Cowboy Up, Cupcake

It’s the heat. And I’ll carry on blaming that for my lack of activity, despite being largely unemployed and marking time until Uni in Sept. I am half British and have lived here three quarters of my life so have a pretty keenly developed sense of “blame it on the aberrant weather”. It’s that horrible feeling of having an evening shower, going to bed under a light sheet and just sitting there leaking. Most unpleasant.

Just to warn you and give you the opportunity to disengage now, this is likely to be a stuck on transmit post (well it is me writing at you, can hardly be otherwise) and a random collection of some of the things that have happened in the last month or so. This post is driven out of the never shut WordPress tab eyeing me from the top of Chrome relentlessly reminding me that I have been ever so idle as of late.

Lately I decided that being a cyclist and having a v. nice bike and beautifully shaved guns (contain yourself , ladies) I really ought to formalise my riding into some sort of focused activity. So I joined the Cowley Road Condors as they are a nice bunch of peeps. It had nothing to do with the fetching pink and black kit. Oh no.  The other Tues (for that is the anointed Day of Pain) the rides were arranging themselves into fast and slow when instead of firmly announcing that I will ride in the slow group the speed junkies looked me up and down and saw that I am clearly a wannabe (I used to be) with the Ti bike and shaved guns (again ladies, I urge calm) as per Rule #33 with matching lycra, that I should ride with them. I make feeble enquiries as to avg speeds and am assured that it is generally around 19 mph. Ahh, I think, I can manage that so fer why not? In the first 6 miles the avg doesn’t seem to drop below  22 mph. It turns out the 19 mph figure is not an “on the flat” speed but an overall ride with all the bastard hills included. Idiot. I just about manage on the flat but when there is any significant upturn then the group I am with, to a man and a woman, all fly past me and seem to dispatch the hill in question at the same blistering pace as the flat warrants. To add insult to injury when I do make it to the top the entire cohort is patiently waiting for me. They have all rested and I am absolutely hanging at this point, sweating like a condemned man, sucking in apparently useless lungfuls or air(note to self: hobby smoking Ryan’s roll-ups probably isn’t helping) and generally looking redder in the face than is healthy for a 44y old MAMIL, when the ride leader announces with a cheery exhortation that we are all closed up and can set off again. Whilst I am the least fit and the weakest one – the fellow that would have been picked off by bandits in days of yore and quickly dispatched – I am now forced to maintain the breakneck speed of the group with no rest. I must reflect more on Rule #5 and Rule #10. It is a social at the pub tonight and hopefully less intense. I have wangled it to be my local so intend to peel off, swerve the serious drinkers and sneak home.

And now for a complete change of pace: Trousers/Trews. It turns out that, according to The Sun so it must be true, red trousers are reviled by c. 50% of the population. I happen to like them and have a pair that are fading and wearing in v. nicely. As this country (the UK) is just striated with various class divisions then red trousers are apparently upper middle or aspirant thereof dress. I don’t care and like the look. Having a twinge to my accent (the other half is Canadian) I can’t immediately be pigeon-holed into a class category so this often confounds folks when you are wearing said red. The best thing about them I have decided is this website. I like the pic of one subject described as looking “insane, but not the stabby type “. Hilarious. It gets better though as Picture #2 on aforementioned site reminds me of an Army ball I attended last week where the theme was tartan. Having spent a day traipsing around Oxford for tartan socks and coming up empty-handed I idly remarked to an ex-army mate. He ordered me to wait-one as he disappeared. He then promptly reappeared brandishing the most awesome regimental tartan trews.

Check ’em out…

Dom trews

Whilst on the army theme I stayed at the house of a couple of other army bods. In the downstairs loo there was a framed stores chitty and it made no sense. When I enquired it turns out that regimental tradition for the chap dictated that his signaller signed him over to his new handler, the intended. Nice touch.

I finally got a reading list for my pending Uni course. One glance makes me think that I am going to be brainwashed into becoming a right little Trot at the end of my three years. Revolution, comrades. Revolution. The word revolution just makes my mind hark to cycling so I think they’ll have their work cut out.

To ensure I form solid comradely bonds with my fellow classmates I will appear in my red trousers and I’ll tell ’em I thought red was the approved colour of the left.

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A Younger Woman’s Bed

I went to Stories Aloud last night for their first birthday. Yay Sarah. Good work. There were two authors there who both agreed that – newsflash – writing needs to be worked at. It is probably arrogance ( I am reminded of the famous Thatcher reply when asked if she was pretentious – who, moi?) but as writing is one of the few things I seem to be happy plugging away at and quite enjoy I have decided to give a slightly longer piece a go. I have a thing about slightly edgy titles as I believe it accomplishes the internet version of a flashy cover in Blackwell’s et al. The bed bit is coming. I promise.

Her name is, well, that’s not important and I met her through a friend. She has two neurotic cats that I think I am allergic to, in a nice little flat in Oxford. Being the all round super guy that I am I stepped in to cat-sit when she had been let down at the last moment and they had already paid for their tickets.

On the surface it is just fine. A seven-day sideways step can’t be that tricky. Can it?

I have turned on the slightly baffling monster telly two or three times now. Turns out that it is possible to watch all-day police pornography shows with satellite TV. Who’d a thunk it? 20/20 cricket is ok, though not as soothing as Test Match stuff but the gem in all of this is a channel called Sky Arts HD. I didn’t know the Dirty Digger thought culture was anything other than something that grew on old yoghurt.

Opera’s, organ recitals and the like. organI was fascinated as they tried to sex-up an organ recital by placing cameras inside the organ and then doing tight-in shots of  hands and feet playing the beast then immediately cutting away to the corresponding action shots from within. I am now much better informed as to what happens inside all the guts of the organ. Strangely though, I was just enjoying the impressive panning shots of this behemoth of an instrument and the up-skirt internal organ shots added nothing. Still, I guess they are trying. However, I can take about 20 min then it’s telly off and back to my book, or more usually my keyboard.

I have shopped for what I eat and drink in Waitrose so am more comfortable that I don’t need to survive on Kraft Dinners kraft dinnerand an odd little coffe machine. Proper espresso, industrial strength from a Bialetti stove top type thing. There is always that slight frisson of “will it explode and kill me with some cheap cast aluminium shrapnel?”. I find the post-brew survival adds to the caffeine buzz. Cheese, red wine and bananas were also lacking. No fear Waitrose is here so all is good on the comestibles front now.

In my bedroom I have an old mattress that needs changing, an orthopaedic pillow – that also needs changing – but most importantly of all I have a lovely down duvet with nice John Lewis Egyptian cotton bed linen. In her room it is a nice but slightly too firm mattress, bed linen with a bit of synthetic fibres making me sweat like a man on death-row capped off with a synthetic duvet. It doesn’t drape very well but rather it just uses your body as the apex point to form a mini circus tent. Due to my increasing years and general softness – I talk about Rule #5 but don’t always follow it – I want the duvet to settle over me and form a nice and gentle hermetic seal all around my body.

I am not used to waking up in a young woman’s bed slightly cold and sweating on such a regular basis.