While I’m struggling to find time to produce the follow up to my first book Me & Gus on the Roof of the World, Marion, one of my more productive relatives, has released her 4th. This one is another of her popular “Beginner’s Guides” which readers around the world have found incredibly useful. It’s called, as you can see from the cover above, A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness. From what I can make out, with my limited understanding of such things due to having a bloke’s brain, mindfulness is about finding peace through living in the moment. It explains that better than I can with a step-by-step guide to break it all down and has meditations and all sorts within its electronic covers. Check it out.
It’s available on Kindle for free for the next day or two so get downloading.
These are dangerous days…
Gangs draw up lists of girls to rape as proxy attacks on rivals
What the hell is happening to my country? I was no angel but this was unheard of among my peers. Within a single generation they seem to have gone feral.
Chris Hedges speech about Gaza: http://youtu.be/g1zsuTpczu0
This is a special entry for my award section ‘A Punch in the Face’. Usually it is reserved for individuals who have in some way provoked my ire; this time it’s for an entire group of people – those that wolf whistle.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a jealousy thing, I’m not bothered that nobody wolf whistles me, in fact I’m glad they don’t, it must be embarrassing being the whistlee, when everybody’s attention is brought to focus on you and, I would hope, even more humiliating for the friends(?), family and just about anybody who has ever come into contact with the whistler.
Wolf whistling just winds me up. For instance, I like 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, always good for a chortle or two. Why is it when they introduce Rachel Riley there is always some complete twat in the audience who wolf whistles really loudly? She’s a human being for crying out loud, not the object of your red-faced, tongue down to your knees, steam coming out of your ears, panting fantasy! Do you think that by making that noise she will turn around and ask you to call her? You sad little shit! Why don’t you whistle Susie Dent? Or Jimmy Carr? Okay I can see why you don’t whistle Joe Wilkinson.
Please, do the whole world a favour, next time someone in your vicinity wolf whistles, would you mind awarding them a punch in the face? Eventually, if enough of us punch wolf whistlers then word will get around that being an arsehole can be seriously hazardous to your health.
I know you think I’m grumpy, and often fly into a rant, but the truth is most of the time – probably around 90% of the time but who’s counting? – I’ve got a smile on my face. It might be because I’ve finally toppled over the edge into insanity, perhaps it’s because I’m lazy and found out that it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown, or perhaps I know a secret and I’m refusing to share it? Whatever the reason you might suspect for this irrational behaviour, the simple truth is: (drum roll) I’m happy!
Smiling fact: Smiling is good for you, it makes you feel good, it boosts your immune system (science), it’s more infectious than a virus and spreads from person to person lighting up the world. Even on a day like today where the rain is drumming against my window.
I haven’t any particular reason to be happy, apart from being alive, having a roof over my head and food in my belly, having friends, a family and a wife who doesn’t nag me too much – probably around 90% of the time but who’s counting? What’s not to smile about?
Smiling fact: Smiling is not learned a learned behaviour by babies, something picked up by watching their parents, they are born with the ability. Even babies born blind can smile.
I smile at everyone I meet, a particularly dangerous practice where I grew up because people think you’re taking the piss, but hell I do it anyway and smile even more if it winds them up! I smile at people who serve me in shops and in coffee shops and restaurants, why not? Their day is only made longer by serving people who are so miserable and self-involved that they can’t even raise a smile. Whereas if someone smiles at them and says thanks then it makes them smile too which they can pass on to their next customer. The customer then in turn takes that smile home with them and gives it to the rest of the family who will take it with them to school, work whatever! See how great this is?
Smiling fact: When you pass someone you know in the street and exchange greetings accompanied by a smile, there is a direct correlation between how much you like that person and the number of steps you take before you stop smiling. (Okay I made that up but I bet its true.)
So go on, hit the comments button and give me a smile like this : )
“When you’re smiling, when you’re smi-ling, the whoooole wooooorld smiiiiles wiiiiiith youuuuuuu.”
Evil beyond words!
Desperate to get away and clear my head after England rolled over for a belly tickle in the World Cup, I decided to head for a foreign country. I went to Wales. Some of you might be questioning the rationale of this move after the events I told you about from a previous venture over the border, when it was me versus a pub, but you know I don’t hold grudges.
I’d read about something called The Evo Triangle on a website that gives you information on the greatest driving roads in the UK (check out the link for info and photos of the route); I had to give it a go…
I found a hotel called Gwesty Ty Gorsaf in Blaenau Ffestiniog, a town famous for its slate industry. If you find yourself in the Gwynedd area then turn off the A5 onto the A470 and check it out. There’s also a steam train that runs from there down to Porthmadog.
