Monday, 30 July 2012

Finding it hard to let go

This one of those rarest of entries from my parenting blog - one on a parenting issue. Yes, in-between trips to Paris, various hit and miss attempts at writing "humorous" blogs and all the other random ramblings are the two people who've come into my life within the last five years to whom I am totally dedicated - my sons. The vast majority of what I do on a day to day basis is based around them. When most of you see me, on a Sunday night, that's with my other "entertainer" hat on - if I may be allowed to refer to what I offer as entertainment without breaching the Trades Description Act.

Anyway, we find ourselves in somewhat of a quandary at present. With Jamie past his second birthday, for the first time in almost five years we find ourselves neither with, nor expecting a baby in the house. Now the jury is still out on whether we ought or not to extend the family. At the moment we are not sure - already my direct parenting responsibilities - i.e. until Jamie turns 18 will take me past my 58th birthday so any more will see me in my sixties. Of course I know it doesn't all stop when they turn 18, parenting is for life but you know what I mean. It does not matter to me as I have already had what I would call a very successful career back with Nielsen. I'm sure my esrtwhile colleagues, Dave and Dogger might question the use of the word "successful", but I consider that I was. I had achieved an awful lot before I even turned 25. But as you all know, by 35 I had tired, and turned my back on all that.

So it's not a problem from my point of view if I never have any sort of proper "career" again, I feel I have proved all I needed to prove in that area. Claire however is different. She is only 27, and her early twenties have been taken up by having babies. She now has the chance for a proper career - and wants to train in nursing - not really practical with more babies in tow. And I don't personally want one right now - I feel I need a couple of years to enjoy what we have. I would so love to have a daughter though.

I guess what I am saying is, yes more children are possible, but just "not yet" - if at all. I would say maybe there is a 50/50 chance of us having more children. But Claire won't get a career if I keep knocking her up every couple of years, so I guess the official line is that having more children is "on hold".

So - what all of this is leading up to, is what do we do with all the "stuff" we have accumulated that we will not be needing much longer. The list is endless. Cots, carry cots, pushchairs, high chairs, changing tables, stairgates, clothes, expensive toys, sterilisers, this is barely the start of it. All of this stuff is pretty much filling out every bit of storage space we have available.

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Activity Station
We've got loads of stuff like this.


The thing is - there's one part of me that's saying - we must keep all this stuff "in case" we have another baby. Another part says it's taking up too much space - get rid of it. But getting rid of it is tantamount to saying "right that's it we're not having any more children" and neither of us is ready, or even wants to say that, it just seems wrong to me.

And how to get rid of it? Chuck it? Sell it on one of those many facebook recycling pages for Bicester. Give it away to friends with babies? I am not averse to getting rid of my own stuff - having moved house several times both up and down the ladder it's been essential, but for some reason I just can't bear to part with any of this stuff, it's part of my family, part of my boys, my babies and I am just not ready to let go.

Sometimes it seems like they will never grow up and things will always stay the same - like on the Simpsons, but I know that it won't. Part of me wants to see them grow, and things to move on, but part of me doesn't. Life is just about as damn near perfect as it could be for me right now, and at approximately (hopefully) halfway through my life if I could freeze the moment and stay exactly where I am right now I would. Because I have never had it so good - and in some ways feel that it can never get any better.


My family

I wouldn't change a single thing. Except possibly to have enough money to be able to buy this house - but that's just a material thing. My family is the most amazing thing in my life and my crowning achievement.

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

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Clothing Catastrophes


What is it with me and clothes, lately? Everything is wearing out, malfunctioning, etc. I am going to have to take a flying visit into Oxford tomorrow to get some things.

I think in some cases (holes in socks etc) it is my own fault for buying cheap from Primark. So tomorrow I am going to go to M+S and buy some. I don't really like doing downstairs in M&S in Oxford, it's all drab grey and depressing - and that's just the clothes. Most of the customers are dressed in similar. Generally with M+S I'll stick to food, but I have to say, for socks they are your best bet, they'll last for years.

I've always had a fondness for black canvas jeans. This goes back to my gothic days (yes believe it or not, I was one for a while in my teens). I used to buy these from Watsons in the Covered Market for £10.99 back in 1987. So I was quite pleased when I found out that Primark sold some very similar trousers for just £6, over 20 years later. But I have not had a huge amount of luck with them to be honest. The first pair I had, the zip jammed in the down position one day (when I was DJ'ing - thankfully not at a kids party), and had to be chucked. The pair I am currently wearing has, as so many of my pairs of trousers do, worn out between the legs.

It's always under the right ball where they go, never the left, perhaps I'm a bit bigger on that side, I'll have to get wifey to take a look when she's finished watching the Olympic coverage.

