Washing The Rope

Bucket List; Do you see a theme developing? I re-ignited a passion yesterday and so started forming another idea for the list. Saving that for my century post.

Yesterday I climbed for the first time in nearly a year (down from 1-4 times a week) and as I was standing at the wall (climbing gym to you dang foreigners) I experienced a very strong feeling of returning and belonging.


People have oft remarked how egalitarian the climbing fraternity is yet I had never really felt it. Yesterday I really felt it for first time, and it was great. No one gave a tiny, eensy little shit about me, what grade I climb, how I got there, my injuries and illnesses, how I spoke, what I was wearing or how I came to be back there. Anything at all. I was a climber amongst other climbers, end of. It was great.

I can only really spot one difference and that is between the folks who do it and the folks that are playing at doing it. Which is cool as we all start somewhere. They are like the ab-initio addicts taking their first hit. It’ll do it for them and they are in or they’ll hate it and not come back.

A chum that I had got into climbing very kindly took me back, patiently belayed me as I got pumped super-fast, fingers failed and generally I tried to climb what my mind was able but my body guffawed at. A legend in my own mind? Yup. It’ll come back though, I know it. Time to clean my gear and start perusing Climbapedia for destinations for the summer.

I sit here with my bread dough rising (new sourdough starter and new recipe – I WILL make decent bread before I kark it) feeling all the familiar aches of neglected muscles re-awakened.

And I am smiling.

Who’da Thunk It?

I had just written two of the best constructed, thoughtful and generally excellent paragraphs of my entire output when the wretched wi-fi crashed out and I lost it all. Bugger, bugger and thrice bugger. Re-writing has started afresh in Word.

As an aside I’m beginning to wonder if this converted old coach house I live in wasn’t  once a special secret nuclear test lab with lead lining in the walls. The office is at one end and the bedroom the other with the router is in the centre about 20ft away from either end. The computer is constantly struggling to stay connected. Suggestions greatly appreciated.

The more I try to write “well”, e.g.; engaging style, no grammatical howlers etc, the harder it gets. The old saying, “ignorance is bliss” could hardly be more apt.

As this post has been composed over several days (another first) my thoughts are turning to my bucket list. I tried my best to have the worst year on record last year – largely succeeding – so that has motivated me to stop drifting through life in the way many people do. Having ticked off a major, by dint of the fact it has been one of the oldest items on the list, a mid-life crisis sports car, I am now thinking about other items. The standard adrenaline junkie things of my youth, like bungee jumping (do it once and done), free-fall parachuting (scope for more creativity but essentially falling from a great height) seem a bit passé somehow. I am now wondering how to repopulate the list. After all, there is no point chucking money at things that leave you feeling a bit “so what is the fuss all about?”. I want either proper scary ‘hoooooly sheeeeit” sort of thrills or some deep mental satisfaction.

Dom & Heloise

I did receive a really cool present recently that generates the sort of mental satisfaction that I think I ought to include on my list, as I am unfamiliar with the feeling. It appeals to the traditionalist and the techhie in me as was a portrait of me with my daughter done by a proper artist, but produced digitally.

It’s a bit like hearing a recording of oneself. There are feelings of is that really me about it. Very cool though  as I feel that the essence of both of us has been captured in just a few lines, which has to be harder to do than a full colouring in job. I will now be able to nod wisely and talk about sitting for the artist etc etc… In reality I was photographed extensively w. H and it was all done from there.

‘Nuff rambling on. Suggestions for the list appreciated. The more left field the better.

PS: The brilliant title is not my original thought but a well used phrase from that esteemed organ, Private Eye.

My Manager Says…

I had an extremely circular conversation with Becky from the Co-Operative car insurance team today. I was very (very) good as I didn’t allow any hint of frustration or incredulity slip into my voice. Nonetheless, having had a 20 min chat with the Co-Op Home Insurance – my home insurance provider – Customer Services team who ended up assuring me in unequivocal terms that the included legal protection policy extended to motor cars and all things related Becky insists that the home insurance part – “nuffink to do wiv us” – are wrong.

“I asked and my manager says no…”.

Can you see how good I was not to get frustrated or be incredulous? The Co-Op is The Co-Op is The Co-Op, end of discussion. The letterheads are similar, the font identical, colours the same etc etc. I already buy insurance from them and they provide the electricity. It’s The Co-Op and that’s as far as I care.

