2006 Journal Archive

Monday January 3 2006


Well, Christmas was spent in a cosy English village in the county of East Sussex with a whole bunch of people I didn't know 18 months ago. This including 2 wildly ecstatic children. As ever of course, I didn't have one present come 10:00AM on December 24. Bad personal management my boss would say! In my defence I did know what I was getting, it was just the simple matter of getting it! Which isn't always as easy as one might think when Christmas lists give misleading information and your shopping in rural Sussex!

Anyway's, I escaped death and even managed to come out of the whole affair with some kudos, mostly from little people. It was all good. I also got to see my Uncle and parents during the christmas period along with the first sighting of my sister in roughly two years. She continues to be the golden apple, so much so she is competitive for the attention it garners in the face of even the least interested competition, in the form of me at lunch with her and our aging parents.

Dad footed the bill for the meal in the usual pub restaurant overlooking the solent harbour and sister aside it was a pleasant meal. She wasn't particularly hideous to be honest. Realistically she probably feels competitive against the endeavours of big bro (Me) and subconsciously, I for my parents attention over her, despite convincing myself I dont give a damn!

Dad also beat me at Tiger Woods Golf on the playstation, an 18 hole matchplay event we play under ritualistic conditions for an appealing trophy. For the most part of the last two years the trophy has been mine but on the last occasion, circa November last, it was cruelly snatched from me at the hands of some amazing random luck on fathers behalf.

This time it was all rather exciting. I hadn't been able to putt for toffee all afternoon and was 3 shots down with three to go. Pops took his foot of the peddle and I managed to level it on the last with a precocious eagle that was setup with a second 200yard shot that rolled 6 foot from the flag. Unfortunately the playoff ended on the third hole after a sudden gust of wind took my ball perilously close to and over the cliff edge (links course) and the trophy remains standing proudly on his neatly cluttered working desk.

My uncle is terribly lonely, by himself at the age of 76 not withstanding the close friends at his local. Anyone reading this that learns that I didn't invite him for Christmas lunch might leap to a certain conclusion, you might even be partially right, but that has never been the way of our family. Which is not to say its right, but I had never even considered it! I will next year though, what was I thinking!

New Year was spent in the company of some very good people, role play around the dinner table in the setting of a murder mystery complimented by lots of champagne!

I am moving from Newbury next week, to heartland Sussex, which reminds me, best pack!

Wednesday February 1 2006
Some things come to pass
Even those you worked for the best.

I have shed more tears, repeatedly
For those I have loved in recent time
And for he who gave so freely.

The journey began with an embrace, not with this end in mind
We would never have given so much, which pains me now
N
ot for the giving, but for the loss.

She is mighty, to be wondered at
Such fortitude, bathing in her glow
But only from below

It is the simple things we all desire, she craves
But from an unsure footing she consumes
Her retribution for the ghosts, has grown
S
o hurtful, too often

Life unfolds another page, not shiny or new
The glow will live, if only within
A childs small arms will haunt me
But can never leave

Thursday February 9 2006
They do say life goes on and I suppose it does. I finally got my flat in Newbury rented out to a colleague at work, who moved in last Tuesday after a lot of mayhem and chaos through disorganisation via both he and me. Weekend was fairly layed back, plotted and schemed some semblance of a healthy lifestyle while working out different ways to cook Basmati rice in a microwave.

Eventually lucked on a blog from an Indian geezer who reckoned you needed twice as much water as rice, maybe a little more water but no more. Leave rice in water to stand for 10 minutes and then zap for 12-15 minutes depending on the number of cups of rice.

Of course if you put in more than one cup of rice you will be eating basmati for weeks, but this method does produce glorious tasting rice. Basmati is good by the way as its sugars, unlike most others, is held as starch. When you eat it the sugar is digested over a period of time, instead of giving your body one big sugar rush. Just in case you needed to know.

I traipsed down to ASDA Eastbourne on Sunday and got me some new tops and jeans (that fit) and got rid of a lot of the old at the clothes bank. Also got me a rail to put in my wardrobe from Focus. In typical johnie style I had been walking around Next for about 15 minutes before I glanced into a mirror and saw my left trouser leg was tucked into my socks!! Wise man say put on socks before trousers and make sure you put up mirror in hallway!

Went to see the wrinklies yesterday, as my day is free during my stint on the Duty mobile. We had lunch at the usual, very pleasant and stumped up myself this time. Got trounced by the old man at Tiger Woods, was 3 shots down after 4 holes and ended the game 6 down which was the result of me trying all manner things tricky to catch up. None worked.

We then had a few more revelations of the family nature, all a bit saddening. Totally shocking how much anger there is still, for those long gone and those that took a different stance. As always there are two sides to every story and a lot of static in between.

Friday February 10 2006
Spent a lot of time today, starting in the wee early hours and sporadically through those of daylight revamping the iWrite section. For a while now I have been meaning to organise it a little better around the introduction and create a page layout much like the one you can see in the movie reviews section.

As these things do, it all started innocuously with my desire to get the content of this website listed in various webrings, and hopefully accumulate a few more visits to this site. After I got this site added to a movie review webring I realised that if I was going to get my writing added to a similar ring then it would need to look better and be more readily accessible. So now we have the mostly completed sparkling new iWrite section. For some reason I started with the oldest entries and worked my way back to the newest in reformatting, so if you click on the latest essays you will find the heading looks dodgy and the text the same as before, but at this time, starting with On Men the others have been done.

In addition to this, where applicable I have written a 'context' or summary text for most entries that talks a little, or in some cases alot about the motivation for the writing or a context for the time the essay refers to. I think its real cool, so even if you have read all these, and some really have! then go back and have a look at the sidebar text as well.

I also had a made spurt tonight for DIY and in three hours put up a glass shelf above the sink, assembled and put up my bathroom cabinet above the glass shelf above the sink, towel rail and toothbrush holder. I also moved my Jack Vettriano beach scene into the bathroom above the toilet and opposite, above the new towel rail I put my printed Garden at Giverny by Monet. That combined with the fact my Dragon firn now resides in the bathroom alongside the parlor palm (its all about sunlight but I will maybe tell you that one another day) has given the whole room a very clean classical look that I am exceedingly pleased with.

Now onto the small matter of the other three rooms.

Saturday 11 February 2006
Did a word count for all active pages on this site today. Seems I have churned out 69366 words over the last three years. So of course with 70,000 in mind I immediately sat down and wrote the 700 word review for Narnia.

That roughly equates to a 200+ page novel. Ummnnn!

Tuesday 14 February 2006
So many memories

Like tears in rain

Wednesday 15 February 2006
You would not think one pesky little sidebar menu could be so damn difficult to do, but then I guess I have been trying to do this or something like it now for 30 months, on and off. Guess I should probably just be gratefully I got it finished and it looks pretty good.

Getting the actual construct out there was not hugely difficult. Getting the text to line up inside without going over the borders was one thing, getting the bottom of the menu on was another, but just making it look presentable was a whole mission in itself. The key, in the end was to change the border from its origin white, to the off black we now have here, just makes it stand out. Making the 'read this' text yellow really was the finishing touch and changed the complexion of the whole menu.

Was on the pool mobile last week, which means going far from the computer at the weekend is not a good idea. It was a perfect excuse to veg and recover from my DIY endeavors in Friday night. What it actually meant is that for the first time in I dont know how long I spent 6 hours playing Tiger Woods PGA Golf on Sunday. It felt hugely decadent, bit like a jumbo bar of Cadbury's but without the calories.

On the plus side I did spend quite some time organising my diet and Gym routine as well. The last 18 months have not been kind on my body fat ratio and its time to do something about it. This culminated in a large food shop in Somerfield of Uckfield yesterday after my first proper visit to the gym since October 2004, gasp!

Also added the 'Feedback' button which you should be able to see to the left of this page. Click on it and you should be able to send me an email with constructive comments about this site. I created the text in Fireworks and exported to SwishMax where I added the animation.

Tuesday 21 February 2006
Its been one of those weeks. I should probably avoid sharp objects and moving vehicles, truth be known.

Felt like I had a lot to say when picking my phone up off the floor at lunchtime, but now I find myself before keyboard the words have dried up, almost. Life has been fairly nondescript while embarking on my monk like body fat reducing regime. Last weekend was spent doing very little under the pretense of study. I managed to churn out two shelf's worth of 'On The Shelf' reviews which I hope you have checked out. There are six shelf's left. I also added links to Amazon for the full movie reviews plus the 4 and 5 star reviews in the Shelf section. The links when you click on them allow you to be taken straight to Amazon UK and be able to purchase the DVD for which you have just read my fabulous review. This in turn will make me a small amount of credit for which I can buy more DVD's to review. Neat huh! Click away.

Went to get some passport type photies at lunchtime. Decided on a proper photo shop opposed to one of those sit in a booth and wait an interminable amount of time for the in booth Windows photo computer to boot, before it takes 4 identical out of focus shots. Mind you the girls in the photo shop were not much better, had to have three lots of photies done before they got it the right size and even then there seemed to be some blur on the image, two chins you see.

While waiting for the first set of pictures to come out wrong I went just up the way to Bentalls which is a nice old fashioned department store. Was looking for a casserole pot that I can leave on the stove and trust to 'simmer' by food. This after I decided to cook four sittings worth of pasta boulegnese last week. The sauce said mix the pre fried mince with the sauce, cover and leave to simmer for an hour. I only had a large frying pan so decided that covering wasn't that big a deal.

I made one other mistake, I didn't turn the gas down to simmer level, the contents of the pan were simmering when I left it. When I returned 30 minutes later to check on my masterpiece the mince and sauce had fussed as one burnt lump at the bottom of the pan in a rough approximation of what I can only imagine part processed rubber must look like.

I did try eating a portion of this, out of sheer belligerence but the experience was enough to lead me to bin the rest immediately.

Bentalls had a wide selection, priced between 25quid and about 150quid, which seemed extortionate for a metal tin with a lid. I eventually found a whole rack that had been reduced to 8quid from 25, so one was promptly purchased. I will let you know how I got on.

In between waiting for the next set of photographs I was wondering around the photo shop and was looking at the rather neat looking pouches you can get now for various electronic components. There was a really small one apparently for a compact camera. It struck me this also looked about the right size for my stunning new Motorola V3I mobile flip phone. Its so new I cant get a case for it and I am not the sort of phone owner that should be without a case for long. The V3i fitted perfectly and the case had a really practical no slip belt clip.

So I brought this, took it out of the cardboard package while the girl pulled the strip off the back of my photies. Got my phone out to put it in its new protective cover and of course immediately drop the phone on the floor with a loud clatter. Luckily despite looking like it will break if you look at it hard, it survived and its now safely snug in the new case. I never intend taking it out.

Found out my ex-wife is pregnant today. Quite interesting, I dreamed that she was pregnant last Christmas, now I know she is I put the coincidence of the dream down to sheer odds. If she was going to have a kid it would have to be relatively soon, based on age.

Finding this sort of thing out is one of those things I think you are programmed into having an emotional reaction to. All that sanctity of the marriage bond, and the concept of your wife being pregnant by another man, even the ex wife. I had struggled to move on over the years that immediately followed the separation (in 2000) but have got to the stage where I just look back at those times with some fondness and a little regret. After all you cant go denying all the things in your life that come to nothing, you could end up wiping out most of your life experiences.

I was surprised I felt very little, almost like there was closure. Haven't quite worked that one out yet.

Am going to try the casserole pot the 'morrow so I will let you know how it goes.

Friday 24 February 2006 - Study, Linux exams and cascading style sheets
This week was full of hurried study which culminated yesterday with an exam that centred around the one thing I had not spent enough time on, of course. Apache! Ironically it was this part of the exam that I got the highest marks on but it chewed up a huge portion of the allotted time. It left me with precious little time for logging and logrotate, the later of which, with 8 minutes remaining, resulted in my ms-interpretation of the question and ultimately failing. I am taking it again on the 10 March so the 12 days after this weekend are going to be about nailing it properly.

