Another alter, this one in the younger temple

Blimey! Has it been over a week already?

A bit cryptic that title, innit? Well, truth to tell, it’s only a working title… I really can not think of a name for this latest piece of drivel… I mean I could go with the classic “What I did on my holidays”… or maybe I could try the not very imaginative “GotoGozo”… I’ll tell you what… I’ll just carry on with this… this… whatever this is… and then if I think of a title I’ll let you know… Sound fair?… Yeah that’s what I thought… 

Actually part of the reason I’m having trouble with the title is because I had all this planned out [Well there’s a first] but due to some magical wi-fi/interweb/roaming issue the photos I was hoping to entice you with [as opposed to the unfunny, dad jokes you usually open with] aren’t available at this present time…

Oh and I had better warn you… Our feline flat mate has taken exception to my laptop being on my lap so this may take a while … and any gibberish you come across will probably be down to her[Yeah, Right!] 

{I’m sorry, did you say something?}

[Nope, yeralright.. gori’aheadwi’ya…. excOO!ooses]

{Are you pissed?}

[Not fully…hic]

{Not fu…. Oh FFS!! Go sober up… I need full fact checking, the TOMT dept, Childhood dreams and … and… }

[Legal?]

{Hopefully not…. But yeah, just in case….}

[I’m on it!! Just let me grab{Leave that!…. I said, leave the bottle… Just… ju…Get out of here and get sober!}]

Now where was I?… Oh yeah, photos… Well, just to whet your appetite I shall give you a quick look at where I; That is Our Hero and his ever amazing Lone Support Angel, went for their holiday/major history fix a week or so ago..

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Yes, that really is all the way around…

I’m not going to insult you by repeating where we visited but I will, before we go any further, encourage you to visit… 

So… where to begin… ?….?….?

The journey out was pretty much uneventful… Nice trip to the magic-flying-metal-bird park… Easy check in… Forced to go through the body scanner because I would rather keep my trousers up using a belt rather than shuffle through security with them swiftly falling around my ankles… Uneventful flight… things start to go loopy as we get to the other end…

We land at about 16:30 and make our way to baggage claim… But hold on! car hire closes at 17:00 so I’ll just run through to get that sorted while LSA grabs our suitcase… Something should have warned me when I said gave our booking details and am told I am late… I continue with the booking as LSA joins usBOOM! “What the Hell was that?” Everybody is ducking and looking out through the windows as a plume of black smoke rises not half a mile from the airport… and then we all just turn back to what we are doing… No panic, no screaming… Just back to sorting out car hire, meeting arrivals, getting coffees… “Was it a bomb? Who cares, where’s my frapacino?” Humans huh?!

“Well, thank you for the car… We’ll see you in a week.”

“No. Tomorrow. At 9:00.”

“What? But we’ve booked the car for the week.”

“Not according to this booking.”

“What? We booked it all through ^Redacted-Legal^ and it’s for the week…”

“Ahh… yeah ^Redacted^ are always doing that… First thing tomorrow call this number and they’ll rectify it for you…”

Welcome to Malta :)… Now, let’s get over to Gozo 🙂 🙂 🙂 And cue a game of hunt the roadsign… Honestly, how difficult would it be to put the directions from the roundabout on the entry rather than at the fucking exit? And while we’re at it, How about cleaning the first sign everybody coming out of the airport will see?

LSA may be regretting this holiday already… Only been here less than an hour and already Our Hero is ranting about the roads, the Maltese drivers and the FECKING CAR!!!  But it was an incredibly uncomfortable car for Our Hero to drive… Pedals too close together forcing left ankle to twist awkwardly, knees rubbing against the steering wheel even with the seat fully back… Oh Glod!!! and it’s a fucking diesel *sob*…

And it’s getting very dark on these unfamiliar roads… Whoa!!   Where did that fucking bend come from?!! Oh look, the ferry… I hope Gozo roads are better than Malta…

and from the Port to Victoria they certainly are… “So where are we going LSA?” “Gharb… or is it l’Gharb… or maybe Arb…” “So where’s that?… ” Cue lots of wrong turns and calling the B&B to find where we are staying…

And here it is…

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Ladies and Gentlemen… Ta’ Matmura B&B

Let’s just fall into this comfortable bed and start all the history hunting tomorrow… 🙂

Tomorrow starts at 5am with the planets noisiest bird colony and what turns out to be about a million “hunters”… Yes, they do deserve the parenthesis because blasting birds the size of golf-balls out of the sky using a twelve bore shotgun isn’t really hunting… It’s illegal throughout Europe but the Maltese/Gozians claim exemption as part of their cultural heritage… Yeah, I’m not going there…

Now I fully understand the reasons our hosts don’t supply tea making facilities in the rooms but as LSA will corroborate, I am not good before my first cuppa and air-freshener… Wake me before the sun on the first day of my holiday and I’m one wrong word away from needing the lovely white canvas jacket with long sleeves…

Luckily for me (and probably most of down-town Gharb) we are welcomed into the dining room with a delicious breakfast and REAL TEA! Not Twinnings English Breakfast but REAL TEA 🙂

A leisurely breakfast (with fantastic scrambled eggs) later and we are ready to explore… Right, lets get to grips with this matchbox car…  I swear, I need a second knee (on a right angle to the current one) in my left leg to drive this thing… Victoria, here we come!

Oh wow, we’re here… But I can still see l’Gharb in my rear-view mirror! Oh well, lets find a parking space… A puddle filled football pitch, in the centre of town, for €1.50 all day? Don’t mind if I do…

[Are we going to get a minute by minute account of every day?]

{You’re  probably right… This should probably be more of a personal impressions piece… After all Gozo isn’t really that big (well the bit that we were in wasn’t; though one couple that were staying in the same B&B claimed they had walked around the whole island in one day) and if I do go day by day all the unlucky reader is going to get is “wentherelookedatthat wenttherelookedatthis” and even I’m not that cruel – or boring}

So let’s try this a little differently… There will still be a bit of wentheresawthis but that can’t be helped…

I will try not to sound like a snob… pull me up on it if I do… because I know that living and working where I do I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to Heritage Preservation, Interpretation and Presentation… Add to that my own expectations, privileges and historical knowledge… but I have to congratulate the Maltese/Gozitian heritage/tourism sector… when you consider the relative wealth of Gozo compared to the UK… the cultural differences…  the dominance of the Catholic Church within society and the current economic climate… they have certainly endeavoured to entice and enchant their visitors… at most of the sites at least…

If you are doing an historical tour of a place then there are obviously sites you wish to visit… I mean you don’t sit down to plan your trip and go… “Oh lets go to Wakanda and see if they’ve got some historic things just laying about”… No, you do some research… You say to yourself “Where have I always wanted to visit?” and you go from there… Well I have, for as long as I’ve known of them, wanted to visit the Ggantija Temples on Gozo… So let us go there… Or rather, let us go visit the Citadella and save the Temples for tomorrow because looking at this map, they are miles away and it will take us forever to get there… And there we go with my preconceptions… Gozo would easily fit inside the London Orbital Motorway (M25) [Indeed according to a couple of websites I’ve just visited…]

{You visited?}

[And who else pray? Five Year Old Self?]

*did someone call… because… CAT!!!*

{Great, now look what you’ve done… I’m going to have him badgering me all the way through this now…}

[I wouldn’t worry about it, he’s too busy playing with your four-legged flat mate… But yes, to answer your question, it was I that did the web-search… and according to the top three sites I checked Gozo is about the same size as the part of the City that you live in… In fact if you think about it it took you longer to go from your home to the supermarket last week than it did going from your B&B to the port on your last day… and that’s with accounting for traffic or lack thereof… Just saying]

So OK, Our Hero and LSA had miscalculated the distances they would need to cover during their trip but we had planned our days very carefully and saw no need to change those plans

Tell you what, how about a few photos while I change the music and grab a cuppa…

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Just some of the phases of the Citadella

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Goddesses brought from the Ggantija Temples

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Lone Support Angel doing bird

Now one of the reasons we wished to visit the Citidella, beyond it’s own historical significance of course was the fact that it houses a number of small museums…

And the first one we entered was? The Archaeology one of course 🙂

 

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How a fish would see the trap… If the fish were flying vertically through a room

The islands have a very long and sometimes quite turbulent history [Where doesn’t?] but suffers from being ignored for much of that history… Gozo in particular has never been either strategically or economically important enough for most of history’s superpowers to treat it with anything more than benevolent indifference… As a consequence, the people have pretty much just got on with life… I don’t mean to be dismissive here, but when (during most of it’s history) the entire population could and did fit inside the Citadella, the importance that population is going to represent to Classical Greece, Carthage, Rome and the Northern European Empires is negotiable…

Having said that, the different occupying groups did each leave enough of an impression on the island and it’s inhabitants to give it it’s own unique culture… and the tiny Archaeological museum reflects that perfectly… Charting the history of the islands in a small number of artefacts and unbiased interpretations… Indeed the lack of bias in the historical reporting was rather refreshing… Yes, there was a larger focus on the Christian (particularly Catholic) heritage but the superior attitude prevalent towards the Romans, or the sneeringly apologetic representation of the influence of Islam that can be observed in other nations is not in evidence here… The entire purpose of the exhibits appeared to me to convey a simple message… “These people (be they Pagans or Muslims, Roman merchants or The Knights Hospitaliers) were here, here’s some artefacts to prove it, but don’t think that that is all we are”

There are six museums* inside the Citadella… As well as a number of shops selling traditional craft-work (Silver and Lace) as well as the HUGE church and the wall walks and abandoned houses… as you may imagine, in a structure smaller than the average top flight football stadium, things are kinda on top of each other and a bit cramped… But on that first day we did three of the museums and the shops, as well as the new interactive exhibition space in the undercroft… All of them were informative and amusing for a pair of tired old history buffs like us… The weather wasn’t particularly kind to us on that first day… Just as we had found a nice table on the piazza St George the heavens opened, forcing us to move further under the umbrellas… just long enough to order our food before the rain found gap between the umbrellas… and it’s “can we have another table?”… inside and up the tightest spiral staircase ever onto the mezzanine above the bar… followed by another move (just as our food arrived) so that a party of eight wouldn’t have to sit a table set for three… “Here, have our table so now the eight of you can sit at two tables together set for five”

Lunch was followed by a siesta back at the B&B that lasted longer than anticipated… Cue day two….

