Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Books Vs E-Books response To Alexander McCall Smith Face Book Posting

Alexander, If I may be so presumptuous in addressing you by your fist name as no formal introductions have been made, however as my better half hails from Edinburgh I feel there is at least a three degree of separation between us and it being such a small and provincial town... anyway to the point, which is the e-book issue.

While you confess to reading an e book you do not tell us if you actually own one or if you were reading it on your computer? No matter, a small point but one does detect the slightest whiff of superiority and maybe just a hint of condescension in your comments about e- books and those that choose to read in that format.  No amount of flowering around the garden with your usual delightful use of prose in your Face Book  ‘note’ posted 29th June  2011, can hide these facts!

Please, please Alexander, do not take this as a personal attack on you, nor indeed on anyone else of similar thoughts.  In fact the opposite is indeed uppermost in my mind as I type this response as I try and measure my comments as carefully as you chose yours and always with the thought, ‘be careful what you write because this chap has brought so much pleasure to you over the last few years since your discovery of Mme Ramotswe, Bertie, Isabel and all the rest of the wonderful inhabitants of his mind that must be contained in a head with obvious 'Tardis’ sized proportions to contain all those wonderful characters and storyline’s

Anyway, Books versus e-readers,  I agree that there is nothing absolutely nothing that can take away from the tactile sensations of holding, especially for the first time, a new book, for me, preferably in hardback, but that is me probably being more than a little slightly pompous.  You get that book either in the mail or you have just been to the bookstore and brought it home in the ubiquitous plastic carrier, you take it out, or you unwrap as delivered by the postman and you hold it in your hands turning it over, the cover is inspected as is the spine and then the back cover. Anticipations are building and indeed even some tenseness, especially if it is a book from a favourite such as Alexander McCall Smith, that you have been anticipating getting your hands on for many months.  This happens with me regularly, and for your books I might add here.

So, you have that new book in your hands and it has past first muster inspection and you pull open the cover to the first page, the fly leaf becomes clear and you read while being slightly distracted, but not in a bad way, if the inside cover and facing page have a design motif on them, row upon row of No 44 Scotland Street in ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Scones’,  Elephants, Oil cans and Lizards in ‘The Good Husband of Zebra Drive’ or a lovely pale green empty space in, ‘The Careful Use of Compliments’ someone I know always refers to it as ‘The Careful Use of Condiments’, bless.... You carefully turn over the next couple of pages, and here I have to confess to what is probably a little bit of a strange indulgence or peccadillo, I look at the; First published, Copyright, All rights, Typeset, Library Catalogue details, don’t ask, I have no explanation for the strangeness that overtakes me when opening a new book, and, I guess to an extent it might be that I want to savour every single page of this delicious mind feeding entity that I am holding in my hands, who knows....

Then, then we turn over another page and we find the beginning of the best time of your life for the next indeterminable period of time, that is for however long you are curled up on the sofa, in bed, on the train or sitting in the park, engrossed in the story that someone like Alexander McCall Smith, or other author of choice, has so graciously chosen to deliver to us, it is almost too difficult to describe the sensations that flow through you when reading a good novel.  Authors, of whatever calibre and ability should be almost revered for the enjoyment they bring to so many millions of people each and every day.  A Novel can be heart warming, it can be funny, it can be dangerous.  You can be relaxed one minute and tense the next, reading one last week I was literally breathless and a little afeared one minute and the next I was welling up, not one of your sAlexander, but a self published author by the name of Michael R Hicks.

And do you know what the difference is between McCall Smith and Hicks Novels is, in my hands at least, I have never read any of Alexanders books on my Kindle (yet) But I have read five of Mr Hicks books in the last two weeks, all on Kindle.

You see, Alexander I agree with you, the BOOK in written format on paper should never ever be consigned to a book shelve just as an antiquity, as long as we can plant sufficient trees to help eat the bad things that we put into the air that we breathe, and we can spare some to pulp down into paper, we should continue to hold that wonderful cornucopia of words and thrill at the joy of discovering new adventures, whether they be gentle beautiful stories that you give us, or ripping sea adventures from Julian Stockwin and his Captain Kydd series of novels, or the gut wrenching, planet exploding, double dealing love stories that Michael R Hicks gives us, they should always and forever be produced in book format. But, if the same pleasure can be got from an e-book, minus clearly the feel and texture of the actual BOOK, and it can and it does, then I for one have welcomed  albeit with reservations to begin with, when first presented with it by my wife Ishbel at Christmas last.  

My final comments are these, BOOKS as you know are so expensive these days, and while some authors still have published works  in e-books for as much, and in some cases more expensive then the BOOK (what's going on there) the vast majority of books are very reasonably priced in this format and much more so than in book stores, and in many cases, like libraries they are free, but you do not have to return them.  This is something that actual BOOK retailers and libraries need to seriously start dealing with, better than they appear to be so doing at the moment,.  The need and must develop strategies for I,  for one,  will lament the day that we see even more book stores and libraries closing en masse.   I love my Kindle, but I love browsing and buying, in fact in my wallet I have two gift cards for BOOKS received gratefully recently, conversely I also have credit in my Amazon account, also received as a gift, that I use for my Kindle books.  My eldest grand daughter turned eight in April, along with other bits and bobs she received three books from us and a BOOK diary to make notes in, and she was delighted to inform me that as well as the fancy hand held game thing she has, that she got games for she also received toys and clothes, 'I also got a total of 49, yes 49 BOOKS granddad'.  That's lovely I thought and I am so proud of her but I do hope she doesn't forget to play as well! And, she loves my Kindle.

