Parte Three of That Which was Promised shalt Comme in Threes   Leave a comment

Having arrived back at Seth’s in Scottsville, Arizona, and whilst packing for the flight to DaenerysAnchorage in a couple of hours, I grabbed a quick cuppa and attempted to shake off the aches and pains of the frantic journey back from Las Vegas.  I was sad to leave.  There was so much more to see and yes, it’s as flat as a witch’s tit, as dry as a Jacob’s cream cracker, and hotter than Daenerys Targaryen in – well, let’s face it – anything you care to imagine, but it had charm.
The flight out of Phoenix was uneventful once we managed to board it. You see, someone wanted to swap seats in order that they may sit with their loved one and hold hands, gaze into each other’s eyes and swear that they will never be parted – until something tastier comes along in a few years – and I was asked if I’d move to accommodate them.  It ended up being a total farce which held up the whole flight, and the withering looks Seth and I got as we finally boarded the flight? More tuts than King Tut’s family fucking tree!
Tut
I gave it my best it’s not my fault look, as I made my way to my new seat, but I’d have had more luck trying to convince those oddballs that QAnon is a load bollocks, the world isn’t flat and yes, unfortunately, Elvis is definitely dead! Got my first ever upgrade for my pains though, which was appreciated, even though by the time we got up it was time to come back down.  Sometimes it pays to be nice.
As far as air travel is concerned an uneventful flight is always a positive, and eventually we broke through the clouds to be greeted by the now familiar sight of Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport.  I had a warm comforting feeling of being back in familiar surroundings; of being home (Either that or I’d wet myself). It was good to be back.
seth 2A short trip to pick up some equipment from Seth’s main tooth-fixy place in Anchorage preceded a gruelling five and a half hour drive up to Seth’s new tooth-fixy place in Valdez, where we would be dropping off some tooth-fixy equipment.  I don’t mind going to Valdez.  It’s pretty and I get the chance to see glaciers up close.  However, driving through that barren wasteland with Seth always feels like travelling with a man who, whilst not quite on the edge, is definitely rolling towards it; knowing that one day soon, sanity will disappear like a cue ball down a corner pocket.
TRUMP TART
The truck was a close relation to the one I had used for the trip to Arizona: it was a ‘dually’, but it was louder and in not much better condition.  It wasn’t exactly the most comfortable ride; I can think of better: a chariot, a cattle truck, or maybe the tail gun turret of a Wellington bomber on a bombing run over Bremen, or maybe an 86 year-old prostitute?  Put simply, it wasn’t the best.
Now, when it comes to driving anything with wheels or propeller, Seth has only one setting: Aaaaargh!  He’s kinda like Jeremy Clarkson with a very gruff voice.  The feel of the accelerator pedal sandwiched between his foot and the floor of whatever vehicle he is thrashing to death gives him an erection.  This, in itself, isn’t so worrisome, but one also has to take into consideration a) a lack of sleep and b) a general mistrust in all things mechanical that fall under the jurisdiction of the Jorgensen clan; and c) Seth!  Issues, when they arise, tend to register between the spectacular and the oh fuck, as we shall see later.
So, with the rev counter bending itself out of shape at the top of the dial and the engine a screaming, drunken Gallowglas with hair aflame, we were back on the road and heading for Valdez, my hands tightly clutching the seatbelt across my chest and my arse ring becoming a suction cup on the cracked leather upholstery. Honestly, if we had hit something, I would have dragged that whole seat through the windscreen after me.
road ak
The landscape is beautiful, a vast barren expanse hidden under a carpet of snow, rolling away into the distance beneath a pale, grey sky; occasionally, patches of bare earth peek out, and black, rocky outcrops contrast sharply against the neighbouring low hills wrapped in their cold, white blanket; and the beautiful aquamarine-blue of glaciers, the sculptors responsible for this art, holds an almost hypnotising effect. Even though the sky is overcast and dusk is moving in, it only serves to enhance the beauty of this lonely, desolate landscape.
waterfallWe leave the Glenn Highway at Glenallen and access to the town of Valadez is via the Richardson Highway, that eventually drops down through a steep high-sided fissure. Here the snow is in retreat and the occasional small waterfall cascades from high above; in freefall, water sparkles in the summer sunlight before bouncing off the rockface into bubbling pools below and joining the excited babbling rush to the sea.  The road runs alongside this small river and the steep verdant valley sides close in comfortingly.  We zip down this winding road, chasing the Lowe river for about ten miles, before emerging unscathed onto the flat land at the foot of the valley.
Dear reader, you might remember the name Valdez from the news reports in 1988, exxonregarding the tanker Exxon Valdez that ran aground in Prince William Sound, spewing out millions of gallons of oil?  Valdez is the end of the Trans-Alaskan pipeline and it is from there that the tankers put to sea and crash horrifically onto rocks, whilst TRUMP TITSdrunken Skippers slumber below decks, dreaming of Molly and her huge breasts and the amazing things she could do with handcuffs, a windlass and a Monkey’s Fist. We all monkeys fist 2watched on our TV sets and mumbled angrily about how the reported failings of those responsible disgusted us before promptly moving on with our lives.  “Poor seagulls!  But where’s the remote, cos Rita and Mavis are having a threesome with Ken, on Coronation Street!
birds
The incident caused massive damage around Valdez and it’s not until one sees the place that realisation sinks in.  It’s an area of stunning beauty, a jewel.  It sits snug-as-a-bug, surrounded and protected on three sides by high mountains, and the fourth side leads downriver and out to the open waters of Prince William Sound. And there’s bunny rabbits by the multitude!  Lennie would be in his element. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill stewpot rabbits. These looked more like your archetypal pet rabbit: black and white; brown and white; black, brown and white.  Someone must have lost one or two that then got together with other like-minded rabbits and did what rabbits do naturally: fucked like … er … rabbits!
It’s a hell of a drive over to the east side of the Kenai peninsula and the sun sets quickly, so when we eventually arrived it was darker than Lord Vader’s armpits and I was busy praying to every deity I could think of for the truck to both keep going and stay on the road.  There is always the danger of ending up upside down in a ditch with a moose-flavoured truck grille, and as the final strangled gasps of existence leave deflating, punctured lungs, one finds oneself looking directly into the surprised and bemused eye of the unfortunate beast, as aforementioned eyeball slithers slowly earthward down the windscreen, optic nerve dragging behind it like some giant alien sperm.
Luckily, we made it in one piece and the lights of Valdez greeted us with the ignorant indifference that street lighting has mastered over the years.  The office wasn’t too far so it wasn’t long before we were dragging ourselves wearily up the steps to the living quarters.  Lights out and sleep.  The unpacking could wait until the morning.
Sleep is underrated.  There is never enough time given over to sleep.  It’s either that or it seems to come along at the wrong time. Now, waking was difficult and fighting off that exhausted, heavy-limbed lethargy was much like fighting off a heavy cold: the body strikesimply refuses to co-operate because muscles and joints have formed a union and called an all-out strike for better working conditions.  Food and coffee seem to placate the angry workforce momentarily and the promise of a warm, sunny day coaxes the majority of bodily functions, still grumbling, back to the pit face.  This was to be a short visit so after unloading the dental equipment we had brought along the previous night, I mentally prepared for the imminent return drive to Anchorage.
wfall2On the journey back we took time to stop at the aforementioned waterfalls to play tourists.  Cameras clicked and poses were held as meltwater tumbled merrily from above.  It really was a glorious day.  Down here the snow was a memory and the narrow valley was alive with living stuff; harsh rock had become carpets of lush green and the bright colours of summer basked in their own brilliance.  Nature most certainly had got out her paint brushes for us.  I imagine Bob Ross would’ve loved it; it’s not difficult to picture him there at his easel, painting trees, mountains and ‘little friends’ with that relaxed ease possessed only by those deemed masters of their craft.
Photos taken, memories secured, it was back on the road.
“… and we’ll paint-in a road coming down our valley, using a mixture a pthalo blue and a little midnight black.  There it goes.  Don’t be too neat, let the brush do the work; and down here, we’ll have a psycho crashing his red truck into our lake because – hey – why not?  And let’s give him a little friend.  Let’s add a terrified passenger because even psychos need friends.”
DUALLY 1
snowThe Richardson Highway climbed higher and higher gradually exposing the frontline of the battlefield where summer and winter clashed.  The sky became grey and the temperature dropped.  Up here, out of the valley, winter reigned.  John Snow might ride past any moment, leading a bunch of Wildlings to relative safety, away from the danger beyond the wall.
Seth wanted to make it to a food place called the Eureka Roadhouse,  roughly halfway to Anchorage, in order that we could both stuff our faces full of some sort of steak dish he claimed was amazing.  The stop for photos had eaten into our time, however, and although he had the medal to the petal, darkness and closing time got there before us.  He wasn’t best pleased.  Neither did his mood improve when, upon exiting the truck, we noticed the thick spray of black engine oil coating both sides right down to the doors.  Something important in the engine department had had enough of being flogged to death and fucked off to thumb a lift back on its own; as a result, the TRUMP ANGRYengine was overheating.  For Seth, not being able to go full throttle is akin to taking a tit away from a hungry two-year old.  Enough said.  A petulant Mr Grumpy let his feelings be known all the way back to Anchorage in the form of either bouts of unbroken silence, or the occasional grunting response to a question.
(Silence …)
“What time will we get there?”
“Humph!”
(Silence…)
“What’s the plan for tomorrow?”
“Uh-hu!”
(Silence…)
“Are we there yet?”
… “ugh-hu!”
Ad nauseam.
Time dragged like a dick over sandpaper before eternity decided enough was enough and Anchorage bloomed before us, glowing orange in the dark. Soon we were rattling along eerily-quiet streets, making our way back to the dental practice, where makeshift beds had been made up in the main office. Grab one; lights out!
With the arrival of the new day, Seth went to pick up his friend ‘Little Al’ (who being taller than his father ‘Big Al’, was technically, himself, ‘Big Al’. But seeing as ‘Big Al’ had the advantage in years and was chunkier, the smaller of the two got the copyright on the name.).  I was left to wander the office, drink coffee and do whatever it is that virile males with a laptop and time on their hands tend to do.
