It’s all about the perception….

I gave up smoking a while ago and I have been thinking about this for a while now. I think it’s fair to say that Vaping has a perception problem. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. Too many people don’t understand it, or simply see it as an alternative form of smoking as opposed to the safe/safer alternative to smoking that it is.

I have only been Vaping since September and I have already lost count of the times I have had to explain what it is and why it is different to smoking, so I can only imagine it is the same for other Vapers.

I even adjusted my behaviour to accommodate other peoples perceptions. Let me give a small example: My friend owns a bar here in Frankfurt and it is a non-smoking bar (smoking bars are still legal in Germany). However, as Vaping is not bundled in with smoking here, he allows people to Vape in the pub. I was still going outside with the smokers though as, unfortunately, from a distance vapour looks like smoke and we had a few people see me in the corner with “smoke” being produced and assumed it was a smoking bar. My going outside with the smokers had the effect of reinforcing the idea that Vaping and Smoking are somehow connected. I no longer Vape outside.

Because of this perception and the (conspiracy theory alert) “news” articles with old/not researched/misinformed (and in some cases downright lies) information that, and I have zero evidence mind you, could conceivably come from Tobacco companies, Vaping is seen as flavoured smoking or a portable Shisha (also tobacco btw).

I think that we need to separate Vaping from Smoking.  I mean, other than the way vapour and smoke look from a distance, they are entirely different.  What we run through our tanks could be bought from a supermarket (nicotine additives aside, assuming you add nicotine, which a lot of people don’t).  One of the biggest ways I think we could help this separation is to stop referring to Vape devices as E-Cigarettes and the Vape Industry as the E-Cigarette Industry.

There has been a lot of fuss recently, and rightly so mind you, about the IQOS (Heat not Burn) Device as it basically contains filterless cigarettes as refills.  As it doesn’t burn, it can be argued it’s not smoke that is being produced and the manufacturer can make the argument that it is a part of the E-Cigarette scene.  It uses electricity to heat up the “cartridge” after all.

And this, is where I think the issue is with everyone using E-Cig as a term.  It minimises the differences and perpetuates the idea that Vaping is linked to Smoking.  It allows manufacturers to play with the term and find ways to get into the “E-Cig” market with devices that are then seen as legitimate alternatives to Smoking.

Vapers talk about harm reduction and being less dangerous..the problem is, so are these other devices, it’s just the degree of reduction and how much less that is the real issue.  Most studies that have been carried out so far, show Vaping as being up to 95% less harmful than a cigarette.  Presumably, studies will also show that the IQOS is “less harmful than a cigarette” too, just not 95% less.  It could be 1%, it would still be true.

Vapers are generally well informed about Vaping.  For most of us, it is a hobby (regardless of our original motives for switching to Vaping) and people with hobbies tend to get into their hobby in a big way.  It’s unreasonable for us to expect people that don’t Vape to bother doing the research and being informed in the same way, so we need to help them and distance Vaping from Smoking entirely.

I’ll end up rambling and repeating myself, but I think it’s something to think about.

TLDR:  E-Cig Name Bad – Vape Name Good

**UPDATE**

The other Vaping related topic I have been thinking about is this idea that Vaping is somehow a gateway to smoking.  I think that this is party down to the connections and perceptions I mentioned above, but I think it stems from so many Smokers trying Vaping and then, for one reason or other, going back.  This somehow means that Vaping is a gateway.  My take on this is very simple…what the fuck are you talking about?

Do you see drinking milkshake as a gateway to beer?  Maybe apple juice as an introduction to cider?  The idea that someone, even a young someone, will choose to stop vaping their favourite Jam on Toast (nicotine free btw, because Nicotine additives are only for ex-smokers who are already addicted to nicotine) and move over to buying packs of Benson and Hedges is patently ridiculous.  Vaping is a one-way street.

I realise that it is a fashion thing right now for kids, they are impressed by cloud chaser tricks and the massive variety of cool flavours out there.  There definitely needs to be careful consideration of packaging and legislation controlling quality from a safety perspective.  Vaping is no different to any food product that is ingested in that regard.  But please, stop the misinformation and learn to provide people with the correct information.  I would much rather that my kids felt comfortable coming to me and getting good information on what they should be buying/avoiding, how to take care of their batteries properly, coil safety etc than risk them following a fashion thing on their own, in secret, with zero understanding (or worse, crowdsourced understanding from friends).

I think that ended up being more of a commentary on parenting techniques than I intended, but the point is still valid.  I think my overriding thoughts to this entire post is one of perception and information.  We need to ensure that the correct information is out there and we need to avoid lumping Vaping in with Smoking.