So, Alexander if my interpretation of your comments are completely wrong, I apologise Sir, but I think it behoves Authors of all ilks to embrace this new technology and insist that where they have publishers that they make all of their works available in both formats from the outset and don't be disdainful of e-books as opposed to BOOKS , we the readers of books enjoy both, and for those out there who have not tried an e-reader don't turn your nose up at it until you have at least given it a fair trial.

With deepest respect to you and other authors dead and alive who continue to give me so much pleasure...
[RIP Hans Falllada]

Best Wishes 


Tuesday, 28 June 2011


    Before I tell you what I'm currently reading I thought a little bit about my reading history.

    I like to read.  Ever since I was a teenager, probably even before that I suppose.  I really don't remember the first book I ever bought, or even what the first book was that I took on loan from my local library.  I loved that building in Coatbridge, Scotland.  I do remember that it was massive, or so I remember, steps leading up to massive wooden and glass doors then walking into, as I recall,  a marble reception area with the biggest stone staircase going off to the right, and do you know I still don't know what was upstairs, guess I never will now.

    Entering the borrowing room from the lobby it was, as I recall, on the left and through another large set of floor to ceiling doors.  The ceiling looked as if it was about 30 feet up and to my young eyes, again apart from the school hall or church, I had never been in a room that big.  Then of course books, shelves and shelves of books, all around the walls in the middle of the room there were rows and rows of them with every type of book imaginable. I was overwhelmed, and, as a new reader in the sense that until my first visit I had only really read books for school and I have to say at this point I was not the most, or being honest, even a moderately academically  gifted student.  Lessons I enjoyed tended to be English, geography and history.  For some peculiar reason I still remember learning all about Merino sheep, in geography, go figure, why that should stand out I have no idea, but there you go. As for the rest, maths, sciences, and wood and metal work , not very talented would be pretty much understating my efforts and attention span in those subjects.  I was also quite a good 'talker', I even won a prise for recitation and guess what, it was a book, a history of Rangers football club, as I recall. Apparently I am still good at talking as some same I never know when to shut up!

    The library was in Academy Street, on a hill and if memory serves, our family Doctor was just down the hill from it, so, two birds, as they say.

    As I say I do not remember the first book bought or even the first book I took out on loan, but I do remember I was a great fan of westerns and in particular the J.T Edson
novels of Dusty Fogg, The Ysabel Kid, et al. 
Also on my reading curriculum was Louis L'Amour.  I then remember moving on to non western books.  The Day of the Jackal by Fredrick Forsyth.

                                                                                                                          Leon Uris.
 Exodus, QBVII and Topaz were firm favourites and as a teenager back in the late 60's and although reading from the authors perspective it did give me an opening into what was and had happened to the Jewish race, things I knew, up until then, nothing about. 
E.E. 'Doc' Smith
probably one of the best SyFi writers of all times wrote a series of books entitled "The Lensmen" that I discovered and found immensely readable and enjoyable, but strangely I was not drawn really to any other SyFi in books, TV and film yes, but that's for another blog.

    Reading has always played a big part in my life from early days as you can see, as it still does today.  I rejoined my local library last year and rediscovered the joy of that forum, but I have to say with all the cuts that are being made in public services, I wonder just how long they can last.  I read an article recently about one local authority in Essex that is already planning to reduce opening times and I fear that many small village libraries days are numbered, if that is the case then that will be a real shame.  Of course another issue that libraries are fighting against is the increase of E Readers that are available today and the numbers are growing.  You can have an E Reader  designed specifically to download books or you can download an app for your smart phone and or computer.  While I don't believe that we will ever get rid of the 'paper' book I have to confess to ownership of an Amazon Kindle device. 

 It was given as a Christmas present, which surprised me as I had looked at them but stated to anyone who new me, including Ishbel my wife who gave me it as a pressie, that while it looked o.k. it would, could never replace the tactile feel that you get from holding an actual book in your hand and adding it to your ever expanding collection.  

    Off course the problem with books, if you do like to read, is that they can become quite addictive.  This clearly is not a bad thing as it is an addiction that feeds your mind with information.  It doesn't matter what the information is, really, it doesn't, it is the fact that you are reading and expanding your ability to communicate in both written and oral engagements whether it be with your friends and family, your children or your grandchildren, or in a social or working environment.  The ability to communicate is an ever expanding and ever improving area that we all need and should strive towards. And one way of doing so is of course to expand your vocabulary through reading.  So whether it is a novel or a book on gardening or cookery, a book of poems, a biography or a history of.... they are all worth reading.

    I'm a hoarder, I keep everything, including receipts for the most mundane of purchases, they are in a box that sits up on the top landing of our house along with my desk and computer that is really only used by the grand kids these days, lap top is downstairs.  On looking through it recently I found a stack of receipts for books, and it seems my addiction was costing a few bob, or a few hundred bob to be more precise, each year, hence rejoining the library again last year.  Of course the other problem with buying books, unless you have a large house with large rooms, you start to run out of places to keep them, so, while I was not entirely thrilled with the idea of an E reader I was grateful for the gift and determined to give it a go.

