Friday, May 14, 2021

Beauty is in the eye of the bee holder

Over the last year or so I've had the same conversation with Mrs AC quite a few times. The doorbell will go around 11am and Mrs AC will state that it's the postman delivering something for her. Of course it's going to be for her as I hate shopping so much that I actually don't even like doing it online.

But anyway, the conversation usually goes something like this:
AC: what have you been buying now?
Mrs AC: something I really need, it's a ravioli maker / remote control hairdryer / phlogiston detector (insert other device which looks really snazzy but has virtually no use and will be used once before spending the rest of eternity hidden in a drawer)
AC: that's nice (whilst in my head I'm trying to figure out which drawer it's going to be deposited into in about 3 hours time)

If we both die in a freak accident whoever has the pleasure of emptying our house is going to think that we were a pair of utter nutters when they find out how much tat is secreted about the house. I might just leave a couple of notes in the aforementioned tat drawers absolving myself from any responsibility in order that my obituary doesn't read "Tat collector dies in alcohol fuelled idiocy." When I do get written up I want it to read: His last words were "what could possibly go wrong - watch this!"

So when the doorbell rang at 11am one day a couple of weeks ago I hadn't anticipated the next words out of Mrs AC's mouth: "Who can that be?"

Seriously woman? You've spent so much time with him over the last year that I'm surprised you don't know how many sugars he likes in his tea and his entire life story.   

"It's obviously the fucking postman" was my response. "Oh yeah, I'm not expecting anything though" was hers. She was right - the delivery was for me for a change. 

"It's for me" I told her, "I've been expecting something - It's my bees". Mrs AC then proceeded to call me by her usual pet name name for me - she can speak fluent Italian so she uses Italian to get me in the mood "fottuto idiota". Not now honey - amore later but I've got something to get on with. 

"I'm not that fucking stupid - seriously what have you been buying?" Now I have been known to wind her up about things - I've told her about mythical creatures called haggis which roam the Scottish countryside and once I tried to tell her that dinosaurs weren't as big as everyone thought but that time had caused the bones to swell to enormous proportions. I probably deserve my Italian moniker to be honest. 

"No seriously - I bought some bees". The look of disdain on her face was palpable. 

So anyway - back to the bees. It's my latest weird hobby - last year I made a few cheeses to pass the time and this year I'm entering the world of beekeeping. Sort of anyway. There's a local society who are always looking for gardens to put hives in and one of the members asked if I'd be interested in putting a couple in the garden. 

I haven't really had to do much but as long as I get some of the honey I'm fine so I've been researching how to make mead so we've got some extra booze to get us through the winter and at least some members of our household will be doing some flying this year, because it's unlikely to be me for quite a while. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Delusions of grandeur

Some people wish they had aristocrats, royalty or long lost rich relations in their family. Not me though. I just wish I had a normal family instead of the dysfunctional lunatics that I'm forced to share a few days a year with. When Mrs AC first met my family a year or so ago she asked "Are you sure you're not adopted? You're so unlike anyone in your family that I can't believe that you share the same genes!".

She's right. I am so unlike my family but I'm pretty sure I'm not adopted as I'm the spitting image of my father and seem to have inherited his predilection for more beer than is healthy. Although I'm secretly hoping there was a mix up in the baby unit and my real family have been looking for me for all this time. I don't care if they're rich or famous. My only hope is that they are normal. Or just not lunatics with delusions of grandeur. Like my mother for instance. Why is it that whenever I use the word lunatic I generally talk about my mother?

For years (since I was a child anyway), my mother has told me that we're related to someone famous - Lord Horatio Nelson,_1st_Viscount_Nelson. You've probably never heard of him but he was a celebrity in his day of the late 1700s and early 1800s. He was a very famous naval commander who defeated the French and Spanish navies before he was killed in battle at Trafalgar in 1805 and is commemorated with a statue atop a column in Trafalgar Square in London. 

It's a family story passed down the generations as her mother's maiden name was Nelson and they all originate from the approximately the same location - North Norfolk, hence my allegiance with Norwich City. Dear lord could we not have had Robin Hood in our lineage then I could support Nottingham Forest who at least have won the European Cup a couple of times?  

But anyway - I'm rambling. During the lockdown my mother has been researching our family tree. Oh fucking joy when she calls me up to ask "Do you remember my uncle Eddie?"

