It’s Hot Down Here

It’s time for this blog to back to it’s roots…commuting.

We all pray for sunshine – we are almost into June, but this year’s winter has lingered on. The warm sunny month of May hasn’t materialised – instead it has been replaced this year with a freezing, torrential winter extension….

…until today.

Finally the sun is up, the coats are off, and Londoners have pranced around all day, delighting in the start of summer. I’ve loved it, the sun has a unique ability to cheer even the toughest days.

But now I have been hit with the commute home and already I miss the wind, rain and cold.

In the 19th century The London Underground was a unique feat of engineering – groundbreaking – and testament to this country’s engineering brilliance. Victorian Britain was World beating – and leading the way and proving our greatness was London’s network of tunnels and trains, setting out the blueprint for an underground metro system that inspired and influenced similar projects across the globe.

But are we now victims of our ancestors success?

In 2012 the tube is awful. So far this evening I have stood for 15minutes waiting for a the straining District Line to catch up with the mass of bodies desperately trying to flee the city centre. When the train finally arrived it was heaving.

I forced my way on, but now I am faced with the harsh reality of the tube in Summer! It’s horrible down here. Unbearably hot – and the smell has already started to fester. Too many sweaty, suited men in one place dictates the ‘sweet smell’ of summer on the World famous London Underground. So now all those commuting Londoners, so happy to see the sun at Midday, are currently extremely hot, very angry and we all stink.

And there’s nothing we can do about it. Our antiquated tube system can never be replaced – it can only ever be slowly upgraded (much to the delay and annoyance of us long suffering 21st century Londoners). While cities like Singapore have new, high-tec, modern, air-conditioned, thoroughly pleasant metros – we are stuck with the pit that swelters beneath London’s dark Victorian streets!

No, don’t be fooled Londoners – we were too premature to celebrate the arrival of our English summer today. The London heat’s harsh reality has us all begging for winter to return again before the day’s end.

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Celebrities – Credit Where it’s Due

We all enjoy bemoaning celebrities.

The sordid world of super injunctions, loose morals and media manipulation fuels our anger towards these money-grabbing dark icons. Giant cars, flash parties, MTV cribs, rich lifestyles… Let’s be honest, we are all a little envious too!

Well last night I got a tiny taste of it all through an invite to the Stoke Park Classic Party.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Stoke Park is a spectacular estate just outside the M25 – home to a beautiful golf course and a magnificent 19th Century hotel and spa. And yesterday it played host to the Stoke Park Classic Golf tournament, an invite only exclusive event. Although my invite didn’t extend to the tournament (which is a good thing considering my lack of golfing ability) I did manage to wangle a call up to the after party (thanks to the kind people at Jaguar – one of the major sponsors).

So suited up I found myself sipping cocktails, sharking canapés and rubbing shoulders with a host of celebrities from the world of sport and tv.

This story has a sub-plot and a very upsetting one. I work with a girl, an amazing girl, who has been locked in a battle against a very rare form of heart cancer – Jo is a determined fighter who will never give up. Although I don’t know her well (barely at all) her blog updates give everyone an insight into her unbelievable strength and personality. I’ll insert a link to her blog at the end of this update – it is inspirational.

A number of  her friends and my colleagues have been working hard to drive attention to her fight – and have managed to get a host of celebrities and public figures to show their support for Jo by simply agreeing to a picture holding a “Go JB” message. Through the power of blogging, twitter and facebook they then publicly showcase her incredibly brave battle.

I was with one of her close friends last night and had an opportunity to offer something to this. Together we roamed the room and meekly approached a few of the big names. Without fail they all quickly agreed and offered up a part of their appeal and popularity to help a girl they have never met. So DJ Spoony, Will Greenwood, Tim Lovejoy, John Regis, Dougray Scott, Ieuan Evans, Jamie & Louise Redknapp all posed with their “Go JB” placard.

What’s more they were all so approachable, amenable and much more normal than I could have ever imagined. They weren’t self-absorbed, prickly and ignorant – they were all warm and helpful. And Will has already retweeted his photo, pushing Jo’s message out to his 73,000 followers.

