My Life in 2012: Rock on 2013…

I sit here with the silence of the house ticking like a murmuring death watch beetle and I rack my brain on what to blog about today. I’ve already cheated a bit by just posting my 2012 statistics up that WordPress so helpfully provided me with this morning and not wanting to be too lazy, I’ve decided that I need to do a “proper” post.

As usual, I do have a blog-post that I should do, that lovely chap Rich over at Sunday Night Blog has nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. I will do a proper thank you to Rich, but I wanted to do a link to his site just to show that I had noticed and do appreciate his thoughtful kindness.

But the silence surrounding me is a little un-nerving. Usually if I am alone in the house, I have the next door neighbour’s kid running up and down the stairs and across the first floor (that’s second floor to you relatives of Uncle Sam) in his concrete over-boots. His shoes must be made of concrete because he is a little teeny chap who cannot weigh more than a couple of stone (if that).

*a stone, by the way, equals 14 pounds*

And yet this one little chap sounds like a herd of elephants thundering in stampede across the floors and up and down the stairs whenever he is at home with Mum or Dad. The fact that the house next door is empty is a blessing, just one that I’ve only had the pleasure of when Meg and I first moved in here. And before you ask, yes we were here before the heavy footed neighbours.

Meg has gone off somewhere to celebrate the New Year with friends and I am left to my own devices. Re-reading this last bit makes me feel like I should be fiendishly rubbing my hands together whilst hatching some world dominating plot. But, no; this is me I’m talking about here. I have no immediate or long-term plans to take over the world. I have no wish to do so and, more importantly, do not have the capability to.

So I have reverted back to staring silently (there is that wonderful word again) around the living room and wondering if I really should think about taking down and packing up the Christmas decorations that were only put up on the 23rd of December or if I should get the Hoover out.

*again for those relatives of Uncle Sam, Hoover equals vacuum cleaner (which I’ve only now just discovered that I have been misspelling for a lot of years)*

I can never manage to look this happy when I Hoover…

Since cleaning up or pulling down decorations both require something resembling physical effort, I have decided that I will do neither. I will instead finish up this blog post, edit it and publish it. That is about as taxing as I want to be taxed. This being the last day of 2012, I don’t want to ruin it by being too over industrious. So instead, I’m going to reflect, only in the most broad terms possible, over my year.

My 2012.

The year  has been a very strange one.

It has been a year of injury, pain, surgery (times two) and rehabilitation; along with discovery and shocking revelations. It has also been a year where I have worked hardly at all. There are those I work with who would claim that I don’t work when I do show up, but that is another story. Counting the time before my work injury and the time I spent “returning to work” I have only been “at work” for just under two months this year.

But 2012 has also been a year of meeting new folks and making new friends, Marilyn, Gary and Tyson just to name a few. There are loads more friends that I’ve met via the auspices of WordPress and their wonderful blogging community. I have been blessed with support and well wishes from lots of you and that has helped me to get through the more “agonising” and maddening aspects of my year.

2012 is also the year that I finally realised that my daughter Meg was a grown up. She stepped up smartly to the plate, bat in hand and hit a home run with how she dealt with my near death and all the vagaries that went with it. She has also been there to help me deal with the work side of things and its ensuing trauma.

The most amusing aspect of this entire year (apart from the amount of time it took me to realise that I was having a heart attack while smoking three cigarettes and drinking two cups of coffee) is that I had my heart attack while I was returning to work. A scheme that allows you to increase your work week hours on a steadily increasing rise. Deliciously ironic.

When I was told I was going to receive an ill-health retirement certificate, apart from being shocked (I’d been told you had to be practically dead to get a medical retirement certificate, which is what an ill-health retirement is) I already felt that I’d pretty much already been retired for the whole damn year.

Of course that was on full pay. Now of course, when the dust settles, I’ll be on less money; a  lot less money. I am still reeling over the ill-health retirement deal and scrabbling around to find out what I am entitled to. When I called the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) the earliest they could see me was the 15th of January. Rather than panic, I’ve been doing the, “I’ll just ignore it and it’ll get sorted when it gets sorted,” approach.

I’ve not ignored it completely though. It interrupts my sleep on a regular basis in the form of disturbing dreams. The last of which had to do with living in the world’s largest cardboard box and getting into a tizzy about where all the furniture was going to go.

Photo courtesy of

It is nice to know that on the last day of 2012, I can take a break from spinning all those damn plates and not care when a few of them come crashing down to the ground. Like Scarlet O’Hara says, “Tomorrow is another day.” But in this instance tomorrow is not just another day, it’s another year. A year where my son is going to be marrying his beloved (lovely girl) and “good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise” Meg and I will both be attending.

It is nice to have at least one thing to look forward to in the New Year.

Until then, or at least for the rest of today, I am going to put off doing anything that could possibly be related to work or industry. I’m going to procrastinate my way right up to the New Year.

I am going to leave you with Happy New Year Wishes just as soon as I’ve finished my cup of coffee.

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 2

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...
Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Way back in the 1980’s when you arrived in the United Kingdom you were given a briefing by the RAF commander who was the base liaison. He was, in fact, the only RAF member attached to the base and a bit of a character. His briefing to the newly arrived ‘yanks’ was funny. Full of little anecdotes and homilies. He was very informative as well.