Vape Nation Baby

I am currently 3 weeks in to an experiment and, I have to say, so far so good.  What is the experiment I hear you cry (well, some of you…one of you..the voice in my head…whatever).

I have joined the Vape Nation..sort of.

Now, a little disclaimer:  The possibility exists that there are quotes out there of me saying that I would never vape.  These quotes may, indeed, be true.  However, I should also point out that I also said that I had no interest in “smoking” Lychee and Custard, Almond and Lavender or any other such combination that always ends up at Watermelon (seriously, fuck watermelon in the most painful of holes).  Additionally, I had zero interest in walking around like Thomas the fucking Tank Engine and putting out enough clouds as to render me practically invisible from all satellites.

So taking all that into account and, despite my desire to switch away to something better than cigarettes and ultimately get off cigarettes altogether, it didn’t look like vaping could ever be a realistic option for me.  Then, a few months ago I was chatting with AS about it.  He started explaining the different types of Vaping and offered to research the best possible gear that would reasonably recreate the feeling of having a cigarette, without actually having one.  A little while later and I am at 3 weeks since I had my last smoke and have not felt even a little stroppy.

My weight hasn’t suddenly ballooned, I am not irritable (well, anymore than normal at least) and I genuinely enjoy the tobacco flavour that I found.  I am not going to lie, it took a few days of getting used to it, but now I am a seasoned pro (in my mind at least).  As a result of what she saw with me, LA has bought the same gear and has managed to cut back to a few cigs a day.

It works, produces roughly the equivalent vapour to what a cigarette produces in smoke, tastes OK and has some nicotine in it.  I started at 12mg, which was a mistake.  I essentially spent my first day without cigarettes high on Nicotine.

So there you have it, the next stage in my self improvement kick is well underway…fingers crossed I can stay off the smokes Smile

I am off to load up on Apple Strudel and Custard with chocolate sprinkles, that sounds perfectly normal right?

I should probably post this

So, after the weekend I just had, it’s probably a good idea to post this.

I should point out that noone knows what happened, including me.

I was out on Friday night, and we ended up moving on to our typical moving on spot. At some point, I realised I had hit my limit and needed to head home. T had already left and left his jacket behind, so I grabbed both mine and his jackets and headed out.

I could have grabbed a cab right outside, but I thought I wanted to grab some food.. I remember seeing the food place and deciding just to keep walking to the next taxi rank (I do that a lot since I lost all the weight). And that’s it, that’s all I remember until I woke up, surrounded by people and the paramedics. I was found, face down with a large cut on my forehead, cuts on my face and no small amount of pain in both shoulders and my neck.

It wasn’t until later, at the hospital, after they had checked me, scanned me and generally looked after me that I was able to think about going for a smoke and went to check my jacket. That was when I noticed that my wallet was there, but empty… Same for Ts wallet from his jacket. Still there, but all the cash gone.

It’s hard to say what happened. The doctors said it looks like I was worked over, especially with the bruising on my shoulders and back, like someone hit me with something across my back. Without that bruising, they would assume (and so would I) that I was more drunk than I thought, and fell over like a moron. The trouble is, noone knows. I would like to think that I fell over and that opportunists nicked the cash, as opposed to a full on mugging. I just can’t be sure.

The upshot is that I have stitches in my forehead and will most likely have an interesting scar (chicks dig scars right?) and a lot of back/neck pain right now. Oh, and I am able to pull a duck face for selfies without even trying… So, silver linings right?

So, why post this?

Well, a few people have commented with things like “Frankfurt doesn’t seem safe” and “Why does this keep happening to you?” or things along those lines. Understandable if I think about it, but it needs to be qualified I think.

I have been in Frankfurt 12 years now and in all that time, precisely 2 things have happened to me.  Last year, I made a decision to step in and help someone, and have been (essentially) suffering for that decision for the last 10 months.  However, that was a decision I made.

And then Friday night.

That’s it.

Now you could, rightly, argue that one (possible) mugging in 12 months is more than enough and, certainly from my perspective, you would be right.  However, it doesn’t make me particularly unlucky, a victim or Frankfurt any more inherently dangerous than anywhere else.

Does it suck?, absolutely, am I now going to be worried about walking through town?, nope.  I won’t let the actions of a couple of morons dictate that for me.  I just don’t see it as a massive issue.  Whatever happened, and whoever got my (and Ts) cash, they were idiots.  They failed to spot my phone in my front pocket and got away with, maybe, 100 or so euros.  People like that will get caught, they were clearly opportunists and I was drunk.

So there you have it, a very sore, but largely lucky and still Laughing Wolf.

