Panic on the streets of Bolton

So we’ve had a bit of a landmark week.  One of those events that everyone seems to remember as an important milestone on our hurtle towards death happened for Emily.  She passed her driving test on Thursday!

Licence to Kill

Believe me, I was delighted and not unemotional when she came home with the news.  Despite the enormous expense, which I won’t mention (rats, I failed) it has been a long old road, pun intended.

The few moments of hugging and jumping around quickly turned to horror as Rebecca suggested that Emily drive them both to McDonalds immediately.  I did agree that it was a good idea to immediately get out and about, but the limitless fear of her being out on the big bad roads, along with my only other spawn was tangible.

I cheerily waved them off, and then watched her all the way via the Find My iPhone app whilst I sat trying to do some work.  They returned soon enough unscathed and full of some sort of mocha frappe thing.  Forget this being a landmark for Emily, this is just something else Louise and I can sit and fret about!

Fear aside I am very proud of her, and to have only incurred three minors (they are allowed fifteen before it becomes a fail) shows the high standard to which she drives.  On our recent trips out before her test it was clear that she knew how to drive, and safely.

That of course does not mean that since passing she hasn’t already had a bit of a close shave with a Mini Cooper, but this is all part of the real learning that we all go through once we’ve passed.  She’ll have a few more I’m sure.

It would appear that our luck was definitely in this week, and I find it only fair to declare that as I bemoan the opposite often enough.  Louise had a hospital appointment, and having parked up, grabbed her coat from the back seat to hold over her head as protection from the persisting rain whilst feeding the parking machine an obscene amount of money.

She did so, went for her appointment and returned to the car.  Whilst getting back into her car, she noticed something shiny in a puddle.  Upon closer inspection she found that the shiny things were in fact her wedding, engagement and eternity rings that had fallen from coat pocket as she held it over her head.

She had put them in her pocket whilst doing something medical at work earlier in the week for which rings are not allowed otherwise you lose them somewhere less pleasant than a puddle.

To have spent an hour away from them, whilst they lay in the rain, and come back to find them there was probably the greatest amount of fortune ever to befall us.  Incredible.

I don’t know if anyone had spotted them, but maybe they just didn’t like the look of Louise’s ring!  Ah, the ring joke.  Welcome back my long-lost friend.

In other good news news on the same day, we also heard that my niece, Sarah, had passed her first year at University.  So Thursday was a good day all round.

The weekend has brought more ridiculous amounts of running around, with my errand count off the scale once again.  Collecting altered prom dresses, taking Rebecca to work, the big shop and all sorts of other nonsense are just a flavour of my itinerary.  When I have had contact with a seat I have taken an interest in Glastonbury.  Even at my advanced age I can usually find something of interest.  I used to be in a band you know!!

Alas, the bits I have caught have been woeful.  Last night was soul-destroying for the future of music as a whole.  I had the misfortune to stumble across Example during his “act”.  My God, I have never heard so many notes not even close to where they should be in one collection of songs.  This guys talent is never beginning.

A really bad example

I then watched the Rolling Stones, more out of curiosity than expectation, as I can’t say I’m a fan.  It affirmed that this decision was correct, and that Charlie Watts could be the worst millionaire musician in the world.

There is a massive amount of Emperor’s new clothes about these old codgers and a multitude of other acts, with the media telling everyone they are great and so it is believed.  I can only hope this brings down the curtain on their elongated and excruciating latter years of their career.  Why they are still felt to be relevant when their last Number One single was before I was born I don’t know.

Next year, I am hoping for a headline slot from Brother Beyond to restore my faith in the music industry.

Till the next time…..

My Kingdom for a Cable.

So how’s my holiday time been?

Not very holiday like to be honest.  I’ve ended up working more than not, and in hindsight should have seen that coming and postponed it till next week, but such is life.

I’ll reclaim some time back in the coming weeks no doubt.

Despite the intrusion of work into most of my days off so far, I did manage to fit in one of my regular games of golf.  I play regularly, once or twice a year without fail, and on Friday my Dad took me up to his club for 18 holes.

As expected for someone who plays as often as I do, it was a mixed bag of good bad and embarrassing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the constant buzz in my pocket of work emails arriving on my phone!

I have tomorrow off too, so I’m without the usual Sunday syndrome of woe, which is nice.

As I mentioned last week, we stumbled across all our old “home movies” from our holidays to Florida.  We’ve been watching them throughout the week with a mix of nostalgia, wonderment at the speed of the passing years and bewilderment at how Louise’s hair reacts to the Floridian climate.

Monica Friends Florida Hair
Louise + Florida

We’ve seen ourselves age, and watched our regular Disney friends again which was lovely.  Be warned Jakki and Margaret, you and your families may well make the final edit.

