Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One day later, the feelings start to numb.

Its been a whole 24 hours now since getting the news of the passing of Darren, and in that time some amazing things have been said, tributes paid, and even a gathering in his memory. A group has been started on Facebook, and it has already exploded in numbers, as you would expect with someone as dynamic as Darren.

If even proof was needed that he impacted a LOT of peoples lives, these comments and tributes have certainly provided it.

Since hearing the news I have been on a journey with myself, as I am sure many more people have, and on the way I have reminded myself of a few things. Each time someone passes, for every person I/we lose along the way, the first thing that springs back into the front of my mind is, how precious life is. Day to day we just plod around, heads down and we just take things for granted. But when something tragic like this happens suddenly we are reminded that our existence is a gift, and not a right. One that can be taken away at any time, and in any way.

Thats not to say that losing someone is not a terrible things, of course it is. But rather than hiding away, and letting it beat us down, we should dig deep to find the strength to be strong. To celebrate the life of the person who has left us, and live the way we know they would have wanted us to carry on. No person ever wishes to leave behind loved ones, and a sudden departure is far from ideal. But at the same time, the same person would never want our lives to be filled with sorrow and grief for any period of time.

Its right to mourn, and to grieve, we all need to deal with our loss in a way that suits us best. For me, talking about the person, reliving memories, and remembering why that person impacted my life the way they did is the best way. Not the departure, not the event itself, just everything before it. Picturing smiles, remembering antics, and other such things.

For me in general the period of loss is a very short one. I realise for some people, Tony, Angela and other close family members will take much longer to accept Darren is not there. No silly text exchanges, no blowing off steam to them, no invites to parties and social gathering etc. It all takes a long time to actually stop that train of thought. I know with mum for months after I still kept thinking 'mum would like this' or 'I must tell mum about this. Its human nature, but its a bitch too. Tripping you up on a good day, catching you out just when you think you are coping.

So this is a message to anyone who is sharing this loss. Be you closer or more detached from Darren than I was. Such a happy loving guy would never want to cause other people pain, certainly not to those who he loved and cared for. While we are all feeling lost, and a little helpless without Darren around, we also need to carry on with our lives. OK this is harsh and a little premature for those closer to Darren, but the sentiment remains. Live each day to the fullest, carry the memories of Darren with you forever.

I offer my condolences once again, and hold out my hand to anyone I can help in any way with their grieving process. My thoughts are with everyone else sharing this loss.

Once again, Rest In  Peace Darren Green

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Everybody dies....

