Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Newish Van

Looks just like this one

Thursday, July 07, 2005


actual size - about 7cm

They say accidents come in threes. Well, I have one more to go then. Last week I tore my biceps tendon climbing through a window (doing a good deed, not a burglary). A sudden pull upwards led to a loud crack in the crook of my arm and a strange feeling in my forearm. I drove home, but ended up in Accident & Emergency a couple of hours later. The strange thing was that I never really felt any pain.

As a follow up I had to make an appointment for some physiotherapy to help the healing process.

First came a gentle massage with a white cream that smelled vaguely of dentists. Next I was hooked up to an electrical muscle stimulator that contracted and relaxed my arm, making my hand into a fist. Weird. So far so good.

The next day he suggested I try something different. "Have you ever had acupuncture?"
"How would you feel about trying it?"
I'd just seen a documentary showing Michael Stipes having needles pushed into his face. If he can do it - so can I. "If you think it will help." I think I fooled him with my nonchalant reply, but I was very nervous. I hate needles and vaccinations and have done since the traumatic "six needles" that preceded your TB shot at primary school.
"I usually charge extra for this, but I'll do the first session for free. If you think it helps we can do some more later." Gee thanks.

He put four needles like the one above into my arm. Four!
"Can you feel that?" he asked with each penetration.
"Yes! Yes! No."
He gave it a little twist.
"YES! You bugger."
"This next one might be a bit more painful. It's going between your index finger and thumb."
"...OK." Thankfully it was no worse than the others. Once they were all in my arm settled down to a dull ache.
"They have to stay in for about twenty minutes. Don't move your arm."
He left the room, leaving me a bell to ring if I needed releasing from my purgatory. I fumbled open a copy of National Geographic with my left hand an started reading about Egyptian mummies.

He came back into the cubicle (to remove the needles I thought foolishly).
"I've just come to give them a little twist." Bastard!

Since then I've had two more sessions and, apart from the initial sting of the needles, there is very little pain. It's a gentle throb, almost like a low level electric shock. Whether it's helped my recovery is difficult to say, but it doesn't appear to have hindered it.

I think I'd recommend it as something to try, just for the experience!

Saturday, June 11, 2005


The lunchbell "rang", (it's electronic and usually has the same effect on me as 300 joules of cardiac resusitation) the kids eagerly scrambled for their lunchboxes and spilled out onto the deck to fill up on food. I snatched up my laptop and raced to the library, anxious to sort out that morning's f*ck ups on the server before I grabbed a coffee. I grasped the door* handle and pulled it sharply towards me. Nothing. It had jammed. I slid my fingers down the handle a little and pulled again, this time freeing the door from its frame and allowing it to swing sharply outwards...

Ouch! The razor- sharp aluminium corner of the door raked over my right foot, lifting a toenail and gouging out a strip of flesh. Resisting the urge to swear, I bit my lip, bent over and folded the flapping nail back into place. Leaving a bloody trail behind me I hobbled to the First Aid Room and asked a colleague for asssitance. By now the blood had pooled under my foot and was settling in gobs on the vinyl floor. All this was of very little concern to me. I had something else on my mind. "I wonder if she'll be offended by my stinkfoot?"

I know I have smelly feet, I won't try and deny it. Going barefoot seems to be the only way to alleviate the problem, but when my feet make contact with footwear the rot sets in. Even open toed "slides" can't protect me from it. The smell starts as soon as my feet leave their safe haven. They don't smell - they STINK!

(footnote: 3 weeks later- My toenail fell off today, unfortunately I don't know where or when. Presumably it will turn up at an opportune moment.)

*I use the term "door" loosely - it could just as accurately be described as a pedestrian guillotine, just waiting to slice and dice the first unsuspecting idiot/victim to saunter along in open toed shoes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

One For All

Like many people, after a few years of acquiring a collection of electronic devices, I found myself with a fistful of remote controls. None of them are compatible with each other and most of them have been repaired is some unsightly way (with brown parcel tape or worse).

Thankfully the days of searching for the correct remote are over. A couple of days ago I bought one of the universal remotes above. The thing that struck me about it was its motion activated glowing blue surface. It couldn't have been easier to set up, just look for your brand of TV, DVD, Satellite/Cable or Video and enter one of the four digit numbers in the manual. After a few more minutes tweaking the remote is ready to use.