The other things that infuriates me is when pockets go. My beloved pair of Next shorts are going to have to go, because the pockets have worn through. It's all these fiddly little 5ps and 1ps working themselves into the corner and wearing out the lining. I have had huge problems with pockets over the years.

Someone needs to invent some sort of internal pocket device to prevent this, or just make them stronger. Fed up with throwing out clothes for this reason.

So - after I have got my socks from M&S it will be off to Primark for some £6 black jeans. Even though the last two pairs failed me I will still buy more. Well it's only £6 after all. Then I will go to Next and get some new shorts. Don't mind splashing out on these. That pair that the pockets went on cost £35 but they did last me 4 years, so that's value I reckon.

Then I just need some new trainers - which has to be Vans or Animal - probably Animal, I can't keep out of that place. Don't need any more T-shirts for now though I do need to get rid of some. For some reason, some T-shirts I buy seem to get progressively shorter and wider. Ending up like cropped tops. On purchase they are fairly rectangular in shape but by the time I have finished with them they are square.

Once the gap between the bottom of my T-shirt and the top of my jeans becomes visible, I have to do what's in the public interest and chuck them out.

Hardly a day goes by without us hearing of the death of somebody famous, and one almost becomes immune to it, but every now and then, one dies and I feel genuinely saddened.

Hot on the heels of the loss of two seventies Doctor Who companions recently (Caroline John and Mary Tamm) came the very sad news that there will be no more Twiggy in the Royle Family as Geoffrey Hughes has passed away at the age of 68.

He was one of those actors who I found hilarious, whatever he appeared in. Onslow, the slob in Keeping Up Appearances, and Twiggy in the Royle Family were both hilarious, but to me he will always be Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street.

Hilda gives the boys some stick,
note the famous flying ducks in the background.


For the benefit of younger viewers, long before Jack and Vera, there was Stan and Hilda. The most amazing comedy double act in soapland history, and when Eddie came to live with them as a lodger, well it was just television gold. Their laziness and schemes, Hilda's nagging. I'm very lucky to have many of these episodes on DVD, and say what you like about Corrie now, nothing will ever top these three.

Sticking with TV, as you know I've rather a large collection, but I'm always looking out for "new" shows and every now and then I discover a gem from the past that somehow I missed. As a huge fan of The IT Crowd I thought I would have a look at what else the makers of this show had done, and lo and behold I discover a previously completely unknown to me sitcom entitled "Black Books" made between 2000 and 2004, starring Bill Bailey (always good) and Tamsin Greig (underrated). Reviews on Amazon seemed very promising - and the entire box set was available at the bargain price of £8 - for all three series. Watched episode one tonight - hilarious. DVD bargains are becoming harder to come by but this was amazing.

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

Friday, 27 July 2012

Elementary, my dear wifey.

As you know, blog fans, I fancy myself as a bit of an amateur sleuth and no-one's above detection. Sherlock Ayres is on your case - be afraid - be very afraid.

As I say no-one is above investigation, even my own wife and I got her bang to rights today.

Now a small mystery has developed in Ayres Mansion of late. Having been suckered into the whole Gillette marketing strategy of having to have the latest and most innovative shaving system (price of blades increasing exponentially with each upgrade), I am currently the "proud" owner of a Gillette Fusion Power system.

If you thought Mach 3 was expensive, this baby really eats up the dough. It's about 14 quid for a pack of 4 blades which they claim last up to 13 weeks. Now mine never have - 8 weeks at best - but I put that down to being a rock hard alpha male with stubble to boot. PS: I don't mean by that kick me in the face, just for future reference.

Bloody expensive


Now lately I have been most disappointed with the performance, after a couple of weeks the blade has become all scratchy. This is not what I expect from a leading global manufacturer of men's grooming products. There must be another explanation.

Now my Sherlock tendencies along with my obsession for detail means I know where everything is in the house at all times. Everything has it's place. So when something moves - I know about it.

Now being aware of the Geography of the bathroom I am also aware of the location of the various items within it. Remember that old Pantene ad - "Take two bottles into the shower? No I only need one - now I just wash and go". Well sadly it seems that has never been the case in my life with any woman I've lived with,  the ad should have been more along the lines of "Take two bottles into the shower? Why, when I can take eight?"

An all too familiar scene, right guys?


To be fair to Claire she is very good on that score, compared to some, that picture above I just got off Google. I have managed to create as minimalist as possible a bathroom - largely by having a policy of chucking out any toiletry item with less than 10% remaining it. Because they never finish them! So for example, in the picture above, the two bottles at either end would go straight in the bin. Works for me. Now we just need to work on the shoes...

But I digress. My suspicions has already been aroused by the declining life span of my razors, I had also noted the lack of feminine items of that nature in the locality. But today - a major clue unfolded - whilst in the shower I reached for my razor in its usual place and lo and behold it was not there. I called Claire - and she brought it in - it had been left in the bedroom. Now I never leave or move anything without remembering, of course, so this was distinctly odd.

