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Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog: 9/24/06 - 10/1/06

Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog

Friday, September 29, 2006

Onward to the weekend

OK, so I said I wouldn't blog till tonight, Well, I've had a reasonable sleep and thought I'd put something down (not that I've much to say, but then that might change as I write LOL).

I had a new digital TV aerial fitted on the house yesterday. This now means the kids can watch TV in their bedrooms without them arguing over when and what to watch. It all seems to have worked out fine up till now so that is good. Still, its slightly perturbing how reliant we all become on all this modern technology. Every now and again, I'll just settle down with a good book when the mood takes me.

Tomorrow evening I'll be involved with the Alpha Course meal and first meeting where I've been asked to give my testimony. So far we have around 30 guests. I feeling a touch nervous at speaking in front of a few folk. I have done this before, but its still a touch unnerving. Again, this will be an opportunity to meet some more folk and thats something I quite enjoy doing.

Work is still fairly tiring and I still don't feel as inspired as I would like, but its getting better. I guess some of this is down to the administration system we have for maintaining files. I guess in some ways I "just don't get it". Some of what we complete doesn't seem/feel to be effective in my view and I don't know what the answer is. I think I'll need to look back on this post in the future and see how I feel then.

College is going reasonable well. I'm a touch behind with my journals, but feel relatively comfortable that I'll catch up. Just takes a moment of inspiration and I know I can write reams of stuff.

There ya go Marty, see... you've written quite a bit in this blog in the end LOL.

So......... here is todays scribble (been building a few up in recent days)

Rocket Science

Now you have probably come to realise that I spend a fair amount of my leisure time at the local pub. Its somewhere I like to chill out from time to time. Here is another little gem from a few years ago.

Stood in a busy local pub one weekend with a friend, conversations were going on around me and some folk naturally were drawn into other conversations of strangers. I guess this is part of how we make new acquaintances. This particular evening, some young folk were discussing their future having come to the end of University. One particular girl excitedly spoke of an opportunity she had to work for NASA. She described how this had come about through her hard work and tenacity. Quick as a flash, an amusing thought entered my head so I said.

“Well, its not exactly rocket science is it. Hang on! Yes it is!”

It got a few laughs and I’ve always remembered that encounter. Now, whenever I hear people use that old cliché “Its not exactly rocket science, is it” I always reply by saying “Unless you work for NASA, then it IS rocket science”


(10 total)

Hey Masrty, what are you studying at college? I am filling in my time, doing business management, then on to do a b/a, and hopefully, a Masters degree.
As I said, it fills in my time. I study at home, and send the assignments via the internet......Only at exam times do I see a tutor....aint that great?

Friday 29 September 2006 - 09:48AM (PDT)

Marty, whatever you do this weekend, enjoy it...I have had yet another Crap week with the authorities....but what the heck, now its the weekend, the government offices are closed, I cannot hassle anyone, I have great wine in a glass in front of me, and a chinese meal to come later...thats just the start of the weekend...Take care, relax, and be happy XX

Friday 29 September 2006 - 06:25PM (BST)

Well after all my cleaning this week Marty I'm hopefully going to have a quiet w/e and relax:-) so hope you do the same. The music reminds me of a nightclub I used to go to in Batley near Leeds that used to play that music at the beginning of the laser light show lol....thanks for the

Friday 29 September 2006 - 07:30PM (BST)

I havent had to stand up and talk in front of people much but I do remember this one time at ( I feel like I should say at band camp here)(oh that isnt getting at you Marty)(its actually what Alyson Hannigan says throughout the american pie movies) a course I was on from work, we had to talk about a certain subject with the aid of flip charts or whatever for a certain amount of time, I think it had to be something like between 10 and 14 minutes, something like that. Anyway I had organised my talk and had little reminders of my topics as bullet points and knew more or less what I wanted to say, I had practiced it time and again, trying to word it different ways but didnt think I was going to make it last long enough. It came to my turn and I got up and started talking and showing my various visual aids, flip chart, a few slides and I just got really into it, I was explaining away and suddenly noticed I was getting panicky signals off other people in the class, turns out I had been going about 4 minutes too long and never managed to get to the end of what I meant to do, I adlibbed it to death lol.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 07:45PM (BST)

i can talk in front of people if it's spur of the moment, when I've been suddenly dropped in it, but give me time to plan and think and i'm useless. good luck. love the music today.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 09:17PM (BST)

Bless your time in Alpha. Hope all goes well

Friday 29 September 2006 - 02:11PM (PDT)

Marty, I agree with you on the music. It brings to mind sweeping vistas and grand it seems to go on for a long always surprises me to see it lasts less than two minutes.
And the most effective use of the piece, to me, will always be in that film in the vid. 2001 was, and still is, a turning point in cinematic history.

Saturday 30 September 2006 - 12:57AM (BST)

You will be fine? Speek out you will be great?? I loved you video?

Friday 29 September 2006 - 11:47PM (ADT)

Thankyou for all your wonderful words marty. I cant imagin you wont do well,in all you try.

Saturday 30 September 2006 - 08:48AM (BST)

We are much too reliant on technology Marty, unfortunately it is not until it fails that you realise exactly how much. You also remind me that I need to upgrade my T.V.aerial, I had a shiney new T.V. a couple of months ago and can't use some of the whistles and bells because of it. Bit like buying a new bike and not putting the pedals on.

Sunday 1 October 2006 - 07:24PM (BST)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Locals make a difference

Gone are the days (pretty much in most cases) of the local business that you could rely on to be friendly and negotiable and able to make their own judgements. I remember the days when I could phone our local bank and tell them Christine was coming round to draw some money out, could they help with so and so? "Yes Martin, thats fine. See you soon!"

Now, you get a national 0845 number that takes you through to some remote call centre. This gives me images of banks of people sat in a large open plan office on some remote business park somewhere, sat in front of PC screen with headsets fitted and scrolling call numbers on a ticker board dispayed for everyone to see. Some trumped up supervisor cracking the metaphoric whip over everyone like some ancient scene from a 1950's biblical movie.