The exam was yesterday and today was about not studying, or at least studying something I am interested in. I did get very excited about Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) during my lunch break.  CSS is a powerful component of web design that I knew could do amazing things. In my mind though these amazing things have been of a graphical nature and, apart from the general layout of text on these pages not something I had delved too deeply into.

One of the first things I tried and failed to do on this website (ed circa 2002) was to manipulate the URL to look how I wanted it to. The URL or hyperlink as it is often referred, being the links on the page that allow you to jump to another page just by clicking on it. Normally they look like this which although functional is rather static and unappealing. I wanted something that stood out on the page and would interact when you moved your mouse over it, something cooler like this. At the time it seemed to me that the only way I could do this was by creating rollover images which is something I discuss in the Techno section.

So I sat down and did some research on good sites that might show me the ways of CSS. I eventually came to one site called www.w3schools.com which, if web design is of any interest to you, you should immediately visit. Not only did it have tutorials on CSS, but simplified Javascript and extended version of HTML. This is the very best  example for a website brilliantly devised and presented along its objectives that makes the advertising it carries very relative. Stepping through the tutorials shows me that creating the interactive URL's, without going to the fiddly trouble of rollover images was not as elusive as I might imagine. So it was that I rushed home and, after some fiddling, had achieved  that which I desired for so long.

Having got the basic URL's working I decided that I should also revamp my  main menu on this front page, from a fairly static image map to something slightly more impressive. I ported what I had learned from CSS into the new menu system. Hoorah. Its not quite there right now but is a fair representation of where I am currently at. I am hoping that very soon it will look a lot better.

Sunday 26 February 2006 - Relatives, Guinness over load and ASDA!
Went to see my Uncle this weekend. These visits usually revolve around a quick hello and then a short walk upto the local where we then catch up while supping various beverages of a alcoholic nature. Around this there is the usual social discourse with fellow punters and friends of my uncle that I have come to know over the five or so years that this has become a regular event. We usually return home and eat some food while he  talks over all the interesting bits on TV, remaining silent during the boring bits.

The only problem with this then is that I am currently doing the healthy lifestyle thang. Despite this, and two decades worth of experience in the realm of self control and enjoyment where Guinness is involved,  I really did firmly believe that I would go there and only have the two pints.

Of course what really happened is that we got there at just after two Saturday afternoon. The football preamble came and went, the commentators sitting behind screens in the studio and updates from the grounds blurred as one. Pompey held out till the second half but succumbed to the Chelsea onslaught and the days results were posted. There were brief flashes of England struggling against a resurgent Scotland and the final disappointment of the Scottish victory. We finally left just before nine.

Not having drank for two weeks meant that it all hit me a little harder and I think it was only years of relentless training that saw me through! I have distant  memories of quaffing down half a chicken with some bread roles when we got back. Next thing I know I wake up at eleven with Gary Lineker doing his Saturday night review of the days football and my Uncle raising the rafters upstairs.

I cant tell you how annoyed I am that having abstained for two weeks, with relative ease, the first time the nectar passes my lips I get absolutely trollied. Its annoying, apart from the fact I felt really bad all through the day, still feel rough right now and didn't go to the gym.

I did stop off at Havant ASDA on the way home today. What a place that is. Walking up and down the isles I was reminded of the huge shopping centres in America when I reminded myself this was actually owned by wall mart. Got myself a second cutlery set, some place mats, DVD's, tupperware and of course some food.

Cooked myself a quick meal this evening, refreshingly healthy after the debauchery of the weekend and eventually watched 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' which is an extremely stylised French movie set in the 18th century, purchased earlier that day in ASDA. I know its not the done thing, specially round these parts but I quite admire the French.

Monday 27 February - Dan Brown, Holy Blood and plaguerising history?
I noticed Dan Brown is in court today, he of 'The Da Vinci Code'. Allegedly for using the ideas of a book written in the 1980's called 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' as his own.

For anyone that has read both books it is very clear that one of the threads running through 'The Da Vinci Code' and some key messages are first detailed in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Brown even acknowledges this in his own. I find particularly interesting though, that the writers of Holy Blood should bring a case against Dan Brown for plagiarising their work considering the following quote from the introduction of Holy Blood;

.. we felt the story had passed out of our hands, had passed beyond us, into the public domain and the hands of other researchers. This, as we stated at the end of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, was just what we hoped would happen.

If they had written a book of fiction the similarities between the two books would be undeniable plagiarism, but as they purport their premise to be conclusion based on historic evidence then is there copyright for historic conjecture?

I doubt at all that the authors are motivated by the fact that Da Vinci and its spin offs are making Dan Brown $43 million a year. Its a shame because I was quite taken by their enthusiasm for the subject in their book, despite its constant requirement to make 'best guesses' and feel they have offered a fairly well documented, if unlikely alternate to the classical figure of Jesus. Dan Brown in turn, has taken the basic premise they unveil, mixed in some enterprising puzzles and topped it off with some dark catholic dealings and run of the mill cross Europe thriller chase. So what!

Wednesday 1 March - Nasty rashes, Fargo, QVC shopping, RSS and changing host!
White rabbits!

Interesting week. Seems I took an allergic reaction to something at my Uncles, which meant that from Sunday onwards I felt fairly crap, over and above the excesses of the day before. This resulted in a particularly unpleasant rash on my face which was a little disconcerting, enough that I felt conscious about public forays. As we close today its just getting back to rosy cheeked normality.

Ontop of which I watched Fargo last night, brilliant movie but left me a little depressed, wasnt quite sure why. I think its because the William H Macy character was an out of control escalation of the predicaments we can sometimes find ourselves. Something deep inside me acknowledged that once or twice in my life I have been two or three bad decisions away from that whole world of pain. I think it was his final scene that really got to me! Great, great film though, Fran Mcdormand was exceptional as was Macey.

Funny thing happened last Sunday afternoon, which I hadn't mentioned before. I brought a computer from QVC. Can't believe I did it really and sure that my expectations will be shattered. They had Dell on there presenting their geewizz multi media PC which seemed to fulfil all my expectations for a new PC, which admittedly I am looking for at this time. I went online and checked the specification and price against the Dell build your own options but could not get it down to the price QVC were offering. So I ordered from QVC!!

Currently the PC I have at home is my desktop from work, but I need to take it back into the office as it being at home, albeit helpful for my two working at home days, is a pain for my three in office days.

This new thing, for those interested in such things is multi media orientated, so we are talking 24 inch wide screen LCD monitor, 1Gb ram (which I plan on expanding to 3Gb immediately), DVD Read Write, Soundblaster Audigy with 5.1 speakers, 256Mb ATI video card and supercooled processor that allegedly makes no noise. Additionally it runs Microsoft's Media Centre OS which I had never heard of before and has DAB TV Tuner and remote control, which you can then control, watch, listen and switch between with from your living room chair, in my case Ikea poontang, or some similar named seating contraption. Of course there was a hitch, apparently my card didn't authorise but there is plenty of credit, I reckon they are stalling for time on their 5-7 day delivery promise. If its not shipped next week its toast.

On Monday I signed upto www.fasthost.co.uk and registered www.johniebg.co.uk with 150Mb of hosted webspace and 150Mb worth of mySql database. This in readiness for the next stage of this websites evolution. The plan is to implement PHP and mySql components such as feedback forms that get mailed to me by my server and not be reliant on your client email. Additionally am looking to dynamically update this blog through an interface at my server and not through editing a page and uploading. I want to create web site stats as well. The first stage will be that www.johniebg.net accesses dynamic pages from this new site, mid phase is it will redirect completely and finally I intend transferring my www.johniebg.net to this new host.

I also found out about RSS feeds the day which I also plan on adding to this site in the mid term, or as soon as I work out how much work would be involved. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a process which allows you to define a list of updates to your site that are dynamically updated to the users web browser, if they chose too. They can then simply click on your bookmark in their browser and it pops up with a list of new stuff on your website which they can then go straight to. Saves them having to go to your site and find it.

All quite exciting! Except some people cant see the point of me doing this all myself. Mostly because there are pre built packages out there that you can install and do all this and more without the ordeal of learning these technologies! They are missing the point! Why does anyone buy a kit car and build it when you can go out and buy a pre built one. Why? because they love the building process and driving around in something constructed of their own hand.

That's the nearest analogy I can give you anyway's. Off now to go cook some food and watch the England friendly!

Sunday 5 March - Lost shoes, traffic jams and market town opening times!
Sometimes I sit in front of the computer and the events of the last few days pour out of me like bullets from a gun, sort of. Others, I live the days and make mental notes of the events so they can be recounted, only to be presented with this page and for all to disappear like breath on a cold morning.

Today is a cold morning, so bare with me I am sure it will all become lucid at any moment. I suppose I should start with last Friday. I went to the gym on the way home, which was at the end of a long day that had required three hours and 30 minutes commuting. During the journey home I had done much deliberating on whether to actually stop at the gym. I got there though, changed, went into the gym and did my thing before returning home.

On saturday I was looking for my shoes prior to leaving for my uncles, I couldn't find them anywhere. It eventually occured to me this was because the last time I had seen them, they sat at the back of the locker in the gym. I suppose I could have gone there on the way to my Uncles or called reception but I don't think of such things and just got in the car and went, the events of which are documented elsewhere on this site.

I worked at home on Monday. Come the evening I was sitting in the gym changing room pulling my jeans over my trainers, when an open locker with my shoes sat in the back caught my attention.

This friday, same commute and 18:00 I am deliberating whether to go and see 'The Matador' at the Bracknell UCI which starts at 19:00 or go home and to the gym. Ultimately I choose the gym for some reason, I think maybe my poor form the weekend before was a motivating factor. So, thirty minutes past the hour of six I am heading towards the M3 along the A322. Its 5 miles from my office to the M3 and a further 7 from the M3 to the M25. It took me seven minutes to do the first five miles and two hours and nineteen minutes the next seven. There had apparently been a crash just before the junction of the M25 on the M3. It had probably occurred as I was walking to my car judging by the fact we were stationary for two hours of the wait and had to budge to one side to let the vehicle recovery trucks past.

By the time I got onto the M25 it was roughly the same time I would have got there if I had actually gone to see the movie and of course, too late to get to the gym. So much for diligence. Of course the traffic reports that constantly feeds me news of hell suffered by other drivers, dried up immediately. After 90 minutes Radio Five Live did a 20 second appraisal that didn't even include the M3 and on two hours a local radio station announced an accident at Jct 2 was causing holdups on the northbound M3. No F(bleep) S(bleep) sherlock!

I maintained a loose hold on sanity by promising myself a takeaway chicken balti and ice cold cobra from the local indian 'stead of a quiet friday night workout. This was a prophecy fulfilled at 10 shortly after I got home.

As an epilogue, I was still wired till late and didn't eventually get to bed till four of the saturday morning. Got up at midday and felt sluggish all day. Eventually did get to the gym for 18:40 and was once more in the locker pulling my jeans over my trainers when an attendant breezed in and asked me whether I was changing for the gym? Dumbfounded I replied in the affirmative, not quite sure what else he was expecting me to be doing in the gym changing room. He announced it closed at seven on saturdays. I cant repeat what I said once he had jauntily left, but I almost knocked a guy off his feet with the entrance door as I barged through on my way out and had to go back and apologise.

Even as I type my desire to not swear on this site is being severally tested. Seven o'clock, f(bleep)ing market town leisure centre! surprised they decided opening was worthwhile with only f(bleep)ing 24 hours in the f(bleep)ing day. Signing off.

Wednesday 8 March - Hard decisions for the road!
I find myself with a dilemma. I moved to this very rural and distant section of Sussex in the beginning of January, at the same time renting my existing place in Berkshire. The move at the time was worthwhile; building better futures.

Two things happened shortly after each other. Firstly the building futures thing didn't pan out much to the dismay of my heavy heart. Shortly after, the guy renting my place patched up the differences with his estranged wife and moved back in with her.

I do love Sussex, especially where I live. To say it is a beautiful part of the country, does it no justice. This expanding market town situated in the rolling hills, resting just above the south downs can trace its lineage back to a 14th century hamlet. Even now as I look out of my high skylight window and look upon the surrounding area, I see irregular pockets of houses dispersed amongst occasionally wooden countryside. Every branch, leaf and stone wall dripping with English history. Wood smoke roles from chimneys and you get the distinct impression that this place has little changed in many generations.

