Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Car test

I passed my car test in 2001, and, realising a day later that it was a lot more convenient than the bike, left the poor ZX-6R to fester in the garage, unloved, unused and badly maintained.

Hence, every time I come to use it, I have a real struggle to get the thing going. Conjure up images of me and my mate pushing it down the hill to try and get a bump start. Conjure up subsequent images of me pushing it back up the hill after the failure of said bump start.

Luckily, I'd looked at it a few weeks ago and realised that the battery needed charging, so when the car disaster arose last week, I was pretty sure that the bike would be available to standby.

But its three years since I last rode it to any extent, and there's an awful lot I'd forgotten :

- I'd forgotten how to turn corners - that I shouldn't touch the brakes at corners - how to go over roundabouts - that I should watch out for spilled diesel at roundabouts - that you have to lean into the cross winds - that this gets fucked up when you overtake lorries - that your visor gets covered with dead insects - that's its all too easy to open the throttle and be doing a ton, yes, the speedo does go up to 170 for a reason - that you should always wear a scarf.

Mostly, I'd forgotten just how cold it is when you're doing 85 miles on the bike first thing in the morning.

Related news : The car is still in the bodyshop.

Also : I'm quite enjoying biking again.

Me and my sis

I was playing this one close to my chest, but, for a couple of weeks before I went away, sis was really poorly. It kicked in a couple of weeks after giving birth, but she wasn't retaining any food, and her blood INR levels were all over the place and the hospital didn't know what to do with her.

I should backtrack a little. She has a protein deficiency that means her blood may be particularly clone to clotting, and that she has to take warfarin on a daily basis, and her blood thickness has to be constantly checked, usually every fortnight or so. The warfarin/baby thing is apparently not a match made in heaven, so for the duration of the pregnancy they moved her onto a different drug that she had to inject twice daily. But they monitored her closely, and everything went according to plan.

A few weeks after the birth and her levels are mad screwy, she's having to go in every day and spend the day on a hospital ward, she's not retaining magnesium or iron and the specialist who looked at her was making grave warnings about 'cardiac irrythmia'. Strange man.

Eventually, they discharged her, but with a referral to the gastronomy dept to see if they could find anything out, and after her blood specialist trod on a few toes, she was taken in for a gastroscopy / biopsy within a week.

And they're 95% sure (still awaiting the biopsy results) that she's coeliac. Which, means that she has carefully watch what she eats and stick to a gluten-free diet from now on. When you look at the list of foodstuffs that she can't now eat, it looks a bit harsh, but I know that all sorts of things were bashing around inside her head, and this came as a relief.

We bought her a couple of cookbooks the day after she was diagnosed and it looks like there are alternatives to nearly everything although whether a cake made with barmy flour instead of real flour will taste the same, I couldn't tell you.

But I can tell you that she's going to be alright, and that's the important thing.

(And be warned - that coeliac website is a bit annoying, turn the volume down on your speakers)

In Denmark

Not so briskly back to Copenhagen.

We popped back to the hotel around Saturday lunchtime, and after a bit of prompting, I'm reminded that this was to change rooms. Yes, our room was fantastic but it was only on the second floor and it turned out that the thumping bass from the Friday evening club a couple of floors below was not conducive to restful sleep patterns. Didn't bother me because the flight had turned me deaf in my right ear, so all I had to do was turn onto my left side and I couldn't hear a thing, but gal wasn't best pleased.

Anyway, so we'd complained that morning, and although the concierge said that the club was 'part of the culture of the hotel' he advised us to come back at noon and he'd have a new room for us. When we got back, with a few more bags of shopping, his spiky hairdo was a little limper than it had been first thing but true to his word, he'd found us a room on the fifth floor.

First impressions - it was smaller, particularly the bathroom. And it was yellow instead of red. But, first impressions can be misleading. As we were now on the outside of the building it had a window that opened onto the city - meaning we had great views of the city below and we didn't have to leave the aircon going all day and all night. On balance, I'd have to say that the spiky haired chap saw us right and if I could remember his name, I'd acknowledge it here.

Our thoughts quickly turned to food, and we fancied the sound of a nice rooftop cafe on top of the Postal Museum. Gal frowned at my suggestion that we look at the Museum, so we caught the lift straight up to the rooftop cafe where I had a very Danish Burger and chips whilst she had a very confusing meal involving Bresola. We stopped long enough to take some more piccies of the Danish rooftops before popping over the road to the Museum of Erotica.

When we paid our entrance fee, they asked us for our starsigns and gave us little brochures with our sexual horoscope in them. I'm as sceptical as sceptics come, but my brochure said that I'm a 'wonderful, affectionate and considerate lover' before summing up with 'He is a wonderful man' so I decided that horoscopes are really rather good after all. Apparently, gal is 'a special kind of woman to whom quality is everything' and ' a unique mistress so enjoy her if she lets you into her rare and fine universe'.