    What a revelation, this was,  and one of the first things I discovered was the vast amount of FREE, yes, FREE books that were available.  Now I have the Amazon Kindle as you can see but I am told that other E readers also have vast quantities of books that are free.  I was reintroduced to classics, such as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Frankenstien,  Bram Stoker - Dracula and Draculas Guest, the latter a collection of short stories that were fabulous, Jonathan Swift and Gullivers Travels, Washington Irving and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, etc, etc etc., and they were all FREE and absolutely great reads after so many years.

    This is also one of the reasons I fear for the continuity of local libraries.  After rejoining last year, I was there almost every Saturday morning getting two or three books out, reading them throughout the week on my commute to the office and in the evenings.  Since I got the Kindle I regret that I have not been to the library,  while my local library does have a fair collection of books, and you could, and can, go online to order books held in other libraries in the county, Amazon and the Kindle seem to give you just as much choice and you can have it literally within seconds on the push of one button.  Sure, if you want to read something by a contemporary author you are going to have to pay for that on your E book , but again, most authors recognise the value of sales and of course if you sell a couple of hundred books at £15.99, they might make a few bob,  but if they get their marketing correct and sell it on Amazon or one of the other Reader services for less than a pound or for a couple of pounds, you are likely to download it and read it, and they will I suspect if one authors recent postings are anything to go by, do very well out of it. Oh, and the beauty of the Kindle is also that you can download a free sample of the book, which usually includes the first couple of chapters to test the water, before you actually purchase. 

    Anyway, what am I reading today, well, just about anything really, novels, biographies, auto biographies, travel, politics, you name it I will probably read it. I have just started to re-read Asa Briggs, now Baron I think, A Social History of England.  I first picked up this book when I started to do an MsC at Liecester University, [correspondence] the book was fascinating then and I am finding it so again. By the way   just in case you were curious, I got bored and dropped out.........

    At the moment I have a couple of books on the go, and the book I read at any given time largely depends on the mood I am in, and where I am, at home in the evening, in the office during lunch or on the train during commute.  If I want some adventure, you can't beat a good thriller and there does seem to be a lot of good thriller writers out there that give you, in some cases, palpitations, really I do mean that; point in case is a self published author by the name of Michael R Hicks who goes by the twitter name of @KreelanWarrior.
    He can be found at:
    Mr Hicks has written a series of books, set some time in the future following the life of a boy, Rezza Gard, orphaned in a Kreelan attack on his home world who witnesses his parents die at the hands of one of the other central characters in the books Tesh Dar, the leading warrior priestess.  The Kreelans are a female warrior race with males living for one thing and one thing only, to breed and then they apparently die an agonising death!
In Her Name

Empire,  Confederation and Final Battle 

   This comes in an omnibus edition and in truth, while wary of buying an omnibus edition of any author I have never read before, it was, on this occasion a good decision. The action starts straight away with Rezza Gards parents trying to stay alive on their home world from the onslaught of a female warrior race that has descended upon them.  The Kreelans are 10's of thousands of years older than humanity and this is reflected in their technology however their sense of honour makes them fight, and kill humans with weapons and ships that are as close a match to humans as is possible, after all where is the honour in just exterminating animals just because they exist! 

   During this battle Rezza  a young boy not yet into double digits manages to land a blow on the warrior priestess's face cutting her, rather than kill him outright, and as a mark of respect for his courage she marks the boy with a similar scar and leaves him on the ruins of the planet.

    While it is explained that the Kreelans could in fact wipe out all of the humanity on all of the planets they exist on, without any effort, it is again down to their sense of honour and desire to have an enemy fight them that they withdraw after each conflict to allow the humans time to regroup and muster their forces and ships.

    From the very first page of this omnibus I was hooked, and I hoped that this was going to be the scenario throughout, and chapter one was not disappointing at all.  Moving onto chapter two I had pangs of an early 'bolt having been shot' as the story moved on 5 years and we found young Rezza on an orphanage world where the orphans of the 100 year old war were sent and used effectively by the administrators of the planet as child labour.  Having started off with non stop action and graphic scenes of death I thought we were then going to get a bit of a wishy washy tale however that was not the case and the time spent detailing Rezza's and the other childrens existence on the planet and their battle to survive against the abuse of their own kind was just as compelling as the first chapter and the more you read, the more you wanted to read.

IN HER NAME: EMPIRE    The rest of Empire goes on compelling you to turn page after page to see what's coming next, from the Kreelans attack on the orphan world and the children being captured and taken back to the Kreelan home system and  the acceptance that only one survives the rigours of the challenges while there, Rezza, who is forced to wear a collar and a leash like a dog but never submitting to the stronger will of his captors.  While there are obvious and striking differences between the two races, author Michael Hicks has clearly put a lot of time and effort into this and while it is a tale of two different species he clearly draws parallels between earthly syndromes and we end up with what psychologists would probably term as the 'Stockholm syndrome' effect where Rezza eventually falls in love with his captor and ends up being accepted as his soul sings with the Bloodsong, but getting there with him you feel every humiliation, bump, bruise and cut that he suffers.  You too will thrill as he does, as his feelings grow stronger and stronger and he comes to accept that while not born Kreelan, he becomes one.  The end of the first book then leaves you in a bit of a state in that if you had any foresight you probably saw what was coming but, if like me you didn't then,  woooooowwwwww.

