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

Go West….I think they did

LapseHoly crapola…has it been this long?

I think it must have been, I mean, the last entry date seems to be honest, I don’t remember trying to play an elaborate prank on myself.  Ah well, let’s see if we can’t remember how this here blogging thing works shall we?

First of all…LW update:

I am still stupendously happy in Frankfurt, no mean feat for me….5 years and counting, and no plans to leave.  I am considering calling Norris McWhirter

CW and I are still ticking along nicely and enjoying life.  I think our life resembles a “Love Wanted” advert…we enjoy long walks, the cinema, sitting in the sun and drinking coffee and just chatting…
I bought a car, a nice BMW 320i…beautiful, that is until CW very kindly and lovingly points out that the 3 series is considered to be an Asbo car.  Cue slight proudness removal (I still love it though).

Now here’s the thing.  When you buy a car….unless you have a particular requirement….you tend to buy a car you want.  Something that makes you happy when you think about driving it.  The BMW 3 series has always been that for me.  I looked at loads of them and finally settled on a beautiful 320i.  High mileage (kilometerage??) but in absolutely mint condition.  Obviously, living in Germany has the benefit of BMW being a little more available and accessible than, say, the UK.  The likelihood of my being able to afford this particular car in the UK is pretty slim…so I grabbed the opportunity.  The trouble with them being more accessible over here, is that a lot of people have them….specifically people of a certain social group…meaning that the car has a stigma associated with it.

I’ll be honest, this took a little bit of the sheen off the car for me…telling people about the car and having them ask “Are you going to get a tan and start wearing thick gold jewellery?” will do that to you I suppose.  That was until I spoke to my folks about the car…and they were jealous.  It’s the exact model that my Dad has lusted over for years..which reminded me that the car still has something going for it outside of Germany.

So, having driven 900 kilometers, I arrived at my Mum and Dads place Smile …pride in my new vehicle restored.  To be fair, the real reason was to have an amazing week with all 4 of my kids….the car thing was a nice bonus Grin

Anyhoo, I should probably address the title of the post really.

Friday saw the birthday of TZ and the plan was to go to a music festival in Frankfurt.  It was the opening night and full of Electro, Dubstep and other dance rammel.  I will confess that, up until 2 hours before, I wasn’t going…especially when I “Youtube’d” some of the DJs that were playing.  Still, CW persuaded me and I agreed on the grounds that I wasn’t expected to dance.

We arrive at the “Festival” a little after its scheduled start time and we probably should have been paying closer attention to a number of things…

  • 2 people were leaving and chatting as we walked in…they said something along the lines of “What a waste of money”
  • In the building, directly next to the festival area, was a table tennis party…
  • We couldn’t see anyone milling about outside
  • We said we would try and get in for ?5 instead of ?10…they agreed without any argument
  • There was a tent that was advertising “Ethno Jazz” – Now, this tent was empty, having finished earlier in the evening…but still…wtf is Ethno Jazz??  Someone needs to explain that one to me

If you take any of those things on their own, you can be forgiven for going in anyway, but if you combine them…I forget why we were there.

Still, we had paid and had beers in hand, so we decided to stay…walking into the “Techno Room”, we see one guy dancing away quite happily (doing the UK wedding dance from what I could see).  The girls immediately head onto the dancefloor and let loose for a little while.  A few more people start arriving about an hour later and THAT is the moment when they decide to close down the better of the two “rooms”.

We all ended up outside, having a beer and a chat – It ended up being a really fun night….up until about 4am, when PW decides to have a go on a skateboard that was there…and knackers his Achilles in the process.  CW and I took him to the hospital and got home at around 8am  Confused

This leads me to something else…for the first time, I am starting to feel my age.  Years ago, I could finish work at 6pm, head out and not come home until 4am on Monday morning, get ready and go to work….and I would do that every weekend.  I got home at 8am Saturday morning….and I am still tired now.  I demand a stewards enquiry.  Damn my ageing and frail body….damn it all to hell.

That’ll do for now methinks…more posts in, well, less than a year Smile

It’s….SHOWTIME

Golden Mickeys - Goofy

…or at least it was.