T visited me in the hospital on Saturday and pointed out that noone used to mess with me before I lost all the weight, and then “IF” posted something very similar on Facebook…so maybe there is something in that  LOL

Also, I’m not entirely sure how long the swelling on my face will last, so if anyone wants any selfies with me….now’s the time.

Woof

 

4 months on…no change

So, I probably could have written something before now, but it would probably have just been a rant on the state of healthcare in Germany and my personal feelings about it.  However, let’s do it a little differently.

I have been pretty busy, as usual.  In fairness I would say that I have arguably been busier than usual if I am completely honest.

Yes my knee is still screwed, no the police haven’t done anything, no I can’t change that…so, we move on.

In terms of the knee, for the last week or so I have been unable to use any pain relief due to being given a Cortisone course.  The idea being that the tablets will help reduce the swelling under my kneecap and allow me to get the movement I need.  However, if (when) this doesn’t work, I have to spend a week in Hospital with a constant drip of cortisone directly to the knee and “Extreme Physiotherapy”.  That last bit is a direct quote from the doc..so imagine my joy.  Still, at least there is finally a plan for treatment on the table.

So, for the last week or so I have been suffering from the various side-effects of the drug. Which has made daily life interesting, in an “are you fucking kidding me?!?” kind of way.

A couple of months ago my middle brother got married and the whole family came together.  It was a superb weekend and everyone had a great time.  A few stand-out moments for me:

  • Someone pointed out that it was funny I was on the “kids” table.  My response…read the names, sitting at a table with all of my kids was the best thing I could have hoped for.
  • K & L wanting me to be involved and asking me to be a human megaphone for announcements through the day
  • Getting to have my first proper drink with 2 of my kids, as they are now old enough.  Oh, and having them buy their old man a drink or 2.
  • My Mum fretting that we were massively outnumbered and my Dad working out just who we had and then sitting back and stating “It may only be 17, but WHAT a 17…I would take on the world with this group”
  • All of the speeches from our side of the family revolving around stories about alcohol…My fave being “Dad taught us a major life lesson…when you are having a skinful, make your last one a Malibu.  Because, when you inevitably throw up, it will taste like coconut”
  • Everyone laughing at that, especially us 3 brothers…as it is a true story.  Also, Z turns to me and say..”Yeah, Granddad told me that too”.

I will be going back in May for the wedding of P & S, so I fully expect another blinding weekend.

During the last 4 months, I haven’t been able to train..so I managed to gain about 12kg.  To counter this, I got a Hand Exercise Bike…and, despite looking like a demented hamster when I use it, in the last week I have managed to shed 4 of the 12 that I gained.    I am starting to believe that I really should be as small as I now am.  The slightest bit of exercise and I drop kilos like lepers lose body parts.  The other, not considered, upside is that I am now doing a massive upper body workout every day…Who knows, I may end up ripped…but with tiny tiny legs.

I built, or more accurately helped to build, a Gaming Community.  We are over 100 members strong already and are now looking into bringing more games on board and taking this thing as big as possible.  For me, it was a nice way to reuse a dormant domain that has too much meaning associated with it to let slide.  WolfLAN is back and we have a totally custom website that one of our members built for us.  It. Is. Awesome.

If you play Overwatch or like to Role Play some AD&D, look us up.  We are a very active community.  YouTube videos are being made, streams are being twitched, laughs are being had.  We have even managed to reconnect with a few old WolfLAN’ers from back in the day.

On top of all that, I still manage to be very busy with IT for people outside of work.  Upgrades, repairs, troubleshooting, websites, phones…if it’s IT related, I am probably helping someone.

I’ll be honest, it’s no wonder I haven’t written anything for a while.  I will try and rectify that from now on Smile

Here’s the thing.  Despite the problems I have with the knee, which really limits my mobility and what I can achieve in a day, my life is still awesome.  I am still Mr Positivity and am enjoying life.  I don’t feel the need to make any big changes.  My life is full and varied.  My friendships are very important to me, my family is important to me, my hobbies are important to me.  I wouldn’t change where I am (figuratively and literally) for the world.   I guess the only improvement I could conceivably make, right now, would be a relationship.  Assuming I find the right woman, of course Smile

Also, Deutsche Bahn can fuck off…although I suspect I will write more about that later.

2016…so, that happened

I haven’t written anything in a little while, mainly because I have been a) too busy and, more recently, b) in too much pain (more on that later).  That said, I figured I would reflect a little on 2016.  The year that, if Facebook is to be believed, was a shower of absolute shite from start to finish.

I think it would be easy for me to jump on that bandwagon as well…but I won’t.  You see, for me, 2016 was a year of contrast and change.

I can’t lie.  2016 started off looking positive.  Plans were made, lives were going to change, everything was going to be great.

