Sunday 27 September 2020

Life Entirely

 Welcome to another sunny day in South Manchester. Let’s not mess about – let’s dive straight into sill question mode from Sunday Stealing.

1. Something someone told you about yourself that you never forgot

When I was a kid at junior school, roughly aged about ten years old, the teachers were advising parents about which senior school we should be going to. I was a Roman Catholic so this was the only such junior school in the area and, logically, the kids would almost certainly end up at a comprehensive school local to them. It seemed that this might happen to me but I was quite a clever chap and passed an exam called the “11 Plus” with flying colours. This opened up a chance for me to go to what was considered the best school in Walsall, the local grammar school. My parents were delighted and when they chatted to the headmaster of the junior school, with me sitting there looking humble, he actually said these words. 

“I don’t think that David has the ability to cope with the demands of the grammar school. I think it is a mistake to apply, if I can be quite frank about it.”

Thankfully, my dad disagreed and I applied.

Not only was I accepted, without having to take the entrance exam, I thrived in that school, leaving with 10 O-levels, 4 A-levels and a place at university.

So all I can say to that headmaster now is – you were a complete arse and I am delighted to have proved you wrong.

2. What are your 3 top pet peeves

Top of the pile is the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom who have been in government for the past ten years sadly. What have they achieved? They have decimated public services with their program of austerity, widening the gap between rich and poor to an almost insurmountable chasm; they are responsible for Brexit and the fact that we are now out of the European Union, a decision that I am still angry about; finally their handing of the pandemic is amongst the most incompetent in the entire world.

The pandemic itself is pissing me off too. This year will go down as a complete disaster and I feel like I have been locked in a cage.

The “fake news” fad that is now ubiquitous. Our leaders are telling absolute lies to us every single day and there are getting away with it. Chief amongst them is the Orange Goblin still squatting in the White House, but our own Clown is almost as bad. “A world beating test and trace system” is what Boris Johnson described the incompetent mess that we have in place now. 

I must not rant …

3. List five places you want to visit

Amywhere. As I said, I feel like a bird trapped in a cage at the moment. Here are plans we have once the Covid-19 chaos has passed.

A belated 50th birthday trip to Greece to celebrate Mrs PM’s birthday (cancelled from this year).

A trip to the south of Spain (cancelled from this year).

A trip to Italy with friends to jointly celebrate Mrs PM’s birthday plus the 60th birthday of another close friend (cancelled from this year).

Our next long haul trip will probably be to Malaysia (taking in Hong Kong).

I would really like to go back to Japan too. Hopefully we will get back there within a few years. 

4. Share something you struggle with

At the moment my only real struggle is having to work in a career that I am fed up with. I am good at what I do and you would think that this is a good thing to keep me going for my final few years. However, I struggle to whip up the enthusiasm to do it any more and the only thing that keeps me going are the people I work with, all of whom are really intelligent and funny people. 

5. Post words of wisdom that speak to you.

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.”

6. Something you always think “what if....?” about

What if I had accepted that job in London instead of Manchester?

7. Five blessings in your life.

I glad that I am a healthy chap even though age is beginning to creep into my bones.

I am very content with my house, Mrs PM and my family.

My mates, some of whom I have known for decades.

My laid back attitude to life. Sure, I can rant with he best of them, but deep down I am an easy-going bloke who tries to see the best in all bad situations, even if it means making fun of them.

The fact that I look about 15 years younger than I am – especially without the beard I have at the moment.

8. Something that you miss.

We no longer have any cats. Four years ago we had three of them but now they are all gone. The most recent, and last, was Poppy. She was 18 years old and died two weeks ago. She was a scaredy cat who used t run away from me all of the time but since I have been working from home, she bonded with me lay next to me in the morning when we opened the bedroom door to let her in in the morning. We noticed that she was drooling a lot and saw a little blood on her teeth, so we took her to the vet who told us that she had mouth cancer that had spread. He said she was in pain and had to be put to sleep immediately. We were so shocked that we sought a second and third opinion. They all said the same and told us that we could treat the pain she was in for maybe another two weeks but that she would be in agony. We had already watched Jasper slowly die for about two months and didn’t want Poppy to suffer like he had so with a heavy heart we had to do the deed. 

I miss her much more than I thought I would. 

We will have a little break but there will be cats in our house again. We are thinking about Christmas – another couple of kittens.