"Who? No". Only to be told that he did something utterly unremarkable and over the course of an hour's one sided conversation I learn he was the first person in our family to walk from his village to another village and he died 10 years before I was born. So how the fuck would I remember him then? "Well I thought you would" was her reply. I told you my family were lunatics!

So back to the family tree. We have literally nobody of historic interest within our tree. For as long back as it went all my relations have been landless peasants. There's no connection with anyone of any interest and if there's an unclaimed crock of gold waiting for a rightful heir it won't be coming my way.

At least I won't subject future generations with this ignominy. Not that I've done much better than my predecessors but it's that I'll be able to tell them in person as I'm pretty sure that I'm immortal - I've got a 100% success rate of not dying so far so it must be true. It's either I'm immortal or a lunatic. It's not like certain traits are passed from generation to generation is it?

Oh........wait.......hang on.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Worst sequel ever

I always think movie makers are a bit lazy - pump out enough movies and eventually you'll produce a box office hit. Kind of like the infinite monkey theory whereby given enough time a monkey at a typewriter will produce the complete works of Shakespeare. 

But when they do stumble upon a box office success then that movie gets sequels, prequels, remakes, animated, prequels done in lego... you get the drift. Basically anything to keep the money rolling in. Take "Fast and the Furious" for example. What are we up to now? Fast and the Furious 87: Now reshowing the original movie because we've been going on for so long that everyone has forgotten the 1st one? Something like that anyway. 

Not that I dislike movie franchises though - Paddington 2 is brilliant! Not a movie you want to be watching at the cinema on your own as you'll be making parents a bit nervous but it's brilliant all the same. 

But here we are in Lockdown 3.0 and I'm starting to get a bit tired of it all. The first iteration was actually a bit of fun - I usually travel so much that spending more than a couple of weeks in my own home was a bit of a novelty, once I'd made it clear to Mrs AC that "working from home" didn't involve me drinking beer and watching porn all day we got ourselves into a routine. 

Then the 1st lockdown ended but we were no means closer to normality - I was still unable to travel to the US so apart from a few more restaurants and pubs being open nothing really changed for us. We managed a couple of weeks away in Europe at the end of summer but little were we to know that the sequel was already being planned. 

Lockdown 2 came and went in November but it was over pretty quickly - much like Highlander 2 which must be the worst sequel I've ever seen.

Then much like a Taylor Swift album that gets announced 2 minutes before its release we hit the Christmas restrictions. Just prior to the weekend before Christmas there was chatter that the US was about to lift its own restrictions which would have meant me being able to accompany Mrs AC on her trip back to NY. But no. That got swept from under our feet on the Saturday before Christmas when the entire SE of England was put under the highest restriction level (short of a full lockdown) with 24 hours notice and another travel ban was effected. But Mrs AC still needed to travel back (for work which was allowed) so on the Monday before Christmas I took her to the airport and got stopped by the police for the 3rd and 4th times in my life on the same day (the 1st time was nearly 20 years ago and I was doing 98mph so probably actually deserved it then and the 2nd was whilst driving my mother's car and had been reported by a nosy neighbour!). 

So a dull and boring Christmas ensued and I did something on New Year's that I probably haven't done in my adult life - I was stone cold sober. I hadn't had a drink since Christmas Day and was asleep on NYE before 10pm but was awake just after midnight in NY to wish Mrs AC a happy new year. Mrs AC was not stone cold sober, or even close to being sober. She'd been catching up with a friend (she'd been in the U.K. since early March and not seen anyone since before then) and they'd obviously had a few drinks. Why would anyone think that booze makes them funnier and more interesting? Oh... wait.... hang on. 

Then things really kicked off again - the entire country was put back on lockdown just after New Years and it looks like we'll be in this situation for most of February as well. It's also just been announced that arrivals from certain countries will have to quarantine in specific hotels rather than doing it at home. At the moment arrivals from the US are ok to quarantine at home (which had been our plan) but given how things can change at pretty short notice this has caused Mrs AC to expedite her return from NY to 10 days time, rather than coming back at the end of February as originally planned. 

