Category Archives: Whinging

Paging Charlie Foxtrot

From time to time my employer deems it in their best interests for me to disappear to the other end of the country for variable periods on the whim of which ever paymaster is meeting the bill. Basically, I work for a pimp. I’m loaned out for a fee, only some of which I get back as a reward for my services. Such was the case two weeks ago when my slumbers on the bench were disturbed by the strident tone of the phone. “We need you to go to Manchester, for 3 months”. Now, 3 months is the standard unit of time deployed by our sales team when coming up with an assignment. This is an elastic unit which much like the band, will only stretch. Confirmation was gained on the Thursday, that I would be required to start the following Tuesday. Ok, not ideal but still sufficient time for our travel department to get ripped off, sorry to book the requisite travel and accommodation. The only occasions upon which T and A is supplied for me. Cut to Monday, and at 1:30 in the afternoon, whilst I’m “working from home” (err, walking the dogs), I receive a message that tells me I’m required in Basingstoke instead. Cue much annoyance, followed by frantic messaging of travel to get my arrangements changed in line with the email I’d received. Tuesday comes and I begin the trek to Basingstoke at 5am, finally arriving at my destination office around 12:30. I then sit in reception for 45 minutes as no one can locate the client contact. Not the most auspicious of starts. It’s also about now that things start to unravel, as it’s discovered that I’m expected to schlep up to Manchester on the Thursday, then down to Birmingham on the Friday. Thankfully, sanity prevails and my employers refuse to redo the arrangements again. I’m deliberately not naming names here as it’s not good for anyone concerned and it gets worse. Having organised next weeks festivities to be split between Basingstoke and Manchester, it’s now up in the air where the client want me and when. All that’s certain is Basingstoke for Monday and Tuesday…..truly, I despair……

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Today I turn precisely 39 and ¼. Now, I’ve never really been bothered about age, particularly as in my head I’m about 25. However, 40 seems like such a particular age to be passing. I feel like I’m supposed to grow up, be a responsible citizen. Many people who know me may be surprised to learn I’m so youthful, given my appearance resembles that of my father so readily. That’s the one thing that does get on my chebs. The youthful person inside my head is starting to rebel. Is this “mid life crisis?” If so, I don’t want it. I’ve already faced up and decided to stop playing cricket. My performance as a bowler hasn’t really diminished, but it feels like it takes longer to recover and I just don’t have the time to dedicate to training now that I need just to remain competitive. Not that my inner virulent stud agrees. Shit!

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It’s funny how the mind works. There I was killing time in Birmingham Airport. Two hours between the end of the meeting and my train home. Yes, despite the addling of age I realise I’ve mentioned waiting for a train at an airport. If you know Birmingham, you’ll understand. I’m having a late lunch in Frankie and Benny’s, (who said business travel wasn’t glamorous?), finishing things off with a fairly rank cappuccino. The mind drifts back the thick end of 20 years to the north-eastern Italy, and the village of Aviano. Sitting in a little coffee shop, enjoying a much better cappuccino with a dear friend. I swear I could smell her perfume, hear her voice and see the way her lips pouted as she licked the foam from her spoon. Not sure where I’m going with this now. Our relationship was purely platonic. Josie was more like the sister I never had than a potential girlfriend. We’d met when I did an exchange visit to Italy with my college. The girl who’s family I stayed with had me tag along to her school one Saturday morning. Seemed like good idea. I had nothing else to do, not enough Italian to make conversation with the rest of her family and her class was exclusively female, which to an 18-year-old was the jackpot. (As an observation, Italian females are almost uniformly easy on the eye until they reach 40. At which point they split into two camps:

Sophia Loren, or

Mamma………and it seems to happen overnight.)

