1000 Shades of Grey
Friday, October 29, 2004
Kezza for Prezza
For anyone in America who happens to read this, cares what I think, and is elligible to vote in the US Presidential Election, do me a favour and vote for John Kerry. At least that way we might all live for another four years without the fear of terrorist attack (or Georgie Boy nuking us in a friendly fire incident: "I wonder what this button does...")

Obviously I'm speaking to hundreds of you on this issue - so go on kids, do it for your country and get rid of the incompetant moron.


It’s called a downspout for a reason…
As I may have already mentioned, the bloke who we bought our new house from liked to do his own DIY (well, I think he did – either that or he employed cowboys). His painting leaves a lot to be desired, as does his ability to do a job properly.

An example of this is his approach to tiling. Clearly he decided that taking the radiator off in the bathroom to tile behind it was too much hassle, and instead tiled around it, leaving bare plaster behind.

I only tell you this, so that you get a clear understanding of the slap dash approach that this imbecile adopted when it came to home improvements.

This week, I've had cause to remove the U-Bend under our Kitchen sink. Having cleared it out, I went to reconnect it to find that it wasn't particularly well attached to the outlet pipe. I say not particularly well attached, I think hanging on by a whisker might be more accurate. I also noticed that in order to get out of the house, the water needs to run uphill, such is the angle of the pipe. Even with a fairly basic understanding of science I know that despite water's many excellent qualities, a readiness to defy gravity is not one of them.

Sao this weekend, I now have to try and temporarily fix the plumbing beneath my kitchen sink, before tackling the problem of the upwards pipe at a later date. I wouldn't mind, but his approach to plumbing, like his approach to everything else in the house has been to bodge it in the most incompetent manner. How hard can it be to make a pipe flow downhill?

Every time I find something else he turned his hand to, a little piece of me dies inside, and another trip to Wickes inevitably follows. Give it twelve months and I’ll be a fully fledged DIY expert at this rate.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Further to my post yesterday, I was driving home last night with the radio on, and can honestly say that between 5 and 5.45 was the best output I've heard from a prime-time Radio One show for ages. A track list including amongst others: Underworld, Pulp, The Smiths, Nirvana, The Sex Pistols, Blur and Coldplay carried me down the motorway in something of a joyous rapture.

When music is this good it makes me almost forgive the music industry for crap like Jojo, Dido, S Club 8, etc.

It’s such a shame that it took the death of John Peel to inspire such a feast of quality music.

Perhaps this shows I'm getting old, and should really be moving towards 6Music, however as my car stereo doesn't even have a CD Player, there is no way I'm going to hear a Digital Music station whilst commuting any time soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
John Peel RIP
John Peel, Radio 1 DJ and all round music junkie has died of a heart attack whilst on holiday in Peru. I'm sure many more eloquent bloggers will mourn his passing with better constructed sentences than I will, but suffice to say that Peel was always a man I looked up to, and his death has made my part of the world a sadder place.

John Peel - now a member of the great record library in the sky.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Let’s be honest, we've all at one time or another been invited to a wedding that we weren't that fussed about attending. Whether it be that of a colleague, distant relative, acquaintance of your other half, it doesn't matter, the fact is we’ve all suffered the dilemma of what to do.

Well, this is a slightly different take on simply sending back your apologies…

Thanks to Jo for the link.

Monday, October 18, 2004
Saturday night I went back to my native North East to meet up with some friends who I haven't seen in almost a year. Sitting in the same pub we've been in countless times over the years, I was reminded of the Car advert on at the moment where the people stay the same, but the fashions and hairstyles change to show time passing.

Nine years ago, when we really all became close, we all had longer hair than we do today, with Indie centre-partings and in one notable case dreadlocks masking our somewhat spotty faces from the outside world.

Today, we've all gone for much shorter, and more respectable cuts, as the demands of our respective employers took their toll upon our hairstyles. It's funny how time, in one sense, had stood still, although admittedly we all looked slightly older, and at least in my case a bit fatter than I did back in the long hazy summers of our youth.

One thing that has changed over the period was our capacity for and choice of drinks (together with the level of female company we now have). I can safely say that we all now drink more than we used to, as prolonged periods as students saw us all increase our alcohol tolerance to governmental health warning proportions.

My problem is that unlike a few years ago, I can no longer drink anything and everything in front of me impervious to the consequences to my digestive system. Where once I consumed paraffin (I was fire-breathing drunk, and swallowed some – I don't recommend it), now my stomach struggles to deal with red wine topped up with Newcastle Brown Ale.

The sorry result being that I had a rather prolonged bout of Exorcist-style vomiting around 4am on Sunday.

It's strange to think how little has changed in the way that my friends and I can pick up conversations we began years ago at the drop of a hat, and funny to think of how we've changed both physically and emotionally in the past nine or so years. That's why I love these people, and why I miss them when they are on the far side of the planet.

However, if I could not drink so much I'm sick copious amounts of brown vomit next time, I think we'll all feel better for it. I know I will.

Monday, October 11, 2004
Ode to Vaseline
As some of you may remember, I foolishly acquiesced to my wife's cunning plan to run the Great North Run this year. After some rigorous (and some not so rigorous) training, we both found ourselves stood on the Newcastle Central Motorway at 8:45 am on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago.

2 hours of standing around looking resplendent in bin bags, listening to local "celebrity" Alan Robson later and we were both ready to sprint all the way to London, such was our desire to get away from the idiot. Being local, I've known about Robson for a while, and always thought him something of a smug tosser, however exposure to him was a totally new experience for the Mrs, who was somewhat underwhelmed by his attempts to gee up the crowd. Suffice to say that by the end of his warm up, we were both hopeful that Kelly Holmes had shot him with the gun used to start the race. No such luck.

