Thursday, 30 October 2008

Near miss

So a few days ago on the bike I was turning right onto a fairly busy road (Albany Road into Brantingham Road to be exact). A line of parked cars to my right reducing visibility plus its a hump backed bridge and this quiet car comes fast over the hill. We both hit our brakes and he stops two feet away from me. 'All shook up, I'm all shook up' - who sang that - Elvis?

So I figures if I earlier turn right at the lights on to the main road - Wilbraham Road for you Chorltonites/Mancunians - and almost immediately take a left then that's probably a better route. The turning right is not without its challenges but the visibility is so much better.

It's been a mad time: yesterday an important step occurred in my work in Kenya (i.e.e we can at last begin to sign people up for the course) which will start in earnest God willing early January - watch this blog(!) and I sent my latest academic book (edited by me) off to my publisher this morning. One of these days it will be the novel!!

So I am wore out with 3 early mornings in a row - not by design, just me waking up. And its nearly 5pm now and I have a 2 hour class to teach...

Best to all,

Bill-on-bike and by heck its cold!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Len and Q in dialogue

(Note for new readers/the easily confused. Len and Q are both figments of my imagination. Len is half white Australian, half aboriginal. Q is the boss' spiritual director and is loosely based on some fine religion people I have met over the years. Still confused - if not you soon will be!)

"Hi Len the Boss told me a bit about your conversation on dreamtime and I was intrigued."
"Yes, he seemed to make a lot of sense of it. As you know us Abos have the idea of there being two realities. There's the ordinary one and what we call Alcheringa, which loosely translates as Dreamtime, which is the Reality behind the reality, if you like. When we go walkabout or with the boss it was cycleabout we connect more deeply with Dreamtime and maybe follow a Songline."
"Well now, all things were created during the Dreaming and the spirits left their marks on the landscape. A songline both celebrates these journeys of the spirit and acts as a kind of map to follow during walkabout."
"It sounds a bit like how the Boss talks about his training rides. He even makes up songs that include places and events."
"Yeah you know if we could get him to sing the parts of this blog that relate to his epic Lands End to John O'Groats journey that would be some Songline, I can tell you!"
"Do you mean that?"
"Yes, sure. Why should not Songlines be created now by individuals of such spirit? The Boss's thousand mile cycleride was some cyleabout I can tell you. And he certainly seemed to spend a far bit of his time in dreamtime"
"There's another thing. You Westerners tend to get caught up in theology too much with disputes about the nature of God and the Universe. Well now, you're mistaking the map for the territory. We Abos like your Quakers, Sufis and Buddhists experience it and talk about experiences but never mistake our words for the actual experience. You can't control how people experience Dreamtime. They just experience it! It is absurd to argue about words, it is also absurd to try and put the experience of Dreamtime into words. Dreamtime is Dreamtime. You are either experiencing it or not. Everything else is irrelevant."

Friday, 17 October 2008

Moscow Daze with Frankie

A missive from Domestos! Weeeell from the sunny Greek island of Domestos (up past Lesbos in a high speed jet ski and turn left) I have been accessing the Boss' blog from an internet niteclub would you believe. His story of our trip to Moscow is rather economical with the truth to say the least. No I did not pass out on the spare bed in Jane's room - well I might just have been resting briefly(!) but soon after I was out clubbing with one of Boris' secretaries who moonlights at this club called Potemkin. You can imagine the scene some great huge posters from the film and various bits of nautical artifacts and the bar staff all dressed up as sailors, dead cute - 'Hello sailor' I couldn't help but say it(!) but I got a filthy look back. 'Oh get you'. But the music and (my) dancing was ace, a lot of techno and house stuff and some tracks from the Pets Battleship Potemkin CD. Dead romantic and tragic.

Love and kisses,


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Boss becomes speechless on cycleabout

The Boss and his Australian friend Len have gone cycleabout which is a variation on the Aborigninal notion of walkabout. They are on a cycle track running alongside a canal somewhere 20 or so North of Manchester. The Boss is singing Waltzing Matilda with great gusto and nearly in tune. ("Nearly in tune, that's about as close to being in tune as I've been to a crock" says Len.)
"Hey Boss don't you know any other Aussie songs?"
"My only other Aussie song is 'I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky. lucky-"
"Okay, okay"

A few miles of companionable silence ensues.
"Boss how about some tucker?"
They stop with a glorious view of some Lancashire hills.
"Boss I've been thinking about what you wrote about spirituality on your bike. You remember the Aboringinal notion of 'dreamtime'? In The Last Wave, a film by Peter Weir, one of the characters says: "Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the "dreamtime", more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime."