But I think there's some light at the end of the tunnel - vaccinations are being done and hopefully this will relieve some pressure on the healthcare system (which was the true purpose of lockdown albeit not widely understood) and I'm hopeful of being able to get back to normal towards the end of this year. With a bit of luck that will mean being able to travel again and there is definitely a blank space in my diary being reserved for the next time I get to a Vegas poker table and get to overindulge on the free drinks, although I think I'm going to need a bit of practice before I do it as my alcohol tolerance has dropped to the lowest point of my adult life. Or the light at the end of the tunnel could be a train, in which case I'd better get off the line. 

Anyway - a belated happy new year to all. Hopefully whoever is running this simulation that we call reality has got their act together and this year will be better managed, if not it promises to be the worst sequel ever. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

It’ll be lonely this Christmas

Just a quick note to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah or just a celebration that the days will be getting longer if your gods are happy with the yearly sacrifices - in which case it's probably best to throw a couple more virgins into the volcano as something seems to have pissed them off! It's been a funny sort of year which seems to have dragged on for eternity on one hand but actually sped by when I consider that I've not actually travelled for work since February.

But it's finally happening - Mrs AC is leaving. Despite arriving in early March for what was only meant to be a 10 day stay she's been here over 9 months, but she's finally had enough and is travelling back to the US. I can leave the toilet seat up and walk around my own house scratching my balls as much as I want.

Now I've only got a limited period of time to enjoy my freedom as she is actually coming back, but this time on a more permanent basis. Due to the current situation and my inability to travel to the US coupled with a 2 week period of self isolation each time she could do the transatlantic trip she's accepted a job in London. But before she starts that there's some paperwork, admin and immigration documents to sort out which can only really be done from NY. She also needs "to pick up a few things from home" which will probably necessitate us having to move to a bigger house (when she first came to London I think she brought more things for a 2 week trip than I actually own!).

The only practical solution to having to quarantine in NY is to travel over the Christmas period - her apartment is going to be empty so it's either do it then or spend 2 weeks in a hotel room which would see anyone going crazy and drinking their own body weight in booze. Oh, didn't I do something similar last year? But at least I got a modicum of exercise, human contact and fresh air rather that sitting in a hotel room on my own for a fortnight!

It's also not my year to have the cost centres since I took them to family in Scotland last year. So it'll be lonely this Christmas - although my mother has decided that she's not comfortable travelling due to the current situation so every cloud has a silver lining!

Anyway - I'm off to leave the toilet seat up for the next few weeks. "What's that Mrs AC? I promise not to leave the toilet seat up - just don't beat me again! Aargh no, not the face...."

Monday, September 28, 2020

A family divided

Mrs AC is having a fit. We're just about to watch my mighty 49ers trounce her beloved Giants and she's not a happy bunny. Firstly because we should have been at the game (which would have been my first game on US soil as I've only ever been to the London series games) but secondly because my eldest cost centre has just announced that he wants to support the Jets. "You could have mentioned this a week ago when we trounced you" I said. "Also - Why in fucking bejesus would you want to do that?" Mrs AC and I both enquired simultaneously. We already support one mediocre football team (real football with the round ball) in Norwich City so you've got a lifetime of despair to look forward to in that I told him. Why not choose the 49ers or Giants so he has someone to cheer along with? Or at least someone who might be on TV more than once a season so you've actually got a chance of watching a game - we only get 5 games a week (3 of which start well after midnight) and apart from the main Thursday, Sunday and Monday night fixtures which are chosen in advance the U.K. sports channel mainly revolves around teams with a winning record.

"Well that's the point" was his reply. "I didn't get a choice in picking a team - you did it for me". That's the way it is with football - you don't get to pick your team and you can blame me for the rest of my life I told him. It used to be about geography and where you grew up - everyone just supported their local side albeit I haven't lived anywhere near the football club since I was a teenager. But nowadays the local playing fields are full of Man Utd, Liverpool and Man City fans who probably couldn't locate their teams on a map and have likely never been to a live game. I gave the kids options when they were younger - support my team and we'll go to games or support someone different and we won't. Luckily they chose the former although we do attend games lower down the leagues involving local sides.

But back to the original question - why in bejesus do you want to support the Jets? Well one of his friends at school does and he wants to show solidarity with his friend. He then declared he could side with another friend who is a Patriots fan - dear lord no and we're both quite happy for him to support the Jets!!

