Das Auto?

It’s unsettling when something you rely on becomes unreliable.

I have an intermittent fault with my car – an elderly but much loved 2003 VW Passat. There’s an odd juddering coming from the engine. It doesn’t happen all the time – just after a period of driving (usually on the motorway at speed) which is very disconcerting.

It’s making me worry about how much time the old girl has left.

Part of the problem is I’m not a bloke. At least not in the stereotypical sense.

  • I have no idea about the workings of an internal combustion engine, or indeed what to do if a car goes wrong (aside from exhibiting mild panic).
  • I have never called the RAC to change a tyre – but only because friends have taken pity upon seeing my helpless and sad face when I have a flat and swapped it for me.
  • I own a powerful hammer action cordless drill but until now have been too scared to drill my own walls with it. When I needed to put up curtains a few years ago my friend helpfully drilled the holes for me.
  • I have a rough idea how to knock nails into things but typically they end up very bent. My pictures rest on the floor instead of hanging on the walls for this and the previous reason.
  • My petrol lawn mower recently would not start. I looked at the mystifying ‘user serviceable’ innards for a whole two minutes before going out and buying an electric one. I have four lawnmowers and three strimmers in my shed, all in varying states of disrepair.

I could go on.

Cars contain magical pixies and run on fairy juice for all I know or care, so when things go wrong I’m already on the back foot.

I therefore feel a bit vulnerable when I go to a mechanic – although in that respect I’m sure I’m not on my own.

Since my usual tame grease monkeys have changed ownership recently and keep forgetting to return my calls I decided that I would take this issue to a main dealership. In the past I’ve had excellent experiences with VW and despite my pending joblessness I want a good inspection and a proper fix. I need to keep my current car on the road rather than buy a new one.

My old mechanic used to investigate problems for free, is close by, and reachable on the bus.

The VW dealership wanted £60 just to have a look under the bonnet and getting there and back requires two taxis.

However my old mechanic has failed diagnose or to fix this recurring issue twice in the past, seems currently disinterested in my business, and I’m forced to conclude that sometimes in life you tend to get what you pay for.

Over the last couple of months (on the RAC’s advice rather than theirs) I have replaced at the ‘cheap’ garage all of my coil packs, spark plugs and the compressor in my aircon, which finally (at least temporarily) saw the problem disappear.

So this morning I arrived at the main dealership expecting the best service possible. It was all shiny and white and made of glass and had a new car smell when I opened the door.

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The enthusiastic greeter (they have a greeter!) met me, already knew my name, shook my hand, welcomed me to their establishment and showed me to some comfy chairs.

‘Would you like a coffee?’ He said politely.

I indicated that I would. Soon enough my wish was granted and the free coffee fairy arrived.

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‘Someone from servicing will be with you in a minute’ he said and went back to his desk.

Happily I set about blowing my hot free beverage and browsing the web on my phone. There was an excellent 3G signal here too. Five bars! I might consider moving in.

However, soon I began to notice that people were coming in and talking to attendants, handing over keys, leaving and being replaced by other people, also handing over more keys after chats.

Maybe their queries were different departments?

I looked at my watch… I needed to get home and log on for work. My coffee cup was now empty.

Thirty mins had now passed.

I caught the greeter’s eye as he passed to voice my discontent and ask when I would be seen.

With what appeared to be genuine horror the greeter realised I had not been processed at all and immediately set about the task of finding someone to see me. If nothing else I was impressed by his concern. Within a moment I was seated with him and a representative from servicing to discuss the issue.

‘Mr DWK’ he said ‘ I am so sorry we have kept you waiting. Your inspection will be free of charge.’

I was a bit stunned. Wow. I couldn’t argue with free! That made my hourly rate approximately £120.

‘Thanks.’ I said ‘I appreciate that!’

He introduced me to and eventually left me with left the servicing representative, a well organised lady, who continued to take some extremely detailed notes about the nature of the issue. These were on top of the details I had already given them over the phone.

As she read them back I noted that these were extremely accurate, and listed almost exactly what I had said a few days previously. I was impressed. I hate poor note taking.

Once this was done I told the nice lady that I would need her to give me a couple of hours warning about when to pick the car up as I would be relying on taxis.

‘Would you like me to get one of the team to drive you home Mr DWK?’ she said.

Blinking a little I replied ‘Yes – erm… That would be very helpful thanks!’

So approximately 10 minutes later and roughly £67 better off than I had expected to be by that time of the morning I arrived home in a pleasantly scented chauffeur driven 2016 Silver Golf Estate and logged on to start work with a cup of coffee.

Moments later my mobile rang. The number calling was the car dealership.

What could have gone wrong? Did I leave something in the car?

‘Hello Mr DWK its xxxxx from xxxxxx Volkswagen’

‘Hello’ I replied.

‘It’s just a courtesy call Mr DWK. I’m from the sales department.’

‘OK…’ I replied, my jaw tightening a little.

‘I see that today you’ve brought in your VW Beetle for servicing and I notice that it’s 13 years old. I was wondering whether I could interest you in any of the deals we have on our new range of Beetles?’

‘It’s a Passat.’ I said flatly.

‘It says on my documentation its a Beetle Mr DWK.’ He replied.

‘Well nevertheless it was a Passat when I dropped it off – so I hope you haven’t made too many other modifications…’ I said.

I waited. There was a tiny pause while he regrouped. His funny bone appeared to be firmly set in place and had not been triggered.

‘Would you like to see any of the great deals on our Passat range?’ He said with the same identical tone of voice.

‘Well I’d love to…’ I replied ‘but sadly I am facing redundancy and will be unemployed in less than a month. I don’t think its a good time to be entering into large finance agreements.’

‘No… OK…’ He said, typing in the background.

‘I’ll give you a call in 3-4 months.’ He said. ‘Have a good day Mr DWK.’

I put the phone down with a sigh.

Not. Good.

Several hours later in the afternoon the call finally came to explain what had been done. The problem could not be found. Irritatingly the issue had refused to manifest itself on a test drive. However – they noted that there had been a factory recall on my coil packs and they had replaced them all free of charge.

When I picked the car up it was indeed running just fine.

I’m not entirely sure what to think now. I’m theoretically paying more for improved service, but have received better and worse service simultaneously (and a potential fix) – but for free.

They have shown excellent record keeping and awful information handling all in one neatly wrapped up bundle. I mentioned why I needed to keep my old car running to the servicing department in the morning, and despite their knowledge of my pending employment hurdle they still referred me to the sales department.

My coil packs had been potentially failing due to a manufacturing fault – however I had never received a recall notice, and had already replaced them out of my own pocket six months or so ago.

I’m completely bemused. It’s rare I see such excellent service rolled up in a bundle with such average (and with regard to the recall potentially unsafe) service.

Do I go there again?

Internet – I have no idea… I’m bemused.

Davey

Love eachother

For once I’ve been at an impasse when I’ve tried to type my blog.

Over the last few days I’ve sat with my phone, tablet or laptop, started typing and then abruptly stopped again a few moments later.

Everything I’ve created has been almost instantly deleted. Normally I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I haven’t since I started my blog – nor have I had this problem in the past.

I’ve been trying to write since Saturday on topics I’m clearly not that concerned about because the subject that has fully occupied my mind – the thing that I really want to talk about – makes me feel intensely uneasy. Consequently nothing I’ve written has seemed ‘honest’ and instead came across as ‘forced’ when I read it back.

So, like everything else in my life I’m going to try and put what I’m REALLY thinking in print and get rid of the feelings that have been building up.

Firstly I have to point out that although I have a strong sense of right, wrong and of social justice that I’m not a political or religious person. I try whenever possible to avoid displaying strong opinions on either of these subjects – although from time to time I do have them, just like anyone else.

If I can I try to apply a live and let live policy to everything and everyone in my life.

I’m someone that relishes diversity. It’s immaterial to me whether that manifests itself in a social class, whether it’s gender specific, based in ethnicity, sexual preference, religious following, or in someone’s idealogical beliefs.

People are people – and I try hard not to discriminate.

The chances are that I will like you – whoever you are. It’s often my default position. This is only modified if you’re a complete ass to me or people I love – and then I’ll decide I don’t like you based on ignorant things that you say or do.

It has nothing to do with where you come from or what God you believe in.

The UK however seems to have hit something of a crisis point with the recent ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the EU, and it has resulted in upset and ugliness in places that I didn’t expect to see it.

I personally think that a lot of the underlying problems this vote is exposing have always been present in the UK.

There has for a long time been an undercurrent of ill feeling about immigration and its impact on jobs, public services and housing. Some of the fears seem to have a basis in fact – others appear rooted in a more fundamental distrust of other cultures and faiths.

People have seen very real changes in their communities and lifestyles in the last decade, and in my view there has been little political will to acknowledge why that has been the case – or any real work done to resolve the often negative and stereotypical feelings that have arisen because of this.

It’s been all to comfortable to label people as intolerant and move on. We’ve ignored this fault line in our society for a long time.

Unfortunately the Donald Trumps and Nigel Farages of this world build much of their (often very charismatic) political capital upon these foundations. They mix some truth and some fiction with real and imagined fears and target people who often feel they have already lost more than they feel they can afford.

In times of economic hardship such people’s feelings of disenfranchisement can quickly become something altogether more ugly. Before long they begin to see others who are ‘alien’ as the cause of their problems, and those seeking power continue to fan the flames.

In the UK the rhetoric used on both sides of the Brexit campaign has (in my view) sought to scare people either into staying in the EU because of the financial consequences of withdrawl or terrify them into leaving for strikingly similar reasons.

It has left a toxic stew of raw emotion in its wake and magnified many already intolerant views held by a very vocal minority.

This is bad enough – but the tone of the campaign has also managed to simultaneously categorise the public perception of other ‘leave’ voters with the same racist and intolerant labels as people on the far right fringe of politics.

It’s dividing the country in a way I’ve not seen before in my lifetime, and honestly it’s making me fear for what will be left behind in the months and years to come.

People I know directly and indirectly have been abused in public – targeted because the colour of their skin or their accent and have been told they will be expected to ‘go home’ or be forced to leave.

Others have implied on social media or in person that anyone who voted for Brexit has in effect supported or agreed with the positions of those in the BNP or Britain First. They have branded those that want separation from the EU as both stupid and racist.

Many who have made these sweeping generalisations were previously considered friends (and in some cases are relatives) of the people they are now accusing.

I know from speaking to many who voted leave (this is just my circle of friends and colleagues) that their motivations were rooted in economics and a feeling that the EU in its current form was not what people in the UK originally voted for. They felt that we had lost our voice in Europe and that we were ruled effectively by unelected officials.

I know others (from watching the media, rather than personal experience) frustratingly voted with bigotry in mind and it saddens me that this is still a part of our society.

Our country is clearly divided like never before.

For my part in this sorry fiasco I became aware very early on that I’m not an economist, politician, lawyer, sociologist, banker, employer or indeed anything that would give me a good enough understanding of the consequences of staying or leaving. Whilst initially thinking I wanted to go I realised I couldn’t support my view with any solid reasoning and it was probably an opinion based on what I’d heard from others rather than my own choice.

I just didn’t know enough. I decided therefore not to vote at all.

This seemed to make some people even madder – and I have a friend that has experienced a similar backlash. I now find myself facing individuals annoyed that I don’t agree with their politics in the first place and also outraged that I didn’t use my vote.

Everyone just seems angry.

Except me. I just feel sad. Really sad, and I want everyone to get along.

People who are friends and family to eachother are saying things that I fear they will not be able to easily take back – and I sense that the divisions this is highlighting and creating will have repercussions for a long time.

If ever there was a need for political reconciliation and compassionate leadership in the UK it’s now – yet our PM (love him or hate him) has decided that it’s the perfect time to step down.

He leaves the country divided completely down the middle. 52% vs 48%.

I’m not sure how any politician will gain popular support in an environment like this but I genuinely hope one rises to the challenge that’s capable and compassionate. They will need to repair a lot of wounds.

In the meantime – people should remember we have laws regarding intolerance and racist abuse. If someone is racist to another person or incites racial hatred then report it.

Don’t just sit there and shake your head. Phone the police. 

By the same token please don’t apply this label to people that don’t deserve it. The vast majority of the 52% of this country that voted for Brexit weren’t racists before the referendum and I’m pretty damn sure that they aren’t today.

Finally – the pro-exit people that ‘won’ in this vote (if indeed anyone can be counted as a winner at the moment) need to be magnanimous and courteous to people that wanted to remain. Watching Nigel Farage on television today shamelessly gloating in the EU assembly and acting as a mouthpiece for the UK made me feel like I was watching a drunken British football hooligan fighting in another country.

If we are to get anywhere in the short and long term we need to do it with humility, tolerance and mutual respect.

If you want me internet I’ll be here trying my level best not to fall out with anyone.

Davey

Good riddance

Everywhere I look today I’m thinking about Game of Thrones (no spoilers to be found here). On Friday I watched all of season 6 ready for the final episode (number 10) on Monday at 2am. 

It was way better than sitting and watching the stock market collapse and the pound fall to an all time low after Brexit. 

Real life Game of Thrones sucks. 

Fantasy GOT was the usual endless orgy of elves, betrayal, murder, political intrigue, dragons, boobs, giants, lesbians, more boobs, assassins, some willys and a bit of incest for good measure. 

