Interview Sans Coffee

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tomorrow I have an interview without coffee. It's at an establishment that was once housed in a rather grand and traditional building that sat equidistant between the MI5 and MI6 buildings on the south bank of the River Thames. That building had offices, board rooms, meeting rooms and a great big room that was decked out like a courtroom where discipline cases were conducted.

However, the establishment was moved a few years ago to a new premises near London Bridge. The new building is a modern, open plan affair with plenty of glass. But it's the open plan feature that's important here.

As you go in you're not met by heavy oak doors that detail the occupant's name and rank as per the building's predecessor. As you enter the new one you find yourself in a vast open space where uniformed officers sit hunched behind flat computer screens. Whenever I enter it reminds me of the opening scenes of The Office, where a telephone rings in the distance and there's the constant murmur of tippy tappy keyboards. As you pass through the threshold and into the work area heads pop up above work stations as the residents crane their necks to discover who's just entered their territory. It's this behaviour that has led to the new building being termed 'Meerkat Manor.'

So tomorrow I'm at 'Meerkat Manor' for an interview and to be presented with formal charges. I've been a very naughty boy. Tomorrow is the forerunner to The Carpet Parade and the familiar words:

'Soldier and the right....QUICK MARCH!' which echo loudly in my mind.

But what's this?

Have I hurt anyone? No.

Have I killed anyone? No.

Is there mass loss of property due to my professional incompetence? No.

But someone is offended so I'll tap the boards tomorrow in grey slacks, blue shirt, blazer and brogues.

I will admit to having been slightly nervous about tomorrow. Not because I'm of a nervous disposition but because I know many of the residents of Meerkat Manor and the shunning of the diseased one will be embarrassing for both myself and those I know.

But a blog post by a friend brought me to my senses and made me remember where I've come from and my nerves are no more.

I'm not from a privileged background and a good school but from the mean streets of Peckham and the hell hole that was The Beaufoy School for Boys.

I'm not from a comfortable office where the tea boat running dry is a major calamity but from the British Army where a major calamity transposes to a colleague paying the ultimate price and going home in a flag draped coffin.

I shall reproduce my friend's blog post here.

It's short. It's sweet. It's to the point. And there's more plagiarism to come.

As I travel this path less travelled I have to say thanks, Tomo.

Song for a Pirate


Annales Volusi, Cacata Carta

Friday, 27 May 2011

There's this fella that lives down the road from me called Robert McCaffrey. He's better known in running circles as Dr Rob and you may know him from the Runner's World forum where he's particularly active. He's also the director of the Trionium group of races which includes The Picnic, which was voted 'the hardest marathon in Britain' by Runner's World.

I'd dearly like to call Rob a friend, indeed he once was, but when I separated from ex-wife/partner (no.3) Rob was one of those fellas that picked a side. As his missus is great mates with ex-wife/partner (no.3) the side he picked wasn't mine. So now if I see him we exchange pleasantries and a bit of running chat, but that's about it.

Anyway, I saw Rob this week as I dropped my wee Maddie off at school (due to my enforced idleness I've been doing the school run, catching up on my ironing and considering what coffee mornings I might attend).

I stopped and chatted to Rob and he asked me if I had any races in the offing.

'As usual I've got the West Highland Way Race in a few weeks,' I told him.

'Do you know I read an article by a woman that runs ultras and she does them on normal mileage. None of this thirty or forty mile training run rubbish. Just normal mileage. She says it's all in the mind,' Rob replied.

Now this is something that Rob shouldn't have told a chancer like me. As I walked away I thought about it. Normal mileage? I'm doing normal mileage now! (Normal mileage is fifteen miles a week, right?). I've cracked it. I've found the secret. Richie Cunningham doesn't stand a chance.

Anyway, despite being the absolute king of chancers, I decided that a hard twenty mile training run today would allow me to see the effect that 'normal mileage' has on the build up of lactic acid and muscle fatigue after over three hours of hard, off-road running.

The route I chose really is twenty miles. It's not like, 18.5 miles rounded up. It's bang on twenty. I know this because my mate and fellow West Highland Way Race finisher, Jon Vann measured it. Jon dots the 'i' and crosses the 't'. Unlike me.

The route starts with a solid two mile incline to reach a ridge on the North Downs. In the past this climb has kicked my arse and to be honest I was a little intimidated by it today. But I had Mason (dog) with me, so anyone seeing me rigged in full ultra running gear but walking would be too afraid of my canine pocket battleship to take the piss (forget the fact that he's as soppy as soaped up Katie Price).

But what's this? The climb was an absolute piece of piss! There might be something in this 'normal mileage' claim after all. Indeed as I trotted along the route, stopping occasionally to call Mason (dog) back, who was having the time of his life hunting squirrels, I remarked at how strong I felt.