Well I guess its true, sooner or later our time is up, and we leave behind everything we have grown to know and love. Leave them to cope without us, and for them to find a way to accept and deal with the fact that we have gone.
Recent months and years have seen me lose quite a few people, some extremely close to me, others have been more casual acquaintances, but ones that I still care about. The one thing that has always confused me is how in one breath I can lose someone dear to me, and be 'ok' with it, and then someone else will go, and suddenly its much harder to deal with.
Today, on hearing the news that Darren had passed I was left stunned, shocked, and pretty upset at the news. Even though I have not seen him for a couple of years, it got to me deep inside. Then finally the penny dropped.
I was having a conversation on BBM when I had an epiphany. I have always accepted that death is a certain part of the cycle of life. And as much as it pains me to let people go, its makes sense that we have to eventually. But during the conversation today I said something that is the key to it all. Its HOW I lose someone, not so much who has been lost and how close they were to me.
Knowing mum was ill, knowing Graeme was ill, it all was pre thought out, their time was short, and sooner or later their light would go out. There was time for goodbyes, time to finish off business with them. Most importantly there was time to accept that it would soon be over, and as my counsellor once suggested, we almost grieve in advance. Grieve is a complex word really, the same meaning to all, but a totally different process for many of us. My way of grieving is to remember, reflect, and let go. As little sadness as possible, remembering positives, and continuing the way I know that person would want their memory to be carried. With pride and courage.
For others, their passings have been so sudden, violent in a couple of senses, and so unexpected, that it knocks you for six, and leaves you bewildered. So much unsaid, so many dreams unfulfilled, and so many people left with an open page, yet nothing left to complete it with. When John passed we had spoken recently, and I felt that we had lived through so much, and said so much in that last conversation, that we left no unfinished business. That was easy for me to say, but many others I know did not have that blessing.
In Darrens case, time has gifted me with distance, and separation from certain things. Namely the day to day life events that were current to Darren and his family/loved ones. That's not to say that I do not feel a great sense of loss. For years now, our occasional encounters would always bring laughter and joy to me. An evening with Darren and Tony was always on a knifes edge, and full of uncertainty. But that's who Darren was. A joker, a playful guy, but someone who was passionate about others. He had his flaws, hell we all do, but for the most part you could forget that, and just have a laugh.
Now reflecting on others who have passed in recent times, it all makes sense, a pattern appears and I can start to see what my course is for dealing with these losses. I actually lose track at times of how many people in what time frame I have lost. But one thing I never forget is, I am not the only one feeling empty, lost and sad. These people who leave us leave behind a whole group of family, friends, and casual contacts. And as each one who passes seems so damn special, they leave many many people with the sense of loss.
Its a strange thought I know, and I am not competing for a second. I'm sure we have all done it, but I find myself wondering if I am blessed enough to have the same impact on my friends. I wish and hope that we will never find the answer to that question, but its one of the strange things, amongst many, that goes through my head.
Speaking of me and strange, this is another thing that I find eats away at me. Knowing information, the anatomy of the event, how, why, what and where. I feel I need to know every detail before I can let something go properly. Illness is simple to accept, and with mum I was there at the moment she passed. No questions, and I think my exposure to the whole journey to the very end helped me cope. Cope in a way some still find quite strange. No true grief, just a little confusion.
But with accidents, Kevin, John Weston, John Littlebury, Adam King and so on, including Darren, its different. I always pray there was no suffering, that it was quick. With a positive thought still in mind at the moment the light went out. No panic or fear, no pain or distress. Not knowing this drives me crazy, but its obviously strange and unethical to even try and know for sure.
When Adam died, the first person I knew who was suddenly gone, it was as a pedestrian vs car. Sadly for me my best friend at the time was the son of the coroner, and was telling me a story of the boy his father had dealt with that day. The way the boy was struck by a car, and left unable to move due to injured legs. Able to push himself up on his hands he was able to raise himself and look up, just in time for the second car to strike him in the face and head.....
So as you can see, left with memories like that, I find it hard to put something down without knowing that they didn't suffer. Its true that we really are programmed by previous experiences in our lives. Sorry if the above causes distress. But that's what I live with day to day.
As I veer back on track, it all starts to make more sense to me now.
I have spent the whole afternoon trying to make sense of things, and come to terms with the fact that yet another person from my past has left us. To try not to get too emotional about it, and to instead think of those who have today lost someone far closer to them than I have. For those people I bow my head, and I hope deeply for you to be able to cope with this in the best possible way you can find.
Darren was about strength, and always carried a big smile on his face, and imprinted that on others wherever he went. Today I for one, and I hope others can do the same, want to remember Darren for the man he was, and make him proud by carrying my head high. Looking to the skies with the same smile he imprinted on me, and adding his memory to the others I carry with me daily. I take pride that I knew you Darren, and thank you for the friendship you shared with me and so many others. I no longer feel empty, as the physical hole you leave behind has now been filled with so many great memories.
Thank you Darren for the memories you gave us all, the kindness you offered, and the memories you leave us with. I will miss you for an eternity, but never will I forget you.
R.I.P Darren Green, who's light was extinguished on 28th Feb 2012.
Love you brother.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Quite frankly.... Bollox to it!

That's honestly how I feel about today if I'm honest about it all. I could reel off reasons til I'm blue in the face, but ultimately today has quite simply been a depressing fuckin waste of time and energy.

Now call me negative, or question my reasons for saying this you may, but change my mind you may not. I'm not saying everything has been bad, but its a day I would rather not repeat any time soon.