"Well without inflating your ego Boss - which is probably big enough already your spiritual experience on the bike sounds rather like dreamtime to me. It's why us Abos go walkabout to re-connect with that truer greater reality dreamtime and I think you have stumbled across your own version of it on bicycle"

The Boss for once was speechless.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Pale Mourning in Moscow

This is from the Boss' archives/diary:

Four 4 hours I remember nothing at all and then fragments of memory start to emerge. I do feel surprisingly good, though I expect to pay for it later. And now I have to face the others.
"God was I wrecked last night!"
"And how," said Frances. This was a bad sign. What had I said? What had I done? Can I approach this cautiously? No!
"Was I... did I... you know... hmmm... did I do anything too dreadful?"
"Dymean did you jump on anyone?"
"No... Yes, ah..."
"No, you were surprisingly chaste-"
"But you did rave a lot about your sister and her Will or lack of one and you gave Vivian a good dressing down."
"Oh F***."
"F*** right. You told him to get his act together and to stop arsing about-"
"No more" I feel a bit ill.
"You want the truth AND sympathy?"
"No just a cappicino with a double shot."
"This is Moscow lover boy."
"F*** yes. I can't bear another Moscow breakfast."
"Where's Frankie?"
"The last I saw on him he was crashed out fully clothes on the spare bed in Jane's room."
"Huh huh."

And now the difficult part, "And Sylvia?"
"She's fine."
"You didn't?"
"No of course not." (Did I? Oh f*** I wish I could remember. I can just about remember the scene with Vivian it was after the fifth or sixth slug of vodka and-
"Good morning."
Oh f*** it's Petrova our culture guide.

Cross Fencing

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of once more attending a creative writing workshop run by Tony and Steve from paper planes. Their 12-4pm workshops are run in Withington in South Manchester hopefully on a monthly basis and are ace. For further details: email:

This is poem I wrote at the class:


You fell asleep
the other side of the fence
In the sunshine
And a criss-cross pattern
Was etched into your bare skin
It was a bugger to cover up
with make up

I love you for your carelessness
Clumsier than me
it was such a relief

So what happened?

Friday, 10 October 2008

The Boss goes cycleabout with Len

Now Len you understand is half white Australian half aboriginal. "The best of both Boss he assures" with a big grin. Born in the bush near Alice Springs he grew up in an aboriginal settlement with his mother before going away to school. Somehow Len is able to move between the two ill fitting cultures.
"Boss why are you Pommie bastards so hopeless with barbeques?" said Len with a twinkle in his eye.
"We are as good as barbies as you lot are at cycling?"
"Oh Yeah?"
"Oh Yeah!"
The Boss foolishly agreed. It was a bad move, a no brainer. Even when Len swapped his Dawes bike for the Boss' Rayleigh hybrid it made no difference. Len won by 15 minutes and the actual course took him 30!

Having got that out of their systems Len proposed they go cycelabout. It is rather like an aboriginal walkabout but on bikes.
"How do we do that Len?"
"Well we get some food and drink together and get on our bikes and head off."
"What about maps? Routes? Hotel? A tent?"
"Naw we'll just head off and see which way the wind blows us"
"Oh...OK," said a rather subdued Boss. "Oh what the heck it sounds fun."
"Sure thing Boss. Let's go"

To be continued or not!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Making a mess of a puncture repair

OK so it wasn't the best day for it. My real boss had been unable to secure any improvements in my team's contracts - despite all the extra work we were all doing - and they were all fed and pissed off and told me so - as if I had any power over contacts or budgets! Then I was carpeted for not doing some paperwork - Frankie where are you when I need you? (Singing "Frankie come back" to the tune of 'Baby come back' originally recorded by the Equals back in 1967 or 8? And then done again a bit more recently. I have a sudden flashback to the last day of my grammar school in 1968 up in the prefects room (Yes dear reader I was prefect but hated it and wished I had refused it) we had all been out for a lunch time drink and were a bit pissed and joyously had an impromptu sing of 'Baby come back' with one guitar and a lot of us improvising percussion.)

I turns me bike upside down, levers out most of the inner tube and begins to pump it up. I can hear the air leaking out but I can't quite find it. So I turn the wheel, lever out some more inner tube and pump some more. I can still hear it so I turn the wheel some more and then the bike falls over, the pump snaps, part of the pump attached to the valve breaks the valve, so I have lost one pump and one inner tube since a tube without a valve is useless - which is how I felt!

I do have a spare inner tube from my LEJOG days but no pump and no confidence that if I take off the back wheel to fit the new inner tube that I will easily be able to get it back on. I knew I should have stayed in bed.

