Come along for the ride!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Drive a car and change the world!


No, not an environmental rant, just one of many silly quotes from Speed Racer, the film that Joseph and I went to see on Thursday.

If I had to sum it up in one sentence I would say, it’s Tron for a 21st Century audience.

Totally daft, hugely unrealistic with lots of ‘film on film action’ (oo-er missus) but with a mostly famous cast (see for yourself here), not to mention written and directed by the Wachowski brothers who were responsible for The Matrix (of which I happen to be a big fan).

Do yourselves a favour; if you want to go and see it, find a Cineworld cinema and go along on Saturday morning when it’s family film day and everyone watches for a pound.

The important thing was that Joseph enjoyed it, lots of fast cars and revving engine noises, not to mention the big box of popcorn and snacks we shared.

Verdict?

Daft but memorable.


Monday, May 26, 2008

You missed a bit!


Well, I made it through a very dull weekend of papering and painting our master bedroom. There is something decidedly unfair about using annual leave entitlement from work in order to stay at home and decorate.

But, being the consummate professional, I ploughed on with the task in hand.

Right up until Saturday when I downed tools and demanded a day off.

Actually, I never demanded any such thing; the weather forecast for Saturday was warm and sunny so we planned to have the day to ourselves anyway with a view to getting back into it from Sunday morning.

And, if you live in Southern England, you will know that I had the perfect weather for being inside, sloshing paint around. The rain was torrential for most of Sunday and ALL of Monday.

It made doing what I had to do a whole lot easier.

I am taking a couple of days off this week too as Joseph is on half-term. We are planning on going swimming and to the cinema to see Speed Racer.

His choice, not mine.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who loves ya baby?


Today being swimming day, it will come as no surprise to be told that Joseph and I were at the swimming pool.

We swam, he learnt, he was good, we got out, showered and dried and we got dressed. While I was putting his shoes on for him – not something I always do but watching him try to negotiate putting his socks on amongst the puddles is heartbreaking and far quicker for me to do myself – he made the comment which prompted this post.

“I can see your head!”

I looked up to catch his slightly confused expression, furrowed brow and thumb poised in front of mouth.

I looked down, smiling.

“What? Through my hair?” I reply.

“Yeah. Why is that?” he asks.

“Because I’m getting old Poops. I’m losing my hair”.

He digests this information and then says, confidently, “when I get old, I’m not gonna lose my hair”.

It reminded me of this terrific scene when Bart Simpson spills Homers’ hair restorer tonic and laughs out loud about it.

Barely containing his rage, Homer turns on Bart and informs him that “hair loss is hereditary”.

Well, I hope you’re right Poops.



Well, the bank holiday weekend stretches out before us like a ………. big, stretched out thing and I can't wait as .. I ... will .... be ……………… decorating.

Sheesh.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Famous statue No.1


As much as I would love to make the leap from point-and-shoot compact to digital SLR, I just can’t see me making the most of a camera that doesn’t fit in a pocket somewhere about my person. With that in mind, I admit to being rather pleased with my latest purchase because, in camera terms I have gone up in the world.

Or at least that’s how I feel.

So pleased have I been with my Casio 3.2 MP camera over the past 3 years, that I went out and bought a Casio 10.1 MP camera; almost identical in looks, shape and capability but with a few technical tweaks as well as the obvious increase in megapixels.

For those of you glazing over with boredom already, I sympathise. I am not one for geeky details but, as with anything, the more interested in something you become, the more you learn, almost by accident.

The point of all this?

Well, yesterday I took a stroll around London town in my lunch break and decided to be a “happy snapper”, pointing and shooting at random views, tweaking the settings and …. well, you get the idea.

Anyhoo, one thing that you can’t fail to notice in London town is the many statues and busts of famous people of the past. I don’t mean famous in a “Big Brother” way or a “Hello” magazine way but famous in the ‘true’ sense of the word.

There are so many that unfortunately, they start to become invisible. “Oh, look, there’s old so-and-so. What did he/she do to deserve a statue then?”

Of course, this is mostly due to the ignorance of the observer (in this case, yours truly) but look a little closer, take the time to read the plaque (if there is one) or, note the name down and have a read online and you will find that London rarely just knocked up a full size bronze statue of someone for the sheer fun of it. Rather, the subject in question warranted remembering for future generations.

