It began as a blog about completing a thesis, it became a blog about everything but completing a thesis, it ended with a complete thesis.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Began the day by hearing of Charles Chadwick – a man who, at the age of 72, is about to have his debut novel published. And it only took him 32 years to write it. At that rate, the trilogy compendium will be published to coincide with his 136th birthday. Warming stuff.

This evening, I’m playing host to Londonist PhD pal Nicola – a largely agreeable gal who is en route to a conference. I will encourage her to share in at least one of my sordid pleasures. If I’m feeling racy then maybe I’ll suggest we plump for a bit of both.

Last night, I watched the film Boys Don’t Cry for a second time. Had seen it in Bristol on its release in 2000. Again, I found the Brandon Teena character (or maybe it was Hilary Swank’s performance) to be moving throughout. When Emma passed the recording to me she’d said she thought it was a good film, though she couldn’t feel much for any of the characters. What inference do we draw from this? Shane the softer touch? Well, ordinarily perhaps. However, on this occasion, not without reason – in my reading of the portrayal of Brandon, suppression of the sexual identity crisis made sense of many of the character’s flaws. All of which reminds me of my dear auntie Jim.

Had the misfortune of hearing an interview with the Education Secretary of State this morning – Ruth Kelly. Aged 36, mother of four, and the most senior female in the government. And she sounds like a man with a permanently blocked nose – which makes for unpleasant listening. Much the same as Caroline Wyatt of the BBC. This worries me. It’s almost as if talent matters these days.

I love Hilary Swank. I expect we will marry in the spring of 2006.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

'tites go down, 'mites go up

Well, firstly, a mop-up… in my previous post Emma’s amusement was centred on young Alex evidencing an awareness of ‘brother’ as a close male relation, however, in attributing this status to self, he implied – in a cute young boyish sort of way – that his mother was engaged in incest (she and I are certainly not siblings). And on that note, good morning.

The under-17s football in Stoke on Saturday was really good. A crowd of 5104 saw England win 3-1. Lots of ‘families’, and therein children in the crowd, and as expected, it was an event that was quite without edge.

Familially, Emma’s dad was a top bloke – he chatted easily at one time jokingly asking if I could imagine how difficult it must have been for him trying to footballingly enthuse two disinterested daughters for over twenty years. To that, he added occasional football trivia questions. If this is how I’m to be judged in terms of whether I’m worthy of his daughter, then that suits me very well. Other than that, young Alex and I continued to bond very well. The matter of my acquiring for him a great big St George’s Cross flag for him to wave throughout the game was a great hit. Less useful, however, was the great flag hit that he dealt to the man sat in front of us. That said, the victim proved to be good humoured and glad to engage in conversation about introducing youngsters to football. Quite unconcussed, which was a relief to all.

Later, as we idled towards the end of a fine lamb curry dinner at Emma’s parents’ house, young Alex enquired of his mother ‘Can Shane stay at our house tonight?’ At this, mixed feelings struck me. On the one hand, it was a public statement that he was comfortable and happy to have me around. On the other hand, it was a bit of a buttock-clencher in terms of how Emma’s parents would react. As it was, this was not an issue. Emma’s Mum jumped in with ‘Why, do you like spending time with Shane?’ The boy confirmed and added ‘Also, I think Shane would like it if I showed him my toys, would you like that Shane?’ To this, I casually replied with a coughing fit, and watery eyes – the lamb curry was not short of chilli. All laughed, except Alex, who enquired ‘What’s wrong?’. ‘Nothing’s wrong, that’s a wonderful idea (cough splutter), can you pass a tissue please Emma. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow Alex’ replied I.

And so it was that I landed at their house late Sunday morning for a trip to Poole’s Cavern in Buxton, Derbyshire. In a nutshell, this is a wonderful ‘show cave’ with a guided tour – all of this takes place under ground at a constant temperature of seven degrees celcius (approx 44F). Now, rather than bore you with details of stalactites and stalagmites, I will mention the second, infinitely more buttock-clenching moment of the weekend.

