Good Friday; Good Drive

On Good Friday, we finally got a chance to take the MX-5 for a proper drive, having collected it on a rainy Sunday before heading off on holiday.

I had arranged a studio photoshoot with Zara Watson up at Milton Keynes and Ali was going to be joining in for part of the shoot.

A to Z

A to Z

This meant that we had to keep the roof up on our drive up to MK, sadly, so as not to potentially leave her hair in a mess. This did show that even at speed on a motorway with the roof up, the car was actually fairly quiet inside.

Our journey back home – via Thurrock Lakeside for shopping – was another story though: having worked out that you can’t lower the roof is the boot is not closed whilst loading my camera kit and Ali’s modelling gear, we dropped the top, turned on the super-efficient heated seats and hurtled off.

I can report that the MX-5 handles superbly on the MK race circuit – er, I mean roundabouts and roads – and that again at speed with the roof and windows down it’s still very acceptable in terms of noise and a lack of turbulence.

After shopping and dinner and despite it getting dark, we dropped the top to drive back up to London. As Ali had been forced to drink wine, she still didn’t get a chance to drive her car either. Result!

Onward and Upward

So I’ve covered the Sprint GT’s first service over on its own blog – I just need to start giving it the berries a bit more (although its trip computer must be over-reading…).

I also received a letter about my stepmother’s estate which was a piece of pleasant news and well timed, given I’m planning to buy a house or maybe even my apartment which may soon be up for sale.

Due to a change of plans, I had Saturday free so I decided to get the pushbike out to go for a little spin: maybe 5 or 6 miles on the advice of my Consultant Knee Surgeon and my physiotherapist at the excellent London Bridge Hospital. 11.4 miles later and I’d had a great time, keeping the cadence up and not putting too much effort through the knee. Same thing next week, I think.

GT popped over in the evening, meeting me for dinner at the O2 where we were then due to see Iron Maiden play. An excellent gig! Then over to Waterloo to say goodnight and back home to the apartment.

Up at a reasonable time on Sunday to head up to Norfolk for lunch with the ‘kids’ which was made more difficult by the completely inept road closure arrangements for the Prudential Ride London: every main road out of London to the East was closed despite the official sites claiming they’d be open earlier.

Monday saw more check-ups and blood tests – all fine – and a nice, long phone call as arranged the week before from Humberside Police to explain, as expected and agreed, that they wouldn’t be pressing charges against the psycho ex for her theft and disposal of some of my stuff (“intention to permanently deprive”), but only because it wouldn’t be in the public interest to waste taxpayers’ money on a prosecution: there was the passage of time caused by them, sadly, which they accepted was the case and they knew she would never admit guilt – she never does – and accept a caution, so the options were a full trial or nothing and the thefts were, as I told them, insignificant (I’ve long since replaced the stolen goods with better quality, newer things … a bit like I did with her, I suppose). They suggested I start a private prosecution, which is always an option, but I can’t be arsed to waste any more time on her.

But the good news is that they’ve now got the proof of what she’s really like: a liar and a thief. So that’s the end of that: maybe she’ll stop stalking me one day too?

So it’s onward and upward!

The Trouble with Traffic Planning…

…is that it’s an oxymoron, much like the old joke about “Military Intelligence”.

Transport for London, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to fix a problem that it thinks might exist (see the quote below) in the Rotherhithe Tunnel by adding more solid bollards to restrict the width of the approaches to the tunnel down to 6′ 6″, i.e. tighter than a gnat’s chuff.

What this means is that on the approaches to the tunnel, both northbound and southbound, traffic – understandably – slows to a snail’s pace at best to negotiate the width restrictions and this leads to long, long queues of traffic and not just at peak times.

The justification?

“The narrowing of the width restrictions on both northbound and southbound approaches to the tunnel will significantly reduce the risk of vehicle collisions, spillage of flammable materials, and fires in the tunnel.”

So a complete lack of a quantitative analysis or justification. Are they saying that narrower vehicles don’t crash or spill flammable materials or catch fire? Evidence?

No.

And what is to become of the vehicles that cannot enter the Rotherhithe Tunnel? Well they are required to use either Tower Bridge or the Blackwall Tunnel, both of which are well-known for traffic queues, so they’re just creating more travel problems or adding to the severity of existing ones.

Utter fuckwittery!

Still, I suppose they need to justify their fake jobs by coming up with these ludicrous schemes…

I’ve written to TfL to ask them about this issue, copied to my MP, so we’ll see what, if anything, they have to say.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be…

So after spending a great few days on Corralejo chilling out in my hotel and spending the evenings drinking and listening to live acoustic rock music with friends in the Rock Island Bar, it was back to normality with work for a couple of days before I headed up to Cleethorpes on the Sunday.

The view from my balcony
The view from my balcony
Coffee time
Coffee time

The plan had been to head up to Cleethorpes to drop off some old Court papers and some crap the ex-girlfriend had sent me with her parents but the ex found out about my plans – she reads my Tweets and this blog to stalk keep up to date with what I’m doing – and threatened to stop them from seeing the one remaining daughter she hasn’t thrown out if they saw me. Nice, eh? Mind you, as it turned out, that was just as well because an accident on the A17 delayed my getting there until later and I had plans to meet up with some old friends for a lovely meal out in town as their treat. Great to catch up with them and to have a load of laughs about Stuff.

