Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Model for a day

I am off out soon for another half day of modelling. I was out for the whole day on Tuesday, doing 'on-location' shots. Our first stop was a town about 15km from Malmö where they are building some really nice new houses. This was for the 'construction site' shot. So I get togged up in a brown flannel shirt and a pair of working trousers with reinforced kneepads and plenty of extra pockets for your hammer, nails and screwdrivers. The problem was that the trousers were huge on my and without my belt lashed tightly around them, they literally dropped to my ankles causing the ladies I was working with much amusement. I got a bit worried at this stage because I thought that this may be part of the plot, something along the lines of my too big trousers fall down and then, enter stage left, another model with a special pair of rubber gloves of the type worn by customs officers... but no. I had to don my workman's gloves and hold a carpenter's ruler and then they took pictures of the gloves, capturing some of the top of the trousers and the shirt, with a soft, blurred building site in the background. Very nice.

From here it was off to the coast, a lovely little town called Höllviken, where they have a nice white sand beach and then just behind it a wood of wind and salt twisted pine trees that all look like giant bonsais. Here was the setting for the forest shots, with the aim to capture a feeling of autumn up in Northern Sweden. So, in 25-degree sunshine, I got dressed in a pair of thick winter trousers and a thick woollen jacket and pulled on a pair of winter warm gloves and then waddled into the forest to find a suitable tree for the shooting. After many photos requiring me to stand or sit in some rather uncomfortable positions with branches sticking where they shouldn't, we finally got a good couple of pictures with the gloves in the foreground, some wood and the logo from my trousers all in the same picture!

After lunch it was back to the studio to do the more 'corporate' shots. This one is to go on the front of the gloves catalogue and is basically a shot of a whole lot of gloved hands reaching, as it were, up to heaven. Enough said. This shot took a lot of time to get right as there were four of us modelling the gloves and we had to get our hands 'just so' so the gloves looked symmetrical in the picture, but not too symmetrical, so there was space between them, but not too much space and, not forgetting that you had to show off the key features of each glove without making it too obvious!

For the duration of the shoot, it is the photographer and the company that own me and my time. It is my job as the model to think about what needs to be achieved here, what is the purpose of this shot, what does the photographer want, and to try and help him find that as easily and quickly as possible. It is also my job to hold my arms in impossible positions and, as my muscles start to shake from the tension, to subdue that for long enough for the photo to be taken.

So, with my professional mindset outlined for you all, you will understand that I need to leave you now and put on my game face, ready for today's assignment... which I think is more gloves...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What is Man. Discuss?

I was wondering my way through Yahoo the other day and came across this news article (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/050622/80/flr9k.html), with the following headline: Kenyan Grandfather, Aged 73, kills leopard by reaching into its mouth and ripping out its tougue.

Obviously his age is the first thing that strikes me and of course the fact that he is lucky to survive at all. But beyond that, I begin to get even more enthralled in this story. A leopard is a predatory cat weighing in at 80-100kg of solid muscle. When he was attacked by the leopard, he actually had the gall and the presence of mind to match the animal, spirit for spirit, reach into its mouth and rip its tongue out. Aged 73!

When they graduate from boyhood to manhood and wish to be initiated as Masaii warriors, the boys in a Masaii tribe traditionally had to go forth and kill a lion. For this they had three weapons, a spear, a rungu (a wooden club with a thick bulbulous head) and a spike made from the rib of a giraffe. The aim was to use the spear to inflict damage on the lion, then to get the spike into the lion's mouth, so it is wedged their, making the lion unable to open or close its mouth and then use the rungu to finish it. The prize after this, if you survive, is to return to your village with the lion's furball, a ball of swallowed fur about the size of as tennis ball that is to be found in the lion's stomach. Upon returning from this, they have proven themselves worthy and are accepted as warriors and men.

The Dinka tribe in Sudan also have elaborate rituals which conclude with the child being scarred on their cheeks and forehead with their tribal markings. If they flinch, they not only dishonour their family, but they bear the mark of a mis-shapen tatoo for all to see when their courage faltered.

