Tuesday, 12 September 2017

I Shall Try Again.

I started my last post with a little update. Describing why I blog. I then got sidetracked and went  completely off topic and discussed the toilet arrangements on small boats. So now I will endeavour to stick to the subject.
    I've decided not to try too hard to understand what and why I do/don't do stuff. At my age there isn't time. It feels a little like looking over your shoulder and there by possibly missing what's ahead. I'll just try and be better at it. Whatever it is. Full stop.
    I did notice the other day however.  How what I wear changes who I am slightly. My last pair of work dungarees where pretty threadbare so I retired them and didn't get round to replacing them till now. I also picked up a new pair of work boots roundabout the same time. The first hint of something different occurred when I got home one evening. Boots off, dungarees off, tee shirt, socks etc shower and change of clothes. Picked up discarded work clothes hung them up, added clean tee, socks and shreddies ready for the next day and it dawned on me. That I was now, "not working" but "home and relaxing" and not thinking of work. Next morning I got up, pulled on the dungarees and boots and felt a slight sense of haste to get on to work and make a start. I don't know why it had never occurred to me before. After all. Actors are always going on about how they get into character only when they put the costume on. Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker all know the benefits of a change of outfit. Without their bits of spandex, villains would get away with murder! Sometimes it's all so obvious
  The boots are on and it's time for work and I'm off to clear the mean streets of Margate of leaking taps and blocked toilets.

 Onwards, upwards and careering towards fulfilment :)))

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Why do I do what I do. Or, more to the point. Why don't I do what I should do!

   The whole idea of keeping a secret diary, was to allow me to chart my ups and downs after the event and hopefully make some sense of it all. Which on the whole it has. Nothing really auspicious or fortunately, devastating, just little insights into my personalty. It's a bit like the moment you realise you roughly know approximately where the letters are on the keyboard without looking. So no posts for the last four months. Whilst it gave you a break from my tedium it isn't going to be of any help to me. It wouldn't be so bad if nothing  much had happened in between posts but it always does. But hey, I won't dwell on it (when did I stop doing that?) Lets get on
   Lots has happened since my last diary entry. Sailing in Corfu was enormous fun and I did draw and splodge a little. Living on a boat however isn't. Being over six foot means you either walk with a constant stoop or risk banging your head. Both of which I achieved but not in that order. Beds on small yachts resemble coffins which you roll out of. Portholes are never where you want them so it's a trip up on deck to see daylight or moonlight if you come over all "isn't life wonderful" or have drunk too much red wine. In my case the later usually leads to the former. Moonlight twinkling on water and highlighting the landscape is rather special though and well worth drinking a little too much just to enjoy. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Sam, the son of one of my customers and Jo, his girlfriend were my hosts for the five days. They sail people around the Greek islands for a living, in a rather large posh yacht. For the days I was there we used their smaller yacht (and home). After "stowing my kit" (yes the nautical language started straight away) in my bunk (imagine a space not much bigger than a coffin with the sound of lapping water outside)I was given a brief tour.Gallery, their bunk (bigger than mine, but not much, at the pointy end of the boat) and then the bathroom. The bathroom was much the same size as my "bunk" but vertical instead of horizontal. So you s**t, shower and shave almost on the same spot.The whole toilet thing deserves a chapter or two all of its own. So here goes.
  There's a lot of water pumping involved. First you pump in (5 times) filling the loo then flick the switch on top, so it's in pump out mode. It's not too difficult but its a little noisy Add to that, your bodies own propensity to join in with it's own additional sounds and all in a very confined space and alarm bells are going off in your head. Once you've done it's time to pump out (5 times or more if needed?) and you need to remember to flick the switch back, ready for the next visitor. Sam explains this in a way a bomb disposal expert would describe how to defuse a bomb. I'm guessing the results are much the same if you get either wrong. So even before you've set sail and have used the coffin toilet, you're planning on visiting any loo you pass when on dry land. Regardless of whether you want to or not. Oh and I forgot to mention the paper. That goes in a small bin next to the loo. As the fish don't like the paper as much as the poo. I kid you not! If you get to sit and steer at the back of Sam & Jo's yacht, as I did. You'll notice little silvery blue fish following your every move. "What are they?" you'll ask. "Oh they're the poo fish." They'll reply."They follow you everywhere."
   OK , I've almost finished. Just the finer details now.Timing is very important. If you get up late in the night. You'll have to navigate in the pitch black (I'm still using the right words) from one end of the tiny yacht to the other. Without tripping or banging into what seems like endless amounts of deliberate bruising table or bench ends and toe stubbing legs. Once safely locked into the closet (So that's where the name comes from) with your shorts round your ankles you suddenly realise your bare bum is about a foot away from Captain Sam's sleeping (I so hope and pray) head with only a sheet of plywood keeping you apart. No, night time isn't the best time. The best time is with everybody else on deck. Keeping busy,  pulling anchors up, looking at charts or steering you somewhere nice. Then you can pump poo and pump again. Safe in the knowledge that no one can hear you. However as you may have guessed. You've just pumped everything out of the side for all to see as it floats by but that's another story.
   I really loved my few days sailing. Waving and smiling at other sailors while you manically tried to out manoeuvre them. Especially if they were sailing under the flag of every Englishman's mortal enemies. Namely the French and Australians. On these occasion I didn't let the ghosts of Drake, Walter Raleigh or Admiral Nelson down. The impromptu swims off the back of the boat or the barbecues and beers at the end of a day's sailing in some picturesque little cove were brilliant fun. I have to say though, that on balance yachting is like caravaning, only for rich people (when you factor in the costs of owning even the smallest one. My next holiday will have a huge soundproof bathroom. A bed I can sit up in, without whacking my head on some important bit of nautical superstructure and I won't be followed by pretty little fishes waiting to dine on, what I dined on the night before. Finally the little picture is of the Albanian coastline taken early morning. Every day you woke up, sailed through or went to sleep with a view like this :)

