A Ramble About Waltham Forest

It appears that Freewheeler, the writer of the wonderful blog Crap Walking and Cycling in Waltham Forest wrote a post about fascism and saw fit to link to one of my posts! However, at the same time I was transferring all my cycling stuff to a new cycle specific blog.

Please click here to see the article to which Freewheeler refers.

Humblest apologies but as this blog was increasingly about cycling (because there is much to write about),  the Rambling Association would only confuse further.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club

Well, dear readers, in view of recent comments from people thinking that I have some allegiance with the Ramblers Association, and the fact that I enjoy writing about cycling thus the title is getting increasingly misleading,  I’ve decided to move all cycling content to a new exciting cycling specific blog.

Please pop along to the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club

Please stick around if you want to read the fantastic adventures of me trying to get a fledgling comedy ‘career’ up and running after my Paternity Leave, and other hints and tips on how not to be a father.

Love to all & Chapeau!

A Ramble through the Wonders of the Universe

It is not often I use the word genius but it certainly applies in the case of the creator of this clip, whoever he or she may be.

Based on the BBC documentary ‘Wonders of the Universe’, it brilliantly imagines a parallel Universe where the likes of Professor Steven Hawking and Sir David Attenborough are replaced by Bez from Happy Mondays on MDMA and Lucozade. Marvellous.

WARNING: THIS CLIP CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE.

A Ramble About Drugs and Youth and Capitalism

So ‘Maths whizz-kid’ 17 year old Arjun Rajyagor has been crowned Junior Apprentice by Lord Sugar who told all the finalists that they were an ‘inspiration’.

Oh. Fucking. Hell.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against young Arjun. He is an innocent (and by the looks of it, pleasant) young man. It’s just that to me, ‘Junior Apprentice’ personifies everything I find evil about the human race and that the flames of Eternal Hell & Damnation would come as a merciful blessing if this is what we wish upon our young people. I would give my life being forced to play Russian Roulette with a Missile Launcher than watch my son participate in this form of ‘Capitalism Lite’.

I would dearly love, nay, expect my son when he reaches 17 to be attempting to nail every woman within a 5 mile radius whilst through a combination of alcohol and mind-altering drugs attaining Nirvana or just the realisation that the economy is just a sham that he can never control and that the more things he buys, the lonelier he will be.

Why do we insist on denying our children their childhoods and teenagers their freedom? I believe as a society we wade into things that they enjoy doing and either delude ourselves that we can still do it or we smother them in a paranoid Middle Class miasma trying to make everything they do ‘safe’ or as I would imagine ‘fucking boring’ from the Gap Year to the School Prom. Even Glastonbury has become Glastonbury™. I’m sure it’s great if you work in marketing but insufferable, tedious and utterly, utterly sterile if you are unfortunate enough to be young in the early 21st Century.

Another example as I see it is this country’s attitude toward drugs. For the benefit of younger readers it always goes like this:

  1. The Police report to the Home Office a new recreational drug that is being used amongst young people.
  2. There will be a tragic case reported of a young person dying as a result of new recreational drug. Meanwhile a careless Middle Class teenager accidentally admits to using it to their parents and suddenly finds themselves on BBC News as a most unwilling whistle blower to something that has killed less people in the UK than doing DIY.
  3. The Government ‘Drugs Czar’ will then talk about there being an urgent need for the reclassification of drugs. He/she will finally call for a reasoned, sensible debate on cannabis, correctly identifying that it’s less harmful to society than alcohol.
  4. The Baby Boomer generation, who also regrettably hold senior Government posts, will suddenly develop amnesia about their childhoods. They will deny that they or anyone else ever took drugs in the 1960’s and that it’s a problem of modern youth.
  5. The Drugs Czar will resign in disgust. Other health and law enforcement professionals will rally to his/her support but the Government will by now be trying to divert the media attention away, usually with a scare story about national security.

Pause. Then repeat 1-5 ad nauseum.

On reflection, I don’t blame Arjun at all and wish him the best of luck. The youth that’s been denied him would probably have been a bit dull and predictable anyway.

Lie Back and Think of England

BBC News has just reported David Cameron stating in Prime Minister’s Question Time that the flag of England is going to be flying above Downing Street for the duration of the World Cup. My, he truly is a man for The People. I hope he puts them on all Parliamentary cars and his bicycle too.

One of the many pleasures of cycle communting is noticing phenomena like the rise of England flags that are appearing on vans and cars owned by people that look as though they require constant reminding of what country they’re in. It makes them look like they’re a top Diplomat or Lord Mayor from a distant land called  ‘JJBSports’ or ‘KerryKatona’.

The thing is that I’m proud to be British and will be following the fortunes of our bunch of pampered millionaires in South Africa. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how our hooligan element will fare against the utterly tooled up Nigerian gangsters over there – I wish them all well.

My point for today is that whenever the flag of St George is brought out, there usually follows a jingoistic, xenophobic ‘debate’ about what it means to be English. Usually the finger is pointed at ‘foreign immigrants’ (is there any other kind?), occused of robbing us of our national identity.

The point is [in my humble opinion] that the people that usually get into these debates drive their automobiles to out of town shopping malls and cinema complexes, to eat American chain fast food in ‘Drive Thru’s’ (sic) and watch endless American movies to then go home to watch endless American television programmes and repeats of American films and television programmes. They only get into politics when it’s in the style of an American televised debate and their children attend schools that have to have ‘Proms’ with stretch limosines, ‘tuxedos’ and all the associated guff being hired.

Then they scratch their heads as to who robbed us of our national identity. It’s a real puzzler isn’t it? In the meantime let’s enjoy England vs USA on Saturday with a traditional English Budweiser or two.