Today we do what we came here for…. But first to find it… Our Hero has adapted quite well to the idiosyncrasies of Gozitian driving now and LSA has solved the puzzle of directions (namely if the road sign doesn’t direct you to turn off then just keep going straight) which works well up to a point… and parking? well that appears to be just pull in anywhere… Today it’s the twin temples at Ggantija… When we eventually find it behind the coach park we can see that quite a bit of money has been spent on the visitor centre/museum… and it is appreciated… well by us anyway… maybe not so much by the German tour groups that have got a total of twenty minutes at the site… including gift shop!!! twenty minutes? I spent that in the first room of the museum!!

I’m not sure where the originals of the famous goddess’ sculptures are held and nowhere did it say so, though I do have my suspicions… But unless there were dozens of them, each an exact replica of the rest, then I suspect both the ones we encounter today as well as the ones we saw in the Archaeology museum yesterday, are all copies… Not that I care… for copies or not they are beautiful… And judging from the facial reconstruction of one of the original temple users, so were the people that made them… But let us step outside the dimly lit, air-conditioned splendour and see the Oldest Free-Standing Structure in the World for ourselves…

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Not very impressive from the back

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Lone Support Angel welcomes me into the home of the Goddess’

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The alters in a side chamber

Now I could go off on one here about how much I hate antiquarians… Yes, I know that they are the fore-runners of today’s archaeologists but I just can’t forgive them for their attitudes towards our physical heritage… So much has been lost to the treasure seekers of the past… But that is all I’m going to say on the subject…

I do wish though that modern archaeologists and engineers could come up with a way to ensure the Ggantija temples remain standing and safe while removing the ugly scaffolding…

I know it is needed to prevent stones that weigh up to 50 tonnes, that have stood here since before Stonehenge was even a gleam in its architects eye… But a lot of money went into building the visitors centre and the security for the temples but surely something can be done to prevent any further damage or loss beyond that which has occurred since the Governor of the island made convicts demolish most of the structure in the 19th century…

I’m not saying the scaffolding makes it look too much like a building site to fully appreciate the structure but I feel the casual visitors would not get the most of of their experience…

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Another alter, this one in the younger temple

 

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The smaller temple in all it’s glory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now we have seen the temples… and my head is abuzz with theories and possible paintings… so let us venture forth to the windmill… via the world’s smallest gift shop…

The windmill on Gozo is the last of it’s kind… dating back to the early 18th century… Today it’s a “folk museum”… That is a museum that focuses on the lives of the general populous rather than military or religious rulers… and we love it…

We have been on Gozo for about 48 hours and we are hooked…

[Boss? Boss?! BOSS!!]

{What?}

[We have a problem… Have you seen how much you’ve said so far?]

{About 2 days worth…}

[Boss, you are at nearly 3000 words…]

{So?}

[So don’t you think people might be getting bored?]

{I doubt anybody’s actually doing anything more than skimming through looking at the pictures, to tell you the truth…}

[Well I just think you should be considering wrapping it up…]

{But I’m only on day two…}

[Then write a follow up…]

{Will people go for that, do you think?}

[they did with Pompeii and The Wall… I don’t see why not… I mean you’ve still got a lot to cover… the Salt pans.. The Natural history museum… The…{yes, alright… don’t tell them everything now… OK, I’ll do it…} Good idea… I’ll just let the rest of the crew know…]

He does have a pint dear reader… [Oi!] Sorry, I meant point… well that was a slip wasn’t it 😉 … So while LSA and Our Hero settle down to a pastizzi or two before going on the hunt for Ninu’s Cave, I shall bid you all farewell…

If you really want to follow our further adventures on Gozo come back in a couple of days… but for now…

Seeya xx

Oh… Before you go… How about a photo of the windmill?

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Inside the reconstructed top floor

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Don Quiote was nowhere in sight…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In no particular order:

  1. Archaeology
  2. Natural History
  3. The Old Gaol
  4. The Courts (still in use)
  5. The Folk Museum (cultural/reconstructed period)
  6. The Cathedral

 

Four extra feet…

This may come as a surprise to you dear reader but I am not the constantly grumpy, rage filled ranter that most people think I am. I know, it’s shocking isn’t it?! Truth be told I don’t even know where that reputation came from. Oh alright yes I do. I created it. Created it, nurtured it, revelled in it and will probably continue to do so for many years to come, revealing my true squishy inner me only to those I choose to… But only in small doses, we don’t want to confuse people after all.

One aspect of this ogre persona has been the constant and (sometimes quite vehement) aversion to animals… Not all animals of course, I’ve always had a soft spot for wolves and bears for instance… And sloths can be quite endearing when they are not covered in crap…

Actually I don’t really have a problem with animals… At least not when they are in their natural habitat.. It’s the domesticated and semi-domesticated ones that cause my cognitive dissonance… Previous victims of this spam-filter evader will remember the encounter of the bovine kind during our hero’s epic Wall adventure… and if you have had the dubious pleasure of meeting my despicable self in the world beyond the screen then you may have heard a number of “humorous” anecdotes I have recounted over the years regarding sheep, goats, cats and on one occasion swans…

But why am I rambling? [We were wondering.]

It’s this cognitive dissonance thing… You see I quite like animals but I feel bad about “owning” them… This has been brought home to me this past week… All because of this lovely specimen…

 

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Say Hello Millie

Millie came into our home about two weeks ago… Suffice to say that Lone Support Angel and myself are very happy sharing our home with her but here is where that weird thinking comes in…

You see, Millie is a rescue cat… An eight year old rescue cat… An eight year old rescue cat that spent most of her life with one person… We are her third home since her previous “owner” passed… Her first stop along the way to us was in a home with young children and she was not happy… The second was with a foster family and while I believe she was happy there she was forced to share the space with more than one representative of more than one species and that wasn’t entirely to her taste… and so we “adopted” her… She is now in her forever home… But does she know this? How’s that for a question to keep you awake at night… Does your animal companion know that they are with you forever?

But here’s the thought that has been trying to rob me of sleep for the past week or more… Imagine you are between 45 and 50, you have spent most of your life living with a being that doesn’t speak your language… It may not be ideal but over time you have adapted (and so have they) to a greater or lesser degree… You have developed coping mechanisms and routines that allow you to function… You may even be happy (for a given value of happy)… And then your world ends… Overnight, the only life you have ever known is cruelly ripped away from you… You are forcibly removed from your home and dropped into an entirely new environment… and then it happens again… and again… So now you find yourself in an alien world, with more beings that don’t speak your language… don’t really know anything about you… They don’t really know what you like to eat (though they do the best they can)… They don’t know your habits, or your fears, your preferred way of expressing affection or your favourite toy… You are lost, probably grieving, and completely at the mercy of these aliens…

Oh they do try to make you feel welcome… They feed you, they provide hygiene facilities and they try not to overwhelm you with new smells, noises, physical contact but they cannot help it…

Now I realise I am anthropomorphising slightly here but c’mon it’s a cat… You can’t tell me that all cats are the same… They’ve all got their own personalities… They could pass for human… Well, almost… If they wanted to lower themselves to…

So maybe it’s not so strange that I’m having these thoughts… Cats get under your skin… they get into your head… They certainly inveigle their way into your heart… You have no choice but to worry about them…

Lone Support Angel has mentioned a couple of times that having Millie here is like having a flatmate rather than a pet… and I have to agree with her… Millie isn’t a lap cat… And so far she is still apprehensive around us…  Part of the problem, I think, is that we don’t know how she likes to be fussed and she doesn’t feel secure enough in her situation here to fully open up (I’m anthropomorphising again aren’t I?)… We don’t really know what she wants when she comes screaming/singing into the bedroom at 4.15 AM… Nor do we fully understand the rules of the paper ball game; are we supposed to flick it away when she fetches the scrunched-up envelope back to our feet, are we supposed to congratulate/fuss her? We’ve tried both and her responses have been ambivalent to say the least…

And another thing… Why do we infantilise our quadruped companions? I’ve found myself talking to this cat as if she’s a baby… We have started to refer to each other as Mummy and Daddy (only when we are talking to her of course, it’s not like we have gone completely gaga)… It may have something to do with her being tiny… Mind you I have heard  Entertainments Officer treat his feline (who is at least twice the size of our Millie) with the same attitude and tone of voice…

[Is this actually going anywhere, or should I get ready to ship this off on the Waffle to Lower Rambling train?)