After my shower, I called Claire into the bedroom and asked her to remove her trousers. She thought her luck was in, obviously, but it was her legs I was interested in on this occasion rather than what lay within. Sure enough, on running my hands along them they were as smooth as a baby's bottom. Which is an expression by the way before anyone gets the wrong idea.

The game's up! So I asked her:

Jason: "A-ha - just as I thought - perfectly smooth legs"

Claire: "Why are you doing that?"

Jason: "No reason. Is it your payday tomorrow?"

Claire: "Yes, I'm going shopping"

Jason "Well perhaps you should consider purchasing a new razor, so you stop nicking mine"

Claire: "But I've got my own razor..."

Jason: "Where is it then?"

Claire: "ummmmmmmmmm"

Jason: "I rest my case"

Mine




Sorry Claire - anyway it was all said as light-hearted banter but I did rumble you! I know what to get your for Christmas now anyway, the best ladyshave money can buy.

Did get me wondering though, is using your fella's razor a trick all you girls get up to?

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

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Musée de l'érotisme

...and other places.

So Day 3 in Paris. First stop of course, breakfast, and a hot chocolate unlike anything I have ever had before. For starters it was not really hot - it was more as if someone had melted a chocolate bar and put it in a cup - incredibly rich. Even me with my appetites found it daunting.

And on to - The Louvre. Now this did not go well at all. You'll recall that there was a heatwave in Paris last week - similar to the weather we currently have in the UK. Now whoever designed this thing decided to create a big glass pyramid over the main entrance area where it is necessary to queue with thousands of other people for tickets.

Crowds I can do. Heat I can do. The two combined - proved almost fatal. I felt so unwell that at one point I really did think that all the years of Strongbow, Fry-ups, Ham, Crisps etc had finally caught up with me. But no, I thought, the world cannot be denied of Bicester Blogger yet - there is still much to do! So finally we staggered into the main part of the museum and into cooler territory.

Outside the Louvre - looking rather rotund
after the 1000 calorie hot chocolate.

Quite honestly the Louvre wasn't my thing we had only really gone to see the Mona Lisa. I was most disappointed to discover that it was in a large hall, and not in fact in the small room as had been portrayed in the 1979 four episode Tom Baker Doctor Who story "City Of Death" filmed in Paris. In fact I am beginning to suspect this scene may have been mocked up in a studio - another childhood illusion shattered. Anyway, Mona Lisa seen and a quick walk round one of the other galleries and then outside before I expired. Clearly I survived the experience as I am still here - but never again.


Claire outside the Moulin Rouge

As on the previous days we found ourselves looking round other random places - and by mid afternoon were standing by the Moulin Rouge which is close to the Paris equivalent of Soho. We found the delightful Musée de l'érotisme which whilst appearing rather small from outside was well worth the entry fee as it was spread over 7 floors. All the exhibits had English translations and this place turned out to be an absolute gem.


Would Madame care for a sit down?

Not because I am obsessed with sex (though that helps) but the place was clearly really well thought out and designed - with countless exhibits of erotic art, ancient dildos, etc. There was a whole floor dedicated to the history of Paris brothels and prostitution which I found fascinating.


You're never too old!

On another floor there was a little studio set up showing erotic films - not the ones you see these days but from the early days of cinema, 1920's silent films. Now I was under the impression that "porn" from this era would be tame - but oh my - absolute filth - just along the lines of what you would see today - couple of scantily clad housemaids getting it on - fully explicit prior to being caught and "punished" by the man of the house. it even had captions, Charlie Chaplin/ Harold Lloyd style. To be honest - I found the whole thing far more arty and erotic than most of the mindless predictable porn peddled these days. And clearly so did the young French woman who was sat in the chair before me whom I observed for a brief period, but I think as this is a family blog I must draw the line at explaining why. Let's just say "Sherlock Ayres" had his forensics hat on.


Now that's what I call a dessert!


During the evening while we were dining out I did get Claire laughing, I know it was a bit mean at an old lady's expense, but while we were eating (al fresco again), a really old lady hobbled by us bent double almost - she must have been at least 90, possibly even 100. I said to Claire - you know I think I recognise that woman - she was in that movie we watched this afternoon!

And so Friday dawned, and we headed for home, back to the kids and normal life and a weekend's DJ'ing but what an amazing and enjoyable trip away. I've said it before - but if you are married with kids - take the time once a year minimum to get away and just be you and your partner again.

Bon soir!

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

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Charcuterie

How I love the word which is the title of this blog entry - so much more romantic than "Meat". Like most of the French language to be fair. I can really see the appeal of living in France. My sister has a house there - surprisingly I have never been but there always seemed to be too many other things going on, either work or children related.