For this is what Emily is to do with her summer off now that she has finally done her last exam.  Luckily, my brother has a big posh shiny Mac with all the fancy dan editing stuff on it, so we’re “borrowing” that to make something that may be interesting, and a memento of our journey into insolvency.

Luckily, Emily has been using this kit for four years in her studies so I don’t have to learn how to.  So with all the tapes watched, our thoughts turned to getting the footage off the camcorder and onto the Mac so Emily can work her magic.

Of course, the footage is on old style mini DV tapes, and despite both myself and my brother raiding our respective “cable collections” neither of us had the required one.

We’ve tried all sorts of cables, connectors, intermediary devices and a whole lot of googling to come to the conclusion that we need to give Amazon some more money for the only cable in existence that we do not possess.  Amazon would do well to understand this process of exchanging money by the way…still no book funds from the buggers.

Compare this faff to the adverts you see from Microsoft and Apple, where someone records something, and then vaguely waves their camera device in the vicinity of the computer and in about four keystrokes it turns into a film epic that James Cameron would be proud of.  Sequences may have been shortened?  I should cocoa, by about three weeks.

Anyway, once this cable finds it way to our house Emily will be off and running, and can produce her masterpiece.  As she spends most of her free time watching other folks Disney videos on You Tube, she intends to give something back by having her own channel where these shall be posted.

Don’t worry, as soon as there is something to see I shall have you know, several times, until you are sick of heating about it…sorry, more sick of hearing about it.

Speaking of great films, we watched Django Unchained last night.  I know we are late to the game, but we really enjoyed it.  It was superbly made of course, with some great acting, but the thing that really made it stand out to me was that it had a great story.  That may sound obvious, but that isn’t always the case.  An island of quality in a sea of nonsense like Made in Chelsea and TOWIE that infects and invades our TV all too often.

Django poster
Django…with a silent D

I bet Tarantino didn’t have to wait three days for a cable to arrive from Amazon so that he could edit his film though.

Anyway, to save Quentin a job when he buys the rights to my book, this week Jakki kindly provided a cast list for him as we’d been watching us all boogie boarding at Vero.  Feel free to let me know who you’d see playing who too!!

Steve (Jakki’s husband) – Bruce Willis for obvious folically related reasons

Jakki – Halle Berry

Aodhan –  Tom Cruise standing on a very tall box 

Niamh –  Scarlett Johansson as she’s blond and Niamh likes the Avengers

Louise –  Jennifer Lopez as she can sing and act

Emily –  Anne Hathaway as she’s a Disney girl and was in Les Miserables

Rebecca – Kourtney Kardashian as she’s glam and has a boyfriend 

Lastly Jakki claims I need three actors – Dwayne the Rock Johnson / Jason Statham and Simon Pegg.  I would have said more Alan Carr or the bloke who played Reg Holdsworth but there you go.  I am often called “The Rock”.  It sounds like that anyway.

I’d add to that list….

My Dad – Alan Alda

My Mum – Brenda Blethyn

Margaret – Julie Walters

Kathryn – Kirsten Dunst

Michael – Nicholas Hoult

Over to you.

Till the next time……

Inevitable Heartburn and Reality TV Rants

You may think, today being what it is, that I would have been gently awoken with a delicious breakfast in bed, with enough food involved to sink several battle ships.  Had I had waited for such an event I would have been both very hungry and sat in a moist and uncomfortable bed.  At my age, eight hours between peeing is cause for a high-five and a twenty five minute wee.

Instead I had been downstairs for several hours, and undertaken lots of things I’d rather not have done, such as tidying the kitchen, before my beloved daughters actually graced me with their presence.

I did get a text late morning with some sort of Father’s Day wishes and a smiley face, but it was into the PM before they managed to actually get downstairs.  I don’t begrudge them the lie in, as they had got me presents and a card, and I then made them pay me back for the long wait with extensive hugs, complete with my scratchy weekend no shaving chin.

The majority of my presents were, it will not surprise you to know, food based, and I shall lay waste to those this evening.  My favourite sweets (Sports Mixture) and my favourite snack (Bombay Mix) shall ensure that I shall be awake for a week with heartburn but that is a price I’m willing to pay.  After those treats the T shirt they also got me may have to go back for a bigger size!

Sports Mixture
Come to Daddy!

Whilst I had them in the room I took the chance to tell them both how things have to change around the house now they have both finished school/college for the summer.  They are your typical lazy, do the bare minimum teen types so we’ve outlined quite clearly what we expect them to do in between the endless episodes of Friends and Jersey Shore that shall be their companions this summer.

As well as boring household duties, I have also tasked Emily with using her Media and Film Studies learnings to turn the collection of video footage from the past decade of holidays into something watchable.  If she finds the motivation, and the tapes themselves, watch for those coming to a You Tube channel near you soon(ish).

