Category Archives: Life

Sailing

A little while ago I wrote some fiction regarding a conversation I had with Mr. Death. You can read it here.

It is a work of fiction but, as with many things, it had elements of true life in it – some of my real life experiences. One of the true items in that story is my desire to learn a new language – French (probably) and to learn how to sail.

Recently, we went on holiday. We went to Antigua. It was bloody brilliant. We flew out via Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (the posh class!) That was an eye opener. I’m not sure how PIL managed it. I think she got the geeks at work to hack into Virgin Atlantic and get us an up grade. Or it might have been her using the gazillion air miles we had accumulated over the years. We arrived at Gatwick, checked in and went to the Virgin lounge. We were offered champagne! It was 6am! Of course we accepted – it was free! We had all kinds of nibbles offered. More champagne was consumed. Our flight was announced and, slightly the worse for wear we staggered off and got on the plane. The leg room! Unfuckingbelievable!

We arrived in Antigua after a wonderful flight, being waited on hand and foot, totally refreshed and ready to go.

It was lovely. Smashing sandy beaches. Plentiful bars and restaurants. Pools dotted around. Absolute bliss. I noted a number of small sailing boats. Catamarans. I thought to myself, I can get started here. A problem arose though. We are a family that goes on holiday and we SLOB! We lie in the sun. We eat. We drink and that was the problem. Greg and I crept off to the gym at 6.30 each morning. We got back, we all showered and went for breakfast. By 9am we were sprawled out by the pool. At 10, when the bars opened we were getting a bit hot so we’d go get a drink. The intention was always to get a soft drink, 10am being a bit too early to hit the hard stuff but the bar man would point out;

“It’s midday somewhere man.”

So we had rum as well. And with no concept of portion control, they were heavy on the alcohol. After a hearty lunch I was probably too pissed to go sailing, let alone learn anything so I didn’t go.

As a great believer in not doing things by half, I decided my first experience of learning to sail would not be on board an eight foot dinghy but on a proper 50 foot sailing yacht! And that’s what we did. We chartered a yacht for the day. It was called Jabberwocky and it was owned by Nick and Kaye, who are two of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

We got a cab from the resort to where Jabberwocky was parked at a place called Jolly Harbour. Antigua is full of places with lovely names like that. We set sail. We had a choice. Snorkelling or beach. We’re slobs so we chose beach and we headed off to a place called Deep Bay. It was on our way here that I carried out my first ever sailing task:

I set the genoa!

I have no idea what that is or what I was doing except it involved some hard physical labour and I think I set the sail in front of the mast. I felt inordinately pleased with myself.

We arrived. The anchor was dropped and we took the little RIB to shore. It was just as you would imagine a desert island to be. Warm seas lapping on a soft sandy beach. There were a couple of other people there but it was heavenly. There was a small fort, Fort Barrington, on the hillside. Greg, CJ and I went off for a wander while PIL and Ed sat on the beach and swam in the sea.

The beach at Deep Bay with Jabberwocky in the background

Time for lunch back on Jabberwocky. PIL, Greg and CJ took the RIB back. Ed and I swam back. I decided on back stroke but because I’m useless, without noticing, I started to swim back to shore. The others found this immensely funny. I just got tired!

Jabberwocky at anchor in Deep Bay

Lunch was lovely. Afterwards, we set sail again heading back to Jolly Harbour.

Jabberwocky setting sail back to Jolly Harbour

Once we got out of Deep Bay, I set the genoa again and joy of joy, I took the helm and steered the yacht on it’s way back to its home port.

Me at the helm of Jabberwocky

I was in heaven. It’s a lot harder that it seems and I’m sure my course was more than a bit ziggy zaggy but I was having a great time. The rest of the family were up at the pointy bit at the front and then they started to sing!

Having an absolutely brilliant time.

 

Over the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails I couldn’t make out the words but the tune was just about audible. One of them them was singing “Sailing”, the Rod Stewart song. Despite my surprise at one of my children actually knowing this song, I felt a huge sense of well being and happiness well up inside me. We were having a great time. My family up at the front burst in to laughter and they all started singing. As they did, the wind carried the words to my position at the helm. This is what they sang:

All together now.

We are sinking

We are sinking

To the bottom

Of the sea

Dad was steering

Hit an island

Didn’t see it

Blind old git

 

Hit the island

Of Antigua

How did Daddy

Manage that?

We have sunk now

And we’re swimming

All because our

Dad’s a prat!

Charming!

Despite this, I will learn to sail and soon I will be visiting a local sailing club and begin lessons. I may just stick to smaller dinghies or catamarans but, who knows, I may go onto larger boats. We shall see and I will keep you informed about my progress.

Of course, let’s not forget that I also want to learn a new language but since trying my hand at sailing, that will now be TWO new languages to learn. The reasons why will follow soon.

Have a lovely day.

More Dick soon.

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Memory.

I was at work the other day. It was quite early, probably about 7 am. I heard a bird start to sing. Without looking I thought to myself, “That’s a goldfinch.” I was right. I had remembered its song. My brain then went into overdrive as it scanned its memory banks and told me some associated information. The collective noun for Goldfinches is “a charm”. My brain then informed me that the collective noun for hedgehogs is “an array” and that if you remove all the fleas from a hedgehog it suffers from withdrawal symptoms. From there my brain informed me that the the collective noun for a group of wombats is “a wisdom”. Wombats!!
Then my brain thought:
“How do I know this stuff and yet some mornings I wake up and can’t remember who or where I am!”