‘Little Al’ would definitely be identified as a friend of Seth’s, being generously over-confident, loud to the point of deafening, and sporting a cream-coloured Stetson hat. In looks, he was the antithesis of Seth: tall, slim, clean shaven and ash-blonde hair slicked back.  He liked the ladies, too (However, I was never witness as to whether this was reciprocated) and many an hour was spent in the Salty Dawg down on the Homer spit, beer in hand, ogling the pretty girls that wandered in.
Dan arrived in Homer shortly after and we picked him up at the airport.  it was great to see the big lump’s huge, smiling carcass after a year. With his long grey hair and a beard like grandma’s vagina, he doesn’t fit the stereotype for the medical professional he is.  He resembled more a guy who had been stranded out in the back-of-beyond, drinking moonshine for too many years; a guy used to fighting wolves, bears, reality; the type of guy Native Americans named Weirdo Who Talks With Trees, and learned to stay away from.Dan
Dan was a man with a plan. We weren’t stopping in Seldovia, he explained.  He wanted to take Long Boy round to Valdez, so Seth and his daughter, Sarah, could use it for whatever reason.  It was sat in Seldovia harbour doing nothing so it seemed a reasonable idea, and it was something interesting to do before the fishing season started.  Take the boat down around the coast, take in some scenery, do a few jobs at the tooth-fixy place and then drive back.  Easy. What could go wrong?
Dan and I jumped on the fast ferry to pick up Long Boy, moored in the berth just behind Okoboji, in the marina at Seldovia.
Long Boy
I do love the peace and quiet of Seldovia, a quiet ex-Russian fishing village a few miles south of the Homer Spit.  It’s wild and rugged and almost detached from the outside world.  It’s detachment, however, does have its drawbacks as there is very little to do, but the people are friendly for the most part, and I can’t help but feel at home aboard Okoboji.  But we weren’t stopping and had to get a move on.
Getting the Long Boy from Seldovia went without a hitch and a few hours later we were berthed in Homer harbour, not far from where Time Bandit, of Deadliest Catch fame ties up. (Mentioning this reminds of once seeing a two-man film crew on the walkway alongrobson green the top of the marina, and being a nosey bugger, I stopped for a nosey.  Lo and behold, who comes wandering nonchalantly along the boardwalk? None other than Robson Green, doing his Extreme Fishing series (I think!).  He’s a great guy, very friendly.  I’d met him before, during a school Christmas bash, when they were filming a Christmas special for some show he was in.  I would’ve liked to invite him out fishing with us on Blue Eyes but our season had just finished.  It could’ve been my breakthrough moment!)
Later that afternoon we drove up to Homer airport and picked up Gene (Dan’s older brother) and ‘Big Al’, who were both down for a few weeks.  I’d fished with Gene a couple of times and he was aboard the day we bagged the monster catch which almost saw us all in the life raft.  He was also on board the time we broke down in a fog bank on the other side of the Cook Inlet.  I might get to write about those episodes sometime.
Having provisioned and refuelled the boat in Homer, said provisions consisting of Tetley Tetley-216-Tea-Bagsteabags, water, milk; and other non-essential foodstuffs such as cans of sweetcorn, cans of chili tomatoes, diet coke, we made ready.  We were to sail south, following the coast, through the Kennedy entrance, north of the Barren Islands, before cutting in through the assortment of small islands and crossing Prince William Sound to Valdez.
We said goodbye to Seth and ‘Little Al’, who went off to do some male bonding stuff BS(Don’t worry, Little Al had picked up some free condoms from the Salty Dog bar.  I thought it was sachets of brown sauce he’d nicked.  I should’ve known better: as advanced and sophisticated as America claims to be, it doesn’t have brown sauce!) before driving up to Valdez to meet-up with us again.  I said goodbye to the pair of them before they left and ‘Little Al’ was a little confused.  The thing is that things happen and things change.  We – or they – might not make it to Valdez.  There’s always the possibility, so it’s always wise to say goodbyes whilst both parties are on the same side of the living/dead demarcation line.
We cast off and got under way.  Dan, Gene, ‘Big Al’ and myself watched Homer fade into the distance; a thin wisp of, white smoke drifting out across the water from a distant fire reminded me of the old saying: red sky at night, shepherd’s hut’s on fire! 
The sense of excitement built as we slowly made our way out of Homer harbour, the deck of Long Boy thrumming rhythmically beneath our feet as the big Volvo engine below knocked-out a bangin’ bass line.  Almost immediately, however, Doubting Thomas started with his doubting: would the engine keep running?  Would the weather hold?spec k  Would we run aground?  And, most pressing of all, would I end-up fucking killing someone for snoring!  However, it was good to be doing something and going somewhere at last, even though the chances of getting from point ‘A’ to point ’B’ without incident were slimmer than the women on the Special ‘K’ adverts.  Although the sky was overcast and the mountains were sulking beneath chunky, grey cumulus clouds, the forecast was good, with 5ft seas and maybe just a bit of wet stuff.
The excitement that accompanies the start of many a journey soon gave way to the intense feeling of impending monotony that follows the excitement that accompanies the start of many a journey, and I settled into my routine of stowing, checking everything, and watching that no-one inadvertently throws themselves overboard whilst taking a pee over the side.
Both sky and water took on a cold, unfriendly grey tone that although not threatening, promised a more challenging journey ahead. To keep spirits up I donned my chef’s hat and cooked up the usual sweetcorn and tomatoes concoction that had seen us through previous summers’ fishing.  We all tucked in.  It was delicious. But it wasn’t long before a queasy, stomach-turning cramp gripped my innards and began to squeeze and the ominous effects of seasickness made themselves apparent. This was embarrassing.  I rarely do seasick but now, for some bizarre reason, the food decided it did not want to fulfil its prime directive and made a bolt for freedom, propelled most effectively by an oesophagus that seemed equally as pleased to see the back of it. I felt ill.
The thing about seasickness is that it most effectively drains every ounce of energy; it pulls the plug on the pacemaker of life and the sufferer feels the incredible urge for a mercylittle lie down and the immediate cessation of life. If one possessed the energy, the cry of, ‘Oh God, let me die now!’ would have been heard back in Homer, some twenty miles away, but now I was reduced to a quivering, sweating, grey lump of bile-dribbling sadness that just wanted to find his mother’s tit and snuggle-in. My shipmates’ show of concern was comforting. They had all succumbed, all suffered; been there, done that, puked-up on the tee-shirt. I curled up and disappeared into a world of self-pitying misery, as Poseidon giggled and the fish chowed down on my new recipe of Warm-Retch Soup.
We chugged along, pitching and yawing, with the sound of the Captain Pugwash theme tune bouncing around in my head. I was beginning to feel a little better and eventually rose from my deathbed, Lazarus-like, to join the living once again. It was getting dark and being close to the shore meant we had to find somewhere to drop anchor.
Screenshot (76)
Not far ahead was a small inlet with the giggle-inducing name of Port Dick.  It would offer protection, and the chart showed it was quite deep even at low tide – which was now – but fortunately we would have just enough on the anchor to find the bottom.  (Please, no jokes about finding the bottom in Port Dick!)
The calm of the inlet was comforting after the precarious bouncing around outside, but it took several soundings before we could find somewhere shallow enough to drop anchor and the light was fading fast. We could afford no deeper than fifty feet.  Of course, the windlass had seized and much grunting, cursing, and WD40 was expended before it was given up as a hopeless cause.  I coiled the anchor line behind me and lowered the anchor and its ten feet of chain (about 100lbs in weight) over the side.  It eventually hit bottom with a little left to spare and Dan backed us up until it bit.  We all relaxed and I put the kettle on for a cuppa.
We decided on a watch rota for the night. I took first watch, Dan second, and I didn’t pay attention to who came afterwards.  As long as I knew who to wake up in three hours, I was happy.  Everyone settled down for the night and armed with my I-pod, I went out onto the stern.
The night was crisp and I was wrapped up as much as possible.  The cold didn’t detract from my appreciation of the natural beauty of the inlet.  I had Muse’s three-part Exogenesis Symphony (Click on the link) on the music player thingy, and gazing around in awe, I wondered how the hell I ended up here?  I wasn’t bothered about sleep; besides, I had a friend join me: a blue whale was circling the boat, feeding.  I watched, mouth-agape, as it surfaced and blew and dived over and over again before the dark finally overcame the day, turning mountains to silhouettes and somehow amplifying the crashing of waves against the tall, black foreboding rock faces some two-hundred feet off our starboard side.
I had two jobs: watch the depth and stay awake.  As the tide came in and the depth increased, so did the danger of the anchor breaking free and Long Boy smashing into the rocks before anyone realised. Both tasks were performed with due diligence for the three hours of my watch and cold and exhausted I went below to wake up Dan for his turn.  This proved – let’s say – a little difficult. He was gone to the world, as were the other two; all of them snoring a tuneless serenade in B-fart minor, a cacophony to wake the dead.
After several attempts, I simply gave up.  Besides, I wasn’t particularly tired and I was enjoying the quiet time.  Being honest, I wasn’t totally confident that the others would stay awake and to fall asleep here could end with a brief handshake and chat with Davy Jones, and bloated dead bodies (One of them a tea-flavoured Englishman), washing up on local beaches!  I decided, therefore, to keep watch for the whole of the night.
It was around three in the morning on one of my regular visits to the radar that I saw our position had changed.  The tide had swung the boat around and the anchor had broken free from the sea bed.  We were drifting.  There was no gentle nudging to wake Dan this time, just urgent shouting.  Give him his dues, when it comes to an emergency he’s up and running, and the two of us got on the case.
The little elf that lives inside and supposedly maintained the windlass had fashioned itself a life jacket out of a fishing cork, and using a wooden spoon, had paddled ashore in a tupperware box sometime during the night, deciding absence was the better part of valour (Like the other two below deck).  The anchor had to come up by hand and we were drifting closer to the rocks.  Dan went to start the engine and wake Gene and ‘Big Al’, but not willing to rely upon their prompt arrival, I decided a good early morning workout was called for and with feet braced either side of the bow, I began to haul up the anchor, hand-over-hand; yard-by-yard up it came.  My back was burning and I was sweating inside my layers of clothing but I was enjoying the battle, determined that I and I alone would heroically drag that useless lump of metal back to the surface.
Dan by this time had made his way back to the bow with the news he had been unable to wake the others.
“I’ve done it. It’s up.” I told him with more than just a hint of warrior-like, testosterone-fuelled, glib, smug, self-satisfaction.
He helped me make fast the anchor and we got back to the cabin; and even as the engine fired up, the other two slept, oblivious to the goings on above them.
port dick sites

