Happy Birthday Mr. Hedgehog

Yep, this blog is exactly a year old. That’s quite an achievement since it was started with no real idea, style or substance and has continued in the same vein since.

But I can’t be bothered to write a proper anniversary post. Instead I’ve gone for the lazy option of picking my favourites from the last year. Yes, I know that’s rather conceited and no, I don’t really care 🙂

When Bromptons attack:
Street Riding:
Washing machine crisis:
A brush with the floor:
Bristol Bikefest:
Riding when drunk:
Hospital Diaries: 1,2,3 and 4
Bingo Night:
Being Five:
Toilet Humour:
Five things about commuting:

I’m not saying they’re any good, I’m just saying they float on the top of the racid collection of other scribblings.

Merry Christmas to all my reader.

Although if I were slanting towards Political Correctness, it’d be all Happy Winterval or Merry Sacrifice Your Goat with our best wishes. But I’m refusing to succumb to the bah humbug curmudgeon who’ll perfectly identify with my occasional inner Daily Mail reader.

It is the season to be jolly or in my case, pissed. The only thing Santa needs to bring me to make me happy this Christmas is a new liver. If he can leave the hangover in his sack, I’ll even forgive him the delivery of the in-laws after Christmas. I’m shying away from the itinerary but the kids gleefully tell me the entire related-by-marriage clan will descend on the 27th. I’ll adopt my normal pleasant smile while mainlining whatever is close to hand – be that beer, gin or the cooking brandy.

Assuming I don’t let myself down, let my family down, etc during that happy period, then two relation free days await on the trails of my choice. Looking at the long range weather forecast that’ll be somewhere close to a good pub serving three square meals a day.

Another rather less portentous anniversary is almost upon us. The hedgehog has been pickled for almost a year and you’ll be under-whelmed to hear that the backlog of drivel shows no sign of abating for 2007. With that also stamping my passport to official middle age, I expect the angst to be cranked up to a Spinal Tap 11. I can make no such promises for grammar or punctuation.

So whatever you’re doing, whoever you’re doing it to and whatever you’re doing it with, I’ll bid you happy holidays. It’s unlikely I’ll be in a fit state to type between now and the horror of going back to work.

But don’t worry, come January, I’ll make up for it.

That’s a worry – Part II

I have an uber rant locked and loaded to fire at Chiltern Profits Railways which ratchets my angst up to a head exploding Defcon 2. Defcon 1 would see me laying about myself with a handy member of staff whilst eating the ticket barrier. so I’m hoping never to get there however hard they push.

And man they are pushing hard after the cleaner unplugged their state of the art IT system resulting in them losing zero revenue and a couple of hundred of us losing about an hour of our day, queuing behind a very stupid man armed with a belligerent attitude and a blunt pencil. That was us with the attitude and him with the pencil.

And behind that an ode to faffing, some gory stories you’ve probably already seen in a snake bites crocodile kind of scenario, another epic on a wind based theme and some scrawl I wrote on the train while drunk that seemed amusing at the time.

But you’ll have to wait. Into my traditional stable work orbit have been tossed asteroids and comets creating an unplanned effect we astrophysicists call “wobbly”. Until I can de-wobble my life or – in preference – harm those whose idea of a deadline is one they dream up in the bath, then it’s all going to be a bit quiet.

I just hope the ranting release valve gets hit before the Snailway company encompass all things incompetent one more time. They will be violence or at least heavy sarcasm towards those responsible.

Feel free to adjust your sets

The problem with democracy is that it’s bloody rubbish. But it’s better than everything else that has been tried. Churchill I think, a man with a quote for every occasion, verbosity to the point of pompousness and a the terrifying focus of the true alcoholic. I like to think of old Winny as a bit of a role model.

Anyway with two of my readers whinging over a Cameron-esque style over substance, and with the third reader (my Mum) being on holiday, democracy shall rule. But just this once, don’t get any ideas that tactics of abuse and flattery will in any way improve content, sentence formation or maddening randomism. They’re kind of hard wired in and anyway if we’re going to conduct a one-man, one-vote kind of egalitarianism, I am the Man and I’m having the Vote.

This is Misty. Get used to her, she’s going to be around for a while as even I have better things to do than poke around the dusty spaces of WordPress themes. See the hedgehog on the right? Hacked my own PHP code to get that in, I just hope someone is bloody grateful.

Right, if it’s ok with you, I’ll get back to rattling on with impotent angst, mendacious asides and curious homage’s to root vegetables.

UPDATE 2: Sidebar fixed in IE 6.0. May I just add what a useless sodding browser IE is and if it still doesn’t work, consider this the perfect trigger to upgrade to Firefox or something that does.

Do not adjust your sets.