Today, Christine bumped into the guy from the local fireplace centre where we brought our gas fire and fire surround some 8 yrs ago. Last week, we recommend some friends to them because they gave such a decent service. The guy asked Chris when we last had our fire serviced (which I ashamed to say must be years ago). He said, "I'm gonna send someone round to do that for you free of charge." This was a thankyou for recommending our friends to him. For me, THAT is the proper way to do business. Friendly personal service where you know who you are dealing with and they are familiar at both ends. Who wants to listen to recorded voices telling you which button to press, then have to go through the riggers of confirming your identity?

At the bottom of this blog is an audio/video blog of a call I recieved from a call centre today. This ties in with my scribble from a few weeks ago
click here I GOT 'EM FOLKS!!! (laughing) This was recorded this afternoon. I couldn't understand a word she was saying! As soon as I realised what the call was, I put ther loud speaker on and recorded the call with my mobile phone (just for training purposes, of course Image )

Now for todays scribble......

My “Basic Instinct” experience.

Around about 10 years ago (roughly 1996) I can remember a particular evening at a local drink hole in my village when something happened that I did not expect.

I’d gone to the pub (as I often do) on my own and was stood at the bar drinking a pint when some folk came in that I recognised but didn’t really know to speak to. This was a couple (older guy with his girlfriend I guess) the frequented the pubs on a regular basis. This was often a little tipsy on Friday and Saturday nights. On this particular evening, the girl was dressed in a white top and skirt that was not particularly short, but stopped just above the knee. She had obviously been getting uncomfortable in her shoes and had taken them off. I hadn’t noticed this and as I stepped back for a moment, I trod on her toe. She of course cried out in pain. Mortified, I apologised profusely to her and the beginnings of a conversation started. Her toe was clearly uncomfortable and then sat on the bar stool and lifted he foot up to the thigh of her other leg in order to show me her swollen toe. Imagine the surprise I got as I was presented (without being too explicit) with what I describe as my “Basic Instinct” experience. Talk about embarrassing!#


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I liked the little vid, I get similar calls all the time. as for your little scribble, dont ever remember having a basic instinct experience, darn it.

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 05:54PM (BST)

I too long for the days of personal sevice as it is the way I run my business. I recieved a call the other day computer generated to tell me that my husbands request for a perscription drug had been approved and we could pick it up.... please next time have a real person on the phone it was just so cold.

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 12:32PM (CDT)

How many call centres you been in? if you haven't been in any, thats an uncanny resemblance (say's she who used to be a whip cracker in one)
Customer service, I recall the days of the corner shop, where I could go as a young child to get my Pa's 10 Senior Service without a word ever beign said, because they knew the whole family so well, the butcher next door to the corner shop who knew which cuts of beef to put by for my mother, and the fruit and veg shop next door to that...the italian shop round the corner where we used to get fresh crusty bread every Saturday morning, all the shops I'd have to give a run down of how the family were....

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 06:41PM (BST)

Just listened to the cal, those were the days.....they NEVER know what to really say when you say you're not interested...I used to get into trouble when I was on the phone ( probably why they promoted me, to get me away from the public) I used to ask people outright why they were'nt interested, then tell them all the benefits...and so on and on and on.....he he

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 06:45PM (BST)

There is a service to stop those unwanted calls, phone company can give you contact details. BT is our provider and they give you one number free of charge on the service. As for basic instinct moments, now then, never make assumptions. One never knows what anyone actually has under their clothes... or not.

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 08:33PM (BST)

I'll say one thing, I never ring a buiness on my mobile, coz i use half my pre-paid card, just listening to the computer telling me what the options are, then sitting on a "WAITING" list....

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 02:47PM (PDT)

omg Marty what a shock that must have been lol it takes all sorts u know but I'm sure it must have been embarrasing for you! As the short time I have known you I can tell you are a real gent and totally devoted to your wife and children.... Also I get those calls all the time and they are a real pain in the backside aint they?

Friday 29 September 2006 - 12:35AM (BST)

Its sad about where service is going these days. Here in bath they are just about to build the huge northgate shopping complex which will walk through a couple of blocks. And all the small interesting shops are closing. I can just imagine the kind of tenants that will be able to afford to be in the shopping complex — café nero, accessorise, topshop, blah. While we love them they just do not have the character and personal touch of small businesses.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 09:00AM (BST)

Well put, Marty. You might easily have embarassed a lot of people, but no, you are explicit without being coarse.
Love, EC

Friday 29 September 2006 - 01:14PM (CEST)

Oh good one Marty. Do you know of the comedian guy who has a CD of calls where he does whacky things to telemarketers? The one I heard was where he pretended he shot somebody and asked the telemarketer for advice on how to clean up the blood. It was brilliant.

Your Basic Instinct experience was hilarious. Being somebody who doesn't drink, I've had similar experiences when accompanying drinking friends to bars during the college years.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 12:05PM (EDT)

Brenny. One of the funniest telephone "wind up" recordings I have heard is where a guy, who did a test drive of a prestige car, phoned the dealer to place an order, but everytime he went to give he credit card number, he feigned signal problems, so the salesman spent 20 minutes trying to get the card number without success. It was hilarious!

Friday 29 September 2006 - 05:35PM (BST)

i am lucky enough to live in a busy little village with lots of little independent shops and i try to support them as much as possible. i am also lucky that if i ring my bank it is possible to be connected to the branch and speak to a familiar member of staff.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 09:22PM (BST)

Marty, I have seen the story from both sides. Years ago (in the late 80s) I had my own fruit & veg shop. Like all small businesses I thrived because of the service I provided. It was hard work, but it was ultimately very very satisfying.
I work in a call-centre at the moment. While the physical description you gave was spot on, I would say that not all CCs are the same. Working in the benefits system in this country has never been an easy job, but since much of the work has moved into this kind of environment it has become, in many respects, even harder.
I am a Mentor, my job is to ensure staff are kept current on all aspects of the job. I spend a LOT of every day hammering home the point to staff that customer service is VERY VERY important. I always remind them what it's like being at the other end of the phone. I remind them they should treat people as they would want to be treated themselves, not as a statistic, not as a number, not just a voice at the other end of the line, but a real person who expects to be treated with respect.

