Monday, November 29, 2004

He's still standing....unfortunately

"Oh God, not him. Switch it over now before we all die of ego attack..." I said as CJ's channel flicking spree ended up with Elton John's big fat grinning face staring at us from a BBC1 fawn fest.

"...he personnifies everything that's wrong with his world of music and showbusiness today, with his tantrums and his 'look at me I'm cool and down with the kids' swearing exploits on Radio 1....."

"...and his 'look at me I'm cool and down with the kids' exploits when dueting with any popular teen idol band that he can grab hold of..."

"...and his 'look at me I'm cool and down with the kids and I'm also gay' exploits when turning every comment by someone else into a sexual innuendo. Yes we know you're gay Elton, who cares? Get over it. 'Oooh.. like me please young people - I am cool, honestly'....."

" frickin were cool Elton, now you're just a big, fat, arrogant, sweaty fool" I finished. Spent, but pleased with my little outburst.

"It's not his fault he's so out of touch with reality, people who always 'have' are" CJ shouted to me as I ran into the kitchen to get something to end it all with.

I struggled to hear what she said though as I was too busy singing along to 'I'm still standing'.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Is it worth it?

I was talking to my Dad the other day about this funeral that he went to. He knew the man concerned. He was affected by the Miners Strike years after it finished - his life ended because of it.

During the '84 Miners Strike we lived in a little village called Stanton Hill, right in the middle of the Nottinghamshire coalfield, in between 2 mines. I could see both from my bedroom window. Silverhill Colliery (where my Dad worked) was about a mile or so away to the right and Sutton Colliery (Brierley) was probably 400 yards away to the left. They've both been filled in now and replaced with country parks. But the decorative headstocks are nice.

It's difficult really to say how it affected me as I was so young, but I can document the things that happened. Although the details are very sketchy.

Stanton Hill was a mining village, built specifically for the miners. Although the village wasn't exclusively full of miners there were a fair proportion in the area. In my 11/12 year old mini world of a street and a bit there was only my Dad on strike, and a bloke we knew as Tigger. My Dad was a big Labour Party man and a big union man, he was always sorting out problems for people, often at the expense of his family life. He was the NUM Branch Secretary at Silverhill colliery.

I never recall a time where my Dad came home and said 'right, we're on strike', although I guess it was discussed in the house and a decision was taken. The first thing I remember was being woken one night in bed by a loud roar, very similar to a football crowd roar. I went to the window and I could make out to the left, in the vicinity of Sutton Colliery a red glow in the sky and the silhouettes of people. I got dressed and climbed out of the bedroom window and went to have a look.

There were hundreds of people and lots of police, the people were trying to stop the cars and lorries passing - the red glow was the braziers (a fire in a dustbin) against the night sky. I recognised a couple of my dads friends and went to speak to them. They told me that they were picketing, trying to stop people going to work and that I ought to go home before I got hurt. But I was hooked, the atmosphere and adrenaline was just like being right in the middle of a noisy football crowd. I never felt in any danger. I asked to be taken, and was taken on lots of picket trips after that.

I ran home and told my Mum but she just told me not to do it again and go to bed. From then on I was hooked on anything to do with the strike. In my 11/12 year old world I gathered that the government wanted to shut all the pits down and the miners on strike were trying to stop them. I couldn't understand why everybody wasn't striking about it and that some people would work (you don't understand the value of money so young).

From then on it was pretty much the strike all the time as far as I can remember, it changed our lives.

We had a strike centre about a 2 mile walk from home where groups of miners wives would look after all the striking miners, feed them, etc. I can remember visiting the strike centre every day with my brother and my dad whilst my Mum worked, it seemed like I went there every day but it could only have been in the summer holidays, we were fed and played cards with the other striking miners. I had free school meals at school. I guess I missed out on a lot of things too but I cant remember what.

I had quite a bunch of friends around our little area before the strike, and I distinctly remember one day going to call for my friend. He answered the door and said he wasn't coming out, then I heard his Dad shout from the house:

"if it's that Watski boy tell him to go away, we don't want him round here"

I cant remember it affecting me but I guess it did, from then on there were only a few kids that would be seen in my company, I was spat on a couple of times too. But again, I can't remember it affecting me that much. I also remember people waving money at my Mum as though to goad her, or people talking loudly about things they could afford as soon as we walked anywhere near them.

