Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

March 2007

GeneralSunday, March 18th, 2007, (5:32 am)

So I had a meeting in London on Friday, and I was due to stay down in this neck of the woods (a long way from where I live) for mothers day on Sunday. But look who I met up with in London…

The wonderful world of the Xanga blogging community introduced me to Rachel and Tiffany whom I would never have known if it wasn’t for those funny connections one can make online. I’ve had some interesting discussions with Rachel in the past, but before Friday I had never met either of them.

The meeting was, of course, no accident. However, despite seeing a couple of pictures of Rachel (enough to make a comment in the past) I really wasn’t sure if I would recognize her in London. I was also interested in meeting this girl who calls herself a conservative and guards herself carefully online. Would we actually like one another when we met?

Prior to meeting them Rachel told me that they were going to Canterbury Cathedral and the white cliffs of Dover on Friday before meeting up with me in the afternoon. Such statements are not uncommon for Americans who are inexperienced at visiting this little island. I explained that this desire was somewhat ambitious, but she assured me it would be no problem.

Of course, in terms of miles Canterbury and Dover aren’t that far away from London if you think of the distance in American terms. But this isn’t America, and like many American tourists before her, Rachel soon realized that we’ve packed a lot of distance into our British miles. So Friday’s plans to go to Canterbury and Dover were set aside to stay in London.

We met at the Tower of London, one of the most historic icons of the city, and somewhere neither girls had seen or heard of before. Due mainly to time constraints we didn’t actually visit the Tower itself, but instead walked around it peering over the moat and high walls to the place where the Queen keeps her jewels.

It was actually really cool just to be walking around historic London with them. After the Tower of London we walked across Tower Bridge then along the banks of the river Thames chatting and laughing with one another. We passed the Globe Theatre which Tiffany was particularly interested in, looked up at the towering Tate Modern gallery, then crossed the Millennium Bridge over to St Paul’s Cathedral.

We then grabbed a drink in a nearby restaurant before I had to zoom off for another engagement in North London, but truly I didn’t want to go because we were having such fun. Both Rachel and Tiffany are charming fun people who really were a pleasure to meet in the real world.

GeneralFriday, March 16th, 2007, (2:28 am)

Well okay claiming to have been stabbed in London is a monster exaggeration, but I have been wounded by a knifeman in the kitchen of a home here in the posh London suburb of Amersham.

I’ve come down to London to see my accountant tomorrow. It’s a five hour drive from my house to here and when I am in this part of the country I always stop in with my friend ‘James the laser’ and his family.

James earned his laser nickname because he runs a company that make the best medical lasers in the world (so he tells me). The lasers are capable of all kinds of medical magic, including would healing. This is handy because while his son Josh cut some bread I decided to take the slice while Josh was still cutting it. The meeting of knife and finger resulted in the “stabbing” which is in actual fact just a slight cut but as a man, I am claiming my right to completely overplay any kind of physical injury or ailment (Italian footballers and so called ‘man flu’ are two fine examples of this).

I can’t blame Josh though. Truth is that I was, and still am, under the considerable influence of red wine. I had a few glasses with dinner. But due to the fact that I don’t really drink, the wine found its way to my head in less time than a tourist can get lost on the London underground.

However, my host and good friend James, sprang into action and quickly produced a medical laser, some mickey mouse kitchen roll and sticky tape to treat my buzz threatening injury.

The days of running your hand under a cold water tap then holding the finger in the air or blowing on it (blowing on it?) are long behind us now. James foresees a time when the first thing we’ll all reach for is our medical wound healing home laser kit.

It makes no noise, has no sensation, and feels very much like someone is having you on, but I’m assured by James that the red light, which no doubt has a clever medical name, was indeed kick starting the wound healing process in double quick time.

Then, to finish the emergency finger repair, James dressed my stabbed finger in a rather fetching mickey mouse bandage made out of kitchen roll and held together by sticky tape from his office. It was a collision of hi-tech and low-tech medical treatments, but and early peek under Mickey Mouse reveals that the outlook is good for my finger. And without the medical laser treatment who knows how much physio therapy and trauma counseling my finger would need. It could have been out of action for weeks!

