Sunday, 31 August 2014


person = person.

person + drug = different person

there was a time a few years ago when Mike lived at home with us.

Every so often, we would get a midnight phonecall. A drunken Mike had got into some kind of scrape. Tried to jump off a building, or had the crap beaten out of him/beaten the crap out of someone. He's done himself real harm before today, and there were times where his rampages put us in danger too. But somehow, he'd got through and once sober, was back to his usual self.

I understand the compulsion to do self destructive shit. It's a behaviour I've engaged in many times.

Mike had problems for years. He longed for a normal life. The whole family/home/job deal. Eventually he got something like it, living with Jenny, and having a child, Zach. Yet it couldn't banish the demons.

On Friday night, Mike had been out with Jenny for a birthday party. He'd been drinking spirits. He left early.

Some time later, Jenny came home to find him hanging from the bannister. She cut him down and phoned 999. Mike wasn't breathing. The emergency people talked her through how to do CPR, and the police and paramedics arrived. They continued to work on Mike as they took him to hospital, and there the work continued for about an hour before finally, Mike was pronounced dead.

I'd like to think he didn't really mean it. Maybe he thought Jenny would be back sooner, or that he'd be able to get out of what he got into. I know he wouldn't have done it if he'd been sober.

I went out to my monthly backgammon meeting on Friday night. I'd been up since 7 that morning, so I was very tired when I got home from Liverpool. Bren was watching Suburgatory on the telly. I went into my cave and went on the internet. About midnight, the phone rang. It was my other step-son, Alex. We knew straight away that it would be something to do with Mike. I must confess, my initial thought was "For fuck's sake, Mike. What now?" Alex couldn't tell us much more than that Mike had been taken to Arrowe Park hospital. I would have gone with Bren, but I should have been working early next morning, so Bren went on her own. She even took a book with her, expecting it to be the usual long wait in A and E while they patched him up.

I stayed up for half an hour or so, then went to bed. Lying there, somehow I had a sense of foreboding but eventually I slept. I was woken by Bren about 3 in the morning. She didn't beat around the bush.

"Mike's dead." She said. "He hung himself."

Dark dark dark. I sent texts to the pupils I was supposed to teach yesterday, cancelling. We cried. We slept. A little. I was shaking with shock. Bren was in a strange place. Too numb to feel anything at all.

We woke early to find nothing had changed. It wasn't going to go away.

We went for a walk along the shore while we were killing time. I looked out at the wide expanses of sea and sky. There were black clouds over New Brighton.

Bren's daughter, Lisa, had been staying in Liverpool, and we had no way of seeing her. We knew she was coming home the next morning and wanted to tell her face to face, rather than by phone, and Bren was scared that someone would post something on facebook. So we went for a walk, then headed to the house in Wallasey.

Lisa hadn't heard. Bren told her. More fucked up despair and disbelief.

A lot of people knew by then, but nobody had said anything on social media until either his girlfriend, Jenny, or Bren had said something publicly.

Bren said goodbye to him on facebook this morning and finally had a good cry. A premonition to doing it for real when he has his funeral.

As far as that's concerned, we don't know anything about that just yet. Until the coroner releases the body, we can't make any arrangements.

Right now, the initial raw grief and shock have subsided a little. It will take a long time before things get back to any kind of normal though. It takes very little to make the tears flow.

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Saturday, 30 August 2014


My Stepson killed himself last night.                                                                                      
There's a big hole that I keep falling into.                                                                               
my poor poor bren. nobody should have to bury their child                                                   

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Breaking Bad

I rarely watch the telly. My habit is to disappear into my cave and surf the net.

This is not a good way of spending time with the most important person (apart from me!) in my life.

A lot of people who's opinions I respect have been bigging up Breaking Bad.

So, to kill two birds with one stone, a couple of weeks ago, I signed up for the month free trial of Netflix.

Bren and I watched the movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I read the book years ago, and really enjoyed it. I saw the movie when it first came out, at a movie theatre that's now been turned into a block of flats. The audience was full of ageing hippies. The film adaptation was incredibly faithful to the book. The script was lifted almost verbatim from the text of the book. Yet somehow, apart from brief moments, such as the "If you look, with the right kind of eyes, you can almost see where the wave broke" bit, the collateral damage caused by the reckless hedonism of the protagonists left me troubled.

