A letter to my love


My dearest September,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you yet again for a perfect month.
As always you bring me Birthday greetings and cake and beautiful sunsets, warmth from friends conversation, calmness of getting older and watching the progression of Mother Nature as she starts her transition to a different season, your waves come to greet me from the East and show me how they can do tricks with extremes of strength and high jumps into the air, they spray their might high into the sky and grasp the remains of the sunlit rays before pulling them down deep into the briny depths, it shows no fear and beats anything in its path that isn’t bolted down.

The low morning sun peeks into my back yard and bounces infinite rays off the hanging glitter ball on the gazebo, sneaking through the horizontal blinds and dashes of inert energy disperse silent imps of light all through the house.

Fresh breezes start to dampen down early to late afternoons and the shadows lengthen beyond any reasoning, occasional smokey whiffs of a chimney lit, an elderly person rubs hands in front of a drawing hearth, trying to remember just how many times they had completed this ancient ritual of making fire. They laugh to themselves.

The sun sets much faster each evening and by tonight the extended arms of heat retract even more, it’s time to say goodnight dear September and dear friends, for tomorrow is October and you will greet me with shrouds of sea mist, cold air and many beautiful things, for now begone good people, it’s time to sleep, awaken refreshed and let’s celebrate another day, and if i don’t awaken, I will remember, that September will always be my chosen beautiful month.

With memories.

Xx

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Into the unknown 

 As I had guessed the standard class ticket for tomorrow’s travel would not be valid for today in First class, Bill was a hot wire, two cans of Carlsberg and he was Jack the lad, “leave it to me” he blabbed flashing the cash to the ticket inspector, he had a wad of notes, and one of the company credit cards, spouting all kinds of rubbish he paid up and told us, that the “big man” had given it to him to treat us on our return home, to stop off in Miami for a few days, as we apparantly would have earnt our bonus, Bills train of thought, was fuck that, lets splash out up the “west end” tonight, we wouldn’t be fit enough to enjoy anything at the end of the project, as and when it might finish, be it on time, or more as likely probably not.

Now was not the time to start doubting the trust we had put in each other, we had to watch, cover and keep ourselves safe, our lives were in each other’s hands, even at terminal speeds of a GWR 125, one of us had to be responsible.  I had no intention of marching into the abyss up west especially with three piss heads, I made comment that we should head straight towards Heathrow and not Bayswater as originally planned by my now rather embarrassing boss.

Standing firm, on the platform at Paddington Station with my suitcases, I protested, I stood my ground, my suggestion was that we find a hotel on airport campus and settle in, before we return to the metropolis later in the evening, an idea which was eventually heeded. Forty five minutes later after the express hurtled us into Heathrow we find ourselves settled in our rooms at the quirky hotel (this was to be a significant place visited often a few years later) which ran parallel to the north runway, perfect for watching takeoff, a late lunch sobered us up, I had a plan, if it came off, we would all be saved from a disaster likely to happen. Suggestion was we would rest this afternoon and meet in the hotel lounge at 8pm then head up toward the smoke, true to plan, it was the following morning before anyone made contact, proving old men can’t take their drink during the day.

Breakfast was rather subdued, probably due to their thick heads and upset stomachs, Pete and I were grinning, even more so when instructed to keep quiet and stop fucking about, us, the two girls were on form yet again. I had promoted myself to travel leader, my man bag now contained four passports and four sets of travel documentation, three chickens now followed mother hen across the departure hall, I came into my own, shouting “yo, and this way, and keep the fuck up” we approached the checkin desk. Four suitcases, four tool cases complete with tools, four hand luggage, and of course, the Louis Vuitton vanity case.

“Four seats to Miami please, four seats together, any chance of upgrades please?, we are on business”

“I can only upgrade two, which two is it to be”? The British Airways representative attempted to smile, her makeup too thick to make any underlying moves, she obviously was having a bad day and thought putting on her sadistic head would throw us.                                                           “For your information Miss, we are a team, if four of us can’t upgrade together, then we’l suffer in economy”.                                                                                                                                      So, economy it was, four seats in four different locations!

