Friday, 25 January 2013

January the month of lost celaners and mistaken deathdentity

January – the traditional month where the world and its dog get into a complete lather and convince themselves that they either need to give up something or start something. This can involve

- rushing off to the gym,

- giving up alcohol,

- detoxing etc.

Having given up alcohol some 30 years ago, religion about the same time and bread about six months ago* I was struggling for things to give up. Apparently giving up soup and vegetables doesn't count , especially if you don’t like them. So after much over indulgence over the festive period this years January resolution was back to the gym with a vengeance…..

* Please note I will accept bread (only as bread and butter pudding) and alcohol in cooking – as I choose to believe the cooking process takes out the bad effects of both. Despite being dragged up a Catholic** I draw the line at religion and will not take it even when properly cooked- in my opinion it is still cannibalism – Hmmm, The body and blood of Christ indeed…...

** I am now a failed Catholic, disqualified for not believing in God and organised religion in general…

With all this exercise I currently feel like Pavlov’s hamster.. if you are not familiar with Pavlov’s hamster it is a similar concept to his dog, only instead of using a bell to make his dog eat he used the beat of music to get his hamster to use its treadmill…..If he had been really bright Pavlov would have hooked up the treadmill to a generator, not only saving him a fortune in his electricity bill but made him a leading light in the green community

Next year I’m signing up for the Schroedinger's Cat*** exercise program, on the basis that you can at least have a kip in the box while you wait to see if you are declared fit or not…..

*** There is a reason that you have probably not heard of Pavlov’s hamster, it went missing shortly before Schroedinger's Cat went into the box.

Don’t worry it will soon be February - the traditional month for either giving up what you started in January or giving up, giving up what you stopped in January.

We managed to lose our cleaner – not in a ‘she slipped out of our pocket while we were out kind of way’, but in the ‘leaving our keys with a stroppy note saying “I’m not coming back”’ kind of way ….

We are still a bit perplexed about this – (unless she has decided to give up cleaning for January…)

While Mrs B is guilty of asking the cleaner to concentrate on dusting certain key areas, we had been a bit disappointed with how dusty parts of the house were. Correct me if I’m wrong, isn't that the sort of thing you expect your cleaner to get involved in….? Her reaction was as if we had requested her to break the law or clean the house in the buff. I remember when she started working for us she said “If you ever have any problems with my cleaning, please let me know” what she failed to add was “and I’ll be out the door before the dust settles”

Not only did she leave her wages, she left the bonus we had given her for as appreciation for the hard work she had put in last year (other than a few areas she had done a really good job)….

We texted her to say that we were sorry if we had upset her and even if she decided not to return she should at least take her bonus as she had earned it …. We heard nothing back

As luck would have it we ran into her in the supermarket the following week – we said hello to which she responded by totally blanking us? Nice one…She, of course, is now dead to us….

Mistaken Deathdentity****
Talking of dead (now how smooth a link is that) I was listening to the radio (I tried watching it but it’s really not very exciting) and overheard the shocking news that an actress in her forties had died - to my ears the lady’s name sounded like ‘Salma Hayek’ ….. I told a couple of friends and thought nothing more of it…. Until a couple of days later when I realised I had misheard and had to issue the following text rebuttal -

I'm sorry to say that you may have been somewhat misled by reports of the demise of a certain Salma Hayek (46). Apparently reports of her passing have been somewhat exaggerated. (That said, Salma will one day shuffle off her mortal coil so please remember you heard it here first.) It was in fact that huge international mega star Sophiya Haque (41) (famed for her part in Coronation Street) who has gone to stay with a little old lady in the country - along with all the pets I ever owned.... That old lady must have a bloody big place.

So apologies to Salma and as a way of making up for any distress my rumour may have caused her, if she is stuck for work at the moment we currently have a situation vacant - I’m sure an actress of her caliber would be able to easily take on the role of a cleaner and make it her own….. She would however have to be able to take on instruction from one of the toughest directors in the game…..The dreaded Mrs B.

**** Deathdenity – why is this not in the dictionary?

Photo finish 
Not necessarily my best pictures from last year but a good representation of some of what we got up to in 2012... 

Kirsty and Joe Skiing Chompoluc Italy

My fastest time recorded on Skis
Chompuluc Italy
My excuse it was foggy and I
didn't realise how steep it was.....

Sophie & Waynes wedding - June
My first time as an official photographer 

Roddy Frame - at Cadogan Hall
Laying a ghost to rest.....

