Thursday, June 30, 2005

You can choose your friends...

Weight: 10st 12lbs
Miles cycled this week: 0

...but apparently not your family. Bugger. I suppose it is the distance, both physical and emotional, between me and my father that makes him harder to deal with. He doesn't appear to be particularly excited about my upcoming wedding, not so much as to be obstructive, just not particularly helpful.

If there are two ways to say something, he will always pick the most sarcastic and most easily misinterpreted.

We will be spending a few days with him on our honeymoon, at his home in Switzerland. I can hope that this will provide some bonding time, rather than more opportunities to annoy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Open plan

Open plan
Originally uploaded by j8g.
The office is open plan. People walk past, stop and say hello, we can talk to each other without moving from our desks. It's light and airy, a pleasant atmosphere to work in.

On the flip side, there are no secrets. I have a two monitor set up, so passers-by tend to be intrigued by this and more likely to stop and look. Being a habitual desk skiver this means that everyone knows when I'm eBaying. I am a multi-tasker, I am almost always working at the same time, on the other screen or in another window, but they don't necessarily spot that.

What feels particularly strange though is the person who walked by and mentioned that he had read my blog. (If you're reading this � hello � you may be my only regular reader!). Anonymity doesn't last long when the whole world can see what you're typing.

Why does it feel strange? Surely the whole point of a writing a blog is for someone to read it, otherwise I'd just keep a diary locked away. I guess I just never expected to meet the audience.

Strange. But pretty cool. As long as he can keep a secret...


Sent from my Treo

Thursday, June 23, 2005


On 24th January 2003, my mother died. I feel that in some way I inherited her strength that day. I grew up and those changes made the next couple of years turn out the way they did.

I think we had underestimated how unwell she was in the time running up. Mum had diabetes, she had it for about 15-20 years and it was taking its toll. Her body was under too much strain and the obvious effects it was having on her eyesight were mirrored by less obvious effects on her internal organs.

During the summer of 2003 Mum had undergone eye surgery. She spent a couple of weeks recuperating in a home near where I lived, at my eldest sister's expense, and the extra care she received there brought her back to us a bit. We realised that we hadn't seen how unwell she was becoming. She obviously had been having trouble looking after herself, she hadn't been eating properly and now she was building her strength up again. Being so close to my home also meant I was able to see her more often and, more importantly, she was able to see my children every day.

She had seen my daughter, B, grow from a baby into a little person and I hoped this surgery and regained strength would mean she could see my son, G, do the same. She didn't.

Mum returned home and for a while seemed better. Her eyes didn't appear to be improving that much, and sadly it seemed the surgery hadn't had the results we had hoped for. But at least she had regained some strength. As the year moved on though, she became weak again.

Test after test, hospital visit after hospital visit, it took forever to diagnose thyroid problems and medicate. Again, this diagnosis brought some hope that she would get better. In fact the treatment had the opposite effect.

In November 2002 we went up to London for our traditional week of pre-Christmas shopping. This could be our last week long trip, we thought, as B would soon be starting school. It was during that week that I started to think it might be the last time for a different reason.

Mum hadn't been well, the medication was making her ill, upsetting her stomach. I realised there were marks on the carpet and floor where she hadn't been able to make it to the bathroom in time. I cleared up as best I could and started to worry. Mum was a strong, proud woman though. She wouldn't have admitted how ill she was. Plus, with her failing eyesight, she probably didn't even realise that she was in such a state.

Christmas came and, as always, we were going to stay with my ex-wife's parents up north. Mum didn't want to come with us, nor did she want to go to my sister's, her usual alternative. When we arrived at my in-laws on Christmas Eve I cried. It dawned on me, this was going to be Mum's last Christmas and I wasn't going to be with her.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Weight: 10st 13lbs
Miles cycled this week: 6

Disappointed that I'm still 10st 13lbs after eating less, cycling more and even throwing up!

Disappointed that I saw H put a cigarette and her lighter in her bag to bring to work this morning. Not disappointed by her but for her. It is a shame after how hard she has tried but I understand why. She hasn't mentioned it to me yet, though.