I hit the turn around point and started to head back and felt that familiar burn of lactic acid and muscle fatigue. I have to say that the last two miles were somewhat painful, particularly that I had a pain in my back that felt muscular/cramping. I've never felt it before but I wondered if it was what Mrs Pacepusher felt recently in her fantastic slaying of the Cateran Trail Race.

Not too sure about the 'normal mileage' claim now.

Anyway, despite the revelation that 'normal mileage' is entirely dependant upon the person, and 'normal milegae' for Yours Truly might be fuck all, I'm very happy to report that I am now to accompany the legend that is Ray McCurdy on the West Highland Way Race this year. Ray has had a few issues securing a support crew so we'll run together and my crew will take care of him.

Ray's version of 'normal mileage' is an ultra race every week so I guess I'll get my sorry arse kicked. *Sighs*

Now, let me say one more thing. What you've read here (assuming you made it this far) is shit. I know it's shit and I was told it would be shit. But I'm prevented from writing about ghosts, fox's piss, pregnant women in lifts and sharks attacking men in public phone boxes. So you've had to make do with running. Which, in it's written form, is shit.

A couple of good things that came out of today that are not shit:

1. Mason (dog) likes my home made onion bhajis.

2. Mason (dog) now knows how to drink water from a Platypus (other bladders are available).


Head. Arse.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Without compromising the policy on the use of social networking media of a particular self regulatory, autocratic organisation I ought to be able to tell you with some degree of safety that my head has been well and truly up my arse for the past two weeks.

I consider myself to be a resilient, calm-under-pressure kind of guy. There are many examples I could give you that would illustrate this but I'll refer you to my comment above regarding the policy of a particular self regulatory, autocratic organisation. So instead I'll remember back to my infamous flying of the Jolly Roger flag from my house, a story that was well documented within this blog, now sadly no more. Luckily, however, I have the attached memory saved among the pictures on my hard drive:

It was on the day that the BBC arrived at my house, complete with massive truck adorned with aerials and satellite dishes and a mobile make up studio, to make a filmed report of my crime detailed in the newspaper report above. The researcher had skipped off down to Sharon Alexander's shop in the village to ask her to appear with an array of different national flags. Sharon owns Abracadabra, the local fancy dress shop, and was the purveyor of the £5.00 Jolly Roger you can see in the picture.

Sharon duly arrived with a dozen or so brightly coloured flags of different nations from her shop with the intention that it might be demonstrated that I could fly any one of the flags in her possession, but not the Jolly Roger that was Gaffa taped to my house.

'Bloody Hell, Dave!' exclaimed Sharon. 'When I sold you the flag I would never have dreamed it would have come to this. I've got to say that you don't scare easily.'

And the point I'm trying to make is exactly that. Usually I don't scare easily.

But a week ago I felt fear. I was scared.

More scared than entering any burning building.

More scared than when I re-entered the competitive boxing ring after an absence of nearly twenty years to fight a hard bastard from Portsmouth nearly half my age on an unlicensed boxing show. In Portsmouth.

So what scared me so?

It was the prospect of facing the embarrassment and emasculation of unemployment for exercising my right to free thought and free speech.

It's taken two weeks but I'm not scared anymore.

Not because the threat is now removed. It remains a very clear and present danger. But because I've had the time and I've had the support of the person closest to me to get my head out of my arse.

Yep, my head is now clear of my sphincter and I can clearly see how this matter ought to turn out.

I am happy to answer for my actions. I accept that I work for a disciplined outfit and indeed I myself insist upon discipline within my own sphere of influence. If anyone abuses that they answer to me. I am now the one under scrutiny and welcome the due process, providing it's balanced, fair and just.

If it's not then I have only my dignity to fall back on. I swear that in the worst case scenario I will turn around and march out of that office without moan or whimper.

I might get shit faced very shortly after, right enough, but what's new there?

Alpha Male

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

It's been suggested to me that I try something new. Like running.

I'll have you know that for the past few weeks I've religiously been an attendee at the newly formed David Lloyd Epsom Running Club (I have, after all, got time on my hands). If I had access to my former posts I could direct you to proof of this running but since I've deleted everything I can't.

I should have considered the result of deleting everything before I made that rash decision. It occurred to me yesterday that the only place that held a copy of my appearance on London Tonight where I informed Ben Scotchbrook that 'I'm not guilty of any acts of piracy and have never sailed the high seas in a galleon' was within the pages of this blog.

Anyway, like a lone Krispy Kreme Donut in the near vicinity of Vanessa Feltz, my former posts have gone. So I'll tell you about my last run out with the David Lloyd Epsom Running Club to prove that I do, occasionally, run.

