Wednesday 20 March 2013

The Joy of Bluffing

The reason that I’ve worked in the telecommunications industry for 28 years is as a direct result of a very short conversation that took place in the Army Careers Information Office on Fountain Street in Manchester, in February 1985.
Having done as much research as a sixteen year old can do, without anything as useful as the internet, I walked in and addressed the recruiting Sergeant confidently.
“Hello, I would like to join the Military Police.”
He looked me up and down, with a squint and replied,
“Nah, son. You want to join the Royal Signals.”

Unaware that I was simply helping him fill quotas, I folded faster than Superman on laundry day and agreed with him that the Royal Corps of Signals - whatever it happened to be - was the organisation to which I should commit my immediate and long-term future.
Almost three decades later, I’m working in the same industry and occasionally find it as bewildering as I did at the age of sixteen.
I was on a four day course last week that left me wondering, “How the fuck did I end up doing this?”
At one point, the excited instructor, after making a particularly technical point, exclaimed,
“And that’s the beauty of Quadrature Phase Shift Keying!”

I wanted to cry. I know you haven’t got the first idea what it means, but neither have I! The difference is, I’m supposed to know. The only thing I had in my armoury was the classic bluffing action of nodding sagely, but not giving him enough eye contact to further engage me.
I then moved it on a step and pretended to be reading something in the précis that accompanied the course.
I’ve been doing this sort of thing for a very long time. When you’re a consummate bluffer like me, you have to learn fast and employ various strategies to ensure that no one knows you’re bluffing so that you get to keep your job, car, house, family and the capacity to pay for takeaways and beer.
Since 1985, whenever I’ve been asked something I don’t know - by someone who knows that I should know - whether on a course or going about my daily job, I’ve done one of the following things to manage the situation:
  • Changed the subject.
  • Pretended to have seen something really interesting over the other person’s shoulder.
  • Farted and wafted.
  • Answered a phone that wasn't ringing.
  • Forced a coughing fit.
  • Pretended I couldn’t hear them.
  • Nipped to the toilet and looked up what they were asking me on Wikipedia.
  • Promised them an answer at an unspecified date in the future.
  • Paid them a compliment.
  • Fabricated some confusion by asking if we were in the same unit in the army.
  • Did that ‘yawn - stretch thing’ to give myself a couple of valuable seconds to invent an answer.
It’s very tiring and you always have to be thinking, but after a while it becomes second nature.
I often wonder what the ratio is, of bullshitters like me, to people who actually know what they’re talking about.

Even on the course last week, our instructor - ten levels higher on the boffin scale than any of us in the class and a man who spoke in mathematical formulae - fucked up a couple of times and revealed a couple of chinks in his intellectual armour. When someone timidly put up an arm and questioned a couple of his figures, he checked and rechecked, realised he’d fucked it up, then forced a coughing fit and promised them an answer at an unspecified date in the future.
Maybe everyone’s at it. It would be a comfort to imagine Einstein getting home after a day working with the Olympia Academy and confiding in his wife that he’d nearly been rumbled by blagging Conrad Habicht that he knew all about Experimental Physics, but had extricated himself from the situation by pointing out of the window and shouting,
“Look! It’s a tawny owl!”

I suppose it would be better to focus on the things I’m good at, despite them having no practical use whatsoever, and let the bluffing tactics carry me through to 65, 67, 69 in my day job.
What I can do, that I think is good, is:
  • An excellent impression of a newborn kitten.
  • Recall all the words to the Hovis ‘Runaway’ advert from 1979.
  • Remember pretty much everything that’s happened to Ken Barlow since 1977.
  • An uncannily accurate impression of a milk bottle emptying.
  • Half decent robotics in the car, whenever Kraftwerk are on the radio.
  • Hide food items under other food items in the work cafeteria so I don’t have to pay for them.
  • Eat an extra large Zam Zam’s kebab in the time it takes me to walk home from The Lloyds pub.
When you look at it objectively, that’s not a bad little bunch of achievements for 44 years on the planet.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Old People are Great

I was in the supermarket on Saturday and watched an exchange between an old lady and the girl on the checkout.

The girl on the checkout was a bit stressed. I would be too. It can’t be much fun having to sit there for hours whilst your bum goes numb and you have to watch other people going about their daily business and probably off to do more interesting things than you. Just having to say, “Do want help with your packing?” in a way that communicates that no aid would be forthcoming if the customer was ever daft enough to say, ‘Yes’, must bring its own mental burden.

