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

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

Culture Club

get-around-in-english-how-to-be-politeDo you really want to hurt me?
Do you really want to make me cry?

To be honest, I am not referring to that particular Culture Club although, now I have started with those lyrics, I cannot for the life of me get the song out of my head.

I was sick for a couple of days last week and it made me realise how living in Germany for almost 11 years has changed me.  We have a culture (in my experience) in the UK of not calling in sick.  For us it is always better to get to work and be sent home, than it is to call in and say you can’t make it.  I am not sure when that trend started.  Probably when companies started providing the minimal amount of paid sick leave before slamming people over onto Statutory Sick Pay.

Here in Germany, however, it’s different.  The idea of coming to work when you are sick is still a relatively alien concept.  “You mean you would consider coming here and making the rest of us sick too?  What kind of an animal are you?” seems to be the prevailing thought.

It made me think about other stuff that I accept after 11 years that, were I to head back to Blighty for more than a couple of weeks, I would probably face the biggest culture shock since Keith “Big Balls” Chaverton went on holiday to Spain and didn’t choose a package tour (the humanity, they didn’t even have a Red Lion…or Pie and Mash).

So, in no particular order, my top 4 points of difference:

#1 Sickness

Not only do we have the “Sick is sick” vs “It’ll look better if the boss sends me home”.  We also have the classic sicknote excuses.

In the UK, the staple “I need a day or two off” is the “Bad Back”.  In Germany it is Kreislauf (Circulation).  Essentially “I’m feeling faint”.

That’s right, apparently Germany is made up of a nation of 1950s female movie stars who swoon at the slightest provocation.

Also, there is a very firm and national belief that drafts are the cause of all colds.  Case in point, I was on the train a little while ago during a heatwave.  The air conditioning wasn’t working and, as it was a 30 minute journey, I cracked open a window.  Blissful air rushed over my glistening face…followed immediately by a blustery woman who slammed the window shut and proceeded to lecture me that she didn’t want to get sick because of my selfishness.  I mean, god forbid that air should actually move across you in a cooling motion when you are at your very sweatiest.  Ah well.

#2 Personal Space

Now, I am going to be honest here.. I could happily live with reverting to the English style of things.  Germans have little to no concept of personal space.  They stand so close to you in a queue (I have talked about this before) that I have, on a number of occasions, asked if they would at least take me to dinner first!  Leaning across you, standing far to close when talking to you..nothing is taboo.

It’s enough to make your average Brit strap some form of hula hoop based contraption to themselves so as to ensure that they are not violated.

#3 Drinking

This is probably the biggest difference really.  Over here, due to far more relaxed licensing laws, drinking is a more comfortable affair.  You see, us Brits think that we have a drinking culture.  It’s an oft user misnomer.  We don’t have a drinking culture, we have a getting pissed culture and it is a subtle, but distinct, difference.

Germans go out late.  So late, in fact, that at the same time in the UK, people are an hour away (at most) from last orders.  The difference, therefore, is that in the UK it is often about drinking fast before you are unable to drink anymore.  Whereas here, you take your time and if the bar you are in is closing, there is almost always another one to go to.  Also, this avoids everyone getting kicked out at the same time and that leads to a lot less drunken brawling.

The nice thing is, you can always spot the groups of Brits…they are the only ones out drinking at 19:00, wondering why they bothered coming to Germany…only to be wrecked by the time the Germans are starting to head out.

#4 Greetings

The final point for today’s lecture, ladies and gentlemen is a very weird thing and, after over 10 years, something that I am still not fully accustomed to.  Brits are, by and large, a friendly and accommodating people.  We will invariably go out of our way to help people in need and are polite to the point of pain in most situations.  Where we are not good, however, is dealing with strangers in situations where we expect zero interaction.

Let me start you off with an easy example..one to help you understand without making you too uncomfortable.

Lifts.

Now lifts are public things and, in a busy city like Frankfurt, you will rarely end up in one on your own.  Doesn’t matter if it is in a shopping center or a car park, it’s a busy place, you are unlikely to be the only person needing a lift.  Now, in the UK, it is a perfectly reasonable expectation that interaction with fellow lift travelers will be restricted to a nod and quite possibly a smile.  The smile is designed to do 2 things. #1 Acknowledgement…we are nothing if not polite and #2 to let people know we have seen them, should they be harbouring any dark thoughts towards us, we are aware of what they look like.  Now, to any right thinking individual, this is perfectly normal and correct.

