Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

November 1, 2012

Jactherat -Ephemera, lies & chocolate

Movember is upon us and in honour of those stout hearted blokes who’ll do the right thing with their upper lips here is last year’s post on the wonder of moustaches. Ah, me I do miss the 80s when you could find many a magic tash all over the place, when they were cool and the world was young and not so dreadfully serious. Enjoy, remember, appreciate.

Facial hair has moved in and out of fashion over time. The moustache was king in the 70s and 80s. It was never cool for women and is sadly no longer cool these days. But in honour of Movember here are some of the great moustaches of our times.

Tom Selleck as Magnum – you can’t beat the ever smiling Tom – brilliant eyes and great hair – he is the king of the moustache. (And was responsible for my better half and…

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Poem Zone – Alone Now

October 20, 2012

It’s no good when all that was good

Turns sour, rots on the vine, poisons your mind


When what nourished you now depletes you

Empties your heart and defeats you

A life filled with dejection

Oppression, too much rejection


A world dark and dismal

Grey mists rolling in your heart, your mind, your soul

There is no light

No bright space guiding your way

So burn your books, shut down your heart

Hunker down in safe spaces, let the world roll away

Until you’re strong enough to rejoin the fray

(Images courtesy Google Images)

Let me Love you – shall I count the ways… 10 types of love for modern times

November 12, 2011

Love – blessing and curse. Like so many parts of life it can be wonderful and terrible. Love is all around, as some song said, but how much love is in your life? Can you have too much love? Here are the 10 types of modern love – some we need, some we want, some we should avoid – just like some types of lovers. Plus some reading, viewing and listening suggestions for each area. Enjoy.

Romantic Love We all want it, we all believe in it, but is it possible? It certainly isn’t sustainable. But romantic novels and films want us to believe it can happen and we all need some hope to keep us going. The beauty of Romantic love is that its not about age, its about chemistry and magic. Watch (and read): Bridget Jones, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, An Officer and a Gentleman

True Love This is the prize, love that is real, surmounts all obstacles and lasts forever. It is rare, it is worth pursuing, but most of us will not find it. Or if we do, we’ll probably not recognise it and throw it away. Watch (and read): The Princess Bride, Wuthering Heights, The English Patient, The Notebook. Listen to: Video Games by Lana Del Ray, Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, I Will Always Love You  – Whitney Houston version.


Sexual Love – Lust and passion, what we do best when we’re young and fit and hot, when we burn for the other and we can’t function without them. This is completely physical and a bit chemical. This is unsustainable but repeatable. If you don’t have some passion, some real heat in your life, you have missed out. But the loss of sexual passion, the death of the relationship burns too – you never forget.  Watch: Body Heat, 9 ½ weeks, Wild Orchid. Listen to: I’m on Fire, Bruce Springsteen

Unrequited Love – Infatuation by any other name. This happens all too often and not just when we are young and in love with movie stars, rock stars, teachers and the boy on the bus. This is about yearning, about suffering, about watching, looking and not touching. It’s something we must endure and hopefully at the right time we will find the other, better sorts of love. But it can bite at any age and the older you get, the more dangerous it can be – stalking…? Watch: The Great Gatsby, Fatal Attraction. Listen to: What a Fool Believes by the Doobies, Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad by Meatloaf, Damn, I Wish I was Your Lover by Sophie B Hawkings

Puppy Love – People’s love for their animals is as deeply felt, and sometime more, than for humans. Man’s best friend is his dog, after all. This is devoted love, togetherness, companionship, a quiet relationship that does you no end of good. A dog makes you exercise, keeps you moving and healthy. Pets around the house are good for children in learning how to care for another and we know of the health benefits to elderly people, especially those on their own. Unlike Bridget Jones, I’d be happy to be eaten by my German Shepherd when I’m dead. Some people’s devotion to their animal is legendary – Alexander the Great named a city for his horse Bucephalus. Where would a cowboy be without his horse? Watch: Turner and Hooch, Lassie, Flipper, Skippy, Eight Below (but not on your own, you will cry). Listen to: Love Me, Love My Dog by Lobo.


