Wednesday, 31 August 2011

New boots and panties.

Same body, different clothes. The font is the same, but the white on black is slightly less visually intrusive than the black on white, so I didn't need to make it smaller or finer.

I've stripped things down too. Some of my good ideas seemed like gimmicks in retrospect. So simpler, cleaner, neater. Nicer buttons to press, with rollover effects. Fewer distractions, which gives greater prominence to the stuff that is there. Important stuff like contact details and price list.

I've been reading about how to climb the rankings, and asking around, and it seems like
 what I mainly need to do is give things time to happen. Weeks and months rather than days, and the site has only been up for maybe 2 months? And as Mr Bliss pointed out to me in an earlier post, the likes of google have standards they like to be adhered to. Therefore I will be blatently putting a line of linky texty stuff at the bottom of this post, and other posts too rather than sneakily trying to do background colour text.

Ad free site? Hmmm...

Incidentally, guess how much I've made from the adverts on the failyourtest site?

That's right. Nothing whatsoever.

Odds and ends

It's very late.

Yesterday I went for my appointment with the alcohol service triage people. Was happy to tell them I was doing OK by myself, and they were happy to not intervene further. Good to know they're there, just in case it all goes tits up, as it might easily do.

My website is now properly registered with google. I've cancelled paid ads with them for now. Will work hard on trying to optimise it. I suppose there are a couple of hundred instructors working on Wirral. I'm probably one of the more net savvy ones, so there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to get up near the top of the listings. Anyway, it should be interesting to see if it makes any difference, having now correctly registered it.

Working on a few organisational ideas to keep track of what has the potential to be a confusing pricing structure. Basically, instead of giving discounts for paying for blocks of lessons in advance, I'm giving each 11th lesson free provided the pupil has at least one lesson per week, so I need something that allows me to tell at a glance where each pupil is up to, and the solution I'm hoping to use is little sticky dots in different colours that can be stuck into my diary. It should work, but it will take a few days or weeks for my eyes to see the orange sticker and for my brain to say "That's 2 lessons" without having to look it up.

I want to spend some time redesigning the site a bit. The big bold ariel text might look more sober and professional if I change it to something smaller and lighter. I have css templates you know!

Holiday in HMHBodia

Monday, 29 August 2011

Ah, you're drunk, you're drunk, you silly old fool...

I'm not drunk, but I am drinking. I have 3 bottles of lager with a total volume of about 2 litres, and an alcohol content of about 5%. A total of 10 units. I'm just finishing the first bottle now.

As to why I'm doing this, I'm not sure I can say.

Please note, "I'm not sure I can say" is not the same as "I don't know".

This isn't about dishonesty or being deliberately obtuse. It's something more complicated.

Take the recent post I did about story arcs on television. It contains the following statement:

I really struggle with stories on the telly, from soaps to sitcoms. I can't switch off the analysing part of me and simply enjoy it for what it is.
Presumably you took this at face value. I certainly wrote it at face value. Yet it begs the question, "Why?" And while I was pedalling away earlier, I did some thinking about this question.

I'd spent some time prior to my ride watching the telly - A film called The Runaway Bride, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. It was a perfectly watchable tale, and it was obvious right from the start that Gere was the hero, Roberts was the heroine, and the climax of the film would be that they finally got together and lived happily ever after. Plotting a graph for it on Vonnegut's G-I axis would be simple enough. It's actually the emotional side of things that I'm not comfortable with.

Stories manipulate emotions. They make you laugh and cry and love and hate. The good ones do anyway.

So when I say, "I don't do television" what I'm really saying is "I don't do emotion".

The most insightful of the counsellors and mental health experts I've encountered have been aware of this. Only once, and then only briefly, one of them broke throught the walls I've built and made me cry. I love and respect her for doing it. Another explained to me that "You've lost touch with your emotions".

Why the walls exist, I can't say (see earlier statement)

It was hard to write what I wrote above. Part of the reason I'm drinking tonight is because I wanted to be able to write it.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

bird brain of britain

This afternoon, I cycled 21.7 miles, from home to West Kirby, into the teeth of a gale. Then I cycled back again with the same wind at my back.

 Google Earth reckons I did 21.7 miles. the trip outwards was about 15 miles. The same journey back was the other 6.7.

Notable stuff? Well the wind sent thick heavy rain laden clouds in from the Irish Sea, but I managed to miss almost all the nasty stuff. A couple of brief light showers cooled me down while other places nearby got drenched.