9. Post about your zodiac sign and whether or not it fits you.

I am a Libra and Mrs PM thinks that I am stereotypical of that star sign. She is a Leo and apparently Libra and Leo are the best combination when it comes to romance. I am very sceptical about it but I have explored this before. Here are my findings.

10. Think of a word. Search for it on Google images.  Write something inspired by the 11th image.

The word I picked is something else I miss – travel.

Here is the image:

The image shows an aircraft flying into the sunset and inspires bittersweet emotions. I love the image because I am very fond of sunsets and it reminds me of past trips abroad. Yet at the same time I feel deeply frustrated that I will have spent the whole of 2020 in the UK without crossing it’s borders. Bring on 2021 I say.

11. Write about an area of your life that you’d like to improve.

I have a tendency to procrastinate and for the past few years I have been attempting to defeat this annoying trait. And I think I might be succeeding. At the start of the lockdown, I vowed to complete a Japanese travelogue based on a trip I took with Mrs PM back in 2013. Yes – that is seven years ago – see what I mean about procrastination? Well the good news is that I know that I can defeat this bug in my psyche if I think about it – after all, I never ever procrastinate at work. And for this year at least, I made great progress. I finished the first draft of the travelogue yesterday – and I will review it and complete it by the end of 202 as promised. 

12. What made you laugh out loud today.

Nothing so far but this guy did yesterday. He is a British comedian called Romesh Ranganathan and I watched one of his shows on TV.

Here is an older example of his work:

13. What are your goals for the next 30 days.

Finish draft two of the Japanese travelogue, try to somehow celebrate my birthday within the constraints of the lockdown and possibly start a new writing project.

14. Your highs and lows for the month.

The lows were all to do with the pandemic. In Manchester we have had extra restrictions since the end of July but now with rising cases and the second wave, our Clown Prime Minister has announced more nationwide restrictions.

Are there any highs? I guess finishing draft one of the Japan travelogue is a high and also my favourite football team still being unbeaten.

15. Favourite movies that you never get tired of watching.

Most of the Marvel movies – especially the Avengers, Inglorious Basterds, The Matrix, Pulp Fiction, Star Trek movies, Aliens – too many to mention really.

16. Books you have read more than once.

I don’t tend to read books more than once because there are a lot of new ones out there just waiting to be read. The one I have read a couple of times is War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells because I first read it at school and had forgotten about it. 

17. Something about which you feel strongly.

Brexit is the worst mistake that the United Kingdom has made in my lifetime – and perhaps ever.

18. Five things that make you really happy.

Mrs PM, music, friends, football beer.

19. What are you excited about?

I’m excited about travelling once more when this cursed pandemic is finally over. I am also excited about the prospect of retiring. 

20. Three celebrity crushes

I don’t have crushes on celebrities but these ladies are the ones that leap to mind as being the most attractive: Gal Gadot, Morenna Baccarin and Lesley-Ann Brandt.

Sunday 20 September 2020



Welcome to another sunny Sunday in South Manchester, where the sky is blue and the temperature is perfect for a five mile walk in the local countryside. 

The football season is well under way and my team, Walsall, have started the season without defeat and ready to make a decent assault on the upper echelons of the table with the ultimate prize to gain promotion.

What else is there to do on a lovely Sunday? Answer some silly questions for Sunday Stealing

Let’s take the plunge.

1. A person I’m glad to have in my life.

I am not going to name just one person; instead I am going to shout out to all of my friends and family. Without them I would be incomplete and that would make the feel the opposite of glad.

2. Something I find comfort in.

I find comfort in anything that allows me to escape the daily grind. Music is a good thing to comfort me. I have a fairly eclectic taste including progressive rock, heavy metal, some pop music, classical music and there is always something to satisfy my mood or even to change it. Music is good for the soul.

3. My favourite part of the morning

Dawn. At this time of the year, on work days, I wake up at 6am and by 6:20 I am outside taking a reasonably fast paced walk around my local area. There are few people around and it is quite peaceful and now, in September, the sun rises as I walk allowing me to take some decent photographs of a Manchester sunrise. Like this one, taken earlier this week.

4. My favourite memory
There are far too many to single any one of them out. 
5. An accomplishment I’m proud of
I’m quite pleased that I have had the chance to visit some amazing countries that you would normally not consider as part of a holiday, like China and Russia. 
6. An opportunity I’m grateful for
As much as I am disillusioned with my career choice, I can honestly say that over the years I have been fortunate to be able to travel a lot thanks to my job. One day I will tell you what I do specifically – the day after I retire probably.
7. My favourite song (and why)
I don’t have an all time favourite song but I do have current favourites. Here are two of them - one ambient pop song, one symphonic metal song that hopefully illustrates my eclectic taste.