It’s thoroughly compelling and impossible to take your eyes away from the TV once you start. I did nine hours in one sitting and all the way through I was texting people with sentences that began ‘OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE…. Etc etc’

I think what I like so much about it is the sheer shamelessness of the characters in following their motivations and desires. 

The fact that they do whatever they fancy isn’t always a good thing – especially when it so often involves torture and violence. 

What interests me is that there’s almost no one in the show that isn’t being exactly who they want, when they want, wherever they want both sexually and morally. 

It’s quite refreshing – and because of this you can never quite tell who will kill who or who they will shag on the way to murdering whoever is in their way. 

Not that I’m advocating any such behaviour in real life – but it makes for excellent escapism on TV!

Despite the lack of drunken dwarves and naked queens in my immediate vicinity it’s still a very good day. Unusually for me I made a promise to myself this week and stuck to it. 

This was that I’d ONLY eat speed food for two days and see what happened.

In the end I tried to do three – but started seriously craving some protein on the third day (my appetite REALLY kicked in). 

Friday consequently became what Slimming World refers to as an ‘SP’ day, although I did additionally ‘syn’ some feta in my salad at lunchtime. 

The food I ate was nice. Really nice. I didn’t skimp on quality or quantity and enjoyed all of it. 

Here’s a sample of the last three days. 

Quorn stir fry with courgette, broccoli, onion, mushroom and garlic. Worcester and soy sauce for flavour.

Beetroot salad with red rocket lettuce, orange pepper, cherry tomatoes and 6 syns of feta cheese. Cider vinegar dressing. 

Slow cooker vegetable stew – carton of chopped tomatoes, chicken stock cube, mushrooms, swede, courgette and carrot.


Baby sweetcorn, bean sprouts, mushroom, pepper, courgette, cabbage and red onion stir fry. Dressing is Worcester sauce, soy sauce and Tabasco sauce. 

As you can see it’s all hearty comfort food and what’s more very filling. For the most part I felt full afterwards, and where I didn’t on the first two days cherry tomatoes came to my rescue. 

Yay for cherry tomatoes! They died in great numbers so I could live!

So – what happened after all this gastronomic austerity ? 

Well this morning I stepped on the scales at Slimming World and this happened. 


I lost 5.5lbs!

To be clear – I’m not expecting this every week – but boy it feels good and kicks the disappointing 1lb loss from last Saturday in the man globes.  

Now the back of my SW book is running out of space for stickers. Although I probably shouldn’t covet these silly little stickers it’s really nice to get one and add it to the collection!

The next weigh in will probably be a pound loss again though. I don’t think that 5lb a week is sensible or sustainable. 

We’ll see. Unlike this week I’m in the office Monday to Friday next week. At the moment that is a major trigger for eating. 

As I type it’s absolutely slashing it down outside, and that suits me just fine. I can’t burn my arms when it’s like this and I have a valid reason for sitting in a nice warm place drinking coffee, which I’m currently engaged in. 

I probably shouldn’t be. I think I may have already passed my acceptable caffeine threshold for the day. 

Two shots of nespresso, three cups of coffee after lunch with friends at the Harvester and now I’m on my 2nd flask of filter coffee in Starbucks. 

But who cares. Not me. It’s raining outside, it’s lovely and overcast. It’s warm in here and I’m both happy and comfortable. 

I’m also two stone and six pounds lighter. 

That’s 15.422 bags of sugar for those of you who work in kilograms. 

I don’t miss them. They were a pain in the arse (and back). Good riddance to bad rubbish. 

Hope you too are having a good Saturday Internet. 

I thought I saw you in Sainsburys earlier. You didn’t wave back. It must have been another global communications network that looks similar. I hate it when that happens. 

Davey

100

Breakfast today was a 600g punnet of cherry tomatoes, a pint of water and my pills.

The tomatoes were nice. I was looking forward to them actually. I forgetfully left them on the work surface in the kitchen overnight instead of putting them in the fridge and when I came to eat them the morning sunlight had warmed them.

As well as being crunchy (just how I like them) this added to the flavour and they had a fresh ‘earthy’ taste as they burst onto my tongue.

The pills are a chore though.

I have begun to really hate re-ordering them online, collecting them, forgetting to collect them, organising them, remembering them, forgetting to take them, taking them, trying to remember if I did take them even if I have taken them, carrying them with me in case I can’t get home, having no control over the fact I need them – the list goes on.

On a Sunday when I fill up my weekly pill organiser I sometimes just sit there and shake my head.

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I’m not quite sure how this happened. It just kind of crept up on me – and then before I knew it, pretty much all in one go I started taking (prescribed) pills every day.

Prior to that I thought twice about having an Ibuprofen tablet.

Well – if I’m honest, I know how it happened. I ate and drank like an idiot for four decades. It doesn’t really need a master detective to get to the bottom of this particular mystery.

I know that there are MANY out there with way worse health issues than me. I’m not looking for sympathy.

In truth I’m really grateful that the medication I take exists so that I can carry on and live a good life, but I really wish sometimes I could go back to the days where I didn’t have to think about all this.

Strangely though today when I bite into a warm cherry tomato and look at the pills I feel good, despite the frustrations that they embody. This selection of the pharmacist’s finest represents the direction I was going in. It represents what I did to myself by not caring whether I lived a long life or not.

Today’s post is something of a milestone in many respects. Once I finish it, wonder about it, edit it, rethink it, maybe add a bit more, and eventually click ‘publish’ it will be my 100th post.

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Never in the history of my life have I shared well over 100,000 words with anyone – let alone with people who are largely strangers.

Never before have I also had my expectations so defied. I assumed the internet and its dwellers to be hostile and unfriendly. In my experience so far they’ve been nothing of the kind.

Long may their comments and posts continue.

So – despite my feelings about medication things are good. My blog and my punnet of earthy tomatoes represent who I have become and who I am still becoming. I am actually able to say now that I like this person more with every day.

I never used to be able to do that.

Quite a lot has changed for me since the first blog post. For a start it’s nearly five months since I had any alcohol.

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Although I technically stopped drinking before I started writing my blog the two events are very closely linked. My first revelation about the power of groups, my journey to discover why I did what I did and how not to do it any more began here, online, in public.

Despite the potential for embarrassment I think it’s still important to be honest about this aspect of who I am – and deal with it out in the open without hiding or feeling shame. It happened. I can’t ignore it. Sometimes I still think about it. After too many years I no longer want it in my life.

Two days after I stopped drinking my mom died. The two events are very closely linked.

When I started writing I was (whether I realised it or not) bereaved and coming to terms with the loss of a parent I didn’t understand.

I still don’t and I never will, but that’s OK.

I worked out how I felt about this life changing moment as I wrote. I often surprised myself with the conclusions I came to, and what I shared. It was the best therapy I had ever had, and it was all inside me – just looking for a voice. Many people reached out to me because of what I wrote and because of them the whole event was turned into something entirely different from how it began.

Eventually it turned from pain and anger into something I could (and still do) learn from.

I don’t feel animosity any more toward her and what she did or said to me. If anything I try to feel compassion where once I felt anger and just let everything else go.

This is an ongoing challenge and I’m no saint – but she was a person who lived and breathed, just like me. I may not have understood her, but her life had value and in her own way through her art and life she touched the world uniquely. For better or worse there will never be another one of her. I don’t miss her – but I do think about her a lot.

Once the funeral was behind me and I was satisfied that I no longer needed to drink or grieve I joined Slimming World. Since then in the last two months I have lost two stone. It’s been periodically hard work but also an enjoyable journey so far.

I have been spurred on every step of the way by the lively and helpful women and men that meet every Saturday and share their feelings. They post pictures and ideas and supportive comments all the time on Facebook, and it’s kept me continually connected to and focused on what I’m doing and why.

Sometimes I join in – sometimes I just scroll through and watch them helping each other, which is nice.

This group has in turn already changed me both physically and mentally. Whereas at the beginning of January there was often an absence of hope for the future, now I can see the possibility of a time when I’m no longer controlled by my size and physical limitations.

When I started my blog I could hardly walk to the end of my street. I can now go much longer distances, and with the help of benches I can make my way round more than one park. My horizon is now further than the distance to my car.

My very first post was also about leaving my job and dropping out with a dog that never materialised.

Since the universe has a sense of irony I changed my mind less than two weeks after writing this. Resigning was in retrospect a decision that was ill thought out and had more to do with grief than common sense.

Then a few months later I was made redundant anyway. Go figure.

If nothing else this proved that the universe has a promising career in stand up comedy should it also decide upon a change of direction. As I type I am still undecided about what comes next.

It’s scary but it will sort itself out.

So internet – a lot has changed in 100 posts and 100,000+ words.

I wonder where the next 100 will take me? One thing I know for sure is I can’t stop now, not even if I wanted to. I need it too much.

I hope you’re here with me to find out. Exciting isn’t it?

Davey

Pilot of the future

I have a carrier bag of vegetables sitting in front of me.

It’s full. To the brim.

Although I was happy to get my two stone certificate last Saturday the thing I was not happy with was the 1lb loss that enabled me to secure it.

As always I’m glad to be losing weight, but felt like I could have done a lot more, and this week I’m having a concerted push towards accomplishing that.

Rather than relying on three individual meals per day I have decided that I will for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week (try to) only eat speed food.

Since I’d have to eat frankly stupid amounts of celery and carrots to gain weight I have instead decided that these three experimental days will be ‘grazing days’, where the rules I’ve set myself are that I can eat what the hell I like, when I like, in whatever quantity I see fit – as long as it’s a ‘speed’ food.

There was another reason I decided to start this today. Originally I planned two days of austerity rather than three but when I saw this morning the frankly woeful amount of food (and its condition) in the fridge I knew today was the day.

Upon closer examination a forgotten lettuce at the back of the bottom shelf seemed like it needed a mortician more than a salad bowl, and my equally venerable parsley (crushed underneath the lettuce) was frozen in a small glacier against the back wall.

I’d therefore use up what was edible, throw the rest and buy something new on the way home.

Consequently all I took to work with me for breakfast and dinner was a 1kg bag of carrots.

I slung the mummified lettuce and prehistoric parsley in the bin as I left the house and got in the car to drive to work. If nothing else grabbing these was WAY quicker than my usual 30 mins of food preparation for the day.

However, while my food preparation time decreased, the time required to consume it considerably increased. Lots of scrunching and chewing was needed to work through it, and I’m sure my quite loud breakfast was impossible to ignore by all around me.

It lasted just under an hour in the end but was strangely filling…

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As is typically the way in an office however there is usually a birthday or special occasion whenever you feel like you want to remain on the path of righteousness. Before the clock hit nine two boxes of Dave Kryptonite arrived in the kitchen to taunt and weaken me.

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If it was a crate of cakes and chocolate I really wouldn’t have cared less – but spring rolls and samosas!!! I could eat these until my arms fall off. Savoury stuff really sets my juices running!

So – by the time I exited the deliciously scented office today I’d nailed my entire bag of carrots.

This was not a problem. Thats what they were there for. It was all going to plan. I’d avoided temptation – and after a personal appointment on the way home headed to the supermarket to stock up on more good things.

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The plus side to not having any protein or carbs is that I feel both light and energetic, and (currently) not really all that hungry. However, whilst typing I’ve also nailed a box of cherry tomatoes and some beetroot as well – so I’m not fuelled SOLELY by carrots!

Thankfully the next couple of days will not be spent at work – which frankly is a miserable place to be currently. It’s difficult to know how people will feel from one day to the next, and like those around me one minute I feel positive about the future and the next I feel like there’s no hope.

There doesn’t seem currently to be an easy middle ground when it comes to redundancy and I can’t seem to find a place to settle mentally that leaves me feeling empowered and motivated.

In an effort to do something that takes me outside the confines of my own worries therefore last week I set up an interview with a charity (tomorrow afternoon) to discuss being a volunteer befriender for the elderly.

A couple of decades ago in another life I was a care worker for adults with learning difficulties, and although I found the role both difficult and challenging sometimes one of the standout and immensely satisfying moments was helping one of the older residents compile his life story.

The idea behind the project was that he may have to go into a less intimate care facility later in life and his main problem was that he had no short term memory at all. After an accident as a young man everything had been wiped out.

He could remember his childhood very clearly, but nothing at all after this event. His memory stretched to five minutes at the most and then reset, wiping the slate completely clean.

This created a LOT of burned toast, half made cups of tea, and questions about who I was.

My name was ‘thingy the big guy’ for some time.

I worked with him and his last remaining relative (an elderly uncle) to piece together a patchwork of photos and letters that together would form a document of his life as a young man. Hopefully this would ensure that even if he found it difficult to tell people what he liked and considered important in life the scrapbook would give his support workers some guidance.

I really used to care about this guy – and of all the people I looked after I miss him the most.

Events ultimately overtook the creation of the scrapbook and for several reasons it was never fully completed to my satisfaction – but it was still the best memory that I have of that job.

I felt at times that we really connected – and when talking about his childhood love of Eagle comics I saw his face change, and gloom or boredom was replaced with cheerful and spirited conversation. For some golden moments (mostly when I took him swimming oddly enough) he was back in his bedroom looking through the eyes of a child and reading about Dan Dare – Pilot of the future.

