Friday, 17 May 2013
And all it cost me was a close shave...
It's alright, it'll grow back.
As Megan has reminded me, it is a Mohawk.
Admit it Megan, I looked the part ever so briefly.
I just love it when the kids come to visit.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
The door burst open and Alex rushed in, dodged around me and grabbed the remote for the TV.
Monday, 6 May 2013
|Poor sod. Head down, ears back and trailing a leg. All for love, eh?|
'More steak and eggs, Charlie? How about some sauteed calves liver? I'll go easy on the onions and only use Basmati rice. Marcia, there's some bread in the fridge, it is only three days old. Make yourself a cheese sandwich and give me your pillow so I can make up Charlie's bed...'
Monday, 29 April 2013
I think I glossed over the boy's kissing boys bit fairly well.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
No doubt after years of highly funded research they have determined that "People high in grit are more passionate about their goals and more dedicated to accomplishing them, so the importance of success should be higher for gritty people." That and soft toilet paper. After all, a diet of grit must be wearing on the old sphincter.
“According to academic studies gritty adults achieve higher education results, gritty kids spell better and gritty military cadets are more likely to graduate with honours from elite military academies.”
Let me get this straight. Gritty adults achieve higher education results? Adults? Grittty adults achieve higher education results? Send me back to school for my fifty-fourth birthday and I'd cream my Eleven Plus exam.
I think this is all codswallop. All they have done is re-identified character traits such as intelligence, focus and desire to succeed. Plenty of people have these qualities yet lack ‘grit’.
“Researchers in the United States believe it is the reason why among groups of equal intelligence, some people achieve more.”
What they are suggesting is that success and grit are linked. I achieved Cadet Government at Sandhurst, an institution which by the author’s loose definition could be considered an elite Military Academy, placing me in the top 5%. On my Returning Officer’s Course at the same academy I won a Director of Studies award and at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, I came top of my entry yet at school, I was as thick as two short planks and failed my ‘A’ Levels. Having been rubbish at school but having done rather well at an ‘elite’ military academy, does this mean ‘grit’ can be acquired? Clearly I did not have it as a teenager but seemed to have it in bucketloads in my early twenties. Can it be ground into the heads of cadets in some way? Hitherto useless could I suddenly achieve outstanding success by rubbing grit into my eyeballs or even going so far as to eat it? Do Americans really eat ‘Grits’ for breakfast? If so, then it debunks the theory that it is a distinct, genetically acquired personality trait already identifiable or deniable in a child’s ability to spell.
The report seems to suggest that people are born with ‘grit’. I am suggesting that it is more to do with circumstance and experience. Are we saying that all the richest people in the world have True Grit? Are we saying that the least successful in the world lack this useful quality?
Unquestionably, being determined is a facet of True Grit and many successful people are so because of their single minded focus but just being determined doesn’t endow the individual with True Grit. The vast majority of people are successful because they were simply very good at their jobs; they were clever and may have studied hard. Some were blessed with good fortune or a damn good idea, being in the right place at the right time. Do they have True Grit?
How many intelligent, successful people have stepped out of their upper floor office windows just because their business had failed? Did they have True Grit other than that they acquired gratis as their bodies slammed into the pavement? All those people who accepted Fate’s poisoned chalice and in desperation drunk deep, meekly accepting their fate, did they have True Grit?
True Grit is born out of adversity and failure. True Grit is having your teeth kicked in and your face ground into the dirt yet being able to get up, dust yourself off and start again. True Grit is the timorous lad who suddenly rushes out into withering enemy fire to rescue a fallen comrade. The poorly rewarded who freely give of themselves to the service of others have True Grit. The otherwise unremarkable individual who, suffering some terrible calamity, rebuilds his life against all odds, he has True Grit. Children fighting debilitating disease, they have True Grit. The thick, uneducated Private soldier on duty at a railway station in Northern Ireland all those years ago who threw himself onto a parcel bomb thrown into the concourse and minimized the blast with his own body saving countless lives, he had True Grit.
