2005 June

A Month in a nutshell

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“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
“Great, I’ll put the dinner in.”
Sounding unnervingly like a married couple, I arranged to pop over to Nick’s parents house for a bite to eat, some serious TV watching and a bit of computer troubleshooting – something I seem to do a lot of nowadays. And as I travelled over to Pyrford last night, my mind wandered to the last month’s frenetic events.
Not, of course, that any remaining readers of this blog will know about them. My postings have sunk to an all time low, and the combination of minimal time and a lack of motivation have landed me here – 25 days after my last post.
So, back to the car journey, and mind-wanderings. One of the most adventurous days last month was the trip to Silverstone. Simon B phoned at the ungodly hour of 7.30 (I never even knew he got up that early) to ask if I wanted to go to Silverstone for some corporate hospitality at the Touring Car Championships. And the mode of transport to and from the event? A BMW M3. It was, of course, a formality as questions go and by 8.30am I was taking control of the vehicular beast, charging up the A3, M25 and M40 to Silverstone. It was an awesome car, making me feel completely in control and far superior to anyone else on the road. My experience in it went some way to explaining why BMW drivers drive the way they do. Only some way, mind.
The day at Silverstone was entertaining and, crucially, entirely free. Jensen Button was in the corporate box next to us, his Porsche Carrera outside causing all sorts of sycophantic excitement. There are pictures, which if you’re lucky I may put up before 2012.
Most of the month has been consumed with daily trips to Amersham in Buckinghamshire. Not for pleasure – although it seems a very picturesque place – but for business. I won’t bore you with what my job entails, but suffice to say that the client we were visiting had placed an order with us that was forty times the normal size. So, for me, it was an endless carousel of installing, consulting and 7 days of solid training. I was little more than a wreck by the end of it, although this was mainly due to the travelling – a thirty minute trip on the M25 turned into a 2 hour journey from hell every morning and night.
Michelle has not been without excitement, however. She had all four wisdom teeth out, and my arrival to her hospital bed with flowers and a bunch of unamusing jokes failed to cut the ice as she said there, as white as a sheet and unable to speak. The following week of near silence was unnerving, and it was a relief when I heard the dulcet tones of complaint about the clothes I’d left on the floor again.
Whipsnade Zoo was also graced with a visit a few weeks ago – and gave me a chance to see the elephant Michelle adopted for me at Christmas! For those who don’t know, I love elephants. It’s possibly to do with their large floppy ears or enormous clumpy feet – I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that they don’t grow very fast.
I was expecting my elephant to be an enormous, triumphant beast of a thing, but he was still a mere stripling. I suppose living a long time means that you are smaller for longer – something I’ve never had to experience…
Last Wednesday Michelle, Jac, Debs and I went to see Rob Thomas (ex-Matchbox Twenty) at the Astoria in London. The night was in the clutches of the considerable heatwave and the inside of the venue was akin to standing in a sauna for a couple of hours. The gig was as good as we had hoped – and Glasswerk have a review here.
Michelle and I have also made trips to Paul D’s for a barbeque (and a snoop around his brother’s new house – seven doors down from the doorstep where Jill Dando was shot, I was at pains to point out) and Jac’s new house in Harrow for some technical help and a very spicy Indian. We’ve shopped at Gunwharf Quays, dined at Italian restaurants and ate at a very nice pub for my mum’s birthday. It’s been, frankly, a hell of a month and I’ve rewarded myself with two weeks off. I’m currently lounging around in a dressing gown doing nothing except watching the Lions rugby tour and Wimbledon, which is a rare treat. Michelle is off working in Oxfordshire this week, leaving me to fend for myself. How does the washing machine work? How do I cook anything other than a pizza? I’m not sure I’ll make it through the week…

Barbara is disappointed.

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Having a high visitor count means I get a load of interesting emails about the site. I’m pleased to say most of them are complementary, others less so. In fact, recently I’ve even had phone calls to ask when the next post might be – and I agree my post-rate has plummeted. However, a couple of recent emails by a visitor broke from the norm. Let me explain.
Late on Saturday night, I was leafing through my latest mountain of emails, when this came in:

name: Leveller

enquiry: “I look at many ‘alternative’ sites on the web and have yrs
currently in favourites. My q is – what are you actually FOR? If
yr posts are in the vein of ‘What I saw on my way to Sainsbury’s’
it is of no interest whatsoever. The talk at present is of fake
web pages put on pretending to be radical but really the work of
the GB establishment. Are you one of these? You need to read
some more of the things coming over from the US and weep. Can u
tell me of any real alternative web-sites from GB that aren’t set
up by Tiny Bliar?”

“Leveller” had gained my attention. What was I for exactly? I stared at the ceiling, twiddled my thumbs and tried to figure out an answer. However, it was no good. It was late, I was tired, and I didn’t have to reply that night. I mentally put it on my “to do” pile.
Leveller, however, was eager for attention. So much so, in fact, that when she received an automatic email to announce a new post on my site, she immediately fired an email back. Incensed, she was.

Leveller: “I thought that yr reply was in answer to my email the other day. Instead it is some brainless advert for a TV programme. I have taken your site off my favourites. Please do not email me again.

Just a moment, Barbara, I thought. Hold your horses! “Brainless advert”, she says, completely missing the point of my post. Taking me off her favourites! She’s a harsh woman, and no mistake. “Please don’t email me again”, she finishes, disallowing me the chance to reply with my sentiments.
7.30am this morning was not a good time to read a vaguely hostile email from a misinformed reader. I wasn’t going to sit there like a lemon and take that. I considered a vicious riposte – but then that would not help the cause. So, after a few minutes thought, I started a gentler reply.

Dear Barbara,” my email began. It was a good start, I thought.
“Thank you for your opinions on my site. In answer to your questions – and I apologise for the work-induced delay in answering – my site
posts really are whatever I feel like posting. If I had a particularly entertaining trip to Sainsburys, I shall post about it. If I feel strongly about a certain political point – or as in this case I feel strongly about a certain television programme – I shall post about it.
If I don’t have time to make a post, I won’t – after all, getting
things done in real life is more important than writing witty posts
about them.
But I think the key point is this – that I write the weblog for
myself. I don’t write it for anyone else, but I write them for my own
records of events and opinions, so that I can look back in many years
time and reminisce. Obviously I don’t mind at all if other people read it – that’s why it’s on the internet and not in a book on a dusty shelf.
I’m sorry that you think the site not suitable for your reading list – but I hope you understand that it won’t alter my reasons for posting, or the topics I choose. However, your emails recently have given me a reason to post on the site – so thank you very much.
Perhaps you can point me to your weblog so that I can see how it should be done?”

And, after brimming with pride at that final sentence, I posted the conversation here for others to chew over. It’s not so much to raise poor old Barbara on a pedestal and point fingers at her – although that may be as tempting a reason as any – but more because my reply answers anyone who’s wondered why on earth wibbler.com exists. Hell, as I was writing, I even answered my own questions about why I continue to post inane banter and links, albeit less frequently these days.
But then, it’s only a weblog – updating it, or indeed reading it, is not life or death. Barbara, bless you for your emails. I must say its been a pleasure knowing you.