Finally an update from the world of Rachel, head on over to:
and check her out!
Finally an update from the world of Rachel, head on over to:
and check her out!
I visited my old pub yesterday for a couple of pints and was very pleased to meet up with a couple of my very supportive customers. After exchanging the usual pleasantries we got to “what are you doing now” and I explained that I was still working through the fall out of the accident before finding a pub. I think this is the only business where that line is met with a look made up of incredulity and sympathy. Luckily I had Andrew with me who just gave a sage nod to indicate that he understood the ‘bug that bites you’.
The old pub is blooming, doing well despite some significant inflation at the pumps! But what is really nice to hear, some three years after I left, is that “the atmosphere has gone” and that “it’s just not fun now”. That I can generate an atmosphere that people enjoy from no more than a cold draughty building and hard work is testament to my choice of trade and to coin a phrase “you’re too kind”. The old girl is different now, prices reflect the investment that has been made and the place is operating to a long term plan. It is not that it is not fun or that it has no atmosphere it is simply that it is different.
Whenever I have these conversations they are followed by an evening of reflection, I revisit my view of the world and challenge it. Once again I have come out the other side without a shadow of a doubt, I know where I belong and it’s in my pub. It’s been a long road and there are a few more twists in it yet but the destination remains fixed. I look forward to cold nights trying to mentally guide people through the door as much as I look forward to busy nights that fly by. Most importantly I look forward to creating more memories, being an influence and a feature in more people’s lives and writing that story.
As you know I don’t generally promote things on the blog and today is no exception. I would like to make special mention of a friend though because, well because she deserves a special mention. I proof read a small piece that she has written at the request of a hospital, it will be used to help parents come to terms with using the words ‘cancer’ and ‘child’ in the same sentence.
It is but a few paragraphs written in the self-effacing prose of an author who seeks invisibility but it is written from the heart. Short, abrupt sentences bring to life the staccato thoughts that come to us all when something is too dark, too terrifying to process. Despite the eloquence of this emotional script it was sent to me couched in self criticism, challenge and debate as to its value. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “Barbie you nailed it”
Is it just me that struggles to reconcile some apparently innocuous actions with good manners? Several times recently I have seen people, upon being asked for their train ticket, present a crumpled mess of paper. I know that ticket inspectors sometimes get a bad press but, for me, this is one of the reasons.
I would reject any such submission since it surely doesn’t meet the request. If I have asked you for a ticket then that is what I expect you to provide and I expect clear, unfettered access. You would not appreciate if the ticket inspector asked for your bag and had a rummage around looking for your ticket would you. No it’s not a big hassle or an unbearable rudeness but it’s wrong and it annoys me.
Whilst we deal with trains let’s tackle the inevitable curse of what is done with the time. It seems to be incredibly common nowadays that the same women who “can’t leave the house without makeup” actually apply it on the train. I have yet to fully study this but I presume that they make a mess of it at home, arrive at the station looking like a scary clown and correct it during the trip. I have no particular issue with the makeup application but is there any need to curse the driver when the train rocks? Last week a woman got on the train and proceeded to style a wig, with two whole cans of hairspray. It’s not like that in the movies, a quick flick and the person is transformed no crowd of commuters choking on lacquer in the background!
My other point for today is fatherhood. I am lucky to have two gorgeous and healthy children, they are my world as I’m sure any parent appreciates. I was reminded today that no matter what age they will always hold the key to this old man’s heart. When we first brought my first born home from hospital it was like carrying a hand grenade. We were the parents that rang the midwife on night one when he wouldn’t settle in his moses basket, everything was terrifying. To be trusted with this tiny form, this fresh new life was almost too much.
The reward of seeing a smile, a gurgle of recognition or just feeling a tiny chest rising and falling atop mine was amazing. Being the person who can stop the sobs and calm the breathing, the little catch of breath as you make everything right in one little persons world. We learn as parents, we don’t know what’s right we are educated by our children as they train us. I used to say when my daughter was born that we hadn’t really learnt anything but then I realised that it wasn’t ignorance it was the sheer importance of the task at hand. No matter how many children you have it can’t become routine each precious and unique life is approached with the same nervous caution hidden under a ton of love.
As the children get older their gift is the giggles and the eagerness to share their day with you. Racing home in the hope that you will catch their sleepy eyes and dreamy smile before they sleep. Being able to creep into your children and see that sly smile as they sleep, almost as if they sense your presence, is a reward that has brought many a man to tears. As they grow you watch proudly and with some trepidation, eager to minimise any risk and to protect your wards.
