Friday, 29 July 2011

Disaster!!!

So the announcement that F1 will be "shared" with BSkyB and BBC next year is a massive blow for me. Anyone who follows this blog will know I like racing, F1 in particular. But now a quick trip to the BSkyB site tells me I have to fork out basically £40 a month or £50 if I want HD so I can watch F1 every other weekend (on average). Flipping heck - £600 a year! And to a company in the Murdoch News Corp empire - well enough in that I have to date in my stand against his dominance of the media steadfastly refused to deal with.

Now the dilemma - fork out the money and bite my lip about my reservations about how a company like News Corp operates or stand up for my beliefs and forgo watching one of my favourite sports.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The outside view of addiction.

The sad death of Amy Winehouse once again has pushed the issues of addiction into the public spotlight. However as of yet no known cause for her death has been established remember - it may just be that some other cause is found let us remember. However you cannot deny the very public issues she had with drink and drugs.

I found this article on the BBC site which asks the question "Can a parent save their child from addiction?". So in my experience and observation the answer is no. Indeed to quote the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous where the "three pertinent ideas" are introduced, in Chapter 5 just after the 12 step programme has been outlined the second pertinent idea is "That probably no human power could have releived our alcoholism". The belief of the AA programme is that once in the grip of addiction no human power, that is the addicts themselves, friends, family, doctors etc. can bring them out of it.

Whether you agree with the spiritual side of the programme or not, and I know several devout atheists with many years of sobriety that prove it isn't about religion or a belief in God, the fact still remains without a doubt nobody can stop another addict.

For me my parents were terrific, there is nothing at all in my background and upbringing that led to me being an alcoholic and I found some of the comments on the BBC page deeply offensive to the memory of my dear parents. To spin it another way - I had two fantastic kids who looked to me to the father they hoped for and whilst I was drinking I sadly massively failed them, and was consious that I was doing so but try as I might I could do nothing about it. The drink had taken me over it was killing me, physically, emotionally, spritually. The unconditional love of two great kids couldn't stop me - the love of my mother couldn't stop me the love of my wife couldn't stop me.

Many of the comments on the BBC site and others show a massive lack of understanding of addiction. One person declaring that if you stop celebrties taking drugs everyone would... sorry! Also others denying that alcoholism is a desease - which is has been recognised as such by very very eminent physicians for many many years. They just think the alcoholic/addict can just give up... well you can but bloody hell it is the hardest thing in the world to do once in the grip. In fact you carry on only due to the massive will power of the addict but that will power is never going to get you to stop.

However AA has taught me many things one of which is that I can't conduct the world. I don't agree with those peoples views and wonder how they can feel that passionately about something with out any real knowledge - well again apologies I assume they have no real knowledge. Maybe they are angry as it has taken loved ones from them - whatever I should let them have their way as long as they let me have mine... Live and Let Live we call it.

Today I'm sober and reasonably well - at least drink isn't on the menu and that is the number 1 priority - always has to be.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Quiet Sunday morning

It is Sunday morning. Normally about now there is a queue for the bathroom, tv/radio/iPod blaring from more than one room, teenagers (well my son is 20 but you know...) lolling in the front room moaning about what the other is watching on TV - one wants Hollyoaks/Friends the other The Andrew Marr Show... but today. Mrs F is lying in the bath and I'm here on the computer in total peace... ahh... odd though this doesn't feel much like our house at all :-)

Daughter-of-Furtheron keeps texting with updates of the "educational" water sports trip to Spain. "Just going shopping now", "been sunbathing by the pool", "banana boat was a laugh" etc. apart from some kayaking and a 6km bike ride sounds a right old doss .... how much did I get stung for this in the name of education!!!

Son-of-Furtheron trekked off to North Wales yesterday to visit his girlfriend and have a few days to prepare her for her first ever visit to us in Kent - shame, she's a nice girl but after a few days with us she'll no doubt be a quivering wreck! He got to see Black Country Communion live last night - like his style hasn't seen the girl in a few weeks, straight off a 7 hour train journey to get to her and it is... "Er... Joe Bonamassa, Glen Hughes and a couple of mates are playing a gig we've got an hour to grab a sandwich and get there" :-) That's my boy!

