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

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.

Afroman would be proud

hysterical-laughter-cartoonSo…a recent request to, *ahem* “Enhance”, my (almost) famous brownies has reminded me of a story that I haven’t told before.

I was working as an IT contractor in Cardiff.  This was in the run up to Y2K.  For those of you that don’t remember, Y2K was a potential disaster.  Planes were going to fall out of the sky, power stations were going to explode, nuclear reactors would lose control, the tills in McDonalds would make every order a Fillet O’ Fish.

The world, in short, was going to come to a rapid and abrupt end.  All because of the little issue of computer dates being stored with a 2 digit year.  Personally, I wasn’t concerned about the world ending, but I was not above milking the issue for all it was worth.  Hence, I was working for a bank in Cardiff, replacing all of their computer systems with the new fangled 4 digit year based ones and my bank balance with a few more digits again.

This meant a lot of time away from home, living in a B&B all week.  Now, when I wasn’t submitting invoices with totals that most people thought were my phone number, I was partying….hard…in Cardiff.  We were a fairly small group that were all fleecing reasonably charging the bank for our efforts and Cardiff can be quite the party town.  So, we partied.  A lot.

A few stories spring to mind. but I do have a couple of faves.  The first of which revolves around AJ.  AJ is (we lost touch unfortunately) a top top top fella.  A good laugh and a genuine person.

AJ had, however, 2 minor flaws.  #1 His love for the weed and #2 His love for the Vauxhall Calibra.  Now, #1 is not really a flaw and I will get into that later, but #2 is where we are right now.

He decided, after putting in an invoice for about 4 hours work, to use that money and buy himself his dream car.  A Vauxhall Calibra 4×4 2.0 Turbo.  Full leather everything, all the mod cons of the time and more power than a powery thing with power written on it.

Now the problem with leather seats is that they are shiny and often a bit on the slidey side.  We had been bowling for the evening (I know, living the high life right) and AJ had insisted on taking the car.  CP had called shotgun and so I ended up in the back seat.  I don’t fully recall the reason, but I did not have my seat belt on.  Maybe it was faulty, maybe I was just being a moron, but whatever the reason, I was not strapped in when I really should have been.

After a period of mockery over AJs car decision making skills from both myself and CP, AJ was determined to demonstrate the power of this beast.  It was quite late and we were on the Newport Road, which is both long and straight (ladies!). AJ floored it.  The car reacted as though it had, indeed, been floored.  And shot off like your bowels the morning after a particularly vicious lentil curry. I was forced back into my seat and the lack of a seat belt was no longer an issue worth contemplating.  The problem with Newport Road, however, is that as you get closer to the city center, it stops being straight and, in fact, goes into a single lane sharp (75 degree’ish) left turn.  AJ saw the turn up ahead and started to slow down.  That said, we are at this point, doing around 95Mph with the turn rapidly approaching.  AJ braces himself for what is coming, CP grabs the door handle and braces himself.  My problem in the back seat became quickly apparent.  Not only was I not strapped in, there were no rear doors (and therefore no handles).

Thinking quickly, I lay across the back seat and tried to brace my back against the side of the car with my feet pressed as hard as possible into the other side of the car.  I felt secure.  I felt confident.  These feelings were misplaced. AJ had managed to get the car down to around 50Mph at the moment the sharp left could no longer be avoided.

I have to say, I will be forever impressed with that Calibra.  It stuck to the road like glue, flew around the sharp turn, stayed on the road and (most importantly) didn’t kill us or anyone else.  That’s when AJ started laughing so hard he had to stop the car to compose himself.  CP was, understandably confused.  When called upon to explain the reason for his mirth, AJ described what he had seen in his rear view mirror at the moment we hit the turn.  Basically, he had checked the mirror as we started to turn and had seen my head lurch from one side of the mirror, very quickly, to the other side and then a split second later my head was replaced by my feet.  CP turned around to see me, on the opposite side of the car from where I had started….upside down and trying to right myself, whilst crying hysterically with laughter.  Ahh fun times.

Now, that story popped into my head whilst I was thinking of #1 from the AJ book of flaws (if you want to call them that).