 The other notable thing was what the seagulls and pigeons did. We think of birds as being stupid, yet they sometimes prove to be a lot smarter than we expect. Some birds, such as parrots and corvids are famous for being clever, but we'd seldom put seagulls or pigeons into that category.

Somewhere along the line, the seagulls sussed out that repeatedly stomping on the grass causes worms to surface and provides them with an easy meal. Today I saw them repeatedly pick up shellfish, and drop them from a height to smash the shells, eagle and tortoise style. No doubt about the deliberateness of the act, since it happened not once but repeatedly. These gulls knew what they were doing. They also have a pretty good intuitive knowledge of aerodynamics. They handled the gale with skill and grace that the best human pilots could only dream of.

So what about pigeons? Ubiquitous and unloved. Who'd have thought they'd be able to put two and two together? Yet as I rode into the headwind, I passed a group of pigeons, and one of them took off and flew low, directly behind me, keeping station about 5 or 6 feet back, and veering from side to side to see where it was. I kept looking over my shoulder in amazement. this pigeon had understood that I would create a volume where the headwind was diminished, and took advantage of the fact.

Mr Pigeon, I tip my probverbial hat to you. You have taught me something new today.

suspension of disbelief

I don't really do telly or films. I've also been finding fiction more difficult to read, although I'm better able to immerse myself in a good book (or audiobook). Trouble is, I can't switch off the knowledge that what I'm watching *is* just made up.

Only certain sequences of chords or notes make coherent songs. Take a 1-4-5 chord sequence, like A major to D major to E major, and you've got Hot Love by T Rex, Silver Machine, by Hawkwind, Any song ever written by Status Quo, and a zillion others.

This is not a bad thing. Without the coherent structure, you're in Stockhausen and freeform jazz territory. This too is not a bad thing. The point here is not a value judgement about the merits of structured and unstructured music, but that a series of culturally developed rules have evolved that mean that certain things fit our expectations of what music actually is.

I think a similar thing applies to fiction. Substitute "story arc" for "melody line" and you'll see what I mean.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote about these. You can read his entire essay, HERE

I've tried to duplicate the graphs.

This graph represents primitive stories. Simple linear tales of battles and hunts. Vonnegut tries to show that Hamlet also follows the same pattern.

This is your basic story. Someone who was doing OK got into some trouble, and somehow got back out of it. Everyone loves a happy ending!

This is the boy meets girl storyline. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. All is good. Then boy loses girl. Things aren't good. Then somehow, after many trials and tribulations, boy and girl finally get together. Hooray!

This one is Cinderella. At the beginning of the tale, her life is pretty grim, then along comes fairy godmother and makes things good, but then the clock strikes twelve and the shit hits the fan, big time, but finally, she finds her prince and they live happily ever after.

This one is Kafka. Or put the downslope at the end, and you have noir.

Anyway, I really struggle with stories on the telly, from soaps to sitcoms. I can't switch off the analysing part of me and simply enjoy it for what it is.

And it's not just fictions either. I see the same arcs everywhere. For example, every week, Sarah Beeny meets a couple who's house is about to collapse around them. Each week it follows exactly the same formula:

Couple have house that has XYZ wrong with it.

Along comes Sarah and has a good poke around to see the extent of the problem. The outlook is pretty bleak, frankly. Not only do they have woodworm, but there's an unexploded bomb in the basement, and there's raw sewage seeping into the kitchen. It will cost at least two hundred thousand pounds to make good the damage, if it's possible at all. The couple shake the piggy bank out onto the table. They have just 86 pee and some fingernail clippings..

But then, local builder and part time explosives expert, Barry "the bomb"  Bloggs steps in and does most of the work for next to nothing, and what they thought was a broken sewer pipe turns out to be a slightly leaky joint that is fixed by simply banging it with a hammer. A quick plastering job, and a visit from the house makover team later and the couple's slum is transformed into a bright and airy palace.

Smiles all round. It's the basic story, witha slightly modified lower start point, every single episode.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The factory...

These are some of the photographs from when we found a gap in the fence and went into the compound of derelict warehouses, some of which are now being demolished. Most, if not all of these were taken by and are copyrighted to Brenda Sharp.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Some of the proletariat are lumpen. Some of the proletariat have always been lumpen. Some of the proletariat will always be lumpen.

Just a thought.