More Dick soon

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Ghoulies

Things were getting grim. If this was an amicable divorce then God help those caught up in the confrontational type. To be fair, it wasn’t her fault, it was the bellend she was with now. Somehow or another he had got it into his head that I was concealing assets and he had managed to get an Order freezing all of them until such time as the Courts made a decision. As he was an idiot, he hadn’t realised that everything was in joint names and he had therefore frozen her assets as well. Enough was released each month to cover the utility bills and nothing else. Fortunately, I had PPI and the mortgage was being paid. Food and other necessities were not taken into consideration and the small amount of cash I had was running out fast. Pretty soon I would need to decide who got to eat. Me or the dog? I knew which way that decision would go. I had no idea how they were managing. He had as much chance of getting a job as a brick has of swimming the Atlantic.

The phone rang. Unknown number. Probably someone after payment of something or other. I answered it. A mans voice introduced itself as someone who knew someone I knew. He was aware I might be up for some legit cash in hand work. I confirmed I was. He ran a security company that was providing staff for an international poker game at a venue in London. He was after a night watchman who could keep an eye on the room where the chips and cards were kept. 12 hour shift. £150 a night. 6 nights. He would pay me each day at the end of  my shift. Interested? I would have snatched his hand off if he’d been there but I stayed cool. Yeah. Sounds ok to me. When do I start? Tonight? I have no plans that can’t be changed so I’ll see you at the venue at 7. Thanks. Appreciated.

6 nights at 150? 900 quid. Buys a heap of dog food that’s for sure. I called the mutual friend and thanked him. We chatted for a while. I had enough fuel in the car to drive up so I took the dog for a walk, got my head down for a few hours, showered, fed the dog, gathered some bits together and left.

I arrived in plenty of time. I met up with Bob and met his crew and got shown around. Big venue. Lots of black out curtains draped everywhere and poker was still being played but due to end soon.

By 7.30 the place was empty. Just me and the security blokes who were finishing up. They had a small kitchen and said to just help myself. They eventually left and the place grew quiet. Even the air became still. London traffic murmured in the background. That sound got quieter as the night moved on.

I made myself comfortable. I had something to eat and drink. I got my book out and started to read. I had a small dvd player with me. I thought I’d watch something later. Bob had said it was ok, just to stay awake. That would be easy enough as I hadn’t slept much recently. I walked around a few times just for something to do. As the night progressed towards morning it got quieter and the atmosphere became quite still, the only disturbance to the stillness was me as I strolled around. There were stairs leading up to a mezzanine. I knew that up there was a table, a chair and a computer. Not because I had already gone up but because Bob had told me. He had also said not to use the computer. It was for the players to check their emails. Professional poker players have a lot of games to play all over the World and this was a time of dial up internet and smart phones were still a dream in a geeks head. I decided to go up and have a look. As I walked across the floor towards the table my whole body suddenly became very, very cold like I had walked into a freezer and the chill went into every part of me. Every hair on me stood on end.

Whoa!

I reversed course and went back down the stairs. I sat in my chair. The cold had gone. My hair no longer stood on end.

Dammit. I thought. I am not going back up there. That was spooky. There had been no draught. No conditioned air I had walked through. I more or less stayed put for the rest of the night and certainly didn’t go anywhere near the mezzanine.

The days guys started to arrive. they were a nice bunch. They asked me how things had been during the night. I told them about the mezzanine. One of them began to laugh and told me he had done the graveyard shift the previous night. Despite being told not to, he had gone up stairs and used the computer. While he was doing so, he heard footsteps approaching across the floor. Thinking he had been busted by the boss, he quickly switched off and turned around to face the music. No one there! He was positive that the footsteps had got to within 10 feet of him but there was no one to be seen. Now he tells me!

Bob came in with my payment for the night and I thanked him, left and drove home.

I arrived for my next shift. Everyone went and I was on my own again. This time I sat at the Pit Boss’s table. It was raised so I looked across the playing tables and I could clearly see the door to the room containing the decks of cards and the playing chips. I looked around. My back was to the wall. To my left was a long bar. No drinks out, just an ice bucket sat on top about half way down it’s length. I could see the Thames. To my right were some black out curtains and the stairs up to the mezzanine. Beyond them were several stacks of chairs and beyond that a view out to the road. Once again, it became very still and very quiet. Car headlights occasionally lit up the front of the building but didn’t really intrude. I settled down, opened my book and began to read. I went to the little kitchen area and made a cup of tea. I put a curry into the microwave, nuked it and had my meal. I could still see the door I had to watch. I went back to my seat. I started to read again. Time passed. I glanced at my watch. After midnight. I continued reading. I walked about. I didn’t go anywhere near the mezzanine or the stairs.

I had another cup of tea. I read some more. It was nearly 3am. Not long to go.

CRASH!

I leapt out my chair. My heart was racing. I checked my trousers. What the bloody hell…..? The ice bucket had fallen off the bar. It had sat, quite happily, in the middle of the bar for hours. My heart slowed down and I climbed back into my skin. I went over to the bar. I looked down at the ice bucket lying on the floor. I didn’t pick it up. I looked at the bar. Nothing on it at all now. I returned to my seat. I picked up my book. Began to read. I glanced up from time to time. Nothing moved. It was still. As it grew lighter the security guys arrived. Once again they asked how the night had been. I told them about the ice bucket. They laughed but I could see just a hint of concern in their eyes. Bob arrived. He gave me my money, we thanked each other and I made my way home. When I got home, I took the dog out for a walk. One of the neighbours had taken him out in the evening and had volunteered to take him out each night while I was working. She was a nice old stick. She had made me a lasagne to take to work that night. I showered and got my head down for a few hours.