I recently downloaded the Maori tribal 'haka' made famous by the All Blacks rugby team at their matches andwhen I listened to it, the sheer power of the chanting brought out goosebumps on both of my arms. (see http://www.allblacks.com/index.cfm?layout=haka) for a video of the Haka being performed ) And the Maoris have their moko or tribal tatooing, as can be seen in the picture at the top of this article.

And over here, when we attain adulthood, we get drunk and can finally pay tax. And what happens when we attain manhood? What is a man today?

I am really intetrested if those of you reading this today are brave enough to attempt to answer this question. What is Man. Discuss?

About the sky and the sea

During the weekend, I found that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't use my camera to capture the picture that was in front of me. As I sit on the balcony of my parent-in-law's summer house, I can look straight ahead through the trees and see the harbour. It is a little working fishing harbour with some fishing boats tied-up, some coming and some going and every other hour, the ferry from a nearby island chugs into the harbour to offload people and cargo. I can see the fishermen's huts, some ducks in the water and the harbour mouth.
Beyond there is the sky and the see, both stretching to a horizon, whose distance, like that of the sky and the sea, varies with the weather. The sea and the sky change constantly from grey, angry and choppy, though to a warm blue and an ocean surface as flat and clear as a polished mirror.
Despite the fact that they are ever changing, or maybe because of it, the sky and the sea are a constant and somehow a feeling of connection to something greater. They were there before me, they will be there after and the time inbetween, almost insignificant by comparison, is up to me to bring meaning to. And, with controlled folly, I endevour to do this, whilst simultaneously knowing that the significance I bring is nothing more than that of a wave moving from the horizon and then gently breaking on the beach.

Monday, June 27, 2005

And the answers are...

Firstly a big thank-you to the 3 of you who attempted the quiz and for the countless others of you who stopped by and then thought 'No, he's made this too easy... there must be a catch somewhere.' and then left...

Well, onto the answers:

1.) The answer is of course B, Liv Tyler. I think that she has a genuine classic beauty and bucks the current 'look at me, I'm as brittle as a brandy snap' trend by actually daring to be feminine and curvy. So Liv's my poster girl...

2.) Again, the answer is B. Strategic Planner turning into a psychotherapist.

3.) Moving swiftly from Liv to her father, the answer here is B. Janie's got a gun by Aerosmith.

4.) Oh dear Dom, I guess I will have to get some Merlot in when you visit me, as the answer is actually C. Pinotage, with A. Shiraz being a very close runner-up.

5.) Yes, y'all got this one right, D. The adventures of Dan and Socrates will keep me amused under a star-filled sky.

6.) All are interesting and I have gone through all at one stage or another, but I am trying to simplify my life and find a solid base. Honour is very important to me and I want to roll my sleeves up now and work with service in a wider context. To move the focus from making a killing to earning a living instead. So, D is the correct answer.

7.) Yep, B. piano was guessed correctly by all. There is a piano in the hallway at school and I would love to just be able to sit there one Friday afternoon and play one of Ludovico Einaudi's compositions.

8.) James had the best explanation. Despite wanting to simplify, I want to be able to put my family + luggage + skiis into the car and still race a Porsche from the traffic lights. The BMW M5 would be the car parked outside my pad. So A is the correct answer.

9.) Urghhh, pork. Can't stand it.

10.) Yes, you got me, the answer is C and I know, I can't stop smiling about it!

So, the results: Mark and Dom score in with highly respectable 6/10's and James, in true best friend style, pips them at the post and scores in at 7/10. Well done, and Dom, I hang my head in shame and acknowledge that you are indeed, Alan Partridge!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Knowing me, knowing you. A-ha

Because I scored so abysmally on 'What's Dom like' quiz and he is meant to be a friend of mine, I decided to put things to the test and come-up with one of my own. This way, I will see how well Dom does and will know if I should feel really ashamed. So, my dear readers, give it a try and see how you do, and for you Dom, game on... :)

In the tradition of Mallet's Mallet, I will explain the rules once, only once and quickly... this is a multiple choice quiz, ten questions, the person who answers the most questions correctly, can feel a genuine sense of pride at knowing such a wonderful person as me so well... ah shit, I'll come-up with something to win.