Saturday 30 September 2006 - 12:48AM (BST)


A little late I'm posting for Brenny experiment with short stories on a theme. Took me a while to be inspired, but seeing grey clouds this morning whilst driving back from Asda, this is what I have come up with: -

The phone rings.
"Hi Charie. Where are you? We're expecting you at the meeting this morning"
Panic and remorse hit Charlie. How could he have forgotton todays meetings? A promise made and now half broken. Switching the television off and rushing to get ready, a text message bleats on Charlie's mobile phone.
" Hi Dad. Can you come and pick me up? It looks like it gonna rain." Feeling more frustrated and neglectful, Charlie rings Lucy and apologies that he really must get to the meeting. Its very important. "Sorry Lucy, you'll have to get the bus today". It takes another 2 minutes for Charlie to get off the phone due to the pleading of his daughter. This only adds to the guilt. "How can I have been so stupid. I'm really not nearly as organised as I should have been!"

Charlie rushes to his car, then realises he has left the car keys indoors. More frustration! The clouds gather and the sky darkens. Eventually, returning to the car and reversing off the drive, a yellow light blinks on the dashboard. Low fuel. "Arrrrghhh. Another hold up!" Charlie can feel his blood pressure rising and the panic in his throat. He arrives at the petrol station, only to find that there is a tanker delivery and all pumps are closed. Frustrated, reversing back on to the road and screeching the tyres as he does so, other car flash their headlights at him and one car sounds his horn. Was that really neccessary? These thoughts went through Charlie's mind as the wailing of the horn lowered in tone with the passing of the vehicle on the road.

Five minutes later, a few drops of rain spattered the windscreen as Charlie continued up the duel carrigeway toward his office. Suddenly, the engine faltered and the car slowed to a stop. Out of fuel. Reaching for his mobile phone, Charlie realised he was not going to make this meeting. As he pulled the phone from his pocket, it rang.

"Hello Charlie. Where are you? I thought you were going to be at home all day today. Don't forget to pick the bag of spuds up this morning. We'll have none for dinner tonight. "

"Grace, I'm in the car. The fuel is out. Did you not think to fill the tank when you used it last night?"

"Don't blame me! You could have filled it yesterday. You know I hate using petrol stations. Where are you going anyway. Don't let me down with the potatoes. I've go enough to do as it is today without worrying about cooking".

And so the conversation went on for another to minutes, ending with Grace cutting Charlie off mid sentence. The clouds were really quite dark now outside. Charlie searched for the office number on his phone and put the call in. The reception phone rang for what seemed like ages.
"Hello Curz......." BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP. The phone went dead as the battery ran out. Charlie got out of the car, grabbed the fuel can from the boot of the car and started to walk. Nobody stopped along the road and it took 45 minutes before he got to the fuel station and filled the can. Returning to the car an hour later, stressed and exhausted, the rain began to fall steadily and the sky become darker to the north. When Charlie finally got to car door he spotted the ticket tucked under his windscreen detailing the fine for illegal parking. At that very moment, the heavens opened as driving rain spattered Charlie's face.

"When it rains, it pours"


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Fabulous Marty...I loved it.

I liked how everything builds to that moment when it actually begins to rain, yet it is already puring in poor Charlies life that day!

It makes me wonder what did Charlie do then? How much more could go wrong in his day?

A fantastic ending...left me thinking and wanting to know more. xx

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 12:19PM (BST)

Poor CHarlie. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who has days that when it rains it pours. It is a wonderful story and so very true.

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 06:22AM (CDT)

Hey Marty matey, I guess we all have days where it not only rains but it pours and sometimes even persists it down.

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 12:23PM (BST)

is this a new story collection time? if so, I'd love the chance to submit one, and congrats on a good story, I really felt sorry for the guy, when his day stuffed up, by running out of fuel......know that exact feling..........

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 04:24AM (PDT)

Thank you Rainy. I guess I like to leave my stories open at the end. I think it keeps it in peoples consciousness.

Yep Sister - We certainly do get those days from time to time. You have to laugh in the end though. Whta else can you do?

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 12:24PM (BST)

Poor Charlie he really had a day....BTW did he ever get the spuds?
That had to be the wife in me LOL
I had a wonderful time on that trip

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 06:44AM (CDT)

I do so have days like that....

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 01:59PM (BST)

Marty once again you have impressed me! Very good story. Brilliant! keep them coming!
smile x

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 02:23PM (BST)

Marty, great story. Like Rainy, I felt like it was pouring long before the rain started. I have had days like that, and the story brings it out so well.

I was particularly conscious of the way the dialogue with the wife started out with a blame game. Happens so much when I am stressed, running behind or if it's just plain pouring.

Great story. Will add it to the festival page now.

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 01:53PM (EDT)

A very nice story , you dont know me even yet your Charlie sounded so much like me,lolz.

Saturday 30 September 2006 - 01:41AM (IST)

Charlie Charlie Charlie, Poor Charlie. Why is it I feel for you buddie, but I am smiling here even laughing. Is it irony or is it the way you write so convincingly..loved it. Thanks mate!!

Sunday 1 October 2006 - 11:25AM (WST)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Communication at work

Hi folks,

I've got to say that I've had a pretty good day at work today, although I've still been feeling pretty tired. I think this could be to do with the onset of autumn. Management are away on holiday at the moment, so myself and one of my colleagues have been jointly covering some extra responsibilities. We spent some time today just talking in the office about our life experiences. I love times like this when I get to chance to know someone at another level.
I helped Maria with some accounts. In particular, this referred to using MS Excel and making sure formulae was correct. I managed to teach Maria a few little tricks and showed her how this worked. I enjoy sharing knowledge, just to see the joy on peoples faces when the get it. This worked well at counselling training yesterday. Some people on my course were worried about the role play we need to do (I love role play). I think I managed to make people feel at ease about this. Again, doing this give me some peace, especially as it helps to make new friends and help others to gain confidence. This improves my confidence too.