Mine and Ed’s paths crossed – for the first time since this occasion. Upon landing at the Emma and Alex home Emma answered the door to me with a half-wince half-smile stroke-of-hand, and the words ‘Don’t be freaked out: Ed’s here. He’s just out the back saying bye to Alex, he knows you’re coming, and he’s totally ok with that’. [Nb/ Since their split, despite initial talk of Ed continuing to share the house with Emma, he has rented a separate house for himself – a move which young Alex has accepted without question. Ed’s standard working and living away from what had been home probably eased this.] Anyway, feeling a bit spooked I proceeded to the back garden – thinking ‘Hang back, let father and son do their interacting, be sweet and laid-back’. On stepping out Ed turned, greeted me with a smile, stepped forward, extended hand, and said ‘Hello again, I’ve been hearing a lot about you from this one’ (tapping Alex on the head). ‘Fuck me!’ thought I. ‘Wow, that’s er-, good to hear – I think’ said I. However, these words were only half-audible as Alex’s response to my arrival had been to run towards me with out-stretched arms and a loud greeting of ‘Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane!’ To this, I was much more uncomfortable. ‘Not now’ thought I. ‘Well hello to you too’ said I. As this profoundly non-situation situation presented itself, my mind was cast to the scene in the film ‘As Good As It Gets’ where Jack Nicholson’s character is awkwardly encouraging the neighbour’s pet dog to show affection to the neighbour after it has been looked after by the Nicholson character for a short spell. As it is, the dog ignores the neighbour having found a richer source of bacon rashers and molly-coddling in the Nicholson character. The whole moment – for that’s all it was, about 90 seconds I’m guessing - passed quickly. Ed bade an Easter farewell, and was off to finalise some work on his new house, prior to returning to his London flat.

The quick ‘debrief’ with Emma about how I felt about meeting Ed again was useful but unremarkable. It was an undeniably mature encounter, and one which Alex would have benefited from, from having witnessed. There then followed a really good day out in Buxton, we returned to the BigCity in a much more cave-muddied state than how we had departed it earlier.

I love introducing people to new and uplifting places and experiences.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Emma: (Clearly amused) You’ll never guess what Alex- (can’t complete sentence, laughing too much)
Shane: Alex did what?
(Tears fill the Emma eyes, she is laughing a lot)
Shane: Oh dear, I’m sensing cute but appalling
Emma: (Nods) He said- (no, try as she may the laughs continue to inhibit sense)
Shane: Ah well, er, my expectations are building, it’s your own time you’re wasting-
Emma: He told my Mum-
Shane: Oh God, what did he tell your Mum?
(A tear rolls from the Emma left cheek, she reaches for a piece of paper, makes a note, hands it over)
Shane: (Reading aloud) ‘Shane’s Mummy’s brother’… Shane’s Mummy’s brother?... Oh Jesus what? Shane’s Mummy’s brother!
(Hearing this again tickles the Emma yet more)
Shane: What did your Mum say?
Emma: She thought it was hilarious. So did my Dad and my sister.
Shane: But-
Emma: Oh-, they all know.
Shane: But how?
Emma: Just the amount of time we’ve been spending together, my Dad also said the other night that ‘every other sentence at the moment seems to be about Mr Shane’. Even Alex has been talking about you.
Shane: Oh. Have you told them for definite that we’re an item then?
Emma: I don’t think I need to. It just feels comfortable as it is. Besides, my Dad especially is still having to see Ed – he’s helping us sort out the legal stuff to do with the houses.
Shane: Oh right. Sounds good. I’m presuming that Ed is still unaware-
Emma: Officially unaware, though I think he might have guessed.
Shane: He’d be ok with that? With us?
Emma: To be honest I don’t think he’d care. He told me he’d given Lexi a swimming lesson the other day. [Lexi is spoken of as the best friend of Emma, we met briefly once when I drove her to the railway station]
Shane: A swimming lesson?
Emma: I know. That’s what I thought. Bit weird, but, well, he likes swimming, and she’d already talked with me about her staying in touch with him when I told her were splitting up.
Shane: Mm. How would you feel if they-?
Emma: I don't know really. It would just seem weird at first.
Shane: Mm.
Emma: Anyway, I have an invite for you.
Shane: Oh?
Emma: My Dad wants to know if you’d like to come to the football with Alex, him and me on Saturday.
Shane: Oh wow - not wishing to sound so interested in an uncool way of course. Which football would that be?
Emma: England.
Shane: England (many many many exclamation marks)
Emma: Oh not the proper England. These are youngsters - 17 year olds.
Shane: Ah. Right. I’m guessing that’ll be about fifty quid cheaper per ticket.
Emma: Probably. It’s only a fiver for the lot of us.
Shane: A fiver for four of us?
Emma: Yeah. But it’s in Stoke.
Shane: Stoke again?!
Emma: I promise that it’ll be better than your Dracula experience.
Shane: Dear, it couldn’t not be better than my Dracula experience. I would be glad to join you all for the football.
Emma: Good. He’ll take Alex, we’ll meet them there – quarter to one.
Shane: Oh?
Emma: My Dad said he’d look after Alex on Friday.
Shane: That’s the spirit!
Emma: (Amused)