Mother Love – Is this the highest love? What wouldn’t a parent do for their child? It is the most powerful love of all. Without it many of us wouldn’t be the people we are. Some of the over-achievers of the planet are so because they lost their mothers too early in life and it deeply affected them. When you have your own children you appreciate your own parents so much more – dads too. Watch: Sophie’s Choice (read it first), Not Without my Daughter, Terms of Endearment, The Road, Finding Nemo, Big Fish, Star Wars


Tortured Love – This the big one, where the heart-ache owns the territory, where taboos lurk and death and betrayal await. Think love triangles, affairs, inappropriate partners, compounded by age, gender, religion, etc. Nothing good can come from tortured love. We all suffer for love but some suffer more than others. Literature and music are littered with tortured lovers. Read: Lolita, God of Small Things, Anthony & Cleopatra, Madame Bovary, Death in Venice and Brokeback Mountain (you must watch it too). Listen to: Angie by the Rolling Stones, The River by Bruce Springsteen, No Secrets by Carly Simon, Are You Old Enough? By Dragon, Reckless by Australian Crawl.

Platonic love – We need our friends and indeed we love them as much as anyone else in out life. They are there for us, love us no matter what, almost in spite of ourselves at times. Sibling relationships when they are working well fall here. Sometimes friendship turns into something more: true and lasting love. If you’re really lucky it works the other way too and your lover becomes your friend and then you really have it made. Friendship is often the poor cousin to true and romantic love, but it is just as important to a rich and meaningful life. Friendships can and do last your whole life. Watch: Troy (Achilles & Patroculus, Hector & Paris too), Thelma & Louise, Beaches. Listen to: Wind Beneath My Wings.

Inanimate Love – For objects including your car, your computer, your boat, etc. Sometimes it’s easier to connect to something inanimate. Is that a problem? Provided you have normal love as well, who cares? Inanimate love is about the non-living things in your life that you rely on, that you may imbue with human characteristics – also known as personification. Boats have names and many of us give our cars names too. How much time do you devote to your car or computer – is it the most important thing in your life? As with all things, it’s a fine line between okay and obsession. Watch: Knight Rider, Cars, The Love Bug, Short Circuit. Listen to: Cars, by Gary Numan, Driving in My Car by Madness.

Self Love – Is this the highest and truest form of love?? It’s not about narcissism or vanity but self respect.  You must have some regard for yourself if you are to connect to others sincerely and meaningfully. You can’t expect others to have respect for you if you don’t have any for yourself. How can someone love you if you don’t love yourself? You’ll end up despising them for loving you because you think they can only be a fool if they love you. This is about knowing yourself, your worth and your faults and accepting yourself anyway. Just as you would someone else.  Listen to: The Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston or George Benson

Love is about obsession, passion, losing yourself in the feeling, in the intensity of the moment or the person/object. A life without love, be it tortured or unrequited, is a life not worth living. It is better to have loved, to believe in love, to aspire to love, than to live a half life ignoring or denying its existence. The world turns more on love than hate – more things happen in the name of love than in the name of war. It’s time we remembered that and became better people more concerned with love than hate or money.

The Boy Genius

October 30, 2011

This week’s poetry offering – The Boy Genius

As the words left his lips –

No – before –

As they formed in his brain

ready to take to the air

sprung fully and loudly, enunciated clearly – no mistaking their shape or intent

The Gods, the Forces

that act against

such arrogance

such hubris


in one so young

Began their work of dismantling

of destruction

of weakening the structure

so that the edifice would fall

so that the man

– ah, the boy! –

would forever regret

his boastful quip

– what he thought to be a throw away line, casually uttered in jest to his parents

from the back seat of the car

taken all too seriously

by powerful entities – their sensitive egos too easily ruffled

only too happy to smite

an arrogant pup

knock him off his excessively ornate pedestal

deny him any pretensions to greatness

and remind him that he was not

– as he so nonchalantly claimed –


a boy genius.

7 Ways to Cope with Toxic Workplaces

September 14, 2011

Toxic work places – it’s pretty clear isn’t it, a place of work that poisons you for a multitude of reasons. In a lifetime of work it’s a safe bet you’ll end up in at least one along the way. But the smart person only makes the mistake once.

One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist, and so one man’s meat is another’s poison. Thus it follows that what may be toxic for you at work may not be for others. Just as we, as workers, come in varied shapes, attitudes, experiences, ethical beliefs, so do work places. Yes, it’s obvious but worth stating. You may be suffering at work, find it poisonous but your colleagues may not.

Before you lose your cool entirely, it’s worth doing a reality check. Do others feel like you about the boss, the structures, the ethos and management? If so, it tells you it’s not just you, but that fact may not make any difference in the end. That will depend on the size of your work-place and/or its willingness to change.