Tommorow, We are getting a digital aerial fitted at home so my teenagers will be able to watch TV in their own rooms instead of claiming our bedroom. I like to go watch TV on my own fairly often, or just chill out and read a book, or just doze quite often, so when I find Dawn in the bedroom watching Hollioaks or taping a movie, I get quite frustrated. Items in the house are shared equally (the kids are more equal than I am) with me always getting the smallest slice of the cake! ohhh the joys of parenthood. LOL

On the theme of communication, here is todays scribble.

Phone Calls and Faxes

Early 1990’s just after I was made redundant from shipping and forwarding, I picked up a quirky little job forwarding phone calls and fax messages around the world. This involved hard copy faxes coming in from companies in Europe that needed forwarding to far flung countires (some of which I’d never heard of before). It was supposed to work that somehow, due to pricing structures it was cheaper for companies to do this via the UK and for the company I worked for make a revenue out of it. They did the same with phones too, allowing cuban’s to call the UK and us forwarding the call to USA (which got round an embargo at the time, until USA authorities found out and pulled the plug!)

The office I worked in was in a basement. One day, one of the guys photocopied a £5 note, sewed in a piece of cotton and put it out through the grate to the path outside. We used to gather round and laugh everytime someone spotted the note and went to pick it up, only for us to wip it away at the last minute!

Eventually, after about 2 years, it became apparent that the directors of the little outfit I worked for had not been paying the phone bill. It ran to over £1 million and broke in the local press, Basically (so I was told) they had made a miscalculation of how much revenue they could make. It didn’t actually work so they went bust and I was made redundant again. Probably the weirdest place I ever worked.


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Hey Marty,
Having teens running amuck in your own house????
My 9yr old and my 7yr old, both understand when I say "right you lot , this is daddy time, be quiet or go to your rooms..instant silence.....try it with your bedroom....
My 7 yr old wanted to "asleep in daddy's bed, until I told her that anyone who sleepsc in daddy bed dont wear no clothes"I got an instant reply "eeeeeewwwwwwwww, I'm never going to sleep there then" and she never has......

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 01:44PM (PDT)

Its funny I'm living on my own now and get so guilty about having first choice with everything all through the week that I have to let my sons have the remote while they are here at the weekend, like I could stop them lol.

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 09:44PM (BST)

Hi Marty nice to have you back babe....And I will try take your advice for my own TLC this W/E when all the cleaning is I loved your blog about helping others to build there confidence it is so good that you share your knowledge with others, as some use it to wield power as I am sure you will big pat on the back and {{{HUG}}} for that. The fiver thing was funny too made me giggle as it did you I bet. Although I have a varied taste in music I have never took a liking to jazz but listened to it anyway....and guess what Marty......I still dont like it lol sorry babe, never mind it takes all sorts as they say and as long as it makes you happy who

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 10:13PM (BST)

i love you blogs :)
what you said about training and helping people is so true, we grow a little whenever we do it! incredible.

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 10:14PM (BST)

There is a sense of satisfaction in helping others and sharing knowledge, that is it's own reward.
So, you've done the old fake fiver trick too huh? lol Good fun.
The jazz was cool. Take care.

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 10:51PM (BST)

Hi Marty,
Was reading your blog today and out of all of it, the thing that almost jumped out was'Oh the joys of parenthood'.
I know quite a few people who would love that chnce and I remember this when I stat moaning about my children. We are so fortunate to have the experience of parenthood in fact it is an honour, don't you think.
Now then Marty, Going back to your trombone playing, I have a challenge for you which will take your mind off work a bit - but I am afraid you will still have to go to work lol. I will let you know soon- Take care and god bless

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 11:00PM (BST)

Well, that solves the problem of having to communicate with the teenagers! Eh, sms language, urban language, emo's, chav's, moshers, I can never keep up with learning yorkshire let alone early twenties lingo. No rest for the weary ya know. All the best.

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 11:39PM (BST)

Everyone needs their own space. I love reading you blog?? Alway something new? much hugg marty? sweet dreams?

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 09:34PM (ADT)

Keith Jarret playing Autumn Leaves.... sweet!

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 07:57PM (PDT)

Hi Marty glad work has been good, after recent feelings regarding work it pleases me that you are feeling better on the subject.
It is great helping others sharing knowledge...teaching them something new, it has a great sense of satisfaction indeed and is in itself it's own reward.

I have to say I don't like role play that much, I'm ok when I get into it but I feel very awkward and daft to start with, it's nice that you can put other ppl at ease with their anxieties over it.

As for the kids lets hope the aerial does the trick!! Guess I have all this to come!! ;) By the way Dawn would get on well with my mum....she loves hollioaks!! lol.

Liked the did indeed sound a very strange place to work....thanks for sharing.x

Loved the vid, not normally my usual listen but enjoyed muchly.

Good luck on getting your bedroom back for your "Marty time". Bug hugs to you sweetie and my love to you.x

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 10:33AM (BST)

Hmmm, this idea of reading a good book often, I stubbled across a quotable the other day, it speaks of how much one might love their wife, or kids I thought and so here it is,

"The virtue of her lively looks
Excels the precious stone;
I wish to have none other books
To read or look upon"

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 08:29AM (EDT)

and then there is 'Persimmons, wrapped in newspaper' which is a very powerful read...

Thursday 28 September 2006 - 08:31AM (EDT)

Hey Marty,
I can see that there's a natural teacher in you. There's a great deal of patience in the way you deal with things and you have such a commonsense and practical way about you in the way that you write as well as discuss things. Sometimes in todays world people are so ahead of themselves and crazy about getting too much achieved.

Great to see you taking pleasure in getting 1-1 time with colleagues and helping out etc.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 12:13PM (EDT)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tuesdays are busy

Tommorow will be a busy day. I may not get time to blog or check blogs. Before I share the more serious story I wrote some days ago, here is a scribble: -

At the pub tonight....