Song for the day: Bring It On (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Think twice

Received a call yesterday from an old Historian pal - TeacherDebs - who's working in the BigCity. She shared with me a story that emerged from her covering another teacher's class. In a nutshell: there's a young rogue who TeacherDebs had previously regarded as a bit of a handful, she knew he'd had one or two run-ins with the police, and he isn't one who the other kids would mess with. An impression of a 'tough nut' begins to emerge. Well, he shocked his classmates in their year 7 (aged 11-12) English class whilst talking about 'Love Poetry', by announcing that he'd written a poem about an Asian girl who lives near him but who he's never spoken to. TeacherDebs - covering for the regular teacher - said she was completely lost for words. Though she didn't have the poem to share (for it was at the young hound's home), I was warmed by the anecdote. I jotted words as we chatted. By the end of the conversation I'd come up with this:

- The Girl Down Our Street -

There's an Indian family lives down our street
With smart brown kids who are always neat
These kids go to the private school
On the other side of town where it's not very cool

Gorgeous smells come from their kitchen
If they offered their Mum I'd be up for switchin'
Shahida the daughter talks really funny
I reckon that's cos they've got loads of money

What with the voice and the cooking that's nice
I think Shahida's the real Posh Spice

I love the notion of the heroic ne'er-do-well.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Horses and win-bets, bulls and fish-nets

The races, and post-races, were really good.

General ‘at the races’ observations: Lots of ordinary people making an effort to dress smart. Some getting away with it. Many ladies – young and old – wearing a lot of make-up – much fake tan, much orange skin, some orange cleavage. Some ladies’ faces, cleavage and legs actually matched. Men in suits. Old suits. Rarely worn suits. Shirt top buttons open. Lager. Long queues for the toilets. Crowds, big crowds. In Uttoxeter!?! A few minor celebrities – horse racing and gambling pundits, a soap actor, and a former snooker player. Fine weather, bit fresh. Horses impressive. Short round track. With small fences. Attractive setting for racecourse. Spotted a student who I used to teach – looking gorgeously buxom, with orange cleavage. More lager.