The first and second anchorages

We pootled around the inlet for good while, checking the depth and looking for fifty feet of water.  We found it quite close-in to the rocks and after manoeuvring us into position, Dan gave me the okay and I sent the anchor back on its merry way to the sea bed, watching the line flying out over the bow and hoping the anchor found the bottom.  We were in luck. Once again Dan reversed until the anchor bit and after a few tense minutes watching our unchanging position on the GPS, we relaxed.
Dan offered to take watch but I told him I was up and dressed anyway and he would be driving the boat through the narrow channels between the many small islands tomorrow.  With a polite show of gratitude, he made his way back to his bunk to re-join the Catatonic Orchestra and I, stretching and yawning, made myself a cup of tea.
By this time, daylight had turned the tide of battle and had night on the run, nipping at its heels as it scampered away over the horizon.  The sky began to lighten and the stars said good-day.  I looked back on my night spent in the company of a feeding whale, and in my beautiful surroundings – one half of which was now obscured by the high and rather angry-looking cliff face we had anchored near to, a face that had Give me half a chance and I’ll fuck you over and drown you written all over it.
Around 6am, there was mumbling and muttering from below as the members of the Useless Gang stirred themselves and prepared to saddle-up once again.  I was tired, that kind of bone-weary tired that comes after tired has been, had a good long chat, drank all yer tea, and gone home to bed.  I got to grips with the anchor again and ‘Big Al’ came forward to lend a hand.  Together we hauled it back to the surface.  I was grateful for the help as I was spent.  It had been a long and eventful night.
Dan and I described all the night-time excitement they had missed as we fired up the engine and made our way out of Port Dick and around the coast.  It raised an eyebrow but that was about it.  Life-and-death struggles and backache don’t seem to do more than raise eyebrows any more.
The plan was to nip north of Ragged Island and head north east, before cutting between the islands of Elrington and Latouche and in doing so, knock a few hours off our trip.  There was room to manoeuvre but we still had to be careful: not only was there the danger of hitting the rather nasty rocks that jutted out along the narrow waterways, but also striking one of the many rather large chunks of tree that lurked here, watching … waiting…. stalking!
Water-logged logs in water are not always easy to spot as they tend to be just under the surface; some float end-up and can easily pierce a fibreglass hull as they bob up and down like a huge inverted game of Whack-A-Mole, but the risk was considered worthwhile and a course plotted. snow whiyte Now they were awake, Dan had some help, and the guys could look after themselves or drown. I was going to take a fuck-off big bite out of a big red enchanted apple and sleep for a hundred years – and it’d take more than the kiss of a handsome prince to wake me up.
prisonerSometimes, dear reader, we get the overwhelming urge to commit an atrocious act of violence against our fellow man, a senseless act of horrifying depravity; it’s an urge that, although we try to control it, muzzle it, bury it deep, it eats away with that hackle-raising, snarling, fuming rage that has seen so many decent men succumb to its allure, and end up doing life at Her Majesty’s displeasure.  It’s the kind of rage that when sentence is passed, sees the perpetrator screaming Caliban-like at the judge, “It was fucking worth it!  I’d do it again!
About ten minutes after crawling up onto a bunk and closing my eyes at long last, I was ready to kill.  The pitching and yawing are magnified up in the bow and with every wave I would bounce down the bunk, sometimes leaving its surface altogether before diceplonking back uncomfortably and in a totally different position.  Imagine dice in one of those bell jars that casinos have.  One moment they’re sat there wondering why everyone is looking at them and then suddenly they are twanged into the air, unceremoniously bouncing off the inside of the glass, over and over again, arse-over-tit, before coming to a dazed and confused stumbling halt. Couple this with a never-ending loud, thumping, sloshing sound of fibreglass bow meeting wave and you have a recipe for an early-morning breakfast slaughter.  Cereal killing!
This in itself was enough, but the worst thing was the incessant noise from the three amigos not more than six feet away.  The three of them together were having a great time, laughing and three stoogesjoking and shouting rather loudly over the noise of the engine, totally oblivious to the fact that I had been up all night so they could sleep.  The boat is designed in such a way that anyone stood in the cabin, facing the bow, will be speaking directly through the opening to the small sleeping quarters. There was no way I could sleep with that racket and it got to the point where I was going to drown all three of them and claim they had been eaten by an albatross, or something.
Bleary-eyed, I stuck my head up and almost begging told them please shut the fuck up!  Mumbled, heartfelt apologies from three naughty school kids, heads down and looking rather embarrassed is the closest I can come to the scene in the cabin, and in order that they may continue their unabated joviality, a blanket was rigged over the entrance to the sleeping quarters, which, although not blocking out the sound completely, muffled it somewhat to the point where I could attempt to pin myself down, close my eyes and drift off  … It lasted about ten minutes before the blanket fell away and they either didn’t notice, or couldn’t be arsed fixing it.
I was imagining what life would be like.  I mean life as in life: multiple counts of first-degree murder, malice definitely aforethought; dismembered bodies and a blood-smeared deck, when I felt and heard an enormous Clunk! Thunk! Thunk! from beneath.
After the initial, “What the fuck was that?” and having got both eyes open and pointing in the same direction, I was awake and off the bunk, struggling into my boots.  We had collided with something big.  All thoughts of tiredness disappeared and I was up, a sense of urgency overtaking lethargy.  I threw open covers, first to the engine room and then the lazarette, and checked the bilges, expecting to see bubbling, churning grey water gushing in from a rent in the hull.  They were dry; I shouted to Dan to inform him that we were okay. We weren’t in immediate danger but something was wrong.  The boat was vibrating like crazy.  He throttled back and we began to bob like a cork.
“We hit a log!” Dan shouted. “We’ve bent the prop!”
There then followed several minutes of general conversation on exactly what that meant, the  effects on our voyage, and what could have happened if the log had been a dead head“deadhead”, or what Dan referred to as a ”Thumper”, where the log doesn’t play by the rules, ie, floating like logs should float in the time-honoured manner laid down in the book: A Log’s Guide on How to Float in a Gentlemanly Manner.  No, this Gringo hangs on-end, bobbing maliciously, peering upward, waiting to pounce.  A blow from such a beast would crack the hull like an egg.
There was no way of making it to Valdez in our condition so we opted to nip into Seward and get the boat out of the water.  Repairs could then be carried out and we could be on our way again by next day.  Said repairs required Seth and ‘Little Al’ meeting us in Seward where we would remove the prop for them to take back to Anchorage and have straightened.  They could then drive back before nightfall and we could refit the propeller and be back on our way.  Sounds simple but Seward was about five hours away at our drastically reduced speed.
Dan had to throttle back or suffer more damage.  In the narrow channels between rocky outcrops the sea was deep and churned viciously.  Without forward motion we would lose the flow of water over the rudder and so lose steering. Tension rose.  There wasn’t much clearance. We were in rather serious trouble.  So, dear reader, our choices were to shake the boat to pieces or crash onto the rocks. Once again Dan showed skill and dexterity one wouldn’t think him capable of for his size, balancing the throttle, affording just enough revs to keep water flowing over the rudder, thus giving us steering.
We donned life vests and he got on the radio to the coastguard advising them of our cgsituation.  The coastguard covering the area was an example of calm, confident professionalism, gathering information on our position, our number, our speed and our level of danger.  Dan convinced him that we were making about two knots and so didn’t need a tow; but due to the unforgiving nature of our environment the coastguard arranged to check in every thirty minutes.  We all felt much better after that conversation, secure in the knowledge that someone was watching over us; and sure enough, as the minutes firstdesert ticked … then dragged … and then crawled like a dying man in the desert, almost to the second, the call came through to check we weren’t fish food.  This happened every half hour with the same accuracy, almost to the second.  Those guys know their stuff and I salute them!
The journey was slow and we had a long way to go.  I broke out the charts and along with ‘Big Al’, pondered and plotted the best course to Valdez.  Keeping Knight Island, Eleanor and the beautifully named Naked Island off our port, we eventually broke free and headed out across the open waters of Prince William Sound, with the Coast Guard – true to its word – checking on us every thirty minutes until with the sky darkening and evening settling in, we limped into Seward harbour and tied up.  I was shattered.
Seward is quite a busy place considering it’s more than a little out of the way.  It’s not big in the grand scheme of things, the Seward highway, heading out towards Anchorage, being the only major road, but its small streets are lively and it has a handful of bars that serve pretty good food, so after negotiating with one of the boat repair yards to have Long Boy pulled from the water next morning, we four wandered downtown to find something to eat.
We settled on a bar a few streets down town.  I can’t remember what it was called but it was your average run-of-the-mill Alaskan bar, nothing fancy: music, beer, pool table – but it was warm, the food was good and we were off that fucking boat!  Still, that weird sensation of bobbing up and down in time with the rise and fall of the deck – even though now on dry land – is rather disconcerting, and even though it’s a trick of the mind, it’s difficult not to believe one is looking a complete idiot, twanging along uncontrollably on legs made of springs.
It was black and quiet outside when we made our way back to the boat and turned in for the night. I went out like a light.
The commotion the next day was as one would expect when trying to haul a boat out of the water.  There was lots of cursing and swearing and shouting of instructions as Long Boy was lifted and then placed onto blocks.  The damage was immediately apparent. All three of the blades were bent, twisted completely out of shape, but that seemed to be the extent to which we had suffered.  The hull was intact and so were we.
Seth and “Little Dan” turned up around lunch time and by then the prop had been removed.  A repair guy in Anchorage had a spare he would lend us so we could continue our journey so that saved a whole heap of time.  (This would mean Long Boy being hauled out of the water again at a later date, but I wasn’t arsed.  I wouldn’t be around for that one.)  There was nothing left to do but kick-back, explore a bit of Seward, and grab a spot of breakfast.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESUnfortunately – no dithrethpec (practithing my gangthta lithp) to Seward – but there’s not exactly a whole lot going on.  I mean, there’s a quayside market to cater for the cruise ships that stop off here, and there’s a small park, and a big wooden carving of a Native American.  Apart from that, there’s boat yards, workshops and bars.  I was just happy that whilst that lot were off doing whatever (and whatever they were doing I didn’t care), I had a bit of peace and quiet.
The new prop turned up later that day and although there was some difference in design and blade pitch, it went on okay and Long Boy was back in the water.  It had cost Dan a large sum of money to haul the boat, replace the prop and get it back in the water, but there was no other choice.  Boats will suck your bank dry because there’s no alternative – other than to sink them and collect on the insurance.  (I wasn’t even sure if he had insurance; if he did have, he never mentioned it- and if he didn’t have, he never mentioned that either.)
Once again, we said our goodbyes to Seth and “Little Al” who were going to drive up to Valdez, and we cast off.  The skies were slightly overcast but it wasn’t raining and Seward grew steadily smaller as we headed back out to open water.
The rest of the journey went without a hitch.  We zipped along, heading north, with Knight Island off our port side and the larger Montague Island off to starboard; all of us taking turns at the wheel, all of us in awe at the beautiful scenery stretched out before us.  It became quite choppy as we left the shelter of the islands, but there was no more talking-to-the-man-on-the-big-white-telephone; no more praying-to-the-great-white-porcelain-god.  All was back to whatever passed as ‘normal’ when out with the Jorgensens.
The beautiful panoramic view of the snow-capped Chugach mountain range is really something to behold: breathtakingly simple and breathtakingly beautiful.  As we drew steadily closer, guided by the boat’s satnav (No relation to Satnav of the F’kahwe tribe from previous exploits; if it had been, God alone knows where we would have ended up. Probably Russia!), the Valdez Arm, the inlet leading to Valdez hove into view.  We had made it!
Evening was beginning to tap her fingers in frustration as we made our way up the Valdez Arm and into Port Valdez.  Thankfully, there was no issue finding a berth large enough for Long Boy, and so after tying-off, we grabbed everything we could carry and without ceremony, headed up to Seth’s dental practice where a good night’s sleep in a decent-ish bed awaited.
WIN_20160622_19_46_19_Pro
I look back and remember thinking: All this and the fishing season hasn’t even started!  Charlton HestonAnd of how what should have been a happy little jaunt around the coast, with the singing of sea shanties and the camaraderie flowing like liquid bon homme, had turned into yet another classic adventure of epic proportions.   If it were to have ended in disaster, it would have eventually become a movie, a tragedy in which man pits himself against a cruel and uncaring nature … and loses.  I can’t be arsed thinking of who would play the parts of Dan, Gene and ‘Big Al’, but me?  I would have to be played by the late, great Charlton Heston, handsome, strong, righteous, dignified – illusions of grandeur I know, but, please, dear reader, let me have my moment.
Footnote. It’s 3.45am and I sit here in bed, in my apartment, in Kuwait (Don’t ask!), in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak (a real life-and-death struggle for so many), drawing Part 3 to a close.  Our world is turning to shit and I think back to how different things were then, and of how life has now changed irreparably for so many of us.  I think of how I miss Alaska and the wonderful people I am lucky to have spent time with.  I hope they are all safe and dear reader, I hope you stay safe, too.

Posted 15/04/2020 by markyrog in alaska, hamster wheel, life

The Joy of Radiotherapy (Or untimely Erectus Maximus and how to avoid it)   Leave a comment

hailAll hail the great lord Procrastination!  If not now, then maybe later.

Greetings dear reader; I hope I find you in good health and good spirit?  It’s so nice to find that our meandering paths cross once again.  I’ve missed you!

I did try many months ago to write to you of part three of the last Alaska expedition, however, I found myself slipping deeper into a sense of despair.  I’m sure you know that feeling: there is simply too much to do and when you do eventually get around to doing something, your willpower seems to have chewed off its own feet somewhere down the line?  The net result being you’re hobbling along on the bloody stumps of yesteryear, with Aunty Dementia nagging away like something you can’t quite remember.

Much has happened …

me hosp

eloiThe hamster wheel called and I, like some programmed automaton, answered.  It calls to mind that scene from 1960s film version of The Time Machine, where the Eloi, trance-like, answer the blaring wail of the sirens, whilst the Morlocks set the oven to gas mark 4 and start peeling the spuds.  I could come out with all sorts of bollocks like I needed the money, but I’m not going to lie to you, I simply needed the money.  The top and bottom of it is that I took a long-term contract at a local skint 2school and along with renovation issues on this place, time kinda grew wings and flew off into the sunset.  Once again, I found myself simply looking at a job that needed doing and repeating the old mantra that had served me so well in the past:

Fuck it!

trumpchavThe school was bloody hard work.  If I had hair, I would’ve ripped it all out.  Having a fifteen-year-old chav standing toe-to-toe and threatening, “I’m gonna sort you out!” is really quite funny – especially when the pond life in question is 4 feet tall and 30 lbs wet-through; as is being called everything from baldy prick, to fucking dickhead, by thirteen and fourteen-year-olds.  I mean, they could have been more creative, especially after all the time we’d spent on imaginative writing!  Soooo very depressing.

The gang in the English department were simply amongst the nicest people I have ever known.  With me being the only one in the department whose bag was hairy, pink and wrinkly, I had to be on my toes.  Ooh, they could be mean, and simply because I didn’t have a cervix. but how they put up with me teasing and tormenting them endlessly I’ll never know.

Also, I need to mention that one of the most wonderful, and beautiful people I have ever had the pleasure to have known died a couple of months ago.  I had known Brenda for almost 18 years and I was proud she let me call her ‘Mum’.  She lost the feeling in her legs, as some kind of virus was attacking her spine and after a brief stay in hospital, she came home in a wheel chair but was managing.  Then she suddenly took a bad turn and was taken back into hospital.  She became delirious, lost the use of her arms, and then her health rapidly declined.  We had norovirus at the school and I’d had a little visit fromshit fairy Little Miss Shit Fairy (My insides decided they wanted to be outsides), so I didn’t go to see her and of course, that’s when she took bad.  I was there when she died, but she was already out of it and beyond speech.  I just hope that she knew I was there.  She would do my ironing and I took her shopping; she listened to me whinge and I chastised her for her racism and together we put the world to rights. Man, we shifted some Tetley over the years.  I miss her so much!

As all this is going on, Estelle (Whom I’ve known since we shared a staff room many years ago), had been mithering me like a fucking bad back to take a job in Kuwait.  Now, I always wanted to do so but never thought I’d actually get around to it.  I needed to do something.  I was rotting away like a body part in a Healthcare Endendrovironment Services truck.  So, with her pecking my head like a fucking Dendrocopus Major at a nesting competition, I took the plunge, and 8am trumpstockson a Sunday morning saw me in shirt and tie, at my kitchen table, mumbling my way through a Skype interview (Yes, you know it passed my mind to not bother with trousers), and trying desperately to make sense of the dozen, or so notes I’d stuck on the kitchen wall behind my laptop – all of which now had either fallen off, or seemed to make no bloody sense whatsoever.