This post modern electronic printing press on which my loquacious verbiage resides is really rather clever. Sadly, I’m not, so will be unable to take advantage of a myriad of options which seem to include “for world peace, click here”. However, downloading new ‘themes’ is within my technical remit hence the change.

I was perturbed that around a thousand themes were available. It’s a bad enough vanity stealing time from others to read your book without designing the cover as well. Anyway, I’d like to say a complex selection procedure was undertaken combining a conceptual seasonal theme fused with earthiness and a nod to the scarcity of planetary resources.

It wasn’t. I like blue.

Being a somewhat one trick pony around the gubbins of this site, I now have license to install about a theme a day until one speaks to me or someone else speaks to me in a “stop fucking about will you” kind of way. I hope I’m through my orange period when that happens.

I’m thinking of changing the site name..

.. when a friend sent me this from Annova

Man needed surgery after sex with hedgehog

A Serbian man needed emergency surgery after he had sex with a hedgehog on a witchdoctor’s advice.

Zoran Nikolovic, 35, from Belgrade, says the witchdoctor told him it would cure his premature ejaculation.

But he ended up in an operating theatre after the hedgehog’s needles left his penis severely lacerated.

A hospital spokesman said: “The animal was apparently unhurt and the patient came off much worse from the encounter. We have managed to repair the damage to his penis.”

At least the animal was “unhurt“. Like that’s a surprise, stick the one eyed womb ferret into a organic bagfull of pissed off hedgehog and wonder if pain may follow shortly. I couldn’t help thinking “nice one hedgehog“.

He also sent me a link to a story where a man had married a goat after having sex with it. I’ve no idea how he finds these stories but it’s a concern that “Hedgehog” and “Pickle” could draw all sorts of loonies here. Well, more loonies anyway.

I’m NOT posting the goat marriage story. Unless you really want me too.

Sing with me..

… Oh Canada. Lovely place, fantastic people (well the half that don’t count the French as their true lineage anyway), clean cities and awesome mountains. But that National Anthem – frankly, it’s rubbish. Still, it could have been so much worse, our major supplier could have been in the US and that’s not a trip from hell, it’s a trip to hell. Four hours in customs, full rubber glove body search and a whole bunch of attitude that forgets we were the victims too.

Three days of meetings await, with non optional waffles, possibly a couple of small beers and a bit of late sightseeing in the rather fetching city of concrete that is Ottawa. I was delighted to learn that the Canal system was not only built by British Victorian engineers but it’s express purpose was to shield the city from hostile American takeovers. The hotel we stay in resembles some kind of Disneyworld monstrosity housing fake gables, turrets and the odd crenulated gargoyle. But any country that has the beaver as a national emblem gets my vote every time. I never tire of endorsing those proud Canadians sporting their double entendre’d aquatic rat with a simple “Nice Beaver“.

Anyway enough of this, the hedgehog shall remain unpickled until the end of the week unless time allows for an entry cataloguing the horror of a four puncture commute. I may need a couple of stiff drinks first, I honestly thought that a tree in Hyde Park was going to be my bed for the night.

But I’ve written loads lately so read that nonsense, it swells my shallow ego no end to see the hit counts 🙂

Sassenachs Ahoy!

The knee of extreme soreness will be teamed with the liver of serial abuse for a five day trip to the wilds of Southern Scotland. Riding is likely to be optional whereas drinking isn’t – however I shall be out there having it medium unless inclement weather dictates a shuffle to the nearest snug with a good book and better medical excuse.

I’m taking an electronic copy of the Scottish Venacular Dictionary which is rather more amusing that it is work safe. Consider yourself warned.

The hedgehog shall lie idle and unstuffed which is probably a relief for everyone but come Monday tales of my daring riding, balletic bike control and all round muscular athleticsm shall once again stain guiless electrons with outrages fabrication.

Failing that, I’ll post some pictures but since two cameras have coincidentally exploded while in my hands, I’ve been banned from taking the new one. And I shall be so far behind my friends due to a complete lack of fitness masked by a whole load of bacon sandwiches and lager, expect panaramic shots of deserted trails and painful looking climbs.

Of all the lovely places in Scotland we shall be visiting, I shall be making strenuous efforts not to include Dumfries A&E.

Hospital Diary: Day 1

In the last five years, Mountain Biking has taken me to many special places. Almost none of these include prolonged stays in hospital. Oh I’ve crashed a lot, escaped painful injury through a combination of lady luck and body armour while ferrying/carrying/laughing at those unfortunates who have collected scars, plaster casts and hospital food as badges of honour.

Of course it’ll never happen to me. I’m too busy/nesh/careful to have an accident requiring hospitalisation. Especially on a day I’d no intention to ride. Realistically hammering a nail through an unsuspecting finger or receiving a paint based toxicology injury were far more likely. Yep, that was me, rebel with a paintbrush.

