Monday, 26 March 2012

The Ultimate Geek

I have been busy with another one of my "little projects" over the past few days. Now these little projects I don't normally make "public" as I often wonder whether I may have crossed a line.

Not crossing a line, as in a certain conversation that took place on Sunday evening which involved brown and red sauce, which has left some people who may have thought themselves previously unshockable scarred for life. No this line I am talking about is the one from being an enthusiastic fan to a total geek. In my case, a sci-fi geek, more specifically with my life long interest (some would say obsession) with Doctor Who.

So what constitutes crossing this line - having all the DVD's? Being able to name every story and what year it was broadcast? Dressing up as the Doctor and going to conventions? Stumbling wild-eyed and panicky into a crowded room shouting "what year is this?" You decide. (NB: I have only done the first two of those but the other two sound like fun).

Now we all have an image of what we believe a sci-fi geek to be like. I always remember a very amusing piece of footage I once saw of William Shatner (Captain Kirk from Star Trek) taking questions from a group of fans at some convention or other. Faced with yet another ridiculous question, something along the lines of "In episode 27 what was the combination on your safe", Shatner launched into a tirade basically telling the audience to get a life. One line I particularly remember was something along the lines of "Look at you! You're nearly 30! Have you even ever kissed a girl?"

Anyway I don't like to think I would ever get to that stage. But I am rather obsessive and more than somewhat proud of my DVD collection, not just of Doctor Who, but all TV. As regular readers will recall, last week I had a good OCD'ing and organised them all out neatly by genre. And in the case of Doctor Who, it now has it's own shelving unit all to itself.

But, even with all the DVD's nearly out now, (only about 10 old stories left), my collection can never be complete. Why? Because 106 black and white episodes from the sixties no longer exist, the reasons for which I covered last December in an entry entitled "TV's dark days and futuristic musings".

So to cut a long story short, those 106 episodes exist only as audio recordings made by a whole earlier generation of geeks holding primitive tape recorders to the TV to tape the episode. And thank goodness they did, as if they hadn't those episodes would have gone forever.

Some whole stories such as the first Patrick Troughton story "Power Of The Daleks" are gone in their entirety, all 6 episodes. Others have one or more episodes missing from a story. But I have been able to enjoy Doctor Who in its entirety - as these audio recordings have been released on CD, along with linking narration from a companion of the time, to explain what's going on mainly in action sequences.

So stories such as "Power Of The Daleks" I have listened to, enjoyed and imagined in my mind.

Which leads me on to my project. Up on my Doctor Who shelf their are gaps - as there will be no DVD release of stories such as "Power Of The Daleks". In fact the whole Troughton era (the worst affected) looks very spartan. But - our geeky friends in the sci-fi community who live nowadays in the great wild place where dreams can come true - of course I refer to - "the internet".

So on to google and a search and I find what I am looking for - on many sites in facts. Arty fans who have created their own DVD's covers in the exact style of the BBC releases. So good you can print them out on photo paper, slot them into some DVD cases (5 for £1 from Wilco), and there I have my case. Into which I put the audio CD's from the missing stories, and put them up in their place on the shelf, giving me a full library of all 784 episodes to date.

Back in 2007 we began our request to watch/listen to all of Doctor Who in order, yes, it was a bit of a slog at times in those early days (for Claire anyway) to get through, but we are up to David Tennant now so almost caught up. And when Ollie gets into it in a few years time which is inevitable, the whole back catalogue is there waiting for him.

I'm in full on Doctor Who mode writing this - got Doctor Who confidential on in the background. Can never have enough!

Another fun filled day lined up tomorrow, Nash's with Jo Jo. Red or Brown, Jo - or both? lol - and then a lengthy ride on the bike I think to work off the monster!

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason x x

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The End Of The Affair

Cruelly taken away from me, without warning...

It's all over, our love shot down in its prime. And I never even got a chance to say goodbye.

Yes, as Rihanna sang "we found love in a hopeless place" - this place being Tesco in town. And in that same place, my feelings of hopelessness and despair grew this week as the slow dawning realisation hit me that I was never to see my beloved Eastmans again.


Gone but not forgotten


I first began to notice something was wrong when I turned up for our usual Wednesday morning rendezvous and she was not there. OK, I thought, she's never let me down before, perhaps there's a plausible explanation. Maybe the lorry that normally brings her was stuck in traffic or broke down. Let's not panic. I waited and waited to no avail but she did not come. All sorts of dark thoughts went through my mind...surely, she could not be giving her love to someone else. How could she even think of ever needing another lover after the sweet ministrations I had given her with my tongue, feeling her melt gently in my mouth, nibbling away at her in a way no man ever had before.

I barely slept a wink that night, but headed back to store the next day, surely there would be an explanation. But no - as I scoured the aisle for her, the hideous realisation dawned - her space on the shelf was no more, occupied instead by a new flavour of Walkers Sensations.

These Sensations, in their slinky sexy packaging were eyeing me up, trying to seduce me into tasting their sweet sweet flavours, but no, even with a body to die for, I could only think about my beloved Eastmans.

As I walked down the aisle, head bowed, my eye was caught by the Tesco Cheese Balls. Now these are identical to Eastmans (made in the same factory), it's just the price that's different, 90p as opposed to 69p. But I'm not willing to pay over 30% more for an identical experience. She'd have to give me some "extras" for that. So I asked her if I could open her packet at the other end - but she refused. So I left empty handed other than with a large box of tissues, which it seemed I'd be needing from now on, in more ways than one.

So what now, for this broken hearted romeo, will I ever taste the sweet cheesy honey again? There is someone else interested in me, but she's got expensive tastes, a foxy little minx called "M&S Cheese Tasters". But I don't know if I could ever keep up with her, she's so classy and she's always got so many sophisticated men swarming round her, what could she want with a small town DJ like me.

Perhaps I could go down to bargain bucket Lidl and pull myself a cheap alternative just to make me feel better, I know it's sordid and I know it's dirty, with your dirty e numbers and your cheap packaging and I'll regret it in the morning, but I'm on the rebound...and I'm vulnerable.