If it is just you, then you must radically re-think your future. Staying in a toxic environment is no good to your health, your wellbeing, your friends or family or anything in your wider life. It also impairs your ability to work effectively and eventually you will be fired.

Even if it’s not just you, a toxic work place is corrosive and we all have different levels of resilience. Some people thrive in antagonistic places, seeming to grow and glimmer in the light of the latest idiocy from up the food chain, moving from (and often causing) one near disaster to another without attracting a spec of dirt. You, on the other hand, suffer. You can’t cope with the idiocy, the hypocrisy, the incompetence: the blame game and the lies.

What can you do? Your options are limited and will depend on your wider circumstances and obligations.

1.Shift your headspace. Stop taking it seriously; still do your job to the best of your ability but stop taking to heart, or personally a lot of what goes on.

2.Spend time with like-minded colleagues laughing at the idiocy. Have lunch together, a drink after work Not being isolated will help you cope.

3.Think about why you are at work – is it your whole life, is there nothing else of meaning? If so, you must get out as soon as you can because you will go insane. If work is just a part of your life, and there are good things in your life then you can cope for a while, have some perspective, but still have an exit strategy.

4.Accept that you can’t change the ethos and culture of your work-place unless you are in a senior position and supported to do so. This acceptance will help your head-space too.

5.Move on. But do so sensibly; it’s no good doing some grand theatrics that leave you sacked or quitting with nowhere to go. It’s a brutal world out there and you need to keep the wolf from the door as the winds howl and the rain buckets from the sky. Be strategic, look for work, get a new job and then resign.

6.If you can’t move (for family or financial reasons) then cover all your bases: keep notes, keep on top of all aspects of your job; find safe ways of coping, make sure you have a release elsewhere – take up boxing or long distance swimming to exhume the stress and tension. Don’t turn to alcohol and drugs – they’ll just make matters far worse.

7.Don’t badmouth your employer too often or in public (and definitely not on FB). It will come back to haunt you and remember the work place may be toxic but not everyone in it is. You don’t want to tar them all with the same disdain and contempt you feel for the overall organisation. And you might want a reference (one day…)

Work is a part of life and the trick is to make it look easy, to find a job that fills your heart with joy and meaning. Failing that, you want to wake up in the morning without feelings of dread or fear. We spend a lot of time at work, so we can’t afford to spend the greater part of our life being poisoned.

Look after yourself, know your own value and find a place where you can fulfil your vast potential. Know that the only power you have is over yourself and the only person who can rescue you, is you. Refuse to be poisoned, move on wisely and expeditiously.

The 6 F’s of Staying Together

July 9, 2011

Relationships, marriage; same sex or whatever you choose – staying together for the long haul is hard. No, it really is. Staying married for nearly 25 years is the hardest thing I’ve done and I’ve done a few scary things in my time. Why am I still here? Love I hope; certainly the beloved off-spring, not to mention a hideous financial entanglement. Not that I’m claiming transcendental happiness or anything approaching the idyllic married state but I’ve observed a thing or two over the years and I think there are a few key factors, most of them, curiously enough, beginning with F.

1. Fighting/falling out. Once the ‘honeymoon’ is over, when the bliss edges back and the reality of him/her and a future together kicks in you are going to fall out. It’s inevitable. It’s not so much that you fight or disagree (you actually should, otherwise you’re probably a sheep), it’s more about how you fight and how you make up. We all say things in the heat of the moment, we threaten and bluster and cry. But we must not hit – either physically or below the belt. That sort of fighting is corrosive and is what kills the love and respect you need for each other to keep it together.

2. Forgiving. You have to learn to forgive each other. Saying sorry helps, but you have to mean it. You have to be able to let go of the argument, the hurt and the upset. It takes time but it has to be let go – genuinely. If not it will just keep on rearing its ugly old head every time you fall out. Accept the weakness and humanity of your lover – you want them to accept yours, after all. Forgiveness means you accept them as they are – weaknesses and foolishness and all –  love them anyway, and are in the midst of an adult relationship that can sustain attacks on its battlements without letting the walls cave in, leaving the edifice to crumble to ruins. But if you can’t forgive, and there are somethings that are unforgivable – different lines in the sand for all of us – you must go; don’t stay and be miserable, infecting your children or your own life. To re-state – forgiveness must be genuine to work.

