The Diary of a Commuter

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Number Crunching

I'm a great believer in karma, and so far it seems to be a system that works. At a recent house party a girl whom I'd never met before asked me a question I've never been asked before. I did, however, have the answer immediately to hand. The question she asked me was this - "What's your mantra?” Not the usual opening gambit for a conversation I grant you, but what surprised me more was my almost immediate response. I said, "Always do the right thing."

Now I'm not suggesting for one minute that everything I’ve ever done in my life is the right thing, in I can categorically state that most of the decisions I took in my formative years were very probably the wrong thing. However as I have begun to approach middle age I feel myself moving much more towards a benevolent state of mind, perhaps facilitated by having kids, a bit more worldly knowledge or probably a bit more cash.

This tenuously leads into the point of this particular blog, which is this - my new Audi has a tow bar, and it almost annoys the hell out of me. The reason it almost annoys the hell out of me is that it is conveniently placed at exactly the right height to ensure that I totally and perfectly destroy other motorists front number plates whilst reversing into the extremely hard to find and very tight parking spaces to be found around 7.45am near Herne Hill Station.

Each time I have done this (and I've done it quite a lot), I have left a note apologising, offering to pay and of course leaving my mobile number. Most of the time people get in touch, glad of my honesty. On some occasions however I hear nothing, presumably because they think I’m mental.

The point is I've found that going through this strange little circle of events has begun to create inside me an enormous sense of well being, and it all feels rather good.

I suppose I should simply remove the tow bar, but then that would mess up the karma, wouldn't it?

Friday, 18 May 2007

Can I See The Wine List Please?

It’s frightening how quickly the time is flying by. Things are really beginning to change with our little girl and change quickly. Each day seems to bring some new development, a new look or expression, a slightly different tone of squeal, and more and more giggling. A personality is slowly emerging; piece-by-piece she is becoming a person. As I looked at Jess this morning, it seems that she’s taking everything in, yet there must surely be a stage at which memories begin to be properly recorded, and I wondered when that happens. I tried today to recall my earliest memory. I can’t seem to get beyond riding my old red bike up and down the street outside our house as a child, about the age of three or four. Still, it would seem that everything going on around her at the moment, from sights and sounds to the feel of the wind on her face is being stored onto her internal hard disk for some unknown use at a later date. Anyway, today was a big day in the culinary department, for today she got her first taste of solid food. Well, more like mushed up, less runny food, but still a hell of a lot tastier than milk. She got puréed sweet potato for her maiden voyage into grown up tucker, and mighty tasty it was too (well, I had to try it). Her initial expression, as we spooned it lovingly into her cake hole, was one of sheer disgust. Then she chomped a bit, then a bit more, and we watched that expression turn quickly to her usual one of bemused joy. By the end of the meal (approx 10 spoonfuls) it quickly became clear that this was going to be a slightly messier yet much more enjoyable experience for both her and us.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

It’s a Swindle

Disaster. The buggy has broken down. No less than 3 ½ months old and already it’s had to slink off down the paternal pit lane. The 360 swivel front wheel has decided to relinquish the only responsibility of which it was asked, which was to swivel. The news came whilst returning from the corner shop with the morning papers. From smooth flowing front wheel action to knackered supermarket trolley action in the space of 150 yards. No problem, I thought – it’s obviously still under guarantee, I’ll just phone the shop and all will be well.

Or so I thought.

It turns out that it has certain components which conveniently fall outside the conditions of the guarantee, under a mysterious category known as “maintenance”. To be more specific, the front wheel. “The 360 swivel front wheel is not included in the guarantee sir, it’s your responsibility,” said the man at the shop. “Well how am I supposed to fix it,” I replied, “there are less complicated combustion engines.”
“You will find an Alan key was provided with the product upon delivery sir,” he went on “this should be sufficient to fix any maintenance related issues.”

I’m not sure what “product” he was referring to, but it definitely wasn’t the nightmare of nuts, bolts and cogs I was currently wrestling with. Imagine trying to crack Fort Knox armed only with a cocktail sausage. It was worse. Added to which was the sheer hilarity of not being able to find a single component with which the Alan key would actually fit. All this inevitably ended with a second, slightly more heated phone call to the increasingly annoying man at the shop who cheerfully informed me that they had an engineer on site whose job was specifically to fix the wobbly front wheels that aren’t covered by the guarantee and that always occur on this particular model, usually about 3 ½ months after purchase.

“How much?” I groaned.
“Ninety pounds plus VAT sir.”
“Tell me about the Alan key again”

Grumpy Old Dad Part 1

In contrast to the previous article, I get infuriated by people who use mobile phones loudly and unnecessarily on public transport. Why are some people incapable of enduring a 15 minute bus/train journey without feeling compelled to call everyone in their contacts list to talk loud, incessant and inane drivel. Is it because their brains are devoid of independent thought, or is it because they wish to seem popular or important.