I arrived for my next shift. The security guys all went but cleaners were still in the building. Poker players must be pretty messy people. After an hour or so, the cleaners left. I locked the doors. I wandered around. I didn’t go up to the mezzanine but I checked the bar. Nothing on it. I sat at the Pit Boss’s chair and gazed out across the floor. The black out curtains were all drawn tonight and I couldn’t see beyond them to where the chairs had been stacked. The light inside was dim but good enough to see everything I wanted to. No light from the traffic outside flashed. It grew quiet and still again. I read. Another book now. Just before midnight I went to the kitchen and nuked the lasagne my neighbour had made for me. I had a cup of tea. I went back to my position looking out over the poker tables. I plugged in my dvd player and watched a movie. I took a walk around. I went to the front of the building and looked out onto the deserted street.  I started to walk back to my chair. I walked past the stacked chairs. I parted the curtains and walked through. I headed towards the playing tables. I felt the change in air pressure behind me rather than heard anything. I turned. The bottom edge of one of the curtains was about three feet off the ground and steadily rising. I was probably ten feet away. I couldn’t see anyone lifting the curtain. It continued rising until it was about head height and it stopped for a second or two and suddenly dropped down to ground level again. I didn’t move. Maybe thirty seconds later the bottom edge of a curtain further down began to rise. It got to about head height, paused briefly and dropped back down to the floor. Something else was taking a wander round. It didn’t take two to check the building so I decided to return to my seat, park, read my book and try not to think too hard about what had just happened. This was no set up by the security guys. I was close enough to see that there hadn’t been any cords lifting that curtain but someone or something had. It was difficult to continue reading. My head kept coming up and looking around. I made another cup of tea. I walked around again but the only disturbance to the stillness was me. It started to get light. The security detail began to drift in. I told them about the curtains. They smiled and cracked jokes again. Bob came in. We chatted for a couple of minutes. I got paid and I made my way home. I got home, showered again. glanced in the mirror. Was my hair greyer than before? Looked like it. I walked the dog. Got my stuff together. Margaret had made me a shepherds pie. She was such an angel. I slept.

I arrived in plenty of time again. I wondered what tonight would bring. Poker was still being played. I wandered about. I watched people playing cards. Not the most exciting of spectator sports that’s for damned sure. Finally, the card playing stopped. There had been a moment of drama when one of the players got knocked out. He went a bit dinky dau and started shouting and waving his arms around. Security stepped in and got him away from the table and quietened him down. I was impressed. They had moved him away with the minimum of fuss. They were almost ghost-like. They appeared, they moved, they were gone again.

Cool.

The players and audience departed. The cleaners moved in. Security were laid back and lax now. They said their goodbyes and left. I set up at the Pit Boss’s table again. I moved amongst the cleaners. We chatted. After a couple of hours they had finished and left. Moved onto the next job. Working through the night. Unnoticed. Earning an honest dollar. My kind of people.

I sat. New book. New dvd for later. I went and made a cup of tea. Sat. Chilled. Watched the room with the cards and the chips. Wondered what the night held. Nothing on the bar. No way was I going onto the mezzanine. The curtains hung down to the floor. The chairs were stacked beyond them. Outside, the City of London streets buzzed with late evening traffic. Headlights shone. Speed cameras flashed. A cop car sped past with blue lights spinning. I walked to the other end of the building and looked out over the Thames towards the South Bank. Just in sight to my left was Tower Bridge. I could see see the walls of the Tower of London. The lights out there made it all look unbelievably beautiful.

I spent some time there gazing out over the river and thinking about how I had ended up in this situation. I felt the depression starting to sweep in so I changed my train of thought. I moved. I walked around. I sat, opened my book and started to read. I glanced up from time to time. It became quieter and very still. Just like every other night I had been there. It got to midnight and I decided it was time to eat. I went to the kitchen and put the shepherds pie that Margaret had made me into the microwave oven. I filled the kettle with fresh water, switched the kettle on and waited for it to boil and then made myself a coffee. I put my meal and my coffee on the table, sat down, began to eat. For some reason I could smell toast. I could see the door to the room with the chips and cards. Behind me the kettle clicked on and started to boil. I froze with a fork full of food half way between the plate and my mouth. I put my fork down on the plate and slowly turned around. I looked at the kettle which had now started to boil.

Who the fuck had switched it on?

Then the toaster next to the kettle spat out two slices of toast.

Toast? I had not put any bread in the toaster and I sure as hell hadn’t started it. The kettle boiled and switched off as it should. I looked at both appliances. I walked over to them. I didn’t rush. I took the toast out of the toaster and binned it. The smell of toasted bread made me quite fancy a couple of slices with strawberry jam but I thought better of it. I returned to my meal. I moved my chair so that I could see out of the door towards the room with the cards and chips inside while at the same time, keep an eye on the kettle and toaster. I finished my meal and it was excellent. I sat with my cup of coffee held in both hands. Not because I was cold but because I liked the feel of the heat through the cup. The kettle clicked on again. I stared at it. I stared at the toaster but that didn’t spit out any more toast. The water in the kettle began to boil and the kettle switched off. I walked over to it. I turned both appliances off at the plug socket and pulled the plugs. I washed up my crockery and utensils, turned out the lights and left, closing the door behind me. I returned to my seat and opened my book. I had concluded that if there really was some kind of spirit in the building, it meant me no harm but I really could do without this.

It started to get lighter outside. Street lights turned off. Traffic increased. Boats moved up and down the Thames. Security arrived and I unlocked the doors and let them in. We chatted. Bob arrived and paid me. We spoke briefly about other work in the near future. Eventually I left and drove home. I walked the dog as soon as I got home. I saw Margaret. Stew and dumplings tonight. I decided to buy her a decent bottle of gin on my way to work tonight. I knew gin and tonic to be her favourite tipple. I showered, prepared my kit and went to catch some zeds.

I strolled into the venue to start my fifth night. I had stopped on my way in to buy Margaret a bottle of special edition Blue Sapphire gin. Not cheap but she had been so kind it was worth it.