Personally relevant observations: Our party all seemed well. Old pal GayFranglaise concerned me briefly – I suspect the broadly unreconstructed hetero male aspect of the event was not so winsome. However, his guest for the day – LadyFranglaise – was on very good form. I’d not spoken with her much before, however, her sociological analysis of the event was an instant entertaining hit. Like Brother Wexford said “It’s stupid going to the races expecting to make money – it’s just a good day out”. I made an £80 profit – which for a small fish like me was bloody marvellous. StatBoy had a lot to do with that – his pointing out trainer and jockey form was crucial. Was invited to the bull-running event in Pamplona for an EmmaFriend fiancé’s ‘stag do’. Baffled. Touched. Brother Wexford and EmmaSister got on very well. Lager. Champagne. Almost too well for comfort. They are both ‘otherly involved’. Unsustainably in at least one case. ‘United in drunkenness’. Their evening ended with a game of truth or dare. An extract of that as was reported by Emma (source: EmmaSister)…

EmmaSister: So what’s the strongest drug that you’ve ever taken?
Brother Wexford: (straight-faced) Coffee!

I am told that such effortless one-liners prove that he is a very cool person. I accept this. Though his blatant salivation at the EmmaSister was painful viewing for self. That said, she was hardly offended by it.

Of Friday’s five predictions of post-races comments, this is how I fared:-

“Your brother has such a deep voice” [Correct]
“How come your brother’s so tall?” [Words to that effect]
“His accent is so much stronger than your’s - I think I got about every third word” [Correct]
“Your brother seemed to be doing well – how much did he win?” [Wrong – his primary interest lay elsewhere – see above]
“So Shane, how much did you lose altogether?” [Wrong – my lucky underpants worked]

A sober interest in GayFranglaise, LadyFranglaise and StatBoy – not to mention a quite indecent interest in the gorgeously fish-netted Emma - ensured that I didn’t quite reach the point of impromptu vocal performance.

I love travelling, but I do wonder about being gored to death.

Friday, March 18, 2005

£1 each way on Bertie Blogger

On Saturday I will be going to the races. This will be the first jumps meeting that I’ve been to, and a first dalliance with the folk of Uttoxeter. I am told that this is the biggest day of the racing year for this particular course – we will see ‘The Midlands National’. Whilst living in the north east I got to the flat races at Redcar and Newcastle, I also got to Chester a couple of years ago - all good days out. Saturday’s experience will be novel as Brother Wexford will be heading south to join our party of twelve. Previously, he met Emma – albeit briefly. On this occasion he will meet her sister too. Post-races comments will include:-

“Your brother has such a deep voice”
“How come your brother’s so tall?”
“His accent is so much stronger than your’s - I think I got about every third word”
“Your brother seemed to be doing well – how much did he win?”
“So Shane, how much did you lose altogether?”

A couple of Emma’s friends will be in attendance too. Nice people, though really heavy drinkers. I will be revealed to be the lightweight that I truly am. Such a lightweight status can manifest in three ways:-

1. Shane is the first (or only) person to puke.
2. I start planning exotic outings for the months ahead – committing to music festivals, and so on.
3. Asking people if they’ve ever heard the song ‘Only Gay Eskimo’. And if they haven’t, they are instantly assaulted with an impromptu rendition. Lyrics here.

I love a happy ending?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Spoke with brother Wexford last night. He shared the following anecdote about when he was visiting old grandpa George (now deceased)…

The old man, for the last 4 weeks of his life, was living in an old peoples’ home (or whatever the PC term for such a place is now). Anyway, one Friday afternoon, sitting with the old man in his room, brother was told ‘I say son, I saw a bank robbery the other day’.
‘Is that right grandpa?’ asked brother
‘Aye, it is’ replied the old man
At this, I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, how come I never heard about this?’, I guessed maybe the old man had been taken out into the local town for the afternoon and at a distance had witnessed said raid bank robbery.
‘Then what did he say?’ I asked brother
‘Nothing really. I just said to him ‘Y’ know what grandpa?’, ‘What’s that?’ he said, then I just told him - ‘I don’t think you did’’
‘What?’ I asked, confused
‘Well y’ know, he was losin’ it wasn’t he, he was comin’ out with all sorts by the end’
‘Oh, yeah’ I acknowledged, feeling a bit shit for having been largely absent, ‘So what did he say when you said you didn’t think he saw the robbery?’
‘Nothing much, he just laughed - a lot, he reckoned it must have been his ‘mind playing tricks on him’’

