Tag Archives: Alistair

One month on.

So, I’ve managed to survive my first month back in the UK. I’ve worked a lot, eaten a lot, slept very little, and spent too much money on things like food and drink which I could’ve done at “home” if you can call my bedsit that. But… I’ve given myself a break on that front. I’ve done more than survive, and as there’s no-one else to reward me,  I’ll damn well do it myself!
So, how am I? I’m not sure, is probably the honest answer. I don’t miss Holland in the slightest. If I ever set foot back there again there will have to be a massively good reason for it. Esther? I suppose I miss her in some ways, but not many. Of our interactions since we’ve been in different countries (of which she’s instigated none) there is nothing to indicate that she’s changed. She lets things happen to her… no.. she ENABLES things to happen to her.. and then tries (and will doubtless succeed cos when she sets her mind on something.. she’s good at it) to blame herself for it, rather than taking responsibility for herself, and taking charge of a situation. It’s a pernicious way to self harm, insidious in it’s own ease of execution. She’s not the woman I either created in my head, or the woman she was. I miss that woman, but she either never existed, or has been so long gone that, much like a death, you learn to live with the passing.  

As for here.. in Sunny Wolves… it’s actually good to be back. I’ve seen David, who I made the effort to see, and Chris, who popped up out of the blue and spoke, much to my surprise! It’s as grim as ever in terms of, people scowl rather than smile, but.. it’s just far more accessible than Holland for me and what IS me. There are several local pubs to pick from. Match-days pints are £1.80 a pint instead of over 5euro for 500ml so it’s viable to go out and watch the game and have 3 drinks and come home with change from £6! That makes social interaction, viable for the common working man. 3 different days.. 3 different games.. for under £20 expenditure! That would be about hmm… 57.60euro in the North End in Leiden. It’s actually cheaper in the one pub to have a full meal (big burger chips etc) and a pint than it is to have a guinness in the sports bar in Leiden, and it’s a 12 minute walk away! 

Work.. is grim. Finally I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing but lack of sleep and a stupid set up there is impacting upon my performance. Stupid errors caused by lack of concentration might ultimately cost me. There is an argument that although the pay is good for the 4 day week, I’d be better off somewhere where the expenditure fiscally and timewise were less. But it would eat my Thursday and Friday..
And me? How am I doing?  I’ve adapted. Only once have I thought “I can’t do this” at work, and not once have I thought “I can’t do this” re: the whole being divorced and continuing. I’ve found support in places I expected, like the Giff and it’s music.. the energy it gives me, and made new friends there already. Greeted by name.. means something. Danny coming over and saying “It’s good to have you back.”.. means .something. Si and Emma going out of their way to include me.. means something. But I’ve found it from other things too. A friend at work talking time out to talk most days. An old friend resurfacing and the startlingly easy way that our interaction just slipped back to what it was. The walk to the local shopping place can be done down a scenic route much akin to my old walk to the shop… heck there’s even a real canal if I fancy it. As of yet.. no herons.. or Ringnecks.. but lots of hedgerow birds, finches, siskins, chiffcaffs etc.. I need to take the camera one day while the weather still holds.


I’ll not lie. I miss coming home to someone. I miss physical contact. I’m hugely tactile and being in a house alone, let alone a bed alone, is not something I’ve done since Bright Street in 1995! It’s strange. It has it’s own pleasures… l don’t have to justify the pint on the way home I had. I don’t need to buy a TV. I can play the 28 min version of Child in Time without hearing the silent protestations of “Hells teeth is this STILL the same song” (and that goes out to everyone i’ve lived with. lmao) but.. I miss closeness. Lonely isn’t the right word. It’s an absence of something I want. Not require… but want. And it’s very very rare I want .. anything. 
But for now, it is how it is. And it’s nowhere near as bad as what it could’ve been. And for that I thank me, you, and whoever rolled the dice that’s made it so. 

