Friday, 25 May 2012

The day that Mr Parker had a rail encounter.

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Before I start, it is worth noting that I am writing about this many years after is occurred, merely to tell an individual (Chris Lake) about the event. If you are not Lakey and you do not want to know then nobody will judge you for leaving now, you snivelling little quitter.

It all started with a Land Rover which I was given as a wedding present. That sounds like an extravagant wedding gift, but it really was not, it was a rusted out 1975 Series Three with 3 engines, none of which, it eventually transpired, was ever likely to work again.

The result of this is that I spent 3 months and several thousand pounds rebuilding her and putting a transit engine in, during which time I stayed with my parents. Staying with parents does not have the same connotations when you have your own home and a wife and *quick maths* a child (I guess the second one was on the way, but we did not know that yet), but it can, none-the-less, become a little tiring after prolonged exposure. With this in mind we called upon the visiting whirlwind that was Matthew Parker. These days he is just plain old 'Matt Vahiboglu', but back then he had panache!

Anyway, long story short, he visited, it was fun, he went home again and, and let's not mess about, this is where it gets interesting, he went home . . . BY TRAIN!

My guess is that most of you have left by now, but if you haven't then you should know that this is not going to get a great deal more interesting any time soon. In fact, just to make sure, I am going to toddle off to a train-spotting forum and find out some mindbogglingly uninteresting and unnecessary detail for you.

Eggesford station with a 142 Pacer.

We drove Matt to Eggesford railway station and waited for the train to arrive. When it finally rolled in it turned out to be a British Rail class 142 Pacer diesel with multiple units. It also was almost entirely empty. I mean to say, it probably had its full compliment of:
  • 1 driver
  • 1 train manager (or conductor as we called them back then)
The train rolled past us down the platform towards the unmanned hut where the token exchange is now carried out by the driver, since Kate Low took the signal box away back when I was a mere teenager in 1989 and it is now at Wembworthy Outward Bound Centre. The box design was the BR Western Region standard prefabricated box (SRS code Type 37a) irreverently known in some quarters as a 'plywood wonder'. The conductor/guard is also required to operate the level crossing at the station as well as this is not automatic.

It was clear to those of us on the platform that the entire train contained only one passenger, a slim, blonde. beautiful young woman, sitting alone at a table. Matt was the only person boarding the train at this point. As this was a post-'90s 142, the existing 2+3 bench style bus seats had been updated to Chapman bespoke high backed seats in the 2+2 layout on the Tarka line, standard class throughout with seats arranged in twos either side of a centre aisle. In each carriage there are 10 bays with seats around a table, with the remaining seats arranged face-to-back.

The young lady in question was sitting in seat 52, against the window on the platform side of the southbound train, this being a table seat. We jested to the effect that Mat was 'well in there', what with having her to himself and a whole train to play with and, Matt being Matt, he bid us adieu, climbed aboard the carriage and approached the young lady, asking 'Is this seat taken?' before seating himself between her and the aisle.

This caused much amusement on the platform, although not nearly as much as when, with the train just beginning to pull out of the station, the young lady's beau returned from the toilet and, finding his place filled, was forced to take up a station opposite Mr P (as was).

That is the end of my story, but, as best man for Matt and Ayse, I did promise to those who were listening to my dreary speech that I would recount the tale, should they ever ask. Now I need only point them here.

I maintain that he could have found a better best man,

Next week: something less dull (although it was incredibly amusing at the time) and here is a picture of the little mermaid:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A list of things that I like.

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Young @Dotmund posted a list of things he likes over on his marvellous blog. It was slightly touching. Then @LollyGee tweeted a list of things that she likes and so, being devoid of independent thought, I have jumped on this wagon, along with the cello player and the git with the triangle who is always trying to get off with the Tuba player's wife.

  1. Half melted jelly cubes.
  2. Huge destructive waves
  3. Sheets of rain falling, just beyond my shelter
  4. The smile of a stranger
  5. The feel of clean, fresh linen
  6. Rocks
  7. sand-ground glass on the beach
  8. Watching hens
  9. Rain on a hot day
  10. Mayonnaise
  11. Words
  12. FIRE!
  13. Cricket
  14. lapsang souchong
  15. Science and BEES!

@LollyGee eschews technology

@benjaminmurdoch loves stationary

@gazbeirne is no technophobe

@and_armstrong is not frightened of titties

@sinistergiraffe reminds me of my old dog, Fred. Always a keen farter.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Git in a car.

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So, coming up Topsham Road in the right lane (to turn right), this chap tries to overtake me approaching the lights then, because a car is coming the other way, pushes me back into the middle lane where I am sandwiched between him and another car and have to stop. This is the most dangerous part of this, although not the most scary.

I pass him going up Southernhay and he immediately tries to get past me again, despite a Porsche being right in front of me. I make myself wide (we are approaching parked cars and I need to go around them) and took up my whole lane. This enraged him (despite the fact that I was going faster than him at this point) and so he accelerates towards me, spinning his wheels and leaning on his horn. #

Breaking at the last minute (I am looking back and scared now - this is deliberate aggression) he drops back and repeats the manoeuvre, this time I think scaring himself, as he gets so close I cannot see tarmac between my panniers and his bumper. At least I hope he scared himself. He then span his wheels, went onto the wrong side of the road, by the merge point and shot off up the road, about 2 car lengths to the Porsche.