Question 1:

I was quizzed recently by a bunch of girls in my class as to which 'Hollywood star/ celebrity' I think is the most beautiful (sanitised version) and, after some thought, I answered...

a.) Cameron Diaz
b.) Liv Tyler
c.) Catherine Bell
d.) Kirsten Dunst
e.) Scarlett Johansson
f.) I don't think about that sort of thing, as I am a married man

Question 2:

In a recent life-changing move, I handed in my notice and went back to university. What did I used to do and what am I aiming to become?

a.) Business Intelligence at an Ad Agency and want to become a social worker
b.) Strategic Planner at an Ad Agency and want to become a psychotherapist
c.) Really quite famous glove model and want to become a psychoanalyst
d.) Business Intelligence at an Ad Agency and want to become a psychoanalyst
e.) Outrageously handsome daytime soap star and want to be a Buddhist monk
f.) Blind driving instructor who wants to be a garden gnome called 'Gordon'

Question 3:

My current and rather unexpected favourite track on my ipod is...

a.) Return to me - October Project
b.) Janie's got a gun - Aerosmith
c.) Nuvole Bianche - Ludovico Einaudi
d.) Have you got a fresh pair of panties on - Snoop Doggy Dog
e.) Be like that - 3 Doors Down
f.) What's my age again - Blink 182

Question 4:

I am trying to get more regular with my wine tips on the site, but if I am only allowed to take one kind of wine with me (endless supply thereof) to a desert island, which sort would I take?

a.) Shiraz
b.) Merlot
c.) Pinotage
d.) Chardonnay
e.) Cabernet Sauvignon
f.) Riesling

Question 5:

Staying with the desert island for a while as I think about it rather a lot actually when I try and work out what is important to me. If I could only take one book with me, which one would I choose?

a.) A copy of the Gideon's Bible
b.) Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
c.) Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
d.) The Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman
e.) Mason & Dixon - Thomas Pynchon
f.) Practical Boatbuilding - George Buehler

Question 6:

Which of the following phrases are currently driving my line of thought and action?

a.) It's time you got a life instead of trying to buy into a lifestyle.
b.) In the end, all things point to God
c.) The Way itself creates the warrior
d.) Honour and Service
e.) After you have stared long enough into the dragon's eyes, there is nothing left to do but kill the dragon.
f.) The notion that I am me is like a pebble in my shoe

Question 7:

Which of the following musical instruments would I love to play so well that I could charm the pants of the ladies (not that I want to at my age or anything...)

a.) Drums
b.) Piano
c.) Violin
d.) Acoustic guitar
e.) Saxophone
f.) Bagpipes

Question 8:

Killing two birds with one stone here, both my interest in cars and what I would do if I had loads of cash. So, if I became a gazillionaire overnight, which car would I buy?

a.) BMW M5
b.) Jaguar XKR
c.) Porsche 911 S
d.) Mercedes C32 AMG
e.) BMW 330 xi
f) Volkswagen Passat Estate V6 TDI

Question 9:

We are having a large barbecue at your place, which of the following would I politely turn down:

a.) Chargrilled salmon stake
b.) Lamb chops
c.) Char-grilled chicken with a rosemary, garlic and lemon marinade
d.) Pork chops
e.) Steak marinated in Guinness
f.) Brian Pickering's Beef and Ale sausages

Question 10:

An easy one to end with... A life-changing event will be happening to me sometime in the second half of this year, something that will change me from Boy to Man and back again. What is it?

a.) The long-awaited arrival of my Star Wars Return of the Sith Lego set.
b.) The entire American Pie series on DVD
c.) Our first baby.
d.) My second university graduation.
e.) My becoming a swimming instructor for babies and young children.
f.) I will have finally become potty trained!