Yes, determination is an essential characteristic of those who possess True Grit but I do not think success is necessarily a measure of it. As I have suggested, even a moron can stumble across success and geniuses so often blow it. Success is fickle. Grit is something else entirely and has fuck all to do with intelligence, success, genes, money, satus or the lack of it.
Shackleton was spectacularly unsuccessful but no-one would deny he had True Grit. Clearly he was driven. He wanted to cross the Antarctic from sea to sea and raised the funding to mount an expedition. It was his goal, his dream, his reason. But what he wasn’t prepared to do was sacrifice the lives of his men chasing it when it all started to go wrong. Not only did he have the True Grit to consign his raison d’être to unfavorable history and return home, not as a success to be lauded by xenophobic press, but as a failure suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, he was more concerned about saving his men trapped on unforgiving ice and embarked on an epic, and to this day, unsurpassed feat of leadership, seamanship, navigation and personal endurance to bring them all home.
I think there are other qualities of True Grit not mentioned or measured by our esteemed American academicians:
Honesty, Integrity, Compassion and Self Sacrifice.
Blimey. I've stumbled across the Four Pillars of Leadership.
Saturday, 27 April 2013
|A fluffy little bastard|
|A dead rat that died a miserable death|
150lb compound crossbow
With FREE Walther competition red dot sight!
Possibly the best quality and value for money compound crossbow available in the UK.
"Yes, yes. But will it kill cats?"
|Oh yes. These will kill cats.|
Photos courtesy of http://www.bladesandbows.co.uk
Of course I didn't ask them first and given the enormous disclaimer on their site regarding the legality of bow hunting in UK, I am positive they would not condone slotting neighbour's cats.
Go on, IG, I KNOW you are tempted....
|Misbehave here and it could be a long walk home|
Sunday, 21 April 2013
|"Payment in installments for the uniforms? You always have a nice little joke for me, Sir. |
I shall just invoice you at the end of the month as usual"
I spoke to Dominic yesterday morning before his exam.
'I did what you told me to do,' he said. 'I didn't revise last night and I slept with my books under my pillow,' he reminded me (oh yeah, THAT advice).
'I thought your exam was supposed to start at nine?' I asked him.
'The exams started at Nine, Daddy, but they are doing it by year. There's some younger boys ahead of me so I guess I will be starting in about an hour as I am Grade Nine'.
Crikey. I remember how nervous I used to be before an exam. Imagine pitching up all ready to go and then being told to get in a queue. An Embasssy with all its formality can hardly present an atmosphere conducive to calming the beating heart of a fourteen year old, never mind the poor nine year old who was wheeled in first.
'Well, good luck son, call me as soon as you have finished'
And so started the long wait.
Hours later, the phone rang.
'It was easy, Daddy!'
'Yup. Piece of cake!'
He babbled on, more enthusiastic than I had heard him in a long time but he was making no sense.
'Can I talk to your Mother, please Dominic?' I asked him.
'He did well then,' I said as Bina came onto the phone, 'but when do we get the official results?'
'Could be as soon as Tuesday but he did impress the interviewers'
'I thought if he passed he would be going to Portugal in September but he was babbling on about having to go there soon?'
'Ah, yes, I didn't realise that either,' Bina continued, 'this was just the first stage. If he passes this one he has to go to Portugal for final selection'.
Goodness, the poor sod, he wants this so bad and the agony drags on. 'And how long is that?'
FOUR DAYS! Four days to select kids for a school? And they have to fly in from Lusophone countries all over the world? For goodness' sake, that's tougher than the Regular Commission's Board.
'And his fees will need paying as soon as he is accepted'. Of course. The Portuguese are slow at everything except when it comes to receiving money.