With this in mind, I have decided to start a regular spot of “famous statue” posts (hence today’s title) that I find dotted around our capital city.

Today, the winner is William Edward Forster. Click on picture to enlarge and read about him here.


You can see more of my pictures by clicking on My Flickr under the 'links' heading on the right or click here

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The path of Enlightenment


If I am honest, I was never much interested in politics as a youngster. Or, for that matter, as a slightly oldster either; even if you are interested in politics, there never seems to be very much you can do about the day-to-day decisions made anyway, so my thinking was, “why bother getting involved”.

But, as you get older still, you realise that politics permeates into just about everything which has anything to do with your life.

Now I don’t believe that politics is a very good topic of conversation when you don’t know your audience very well. I would also argue that my musings here, with a (hypothetically possible) worldwide readership constitutes an audience that I don’t know very well and, for that reason, don’t think that discussing my personal politics here is a very bright idea.

The bottom line being that I could alienate those who read here regularly, thus losing much appreciated visitors.

So I think it’s best to leave it.

Don’t mention anything.

Just let it go.

Forget it.

But I can’t.

I have to be honest and admit to thinking (as I'm sure, many Americans do), that certain US Presidents leave a great deal to be desired in the savoir-faire department.

Please don’t be offended. We all know that British politicians can be downright cringe-worthy at the best of times but right now, I am talking about the person occupying the most powerful position in the world.

I’ll come straight to my point.

I have just finished reading a book entitled "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid", written by former US President Jimmy Carter and I must say, I am bloody impressed.

Many heads of state take a back seat after their official duties have wound down but this man seems to have been working tirelessly in a bid to find a solution to the “Middle East problem”, as it is often referred to.

I also have to admit to having learnt more in the past month of reading this book than I have in the years since I left college, it has been truly eye opening.

For new visitors to these pages, my wife is Lebanese, hence my having a vested interest in that most troubled of regions.

Mr Carter; not only have you taught me much and changed my views on your chosen subject completely, you have also shown me that the men that were once President of the United States are not intrinsically crass or stupid.



Thank you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A day of lists


Five grumpy things that I have said today:

1. This is the last time we do this!

2. Go on – go to your room!!

3. Turn that off!

4. No! Stop it right now!

5. That’s it, I’ve had enough of your cheek!!

Five not-so-grumpy things I have said today:

1. Happy birthday Missy.

2. Would you like some cake?

3. More kir royale anyone?

4. These sandwiches are lovely!

5. Crikey, that was a bit whiffy!

Ahem, this last comment could be taken as belonging in the first category of grumpy things said but no, it was said in jest to my lovely daughter who managed to wrench herself away from her own party and took the time to go to the toilet which, as you may have surmised, was a tad smelly!

That aside, the day was lovely. M and myself worked damned hard to get the place looking wonderful and the weather was a terrific 27 degrees. At the risk of overdoing it with the lists, my “To Do” list looked like this.

Clean windows

Mow lawn

Put up our newly purchased gazebo (no mean feat)

Sweep front and back of house

Fix towel rail in downstairs cloakroom

Make 24 rounds of sandwiches of varying fillings

Arrange table to look drop dead gorgeous

Ensure drinks chilled (for parents as well as children)

This was all completed at – I promise you – 1 minute to 3pm, just before the party guests were supposed to arrive. Believe me, we are not usually that organised!!!

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would call today an 8 on the success front. It could have been higher if some of the guests hadn’t turned up over an hour late and if some of the other guests had bothered to turn up at all!!!

Words may have to be had!

I sit here writing, and it could so easily be a case of ‘another year, another birthday party’, but something has stuck in my mind since about 4.30pm this afternoon.

We are lucky in so far as we live in a lovely house; I know that. Next door is divided into two flats with the lower flat having a live-in owner and the upper flat having Polish tenants. While there seems to be different faces going in and out of their flat, they are all very polite, even though they keep themselves very much to themselves. This afternoon, I was talking to a friend in our garden when I happened to glance up and I saw the young son of one of the couples that live there – he is maybe 4 years old – and he was looking down at our garden party.