The only problem with this then is that its at least 2 hours away from the rest of my life! Despite two days working at home, the three days commuting from Sussex to Berkshire take a heavy toll, as does visiting relations, friends and travelling anywhere in the UK for work that is not London. My mainstays; work is two hours, relatives two hours, Brum nearly four hours. Just getting to a major road in any direction is an hour unless your travelling at midnight on a Sunday.

So it is with a fair reluctance, given the optimism with which I moved here barely two months ago that I have to face reality. The futures thing was why I was here, but as this is now not the case I am going to move lock stock and two smoking barrels back across the country to my flat in Berkshire.

This is equally set in a market town, but one further expanded than this in Sussex. The flat does not look out over rolling countryside but instead the busy A4, although is surrounded by the best the west country has to offer. I was quite happy in Berkshire before I came here, but the sheer beauty of the locale and I think above all the sheer pain of moving my whole life once more seems very unappealing, although, thank goodness not to a new start.

Berkshire has its benefits, the flat is big, it is only a 30 minute commute down the M4 to work, 50 minutes down the A34 to Portsmouth and 90 minutes up the A34 to Brum. Heathrow is under 40 mins and Gatwick just an hour.

I wont go yet I dont think, I have a weeks holiday soon from which I will return and start redecorating the Berkshire pad, best done while its empty me thinks. I will sell off a bunch of stuff I dont need anymore, like my massive 42inch rear projected TV, along with a bunch more electronic kit I just dont use, clothes and remnants of a previous life that were rented with my flat. We will see, hope lives eternal.

I drew up a list of my living arrangements since 2001 the other day, while deliberating pro's and con's for moving;

2001 – Living in hotels almost through the whole year working abroad
2002 – Living in digs while working in Yorkshire, back to Suffolk weekends
2003 – Took job in Bracknell bunked up with a relative in Hampshire
2003 – Moved to own digs in Hampshire
2004 – Sold house in Suffolk, moved to digs in Berkshire
2004 – Brought flat in Berkshire and moved into it
2006 – Moved to Sussex
2006 – Back to Berkshire and there to stay for a while.

In the end though I cant stay here anymore, my life just isnt here. Whether I stay through to the end of this rental agreement or stay another six months I would move away, so might as well bite the bullet now.

Monday March 13 2006 - A weekend in Suffolk


I sold my house and moved from Suffolk in 2004, May the 10th in fact. I made one visit later that year to pick up some stuff hurriedly dumped at a friends and have not been back since. I couldnt wait to get away from the place.

Well I was back there this last weekend and started writing about it when I got back. Fact is though, I havent stopped writing since, so the chunk of text I now have has been cut and pasted to an iwrite section and will become available as soon as I have finished it.

It was a good weekend, am damn glad I dont live there anymore though.

Saturday March 25 2006 - A few days in Prague ...
Flew out to Prague with a friend for a few days R&R last week. A thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all. But then that was no surprise to us as we had been before, we knew it was great!

I have spent quite a while thinking about how I might describe in words the beauty that is this new republic finding its feet in the post communist era. Words fail me, mostly. The last time I went it was the height of the tourist season and I have to say, packed. Despite the glorious sunshine, spending much of the holiday shoulder to shoulder with loud and disorderly English and Americans alike. March was a much better time to take in this amazing place. Like so many major cities it sits on the banks of a large river and like so many born of the middle ages sits at the foot of at least one large hill, in this instance two. One of the hills props up the castle and estate of the well to do forefathers. We stood atop these hills last week, looking down and across at the snow covered suburbs that now sprawls over and away from the river, into the horizon. It does not take a great stretch of the imagination to see this magnificent city at its genesis a thousand years ago. Capitalism will probably ruin it but for now it is a treasure you should behold.

... and a Dell conundrum
My Dell multimedia PC turned up on tuesday last. As you would expect there was a lot of confusion around when it would be delivered, including letters from QVC about factory recalled speakers the day before delivery. I also got a call from a local company as I was getting on my plane to Prague, who wanted to know when they could come round and assemble my new Media PC. Assemble my PC!! I am industry man! I told them I would sign a form to say they had done the job but I was looking forward to setting it up myself. Of course that was before it arrived.

When it did arrive, sometime around Tuesday lunchtime I received; A 24inch widescreen DVI capable monitor, a base unit with 1Gb ram, 3Ghz Processor, a network card, tv tuner, ATI 256Mb DVI capable graphics card, remote control, Ir receiver, DVB ir Receiver, 5.1 surround sound speakers including subwoofer, a ton of cables all individually wrapped in bomb proof plastic and five bits of paper with lots of pictures and arrows detailing how it should all be setup in 8 languages. There were two install CD's each for the monitor and the IR remote in turn and a piece of paper shaped like a CD that stated that I need not worry about install CD's as it was all part of the PC build. Ha Ha! I laugh now as I reflect.

It took me an hour just to unpack all the stuff and more than that to assemble and connect all the components. It had been midday when I signed a piece of paper with my name and confirmed my door was white. It was dark by the time it was all connected. I plugged in the last power cable, despite all the work my fingers trembled ever so slightly at the prospect of powering on this beast. The surge protected power strip glowed with a red light, I reached round and pressed the power button on the main unit. Nothing.

The following 90 minutes was spent eradicating everything other than the precious base unit as the cause of failure, which was futile, it was the base unit. I seriously considered declaring a Jihad against Dell before opting to ring support instead. Seemed like the path of least resistance. Jihad would have been more effective; 'Your in a very long queue and we cant imagine when we will get around to taking your call, please wait!'

My speaker phone repeated the message every 90 seconds while I contemplated extreme violence, all around me seemed reluctant, damn inanimate objects, no fight in them.

After 30 minutes on hold I simmer back into the leisure room where my computer obstinately sits lifeless. I despair and stab the button one last futile time; everything springs into life!! There's so many led's flashing I worry Gatwick air traffic control might get jealous. Its worked ever since. I have no idea why the damn ON button didn't work for the hour that I had been pressing it beforehand. I put it down to condensation.

Of course getting the thing to start was just the beginning of the ordeal but five days down the line, sitting in front of the beautiful 24inch screen that shows colors via DVI as I have never seen them I am not quite so in love with Dell anymore, but I do love my new PC. Nathan Fillion never looked so dark and magnificent!

Tuesday March 28 2006 - Some thoughts on the parents
Spent a very enjoyable saturday with mother and father. This has not always been the case though, which is why I think it seems all the better now. There are dark smudges on the collective conscience. Time is not always a great healer but it ticks over relentlessly for us all. I suppose neither of us would be in a position to cast the first stone. You have to make the decision whether your life is going to be spent lingering on the past, or taking the moment for what it is.

I think other than just spending time with them, which often feels precious in itself, conversation and a meeting of the minds is so complimentary. I would enjoy a discussion with them both even if we were not related. It is extremely interesting to me, how I see distinct aspects of myself in their thoughts and actions regardless of the physical similarities. You would think that this has been because I have spent a lifetime with them, their characteristics are bound to rub off. The truth is though that I left home twenty years ago and have probably not seen them more than once a year through the first 18 years of that time and on each occassion, seldomly for more than a few hours. I seem to have come to the extraordinary similarity relatively independently.

As with most adults I have enocuntered, I spent a large portion of my life denying that I was anything like my parents, as if we could be anything else. I am certainly me, and am pleased that I am a unique and refined incarnation of that biologically inherited from my parents. But there is no mistaking the fact that I am a product of their union. Which brings me to a thought that often strikes me.

I am artistic, willful, imaginative, stubborn, passionate and I suspect compulsive like my mother. Methodical, clever, staid, thoughtfull, creative and more physically like my father, especially facially. A portion of this must come from upbringing, of course, although I think this effects the person you are, over what you are. So did I get all these things from just one tiny sperm and an egg? Many of these are mental processes, they are in the biological mix as well?

Time to do some research on DNA me thinks which no doubt will result in a blog sometime in the medium to distant future on the nature of the soul.

Thursday March 30 2006 - A farewell and a car wreck
Our friend from America, after four months secondment, was heading home the day. So we spent most of yesterday, in between short bouts of work, visiting some of his favourite hostelries and revelling in his last moments on English soil. Started lunchtime in the Golden Retriever on nine mile ride and then after a short work orientated interlude the Lord Raglan in Wokingham and the wednesday night pub quiz. Huge turnout for this popular yanks farewell, so many in fact that we had to split into two teams. Competition was fierce and all square after two rounds of 20 questions, but then they introduced the Family Fortune round! Twenty questions of 'Our survey says' and a possible 100 points. But even then we only lost by two overall. Great stuff. Farewell Mr K.

Of course, completely knackered the day, but thankfully no hangover. Eyelids got heavy the afternoon shortly after lunch but managed to struggle through too six thirty. Checked the AA and a few other sites and no reported motorway incidents, and headed off toward Sussex.

There is a mile stretch of the M3, as you approach junction 2 and the M25 that seems to me like a high speed dodgem ride. Cars are joslting for position and darting in and out of the tighly packed cars for the clockwise or anticlockwise lanes of the M25. All in the hope of saving a few minutes of queueing. As the 1/2 mile marker appears up ahead everything came to a very sudden halt. Everything on my passenger seat is now in the footwell. Within 10 minutes there were lots of sirens shooting past the stationary cars and coming to a stop about 500 yards ahead. After another 5 minutes we slowly move forward and towards the cause of the congestion. There is a silver Honda Civic upside down in the middle lane, pointing the wrong way. It looks like it left the ground at some stage and has come down hard on the offside front corner of the roof. The bit directly over the driver, which is almost flat. A shredded airbag billows listleslly through the glassless windows. There is a line of hurriedly halted cars on the hard shoulder with an assortment of impact marks. Behind, on the sloping embankment there are a whole bunch of stunned looking individuals that 15 minutes ago, only had getting home and what they were going to have for tea on their minds. I hope one of them is the driver, but as I inched past on the outside lane an ambulance screamed to a halt by the car, it seemed unlikely.

The sheer force that must be required to flip a whole car into the air and have it hit the ground upside down, facing the wrong way, seems almost incomprehensible. Life can change in the blink of an eye.

Monday April 3 2006 - On call cover, Firefly, impetus and a change of direction
Spent Friday night watching episodes of Firefly between phone calls with engineers on the edge. Standby cover can be an easy eight hours overtime or a hell, as carefully laid plans and those that devised them fall apart at the other end of your phone. This was a bumpy but not overly hellish ride. It was a perfect excuse to sit home on a friday and sample the delights of Josh Whedons Firefly. If you don't have a clue about which I speak, then I would urge you to pay a quick visit to Amazon and get it. There are about 14 episodes from a cancelled series available on a whole bunch of disks for under twenty quid. The characters in the series are so rich and full of nuance it doesn't really matter what each story is about, your there to see the people. Despite being cancelled the series eventually got picked up and made by the same people into a movie called Serenity, which was also brilliant. Nobody watched that either, although it is reported to be gaining a cult following now its out on DVD. Which is the first point to this blog, belief.

For about 18 months I have been planning and even written part of a book that has been a long standing dream of mine to write. The trouble is, its so much of a dream I have spent over a year researching it and researching it and researching it. So much so that very little time has actually been spent writing the damn thing!. It is almost in part like I am scared to sit down and write, for fear that I realise I can't. Shattering the dream.

The irony then is that I really dont have a clue what I am doing, in the truest sense. I have never written a book. Hell, some serious skullduggery was required just make it out of school with respectable English qualifications. I want to write though and have written lots on this site in this pursuit. Over 80,000 words in total. On the book front I need to pluck the dream from the vapor and get going. The first drafts will probably be dire but there is only one way to learn, keep getting back on the bike. Believe.

Which leads me to the second part of his blog. The BBC today reported that the inaugural prize for a blog turned book was dished out to Julie Powell for her book Julie & Julia. That's right! The blooker prize is dished out to bloggers that have turned their blog's into books. Ummn I hear you say, we see where this is going!

