Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mika Breaks Wigley!

Just got home from an awesome weekend spent in Wigley. Matt White, Matt Leeder, Christina, Michelle and I went to see Roland and Joan (Michelle's mum and dad) in their beautiful house up North (Christina took the opportunity to practice her Northern accent - it probably has to be heard to be believed). It was a really nice weekend and although weather conditions left many of our plans scuppered, we were still able to produce this work of absolute genius on the Sunday (credit to Matt L for his editing skills):

All in all, a pretty productive weekend methinks.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My New Phone - Sexy But Useless!

Earlier this week, I got myself a new phone. It's very attractive. It's colourful, it's slim and holding it makes me ever so slightly happier.

The problem is that, like so much in this day and age, my sexy new phone, despite being aesthetically pleasing, doesn't have a great deal going on upstairs.

Let me explain.

For the past year, I have been using this phone. It has served me reasonably well for the past 13 or so months but last weekend, it decided to up and die on me. Bit by bit, it just collapsed. Imagine a mobile phone having a stroke - it was something like that. First of all, it was just the downwards button that didn't work. Slightly annoying but I could live with it. Then the cancel button stopped working so that if I were, for example, writing a text (I can hear all those that know me scoffing but let's just imagine), and I made a mistake, I was unable to correct that mistake and would therefore have to go back to the main phone screen and start again. Then, my phone entered new realms of weirdness by allowing me to receive calls and speak to the person on the other end without allowing me to hear them. I was having to answer the phone like this:

"Hello? Hi, I know you can hear me but I'm afraid I can't hear you. This is all one way over here. I'm not entirely sure what's going on. Just some new development in my cutting edge, state of the art mobile telephone. I can walk and speak to you, I just can't hear you. I know you might be trying to say stuff now but don't bother coz I'm just getting silence through the earpiece. Maybe these new fangled things require some special attachment to enable a two-way conversation. Who knows? Anyway, if you're still there, may I recommend you phone the house phone. The number is...."

After that, piece by piece and button by button, my phone just stopped working until Tuesday morning at 09.14 the screen went blank and my ailing phone passed on. So, after an extensive mourning period, I went out Tuesday afternoon and bought myself my new phone.

Now here's the problem (and I do hope you've stuck around long enough to read this because this is the important bit). Because my old phone has died and all my numbers were saved on the phone (and yes I know I should've saved them onto my SIM card - thank you for your hindsight), I have lost all my contact details. Which is why my good looking new phone is is not a great deal of use right now.

So I write this blog to ask a favour of you all. If you have my number and feel that I should have yours, please send me a text with your name in it so that I can build my contacts back up.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Have Passed Test - Now Will Someone Please Teach Me to Drive!?!

So about a week and a half ago, while I was skipping back and forth within my timeline, I passed my driving test. Woo hoo! I did pretty well. First attempt and I only got four minors (four measly minors). So I've been feeling pretty good as you might imagine. Having passed my test, my job (specifically the travelling from school to school bit) is going to be one heck of a lot easier. I won't have to rely on friends, family and colleagues to cart me around the place. I am now one step closer to independence. All I need now is a car. I have passed my test and all is well.

There's one slight problem though.

It turns out that I can't actually drive.

On Monday, I was at Straight Ahead (North East London Divisional Youth Chorus to all you salvos (some choir to everyone else)) practice in Romford. The deal was that I would make my way there with Paul Leverett (the awesome bassist of the cutting edge and convention defying band Electralyte to all you Christian rock band enthusiasts (some bloke that plays bass to everyone else)) and then I'd get to drive back. Excellent. It might seem pretty trivial to all you drivers but I'd never done that trip before and I was pretty excited about it. After the practice had finished, a small group of us decided to get something to eat and Christina and I were sent out to reserve the table. She said I could drive. Yesss.

I was eager to get out fairly soon as I didn't want an audience watching me ready to make their judgments on my newly recognised driving skills. So Christina and I left as soon as we could and got in the car. The car was facing the fence, next to Paul's (you remember - the bassist) car and needed a simple reverse maneuver to slide out and get out of the carpark. Easy right?


I thought so too.