Monday saw an impromptu diversion to Covent Garden on my way home for more Christmas Shopping for GT and my daughter (some killer heels for GT that were a leeetle more expensive than I thought but hey, she’s worth it) and then home.

The Tuesday night found GT and I going to KOKO Camden to watch Fear Factory‘s gig. Sadly this was disappointing. They mentioned they were 7 weeks into their tour and it had clearly taken its toll on the lead singer’s vocal chords as he was unable to sing in tune or make much noise for higher notes.

KOKO London
KOKO London
Fear Factory at KOKO Camden
Fear Factory at KOKO Camden

Wednesday and it was another gig: this time it was the Prodigy at the O2 Brixton Academy. We hadn’t realised when we booked the tickets that this was a late show, with the Prodigy not coming on until after midnight and finishing at 1.30am! On a school night! Oops! So GT and I had a meal and a mooch around and then went in to watch the support artists around 11.30pm and then waited for the Prodigy to come on and do a blinding set. They can still definitely do their thing.

We left shortly after and I got home around 3.00am which was just as well as a taxi was booked to collect me at 6.45am to take me to St. Pancras International for a trip over to Paris to see a Client. Back that evening, arriving around 8.45pm which was just as well as I needed to be nearby at our works Christmas do at a Comedy Club. Lots of laughs – why do I always get picked on by the headliners? Same as the Burlesque Shows – and they’d saved me my dinner which was nice.  We got thrown out around 1.30am and we grabbed some taxis to get us home.

Friday and it was time for dinner in Epsom with GT and some friends and to see Indian Elvis in action!

Indian Elvis
Indian Elvis

The food at the Cinnamon Spice is really excellent and we enjoyed a couple of bottles of wine with a great meal before heading home.

More shopping over the weekend and a lovely lunch out in Kingston at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. Recommended.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day saw drinks with friends at their pub and a lovely meal cooked by GT – part carnivorous for me and part vegetarian (and delicious) – with some of the contents of the Fortnum & Mason hamper I’d been given.

Boxing Day and I was off to Norfolk to see my kids and to watch Norwich City (mainly in the rain and doing OK against a strong Chelsea team).

Today was mainly spent driving: back from Norfolk via Diss to buy Amy a replacement Ka after hers got written off; then on to my Mum’s for lunch and presents; then to Egham to get Amy home and off to work.

Phew!

Bank Holiday Weekend

Well that was a busy one!

After a somewhat heavy session on Friday night at Abacus with colleagues – damn you Happy Hour! – Saturday found me packing for the weekend and heading over to GT for Saturday, including seeing “The Avengers”/”Avengers Assemble” (which I can recommend as a good, fun film) and a nice meal out afterwards.

Sunday morning and GT was running a half-marathon so I left at a reasonable time and headed off to Manchester with a stay at the comfortable Radisson Edwardian and an evening out at the Comedy Store‘s “King Gong” stand-up show with some very good (and some really awful) stand-up comics.

Monday was a day shopping at various stores in Manchester including a 20+ minute wait at Starbuck’s in the Arndale Centre for a coffee. I was somewhat disturbed though by this that I saw whilst walking through Top Shop:

I'm sorry? "Formal"? Jogger?

Then another night at the Radisson Edwardian that ended with me watching Homeland’s disappointing end (well, for the first series anyway): why do the US networks insist on keeping these series running on and on rather than actually developing a story with a start, a middle and an end? I won’t now bother with the second series.

Tuesday saw me mainly sitting in traffic jams on my way to Birmingham for a meeting and then back down to London. Somehow, despite excellent driving conditions, people had variously managed a series of crashes on the M6 and one on the A406 North Circular that closed it leading to really long tailbacks. How do people manage to crash in such excellent conditions?

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned

…but as always that fury bites both parties. Or so it would appear from today’s news that the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce will both be charged with perverting the course of justice over claims that she took speeding points on his behalf in 2003.

The whole thing blew up when, following an interview she gave, allegations were made that someone had agreed to take his points for him. This was after the pair had become estranged following his affair.

Maybe saying and doing things out of revenge isn’t such a good idea after all.

Serves them both right!

Let’s Race!

I drove up to Grimsby last night for the first time in the RX-8. Now although I was ‘making good progress’ as usual, it seems  that if you’re driving a sporty car, the knobheads seem to try to prove something.

A case in point was the rep in an Audi RS4 Estate on a 10 plate who immediately accelerated away when I’d overtaken him.

When I got closer on the A46 I came up behind a Skoda Octavia. Again he must have seen me rapidly approaching him as we drove towards a 40mph limit because as soon as we were through it and heading out, he accelerated hard and kept on until he was well into ban territory. I carried on as usual and, of course, caught up with him a few miles later as my driving wasn’t quite so erratic as his was.

What is it with other people’s perception of sports cars?