Monthly Archives: January 2008

Changing Expectations

What people expect is a constantly changing thing. And as I discussed before Christmas, giving things away for free really changes that dynamic.

This morning I saw an example of this economic theory in action at the train station. A man was shouting at one of the railways employees. What he was complaining about was a lack of free Metro newspapers. He shouted, “What am I supposed to do now?”

Hotter than the sun

Around our house “don’t touch that, it’s hotter than the sun” is something we hear a lot.

Other than this sounding to men like me as though it’s an open invitation to touch whatever it is just so that we can know for ourselves – it also happens to be true.

No it is, really.

A human being, for example, produces more heat per cubic metre than the sun. The sun is just really really really big.

Just thought you might like to know.

Preparation – Part 4

[This is the final part of Preparation a 4 part story. You may want to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 before you continue.]

As the taxi pulled away from the bistro I thought about how I sometimes can really surprise myself. I used to think about how I was too eager to please others. It used to worry me. Over time I realised that pleasing others pleased me, and that in many ways that’s all there was to life.

Today I realised, finally, that all encounters, all conversations, are a two way street. You wouldn’t drink neat gin, you wouldn’t drink neat tonic but together they make something beautiful. They come together to create something better than either of them can be by themselves. I wanted to be nice to Brian, I suddenly realised, not because it wouldn’t help me but because it would. That’s what we’re all doing.

It’s only a problem when you stop taking part yourself. When it stops making you feel better to take part in the exchange – that’s the only time it’s a problem God! Stop thinking! And you think this sounds like crazy over-analysis? You should hear my brain in an hour.

I’m in this taxi, it’s going to my house. My house with my family in it. My family who are there for Christmas. Who are there to enjoy themselves.


And I’m bringing Brian to have dinner with me. How’s that for making myself feel happy?

Heath Ledger

What a talent

What a loss

Preparation – Part 3

[This is part 3 of Preparation a 4 part story. You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 before you continue.]

The question, “how many women?” I’d asked was hanging over the proceedings like a bad stink. Brian had frozen, he’d been freed for a second into saying something that he clearly truly felt. Something actually fucking interesting. Sorry about my language – but that’s what I feel. My contemporaries act as though it’s proper decorum to pretend you died about five years ago.

“Sorry Brian, I didn’t mean that question the way that you’re thinking that I did.”
“What does that mean?”
“I just meant…” I pause, I’m trying to decide how to phrase it. “I just meant, huh.”
“I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“Oh no, God no… I just was just thinking that I wanted to pause the date, because… While I realise I’m on a date and I’m therefore supposed to disapprove of you going out with others, I’m old enough and wise enough to realise that you must be, and that I’m not the only one. I’m not moronic. There are a lot more single women of my age than men. But what you were saying just made me feel like one of the blokes down the pub for a second. I imagined all of the twittery women I know who are so totally clueless. And for a second I just wanted to laugh at them with you. That’s all.”
“Well that’s okay then.”

Brian, I could tell, was looking at me differently. I wonder what that meant. And then suddenly I didn’t know what to do. Could I go on eating, or did I need to talk? I knew I was really waiting for him to talk again but I didn’t know where to look or what to do while I was waiting. I decided to plump for a overly large glug of my wine so I could keep looking him in the eye. He looked flustered, I was flustered too I could feel the tops of my ears starting to go red. And then I decided to help him.

“You know what Bri, lets order us up some more wine – I’ll get a taxi home.”

“Good,” he smiled that smile again. And he actually exhaled. It was so sweet. I wanted to hug him right there and then.

I smiled back at him and suddenly we were a team. We were on the same side against the rest, whoever they might be.

[The final part concludes next Friday]

For the wrong reasons

I’ve been engaged for some three years. And every so often Katherine and I talk about getting married. There are a number of reasons for getting married, but one thing occurred to me the other day – and I realised after I thought of it that it was perhaps the most stupid reason for getting married ever considered.

To make the point, we’ve been going out for five years (Is this right – Ed?) and we’ve been engaged for three of those.

Driving back from Birmingham the other day there was somebody on the radio talking to a listener and they asked that most innocuous of questions “so how long have you been married then”? And I thought, “hey, what if they’d been going out for ages first, surely that should be taken into account?”. And then I thought, “maybe we should get married soon, because otherwise years from now people we don’t know might think we haven’t been together that long because we’ve been disproportionately not-married for such a long time in our relationship?” And then I remembered – that’s the kind of thing that people consider “a bad reason”.

Pirates of the Caribbean

I started watching Pirates of the Caribbean 3 the other day and had to stop because I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I realised that I couldn’t really remember various vital points in the series. So I’ve watched part 1 again and it was really entertaining.

My question, which I will evaluate while I re-watch part 2 and watch fully for the first time part 3 is this:

“Were the movies actually quite poor because they were based on a theme park ride?” Perhaps the first film was unjustifiably good and that skewed our perceptions of parts two and three when they were probably just okay and not terrible like people said.