So AJ was good friends with a certain plant that is known for it’s relaxing properties.  CP and I on the other hand were, at best, on polite nodding terms with it.  This meant that tolerances were a little different.  We decided to give it a go and AJ, being AJ, made us one of his usuals.  We devolved rapidly into a giggling mess and headed back to our B&B where we decided to continue along the path we had chosen, whilst watching whatever was on the TV.

I remember this vividly, it was the first screening of the first episode of “The League of Gentlemen”.  The town of Royston Vasey was there is all of it’s technicolour bizzareness for us, as relaxed as we were, to enjoy.  For any of you that have watched this show without “assistance”, it is fantastic.  Funny and Dark…typical British Humour at it’s finest.  If you haven’t watched the show, stop reading this immediately and go and watch it. You will love it.  Veterinarians, Job Centers, Taxi Cabs and Frog Enthusiasts will never be the same again.  With “assistance” it is downright dangerous.  If we were giggling before the show, we were close to being hospitalised during it.  30 minutes of laughing so much that we could barely breathe and crying with laughter so we could barely see each other, let alone the TV.  Now that I come to think of it, it could well be the reason that I love the show so much.

The show finishes (not that we noticed) and eventually, CP decides to head to his room next to mine and get ready for bed (we did have to work the next morning).  Still giggling and trying to brush his teeth.  It was that moment that I chose to quote something from the show.  I would love to say I remember what I quoted, it was most likely something innocuous like “Mickey Love” “Yes Pauline”.

I could hear that CP started choking.  The trouble was, I couldn’t move.  The ridiculous noises that he was making started me laughing again.  He stopped choking and, about 10 minutes later, was able to explain that the quote I had made had set him off again…the problem was that he was in the middle of brushing his teeth, almost swallowed his toothbrush and spat toothpaste all over the wall/sink/mirror.  I think I was still giggling when I woke up the next morning.

So, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not dangerous…it nearly killed CP Razz

 

 

The Midget with the Widget…

dwarf_jumping_by_matushyzny-d6nsrp6Ok, so there was no widget and I just wanted a catchy title.  There was however a midget…and so begins an embarrassing tale.  A tale that, surprisingly enough, I have never told the interwebz before.

Picture the scene a young, free and single Dave* is hanging around with a group of somewhat older RAF lads**.  Much to the chagrin of my Dad***…but I digress.  We were regularly found to be going to a Night Club of a weekend for fun and, where possible, hi jinks.

Now, it should be pointed out at this point that the club was in a place called Ashby De La Zouch.  Not, as the name might suggest, somewhere just south of the Dardogne but actually in the far more exotic Leicestershire.

Now for a club in such an upmarket location, it is quite the surprise to discover that there was no dress code.  I know, right?

So, in an effort to stand out, myself and my good friend Craig came up with a series of cunning plans.

Plan #1 – Clothing
We would stand out from the (jeans and t-shirt) crowd.  This involved wearing suits.  It really is amazing what a difference that makes.  Think about it ladies…you are in a club, dressed up to the nines.  Looking good, feeling great and every guy you see is dressed in whatever the early 90’s equivalent of Hollister T-Shirts and Wrangler (hey…90’s remember, don’t judge) was.  Then, in walk two guys that are also dressed to the nines (personally, I would say tens but I guess I am a little biased).  Of course you are going to notice them, maybe even pay more attention to them than the clones wandering around the club.  See…psychology innit.

Plan #2 – Backstory
Now, if you are going to a club like that, dressed like that, it is clear that you are trying to trigger female interest.  That suggests the potential for playing around.  So Craig and I came up with the great idea to be interesting each weekend.  We would pick an accent (for we are both talented in that area) and then pick a job that we could make shit up about.  Weird when most people would have been quite impressed that Craig was a serving British Airman and repaired jet fighters for a day job.  It would probably have just been easier for me to “work with him” and that would have been that.  But that wouldn’t have been fun enough…so we made shit up.  I absolutely can’t remember all of them, but we were (in no particular order):-

Scouse Firemen (duh!), Scottish Oil Riggers, Cockney SAS Servicemen, German Footballers, Irish Vetinary Surgeons, Doctors (recently returned from Ethiopia, thanks Comic Relief for the info on that one)…

Along with various other job and accent combinations that we thought made us all windswept and interesting.  Certainly it made us stand out – Which was the goal after all.