It is, sort of, but bare with me. So, this lunchtime I did spend forty min's or so reading Julie Powell's later blog's post completion of her quest to cook 500+ recipes from the 1960's book by Julia Child; 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. She is a secretary by trade, not a writer, but what she does write is sharp, honest, very observant and clean. Clean in the sense you don't much get bogged down in what she is saying. Her language, certainly isn't clean on the verbal front and not for the feint hearted. You often laugh inside though.

So. Here is the interesting bit, for me at least. Suitably intrigued by the whole writing a blog about a life mission, I have decided to change the focus of this blog for the next twelve months. It will still be about me but will focus significantly on my journey to getting the first draughts of my story out there.

I have been writing a synopsis now for the last 6 weeks, but this is a perfect testament to the problem I have. Half way through I got stuck on a key plot point, got an idea for another blog, dropped the synopsis and ended up with a 8000 word essay on diet and nutrition. In itself this will probably have several of you in stitches. Not in the reading, its all a little earnest, but in the fact that I have written on this particular subject. As I say to anyone that finds this point amusing, "which man would you seek out on diet? The man that is slim and seldomly ponders the salient points of weight control, or the one that at times falls from physical grace but knows his way back?". Something like that anyways.

On the story front I need to focus. The plan is to finish the synopsis and get my feet wet writing three short stories which will appear on this site. These short stories, as literary trailers for the bigger story will hopefully gain some interest for the whole premise and some feedback.

I think therefore the first thing I need to do is write a schedule. Well the first thing I need to do is finish the diet and nutrition thing and then the schedule. Damn, and do some decorating. Am going to get the schedule done by the end of the week, It has to be done.

I think I used to be wittier, I think all that stopped when I started worrying about what I should include on this site, for the concern of offending the participants in my life. I shall just have to be creative. We need witty, for the humour of life, is life itself.

Tuesday April 4 2006 - Another car wreck
If there is some omnipotent spiritual entity in this world, I wonder if they are trying to tell me something. I headed out to Newbury this lunchtime to pick up my repeat prescription. This involves a 20 mile westward hike along the M4 past junction 11 and 12. As I approached junction 11 the traffic slowed, not to a crawl but to a speed that would indicate there was either police car doing 70 up ahead or something interesting on the side of the road. It turned out to be the later. In fact it turned out to be a large red Volvo literally sat with its front wheels on the roof of a smaller black vehicle, the volvo was pointing back the way it had just come. They were both situated on the v-shaped grass verge that follows the split of the slip road from the motorway.

I could be completely wrong but it occured to me that this accident was very likely caused by someone realising at the last moment that they were about to miss their junction and making a last second bolt for the slip road, and taking with them someone simply trying to get from A to B. The next junction is two miles up the road. Makes you think.

Wednesday April 5 2006 - Wonder Women ...
Seems a lot of people got their knickers in a twist the weekend last because of a April fools spoof stating who the next Wonder Women will be. Seems the subject of 'who' is the topic of much fanboy discussion. Well, spoofs aside I reckon I know who it will be. If you listen to the audio commentary of the deleted scenes from the Serenity DVD Josh Whedon drops a very unsuttle hint as to who will be the next Wonder Women, if he has any say over the matter. Considering he is the director of this new motion picture, I would imagine that would be fairly substantial.

If you cant be bothered to get the DVD and watch these scenes its 'Morena Baccarin' who played 'Inara' in both the TV and movie incarnations of 'Firefly' and 'Serenity'.

... A Meeting with HR
If you read my iWrite essay on Predestination, you will know the culmination to a series of unfortunate events was that I lost the log book of my old Rover 623 GSI while walking to the post office to renew the tax. I had already ordered my new car at the time, and the intention before losing the log book was to eBay the Rover and hopefully make a few hundred quid in the process. As the TAX and MOT expired I parked it in the private, underground, off road car park at work. All I needed to do was send off for a new log book from the DVLA so I could sell it. Thats was April 2005.

Unfortunately, I dont tend to make things overly easy for myself and one thing led to another. The priority for sending off for the log book slowly slipped in the fairly crowded but unhurried list of things I really should be doing, but havent been given the impetus to actually do. As such almost one year after guiding the Rover into the car park for the last time, I got hauled into a meeting room with the building manager at work and some geezer from HR.

They tried to make the most of the opportunity; 'very serious situation' ... 'if there was an accident' ... 'your responsibility' etc were rolled out in grave tones. I pondered the seriousness of a car parked in a private car park, and that anyone running into my stationary vehicle deserved all that would befall them. I made a beligerently accomplished effort at looking like I thought they were being over dramatic. Their desire to remove the car was not wholy lost on me though, especially as it was now covered in a years worth of garage dust, had 'help' etched in large letters on the rear window and both nearside tires were flat. This once mightly car did now look rather sorry for itself.

Its being picked up on Friday by a vehicle removal company who will deposit it outside my flat in Berkshire where I will clean it and sell it on eBay. If that fails then the local council will pick it up for nothing, apparently. All I have to do is send off for the log book.

... and some more stuff on the Serenity cast
Both Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Serenity obscurity had films released the weekend last. Alans 'Ice Age: Meltdown' did rather better than Nathans 'Slither', taking a record breaking 72 Millions dollar in the opening weekend over 'Slithers' four million. The later apparently got some excellent critical reviews as a comedy horror, but it seems the American public just were not in the mood for funny meat eating monsters last weekend. I hope it goes on to do better, not just for Nathans but for any future Serenity projects sake. The powers are more likely to jump for another vehicle if its cast start earning star status. Unfortunately Alans star turn as an animated Ice Age Mammoth will not help as his Serenity character is already dead!

In an ironic twist, Summer Glau also has a new movie ready to be launched on an eager American public. Named; Mammoth, it looks like straight to video fare by the look of the description and publicity poster. We all live in hope though.

 

Friday April 7 2006 - Goodbye my car ...
It started with the vehicle removal guy for my work bound Rover ringing at 7:30 in the morning stating that he was on his way to pick up the aforementioned car. This was a little surprising to me as the guy I talked with the day before said midday ish. But the car needed to be moved, so I explained to the guy that I was going to be about an hour getting ready and getting to Bracknell, the location of said car. Goodbye, call when you get there.

Sure enough, I am 5 minutes out of Bracknell and the phone goes and the guy announces he is sitting outside. This strikes me as a tad strange as I work in a big complex of about 5 buildings and sitting outside would mean either blocking a main road or a private road in the complex. Sure enough I park up and he is no where to be seen. A quick phone call confirms that he is sitting outside my flat 30 miles away, apparently waiting for the keys.

An hour later the guy arrives. Large, clad in overalls, limping, with volumous grey white hair and a drooping handlebar moustache. The later appears to be so from the sheer weight of facial hair over any design intention. He drags the pulley cable into the covered parking, bending down to hook the cable onto the back of my car. In the process he farts so load, and with so much resonance I expect him to stand bolt upright with a sheer look of realised horror on his face and start backing away. But he continues as if nothing has happened and 10 minutes later the car is not only on the back of the truck but the geezer has offered to take the car off my hands and straight to the scrap yard, rather than the car parking space outside my flat. This does sound appealing. The thought of the car in its current state outside my house for 10 days while I find somewhere else to park, sounds very unappealing. Especially as the council are only going to take it to scrap anyway's. Something about the eagerness with which the offer is made, and the almost imperceptible shadow of greed on the guys face, makes me falter, momentarily. I had checked the web and as a whole this car doesn't seem worth more than 200 quid. So either its worth has been underestimated or 200 quid means more to him than it does me. I guess it is probably the later. He took it to the scrap yard.

I loved that Rover. In 100,000 miles over five years in never let me down save for two punctures and the second one didn't count as it was right next to a tyre shop. It was brought by me and the ex-wife in January of 2000 and was hotly debated in the post break-up negotiations, I fought hard to keep it. Me and that Rover spent a lot of hours driving about this country, mostly alone. It took me to work, interviews, friends and hopeful meetings with many women. There have been all manner of people in that passenger seat, from surly old men, children peering over the window and pressing every button, too women both coiled defensively and sleekly, legs disappearing into the foot well. It has carried me home bereft and in tears and seen me shouting with joy, mostly though I just listened to the radio. I know its an inanimate heap of metal parts but somehow, its left its mark and will be remembered with considerable fondness.

Got back to the flat early on Friday as I was having the second of three quotes done for laminating every floor space in the flat. Real wooden floors have been discounted on price in context to the flats worth. If this was a country house or a mansion conversion type apartment, or one that stylishly looked over a flowing river or something, I might consider it. As much as I like my apartment its none of the above, so we get laminated. The first guy that turned up on Thursday night seemed real nice. A short, timid sort of person with a birthmark across his nose. He seemed real genuine, very keen and really wrong footed, almost jilted when I told him I was getting two other quotes. His was the cheapest price but the guy that turned up on Friday, did so with exactly the type of flooring I wanted from the description I gave him and spent some time detailing how it would look. 250quid more expensive, but I judged to be worth it. The third quote was a waste of time. Either she knew I was set already or just could not be bothered to sell her product. Her quote came in at over a grand more expensive than the others and despite attempts at questioning it was real difficult to get information about joins between rooms and beading and all that sort of stuff.

Didn't do much else that night save for splatter more tester pots over myself and the walls and sand over filled holes. Did another tour round B&Q for essentials. Seems like every time I go to the counter there, irrespective of what I have in my basket the bill is fifty quid.

Sunday April 09 2006 - DIY Weekend #1
Just me, my blow up bed, sleeping bag, DAB radio and a whole host of decorating materials here the weekend. Oh and a few bottles of Stella for when the night closes in. Listened to a lot of football while deciding that Absolute White was the color for the spare room and living area cielings. Wild Primrose for all the walls except the hallway and bathrooms, which will be Brilliant white.

As is my want I have purchased a whole bunch of decorating gadgets that apparently guarantee straight edging lines and back ache free ceilings. In the end though they were rubbish, dripping paint everywhere. Ended up using an edging brush, a mini roller and a large roller. Got the ceilings done first then spare room, just so I could see what the color looked like in a whole room before banging it onto the living room walls. It was just what I wanted when there was light in the room, as the light dropped though the yellow became richer. I think it should be ok, I have tested enough colors to know there is nothing pre mixed that I want. I might save the living room for last and head straight into the bedroom with Wild Primrose and see how that pans out. Gets a similar amount of natural light to the living room.

Not exactly rock an' roll is it!

Tuesday April 11 2006 - Belle de Jour
My Amazon parcel arrived yesterday containing the three books that were shortlisted for Blooker prizes. I discussed this when I ordered them last Monday.

Of the three I opened and read the first chapter of both 'Julie and Julia' and 'Belle de Jour' during my lunch break, both were captivating reading from the get go. Something about Belle de Jour though, dont know whether its the chronicle of a girls move from unemployed graduate into fulltime, willfull prostitution and all that entails in the male mind, or whether its just brilliantly written. On the whole I think the balance is about 40-60. Anyways it sat willing me to read more all afternoon.

If I have had a long day that involves getting back to Sussex in the late evening, I usually get something to eat and then trawl the web, do something bloggish and then goto bed. This will usually then mean reading for about half an hour before reaching out, dousing the light and relatively quickly descending into slumber.

Most of that happened last night, upto the dousing light thing. I sat up against the brushed metal framed head board wearing shorts and t-shirt and opened up Belle de Jour where I left off that lunchtime. It was about 11PM. By 4:30AM I had to force myself to put the book down and turn off the light. As I rested my head on the latex pillow, dawns chorus was just starting up, the night a slightly lighter shade of dark. I am halfway through the book, which I know I will read again the instant I have finished the other two. She is a prostitute, she is a girlfriend, a friend and someones daughter, but above all her thoughfull, questing nature is what keeps you turning the pages. Cant wait for tonight.