What follows is chronologically romp through the low and lower points of the following four days. Please don’t misunderstand me here; I’ve not edited out the high points; there just weren’t any.


Received pleading text message from Andy desperate for a beer with a pre-ride chaser. The happy discovery that my slapdash “chuck it at the fence and see what sticks” painting technique had exhausted our paint supplies, created a window of opportunity through which I joyfully jumped and headed out to the trails.

Since riding was cutting deep into our drinking time, we raced sun baked dusty trails serially excusing piss poor performance through pointlessly high corner entry speeds, poor line choice and fitness grown fat on summer beer. Kicking dust motes skywards silhouetted against a falling sun, we revelled in the rock hard ground – riding fast and loose on trails cartographed into my mind and hard wired into my muscles.

Much much more fun than anything with a paintbrush.

Heading pubwards on a cheeky evening bridleway with only the sound of Andy’s chattering forks inches from my rear tyre for company, the off camber, steep sided flinty trail was treated with lofty disdain which familiarity breeds. I mean this is the benign Chilterns for God’s sake, there’s nothing dangerous here and there is no way I’m letting the old fat fella get past me. Bragging rights over a cold beer await.

Oh dear. I appear to have crashed rather badly.


Andy, fellow professional northerner and trained first aider, took a look at the damage while pointedly ignoring my whimpering. The knee looked dreadful but didn’t hurt much. Well not as much as a wrist to shoulder wound filled with trail dirt and seasoned heavily with AB rhesus positive. And my shoulders were spasming amusingly not due to the original crash rather Andy’s riderless bike smashing into them while I lie prone and winded. Talk about adding insult to injury – the insult was “fucking hell, aren’t I suffering enough?”

“Tha’ll be needing to get that to ‘ospital lad” Andy offered while pouring cold water into open wounds and fashioning bandages from handkerchiefs. “Can tha ride?” he asked followed by a scratch of the chin and a reflective “Tha’d better be able to cause its fooking miles back t’car”” Who could refuse such an offer as that?

It wasn”t that bad actually as long as I didn’t look at it. Other trail users looked aghast as flaps of skin spitting blood were accompanied by a cheery “nothing to worry about, a mere flesh wound“. Adrenalin is a fine pain killer, it just doesn’t last very long.

It lasted long enough for Andy to drive me to hospital and to be gently prodded by the triage nurse. “How did you do this then?” she innocently enquired to which I couldn’t help but reply “Badly executed throw at the All-Chiltern Herring Chucking Contest” which earned me a tighter bandage that I would otherwise expected. I’m assuming this was also the reason she spurned my offer to clean up my arm during the expected two hour wait to be treated. Instead I took her advice that “somebody who knows what they’re doing should sort that for you” and watch it form a painful crust infused with bits of tree and rock.

My knee hurts now. Andy’s taken the car and bikes and my wife and kids’ll be back soon. I feel like an idiot. I also feel like some strong painkillers would be in order. Still the thought of a couple of medicinal Scotches post stitching keeps my spirits up.

Amazing I mused. Apparently we’ve put twice as much money into the NHS over the last seven years than during the previous period. Is it just me wondering where all the bloody money went? The magazine collection kept me amused if not interested. Aside from the thousand facsimiles of Womans Weekly – content “10 ways to get thin this summer”, “Why Men are Bastards” and “Asparagus – the forgotten vegetable” – I was left with those bastions of the hospital circuit “Coarse Fishing” and “What Caravan“” (answer NONE).

Alternating a page of each which is quite amusing in a “Who the hell leaves this stuff here?” way. Why no playboy even with the pages stuck together? I’m building a theory that old magazines never die, they just shuffle off into a parallel waiting room existence. Go on, try and and find “Carp World incorporating who gives a fuck” in any proper retailer. Never going to happen.

Finally called with a few others to the “Minor Injuries Unit“. Minor Injury, excuse me I don’t want to go all Tony Hancock on you here but I’ve almost lost a leg. Wife and Kids turn up wanting to see the damage – find pissed off dad/husband wanting to get this over with and go home. Sweaty, tired and in a bit of pain but mostly playing it back through my mind – how did I fall off there right on my doorstep. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Still here. Still not been seen. Lots of ill looking people. Want to be out of here more than almost anything. One child accidentally knocks bloody knee. Consider adoption.

“Oh that’s pretty bad, we may need to keep you in” was the initial assessment of a rather jolly nurse called Peter. Nurse? Bloke? Is it just me? Anyway, the Doctor on call is a bit busy so they’ll send me to X-Ray just in case there’s bone floating about in there. Suddenly this has got a little serious. Keep me in? Jesus, that was like meeting the grim reaper down the pub. Talk about unexpected and scary.