Plan #3 – Cheesy Lines or even Cheesy Non-Lines
“Get your coat love, you’ve pulled.”
“Is that the telephone I hear or are your knickers (w)ringing?”
“Aren’t you tired?” “Why?” “Well, you’ve been running around my head since I got in here”
“I seem to have lost my phone number, can I borrow yours?”

These are just a few of the lines that may or may not have been used.  Adding to that, and I can’t quite believe that I am telling the internet this…to be honest, I will be quite surprised if the internet believes it at all..but it’s a thing…we also used to have a go to “move”.

In the inside pockets of our suits, would be a number of red roses.  The move involved waiting for the object of your lust desires to be sat at a table or leaning at the bar.  You approach, place the rose in front of the lucky (hahhah) lady whilst saying, and this is important, NOTHING.  Don’t look at her, don’t say anything, don’t acknowledge her in any way…then walk away.  You might be surprised at how often that worked.

So, with all of that taken into account, we had reasonable success (as we measured it anyway) and were having a rare old time.  “But where does the midget come into the story” I hear you cry..or at least wonder vaguely.  Well, I am getting to that.

So, we have arrived at the club, suits on and I believe we were German Footballers on tour (please please please don’t judge us, we just wanted to get laid…nothing sleazy Razz ).  Craig and I head straight to the bar and order a couple of beers in our best broken English.  Also at the bar, two women and a little further along the bar two guys…OK so maybe 1.5 guys.

The women decide that we would be prime targets, for reasons best known to themselves, and approach us at the bar.  To be honest, we hadn’t even received our pints yet and had been in the club for around 3 minutes, so we weren’t all that ready and/or interested.  You know what it’s like, you have to warm up, get the lay of the land…you don’t pop off shots at the first person you see when there you have a target rich environment Wink

The ladies seem to get the message and head off, which causes both of the guys to sidle up to us.  Whereupon the tiny one proceeds to give me some advice to “stay away” from their girlfriends.  Had the jealous little fecker been watching the interaction (which I can be fairly certain he was), he would have noticed the direction of the interest and our distinct lack of interest.  However, rather than deal with issues in his relationship, he decides to threaten two people who want nothing to do with the girls anyway, even more so now we know that they have boyfriends.  Meh, guys…what can you do?  Amiright?

Fast forward to later in the night and, to be quite honest, a time where Craig and I are a little drunk now.  Dances have been danced, women have been insulted hit on (and in some cases made out with) and generally a fine old time was being had.  There was, however, one constant..well two actually.  Both of the women from earlier just wouldn’t leave us alone.  We would dance on the left side of the dancefloor…so would they.  Mid-dance we would dance across the floor to a new position…they would follow.  Frankly it was throwing us off our game.  To top it all off, we had the Lilliputian equivalent of the Family Guy monkey tracking our every move.

 

 

 

 

 

After a while, the diminutive dolt decides that enough is enough.  Both myself and Craig have been pursuing his girlfriend (in reverse obviously) for far too long.  He has warned us once, he shouldn’t need to again.  He decides another conversation is in order.

Craig, it should be pointed out, is at this point at the bar.  I am therefore alone, separated from our little herd of two and ripe for the plucking…or something.  The minuscule moron approaches me in the fashion of a mafioso while his friend stays back to keep an eye on both the situation and Craig.

Aspersions on my parentage were cast, Oedipus complexes accused and other such pleasantries were delivered.  I would say exchanged, but damn if those little dudes can’t speak quickly.  Plus, after trying three or four times to point out that neither Craig nor myself were trying anything and maybe he should consider having a chat with “er indoors” instead of the guys she and her friend won’t LEAVE ALONE, I started just laughing at him.