Years back, I was riding home from a friend's house. I was in my early twenties. It was quite late. Midnight or so, and I was riding through a housing estate. Nothing particularly scuzzy or deprived. Just a typical dormitary estate in a dormitary town.

Anyway, I rode past a group of young guys. Some on foot. A couple with scooters. I scarecely made eye contact. I certainly did nothing to provoke them. I just rode on.

30 seconds later, I heard the scooters start up.

Instantly, I knew what it meant, and I pedalled like fuck. This particular part of town was whereI went every day, delivering the mail, so I knew the roads well.

Instead of trying to make it home, I made for a cul-de-sac, and hid in the dark space in the driveway between two houses. The scooters went the way I would have took if I'd headed for home. Then they came back. Then they went up the other way. Then they came back. Then they went down the cul de sac and back, but they didn't see me lurking in the shadows. They kept looking for me for perhaps 20 minutes before they gave up though.

These guys meant me harm. Whether they intended to steal from me or to beat the shit out of me, or both, I can never know, but for little more than kicks, they would do this.

It's something that I understand is just part of some people. At the same time, I find it utterly baffling. It's not a character facet I've ever found easy to access.

Petty damage is another matter. When I was in my teens, I did stuff like setting fire to the bins in the park, and graffiti-ing bus shelters. There was no malicious intent. I didn't do it to hurt anyone. Probably the worst bit of damage I caused was at the local scout hut. There was an overflow pipe sticking out of the wall of the hut. I pushed it through, and you could hear the whole thing topple and smash inside. Presumably water then pissed out of it all over the floor until the next scout meeting. I didn't stay to find out. I and my mates either ran or sauntered nonchalantly away. I suspect the scoutmaster gave a sermon about vandals and hooligans to the scouts next time they convened.

My uncle (the now dead one that was a magistrate) told stories of his childhood during world war two. He would go out with his mates smashing up anything that wasn't already smashed. People were too busy doing other stuff like digging for victory and putting out fires. He once found a corrugated tube in the garden of a bombed out house. When he swung it around, it made a whooping, whistling noise. I had a plastic tube that did this when I was a kid. But what he had wasn't plastic. It was someone's trachea. An ARP warden caught him doing this and sent him home with a thick ear.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is, the riots, and the unfocussed and vicious urges that they were a manifest symptom of are nothing new.

Why this happens, and if in a differnet society such things wouldn't happen, I don't know.

Steven Pinker points to the Montreal Police Strike (opportunist crime flourished, scores were settled, power struggles erupted) as evidence that we are naturally nasty to our neighbours, given the opportunity.

Robert Tressell, in the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists takes a different view.

`Do you mean to say as the time will ever come when the gentry will
mix up on equal terms with the likes of us?' demanded the man behind
the moat, scornfully.

`Oh, no,' replied the lecturer.  When we get Socialism there won't be
any people like us.  Everybody will be civilized.'
Wouldn't that be nice?

I wonder if societies where co-operation is the norm (if there are any left in this global age) can continue to live in harmony when faced with increased competition for resources? I'm re-reading Jared Diamond's "Collapse" at the moment. The societies he cites seem to have done OK while they were able to grow, but conflict seems ro have been inevitable when too many people were trying to get a share of too little of life's essentials.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Today in numbers

Hangover rating: 0

Distance cycled: 9.97 miles. Let's call it 10.

Distance walked: About 4.5 miles around Brackenwood with my Dad.

Shitness at golf rating: 8957987593847589345739485093485093.7

I got wet in the rain. It felt good. It's been a while since it happened.

My bike rides are getting a bit repetitive. It's fantastic that I can travel mile after mile on dedicated car free routes, but there are only a limited number of them. Being in the top north east corner of a peninsula,  I can go West, or I can go South. I can also go South West, but there are few cycle paths thatawy. Mostly they follow the coast.

Tomorrow, I finish working sometime early afternoon. I want to go to Neston to see my mum and dad, and sort out their computer (They ain't got no internet access right now and they're getting bored with freecell) so it would be quite a good challenge to do the entire Wirral circular trail.

Here's ther relevent bit:

The Wirral Circular Trail:

This much discussed project is now well underway, following joint funding by
the European Regional Development Fund via the North West Developments
Agency and the Local Transport plan.
The 34 mile route will have four main sections:

 The Mersey / East Coast,
 The Liverpool Bay / Irish Sea / North Coast,
 The Dee / West Coast and
 The Wirral Borderlands.

