Monthly Archives: February 2012


My daughter and I could not wait to move into our new house. We had lived in a tiny two bedroom flat for over a year. It was a little cramped to say the least. Two grown people overfilled the space provided. We began to get on each others nerves and in each others way.
A friend at work let me know of a three bedroom semi-detached house that was coming up to rent. The house was literally across the parking lot from my existing home. We saw it, loved it, rented it. Our neighbour (the chap attached to our house via the semi part) was lovely. He was quiet.
One month after we moved in. He moved out. Another month and a bit went by with no new occupant next door. So quiet and peaceful. 
That changed three weeks ago.
We have new neighbours now. A young couple with a young boy. They seem quite nice. Always speak when they are in the garden. And my first dealings with them had to do with them parking in my spot. They were horrified that the estate agent had mis-informed them and moved their car. It has not been a problem since that first time.
But the noise?
Their son, whom I have dubbed “Thunderfoot” has what seems to be fifty pound weights in his little feet. He appears to be incapable of going up stairs or walking across the floor quietly. His parents also seem to suffer from this weight problem in their feet. Mother likes to listen to music while she cleans the house (at least I think that is what she is doing); a heavy beat thrums through my walls in the first part of the morning.
I know in my heart of hearts that they are probably not really that loud. I think we just got used to the un-natural quiet that exhuded from next door. So I haven’t complained…to them at any rate. I have a right old moan to my daughter and she returns the favour. I know that in time we both, my daughter and I, will get used to the new neighbours. And their noise.
I just wish that time would come already


English: Title of the tv-series LOST. Français...
English: Title of the tv-series LOST. Français : Lettres Lost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We have all lost something in our lives. Whether the thing lost is as mundane as a favourite ring or as vital as our will to live, we have all suffered the loss of something we needed.

Most people’s lives are filled with loss. As we shuffle through this mortal coil, we constantly misplace things. Some of these things are corporeal, like car keys, others are ethereal . I say ethereal  because they deal with things that are part of us. Things that are part of our very essence.

Like most folks I have lost my fair share of things, both corporeal and  ethereal. As people we lose: loved ones, prized possessions and parts of us. I have lost all these things. Some I miss. Others I have never spared a single thought on apart from the initial befuddlement at losing the item.

I am focusing on the ethereal things we lose.

I am pretty sure we all remember losing our innocence. It is generally a traumatic event, one that stays in our memory for years. The memory stays with us long after we’ve lost it. Like a sour after-taste with a slightly bitter edge to it. Some people can forget the trauma, but only in their concious mind. Subconsciously it lives on, dancing in our dreams and flitting through our day-dreams, like a noxious fairy.

Sometimes we lose our self-confidence. This can happen at the same time as the loss of innocence. These two things are not always as traumatic as each other, but both events change you. When you’ve lost both these “essences” you can still live your life. You just have to make allowances. You have to realize that the innocence can never be regained. The self confidence can with a lot of hard work and determination…and luck.

The other thing we can lose is our way. Our purpose in life.  In other words, our goal in life. We are all born with certain innate talents and skills that make us unique as a person. When we are young, it seems crystal clear to us that we should use these talents and skills to make our way forward in life. But life is a series of road-blocks and compromises. Sometimes in avoiding the road-blocks and enduring the compromises we get lost.

I can’t remember when I lost my way. I also can’t really remember when I lost confidence in my skill and talents. I do know that both occurred about the same time.

Years ago, when I still had an agent, I wound up losing him. At the time, it seemed the most devastating thing in the world. I felt that I had lost the will to live. I want to tell you friends and neighbours it was a close thing. I decided that living was the more important thing to do. I had a family and I wanted to be there for them.

My belief in myself, my self confidence, also went the way of my agent. For the first time in my life, I felt that the creative essence that made me who I was “had left the building.”

Now I am slowly finding my “lost” self confidence. I’m also discovering lost skills and talents that I thought were gone forever. All is not lost. It was just misplaced and now I am earnestly trying to find my way in life again.

So take heart, just because you’ve lost something doesn’t mean it is gone forever. You might just find it again. Unless, of course, it is the lost innocence thing. But if you find yours could you keep an eye out for mine as well.


Regions of the cerebral cortex associated with...

Pain changes our lives. It affects how we think, how we feel, and how we move. It is also a part of everyday life. Pain comes in different categories. There is emotional pain, mental pain and physical pain.