Alive and kicking

I’m aware that some of you will be thinking, “Simple Minds, Alistair? But.. you’re not plural!”, however… moving swiftly on…

Yes, I’m alive, and yes, I’m well, give or take the sort of muscle ache which comes with some serious usage of bits of me that had forgotten they are required when doing energetic stuff.  After a whopping 4 nights at the Myers residence I landed in Wolves with a bedsit and a job at Amazon. Never let it be said that I sit on my arse and mope. Wallowing is for hippos and pigs (peppa’d, peppered or otherwise!) and while I hear a rumour that there’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood (possibly in combination with mud) I’m a single man! My blood has to be hot! Like a curry! Hang on no… the Flight of the Conchords analogy doesn’t work in this instance. Drat!

Anyway, so, I landed in Wolves on the Friday (18th), with two bags in tow as my worldly possessions, only to find that I can’t get into my new bachelor pad until 6.30pm, and I have… no sheets, no duvet, no cutlery, no… you get the idea! It was bereft of anything other than a desk, some draws and a wardrobe. So, I dump my things and using the gods of Google navigate to a reasonably new (i.e. it wasn’t here when I last lived here) shopping complex and buy a duvet, pillows, sheets etc only to emerge from the shop to find the light had died, my battery had died, and … within 100 meters of leaving the shop.. the handles on the bag had.. yes you guessed it.. died. Marvellous! 

However, I made it home.. and then promptly collapsed on the bed and zonked out, I believe the expression is. Saturday was going to (and did) consist of getting to Rugeley to Amazon for induction and I needed to be sprightly! How right I was! Getting there was a nightmare! First the bus driver had a personal issue and had to leave the bus! Then, google led me on a wild goose chase, making me walk for nearly 2 hours in the midday sun around the perimeter of Amazon to get to the entry point. Fortunately I like to get to places early to scout out where they are, but I arrived looking and feeling more than a little bedraggled. 

I suppose the rest is history. I’m working 4 on 3 off Sun-Wed 8-18.30, but travel is making an already long day into a veritable marathon. Leaving the house at 5.30am and returning at about 20.00 sucks, but needs must. The morning walk along the canal has been kind to me. As of yet, no rain and lots of wildlife. A water-vole gave me a surprise as they’re reasonably rare and being “BIP!!”ed at by territorial coots made me smile and remember the good things about living in Leiden, and then realise that maybe they’re transpose-able if you look in the right places. I even hear whispers of Ringnecks having made it this far north.

I still cry on occasion. Things get to me. I know what I’ve given up, the undertaking I’ve, well, undertaken! Leaving an easy way of life, and a pretty home, and let’s not forget, a wife who loved me unconditionally, to come to this : Hours of toil, a grotty bedsit, no-one to lay next to, cold mornings and evenings, barely a weeks worth of clothes, all to the back drop of the words to “Another suitcase in another hall” and a mind which ponders “Did i try hard enough? Did I give enough? Is this now what and who I am? A bastardised version of the man I want to be, defined by my own selfishness because of my own selfishness? And as I type.. my music decides to throw “Hurt” at me by NiN! Thanks for that. 

But I know all of the above passes. I know I should be, and for the most part AM proud of what I’ve done. In something like 19 days in the country I’ve secured a job and done 2 weeks and one half day of work, moved from Holland to Tony’s to Wolves and acquired accommodation here,  made new friends and caught up with old ones, partaken of real beer, real *coughs…. o.k. I’ll concede this is my version of real* Chinese and Indian food, and sat in the Giff, spending money earned by me, for me, and feeling home, and at peace. I was never at peace in Leiden. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: For me, there is something pernicious about the way of life there. I willfully ignored it for years but it didn’t ignore me. It ate at me. Leaving me bereft of anything other than anger and resentment. I’m free of that now, and the weight off my shoulders is literally allowing me to breath again easier. The chest pains have gone, the stress has been replaced with a different kind, but one which is manageable.  
And so it dawns on me. The basterdised version of me is not the me sat here, typing, but the me in Leiden. What I can at times perceive as selfish me, was in fact, my own self preservation instinct which in a last ditch effort to save me, gave me the strength to do this, before I was consumed utterly. The me sat here, is in recovery. Finding what was buried, rather than lost, and rediscovering it. I remember the person I was, waking every day bouncy, daft, jokey, irrespective of if I was due on a 12 hour night shift later, or cleaning a toilet in the Civic at 4.30am.