'Can you get Dollars out of the country?' I asked Bina, 'you know I am still not a resident so I am having a few problems on that score'. Right now I am trying to get a measly five grand out so I can bid on a bronze and I have until Tuesday to do it. So far it is not looking good.
'No problems', she said, 'get the money to me as soon as you can. Have you renewed Dominic's UK passport?'
'Yes', I lied.
Now there's a rush job for me next week. I wonder if the British Embassy still sends all applications for new and replacement passports to South Africa? If so, I am deep, deep in the shit because that'll take bloody ages. And it isn't as if I can ask for any special favours having, as a recluse, steadily ignored the dwindling invitations to British Embassy functions over the last couple of years. Oh, woe is me. I doubt I even have a suit left I can stuff my corpulence into. And, I have just remembered, I gave my blazer away to Eddie because he needed one and I thought I wouldn't need it anymore. Bollocks. I am being dragged back into the real world.
'I'll have the money and passport dropped round sometime next week', I said at the same time rejecting the idea of asking my ex-wife to get the five grand out for the bronze lest she start asking about overdue maintenance payments.
'Apparently there is a recommended tailor in Lisbon who fits them out for their uniforms, once I have the list I shall send it to you'
I'll have to call Roddie to bring the car. There is no way I am driving all the way into the city. This'll take more than a day. I can't face the drive in and out of that hell hole two days on the trot so I'll need somewhere to overnight. Christ, I haven't been in the city for nearly three years. For two years I have never been further than three kilometres from the Barra de Kwanza. I know, I'll bunk with Klein. As he's a sixty three year old German bachelor, he won't try and drag me out on the town.
I don't know why, but I rang my Mother. I haven't spoken to her in, ooh, I don't know how long, Dominic must have been three or four so that is over ten years. I could not remember her telephone number so I had to look it up on the BT website. I kidnapped my son, got him out of Angola and tried to hand him over to my mother in UK who refused, so after a worldwide round trip, I eventually gave up in Cape Town and paid the consequences. Naturally, I lost custody of the boy and had to take a bit of a hard time from the authorities. There's a bit of history between my Mother and I as a result.
It's a long time since I rang a UK number but the ringtone is distinctive. Then a woman answered.
'I'm not sure if I have the right number', I said, 'I want to speak to a Mrs Gowans'
It didn't sound like my Mother so I thought I had better test the voice further.
'Do you have a son in Germany and one in Africa?'
'Who is this and what do you want?' she replied.
Well, that definitely sounded like my mother, thick German accent and all.
'It's Andy, your son', I said.
There was a pause.
'Andi? Wo bist du?'
I explained to her that I was still in Africa, that Dominic was trying for the Portuguese Military Academy, that little Alex was a horse of a man and that Marcia, the black girl she had refused to meet, the mother of the whore’s spawn, as she had described the issue of my loins, was lovely. She confesssed that she was seventy six and hated being old. We spoke for an hour. I had to recharge my phone another time with my last card and as I heard the beeps warning me even that charge was running out I explained my phone was about to die. I wasn’t hanging up on her, I had run out of credit.
‘I’m sorry’, she said, ‘tell Dominic…’ and the line was dead.
Today is Sunday. All the shops are closed. I cannot buy any more recharge cards until tomorrow unless I do a 140km round trip to the city. Bugger that.
Was she sorry because my phone had run out of credit? Was she merely about to be polite regarding my son’s exams? Or was she sorry for letting me down when I turned up desperate with my little boy ten years ago begging for someone to look after him until I got myself organized? Was she sorry that as a result I was condemned to stay in this truly awful place, not as a normal citizen but as an officially expelled undesirable staying here under licence with no rights whatsoever? Was she about to finally acknowledge her half black grandson by wishing him good luck?
To be honest, I have more serious issues to deal with, starting with Dominic’s passport. If he has breezed the exam as he seems to think he has, then I don’t want to be the one who lets him down because I was too bloody idle to renew it.