I used to go to school and hand 'NUM strike' stickers out to all the teachers and stick them on all the bus stops, I collected pin badges (miners have something about pin badges - dont ask me why) and had a hat full of strike badges.

I also remember the BBC sending a news crew down our street and being slapped in the face by a policeman for getting too close. We also believed that our phone was tapped. Although I was more worried that they'd catch me whispering adolescent sweet nothings to whoever girl was fortunate to be with Watski at the time.

I remember going to miners rallies across the country, and because we were from Nottinghamshire everybody wanted to hug us and give us money - we went to Edinburgh and stayed with a Scottish mining family, we went to Durham and stayed with a Geordie mining family and me and my brother even spent a week in Kent at the house of a Kent mining family - all miners on strike, all doing things for their fellow strikers. The thing that hit me was that people couldn't do enough for each other, they really, really couldn't do enough.

I remember being on that miners rally in Durham, narching behind the colliery banner and because Nottinghamshire was the main area that broke the strike there weren't that many marching behind our NUM banner, there were loads for everywhere else. But when we marched all the crowd cheered twice as loud for us and were throwing money to us. One woman ran out of the crowd and up to me with tears in her eyes, I don't remember what she said but I remember her putting some money in my pocket.

Because I believed that what my Dad was doing was so right I used to run home from school everyday and switch the news on fully expecting the headline to be that the Miners had won. But it never came. For years I couldn't believe that anybody could be so stupid as to work - how could they be so short sighted. But now I realise that those people who worked believed in what they were doing just as much as my Dad did.

Looking back, it seemt that I had it very easy, I got free school dinners, the family got free food parcels, a free holiday for me and my brother, probably more than the families of working miners got, but that was all down to the generosity and togetherness of other people, locally and across the country. I'm guessing that it was real struggle for my parents living on the wages of my Mum, and I guess it was even harder for the people who didn't even have the wages of another person.

It changed everything though, my Dad left the industry a few years later. I guess there were divisions down the pit, there are divisions today. Lots of people I know are connected to mining and I know whether they worked or not, not because it matters, just because I'm interested. My Mum and Dad seperated a few years after and my Dad has been in and out of jobs ever since, never settling on one thing.

But it was the best thing that happened to some men as it forced them into something else rather than having the security of a job for life down the pit. The pits
all closed down soon after the strike, there was enough coal in them to employ all the miners to dig it out but it was just too expensive to do it. Coal was being imported into the UK from other countries at a vastly subsidised price and the government wouldn't subsidise the cost of UK coal so all the power stations bought the cheaper imported coal. The mines closed rapidly after that.

I guess it shaped me though, I'm so fiercely proud of the time when my Dad was on strike and I well up with pride whenever I hear it mentioned. I'm so proud of everything to do with miners and the strike and I'm proud that my Dad stuck to his principles - I'm not sure I could have done the same.

The community was the major thing that changed though, when the mines closed and the miners moved out to find jobs elsewhere the properties ended up being bought fairly cheaply by property developers who would rent them out to anyone and everyone, problem families moved in, there were bail hostels, and drugs came to the village, my car was broken into a couple of times in a year. Look at other mining villages and you'll see very similar scenes.

Stanton Hill wasn't much of a village before the strike, and I might look back on it a little too romantically, but at least you knew where you were, it was a community and most people looked out for each other.  But now it's effectively a ghost town, full of different people trudging from one day to another. It's almost closed down.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Fate deals its hand...

Ever get the feeling that you're the fall guy in another persons comedy world?

Ever get the impression that the things happening to you were meant for other people?

Ever looked up at the sky, shaken your fist and shouted 'curse you Lord'?

Ever wondered why some people are allowed to take up valuable oxygen?

Ever simply wondered why?

I often wonder whether there's been some error in fate's address book which has given the other Watksi all the good stuff that was meant to be shared, yet consistently dropped all the 1 tonne anvils on my head from a great height.