I thought it a very strange museum. There were lots of rude pics and models dating back to the year dot, but the labelling and cataloguing seemed a bit scattershot, and of course, when you're looking at very old pictures of people in improbable positions, the most important thing to know is where that picture came from. They had a couple of improbably life sized tableau acting out scenes from great erotic literature, particularly memorable being a rather graphic Fanny Hill. Towards the end of the tour was the Shock Room with some very strange porn on display, and just after this was a video wall, with twelve monitors showing various porn videos (all available from the museum shop). Paris Hilton's video appeared to benefit immensely from the pop music soundtrack provided by the adjacent TV running MTV.

Back to the hotel for a bit more lazing around before another guidebook inspired restaurant, the amusingly named Pasta Basta. Despite them taking forever and a day to deliver our main courses and them continually forgetting that we were English, I quite liked this restaurant. We missed a trick apparently by not electing for the pasta buffet, but it made our main courses all the finer when they eventually turned up.

Here's a picture of some soldiers.

Sunny Sunday morning and we popped next door to Cafe Blanc for a quick coffee before our morning expedition. The waitress patiently wrote down our order before saying 'Thats the same as you had yesterday'. We could have just asked for the usual !

Anyway, today we ended to go up that spirally church tower that was in one of the other photos. Apparently, it was up 400 steps, 150 of them on the outside of the tower, and the architect (early urban myth alert) threw himself off of the top when he realised that the spiral went round the wrong way. The interior staircase reminded me of the one from Vertigo, lots of rickety wooden stairs, some of them narrow, some of them not. There were lots of people climbing and down, so on our ascent we had to keep making way for people in the opposite direction. Eventually however, we clambered out into the open air where were buffeted by the breeze but had a great view across the city.

The stair case around the tower had a metal handrailing and metal steps, worn smooth by the thousands of people that had climbed them before. The steps started off wider than the wooden one but as you got towards the top they started to narrow quite dramatically, and as the wind knocked you about, the knowledge that you were really rather exposed was a little scary.

Here's a pic.

Gal got higher than me, but had a sudden attack of awareness and I had to coax her back down again. I think our descent down the tower was probably a lot quicker than the climb.

We visited the hippy enclave over the way, Christiania, but, although it was a dramatic difference to the rest of the city, it was quite dreary, so we nipped back to the bakers, brought some bread and a Danish, and sat on the edge of the canal feeding the ducks.

We were winding down. You know how you come to the end of a holiday and you don't want it to end? Sunday was like that. Instead of catching the train back to the city centre, we walked up the canal and strolled hand-in-hand over the bridges linking us back to the mainland.

Onwards to the airport, and to the steak restaurant, and to the moany gits on the plane, and I feel like I've probably bored you all enough.

Had a wonderful time. It really was a lovely city and I had a wonderful person to share it with, and if we could do it all again tomorrow, I'd jump at the chance.

Unexpected party

Bloke called me last night. Distracted me. He told me that, as he was sure I was aware, interest rates were rising.

"And?" I said.

He told me that his company look at what I'm paying and work out how I can get a better deal.

"I'm not interested," I replied.

He asked me whether there was anything preventing me. I think he meant preventing me from moving, he wasn't explicit.

"Yeah," I said. "I'm watching telly," and put the phone down.

I've never once bought anything from these cold-calling people. I don't want a new kitchen, or new windows, or a new mortgage, or a new electricity supplier. You'd think they'd just get the message. *

Although, whilst I'm on the subject of electricity suppliers...

9 months after I moved in, I finally got Powergen to accept that my meter was faulty, that all of their bills so far this year were bollox, and they installed a new one. A month ago.

So I rang them yesterday to ask them why I still haven't seen a bill or a communication from them to the effect that I'm on a new meter.

"You've got £300 outstanding on your bill," the man said.

So I patiently explained the situation again, that they were ignoring the lack of movement showed by the meter, that they were plucking £150 pound estimates out of the air every quarter, that I'd had a new meter installed and that the nice lady I spoke to the last time told me the debt would get written off.

"Can you give me a meter reading?" he says.

"No. I can't give you a meter reading because the cupboard its stored in has a rusty lock and every time you send me a crappy plastic key it breaks. Surely, as you've just installed the meter, you can guess that the meter reading would be somewhere around zero."

"Hold on," he says, and puts me on hold, before coming back and telling me that I can get a new key from a 'Pay shop', which apparently translates as a post office.

But I don't want a key, I don't want to read the meter, I just want them to acknowledge that I'm on a new meter and that the old (made-up) debt is gone.

I figured it wasn't a good time to ask him about the renewable-energy leaflet that had fallen through my letterbox the day before.

(* - yes, I am registered with the telephone preference people, but it takes a month to kick in and I only got around to it last week)