Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Importance Of The Right Equipment Cannot Be Overstated

It's said that to fail  to prepare is to prepare to fail. Well, you'll not find me getting caught out. I've consulted the weather reports, precipitation levels, barometric pressure, temperature and phase of the moon, waxing. I've poured over maps, studied several routes and come up with one I think will work best given the conditions, drizzle/turning to steady rain, the amount of day light I can reasonably expect and, of course, the lay of the land, mostly flat with one or two slight elevations.

I've carefully chosen a lightweight, Italian made day hiker that should offer support yet prove nimble enough should speed be of great import. The temperature is seasonal, winter, but the wet weather has negated the down Summit Parka I'd usually opt for on an outing like this one. Down has fantastic insulating properties, especially when you consider it's weight to warmth ratio, but it's useless when wet. I've chosen synthetic insulation in the form of a fleece jacket, well it's actually part of my 3 in 1 system, all conditions jacket (Mountain Hardwear). It zips effortlessly into the Gortex shell which sports abrasion patches on the high stress areas, shoulders, elbows and skirt. I particularly like this one as the hood is out sized to allow for use over a helmet, if, say, you are belaying up a cliff face for instance. I won't need a helmet today though. Instead I've plumed for a simple woolen bobble style hat, hand crafted by the descendants of the Inca, no two are the same. The hats, I'm not sure about the Peruvians. It's made, of course, from wool and resists the elements well.

I picked up a pair of Gortex mittens in the sale at Blacks, this is to be their maiden voyage, if you will. I've decided to go with the classic Patagonia hiking pant, with the zips at the knees that enable you to convert them to shorts should the need arise, not that I think it will on this particular trip. They are synthetic and dry quickly, an important consideration given the rain expected.

Right, I've chosen a small day pack, I'm not travelling far and I wouldn't want to get weighed down unnecessarily so provisions have been chosen with the utmost care. I'm quietly confident I'm ready for all mother nature can throw at me. Right, I'll be on my way, I think I've got everything

"You off hiking son?"
"No dad, it's Oldham Preston at Deepdale, can you give us a ride to the train station?"


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twenty Minutes

It's never easy staring at a blank piece of paper. "You've got twenty minutes," they said. Twenty minutes, I can't come up with anything in twenty minutes. Where do I start? What would I write? What if someone else has done it already? I have no imagination, I never did have.

Twenty minutes, it's a long time to, say, hold your breath but to actually write something? You can't get much down in twenty minutes can you? How'd you develop a narrative when it's over before it's begun? Beginning, middle and an end, good luck with that in twenty minutes.

What can I write? What can I write? Only five minutes left, I'll have to come up with something... Okay, here goes nothing.

Terry S******  Expenses Nov/Dec 2012.

Terry S

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Girls At Kiss Kiss

I saw his name in the paper.  Micheal Pilkington. Below it in brackets Tiny.
Tiny Tiny Tiny. It mentioned my local, The Brew Inn, is that where I knew him from. I just couldn’t put a face to the name. Tiny -Micheal Pilkington -Micheal Pilkington - Tiny  I tossed the names around my head on the way for my Friday night drink. I didn’t have to ask, before I’d even sat down with my first pint Jim asked if I knew about Tiny.
 ‘I can’t place him, who’d he used to drink with?’
It turned out, I did know Tiny albeit not very well. He was a few years older than us and apart from the odd game of pool I’d never spoken to him, apart from the usual courtesies. I could put a face to the name though.
Jim told me the tale. A few weeks ago Tiny received a tax rebate of £2000.

‘So what you gonna do with it then Tiny?’
‘I’m off on ‘oliday?’
‘Very nice, somewhere exoctic?’
‘Kind of….KissKiss….. for a whole week.’
‘KissKiss the massage parlour on Denbury Road?’
‘That’s right. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’
‘Right…ah well,  suppose Spain hasn’t warmed up yet.’

KissKiss on Denbury Road,  not really a massage parlour more of a brothel.  
This stories not about the morals or the rights and wrongs of prostitution. It’s about Tiny. And apparently he did spend a week there, playing pool naked, sleeping with a different woman every night. He left on the Sunday evening and called in for a few pints at the Brew Inn telling anyone who’d listen about his escapades.
  He was found dead in bed on the Monday morning, died in his sleep, a heart attack.

The newspaper said

Michael Pilkington.
Regular at the Brew Inn and KissKiss Massage Parlour.
Miss you already

The girls at KissKiss.
Wife says “There's someone on the phone wants to talk to you about funerals.” 