Anyway - you've had the hors d'ouevre as to what we got up to on our first day in Paris, so now here is the rest. After a good night's sleep (not actually - my pillows kept sliding down the back of the bed) we headed off out for a days sightseeing, armed with an assortment of maps and guides and such like, looking like typical tourists no doubt. Nice little breakfast up at the square at the end of the street where Edgar Quinet Metro station was located (puerily nicknamed "Edgar Quim" by me on the first day). Got to say all the Croissants and bread we had in France were top notch - the Pain Au Chocolat were to die for. Sorry Tesco, and even M&S, your offerings are rubbish by comparison.

Just the thing to start the day (there was coffee too, had not arrived yet).


Anyway, first stop Eiffel Tower. Us and several million other people it seemed. Walking from the Metro we had to slalom our way through dozens of street vendors trying to sell us cheap and nasty Eiffel Tower replicas. Eventually we made it to the tower only to discover that only one lift was working and there were about 10,000 people queueing. Having done a recce of the queue we worked out it would be at least six hours to get up there - so really, what was the point? We decided to bin it - and head off elsewhere.

Rather than take the Metro we headed down to the Seine and got day passes for what it known as the "Batobus". Which instantly became nicknamed the "Batty Bus" spoken in Ali G accent. This is a good way of cruising up and down the Seine, which was much nicer than the Metro particularly as the weather was clear blue skies and the temperatures had soared to the high 20's. Most satisfying as it was still raining back home in Britain according to a text from the mother in law.

Did the whole Notre Dame thing - just a big church basically, then got on to the more important business of securing some lunch. Now this is where the French really do excel.

When at home and fancying partaking of a spot of lunch, I like nothing better to fill up a plate with lots of breads, meats, cheeses etc. With perhaps the odd olive or bit of beetroot just so I don't look like a total carnivore. Now it's simply not possible to order such a meal in the UK. Yes - you can order a Ploughman's lunch but this tends to consist of a bit of bread, one (ONE!) type of meat or cheese and then a load of salad padding. Not good.

A typical British Ploughman's lunch - very poor.



Now the French have got the right idea. Don't fill it out with all that crap, give us what we want! The various cafes we passed by all were offering this most appetising item on the menu - and I saw it on a few people's plates described as an "Assortment de Fromages et Charcuterie". Now that's more like it. So here is what I had.

Now that's more like it!

During the afternoon we checked out a couple of other museums, a bit more off the beaten track which unlike the main tourist attractions were refreshingly quiet. One thing that Claire in particular found annoying though was that none of the museums had English translations alongside the placards which would have been helpful - I am pretty good at French so could get the jist of most of it but even so - most museums I have been to in London offer French and other language translations so it would have been nice.

In the evening we went back to the area of the Eiffel tower which was still rammed and had another lovely dinner. My previous experience this year of steak in France was not spectacular but this place did it to perfection - seared on the outside - juicy and full of flavour in the middle. Our restaurant was in sight of the Eiffel Tower - well the top of it anyway, so we were able to see the light show as darkness fell around 10pm.

After dinner we went out for a walk in the shadow of the tower, in those lawns you see leading up to it (where the Cybermen were standing in Doctor Who S02E13) and it was amazing to see how many people were there on the lawns, with picnic blankets, bottles of wine, the sounds of laughter and fun at 11pm in the evening, just wonderful.


Jason xx

Friday, 20 July 2012

Ooh La La!!!

Well, what are we to expect from a blog entry from me about my trip to Paris?

A list of places we went, and things we saw, with pictures of landmarks, the sort of thing that everyone who has ever been to Paris has bored the life out of everyone they know since they got back with? (As suggested by the picture below).

Can't be bothered to rotate it, so just imagine
she's having a  little lie down.


Or a wry off-the-wall look at the more amusing aspects of the trip, with a focus on Bicester Blogger's usual areas of interest such as food, drink and naughty stuff.

Is that Bicester Blogger going in, or just a lookalike?



I thought so. Right then - well let's get the logistics out of the way first. I don't go anywhere without doing my research first so was very happy to pay £420 for this trip which included Eurostar each way and 3 nights in the Lenox Montparnasse Hotel - chosen very carefully from research on Trip Advisor. #84 out of over 2000 in Paris cannot be bad and, wow, I was not disappointed. May write a review for them if/ when I get round to it.

Quick notes on the journey. As always the train journeys were 100% efficient and on time both in the UK and in France. All those years of us moaning about trains (11 minutes late as Reggie Perrin used to say) and I never hear anyone praising how efficiently it all runs these days. There aren't even crashes anymore.

