Want to finish early? I’m your guy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Leadership Skills Demonstration

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

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

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

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

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

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

I probably should have gone into politics.

An “Alarming” Turn of Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You didn’t think that through did you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, karma won that one….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not my finest hour.

This house is clear…ish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

** 1 Coffee and a cigarette

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

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……

Insomoaniac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ermahgerd! I hate trains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Frequently Infrequent

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

So I have been sat here for a while, thinking about what to write.  I will definitely be doing some gaming related blogging soon, once the ideas formulate in my brain head place properly.  I looked back at the times when I was blogging regularly and irregularly and saw a pattern.

Regularly – Lot’s of observations and rants, many stories about fun times in the past.
Irregularly – When I remember, normally about stuff happening now.

I think it is pretty obvious what happens to me.  When I am unhappy I am either ranting or harking back to better days…when I am happy, I don’t really have anything to rant about and as things are good, no need for nostalgia.

There we go, pretty fucking obvious when you think about it.  What I would like to do is find the happy medium.  I mean, things still annoy the living hell out of me…I just don’t fixate and get all ranty/obnoxious when I am happy.

It’s due to this that the blog is all over the shop.  No fixed abode…topics a’plenty.  Do I turn it into something else?  Game specific, news opinion etc etc?  Nah…I think the title of the blog really sums it up.  My rambles are Discombobulatory.  It’s what I am thinking about in that moment.  Which is why I have a lot of unfinished drafts and, when I go back to finish them, I can’t..I can’t actually remember the circumstances that prompted me to start that topic and then it is gone, never to be recovered.  Even when I regale you with stories of my wonderful (and not at all embarrassing) past, it has been prompted by something that happened to me that day.

Not the recipe for a world renowned blog but, there again, that was never the point of starting this.

I even tried having an app on my phone to allow me to blog whenever I think of something…but doing it on the phone is not comfortable enough so I always convince myself that I will be better off at home…by which time it is too late.

The last time I had a drought, it lasted 7 years between getting with CW and no longer being with CW.  I recently started blogging a little more often and I kind of expected it to scale up more and more…which it didn’t.  I rapidly became focused on diet, exercise and friends.  Which, surprisingly enough, placed me firmly into the happy bracket a lot quicker than I anticipated.  And thus, the blog resurrection was short lived.

I am a more determined person these days than I was in the last 7 years…arguably more than I have been in 20+ years…so I am really trying to keep this going…but the drafts keep building up.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t help that I can’t think of any stories that I haven’t already written on here…although I am sure there are some.  You know how it is, the mind blocks out traumatic events.  Which leads me to observations of which, because I have functioning eyes, I have many..but most of them lead to exasperation…not blog posts.

Work is, in the main, pretty good.  My social life is particularly social and my love life, while limited to hook ups at the moment, is not all that important right now.  So not a lot of topics there…although the social life might just throw up (no pun intended) a few..

I’ll just keep generating drafts until I eventually finish a couple and am able to post.  In the meantime, and almost as a throwback to my “No Post Today” post…this was a post about not posting.

Sodding Typical

M802OAN-1 310312 CPSSo, you have a car…it’s not great, but you can’t really afford anything else and you only really use it to potter around town in.  Every now and then, you look to see what else is out there…even though you can’t justify the outlay, not even for a cheap one.

You see hundreds of the damn things, within your theoretical price range.  All of them, arguably, better than what you have.  You consider it briefly, and then realise that it’s stupid as you already have a perfectly serviceable car.

Fast forward to getting a job that you won’t be able to get to without a car and, you can probably already guess, your perfectly serviceable car becomes less than perfect and most definitely un-serviceable and you find yourself looking for any one of these hundreds of cars.

In the last week, I have seen around 4 or 5 cars that fit my needs and they are all adverts that have been online for more than a month..yup, already sold.

