Friday, 30 September 2011

For Archie...

Archie who lived opposite us has died.  Ada his wife had not been well for ages and after repeated ambulance calls to help her she went into a home a couple of months back.  Archie was left on his own, going to visit her most days.  He insisted on going to get his daily paper, the shop is next door but one, but in the snow last winter.  My wife dug out his path for him one day.

Sadly in his 90s he passed on quickly after being found to have colon cancer.

One touching thing... he and Ada had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary!!  They had been a couple since they were both 13 - amazing 80 years as a couple!

How beautiful and touching...  I hope Ada doesn't miss him too much.  And we'll have some new neighbours - that is a big thing around here, we've been here nearly 20 years and still considered the "new couple" :-)

RIP Archie

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

2 days into the new job...

... and I have more questions than answers unsurprisingly.  Bizarrely I'm also attending a public launch event of an application that has gone "public" that I'm now the "service owner" of which I didn't know what it's acronym stood for 48 hours ago.  Best I keep schtum in front of the media and others and just get introduced to all the right people.

One of the funniest things so far is that everytime I venture out of the office onto the street I seem to get asked where something is by one of the newly enrolled students but I'm as lost on the campus as they are... if not more so if my experience yesterday is any guide.  My boss walked with me from point A to point B, I was asking a load of questions of him so didn't take as much notice as I should have anyway... I leave point B with another colleague and head to point C.  Now from point C I needed to get back to point A... simple I thought I knew the direction etc and I exit the door and turned left... totally wrong I needed to go right and then in a few moments I notice the back of the British Museum and realise I was going in totally the wrong direction!!  Hey ho.

Oh yes then I leave the office my desk is located in - I'm temporarily squatting with another team until an accommodation re-jigg in a few weeks time and a couple ask me if someone is in.  I said I didn't know.  Only today did I notice the plaque outside, it used to be someone famous's house some years back.

So far then... all good and situation normal for me i.e. not quite in touch with the reality all around me :-)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

At last a new song

It has been a while with work and all that... so whilst on the week's break between jobs I've finally recorded a new song - Round and Round.

It can be listened to at

Comments as ever welcomed.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

If we really wanted to save the planet...

On the drive back from Wales yesterday a couple of things struck me... again whilst I was cruising along the M40 at 70mph a Prius with a bike rack on it came thundering past me.  I'm lost if you buy a Prius aren't you saying "I care about the planet"... but then you flog a 1.4l engine to death over 80mph and even better stick your I'm-so-green mountain bike on the back to act like the air brake on an old Russian freighter!  Bonkers.

My new car - is a lot like the old one... I like the Peugeot 407 SW we'd had for 4 years that when I saw a "brand new" one for sale as a 2nd hand one at a knock down price I snapped it up.  Now previously the 50mpg performance of the old one had impressed me, it is a large estate car after all.  Well don't know what they have done in the intervening 4 years but the new one manages as near as damn it 60mpg!  In fact the bit between Newtown to Shrewsbury which is all twisty A roads I managed to get 75mpg - why'd you buy a Prius?  Funny just before Shrewsbury Mr I-have-a-car-that-looks-like-one-that-once-won-rally-world-championship came bounding up behind me - all revving his engine through the "throaty" exhaust on every bend to be thawted by an oncomming car, van, lorry, tractor.  He inevitably zoomed passed me and dashed the 200 yrds in front of me to then slam on his brakes to sit behind the car in front to repeat the performance for us all to marvel at his driving ability...   Well if you've a car that can excellerate twice as quickly as pretty much everything else on the road you ought to be able to overtake so frankly pal not that impressive.  I checked my mpg thinking "I doubt he is getting 75mpg" and guess what at that very moment he pulled into a petrol station... I nearly had to pull over for laughing!

Now I checked at Shrewsbury as anyone who knows the A5 there will know that it is the secret location of one of the worlds largest roundabout collections.  It goes something like.... Roundabout ahead, slow, drop to 2nd or more likely 1st gear, wait for gap or green light, round the roundabout onto next stretch, accelerate up to 60 or 70mph and get into cruising and ... Roundabout ahead, slow... etc. etc.   I think there are 6 or 7 on the stretch I do.

So before going through that lot my mpg was as I say a staggeringly good 75mpg then once through and on the clear A5 heading toward the M54 it was 66mpg.

So I mused, how much concrete to make the flyovers to carry through traffic like me over this lot would you need to cancel out the carbon emissions the acceleration/braking cost?  Love to be clever enough to work that out... Probably need a long pay back time, I know someone has calculated that the concrete making for the windfarm off the Kent coast recently erected actually creates more CO2 than the wind farm saves in it's expected lifespan compared to a gas fired power station ... that is before all the rest of the building emissions and the maintenance ships etc.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Here we go again...

Whitesnake?   No that was Here I Go Again...