GeneralTuesday, March 13th, 2007, (3:39 am)

In my time as a blogger I have come in or some fairly serious criticism for being, of all things to accuse me of, “anti-American.” The irony is that here in the UK, due to my somewhat unusual accent in these parts, people often think I might be an American living here in the motherland for a while, lost on this little island searching for the safety of cable TV, fast food and somewhere to buy a pickup truck so I can… pick things up… because surely that is what one does with a pickup truck? My friends also enjoy making fun of me for being “so American” or worse than that, a “wannabe American.” It seems that I can’t ein either way.

I am, of course, not at all anti-American. For heavens sake I own a cowboy hat, a TiVO, and I love Starbucks! Well okay, I don’t love Starbucks, but the bit about the cowboy hat and TiVO were true. Heck TiVO even records NASCAR for me when it doesn’t clash with the seemingly unending amounts of CSI it constantly records.

With all that in mind then, perhaps you Americans will forgive me for laughing until there were tears in my eyes, at an episode of a popular British motoring TV show called ‘Top Gear’ that I have just finished watching.

The episode was actually shown on British TV last month. It followed the three presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, as they took a low budget road trip from Florida to Louisiana in September 2006.

The road trip episode is available, probably illegally, on YouTube. However, before any American watches this it is only fair to warn them that the presenting trio are famous for being somewhat snobby and gloriously un-pc. The humor (spelled without a U in the interest of anglo-American relations) is therefore, shall we say, “edgy” in parts, even perhaps NSFA (not safe for Americans).

Presented on YouTube in 7 parts (below) you will quickly find out that the trio had to buy a car each in Miami with just $1000 budget for each vehicle. They then put the vehicles to a series of amusing tests before embarking on the road trip itself.

In Alabama they’re instructed to decorate one another’s vehicles in such a way as to invite trouble. With the cars decorated with slogans like “Hillary for President”, “Country and Western is Rubbish”, and “Man love rules OK” the trio do indeed find themselves in trouble very quickly. In fact, I have to say that I was surprised how badly the production team underestimated what kind of trouble that might cause in an Alabama hick town.

There is also an amusing task of eating only roadkill. This leads to an entertaining moment where the trio ponder how to “peel” a cow which Jeremy Clarkson has found dead on the roadside.

All in all the program was, in this humble Englishman’s opinion, fantastically funny. Several times I laughed out loud. The road-trip comes to an end in New Orleans where they were supposed to sell their cars. However they decided to give them away because of the devastation that was still everywhere a year after Katrina.

As they drove through New Orleans looking at the vast scale of utter destruction still very much evident Clarkson asked. “How can the rest of America sleep at night knowing that this is here.” It was a question that I had asked myself some 6 months earlier when I spent time in Katrina ravaged Mississippi.

I’m not sure if there is any network in the States that shows ‘Top Gear’. But I’m interested in finding out what Americans make of this episode of the program that pokes a little fun at the big country.

Would Americans be offended or could they see the funny side? They surprised us by loving Borat, so perhaps I’m doing our American friends a disservice in even suggesting that this show would leave them hot under the collar. Maybe the British accent and playful pompous snobbery could raise a laugh. I just don’t know. But thanks to the wonder of YouTube, you Americans can watch it for yourself and share your opinions here.

Top Gear : Road Trip USA

GeneralWednesday, March 7th, 2007, (3:47 am)

I’ve been catching up on my friends blogs this evening while sitting here revving my newly purchased power tool (my first power tool, I am am real man now). Between whirs I found my way to Reece’s blog where I see that I am criticized for calling a girl pretty. This makes me stop and ponder the implications for a moment. Are we really sure we want to live in a world where compliments, given directly or otherwise, are something to be avoided – I sincerely hope not!