So let’s stop with the celeb bashing – yes there are some nasty feral celebrities, but then there are also plenty of rough immoral “regulars” too…

…and then there are some amazing people who we should all value and support! http://myacheybreakyheart.tumblr.com/

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Not Enough Snow

This morning there is the wrong amount of snow…

There is enough to make my morning commute long, slow, frustrating and treacherous – but there is not enough to justify that always anticipated and wildly celebrated “snow day”.

Let’s be honest, however old we are, our inner schoolboy always desperately hopes for mountains of the white stuff. Every worker, from the shop floor operative to the CEO secretly dreams of being wedged in, unable to make that long commute, so instead being forced to hold an impromptu day of festivities in a winter wonderland.

I remember those heady days, quietly listening to Radio Leicester, waiting patiently for that brilliant announcement that my school just couldn’t open. But not today kids, the dusting we got last night promised much at about 10pm…but it hasn’t delivered. Now any snowmen will be malnourished weak attempts and snowball fights will be more of a slight scuffle than an all out war.

Although a ‘snow day’ today would probably have been a disappointment. As my little boy is ill with a nasty cold and fever – he would have been confined indoors; and the days of long warm mornings under the duvet are far behind me. I would have been up and active at 6.30am regardless of what weather awaited in the outside world… but I suppose a day full of Cbeebies and hot chocolate would still have been a fun novel event in my working week.

But it wasn’t to be – I am faced instead with a slippery skate to the station, a slow, plodding commute and a miserable sniffly office.

Although I guarantee a handful of young singletons in my office will still find it ‘completely impossible’ to get in, despite living far closer to Central London than us dull, middle-aged parents! Lucky gits – maybe next week we will get a proper dumping *fingers crossed*.

Chavs vs. Toffs

This afternoon a shocking viral email hit my inbox – outlining the code of conduct for the G4…

For those of you who are still unaware of this exclusive group, and their “gunning” behaviour, I’ll give you a brief summary. The email outlined the ‘tour rules’ as laid out by four City twenty-somethings for their upcoming rugby sevens trip to Dubai. A quick google search will give you the complete breakdown – but their code revolves around bragging about daddy’s money, cheating on their wives and generally maintaining their wild, rich lad lifestyle when away. It concluded with a short biography of each member, stating their current insurance-broker employment, red brick university degree and public school credentials.

G4 is a brotherhood of privileged, well educated, rich-boys whose very existence is a stain on British culture.

But the email got me thinking – who would I rather be stuck in a hotel with – a disgusting group of stuck-up toffs or a nasty hoard of lager swilling chavs?

Quite a dilemma. The blight of chav culture is well documented – there are countless TV documentaries outlining the antics of Wild Brits Abroad. All seem to focus on Burberry clad youths taking over Magaluf and Benidorm – downing bacardi breezers, destroying town centres, and eventually rushing to a Spanish hospital for a quick stomach pump. The images of girls in stilettos and boob-tubes, passing out in their own vomit, shock and disgust the middle classes and most Brits do their best to disown this TOWIE generation.

But are they any worse than the G4? Not in my opinion. The privileged rich boy, spending a small portion of the inheritance on a hedonistic shameless tour is a much more vile image in my eyes. Maybe it’s because I feel closer to them; on the chav-toff spectrum I am probably closer to the posh-boy end, and many are only just outside my social circles. In fact I see some of them on a daily basis – they all live in Fulham or Kensington, wear clothes that display their public school heritage, take at least one annual ski trip to Verbier and loosely flaunt their daddy’s wealth with complete disregard for the wider society. At least the chavs work hard and save all year in order to booze it all away on their annual destructive vacation.

No, give me ‘Geordie Shore’ over ‘Made in Chelsea’ every time. For me the chavs have better values, better ethics and more fun. In fact I think I’d quite enjoy a chav holiday – although I’d probably be in bed by midnight, I’m just too old now for all that nonsense…

The Parent Relay

A Lament for The Loss of Freedom:

When you’re expecting everyone is quick to warn you about the horrors that await when the baby is born. Mostly these concentrate on the lack of sleep, extreme fatigue, escalted stress and financial burden.

Don’t get me wrong it is tough, but most of these exhausting obstacles are overcome in a few hard and fast months. In the short-term all new parents suffer as they struggle through the new born trepedations.

But it all gets easier. I emerged from my fuzz at about 5 months and since then it has been a steady slope of slow mental improvement. You start to get you life back…almost.

