Other people’s driving really is terrible. I am the first to admit my own driving is no great shakes, especially when it comes to manoeuvres, but I do feel I have good road sense.  It often seems that some drivers have no clue what they are supposed to be doing.

Picture a three lane, light controlled, junction (left lane to turn left, middle lane straight on and right hand lane to turn right).  A car was in the left lane completely in front of the stop line, blocking a pedestrian crossing. Meanwhile a guy on a bike waiting to turn right had pulled off the road onto the pavement right across the crossing.

An elderly couple trying to cross were giving hard stares and very English ‘tuts’ at the cyclist and driver.  As the lights changed the car in the left lane started to pull right.  Some of the drivers behind were caught out by this action and in traditional London manner hit their horns.


What was he thinking?

A few nights ago, cycling home, I could hear a siren somewhere.  This is not unusual in London and I checked behind as I approached a junction.  A three lane, light controlled, junction. As I was turning right I moved into the right lane and rolled up to the Stop line as the lights turned red.There was a line of cars to the side of me waiting to both turn left and move straight on and a single car behind me waiting to turn right.

The siren was getting closer and a check revealed it was a Fire Engine approaching from behind.  I moved forwards alongside the barriers and at the pedestrian crossing entry point hopped the bike up onto the pavement.  The car behind me could then pull forwards and over to the left to allow the emergency services through.

With a blast of the sirens Fireman Sam was on his way.  An elderly couple using the crossing seemed put out that we were partially blocking their way.  When the lights changed the driver in the wrong lane started to move right, only to be met by blasting of horns as he slowed the passage of those behind.


What were they thinking?

(What the?)
(What the fuck was that?)

You burden me with your questions
You’d have me tell no lies
You’re always asking what it’s all about
But don’t listen to my replies
You say to me I don’t talk enough
But when I do I’m a fool
These times I’ve spent, I’ve realized
I’m going to shoot through
And leave you

The things, you say
Your purple prose just gives you away
The things, you say
You’re unbelievable

EMF – Unbelievable


Different People


We’ve recently returned from holiday. As a family one of our favourite things is people watching and a holiday provides the perfect blend of time and interesting people to watch. I say interesting, all people are fascinating of course and all human life was there. Or at least that slim section of life that can both afford and choose to lie by a pool in the Mediterranean.

There was this one guy, big, overweight, bald headed, no neck and tattoos including a crude England (or should that be Engerland?) flag across his distended gut.  He looked like a builder who had done well, you could imagine him on the terraces roaring the team on.  He spent all day from around 8.00 am under an umbrella, head on a pillow.  He was a hard man for sure, no one was going to invade his space. I wondered how he felt about being surrounded by well heeled Germans and Russians.  Not my kind of guy looking like that.

One guy spent most of the day on his laptop. He lay by the pool tapping away on the laptop or yelling at people down the phone while his younger ‘trophy wife’ baked in the sun.  It was clear that he was utterly indispensable (or he had hired a bunch of muppets and/or was unable to delegate). Twice a day he would swim a lap of the pool with his partner before she went and brought him a cocktail and he returned to his laptop. In his Vilebrequin shorts and designer sunnies he was making sure that we all knew who was the alpha male. I wondered how his partner felt about the lack of attention. Again not my kind of guy behaving like that.

Then there was this guy who had the most loving and tender conversation with his daughter.  He was a bit loud and then repeated it all to his partner (presumably not the mother from the way it sounded).  They were arranging to meet up and he sounded like a truly loving father.  More like my kind of guy expressing feelings like that.

As I said all human life.  And these three blokes all came together – in the same body.  Which just goes to show that appearances can be deceptive, first and even second impressions don’t tell the full story.