I’m healing. The cathartic therapy of a hard day lugging things about, mixed with support from Tony and Sadie, Paula, and the energy gifted me from the Giffard, will see me through. I’m not whole yet, but i’m no-longer broken. “Under construction” is probably accurate.

Which suggests… perhaps… at least for a while.. anyone venturing too close.. should wear a hard hat as a precaution. 

Wiseman out!

IQ test

I’m posting this because… every now and again it’s good to give yourself some self love… click the link and.. if you fancy it.. have a bash! It might cost you a couple of quid to get the results but.. it’s worth it because the questions are actually worthy of the name IQ test rather than the ridiculous general knowledge ones which are environmentally dependent.  

My first proper IQ test in a couple of years!

I’m quite chuffed with that to be honest!

My TripAdvisor report on Vegas!

Tr. 11 days in Circus Circus and Las Vegas.

So, flying from Amsterdam to Vegas is always something of a haul. I never bother with the nonstop option as it costs in the region of a third extra, and that just seems stupid. So, the wife and I headed out in the morning, and flew into Houston, on what was supposed to be a Dreamliner 787 but instead turned out to be a 767 due to the grounding of the Dreamliners. So much for the luxury! However, I have to say, there was an excellent selection of films and TV programs available and the 11 hour flight just melted away.

Landing, however, did not go quite so smoothly. We came into Houston airport like a bat out of hell, smacked the tarmac like it’d just crayoned all over the nice new wallpaper, and then took to the sky again, following the same metaphor, like child services had been called in! The pilot, in his wisdom, neglected to speak until the plane has circled, and landed properly, much to the consternation of all of the passengers, who had been sat looking at one another, not panicking, but not exactly in the frame of mind to plan their next vacation either. Lufthansa/United Airlines, sort out your communication in these situations.

So, 6 hours in Houston and adrenaline pumping, we sat preparing for the flight into Vegas. In truth, it went quickly enough, and any trepidations about getting onto another flying sardine-can-of-a-death-trap-with-no-way-of-escape, were dispelled after a big jar of beer in a watering hole on the airport. Into Vegas we dropped, and caught the shuttle, ($8 each), to Circus Circus.

Now, we’ve stayed here before once, and the Stratosphere, and the Sahara, so we know the location, and we know that the place is absolutely nothing like some of the snobs portray it to be like on sites such as this. These are the people who won’t use the Deuce, claim walking from hotel to hotel is not doable and thus call a taxi, and are prepared to pay $200 for a meal. Each! In my book, that adds up to a serious case of fiscal insanity, and is neither something we can afford, nor something I would ever wish to want to afford. I like to know, absolutely, the value of the expenditure for things, so that such complacency can never rear its pernicious head in my world. I digress! Bad me! So… we arrive, and, there is no queue. None. Ziltch! Nada! It’s about 10pm, and we simply walked up and checked in. Within 15 mins of arriving at the hotel, we were in our room. Unheard of!

The room itself was pretty much exactly the same as the room we last stayed in, armed with a bath, (something we don’t have at home and so is viewed as a luxury by me), and a shower which worked fine. There was no smell (nor has there ever been in my experience, and I’m a nonsmoker) and although the room was slightly old looking, it did the trick. TV, one bed for dumping stuff on, one for dumping US on. Sorted.