A couple of weeks ago was the birthday celebration of CWs mum.  As you would expect, celebrations were planned and guests invited.  Nothing unusual there…something to look forward to in fact.  However, about 6 weeks before the big day…we are over at CWs Mum and Dads place..enjoying a peaceful coffee and smoke outside when SW hits us with the following:

“So…what are we going to do for your Mums birthday?”

I immediately think “shared present..cool”.  This feeling of coolness is replaced quite rapidly when I realise what he means.

You see, and I guess you can be forgiven for not knowing, they have a family tradition of putting on a show for the Birthday Boy/Girl (delete as appropriate).  Not long after CW and I got together, I was invited to SWs birthday bonanza and paid witness to a rather large scale puppet show that everyone put on for SW, based around a childrens story called “Doctor Know-it-all”.

I was pretty blown away to tell the truth, a lot of work had clearly gone into the stage, puppets and everything.  Everyone had a great time and SW even got presented with a Dr Know-it-all T-Shirt as a memento.

I had been told of a previous show that was setup like the dressing room of an opera or stage show…and how all of the cast were interacting while they were getting ready for their parts.  Again, quite a big thing by all accounts.

Basically, this is a tradition that shows no sign of petering out as many do…and so, SW was asking what we intended to put on for CWs Mum.  Oh yes…that’s right..what WE intended.

Including me.

Me.

Now, some of you know me and others don’t…those that know me fairly well might be surprised to discover that I am incurably shy and incapable of any kind of public performance when all eyes are on me.  Others would call me a liar and point out the teams I have run and presentations I have delivered at work…and they would be right, well sort of.

Work = Money = Need.  So I have managed to overcome the deep rooted terror that strikes me whenever I have to do any kind of public speaking…when necessary to my daily needs.

This doesn’t equate to any kind of survival based necessity, so I was somewhat panicked.

It was decided that we would put on a TV Talent show, in a Britains Got Talent stylee.  We came up with ideas, met every weekend from the decision to the actual show and practised, practised, practised.

I essentially became the technician and critic for everyone and was very happy with this particular role….until the matter of judges was brought up and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I would need to be a judge.  Not only that, I would be wearing a mask of HRH The Queen of England.  Nice one..I insisted that I would not speak..especially as my German is shocking and the audience would struggle to understand English.  I would, however, create some sound effects that would work for me.

So that was that…there were 3 judges (including me), 5 acts and a final big happy birthday song number.  We had intro music, an advert break, judges buzzers, incidental music, sound effects, props and about 25 guests to perform in front of.  SW went out and bought a professional amp and speakers setup…I made use of a laptop, a monitor and a mixer.

Quite the production really.

Part 1:

Judges:  SW as Darth Vader, Me as the Queen of England and the Brother as Dieter Bohlen (think Germanys answer to Simon Cowell…without the humour)

CW was a Michael Jackson dance impersonator who decided to use a broom to dance with and could barely get back up after almost performing some form of splits move

Ickle Sister 1 had a singing fish..and a lot of attitude (not many people have their fish spit water all over Darth Vader)

Advert break

Part 2:

Judges:  CW as Darth Vader, Me as the Queen of England and Ickle Sister 1 as Dieter Bohlen

Ickle Sister 2 played the Vuvuzela…spilled a load of stuff out of it…got angry and smashed the Vuvuzela into pieces…then ran away screaming when the Police sirens were blaring

The Brother was the ultimate performer who, when buzzed off for being…well…crap at Breakdancing, managed to get a 2nd chance and sang acapella for the Queen….she was not amused….nor was Ickle Sister 2, who was refused a 2nd chance.

SW was (and may now forever be) Moni..a drag act, who forgot to shave and got very excitable when reaching the end of her/his song

Final:

Everyone came together to sing a song made famous by a Frankfurt comedy duo.

For me, the highlight of the evening has to be watching CWs Grandad fistpumping and generally rocking out to the final song..that and being told by a very drunk The Brother, that I am a pussy for not drinking…this was when he noticed I hadn’t been drinking all night (at around 2am).