Not to a German…oh no no nono.  To the average German, the lift is the perfect place to strike up a conversation with complete strangers that are just trying to get from floor a to floor z without any social anxiety inducing conversation.

Also, when you are walking around during lunch time, Germans revel in the act of reminding you that it is indeed lunch time.  Every single person you meet, that even remotely suspects that you work for the same company, will hit you with “Mahlzeit” (literally, Mealtime) as a greeting.  People that would never have spoken to you (apart from in the lift obviously) are now providing you with information you already know ffs.  It is made slightly more annoying when you are on your way to a meeting and are, in fact, being forced to skip lunch because of it.

The most heinous of them all, as far as I am concerned, is regarding men in the toilet.  Obviously if I could attest to what the women get up to in their toilets, I would be writing this from jail.  The urinal serves one major purpose…quick relief.  You might also consider a secondary purpose, aiming practice, but generally it is there so that your average Brit can get in, siphon the python (or wring out the worm if you are unlucky in that area) and get the hell out.  It is not, I REPEAT NOT, a suitable alternative to whatever passes for the European version of a water cooler.  I do not want to shoot the shit, chew the fat, shoot the breeze or any other idiom you want to sling around.  My penis is out people.  I mean, I hope you aren’t looking and I really don’t want you to but..if I am stood at a urinal, I am definitely there for a single purpose, not because I have some kind of ceramic fixation.  There is a time and place for everything…and you have just failed that sentence in every way imaginable.

Finally, to a Brit the toilet cubicle is a private place.  You should be alone with your thoughts (and possibly your phone).  You should not be forced into have a fucking conversation.  Germans do not appreciate this.  You are therefore forced to ninja your way into the toilets, unseen by anyone, just to be certain that the next person to walk in, cannot be certain that it is you.  Alternatively, and quite possibly dangerously, hold it in until you get home.   At least that way you will avoid being forced into discussing the finer points of life whilst trying to surreptitiously (and above all else quietly) lay some cabling.

I would write more but I need the toilet and it’s at least a 30 minute drive home……

Regrets, I’ve had a few…

regret…but then again, too few to mention.  So sang the maestro and it rings true for me.

I think that most people who know anything about me will agree that 2016 has been, arguably, a year of considerable reflection for me.  Not just reflection, but action taken as a result of it too.

Weight loss, friendships, jobs, embracing the German language, who I am, who I want to be and what I want out of life.  I have reflected and acted on all of these things since the beginning of the year.  I could have wallowed, I think most people would have forgiven me for that.  I didn’t, and I am very proud that I didn’t.  It really would have been easier, now that I look back, but easy is not the same as good.

I have a deep flaw that lies in over-analysis of situations.  Well, I see it as a flaw, others might not, but it tends to lead me to exercising a little too much caution a lot of the time.  Over thinking a situation will often cause it to be too late to act when you finally reach a decision (IF you finally reach a decision).

I don’t recall when it happened, but I hit a point where I started to care what people thought of me.  Not too big of a problem you might think, but unfortunately that escalated to caring what everybody thought of me.  Yep, even that guy walking towards me on the street that I don’t know and will most likely never see again.

Taking self-awareness to the umpteenth degree ladies and gentlemen.  That affected my confidence to act.  I stopped feeling free to dance when I went out, preferring to lean on the bar and nod my head with the best of them.  I wanted to dance, I wanted to have a laugh, but something was stopping me.  I gained weight around this time too and my vanity (such as it was) stopped me in my tracks.  Now I wasn’t just worrying about how people were judging “That guy over there” now they were judging “That fat bastard over there”.  It’s ridiculous the more I think about it.

In short I had, for reasons best known only to the dim dark recesses of my subconscious, generated a massive self-esteem issue.  The trouble was, I either didn’t realise that’s what it was or I wasn’t prepared to admit it.  I acted confident and was able to blag it to a certain extent, but I couldn’t quite carry it off completely.

My work suffered, I couldn’t give presentations, struggled with conflict resolution and became pretty angry pretty quickly with situations that didn’t really require it.  I couldn’t trust any of my decisions properly, at home or at work, so I almost stopped making them.  It was not a good time for Ole Davey.

