Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Like a kid in a sweetshop

It’s been many years since I felt this excited.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Paris to watch England play South Africa in the World Cup and I can hardly contain myself. I’ve already written three lists to make sure I don’t forget anything although quite why it takes that many lists for a three day trip is beyond me. Put it down to what feels like ‘night before Christmas’ excitement.

All of this is exaggerated by the fact that I’m heading to Paris with my best mate. He hasn’t been let off the leash for some months since he recently became a father for the second time. The idea of a two night sojourn to Paris with someone that knows me inside out and which also encompasses a game of rugby is almost too much pleasure.

This is piqued still further by the fact that it’s the Rugby World Cup – an event that takes place just once every four years and which may not return to Europe until 2019 by which time I’ll be too old to care and certainly to old to have two nights on the beers.

Further updates as they happen…

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Weather with you

Having just returned from an extremely relaxing break in Italy, it’s been remarkable totting up the number of texts I had from people moaning about the weather in Blightly. Apparently it hasn’t been all that wonderful.

Now to me, the idea of texting someone on holiday who’s clearly going to be having better weather borders on the masochistic. (In case you’re interested, it was 35+ most of the time). After all, the likely outcome is a text that reads something along the lines of “Sorry to hear it’s still raining. Weather here is amazing and we’re feeling very relaxed. See you soon.”

But it does serve to remind me once again of our obsession with weather. Given the increasing frequency of severe weather occurrences (which I think is the euphemism), I shall look forward to even more texts will I’m out of the country in the future.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Just not on

How difficult can it be to spot a pregnant woman? Granted, in the first three or four months it can be slightly tricky but by around six months it’s pretty obvious. (Although I do recall once asking someone at a Christmas party when she was due to give birth. A sickening silence followed by tears told me that she had attacked the mince pies with too much gusto rather than being pregnant).

Given the obvious nature of someone more than six months pregnant, I wonder if someone can tell me why tube passengers think it OK to notice someone ‘in the family way’ and promptly return to reading their paper? Day after day, it seems to happen and no-one does the decent thing by giving up their seat.

But worse than that was a scene on the tube this morning. A pregnant lady got on at one door and was making for a seat quite close by. Someone else got on via a different door and literally ran for the same seat, all but barging the pregnant person out of the way. In the 25 years or so of using London Transport, I have never witnessed anything like that. What made it worse was that the person who made like an American Footballer was also female!

Now, clearly I have never been pregnant and cannot completely understand the shenanigans that go on inside the body. I do know, however, that it cannot be entirely comfortable carting around four or five pounds of baby plus an additional five or six pounds of ‘other stuff’. Having a seat on a packed and hot tube is the very least you might expect of your fellow human beings.

So next time you see someone pregnant, don’t pretend you haven’t seen them and return to your paper. Imagine what it would be like carrying five bags of sugar around your midriff. And then get off your lazy arse…

Friday, 27 July 2007

Just desserts

Restaurants that have those pre-printed dessert menus with helpful pictures have always puzzled me. You know the ones – hollowed out oranges filled with orange sorbet and ‘raspberry bombes’ that look just a little rude. I mean, who in their right mind would order one of those? It’s not like the restaurant has gone to great lengths to make the dessert. They’ve rung up a food wholesaler and ordered them in large batches and been provided with the same menu that thousands of other restaurants are also handing out when the main courses are cleared away.

And the fact that the menus are laminated to make them easy to wipe clean is also intriguing. After all, there really can’t be many people who actually think ‘yum, I’ll have the Tia Maria ice cream in a Tia Maria look-alike bottle while my friend will have the hollowed out coconut filled with coconut ice cream.’ So given the lack of ordering, you wouldn’t have thought there’d be much call to wipe the menus clean.

Is this a sign of my age? Not really. I’d put it down to being a food snob were it not for the fact that the only time I tried one (the orange sorbet number) it came out so hard, not even a pick axe would have helped. After what felt like an eternity, it did eventually thaw enough to eat but the first spoonful was enough to tell me it was among the most disgusting things I had ever eaten.

The moral in the story is, like the Grange Hill Kids told us many years ago: “just say no”.

Friday, 20 July 2007

It must be my age

I’m partial to a jar or two every once in a while. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy the experience. There’s nothing quite like a glass of wine, or a stiff Vodka and Tonic, to take the edge of a stressful day. Lately, though, I’ve found that not only do I find drinking less enjoyable but also the effects of drinking are starting to make me wonder why I bother.

During my university days, hangovers were non-existent; they were what old people experienced. I could drink substantial quantities and not worry about it next day. I think that was partly because I stayed in bed until midday and therefore had the restorative effects of sleep to ward off the hangover.

That cloak of invincibility stayed with me through my twenties and most of my thirties. I could drink large volume and do so late into the night and still be able to function at work the next day.

But lately, the hangovers have reached epidemic proportions. It’s no longer a matter of a can of Coke to make things right in the world. Now it has to be a full English breakfast, several cans of coke, a cup of coffee and a two hour snooze. And even then I have trouble remembering my name.

I’m guessing this has something to do with my age because others who’ve reached the 40 milestone report similar experiences.

It hardly bodes well for my drinking credentials but I guess I should take comfort in the fact that it does happen to us all. I remember my Gran getting more than a little tipsy on a glass of sherry and a glass of sweet white wine one Christmas lunch several years ago.
I suppose there’s a bright side. The money I used to spend on alcohol can now be put to better use – perhaps saving for a pair of slippers and a pipe that I can use as I doze by the fire after my single pint of bitter. Joy

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

To gym or not to gym

Apparently, one of the many advantages of getting older is that physical looks become less important. In place of toned abs and shoulders that are broader than one’s waist comes wisdom, wit and intellect. It seems that middle age should be the place where what’s inside really does count for more than what’s on the outside.

Piffle. Absolute piffle. Or at least that’s my conclusion based on a random sample of people at my local gym.

When I made the odd foray to the gym during my late twenties, it was full of people my age, each trying to lift more weights than each other. Ten years on and it’s still full of people like me still trying to out-lift each other. The point is that the gym is the preserve of late-thirty and forty year-olds rather than those in their twenties.

The depressing thing about this is that we all seem to have reached the same conclusion: simply letting nature take its course is not an option. With the job market remaining super competitive and all of us in fear of someone younger (and no doubt better looking) replacing us, staying as fit as possible is the depressing truth. Which explains why the average age of gyms seems to be on the rise.

It’s alright for those in their twenties, after all they still have an active metabolism. I, on the other hand, have the knowledge that it takes longer to get fit and loose weight than when I was younger but perversely only takes half the time to become a porker again.

So, what about wit, intellect and wisdom? Try this experiment if you really want to see how valued they are: 1) find a bar with a high percentage of single women; 2) approach one of them; 3) if she hasn’t pissed her self laughing or called you a dirty old man, start a conversation; 4) ask her about her views on neoclassical endogenous economics and see her first look blank, then panic and then turn on her high heels and march back to her mates. Simply put, it’s not about what’s up top.

And sadly, the same applies to the workplace too

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Strawberry Moon

Is it me or do strawberries not have the same taste they did 20 or 30 years ago? I don’t want to sound like a ‘Wenwe’ – one of those really boring people who think that things were better when they were kids – but strawberries tasted like strawberries when I was little.

Nowadays, they taste like some indecipherable, homogenous blob of nothing that looks a bit like strawberries.

Apart from that one you eat close to the end of the punnet which tastes sweet and fresh and, well, of strawberries.