The route will primarily be a signed route around Wirral, linking the facilities
we already have. The Wirral Way will take you from West Kirby to Hooton and
new signs will then take you to Eastham Country Park. The route along the
Mersey Coast will eventually go over Bromborough Landfill site, across to
Shorefields and via Rock Park, Cammell Lairds and Birkenhead Priory along
to Woodside Ferry and up to Seacombe Ferry. By following the promenade to
New Brighton, the route cuts inland to the River Birket Cycle track to Leasowe
Lighthouse, and then along the North Shore to Hoylake, West Kirby and the
start of The Wirral Way. In certain locations it has been necessary to separate
the walking and the cycling route. 500 signs will be put up gradually over the
coming months. The project is currently on target for April 2011 completion,
with booklets and maps being produced to promote the Trail.
34 arse chafing miles of almost traffic free biking, with a computer fixing tea drinking bit in the middle. Sounds like a plan.

busy biking byebye building

Today I cycled 15 miles. I've cycled every day this week, but this is my longest to date.

I followed the Wirral Circular trail, which mainly kept me off the main roads. My route took me along the banks of the Mersey mainly, with a few bits where I had to travel alongside or on main roads. I didn't start until quite late, and it became obvious that I wouldn't be home before dark.

Not a problem. I'm an experienced cyclist. More than that, I'm an experienced cyclist with bright LED flashy lights to fron and rear. Still, I ended up in Bromborough, perhaps 12 miles from home, so I jumped on a train to Birkenhead and cycled back from there.

One part of my journey took me to the Croft Industrial Estate, where, a couple of years ago, I found a gap in the fence that allowed me close access to the derelict buildings you see below.

I went down there with Bren and some camera equipment, just as the sun was turning everythng golden, and we had a fantastic shoot. I'll try to ad some of the pics to this post shortly. Some of the warehouses to the left contained some fantastic vibrant grafitti. I like old abandoned places anyway. There's a sort of melancholy romance about them.

I've always enjoyed looking at the main building. But tonight, it was half demolished. I suppose it will be flattened by the end of the week.

I know we can't preserve everything in aspic, but I'll be sad to see it go. I'm glad I went there tonight and took a few pictures.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Second string

It seems to me that developing a better understanding of psychotherapeutic techniques could be a useful thing to do. Specifically, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

So many people struggle to learn to drive or to get through the driving test because of nerves. In a sense I'm using some forms of NLP intuitively, I think. I will have a better idea about this fairly soon, as I've ordered a book about it called Trance Formations, which was written by the founders of the theory.

Imagine the work I could get if I could sell myself as an instructor/hypnotherapist!

Incidentally, I got a phone call a few weeks back from a woman calling herself a life coach. She will give me money for any nervous pupil that I successfully refer to her. Reading the stuff she sent me, she's - guess what...- a NLP based hypnotherapist. I have a couple of pupils that might well benefit from her services. Perhaps a year or so from now, I could be doing the whole shebang myself.

Beyond that, I don't think it's a bad idea to get a different skill to teaching people how to drive.I could bale out of teaching and into hypnotherapy if I had the qualifications.

More immediately, throwing myself into learning a new skill would be handy right now.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

PAS school of Motoring rides again!

I've re-bought my domain name from my old school, and linked it to paulsharpdriving.

Reason being, my old driving school, PAS school of Motoring, is still showing up in searches for driving lessons in my area.

Also, the dot com name also links properly to my site.

The new name cost me about six quid. If I get even one pupil from it, it will be well worth it.

Friday, 19 August 2011

First hitch...

Today I got up at about 10.30.

Had a fairly busy day with work, and filled the gaps generally with something useful and productive, like getting stuff from the allottment, and radishes from the metal tank full of soil in the back garden. Like going for a bike ride.

I even rode my bike to the chippy instead of doing my usual trick of jumping in the car.

Bren didn't get in until much later than either of us expected, so after she'd eat her fried rice, we went to bed. About 10.30pm, and of course, having only been awake for 12 hours, I can't sleep.

So I got up, and turned on the PC, and blogged about it.

This is the room with the computer in it. I've hardly been in it for the last couple of days, but as you've read, I used to spend most of my time in here. My old chair was much bigger. The blinds would be closed during the day, because it made it easier to see the screen. Oh yeah, and even when I've had more space at my disposal, such as when I had flats in Birkenhead and Moreton, I'd tend to only really physically occupy a tiny part of them. To give you a sense of scale, if I were to stand in the middle of the picture, I could almost touch the walls on the left and the right at the same time. If my arms were a few inches longer, I could do it. That makes it about 6 foot wide. It's slightly longer. 8 foot? maybe 9?