Looks, however, can be deceiving.  It turns out that, instead of great things, someone had placed me under the rear end of cow.  A cow that had diarrhea of apocalyptic proportions, following a year of constipation.  In short, it was messy, and it stunk.  Enough people have heard/read enough about it and, honestly, I have talked about it enough to last me 5 lifetimes.  It’s enough to say that my post Catharsis was written in an attempt to get me over it.  It helped.

It was around this time that I had some good things start happening.  I was being pursued by a few agencies that were desperate to place me in a better job.  Friendships that I thought I had lost were there, and stronger than ever.  So, in that true style of people coming out of a long term relationship…I set myself some goals.  So began Super Diet.

Now, my friends were (rightly) cynical.  To be honest, so was I.  I didn’t want to be that typical guy who tries to change everything about his lifestyle just because he is single again.  I figured I would lose a couple of kilos, feel a bit better about myself and then go back to normal.  Yep, they were my own expectations…so it wasn’t entirely surprising when people were skeptical, especially when I was talking to them about it whilst on my 6th pint Smile

So I found myself, a very short while after Catharsis was written, being far more social, being courted to jobs, losing weight and generally feeling great about life.

In May I landed a great job.  Back doing the sort of work, and at the level, that I am skilled for.  My German skills had already improved to a good level, but now I was working in an IT role again, only now totally in German.  Not something I would have expected to be doing..especially with any measure of success.

My circle of friends had widened and my social life was awesome.  I had even reconnected with some old friends that I had missed deeply.

In July I was back in the UK for my Birthday and saw all of my kids.  It was a wonderful week away and seeing my family react to the “new me” was fantastic.

The job continued to go great guns and my contract was extended.  I was given more and more responsibility and began to have a real impact on the business.

I “tinkered” with a couple of “relationships” along the way, but mainly I was just trying to have some fun and avoid being my usual self.  Which meant not falling into a long term relationship with the first woman that wants to see me more than once.  To be honest, finding a new relationship wasn’t the focus and I was both surprised and happy with that.

My 2016 had gotten off to a horrific start, but was now motoring along quite nicely thanks for asking.

And so it continued, right the way up until the beginning of December.  At the end of a fantastic night out celebrating the birthday of the one and only MK…I decided to be a hero and paid quite a heavy price.

I’ll make this the short version though Smile

So, I was chewing through a very disappointing kebab (they ran out of meat, so I had some veggie thing) and I spotted a lad hassling a woman.  I don’t like seeing this sort of thing, but she was handling it and, at the end of the day, he was just being a cock.  I did keep an eye on what was happening though.  Honestly, I think it was more of an annoyance for her than anything else.  Until it wasn’t.

The guy decided that he wanted a little more than words and grabbed her.  Her demeanor instantly changed from annoyed to scared and I stepped across.  I decided to use my words, admittedly aggressively, and a friend of the guy stepped in to calm things down..”He’s just drunk, we don’t want any trouble” etc etc.  So, in my eyes, the situation was ending.  Unfortunately, that was when the original moron decided to blindside me and sucker punched me from the side where I couldn’t see him.  I was then jumped on by him and 2 of his mates, where they proceeded to kick me in the head and stamp on my leg until I blacked out.  I came around a few minutes later to see the original moron on the floor under a pile of coppers, but I couldn’t walk.

I am sitting here, writing this, in no small amount of pain and waiting for an operation that will, hopefully, happen this week.

Damage Report:

  • Medial Collateral Ligament – Torn
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament – Broken (The Doctor actually used the word Destroyed)
  • Meniscus (right side) – Torn
  • Meniscus (left side) – Torn
  • Femur – Fractured and Dented!
  • Tibia – Fractured

Additionally, and arguably worst of all, there was some serious damage to my pride (I believe the medical term would be “Fucked”).

Not bad for a night out.  That said, I am glad I stepped in and I would do the same thing again, no questions asked.

So that was my 2016.  It started off badly, was awesome in the middle and ended up badly.  I don’t tend to put expectations on this sort of thing, but I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a good year for me personally.

Happy New Year Smile

Am I really so untrustworthy?

sorry-i-cantI need to get serious for a few minutes.  It’s something that I do on here from time to time.

I try to be honest I really do.  I try to help people and give them my real opinions when they ask for them.  Genuine advice, with no agenda (even if it hurts me personally sometimes).

If I say I am going to do something, be somewhere, help someone…I always follow through.

I mean, OK, I did have a few years where I made excuses and didn’t take up invitations…but sometimes you don’t want to do something and don’t want to hurt peoples feelings..that’s OK right?

Normally, when people get to know me, they know that they can rely on my word, my honesty, my commitment.