The type of cheap slapper I'll regret going home with.
If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The rest of my life

What a very profound title.

Really though - what to do with the rest of my life?

Tomorrow marks a significant development. You see after almost 5 years of having at least one child at home all day, every day, I make my first steps back to independence when my youngest (Jamie) begins spending every Friday with a childminder.

Why am I doing this when it is not like I have to go to work, you may ask? It's not like I've got anything better to do all day? Wrong.

As anyone (mostly mums) will tell you, when you have full time responsibility for young children in your care, your life is effectively put on hold for a few years. Yes, obviously you are not completely isolated, there are still nights out, still holidays, day trips, etc, but the simple fact of matter is - well in my case at least, I am no longer contracted to a company for 40 hours a week and can do what the hell I want the rest of the time. I am on constant call to my children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

And you do not have the freedom that you used to have to go off and do things at the drop of the hat. For example, right now, my wife is at work and will be home at 10pm. Both of my children are asleep in bed. I am effectively a prisoner in my own home. OK, that's an extreme way of putting it, but many of my friends will be on the way to the Kings Arms now for karaoke, I can't. I feel a bit hungry as I stayed so late playing with the boys in the garden I did not have any tea. But no nipping round to Wah-Hong for me.

And all those activities I used to do - and a lot of the socialising, well that's fallen by the wayside too. As Claire has a random shift pattern, I cannot commit to doing anything on the same day each week, as there is always the possibility she will be working. So classes, slimming world, aunt sally, all that sort of thing just isn't an option. And of course, I frequently have to also turn down weekend invitations, because those are the nights I work - so when someone says "hey we've having a barbecue Saturday, starts about 4, come round and bring the kids", it's always a case of "No sorry I can't, I've got a wedding disco to go to, have to leave at 5:30 to set up".

Eventually they stop asking. Sadly no-one ever has a barbecue at noon on a Tuesday afternoon, now those I could invariably attend. The hours I keep don't fit in with everyone else's.

Now this might sound like it's coming across as a moaning blog entry, or you may be thinking, yawn yawn, we've heard all this before, but really it isn't moaning.

Seriously - have you ever really heard me moan that much about any of this? But seriously, I don't want to live a boring life and little by little I am doing things to get my life back, many of which I have already started, but I have more plans in the pipeline.

I'm a happy, bubbly type of person, I try to see the good in all, and I like to let the simple things in life make me happy. So when I bounce into the playground of an afternoon, and Laura and Claire, two mums I'm friends with ask me why I'm so bouncy and bubbly, I just say "I'm happy". It's spring time, my favourite time of the year, I have a life full of wonderful family and amazing friends, what's to be miserable about? OK, things may not always go my way, and I like anyone else face difficult choices in my life, and problems to overcome but I face them all with a smile on my face, a cheeky grin, a few flirty near the knuckle remarks to help brighten others who may be having a darker day, well, that's how I see me, would you go along with that description?

And everything I have done in the past two years I have done to try and improve that happiness. I have rid myself of a lot of the people who were in my life who quite frankly were going nowhere and dragged me down. I can read most people like a book and have no desire to enter into relationships with people who are users, selfish, liars, wasters, I can spot them a mile off. Those that are around the fringes of my social circle, or that I encounter through work, I tolerate, but that is all. I have very carefully built up 3 or 4 very very close friendships with people that I have the utmost admiration for and would trust to the ends of the earth, and there are at least another 10x that amount of you out there that I am proud to call "friend", each and every one of whom I love you for who you are, and I would do anything for any one of you, any time.

I'm taking a long time to get around to the point of this blog aren't I? Well I've got my friends in place, I have my family happily sorted too. Whilst I have been building and developing these friendships, I have also been nurturing my boys, spending hours playing with them, teaching them, not just words and numbers but also how to be polite, how to treat other people, and all about the world around them. But I need time away from them too, both by myself and with Claire. With Claire it's weekends away (London), meals out (Denis), day trips like we went on Valentine's Day, and this trip to Paris if we ever get there. If you are married and you want to stay married you have got to find time to do these things or you might find in a few years when all the kids are safely off to school and you finally have time to think about things you look at your spouse one day and realise you don't know this person any more. And a year or two after that a little piece of paper with "decree absolute" comes through the post and you wonder where it all went wrong.

So friends - important, kids - important, spouse - important. Who have I left out. Oh yes...

Myself.

So - what about me? Well this is me time now, writing this blog, but I want more. So tomorrow when Jamie goes to his childminder for the first time will be the first day of the rest of my life. What am I going to do? Ermm...actually I haven't worked that out yet. But it certainly won't be sitting around the house all day on the computer, watching telly, or that other thing blokes do when they are on their own in the house. Well, that only takes 5 minutes anyway, so that still leave 4 hours 55 minutes.

One of the things I used to do when I had days free before I had children was get on to my bike and ride off round the villages, something so refreshing about cycling along round the rural roads around Launton, Poundon, Stratton Audley etc. Exercise and fresh air and an exhilirating air of freedom. Only problem - no bike. But that can easily be remedied.

What will I do on my other Fridays? I can go to Oxford, Milton Keynes, Banbury, wherever. On my own, or with a friend if anyone wants to come. I can go to a cafe or restaurant for lunch with a friend and talk for hours without the constant pressure of having a screaming toddler with me. I can be "Jason" again rather than just "Ollie and Jamie's Dad".

I'm looking after myself better, eating better, losing weight, and it's all helping with my feelings of positivity.

And I am going to find more things to do. I saw a sign in the bed shop window today advertising for members to join a golf society which meets once a month on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Now that's something I used to do but it was always on a Sunday - doesn't fit with my work or with looking after kids. But Wednesday - once a month, perfect. I am going to ring him up and get Claire to ensure she gets that day off every month. I am absolutely rubbish at golf, comically so, but it's just like the bike riding, it's a chance to get out into the country for a few hours, and that has got to be good.