Listening to this, I came over all sentimental and ridiculous; a tear may have rolled off my cheek. Had it been ma Wexford or grandma Elspeth listening to the old man’s break from reality they’d have awkwardly humoured him, probably shifting subject. Instead, brother – in his gorgeously frank but gentle way – had simply told it like it was – without embarrassment or fear. I could hear the old man’s chuckle as I ended the call with brother. Less than an hour later, whilst idling in front of the TV, Liz came in and offered me a
Murray Mint. I hadn’t seen a Murray Mint for years. They were the old man’s favourite sweet.

I love listening, but being a natural cynic* can be a bit awkward sometimes.

* some would say 'realist'

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Reach out and touch...

It seems that quite a 'pointed' search presented this blog to a recent Google searcher in Australia.

Copied and pasted from Statcounter... ( supervision arsehole supervisor&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

I think that's called 'not having a good day'.

G'day all.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Leak soup

Oh little town of Barton, how still we once saw thee lie. But not anymore. The people are walking with changed stride patterns, the people seem… upbeat.

The end of last week saw another work trip to the FarNorth. On this occasion, Emma and I were accompanied by a colleague, Yvonne, who will be collaborating with us between now and the wrap-up which I’m hoping will be June/July. On this occasion our behaviour was befitting of the professional researchers that we are, rather than the
amateur porn stars that we certainly are not. The trip was a success in that we got done much of what we’d aimed to, however, we are discovering sour behind-the-scenes politics – when the funders and the proposed beneficiaries of research are not one and the same body, then strange things can happen. It seems that someone is acting against our interests, and we know who that someone is – it is SmokerSkinWoman – she of the pudding-like head.


Had it pointed out to me yesterday that Stephen Fry is featured on the provisional programme for the Hay Festival, this made me whoop and cheer and jibber and sneeze – it was that kind of a weekend.

Much of the weekend was spent with Emma in the BigCity. On Saturday we met up with Catherine for lunch. There, something quite exciting happened – I was leaked at! Theatre-leaked that is. Catherine’s contact in theatre-world, had furnished details of who the secret celebrity guests were to be in a production of ‘
That Play What I Wrote’ that will be showing in Stoke-on-Trent – the cultural mecca that had played host to Dracula a month or so ago. Anyway, the ruse is that at the end of ‘TPWIW’, a guest is welcomed onto the stage to whoops and cheers from the audience – up until this point, the audience are meant to have been wondering which legend will trog out onto the boards at Southport or Bradford or Coventry or wherever it is that the show is playing. This is the formula that Morecambe and Wise used on their TV show of the 70s and 80s and which is the broad subject of the play. Anyway, upon hearing that one of the celebrity guests was ‘the bridegroom in the biggest wedding of the year’, I was agog. Surely not? In Stoke-on-Trent? Then, I was directed to this. He will cover half of the shows; the others will be covered by some comedian who is most well-known for having a squeaky voice - which is obviously the epitome of funny. Regretably, I shall be washing my hair during the entire week of the ‘TPWIW’ run, thus, I shall miss the fun.

It was good to return to the chateau last night. I landed in time to follow a focus-free political debate between a rather addled Pete, and an equally addled weekend house guest, Mary. This alerted me to the fact that
some politics are more important than others…

I love learning.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Middle of the Road

A few months ago, I 'hooked up' with a really decent group of writers. We meet monthly. Oddly, for a writers' group, it doesn't feel like 'group therapy'... yet? Anyway, here, 'trying something new', I share a brief missive that was penned for that group. The keyword prompt was 'punish'. Be strong, read on.