There comes a day when sitting on daddy’s lap isn’t the only way to close a day. As your children form their personalities and grow into the independence that you have worked for, your role becomes less obvious. Just occasionally there is a bad day, a nightmare or some hidden cue and a ball of warmth is curled up in your lap, you’re still daddy, you still fix everything. And so it goes on, the reminders of how important parents are come less often as children grow older, well they do if we do our job right.
I visited my children today and despite this being probably the toughest time in my life I could have skipped home. Those two people make me more emotional than a woman watching Bambi. The smell of my daughters hair and the strength in my son’s handshake are still fresh in my mind this morning and have reminded me that there is nothing that I cannot do in this world because I am “daddy”
I would like to start this post by assisting train operators with some linguistics. When a service is in a timetable the timings are fixed, in truth that is the purpose of the document. Announcing that the service will arrive at “approximately” does not diminish the delay and there is a danger that you will soften things too much. I arrive at the station in time for the departure not approximately on time but actually on time that is the nature of the game.
I have stumbled upon another potential venue option and am, once again, astounded by how much enthusiasm it sparks. This option is a large building on the Southerly edge of a busy town. The building sparks that interest of gradual change, seeking the right use for each part of a building that was designed for a different time. One thing that really fascinates me about older pubs is working within their fabric to adapt to modern demands. For me this can’t be an instant change, it is not best suited to corporations this should be a slow evolution and a partnership between building and business.
Whilst I am not yet ready to restart my search the mere hint of a venue finds me scouring the web. I have a history for this building, I know when it ceased trading, I have approached it from every angle thanks to streetview. I spent an evening sketching floor plans and considering trading areas last night, it’s just what I do. I am lucky that the trade still holds my attention so much even as I move slowly back to being able to re-enter it, I guess in life we all need something to aim for.
In other news I have an update from the war of attrition being waged by Ms Nature. A recent retreat was just a distraction, she has returned with a renewed vigour of late. My left knee is swollen today having collapsed a couple of times over the week. The walk to work has become a more choreographed activity as I noticed that the stiffness in the knee is translating into an ache in my hip. Clearly I have been letting my gait slip in difference to the knee pain and that has to stop.
Leftie has developed a new trick and I have already developed a countermeasure of sorts. Over the course of several hours the ever present ache in Leftie grows to become quite a distraction the same being true if I get up in the night. The solution to this appears to be to manipulate my left wrist with my right hand so as to ‘crack’ the wrist. This is only possible once the pain has built to a level, I can’t prevent it happening but I can stop it at a lower level.
Before anyone makes reference to arthritis let me remind you that if inherited arthritis wasn’t enough it comes free with the injuries. I think that there may actually be a hidden benefit to this with regards to the doctor’s battle with my blood pressure. When you crack your knuckles it’s the result of moving liquid through the joint so, if my wrist cracks, there must be fluid there. Any fluid not in my veins will result in less to pump and therefore lower BP, Ms Nature didn’t see that one coming did she!
Finally the shoulder injury has developed a habit of putting my arm to sleep. Obviously I accommodate the pain in my sleep by moving, apparently to just the point that the arm goes to sleep. Well this one is a royal two fingers at Ms Nature because I am right handed! Now that I know what is happening I take no notice whatsoever until I get up in the morning.
In summary, Ms Nature may be vicious but she hasn’t got the determination of my stubbornness.
I spoke to a couple this weekend who asked me about the Island plans. I hadn’t seen them for a while and they wanted to know how I was progressing. I explained that my future had suffered from a postponement due to the accident and that I was still working through the fall out of that. When they asked “still the Isle of Wight” my response was an instant “yes”, for me it’s a question that requires no consideration or re evaluation it is just a given.
We chatted about different parts of the island and I noted that Ventnor, Shanklin and Totland all have current options. As we were talking I realised that there was no negative in the conversation, they had nothing but positive things to say, clearly they shared my love for all that is Wight. “Do you visit often?” I enquired only to hear that they had visited once last year. So enthusiastic were this couple that they viewed it as “better than Jersey”, high praise indeed!
The reassuring thing about this is that the island really is that enchanting, not just to me but to a whole host of people. It’s good to know that it’s not just my rose tinted glasses shaping my future. For me, walking along the road and stressing about the day, just thinking of the island makes me calmer. As I tread the slow path to resolution of the accident I constantly remind myself that I am working to my goal.
In other, more mundane, news I have spoken to Vodafone today who are sending me out a returns pack to send yet another handset back. Let me be clear here, there is nothing wrong with the handset but they are unable to network unlock it, essential if I am to leave their evil clutches. The director’s office, who now handle all of my complaints, have concluded that they need to “have a look” at my phone.