A few images from my average round of golf.
Bad Golfer Looking in Weeds    

Two other long term issues to consider. Do Claire and I have another child? The jury is still out on that one, both of us do want to have a 3rd, but equally we are beginning to realise just what a commitment all this has been, and it has not always been easy for us. I'm not going to lie in my blog, it can put pressure on a marriage. Would tying us up for another few years put too much pressure on us, or rock what at the moment, despite Ollie's issues, is a stable, functioning, family unit. Well, no need to make any rash decisions at the moment, I guess we will see what the next few months bring. It may be that both Claire and I, as things get easier (she is doing stuff too, like going to the gym) might start finding we are enjoying our increasing freedom a little too much, and decide not to, but then even if we do, we have done our duty to the continuation of the species - two people have produced two replacements.

And finally - what about work? I would gladly go on running karaoke in the White Hart until I drop if they'll have me, but I am not sure I can still see me doing discos in ten years time. Equally there is no way I will ever be going back to a 9-5 in an office. I'm smart, motivated, and like doing things for myself, so I can only ever see me either running my own business or working very closely with someone else with complete freedom in a very small business i.e. one with 3 or 4 employees at most.

But there's plenty of time to think about that and when the time's right (at the very least when all children are full time at school so September 2014 at the earliest) I know that I'll find or make an opportunity and seize it with both hands.

I know what I want from my life and I am going to take it. Nothing and nobody is going to stand in my way.

Hope you enjoyed reading this my friends, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Jason xx

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

OCD Heaven

I'm feeling really excited today.

I've thought of an exciting new way to organise my DVD collection. Having it alphabetically in order across several shelves is all well and good, but not the most exciting method.

Now I've hit on a new idea - have it arranged by genre, and then alphabetically.

So I can have a sci-fi shelf, a drama shelf, a comedy shelf. I haven't worked out all the categories yet but that's a lot of the beauty of it. I've got at least 3 hours child and wife free tonight where I can indulge myself to my heart's content.

This is going to be fun!

Watched the first episode of yet another new show to come on to JTV last week, this one is called "Skins". It's about a group of late teens at a sixth form college. Very similar concept to the In-Betweeners but with the emphasis much more on the drama rather than the comedy - though there were lots of amusing moments in it. My latest OCD fest was in part inspired by this episode, as there is a teenage girl in it who seems on the borderline of being committed and one of her issues is OCD. They were at a house party and whilst all the other kids were getting drunk, stoned and laid around the house, she was in the kitchen putting all the food packets into neat patterns in the cupboard. My favourite bit was where she lined up a row of oranges along a shelf ensuring that there was exactly the same gap between each one.

On a more serious note, Ollie has been assessed by SENCO (special needs group) at school today, and whilst OCD was not mentioned, they have picked up that he has got some speech problems - which might sound surprising to those of you who know him. It appears that he has issues communicating and having proper conversations with teachers and other children. We have to go into the school for a morning with the child psychologist during April.

I have been worried for some time that Ollie may have some sort of problem, because he does not interact properly with other children. We have walked past the school playground and seen him over by the Wendy House talking to himself, whilst the other children are all playing together. I am hoping that he can get the help he needs, this is all new to me, but I'm not unaware that there are other parents who have experienced similar issues and that there is a support group in Bicester for such parents so I am not alone.

I am glad the school is being supportive at that at such a young age we can get to whatever is causing these problems, and I refer mainly to the behavioural problems we have experienced. It seems I can get through to him better than most people, but then I've spent practically every day with him since birth, what I need him to be able to do is cope with life when he is away from me, as he is now daily at school.

Meanwhile, Jamie is to start spending one day a week with a childminder. Someone I have known for 20 years and trust implicitly. This is to give him a chance to get used to life outside home in preparation for him starting at the Courtyard in the autumn. And it's also for my benefit also, I am not ashamed at all to admit that after all these years, I need to start getting my life back as well, and I need a day a week when I have the freedom to do what I want to do., whether that be lunch with a friend, popping into Oxford, maybe even something sporting (don't all laugh) - because before I had the kids I was very active - squash, tennis, golf, gym, you name it.

I've earned some time off.

I've said before how much I love the Spring - but I really do. I feel so happy, bubbly, full of love for my world and the people in it. The sun's shining, flowers blooming, what's there not to be happy about it? There was a lot of love being spread around this weekend, lots of happy times in certain friends lives, even a few old wounds between people were healed this weekend. Whatever's going on in any of your lives, life's too short for bad things. Love, and laughter, the weekend was full of it. If you've got those two things, you can cope with anything.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason x x

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Choices

What an awesome night I just had.

Let's wind back a few days. I've had a really nice week this week. Now as you all know, I am a big racing fan, and racing does not come any bigger than the Cheltenham Festival, the great annual festival where all the greatest horses come to race for the greatest prizes.

And there's gambling - a lot of it.

All I will say on that front is that this year went rather well.

Bestie thinks I am pissed, well bestie, grammatically this blog entry seems reasonably up to scratch so far.

Let me tell you about some friends of mine.

Bestie's lost her way. I don't need to tell you the back story, if you are around us, you know. She's got life changing decisions ahead of her. I can't tell her which way to jump, we all must make our own choices. I seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to sensing what's a good choice and what's a bad choice for people but I can't tell her what to do.

Alex and Jo are engaged. I'm overjoyed. The longer I have know Jo the more I have come to love her as the amazing and supportive friend she is. She's been through hell with her bipolar condition and a shit of an ex who made her life a misery, wrecked her friendships and took her to the absolute bottom of the pit. Which was where I helped her drag herself out of when no-one else gave a shit.

We had a fantastic night out - lovely meal in Denis. We did not in the end make it to the White Hart due to it being extremely packed. The 2nd time we tried to get in there was a queue! Can't see that happening tomorrow for Paddyoke with me, but we hope for a busy fun night of course.

Alex and Jo. Alex is just so right for her. I can see it. I can always see these things. It's so good when it's for the positive. Sadly the reverse has so often applied in my life when I have seen women throw themselves at completely inappropriate people. How does one bite ones tongue when a friend says she is thinking of starting a relationship with someone she fancies, yet I can see he's all wrong for her?