Moving to Germany helped.  It was something that I had always wanted for myself.  Something that I have been saying since I was 15 that I wanted to do.  So achieving a personal goal like that helped me.  My confidence at work started to come back..culminating in me offering to take over a failing section and get it working again.  Which I achieved.  Presentations, hiring/firing, disciplinaries, meetings and all that jazz were flowing again.  I left there and headed to another place.  Promoted in 2 weeks, being sent to London regularly, involved in all sorts of projects and even sent to Santa Clara for a jolly week long meeting.

The trouble was, my personal life was still problematic.  Don’t get me wrong, I had found a relationship with an amazing woman, but I was struggling to deal with speaking German (even though I could), struggling with calling companies about bills or problems.  When I went out…Mr Confident…when I had to deal with daily life stuff…Gibbering Wreck.  I lost a little weight, but mainly I started looking after myself properly.  So, whilst I was still huge, I at least looked OK.  Slowly the confidence started to filter in and I was able to function a bit better on a daily basis.  Still nowhere near the level that I should have been at, but better.  Mostly I persuaded myself that it was better and so, invariably, it actually got better.

Here’s the big reveal though.  I was diagnosed some years ago with mild depression.  It’s something that very few people know about me.  A lot of people wouldn’t believe it and a lot of people would be like “everyone has mild depression sometimes”.  Unfortunately, that’s not the same thing.  Feeling down from time to time is normal..it happens to us all..it happens to me sometimes.  Mild Depression is a different beast.

Now, I am lucky.  I think I have been prescribed Anti-Depressants once in my life and then only for a short time.  I am able to function and my depressive episodes are, generally, not so severe that I can’t fake it until I actually feel better.  Factor in my recent life turnaround/improvements and I haven’t suffered all year.

Then Monday happened, I got sick.  Being more healthy has had the side effect of allowing me to avoid my standard “start of summer” illness that has always plagued both myself and my mum.    I didn’t even think about this until Monday night, when I started to feel like crap.  It left me feeling run down, unable to train properly and completely lethargic.  These things contributed to an “episode” that I am currently fighting to get out of.  One of the reasons for this post I guess.  So, more reflection.

Things have a habit of going wrong.  I think that is true for all of us.  I got married at 21 and had 2 kids.  Do I regret it?  No.  My kids are amazing and I look back fondly on the time with my wife.  Sure, it went wrong in the end, but that doesn’t stop it being good while it lasted.  I spent a bit of time alone, playing the field and then got with someone else for 10 years and had another 2 kids.  Do I regret that?  No…again, amazing kids and I can look back fondly on the great times we had.

Cue a bit more time playing the field and I, somehow, end up with CW for 7 years.  Do I regret the relationship?  Not at all.  Right up until the break up, the relationship was amazing…at least to me (I don’t mean that to come across as bitterness).  She helped me grow as a person, be more willing to take risks and get as close to being “myself” as I think I had ever been.  Sure, there were still times where I was playing a role, but I was playing it well and a lot of the time I discovered that I hadn’t been playing a role for a while without realising it.

Without her, I would have missed out on a lot of music gigs, some great friends and of course the cake shop.  Seeing the world through someone elses eyes can be a real experience if you allow yourself to do it.  She had a way of looking at the world that made you want to drop your own cynicism and just enjoy shit.

The cake shop is the one that people wonder about.  I think a lot of people see it as a failure.  Which is fair, I was forced to close it and have suffered financially (and continue to do so) because of it.  Was it a failure?  No, not even close.  It was a success.  What failed was my body.  The first 2-3 years of any new business are the hardest.  You have invested a lot and have yet to recoup that investment.  You build debt with suppliers whilst establishing yourself.  After that time, things start to get easier and you will eventually turn a decent profit.  So, yes, it was a struggle…but it was a struggle we were going to win.  Unfortunately, things conspired against me.  The finances were not there for me to hire the people that I would have needed to allow me to recover from my ankle problems, which led to me being forced to work crazy hours and made my ankle problems worse.  Hobbling around a bakery kitchen, alone, at 4AM with your leg in a cast and crutches does not a stress-free environment make.

Do I regret it?  Not for a split second.  I regret not being able to continue longer so that I could have sold the business properly, but it was out of my control.  The painkillers that allowed me to work did nothing, the ones that helped stopped me from working.  It was a horrible catch 22 situation and I was forced to close the doors around 6-8 months too soon.  Even with all of the financial issues that followed, I still don’t regret a minute of having that business.