See how you get on, and I will come back with the answers on Monday as we will be celebrating Midsommar here over the weekend, so I will be up at the coast, drinking schnapps and leaving both my Mac and my mobile at home...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It may not be Vogue, but we have all got to start somewhere

photo courtesy of www.procurator.se
Originally uploaded by Bat21.

"My hands are small, I know. But they're not yours, they are my own" - Jewel: Spirit

Today was my first day on assignment as a model. Although I was disappointed by the universal reaction of my so-called friends, which went along the lines of 'What did you say? Model? You?' snigger, snigger... I arrived at work with my head held high and my hands ready to... model industrial protective gloves!

Yep, we started off with the big stuff though. I got to model some working jackets and pose myself carefully so the camera could focus on the ventilation vents under the arms (which I assure you, in 25 degree heat and under photography lights, were well tested!) and the protective padding around the elbows.

Then it was glove time. Over 100 pairs, on and off, making sure that my hands are in the same position each and every time, to ensure that I show the glove off in the best light.

Next week, we are getting 'heavy industry' shots, on location in the city and out in the forests and so I get to put on the clothing too and more of me will be photographed!

What the hell, it is an interesting extra job, fun to add to my CV, the photographer said I was a pleasure to work with, and next time you, dear readers, see protective gloves, which are hand-shaped but not attached to a body, you can stake your claim to fame and say 'Hey, I know the guy who modelled for that!'

Monday, June 20, 2005

Riverview Gewürztraminer

image courtesy of www.bottlegreen.com
Originally uploaded by Bat21.

Here is the bottle of Riverview Gewürztraminer, standing alone because I haven't yet figured out of to place two images in the same posting. If you know, please don't keep this secret from me longer than is absolutely necessary.


image courtesy of www.liquorama.net
Originally uploaded by Bat21.

Ok, happy campers, it is that time of the month when I suddenly remember that if I keep taking wine out of the cellar at not putting new bottles in, then soon my cellar will be just cobwebs and empty dreams... Although the cobwebs will make a groovy Halloween grotto for kids-to-come, curling up with Ellie on a Friday evening with a bottle of empty dreams frankly doesn't sound fun.

So (and I know that you have all been waiting for this) here come my cellar recommendations for June. The juicy thing about them is that both wines are cheap, one of them should be retrieved from the cellar already next year, or if you are really impatient can be quaffed already this weekend, and the other is a keeper, maturing to its full potential sometime between 2007-2010.

Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer... The first wine is called Riverview and is a Gew��rztraminer 2003(dry white wine) from Hungary. Typical of cold-climate Gew��rztraminers its taste is full o0f a mixture of grapefruit and exotic fruits such as lychee. The wine is perfect for summer, working well with fish, especially smoked salmon, white meat and Chinese food, or just being drunk on its own, whilst sitting in the garden in the cool of the day. The wine can be drunk as from this weekend, or, if you have the discipline, can be stored and drunk next summer too. Costs sek 55 and retails in UK for around ��3.99 at Asda, Waitrose and Sommerfields.

The second wine is a La Valentina, a 2002 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. A red wine with deep colour, soft and spicy character with a hint of black pepper and eucalyptus, firm velvety tannins and low acidity, this wine is a keeper. Sling a couple of bottles in the cellar and the tannins will slowly soften making it a fantastic winter drinker to red meats and heavy stews. The wine will be at its best between 2007 and 2010. Wine Spectator gave it 90 out of 100 and rated it as a very well done wine.

So good friends, in the interests of public health, humour and good company, keep on drinking!

The snowball effect!

Finally today, my visits counter crept-up over the 1000 mark! Finally all my visits to my own blog have paid off! It is a little bit like money making money, I figured that if it looked as if I had 'healthy' visitor numbers then people would be fooled into believing that there was something worth reading. You have no idea how many times I have read and re-read what I have written on this blog! All in the name of vanity...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Stand up and SHOUT

I have just received the results of my last paper from the second part of the psychology course and found out that I have got top marks! The lecturer actually took the trouble to write to me and comment 'EXCELLENT answer!!!'