I was sat near the front of the class, which was studying tourism, as all the girls wanted jobs in that area. And, not having met may of the girls before was just listening to the babble of Italian and wondering what the hell was going on. It was at this point, that a voice spoke up, and when she got to a word for which there was no Italian equivalent, her American accent was obvious. Josie was the product of a marriage between an Italian mother and US serviceman father. America has a large air base and marine presence in Aviano, it is, or at least was pretty much the raison d’etre for the town. We hit it off almost immediately, for her I think there was the fascination of the fact I was from out-of-town, was familiar with American culture and treated her as a person. For me, there was the fact that we could communicate without the barrier of translation, and needing to simplify speech. I’m also not afraid to admit I found her attractive, but, as time went by, and by this I mean, we took up a correspondence by letter for this was the time before email and the internet. So it wasn’t stalking! As the time went by, I think my feelings for her went beyond lust, and to the familial as noted above. I visited with her a couple of times during summer holidays before she eventually left for college in Florida, and we continued to stay in touch before a foul up with an early sojourn into email meant we lost touch. Until recently that is. Through the wonder of social networking our paths crossed again. On LinkedIn of all places, Facebook for professionals. Hah, as if I’m one of those! Anyway, we’re both married, both have two kids, of around the same ages. I’d love to meet up again, and chew the fat, have a couple of beers for ‘auld lang syne’ and just catch up…maybe…….

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Dear Virgin Trains, Please get with the program.  Why is it necessary for you to charge those of us in cattle class to access the on-board wifi?  East Coast Trains don’t see the need.  And while we’re at it, what’s with the airline style announcing.  I mean, it’s a reasonable assumption for the head trolley dolly on a flight to make that all of the passengers have been onboard for the entire flight, but, on a train?  Really?  It’s stupid, it’s patronising and it’s unrealistic.  Other than that, your service is perfectly adequate.

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So that was Christmas….

…and what did we do?

We ate far too much food, and turned it to poo….

The world’s most overhyped single day celebration has ended for another year. In truth it’s all over before it begins normally. Eldest child up at 3am, decides her younger brother just has to be awake. We hold out until 6:30. Presents all done and dusted an hour later. By 9, they’re bored. Nothing left to do but eat.

All that’s left is the build up to the second most over hyped single day celebration. New Year. Hordes of people getting drunk and expecting things to be magically different just because the clock has ticked over by a second.

Humbug-ery 101…..frak it….pass the Peroni.

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It’s my party and I’ll spew if I want to

Well, that was a hectic week.  Last weekend, I found myself in Birmingham, accompanying Mrs C to her work conference.  1050 people, 1000 women, 5 straight men, and 45 gays at what can only be described as a cross between a hen party and a menopausal rave.  Never have so many bingo wings collected in one place.  The level of devotion some of these people have to candles or “wax” in company speak is astounding, hordes of them arriving in their groups, dressed in identical t-shirts with names on the back, so much so that hotel reception on Saturday morning resembled Faliraki airport on a summer Saturday.  They were blowing whistles, shaking tambourines, dancing on chairs and generally over reacting to every pronouncement with a fervour only matched by a populous marched into a square at gun point to worship at the feet of their Great Leader.  I have seen the axis of evil, and it burns your wick.

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All of this merriment meant that I missed a big few days for the mighty RHC.  The club got its hands on some silverware for the first time since the mid 80’s, winning the Masterton Trophy.  A prestigious Twenty20 competition, played for in Edinburgh since 1964 (yes, that’s right England, you didn’t invent Twenty20!!!).  There were league wins to be had as well, lifting the Ones into the playoff place, and the Threes, leaving us right on the promotion mix.  Rainouts this weekend mean that Falkland have won SNCL Div 2, and it looks as though the playoff place will be decided in the final game, when the Ones go to Dumfries in a winner take all clash.  It’s heading that way for us Threes players too.  Currently we sit third, just a couple of percentage points behind Edinburgh, who we host on the final day of the season.  Unless Clackmannan collapses we’re playing for second place and promotion.  Always assuming it stops raining long enough to allow some play!

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Spent last week on a training course for work.  Three days of cramming with a three-hour exam at the finish.  I have a feeling I’ve failed, which is bad because I hate failing, but ultimately meaningless, as it won’t change my job status either way.  In all honesty, it smacks of creating a load of jargon and terminology in an attempt to take a fairly straightforward commonsense job and turn it into a psuedo-science to give it some sort of credibility/legitimacy when stacked up against IT Development and Programming.  Probably because those oh so precious developers don’t like having the flaws in their software pointed out by untrained chimps like me!

