Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hello Sailor

My first experience of sailing did not get off to the smoothest of starts. Yes, York is a nice place, but an hour and a half stuck in the station while they cleared some poor bugger off the line was no fun. So by the time I eventually arrived at Ipswich I was certainly looking forward to a more tranquil and relaxing form of transport.
A short car journey to the marina and, in no time at all, I was safely aboard Incus, a 32-feet yacht, with my captain for the weekend, Ian, and his first mate, Ross. Clearly keen to set me at ease, Ross cheerfully informed me that there had been an issue with his CRB clearance but I shouldn’t worry about it. In normal circumstances I might have feared for my virginity, but hey, the guy had brought a Chinese take-away and I was starving, so I figured it was worth the risk.
Bellies filled, my fellow sailors set about establishing my previous experience, skills and qualifications to be employed over the coming 48 hours. Before you could yell ‘Ahoy there’ they had established that I was about as much use as a tin of spam in a synagogue. Which meant, of course, more work for them. I felt sure they’d get their own back at some point.
During a fitful sleep, I learned that my fellow sailor’s revenge for landing them with my fat useless northern arse was stereophonic snoring. Still, whilst I could hear them snoring I knew they weren’t busy plotting my watery demise.
The actual sailing bit seemed to me a bit complicated. Shallow waters to navigate, big cargo ships to avoid, sails to let out and pull in, angles to work out, buoys to spot, tides to judge and so on. Just as well I was there to keep them right, I reckon. They say a good sailor should be able to sail by the feel of the wind on his face. All I needed was an audio compass to keep me right, but skipper Ian reckoned this electronic, bleeping device would be bleeping annoying. Instead I had them both telling me every five seconds “5 degrees right”, “Ten degrees left” etc. Much more relaxing.
At one point I felt sure that Ross’s CRB issue was about to become all too clear. We were heading for a nice quiet backwater – somewhere where we wouldn’t be disturbed. But first, we had to pick up a boy! Thankfully, once we’d picked up the buoy we found our backwater and dropped anchor for a delightful lunch.
All in all a splendid weekend, with two very nice southerners. Weird, eh?

Monday, August 24, 2009

keep your ear on the ball

Thank goodness the Ashes are over. I can now relax in the knowledge that I am not going to be called upon to do my duty for England, and can instead concentrate on honing my skills as a visually-impaired (VI) cricketer.
VI cricket, as I have only just discovered, is not as daft an idea as it might at first sound. Of course, a few equipment and rule adaptations are required. For example, rather than the normal cricket ball, a small football is used and it contains some ball-bearings to give players an auditory clue as to its whereabouts. A larger than normal set of stumps is also used, but normal sized cricket bats are employed – I was rather hoping I could use a giant bat and just stand behind it.
It is certainly an interesting experience. On my first attempt at bowling I had Geoffrey Boycott’s words at the forefront of my mind – “Keep bowling in the corridor of uncertainty”. With only the wicket-keepers claps to guide me I couldn’t help feeling that I would be pitching it anywhere in a very wide motorway of extreme uncertainty for myself, and one in which the batsman would not only need good hearing but also very, very long arms. However, I did manage to keep broadly in line with the stumps which meant a rather perverse sense of satisfaction was derived from hearing the ball being smacked away - a feeling which I’m sure will wear off in time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Foley Ventures South

By rights I should really still be asleep, or at the very least slowly waking up over my morning coffee. Instead I find myself heading due south with Foley, destination King's Cross, for onward travel to a meeting in the swanky West End. We are travelling with the east-coast train operator that has just announced that it cannot run the line any longer and is handing it back to the government. So I am hoping that we make it back before the whole thing goes tickets up and the good old British Rail pork pie makes its return. Still, if we do get stranded down in the Smoke, at least I am suitably attired for the heat wave conditions, in a light shirt and trousers. So, it was absolutely no surprise to me when the taxi driver who brought us to the station gleefully informed me that it was chucking it down in London.

The train guard this morning sounds like he may have shares in his current employer's business. He can barely summon the will to blah blah blah his blah blah blahs. I'm just glad he's not driving the train. He makes Gordon Brown sound like a children's entertainer on acid.

Perhaps he is fed up because he has to share a little office with the guy coming round to collect the rubbish, whose body odour is something else. I just wish it was somewhere else. As he passes through the train he leaves a trail of spluttering passengers' who are now probably trying to hide any remaining litter before bin-bag Bob returns. Or maybe Happy Harry the guard is sick of the sight of his daily bacon sandwich. That I could understand. I can only assume that Justin the catering manager is practicing for the up-coming national flattest sandwich competition.THER that or he has very little space in which to store them so makes sure they comply to strict height control standards.