Wednesday April 12 2006 - Losing it at work, blogging reality and pint pouring madness!
Lost it at work today. I wont go into the boring details but a whole bunch of frustrations came to a head based around directionless objectives we are blindly given by our wise and inspirational leaders. This in a meeting of peers and managers. I think rudderless was one of my more palatable words. I don't think I said anything I didn't mean but the intensity distorted the meaning of what I was trying to say. The frustration is hard to describe. I have never been at an organisation that can so consistently take all the facts and details it needs too make good logical decisions and be relied upon to then go in a completely different direction, or just not bother at all. I feel like I am swimming against the tide, all the time.

Which means I should probably leave but can't stomach another move just now, at least of my own volition. The job is cool, technically best I have had, its just the ambling infrastructure, forced crap policies and too many round pegs squeezed into square holes too far up the totem poll. I should do what most others do and keep my trap shut, but that, historically has been my folly.

Read a whole heap more of 'Belle de Jour' last night, which I used translation.com today to work out means 'Beautiful day'. I think thats lovely. Can't believe a lot of people think this is a hoax. The story is far too nuanced to be so, her loss of direction while casting about for a mate through the early part of 2003 and increasingly dry and darker posts at the futility of her search are far too natural and succinct to be anything other than real.

Writing frequently and honestly about your own life does very often bring home the truth of the whole, above the narrow focused day to day, week to week overcoming of individual obstacles. It can very often be depressing as this reality sinks in.

Reading the book though, has been inspiring, resulting in me dumping 3000 words to keyboard last night on a topic that will probably never see the light of day, certainly not under the banner of johniebg anyway.

Wrapped up at 2 as I had to be up and out the door for 7:30 the morning but aim to finish the book tonight. Great stuff.

Finally, keeping with the spirit of BdJ; six of us from the office went to the pub lunchtime, prior to my rant, celebrating a birthday. The barmaid did everything while pouring two pints of Guinness that winds me up about bar staff that just don't think or care, as follows;

Dont fill the glass so full that when you hand it to me there is Guinness streaming down the sides, over your hands and on the counter. Its just really unappealing.

Dont have any part of your hand inside the glass when handing it too me and if you do, dont leave it with your thumb imprint in the head. Have the decency to scrape off said imprint, refill and try handing it to me again.

Dont bang the glass down on the counter, no matter how much of a hurry you are in, it usually results in at least one of the above two

Remember I have paid for what you have just handed me, your not doing me a favour!

It can't be that difficult surely

Thursday April 13 2006 - Easter Beckons ...
In Sussex, if I look out of my skylight window I can see a lot of things. I am a top floor flat, on top of a hill. The southern reaches of the market town ebbs away towards the south downs into the horizon. We go from tightly packed subarban streets below and around to occassional pockets of smoke spewing houses the further the eye trails towards the coast. Spring is almost here and nature looks about set to celebrate, but not yet.

Being this high in a populated area, means you can see a lot of windows, especially with the trees so bare. Its unavoidable. You can see the shadows of life behind those shrouded, and blurred but colored forms behind the semi opaque and others clear as looking through glass itself. There are open kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, studies, photo studios and the people that go about their day in these spaces. A wife making the bed or in the kitchen, children running about or stationary on the living room floor, an ever changing glow reflected from their faces. A husband wonders about the house with a towelling robe, drinking coffee, disapearing, climbing stairs and then back into view as he closes the door of the bathroom and blue towelling becomes distorted, thank god, find another window to dwell on. I dont mean to look, its just there infront of me, like the roads and the trees, like the squirel perched on the bird feeder and the black dog sniffing about the street.

I often have a re-occuring feeling and a vision, have been, for as long as I can remember. Usually at night wondering about the house I will suddenly feel like there is something, someone standing next to me, malevolant, unseen. I usually turn and walk away from this while in the back of my mind the vision appears as barely formed vapour and drawing a large scimitar hacks off my head from behind. This can feel quite disconcerting.

Am off to Newbury via Bracknell in an hour and a weekend of decorating. I am in a rich vein of writing at the moment though, only the smallest tip of the ice burg is seen here. Belle de Jour was finished last night, a book with no discernable beginning, middle or end, just a small part of someones life. It is one of the best I have ever read. 'Julie and Julia' is being packed in a mo, and am packing the laptop so that, as the night hour passes that which is acceptable to the noise of decorating, I can tune in the MP3 player and sit down and read or write. Bliss.

Wednesday April 19 2006 - Easter past ...

Bank Holiday Friday and I was under the mistaken belief that my local chemist, the one with my badly needed prescription would be open. It of course was not. I decided as I was in town, to walk down the high street and found myself drawn towards Waterstones, which was open. I love bookshops, you can wonder about, have a read and browse. You never quite know what your going to come out with, but coming out with something is almost always a nailed on cert. On this occassion I came out with the Gospel of Judas (Escariot).

There have been quite a lot of Gnostic writings found in the last 100 years, and this one dates back to a 4th century copy of a text known to have existed in the early half of the second century. That makes it pretty old, probably written only 40 years after the Gospel of John we now have in the New Testament and roughly 70 years after the others. The Gospel of Judas is interesting for a key reason.

You may or may not know that Christianity is founded on the premise that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ aka The Messiah. There is heated debate as to just who's messiah this is, which we will ignore for the purpose of this discussion. Christians state two reasons above all else for Jesus claim as the messiah, please forgive my lack of theological finesse;

1) Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind and to reconcile us with god

2) Jesus resurection is a clear sign that there is salvation beyond this life and god exists

With this in the back of our minds then, we should also consider that Judas Escariot is mentioned 12 times in the New Testament. On each occassion the context does not cast him in a good light. Anyone that has been brough up in a Christian culture will have been taught Judas was a bad, bad man.

So the question scholars have been asking themselves for a long time is;

'If Christianity is defined by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, why is the man that handed Jesus to the authorities and set in motion the events that defined Jesus as Christ; the messiah, looked upon so unfavourably?'

The Gospel of Judas, only available to scholars since 2001, appears to have been written by Gnostic Christians. These Christians were somewhat theologically at odds with what we now call Orthodox Christians ('Catholic' their most common name known today). Gnostics did not believe Jesus to be the messiah but rather a divine spirit that actually left Jesus as he died. They did not believe in a resurrection. His death was a fulfullment of the spirits quest to escape this mortal life and horrid planet.

In the Gospel of Judas we get a story that tells us Jesus realised Judas to be special above his other disciples and saw that Judas might be able to help Jesus free himself. Jesus took Judas into his confidence, showed him his spiritual world and facilitated Judas handing him over to the Jewish authorities. Sounds crazy?

As mentioned this was written half a century after the Gospel of John and would have been as valid a theory on the true nature of Jesus at the time. Paul taught one type of Christianity, the Gnostics had their own. Documentation of the time indicates there were many others.

History though, only remembers the victors. Orthodox Christianity was founded on the death and resurrection of Jesus, built by Paul and adopted by the Roman Empire in the early 4th century. A position of strength from which it then set about removing all evidence of these other branches of Christianity. Think thats pure fiction? Consider the following, final three points;

1) The fact that we are only now finding these gnostic documents, almost all of which were copies created in the 4th century, is the result of their being extremely well hidden. From whom?

2) Although Jesus and Paul were Jewish, Jews in the main rejected Christianity. They simply did not believe Jesus to be their messiah. Early Christians were gentiles, mostly Greeks. There was one branch of Christianity however that were Jewish Christians. They were called the Ebionites. Their doctrine as documented by the early Orthodox Christian heresy hunters was actually closer to the original teachings of Jesus than that of their own. Closer to the original teachings of Jesus, how come?

3) Jesus taught that the world was about to end, the apocolypse was upon us and only by following his teachings would you attain salvation with god. This was also taught by Paul but as the 1st and 2nd centuries came to a close, Orthodox Christian leaders were finding the impending apocolypse an increasingly difficult sell. So you then got salvation of the soul when you died, not at the hands of the apocolypse.

What a great story!



Monday April 24 2006 - Some time in Birmingham


It never used to be like this. Birmingham has always been bursting at the seems with a rich mozaic of culture. Everything is there, in your face going about its life, occassionally crossing into yours. One minute you can be intent on avoiding the marauding group of gnome like hoodies, the next jostling for position with a geezer dressed in traditional african gear or standing in an elevator next to the immaculately groomed caucasion couple sporting carefully constructed hair, shades on a sunless day and head to toe Next ripoffs. Equally your as likely to be queued up behind some grungy, Marolyn Manson lookalikes as holding the door open to let through a couple of Catholic Nuns. I am not sure what people see when shoulder to shoulder with me and my mate, a couple of middle age nerds I suspect.

These days though everything seems a little brighter, the buildings are cleaner, the clothes are newer. The street corner talk isnt secretive and dark but spoken with a smile and enthusiasm, of life and not so much just surviving it.

There is a saying; 'I am alone, but not lonely'. I like it. There is something very comforting about long term friendship though. Sitting around the table on a Sunday lunchtime can be hugely good for the soul, soaking up the collective well being of those you seem to have known for as long as the decisions in your life have been your own. The wit and the constant natural laughter bond you together, jokes of the past and of the recent. At your and their expense, and those not present. Sometimes, I dont feel quite so alone.

Tuesday May 02 2006 - A Bank Holiday Weekend of decorating, a crush  and a night out
I am getting pretty bored of decorating. The laminate guy is theoretically on his hands and knees right now in my flat transforming the floors into the vision of my imaginations. I didnt get the bathrooms or any of the skirting board outwith the hallway done this weekend. The hallway is a troublesome room to do the skirting for. First off, as a hub for the rest of the house, it may be small but its got a lot of damn doors, more to the point, door frames. It took me a day and a half just to sand and paint the skirting for that one room all by itself. Which means the skirting for the living room, spare room, bedroom, and both bathrooms will have to be done after the floor is down. Nothing I can do about that now. I probably should not have gone to Brum last week. Such is life.

The one thing I have enjoyed about these weekends, with forced multimedia deprivation to rid me of any distractions, is how much writing I do in my mind. Its fantastic and fantastical the stuff I come up with. One day they will come up with a jack plug that connects directly into the synapses and allows you to record your thoughts onto a iPod or something. When that happens I will be churning out a book a month.

I have thought about lots of stuff over the weekend, but above all I remembered the value of a crush. When I was young (under 14) I used to fancy the socks off Jenny at school. She was a star pupil through the 5 years of comprehensive school and I used to go mushy inside just thinking about her. While walking home I would imagine precarious situations where she needed saving and I would rush in, dodging arrows and felling bad guys before sweeping her up onto my horse and rushing away with her in my arms. I had no idea what it was about her that I liked other than everything about her was magical, from her smile, the way she played the flute to the way she walked. It was brilliant.

The absolutely best thing about a crush was that if you kept the secret safe nobody could tell you she was out of your league, that she was already going out with someone or that your affection was misguided, innapropriate for some obscure reason or that you  were just plain stupid.

For me thats the value of a crush, if nobody knows your perfectly entitled to your little flights of fancy and can have the greatest of times.

I have been having these crushes all my life, on and off. The first one out of school was the girl in the chip shop, another the girl in the sandwich shop, another my 40 year old boss, some 20 years my senior, my ex-wife was an uncommonly realised crush. As I cut and rolled carpet, sanded down wood and laboriously made my way around the hallway saturday through sunday, I found myself realising the latest.

Unconciously the music playing on my MP3 changed from tub thumbing movie soundtracks to Sarah Brightman, Moby, Enya and Annie Lennox. Occassionally I had a little dance round the mostly empty rooms. Unspoken, while it lasts nobody can take away these flights of fancy, my imagination is my own realm.  

This one is of course innapropriate, the best ones are and will go unrealised. Crushes though are not sexual in any way and especially do not  involve lusting over body parts. A crush is about going a bit stupid on the inside when you think of someone. A crush is about the essense of what they are and how that makes you feel. There is no sadness at the thought it might never be realised because it is not meant to be. The finale to each of my scenarios now though has changed. Being allergic to horses and not being overly quick on my feet, dodging arrows and galloping into the horizon is out of the question.

Rather in a private moment she comes up to me and asks; 'Is it me?'

I hesitate for a few moments and looking each other in the eye, answer nervously 'Yes'.

