Game over?


Good morning folks

I trust you had an awesome weekend and that this finds you in finest pre-festive spirit. (My neighbours have had their tree up since mid-October!)

Here is the weekly blah-blah-blah codswallop that is patched together and dished up as the Monday morning blog…


Free + Bar = Trouble…

I have mentioned before at work, that if you ever put the words “Free Bar” together in a sentence, that you’re going to have trouble!Rowley Birkin

I don’t know whether it is some rogue lager-lout gene which we English possess deep inside, or the repression of a drinking apprenticeship, when licensing laws good time cops turned your carriage unto a pumpkin at the stroke of eleven (pm), with the only option of a late taste being a lucky-lock-in or an overpriced nightclub, where you had to even wear a suit back in the day, just to get in, (plus the split shift drinking laws of a Saturday all-dayer necessitating a dip downstairs to “El Phono” in the Merrion Centre…)


A young man’s first trip to the continent where booze used to be cheaper, freer flowing and available at all hours, was am eye-opening rite of passage, but now I am just reminiscing…

I have only ever worked for one company in the UK who were audacious/brave/foolhardy/rich enough to have a free bar and that was First Direct, whose parties were that of legend! Always a BIG venue (the old “T&C” and “Majestyk’s” were two places I recall, Majestyk’s once hailed as the biggest club in Europe, until it was destroyed by fire in 2014! Jumpin’ Jack’s I don’t miss, but walking into the vast open dome of Majestyk’s laser show was something else! Dose of 90’s Nostalgia HERE).large 15408786562_c5b8b912f9_b Co7Mr

The instant payback was that these parties were normally held on a Thursday and getting the Friday off work was an impossibility, it meant rolling into work come-what-may the next day, with the threat of a “Final Written Warning” for lateness/absence.

Best laid plans, I won’t get too much to drink, I kidded myself…

4 alarms set for 7am were snored through and waking in a panic at 8am, I then got a puncture on my way to work. A perfectly feasible (and true) excuse was heard by deaf ears when I rolled in an hour late.

My fellow Cumbrian mate, Jim Kellett, a brave man, rocked up at midday and a poor old bloke, whose name I can’t remember, had the misfortune to sleep in for the first time ever, even though he hadn’t even been to the party, also got a final written warning even though his past record was absolutely blemish free! A free bar always has a price.


Fast forward to 2013. En-route to the Romanian Black Sea aboard the Dixie Chickens bus, we had a stopover at a converted Nunnery in Siblu. No time for tea, tiredness and high spirits went well together, as the Cotton Bar laid on an extravagantly generous liquid spread, thanks to Vlad. G.rom

The next day a once-in-a-lifetime ride over the Transfagarasan pass was written off by a head-splitting hangover. A free bar always has a price!


The current problem is that next weekend is the Work Bash and things are a bit different here. It is a proper suited-&-booted Do, with all the top brass present, so although the ale is free-flowing, self-restraint is very necessary.
I managed it my first year, but 2 years back, I arrived too early and although the invitation says 9pm prompt, very few actually are.

Upon arrival, there are always diddy little cocktails; Pisco Sour (the national drink, nice enough) and Algarrobina (not exactly a man’s drink, but a much more quaffable tipple).

This was the start of the big mistake; spirits first. I don’t/can’t do spirits.

“Beer then wine, feeling fine. Wine then beer, feeling queer…”

So, after about 8-10 Algarrobinas, it was sit-down-meal-time. By which time I had relaxed my strict “no vino gracias” rule and replaced it with a “red/white/any” response to the waiter’s offers. This was phase II of the big mistake. For some bizarre, unknown reason, the beer tippling is saved until last! “So that people don’t get too drunk” I have been told.

Well I clearly disproved this theory, because by this time I should have said “No more for me thank you” and got a Joe-Baxi home, but no, wandering around with my own jug of cerveza. I came back from the khazi to a scene of giants-on-stilts, mad hatter hats and a zillion balloons. Had somebody slipped an acid tab in my beer? No, it was “La Hora Loca”.tmg-article_default_mobile;jpeg_quality=20 o_1538584444_ac3e5e9b24c12e5ccf4f3d6078f3b43e

After snaffling some souvenirs, at some point I departed. I didn’t walk and I didn’t get a taxi, so I have no idea how I got home, but I somehow did, intact, resplendent with top hat and trumpet.


I kept my head down for a while and sidestepped the midyear party.