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Since when did we get so squeamish about dying soldiers??  I mean, send them to a war zone and expevt casualties, but, daily now we get shock horror from the media and the phone in’s over how 204 of our best and bravest have been killed in Afghanistan since the invasion.  That’s what? Seven years?  Six?  Hmm, thank fuck none of us were around during the years 1914-18 or 1939-45, we’d have rolled over and given up as in the 30seconds it would have taken the Germans to kill 204.  Military personnel exist to be sent to dangerous places and do dangerous things.  Yes, it’s tragic when they are killed doing it, but, they accept the possibility when they join up, get on with the job and make us all proud.  Lets face it, more people have died on the UK’s roads in the same timeframe.  There are many reasons why our military shouldn’t be in Afghanistan, and many why they should be, but, death is no reason for either.

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Hey Mr Bank Manager…

I’m skint, not just “hmm, can’t afford a coffee” skint, “would join you for a beer but can only afford a coke” skint, but struggling to pay the bills, behind on the maxxed out credit cards skint.  How did I get here?  Let me count the ways…..

Income is down, Mrs C has developed a habit of becoming tired of jobs that pay reasonably well, and regularly, leaving them to take on personal dreams that never pay out.  First it was the time she got into scrap-booking, became a party plan consultant for Creative Memories and set out on the road to riches selling the over priced bits of paper and cutting tools no self respecting yummy mummy who lunches can live without.  Big problem being, we don’t know any of those types of women, and don’t live in that sort of area.  Sales were not good.  She hit upon the idea of producing bespoke albums for people.  Set up a website, produced fliers, went to fayres etc and did one album.  Eventually we got her back into a job.  It was going well, was publicly funded and she enjoyed it.  Then she got the invite.

Candle party.  What the frack was a candle party???  Think Tupperware, or Ann Summers, but with candles rather than similarly shaped rubber items.  She was targetted by the woman presenting the candles and eventually succumbed to her pitch, signing up as a consultant, rounding up people to host parties and earning commission for sales.  They did a real number on her, turning her head with huge potential earnings.  So far??  nada, and it’s getting worse.  The economic situation is such that no one wants to spend many on such fripperies at the moment.  Our cards took a hit just to allow us to survive week to week, and now….suddenly it’s all imploded.

Can I get help???  In short, no.  No matter what you try to tell these companies, and what documentation you give them, they still expect you to be able to conjure up large sums of money at the drop of a phone call.  Plus, it’s hard enough trying to talk through the fuck up you’ve made of your finances with a friend, let alone some faceless Philippino in a call centre on the outskirts of Manila.  It’s not their fault the heavily accented english is unintelligable, nor can they be blamed for having to read from a script, and not being able to deviate from it, but these are circumstances that call for some degree of flexibility.  It’s not that I don’t want to pay, just that I physically cannot pay at the moment.

Still, it could be worse.  My younger brother has gotten himself in all sorts of bother.  His wife has left him, they will be divorcing at the earliest opportunity, he is left in the marital home, it’s been up for sale for nearly a year.  Hardly anyone is buying at the moment, and when they do get an offer in, she rejects it as it’s not enough.  He’s unable to pay the mortgage on his own and she’s not willing to give him any money towards it.  But, frankly, I don’t blame her.  When she was contributing, he wasn’t using it to pay off the mortgage.  He’s gotten himself addicted to webcams.  The ones with Eastern European or Asian ladies flashing their bits and rubbing their clits.  Or inserting various objects into various orifices.  I’ve frequented the odd sight in my time.  I’m not proud of it, and I can see how easy it would be to get addicted to it, depsite the fact that it is amongst the least erotic of erotic experiences you could have.  Many of the girls are straight to the point, demanding to “go my private” without any preamble, all about the cash.  I was suprised how many mature ladies there are involved in this stuff, mostly from the comfort of their own homes.  The younger girls and particularly the Asian ones seem to be working in “battery porn” operations, where you can hear the “pleasured” yelping of the girl next door.  These tend to be the ones for whom it’s all about the cash, generally as they have a pimp sat watching them.  Some girls are however, really good at what they do, they make you feel you are the only person they are talking to, that you are special, and you end up spending large sums of money just to talk to them….this is what happened to bro.  Personally, if you are topless in front of a webcam “talking” to Olga from Ukraine and haven’t noticed your wife come in, then alarm bells should start ringing.  He “doesn’t have a problem”, but, he’s been reduced to knocking on the neighbours doors to borrow money for petrol just to get to work.  These are neighbours who know why his wife left him.  I wouldn’t be able to face them in the street, let alone beg for money from them.  My parents have of course, bailed him out.  They don’t have any money either, yet, somehow, they’ve found some for him.