Arrive at X-Ray. Radiologist is in theatre dealing with an emergency. That’s not me then. I spend some quality time counting bricks in a wall and reading how Kylie conquered breast cancer. Think she probably didn’t have to deal with the NHS, shame a bit of a sing song would cheer the “Non X-Ray’d 4″ up no end. My three companions are in various states of dress and physical fitness. Between us there’s probably one healthy body. Hope no one gets my liver.

Pontificating on whether I could pay BUPA to pick me up and pamper me senseless even if I have to mortgage the house. Knee swollen and painful, arm not really any use as the blood/scar tissue have set solid. Mind on a loop “stupid, stupid, stupid

Hot Spare Radiologist arrives. Hurray! Two other cases more important than me and since once is strapped to a spinal board and the other is a young women in serious finger pain (having dislocated said digit prodding her boyfriend – man he’s trying hard not to piss himself laughing), I can hardly complain.

Third case more important. Irritatingly tap non injured leg and barely contain urge to scream at someone.

“Can you lay you knee flat?” “oooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww ohfuckohfuckno” “okay then, do the best you can“. She’s being nice but clearly thinks I’m being a total wimp.

Back in the Minor Injuries unit feeling majorly injured. Dislocated finger girl screaming as they try to point her digit the same way as the other three. Christ I hate hospitals, they are full of sick people.

Finally Doctor bloke walks in looking knackered and stressed. He’s way younger than me but even more world weary. Takes a look, makes a noise like the car mechanic when explaining that a million pounds might just cover it, and instructs various minions to clean out the wounds so he can stitch it.

Wow we’re really moving now. Male Nurse (ug, is it still me?) is a top bloke and decides there is no way they can clean it without either knocking me out or giving me a stick to chew on. We agree on a halfway house where he injects anaesthetic into the open wound. I’ll not forget that in a hurry. I ask for the stick anyway. Here’s a tip – when someone wearing any kind of medical attire apologises with “this may hurt a bit“they really are leveraging the power of understatement.

Bliss. Knee is on planet pissed and I can#t feel anything. Purple haired nurse turns up and cleans it out bringing forth an extraordinary cocktail of trail debris. Any minute now I’m expecting that scene out of alien and something badger sized to leap out of the gaping wound. My disappointment deepened when the non anesthetised arm is at the mercy of what I can only describe as a hygienic wire brush. Bring back the needles. And the stick.

Anaesthetic wearing off. This is not good as the Doc has to stitch this and the though of him wielding the needle on swollen, tender skin has me on the wrong side of extremely perturbed. Carol’s logistically perfect as ever and grimly endures my whinging monologue happy in the knowledge that Andy – parenting technique: “tha makes any noise and I’ll put pair of ya in t’cooking pot”. is now looking after the kids at home.

Doc returns breathless apologising for his tardiness. I’m a bit irritated and it shows but he spreads his hands wide and explains “I’ve been dealing with a brain tumour“. That’s me told then. I hope it’s not his own, scars I can live with, a non working knee ruthlessly removes bikes from my future. That’s almost as bad as losing a drinking arm.

Before he can stitch the knee, he must ensure the bone isn’t perforated. More syringes filled with saline are injected into the bone and any sprinkler like results mean major surgery.

Three times he tries and three times he hits bone. Oh fucking hell that really hurts. Really stupidly elbow bitingly hurts. Like a knife cutting into the bone and twisting and then twisting some more. He leaves looking concerned and I’m convinced he’s off to find a bigger needle and Steve Backley to javelin it in from the next ward.

Consultant arrives. Hes even younger. Jeez, I’m the one wearing short trousers here, surely it should be the other way round? They consult in whispers and then Doc is back to deliver the painful news: “were admitting you, it’s just not clean enough, they’ll have to angle grind it out under a general“. Or something like that.

Great. Bloody Great. Seven hours, not insignificant suffering and only now do you decide it’s too late to do get to theatre tonight. Apparently the op will be tomorrow but I’m wise to the schedule now. If I leave before they send me out in a nice pine coffin, I’ll be lucky.

Hello? Anyone there?

00:30 Wheeled up to the ward in the new part of the hospital. You can tell as the lifts work and it doesn’t smell of piss and pain. Ward seven is my new home and the bed is clean and comfortable. I wonder if it’s too late for food since the last meal was some twelve hours before. The nurse shakes her head pointing apologetically to the “Nil By Mouth” crayoned on my notes.

But would I like some painkillers. Is the bear a pope? I don’t know what they are but within minutes I’m back on the pain free planet idly wondering if the worst is over.

Yeah right.

Follow this for the diary of Day 2