Friday, 31 July 2009

GR8 Expectations?

Just over a week ago I received a text message:
You ok

I didn't know who it was from, so I replied:

Fine, thanks. Who is asking?

I soon got a reply:

Its lee have i got the right number who are you?

Now, the only Lee I know is someone who I met at university a few years ago. It was unlikely to be him, but I replied, letting Lee know where I live:

Phil, N Wales. If you're that Lee, then hello, long time on see!

Note the how predictive text predicted I wanted "on" instead of "no". It wasn't the Lee I knew:

Im lee from northampton sorry mate must have got the wrong number, how is wales anyway.

Now, ordinarily if folk get through to a wrong number, they usually apologise and then that is that; I know I do. Not in this case, however. I reply:

No worries. Wales is somewhat wet, but otherwise nice. Hope it is nice where you are.

A swift reply:

Yea its been nice here 2day,had a few beers in town,my auntie lives in carmathen,you know it?

To which I replied:

No, but I know someone who lives there.

Then a reply to which I didn't respond back to:

Its a small world enit lol,you wouldnt like it here its turned into poland,nothing against them tho,the girls are nice,plus ive been her all my life had enough.

I didn't really like the route that this odd conversation was going, so I declined to reply.

Weirdly enough, the Lee I thought it might have been posted a message to me on Facebook at the time that the text messaging was taking place. How very odd.

I thought that that was it, until I received the following text later on the following Saturday (technically Sunday morning):

You ok son

To which I replied:

Yes, thanks Lee. Hope you're okay too.

Indeed he was:

Yeah im fine just been down the local 4 a beer its been really hot 2day,were off 2 menorca on friday a family one,can't wait lol.

My reply:

It'll be even hotter on holiday! Sure you'll have fun.

Which prompted the reply that encompassed what I had been thinking:

Yea hope so,you must think im weird texting you at random,i dont even know your ages or what you look like,we could be long lost friends lol.

As I went on to say, it is quite odd:

I'm 38. Not weird, just unusual. Would be odd if we were long lost friends!

Note the ambigious middle sentence following the "I'm" bit. After my reply I heard nothing. I concluded that perhaps Lee was 18, 19 and he decided that he didn't really want to text someone old enough to be his father.

However, on Monday I received a text:

So what do you do 4 a living? i fell asleep was a bit drunk,went 2 a neighbours 50th.

As an aside, I find that when I type these texts for the blog, I automatically write "to" and "for" and then have to edit them to what some folk know as Princebonics, some as text speak.

I reply:

Usually office work, bit of writing. How old are you and what do you do?

Lee replied:

Im 33,i work in a warehouse fork lift and the warehouse crap,my names lee buy the way,you got kids or married?

I removed Lee's birthdate from the above text, to help protect his identity. I don't usually tell strangers more personal details, but I did this time:

No children, not married. I'm Phil, in case you'd forgotten.

Another reply:

My middle name is philip lol,do you have picture phone i could send you a pic,have you got any female friends?

Now, why would I want to see a photograph of someone I barely know? Also, who hasn't got any female friends? I replied:

My phone is pretty old and doesn't really do photos. I have female friends, but most have moved away since uni.

Another swift reply:

Ohh well i should come down where you live and have a few beers with ya,there must be women round your town,who you live with?

Now, I have met folk that I've met over the 'net, but never my random text messages, and I doubt I ever shall. I reply:

Live on my own, which makes a nice change from sharing a house.

Lee replied with more personal details which I won't publish here. I've not heard from him for a few days. Will I hear from him again? Will he text me when on holiday? Who knows.

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Prodigal Returneth (and Other Lies)

Well, it has been some time since my last post! Time for a quick update: still eating meat and recently made the decision to try and lose weight by eating healthily. Counting the calories and not eating as much as I used to has meant that I've lost a few pounds over the last two weeks.

I've quite a few things to blog about that I'm working on, so expect an update soon (honest!)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Food in parallel

Since the last update, I have tried chicken (not too bad) and bacon (nice, but it was overcooked). On looking at ingredients of pre-packaged products, it seems like I have to learn the lingua franca of the meat-eating world. I have seen ham as labelled as 'formed' and 'reformed'. I noticed that some hot dogs contain pork and chicken, no doubt processed quite a bit along the way to the shelf. I can't say I ever thought of hot dogs as having chicken therein.

I care about what I eat; I'd rather not have (re-)formed meat if I can help it. This checking of ingredients process is a parallel of my checking to see if things have animal products in them. Some things never change...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Things forgotten

I visited my father over Christmas and I returned laden with boxes of floppy disks and VHS videos. I don't have the facility to currently play video cassettes, but I'll leave that to the future. Most of the cassettes aren't labelled and I know I've got a lot of memories to watch in the future, be it long-forgotten comedies, dramas and perhaps other things which have never been repeated on television.

I have the facility to access the diskettes however, and I can remember when I heard about how new Macs came without a disk drive and thinking that was stupid; how times change. I'm possibly halfway through the process of backing up what I can onto a hard drive and it is proving to be a fascinating peek into my history. The disks so far cover the years 1994 to 2004. There are games I've written and lost or left unfinished, backups of emails sent and received, photos, coursework, fiction, poetry, letters written and a lot more. There are examples of websites, Usenet and other protocols in relative infancy.