I don’t lie.  It’s a point of pride for me.  So is trust.  I need to know that I can trust people and it’s important to me that people feel that they can trust me.  I work at it every day, with people in the office and friends at home, to make sure that they feel I can be trusted.  I am often asked for advice,  spoken to in confidence and people do this knowing that I will never betray that confidence.

In years gone by I have been guilty of manipulation.  It’s not something I am proud of, but it allows me a certain level of understanding of when people are trying that with me, or indeed others.

Life is a learning experience, you take what happens to you, what happens to those you care about, and you make things better for you and your loved ones.

I have a lot of friends and very few enemies.

In short, I am trustworthy and honest, to a fault sometimes.  Someone you can rely on.

So why is it, when I say I am not going out this weekend…

NOONE FUCKING BELIEVES ME!!!

I will state it here once more, I am definitely not going out this weekend.

Well, maybe tomorrow for a couple, but definitely not tonight..

Damn it

Fuck you

The lengths we go for love..lust…luurve?

aircadetsSo, back in the day as a younger, more simple soul…I would fall in love with monotonous regularity.  I am pretty sure that teenagers the world over suffer from this.  Especially hormone riddled males of the species.

When you became besotted with a particular person, you would go pretty far in your own little pursuit of happiness.  With that in mind, and trying to forget the fact that I seem to have regressed to this exact stage recently, I bring you a tale of 15 year old Dave, overcome with desire for a particular 16 year old lady.

The first thing you should know about me, I never really had any desire to join the Armed Forces.  I lived the life, enjoyed the perks and ignored the dangers, but it was never really in my foreseeable future to join up.  I had plans, such grand plans and the Armed Forces were never going to do it for me.

So you can imagine the surprise expressed by my parents, when I came home one day and let them know that I was joining the A.T.C. (Air Training Corps).  The A.T.C is essentially the Junior Air Force without all that pesky war zone stuff.  You would do drills, learn marksmanship, team activities and a whole host of other stuff.  You also wore, what was essentially, the RAF Uniform.

I think they assumed it would be good for me and would help me become a better person or something.  Which meant that they didn’t really question me.  This was good, as I hadn’t really been able to formulate an excuse for wanting to join up.  Don’t get me wrong, it had some nice side benefits.  My Dad showing me how to polish your boots properly and press your uniform in that “Just Right” fashion that is expected of those wearing it, was great.  Quality time with Dad, check.  Becoming a Marksman with a variety of weapons was also fun.  I did actually have a good time when I got there…but my reasoning may have raised an eyebrow or two in my general direction.  I’ll take you back a few weeks before I walk through the door and announce my intentions to join up.

It is a few weeks earlier and I am at school with mates…

Friend 1: “You doing anything this half-term then?”
Me: “Don’t think so, Dad has to work, so we are deffo staying here”
Friend 2:  “Same here, anything going on?”
Friend 1:  “ATC have their weekend BBQ and Party.  Doesn’t help you two though”
Me / Friend 2:  “Party?? What Party??”
Friend 1:  “They do it every year.  Camp out for 3 days and do a massive BBQ Party.  Music and the whole thing.  You can take your own tent or share one of the massive ones”
Me:  “Amanda (Can’t remember her actual name…sorry) is in the ATC right?”
Friend 1:  “Oh dear…yes, yes she is”
Friend 2:  “Dave, where are you going?”
Me:  “Joining up, you coming?”

You needed to be a member for a while before they would allow you to the party.  They didn’t want people just joining up for the BBQ weekend and then leaving you see.  So the timing of the conversation was good as it meant I joined up just before the cut off time.  What it meant, however, was that I had a few months of ATC’ing to do before the party.  As I already said, it definitely had its benefits, and I did actually enjoy it…but I always knew I was only going to be there until after the party.

So, did it work?  Well, yes and no.  We got together on the weekend of the party and then had a blissful month together before we both “fell in love” again and went our separate ways.

I do know that I took my own tent, I also know that we had a moment of terror when they came around shining torches on the walls of the tents to make sure that the hormonal teenagers were actually asleep and, more importantly, alone.

I also know that I left the A.T.C about a week after Amanda and I broke up.

Totally worth it though.

 

Want to finish early? I’m your guy!

733tdgSo, in the past, I may have alluded to my morals taking a little while to develop.

It is fair to say that, as a young teenager, living on RAF bases around the world and being lucky enough to have access to amazing facilities, I was your fairly typical privileged git.  I don’t think I was a bad person, but I did take a lot of stuff for granted that I most definitely wouldn’t today.

Anyhoo, when you are of that age and at a good level of privilege, you tend to think of yourself as 1) Invincible and 2) The center of the known universe.  This can lead to behavioural “quirks”, shall we say.