They were down to the last twenty players. These were the guys that would actually win prize money. All the others walked away with nothing. So it was tense. They played for another hour. 16 players were left in the tournament. Things were cleared away. The chips and cards were escorted by security to the safe room. The cleaners arrived. Everyone else went. The cleaners cleaned. I walked around and set myself up at the Pit Boss’s table again. Finally, I was left alone. Once again I wondered what the night would bring. Would anything happen? Would I actually see anything? I walked all over the ground floor. I didn’t go up onto the mezzanine. I made sure the doors were locked. I sat down in my chair and started to read. I went and made a cup of coffee. I sat back down. I read more. I needed to take a leak so I wandered off to the mens toilets. I started to do what I was in there for. I looked at the stainless steel pipe that ran down from the cistern to the bowl. I saw my refelection. It was like looking at myself in the back of a spoon. I pulled faces at myself in the reflection. My heart stopped as a tremendous fart resonated around the toilet.

Then I smiled. No lumps.

As the echoes faded my heart stopped again. In the reflection from the pipe in front of me I saw the toilet paper in the empty cubicle behind me start to unravel. The cubicle door slammed shut. I heard the bolt locking the door. The toilet flushed. I finished doing what I was doing, zipped myself up and walked out. Jesus God. Not even midnight yet. What else tonight? I went and had my meal in the kitchen. I watched the kettle and the toaster while I filled my face. Nothing. They both stayed off until I switched the kettle on and made myself a coffee. Then I unplugged both of them from the wall socket. I took an nearly empty 2 litre bottle of 7Up from the fridge and took it with me back to the Pit Boss’s table. I had decide not to return to the toilet and needed something as a just in case.

As with every other night I had been there, it grew quieter and still as the night moved on towards daylight and the end of my shift. Around 5 o’clock the murmur of traffic started to increase in volume. it got lighter. People walked past outside. Security arrived and I let them in. Bob paid me. We all stood around chatting for a while and then I left. I gave Margaret her gift. She was pleased. She said it was unnecessary but it made me feel better as the help she had given me over not just the last few days but since my wife and children had left had seen me through some dark times. I walked the dog. I prepared for my last night and went to bed.

I showered, dressed, grabbed the stuffed peppers that Margaret had made for  me and left for work.

When I arrived the final six players were still at the table. At stake was a top prize of $750,000. All of the remaining players were going to walk away with a heap of money but they all played not just for the money but the kudos of winning the tournament. Eventually after a couple of hours, four players were left to play for the big prize tomorrow. People started to leave. Cleaners began to do what they do. By 10 the place was empty and I was on my own. I set myself up in my usual position. I placed my book and my dvd player on the table. I put my empty 7Up bottle on the floor. I had decided to avoid the mezzanine again and had included the toilets in my No Go areas. I began my last night by taking a walk around the venue. I looked out over the Thames and looked at the buildings across the river. I strolled over to the other end of the building and looked out over the road. There were only a few cars and vans driving past. No pedestrians to be seen. I walked back to my seat. The stacks of chairs were on my side of the curtains tonight. The curtains were hanging down to the floor. I sat and read. I went and had my meal in the small kitchen. I made a coffee and unplugged the kettle. I sat in the kitchen for a while and allowed my mind to drift. I sighed. A tear rolled down my cheek. I went back to my position. I used the 7Up bottle. I wondered why it was green. I watched a movie. My eyes kept flicking around but the place remained silent and still. The coffee I had been drinking worked its way through me and I used the 7Up bottle again. I stared off into the distance. I gazed at the door to the room containing all the decks of cards and chips. A panel with the switches for the lights was next to the door. I counted the switches. Ten. I turned my gaze away and then looked again. One by one the switches clicked down and the lights came on. Here we go I thought. There was no one there but I had definitely seen the switches go down and there was no mistaking the lights coming on. I sat completely upright. My head turned from side to side. Looking but seeing nothing that shouldn’t be there. Then I heard a screech to my right. I was looking left when it started and my head automatically swivelled and I saw a stack of chairs moving towards the curtains. The stack reached the curtains and went through them. The chairs disappeared behind the curtains. The noise stopped and the lights flicked off again a few seconds later. The building went quiet again. Stillness descended on the building. I remained motionless on my chair.Nothing moved except my eyes which flicked left and right. Nothing moved. After five minutes I reached for the 7Up bottle again. Nearly full. I hoped it would last me until the others arrived. I stayed in my chair. Not reading. Not watching movies. Just looking. Left and right.

It started to get light. Nothing moved. I heard vehicles driving by. Cars arrived outside and parked. The security guys were on site. I stood up, went to the door and let them in. We spoke. I told them what had happened. What I had seen. Or rather, what I hadn’t seen. It was a topic of discussion for a few minutes. Bob arrived. Gave me my payment for the night. He said there would be more work for me if I wanted it next week. Different venue. Same payment method. I said I could do it and he said he would phone me in the next couple of days with details. We thanked each other. I grabbed my stuff and left. As I walked past one of the big plate glass windows, I glanced back in and saw one of the security guys about to take a swig from a 2 litre bottle of 7Up. I knew I had forgotten something.

I went to my car, got in and drove home. Had a cup of tea with Margaret and then took the dog for a walk. Went to the bath room and looked in the mirror. Damn. My hair was definitely greyer now. I showered and undressed. Got into bed and slept.

Have a nice day. Sleep well tonight.

More Dick soon.

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A Meeting

It was the cold that woke me up. For a brief moment I thought that PIL was sharing my bed again and had stolen all the duvet like she used to. Wishful thinking on my part. I rolled over and saw the figure sitting on the sofa by the window. The figure appeared to be tall and slim and was wearing some kind of hooded shroud. I couldn’t see its face. There was a scythe lying across its lap.

“Are you Death?” I asked.

“I am” the figure replied

“Have you come for me?”

“I have”. Came the reply.

“Don’t say much do you mate?”

“Not much to say.” he replied. The voice was definitely male.

I sat up, as I had decided long ago that I would not face death lying down.

“Well, I’d sooner not go just yet if that’s ok with you.”

“Many people say that to me y’know. Not all, but a fair number. It rarely changes anything.”