She could have been nicer to the old lady, though. I subscribe to the opinion that advanced age should entitle the OAP to a bit of respect. Not ‘Prostrate myself whilst you lecture me about rationing’ respect. Just, ‘You’ve been around a lot longer than me and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt’ respect.

The old lady was short 2 quid on her bill of 65 quid. She was distressed at not having enough money, distressed at the fact that the girl on the checkout was saying repeatedly, ‘You’ll have to put something back,’ and distressed that she was holding up the queue.

I had a quick check in my pocket, then leant over and stuck two pound coins in the cashier’s hand, smiled at the embarrassed but grateful old lady and allowed us all to get on with our day with minimal fuss.

I’m an old people lover. Not in a way that might require counselling or corrective training, I find them fascinating. I always have done. My own grandparents were all dead before I really got to know them and I was always a little bit envious of my mates who would pop in to their grans on the way home. I’d sometimes tag along and would really enjoy those visits, not just for the biscuits and endless tea, but because they had interesting things to say. It was an absorbing experience to try and square the sparrow-like, little ladies with their tales of putting out fires and saving lives during World War 2 or driving through Europe in the 1950s.

I even quite enjoyed the suspicion that a lot of what was being related might have been embellished a bit or could have even been out and out bullshit. So what? They were great, colourful stories and there was – probably – a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

A lot of the things about getting old must be shite. I’m only in my mid 40s but lament the fact that my bones and joints creak a lot more when I play 5 a-side. If I imagine another 30 years of reduced mobility and failing eyesight, I can see why some of them come across as curmudgeonly and that embroidering your past a bit might be an enjoyable way to pass the years.

Of course, the inexorable march of time isn’t all bad. Old people get to do things that we can’t. They can wear trousers up to their armpits and say what they like. My wife’s grampa, who died a few years ago, was a classic example. He used to love coming out with outrageous statements, always suggesting that shotguns or other firearms presented ready solutions to most modern problems like peaceful protest or traffic jams. Some in the family used to take what he said at face value and upbraid him in shocked tones. He always made me laugh, though, as I could see that he was doing it for effect. Basically, he was saying,

“I’m 85, I can’t drive anymore, I can’t drink the whiskey I love any more and I’m pretty much immobile. One of the pleasures I still have in my life, is the look on your bloody face when I suggest that the Newbury bypass protesters should all be blown out of trees with shotguns.”

I was in another supermarket a few years ago, getting my lunch, when I spotted a very old chap, who looked bewildered. He was standing in the entrance with two full shopping bags and something in his body language made me ask him if he was alright.

He replied in a sad and resigned voice, “I can’t remember where I live.”

The people in Sainsburys didn’t consider this their problem when I took him to Customer Services, he’d already spent his money so they weren’t interested. Eventually, after playing twenty questions, we worked it out between the two of us that he lived round the corner in sheltered flats. I walked him back to my car and gave him a lift there. In the five minutes that it took us to get there, I had a conversation with this confused old man, who looked like he weighed six stone, wet through.

It turned out that during the Second World War, he’d flown a Sunderland Bomber, helping to counteract the German U-boat threat and helping to rescue sailors from torpedoed ships. He’d flown with distinction throughout the war and along with his mates, had been responsible for saving hundreds of lives.

He might have just been blagging me, to save himself the taxi fare and fair play to him if he had, but I suspect that people like him are getting fewer and further between so we should be nice to them while we still can.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Kerb Falling

Last Wednesday, I came a bit closer to dying a daft death than was comfortable.

Because her car’s off the road, I dropped my wife off at the Art class that she teaches in Didsbury. I had an hour to kill, so thought I’d go for a little stroll, buy a paper, have a coffee and then go and pick her up.

I ambled down the main street in Didsbury, stopped off in the newsagents and then carried on walking. It was a sunny afternoon and time was on my side so I wanted to select my brew location carefully. Not too empty, but not too full (of prams or loud people). When I came to the end of the row of shops, I was daydreaming a bit and didn’t notice that the kerb dropped away. I stepped into three inches of space and went down like a sack of spuds.

