Friday, 31 October 2008

The Prognosis

I went to see my consultant today so that he could assess my progress 8 weeks after my operation. He checked me out and seemed pleased with how I'm doing. He also showed me the MRI scan I had before the operation - I was on the verge of doing permanent damage to my nerves which could have affected me in ways I shudder to think about. Essentially, if had left it any longer, I would now be using a catheter to relieve myself, would be crapping into a bag and would have a lifetime of celibacy to look forward to because nothing would be working down there. Happily, all seems fine.

I have to go back in a few weeks time for another MRI and then to see them again in six months. I also have to continue with the physiotherapy of course. But all in all things could have been much worse. As it is I have a foot that isn't working properly and a buttock which seems not to be doing anything at all. Apparently it can take anything up to 12 months for such problems to heal and so this is a long term, possibly permanent problem I may have to just live with.

But this now frees me up to get on with my life and go to see Leah. I just have to sort out the timing. I am wise enough now not to tell Leah anything until it is booked, paid for and irreversible. I'm going to try to organise things so that I can maintain my treatment as far as possible whilst getting on with my life. If I get the timing right then I can go and see her for nearly a couple of weeks and that should be enough for us to sort our problems out and to come to some sort of resolution as to where we go from here.

I know she wants to see me. I know I desperately want to see her. There really isn't a problem. I have this big romantic ideal of what I want to happen and I think I can and will make it happen. We just need to spend time together, we need to make love over and over again and then I want to bring her home with me. Everything is going to be fine.

Witches or Fireworks?

Halloween, I've never quite understood why this has become such a big deal. It's another one of those bastardised old traditions which has become something entirely different over the years. It's origins are Celtic and Pagan and yet, ironically, it has become most popular in America, one of the more determinedly religious societies in the world today.

It's only very recently that it has become popular over here. When I was a kid we never used to go out trick or treating. I suspect that this is something which became popular after ET and its scenes of Halloween.

The sad thing is that this new tradition is slowly supplanting the 400 year old British tradition of Bonfire Night on 5th November. We still have fireworks of course, no kids can resist fireworks, but some of the other traditions like bonfires and the Guy to stick on the bonfire are dying out. Penny for the Guy used to be something we heard all the time years ago and now it has been replaced by 'Trick or Treat'.

This is our history, our glorious, inglorious history. It's full of intrigue, murder, attempted murder, assassination, attempted assassination and revolution of the bloody and not so bloody variety. Ultimately it is the reason that we are the way we are. The Gunpowder Plot, the discovery and defeat of which we have celebrated on November 5th ever since, was one of those many incremental steps from the Norman invasion to Magna Carta, to Henry VIII and his split with Rome to the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution and beyond, all of which have defined us and made us into the Britain we know today.

All around the country people will be lighting bonfires this weekend and over the next few days, they will be letting off literally millions of fireworks too. I wonder how many will truly appreciate why they do so. In some ways I shouldn't applaud this day as I am a republican who loathes the monarchy and Bonfire Night celebrates the defeat of a plot to assassinate the King and Parliament assembled. But what it also celebrates is the increasing importance, power and primacy of that Parliament, something which would be confirmed in bloody wars later that same century. It was the slow process of turning us from a dictatorship to a democracy, it was one of the steps to establishing the rule of law. It wasn't the most important step but it contributed and it entered our national consciousness. If we forget about such things it will be a tragedy.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Judging by Appearances

I've just read a story in the paper about some research, or should that be 'research' as somehow I doubt that it was done very rigorously. It says that, whilst gentlement prefer blondes, they prefer marrying brunettes. Blondes are supposedly more fun but brunettes are more stable and better at settling down.

Now clearly this is a ridiculous generalisation. It reminds me of a joke in Scrubs once. Turk made an insinuation that his boss was favouring another surgeon over him because she, like their boss, was Asian. He then realises the crassness of his remark and apologises to his boss 'and to the entire Asian community'. His boss responds: 'thanks, I'll let them all know when we have our
next big meeting.'

It's a good joke but it has a serious point behind it. You cannot assume that hair colour is any greater determinant of a person's character than is their race, social background, education, accent or appearance. Yet we all do it. We make judgements about people on appearance almost subconsciously. It's human nature.

I have very cosmopolitan tastes in women. Over the years I have dated and had quite serious relationships with a range of women of varying hair colours, varying racial and social backgrounds and never once have I found that they can be categorised so simply and easily. I suspect that most men would say the same. And yet many men will be attracted to a certain kind of woman. Initially of course it will all be about looks. They may go for blondes or brunettes, big boobs, long legs. Sometimes they may not even consciously think about it, they just know that one girl is attractive to them and another isn't.

The other day at the hospital I was working with a female blonde physiotherapist. It would have been some men's idea of heaven. She was showing me the exercises which involved us being in quite close proximity and hands on for quite a long time. And yet I could so with complete equanimity because I didn't find her attractive; and this is not just because I am a one woman man and in love with Leah. She just didn't press my buttons. I have had blonde girlfriends before and so it was nothing to do with hair colour. It was something more subtle, more difficult to define.

Maybe it about chemistry. I have had some very beautiful girlfriends in my time, not least Ewa from Poland who was gorgeous and blonde, although not a real blonde. And yet it just didn't work between us. The chemistry wasn't there.

With Leah, quite apart from the fact that she is also gorgeous, it also instantly worked. We had a connection immediately. And that, despite our difficulties, most of which have been caused by me even if not all have been my fault, is why, despite the arguments and the long periods of silence, we always end up communicating again, we can never quite stay apart, the anger always dissipates and is replaced by affection once more.

Human relationships have nothing whatever to do with superficial things like hair colour or appearance. I was initially attracted to Leah because of the way she looks but she looks nothing like any other girlfriend I've ever had. There was just something about her, something indefinable. And she quickly became so much more than another beautiful woman to me, she was so much more than Ewa was. And she remains that. She is the love of my life. I have had other long distance relationships, even with another woman in New York, but with Leah the distance is immaterial whilst at the same time being our central problem.

That's why I'm determined to go there and go there for as long as possible to get this to work. I know it will work between us because of that chemistry. It's got nothing to do with the colour of her hair or skin, her background, her age or anything like that. It will work because she is my darling, beautiful Leah and because I love her.

Gluteal Problems

Good news and bad news today with regard to my ongoing recovery process. The good news was: (a) I was able today to go for a very long walk, that's about 13 miles or so, the sort of distance I used to do quite regularly until a few months ago. I wouldn't say I felt no ill effects, it was a struggle to say the least, but I did it. My legs are still weak and this is one of the best ways to get them back up to strength.

Then (b) I was told today at the physiotherapy class that, after this week, I only need to go once a week.

Of course (b) is both good and bad news. I had hoped to be finishing the physio classes completely this week. It would seem not however. I did some new exercises today and, though I could do most of them reasonably well and easily, there are certain things I can barely do at all. This all has to do with the persistent numbness in my buttock which is clearly not just numbness. The buttock, or the gluteal muscles as they are collectively known, control the thigh and with it the whole leg. As I found out today, my left one is simply not functioning properly. It isn't just that it's numb, it's that it isn't doing what it is supposed to do, I can't move it properly in the same way that I can't move parts of my foot. These two problems combined are why I'm walking strangely at present and having difficulty with stairs. The physio watched me walk and said I'm swaying my hips to compensate. I look, he said, rather like a model on a catwalk!

But I've been given yet more exercises to do and I can just do these at home and in my own time. I also intend to keep doing the walking as much as possible.

They also said that it won't matter too much if I miss a class once in a while. The main reason for the classes is to assess me and advise me, as today, if I need to do other exercises to aid my recovery. So long as I then do these regularly on my own then I should be fine.

So I shall be able to go to New York and see Leah and spend time with her. I'll be able to go for a week or two as planned. I just need to sort out the timing. Anyway, if I go to a decent hotel they might have a gym and I can use that.

I've heard nothing from Leah for a while, but then I haven't tried to communicate with her. I know she's mad at me. I know she will just shout and get angry if I try and explain myself and so I haven't even tried. The only communication that will work with Leah is the face to face sort.

I'm off to see the surgeon on Friday and then, dependent upon what he says, I should be free. I can't see there being any problems there. My recovery is going quite well and the problems I'm having are not unexpected. In fact I think I've recovered better than they thought I would. So any improvement from here on will be a bonus.

After my appointment on Friday I'm supposed to go to another of these classes next week but I could always cancel that one. It's all about timing though. I need to go to a class and then immediately fly to New York. That way, if I then cancel the following class, I will be able to spend nearly two weeks with Leah and maybe bring her home with me. Maybe if I ask really nicely she'll massage my Gluteus Maximus for me. That would really aid my recovery.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Plus Ca Change?