Now, maybe that was cruel.  Maybe he has been laughed at for his entire life due to his height.  Maybe I undid 10 years of therapy.  Or maybe it was simply the fact that I was clearly not listening to him.

Whatever it was, he was quite severely triggered.

Now you might be thinking, quite rightly, why didn’t I just put my hand on his head so that he would be forced to ineffectually swing wildly while I continue to drink my beer…until he eventually tires and I can just walk away?  Well, I didn’t have any beer (that was why I was alone, Craig was off buying said beverage) and secondly, the pint-sized prick was a lot quicker than I gave him credit for.

This meant that he jumped ladies and gentlemen.  Jumped with such pinpoint accuracy that the top of his head connected with my nose.

My node**** exploded and I was too busy trying not to get blood all over my suit to react.  Things went into slow motion, I turned away to avoid Mr Rocket Boots getting another shot at me.  When I turn I see a couple of bouncers heading my way and Craig (my hero) vaulting over the railing that separated the bar from the dance floor.  They all converge at roughly the same time and luckily for the teensy tosser (or possibly Craig the way things had gone thus far), the bouncers were a step or two ahead of Craig and grabbed him before Craig could do anything.

He was thrown out and the police called.  I get cleaned up and carry on my night.  It was a very good night in the end…and no, I did not go after his girlfriend to spite him, although I was sorely tempted.

So yes, a midget with a distinct lack of widget beat me up in a night club.

Jeebus, why do I tell you this stuff?

* much like at the moment
** not at all like at the moment
***meh, probably like at the moment if I bothered to ask
**** You see what I did there?

Home on the range


Love and Lust
So, as I appear to be in a reminiscing frame of mind at the moment, I thought I would share a story about a pursuit of lust love.  This pursuit would lead to my joining a uniformed organisation and would ultimately lead to a shooting incident where a number of people could have lost their lives.

Exciting, right?  Absolutely…prepare…..for….well, disappointment I am almost certain.

Hmm, I have sat here for at least 5 minutes, trying desperately to remember the year that this took place.  Not that it is important to the story, but I know how you all like to have complete facts and not just spurious memories.  Let’s see, I was in Gütersloh, which I left in 1990…so this would have been a year (ish) before that.  Ok, ok…I’ll say 1988 for the sake of argument.

So, back in 1988 I was living in Gütersloh, Germany as my dad was in the Royal Air Force (I may have mentioned this before).  It was fast approaching the summer, my Uncle Fester/Panda Hybrid looks were not even a remote possibility.  I played regular football, table tennis, squash and a myriad of other sports..and I was fortunate enough to be in the relatively “in” groups.  Life was good and I felt good about that.

A particular lady, however, had achieved the dubious honour of having me lusting after her and, indeed, being somewhat obsessed with her.  She was in a group of friends that regularly overlapped with my group, so we were chatting quite frequently.  Despite my (moderate) successes with the ladies…and the group that I was with…I was still abnormally shy about making any “moves”..so I hadn’t attempted to get with the object of my desires yet.  During one of our chats, it was revealed to me that she was a member of the Air Training Corps (a sort of youth Royal Air Force if you will) and that they were having a huge summer event in a couple of months.  After discovering that the event was a full weekend camping, with BBQs, party and other activities…I decided that I needed to get to this event.

Unfortunately, this was specifically an ATC event…no friends or external invites.  What was a boy to do?

After signing up to join the ATC and getting my uniform sorted out, I embarked upon, what I describe to be, a low point in my life.  Low because of what I was going through in an attempt to be with the object of my infatuation.  I attended every week, went to the special events…learned how to march, how to strip and clean a gun and also how to fire a gun.  Eventually, I got the all clear…I attended the weekend event and had a very….very good time….you don’t really need to hear more than that.

That is not the story though….oh no.  This story is based around what happened during my (self) enforced time in the ATC.  As I said, I attended everything that they wanted me to religiously, mainly to make sure that they couldn’t exclude me from the summer event.  Everything.  Including many visits to the shooting range, where we learned about firing various guns…how to keep them safe, strip them down and clean them etc…and of course, how to fire them.