I definitely do have regrets from the last few years.  The biggest being that a lot of the stuff, described above, has stopped me from being financially sound enough to visit my kids often enough.  Same goes for other members of my family.  I have relied on birthday gifts to allow me to travel to the UK for a visit.

I regret that I didn’t tackle certain things from my childhood when I still had the chance to do so.  I regret that I don’t seem able to get out of my own head sometimes.  I regret that I was blind to the issues in my relationship with CW, meaning I was helpless to resolve them.  I regret not looking after my ankle properly years ago.  In general, I have very few regrets.

I am very lucky and, by writing this, I am hoping to very quickly get over my current “episode”.

For the record, I regret the bar of chocolate I just ate….Oh, and I definitely regret last Saturday night…but the less said about that the better  Fingers Crossed

Insomoaniac

complaint-boxYup, I appear to have it.  I had quite a busy and tiring weekend (self-inflicted and not unusual)…so, imagine my joy when I went to bed last night yawning my head off and looking forward to getting some shut-eye….and then couldn’t.  Despite ridding myself of almost all of my “Organic Thermal Protection” since February, I still do not appear to be able to handle the heat.

Some would therefore say that I should get out of the kitchen but, unfortunately, my company do not have offices in Siberia which would be my only realistic option at the moment.

33 degrees in Mid-September.  This does not bode well for a decently cold Christmas and therefore my Christmas Market trips will be limited or non-existent.  Glühwein and Feuerzangenbowle require, at the very minimum, minus temperatures.  You need to feel the benefit of drinking a hot drink on a cold evening.  Then you can convince yourself it is medicinal or healthy or something.  Which you definitely cannot do when it is 14 degrees and pissing it down.  Fuck you Christmas Market 2015 (and 2014 now I come to think of it), fuck you sideways…with something spikey.

Living in Germany means that we don’t generally do Air Conditioning…what we do have are fans that are happy to burn electricity whilst moving warm air around your room.  These are generally about as effective as a chocolate fireguard.

I did briefly consider sleeping in a cold bath…but figured it would warm up at some point and I would end up awake again.  Iced drinks only help for a little while and so I am left with that most British of options….Moaning.

We are damned good at it.  As a nation we have managed to come full circle and perfected it to such a level that we can moan about moaning.  We moan about other people moaning and we moan when situations cause us to moan.

Wow, that is an abundance of moanage in that last paragraph…I might have to complain.  I am not 100% sure why we moan so much as a nation.  It could be the weather, as people love to tell me.  It could be the food (that other favourite).  I don’t know.

All I can say with any certainty is that if moaning was an Olympic sport, the event would never actually start because the Brits would still be moaning about the rules, other competitors, referees, colour of the stadium, time of the event and anything else you can think of, until after the closing ceremony takes place.  And then we would moan that we didn’t win.

I try not to.  I really do, but sometimes it’s the only option.

My point is I like it warm, but I don’t like it this warm and my diet precludes Solero based up-shut-fuckery (that’s for you Peter Kay).

Ermahgerd! I hate trains

997-public-transportActually…that’s not strictly true.  The trains themselves are rarely the issue.  I mean, sure, sometimes the Air Conditioning doesn’t work which makes for especially uncomfortable travel in 30+ degree weather with a full train and no windows that open.  This issue can then be multiplied to extreme discomfort when the driver shuts down 2 carriages and forces 4 carriages worth of people to cram into 2…with the aforesaid lack of windows/air conditioning.

At that point it is not the train itself, but people in general, that I hate.

Occasionally I have an extreme dislike for the train station that co-ordinates badly and then forces said “Sauna Carriage” to be sat on the tracks, in sight of my destination…literally.  The other day I was actually watching people buying frigging Ice Cream while my train, with no word as to why, proceeded to sit for 10 minutes without moving the 200 meters or so required to…you know….LET US OFF THE DAMN TRAIN.

I digress.  What I am driving at here is that despite these things, what I really hate are the other train travelers.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing.  I suspect it is.  First off, queuing.  Germans are bad at this.  English people are good at this.  It’s a fact of life.  Like the French eating cheese and surrendering all the time, you know, common knowledge.

Germans queue in the same way that people who watch Bruce Lee films do martial arts. Thinking that they can chop and kick their way out of any situation without training.  They kinda sorta almost understand what a queue is, but they get it hideously and comically wrong.