{Erm… Ah… Er… Actually, D’ya know what… I’d check the timetable on that line…}

[So this is another of those pointless train of thought things then? You didn’t actually have a point to make? You are just wasting your readers’ precious time, making them sit through this, you do know that don’t you?]

{Why are you being so stroppy? I did start out with a vague idea but it kinda… well… it just kinda drifted away from me…}

[Did you learn nothing after seven years of university? Did you do a plan?]

{A plan? This isn’t an essay. It’s a puff piece about a cat}

[A rescue cat. A cat with her own history. A tiny bundle of emotions and demands; idiosyncrasies and tastes, that has changed your life in subtle but quite profound ways. You can’t just let it fizzle out.]

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[Where did you go? Hey, you’ve left your tea… What’s going on? Did I miss something?]

..

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[Oh, OK… I’ll Just… ah… I’ll turn the lights of then shall I?]

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[Well goodnight then folks, he’s down there flicking a ball of scrunched up paper about the floor for Millie to chase. I need a drink.]

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[Oh, By the way, he got his degree. He won’t mention  it but he got quite a good one. We’re all rather proud of him around here, but don’t tell him. He gets all grumpy and dismissive if people bring it up. Night then.]

 

Here, have some pointless bollox…

I’ve done it again… I’ve had an idea for one of my occasional rants and as soon as I’ve opened the site my brain stops…

I mean, I usually write these things to clear out the brain fog that comes with writing an essay but the essays I’ve had to write over the past few months have created fogs that are too impregnable… which has meant two things have happened… One (1) You haven’t had this sort of drivel filling up your inboxes and my essays have got even worse than before… 🙂

[So, where is this going?]

{I don’t know yet… I did say… Don’t you even read these things before coming in here, sleeves rolled up, chomping that foul smelling cigar, getting whiskey over everything?}

[Read them? Why would I read them? It’s not like they are real literature or reporting, is it? Just the rantings of a middle-aged wannabe hippy.]

{You’re my inner editor, for crying out loud!}

[*Sigh* I know. That’s probably why I drink.]

{Oh just… ‘k off! Koff! Cough! Sorry, tickly throat}

~Legal here sir. Can we just have a word with you about this image that has just arrived in my inbox? It’s not too clear but it appears to be of a bald white man, laughing as he urinates out of a Rolls Royce window onto lines of people in wheelchairs, outside foodbanks? At least, I think he’s urinating, the light in here is a bit..~

{Um…}

[I’ll just go deal with this shall I? You just get back to…. Whatever…]

Actually, that image… Well let’s just not go there with that image but I think I know why it suddenly arrived… And no! Not because my inner editor looks like Iain Dunkedin~Legal here sir. All of the screens in our office have just started filling up with the phrase “Work Shall Make You Free” on a repeating loop. Could you get hold of Technical for me?[I’d leave him for now, he looks like he’s on a roll.]-top desk. It’s quite a good film. Much better than the remakes of course. So yeah, him. Or you might know him from Ar…. Ahhhh er… What was I saying? You really shouldn’t let me wander off like that… You really don’t want me just wandering around down any old mental pathway… I mean, every.. I dunno… maybe every two out of three ain’t bad but what happens if we end up in “Holidays with my family”… or “Saturday nights in Helsinki?” … Christ! we could run into that thing with the bananas, the wok and the three feet of green string!!! I mean, yeah they both agreed it was fun at the time… Especially when we brought in the Swarfega™ but I’m sure… and anyway, arms aren’t meant to ben… $Technical here sir.

We’ve sorted out the screens in legal… There may be a slight smell of gas for a while but it should dissipate soon… Are you OK in here sir? Only those walls look a funny colour… and that deckchair is looking a mite worried…$

{What? Oh yes I’m fine. I’m just a bit dazed…}

$And confused if you ask me sir. I’m not sure you’re allowed to do that with a ripe pomegranate sir, and what has that young lady got in her ha{Thank you. That will be all for now.} $Right you are sir. I’ll just go and… er… Just go…$

{Yes thank you…. Could you just pop the light on as you go? I’ll just clear away these photos…}

{Yes? What is it now?}If…

~Sorry sir. I’ve just brought in the three safest topics for you this week sir. Sorry they’re a bit late sir. We’ve had to reject quite a few.~

{Right. OK. Thank you.}

So ,what do we have here?

  • My Job (and how much I love it). Oh please. As if I’d ever write anything like that.
  • Winterwatch. Hmmmm maybe… actually, that could be a killer…
  • Queen (and how they rock my world) Ooh right. I’m that bloody predictable am I? Mind you, they do help me to keep on passing the open windows…

Right so, all I’m safe to write about isHello. what’s this?

  • If completely lost: Some mawkish drivel about some imaginary misplaced childhood interspersed with gushing tributes to Lone Support Angel…

Well really! I’ve a good mind to go in there and%DEEP Storage Here Sir.

You Asked Us To Alert You Any Time Someone Put In A Request For “Bizarre Behaviour Around Old Ladies”. Well, Legal Just Put A Rush Request For Years Three Through To Eight. With A Special Urgent For Year Twenty Three. It Says Here ‘Special Emphasis: New Years Eve 1994′. Do You Want Us To Upload It Sir?%

{…K! No! I mean, no. No, thank you. That’s actually a mistake. I’ll sort it.}

Excuse me a moment, dear reader… I’ve just got to… Go and… … … TEA! Yes, that’s it. Tea. I’m just going to go refresh… I shall be but a moment..

..

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{RIGHT! YOu fu

.*Whap!* *THUNK!*

.

.and those… no… the Red

.

… SHOES!!!

.

.now put those…

for those!!! and don*SLAM!*

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.

Sorry about that delay, but I really needed a… Yeah you don’t need to know that… TEA! Yeah, I needed a tea… Got it now 🙂 Did you get something? No? Well maybe afterwards… As a memento…

So what was I going to write? Actually do you know what? I sort know what I was going to write but the more I thought about it the more I realised it would just be another middle-aged, disheartened, old fart just moaning on and on about how shit things are nowadays…

I mean let’s walk this way… we are heading back into earlier this week… Please keep your brass in pocket and don’t step on the cracks… Lone Support Angel and I were watching some thing or other on the idiot box the other night… Something about foxes and wind I think it was… I know it involved some freezing people sitting in the rain talking about eagles and stuff… I don’t know what they were wittering on about… I’m a city kid…

So yeah, on this program they were talking about how wooded hillsides retain up to 63% more water than bare hillsides… and they weren’t just waffling about it, they were specialists talking to specialists… and these people are sitting there say how if you plant lots of trees you get less flooding… Quite simple really… But that no matter how many times the people in power are told nothing gets done… See, it just stupid isn’t it…

The following night these same people are talking about some white rabbit or was it a hare? (Like I said, City kid)… Now this white jumpy thing is everywhere up there… Or maybe it isn’t… You see, they just don’t know… Nobody has ever really counted… But, and here’s the thing that rattled my chain, there are rules in place to control their numbers…

I’m just going to repeat that… We don’t know how many there are but there are rules in place to control their numbers!!! And why is that? Because these hares like to live in the same place as grouse… That’s right, one of the chattering class’ favourite things to terminate with extreme prejudice… So we have huge tracts of land that are not allowed to be forested and people allowed to slaughter animals of an unknown base number simply so that people with 100 year dress sense and something missing in their souls can drunkenly blast innocent creatures out of the sky…

And when these morons are not doing this? Well, they are poisoning our water or bombing children or blaming the homeless for causing the financial “crash”…

See I told you this would end up as a boring farts rant… Sorry… I’ll try to lighten up a bit….

So… Read any good books lately? Really? … And it’s good is it?

Actually, that reminds me… Is it possible to have too many books? And what would you say is a good ratio? You know what I mean? Nobody wants to look at a set of shelves and see just one subject matter do they? Well obviously Solicitors and Doctors do but they’re weird… and anyway, that’s only for the old nine to five… No I’m talking at home… I mean, I’ve got no problem if people categorise their shelves but how do you divide[ation… Right that’s it…. Oh god he’s gone off on one again… Didn’t you give him the safe topics? OK well somebody get a cup of tea ready for him… Come over here you…

Sorry about this folks. His version of normal service will be restored shortly… Just talk amongst yourselves…]

{No, no I’m fine… honestly… But what ratio graphic to non-graphic novel? Really, think about these things…}

Actually I think that’s it… I think I am going to sign off now… I really don’t have anything interesting to say anyway… But then I think you have already worked that out…

See Y’all x

The Final Goodbye… When will I be able to?

Hello again lovely people…

Yes, you guessed it, your spam filter has failed again and let me through…

So are you ready? Shall we get started? Oh, you want to get a drink first? Well I don’t blame you… Best make it a large one, this could get mawkish…

As usual I don’t know where I’m going to go with this… Indeed I don’t even know where I’m going to start…

No honestly… Where to start?

.

..