Cast your mind back, dear reader, to the early days when I said, “If you apply for a job, don’t be surprised if you get it!” and ended up in Iraq?  I mean, it’s all well and good to actually apply for the post, expecting a thank you for your time but we wouldn’t employ you even if we were fucking desperate, because then you can get back to the day-to-day drudgery of an excuse of a life reality has smacked you around the chops with.  You are not supposed to be told we’d like to offer you the post!  I mean, how does that work?  You’ve got tickets to see Milton Jones, John Bishop and oh-my fucking-goodness, none other than Queen; you’ve got 72 paving slabs to put down; your front bedroom floor has rotted because your drains are fucked and you’ve got a leaky shed, and a freezer full of food!drains

It was the morning after Brenda’s funeral and I awoke wondering what needed doing, and also wondering if I would be ready in time to leave.  It was at this moment that I found the lump in my groin.  I knew what it was immediately.  “Oh, you fucking bastard!”

emergency

After the last lymphoma, I’d occasionally check myself over: elbows, armpits, groins; testicles ( they got checked often, but that’s a man thing).  Thing is, I’d been checking in the wrong place.  The lump was further out; central to the leg, on the crease of leg and torso.  Well, as you can imagine, surprise, surfuckingprise! I called-up all the neighbours, got everyone round and had a fucking huge welcome back party for it!

lymphoma

My first appointment with my own doctor  saw me immediately moved on to a consultant, who was a nice chap, good at the consulting lark, and he put my mind at ease.  He told me not to worry (of course!) and to continue to plan for Kuwait and look forward to going.

I convinced myself to get on with it and got on with it.  Paperwork was completed, stampeddocuments were stamped (and costs incurred) by multiple agencies, before being sent to other agencies to be stamped again (even more costs incurred); and done with great vim and vigour was the purchasing of suits, shirts, shoes, ties, new laptop; the digging of builder’s rubble from under the floor boards, the fixing of rotted floor joists, the digging up of drains and laying of paving slabs; also, the completion of yet more paperwork (You can just hear the cash registers!) and the planning of my trip to the embassy in London.

I went back to see the consultant and I knew in my heart he’d say I’d have to stay.  I had the CT scan and the biopsy came shortly after.  Of course, I was asked by one of the nurses, “Do you know why you’re in today?” and I simply couldn’t resist it.  Red rag to a bull:

“Yes, I’m in for a penis reduction, as I keep blacking-out when I get an erection.”

penis

Latest news at the time of writing is I’ve been asked to call the hospital to have my appointment brought forward.  It’s not so much the lymphoma (Well, don’t get me wrong. I mean, cancer is a total ballbag-meets-cheese grater kind of thingy).  But the timing?  The timing is pure poetry; ballet even!  I’ve just phoned the school and told them I won’t make it.

Broken-WatchMarvellous, eh?  That, dear reader, is why I’m always harping on about time.  One minute our body clock is ticking away merrily and the next there’s a fucking big boing, there’s springs and cogs flying everywhere, the glass shatters and the hour hand embeds itself deep in the front door of Ye Olde Dog & Dick pub, some 200 yards away.

 

clattAt time of writing this, I’m sitting in the reception of the planning department, at Wirral’s wonderful Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.  I’ve just undergone preparation for my radio therapy.  Professionally executed and painless – with the added bonus of having three sweet radiotherapists telling me to take off my trousers and lie on the bed!  The consultant did tell me she would mention that the lump is near my scrotum to which I replied, “Not any more it’s not. That thing’s swinging down round my knees.” It’s quite amusing listening to a consummate professional trying to stifle a giggle.  Well, I now have three little tattoos round my pelvis to match the two on my arm and I am awaiting an appointment to be part-baked in a big microwave.

It’s Friday and I’ve just had my last treatment for this week.   The staff are simply wonderful; they know their stuff – always good to know when radiation is zapping around near the man-sausage.  It’s quite disconcerting to be lying on the bed, with underpants down and having those pretty radiographers manipulating and gently rocking my hips and groin, the cool, soft feel of their hands caressing the tops of my legs, my thighs; their young, sweet, soothing voices reading-out data, confirming numbers, their lithe young bodies …  sheeetHonestly, it takes a massive amount of willpower to switch-off from such attention and focus upon the horror and fear of being irradiated in an attempt to kill what could potentially become a life-threatening illness.  It’s an extreme exercise in willpower that keeps Mr Sleepy from sitting up and taking an interest in his pretty female company.  Sometimes he stirs, but mercifully, I coax, bully and threaten him back to sleep; thus, the embarrassment of a ghost-under-a-sheet impression is averted.

I took a wander over to a drop-in centre called Maggie’s which is adjacent to the main building.  It’s staffed by volunteers whose kindness and caring nature has bolstered my faltering opinion of civilisation.  They are all wonderful people who demonstrate patience and understanding and a willingness to stick the kettle on.

maggies

As I write, I am sat in that very building.  It’s not posh and it’s not exactly well-funded.  The ceiling is plywood, the walls are some kind of weird pinewood battens, the floor is simply bare boards painted black.  One of the volunteers is busy cleaning the sink, loading the dishwasher and wiping the worksurface that takes up one side of the room.  I sit at a large, dull-grey Formica table on which a variety of fruits, chocolates and biscuits are scattered.  Ominously, a plastic A4-sized reminder to ‘write a will’ peeks out from behind a water jug, like a fox eyeing a chicken coup.  Yellow roses, their thorns removed, reach from vase’s mouth, desperately attempting to inject a little colour into the room.  They serve as a metaphor for life: beautiful, delicate, colourful and precious, but likely to turn brown and crispy before too long!waste

Around me people sit quietly contemplating, or offloading their fears onto the ever-present volunteers, whose shoulders never seem to sag under the weight.  The volunteers have nothing but time for the people who walk through the door.  I see them deep in conversation with individuals who are trying to come to terms with the cards they have been dealt.  No-one is overlooked, no-one is forgotten.  No-one goes without a brew!  There is a gentle and calm thread – an undercurrent – that runs through the place, an assertion that allays fears and unites sufferers and families alike.  There is hope here – or at least a shoulder to cry on when all you hair’s clogging the sink drain back home and your sagging, half-full catheter bag is hanging below your dressing gown.

The actual treatment is quick and painless: two ten-second bursts of Rontgen and Curie’s finest and it’s pants back on and out of the door to await a lift home from the awesomeTetley-216-Tea-Bags volunteers who give their time to ferry us across the region – and sometimes across the country!  It’s an hour and a half drive each way for moi, so ‘Maggie’s’ comes in quite handy whilst waiting to go home.  A brew and a slice of cake is very important for the healing process!

My last treatment didn’t go without those cheeky, shameless, pretty radiographers’ having a final test of my willpower…

Treatment began as normal with me getting my kit off as soon as I get into the room and getting onto the bed, then it’s underpants down and a (large!) piece of paper towel to cover Mr Sleepy.  However, I wasn’t positioned correctly and the request came for me to use my back and bottom to wiggle further down the bed. This caused some amount of flopping and jostling and loss of aforementioned paper towel.

“No, you’ve gone too far.  Come back up.”

Remember, dear reader, my underpants are down, I’m focussing desperately on a speck of dirt on the underside of the machine, and I’m flopping around on the bed, doing an impression of a frantic beached salmon trying to get back into the water.  Mr Sleepy wasn’t only in danger of waking and rising like a fleshy Cleopatra’s Needle, but also of beating himself to death on my navel.

“… Okay, back up a little.” The young one with the dark hair, stood to my right, was waiting patiently for me to get my act together.  “No, too far again!  Lift your bottom and … “

“Pelvic thrust movements!” the blonde radiographer on the other side of the bed chirped.coyote3.jpg

I bit my lip hard – mercifully – and a retort was stifled only by my inability to decide which innuendo would be considered most outrageously unacceptable.

I pelvic-thrusted myself back up the bed like a porn star chasing an Oscar, until told I was in the correct position.  The blonde, having told me to stay perfectly still, headed back to the control room to do whatever Ju-Ju it was they did back there, whilst the young one put the gel pad (A big nappy-like thingy that keeps the radiation closer to the surface of the skin) over a now dangerously close to waking Mr Sleepy.  Her cool handsnail adjust the pad and her soft, warm hands caresses my thigh as she applies the tape to hold the pad in place… Oh my God!  Please think of something else. This machine is very dirty have I done my washing eating worms licking a slug standing on a nail being sick and having to swallow it again farting in a lift – ANYTHING!

“All done!”

Never in my existence have I ever been so grateful to hear those words.  However, my huge, mental sigh of relief turned almost to an apoplectic scream of terror, as, when stepping back, I swear by all I hold dear, she gave Mr. Sleepy a cheeky tap-tap pat through the gel pad.

Can a man become less of a man and yet more of a man in the same instant?HEd

Anyway, treatment is over and I’m still here, however, there is always a final twist in the tale and, my friends, this tail is no exception…

About two weeks after my final treatment I’m congratulating myself on not having suffered much in the way of side-effects.  I felt like I’d been slapped across the thigh – a bit sore and red – but nothing untoward.  But, of course, the perils of patting oneself on the back are as perilous as something really perilous that I can’t quite think of right now.  Let’s just say it shouldn’t be done.  And that became apparent when, after getting out of the shower one morning, I happened to glance in the mirror.  Imagine: Incredulity meets Confusion; they marry and have a child they call Whatthefuck.  That’s the sense of bewilderment one feels upon realising that half of one’s pubes have disappeared pubessovernight.  I mean gone!  Not a sign!  Legged-it!  George W. has left town!  I’m bald as a baby’s arse and twice as smooth, with a perfect demarcation line, as if they’d been shaved off by a professional pube shaver in a world pube shaving competition.  First thought – after fucking hell! – was what if I get run-over?  How do explain this?  It looked like the before and after images in a Veet advert.  So, of course, out comes the razor and the shaving cream and off comes the rest.  Ah, pre-pubescence revisited!  Those were thegrass days!  Of course, over time the garden has grown back, but it’s a bit like some fell on stony ground: the irradiated side is a little weaker-looking, a little thinner, like a plant that hasn’t been fed on Baby Bio compared to one that has. Most importantly, all systems are normal and functioning within normal parameters. And by that, I mean nothing’s turned green and fallen off … yet!

As it happens, the school still wanted me and so having decided I’d sat back feeling sorry for myself long enough, I jammed everything into a suitcase and 1st of January 2018, saw me locking my front door in the early hours of a cold and dark winter’s morning, jumping in a taxi to Manchester and catching an early flight to Kuwait.

And thus begins another chapter.

time

 

Posted 08/02/2019 by markyrog in hamster wheel

Las Vegas (Beinge the parte numbered two of parts that shalt comme in threes.)   Leave a comment

sunThe feeling of peace and serenity was what, ironically, kept niggling away at me, ruining my mojo, annoying; itching like a badly wiped arse, as the twilight closed in and I left the ‘civilised’ world behind.  I puzzled constantly over what it was about this place, this emptiness, as the grinding truck ate-up the miles, and a recalescent sun sank below the distant purple mountains and night closed in.  Apart from the constant rumbling rattle of the truck’s diesel engine and the one tinny, distorted speaker again blaring-out Bellamy & Co.’s excellent Knight of Cydonia, there was no noise.*

The sense of enormity, this vast open space and the hot, semi-dark of the late evening, instilled a sense of freedom I haven’t felt since Alaska and it was that sense of freedom – not the kind of ‘freedom’ sold to us by politicians, or lawyers; not the ‘freedom’ written on age-cheetos 2old parchment, or sold to us on cereal boxes, but a simple, uncomplicated sense of perspicacity; a sense of ‘being’ and of being alive – that was puzzling.  Don’t get me wrong.  Break down out here and I don’t think the ‘being alive’ bit would last long.  Break down out here and without water, or help … well, you’ve seen a bag of Cheetos?  You’re baking, your brain’s swelling up like a Yorkshire pud on gas mark 6, Bear_73e2c5_2184459and you’re casting your mind back to that episode where my hero,  Bear Grylls, drinks his own piss*; Mother Nature, meanwhile, in her own inimitable style, is sadly declaring, all right soft lad, thanks for poetic, emotional shite earlier, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you!   I can see it now: my desiccated body, as dry as a nonagenarian’s crotch, slowly turning into chamois leather, as hungry, calculating, vultures vulturepeck-out my dead, unseeing eyes and a coyote staggers away, pissed, after feasting on my liver.