Anyhows...   Last day at work today.  "Hang on" say long term regular reader(s) "thought this had all happened before".  Indeed, last year 7th July, after 19 years and 1 week I left my old job.  After a period as a successful professional musician (i.e. unemployed) I got back into work in Feb this year for a small consultancy an old colleague is now a director of.  I've actually liked the company and the people in the most part but as again the regular reader(s) out there will know I hated the being away from home or massively stupid commutes.   The company was really nice and at the point where I was saying "this just isn't really for me" an assignment came up at my old firm which I've been on for the last 5 months.

Now the really sad bit is in Feb this year the company I used to work for decided to close the site with 1000s of jobs being lost.  In it heyday back in the early 2000s you would struggle to find a space in the car park after 9am and there were upwards of 5000 or more on the site every day.  Then in 2003 the first cuts started and I had to make decisions about people losing their jobs - horrible. Over the years since then divisions pulled out like manufacturing and they cut here and reshaped there with much work going back to the USA (it is a USA company).  Anyway this year they have hung a For Sale sign over the buildings and hundreds have already left - in the last few weeks I've shaken many hands probably for the last time.  I've watched centuries of experience walk out the door which seems madness but then that is business where did it ever say anyway that is was suppose to be fair or good for you etc.

It was obvious this assignment was going to come to an end at some point - the current point is a suitable one, in that they are now deciding on a company to take the service forward and I thought it likely another far flung assignment might be my next option so I looked for a new role.  Luckily I've landed a really fantastic job with a top London research university heading up the group that will be responsible for the support of the applications supporting research.  Just brilliant.  I've signed the contract and filled in all the on-line stuff, after a week trying to catch up on a bunch of things I could do with getting done I'll be up there.

So I wave a final farewell to this site and those people left here in my old group and the one I've been in the last 5 months and I bow out of the consultancy business with no bridges burnt, my line manager saw me on Tuesday and was insistent that if I need a job in the future they'd take be me back without any issues.

Going to be an odd day emotionally I think though.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Musicians have better hearing

Interesting article from the BBC about hearing issues.

However the problem they particularly talk about the "cocktail party problem" is one I suffer with badly...  not that I ever go to cocktail parties ;-)

The problem is the inability to pick out speech against the hubbub of background noise.  I really struggle with that - my wife knows it and will sometimes aid me by repeating salient parts of the conversation to me - I'm better one to one but I know that I look at people lips... am I just lip reading?

However to be fair - I'm clearly not a professional musician :-) So maybe I'm outside the influence of this research... I'm not someone who has "never played" and instrument or a professional musician.

I did some years back start wearing earplugs to most concerts - but I've dropped off that a bit, largely as we seem to go to larger venues now, esp The O2 at Greenwich and I find the levels generally less and cause me less short term issues than say places like The Lees Cliff in Folkestone.

Monday, 12 September 2011

This is 2011 isn't it?

I read with amazement this story from the BBC.

Amazing.  This is 2011 and people are still treated like this in this country.  I feel ashamed it is going on - now I moan about the cost of shopping as much as anyone but somewhere along the line someone thinks that having slaves (let us not beat about the bush here) is the way to reduce cost and increase profit.  I blogged about a BBC play on the topic of child trafficking but to then find that this is happening with adults as well does frankly leave me speechless.  People wonder at what is happening to our society - well this is, this is like Dickensian England not the 21st Century.

There is an interesting point - it states in the report that the victims were " "recruited" from soup kitchens and benefits offices and included people with problems such as alcoholism."  Indeed recruit from the bottom from those vulnerable and falling out of society, for whom no-one appears to care or will notice that they have gone.

I hope that if this goes to trial and the people who did this are found guilty that a very strong message is sent out - i.e.  I mean for these people to get very long custodial sentences.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Where were you 10 years ago today?

Everyone can remember can't they?  Well I can I was in NYC itself, luckily mid-town not down-town but a day I will obviously never forget.

Being told of the first "accident" - then the second, realising instantly it was no "accident".  Watching the towers fall. The noise, the sirens, the panic.  The smell and the taste of that awful dust - the taste of death - I still can vividly recall that.

The vacant lost expressions on peoples faces.  The kind help we got from some people, our panic, being cut off apart from my family and fearing how long it may be until we were back together.

The getting out of NYC on the Friday - the wedding in CT we somehow ended up being part of.  Some great friends/colleagues being there to help and just talk to us.  The flight home - were we really getting home or not? The relief once we were airborne, then out of the USA, then half way - then at Heathrow.  The onlookers looks as we all stood in the arrivals all just hugging and crying.

The moment I fell into my wife's arms - and the kids being woken with the news that I was home...

Memories for me for life

My heart goes out to all who lost on that day and in the subsequent armed assaults it has led to that still continue.   A day the world changed.

POST SCRIPT added 12th Sept.