Here's an interesting question, are Barack Obama and the Democrats like Tony Blair and New Labour in 1997? It is looking extremely likely that Obama is about to win next week and possibly win by a landslide, not that this matters in a presidential election of course. If you're in you're in as the world saw when George Bush narrowly, some say fraudulently, was elected in 2000. But if, as is predicted, the Democrats also control Congress this time next week then the similarities to Britain in those heady days will be eerily similar.

Even before we know the outcome there is the same air of optimism, the same feeling that something fresh and exciting is happening. Back in the early hours of that spring day Tony Blair spoke of a new dawn and, as I watched on TV in my student hall of residence, Lisa asleep beside me, even I found my cynicism momentarily blunted.

Of course it is in the nature of politics that disappointment will inevitably result. You can't please all of the people all of the time and the longer a party stays in power the more inevitable will be that disappointment. But New Labour had an extraordinarily long honeymoon period. People genuinely wanted them to succeed and wished them well. Even when, quite early on, they were caught out having altered a policy to ban the advertising of smoking after a meeting (and a donation) from Bernie Ecclestone which resulted in the exemption of Formula One, their denials were believed. They were given the benefit of the doubt. Tony Blair, consummate actor that he was, told us that he was 'a pretty straight sort of guy' before lying through his teeth. They had indeed done exactly what they were accused of and then covered it up. It was a sign of things to come.

But it took the country a long time to realise that all was not as it seemed, or maybe the way we wanted it to be. Labour's spin and ruthless manipulation of the media took a long time to weary us. Their ability to twist the truth, to tell half truths, to tailor official statistics to make them look good has become legendary. But back then we were innocent, we were naive, we wanted to believe them.

Now of course we can see it all. We can see that they were constantly announcing new spending which wasn't new at all but had been announced before. We can see that their claims of prudence were abandoned three years in. Those of us who said it was ludicrous for Brown to claim to have abolished boom and bust have been vindicated. We didn't believe that a Prime Minister would spin the facts and create a 'dodgy dossier' in order to take us to war but we were wrong.

And they're still doing the same things even now when Blair is long gone. The leopard cannot change its spots. Only last week they were caught out having massaged crime figures whilst claiming to have done nothing of the sort. Their former claims of financial prudence have been abandoned and they want to splurge even more of our money on wrong headed attempts to prevent or ameliorate a recession that their policies are exacerbating. They claim that our record levels of borrowing are nothing of the sort by conveniently forgetting to include vast sums which they have spirited away hoping that nobody notices. Five years on from that dodgy dossier, they continue to use the supposed threat of terrorism ( the level of which we cannot gauge because it is all kept conveniently top secret) as an excuse for everything, from ID cards, CCTV cameras, vast databases storing our phone calls, e-mails and texts and 42 days detention without charge (thankfully defeated). When the financial crisis was raging and savers were losing money in Icelandic banks, the government used terrorism legislation to seize Icelandic assets.

Is the same about to happen with Barack Obama in America? I was never wholly taken in by Tony Blair, although I confess to having been impressed by him even if it was often grudging. But I, like so many others, have been swept along by Obama. I want him to be the real deal. I want him to succeed. The irony is that I disagree with many of his policies. If I were allowed to vote I would be voting for the man rather than all that he stands for.

Maybe this is all a reaction to George Bush and the last disastrous 8 years. This administration, this Republican administration, has presided over a vast and growing budget deficit resulting in a national debt so vast that that famous sign in New York has had to have extra digits added. They started a wrong headed war which the next administration will have to extract themselves from whilst pretending that it is mission accomplished. Maybe just maybe they will have the courage to admit that, though things are not as bad as they were, Iraq is being left in a parlous and dangerously unstable state and that intervention has proven to be disastrous for the region and for America's reputation in the world. America is demonstrably poorer both financially and morally.

We live in dangerous and worrying times, although whether it is quite so dangerous as we are told is moot. The world is nevertheless crying out for hope and change and Obama has enthusiastically promised just that. Ultimately he will never deliver to everyone's satisfaction. Let's hope however that his failure to do so will not be as stark as that of Labour since 1997.

Persistence is Key

Just over a week ago I was feeling quite depressed about the way my progress seemed to have stalled with regard to my foot and buttock. Yet this week, now that my physiotherapy programme has been stepped up I can definitely feel a change. My foot is moving better and the numbness is improving. My legs are feeling stronger and I'm walking better. Persistence definitely pays off.

I'm feeling quite positive about it all now. This week I have more classes to go to and then back to the hospital where the operation was done to see the consultant who did it. Given the way I feel right now, I think I might be on the home straight. It may take a few months until I make a complete recovery but that seems quite possible now. And the intensity of the physiotherapy should then be diminished. I'll have my life back again.

Of course the price I've had to pay for all of this has been to further disappoint and anger Leah. It wasn't my intention. But getting over there this weekend was just impractical when I have to be back here so soon.

But I shall now be able to go over there and see her and spend as long as I like with her. I remain convinced that, despite what she said last week, she will be happy to see me and will want to spend time with me just as much as I want to spend time with her.

And this will be the next stage of my rehabilitation programme. Through persistence I am slowly getting my body to work properly again. Through persistence and a certain amount of genuflection I shall hope to get Leah talking to me again, being my friend again, then hopefully my lover and then I'll ask her to come home with me and be my wife. And if I have to wait around while she makes the necessary arrangements, well I shall be able to do that now. Better than that I shall now be able to walk around properly and help her, I shall be able to make love to her with all of the passionate intensity I have imagined. I shall be fully fit and finally back in control.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Finding Offence.

In our ridiculously PC world in which we must constantly refrain from 'offending' anyone, we must, apparently, go to increasingly ridiculous lengths to maintain this delicate balance. Last week we had the case of the computer game being held back from release because someone had included some music with verses from the Koran being read in the background. How is that offensive? Are these words not supposed to be heard widely? If you believe that these are the words of god (which they clearly are not by the way but that's a whole different argument) then why would you not want those words disseminated in new ways to reach different people? If god is omniscient he should have seen all of this coming anyway. The whole argument is ludicrous. If people are stupid enough to be offended by such things then that is their problem.

Today though I read about some of the efforts being made to save Muslims from offence at the 2012 Olympics. So far people have gone to great lengths to ensure that no toilets are built which face Mecca. That is so spectacularly ludicrous it could come from a Monty Python movie. Facing Mecca? Which way should they face then? To the left? To the right? Surely that would still be visible by an all seeing god? Maybe with their back to Mecca? Oh but that would mean their backside facing Mecca. Are they serious? Mecca is just a place, a site which they have decided is holy. Why must it receive such reverence? Go and visit it, fine. Pay homage if you must. But avoid facing that way under certain every day situations? Does it matter? Do Muslims when caught short consult a compass before having a crap? What happens if they do face Mecca? Is it eternal damnation or does their god, who is great apparently, have better things to do with his time? If he is so offended by what is just a basic biological function why did he design us this way?

Religion! How do people convince themselves that these absurdities are so important and not utterly risible?

In the last few years we have had the invention of Islamic banking and mortgages. I make no apologies for singling out Islam by the way because it is by far the most ludicrously sensitive. All religion is stupid but Islam is stupid and hypersensitive to things which really don't matter. Take this bizarre notion of Islamic banking which is deemed necessary because Islam bans money lending. So presumably all Muslims now use these accounts even though they are more expensive? Do they hell. And the whole notion is ridiculous anyway. It is still money lending but it uses arcane procedures to make it more acceptable. At the end of the day they still borrow a sum of money from a bank to buy a house or a car or whatever. Yet god is apparently satisfied. So he is great and omniscient apparently but can have the wool pulled over his eyes by a chartered accountant.

The latest thing now is that the Metropolitan Police, who will be in charge of security for the Olympics, are consulting Muslim advisers about various other possible ways that their brethren may end up being offended. During London 2012, it will be the 40th anniversary of the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 72. These nasty murders will be commemorated. But, we're told, it must be managed properly in case Muslims 'perceive' that this is 'hijacking' the games. Let them perceive all they like. I take no sides in the Arab Israeli conflict. There is right and wrong on both sides. They are equally intransigent, equally partial, equally stupid and with equal claims to being the injured parties. But eleven blameless athletes lost their lives. That should be commemorated however it is 'perceived'.