She smiles, reaches out resting her hand around the back of my neck while I tenderly hold her face in my hand. We melt towards one another, a gentle kiss of those that have known love and lost it, have shed tears of loneliness in the dark watches of the night and have hoped not for someone to share life, but with which to live it.

Cool uh! Romantic fiction here I come.

Had a good night out in wokingham on saturday night. Five of us first had a few drinks, a meal in Pizza Express and then made our way to see Slither at the Showcase in Winnersh. Slither was excellent, gore, zombie trash with a good portion of humour starring the redoubtable Mr Nathan Fillion. After we headed back into Wokingham, where by chance we met up with two couples.

There is a certain dynamic that a couple, or a group of couples take to a night out. I am struggling to define it in my mind. Its about calm, your collective, which is not the same is your individual world. You talk about tidy couple type stuff, which usually means cursory conversations about the house, jobs to do, work, parents. If conversation is actually about your couple unit, its the cosy wedding plans or holidays which themselves are morphine to the dark seed of reality that lurks as yet unspoken in the home. Don't close your eyes it will not go away.

Usually though you talk about other couples, those not present of course, someone else and the troubles they are experiencing. Talking about other people as a couple is a defense mechanism, its someone else struggling not us, we are safe for now, babes.

As none of the people from our group that made it back into Wokingham are currently part of a couple we bring our own unique dynamic to a night out and generally not one that mixes well with the above, no matter how much you enjoy the company of the people individually. We should have sat outside, couples could have continued enjoying themselves without the proof of more failed relationships sitting the other side of the table.

As such the night out tailed off in the fun stakes but ended in classic style with me and Mr V. slumped on seperate sofas, snoring with unfinished whisky precariously balanced in our hands while Mulder and Scully argued over the likelyhood of corporeal possession.

Thursday May 04 2006 - 24 hours in Aberdeenshire
12:15 Yesterday. Inefficiently pack before leaving my Sussex apartment and traversing the 75 miles to Berkshire. I arrive at 13:35. Spent the afternoon preparing for today.

17:00 I left the office, jumped back into my car, headed towards Heathrow and the long stay car park. At 17:45 I parked up and walked the short distance to the bus stop. The sun is brilliant in the cloudless sky. Everything is either bathed in long shadows or a glorious orange glow.

A few minutes and the green bus has arrived and soon I am at terminal one. I fumble unsuccessfully with a 'quick' check in computer. I am handed an orange priority ticket by an attendant hovering in apparent expectation of my failure. The check in queue is short and with boarding pass firmly gripped in hand, am soon in the departures security queue. This one slightly longer. I can only imagine the purpose of the priority token was to allay any random outburst of anger. Departure security was traversed, those home boys in 737's have a lot to answer for.

I spend some time casting about for underpants which it seems nobody sells despite an abundance of sock sellers. Instead I buy some whiskey in duty free, before heading to gate eight of terminal one.

Anyone that has spent any time at gate eight will know its the southern most border of Scotland, or so you would think from the cacophony of sounds heading in both directions.

19:35 we boarded and were away into the sky just past 19:50. 85 minutes later we landed in Aberdeen and were almost immediately herded off the plane and straight through the airport terminal which is no more than 20 metres from front to back.

Through the terminal, out the other side and across the road. It looks exactly like I remember, Edinburgh, from the outside but a quick check; 'BAA Aberdeen' on the trolleys allays my fears.

There is a long line of taxis and a short queue, so in no time I am placing my bag in the back of an open boot before realising there is something missing. A brief apology to the driver and I head back into the terminal, locate baggage reclaim and wait for no more than 10 minutes before my grey samsonite alike suitcase lurches past and is retrieved. Back out the door, across the road, into the still short queue and away we go in the taxi down the road.

We talk about the granite city, the declining amount of oil, the price of oil and the short journey staple of life as a taxi driver.

21:45 I am checked in at the Brittania and herding a lost Ukrainian to his room. His confusion caused by the main elevator being out of action and the green arrows only generally pointing in the direction of the other elevator, the other side of the hotel. He happens to be in the next room to me although I don't know that at the time. After dropping him off, I spend two minutes trying to get into the wrong room. I realise the last two digits are 20 and not 30 and hope I didn't scare anyone.

My room is huge, bigger even than the Savoy although a lot less pleasing on the eye, or the nostrils. Smoke and detergent, lovely.

I dump the bags on the bed and fire up the computer. I get a weak signal from an unsecure wireless router and get to the web, slowly. I think it must belong to one of the houses across the road so I cant really complain. A quick check of local superstore opening times indicates they all closed 5 minutes ago, my quest for pants is at an end for the day.

22:30 I head down stairs and into the Village Bar which is by far the best smelling and pleasing on the eye this hotel has to offer, save for the pool maybe.

areyuseawayoafshurethemorrow?”Everyone seems determined to say whatever they have to say in under 1.5 seconds, no matter how much they have to say.

“Pardon?”I have just taken possession of my Guinness and am looking at a skinny geezer with a dark goaty and gold earings.

AreYuseAwayOafShureTheMorrow?

“Ahh! No I am here just for tomorrow”

oahh!

Everyone in the bar is not necessarily local but predominantly Scottish. Seems they are mostly all offshore the next day for a stint on the rigs. I have no idea why everyone is so friendly to this Englishman abroad, maybe its because they are unsure as to whether they will be cohabiting with me for the next few weeks or because everyone really is friendly. Regardless I spend the next hours in good company.

At midnight another geezer comes up to me. Older, thin, wizened and not much hair to speak of.

yussenglishaye?

“aye!”I also nod in the affirmative in case he no understands.

yussknowwaynerooonie?

I dont think this is meant as a question, but nod once again, more cautious.

heesapooftaandshagsgranniees!

“Pardon?”

WayneRooooniee! HeesApooftaAndShaggsGranniees

I consider the biological implications.

“ahhh! He's a boy alright”, I am beaming my best this is soo funny smile.

The geezer having said his piece grins as only a lifetime smoker can and turns back to his friends.

1:20 (ish) I sit on the sofa in my room watching Sky One. It occurs to me that Star Trek was rather better written than I ever gave it credit and that Stargate SG-1 most definitely was not.

8:15 this morning. I wake suddenly. Evidently the booked 8:00 wake up call didn't happen. A quick shower, 10 minutes pressing a warm lump of metal onto my shirt, packed and headed towards breakfast. This last cost me extra and the non wakeup call means I have 7 minutes to find the restaurant and eat before my lift arrives.

The waiter shows me to the table, he is eastern European with some certainty. As I am finishing my toast a girl across the way with a pronounced London dialect announces to said waiter she is Greek and is he from Naples? She repeats out load every first word for each sentence he replies. I'm confused but time is short.

In the car I am with CJ. CJ is a guy I worked with 13 years ago at Standard Life in Edinburgh. We have both been working at the bigOh for over two years but this is the first time we have actually worked, physically together in that time. I like CJ immensely. I think most people do. I enjoy this time, working together.

CJ and I arrive at the customer. The reason I am here is because things with their computers are causing some distress. Distress to 4,000 users to be precise. Well 4,000 users and one anxious director who signed the purchase order which resulted in all the above from 12:15 yesterday. I am charm personified, I think, it is not difficult these are nice people.

17:30 Problem sorted and director slaps my shoulder with gratitude and shakes my hand warmly. Ten minutes later I am in a taxi headed back to the airport. CJ left earlier, long drive. The sun is shining here, its beautiful in an open barren way.

17:55 I am mystified as to why I can check-in for the return journey on the outward journey if I then have to stand in the check-in queue to drop off my suitcase on the return. Apparently, so the girl at the desk said, its so those without bags don't have to queue. Ummn.

20:00 we take off, on time. I began writing this while waiting in the extremely compact waiting lounge and continue now surrounded by clouds and an ever darkening sky.

Heathrow appears below, a plethora of multi coloured lights. A young child behind asks her mum; “Is this Disney World?”.

The mother laughs and explains, while I smile but it is instantly tinged with sadness. I miss them so.

21:45 Baggage Reclaim. They are maybe mid to late twenties. He is bland. About my height, same mousy hair, over washed combats and a crumpled white shirt. She is petite, with straight ginger hair that passes her waistline. She is the antithesis to his bland, a mirage of colour through flared corduroy trousers and zipped up cardigan. She makes to move in close to him. Half way through wrapping her arms round his waist he steps out of the embrace, pointlessly to a motionless conveyor. So many moments, lost in time. I hope he realises before she grows out of it. I think I am tired.

Out into the world of jostling bodies moving in different directions and yellow signs pointing in directions I can't possibly go. Soon though out through the sliding doors and to the roadside. Waiting for the long Stay bus. The wait is short.

22:05 the barrier flips up and I ease my car after the signs marked, exit. These soon give way to signs for the M4.

22:50 I am a bit nervous. While I have been away a man should have been in my flat covering every floor surface with antique pine laminate. This could be the fulfilment of my vision but something has to have gone wrong, surely. Will I walk through the door and find all the laminate pointing in a direction I never imagined, will I be presented with concrete floors still unfinished or worse still not started. I turn the key in my front door, I hope.

23:58 I am sat on the floor, leaning against my living room wall, next to the fireplace. Legs are stretched out in front of me with my laptop balanced on my legs. Antique pine laminate stretches gloriously through the house. The guy has left a nice note, he hopes I will like the floor. I love it! I am so relieved. After I type these last few words I will close the laptop and go fetch my sleeping bag and sleep upon this floor, it will be as a feather mattress.

Sunday May 07 2006 - Bush on War
The Following is a recent quote from George Bush on the nature of war. This from an interview with a German newspaper.

"The Germans today simply don't like war... And I can understand that."

I think thats hilarious.

He also goes on to detail his most rewarding moment as the president of the United States;

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5lb (3.4kg) perch in my lake"

Taxi Pleease!?

Tuesday May 09 2006 - Dear Employer

Dear Employer,

You recently asked for candidates to attend the Moral focused 'People Management' focus group.

As I understand, you are holding these groups because of the abysmally poor response you have received from the 'engagement' surveys you love us to complete once or twice a year. In particular, the faith your employees have in their immediate management seems to be rock bottom. Apparently, even the Americans received an all time low score, but took solace in knowing what the UK engagement result was.

Being an employee that has been encouraged to give my opinion on such things, I volunteered for the focus group.

Unfortunately, I could not go to the meeting last Thursday as I was in Aberdeen. You will know that I was asked if I would go to Aberdeen based on my skill sets and had been recommended by managerA. Of course I said yes. 'customer, shareholders, employees'

The trip involved giving up two evenings of my time, travelling the breadth of the country and tackling an issue over a long day that the customer had been trying to fix for seven months. When I left, having solved their problem with a combination of experience and luck, they were extremely grateful and talking about upgrading, paying us more money! This may or may not come to be realised but it was a battle won for our company in an ever sapping war.

I used to manage. The people I worked for seemed to think I was pretty good at it. About 75% of the people that worked for me were dedicated and seldom failed me. The 25% your always going to get, I worked hard at working with them, not always successfully, often it was me, sometimes them.

If anyone in my team ever did anything above the call of duty, I would simply go over to them, thank them, good job well done. Employee engaged. Its not difficult.

I got back from Aberdeen, two days now. Not a word from my own manager; managerB. He sits about 25 foot across the way. No tap on the shoulder, cheers, good job well done. Engaged!

So I didn't go to the engagement 'people management' focus group, but I offer you this letter in my stead. It says about all I had to say.

 

Thursday May 11 2006 - Something about Manchester
At the time of writing I am a few days shy of 39, nearly at my 40th year. Its May the 11th.

The last two days have been spent in Manchester. I am here with Sellers. Sellers is a colleague, he is not a salesman, or called that, its just what I call him here. We stayed at the splendid 'Midland'. Freshly decorated, we could still smell the paint. My room is huge, his is tiny, that's funny. I am normally the one that gets the small room. Apparently Mr Rolls and Mr Royce first met here in the 'Midland'.

We arrived on Tuesday 9th May. This was also the date Roy Keane played his Manchester United testimonial at Old Trafford. They were playing Celtic. We wondered why there were so many blokes wearing Celtic tops on the train from Reading to Manchester. Now we knew. It turns out the 70 thousand capacity stadium is sold out.