Before I knew it, I was performing a primary-school-level forward roll into a busy road. It was my good fortune that I didn’t time my Luis Suarez dive at the same moment that a bus was passing, as I’d have been simply flattened, the bus driver would have been traumatised and one or two people on the bus would have took their Ipod earplugs out and said,

“Ooh, what was that?”

I quickly jumped up and experienced a quick snapshot of reaction to my tumble. As I got out of the puddle that I’d fallen into, a lad walking past gave me a quick glance and clearly thought,

“Uh-oh, pisscan alert!!”

He studiously avoided eye contact and kept walking.
Two old blokes in a van, waiting in traffic on the other side of the road were pointing at me and howling with laughter.

To be fair, I was in a bit of a state and must have looked a right nana. I fully defend their right to take the piss and would have joined in, had I not just had a brief flirtation with the Grim Reaper.

Another guy came out of a restaurant, concern etched deep in his face.

“Are you alright, mate?”

I gave the standard British Male response to his enquiry, despite all evidence to the contrary.

“I’m absolutely fine, thanks.”

I picked my newspaper up out of a puddle and threw it in the bin. Exposure to my own mortality hadn’t subsumed the skinflint in me, as I chucked it, thinking

“One pound twenty down the swanny!”

Through the power of Google Earth, I can show you the exact location of my mishap. It’s that bit between the two bollards and the lamp-post.

It’s hardly the Grand Canyon is it?

When I’d had time to think about it over a brew later, I cringed at the thought of my wife having to explain the circumstances of my downfall at my funeral.
With the embarrassment increasing slightly with each telling, she’d say to concerned relatives and friends, who were clearly trying not to laugh.

“Well… he fell off a kerb.”

“Oh! Was it a big kerb?”

“No, the problem was more with the bus than the kerb.”


Monday 4 February 2013

The Perpetual Poppadom Puzzler

We’ve used the same Indian take-away for the last ten years.

The Mahbub is a brilliant little place. The food is always great and sometimes excellent. The prices are fair and Amir and the lads that run it are always friendly. You can see your food being prepared in the front-of-house kitchen and they’re even nice enough to offer you a coffee while you wait (though only for main courses, cautions the sign!).

I love my take-aways and I’m a creature of habit. Once I find the right one for my pocket and taste, my loyalty is steadfast. As well as the Mahbub, Mario’s Pizza (till it closed) and The China Garden earned my allegiance through the simple process of not charging too much, getting the order right and knocking out lovely food that requires no preparation or effort on my part.

I only have one problem with the Mahbub and it comes in the form of the occasional freebies they chuck in to my order – or don’t!

There’s absolutely no consistency to Amir deciding whether to drop a couple of extra poppadoms or bhajis into the bag when I come to collect. If I’m in luck, he tips me a quick wink and says,

“There’s a couple of extra bits in there for you, Charlie.”

I say ‘thank you’ in a way that tries to convey surprise rather than expectation. As soon as I’m in the car, I frantically check my booty, then do a quick air-punch because I’ve got 80p’s worth of big crisps for free. It is a scientifically proven fact that stuff you have to pay for does not taste as nice as stuff you get for free. I’m not going to dig out the research, just accept what I say.

But then I’ll go in on another day and get nothing.
All the circumstances are the same. The order is similarly priced, I’ve not done anything to offend him (I think), but the poppadoms are not forthcoming.

He’s still friendly, but there’s no wink. The reassuring weight increase of the bag is absent. I go to the car and check and sure enough, the order is exactly as dialled in. Nothing extra. I might not have even eaten them but I wish they were there. Anyone walking past the car would think i'd just had some really bad news.
They'd be forgiven for tapping on the window and asking if I was alright.

"Yeah... i'm ok. They never gave me any complimentary food in the take-away."

This is the trouble and I’ve spent a decade trying to work it out. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to my likelihood of getting a bit of free scran. None of the following factors seem to affect my chances:

Size of order.
Price of order.
Longevity of small-talk conversation with Amir.
How busy or empty the shop is.
Proximity to any of the National or Religious holidays.
Proximity to mine or Amir’s birthdays.
Day of the week.
Time of the evening.
Production of a sob story about recent utility bills.
Casual reference to how many kids I have.

The dispensing of the poppadoms seems to be an entirely random act, beyond my ability to predict or guess.

Purely in the interests of research, I’ve purchased take-aways from the Mahbub an average of once a month. In 120 visits I’ve failed to identify a pattern.