I popped in for a pint before returning home to watch "Spooks" on TV.
Whilst there, I was messing around with the new mobile phone I purchased a week or so ago. Changing the wallpaper of the main page to a pic. of my 8 yrs old daughter, I shared this with the blonde (Yes she IS) landlady. "Oh" she said "Your daughter is lovely, but you need to update the date on your phone. It says 2004" Looking at the phone I laughed.
" You silly woman. Its 4 minutes past 8. Its the time, not the year" We all laughed and she said to me "I'll never live that one down will I?" No she won't, particulaly as it was 2005 by the time she replied!


Here is the story.... its long(ish) so put the kettle on!!!

Derren smiled at the little girl across the school yard. He had not caught her eye yet. He marvelled at her golden hair, her pretty face, and the way her eyes shined with joy as she played “hopscotch” with her friend. Eventually she glanced toward him and he increased his toothy grin. The little girls eye turned to opaque dark peals and the smile left her face. “Ewwwww, you’re ugly Dumbo! Big ears!” Derren was hurt and confused by the stinging retort. A few girls joined in and giggled as they taunted little him.

Derren was a slight boy with disproportionate features that are often typical of an eight year old. Straight, lank hair and a lopsided fringe added to features open to teasing by other children. Derren was an over excitable child. His enthusiasm at play was often overwhelming to other children, so sometimes he was excluded from some of the games.

Later, Derren sat in the dinner hall with the liver and watery powdered mash potato on his plate feeling nauseous at the thought of having to eat this food. Derren had always been a dreamer (at least these were the words her heard mum say to other adults). Staring out of the window he spotted his teacher Miss Frost standing on chairs pinning pictures to the wall, a cigarette dangling from her mouth. He hated Miss Frost. She was really horrible and he was scared of her.

The next day, lining up for class, Derren watched as all the girls walked into the classroom and chanted in turn “Good morning Miss”. He noticed how Miss Frost smiled at the girls (especially the pretty girl) and returned the compliment. “Good morning Lucy”. Derren looked up at Miss Frost “Good morning Miss”, however it seemed she had no interest in him and ignored him. It seemed she was more interested in the girls. Disappointed and hurt, Derren trudged to his seat with his head bowed.

Miss Frost always wore an “Alice band”. Derren was able to gauge her mood each morning dependant upon the colour. Green would indicate a pleasant mood and this would give him a feeling of safety and calmness. If he was lucky, Miss might even smile at him and say “Good morning”. Blue indicated a bad mood and flagged up danger signals, beware! This morning however, Miss was not wearing a hair band. She had hair clips. Derren very quickly found out that Miss was in a particularly bad mood today. She shouted at him to hurry up and sit down at his desk at the front of the class where she could see him. It was not long into the class before Derren’s mind began to wander. He wished he were somewhere else or in another class with a kindly teacher Miss Hall who taught him last year. Miss Hall always smiled at him and encouraged him. Suddenly, Derren jumped in fear and anxiety at the sharp inflection of Miss Frost’s voice. “DERREN! WILL YOU PAY ATTENTION AND FACE FRONT!” His face flushed with embarrassment and he felt hot tears fill his eyes. The class continued. The sound of the girls sniggering behind made Derren feel very self conscious indeed! He looked round and was faced with tongues poked out. Again, he jumped in terror as Miss shouted those words angry words “DERREN! Go and stand in the corner and face the wall!”

Break time came, but Miss did not allow Derren to go outside with the other children. He was made to sit in the class alone. This was made worse in the afternoon when the class was taken to the school hall to watch a TV programme about maths. Not Derren though, he was left behind in the classroom as punishment along with Libby whom he was forced to sit next to. He didn’t like Libby very much and he was sure Miss made him sit next to her on purpose. When the children returned, he really felt left out as the class enthusiastically did the sums that he could not understand. Derren never did find out what it was everyone else learned that day.


As a 47 years old man, married to Susan, Derren was contented with his life. A “run of the mill” office job was by no means perfect but it paid the rent. He loved his son Jack dearly and tried to bring him up to be well balanced. Faith played a big part in the family. Caring for people rated highly in Derren’s life and he was part of the pastoral team at his local church. One Sunday morning, Pastor Jenkins asked Derren if he would go visit the hospice on his behalf this week. The Pastor had a very busy week ahead. Derren agreed. Taking Thursday off work would not prove to be a problem.

Doing the rounds at the hospice, listening to the folk and praying for them came fairly naturally to Derren. One of the nurses told him about a particular lady who had arrived this morning and seemed to be very withdrawn. He made a special note to spend a bit of extra time with this lady. Entering the room, he was struck by the sun shining in through the window and the warm pastel colours. A single card sat on the bedside table. He approached the lady sat in the chair, her face lined, grey hair tied back and a blanket across her legs. He wondered what lay behind the dark sunken, distant eyes. Introducing himself, he sat in the wooden chair beside this lady and waited patiently for her to speak. It was a long while before words left her mouth. All he heard until then was the rasping sound of her breath. In a matter of fact way she said “I have cancer, lung cancer”.

A brief pause “I’m sorry, may I pray for you”.

“If you wish. I don’t see as it will make much difference”

Derren closed his eyes and prayed.

“May I ask your name?”


“Do you have any family?”

“Only my brother. It’s him that sent me the card… for what its worth.”

Another long pause, Derren waited patiently for Sandra to speak trying to make eye contact with her in a gentle and non instrusive way.

“I don’t have any children. I never married. Never had much time for men to be truthful.” Derren nodded inquisitively showing more interest.

“My brother is a successful architect. He always did well. My parents put him into private school and encouraged him. Pity they did not do that for me. I always felt second best in our family. It was always ‘Gerald’s done this, isn’t he wonderful’. I had to make my own way in life”.