The thing was, I was an unknown scruffy, lanky newby back then.

Since then I’ve done two adverts and a boatload of other stuff for the company, so my ugly mug is a bit better known nowadays.


What will happen next weekend???

Whatever happens, remember, free beer always has a price!

(I sometimes wonder what would have happened at the BL, if Elephant Beer had been free at the Christmas Party. Answers on a postcard please…)

Old poster of the Carlsberg Elephant Beer

Insomnia, I can’t get no sleep…


I am sorry (Will), I try not to whinge about my vecinos, but it was only the “Ley Seca” of a dry Saturday (national referendum, meaning prohibition of alcohol sales prior to voting) which saved my neighbours from my rage…ley-seca-peru

I found out this week that the population density of Australia is 3 people per square KM. Lima has a population density of 3800 people per square KM, so even at Christmas/especially at Christmas, it is never going to be Silent Night!noise

This week it all started on Thursday at 4am. Well no, it had started way before I got back from work on Thursday, but a H-U-G-E speaker on the roof terrace of a certain strain of scum that is my neighbour half a block away, playing a kind of megamix, which played 15 seconds of a song, (screeching/whooping), then another 15 seconds of another song, (screeching/whooping), then another 15 seconds of another song, you get the idea. It got louder and louder AND LOUDER. It seemed to finish around dawn, just in time for me to get 4 minutes kip to get up at 6am. This was repeated on Friday, which finished around the same time, then a different neighbour had a big barney around 5am, the bairn (luckily) slept through all this, to wake up at 6am. “Es de dia” (her call for everybody to get up).speakers

So, on the back of about 3hrs kip over the previous two nights, when I heard a band warming up, (not really a band, they call themselves “Orchestras”), on Saturday night, I groaned inwardly…Back-to-the-Future

It is said “You can sleep when you die”.

Special thanks to my 7am 200BPM techno-neighbour, whose shift lasts until midday, passing the baton to salsa-neighbour who cranks up his speakers around 10am. So a crafty powernap is out of the question.

If none of the above are in action, deaf neighbour is shouting at his maid from 5am and phantom furniture mover, is moving furniture all night.

In other words, I am a very grumpy bear right now. If reincarnation does exist, I would like to come back as a monk (or a yak) in the Tibetan Himalayas please.yak

Nipper’s day out.

Lina was away studying so the Nipper and I had a free rein on Saturday.

As always, I gave the young ‘un a choice and as always, she chose “Parque de la Amistad”, with her calling the order of events.

After several hours of trying to leave the house we finally got out around 11am, bus down the Panamericana and a quick hop, step and a jump to Av. Camino de las Incas.

First stop, facepainting!



The nipper is probably one of the best customers, so we know the owner, Miss Nancy, very well. She filled me in on the Mafioso dealings on how the park is run, if you have friends in the council, you’re laughing. If not, pay up, up and up! It is a scandalous way of running things, but this is the way here. Hard-working people trying to earn a crust, just to be told that this rule has changed, that rule has changed and the rent has gone up, again. Ba$tardo$!


Next was “the Farm”, a place I am not entirely comfortable with, but the only contact with animals that the bairn is going to get in Lima.

We snook in some contraband carrots to feed the goats and llamas, then waited for old faithful “Max”, the riding pony to get tacked up. I bored poor Hugo-horse-handler to tears with my horsey anecdotes translated so badly that they obviously made little/no sense and after two stop-start laps of a tiny track, it was time for dinner.


Ham and pineapple pizza, a glass of Chicha Morada and a milkshake. Chicha morada looks like Ribena but is made from purple corn, it came this time in what looked like a gallon stein and the Nipper was always courting disaster with a spill, which inevitably happened. We saved the crusts for the ducks and fish, which were clandestinely fed and then on to painting! A new activity, which started well enough, but if the bairn has inherited my artistic talents, she will have to look elsewhere for creative skills. It soon turned into a reenactment of the Fast Show.

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The woman running the show was as miserable as sin and rude to match.

I told her that to get a customer to return , it only needs an occasional smile and the word “gracias” to be effective. She swore at me under her breath and who can blame her!


We then popped back to see the animals and then headed home, having an argument with a rather rude woman on the bus. I wasn’t in a very diplomatic mood, so idiots were not suffered gladly.

It was a great day out with the Young ‘Un though.


Raider’s round-up.