One little travel tip from the way down. We needed to get from Marylebone across to St Pancras. Single trips on the Tube are very expensive. It's £4.30 for a single anywhere. Yes I know clever dicks will say "Get a one day travelcard" but that's not much use if you are only taking one trip. So it would be £8.60 on the Tube. I say - forget it! Think outside the box. We went outside and jumped into a Black Cab. Much more fun, makes you feel a bit more upmarket, you see more of London and get to have an "interesting" conversation into the bargain. The fee on our meter when we reached St Pancras? Amazingly - £8.60!

And so through the station - an international terminal, a bit like an airport but without all the aggro, and on to the train - it was all so simple really, and just over two hours later we rolled into Paris.

As an added bonus, about 10 minutes out from Paris, the grey skies lifted and were replaced by glorious blue sunshine, which we were to keep for most of our stay. We were just far south enough to escape the hideous weather pattern that has been ruining our summer here so far. As soon as we were out of the station we could feel the heat, it was as big a difference as if we had just stepped off a plane in the med.

I'll come on to the hotel (not literally). We were in an area of Paris called Montparnasse and it was a superb spot - located in the middle of a street with a Metro on either end, a lovely square full of restaurants at one end and a couple of supermarkets as well selling all the old favourites needed on holiday i.e. Diet Coke, Crisps, packets of ham and salami, beer and wine. So the first thing we did was stock up.

Now in the past I have had people accuse me of being tight on holiday with money when it comes to things such as the minibar. Well the fact is - yes there was a minibar in our room with a price list attached and I'm sure I don't need to tell you about the outrageous prices they charge. So for example, our minibar contained a can of diet coke for 3.50 euros. I however went into the supermarket next door, bought six cans for 45 cents each and put them into my minibar. I don't call that being tight, I call it being sensible. Save money on things you don't need to splash out on - and then you've got more money for the big ticket items like the meals out in the evening!

And even they were not expensive. Before I went I got a fair few people sticking their oar in, giving what I call their "perceived knowledge". What do I mean by that? I mean people who probably haven't even been to Paris just giving out stereotypical views because they think they are clever, so I had "Paris is really expensive" and "Paris stinks", in fact - no to both of those and various other comments. As for the expensive bit, well I mentioned £4.30 for a trip on the tube, well on the Metro you buy a book of 10 tickets for 12.70 euros. You do the maths.

Meals out in the evening? We had three. I'm sort of concentrating on day one in this blog so we went out for a lovely walk in the evening and I got this lovely shot in a little park we stopped in before dinner, just of a couple of old men enjoying sitting in the park, but it's kind of the olde worlde sort of thing you might see only on a postcard, but I was so pleased to see, it's for real.



Afterwards we wandered into the square and chose our restaurant. 3 courses, and two 50cl carafes of wine, all for around 80 euros, which was most acceptable. We both played safe on our mains the first night and ordered chicken. Now here was the only "bone" of contention over the meal. We each got a quarter chicken and it must have been a really big chicken because these were seriously meaty portions and done to perfection with a gorgeous sauce. However Claire got the breast and I got the leg! Now as you know I am very much a breast man. Well you get more don't you? Having said that, the leg meat was some of the best I've tasted, clearly this old bird had had a pretty decent life and somewhat more than the 56 days your average bland supermarket birds gets. And lovely loyal wifey also kindly gave me a very generous portion of her breast to even up proceedings, so can't complain.

Which leads me on the hotel for the last paragraph or so - remember this is only a blog of the first day - there is more to come. I mentioned that we had chosen well, and we had. Not only was it in a great location, but the room was great, and as an added bonus, on arrival, the receptionist advised us that all of the movies were free.

On getting into the room and checking the TV as you do, I was delighted to discover that there was a wide selection of "adult" movies available. Now most hotels have these as you may know, but never have they been free before and I have been a little reluctant to purchase them in the past due to an embarrassing incident on one of my first business trips away with Nielsen in the early 1990's. Basically I was young and naive and away from home and lonely and full of sap and did not realise that hotels sent detailed bills back to the company. Suffice to say, when my boss called me into his office a week or two later and advised me that "the viewing of adult films in hotel rooms whilst away on company business is considered unacceptable" I was forced to curb such interests for a year or two until the internet came along.

Anyway, I double checked with reception, "you really do mean ALL the films don't you", and the cheeky young mademoiselle gave me a knowing look with "D'accord". So - there we were. A married couple, suddenly released from all work, home and parental responsibilities, with unlimited access to booze and free pornography. What were we to do?

Well all I can say is this - think about those weather stories in the news, when they talk about flash flooding and "Over a month's average rainfall fell in a 24 hour period". Well it was a bit like that.

And judging by the amount of noise coming from the room next door, the flooding was widespread.