You will be glad to know that Foley seems unperturbed by it all and is having a good snooze. Not a bad idea.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Crazy Dog

Well, as predicted, I couldn’t leave the vicinity of the bathroom for long enough to have my ‘trial run’ on the scheduled day. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before Huey Lewis stopped singing down the big white telephone and I was at last introduced to my potential match – a lovely yellow Labrador by the name of Foley – who, even two weeks before his eventual permanent arrival in the Bogsey household, is already affectionately known as Roly Poly Foley, Axel and Crazy Dog (ding ding).

Having waited 18 months for him, you’d think Mrs B would be happy with our prospective new arrival. But no. Having just read a book about an assistance dog that fetches shopping, does laundry and carries out life-saving first aid to its owner, she seems to think that a mere guide dog gets off rather lightly. Come to think about it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if I could train young Foley up to do some slightly more advanced work, particularly in the office.

Job Description

Job Title: Bogsey’s Guide Dog

Main Purpose
To stop Bogsey from making a complete arse of himself.

Main Duties

1. To attract the attention of top totty, making it impossible for office babes to walk past without stopping for a friendly chat.

2. To run errands, distributing post, fetching copier paper, making coffee etc, ensuring that health and safety regulations are complied with at all times.

3. To sniff out food, ensuring that colleagues feel obliged to reveal secret stocks and share them with team mates (i.e. Bogsey).

4. To promote efficiency, bringing about an abrupt end to over-running meetings using the ‘sorry, it’s something he’s eaten’ method.

5. To prepare ruff drafts of reports and other doguments.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Guide Dog Sets New Speed Record (Wind Assisted)

I have a horrible feeling that events are conspiring against me this week. Somebody up there is out to teach me a lesson. As they say on ‘Pushing Daisies’, the facts are these:

Bogsey, aged 40 years, 16 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes, is eagerly anticipating a meeting. An important meeting with a blond, name as yet unknown. No, not a 40th birthday present from his mates – rather, a guide-dog, - at long last, a potential match.

Meanwhile, a nasty little stomach bug is working its way through the Bogsey family – Mrs B and the two little Bs are already suffering the effects, and I have a horrible feeling that its inevitable journey to my bowel will coincide with a my important meeting.

This could make for an interesting day. I may have to spend the morning trying to make sure the house smells ok – I don’t want to be refused the dog because of fears about the cleanliness of the house! Assuming the dog doesn’t take a sniff and turn its nose up, I then have to take it for a little walk, mainly to check its speed. That could be interesting. My speed might be a little variable and if I’m caught short it will have to be a greyhound to keep up with me. Perhaps it would be wise to take a couple of extra poo-bags with me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who dear? Me dear?

As with many of my ‘good’ ideas, it turned out not to be. LG was off school – their boiler had broken down and ‘No Mr Boggie, you can’t just send him in with a hot water bottle’ – and I had already resolved to go that day to give blood. It’ll be interesting for him, even educational’ I thought to myself. I wasn’t quite prepared for just how educational.

It was many years ago that I had last delivered a pint of the red stuff and had forgotten that it involves a certain amount of screening before they let you do this. It’s weird how they spend such time and effort trying to get you to go and give blood and then seem equally determined to find a reason why you should not. Having logged me onto the computer, LG and I were then guided towards a little screened off area for interrogation.

The first step was for the nice male nurse to read through a leaflet for me – being a trained healthcare professional he had picked up on the fact that I was as blind as a bat in this dimly lit hall and he would have to go through it all for me. Now, contrary to popular belief, I am not completely stupid and I knew that some of the risk factors would be mentioned but, to be honest, I was more concerned with making sure I didn’t show myself up by crying or fainting when the old needles started to come out. It started off harmlessly enough, but I knew that this chap wasn’t going to accept ‘yeah whatever’ as informed consent as he ploughed his way through all the information. Soon he was onto the interesting stuff – things that increase the likelihood of your blood being of a blood-type they weren’t interested in, i.e. rotten, stinking infected blood. Before I saw it coming, he was telling me that oral and anal sex with another male was a risk factor. Then he asked me if it was o.k. to read this stuff out in front of LG. The horse had bolted so long ago, there was just a faint smell of manure in the air, and I calmly said ‘oh, it’s ok’ while my head was going ‘oh my God, how am I going to explain this?’