I check Facebook occasionally throughout the day... I only saw this morning what my wife had posted yesterday evening...

it has been a bit of a strange weekend D-of-F's boyfriend going off to army. Thinking also that 10 years ago today my life could of changed completely with the events in NYC and thanking god that my best friend and beloved husband came home to us safe and sound. My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones on the awful September morning x

...beloved husband... I was quiet chocked up

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Tough first match - just enough

Flipping heck!!  There was more than one moment where I thought we were going to end up losing that, anyway finally England emerge victorious from their open Rugby World Cup game.

Argentina were really up for - as ever against us.  They came out and gave us no time - but then we weren't helping ourselves with the penalties we gave away.  Both teams kicking was poor - have you ever seen Jonny miss so many and by so much at times - I wonder if it being a closed stadium had something to do with that?  Don't know.

But at last Youngs on and we had a bit more pace and passion and a try came and that was it.

Right so still in with a chance - but boy we need to play better than that.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Everybody has it better than me...

that is the stupid thought in my head at the moment.  I seem to keep bumping into people who are "giving up the rat race" starting new business turning their hobbies into their jobs, going on fantastic holidays etc. etc.

It is interesting to note that also this week I've spoken with someone going through a breakup of a relationship, starting a new job, having some major health issues, having problems with elderly parents, having to move in 3 weeks to a new job miles away and uproot their family....

So I hear both but only focus on the one... bad news.

Had a very disturbing dream last night.  So much I've emailed the guy who I smacked around the head in the dream to apologise.  He'll think I'm mad no doubt but I had to get it out there rather than keep it in.

Right... now I've dumped that I'm off to hopefully get some better positivity.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Knights and castles...

Spent Saturday in Rochester at the Medieval Merriment day at the castle.

It wasn't too bad, a set of craft stalls with some vague medieval link and a bunch of recreationalists (is that was you call them) re-enacting life in medieval England.  The focus being on the famous siege of Rochester in 1215 when the revolting barons took control of the castle from King John in the long dispute that lead to the Magna Carta and all that.  Actually that siege has been recently portrayed in the very bloody film Ironclad, questionable historically etc. but based on the truth of the siege 

Anyway a good day out in the sun.

Sunday I went to Ikea for the first time in my life.  Another debate in the house due to my claiming my kids were dragging me into the middle classes - I will always consider myself working class as to me it about attitude and what you are for or against in the world they think it to do with job, wealth, salary etc.  Anyway doesn't really matter.  What a place!  We went to Lakeside, a quick dawn raid over the Thames into Essex, we tried to be in and out in under a hour in case they rumbled the Medway boyz were in town ;-)

Luckily Son-of-Furtheron had check quantities and the exact location for picking up what we needed and we short cut through missing most of the showroom etc.  Maybe one day I will go back and browse but it really is an odd place for someone like me - the fact you go into the warehouse to load up everything yourself is mighty odd.  Anyway he has a new desk and desk light to assemble once back in Wales.

The girls (Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron) are back to school tomorrow - so some gnashing of teeth after their 6 week break.  I'm into the last couple of weeks at my current job and then off to new one in London.  Many people are now leaving where I've been working (for those behind in my story, where I worked for 20 years until being made redundant last year but I've been back the last 6 months as a consultant).  It is very sad virtually the whole site is closing soon, the coffee shops and restaurant are massively reducing.  You walk about and where there were once 100s or 1000s now there are very few... the car park is already becoming weedy.  Still very much time to look forward not backwards - still very sad though - used to be over 6,000 people working there soon only a few hundred and that is only guaranteed for a couple of years to complete some on going work that can't be transferred, unless a new buyer is found there'll be nothing there at all in 3 years.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

not much to say...

Back in work and counting the days now until I leave and start the new job.

Have been to a couple of really good meetings this week - the sharing was just what I needed and focused me back onto my sobriety - I'd not noticed I'd been letting it slip but then that is what this decease does to you it creeps up on you nudging your apathy, complacency etc. along until you suddenly are back in the throws of it without realising.  That is why I go to meetings regularly, a word, a phrase, a story from someone else jolts me back to realising that I was beginning to say this, do that, think the other... and all potentially bad if left unchecked.

So grateful to be still a recovering alcoholic today.

September - soon the rest of the family will be returning to normal routine, Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron will soon be back at school, I'll drop my son back to Wales for the new year and then it'll be my birthday! :-)

Anyway into the last straight of the year and this one has pretty much been a good one - started with getting a job, dipped with the not liking being away from home, rose with the return to a pattern that meant I could be at home, has dipped a bit as I'm back working where I did for 20 years and watching the site be closed around us with many friends shaking my hand for may be the last time pretty much on a daily basis but then has risen again with the kids doing so well in their respective exams (D-of-F got a set of A*,bunch of As and a B in her early GCSEs, and S-of-F was top of his year again) and then new job offer which is a job I am really excited about starting.  

Life is good to me at the moment, very good.  I will try to sit in that for a while and not demand to grasp it too tightly in case I burst it too early or try to second guess when the inevitable downturn in fortunes will come either.  Try to live in the now for a while... why do I find that so flipping hard at times?