I do not like any of the categories.
My father used to say that pain was a necessary part of life. If you could feel pain you knew you were alive. I always responded the same way. “I don’t need pain to let me know I’m alive, thank you.” Yet pain can result in some of the most memorable experiences of our life.
I can remember with excruciating detail when I stepped on a “sixteen penny nail”…twice. Equally clear is the memory of breaking a bone in my hand. *it just dawned on me that both these injuries happened in the same year* I also remember “watching” an “eight penny nail” flip end-over-end until it reached my eye. These are just examples of physical pain, but, I can remember with crystal clarity other types of pain.

Emotional pain can be just as memorable, as can mental pain. Everyone can, I am sure, remember the pain experienced from a failed relationship. Each type of pain can consume our lives, if we let it. I can live with emotional pain. It’s physical pain that I detest.

Bottom line? Pain hurts. But more importantly, it impedes us. It slows us down. I am, at the moment, shuffling about like a ninety year old in search of a walking frame. It is frustrating and…well…painful. It is also to a degree, embarrassing.

When I go to the shop for my “bits and bobs” I know I look like a decrepit old fart. I keep waiting for a boy scout to offer me a helping hand as I cross the road.

More importantly, pain is intrusive. It has taken me three days to write this blog. Why? Because I wrenched my back and knee at work. Not only has this injury kept me off work for at least a week, but, it has kept me from pursuing my passions.

So I keep taking the medication and wait impatiently for the pain to subside enough for me to go about my life normally. So if, as my dad said, pain reminds us that we are alive?

I am full of life right now.

To the Pain
To the Pain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In this day and age of computers and on-line accounts we all live and die by our passwords. Each account, whether it is an email account or an on-line bank account, requires a password.
These passwords are the bane of my existence.
Every website (that’s spelt account) that requires these annoying things trots out the same guidance. “Must be a combination of alpha-numeric characters.”  A lot of sites also offer the service of telling us the strength of the password we have chosen.
How helpful.
These same sites also tell us that we should use a password that is easy for us to remember.
They must be joking.
I don’t know about you but I rarely, in everyday life anyway, have a wealth of “alpha-numeric” words that stay stored in my memory. And of course the simpler the password the less effective it is. I can, with a minimum of effort, remember simple combinations; CAT123 orDOG001 for instance. I don’t recommend these simple combinations. The sites will tell you they are not very strong. As I am sure they are much more knowledgeable about this sort of thing than I am; I believe them.
So this leaves us with the problem of devising ever more complex combinations.  Coming up with a twelve character combination that I can remember is nigh on impossible. Oh I can come up with an almost infinite number of these “strong” passwords.  But can I remember them?
In all likelihood  probably not.
Of course this leads to the problem of having to write the stupid things down. Now as we all know, every site in the world tells us not to do this. It weakens the strength of the password by making it possibly accessible to anyone who can read. 
I know quite a few people who have the same password for every account they use. I thought this was a marvellous idea until my daughter sagely pointed out how silly this was. If someone gets hold of this all encompassing password, they have access to everything. I also know a large number of folks who store their passwords on their computers. I also thought this fell into the realm of “good ideas” until my daughter pointed out, again, the fallacy of this kind of system.
So there we are. I have no answer to this irritating problem. I do know I feel slightly better after complaining about it. Now that I’ve done so, I will send this to my email account and then copy it to my blog.
Both of which, of course, I will need a password to access.

Valentine’s Day

I suppose I should say something about this somewhat dubious holiday – Valentine’s Day. What can I say? I don’t suppose that I am what you would call an expert on the art of romance and love.

Years ago it was a different matter.

I remember going out and picking wild flowers for my first wife. She found the gesture  romantic and was impressed that I’d gone to the effort of actually picking the flowers. The truth behind my motive was  simpler and more down to earth. We were very broke. I mean one step from destitute. Flowers were expensive even back then. Especially roses.

My first marriage never really got out of the “destitute” phase and when it ended, I think we both started to make more in the way of money. Odd.

My second marriage faired little better. My second wife was of the opinion that it was silly and sort of stupid to pick one day out of the year to show how much I loved her. After several years of this (to me) confusing attitude I began to agree. Sic transit wifey number 2.

I  have had  relationships with other girls and women over the years but I can’t really remember celebrating this holiday with anyone else.

So much for romance and love.

I do have one fond memory of this day though and it has nothing to do with romance.

When my brother and I were little, our father would come home every Valentine’s Day with three boxes of chocolate and three Valentine’s Day cards. This busy man, who ran his own building business and got up before the sun every morning, who never finished until after the sun had gone down, who did everything on the job that he expected his men to do,always took the time to get the chocolates and the cards for Mom and us.