I arrived home from a hard days work last night to be greeted by a whole load of somebodys stuff all over my back garden. My brothers stuff to be precise. And there was a lot of it. He and his deranged ex girlfriend (DEG) split up 'amicably' a few months ago. She's not sharpest knife in the drawer so I can only think that she's struggling to understand the word 'amicable' judging by the things she's been up to (we'll come on to knives later).

For some reason known only to them, DEG and her equally braindead family had decided to take all my brothers stuff out of storage and dump it on my back garden. No matter that my brother doesn't actually live with me. No matter that my brother lives in Nottingham. No matter that my brother is away for the week. And here's the killer - no matter that my house is actually further from the storage place than my brothers house is. They actually travelled further than they needed to to put somebody elses stuff at my house. It would be stupid if it wasn't so funny.

How I laughed when having to put it all away last night.

Fall guy in another persons comedy world? Sharpest knives? You just can't reason with people as dumb as that.

She's also been a bit busy with the sharp implements lately too, the usual cutting up his clothes stuff. But she must have got bored with clothes as she elevated herself to a new level of derangement by slashing the tyres on his bike - she's been listening to too much Alanis Morrisette I reckon.

The first time we (I) noticed that his bike had got slashed tyres was after I had borrowed it from him, picked it up from his old house, stuck it on the back of my car, driven all the way to Norfolk and attempted to start riding it at the beginning of a weekend biking trip. Only to not go very far. Oh good. Watski the fall guy again.

You have to credit her though, she has given us some amusement and made us laugh. All the things she has planned to do to my brother have actually got me instead, as happens in the best slapstick comedies. She is now the stuff of comedy legend. People only have to look at each other now to burst out laughing. So it can't be all that bad.

But it doesn't change the fact that I am creeping round, wondering what challenges fate is going to throw at me today. It wont catch me out again though, I'm onto it. Although I nearly got run over today by a Ferrari being driven at speed - I noted the personalised plate so that I could report it to the police, it was W4 TSKI.

Hang on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Just passing through...

Phew, what a day.

Anyway, must go.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Not as clever as you think..

Whenever I'm feeling a little bit clever or have answered a few questions in the Sun crossword I watch Mastermind to bring myself back down to earth. To remind me that however clever I think I am, that there are always people far, far cleverer than me. I go to bed much more comfortable with my general standing in society after that. It's good for the soul. You should try it whenever you're having a good day.

There's a fair assortment of geeks, intellectuals and general weirdos on Mastermind, the kind that have trouble when around normal people. You can imagine the fun they might have in the Green Room. But over the past few weeks it has become apparent to me that the clever geeks on Mastermind aren't as clever as they think they are. There are some fundamental flaws in their strategies.

Error No.1 - Passes: If there is a tie-break then the person with the least number of passes, so the idea you would think is to get as few passes as possible. Now if it were me and I didn't know the answer I would just shout at a random word to avoid a pass. Not these people, they pass all the time. Have a think.

John Humphries: "Tutenkamen's favourite childhood toy was what?"
Watski (with no idea): "Err...ummm must..not...pass* ...err...Terry Nutkin!"
John Humphries: "Wrong, it was a cuddly pyramid."

Error No.2 - Subject: The History of the British Empire isn't a great choice, it's too broad. Give yourself a chance. Why not narrow it down to: 'The History of the British Empire 1999-2000'? It makes it easier to revise. I know why you chose such a big subject area - to show off wasn't it? Just make it easier for yourself and you may win.

Why do you never see specialised subjects on things that you might have a chance at? Like England penalty misses - the last 20 years or something, Loaded cover girls 1999-present day would have me shouting a few answers at the TV (as long as CJ wasn't about).

CJ: How did you know that?
Watksi: Err..a guess?

I had a think about my subject, if ever I was on there. They wouldn't catch me showing off, although I must admit to being limited in my sphere of knowledge. It would probably be a choice between: 'the contents of my fridge', 'things I have eaten today', 'my favourite internet sites this week or subjects I studied at school. I might have a fair chance with that little lot.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Are you sure?

Daniel Bedingfield was in the charts recently with a song entitled 'Nothing hurts like love'.

