• Four do Rugby

    Ireland-v-England

    Assuming that I can work out this scheduling posts malarkey, then as this post comes out, I will be at Twickenham watching England take on Ireland in the Six Nations. The photo above comes from the Daily Mirror report on last year’s game.

    I’ll be watching the game with three friends.

    There is Conchita, a bearded Englishman living in Dublin, CLD, a Welshman who splits his time between South West England and Warsaw and Tone – an Englishman abroad. Vilnius, last time I checked.

    Add in me, a Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish mix-up in Southern England and we are quite the motley crew. We all knew each other in Prague – we played rugby together, we drank together, and to a certain extent we grew up together. In fairness, Conchita and I may have a way to go on that front.

    Conchita is flying over on Friday and staying here with us, while CLD and Tone arrive on Saturday morning. They have booked a hotel for Saturday.

    I daresay Conchita and I may have managed a couple of glasses of wine on Friday night. The long-suffering Mrs L almost certainly had an evening shaking her head as we talked nonsense and drank wine, lots of wine. Within about an hour of being each other’s company Conchita and I will have speech patterns will so similar as to be indistinguishable one from the other. It’s quite spooky.

    The Four are gathering for a spot of lunch up near Twickenham, five or so hours before kick-off. What could possibly go wrong? (That is very much a rhetorical question.)

    Once we have been fed and settled into some hop-based beverages, we will exchange some banter on the France Wales match of the previous evening. Then we will watch Scotland take on Italy in Rome. A few years ago Conchita and I took the precaution of learning the words of the Italian anthem. The thought of being caught short in a singsong was just too much for two front-row forwards to bear. I daresay that we will not be the only ones singing all of the anthems.

    Before the main event begins, we will have made one hundred new friends. Any supporting England will be known as Rupert, and all supporting Ireland, as Mick. Tradition is Tradition. Our voices will be hoarse from singing (and the odd hop-based beverage) and we will be ready for the big match.

    I have mentioned this before here. Rugby is a pretty special game.

    Of course – I may be completely wrong. We may have had a terrible time. Writing this post in advance may have been a stupid thing to do.

    But I doubt it.

    On Sunday morning, the four of us will be saying, “I’m too old for this.”

     

  • Writing Tools

    IMG_0050

    Writing, at least for me, involves quite a lot of sitting around doing all manner of things that are not writing.

    At times, I can be a world-class procrastinator. Yes, I can do ‘the gazing at a blank page’ thing. I’m even getting better at the tortured artist look, although Margaret still regards me suspiciously and asks whether I am about to fart.

    However – in addition to these basic techniques, there are more advanced methods. My latest is a deep need to make sure that I have the right tools.

    I have always had a bit of a thing for stationery, my inner geek has always been lurking just below the surface.

    This geek has been encouraged into the open by my new writing buddy Amanda.

    We ‘met’ on Twitter (how hip am I?) at #writingchat.

    A writing buddy is an essential aid to the aspiring writer. More importantly, a writing buddy saves the friends and family of the aspiring writer an enormous amount of boredom. I can now ask “Do you think the three act structure will work here?” or “How do you feel about third person limited?” without being greeted by the electronic equivalent of tumbleweed.

    Amanda is on the cusp of releasing a book. In fact, you can pre-order the physical paperback version right now. Just click HEREFollow the instructions and you can even get a discount on the cover price. Go! Have a look right now. Go on. I’ll wait…

    Welcome back. I hope that you have ordered the book. If you are electronically inclined, you will be able to pick it up soon on Amazon, Kobo and all those good places.

    Amanda also keeps a very nice BLOG where you can find some proper writing. While you are there, sign up for updates. Come to think of it, while you are here – sign up for updates too. It really means a lot to us writer-types to know that people are reading.

    Recently, Amanda and I got chatting about pocket notebooks. I daresay that one day, I’ll tell you all about my notebooks – but to cut a long story short, Amanda took it upon herself to make me the notebook cover that features in the picture. It’s a beautiful soft leather.

    Isn’t it gorgeous?

  • Swimming

    Swimming Walrus

    In a preemptive comment, I can confirm that the picture is not in fact of me. It is an image from a You Tube clip posted here by Heinrich Eggenfellner. Although, there is a striking likeness in a certain light.

    Earlier this month I posted about my first, and last, spinning class.

    Wisely, I am pursuing an exercise regime more appropriate for a man of my age and size. I am walking the dog, playing golf and swimming. Usually not at the same time. I am even paying some attention to what I eat and drink. Shocking, I know.

    To call me a strong swimmer would be a little inaccurate. Alright, it would be entirely inaccurate. Rather than powering through the water like our tusky friend above, I sort of float aggressively. There is forward motion, in much the same way that glaciers do move, but you would be hard pressed to actually perceive it. You may have experienced something similar before. Lying on a beach in the morning, you might catch sight of a large tanker out to sea. It appears stationary, yet when you pack up at the end of the day, it has most definitely moved across the horizon. Watching me swim is like that, but with more splashing.

    I try to tuck myself into half a lane (it gets busy where I swim) and float along without causing too much harm. I always have a cheery smile for the pensioners as they pass me, walking sideways through the water. I try to keep out of the way of the proper swimmers as they power up and down with designer clothes pegs on their noses and lycra condoms on their heads.

    As the traffic passes me on both sides, I console myself that even going this slowly, I am getting some exercise, moving my muscles and burning some calories. I also have plenty of time to people-watch.