Middle of the Road

The long journey from Truro - A30, M5, M6, and the unending minor roads through people-free counties never felt any shorter. Cruising along the centre lane, passing coach parties, long-distance insomniacs and an out-of-place classic car the man pressed the CD player off – ‘far too jingo-pop for a tired mind’ he thought. Really, he ought not to have been driving, though to him, to have experienced his passenger’s driving over such a long distance would have been… ‘unwise’. Glancing across, he noticed that she was about to fall asleep.

“A-aah, no sleeping” he intoned
“Och, you are such a-, I was feeling so relaxed just then”
“Tough. You know the rule – you’ve got to keep me awake when the radio’s off”
She sighed, “You know, you sounded really impressive just then”
“Y’ know, when y’ do that ‘dominance’ thing”
“Hmm. For ‘dominance’ you can read ‘not-wanting-to-fall-asleep-at-the-wheel’”
Despite this flat tone, she continued to prod.
“So, Mr Not-Wanting-To-Fall-Asleep-At-The-Wheel, how would you like me to… keep… you… awake?”
He thought for a long moment - suppressing a smile, then he spoke “Ask me a question”
Disappointed, she hid a sigh with an exaggerated yawn.
“Say something profound”
“That’s not a question“
”Would you please say something profound?”
“No need for sarcasm”
“Well there’s no need for being a completely finicky shit”
“Heh heh heh-, take it easy Mrs Cadbury’s Caramel”
“Well don’t be so picky”
“Sorry” he murmured.

There followed a pause for several minutes as more anonymous greenery flashed by. He sighed, she registered this.

“Say something profound” she invited – all hostility gone.
He was glad to hear the recovered tone of voice, he thought for a short while, cleared his throat, then pronounced carefully “Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong”
She gaped, “Where the hell did that come from?”
He smiled, “My English teacher - Mr Peters - good bloke - he said it once, asked us what it meant”
“Well, it’s just a saying, y’ know, be… suspicious I suppose – of anyone who’s a bit handy with punishment”
She nodded, yet her expression was one of puzzlement “Why?”
“I don’t know. They could be dangerous - or stupid - would hardly be very ‘peace and understanding’ would it”
“S’pose not” she frowned.
“Ask me another question”

She thought longer this time, and just as he began to wonder whether she’d forgotten their peculiar driving game, she spoke again.

“Earlier, when I asked you how you would like me to keep you awake, what was your first thought?”
He smiled.
“You’re bad” she cooed.
“You’re hardly an angel yourself.”

(435 words)

That, to me, was the equivalent of streak-blogging.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

An unsettling 'need'

Received an email from MainSupervisor yesterday:
Subject: Hello!
Hi Shane,

How are you? Need to have a chat, do you have a landline I can call you on?


'Gulp!' thought I. Immediately, 'Need to have a chat' struck me as ominous. So I called supervisor - no answer or voicemail facility. Arse! Quickly, to email. No response to that within 5 minutes. Thus, I texted MainSupervisor. In the couple of hours that passed before MainSupervisor eventually called, I had had time to come up with the following list of possible reasons for needing to have a chat:-

- A glitch had been spotted re my supervision fees, a-hem, and supervisor was being hassled re this
- University admin were giving supervisor grief re the time taken for me to complete the PhD
- Other supervisor was not well, or worse
- SpecificFormerColleagueChum was not well, or worse
- A job had come up in the department and I was to be sounded-out re that, or worse
- Where was my next piece of writing?
- Main supervisor had found another job and would soon be leaving the university

The call came. 'Is this going to be an ominous chat?' I asked.
'I'll get straight to the point' came the response.
'Oh fuck, it is' thought I. Brace brace brace!!!

Looking ahead to the viva (examination by word of mouth) that will follow the thesis completion, I was told that the internal examiner who had been suggested would not be available for she would soon be off to sunnier academic climes. 'Is that all?' thought I. Seems that MainSupervisor had had a bit of a wobble re this.