Maybe it’s a big game that the lads in the Mahbub play. Although the customers are always nice, it can’t be much fun working in a hot kitchen all evening, so anything that helps to entertain whilst time is passing has got to be a good thing.

I can imagine, just after I’ve left with my little heart broken, despondent at getting seen off and feeling that Amir might not be my friend anymore, that this conversation might well occur.

Bloke Who Works the Tandoori Oven – “Bloody hell, Amir, you’re really messing with his head.”

Amir (laughing) – “I know. Did you see his face? I thought he was going to start crying.”

BWWTO – “You’re a tight bastard. You should go after him and give him a free Chicken Chaat. I bet you’ve ruined his evening.”

Amir – “You know the rules. I have to get him to the point where he grabs me by my lapels and begs me to tell him the secret of what he has to do, to consistently be given those little extras he loves.”

BWWTO – “I know, mate. But I reckon you’ve gone too far. Most people cave in after a year or two. This bloke’s been coming back for gone ten years. I reckon you might send him over the edge.”

Amir – “No, I know what I’m going to do next time. When he comes in, I’m going to shake his hand and ask him all about his family. I’m going to congratulate him on being one of our nicest, regular customers. I’m going to talk wistfully about my plans for the future and share a cup of coffee with him. Then I’m not going to give him the free poppadoms. As well as that, I’m going to give him two of those shit bags of salad that nobody eats. If that doesn’t do it, I’ll give up and just tell him.”

BWWTO – You’re a cruel man, Amir, but I like your style.

Friday 25 January 2013

Gym Bollocks

It was my birthday last Saturday and I was lucky enough to be treated with a night away at a posh hotel. It was just me and my wife for 24 hours. With no kids and a criminally large supply of chocolate and booze, we were set for a pleasant stay.

To try and offset the imminent overindulgence, I headed down to the gym. I shouldn’t say gym, because the hotel actually described it as a ‘Technogym’. Intrigued to find out what this meant, I headed in there. It turned out that a Technogym isn’t somewhere that plays Pump Up the Jam whilst you exercise, it just means that all the equipment is really complicated. I wanted to do my usual 10k on the rowing machine, but I had to tell it my life story first. Many questions were asked about my background and suitability to sit on the machine. I answered them all stoically, did my row and got out of there.

This is why I don’t really do gyms. Because they are generally bollocks. The modern day gym is crammed with so many distractions, I’m amazed that people have time to actually do any exercise. While I was on the rower, I watched a bloke wander in. In the twenty minutes he was there, he did the following:

Had a drink of water.
Did a couple of lunges with major breath exhalation.
Watched the news.
Nodded his head to a tune on MTV.
Ate a boiled sweet.
Watched me on the rowing machine, seemingly assessing my technique.
Tried to work out the bench press machine, then gave up.
Looked out of the window.
Adjusted his shorts to get his balls just how he liked them.

He finished off by doing that stretch where you put your arm over your head and end up looking like the dead bloke from Deliverance.

That was it. A sum total of bugger all. He’d have burnt more calories standing outside and smoking a rolly.

When I was leaving, I clocked a machine that offered me a ‘Body Composition Analysis’. I stood on it for a couple of minutes and it printed out a page of results that I’ll never have the mental capacity to understand. Apparently my Segmental Edema is 0.331 on the ECF/TBF and 0.377 on the ECW/TBW. No? Me neither. I also have a value of 31.2 in my Intracellular Water. I took great comfort from the provision of this utter load of bollocks.

I subscribe to an old fashioned school of thought that says that exercise and staying fit is really quite straightforward. When I was in the army, the gym was a place of work. You tried to stay out of there, because horrible amounts of exercise took place in them, under the supervision of Physical Training Instructors, who could only be distracted by mirrors.

The fun never stopped and the sessions were cheerfully referred to as beastings. If you were spotted trying to get a breather, you were sent to hang on the wall bars with the other skivers.

For most of us, it was much more preferable to go out for a run.

To do this, you put on a pair of trainers and root around to find your smelliest t-shirt and least smelliest socks. Then you go outside and run until you’ve had enough. At the end of the run you can conduct a low-tech Body Composition Analysis by asking yourself the following question.

Am I knackered?