New strips for the new season have been revealed.47687681_1273007839528209_6405752303881551872_n

After last years survival, it is again a case of a cup final every game, staying up is the priority.

The Shipbuilders will definitely look the part next year!


Game over?1488634825_Mljuegos0

Any readers from last week (thank you both) may remember that I had a mysterious ailment with my foot. A week after the El Misti Sky Race, I woke up one morning with a numb foot. The ball of my foot with no feeling and four toes feeling like they had an elastic band around them.

A constant feeling that there is a stone in my shoe, even when I am not wearing shoes.

Thenceforth began a series of repeat trips to the hospital, which always involves a lot of queues, to be told to go to a different kiosk, whilst batting off folk trying to push in (national pastime), everybody is in a foul mood and before anything gets done, P-A-Y UP first!

I miss the NHS, they always patched me up bloody brilliantly, the best health service in the World, bar none!

Anyway comparing health services is a futile task, so back to my current predicament.

I saw a very young Neurologist who referred me for an EMI test (electric shocks and needles) which was conducted by a dead ringer for the bad guy off Indiana Jones.


This doc redefined the word “serious” and he eventually tired of my lack of medical vocabulary and started talking in perfect, albeit clipped, English.

So, my results came back and the 16yr old Neurologist told me that I had “Axonal Polyneuropathy”.hqdefault

This is basically a degenerative nerve disease, which is the manifestation of a problem/disease/illness/infection/malaise elsewhere.

(I have suffered from sciatica/trapped nerve twice, which feels just like a pulled hamstring, which went as suddenly as it appeared both times).

I asked if there was a cure.

Dr. Negative told me that it was chronic and would only get worse.

I joked as I left, “But I’m not going to die, am I?”

A slightly nervous laugh from the World’s youngest Neurologist ended our meeting…


So, what next?

£40 for a load of blood tests for about 30 possible disorders tomorrow, with a possible outcome of “idiopathic” (no known cause).

Nerves are a different kettle of fish to muscles and bones. Broken bones can be fixed, pinned and plated. Muscles heal and can be treated with TLC and Ultrasound. Nerves are different.


Running is something that I have done almost all my life since I was 11 years old, because I was useless at most other sports. This problem might suddenly bring down the curtain on a rather non-illustrious career, but running is all that I know Try giving up fags after 35 years, try giving up video games after 35 years, try giving up Midget Gems after 35 years…

One doesn’t realise how much you use/need something until it suddenly doesn’t work, and toes are very useful for running (in the push-off phase). Cycling would be a useful alternative, but it is the area of my foot directly over the pedal, (plus I don’t have a bike nor would I dare to ride one here).

Although I have a lot of my climbing gear here, toes are essential in that game too.

Swimming is always a good all-rounder, but my first venture into a pool since the Tadcaster Triathlon in 2004, a few months back, almost ended in me drowning on my second length, despite my new trunks, goggles and rubber hat. I was always crap at swimming!


So what, I can’t run. There are people a lot worse off, but it something that keeps me semi-sane in this madhouse.

I am not going to burn all my running trainers just yet. It may not be the end and I really hope it isn’t. I still have dreams of a winter BGR and a Ramsay Round (and a Paddy Buckley, if I got round the Ramsay!)

All my selfish running ambitions aside, I have a 4yr old who I dearly want to introduce to the hills one day, which is a dream far greater than any of my others.

We’ll see what the test shows and take it from there…


And finally…

I never treat any of my classes as a “Look where I have been, look what I have done” listening exercise. Although students may be semi-interested, it is of limited learning potential and time is a very limited resource in class!

However, there is a unit in the book at work which mentions Mongolia, which is too good an opportunity to pass on.1025509_10153733107900302_2053864725_o

The Mongol Rally is difficult to explain to someone who has never heard of it.304564_10152079532295302_322194710_n

This beaut little videogramme by the magnificent folk at Adventurists HQ sums it up perfectly. I don’t know if it is the music, or the memories that makes me misty-eyed around the 1:15 mark, but it does.


Happy days on the road :-)

Rally 20

That’s all for now folks

Johnny, Lina and the Nipper

p.s. The Nipper was singing a Spanish Christmas song (“Feliz Navidad”) which has an English verse along the lines of: I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, from the bottom of my heart”. She asked me “What is the bottom of my heart?”

I explained that it was where love came from (apparently/allegedly).

Just like her Old Man (ever the literalist) she retorted with “Isn’t it just bones and blood?”

Maybe she has a point!


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