Starting the day with plumber appointments I knew the morning would be slow and a little disruptive to my usual routine. So I planned ahead for this, and took the day off work to accommodate the plumbers that were coming, and allowing for myself to catch up with my routine also. All morning appointments, and no really major jobs, I was sure the day from mid afternoon would be mine. But no.

Day seemed to turn to night before the last plumber left, and when I looked at the clock my heart sank, and my motivation weakened. Gone 3pm! Now the schools would be kicking out, so walking the dogs was going to be a chore. But without walking them I would not be happy doing my P90X. So off I went.

By the time the dogs were walked, exercises done, dogs fed, and me bathed it is now almost half past 7 in the evening. And all I have to show for the whole day is a new tap in the kitchen, a bath panel, and clear drains. Not forgetting my morning routine completed. So what would usually be done by 11am has taken an extra 8 and a half hours to achieve. Like I say, what a frickin waste!

Another thing that has affected me somewhat today is isolation. Now I'm not blaming people for having things to do in their lives, nor for them maybe even not wanting to talk to me for today, we are all individuals. However the isolation from not being at work today, no one at home with me, no social interaction, and hall VERY little I'm interaction has driven me insane. There, I said it, I long for attention at times.

It would have been mums birthday yesterday, and me battling with finances to make the trip to Wales next week to see my Aunt, I guess I woke in a bit of a bad mood today anyway. So maybe with hindsight I should have told the plumbers to do one, and just gone to work instead.

I am battling my demons day and night right now, and am reaching levels of stress I don't like very much. I know there is a way out of some of the problems I am having right now, but its just finding the drive to deal with them head on.
The biggest thing for me right now, hand on heart is my Aunt. I am so desperate to get to see her for her birthday, she will be 85 on Monday, and I haven't seen her for what seems an eternity now. I would just love to drive up there to give her a birthday hug, see how she is doing. And of course speak to her carer about how the tests at the hospital have been going. My Aunt has been battling cancer for a number of years now, as well as other health issues, so now mum has passed I can spend more time checking up and keeping and eye on Joan (Aunt). Recent weeks or months make me feel like I have neglected her a little.

My battle now is to get the money to tax the car and get up there. I have already booked the day off work so I am free to do it.

Phew I'm feeling a little better already just from getting all this out there, I do love a good grumble blog from time to time.

Right, I'm aching like crazy physically from working out, aching mentally from working stuff out about Wales, and am still pretty pissed off in general, so I'm gonna leave it there. So if you are reading this and think I'm a little quiet tonight.... There you go.

Not a good day to be on my own. Thank heavens for P90X.

Now do one!
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Man in Forest Hill, SE23 shot by CO19 officers

Well before I get started here is the link to the actual story.

The first thing that struck me were some of the pity filled responses and comments on the actual news story. Trying to make out that the Met Police have in some way done something wrong. What was reassuring though was the fact that there were many who also thought he deserved everything he got.

Lets look at the 'facts' we are presented with. A young man goes out onto the streets in the early morning with the intention of committing crime. He arms himself with a number of weapons in the form of bladed weapons. When he is caught in the act of breaking into a car he is challenged and the police are informed.

The police then attend the area, find the person involved and attempt to detain him. On doing so they are threatened with a large bladed weapon, so they call for CO19 (armed police) A period of time will have no doubt passed from the call going to CO19, to them arriving on the scene. At any point in this time the man could have stopped being threatening, and given himself up..... He chose not to.

On their arrival they will have run through some basic talk downs to diffuse the situation, he could have given up then.... He didn't! Then the taser was deployed. By this point its clear things are getting serious, and there are not many other options left. Regardless of if the taser was effective or not, this should have triggered a thought process in the persons head that soon they may get shot. For some reason it didn't!

At the end of the stand-off shots were eventually fired, and the man wounded and taken into custody. All  I have heard all day is why didn't the police take limb shots, why didn't they do other things. Do none of the people saying this realise how dangerous the situation could have become? Some weird belief that the police went out with the intention to shoot this idiot.

