Jamie's Notes

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Jam Shed

My brother-in-law sent me this. For context, my nickname at home is ‘Jam’ – because Yorkshire folk don’t like to waste time – and I spend most of my week in a shed.

He said that it was very nice. Available from all good booze shops.

A fat man on a bike

On Sunday, two overweight men, both approaching forty years of age and neither of them in peak physical condition decided that it would be a grand lark to cycle along the old railway track from Hull to Hornsea – despite neither of them riding a bike in anger for many a year. One of those fat men was me. The other was my friend, Dave.

It’s that way, then.

I have no clue why I thought this would be a good idea. It just popped into my head, so I sent a text to Dave:

Me: ‘Dave, shall we cycle to Hornsea next weekend?’

Dave: ‘OK’

Damn. Can’t believe the bugger said yes.

The track is a tiny part of Sustrans Route 65 which, if you were fool enough to do the full thing, takes you from Hornsea to Middlesbrough – two of the least desirable places on the east coast.

Our part of the trail, fifteen miles from the finish, starts in central Hull. Since we are not interested in drug deals, street drinkers, rats and derelict factories, we put pedal to the metal and got the hell out of dodge. The good thing about old railway tracks is that they are mostly flat; ideal for people who have the physical endurance of a soggy handkerchief, like me. Once out of the city it was smooth, well maintained track & rolling countryside.

At the end, we are greeted by a large ominous eye on a stick, and to our disappointment no welcoming party.

We celebrated with fish & chips and ice-cream and remained pleased with ourselves until we remembered that we had to ride home.

Very, very frightening

Thunderclouds above our house

Brilliant sunshine gave way to belligerent clouds this evening, and with them dozens of lightning strikes and thunder that rattled the windows and agitated the neighbourhood dogs.

Even as an adult I find thunder unsettling. The lightning, not so much.

E slept peacefully through it all. My mother used to wake me when there was a good thunderstorm. She would first unplug all of the electrical appliances, in case there was an electrical surge, and we’d watch it out of my bedroom window with all the house lights off. I used to laugh when I thought about this later, until I lost an ADSL router during a storm and was without internet for a week.

George is leaking

George had his operation on Monday. We waited all day for news, and at 4pm received a call to say that it had been a success and that we could come and collect him.

The vet explained that because the removed mass was so large, the remaining space would fill with fluid unless it is allowed to drain. He now has a little tube sticking out from his abdomen for the liquid to escape. ‘He will drip’ she warned, before handing over some large waterproof pads to protect the car.

So, he’s back home and leaking. He was disorientated at first, probably the after-effects of the anaesthesia, but is back to his old self now. The ongoing challenge is making sure that he doesn’t lick or scratch the wound. Easier said than done. We coaxed him, at the vets recommendation, into an Elizabethan Collar – aka ‘the cone of shame’. That didn’t go too well. He looked unbelievably sad, tripped while going down the steps to the garden and then got himself trapped beneath the swing. He is content to wear my old vests instead.

Not happy

His fear of the vet is now firmly and irrevocably entrenched. He refused to enter the building when we took him back for a check-up yesterday, and had to be carried in.

Not a dirty word anymore

I was in my home town today – for work, rather than anything interesting. I took the opportunity to drive to the top of Olivers Mount and looked down upon the town of my birth. From up here, I can see the first twenty-five years of my life spread out before me. Down there is the house that I grew up in, the place that I first kissed a girl, my schools, the old railway yard that my friends and I explored and the beaches that we roamed.

The view from the mount

I moved away from Scarborough in 2005. I was twenty-four years old and felt ready to leave it in the dust. For a long time before, and after, I hung all the baggage of my childhood and adolescence on this place: my parents’ divorce, the loss of my mum and grandparents, relationship breakdowns, broken friendships – all of it. I hung it neatly and then left it behind. So long suckers. Adios. I actively avoided the place In the intervening years. Scarborough became a dirty word.

Lately, I’ve begun to feel different about it. The good memories are the ones I think of first, and the bad ones no longer weigh me down. When I come back to Scarborough now, it just feels like home.

Where on earth do you think you are going?

Back in January, when George was having his annual health check, the vet suggested that we have a lump removed from his front armpit. The vet thought it to be a lump of fatty tissue – a lipoma, to give it the correct term. They’re common in older dogs, and not harmful, but can cause discomfort if they get too big.

The lump has continued to grow and now affects his movement – so this morning, after dropping E at school, I walked him to the vet for his operation.

George does not like going to the vet. I’ve never been able to precisely put my finger on why. He’s never had any other operations, and quite happily sits for his annual injections. He was neutered by the same vet when he was a puppy – the only other intrusive procedure he’s ever had. That operation went without a hitch, and I don’t think that George ever understood what had happened – but the resident cat took a disliking to him in the waiting room and gave him a quick swipe across the snout. George was highly offended by this unprovoked attack. Could that be why? He has been known to hold a grudge.

I could sense his resentment this morning as we waited outside, and as I left he looked at me with eyes that said ‘where on earth do you think you are going?’

They’ll do some blood work first, to check that there are no underlying issues that would make anaesthesia dangerous – then put him under, whip it out, stitch him up and have him ready by tea-time. Hopefully.

Vague feelings of manliness

I’m not a ‘manly’ man. I don’t watch football, drink beer or play snooker. My beard is rubbish. I do not own a leather jacket. I’m not sure whether these things are the measure of being a man, but they are manly things. Anyway, this is all an excuse to list the manly things that I have done over the past few days.

I have:

  • bought new blades for my jigsaw
  • driven a van
  • re-felted the roof of my shed
  • bought a couple of panes of double-glazed glass from a glass factory
  • purchased timber – with the intention of making something with it

Love what you do

I enjoyed this post by Kev Quirk, on the importance of doing work that you love.

If you’re working in a job you’re not happy with, move on. Even if you have to take a step back in your career, it’s so worth it in the long run.

Kev Quirk

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the past few years. I certainly don’t love my job. I can’t remember the last time I woke up raring to go in – it’s just what I’ve done for twenty-odd years. It pays the bills, it’s secure, and I’m good at it (or at least not bad at it).

Is that enough?