of popcorn. In the blue corner, I give you, Ignacio! A firey spaniard from the bowels of the basque region, normally so chilled out he is horizontal, but prone to boughts of paranoia and anxiety (he blazes like an olympic champion). And in the red corner, we have Sebastien! The most french frenchman I have ever encountered. This man is french, stringent in order, and precise. Like a good Fromage de Chèvre au Miel. As you can imagine, they rub each other up entirely the wrong way, and it has now reached the point where they communicate formal matters by email. Only time will tell what will happen. But I’m keeping my options open, and if necessary will plan for a hasty escape. I will keep bolo informed.

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Koala Kippers

A welcome sight this morning in my junk mail folder on hotmail, among the various kind offers to enlarge my penis (who told them?!!) and show me free beastiality (generosity thy name is porn baron), is a certain newsletter from a certain red-top tabloid’s website devoted to the first inside facing page and consequently named after the number of that page. The power of a pair of pixellated mammaries to cheer me up probably should be worrying. It is not worrying a certain Australian news tycoon however, who is laughing into his koala kippers on toast at poor social inadequates who can’t get a girlfriend that isn’t more than 34kb, and me….

tHat will be all. kEEP doing that thing where the caps lock is out of sync with my sentence and it’s doind my head in

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Moody Face

Not much to say at the current time. Still clean as a whistle and half hating, half loving the intense, angry person that I seem to be at the moment. Wrote this little rubbish poem the other morning about this girl I saw on the tube and I offer it up for your condemnation.

Hey moody face
Hair pulled back
But it can’t smooth that frown
Off your beautiful brow.

Are you angry cos of work?
The trains are late again
Is it the ozone layer?
Or something that means even more?

Jesus Christ, I’m going out of my mind
Looking at your moody face
I wouldn’t make you happier
If I could.


Rules for life 9

#9 Never Congratulate Yourself. When you’re riding a bike in the rain in rush hour traffic and you do something stupid, like jump off a high pavement and land between two lanes of cars, never congratualte yourself. If you do, you’ll invariably end up making a complete tit of yourself or coming a croper from some old cake buying geezer opening the door to his merde infested Uno just in front of you. In fact, just to be on the safe side and because it makes sense, I reckon that Never Congratulate Yourself could be extended to cover life in general. Can you ever remember feeling pleased with yourself and then not being slapped back down very quickly ?