Answer - in the old days, I said nothing. But having watched too many women end up holding the baby, beaten up, coping with drugs, alcohol and god knows what, you know, these days I say no! He is not right for you. Do they listen? Probably not.

This last week has been such a happy week, not just for Alex and Jo (who most definitely are right for each other) but other friends too.

What am I saying here - well I guess I will give you an honest answer.

I can read people like a book - just like I can read a racing market. I can look at a person's face and immediately know "he's a wrong 'un". Call it a sixth sense. Drives me to the point of frustration when people can't see this and then end up badly hurt.

I know when something is right and I know when something is wrong. And I have invariably been right pretty much 100% of the time. If I don't tell people what they want to hear and they go against my advice - well - what can I do?

I remember practically begging a girlfriend many years ago not to go with a certain man she was besotted with. I really liked her and wanted to go out with her myself, but he was younger, fitter, in the army, a "catch". I was a sensitive soul, office worker, chubby, unfit, my personality not enough to compensate for his rippling muscles and macho persona, even though I was the one that made her laugh.

A year later, with a baby in tow, a face covered in bruises she came back to look for me, but my ship had sailed by then.

Guess I have never understood quite how people make the choices they do.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason x x

Friday, 16 March 2012

Past Lives

Here we are at the end of another week.

Strange how a week or a month can go by, and nothing really seems that different, we don't look any different, and may do the same things. World turns, we go to bed, get up and go about our daily lives. Looking imperceptibly different to how we did a day, week, or even month ago.

Yet, change, surely we must do, none of us were here 100 years ago, there were all different people living in Bicester then, living completely different lives.

As I walk through the churchyard each morning taking Ollie to school I glance at the gravestones and wonder about the people that they were. A man who died in 1870, in middle age. Just a name on a stone. Could anyone even tell me who he was, and what he did? No mobile phones, TV, or any mod cons like we have. What was his life like I wonder?

You see they are not just names on stones, they were people who loved, lost, felt intense emotions from the most soaring heights of love to the desperate lows of rejection, jealousy and despair. How I wish I could really take a Tardis back in time and see what his life was like.

You see all you ever really learn about history at school, on TV, when you visit an historic site, is about battles, Kings and Queens, inventions, political developments.

I have never been interested much in all of that, much as I am not interested very much today in what's going on in the wider world, trouble in the middle east, or wherever. No I want to know what really happened in these people's lives. When the Doctor goes back in the Tardis, he meets Queen Victoria, Shakespeare, Dickens, you name it.

I'm really not interested in them. Their lives have been well documented. I want to know how the ordinary people lived. I want to go back and see who was living in my house (19th century built) back in the 1890s. I want to see how they lived their lives. I can't get that from books and I can't get that from TV. Look at Lark Rise To Candleford - was that really an accurate representation? Where everyone was wearing immaculate period dress, and the sun always shone? Not real to me - just an idyllic portrait of how we would imagine life used to be.

Lark Rise To Candleford - just a little too perfect in my view.


What did real people do in the evenings? Was it the close knit family unit they we always are led to believe or were the people subject to all the same emotions and traumas of us. Did my friends under the stones in the churchyard all feel the passions that I have felt? Did they suffer all those bittersweet emotions of lost love, unrequited love, the pain of losing a loved one. Was it like today? I have heard it said that because infant mortality was so high that when a child died at a very young age, they just shrugged it off and had another one. I cannot personally believe that. Whether you lived in 2012 or in 1862 I cannot believe that pain could have been any the less, just because it's something that happened all the time.

I so wish I could go back and see.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Monday, 12 March 2012

Changing lives

Been ruminating the last few days on all the different life choices we make and how they affect our lives - for better or worse.

At Nielsen we used to categorise people into demographic groups by age, which mean I fall in to the 35-44 year old age range. As do the vast majority of my friends.

With people generally doing things later these days, it's by no means unusual for men to enter this age group still living the single life, but find their lives completely changed by the time they reach the other end.

I always wanted to settle down and have children, but at the same time I was so busy having a good time, out drinking all the time that it was easy to put it off. At 30, it was "yeah, I'll do it when I'm 35", but by 35, it was, I want to do it, but is my partner the right person?

No - she wasn't, our relationship was foundering and ended when I was 36. Now this was a crucial time for me, a lot of life changes going on, and I was becoming increasingly aware that the gene pool was shrinking. What do I mean by that? Well during my months of being single, I received a lot of female attention from women around the age I was. However in every single case, these women came with baggage. Some were divorced, some had never been married, but in each and every case, all of these women had already had their children. And whilst that meant they were good fun to spend time with, and all that goes along with it, in the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to have a family of my own. And even if these women were willing to have more children, I didn't want to take on any extended families. So I knew there was no future with any of those women. They enjoyed the fact that I had my own place and was completely free to see them whenever they wanted - but quite honestly, they would have been better off seeking someone in a similar position to themselves, i.e. a man who had already had his children and wasn't looking for any more.

Yes, the gene pool was shrinking there were not many women left of my age still baggage-free so I began to go out with younger women. Because I wanted a woman who did not already have children that I could make my own. I don't mean I was looking for a virgin bride, let's face it, what's the chances of that around here, just someone with whom I could start with a clean slate. And then I met Claire and all fell into place. I was 36, she was 21, within a year we had our first baby, and it was all good.

So now, as I move towards the other end of my 35-44 demographic group, life is very different. I am glad to be in the position I am, because I never want to be one of those people back on their own, with children, because I can't imagine I would be a very attractive proposition to the opposite sex if I was. I realise that some people are left in this situation through no fault of their own e.g. bereavement, an irretrievably broken marriage and so on and so forth, but I must imagine it's very hard back out there in the market, when you've got so many responsibilities i.e. the children who must always come first.

Unless there are no children - at least none they have responsibility for, because the other partner has them, because they have screwed up so badly. I see a lot of people, both men and women out there, in their mid 40s and beyond, we all know the ones who drink round Bicester pubs night after night and go home with whoever they can get, you all know the ones I am talking about. That's a very sad state of affairs to get into.