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Luckily in the 80’s there was a brief re-launch of Eagle Comics. I just happened to grow up reading about the same characters and their efforts to stop the evil Mekon and the Treens from Venus, otherwise his often mumbled chatter may have meant nothing to me as we talked in that swimming pool.

When I recognised what he was talking about there was a ‘lights on’ moment for both of us. As he floated with me in his water wings we chatted about his childhood. It was really really great.

I’m hoping if I can join this charity’s programme that I can have a similar positive impact on someone I’ve never met before, and maybe stop them from feeling isolated or lonely.

We’ll see.

Hopefully the lady I’m due to meet won’t see a hungry and irritable Dave scowling at her over a partially munched carrot and covetously hugging a box of cherry tomatoes like his life depended on them.

Well internet. I’ll let you know how it all pans out. Keep your fingers crossed for Saturday.

I want a 3-4lb loss. I hope I can do it!

Davey

Syns

Given the positives of Saturday I awoke on Sunday in a good mood. 

Sadly, despite it being a day of rest for all sane minded people I had to go to work. However there are worse things than sitting in an air conditioned office for the day, so I planned to make the most of it and do some worthwhile things with my time.

As I was up early I cooked myself some vegetable stir fry, with 4 small new potatoes and 2 salmon steaks and popped it in some tupperware.

Breakfast wise things in the fridge were a bit sparse yesterday morning – and after a rather unfortunate sniff test of some less than fresh bacon resulted in a rush to the OUTSIDE bin (grrrr – waste of money) I was more in the mood for cereal.

It would have to be ‘overnight oats.’  

I tipped the last dregs of my natural yogurt into a tupperware box, added an apple, a handful of blueberries, 35g of oats (thank you fry light cap), a sprinkle of coconut flakes (approx 4 syns), some cinnamon and a spoonful of stevia.

I also took an extra ‘snack’ apple.

It was just as well I planned ahead as thanks to some pre-booked holiday and a few sickies by others I was the only guy in the office on Sunday until later in the afternoon.

I’m not keen on being on my own in the office. It’s really boring when there’s no-one to chat with occasionally or make cups of tea with/for. It makes the day go a lot quicker regardless of what you have going on.

I tend to eat when i’m bored.

However – I could play my music as loud as I liked and there was no-one to complain. So there’s that.

As I munched on my apple later that morning (not long after breakfast) I was thinking about my dad.

It seems like my father is keen to set the example at the moment, and since his own journey with Slimming World is just beginning he wanted to show me on Saturday evening what a plate of speed food really looks like.

It seems I am a rank amateur.

I’ve been trying to ensure that food doesn’t overload the narrow confines of my plate but my dad has other ideas, and is willing to regularly challenge gravity with his evening meal.

However – given the content of his boundary infractions I can’t say he’s doing a bad job 🙂

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My Dad has always been a big fan of vegetables – just like me, but shares similar weaknesses for other food. 

His preferred treats are mostly sweet however, whereas my vices are completely savoury. This rule ceases to apply though when you place him in the vicinity of cheese – at which point all bets are off.

I’ve often been afraid that one day he will fall victim to a baited mousetrap, and (unable to resist its cheesy delights) will be found with his neck and arms wedged in one unable to move.

So far however he remains at large and has managed to avoid capture. Long may this escapology continue.

Sadly there was no such plate waiting for me when I got home last night. I was hungry and I’d not really planned my evening meal – despite having items to cook, so I stopped off at the M&S nearby and bought some ham pieces and mini gem lettuces.

Every time I think of ham I think of Angie saying she wraps it round tomatoes.

Everything with speed food.

I do the same with the lettuce and parcel my ham up before it goes in my mouth, as well as drink water. The evening’s ‘cheat’ meal however left me peckish – and I ended up eating 3 (not at once, but irritatingly picking at them later) hi-fi bars and 2 apples, accounting for a further 9 syns.

I know Angie has cautioned against trying to avoid having Syns – but I still view (some of) them as the enemy. There’s always an element of guilt for me after eating one.

Maybe it’s a bit daft to think that way though because I did 13 in the entire day and the rest of it was either ‘free’ or ‘speed’ or a ‘healthy extra’.

Syns worry me though, and I can’t get over this vague feeling of unease about them since reading something on another blogger’s site that resonated with me.

I’ll try to explain what that was…

Per day ladies get 15 syns, men get 20 and extra special guys like me (with more X’s in their shirt size than you) can allegedly do 30.

But what is 30 Syns?

Well – its a large Ginster’s Cornish Pasty (28.5 Syns).

It’s a portion of chips. 440g of chip shop chips are 28 syns. (I bet, just like me you used to take some scales to the chip shop with you. I’d ALWAYS be asking him to take a few chips off until it got to the right weight. Pffft yea. Right.).

It’s less than a portion of medium sweet popcorn at the cinema (Odeon ones are 38 syns! What kind of a freak has a MEDIUM when you can go large for 30p more?!).

It’s 3/5ths of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice-cream (11 syns per 100ml gives you 33 syns). But who here hasn’t finished a 500ml tub in one sitting before?)

I honestly do not think that I’d be loosing weight if I ate any of these things regularly, and truthfully I really wouldn’t want to.

I suppose what makes me angry about eating syns like hi-fi bars is that I see it (maybe wrongly – and I don’t want my guilt to affect other people’s success) as a fudge or a cheat. It’s somehow my brain still being unable to come to terms with the fact that the processed ‘foods’ I ate all the time prior to starting Slimming World CAUSED all this in the first place.

I want to get out of the habit of viewing food with the underlying belief that I can still eat the same KIND of things and somehow cheat my way around all of the crap that made me fat to start with.

I don’t view my sprinkle of coconut the same way though. Thats a good syn. Olives are a good syn. I’ve started having a desert spoonful of cod liver oil every day. That’s a good syn (although I still can’t find out exactly how much it is). I need to include some nuts in my diet, which I haven’t so far and will this week (maybe hazelnuts or almonds?). 

They are good syns.

I understand why syns exist. We live in the real world, and its unrealistic to expect anyone starting a healthy living plan to suddenly switch to cress and lentils for breakfast. They just wouldn’t follow the diet.

I wouldn’t. 

I wouldn’t have even started.

I still think longingly about a Double Sausage and egg Mcmuffin when I drive past McDonalds. They’re 28.5 Syns each. I used to have two for breakfast quite often and they’re delicious.

I’m no vegan crusader wanting an organic macro biotic lifestyle.

Yet.

But who knows what will come of this? My mood changes all the time about food and exercise. I’m becoming a different person bit by bit. Truthfully if syns weren’t there to begin with then I’d probably have struggled to start at all.

Anyway – today is another day. I’m going to prepare my dinner (Chilli con Carne) and breakfast (Overnight oats with Strawberries and Blueberries) for work and start some food in the slow cooker (beef stew) for this evening so I don’t snack tonight. Hopefully if it stops raining I might get a walk around the park in too later.

We’ll see internet. Today seems full of possibility – and hopefully (if I can resist) less syns.

Davey

Hugs to the peoples

I can’t see any swanlings in the park so far. They seem to be absent and there are just a few ducks in their place. I like ducks though. They almost always move around in couples and I think that’s a lovely trait.

I’m walking before my weigh in to start my day on a high note and interact with the world. I don’t want another dark day like yesterday and positivity doesn’t happen by magic.

You have to go out and make the effort. Even if you’re not 100% feeling it.

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I’ve been sitting by the river for a little while and feeling the cool breeze on my neck while I watch people go by. As usual I’m slowly moving from bench to bench. I have an hour before Slimming World and I’m in no rush. I’m Just taking my surroundings in with my customary flask of coffee.

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Pleasingly I’m not so out of breath today and inch by inch I can go a bit further without sitting down. I’m half way round and I’ve used one less bench than normal.

This in itself makes me feel more positive.

At the moment I’m not sitting because I’m exhausted but just because it’s pleasant. The birds are singing and I can hear people playing football behind me.

Two teen goths passed me hand in hand a moment ago. Both were dressed completely in black apart from the girl’s single concession to cheerfulness – shiny silver converse pumps.

To ensure she otherwise remained in character her tall clear drinking flask contained a blood red smoothie which she sipped as they walked past.

Goths in love. Sigh.

I adore conscious Nihilism in unconscious revolt.

(Time to move)

Well – I’m back at the car and feeling pleasantly warm. I did the lap with 3 less benches than it originally took me when I first tried to do it – however I wasn’t going for any speed records today – just enjoying the activity so it’s probably not a like for like comparison.

If I’m honest I have my friend and colleague to thank for this. He reminded me with a text after last night’s post that I needed to get my ass up and do something this morning, although he said it in a much nicer way. He knows who he is and he gets a big Dave sized virtual hug 🙂

He was absolutely right.

Now. I must have a wee before stepping on the scales and offload my coffee. I don’t want it to ruin anything.

(Off to Slimming World.)

Well – SW is done for the day, and it was an emotional one – at least for me if not for others. Some were struggling today – and I feel their pain acutely.

I don’t care what your milestone is – if it’s something you feel you need to achieve then its something that’s not easy. It really doesn’t matter what everyone does with weight loss (although it’s easier to say than it is to accept) it’s just important that you stay to group even when it is really difficult to do so.

Whatever happens before or after THAT’S A WIN.

I lost a pound today – less than I wanted – but I’m trying to take my own advice. It’s been a difficult and emotional week and I’m frankly amazed I managed to loose anything at all. I’ve struggled with portion sizes and snacking – but crucially I’ve eaten within the boundaries of the plan and not climbed Mount Kebabnchips.

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My one pound loss also took me over my two stone mark and I got a certificate for it 🙂 Part of me (the reserved blokey bit) thinks – I don’t need a certificate, but I totally really do with bells on it and a cherry on top. It means the world – especially when I’ve not been at my best – and it just reminds me what another friend and colleague said to me two months ago.

Even slowly moving forward is still moving forward.

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This stuck in my head and I get a lot of comfort from that thought. It’s carried me through some tricky weeks so far and is so true. Since posting this all those weeks ago I’ve noticed others using the above picture that have read my blog (originally sent to me by my friend) and it’s a reminder that when you help someone – even in a seemingly small way – you never know how much that act is going to spread out into the world.

I mentioned it to someone at group thats been very supportive today – and if she’s reading I hope she takes it to heart and uses it to find her own strength.

You can do it 😉

Despite writing this blog and sharing it with people digitally I’m still not really comfortable in the physical limelight. Although logically I understand that’s all in my head I was dreading today’s group because it was their chance to choose their ‘man of the year’.

I have only been attending for a couple of months so it feels something of a con even to be considered – but its nice to be mentioned in the same breath as this. It was also a good opportunity to listen to the other guys too as we all described our own journey, and how we’d come to be sitting on the hateful little red chairs in the school hall.

Two of the guys there were following the plan both for their own health’s benefit and to support their partners, and it was really heartwarming to see how they were working together as a team. Another guy had really embraced the exercise aspect of the plan and was up and down Welsh mountains like a whippet on a weekly basis from the sounds of it.

I walked up Snowdon myself a few years ago and I know from experience it’s no mean feat. He makes me want to do it again.

They were all doing really well, and if I’m honest it spurred me on to hear their own statements agreeing that they couldn’t do it without the group – and the practical benefits of weight loss such as less snoring (which appeared to be a definite boon to the ladies!!!).

I’ve also noticed – but until today ignored – the fact that I too can almost breathe when lying on my right side in bed. I couldn’t do that before. This is progress! Maybe soon I’ll be able to sleep on both sides.

I shared my own thoughts with the group as we went around the men in turn – and decided to tell the unvarnished truth.

I wanted the silly little things in life. I wanted things like a bath. I can’t fit in mine at the moment and it taunts me every time I have a shower. I told them I wanted to avoid gastric banding, and how I couldn’t walk very far but it was getting easier every time. I mentioned my diabetes and my struggle with portion sizes.

As always no-one was anything less than 110% supportive – and if I ever needed convincing (I REALLY don’t) that I was in the right place for my journey today was a good reminder.

Then, rather embarrassingly Angie announced I was man of the year.

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I’m not quite sure what to do with this info – and honestly wish I could split it with everyone there (although I’m not sure how the girls would take being men of the year!).

I’m instead going to take it for what it is. A massive and generous compliment from a bunch of people trying every bit as hard as I am to do exactly what I’m doing. If anything it means that much more coming from a bunch of guys and girls in exactly the same boat.

So internet – yesterday was shit and today is not. What’s changed? What made it appear different? Why am I not feeling so bad?

People. Pure and simple. Without them I would still be face down in my mental mud, and struggling to lift up my head. They rule. All of them. Hugs to the peoples.

Oh. And coffee. Thats good too. Big shout out to coffee.

Davey

Excellent mentor

I try if at all possible to limit posts where I’m particularly down.

It’s not that I want to edit my thoughts and hide who I am but more to do with not wanting to appear to be a moaner.

I don’t like the idea that people may decide that’s who I am.

Fifteen years ago a manager of mine said to me in a one to one ‘do you realise that people perceive you as a negative person?’

I was floored.

The thought had never occurred to me. I was happy wasn’t I? People liked me – I was funny and I could make them laugh surely? No – that couldn’t be who I was. He must have got it wrong.