I excelled at firing them and rapidly gained a marksman certificate for every weapon that we were allowed to handle.  I was one of, if not the, best shot out of everyone there.  We would visit the range almost every week and so I got plenty of practise.  This particular visit to the range was no different.

I should probably, at this point, explain how the range was setup.  It was a very long range, lots of dirt on the floor leading from where we shot to the targets at the other end.  The targets were set at about 1.8m from the ground and were supported by (and placed in front of) lots of sandbags.  For extra support (I think), the sandbags were themselves placed on the top of some rocks.  It was a pretty good setup.

We were firing SA-80s from the “prone” position, which is basically laying down, and were instructed to stop firing.  The rule was that you had to make the weapon safe before standing, then check the chambers and place the weapon (barrel facing down-range) onto the table next to your firing position.  We had done this many many many times and were all pretty skilled at it.

For some reason, one of the girls…I shall call her Brandine, completely forgot what she was supposed to do…stood up and went to place the gun on the table.  At the moment that she was doing this, the Sergeant who had been watching all of us intently, decided to act.  I am fairly certain, that, had he approached her in a calm manner and explained the issue, it would have been rectified without further incident..unfortunately, he decided to be a cliche and proceeded, at the top of his lungs, to scream “MAKE THAT WEAPON SAFE CADET BRANDINE”.

As you and I might reasonably expect, this did not have the desired effect on Brandine…what it did do was to scare the shit out of her.  Brandine, who at this point was in mid-reach to the table whilst attempting to put the gun down..jumped out of her skin and immediately dropped the weapon on the floor.

Dropped.  The.  Weapon.

As I am sure you can imagine (it wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise), the one in a million chance of a weapon discharge happened.

The bullet, travelling at god knows what speed, left the barrel which was (thankfully) pointing down range..and was, I swear, kicking up a dust trail as it went hurtling towards the targets…at about 2 inches off the ground.

This of course meant that it hit the rocks underneath the target and I got to experience my first ever real ricochet.  The Sergeant decided to scream again…but this time with a little more justification and we all hit the deck.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to anyone (except Brandine, who was banned from the range)…but it could have done…which makes it exciting.

Surely by association, I am indeed exciting and interesting right?

What do you mean no?

Bastards.

So you see the sort of crap that us guys are willing to go through to get the girl.  Impressive or Sad, you decide…just don’t tell me about it.

Oh, and as for the object of my desires…we did get together at the weekend event…had lots and lots of fun…and 3 weeks later we were both seeing other, more interesting people.

Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Confusion


True Story
I was speaking to CW’s Dad the other day..and he told me the story of a guy wandering into their shop, looking around for a little while and eventually pulling out a prescription for orthopaedic shoes.

SW explained to the gentleman that they were not an orthopaedic shoe distributor and were in fact a specialist brush shop.  SW continued by asking for the gentleman’s prescription** and telephoned the actual orthopaedic shoe shop.  They confirmed that they were, in fact, a good 15km away.

SW asked the gentleman if he would like him to order a taxi, to which he got the following response:

“I don’t want to go there, why can’t you just get me my shoes”

Now, this is a true story about an elderly and, possibly, infirm and confused person…so shouldn’t really be mocked., but it did remind me of what happened to me, many years ago whilst in my Zero Morals phase of selling computers for a living.

Now, I worked in a BIG computer superstore in Cardiff.  At the time, this was the biggest of it’s kind outside of London.

Let me provide you with a little background information.  At the time this story takes place, the superstore had been open a little over a year.  Before that, the building was stood empty for approximately 3 years.  Before that, it was a clothes place for around 2 years and before that it was a hardware store (which moved across the street).  These facts are important.

Picture the scene; a sunny Saturday afternoon, a busy superstore full of the joys of spring and Salesmen with a spring in their step and a desire to rip people off sell them high quality equipment at very reasonable prices.  An older gentleman enters the store.  A feat not unusual by any standard, people young and old venture into the store on a regular basis…we generally referred to them as customers….or potential customers at the very least.

From my vantage point, I see the gentleman looking around the various software aisles…picking up the occasional item, reading the back and then setting it back down again.  He seems to be quite interested in a variety of software packages and I lose track of him in the printers section as I have other customers to deal with.