Despite being unconvinced I have agreed to send yet another handset back with one caveat. Should they have to exchange this handset they will unlock it before returning to me. This small victory took over an hour of nothing less than ranting to achieve. What I did observe of the director’s office is that they are socially equipped to deal with this, unlike their foreign call centre. They understand that they are in the wrong and that I am frustrated. I rant, they listen and at the end of the call we thank each other. Whilst it doesn’t help to resolve my situation in the least it is a relief not to be told it’s all my fault.
For other vodafone customers that cannot abide the terrible call centres the number you want is 08080 081
181 and it’s free from a vodafone handset.
A quick check this weekend revealed that my options on the island all still remain. Whilst this may not bode well for the businesses concerned it also reflects the poor state of the trade. In a recent survey of job satisfaction publicans were firmly at the bottom, not just low the trade was the very last entry. I spent some time reflecting on my chosen career and really can’t see why it scores so low.
The hours are long and the financial rewards are low but this, of itself, doesn’t make for unhappiness. I think this cloud of depression is the result of ‘up selling’ and it’s a legacy from the boom of pub companies. Even now the pub companies sell a dream, after all that is their business. In the golden days they would hand keys to anyone who had a redundancy or early retirement cheque and liked a beer. This marketing trapped people in the trade, not having the skills to cope with the business or the love to drive through the tough times they became commercial prisoners.
For the rest of us this is a great trade. Of course volumes have decreased and costs have increased, times seem perpetually tough. The licensed trade is not a road to financial riches, it hasn’t been for some years. It is a road to being part of a community, a place in people’s memories and it can support itself. Most importantly as my mate Andrew likes to remind me “once you’ve been bitten” for some of us it’s just in the blood.
And so it was that on Sunday I was looking at parking options for the, now landlocked, site in Ventnor. Then a couple of hours spent sketching the new bar arrangement which, I must say, looked rather good. Is it the site? Will it be available and achievable when I finally regain some traction and my life comes off ‘pause’? Who knows but it never hurts to be prepared does it. . . .
In other news a weekend of wearing sweat pants has given my knee a much needed chance to heal. Taking no chances I have protected the left knee with a piece of tubular bandage and was most gratified to find it looking good when I got to the hotel last night. I have to take my hat of to Helen for the insightful questioning on Friday. Having stated the obvious about planning and knowing I had to return to work I responded with “it was a long weekend”. Obviously she knows me too well because without a pause she asked which day I had carried out the work, the answer of “Sunday” didn’t help me!
I had cause to have ‘the conversation’ regarding injuries and recovery with a colleague yesterday. The nature of my job is such that I see a lot of people so I still have these conversations fairly regularly. My technique is a basic introduction followed by recounting a couple of blog posts, seems to work.
Yesterday’s conversation was in a car and I watched the screwed up face and physical discomfort that always accompanies description of the actual damage. Once through that I was met with the hilarity that accompanies, on this occasion, squeezy marmite (thanks Jo), press ups and sneaky cast removals. This is perfectly normal for me, there is rarely a time when I can’t raise a laugh from one of the darkest and most scary times in my life. At the end of the conversation my colleague remarked that my attitude was astounding, my answer was that ‘once it’s done, it’s done you just have to get on with it’.
Walking back to the hotel that evening I wondered whether there was something odd in my attitude to life, do I approach things differently? I can’t think that I do, doesn’t everyone laugh at their own misfortune? That old saying of “laughter is the best medicine” has a lot of truth in it surely?
I have a thought from facebook for you this morning, feel free to skip this if your hatred of social media necessitates. The morning’s concern is about the apparently constant need for approval that blights so many young girl’s lives. This can be seen in the millions of ‘selfie’ pictures posted online, what else would posses you? When these pictures get negative comments we are told that this is wrong and that it can lead to depression and ruin lives. This is a public forum, if you post a picture then you must intend it to be viewed. If you haven’t proofed the photo or hell you’re just ugly then remember this is the real world, people have no obligation to be nice!
The reality is that these pictures garner two generic responses, lovers and sisters. There are the guys who will comment positively but who would be too tongue tied to pass a compliment in the flesh. This is basic, and often missed, facebook courtship. Then there are the girls who will be “stunned”, declare “love” and wolf whistle, unless you’re gay I would suggest that this is an experience you wouldn’t want repeated in real life?
Ultimately though the craze for self admiration can be blamed on poor childhoods, can’t everything? It is an absence of fairytales that makes this seeking of approval seem ok. You see when we were young we were told stories of wicked witches consulting mirrors for approval about their beauty. Ok it may have made us ever cautious of rosy red apples but it also taught us that if you keep canvassing opinion the results won’t be good.