I know what I want to talk about… In a general sort of way… A vague notion… Sort of…

So… Well… Yeah, um…

Oo! How about this? My beautiful Lone Support Angel bought me a lovely, thoughtful, beautiful and very much appreciated gift way back in June of this year…It arrived this week…

No, don’t go! I promise this isn’t going to be another of my delightful rants about the inefficiencies of retailers and/or delivery companies, rest easy… Well maybe have another sip of whatever it is you have in that glass… What is that by the way? Actually, I don’t want to know… Just, please, avoid using heavy machinery while you are on it…

So the reason it only arrived this week is because this week is when it came out… And if you know me in real life then you can probably guess what it is…For those that aren’t so cursed I had better reveal that it was a special limited edition of the latest Discworld novel… Wow, I’ve been saying “latest” for so long that it just slipped out… I suppose I should say it is the last…

I’m sorry, I’m having real trouble writing this… Not for the usual reasons of lack of anything interesting to actually say or because I’m too hippied to see straight… I just keep drifting off into reverie…

*weeeeeeee! are we gonna do the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff?*

{No. Besides, I’m sure that that phrase is copyrighted. You just sit there and let me get this done without you and the rest of the idiots butting in.}

*aw, but you said the words that make the screen go all wavy and blurry. i love it when that happens becoz the next fing you no is you is back in time. and you might see disonaurs and romans and evryfing.*

{Sorry Little Dude but this isn’t one of those stories, this one is more about my history than the stuff I study. Maybe next time I will tell you about the fun stuff…}

I think it might help you to know why I still have trouble processing the last Discworld novel… not the words… the object… the book itself…

You see, I have been a huge fan of the Discworld and it’s Creator for a very long time, almost since the very first book was published… *

I wasn’t the first in my family to discover The Disc. My older brother had that honour and it was through him that the denizens of Ankh-Morpork, the Witches of Lancre and, a particular well travelled Wizzard began to enter my conciousness… I didn’t jump straight onto the Disc though, I sidled into it’s orbit slightly less gracefully than Corporal Nobbs enters Capt. Carrot’s office in search of the tea-kitty… In the early ’90s I found my brother’s copy of Good Omens** and proceeded to devour it in about three hours; after sitting breathless, aching and tear-streaked for about an hour, trying to process what I had just read and still giggling at the jokes***. I rushed out and snapped up the first three novels that afternoon… You could say that I was hooked from that very first moment…

Hooked? Did I say hooked? I think I should say that I immersed myself in the the environs of the Disc at every opportunity … I wanted to live there… I couldn’t get between those pages enough… I’m sure I’m not the only one that has walked into a bookshop or library with that tiny wish that this time I will find the passage through L-Space…

I have, over the years, experienced the Discworld through lots of different media  I have played the games, watched the TV adaptions, directed (and had a walk-on part in) Wyrd Sisters; I own dried frog pillboxes, Dwarf Bread and an Ankh-Morpork passport (among lots of other wonderful things that fans and friends of The Creator have produced over the years)… I even went (with Lone Support Angel) to the 2006 convention – that was quite a bitter sweet event actually… I got to meet The Creator for the second time (joy) though I did get a bit tongue-tied and gushing fanboyish when I tried to invite him to see our production of Wyrd Sisters… Unfortunately my lovely Lone Support Angel was taken violently ill during the Gala Dinner and while I was arranging an ambulance for her somebody swiped our commemorative shot glasses from our table… we never did get back to the convention as L.S.A. spent the next three days in hospital with very serious food-poisoning… The lovely people behind the convention did try to replace the stolen shot glasses for us but nothing ever came of it 😦

Sorry, got a bit side-tracked there…

Where were we?

Oh yeah… the books… the books were something special… The anticipation of a new one, the excitement when we found out whether it would be a Rincewind, or a Witches, or a Watch novel… or if this time it would be something completely new… Of course, like many of PTerry’s fans, I shared the books with other members of my family… I shared the Disc with my late father… Indeed, the only books I ever saw my father read were Discworld… Not that my father didn’t read anything else it’s just that this series was the only one my father and I would not only have hours long conversations about, but would display the same giddy excitement about the new one… Whenever I was out with my father and he was forced to use his wheelchair we would joke that he should be referred to as Windle Poons… I think that if I had ever been able to find a true bath-chair for my old man he would’ve quite happily kitted it out with all the bells and whistles Poons’ “Great Toe-Crusher” displayed (and probably blades on the wheel-hubs 😉 )…

*i miss the old man*

{So do I Big Man. So do I}

So now we come to the purpose of this blog… [Purpose? Does this thing have a purpose? I thought we were heading {Do NOT finish that sentence! I have already warned people that this one may get mawkish… Of course, that’s assuming anybody is still reading it… Hello? is there anybody out there?… Look, just butt out of this one ok…} Yeah OK…]

And so The Shepherds Crown arrived this week (last week actually, yes it has taken me that long to write this…) and now I am facing a dilemma… I have books to finish… I have other books to read… I have this burning desire to read it but I also know that this will be the final goodbye… Can I actually bring myself to actually say goodbye?

The Discworld has been a huge part of my life for so very long now…

Lone Support Angel asked me if the reaction I am having was similar to when the greatest musical influence on my life passed… I honestly don’t know… I know that when my musical hero died I played his albums non-stop for about three weeks… and I was lucky in that there was more stuff he had recorded and that that was released posthumously… Yes I know technically this book was released post-vitality but it’s not the same…

In reading this final book I will never be able to pick up a new one… I will never be able to get it signed… I will never be able to thank The Creator for his words and his magic…

I know I will read it… I must… I need to know how it all ends…

I just don’t know when…

This may sound strange but while there were still books “coming soon” I could imagine that I still had a connection with my late father… I know he would never read them but it was a way to keep him with me for just a little longer… Don’t get me wrong, I grieved for my father a long time ago but the magic of the Disc was something we shared and now even that tenuous link has gone…

So maybe I should treat the book as a plaster and rip it off… save myself the pain of the slow removal… just get stuck in…

I have tried… I have pulled the book from it’s slip-case… I have seen which number of the 5000 it is… I just can’t actually turn that first page…

I will… Just… Not yet…

I did warn you that this could get mawkish… Maybe I should have said it would also get maudlin…

Maybe I’ll hold off until my B’day? Maybe until Yulemas? It may well be that I suddenly find the strength to open it tomorrow…

I’ll let you know…

*The Colour of Magic (TCoM) first published in the UK 1983.

** Good Omens first published 1990

***not a particularly elegant sentence but hopefully readable 😉

Clearing out the cobwebs…

As most of you know I am a bit of a fan of the fantastic HBO show Game of Thrones… Such a fan in fact that it has become a Monday night ritual for myself, Lone Support Angel and The Entertainments Officer to gather around the Idiot Box (craving satisfiers to hand) each and every week… and woe betide anyone or anything that interrupts this little get together…

According to the media (primarily print media) Game of Thrones has achieved the status of “Phenomenon”. A title that the newspapers like to attribute to a programme or cultural aspect that has hit the Zeitgeist at just the right time*… Actually I think GoT has reached the even rarer niche of “Global Phenomenon”… Or as I tend to translate it when I read that phrase in certain newspapers… “A product that is enjoyed by a lot of people in the U.S and Britain and we understand by some of the better educated inhabitants of our former antipodean colonies…”

And that’s another thing… [Oh God, he’s already hit the first tangent… Are we ready for this?] ~Legal are on it sir. We have the “Allegedly” stamp inked and ready and have set up an automatic “Real Names Converter” on his visual/typing interface~

{What are you lot up to?}

[Nothing. Just clearing out some cobwebs. Look, here’s my duster.]

{What?}

[Duster. For cobwebs. Like in the title?]

{What’s he up to, over there?}

[Legal? Oh he’s just clearing out some old boxes… Not stuff we need… Tort Law… Lyrics of songs by Madonna… Dates of the Wars of the Roses… That sort of thing…]

{WHAT? Don’t throw those out you idiot… I need some of them…}

[Oh we’re not throwing them out sir… We are just moving them to other departments…]

{Like where?}

[Various places]

{WHERE?}

[Well, Tort Law is being moved from “I must find out what that is one day” to “Life’s too short” though there does be quite a lack of space in there the past few years… Madonna songs is being uploaded into “Earworms” more specifically, the 2.30am slot… And Dates of the Wars of the Roses is going to… ah yes, “TOTT”]

{TOTT?}

[Yes, Tip-Of-The-Tongue Dept.]