If you have been enslaved, tortured and brutalised for years and then come to accept your self as a part of the race who did these things to you, what do you do when you are told that you now have to be a part of the battle against the peoples of your birth......................

Well, all I can say is buy the book(s), honestly you wont regret it.  These books have something for every one, love, pathos, intirigue, honour, murder, mystery and all out bloody mayhem.  Battles in Space that make you feel as if you just jumped from one author Michael R Hicks into a Julian Stockwin novel and your in the middle of a battle on the high seas, his descriptive prose just keeps you hooked, and at the end of the day, that's what you want from a good novel, a story with substance that sucks you into it.  I suppose it's a bit like a gripping TV drama, the only difference and the best, is that you don't need to wait a week for the next episode, you just keep turning the pages..... the only problem with a good book like this is that when you do get to the end of it you feel quite down as you get to the final page. But there is good news he then wrote two prequels with a third on the way and is planning a further three novels giving nine in the series. 

    I have read book four, In her Name: First Contact and I am currently on number five, In Her Name: Legend of the Sword and I can safely report that these two are every bit as entertaining and engaging as the first three.

    What else is on the go, well Julian Stockwin's next installment of Captain Thomas Kydd novels Conquest, was pre-ordered and duly downloaded to the reader.  I had planned to start this last week, as I have been waiting with eager anticipation for the continuing adventures of our intrepid Captain and his friend Renzi after the Battle of Trafalgar, but dear Julian, forgive me, but that damn man Hicks has drawn me into his epic tale and I did start so I want to get finished, but that also means I will be able to savour even more Kydd as he take his L'Aurore into more heavy seas, that he will no doubt best........

    Julian Stockwin can be found at:

    Matthew Reilly an Australian author I discovered last year from the library visits, is due a new novel out this year,  His Jack West and Scarecrow novels leave you fighting for breath as you get deeper and deeper into the action with these two heroes.   And while it is hard for me to pick a favourite from either of them, in fact I can't I just love reading the adventures of both.  Surprisingly for me however, and please don't judge me on this I am quite a nice guy, but Jack West has a kid who features heavily in the story lines and, well I suppose this is more for films than books if I think about it, but in  a good action film if there is a kid in it I would rather see them die, horribly at the beginning, than waste the film of the distraction that they become throughout the movie....  I do love my kids and grand kids honestly!

     Anyway Jack Wests kid does not distract as they fly all over the world, to save it, whether the world wants saving or not 

    Matthew Reilly can be found at:

       Slight change of tack here before I end this one.  Another new author I found through my Kindle was De Ann Black
.  I stumbled across The Bitch Proof Suit  and it had no violence, well the odd slap across the face and more than one thought of violence, but a more a gentile violence rather than full on rip the head off the shoulders kind of violence that I like in a novel.  This is about a fashion expert based in New York who had left an assignment in Dublin to escape a love affair that went sour.  Now, having read what I have written earlier, you might think the guy has gone loopy, but I also did write that I liked  just about anything in print, and so I will try anything.  Anyway I downloaded a sample of The Bitch Proof suit and I was hooked.

    Ms Black wrote a great little book on the escapades of Blue, short for Bluebell, Byrne who learns after running away from Dublin that she has to go back.  The book follows her and two colleagues' exploits as they arrive in Dublin and old relationships are met head on with bizarre and funny results.    The  title, The Bitch proof Suit refers to a business suit that Blue has designed herself and that is so perfect in its design and in the wearing off [for her at least] that it acts as  a bit of a shield, deflecting people who begin to criticise her but as soon as they notice the suit it so confuses them that they end up coming off second best.....  It really was a good laugh throughout following these three around Dublin and other parts and laughing at their escapades and escape from tricky situations.  Suffice it to say that old flames are reacquainted and a happily ever after scenario seems to be in the offing.  But clever Ms Black left us hanging, but not by too much I hasten to add or in a way that did not end one book chapter, but by enough to leave me wanting some more, which I believe there will be, and not to long I hope.

    De ann Black can be found at:

    There is so much more I am reading at the moment, but I fear if I don't stop I will be writing with no reading and that will never do, so why don't you check out the authors I have mentioned, they can never have too many followers and if you like what you see, give them a try, you will love them.

    If you have liked what I have written, do feel free to pop a comment in the box, if you haven't liked what I have written, same goes, let me know

 Best wishes 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mr Fat isn't so Fat anymore (but still has a long way to go)

I have recently just turned 55, and for the last two years I have been walking and cycling everywhere, well cycling really, and only after Steve, my youngest daughters partner and dad to three of my beautiful grand daughters,  has visited and fixed yet another puncture, whether it is / was me being a fat git and too heavy for the bike, or the bike wheels / tyres were not of the quality I thought they were when I got it, or, and this is the culprit that I favour,  that the roads around South Ockendon are in an appalling condition.  