Finally we are told that, because the games will coincide with Ramadan, police will need to bear in mind that Muslims will be 'tired, hungry and less even tempered'.' Thus, because people voluntarily starve themselves for no good reason other than their strange and frankly ludicrous beliefs, the rest of us, including our police must make allowances if they're a bit moody! If it were me I'd just tell them to have something to eat and get a life. Honestly, if such trivialities are so important to your god in a world where people are starving and being murdered, often in the name of religion then is your god worthy of being worshipped?

And they wonder why we atheists are becoming more vocal and fractious.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The Logistics of Love

I've abandoned trying to go to New York this weekend. Even if it was logistically viable to fly over there in time to spend a decent amount of time with Leah before I have to come back again, it's also stupidly expensive. And there's no point in my going there for just a couple of days when I can go there for over a week in just a few days time. This time next week I shall be there and I shall have all of the time in the world. It has to be the sensible option.

Now I know that this will make Leah angry. And I know she said she would never speak to me again if I didn't go this week. But surely if I'm there next weekend she will forgive me. I think so. Indeed I'm confident that this is the case. I shall be there and I shall have lots of time to spend with her. If she wants to see me this week then she will want the same thing a week later. The demand to go this week was arbitrary really. Ultimately, as long as I go there, it makes no difference.

Leah is the boss of me but that's not to say that I'm not capable of independent thought. I would have been there this week if at all possible. I do try to do as I'm told and will always do so when possible. I don't enjoy disappointing her. I don't enjoy being shouted at. I would much rather she was happy and talking to me normally.

I was reminded of Leah tonight whilst watching the latest episode of the excellent John Adams. Here was a powerful man who became the President. Yet, even in the days before universal suffrage and proper rights for women, his wife was the boss in that household. Adams is portrayed as prissy and puritanical, headstrong and judgmental. His wife Abigail keeps him in check, she tells him not to be so silly. He sulks for a while and then does as he's told. It's often the way. Women have subtle and not so subtle ways of getting their own way which they deploy with frightening and ruthless efficiency. Most men tend to do as they're told, if only for a quiet life.

But this is yet another aspect of Leah I love. She doesn't stand for any nonsense. She's feisty and belligerent. It's one of her many perfections. It's why this time next week I shall be flying 3000 miles to see her and spend time with her.

Friday, 24 October 2008


My next post may well be from New York, if I take my computer with me. I can only go for a couple of days but I'm seriously looking into going. I know this seems ludicrous and absurd. But I want to see Leah. I yearn for her and lust for her.

Flights this weekend are fantastically expensive for some reason. Virgin has sold out completely and BA and AA are at around £800 for tomorrow and then back down something around £300 on Tuesday. Why? What is happening?

But the other night I did find some cheaper alternatives. If I find something similar again I shall go and make the best of what little time I have. I'll have enough time to see Leah, kiss Leah and then I'll probably have to come home again. If I'm lucky we'll make love, although we won't have time for the marathon lovemaking session I have imagined. Believe me after all of this waiting I could shut myself in a room with Leah for a week and only emerge occasionally for food and water.

I just want to go now. Hopefully I shall be able to. If not then Leah will no doubt be mad at me and I don't think I can handle that anymore, although I can definitely go next weekend and maybe if I get down on one knee, shower her with gifts and plead for mercy she will be her usual angelic self, scowl a little (she even has a beautiful scowl) and then just be glad that I'm finally there. And anyway I did say I would definitely be there before the end of October. If I manage to be there by Friday I shall just about have managed it.

So watch this space. The good thing about this new blog is it is easier to contribute to from wherever I am and on whatever computer I use. So, whether I am in a hotel, waiting at an airport or whatever I'll keep you updated. I am sure you are on the edge of your seats.


It seems to be the received wisdom now that Barack Obama is going to win the election. Barring anything momentous or unexpected or maybe a little of both, that seems to be the way things are going. It may be that he is going to win by a landslide. With the Democrats set to control Congress too things could get very interesting. Whatever happens I intend to be there to see it. But more of that later.

So why are we about to see the first black President of the United States? Well first and foremost he is very very good. He's Bill Clinton without the sleaze. He's Ronald Reagan without the slight air of confusion. He has articulated a need for change in a country that has rallied to that call because they can see it is needed. America is not looking too healthy right now.

Of course this was always going to be the Democrats election to lose. Readers of my former blog will recall that I predicted at the start of the year that Hillary Clinton would win. I didn't know much about Obama back then and never imagined he could beat Clinton. But if anything Obama has a greater air of inevitability about him than she ever did. He is less divisive than she could ever be.

This was always going to be a difficult election for Republicans because of the last 8 years. Bush is going to leave a legacy of another unwinnable war from which America will extract itself with as much dignity as it can muster. He will leave a massive deficit. He will leave America's reputation in tatters all around the world. And he is going to leave it in the midst of a recession which could turn out to be the nastiest in two generations. Under the circumstances John McCain was doing well to be neck and neck for so long.

But if anyone was ever going to defy the odds it should have been McCain. He was the maverick, the man who was his own man on the hill. He was the man who seemed normal and decent. He was actually quite normal compared to the Mitt Romney type identikit Republican I feared we could end up with.

And yet they have contrived to turn him into this strange caricature of a Republican candidate to shore up their legendary base, a sort of Mitt Romney lite. That was never going to work. The divide and rule politics of George Bush just couldn't be transferred to someone like McCain and they were fools to try. He needed to fight Obama on the middle ground. And then of course there was the appointment of Sarah Palin as his running mate, by far the most cynical action by any politician since Tony Blair went off to earn his millions. After that he deserves to lose quite frankly. Of course she enthused a certain section of the American population but she appalled so many other sections it turned out to be a spectacular own goal. The only person who has gained is Tina Fey, although of course there is talk that Palin is now going to run on her own in 2012.

Of course we still have a few days to go and all of the above could be a hostage to fortune. But I declared that Obama should win some time ago and now I think he will. A few months ago I wouldn't have been unhappy with a McCain presidency until Sarah Palin came along. Maybe that is how the American people feel too. On 5th November as he looks back I wonder how John McCain will reflect on that decision.

No Pain, No Gain

They say there's no gain without pain and this certainly seems to be the case with me at the moment. This exercise programme seems to be working. The numbness feels a little better today. I'm sure that my foot is moving a little better too. Given the way I ached yesterday after all of the exercises, I fully expected to be stiff and in pain this morning when I got out of bed. But I was fine. This is a sign of real progress.

And of course all of this progress bodes well for other reasons. If I can show that I'm making progress then the frequency of my physiotherapy sessions should be decreased and then I'm free to go and see Leah. I'm off for another class on Friday and then I'm going to negotiate some time off.

Leah told me that I have to go this week. Now she does, by her own admission, sometimes say things in the heat of the moment that she doesn't necessarily mean, but she would like me to go this week I'm sure. I want to go too. I'm getting quite excited at the prospect. Leah is the reason I'm pushing myself so hard and doing all of these exercises.

I love her. I love her so much. I'm sure she doesn't realise quite how much I love her. No doubt my past behaviour has sparked some justifiable doubts. But since I met Leah she has been the only girl for me. I'm not saying I never look at others, of course I do, but, with the exception of one kiss last year, I haven't touched another girl since I've known Leah. I am officially a one woman man.

What is it about her? There are so many things. She's utterly gorgeous for a start; beautiful and sexy. But it's more than that. Initially of course I was attracted by her looks but it quickly became more than that. We had a connection almost immediately. Indeed Leah became rather scared by how instant it all was. It was like those instant things in the movies. And since then I can feel myself loving her more and more all the time. Even when she's mad at me I still love her. She can be shouting at me, raining expletives down on me often with some justification and even that makes me love her. The other week we spoke on the phone and she had adopted an air of nonchalance. She was being breezy. And I loved her for that too. When I was in hospital and miserable, even though she had not been speaking to me, she spoke to me then, expressed concern and cheered me up. And again I loved her a little bit more.

And that's why I want to get there now. The logical part of me thinks it would be better to wait a week, get all of these exercise classes out of the way, go to see the surgeon and then go to see Leah and spend much longer there than will be the case if I go there this weekend. But what does any of this have to do with logic?

I want to go there and be with her, I want to hold her, I want to hold that lovely face in my hands, I want to kiss her, I want to spend time with her, I want to do things that any red blooded male wants to do with a beautiful woman, the difference being that I only want to do those things with Leah for the rest of my life. I want to marry her. Part of me wants to whisk her off to Las Vegas and do it straight away and the other part of me wants to wait and do it properly because she deserves it.