'Have you had any thoughts re a possible replacement?' I asked.
'Well, I don't know how you'd feel about this but we were wondering how you might feel about VaguelyKnownBloke, you don't need to tell me now - just have a think about it-'
'Sounds fine, let's go with that' I interjected.
'Oh! Is there anything that you don't feel sure about in relation to VaguelyKnownBloke?'
'No. He's always struck me as an utterly reasonable person - has never struck me as having a point to prove'.
'Yeah, I think you're right, and I think he'd work well with MootedExternalExaminer'
'Well that sounds good'

The wave of relief that surged through me was quite spectacular. The chat was useful in reminding me of my main priority - getting the bloody thesis finished - a notion that guided the birth of this blog. And on that point, should the blog be continued post-PhDing, a new blog identity has been determined for that time.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Child's play & a cultural moment

Saturday afternoon heralded a drive into the snow-capped hills with Catherine and young Gemma. Having landed at the Tittesworth reservoir and country park at the south-west edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands, we caused a few double-takes from passing visitors bound for the very reasonable visitor centre and restaurant. As snow lashed down – far from what we’d expected – this did not stop our playing in the sand pit and in the children’s playground. Far from it, it created ideal conditions, for we had the whole place to ourselves. And all for the wind-chill price of minus one degree celcius – 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Ouch. Spirits were high as we trogged back to the car – each one of us with ruddy cheeks and an icy nose-run. Gemma slept all the way back to the BigCity.

Met with Emma and young Alex on Sunday afternoon, that was for a walk in a different country park – the urban kind – trees, trees, a lake, water-fowl, trees, and the mid-distant thunder of heavy traffic. Was good; an on-spec investigation of a boat shed went down well – quite the mini-adventure for the young boy. It seemed that as Mothers’ Day had struck, ‘doing family-time’ had affected a mass exodus from the towns to the edge-of-towns. The sunny day veiled low low temperatures. Shiverrrrr, and a box of chocolates.

Funniest 'culturally-sensitive' sighting of the weekend: lots of young
chavs bearing withered bunches of flowers - markers of the care and affection that they feel for their mothers. The Kappa Lilies seemed to be the most popular floral tribute.

Footballingly, this weekend:-
Glad about (one per division): Newcastle, Sunderland, Blackpool, Darlington
Disappointed for (one per division): Middlesbrough, Crewe, Hartlepool, Macclesfield

Favourites of the moment:-
Book - Tony Hawks' 'Playing the Moldovans at Tennis'
Music - Scissor Sisters
TV - The Apprentice (BBC2)

Happy World Anorak Day!

Friday, March 04, 2005

'Gobshite', noteworthiness, rabbit's foot

Communicatively, it has been an interesting past 24 hours or so, in fact, so interesting, that as I observe Barton pigeons taking shelter from heaving rain, I am inclined to suspect that each pigeon carries with it a most important missive. Let’s hope that the rain does not create any blurring effects.

Now then, chastisement - it happened, perhaps not unreasonably. However, I must blog-defend self against the suggestion of my not respecting Emma. Referring to someone as a, a-hem, ‘gobshite’ – in a public forum – may not quite ring of ‘love sweet love’. However, ‘gobshite’, used as it was on Tuesday evening, in an affectionate ‘self-deprecating’ sense, is not so loaded. It was the term that Emma – laughingly - used of herself when I drop-jawed upon hearing that I was already a known quantity to her grandmother. As it is, I have a lot of respect for Emma – she is a fine wit, can ask good Critical questions, has a sensitivity towards young Alex that is hugely attractive, and seems to capably spin many more plates than what number I have eaten hot dinners from. And if you’re now thinking that a raw nerve was touched, you’re right. That said, Jodie’s comment reminded me of this news story – which I did like a lot when I first read it.