This means that I finish my first semester with top marks in all subjects except the first, where I just couldn't be bothered to take the 'extra credits' paper; and it puts me in the top 10% of the class. What especially pleases me is the fact that in the two psychology sub-courses, I scored 92% on the written exam and received top marks for my research paper. As it is psychology that I want to be working with later, this gives me a good boost and can be interpreted as yet another way marker that I am moving in the right direction. It would have been a tough call if I had given up all that I have to work further in the field of psychology, only to find that I suck at it!

And why am I telling you all this? Well, firstly because I am really pleased with myself. It was a tough decision to leave a career, a job and an income behind and go back to university again. It was a lot of hard work last year to get the qualifications in Swedish to enable me to study at university here and it has been a tough challenge to study new subjects at university level in another language. And now, at the end of the first semester, I have not only passed, I have actually managed to get top marks and that makes me feel proud of myself.

The second reason why I am telling you all of this is because no one ever does. We all need a pat on the shoulder occasionally, we all need recognition and confirmation as individuals, but it happens all too rarely. When is the last time that you, dear readers, complimented a friend, a work colleague or a stranger? We all know how good it feels on the rare occasions when we get a positive remark and what a difference it can make to our day, but how often do we actually do it to others? We also learn that to 'boast' of our abilities is a bad thing and best be avoided if you don't want others to think of you as big headed. So then you end-up hiding your gifts and almost being ashamed of them. Everyone has different gifts; some our gifted academically, others in the field of sports or carpentry or flower arranging; that is what makes the world interesting and what makes it a challenge to find your vocation, but why can't we let others know when we have 'done good' without it being negative? Obviously there is a difference between saying that I am proud of something that I have done, and actually pushing it in your face, but all too often we don't even say that.

If you are reading this post today, I would like it if you could stop by the comments box and just let me and the other readers know one thing that you are proud of that you have done, or one thing that you are good at. Go on, shout it out and then this evening, look at yourself in the mirror and say: 'I am proud of myself because...' or 'I am good at...' and feel good about yourself. That's got to be a good way to start a Friday evening ;-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I would just like to devote a little of my blog space to the outcome of the Michael Jackson trial as a commentary about the society that we live in today.

What do you think, dear readers? Is he truly innocent? Was he guilty? Do we even give a damn? I certainly looked at the fans in tears outside the courtroom and found myself thinking 'Get a grip!' and 'Haven't you got anything better to do?' Yet today's media is all encompassing and there is almost no way to escape it, except living in a log cabin somewhere. It draws you in, it makes you care or at least, like I am doing today, you feel you have to comment on some of the issues that it brings up.

But back to Mr. Jackson briefly... A few of the questions that flitted through my head as I read the closing case were... Is he a dirty little man with a penchant for little boys or simply an easy target for a story hungry media? Is he maybe a misunderstood loner whose closeness and delight in the company of children is an attempt to recapture his own childhood? What do we think about a justice system with an in-built Catch 22, whereby the best chance of 'getting off' involves paying for an experienced legal team, charging up to $500 per person, per hour, and is thereby only a resource for the wealthy. (They estimate that Michael Jackson's legal bill will top $5 million) So your average Joe Bloggs can't afford the legal expertise and it follows that if the state is prosecuting (their legal bill is estimated to top $2,1 million) he has a far greater chance of ending-up picking up soap bars in the shower.

But the other thought that came to mind is that maybe Mr. Jackson is also caught-up in a wider and more troubling trend that for me should be shaking the foundations of our society. With sensational trials coming from the States, UK and Belgium we live in a time where parents are afraid to even let their children come out and play out of fear that some twisted individual will harm them. I was at my old school last week and drove past one of the roads that used to form a run that we called 'The Triangle'. We were sent on that run during sports or early in the morning as a form of punishment. I found out that the run is no longer used as it is outside the school boundary and the school doesn't want to be liable for what could happen! This fear is so all pervasive that in some ways, it touches all men (because unfortunately in 99.99% of cases it is men who are the twisted individuals committing these heinous crimes).

