Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Goodbye rain and snow... hello sunshine!

Photo comes from www.motuiti.com
Originally uploaded by Bat21.

It has been one of those weeks this week. I have had our groupwork to finish off (a field study about how the work of groups helping the homeless has changed and why), an essay about the philosophical ramifications of whether you consider a social problem to be ontologically objective or ontologically constructive and an extra piece of work to write as I will be missing the course's final seminar next week... oh and did I mention that since Wednesday I have had a 39°C fever.

... but all is forgiven as come tomorrow morning I will be sitting on a aeroplane bound for Tenerife and a week in 20-22°C sunshine and if anything is going to help me overcome the last part of this man-cold, it will be sunshine, holiday atmosphere, a 4* hotel, great company and a medicinal whisky as I watch the sun go down together with my darling wife. Now that's what I call soul healing!

Wishing you all a good Easter weekend and I will see you here the week after next.

Paul has now left the building.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Stage Fright

Yes, you know what I am talking about… that feeling in public toilets that your strained bowel-cleansing is suddenly the centre of attention and the audience is waiting for the performance of a lifetime.

At university, we have unisex toilets in rows of four, with cardboard-like walls between them. To make matters worse, during the breaks between lectures, there is often a queue, people just outside chatting or standing quietly, waiting. All of this pressure gives me stage fright and the result is that I am turning into ‘shit-break’ from the American Pie movies, where I do my level best to suppress my bowel movements until I can get home.

The other day, I swear that someone must have slipped laxative into my coffee as I suddenly broke out into cold sweats and had to excuse myself from my group work. I arrived at the toilets just as the break rush started and have to patiently wait in line doing the kind of sphincter clenching that should have won me a place on Great Britain’s Olympic team. Finally a toilet became free, but, judging by the way that the previous occupant slunk away, I began to suspect something… and yes, I was right, upon opening the door it smelt as if Satan himself had befouled himself in the cubicle! But, nature and the ominous call of gravity were too much, so I swallowed back my bile and, visibly sweating at this point, sat down on the throne and concentrated. I concentrated with the precision of a fighter pilot landing on a carrier deck for the first time as I tried to pass off my pay-load as quietly as possible, but to no avail. To my mortified embarrassment the resulting ‘performance’ sounded like an orgy between zebras, pigs and donkeys (not that I have ever experienced one, I must add).

After thoroughly investigating the toilet cubicle to see if there was any way I could climb out through the ventilation and escape having to face my audience, I finally had to face the fact that my reputation would now be ruined for the coming 3 years. Had I been a girl, I would probably have a miniature perfume in my handbag somewhere and could have used the entire bottle to cover my tracks, but as a guy, no, as a man, I needed to face the full responsibility of my actions.

I opened the door, fully meaning to use Ace Ventura’s line ‘Do NOT go in there’, but was suddenly face-to-face with what I could only describe as the most prim and proper girl I have seen in a long time. I couldn’t even look her in the eyes, as, with the speed of a 100m runner, I made my way out of the toilets and hid for a good 30 minutes in the library… and I swear I saw people pointing at me later on during the day.

Monday, March 14, 2005


We first started talking just outside the classroom in Westminster school, right behind the Houses of Parliament in London. I felt a sense of comradeship immediately and felt glad that he was coming on this adventure with me. On the long flight over to Zimbabwe via Sofia in Bulgaria, we got talking and got to know one another a bit better. That set the pattern for the rest of the year and Dom’s significance and friendship to me during our time in Zimbabwe was a rock on which I could depend on and something which built a connection that has survived through good times and bad over the last 12 years or so.

When you are working in an unfamiliar environment right in the middle of the bush, you are forced to discover or re-discover that you are your own truest resource, but you also appreciate the value of a good friendship. To put you in the picture, it wasn’t uncommon for us to try to hitch a lift to Dom or my school and after an unsuccessful hour or two, to just start talking and simply walk the 20km along the dirt road to the school. One time when I was sick with the flu, Dom walked the 17km from my nearest town to my school, took one look at me, packed my rucksack and helped me walk the 17km back into town so we could catch a bus the 120km back into the city and get a clean bed for the night. It is moments like that, seemingly insignificant that stick in your mind over the course of the years and that for me sort the men out from the boys. There are many other stories I could share from our times in Zimbabwe and beyond that have cemented our friendship and given us a connection that has stood the test of both good and bad times… and that for me is proof of a friendship and proof of the person.

Dom, it is a pleasure to know you and I am proud to count you amongst my friends. I wish you a very happy 30th birthday and look forward to catching-up soon. Be a GIANT. /Paul

Thursday, March 03, 2005

On being a man

It was -10 and so bloody cold when I cycled to university this morning that I swear my testicles retracted, which meant that it wasn't comfortable to sit on my bicycle seat and I had to cycle the whole way standing up. No photo though!

This month's wine recommendation

March wine recommendations
Originally uploaded by Bat21.

Ok, just to kick off with the usual legal jargon for any American and UK-based readers...namely that the ideas and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, me, and constitute my version of reality. If you decide to act on them, then they become your version of reality, and I accept no responsibility for that or consequences arising from it.

So, now to the wine. At a dinner with Ellie's parents about 2 years ago, we tried a bottle of Brown Brothers Shiraz from 1999. Although the wine was ok, it was clear that given a bit of time in a dark and cold room, it would mature into a well-rounded wine worthy of serving to any company. So, I went out the next day and brought 2 bottles and added them to the cellar. I opened the first bottle last weekend and it had turned from a good to a great wine. Obviously I had to sacrifice myself on your behalf and really sample deeply to be able to give you a comprehensive report and to check that the taste didn't change between say the first glass and the fifth glass ;-)

Anyway, the experiment was a success and so today I purchased a couple of bottles of Brown Brothers Shiraz 2002 and will stick them in the cellar for between 3-5 years (if I can last that long!) and when the time comes to drink them, I can use them to celebrate something like finishing university.
For more information, visit, http://www.karinvintners.co.uk/search/details.asp?id=130

Whilst I was buying them, I succumbed to temptation and brought another bottle of Echeverria Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, which should be ready to come out of the cellar around 2009. I wonder what I will be doing then? Working again probably...hopefully...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

God gave that boy a gift

snow lantern
Originally uploaded by Bat21.

Yes, we have moved into March, but the snow doesn't seem to have noticed; it is almost as if somehow Nature is refusing to obey my pre-conceived view of the four seasons, which reasons that March should signal a move into Spring and not temperatures below freezing and 20cm of ground snow!

And the more it snows, the more I shovel. Yes, weird Swedish Law Number 3 dictates that I am responsible for keeping the pathway in front of my house free from snow and am in fact liable if someone, as a result of my neglecting my civil duty, falls and chooses to sue me. So, as the snow falls, I pull on my warm coat and gloves, pick up my shovel and set to work. They even have a word for it: att skotta = to shovel away snow.

All I want now is for someone, in the style of the film Mystery Men to admire me there and say, 'God gave that boy a gift. He shovels well. He shovels very well.'

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Strike three!

Just got the results back for our third and final assessed case-study on honour killings and we passed! There were a lot of pissed groups who have to re-work their cases, but we passed with a ‘very well written piece of work’! So, that’s the first 5 points of this university course in the bag… only 115 points to go… and then a further 120 for the psychotherapist degree, but that’s a story for another day!