My quirk was to be something of a “prankster” I suppose.  Although I didn’t prank for the yuks, I pranked for personal gain. Namely, getting out of school early (with yuks along the way of course).

Now, these things happened a very very long time ago, I am not this person now and, more importantly, I sincerely hope the statute of limitations has expired…so, here we go.

I’ll start off a little light.  Some of you will be content to read this, and then ignore the rest of the post.  “That’s not too bad” you might say, “We still like you”.  Ahh, hope springs eternal.

Early Leadership Skills Demonstration

I think this is still pretty standard but, before you get to choose your “options” (the lessons you intend to take exams in”, you are forced to live through years and years of lessons that have been forced upon you.  Maths and English were clear along with Sports and Science.  Unfortunately for me, Religious Studies was also thrust upon me like a Catholic Priest with a packet of Smarties.

Now, to suggest I am not religious is an understatement akin to “Donald Trump is not always respectful to women”, so imagine my joy at having an hour of my life taken from me, multiple times per week.

I should point out that, from my perspective, this all started when I told the teacher that I disagreed with being in the class on “religious grounds”, seeing as I had none.  Her reaction did not leave me with the feeling that I was being taken seriously.

I decided to take action.  To begin with, a subversive action.  I started to get the rest of my scholarly colleagues riled up about being forced to go to this class and, after a few more lessons, I made my move.

I staged a walk-out in the middle of the lesson.  Everybody followed.  It was perfect and I managed to reign in the desire to just walk off the school premises and into the victorious sunset.  Instead, I got everyone to sit on the steps just outside the classroom window.

The teachers response, after she collected herself, was fairly predictable.  “Detention” she cried.  I must confess that at this point, my colleagues were nervous.  Detention was during breaks for us, and none of us wanted to miss out on those.  So, grasping the momentum, I decided that we wouldn’t do detention either.  Nor the next detention that was set for us and we would all enjoy ourselves in the quad when the lesson was supposed to take place.  In the end, I was “invited” to the headmasters office for, what felt like, negotiations.  These talks ended in an accord.  I would ensure that the class would be full of attentive students, the religious studies teacher would allow the lesson to be a discussion of religion in general and the headmaster would not suspend me and/or involve my parents.

I probably should have gone into politics.

An “Alarming” Turn of Events

So, occasionally, we didn’t want to be in class.  This happened a little more frequently when I first got to a new school once.  I was never stupid, but I was lazy and, to that end, this meant ensuring that I was in a high enough class level to get decent grades, but not so high that I was expected to do anything spectacular.  Back then, when you arrived at a new school, you would take a series of tests that would determine your class level for various subjects and I was always very careful to put myself on the top end of the middle.

This meant that I could sail through most tasks, looking good, with very little effort.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at this particular school for my tests, I wasn’t paying attention and did the first test properly.  I rallied on the rest but the damage was done…top class for English.  I then spent the next 6 months trying to get kicked down a level or two to resume my laziness.  I was ultimately successful, but not before I had discovered the remedy to hard work.

It was a pretty old school with, importantly, very old fire alarms.  None of this break glass and push a hi-tec button malarkey.  No no no, ours were the old school and Frankenstein’esque lever jobbies.  Whilst fecking around with one in the hallway, I noticed that there was a balancing point where it would either try and continue it’s journey into the on position, or go back to the safety of the off position.  Thing is, it took anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to decide.

Thus began English lesson escape gambling.  Hands would be held in the air, toilet breaks would be requested, the fire alarm lever would be primed and seats retaken whilst work resumed.  If, after 5 minutes, nothing had happened, someone else would request a toilet break and it would begin again.

I am not sure if they ever figured out why the alarm would go off every couple of days in the same hallway, at roughly the same time (you know, give or take 30 minutes).

Now, the next two stories are going to make me sound like a dick…one of them especially…but you really have to understand what we forces kids considered to be normal, daily, life.

I lived on or around airbases from as early as I can remember until I was about 16.  Now, as good as the life was, and you will rarely hear me talk badly of it, it did have it’s associated dangers.  Growing up, the troubles in Northern Ireland were an ever present mention on the news.  Part of that situation that spilt over was the targeting of military personnel, not just in Northern Ireland.  For us, that meant that the gate guards had to carry very dangerous weaponry with live and substantially more dangerous ammunition.

Alert levels dictated our lives to a certain extent.  My favourite (wrong word) story to tell of the time is when we were living off-base in a housing estate dedicated to service personnel, but about 15 minutes from the actual base.  Pretty much in the middle of normal residential areas and, of course, not protected in any way shape or form.  Due to this we had, just inside our doorway, a long stick with a car wing mirror attached to it.  Every time we wanted to get into the car, Dad got the stick and checked for bombs….under our car…outside our house.  You get the point.