Take yesterday (no seriously, take it please)…Due to the ineptitude of the planners in Frankfurt (don’t get me started), the trains are running somewhat erratically at the moment.  This means that my journey begins a good 45 minutes earlier than it needs to, just to ensure that I make my connection…a connection that is a mere 4 minute train journey away…but I digress.  The first thing you notice is that everyone spreads out along the platform in an effort to be in the correct place to be at the door when the train pulls up.

Next comes the inevitable jostling to try and maintain your position at the door.  Immediately after this, the person that has won the battle of the door, realises that there are about 300 people that would like to get off the train and they are now blocking the exit.  Cue more jostling as the people behind spot that this person will need to move which could leave an opening.  Factor in the average German  persons complete disregard for personal space and I am quite surprised when fights don’t break out.

For my part, I position myself in classic queuing pose, complete with shakes of the head and tutting in the right places when people try and move me out of their way.  In itself, attempts to move me are pretty funny.  Yes I am no longer the man hillock (I would love to say mountain, but I am not that tall really) that I once was, but I am still pretty big.

Then comes the zombie shuffle onto the train and the veritable sprint to a seat where you will be, hopefully, left alone to your thoughts.  Again, I must confess, my innate Britishness lets me down here.  I hit the window seat, but do not do the bag on the spare seat, spready outy thing that stops all but the most determined seat finders..so I am often disturbed in my comfort.

So far so moderately annoying.  The real fun comes when you get to your destination.

In an effort to get off the train in one piece, people will invariably get up and head to the door of the train a short while before the train actually arrives at the station.  Not too bad really, but I think that if I had not picked up a car recently, and was forced to go on the train too much longer, I would sit down, wait for the train to pull out of Frankfurt and immediately stand-up and head for the door…such is the competition involved in getting off the train first.

Now normally this wouldn’t affect me, except for the fact that I generally have around 3 minutes to get off the train, out of the station and across the street to make my tram connection.

On the way home I am, generally, far more relaxed.  Not always, but generally.  If I am at the door, trying to barge past me is going to piss me off.  Especially as there is nowhere to go…the fucking door is still closed.  Breaches of queue etiquette notwithstanding, barging me out of the way when the doors begin to open will really rile me up.  Now, here’s the thing, if you are in a rush and immediately sprint away the second the doors open, I will be OK with it.  Your need is clearly greater than mine.  However, and I think it goes without saying that this happened to me recently, sprinting down the platform is not an unrealistic expectation of mine.  If you do all of that, get onto the platform and then proceed to saunter down the platform in front of me at a pace that would have the most lethargic of snails and sloths bored out of their minds, expect serious and I mean SERIOUS….tutting.

Still, the car will make it all better…then I only have traffic problems to deal with. Much less stressful  Cry

Super Diet!!

catdietSo, I am being asked more and more for my “secret” about losing all of this weight.  Well, it really isn’t a secret and I have been providing the information to a few people who may or may not be following it.

Here’s the thing, a diet that works is very easy to find.  There is no magic formula.  Take in less calories than you burn in a day.  Simple.  If you do that you will lose weight.  Now, if you add in exercise to the mix, you are burning more calories and the same diet will have a more substantial impact.

It really isn’t rocket science.

I think that one of the reasons that diets don’t work for a lot of people is that a lot of the time they end up being a chore.  Those things you like to eat become more and more important to you as you continue to deny them to yourself.  Especially if you are following a diet created by someone else without you in mind.  This will invariably mean eating something you aren’t that keen on…which will, in turn, increase the intensity of your cravings.  Eat things you enjoy and can look forward to and you don’t really crave anything…or at least that is my experience.

Additionally, and I will admit that this could simply be my OCD talking….routine is important.  Get into a routine quickly and everything you are doing becomes normal.  It is no longer an effort as it is just what you do.  There have been a lot of times that I have decided, halfway through the day, that I simply don’t want to exercise today.  Either I have been tired, not feeling 100% or whatever.  Then, after getting home, I have remembered that decision about halfway through my training.

I had a good friend work this out for me and I am glad he did.  I had a number of criteria though.

#1 Exercise has to be do-able at home

#2 Diet has to consist of foods I enjoy eating

#3 I can’t be forced to eat lunch

The reason I put those criteria in place is to give myself the best possible chance of following through and sticking to it.  I know me and I am pretty honest with myself, which means I know my flaws.

#1 If I had to go to a Gym or go out every night on a run, I would probably manage it for a while and then the excuses would start.  Especially if I was tired.  Doing the training at home meant that there was never an excuse.  If I was home, I was able to train.