{Oh OK…I think… Do you have to put Madonna in “Earworms”?}

[She’s next up on the rotation…]

{Well I suppose so… I look forward to that… }

Where was I? Oh yeah… *i’ve got embrassing memry’s 1982-4 prepped and ready to go* {What was that?} [Nothing sir. Nothing. Just a mis-communication. -Not now you muppet, he doesn’t need to know about those… They are only to be used in an emergency…- Sorry about that sir… I’ll just go and… go and… go…]

Of course when I talk about the print media I am only talking about those published in the UK… Not that I actually read any newspapers.. I read the occasional article online but would never actually hand over a penny of my hard earned per diems to the lie-mongers… As you may know, we have a two-tier newspaper tradition in the UK… We have the rags for the proles and the “Broadsheets” for the intelligentsia (or those that like to think they are)… As I said, I don’t read most of the papers but I doubt that the rags have covered GoT very much… reasons for this are many and varied but probably because GoT has not been proven to give you cancer, nor has it been smuggled into the country by “illegal immigrants”… It hasn’t had a story-line in which “the people’s princess” has descended from heaven to show them the error of their ways… It’s too intelligent for most of their readers even if it does have a pleasing number of potential “page three political commentators”… As for the Broadsheets… Well the readers of one or two probably watch it and cream themselves dreaming of the day they can legally own slaves again or, at the very least, wish to return to days when they can properly return to acting like a lord of Westeros without this disgusting Human Rights Act getting in the way of treating your staff and family like shit… Another probably cannot get off the fence long enough to turn on the TV… and that leaves us with the “Earnest One”…

[Hold on a minute, this wasn’t going to be a blog about the Grauniad…]

{I know, I just got side-tracked… I’ll get back to my point… Just give me a bit of leeway…}

[OK, but I’ll just get Legal on hold…]

{If you must}

The reason I brought up the Grauniad is because of this article. I read that earlier this week and thought… Yes you’ve raised some interesting points but I do believe you’ve missed quite a few too… GoT is Fantasy. You can tell if you know where to look… (I know I’m stating the obvious here but it does help to keep these things in mind). Right so it’s a fantasy, but it is also, I believe, practically the only show that has portrayed feudal societies in the realest way… Much as we like to romanticise Medieval Europe it wasn’t a nice place to live… Somebody once said that for the majority of our history human lives have been dirty, brutal and short… and for the most part this is true. GoT is set in a fictionalised version of Medieval Europe, a time and place that has been popular with fantasy writers since Geoffrey of Monmouth… There are hundreds of fantasy novels out there if you want a sanitised version of this period… Want the good guys to always wear white and win? Read LoTR. Want more dragons? Read Dragonlance. Want more magic? Read Harry Potter. How about Great Heroes and lots of clashing blades but with a bit more dirt and violence? Gemmel is the writer for you… Want to know what life was like for ordinary people and how brutally violent it really has been for women for the majority of the time humans have been a distinct species (but with added Dragons and White Walkers)? Watch/Read GoT.

I was originally going to write a rebuttal to the above linked article (and quite a few others that I have read) in this blog but then I read this one and I realised I didn’t really have a lot to add…

I will say that part of the problems with the criticism of GoT is that we watch it with a 21st century mindset… And why wouldn’t we? We are (well a lot of us are) living in the 21st Century… And I’m not saying that you need a degree in Medieval History to fully appreciate the programme… I’m just saying that; Yes, it would be nice if the people inhabiting the GoT universe had access to people to help with the inevitable PTSD of being involved in the Battle of Blackwater… Or how about a branch of Relate being made available to Sansa and Ramsay..? Or maybe Tyrion Lannister getting in touch with the Campaign for Equal Heights to help him with all his tormentors..?

Hate to ruin it for you folks but that isn’t going to happen… We cannot… or rather, we should not, project our societal mores and prejudices onto a programme that is based within an entirely alien (to us) culture… Westeros is not London or New York in 2015… it is a thousand years away from that…

[Is that it? Are you finished?]

{Yeah, I think so…}

[OK. I’ll just get some of these boxes cleared and let Legal know that they can stand down…]

{Actually… I’ve got a couple more ideas…}

[-Shit!, Inner 5 Year Old, get those boxes of “Childish Ambitions” ready, we may need to bring out the big guns!- Sorry, sir… Carry on… we’ll just be over here if you need us…]

Before I sign off I just want to share a quick anecdote…

At work yesterday I had a real ego boost… In a good way too…

A couple of weeks ago one of our visitors brought in a piece of flint that they had spotted amid the gravel path that leads to our site… When it first arrived I gave it a quick perusal but as we were busy at the time it was placed on a shelf and forgotten until yesterday until one of my colleagues brought it out to examine… these days, when questions of specific periods or artefacts are brought up, some of my colleagues look to me for answers (don’t ask me why, I don’t know)… So here I am examining this “artefact” and giving  my not-at-all-expert opinion on what it is… is it worked? Is it natural? If it is man-made, what was it for? The usual questions… My theory is; Yes, it’s man made, yes it is a tool and it was probably made to do something like this… blah blah blah… and here’s why… see this here..? that shows evidence of hammering/knapping… see how this edge has been worked into this shape? that suggests it was used to do this… Blah blah blah… cue colleagues looking vaguely impressed and Our Hero feeling a bit chuffed…

At that point our Visiting Experience Specialist wanders along to join the conversation… and one of my colleagues (who shall be forever known to you readers as Daughter of the XBox) hands over this piece of flint and asks her opinion… Cue cold sweats for Our Hero… What if he has just made himself sound a complete muppet? What if everything he has just said so much hogwash? Will Daughter of the XBox and Our Lady of the Flowers mock him mercilessly for the rest of his career?

Visiting Experience Specialist (this is a temporary title, I will think of something more appropriate at a later date) knows what she is talking about… Our Hero is a bumbling amateur… With bated breath we await her conclusion… Her answer?… Yes, it’s man made, yes it is a tool and it was probably made to do something like this… blah blah blah… and here’s why… see this here..? that shows evidence of hammering/knapping… see how this edge has been worked into this shape? that suggests it was used to do this… Blah blah blah…

Our Hero breathes again… A sigh is released…. Not just of relief… Daughter of the XBox and Our Lady of the Flowers are both beaming now… Our Hero has had his hypothesis confirmed… Our Hero walks on air for the final 30 minutes of his shift…

{There that wasn’t too bad was it?}

[No sir. Rather a nice way to end. -OK, Inner 5 Year Old, you can put the “Stupid Things I’ve Said At The Wrong Time File” back in the warehouse- Oh! Are you still here sir? I didn’t see you standing by the “Interesting Facts or How-To-Bore-People-Rigid-In-Ten-Seconds-Or-Less” shelves…]

{I know what you are doing you know. I do keep and eye on you lot.}

[Of course you do sir. We all keep an eye out for each other here sir.]

 

 

 

 

 

*I do hope I’ve used that the right way… I’m sure at least one of you will let me know if I haven’t…

Oh Glod! Has he got another essay due?

Well of course I do… Which is why I’m writing this…

I just wish I could think of something to say… Yeah, I know I say that at the start of most of these things but I actually do think this time I may be suffering from a complete brain freeze…

You see, what I’m supposed to be writing is something about religion in a consumerist society… I can’t go into too many details but suffice to say my views on religion are having to be kept quite heavily caged at the moment… But I don’t want to be thinking about that at the moment… at least, not consciously… I do believe that the brain works quite happily on a problem while it’s engaged somewhere else…

So what else am I going to write about?

It has been suggested, rather obliquely, that maybe I should talk about that wonderful place that is carried through the multiverse on the back of a turtle… and maybe I could… I could tell you that I cried for nearly two days straight when I learned of the passing of The Creator… I could say that I took solace in the shared grief of millions of people across the planet… I could tell you all this but I’m not going to… Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t give you a convincing answer…

Lone Support Angel has just suggested I should write about why she is my ‘one’ but then said that it’s in pretty much everything I write already so no joy there…

Politics? Nah, gotta watch the blood-pressure…

Work? New season doesn’t start until next week and a blog about being stuck in a hotel conference room for two days learning stuff I already knew isn’t going to be all that when you think about it…

Books? I’m not really that good at literary criticism… My reviews tend to be along the lines: It’s a book… It’s got words… I liked it…

Not good really, is it? So, no book reviews then…

And I suppose that rules out reviews of TV, Films and Music… If you’ve read my previous attempt at writing about TV then you know the bullet you’ve just dodged 😉

This really isn’t helping get the creative juices flowing…

Actually, I’ve just had an idea…

Why don’t I tell you about what I think is the greatest invention of all time? I’m sure that will keep a couple of you engaged for two or three minutes… I mean, come on. This is a bit geeky right? OK, so slip your anorak on and let’s explore this train of thought…

Over the past few years TV companies in the UK have been occasionally obsessed with lists… Top 100s, Top 10s, “greatest ever…”, “My favourite…” you name it, they’ve probably made a list, cut together a load of previously viewed footage, got Robert Webb to do the voice over, bribed a whole load of “celebs/experts” with alcohol to spout inane facts or recollections and ruined a perfectly good Sunday evening for lots of people… I will admit, I have seen quite a few of these… Not because I’m obsessed with lists, or even a passing interest in the subject being shown… Possibly they tickle some ever-present history spot inside me… More probably it’s to do with my own laziness… “I don’t find this totally enthralling but it’s not a soap and it’s not a sport I don’t like (for the record, this includes pretty much every sport that isn’t Rugby Union) so I don’t care enough to turn over/off”… So yeah, I’ve watched a few…

A number of years ago the National Treasure that is Mr Steven Fry got in on the act and did his “Top 100 Gadgets” … now I don’t know if it really was his top 100 or not, and truth to tell it doesn’t really matter… All I know is that I, probably like most others that watched it, was shocked by his #1… We’d had them all… the telephone, the VHS, the iPad, the steam-iron, the electric toothbrush… if it was classed as a “gadget” then it probably made the list… But #1 was a real left field choice at first glance… *SPOILER ALERT* it was the pocket lighter! and Mr Fry (Why oh why isn’t Sir Fry?) gave his reasons so convincingly that I could not argue… Think about it… Instant fire!!! How could that not be the greatest gadget?