Now then, on to lighter matters. You may remember that last week I foolishly (!) enacted an attempt at ‘doing grown-up’. In a nutshell, a text was sent to an ex – Harmony - enquiring as to how she was (without forewarning and in a rather vague fashion, she’d casually dipped back into my life 10 months ago). Well, a response to the text was received yesterday – in short note form – as had been invited. I said I’d share the outcome, so here it is – in bold, I have inserted the thoughts that struck me as I read it:

To Shane Hubert Wexford (bit formal)

Thank you for the good times (a sweet yet ominous beginning) and the lessons I have learned and am still learning from the bad times. (Woooooooooahhhhhhh)

We connected and became disconnected. (Fair point) When I came to see you last Easter I came to see how you are, but I also came to say Goodbye. (What! You could have MENTIONED THAT! You make me sound like some kind of… fucking hell!)

I wasn’t clear (too fucking right), I’m happy (good, but Jesus Christ!), I’m in love with a beautiful man (fair detail – there was something of a bi- history) and I need and want you not to contact me again (oh Lordy, this is weird – I do not like the language you are using here).

If I happen to see you again by accident (an accident it would certainly be) I bear no malice. I just want my life to be separate from your’s. (I wonder if you had some help penning this) Have a good one. (What?) I wish you well in all you do. (Oh, do not go saying things that will make it hard for me to dislike you)

Goodbye from

Harmony Rosetta Hansen (That formality again)

As ever, names have been changed to protect the profoundly guilty!

I turned to my mobile phone: Names – Erase – One by one – scrolled down to Harmony – select – confirm delete. Sorted. Dramatically. I then took a somewhat shaky ego-battered Shane to the shower. As quickly as I’d been irritated by the note, I did feel that the unpleasant clarity of it was a relief. That said, I also felt like seven thousand different kinds of wally-plonker-twit-tw**-arsehole for having thought that it was a good idea to have a bash at doing grown-up. It was a short note, and I felt it to be beautifully written – despite the language, the tone that I read, and the sense that it was horrible yet mature at the same time. Part of me wanted to think of her as a gobshite, but that would have been unfair – and I do mean that. On stepping out of the shower (which is located off the ground floor back porch), I dropped a dripping foot into Delia’s meaty food bowl. I swore, then laughed.

Have/Continue to have/Hope you had, a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I, the known quantity?

Here in Barton, I saw the most gorgeous bottom earlier. Quite the thing for waking a young man up as the afternoon seemed to be slipping away.

Have been less-than-productive with some irksome writing over the past week or so, that was further compounded by a late work-start today. The problem with the writing was diagnosed by self as resisting the called-for ‘return to the literature’ – I find it hard to respect a lot of academic work as I recognise much of it as the stuff that is referred to as ‘the bleedin’ obvious’ by many reasonable ‘lay people’. The term ‘lay people’ is horrible, however, I must not digress. Of course, to digress would be to imply that this post was going somewhere. Thus, where shall it go?... Ah yes, there was a point…

I saw Emma and the boy, Alex, again yesterday – from early evening until bed-time – Alex was quite the charming poppet who seemed to be strangely familiar with me. This was partly explained when Emma mentioned that she’d mentioned me several times previously to him – including times prior to she and I ‘getting together’. I found this to be odd, reassuring, spooky, confusing, endearing, and many many more contradictory adjectives. As it was, I simply murmured ‘Ah’ when this was explained. Made me wonder how much other people who are known to Emma have heard of me. Publicly, we remain ‘good friends’ – still, it seems a bit too soon to suddenly roll out 'the new bloke'. However, on the point of who has heard what of Shane Wexford, I was briefly dumbfounded when Emma shared her maternal grandmother’s reaction to the Emma-Ed split. The old lady had simply asked ‘Oh yes, and what’s your friend Shane got to do with this?’ The term ‘what the fuck’ suddenly sprang to mind. Her grandmother’s query was explained as being the result of Emma referring to me quite often in talk of work, and occasional socialising. I read this as an indicator of two things: (i) Emma doesn't do subtlety well, and (ii) there is likely to be no surprise at her family's end when news of us having got together – or news of us ‘getting together’ – breaks.

If you will excuse me, I have carrot cake to eat. Good day.