Believe it or not I'm something of an elite athlete at David Lloyd Epsom Running Club. This is if you accept that elitism is an acceptable concept when applied to one's immediate surroundings only. A bit like accepting that Peter Andre would be intellectually elite if he were caged with the apes in London Zoo. You see my elitism doesn't come from being a sub-three hour marathon runner but from being club mates with a load of well-to-do but very nice women who run purely to fight the flab.

That was until last week when a fella that I know in name only arrived at the David Lloyd Epsom Running Club. Steve Wynder is something of a local celebrity because if he enters a race you know that the winner's medal is going home wrapped around his neck. But I'm a geezer that's spent a whole life time proving that it's possible to have ambition by the truck load while being in possession of ability that would fit in a thimble.

So Pete the coach sets us off on a 2.5 mile warm up circuit of Horton Park. Yours Truly is setting a fearsome pace at the front (I know, I know....warm up....the clue's in the name) and Mr Wynder is on my shoulder. There's no letting up in my Kenyan-like running and I'm starting to think that I've missed a trick here. Forget ultra marathons, my star is obviously set at the 5km distance.

Then around a mile and a half into the 'warm up,' Steve breezily says to me:

'So do you come running with this lot often?'

While I'm convinced this isn't some cheesy chat-up line I'm without the ability to inform Steve that I don't swing that way. Mainly because I'm demonstrating the near collapse runner's art of breathing out of my arse. I take a gulp of air and in one exhalation manage to say:

'I'm gonna let you go, Steve.'

'Oh....OK,' Mr Wynder replies and changes out of second gear showering me in grit and dirt as he belts off down the track.

The rest of the session includes sprints and intervals and I manage to slot myself in among the women and keep well clear of Steve Wynder. Then the final task is set by Pete which is for Steve and I to run two laps of a mile circuit while the women follow Pete up and down the track.

I manage to stay with Steve for the first circuit and as we finish to start the second he informs me that he's gonna run back to the gym as he's got a lunch date in London. I bid him farewell (while really thinking: 'thank fuck for that') and crack on with circuit number two.

As I arrive at the end of my second circuit Pete's there with the women.

'Where's Steve?' asks Pete.

'He said that my pace was so fast he couldn't manage a second circuit so he took an early bath,' I lie unconvincingly.

Then we all skip off back to the gym with me in Alpha Male status. As I said above, immediate surroundings and all that.


A Virgin Coprophile

Saturday, 21 May 2011

An apology and a bit of an explanation is in order, methinks.

For the past week and a half my blog has been available to me only. This was due to a security alert and a plan to delete any posts that mentioned my employment. But sifting through over three hundred posts to find references to the job that I am currently employed to do was a mind-numbing and energy sapping exercise so I took the bit between my teeth and deleted every single post. This has pissed me off somewhat because apart from detailing three years worth of ups and downs of an 'alternative lifestyle,' it did actually serve a worthwhile purpose. It allowed me to scan back to confirm that I'm just as unprepared to run the West Highland Way Race now as I was in 2010, 2009 and 2008.

So I begin again with a virgin blog. I'm afraid to say that, in future, tales from South Chelsea will be non existent. In fact, depending upon the outcome of the present situation in which I find myself, the opportunity to mention South Chelsea or the London Fire Brigade may well be removed anyway. It seems I may be a 'future pension liability.'

I shall say no more about it than that but would suggest that a clearer explanation may be found in my mate's blog, The Beirut Taxi, which is linked on the right.

So, we'll see how we get on with the blog in it's censored form and with its right to free speech limited. Richard, the author of the blog mentioned above, has stated that it will be shit. He may well be right but I doubt it will get anywhere near the shit situation I am now in and how shit I've felt this past week and a half.

My shit situation is so shit that it's shittier than a coprophiliac considering a Cleveland Steamer while armed with a knife and fork (I'm aware that my more morally upstanding readers will have no idea what a Cleveland Steamer is so I've added a link to the Urban Dictionary definition. Click it if you dare).

To give you an idea of how shit this shit situation is consider this:

Mrs Mac had secured employment in Surrey and was due to relocate herself and her daughter from Strathaven to Chez Waterman.

Like, next week.

Oh the prospect of my house becoming a home again with the sound of a family echoing within its walls rather than the silence created by a single father and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier (there is also a seventeen year old daughter but she makes little noise from her bed where she seems to spend most of her time).

Oh the prospect of coming home to freshly cooked food that ensures the ingesting of five a day rather than stopping at the kebab shop for a large doner with chilli sauce.

That plan has now changed and Mrs Mac remains unemployed and a resident of a far away land where men wear skirts and women have a heirarchical system based upon the number of their remaining teeth. This is a direct result of the shit situation I am now in.

It seems the silence and kebabs are to continue for some time yet.

But at least the blog is back up and running. Shit though it might be.