But I’m not talking about gadgets, I’m talking about inventions… To be honest I don’t know how best to define the difference but I would suggest it could be argued that while every gadget is an invention not every invention is a gadget…

So let’s get back to my favourite invention… A few years ago I would’ve argued that language is the best invention ever… and we would probably find experts in many fields that would agree… and don’t get me wrong, language was a great invention, humans would not dominate the planet the way we do without it…

A few years before that I would probably have argued that movable type was the greatest simply from the social revolution it brought about… again, plenty of academics and lay people would agree with that choice…

But my choice for the greatest invention of all time is this…

Olduvai Handaxe

Olduvai Handaxe

These things have been found dating to over 2.5 MILLION years old…

Now I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that this the first invention, in all probability language was invented long before this… and primates had been using tools for perhaps even longer…  but this had to be invented…

Let me build a little scenario for you…

Here is Tak. Tak and the troupe are sat around a carcass. For as far back as the troupe lore goes meat has been taken from the carcass with teeth and nails, the marrow removed from the bone after the simple expedient of snapping the bone over a knee or by smashing with a rock. But Tak is not happy. Tak can see a lot of food and other resources going to waste. But Tak can see a solution. One of the stones that another of the troupe used to break a bone has just shattered. Tak grabs a piece and starts to think. Slowly, carefully Tak studies the rock. Tak can see the potential. Tak starts to experiment. Tak knows that broken stones are sharp. Tak eventually makes a handaxe. Tak now cuts meat from a carcass.

The above is, of course, fictional but it’s credible don’t you think? You will have noted that I have already acknowledged language and tool use is already established. But now Tak and the troupe have a NEW tool. And what a tool. With this bladed instrument (and the subsequent variants) and the hammer Tak’s descendants change the entire world.

Alright, so those descendants did not actually do a great job of changing the planet but that’s another story.

Peace.

Wedding-of-the-Year prep…

Just had a call from the people I’m getting my wedding outfit from…

After we had covered the necessities of establishing who was talking to whom the gentleman at the other end of the line informed me that due to an error on their part they will not be able to dispatch a particular part of my order… They do have that part but not, unfortunately, in the size I ordered… and due to circumstances beyond their control they will not be able to produce the item as ordered… they accept that this is their fault and they would be more than happy to cancel that aspect of the order if I so wish, with no hard feelings… Or they could send the item in question in a slightly larger size…

they then agreed that if I took delivery of the larger size and then returned it they would be more than happy to either refund the funds or exchange the item for something else… this return will be at their expense (their insistence)…

Also, my items were being prepared for dispatch as we spoke and I was informed that they will be with me before the end of the week…

yes, yes I know that this is all services that we would all expect from a company but, let’s be honest, when was the last time you did get this service? Do your supermarket shop online? When was the last time you got a call from a manager saying: “I’m terribly sorry but the tinned unicorn you ordered is currently out of stock, would you like us to refund that item or you could try the jugged basilisk-in-aspic at no extra cost”? no, what you get is half the things you ordered and a bunch of stuff that looks like it was grabbed from the darkest recesses of the warehouse, with a little note saying: bananas are out of stock we have substituted a floor-mop.

I probably am going to have to return the said item, along with it’s matching accessory but I now know that if/when I do it won’t be to a company that will claim it as a tax-write-off and that they will be happy to help me get the best service I can…

I don’t know why this sort of thing makes me happy… nor do I know why felt the need to share it with you… [Essay due?] {Not for a few weeks} [Probably just a brain-fart then… Get over it and let your reader(s?) get back to their lives]

he’s probably right… I’ll let you get back to your lives now…

 

Peace

3 Euros and a Tip Box

Well here we go again… I’ve been on a history mad trip and it’s time to share…

So where have you been this time? I hear you ask… hey I’m not called Our Hero for nothing you know 😉

Well, I’ll tell you… Lone Support Angel and I went to the Antalya Region of Turkey… Originally we had planned to be joined by Entertainments Officer and  The Guard (previously known as The Matador but he didn’t like that nom de plume and having now seen the brilliant movie starring Brendon Gleason I feel “The Guard” is a more fitting tribute to the man in question) but due to some unforeseen circumstances our “Four Go Mad in Antalya” was renamed “Second Honeymoon” and off we go… First to the airport (for a ridiculously early flight… so early in fact that I didn’t bother going to bed the night before) … and then to…

Turkey! Would you believe this was my first ever “Package Tour”? Yes, that’s right, we payed a lot of money to spend eight days on a coach with a bunch of strangers and having our experience of Antalya dictated by a tour guide…

So, how am I going to do this? When I’ve presented previous trips, I’ve tended to break them down into one or two (alright, maybe three) day sized chunks simply because it was easier but I don’t think I can do that this time… I cannot fully explain why, maybe it has something to do with the format of the trip compared to previous journeys… With Pompeii and The Wall we were setting our own agenda and pace… with this trip we were at the mercy of our operator’s time-table… anyway, this may be one long ramble or it may be the first of a two-part piece… I can’t tell yet, so please bear with me…

I tell you what, while I try to decide what I’m going to say, why don’t you have a quick look at a few shots of just a few of the places and events I plan to cover in this… this… this… Have we actually agreed on what we call these things? Personally I like Spam-Filter Evader… But then I also quite like “Pointless Drivel” and “Self-Indulgent Waffle” but then I am just a bit twisted…

Where was I? Oh yeah, the previews…

It's a face innit?!

I love carvings like these

These things are bloody everywhere..

Rock Tombs

What? It's a wall of capstones, what else am I supposed to call it?

Wall of Capstones

I did say this was a History Mad trip didn’t I? Not into history? Then I suggest you jump ship now… Still with us? Then I shall begin…

By the time Lone Support Angel (Henceforth: LSA) arrive in Turkey I have been awake for about 28 hours straight… Not long I know but factor in the most uncomfortable flight ever experienced (so far) by Our Hero and you may get just a flavor of my mood… Add to that Our Hero walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke as we leave the Terminal (having given up less than 6 months ago so still vulnerable) and things are not looking too rosy for anybody on our coach that has what I deem to be a character flaw…

I gird my loins, stiffen my upper lip and generally prepare myself for the journey to our first hotel… 2… 3?… Possibly 4 hours later we are there… and the first twin beds of the week… Luckily for everybody, the group we are with are fun and engaging so I have not had to ask the driver to stop so we can bury the bodies 😉

First Impressions? Can’t really say… I know that I sort of dozed on the coach so I now have a cricked neck and a head ache to add to the overall sense of wonder and sleep deprivation… Oh and the weather people lied! It is NOT tee-shirt weather! In fact, I’m wondering if three layers and a scarf is going to be enough to get me through the week…

I’m not going to go into too much detail about our hotels and/or our meals… Suffice it to say that couscous, chicken, rice, kebabs, “nescafe” and franks-in-hotketchup are going to be regular mainstays of our options over the next week and a bit… The bread was nice wherever we went though, so that was nice… 🙂

First “KickYourself” moment coming up… We are told at dinner that we will be getting an alarm call at 6.30 am… Cue groans and moans from most of us…But I don’t trust hotel alarm calls so I set my own on my phone, and to ensure I have enough power to ensure it’s effectiveness I plan on charging my phone… No such luck, because Our Hero is a numpty of the highest order and has brought LSA’s charger but not his own… which could’ve been OK… If LSA hadn’t left her phone back in Blighty… OK, time to be very sparing with the photos (and leave phone on “airplane mode” to save as much power as poss…

Day 2… 6.30 start… GIVE ME COFFEE!!!!

our holiday begins in earnest… A quick trip over the Atlas mountains and we are at the Rock Tombs and Theatre at Myra… Do you want some photos? Oh alright then…

Don't worry, She ain't gonna turn you to stone

Medusa

Posh Houses for the Dead

Rock Tombs

Not at this theatre ;)

I deny shouting “Splitter”

We follow this with a quick visit to the church that covers the tomb of he upon whom the Hogfather is based… Lots of rather nice frescoes and some sloppy “renovations” by nineteenth century Eastern Orthodox Church sponsored antiquarians… and then a bit of a game of Dodge the Raindrops to grab our lunch… not that impressed with the first lunch break but they do improve…

For those of you that are interested in such things, most of the photos in this thing were taken by LSA due to my aforementioned brain-freeze regarding the phone charger… Indeed, a couple of them are here for your delectation now…

We were on a boat for this bit

Heading for the sunken town

believe me, they are there

If you look carefully you will see the walls of sunken buildings

It was as we docked that we had our first “3 Euros”…

 

 

 

a local photographer trying to make a bit of extra cash in the off season… Yes, we bought our photo… It is our holidaze after all… we don’t bother to get the next few though…

Are we enjoying our trip so far? You bet your last sprazzie we are… Ok, so in the first two days we do cover a lot of ground in the coach… a couple of multi-hour journeys between the site we are visiting and our accommodation for the night… Due to the weather situation (and thanks to the advice from our guide) LSA takes the opportunity to invest in a BatCape… And Boy, does she look damn good in it 🙂

Our second hotel is better than the first but truth to tell we don’t really care as we fill our bellies and fall into bed… another early start tomorrow…