With the dim yellow headlights doing their best to point the way and at 70mph, being as much use as a blind man using his cane to pilot an aeroplane, I fell beneath the stern, watchful glare of the indigo mountains.  Signs for Las Vegas and Boulder City and the Hoover Dam became more and more frequent.  Remember, these are places that I have only read about, or remember vaguely, from Geography lessons in which I was far too busy scribbling on the back page of my exercise book, re-enacting dogfights from the Battle of Britain, whilst the teacher prattled on about places I would never see, and peoples I would never meet.  To all intents and porpoises, I didn’t give a toss.

dam

Sadly, it was too dark to take in that concrete tribute to man’s efforts to tame nature, but crossing it reminded me of a scene from a sci-fi movie: harsh white lights illuminating the bare concrete expanse, and side roads seemingly disappearing into the contrasting black of the hillside, creating the impression of hidden underground test sites, where men in white lab coats dissect aliens and two-headed, supervillains are birthed in hermetically-sealed glass boxes.

Boulder City came and went.  A brief flurry of activity and lights that was far behind before the excitement had chance to manifest wholly.  Now you see me, now you … wonder if you really did see me!  Like first time sex: over and done with before it’s even got started, but leaves you with a big grin on yer face, deep in the knowledge that something amazing happened!

grin
* I say, ‘apart from,’ as if it is of no consequence.  If you can imagine sticking your head in a blender then you are there in the truck with me.

* I’m never going to kiss him ever again!

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Posted 20/08/2016 by markyrog in hamster wheel

Back on the Road (beinge the parte onne of parts that shalt comme in threes.)   Leave a comment

Your device is having trouble recognising you.

hp-envy-fingerprint-readerWhy, why, why does this stupid fingerprint reader on this notepad thing keep telling me it doesn’t recognise me?  Move your finger to the right, move it to the left, try a longer stroke.  It’s giving me advice on the art de pleasure une femme*, yet it knows me not.  Not a massive issue in the great and grand scheme of things.  As long as the message displayed isn’t your mirror is having trouble recognising you!  But I guess when that issue arises I’ll neither know, nor care; the world will have become even more of a Magic Roundabout than it is at present!

4.2

Hey, I know that guy!  He’s looking over as if he knows me?  I’ll give him a wave.  See, he just waved too.  I’ll go over and say hello.  Oh, hang on.  He’s coming over here!

And so we set off again, down the rutted, muddy rutruttrack that is the mind of the ever-so-slightly-mad-as-a-fucking-hatter writer of this blog; meandering through the stinging nettles of experience, wading through the quagmire of random thought, getting caught in the redback’s flossy web of emotions, and redback-spidergetting a kick in the general bollocks that litters the path from cradle to grave.  Be sure to bring some butties.*

 

It’s 3.20 of the oh fuck! variety in Good Old Blighty and once again I’m up in the air.  Quite literally this time.  I’m umpteen thousand feet up and heading for Arizona; Muse, H.A.A.R.P. is on my music thingy and although cart3I’m tired, the plane is quite comfortable.   Considering I’m in cattle-truck class, that’s not a bad result.  I was rather worried, as I’ve torn the cartilage in my knee and it throbs like a  carthorse’s dick.  Looks like I’ll be going under the knife when I return to England and although it’s total-knee-surgerygood to be getting my money’s worth out of our glorious N.H.S., I’m worried about it being an end to my footy career.  There goes the England call-up.  I can’t even drink myself into a gibbering, slobbering wreck, as me and alcohol are no longer friends.  Now, yes, I know, dear reader, that we’ve played this particular record till it’s worn, scratched and the label’s fell off, but I’m still off the alcohol after three months and so, without footy, I’m a bit lost.

e-cigarette

Maybe I should start smoking?  Y’know, be all sophisticated and debonair with a bloody great vaping dildo clamped between my teeth; puffing out cumulus cloud-sized wafts of whatever issues forth from those things and bringing back memories of the old cor blimey, wotcha cocksparra, up the old apples n pears, ‘Git arrrta mah paaahb!’ London smogs. peggy-mitchell-eastenders-barbara-windsor Should make the elderly feel at home and create a little nicotine-flavoured ambience at the same time.  I mean, they do so many exciting, deluxe, luxury flavours for those things: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, Tetley-216-Tea-Bagspoached egg flavour, or even strawberry poached egg flavour!  Now, if they did a Tetley flavour I might be a little tempted … or maybe a vagina flavour?  Essence of Pubescence!  Now there’s a cologne for the middle-aged, mid-life crisis-ridden male.  NO, I’m not going into anything to do with a penis flavour.  Forget it!  My bike’s got a crossbar.

dejected-dog-9075013The ending of latest romantic interlude sees me once again metaphorically sat on my suitcase, at the side of the road, thumb extended and spitting-out the gritty sand that got into the last ‘I love you so much!’ sandwich I took a bite of.  Is it me, dear reader?  Am I not interpreting correctly?  Obviously I’m not.  I just entered, ‘I love you so much and want to spend the rest of my life with you,’ into the great god Google, hit the translate key and it came up with: Oh, I’m sorry.  Did I say I love you?  What I meant to say was I don’t really love you, because I don’t know what love is.  It’s just some word I bandy around as it makes me feel good.  But, thanks anyway; now I really must be going to ‘really love’ the next person, because I’m a superficial and shallow individual, with no concept of what it actually means to love!

Do I sound angry?  Bitter?  Then I do so humbly apologise.  I was trying for so much more!angry

*Haven’t a fucking clue.  Don’t ask!

*It’s hot where we’re going, so don’t bring anything that won’t last.  My Boursin cheese is reverting back to a liquid state; the bagels I plan to use to stop the truck rolling if I need to change a tyre, and my parma ham is looking somewhat like the contents of King Tut’s sarcophagus.

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Posted 22/06/2016 by markyrog in hamster wheel

The Ramblings of a Person of Misplaced Sanity.   Leave a comment

An Ode to a Car.

O noble steed,
Forever ready,
Starts first time,
His name is Neddy.

Yes, lerghies and gentlegerms, that’s right, Old Neddy has finally gone.  With 134,400 Boxer-taken-awaymiles on the clock, I sold him on.  It eases the conscience to know I didn’t send him to the knacker’s yard; I didn’t hand him over to the glue boiler and paintbrush maker.  He was in a poor state but still passed his M.O.T. first time.  I guess the equivalent would be your 88 tumblr_ncsjkhPulY1rsxqqio1_500years-old grandfather demonstrating how he doesn’t need Viagra!  I had to laugh when he passed the M.O.T., as I’m pacing up and down like an expectant father, wondering just what this is gonna cost me in the long run and will it all be worth it in the end? (Just like an expectant father!)  He comes out and passes me the certificate, saying, “Everything’s fine.  Just run it into the ground now.” I laughed aloud as I told him I’d been trying to do that for the last ten years.  Damn thing just wouldn’t die!  And so I sold him for £125.  That makes the price of silver at just short of £4.17 per piece.  Judas would’ve been proud of me.judas_takes_money

nissan-qashqai-360His replacement – my new steed – is a Quashqai 360, with more bells and whistles than Ye Olde Bells and Whistles Shoppe!  So many buttons to push; each one bringing an ‘Oooh!’ that would make a New Years’ Eve pyrotechnics display director spontaneously orgasm.  Thinking of naming him Onion. (Outstanding New Improved Old Neddy.)  Despite the fact he’s magnetic red (red onion),  when he starts, well, he can be sweet onion; if he doesn’t start he will make me cry; when we get into a pickle …   I’m not quite sure whether I’ve had him long enough for him to warrant a name though?  It’s like farting in front of a new girlfriend: you really want to just to get it out of the way; let the real ‘you’ shine through, but you’re not quite sure whether you know her well enough yet.

Now I understand why these people take up two parking spaces: they’re terrified of everyone and everything else on the road!  I think I’ve joined The Lousy Gobshite Can’t Fucking Park Brigade!  (You’ll find they meet on a Thursday night; after the I Own a Mercedes/BMW So How Dare You Be On My Fucking Road Association.)

Anyway, the deed’s done and Neddy’s off to a new home.  Like coming off the side of a trampoline: sorely missed!

trampoline

I’ve just finished a long-term contract at a school in Bolton and I say with all honesty that I’ve never met such a great bunch of kids!  If I were human, then I almost certainly would’ve shed a tear upon leaving.  They – and the staff who work so hard (and the kid’s parents, too!  (Never thought I’d hear myself say that!)) – all deserve a great big pat on the back; in fact, I would take each and every one of them to a cow field and personally push them over.  They really are a great bunch and deserve to do well.  I entered my Year 7s into the Royal Mail National Letter Writing Competition and out of over 100,000 entries … one of my kids won!  Woohoo!  I got fuck-all.  Pah!

On the subject of school kids, I was contacted by one of my old pupils. (As the eye donor said to the doctor.)  It’s the one I always knew would do well (Yes, you know who you are Critchley!) and I was so surprised.  (That she’d contacted me, not that she’d done well!  She’s somewhere down south (Sorry – daahn saahf, innit!), at uni.  She’ll be studying drugs and alcohol, or some such waste of her parents’ hard-earned cash.  Tomorrow’s captains of industry!  I fully expect her to earning a six figure sum by the end of it.  (That’s a whole £19.23 a week!)  It was so good to hear from her and I felt really humbled by the credit she paid me, although I deserve every fucking ounce of it.  Poor child!  We started with scissors, paper, stone, to see who would get her, but it wasn’t until the fourth death from Russian Roulette that I lost my nerve and agreed to have her in my form. student

She’s a star, really, and she knows it.  As are they all!

I was away with some friends, up in the Lake District.  It’s a kind of sad time.  It’s another reminder of how fleeting our time is and how we need to live, or as the outrageously talented Mr Bellamy advises: Don’t waste your time, or time will waste you!  Incidentally, luckily I checked my ticket to see Muse, as it’s this Saturday.  They’re such talented musicians.  I wish I had an iota of Matt Bellamy’s talent.

muse-2013

Had one of my earth-shattering, pointless existential moments again and came up with …

An experiment:

Man falling through sand timer.

If one was to take a time piece and loudly count down one minute, from 60 to zero, this would be your life, ticking away, from birth til death; then, after zero – your death – reverse and continue counting upwards.  This is the world continuing after you have gone.  Time continues, the world moves on, and you slip away into the past, further and further, and no-one remembers.  And we’ll love, and we’ll hate, and we’ll die, all to no avail!

History is a thing of the past!

I spent most of my time up north out on my own, exploring and running.  It’s funny trying to get up a 17% gradient.  It’s like time has stood still whilst someone blowtorches your lungs.  Jogging on the spot for eternity!  It’s so funny going past people out walking their dogs, enjoying a leisurely pace; me slopping past them like a wet rag, trainers squelching in sweat and eyeballs bouncing off cheeks.  I can’t help but think I’m doing something wrong?

Took myself up to Muncaster castle, Britain’s most-haunted castle; at £7 to walk around the grounds of an 1870s ‘castle’, that’s closed, one can understand why it’s fucking haunted!  No-one on this earth is gonna pay that.

The trip was a bit like Star Wars Episode One: promised to be good, but turned out to be a complete fuck-up of epic proportions!

Anyway, where were we?

Thinking of getting another tattoo, but not quite sure whether it’s a good idea.  If I do, then it’ll be something guitary, maybe like this?  tattooI’ll have to wait until I’ve finished renovating the house to see whether the funds will allow for such an extravagant decision.  I’m not going through a repeat of the last debacle involving a tattoo.  That was a bigger fuck-up than those idiot scriptwriters killing off Ned Stark so early ned starkon!  I mean, what the fuck was that all about?  Remember: a tat’s for life not just for Christmas, so will have to have a long think about it.

The thing here is to define just how long a long think actually is.  Is there a scale anywhere by which long thinks are measured, or is it just a by-word for procrastination?  It’s like the old how long is a piece of string?  Who really cares how fucking long it is as long as there’s enough for the job at hand? Actually, a better answer would be more along the lines of: it’s twice as long as from one end to the middle.  Hey, have I just answered the age-old question?  Wow! I might be getting debated and discussed for generations to come.  Rogers’ string theory.  Who is gonna play me in the movie?  Oh, I do hope it’s Benedict!