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






Sunday, 15 July 2012

Private Dick

Yes, that's right, I am considering a new career as a private dick. And yes I know what you are thinking, but no, I am not about to become a male prostitute. Not that it is not an attractive career option when one considers an ideal world scenario, i.e. a string of beautiful women paying hundreds of pounds to have sex with me in luxury hotels, however, the reality is likely to be somewhat different - £20 for a quick fumble down the alley opposite G's is more likely, and to be honest even that is an unlikely scenario. As any marketing person worth their salt will tell you, you cannot sell what people don't want to buy, and since I've spent most of my adult life (the single bits anyway) struggling to give it away, I think any fiscal renumeration is unlikely unless I have radical plastic surgery to make me look like Captain Jack. Or Peter Andre for one friend I shan't mention (I wonder if she reads this...?)

That was rather a long explanation - but I thought it best - as H said on my status the other day - it does sound rather dodgy.

No - the kind of private dick I am talking about is the kind inspired by countless books, films, and TV, and here are a few that have captured my imagination over the years.

Patrick Stewart as Dixon Hill - in a Star Trek holodeck mystery.

Every lad my age wanted to be as cool as
David Addison in Moonlighting back in the 80s


Not solving crimes - but medical mysteries.


The latest addition to the Sherlock legend - with a modern day twist.

Yes, I've always fancied myself as a bit of a private detective. Now I could not even begin to pretend to be in the same league as Sherlock or House who are true geniuses, but then I would be unlikely to be attempting to solve complex murders or medical problems.

However - anyone who knows me well will tell you I am very very good at reading people and pick up on a lot of subtle hints and clues that people don't even realising they are giving off. This isn't always necessarily a good thing. It's very hard to keep quiet when someone is telling you one thing and you know quite blatantly that they are bullshitting, but you can't say anything. I learnt this the hard way at Nielsen with a number of idiotic bosses who thought that a job title and a nice suit meant that they were more intelligent than me. Fortunately I survived in the Nielsen jungle with a lot of skill and cunning and people who thought they were cleverer than me invariably came unstuck. The whole Nielsen thing and working with retailers engendered a culture of secrecy and frequent paranoia among clients about industrial espionage and such things. I never really saw a great deal of evidence of this - but I guess it would have been easy to do - if not a little unethical.  A lot of us at Nielsen got to spend a lot of time on site at clients - anyway I was never offered any money to spy on one retailer or pub company for example - but I am sure such things must go on.

As for being a private detective, I would imagine there's not a great deal of exciting murders or serious crimes to investigate as we are led to believe on the telly. Industrial espionage - unlikely. Maybe a few local issues like fraud etc, but let's face it, the majority of work in this arena is more likely being hired by suspicious spouses to follow people to see if they are having affairs.

I reckon I am top notch at spotting such things. I have lived in Bicester for over 20 years and let's face it, there's enough of it goes on. As a DJ I am in quite a unique position to view what goes on, and it's quite interesting to people watch at some of the events I DJ at. Even when they are all people I don't know - like tonight. Amazing the small details you can pick up - not only things like who's having an affair with who, but also who hates each other (in-laws usually).

With people I know it's even better - but I am not going to go into any detail, but I see everything, and I hear everything - and once my curiosity is piqued by something my eyes are watching like a hawk. You would be amazed at how easily some people betray themselves, and the beauty of it all is that they do not even realise they are doing it. I am also very good at not letting on that I know - if you really want to get to the bottom of something, never look suspicious. Let them think you don't suspect a thing.

Every time I suspect something I am invariably right - but I take no pleasure in it. When something is finally confirmed I usually act surprised - that way people continue to think I am easily fooled in the future and I can conceal my master detective skills beneath a cloak of idiocy and Strongbow drinking.

I don't often have to detect much anyway, because fortunately I have a reputation (well deserved) of being 100% trustworthy therefore often I am confided in by people and I don't betray that trust. I don't think there are many people that I could say that about. 

So between the secrets confided in me, and the things I work out for myself I have got a pretty good knowledge of what's going on around here most of the time. If I was a gossip I could have a field day, fortunately I am not so I leave that to those who have nothing better to do - most of whom end up barking up the wrong tree most of the time anyway. Those who gossip most have the least accurate information it seems to me.

Sometimes I see things that are completely blatantly obvious and yet it's amazing what people think they've got away with. I find though it's better to just let them get on with it. It's their lives after all. I'd rather concentrate on my own.

My attention to detail - you will remember that I have 100% recall of facts, numbers, dates also comes in handy. I can spot patterns in people's behaviour - where and when they go places - and when that changes. And facebook has added an even greater dimension to that - I can tell what people are up to by what they post - the reasoning being - why has she or he written that and why? Especially those who appear to be going out of their way to appear to be where they ought to be. Transparent is not the word!