Several years ago, an ex lover of mine who I won't name, once said to me "my relationship with my partner will always be more important to me than my relationship with my children". I just could not believe it when she said that. Gobsmacked is the best way I can describe it. But then, that's just me, maybe, I guess other people have different values to me.

Like I said, I do feel for people who are left on their own with kiddies, particularly women, many of whom get unfairly judged by people who just assume that if you are a single mother you are a benefits scrounger. Of course those people do exist, but it's wrong of people to automatically make that judgement without listening to the back story. It's also very difficult to find much to offer a new partner. The younger blokes, like I was at 35 who want a family aren't going to be interested, and even if you find someone, it's very hard to make time for them. One thing that single people find it hard to understand I think is that we as parents cannot just drop everything on a whim and go out for the day, go out on the piss, or anything really without careful planning. Makes us sound dead boring at times I imagine. Can't imagine that's particularly attractive to the opposite sex.

What would I do if I was left on my own suddenly, at the age I am, with my two boys? Quite frankly, and I'll know you'll never believe it, but I don't think I would bother having another relationship. No-one could replace Claire in my eyes, how we are together, and the problems with finding time to see someone when I've got the commitment of looking after the kids every night would be bound to put a strain on things. I would always be worried I think that she might get bored and go off with a single bloke who could show her a better time.

So I think it would be the celibate life for me. But thankfully - I don't have to worry, it's all good here. I know we can't control what life throws at us, and life is never certain, but things couldn't have turned out any better for me than they did.

I get so frustrated at times, because I feel so trapped by my situation over really silly things like not having the freedom to nip out to the shops even for 5 minutes to get a packet of stuffing for the Sunday lunch because one of the children is asleep. Or being dead hungry at 8pm, mere yards from a range of fast food outlets but cannot go to get anything because the children are in bed. Or not being able to pop into Oxford for the afternoon because I have to pick up Ollie from school - but, crucially that is the life I have chosen! And all those little frustrations add up to nothing in the negative column where there so many positives from living in a loving caring family. I've given up virtually everything I used to do for before I had my family - the golf, going to the races, aunt sally, boozing, the gym, you name it. And you know what, it's all worth it. Because if I hadn't bothered having kids or screwed it up and lost them, and found myself in my mid 40s heading down to G's as a last chance saloon in a desperate bid to grab hold of one of the many other Bicester shipwrecks for a night of self-validation, I think I would rather be dead.

And you know what - all those things I have given up? I can get them back. The kiddies won't be little forever, and all the time I've invested in them, well it will come to fruition (hopefully). I already have a little mathematical genius on my hands so all those hours spent with books, teaching, counting when he was little were not wasted. And offspring #2 is showing lots of promise too.

So - I've talked about lots of scenarios, types of people, ways lives can go. The conclusion? Well we all have to what's right for us - and what I am doing is right for me.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason x x

Friday, 9 March 2012

Seven Deadly Sins

Well, last night I had the strangest dream...

I found myself in a courtroom, up on a charge. It must have been something to do with writing that letter to the school last night preaching about "Christian Values" triggered off something in my head. The prosecutor, a stern elderly looking gentleman, glowered at me and said:

"Mr Ayres, you come before us, accused of trying to make out to the public you are some sort of Saint. We hereby today try you on the subject of the seven deadly sins. If we find that you guilt of the majority of these sins, you shall be cast into the burning fiery pit for an eternity".



Pretty worrying stuff, this. So on we went. I was allowed to give my defence first, before the prosecution summing up, and then a verdict on each sin. So off we went.

LUST

Me: Well, I'm a red-blooded male, and I enjoy a bit of nookie as much as the next man, I mean it's not a crime is it? If there was no sex there would be no children. It's what makes the world go round. Yes, OK, I admit my libido is probably on the high side, but hey, the missus isn't complaining so what's the problem?

Prosecutor: You are obsessed with sex! Isn't it true you once said to your doctor you thought you might be addicted to sex? It's all you ever think about, and I know what you get up to on your own when the wife's out. And that secret drawer in the bedroom? Yes I know about that too. Now would you like me to quote some examples of some of your other past exploits to the court or will you accept a guilty verdict without any further revelations?

Me: I'll accept.

VERDICT: GUILTY. (0-1)

GLUTTONY

Me: Well, yes, I like my food, but there is no harm in that. Yes, I guess I am a little overweight, but that's expected of a man approaching middle age. And I do try and make an effort - I drink diet coke, and have skimmed milk in my tea, so really can't see an issue here.

Prosecutor: Please can the court view this video of Jason's "midnight feast" that he had last night before he went to bed. As you can see, at least six slices of ham, eaten directly from the fridge, with a pork pie chaser. You will also note the four empty crisp packets on the table and empty Strongbow cans scattered about. Plus I also present exhibit a) a photograph of what Jason calls "The Monster" which he plans to eat for lunch in Nash's today. I also have some video footage of an alleged incident involving some unpasteurised cheese, I must warn you it is not for the faint-hearted. Plus I can also relate the notorious "Double Little Chef" incident of 2002, which will leave you in no doubt.

VERDICT: GUILTY. (0-2)

So - 2-0 down already, not looking good, remember four strikes and I'm out. I shall whizz through what happened with the remainder.

GREED

Having failed on the first two I did not fancy my chances here and indeed, after the prosecution had shown footage of my cutting an extra large slice of cake for myself, and deliberately buing a pack of 2 steaks from Tesco with one twice as big as the other, I was doomed. My protestations that men need more calories a day than women so by rights I should have the bigger one fell on deaf ears.

VERDICT: GUILTY. (0-3)

So 3-0 down I would have to win all four remaining sins to survive. I was worried about the next one too.

SLOTH

Played a blinder here. I thought I was all but hung drawn and quartered when the prosecution came up with footage of me having a nice afternoon kip up in my room while the kids were running Claire ragged downstairs. However, I managed to convince that all the other stuff I do running the house, business, looking after the kids etc was enough to cancel this out, so by the skin of my teeth the verdict was:

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY. (1-3)


ANGER

At last I could relax a little. My gentle, easy going persona, and desire to talk things through with people rather than get angry or seek revenge got me through this one nicely. Things were looking up.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY. (2-3)


ENVY

Again things went my way. I am pretty happy with my lot in life, and never feel jealous if someone gets a new car, or earns lots of money or any of that! I'm content with what I have.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY. (3-3)

So all resting on the last one, which is...