Sandra’s eyes seemed to drop for a moment and an atmosphere of sadness seemed to settle up her. Derren noticed the greyness and the pink raw edges of her eyelids. Was that a tear appearing? Sandra gestured with her hands as she spoke and scratched her eyebrow. In an instant, the emotion was gone and her composure returned to that determined, hardened face he first encountered. She continued to talk for a while about the various recent domestic issues in her life. About 20 minutes passed. Derren spoke very little himself other than to ask short questions to prompt Sandra further. Finally, when conversation drifted toward an end, he gently told Sandra that it was time for him to leave and said that he would be happy to come visit her again if she wished. For the first time in the encounter, Sandra made eye contact with him. Her eyes searched his and very quietly she said “Thank you…. For you kindness”. Derren got up to leave and walked toward the door. Something made him stop and turn to ask just one more question. “Sandra, you never told me what you did for a living”.

She once again looked him directly in the eye. “I was a school teacher”.


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hmmm - more food for thought..if you know what I mean. Thank you.
hugs steph

Monday 25 September 2006 - 10:41PM (BST)

Marty have you ever thought of writing a book or anything like that, your short stories on here are so beautifuly written they almost paint a picture of the characters involved, you can see people you have know in your own life in each of them.

Monday 25 September 2006 - 11:49PM (BST)


Monday 25 September 2006 - 07:55PM (ADT)

You should use what Kevin said, and choose a better career for your self, writing books.
I cannot say any more than that, words fail me today, sorry......................

Monday 25 September 2006 - 04:56PM (PDT)

I am lost for words Marty.....I shall take time to think of a better comment than that and return.xx

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 10:21AM (BST)

I love the story. (And the anecdote about your landlady!!!) Thanks so much.

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 10:37AM (BST)

Marty what a beautiful well written short story. And being a great believer in karma I loved ifiik I think you should write! The landlady certainly was'nt a bottle blonde either was she? poor woman will never live that down...but alas I'm sure we have all had our blonde moments I know I have

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 11:36AM (BST)

I have to agree with Kevin also, I think you should think seriously about writing! Im quite captivated!
smiles for you! x

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 01:58PM (BST)

A great story Marty. It just goes to show we all get what we deserve in the end---er,don't we?

Wednesday 27 September 2006 - 02:33AM (BST)


Hi everyone,
Today started with the weekly staff meeting at work. For some reason I still felt slightly uncomfortable there. I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm a bit hyper sensitive to anything said to me in the work environment right. From a logical point of view this does not make any sense.

This afternoon was my first appointment (assessment) for some counselling. Somewhere I can work through these feelings. Its odd that I consciously know that I've made a completely sane decision to do this, but there is still that feeling of traditional labelling. Its the "People are gonna think you've gone nuts Marty" LOL. Still, its sorted as far as the next few weeks are concerned.

I went off to the shops afterwards and brought myself some new clothes. A really nice pair of casual trousers that are very comfortable and a couple of trendy t shirts. I also popped into Waterstones and spotted a Sebastian Faulks novel. I think this moght be a new one. Its called "Human Traces". The back cover says its a novel about a couple of pioneering psychiartrists in the 1870's. Once I saw that I knew it was a defo buy. I really like Faulks style of writing. He seems to have a classical touch. "Birdsong" was a wonderful book and a comfortable read. "Charlotte Gray" is another I really liked and the film was reasonable too.

Overall, my day has been pretty good. Some slight anxiety, but I'm sticking close to God right now to see me through. Talking of God, I find it interesting how folk have different conceptions on belief. I guess some of you might call me religious. That I have to say, I am definately not and I feel personally that there is a clear line between believing in God and being "Religious". These words send out all sort of signals to people and create all sorts of conceptions. In some ways, I guess I'm a bit of a maverick on this issue.

All said and done, with the emotions I've felt recently, I really try not to take myself to seriously and this applies to my spiritual life too.

15.10.07 NOTE: Video's orginally posted are no longer available


(9 total)

Bollocks to the traditional labelling Marty, going to therapy is the greatest gift anyone can give themselves - so say I. Its not about being nuts but about being sane. I'm so sick of this imagined idea that anyone in therapy is either crazy or self interested. Ya gotta do it for the work you are going to do anyways so you might just get a head start on it!

Monday 25 September 2006 - 05:52PM (BST)

Glad you're OK, ( I do worry you know!)
I have always placed a line between believing in God/having faith and being 'religious..I have often found those who like to state they are 'religious' to be hypocrites...whereas, the other sector, the believers and people who have faith, are the quiet, unassuming ones, who continue their walk....

Monday 25 September 2006 - 06:04PM (BST)

Hi Marty matey thanks for sharing the vids, I like the Pythons, I love Father Ted and I adore The Vicar Of Dibley. Glad you managed to get started on your counselling and dont worry about whether people think your crazy or not just join the club and pull up a straight jacket. My blog on belief etc is proving slow going due to my up and downness at the moment.

Monday 25 September 2006 - 06:20PM (BST)

True counseling, is simply having the space and environment to work things through yourself. And perhaps having a guiding hand so you don't beat yourself up too much. No shame in that.

Many moons ago I worked for a hospice as a receptionist (in the states they are simply buildings, the terminally ill are cared for in their own homes.) The weekly team interdisciplinary meeting (doctors, nurses, chaplins, volunteers, volunteer coordinator, office staff, & sometimes family). Every staff meeting began with a meditation. The most uncomfortable I have ever been is when the meditation included a workshop where you paired up with somebody - one person pretended they were dying suddenly, the other person had five minutes to tell their chosen loved one (the other person pretending to be dying) all that they wished they'd said before this moment. After five minutes we switched. I was useless all that day after that. Moral to the story? Well, meditate a few minutes before your meeting & clear your mind OR imagine the worst possible staff meeting you could ever have and celebrate each one you get through that doesn't measure up to your worst nightmare... to this day when I hear Interdisciplinary with regards to a meeting I choke.

Monday 25 September 2006 - 06:42PM (BST)

A trip to the quack wont dwindle our brains Marty..I guess you've heard this already! I have been too.. and I was told to read chicken soup for the soul.. LOL.. ;)

Monday 25 September 2006 - 11:25PM (IST)

I agree with you. Being religious and believe in God seems to be different. Which ever religious scriptures we go through, we see God is formless and eternal. The very idea is something infinite, but our minds, human minds are finite. I think as spectrum of wavelengths which I can see is limited, my ability to hear sound is limited to certain frequencies, so is my understanding. I accept that.
Religion seems to be an attempt to project something infinite in to finite. Religion makes rules, and I wonder can we define/restrict God by/to any set of rules?