I just stared at him for a short time – it lasted maybe 2 or 3 seconds – before he caught my eye and he stepped away from the window. I took a minute to look around me, taking in what he must have seen.

Things I saw included;

Lots of children running around, eating, laughing, having fun

Colourful banners and bunting flags

A big white gazebo

Pedal cars, scooters and bicycles lying all around

Plates of cake, bowls of crisps, discarded pass the parcel wrapping, people talking and enjoying themselves

and so on …..

I waited for him to reappear, waited for him to see me again so I could wave him (and his family) down, but it wasn’t to be. I did consider knocking on their door but..……. but …… but ……..

I didn’t.

It must have all looked magical to him but …….

Well …. "but" nothing.

When everyone had gone and I was tidying up, I considered knocking to invite them over for tea tomorrow but it just wouldn’t be the same.

I had tidied up for a start, gazebo down, guests departed, toys away, everything had gone, it wouldn’t be the same!!!

Anyway, slightly random guilt aside, it was a wonderful day, with Annabel generally getting spoilt rotten and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Like I said yesterday, happy birthday Missy, we love you tonnes. You sure are a sweetie!

Obligatory cropped shot of Annabels’ party dress


(see here for last years shot).

Friday, May 09, 2008

F.A.B.


Almost unbelievably, another whole year has passed since the last time it was the 9th of May. Actually, make that 1 year and 1 day, what with this year being of the ‘leap’ variety.

But whatever the sums, there’s no getting away from the fact that today is exactly 3 years after our beautiful daughter came (literally) screaming into the world. As it happens, she’s done more than her fair share of screaming since she came into the world but hey, what’s a bit of bellowing now and then, eh?

Other famous 3’s include:

The 3 Kings

The 3 Graces

The 3 Little Pigs

The 3 Tenors

Ummm….. that’s all I can think of!!



Happy birthday Missy.

We love you ssSSOOOOOOOOoo much!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

At the 3rd stroke ….


We ate at one of our favourite restaurants on Sunday and unfortunately, the service was, how shall one say, a little “rough around the edges”.

Well, I must have glanced at my watch one too many times because Joseph asked if he could have it.

There aren’t many personal belongings of mine that I am all that precious about where the children are concerned but my watch is one of them and so I told him no, he couldn’t have it. However, I had noticed in his school book that morning that he had coloured in a worksheet on time and, after congratulating him on such impressive “stay-within-the-edges” colouring, said that I would be taking him to the shop to choose a watch.

This bit of news delighted him and asked if he could have “a Power Ranger watch?”

I smiled, explained that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but yes, if that’s what he wanted.

And, as always, situations experienced by my children remind me of my own childhood and I got to thinking about my very own first watch.

A Timex diving watch; it had a blue rubberised strap with a twisting bezel indicating how much oxygen you had left which, as you can imagine, came in very handy for a boy living in South East London in the 1970’s.

Needless to say, I loved the watch.

So much so in fact, that I rarely took it out of its presentation box and I’m sure you’ll agree, watches are so much more useful when they are removed from the box they came in.

This however, was the pattern for most of my belongings. I bought (or received) something, I loved it, cherished it, took it out of its box/holder/packaging, used it oh-so-briefly before putting it back.

I can hear what you’re thinking.

What the heck is the point?

And you’d be right.

I had so many fantastic things, toys, books, valuable items, that I just didn’t get any pleasure from because I wanted them to remain in the same condition as when I got them.

I can hear what you’re thinking again.

Obsessive compulsive disorder.

And you would (probably) be right again.

Thankfully, I worked through this unhelpful approach to belongings and now treat things as ……. things.

Things to be used, to be worn, to be driven, to be …… well, the list goes on.

I still have to check myself with the children’s personal items too though. It isn’t realistic to expect a (nearly) six year old and a (very nearly) three year old to keep their toys in A1, pristine condition cos’ it ain’t gonna happen.

Part of the fun of a big, colourful plastic car when you are 6, is seeing how fast you can roll it along the hallway and see how hard you can get it to hit the door at the end. It doesn’t matter what Dad says, that is the fun part.

The chips out of the paint on the skirting board is another matter!!

But that’s a post for another time.

“Roll it again Poops – try and get it to do a skid!!”