12 Months Ago

Well, 12 months ago today believe it or not, it was the 12th November 2009. Amazing fact eh? I bet you are looking up your last year’s calendar to check this out.

Seriously 12 months ago I was laid up and in some considerable pain following my accident on 5th November. At the time I was suffering from whiplash injury. My knee was hurting but it only felt like bruising to the knee. How different things turned out. The whiplash settled down over a few weeks, but the knee got worse and still troubles me to this day. I’m still trying to avoid an operation on my knee. If I really wanted people to shove things in me whilst I was unconscious, I’d go down the gay club and take the rohypnol spiked drink on offer.

Its been a quiet week for me after the hectic nature of the weekend just gone. Work is still relatively quiet for me. Although it looks as though I will be starting a new inspection in the near future. I understand we are likely to be out on site in December and January. Great eh? Just when the weather is at its worst, I will be expected to be travelling round the country! Don’t you just love it.

The weather this week has not been the best for cycling. It was so bad on Thursday morning, i abandoned my ride after only 1/2 mile and got the train to work. The wind was too dangerous- a head wind and very gusty. The train was then delayed and took nearly 50 minutes to do a 20 minute journey. However, the ride home was rather swift  with a nice tailwind  🙂

This weekend is going to be rather quiet. I’m not seeing Michelle,Tom is not coming down and there is no football to go to. I seem to have made a bit of a mistake in the planning. It is made worse by the fact Michelle is home alone as well as Josh is with his dad.  Instead of trying to avoid X Factor  tomorrow night, I could be going for a meal at Fratellis in Ponteland. Grrrr

I suppose the story of the week is the riot by students protesting about the proposed fees for university education. These students are not the brightest are they? I mean:

a) rioting in front of the worlds press is not the best way to avoid being caught

b) rioting is not the way to persuade those going about their work to pay taxes to send you to university that you deserve more tax money to keep you

c) breaking into a building, then setting fire to the 4th floor before going up onto the roof of the building to wave flags whilst the fire rages below is not the safest way to act.

The riot was within 1/2 mile of my work place, but it did not affect my journey to / from work or even the working day. A very localised riot.

Who is Steve?

Well, its time other update in my (un) exciting adventures.

Well, since my last post, I’ve returned home from my October break in Tyneside and even been to work. Firstly, I want  to know when the October half term stopped being “potato picking week?” No doubt it was when health and safety prevented children working on the farms.

I managed to cycle to work on Tuesday and Friday – so it’s not too bad on the cycling front. I worked from home on Wednesday owing to the Tube strike! But you cycle in” I hear you say. Yes, I do, but as many people would not be in at work and the roads were going to be busier than usual, I took the opportunity to work from home. I also used the extra time I had to use my new bike stand and also to wash my commuter bike. This was a bad idea as I realised my bike needed a bent spoke replacing. So, a trip to the bike shop is needed soon.

Thursday brought an interesting day and a couple of examples of the waste of money in the public sector.

Firstly, I had a meeting with my solicitors re my accident claim. We discussed the quantum of damages. You may be aware, I was off work for some 10 -12 weeks around the turn of the year. Most employment contracts require you to seek to recover any wages paid when off sick and if you do, to reimburse he employer. Not the civil service. I was fortunate enough to be paid full pay whilst off work. My employers do not want me to seek to recover the monies paid out whilst I was sick. This is such a waste of money across the civil service. Especially at a time of such austerity, it is costing the civil service millions of pounds a year. This is money that could be recovered at no cost to the government, but would raise several million pounds per year. For example, there are around 5,000,000 public sector employees and 1% (50,000) of these will have an accident in any year. If only 1 in 5 of those injured (10,0000 people) was able to recover 1 months wages, then this would  raise 10,000 x £1000 (or more as average wage of civil service is over £1000 per month) = £10,000,000 ie £10 million pounds. This is enough to run my department for 2.5 years, with the very conservative estimate of funds that could be recovered in a single year.

David Cameron, George Osborne etc are you listening. Why are you throwing this money away each year?

The second waste of money was a 3 hour meeting scheduled for thursday afternoon between several agencies involved in child protection work. The meeting had people who had travelled from all over England. It lasted as long as it took the group to decide to take no further action on the work previously done. Including refreshments, small talk, introductions and conclusion, the meeting lasted less than 30 mins. What a waste of money. A quick phone call would have sufficed to deal with this.

Friday brought a very wet ride home from work. It was also exactly 12 months after my accident. I rode home very warily, especially when passing the scene of the accident. I got home safely and very relieved.

I had to quickly shower and change as I was due at Kings Cross station to meet Tom, Michelle and Josh. Tom was coming down from Kettering and the other two from Newcastle. Fortunately trains from Kettering arrive at St Pancras which is literally across the road from Kings Cross, so only one station to go to.

Owing to traffic issues, I arrived in Kings Cross Station just as Michelle’s train arrived. She doesn’t realise I was nearly not there to meet her. That will be our little secret  reader?

Saturday was a mix of things. We all went to the cycling club www.lvycc.co.uk where Tom did road riding, Josh was in luck and able to join in a BMX session. He is into BMX, and quite by chance the club were having a rare BMX coaching session – thanks Andy. So whilst those two were off cycling, Michelle and I energetically drank tea and socialized.  Saturday afternoon, after the obligatory supermarket visit was spent watching the football scores on the TV.