Disappointed that this blog is not the self-searching, therapeutic journal of insight that I intended it to be. Was it Freud who always asked 'tell me about your mother'? I just read the paper journal I started when first diagnosed and reluctant to use a computer, and will transfer it to this blog in my next post. Perhaps then we can get back on track.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Petite Anglaise

Today I add a new blog to my list of daily reads. Petite Anglaise is an eloquent ex-pat, an Englishwoman living in Paris. I can relate to her on many levels, she has recently ended her relationship with the father of her two-year-old, I would love to have lived in Paris and I too was Elite. Having just broken up with her partner she has taken the brave but admirable decision to stay in Paris and not return home, although it sounds like home is now Paris, I think you catch my drift.

My father left my mother when I was about one and went to live in the south of France. I have mixed feelings about this, but my experience makes me feel that Petite is doing the right thing.

I had no problem with my father leaving, at that age I knew no different, just as my son G, now 3, accepted my departure. Leave it later and your children either grow up in the shadow of your arguments (as my elder sisters did) or they are more affected by the split (as my daughter B, now 6, was).

I didn't handle him being so far away that well. I saw him twice, maybe three times a year. He tried to rule my life from a distance later on, pushing me through private school, which I resented. I guess he thought he was doing his best for me, but being so far away he didn't know how I felt about things. I hated being taken to the airport by my mother, flying off to France with my 'UM' (Unaccompanied Minor) pouch around my neck. I hated the barrier it put up to me to building out-of-school friendships when I spent the summer holidays in another country.

As a teenager I hardly ever saw him. In more recent times we have grown a little closer, him being supportive through my divorce. We are similar in the way that we do not work on our relationships, if one doesn't make the effort neither will the other, so it is my hope that I can overcome this mutual failing and find my father, or at least not lose him again.

Petite has ended an unhappy relationship before it could hurt 'Tadpole' but stayed close so that her daughter has a father as well as a mother.

She also appears to have found new love, and I know how good that feels.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Drugs of choice:
40mg Fluoxetine
10mg Loratadine
Champagne - Nicolas Feuillatte
Villiger cigar

Excessive drugs of foolish choice:
More champagne
Bottle of Chablis
Another cigar

Dinner with friends last night. I drank a lot, but no more than I can usually handle. Perhaps it was the second the cigar (which I only vaguely remember smoking, so what was the point?), or spending too much time sitting in the sun earlier in the day. Whatever it was, no doubt the most significant factor was the large amount of alcohol and for the first time in many, many years, I threw up.

Fortunately I waited until I was at home in the bathroom, no embarrassing vomiting in friends' house. In fact I was fine all evening, on my best behaviour and doing nothing too drunk or stupid. I did drop my trousers at one point to display the pinkness of my bottom, having been nude sunbathing, but that was considered acceptable behaviour.

The real downside is not enough sleep and having to get up at five this morning. Managing to work all day without dozing off could be challenging.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Weight: 10st 12lbs
Miles cycled this week: 46

A suitably apt word to finish last night's entry. Bum indeed. For when I climbed onto my bike this morning my bum was making its presence felt. Mind you, it still came second to the feeling that I had left my legs behind in bed. The first part of my ride to work is up a very steep hill. I nearly fell off, my legs were so tired. Fortunately, once I got to the top it became a lot easier. There was less of a headwind and a more downhill journey than the ride home the evening before.

The company I work for have two offices, one local (22 miles) one not so local (around 70). Naturally, the office I am based in is the furthest away. However, if I'm lucky, I can spend a couple of days a week in the more local office. I used to live a lot closer to it, so I could easily cycle both ways. At the moment I'm not fit enough, nor do I have enough time, to cycle both ways, 44 miles, in one day.

So, instead I put the bike rack on the back of the car and drove into work yesterday, cycled home, cycled in this morning and will drive home today. Most people, including H, think I am mad. I enjoyed it though, as much for the challenge as the fresh air.