We spent some time with the customer in the afternoon, as it would happen, in Old Trafford. Old Trafford from the city centre is a simple matter of catching one tram, its about 4 stops and no more than 10 minutes.

On the way back to the city centre the tram was busy, but not as packed as the one going the other way, bursting at the seams with despondent commuters and very happy green and white wearing men. As I got on the tram, I grabbed the rail above and popped my computer bag on the floor. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. He his young, small, I would say about 18. “Would you like my seat?”

I am speechless, I know I didn't sleep much last night, drove from Sussex at 5:45am and have travelled from Reading to Manchester, but! do I look like I need your seat!!? Unspoken. I sat down, more because it just seemed the thing to do. He stood in front of me. I had lots of questions for him, I considered beating the answers out of him. I had another mid-life crises during that 10 minute journey, is this where old age begins? At the end, I got up, tapped him on the shoulder and said “thanks”.

Manchester city centre at 5PM was a sea of green and white. Irish and Scottish voices, hailing cabs, leaning through car windows asking for directions. They stood arms linked outside bars, bouncing up and down chanting; keano! keeano!! keeeano!!!

There is a little boy, maybe 6. He is dressed almost identically to his dad, jeans, celtic scarf tied around his waist, wearing a celtic shirt. He is so excited that running around wildly is pointless. He just jumps up and down emulating his father, fit to burst, at the edge of the busy road. The proximity to the road seems to indicate his mother is not close, but I hope she is here, somewhere. There are not many women to be seen. His father, lager in one hand, other arm wrapped around the shoulders of another, keeano! I would guess he is 4 to 5 hours from passing out. Manchester won 1 –0. I often wonder what happened to the little boy.

Later, almost mid-night. We leave a Chinese restaurant. I don't know the score, so I ask the guy coming the other way on the stairs. He is with another guy wearing a Celtic shirt. He has an Irish accent I just do not understand, despite his words seeming coherent. I do notice his eyes are lifeless, cold. In that wordless moment something about him passed through us, the other 5 guys with us stopped, tensed. I feared for a sudden burst of violence. Fortunately the moment passed and I spent the first two hours of May 10th in the hotel bar with Sellers.

Wednesday 17 May 2006 - Dan Browns 'The Da Vinci Code'
As we sit just one dawn away from the release of the movie adaptation of Dan Browns the 'Da Vinci Code' I thought I would say a word or two. ed actually its 858 words but stay with us

First off on the original book. I read this just over 18 months ago. I found all of the puzzles, the Holy Grail, the concept of Mary Magdalene, the proposed fate of Jesus and the codes within paintings hugely intriguing.

I thought the story he used to deliver all this to be stilted, formula and all a bit; been there seen it done it. At the time I also read 'Angels and Demons' as well as 'Digital Fortress'. The former of the two is his best book to date for my mind although the ending a little way out there.

What I absolutely loved about the 'Da Vinci Code' was that people for the first time in as long as I can remember were talking about the origins of Christianity during lunch at work. What is more gratifying is that it rubbed the Catholic Church up the wrong way and that is always a very good thing.

Faith in modern religion is something I realised I didn't have during my second decade, although it took another two to realise what I did believe. Dan Browns Da Vinci though brought to me a realisation that I didn't know within my own mind whether his story or that of my birth religion, Christianity had any more legitimate claim to the truth about Jesus.

I do now of course. So as you listen and read what will no doubt be vitriolic Catholic rejection of Browns story over the next few weeks, consider these few salient points;

  1. To this day we know next to nothing for sure about Jesus other than that he lived, preached and was crucified a criminal. Crucifixion was a very common form of punishment in the time. Anything else about Jesus is up for grabs.

  2. The stories of Jesus used by Christianity to substantiate their claims for him being a messiah (a savior) and of his life started shortly after his death. These were passed between generation, through mutliple languages entirely via word of mouth for over 30 years. The stories started in hebrew but were first recorded to written word in Greek.

  3. Everything else we do know about Jesus is told to us in the New Testament, these stories are told in the gospels. The gospels were written 30 to 70 years after the death of Jesus based on the word of mouth stories mentioned above. There is not one gospel that does not contradict the other. Get a bible and see for yourself.

  4. There were many Christian 'churches' formed based on the word of mouth stories in the two centuries that followed the death of Jesus. Most of them agree on his death, almost all of them disagree either on whether he was resurrected or the circumstances thereof.

  5. What we now call the 'Catholic' church was the faction of Christianity adopted by the Roman empire, most think because it happened to be the largest church in Rome at the time. The fact that the resurrection is an accepted, and celebrated today is simply a consequence of this.

  6. Once adopted the Catholic church set about destroying all other instances of Christianity, which was not difficult to do with the force of Rome behind it

  7. Other than that it happened to be adopted by the Romans there is no evidence to suggest that the Catholic church better represents the known teachings of Jesus. In fact it has changed many of these to substantiate its claims which have since been undone by historic analysis.

  8. The fact that the Catholic Church is so institutionalised is the result of 1,500 years of plotting, power mongering, war and genocide of the scale that makes Hitler look like an incompetant beginner. Genocide? Check out your history of the Crusades that encompasses the 11th and 12th century for starters, if you need more give me a shout. Is it relevant that it happened 1,000 years ago? Well would what Hitler did be any less relevant? You decide for yourself!

  9. Mary Magdalene is not once referred to as a prostitute at any time in the New Testament. This is a story that was created to demonstrate the low standing of women by the Catholic church and that they are the root of original sin aka Eve.

  10. It is considered that Jesus was actually funded and followed in the main during his life by women

  11. Jesus did not consider himself Christian, a messiah and most definitely not Catholic. It does seem he had 'King of the Jews' scrawled above his cross. Nobody knows why, if they tell you otherwise they are guessing. Common belief is that he announced himself to the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem as 'The king of the Jews'. Incensed they handed him to the Romans, hence the name above the cross apparently mocking him. But as I said even this is devised by reading between the lines of the largely different passion stories of the Gospels.

  12. There seems no doubt that Jesus was an enigmatic preacher, but for someone who's name was used to define two thousand years of culture, he is not mentioned once in any writings of the time. His very committed followers are documented occasionally in the centuries that followed.

My point? Just because Christianity, in particular the Catholic church are institutionalised does not mean they have any better claim to know the truth about Jesus than Dan Brown, they rely on YOUR ignorance.

The doctrine of the modern Church is a much wider and detailed work of fiction than Brown, you or I could ever devise. The sooner we look up and actively get to making up our own minds the better.

Footnote: Thankfully the Catholic Church does not weald the same power now as it did 500 years ago. The 16th Century being a time, not that different from the 1,000 proceeding it when Catholic Church leaders would actively hunt down and butcher anyone that did not agree or follow their beliefs.

Finally, you will probably have noticed the lack of anything even slightly humerous in this post. If a hilarious slant on this is something you need right now then go visit BettyBowers!.

Monday 22 May 2006 - Who Am I? - Realising You Don't Know!

The realisation of personal identity is not always a given or something that comes to us easily. We often have to fight hard against the ideals and faith systems we were imprinted with as children, which seldom these days represent the belief system we grow into. I realised I had absolutely no idea who I really was at the age of thirty five. This realisation jettisoned me on a journey of discovery that is ongoing to this day. I do not expect that I am vastly different from most that have to endure the painful metamophosis that allows us to truly realise our adult self. My process for completing this journey is documented here.

Tuesday 23 May 2006 - Sexual Awareness

Had a recollection today of the time, circa the age of 15, that I suddenly realised it was not just celebrities that had breasts. This essay charts that realisation and the pitfalls of then realising a dream: laying my hands on a couple. You can read it here.

Saturday 27 May 2006 - The Sparrow

I think most little boys have a sad tale to tell about the time they found a wounded bird and against all the odds, tried to save it. You can read mine here.

Sunday 28 May 2006 - Who Am I - Faith Identity

Continuing on from the the first part of the 'Who Am I - Realising you don't know' essay this explores the impact the faith systems of society and our parents can have on emerging minds and can be read as part of the whole 'Who ami I?' essay here.

Monday 29 May 2006 - This England
Looking out of my window again. Top floor flat, top of a hill, in rural Sussex. I am not going to be here for long now. It beautiful. Its spring, end of May, probably summer. I was not really that good with the seasons.

Its Bank Holiday Monday. The day has been a combination of torrential rain and overcast skies. Right now its sunset and the golden sun reaches out across the whole countryside. Its so beautiful, did I say that already?

I wish I knew the names of tree's I could tell you exactly what sat where, but I don't. I can only describe them.

There are trees everywhere, thin branches and small leaves, high majestic trunks with branches fanning out in all directions, too far to see the leaves but they are definitely green. There are round trees, tall and thin and those naked, save for a modest smattering of leaves after the attentions of a man and his chainsaw. Wherever you look there are trees and in these every conceivable shade of green, even more so with the suns golden fingers caressing each leaf and exposed branch. In between these trees, dotted frequently are 20th century houses, two up, two down. Chimneys everywhere. Its warm, but some emit smoke and others the haze of heat. That confuses me a bit, isn't the heat meant to be inside?

The brickwork cast against the brilliant shades of green is startling, natural red, brilliant painted white and occasionally a touch of marigold for good measure.

Away in the distance the land slopes away towards the south downs, a myriad of tree tops, every shade of green in the sunlight interspersed with the occasionally church spire. I know there are a hundred villages between here and the downs but apart from the churches not one can be seen.

I know this scene plays out across Europe, but not for the first time I think to the beauty of this England, my country, for which I love for all its ills.

Tuesday 30 May 2006 - Haditha
Top

So we hear that there are a bunch of American soldiers to be Court martialled for attrocities in Haditha. Apparently after their convoy was attacked they went on a rampage and killed 24 civillians including, shock horror gasp, a two year old child!!

Have you ever heard a story that plays more on your opinions of Americana?

The fact that the BBC's premier news reporter John Simpson speaks in terms of their being guilty in a newscast before the trial!?

If there is one thing I have learned, if the BBC clearly detail for you the events of something in such decisive concepts, use words like 'moments lapse', 'retaliation' before a trial, then the very first thing we need to do is start reading between the lines and looking elsewhere for more information.

Tuesday 6 June 2006 - Summaa in Morrison's
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I am in Morrisons. Its bit like Tesco's and how Asda used to be but for my mind not so good.

I don't often come here but I am hungry and cannot be bothered with the traipse to Sainsbury's in Newbury.

Almost the first thing I hear as I wonder past the cucumber and sprouts is;

“summaaa” Summer is a lovely name, I think. Spoken here by her mother it sounds like a cheap trinket at a market.

Everywhere I go, all I can here is this chalk board voice ruining something beautiful. It gets to the point, as I wonder down the aisles that I parody the voice, barely audible. I rasp out after each time; 'summaaaaaaaa' emphasising all that is wrong.

You probably would not hear me doing this of course unless you happened to be standing right next to me. As such it was that as I stood locked into my parody, deciding on which cheese singles to get I became aware or twin holes burning in the back of my head.

I tend to take on life with a smile on my face. Its my own little shield to all the unexpected things it will throw at me. These days the smile on my face is wider than it has been in almost as long as I can remember. This is fortunate.

As I turn the first thing I am aware of is that he is no less than 6'2 wearing a white sleevless t-shirt. His arms look like a string bag of walnuts and they are covered in tattoos, historically my luck would dictate these are special forces tattoos but I have no idea.

Its amazing what can happen if you smile. His face transformed from menace to gleaming eyed humour in a split second. As he walked past he actually slapped me on the shoulder.

I headed straight towards the till, knowing that if I stayed we would meet in every subsequent aisle and that would have ruined the moment. I forgot my Nimble, had to go to Sainsbury's anyway.

Tuesday 18 July 2006 - A building labelled 'Doctors Surgery'
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Having just finished reading Jean-Paul Satre's 'Nausea' I spent some time viewing the world through sharply focused existential eyes. This essay is result of one particular visit to the Doctor's and an observation on the wide cross section of humanity you find in such places. It is a little different but I like it and you can read it here.