I will be putting it all together as a DVD gift for CWs Mum, so I will inevitably share some of it on here when it is finished Smile

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

Better late than never

Happy New Year
Now, before you go saying anything..I know, I know..I have been remiss.  I completely failed to take advantage of the perfect opportunity to start the year as I mean to go on.  Namely, I didn’t make the (seemingly) obligatory “Year In Review/Happy New Year” post.

I did plan on writing one…then got busy and put it off for a while..then work was crazy and I never seemed to get beyond the title and intro.  The thing is, 2009 is a year that, well, happened…or at least that’s how it seems from reading a lot of other blogs and talking to friends and family.  Most people I know couldn’t wait for it to end and get a new year started..on a personal level though I seem to have bucked the trend.

Sure, it had it’s difficulties..or at least what appeared to be difficulties to start with.  I was out of work early on, which was really strange as I found myself recovering from levels of stress that I didn’t even realise I had.  What should have been a stressful and worrying time for a Brit living in Germany whilst unemployed, was actually a lot of fun and very cathartic.  I mean, I met CW, had a decent break from working..reconnected with friends and family and then took a job that I didn’t expect anything from except to pay the bills.

As I sit here now, I am still with CW and loving every minute of it, am in regular contact with my kids and my job is going fantastically well.  Life.  Is.  Good.

So for me, 2009 could have carried on as long as it wanted, but equally I am looking forward to what 2010 will bring.

I had the best time over Christmas and New Year.  I went over to the UK just after Christmas Day to spend a week or so with all four of my kids.  It was fantastic..all four, together..I can’t describe how great it felt.  They are all growing up so fast..and growing into great people.

You know how when you meet someone new, and it seems to be heading in the right direction,  and you introduce this person to your family..normally on a relatively slow and steady basis?  Maybe you meet your Mum for a coffee with them..possibly Mum and Dad at the same time for a get together or meal?  It’s kind of exciting and nice and new all at the same time..but you get time to adjust and get used to them all.

Well, that’s how it happened with me and CWs family.  We went for a beer with her Dad, then coffee with her Mum..then I was invited to her Dads birthday, where I got to meet the other members of the family.  It was a slow, steady and very nice introduction.

Fast forward to December 2009 and CW has yet to meet any of my family..trips where one or some of them were planning a visit never quite happened.  We spend a nice Christmas together with her family and then head to Blighty…where she gets to meet my Dad first..at the airport for the 2(ish) hour drive to my parents place..where she then meets my Mum for an hour or so before all of the kids turn up along with the rest of my family.

That’s the same right??

Grin

How was your year and start of 2010?

It's Christmas Time…

a christmas warp
Photo by Chewy Chua
… and there’s no need to be afraid.

Or so wrote the inimitable, and not at all tramp like, harpy marrying, ridiculous child naming, humanitarian and all around do-gooder..Bob Geldof

Now yes, I realise that it isn’t Christmas time yet…despite what the shops and TV adverts are telling us.  However, I have now confirmed my Chrimble plans fully.

I will be spending Christmas Day doing…well…I don’t actually know, beyond calling the kids.  The reason?  Well, I am having a German Christmas this year with the W’s…and Germans celebrate their Christmas day on our Christmas Eve.  It’s pretty much the same as ours, big family thing, lots of food and pressies to open…just done the evening before.

It’s more of a family affair than I am used to though, with pretty much the whole W clan arriving to Oma W’s apartment for fun and frivolity.  In our family, and I think this is true of a lot of British families, we do Christmas day with the kids and immediate family…and Boxing day is when we start going around visiting other family members etc.  I am looking forward to it.