Michael Schenker Group were supporting - I had a text to say he was on good form, which is good to hear another one who has nearly gone the same way as poor Amy and the others - the last interview I read he was back on the path and trying to trudge along - maybe sometime around Mr Hughes will do him some good. Glen has an autobiography due out which I must get and read, following him on Twitter and looking at his lyrics esp. off the Fused album he did with Tony Iommi I'm sure he's a man who can show me a bit more of the best path to tread.

A bit all over the place emotionally this weekend - something has happened that is a bit of a life changer - a good thing I just can't share about it here right now but that has got my head a bit in a boil, then the trip to the detox unit and it smacking me in the face how I was like 7 years ago and what I could be like now if just pick up the first drink so showing me to never be complacent and always vigilant to the addictive, obsessive nature in my head and my instant reaction to any annoying feeling - "get blasted so you obscure it and batter on through". And then it is odd not having at least one of the kids here - just really odd after 20 years of being a parent suddenly they are these adults and going off and all that... just really odd. Part of the journey and one I'll cope with - hopefully, for today at least, soberly.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Norway, Winehouse, Rehab

What an odd couple of days.

Norway - not the country you'd expect such a thing. So far it hints at this guy being a "neo-nazi" (why are they always neo?). Sad that any one thinks that is the way to change things for the better.

Amy Winehouse - how sad, another 27 year old gone, like Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain.

I actually was in a rehab last night - well a detox unit, talking to the folks in there about AA and just saying really "give it a go once you get out". It worked for me and they need something to help them in the battle ahead.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

First one then the other...


We've reached that time in our lives where we are slowly becoming surplus to requirements as parents. Daughter-of-Furtheron has gone off on her school watersports trip to Spain - apparently they will be working very hard!

She was so excited yesterday as we drove her down to the school and in a noisy dance studio where all the girls with families in tow were gathering the one voice you could hear above all others was... yes Daughter-of-Furtheron! They all got pink t-shirts to wear, which she is proudly showing off in this picture - this is her cool pose by the way! As I write this she be nearly at the place in Spain they are going to after an overnight ferry and coach trip down through France.

As we waved goodbye to her after she'd got on the coach Mrs F was tearful and I was my usual sympathetic self :-) Still it is another milestone. She is back in a weeks time for a few days then off to Turkey with her best pal's family for another holiday! Honestly my kids have it easy... in my day etc. etc. etc.

My son is off to visit his girlfriend at the weekend as well up in North Wales and he'll be going to see Black Country Communion too whilst away lucky thing. So we'll be all alone in the house, just the two of us, no kids... what the hell will we talk about?! This will be preparation for the time not too far away now when we'll no doubt be permanently on our own. Or will we? Son-of-Furtheron has two more years at uni - I know it seems he is on the longest course ever but he is doing a masters in Physics with Space Science and I suppose that does take a bit of learning! I doubt he'll return to the family home once he is done there, his plan is to continue as a PhD student! I don't think he is ever likely to consider a job as an option :-)


One job I have to do this weekend is strip off the wallpaper on the "feature wall" in daughters bedroom so that Mrs F and Son-of-Furtheron can get on with the decorating whilst she is in Turkey. She'll have to put up with a bit of a building site for the few days in between. I've also got to find some time to fit in the wallpaper hanging as that is definitely my job, anyway hopefully it'll all be done before she is back. Once that is done there is little left in the house not recently redecorated - our bedroom out of the major rooms I think!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Brilliant interview with Bill Ward of Black Sabbath

BBC Interview with Bill Ward

The British Open... at Sandwich

Yes... at Sandwich - i.e. where I work. This has led to a load more traffic!!! I thought at one point this morning I might see whether I could get something read out on national radio to get all the golf fans to pull over and let me through! To be honest it's not too bad except for a real pinch point where the M2 ends and everyone has to get off and go round a roundabout to get on the A2. Luckily my backroad route into work is off the preferred route and that hasn't been too bad - the only other hassle is the buzzing of helicopters over the office ever 2 mins ferrying the rich to and from the club. There is a lot about the money this brings into Kent - however most people seem to be just driving down from London for the day and going back.

I did hear a wonderfully funny story about the club... they still don't allow women in the clubhouse at Royal St George's... funny that it is called Royal since I presume the Queen can't go in there if she wanted to. Anyway I heard that in the planning for any emergency it was suggest any casualty that could be moved be taken to the clubhouse and paramedics could then go straight there to attend the injured... however one of the club reps pointed out female paramedics would be barred from entering! What a load of old...