Onwards and upwards in the pursuit of fulfilment :)))


Sunday, 9 April 2017

A short break will follow.

I'm off to Corfu, Greece for six days tomorrow. I just had to find the air fare and enough small change to buy food and wine. I'll be sleeping on a small yacht and will get a few days sailing. Which I've never done before. Banging my head on various bits of boat and being seasick. Both of which without boasting, I have done before and am rather good at. I shall be packing my little watercolour set, a little book of watercolour paper and my new brushes. I haven't told many people I'm going as they'll be dreading my little watercolour postcard sploge being pushed through their letterbox.Then, because they're friends or family. They'll feel obliged to stick it on the mantle or fridge. I'd rather it be a surprise. No point in upsetting them yet. This time round I might sign it "Spanner 59and a half " and it can compete for space on the fridge door next to the more revered work of their grandchildren.
I saw a balloon sail by yesterday, here in sunny Kent. Luckily for you I didn't have my paints only a camera.

Onwards and upwards in the pursuit of fulfilment :)))

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Two weeks ago.

Coincidentally both Joy and Karen only live a few miles from my daughter Where I've been working or more precisely slaving of late. You see Dads are cheaper than builders and you can moan at them constantly, unlike the builders, who will strut off and won't come back for a few days until you've learned your lesson and buy chocolate biscuits to go with their tea. So after a day of no chocolate covered baked treats to go with my tea and being moaned at , I smartened myself up and headed off to the agreed destination.
I parked, locked the car and had just enough time to sucked the life out of a mint from the pack in my pocket, as I walked up to the local theatre. It has a coffee bar for those not interested in the Arts but instead need somewhere to go if it rains or they're meeting ex lovers after many years have past. 
As I climbed the steps I started to feel nervous. Was this a good idea, would it have been best to just leave things as they were, should I make my escape now? Before I could turn and run there was a, "Hey wait for me." It was Joy. Now what? a hug, handshake or hand over my passport to prove who I was. I managed a feeble "Oh hello, how are you?" "OK thanks" as she swept past. Maybe she's a little nervous too I thought or maybe she's building up for the big public slapping she's going to give me once inside. We join the queue in the coffee bar, I tried to remember the moves I'd been taught in Karate to fend off furious ex girlfriends armed with cafeteria trays. "One tea, one flat white please." We sit down and things are a little frosty. Way back then, before mobile phones and CD's. Yes it's really been that long. Joy could be a little quite and shy, especial with strangers around but I'd temporally forgotten this and was just keeping an eye out for sharp objects within her reach. We awkwardly manoeuvred around the usual.
"Did you have to come far?" "No."
"Was your journey ok?" "Yes."
"Are you sure you don't want cake to go with your tea?" "No, I don't"
Fortunately her sister and Terry arrived before the uneasy silence did. Now Karen takes talking as seriously as Usain Bolt takes the 100 metres and probably has a bigger trophy cabinet. So for the next 45 minutes things moved briskly. She occasionally asks Terry to confirm or share something with us and he usually manages two or three words before Karen finished his sentences. So no change after thirty odd years there then. In fact they hadn't changed, the three of them were almost the same as they were all those years ago. A little older round the eyes and Terry's ponytail was now grey (did he keep that just to make me jealous?) but other than that exactly the same. Karen and Terry left after about an hour. With the usual exchange of "Lets do this again, it was really fun." Terry had accepted he wasn't going to get a word in, so nodded, smiled alot and was probably wondering if Karen would ever be struck down with a severe case of laryngitis at some point in the near future and allow him the luxury to hold court and tell all of his near silent years spent with the lovely but never quite Karen.
Joy and I moved to the bar downstairs. Things were easier now. We both swapped stories. Joy about her various jobs. She had worked in fashion her whole career (if I haven't already said. We met while at Art College(s) and clever thing that she was/is stuck with it, unlike you author) so lots of travel. She updated me on friends back then and how they are doing. Most of them I'm happy to write are doing ok. She had no partner or children so I told her about my dysfunctional marriage and  dysfunctional kids. The weird bunch of jobs I'd had, primarily to pay the bills and keep the little ones in Disney videos. I think that made her feel better.
It was strange, sitting opposite someone who had been the first person I had consciously fallen in love with, who looked almost exactly the same. Had the same mannerisms and same kooky fashion sense. Talking to me as if a few weeks had past and not closer to four decades. Our time was over, I offered her a lift home but kept quite about the mints. She accepted and probably wondered if I had any mints. Driving or being driven is a good place to be when talking about delicate issues. You're close together but not looking at each other. Ones concentrating on driving while the other is trying to work out the odds on whether they'll survive the journey. I apologised to Joy for being such a twat all those years ago and she graciously said maybe she could of worked a little harder at the relationship and we should have talked things though more. Overal though it was a happy time for her. We swap phone numbers and agree to meet up again soon, this time without Karen and Terry. As I'm driving I get a text thanking me for a nice evening and hoping I get home safely. I still think I made the right decision not to mention the mints though.