I got in the car, positioned the chair, did all the safety and mirror checks and started the engine. So far, so good. Just as I was getting ready to move, another car was coming towards us from my right. I'd let them go. Nope. They were going to let me go. Ok. I had a bit of an audience now but that's ok. They could watch. Let them see how someone who only got four minors in their driving test does it. Christina was next to me to support me and see me through the process. She knew from experience that reversing was not yet my forte. But that's ok. This was going to be different. I now knew the key to reversing was to always remember to look out the back window and not to try and maneuver backwards with the solitary visual aid of my rearview mirror. As long as I did this and as long as I took it nice and slowly, I was going to be fine. I would just reverse out and be on my way. So I checked all my mirrors again, shifted in my seat, made sure I had a clear view of the back window and slowly lifted my foot off the clutch.

We lurched forward.

Apparently another key to reversing is to put the car into reverse. Who'd have thought?

Ok, so I'd made a bit of a mistake and the car that was waiting for me had seen it. But that was fine. Everyone does it at some point. So I laughed it off, put the car into reverse and tried again. By this point, a few people were starting to leave the hall and enter the carpark. My audience was expanding. Ok, so here we go again. Mirrors, shift, back window, car definitely in reverse, foot off clutch. Flippin' yesssss. We were going backwards. I'd have celebrated even more had I known that this was pretty much as good as it was going to get. Keeping my eyes carefully fixed behind me, I started to turn the car. This was going well. I was nowhere near the wall. I could make a smooth turn out and leave everyone feeling suitably impressed.


I stopped. Apparently, despite my back end being very deliberately and carefully clear of any obstacles, my front end was worryingly close to Paul's car. Christina gently warned me that I was little close (the "STOP!!!" didn't come from Christina by the way. She is, without doubt, the best person to be in the car with when you're a new driver. I'm not sure where the "STOP!!!" came from). Paul, who had by this point joined the audience and was now quite keen, for obvious reasons, to take more of an active role in the proceedings, asked (surprisingly graciously) if it would be at all possible for me to position the car so that it wasn't actually touching his before I continued to swing into his back door. "No worries" Christina reassured me, "we'll just go forward a bit and get into a better position". So I went forward a bit. But I certainly did not feel in any way that I was in a better position. I was at a really odd angle, lodged somewhere between the fence and Paul's car. Reversing would send me back into the car. Foward and I'm in a fence. Christina suggested that I reverse the other way into an emptier part of the carpark and attempt to turn round there.

"You don't want to do that mate" Jon Mitson, suddenly appearing at my window, told me I had to reverse and then swing right. So I tried that. Great. Except now I was at the other end of Paul's car inbetween that and a brick wall. Brilliant. I reversed a bit but I was too close to the wall. I pulled forward a bit but I was too close to Paul's car. I reversed a bit, trying to go right. I went forward a bit, trying to go left. Back and right. Forward and left. Back. Forward. This is not going well. The audience I was so keen to avoid had grown to accomodate most members of the Salvation Army within the UK. Thousands of people were eagerly watching me as I Austin Powered my way out of the car park. Forward. Left. Back. Right. Everyone's watching. Oh crap. I'm starting to panic. Stop watching. Forward and left. Back and... yup! It's happened. I've forgotten which way I need to steer to go in the directon I want to go. I want to go that way. Is that left? Man, I can't even remember which way that way is. What if I turn the steering wheel this way? Nope. Going in the wrong direction. I'll try turning it the other way. HOW AM I STILL GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!!!?! A commitee has now formed to discuss ways of getting me out of the car park. "Turn the wheel all the way round", "No - the other way", "Go forward", "Go back", "You're good, now you can go forward", "No don't you'll hit the car". STOP HELPING!!! Christina takes the steering wheel and does some weird kind of magic with it. Good, we're going in the right direction. Christina can steer. I'll just go back and forward. Back. Forward. Back. No that's forward again. The "Get the Moron Out of the Stinkin' Car Park" committee have now given up all hope of ever getting home and form a sub-committee to set up tents. Forward. Back. Forback. What?! Argh!!

So eventually I make a smooth turn out and leave everyone feeling suitably impressed. We pass Matt White who looks like he could do with sitting down and counting to ten before talking to me next (did I mention that it was his car?). So Christina and I get to Nando's but were too late to book a table so we all had to eat at Frankie and Benny's instead.

As we left and headed toward the car, I held the car key out to Matt in such a way so as to communicate that I didn't feel I deserved to drive the car home as had previously been agreed. I knew I'd have to insist despite all the pep talk the group would give me about getting back on the horse. I knew I would have to answer the concerned questions of "are you sure you don't want to give it a try?" by looking down at my feet and nodding my head humbly.

Well none of these things were spoken but I'm sure we were all thinking it as Matt quickly grabbed the key from my open palm and hopped in the driver's seat.