Then, a few days later, we are off to Blighty, where I will be having all four of my kids for once, and I am ecstatic about that.  My family will get to meet CW and I know they are looking forward to it…especially the kids.  After talking to Brandon yesterday, he plans to make a special hot chocolate for her…just incase she is feeling sick from the English beer and too much Devils Food Cake Smile

It is also fairly unique for me, in that I will be doing “Christmas 2  – This time it’s personal” for the first time that I can remember.  Normally, I make sure that the kids presents are wherever the kids are on Christmas day.  I prefer it that way and have never really liked the “2 Christmas Days” thing…

This time though, I will have all 4 of my kids together, and I intend to enjoy it properly…so just this once, I will be doing a 2nd Christmas day…and I love the idea of watching them open everything..I know it’s a little selfish, but I want that.  There is another reason though…and that is that I am not quite as organised as I normally am…by now, in a normal year, over half of the presents would already be at my Mums place for wrapping and sending on…as of right now, I haven’t actually bought anything and intend to start a marathon online shop-a-thon shortly.

Yeah yeah, I know…bad Dad, but still..I am pretty confident in getting everything I need in time.

I know we will all have a great time…even my Mum and Dad, who are likely as not stressing about having a houseful of people…yeah see, you thought your house was big Mum….We will see just *how* big it really is

mwaha muahahahaahaaaaa

Or something

What are your plans for Christmas then?

Discombobulatory ramblings

Movable Type galley. Galera con tipos móviles.
Photo by Xosé Castro
I don’t know if I can say that I am completely suffering from writers block right now…writers malais possibly, writers half a job definitely…the problem I have is that I have ideas…see things, hear things that would normally dump me in front of my PC for a decent writing session.  Now, having ideas is not a bad thing, and definitely suggests that I am not blocked..but therein lies the trouble.  I can’t seem to get a cohesive post together about any of them…or when I do, it becomes a couple of paragraphs and consigned to the draft posts cold storage…never to return.

With that in mind, I thought I would just throw a few things in a post, lest these things never see the light of day at all

Oil Paintings
Today I saw, what can only be described as, the inspiration for every witch every artistically rendered.  Proper, proper ugly…hooked nose, sunken eyes…warts on the face, the whole shebang.  If you visited her house in the evening and she had one of those green facemasks on, that they always show in the movies, you would scream your bleedin’ head off…and possibly set fire to her.

Now, those of you that no me would probably say that I am not exactly Johnny Depp myself..followed by a series of bleeding heart “someone for everyone” and “beauty is in the eyes of the beerholder” nonsense..but seriously, proper ugly…I saw one guy actually stop eating his lunch after she smiled at him** Mothers and Fathers were shuffling their kids off to one side (in fairness, not out of fear of the childs trauma…more out of fear of kids propensity for pointing out things that parents DO NOT want pointing out).

Now, I am not suggesting that she should never leave the house again (unless she wants to), all I am doing is pointing out the wide range of technological advances that have been made in the home delivery arena…nothing more.

Football fans
Are rarely as bad as you think (at least not these days).  Some time ago, I took Zak and Brandon to a Liverpool match here in Germany.  It was only a friendly, so I didn’t really anticipate a full house, especially in the travelling Kop.  I was pleasantly surprised (and a little apprehensive) to see a full visitors section of over 700 fellow reds.

The kids were in awe, and having a great time…and when we went a goal down, a particularly hardened and haggard (old) fan, started chanting some rather abusive anti-german slogans.  He was all on his own, and immediately told to shut it by the rest of the fans.  Other fans took it in turns putting Zak and Brandon on their shoulders and making sure that they had room to stand etc..it was amazing, a proper family atmosphere.

There were a couple of stand-out moments though…bearing in mind that Liverpool fielded a team of people who weren’t even going to feature in the coming season, and in some cases…ever again.  Firstly, as I said..it was a sell out…but it was also a sell out for the home fans too…and it would appear that they were there to see us, the LFC fans.

LFC fans always sign You’ll Never Walk Alone both before the kick off and just before the game ends.  We were a couple lines into it when I realised that the whole stadium was silent, apart from us lot singing.  I thought it was a little strange, but carried on regardless..as you do.  When we finished..their fans gave us a standing ovation…it was bloody mental.  The second stand-out moment can be put down to the cultural differences between fans from different nations.  In the UK, stadium announcers announce the squad one by one.  Each name is read out in full and the crowd cheer or boo respectively (depending on which team you follow).  In Germany, the stadium announcer announces the first name of each player…and the crowd chant their last name.