If the answer to the question is yes, congratulations! You can go home, as you now have some ‘beer in the bank’. This same BCA can be applied to all forms of exercise. That’s how complex it needs to be.
The true guru of exercise was Victor Comic character Alf Tupper, or ‘Tough of the Track’.

Without needing to wear enough gadgetry to land a space shuttle, Alf would beat all the monocle-wearing cads of the Amateur Athletics Association after working as a welder for twelve hours then eating fish and chips.

I imagine that if anyone had enquired as to his ‘Visceral Fat Area’ he’d have just welded them to his bench!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The Little Things

Like most people, Wednesday the 2nd of January dawned for me with the horrible realisation that it was time to head back into work. I’d had a great holiday with the kids and spent loads of time with friends and family. I’d kidded myself that this might just extend right into January and that everyone would think that I’d never had a job, allowing me to live 2013 in a manner similar to Prince Andrew.

I haven’t got a particularly stressful job. I don’t have to teach children, nurse sick people or dig holes in the roads during winter. I don’t have to spend months away from home, wondering if today might be the day that me, or one of my mates, step on something that changes our lives forever.

I work in that most magnolia of settings, the modern day office. I have access to a phone, the internet and hot beverages. I don’t have anyone timing my toilet breaks or cracking the whip over me. I have nothing to moan about.

But that wouldn’t be human would it?

Everything is relative and I moan just as much now as when I really had something to moan about. The cushiness of my current number, as compared to my life as a junior soldier, bears almost no comparison. This was a world where being messed about and having your life turned upside down at a moment’s notice was part of the job description. Any dissent or grumbling was always met with the sneeringly cutting response of,

“If you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined!”

Which was right, of course. If I think of the difference between my world then and my world now, I can’t believe I’ve found something to whine about. But I have and it’s the IT bloke who sits quite near to me.

He’s not in my team and I don’t even know his name, but he sits just close enough for me to hear his conversations, both on the phone and in person, with his other IT colleagues.

I know that the IT geezers in any office come in for a bit of ridicule. When they were at university they thought they were going to change the world. Five years later, they’re showing bell-ends how to turn computers on. It must be galling. No amount of Star Wars or Goth band t-shirts are going to put it right, so an airy disdain for their colleagues is all they have to distinguish themselves from the rest of us.

That’s not what does my head in about this guy, though. Yes, he has some of the stereotypical accoutrements you would expect to see on an IT bloke’s desk: phone with a Star Trek ringtone; slightly controversial poster; nine monitor screens; and a mouse that’s different to everyone elses. He also wears an earpiece arrangement that suggests he guards the President. He can have all that and go out at the weekends with his mates, dressed like this.

I’m not bothered. If he’d just stop speaking entirely in clichés, I wouldn’t know he was there. He uses all the expressions that I don’t like, the ones that people use to indicate that they’re a bit cool and wacky whilst proving the opposite.

Here is an abridged list from last week:

“I’m not three bad.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
“Morning, campers.”
“Not a happy bunny.”
“He’s thrown his teddy in the corner.”
“Do I not like that?”
“Exsqueeze me?”

He also leans towards the use of military metaphor whilst talking about the most unmilitary things imaginable. On a recent conference call, he remarked that he and his colleagues needed to ‘go over the top’ and ‘dominate the high ground’ with regards to a software update. He added that they should, ‘watch his tracer’ and ‘get some boots on the ground.’

I’m well aware that I’m being intolerant and that he is probably doing a similar blog today, where he vents his spleen about having to sit next to an ex-squaddie with a Mancunian accent, straight from central casting, who spends a farcical amount of time drinking coffee or telling people jokes they’ve heard before.

In a funny way, we’re helping each other get through the week and avoiding the fact that we’re locked in this room till we’re 67.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Simply Brilliant!!

Last night, I sat in front of the TV and felt a bit sad. There were no obscure sports for me to watch. I couldn’t pretend that I knew about judo throws or what the finer points of dressage were.