I'm remembering things that I'd long forgotten. As Nietzche once said: the advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. I'm looking forward sifting through it all in the years to come.

Purchasing meat for the first time in years

I recently went to the local supermarket with the intention of perhaps consuming some bacon in the café. The café was packed however, so I decided not to wait. I had a look at the chilled/frozen meat section (two aisles; perhaps 5% of it has vegetarian fare). There is so much choice, even in the bacon section! I thought I would leave the buying of meat for a while, as you can only seem to buy bacon and sausages in multiple quantities; perhaps I should try a butcher's shop one day.

Anyway, I noticed that they sell fast-food style boxes at the meat counter. What caught my eye was a chicken burger or a dual-sausage bun. I asked for the sausage bun meal (bun, two pork sausages, sauce sachet and wedges). When I was at the checkout I had a familiar feeling: that of trepidation.

On arriving home and after putting the other food away, I opened the box. It stuck me how sausages (both meat and soya-based) have little aesthetic merit.. I added the sauce to the bun and tuck in. It tasted nice, really nice. I'm sure to a regular meat eater it probably would have tasted simply okay or perhaps even a little bland, but my mouth told my head that it was lovely, as if I was quaffing a glass of expensive wine. Any doubts or guilt about eating it vanished after two bites and I ate it all. Ironically, the wedges weren't very nice and I left most of them.

Minutes later when retrieving a drink from the fridge, my saliva glands drooled with satisfaction. I cannot remember drooling at vegetarian food. Should I wish, I have the full panoply of food in the supermarket to try. This journey is fun.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

TV: Countdown

Countdown, the doyen of television quiz shows, began its first run of 2009 this week. It opens with the first appearance of two folk unfamiliar to terrestrial TV viewers: sports journalist Jeff Stelling and newcomer Rachel Riley.

For occasional viewers such as yours truly, nothing seems to have changed since the show launched Channel Four way back in 1982. The format is as simple yet challenging as ever; the jokes and puns are perfect for the target audience, and the coupling of attractive young lady and genial older man remains.

Oxford maths graduate Riley seems to be a good replacement for Carol Vorderman. She can crunch the numbers and display the letters just fine. Of greater interest is Jeff Stelling's switch from sports presenter to game-show host. He still fronts Sky Sport's Soccer Saturday but follows in the steps of Alan Partridge from sports to light entertainment. Unlike Partridge however, Spelling is likeable and seems to enjoy presenting. An example of his humour follows: Stelling has explained Soccer Saturday as “it's a football show with no football. You see no shots, no near misses, no goals – it's a bit like watching Newcastle [United].”

Countdown is a quiz seemingly out of place with modern television: there is no audience interaction (unless no-one gets the conundrum); no cash competition for the viewers at home; no dramatic pauses. It features a special guest (Andrew Sachs this week) who invariably reminisces with an anecdote, dictionary corner, the prize for winning is a teapot and a chunk of the show is literally spent clock-watching. Yet it remains a timeless show. No-one could ever call it must-see TV, but it remains a very British cornerstone of daytime television.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The decision to try meat again

I'm not adverse to trying new things: this would also encompass trying things that I haven't tried for some time, if I enjoyed it at one time. Fairly recently I'd been thinking about my diet and have watched a couple of episodes of Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, which I find interesting and informative. I reasoned that, as my drinking palette has matured (I used to dislike Guinness and whisky, for example, both of which I like now), my taste for food will have matured too. Perhaps I would enjoy some of the foods I used to dislike? Diet should never be immutable: there is much I have not tried. I should like my food passport renewed and look forward to stamps from foreign climes.

What about how animals are treated, I hear you say? I still care about how animals are slaughtered and kept (battery hens are a case in point), and I watched a documentary about how some companies inject water and other things into chicken to make more profit. I have no qualms about trying meat again: after all, I can always stop eating it again should I feel like it in the future.

I've been talking about trying meat again with a good friend and, with his encouragement, I decided to try a little bit of scotch egg at a buffet we were at a few days ago. My knowledge of meat is so limited I'm not even sure which meat is in scotch eggs. I think it is pork, but I could be wrong. I've eaten several vegetarian scotch eggs which I've enjoyed, so I thought this would be something I may enjoy. I took a bite of a quartered scotch egg and it didn't taste that nice, if I'm honest. I had another couple of bites and left it on my plate. It tasted quite bland; not dissimilar to how some vegetarian fare does. My conscious Peep Show-style narrative probably didn't help matters.

Here I go. I'm doing it! I'm eating meat! Hmm, it's not very
nice is it? Another bite. No, quite bland. What's Jeremy up
Still, I had knowingly, purposively eaten meat for the first time in nearly twenty years. I wasn't sick and I don't feel guilty. In fact, I'm looking forward to trying more in time to come. I even have an idea of what to try next. I'll be sure to write about it when I do.