All sweetness and light

So they have their faults, but I’m proud of them and grateful that we’ve managed to produce two healthy, (usually) happy and normal teens.  Things, I’m sure, could be a lot worse, and for parents of a sixteen and seventeen year old we don’t do so bad.  You may need to remind us of that as we berate them yet again for not doing something they should or vice versa.  Overall, I’m sure others have it much worse.

Just tidy the kitchen!

Speaking of which.

Contrast that with the car crash of a family that the girls like to watch on the TV.  Surely, the most damning and woeful indictment on the reality TV, fifteen minutes of fame culture we are subject to.  Well, this weekend these blerts popped out another member of their clan.

Who is this?  The Kardashians.  Normally, I try to let the vacuous nature of these types drift past me.  Things like Big Brother, The Valleys and Jersey Shore are usually just a brief interruption to my Facebook timeline as those watching it pass comment.

However, the girls do like to watch the Kardashian stuff, so I often have to endure their whiny, always go up the end of sentences, IQ devoid nonsense.  These clowns are the ultimate example of being famous for being famous.  The way they are idolised is a worry though.  The “mother” talks about how she manages their “careers” as if she had re-invented the wheel, when in effect she did the abhorrent thing of launching her daughter’s career by devising, probably directing and then promoting her daughter’s sex tape.

Can anyone see her talent?

Am I just moaning because I resent them their money?  Sure, of course.  I am equally as untalented as they are, so why should they be the multi-gazillionaires they are whilst I actually work for a living?

Now, from the PR constructed relationship, they have begat another one of their spawn, and already the cogs will be turning to launch the baby clothes line, the Kardashian nappy, and in about eighteen years, no doubt another tawdry sex tape.  How proud Grandma will be.

When every event in your life is just another line in a script, it must be difficult.  However, the limitless cash, and fawning assistants will prevent them from having to deal with the real world any time soon.

Whenever I rant like this, I trot out the line that I clearly need a holiday, so I’m going to have one next week.  I’m off from Wednesday until the following Tuesday, and I intend to use a lot of that time as an investment in me.  Sleep, relaxing, walking of dogs, and maybe some long overdue exercise will be the order of the day(s), as I try to recover from what has been a very long slog since Christmas.

If that doesn’t work then expect next week’s blog to be a thousand word monologue about Rylan, his new teeth and how being crap at singing has launched a career destined to continue for several months, or at least until the pantomime season finishes….but that’s for next week.

Till the next time….

No Time for Number Twos and Other Stuff.

This week I fully understood my poorness.

For once I am not bemoaning my lack of WDW funds.  In fact this moan is not fiscally related at all.  My poorness is of time.

I know we’re pretty much all the same, but once you take out of the week the stuff like commuting, working, and sleeping I appear to have about eleven minutes spare, and those are spent doing number twos!  As much as that is time well invested, it doesn’t seem right does it?

This weekend, Saturday especially, was a great example of the madness of scheduling that is our life at the moment.  Among dropping cars off for MOTs, taking the girls to work, collecting the car, then the girls, and in between fitting a trip to Bury, the morning was fully spoken for and then some.

I then had to move a dishwasher and fit it, which sounds nice and simple, but as with any DIY task in this house, it involved around ten times the length of time I estimated, it involved three seperate trips to B&Q, some of the finest swearing you could hope to hear, and resulted in my right hand bearing scars that will take weeks to heal.

My Saturday finally started around 6pm when my jobs were finally done.  We then spent all evening watching Disney You Tube videos on the telly, courtesy of Emily.  Kill or cure with these withdrawal symptoms!  They were a mixture of the Phil, Emma and Ben ones and I saw World of Color (sic) at Disneyland for the first time too. This has established a West Coast trip firmly on my future “to do ” list.  Like it wasn’t already!!

World of Color
World of Color…here’s the missing u.

So what to do about the time poorness?  I don’t hate my job, and I haven’t always been able to say that, but I can’t help feeling that it and other things are getting an unfair share of my time allowance.

But what is the remedy?  Stopping work certainly isn’t it.  Sure, I’d have loads of time on my hands, but I really would be in the number Twos in every other sense.  You hear of these families that drop out of the rat race and go to live in a run down cottage in the Dordoigne, with the kids home schooled and the parents making a living recycling doilies.

Their clothes are made of dog spittle and grass, and they live off the land by learning to like the taste of soil.  That’s not for us.  I don’t think we are ever in a chance of winning the rat race, but our place in it is assured until I cop for my multi-million pound lottery win any week now.  Either that, or my book will have become an essential text on the curriculum of every country on the planet, and I sell a couple of gabillion copies.

Speaking of my book, and being frank it has been far too long since I did so, it continues to sell.  This astounds me as once the folk who knew me and knew of me felt obliged to humour me by buying a copy, I expected that to be that.  Surely now these folk making the purchases are “real people”, with all due respect to those who bought it early doors!  You know what I mean.