I say “Hello,”

He says, “Mr Cullen, as I've just been mentioning to your wife; do you have a funeral plan in place…”

And I say “Well, our Paul's doing the music.  I've left him two tapes.  One called Death Disco and the other, rather wittily, or so I thought, called Death Disco Two.  I'm fairly sure I'll go before him.  And believe me, he'll get them the right way round, so it'll be The Perfect Kiss by New Order for starters.” 

The man says “Actually Mr Cullen, it's more about the financial aspect…” 

I say "Don't worry about that either, I'll leave a few hundred quid behind the bar, so everyone who wants to, can have a right good drink." 

Wonder if someone's got a list somewhere with all our names on and when you reach a certain age, a red flag appears next to your name and they ring you about this kind of thing.  He said he'd send me a brochure, but it's not arrived yet. 

And it’s probably a black flag, not a red one.

Martin C

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Can't Put A Figure On It.

"Arh yes, Mr and Mrs Leigh, it's nice to see you again. Sit down please."
Open night, my Mam and Dad up the school getting it straight from the horses mouth. I hate open night.
"Right, well, Shaun. Phew, what can I say?"
"Well how's the lad doing, that might be a good start."
"Right, right, right, great yeah, sure. The thing is, Shaun, Shaun's got talent...

-Jesus, our Shaun's right this ones a tosser alright. Still, English teacher, bloke, what'd you expect?

... but he's got no, he has no, erm, he has no drive. He doesn't seem to care. He's wasting what God's given him."

"What do you mean Mr Fisher? Is he not doing his homework?"

-Fucking woman's haircut. Looks like he dyes it. Cord jacket. And that tie, what the fuck is that tie all about?

"Oh no, no, no. No, no, no, no ,no... He does his work but it's just that. Well, it's... How can I put this?"
"Why don't you just tell us what he's not doing that he should be doing?"
"Right Mr Leigh, right. Well, the thing is, I think he's capable of more."

- It's fucking knitted. His tie's fucking knitted. Jesus, you're gonna sit there and slag my lad off while wearing a knitted tie?

I know they're gonna kill me when they get home. They always do. I always fuck up somehow.

"More? In what way?"
"Well, I can't, I can't really ..."
"What is it, words, paragraphs, pages, what do you want?"
"Well, it's not really a matter of quantifying it like that it's just that I know he has more in him."
"What my husband's trying to say is if you tell us what it is you want him to do we'll make sure he does it."
"I just feel he's capable of more, it's not about the number of pages or words, it's just he has..."
"More in him?"

-Jesus have you seen him, playing with his 'tashe?
"Exactly Mr Leigh."
"Put a number on more please Mr Fisher."
"I can't. I really can't I just don't..."
"One hundred words? Two Hundred words? Three hundred..."
"Please Mr Leigh, we're not really getting anywhere with this are we?"
"Look Mr Leigh, I'm sure you're a very intelligent man but our Shaun, well look at us, he's our son, we never went to college, we just need to know what you want from him and the lad will do it. Give us a figure to work with."
"Please don't put me on the spot like this. Shaun has talent and he really, really needs to develop it"
"Right come on love let's go see the maths teacher. Thanks for your time Mr Fisher. The lad'll write more, he'll try harder. "
"Please erm, I hope I haven't..."
"We won't take up any more of your time"
"Thank you Mr Fisher, thank you."
"Come on love, maths teacher."

"Jesus, what chance has the lad got of knowing how much to write if the teach doesn't know?"
"He seems a nice man, a bit confused but a nice man. He reminded me of someone."
"Oh aye?"

They're back.

"Mam, dad, how'd it go?"
"Well son you'd need to be a fucking detective to work that English teacher out"
"What Mam?"
"Yeah, you'd need to be Eddie Shoestring to work that one out.
"Funny that, the kids call him Shoestring. Did you see his knitted tie?"

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fight Night

I remember, when I was a younger, I used to watch the boxing on TV with my old man all the time. Midweek fights with Jim Watt and Reg Guteridge commentating, Pat Cowdell giving his all, me and the old man camped in the living room with a box of Jaffa Cakes and pots of tea, Mam, long gone off to bed. A Saturday afternoon, European Championship fight, Kirkland Laing fighting in Italy.
"He'll need a knockout to get a draw over there, son." He was right. Jaffa Cakes, Tea, the curtains drawn Mam off somewhere. A big fight, Saturday night/Sunday Morning, live from Vegas, Hagler Mugabi, by Christ those two could bang. Jaffa Cakes, tea, Mam sound asleep.

My old man let me swear up a storm when we watched the boxing. I'd get a clip round the ear any other time. He was funny like that. I loved boxing. I loved my old man. I still do. I miss him, too. I still drink tea and eat Jaffa Cakes. I don't watch too much boxing anymore though, it's not the same.