A week ago, I'd have got into the car now, and driven to Tescos for some booze. Strangely, I just don't feel the urge at all.

And on...

6 hours work turned into 5.

Rather than blog every day to say "I drank nothing yesterday" I shall only blog about alcohol if I have in fact drank any, or if I have some insight to share.

Today I brought home £140. Bren is out working her socks off photographing a wedding. I shall treat her to a chippy tea.

Meanwhile, I took a brisk dusk rush along the prom on the pushbike. And back. Breathless and sweating. It was good to connect with the physical.

strength through negativity?

Yesterday's alcohol intake: zero.
Started drinking: N/A
Finished drinking: n/a

Bren came home. We read gardening books together and I sat and listened to her talk about her holiday. She had a big smile on her face. She looked lovely. She liked the flowers.

Just a thought about stopping doing things...

Stopping is negative. Slowing down is negative accelleration. Stopping means no. Not. Don't.

Stopping is a real fucking downer, and I've seen, both in my self and in certain significant others that trying to stop, rather than trying to change, is expressed only as "I will not do X".

I'm not trying to stop using the internet, or to quit drinking. Well, I am trying to quit drinking, but I'm not thinking of it in those terms.

Instead, I have many things I can do instead. I know this sounds like a load of little mr sunshine pollyanna self help bollocks, but instead of the thought process being, "today I will not X", I'm waking up and trying to say to myself, "Today I can/will/have this to do/etc".

And it works. So far. I know it's only been a couple of days.

What time I have spent on the internet has been mainly a) doing these blog posts, b) trying to promote my driving school website, c) a tiny amount of time on places like head heritage and dailygammon. And I've been doing it on my laptop, in a light bright spacious living room, not in a pokey gloomy cell.

Today I have six driving lessons, from 12 until 8. This evening I shall have a long luxurious soak in a deep hot bath. As far as the rest of the time between then and sleeping goes, I don't yet know.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

An unexpected pleasure.

The day before yesterday, I got an email out of the blue. It came from a German woman who is working in Wallasey. She's going back to Germany shortly, but before she goes, she wanted to drive on English roads, so that if in the future she had to do so, she would have the knowledge and the confidence to do so.

So that's what I did for two hours yesterday morning. Something different to the run-of-the-mill stuff. Her English was good enough to get by mainly, and I was careful in both choice and delivery of my words.

She called roundabouts "circles" and roadsigns, "Shields". Whether these are the german words, or the english translations I'm not sure.

What she found hardest to get to grips with (literally) was using her left hand to change gear. The pedals are in the same order regardless of which side of the road you drive on, but when you drive on the right, the gearstick is on your right. She quickly got the hang of this, and what initially promised to be a difficult session turned into a free-flowing drive that covered everything from tight residential streets, via twisty country lanes, to motorway driving. She finished the lesson with a big smile on her face.

One challenge for me was to concentrate on stuff that mattered (making sure she could work out where to put herself, making sure she knew where to look, giving her time space and practice in the physical act of driving from an unfamiliar position) and ignoring things that didn't really matter too much, such as whether she used push pull steering, or was occasionally coasting.

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Woke up... Fell out of bed...

This is my pupil, Laura's friend's house.

As we drove past Laura's friend's house yesterday, Laura pointed it out to me. In doing so, she veered over towards the wrong side of the road, straight into the path of an oncoming Vauxhall Astra. I had to instantly grab the wheel. Holy fuck. That was a close one. In my previous accidents, I've always been hit from behind. A head on collision is not something I want to happen any time soon. Combined closing speeds would have been somewhere around 60-70 miles per hour and it would have been a bad 'un, airbags or not. Honestly, you can't switch off for a second in this job.

Anyway, day two of the rest of my life, and all that. Yesterday's alcohol intake = 0.

Woke up at 6.30 with a mouth like... well something other than a budgie cage. Didn't get up and turn on PC. Hit snooze twice and grabbed an extra 16 minutes in bed instead.

Got up, got dressed. Had coffee. Opened mail - We're going to be getting a lot more tax credits, due to my earnings being so much less than predicted.

Went to pick up Scott, who had an early test.