Monday 25 September 2006 - 11:10AM (PDT)

Counseling has gotten a terrible rap for is nothing more than healing, whether it be healing of the body or the mind there is not much difference. I love the vids...I could imagine running upon something like that in the lingerie department....LOL

Monday 25 September 2006 - 02:11PM (EDT)

I agree? great blog???

Monday 25 September 2006 - 04:16PM (ADT)

I'm glad you're focussing on what's best for you, Marty. Obviously all of us here wish you all the best in your recovery & what you are doing for yourself. I do admire how much you are putting into it all. & yeah, never take life tooo seriously, otherwise then people will go mad from all the madness about! Great vids, & I guess on that note as that Monty Phython song goes: "Always look on the bright side of life!". Take care! & everyone is a bit nuts in some way or another. I would never think of you that way though. You're a good bloke, & shoudl always remember it!

Short Story Competition

Short Story for charity.

“Where to begin…I shall begin in those years that left their calling card in the things we had, which were battered and familiar; in what we believed, which was reassuring and unchanging; and in what we said, how we felt, and how we treated one another”…

Harry lay on his bed absorbing the news he had received by phone. It was the news he had been dreading for so many years now. The news that mother had finally passed away and was at peace. Now there would be the plans for the funeral. Harry knew the demons he was going to face. The inevitable meeting of the rest of the family, the most difficult part would be meeting her, his sister Maureen. Harry resolved to write to Maureen this very day. It was going to be tough and challenging, but it needed to be done. Harry knew this could not go on for ever. At 50, being the youngest of the family by far Harry always felt he was the baby of the family and needed resolution with Maureen. Having struggled with the first few lines of this letter and after some thought, Harry got up, went to his bureau and continued with this heartfelt letter.

"I knew you as a different person then. I respected and trusted you, willing to learn from

what I perceived to be your wisdom. I was, after all, a child. I look back now and feel hurt that you didn’t love me in the way mother did. I wonder, did I not meet you expectations? Did I not fulfill your dreams? Was I just second best to what you wanted? Is it because I was not the little sister that you desired?

Now that we are so much older with so much more life experience behind us, I look back and wonder about our relationship as siblings and how much closer we might have been. How I have contributed towards our lack of contact over so many years simply because of my pride. I was your little brother, but now I am an adult. On a social and emotional level can we now be equals?

You hurt me Maureen. I remember how you scolded me at the breakfast table with hurtful words. I remember how you struck my wrist because I was unable to hold the spoon in the way you wished. I never meant you any harm. I was a child who needed gentle encouragement and love. You excluded me and ignored me in so many ways. You frightened me with your moods. I felt a burden upon you. You have never treated me as the adult I have become. I’ve learned my maturity elsewhere, but there is a part of me that wishes I could have learned it with you. Paradoxically I have become bitter and angry as I came into adulthood. I’ve been spiteful in my rejection of you in so many ways and these are feelings that I have owned. Have you noticed this or has it just passed you by? I wish we could have been closer. I wish you knew that I loved you Maureen and that all I wanted was to be accepted by you. I wish that you could have chosen to share in the love for my children as I did for yours. I realize now, that I have hurt you in so many ways.

I do love you sister and I forgive you for the past. I hope and pray that you can forgive me too. I want to know the real you. I want to see the kindness I know you have deep down. We can share hopes and dreams even now. I’ve seen where you have been hurt too, and I know I’ve very likely missed other hurtful times. I would have liked to have been there for you and supported you if you had let me. Can you forgive me sister, for my anger and bitterness? Can we be friends and companions? Would you like to really meet my children? I would be honored if you could. It is possible, I believe Maureen that we can build a relationship that we never knew we had. I have learned that God loves all of us unconditionally and that it would bring great joy to Him when we come to resolution and acceptance. Are you ready to make the step beyond this perceived boundary and outside our comfort zone? I know I am."

Dorothy’s funeral took place some 2 weeks later. The whole family was there as well as many family friends. Harry spent much of that morning at the Crematorium avoiding Maureen and busying himself with talking to all the friends of mother and father. Getting through the ceremony and wishing final goodbyes to mother was something he needed to do first before he could contemplate facing Maureen. The music played, the tears flowed and the curtains closed.

Returning to his parents house afterwards, Harry continued to talk with folk and thank them for their kindness until it all became too much and he retired to the extended back garden behind the fence leading to father’s vegetable garden. Harry sat at the bench and wept like never before, alone in his own thoughts. Momentarily, Harry became aware of a presence near to him. Wiping those tears away from his face, he saw in the distance Maureen walking toward him and made eye contact with her for the first time that day……

09:38PM (PDT)


(20 total)

a touching story.


Thursday 21 September 2006 - 06:46PM (BST)

This is an amazing story. As is the case with your posts, it's so powerful and heartfelt. You never fail to go to the heart of the matter and touch on real issues that are in everybody's lives.

Thanks for writing this.

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 01:50PM (EDT)

One feels sad about what these siblings missed for no real reason. I might have wanted to meet Maureen as more or a person and not only a mute shadow, but still the story gets through. Love, EC

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 07:54PM (CEST)

I loved the story very heartfelt, I always love to read your stories be they real or fictional.
I love the way the story ends ...with a beginning... of hope towards the reunion of the siblings. Loved it Marty.xx

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 07:02PM (BST)

Great choice of music Marty. There are not enough classical pieces written for guitar. The main theme of the piece always reminds me of Mexico for some reason.
Can't add anything new to what the others have already said about the story. Hope you're feeling a little better now. Had any more thoughts on moving on, job-wise?

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 07:27PM (BST)

very nice Marty....The siblings conflicts....