Of course, there was the issue with the rat…


So, settled, and unpacked, it was time to go grab a first drink, and we thought as the Queen Vic is across the road in Riviera, and I’m a Brit living in Holland, it was ideal to go get a pint of bitter, and a steak pie, something that just doesn’t exist in Holland. No such luck. The place was closed. Most miffed we grabbed a beer somewhere else and then decided to curl up for the night.

I’d love to be able to say we had a magnificent nights sleep, but, I can’t. It seemed next door had children, and they had an early flight out. 5am gave us the dulcet tones of crying young-uns, banging on walls, doors and anything else that amplified sound! “Oh no!”, thought I, “Not a horror story, not after I’ve espoused the virtues of stayig here so vociferously.”.Luckily as it turned out, it was only the first night, and probably actually helped us get over the jetlag. Every cloud, silver lining, etc etc.

So, today was all about getting the tickets we’d sorted online previously. Def Leppard at the Hard Rock, Raiding the Rock Vault, at LVH, and Drowning Pool at HR cafe on the strip. With the main Hard Rock Cafe being the most awkward to get to, and the LVH being right by CC we walked to the LVH first (Yes… we did the “w” word”) and then caught the Deuce to further down, and then walked to the HR Hotel.

Here we came to our first find of the trip. Gangnam Asian BBQ, which is just across from the Hard Rock Cafe (4480 Paradise Rd) and really isn’t something I would normally go for as I am not very experimental at all with food. However, I was hungry, and the wife would eat shoes if you put sauce on it and called it something complicated, so we plonked down. The concept is simple : Pick your meat, and they bring out a plate of it, and a grill that goes over burners built into your table, and you basically cook it yourself. Have a nosy at this to get the idea.


It worked well for me, and I ambled away full, and having tried a new concept. I’d go back again. Next stop was the Hofbrauhaus, probably the closest thing to a Dutch pub you can find. Beer was great, the lass on the bar was talkative and fun, but, there was a guy in the toilets working, (why oh why do they think you require a guy to squirt your soap for you?) who enquired of me, “What happened to your face?”. Mmmm! Nice! I have Rosacea, albeit not that bad, but bad enough for me to be self conscious of it. This day, I actually thought it was behaving well. Bang goes my self confidence for a few hours. Not impressed. The rest of the day was taken up ambling about a bit and generally being grumpy. Such is life.

The next day (after a good nights sleep at CC) was taken up meeting a friend from Holland, starting in 9 Fine Irishmen and then progressing through Vegas like the proper tourists that we were. The one thing of note we did was munch through a Mandalay Bay lunch Buffet, which was excellent. Lots of meat, lots of sea food. Can’t fault it.

Millers in Town Square deserves a mention as we passed through it for some food and drinks. Nice ambience and convivial enough. They even went out of their way to find us the Scotland football game. They didn’t actually find it, but they tried, which was nice. Instead we ended up with a Columbian game, which, while not the same, was at least being played with a ball that is spherical.

Drowning Pool called. The Hard Rock cafe on the strip is actually pretty cool. We sat and had a bucket of beer before heading into the concert venue. The view as the sun went down was lovely. 


However, upon getting into the queue for entering the venue part, I was stopped. I had with me a Motorhead bag, drawstring type, that had my spare jumper in and a camera, due to the temps dropping in late march considerably in the evening. My wife, had a similar bag, if a little larger, and was allowed inside no problem. “I don’t like that bag”, exclaims the man supervising the security people. “Don’t like it at all!”. “It’s a Motorhead bag!”, says I, “What’s not to like?”. Upon instruction it was searched, to find, oh, my jumper and a camera. “Not happy about it!” exclaims the man again. “You let my wife through with a bigger bag no problem, and I’ve travelled 9,000 miles for you to discriminate against a bag that is orientated around a band that helped set the foundations of the music you are claiming to be supporting?”. Eventually the guy gave in, and, I have to say, the venue was excellent. Drowning Pool are suited to such a venue, small, personal, and acoustically very good. Crisp is probably the right word. Afterwards the band came out and had pics taken with us all, the wife ending up hugging the guitarist. A good time was had by all but it would be remiss of me to not mention the stroppiness of the guy on the door. Had I not already paid, and my wife not already gone in, I probably would’ve told them to shove their venue where the sun doesn’t shine. Politeness and explanations of actions cost nothing.