Not for The Co-Op apparently. We are one but we are totally different is how they operate. I suggested to young Becky that she might like to direct her manager towards page 24 of the home insurance policy document which, sadly, I have read. It is very specific in the exclusions and cars ain’t in it. Anywhere. Nein. Nada. Nach. You get the idea. Deaf ears because….wait for it….”my manager says no”.

Gotta love joined up thinking in companies. It is doubly frustrating because I want the Co-Op to be good. I am emotionally invested in their brand, which is something they just don’t seem to get.

After all that the quote was twice that of elsewhere. 25 min on the dog’n’bone, but I did hang out all the washing and do the dishes so not really a loss of time.

Well worth a read. Insane demands grasping for respectability by cloaking them in so called religious rights. And in the UK as wel. Eck…

Futile Democracy


March 8th saw the World celebrate International Women’s day. The empowerment of women worldwide, battling both religious and political, as well as patently institutional misogyny and oppression for centuries, honoured with a day of remembrance for those who fought, and a day of thoughtfulness for the reasons why the battles for empowerment were fought and continue to be fought. It’s a battle that has been waged for centuries and is still a key issue. Over the course of the 21st Century, women in Parliament has been a major issue. John Stuart Mill’s wonderful essays on women’s rights paved the way for women in Parliament. There are currently 143 female MPs in the Commons. That means, of the 650 MPs, 507 of them are men. There is still a way to go, but our society is moving in the right direction, and has been for decades, albeit, too slowly. We must…

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It’s Toofer Tuesday

Eh? What? Toofer or Twofer- adj. When you get two for the price of one.

I thought I may amuse and delight my sudden surge of followers. (For my purposes a sudden surge is more than three) with two posts in a day.

Usually a note appears in my inbox telling me so and so has liked a post. I am then subject to various entreaties to look at their blog, which I duly do. Usually I have just been spammed and their blog is a wave of bollocks trying to sell me shite or share with me the profound effect that various deities have had on them. The former are just rubbish sales and the latter are deeply deluded.

Imagine my delight today when four separate  “Likes” were all for this morning’s post. Turns out that all were worth a read. In recognition of this I list them here. In no particular order they are:

One Thousand Single Days

Waynes World Of Blogging

Turtle And Robot

Definitely Jenny

Managing Life And Self  Ok, ok, this was a day or two ago and I am unashamedly trying to swell my numbers by 20%, or is that 25%? I want a job in finance.

A couple of friends that write well and are worth a shufti are:

Hands Of A Climber – Eddy is funny even if you aren’t into climbing

Musings From The Sofa – think you are well read do you?

Anyhow, read them and enjoy. I have research to do. Am buying a car so I can tick one more thing of my bucket list. Poop Poop.

Home Truths

We hate hearing them, especially about ourselves.

I have just had a conversation with someone who, when told one about themselves (The circs are unimportant. I was just sharing the honestly held remarks of another), rejoined with one to me, about me. It cut deep as I know it’s true.

However, I know what I am doing about it and the fact I have a cunning plan that I am reliant upon.  So the cut healed very quickly.

The conversation went v frosty and was a short-lived affair from that point on.

My glass house affords excellent views of the weaknesses of mere mortals. Oh yeah, apart from being thin, the air on the high ground is just fine.

Telling the truth makes for odd feelings. Overall; better out than in.

I Can’t Help It

Being a snob – is this even the right word? – is just a weird kind of incorporeal enjoyment. There are no logical arguments to back up this position. None. Truth be told I know it is a bit unpleasant. However, it must be part of the human condition that you validate yourself by comparing yourself to others and then trying to decide if the results come higher or lower on this scale without numbers.  I certainly can’t help feelings of superiority creeping in to my consciousness when I “score higher”. Perhaps it is just a manifestation of my view that everything is a competition. Always.