So I'm going to my class tomorrow. Then I'm going to just go. I was looking online earlier and the airlines are very busy this weekend for some reason. I might have to fly with Air France from London City Airport for god's sake. I don't even know where that is. It would be altogether more logical and sensible to wait a few days and go next week. But I'm not feeling very logical about Leah right now. I'm feeling impulsive and impatient and excited.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Falling over ourselves

Why do we laugh at people falling over, people slipping and so on? I would regard myself as reasonably intelligent and sophisticated, I enjoy the humour of Oscar Wilde and Woody Allen for instance and intelligent sitcoms like Frasier or Yes Minister. But at the same time I also like silly things like Monty Python or Eddie Izzard. And to my mind you can't beat Laurel and Hardy. That is ageless humour and of course most of it is done without the need for words, indeed they started out doing silent movies. Perhaps that's why we all laugh at something so unsophisticated as a man slipping or falling off something. It's universal, it's simple and it's something we've all done.

But, as Krusty the Clown once pointed out, what makes something really funny is if it happens unexpectedly or when the person who falls or slips or has a custard pie shoved in his face has dignity. I once went out bowling with a bunch of my friends and my brother. Mark went to bowl his ball, slipped and fell flat on his back. I couldn't stand up for laughing. It was utterly unexpected and all the funnier for all of that. Take a look at this. A government minister in South Africa is giving an interview live on television:

Aches and Pains

This trying to get fit and mobile again is bloody hard work. I am now attending the so called 'Back Class' designed for people who have had surgery on their back. I ache all over tonight.

But all of this is crucial apparently. I have to attend at least six of these classes, so it will be up to two tomorrow. If my condition deteriorates they refer me back to the consultant or to James the physiotherapist who was dealing with me one to one but if it gets better then that is an end to it. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

This is not to say that any of this is easy. Some of the exercises I had to do today really hurt but they are building up the strength in my lower back and legs which is what I need.

I did pretty well today. I think the strength is coming back in my legs and back it's just that I can't do any of these things for very long, but then that will come as I do them more and more. My back seems to be working just fine, it's just that the nerve is still damaged and so I have the numbness still. But, with the exception of my foot, I can now move things pretty well again and am getting stronger again. So partial success has been achieved.

I have to go again tomorrow and then I'll see what they say. If I could have a few days grace until my next class I shall be able to go and see Leah for three or four days.

Anyway I think going to see Leah will aid my recovery just as much if not more than sitting on a big ball or raising my legs over and over again or stepping up steps or marching on the spot with legs raised to waist height. Seeing Leah, kissing Leah, talking to Leah, going out with Leah and holding her in my arms will soothe my angst and make me happy. I want to go.

Looking on the bright side I am now nearing the end of all of this. I just have five more of these classes, the appointment with the surgeon next week and barring any set backs the initial recovery period will be over. I shall then be free. I can't see me having any setbacks. I think I'm recovering pretty well, it's just that the feeling isn't coming back but then they warned me that could happen. So by the end of next week I could go and see Leah anyway and for as long as I like. Maybe I could even enact my romantic dream (see yesterday)

But she did tell me it had to be this week. And she is the boss of me. I really want her to stop being mad at me and to be my darling Leah again. So I need to do as I'm told, get over there, spend what time I can with her with the promise I shall be back again as soon as I can. If that means putting up with these aches and pains for a few more days then so be it.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Plans and timing.

Yet another trip to Solihull today to be poked and prodded and massaged and hit with one of those reflex hammers. I don't seem to be making any more progress

James, my physiotherapist, is however now moving me on to the next stage. So I suppose this means that I am getting fitter, even if the numbness isn't going away. Accordingly tomorrow I shall be making the journey once again (all of this travelling is costing me a fortune) and starting some new exercises.

Some of these exercises are quite difficult. He showed me one today. I have to sit on a big ball which is about the height of my knee. Once perched precariously on this ball I have to pull in my stomach (this is a common feature of all of these exercises and very important apparently) and then lift one foot off the floor whilst remaining stable on the ball. Not easy I can tell you.

The hope is though that if I can do these new exercises reasonably well then they will be pleased with my progress. I have the appointment with the surgeon next week and he is presumably pushing them to push me.

But if I am making sufficient progress I will get a few days grace and this will enable me to go and see Leah. I shall only be able to go for a few days between appointments but that should be enough for now I hope. I did ask James if I would be able to have some time off and he said that it depends on how I do tomorrow and the class after that. I feel like I'm cramming for an exam.

Leah hasn't specified how long she wants me to go for. She just said it has to be this week, which presumably includes the weekend. So I think that's what I'll have to aim for.

I wanted to go for longer. I've got this idea in my head that I could go there, we would make love all weekend, I'd ask her to marry me and then, after she has served her notice period in her job, she would come home with me and we could hold hands on the plane as we fly back to our new life together. But, even if this were a likely scenario and Leah agreed to be my wife, I can't stay there for that long until I've been to see the surgeon and he has cut back on my physiotherapy.

So I'll just have to go for as long as I can this weekend and spend as much time as possible with Leah. It isn't as if I don't want to do that. I want us to be in a place where we don't argue all of the time, where we can just talk and maybe discuss our plans without the rancour that has so often been a feature of our conversations.

And I want to make love to her so much. What better way to spend your time than lying with the woman you love, kissing and holding her and inside her. Three or four days will not be anything like enough but it will just have to do for now until I can make the romantic dream a reality.

Doing as I'm told.

Leah told me tonight, with her usual verbal economy, that unless I go there this week she never wants to speak to me again. I didn't demur. It isn't as if I don't want to go. I am trying to sort things out so that I can go. I would go for a week or two if I could and go and see the election take place.

Tomorrow I'm going to see the physiotherapist again. He will as usual check my 'neurology' as he calls it, which essentially means me sitting there in my underwear while he checks if I have feeling in my feet and legs and if my reflexes are working. I don't really think there has been any change these last few days. I'm starting to think that I'm not going to get very much better than I am right now. I shall just have to learn to live with a defective foot and numb left buttock.

The thing is I can live with these things. I don't want to obviously. I had ideas about starting to play football again, maybe tennis or golf. But this seems unlikely now.

But it could have been worse. At least when I do go to New York I shall be able to make love to Leah if she wants me to and if she stops being mad at me for long enough to take her clothes off. Now all I have to do is find a way to get there this week so that she doesn't stop speaking to me again. It would be nice to get there and finally be able to put all of this behind us and have her stop being mad at me. I'm permanently on the back foot with Leah. She's the boss. I would like a little more equilibrium. I think I may ask her to marry me even if she is always going to be the boss. And anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, the American economy is in dire straits, graduates are finding it hard to get jobs. Leah may as well come here.

New Deal?

On Newsnight tonight there was a report from small town America about what is happening to the economy there. It's not looking good. As I mentioned here a week or two ago, huge and archetypal companies like Ford and General Motors are really struggling, laying off workers and losing hundreds of millions month by month. Earlier this year Ford sold Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata, an Indian company, yet the price they got for these diminishing assets represents roughly what they are losing in a couple of months at present. In the current climate how long can this go on? But could such a company be allowed to go under? It isn't a bank after all. But if one of these were to fall it would truly show that America is in a post industrial age and due for a very painful and politically difficult adjustment.

I think that all of the doom laden talk of this being the end of the American era is nonsense. For all that they have their problems, for all that the old industrial heavyweights are struggling this is still the land of Microsoft, Google and Apple. It's no accident that companies like these were created and prospered and became behemoths in America. The worry is that politicians will ignore the success of this part of the economy and focus too much on the industrial heartland that was. There is talk of protectionism which would be a disaster.

A woman was interviewed on Newsnight. She is a graduate who, thanks to the poor state of the jobs market, has to earn her living at Starbucks and even Starbucks has been laying people off. In small town America, away from the big cities, Starbucks is a luxury these days. That's a worrying sign.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

The New World

The BBC is currently running a series with Stephen Fry, the quintessential Englishman, touring all 50 states of the USA. It's a refreshing series in this day and age when it has become fashionable to decry all things American because Mr Fry, who never knowingly says anything unpleasant about anyone, goes to America from the standpoint that he rather likes the place and its people.

I've always thought it's rather absurd to criticise an entire nation just because of recent political developments, but it is even more so in the case of America. America isn't so much a nation as an idea that became a nation. That's what I like about it. Okay a lot of people there can trace their roots back to Britain or Ireland or other parts of Europe, but the reason their ancestors went there was because it represented a new opportunity away from the class ridden, stratified old world. And it has remained that way ever since, a nation that is a melting pot and so really isn't a nation at all in the old fashioned sense of the word. You can talk about the English, Germans, French, Japanese, Italians and that does mean something, even if that meaning is breaking down. But what does American mean? It doesn't mean the same thing at all. To me American still stands for what John Adams and his fellows wanted it to mean over 200 years ago, or am I being starry eyed?