After 15 minutes or so, I am finished with my customers and waiting for more..when said gentlemen arrives at the PC section.  Where he looks around, clicking various mice, checking the screens and keyboards and even looking at the back of a number of the machines.  Sensing a potential sale, I approach..plastering on my best smile and charming demeanour..and ask if he needs any help.

“Thank you” replies the gentleman, at which point he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a sheet of paper.  I immediately assume that the guy is prepared, has specific requirements and will, quite possibly, begin to challenge my skills in the arena of PCs.

He unfolds the paper carefully, checks it…then hands it to me and simply says “I need what is on here”.

Checking the paper, I am confused..and realising the obvious error, I turn the paper over.  It’s blank.  I turn it back over and re-read the information written there:

  • 4 sheets hardboard – 1.5m x 1m
  • 2 dozen hardboard nails
  • 2 dozen plasterboard nails
  • Medium pot wood glue.

“ummm” says I, quite appropriately I feel.

Me: “umm, I think you may be in the wrong store sir”

Him: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, we don’t sell any of these items”

Him: “Eh?  What kind of a bloody DIY store is this if I can’t get some wood and nails”

Me: “Well…the Computer Superstore kind of not a DIY store”

Him: “No, this is DIY R US”

Me: “Actually, this is Computer’o’rama”

Him: “Listen to me, I have been coming here for years..I know what this place is”

Me: “Are you sure about that…maybe you have been going across the street for years?”

Him:  “Don’t you cheek me young man, I know full well where the DIY store is”

Me: “…….”

Me: “….let me get the manager”

Now I wouldn’t mind except that he wasn’t that old…nor did he appear infirm and seemed to have full control over all of his faculties.  Additionally, by the time I spoke with him, he had been in the store fast approaching 40 (quite investigative) minutes.

It took the manager, leading him to the front of the store and pointing across the road to finally get him to agree that he should go there.  However, his parting shot was “They should really tell people if they are going to move premises”…

No words…

Now, I realise that this is my first post in a very long time…and, let’s face it, there have been some false dawns in the past regarding me blogging regularly again.  So I am not going to lie to you…work is keeping me very busy and, seeing as my work involves writing very large documents on a daily basis…I often get ideas, but can’t be arsed to actually write.  Or, I start writing and then can’t follow my own train of thought.

I will say this, I will “try” and write more often again…but I make no promises.  Also, my daughter tells me that I am in trouble for my assassination of her fave Twi-related vampire story…so there could be something coming out of that.

Cheers
TLW

** Not a euphemism

Learn a 2nd language…it's useful…honest!

Newark Town Hall
Let me begin this post by stating that after 4 years living and working in Frankfurt, I still don’t speak German.  I speak a bit more than I give myself credit for, and I understand an awful lot, but I don’t speak enough.  Something I want to rectify, but things keep getting in my way….excuses mainly, but I digress.  So you can probably imagine how much German I realistically spoke at age 18 and living in Newark.

It was a nice sunny day in Newark On Trent, birds were singing and my heart was joyful as I left work early to go and visit my parents who were living in Wales at the time.  A relatively straightforward journey, truth be told, that began with a quick trip to the bank before I headed off.

Pretty easy right?  I mean, people make quick visits to the bank every day.  Depending on where you are, you drive to the bank, find a parking space and go into the bank…go back to the car and you are on your way.  It gets simpler every time I read that sentence.

So, I am driving through Newark on the way to the bank and following traffic through to where the bank is.  I remember thinking that it was pretty busy, but parked my car outside the bank and went in.  As it was impossible to start my car without knowing how, I actually left the keys in and the windows down and ran into the bank.  When I was stood in the queue, a noise filtered through to me..the noise of someone (not knowing how) trying to start my car.  I grab my money from the cashier and bomb outside to see what all the hubbub is about.  It is at this moment, as I leave the bank that the dim light of realisation slowly descends upon me and I take in my surroundings for the first time.