Let us start with the simple statement that I am a 30 year old man; I like children and children like me. Now already for quite a few people, that simple statement has started to make connections, even if only on a humorous level, with something more sinister. Then let's take is a step further... when I am in a supermarket and see a little kid running around, I stop, smile and wave to them. Often the mother will look at me or call the child back, but that isn't the case if my wife does the same thing. So already, because I like kids and think it is fun to make them smile, I am met with a kind of suspicion. Now another question: How many of you reading this would rather have a female babysitter instead of a male babysitter? The sad part about it is that I would also rather have a female babysitter and that is truly a sad reflection of the society we are living in today.

We are afraid to let men near children and as a result, men are losing their naturalness around children and their skills as fathers. We are afraid to let our children run around outside, get fresh air and play in case they are taken away from us. We are afraid to let our children sit inside, in case they get approached by an online paedophile in an internet chat room and worse of all, instead of the mass outcry that should meet these limitation on ours and our children's freedom, we are almost quietly accepting it as a fact of life today, and that, surely, has to be wrong?

And tense... and relax

I have just got back from my physiotherapist's appointment for my knee and my ankle as I have managed to injure them both during the last three months and want to help them recover both their strength and flexibility. After a lengthy consultation, she gave me a set of exercises to do at home and sent me on my way.

I have just started to do the exercises she set me and Oh my God! they are tough. I am in pretty good shape at the moment, but these exercises work all of the small muscles that you don't normally concentrate on and after just a few minutes, I am sweating and my legs are shaking with the effort. If I do this everyday like I am supposed to, I am going to end-up looking like Popeye!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A sense of belonging

I was watching a programme on TV in UK the other day about a famous local (Norfolk) artist. He had left London sometime during the 60's / 70's because he had tired of all the pretensiousness and wanted to get back to his roots in Norfolk (the county where I come from). He was talking about what made Norfolk special for him and I was thinking about the fact that what makes artists different from non-artists is that they 'see' the world and things around them in a different way. He was describing the way he 'saw' Norfolk, the landscape, the coast, the estuaries, the river banks and the big sky. A lot of artists want to paint in Norfolk as the sky is so full of expression and nuances. At one of my favourite beaches, Holkam, I often sit in the tree line that leads onto the beach and look at the vast expanse of sand, that blends into the sea and the sky. In the right light, the coulours are almost indistinguishable, and there is a fine nuance between the sand, the sea and the sky.
The day after I had seen the programme, we were driving around and I was seeing the countryside with new eyes. I felt a deep sense of connection and of peace, looking at the fields and the hedgerows, driving down the small lanes and along the varying coastline and the small and charming coastal villages. We stopped in a village called Salthouse and went to a local 'restaurant' run out of a guy's shed in the back of his garden. There we ate a huge plate of tiger prawns, crayfish, crab and three different kinds of smoked fish. After lunch we went onto the pub, which looks out over a beautiful expanse of marshland, before ending at high shingle banks which lead onto a pebbled beach and the sea.
I sat in that pub garden, drinking a beautiful pint (or two) of beer and just looking out over this wonderful scene and I truly felt at peace. It was almost as if time had slowed down, and with no-where in particular to go, I was able to spend several hours just sitting there and relaxing... and it was while I was doing that, that I suddenly realised that this was in my blood. This is what I miss whilst I am living in Sweden. It is something that is important for me and something that I need to keep coming back to. It reminds me of a piece of writing that Dom found in a Time Magazine and I gave to me when we were in Zimbabwe. When I read it again yesterday, it suddenly all made sense to me...

It went something like this: 'To all things there is a centre. Sometimes it is easy to recognise the paths which lead to it. The centre is a stable base, the perimeter is always in motion. Only at the centre can one find the energy to recharge, for the centre is also the point from which to set out. These meadows had put an end to my flight. They had brought back a surge of memory. I had decided to stay here. My name was Paul...'