I'm thinking a lot about all of this because of course I'm trying to go there. Much as I would like to go and see the delights of New England, Massachusetts et al I just need to go and see New York and Leah for now. I would like to go and see all of these places with her, I would love that, but I doubt I shall be able to go there for long enough, at least not yet unless I suddenly and miraculously get full feeling and movement back in my foot. However, I am going there and very soon.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Tentative steps

At the moment I feel a bit like a footballer struggling with a niggling injury but desperately trying to get fit in time for a big game. Medical intervention is working up to a point but the rest is up to me. I need to keep doing the exercises, taking the walks, gritting my teeth and getting through the pain barrier.

My foot will not work properly whatever I do. Only one half of it is working. It's endlessly frustrating.

I'll illustrate the problem for you.

Try it for yourself. Choose a foot, any foot, but the left one and barefoot if you want to achieve full empathy with me. Now lie down. The foot will naturally fall into a position pointing away from you when the muscles are relaxed. Now pull the foot up towards you so that the toes are pointing up at the ceiling. I can't do this. When I try to do this only the inner part of my foot, the side with the big toe comes towards me. The other side stays where it is. This is because the nerves controlling the outside of my foot are still not transmitting messages. The outside of my foot is numb and the muscles simply aren't functioning. It means that I am walking awkwardly. I can move the toes now but not properly. I can't bend my big toe.

It is for this reason along with my still numb buttock that I am still undergoing physiotherapy. It is why everything remains on hold.

I'm going to work hard over the weekend and push myself to try and get some more improvement. Then, when I next see the physio on Tuesday, he will hopefully see enough progress to release me to the next part of the process which involves a weekly class. This will then give me a week's grace and hopefully enable me to go and see Leah. I would have liked to have gone for longer, I would have liked to have been over there to see the U.S election but I shall have to be back here for yet more physiotherapy and to see the consultant who did the operation.

I suppose I just have to be patient. If it was just up to me I probably would be but it isn't. I have to get to New York and soon. But progress is being made. Other things are working well now. Urinary and sexual function is now completely back to normal. It's just that I would like to test this by going and making mad passionate love to Leah. That's what I keep telling myself as I make myself go for yet another walk or lie flat on my back and raise my legs in the air with my stomach held in as prescribed and do various other exercises which are apparently supposed to cure the problem. Here's hoping.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Six Weeks

It is now exactly six weeks since I came out of hospital. I have to keep reminding myself of this. It's not been that long, not really. Yet it feels like much longer.

When I think back to that night, how I got home around 9 0 clock and then struggled to walk the few hundred yards down the road to the shop on the corner to buy myself some milk, when I think about how those few days I ached constantly and every step was a struggle, well clearly I have made a lot of progress. But it's still frustratingly slow. I still can't walk properly, I have a pronounced limp. If I walk for any distance, say over a mile, then it becomes a real struggle. I used to be able to walk for well over 5 miles every afternoon. I enjoyed it.

I still have this nagging numbness in my foot and in my left buttock. I have to accept the fact that these may never go away. Essentially the nerves are just not transmitting messages properly. My brain sends signals to my foot and only part of my foot seems to receive them. It's as though I have faulty wiring.

I'm doing my exercises as prescribed. I'm trying to walk as much as I can. But the infuriating thing is that this is affecting everything else. I can't work at the moment, or at least not properly. Driving is difficult because I can't use the clutch.

And so my life is in a strange kind of limbo. I'm waiting for my body to start working again so that I can work again. And I have to keep going to see the physiotherapist so that he can check on me and give me new exercises to do. He told me on Monday that I shall have to go once a week now every week right up until Christmas. This week I have to go three times so that they can fit a splint to my foot to try and get it into the right position.

And the worst thing is that all of the time I can feel Leah burning with indignation 3000 miles away. I know she is. I'm trying to juggle everything so that I can go and see her for a few days as I promised her faithfully I would do. It's bloody frustrating. But I shall find a way. I shall be there before this month is out.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Timing and logistics

I sometimes think that Leah quite likes me writing about her on this blog. She didn't like me writing spicy sex filled tales about her on here of course (or at least that was what she said) but then this isn't unreasonable. But I suspect she quite likes having me write about her and my feelings for her. And this is fine by me, I mean every word. Had it not been for my previous blog then Leah and I would by now no longer be communicating at all and that would be a disaster.

The plan is that we will soon be communicating in person anyway. When we last communicated I told her that I would be booking it and going later this week. I'm working on it. I have to fit it in around physiotherapy for my stubbornly malfunctioning foot and also get flights and a hotel at a reasonable price. But I shall do it. I'm checking the various airlines and hotel websites several times a day looking for good deals on days that work for me. The chances are that I shall find something at short notice and then just go. I have sent her an e-mail to tell her this but she hasn't read it yet. It's quite possible that I shall book something and send her an e-mail which she won't read but I don't suppose it matters too much. I'm determined to get there and get this sorted.

This year has been a good year by and large. Other than the fact that I endured a nasty operation on my back and now have a foot that doesn't work properly, things have largely gone to plan. All except Leah, the love of my life. In many ways though this is one of the easier things to sort out. All I have to do is get there and see her and spend time with her and all will be well. I will get there and very very soon.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Coded entries

When I created this new blog a couple of weeks ago I was prompted to opt in to allow advertising on the site and earn a small (probably tiny) income when people clicked on adverts on my site. I decided to opt in, after all why not?

Now thus far this blog and its predecessor has not yet quite become the Huffington Post. I can't think why. But, given its limited readership, I suspect that the adverts are not going to get a lot of clicks. I don't think I'm losing out on millions. If there are millions of you reading me then please let me know.

And anyway, as it turns out, actually inserting the adverts is fiendishly complicated. Why can't they make it easier? Some of us do not understand computer code and have no desire to learn. I am happy to insert adverts on to my website if it is easy to do so. They have failed to facilitate me in this and so have lost my custom. I would need to learn HTML basics in order to make it work and frankly I can't be bothered.

So this site will be remaining advertisement free. You will be getting my thoughts and witticisms, tales of my travels and derring do and of course my constantly fascinating love life absolutely free and unsullied by commercial interests.

Now, I'm off for a glass of Coca Cola and to watch my Sony television. I shall also be browsing online for transatlantic flights to go and see Leah. I shall most probably be using British Airways ( whose current deals are highly competitive and whose staff are unfailingly pleasant and helpful.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Saturday night in

Saturday night and I find myself, for the first time this week, at home and in front of the television. Now I haven't watched much TV lately but Saturdays may well be the worst. Actually I was relatively well off, at least early on. There was the sight of England beating a team we ought to thrash from Kazakhstan and then there was the latest episode of the utterly superb John Adams which is probably the best thing on TV at the moment.

But then, around 7 PM, it was down to the usual Saturday night dross.

The powers that be have decreed, for no obvious reason, that Saturdays must be family entertainment night. What does that mean? Well apparently it means so called celebrities ballroom dancing in a desperate desire to relaunch their careers. Or on ITV we have the latest series of the spectacularly cynical and manipulative X Factor. I hate this show. These people do not have the X Factor. They can sing quite well, hardly a unique talent. In the several years this show has been clogging up the schedules they have found one genuinely talented, beautiful and charismatic star in the lovely Leona Lewis. Otherwise it's just a parade of people who will be forgotten in a couple of years time.

This is the land that produced the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Queen, Coldplay and Radiohead to name but a few. These were people with real talent who changed music by writing the damned stuff and who spent years honing their craft. They didn't just turn up for an audition and take criticism from a bunch of chancers and zero talents who happened to get lucky. British music used to lead the world. Thanks to the likes of Simon Cowell it may never recover.

So what did I end up watching as I sat up hoping to see Leah and waiting for the West Wing? I ended up watching one of those list shows, specifically The 100 Greatest Tearjerkers. I've cried buckets tonight. It's like ten years of therapy in one evening. There are the emotional scenes from movies like that scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Jerry Maguire, Jean de Florette, Ring of Bright Water, Born Free, Goodbye Mr Chips, The Railway Children (that's a humdinger - "Daddy, my Daddy" at the end), The Shawshank Redemption or of course ET.

And then there were TV dramas like Cold Feet or Inspector Morse.