So, in a perfect world in England…it goes something like this:

Announcer:  Number 9, Fernando TORRES
Crowd:  YEAHWOOOPRARGONANDOYEAH etc

In Germany, this would be:
Announcer:  Number 9, Fernando
Crowd:  TORRES!!

At this particular match, therefore, it went something like this:

Announcer:  Number 9, Fernando
Crowd:  YEAHWOOPRARGONA…uh, hey what the TORRES..RES

I love football me

Why do fools….
…irritate me so much?  I can’t quite pinpoint the moment where my intolerance outgrew my tolerance.  I guess it could be age and I am just on the wonderful route to being a grumpy old man..which isn’t too bad as I hear that it means that I get a country for myself***.  I think I am still holding onto some vestiges of my previous easygoing nature, but more and more I find myself hitting rant mode (as anyone reading this blog recently will no doubt have noticed).  It could be something little like repeatedly pressing the open door button on the train whilst it is still moving, only to then not press it at all when, wait for it, THE GREEN LIGHT COMES ON TO TELL YOU TO!.  Maybe I have just reached an age where I expect a certain level of intelligence from the people around me, or maybe I am just a miserable git who expects everything to happen how I would do it…but is that so wrong – I mean, my ways clearly work….mostly Razz

It isn’t like I am really asking for much.  A little courtesy…some of my seat being available to me and not taken up by YOU with the giant paper to, no doubt, show your importance to the rest of the train.  Papers are sooo last decade anyway..you should at least be annoying everyone with incessant, psuedo-important, phonecalls and constant checking of the latest jokes important work related emails from your colleagues.  Or the smokers that insist on sparking up on the platforms in the No Smoking train stations, and worse than that….in the trains themselves.

The rocket scientists smoking dope on the street…not even remotely covering it up.  The police that check my ID for 40 minutes when doing a random bar check…and try to stop me going outside for a smoke…even though they HAVE MY ID.  Or worse, the guy that was playing with a knife right in front of the police officers when he was told that he couldn’t go in the bar until they had finished, and on top of that decides to try and engage CW in conversation as if we were with him….moron.

What about the ridiculous contract situation with, well, pretty much anything over here.  Forget to cancel a few months before and it automatically renews for a year (or two) with no method of cancelling except paying in full.  The way that you are supposed to be greatful for being allowed to pay for their service.  The ability to freeze your accounts for a ?10 bill….fortunately not something I have dealt with.

I could go on and on…and I am speaking from a position of loving the country that I am in Smile

You have to be Joker’ing…
…right?

I read a while ago that Batman fans feel that Heath Ledgers portrayal of the Dark Knights arch nemesis was so good, that they want to retire the character and not allow any more Joker related storylines for any future movies.

Now, forgetting the fact that the Joker is arguably the best villain in the Batman story arcs, meaning that stopping useage of the character would effectively kill the Batman series…Penguin anyone?  No..you liked him, ok, what about Mr Freeze?  Need I say more?  Still, I said we would forget that though.  So my opinion is this, Heath Ledger was a great Joker…a superb Joker in a great film…but the definitive Joker?  I don’t think so…and I genuinely believe that the discussion wouldn’t have even arisen if he hadn’t died.  I actually thought that Jack Nicholson was at least as good as Ledger in the role…but all of them, including any that may come in the future, pale into insignificance when compared to Cesar Romero…the quintessential Joker if you will.  This man played the original Joker on the Batman TV show..alongside, may I say, probably the finest Batman ever portrayed.  You want “Faithful to the comic books”?..these guys even had the Zapp, Kerpow, Zing, Splats that were daubed all over comics of the time.  Gen-I-Arse I tellsya.  Can’t beat it…

There were others, but some of them were deleted and others were…well…shite.

Smile

** Ok, ok…that would be me….but still!!
*** Sorry, couldn’t resist

Here with the kids

Well, I have been in the UK a week with the boys now, and I am having a great time.   The amazing British weather has lived up to its world wide reputation and been absolute garbage one day and perfect the next…with a smattering of crap interspersed…you know…just to keep you on your toes.