Reassuring my fellow travellers that I would get us moved once we were on board, upon the condition that we all stuck to the plan I had given them. Security through to airside was taking ages, people causing problems, many travellers were unhappy about allocation of seats, we were going to have to act fast once on board, this Boeing 747 was not travelling light.

Our gate was called and boarding commenced, disgruntled and angry I headed toward my allocated seat, once I saw where it was, I made my mind up that there was no way I was going to sit facing the bulkhead with no window, Pete was upstairs in business and our two bosses were sat an aisle apart near the rear of plane. I refused to sit down, catching eye of my two other mates we continued to stand, the stewardess got really nasty, simply because I wouldn’t sit down, I told her of my problem and dilemma, she promised me if I sat down, once we were airborne she could relocate us, I know for a fact that that was not ever likely to happen, one of the few camp male stewards approached, this was to be my Oscar winning performance, with lost puppy dog eyes I informed him of my distress and that my “best friend” and business acquaintances were all sat separate, as I produced my boarding pass, I let my book slip out of my bag, “Spartacus Gay Guide”, it did its magic and “Dorothy” quickly summoned the two at the rear, we were all together, we followed him quickly up the spiral staircase to upper level, sixteen seats made business class, here we were, four pretty maids now in a row, each pair separated by the aisle. Dorothy couldn’t have worked her magic any better, talk about being treated like royalty, Bill leaned forward and whispered quite loudly, “do you know her then”?

We were in stitches, glasses of champagne were thrust in our hands, securing our seat belts, we realised that take off was imminent, the “City of Birmingham” was revving her four massive Rolls Royce RB2-11’s off, the handbrake was released and we were catapulted down the south runway at a ridiculous speed and up into the atmosphere, the jet climbed steeply, passing over Windsor, following the M4 corridor and down toward the West Country, Speedbird embellished In her finest Landour livery dropped into a lower gear, the engines were set to 85% and we accelerated to a higher cruising level above 29,000ft and later onwards to 41,000ft.

Captain and his crew were now communicating with control tower ….. Concentrating on aiming this tin can with precious cargo aboard toward the USA at a breakneck speed.

“More champagne Gentlemen”? Dorothy asked, winking, and touching at my shoulder, ” if you need anything, anything at all, just ask”

Adjusting my virtual *official* travel Marshall badge, I grinned at Pete, he muttered the immortal words “Fuck me, Ken Dodds dogs dead”

Raising our glasses to each other we headed towards the edge of space …..

Sólo hablo un poco Español

  So, Mr Fry is on his journey across Central America, a nice piece of travel documentary on ITV HD, all very safe and tongue in cheek i must add.Well, here is the start to my Tale in a City. Later, I will change it to a Tale of Sex in a City.

In 1997, i was contracting, as an electrical engineer to a large American Corporation, based here in Devon, and had been doing so for some many years, this company were major players and leading manufacturers across the globe in electrical components, after all, the 80’s & 90’s were now to be the revolutionary age for electronics and communication.
This company base had started its journey in the mid 1950’s, a state of the art purpose built factory was constructed, at its height of production it was employing over 5000 personnel. I was born in 1956, my Father had left the Post Office to become a factory cleaner, working for a “one man, van and many others” business, considering he travelled 4 miles each way to work, either on bicycle or foot, in all weathers, he was always on time, he was always polite and he worked like the proverbial trojan.
One evening, the factory manager approached him, he was offering him a position within the company, my Dad rather concerned enquired why he was doing this? Mr Powley, later, to be a life long friend, had heard him talking to another employee, and how he now had fears as to wether he could keep his family above the bread line, Bert, himself had been in a similar position many many years ago, and he too had also been offered a break, i guess, he was handing his chance to someone else, I too have been fortunate to have travelled along that same welcoming break scenario, all within this same factory environment. Roy worked his way, with guidance, during a period of forty years, thirteen of them on and off twelve hour night shifts, he acquired daytime online production, up to shift manager, on floor, then eventually slipping into the driving seat of Mr Powley when he retired, during this time he trained a young lad called Collis, who, showed the same determination to succeed, when i was travelling abroad on several of these projects he was in fact next inline to become CEO of this particular factory.