But then worst of all there were the real life dramas in sport and the news; Derek Redmond who was in an Olympics final when his hamstring snapped but he hobbled around the track with the aid of his dad or there was an old episode of Animal Hospital. I'm a sucker for animal stories. This one got me hook line and sinker. A man took his dog to the vet and she had to be put down. He was told the bad news and his lip started to quiver and he accepted that it was the kind thing to do. This huge man with tattoos on his arms leaned down and kissed his dog on the head. I didn't just cry, I sobbed. I remembered my old dog Ben, now long dead, but who I remember all the time. I used to kiss him goodnight at the top of the stairs evernight before I went to bed. God I loved him and I still miss him even now. I had to go to the bathroom to get tissues. It was awful.

I' m still watching it. Why am I doing this to myself?

Friday, 10 October 2008

New World Order?

As the world's markets panic and descend into chaos, as the banks stand on the edge of a precipice and are threatened with annihilation or nationalisation, as trillions are wiped off the value of shares and trillions more are pumped into the banks to try and bring to an end a crisis that has developed a life of its own, many people are writing about all of this and making doom laden predictions. Some are talking about this as the end of Capitalism, other see it as a new era of government interventionism, still others as a resurgence of Socialism or the end of western hegemony and the rise of China and the other BRIC economies. I suppose all of this is only natural, it is after all one of the functions of a free press to debate these matters, to pore over events and try to extract some meaning.

The simple fact of the matter is that we have seen all of this before. Of course we haven't seen it exactly this way before. There are always differences. But markets go up and down, and people follow them up and down in a frenzy of excitement and fear of missing out on the way up and in a panic and fear of losing everything on the way down. It happened this way with the South Sea Bubble in 1720 and has been happening periodically ever since, most notoriously in 1929 and in 1987.

Bubbles happen because of human nature. They happen for the same reason that people want to be seen wearing fashionable clothes, have the latest trends in interior design etc. It's the herd instinct. We all think of ourselves as individuals deciding our own destiny but ultimately we are part of a herd, following others for fear of missing out. In the modern communications age that means millions of people all doing the same thing and moving billions of pounds or dollars. This can be for good or bad. If millions decide they want to see a movie then that movie becomes a smash hit. If millions decide they want to buy a Nintendo Wii then Nintendo laughs all the way to the bank. And if millions see uncertainty surrounding banks they pull our their money, sell their shares and carnage results.

Is this the end of Capitalism as we know it? Of course it isn't. Is this a watershed moment? Well it might be. It all depends on when and how things settle down. If markets continue to fall and governments continue to fail to act collectively then things could get even worse and this could become a self fulfilling prophesy.

But this doesn't have to be a watershed moment unless we want it to be. One part of Capitalism is in difficulty, the banking sector, that doesn't mean the whole concept is flawed and broken. This has been another of those bubbles. This time the herd got sucked into thinking that we could go on borrowing and spending, that house prices would always go up, that tiny companies could keep buying much bigger companies with vast amounts of borrowed money, that the bubble would keep inflating and keeping us all safely inside protected from reality.

We will bounce back from this. It took us no time at all to recover after 1987. It took much longer after 1929 it's true but that was largely to do with the world as it was back then. Nowadays hopefully we and our policy makers are wiser.

There will be changes of course. If banks do have stakes bought by governments then there will be a quid pro quo demanded. Perhaps an era of more conservative lending will follow and of greater responsibility. It might last for a while. But it will ebb away when the next bubble starts.
This is neither the end of Capitalism or the end of Socialism. It is just another chapter. The story will be changed subtly by this chapter because that is what chapters do. And the story was changing anyway thanks to the likes of China and India.

The most surprising thing about this particular chapter is how ordinary and prosaic it is. This was just a bubble based on property prices and low interest rates fuelling record borrowing. This wasn't an exotic new company in a far away land, this wasn't like the Dot Com of recently when everyone again thought the world was changing thanks to the internet. This was just property and money, two things we ought to know well. But as usual people persuaded themselves that a new paradigm had arrived, that economies could grow, property prices could rise and basic laws of supply and demand didn't apply. Gordon Brown even claimed absurdly to have abolished the old cycles of boom and bust. Perhaps he was right. He may end up having presided over boom and now a depression.

It is thanks to such hubristic stupidity that we are where we are now, not because the world is changing. The world and the people in it are, I think, very much the same as they have ever been.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


I forgot to mention yesterday because I was out for most of the day that Leah, the sainted Leah, had sent me a birthday e-card. She's so lovely. She even called me up in the middle of the night in case I hadn't got it.

I tried to call her back but she didn't answer.

I think we're going to be okay. We have finally managed to clear the air.

I haven't actually seen her online for a few days but this is mainly because I've been going out a lot either catching up on people I haven't seen in ages because I was in Birmingham or attending physiotherapy sessions to try and get my legs and feet to work properly.

But I think talking online is part of the problem anyway. Instant messaging and e-mail are wonderful inventions along with SMS but they do tend to be used instead of proper verbal communication. It can lead to problems. I've had problems before with other girls and not just Leah. Something written down without voice intonation or eye contact can look so much more stark. I hereby resolve not to go down that road any longer.

People do this all the time. They send messages in haste and then wish they hadn't later. It is so easy to write things down and press that send button . Later, when one reads them back, it is like they were written by someone else. And the reverse is true. Something written by someone else can be taken entirely wrongly or because it is there in black and white can be endlessly read and re-read giving it a greater gravity than it should ever have been given.

I want to talk to Leah but in person not across the internet. The phone is a better alternative too. The time difference is the difficulty of course. I tend to be online when she is at work and thus distracted. We can't talk properly.

But anyway I've promised to go and see her and I shall. That is the best form of communication.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Splashing our cash

Today the British government has announced its own package of help for our increasingly precarious banking sector. Now I don't wish to appear smug but what they have proposed today sounds awfully similar to what I wrote here on 2nd October. Feel free to have a look for yourself.
They have committed a total of half a trillion Pounds to rescuing banks, many of which have been insisting for weeks that they are fine and have no need of help. One of them, RBS, had the biggest rights issue in history earlier this year which was supposed to have solved their problems. Now their share price is worth a quarter of what it was just a few months ago and they are apparently going to be one of the more eager banks going to the Treasury with their cap in their hands.

I do think that the approach is a better one than that employed in America but I still suspect there may be problems. There are technical issues which mean that it may all look extremely expensive. The measure being used for capitalisation, so called Tier One will lead to colossal sums being requested meaning that a bank like RBS or HBOS, whose share prices have collapsed, will be asking for sums of money hugely in excess of what the banks are actually worth.

The market reaction today has been nervous again. Nobody really knows if this is going to work. It ought to work in that it ought to free up lending. If it doesn't the government will have to insist that lending begins again. If it is a major shareholder and providing much of the money it will be in a position to do so. Indeed an overlooked element of the deal is that the government has, in a roundabout way, guaranteed all deposits in UK banks. They have put up a £200 billion credit line available to all banks that are properly capitalised according to the rules will not have to fear lines of depositors lining up and demanding their cash. They could simply call on the government. That should steady people's nerves, or at least it would if more people realised what it meant. It may be dressed up in bureaucratic banking language but it is in effect the same as the guarantee given by the Irish and Greek governments to the chagrin of other world leaders. It ought to do the trick.

But no government can dictate what happens in the stock markets. Stock markets are reacting to what they see. They see an approaching recession or even a depression. They see that the banking sector, a major source of dividends for pension funds and individual shareholders, is now being told it will have to cut dividends and may not be able to pay any at all for some time to come. They also see that their shareholdings in these banks are being diluted and that the government is to be given new and better shares than their own meaning that they will have less say in the running of a company. Such shareholders can hardly be blamed for deciding to sell.

In the medium term it's likely that this action will work and that the banks will settle down. Whether the American bail out will work remains a moot point. Paulson has today warned that more banks may fail. Maybe he should be saying the opposite and guaranteeing that they won't be allowed to. That may ultimately be the only way to draw the poison as was his intention. If it doesn't then America may continue to draw the rest of the world into the mire.

But even if this all works this is a game changer. Lending will take place again but on much more restrictive terms. And before that happens people and companies are going to struggle and some will go under. We are heading inexorably for a recession and possibly a slump because this crisis has undermined the world economy. That is why interest rates were slashed worldwide today, that is why stock markets continue to fall.

Monday, 6 October 2008

A waste?

Something has been troubling me for the last couple of days since the contretemps Leah and I had on Thursday. In amongst the accusations and the expletives she said:

"what a fucking waste".

What did she mean by that? I did of course ask but received no answer. What is a waste? What has been wasted? Why does anything have to be wasted?