Next day was something of a quiet one, the only thing of note was a visit to the pool, which was busy, and Monte Carlo Buffet, which was ok. Nothing thrilling all ways round,

Then came my birthday. For that, we’d decided to go see Raiding the Rock Vault, but first, we were going to do some shooting at the firing range at Discount Firearms. Having seen an advert for a pink guns breast cancer awareness package, my good lady was really up for it. Having woken up early, we walked the mile or so distance from CC, even though there was a free shuttle service, simply because it was a nice day. Upon arrival, we were excellently instructed on etiquette, dos and don’ts, etc by a guy who made us feel both welcome, safe, and supervised. For the next hour, the wife and I proceeded to have huge amounts of fun, chatting, and shooting, and generally enjoying the whole experience. The wife, it has to be said, managed 45 out of 50 in the bullseye, and one of the ones that “missed”, was very disconcertingly, right in the throat!


As starts to birthdays go, this one was brilliant.


After shooting, we decided to utilise the free shuttle and headed down to Town Square again for some food and drinks in Yard House, and then head back up to CC to drop off accumulated shirts from the firing range and bag and camera so as to avoid any grief at Raiding the Rock Vault. The Deuce stop being outside CC is such a boon. $21 for a 3 day unlimited pass, and boy did we get our $s worth out of it. I was actually really looking forward to the show as I knew all the artists involved and the bands that they had belonged to/ still do belong to. Unfortunately it simply did not live up to expectations.

Lets be clear, the musicians are excellent, but the ushers to your seats were rude to both us, and the other people coming in, and then to us ABOUT the other people coming in! The venue was only half full, and, everyone stayed sat down! Not to mention the featured singer (ex Deep Purple/Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner) only sang 2 songs. In a set over 2 hours long. There simply was no atmosphere, and we’d paid over 3x the amount to see them as we’d paid for Drowning Pool, and in point of fact, our Def Leppard tickets were also cheaper! It really is a shame because in the right venue, or with the right support in terms of audience, and with a change of staff, it has the makings of a great show. It just, well, wasn’t.

Somewhere along the way I have forgotten to mention Todd English. We were passing by Aria and wound up inside Todd English, where y wife had her first every Bloody Mary! She was impressed. The staff were cool and chatty, and amazed at the lady having never encountered a Bloody Mary before. Also, I somehow have neglected to mention Ping Pang Pong, which we took time out to hunt down. The food? Excellent! Price? Excellent! And.. there was no wait to be seated or indeed for the food. Both of these venues I would recommend heartilly!

The 26th was earmarked as TA quiz night at McMullans. It was also Scotlands qualifier again in the football, so, off to the Queen Vic we trotted. Sitting waiting for the game, 3 scotsmen appeared and plonked down, adding to the atmosphere nicely. Turns out one of them had seen my recommendation to come to the QV as they would be showing the game! Nice to know that the info given out on here is used positively! What was supposed to be 2 hours, turned into 5, and a steak pie dinner! The early morning drinks took their toll on my good lady and she was not best impressed at having to head down to McMullans, but, we’d actually arranged to come back to the Queen Vic to meet the chaps from earlier to go down there with us. They never showed up, which, to be fair, suited us nicely as we were not really up for it. As it happens I read the place was so rammed we’d’ve not got in in time anyway. Serendipity and beer are a great combination!

The came the Def Leppard concert at Hard Rock Hotel, or more accurately, the Joint.