It’s Friday night – I have had a long, tough, stressful work week, but instead of heading out to blow off some steam I am trekking home to relieve my still shattered wife. It’s her turn – she is heading out into London tonight to grab a ‘few’ glasses of wine and glance into her former life – when I arrive back the torch (monitor) will be passed. And I certainly don’t deny her this rare opportunity. I at least have some sense of normality, I go to work, interact with ‘grown-ups’ on a daily basis and ocassionally get the opportunity myself to nip out for a few beers after work. Her only source of interaction is a largey incoherent, messy, demanding 14month old.

But I’m still jealous, not necessarily of her, but of my happy group of colleagues, intent of celebrating the weekend for a few hours down the local. No doubt on Monday morning stories will be regailed of another epic night of fun-filled, alcohol-fuelled excitement.

When you are free to be spontaneous you don’t appreciate what you have. A quick drink after work, or a long dark heavy Friday night, is a privilege that can quickly be taken away.

I love my little boy, I love spending time with him, and his perfect smile is so much more rewarding than the wash at the bottom of a pint glass. But I still fancy a ‘few’ beers after work at the end of the week…

And we can never go out together. Not only do did I enjoy the group sessions I also love to spend the evening out with my amazing wife. That too is now off the agenda, at any one point in time he must be guarded (and he is asleep by 7pm).

God I sound so miserable…I’m not.

If I am being honest it’s just not that bad. I was usually too tired to last past 11pm and have always been the one to retire early to the warmth and comfort of my 12.5tog.

And it’s minus seven tonight in London Town. My poor tired wife is heading out into the Siberian winter, while I have a cosy, centrally heated, evening planned of pizza in front of the TV – maybe life ‘ain’t so tough!

Bald and Graceful

It’s bloody cold in London today. I am currently standing on the platform at North Sheen station, once again wishing I had worn some gloves. Gloves would seriously affect my ability to ‘iPad type’ but i think I should start making that small sacrifice.

But one important item of clothing I simply cannot live without is a hat. As a child I started collecting a bizarre array of headwear – and maybe I was somehow subconsciously stockpiling for an inevitable bare-headed future…

When I look back now the signs were there from an early age. My stylish undercut, centre-parting and curtains in the mid-nineties was always a little thin, but it was at university when the effects of my hereditary condition really started to take hold. My dad sports an impressive combover, and my maternal grandfather pulled off a classic ‘Bobby Charlton’ sweep – I had no chance. And I feel sorry for my little boy; no doubt he will share his family’s folic curse, in fact you can already see it in the hairline.

Aged 19 I was devastated – I was proud of my wolverine look, but it simply couldn’t last. I finally took the monumental decision to hack it all off, and have never looked back. Helped by a symmetrical head I have rocked the ‘Phil Mitchell’ look for ten years now – as a proud bald man.

So I was disheartened to see Wayne Rooney fight so hard against his retreating hairline – you will never catch me transplanting hair from my arse to my head. Although, if I did, I would bare a striking resemblance to Pat Sharpe from Funhouse…

Dirty Dawgs

It’s a lovely crisp clear day in London, and as the sun rose this morning on my short walk to North Sheen station the sky lit up with an array of soft colour. However I didn’t have the chance to wonder at nature’s natural beauty…no, I had to treacherously navigate my small suburban street with my eyes fixed firmly on the pavement.

For as usual throughout my morning stroll I had to weave my way through the minefield of daily dog turd.

I live within 10 minutes of the spacious Richmond Park and the wondrous Kew Gardens; my neighbourhood is a dog walkers paradise. But almost all of these mutts seem to disregard their animal’s deposits, leaving them for the dog-less masses to smear and stick to shoes, wheels and hallway rugs.

And more recently for me the issue has become all the more relevant and frustrating. Although my little boy can now toddle (just), in order to transport him any distance I must fish out my impressive off-road pushchair. It’s hydraulic suspension and chunky wheels can easily negotiate the tough Richmond Park terrain, but unfortunately it is also a magnet for the nasty brown stuff…

At least once a month I have to mix up a bucket of detergent and scrub down every floor in my house, to prevent my baby from crawling around in the gruesome poo trail that his pushchair has smeared from room to room.

I don’t blame the animals, they are unintelligent and much further down the evolutionary scale. Unfortunately it seems that in my area so are their owners…