I of course had to spend the afternoon slaving over the cooker preparing tea. See Michelle, I do know how to operate the cooker, and I do know what an oven is.

Saturday night brought a trip to the firework display at Barley Lane Primary School. We just to say arrived in time. I cannot tell a lie and have to say it was all Michelle’s fault we were in such a rush. Laying down when supposed to be getting ready is not the way to get there on time. The fireworks were rather good, not hugely noisy, but a great visual display to an accompanying musical soundtrack. It kept Tom and Josh enthralled, both of them were stood for long spells staring open-mouthed at the display. Sadly there was no bonfire to accompany the fireworks.

[ As I write this paragraph, I am conscious that anyone living overseas reading this probably hasn’t got a clue why we have bonfires or fireworks at this time of year. It is a slightly odd concept that we commemorate the attempt by Guy Fawkes and others to blow up Parliament in 1605 by an annual bonfire night on 5th November. It’s a bit of a strange idea.

Even stranger is the fact we burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire, and we have the bonfire on the day the plot was discovered, not the date he was killed. Why we burn his effigy when he was hung is again another quirk of the British tradition. Fireworks? Not got a clue sorry mate. ]

After fireworks, it was home to hotdogs and boiled onions – well its traditional isn’t it?

Sunday was the main event of the weekend. We all went to Earl’s Court for the MPH Show featuring Top Gear Live. It was an enjoyable few hours and to Jeremy Clarkson, James May and 2’6″ tall Richard Hammond was a good laugh. The “new” Stig was introduced to the public – and I can reveal he is another white Stig – William Hills, I’ll have my winnings please.

We left Earls Court, went for Lunch in Victoria and strolled through Central London passed Buckingham Palace, along The Mall and passed Horseguards Road to my work place overlooking St James Park. (Sadly the one in London, not the good one in Newcastle). I had always thought Josh was a Geordie, but after seeing his attempts to pick his mother’s bag whilst she was walking, I think there must be a bit of scouser in his background.

Michelle & Josh House Hunting

Sadly, all good things have to come to an end, and it was time to say farewell to Michelle and Josh at Kings Cross as they caught their train back home. The train was a rather full and lively train packed with Newcastle fans celebrating an unexpected away win at Arsenal.

I then took Tom to St Pancras and had a father / son chat about issues affecting him. Advice was along the lines of “Illegitimi non carborundum”. He went home, and I was left to head to a very empty house to contemplate the weekend that was. Still only 12 days till I see Michelle and Josh again. Not sure when I will see Tom again, his social life prevents him coming down to London too often. I’m surplus to his requirements except when he is short of money!

So, “Who is Steve?” – Well Josh, I think you are going to have to tell me as it seems Michelle is being rather coy about him. My money is on him being Traci’s partner.


Well, who would have thought it, Kevin Nolan top scorer in the Premiership, the Toon in 7th place and the Mackems not even at the races. It rounded off a good weekend.

Friday night brought a quiet night in , four or five bottles of wine between us, hysterical giggling and an unfunny Peter Kay compilation video- not as good as his stand up shows. Oh, and we had a few munchies that seemed to disappear rapidly. I blame the dog who had a liking for pinching the cheese whenever we turned away!!!!!! Charlie – you’re not a scouse dog

Saturday lunchtime Michelle and I went to watch Josh play for Ryton U11s at Hetton Le Hole. The field next to the football pitch had McDonald’s Happy Meals in preparation or Shetland ponies as some people call them.

Saturday night Tom came to stay with Michelle and I. We all went out in Ponteland, Tom to the pub with a friend and Michelle & I off to Fratelli’s restaurant and then the Diamond Pub to meet back with Tom. I have to recommend Fratelli’s to anyone wanting great food and good wine.

Back at the Diamond we met a truly classy lady. Well if that’s what you call someone with a mouth on her that is louder and cruder than a drunken navvie. What really rounded it off was when she approached michelle and I and in a loud voice started to tell us, and 1/2 of Ponteland about the pervert who looked at her as she was “having a piss in the car park”. Yes, a really classy lady!

What can one say about Sunday? Great result, I was sober enough to remember to go home for my tea. (See Michelle, it is possible for a male to come home from the pub on time – that might be because I’m not a Horsley male!). Did he enjoy his tea?

Monday brought a beautiful morning in Horsley to walk the dogs. Then it was farewell to Michelle and a drive down the A68 and onto Kirk Merrington to collect Tom and see my parents. Then the drive to London via Kettering. Dropping Tom off in Kettering, it was nice to have a cuppa and a chat with Louise (my ex wife). I have to say that it is great that we can remain friends despite having had to live together previously!

I arrived home tonight to a letter from East Coast Trains Ltd regarding my complaint that on 3 occassions they had failed to supply me with a set of train tickets I needed. It was nice to read they are offering me a free 1st class trip from London to Newcastle. Shame the voucher was dated to expire on 31st October 2010. The letter was dated 16th August and sent special delivery which guaranteeds the next day delivery. I’d love to know what has happened there! So, I have written another letter of complaint to them….. I think its great, my complaint about letters being delayed/ lost is itself delayed!

Still no cycling though