Superb, is the only way to convey the sound in there. Def Lep were excellent, seats were too (and I can see why people would say all seats will be good seats) and the only thing I can really complain about is the fact that people stayed seated again throughout almost all the concert! IT’S A ROCK CONCERT!!! I just don’t get it. Anyway, they venue gets my approval, as does the performance. Having seen Sabbath, Deep Purple, Saxon, Metallica and Megadeth all in the space of a few months, this concert racked up nicely amongst them as just as good!

That’s the major events over and done with. There are a few other things I should throw in. The Ellis Island offer is, or at least was, still on at March 29th. I should add that the food was  good, but nothing spectacular, however the $10 of free slot play upon signing up turned into $70, and the beer there was very good, (I had the stout). We walked there and back and no one in any way shape or form molested us, and we didn’t die of exhaustion. Is it worth the effort? Probably not really, but it is another notch to tick off as a Vegas experience. We also did not die of food poisoning afterwards, but that of course might be linked to my hardy constitution developed as a student many years ago where I ate my own “cooking”. I should say that the appetiser, chilibean soup, was very good though.

We had a buffet in Mirage, which was good but nothing amazing, although they were playing KLF in the background, something only a child who grew up in the northish of England would probably chuckle at, especially in such auspicious settings. The buffet in Aria however, was something rather different. The food selection was good, and again found me hitting the seafood with gusto, followed by a meat run on general principle. The wife had fancy desserts and looked suitably guilty afterwards so I have to assume they were good! I did feel a little conspicuous in there, like it was too posh for me to be in, but hey, for all they knew i was a british footballer living it up with my exotic mistress!

Somewhere else in the trip we found our way into the 777 brewpub in Main Street Station and filled our faces with a bucket of 40 prawns (shrimp) and some chicken wings. Well drinks at $2.50 (for those who don’t know what a well drink is it appears to be a short + mixer.. eg rum and coke) and good food at decent prices. Can’t argue with that. We also ate in Tony Roma’s in Freemont hotel, which again was good value but, their lobster portion was not anything to write home about. It’s passable, but I’d not worry too much if I never made a reacquaintance with it.

The PBR Rockbar deserves a shout too. Buckets of Newcastle brown and a place to watch the world go by. The music was decent, and the servers actually left us alone without pestering us about if we wanted more, presumably working on the idea that we were adults and knew how to engage in acquiring more beer, having managed fine with the first bucket!

As a final mention, a big thanks goes out to the Levis store at north outlets. 2 pairs of 501s and 2 pairs of wife jeans, which at home here would cost at least $120-$150 per pair, cost $35 each. That’s a saving of about $400 (maybe more) just on jeans! That constitutes nearly 25% saving of our total costs for flights and accom, on things we’d’ve needed to have bought in Holland!!

Given the above math, the fact that we love coming to Vegas, and that we rarely gamble, it’s pretty much a guaranteed good time for us. This was our 4th trip in 5 years, and a good 90% of it was a success! Sun, good bands, great atmosphere, food and drinks that are simply beyond us/not available at home, and a bargin thrown in in terms of purchases and holiday price. Plus, this time, I have to admit, the idea of writing a report and posting it on here and involving a rat in Circus Circus, made me giggle from start to finish! Hopefully it made a few of you chuckle too.


(this part is not in the original post on TA). So, we headed out of Vegas on the red eye, and made it into Chicago somewhere around 7am, to have a shufti around and about. The buildings are amazing. I had two things I wanted to do while there, touch Lake Michigan, and grab a Blues Brothers shirt! I managed both, so this boy was a happy bunny. We had plans to go up the John Hancock tower, but thought it opened at 10, so we dived into a coffee shop for breakfast, and then after wifi enabled us to find out where the hell we were, headed off to the Hancock building on the understanding that, the water was only just past there. As it happened, the building was open at 9! “Bonus”, we thought, and headed inside. 

Now I have to say, I never have a problem with heights, and have proven that at the Stratosphere, so, maybe I was just tired, but man, did my legs decide to go wobbly! Esther however, was fine, much to my annoyance so, I decided to stop being stupid and sort it out. Choosing to hold on to a thing that looked solid but turned out to be cardboard did nothing to help me! But, I shook myself and sorted myself out. The view, is pretty damned cool, it has to be said.