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Don’t drink & dry

Hoe hoe hoe…(sorry, but have never exposed myself publicly before and would like to see my name as much as possible)

First of all may I offer my apologies to you all for not having posted anything after Paul’s introduction: so much for being a bestestest mate. In a phone call last night he gave me quite a guilt trip for not keeping his vast population of eager followers entertained, informed & enlightened…so sorry to both of you.

He also gave me a cracking hangover this morning…from all the way from the UK to the UAE: quite some feat:

Whilst on the phone he was having a normal quaff of wine, so as a “sociable drinker” I reached for the nearest bottle…a bottle of port …

I can now pass on to you all, that living in Dubai in June (100 degree heat, humidity & air-con running all night) is the best method I’ve found to date of keeping dehydration levels at a painful level the next morning.

So I do feel I have received my just deserts, and the guilt is fading into a hazy past…

Anyway, I should now enter something wise, witty & wordy…but nothing’s come to mind as yet. So I’ll leave you all safe in the knowledge that the phrase “never again”, to which so many of us are old friends, has once more sneaked up on another unsuspecting victim.

Happy abstinence I wish you all from Dubai (which today I feel should be dry).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Introducing my guest author...

Originally uploaded by Bat21.

Dear readers, I have just completed my last paper for the semester and sent it in to my lecturer and this cat will shortly be leaving the building...

Early tomorrow morning, Ellie and I will fly to UK for the week to celebrate my Mum's 60th birthday with her, the family and friends and to catch-up with everyone over there.

In my absence though, I will not be leaving my blog to gather dust and collect cobwebs. No siree! As you are aware from my utter desolation when they took Scrubs off the TV without warning me, I know how hard it is to suddenly lose something you love, I can sympathise and I have a plan...

I have asked my best friend (yes, you can still have a bestest friend at 30) James, who is currently working in Dubai to step in and guest author my blog for the week and he is prepared to step-up to the challenge.

James and I have known one another for 11 years now, meeting as we both started university at the same time and on the same course. James immediately saw that I drank like a fairy and knew I wouldn't survive long up-North in England if I didn't learn to drink like a coal-miner, so he took charge and over 4 years taught me how to drink a proper beer. James saved my sanity more than once whilst we were working in Germany, performed brilliantly as my Best Man and has been the best friend that one could wish for.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all the way from Dubai, I give you James Hoe...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Happy 60th Birthday, Mum

Originally uploaded by Bat21.

Winging its way straight from Sweden, despite a 1 hours time difference is a massive HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY to my Mum. She will probably be pissed at me for revealing to all of my 5 readers how old she is, but I wouldn't be the dutiful son that I am if I didn't pay her the appropriate tribute on this special day and anyway, since she isn’t connected to the net at the moment, she won’t be able to read what I write ;-)

My Mum is a wonderful person. She has been through a tough old time the last few years, but has come through it strong. She made me proud by getting accepted onto the prestigious Counselling course at the University of East Anglia and made me jealous by getting the opportunity to study under Professor Brian Thorne. She then made me extra proud by completing the challenges and graduating the course. Since then she has been able to use her own compassion and empathy to work on the front line, helping victims of domestic violence.

Mum has always been there for my brother and I, encouraging us to find our own paths and supporting us, whatever we chose and challenging us to do what is necessary to grow as people and achieve all that we can be. That’s a definition of love, when you can take something as precious as your own children and teach them how to fly, even if it means that they will fly away from you one day.

On the marriage side of things, I also have a lot to thank my Mum for. She made sure I was self-sufficient, that I could cook, iron, dust and clean, that I would take my share of the household chores (ok, she didn't entirely succeed when it comes to me piling things about the house, but 4 out of 5 isn't bad!) She also made sure that I was well brought-up and had manners in a world that is gradually losing theirs.

As I grow older, I realise how many aspects of my character and personality and my innate skills come from my Mum and how much I am glad for them. It is no small tribute to her, that in realising what I want to be, in realising where I can best be of service, I will be honouring and using many of the talents that I have inherited from her, and following, in more ways than one, in her footsteps.

I love you Mum & Happy Birthday!