He failed, on the same roundabout that he failed on last time, for pretty much the same reasons - nerves causing him to approach too quickly.

Took him home dejected and disgruntled. Got in about 9.30 and phoned parent of potential pupil that I didn't get the chance to call back yesterday due to my phone being a bit buggered.

New pupils starting monday. Hooray!

Made coffee.

Turned on PC so that I could blog this and catch the responses to a couple of things I posted yesterday. Not going on facebook or anything. Will be switching off computer and going to allottment when I finish this post.

Next lesson is at 12. Another test. Then straight to Bromborough for a lesson from 3 to 5.

Then done for the day. I want to take some photos of my little hideyhole so I'm not going to clean it up today although I plan to soon, despite intending to spend less time in here.

It's actually quite hard all this. Where I'd normally and automatically head to my room and the familiarity it represents, I have to do something jarringly other, whatever it may be.

Well, I picked a big bouquet of sweet peas, and filled a polystyrene container with raspberries, then took them home and left for my next appointment.

Another fail. Great driver, but one mistake cost him a pass. On another day, the lights would have stayed green, and he'd now be a fully qualified driver. Possibly just as well, since his dad had promised me a bottle of whiskey if he'd passed today.

The 3-5 lesson turned into 3-4. Got home about 4.20. Went online to order a load of business cards, and had a very brief surf, then spent more time down at the allottment, via the chippy.

It's now 7 O clock. I'm writing up the test fails for the bloggy part of my website, and will be trying to put a load of links to my website from other places.

So I'm not knocking the internet completely on the head. Just trying to make it more normal. So the sticky game sites that require daily participation are gone.

Bren is due back this evening. Don't know what time. Quite late I think. I hope she likes the flowers.

When I have finished doing the blog stuff, I shall go do some tidying up.

Then what? Telly? A good book? Maybe I should let the dice decide.

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The mouse will...

Get rat-arsed.

Big time.

On purpose.

I didn't particularly want to, and I didn't really enjoy doing so, but I did.

I screwed myself right into the fucking ground.

Things have not been good for a while now. Regular readers and old friends will already be aware that most of my adult life has been a struggle against substance misuse, and I've slid quite a long way down the slippery slope over the last few weeks and months.

Yesterday (tuesday) I referred myself to Wirral Alcohol Service. It's a step in a better direction.

Saying "No more drinking" is not in itself going to work. My whole damn life needs to change.

Here is my day today, 17th August 2011 (now yesterday) for example.

Go to bed at maybe 1.00 am. Drunk.

Wake up at perhaps 6.00 with a mouth like the bottom of a budgie cage.

Get up and go downstairs and drink about a pint of orange drink. (That's what we call it in England. Just ask Bill Hicks)

Go back to bed and try to get to sleep for a bit but fail.

Read in bed for half an hour and try to sleep again. And fail.

Get up. Go to my tiny boxy computer room and switch PC on. It's now maybe 7.30.

Surf the net for about 2 and a half hours until just turned 10.

Get dressed. Go out and wash car because I have new pupil today. Teach her from 11 until 1.

Get home at about 1.15. Switch on PC and surf until 1.45 then leave house for next lesson.

This lasts until about 3.50, and dovetails with another lesson that runs from 4 until 5.

Get home about 5.20.

Switch on PC and surf until about 6.40. Leave house for lesson at 7.

Back home at about 7.15.

Switch computer on. Surf until 1 in the morning, with a brief and unusual gap of about half an hour where I wash the dishes.

So what's that? 5 hours sleeping. 6 hours working. Perhaps an hour travelling between clients.

And 12 hours surfing the net.

OK. Bren's away, and things are a bit out of the ordinary, but it's not that out of the ordinary. It's pretty typical. Day in, day out. 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. All spent in a tiny, cluttered, chaotic and messy box room. Convicted criminals get more space and exercise.

No wonder I'm hitting the bottle. I'm bored shitless. That's part of it anyway. But only part.

Bren, by the way, sits downstairs watching telly. She's so lonely. I feel deeply ashamed of the way I've been treating her.

I also feel ashamed of drinking. This doesn't stop me doing it. It makes me sneaky about it. I try to kid myself that I'm getting away with it. I don't want to get shouted at. I don't want Bren to know how much or how often I do it. I try to kid myself that I'm pulling the wool over her eyes.

Yeah right.

Self respect is an important part of being mentally healthy. Without it, things go horribly out of key.