Different person, different argument
In my shadow, no more compliments
One more person breaking the rules again
I’m still waiting for someone else to join in

Stand where the others stand
We’re alive tonight
Land where the others land
We’re alive tonight

Different People  – Biffy Clyro

One hand in my pocket

On the one hand it has been a depressing week:

Firstly I have been waiting to hear from a potential client regarding a pitch for a large project.  The pitching process took months of effort. I’ve been on tenterhooks and can’t settle, checking my email constantly.  I can’t understand why they are delaying the result and am starting to be convinced we haven’t got it.

Secondly I heard that a number of friends have lost their jobs. This made me very angry at the people that did this and I spent a whole afternoon in a bad mood.

The incessant wind and rain and ever rising flood levels (I live by the River Thames) has been a real worry. I am increasingly frustrated by the politicians who seem to offer nothing but platitudes.

Finally I have an injury and after 6 weeks of rest I am still only able to run 3 – 4 miles a day very cautiously.

On the other hand it’s been a good week:

Firstly I have been waiting to hear from a potential client regarding a pitch for a large project.  We did great to get through to the final round and learned loads in the process.  I had weaned myself off constantly checking email and being on tenterhooks has lead me back into bad habits, it’s noticeable how it distracts you and prevents you from fully attending to the here and now which I hadn’t really appreciated before.

Secondly I heard that a number of friends have lost their jobs, I was quite angry for a while.  Of course once I calmly looked at it I realised that raging is pointless.  Having compassion and finding ways to help would be more useful.  So I contacted them and offered to help.  By reaching out they know I care.

The incessant wind and rain and ever rising flood levels (I live by the River Thames) is a concern.  Yet there is nothing I can do about the weather.  Accepting the issue and getting on with what needs to be done in the short term is more productive.  And maybe if we keep the pressure on this will help the climate change naysayers see the truth.

I have an injury and after 6 weeks of rest I am now able to run 3 – 4 miles a day albeit cautiously.  If I do some cross training and keep healing I’ll still make a spring race or two.  And today a gentle 4 miler in a rare burst of sunny, calm weather felt just great.

I know which week I chose to have.  What will you choose?

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

Alanis Morrisette

Lightening the load

On my morning commute today a very worried young man sat next to me.  He pulled out a thick text book and feverishly pored over it.  It’s no exaggeration to say that he was working himself into a real state of anxiety – mumbling sentences out loud, pressing his fingers to his ears and rocking to and fro.

Most of us would have put our earphones in , shut our eyes and put it down as another ‘commuting nutter’ story.    I decided to see if I could improve his day.

I asked him what the subject was and he sheepishly said that it was the Chartered Institute of Taxation foundation course.   We briefly discussed what a huge, complex, ever changing and desperately dry topic that could be.  Not only that but his day job only covered about a quarter of the subjects and he was trying to study in his limited spare time via a correspondence course.  He knew no one who had passed first time, even the partners at his firm had struggled. With only 30-40% of candidates rumoured to pass outright he felt it was a hopeless task.

I wondered out loud whether making the exam seem harder than it was might serve any purpose for those that had passed? Perhaps it gave more kudos to the senior guys?  Maybe telling scare stories and frightening the juniors was a bit of a rite of passage?  I also asked what the pass mark was and this was rumoured to be 40-50%.  So I mused that if his day job covered 25% of the syllabus and he was good at that then he had half the required marks in the bag before starting.  All he really had to do was work out how to scrape together 25%.  That didn’t seem too daunting especially as it was an open book exam.

If my new companion applied the 80:20 rule and chose topics carefully he could quite easily get to a point where he was confident of getting the pass mark.  Ok he might not win any prizes but he could relax and really focus on doing a few things well.  After all when in practice as long as he knew what he didn’t know all would be well.

He went very quiet, but as we pulled into the station he said that he’d never looked at it this way.  If he thought about it logically he started to feel confident.  I could visibly see the change in him – as he stood to leave the carriage he looked a few inches taller, less stressed, more confident.

I have no way of knowing how he will perform in his exams, but I will guarantee he had a much better day today than he might otherwise have had.  Perhaps we can all have a better day if we take the time to look at things in a new light.  Getting a fresh perspective can really lighten the load.