Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last swim in the sea

I just went in for what will be my final swim of the year. It's ok when you're in the water, but when you get out it's bloody FREEEEEZING.

Plus, I could see some folks eyeing me anxiously from the shore. They stared and pointed and pointed some more.

When I got out an old bloke in a pacamac told me off, saying he thought I was off to top myself.

"You should leave a note pinned to your bike," he said. "We couldn't see a towel or anything so we thought you'd gone in know......"

Yes, a big note pinned to my bike saying "I AM NOT OFF TO KILL MYSELF" would definitely reassure peole. It would not arouse suspicions at all.

Then, when I was cycling off, a car pulled up beside me and a bloke wound down the window. "Were you just in swimming? Out to the buoy and back?"

"Yes," I replied.

Silence. He had a big dark angry head on him & looked wild upset about something.

"Why?" I enquired.

"Oh we just had a 999 call, I'm from the coastguard," he replied grumpily.

I just cycled off. What does he expect me to do, climb back in the sea and start drowning?

I'm fed up with people trying to rescue me from myself

On the cycle home I realised I couldn't feel the fingers or toes. I got indoors and spent half an hour under a hot shower but am still cold. The tips of my fingers were purple. I'm currently wearing a woollen jumper with a hot water bottle undrerneath.

It's not worth it, is it?

Though in the name of charity, I may make one final effort, later in the year

I'll let you know, and you WILL sponsor me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apprentice Week Two

This week, posh Raleigh had to go home because his brother stepped on a bomb in Afghanistan. Get well soon, Raleigh's brother.

This meant the 'boys' team was one 'boy' short. So Stella stepped over to theirs to act as chief boy for the week. Either none of the men are tall or else Stella is a giantess, as she towered over them. According to the papers, Stella was/is a gangster's moll. I like her. She is dignified, even when the 'boys' sniggeringly tried to get her to strip down to her pants for a model shoot.

But I'm jumping ahead. Today's task involved making an interesting & unique thing to take to the beach, then pitching it a la 'Dragon's Den' to the buying departments of major retailers.

I go to the beach a lot. While I'm in swimming, I'd like some sort of locker to keep my stuff in. Maybe one that could be buried under the sand. I'm scared of thieves, you see.

Something to clean the sand from between my toes would be good too. Don't you just hate that feeling when you put your socks on with sand in them? Don't you HATE it? Eh?

Sadly, neither team solved my problems. The boys invented a towel with a coolbox/storage compartment in it. The coolbox doubled as a pillow. It rolled up like a sleeping bag. Not such an awful idea.

The girls invented a plastic & canvas beach lectern. Yes. You put your book on the lectern, see, and then you read from it. Possibly aloud or at least with your lips sounding out the letters. Because you'd have to be pretty stupid to buy this shit.

When you need to turn the page of your book, you get up from the comfy position you are lying on the beach, remove the book from its cellophane holder, go to the next page, and replace the book in the cellophane holder. Then you lie back down on the beach.

Easy as. Yeah?

Oh, and you had to build it yourself. Few items in 'The Apprentice' ever come pre-built; it's a standard ploy by the producers to make the candidates look stupid as they fanny around legoing their items together in front of buyers.

When I'm reading at the beach, I like to position my book in a ready-made holder. I call it 'my hand.'

The girls managed to squabble, bitch, fight and squeal their way through the whole task, led by yeller-in-chief, Joanna. There's a lot of Alpha Females in this year's Apprentice and they are hell to listen to. Laura, the team manager this week, is one of the quieter ladies and behaved like a student teacher faced with an unruly fifth-form class. She dithered and huffed and broke down in tears.

Absurdly, the buyers at Boots said they would take some of their daft products if the girls offered exclusivity. But dithering Laura decided not to. Why, I don't know. I would have paid someone in pints of my own blood to take them off my hands. The girls did not sell one single item as a result of this error, as Boots wanted to corner the market in shit canvas book holders.

So Stella's boys won and got to knock balls with her at Wentworth golf course.

The girls' team yelled their way through recrimination time at the greasy spoon cafe and yelled their way through the boardroom.

I'm just glad my parents didn't send me to an all girls school.

Lord Sugah (doesn't that sound like a rapper or maybe 1920s jazz artiste?) told them off for yelling and then sacked quiet, unassuming Joy. She seemed nice in a jolly hockey-sticks sort of way but then nice doesn't win reality TV shows.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


It's been another glorious day and I've been for a swim. I'm all over this Indian summer. Still, sunny days and misty nights.

I have upped my exercise quota to try and shift the last few inches of fat. Rather than just swim, I have been cycling and swimming. Then cycling back home.