Not only are the road surfaces in the village not maintained by the local authority in the condition that they should be, but it seems you can not cycle, or walk for that matter, for more than a few yards without encountering shards of broken glass as well as the usual array of other discarded litter.

Anyway as a result of any combination of the above I always only seem to be able to get one short ride out of my bike, after Steve has repaired it. Bless him.  I am not very good at any form of DIY whether it be repairing things or decorating, I am, however, not to bad at the ironing and the cooking.

Having driven a car for the last 25 years or so and having sedentary jobs since I left the Army in 1981 I gradually, over the years, began to spread out a little from the lithe handsome chap who got married in 1976 and from the boy to man who was a bit of a fitness fanatic while in the Army.  

Just had my passing out parade in 1973 at Shorncliffe with my mum down for the parade to see me leaving 'boy service' and going on to 'Mans' service' How slim and handsome was I then?
For 10 years, from 1971 to 1981 my weight was constant as was my waistline.  Even after leaving the Army while not doing as much exercise, I remained tollerably fit and healthy, with three kids and a determination not to let them ever beat me at running, mean I know, but there it is.  

Anyway, the weight gain seemed to be a gradual thing over the next few years and while it did not seem to be a major issue, Ishbel did not complain, and apart from increasing the shirt and trouser waist size, it still did not seem like a problem.

So, going from my ideal weight at 5feet 11inches,  of around 11 stone or 154 lbs, I ballooned up to 23.5 stones or 329 lbs.

Ideal Weight Chart for Men

Based on body mass index, optimised for men
in stones
My ideal weight chart for men, over weight based on body mass index 25
Height in feet / inches
KEY:       underweight      ideal weight         overweight

The above image has been borrowed from:


Although my weight gain was gradual, the outcome has/was not been so gradual in its effects...  

At some point I lost the ability to actually run, yes run.  Have you ever seen a morbidly obese person trying to run, you'll probably die laughing at them at the same time we keel over from all that weight we carry about with us, but at least you will die laughing, we will probably just die in pain gasping for breath!

Sweat, the slightest exertion and you could fill a bucket with the sweat we produce, and I do mean the slightest exertion, have a shower and feel refreshed, oh, you have to have a shower, because  your too fat to get into the bath, well maybe you can get in, but you aint getting out again, not without help and pain, so shower it is, and then when you are toweling yourself down, because that does involve the slightest of exertions, you break out in a sweat, no kidding.  Trying to get dressed, pulling on your socks, if you are still lucky enough to get down that far, sweat, walking a few yards, sweat, everything you do causes you to sweat.

Sleeping, your sleeping habits are destroyed by carrying this much weight around you can't breath properly so your lungs are trying to compensate and even although you are lying there doing nothing, because you need to breath and your organs are working in overdrive, in an attempt to keep you breathing, you sweat, you need a towel on your pillow, which doesn't help too much because you produce so much sweat you sometimes wake up thinking  the wife has thrown a bucket of water over you, it can't be much fun for your partner either, having to put up with this, but they do say love conquers all, although I think if the shoe had been on the other foot, I would probably have said something to Ishbel if roles had been reversed!

If your a car driver and you have, say a small car like a Fiesta, or an Astra, anything that is close to the ground, you're stuffed.  You cannot get in and out of it because you are so grotesquely overweight with a bulging stomach that you can not bend down to get in and even if you are lucky enough to get in your driving position is so compromised that you become a danger to other road users because your fat. You get into your seat and you are probably too uncomfortable to be concentrating properly and at junctions you can't turn your neck and head to get a proper view of what's coming from the opposite direction, so taking all of that into account you probably have to get a bigger car, with air conditioning because the exertion of getting into the car has made you break out in an uncontrollable sweat, and, just to be able to get into it with any degree of comfort and without embarrassing you any more than your shape and size already do.

Me at 23.5 stone in 2009 looking like a fat version of Yogi Bears arch nemesis , Ranger Smith.

Ranger Smith

If you are reading this and you are fat, please do not think, that I am getting at you, or myself, I am just stating the facts, and you like me, before I gave up the car probably were just not aware or willing to admit that all of the weight that we are carrying, is in fact causing us problems, whether you realise it or not YOU HAVE GOT A PROBLEM and you are not being fair to yourself, or your family.

I mentioned I have three gorgeous grand daughters with Jennifer and Steve.  I also have a fourth gorgeously beautiful grand daughter and a grandson with Marie, my eldest daughter and her husband Peter.  Mollie my eldest grand daughter is 8, her sister Shannon and the twins Charlie and Hollie, are 5 and the youngest, Lacey Mae, sister to Mollie and Shannon, is circa 8 weeks.  I enjoy spending time with my grand kids, even when I end up with them on my own, but, and this is a big but, 23.5 stone, how long was I going to have watching these children growing up?  A big question probably with a short answer, which was, not long.

The kids are 8 and 5 now, excluding Lacy Mae, and when they were toddlers it was chronic trying to even get down on the floor or on the grass in the garden.  Mind you getting down wasn't too much of a problem, the weight was helpful then, you got your body started in a downward direction and then let gravity plus obesity take over, and suddenly you are down there with them.  The problem is what to do when you are down there, you can't do much because your puffing and panting like a beached whale, oh! and sweating, don't forget the sweating, in fact your sweating so much that you start to fear that you may get done for infanticide as you drown your grandchildren, not deliberately you understand, you can't help being fat and sweaty, can you?