I can only assume he wrote the song before he suffered two fractured vertebrae in his neck after being in a car crash in New Zealand, which led to him being cut from the wreckage and having to stay in New Zealand for 3 months due to his injuries.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Welcome to my world....again

A 14 year old girl from Mansfield who was in the news earlier this year when having an abortion without her Mother's knowledge has hit the headlines becoming pregnant for a second time. She plans to keep it this time.

"I can confirm she is pregnant, but this time things have been done properly" Her Mother said.

Properly? What do you mean by properly? How do you know?

"Other than strap her to her bedroom......I don't see what else I could do as a parent" She added.

I hardly think she needs strapping to her bedroom - it sounds like she knows the way to that room well enough. Duck.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Welcome to my world...

The radio was playing over the intercom as I walked into the BP station last night to pay.

*And here is the 7.00 news with Smarmy Bugger*

There were 2 women stood chatting to each other behind the counter as I approached to pay. I went to the slightly less tattooed one.

"So I said to him, where else am I going to smoke at break if I can't do it out the back......which pump duck?" Tattooed lady said.

"Erm, pump 1 please" I said trying to work out what a pump duck was, as I always do when I'm asked that. I can't get the picture of someone trying to inflate a duck with a footpump out of my head.

*Sources in Iraq have suggested that Margaret Hassan the aid worker kidnapped in Iraq has been murdered*

"Oh no, not another, poor bugger - thats £41.50 duck, it's awful - Did you hear that Maureen?"

"No Sandra, what did they say?"

"They've killed another one in Iraq....thanks love, just sign there duck"

"Oh no, vicious buggers - did they say who it was?"

"I think it was that do-gooder"

"What? That woman? Oooh I don't know, you wouldn't catch me anywhere near Iraq. They all want shooting dont they, they should be strung what did he say to you?"


"Terry. About smoking at break"

"Oh, he said.....would you like a half price Chocolate Orange duck?"

"No, I'm ok thanks" I said. Feeling less than ok but wondering what a Chocolate Orange Duck looked like.

"Did you tell him that we want somewhere to have a fag at break, not a half price Chocolate Orange?"

"Cackle, cackle, cackle...thanks duck, bye - Oh Maureen"

"Cackle, cackle, cackle"

"Thanks, bye" I said trying to get out of the shop as fast I could. If I'd have known I was going to subjected to Hinge and Bracket then I'd have considered doing a runner.

"Oooh dear *wiping tears of joy from eye* So anyway, he said if I wanted a break then........"

Sorry if you're enthralled by the conversation and wanted to know the next bit, but I'd run out of the shop before my ears fell off.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

This is a Public Service Announcement..

"Knock, Knock"

It's not a joke.

That's the sound the door made last night when someone on the other side of it came into contact with it, in a traditional, well established custom designed to attract the attention of whoever is in the house.

It attracted my attention, as was the knockers wish. I made a mental check that it wasn't near Halloween nor close enough to Christmas for carol singers and then got up from the settee and set off to answer my visitor.

Then I stopped in my tracks and thought about David Blunketts warning yesterday when he said that terrorists are on our doorstep.

The crafty beggars, fancy disguising themselves as ordinary visitors to my house, when actually what they wanted to cause was worldwide terror.

I decided not to answer it and sat back down hoping that Osama's henchmen would go away. They did go away, but not before knocking a few more times and then placing a note through the letterbox. Maybe the TV and all the lights on convinced them that there was nobody in.

I wasn't taking any chances with the note so called the bomb disposal squad to inform them, I was met with:

"bugger off and stop wasting people's time you weirdo"

How rude, and there's me in a life or death situation. Maybe before Mr Blunkett communicates his learned views he should ensure that all the emergency services are 'on message'.

I was alone, left high and dry by the very people elected to help us. There was nothing else for it - I had to take the situation in hand. I tip-toed up to the note and gingerly picked it up. There was typed writing on it. Very clever - so we couldn't trace the handwriting, it said:

'Your windows were cleaned today - I will call back for payment later'

Bob the window cleaner is a terrorist? Oh no. They're everywhere! Parading as local handymen now, is there no level low enough that terrorists wont stoop to?

