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

Want to finish early? I’m your guy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Leadership Skills Demonstration

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

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

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

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

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

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

I probably should have gone into politics.

An “Alarming” Turn of Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You didn’t think that through did you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, karma won that one….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not my finest hour.

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

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.

 

The Midget with the Widget…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Whatever it was, he was quite severely triggered.

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

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

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

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

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

Jeebus, why do I tell you this stuff?

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

Challenge Accepted!…Mission Accomplished?

Dave - Before and AfterI probably should have posted this a while back, but I am busy with the 2nd phase of my personal reality TV show “Body Transformation -The Self-Induced Trials of a Moron”…

I hit my target a while back.  I dipped below 92KG (a little under 14.5 stone or 200 ish pounds) which was my final target.  That brought my total weight loss to 36KG (over 5st 9lbs or 80 pounds) in 6 months.

Not bad for a lazy fat bastard I suppose.

My current plan involves killing myself on a rowing machine in an effort to increase my upper body strength to the point where I can really hurt myself with a workout that I have been set.  A workout that I simply cannot do at the moment.  It is a real goal for me as it has been set by the same guy that gave me the weight loss program.  Based on results, I don’t think I could place enough trust in what he tells me…so I am really going for it.

Why am I going for it?  Well, I want to tone.  I want what I (now) have to look as good as possible.  I originally thought I was going to just move into a “maintenance mode” where I would make sure to keep what I have achieved, but I realised that I could go for something more.  Something that will make me feel good.  So, that is what I am doing…although being able to achieve a 4 minute “full plank” seems a bridge too far…but, like I say, I trust him.

Here is the thing though.  When you do something like this and lose a shiteload of weight, you inevitably get compliments and praise from people.  Which is great and in a lot of cases acts as motivation to keep going.  It did for me…not only was I seeing results, other people were noticing too and that just makes you want to go on and on.  Add to that my decision to make public what I was doing and, for me at least, I had to perfect level of motivation and accountability to not give up or stop.

That said, when you achieve your goal…something that only months before you couldn’t have imagined ever being able to do, you start to reflect on it.

My reflection turned pride into annoyance. I had been moaning and complaining about my own weight, without doing anything, for years.  The minute I decide to actually do it, I lose the weight easily.  Well, easily to me.  I have told people how I did it and it doesn’t seem that easy to them, but to me it was.  Too easy I suppose, which makes it all the more annoying as I could have done this years and years ago.  I always thought that I was genetically predisposed to be as big as I was.  The few half-hearted diet attempts I made in years gone by did nothing for me and so I assumed it couldn’t be done and that was just who I was.

Now, based on the relative ease in which I managed it, I am thinking that I am probably predisposed to be a thinner guy and I had just let myself go.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make myself miserable…far from it.  I am proud of finally getting off my arse and fixing it.  I am very happy to see women checking me out from time to time and that interest level being increased.  The positives are there….and that’s where the annoyance comes from….I could have had this a long time ago.

So why didn’t I?  Laziness…complacency? Both at a guess..but I do know this, it has definitely changed me as a person.  I am more willing to go out, even if it is just for a short time. Even little things like getting home, getting undressed and then realising I forgot something at the shop…something that I would have previously lived without for 24 hours..I now get dressed again and head out.  Somebody calls me on short notice for something, I make an effort to respond and do it.  It’s great.  I am the type of person I want to be now.  For the most part.

Now, obviously, I could have been doing all those things while I was fat…of course I could.  Being thin hasn’t magically made me a different person.  It has, however, made me (forgive the cheese) a bit more willing to get out there and grab stuff.  Be with friends, help people…pickup some damn milk…whatever it is.

It has affected my gaming though, I have barely gamed in the last couple of weeks.  Although last week I didn’t stream due to party based commitments…I will be back to streaming at least once a week, starting this weekend.  Still, not gaming because I am too busy and am out and about is a lot better than not gaming because I am too lazy to game, or worse, gaming constantly because I am too lazy to go out.

This will, most likely, be my last weight/fitness related post.  Using a public forum like this (and Facebook) gave me the right amount of motivation, accountability and feedback that a fragile psyche like mine needed to keep going and, like the title says “Mission Accomplished”.  I just need to find some other stuff to write about again now Smile

In the meantime, catch up with me on Twitter, Facebook and Saturday nights on Twitch (I hope you like Iron Maiden).  Who knows, I may even get around to actually posting a YouTube video at some point in the future.

Oh, and for the interested amongst you, yes…the picture is really me (6 months apart).

Peace!

Weight Loss Update

1446250367129So, it is exactly 2 calendar months since I started on this journey of weight loss.  In that time I have skipped exactly 14 days of exercise.  That sounds quite a lot, but I was actually away visiting people for 5 of those.  The others, I will freely admit, I was too tired or too busy to work the exercise into my schedule.  But, that means I have missed 14 out of 60 days of training.  Which, admittedly, is quite a lot now that I come to look at it.

I have cheated on my diet for exactly 8 meals (which includes my time away visiting, which accounts for 6 of those).  I don’t include the fact that I still go out for a drink once a week or once a fortnight.

All in all, I seem to have struck a successful balance.

As I write this I have now lost exactly 18 kilos in 60 days.  If that seems a lot, it is.  That said, I have done it the right way and I plan to keep doing it.  I said that I needed to lose 35 kilos to get down to a bizarrely low weight that I can’t imagine getting to.  I have set myself a target of 22 kilos to lose.  #1 that seems a little more realistic and #2 gets me down to the same weight I remember being at my fittest (around age 18).  If I am not happy with how I look, then I will keep going for a bit longer.  Who knows, maybe I will end up losing the full 35 kilos….I doubt it, but who knows.

I had a job interview today and put my suit on (as you do).  Without the belt, my trousers literally fell off.  With the belt, I had to bunch them up a ridiculous amount.  It’s a great feeling.  Except when I caught a glimpse of myself in a window and noticed that I looked like a kid wearing his Dads suit..I ended up apologising for looking ridiculous to the people interviewing me.  I think it went well though Grin

I have dropped 2 jeans sizes and have officially run out of clothes that “used to fit me” and am now moving into the territory of having to replace everything.  My, formerly, perfect fit T-Shirts (most of which I absolutely love btw) now look like tents and that means I have found the downside to this experience.

Damn, I love those T-Shirts.

Tonight, I will have a small drinkypoo to celebrate getting under 110 kilos (109.3 to be precise) and possibly treat myself to something very bad for me…to be honest, I may have to introduce that as a standard thing…between yesterday and today, I dropped over a kilo…and that’s not healthy, despite how happy it makes me.  At this rate I should reach my target in a week or so.

Fingers crossed.