Sunday 23 February 2020

Getting To Know You

The incessant rain in the UK has been quite annoying this past couple of weeks but when I looked out of the window this morning, I saw a clear blue sky with a couple of fluffy white clouds and the winter sunshine brightening up a crisp clod day.

So I went for a nice walk and have just arrived back feeling nicely refreshed and in the mood to write a quick blog post, answering some silly questions from Sunday Stealing just before England take on Ireland in the Six Nations Rugby Union.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. What is your favourite colour?

I would say blue but I am guessing that something more specific is required. I guess really when I analyse it, my favourite is a kind of bluey green (more on the blue side) – like teal.

2. If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would go to Hong Kong I think – subject to being allowed to with the risk of the Corona Virus. If I wasn’t allowed to go, I would probably choose the south coast of Spain.

3. Were you closer to your mother or to your father

My mum was a little overprotective when I was a child and sometimes this annoyed me.

My dad, on the other hand, was more like me, quite laid back and keen to do whatever he wanted so he gave me more opportunity to escape my mum’s leash.

For that reason I will say my father.

4. What is your favourite meal (savoury and dessert)

Choosing a favourite savoury meal is a difficult because I love a lot of dishes such as steak and chips, fish and chips, bangers and mash, lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese, most mild to medium hot Indian curries, most Chinese food etc.

It’s probably easier to tell you what I DON’T like – Thai food, I think.

Desserts? I don’t really eat them, but I am sometimes tempted by a Black Forest Gateau.

5. Can you wink with each eye?  (How about curl your tongue)

Yes. I can wink with both eyes and I can curl my tongue. I look a bit strange when I try to do all three at once though.

6. Beach or forest?

That’s a difficult one but I would probably say a beach, simply because I feel most relaxed when walking along the sand with the waves of a calm sea lapping against the shore.

7. City or farm?

Oh – definitely a city. There is so much to do.

Farms are pretty good too, I have to say.

I’m quite lucky in Manchester in that I can drive for about thirty minutes and be in the Cheshire countryside, taking a nice walk past and across farmland.

8. Would you rather be blind from birth or turn blind as a teenager?

Probably blind as a teenager because I would at least want to know what it was like to see human faces.

9. Would you rather always be overdressed or underdressed?

I feel more comfortable when underdressed. Occasionally, I have had to wear a penguin suit (not for a while now) and it doesn’t take long for the jacket, tie and cummabund to come off.

10. If you could pass alone one of your attributes to your children, which would it be?

I think I have already passed them on to be honest. They both share my intelligence, outlook on life and sense of humour.

11. What are you most insecure about?

Probably being alone.

If I analyse myself, I am probably more of an introvert than an extrovert (I can be both) and while I love the feeling of being on my own (as I am now) I don’t want it all the time and sometimes, when Mrs PM is away for whatever reason, I start to crave company.

12. What are you afraid people see when they look at you?

Nothing really. I’m a slightly overweight weirdo with mad hair and a skin thick enough to take most insults and jibes. I used to be very self-conscious about wearing glasses but now I am totally used to them. Besides, wearing spectacles is cool these days and I like that.

I don’t consider myself to be good looking either but I don't really care about that if I'm honest.

13. What is the saddest you’ve ever felt?

When my parents died. It still hurts.

14. Would you rather have your own private island, or your own private jet?

What an interesting question. Having both would be considered greedy I guess so if I have to choose one, it would be my own private jet so that I can travel anywhere I want to.

15. How do you think you will die?

I won’t. I plan to live forever.

Sunday 16 February 2020

Birthday Meme

We have been hit by another storm that has brought chaos, wind damage and floods to various parts of the UK and we chose this weekend to go for a little break, away with friends in Cheshire at a set of country lodges. Sadly we were stuck inside because of the weather but we had fun anyway.

Back now so I think I just have time to answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing.

It’s called “Birthday Meme” and I wonder whose birthday it actually is.