3. Forgetting. You must do this and not do this. You must forget the hurt and the unkind words from your battles, otherwise they eat away at you and undermine you, and the relationship. Forgive and forget goes together for a reason. You do need to do both – its the twin peaks of starting again after the fury of the fight. But there are things that cannot be forgotten! Yes, birthdays, anniversaries, allergies, favourite colour, dress/shirt size, your song, how you met, etc. These things you must know, commit to memory because they show you care, you’re paying attention, you know what’s important to your lover. Write things down if you’re hopeless at remembering. It’s not worth the distress of your lover if you forget their birthday, your anniversary and then make up with the wrong sort of chocolates, you’ll just end up falling out and finding it very hard to be forgiven!

4. Fucking. Well, yes. It’s central – no matter how old you get, it’s the heart and soul of it all. Do it as much as you want, whenever, but perhaps not where-ever, anymore. Do not read anything about Sting and Trudy Styler ever. Always remember how much you lusted after their body when you were first together, and how nice it is now that you’re not quite as fab as you were that you’re still wanted, still desirable.

5. Friends. Keep your own. Do not immerse yourself so utterly in your lover that you jettison your own mates. Especially don’t get rid of yours and take up his. You need your friends to be your old/true self with, to do things with that you can’t do with your lover. You need your friends when you fight and need someone to help you back to the path of forgiveness, or to tell you when it is really and truly over. You also need to be friends with your lover. Lust and passion fades but friendship endures. Being friends as well as lovers is one of the big secrets to staying together.

6. Finances. What kills relationships? Sex and money. You need enough of both to keep the relationship boat afloat. Being without enough money destroys the passion, kills the love. But what do you do? Shared finances, separate accounts but agreements on shared payments? It’s very tricky, both can work, both can fail. For my money, you need some independence here, you need to agree on big ticket items and you must talk about money on a regular, sensible basis. Once you lock in formally to each other (marry) you carry their financial burdens as yours. Divorce is messy, costly and you will lose. So face up to being an adult and talk about money – preferably after sex, when you’re both chilled and bathed in the glow of love, then you’ll avoid another fight and manage to keep your ship of state steaming ahead out there on those stormy waters.

Helpful? Hope so.

Like the universe, ever expanding

October 3, 2010

And there we are – all back where we were – except for Twisted River which i jettisoned some time ago due to the stupid amount of stupid spam comments.

Normal service will be resumed – much silliness still in the world – after all one is back at work and that remains as mad as ever. A significant birthday looms and wisdom still eludes. The days shorten and the darkness grows, rain is ever-present and France well behind us now. It’s sad how quickly the joy of holidays evaporates in the harsh light of the real world of work and bills.

Still, the dog brings joy, the beloved daughter has returned to joy-bringing and we remain – amazingly enough – married, so must be something there. It goes on, it goes on. Life and blogs and the universe; ever expanding into the darkness, into the unknown.

Indeed, is there life out there – anywhere? Please say hello, so we’re not so alone.

£3 000 000 would do it

October 3, 2010

£3 000  000 would do it – would be enough to give up work, pay all debts, buy a London flat in an area of my choice, generate an independent income, and give up work for the writing life forever. In the scheme of things it’s not a lot of money. I wouldn’t be idly rich – I’d finish my PhD and do it well; instead of this piece-meal paltry pursuit of publication I could write so much more; walk the dog, do lunch and be a loving generous parent. And, very possibly a loving wife.

Not that money is what i need to make me happy. No, that makes me sound so materialistic – and while I am to a normal extent, I do know that money does not buy a whole raft of things – love, health, an ability to play the sax and speak fluent french like a native. But it buys time – in the not having to work to earn money way of buying time. Thus I would be less stressed, less tired, more relaxed, kinder and I would laugh and smile far more often. Indeed I would become a much nicer human being. This is why money would be good: freedom from worry about money – bills, mortgages, children’s needs – and therefore the ability to make it a non-entity in one’s life.

So enough to eliminate the drudgery of work and bills, enough to free time and the spirit and the imagination. Not a lot, not a fortune, but enough. But from where?

Well, lotto isn’t working; I haven’t made the JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer break-through; I’n not going to turn into a middle aged Ronnie Biggs; and I’ve got no brain for money-making schemes, otherwise I’d not be lamenting my lack of money here in cyber-space. So, dear reader, you know the answer – work. I must continue working until – and very possibly beyond – retirement.