Paraylimpic Equestrian at Greenwich.
Paraylimpic  Swimming

Mrs B Skiing in Alpe D'huez
Coldplay at the Paraylimpic closing ceremony.
Meeting Boris at the thank you reception for

London Ambassadors managers at City Hall  
London Ambassador my final shift at Stansted Airport...
Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade
Mrs B at Olympic park
Jessica on her way to Gold
Scottish Wildlife Tour
 Wild Mountain hair
Blur - Hyde Park
 Olympic Football Final
Mexico 2 : Brazil 1 
Paralympics - Athletics
Chris Hoy at the Athletes parade
Noel Gallagher at V2012
The Feeling - V2012
Mount Fuji - represents our trip to Japan in October
Adam Ant - my second Photo-pass and my
 first time working in the pit....
My Union Jack Jacket
How was your 2012?  

Friday, 11 January 2013

It will only end in fireworks

As is usual for us we were running late, leaving just over an hour to get into London, get parked and over to the theatre box office to pick up tickets for the show “Let it Be”. This is a difficult task at the best of times but with a number of roads in the process of being closed to facilitate the expected influx of New Year revellers it was going to be a herculean task. It became like a driving arcade game with every pensioner incapable of driving over 5mph being drawn towards our vehicle.

Our original parking target had been just off Victoria Embankment but we quickly realised that the area around the Thames was rapidly becoming a no go area for cars and so aimed further north of that “dirty old river, which keeps on rolling, flowing into the night”. Don’t blame me, that’s Ray Davies description (from Waterloo sunset ) of the glorious old lady that trickles through the centre of London. We found a space in Lincolns Inn Square, around 15 walk minutes walk away with only a 10 minute window to get to the theatre. (Sorry about this, it is rapidly becoming like one of those wildlife documentaries that I’m starting to hate so much. You know the ones……….where a contrived sense of urgency is introduced into the programme in a mistaken belief by the film maker that the viewer will believe, for a moment, that the missing tiger cub (add whatever cute animal you wish) is in real danger and has not just been kidnapped by the camera crew, who are waiting for the nod from the director to release cub/kitten/calf (delete as appropriate) back into shot at an appropriate time to bring relief to viewers who are sitting on the edge of their seats biting their nails at the drama of it all – In reality most of the viewers have probably got bored and are now channel surfing – This no doubt sound cool to the twitter generation, who don’t get out much and firmly believe channel surfing counts as a proper form of exercise in the same way that using an Apple or Blackberry phone or the Orange network counts towards your 5 a day portions of fruit and veg….) The walk became a quick dash as Mrs B and The Beast* were whisked through the busy London streets at break neck pace….

* While a full size SLR is not the best item to take into a West End Show, our later evening plans included a date with the fireworks along the Thames. Besides I had “The Kitchen Sink” (a large rucksack which swallows entire continents whole for breakfast and could probably eat 3 Shredded Wheat just for fun, if it wanted to…) to conceal The Beast in.

While no slow-moving pedestrians were hurt during the making of this epic journey, a few may have been cut up or even forced to take avoiding action as the Kitchen Sink swung wildly on my back. No doubt The Beast snapping ineffectively at them from the safety of the Kitchen sinks inner sanctum…...

We made it to our seats just as the curtain went up, much relieved at our triumphant race against the clock and settled down. At this point I had a sudden vision – all my CF cards for The Beast (Memory cards) were on our kitchen table back at home, where I had been sorting them out just before our mad dash out of the door. Doh!

So I had The Beast but no way of shooting anything but blanks**... I have no issues lugging The Beast around (it is quite a weight) but only if I have at least the opportunity to take a few pictures. The first few songs passed in a blur as I tried to think of how, on New Year’s Eve I could get hold of a CF card. I decided that my only hope was during the interval, since the show would not end until gone 10pm and what shops would still be open at that point? I settled down and, in an indication of how good the show was, started to enjoy the music. It’s the Beatles – who wouldn’t? (There was a 17 year old in our Ski Chalet before Christmas who claimed to have never heard of them or the Rolling Stones for that matter…mind you, they didn’t seem to recognise anything that hadn’t come out of X-factor, so clearly they had no understanding of real music.)

** Strangely enough this was the first West End show where I have seen people openly use camera during the production. Not just camera phones either….strangely enough, while I firmly believe gigs and concerts are fair game for photography, I still feel plays should be protected from amateur snappers, especially when they seem to have an inability to turn off the flash…..

Poor Mrs B. Not only had I failed to get her pre-theatre drinks but I abandoned her at the interval as I dashed out into the teaming streets of London with a promise that I would be back before the curtain rose again. Even if I say so myself I Impressively managed to check out 4 shops in the short time available. The tourist shop had SD memory cards but not the CF ones…. A little corner store once again was a similar story - SD cards but none of my holy grail for the evening. Then I remembered the large HMV at Piccadilly Circus….. They didn't even carry memory cards – no wonder they are in financial difficulty….