But he wasn’t.

It was particularly galling because he never inspired respect in others and he openly didn’t view his role or his team as important. When I eventually got his job I tried to be as little as possible like him.

In that respect he proved an excellent mentor.

However that day he’d hit the nail on the head. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I moaned. I did it a lot back then, and it had developed during a period of financial stress (and the breakup of a long term relationship) into something that was prominent.

When I examined it deeper I realised that I was at heart a pessimist – although I’m sure like many others I viewed this instead as realism. I felt I knew the reality of things, unlike the cheerful drones surrounding me.

So – despite being witty and gregarious from time to time, this element of me had taken over and had begun to be the prominent trait I displayed to others.

This moment of clarity shook me up so much that I resolved to change this state of affairs immediately. I promised myself that I would think a positive thought every time I had a negative one to counterbalance this side of me and train myself out of it.

And I did.

When I’ve told this story to people in the past they often look at me like I’ve constructed a convenient fiction, but I haven’t. What’s hidden (mostly) is that I still think like this a lot.

When things are going generally good in life it’s not so noticeable, but then at other times when things are more unsure it’s right back there staring me (and I think sometimes others) in the face.

All the little imaginary negative first responders in my head rush to the scene of a crisis thought in their self pity ambulances and whisper in my ear.

This week they’ve begun to overwhelm me.

I feel lost and I don’t know what the future holds. I’m scared of the world I don’t know outside of the comfortable one that I do and my self image (particularly regarding my body) is on the floor in the mud.

When I think about transitioning to a new job instead of thinking about what I have to offer I envisage the fat man who will be judged by interviewers. I see the fat man worried about everywhere he goes because he won’t fit in chairs with arms or will break them altogether. I see a fat man turning up sweaty to interviews and out of breath.

I see my own fat face in all of these fat scenarios and every single time I get to this point I just want to comfort eat and drink.

But I won’t.

So I then feel angry that I even feel like this in the first place. Then I feel more down and the cycle repeats until I go to sleep.

On top of this I’m convinced I will have a bad result on the scales this week and it’s magnified out of all sensible proportion.

I know it’s irrational and that even if I do have a bad week it’s only a blip and I can turn it around.

But then in the back of my head there’s a voice that reminds me how many times I’ve failed in the past and how self destructive I’ve been.

It makes me feel alone and isolated regardless of people telling me differently. It makes me feel like there is no one that can understand even when I know that there is and that there are people that do and that they care about me.

If I could pour the voices into a jar and throw them away then I would.

I’d drive to the coast with the lid tightly on and hurl them screaming into the sea so that they could float away and cause no more harm.

But I can’t. So – here I am trying to write it out and expunge it from myself and sounding negative. In public.

I could not do it. I could keep it to myself.

But then if I didn’t say it out loud I feel these thoughts will never go away and that there would be no relief and no recovery.

No change. No improvement. No future.

The alternative to writing is getting drunk or eating until I feel sick. And that will just prove that my worst suspicions about myself are true.

So I’ll just sit here and deal with it. I’ve spent too many years numbing my pain. I need to feel it and deal with it.

Apologies Internet. You caught me on a bad day.

Davey

Patrons

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For the last few days I’ve noticed that when I sit in my favourite coffee shop at roughly the same time (in training for redundancy by sitting with my laptop and looking like I am working on something important) I find myself often sitting with the same people.

Like me these fellow patrons appear to be creatures of habit and more often than not sit in the same places close by to me. If I am close enough then sometimes without really trying to I pick up echoes of their life and whats happening to them.

Some of it is comical, some of it is just interesting, and some of it is sad – but absolutely all of it fascinates me and I think sometimes that my new ideal job would involve sitting in a bush with a flask of coffee just watching the world go by.

Behind me the other day a regularly present Indian guy was confidently coaching his girlfriend on the phone about how best to tackle a job interview.

‘You’ll get asked a lot of personality questions yar.’ he said. ‘It’s the same with ALL interviews. They ALWAYS ask the same questions yar.’ He paused.

‘Take for instance the one about what your weaknesses are. They ALWAYS ask that.’

He listened for a while to the voice on the other end of the phone.

‘Acha – is easy to answer.’ He said, clearly replying to a question. ‘I give you some of my examples, you can use them if you want yar?’

He pondered his mental database of examples for a moment.

‘You could say you are late all the time for the appointments?’

He listened to the reply.

‘You have to turn that into a plus – you could be saying something like ‘I am buying a watch and will be trying to get better yar?…’

I started out into space and squinted.

Really?!! 

‘Or you could say that you lack motivation and get bored easily…’ he continued. ‘I’ve said this myself yar.’

I shook my head.

He paused to listen to her reply again.

‘No – I didn’t have a plus side for that one…’ He tailed off – clearly all of a sudden thinking about where he may have gone wrong in his own interview and the conversation became less distinct.

Either he’d used these examples as an excuse to highlight his partner’s worst traits or he was quite possibly the worse interview coach (and maybe interviewee) I’d ever come across.

It didn’t matter much though as his relationship didn’t strike me as something that would suffer from longevity once her job interview was completed…

Others can be just plain odd. Lately I’ve become aware of ‘headset man’. I probably wouldn’t have given him a second glance if one afternoon I hadn’t heard him speak to himself nearby.

Dirty bastartds’ he said loudly as he surveyed the table at which he wanted to sit.

The coffee shop was pretty much empty and almost all tables were clean. He had decided however to sit at a table vacated recently by a family with a small child.

They had left plentiful crumbs behind, and a high chair.

He swept the crumbs onto the floor with a number of flamboyant brushing movements and began to move the chairs around, pushing the high chair as far away as he humanly could – to the other side of the coffee shop.

Once this was done he placed on the table a large packet of economy shortbread and a big bar of economy chocolate.

Dirty bastards’ he muttered loudly again to no-one in particular, and at the same time moved the chair out from the wall and placed it at an angle so that its back faced me then sat down.

He looked under the table at the crumbs that he’d pushed there moments before, clearly unable to ignore their proximity. ‘Diiiiirty Bastards….’ He said as he kicked the crumbs away with his sandled feet.

Reaching over to the stand with milk and sugar he then grabbed a paper towel and leaned under the desk, dusting all around the base of the table and the floor around his chair – finally clearing the immediate area of offensive bread.

Then, reaching into his bag he grabbed a small pair of walkman ear bud headphones.

This wasn’t odd in itself – apart from the fact that he was already wearing a large pair of black over the ear hi-fi headphones around his neck.

He took these off, and placed them over the back of the chair to the side of him where his rucksack sat.

He then put both of the earbuds in and once more reached into his bag and retrieved a third pair of silver headphones.

These were also large hi-fi style ones, and bigger than the ones hanging over the chair, but had no cable attached them. He placed these over his head, on top of the earbuds already in his ears, and  finally leant back with a sigh.

He grabbed the chocolate, broke off a chunk and sipped his coffee – finally at peace.

I’ve seen him do this several times now.

As I left yesterday I noticed him walking past me wearing a fourth sky blue pair of chunky hi-fi headphones.

Clearly no audio device seems to quite hit the spot in his case, and there was a headset to compliment every mood in his bag. I quite like him just for the interesting randomness of it all.

Why so many? Who knows…

Yesterday was my third day in a row nearby unhappy man.

He looks very crestfallen all the time. I have heard him have several phone conversations as he’s sat next to me and he seems to be at pains to be nice and polite on all of them.

The first day he was calling his daughter to make sure she hadn’t fallen out with her friend at school. She had gone to drama class instead of to a sleepover. He’d been speaking to the friend’s mother and it seemed like there may be an issue.

After a while it transpired his daughter’s mother was sorting the problem on another phone and the row between the two children was a storm in a teacup.

He lingered for a moment when he told his daughter he loved her and it sounded like maybe she would be in bed by the time he got home, or he wouldn’t be home that night.

The following day I found him having a job interview when I arrived. He was energetically selling himself and his capabilities on the phone. It appeared he was looking for office work – maybe technical. The phone call concluded shortly after I sat down and he sighed, looked at his laptop and then unravelled his charger to plug it into the wall.

It was a MacBook and it’s got good battery life, so he’d probably been there a while on the hunt for employment. Maybe things weren’t going well.

The day before last he came and sat down when I was already there. I was reading a manual regarding my own job hunting prospects and didn’t notice him at first. When I did he was already talking and I noted that he was wearing the same shirt.

Three days in a row now.

His call started almost immediately. He was speaking to someone about a property.

‘Yes it’s just for two people.’ He said. ‘Myself and my daughter 3 days a week.’

He was putting a lot of energy into the call – just like the job interview, but his body language was different. His shoulders were rounded and hunched. He was looking down at the floor.

‘Yes – I’m having a problem finding something in the right price range in my area – it needs to be near her school in ****** do you have anything else?’

His fingers moved to the bridge of his nose, lifting his glasses slightly and he rubbed his eyes.

‘OK – no problem. Well you have my number, so please make sure to give me a call if anything comes up.’

He finished the call, put the mobile down and sat back in his chair, sighing.

I realised then that he was probably loosing his home, his job and trying to hold onto his daughter as his relationship failed. He looked adrift.

He was still wearing his wedding ring.

Sometimes I want to turn to people and say something nice – but it will betray the fact I’m listening and paying attention to them, and will destroy their sense of privacy.

I didn’t say anything to him, and shortly afterwards he left – choosing not to call anyone else.

All three of these people left me with vivid thoughts about who they were outside of the coffee shop, and whether they were there to hide from the world or just to relax with all of their headphones.

They also made me think about why I was sitting there.

Why was I in the coffee shop every day? Was I hiding or relaxing?

This week I could have been doing either as I’ve been trying to avoid thoughts of work or food, depending on which has been bothering me the most.

Maybe I should be paying more attention to my own life. Maybe that’s the moral of the story. Or maybe I just like listening to people and wondering what makes them tick.

Who knows…

(sips coffee and listens)

Davey

Keen sportsman

Although I can’t currently wear their jeans, or sit on their trendy scooters I am even closer to being a brunch munching, loft apartment dwelling, socially networked hipster than ever before.

Not content with posting pictures of my pre-masticated meals on Instagram and Facebook to prompt the salivation of followers and friends I have now branched into a new area.

Today I was told in no uncertain terms by an employment consultant (hired by my company to ease its social conscience for sacking me) that I needed a Linkedin profile.

Vast revisions were also apparently required on my CV, which currently appears to be nothing more than a historical document containing irrelevant information from three decades ago when I was still finger painting at school.

It’s such a frankenstein’s monster, and so out of date that when I finally found it in a rather ancient folder dated about 8 years ago on my computer it actually made me laugh out loud.

Much of the wording on it was correct – but I’d clearly copied a friend’s efforts at the time and used his CV as a template.

I must have been in a rush to complete it (or lost the will to carry on) because under ‘Personal Interests’ it said ‘I am a keen sportsman and enjoy playing football.

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Now the mid 90’s were pretty wild and I have a few blanks where memories should be – but I think I’d have to have been dropped on my head from a great height to lose my recollection of such pastimes.

Not even my ‘lost summer of 1995‘ could have accomplished that.

So – with this urgent need for revision in mind I’ve spent a little while setting up Linkedin and now (somewhat unnervingly) I have a presence on their confusing spider’s web of a site.

I have dragged myself into the hashtagged and twittered current age and I’m ready to repel boarders.

I’m not sure why this has taken so long (I blog everything in my life for flip’s sake) but a comment recently on the BBC news encapsulated how I feel about Linkedin. The interviewee was discussing the recent acquisition of the company by Microsoft and described them as ‘a bit weird and creepy’.

This has always been my feeling and I’ve vehemently ignored random e-mails and texts in the past to link people to my (as far as I knew) non-existent profile. As I’d never created an account I never quite understood why this happened. I think I may well do soon.

I’m still left in a confusing place though, as unlike some of my colleagues and friends I really don’t know what comes next, so I don’t quite know what to put on there other than a rather chubby looking photo.

I struggle to answer this question every time it’s asked, and apart from wanting to do something that’s creative or socially aware (ideally both) the world appears to be my oyster.

I’m wishing though that days like yesterday didn’t exist because they dent my confidence. Although I navigated my way through it I feel a bit shaken by the intensity of how I felt – especially later in the evening.

I think the last 24 hours is best summed up by this cartoon sent by friend and fellow Slimming World buddy.

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Currently though I’m wondering if my sudden and excessively ‘skittish’ feelings and hunger yesterday were related to my pending involvement in today’s workshop. I know it was in the back of my mind all day yesterday, and I was thinking about what it would turn out to be.

Would I come out of it feeling better, or worse?

Honestly it’s a bit of both.

On the one side it was jam packed with practical tips on writing CV’s but not much in the way of guidance about what I could do to scratch the itch of my job type wishes. At best I’m left in a vague space with not much in it other than an ever growing love of writing (yay for that!), an urge for philanthropy and a current dislike of everything corporate.

I’m wiling to take to suggestions from anyone that feels like they want to give advice  so comment if you have the urge. At the moment my life is an open road thats approaching a bunch of junctions almost completely without signposts!

Thankfully the one turning on my road that is well lit and inviting is Slimming World, and once again the responses that I’ve had to posts have been both helpful and generous.