I am driving the worlds smallest car that my brother was good enough to loan me and it has taken us to Swimming Lessons, Football matches and Sundown Adventure Land.   Sundown is a great place, a theme park for the under 10’s, which means you aren’t worrying about bigger kids upsetting or hurting your little ‘uns.   That said, I think it is some form of Chav Mecca…everywhere you turn, you are confronted with shellsuit wearing, 1 year old kid with earing having, obese parents that swear enough to offend a fleet of sailors (and trust me, I swear…a lot, so I know of what I speak).   All of them bowing down to the god of Burberry, ice cream and sweat.   It seriously makes me miss Frankfurt when I am surrounded by this.   Anyway, I wasn’t there to pray with the Chavs..I was there to have fun with my boys.

We took in attractions from Santas Sleigh Ride (in August….seriously) to The Robin Hood Ride and even ended up in Storybook village, where they have created little houses to represent some of the more popular kids bedtime stories…Jack and The Beanstalk was there, Goldilocks and the 3 bears and of course Rumpelstiltskin ( Razz CW)

The kids ate themselves silly with sweets, burgers, ice cream and drinks…made sure their Dad got soaked on the barrel ride and generally tore the place up.   They got to hug the Sundown Bears and went on everything that they wanted to…we even bought Grandad some clotted cream fudge…which was nice.   In an unusual manner, the weather held off until precisely the time that the boys were done and wanted to go home…meaning that we got absolutely drenched during the run to the car.

There was a birthday party for my nephew Josh the other day and, in true LaughingWolf Family tradition, we had a rain soaked barbecue…it was superb…all of the family were there and it was a great night to reconnect with my brothers and chat to everyone.   I don’t really do enough of that, so I should really make more of an effort in this department.

I took Zak to his swimming lesson and was incredibly proud of the boy-fish that was before me…he is even able to do the correct breathing methods and everything…if I am ever in need of a brick to be saved, from the bottom of the pool…I will definitely be asking Zak to stick his PJs on t0 go and fetch it.   On top of that, on Thursday I had the pleasure of watching Zak play football in his team for the first time.   He was fantastic, his team won 5-1 and he scored.   He also survived a tackle that would have gotten most professional footballers red-carded and probably banned.   I was cheering him on like a good ‘un and filming him of course.   I can’t wait to take him next week before I head back to Frankfurt.

Brandon was joining in with a training session for his age group too and he looks to be a proper, tough tackling midfielder in the making…I am really looking forward to seeing his first game in the future too.

Today the weather was, somewhat unsurprisingly, shite…so we decided to bankrupt me further at an indoor play area.   At least I was able to have a sit down and a coffee while the kids knackered themselves out. Saying that, it took me 2 hours to get 17 miles….17 MILES!!   You would think that a large indoor kids play area would be signposted right?   I mean, especially one that is hidden away in the back streets of Lincoln.   Nope, not a sign in sight.   To make matters worse, the road that the directions insisted I followed….no road sign that I could see.   I went past it and instantly realised that it would be the road I needed…especially as I then had to drive around 2 miles at 5 miles an hour just to be able to turn around…and then back (past the road I needed…roadworks you see) 3 miles at 5 miles an hour, just to turn around again and have another go.   Still, the kids loved it and spent most of their time on what can only be described as a vertical drop slide.

So now I am turning into the rain gambler, trying to duck and dive to avoid those pesky droplets of impending bankruptcy and find things that we can do that won’t require me to actually sell one of the kids.

Anyone going to Stansted next week?   Giz a lift!   I’ll be the broken man with a small carry on suitcase, a thumb out and a head full of hopes.   Don’t ask me for fuel money though, Play Zone will have taken the last of mine for a sachet of tomato sauce…bastards.

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…

Christmas=Great, Travelling with amateurs…not so much

Day 11 - Oh TannenbaumLet me just say right now that I have had a fantastic Christmas.   I flew over to Blighty late on the 23rd and, after Dad had been robbed by the car park people for parking in the 15 minute car park instead of the short stay…30 quid for an hour!!!, arrived at my parents place at around 03:30.   Quick hello, quick bite to eat and a cuppa and then bed.   I had to set my alarm as Zak and Brandon were due to arrive at 10:30.