8. A future event I’m excited about.

The holiday I will be taking when all of this coronavirus nonsense is put to bed. Mrs PM and I had planned three holidays this year and have been nowhere. We will either be going to Spain, Italy or Greece – or all three.

9. My favourite area in my home.

My “man cave” as Mrs PM jokingly calls it. The room I am in now has a TV hooked up to a Playstation 4, a laptop and my music system. We have two sofas and we use it to entertain people (I trust you remember those heady days when we could invite people to our houses). Due to the lockdown we have converted our house into three pubs, figuratively speaking. The “man cave” is pub number two, called “The Warrior’s Arms” and is where we will sit and enjoy a beer while listening to music that we both like. It is so called because we have a replica terracotta warrior similar to those found in China near to the wonderful city of Xi’An.

Here he is:

10. Something beautiful I saw today.
The beautiful weather we have at the moment. The temperature is pleasant and the leaves are starting to turn as Autumn arrives. The sun shining on the trees and other foliage is very charming.
11. My guilty pleasure.
I don’t like the phrase “guilty pleasure”. If it makes you happy then why feel guilty about it?
I would say this film – but I don’t feel at all guilty.

12. Something I love about a family member
My two lads are both very funny guys – and as you can imagine, I am quite often the butt of their jokes. I don’t mind; I give as good as I get.
13. A compliment that made me feel good
I’ve had this compliment for most of my life. I look a lot younger than I am. Actually, maybe that is not quite true at the moment because I have a beard with some flecks of grey in it that makes me look more like my age. It is my lockdown beard and it will eventually come off so I can regain my youthful appearance.
14. The item I treasure the most.
I’m not really a religious person but I have a large leather-bound Bible that was passed down from my mum’s dad to me. My grandad was a very strict Roman Catholic and he bought it in 1950 as a brand new book. It is absolutely beautiful. It will be passed on eventually to one of my sons, probably the oldest one (as tradition dictates).
15. My favourite part about nature
I love the sky both during the day and at night. Whenever I am out and about I have my phone ready to capture some of the wonderful skies that present themselves to me, in particular sunrises and sunsets (like the photograph above). 
One time, in Greece, we rented a villa for a family holiday and it was a little inland on the island of Corfu. Because it was reasonably far away from the nearest town (a seaside resort) we could lie down on the sun loungers at night time and just watch the stars with little or no light pollution. 
It was wonderful.
16. A book I loved reading
Mrs PM and I recently watched the Jason Bourne movies starring Matt Damon. They are very good but nothing like the original books written by Robert Ludlum. So once more I am going to cheat and name three books rather than one: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. If you liked the movies, you will love the books, especially because the stories are completely different, particularly the two sequels.
I recommend them.

17. A freedom I’m grateful for
The freedom to openly criticize my government and write down on this blog what I really think about Boris Johnson, the head clown in a court of jesters.

18. My favourite part of the evening.
Dusk. As I said above, I love a good sunrise – but I also love a good sunset. Like this one taken a couple of years ago in Marbella, Spain.

19. One good thing that happened today.
Well I haven’t done an awful lot today so far so I will mention something good that happened yesterday. Mrs PM and I enjoyed a socially distanced Italian meal in one of our local restaurants. Very enjoyable.
20. How I show gratitude for my friends.
By just being there for them.

Sunday 6 September 2020

Personal Development

Welcome to sunny South Manchester on day 167 of the lockdown (or not depending on your viewpoint). We are still under additional restrictions in the city and it feels a bit like Groundhog Week, with everything repeating every single seven day period. 

At least the football season is starting.

Shall we answer some silly questions? I think so (courtesy of Sunday Stealing as usual). 

1. A person I like and why I like them

Is this a person I know or a famous person? I shall assume it is a person I know. 

I went to university with a great group of people and am still in touch with quite a few. One in particular, I shall call him Wally to protect the guilty, is a great lad. He was best man at my wedding and the reason is that he has a really dry sense of humour and is also one of the cleverest people I know. He and I have been friends for 38 years and, although he lives in London, we still stay in touch and meet up for a university reunion every year – except this year sadly. He is a funny guy and we share the same outlook on life. In fact, my very first trip abroad was with him to Amsterdam and the Oktoberfest in Munich where we got into some scrapes, including almost being indoctrinated by Scientologists. 