#2 I think this one is pretty obvious.  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I have been dieting on Pizza and Burgers.  It just meant that, whilst my meal plan is very repetitive, I actually like the diet food and am therefore happy to eat it (and even look forward to it).  I am lucky in that I don’t get bored with food.  I either like something or I don’t and, if I like something, eating it over and over again is not a problem to me.

#3 This was a personal thing.  I rarely eat lunch and have been this way for 20 years…possibly longer.  So if the diet was hanging on me getting that extra meal in per day, it would happen for a while and then I would forget about it.  That had to be avoided.  To be honest, I never eat breakfast either, but I was willing to concede that as long as breakfast required little to no effort, meaning I would avoid forgetting and then not have time.

I already had an exercise bike/clothes horse at home…so that was the exercise sorted and I had a 3 tier food steamer that had been unpacked and never used…and so it began.

Food:

Every Morning:
1 banana and 1 boiled egg plus a cup of tea with milk and sugar in
I tend to boil up half a dozen eggs and then fridge them so they are ready each morning

Every Lunch:
Nothing

Evenings:
Approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour before I want to train, I eat a Banana
Training (30 minutes to 1 hour)
20 minute hot bath (I was initially worried about my legs being in agony the next day..now its just habit.)
Directly after the bath :-

Evening Meal #1
Skinless Chicken Breast (Oven Baked) with Steamed Veg (I always have Broccoli and Cauliflower, but then add either green beans or a pea/carrot mix). I sometimes throw some tomatoes in the oven with the chicken.

Or …..

Evening Meal #2
Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber and Either Tuna..in brine not oil (only mixed with salt and vinegar, no mayo) or baked chicken. For dressing, I only use vinegar…not oil based dressings. Sometimes I put a boiled egg with it

Before bed:
Cup of tea with milk and sugar

Obviously, for me, the diet above was strict…no cheating…that’s all I ate per day. No breads/pasta/potatoes/butter etc.  I switched to black coffee as with my coffee consumption I was drinking upwards of a half litre of milk per day (I haven’t taken sugar in my coffee for years).

Chicken is great, because you can flavour it how you want..I do curry, chilli, chinese, italian, smoked…all sorts really – Every meal tastes different enough to stop it being boring.

My routine is to stick the oven on just before I start training, and then stick the food on to cook when I finish training and start running the bath. Then, 15-20 minutes after I get out of the bath, food is ready Smile

You need to try and time it so that you get an absolute minimum of 1 hour (much better if you can do 2 hours) between eating and going to bed.

Exercise:

Exercise, for me, was dead simple. Use the exercise bike on a comfortable setting.  I did this every day…yes, 7 days per week.

To start, do 45 minutes to an hour every day. Pace yourself so that you can complete the full amount of time you set for yourself…but not so you can do it too easily…You want to be out of breath and sweaty, just not in need of medical assistance.  If you can manage it, make the last 2 minutes as intense as you can.

I started at 18-20kph for example and positioned it in front of the TV so I could watch a show that kept me distracted.

For the last couple of months I have been doing 30 minutes at 36-42kph. Yesterday, for the last 2 minutes I was at 55kph.

As I am now starting to tone up, I have added a Rowing machine and a workout plan from my friend (press ups, crunches, dips etc) into the mix. So I still train every day, but day 1=Bike, day 2=Rowing, day 3=Press ups etc..

When the bike gets easy, my friends advice was to keep the resistance level of the bike the same, but increase the pace or the time you do it for…don’t keep increasing resistance as you will build muscle mass in your legs and won’t realistically be able to track your weight loss.

For me, it really helped to weigh myself every day, and I tracked my progress in a spreadsheet where I listed how much I weighed at the beginning of the month, then how much I weighed every day and the exercise I did (Time/KM for the exercise bike, Time/Strokes for the Rowing etc). Other people say that this is a bad idea…It’s down to you.

On top of all this, I still allow myself one night a week (usually on a weekend) where I go out drinking. I still train and stick to the diet, but don’t worry myself about the beer.

Personally, I have noticed that it is more important to train the day after beer than it is to train on the day of the beer…take from that what you will.

Also, now I am toning and maintaining the weight, I don’t worry if I miss a day of training from time to time.  As I now know what I need to do to get rid of any weight that may have built up in the off time.  I am still training every day and, whilst my diet is largely the same, I snack if I want to as long as I keep it in moderation.