Now - has anyone seen the remote?

Sunday, April 24, 2005


So seven years ago I moved to New Zealand with my family. Since then I've become a teacher, learned to drive and managed to keep my long pants in the bottom of the wardrobe for 99.99% of the year.

A few weeks ago I'm driving back from school camp. With me in the van are two other teachers. We're all pretty tired, but looking forward to the weekend and a decent night's sleep. My van is new, an automatic (which I've never driven before) and much quieter than the diesel van I'd been driving the week before. The road (the main highway of the whole country) is almost deserted. In the past ten minutes five or six cars have passed us in the opposite lane, going south, and there is no traffic visible, ahead or behind, in my lane. As I accelerate up a long steep hill I notice that my speed has crept up to 110kph, that's 10kph over the national speed limit. I don't usually speed and I apologise to my colleagues and ease off. Then I spy a Police car parked on the opposite side of the road, probably using a radar to catch speedsters.
"Good job I slowed down," I chuckle to my friends.
"No rush, take it steady," comes the reply.

Continuing up the hill we carry on talking, laughing about some of the more entertaining escapades at camp, already discussing the possibilities for next year. The highway veers to the left and immediately drops, turning into a long downhill stretch. I glance at my speed once more, it's crept up again and is climbing, so I gently put my foot on the brake and begin to slow down.

Then I see him. Parked on the shoulder is another Police car and this time there's a traffic cop holding up his hand. He indicates that I should stop and I pull up behind him, winding down the window as I come to a stop.
"Were you speeding ?" queries my colleague in the passenger seat.
"I'm not sure," I reply, but I know that he wouldn't be stopping me unless I had been over the limit.
The officer walks up to my open window.
"Could you move the vehicle in front of my car please, sir ?"
Now I'm pretty sure I've earned myself a $200 ticket and as he approaches I resign myself to the fact.
"You came round that corner a bit too quick, didn't you?"
He asks for my licence and I fumble it out of its plastic holder.
"It just crept up as I came round the corner," I explain, "I was slowing down when I saw you."
"Well, as you came round you were doing 112*. I clocked you at 114 and then you went up to 117 before you began to slow down. Most people try and get out of it by saying they've just finished overtaking or something."
I reply honestly, "No, I'd just come up over the brow of the hill and then it started to run away with me."
He finishes writing my details in his notebook and hands me back my licence. "Would you like to come and look at the radar, sir?"
I interpret this as a rhetorical question and follow him to his car. He leans over the passenger seat pointing to a red LED display angled on the dashboard and indicates the three speeds he has recorded.
A rather sheepish "Yeah," is all I can manage. I can hear the chitter-chat of a printer printing out a ticket in the background.
He stands up with notebook and licence in his hand and by now I'm wondering how I will explain this all to my wife when I get home.
He's obviously noticed my northern accent. "Where are you from?"
Normally at this point I reply that I'm from 'near Leeds' or somewhere between 'Last of the Summer Wine' and 'Heartbeat' country, but I realise that he too has a bit of a northern twang.
"Wakefield," I state.
He looks up from his notes. "F*ck off!"
"Why? Where are you from?"
"Wakefield!" he lowers his notebook with an incredulous look.
"F*ck off!" I bounce back at him, swiftly adding “Oops, sorry?”, as I realise what I've just said.
“What's your name?”
“It's on my licence.”
We exchange some Tyke pleasantries, our accents getting broader as we speak. Where we lived, where we drank, where we went to school etc.
“There was a girl at school with the same surname,” he smiles.
“My sister went there,” I reply. I hestate before asking the next question. “So, you're going to let me off then?”
“I can't really give you a ticket now, can I?”
I can still hear the chatter of the printer in his Holden.

A few minutes later we shake hands like old friends, having exchanged phone numbers and brief family histories.
“I'll get my ticket in the post then, will I?”
“No, no,” he waves his hand, “Forget about it.”
I walk back to my van with his business card in my hand, still smirking with disbelief, marvelling at the vagaries of fate.

I moved about 18 000 kms to the other side of the world and in the past seven years I've met plenty of people from Yorkshire, some from Sheffield, Leeds and even Dewsbury, but just when I needed it most I met someone from Wakefield.

*kilometres per hour, not miles per hour.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Now that's an Easter Egg

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I got a souvenir Viking coin from the Jorvik centre