I suspect that this morning's lower weight will not continue, despite the cycling. All the exercise has done is given me a bigger appetite, so I'm eating twice as much today.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Weight: 10st 13lbs
Miles cycled this week: 24

...and sweaty. Just cycled home. 22 miles. Wonderful. Car at work, so no choice, must cycle back in the morning.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Weight: 10st 13lbs
Miles cycled this week: 2

I love the concept of Bluetooth. I have had numerous devices and varying levels of success with them. No, I haven't tried toothing (hoax or otherwise) but have been known to occasionally bluejack. The technology would have so much to offer if it was just a bit simpler to use.

However, there is a downside.

Bluetooth earpieces.

Yes, good idea in the car, although I have always preferred to fit a full car-kit, having been blessed with access to cheap / free kits and an over-confidence in vehicle wiring.


when you get out of the car...


Life is not Star Trek, you do not look like Uhura. You do not look like a Secret Service Agent. You do not look cool, you are not an ubergeek road warrior.

You look stupid.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Weight: 11st 2lbs
Miles cycled this week: 0

What is it about weddings and weight? For years there has been the constant pressure for brides to slim down to get into their dresses, now the same goes for grooms and their suits.

I am lucky in being reasonably slim. I'm not a rake but I am a sensible and safe weight. I used to be a bit heavier but between the breakdown of my marriage and the end of 2004 I lost 3 stone (that's 42 pounds and goodness knows how many kilos). Since the end of 2004 and during my recovery from depression I have put some of that back on, obviously more 'content'.

I set myself limits, the lightest I would allow myself to be (at one point I was at risk of blowing away in a strong breeze) and the heaviest I would become before dieting. I have reached the upper limit, so I'm trimming down a bit again.

H is considerably lighter than me, but she sets herself even tougher targets. So the household is now counting points for each meal.

I have given up lattes, stopped adding vanilla and quit my cake habit. I will give up pork pies when the fridge no longer contains any.

Thank goodness for the anti-depressants.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Chemical Imbalance

H has smoked for 12-odd years, not heavily (perhaps 5 or 6 a day) but consistently. And then she stopped. It is amazing how similar her reaction to this is to my reaction to trying to reduce my anti-depressant intake. Within a week she is showing symptoms of depression, with the same illogical interpretations of her feelings that I had of mine.

Nicotine withdrawal makes you feel empty – hungry even if you don't really need to eat. This is not conducive to efforts to fit into a wedding dress, which does nothing for self-image, confidence and enthusiasm. Today has been a day of tears and anger.

So it was my chance to pay back a small amount of the debt I owe to her for her support when I had my breakdown. I talked her through her feelings, told her the reality that conflicted with her perception. And I made sure that she knew that I loved her.

After a session of this and some quiet reflection, she has made a very honest and sensible decision. Trying to quit smoking completely during a time of stress is not the right thing to do. Instead, she is going to cut down significantly. No more smoking during the day, no smoking in-front of anyone other than me. For the next fortnight I will 'allow' her 3 cigarettes per day, then reduce to 2.

We cycled to the shops and bought a packet of cigarettes. She feels more confident – she is going in the right direction and now more controlled.

I'm proud of her. I love her so much.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Drugs of choice:
Black Americano
Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty
10mg Loratadine
40mg Fluoxetine

So many people around me are going through changes...

In the last few months, two colleagues have left the company to set up their own businesses, in completely unrelated fields. Another has just announced to me her intentions to do the same in a few weeks. Yet another is leaving in about two months to go and live in Cyprus, while one of the people who used to report to me is taking voluntary redundancy at the end of this month.

Both my elder sisters recently resigned from their jobs, one to focus on her house and child for a year or so, the other to take a break before continuing her career in a different direction.

And on Sunday, H had her last cigarette. She has smoked for the last 12 years or so (just don't tell her mum!) but she wants to quit before we marry. This is so that she doesn't have to sneak off during the wedding for a quick fix. More importantly, it is also so that after we marry we can start trying for children.