Damnit

photo by:

I think I watch too much TV

BratsThis weekend I visited CW, who has been working away in Eastern Germany for the last couple of weeks, in Erfurt.

Erfurt is a beautiful town, clean and modern looking with enough oldie-worldy German goodness that it has that “wow” factor when you wander around.  It is clearly quite a touristy place, indicated by the inability to walk for more than, say, 5 paces..without falling over a cafe, restaurant, ice cream parlour or street musician.

Typically, based on the stories you hear about the East, I had expected a cross between Kosovo and East Berlin…so I was completely blown away by the place….and didn’t have a camera with me.  The thing is, it all seems a little too nice.  About halfway through Saturday..which was when we had a wander and explored the town…we noticed a number of things.

The women there are not beautiful.  Now, this may seem like a generalisation and, coming from a Fester clone, maybe a little cheeky….but it is true.

When you do come across a beautiful woman..it is either that they are simply less ugly than the rest…and based on the famine you have become accustomed to, you feast on whatever you can get.  Alternatively, it is simply the sort of chavvy beauty normally associated with women in Newcastle…

The place is clean, modern, young (in terms of people) and clearly has money flowing through it from somewhere…but it is kind of eerily clean and modern.  We were sat at the least Irish feeling Irish bar either of us had ever been to..when old people walked passed us..I joked that the Police would come and shuffle them off somewhere.  2 minutes later, 2 police vans trundled slowly down the street in the direction of the old people.  Coincidence? I think not…also, the 2nd Police van was basically just a standard red transit van…with Polizei written on the back door!

At 10pm, the place sounded like it was jumping…lots of music, lots of people…beer drinking..general partying going on everywhere.  I remember thinking that the place had really come alive.  By 11pm it was eerily silent.  Walking through the center and you only found teens that look like they walked out of High School Musical and decided to sit outside Burger King.  Seriously, talk about “Yo pants** on the ground”, wish I was American kids..

Everything is closed after 8pm at the latest.  We realised that we needed some smokes, so we decided to get a Taxi back to the hotel and ask the driver to go via anywhere that we could be some smokes.  His response “Oh my..you know it is already close to midnight right?”.  He then proceeded to take us to a place that “might be open”…it wasn’t.  He thought about somewhere else that also “might” be open…but decided to ration what we had and asked him to take us back to the hotel.

Everyone has dogs..and I mean everyone.  There is a bizarre number of waxen-faced people wandering aimlessly around the place whilst being directed by their hounds.  I firmly believe that the dogs are actually running the town and that there is something running through the town (other than brand new trams that have 1940s design) that causes you to instantly need a dog.  Seriously, CW and I were both discussing what dog we are going to get when we have a place that suits it…before I realised what was going on.

I think that they put something in the water…but if it is being run by dogs, I don’t want to consider exactly what that might be.  CW saw 3 shooting stars on Saturday night…I just think that was reinforcements arriving.

All in all a great weekend and as I was visiting the home of the best Bratwurst in Germany, I had precisely…..no Bratwursts at all Confused

CW is due back next Saturday..that is if she has managed to avoid purchasing a dog and being assimilated.  Also…I just thought..maybe the old people are scooped up by the Police and turned into the Thüringer Bratwurst…a la “League of Gentlemen”.

Holy crap, Erfurt IS Royston Vasey.

Eek!

** I should point out here that although I am English, I am aware that in this context that “pants” are in fact “trousers” and not (as it the correct useage) undergarments of the thong, briefs, boxer shorts or indeed Y-Front variety.  Equally, I will not go into the incorrect useage of Fanny..this is neither the time nor the place***

*** Well, it is, but I can’t be arsed…see

Confusion


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“ummm” says I, quite appropriately I feel.

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

Him: “What do you mean?”

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

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

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

Him: “No, this is DIY R US”

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

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

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

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

Me: “…….”

Me: “….let me get the manager”

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

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

No words…

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

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

Cheers
TLW

** Not a euphemism