It's ludicrous and more to the point extremely annoying. Stop it.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

It's Good To Talk

Today I was very pleasant to a shopkeeper, and she looked at me as if I was insane.

I always try to make a concerted effort wherever possible to be nice to people. However, this does not always have the desired effect, and can often provoke a reaction nothing short of suspicious. I believe the reason for this mistrust in based around two factors:

1. We now live in a society where people have more access to free information than ever before, without ever having to speak (and therefore be courteous to) an actual living person. We communicate with work colleagues by msn, friends by facebook, family by text message, we buy our groceries online and reach out to complete strangers via myspace. We are becoming less and less interested in using the art of speech, which is resulting in a genuine mistrust of simple honest genial face-to-face pleasantness.

2. People think that you’re taking the p*ss.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Technicolor Yawn

Today was a landmark day in projectile vomiting. It’s not just the volume, girth and sheer distance we’re talking about here either. It’s the fact that Jess (our 0 year old) did it straight over my face and chest in the middle of the estate agents during a meeting with our mortgage advisor. I found the funny side, half an hour after everybody else in the room. The trouble is, when you take a baby out with you during the day, you have a 2 hour window of opportunity to achieve your task, before it’s time for one of any number of squidgy events. In this instance I had to feed her during the meeting leaving Mummy to deal with the mortgage advisor, which suited me. There I was, proudly the responsible father, feeding and winding my princess on one of their posh leather sofas, when I get it straight between the eyes once again.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Thin & Crispy With Extra Booze, Please

When you’ve just had a baby there are two types of visitors, those who have kids themselves and those who do not. The ones who know what it’s like to have kids will instantly head straight to the kitchen – sleeves rolled up, kettle on, what can I do to help? Visitors who are yet to spawn will usually sit there dumbstruck. If you hand the baby to them they go white with fear and hand her back immediately, and the sight of a nappy being changed is a cue to scarper. It’s a cliché but the thing about not knowing what it’ll be like until it happens to you is the best there is. A recent father gave me a great tip last week, which kind of sums it up. If you wish to visit friends who have recently sprogged, either turn up with a take-a-way pizza and a pack of cold lagers or forget it.

Mind Your Head

There were lots of cool things around for kids when I was born. Space Hoppers, Sherbet Dip, Tin Can Alley and The Grifter (the thinking man’s Chopper). One of the things that they definitely didn’t have was cranial osteopathy, at least not down our way. Times change however, and today I took our little princess to have her bonce inspected. Homeopathy has made a big comeback recently, and lots of our friends had recommended having a cranial osteopath examine her noodle as soon after birth as possible. Baby’s heads do funny things as they’re being born. The skull plates kind of fold under each other to allow safe passage out, and they arrive with a kind of squidgy head. Apparently a good cranial osteopath can perform a marvellously delicate massage which helps guide all the bits back into the right place.The journey there was an event in itself. It was just Jess and myself (Becca was having some well earned girl-time at the hairdressers). Off I trotted with my bag full of wipes, nappies and two million other things you need for a trip round the block. I can’t deny it was a very relaxing experience watching Jess have her head gently kneaded, the soft lights and the music was rather lovely. Jess certainly seemed to enjoy it, and when it was time to leave I promptly paid and we both left feeling great, if only a little flummoxed as to what on earth the whole thing had been about. Still, you live and learn. Well you live at any rate.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Once More Unto The Audi

It seems a strange thing to start a blog with, but the bank holiday is looming and I need a haircut. I am a man who likes to enjoy the best things in life, and wherever possible I will insist on quality before price every time. However when it comes to haircuts something has definately changed.

A haircut for me means popping to my local salon in East Dulwich where I can expect a deluxe 1 hour experience. Coffee, a consultation, shampoo, condition, massage, cut, blowdry, hair gloop, a warm atmosphere and a cold beer. For this I am cheerfully fleeced of £40.

However due to time restrictions during a recent lunch, I needed a cut, and I needed it fast. I was advised by a Advertising Director client of mine that there was a perfectly good barbers near my office that he used all the time. I turned up to a tiny turkish shop where nobody spoke a word of english. Using the international language of hair signing I successfully managed to convey my "style", whereupon the good barber proceeded to give me exactly the same cut I usually get for £40 an hour, but in 5 minutes for £5.

Now, call me old fashioned...

The bank holiday looms. Just when I thought it was safe to mooch about in the garden Mummy has just informed me that we have 372 kids birthday parties to attend followed by a 3 day tour of the south coast...

Once more unto the Audi my loves...