“It’s just that I still have a great many things to do and see and achieve and being dead won’t help.”

“So what is it that is so important that I cannot take you now?” asked Death.

“There are quite a few things actually. I would really like to see my children grow up, graduate from University, marry and have kids themselves. It would be nice to see my grandchildren.”

“Is that it?”

“I also want to learn to sail and speak French.” I replied

“You mean you don’t want to cure cancer, stop pollution and save the environment?” came the slightly sarcastic reply.

“All fine ambitions” I answered, ” and stopping Mankind’s inhumanity towards Mankind would also be pretty good but I know my limitations. I am a simple man with simple ambitions.”

Death picked up his scythe and put it to one side. I started breathing again. I hadn’t realise I was holding my breathe.

“I have to take a soul. If not yours, then whose?” he said.

“Mate, if you’re saying that if you don’t take me you will take one of my kids or PIL, then take me now. There is no way you are taking any of them. I will fight you with everything I have to stop that happening.”

Death laughed for a second or two then stopped and appeared to be thinking.

“What about the dog? Dogs have souls.” he said after a few seconds.

“That’s not really fair on the dog is it?” I answered. “He’s done nothing wrong, he had an awful start to his life and he’s happy here. He may be as daft as a brush but no, take me if you have to take anyone.”

Death was quiet for a few minutes. I guess he was thinking again. Finally, he spoke again.

“We’ve met before.” he said. That was a bit unexpected.

“Er. I don’t think so bud. I’d remember something like meeting you.”

“No, no, no.” Death exclaimed. “What I mean is that I was taking someone and you were there. You wouldn’t have seen me but I saw you. Three times in fact.”

“Were you there when my parents died?” I asked.

“No.” he said. “That would have been one of my brothers. I have a great many brothers. I was there when your work colleague, Robbie died. The heart attack killed him before he hit the floor so your attempts at CPR were fruitless.”

“Thanks pal. That makes me feel so much better.”

“My pleasure. You really didn’t need to beat yourself up about that but I suppose you weren’t to know. I was also there for the man who got flung out of the car and lost the top of his head. You comforted him while he died.”

“I remember. It seemed to take ages for him to die but he didn’t appear to be in any pain. I was covered in blood and his brains when I finally got up.”

“You’re right. He wasn’t in pain but sometimes these things need to take their course. Did you go and see his wife?”

“I did.” I replied. “I left it a couple of days and then went to see her.”

“Why did you go?”

“He asked me to tell his wife that he loved her and that he was sorry. Seemed to me to be the least I could do. It wasn’t the best time of my life that’s for sure but if you can’t grant a dying mans wish, then what does that make you?”

“I see.” said Death.

“When was the third time?”

“I was there to take your friend when he got trapped in his canoe and drowned.”

“Jean-Claude?”

“Yes. You and your friend tried to pull him out. You did a very dangerous thing. I nearly came away with three that time. So why did you and Omar place yourself in so much danger? Was it because he was a friend?”

“Jean-Claude was a very good friend. We only really saw him at races, but no, we would have done the same thing irrespective of who it was. It’s a dangerous sport and if someone is in the shit, you help. Omar and I always took that attitude and we hoped that if we were ever in trouble, someone would help us.”

Death stood up and picked up his scythe.

“Oh shit.” I thought. “Play for time.”

“Tell me something Death. Why do you wear that shroudy hoodie thing? Doesn’t it freak out the people you’ve come for? It’s freaking me out!”

“You’re right. It does and we recently tried wearing suits. Some of my brothers wore Armani. Others wore Boss. I went the Tom Ford route. I preferred the cut. Unfortunately, it confused the dying. They see a smiling face in an expensive suit and they think the Worlds greatest medic has arrived to save them.”

“Surely the scythe gives it away?” I asked.

“People see what they want to see. Besides, it was costing the Boss a fortune in dry cleaning bills. So we wear these. Easy to keep clean. Chuck ’em in the machine on a cool wash and ‘Hey Presto’. I’m going now. You have persuaded me to leave you until another time. Next time we meet, and it will be me, you will be coming with me.”

“Thank you. I hope I don’t see you anytime soon.” I said.

“I don’t know when it will be but I really do hope you learn to sail and speak French.”

I woke up at 7am as usual and staggered downstairs as usual. CJ was in the living room.

“Good morning sweetness”, I said. “Boy, did I have a weird dream last night.”

“Ewwww Dad. I really don’t want to know.”

“What?”

“I’ve heard about THOSE dreams boys have.”

“What?” I said again.

” Yes. You dream about naked women and make a mess on the bed sheets.”

“What? What? It wasn’t that kind of dream. Where did you find out about this stuff anyway?”

“School. Sex education. Boys are disgusting.”

“Jesus girl. I really don’t want to be having this conversation. I haven’t had a cup of tea yet.”

“Well, you started it.”

“What? Ok, whatever. Where’s Mum?”

“She went to see Richard. Y’know, he lives round the corner.”

“I know where he lives sweetness. I take it she’s gone to wish him ‘Good luck’ in the marathon he and his wife are running in today?”

“No, Richards wife..”

“Elizabeth.”

“Yes. Elizabeth. She died suddenly in her sleep last night.”

 

More Dick soon.

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I Remember. Revisited.

I never planned to do this. Then again, I never planned to write on this subject in the first place. My original thoughts were to relay how I was feeling by way of a whole series of music videos that mean a lot to me and effectively described how I felt. Then I discovered that the choice open to me was never-ending. There were so many songs that I could have chosen. Mostly they were particular songs that acted as triggers for my dark periods and I usually tried to avoid them. Then Adele came along and said “Hello”! Another one to add to the list. I also thought that it would be fairly pointless as most people wouldn’t know what I was on about. Plus, of course, it’s hardly writing is it? So I decided to grow a pair and go all out and tell the World how I was feeling and how I had felt for the last 15 years.harden up

So I did.