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One week later……..

Just made the most difficult phone call I’ve ever made.  Asking my dad for money!!  What have I come too??  One of my credit card debts has just been passed to a collection agency.  Very kindly they’ve offered a settlement figure of £8950, a saving of over £2k on the total outstanding.  Hmm, let me see, I can barely afford to offer them £50 a month!!!  Well, Pops is going to get Mother to phone back when she returns from work…..I dunno, maybe things will get sorted out, but right now, it doesn’t feel like it….just keep the medicine cabinet shut!

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That joke isn’t funny anymore..

You wait over a year for a defeat, then two come along at once.  The once mighty RHC3’s slumped to a second consecutive defeat on Saturday, after once again turning up with just nine players.  Fraggle really getting the short end of a very shitty stick as he stands in as captain.

Dunbar opted to bat first and things were looking bleak as they made their way to 120 for 1, but the introduction of Raj, on one of his rare ventures back from London, delivering an exceedingly good assortment of tempting pastry encased products slowed the run rate and began to winkle out the batsmen.  A couple of pieces of questionable running aiding the collapse to 168 all out.

After a passable tea, we set about the chase, Hoffy taking advantage of some rank bowling to hit a few boundaries, before he tamely holed out to square leg.  Progress continued at a good pace, we were always above the required rate, however wickets fell fairly regularly.  Raj played a classy innings and we looked like we could sneak it while he stayed in.  Sadly, he couldn’t, missing a full toss down leg side that ratteld the leg stick half way up.   We fell 20 runs short.  Those two bodies would’ve made a big difference to the outcome.

Two weeks in a row now with nine.  On each occasion one of those has been either a non player or someone who hasn’t played for a number of years.  In fairness, both have done solid jobs and contributed.  We’ve used juniors, again they’ve held their heads high and we’ve competed, but this is not a sport where a shortage of players can be compensated easily.

In football the team down to ten men can often play better.  It’s fairly simple to remain competitive in this situation if you remain organised.  The playing area is not overly large, and the scoring area is strictly defined.  It’s not overly difficult for an organised side to make scoring difficult even when shorthanded.  It’s harder in rugbyas the scoring area runs the entire width of the pitch, thus it’s easier for the full strength side to stretch the cover and find a weakness to exploit.  In cricket it’s almost impossible.  Scoring can occur anywhere on the field, and a batsmen with nous will manipulate the ball to areas that aren’t covered.  As a bowling team, you need to balance the need to take wickets and thus set “attacking” fields, with the need to prevent runs being scored.  It needs real effort on behalf of the fielders to come close to covering the extra gaps.  We have won games when shorthanded, but this rested more on the ineptitude of the opposition.  Turning up with 9 against a full side of 11 is effectively a 40 run start for the opposition.  We have nothing to fear in terms of ability from any other side in the league, but we are in danger of throwing away a great chance for back to back promotions by not getting teams out.

I’m already beginning to question my commitment.  If other guys can’t be bothered to turn out, why should I go on knocking my pan in, particularly as the extra effort required in covering up for absences takes it’s toll.  Injuries are to be expected and can’t be helped, but people who come to play for the club know when we play, know when games are and should be able to plan their lives so as to maximise availability.  It’s not like it should come as a surprise.  I communicated to the captain before the season began which Saturdays I was unavoidably elsewhere.  The kicker for me was the sides grumpy old man.  Who just days after delivering a lecture on availability, made the last minute decision to attend a music festival at the weekend.  Hypocrit.  To be honest, if I have to play anymore matches short handed this season, I’m quitting.  It’s not worth the feelings of impotence as once more a ball is played through a gap that shouldn’t be there.  I’m not so much angry about all this as disillusioned.  League tables prior to this weeks games are here: http://www.eastleague.org.uk/index.php?option=com_joomleague&func=showRanking&p=25