Often heard, and in many ways, its not what you know, but, who you know.
I however, wasn’t directly involved making these minuscule components, my responsibility was to help maintain the infrastructure of this expanding business ensuring 8 Billion plus individuals came off the production line each year. The process of manufacturing these tiny *black spiders with three legs* was a filthy one, infact, totally gross, not disimilar to refining oil, or EVEN cocaine.
A complex system was structured comprising of planned preventative maintenance systems, power supply controls, line equipment, waste neutralisation systems, air conditioning, and least of all not forgetting the canteen facilities, amongst other things, any, and everything else that had a wire or pipe connected to it, be it, water, air or oil. This task was immense, i was part of a 365/24/7 maintenance team, a total of 16 guys, each working two in a 12 hour shift rotating every four days.
Always being one to volunteer overtime and jump in on holiday fillings etc, my boss, asked if i wanted to be involved help design some new equipment, of course my answer was to be yes, as probably mentioned before, i learn quickly, especially when hands on. Looking at what we already knew with previous equipment, we, a small team of just six would stretch certain criteria, try to cut corners to advantages and ensure limits were pushed, before we knew it we had a fully functioning waste system design, albeit in theory and on paper, ready for assembly. Now armed with floor plans, a virtual reality assembly area and material maximum dimensions, we now wondered how the hell were we going to do this and where on earth was this “stuff” going to be placed? we had to find a “work playground” big enough to construct this thing in real time.
Leasing a building 60 miles away, proved to be a logistical nightmare, for every day over the summer months we travelled, back and forth to Bridgewater, no time off, each of us putting in over 14 hrs every day, pushed our physical and mental abilities, we designed this wonderful leviathan, a complex machine, a device that could change an environment, utilising water, electricity and mechanical propulsion. This was assembled and we were determined that this would work to perfection, there was no room for error here, we had hundreds of thousands of litres of water pumping around whole circuits of pipes, through production cleansing baths, tanks for storage, tanks for this, tanks for that, tanks for chemicals that could cause mass destruction with one drip of its contents. Putting this hazard into context, if you ever saw the film Erin Brocovitch, you would understand just how important it was that we got this right, there was no room for error.
A series of storage tanks in parallel would hold this hazardous waste created in a production process ready for disposal, we were now simulating the finest way to revolutionise cleansing and neutralising contaminated fluids before actual release into the environment. To the untrained eye, it was a monstrosity, to us it was a creature of beauty, it was in fact, a big toy made of spaghetti cable and pipework, neatly fixed to brackets and imaginary walls.
Suddenly this was now something totally crazy, and it worked, it was massive, almost monumental, four of us had broken our souls and churned our guts out, for that privelidge, we got paid handsomely, all different kinds of monetary rates, standard day rates, after 8 rates, after 12 rates, double bubble rates and on Saturday afternoons and all day Sundays it gave us triple time, that also included travelling, sometimes we slept in our cars and claimed hotel expenses, we were cheeky, we applied for it, and we got it.
During the following week, we were pulled to one side by our two managers, asking if we had holidays planned or any other committments placed in the forseable future, Colin and Bob said they couldnt do this, they couldnt do that, their wives werent happy, and made up every conceivable possible excuse not to go further with it. I could now see where this was going, i spoke to mad Pete and gave him my views on it, we were both single, no responsibilities, except for this one of course, and our many heavy debts we each owed, which included ex partners, children and properties to maintain, we bounced our ideas off each other, we worked well together, we were a team, he listened, we both agreed. No one else knew the insides of the beast like we did, this was to be our levering point, our secret weapon. We were to negotiate hard for our financial worth.