Tetley-216-Tea-BagsAll this higher-order thinking is leaving me a little parched.  I think a brew is required.  I’m trying to remember which Roman leader said, ‘Friends, Romans. Countrymen, lend me your teapot.’  So many tributes to the humble cuppa go unsung.  It’s a little-known fact that Lennon and McCartney’s mega hit All You Need is Love, was, in the early stages, called, All You Need’s a Brew.  So many tunes! Smash hits like With a Cup of Tea From My Friends; I’ve Just Seen a Brew, and who can forget the mega-track, Lucy in the Sky with Lapsang Souchong!

I’m presently disassembling my bathroom.  Not being satisfied with that, I’ve decided to wreck the whole fucking house in the meantime.  I’m totally redesigning the whole room, so there’s presently no basin, bath, or toilet.  Talk about fallout!  At times like this we understand why there are two handles on plastic bags.  Extending the bathroom by the length of my penis seemed like a good idea.  An extra ten inches has made a big difference.  Now, I’m looking at it and thinking, ‘You soft tit!’  Can’t thunk what got into me.  What was wrong with pink tiles and a purple-spotted shower curtain?

Well, I’ve managed to stay sober for the last week, after a short prolapse – sorry, relapse.  Yes, I slipped by the wayside and lost a few more brain cells, days, and the will to live.  I refuse to sink back into the old ways because of yet more ups and downs on the Rogers’s Rollercoaster of Life.  Once again I’ve been left tied to someone’s gatepost, waiting for the RSPCA to come take me away and put me to sleep.  I didn’t bite the hand that feeds, I just kinda pissed on the floor once too often.  (There’s meaning in that somewhere!)

Fix me a drink, make it a long one, hey, comrade, a drink, make it a strong one!   So, getting drunk?  It seemed a good idea at the time (as always) and I’ve given myself good telling off every hungover morning.  I guess there’s no sense in dwelling on it.  Hating oneself over something so trivial doesn’t solve anything.  I mean, forgiveness is the better part of valour isn’t it?  Or that’s what we’re lead to believe by those all-knowing, holier-than-thou religious types, so hot on forgiveness, rabbiting on about it?  But when it comes to it, when it comes to actually doling-out a little more than just the words of their omniscient all-powerful deity, and exercising a little forgiveness, then it’s nothing but empty, meaningless vocalisations.  The milk of human kindness didn’t get put back in the fridge last night and it’s tuned into a foetid, stinking, fizzing, lumpy mess.  Forgiveness obviously only works when it’s coming their way on torn and bloody knees.

There’s so much hatred in the world and so much of it to do with religion.  My god’s better than your god!  Why can’t all these religious types get together and go ten rounds?  The winner is the last one standing.  That way they can fuck off and leave the rest of us alone in peace … instead of pieces!  Their all-forgiving deity isn’t much help, either.  He’s well and truly taken his eye off the ball.  Come ride with me through the veins of history, and I’ll show you a god who falls asleep on the job.

In my living room I presently have stored: a bath, a bath panel, a shower and shower screen, a new shiny, glittery ceiling pack, a radiator, a very expensive mirror, a 27″ television and all sorts of other odds and sods.  I can’t move and the place is a shithole.  It’s difficult to keep going when things are like they are, but got to keep going and see it through.  When it’s done I’m going to have a nice deep bath, with smelly candle, cup of tea, and Kindle; and I’m going to stop in there until I turn into a prune.dog-bath

It’s 5.30am and sleep, too, has decided it’s better off someplace else away from me, so I got up and made a brew.  Could murder a Belgian bun right now.  Had to settle for a toasted bagel, but – well – it’s just not fair!  It’s one of those times when nothing short of a sweet and juicybun pastry, topped with virgin-white icing and crowned with a little nipple of a glace cherry, can tame the savage breast.  Oh, to nibble on that sweet, red juicy nipple right now!  Actually, I’m a bit of a cake whore, so anything with fresh cream in would do.  At this moment, an iced fucking finger would do!  When I say an iced fucking finger, I don’t mean an iced finger that’s used as a … aw, you know what I’m trying to say!

I hope I have a more productive day tomorrow.  I’ll probably not be out of bed until gone 10am.  It’s a real struggle to get moving and get something done.  It’s like a mucuscolorchesty cough: no matter how much wheezing and hawking we do we just can’t shake loose the mucous that clogs our bagpipes.  On a good day, we might cough-up a lump of the old bronchial chewing gum, maybe accompanied by a spongy bit of lung tissue, but it doesn’t make any difference and, eventually, we give up and drown in our own snot.

It’s 3.47am and outside the rain is falling heavily, albeit in fits and starts.  The wind, too, is gusting and I’m wondering whether anyone else is lying awake listening to it hammering on the windows, gurgling in the gutters, cold and forbidding; I wonder if they lie there, wondering what tomorrow will bring and if they, too, are cursing a Belgian bun-shaped emptiness in their lives.  I’m really craving something sweet right now.  Man, I hope I’m not pregnant.

Well, Muse were absolutely fucking awesome!  They were beyond absolutely fucking awesome, in fact; they were a phrase that is as yet to be invented that betters absolutely fucking awesome.  It was a full house and they nearly brought the roof down; the stage show was great and I didn’t expect the bleeding great space ship that did a circuit of the building.  If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, then watch this and then go and see them:

Drones

I guess I’d better put this to bed, so to speak.  It’s yet another 5.30am, almost.  We shall close our eyes and as we drift off into the all-encompassing shroud of blissful darkness that is sleep, we shall pull-up the covers, smile, and to the world outside say fuck it!sleep-deprivationAmen!

Posted 07/04/2016 by markyrog in hamster wheel

Does my bum look big in this?   1 comment

I do believe it’s about time I stopped going on about the passage of time. Although I think it’s important to at least try to encourage us to get our backsides in gear and go do something to enhance and enrich our otherwise stale existence, I’m afraid of sounding rather like Roy Batty. battyI mean, I wouldn’t want you, dear reader, to think I was suffering from chronographobia (Haven’t a clue what the technical term is, so I made one up.), Yes, it’s inevitable that all these moments will be lost like tears in rain, so I’m changing tack; anyway, I’ve always believed that a change is as good as a breast – or two!

boobs

Anyway, along with insanity, rejection, paranoia and bouts of diarrhoea (From both ends!), health has also been a constantly waged battle in the bag of skin commonly known as Rogers.

As a kid, I was shite at sports, coming in second-to-last, beating only the school ertard. (I remember his name was Podmore and he didn’t know which way was up unless someone tilted his chin in that direction.) Yes, I was a little podgy, but I was big-boned (Still am Ladies!), or it was my glands, or some such nonsense; nothing to do with the poor diet, the tons of crap food I was shovelling down my cakehole!

Sometime in my early teens and for whatever-I-don’t-know bloody reason, I went for a run. I didn’t go far, but I do remember how I enjoyed it, having to push myself to keep going. Now, I’m not saying I suddenly became Nike reborn in mortal form, nikenor can I claim to have been nipping at Daley Thompson’s heels, and I certainly did not burn-off the excess layers of chubbiness that plagued me (And I hadn’t even started drinking!), but it did plant a seed that has served me well over the last few years – apart from my knees, that is, but they’re always bitching and moaning about having to carry me, and I’m always warning them that they can be replaced!

In my twenties, whilst I lived in Liverpool, I went through a phase of visiting a local gym. I was at that foolish age where bench presses are cool and the weight on the bar needs to look impressive. That is, until about the third repetition, when suddenly you realise that the extra 20kg was a tad too adventurous. The bar sinks quicker than the Costa Concordia, but unlike its skipper, you can’t abandon ship because it’s about an inch above your throat! To compound the misery, the only other person in the gym is a really ’fit‘ girl, busily working on her stretches. No help there, but definitely potential for great embarrassment! With a supreme effort and eyeballs a-popping, the bar is moved backwards.3-steps-to-a-big-bench-press It comes to rest across the thighs, cutting off circulation to everything below the hips and squeezing two thirds of the body’s blood supply into your dick, which almost pops. Life and pride is saved; you got out of it without looking like a complete idiot and without the need for medical assistance!

Around about this time, I started running more seriously. I remember I used to go running with my sister’s ex-husband and he’d push me to keep going when everything was telling me it’s time to stop. It was the encouragement that kept me going, even though all my body’s vital organs were in open rebellion. I can still hear his calm persuasion now, over twenty years later… the bastard!
fatNot disturbed yet by the need to go out and do the work thing, the early hours of the morning would see me donning a tee shirt, a thick jumper and a rain jacket, hood tied tight and setting off up the East Lancs. road. I’d leave the bath to slowly fill whilst I was gone, to ensure that I didn’t stop. If I did, then I’d flood my bathroom and the flat below, inhabited by the miserable old witch who complained at every squeak of a floorboard. (Ooh, she was miserable; she was dangerous, too! She once opened her front door to me (No double entendres please!) sporting a big black eye. I thought she’d been mugged or something. Turns out she’d knocked herself senseless with a tin of peaches). I remember measuring the distance I had run whilst driving that way and was rather surprised to find it was Tetley-216-Tea-Bagseight and a half bleedin’ miles! I’m surprised I didn’t give myself a prolapse! When I got back it’d be straight into that nice hot bath with a cup of tea.

We rely upon the automobile so much these days and it’s difficult to imagine life without it.  I certainly can’t imagine life without my old warhorse, Old Neddy (130,000 miles and still going strong!). But before the car era, I used to have an old bicycle, which I rode everywhere. Now that thing was excellent for keeping the flab at bay and it didn’t bother me the least to cycle four miles to work and four miles back each and every day and I went everywhere on it. Three gears it had, not the eighty-seven that today’s youth has to contend with. (You see them peddling along in a low gear, with their tongues out and legs a-blur, as you walk past them). Eventually, I remember, the frame snapped up by the handlebars and it had to go to wherever bicycles go when they die. I tried to tape it together, but inevitably had to admit that, even for me, it was a little dangerous. Turning the handle bars in one direction didn’t necessarily mean that the rest of the bike followed. It kinda decided what direction it felt like going, or, God knows how, both directions at once. I was sad to see it go, though. I thought about giving it a Viking funeral on a nearby lake, but settled for the local dump.

With all good things comes the inevitable fuck-up, and mine was getting involved with the now ex-wife. Comfort eating, obesedrinking and absolutely no exercise became the norm and my waist expanded to a circumference that rivalled Pluto’s. (The once-was-classed-as-a-planet-but-isn’t-now thingy, not the cartoon dog, who was a narrow bastard, never got fed, never shit on the floor and never tried humping Minnie’s leg!) I ballooned to a 44 1/2” waist and was no doubt heading for a go on the old chest toasters. The thing is I didn’t see it happening! Or maybe I did? We all have this image of what we think we look like to others, an often distorted perception of self concept. I mean, I knew I had put on weight, but a fatty? Not me! (Remember, I’m big-bonered!)

And now follows a cautionary tale. It’s a tale of testosterone and male pride; a tale of my dick’s bigger than yours masculinity that has seen many a fool shot down in hysterical laughter…

It all began when the ex-wife met-up with an old school friend. Not the one she cheated on me with, but one of the female variety. Anyway, after wearing-out their jaws all day, the friend announced that she had to get home as her husband was going for a run. Now, I’d been pootling around the park, doing two and a half miles for a while, so she pipes-up with, ‘Oh, Mark goes running. He’ll go with him!’

And so the stage is set…

At the appointed hour, there’s a knock at the door and there stood Jimmy, all five feet, eight inches, if that! At this point, the super ego, that little voice of doubt that resides in the back of our head – you know the one, its job is to keep us in check, feed us that morsel of uncertainty that keeps both feet on the ground – hit the floor laughing its tits off! With chest out, “I’ll have him!” I thought.

dalai

Three miles later, with my lungs coughed-up and dragging in the dirt like sacks of dead puppies, this pocket rocket is still pushing me on at a pace hitherto only experienced by Donald Campbell and passengers on Concord. Every muscle was screaming, ‘What the fuck!’ and the little voice of reason, having gone for a lie down, was conspicuous by its absence.  It was only when we got back to the house and I was able to spare some air to pass through my larynx in a manner resembling human speech, that I found he had been in the Royal Marines for twelve fucking years! marinesThe flaming, burning wreckage that was once my pride had embedded itself into Mothershot down Earth at terminal velocity and was frantically scooping-in mounds of dirt in an attempt to bury itself for all time.
It was great, though, and we went on several more runs over greater distances. It was like having a personal trainer and he pushed me harder each time. It hurt, believe me, but I began to feel better about myself. Inevitably, life got in the way as it tends to and we stopped running; the weight started coming back.