So I think I would make a good private detective - speciality - unfaithful spouses. As an added bonus I haven't mentioned yet, one big benefit of this job is that I may even get to take some photographs of people having sex (for purely professional reasons of course, so it can't be illegal - can it?)


Jason xx

Monday, 9 July 2012

Once In A Lifetime

Well, that was that then. The "Once In A Lifetime" chance to see the Olympic flame, as it deigned to visit us here in humble Bicester. Blink and you miss it. I guess it was fun for the kids and an opportunity to hang out with a few friends in Sheep Street, but the trouble is with once in a lifetime experiences is they rarely live up to the hype.

This was rather good fun though as I was with my bestie and we had a bit of a giggle. As we always do. Daryl was also there and kindly lifted Ollie up into his shoulders - he's much taller than me, so that got him a better view. I was holding Jamie up, but like most 1 year olds he was completely oblivious to what was going on or why.

I imagine there are quite a lot of other "once in a lifetime" experiences one can have in life that may well possible disappoint. I imagine reaching the summit of Everest is great but then you've only got to climb all the way back down again so what's the point. Likewise, having a threesome, sounds awesome on paper, and let's face it, you all secretly want to try one, but logistically it's a bit of a challenge - hard enough trying to co-ordinate two people to come at the same time let alone three.

Anyway that was the Olympic Torch coming through on the back of the Jubilee, and it will very likely be the last one we see of those as well. Now I am not being maudlin there, it's just the simple fact that the Queen ascended the throne at such a young age that there was always a good chance of her passing the Silver, Gold and Diamond milestones. I don't think there are any more to come after Diamond. Not that I am aware of anyway. Unless there's something amazing like Platinum for getting to 100 and if Queenie gets that far, I will begin to suspect that the scientists have discovered the secret of eternal life but are keeping it only for Royalty, politicians and bankers.

Jubilee - will we ever see another?


Poor old Charles is already 63, so will be well into his pensionable years before he makes it to the throne so a Silver Jubilee for him looks optimistic. Still I guess there's the coronation to look forward to! Which will be met with even greater apathy that what's gone before. Why? I don't know, I guess the world has changed, and with so much going on all the time, these events don't stand out as being as special as they once were.

To sum up, I enjoyed today without it being an "out of this world" experience, it was something different to brighten up a drab Monday afternoon and let's face it, it's been drab. Of course the one day rain locally would have been useful, to liven up the British Grand Prix, the track stayed bone dry.

Amid much moaning about the weather I read an interesting piece in the Times on Saturday about the fact we have now had six wet summers in a row. Apparently this is unprecedented and may be a sign of permanent climate change. How depressing is that?

Anyway - as far as Olympic things go, there is only one thing with "Olympic" in the title that floats my boat, and that is the legendary Olympic Breakfast from the Little Chef. This was my staple diet in my days on the road with Nielsen. I didn't need Sat Navs or Tom Tom's in those days - I had in my head a full computerised map of every Little Chef in the country. The Olympic Breakfast (available all day) was the perfect way of maximising use of the £7.50 lunch allowance we had per day (it cost £7.49). Sadly I gave up the Olympic Breakfast some years ago after leaving Nielsen, but for old time's sake - here's a piccie.

The Ayres diet circa 1990 - 2005


In other news, Aldi continues to impress. I've been enjoying an amazing Bordeaux Superieur 2010 from there over the last week or two - tastes like something that you would not get much change out of a tenner for, but in fact at the good old price point of £4.99. It's getting harder and harder to find wine at that price that's any good these days with the ever spiralling taxes and other costs. The consignment I brought back from France in February has long gone, and although I'm heading back over to France next week, it's without wheels and travelling as light as possible so no option to bring any back. Just have to make sure I get a decent fill while I am there!

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, 5 July 2012

Slave to the machine



Before I get on to the main blog, some happy news on the Snack Product front. One the of the great problems I have with crisp multipacks is that there is invariably at least one flavour of the product that nobody likes. This varies by product, so although some of us like Salt 'n' Vinegar crisps, none of us like Salt 'n' Vinegar Hula Hoops. So we always end up with 3 or 4 packets left over. Hint to any visitors: If you like Salt 'n' Vinegar Hula Hoops ask for a bag next time you are over - I have a few bags in the cupboard and they are in date.

Anyway, much has been my disappointment in the past to see a much loved flavour of crisps in a multipack replaced by another e.g. BBQ beef Wotsits replaced by Flaming Hot.

Yet, at last a flavour change has gone in my favour! I have always liked Wheat Crunchies, but not been keen on the Worcester Sauce flavour, which along with those below has traditionally made up the multipack.