He's made an elementary mistake though in letting me know he would be back. He couldn't have picked a worse house to conduct his business - not everyone would have been as observant as Watski.

I'm going to ring the police today to get them to stake out the house.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Pay Per View

John Cleese has decided to set up his own blog where he will sit at home and write funny, autobiographical sketches two or 3 times a week charging lucky surfers $50/£27 for the priviledge.

Site on the internet? Funny sketches? Autobiographical? What a great idea - why didn't we all think of that? And charging for it as well.

In light of this, this site will now become pay per view.

Please make cheques payable to Watski. And send to: Watski, c/o Mansfield. It'll get to me.

Thanks for your understanding.

Friday, November 12, 2004

What goes around...

Whilst in the local Asda the other night I happened to see a girl I last saw when at school. The kind of person you see every day of your life for 5 years then forget about them forever until something reminds you.

Back then she was the school darling, an absolute stunner - to a testosterone fuelled teenager anyway. The girl that every boy fancied and fantasised over. Is 'fancy' a word that you stop using at school too?

I asked her to go ice skating with me once. It was the most romantic thing I could think of back then. She should have been thankful - it's more than CJ gets. It took me ages to pluck up the courage and she replied by saying that she was babysitting. Even back then I knew what a soft rejection was.

Humiliated, I never asked again. Everybody knew about it.

She's let herself go a little bit since back then. Haggard, pale and drawn, she was in the middle of an argument with her bulldog of a partner and a herd of screaming, crying kids running all around her.

I felt better.

I really should have got over it by now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Guy can Fawkes off!

Have they stopped?

Apologies for the lack of posts. It's down to the absence of an internet connection underneath the bed where the cat and I have been hiding from the fireworks. I don't even have a cat so I borrowed my Mothers so that I had an excuse to hide. Or at least some company, the cat wanted to leave on Monday but I wasn't so sure. But it was me that got a bit bored in the end due to the cat's limited conversation, there's not much interesting about mice, birds and the packet or can food debate.

I hate fireworks, there's nothing worse than being around grown men with small explosives. It's not that I hate fireworks, I probably hate the idea of fireworks more than I actually dislike fireworks - I just don't see any need to have them anywhere other than organised displays. And it always seems to be the men too - I can't ever remember seeing a woman setting light to something, other than CJ and that tea towel episode we still don't talk about. It must be similar to a car thing.

Organised fireworks parties I can understand. I'm all for them. I knew this years bonfire night wasn't going to go well when CJ and I turned up for the local pub's bonfire only to find the charred remains of an extravaganza that we were 24 hours late for. Call me daft but I was always taught that Guy Fawkes did his deed on the 5th. Not the 4th. Or the 6th. Or anyday in October.

On Saturday some wazark on the street decided he was going to set fire to an arms dump in his back garden. That can be the only explanation for the 20 minutes of banging. I thought we were being attacked. There were no whizzes, screeches and oohs and aaahs. His portfolio of fireworks extended to:

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

BANG!! 1 second gap

You get the idea. For about 20 minutes. No pretty colours. No oooohs. Just bang. And more bangs. I'll give him his dues though, it was pretty consistent - no long delays before the next big bang. His timing was immaculate. I bet his kids were thrilled with their Father's cleverness.

"Daddy, have you got any pretties?"

"No son, bangs are where it's at. The louder the better!"

I even got up off the settee at one point and had a look to see what the problem was, I fully expected to see a small infantry brigade scurrying down the street.

My neighbour seemed to have a response strategy rather than have an actual fireworks party of his own. His tact was to wait until he heard a bang in the vicinity before racing out of the house to set one of his rockets off before racing back in again, only to emerge again when anyone else had the temerity to challenge his stash.

I got up the next day to find my garden littered with sticks and blackened fireworks, the top of the car covered in some sort of ash and a shed full of grumpy hedgehogs with singed spikes who'd been woken up to early. The garden is a no go area in the winter as it is (due to frog potential) so they'll have to wait till spring before getting cleared.

Only 360 days to go till the next one. Can't wait.