Onwards and upwards, in pursuit of fulfilment :-)))

Ps we've exchanged a few texts over the last week and plan another tea, flat white and no cake very soon.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Six years ago.

Before I tell you what happened six years ago I need to go back a little further. I've kept in touch with my school friend Sue for years. There have been gaps but outside of my family she's the one person I've know longest. I've known her husband almost as long. Vic is loud and funny. A hard working "working class" boy from North London. He's smart and reasoned and stands up for himself. Something I don't always do and I so admire him for that. Being married to Sue though, means you have to be. She takes no prisoners. About eight or nine years ago Vic admitted he was an alcoholic. He'd spent all their savings betting on horses. Manly because he was drunk at the time and when not sloshed, in a vain bid to recover his losses. Sue phoned me up and gave me a blow by blow account. At the end of the call I asked her was she going to kick him out. There was a pause and then she said, "Don't be so f##king stupid, I love him." To this day it's probably the nicest most powerful way anybody has declared their love for someone that I've ever heard.
Over the coming months I spent some time with Vic and he told me how he was doing, his AA meetings, the characters there and how AA works. One of the steps. Apologising to those close to you, about the hurt you've brought them, stuck with me. I wondered who I would apologise to. Two people came to mind. A boy called Mohinder, who I wasn't very nice to at school and Joy. My first long term girlfriend. We went out for over three years. She loved me and I her, deeply. At one stage it looked as if we'd marry but things didn't work out that way and eventually I ended it. Very cruelly as well. I don't and didn't regret the ending but I've always deeply regretted how horrible I made that ending.  
A little over six years ago I looked her up on Facebook. I didn't contact her. I remember Vic saying that you had to think long and hard who you apologised to. You're not doing it for your benefit but theirs and if it might cause them more pain, hen best move on and leave it alone. Instead I sent a message to her sister. Telling her I hadn't been very nice to Joy and I'd like her to know how sorry I was. How it was one of the biggest regrets of my life and if she felt it right would she share that with Joy. There was no reply. So I concluded, that her sister had decided this was something best left unmentioned.
Three weeks ago, I get a "friends" request from Karen, Joy's sister and a note on how she hadn't seen my message, until she'd used another computer to log onto Facebook. There buried deep amongst the gossip was my unopened mail. She was still with Terry, the boyfriend she'd had all those years (35+) ago and Joy was fine and lived not far from them and not far from the house they'd both grown up in. We swapped messages for about a week when Karen wondered if I'd like to meet up. I said, it felt kind of strange after all these years and I'd only ever intended for my apology to be past on but yes, lets meet. Then another message with the rendezvous and that Terry would like to come, was that ok. Yes sure. The day before we checked with each other that we were still free to meet and "Oh can Joy come too" tagged on the end. I couldn't refuse but now felt very nervous about the whole thing. How was this going to go?
I can't spend all day on here so you're going to have to wait till later......

Onwards and upwards, in the pursuit of fulfilment :)))   

It's been a while!

It's been a while since I've written. Lots has happened but my old laptop finally decided it's days of dealing with my awful spelling and my complete disregard of the basic rules of grammar were enough. It refused to switch on despite my protests and trying to type on the phone or kindle just doesn't work for me.
Luckily a secondhand laptop of the same make and model turned up on eBay. So once again, I can record the mundane musings of an ageing old fart and when my second purchase (a bunch of wires and plugs) arrives. I hope to recover my old photos and paperwork.
I'm giving you advanced warning, the year or so of enforced silence has not led to any improvement in content or writing style. My talents for procrastination and fiscal ineptitude shows no signs of waning. It's bad enough that I have to reread this drivel before pressing the publish button. The knowledge that you are leaves me with a heavy heart. Add me to the long list of things you've managed to quit. Drugs, booze, cigarettes and James Blunt Cd's

Onwards and upwards in the pursuit of fulfilment  :)))