The following day the two other team members were told that the company had appreciated all their efforts placed into this project but, they would now have to return to their shifts. Within one sentence they were out, it was to be possibly one of their biggest mistakes refusing this opportunity. They were not told the final destination where this plant would be going and we were informed not to mention it either.
Meanwhile, my new partner Pete and i, now had the opportunity to turn this into something amazing, here we were, grafters, spanner boys, blue overall lads, now given the chance to become upper management, on the proviso, that we were prepared to get our hands dirty and just keep our noses clean. Our faces must have been a picture, we had NO idea, that this was going to be an overseas project, infact, if this actual project did come off, it was to be the start of our big time, there were now two other projects after this one in El Salvador, that being the Czech Republic and eventually in China.
All the time we had been doing the manual work, the Salvadorian Government had been making all kinds of background checks on Pete and myself, this was way before allowing us entry into the country, Visas were not necessary for tourists, but employees needed special dispensation, not simply because we were British citizens working for a Company whos head office was based in South Carolina, USA, fact was this had a “Top Secret” project label attached to it, perhaps that had somewhat to do with it, especially, as there was so much competition going on between rival companies.
We could have been anyone really, but, we were chosen, it appeared of what we knew and had learned, someone or something else wanted to know it too, we kept the knowledge to ourselves in our heads, on paper, and on a couple of floppy disc sets, one in Pete’s briefcase, one in mine.
Here in San Salvador City they had an already well established manufacturing plant, within a military unit, security apparantly was high, armoured guards swarmed the area, perhaps my previous background check working within the British Establishments enhanced the curry to favour my new position well.
It took twelve weeks to design and build this amazing piece of machinery, and now we had been given just six weeks to dismantle it, to pack and secure for transit into two forty foot shipping containers, we had to label every single item, bolts, nuts, washers, including our own personal bags of commitment and boxes of enthusiasm, having to obtain duplicate parts slowed progress, again, ensuring our paperwork and all items were eventually in order, rechecked, and double checked again, customs gave us the certificate, the container doors were locked, and custom sealed, now registered and ready for transportation and the Atlantic crossing. In eight weeks we ourselves and our two managers were destined for El Salvador, Central America via Honduras.
We had been given just under a fortnight, with pay, to get some rest, during this period, we suffered some nasty side effects from the Typhoid and Rabies Inoculations and from complete utter exhaustion, our Spanish was limited to ¡hola! gracias and adios, during construction we spoke this fluently, this was going to be fun. After all, everyone would speak English, wouldn’t they? or so we thought.

To, or not Tarot

 
I’ve been considering this venture for sometime, I’m guessing at least 30 years, so, as you can imagine I’ve been thinking about this for far too long and thought that I’d done my homework and the necessary du diligence ….. Wrong! 

I never imagined that this was going to be easy, I’ve built my own home, worked abroad and planned many an epic adventure, but, scouring the Internet as to where I might obtain this item has proved unfruitful, well, I could have obtained it from many possible places, but, if you are like myself I prefer to touch an item, albeit briefly, all you ladies know about that especially *fingering* a coat or a dress, arm from collar to cuff or holding a new pair of shoes and examining them with your X-ray eyes from all special angles, coo-ing and purring gently whilst making that ultimate positive decision.

Believe me, men are the same, probably even more so, especially where clothes are concerned, please don’t even get me started about all things bright and shiny, that includes hand and all power tools, and anything of a technological persuasion, as you may have guessed, I’m easily distracted and quite geeky.

You show me a person that says they don’t have anything that they adore in their home, then il show you an emotionless person, we’re not talking about having an alter, or a prayer room, although some religious sects tend to, this is about a special item or area you appreciate in your own home or a personal place, ever looked at your mantelpiece, or sideboard or even a window cill, do you have candles, photographs, maybe Buddhas, small items that are reminders of events or occasions with special memories, even a dressing table, a mirror, one of the biggest reminders of happy or even sad times is listening to music, just a few beautiful notes can turn me into either a bubbling wreck or something demented jumping about or toe tapping … 

Now, think again, do you? 

Of course you do!

Your home is your special place, it’s a sanctuary away from the outside world, tell me you don’t yearn some days to be relaxing on the sofa, either reading, watching TV, maybe cuddling up to loved ones and family members, taking comfort from each other.

Of course you do!

It’s the future, your place to return and discuss the past.

One of the biggest fears I have is what’s in store for the future, I’ve come a long way down this well trodden path, sometimes it’s been smooth, often rather bumpy, but, I do now have an amazing fellow traveller who has helped me overcome these hurdles, he’s picked me up more often than not and dusted me down so many times I’ve lost count, so, maybe, now that I have found what I was looking for, I now consider, that I shouldn’t open this new *deck of cards*, it already shows “The Popess”, I feel I can live with what that reveals, be it either form, and just place the suite somewhere special, let the path already plotted take its own natural course.