Friday, November 05, 2004

DIY Dodger

The shelves of failed DIY are sat at the side of me in their packaging waiting to be put up. They are here to replace the previous incumbents of the space above my desk that gave up the ghost a couple of months ago.

The illness of the original shelves was a pretty terminal thing, every morning I would come downstairs and the shelves had thrown a few more books at the PC. There must have been a falling out that I wasnt aware of, but the shelves were obviously more sensitive about it and had taken it to heart a little more. It got to the point where I feared coming downstairs in case I found a kitchen knife piercing my screen, the car gone and the shelves nowhere to be seen. I had to split them up for their own good.

As a consequence there is now nothing above my PC except a space where something should be. Although it has been so long since something was there that it's not obvious that something is missing anymore - the space where something should be has now become a feature in its own right.

By covering the space with more shelves I would therefore be putting something where nothing used to be. And then i'd have to deal with that oddity until it became the norm. I like to think im saving myself the trauma, but im not. Im just saving myself the work.

I'd like to be the kind of person that would just observe the shelves coming to the end of their natural lives and then go out, buy some more and put them up. But I'm not, I talk myself out of these things and sit there thinking about the downsides of putting shelves up, the worst that could happen and the hassle it might be. And then there's always something else I need to do other than put the shelves up. Like writing about doing it for example. Or writing about not doing it. Or almost any other thing.

Im sure the reason I talk myself out of DIY at most opportunities is that i'm scared of getting to the point where im stuck doing a job but I cant put it back like it was before, and I dont have the knowledge to carry on and finish it properly. I can get by with basic DIY and I know my limits but am a little frightened of things cropping up that would flummox me to a point where I would have to leave it as it is and go on the internet instead.

Houses up and down the country are filled with DIY limbo points like this, they become sources of amusement, stuff of legend and then cited in divorce proceedings. Im not going to become a slave to failed DIY and fall down in peoples estimations. It's broken stronger people than me in the past, fuelled ridicule and caused them to move from the area and find a new life. I'd rather not bother in the first place. I'll just stand these books up in the corner of the room if it's all the same.

Putting shelves up is theoretically an easy job, even for a DIY dodger like me. But these shelves are in a little plaster board alcove, right by the main fuse box to the house. Theres a lot of fiddling to be done. And you can imagine the dilemma thats going off in my mind: the main pro-DIY gene is telling me that it'll be no problem, but the anti-DIY gene is sounding the electrical wires warning siren. And its loud. With electrics the first thing i would know of a problem with my DIY project would be when im lying on my back in the garden, clutching the drill tightly and twitching like a dying cat. No thank you.

At least I've been out and got the shelves though, i bought them last week. Its a start. Theyre actually leaning on the wall here next to me as i type this. I need to do it soon as the new shelves and the space where the old shelves were have now become good friends and are now ganging up on me. They remind me of my uselessness every time im in the house, looking at me and laughing at my weakness, whispering about me when im not listening and talking about me behind my back. Theres no respect there anymore. I need to split them up - this is becoming a DIY limbo.

Maybe this weekend it will happen. Or maybe not.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

In a pickle...

"Did you hear that there's going to be a world shortage of Branston pickle?..." said the lady in our office at the mid morning gossiping session.

I did, but I didn't want to stop her in her tracks.

"...apparently the factory that makes it has burnt down and there isn't enough stock to last until they start production again. Oh yes. They've even started selling it on ebay"

"I've never liked the stuff but I bought some just in case I might need it"

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Have yourselves a very merry Christmas...

I saw my first Christmas tree today...

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Self Harming

I used to play football a lot, on Saturdays and Sundays and then in the week.

Until last December.

I've been out of football since rupturing my ankle ligaments last December when I was doing the team a favour and playing in the goal. I wouldn't have minded if it was doing something brave or heroic, but there was nobody near me. I fell over. I did the same about 8 years ago when I fell over the ball and broke my other ankle. In fact, the only injuries I've ever had playing football have been self inflicted.

Since last December I've hardly done any exercise at all, mainly because the ankle wouldn't let me and also because I was enjoying wallowing in my own disability. I'd get off the settee, the ankle would twinge so I would sit back down, have another bar of chocolate and not feel guilty at all about it.