This is yet another one of those words or phrases she sometimes throws into conversations which seem entirely at odds with everything else. But then it was ever thus. After all she was there demanding confirmation for flights she had told me a few weeks before she didn't want me to make. This brief and angry conversation came about suddenly and out of the blue ten days after she had equally angrily told me to stop sending her messages. She then wonders why I sometimes do not instantly respond to her demands the moment she makes them. As it happens I would have sent the demanded e-mail if she had been a little more patient. I was having technological difficulties, difficulties it took me a day and a half and a lot of frustration and swearing to finally resolve.

A few days on and I still don't know what to think. What does she want from me? Does she want to see me or not?

She keeps telling me she has moved on and has met and indeed nearly married someone else, so why does she still get so furious with me when she decides, apropos of nothing, that I am lying to her? Why, if she has moved on and formed some kind of close relationship with someone else, does she bother communicating with me at all given the level of suspicion I arouse in her?

None of it makes any sense.

What will happen this week? I'll get there late on Thursday and fall exhausted into my hotel bed at what for me will be 5 or 6 in the morning thanks to the time difference. What will her reaction be if I call her and announce my presence? Will she care? Will she want to come and see me? Will she still be hostile? Or will we simply melt into each other's arms and rush to my hotel before tearing each other's clothes off and get down to some primal, atavistic, cathartic fucking?

I really don't know.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Worthwhile trip

God it's a long way from London to Liverpool. It always seemed to take forever when I was travelling from Birmingham but now that I have that extra 100 or so miles to traverse it seems to take forever. Actually, today I was going to Manchester and not Liverpool but it's about the same and this was the first game I have gone to since finally making the move.

Happily Liverpool are in a rich seam of form and, even when we went 2 goals down bounced back and managed to win 3 - 2. Now that would make any journey worthwhile. I was not lucky enough to be there that fantastic night in Istanbul in 2005 which apparently was a hell of a journey but it wouldn't have seemed like on the way back once we were European champions.

There have been a lot of false dawns for we Liverpool supporters in recent years, but this year we really are looking like potential champions. We have that something extra that is required from a championship side. It isn't just about having the best players, although clearly that helps. It's also about that spirit that good teams need. It's about that never say die attitude. It's about the desire and determination and the confidence to just go out and know that you are good enough to win and win well. We're equal top of the league with Chelsea and that is an achievement in itself. We started well last season but by the time of my birthday had dropped off a little as we hit a rough patch and dropped too many points in games we should have won. Today was a sign that we might have cured this. Then again, though I'm not a superstitious man I feel a certain trepidation about writing that.

A smile and a (hood) wink

I have finally got around to watching the so called Vice Presidential debate of last week (isn’t Sky Plus wonderful!) and can now give my own opinion.

The received wisdom seems to be that Sarah Palin did quite well. This is probably true, but only if you are a credulous half wit. She did very well at completely avoiding the questions. Now I know this is something that politicians have to develop a talent for but usually it is because they don’t want to tell people the truth, it is not because they have insufficient knowledge to answer.

Then she winked at the camera. That seems to have done it for a large part of the American people. God almighty! It was nearly as cringe worthy as that hockey mom drivel she spouted to the Republican convention. Every time I hear that I throw something at the television.

This woman has the intellect of a whelk. She has no experience, no credentials for high office. Despite weeks of cramming she still cannot answer fairly simple questions about foreign policy. She knew of only one Supreme Court case (Roe vs Wade) which even we Brits are aware of. She couldn’t even come up with the names of newspapers or magazines she reads for crying out loud. She has been kept away from giving press conferences. She's an attractive woman of course and this seems to appeal to certain sections of the electorate, albeit for radically different reasons. They should do polling about that wink. It would be very revealing, and not in a good way. Sometimes one despairs about democracy. As Churchill said, it is the least worst option.

It has all produced a genuinely comical moment however. In their attempt to make her look vice presidential her team had her meet a succession of world leaders. One of them was the new Pakistan President, Asif Ali Zardari. As a consequence of this meeting President Zardari had a fatwa issued against him because he met a woman wearing a skirt. Now that is funny.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Light and heavy entertainment

I thought I would write about television for a change.

A new comedy started on BBC2 this week called Beautiful People. It’s set in the 1990s, which of course was when I was young and growing up and in love with another girl with a name starting with L.

It will be interesting to see how this one does. Often with these new comedies it is difficult to see how they ever got past the commissioning stage. I can see how this one got past because it ticks certain boxes. But despite the fact that it does tick certain boxes considered necessary by those in charge of the BBC, it manages to be funny, sometimes very funny. It also, thanks to the era it’s set in, has some great music.

It will be fascinating to see how this one does. It’s interesting and offbeat and clever with bits of surrealism thrown into the mix. It has wacky, if a little cartoonish characters. It doesn’t really have a story line as such. This could be its problem. I can’t see them getting more than two series out of it. The fact that it has a gay central character may not be a problem in this day and age. We’ve had Will and Grace, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Little Britain etc. I hope it does well.

Also this week, poked away on one of the satellite channels so that I nearly missed it, was the utterly superb, multi award winning HBO production John Adams. One runs out of superlatives with this show. I’ve only seen the first two so far but can only add to the praise. It’s intelligent, beautifully written and played by a superlative cast, particularly the peerless Paul Giamatti who manages to make me feel young. Who would believe he is two years younger than me. Maybe it was the makeup.

What I admire so much about this mini series and other series from HBO like Band of Brothers which I have on DVD and which came from the same production team, is that they trust the audience. The script is not afraid to include references to the likes of Cicero and Thomas a Becket and the word ‘sensible’ in its old fashioned usage (although I do remember Margaret Thatcher using it in that sense) and they just trust that the audience will follow and understand. There is little or no action in this series. It is wordy with long scenes of people just talking and debating. It’s like an historical West Wing and that’s probably why I loved it so much. I miss the West Wing.

I love history like this, the history of the way we came to be the way we are. Thanks to the arrogance of we British a nation was born and born with lofty ideals, although of course they fudged the issue of slavery to get their Declaration of Independence passed and thus saved up problems for a later great American statesman. Maybe the same team will soon make a series about him. If they do I shall definitely be watching.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Another final word

I’m sorry, I just have to write about Leah again. I do so however because she is symbolic of something in women I find difficult to understand.

Yesterday, as I reported here, she came online after ten days of ignoring me and demanded I provide her the e-mail there and then confirming my presence in New York next week. I was unable to comply because I was on my new computer and transferring data on to it from my old computer, a process that was proving troublesome. Leah was unwilling to believe this.

Now if she had left it at that then today I would have sent the e-mail and all would now be fine. But Leah can never do that. She always gets nasty. She swore and called me sad and lonely. But then she told me that she didn’t care anyway, this was all a game to her and she had nearly got married recently!

How was I supposed to react to that? Quite apart from the fact that it was a direct contradiction of things she has told me only recently, it was also deliberately intended to hurt me. It worked.

And Leah is not alone in this. It’s a female trait. They say things like this in the heat of a moment and then expect us the next day to forgive and forget. I usually do forgive and forget actually but sometimes it takes me more than a day.

So, characteristically, today Leah came on and, as if nothing had happened, made the same demands of me. Given what she had told me yesterday I saw no need to pander to those demands. She has insulted me, she’s told me it’s meaningless to her now, she’s told me it’s all a game and that this is so much the case that she nearly married someone else since she stopped having feelings for me.

So why is she still asking me for the confirmation? If I had said to her what she said to me would she even be speaking to me? Why does she imagine that I would feel in any way inclined to do as she demands?

I’m going to New York next week. I’m going to go just to prove a point. I’m going to phone her from the fucking hotel room on a local number just to show her. I’m going to take lots of pictures of myself in the Big Apple posing with a copy of the New York Times.

I have no idea what she wants. I don’t really know what I want from her and me anymore. I find it very hard to define.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Goodbye and Hello

This evening Leah and I had a big and I think final contretemps. She said things which were unpleasant, gratuitous and which really hurt. My other blog had long been a forum of communication between us anyway. I would write things on there about how much I love her and what I planned to do about it and periodically she would break her silence and call me a fucking liar. Tonight was much the same really. She came online under a new screen name, made certain demands which, for reasons of timing, I was temporarily unable to accede to and then she got nasty. She got really nasty.

I really did love her. But there comes a time when you just have to let go and I have to let go. The things she said tonight are going to make that much easier.

