Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blogging and me

Why do I blog? A good question and one which is now somewhat timely and demanding an answer. Read on…………..

I started this blog because I have always wanted to write; it helps to fulfil a creative instinct within me. As the blog description states, it is meant to be a blog about anything I think might be interesting, amusing or even a bit controversial. It is not, and was never meant to be an on line diary of my activities, although many incidents and events in my life inevitably provide the inspiration for many of the postings.

I have made some changes and deletions because some misunderstandings have occurred amongst some of my readers, and it is not in my nature to deliberately cause offence either knowingly or unwittingly. Should anyone who reads, or has read this blog think that any of my comments have been specifically aimed at them, they are almost certainly wrong. Much of what I write is "tongue in cheek" and should not be taken too seriously. I try to write in an amusing entertaining way and I have had many extremely good reviews, even to the extent as to comment (more than once) that I should write a book. Indeed, it has even come to my attention that someone has actually made a hard copy of this blog and shared it with others for their delectation. Perhaps the next stage might be Hodder & Stoughton, you never know.

Joking aside, it ought to be reasonably clear where I am being serious and where I am not. "The Justice of God" is deadly serious and I mean every word and would not change a single letter. Where I am being flippant, that is more for amusement, though that might be lost on some. Those who know me well, will know that in real life I am well meaning, honest, hard working, friendly, humorous, and generally try and do my best in whatever I undertake. I am also human, and like everyone else, have my faults. This blog is no exception. I appreciate comments, so if you feel I have touched a nerve or want to bring something to my attention, click on “comments” and the floor is yours. I will publish them so long as they are not obscene or offensive.

Moving swiftly on, I want to say a little more about what makes me blog. A lot of it is frustration with the unfairness and stupidity we find all around us. Yes, there is much that is good and commendable in the world, but there is an awful lot which is not. I worry particularly about the way that religion distorts people’s view of life and their relations with others – particularly those who do not share their faith. Unless as a race, humanity can free itself from the mental straight jacket of religion, then the future for our children may well be too terrible to contemplate.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are, nevertheless, those hysterically funny moments which should be written about to bring a laugh or a smile. There are the amazing experiences and the places and people you encounter on your travels. There is a whole universe of interesting and exciting things to write about, so I have no excuse for dull or boring prose.

Another function of blog writing is catharsis. Sometimes there are things you just have got to get out of your system, and you don’t mind who knows about it. Anyone can read this blog, and it serves its purpose with every “hit”. Please keep reading, and I’ll keep blogging.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ooh Nurse

I have got a new hobby. It's going to the doctors while trying to convince myself that I am not actually dying, though inwardly I suspect I am.

It all started like this:

A few years ago I took part in a 46 mile walk around part of Cambridgeshire. When I finished the walk - though by this time "walk" was the wrong word, it was more staggering towards oblivion; I noticed one of my toes was sticking through a hole, which had developed in one of my socks. When I took my boot off, there was no hole - it just felt like it.

The imaginary hole never went away, in fact the odd feeling of semi - numbness tingling yet still feeling started to spread, first to one toe and then them all, taking over both my feet, and now working up my legs. I saw a doctor some years ago and mentioned this to him, to be told it was probably a symptom of the sciatica, a complaint that pre-dated the walk.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I decided enough was enough, so I went to see the doctor. He was very good, very understanding, checked this and that and everything seemed to be okay. Nevertheless, bothered by the "spreading" syndrome (who wouldn't be?) he sent me for a blood test.

"Are you at all queasy?" asked the nurse before sticking the very long needle into my vein.
"No, not at all" I replied, "you're not going to kill me are you?" I replied with a laugh but not quite a thigh slap.
"Well, I don't aim to kill you" she replied while I mused that hopefully her aim was good.

In went the needle as I watched it sink into my vein feeling a sharp stab and a kind of ache. She then sucked up a number of blood samples to test for every disease known to man, telling me that one of the samples would have to go to Addenbrookes. Wow - Addenbrookes, must be serious after all. I counted it a real honour that a sample of my humble lowly blood should be deemed worthy of the attentions of such a learned and esteemed establishment. It was clear that I was definitely more than just a "take an aspirin and lie down for a while" type of patient.

I awaited the results. The days rolled by. Suddenly, amid a whole load of junk mail lying on my doormat I espied a HAND-WRITTEN white envelope addressed to me!

Instinctively I knew the situation was serious. Only junk mailers send me type written letters. I cautiously opened the envelope. My worst fears were realized - I was called back for yet another blood test. "Can you tell me why?" I asked the receptionist as I made the appointment, conscious of the fact that really only the doctor (who of course would not be available right at that very moment) should answer such questions. She repeated this to me, as you would expect while taking a quick peak at my notes and informing me that one of my readings was outside the normal limit, and they just wanted to do a second check to make sure.

That was it. I now knew it was serious. Thoughts started going through my head. Should I check the policies? Should I start putting my affairs in order? Should I start eating Mars Bars again?

This morning, I turned up for blood test number two. I waited in the waiting room where people were waiting playing a waiting game. My waiting game was "Sudoku" on my Nintendo DS, the ideal friend in a waiting room while waiting.

"Stephen McAdam" the nurse called out, and I rapidly saved my game and made like a sick man into the nurse's lair. Actually, she was very nice, as was the other one last time.

She did a blood pressure test. It was high.

"Are you on blood pressure tablets?" she asked, before trying twice more, finishing with an old fashioned sphygnamometer before confirming that, yes, there was no mistake, my blood pressure really is high.

"But I go to the Gym three times a week" I protested.