As I mentioned, Kelly Holmes started us running. Well, technically she started the serious athletes running, as it was 17 minutes later that I managed to cross the start line and begin the longest journey I have ever undertaken on foot. By this stage I'd already become separated from my wife, having agreed to run our own races it was inevitable we’d separate at some point, so better to get it over with early I suppose.

Off I set, resplendent in the bright red vest the nice people at British Heart Foundation had sent me to run in. How did they know I'd always wanted to look like a giant tomato?

Along the motorway I ran, sidestepping the hundreds of people who had cunningly thought that by standing nearer the front than technically they should have done that they wouldn't have caused any anger or frustration to build up inside those runners behind them. Alas, how wrong they were, as I cursed every one of the buggers who were already walking before the end of mile 1.

Along the road we surged, each of us charged by the adrenaline of running in large numbers, through the first couple of miles without even a hint of stitch or cramp, across the Tyne Bridge and up into Gateshead, and towards the start of mile 3.

Miles 3 to 5 appeared to be slightly uphill from the handy profile of the course that I had been sent, but I laughed at such a thought. After all, hadn't I trained for such eventualities by running up some short steep hills in my training programme? Somehow I had failed to appreciate that running uphill continuously for two miles takes quite a lot of effort, but by the top of the hill I still felt in reasonable shape, and had even successfully acquired a bottle of water from the first drinks station.

For those of you who have never had to attempt such a feat, imagine yourself in a packed pub on a Friday night at about 1 minute to eleven, as the entire bar tries to get served, then once you've got your drink, attempting to consume it whilst running to get into the queue for a nightclub. I think I probably managed to ingest as much water through my nose as my mouth, and in the end discarded my half empty bottle to the vagaries of the roadside.

The next few miles passed steadily enough, with people along the roadside clapping their families, and loads of local charvers holding out their hands for High-5's from runners. Handily there were also a number of St John's Ambulance staff standing with handfuls of Vaseline, which I availed myself of in an attempt to prevent my nipples from chaffing. Nipples greased, I was left with sticky hands, which I considered wiping on the local youths, but decided against it, what with me having already run 7 miles I thought they might catch me if they had a grievance.

By mile 9 I was starting to feel the cold wind on my sweaty back, and was reaching the point at which my training had taken me, and entering the brave new world that was 10 miles. Unfortunately, some bright spark who designed the course (I'm guessing Brendan Foster) decided it'd be a top plan to put in another steady two mile climb at this point. This nearly killed me, and it was a nearly broken man who ran into South Shields.

Then the fabled second wind kicked in, the hill reached it's long drawn out climax, and like all men following such a peak it was downhill quickly from there, and I hit the seafront with a new found resolve. I wanted to get this thing finished, and now knew I could do it. Onwards I charged, seconds ticking away all the time, passing those runners who were flagging as much as I had around the 11 mile marker, and on to the finish.

I crossed the line 2 hours, 15 minutes and 30 seconds after I left the start line, and then proceeded to stagger about in a daze as I was herded like a lost sheep through the processing point that was the finish. Bag of goodies and space blanket collected, I stumbled in my stupor towards the bus on which I had left my bag all those hours before, and was eventually able to locate it, and put on some warmer clothes.

Finding my family and equally exhausted wife proved somewhat difficult, but eventually all were duly located, and we were able to head for home, walking very slowly as we went. Two weeks later, and apart from a blackened toe-nail I've pretty much recovered from my efforts and am now charged with recouping the money promised to me by friends and colleagues.

Having already run 13.1 miles, it should be easy.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
I remembered to buy a card too...
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear wifey,
Happy Birthday to you.

Just a quick note to wish my beautiful wife a very happy birthday.

Right, well I suppose you're all wondering what has happened to me over the last few weeks?

Tough luck if you weren't, I'm going to tell you anyway.

I've started my new job, which is very exciting, and because it's a proper job, means I actually have work to do and have to use my brain. It certainly beats filing all day long, although sadly means I can't blog as much as I would like.

We moved house, which has meant I've spent a lot of time drilling holes in walls, and putting up shelves and general DIY stuff. Unfortunately, we’ve found that the small bit of flat roof we have leaks, which would have a useful piece of information to have pointed out by our surveyor.

Sadly, our survey wasn't that useful. So now when it rains, we get a steady drip…drip…drip (not Marti Pellow's new band, in case you were wondering) into the bucket we put underneath it. This makes sleeping slightly difficult, and has led to much worrying about the cost of fixing such a problem. Still, hopefully we'll be able to get it sorted fairly soon.

The other blog has taken up some of my time, as I've felt the pressure to post on that one slightly more than I have to update shades of grey, which is a bit rubbish of me really.

Generally my life has been spent commuting on the M1 to and from my new job (if any of you enjoy sitting stationary in a car, can I recommend the stretch between Junctions 21 and 25 Northbound on a Friday afternoon, it really is the business. Otherwise it’s been a steady stream of DIY, sleeping, doing general household chores and cursing the scumbag who we bought the house from.

The reason I'm cursing him, is that they (he and his family) left the place in a terrible mess, and as a result we keep finding dog hair, dog accessories (I found a bowl and some dog chews under our kitchen cupboards last night, whilst investigating a slight leak) and general rubbish which they considerately left behind.

Still, when the house is made to look nice, it should be lovely. Just need to get rid of that hole in the roof first…

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