Today I’ve taken the advice one member gave early this morning and hit the protein.

Food today has been all about ‘free’ cold meat with ‘speed’ and fruit, and it’s helped. I’ve eaten chunky ham pieces and lots of santini tomatoes with some apples for breakfast and dinner and they’ve filled me up.

Right now I’m sitting in Starbucks eating my evening meal with a large filter coffee. I originally boxed this up last night for lunchtime but I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it. Apart from a couple of bits of Heck chicken sausage its mostly Quorn and vegetables. it probably accounts for about 1 and a 1/4 syns.

Tonight I’ll be spending some time with a mate after further open heart surgery on my CV, and getting a (hopefully) early night.

There won’t be any danger or pain points if I can help it and it the fates are smiling on me I’ll not fantasise about climbing Mount Kebabnchips, get a better night’s sleep and awaken feeling buoyant about the future.

Fingers crossed internet!

Davey

And still I’m hungry. 

Today I’ve felt hungry. Really hungry. All day long.

I’ve wanted to eat and eat until I couldn’t stop pretty much since lunchtime and even now after pint after pint and litre after litre of water, before and after several meals I’m sitting here still dealing with it and just pissed off that I can’t seem to feel full.

This morning at 11am I had breakfast – a really nice one with some free range eggs brought in by a really nice lady at the SW group.

I mixed them with fried tomatoes and mushrooms and some bacon medallions.

I followed it about 15 minutes later with a with a toffee flavoured syn free yogurt I’d intended for late afternoon as a treat.

At 2pm I felt I could wait no longer and started on my stir fry with salmon steaks for lunch.

When that was gone I waited. I was still hungry – and it wasn’t stopping. I didn’t finish work until 7 and needed to ignore it. I drank coffee and water but still wanted more to eat. I cursed myself for not bringing a potato to microwave and add to my lunch.

Then I remembered a noodle pot in my desk drawer.

1 syn but worth it. I went to the kettle in the rest room.

I tapped my fingers and waited the required 4 minutes for it to absorb the hot water. Then in less time than it took to prepare it was gone.

I felt a little triumphant. I posted a pic of it on Facebook and patted myself on the back. I’d surfed the wave and cheated hunger with 1 syn.

Then it started again driving home.

Food. I needed it. I could buy it on the way. Get something, anything to fill the gap.

I instead drove to the park for a walk but when I got there it started raining heavily and I decided against it. I drove home and opened the cupboard.

Gherkins.

Angie said pickles saved her on many occasions. I would eat those and it would go away.

I ate 4 huge pickled gherkins. And a tomato. And then another tomato. I drank another pint of water and went to watch the TV.

Nothing on. Crap on every channel. Shit.

I put a video game on. Gears of War. Violent. Mindless. Shoot aliens. Shoot more aliens. Blow their heads off. Take it out on their digital brainboxes with a digital shotgun.

This is making me think more about food.

Ok – I’m going to cook myself a meal. A good meal. I’m going to put lots of speed in it and Quorn and chop up the last five 1/2 syn Heck chicken sausages I have. I’ll have it with rice and sugar snap peas.

I go away and cook it. I make a large quantity and bulk it up with spring onions baby sweetcorn, asparagus, courgette and mushrooms. I add lots of Tabasco sauce so I can’t eat it fast. I’ll have to take it slow so that it wont burn my mouth.

My brain will get the message that my stomach is so slow in sending before I over eat.

I put half in Tupperware for work tomorrow and take the other half back to the living room.

I eat it while watching Netflix with my feet up. It lasts for 20 whole minutes. I drink more water and take my tablets.

And yet still I’m hungry. But that’s the final meal of the day. If I eat more now then I’m bingeing.

I close my eyes and breathe. I listen to the rain and decide to write about it. As I type on my phone there is still a rhythmic tapping on my recycling bin by the front window from the dripping gutter above it.

The bush next to it is swaying back and forth and I can hear the puddles splashing as they spread over the tyres of cars passing my house.

And still I’m hungry.

Thankfully I don’t have anything left in the kitchen to de-rail me. There’s nothing but ice in the freezer, lettuce in the fridge and beans in the cupboard.

The madness of it is that if I was REALLY hungry, I mean – if I hadn’t eaten for DAYS hungry, badly malnourished hungry, close to starvation hungry – then it would make no difference. 

I’d eat the beans. I’d hungrily gnaw at the lettuce. I’d suck the ice cubes. I’d eat the food I put aside for tomorrow, just for the chance of life.

But I don’t.

Because I don’t feel like eating the lettuce or the beans. My mind works differently to that. It wants something to fill me beyond my natural capacity and make me feel INSTANTLY happy.

It wants chips and kebabs and pizza and pasties and sausage and egg mcfuckingmuffins and all the things that I’ve trained it to desire.

It doesn’t care what they will do to me – it wants all that shit because in that one moment when I put it in my mouth and for a few fleeting moments after, before the shame sets in I’ll feel a rush and I’ll feel satisfied.

Then I’ll just feel tired and heavy and low and regretful. I’ll start worrying about how I’ll explain my failure yet again to people I love and look at the floor while they try to make me feel better even though I know I’m a failure again. The cycle will continue and I’ll eventually begin to make excuses not to do things so I can stay in and think negative thoughts and eat more.

And I’m still hungry.

But I’m not going to eat. I am not going to let it get me. I’m going to ignore it. Go to bed. Watch more Netflix or read.

Do anything internet, ANYTHING but eat.

Davey

How we affect others

I sat down this morning to write a card of condolence to the mother of my friend, whose father recently passed away. 

I’d put it off for a couple of days. I didn’t really know what to say. Who does in situations like this?

It’s impossible to know what’s right or wrong so I settled instead on trying to tell her in the card what her and her family mean to me. 

Sadly a couple of paragraphs can’t encapsulate what that is. 

Although I don’t see my friend’s mom anywhere near as much as I should lately she’s a very important person to me, and came into my life at just the right moment. 

My friend’s grandfather sounds like an inspirational man from what I’ve heard of his life. 

I met him a few times – but not enough to say I knew him. 

However his daughter’s family became a huge part of my life two decades ago when problems in my own family and personal life found me sleeping at their house probably way more often than was polite. 

At the time I don’t think either of our families were having an easy ride from life but I remember being bowled over by how they welcomed me into their home. 

I could for several weeks and months either be found sleeping on their sofa or on a camp bed in the dining room. 

Sometimes this was just convenient after a night out, but at other times it was because I couldn’t face what was waiting for me in my own home. 

My friend’s mom had more than enough going on in her life but she still found time to talk to me and we bonded. 

After writing and delivering the card today I’m ruminating on the often unintended influence people have in the lives of others. 

I think this began a few days ago when my friend described her grandad to me, and how he lived. 

I realised that his attitude to family and the world had probably benefitted me too. The kindness that his child and her children have shown me over the years has probably got a lot to do with his parenting. 

For this reason I feel I too should be grateful for his time on earth and as such this Sunday finds me in a reflective mood. 

I’m also feeling thoughtful because I’ve been reading other people’s blogs today – and I’m struck by how there is a spider’s web of cause and effect that stretches out from each and every one of us when we share our inner selves and (whether we intend to or not) try to help people or enrich the lives of others. 

Lately I’ve been feeling the benefit of support and honesty from individuals I’ve never met. They are often somewhere else in the world, many miles away from me and are dealing with their own battles. Yet still they take time out to say positive things when I struggle or feel the pressure. 

One such person is positivelymar. She has been wonderfully generous in the last few weeks and I feel it’s time to give her a shout out and say thanks. She can be found here with her latest cheery post:

https://positivelymar.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/week-4-on-weddings-and-things/

Keep going Mar 😉 you can do it!

Also I’ve been perusing a blog recommended by the ladies of slimming world called 

http://weightlossbitch.com

I can definitely relate to the things she writes – and the abuse she mentions from strangers who have called her names in the street is something that I’ve experienced in the past and posted about a couple of times. 

She’s also very frank about nearly opting for weight loss surgery – which I too almost went for until I veered away from it like she did.

Although I don’t deny it may work for some I can’t get away from the word that filled my head when I finally said no to the whole process. 

The word was ‘mutilated’. 

I finally realised that as well as continually abusing myself with food that that (instead of changing my ways) I was willing to let someone cut whole chunks out of me and literally throw them in the bin. 

So, I have a lot in common with this lady and her (constant) struggle. I hope she continues to do well, and stays away from gastric bands. 

So – there are my thoughts for the day. 

People impact our lives. All the time. 

You never ever know how that contact will pan out and what it will mean to you decades from now but I know that I am a much richer man because of my friend’s mom and the kindness she showed me when I needed it the most. 

She will always be in my heart and I hope the impact of her loss becomes easier with time. 

We can do coffee when she’s ready and have a longer talk. 

Anyway Internet. That’s enough heavy for one day. I need to go and buy some oily fish to keep my brain working as it should. 

Love the ones you know and love the ones you don’t know. One day they may become the ones you know and can’t do without. 

Davey

She speak a my language

Well the morning so far is going way better than expected. I woke up before my alarm at 8am and I’d decided what to cook for Slimming World.

Stuffed peppers.

The recipie in the Slimming World magazine looked easy enough – but I’d NEVER cooked stuffed peppers before – so it was a bit of a gamble.

It was time for a little challenge.

I’d double the ingredients and make enough for 8(ish) peppers – which chopped up should be enough for the group.

I started with the filling as directed – and two large onions went into the frying pan on a low heat to soften up. Before long the kitchen was filled with a warm caramel aroma.

These were joined before long with some garlic, and then a few moments later some mince (5% fat pork) and tomato puree.

Initially I started to measure the tomato puree with my spoons (I love my spoons) but then realised that it was a ‘free’ ingredient and guesstimated.

It looked about right.

Once the mince was browning off I added two cartons of chopped tomatoes with mixed herbs and two tablespoons of oregano (dried not fresh as I couldn’t find any in Sainsburys)

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While this simmered I topped and de-seeded the peppers. These had to be placed together tightly in a baking tray so that they they all stood upright while cooking. My battered old enamel one seemed to fit the bill, and they all looked really nice and summery when sitting together.

I was already thinking that I’d made the right choice – this would look way better than fishcakes.

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After 20 mins or so the mince and tomato mix had reduced down and was almost ready, so I turned off the heat and focused my attention on the feta cheese. This was not QUITE feta (but as near as dammit) as I decided to go for a healthier option.

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This was the one thing that needed weighing – as guessing this could result in my fellow slimmers getting sabotaged and that would NOT do.

I cut a chunk off the block that was just under the 90g I needed. It seemed surprisingly small – but I guess you don’t need much!

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So – since I was now cooking 7 peppers (it was all that would fit in the pan!) I was pretty careful about the amount that went into each. Instead of mixing it into the mince as the recipe suggested I portioned it up and put it individually into the peppers as I filled them.

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Once done they looked pretty cool and were ready to go in the oven.

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The recipe said 20-25 mins in the oven at gas mark thingy or electric heat whateveritwas.

I’m always a little unclear about cooking things in the oven for the first time at pre-set temperatures as I have no numbers on my dials.

My brother managed to scrub them all off years ago with a brillo pad when enthusiastically cleaning – so anything placed in my oven cooks at the speed of guesswork and finger crossing with a little bit of occasionally burned around the edges.

It wasn’t until they’d been in the oven for over 15 mins that I realised I had forgotten to add the Worcester sauce. It was just sitting on the work surface, unmolested with its plastic anti tamper wrapper intact.

Bollocks!!!

I opened the oven. The tops were already browning but I could totally save this. I individually lifted them off (HOT HOT HOT!!!) and with a teaspoon made a ‘sauce hole’.

Drip, drip drip. OK thats enough for all of them. Three shakes each. I put the pepper lids back on and popped it back in the oven.

(10 minutes pass.)

Ok – the tops of the peppers are cooked but the bottoms still look a bit crunchy.

I took the tops off and laid them out (in order) on another baking tray so that I knew which little hat went on which pepper. I then put the bottoms back in on the oven, set my timer for 10 mins and went to get changed.

I looked around for the lightest pants, tee-shirt and socks that I had, and my featherweight jogging bottoms. My top had a front print, but the combined weight wasn’t as heavy as my black tee-shirt which was made of thicker cotton.

Short of standing naked on the scales my outfit was the minimum I could possibly wear in polite company without them thinking my nipples were looking at them.

I wanted to lose weight this week more than anything and despite my clothes feeling loose it was the loss that meant the most to me. I wanted my two stone award so badly I could taste it – but I really really thought it had been a bad week. I wasn’t expecting anything but grief.

(note. There are two REGULAR readers who know who they are and will appreciate the bold type and extra special efforts on the last paragraph.)

My watch alarm pinged. It was now 10.20 and group started in 10 mins. Hopefully my peppers (which took way longer to prepare than the recipe said) would be done.

I padded downstairs in my lighter than air, spray on pants and opened the oven.

Phwoooar! Pepper porn….

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I’d cooked 7 but could only get 6 in my tupperware. That would have to do. I think each one accounted for 2 syns – so if they got halved it would be 1 syn per taste.

By the time I got to the meeting things were in full swing – and I popped my food on the table.

