Monday, March 31, 2008

EXCLUSIVE:Bogsey Rescues Viking Vistor After Freak Fall

Last Friday I received a visit from a Viking. As far as I could tell he was pretty well behaved – no reports of pillaging or plundering amongst my colleagues at work. In fact, the nearest we came to a crime that day was my own brief consideration of kidnapping said Viking and keeping him for myself. That’s because he is a handsome, six-year old guide dog who came, with his owner, to show me some new I.T. equipment. However, I reckoned it may have been a tad suspicious, me turning up with a new dog on the same day as a blind visitor is found unconscious at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

Of course, I could have claimed diminished responsibility. After all, I had only the previous day, spoken with the Guide Dogs Association and been told that they still haven’t found a dog for me. Now, I understand that they have to go through a careful matching process to make sure you get a compatible dog, but you’d think they would have realised by now that such a clever, gorgeous, hard-working mutt might be hard to find, and they may have to lower their sights a little.

It’s over a year now since my last dog, Ellis, took ill and as previous postings have illustrated, a long cane is a very poor substitute. Apart from being a well-trained rudder (not to mention a little engine when it comes to steep hills, I admit), my previous two dogs have had other top-pooch qualities which I had not anticipated. Perhaps the biggest of these is the social appeal that only dogs seem able to generate. People young and old adore guide dogs and that has a big effect on how they interact with me. Before owning Glen I used a white cane, which did have certain advantages – it didn’t eat as much as a dog, and subsequently crapped less, but in some ways I may as well have had a sign on my head saying ‘Leper – Kiss Me Quick’. It could be that people just weren’t sure what my cane was – was I about to do a Fred Astaire routine or beat them over the head with it? A dog, on the other paw, is like a social magnet, pulling people into his path. Once they’ve made contact with him, most people notice that he’s brought his ugly friend along, and feel duty bound to offer a courteous social nicety. It’s nice not to be the main focus of attention – the guide dog is the distracting third party who makes it easy to start a conversation – “He’s gorgeous isn’t he” or “How long have you had him?” And of course, particularly important to the male VIP is the guide dog’s pulling power when it comes to the ladies. Not only does he attract them better than your best aftershave, but also offers endless opportunities for outrageous flirting...I mean, who can resist when a woman comes up and asks if she can have a stroke...there’s only one answer isn’t there?

This attention, however, does have its downsides. At 6’4” I’m not the sort to blend into a crowd, but even less so with a guide dog. So slipping out incognito is virtually impossible, and my wife often receives reports of where I’ve been seen (This puts a dampener on the afore-mentioned flirting). It also means that on trips to public places, especially attractions designed for children, you do end up feeling rather like part of the attraction yourself – stand still too long and a queue of kids forms.

A guide dog takes a fair bit of looking after too –exercise, grooming, feeding and the obligatory picking up of jobbies are all additional chores to fit in around raising a career and holding down two kids. And of course, some of their habits leave a little to be desired. Glen was prone to suffering from irritable anal glands, and got some light relief from dragging them along the office floor, or the living room carpet. Suffice to say he was a dog who left his mark.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The One that Like Got Away, Right.

Talking to my kids, I realise that my normal style of writing may be a little out-dated, so this one’s for the kids.

Oh-my-god, you are like so not gonna believe what happened to me yesterday right cos I was like going to work right, and I was like proper chuffed right, cos I like got to the bus stop right and guess what, there’s a bus already there so I’m like ‘cool, no hangin’ around like a proper loser’ right, so I goes to get in right, like putting my cane in the door, and no that ain’t no euphawotsit you dirty bugger, so I’ve got my cane in right and then summet proper shadies happens right, cos the driver, right, he like closes the bloomin doors, and I’m like ‘Oi, get off my stick!’ and I’m like pullin’ it but it’s not comin out and then the bus just like pulls off right, with my knob still jammed in the doors, so I’m like hangin on right, still tryin to like pull it out, and the bus is like getting further away and the cane is like stretchin cos it’s got like this elastic sort of rope stuff in it and then I’m like thinking ‘s**t, this thing’s gonna go ping in a minute and take me out’ so I like have to let go and oh-my-god, my cane goes flyin out my hand right proper fast like, and I can hear it like bein like dragged along the road, and Im like standin there thinking I so cannot believe that just happened,

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sun Is Going Out

Gently slip rainbows into soft padded envelopes
Squeeze all the clouds into clean pillow cases
Tear down the sky and roll it up neatly
For the sun is going out.

Cover the mountains in old dust sheets
Scoop seas and oceans into large plastic buckets
Mop up the rivers, the streams and lakes
For the sun is going out.

Pack cities and towns into boxes and stack
Put jungles and forests into large green sacks
Hoover up hedges, bushes and flowers
For the sun is going out.

Lay silhouettes and reflections between sheets of old newspaper
Keep sparkles and twinkles in clear glass jars
Scrumple up time into a ball, and throw it up to the stars
For the sun is going out.

Cover it all with the sand from the deserts
Wrap the moon tightly in silver foil
And put food out for the animals one last time
For the sun is going out.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chopin 'n' Chips

This week my daughter will sit her grade 2 piano exam. Thankfully for her, she has inherited none of the musical abilities of her parents, so stands a good chance of passing.

She has learned to play on an old, but very nice piano that we inherited from her grandfather. She has persevered bravely with her practice, as the piano now desperately needs tuning again. For some reason, I’ve been putting off getting a tuner to come round, mainly, I think, due to a strange experience I had the last time it was tuned.