There are either bits of others that I  aspire to –  in no particular order –  such as;

  1. Strong intellect 
  2. Looks – who doesn’t want a chiselled jawline and a six-pack?
  3. Money – not for the sake of it but it is a very effective life lubricant
  4. Material possessions (yes, I am that shallow – gimme a 911)
  5. Subject matter expertise – art, literature, music etc – that will enhance my enjoyment
  6. Educational attainment – using and training and expanding your brain
  7. Privilege
  8. Ability to construct an argument

Then there are the bits I am glad, nay happy, that I don’t have;

  1. Weak/Low intellect (code for a bit ‘tick)
  2. Expanding waistline – totally subjective and mainly I am fattist as I see this as a totally self-inflicted condition
  3. Ghastly manners – again appreciate this is subjective but it’s how I have been raised. And I think it is right.
  4. Laziness in speech – vis-a-vis  Point 1 usually
  5. Thick Brummie accents – no idea why just don’t like listening to them
  6. Arrogance
  7. Propensity to violence – being in the police really put me off this
  8. Drinking to excess – see above
  9. Neglectful parenting – don’t let your kid get fat and read to them, teach them values and keep them under control. Simple really
  10. God.

Whilst neither of these lists are exhaustive you get the idea. The point is that I can’t give a rational explanation for many of these – apart from God, that is just a fantasy albeit a long established and detailed one. Still doesn’t make it any less of a crock of shit tho – and many many of these feelings with rational explanation must be rooted in upbringing and environment.

I wonder if I’d feel liberated or bereft if I could rationalise absolutely everything and live without prejudice?

The renowned Hollywood philosopher Cary Grant once said; “Ah, beware of snobbery; it is the unwelcome recognition of one’s own past failings.” The man has a point. Damn his good looks and money.

English: RKO publicity still from Suspicion (1941)

The Thinker?

There Is Nothing Wrong With Elitism

FYI – I am talking about intellectual elitism and not the abhorrent social elitism that leads to dumb people getting jobs beyond their abilities, purely because they exist in the social structure where those jobs are doled out. Old School Tie, Jobs For The Boys, the Right Club and occasionally nepotism. Think Tim Nice But Dim or Giles Wemmbley Hogg. Call it what you will, it still exists.

But before you read on take a moment to enjoy some inbreeding: 

The hard facts are that some people are smarter than others. As we consider ourselves a civilised society we try to be inclusive of all levels of intellect, which is as it should be. However trying to reach a norm that just reflects the average is crazy. It’s like mixed ability classes at school. It makes the designers happy taking intellectual socialism to the logical conclusion but it doesn’t actually help the kids, nor I imagine the teacher. The less able ones are too challenged and the brighter ones  bored. Suits the kids in the middle just fine. All that this is exclusion camouflaged under the auspices of being fair to everyone. Life isn’t fair. Get over it.

Society should be run by the intellectual elite and not forced to function to the lowest common denominator. As long as there are rigorous checks and balances, in recognition that as smart as someone may be they are human and prey to all the usual weaknesses, vices, corruptibility etc then I imagine that you’d like to know that the decisions of government (that you elected) made on your behalf are the best they can be and place intelligent thought about what is best for you at the forefront.

Wait….you say that the UK has a political system that is driven by ideologies that are at best half-baked? That’ll never work. Choose me as your benign dictator and I promise to try not to go all Hugo Chavez on you.

Catholic Church in Crisis?

Erm, not in their minds. Imagine if you will the following scene;

Whilst kneading my bread at 0800h, I was listening to R4 Today and Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is being interviewed about the latest revelations regarding the MTF antics of his Scottish counterpart. All Jon Humphreys was trying to do was get him to frame it in a “this is now” and then explain what will be done by the Catholic Church about it, now. There was this almost inability to deal with the issue in the context of now. JH was getting frustrated, as was I and I imagine many thousands of other listeners.

Then it hit me. The Catholic Church is such an old institution that this current sex scandal – that seems very real and now to most of us – is the merest of blips in the long existence. It is so much easier to bat away the concerns of now when they are framed in a context that goes back centuries. Additionally; these scandals pale into insignificance compared to, say, The Inquisition. If I had a choice as a victim I know what I’d choose.

So Murphy-O’Connor has developed the ability to manage the fearsome Humphreys with ease. When God is on your side and you are steeped in centuries of history then the Humphreys inquisition is nothing.

You Are Wealthier Than You Can Imagine…

…to some kid in Africa. A very small regular sum from you can make a huge difference.

However, try to ensure that your money isn’t going to be used by a religion to propagate their brand and pick some non-denominational outfit like Plan.

Here endeth the lesson.

English: Children near Tahoua, Niger, Africa.