So, now that we have established that I am the Mr Fat of the title where is the end of the story, I hear you ask, Well there isn't an ending is there.  The story continues, it has to because yo can't just loes 13 stones in two years, that's what I need to lose to get down to my optimum weight, and that's what I want to get to, so, where are we then?

Well, giving up the car was the first stage, and to be perfectly honest it was not all to do with being nominated by my grand kids as the sweaty granddad we don't want to get to close to, but as much to do with a little bit of having a small business I was running and that was also suffering because of my obesity.  And that probably had as much to do with the continual state of tiredness I was in at all times.

There was no energy levels, let alone energy reserves and if you have no energy you really can't be bothered to do anything at all, including traipsing around the home counties doing risk assessments for people when you have completely failed to assess the risk and danger to yourself in allowing yourself to become the winner of 'fat git of the year', honestly I think if there was such an award I would have been in the top three for it.

The car went, and I got a bike, god it was a painful experience, you'd think with that much fat around your bum, sitting on a bike wasn't going to be painful, not so, and bearing in mind the last time I had been on one was probably about 30 years previously, in fact as I write I remember, it was the year I got married,  1976, I was posted away from my Regiment who were in Berlin and Ishbel and I had just got married.  We couldn't get Army married quarters and ended up in an attic flat of a three storey private house in Sennelager in Germany and I would cycle to and from work each day, it wasn't a long ride only about 10 minutes, but I was still doing all my training.  Anyway, back to the present, I gave up the car, got a bike and used it to and from the station.  The bike ride took me 15 minutes for 1.5 miles and to begin with it was a hard slog but not as hard as walking .  To walk to the station when I started it took me almost 50 minutes, yes 50 minutes for a mile and a half.  And then when I got there 15 minutes trying to cool down as I hid around the corner wiping myself down as the proverbial buckets of sweat dripped off me.  They say you can't smell yourself and lets face it would you want to, but I did wonder what I did smell like to people I came into contact with after that journey each day, and then on the return home again.

It was slow, we are talking June 2009 so it is two years.  I had been given a diet sheet but just couldn't get on with it and so it was going to be down to walking and cycling if I was going to achieve anything.  I remember weighing myself and feeling quite depressed at what I saw on the readout, but I was also determined to carry on.  It worked within a couple of months I had lost a couple of pounds but still felt lousy, I had also been diagnosed with arthritis, and that wasn't helpful. Going to the doctors wasn't an option as I had been there and all I wanted to do was take the five foot nothing in height nurse who saw me to discuss my weight and who was also morbidly obese.  Come on how can you enter into a conversation with a health professional on the subject of being a fat git when the person giving you advice and tips is pound for pound as fat as you, and apparently not doing anything to lose weight herself.  In fact I was speaking to someone in the surgery the other day who informed me that she was now a 'stop smoking counsellor', who still smokes like a chimney.  Is it a case of, in both instances, I'm fat, so I know what I'm talking about, and I'm a heavy smoker so you quit on my advice, but I'm ok!  So, I don't bother with that direction either. But perseverance seems to be the key, perseverance and walking more and more.  Marie, my eldest daughter gave me a pedometer for Christmas that year, 2009, for the Nintendo DS.  It does not have a step readout, which I didn't like to begin with, but in retrospect I think it is better that way as I think if you actually saw the steps you were doing you would probably tend to take things easier and slow down.  With The DS version it has a little flashing light that is red, when you reach the step target you have set it to, it turns to green,  
But, you soon get fed up pulling it out of your pocket to look at it, and just get on with the walking and you keep walking and walking until it turns green, and by the time you see that it has, you have normally walked a lot more than the target you have set.

Weight loss, then, as you can imagine has been slow.  It seemed that some weeks I would lose a pound or two but over the next couple of weeks I would put it back on.  So, I again looked at the diet.  I have to say that we eat fairly healthily.  If we eat meat it is grilled or roasted, but if the latter with as little oil as possible.  Vegetables are steamed or if fresh plunged into boiling water for six or so minutes until just tender and while I do tend to do sauces and gravy they are all home made and as healthy as I can make them.  The problem was that I was still eating some unhealthy things, and I don't mean tatties, or for the more refined of you out there, potatoes, cooked properly and in moderation they are fine.

No, the other big love in my life apart from proper food, Oh! and Ishbel, kids and grandkids, [nearly dropped myself right in it there] was bread and butter and soft drinks.  For almost two years I was walking and cycling and losing the odd pound and ounce here and there and up until Christmas 2010 I had come down from 23.5 stone to 21 stone. So 2.5 stone lost, not a lot and not as much as I would have liked.

Don't get me wrong, results were getting better,  I was beginning to lose the permanent wheeze that accompanied my efforts to breathe.  I was beginning to walk better, almost with a straight back beginning to lose the continual stoop caused by the heavy gut always trying to pull me towards the pavement and lo and behold the kangaroo pouch of my gut hanging down and covering you know who..........was beginning to shrink, not by much, but I noticed.