The criticism was made, I’m sure in part humor, by Mike after I lambasted Reece for “swooning like a crooner with the charm turned up to ten” after a “pretty girl” made a comment. The “pretty girl” was Rachel and I certainly don’t think that by indirectly calling her a pretty girl I “belittled her intellect in a passive-aggressive way” as Mike suggested. I used the description to add some top spin to my comment to Reece which was meant (and for the record taken) in good humor.

But Mikes comment got me thinking about how cynical and jaded we as a society have become when a compliment like that is by default viewed in such a pessimistic manner.

Reece responded to Mike by asking the question; “Have we really fallen so far socially that sincere complements can’t be accompanied with ‘pretty’ and ‘sweetie’ when referring to the finer sex?” But Mike defended his comments by saying that he knew the mind of a young woman better than he wanted to because of his own daughter, who presumably doesn’t like to be given compliments.

I most certainly was not being “passive aggressive” when I said described Rachel as “pretty.” Although I don’t know Rachel personally and have never met her, from what I have seen of her from her blog, I don’t think it’s inaccurate to describe her as pretty. This description should in no way be seen as taking away from the fact that Rachel is also quite clearly an intelligent girl.

It’s with some trepidation then that I offer this link to Rachel’s Xanga blog to allow those who have never met her to go and see for themselves whether Rachel is pretty and comes across as intelligent. Her prettiness is a matter of opinion I suppose, but I challenge anyone to think she’s an old boot!

The problem with Mikes rather ‘PC’ approach to describing a person is that if we’re not to refer to looks for fear of an overly sensitive person seeing this as somehow “passive aggressive” then what on earth are we to do? True, if Rachel was a and fat buck toothed horror then calling her that might very well be seen as somewhat aggressive or at the very least unkind. But surely we have to concede that a persons looks are a significant factor in their identification.

At my gym when people refer to me in my absence I am told they often describe me as “Simon with the shells.” This refers to shells that I have on a hemp yarn tied around my neck. At other times, because of my somewhat unusual accent in this part of England, I’ve been described as “that American guy” or “that Australian guy.” I am neither American nor Australian, but I’m not offended in the slightest by the description.

Recently on various blogs I have seen new born babies referred to as “cute” and “adorable.” But with Mike’s objections in mind I am wondering if there are people out there who would consider this somehow unfair on the child. As that baby grows up, while they may still be cute and adorable are we no cease using these kind of words in connection with them for fear of how this might be viewed by others?

“She’s a cute kid” might have to be replaced with something along the lines of “She is a moderately intelligent child with well developed interpersonal skills”. Where does the painfully politically correct road stop, where do we draw the line?

Frankly I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t describe a person based upon their looks or say something complimentary in that context. Life would be a great deal harder if I had to describe people in a manner that always positively reflected their intellectual abilities.

I described Rachel as pretty because in my opinion Rachel could be fairly described as being pretty. There was nothing sinister, aggressive, or even flirtatious meant in that description and I not only offer no apology for using that terminology, and I refuse to discontinue using similar terms where I feel they are suitable.

There is already quite enough negativity and politically correct bullshit floating around for me to worry about the feelings of any person who has lost the ability to be able to take a subtle compliment where it is given. Rachel wasn’t offended, but had she have been, then frankly that would have been her problem, not mine.

Reece’s Xanga blog
Mike’s Xanga blog
Rachel’s Xanga blog

GeneralThursday, March 1st, 2007, (10:57 pm)

Everyone celebrates St Patrick’s day but did any of you celebrate St David’s day?

March the first is St David’s Day, the national day of Wales. However, unlike St Patrick’s day on March 17th (Irelands national day) there is little international celebration on St David’s day. This might be something to do with the fact that Wales in only a very small country, though in truth it probably has more to do with the fact that there is no adopted national drink of Wales that enjoys international consumption and a mammoth marketing budget to spend of hyping the event.

It is however a good opportunity to put the Welsh flag on my site. This flag is, in my opinion, the coolest flag in the world.

About St David’s day
Learn to speak Welsh
Translate Welsh

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