Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 217: Winter Blues

This morning I ventured outside and for the first time in three weeks, I started the Tiger. It came to life on the first touch of the button and I’d forgotten just how satisfying the sound of the exhaust note could be. It’s been eight weeks since I’ve ridden the bike any distance. I swung my leg over the bike but sadly no joy,…. only tears. On Wednesday Dave Gurman telephoned to inform me that the new model Daytona 675 was awaiting my arrival at the Triumph factory in Hinckley. My favourite production bike, a trip to the south of France, a day of fun on the circuit at Cadwell Park,… but I can’t bloody ride. On Friday, John Newman sent me an email asking if Dave had managed to arrange a time for me to collect the Daytona, ….. and that was like rubbing salt into a very sore wound.

On Tuesday I made it to the Doctor’s and confirmed that it did actually hurt when he performed that little manoeuvre with his fingers. He announced that it looked like a hernia and I almost abandoned what remained of my will to live. He didn’t seem at all phased by the fact that I was recovering from a hernia operation, the objective of which I had assumed was to remove the problem,… or perhaps I was just expecting far too much. The result at the moment seems to be that I attend my follow-up surgical appointment in ten weeks time. If the surgeon then confirms that I do in fact still have a hernia, which given the fact that it’s twice the size that it was pre-surgery seems assured, then I’ll be added to the waiting list for further surgery. That would mean a second operation in September and no riding until October at the earliest,… deep joy.

Perhaps mistakenly, and certainly without any desire to elicit an obvious comparison between brothers, I sent pictures of my nether regions to Alan in California. Being the elder brother, he seems to have enjoyed my discomfort over the weeks and has scoffed at my protestations of pain. When I informed him that I’d actually turned black, he simply didn’t believe me. The pictures I hoped would make him understand that I wasn’t whining without reason. It worked, they actually brought him to tears, but unfortunately they were tears of laughter. So impressed was he that those pictures are now in the process of being distributed throughout the close knit community in the Anderson Valley,… I so look forward to my next visit to Boonville. On a slightly more serious note, they also reminded him that three of his lambs still needed to be castrated,…. and I apologise to each of them.

If ’Cabin Fever’ exists, then I’m definitely beginning to suffer from it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being lazy, I just don’t react well to being stationary. The walls of my room are getting smaller every day and since discovering the lost art of walking on Wednesday, I’ve taken to writing in a small and ramshackle greenhouse at the foot of the garden. I can’t stand up for any length of time because of gravity, and I can’t sit for any length of time because of swelling, so I recline on an old broken sun lounger and knock out reams of crap on my laptop. The neighbours probably think that I’m barking, and it’s actually quite difficult to disagree with them. I’ve been promised a travel voucher following my long and eventful journey to Thailand last November, but I’ve now been waiting almost four weeks for it’s arrival. When it arrives, assuming that I can walk and tow a suitcase on wheels, then I’ll be off. If I’m going to be restricted to a sun lounger, then a sun lounger under the sun and an endless supply of cheap food and Mekong whiskey will be infinitely preferable to a Braintree greenhouse in Winter.

HM Revenue & Customs have kept their word and sent out my third ‘Activation Code’, the necessary password that they insist on sending out by Royal Mail in order to complete your tax return on-line. For obscure reasons of security, they can’t simply email it to me. Perhaps they feel that the internet is not yet secure enough for the delivery of my password,… yet they deem it secure enough to accept the finer details of my bank accounts and finances. Anyway, true to form the Inland Revenue have sent the Activation Code to my old address,… yes the apartment that burned down, … yes for the third time. I’m not sure how much clearer I can make it for them, the letters that I receive from them arrive at my new home without problem, their systems apparently only hold my new address, … I give up.

While I’ve been writing this, there are two guys riding up and down the street on a KTM Super Duke and a Triumph Street Triple. The bikes sound gorgeous, the burble of the exhaust notes make my hairs stand on end as they drop down the gears into the roundabout before accelerating back up the hill. I haven’t seen them around here before but they’ve been up and down at least ten times in the last hour. Perhaps they’ve been sent here to tease me, …….it’s working, … I wish they’d bugger off somewhere else.

Post 216: Rebuild Broken

It's been quite a week, probably the most inactive week of my life so far. I hadn't expected to be lifting weights in the gym at this stage, but I had at least expected to be walking. To be fair, by Wednesday I was walking around the house and on Saturday I even walked to the local store, but that 100 yards has proven to be just a few steps too far. The external stitching seems to be healing quite nicely,.... but the parts of my anatomy that shall remain politely unmentioned have this week enjoyed a psychedelic journey through the full spectrum of colours before finally coming to rest in a deep shade of claret. 'Navy Blue' had been alarming, 'Satin Black' had been eye watering and 'Purple' had actually come as a pleasant surprise, .... but 'Claret' seems to be the colour of this particular journey's end. Perhaps more alarming than the dramatic range of discolouration has been the arrival of firstly a third and then this morning a fourth,.... testicle. Unfortunately, it appears that the operation has not been what even Gordon Brown could call a success,.... and whilst I can't help but admire the sheer artistry of the perfectly formed row of delicate stitches across my abdomen, .... they now need to be unpicked before remedial work can continue. I'll find out what's going to happen tomorrow and hopefully they'll bring me in and operate straight away. If on the other hand there exists yet another waiting list for me to join,... you wont need to wait for a weekly blog entry in order to hear my thoughts on the matter.
As far as other happenings in my world are concerned, ...... there simply aren't many. After four weeks of hard labour, the Inland Revenue have finally accepted that they did in fact receive my letter informing them of my new address, but they still insist on fining me £100 for the late filing of my tax return. Unfortunately my tax records still remain 'unfiled' as they've sent my new, new activation code once again to my old address, .... which clearly no longer exists. If I owed the IR money then I wouldn't be too worried, ... but I don't, I'm in credit with them and waiting to file for a refund.
Much better news is that I'm going to receive a refund, or voucher, as a replacement for my screwed up flights to and from Thailand last November. Everybody has been taking their time and seemingly blaming third parties for the disruption in service, which given the circumstances I can perfectly understand, but thankfully it seems to have finally resolved itself in my favour,... unless of course they send the refund to my former address.
If anything else happens this week, as long as it's unrelated to the growth of additional testicles or dramatic colour transformation, then I'll let you know.