 Having spent an hour or so up at the top, it was off to the waterside, a swift hand dip into the the lake, and then the tiredness hit. I needed a rest, so we found ourselves a pub, and sat, filled our faces and had a beer. I was sooo close to going back to the airport, when i remembered, I need a Blues Brothers shirt! So… off we trotted to the one place we knew must have it. Chicago House of Blues! “On a mission from god”, spattered across the back, Jack and Elwood on the front. What more could I ask for? Happy, tired, and ready to go home, back to the airport we trundled.

Tongue tied and beaten!

It has been a much discussed subject by many a person who has had the profound pleasure of eating with my good self, however, I still get questions about why I don’t eat X Y and Z. The simple solution seems to be to write it down for future reference!

So, we’re at a pub, and someone says “Fancy Pizza?” and I look at them like they’re suggesting I eat my finger, possibly swiftly removing said finger from my ear as a precautionary measure. “Sorry”, I reply, “but I don’t do cooked cheese, or cooked tomato.”. And then the questions begin! Quite often though, after having been offered pizza and refusing, they will say “get something else instead”, but then I will obstinately refuse to eat anything, and generally take myself away from the people involved until they’ve eaten.

The long and short of it is this. I have a stupid tongue. Technically it is called Tongue Tied, or even more technically, Ankyloglossia a condition I have actually written about before on my blog and other places online. What this means is, the tip of my tongue is attached by its retaining frenulum (piece of skin) not to the base of my mouth, but to the underside of my gum beneath the front bottom teeth. Add to that, the attachment to the tongue its self, which is attached not to the middle of the underside of the tongue, but to the tip, and you have a tongue with very restricted movement. I physically cannot lick my lips!

I should note… this condition is easily correctable.. and really should have been done when I was small. Unfortunately, although this condition was known about by my parents, they refused to acknowledge anything was wrong, and so, it only came to pass that I found out about the problem when I started to play a brass instrument which required me to “tongue” notes. Something I simply couldn’t do. As an adult, corrective surgery is not nearly as effective as when done as a child and indeed can cause major issues when speaking while not being guaranteed to be of any real use! One of the side effects of having this condition is that it causes upper pallet and gum issues, resulting in crooked teeth, something I have had all my life and presumably something which could’ve been avoided! The psychological issues related to both the tongue and teeth when going through school, were huge.

“So,” I hear you cry, “What has this to do with eating?”. Well, it is simple. I grew up with a big family. 3 brothers and a sister, mum and dad, all sat round the dining table at tea/dinner time. My parents were strict. Slaps were common and in fairness I have no issue with being hit for having done something wrong. I believe kids today (oh gods I sound old) would benefit hugely with a sound thrashing every so often, however that’s not the point. We would regularly eat foods with gravy on, which invariably would end up around my mouth, and as I had no way to lick it off, and napkins are not something for the working classes, I was left with a mess to deal with which was frankly nasty. Any attempt to wipe it off with my hand, resulted in a smack. Refusal to eat meant being sent to bed. Anything served with mash, presented the same issue. Anything with sauce, ie baked beans, the same issue. The choice was : Go without= go to bed (tea was invariably served at 5pm) or attempt to eat it, feel awful making a mess, then be punished, which possibly resulted in bed anyway!

It got that I hated the food I was served, and meal times were a time of fear for me, not something to look forward to, but something I could at best, hope to make it through unscathed. It rarely happened. In the end, the situation became so bad that I simply refused to eat the food, and so was excluded from the dinner table completely, and was sat, facing away from the family, with a plate of sandwiches, alienated. To not eat what everyone else ate was poured disdain upon absolutely. I was looked upon as “spoilt”, for not being forced to eat what they ate. It’s funny how one persons “spoilt” is another person’s hell.