Book Image
In case you had forgotten what it looks like

This pleases me.  There is also every chance that I might actually receive some money from Amazon this month.  Yes, I know I released the book in March.  Amazon don’t make enormous profits on which to pay no tax by accident!

Once those funds flood (trickle) into my account, I shall officially have been paid for writing something for the first time.  This (in my own sad mind) makes me a writer!! Indulge me please.

It has thrown up one conundrum for the future though.  Should we ever be able to fund another trip to the US, (and it won’t be courtesy of Amazon, I’ll tell you that) what to do with the trip report?  Do I publish it online in the usual places? Do I put it up here on my blog, or do I do an e-book?  I would feel guilty doing the latter, making folk go out of their way to read the thing, but what other material will I ever have for the making of books?  Tis a quandry.

Thankfully, (or not) this is not an imminent problem to solve.  Have I mentioned that we have no trip to announce for this year?  This may well be the first June in over a decade when I am not able to bore you all with the minute details of my ticket purchases and meal itinerary.  How upset you must be.

So I might invent a trip to plan just for the hell of it.  That is half the fun isn’t it?  Or is that just me?  Alternatively, should anyone need a hand with theirs then let me know.  All these WDW related web sites are missing me and my constant summer time research.

Right, I don’t have time for this anymore!

Till the next time…..

Booking a holiday and Unicorn Pubes

I booked a holiday this week.

This turn of events was not greeted with the usual elation and fuss that has been witnessed in previous years.  This is mainly as this holiday booking was just me adding a few days to the holiday planner at work, and vowing to sleep for several days at home, rather than me punching the air as my smoking credit card lay next to an open Kayak website.

It probably won’t turn out to be the restful wonderland that I envisage, as I’ll no doubt be unable to sleep in, and be up checking work emails by 9am each day.  Still, the intention is a good one.

The first week of work for Emily and Rebecca passed without major incident or dismissal, and I have enjoyed the obvious perk of the lovely cakes they have brought home too.  That is one example of bringing your work home that I fully endorse.

I demolished that

Knowing they are now earning, before the first payment was earned they were already in debt, with Emily having purchased about thirty week’s wages worth of concert tickets, namely Paramore and One Direction.

Speaking of thirty week’s wages, we went to the cinema on Friday night to watch The Hangover Part III.  It is always a sense of regret to have demolished my thirty quid’s worth of Ben & Jerrys before the adverts have finished.  Luckily, the Pick n Mix saw me through to the natural conclusion.  This was not the end of the film, just the onset of mild diabetes and nausea.

The film itself was ok.  I know that is far from a Barry Norman review (ask your Dad), but it was enjoyable enough.  I just found it odd that having established such a popular and successful premise that they then abandoned it for the third and final film.

The first two films were based on them waking up wrecked after a crazy night and having to unravel the trail of destruction.  The third doesn’t do that, and I won’t spoil it for those yet to see it, but I think it was worse for not doing so.  Don’t get me wrong, it was enjoyable and funny, just not quite as good as the first two.

That ugly Bradley Cooper

If you do go to see it, you MUST stay for the credits.  The final scene in those credits is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while.  Infantile and lude, but funny.  Just the way I like it.

Speaking of films, last week, my sister-in-law posted on Facebook asking a few of her friends to nominate their Desert Island Discs top five DVDs.  I went for the following (the more astute among you will notice I chose six, but this was an honest mistake) –

  1. Band of Brothers
  2. Star Wars (the full box set of six)
  3. Me, Myself and Irene
  4. A Bridge Too Far
  5. Beauty and the Beast
  6. Anchorman

As with all these things, as soon as other folks start naming theirs you wish you’d thought of that one, but I’m fairly happy to stick with that list to be honest.  Especially as the island I will be stuck on is just off the coast of Florida….about thirty feet off, so I can paddle ashore when the mood takes me.

Have a think and comment with your five (or six if you must).

So another week wanders by, with yet again no lottery win email in my inbox, so on-wards to work I go again next week.    Things could be worse, despite the lack of real holiday or the correct six dropping balls.  I am soldiering on with a stiff upper lip and my chin(s) up, although I would just add that our shower broke today.

This may get missed on the national news and we are coping as best we can.  I shall be establishing a Just Giving page shortly for international donations.

This is required as earlier today Louise took Rebecca to the Trafford Centre to hunt out her prom shoes.  To add insult to bankruptcy, she also picked up a “clutch”.  This is not some sort of medical complaint it turns out, instead a small handbag made from real diamonds and unicorn pubes….it would seem.

Whilst they were out Emily and I went for a drive, and I know I am biased but she was brill.  In fact she drove better than a lot of the idiots and arse wipes she had to take evasive action around.  Just think, if they are both working and earning cash, and Emily can drive, I’m not sure what my function in life might be!

Answers on a postcard.

Till the next time……