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There was quite a variety of food on the there already – and I was keen to try some of the things people had made. But first things first. NO FOOD UNTIL THE SCALES HAD BEEN STEPPED ON.

I took off my shoes, emptied my pockets and stepped on the scales.

I immediately found myself saying ‘I think its going to be bad. I think I’ve put on this week.’

I had to place it in context before the lady saw the horror and had to give me the bad news. I braced myself and waited for the machine to beep.

‘Four off.’ The lady whispered with a smile in her voice and looked at me with a grin.

IN YOUR FACE FAT!‘ I said (maybe a bit too loudly) and grinned from ear to ear. This takes me irritatingly close to the two stone mark.

Just 1/2lb away.

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But either way I’m edging ever closer! I also got slimmer of the week and got a basket of treats – which was a big boost, and gave me another little sticker for the back of my book (although now I have enough teabags to start a coffee shop lol!

While we waited for Angie to start her usual talk the group chatted and people started comparing notes about what they had cooked and how they did it. I took my chance to ask for some slow cooker tips as I’ve still not tried to make pulled pork.

Hopefully now I’ve been armed with enough info from the responses I will be able to give it a go!

Angie briefly then took centre stage, talked through what was on the table and how it was made – then it was time to eat!!!

My particular favourites were a loaf (which I need to get the recipe written down for as I’ve ALREADY forgotten it) made predominantly from beans and rice and Angie’s absolutely divine mini quiches (Ham base in a fairy cake case filled with bacon, leek, quark and eggs) and some little meringue thingies – which just melted in my mouth for (a totally worth it) two syns!

People seemed to like my peppers too (including me I’m ashamed to say!) and I think I’ll definitely make them again.

I have to say the meeting was brilliant – absolutely my favourite of all so far.

Some people had big losses after working REALLY hard for the week and most others kept moving toward their goals. Even the ones who’d struggled that week looked happy after Angie had finished with them!

She really is rather a good egg. 🙂

Everyone today seemed in a really good mood as they left, and while clearing the hateful little red chairs with the others I spent a while chatting to one of the ladies about blogs and weight loss in general, which was really really nice – and she pointed me at another blog which I’ll have a look at later.

I have to say it was totally worth getting up early and making the effort. 

I’m beginning to realise that Saturday mornings is now part of my routine. Although I approach it with mixed feelings (either hope or trepidation and it’s never a pleasant moment stepping on the scales) it’s a positive and life affirming start to the week. We all get together and try to make sure no-one falls off the wagon and if they do they’re helped back on again.

As I left one of the girls said:

‘Remember Dave – even if you think you’ve f**ked it up then f**k it. Come anyway and get on the f**king scales.’

Honestly internet I couldn’t have put it f**king better my f**king self.

She speak a my language.

Davey

Gooseligans and fishcakes

‘Spend a bit more on a good cream.’ The GP said. ‘Spray on suntan lotion just comes off. You need a better brand – try Ambre Solaire.’

Honestly I had been trying to economise last week. Everything that I’m buying now represents money that I will not see replenished for a while so all of a sudden I’m Mr Frugal.

I’d bought some Sainsburys own brand sun tan cream – factor 50.

Shortly after weigh in last Saturday on a warm but overcast day I walked around the park for an hour in my cut price lotion.

The consequences a few hours later were not good. As the day wore on I realised that I’d burned. Burned unusually badly – even for me. I bought some Aloe Vera and covered my arms in it. It made no difference.

All I could do was scratch, and it was driving me crazy.

When I sat in work on Monday to hear the bad news it was still raw, and embarrassingly itchy and flaky. Since I was going to the doctor anyway to discuss my heel pain later that afternoon I also took the opportunity to mention my skin.

For this reason I now have unusually expensive suncream in my rucksack, and thank goodness for spending a few pounds extra. The sun got worse (I’m aware some may describe this as ‘better’ but not me) as the week wore on – and for once there were none of my preferred grey and overcast days.

I hid indoors because of my arms until Thursday and by then the problem seemed to be getting better. My right heel was also feeling good so I decided to cover myself from head to foot and head out in Arrow Valley for a walk around the lake.

When I arrived the park was buzzing. As I locked my car and started my walk meter app a small army of mothers emerged from a fleet of mini vans and SUV’s. They were heading out en masse (it seemed like some kind of club) with prams and toddlers, ensuring that if nothing else most of the benches would be filled up for the majority of the way.

However as it was a nice day I decided that if I was thwarted by the presence of alien bottoms at my usual pit stops I’d just sit on the grass instead.

The floor however was full as well to begin with – but not with the outward bound moms.

Unlike Warwick, Arrow Valley has no swanlings, but there are some similarities between parks. Like the pigeons in Warwick the geese appear to have recently been engaging in sexy time.

Lots of sexy time.

They are EVERYWHERE.

They also have a slightly more ‘Redditch’ attitude – and despite following everyone that looked like they were in possession of a loaf there appeared to be a hardcore of hissing and quite annoyed ‘Gooseligans‘ that were doing nothing but trying to intimidate their benefactors (and the poor ducks) by hissing and pecking at them.

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Redditch goslings look cute but given that they all seem to be growing up to be vicious little f*****s I think I prefer Warwick Swanlings.

Otherwise the walk was lovely – but tiring. As well as sweating so much I turned my entire shirt a shade darker than it was when I began, I managed to hurt an entirely new muscle group in the front of my right thigh.

Lord knows what it’s called but I am now 100% sure how it feels when you pull it. However – its embarrassingly close to my man parts, so for the time being I’ll just ignore it in line with established male medical practices and wait until something falls off.

It took slightly longer than last time – but it was HOT and I spent a while being harassed by geese.

Overall however the GP recommended suntan cream proved to be a resounding success and despite my sweaty demeanour it had somehow remained in place. My arms looked an odd (healthy?) shade of brown today rather than my usual ‘bright red and burned‘ or ‘albino bubble boy‘ looks.

When I got back to work from the park I was the only one there. So many people have changed shifts for job interviews, exams, training, fallen sick or had holiday booked etc that there was simply no-one in the office but me.

I’ve never had that happen before. It was quite sad.

I looked around the room (which holds about 150 people), initially amazed to see it so quiet, and then decided that the best thing to do would be to get my music out and put it on full blast.

When the evening shift arrived over an hour later I was still doing this – and a bemused pair of colleagues found me bopping along to Robert Palmer ‘Addicted to Love’ at my desk with a lack of shame only displayed by a man who thinks he is completely invisible to others.

After chatting briefly to them about the current state of affairs I left work for the day and entered a whole new level of stress.

There’s a food tasting session at the Slimming World group tomorrow and as well as my usual worries about weigh ins (I think I might have put weight on this week and I’m crapping myself) I have absolutely no idea what to cook.

Through yesterday evening and today I’ve been agonising over what people might like, how to present it (I’ve never made finger food!) and what to take it in.

I was discussing it this evening with a fellow (very supportive) dieter at work – and thought I’d hit the nail on the head with him.

Initially I had settled on fishcakes – and he liked the idea. We had looked at the picture in the SW magazine together and they did indeed look pretty.

However after 45 minutes in Sainsburys this evening trying to decide which fish to use (the one in the recipe was apocalyptically expensive) and in what quantities (how many would I need?!) I decided against it.

Plus I had no idea how big to make the fishcakes – and if I made them a lot smaller would the cooking time vary?

Arrrrrrgh!!! I’m almost the only guy there and if I turn up with tiny squares of beans on toast in fairy cake cases with a swirl of HP sauce I’ll look like a complete nugget!

Thankfully I bought enough ingredients to do a couple of things and I’ll get up early tomorrow to make a start on one of them. Inspiration will have to wait until the morning. Necessity will be the mother of invention.

Although… I think I’ve settled on stuffed peppers.

No. Wait. Fishcakes.

No. No. Stuffed peppers.

Gnnnnghhh!

Dammit internet- you’re no help!!! You’re supposed to be telling me what I should make!

I guess tomorrow morning I’ll just have to wing it. Tune in tomorrow for the post carnage report.

Davey

What do I love?

I struggled to focus yesterday – and my mind was in a million different places (or so it seemed) all at once.

I started the day cooking. Cooking lots. Three meals at once. This was a sure sign that hunger was on my mind and that I was in a danger zone.

Truthfully I’d been in one all week. The stress of life has made me want to eat anything not nailed down – particularly sweet things which is very unlike me.

I’d had a lot of nightmares, woken up stressed and thinking about food.

If I pre-prepared everything for the day, measured it, boxed it and put it in my rucksack then I’d be safe. Failure would be impossible.

Firstly I prepared my oats – a Slimming world favourite of mine. 35g of rolled oats are classed as a healthy extra, and I mix them in a tupperware box with natural yogurt, cinnamon, Truvia, strawberries and blueberries. They’re delicious, natural, and waaaaay better than a bowl of crappy coco pops.

Ok – breakfast done. The first box is ready.

Then I turned my attention to the stir-fry, which was already taking shape on the hob. 

Lean pork strips and a bag of pre prepared stir fry with additional soy sauce and a couple of cloves of garlic.

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This would see me through work until the evening – and the protein would keep me feeling full. I stirred the contents of the large frying pan and added a bit more soy sauce.

Hmmm. I might need a snack.

I picked a chilled red apple from the fridge and placed it in my bag.

OK – what about my evening meal….

I couldn’t come home hungry. I’d be chewing the door to get into the kitchen otherwise.

I would fill the slow cooker – that makes a bowl and a half of something or other.

Curry – I’d do a chicken balti stew and use my new measuring spoons for the curry paste. That’s 2 syns measured and accounted for.

I got my spoons on eBay. They’re magnetic, stick together – and the red matches my crockery. 

I really like them!

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I’ve never before owned a measuring spoon – and certainly not a tablespoon. Honestly I wonder who does as I’ve never seen them in anyone’s kitchen but they seem omnipresent in almost all recipes.

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I finished filling the slow cooker with ingredients, turned it to low, boxed up my stir fry, wrapped several carrier bags around my tupperware to avoid leakage, placed them in my bag, and made my way to the car, and then work.

As the day wore on I talked to many colleagues while they milled in and out of the office for their appointments with HR. They’ve all asked me and themselves the same question.

‘What are you planning to do next?’

Some have pre-prepared and surprising answers, ranging from chainsaw wrangling to HGV certification. Others feel they will waste a lifetime of study if they change professions and are laser focused on finding something as close as they can to the current status quo. Some still want to pursue roles that may be available in other parts of our company.

There isn’t a unifying response.

At the moment I can’t answer for myself and what I want. I’ve tried a few times – but when the question is asked it ultimately leaves a void hanging in the air that doesn’t currently seem to be fillable.

It’s awkward.

As I type though I’m struck by the fact that I seem to have come full circle since my very first blog post. When I wrote it I was preoccupied with the question ‘What do I love?’

At the time I couldn’t answer.

The question had been gnawing at me for a long time and had made me realise that my life was largely superficial. 

I liked many things but loved nothing. The way I lived had numbed me to most of what surrounded me.

Honestly although some parts of me still feel that way from time to time I definitely feel like I’m different now. 

Not just physically, but mentally.

Although it’s nice to know people read my blog (and I like it to be interesting) I never really set out to do anything other than prove to myself that after years of simply consuming the work and content of others I could once again create something and sustain that creativity.

As life moved on so has my blog. In a relatively short space of time it changed from being about dropping out and getting a dog to facing up to a long term problem with alcohol and the death of my mother. I used it to confront my feelings about these in much the same way as I would use a mirror to come to terms with my reflection.

The act of editing, spell checking, re-writing and trying to ensure honesty has in the past left me exhausted. 

Clicking ‘publish’ when everything is linked to Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Facebook can sometimes be quite daunting. People you have never met will sometimes see you at your worst and once you have presented this version of yourself then it can’t be taken back.

It’s out there. (cue spooky music)

My diarising has moved recently to another battle – this time with weight, and the theme has become one which I am intensely uncomfortable with – physical fitness.

This is something that I’ve always felt out of place talking about (I still more often than not feel like a failure and a fraud even with minor successes) but like everything else I’ve experienced, the revelation I’m faced with is not that I’m unusual, but how much like everyone else I am.

Funnily enough, they’re also a lot like me. We all periodically struggle for one reason or another and we all feel frail from time to time.

Writing about this has often brought people into my life that I didn’t know who have shared similar experiences, or just feel like they’re also struggling. 

Because I’ve been open they have been kind enough to do the same with me – and often what’s been shared has been truly humbling. The more honest I am, the more people comment or directly share their experiences with me – and the closer I have become to many of them.

I never realised before I started writing that there was a wall around my life, and the world was standing right behind it – within touching distance.

I think what I’m trying to say is that today – amongst all the questions about what to do with my life I realised that I can now say that I have something that I love in my life, and that’s writing.

I think about it all the time, and I now look forward to it as an act of combined creation and therapy. It’s made me think differently about everything and look for the simple things in situations that can enable me to describe how they make me feel.

For a while I tried to use mindfulness to relax, but now I use the structure of words, sentences and paragraphs in my head to bring order and calm. If you see me drift off it’s highly likely I’m considering how I would write about whatever is happening around me.

Every moment has become part of of the creative process, and I cannot imagine at the moment how I ever lived without writing about my thoughts and my life – good or bad.