I have personally seen a man carrying two axes down a busy road, called the police and waited on scene. 2 officers with no PPE on dealt with the situation, and took the dangerous guy down. So its obvious that they use their options, and don't take shooting people lightly.

So if you are one of the idiots saying the police were wrong, the police were heavy handed, the police could have just taken the guy down..... HUSH!  put yourself in their position and see what options you would choose.

And so it begins... the P90X lifestyle.

On Saturday I went to Southend with my good friend Noel, it was only a flying visit, but on the way conversation got going. Telling him my new motto of #Fit4Forty, and how I planned on sticking to my routine. Weight loss is still going well, and the next thing to do is increase my fitness levels. On liking the idea, but having a little less time than me before hitting 40, Noel mentioned two routines he has been looking into recently, Insanity and P90X. Going into a little detail on both I was immediately interested in following one, as it sounded perfect for my current goals.

So over the weekend I did some more research, and decided that out of the two, P90X was the one for me. Insanity being more the cardio trainer, I want to deal with and attack aggressively the whole physical conditioning thing. In general my cardio is still pretty good. I'm active every day with the walks to and from work, as well as the walks with the dogs twice a day, so I'm happy with that. So P90X was chosen and obtained.

To follow P90X a couple of things are required, in the form of equipment. Free-weights and door bars, or resistance straps. I have a long history with training, and over the years I have dipped and peaked in levels of fitness and strength. However throughout those years one thing has remained, and been an issue for me. I can train heavy, and I mean heavy. For someone of my build and not using any juice etc, I have made some cracking achievements in the free-weight circles. However this has all come at quite a cost, and I have had 3 arm/hand surgeries to date, all to repair damage to tendons etc. All specialists agree that heavy training in earlier years are the most likely cause.

So resistance straps are the chosen weapon of choice for me. Being able to vary the resistance used is invaluable to a broken body like me. So they are on order now. Til then I am making do with what I have at home, and trust me, its working.

I am under no illusions that I am in any way some Adonis who can bench my own body weight, nor plan to be a lean mean fighting machine. I am instead realistic, and want some strength to return to my lazy body, and trim down a little, to return to a fair level of size and definition. So today is the day. Today is the day it all started. From today onwards I will probably make a few very short entries on here, saying how the day has gone and how I am feeling, so for anyone wanting to follow and mock, these will be for you lol.

In the meantime Twitter will be my update source, so if you want some updates on my P90X routine, and how I am coping / progressing feel free to follow @therealslimsnaz or search for my hashtag #fit4forty 

So the update for today..... 
OMG! I started my day the usual way with walking the dogs for an hour or so, covering 4.5 miles which is the norm for us. Then got home and got straight into P90X while my body was still warm, and heart still pumping. Following back and chest for my first outing with the routine. The warm-up got a lovely burn started, and the following routine really attacked the areas of my body it promised to. I'm not going to pretend that I flew through it all, and didn't struggle. I managed the first cycle of the routine (routine repeats for 2 cycles). At that point I decided to stay true to myself and not push too hard. As my body started to rest, the nausea arrived lol, that signal from the body that it really has had enough for the time being.

For tomorrow I need to get my nutrition sorted out, and make sure i am giving my body what it needs to repair and build. But the after work out feeling is as ever amazing. I forgot how great you could feel after pushing yourself.

In the coming weeks I plan to be out on my Hardrock Pro (MTB) more, and to start challenging myself in more and more ways. Its great to feel so alive!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fit 4 Forty