It was a painful experience for me and in Part 4 I said how the pain has never gone away and that my love for PIL had never wavered. I also said that writing about this ongoing episode in my life hadn’t helped one jot. I think I may have been a bit premature with that particular conclusion. Being premature is something I’m good at! The anguish and pain are still there. The love I feel for PIL hasn’t altered but since writing about my experiences and how I feel, the dark periods in my life seem to have diminished. Bearing in mind that my dark times were a regular occurrence that could descend upon me at any time, sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes for days on end and sometimes for no discernible reason, since writing about them I can honestly say that I have not had one really, really bad time since getting over the emotional trauma of writing about them in the first place. The triggers are still there; the songs on the radio, a couple holding hands, seeing her and all the other little things that could set me off still do but not always and nowhere near as badly as they used to.15-Quotes-For-Couples-In-Love-5439-11

I realised this recently when a particular song came on the radio and instead of turning it off, I sang along. It made me think. The prompt to write this particular post came earlier this evening.

When we were an item, we would often sit and watch RomComs on TV or DVD. We would sprawl out on the sofa with a bottle of wine (or two) and watch movies. For some reason, I seem to remember we always ended up naked by the end!lovers2

We probably watched them all. Movies like 4 Weddings and a Funeral, You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill, Wall-E and my personal favourite; As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.As_Good_As_It_Gets-782033107-large

I’ve not watched any of them for donkeys for fear of how I would feel afterwards but tonight I sat and watched As Good As It Gets and do you know what? For the first time in years I sat and watched that movie and enjoyed it for what it actually is: a movie that tells a great story and didn’t find myself tied in knots with my emotions running riot.

So, perhaps writing about this kind of stuff and opening up really is a good idea.

Have a great evening.

More Dick soon.auto

The Day I Lost My Hat.

I have this slightly bonkers theory that Western Civilisation starting going down the toilet when men stopped wearing hats. Not baseball caps and such like but proper “Foyle’s War” type trilbys and fedoras.

foyles war2

A long time ago, I had the most fantastic fedora. It was such a dark grey that it looked almost black. It was beautiful. I loved that hat. It was a Christmas present from my girlfriend at the time. Lynn. Smashing girl. I remember one evening we were in her flat in Vauxhall when I suggested that we should go and watch the sun come up. She sighed one of those sighs that women sigh when you suggest something they consider so romantic you just know you’re going to get laid! Anyway, we jumped into my MGB GT sports car

1973-mgb-gt_0

and drove to Ramsgate on the Kent coast which was the most easterly point I could think of, bearing in mind that my thought processes were under the complete control of my penis at the time! We arrived in Ramsgate in the early hours, just before dawn. We parked up on the sea front and saw absolutely nothing. It was foggy and we couldn’t see a bloody thing! Still, it was the thought that counts and we had a lovely time although I do still have a bad back. A MGB GT is not a large car. Unfortunately we broke up soon after but I kept the hat.

Back to the hat.

I wore that hat a lot. I wore it to work. I wore it nearly every day and every night. I cared for it.  I may have slept with it on from time to time. I certainly bonked a girl or two while I was wearing it. It was the smartest piece of clothing I owned. My default dress code is called “scruffy”. Still is to this day. If I was to wear an expensive Hugo Boss suit I wouldn’t look like Gerard Butler.

gerard-butler-hugo-boss-main

More like his Irish mate, Sac O’Shit. Within half an hour of donning any smart clothing I would look like I’d been in several brawls. My hat though just looked the dogs danglies all the time. At weekends I would don my 501s, my Rolling Stones tee shirt (or the Led Zep one or the Frank Zappa one cos he had a moustache just like mine), put the coolest ever black leather jacket on, put my hat on my head and I thought I looked the bollocks. Probably most people on the planet thought I looked like a right whelk but I didn’t care. I was wearing my hat! Girls loved it. I would approach a young lady at whatever club I was in, doff my hat to them and say,

“May I have this dance?”

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or

“Can I buy you a drink?”

Couple of friends having a round of drinks

or

“Fancy a shag?”12222107-censored-stamp

Worked every time.You know what they say; ‘You need a head to wear a hat’ or something like that.

One day I went to visit my brother. I put my hat upon my head and left my place to go to his. (I was wearing other clothes!) My brother lived in Brixton which is in South West London. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Brixton was a very expensive area in the suburbs. The houses were huge. The first road in London to get electricity was in Brixton and it was renamed Electric Avenue and that’s where my brother lived. Eddy Whatshisface wrote a song about it. As time went on though, Brixton started to fall on hard times, the houses were split up into flats and the whole area became a bit shabby. A lot of Irish families moved there and during the 1960s and 70s, a large proportion of the population were from the West Indies. My brother loved living there and I admit I loved to visit. It was always alive, the market was great, the pubs were brilliant and we had a good time whenever I visited.  The hostility between the police and the local population didn’t really register with us although the presence of large numbers of police officers was always a topic of conversation. On this particular visit, unknown to both of us, the SPG (Special Patrol Group) were present and Operation Swamp was in full swing with the police stopping a multitude of young people, mainly black, under the “Sus” laws. The atmosphere was tense and you could feel it so we decided to go back to my brothers flat which he shared with 2 Irish lads. Shortly after we returned, we noticed black smoke rising from nearby Railton Road known as “The Front Line” to the locals. Rioting had broken out and the rioters had set fire to a pub.

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Police arrived in my brothers road and all the shops shut, the street market closed and the whole road very quickly became deserted. All four of us were hanging out the windows of the top floor flat trying to see what was going on when, quite suddenly, a mass of people appeared around the corner like a huge tidal wave. They filled the road completely. There were thousands of them. The jewellers across the road had pulled their shutters down over the windows but within 15 seconds the rioters were in and looting the place. Every shop was broken into and looted. We looked on in total amazement.riot

Just down the road was a Curry’s electrical store. The rioters went through the plate-glass windows and stripped the place bare. Some of them hid their loot under the market rubbish but someone set fire to it. Others took their stuff to what appeared to be a wedding reception a bit further down the road. The newly weds had more fridges, freezers, washing machines and microwaves than they could shake a stick at. We heard people coming up the stairs so we went out into the hall to see what was going.