Now, readers of previous posts will know the battle that rages against alcohol, but back then there was nothing to do other than drink beer. Life was crap. When she fucked-off it kind of inspired me to do something about my spreading gait. I’d known all along that this wasn’t me. Well, alright, I’ll admit that I was a total stupid arse and decided to get rid of the flab in order to try and win her back, but this was a time when my brain disappeared on holiday with The Clangers and the heart was left in control. Bloody stupid thing!

I joined a gym and man, did I hammer it: three hours a night every night and longer at the weekends. Work went on the back burner (Hang on, wasn’t it it always there?), as I set about recrafting and redesigning myself. The diet was totally transformed. Usually the last thing to be eaten after the chips and cheese-covered steak, the humble salad took centre stage, basking in the blazing brilliance of a super trouper; no potatoes, no bread, no red meat and no beer. Ten sit-ups was hard work and I couldn’t break a mile run in seven minutes. I knew the moment I could get under a seven minute mile, that things would change. Every attempt was a failure, but I was determined.

Eventually, it happened and from struggling to do anything, suddenly I was flying! All sorts of abs exercises, upper body, core strength – bring ‘em on! The weight fell off like I’d been peeled. I was down to a 34” waist and working hard. I felt good and almost had a totally flat stomach. Once, stood perfectly upright, I actually saw my dick! (I was stood upright, by the way, not my dick!) That was a great feeling (Again, not my dick!), to look down and see my best pal, with whom communication by braille had been the norm for so, so long! Wow! No more pissing on the toilet seat.

An unfortunate side effect of the diet and/or the stress was a bout of alopecia. My DSC00194 hair across the back of my head decided it had had enough and was off. My mate pestered me for ages to shave it all off; told me he would do it. I’d never fucking liked it, anyway. It used to just hang like a witches tit; style was not on the menu. So off it came! When the deed was done and what was left of my hair was lying on the floor like so many dead mice, it was one of those weird-yet -pleasant moments. It had taken-off ten years. A baldy was born!

My mother showed me a photograph she had taken a while back and I looked just like that greasy, fat, fuck of a father I was cursed with. I tore the photo up. I wasn’t going back to that – ever!

Then she came back!

After it had inevitably all gone tits-up, I went back to the gym, but I’d lost the spark. My back was a mass of aches and I just didn’t have the drive. I just found it so much more difficult to get back into and I really couldn’t understand why.

I didn’t put on too much weight, though. In fact, the best running I did was a year or so later, when I was in Darwen, in the north of England.

Now, Darwen is (How can I say this without offending Darwenners?) a shit-hole! With row-upon-row of pre-19th century millworkers’ houses, it’s sunk in a valley, hanging like a prolapsed uterus. However, up on the hillsides, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday what-passes-for-life, it is very pretty.

The hillside is steep and I look back in awe at my ambition: four and a half miles of lung burning, muscle-tearing, screaming agony. It hurts just thinking back on it. One section was so steep I was almost running on the spot. The only thing that kept me going was the voice in my head telling me that to stop is to fail. Oh boy, did I enjoy those runs: getting to the top of the first long climb and getting my breath back on the descent, then facing the next even steeper climb, forcing my lungs to take-in air, cursing my legs to keep going, one more push, almost there! Then the long downhill ambulanceswoop and the feeling of elation at having conquered the other voice, the doubting voice that wraps us in its warm, comforting I can’t do it so I won’t try embrace! Could I do that course now? I don’t know. I would have to seriously think before trying. It was only four years ago, so who knows? I’ve heard our fantastic paramedics’ response times are pretty sharp these days!

With more ups and downs than Blackpool’s Big One, my weight once again became an issue. It’s really weird how it creeps up like some apex hunter, hunkered low, ears down and tail twitching, waiting to pounce and – oddly enough – make a meal out of you; lurking in every shadow is Temptation! Temptation in the shape of steak, onions, peppers, smothered in grilled cheese, a mountain of fries; also the inevitable undisputed king of the calories: the beer! Temptation, thy name is cheesecake!

cheesecake-main_2219709b
What I’m saying is that whilst I wasn’t looking, my waist crept back up to a 38” Oddly enough I felt as if I was still in control and capable of easily losing the weight. After all, I was still playing footy twice a week and running a couple of miles occasionally.

And so we come to this summer and another opporchancity to change things. Out went the beer (Again!) and in came the salad (Again!). I started running just a couple of miles and the weight started falling off (Again!).

My mate’s fourteen year old son decided he was gonna take the old man for a run. You know that age, when ambition overcomes common sense? Well, as you can imagine, he set-off like a pig on fire, determined to impress (See above!) and after half a mile was claiming he only wanted to go for a short run and was turning back. ‘Oh no you’re not!’ thinks I and promptly set about chivvying and cajoling him onward, reminding him of the sweatshirt he wore: ‘Quitters never win! Winners never quit!’ I pushed him for another mile before he crashed and burned. Evidently, it was an ‘asthma attack!’ Terrible!

I’ve been out running in some beautiful places, but Seldovia, Alaska beats the lot! The air is pure ambrosia, no cars; peaceful, quiet and beautiful; I also ran the Homer Spit, six miles of complete and utter beauty. Inspiration is all around in the form of beautiful snow-capped mountains and the beautiful Cook Inlet. It made running back in England so much more difficult.
HomerSpit
As the weight came off, my knees no longer complained like they used to and I often heard them in quiet conversation, discussing how much better working conditions had become. (I wonder if knees smile?) I got down to the best weight I’ve ever been, at 185 lbs (Down from 222 lbs folks!) and I ran six miles with a mile warm-up. Alright, it did leave me feeling like I’d given birth and my pelvis had dropped off, but pain is temporary. To celebrate, I bought myself a whole new outfit (Again!).

My target is 182 lbs – that’s 13 stones and a loss of 40lbs – and I’m determined not only to reach it, but to stay there! It’s hard work and there’s no such thing as ‘a treat’, but the confidence gained from being able to get into a size ‘M’, from a size ‘FB’ is life-changingly amazing! It’s proving quite difficult to shift the last 4lb, however. It simply will not move. I get near to it and then it bounces up a little. I mean, I ran another six miles and then threw in a little uphill struggle, as a kind of treat, a cherry on the top. Oh boy, was I looking forward to getting on the scales. I could almost hear it, feel it beckoning to me, calling me forward. All sweaty and panting like a rabid hound, I stepped up. The numbers settled and …

188lbs!

Fucking sirens! How on earth did that happen? But I guess the thing is to not give up, so I’ll be out there again, wheezing away like a half-crazed asthmatic

.“Quitters never win! Winners never quit!” Remember that? I’ve tagged-on an extra mile, so am now running seven miles. It is difficult to switch-off the little voice of doom, simply because it’s got that much longer to peck at one’s head: Give up! Just stop and walk! You’re too old for this! Just walk for a little while!’  But keeping to the plan has paid off and I’ve now met my target.
IMG_0907job doneThe issue now becomes one of maintaining that weight. The danger is in switching off. It’s like a pick-pocket, the moment your back’s turned, it’s in there. I hear so many people talking about losing weight, going on this diet, or that diet; talking about how many ‘sins’ they’re allowed. The simple truth, folks, according to someone who once made sense, is that we don’t need to diet, we need to change our attitude to food. If you’re serious about getting fitter, then you cannot treat yourself – well, once in a blue moon at the most – and the formula is simple: less in and more out and being aware! I’m in awe of those grossly overweight people who are out there in the rain, puffing along like they are going to keel over and go tits-up at any moment. We are out there and we are doing it.

Rethpec bro!

.star trek  

Posted 13/09/2015 by markyrog in hamster wheel

Alright, you got me!   Leave a comment

apology-form

Yes, yes, yes! I know that, true to form, the last thing I wrote was about the importance of keeping this blog up-to-date and that was well over a year ago. Truth is I tried to write several times, but, just like u-bends in toilets, couldn’t quite get my head around it. Things always seem to get in the way of … well … things! Before you know it, many moons have passed and WordPress are wondering whether I’ve eventually shrugged off this mortal coil and am now sat on a cloud, polishing my halo and scribing shite on papyrus with my heavenly HB.
cherub

Anyway, like the proverbial bad penny, I‘ve turned up again and I fumbly apologise for my absence.
So, where does the time go? Old_clock

I find myself asking that question more and more frequently. As age catches up and knee joints stiffen, backs twinge and testicles become good buddies with knees; as we stand bemused and frustrated, unable to remember what the bloody hell we went into the kitchen for, or where we’ve just put that thingy we had in our hand not two minutes ago, there’s the constant urge to do more, see more; experience more of this shiny little blue gem we call home. It has to be done before there’s that sharp twinge in deaththe chest; followed by a booming knock at the door and you answer to find some bloody great tall, skinny chap, in a long black robe, holding a scythe that would have the local constabulary radioing for SO19, and he’s beckoning you with a finger only slightly plumper than a size zero model’s thighs.size-0 Off you go without even the chance to say, ‘Can I help you?’ You’re looking down on – or up at – your nearest and dearest, who are shoving your remains into a whopping great oven and squabbling over who gets your battery-powered twirling spaghetti forks, whilst what was once a living, breathing mass of confusion and diatribe contributes to the depletion of the ozone.

Of course, as we age there’s risk involved, but isn’t there risk involved in everything we do? Like stepping into the bath? Crossing the road? Breathing? Farting? Farting then breathing? Obviously, I’d rather not find myself, for example, arrested and incarcerated in a Mississippi prison, with a 300lb, right-wing neo-Nazi, sporting more tattoos than a tattooist’s design book;nazi who’s fighting inmates over who gets first go as they drool through the bars of their cell, sneering, “Let’s play mummy and daddy … and I’m daddy!” Love and hat tattooed across the knuckles of his hands: the unfortunate outcome of losing a pinkie in a knife fight with a mirror.
I guess every time we go out the front door it’s a roll of the dice -or, ironically, the die; every time we cross the road there’s a danger of becoming an insignificant splodge on the asphalt. Road kill!RoadKillPH

jackAh, I can see it now…
We are gathered here today to remember Whatshisface: an insignificant member of the human race, who didn’t climb Everest; who didn’t discover penicillin and who actually didn’t do anything of any significance whatsoever.

Why the sudden interest in mortality, longevity and other –ity words that escape me? I don’t know! signpostCould be the loss of my mother, the cancer scare, or possibly the buffeting we’re getting from the turbulence that’s tossing this plane around like we’re attempting to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere riding what is, in reality, nothing more than a large beer can.
Therein lies a good analogy for life, too. I look out of the window and I see below the dark clouds stormthat we had to pass through to get to where we are (Umpteen thousand feet above where we are supposed to be!). Those dark clouds are there and their effects are still felt, but they are below us; above us only sky, as we race onward into the dark unknown.

Yes, life for Rogers, presently, is good. Could be better (Pretty obvious!); could be worse (Even more obvious than my ex-wife’s insanity!).  Things are going at a pace not seen for aeons. Also, dear reader, and very significant, I’ve not partaken in any alcoholic beverage for nine whole weeks! Pretty chuffed with myself! Healthy eating has also contributed to me being back in size 34” jeans, down from 38”. Bloody awkward ‘cos I just bought new jeans and now have to go back to the old ones. The urge to scoff-down a huge pizza is still nagging like a rude itch. In fact, given the choice of unlimited sex with two pretty, young, bisexual nymphomaniacs,lesbian or a deep-pan, stuffed crust, meat feast, with extra topping? pizza

Please don’t make me choose!

As the late, great Benjamin Franklin said, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat!” And I’m talking about food there, not the two pretty, young, bisexual nymphomaniacs.

Is it me, or is nothing sacred these days?  There’s just some things that shouldn’t be done.  The vuvuzela, the parachute jacket, Microsoft’s Clippy (It looks like you’re trying to watch porn.  Can I help?) and Lipton’s tea, all perfect examples; yet someone, somewhere manages to plummet the human race even further into damnation – or damn nation – and comes up with an idea so turgid as to render logical thought and speech completely unobtainable!  And here it is …

20150803_153536

As stated, I’m completely bloody speechless!

Five word weather: It’s really fucking pissing down!