That's my new tag-line, motto and goal.
Let me start by saying in really not that bothered by age, its just a number and nothing more. A lot of stigma it attached to that said number, so such milestones beg attention. For me, 40 does.
Not because I believe it marks the beginning of the end, or even the beginning of the beginning lol, but because its considered by many a milestone that you should acknowledge by going a little wild, so indeed slowing things down a bit. For me, its the going wild that appeals to me.
I really really want to have done a parachute jumps, if not obtained my AFF license by my next birthday. Florida this summer would be the perfect time, but its a matter of getting the money to do it, but I'm sure gonna try anyway. Also I have already set the bar for my birthday.. I WILL be on a Canadian piste on my 40th birthday, hopefully with friends.
But more recently the Fit 4 Forty has come to the front of my mind, and I have decided that the one thing I want more than anything by the time I am 40 is my fitness. Now I know my cardio can be good, and I know my stamina levels are pretty high. I have a good frame to work with, and a history of being in good shape, albeit some time ago... So I am setting myself the goal of being in the best shape I can manage for my 40th.
The hardest part of this goal is to achieve muscle tone and get rid of the loose stuff from the corners of my body, WITHOUT causing myself anymore injuries. With my recent history with tendons etc, I can't afford to over do it, so any weight training will have to be considerate of my frail condition lol. The best option to me is to get something for home. Long has been the plan to have a treadmill and multigym at home, and in reality that still is the goal.
The other thing I really need is to tax my car. With the weather warming up I really could do with getting out at weekends on the mountain bike again and shredding up some easy trails for the time being. My body is craving the activity right now. After walking 14 odd miles the other day I know my body is ready for the next challenge, all I have to do is find and face that challenge.
I think this is something that has really taken a hold of me recently, the drive for Fit4Forty is pretty darn high right now, and I'm ready for the challenge.... BRING IT ON!
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Cheap isn't always better!

When L&Q (my property owner) were looking for companies to do the home improvements, they chose Apollo. As fast as they were at completing the work, the quality left a lot to be desired, and now that I have called a proper plumber out, the quality of their work is finally on show.

Further to my earlier entry, the bath panel is now off, and behind it is a nice pool of water running the entire length of the bath, soaked walls, saturated bath panels (now split and rotting) and as suspected, the damp low on the wall is caused by the leak also.

All in all the whole job was rubbish, and the rectification work will probably end up costing more than the initial install labour.

Needless to say the room smells somewhat of damp, and needs a good drying out too. So now to get onto L&Q and discuss with them how they are going to go about sorting this screw up out. More time off work will be needed, more disruption in the house, and more workmen traipsing in and out of the house. All because a single pipe was not done properly in the first place.

So once this plumber has stopped the leak, I can either start to sort some of it out myself, or wait for more appointments to be made, and see how I can work with them to get it all sorted out asap.

A little pissed off right now!

Oh damp!

Well just over a year after the bathroom was fitted by Apollo, some issues seem to have come to a head.
Now some of the issues are because of a pipe problem on the outside of the house. It overflowed and leaked soaking the brickwork, which has seeped through and eventually caused the internal wall to get damp, and for the paint to blister and now flake.
Based on the location of the damp on the walls, I am guessing that the toilet and hand basin at the very least will need to be removed to re-plaster and paint.
Not to mention that the external part of the wall will have to be removed and replaced with dry non crumbling brickwork. This was meant to be done at the same time as the pipe was replaced, but that didn't end up happening. Given that it was -5 outside and raining I kind of understood why.
However, it still needs sorting, so this afternoon I have a surveyor coming to see what he thinks needs doing, and what his plans will be to address it. Naturally as the timescale drags on, the damp just gets worse as does the damage. So fingers crossed there will be a plan coming from todays visit.
To add to all of this, there is also a problem with some pipes or at least condensation behind a paneled off part. The pipes come from one wall, are concealed by what I assume are MDF panels, then run under the bath to the taps. At the bottom of these panels, as it skirts along the floor, damp has started to appear also. I'm guessing this is either from a small leak in the pipe, causing the wood to get wet. Or a build up of condensation behind there because of there being no ventilation, and hot+cold water pipes in close proximity to each other. Either way as you can see from the picture, it looks hideous, and is clearly not right.
And finally, each morning I awake to a small puddle running from the tap end of the bath, under the hand basin, along to the toilet. This I believe is coming from behind the bath also, so heaven only knows what's going on under there, but whatever it is, its almost completely ruined the bathroom now, which is heartbreaking. Almost a complete re-do is required now.
With regards to the little puddle, and maybe the damp behind the panel... Have you even not quite turned a tap off properly, and heard that hissing sound, almost a small pressure release, and it allows the tap to just about drip... Well if you are really quiet in my bathroom that's what you can hear... Constantly! No taps are on, so I can only assume there is a failed joint in a pipe or a split which is causing all the damage.
Fingers crossed the plumber who visits will take a proper look and get what the hell I am talking about!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One in a billion...