A Ramble about Drinking

Last week the media trumpeted the fact that this country has a drink problem. NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence), or as I like to call them WANK (Worrying Abuse of Nursing Knowledge) have published a report stating that ‘alcohol-related harm is a major health problem’. Whilst this is true, it then takes a violently wrong turn by stating how government policies on alcohol pricing, its availability and how it’s marketed could be changed ‘to combat such harm’.

The phrase ‘locking the stable door after the horse has bolted’ must have been created for moments like this. Putting the price up on drinks is the all too easy solution and persecutes those that are capable of enjoying a tipple without the need to punch an inanimate object or a loved one. No-one is asking why society seems to be drinking in the manner that it is. This is because the answers are too unpalatable to a government and society that only deals in the quick fix and they present way too much effort to resolve. I however would like to offer a few observations in my humblest of opinions;

This Country is Obsessed with Status

Putting the price up of drink would make it more stylish and desirable in the eyes of the British Buying Public. When Stella Artois was first launched in this country, it used the advertising tagline ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ and its destiny was assured. This is a country that, despite petrol being £1.20 a litre still buys a 4 x 4 to tackle the tundra of Tesco’s car park.

This Country is Worried

We’re supposedly coming out of a major recession but today our new Prime Minister is going to announce that things are ‘even worse than feared’. According to BBC News, the PM is going to use rhetoric such as ‘difficult decisions’, ‘’painful’ and that dealing with the deficit will be ‘undeniably tough’ and affect ‘our whole way of life’. Is it any surprise that continuing to scare the shit out of the population might make them want a drink or two?

This Country Has Forgotten How to Drink Properly

 When I was younger, I went to the village pub. There was (and still is) a lovely mix of all ages and there was never trouble. Sometimes we would go to a nearby town with a larger selection of pubs where there was a nice mix of people and rarely any trouble. Now the pubs have been replaced by large, soulless barns with loud music (to prevent you talking and to make you drink more), nowhere to place a drink (making you drink quicker) and ludicrous offers (making you drink more thinking it’s a cheap night). These chain bars are in most town centres usually in close proximity of each other and they all chuck out at the same time making it the Local Constabulary’s problem. You will not find older people in these places although this is partly because I would rather slam my private parts in a car door than drink in these dreary, forlorn, desperate hell-holes. It’s strange to think and regrettable too that I actually had a better choice of venue when I was younger where I could talk with my friends and enjoy a better and more varied range of drinks instead of being alienated by a well honed and relentless marketing machine that packs ‘em in, gets ‘em pissed and pisses ‘em off into the street. I’m not a snob. I just think young people deserve better than this spiteful bile preying on their need to conform.

What we need is a cultural shift as opposed to tinkering with pricing but that’s way too difficult for the government to remedy. Excuse me while I have a drink while they work it out. It may take a while.

Fatherhood

Well, it happened a little earlier than expected. Wife’s waters broke on Tuesday night and on Wednesday 5th May at 5.06pm a little boy was born weighing 6lbs 2ozs. He arrived 4 days before his due date.

I’ve made the following observations:

Sleep

For the love of Christ, sleep when the baby does. I cannot stress this enough. I made the fatal mistake of staying awake during the day during Paternity Leave when I should have been taking advantage of the fact that The Boy was snoozing away for a good 4 hours at a time. The fact that you are ready for bed at your normal allotted time means nothing now. When I returned to work I also made the mistake of feeling guilty that Wife was doing the overnight feeding/nappy changes etc. Swallow that guilt if you are in the same boat. Your partner can nap during the day. If you are not functioning properly for work you aren’t helping anyone, least of all yourself.

Food

If you want to breastfeed, then wonderful. We live in a time where ‘breast is best’ is pedalled with military zeal by health professionals. If however you tried it and either baby could never latch properly or you were put on antibiotics meaning that breastfeeding was a definite no-no then the health profession should learn to take this on the chin. They should not keep constantly cajoling a frazzled new mother, who is already feeling guilty as hell and beating herself up needlessly about not being able to breastfeed into trying to breastfeed. I was born in 1972 when apparently you were regarded as a quaint hippy if you didn’t formula feed. This suited my mother, who was very ill at the time and on powerful drugs that would have had an adverse effect on my health if she hadn’t bottle fed. If you can’t breastfeed, it doesn’t matter as long as baby is getting fed.

Another thing I found surprising is how easy it is for us parents to forget to feed ourselves as we become slaves to The Boy’s demands. It is crucial to take time out to eat, even if you take turns because the Kraken has awoken.

Carbon Footprint

Before childbirth, I thought how clever we were that we barely used the car, that the car in question is serviced regularly with a small engine and low emissions. That wife and I recycled way more than went to landfill and that our energy consumption and water usage was minimal.

Then the Boy arrived.

Now, our household probably has the same carbon footprint as a medium sized provincial airport. We have also elected to go with disposable nappies. Wife and I believe we live far enough away from the middle class miasma that is Brighton & Hove to avoid being burnt at the stake for taking this decision. I just consider the gloopy disaster that BP is creating in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment. It gives me solace at 3.30 in the morning whilst changing yet another humdinger that I could never rival BP’s level of environmental damage.

We are also considering getting a 5 door car which is something I thought I’d never do. I still cycle to work but I’ve started thinking of the Ford Focus in my increasingly rare idle moments. It makes a mature change from thinking of Keeley Hawes. I could combine those idle thoughts to create Keeley Hawes in the back of a Ford Focus. The boot should certainly be big enough and the rear suspension equally robust.

In short, although I love my son and fatherhood, I’m becoming everything I didn’t want to be. I’m becoming my father.