2. A famous person I’ve been compared to.

In terms of looks, I have been compared to The Proclaimers, a Scottish pop band from Scotland, Jerry Springer and Joe 90. It’s the blond hair and glasses you see. My hair is no longer blonde really – it has darkened over the years and there are flecks of grey on the sides – but that doesn’t stop people. 

On one occasion I was out with some guys from Mrs PM’s workplace and one of them, like me, has blond hair and glasses and a drunk guy wobbled up to us and shouted “It’s the Proclaimers! Give us a song lads!”

Here are The Proclaimers in case you are wondering with a picture of me beside them for comparison (it was taken a few years ago). 

I don’t have a Scottish accent so I don’t think I would fit into the band. Here they are performing.

3. Best thing that happened to me this week
Absolutely nothing of note has happened to me this week. It is Sunday and only the start of the week.
4. Weird things I do when I’m alone.
I sing very badly to songs in my music collection and if it is a very good rock song I may even stand up and play the air guitar.
I have conversations with Poppy, our one remaining cat. She thinks I am a nutcase.
I write garbage in the name of freewriting.
5. How I’d spend $10,000
That’s easy – I would travel to a place I haven’t been to before – that is assuming we are not still in the clutches of a virus.
6. My last night out in detail
It was Mrs PM’s birthday celebrations a couple of weeks ago. Mrs PM had planned three celebrations but because of the restrictions we were limited to just the two of us rather than friends and family. She had booked a table in a pub in Manchester city centre called The Refuge for pre-meal drinks but she had to reduce the numbers to just the two of us. It’s a very nice restaurant and bar in one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings.

After the Refuge we walked a short distance to a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant called Sapporo and, as is typical in Manchester, it chose that moment to absolutely pour down with rain. I had not brought an umbrella and got absolutely drenched, causing some amusement for our fellow socially distanced diners.

It was a very pleasant evening.
7. Something that makes me sad when I think about it.
The current state of politics in the United Kingdom. We have a clown for a Prime Minister, we have left the European Union and are in the process of utterly ruining what was a perfectly wonderful country. And the latest thing that the Clown has done is to appoint the homophobic misogynist former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, as a trade adviser. He was massively unpopular down under and now we have to suffer him too. I despair I really do. 
8. Something I’m currently worrying about
Apart from the pandemic? Well after the pandemic has done its best to destroy the economy, Brexit rears it’s ugly head again when the transition period ends at the end of the year. The stupid stubbornness of our Clown Prime Minister means that this deadline will not shift even though there is a pandemic and all the signs point to us crashing out without a deal, which will further destroy the economy and render us a bloody laughing stock.
How has it come to this?
9. Something I do without realizing.
Ranting. I am making a supreme effort to try to see the funny side of things instead of ranting about them but it is hard, dear reader, when there is nothing to laugh at. See my answers to (7) and (8).
10. A drunken story
On a university reunion in Barcelona last year, on the first night we had rather a lot of beers and when I got back to the hotel, I noticed a glass wall with a bar the other side and sitting next to the glass wall on the other side was a table full of women who were posing for a photograph. I walked up to the wall and tried to photobomb it. They found that amusing until I got Wally (see question 1) to take a photo of me next to the wall with the women photobombing my photograph. I tried gesticulating and they just thought I was a crazed lunatic. 
When I woke up next morning I looked at my phone and wondered why there was a photograph of me looking like an insane Joe 90 puppet next to a glass wall with the curtain drawn on the other side. 
Yes – that’s right. They had drawn a curtain so that they didn’t have to see the drunken fool on the other side. Wally reminded me of my antics and they rest of my mates simply laughed at my expense for the rest of the day.
I am 57 years old – not 18! You wouldn’t think that would you?
11. Something I regret
Having a photograph taken of me in a hotel in Barcelona next to a glass wall.
12. 5 things within touching distance.
A laptop, a mug full of steaming hot tea, a pile of CDs, a window, a hat.
13. Something I’ve lied about
I don’t tell lies because Mrs PM can spot them a mile off. She refers to my “lying voice” and “my lying face”. 
14. Lyrics that apply to my current mood
Because of this pandemic …
I believe I can see the future
'Cause I repeat the same routine
I think I used to have a purpose
But then again, that might have been a dream
This is from the song “Every Day is Exactly the Same” by Nine Inch Nails. Here it is in its full glory.

15. My longest relationship
That would be with Mrs PM of course.