I can only describe it as surreal. It started normally enough, if a little busy in the Bogsey household. We were getting some lights fitted in the kitchen by an electrician who was a friend’s partner. On the same day, I had arranged for the piano to be tuned. Keen to have some lunch, but unable to access the kitchen, I had hit upon the great idea of visiting the local chippy, an idea which had gone down well with the electrician.

So, I found myself sitting down to a chip butty lunch with an electrician, his head covered in plaster dust – either that or a very bad case of dandruff. It was at this point that the piano tuner finished his work, and decided to enjoy the results with an impressive recital. It could so easily have been the start of a gay porn movie – “My, what a big toolbox you have…do you want to use the back door?” etc.

Which reminds me of when Mrs B and I were explaining what ‘gay’ means to my son, who was just six at the time, but not too young, we thought, for a bit of birds and bees / ying and yang / how's your father straightforward sex education. Taking it all in, he paused a while and with a cheeky grin asked “So, does that mean Homer Simpson is a homer-sexual?”

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Try Something Stupid Today

Bored with the run-of-the-mill cooking routine? Want to add a little excitement to your kitchen? Why not try the following recipe, which I invented recently.

Spaghetti With Toasted Chest Hair

You will need:

Normal Spaghetti
Gluten-free Spaghetti
2 pans of boiling water
1 baggy T-shirt, preferably one bought for you by your partner within the past 2 weeks.
1 glass of red wine (large)


1. Place the two pans of water on two gas rings, one behind the other. Make sure the gas is up nice and high, so that flames lick around the edge of the pans.

2. Place the gluten-free spaghetti in one pan, the normal spaghetti in the other.

3. After about 10 minutes, test the spaghetti in the front pan.

4. Then lean over the front pan, like a stupid idiot, and taste the spaghetti in the second pan.

5. After a few moments, you should smell burning. At this point, put your right index finger to your bottom lip and furrow your brow. Say to yourself “Mmm…smell’s like burning, but I’m only cooking pasta. Strange.”

6. After a few more seconds you may experience a strange sensation of heat as flames lick up your T-shirt.

7. At this point it is critical that you hold your nerve. Swift, sensible action will avoid worsening the already hazardous situation. Alternatively, my preferred method is to dance around the kitchen, fan the flames by flapping your hands around them in a pathetic attempt to put them out, yelping “help, I’m on fire!” in a weak, high-pitched voice.

8. With a bit of luck, the flames will die down enough for you to pull the T-shirt off, dump it on the floor and stamp on it.

9. Now down the red wine – it’ll steady your nerves.

10. Serve the pasta bare-chested, with generous amounts of self-pity. For extra effect, add comments like, “I hope you enjoy that, I nearly killed myself making it.”

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Who Said That?

As I continue to lose more of my sight, I rely more and more upon voices. I don’t just mean those voices we all use, whether it’s the over-attentive shop assistant, the unrelenting waffle of the radio DJ or the quiet personal exchanges of our loved ones. I’m talking artificial voices. I’m talking talking machines, and slowly but surely, I’m filling my house and sharing my life with them.

Malcolm resides in my microwave. It’s a large, robust sort of microwave, and that’s the kind of guy Malcolm is. I think he probably has an armed forces background and I’m sure when there’s nobody around he keeps the others under control. His no-nonsense, “not under my command, you don’t” type of voice is reassuringly trustworthy, if a little officious. If he tells me a chicken needs 23 minutes and 27 seconds to defrost, I tend to believe him, and I put up with him telling me that the door is closed or open – a fact which would only pass you by if you had just microwaved your brain. So he’s a bit of a control freak – if it stops me poisoning myself then I can cut him some slack.

It’s no coincidence that Malcolm’s twin brother, Stuart, is in charge of my kitchen scales. Another cool, unflappable character, Stuart ensures that he tells me precisely how much stuff I’ve managed to transfer from the packet to the bowl without spilling onto the worktop. Of course, he can tell me this in either metric or imperial, and although he does so efficiently and professionally, I can’t help notice a slight favouritism for the old pounds and ounces. At times, I think it would be nice if his stiff upper lip loosened a little and he allowed himself a comment or two. It would be good to know if, for example, he thought I should use organic raisins in my fruit scones, or if the extra half an ounce of sugar would make any difference.

Out of the kitchen, my voices become a little more cosmopolitan. My wristwatch, for example, houses Wendy. She is a perfectly pleasant North American lady. She does a pretty good job, but like many Americans, she is less self-conscious about making herself heard than we Brits. I notice this most during long, boring committee meetings, when I need to check how many more tortuous minutes remain to be endured. Whereas I’m quite sure either Malcolm or Stuart would managed a polite whisper so as not to draw attention to my tedium, Wendy just belts it out without a modicum of self-consciousness.

Wendy spends all night next to Danielle, who is the voice of my digital radio, on my bedside table. And, let me tell you, there’s only one other place I’d rather have Danielle, and it wouldn’t be far for her to move. We are talking smooth talking, self-assured, calm and altogether classy. I’m in no doubt that whoever it was that decided on a voice to wake up to in the morning, it must have been a man.

Since getting a satellite dish installed, I now also play host to a number of different voices during the week. They provide what’s called ‘audio description’ for a number of TV programmes – providing a running commentary in between the dialogue, describing scenery, action and facial expression to add to the viewing experience. I’m looking forward to the upgraded version that is interactive, and can answer questions like, “Oh, now what was he in before?” and “If I make a cup of tea now will I miss her getting her wahoolies out?”