Stuff

There are some things, most of little or no importance, that I've listed below. I'll add to the list now and again, but this'll probably only happen on a whim.

Cycling

As a child I wasn't very interested in cycling; there were far too many other interesting things with which to occupy my time. However, at the age of 21 (oh, that must be 14 years ago now), I bought my first (road) bike in years. And I was hooked. As a result of an insane woman at a roundabout that bike was quickly replaced by another. I then developed a passion (which almost became obsessive) for off-road cycling and this, in turn, led to the purchase of a tandem (mine's actually red, but this is otherwise identical) which presently occupies way too much space in my bedroom.

A taste for the baroque

My most favourite pub is Baroque, in Sunderland. It's just so fake gothic and has lots of gargoyles with lighty-up eyes. And, for reasons that I can't quite explain, my second favourite bar is also in Sunderland. This may be surprising since Sunderland has the worst city centre in the country ... unless, of course, you've ever been to Stevenage. Almost all of my other most preferred bars are in Newcastle ... Oh, and there's an awful pub in Darlington that I'll include for sentimental reasons.

Poppies

Although I'm not quite sure why, I've liked Poppies since I was very young. I intend, one day, to have a garden full of them And Daisies too, so I won't need to cut the grass or, in fact, perform any other form of garden maintenance.

Yum yum

This one's a link, but purely because it's way to big to include here.

Drowning

While searching for random things in an online encyclopaedia one night, I tried a search for a ship that was scrapped, I believe, in the early 1970s. And I found it. I think I would have been around seven or eight years old at the time, in 1968 or '69 if I remember correctly, when we were returning 'home' from New Zealand on this ship; the RMS Rangitani. The five or six week trip by sea was needed as a result of my quite explosive bout of air sickness a few months earlier. Although I was unhappy about the fact that we were leaving New Zealand, I did enjoy being a kid on this ship. I still have some peculiar drums that my grandmother bought for me when we stopped off in Jamaica. And I have very clear memories of the look of horror on her face when I accepted a piece of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum from a prostitute in Tahiti; well, I had no conception of what was going on at that age and only remembered/realised several years later ... ok, a couple of years ago.

Throughout the voyage home I suffered from an irritating rash on my bum, which the ship's doctor diagnosed as an allergy; probably the result of the large amount of passion fruit that I tended to eat at the time. I was therefore banned from my favourite food (I wasn't to eat one again for many years because the doctor had filled me with fears over recurring blistering of my cheeks). Unfortunately, I was also subjected to rather barbaric treatment which involved the almost daily sticking of needles and other sharp instruments into my bum cheeks. And, as if this wasn't sufficiently degrading, it was deemed necessary for me to lie face down in the sun without trousers. Fortunately, I was allowed to use a very tiny deck just in front (or do I say fore?) of the funnel to reduce my embarrassment. Regrettably, the only outcome was a bronzed, but still blistered, rear end.

When not lying in the sun, I spent most of my time with some Australian kids. We would devote much of our attention to battles with American or British kids (I spoke with an odd hybrid North-Eastern/New Zealand accent so wasn't accepted by the other British kids). Each evening, after temporary truces had been agreed, we usually ended our days by building camps from deck chairs or jumping into the swimming pool as it was being emptied. Although I'd learned to swim some time earlier, in a insect infested and mud-filled outdoor pool in Auckland, in common with my friends I was nervous about swimming in six feet of water. We tended to prefer four feet or less, but we also loved to swim round the centre of the pool as the whirlpool created by the water being drained gained in strength.

One evening I arrived at the pool early, before my friends and before the daily pool emptying process had begun. I jumped into the pool and started to swim around, staying very close to the edge (and the tarnished brass rail). I can remember feeling both nervous but excited at the thought of the depth of water. I can also recall very clearly the feeling of blind panic when I realised I'd strayed away from the handrail. In my instant state of distress, I seemed to lose the ability to swim and sank like a brick. I did manage to get back to the surface but, after a couple of gasps, sank again. This happened another couple of times before I started swallowing water. I probably only struggled for a minute or two before I gave up, but it seemed longer at the time. The end result was a feeling that I couldn't do anything and, so, I stopped struggling and gave up. The last things I can remember were the taste of the salt water, the pain in my chest as I gulped in water, and the feeling that I didn't particularly care any more.

I obviously passed out because the next thing I knew I was half out of the water, suspended by my hair. Luckily, a deck officer had noticed me and pulled me out ... well, obviously he did ... otherwise I'd not have been able to type this. I received a major bollocking for the whole thing, but fortunately my mother never found out what really happened (the officer responded sympathetically to my whining and grovelling).

Apple

Another picture. It's an apple. Honestly, it really is. I found it in my fridge, hiding among normal apples. I must stress that in no way have I tampered with this picture; it's an accurate, albeit blurry, representation of the real thing. Any resemblance to any other object is purely the result of a biological accident.

Walk like ...

It's hard to believe that it's so long (November 2001) since I moved out of my old flat ... maybe that's largely due to the fact that it was so long before I could sell it ... after the epic leaking roof saga finally came to an end. Despite the minor problems that I had while living there (a freezing cold bedroom, a water feature in my living room, my drug-dealer neighbour, the partial demolition of my flat ... oh, and the man who fell off my balcony), in some perverse way I actually enjoyed living there. Maybe it was partially a pressure release for a divorce, or possibly the development of a whole new social life, or even discovering that I quite liked living on my own (well, if you don't count the bird, that is). I miss the kitchen (it was hard work, but a thing of wonder), the big living room with the huge window (ok, so the ceiling did collapse, but the new one was very nice) and the balcony with the flowers. I even miss walking past the authentic Egyptian garden belonging to one of the maisonettes on the ground floor ... well, almost.

Warning; danger, Will Robinson

When I were a lad ... no, seriously, when I was a kid I loved watching Lost in Space on TV. It was in black & white, of course, but that was just as well since I didn't even know anyone with a colour TV at the time ... I'm not even sure that there was such a thing outside of the US then. Anyway, the series was repeated on Channel 4 a few years ago, when my kids were younger, and I probably watched most episodes. Lucy, who was only around four, quickly developed a liking for the series ... in fact she was mad about it. She would do robot voices (sorry Lucy) and I even had to build her a concrete robot (pretty much life size) in the garden ... unfortunately, it's still there, albeit a little overgrown in moss and lichen.

And I suppose I couldn't mention the robot from Lost in Space without this

The man with two brains

My head hurt a lot. I thought at first that I had neuralgia. After a couple of days I was worried that I had a brain tumour. Only a combination of dihydrocodeine, ibuprofen and paracetamol made the pain bearable. And then the lump appeared. A big bloody lump at that. Although there were jokes about growing an additional head/brain/'mini-me', it turned out only to be an infection caused by a tooth abcess. ONLY!!! Unfortunately, my fears of dentistry and tooth removal (memories of gas at the age of six) were very strong.  The tooth removal itself wasn't anywhere near as bad as I'd anticipated, though, although I'd not exactly describe it as an enjoyable experience. Now that I've had a tooth extracted as an adult, the novelty's worn off anyway, so I don't think I'll do it again. There does, however, appear to be a solution to the problem of my new gap. I should, perhaps, also mention a second dental-related disaster, which happened within a couple of weeks of having the aforementioned tooth removed. A tooth broke. Not just any only tooth, but the exact matching twin of the one I'd had so distressingly extracted. Apparently, the concrete-like repair will last at least six months, but may endure up to a couple of years before more 'work' is needed.

 

The other Gary Moore

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