So far it certainly isn't easy. She has gone 'cold turkey' and last night the nicotine withdrawal seemed to peak. Tears, anger, hyperventilation, you name it. Hand holding and hot chocolate appeared to help.

I think she's worried that she might upset me with her mood swings – actually 'swing' is the wrong word, more 'plummet'. And, yes, it can be upsetting, but I bite my tongue because nothing she says or does is intended to hurt or upset me. It's the cigarettes, or absence of them, that does it. So she bottles it up and makes it worse.

Hopefully things will be better tonight, otherwise I will have to make her talk to me, or at least listen to me, so I can explain the above. At the end of the day, I love her and nothing is going to change that. for me, well, I'd like to lose a couple of pounds so I've stopped adding vanilla to everything. I'll stay on the happy pills for now, thank you.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It's a slow day...

...for news. At least here it is, so I resort to the unimaginative and post two links to things that have captured my imagination recently. Hopefully they will soon return it, unharmed.

My job is never this exciting.

My 'Drugs of choice' are never this extreme.

Never mind.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rail Rage

Ok, so I should have known it. No sooner do I complain about half-term drivers and look forward to a day on rail, than I come across half-term commuters.

On my way home from my training course last night, I had an opportunity to catch an earlier train. However, it meant covering a couple of tube interchanges very quickly. Normally not a problem.

The Underground network is full of useful little signs. Some say 'Keep Left' and some 'Keep Right'. Every escalator has a sign telling you to stand on the right so that people can walk past on the left. It appears that these rules do not apply to children, pushchairs and tourists.

I can understand the tourists, to an extent. English is not their first language, so houw can they read the signs? But surely the fact that everyone else is walking on the other side must give them a clue?

I missed one connection thanks to a boy doing nothing but stare at me as I bounded up the escalator towards him and his mother do the same. Fortunately, the recent increase in cycling activity must be helping me a little (20 miles last weekend) and I managed to run further and faster than I have in quite some time. I caught my train.

This blog appears to be turning into a series of rants. Must work on my anger management.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Drug Abuse

Drug Abuse

Quarter Pounder with cheese
Chocolate shake

Training Course = Luncheon Vouchers = MacDonalds

Tenuous link between the last three posts, I know. I just thought you may like to see how I treat my body as a temple. Granted, in this temple the altar has been turned upside-down and a group of satanists are having an orgy in the pews, but it's a temple all the same.

Diet restarts tomorrow.

Sent from my Treo

Drugs of choice

Drugs of choice

Chai Steamer
A almost sickly sweet concoction of steamed milk, vanilla, cinnamon, cardomom, cloves, aniseed and nutmeg. A momentary lapse away from caffeine, but what a rush.

Pain au chocolat
Would have preferred an almond croissant but beggars cannot be choosers.

0800, the train has arrived and I find myself sat on the concourse at Cannon Street. The world is rushing by, from train to tube, life too short.

There are four small tables here, silent souls getting their caffeine / sugar / nicoteine fix before another day at the office. The road warrior has finished his emails and this morning's presentation and sparks up before walking off. He is replaced by a married couple, almost certainly not married to each other.

I have been there and done that. I've been the laptop toting road warrior / geek, the destination obsessed commuter and the moment snatching adulterer.

Today I just watch, fascinated by life, wishing my Treo had a spell-checker.

Sent from my Treo

Drugs of habit

Drugs of habit

40mg Fluoxetine
Got to keep taking those happy pills.

10mg Loratadine
Hayfever season approaches and the fumes in London today will no doubt set me off.

1000mg Vitamin C & 10mg Zinc
'All Day Defence' or something like that, just to keep me healthy.

Friendly bacteria - are you not a victim of advertising yet?

Kellogs Special K Bar
Should keep me going for a while.

And of course, a nice cup of tea.

No, I don't rattle when I walk, although it does come close. And all those tablets must work, I've only had 3 months off sick since the start of December.

All that at 0510, and now I'm sat at the station waiting for the Cannon Street train. So far running 5 minutes late.

That's my way of starting the day.

Sent from my Treo