Hmm. Might be a bit too soon to start up my own chauffeuring business.

Back to the Future.

Ok so Mel was right. This whole going back in time thing was a stupid idea. There have been so many things that I've wanted to blog about which I haven't been able to because I'm in the past and then when it does get to the right point one week later, it's not such a big deal anymore. So this is me firing up the flux capacitor and travelling back to the 23rd May 2007.

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This Time Last Week...Part 2

Wow. What a manic week! (Thanks John). I've had a really busy few days. And have so many stories...

(Seriously, this whole going back in time thing has flopped completely. I should have just blogged about ROOTS this time last week and been done with it - so that's what I'm going to do now)

Ok, so had a good time at ROOTS. Filled with foam fingers, big tents and, er, being in Southport. Some highlights of the weekend (in brief):

1) The music

2) The speaking

3) The dancing (I wasn't quite expecting this last one either but the rhythm got me)

I know I said I had so many stories but it's been a while now (even for someone who has gone back in time one week) and they're pretty long stories as well as numerous and I'm running out of time and quite frankly, despite the length and number, they're not overly interesting. So I'll spare you.

This time travelling has not worked out as planned.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This Time Last Week...Part 1.

Wow. What a manic week (should that sentence be finished with a question mark? It's more of an exclamation than a question but is that grammatically correct? The burden of my linguistic curiosities often weighs me down)./?/!

I've had a really busy few days. And I have so many stories. And, whilst I would quite like to do them justice, I am painfully aware that doing so could result in the boredom of many. So I have decided to set my blog back a week and spend a little time each day reflecting on the events of 7 days ago. So ladies and gentlemen, if you will permit me, allow me to take you back to Thursday 3rd May 2007 (following "permit me" directly with "allow me" seems strange. Should I have done that? Oh the questions):

I'm in the car with Matt Leeder on our way to ROOTS (I'm not sure why exactly but this always has to be spelt with capital letters) as we while away the miles talking, laughing at weird town names and working our way through a packet of Minstrels and some Haribo. Actually, looking at the time, that's not true. Scratch that.

I've just got in after having "delivered" some lessons on environmentalism at St Peter's school. I put the "delivered" in inverted commas as "delivered" probably isn't the best word to use. It was more like thinking about the lesson that I had planned whilst the four seperate year 7 classes entertained themselves with a variety of impromptu activities. Discussions of recycling, resource consumption and lifestyle choices soon gave way to the more important tasks of chatting, drawing, calling out film quotes ("my tiny nipples went to France") and experimenting with how long you can aggravate the class by spraying Lynx before someone hurls you out the window. I was reminded by one of the teachers afterwards that it's a rough school and that I shouldn't beat myself up about it but you can't help leaving things like that feeling like the worst teacher slash schoolsworker in the world (hmm, probably didn't need to spell out "slash"). I guess I just have to find better ways of engaging kids with such behavioural issues. One of the RE teachers gave me a few handy tips.

Anyway, time for ROOTS. I'm just finishing off the packing while I wait for Matt Leeder to come and pick me up. I should probably get some sweets for the journey. Hmm, wander what I'll get.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Terracotta Chinese Weeing Man.

This poem is dedicated to Andrew and Verity (Leonard) Hill for their brilliant but impotent gift:

Terracotta Chinese weeing man,
I look at you with your bowler hat and briefcase
And I ask “how can one so posh be oh so rude?”
You’re smart in part but also nude
Oh terracotta Chinese weeing man,
Will you wee for me?

How do you work terracotta Chinese weeing man?
We have tried and tried to fill you up
But over and over you disappoint.
Oh Andy and V do you like mocking me with stories of wee?
Oh terracotta Chinese weeing man,
Will you wee for me?

Terracotta Chinese weeing man,
If one should see such novelty at Southend Beach
We would surely call thee obscene.
But you are from China terracotta Chinese weeing man
So we label thee “CULTURE?”
Oh terracotta Chinese weeing man,
Will you wee for me?

Such look of surprise terracotta Chinese weeing man
It’s as if thee does not expect to wee
But why then surprise for you do not wee
No wee for thee nor me nor V
Andy you said he would work, you said he would wee
Oh terracotta Chinese weeing man,
Will you wee for me?

Terracotta Chinese weeing man,
You stand and stare and I despair
For you are naught but ornament to me
I will think of thee on the lavatory,
Doing what you could not be
Oh terracotta Chinese weeing man,
I will wee for thee.