My last chance was Boots the chemist. I was relieved as I dashed through the door that they had a photo section. I plunged headlong down the stairs….. looking through the rack of memory cards…. SD card, SDHC, SD mini card, SD micro card, XD card, Memory Stick,

“Excuse me” I said to the vacant looking assistant picking at their finger nails and looking like they wanted to be a million miles away. “Do you have any CF cards …”

So called Boots photo expert - “We have lots of SD cards”

Me - “Yes but they are too small to fit into my camera”

So called Boots photo expert – “We have the high capacity cards”

Me - “Yes but they are the same size as the SD card”

So called Boots photo expert - “No Sir they are bigger”

Me – “While the capacity might be bigger the actual physical size of the card is the same”

So called Boots photo expert - “Are you sure?”

Me - “Is it a high capacity SD card?

So called Boots photo expert - “Yes”

Me - “Then it will be the same physical size as the normal SD card”

So called Boots photo expert – “So it’s like a TARDIS – bigger on the inside”

Me - “Yes but without the all important time travelling capabilities – if you happen to have a TARDIS I’ll take one of those”

So called Boots photo expert - “We don’t stock those….So do you want one of the SDHC cards?”

Me – “No I need a CF card”

So called Boots photo expert - “We don’t have any of those”

Me – “Yes I think we established that about half an hour ago. Have a good New Year”

So called Boots photo expert - “Are you sure you don’t want the SDHC card?”

I answered in mime, my rapidly retreating back was surely a big enough clue even for a complete moron….

I had been beaten – I would just have to enjoy the fireworks without being able to use The Beast.

Back on the streets and once again I found myself dashing for the theatre…. I had enough time to purchase Mrs B a bottle of water (don’t tell me I don’t know how to treat a lady). The G and T would have to wait until after the show.

Surprisingly, on exit at around 10:pm the majority of the shops were still open – unfortunately, none that would sell CF cards but certainly more than I had expected. We made our way to Soho, to the late night bistro we had carefully selected on line the day before. The establishment’s website had promised that it stayed open late and you didn't need to book – that became more than evident when we located it. The place had been shut for at least a month….. We looked around at the full restaurants around us, people spilling out of the doors ………. all except the Indian restaurant opposite…Oh well, curry and fireworks it was.
We enjoyed the meal but had to hurry through it as the midnight hour was closing fast…..We left the restaurant around 11:30 and made for the Thames about 10 minutes stroll way – luxury, even if I was carrying the unusable Beast and the Kitchen Sink. It was busy but we made good progress dodging through the drunken revellers like Charlie Chaplin on an ocean liner that is floundering in a huge storm…. – a drunken last waltz but moving steadily towards our goal….until we reached The Strand, about 100 metres short of the Thames. All the side roads and alley ways leading down to the river were blocked and guarded as if the nation’s safety depended on it….Apparently people had been queuing along the banks and bridges all day (it had been a particularly damp one – sounds like a blast)

Oh well, we would just have to enjoy those fireworks that strayed high above the buildings….
Midnight came to a huge cacophony of sound as if the first World War had decided on making a comeback. The sound echoed around the streets……. with just a faint glow appeared in the sky above the buildings – ummmm, it was about as exciting as watching extra-slow drying paint doing its thing. The height of the buildings meant that we didn't get to see a single whiz bang… My emotions were split between feelings of delight that failure to get a CF card had turned out to be a non-issue and annoyance that New Year 2012 was ending like a damp squib. Such a shame that a really good year for us ended up like the proverbial lead balloon.

The way back to the car was a sea of disappointment shored up with enough booze to keep the British economy afloat for at least a few more weeks. You have to admire the British spirit, no matter how bad the economy they always find enough to pay for the physical spirit (well mostly larger and cider). At least the evening had stayed dry and we had enjoyed “Let It Be” ….I was half tempted to have the car’s roof down but could tell Mrs B was not keen ….That turned out to be a good decision – it stayed dry until we reached the M11 at which point we were hit with the sort of deluge that Noah would have been at home with and floated home….

Photo finish
Next time I’ll post my favourite photographs from last year. I had hoped to leave you with some spectacular firework pictures but will have to leave you with some shots from our walks on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day….

Is this how baby trees are made?
The closest I could get to a half decent Fungi joke...

A guy walks into the doctor's office.

A carrot stuck in one of his ears, a cucumber in the other
 ear, and a mushroom stuck in one nostril.

The man says, "What's wrong with me?"

The doctor says, "You just need to eat more sensibly."
Moss dating site

This is Eric he likes hanging around on trees and rocks
If you don't fancy him, don't worry there are
 another 12,000 different varieties....
Mrs B enjoys the fine conditions
on Boxing Day 2012....

Playing the game  Rock, Scissors, Paper
Frankly he proved a bit predictable ...
The River Stort has never looked so good...
New Years Day 2013.