PRIDE


A tricky one this - I argued that pride in some cases is justified - it depends what it is. If you are proud of yourself because you've made lots of money and you are showing off your new Ferrari then I would argue that is bad. However, if you are proud of your two beautiful children then why should that be a sin? After much deliberation, the verdict was:

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY. (4-3)

So - I had turned it around, however the judge had some final words to impart.

"Well Mr Ayres, you have escaped punishment today - just. However I suggest you moderate your behaviour in certain areas in the future, in particular I expect to see significant improvement on the gluttony front. As a recommendation, I suggest you think about losing some weight. And as for the other business, remember that the lord sees everything!!! That should dampen you down a bit! Failing that, cold showers are quite effective.

You may go...

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Scales Of Injustice

No particular subject today, so may not be one of my most exciting blog entries, but I shall do my best to entertain as best I can.

As the last few days, in my life at least, there's been plenty of the mundane. About the most exciting thing to happen in the last 48 hours was the purchase of a brand new mop system from Wilkinsons!

That's my life - but elsewhere, my heart goes out to certain friends who are going through difficult times right now. I am sure many of them would swap many of their current traumas for something so mundane as choosing a new mop.

People can't always help the situations they get into - no-one should apportion blame, we've all got feelings, and so have those around us. We can't help who we fall in love with or what the consequences might be, we also can't control how other people will behave or react around us. For every one of us in a good and stable place right now, there may be another facing huge life changing decisions - which may or may not be out of their control.

Spare a thought for anyone in a dark place, don't judge them, don't pity them, just be there for them. You might be where they are yourself one day. As life invariably goes through phases - we can be involved in the most dramatic Eastenders style plotlines at times, whilst at other times our lives may be less exciting to the casual observer than watching paint dry. Life's all for the living, I know but it can all get too much at times. Privy as I am, through my agony uncle persona (remember Jay's dilemnas) to the innermost thoughts of those around me that need me, I know that things are very hard for certain people right now. For those people, rest assured I'm with you and here is a big {{{{{{{{{{{HUG}}}}}}}} for you.

But - what about the new mop, I hear you cry? Let us hear about your exciting new domestic appliance!

Well, for years I have been going around with a hideous old mop (and bucket) that I can never get clean - I think it has probably got it's own ecosystem by now. Living as I do with my two little cherubs, all sorts gets chucked over the floors, which in this house are a mixture of laminate, other wood, tile and stone. Now I have tried all manner of cleaning methods, but nothing works to my satisfaction. The only way to really get the laminate clean is to get down on hands and knees and scrub with this wood cleaner stuff but that leaves the floors all sticky. Another brand I tried turned the living room floor into a skating rink which was mildly entertaining at the time watching Ollie fall over all the time though probably somewhat cruel.

Anyway this new thing cost me £20 from Wilkinsons and it's an all singing, all dancing power mop system!

Flash Powermop Starter Kit

It has a motor which sprays cleaning liquid ahead of it on to the floor and you just mop it up and then throw away the disposable pads. No bucket, no water, simple, easy and effective. I'm dead chuffed!

In other news, Claire just bought a new pair of bathroom scales. The other ones we had were bloody useless, the dial wobbled all over the place and I could be anywhere between 16 stone and 18 stone depending on how I positioned my feet. Now I have been making an effort to lose weight recently, but hadn't really had much of a clue as to how much so needed to get an accurate read.

These scales were quite expensive, a good make so confident as to their accuracy. Now I wanted an accurate reading, so I got on them naked. Sorry girls, no piccies. This was unlike Alex who went to his first weight watchers meeting laden down with as much ballast as he could muster, in order to get a good result on week 2!

So, with no cheating allowed, I stepped on and the end result was 17 stone 6 lb and 5/8. A bit more than I was expecting to be honest. I then decided to have a wee and have another go, and this brought me down to 17 stone 4 lb and 7/8, which I found quite surprising that my wee should be that heavy. Though to be fair it was quite a long wee as I hadn't been since breakfast. I then had a shower and went on again - and got exactly the same result. I thought it might be lower once I had scrubbed off all the dirt and sweat, though to be fair, there doesn't tend to be a lot unless I've been indulging in any strenuous physical activity. Which I haven't, today.

I then thought about having a poo, but I didn't really fancy one, and I've finished my book on the London Underground, so with no reading material, I decided to call it a day for today and write this instead.

Finally, my dear friends, as you know I am very amenable to suggestions and have to say that my discovery of Hustle, 3 episodes in (via Lynda) has been a major triumph. Now it's my turn, now you all know my sense of humour, and if there's one thing I recommend that you do this year is please, please make the effort to get into Peep Show. I have mentioned this several times before but have been ignored, so I'll give it a bigger push this time. Last night had me in tears of laughter, it really is becoming my favourite sitcom of all time & Claire agrees. I can't really describe it, (there's some info from Wikipedia below) so here's a couple of clips, only about a minute long each as a taster. At the very least check these out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p9o2qTJw4Q&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9ooYMH192E&feature=endscreen&NR=1

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Peep Show:


"Peep Show is a British sitcom starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. The television programme is written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, with additional material by Mitchell and Webb themselves, amongst others. It has been broadcast on Channel 4 since 2003. The show's seventh series (broadcast late 2010) makes it the longest-running sitcom in Channel 4 history.[1] On 17 December 2010 it was confirmed that the show had been renewed for both an 8th and 9th series, but that they would not be aired until at least mid-2012 due to the writers being busy with other projects.[2]Stylistically, the show uses point of view shots with the thoughts of main characters Mark and Jeremy audible as voiceovers.
Peep Show follows the lives of two men in their thirties, Mark Corrigan (Mitchell), employed as a loan manager, and Jeremy Usborne (Webb), an unemployed musician. The pair met at the fictional Dartmouth University, and now share a flat in CroydonSouth London. Mark is initially a loan manager at the fictional JLB Credit, later becoming a waiter. He is financially secure, but awkward and socially inept, with a pessimistic and critical attitude. Jeremy, having split up with his girlfriend Big Suze prior to the first episode, now lives in Mark's spare room. He usually has a much more optimistic and energetic outlook on the world than Mark, yet his self-proclaimed talent as a musician is yet to be recognised, and he is not as popular or attractive as he would like to think himself, although he is more successful with the opposite sex than Mark.[3]"



Give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.