That’s what I hope to find out.

The author Alex Andronov

Something very exciting happened by accident the other day. I wrote a comment on a post on the very interesting film blog “SHADDOWPLAY” and David Cairns, who writes the blog, decided to follow up on the post and in doing so he referred to me as “author Alex Andronov“.

Apart from the nice alliteration, I think it is the first time I’ve been referred to as an author by somebody I don’t know. I know it shouldn’t be that important but along with receiving my first royalty payment it was hugely significant to me. I loved the feeling. This might just be a giant ego trip for me, but I can live with that.

The Book With the Missing First Page is on Amazon

My book is now available to buy on Amazon, and here is video of me begging you to buy it.

Buy it on Amazon:

Preparation – Part 2

[This is part 2 of Preparation a 4 part story. You may want to read Part 1 before you continue.]

I pull into the last car parking space and turn the engine off. The radio stops talking at me and suddenly everything is peaceful. Or at least everything outside my head. I try to collect my thoughts but it’s hard to focus. This was a stupid week to have a date. All of the time I’m thinking of all of the things I should be getting ready for Christmas. Simon was right, I do need to spend more time thinking about myself for a change, but I’m just not sure that this week was the best week to do it.

I tilt the rear view mirror towards me and take a look at my make up. I think about re-applying but out loud I say “it’ll have to do.” He’s picked the nice little bistro that opened recently. It’s a good choice to go somewhere new, there is less baggage – less chance that I had a previous date here. I walk in and can already tell that I’m going to like this place. There is a certain feel when you walk in, a certain light that feels warm and welcoming. I can see Brian over at a corner table. He looks up at me and smiles and I instantly remember why I’m here. That smile is a big part of it. He looks at me like he actually wants to see me. I’ve started to be able to tell the difference between that look and the one my children give me, the one where they want something from me.

As I get close to the table Brian stands to greet me. A single peck on the cheek, a slight waft of his aftershave. I give my coat to the waitress and sit. I can look at him now properly and I do. Then after a second I realise I’m almost staring and so I look down for the menu.

“Drink?” he asks.

“Yes, but I’m driving so it’ll just be the one.”

“You look lovely today.”

I’m never sure exactly what a comment like this is supposed to mean. I haven’t got time now – I’ll over-analyze it later.

“Thank you. And you’ve had your hair cut.”

“Not since you last saw me – I don’t think.”

“Ah, it must be the candlelight. You look very smart.”

“Thank you. Now how about that drink?”

I look at Brian. What do I think about him? How can I judge? He’s not quite the man I imagine when I close my eyes. But on the other hand I’m not sure that man exists. In fact I know that man doesn’t exist.

The man I see when I close my eyes is my dead husband without the inconvenient bits. Not just that he’s dead, actually him dying was one of the most self-improving things he could have done. God that sounds harsh, I don’t mean that the way you think I do. All I mean is that when he was alive I always had this lovely perfect vision of him, the feeling, the idea of him was perfect. And I have that again now. But then, when he was alive, he’d go and open his mouth or do something that would be so… so… disappointing that actually now he’s gone it’s a bit easier to preserve his perfection. The only problem for poor Brian is that now he has to live up to a completely impossible version of Bob. It seems weird because I know, and you know I know because I just wrote it, that Bob wasn’t actually like that in real life. But this is being written in the cold light of day (well I’m in bed, it’s warm and it’s night-time but that’s neither here nor there). But when I’m meeting with Brian it’s not about cold-light-of-day decisions. Somehow I’m measuring him against dead Bob and that’s not really fair. He’s all right, he’s lovely, but…

No. He’s fine. That sounds terrible. I want to say… He’s what I want, he’s what I need. That’s true actually. I need somebody who isn’t part of my family. I need somebody like that because I want to be thought of as special. I want to know that they are interested in me. I wonder how really rich people cope. I know that the only people who want me for something other than pure desire are my family who want me to provide. But if you were loaded you’d have to worry that any man would be after you just for your money. Brian’s richer than me though so I don’t have to worry about that. Why am I even thinking about it? I do find myself just whittering on sometimes.

We’ve been eating in silence. Brian decides to break it.

“So,” he asks, “what have you been thinking about?”

“You,” I say.

“What have you got to think about me?”

“Well, I’ve been evaluating you. Sort of deciding.”

“I hope…” he pauses, “I hope you don’t decide to decide too early. I’ve got a lot of interesting things to try… to show you if you’d be interested.”

“Don’t worry Brian. I was… I was just having some difficulty. I mean, I’m not used to this kind of thing.”

“What kind of thing?”

“Well a date?”



“Sorry,” says Brain smirking, “it’s just that… God this is going to sound stupid. But I’ve been out with some women recen…. In the past… and none of them… not a one… has realised that they’ve been on a date. They think they are on some kind of bridge meeting. They compliment me on the choice of food, on the choice of wine, but some of them even bring a friend. They have no idea. At least you know that you’re on a date.”

“How many women?”