But I missed it, missed playing football, missed the banter, missed the niggles, missed getting stuck in, missed the after match drinks, missed falling over and injuring myself, etc. So I decided to get back in the swing and start training again.

I started off by doing a bit of running the other night, I did my stretching, started off very enthusiastically. It didn't last long. I thought the world was going to end after about 10 minutes - the ankle felt ok, but my lungs and my heart disagreed with my prognosis.

'Ooh I thought I felt a twinge there, we'd better stop' my lungs said

'Definitely, I felt something too, shouldn't we stop?' my heart agreed

'Lets make him stop' they said to each other.

So I did. And walked back home.

My ankle is the only thing that didn't ache the next day.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Taking the Piss

"Have you got anything I can do it in?" I shouted to CJ from the kitchen.

"I don't think I've got anything really" She shouted back in her best 'i have really but I'm not telling you where' voice.

"What about a cup or a glass?" I said, presenting myself at the kitchen door with one in each hand

"I'll wash it out afterwards"

"You're not peeing in my glasses" her head had turned towards me as she said it, meaning that she meant it.

I grabbed an empty water bottle and ran upstairs.

On the recommendation of everyone I bought a diabetic testing kit from Boots on Saturday. I wasn't quite sure whether to be embarrassed asking for it or not, so I did the condom buyers shuffle up and down the pharmacy counter waiting for the right moment to go up to the pretty assistant.

You could see them doing sweepstakes in their little booth, probably along the lines of:

"I'm sure he's going to ask for condoms"

"Nah, it'll be piles cream"

"You're all wrong, he's going to ask for herpes treatment"

*I'd like to point out in the interests of openness that I have none of above ailments by the way.

"Have you got any diabetic testing kits?" I asked, disappointing them all.

"Urine or blood?"

I wasn't sure what the question was here - urine or blood what?

"Err... urine, the last time I looked - but you never know"

"Do you want to test through urine or through blood?"

"Oh, I see. Urine. Yes urine please. I thought you meant..."

"No, it's the way of testing"

So there I am a little later on, stood in the bathroom with my trousers round my ankles with an empty water bottle in one hand and the diabetic testing box with the instructions on the back in the other.

Instruction 1: Urinate as usual into a container.

I don't know about you pal but it's not usual for me to pee into a container - but I'll give it a go. I put the box down and prepared to pee into the water bottle. I wasn't too sure that my aim would have been good enough as I was dying for a pee so decided to stand in the bath to limit any potential spillage.

If there is a more undignified position to be in than stood in a bath with your trousers round your ankles preparing to pee into an empty water bottle then I'm all ears. No wonder so many people have diabetes and don't know. They can't do with the trauma of testing themselves. If I'd have been caught then it would have taken me years to get my self respect back.

In mid pee I got a little anxious when it looked like I was going to pee more than the capacity of the bottle, luckliy i didn't. God only knows what I would have done. I don't want to think about it.

Instruction 2: Dip testing strip in urine.

I put my bottle of warm urine carefully on the side and opened the box to get the testing strip out. The first thing that falls out of the box is a small cup - for my peeing convenience no doubt. Why didn't I open the box first? Mind you, the cup was minute, I'm not quite sure who their usual testers are but if that a normal pee then I must pee a lot heftier than the usual wannabee diabetic.

But say that I used the cup: would I pee in the cup first and then divert aim into the toilet when it gets full or would I pee first and try and intercept the stream? There's a lot of splatter potential there - I think I made the best choice with the water bottle.

So now I'm stood in the bath with my trousers round my ankles decanting the pee from the empty water bottle into the small cup. I feel like an incontinent chemist. Taking one of the testing strips I then dip it into the cup.

Instruction 3: Wait one minute for result

It didn't turn green, which is more than can be said for CJ when she walked in. So I'm not diabetic, which was an anti-climax. After all that I expected to be something. Maybe the Gods thought I'd been through enough. There's another testing strip in the box for a second test to be taken one day after, but I don't think I can take the mental anguish. I'd rather not know.

Maybe I should have removed the half full bottle and full cup from the bathroom before CJ went in though.