Oh Mom’s box of chocolate was much bigger, but that didn’t matter because we would get to help her eat them anyway. The card for Momwas always funny, as was ours. Mom’s of course was romantically funny. I still don’t know how he found the time.

But the thing that makes this memory so special, so important, and so impressive was this: This busy man who took the time to do this for his wife and kids, did so on his own birthday.

So when I call my Dad later this evening for his ‘Happy Birthday’ call, I’ll remind him about how much this gesture meant to me.  A gesture that he unfailingly made every year on his own special day. Only stopping when we boys got too old for it.

So I may not be an expert on romance but if what my Dad did for his own family isn’t a great example of love. I don’t know what is.

Happy Birthday Dad


About two-thirty in the morning, after dozing on the couch, I went into the back garden to have a cigarette. Half-asleep, I opened the back door and stepped out, lighting my smoke. I was instantly jolted awake by the sight of snow drifts. I was standing in one that covered my back door step. There was a veritable blizzard outside and it had apparently been going on for some time.

I got so excited about the snow that it took me ages to drop off to sleep when I then went to bed.

Snow has the capacity to both magically transform me into a child again and to excite me beyond reason. No other type of weather has this power over me. In fact, the only thing that even comes close is the power of smell. I know that scientists have said that a scent can trigger the most amazing memories. Amazing enough that you feel as though you have travelled back through time. This “time travel” experience has happened to me a few times. I can count on the fingers of both hands the amount of times it has happened. Snow, however, always instantly affects me.

I remember vividly travelling back from Sacramento, California with my parents at the age of five.

*Coincidentally I also remember, equally as well, travelling out to California, aged four. I played in the foot-well of the passenger seat. With a bed-sheet as my tee-pee, I played Cowboys and Indians as we crossed the desert during the day. I played in the foot-well because of the oppressive heat. My mother who was driving our 58’ Chevy had to endure it.

On this momentous trip, we drove through a blinding snow storm in the mountains near Flagstaff, Arizona. The flying snow was so thick, it froze and then broke our wind-shield wipers and my father had to brush the snow off the wind-shield (while he drove) with his arm.  We finally our-drove the snow and arrived in Alamogordo, New Mexico in the late afternoon. Alamogordo is right at the edge of the White Sands Missile Range. It is in the desert. It has sand, cacti, sagebrush, mesquite and tumble-weeds.

White Sands, New Mexico. A little hard to see if it's snowed or not...
White Sands, New Mexico. A little hard to see if it’s snowed or not…

And on this memorable occasion, it also had snow.

As we all slept in our Rocket Lounge motel room, the snow had caught up with us. When the morning arrived my parents woke me up and told me to open the door and look outside. In the night the snow had transformed the desert into a world of white. Everything was covered in the stuff. Even the tumble-weeds were white. I was ecstatic. It made an everlasting impression on me, that forty-eight years later, is still fresh.

So this morning when I stepped out into the snow in my back garden I was transported. I “time-travelled” back to Alamogordo, New Mexico. I re-lived that excitement of seeing the snow covered desert and the memory was as fresh as the snow covered world outside my window and as crisp as the air surrounding it.

Some memories don't need a time travel machine to re-live them.
Some memories don’t need a time travel machine to re-live them.


Bill Compton (The Southern Vampire Mysteries)
Bill Compton (The Southern Vampire Mysteries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Vampires, we are told, are fictional creatures that suck the ‘life force’ out of us mere mortals. They are incredibly strong and can only be killed or hurt by sunlight, holy water, garlic, crucifixes and wooden stakes. These supernatural “un-dead” beings can either drain us dry and extinguish our ‘light’ or they can transform us into carbon copies of themselves.


Vampires are wildly popular in media at the moment. I personally think author Anne Rice is responsible for this upsurge in popularity. She really started it all with her Interview With  A Vampire. I think the less said about Stephanie Meyer‘s “non-vampire” series and it’s celluloid equivalent the better. In either case, the vampires are still considered to be fictional creatures. Whether you are talking about author Bram Stokers’ Count Dracula or True BloodsBill Compton, they are not real, but characters developed by pen and actor.


I believe though, that vampires do exist. Not in the supernatural realm but in every day life.  These ‘real-life’ vampires do not drain our blood. They do, however, drain our life-force. They also have to same power to extinguish our ‘light’ or to transform us into carbon copies of themselves.


These real-life vampires come in the guise of people with  ’Passive/Aggressive Personality Disorder.’


I firmly believe that Passive/Aggressive’s fit solidly in the vampire world. I’ll explain.