Johnny Depp's character was obviously aware of this, particularly in the cafe scene where his sidekick had opened old wounds in the life of the woman serving them with his hunting knife.

I've often hurt others because of my selfishness, but deliberate cruelty just isn't part of who I am, or ever want to be.

Anyway, netflix languished on my playstation, unwatched, until tonight.

Instead of disappearing into my room, I put on Episode one, Season one of Breaking Bad. That's really why I signed up for netflix in the first place.

So, first impressions?

Well, why on earth did the emergency vehicles have their sirens blaring in the middle of nowhere? In the UK, they use them to alert traffic on busy roads, not as a matter of routine. Perhaps it's different in the US?

The programme had a lovely mix of believability and drama. I quickly gained empathy with Walter White. There was humour too.

Without ever watching any of it before, I'd heard enough about it to be familiar with the basic premise, but had no idea about the specifics.

So far so good, anyway. I'm looking forward to watching as much of it as I can before the free month expires.

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Actually, on second drinking, that mead is pretty disgusting. Most of my brews are. I really should invest in some brewers yeast.

Anyway, there's a lot of volcanic and tectonic activity going on in Iceland right now. There frequently is, but it's in the news at the moment, and that got me thinking.

If a major geological event were to occur, on the South coast of Iceland, which generated a sizeable tsunami, where would it hit hardest?

Well, presumably the Faroe Islands would get the first impact, followed by the North West coast of Scotland, and then the North coast of Ireland before the surge was funnelled through the narrow bit between Northern Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre, before spreading out into the Irish Sea, (possibly causing carnage on the Isle of Man, and then on to the North Wales coast, and Liverpool Bay.


Well, I've checked the location of the Bardarbunga volcano on Google Earth, and it's pretty much in the centre of Iceland, but if the Hvannadalshnúkur volcano was to go in a big way, then I might just be in trouble.

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Sunday, 24 August 2014


I laid down a batch of mead a couple of months back. Two 5 litre demijohns.

Very simple. Put honey, yeast and water into demijohn and wait.

The first demijohn's contents weren't anything special. I suspect I should have taken more care about sterilising my kit. Just had my first glass of the second demijohn now, and it's proper mead. It's alcoholic, tastes like honey, and is cloyingly sweet. I added some pure lemon juice to my second glass, and it's now quite suppable.

One of my better brews in fact.

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014



adjective: moribund
(of a person) at the point of death.
"on examination she was moribund and dehydrated"
synonyms:dying, expiring, on one's deathbed, near death, near the end, at death's door, breathing one's last, fading/sinking fast, not long for this world, failing rapidly, on one's last legs, in extremis;
informalwith one foot in the grave
"the patient was moribund"
antonyms:thriving, recovering
(of a thing) in terminal decline; lacking vitality or vigour.
"the moribund commercial property market"
synonyms:declining, in decline, on the decline, waning, dying, stagnating, stagnant, decaying, crumbling, atrophying, obsolescent, on its last legs;
informalon the way out
"the country's moribund shipbuilding industry"

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

bad day at the office

well how do you do?

I had an early start today. Up with the lark for an 8:20 test (she failed)

trouble was, I couldn't sleep last night, so I got 2 hours sleep.

should have been two tests today, but we somehow got the wrong test centre. It was partly my pupil's fault because I'd asked him several times if he was sure the test was in Wallasey, and I asked him to dig out the email, but it never happened. Still, ultimately it's my responsibility to get him to the right place on time. result being that I'm hundreds of pounds out of pocket. In future I will be writing the venue into my diary along with the date and time.

But at least we're alive. As we came to the brow of this hill, on this bend...

some knobhead in a silver Mercedez came around the other way, on the wrong side of the road, at about 50 miles an hour, closely followed by another shitforbrains in a black BMW. I heard his tyres screech as he swerved to avoid us. We had no time to react at all, and if he had hit us, he's have hospitalised the lot of us, at least.

Anyway, we got to the test centre to find the unpleasant news that we were in the wrong place, and drove home. My next pupil wasn't in.

I cancelled the last one. Sometimes £20 is just not worth the bother.

I'm thinking of buying a dashcam.

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