Now to continue enjoying life with my familiar surroundings, yes, those things here with me are my present, my past, they too, are also my future.

Therefore, I shall leave this item unopened to remind me, that life is a gamble, and let what ever will be, will be.

Enter The Prince of Darkness.

“I said I’d meet you in town at 11, yes, today, 11 o’clock in The Avenue, please don’t bring Spider as he frightens me” he disconnected the call to Pete, his mind flashed back to the snappy Jack Russell who would sit on the shoulder of the seat back staring at him blowing bad dog breath, like a miniature dragon with invisible flames.

This meeting was to tie up loose ends which would then give them 36 hrs to get their baggage and tool cases ready before starting the executive travel already scheduled.

I was still getting snide remarks from the mad one over us not travelling until Monday, he wanted the weekend off, problem with Pete was that he steered his life with his dick, he always had a special lady lined up, sorry to disappoint you mate, but, it’s definitely a no no for you tomorrow night, little did we know, it wouldn’t be tonight either.
Once Pete understood my reason for travelling on Saturday his face changed, you could see the dollar signs in his eyes spinning like a cartoon character winning the slots, of course he squealed, “weekend rates!”

I left him happy, detouring back towards the car, I purchased two books, one was the Rough Guide to El Salvador, just for a little inside cultural knowledge, the other book, lets just say, for some late night bedtime reading!

The corporation had our British Airways Flights booked out of Heathrow on Saturday mid afternoon direct to Miami International and change for flight to San Salvador, all follow on transfers had been *arranged* arriving at hotel late Sunday afternoon.

We had heard that the hotel was clean and passed muster, quite a patronising comment from someone we called “the prince of darkness”, Ted, oh he’s the works baddie, a complete and utter jobs worth, worst of all, a shadower, hence the name, and a total knob.

He had visited El Salvador and the project at least six months previous and returned with all the relevant dimensions and plans of site, water supplies, mains electrics positions, all details that a fine quantity and general quality production surveyor would do, or should have done, he was to be our weakest link, somewhere along the line, if the shit was going to hit the fan, it would be our fan and his shit, correct, dear reader, well sussed.

Just before my house mate/ex lover had placed dinner on the table, the phone rang, I normally don’t answer the phone after 7, it’s rude, people calling. It did it again!

Hello, I answered quite annoyed, 

“Bill here, we’re leaving tomm early ….”

… but that’s Friday I questioned!

“yes”,

… but why?

“because we fucking are, station 08:10, get hold of the midget and tell him”,

Pete, midget?

“… Yes, now don’t argue”.

But …

……, *ring ring* … 

“Pete! Guess what? ….”

“…. BASTARD” came the reply, followed by an impression of catweasle huffing! No doubt Pete was entertaining, and caught with his pants down …. Again!

Neither of us had packed a thing, I don’t think we had time, but, we had to find it. I phoned my parents explaining the situation as I was due to visit them first thing the following morning, fifteen minutes later on the dot, dear Mum and Dad arrived rather flustered, still wearing slippers.
It was easier to put the suitcase on the lounge floor and keep traversing up and down the stairs than shout down to them, they refused tea, same for coffee, but produced a bottle of Chardonnay as a celebration drink.

It was difficult to discuss the situation with the live in ex lover, but, I mentioned in passing, for the first month dad would call for rent and my post, after that I should have returned and he could move out then, I’ve always been a generous and accommodating person, I felt easier with that arrangement than leaving an empty apartment, anyway, I still had some feeling for the bloke, “soft in the head more like” as dad called it.

Trying hard not to seem to be pushing parents out, but, I had things to do, there were the usual tears, for God’s sake mum, it’s only Central America, that was it, just two words, two tiny trigger words and all broke out, not being the well behaved of sons, and with my previous track record my mother was more concerned i would end locked up in prison with the key thrown away, dad had thought even worse, kidnap! She went into distress mode, “shootings, violence, mugging, political unrest, drugs, drugs! Promise me you don’t do drugs?”