Probably the biggest thing that I had failed to notice in my leaving work early euphoria, was that it was Market Day.  Not only was it market day…the market was pretty much over.  Not only was the market pretty much over, the “traffic” that I had followed into the Market Square, where I had ultimately parked outside of the bank…was all market trader vans that were driving in to take down their stalls and pack them away.  Also..as I had parked (quite neatly I might add) on the side of the road…there wasn’t enough room for people to drive their (substantially larger than my car) vans, which had in turn created a giant traffic congestion of vans trying to get out of the market place, vans trying to get into the market place and vans, already in the market place, that were trying to manoeuver into position.

In short, absolute frickin chaos.

The reason for the sound of my car trying to start is now abundantly clear to me…they just want it out of the way.  Fair point, thinks I, but how in the hell am I going to get away with this.  At precisely the moment that I realise I have made somewhat of a booboo, the trader attempting to start my car clocks me..and starts heading towards me very angrily.

Quick as a flash, I remove my work pass from around my neck.  There were two reasons for this…#1 I had come up with a plan and most importantly, #2 I didn’t want this monster to strangle me with it.  Onto the plan…

I am not sure why this popped into my head, having left Germany about 2 years previous and having literally no contact with anyone in Germany or the German language during that time, but I decided that I would break into my least stereotypical, English speaking German accent.

Of course, by least stereotypical, I mean quite possibly the most stereotypical, and quite possibly racist, accent I could have come up with.  Lots of “Vot iss ze problem mit my car and vy are you startink it?” type stuff with added “I don’t unterstantink yew” thrown in for good measure.  I swear, if the producers of Allo Allo had have been anywhere near me, I could quite easily have been the next cast member searching for “Ze fallen Madonna viz ze big boobies”.  Alas, they were not around, my chance at stardom passed in a fleeting instant and I was left panicking and sweating that this monster of a market trader was a) buying it and b) not a German speaker….

Fortunately, upon the realisation that I was a foreigner…he proceeded to follow the tried and tested method of speaking slowly, loudly and gesticulating towards my car in an “away from here” motion.  It drew quite the crowd, with other people trying to help the guy to explain to me what was happening.  We had shouters, we had people making brum brum noises and also the Mime artists…I continued to look suitably confused until I finally jumped in the car.  At which point, they were all very kindly guiding me out from where I was parked and away from the Market place.

To this day I still don’t know why none of them thought it strange that a visiting German, with little or no English speaking ability, would be driving a beaten up old Morris Marina…with English license plates.

Ah well…raise your glass to the kindly hearted market traders of Newark

TV ain't what it used to be…

Scrappy Doo must die
Photo by Brett L.
Just recently, I had the misfortune of watching the new Scooby Doo.   What happened to “I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddlin’ kids”?   Whatever happened to thinking that Daphne was really an airhead bimbo and that if you could get those glasses off her, Velma was a right dirty little minx…that Fred was quite obviously gay and wondering what type of drug was actually in those Scooby Snacks?

Now it’s all cell shaded races and evil villains with far too much technology.   Bring back the days of the “gang” running down a corridor that had 1 window, a plant and a grandfather clock that would pass them every 2 seconds.   Frankly I would much rather have that annoying Scrappy Doo on repeat, than put myself or my kids through this crap again.

I will admit that Spongebob is a genius but, other than that, where are all the quality..cheesy cartoons from days of yore?   Gone is the mild mannered janitor of Hong Kong Phooey fame…no more “Your bullets cannot harm me, my wings are like a SHIELD of STEEEEEL” from Batfink.   Even the Saturday morning kids shows are full of watered down, “Everyone is a winner” ponces that are desperate to get on “I used to be a celebrity, get me some publicity” or “Celebrity Big Let Down” or whatever the latest nonsensical reality TV bollocks is.   Bring back Richard “Smackhead” Bacon…that’s what the kids want, someone with an edge…that their parents can hate…in fact I intend to start a campaign to bring back Tiswas.

Now, I am aware that Chris Tarrant went on to be that annoying git on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire..but I can forgive him anything as a result of Tiswas.