The thing is, it would be easy to play that down.  You could be forgiven for thinking that this was protocol and that we were under no real danger.  Thing is, the British Military in Germany were being quite heavily targeted at the time.  Far too many good people had their lives abruptly cut short by bombings and, whilst we didn’t have any where we were, approximately 2 hours down the road definitely did.  These were very real issues.

Thing is, it was also perfectly normal.  So normal that I would ask my Dad if I could do the mirror check today and then get all stroppy when he wouldn’t let me.  We would often be on the school bus, get stopped at the gate, and have armed soldiers with live weaponry walk onto and around the bus, with sniffer dogs, checking for bombs and people that shouldn’t have been there.  We would be messing with these guys and moving the barrel out of the way of our faces so that we could keep playing 52 card pickup or raps on some unsuspecting soul.  I am not saying we didn’t take these things seriously but you adjust really quickly.  Some things that would terrify most people became a part of every day life so, you just get on with it.

Anyway, that disclaimer out of the way, I will give you first a story of my stupidity where I paid for it and then a story of my stupidity, where I probably should have paid for it.

You didn’t think that through did you?

This one isn’t really about getting out of anything early, but it could also be called “You should know better”.  We were back in the UK and I was hanging around with good bunch of guys on a base that was almost entirely dedicated to Officer training.  This meant we had a few extra facilities that other, nearby, bases did not.  The biggest one was a pool.  This meant that people of our age group from other bases would be regularly transported to our base to use the pool for a few hours.

As is fairly normal from 2 bases, rivalry was often quite intense and it was so in this case.  This meant that they had issue with us and we with them.  Their technique was to try and hit us with something (often a fight) just as their bus was due to arrive, leaving them to leg it to their bus and us to get in the shite.  After a reasonable amount of getting us in trouble, enough was enough, so a plan was hatched.  We would allow them to kick off and run, but would not engage. Instead, we would all head to cars and chase them back to their base.  We had assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that they would all live in accessible parts of their base like we did.

So they kick off, we let it happen, we all run to the cars and follow their bus, waiting for them to start dropping people off outside of the base.  Unfortunately, their bus pulled up to the gates as we pulled in across the road from the gates.  The guards got on the bus and we could see a lot of gesticulation in our general area, so we legged it back home.  I pointed my fingers in a gun like pose and pulled the non-existent trigger in the general direction of the bus.

As we all get back to our base, and are standing around the cars having a laugh and a joke, we are surrounded by both military and civilian police cars.  I am grabbed and slung in the back of a police car and so are a number of my friends.

Turns out, and unbeknownst to me, the moment I chose to pull my little finger gun maneuver, was the precise moment that one of the (heavily armed) soldiers was walking over to have a word with us.  Accordingly, I was actually lucky to only be arrested as opposed to being shot.

My Dad was given no small amount of embarrassment and I was in considerable trouble for threatening a member of the military.

So, karma won that one….

You reeeaaaallly wanted to get out of class didn’t you?

Going to military schools means that you have a lot of friends that don’t always live around the corner.  So, sleepovers tend to involve packing bags, getting on a different buses and travelling quite a distance.  So, an excited Dave was happy to be spending the weekend at a friends some hours away from home and had taken his bag to school with him.

Obviously I had packed (or mum had packed for me) some clothes for the weekend, my toothbrush, a towel and, as you do when you know you are going to have to get up on Monday morning a lot earlier than normal…your alarm clock.  So imagine my joy when, during our break, the alarms start going off in the school and we are all told to gather at the evacuation point.  You see, it had happened before and it meant that we were going to be asked to go home early.  Previously, they keep us in the evacuation point until they can get the buses to turn up and then we are all shuffled off.

Unfortunately, this time, that was not to be.  We were all kept for a very fidgety hour while something was brought out and exploded in a controlled manner.  Just before they covered it, and blew it up, a mate of mine pointed out that it looked remarkably like my bag.

Turns out, a teacher had seen my bag under a desk, heard the alarm clock ticking, panicked and called the Bomb Squad.

Fast forward a couple of years and the winter days are dragging.  On a Thursday, a few of us are talking about how great it would be to get home early.  I hatched a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.

When I got home, I packed a bag, complete with alarm clock..

I figured a repeat of my accidental bomb evacuation was called for.  So, I took the bag and left it under a desk before morning break and waited.  Nothing happened.  Noone noticed anything untoward and we were all, quite blatantly still in lessons.

It get’s to the lunch break with nothing having happened and so I decide to act.  I found a teacher near where the bag was placed and simply asked if they knew whose bag it was.  The teacher, very calmly, shooed me out of the building and initiated the alarm.  15 minutes later and we are all at the evacuation point.  I was feeling more than a little smug at this point.