 Internet – even if this isn’t what I end up doing for a living it really doesn’t matter, because I now know the answer to my question. 

I have two things I now love.

Writing and honesty.

Dave 

Moobs

The other half live pretty well by all accounts.

If the Bupa clinic I was sitting in was anything to go by then life in the healthcare private sector was both financially rewarding and relaxed.

Faced with a choice of several exceptionally swanky looking seats when I arrived in reception I chose one of two striped sofas in the corner with a head height back and arms.

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I sat myself down gingerly (things tend to unexpectedly break with me if i’m not careful) but I needn’t have worried.

This felt gooooood. It was sturdy and comfortable! I liked this sofa. I could snuggle up in it and the world couldn’t see me. It was great!

I looked at the selection of magazines on the coffee table.

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Uh-Oh.

This appeared to be unfamiliar territory. I had never heard of either of these publications.

I needed to be careful not to betray myself. They mustn’t find out that I was a commoner. I mustn’t seem overly impressed.

Play it cool Dave.

‘I like your sofa!’ I shouted to the receptionist, who was out of sight on the front desk.

‘It’s got really high arms!’ I said, checking around me in case anyone could see me before I bounced up and down on it. ‘And its springy too!!’

‘Thank you.’ The receptionist replied, shuffling my paperwork before calling me over to sign it.

I’d booked myself in for a health MOT to see whether my efforts with Slimming World were making any difference, particularly to my diabetes.

Two years ago I’d refused to do this when asked to because I couldn’t face up to the truth. Now I was trying to think differently.

‘Your nurse – Emma – will be with you in a minute.’ The receptionist told me.

I returned to my place of rest, moved the coffee table to the right, extended and crossed my legs, sank into the sofa, folded my arms and looked at my surroundings. I was early for my appointment and I might as well relax and take in the luxury.

Beside me were rows of shiny light green doors, all a perfect uniform colour – each with their own room number etched onto a brushed aluminium plate. If Ikea made hospitals – this is the kind of hospital it would make.

Later than expected Emma arrived to find me half asleep and cordially greeted me with a handshake before leading me upstairs. On the way the young nurse discussed what my health check (paid for by my soon to be no more company health plan) would entail and started asking the first of many important and searching questions.

‘Do you want a wee?’ She asked.

‘Ummmm…’ I answered.

‘If you can do me one I can test it.’ she said – handing me an impossibly small sample container with a smile.

‘It needs to be mid-stream.’

‘I think I might struggle at the moment.’ I admitted – immediately knowing I’d be unable to produce anything of value working to a deadline.

‘No problem. Would you like water?’ She said – already pouring me a large glass from the tap.

She turned and handed it to me.

I played it cool again.

‘Your glasses are green – just like the doors!’ I said.

‘Yes.’ she replied and led me a the room, ushered me in and motioned to a comfortable fabric seat.

‘AND the chairs are green as well!’ I enthused.

‘Yes. They all match.’ She agreed.

‘AND the walls!’ I said, pointing at the wall.

‘You’d be really screwed if I had a phobia of green things!’

‘Yes. We would.’ She smiled.

I think I pulled it off. Casual and worldly. Nailed it.

The exam began. We started with an ECG.

‘We’ve had problems with this today.’ she confided. ‘Its hot and the pads aren’t sticking. People are all sweaty.’

Sure enough, nothing stuck. Little sticky pad after little sticky pad fell to the floor or flopped onto the gurney. Sweaty is clearly my super power.

I suggested surgical tape – but she looked crestfallen and said that she had none and that more drastic measures were needed. She leaned over me and produced a small plastic safety razor from the drawer.

‘Is it ok if I shave you?’ She asked.

‘Ummmm… OK…’ I replied.

I learned later when she took blood and sellotaped cotton wool to my arm that this was a convenient fabrication and there was tape. I now realise that this was instead an excuse to shave a trench between my moobs (much to her amusement) and give me an incredibly itchy (and messy) landing strip…

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(please forgive the borderline pornographic and arousing nature of this intimate photography)

After this ritual humiliation my blood pressure was investigated with not one but two cuffs – and then followed by blood tests.

Emma hinted at my sample jar but I shrugged. Wee was still a distant dream. We ploughed on regardless.

Soon she went to collect my results. I was hopeful for a win from the efforts over the last two months with Slimming World – and keen to see the current state of affairs. Pleasingly my blood sugars appear to be more under control than they were in January when I was drinking like a fish and eating like a pig.

My Hba1c test shows 51 mmol/mol, which is a lot better than the last time it was tested. An HbA1c level of 48 mmol/mol or above indicates type 2 diabetes, so I’m now just above the minimum amount classified as diabetic. When I was first diagnosed and my levels were at their peak I was pissing like a racehorse every 30 mins and it was 96 mmol/mol.

My blood pressure is also good – resting at 112/72 mmHg meaning I’m firmly in the green. On occasion in the past this has crept up – and since I got told I was being made redundant yesterday I’m pretty pleased that I’m this chilled 🙂

Cholesterol however is not so great. I’d decided a few weeks ago (after reading about Statins and their relationship with diabetes) to stop taking the Simvastatin prescribed by my GP and see if my healthy eating would have the positive impact that I was hoping for.

Sadly it’s crept up without the pills and is now 6.57 mmol/L whereas I’d previously had it down to 4.1. Looks like I’m taking the pills again 😦

Oddly I’m also deficient in HDL cholesterol which is irritating because I’m eating oily fish like it’s about to disappear from the planet. Many Mackerel have fallen on my dietary sword lately, and it looks like many more more will have to in the future, along with increased volumes of nuts and seeds.

Tests have proven I also have excellent hearing – which will irritate my brother no end as I’m sure he thinks I’m deaf. I can now prove in arguments beyond any doubt that actually he talks really quietly!

Yay for science!

So – my efforts with Slimming World and elsewhere appear to be having benefits. I’m in a good mood about my Hba1c of 51 mmol/mol– and glad I had the tests. It’s good motivation to keep up with the exercise and the diet and keep moving onwards even if I hit a low week (so far this one has been tough on so many levels.)

Well internet – if you’ve managed to retain your lunch after looking at my moobs then I wish you all the best. You’re of hardy stock. Man cleavage will soon be a thing of the past however, so enjoy it while it lasts!

I will continue to waddle onward and upward (or maybe on the same level – verticality is very tiring).

Davey

Wallet wide open

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I hugged my curly colleague. I haven’t seen her for a while. We air kissed as we said hello (it’s how we roll) and both laughed.

She’s been on maternity leave for a few months and her hair looked different. Was it longer? Or was it just darker?

Darker I decided. It was a different shade. As always she was casually well dressed and looking both summery and relaxed. However – for her as well as the rest of us being in the office today wasn’t just a chance for reunion but also to discuss endings.

Forty nine people from different teams and shift patterns stood together in the same room for probably the first and last time as we all waited for our HR department and VP to arrive and give us details about what would happen to our jobs.

I looked around the largely empty room (so many have gone already – it used to be filled with life and energy) and I knew all of them by name.

I also know in a lot of cases the names of their wives and husbands – even the names of their children and siblings.

I remember some of them back when they had no significant other, and in the case of the ladies quite a few when they had different names.

I’ve seen them angry, sad, happy, bereaved, getting married, celebrating, commiserating, falling in love (sometimes with eachother), arguing, saying sorry, getting drunk, getting sober, working, playing, doing naughty things in Amsterdam and just generally being lovely people.

I could leave my wallet wide open on the desk in front of any of them and I’d come back a day later to find it exactly as I left it.

Many have offered me and eachother help in times of trouble and given liberally what they had to people who are in essence like family to eachother.

Out of work I know some of them as best friends – confidants who can be trusted with the most personal of secrets. They have shared their weaknesses and faults with me as I have shared mine with them.

They aren’t complete saints though. They’d all have stolen my milk from the fridge without blinking an eyelid.

When it comes to cow juice they all turn into cat burglars.

They’ve also led me astray in the past and on several vaguely remembered Christmas parties, weddings and in Dutch coffee shops (back when I partook of alcohol and cigarettes) we have encouraged each other to drink and smoke waaaay more than was a good idea.

We’ve also shared hangovers.

All of these thoughts and more crowded into my mind in one go, and I instantly felt overwhelmingly and desperately sad.

I can get another job but I can’t replace these people. They’e all unique, and it feels right when they are all together like this.

The news was not good. Every last remaining part of my business unit in the UK was to be dismantled. In two months the office will be silent – the fridge empty and the non existent milk un-pilferable.

My curly colleague (who used to delight in bringing order to this often chaotic communal penicillin factory) will have to focus on her own fridge, and not the one in our rest room.

Initially the reaction was quiet. Some hushed whispers behind me voiced dissent in angry tones, others eventually asked blunt questions and queried the wording of the news.

Some challenged the wisdom behind the decision – others asked whether there was any chance the company would change its mind.

There would be no reprieve, came the answer – and no stay of execution.

Some ‘lucky’ people may (they said) be able to transition elsewhere in different parts of the business but it was made clear that such positions were few and far between and no preferential treatment would be given.

The vast majority of us therefore (if not all) would have to hand back company property, clean our desks and go in under two months. In the meantime it would be business as usual – although I’m really not sure what ‘usual’ is now.

Everyone seems to have had the stuffing knocked out of them. Myself included.

So – that’s that. I’ve zero interest in staying to be screwed over further down the line and I’m not convinced I could stay even if I wanted to.

This it seems is an end to it, and we will all have to decide individually what to do next.

Thankfully an end these days isn’t what it once was. Facebook exists, e-mail exists, mobile phones, text messages and chat apps exist. People don’t loose contact any more – or disappear like they used to when I was younger.

We all have a digital presence and since we’re all already connected I dearly hope that we manage to remain in contact – and occasionally meet up as a group to remember the good times.

Although it might not seem like it today – there were a lot over the years and I wish there had been time for more of them. Maybe before we go our separate ways we will manage to fit in a few new memories to take with us on our travels.

Hopefully when the day finally comes it will all end with a smile and not with sadness.

Davey

Burned but virtuous

It’s Sunday – a day of rest.

I in contrast feel like I should be doing anything but resting.

I’ve spent most of my adult life doing nothing but sitting, sleeping, sitting some more, lying down and just generally avoiding the world.

Today though my body is betraying me.

Honestly I think it owes me more than a bit of payback given the abuse I’ve subjected it to over the decades. Today though it’s making up for past insults in spades. As well as chronic heel pain my sensitivity to sun is beginning to become a problem as the weather improves.

Despite having factor 50 in the car and the house just in case – and liberally covering myself in it before going outside or driving to work I burn so easily that in the past it’s continually stopped me from going out at all.

Yesterday a journey around the park with a cloudy, rather than blue sky (liberally covered in sun tan lotion) resulted in seriously burned and now swollen and flaking arms. This happened regardless of the lashings of aloe vera I covered them with when I realised how bad it was.

Needless to say my willingness to go for walk today or mow my lawns in the currently blue and very sunny environment outside is greatly diminished, and I feel it’s really unfair.

I only have one long sleeved item of clothing that fits and it’s a fleecy hooded top, which is not ideal to mow the lawn or walk in on a hot summer day. Even in the winter thanks to my excess timber it makes me feel hot and sweaty.

I feel I should get something new but then I stop myself before I do.

I don’t want to buy more huge clothes at the moment because frankly I don’t intend to need them much longer. I have suitcases full of nice shirts and jeans of all sizes and I plan to use them again one day soon.

Plus, knowing the UK as soon as I buy long sleeved tops the sun will disappear.

Not so long ago bravado and an unwillingness to change my habits often found me telling others that I hated gardening, the outdoors and exercise – and that they were for other people – not me.

Underneath my smokescreen however was someone that loves the (shady parts of the) outside world, and gets immense pleasure from nature – even if it does currently wear him out.

At least now I feel the impetus to be different – and that’s something thats worth holding onto, even if at the moment I can’t go outside.

I did recently look into the cost of joining a local gym (shady environment), but honestly with redundancy coming up I’m more focused on saving money than adding to my bills.

I just cancelled Netflix for heavens sake and that’s only £7.50 a month!

Nuffield Health locally is £69pm!!! There are other cheaper ones like Living Well at the Hilton – but that’s still £20pm.

Plus I have a gym quality exercise bike at home.

Also, the last time I was a member of a gym I joined to meet people with a similar mindset for camaraderie and realised the hard way that no-one talks to anyone in such places unless they can absolutely help it.

They put on headphones and they’re focused on the task at hand. They absolutely do not make eye contact, unless they’re in the changing rooms and then they wander around with their dangly bits swinging back and forth talking incessantly about work.

Not really my scene.

Plus I’d rather walk outdoors than on a hamster wheel. Its free and when I’m not burning I like it.

As I can’t do this today I’ve taken my mind off things with some nice coffee, a bit of writing and some cooking.

My virtuous food choices since my weigh in have been excellent ones. Despite being peeved with my 1lb loss I haven’t screwed the pooch and I’ve stuck to the Slimming World plan.

Yesterday evening I had a fruit and vegetable salad, and for the very first time combined  an orange with an apple, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and lettuce in the same bowl – with surprisingly good results.

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I’ve never put an orange into any kind of salad – but I’m now left wondering why!