“We’re taking stuff up to the roof.” they said. This “stuff” was a bloody great washing machine and a fridge.

“No you’re not.” said my brother.

“Oh yes we are.” they replied.

“Not happening mate.” I said

Then they looked again and saw four burly blokes blocking their way. My brother and his flat mates played rugby and were built like outhouses. I’d been a canoeist for donkeys years and had very broad shoulders and a narrow waist. (Sadly, these have now swapped places). So they struggled back down stairs again and shortly afterwards one of them came back with an Easter egg for each of us. How nice!on-this-day-brixton-riots-136397487029803901-150410143414

We went back to watching the scenes below us. Gradually, the crowd moved away and the road was deserted again. Devastated but deserted. We saw an old guy on a moped riding past and picking up pieces of jewellery discarded by the mob. Then, in a scene that could have been from Shaun of the Dead we saw a guy walking down the road. He was looking around in total amazement. I think he lived nearby and after a heavy session the previous night had just woken up and gone out to the shops to be met with the most incredible scenes of destruction. His mouth was wide open and he was looking around trying to compute what on earth had happened and what had he missed. He stepped into the now empty Curry’s store and with unbelievable speed a police meat wagon screeched up, four huge coppers jumped out, grabbed the guy, threw (and I mean THREW) him in the back of the meat wagon and screeched off again. Been and Gone in 60 Seconds!Brixton-Riots-In-London-I-015

It started getting dark. From the roof we could see little groups of people sitting on all the roof tops with their loot, waiting for the whole thing to ease off so they could take it home or sell it. There were more people in the road again and as we hung out the windows, my hat fell from my head and floated ever so gently to the ground below. Some random bloke picked it up. I shouted out to him;

“Thanks mate. That’s my hat. I’ll be straight down to get it.”

Whereupon he stuck MY hat on HIS head and called out;

“Cheers mate.”

and he walked off!

 

With my hat!

 

On his head.

 

What an absolute bastard!

 

I have been traumatised ever since. I never got a replacement. It just wouldn’t be the same. I miss my hat and I often wonder what happened to it. I guess I’ll never know. I do hope though that the bastard who took it suffered a terrible fate. How could anyone take another mans hat?

Have an amazing week.

More Dick soon.

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The M25

Also known as The London Orbital Motorway because it very nearly completely surrounds London. It doesn’t quite because the section over the River Thames at Dartford is an “A” road so that traffic forbidden from using motorways like horse drawn carriages, mopeds under 50cc, cyclists, tractors and ride on lawn mowers can cross the Thames here. I’m looking forward to seeing a ride on mower chugging along crossing the QEII bridge!

m25map

 

When it’s good it’s very, very good but when it’s bad it’s an absolute bastard! Chris Rea is supposed to have written ‘The Road to Hell’ while stuck in a jam on the M25. Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere’ is also very apt as the whole of the M25s 117 miles doesn’t actually go anywhere except round and round which is why it’s often referred to as the Worlds longest car park. I use it a lot and I need to have a bit of a rant.

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Most of the M25 is now 4 or more lanes in each direction but not all of it. So as an “experiment” some bright spark

 

Homer-Simpson-insert-brain-here

 

decided to increase the number of lanes from 3 to 4 in two seperate sections by converting the hard shoulder to a live traffic lane. I travel along the northern section of this experiment on a regular basis. There are little lay-byes every couple of miles for broken down vehicles. I find it amazing that the Highways Agency who are responsible for roads in the UK actually knows EXACTLY where vehicles will breakdown, get a flat tyre or crash into each other so they can take refuge in the Refuge that just happens to be where they have broken down, had a crash or got a flat tyre. A load of bollocks. What actually happens is that the broken down vehicle is left stranded in the middle of the motorway with cars passing at high speed or lorries carrying 40 tons of cargo bearing down on them. (The speed limit in the UK is 70mph but no one goes that slow except trucks and ride on mowers, everyone else is doing at least 80 mph. Except me of course). So the Highways Agency put speed limit signs up saying “40mph”. “Stranded vehicle” and “Queue ahead” which everyone ignores because the Highways Agency forget to turn them off again after the “Stranded vehicle” has been removed, so 7 times out of 10 there’s nothing there. Eventually, drivers come across the obstruction and are forced to stop. A four lane traffic jam forms and quickly lengthens. The emergency services arrive at the end of a 10 mile tailback totally unable to reach the incident because some twit thought it would be a good idea to turn the hard shoulder, which is used by broken down vehicles as a refuge and by the emergency services to get to an incident, into a live traffic lane. It then takes 4 hours to clear a car with a flat tyre.

M25-traffic

Last year a truck caught fire. Not a major problem usually but he had no hard shoulder to pull into. The fire spread along the lorry. Traffic built up behind it and at the end of that queue were half a dozen fire engines that were going nowhere. So. More fire engines were despatched from the other direction. By the time they arrived past all the rubber neckers, the lorry was completely engulfed in flames, the sides of the trucks trailer had collapsed and 40 tons of cargo, which was also on fire had fallen out and covered the rest of the carriageway. The tarmac melted and absolute chaos reigned

lorry 3 @brocky74

In February, a lorry broke down and the tailback created was 12 miles long! How do I know this? I know this because it happened during the evening rush hour and Thank God, I was travelling in the opposite direction on my way home.

m25 jam

This is a photo of the traffic jam that I refer to.