I had to promise her, but, Infact I lied a small white one, I had at one time been offered some dance pills, and to be honest, we had had a great time on them, they made me smile like a Cheshire Cat and I remember telling everyone I loved them, you could hardly call them hard drugs, anyway, what time were we to have whilst working, to go out dancing! I’d already worked my months pay out, no leisure time for me, I was going to do well, my pot of gold was to be spilling over.

There was just enough time now to shower before bed and attempt to sleep five hours, sadly it was to be a case of “no way Jose”.

Sluggishly I got myself together the following morning, before I knew it, “victor meldrew” was outside honking his car horn like it was a new Christmas present, bloody hell, he’s early again! Mr grumpy was ready to run me about, to start yet another adventure, good old Dad.

A sneak preview

We were due to convene at the train station at eight a.m. and hop direct to Paddington, then onto the Express to Heathrow. My “partner in crime” was waiting, we each had a suitcase, tool-case and briefcase, mad Pete decided he would bring along his wife’s hand luggage, absolutely bloody brilliant, now we have two young guys in the entourage, one who is gay who looks straight, and the straight guy carrying a Louis Vuitton vanity case who looked and was acting gay. I pointed my finger at him and threatened, “if you score before I do, i’l rip you apart”, our joking soon stopped, time was tight and there still wasn’t any sign of Bill and Steve, what the hell were we to do? 

Ok Paul, think! Think! initiative! 

Fortunately, I had our relevant travel documentation.

That’s it Pete, we are going, get on the train, you tart, no buts, just get on the bloody train.

Settling for coach D, we squeezed into an empty table set, placed luggage in racks, and stared at each other knowingly whilst we waited a while before heading off to the Buffet, neither of us not wanting to be seen as desperate for a drink that early in the morning.
Pushing each other about like girls, we fell into the bar area, and as if by magic, so appeared Bill & Steve, “where have you been you tossers?, he shouted out loud in his cockney drawl, “we’ve been waiting in First Class for you”

“Do you think sixteen cans will see us ok all the way up to the smoke, hey?” Says Bill.

SIXTEEEN? ur avin a giraffe! 

Cheeky Chimp!

  Sometimes, whilst suffering insomnia, this curse can be a god send, or whoever you believe in, or worship, it’s a gift. Battling between dodging the sunrise light rays trying to break in between the tops and sides of the curtains and desperately wishing to be vacuumed under the duvet to resume a once brief slumber the only way to rid this decision is to get ones sad carcass out of bed and face the world with a smile.

Within a few seconds I’m up, swearing at the clock face and plotting my own charts as to how I’m going to navigate my day.

Within ten minutes I’m in sloppy trackies, trainers and in the driving seat of my trusty mini who is known as Parker, now speeding out of “Nutbush” and breaking the “city limits” heading towards the next town along the coast, bearing in mind folks, clock on speedo says 06:50.

I pass no cars, or buses coming in the opposite direction, perhaps time has shifted, perhaps I may have died and it’s just me, all alone, or maybe I’m a lost character from the planet of the apes.

Perhaps I AM the clever ape, yes, that’s it, monkey boy, monkey boy driving the two pedalled Cooper, Mr Guetta banging out his beats on the music box at a decibel louder than Concorde on take off, monkey boy has a penchant for loud soundz.

This is wonderful, I have the world to myself, I pull up outside the sunshine shop and secure the car, about to enter same and this pig like creature appears, not undickenson like, it barges past me and signs in via his *trotter* print recognition, selfishly he hogs himself the “stand up shower”, oh you should have heard the title I bestowed upon him under my “I’m not angry” smile.

Fifteen minutes of UVA rays steadily restore my lost sleep issues, the relays sound, awakening my brief kip, suddenly it’s back to reality.

Heading off to the supermarket, his head goes into overdrive, mentally substituting recipe ingredients for less expensive items, today is treat day, monkey boy is now going wild in the aisles.

On checkout he smiles at the cashier, she tells him to have a nice weekend, He replies “you too”.

Monkey boy is now home, shopping items are placed in cupboards, in fridge & on wine rack, now bathed & dressed in his weekend finery he pours his freshly brewed Indian coffee ….. 

This primate certainly knows how to have all the fun.