Can’t Teach an Old Blogger New Tricks?

I’ve recently been reading Wild Ducks Flying Backwards; a collection of old articles, poems and short stories written by one of my favourite writers ever – Tom Robbins. It occurred to me that whilst I admit there is not the same international interest in my own historical musings, I did have an old blog on MySpace that was worth investigation – it was slim pickings but here’s the edited highlights:

June 2007
Some mornings before work I cycle around Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham – there are lots of people doing things there too. I ride my nice silver bike – she’s called Pixie – it’s a long and not particularly interesting story involving Frank Black. I try to smile at people and sometimes say hello but I have those headphones that stick right in your ear and so I’m a bit worried about my volume control.

There’s a nice old Indian man who walks round in the opposite direction to me cycling – he always waves and smiles the first time – but doesn’t after that – I think that’s fair – we don’t want things to become awkward.

I saw a rat pretending to be a squirrel the other morning – his tail gave him away.

There’s some boys who do either some sort of martial art training or intense tree-hugging – I can’t work out what it is exactly but they seem to be using the trunk of the tree as a shadow boxing partner – if anybody knows – please tell me! [nobody did]

Couldn’t go out today – too wet and miserable – I know that if I was any kind of hardcore cyclist – a bit of water wouldn’t put me off – but I’m not so I didn’t.

August 2007
Not to state the bleeding obvious but sunny Sunday afternoons are very different from dreary Tuesday mornings. At Cannon Hill Park it’s all bright and colourful and full of happy people doing family things; there were no mozzies sticking to my teeth or flying up my nose, some nice people played music in the bandstand, a huge crowd of exceptionally organised pic-nicers dined out, couples strolled about holding hands. Plus people played cricket with varying degrees of skill – even one family that ventured onto the red-gras area – I’m guessing they were looking to add a little spice of gravelly danger to their afternoon – either that or very confident of their powers of staying upright.

I had a little look round the leafy streets of Edgbaston before hitting the park today. I heard that’s the area in Birmingham with the highest number of house break-ins – that’s a shame for the people who live there but I think if I was a cat/more expensive things burglar I’d head for there.



We bought our property at a commercial buildings auction which was held at Old Trafford – the original one – the Cricket Ground. Having been to a wedding in these grand old rooms overlooking the historic pitch some years ago, I was looking forward to a thrilling cat-and-mouse event involving hand-fans, nods which were as good as winks and Roger Moore eye-brow movements; when we were signposted to the corporate cattle-market rooms, it was clear my mental image needed some adjustment.

Like EBay, all properties have a reserve price which, if not met, the vendor is not obliged to sell; this reserve is mostly not communicated to potential buyers. (This may just be a case of sloppy admin; however I believe it’s all just part of the mind-game mentality that is prevalent in any property transactions and particularly in this auction environment.) Whilst it would seem sensible to me to start the bidding at that reserve price, there’s, no doubt, clever psychology at play when the auctioneer starts things off well below this. The result of this Jedi mind-trick though is somewhat counter-productive as 75% of the properties for sale on the day, didn’t reach their reserve and so didn’t actually sell – thereby wasting the time and energy of the bated-breath bargain hunters who have put in the last bid and quite frankly all of us there on the day.

During the early lots, I spent my time shuffling from one stiletto-heel to the other (have I mentioned that I was expecting something entirely more glamorous?), leaning in an overtly nonchalant way against the Formica partition wall. As our property loomed closer, I felt wriggly inside and out and the potential for sick in my throat was great enough to doubt any audible voice notes might be able to fight their way through, it was fine though because my partner had already told me in no uncertain terms that he would do the bidding: I could concentrate purely on my forced casualness. That and the actual reason we were there in the first place – our lot!

I have no idea what happened in the next few minutes – there was a start point, a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between us and a mystery buyer in the shadowy corners of the room that I suspect was a plant from the property company that we had put the initial offer in with and finally we got it for £500 less than our original offer! Hurrah! We’d fought off the shady competition and the Burton-suited estate agents who’d messed with our heads and finances in the 3-months prior to the auction with irritating details like probate, land registry deeds and property bankruptcy charges. After some paper signing, some pro bono advice from our friendly solicitor friend and a transfer of funds, we got the keys and drove right inside (through the garage door as opposed to an A-Team style celebration wall-crashing) what would become our new home. This is when the Dynamo style mind-bending really started!

Project Blackpool #1

When faced with a relationship journey that has frolicked through the fields of frivolous romance, taken steps down the dark path of lust and passion, turned the corner past casual and headed onto the long and windy Long-term Road, and when the two people concerned both live in one-bedroom bachelor/spinster pads…..

I need to interrupt myself at this point because when I synonym-searched for a substitute to the word spinster, the alternatives offered included: old maid, virgin, bachelor girl, fuddy-duddy, goody-goody, prig, prude, cat lady, bachelorette, hag. The definition of a spinster came up as ‘An old unmarried lady’ or ‘One who spins’, assuming that the latter definition was, in days gone by, usually taken up by the former then it was, at some point, an appropriate term. My experience of spinning nowadays however, includes a brief foray into the hideousness that is exercise bike classes for the physically daft! And whilst taking part, I probably did resemble ‘a hag’, it’s hardly fair to base my whole marital identity on that unfortunate 30 minutes! I’m suggesting that either there needs to be an international campaign to rebrand the ‘s’ word with some cool connotations, or we need to take the task seriously to find an alternative? Urban slang dictionaries are, by their own definition, subjective, inconsistent and liminal however one possibility struck me as a great possibility: “Lily; A Lily is a success at life
Let’s try it out and see if it catches on maybe?

…When the two people concerned both live in one-bedroom bachelor/lily pads, some necessary, yet potentially difficult conversations need to take place.

Many of the necessary, yet potentially difficult conversations that need to take place in our house take the form of a tennis match: One serves what they hope will be an ace of a suggestion for something they want to happen; occasionally the other person doesn’t listen carefully enough or doesn’t care enough to attempt a return shot and so the thing happens and any later complaints are over-ruled by the fact of the earlier ace play. Due to early-relationship-allowances for aces needing to be trickily back-tracked upon now, we live in a state of perpetual readiness for these shots; alert enough to give the immediate repost which will result in that particular ball being smashed out of play permanently. However, mostly these are not forthcoming and so a series of verbal volleys ensues, sometimes with accompanying grunting, groaning and physical exertions. Very rarely do we both meet at the net to bat the idea about from one to the other in a negotiable playful way as if we were at a creative-thinking meeting where a solution to the issue is in the best interests of us all. However, we all must accept the different facets of our lives as equally valid – right?

So, in one of our less combative game/match/conversations we ended up moving from Birmingham and buying a warehouse in Blackpool to convert and live in….