Luckily we don't have the same issue with my younger cost centre - he's only just started watching the sport but he'll happily watch a game, especially when an American level of snacks are provided. Mrs AC asked him who he was supporting for today's game and not wanting to disappoint either of us he replied quite diplomatically "I'll support both teams". But he's got a Machiavellian streak in him, especially when it comes to food or money so when Mrs AC offered to make him some popcorn whilst we watched the game he thanked her by declaring that although he's still supporting both teams he's supporting the Giants a little bit more!

Monday, September 14, 2020

A farewell to the queen

From the moment I saw her I was besotted. It was more than love, it was lust. She looked so good and I can remember every minute that I've ever spent with her. She's never complained that I've spent quite a lot of our time together working, drinking or sleeping but she's getting old and the competition is younger, lighter, quieter and far more economical. It's time to say goodbye - unfortunately I never got to plan one last ride as it's all happened so suddenly. But I'll always have my memories of the queen of the skies - the Boeing 747, which British Airways have just announced the retirement of.

Now I'm not one to look at the past with rose tinted glasses - one of my favourite activities when I spend time with my mother is asking her to name one thing from the past that is better than the present day (the nights are long and there's no pub in her village). She came up with diseases! Yes, polio sounds like a wonderful way to have spent a childhood. Modern diseases are rubbish by comparison. Who wants to benefit from modern medicine and vaccines when we could all be worrying about catching something preventable that will kill or maim vast swathes of the population? But it's not like there's anything going on at the moment that's relevant is there? Oh. Hang on.

But due to the current situation BA have worked out that there's going to be a drop off in demand for global flights, especially in the premium sector of which their 747s are pretty heavy caterers to.

Now I'm lucky enough to usually sit in the pointy end of an aircraft when I fly - it's a necessity rather than a luxury really as I often need to work on flights and I'm just getting too old or useless to be able to miss a night's sleep and be slightly productive after an overnight flight. And one of the most special places to sit on any plane is upstairs in the bubble behind the cockpit. It's solely business class but on a nighttime flight I actually prefer it to sitting downstairs in first class as the bed is just as easy to sleep on and there's a lot less noise and foot traffic.

There are other aircraft that do the same job for lower fuel and maintenance costs but none of them feel as special as the 747 - most flyers won't notice the difference but I certainly will. So next time my mother tells me that everything was better in the past I can add the first item to her list.

On a more positive note I have actually booked some travel - it's not until next year but there are some amazing fares at the moment but I have no idea if the travel restrictions will have been eased by then so I'm not getting my hopes up too much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A spanner in the works

Well that didn't go as planned! Literally the day after I'd organised the trip the U.K. placed France on the quarantine list meaning we'd have to self isolate for 14 days as soon as we got back home (Belgium was already on the list but according to the rules I think we'd have been ok if all we'd done was stop to pick beer up and not been close to anyone, as we'd planned to do). But a stop at a large supermarket and wine merchants in France would have seen us having to quarantine for 2 weeks at home - which given we were only planning to be away for 2 days seems out of the question.

So the plans got changed - Mrs AC still needed to leave and re-enter the country so we either changed our plans to travel to a country that was exempt from quarantine (which meant foregoing the beer that I'd already paid for) or we elongated our stay in order to justify doing a 2 week quarantine upon our return. Eager not to lose my beer, I mean to spend some time out of the house (we've not been away from home since we arrived back from Scotland in mid March) I chose the latter and arranged to spend a few more days in France and I've arranged a tour of the famous Champagne region of France for a few days, with obviously a few tastings along the way. Then we'll be driving down to Italy (which had been our original summer holiday plans all along) for 2 weeks for a quick tour of some bars with maybe the odd cultural site thrown in as well. This is using the 2 weeks in Italy as our U.K. quarantine as it's exempt so as long as we don't stop off in France on the way back then we can arrive back in the U.K. with no need to spend 2 weeks stuck at home. Not that we've been going out a lot anyway and all our plans to return to the US are on hold until I can enter the country again - I really can't see this happening any time soon though and Mrs AC will need to repeat the exit & re-entry palavar in another 6 months so maybe I should order more beer now!!

Now I haven't told Mrs AC yet of the extended plans as it will be a nice early birthday present for her - but given when I just asked her if she regularly reads my blog her response was "do I look that bored?" there's no way she'll find out before we leave on Friday. She also added her pet name for me so hopefully I'll be getting lucky tonight as well!