And so life went on. When confronted with situations involving food, I have now an inbuilt Pavlovian reaction which automatically fills me with trepidation and dread. I rarely, if ever eat out or in with someone who I do not know well. Eating in company is generally a No-no, although a few guinnesses can help shed those inhibitors! I can remember as a child, regularly throwing away Mars bars because they had not come from the fridge, so the caramel was sticky and stringy and impossible for me to eat without making a mess. To not eat what everyone else is eating, sparks memories of being told I am difficult, and different, and spoilt. To eat something else, when having refused the original offer…. even more so. And so I retreat, beat myself up over it, and re-enforce the psychological hold this has over me again!

There were incidents with two of my brothers and me, regarding food, and although I doubt they will recall them, the impact they left on me stays strong in my memory, not because of the food, but because of the pure lack of understanding. But then they grew up with it being re-enforced upon them that I was different, and I was spoilt, so I guess in the end I can see where they’re coming from, and their reactions. They were programmed to. They were programmed too. Or at least, I’d like to think that, as it takes away the possibility that they simply chose to not understand, perhaps to continue their re-enforcement of their view of me.

So there it is. It’s not pleasant reading, but consider this. If I eat in your company it is a compliment to our friendship. If I run when you eat, it is through a reaction which I’ve had beaten into me since I was old enough to sit to the table and eat. And if I make a mess, give rise to the thought that, although it might make you shake your head to see such a mess, imagine all the reminders I get, when I see the detritus too!


New Year With Wifey and Nephews!


So, we made it back over to Crewe again on a quest for jeans, underwear, and catching up with old friends! Not sure as to which category real beer falls into but… we caught up on that too!

New Years Eve we headed straight into Crewe, hit the shops on a quest for pantage, and managed to manipulate a meeting with Heidi-Rose! Was good to bump into her again. As suspected, she appears to have her head screwed on, the girls were bouncy, and H managed to get us into a scary shop with dodgy shoes.


Tickets sorted for later on (thank you Ross n Karen) it was time to get down to serious shopping! Jeans appeared to me in a surprising form! BHS! I fear I am getting old! Okies… back to the hotel and off to the pub!


1st stop, The Duke of Bridgewater on Edleston Road/ Wistaston Crewe, made especially attractive by its free WIFI. There we met Chris and Richard Wiseman, Hamish’s kids, and Matt, for a few games of pool, and a pre Dantes beer or four! Nice to break the ice in a venue where you can hear conversation! Actually had a really good waffle with them!


Then to Dantes. Was good to see Paula again, looking especially well, and good to introduce Esther to Lisa, Sharon, Pod, Jo, etc etc. All in all, we had an excellent night! Awesome seems to be the buzz word! lol

So Saturday arrived slightly blurry, but it was a day to relax. Tramped off to the imp for some footy, and dropped Mike and Sarah a bell to say where we were. They came down for the Liverpool game… which extended into the Arse game… which moved on to a curry! A good time was had by all, but I’m never mentioning carnations or Surf n Turf in company again!


Then, we took a trundle to the Hop Pole and had a chuckle with Mr Myers! Always good to catch up!

3 Wisemen
Ah 3 Wisemen …. err…. Wisemans

So, Sunday we hit Hanley, and, instead of getting jeans, we wound up with underwear. Hmm.. actually that’s not quite true. Es got underwear! Surprisingly expensive but still waaayy cheaper than Dutch offerings, it was good to get things that now accommodate her weightloss! Hot stuff milady! lol

And so it came to the time to head back home. But first… a day in Manchester. Having only managed to pick up two pairs of pants (part of the vindication for actually heading over the water was “Buy Pants! Buy Lots!”) we did Manchester! And lo, there came upon the two Wiseman’s some jeans! 4 pairs in fact, of which milady also seems to fit in all of them! 6 pairs of decent jeans for under 90quid! Bonus! That saved the airfare and most of the hotel bill!

So… asides from the delay on the way home… all was well with the world!