A few of the lads were happy with me.  Sure it was fecking freezing, but it was only a matter of time before we were sent home.

An hour later, the smiles had pretty much gone, we were all freezing our tits off and a van arrived.  The Bomb Squad proceeded to take something out of the van.  It appeared to be a half-assembled Robot Wars reject.  They then spent the next 40 minutes finishing the assembly.  The smiles had now completely gone and some of them had turned into sneers.  I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable as well as freezing fucking cold.

Once assembled and tested (another 15 minutes) and the guy with a giant remote control steps up and throws the thing into high gear and things are starting to look up again.  Sure, when the alert was triggered we were looking to be out of there 4 hours early and when the robot started moving, we were still looking at 2 hours early, so not bad.

Unfortunately, there then began the worlds longest waiting game.  One of the things about remote controlled bomb disposal robots, one of the MOST IMPORTANT things, is that they are designed to be able to pickup packages in a safe and steady manner.  This means that they do not shake about, lurch about or…….MOVE QUICKLY.  30 minutes after it started moving, it reached the door to the building.  30 minutes more and it collected the package.  Almost an hour after that it had managed to bring the package out and deliver it to a zone full of people in heavy full body armour and carrying controlled explosion stuff.

We were now looking at leaving on-time.  Which, considering we had been out of class the whole afternoon, I was still choosing to view as a win.   My friends (although it may have been a stretch to call them that at this point) were not so enamoured with spending 4 hours outside if the freezing German winter.

Sadly it was not to be.  The controlled explosion took another hour to setup and a further 45 minutes to check the whole thing and clear up before we were allowed to move towards our buses.  So, my efforts to leave 4 hours early on a Friday afternoon, led to us leaving 2 hours late on a Friday evening…

Not my finest hour.

This house is clear…ish

man-fluWell, certainly clearer than it has been for a little while.  Although, if you listen carefully through the night, you could be forgiven for thinking that my apartment is ground zero in the origins story for The Walking Dead.  It starts off innocuous enough, a sniffle here, a minor coughette there and, before you know it, “BRAAAAAINS” or something.

What the fuck are you talking about Dave?  Man Flu.

I know, people thought it had been eradicated but the large red X that has been painted on my front door, along with food delivery drivers turning up in Hazmat suits, suggests otherwise.

Women will never be able to understand the plague that is Man Flu.  A singularly sexist disease that targets the strongest amongst us and returns us to the state of mewling babes.  I mean sure, they have Child Birth and the monthly Visit*, but nothing to the level of Man Flu.

Man Flu attacks the brain and disables the Fuckula Givelongata.  Whilst recently under the control of Man Flu, I manage to use the Fuckenstien Giveafuckometer and I honestly thought it was broken as it did not even flicker.  Subsequent tests with less accurate devices such as the Giveashitometer and even the very basic Offyourarseoscope  and I realised how serious a bout of Man Flu I had contracted.  After failing to make a difference with the Impetus Grantus**,  I quickly employed the Refuckulator*** but, unfortunately, this did not have the expected results and I was forced to conclude that I was not long for this world.

What was a boy to do?  I made an announcement on Facebook.  Let’s face it, if it isn’t on there then it’s pointless.  I have to say that my heart was warmed by the outpouring of sympathy from the people there.  They only had one concern and it fair made my day (to be honest, I feel like it probably made my hole weak) and that was, of course, for the well being of..well…all my stuff.  Within minutes, my PC, Recipes, Cakes and even my beloved fitness equipment was already allocated out.

Readying myself to pull the plug and allow the Man Flu to finally consume me, a shining beacon of hope appeared.  IAP.  She had heard the call and, while she couldn’t hope to understand the suffering, dipped into her Gypsy handbook and sent unto me the only known antidote to Man Flu….Jewish Penicillin.  Sure enough and a day later, I was cured.

I realise that I will have to purchase many many sprigs of heather to absolve myself of this debt, lest I be cursed to have all of my MP3s become Baby by Justin Bieber, but it is a price worth paying and I will gladly do so.  For Man Flu is not to be trifled with and you can’t always have Gypsy Witchcraft on your side.

I was lucky, you may not be…so pay attention and avoid drafts.

This post has been brought to you by the letters M and I and S and O and…fuck it…it was brought to you with Misogyny Ok, misogyny and a large amount of cheek based tongueness.

*Can we please just address the elephant in the room btw.  How the hell is it possible for a creature to bleed for 7 days without becoming an ex-creature. ‘Tis the devils work I tells ya!

** 1 Coffee and a cigarette

** Complicated to explain, but contains at least 2 coffees and a cigarette