Or maybe the variables are even higher, I don't know.
But as I sit on my train home, looking around the carriage, observing everyone in their own bubbles. Blackberry's, iPads, iPhones, Kindles and even good old fashioned books and papers, one thing is clear. We are all individuals.

Dress, voice, beliefs and interests. The only thing with one another at this point is the desire to travel from one place to another. Yet crammed together, with our own chosen distractions we are happy to co-exist together for this short period of time. Ignorance is bliss, and what better distraction from your surroundings than a mobile device. (Hence I'm writing this now)

The thought of eye contact or verbal communication in here is almost frowned upon for sure.

So for a short while we all block everything around us out, and focus on the insides of our own bubbles. But what lays ahead for everyone. As I look around the train I like to play a game and try and work out more about people. How they will walk and behave, what awaits them at home etc. A bit weird I know, but people watching is my thing. Because I share this journey with many of the same people daily and weekly, as the weather changes its interesting to see how their dress changes too. That also tells you a bit about them too.

I know this is all a bit weird, but then that's just me all over.

The one thing I have noticed above all is how no two people on the train are alike, mannerisms, appearance etc, we are all so individual its amazing. OK there are similarities, Apple devices are popular, Superdry clothing is also a common sight, as are some other mainstream items, but that's where it ends. Behaviour on trains is uniform at a glance, no one making eye contact, everyone managing their space etc, but look beyond that, at the focus in peoples eyes. The concentration on thought, a book or their music, foot tapping, finger tapping, eyes flitting around the carriage, everyone is doing their own thing.

Its days like today, when I'm detached enough from my own thoughts to notice these things, that I love who I am, and wonder what others are thinking when they look at me. Hmmm actually maybe I don't want to know that lol.

So, like me, you are one in a billion or beyond, unlikely ever to meet your duplicate, and I don't mean in looks either.

Another weird blog entry, that's me signing off.
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Monday, February 13, 2012

At least something is going right..

It always feels good when something goes to plan, and in this case it feels good physically and mentally.
In Dec I decided I would diet, and for a couple of weeks I followed a sensible routine. But as xmas moved in, the willpower and interest moved out. Needless to say a binge ensued, and I think I probably ended up worse off that I started.
Anyway, a few weeks back I got my game face back on, and have gone for it. Now call me smart or stupid but I didn't have a starting point weigh in. But as the clothes start to loosen, and the physical condition improves I decided on a weigh in, and today was the day.
Again, maybe a bad idea it being a monday as I ate a little more than normal over the weekend, however I have done the weigh in now, and we are currently at 232.2lbs. Which for me is a little more that I hoped for, I was hoping for 22*.* That 2 instead of a 3 is a great motivator. But its really not far away now, and I guess it gives me another kick up the pants.

So the week ahead, I will hit that elusive 229.9 and below mark. And then after that, I can chase some lower numbers. However once into the high 220's I am going to change the diet up a bit.

At the moment my intake is dry cereal in the morning, lots of fluids during the day, dry cereal in the evening after work. And then a couple of SlimFast snacks a bit later on. Saturdays is binge day where up until last week I would have Nando's. But this weekend I went for a chicken kebab. Instantly feeling like crap after eating it, it sat badly with me all weekend. So I will be glad when that's all out of me.

Next week if I weigh-in again I think I will leave it til Tuesday :)

Right, enough drivvle from me. Have a good day.

PS updates on my diet on Twitter @therealslimsnaz
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012


That's really all I can say on the matter. What a genuine heartfelt moral booster. What a great way to start the day.

I'm pumped :)