So I am calling an end to all of this. This new blog will be going down a different road altogether. I shall not be writing about Leah on here. That is of course unless she apologises in which case I shall as usual capitulate faster than jelly on a plate. But she won’t apologise. She never does, or at least she hasn’t for a very very long time.

Perhaps if I stop writing about her I will forget about her and she will forget about me and that will be an end to it. I think it’s for the best.

Goodbye Leah. Goodbye to all of that.

Awkward questions

Amidst the furore and panic that has gripped the financial and political world this last week or so, there seem to be very few people who are questioning the accepted truth. Well, there is the general public of course and people like me but nobody of any real influence. The general public is questioning whether we ought to bail out the so called fat cats. This is a sentiment with which I have a great deal of sympathy. But more than that, will this gigantic bail out actually achieve what it is meant to achieve?

We are told by bankers, stockbrokers, economists and politicians, usually in grave and stentorian tones, that this bail-out is vital and that without it the world economy will collapse. But how do they know? Economics, to say the least, is not an exact science. They don't have some computer model they can use to see how it all pans out, and anyway economies are like the weather, yes we can predict most of the time what is going to happen to within a reasonable margin of error, but usually that margin of error is wide and gets wider still when certain unexpected conditions come along for which we are ill prepared.

For the last few days and weeks central banks have been throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into the money markets in an attempt to get banks to lend to one another again. Earlier this week they collectively lent 600 billion in one day. It didn't work. So how is this bail out going to work?

The extent of these toxic liabilities is huge and unknown. 700 billion is just a guess. It could be and probably is too little. So what happens then? Do they come back for more? Do they nationalise more banks? Do they let some go under and risk contagion?

Let me be clear, I do think that they should do something. But just taking all of these debts into some new body is the wrong approach. The authorities should be telling banks we will not allow you to fail. We will not allow people to lose their savings. That will help with sentiment. But if we are forced to step in you will be nationalised or we will inject funds and demand substantial numbers of shares in return. In other words they will demand what Warren Buffett demanded and got and what Japanese and Chinese investors demanded and got. Bad loans should be written off in the normal way and banks in trouble recapitalised if necessary with public money but with a substantial quid or should that be dollar pro quo.

If politicians took that approach and audited banks properly it could concentrate a few minds. It might encourage some responsibility. Just taking bad decisions off their hands will not cure the system. It lets them off the hook. Tell bankers it's sink or swim and they will find a way to swim. Tell them we will build you a vastly expensive ark and save you the trouble and of course they will take that option.

I applaud the fact that American politicians are cutting up rough on this issue. Unfortunately I suspect that they are only doing so because otherwise they might not get elected in a few weeks time. In Europe and here in Britain such a package would probably sail through such is the arrogance of our politicians and the lack of decent accountability. Gordon Brown need not call an election for another 18 months or so and people have short memories. Our borrowing is even more out of control than America's and he just keeps adding to it thanks to his compliant parliament and a party that is very keen on splurging our money.

Is the situation going to get worse? It might well do. And there is little or nothing that politicians can do about it, whatever they say in public or in private. There has been a huge financial splurge these last few years and this is the reckoning. It wasn't inevitable and much of it is illogical but it may happen anyway. Such events usually start with a bubble and we have had that with stupidly priced housing which people treated as a one way bet. There is no such thing. It may take years to work its way out of the system. We may see a depression. People may lose huge amounts of money and their homes. Loss of homes is one thing politicians can and will have to do something about.

I don't believe this bail out package is a good idea. It is being floated as a panacea and it is nothing of the sort. It may calm nerves for a while but then something else will happen. Earlier this year we thought we had come through the storm and then Freddie and Fannie happened and then Lehman and then HBOS and Bradford and Bingley over here. The system is fragile and that is the real problem. Only time and some economic realism and retrenchment is going to heal that. $700 Billion sounds like a hell of a lot of money. But it isn't nearly enough.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Another year

Ironically, now that I am living in London, today I had to go back up to Birmingham, well Solihull actually, for a physiotherapy appointment. Of course if one is going to travel to the Midlands then there are worse places than Solihull. And Birmingham isn't so bad really. It's good for shopping. Lisa used to be quite keen on it. When she used to come up for the weekend or for a whole week during half term I seemed to spend a great deal of my time in shoe and clothes shops waiting for her to try things on or buy things she had found.

It's not as if I'm ashamed of my home town. The Conservative Party are holding their annual conference there this week after all. It's just that I prefer London. There is just so much more going on in London, there's a greater buzz about the place. It's so great to be back.

I'm glad I've decided to stay here for my birthday and then go to New York. I see being here as a new beginning for me and birthdays symbolise that too. Next Tuesday I shall reach the age that my Dad was when he died. Now that I've moved and things are going better with my career I feel better about reaching this age. And though I still have a limp and my foot isn't working properly, it's sobering to think that Dad, when he reached his 43rd birthday knew that he only had a few months to live.

Of course Dad at my age also had a wife and two teenage sons. Now okay, Mom and Dad got married when they were quite young, they met when Mom was only about 15 for crying out loud and married when she was 20. Nowadays women of that age don't often get married. Look at Leah. She hasn't even decided what she wants to do as a career yet. It's no wonder she doesn't want to get involved with me.

I just wish Leah and I could be friends. I'm good at being friends with women, even my exes. That's why I'm going there. I just want us to meet up and be civil to one another. That's not much to ask is it? We could even go out to a few places and have a good time without sex being involved. Or maybe she's scared that she will fine me too irresistible and want to jump me. That's probably it. I am very sexy and irresistible even at the age of nearly 43 and with a dodgy left foot.

Anyway, Leah, the flights are booked. If you want further details then just ask. If you want to wish me happy birthday next week then feel free. I have been doing as I'm told and not sending you any more messages. That will remain the case unless you decide otherwise either by contacting me or coming to see me next week.
So, for the next four weeks I shall have two blogs although they will be the same. In this spirit this is the entry from yesterday. I should explain that I have just moved from Birmingham back down to the London area. This has been my ambition for some time. I hated where I was living in Birmingham.

Other things you need to know to keep up. I was recently in hospital and had an emergency operation on my back to remove a disc that was burrowing its way through my nerves and causing me numbness and loss of control of my left foot and even my bladder. Happily bladder control is fully restored as is sexual function but I still don't have full control of my foot and walk with a limp. I still have numbness elsewhere up that same leg too.

During my time in hospital Leah expressed concern for my welfare and started talking to me again and I did think we could make a go of things. I was going to go and see her in New York where she lives. But she has now lapsed back into silence again, ignoring me. She does however read my blog. I still plan on going to New York but now accept that I won't be able to see Leah while I'm there.

Okay, that brings you more or less up to date. Here is Tuesday's post:

So, I'm here and now more or less fully installed in London. There are a few things I still need to bring down from Birmingham and a lot of things I shall be getting rid of completely that are still there, but now this place is home. After only one night it even feels like home. I even have a phone and broadband already working.

It's so good to be back. I feel like I can make a proper new start now I'm here. Okay things have gone awry with Leah, predictably awry I suppose, but at least now I'm here and will have a social life. I might even meet someone new so I can stop thinking about what might have been with Leah.

I'm still going to New York for a weekend. The fact that I've now accepted that Leah won't come and see me is quite liberating actually. I'm going to go the weekend after my birthday. What's the point of being there for my birthday if I'm going to be alone in a foreign city in a hotel room? At least here I shall have a greater possibility of going for a drink with someone.

I would prefer female company of course. I'm really very tempted to call Lisa and ask her to come for dinner with me. She's female, I haven't seen her for ages and we do care about each other deep down. I would actually like to see her and see what she's up to. I know she's still teaching but what else? I would genuinely like to know. Maybe I'll call her on the pretext of giving her my new phone number.

I'm going to New York on 9th October just for a long weekend. I've just been looking at flights and hotels and I'm going to book it now. I want to go despite the fact that I'll probably be alone. I know you're reading this Leah, although I don't really understand why given that you're ignoring me. Maybe you're just curious. It's not too late for you to come and have a coffee with me.

Let's be friends. I know you don't want any more than that but surely we can be friends? Let me know if you want to meet up and if you want to know where I'm staying. And you can use up your last few days off and come to London if you want to. I have a spare room you can use. I promise to keep my hands to myself and not to try anything. Let's be friends Leah. I still care about you and I think you care about me too. Clearly we want different things because of the age difference. I want a proper relationship that is going to lead somewhere and you clearly don't. Such is life.

I'll be hoping to see you next week. Oh and if you wanted to say happy birthday to me then it's next Tuesday. If you ignore that then I shall take that as your way of telling me that you don't want to be friends either.