Sadly I can't afford the helicopter option to beat the traffic which probably indicates that I'm not the guy who won the £160.6 million on the lottery. Difficult to have been since I don't buy tickets having long determined it to be a tax on my stupidity and when I did buy tickets I had the right hump all week when I didn't win until I bought the next ticket and the cycle of anticipation and crushing defeat followed again. So best I don't bother as I'm never likely to win.

But it has been an interesting exercise thinking about the issues with having £160.6 million to spend, invest, waste etc.

Hmm... well give a load to help the horn of Africa... but I'd like to see a real permanent solution, if there is one, so I'd want a really good team on that one.

Possibly buy the papers from Murdoch so I could insist on unbiased, factual based reporting... they'd go out of business in a few days then as no-one seems to want that :-)

Set up a "free to use" 12 step multiaddiction rehab - anyone with a major addiction issue that the clinical lead I'd have to have involved deemed worthy of treatment would be able to stay a minimum of 4 weeks and as much as 16 weeks if necessary... that'll waste a few million.

Buy a recording studio - I could try to promote some new acts etc. Again a whole bunch of money will go there... although you never know that actually might make a profit!

Oh a guitar shop - a huge guitar shop.

My son talked about running a F1 team for one year just for the hell of it. Have to see who is up for purchase at the moment... Torro Rosso I think are and I'd like Dave Richards the Prodrive boss to run it - we could badge it as Aston Martin and run them in British Racing Green :-)

Holy Cow... I think I've just spent it all and I'd never have enough time in the day to do all of this anyway!!

Have a good weekend all

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Book Review - Conn Iggulden Empire of Silver

Haven't done a book review for ages. This book follows on from Conn's trilogy that was all about the life of Genghis Khan - which I really enjoyed. I've always had a bit of a fascination with the Khan story, how this nation that wasn't even a nation but a load of squabbling tribes was forged into the incredible military power that took on the Chin and won and then forged out West to Europe as well.

So the story picks up after Genghis is dead and there is a power struggle with the family left behind - Genghis had set up Ögedei Khan as his successor. He starts to build a city, contrary to the nomadic lifestyle under Genghis. Also under his reign the expansion of the Mongol empire reaches it's height reaching far into Europe and China.

If I am honest I found this slightly heavier going than the original series, I think to be honest I'm more wanting to get to the next stage in the saga that leads to Kublai Khan taking over which is another era I've interest in. However Ögedei Khan's short reign as I say did contain some incredible victories and expansion East and West. In fact his death led to the invading armies of Europe to turn back to return home to sort out the next Khan - another family feud, what a surprise. Now if he hadn't died then or if the decision had been not to return but for the army to push on where would they have stopped? Europe lay at their feet, they had defeated some of the best knight lead of the Russian, Polish etc. already and were scouting into Italy etc. Would they have just continued right through to the Atlantic coast? To England even. How different history may have been... as the book points out rarely has the death of one man so affected the course of history.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

There and back again...

I went to Wales over the weekend, to pick my son up. He finished at uni a few weeks back but stayed over so that he could move flat. He has a really lovely bedsit on his own this year. It is super, the only downside being that you need oxygen by the time you reach his landing! Well maybe that is just an indication of how unfit I am these days. I stayed in a pub just a couple of doors along from him and managed to get a cooked breakfast for both of us which was a result. I was lucky on the drive up Friday. It rained all the way pretty much, just as I was on the last stretch up over the Cambrian's into Aberystwyth it started to bucket down, real cloud burst stuff. On the news that night they reported lots of flash floods in mid-Wales and driving back we saw plenty of evidence across the road, I think I was lucky with the timing another hour or so later and I'd have struggled to get through I think.

He had already moved into his flat in a week or so ago but needed to get some utilities etc. all sorted out which was all done. He'd also been out and about visiting his girlfriend who lives up on the north Welsh coast and to a friends in Bath.

It is really great having him home - suddenly the house seems complete again with everyone there - heavy metal blaring from his room as he swallowed up our broadband allowance watching Slipknot live from Sonisphere and my daughter, who I'm sure is deaf, tries to counterpunch with Tiny Temper (spl?) or some such. The fights over who sits in what seat at the table etc. It is great to have them all at home - although we are all still active against timetables, from the comments on Facebook the loud music from said daughters room that she has on about 6:30 to kickstart the day didn't go well with a lad who wants a lay-in... glad I was already getting in the car as I heard it kick off!