And there you have it, the secret to my success.  Do with it what you will.  If you are able to follow it as I did, it will definitely work.  However, if any part of it won’t work for you, chances are that none of it will.

The main thing is, you need to want to do it.  Don’t do it for other people, don’t do it because you think you should.  Do it because you want to do it.

Good luck!

(Using this diet/training plan, my weight loss since February 1st 2016 is 39.5KG at the time of writing this)

Love is…

…a many splendored thing apparently.

That said, and cheesy songs notwithstanding, times they have a’changed.

I have been saying this for a long time now, and I hope I don’t get any hate for it…but Men (boys, guys, geezers etc) are the new Women (girls, gals…you get the point).

“But what do you mean by that?”

Let me first add this disclaimer, I don’t see it as a negative thing in any way shape or form…really.  No really.  Also, there will be a modicum of generalisation…but it is simply my experience and observation.

When I were a lad….yes TV was in colour and you have to read that in a Northern English accent…When I were a lad, the female of the species were not quite so forthright as they are now.  I am sure they were just as strong and knew what they wanted, they just didn’t show it as often.  Jeebus I sound old..press on regardless Dave, press on…

There were certain expectations of guys to “take the lead” in a lot of areas of life.  Being the provider is the obvious one, being able to have a serious career and from the perspective of single Dave….Making a move of the romantic persuasion.

So why are Men the new Women?  Well, think about it.  Look around.  It is now a genuine, and fucking awesome btw, option for the guy to be a stay at home Dad while Mum brings home the bacon.  It is normal for women to pursue, and be successful at, previously male dominated roles…the reverse is also true.

Now I am not saying it is perfect, I am not saying that there isn’t still a struggle for women to succeed, I am not suggesting that we have hit equal opportunity utopia…but it is definitely on it’s way in the right direction and I honestly believe that we will get there.  Should it be a struggle?  No of course not, but we come from where we do and where we are is a million times better than it used to be as recently* as when I was a kid.

Where I see the biggest change and, talking to my friends about it, other people agree..is the arena of luuurve.

No longer are women prepared to fake orgasms and tell you that you are the best lover in the history of lovers.  Nope, and this is the good part, they now help you and guide you into areas and positions that make it better for both of you.

Now, as a nice guy, this makes me very happy.  Let’s face it guys, we don’t really change.  If we get to have sex, we will orgasm and enjoy it.  This will happen just the same if it lasts 5 minutes or 5 hours.  We are a simple creature with simple needs.  We are definitely more aware of the needs of our partner…but at the end of the day, our needs are pretty cut and dry.  So guidance, for the nice guy, guarantees that both of you have fun.

So sex has changed, for the better, but to get to that stage there is the romancing phase.  This is where the biggest difference is and where I find myself floundering a bit.  Back in the day, you approached and were either accepted or rejected.  Simple.

Now….well….frankly I am still trying to figure it out.  Women seem to want a decisive guy.  Which to the logical mind of the bloke means the same thing as it used to.  However, when a guy does this he is creepy, aggressive or a “player”.  When he doesn’t do this he is weak.  They want a nice guy who they get to know, but when they get to know them they drop them in the friendzone (even when, by their own admission, they like the guy).  They want someone that is fun, but then they find they can’t take that person seriously…not fun enough and they are sullen.

I guess what I am trying to say is that women need to MAKE UP THEIR MINDS…. We men find ourselves in the unenviable position of where women were a long time ago, waiting for the girl to make a move or, at the very least, give us the clear sign that will allow us to “act like men” and make the move that they expect us(??) to make.  It reduces us to the behaviour of school children, tugging on pigtails and hoping for a reaction.  The role reversal transition is clearly not complete.  Were it complete, the woman would simply make the move (and it does happen, occasionally) and be done with it.  Unfortunately for us blokes, we seem to be in a middle ground of women having both sides of the role right now.  To be honest, I am impressed that anyone is getting any these days…

Ladies, my recommendation would be to carry your personal rules/wants/dos and don’ts in the form of, say, a flyer that can be handed out to every guy that comes within 3 feet of you.  This would save a lot of hassle. Especially if you make it a checklist and provide one of those little Ikea pencils.  As a bloke, I can then just run through the list ticking things off and provide the signed form back.  Possibly with the numbers of a few references so that you can verify that the information is correct.  All being well, we can get it on.

That would work, right?

* Fuck you – I know what you are thinking.