Part of the spiel he gave had to do with the average age of the houses in the area and the differences in the way that the local police force operated.

The average house age turned out to be about 300 to 400 years old.  We were all suitably impressed as this meant that these houses were older than our home country. The local police were called Bobby‘s if they were on foot and ‘Sir‘ if they were in a patrol car and had pulled you over.

I only met one ‘Bobby’ and in this case Bobby was a she.

I had moved off base and was living in a ‘cold-water flat’ that consisted of one room and not enough space to swing a dead cat in. I shared a communal toilet and shower with about fifteen other people.  A little later I moved from my tiny first floor flat to a much larger ground floor flat that had a communal shower and toilet in a separate room that was shared with only one other occupant. The new flat was also ‘haunted’ but that’s another story.

First floor is English for the American second floor and my ‘new’ first floor flat had curb-side parking that was only legal between the hours of six in the evening to eight the following morning, weekdays and all day for the weekend. I was dating a barmaid who worked in my ‘local.’

A ‘local’ was the term used for a public house aka pub. I loved the pub. It was a great social gathering place and a good way to meet the local folks who lived in the villages close to the bases. My first local was a very rough pub. I had decided to change my local after two rather exciting nights in a row. The first night I had sat at a table and was enjoying a prawn sandwich and a pint of lager when a fight broke out.

It sort of ranged from one side of the central bar area to the other where I was seated.  When the fight moved to my side of the pub, I kept a wary eye on the action while wolfing down my ‘sarnie’ and drinking my pint. When the action got a little too close for comfort, I decided to grab the sandwich in one hand and the pint in the other and move. I had just stood up and taken one step away from the table when the two combatants slammed into the now empty table missing me by a hair.

The second ‘exciting’ night was literally the next day when a drunk made specific threats to the publican and his wife. The publican was a huge chap and he was also an ex-policeman. Lifting the bar top up he lunged through and grabbed the drunken lout by the scruff of the neck. He drug him to the pub entrance and held the trouble maker up with his left hand gripping  his collar. His right hand flung the pub door open and then curled up into a fist which smashed into the back of the drunk’s head. He then physically threw the now semi-concious thug into the busy street.

When one of the other customer’s questioned the publican about the thugs possibly getting struck by a passing vehicle, he looked coldly at the customer and said, “Fuck him.”

Later in the same evening, a girl got glassed in the face. For those of you who are of a more peaceful nature, getting ‘glassed’ is where someone breaks a pint glass or bottle and then shoves the remaining shards into someone’s face. Very bloody and painful it leaves a large scar.

I then decided that my Uncle Sam might not be too impressed with my choice of pub so I moved to the hotel bar that was catty-corner across the street from my current pub. There I met not only local business men and their wives but folks from all over the world. I met people from Australia, Canada, and London. In those days, to me at least, London seemed  exotic enough to class as a world away from where I was living.

As I said, I was dating one of the barmaids who was half American and since she did not get off work till around midnight each night, our dates started late and finished even later. Oversleeping became a bad habit. One that got me in trouble at work and with the local police force.

Because I was oversleeping I was violating the parking laws and got three parking tickets in rapid succession. On the fourth morning, I had leapt out of bed and rushed out to move my car before I could get yet another ticket. The car was an old rust bucket that a friend had practically given me when he left. It was hard to start.

Just as I got the old heap running, someone tapped on my window. I looked up into a set of the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen on a human being. Those beautiful eyes belonged to an equally beautiful face. Unfortunately both eyes and face belonged to a female cop.

She made a window rolling gesture with her hand. I turned the car off and rolled down my window.

“Good morning, sir. May I see your driving license.”

I fumbled for my wallet and passed the license over. She took the license and walked a few steps away from the car and spoke into a radio that had a microphone attached to her shoulder epaulette. After a moment she came back and leaned down to hand back my license and look at me sternly through the window.

“I see that you have gotten a few tickets already.”

Yes Ma-am.”

“I really should give you another one.”

“Yes Ma-am.”

“Do you think I should give you another one?”

“No Ma-am.”

“If I don’t give you another one, will you keep parking here illegally?”

“No Ma-am.”

“I hope you appreciate that I’m giving you a break here, sir.”

“Yes Ma-am.”

“I don’t ever want to catch you parking here again.”

“No Ma-am.”

“Have I made myself clear?”

“Yes Ma-am.”

“Right then, get this car moved and, sir?”

“Yes Ma-am?”

“Have a nice day.”

“Yes Ma-am, thank you Ma-am, and uh, you too Ma-am.”

As I moved the car I couldn’t help but reflect that I’d just met the most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen anywhere and that the full extent of my conversation with her had been, Yes Ma-am, No Ma-am and you too Ma-am. While she was telling me off, I’d felt like a naughty two year old caught with his hand still in the cookie jar.

The worst part of the entire encounter was that I’d never even gotten this stern angels name, not that it would have done me any good. I’m sure the police have a few rules about fraternizing with known law breakers.

police officer and motorcycle
police officer and motorcycle (Photo credit: Metropolitan Police)