Jason x x

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It's the small things...but the sun still shines...

They say it's the small things that count. And I think they are right.

Take relationships. Large lavish gestures are all well and good, we all like to be wined and dined, presented with lovely gifts, send the wife a bunch of flowers and all those "big ticket" things that relationships are about - or do we?

It's the small things that count, the kind word here and there, little thoughtful things, that might seem tiny, like remembering which cup you like, or bringing you a drink or buying you your favourite chocolate bar just as you fancied it. A gift costing 50p can mean more than one costing £50 if it comes from the heart.

What other small things can your loved one do for you. Well when you are sitting on the toilet having stunk out the bathroom after a heavy night and you realise with horror there's no toilet paper, well, if you're comfortable enough with your partner to call them and ask them to brave the stinky atmos to bring you a roll, and they are willing to do it - well if that's not devotion above and beyond the call of duty, I don't know what is.

Unfortunately it is also the small things that annoy! The piece of lego placed in the precise place to cause maximum pain when you stand on it. The cereal bowl not rinsed out so the cereal has now dried hard it has to be chipped off! etc etc. And that's just at home.

Now I don't normally go down the Victor Meldrew route but two things are annoying the hell out of me today. The first is Costa Coffee. Now I know some people think this place is the holy grail of coffee shops but I struggle like hell with it. Quite simply they do not sell anything that tastes anything like as good as what I can make at home, or the amazingly gorgeous coffee sold over at Nash's at half the price. There's this huge range of options, yet I cannot find one that I like. The closest I can find is Cappucino, but even then, well this morning I had a bad experience.

Took a take out round to Lynda's. When I opened the lid I was horrified, it was basically froth, the actual coffee started at more than half-way down the cup, which also bearing in mind the cup narrows to its base was an absolute disgrace - I would estimate about 30% of the cup was actually coffee. At £2.40 a pop or whatever I am not impressed. Even Lynda, who is Costa's greatest fan conceded it was not up to scratch.

I'm also not impressed with the food in there either, had a bacon roll the day we met Jen but there wasn't a lot to it, unlike "The monster" as I call the sausage and bacon bap in Nash's.

So sorry bestie, we are going to have to agree to differ in our opinions on this one, even though we agree on nearly everything else. Must be the exception that proves the rule, eh? Just for you I will continue to tolerate Costa, but I reckon you should overcome your fears and brave Nash's with me one day. It's only fair!

What's the other thing irking me today. My stupid bastard of a phone. It seems to have taken on a mind of its own. the most annoying thing is, it keeps stopping sending external communication without me realising. What I mean is that I can receive texts and I can receive calls. However when I send texts they don't actually get sent even though it appears that they have gone. I only realise this when I attempt to make a call, the phone looks like it's making a call, but nothing actually happens. It's only then I realise! I have to then switch the phone off and back on again and then suddenly friends get 3 texts from me all at the same time that make no sense whatsoever as they relate to things that happened a day or two ago.

And the signal right now is absolute crap, every time anyone rings me at home I can hardly hear them - I have decided I am going to give out my home number to the "circle of trust", and tell them to phone me on that because I might as well be listening to people underwater for all I can make out and then it makes me look bloody lazy or stupid or senile when I have to ask a question and then they say "I just told you that". Useless chunk of shit and Orange can f**k off for all the help they've offered, i.e. none.

Not only that but it's being downright rebellious as well, like a Pokemon that disobeys. I try and ring Jo, it decides to ring Anne. Then Anne's phone decides to start ringing mine all by itself. What's that all about? Bollocks to it, I can't be bothered any more.

There, that's better, glad I got that off my chest.

In other news, surprised Jo on her first day at work yesterday at Sue Ryder, she was almost finished by the time I got there. Fortunately Alex was on standby with the drinks at the ready, after her strenuous day at the coalface. Sadly Anneliese's birthday party did not take place, the little mite was in a very poorly place when I got round there, and I felt very sorry for her on her birthday and all. Even worse she was so unwell I didn't get any cake, so I was suffering too. Bet you're all feeling dead sorry for me now, aren't you?

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Just before I go I thought we'd have a little game of spot the DJ. Here are 3 well known Bicester DJ's. Can you work out which one is which?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Jay's Dilemnas

A number of people have suggested to me recently that I would make a good agony uncle.

Now over the years, indeed I have been a confidante to more than a few troubled souls and continue to be so to this day. Mostly women. Now when I was younger I was told many times that I was a "good listener". However I never took this that seriously as it usually went hand in hand with various other stock phrases that women use such as "I really value you as a friend", that in fact are just nice ways of saying "I don't want to shag you".

But over the years, I have been there for many people in their hour of need and people do genuinely seem to believe that I can help them. What I do that's different to other people, well I have a few ideas.

Firstly I try to avoid using cliches that everyone uses that don't mean anything, e.g. "don't worry" when clearly there is everything to worry about, "it will be alright" - er, no, it won't. Or even worse "You know where I am if you need me" from people who mysteriously have something better to do as soon as you attempt to take up the offer.

I also try not to tell people what to do. I don't say "leave her", "keep the baby" or whatever the issue is. Instead I normally try to present a range of possible options and the possible consequences and let them try and work out the best course of action from that.

So maybe I should try a little trial of being an agony uncle. If you've got a problem, then come on here and share it via a comment on this link. Remember to click anonymous when you post though. As if you were to start a message along the lines of "Hi, I'm a man in his early 40s and lately I have developed this obsession with trying on my wife's underwear while she is down the shops...etc" and then accidentally sign it M.Fulford of Bicester then people might work out who you are.