Had a few other things to do over the last few days... my daughter has been finally discharged from the orthodontist which has pleased her, been clearing out stuff, largely started by my son clearing out but we've passed on the old "sand pit", green turtle looking thing, that has been in the garden unused for ages giving it to a friend who's daughter has a little one. So no climbing frame or sand pit ... our garden has never looked like this! Mrs F has looked at "swinging chairs"... err... not quite sure we're that over the hill yet!! My Mum and Dad had one about the time Dad retired I remember.

I'm hoping to play at the Nags Head songwriters night on Wed this week so if any of you are in Rochester area please do pop along, it normally is a really great night. All original material and a great mix. Only problem is with the trip to Wales and other stuff I've not rehearsed at all... might be a bit off the cuff this one!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Read all about it...

So the News of the World is gone. Good ridance, sorry but I've never bought it and the way it has exposed stories always makes me question it's motives and practices. The phone hacking is just the latest - the sting on the snooker player is one I remember where his defence was that he thought he was being threatened and agreed to the bet just to get out of the place. I don't know if it was right or wrong but... it's a snooker match, do I care? No.

I don't like the media so dominated by a small cabal of people in one organisation pushing their views and opinions so much. I don't buy from News Corp on that principle, we don't have Sky, never buy the Times, The Sun etc. Simple I vote with my consumer feet. Shame is in all this condemnation of the actions of this company how many even consider that?

Just watch - The Sun on Sunday will launch in a few weeks with all the same people and same motives... the URL thesunonsunday.co.uk was registered on 5th July people... watch this space. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ... as they say... well Rush did on a track on Hemispheres and I've loved that saying ever since :-)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Stolen

Stolen was a drama by the BBC that was on BBC1 last night. It is on the iplayer if you didn't see it and want to. It is 90 mins long btw...

It was a hard hitting drama about child trafficing in the UK today. It was based in Manchester but no doubt could have been any large town/city and showed the story of three different kids brought into the country for slavery.

Yes I use the word slavery I don't hold back as there is nothing else to describe it. Children bought and sold, forced to work without pay, forced to keep out of sight of others etc.

Following from yesterdays post where I spoke about how lucky I am - it doubly re-enforced that and also made me realise this stuff is happening all around us now. Do I see it - No I don't. However I live in a nice suburban environment where most of the families around us have all lived there since we moved in... in fact I think we are still the "new lot" after 19 years! I actually like that - we know people, they know us - we notice the change in patterns around us. If one of them suddenly had a little girl there who wasn't going to school I'd hope I'd notice... I also hope I'd ask the right questions if they needed to be asked.

There was a great quote from Nelson Mandela (along with Martin Luther King and Gandi one of the true heroes of the last century) "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."

In the 60s a powerful drama (
Cathy come home) exposed little talked about issues in the country at that time - i.e. homelessness, unemployment, parental rights. I was 4 when that was shown but as I grew up it was still a much talked about play. 12 million people watched it. I don't believe Stolen will have been watched by as many last night... however I do hope it has a similar effect on the country. Time to stop accepting and time to start exposing.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

All that I have...

So I was very annoyed with myself over the Bank Rant etc. the other week... btw they have cocked some else up now! But this time I'm trying take it calmly.

It annoyed me that little things, or maybe they were big things I don't know but whatever they got in my head, disturbed my peace of mind and caused me to be focused on negative thoughts. I just remembered a quote I should have remembered in the middle of all this. I can't get peace of mind while I am giving out a piece of my mind.

Some good stuff is happening - my son has his new flat, his 21st is on the near horizon, my daughter has two holidays one with the school - oh sorry that is GCSE PE trip... to SPAIN!!! and the other with her best friend and her family.

There is some other good stuff floating around as well that I'll not share just yet. But I'm trying to focus on the open(ing) doors not the closed ones.

Also on a daily basis I'm working on my gratitude. I have so much, the family, my health, I'm well off relative to probably 90% of the worlds population, I live in a country that allows me loads of freedoms etc., all in all I'm in a really lucky and good place. I need to remember that when there is some little hiccup - let's be honest I'm not starving, freezing to death on the streets etc. etc.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Irony

Don't you love the little irony of the first official visit to another country by the newly-wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is to Canada. Canada for those of you geographically challenge is less than a stones throw from the USA. And the timing of this visit which already has shown a superb level of pomp and fanatical support for the British monarchy is timed to be over the same weekend the USA have their celebration of independence from said monarchy. Priceless. Whoever came up with that is a total genius!