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People, people who need people

Twitter.  It has it’s plusses, it has it’s minuses, and one of those many minuses is #followfriday.  The “tradition” whereby you are supposed to reccommend a user to other users.  But, in just a short space of time it’s become a sort of daisy chain of mutual backslapping and ass kissing.  So, taking my cue from another twitter user, I started to compile a list of my favourite tweets, with a view to adding them here as a weekly listing.  Sadly I forgot to do it for large chunks of time, but, here’s the first list.  It’s short.  Both because I’m lazy and I forgot, but also because I have standards, so you have to be amngst the elite to make the list…..or offer me favours 😉

So without further ado:

nik_kee_deeRT @Angpang: Want to avoid the bollocks-fest that #followfriday has become? Use Favourites, as explained here: http://angelarambleson.blogspot.com/

quantick #smallambitions Obscurity! I want to live til Tuesday! I want to walk on the ground! Low! Remember remember remember parts of my name!

SarahMag80Right I need tea… and cake but its probably best I just have tea x

VioletsCRUKGood morning! ( as she puts on dark glasses and puts her dressing gown hood over her head) Think i overdid the wine last night! :-s lol

and a special shout out to:

Heidi_rangeHi there, watched Changeling last night and loved it, didn’t expect it to be so dark though! x

I loved that one because, well, let’s see.  Changeling, a film about a woman who spends years trying to find her missing son, time in a mental instituion for pointing out the child the police returned to her, wasn’t actually hers and so on.  And Ms Range, god bless her, didn’t expect it to be dark!?!?!?

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Taking Goals to Newcastle

OK, let’s get the bad news over with first. Newcastle United were relegated from the EPL yesterday afternoon. Unlike a number of fans I had no great belief that they would get out of the relegation zone prior to the last match, and yet, in the immediate aftermath of the game, the feeling of disappointment was still tangible. Having had time to reflect, those feelings of anticlimax, of let down, of disbelief have crystalised and taken on a new perspective. Not so much over the fact that the club were relegated, but more in the manner in which they were relegated.

Yesterday’s game summed up so much of not just this past season, but the last three or four seasons. The desperate, last ditch, disorganised rabble of a defence. Take a look at the 1000 yard stare in the shell shocked eyes of Fabricio Coloccini, the confusion of Kevin Nolans head twisting like an owl as he tries to work out who to mark at a corner. See the midfield, lacking drive, ambition, guile, bite. When Nicky Butt is your best player, you have problems. Take a peak at the strikers, struggling to feed off scraps, not making any runs with purpose, snatching at half chances. When Shola Ameobi is thrown on, a man who appears to have been constructed entirely of knees and elbows, it’s pretty much an admission of defeat. There was no art, no craft, no creativity, no drive, no urgency, no sense that there would be a goal at any time. Worst of all there appeared to be no belief and most damningly, no passion. It was a bit like watching Scotland.

Dropping down to the Championship may, just may, be a good thing for Newcastle. A chance to take stock, a reality check, the kick in the head wake up call the heirarchy needs. Some tough choices need to be made. It’s well known that Mike Ashley wants to sell the club. However, it’s a tough economic climate out there, no-one seems willing to invest overly at the moment. The club has just been relegated, has significant debt, he’s given a two year contract to a manager with a dicky ticker. Who want’s to inherit that? A new owner, will want to bring in their own management team. The squad just isn’t good enough, it is aging, lacks depth in a number of positions, lacks flair, lacks pace and seemingly passion. Who are the saleable assets? Difficult to see really. Of the bodies involved yesterday:

Steve Harper – will probably stay. He’s waited years to be the number one, won’t be keen to be a number two elsewhere, plus he’s solid, and we’ll need a solid keeper next season.

Fabricio Coloccini – often looked lost, didn’t seem to cope with the pace and tempo of the games. Probably be buyers for him on the continent, he is an Argentine international after all

Steven Taylor – One player who did look like he was trying, still makes too many mistakes, will probably be around to try and get the club back up

David Edgar – might actually benefit from the drop. He just doesn’t look good enough for Premiership level

Damien Duff – has done well and tried hard as an emergency left back, but his days of being a threat are long gone. Don’t see many takers for him though.