One lorry, yes ONE lorry, breaks down and the motorway system around London grinds to a halt. All because some 45 year old idiot

p03crycs

who probably still lives with his mum and dad, wears a cardigan his mum knitted for him, masturbates a lot, can’t drive and travels everywhere by train thought it would be a good idea not to have what is effectively an emergency lane on one of the busiest motorways in Europe.

 

Cost to the UK? Probably billions in lost time and spoiled goods and an adverse effect on my blood pressure.

I have a message for this person:

My hat is more intelligent than you buster.

 

NOW

Fuck_Off_and_DIE_by_edsplace

Rant over. Have a great evening by avoiding the M25

More Dick soon.

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I Remember. Part 4.

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I remember that when I took the decision to buy a house so that she and our children had somewhere to live where they would feel and be safe, quite a few people I knew thought I was nuts. Their attitude was “She made her bed. Now she has to lie in it.” Their attitude was reinforced by the knowledge that I would be taking on even more responsibility as I am not CJs biological father.  He had taken the decision not to bother. I accepted that responsibility quite happily and consider CJ to be my daughter. She considers me to be her Daddy.

I remember that for me, it was a simple solution. Some people have said that I did a remarkable thing but I don’t. I saw it as something that needed to be done. She had stopped loving me but I had not stopped loving her. Emotions are not something to just turn on and off as required.lovenoteObviously, there was an up side for me here too. If she was happy for me to stay there then i would see so much more of her and our children. She was happy for me to stay. So I did.

lovenotes

 

I remember we moved into our new home. We each had our own room. I admit to taking the largest as mine but felt that there may well be times when I needed to be apart from them to give them space if they needed it. It rarely has. Mostly, it’s been me that needed a bit of space! There have been many times when it’s been a struggle not just emotionally but financially and socially as well but we have all just got on and done what needed to be done. There are times when I wonder to myself if it would have been better if I had just let her deal with all the crap on her own because she would have got through it all I’m sure but I don’t regret it one iota. We work well together.  We’re like Forrest and Jenni. We are like peas and carrots.

There are many times when I do still get very depressed because we’re not a couple. Sometimes I see a couple walking along holding hands and every now and again that will set me off just because we don’t hold hands and I’d love to do that.

Holding-Hands5

I’d love love to caress her face and her hair.  I would love for her to want to do that to me. It’s not to be and I pick myself up again, dust myself down and continue with my life.

fall7times

At the moment I think the count stands at 347.  I now live by this little 6 word motto. Whatever crap comes my way and knocks me down, I will always but always get up again. My life ain’t so bad!

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who responded to my previous three posts on this subject. The response was really overwhelming. To my friends who know who I am who contacted me to make sure I was ok, especially Bunsen and Princess Natalie, rest assured that after 15 years I know how to cope with and deal with my dark moments. To my interweb friends, Lily Moose, Monkey Boy and Tessa, thank you for your words of encouragement. It was a very difficult topic to write about and your encouragement helped me to get through it.

Am I better person for my experiences? I have no idea. I don’t know what I would be like if they hadn’t happened. My sister tells me I am a good man and that’s good enough for me.

Do I feel better for having written about this subject and got it off my chest? No. Writing this stirred up all kinds of memories, both good and bad. There was stuff I discovered so deeply buried that I had forgotten it was there until I started poking around in my memory. It’s probably not something I would do again as it hurts. As for those who say “Time heals”, I can assure you it doesn’t. For me, and I imagine for others who have suffered in the same way, the pain never goes away. As time goes on it becomes background noise as you grow used to it but it never goes. It may not be as raw but it’s there.

cat drawing

On that note, the family is due home soon. I’m looking forward to seeing them and I think I need to start thinking about burning some food for dinner. Take care.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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I Remember. Part 3

 

us now

…..But now there’s wrinkles around my baby’s eyes

And she cries herself to sleep at night

When I come home the house is dark

She sighs “Baby did you make it all right?”

She sits on the porch of her daddy’s house

But all her pretty dreams are torn

She stares off alone into the night

With the eyes of one who hates for just being born

For all the shut-down strangers and hot-rod angels

Rumbling through this promised land

Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea

And wash these sins off our hands……..

Racing in the Street from the album Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Bruce Springsteen. 1978

I remember the woman I love was frightened and scared. Our children who lived with her picked up on this and after seeing what their Mums new partner was capable of they were scared too. They lived their lives in one bedroom of their rented house and pretended not to be in. Just in case he came again. He seemed to think that because she rented, he had every right to come and go as he pleased.

I remember thinking “This won’t do.” I couldn’t be there all the time. So I decided that the only way to deal with this was to buy a house where they could live and where I could live to. I did that and they moved in. He turned up one day when I was in. I answered the door and told him to go and he left, never to be seen by me again.

I remember that she and I talked about this slightly odd situation. Our neighbours think we’re man and wife and it makes it easier that way.

I remember that I told her she was safe now and that as long as she wanted, she and our children could stay. I would never make a move on her no matter how tempted I might be. And boy, have I been tempted.

yourhandinmine

I remember that we’ve been here for over a decade now. The woman and children that I love so very much are here and safe. I get to see them all a lot. To see them and to talk to them and sometimes to hug them all. I wish them ‘Good night’ and say ‘Good morning’ and ‘Have a great day’. We celebrate Christmas and birthdays together. I watched my children grow up. Am I happy? I’m happier than I would have been. It isn’t perfect but it’s what I have and that will have to do. After all, who knows what tomorrow might bring? We both get on together. I think she sometimes thinks in her head that I’m an idiot but I know in her heart she cares a lot and perhaps what’s in her heart is love.

More Dick soon.

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A Change of Pace

PIL often leaves me a list of things to do when I’m at home. Today I made up my own. I have a ton to do but this is a good start.

badass day

Now please excuse me. I have a badass day to get started on. But first, where’s that coffee?

coffee!!!

Now that’s a coffee!

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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