Like many other cynical bastards, I was completely sideswiped by the Olympic Games. I’ve spent the last four years sneering at that epitome of smarm, Sebastian Coe, as he and all his mates bullshitted us about how well our money was being spent. I seethed at the thought of people being laid off and hospitals closing, as taxpayer’s cash poured into London. The casual way that they announced, ‘Oh, did we say 2 billion? Sorry we meant 9 billion’ had me wanting to kick the telly, as it all happened with the backdrop of the rest of the nation, outside the Olympic bubble, trying to cope with the realities of recession.
I enjoyed the announcement that the security had been fucked up and the roads might not be ready in time, as it affirmed my belief that this was all going to be an horrendous waste of time and money. I chuckled when it appeared that passport control would be in meltdown and that some of the athletes might be in the queue to get into the country till Christmas.

And then the games started.

I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. All the points above are salient, but the athletes melted my cynicism cataracts away for two weeks. Because, in the end, that’s what it was all about. It was the athletes that continuously displayed the lost art of winning and losing graciously. When Jessica Ennis won her heptathlon gold, what happened after the final race? All the athletes walked round the track with her, slapping her on the back and chatting amongst themselves as if they were on the way to the pub. There were women amongst them who’d spent the last four years completely focussed on coming away with a gold medal in their hands, yet they were capable of acknowledging their defeat and congratulating the winner.

As a football fan, the scales fell from my eyes over the last fortnight and I don’t think I’ll ever watch my chosen sport in the same way again. Footballers in general have continued their slow descent into moral repugnance since the money of the Premier League put them on a different planet to everyone else - a planet where they could do as they pleased and still be considered ‘heroes’ if they scored a goal. The next time I see a player dive, as if a sniper has took him out, I’ll immediately think of Manteo Mitchell. He’s the American sprinter who ran 300m on a broken fibula. It snapped 100m into his leg of the 4 x 400m. He said he didn’t want to let his three mates down, so he carried on and still got round in 45 seconds.

How can I sit and watch a player holding his face when the replay shows no contact, without immediately thinking of Mark Hunter - the British rower - who had put so much effort into winning a silver medal, he had to be carried from his boat by Steve Redgrave.

The moments just kept coming. I sat on the sofa - barely able to swallow - when Gemma Gibbons won her judo silver, then looked up and mouthed that she loved the mother she’d lost to leukaemia in 2004.

Then feeling so sorry for the broken-hearted, Korean fencer, Shin Lam as she sobbed her way through an hour long protest at her controversial defeat.

For me though, Mo Farah’s achievement on the track is impossible to surpass. My kids already loved him. They’d watched him a few weeks before, becoming the first person to beat The Cube on a celebrity edition of the programme. For my bunch, this was something easily on a par with Olympic gold, so when he took to the track, looking like the most relaxed bloke in the stadium, he already had six fans in his back pocket. Before the games, I don’t think I’d have got a great response if I’d said to my kids,

“Right, sit down for half an hour. We’re going to watch a load of lads run round the track 25 times, when they’ll have completed 10,000 metres. Hopefully our lad will win.”

But, like millions of people round the country, they did watch it and were absolutely riveted by his performance. When he came round the final bend and we realised he wasn’t going to be caught, we roared him over the line. I thought to myself that this was a moment my children would never forget and I was already looking forward to reminiscing with them in years to come.

But he wasn’t done, was he? The 10,000 would have been plenty for everyone and we could warm ourselves for years to come with images of him hugging his daughter and wife on the track.

But then he had to go and win the bloody 5,000 as well. We had friends round that evening and before the race, we discussed the sombre facts that this wasn’t really Mo’s distance and there were a lot of runners in the field who’d gone quicker than him this year. Not that any of us had the first idea about distance running. The Olympics had taught us that nobody minded you regurgitating what Claire Balding or Michael Johnson had said and passing it off as your own, informed opinion.

With each of his steps on the last lap, we got closer to the telly and the kids screams of, ‘Go on, Mo!’ got higher. We tried to warn him about the Ethiopian lad who was going like a train down the home straight. He couldn’t hear us, but it didn’t matter, because Mo started going faster as well. Watching him cross that line was right up there with me being in the Nou Camp in 1999 and seeing Solskjaer’s injury-time winner.

We were just so happy for him and I’m not sure we’ll see another moment like it.

Now, I need to get back to being angry about Cameron and his cronies chucking all of our money away on sporting events, whilst they sell off playing fields and help kids get fatter, but if you don’t mind I’m just going to hang on until the Paralympics are finished.

I remember Ellie Simmonds blubbing her way through her gold medal interview, after she’d won the S6 100m freestyle in Beijing, so I think I’m going to have a bit more of that before I revert to type.