1000 Shades of Grey
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Definitely not about gardening
Showing a flagrant disregard for the advice my father gave me before I went to University “Avoid loose women, son.” May I draw your attention to the girl with a one track mind, whose anonymity allows her to be startlingly frank. Those of you seeking something more thrilling than my dreams of being a gardener will, I feel confident, have your every whim catered for, and return here slightly more worldly wise.


Friday, November 26, 2004
Forking Out
When I was about 17, I really liked the idea of being a gardener as a summer job. I'm not really sure why, I think it was because I liked the idea of spending my summers outside, getting a tan, doing some work which meant I developed my strength, and generally got paid for doing it.

I never actually got one, and instead earned my money acting as a pall bearer and occasional hearse driver, and not getting a tan. However, I've always wondered what it would be like, and generally had a much romanticised view of working as a gardener. This will probably come as a big shock to those who know me, and particularly my parents, as I've never shown any inclination to display the innate green-fingered skills with which I always believed I was blessed.

However, the other weekend I had the opportunity to get out into the great outdoors, and do some gardening for my mum and dad.

Four hours of stabbing a fork into my parents' lawn on a bitterly cold November morning later, with my wife adding such helpful comments as "Shut the door you’re letting a draft in." I had decided that I probably had a lucky escape.

Now I accept that some gardening jobs are less appealing than others, but sticking holes in a lawn, so that my dad could brush sand in, to improve drainage and kill moss, before 10am on a Saturday morning in November is one of the least appealing jobs I have so far found in the gardening world. It comes only slightly above shovelling cow shit into bags, to take home and add to the compost heap.

I think I'll stick to my desk job, and just accept I will never have a weathered tan and muscles born through manual labour, and just hope I one day earn enough to pay a seventeen year old to do my gardening, as I sit inside in the warmth and acknowledge that I've sold out.

Not that I’m there yet, you understand, but one day…

Course not
Sorry, I've not been deliberately ignoring you, I've just been on a course lately, but I'm back now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Currently, I have an uneasy feeling that I should be doing something urgent. The problem is that I can’t think what it should be.

This feeling has encircled me like some kind of shark, lazily surrounding its prey deciding which bit to bite first.

The trouble is that even with the queasy feeling of impending doom; I still can’t decide what I’m supposed to be doing that is so important that it is making me feel nauseous.

Until the realisation hits me, or someone lets the cat out of the bag I’m left adrift with my own thoughts, unable to identify the reason for my worry, and left to simmer in the juices of my unease.

(Not that I’m actually sat in a puddle of urine you understand, it’s just a metaphor.)

Monday, November 08, 2004
This could have been me...
This could have been me.

Last year I lived in Newbury and studied in London.

I used to travel on the Plymouth train every day of the week, across the level crossing at Ufton Nervet.

I probably travelled on the very rolling stock involved in the crash this weekend.

My sympathies are with everyone involved.

There, but for the Grace of God…

Friday, November 05, 2004
Geordonia no go
Despite the best efforts of Brendan Foster and other local dignitaries, the North East population have overwhelmingly voted against regional devolution.

As a Geordie in exile, I didn't get the chance to have my say, but having spoken to several people in the North East I can’t say I'm surprised at the result. Inevitably people had concerns about the likely cost, particularly in relation to the supposed benefits being offered. Essentially it looked like John Prescott was offering a very small carrot, whilst hiding a very big stick behind his back.

The fact that so little appears to have been done to really educate people on the issues is the saddest thing. Speaking personally, I'd have supported the idea of an independent state for the north east. I’m heartily sick of my home being treated like a distant cousin at a wedding by Westminster (yes they exist, yes we HAVE to invite them, but NO we don’t want to). Independence should have provided a stronger voice for the area, and hopefully given it a bit more clout when it came to all things political.

The problem is that none of this came across in the Yes campaign. All they seemed to say was that Sir John Hall (who lives in Spain) says it’s a good thing, so vote Yes.

To which everyone (well, the No campaign) pointed out that they were more concerned about the rise in council tax for apparently sod-all return.

Perhaps the plan will resurface in a few years time, but if it does, it will only ever work if two things happen. Firstly, the assembly needs to be given real powers, and secondly the cost of the whole venture needs to be a price worth paying for everyone.

Dreams of independence will simply have to wait until then…

Thursday, November 04, 2004
As the dust settles on the US Presidential elections, and John Kerry fades into life as a pub quiz question (Q. Who lacked the charisma to defeat the biggest idiot to ever run the USA?), we can only look forward to a brighter future.

It's just a shame that we have to wait another 3 years, 363 days for that future to begin, and have to spend the intervening period praying Georgie boy stops trying to get us all killed and actually worries about the little things in life (healthcare, the US economy, stem-cell research, gay rights, etc.)

What price a Clinton/Edwards Democratic nomination in 2008?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
4 more years...

Monday, November 01, 2004
Beggars can't be choosers
Last night, sat in front of the TV when I hear a noise.

Tap, tap, tap.

I presume it'll go away if I ignore it, but no a few seconds later it's back.

Tap, tap, tap.

So I drag myself from my seat in front of the TV and go and open the front door.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the date, I am confronted by a selection of small children begging at the door. With no Big Issue to sell me, it seems a poor deal to my mind, but in the spirit of good-neighbourliness, and to avoid having my car windows smashed, I give them all some sweets, shut the door, and return to the TV.

Half an hour later, and I hear the noise again.

Tap, tap, tap.

Unfortunately in the intervening period, my wife has cunningly scoffed most of the remaining sweets, leaving me to offer the local beggars some fruit. Fortunately they all like fruit (or at least that's what they have been told by their Fagin-esque parents), so my car is safe again.

Unfortunately we've now run out of sweets and fruit. This leaves us with a not particularly pleasant dilemma: should we hear the noise again, we can turn out the lights and hope they go away without vandalising the car; answer the door and tell them to go away;or offer them each an onion or raw potato.

We went to bed shortly afterwards.

Leader of the Free World
If the President of the USA is the Leader of the Free World, then as a member of the world, I want to a chance to pick my leader. Surely that is my right, what with it being a free world – one governed by fundamental principles like democracy and freedom of speech.

With that in mind, has anyone received a polling card inviting them to vote tomorrow? If so, where did you get it from? Can I get one? Or have I left it too late?

I think that in this time of dwindling election turnouts, and with at best only about 70% of Americans registered to vote it seems ridiculous that those of us who care about the result aren't given the opportunity to do anything about it.

I don't see why my world should be led by a man I haven't had the opportunity to vote for, and why my future should lie in the hands of the population of only a handful of states in America?

To say that the electoral system in the states is flawed is perhaps stating the obvious ("yes Mr Gore, more people voted for you, but no you can't have the keys to the White House – some senator gave them to his brother, and he won't give them back"). However, to reach a stage where Americans preach the value of democracy to people in Afganistan, Iraq, etc, and then only 70% of them can vote, and those who are affected by the outcome and want to vote can't, seems somewhat hypocritical.

I'm a citizen of the free world, and I want to vote for my leader.

I would like to apologise. I realise that of late, my blog has become an outlet for the rage that is caused by the incompetence of the previous owner of my house in the DIY department.

Obviously this has not been particularly scintillating reading for any of you, and for that I apologise. I must say that whilst it has rather absorbed me (obviously) I can appreciate that it isn't the most riveting read for those of you not involved.

Just like listening to a bad best man speech, packed with in-jokes that only he and the groom get.

So from now on I shall endeavour to write about more interesting stuff – or at least moderate my rants so that it doesn’t just turn into a stream of hateful bile.*

*I reserve the right to rant about the American Presidential Election.

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