Tizwas was a pretty anarchic show for Saturday morning kids TV.   The Dying Fly, Spit the Dog, the Phantom Flan Flinger and Gunge…they invented GUNGE for crying out loud, they had it all.   Take 1 celebrity, who thinks that they should be beefing up their self-important profile by connecting with the kids…and cover them in crap…then get the Phantom Flan Flinger to run up and mash a custard pie in their face and after all of that, drop more crap all over them.   I actually knew kids whose parents wouldn’t let them watch it.   Maybe they were right though, I am pretty sure that a whole generation of rebels were born thanks to that show.     You could take your Jimmy Crankie and Stuart “Ooh, I could crush a grape” Francis, with their oh so “On the Edge” Crackerjack and shove it up yer lady bits “Jimmy”.   Tiswas was…and still could be…where shit got real.

Check it out for yourself….they had The Who!!!   The Who ffs…on a kids TV show :

It wasn’t all great though, we did have to put up with Noels Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, featuring Keith “Cheggers Plays Pop” Chegwin…would later star in Cheggers Plays Pop and then in his own Alcoholics Anonymous campaign.

What about you?   Have you seen anything from your childhood butchered into a “more modern version”?

I’m off to overdose on Tiswas and send letter bombs to Hannah Barbaric for this shite they dare to peddle as Scooby Doo.

Yomping through the Brecons

DSCF0074.JPGSome years ago my Dad decided that we really needed to go for a hike around the Brecon Beacons and I am not quite sure why, but I didn’t try and get out of it.

In fact, Dad managed to rope in my brothers to it aswell and off we jolly well went.   Not content with wandering through the natural beauty of the Brecons like any normal group of people, Dad decided that we needed to take the “road less travelled”..so to speak.

Geared up with hiking boots and all the necessary accoutrements (backpacks, waterproofs etc) we set off.   A small amount of very simple rock climbing, stone hopping across streams…a picnic at the top of a climb and everything was pretty good.   Dare I say downright enjoyable.   Sod it, I do dare Smile   It was enjoyable.

With the exception of Dad, all of us slipped and fell knee high into a stream or two and it never ceased to raise a laugh when someone did.   It was a pretty good boys day out…Kev and Paul even dove from a pretty high cliff into a lake.

We climbed up a small waterfall and when we got to the top, discovered that we would need to cross a stream to get where we were heading.   This meant navigating our way around the ledge of the waterfall…which was pretty slippery.   Dad showed us that we should get our feet set and then fall onto the main waterfall with our arms outstretched.   Then move sideways, always keeping our hands on the waterfall.

Dad went first to show us how it was done….then me, then Kev and finally it was Pauls turn.   Paul, being the youngest was also, unfortunately, the smallest.   As he stretched out his hands and fell forward, he was submerged beneath the falling water…all   I remember, through the laughing and almost falling into the water myself, was hearing *blubblubdaadblubhelpblubglugblugbglubdaad*

Dad stepped into the water properly, waded across and lifted Paul out of the water with one hand.   We got to the other side and collapsed into hysterics, with Paul alternating between angrily complaining and whining.   That’s when we noticed what appeared to be a school trip taking place and the teacher heading over towards us.   I assumed that he was going to have a go at us for setting a bad example or something equally banal.

We try and calm down in readiness for the impending telling-off, Dad is washing his face in the stream…and the rest of us are drying and eating.   When the teacher arrives, he leads with “Do you know what you are doing?”.   He doesn’t seem particularly angry, but still…he is a teacher and this is very possibly his normal anger tone.   My Dad explains that he is a quite an experienced hiker and that, while he apologises for setting a bad example to the teachers class, he does in fact know what he is doing…thanks so very much.

To which the teacher replies…”Ok, so you know that rats piss in this stream?   Just upstream from here as a matter of fact….enjoy your hike”.   With that he smiles, turns and walks away while we start immediately trying to vomit out any water we all might have swallowed, whilst simultaneously laughing at the previously aquatic Paul.

We never did go hiking with Dad again…I am not entirely sure Mum trusted him after that…and we ran out of ant-bacterial mouthwash about 4 seconds after getting home.

Good times…