I’d read some negative reviews about this hotel and its restaurant but let me set this straight right now: the rooms are comfortable, the staff are really friendly and can’t do enough for you and the food in the restaurant is superb – I couldn’t manage dessert because they feed you so well with the starter and main.
I sat in the bar watching Argentina v Iran with a decent pint of lager in front of me, trying desperately to shut out the wall of noise coming from a gaggle of local women who, as women do, all spoke at the same time oblivious to what the others were saying. It’s strange, why do they do that? When blokes talk they do it each in turn, listening to the opinions on offer before giving a response. Women just move their mouths continuously producing a drone punctuated by occasional shrieks which I take to be laughter; although what the difference is between that sound and the sound they make when stubbing a toe escapes me.
I had no idea what it was that they found so amusing because they were speaking in Welsh, a strangulated language that made it sound like they were taking it in turns to clear their throats. This is after all proper Wales where they speak Welsh as their first language and English only when trying to communicate with stupid foreigners like me. This is the language that was spoken in my country before the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians came over on holiday from Northern Germany and Southern Denmark and decided they liked it so much they’d stay. By the way, did you know that the name Wales is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning ‘strange’? Sums it up really. I’m only joking my friends, the Welsh are a proud race and on the whole nicer, friendlier and more honest folk you’d struggle to meet.
Anyway, lets cut to the chase as they say. After eating far too much breakfast, I headed out towards midday in bright, glorious sunshine to find this fabled route. Saying a fond farewell to the A470 I turned back onto the A5. Soon enough the turn for the A543 came up and I took it. All that stood between me and an open road were a tractor and rusting camper van which disappeared from my rear view mirror as I accelerated up this fantastic stretch of tarmac.
Between the fluffy white clouds the sky was the colour it was meant to be and the sun shone down like it was pleased to see me. The moors rolled away towards hills in the distance and as I crested a rise I saw a small lake with water the darkest navy blue. I didn’t want to interrupt the drive but I had to stop for a look and a breath of the clean air. As I was getting a lungful the camper van pulled in behind me and the middle-aged couple inside sat there unwrapping sandwiches. I waved to them but they chose to stare at me and not return the greeting. Their mouths had been turned down at the corners for so long that they had set in a permanent frown, even the enchanting vista around them couldn’t coax a smile. Sad!
The tractor lumbered past but I was soon passing him and heading off again. Several motorbikes passed me coming the other way, the bends it seemed were fun on two wheels as well as four.
A few miles later the sign for the B4501 came into view and I followed it. The moors gave way to a descent into a forest and the tall trees were a blur as I pushed on. I guess I should have been paying attention to the signs on the side of the road that indicated I should be aware of a new road surface and advising slowing down to 20mph. As the Queen song goes though “Don’t stop me now ’cause I’m having a good time…” Taking an easy right hander I realised I was no longer in control and the gravel was taking me sideways. My car usually grips the road like a limpet but now I was sliding towards a tree that would definitely bring a halt to both my progress and my enjoyment.
Friends, I still don’t know how I recovered from the slide, I’m just glad I didn’t brake because that would have been the end of me. I wrestled the wheel over and took my foot off the gas, as soon as I felt it straighten up underneath me I accelerated in a hail of gravel and dust, my heart beating like a drum roll and a string of expletives falling off my tongue.
I found another much larger lake off to my left which caused me to take a break once again, watching the sailing boats glide across the glistening surface they couldn’t have removed the huge grin from my face with surgery. You know one of those days when you think to yourself how good it is to be alive?
Back on the road and the A5 came into view way too soon. I followed it back across the border and all the way home to the Midlands.
A Welshman once proudly told me that Wales is God’s country. If the big fella is up there I honestly doubt He’d be Welsh but, on the other hand, He does seem to have put an extra bit of effort into creating their countryside.
This sad news has absolutely broken me. The world is a darker place without my mate Rick, my favourite blogger of all. I’ll miss you pal.
Originally posted on richardmax22:
At this time I would like to thank all you who have been following my husband Rick’s blog. He had a massive heart attack yesterday and died at age 68. I will miss Rick dearly and especially his funny sense of humor. He loved writing and always shared your comments with me. He was one in a million. He was a man of God so I know he is in heaven and maybe he’s bass fishing with his buddies who have gone on before him. Thank you all for following and enjoying his stories.