The boys arrive and we have a great day, we wander around Newark..do a bit of shopping for my Mum and meet Dad to walk home (after a mahoosive fish ‘n chip dinner of course).   It was great..tickle fights, drawing, watching TV, playing rugby in the back garden.   They saw the boatload of presents in the dining room, so I told them that Santas helper had been to see me in Germany, and asked if I could help get the presents to the boys.   This went down a treat and everyone was happy.   My Bro gave me a lift to drop them off, which was a drama in its own right…my brothers car is pretty small and this meant that some of the pressies went in the boot and the rest went…well, pretty much ON the boys.   Still, it gave them a giggle.

Getting back to my folks brought the Christmas Eve drinks…my Mum wasn’t feeling too hot and my other brother was at work (boo!), so it was left to Me, Paul and Dad to put in a good shift.   We did this by going on a pub crawl.   In pub 1 I can’t work out why I am so frickin’ hot…to the point of sweating quite a lot.   As we decide to move on because of the crap beer (British brewed Grolsch..eww) I notice that I have been stood with my head directly next to a 100w lightbulb…genius.   We head to another bar and discover Veltins (a regional brew from NRW in Germany).   I immediately settle in for a few bevvies and we have a great time.

Last orders is a little over 20 minutes away when Paul decides I must try Peroni, some Italian beer ffs!   Oh, and witness a Cider slushy type thing.   It was all going well until we see barmaid #2.   Holy frickin’ Mary mother of god…like Golums ugly sister that they don’t let out during the daytime.   Quite honestly it almost put me off my beer.   We escape to a corner of the bar where she is not in our line of sight and get chatting again.   When the next round is called, I decide that I can’t drink beer anymore thanks to this woman and tell Paul to get me a shot.   As he goes off to order it, I say to Dad “If he brings me a whiskey, I’ll punch him in the face”…sure enough, he brings me back a whisky.   I decide not to punch him in the face, but I can’t drink the whiskey..so Dad has a go…and it tastes foul..so he dumps it in his pint, thinking that will take the taste away…it doesn’t.   Paul then pours some of Dads beer/whisky combo into his cider.   This doesn’t kill the taste of the whiskey and we all say “sod it” and head home.   Paul and Dad wake up the next day with hangovers..I feel great (thanks German beer) and we settle in to watch a festive film.

After Die Hard finishes, we begin making Christmas dinner…screw turkey, screw roast potatoes and all that traditional crapola…what we wanted were steaks…steaks so big that you could only get 3 on a BBQ.   Oh, that’s right..we BBQ’d on Christmas Day.   Check out the results below.

Christmas SteaksBest Christmas Dinner EVER!

I met Pauls girlfriend, spent some quality time with my brothers and Mum/Dad, went bowling…had plenty of beers, built Pauls computer for him and basically had a whale of a time.

There is a subject I would like to mention though, and that is the “Amateur Traveller”.   Now, I place that in quotation marks, as this is my opinion based on…well…almost everyone around me both on the way to blighty and on the way back to Frankfurt.

I will do this rant’ette in bulletpoint form, so that hopefully this post doesn’t ramble on for too much longer.

1. Queues: Now, I know that it can be difficult to figure out who is next, especially when everyone else is in single file and directly behind the person in front of you, but maybe you could ask.   This is preferable to attempting to create a 2nd queue, when there is only one check-in desk.   Also, if a tannoy announcement comes on (literally) every 3 minutes to tell you to use the automatic check-in machines before queueing to drop your bag off….try not to look shocked when, after queueing for the better part of an hour, you are told to take your shit and find an electronic check-in machine and re-queue.

2.   Check-In: When you finally sort out your queue strategy and get to the check-in desk, please try not to be surprised when the (very) stressed out woman behind said desk asks to see your passport.   She will also want to see your booking confirmation….oh, and probably the passports of the people you are flying with.   Also, you are flying RyanAir…these are notoriously unforgiving when it comes to their weight limits per person and will want you to either pay, or take some stuff out.