Aside from a dash of cider vinegar the food didn’t really need dressing as the orange and the apple did all the heavy lifting, adding a citrous and tangy twist to what would otherwise have been a mundane collection of vegetables.

This morning, breakfast (originally intended to be a bacon, egg and lettuce toasted sandwich) was a Quorn stir-fry.

I know it’s an odd choice of food for the start of the day, but (inspired by a lady at slimming world talking about throwing everything she could find in soup on Saturday) I decided to cook everything I had left before my shopping delivery arrived and clean the remnants out of the fridge.

Carrots, broccoli, chestnut mushrooms, courgette, garlic, Quorn, soy sauce and some (slightly floppy) coriander all combined to make a rather tasty start to the day with absolutely tons of ‘speed’ food.

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I’m beginning to like the idea of having more meat free meals – which previously I’ve not thought highly of. Occasionally having entirely vegetable based dishes is a great way I think to accelerate my objectives.

I don’t want to cut meat out entirely though – just have a better balance.

At the same time I made this I thought it would be a good idea to pop some ingredients into my slow cooker (new favourite toy!) and make something for later in the evening.

Although most things start off in the slow cooker looking decidedly average they seem to end the day tasting completely awesome! I honestly can’t believe I never bought one before!

(Well – technically I still haven’t as this one was gifted to me almost brand new by a very generous friend)

At 12.30pm approx the slow cooker took on board some cubed lean casserole steak, a potato, mushrooms, an onion, a carton of chopped tomatoes, a beef stock cube and some garlic. I set it to high and completely forgot about it.

In fact I only remembered it was there shortly before 7pm when a heavenly smell drew me to the kitchen. The vegetables now looked like a rich ragu and the beef was simply falling apart on my spoon.

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In the past when I’ve cooked these kinds of things on a hob they’ve always stuck to the pan and there’s been endless stirring involved. At the risk of using a pun, its ‘driven me potty.

Nothing could be further from this sour experience than my wonderful new toy. It’s also a doddle to clean – which is a major win!

So today hasn’t been a total bust. Plus I now have all the ingredients needed for the first of two new salmon dishes I intend to cook from scratch this week. Angie has been at pains to remind everyone that eating the same stuff over and over will not result in weight loss – and I’m trying to have as much variety as I can.

Sigh.

Oh well – tomorrow is another (hopefully less sunny) day and I’m sure I’ll feel less itchy at least.

Emotionally however things may be not so ok, as the entire office (including all of the shift workers who are normally on nights or on days off ) are being summoned by HR to hear the company’s plans to streamline the business.

We’ll no doubt delight in how they plan to pay shareholders fatter dividends whilst at the same time removing the cumbersome burden of employing us.

Internet – its going to be wonderful – I just know it.

For the time being I must go to bed, despite knowing I will not sleep.

Bon Nuit.

Davey

It will just take a little time.

While in Starbucks yesterday I was seated next to an old man.

When I arrived at my seat he was by the window, in a chair that if I’m honest I’d have preferred instead of the one I sat in just opposite him.

He had a better view.

I looked around for another similar chair – but none were available. I’d have to make do with one by the wall.

He wasn’t drinking anything, and I assumed that someone was waiting in the queue to get drinks for him, but as time went on no drinks arrived. He was just quietly sitting there.

He was slenderly built, had dark thick rimmed glasses and neatly combed silver (not white) hair. The collar of his white shirt was unbuttoned, and over the top of it he wore a blue v-neck pullover with grey slacks and black polished shoes.

His freckled hands were resting, one on top of the other on the table in front of him, and his attention was on the car park. He seemed serene and peaceful, and while I worked on my laptop he made no movements that I noticed or said anything.

Instead he continued to watch the passing and parking cars and the people seated outside his window.

About half an hour into my stay an elderly lady arrived and with her back to me she began talking quietly to him. I couldn’t hear the words but she clearly seemed intent on privacy.

She then stepped back from his seat very slightly and out of the corner of my eye I saw him grasping shakily on the side of the table, which moved as he tried to lift himself from the chair. He steadied himself against the window and tried to rise.

The table moved a bit more and he sat back down firmly in the chair.

The lady stayed still, her arms slightly outstretched.

‘I can do it.’ I heard him say firmly but quietly to the elderly lady standing in front of him.

‘I know you can.’ She replied in a hushed voice, now shielding any view of him from the rest of the coffee shop with the angle of her body, but still not touching him.

As I looked at her from behind I doubted she could have lifted him or caught him. She was very slender, and looked quite frail.

Again he grasped the round table in front of him and leaned against the window with his right arm, raising himself from the dark brown wooden chair.

The small table again moved, and with nothing to hold on to on the side of the window he slipped and again sat down heavily.

He sighed.

I turned to see if I could catch their eye. Neither were looking at me, and the lady was now leaning in closer to him, still whispering.

They continued to talk quietly for a few minutes and he didn’t attempt to stand again.

‘Can I help?’ I asked in a hushed voice behind them. ‘I don’t want to get in the way if you want to do it yourself, but if you need help I can give you an arm.’

I was acutely aware that just by saying this I risked his humiliation – and I was probably the very type of person his wife was trying to help him avoid, but I found it impossible to not say anything.

‘No thank you’ he said, leaning forward and looking around his wife. ‘I’m OK but thank you for asking. It will just take a little time.’

‘Ok no problem.’ I said ‘I hope you don’t mind me asking – I just felt I needed to offer.’

I turned my attention back to my laptop and carried on typing, trying to ignore his continuing struggle out of the corner of my eye.

Over the course of a few minutes, with the gentle encouragement of (I assume) his wife, the man eventually managed to get upright, and stood to the right of me with one hand resting on the coffee table.

His wife started walking back toward the supermarket. As she moved away he turned to face me, standing upright.

‘I keep falling over.’ he said quietly when she was out of earshot.

“It’s silly really. I’ve been walking all day and I’ve been fine. At home I can get about OK – I know all of the rooms and I move about fine. Here, its different. It’s silly really.’

‘I understand.’ I replied. ‘I know what it’s like to worry about where you’re going and where you will sit.’

I looked him in the eye. ‘It’s not easy.’ I said. ‘I understand how you feel.’

I smiled – trying to absorb his embarrassment and make him feel he wasn’t alone, but it didn’t seem to be working. He still seemed like he needed to explain.

‘It’s silly really.’ He said again, now looking a bit sad. ‘There’s no problem at home. I used to be fine…’

He went quiet and looked after his wife, who was now out of sight.

‘Well you’re up now’ I smiled again ‘and it’s a nice day out there!’

He looked outside and nodded, then looked back at me with a slight smile.

‘Thank you.’ he said, and then turned to follow his wife.

I watched him as he walked away from me just in case – but he was right. He was walking just fine, and looked perfectly steady.

I’m not sure why early in the morning I’m still awake and still thinking about this man – or why I’ve been playing this brief conversation and meeting over and over in my head.

He looked like a nice guy, and his wife (or friend) looked like she cared about him. They were getting old together, and she wanted to shield him from embarrassment – whereas he just wanted to be the man he had always been – and be confident in his surroundings.

I can definitely relate to him, and his wife – and I also admire his dogged determination.

Even when it would have been easier and safer for me to lift him out of his seat he chose the difficult and scary alternative. He lifted himself, and stood up under his own steam, in his own time, and then walked off, un-compromised and unaided.

Maybe he should have accepted my help, but (although I’m glad I offered it) I’m glad he didn’t take it. He remained an independent man for another day, and in doing so lodged himself in my thoughts.

Davey

1.5 Syns

Right. Thoughts for the day ahead.

Step one – remain positive & think positive thoughts.

Step two – do positive things.

Step three – be positive with others and create your own positive atmosphere.

Step four – celebrate successes and stay to group.

I need a mantra today – some kind of psychobabble to keep the negative moments at bay. These (made up as I type) will be my approach to the day.

So – firstly – Wrecked sleep.

If there’s anything that will undermine you it’s tiredness, and last night was a doozy. I went to bed at 11, was still awake at 12, got up to watch TV, went to bed again at 1.30am, tossed and turned then woke up at approx 4.30am WIDE AWAKE.

I was like this until 20 mins before I had to get up – at which time I fell into blissful slumber that was immediately destroyed by my alarm.

I don’t need to go into what I was thinking. Anyone reading regularly will know.

Work.

I’m boring myself writing and talking about it now – but it won’t go away. So – nuts to stewing – time to get up and go.

I need to weigh in.

(generously proportioned but disarmingly charming writer moves from home to the Slimming World meeting)

Today the group was fairly quiet – and a lot of people were passing through, clearly not wanting to stay to group – but bravely still weighing in. There were a few glum faces, a few relieved looks and a couple of new members that I’d not seen before.

I presented my card, took all items out of my pockets, kicked off my shoes and stepped on the scales.

One pound off.

I’m not going to lie – this felt unjust. I worked my arse off last week and I think I deserved more. There were no syns – no blow out meals, no sneaky additions, and seven miles of exhausting walking.

BUT – screw it. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and I was partially prepared for this. I had a big loss last week, and I can’t have that every week. It’s still 10lb in 2 weeks and I need to hold on to that.

As always the group was chatty when Angie started discussing how people had done.

Many it seemed were in the same boat this week – a lot of maintains, a few gains and a few precious and inspirational losers. It’s one of those weeks where you have no option but to dig deep and move on.

I actually got the slimmer of the week award – which I felt was a little unfair having lost only one pound – but it was nice to have nevertheless.

One of the really lovely things was a can of tuna in the basket – a fellow slimmer had carefully taped ‘1.5 syns’ to the top of it, to make absolutely sure that it wasn’t hoovered up as a free food and didn’t de-rail anyone. I thought this was really nice – as often the basket can be pretty bemusing!

This week Angie (and another on the FB group) cooked tandoori salmon – and it looked absolutely lush. In the basket was the spice mix to do this so I know what I’m having for tea tonight or tomorrow!!!

Thanks whoever that was if they’re reading 🙂

After the group, despite this positivity I’ll be honest and say I felt a little deflated.

Old me would take this and hibernate. Old me would buy food or alcohol, sit in front of a video game or box set and bury the feelings under some form of habitual behaviour.

New me wants nothing to do with this behaviour. Although new me aches all over from tiredness and exercise (and my effing plantar fasciitis) he realises that this can be remedied by getting off his fat ass and doing something.

Time for the park.

St Nicholas was busy today – and it contained friendly fellow Slimming Worlders doing their thing and burning off a few pounds, which was a nice little boost! It’s always worth remembering that someone else is also trying hard, and on their own little journey. I stopped to say hi and we swapped figures for what we had lost this week, wished each other luck for the next encounter with the evil scales of doom and moved onwards.

We’re all satellites in roughly the same orbit it seems – just at different stages.

So the walk was instantly different. Today I haven’t eaten much. Just a breakfast bar and some coffee, but wow – even without sleep I instantly felt more energetic.

Oddly this seemed to manifest itself most noticeably in recovery time rather than increased overall distance. Broadly speaking I was stopping almost as regularly (minus one bench!) but when I did stop my heart rate calmed faster and my legs stopped wobbling quicker.

I took about 5 minutes off my previous time!

Oddly the app thinks I did less steps per minute and burned less calories than last time but I forgive it’s blatant ignorance.

This was all very encouraging. On the way I also found the Swanlings (it’s my new word and I like it – ‘cygnet’ sounds like an item to purchase from H Samuel, not a fuzzy swan) from earlier in the week.

They appear to be doing well – and it occurred to me that they have a much harder life than mine, yet they seemed more than content with following mom and chasing chunks of bread.

They’re probably my favourite thing in the park at the moment and if I don’t see them I wonder where they are.

By the time I’d finished the loop I was feeling good. I’d had a positive chat on text with my mate while walking and wasn’t too puffed out.

Then I met little shit.

Little shit screeched to a halt on his bike near me and turned to his parent. He pushed back his orange bicycle helmet so that it was tilted and his forehead was clear of obstruction.

‘Mommy – look at that fat man!’ Little shit shouted, pointing at me.

She ignored him. They always do.

‘Look!’ Little Shit persisted.

‘Stop. Its rude.’ She eventually said, clearly embarrassed.

‘Why?’ Little shit said. His mother began to explain but I wasn’t interested. Its just too mortifying. I carried on walking.

I can never predict when this will happen – but it always does. It can take me from hero to zero in an instant and it’s followed me my whole life.

But not today. GPS was proving that things were getting better, so little shit can get lost. I’m not interested in his infant observations about excessive bulk.

But it’s not his fault.

It’s mine and its my job to fix it – and I am.

One day it won’t occur any more and then I won’t have to worry about it or cross the street to avoid the potential of it happening.

Now I’m sitting in my happy place. Starbucks. My flask is full of filter coffee and whats more I saved 50p as I brought my own mug.

This means that I get infinite refills for £1.25, which actually works out cheaper than filling my flask twice from my Nespresso machine at home – which is another win!

Anyway. I have some lawn mowing to do this weekend and I really don’t feel like it today – so that looks like it will replace my walk tomorrow.

I’m wondering if that too will be easier and I’ll have to sit down less while doing it. I’m also hoping the legions of little kids normally outside are elsewhere – which will make life a lot easier…

We shall see internet – we shall see!

Photo on 04-06-2016 at 14.42 #2.jpg

Davey