Before I start can I just say sorry for not posting for a while? I’ve been away for a couple of weeks in Europe but more on that at a future date.
For now I just wanted to talk about a battle of wills I have on occasion with Raffles the cat. Anyone who used to follow Bones’ Diary will know about his savage battles with Raffles, both vying for dominance over the house and the fact that Bones, the greedy little bugger, scoffs the cat food at any opportunity.
Raffles is asthmatic so every so often has to go to the vets for a steroid injection, today was one of those days…
I woke up with the sun straining at the curtains. I sat on the side of the bed and had my morning scratch, trying to remember what it was I had to do today. Switching on my phone and going to the calendar app reminded me: “Raffles – vet”. Oh no! I’d better warm up first. You see taking one of the cats to the vet is not the same as taking one of the dogs, no this was a whole new ball game: with a dog you get the lead out and they’re already at the door – they don’t care where they’re going, they’re just happy to be going.
A cat on the other hand is a much smarter animal, they know exactly where you’re taking them. Maybe they overhear you discussing it, maybe they listen in on the extension when you’re booking the appointment over the phone. However they find out they are nowhere to be seen. Millie was there, she knew it wasn’t her turn to go, but Raffles was hidden. No matter I’ll find him after breakfast.
About an hour and a bit later and I was fed, scrubbed and dressed. I’d done some stretches to make sure I wouldn’t suffer a muscle tear in the hunt and chase that was about to start. I moved as silently as I could across the landing, like a big game hunter combing the jungle for a glimpse of a tiger, and this was a big cat I was after. Mrs B had made sure the wardrobe where he likes to disappear into was securely shut so I knew he wasn’t in there. I looked behind the TV, under the beds and everywhere I could think of. Eventually I tracked him down to the back of an armchair in one of the bedrooms, a huge ball of marmalade coloured fluff. That was the easy bit.
A dog you can coax with a treat, not a cat – Raffles regarded me with contempt as I tried to bribe him into coming out. He turned his head away from me when I called his name in a sing-songy way, in what I thought might sound friendly. He knew he was out of reach and even when I got close at full stretch he contemptuously swatted my hand away with a swing of a large white paw.
As the chair was wedged in tight between the bed and chest of drawers it would be too much trouble and effort to drag it out of the way only for him to bolt. I would have to try something a little more extreme. I have a stick, well it’s more of a club really, I keep it as a warm welcome just in case we receive particularly unwelcome nocturnal visitors. No, don’t worry, I’m not about to describe knocking the cat cold and dragging him out; although it would have been quicker and easier! I simply tapped the floor next to his big backside to make him reconsider his position. Out he came, only to settle down under the adjacent bed.
Down on my belly and crawling into the dark I started to regret, not for the first time, ever visiting the cat rescue shelter where we first met him. “It’s for your own good you ungrateful little turd.” He remained unconvinced and just as I reached him he ran past my head and slapped my face with his tail, just to add a little insult to my impending injury if I got stuck under there.
Crawling backwards from under the bed and cursing his name I struggled back to my feet and set off in his wake, remembering to shut the door after me, don’t want him going back in there. When I reached the landing all was quiet so I tried the next room. he was sitting under the desk watching me walk in, looking smug. I moved the chair out of the way and got down on my hands and knees but it was waste of time and effort as he flew past me once more.
Dragging myself wearily to my feet I set off after him once again, chewing myself out this time for not closing the door after me when I entered the room and so cutting off his escape. I wouldn’t make that same mistake twice as I entered the next room and pulled the door shut. No escape this time you slippery ginger swine, and luckily this was the room where I’d left the cat box on the bed ready for transport. Chasing him back and forth around and over the bed ensued and continued for the next five to ten minutes. My breath getting shorter all the time. “Come on Raff, you’re supposed to be asthmatic for f***s sake!”
Eventually I managed to corner him and get both hands around his considerable girth. Now all I had to do was back him into the box and unhook his claws from the bedspread he dragged in there with him.
We got to the vet’s five minutes late but there was only an old lady and her granddaughter in there so me and Raffles sat down to wait. The door to the treatment room opened and out came the little girl’s mother, crying her eyes out and holding the now empty collar that obviously used to surround the neck of the family dog. The grandmother started crying too and when the little girl asked “Mommy, why are you both so sad?” I must admit I felt a bit choked up myself.
When I got home and I released the beast from his box, whereupon he shot up the stairs to find another dark corner to hide, in case I changed my mind and took him back for another jab, I called my three dogs to me: Jessie, Alfie and Bones. Hugs all around and a silent thank you that their collars remained full.