Have you ever

1. Broken a bone?

No. I was talking about this yesterday with one of my friends on our weekend away. He was knocked off a bike as a kid and broke his leg, wrist and arm. And when he was five he had a compound fracture of his arm too.

I have been lucky. I just hope fate isn’t waiting to deal me a blow now because I have written this.

2. Broken a window?

Yes – several times. I once threw a cricket ball through my parent’s bathroom window by accident but the most embarrassing was when I was about fifteen. Back then I used to do a paper round and then collect money from the same houses for those who couldn’t be bothered to pay at the newsagent. On Friday night, I arrived at a house and knocked on the glass door as they didn’t have a bell or door knocker. I could tell they were in because I could see shadows and hear the TV but they failed to answer the door. So I hit the door really hard with my knuckles – and punched a hole straight through the glass, which then cracked and fell from the window frame and shattered noisily on the floor.

I stood there frozen in terror – but they still hadn’t heard it.

So I just ran.

The next day, I was so ashamed that I was going to go back, collect the money and then maybe confess. When I got to the door, the owner was talking to his neighbour and as I approached he said “If I get my hands on the thugs that did this, I’ll bloody kill them.”

Forcing myself to smile, I said, “Hiya! I’ve come to collect the newspaper money.” He paid me as I waited and carried on moaning about what he was going to do to the culprit that had shattered his window.

As you can imagine, I didn’t confess.

3. Been on TV?

Only a couple of times as a member of the crowd watching a sporting event. The last time was when England were playing New Zealand in a 20-20 match as cricket. The batsman hit a six and the ball flew into the crowd. As I watched, I thought it would hit me so I did what any self-respecting idiot would do and spilled my beer down the front of my shirt. And the event was captured on TV by an alert camera team tracking the path of the ball as it headed towards me.

And no – the ball landed nowhere near to me.

4. Had a friend who shared the same birthday as you?

Yes. At school, one mate was exactly the same age as me. Also, my son’s girlfriend’s sister shares my birthday.

5. Locked your keys in the car?

Yes. I was still married to my ex-wife at the time and I had to call her and get her to leave school (she was a teacher) and drive to rescue me via our house to pick up the spare keys. She wasn’t very happy.

6. Accidentally sent a text or email to the wrong person?

Oh yes. And it was a work one too. The last few lines will tell you why I could have been in serious trouble.

“Yes – it is a problem and really we should tell the customer. But I think we can get away with it for now. We just need to be economical with the truth when we send the report.”

I got away with it, by sending the same message a further two times to the same customer but without the offending lines. I basically told them the truth and hoped that they would think I had gone mad sending them three identical emails and only read the last one. It worked – thank goodness.

7. Sat in the back of a police car?

Yes. My car broke down at a traffic light on a very busy road during the rush hour. A police van appeared and towed me across the road to wait for a breakdown truck but because I had never been towed, one of the policemen sat in my car while the other towed it. “I’ve never been in a police car before,” I said with a smile. “Make sure this is the only time,” he laughed.

8. Fallen asleep at work?

Yes. I flew to South Africa overnight (a ten hour flight with little or no sleep) and had to go to a meeting almost as soon as I arrived. The meeting lasted two hours and then I could go to the hotel – but sadly, it was so long and tedious that I quite literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was asleep for about ten minutes, according to one of my work colleagues. Thankfully, only he noticed.

9. Made a snow angel?

No. I hate snow. Why would I lie down in it?

10. Ridden in an ambulance

No – no neither as a patient or a friend.

11. Worst household chore

It’s a toss up between cleaning the toilet and ironing.

12 .Worst colour

Pink. I really do not like pink.

13. Worst pizza topping

I like most pizza toppings to be honest but I struggle with black olives.

14. Worst weather

A winter snowstorm.

15. Worst self-care job (e.g. dressing, washing, shaving, teeth, toe nails)

I don’t like having a wet shave. I usually use my shaver but if I get lazy and let my “beard” grow for a while, I have to wet shave – and I hate it.