    There is one fellow that is fascinating me at the moment. Like me, he is a fat boy. I see him when I am at the pool in the evenings. Usually, he emerges from the sauna, hot and flustered.

    He sits himself down on a wooden lounger and pulls out a book, which he reads for ten minutes or so. (Almost a full length of the pool for me). Then he rinses himself in the shower.

    This next part is the part that mystifies me. He then puts on a pair of flippers. Full-blown, honest-to-goodness scuba diving flippers. Then on goes the clothes-peg and the goggles. Into the pool, three kicks, two arm strokes and he bangs his head against the far wall. Then he turns around and does it again.

    The pool is only twenty metres long. He looks like some sort of demented pin ball being fired at the far wall, before bouncing back.

    Why would someone do that? Go to the pool to do some exercise, then put on flippers to avoid doing the exercise.

    Don’t get me wrong – if that’s what he wants to do, then fine by me.

    But why?

    Perhaps I should ask him.

    If I time it right, I can surely outrun a fat guy who is wearing flippers?

     

  • Ugly Social Media

    Click on this if….

    No. Stop it.

    Gradually, I am overcoming the dramatic gastric impact of Spinning, which is a great relief to the dog and many local residents.

    However, I am increasingly annoyed by the tactics some organisations are using to garner positive social media statistics. You know the posts that I mean;

    “Like this page if you believe that a soldier who saved his platoon, sacrificing his life should be honoured while this malicious paedophile should not!”

    Seems a bit of a no-brainer.

    Then you look to see that the post originates from a page called “Lovely fluffy British folk”. Curious fellow that I am, I look at this page.

    It turns out that the page should more accurately be called;

    “Racist, xenophobic dimwits? You have found your online home.”

    Many of these ‘like-farm’ posts are using images of the military to lure people to anti-immigration or anti-muslim organisations. The implication being a polar relationship. “Military Good, Military fight Bad. Immigration Bad. Muslim Bad.”

    I thought I might take a moment to relate to you an anecdote.

    4-British-Army-Getty

    (Getty Image taken from the Independent website)

    I live adjacent to Salisbury Plain, home to Stonehenge and essentially an adventure playground for the British Army. I play golf (badly) at Tidworth Garrison Golf Club, which as the name might suggest, has strong military connections.

    Tidworth is a garrison town.

    On Tidworth high street, I went for a haircut in a busy barbers. Three barbers were working and four more customers were waiting. I’m fairly certain I was the only non-serving military man there. I was the only one not in camoflauge for a start.

    The standard cut seemed to be, “number 2 back and sides and short tidy on top please Kemal.”

    You see the barbers were all Muslim Turks. Really.

    Immigrants too. Good heavens.

    Please don’t associate images of the British military with stupidity, ignorance or prejudice. They’re way too good for that.

    Incidentally – best haircut I’ve had in ages.

  • Spinning

    Cycling_introshot

    What an impact! The amazing effect of Spinning.

    Along with many others, I have made my annual donation to the bank account of a local gym. This year, as last, I am determined that my payment will not be a donation, but an advance payment for more than one hundred life-enhancing, health-giving visits.

    Brimming with New Year enthusiasm, I booked myself in for Spinning.

    I had a broad understanding of the concept, a group class, with everyone on specially designed exercise bikes, cycling hard and fast to loud music. Being at the “so fat you should be dead” end of the Body Mass Index, I took the precaution of booking a beginner’s class. The wife came along, I suspect to administer CPR if required.

    The instructor was sweet. She took the time to ensure that we were correctly setup on the bikes.

    “It takes practice. You probably won’t be able to stand on the pedals today, but you will get used to it. Just do what you can.”

    She eyed me with a combination of fear and concern. Quite probably, she checked her liability insurance.

    I did try to stand a few times; after all I used to mange on my pushbike as a kid. On each occasion, I managed to suddenly stop the wheels turning and jar my back. Ultimately, I elected to remain sitting, varying the resistance as instructed by the little Miss Positive over her radio mike.

    When not exclusively focused on trying to breathe, I concocted multiple scenarios where Police were mystified as to how the gym trainer had died in such cruel and unusual ways.

    After thirty minutes, I stood on legs made of marshmallow, making half-hearted efforts to stretch various bits of my anatomy, while trying to find a dry bit of t shirt with which to wipe the sweat from my eyes.

    As I thanked the torturer, our eyes met, both of us certain that we would never meet again.

    Mrs L had enjoyed things no more than I. Curiously, she could stand, it was the sitting on the saddle that, quite literally, was the biggest pain for her.

    We drove home, making plans for a late supper. Once there, I needed to get something from the garage, so the dog and I went out of the back door and pushed open the metal up and over garage door. I believe that my heart rate was returning to normal.

    As my body recovered from the unexpected assault of the class, I felt the familiar tightness in my abdomen. Pleased that I was in the sanctuary of the garage and could escape the approbation of Mrs L, I leaned slightly to the left.

    Well!

    The garage door shook on its bearings, the dog fainted and I am almost certain that a platoon of infantry exercising on Salisbury Plain dived for cover.

    Nobody had mentioned that effect of spinning in the brochure.

    I resuscitated the dog and went back into the house. Mrs L eyed me with suspicion.

    “So, going to Spinning next week?”

    “No, love. It makes me fart.”