Bill still not back on bike and grumpy!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bike Book Part Five

The story so far for new and confused readers. This is the 5th extract from my opus/novel about the adventures of Martin who never comes home one evening and disappears on his bike. I know what you may be thinking and my therapist asked, "I have to ask you William is this about to happen?". I don't think so but watch this space(!) or rather don't because if it were to happen this blog would probably go silent. It might go silent for other reasons so don't wait in hope or dread!

Bike Book Part 4 was put on the blog a couple of days ago and earlier parts were put on in May was it? and sooner or later I will put it all together in the right order or not. In the following extract Thomas's therapist is quizzed about his disappearance:

"Jane Baliniski?"
"DC Jackson and Matthews"
"Oh... do come in." Jane was a bit flustered, even though she was expecting them it still set her on edge. She waved them into comfortable chairs within her therapy room (that seemed to her the right place to talk to them in). She had a half smile on her face at the thought of engaging a police man and women in therapy - couple counselling indeed!
"As I told you over the phone there is a question of confidentiality between therapist and client-"
"We appreciate that Mrs is it? (Jane nodded, not wanting to score a feminist point) Baliniksi. But Thomas Marino is missing and we have found his bike at Beachy Head"
"Oh" gasped Jane suddenly feeling tearful.
"Yes... so we value any general information that you can give us."
"Especially about his mental state.... You were the last person to have seen him as far as we know."
"Oh... let me see... THomas, hmm... He seemed his usual self when he left."
At five o'clock?"
"Yes that was his regular time... But I had wondered. He had been less forthcoming somehow the last month or so. A bit out of reach, a bit like he was turning in on himself, almost closing down a little. You would hardly notice it."

"Would you describe him as suicidal?"
"Matthew? No, well not actively so, he might neglect himself as men can often do, especially when their marriages break up. But that's not the case for Matthew. Is it?"
She paused, "Listen I am telling you this is confidence, giving you some background-"
"We understand."
"Although Thomas wasn't that happy in his life, in his marriage, in his work, I really don't think he would take his own life, not the sort. However, I can imagine him leaving-"
"Home, work, friends, everything?"
"Why? Well there comes a time in many people's lives when they feel they have had enough, when the prospect of leaving their old life and starting anew is attractive. Many people dream of this."
"Yes, but" for there was an implied But.
"Yes, I know, would Thomas? I believe he would and he has the tenacity to do it. But what surprises me is that I didn't see it coming.... There was no hint of an approaching crisis..."
"Only the way he had been withdrawn you said?"
"A bit withdrawn yes... how did I miss it?"
"So if he hasn't killed himself but he has disappeared any thoughts of where he might have gone?"
"No he left behind his passport."

"Thank you for your help... Can we call on you again if necessary?"
"Yes of course."
A somewhat stunned Jane showed out the policeman and woman and then sat in her favourite armchair and stared into space, 'What on earth are you doing Thomas and where the hell have you gone?"

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Frankie, a Greek Goddess and other stories

In case you were wondering the email from a Greek Goddess to Frankie was not of my creating. The Greek Goddess is of course independent of this blog. Not that I am adverse to female characters appearing here. Indeed one named Stacey is on the way but I would not compare Stacey to a Greek Goddess ("Steady on Boss!" - Stacey). No Stacey has more of a Northern European nature ("Hmm" says a doubtful Stacey, "you are digging yourself some hole here Boss"). Meanwhile I wont deny the speculation that an Australian character named Len with shortly appear here ("Strewth mate!" - Len).

On the way to work to day, on my bike, in the drizzle, I get a puncture after passing though Alexander Park about half way to work. When I get punctures rare but they do happen it always seems to be around the Park. I can moan and complain about it but really I was so blessed on my 1,000+ miles LEJOG ride I got no punctures at all and so far no punctures on my training rides.

Best to all,

Bill not bike until I get it repaired.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Bike Cycle Story Part Four

When I wrote my poem for Neil and Chris I came across this poem/book chapter that I had not put here on the blog. Part five will follow soonish. Early parts are back in May etc.

Bike Cycle Story Part Four

God there’s a sign for Beachy Head
Wouldn’t it be fun if…
I’ll cycle there and see how I feel

I feel scared
Looking over the edge
Hearing the surf
Smelling the sea

No, I won’t jump
But I will
I will
Throw the bike
Over the edge

It goes
And crashes

I turn away
Dawn is breaking
I’m not

I feel free
Free of the bike
Free to walk away
No more cycling
On these weary legs for now

I throw a coin
Left to Cornwall
Right to Dorset
Cornwall it is.

Poem for Neil and Chris

Poem for Neil and Chris

Back in 1990
On my Walkman
Neatly filled in the time
Between my home and my new lover’s

Your words were
A backdrop to my new passion
Your soft centred irony
Allowed my own mushiness
See the light of day

Your melancholy poetry spoke to my soul
And my being danced to your music.