16. Worst game

Golf is utterly tedious to watch. I’ve never played it.

17. Worst school subject

I was terrible at Geography. I didn’t mind the map-reading aspect of it, but everything else was utterly tedious. I had no interest in learning it so I simply didn’t try.

18. Worst animal

Do insects and spiders count as animals? If they do then any insect or spider. If not, then probably a skunk.

19. Worst season

Winter – by a long, long way. Come on Spring – let’s be having you.

20. Worst TV show

Any reality show at all, apart from The Apprentice (UK version not the US one that was run by the Orange Goblin in the White House).

Sunday 9 February 2020

Thought Provoking Questions - Part 2

This weekend the UK has been battered by a storm given the name Ciara – a nice name for something so bloody awful. As I look out of the window I see very strong winds and rampant rain that is so bad it has disrupted travel and resulted in sports events being called off.

I’m glad I’m inside in a nice warm and cosy house. And because it is Sunday, let’s answer a few questions from Sunday Stealing - some more thought provoking questions.

1. Is it more important to love or be loved?

I think both are important but probably loving is slightly more important in my view, simply because you will never truly know whether you are actually loved or not.

People say “I love you” all the time but do they really mean it? You will never actually know unless you are a mind reader, though I guess their behaviour towards you can sometimes give the game away. If you love somebody it is all in your hands, heart and mind and you know without a shadow of a doubt that the feelings you have are utterly genuine and authentic.

Loving somebody is an incredible feeling.

Actually, thinking about it, I would love to be able to read minds. Imagine how brilliant that would be. I could expose people like Boris Johnson when I knew their true motivations.

2. If you had the chance to go back in time and change one thing would you do it?

I’ve watched movies like “The Butterfly Effect” and decided that changing history would be a dangerous thing to do. Certainly in my life, if I could go back to rectify the mistakes I have made, it would affect my life as it is now and although there have been some ups and downs, I am in a very good place at the moment and I wouldn’t want to risk it.

Give me a time machine, though, and I would set the controls for the future rather than the past. That would be far more interesting.

3. If a doctor gave you five years to live, what would you try to accomplish?

I would try to write a novel, travel the entire world and then write about my experiences and then quite happily march towards my maker with my head held high and my hand held out ready to shake it with him or her and then move onto the next place, if such a place exists.

4. What is the difference between innocence and ignorance?

If you are innocent, you try to learn the things you don’t know.

If you are ignorant you choose to ignore things you don’t know and not to learn even though, deep down, you know you should – like Brexit and the chaos and carnage that will ensue because of it.

5. What is the simplest truth you can express in words?

I am alive and happy.

6. What gives your life meaning?

Mrs PM, my two boys, my one remaining cat, my brain, my music, travelling and writing garbage like the stuff you are reading at the moment.

7. Can there be happiness without sadness?  Pleasure without pain?  Peace without war?

No. The things that make you happy can be taken away and make you sad for example.

8. What’s the one thing you’d like others to remember about you at the end of your life?

I would like to be remembered as a funny, happy and slightly weird guy who was easy to talk to and there for people when required.

9. Is there such a thing as perfect?

Yes – me. Next.

I’m just kidding.

Nobody and nothing is perfect – certainly not me.

10. What do you love most about yourself?

I love the fact that I am quite a clever chap really and that I can make people laugh by being a little strange on occasion. Also, I love the fact that I have a thick skin and enjoy my own self-deprecation.

11. Is it more important to do what you love or to love what you are doing?

It is very important to love what you are doing and, sadly, I am in a position now where I no longer love my career of choice. I used to but after decades of doing battle with complex computer systems, I no longer get the buzz that I used to right at the start.

I think it is equally important to do what you love and I am looking for new directions – not in my career because that will be over in a couple of years when I finally retire. I will find something, of that I am certain.