However, imagine my delight to discover in Iceland this morning that the disliked Worcester Sauce has been replaced by a new Cheese 'n' Onion flavour! Excellent news, just what a needed to brighten up what has been a pretty low key week on the crisp and snack front after the disappointment on Sunday of discovering that Aldi had run out of Cheese Puffs.

Anyway, on to the main point of the blog - as you know the school holidays are approaching and that means lots of fun in the sun (in theory). So you will probably find my blogging contributions drop considerably until September. I am also becoming very very aware that I am spending way too much time on this computer that could be better utilised elsewhere.

I have touched many times on the "dangers" of facebook and how I feel it is gradually taking over our lives, and really, if you have an addictive personality like mine and like writing a lot, it's fatal.

It doesn't help when you are in a position like myself with childcare responsibilities where you aren't in a position to socialise as much as you used to so the social media provides a useful platform for social interaction when say, you're home alone in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.

But when it gets to the point where you are checking the computer every 5 minutes to see if any of those little notification flags have appeared in the top left hand corner, when you are carrying on lengthy PM conversations with several people at once and feel you have to respond instantly, you are playing about 15 people at the same time on Song Pop and struggling to keep up, not to mention all the other stuff, this site really can take over your life. And I,as I say have a very addictive personality - once I get into something I cannot stop. I'm so glad I never get involved in drugs at all, as if I had I would probably be dead by now.

Anyway, eventually this week with facebook, I reached the point where I just have to say "enough is enough" and do what I did this week and deactivate it and walk away. But can I live without it - probably not. It's wired into my existence now as much as the electricity is wired into the house. Not on facebook? Be prepared to lose contact with all your friends. Miss out on jobs (yep I get more work through fb now than any other medium, including paid advertising). And all the other little things, like for example, Saturday is looming and that means I have to post my selections on the horse racing game, as well as Lynda's, who's counting on me to do it while I am away. It's just all wired in now, I'm already half way to being a cyberman, where will it all end? We'll all be hotwired in like they were in Doctor Who, dutiful little slaves to the machine. Science fiction maybe, but that's the way the world's going.

Will being on facebook soon be as essential and ubiquitous as owning a mobile phone, or even having access to running water?

I don't want to be on there - but what choice do I have? Stay off and I may as well become a hermit as that will be my social status.

Here's a thing. I normally promote my blog via facebook - the average entry gets between 50 and 100 hits. I'm willing to bet this particular entry gets less than half that. Not on facebook? Might as well be invisible.

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, 2 July 2012

Three super foods for a healthy life

It seems every site I go on these days is linking up to facebook. Now I only have to read a news story on Yahoo and it's telling everyone about it.

Be afraid - be very afraid...where will it end? That naughty site you looked at while your girlfriend was down the shops? Before you know it, up in the news feed will be "Dogger Suddaby viewed 5 new profiles on UKSwingers.com".

Anyway, one of the articles I read today was entitled "Superfoods you must eat" and was the usual predictable collection of various cereals, oils, fruits blah blah blah that some monks in some monastery or something swear by because they've lived to be 108 or something. The Daily Express is also a big fan of these types of stories - and every now and then comes up with some headline on the subject - presumably on a day when there's no sensational weather news to report. Oh look - here's one now:

Basically it just says eat more
Fruit and Veg - groundbreaking stuff!


So - with just as much effort as is put into the average Daily Express leader, here's my three super foods for a long and happy life:

1) Kebabs



We are all well aware of the dangers of binge drinking - the Government tells us often enough. Any more than about half a pint a week it seems and we are all going to die horribly as our livers shrivel up. Among some of the suggestions I have seen for more sensible drinking are to mix and match with soft drinks (bollocks to that) and also eating food - now you are talking.

So next time you have a skinful - what you really need to do to help your liver, is to get something in there to soak it up. Go up to the Broken Fork and get yourself a nice big donor and get that down you. It'll soak up all that booze and you'll feel much better the next day. Until you go to the toilet, anyway.

2) Crisps



Did you know that a bag of crisps counts as one of your five a day - yes, it really does. They are made of potatoes are they not? And also - get this, a bag of crisps actually contains more vitamin C than an apple. That's fact, people. Look it up.

I personally eat 5 packets of crisps a day, therefore negating the need for any real fruit and vegetables whatsoever. Thank-you Gary.

3) Bacon



Did you know that pigs are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet? Seriously, it's true. Don't be fooled by all that rolling around wallowing in the mud, let's face it, even the most intellectual of us have done that after a skinful. Seriosuly, after dolphins and those mice out of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, pigs are one of the most intelligent animals. And extensive research I am currently carrying out suggests that eating the flesh of these intelligent animals actually helps prevent Alzheimer's. Seriously, I've been wolfing this stuff down like it's going out of fashion for decades now and I'm still as sharp as a button. Come on let's have a bacon sarnie. Cheers - sorry I've forgotten your name, what was it again?

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