Post 215: Rebuild Completed

More snow fell through the week and Britain seemingly ground to a halt. The press were up in arms, soliciting blood from politicians and council leaders alike; ''how can this be allowed to happen in one of the worlds richest countries?'' People took a few days away from work, buses stopped running, a few flights were cancelled, the schools were closed.... and the fun sponges were quick to whine and complain. It was snow, lots of it,.. probably the most snow that we've had in almost twenty years. Inconvenient for some but an absolute hoot for those of us who used the time to rediscover our childhood for a few glorious days. Looking around my local area in Essex, it seemed that this was one of the all too rare occasions when parents actually connected with their kids,.... and that's got to be a good thing. 'Work' was still there on Thursday morning, ... but at least people had something different to talk about at break time. If it happened every year then I'm sure we'd be better placed to deal with it,... but I still wouldn't be investing in snow-chains,..... just a better sledge.

It was good to see England beginning the Six Nations Rugby with a victory over Italy today, but having had my operation only two hours earlier, I resisted all urges to cheer them on their way too enthusiastically. It was interesting to see that the tournament is still sponsored by RBS, .. ''The People's Bank''. Earlier this week they thought that it would a good idea to pay it's rocket scientists multi-million pound bonuses for achieving the largest corporate loss in British corporate history. They're the same people who lost RBS billions of pounds and brought them to the verge of bankruptcy, the same people who decided that it was a good idea to give massive mortgages to low earners and then sell them on to investment banks like Lehman Brothers before buying them back, all dressed up in new shiny new packages and calling them 'Assets'. RBS defended their decision by claiming that if they didn't pay such bonuses, they'd loose their best people to competitive banks. Unscrew the jar and take a whiff, ..... yes it's bloody coffee. Don't worry about 'loosing' them, ..... sack them. Besides,.... where the hell are they going to go? The last time that I looked the banks were letting staff go and certainly not recruiting. Retail bank staff, the only people that we as regular customers are ever likely to meet probably deserve bonuses for having to deal with the crap that's been dropped onto them from the rocket scientists above, ... but the rocket scientists should be named, shamed and dismissed,... certainly not rewarded. What a company dose with it's shareholders money doesn't usually bother me, ..... but when I've become an accidental shareholder myself, .... it certainly does.

I'm writing this under the influence of strong drugs, .... but this time legally so. I've just returned from the Chelmsford Medical Centre where this morning they rebuilt my body. Not quite six million dollars worth of reconstruction and possibly not to it's true former glory,.... but I'm definitely one very happy chappy. Perhaps when the drugs have worn thin I wont be feeling quite so chipper, .... but at least I'll be able to walk once more without the need to keep one hand firmly in my trouser pocket. Apparently everything went well; they put me to sleep, I woke up completely fixed and within four hours I was back in my own home. It smarts a little when I move and the scar they assure me will vanish over time, ..... but not so aesthetically pleasing is my new 'Brazilian'. If anybody sees me scratching over the coming weeks, it will have nothing at all to do with footpegs touching tarmac on a motorbike. I assume it will be similar to growing a beard, .... but I'll resist all temptations to reach for the razors.

Post 214: Snow Time

Life's ''on hold'' at the moment,... I've even missed the inevitable disappointment of my annual visit to the MCN bike show at Excel. Every year I look forward to it and every year I return home disappointed,.... maybe I should lower my expectations, .. or simply just stop going there.

On Thursday I was arranging the first bikes that I've been offered for testing: Moto Morini and Royal Enfield,.... I was looking forward to having some fun. Then the telephone call came, .... ''operation on the 7th of February,... would I be available?'', .... bring it on. The sooner the better, ...... four weeks off bikes, but then I'll have my life back and freedom at last.

In an attempt to track down a couple of people who appeared on my 'Just Giving' page, ... I've discovered Face Book. I'm still not sure how Face Book works, or exactly what I'm supposed to do with it,... but in two days I've manage to track down several friends that I'd lost touch with in various parts of the world. I should really have done all this before setting out on Poor Circulation, ... then I could have visited people along the way, ... but maybe I'll just have to work out ways to visit them anyway.

It snowed last night, .... it was still there this morning, .. more of it, proper snow. It looks nice but it's not fun when you don't own a car. On the bright side, the teachers at my daughters school will no doubt be experiencing 'traveling difficulties' and I suspect that the school will be closed for the day, ....... so I guess I'd better go find my gloves and begin my 'snowman making' duties.