12. What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now?

I know for a fact that I will have retired. I would like to have written a couple of books (nor necessarily publishing them), I would like to have travelled to more countries and be fluent in Spanish with a view to improving my French and German too.

13. What small act of kindness were you once shown that you will never forget?

There have been many. For example, my best mate as a kid who drove me around to arrange my dad’s funeral because my mum was in too bad a state to do anything. I was 18 and he patiently sat with me, talked to me and helped me to sort things out with absolutely no questions or complaints.

Mrs PM, of course, shows multiple acts of kindness – too many to mention.

14. To what degree have you controlled the course your life has taken?

I have always been in control. I am a very careful person who will not make rash decisions. I am now deep into planning the next chapter when I retire (in approximately five years depending on circumstances).

15. If you looked into the heart of your enemy, what do you think you would find that is different from what is in your own heart?

I don’t think I have any enemies. If I encounter a toxic person I will generally walk away from them rather than trying to psychoanalyse them and peer into their hearts.

Saturday 1 February 2020

Another Food Meme

There are things I want to rant about – I’m sure you can guess what they are. However, I am trying to be more positive this year and as such I will not be ranting. Instead I will answer a few questions from Sunday Stealing about a subject close to my heart – food.

Let’s dive in shall we?

1. How do you like your eggs?

I am quite happy to eat my eggs any way – apart from raw of course. It depends what kind of mood I am in and what I am having with them. With a full English breakfast, I usually go for fried eggs. I also like them poached or scrambled too but If I am feeling adventurous I will go for an omelette with ham, cheese, mushrooms or any combination of the three.

2. How do you take your coffee/tea:

I drink black coffee with no sugar and strong tea with just a dash of milk. 

3. Favourite breakfast foods:

On Monday to Friday (work days) I usually only have a banana with a cup of tea. However at the weekend I will go for something a little more elaborate like a good old English breakfast, with sausage, bacon, egg, beans and toast.

4. Peanut butter: smooth or crunchy?

I don’t usually eat peanut butter – it is just odd to me. When I have had it, though, I usually choose smooth.

5. What kind of dressing on your salad?

I love French dressing on my salad but most of them are fine if that’s unavailable.

6. Coke or Pepsi?

Am I allowed to say neither? I am not a fan of coke at all.

7. You feel like cooking. What do you make?

I rarely feel like cooking but I take my turn to keep Mrs PM sweet. On those rare occasions when I really feel like it, I will go for something like a stir fry.

8. You’re feeling lazy. What do you make?

When it comes to cooking I always feel lazy. The easiest thing for me to cook is some kind of pasta dish.

9. You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order?

This is a little bit of déjà vu (as I answered this last week). A cheesy meat feast would hit the spot.

10. Is there a food you refuse to eat?

Oh yes. I loathe rhubarb – it makes me physically ill when I taste it. Also, I have travelled quite a lot and in China I have been exposed to some really vile foods which I refused to eat such as: any kind of insect or pig’s brain. I’m also not keen on Thai food.

11. Favourite fruit & vegetable:

I would say that my favourite fruit is a nice crisp Granny Smith apple. I like most vegetables and I think I probably eat carrots the most.

12. Favourite junk food:

Fish and chips.

13. Favourite between meal snack:

Déjà vu again. I usually got for a piece of cheese or flame raisins. Occasionally I will have cheese and onion crisps or sour cream and onion Pringles.

14. Do you have any weird food habits:

Yes – I smear food into my hair just before eating it.

Of course, I don’t do that. I’m not sure what you mean by weird food habits. I guess some people might say that eating Marmite is weird so I shall say that.

15. You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on?

I would probably eat fruit.

16. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai?

As I said above, I don’t like Thai food. However, I love Indian food and I usually have a medium curry like a Rogan Josh or a Balti.

17. The perfect nightcap?

I don’t normally drink nightcaps but I guess if I were offered one it would probably be a small glass of red wine.