Danny Guthrie – lacking confidence and class, he’s a grinder in midfield, young so may improve.

Kevin Nolan – seems to have been something of a panic buy, hasn’t been the player he was at Bolton. No takers.

Michael Owen – out of contract, not likely to resign, there’ll be a club somewhere willing to take him on. He’s looked well past his sell by date, but there may be something to the theory that surrounded by better players he could contribute.

Nicky Butt – been the best player at the club all season. If not sold, he should be skipper next season.

Peter Lovenkrands – signed for nothing, will be let go for nothing. He’s just not done anything

Jose Enrique – can’t see many takers for Jose, has shown moments of his ability potential, but is likely to be back in Spain on a cut price deal.

Mark Viduka – the big man is finished. Although, strangely, I think his pylon like abilities could make him a key player in the Championship.

Shola Ameobi – should be let go. Like Viduka he’s a big target man, with a physical presence. Unlike Viduka, the ball pings off him all the time, he barely seems able to control his limbs, never mind the ball.

Obafemi Martins – A luxury player we can’t afford. He won’t stick around, and would be ideally suited to a bigger club where he can sit on the bench as an impact player.

Tim Krul – likely to be number two to Harper
Alan Smith – another who has had too many injuries. Big money contract means he’ll be a difficult sell,
Jonas Gutierrez – may not want to play at Championship level, has shown a lot of effort but no real production likely to end up back in Spain
Ryan Taylor – seems to have been a throw in for the N’Zogbia deal.
Joey Barton – who exactly will want him??
Habib Beye – hopefully he’ll stick around.

Ashley has apparantly spent £250 million of his money on Newcastle already.  He won’t be able to sell the club for that in it’s current state.  What does he do?  Sell for what he can get and take the loss, or invest more in retooling the squad, getting the club back into the Premiership thus increasing it’s value?  He may even discover a love for the club.

Of course, we’ll struggle to attract much in the way of decent quality through the doors. Much as the jury is still out on Shearer’s abilities as a manager, he’s the only person who will have an leeway from the fans in terms of being given the time to rebuild the squad. Joe Kinnear certainly won’t get that, although he might have a role to play as an advisor, he should be let go. Shearer is also liable to have a bit more cachet with agents and players than Kinnear in terms of getting them to play at SJP. I don’t see the club bouncing back at the first attempt, I just hope they don’t implode like Leeds did. We don’t have the core of young saleable assets Leeds had, but we have got the Dennis Wise episode out of the way already!

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Seem’s everyone is watching Britian’s Got Talent. My family do, I try to avoid it, but one thing about it got my goat on Saturday night. It was the last of the “audition” shows. Where several people got voted through to “the next round”. This next round seemed to consist of shipping two hundred and odd people down to London, only to spend the day waiting around, to be told to piss off home again as they hadn’t made the semi finals. What?? Basically anyone shown in the final audition show got two minutes of exposure before disappearing, whilst everyone from the earlier shows has had at least a week of media hype. Or in the case of Susan fucking Boyle, far too bloody much hype. Why not have a rundown of the “Yesses” after each show, and give Joe Public a week to vote on them, the top 5 vote getters over each of the ten weeks get to make the 50 semi finalists….Cowell, you’d earn even more from the phone votes. Of course, I’d like a cut for the idea!!

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My significant other watches those property shows. The ones where ‘experts’ meet a couple, hunt down some properties and show them around. They never have anyone on them whose budget is less than £250,000. Just once, i’d like to see them deal in the real world, with £90k to spend on a fixer upper…..plus there’s the fact that no-one ever actually buys any of the houses they view either. It must be great for the house owners, they get a camera crew and a bunch of strangers tromp round their house, sealing it off from genuine potential buyers, they know these people won’t be making an offer let alone buying, then a few weeks later they get to watch as their sense of design and decor are ripped to shreds by a couple of tyre kicking snobs on a jolly, who want their friends/colleagues/former school mates to know exactly how much money they have.

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