Yesterday, I rode nine miles to Millisle and swam out to a rocky outcrop about half a mile offshore. A seal came up to observe me, gradually inching closer & closer through the water until he was about fifteen feet away.

I saw a giant rat newly killed on the dual carriageway at Groomsport.

I often see flatfish hiding on the sandy bed, proabably brer flounder or turbot, but they scoot off before I can catch them. Maybe I should carry a spear.

I've met a few big eating crabs but when I chase them, they chase me back!

There must be plenty of fish out there, because there were huge amounts of gannets on a boat expedition I went on, out by the Copeland Islands last week. There were many of seals out there too.

I swam with four or five seals last week, I don't particularly care for the way they stare at me with those glassy eyes when they pop their heads above the water.

A strange thing I have have noticed about seals, terns, gannets and other such fish-hunting wildlife :- they come in close to land when the breeze is moderately strong; offshore rather than onshore; and the sky is bright. Go down to the sea at Groomsport on such a day and there are seals 10 foot from shore. But hardly anyone but me knows they're there, because few people open their eyes to what's happening around them.

Due to the fishing quotas, all our local trawlers are raiding the mussel beds instead of chasing fish.

I am almost certain there is a pair of hen harriers round here. I've never seen hen harriers before, but I can't think what else they might be. Big fat white arse on them. Too stocky to be a buzzard, and no wedge tail. Swoops low at dusk over ploughed fields, sits in the field too. Must be a Hen Harrier, eh?

There's no point me ringing the RSPB again. It'll be like the time I saw the poor ravens mobbed by hundreds of rooks & jackdaws. They won't believe me.

Today, I cycled about six miles to Helen's Bay to swim. On my return,
I was cycling along Bangor seafront when I had to slow down for a young man swaying all over the coastal path. He was eating something out of a Tesco carrier bag.

"Here mate come and have some of this popcorn!" he drunkenly beseeched me. I declined, but he tried to press me into acceptance. "Popcorn fuckin popcorn argargharh come on!"

I rode away.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Apprentice Week 1

I'm going to cook some sausages and run about Bangor like a big fecking twat forcing people to eat them. It'll be something to put on my CV for when the headhunters from the private investment banks come calling. And if I don't sell any, you get the blame. Not me. Because I never fail, I only ever win. At everything.

The Apprentice, then: was same as it ever was, still good, but if they showed a repeat from three years ago it would take me a while to notice.

The task this week was making sausages and then selling them, though the candidates spent the first part of the show thinking up inspirational names for their team. (Apoplexy and Sanatogen were the winning entries.)

First they bought the meat. It turns out that according to market traders, meat is cheaper in the morning, then gets more expensive throughout the day. Let's hope supermarkets and butchers don't adopt this practice. I'm a late sleeper.

Then they went to a sausage factory. A man demonstrated sausage making then the teams had a go. It was just like 'The Generation Game.' Brucie would be a great replacement for Sir Alan,Lord of Sugar.

Next, off onto the streets of London to try and ram food down unsuspecting throats.

What's the obsession with all these tasks down the years forcing candidates to carry a portable hotplate/BBQ, make food, cook it and then encourage passers-by to eat it? I'm sure this isn't the first time sausages have been cooked in the open.

Isn't that Masterchef? Or Home Economics GCSE?

Anyway, back to this season's selection of well-groomed twats with well-groomed egos.

One bloke was a surgeon. Nice to see he's dragged himself away from saving lives on the operating table for this farrago of fuckwittery. I bet his family are so proud of him.

One candidate styled himself an "Unemployed Communications Manager" or somesuch.

No you're not. You're just on the dole, like the rest of us.

The women won this week, meaning they all got to spend the weekend at a naturist retreat. Or maybe not. But there are a lot of lovely ladies this year! Even the mad one with the huge glasses who says 'Sauce Ahges' instead of 'sausages' like it's the greatest joke ever told.

The actual prize for the ladies was that they got to eat more sausages, and there was an unnecessary, lingering shot of the Cheryl Cole-alike one (Elizabeth?) stuffing a banger in her mouth.

The men were led by a pointlessly aggressive chap who acted like the sort of teacher we all hated in school; one who only kept control of his class with sarcasm and aggression. One who couldn't teach, but thought he was God's gift to the world of education. He was bloody useless.

Though keep an eye out for Stuart, a man who thinks that a 'good salesman' behaves like someone from the movie 'Boiler Room.' A career in timeshare or double glazing surely awaits. I think he is a mobile phone salesman, which might be much the same. I've never ventured inside a mobile phone shop, just in case.