Having trudged through the leaflet, he then explained that he now needed to go through a health questionnaire with me. By this time I was catching on, and anticipating some rather intimate questions, I suggested to LG that he go and wait in the reception area. Thankfully, I think the volume of boring questions outweighed the interest of the odd juicy one, and he left us to it. Question after question after question, I answered ‘no’. I started to wonder how many more seedy but probably interesting things I could admit to never having tried. Why wasn’t there a box labelled ‘boring white middle-aged git’ that I could have ticked and saved a whole lot of time? I wanted to ask the nurse if he had ever done any of these things he was asking me about. I wanted to know what proportion of the donors were as boring and inexperienced as me. There wasn’t one thing to which I could give a positive reply. If only their stupid questionnaire had asked “Have you ever snogged a girl behind the stationery cupboard door at primary school’ or ‘Did you ever get a drunken snog from Katy Whitehouse on the stairs of the Mansion House pub whilst dressed as a doctor?’ I could have sat back in my chair with a knowing smile and replied ‘Ah, yes, actually. I bet you haven’t’

Once we had established that my blood would probably not even register on the radar of any self-respecting immune system, let alone be rejected by it, LG was called back to watch me go through the next stage of the humiliation, where they pricked my finger and tested a drop of blood to see if I was anaemic. I resisted the temptation to say that maybe I should be ruled out now for having had a male nurse put his prick in my hand, and waited to see if my drop was heavy enough to sink in the solution. This was shortly after the Christmas holidays and I began to wonder what effect alcohol would have. I imagined that the solution might form a smooth, creamy head, but it didn’t, and to my relief, it was confirmed that I could now claim, as well as being bloody heavy, to have heavy blood.

At last we escaped Guantanamo corner and made our way to the beds. I half expected my interrogator to pull a rubber glove out of his drawer, so having a big needle stuck in my arm was of little concern to me now. LG did his best to reassure me by telling me ‘it’s nearly up to a litre now’ as he watched me being drained. It was all over in five minutes.

On the way home I did my best to explain to LG why they need to talk about drugs and sex and foreign travel before you give blood and he seemed ok with it all. ‘If you’ve got any questions,’ I reassured him, ‘you can always ask your mum’.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Yuletide Blog

This festive season has been just like Santa’s sack – bursting with goodies. I’ll leave the socks, chocolate and pj’s to one side and tell you a little about the real surprises that made this Christmas memorable.

It all started with an egg. Yes, I know that’s more Easter than Christmas, but go with it for now. Returning from a pre-Christmas trip to the local shops, I happened upon a street sign lurking menacingly near the top of my road. Showing no sign of festive goodwill, said sign made no attempt to get out of my way, so it was left to my skill and judgement with my trusty long cane to avoid it. It’s amazing how hard an immovable object is when you walk into one, even at low speeds. And so, just like the virgin Mary, my bump formed without any human intervention and I staggered back home, with help from my boy LG (Little Guy) who did a good job of looking after the old man.

I haven’t had too many accidents this winter and this one did nothing to engender festive spirit. Even a good works night out didn’t much improve my demeanour and I started the holidays in distinctly humbugular fettle. By Christmas Eve I was finally getting into the mood and looking forward to Santa’s visit.

They do say that Christmas is all about the giving rather than receiving. Well some of the gifts have been giving me problems since they were unwrapped. First, as I sit writing this post I still have a nagging pain in my left shoulder thanks to Wii boxing and have had to retire undefeated with a record of 2 fights, 2 wins, both by knockout. It’s much better to bow out when you’re at your peak. Mrs B is nursing a similar injury – I think it’s proved a useful reminder to us that wii are not wii kids any more. I’ve also seen a different side to my loved ones which has reassured me that they can look after themselves when push comes to smack in the face.

Another grief-giving gift was Mrs B’s MP3 player, which I had stupidly thought would be just the Jewson – nothing too complicated I thought. Two days and several grey hairs later, I had been issued an ultimatum – get it working otherwise it was heading somewhere where the reception ain’t too good. I was minutes from giving up and taking it back to the smug git in Curry’s who told me it was ‘really easy’ when I finally found the answer and saved my marriage.

Christmas Day itself involved a splendid slap-up family dinner. Just as the grown-ups were enjoying the relative peace and good behaviour of the children, we made the fatal mistake of taking our eyes off Mrs B’s father. He was busy turning used party-poppers into pea-shooters. Showing his gratitude for his daughter-in-law’s hospitality and generosity, he managed to catch her in the eye with one of his saliva-moulded paper missiles. It’s nice that the senior citizens in the family set such a good example to the young ones.

Happy New Year!