Then the big decision, stop eating mountains of bread and proper butter, oh god that was a hard decision, slightly cold toast with butter that you could sink your teeth through, and sometimes with a mountain of jam or marmalade, it was hard, believe me, and no cola arghhhh!  But, it worked.  I bought two pairs of slacks at Christmas that were waist size 44.  I was a 48 inch waist when I made the purchase which meant I had to drop two full sizes to get into them.

Well, on 1st June 20011, I managed it, two new pairs of slacks that were a comfortable fit, which was just as well as the bum had just ripped on two other pairs that I had been wearing, and I'm sure on one pair it happened as I was walking home, I thought I could feel a breeze and sure enough when I got home... and do you know what, I don't feel embarrassed about that or my weight any more,  purely because I now recognise what a tit I've been and I am now doing something about it.

I weighed myself today and for the first time in god knows how many years the scales came in at 19 stone 13 3/4 lbs that's about 283 lbs American.  I am not going to believe that I am under 20 stone until the readout tells me that at the top and tail of the day, but hopefully that will be the case by Saturday.

I know that to achieve my target weight I have a long way to go, but as I said earlier, perseverance is the key, and I will get there.  If you are reading this and you are overweight all I can say is that it is not easy to lose the weight, it isn't easy to admit to yourself that you need to lose weight, but you need to take a good hard look at yourself and those around you and start by taking small steps, down to the bottom of the road an back again for a week, on to the next street and back again the following week and just increase your walking a week or a day at a time, it does get easier, and the sweating, that horrible sweating gradually gets less and less......

I was out for a walk on Sunday with Mollie and Shannon  and the girls were in front of me, I decided to take a photo of them and ran past them to get ahead of them and the smile on Mollies face when she realised that for the first time in years granddad had actually run, made it all worth it, and made me determined to keep doing it.

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Smorgesboard of Eruptions

Just a couple of things that have attacked my senses this past while that need to be commented on, well at least I think they need to be commented on.

E.Coli Outbreak  

Another tragedy occurs and is fast spreading and isn't it always the way that out of tragic circumstances there is always more to the story than the tragedy of people dying:

The poor old Spanish have been blamed for it without apparently a shred of evidence against them and then of course we learn today that the fruit and veg sellers in the UK have seen a 50% drop in sales of vegetables with every indication that it will continue in that vein for the foreseeable future.  So what happens to the 'eat 5 a day campaign' is that going to be rewritten to 'eat 5 a day but only when sitting outside your doctors or the local A and E department?

In today's Metro newspaper, buried deep within the article, one expert, and I got slightly confused over his title (read it and see) commented that he thought there might be a link to the outbreak through manure spread over organically grown crops! Well excuse me, but haven't the pontificating organic society been informing us for years that organic is better for us as it is better to eat naturally grown foods rather than foods that have been sprayed with dozens of pesticides!  Well if the pesticides kill off bacteria and not us, I say spray away.

Link to Metro Article: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/865084-e-coli-is-new-unseen-strain-as-fears-grow-over-four-new-cases-in-britain

Apparently this is a new super strain of bacteria never before seen, and it is causing consternation around the world, and rightly so, but it strikes me that while there is a need for people to be informed that this bacteria is out there and contracting it could lead to death, should the information provided to us by the media not be confined to the facts and sensible information in regard to hygiene precautions that we should all be taking, rather than spreading unsubstantiated information and supposition.  In cases like this the media itself can probably be likened to a bacterial spread. Of course the difference between the new form of E.Coli bacteria and the Media bacteria is, that one is new and unknown with no known form of treatment and the other is old and tired that spreads also uncontrollably but also with no known form of treatment until after the damage has been done.

Government Not Fit For Purpose - 1 

Lord Taylor convicted and sent to prison.  Lord Hanningfield convicted and awaiting sentencing, likely to be sent to prison.  Lord Archer convicted and sent to prison.  Now the obvious connection is that they are all 'Lords' and they are,likely to, or have been convicted in the courts of criminal offences and have done, probably will do and are doing time at HM Prisons.

Now here is a question for you, what is the role of the Lords in the UK Parliament.  Well my basic understanding of it is this;

Our elected members of Parliament sit in the House of Commons and the 'elected' government of the day tries to pass 'Bills' which they want to be enacted as laws. To do this they must pass the 'bill' through the House [with MPS variously opposing it, tabling amendments to it whatever.  At some point the 'bill' then goes to the House of Lords and the Lords in all their unelected glory and power then have to debate, discuss, amend, etc, etc, etc. Eventually, the 'bill' will then be passed back to the House of Commons as it is, ready to be presented to an unelected monarch to sign off into law, or passed back with amendments that the government may or may not like.

My point is That the Lords are unelected, three of them have been convicted of crimes BUT and it is a big BUT, once they have served their time, they can take up where they left off.  In other words these UNELECTED CRIMINALS can go straight back into the House of Lords and sit in judgement on 'bills' that can be turned into Law that we must observe, but that they feel they are above, and of course they can claim and be be 'paid' up to £300.00 per day.