Things do not go entirely to plan… Due to the heavy weather over the past few days we are unable to visit the beach famous for its visiting turtles… not that they are there at this time of year so it’s no great hardship to take a boat-trip around the lagoon instead after we have seen some more Rock Tombs… I tell ya, these thins are all over the place in this region… the original culture that employed them to honor their dead must have covered quite a large area of influence… we end up in a lake side restaurant for lunch… quite a nice place, even if the downspout is broken and pouring water all over the floor inside the building during the heaviest downpour of the week…

A quick coffee break at a stork sanctuary (with two of the sorriest looking storks you’ve ever seen) where a few of our fellow travelers, admiring of LSA’s BatCape, attempt to purchase their own (to no avail)… and then we are onto next hotel… Result! We are to stay here for two nights…

I’ve just realized that this is quite a dry account… It’s a lot of “we did this” “we went here” “we looked at these things”… I’m not really giving you a good impression of our visit am I? We really did enjoy ourselves… We had a great crew on the bus… lots of laughs were had… Our Guide was really informative and patient… and boy did he need that patience…  We never left a hotel on time… we were always waiting for at least one person at the end of each comfort break… but he shoulders his burden and our trips go swimmingly

We did develop quite a fun game to play… well, when I say fun, you really had to be there to fully appreciate its charm… we never did spot a unicorn though 😦

We did see some amazing things through our coach windows…  In no particular order, lots of solar panels, sheep, flags painted onto cliff-sides, poly-tunnels, rock tombs, goats, more poly-tunnels, a Star Trek inspired landscape, unusual rider combinations on scooters, horses, mountains, giant mushrooms and tomatoes, and… oh… er… oh, lots and lots of things… I would just like to reassure you gentle reader, it wasn’t us that encountered the half-naked, sleep-walking Irishman in the hotel corridor… It did happen, it just didn’t happen to us 🙂

I’ve just checked my aide memoir and it appears we have reached the night before Ephesus…  A night of ups and downs… as we have arrived with plenty of time before dinner LSA and I decide to take advantage of the amenities offered by our hotel… For LSA this involves the purchase of a new swimsuit and the meditative effects achieved by swimming about 390 lengths in about 15 minutes… for myself? My first Turkish Foam Bath, Massage and Facial… A few of you may have read this, in which I attempted to explain my almost transcendental experience having my hair cut… Well, as you may have guessed, if I can get absolutely blissed out just getting my locks reduced in length, I was reduced to a pretty much puddle like state after my “spa treatment”… oooooohhhhh I tells ya, it was one of the most divine experiences I’ve ever had… and it did result in most of the rest of our bus having the treatment the following evening… Apparently I looked rather chilled for a couple of days afterwards… I will admit our trip to Ephesus the following day was, despite the early start, a delightfully pain free experience…

Actually, I’ve just seen that I’m almost at 1800 words so I think it’s about time I let you get back to your own lives… I tell you what, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of Ephesus to be going on with…

My, what a tall frontage you have

Library at Ephesus

No, they are not really small... They are far away

Looking down towards the Library

Otherwise known as The Woman With Lots Of Boobies ;)

Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus… Oops I’ve forgotten her Turkish name…

Honestly I took the picture for the carvings not the cat

Caldacus and (If I remember correctly) Heracles or maybe Ares

I wish I could remember who she is stood in front of

My Beautiful Lone Support Angel rocking her new BatCape

Actually, I think you deserve a treat, so I’m going to make the last photo one of Our Hero as he looked not long after his Blissyfying Spa Blissness…

Yes, alright... That is a fag in my hand... No I am not happy about falling off the waggon...

“Oh I am so blissed right now”

Our next installment will continue from Ephesus and include such highlights as LSA’s magic ring, one of Turkey’s hidden treasures and the joy of early flights…

I’ll try to get it written very soon…

 

 

A Return to Lower Rambling…

Isn’t it always the way (Of course, I can only speak from my experience here, I can’t speak for you) you get a great idea for a blog, spend half the night with it running through your head (making sleep nigh on impossible) and then, when you come to write it down… *poof* Gone! Nada. Zilch. Every word flying away faster than a summer migratory bird seeing the first hallow-e’en pumpkin… Truth to tell, if I hadn’t blurted it out on a certain social network I wouldn’t bother… But I can’t let my faithful reader down, never know if I’ll ever get another…. {Hmmmm, good point… must do something to ensure my reader keeps coming back… Oh I know…}*

So, faithful reader, where do we go from here?

What do you mean “That’s not your job”?

Am I supposed to do all this on my own? Jaze! Who came up with that rule?

Well, all right… This time. Next time I would like some input from you… Not much, maybe one or two paragraphs… a few interesting sketches… a pithy comment?.. Look, just make an effort. OK? right, well we’ll say no more about it this time…

Right. So. Here goes… hummmmMMmMMMmmmmm…. HummMMMMmmm <tap><tap.<tappitytaptap><tap> *tunelesswhistling* <tap><tap> *slurps tea* <tap> <tap>     <tap>      <ta

Yeah, alright! Don’t rush me… I’ll think of something… p> <tap>…. <tap?>

Oh I know…. How about a end of year review? Yes, alright so it’s only day 1 of ’15, don’t get clever, you know I meant last year… Honestly if you are “smart enough” to come out with quips like that, you should be smart enough to not read this… Hah! got you there 😛

January – 2014:

Actually I can’t remember… I know I must’ve been working on my degree but apart from that… … … nope, drawing a blank… Ok, moving on…

February – 2014:

Um! Er… Oh Damn! Can we skip February?

March 20[They know what bloody year it is!]{Oh yeah, Sorry I forgot}

<tap><tap> Look, I’m just going to skip ahead to the interesting bits of the year…

April *flip*

May *fl-Oh, stop! Wait! Something big did happen in May… I had a job interview! And the outcome was satisfactory too… I can still hear the phone call…

Me: Hello?

Caller: Hello. Can I speak to ~No Real Names! Legal Dept~ {Oh yeah, sorry}… erm, Our Hero please?

Me: Speaking…

Caller: Hello Our Hero, This is GeekyLadyBoss from “Historical Visitor Attraction” {real name rule}. I would like to offer you the position of “Historical-helper-type-thing”

Me: Erm. Wow. Thank you. Erm Wow. Well. That’s brilliant. Thank you. Erm. That’s so cool. Wow… Well, I suppose I had better start sounding like a grown up and ask questions hadn’t I? So erm, Wow! Er, yeah… So when do you want me to start?

GeekyLadyBoss (Laughing): When can you start?

Me: Next Monday? *Thinking: Oh Glod it’s Thursday, I don’t want to start next week… I want to acclimatise myself first*

GeekyBossLady (Still laughing): Well, OK… But how about the first of June?… 

Me: Yeah, that’s fine I can do that… There now follows a five minute conversation regarding start times, appropriate clothing etc, that you don’t need to know about but it might help you to know that I am dancing around the room while it goes on, my head filled with song and joy… I’m going to be working at “Historical Visitor Attraction”!!! My dream job!!!

I think only LoneSupportAngel is happier than me 🙂

June:

I start a new job! Did I mention that before? There now follows a summer full of sunshine and happiness… well it did for me… I don’t know if your summer was as glorious as mine but I know that I went to work in shirtsleeves every day 🙂

July – September:

Work is going great! I am enj… Woah, wait, what? What do you mean I skipped a bit? No I didn’t. It’s up there… July and August are implied in the “-“… I’m not skipping, I’m condensing… That OK by you? Well, tough! You said I’ve got to write this by myself so I’m doing it my way…

Where was I? oh yeah… oying the commute (I bet a lot of you can’t say that 😉 Sorry, just my little gloat 😛 )… I smile every time my work place comes into view… I have fun and interesting colleagues with whom I can laugh and enjoy intelligent conversation… I spend my days meeting new people… I clean toilets, sweep paths, mop floors, sell coffees, books, toys and all the other things on offer at “Historical Visitor Attraction”… I do every thing with a real smile on my face… I answer questions… I talk about history… I even start giving “proper” talks about the Attraction… with a lazer pointer and everything!!

Now as you know poor long-suffering reader, I am a huge history geek which is why, despite having to clean the toilets and help the odd rabbit with myxomatosis reach “the promised land” (no I don’t know what their promised land looks like but they are rabbits, considering what they do all day, it can’t be much better than here), I am in my dream job…

Frequently I have to be reminded that it’s time to go home… I love my job!

September is coming to a close… the end of my first season is looming… Did I mention that I officially only work from March to September?… I must have done something right though because I’ve been asked if I would like to pick up some extra shifts over the Winter Season… including The Big Event!!

The Big Event is Brilliant!!! I have been to the Big Event before, as a visitor… this year I am being paid to be there… Did I mention “dream job”? Yes, there’s a wee bit of mud… yes, it’s hard work… yes, I have to get up too early in the morning… yes, I know it was probably a bad idea to quit smoking just two weeks before… but… Dream Job! and I’m loving it!!!

We pause here to offer you a couple of images to help you picture The Big Event…

8.00 am! On a Sunday!!

The nicest the weather was all day!

Wouldn't let me play with them :(

You can buy these you know!

 

… So, my first extended season goes rather well… GeekyLadyBoss is pleased with me… My colleagues seem to like me… I’ve only broken one bottle of wine… Hold on… Would I like to do More Overtime? You bet your Hogwarts Scarf I would!!!