Anyone who has had a relationship with a Passive/Aggressive can, I am sure, attest to this. I had a relationship with a Passive/Aggressive for years. I still carry the scars. Scars that are mainly emotional, but scars none-the-less. Trust issues being the first and foremost. People who have had Passive/Aggressive’s as lovers, friends, partners, spouses, or family members can avow that they have the same affect on you as a  vampire.


They exhaust you by constantly keeping you off-balance. You will be: lied to, bullied, manipulated, isolated…well the list can go on and on. The eventual result of all this can be a kind of death. The death of your personality, what make you, you. It becomes lost amid the everyday relentless confusion and stress of dealing with a Passive/Aggressive. If it doesn’t “kill” you, it transforms you…into a Passive/Aggressive personality…a vampire. As effortlessly as osmosis, you will absorb the very personality traits that are killing you. And unless you escape, you will become the very thing that has been draining the very life out of you.


It is not entirely hopeless. Passive/Aggressive’s can be receive counselling. Unfortunately, it is a condition that is nigh-on impossible to cure. If you are in a relationship with one, at the very least, you might find out what has caused the Passive/Aggressive traits to develop, but that will offer you no real help.


I have no ‘ray-of-light’ message to deliver. I can only say that the internet has sites that offer help and support to people who find themselves dealing with Passive/Aggressive’s on a daily basis.


Google it. It may not be too late. There are forums that can help you ‘vent’ your frustrations, ask for support, or inform you as to just what the hell is going on. Give these sites a try. They could just save your “life”


Because God knows, holy water, crucifixes and garlic aren’t going to help you.


Vampire Killing Kit
Vampire Killing Kit (Photo credit: JoshBerglund19)




George Carlin used to do a routine about beards versus whiskers. When I was a teenager I found it hysterically funny. George’s position was that beards were un-American. After all Joseph Stalin had a beard.  Whiskers on the other hand were as American as apple pie. Gabby Hayes had whiskers.
Publicity photo of Gabby Hayes (left) and Roy ...
Publicity photo of Gabby Hayes (left) and Roy Rogers (right) from the early 1940s. Hayes also had his own children’s television program, The Gabby Hayes Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*side-note* I wonder if anyone remembers the actor George ‘Gabby’ Hayes? Comic “side-kick” to Roy Rogers and John Wayne (especially when Wayne was making his skid-row ‘oater’s’) He disappeared from the silver screen around the late 40’s early 50’s.

I have a beard and have had one off and on for years. The reason for having a beard has changed, but, I still grow one on a regular basis. Now I generally acquire it during the winter months. It helps to keep my chin warm and it gives me the illusion of feeling warmer during those long dark cold winter days.

When I was younger, every time I grew my beard, I felt that it made me look an odd mixture  of distinguished, debonair, older, and somewhat wiser. In those days my beard grew much darker. More black than the dark brown hair that adorned my head. It was also much easier to maintain.

Now that I’m older, it is a much different story altogether.

My beard now is multi-coloured. Grey, silver, white, a hint of red, and yes, black. I have been told that my beard now makes look like a badger. I’m afraid I have to agree. My ‘beard-of-many-colours’ is also much harder to maintain. The white, silver and grey hairs are rebels. They grow faster than the black hair and tend to behave like wild bramble bushes that stick out all over. If I skip one day of trimming, my beard starts to look remarkably like old Gabby Hayes’s whiskers. Of course that will never do.

Whiskers, you see, appear to have gone out of fashion. I do think that most women, however, would disagree. Most women don’t appear to like facial hair of any kind.  At any rate, I think that whiskers have gone out of fashion because I’ve not heard the term for years. I literally cannot remember the last time I heard anyone refer to facial hair as whiskers.

It’s a shame that referring to beards as whiskers has fallen by the wayside. Because whiskers always sounded  more kind and gentle than the stentorian image of the beard.

My daughter maintains, though, that my beard makes me look kinder and somewhat less fierce…nicer I suppose. I always reply that it just makes me look older now that I have such a prevalent amount of ‘lighter’ hair in it. It also make me look like a badger which I kind of like, despite making me worry about crossing roads and giving me a bit of a self-image problem.

But regardless of looking like a  kind old  badger, I re-grow my beard every winter. I value the warm chin and illusion of overall warmth it gives me. I could shave it off to lose a scant few years in my appearance, but, what good does it do.

I would much rather look older and feel warmer than look younger and feel like I’m freezing my butt off. And that is the main reason I know I’m physically older and to a degree mentally older.

I don’t care how I look as long as I’m comfortable.