Is it not also interesting that since becoming Prime Minister, David Cameron has created MORE Life Peers than any other PM in living memory, 117 in a single year, see link:


One can see the logic of why he has done this, from a purely sterile point of view, he wants to tip the balance of power in the Lords to his party's favour. But in the 21st century why are we as a nation allowing this kind of feudal system still to operate. Every right minded adult in the UK should be offended by the fact that unelected people are sitting in our parliament and deciding what laws we have to abide by.

On the one hand the Prime Minister and his Deputy Dawg, Nick Clegg have formed a coalition to govern us, in a much fairer way than previous governments, or so the underlying message appears to be, and in so doing, they want it to be an inclusive and Big Society with fairness for all.  Well,what is fair about one man and his dawgs appointing people to be part of our government without giving us a say in their appointment.  Then to top it all when they commit a Criminal Act, and if we are lucky enough to find out about it, and then if the police and CPS bring charges and they are brought to court, found guilty, convicted and sentenced, IT DOESN'T BLOODY MATTER, BECAUSE AS SOON AS THEY WALK OUT OF THE COSY OPEN PRISON THEY WERE, HAVE, PROBABLY WILL BE SENT TO, they can walk straight back into the House, and claim their allowance. IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED AND STOPPED NOW. 

  1. All convicted members of the House of Lords, should immediately be stripped of their Titles and Privileges’, NO EXCEPTIONS, NO EXCUSES. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW

And lets not forget that it isn't just Unelected members of the Lords who are at it.  Elected Members of parliament as we know are at like bunnies in a warren, stealing and fiddling, that is, not sure about the other 


  1. And we also learn that in a two month period the noses are still firmly buried in the rough with MPs racking  up £3.2mllion in expenses in two months.  I have to say that I have absolutely no objection to expenses being claimed back, and for the MP claiming for a newspaper, why not, chap I do work for wants me to keep an eye out in the local press for articles on the business/ area and I purchase the paper each day and send him a bill once a month for the cost plus 20% mark up, no problem, no issue, but the level of expenses and the vast array of items claimed for is scandalous, by any standard, and all of this while we are being taxed and hammered into the ground.

Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/865170-mps-rack-up-3-2mllion-in-expenses-in-two-months#ixzz1ODDM6xgZ

Government Not Fit For Purpose - 2

I learned this week that the Immigration service has effectively given an amnesty to tens of thousands of Illegal Immigrants, see story link:

Now I have absolutely no problem with controlled immigration into this or any other country, but when we know that many visitors to this country are likely to become illegal immigrants purely based on the fact that they and every one else knows, that we are a soft touch vis-a-vis benefits and housing, it is ridiculous to allow this situation to be mismanaged in the way that it clearly is.  

The bleeding hearts out there who belong to all of the organisations that promote love and tolerance to all, really do need to be ignored.  Human rights activists who complain about DNA databases being an infringement of the individuals right to be able to go about their business, whether it is legal or not, need to wake up and smell the roses.

Every single person in the country should be on a DNA database and every child born in the country should have their DNA added to that database.  An extension to that should be EVERY SINGLE PERSON ENTERING THE COUNTRY, SHOULD BE REQUIRED BY LAW, TO HAVE A SAMPLE TAKEN FROM THEM, AT THEIR POINT OF ENTRY INTO THE COUNTRY AND THIS SHOULD BE ADDED TO THE DNA DATABASE.

If, and when, someone is suspected of being an illegal immigrant their DNA can be checked against that recorded at the time of entry, and if found to have overstayed their allotted time, they can be summarily deported, there should be no ifs, buts or doubts, and if a DNA Database was employed, there wouldn't be.

An introduction of this system, must surely, be a way to control immigration, crime and ultimately save millions, and of course the first £1m saved, would be the salary of the incompetent boss of the service and then save a few more bob by sacking the minister in charge of this appalling situation.

The above are just a couple of the items that have got up my nose and surely shows that we have indeed got ourselves A GOVERNMENT THAT IS NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE

The almost final item, I will leave you with a feel good story, promise, (if you have managed to stay the course so far) in my rant is one item concerning Egypt, but it should be taken in context with this, and other Western governments newly found desire to militarily promote democracy in countries that have never had democracies, probably will never have proper democracies in the true sense of the word and do nothing but place the rest of us 'In the Line of Fire' from terrorists and disaffected nationals of other countries. HOW CAN WE PROMOTE DEMOCRACY WHEN WE ALLOW OUR SITTING PRIME MINISTER TO MAKE APPOINTMENTS OF UNELECTED MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS - THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY IN THAT SYSTEM.

Come on, democracy seemed to have won the day earlier this year in Egypt when dissidents called for the down fall of a President Mubarak.  Britain and its allies actively supported Mubarak for years and then like a chameleon changed its colours and supported the dissidents.  What do we get,we get a country run by the generals who believe it is acceptable to drag women of the street and mentally rape them while subjecting them to god knows what horrible tests to determine whether they are still virgins.


This leaves me with two thoughts and these are:

  1. Why is our government supporting these animals, and 
  2. Don't you wish the people, who are doing this, that their mothers had remained virgins!  


Did you here about the 90 year old who had a fling with a 40 year old toy boy and out of this fling there was indeed, and against expectations, a love child, Love, what more can you say about it....