And so I do… My Summer Season extends into October… November… December?! Yep… Even into January… I do a schools only visit day, when I am on my own all day… I do the weekends before and after Saturnalia (the Christianized, and therefore shortened, version of course… not the month long celebrations the Romans enjoyed)… I do all the hours I am offered… Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not turning into a workaholic but I do Love my Job and I get immense satisfaction when somebody comes through our little gift shop and says they’ve enjoyed themselves… I love getting the kids coming up to me to tell me to drink more water [Private jokes now is it?] {They’ve only to ask}… I love it when LoneSupportAngel, FauxCymruSis, Lady GoldenSoul, Entertainments Officer and others come to visit…

No it's NOT Maiden, Mother and Crone!! Cheeky Feckers!!

L-R: Lady GoldenSoul, FauxCymruSis, LoneSupportAngel

 

That's my Better 'alf, that is...

Rock On!

Bring it!!!

Leader of the Shropshire Massive

 

… I even got to say Hi to the “King of Seven” himself, Mr Len Goodman…

and so my year ends…

Well, I did some other stuff… Of course I did… I had a lovely historical Weekend with LoneSupportAngel and her Lovely Parents… I spent a fantastic week in the wilds of Scotland with LoneSupportAngel, Entertainments Officer, The Framer and MyPuck [yes, yes, you’ve told us all about that]… I’ve found new books to read… New songs to sing… LoneSupportAngel and I have had lots of “fun” getting new windows fitted and new carpets laid… I missed out on seeing the divine Ms Kate Bush 😥 … I’ve lost hours on GTAV… I’ve had ups, downs and head-swirling moments… I have had, in my humble opinion, Rather A Good Year…

And so I finish here… Listening to Queen: Live at the Rainbow Dec’ ’74 (well, actually it finished ages ago because I take so long to write these things but that doesn’t really matter does it?)… eating some of my Mythmas chocolate… Wishing I’d turned the heating up…

2015 is less than 24 hours old and looking about me, at my (slightly chilly) flat and my cute-sexy LoneSupportAngel, knowing that this year holds some amazing adventures and some long awaited events, knowing that I’m going to have to work and study hard throughout the year, loving the people I love, I know (barring any unforeseen shitstorms) this year will be better…

Thanks for staying with me for this occasional spam filter evader… I hope to bring you more this year [But, don’t hold your breath]…

Peace to you all xxx

 

 

 

*See Post Script.

 

P.S… See “Aside

“Customer Retention, How can I help?”

As most of you know (it should be all of you if you’ve read my “About Me” post but I don’t blame you if you haven’t) I am in the 40odd year old bracket… Add to that my gender, socio-economic situation and any other factor or influence you wish… However you look at it, I am one of those people that will either be able to sail through tech upgrades or fall into a rage deeper and redder than a deep red thing…

Of course I fall into the deep red…

I decided recently that it was time I changed my mobile phone provider… cue lot’s of research… yes, I was trying to find the best deal I could but I was also putting off the change as much as I could just in case I upset someone… I’m English, it’s what we do… So, last week the planets were aligned just enough for me to put my plan into action… Online I go… I have all the information I need, I know what I want and I know where to get it… Find correct site, find correct package, start ordering process… Thank you for your order. Tick this box and we can finalise your purchase. Cue two hours of waiting for the “Processing” icon to finish… Give up, try again tomorrow…

Tomorrow: Thank you for your order. Tick this box and we can finalise your purchase. Cue two hours of waiting for the “Processing” icon to finish… Give up, try again tomorrow…

Tomorrow… Check website… apparently I’ve ordered Three New Phones!!!?  Where’s the phone? I can’t be dealing with this!!! Right, so where’s the number?…<click>  number? <click> … NUMBER? <click>… Where’s the fucking number?? I don’t want to talk to a fucking bot, I want a phone number <click> … I want to talk to a human!! <click> Where’s the fucking number?!!!!! <click> Oh there it is…Dial… ring ring Welcome to BlahBlahWhatever Phones. To do “this” press 1. To do “that” press 2. To do <click>

to do this press <click>

to do that press <click>

press <click>

Press <click>

Thank you for calling BlahBlahWhatever Phones, All our advisers are busy at the moment please hold…

20 mins later… “Welcome to BlahBlahWhatever Phones, how can I help you?” a further ten mins and it’s all sorted… Now to wait for phone and inform current provider of contract termination at relevant time…

*images of swiftly moving clock hands and ripping calendar pages*

New phone here!!! Yay!!! Time to set up and the call current provider…

Welcome to WeDon’tCareIfWe’reShit Phones. To do “this” press 1. To do “that” press 2. To do <click>

to do this press <click>

to do that press <click>

press <click>

Press <click>

Thank you for calling WeDon’tCareIfWe’reShit Phones, All our advisers are busy at the moment please hold…

27 mins (Yes, I did time it!) later… “Welcome to WeDon’tCareIfWe’reShit Phones, how can I help you?” Yes, I would like my PAC code and to terminate my contract… “Oh, why’s that?”… You mean apart from having just waited near half an hour to talk to somebody and I’m not even offered an apology, an explanation or thanked for my patience? It’s simple darling, I’ve found a better deal so I’m ending my contract but want to keep my number so can I have my PAC code please and I’ll end my contract… “I just need to sort out a few details and I can do that for you, please hold”YOU-WILL-NOW-LISTEN-TO-THIS-SHIT-MUSIC-FOR-AS-LONG-AS-WE-DEEM-NECESSARY-TO-PUNISH-YOU-FOR-EVEN-THINKING-OF-LEAVING-US-YES-WE-KNOW-IT’S-TOO-LOUD-YES-WE-KNOW-IT’S-DISTORTING-NO-WE-DON’T-CARE-ABOUT-YOUR-EARDRUMS-OR-YOUR-SANITY-WE-ARE-GOING-TO-PUNISH-YOU-FOR-THE-NEXT-FIFTEEN-MINUTES-YOU-WILL-ENDURE-THIS-SHIT-BECAUSE-WE-KNOW-YOU-WANT-TO-LEAVE-US-ANYWAY-AND-THIS-IS-OUR-LAST-CHANCE-TO-SHIT-ON-YOU-SO-YOU-WILL-LISTEN-YOU-WILL-LISTEN“WeDon’tCareIfWe’reShit Phones, Customer Retention Department, How can I help you?”

Ah yes, finally… Hi yes, As I just told your colleague, I would like my PAC code and to terminate my contract please…. “Certainly sir, Before you do leave us can I just ask if there is anything I can do to convince you to stay?” No thank-you, I’ve already made up my mind. “Oh OK Sir, Could we perhaps look at your package and try to make it better for you?”

No thank-you, as I’ve said, I’ve made my decision, I just want my PAC code and to end my contract, thank you. “OK Sir, well at then moment if you would like we do have the Apple iPhone 6 at…” No, I’m sorry, I’ve already said, I don’t want to renegotiate my contract, I want my PAC code and to end my contract…

“I understand sir, I’ll just take a few details… What is your ####? Your ####? and your ####?, OK, so while we are waiting for that to go through, did you know if you sign up to…”

No I’m sorry, I’ve told you I don’t want you to try to talk me out of leaving, I just want my PAC code and to end my contract.

“Certainly Sir, certainly… So that’s just your PAC code and end your contract… I can do that… Did you know” Look, don’t try this again, please. Just give me my PAC code and I’ll go… “Yes of course sir, can I just ask who you were planning on going to? Because if you were thinking of WEDON’TPAYANYTAX Phones we will match any…” You’re at it again, I don’t want you to try and keep my custom, just give me what I’ve asked for and you will never hear from me again…

“Oh of course sir, I’ll have that for you straight away… Before I do can I just ask…?” NO. All I want is my PAC code and to end my contract.

“Yes yes sir I’m doing that… I would just like to ask, simply for our records of course, I’m not trying to sell you anything… Why are you leaving us?”

Honestly? It’s the contempt you show your customers…

“Sorry sir what?”

The Contempt you hold for your customers… You raise the bills each year claiming it’s the governments fault for adding VAT when I’m on a fixed price contract, you never respond to communications, just today it took me nearly an hour to get through to you and instead of doing as I have repeatedly asked you have tried to sell me another product “Yes sir, so you are going to…?” I’m not telling you. “OK sir, so that’s just your PAC code and to end your contract?” Yes, thank you. “OK, I’ll just get that for you, before you go have you….?”

NO! No I haven’t! See? See what I mean about your contempt for your customers? We have been on the phone now for nearly twenty minutes, I’ve made one simple request, one I am entirely within my rights to make and all you have done is tried to convince me to buy another product. You have acted throughout this entire conversation as if I were simply a little confused and that if I would only let you guide me I would be making the right decisions, I am a grown man, I have all the faculties and facts I need to make an informed decision and I have made one that will benefit me, now can I PLEASE HAVE MY PAC CODE AND END MY CONTRACT?!

“There’s no need to be rude sir”

PAC code got… now to begin the exciting adventure that is transfering all information on current phone to new one… and wait wait wait for old number to be reassigned to new phone… Still waiting…

 

Still waiting…

 

Still waiting…

 

[‘ere it’s getting a bit red in here]