Friday 22 September 2006 - 12:11AM (IST)

I can't add to the others except to say thank you for writing it! Excellent capture and description of emotion.

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 08:35PM (BST)

Nice story Marty, I'm glad to see in your other blogs that your feeling a little better and I think its great that your gonna get a little counselling, good luck mate.

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 10:40PM (BST)

loved the story Marty

A simple gesture can truly have an amazing effect on the one who needs it.

Friday 22 September 2006 - 05:46AM (WST)

I loved it?? You have a way with words????

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 10:39PM (ADT)

I think that type of letter is what I need to write to my daughter-in-law who really dislikes me. It really takes guts to write a letter like that. I like your story, but it sounds as if it is experience not just imagination.

Thursday 21 September 2006 - 07:00PM (PDT)

Marty, i appreciate the way you express yourself when you wrote,your story can get the readers enlighted on something as you may hope,that's fantastic!Hope you will bring us more good writings.

Friday 22 September 2006 - 03:17PM (CST)

That is so beautiful! You truly have a gift for writing!

Friday 22 September 2006 - 11:10AM (EEST)

Wow. That story made me feel the discomfort you feel when you're confronting something you'd rather avoid. I love the way it ends at a funeral, but its really a new beginning. Brilliant.

Friday 22 September 2006 - 02:37PM (BST)

A touching story on a theme that most people can identify only too well with. Thank you for taking part in this great charity drive!

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 02:50PM (EST)

I identified with this story on so many levels many of us feel we never measure up to others expectations you have done a wonderful job of capturing that

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 12:40AM (CDT)

Terrific, Marty! How sad when there is conflict within families and what opportunities we miss out on!! This is a beautiful song, too. I know it from Il Divo's Ancora album and found it extremely moving...

Monday 25 September 2006 - 11:36PM (PDT)

MArty..your story touched a nerve in me.. because I have seen with my own eyes sibling rivalry and its effects and it is really sad when that goes unsolved.. truly touching :)

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 01:22PM (IST)

I'we been reading it with tears in my eyes. I think the music assent to this as well.
You just do this so naturally...

Tuesday 26 September 2006 - 10:59AM (CEST)

Marty-wonderful story of past pains and regret with that ever possible awakening of new beginnings at the end. Thanks and I hope you continue to share your stories with us!

Tuesday 26 September 2006 -

Sunday, September 24, 2006

innovation in a blog

Congratulations to you Sankaran for using innovation in creating this icebreaker to introduce your friends, and friends of friends to each other. A great title for a story. It has shown how, if we allow it to, our minds can fly free like a butterfly and become so creative.

Here starts another day where my soul is at peace. We shall go and visit my parents this afternoon. My father has a new Yorkshire Terrier puppy that my youngest daughter is anxious to see. My father has always been a great lover of animals. There has never been a time when he has not had dogs in the house. Seeing mum and sitting with her a while is something that tugs at my heart. As always, communication will be difficult as she struggles to speak (as a result of a stroke she had a few years ago). I know she will be happy to see us though.

Last Monday (that bad day I had) I took a walk down the bay and filmed some of the beach where I grew up and met my friend Paul. I've put this together as a video now and would like to share it with all of you. This takes on a different mood to my usual vids. If you have sound, then make sure you turn it up. You might just catch some of my commentary under the music.


(15 total)

This place is amazing.... The water, the land, the trees... wow!! No wonder you talk about it so much!

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 02:33AM (PDT)

Very touching Marty, places just like situations do change whether we want them to or not I guess mate, sometimes these changes can dilute our memories but yours of your friend Paul and the times you had together seem to remain fresh, we might not allways like change but I'm afraid they will happen no matter what and we must find a way to live with them. I guess I should sometimes at least try to listen to my own advice eh lol. Hope you are feeling a little better after your walk my friend.

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 11:12AM (BST)

Very nice video, Marty. Lovely place too! I'm sorry for your bad day you had, but I do wish you all the best. You have a wonderful Sunday, & thanks for the vid. Lovely footage!

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 12:58PM (BST)

Lovely video and beautiful place! My grandfather (on my moms side) loved animals. He always had miniture poodles. I wasn't a big fan of those dogs, but I sure loved the turltes he had out in his backyard! Hope you all have fun at your parents!

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 03:15PM (EEST)

How touching. Enjoy your day and especially the visit with your parents.

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 08:51AM (CDT)

Marty, that 'butterflies' idea of Sankaran's was pretty good, even though I did not take part myself, I read some great stories by those who did. I particularly liked Rainy's story.
Loved the vid Marty, it was good to get an image of the places you have told us about.

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 03:52PM (BST)

I loved Butterflies...a bitter-sweet comedy, bit like life really...

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 04:14PM (BST)

Hey Marty thats a cool video of the place you grew up in and I agree with you on Sankaran's effort to bring a lot of people together.. the effort paid off! :)

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 08:48PM (IST)

Really touching video Marty.

Salud to Sankaran for starting his own blog craze!

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 11:12AM (CDT)

Hey! And I am blushing! lolz

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 10:00PM (IST)

Marty, I am sorry for your bad day, but in another way, I am grateful for it. For, if not for your bad day, we may never have gotten a chance to see the lovely video of places that you hold so close to your heart. Walk in peace my dear friend...

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 02:25PM (EDT)

I loved all of it? Marty, you get better all time. Great video?

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 04:20PM (ADT)

Marty what a touching video that was....You did what too few of us do these days.... you opened the door to your past to remember the happy times although mixed with a little sadness. Hope your day has been good and that the family is well...It must be something to do with the day as I too have spent it with my family (when I finished work that is lol) xxx

Sunday 24 September 2006 - 08:21PM (BST)

Butterflies - when my cooking goes disastrously wrong my husband will ask if I've been having a Ria moment, in homage to wendy craig's character in that series

Monday 25 September 2006 - 01:25AM (BST)

I'm coming through late on these Marty and so am catching up on your blog. I agree that the butterflies experiment was an excellent one and the series and the originality that came out of it was magnificent.

Friday 29 September 2006 - 12:09PM (EDT)