Indeed, my little financial fantasy flurry is prompted purely by the return to work after a simply sublime holiday. Work is not as terrible as it could be, or as it was. My pay is not pathetic, but oh, I do long for freedom from work, from the grind, from debt and anxiety that modern life imbues us all with. In this, at least I am not alone.

Tall Buildings

October 3, 2010


like tall buildings, big long things that reach up to the sky. Yes, the old fashioned sky scraper. I’m sure there’s something entirely phallic about this interest, so I won’t mention the Gherkin at all – especially not it’s shape, nor the fact that despite it’s exceptional green-ness (no 1 hated colour – blame my father) it is a wonderful, exciting and dramatic building that does add oomph to the traditional London skyline.

Not a lot of them in my home town, but more and more of them in my adopted town – which is a good reason to hang on here that bit longer. The first one I really had the hots for was the Orient and Pearl Tower in Shanghai – it’s so pretty – round and pointy and pink and so well lit up at night. The Chinese are very good at tall buildings – Pudong new area (as it was in 1997 when we were there) had some with interesting and imaginative ‘caps’ for want of a better word. You looked from the Bund across the Yangtzee  to this array of wonder and magic. Here, have a read about it and look at some pix – you’ll love it too. And yes, we went up it as well, and into the exec pod at the top due to ‘connections’ at the time. Mmm…

London is the city of regenerated tall building projects. The GFC stalled everything there for a while and I gazed upon the Strata Tower from my window, standing neglected and forlorn waiting to finish its thrust skywards. In the recent past I watched cranes and men doing foolish and daring things way up there in the sky and was very happy to be earth bound. It’s now finished and does, from some angles look like a resting owl, considering what it’s doing there marooned in Elephant and Castle.

But potentially the building i will love the most is the Shard, currently moving ever skyward at an alarming rate. I travel in and out of London Bridge Station every day and i must confess it did take me a while to work out exactly where the building was being built. You have to have you eyes open and every once in a while travel on into Charing Cross and then you see the drapes and the larger than life sign emblazoned for even the blind to see. Down on street level the amount of glass is awe inspiring. The amount of men working on the site equally so – they must have a break as we disembark the train in a morning because we invariably meet a host of them coming down the station road to the adjacent street – all with their Mace safety yellow vests on.

The Shard will be the tallest building in London and for those of you into facts and figures – courtesy Wikipedia –

General information
Location 32 London Bridge Street,Southwark in LondonUK
Status Under construction
Groundbreaking March 2009
Estimated completion May 2012
Antenna or spire 310 m (1,017 ft)
Roof 305.7 m (1,003 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 87 (Including Radiator floors)
Floor area 111,400 m2 (1,199,000 sq ft)
Companies involved
Architect(s) Renzo Piano
Structural engineer Arup (Building Services), WSP Cantor Seinuk (Structural Engineers), Robert Bird Group(concrete temporary works) Ischebeck Titan on most floors 40+ for concrete support
Contractor Mace
Developer Sellar Property Group

Thus one of my plans in life at the moment is to remain in this fair city until the Shard is completed – a shiny pinnacle of glass and engineering wonder, that i can gaze upon for miles on my inward journey of a morning and be pleased that all is right with the Empire after all and perhaps England can be great again one day?

Scratch that – I’ll just marvel at the building and be grateful I don’t have to clean the windows!

In dreams we are beautiful

October 3, 2010

In dreams we wander far from home – geographically, emotionally, physically, temporally. In my dreams – the ones I prefer to remember – I am young again and my body is firm and tanned and strong. I feel invincible and dream of liasions with old lovers and sometimes faceless men who seem familiar, where the dreams feel as real as life did then. When I dream of my beloved it is from those early days when we could only think about getting to bed or other places to fuck ourselves senseless.

And when I dream of other men (and don’t reveal such dreams, sometimes only faintly accepting them myself), men I loved and desired and recall only too well, I wonder – do they dream of me and think of me in that wistful nostalgic way? I know they have aged, wrinkled and paled. I wonder how many I would recognise in the street? Would they know me?

Perhaps it is better to recall them in dreams, conjured from nowhere to remind me of how gloriously carnal we once were? Perhaps it is better to wonder about past lovers and not to know of the current reality? I’d rather resist the urge to ‘google’ them and be forever disappointed.

No, far better to indulge in erotic dreams of past lovers, hug the dreams close, let them warm and remind you of what Apollos we all were, once upon a time, when it was always summer and the world was at our feet…