Monday 20 June 2006 - Making indecent photographs of Children!
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Sat in my local barbers I read a news article on the charges brought against Chris Langham for 'making indecent images of children'. I then turned the page and was stunned to see a picture of a 7 month pregnant 12 year old wearing nothing more that a crop top and tracksuit bottoms, a bare belly protruding from the page like a trophy above headlines that gloryfied the fact she was the youngest pregnant 'women' in the UK. I made me very angry and the results of the subsequant research I did into finding out exactly what 'making an indecent image of a child' really means are detailed in an essay which you can read here.

Wednesday 26 July 2006 - Life Update
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Despite a large number of essays that have appeared here in the last few months, there hasn't actually been much in the realm of updating on the life of Potskie. Not that there has been a huge influx of 'what are you doing Johnie?' type emails, but thought I would put down a mid year bookmark so I can at least place some of the events.

I finally got back to Newbury and moved into my shiny, freshly decorated flat. That was kinda circa the beginning of June. There is still the detrious of a previous life, the Suffolk life, but it is slowly dwindling as I sparodically foist my old stuff on eBay addicts.

Life also took another significant turn just after I got back. I met a female. Not just an ordinary one, there has been kissing and the meeting of minds and stuff. There is so much I could say here right now, but it wont sound right, I have tried. I do expect that over time you will hear more. Its amazing.

Another significant moment in Potskies life transpired with the reading of Jean-Paul Sartre's 'Nausea'. It will probably be the book that goes on to shape my thought processes and motivations for the next decade, so significant is that which it contains. I do not want to paint myself as some interlectual but it is just the right book at the right time in my own evolution. If your unsure about which I speak there is an essay written in my blog this year titled 'Who Am I? - Religious Identity'. At its end I pose a number of questions and detail my answers at that time. If you relate to these questions then you will probably have already read or would appreciate Nausea.

Running parallel with all this has been my writing. I decided circa April that I would begin and finish a short story, one of three. It has been quite interesting. So far I have finished 5 episodes of the first short story which can be found here. It has been an interesting journey. I had never written fiction before, just a whole bunch of stuff about me! If you do read the first 5 episodes I think you will see how my writing, just over this short period of time has been evolving.

Saturday 12 August 2006 - She opened the door (Erotica)
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I wondered, could I write erotica using just accepted language, without any sexually explicit references! I think I have, but it is what it is, so if you do not want to read such things, this might be one to skip by.


Friday 04 August 2006 - Deconstructing the perfect day!
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Having been married myself although a long time ago, one might consider it churlish for me to write a deconstruction of modern marriage, but if we can't reason with a voice of experience, what is there to reason with? My marriage was the fairytale rustic village church wedding, almost entirely at the want of the female participant in my marriage, and therein lays the problem. When the bells have stopped tolling, the dress is folded in its box and the wedding and honeymoon pictures and videos are stashed under the stairs, what are you going to do to beat that ultimate high for a couple? The truth: more often for the female who has dreamed of that day most of her life, is not much. You can read the essay here.

Monday 14 August 2006 - Guilty Collections

Collections are a pleasure of the conscious. Do not feel guilt by their tongues, of those that deprive themselves for the good of false icons and constant strif. Revel in this passion. For it is a fleeting spotlight of your whole that one day you will wonder at. At the very least it will be part of what you are and not what you wish you could have been.

Monday 18 September 2006 - Starfury & Serenity3
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Well, that went well. Did something last weekend I never did before, in as much as I travelled to the Thistle Hotel, Heathrow and spent two days with a whole bunch of like minded geeks at Serenity3. We met some of the stars from Firefly and Serenity, queued to have pictures taken with them and queued to get their autographs. Some, myself included entered a fancy dress competition and paraded in front of nigh on 700 people, including the shows cast and then danced the night away.Taken out by the monk

For those of you that are unaware, Firefly and Serenity respectively are a cancelled TV show and not much watched movie. The core of the show concerns a group of people trying to make their way through life on a cargo space craft 500 years in the future.

As a kid I watched the original Star Trek and did Star Trek Next Generation consistently while living in Edinburgh as a young man. Occasionally since I have briefly dabbled in the other series and stuff like Stargate. I never could though, get into the whole fanboy thing, that something special about these shows just never took me.

A man called JayneNow I could explain this is because I am perfectly normal, my mind is relatively stable and there is nothing that the shows offer me that makes up for some void in my life. You probably should not believe me.

What I do love about this whole Firefly thing is the way it makes me feel about life. I suppose it re-affirms a certain outlook I have on existence and the futility of everything other than what you achieve and do yourself. Its about getting through life and the only thing that matters is what you make of it.

My she look so happy!There were many memories that will stay with me for a long time, maybe for all. There was the fact that me and my mate had booked a room each but when we got there they had put us in single room with twin beds that sat right next to each other. This room that was so hot with just a single desk fan twirling from side to side offering occassional relief. There was the ordained preacher, mother of two that hooked onto my mate practically the moment we walked through the hotel door. There was or course the surreal feeling of standing next to Kaylee, Inarra, Badger, Niska, Simon Tam and Mrs Reynolds while having my photo taken. Yes, of course I do realise these are real people and these are not their real names, but I can spell these and dont have to look up IMDB to check whether 'Morrena Baccharin' is how you spell the name of the actress that played Inarra.

Above all I think what will stick was walking out in front of 700+ people dressed as Wash. The applause and shouting was deafening. I strode out, cocked the tiny gun I had as a prop from 'War Stories', the applause rose by decibals and then strode round to the section where the stars of the show were sat. Two things happened in exact sequence. First I caught sight of my beaming face in the 30 foot high screen projecting the images to the very back of the auditorium and then of Mark Sheppard, the geezer who played badger. He was on the edge of his seat, mouth open wide, laughing and applauding. I couldnt imagine anything I was doing could result in such rapture but was willing to go with the moment. I turned back to the audience, cocked the gun once more, posed and then with the widest grin, strode off the stage. Amazing.

So then, for a few brief hours on Saturday night, people from all walks of life dressed up, revelled in just being and had a great, great time in the company of complete strangers. Hoorah! I love being me.

Friday 5 October 2006 - Reading Lolita in Tehran - Book Review
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Recommended via a book club this is not something I would ordinarily have read, not because of the subject matter but simply because I would never have come across it.

The story is a mix of biographical tale and book critique that works extraordinarily well. The critique is cleverly woven into the story as these books were part of the authors life (English Lecturer) in Iran's capital, Tehran during the eighties and nineties.

Despite the jaw slackening trauma it often describes, the absolute beauty of this story is in its detail of humanity. It strips away cultural boundaries, religious imprinting, racism and bigotry and shows us that beneath all this we are human. Regardless, the majority of us have the same hopes, desires, fears and wants.

The great plus in addition to this are the books and authors she parallels through her life experiences. Great Gatsby, Lolita, Pride and Prejudice, Daisy Miller, Washington Square, Invitation to a Beheading. These uniformly held dusty boring images in my mind but are brought to life here, so much so I am almost through reading all the books she details through the story. Even if you have read some of them before her style of critique brings elements to life in a way never imagined the first time.

Despite being an avid reader, this book written by an Iranian women has taught me a little about life and led me to these great authors and books, showed them for something I had not realised and jettisoned me on a whole new dimension for understanding literature.

Pro's - Well written window onto a culture we know little of, a passionate voice for all literature, a discourse for humanity.

Con - The story can jump about a little.

Highly recommended.

Monday 22 October 2006 - Road Trip
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The premise was to jump into my car accompanied by the irrepressibly optimistic and boundlessly patient Prideesh, and spend the first of two weeks touring this great sceptred isle, primarily the northern reaches: Stratford Upon Avon, Warwick, Windermere, Ambleside, Holy Island, Lindesfarne and Edinburgh. The second week was to be spent shacked up in some remote cottage outside Fort William with great access to long walks and a local pub. Fort William being some 90 miles and three hours north of Glasgow for those still with us, at the base of Ben Nevis to be precise.

The roadtrip was a plan fulfilled encompassing Oct 9 thru Oct 21, covered 1476 miles and 22 hours of driving, of which most took place in the first week - it felt like we did 140 miles and spent three hours driving. It was probably up there with the greatest holidays I have ever enjoyed and I feel the need to tell you all about it, well at least the first week as it was the given task of Prideesh to journal the second week for which there is currently a sad lack of produced output. We live in hope.

Read the full journal here.

28 October 2006 - Day in the Life of...
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Idle minds. I was trawling through Great Writing forums and out of curiosity took a peek to see what Lazy Writers theme was for November. Think to be honest I raised my eyebrows, there were two. 'November 5' (Ed: which ended up being the genesis for 'Geordie') and 'Day in the Life of'.

By the time I got home on Tuesday night I was thinking about how I could turn the 'Day in the life of' completely on its head, by the time I was packing the dishwasher I was thinking 'first person' and literally spent every hour of that night restless in bed mapping out the whole damn story. I slept for 1.5 hours which is where the core theme comes from. By the time I was out the shower on Wednesday morning I could hear Mr Nunn chatting away in my head. By 3AM Saturday, driven mostly out of a desire to get Mr Nunn out of my head, I had over 6000 words and tears on my cheeks.

Occasionally something extraordinary appears on the page and you almost can't believe it was born at the tips of your own fingers.

I hope you enjoy, it is entirely fiction and you can read it here.

30 October 2006 - Geordie
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Sometimes something inside really can ache, not so much emotionally but it gnaws away at you and the only way you can ease or purge yourself of this ache is to write it down. This short story which you can read here, is mostly fiction but as with many such things there is an element of truth.

9 November 2006 - The Long Walk
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The premise for this short story which you can read here was for no more than 500 words and a nefarious act undertaken and dialogue to justify or at least explain the perpetrators reasoning's for this act. I don't know why but within a very short period of time I had the idea of explaining the path and thoughts of a suicide bomber, I suppose it was topical. Two days later I had this.

It is a little unnerving but at the end of the day humans are humans, we have social, family and religious doctrine layered onto our personalities but at the very core we all have the same core instincts and that is where I came from for this, I hope it makes you think at least.

19 November 2006 - Dancing to the beat of 16 hearts
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Dancing to the beat of 16 hearts is a one off short that can you can read here. It fits somewhere in the future time line of the world currently being created in the Pathfinder stories I am slowly writing. You won't be able to find the pathfinder story's anywhere on this site as of the above date as none of these are finished, this stands alone as a whole though.

I wanted to try and write something that would progress me towards writing something of book quality, trying to make it read as accomplished as my present skills would allow.

This was huge fun to write, including choreographing across multiple notepads and acting out large portions to understand the semantics of movement.

It began while looking at a Luis Royo's poster, although none of the artist's signature monsters make an appearance in this. We have here just 16 men and one rather special little female. While mortal and human, there is considerably more to her. This is alluded to in the text but not directly, just look for nouns that are also Greek mythology characters.

This is me writing with all I currently have in the third person medium, which seems so much more difficult after several forays into 'first person'.

Feedback at the time of writing has been very good on the front of visualisation, structure and rhythm of prose although it has fairly a fairly non-stop pace.

There is a full 'making of dancing essay' in the 'arry' section on the left menu. I would recommend reading the story first if you plan on reading the notes as they contain spoilers.

I am very pleased with this in its context of my writing evolution, I hope you at least find this entertaining.

30 December 2006 - 34 and Forty Three
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34 and Forty Three is a short story you can read here. I am not really sure where it all came from, the heart I think. It is an attempt at Magical Realism that having read 187 pages from '100 Years of Solitude', I just sat down and started writing with the idea of a child with a 'third eye' in mind. Over the course of 12 nights over four weeks it became the hardest thing I have written in all aspects of creativity, structure, imagination, pace and punctuation; as such it has also been the most rewarding.

While; 'Look into my eyes' will probably be the most precious thing I ever write, because it was the very first that made me think I could write; A Day in the life of ... Matt Nunn, post Lolita and Great Gatsby will be treasured as a realisation that I might actually be good at writing; 34 & Forty Three may be the perfect way to end the sixth year of this twenty first century, for its beauty in hope.

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