Either that or email me at jason.ayres@btinternet.com

Now amazingly, my status on the subject today has already garnered a couple of responses and I present them here, with my replies.

Dear Jay,


I'm a happily married woman in her early 40s with two grown up children. I love my husband but he works away a lot. The other day I was cooking an evening meal for myself as I was home alone and the doorbell rang. It was the gas man, a new one that I had not seen before, and a real hottie. He reminded me a bit of a young Colin Firth. Anyway, I asked him if he would like a cup of tea, and we chatted. Well I don't know how it happened but one thing led to another and we ended up ripping each other's clothes off and making love right there on the kitchen floor.


Anyway, just as I was recovering from the throes of passion, laying on the floor next to the cooker, I noticed that the oven bulb had gone. I took it out, and went down to Wilkinsons for a replacement. However, it seemd they don't do the one that I need. My husband in due home on Friday. Jay, please can you help?


Worried of Bicester

Dear Worried,

I know I normally don't like to say "don't worry" but in this case, you really needn't. Tesco in Sheep Street sells the exact bulb you need, so your husband need never know.


Dear Jay,


I am a contract gardener in his mid 20s and my work keeps me pretty busy. The other day I was sent to do some work at a large country house just outside Bicester. It was quite a warm day for the time of year and the work I was doing was rather hot and sweaty so I took my shirt off, revealing my body, which is not dissimilar to that of Captain Jack from Torchwood. Anyway, the lady of the house called me up to the house to offer me some afternoon tea, and as soon as I had made my way through the French windows she pounced on me. Well things got pretty hot and steamy. I was just about to part the curtains when there was roar of an engine and a very smart Mercedes pulled up onto the gravel drive. "It's my husband" exclaimed my lady friend. "If he catches you here, he'll kill you!" Run, quick out through the back kitchens. So I did as she instructed and ran for it. Unfortunately I wasn't sure exactly where I was going and when I got to the kitchens I took a wrong turn. Instead of the back door I found myself in a large walk in pantry, and what did I see? Right in front of me was a six pack of Roast Beef monster munch. Now I did not have time to ask the lady of the house where they came from, they don't sell them anywhere in Bicester and it has been tormenting my soul ever since.


"Tormented" of Bicester.

Dear Tormented.

Do not worry yourself any further. Six packs of Roast Beef Monster Munch are available in Sainsbury's in Kidlington, retailing at £1.49.



Well that's it for today, keep those problems coming in and remember "Don't worry".

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jay

Friday, 2 March 2012

Spring

The calendars flip over into March and thoughts of Spring are upon us.

Daffodils - and Sunday lunch. Can't be bad.


Now everyone has their own ideas of when Spring starts. Some will stick rigidly to the official calendar dates which state that it starts around 21st March, and continues on to the summer solstice. I have never been that happy with that definition myself. I think if you were to conduct a straw poll of the man in the street on say, June 16th and ask him what season it was, the vast majority would say summer, even though technically it is Spring.

Others will say "Spring's in the air" on the first warm day or when they see the first daffodils in bloom. Me, well I think the easiest way is to divide the calendar into neat 3 months chunks. So Spring to me is March, April and May. So on my theory it is now Spring.

There is a beautiful song about Spring which is my song for today, it's by Saint Etienne, it's 20 years old but I listen to it all the time, once again it deals with all those heartbreaking emotions of love you know me so well for, and a link is presented here. However, this is not the best version of the song, instead if you have Spotify, I recommend the link I will post to my wall immediately after I have posted this blog, which is better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKNAhbzQg_k

Like the new formed buds on the flowers, I'm bursting to talk about Spring. It is, and always will be my favourite season of the year. For me, it represents new hope, new beginnings, a world born anew with fresh possibilities. The wonder of nature and pro-creation - flowers bursting with pollen, birds, bees and all of nature waking up from the long winter slumber. Not long after freezing snow, bare branches, a dead world, bursts forth this amazing wonderful display of nature.

I notice it so much more now that I am living life as I do, rather than the office based life I used to have. The effects of Spring wear off on me too. I feel optimistic, happy, just at the sight of butterfly, or a young couple in the first flushes of love walking along hand in hand.

I may be 42 but that does not mean I'm not a romantic at heart, and I'm every bit the romantic I ever was, in fact, still feel the stirring of all that teenage sap, romantic notions, fantasies as much as I ever did. Nothing wrong with that. Just because I am 42 doesn't mean I have to be dull and middle aged. In fact give me a couple of hours up there fluttering about with the butterflies and I am sure I would have a whale of a time! Though I'd need to body swap back pretty quick. Although it may be an awfully fun life up there with the birds and the bees, undoubtedly it's a short one!

Having fun - as Buble described it.


Do people notice these things? So easy to have our lives taken over by work, material possessions, reading the paper, watching the telly. There's so much love and passion locked up inside every one of us, we can all be like those butterflies if we want. Sadly, sometimes I feel there is so little of it in the world.

Don't get wrapped up in boring things, if you're single, go out, you might find your butterfly waiting for you. And if you're married, in a long term relationship, or whatever, don't forget that person sitting next to you once was the most amazing and wonderful thing that ever happened to you. Remember that first night you spent with them? That was your Spring time, the day love blossomed between you. Re-kindle that passion and share the joy that sharing lives can bring.

I don't know what other people are like but my memories are a treasure trove of special moments. Does everyone remember them all? I remember every girl I every slept with - every one was special in some way. Not for me the casual lifestyle - it has to mean something or it is nothing. And then there all those I kissed, danced with, talked to, laughed with.

One day Spring will come, the daffodils will bloom, and I will no longer be here. Gone, scattered to the winds, my life over. I will live on through the memories of those that loved me, but even so, one day all of them will also be gone. The waves will crash endlessly on the shore, the butterflies will still flutter but I will be a mere footnote in history. No-one will ever recall the passions I once felt.

Live and love to the full people, for tomorrow we shall be gone.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx