Call me a dork (pause for effect), but I’ve always been in awe of the freedom and excitement of being an entrepreneur. Like him or loath him, Richard Branson stands at the pinicle of what I think an entrepreneur – intelligent, ruthless, lucky (!) and charismatic – albeit in a slightly camp way in Branson’s case. His book, Screw it, Let’s Do it: Lessons in Life (Quick Reads) is exactly what an entrepreneur book should be about.
As I sit here listening to Spotify in front of a pile of CD albums, I’m trying to write convincingly that music isn’t a big part of my life. Contrary to a lot of people – Michelle listens to music whenever she can, and my Sony-employed recent best man Jac has a musical knowledge that would give Jools Holland a run for his money – I can go for days without hearing any music at all. I can drive for an hour or two without the radio on, just taking in the surroundings. I think it’s something to do with my obsession for the future – recorded music sometimes just reminds me of all the exciting stuff that must have happened since the song was made.
Live music, however, grabs my attention. Friends and family will know I go to see David Ford whenever I get the opportunity (I even run his fan site…), and I’m a little worried that I’ve been spoiled by him – nothing can really get better than his raw and powerful talent and stage presence. Newton Faulkner‘s like that too – a talent that doesn’t totally come across on the screen or on the radio. He’s funny, engaging – and an incredibly skillful, little tyke with a guitar.
So, my dilemma is this – for my birthday, should I go and see David Ford or Newton Faulkner? Handy live videos below for the undecided…
So, the “explanation” on friday night was a little disappointing, mainly because many of us had already worked it out. Happily, my last post was right – split screen. Here’s a couple of handy videos that show how it was done:
Derren Brown manages to get everyone talking – people either find him amazing, deceptive or downright annoying. I’m pleased to say I’m in the “amazing” camp – he entertains, he’s plainly very clever, and I enjoy the whole psychology of it all. And tonight, so the marketing crescendo informed us earlier, he managed to predict the National Lottery results. Well, “predict”.
First things first – he CANNOT predict the numbers. That’s not even worth considering. The real intrigue with Derren is not what’s happened, but how he managed to create the illusion. He readily admits that he is not a magician. He enjoys creating illusions; we enjoy trying to work it out.
So, debate is raging about tonight’s lottery prediction – this thread over at DigitalSpy has some laughily funny theories, along with a melting pot of naysayers, obsessed fans and people who smugly think they know it all immediately and can never be fooled. The arguments that rage at DigitalSpy are infamously hilarious.
Seems to be a solution forming though – watch the video of it below, and scoot to 5:07 mins. At that moment, while he’s saying the number “28”, the picture on the left freezes. The left hand ball suddenly appears slightly higher than the others (seen more easily in the closeup later on, and an image is included below the video here), and the shadow changes on the base of the ball holder. So, fully appreciating the irony of offering my own theory while neatly teasing the DigitalSpy throng, I present my view of it. The beginning of the show is live, it switches to a recorded left-hand side (where the balls are) at some point before the numbers are announced, the balls are replaced – and then it switches back to full left hand side live feed at 5:07.
I’ll hold this theory until Friday, when I will doubtless be proved wrong.
A while ago, my mum bought my dad and I a book. Not any book, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t warrant a little essay. The book was called “How to Get Things Really Flat: A Man’s Guide to Ironing, Dusting and Other Household Arts“, and it went into the fine arts of domestic life from a man’s point of view. There was deep irony behind the purchase, natch – and its a phenomenon that is widely derided as a man’s excuse to sit around and play games all day. I’m half way through, and it all seems easy enough – just a bit of common sense, patience and thought, and you’re there. Patience and thought I have. It’s the common sense part I have trouble with.
The facts, I’m afraid, are simple: men in my family are next to useless at domestic tasks. I’ve no more confidence that I could iron a t-shirt than I have of ever loading a dishwasher correctly. Sorting paperwork moves me to distraction within seconds, and marshalling newspapers and other titbits into neat piles and cupboards is completely beyond me. And those settings on the dishwasher? No idea, despite having read the manual and been told countless times.
And it’s not as if I haven’t tried to be good at these things. I’ve tried to cook pizzas for Michelle – that’s about the limit I feel I can stretch to – and more often than not it’s come out over- or undercooked. And on one memorable night, burnt and upside-down on the oven floor. However, I can do complex tasks with great ease, and seem to pick up new non-domestic skills like they’re going out of fashion.
After 10 years of knowing me, 4 years of living with me and 3 months of wedded bliss, I think Michelle has given up any hope, in the same way that my mum and countless other women in our family have given up hope. I stand by the facts: some men just can’t make things flat, no matter how hard they push.
It was hot, sticky and my body was silently cursing me with every step I took, thanks to the excessive jigging and bouncing around on the dancefloor the previous night. After getting up at 6am and being driven to the airport, we (well, I) hobbled to the nearest bookshop in Heathrow Terminal 3, Michelle looking concernedly on. WHSmith yielded a couple of books and a game of Travel Cluedo, and after a bit of breakfast we nearly missed our flight. It was the biggest plane I’d ever been on, and the in-flight movies kept me awake for the 11 hours to Bangkok, followed by a further 2 hours to Krabi.
And so here we were, in Krabi International Airport, with a very helpful lady wanting to help with my bags. There was nothing I would have liked more – I was wincing in pain as my joints – and, let’s be honest, the chafing – had taken their toll. But I’d read that most helpful people at airports are mainly after a financial tip, so we declined and were escorted to our private transfer for the hotel. As we were driven to the hotel check-in, we battled our sleepiness and watched out the window in amazement. The scenery was just as breathtaking as I’d been warned – huge cliffs and mountains looked down on forest of greenery, with the local people wheeling carts of goods around or driving like maniacs. There appear to be little rules for driving in Thailand – nothing gets in the way of a Thai car and its destination.
After half an hour, we arrived at the stunning check-in desk, had cocktails and cold towels, and got another private transfer to the nearest beach. The hotel, we discovered, can only be accessed by boat, so we clambered over the sandy beach to a boat, and took the 3 minute trip to the resort.
And what a resort it was. In summary, the room had possibly the best view in the place, the food was amazing, the trips we took were brilliant, and we couldn’t have had a better time. And why am I skimming over all the best parts? Well, because I’ve finally completed our Honeymoon Video, which neatly shows everything we did in the next 10 days. It took a while to find the relevant songs and then cut the video to the beats… but now it’s done! The full size version is awesome – but that would have ground the internet to a halt, so there’s a smaller resolution version below.
It was an amazing trip, and we couldn’t have done everything we did without these wonderful people who contributed the the wedding, reception and honeymoon – there’s a message for you at the end of the video.
So, thank you all – and enjoy the video (speakers on, there’s cracking music, and little titbits of us talking…):
“It’s one of life’s great cruelties that a human’s lifespan greatly outweighs a dog’s.” Anon.
It was the final image of her as I closed the vet’s door that will remain with me.
Lulu – although all the family dogs throughout the years have gained the affectionate name “Wiggle” – first came into our lives to replace a similar black mongrel called Daisy 15 years ago.
No more woofs
We met her as a 9-month old, leaning back nonchalantly in her favourite chair at the rescue dog’s refuge in Sussex. Rumour had it she had been rescued from a recently-deceased owner, and was probably keen to find an owner who would last her longer than the few months she herself had been alive.
And so the new “Wiggle” worked her way into our lives, protecting us from the postman and, in fairness, virtually anyone else who rang the doorbell. She took everything in her stride, her love for us was unconditional – but always hankered after the freedom she had at the rescue home, regularly going running through the fields with other dogs and horses. From every house we lived in, she found ways to escape the confines of the garden, evading capture for hours before coming home exhausted but unable to tell us of her exciting travels.
Everyone seems to enjoy her antics – even Wagging Tails, the “dog hotel” she went to when we were all busy.Over the years, she became older and her chin became whiter, giving her an air of maturity that we all knew, her included, was never really present. In fact, she remained convinced she was still about 1 year old until the last few months of her life, escaping when she could, running around with toys, barking at anyone on the other side of the front door while all the time looking for unmitigated affection and scraps of food.
These last 12 months, though, it must have dawned on her that the game was up. She stopped trying to escape, she seemed in pain when trying to sit down, became deaf and mostly blind, and became little more than bones and skin. A false alarm a few months ago – when the final vet visit was called off at the last moment – only prolonged the inevitable. And finally, last Sunday, my dad reported that while Lulu was still struggling on, the tail – one of the happiest tails I had ever seen – had stopped wagging, and that life had finally become too much of a chore for her.
Last Wednesday, we all met at the vet’s surgery, taking her in for her very final visit. She was looking very old indeed, but still tried to sniff anything within neck distance in the waiting room. My mother had brought her bed – “she’s going to die in it”, she informed me miserably but matter-of-factly – and other people looked on kindly at the final moments of a very old dog.
“Come in,” said the vet, before taking one look and agreeing that the time was nigh. The bed was laid on the floor, the lead was handed over. And then, regretfully I now realise, I followed my mum and dad out of the room, taking one final look at Wiggle as the nurse reached over for a needle. I closed the door.
If I could have that time again, I would have stayed for her last moments; as it is, she died while I was somewhere on the A3, travelling home and revisiting my memories of her. I hope she wasn’t lonely – chances are, she would have been enjoying the company of friendly strangers, sniffing the nurse’s sleeve as she administered the fatal dose.