The bad weather can’t dampen the spirit, though and Liverpool’s win over Stoke, on the opening day of the season is armsweet! Is there some magical cure for the things that ail us? Do we respond to the weather? A kind of S.A.D.? Is happiness and confidence a result of healthy eating, exercise and …yes, I’m going to say it …no alcohol?

In that case, I’m fucked!

But I face the future with a spring in my step and my tail up; an erection like a baby’s arm holding an apple! Obviously, things will be up and down over the days- a bit like erections and McDonald’s Wi-Fi – but we are living in Smile Central right now and that’s good!smiley-face-1-4-15

Posted 13/08/2015 by markyrog in hamster wheel

Helloooo!   Leave a comment

And so, dear reader, let’s cast-back to our last bout of nonsensical waffle, where I most clearly stated the importance of keeping this blog up-to-date…

Here we are months after writing about how important it is to keep things updated and having not written a damned thing in many moons.

It’s difficult to comprehend, but Mother has been dead for over a year now. Where has the time gone? Did someone in a stripy top and a black mask nip in quick and steal a bag of months whilst I wasn’t looking? burglar

They (The Great Controlling Collective of the paranoid mind.) say that as we get older, the years pass-by quicker. It certainly seems that way. Or is it that we become more aware; busier; we cram more into our days? It seems that as kids we did soooo much more and each day was an individual eternity, stretching out ahead of us with endless possibilities; discoveries to be made, trees to be climbed, dens to be constructed and scabs to be picked. Then what happens?

So, as I was saying, mother’s been dead over a year now.  She went in with a broken hip and didn’t come out.  She had a heart attack, caused by 80% – 90% blocked arteries.  0That’s the thing about smoking: you light a fag and you roll the dice.  But, of course, it’s all about choices.  She just wanted to come home and sit in her chair and smoke herself to death.  It’s heart=breaking to hear your mother telling you she wants to go home, she wants you to take her home and you can’t.

Strange how people who didn’t care and did nothing for her suddenly think they’re being hard done-by when they get fuck-all? Like those who come sniffing around yer arse when they realise you’ve come into some money. Not vultures – maggots! shutterstock_142607215
It gives me great pleasure to tell them all that it ain’t gonna happen and go take the proverbial flying fuck at a rolling doughnut!

20050818-how-about-a-nice-cup-of-shut-the-fuck-up

Alaska was as expected: beautiful and busy.  I didn’t get to play at an open mic night, but I did get to play at a bonfire on the beach, a merry and drunken little soirre that went on into the night and beyond.  A woman took this picture of me and said it’s the cover of my first album.photo (1)

Got to admit that it’s a pretty cool photo.  I’ve got the front cover and now all I need now is the music to go with it.

I spent a bit of time in Connecticut, with an old friend who I’ve not seen since 1987.  It was fantastic to catch-up after so long.  The thing about real friends I think, is that when you’ve not seen each other for so long, yet you just slot right back in as if you’ve never been away.  Heidi does some great work with cats and dogs and horses that others have given up on.  She takes-on those that otherwise would be put to sleep.  A lovely euphemism!   I could have easily brought home a couple of her charges, but one is a fucking huge Rottweiler, the size of a family hatchback, and the other is a little ball of black belly fluff.  Both were just amazing and so loving.

Did some interesting history-type things whilst there, too.  Found that the USS Nautilus was there and had been converted into a museum.  It’s amazing to think that it had been under the polar ice cap; the world’s first nuclear powered submarine!

I spent a bit of time looking a the Medal of Honour wall – real heroes, not some computerised get shot, fall down, count to ten and get up again, besmirching, money-making representation of a ‘hero’ – and was amazed at the selfless bravery shown by the men mentioned.  From saving others; attacking enemy shipping in no-win scenarios, to re-entering a damaged and sinking submarine and drowning oneself to avoid information possibly being extracted through torture.

Amazing what we are capable of!

Went down to the Mystic River and watched the boats. Amistad was there, a big clipper used in the film of the same name.  But best was the trip to the Hard Rock Cafe, at Mashantucket, where I got my second Hard Rock Cafe tee-shirt!  It was really cool.  On the wall was a shirt worn by Paul Simenon, and also one worn by the inimicable John Lydon.  The weather was good and so was everything else!

I found a great Hard Rock Cafe locator and can now start ticking-off those visited.  Two down and God knows how many to go.  We’re off to the one in Glasgow and possibly Edinburgh, too, at half term, so that’s another two tee-shirt for the collection,  After that, it’s probably further afihrceld.  As you can see, there’s a hell of a lot of them to see.  I might have to start collecting pins rather than tees, otherwise I might need a rather large set of drawers.

It’s great to be home, though, even though Luis Suarez has pissed-off on us and we’re struggling without him.  Thing is, Liverpool matches were free-to-air in New England, y’know, being owned by Fenway Sports Group.  Now, it’s back to a mile and a half trek to the nearest pub to watch us turn in mediocre performances.

I’m back to playing footy again at the Soccerdome, in Wigan.  Aching?  My God!  This time it’s like being shafted by the elephant all the other elephants call Big Dick – and he’s none-too-gentle in the shafting department.

It’s my own fault, as I’ve been living a life of bohemian decadence for the last two weeks.  It has to come to an end sometime, though and for me that’s tomorrow.  Back to work.  Ah, work!  As I lie here, I wonder what wonderful wonders the wonder that is work  will bring?  …  and then I try my hardest to forget it  After all, it’s bleedin’ work!  4b0804f29d5338e763dd99ab8874ccd9

I’ve started renovating the house, but it’s all come to a grinding halt as, since I began writing this episode, lots has happened and – yes – many more months have passed.

We’ve been to the Glasgow and Edinburgh Hard Rock cafes, and the Dublin one.

After an uneventful drive up to Glasgee, we found our hotel – The Alexander – near the city centre. What can I say about the Alexander? In her day, she must have been a beautiful hotel. This can be seen in the craftsmanship of the joinery and the general feel of the place. Unfortunately, time has taken its inevitable toll and she’s now a withered old hag. If it was an animal, then the owners would be getting a visit from the RSPCA.

We had a decent room at the top and things seemed okay until the rain started dripping-in through the roof. The next room was a no-no, but the one after was acceptable – acceptable except for the rancid smell of cigarette smoke in the hallway. Still the breakfasts were good and it had a weird Art Deco feel that was quite cosy.

Posted 20/04/2015 by markyrog in hamster wheel, life, my blog

Tagged with ,

Still Here … More by Luck Than Judgement!   Leave a comment

images (1)I realise that I haven’t written anything in a while – not that the literary world has been waiting with baited breath. I think it’s important to keep things up-to-date but life tends to get in the way of these things.
Oh, where to start!
I got myself back into work which was a positive move. It keeps the bank balance balanced and gives less time to ‘um’ and ‘ah’ over the more mundane issues surrounding living and breathing.images (2)
Life seems to have levelled-out and is in danger of making more sense. This is mainly due to me removing certain people from my life and realising that a leopard never changes its spots!

A great and totally unexpected ray of sunshine warmed me to the very soul. I bumped into the ex-mother-in-law and she told me she owed me an apology for the way she had treated me during my divorce. images (3)
Evidently, according to her, the ex-wife has (sic) “…ripped us off!”  Also, according to the ex-, I’m destitute and living out of bins. You’ve gotta laugh!

The other one showed her true colours when she started enquiring about whether my mother had left me anything after her death and then suddenly showing an interest in “us” again. I mean, I might be stupid, but I’m not bloody stupid. I’ve also got her fucking debt collectors knocking on my door.  How I deal with them depends upon how my address became linked to her debt in the first place.

Anyway, what it comes down to is that once we realise that these people just cannot understand what they do or why they do it, then we can accept that they just cannot and will not change. Sociopaths just do not know what they are doing.

I found this online:

… is to know your vulnerabilities. We need to “realize our own potential and maximize our strengths” so that our insecurities don’t overcome us. Because, she says, a psychopath is a chameleon who becomes “an image of what you haven’t done for yourself.” Over time, she says, “their appearance of perfection will begin to crack,” but by that time you will have been emotionally and perhaps financially scathed. There comes a time when you realize no point in searching for answers; the only thing is to move on. “
Taken in part from MW — By Caroline Konrad — September 1999

Quite an eye-opener and the funny thing about opening one’s eyes is that one can actually see! We then don’t tend to step in the dogshit of life as often.DSCN0751

In February my mum died. It was protracted and complicated, as to be expected. She broke her hip and complications set in; a heart attack followed and she died shortly after.
Of course, where there’s a will there’s a relation, and the vultures are circling! They never visited, never did a thing for her, never called, not for decades, and yet they suddenly think they’re entitled to a slice of the pie? Human nature never ceases to amaze me. I hadn’t even buried her before the maggots began to chow-down.
I’m also back into running, doing three miles a day. Not a massive amount but enough to fight the flab and not put too much stress on the old joints. I also play footy at the school I’m at. Man, that hurts! The day after, I always feel like I’ve been buggered by an elephant. No point in getting me to stop, as I’m like a dog chasing a stick.
I’ve also managed to curb the alcohol intake. I got fed-up of feeling like boiled shite the next day. Having said that, I did go out last night and have one or two …too many.
I got up at the open mic night at my local pub before I left, and did my version of Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road. Nerves got the better of me and I ended up playing it at 90mph. A couple of guys came up to me afterwards and I thought they were going to beat the shit out of me; incredibly, they both said “that guitar is fucking awesome!” Needless to say I was pretty chuffed at that.
Ah, I haven’t introduced you to my new baby. He’s a Taylor 214ce. images Not the top end of the Taylor range but still expensive enough to warrant a raised eyebrow. Amazing sound and looks! Wasted on me, really, but there comes a time when you just have to say aw, fuck it, and treat yourself to something lavish.
It has a flaw in the wood which makes him unique and reminds me that everything is not perfect; there’s imperfections in everything and instead of seeing them as erroneous, we should embrace them as they make us who and what we are.

I’m flying out to Connecticut to visit my mate Benson. Can’t wait!

Well, I’m off to do some work on the garden I don’t have, in the house I don’t live in. Then I might nip to the refrigerator which is really a bin and find a slice of chicken breast and salad that someone has thrown away.

Keep lovin’ n livin’.

Posted 31/05/2014 by markyrog in depression, hamster wheel, life, love

I woke up this morning and …   Leave a comment

whatwouldjoethink

I woke up early, expecting to be called into work.  That’s the life of a supply teacher: waiting!

When the call didn’t come I was quite relieved.  I didn’t feel like I had it in me today.  I knew it would be a ‘difficult’ one.

After a second cup of coffee I decided to drag myself out of my pit and get something done, maybe try and finish decorating my hall, stairs and landing, or maybe finish putting down the flags at the top of the garden.  I had to take them up as they had sunk on one side.

Looking around, I realised the state of the place.  It’s a mess!  It’s a mess and I hate it!  I wish I hadn’t bought it from the ex-. I find myself pacing up and down and wondering where and how to start.

I feel like crying.

Sometimes there’s a glimmer of light and I don’t feel too bad but then I realise just how much there is to do.  I try to go easy on myself and look at what I have achieved but I have so very little energy left. I think about finding a tenant and then getting away from here but then I think about how the place gets wrecked when it’s rented-out.

Time moves on, too.  I’m far more aware of the passing months and years than I’ve ever been since my mother fell and broke her other hip. She’s in a care home at present, recovering well, but she is very demanding, calling at all hours and wanting things done like yesterday. Things are only going to get worse as she gets older but she’s still switched-on.
I see what’s happening in there, all those old people hoping to recover and go home to spend what’s left of their lives watching television and sitting in their own piss, and it adds to the frustration. Life, after all, is fleeting.  Will my health hold up?  Will I ever get to do those things I set out to do? Wile-E-Coyote

I feel myself shutting off from the world and the people in it.  I don’t trust anyone, I don’t like anyone;  everyone just seems to be in it for what they can get, so why shouldn’t I be?  I’ve said all along that nice guys finish last.  I hate myself so why shouldn’t I hate every other fucker, too?

I just seem to make mistake after mistake and I know it and it’s so frustrating.  I’m sick to death of feeling like this, of feeling so weak and ineffectual; of being there for others but not for myself.  When I need ‘me’ I’ve gone AWOL, along with everyone else!

Oh, well!  No use crying over spilt milk. Might as well stop whining ‘like a puling maggot’, as Cort would say, and get something done. Maybe I’ll paint some doors and just listen to my thoughts as my mind attempts to tear itself apart.

Posted 30/09/2013 by markyrog in blog, depression, hamster wheel, life, my blog

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