#1 You booked, you knew the limit, don’t fucking argue about it.
#2 Move…if you fucked up, do not delay the rest of us checking in, just so you don’t lose your place in line…you fucked it up…get out of my way.
#3 Have your passports and booking information handy…not in one of the overweight suitcases that you are now desperately trying to repack…causing the passports to fall to the bottom.
#4 Now that you have managed to delay everyone else 15-20 minutes…under NO circumstances try to invite your friends (that have just arrived to the airport) to come to the front of the queue.   This may cause a large Englishman, with more than a passing resemblence to Uncle Fester, to lose the plot and physically block your friends from getting through to where you are stood.   This Englishman may also turn, growl and generally intimidate your friends.   This is probably not a good start to your holidays.

3.   Security Check: You will notice, as you walk towards the roped area (cattle-pen anyone?), that there is a kindly uniformed person there, asking to check your boarding card and passport.   This kindly soul is also asking if you have any liquids (or other items) that need to be bagged before going on the aircraft.   This person is merely trying to give you a chance to sort things out before you head into the security check area.   They are also another reminder to the signs plastered in bright yellow ALL OVER THE AIRPORT.   If you have such items, please follow the lead of the few people milling around the entrance to said cattle-pen and sort it out.   As you follow the cattle-pen to the security check itself, please pay attention to the 4 television screens that are demonstrating to you what you need to do.   If you are unable to see a television that is a mere 3 feet above your head, please feel free to watch the process, right in front of you, as it happens to fellow travellers.   You will notice that they are being asked to remove their jackets, watches, belts and contents of their pockets.   With the right person in front of you, you may even see them remove a laptop and place it seperately in a box.

As we are all around 15-20 minutes late now, thanks to you and your family…please try to follow the travellers in front of you and prepare for your encounter with security.   Do NOT blindly walk to security and moan when asked to take off your jacket, forget the watch and belt and be told to go back to take them off.   Then again to remove the mobile/change and eventually hat.   Try not to tell security that there is no laptop, only for them to see it and have to reverse the fucking conveyor to place it in a seperate container.   Oh, and thanks for being considerate and moving out of the way, so that the people behind you…WHO PAID ATTENTION…don’t have to wait for you to redress your fucking selves.

4.   On The Plane: It is a very narrow walkway, so try and have a little consideration for those people that are desperately trying to get their things in the overhead locker.   Also, if you are lucky enough to get to the over-wing, extra legroom seating…try and pay attention to the flight attendant when they tell you that no luggage or loose items can be stowed by the emergency exits.

5.   Passport Control: Again…you will need your passport here.   Try not to be surprised.   It might also be nice if you could use the 30 minutes you will spend in the queue…TO FIND IT.   Oh, and this one goes to Stansted Airport…there will be more people arriving that are EU Passport holders, this is to be expected…so we would really appreciate it if you could lay on more than, say, 3 members of staff for the EU Passport holders passport control…especially when you have over double that number looking after the few dozen Non-EU Passport holders…mmmkthanks

6.   Baggage Claim: This one also goes out to Stansted Airport.   When you have 5 planes land at roughly the same time, I can understand it being a little hectic…but it surely can’t take a friggin hour to get the bags onto the conveyors.   If it does…seeing as you have 9 conveyors..wouldn’t it be prudent to put the contents of each plane on it’s own…we have all seen Toy Story 2, we know that they all start at roughly the same place.   Try to avoid putting the contents of 3 different planes on 1 conveyor….

And a special mention must go to the bus driver that got me back to Frankfurt last night.   When I ask you, with packet of smokes in hand, how long before the bus leaves…if you tell me “Now”, please don’t leave 25 minutes later…I really needed that smoke after dealing with all these frickin’ amateur travellers.   Oh, and to the Indian pilot who ended up sitting next to me.   If you insist on eating peanuts (or whatever the fuck they were) for the ENTIRE 2 HOUR JOURNEY…please use your other arm so that you aren’t knocking me every 10 seconds for 2 hours…next time, I may do more than simply stopping your arm from hitting me…do we understand one another?   Good!

This has been a public service rant.   Travel safe everyone.