Frankie gets an email from a Greek Goddess

Frankie asked me to run this email here:

Dear Frankie

this is a Greek Goddess speaking :), i heard you went to this island called Domestos? tell me more about your experience there....where did you find it on the map? how does it look like and why did you choose to visit?

there is a rumour that you are gay (???) what a pity as i reckon that you are a cool guy...and it is scary when the imbalanced ratio between men and women on the globe is going so crazy that, for a woman to find a man seems to be getting more and more difficult. also, just to inform you that the rumour around Lesvos being the island with homosexual history is a completely distorted version of many western scholars misinterpreting ancient Greek script....i do not hold anything against one's preferences in sexual expression but also, it is so frustrating when the mostly magic scripts around what love means (and it is 'love of spirits' that Plato refers to in the Symposium, not sleeping with each other as many have read it due to the lack of extensive and variated vocabulary around types of love in other languages). So, if you want to have wild life in Greece, go to Mykonos where there is a version of Manchester's Canal Street but under sunshine and is mostly occupied by tourists....but if you'd rather want to reflect on your true essence, then visit Delphi

you shall start learning ancient Greek, Frankie, to be able to read the real stuff yourself, do not trust the translations please

and...take good care of the Boss, he is a remarkable man!

the Goddess

Friday, 3 October 2008

Spiritual help

At work yesterday talking with a colleague C I suddenly realised something important. It goes like this:

The 12 Step programme used by AA and other addicts starts with a first step:
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable."
and then says:
"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

It seems to me that we, the human race, are just not getting together to truly face the ecological challenge of climate chance. The current financial crisis has caused these issues to slip down the political agenda at a time when we are running out of time. The longer it goes on without effective action being taken the greater the action needed. So why not admit our powerlessness to make the necessary changes?

The next step is to recognise we need spiritual help, not as in leave it all it all to God but as in we need spiritual support to truly face the challenge of global warming. To realise that we are unlikely to save human life on the planet without doing so.

And this does not have to be about belief. It can be seen to be about experience. Time is too short and precious for theological debate and argument. (We don't have the luxury of the time the Christian churches have had to figure out equality issues around women and gays!) The simple truth of when two or more people are gathered in a loving encounter then more (spiritual) resource is available. We need this extra help. It's not religious its spiritual, its freely available you don't have to believe only feel the truth that we are all part of creation we are all in this together we are all interlinked with one another and the planet. We just (just!) need to live this out.

Best to all,


The Boss meets Q

After breaking down in sobs in the office during Frankie's holiday absence on the Greek island of Domestos (Not Lesbos as widely rumoured!)the Boss sought an emergency session with his spiritual director Q. Now read on:

"Hi Boss you sounded awfully troubled when you rang me up"
"Yes, it just felt all too much for me, coping with so much going on at work and no Frankie. And however much I slag him off and however imperfectly he performs he makes a real difference. And you know I miss him.... what's wrong with me?
"Hmm... It sounds all too human to me."
"Whatcha mean?"
"Well it's the busiest time of your year, right?"
"And Frankie, key player in your team is away, right?"
"Any arrangements in place to cover for his absence"
"Well no, I just got on with things, He had done all he could before he left-"
"Remember how often you have told me that it's an impossible job?"
"Uh huh"
"So when a key player of your team is not there, and let's face Frankie above all acts as your gatekeeper and your emotional lodestone?"
"He carries your emotional side, he allows you to have emotions, he embodies emotions, he paradoxically keeps you on an emotional even keel however strange that idea might seem"
"Oh (pause) what can I do?"
"Well what do you need practically?"
"Some kind of cover while he is away, however imperfect"
"Good and now what about your emotional side?"
"I find it really hard to admit these feelings"
"And I guess as a result they just build up until the dam bursts and the overwhelm me"
"Would it be so hard just to acknowledge your feelings from time to time?"
"The idea sounds simple but..."
"I dunno"
"OK how are you feeling now?"
"Relieved, calmer able to go back to work and get on with things"

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Frankie's on Domestos

So my colleague Neil asked me recently 'How's Frankie?" How's Frankie indeed! Not here just when I need him. There I am battling into work through the driving rain on me bike get to work gasping for a coffee and no Frankie! (And no Raquel serving the coffee's either!) Then I remember he's grabbed a late cheap holiday on a Greek island - Domestos or something! I am sure he would welcome your emails - as he suns hismelf on the beach!

So here I am in the office surrounded by papers, books, memoes, phone calls, visitors, double bookings, too many meetings, just been carpeted by 3 professors - and no Frankie!

I can't go on (sob!)


Message from Bill-on-bike - The Boss was rather overcome just then so I have sent him off for an emergency session with Q. Normal blogging will be resumed as soon as possible!