He then stops his car (at his destination, about 50 yards on) and jumps out, stomping back to me to begin shouting at me about how 'next time he will hit me' (possibly not a threat of violence, just of driving issues, but I was scared, this is a big fat heavy man) and how he wants my name to call the police. I gave him my name, because him calling the police should end well, but he keeps ranting.

He invites me to take his registration number but also keeps waving his coat in front of it as I try to photograph it.

Lastly, he calls me a fool. This is the bit that makes this so amusing as he is wearing clown shoes. Actual clown shoes. One red with a green toecap, the other green with a red toecap. And he calls me a fool.

So, this is just a rant, but if you are cycling and see this Passat coming up behind you, don't worry about who is right, get out the way - he is an aggressive and dangerous driver wearing footwear ill-suited to controlling a motor vehicle.

I was scared by his aggressive approach and genuinely feared for my life because of his deliberate aggressive driving. He had no respect or concern for vulnerable road users, was only seconds from his destination and, I am sorry to say, a bit of a nob.

Here endeth the rant.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The vasectomy revisited.

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My blog is light hearted and, on occasion, witty.

This post is not really so much fun, so if you do not want to accept the reality of a more serious and dour Manley then please, move on.

Three and a half years ago, I had a vasectomy. That post links to a whole host of others documenting my preparation, fears and reasoning, none of which I need to go into here, but we can assume that it was not something I went into lightly and we, as a couple, were fully committed to the idea that 3 daughters were enough and we did not need to have and more children.

There were concerns, I will not pretend that there were not. What if Jim dies and my new wife (because, let's face it, I am a good looking man and I'd get one at the drop of a hat!) wanted children? Should we store some of my little soldiers against the possibility of some future change of heart? The usual sort of things, but we decided that permanent sterilisation was the best answer for us and, given the relative complications of the two options, it seemed obvious to us that I would be the one to suffer the pain and indignity.

So, we did it. Or rather, I did it.

It hurt. Not for a couple of days, like I was told it would, but for ages. I did not go mountain biking for over a year. You should, however, not let that put you off. I had complications which were not serious, but were very, very rare and it did get completely better and was definitely better than a year of condom usage.

That said, there are consequences which I had never even considered.

As I am writing this I am unsure as to whether I am going to actually post it - I think my approach will be to write it all and then decide. If you read this then you probably will think 'yeah right!' because I will have, but . . . enough of that nonsense - if you are reading it then obviously I have, so let's just press on. (if you are not reading it then, quick! Sloths!

One of the reasons we were so sure that we wanted to become a permanently sterile couple was that Jim had very difficult pregnancies (none of the obvious stuff people can see, but a lot of problems during and after, which it is not my place to relate) and is physically not up to another.

So basically, I still do not want more pregnancies and suspect that I never shall. I stand by our decision to become a sterile couple and, even with the complications, the procedure was worth it when assessed against the huge added convenience which it offers for our lifestyle.

But . . .

(and that is a big butt)

. . . despite every 'jaffa' man who I have ever spoken to advising me to have the procedure, I would not recommend it to anyone.

It is hard to say this without seeming a bit pathetic and, on a purely logical basis I do not believe that it is appropriate, but the profound effect it has had on my life means that I want to warn others of it. I feel like less of a man.

I have no potential any more. I cannot make more life and the human race will no longer be any different for my continued existence (assuming I do not go back to war or decide to build a bomb in my shed, which seems probable - I am not really that way inclined).

I am not sure how to expand upon that - physically nothing has changed - certainly there has been no problem on the retarded virility front - but I feel rather pointless since the op and, frankly, it makes me miserable pretty much all the time.

I was going to extrapolate further, but I have pretty much decided that I am only writing this for me now, so I will not, but if you see this then please reconsider. I never imagined that I was the sort of man who cared about this sort of thing - I am revoltingly male in many ways, but it is not terribly important to me. What is important, it seems, is the potential I had and which I have allowed to be taken from me and, if you do read this (and, having said this, maybe I will share it - peradventure people should know?) please think about it more carefully than you have.

How can I explain?

Many young women, pre-pregnancy, are not very maternal and, whilst they might think of having children 'one day' they do not really think of themselves as ever being particularly 'mumsie'. Then, when they have a child, they change and start being excited by other people's pregnancies and delighting in the company of children. I, similarly, have changed from not caring whether or not I was fertile (I strongly suspected that I was not before we had children) to really caring a great deal now that I know that I am not.

As I said, not a funny post, just a cautionary tale. Additionally, it turns out that I do not write nearly so well when not being flippant, for which I apologise - I am not going to proof read this, so please just point out any errors you see and I will address them.

Maybe this picture of Madonna I made will take the edge off all the seriousness?

Cheers for reading.