"Don't worry, just coming here can put your blood pressure up" she replied, and I commented that it might have been something to do with the Sudoku…………
She plunged another needle into my hapless vein and the dark red blood rapidly flowed forth.

My next appointment is next Friday.

The jury is out…………

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bad Shopping

I was out on the town the other day and something close to miraculous happened. I walked past a book shop without going in. Now what’s miraculous about that? I hear you ask. Well, it’s like this: I am a terminal book addict. I’ve joined book clubs, left them and later rejoined again - just to get the special 500 top sellers for a penny each and you only have to buy 30 books a week for the next twenty years. Yeah, I’m exaggerating – but you get the drift. So why did I walk past the book shop, when I had plenty of browsing time on my hands? The reason is that the penny has finally dropped that I cannot possibly read all the books my habit has already amassed on my creaking bookshelves. I’ve got loads of wonderful books, but I probably won’t live long enough to read them all. I DID buy a book on Amazon a couple of weeks ago (for a fraction of the shop cost), but I can easily justify that one. Its “The Lore of the Land”, a reference book on English folklore by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson. I had two reasons for buying it. One was to do with finding out interesting facts about places before I visit them. Why visit them? – to take photographs which might be sold to a publisher. The other reason was because it has, on page 65, a photograph of “Jeremiah’s Tea House” at Little Abington. I took this photograph and it was my very first photo sale to a publisher, so I thought it would be nice to have the book. The rest, I’m not bothered about, but there’s always got to be a first.

I have become a very bad shopper. I am bad because I hardly buy anything. Because of this, unless it’s very expensive, I can afford to buy pretty much anything I see in the shops I might desire. However, I am constantly having an internal battle as to whether I can really justify spending the money. I don’t just say to myself “that’s too expensive” because I pass up practically all the cheap things as well. I think a lot of it is that I have really become a bit bored with the consumerist pressure to constantly go out and spend money on things I don’t really need, and NEED is really the operative word. I love photography. I do not own the very latest equipment, but it does the job. Yes, I will eventually buy a new camera one day, but as long as my equipment gives me the results I need, then I am a lost cause as far as the camera shops are concerned. I am bored with all the magazines available. I hardly ever buy a magazine at all these days because most of the ones I’ve got I rarely find the time to sit down and read anyway. And as for photography magazines, my knowledge of the subject is so vast they could hardly teach me anything! You see a photomag screaming out about how to do outdoor photography. Well, here’s how you do it: You pick up your camera, step outside your front door and start taking photos. Easy, Eh??

Another thing – you see all these special offers – SAVE this much, no! – SAVE that much. No!! The way to save is not to buy the bloody whatever in the first place. If you are really honest with yourself and analysed all the stuff you buy over a month, let’s say, I bet a lot of the stuff, for many people, wasn’t really necessary. No, the best way to save money is not to spend it. That way, when you DO treat yourself and buy something, it becomes that bit more special and you begin to appreciate things that bit more. I suppose, what I am driving at here is my disdain for this consumer led society we live in, where someone is trying to entice you to buy something at every turn. Buy this, buy that – no – stop – don’t buy anything.

Oh woe – this is not good though. If everyone was like me, all the shops would go out of business. All the breweries would have to close (I drink very little, just the odd binge once in a blue moon). This is the contradictory world we live in. We all want to earn money. To get money we work. The money is generated through sales – of various sorts. If nothing is sold, nothing happens. So, in order for society to thrive, we all need to spend, spend, spend and then there will be lots of jobs for everyone. So, if you are unemployed and reading this, I apologise. It’s probably people like me who are to blame for putting you out of work. Not only am I a bad shopper, I’m also a bad credit card user. You see the credit card people don’t want me to pay off all my debt so they can charge me interest. I don’t play their game – I pay it all off every month, I don’t pay interest. But what I DO do is build up my loyalty points and every now again, I can go out and treat myself – or get the groceries, for free. How bad is that?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Car Stuff

Today I went to the garage to have a repair done to my car. The passenger’s side front door needed a new central locking lock thingy. It didn’t cost me anything as its still under guarantee. When you blipped it to unlock the doors there was a rather alarming graunching sound, although apart from that everything worked fine. Our car is a Kia. We had a Subaru Turbo Forester a few months ago, but when I discovered it was going to cost me a thousand pounds just to get a new exhaust, not including the new clutch it needed - amongst other things, it was clear it had to go. The Kia Carens was the much more affordable replacement.

Now, if you know anything about cars, you will know that in terms of performance the Subaru wins hands down. I could hold my own quite comfortably with BMW drivers who, as everyone knows believe they have the right to overtake everything on the road and sit glued to your tail flashing their lights until you get out the way. Now I couldn’t care less.

The Kia is much more a pipe and slippers car. However, as I possess neither a pipe or slippers, this is irrelevant. Actually, contrary to what I’ve read about the Kia, it does actually have quite a turn of accelaration when I floor it, although I’m past caring about racing other motorists. I don’t care if a Trabant overtakes me. I don’t wear a baseball hat, but I do play loud pounding music - when my wife isn’t with me. However, I do have a bit of an issue with the TV advert for Kia. “Designed to change your mind” says the slogan. Designed to change your mind about what? Designed to change your mind from thinking Kias are underpowered, unreliable cheap and nasty crap cars? Is that what its trying to change your mind about? Probably. Until I was pushed to getting one, that was pretty much my view of Kia cars. I am of course a complete snob in most things. Now I am a Kia snob. They must be brilliant cars otherwise my very discerning wife and I wouldn’t own one.

Time for bed - G’night, Sleep tight, D’nay let the doggies bite.