Shame, guilt. Deception. Self deception. Self loathing.

I've posted this because I want the furtive, underhand shit to stop. Now.

Tonight, I have not had a drink. I have an assessment appointment with the alcohol service on 30th August. This blog will serve as a drinks diary for the next few weeks, and I shall take my laptop along to the assessment. Apart from blogging, I want to drastically reduce the amount of time I spend online.

Life is too short.
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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

While the cat's away...

Bren is on her annual walking holiday with her mum.

A place called Waddow Hall, near Clitheroe, in Lancashire.

Right now, at ten O'clock on a Wednesday morning, I find that I miss her really badly.

Bren I love you and want you and need you, and I can't wait til you get back.

What's the richest country in the world?

Ireland, because it's capital is always Dublin.

Aye thang yewe. Take my wife... please.


What prompted this was a post on a discussion board about tax. This included a table showing what proportion of each nation's GDP was provided by taxation. I wondered if there was a connection between this and quality of life. Loosely there is, albeit with exceptions.

And there, at least in 2005,  was the Irish republic, sitting proudly at the top of the pile. I wonder if it still does?

Rank↓ Country or territory↓ Quality of Life Score
(out of 10)↓
1  Ireland 8.333
2  Switzerland 8.068
3  Norway 8.051
4  Luxembourg 8.015
5  Sweden 7.937
6  Australia 7.925
7  Iceland 7.911
8  Italy 7.810
9  Denmark 7.797
10  Spain 7.727
11  Singapore 7.719
12  Finland 7.618
13  United States 7.615
14  Canada 7.599
15  New Zealand 7.436
16  Netherlands 7.433
17  Japan 7.392
18  Hong Kong 7.347
19  Portugal 7.307
20  Austria 7.268
21  Taiwan 7.259
22  Greece 7.163
23  Cyprus 7.097
24  Belgium 7.095
25  France 7.084
26  Germany 7.048
27  Slovenia 6.986
28  Malta 6.934
29  United Kingdom 6.917
30  South Korea 6.877
31  Chile 6.789
32  Mexico 6.766
33  Barbados 6.702
34  Czech Republic 6.629
35  Costa Rica 6.624
36  Malaysia 6.608
37  Hungary 6.534
38  Israel 6.488
39  Brazil 6.470
40  Argentina 6.469
41  Qatar 6.462
42  Thailand 6.436
43  Sri Lanka 6.417
44  Philippines 6.403
45  Slovakia 6.381
46  Uruguay 6.368
47  Panama 6.361
48  Poland 6.309
49  Croatia 6.301
50  Turkey 6.286
51  Trinidad and Tobago 6.278
52  Ecuador 6.272
53  Peru 6.216
54  Colombia 6.176
55  Kuwait 6.171
56  El Salvador 6.164
57  Bulgaria 6.162
58  Romania 6.105
59  Venezuela 6.089
60  China 6.083
61  Vietnam 6.080
62  Bahrain 6.035
63  Lithuania 6.033
64  Jamaica 6.022
65  Morocco 6.018
66  Latvia 6.008
67  Oman 5.916
68  Estonia 5.905
69  United Arab Emirates 5.899
70  Libya 5.849
71  Indonesia 5.814
72  Saudi Arabia 5.767
73  India 5.759
74  Paraguay 5.756
75  Jordan 5.675
76  Nicaragua 5.663
77  Bangladesh 5.646
78  Albania 5.634
79  Dominican Republic 5.630
80  Egypt 5.605
81  Algeria 5.571
82  Bolivia 5.492
83  Tunisia 5.472
84  Serbia 5.428
85  Armenia 5.422
86  Azerbaijan 5.377
87  Georgia 5.365
88  Iran 5.343
89  Macedonia 5.337
90  Guatemala 5.321
91  Honduras 5.250
92  South Africa 5.245
93  Pakistan 5.229
94  Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.218
95  Ghana 5.174
96  Kazakhstan 5.082
97  Syria 5.052
98  Ukraine 5.032
99  Moldova 5.009
100  Belarus 4.978
101  Uganda 4.879
102  Turkmenistan 4.870
103  Kyrgyzstan 4.846
104  Botswana 4.810
105  Russia 4.796
106  Uzbekistan 4.767
107  Tajikistan 4.754
108  Nigeria 4.505
109  Tanzania 4.495
110  Haiti 4.090
111  Zimbabwe 3.892