Sunday, 29 January 2012

Things I wish I was good at.....

....but I know I'm definitely not.

One of the joys of unpacking is the memories it unleashes. Open a box that has been sealed for several years, and the first whiff you get is of nostalgia. The second is of fetid decay of course ("So that's where that burger went" you think to yourself.....).

Anyway, whilst unpacking as we settle in to Dartmouth, I have unearthed three clear cut aspirations from my distant past. I really, really wanted to be good at 1. Boxing, 2. Playing the guitar, and 3. Talking to girls. To explain.....

In one box I found an old photo of me in the Marines. Fresh faced, pert buttocked, and raring to go. It was a photo of me in the gym, in some embarrassingly tight shorts as were de rigeur in 1988. Anyway, what I really wanted to excel in at this time was boxing. I wanted to be known as a granite-chinned, beast of a man with a pile driver of a right hand. We finally got a chance to box during our training, when you do a thing called milling which is essentially flailing like a maniac for three rounds of three minutes. I danced out from my corner in the approved manner, having watched lots of boxing matches but never actually thrown a punch in my life. At this point, as I bobbed and weaved and did clever little skippy steps like I'd seen Barry McGuigan do on the tele, my opponent punched me very hard in the face. I know this is the idea, but it really, really hurt. This immediately made my eyes water a lot, so I stopped dancing around and slitted my eyelids to see where he was, waggling my right hand in front of me optimistically as I did so. Whilst I stood in this bovine manner, peering myopically through streaming eyes, he punched me very hard in the face again. At this point I suddenly lost interest in boxing. And it's not like he was any good either. We were less Ali and Foreman, more French and Saunders. So that was boxing.

Next in the unpacking saga was my guitar. I've been playing the guitar for years, and I'm still rubbish. My friends have all stopped being polite about this, and every time I get it out they just immediately tell me to put it away again. Or - and this really annoys me - someone will say "Oh, I play a little. Do you mind if I have a go?" They will then play complicated flamenco for three hours, ending the evening with a giggling girl on their knee and everyone else holding up lighters and swaying. I HATE it when this happens, which is difficult as it seems to happen a lot. I played a tune to baby Isla Grace the other day to help her sleep. She immediately woke up, screamed, and then wee'd herself. I've seen grown ups do this too when I take the guitar out of it's case. So that's playing the guitar.

Chatting up girls. This is of course irrelevant now, but everyone likes to think they were good at it once. I've found a few pictures of old relationships, and it amazes me I ever got together with anyone. I had a rare gift of killing a conversation stone dead, clubbing it into unconsciousness with a single sentence. Two examples spring to mind. Ten years ago I was at a wedding with my best friend when a lovely girl came up to speak to us. "What do you do?" she said to me. I said, and I still tremble as I write these words "Ah, well, I'm a bit of a Renaissance man." Unbeknownst to me at the time, this is just a complicated way of saying "Ah well, I'm a bit of a dick." Anyway (long story and all that) she married my best friend, they now have two gorgeous children, and she still takes the mickey out of me for the worst first line in history. This line is only beaten by a comment to a very pretty girl in a pub in Exeter when I was a young man. She had a lot of make-up on, some of it not too well applied. I said "Do you put your make-up on the bedroom wall first then run into it with your face?". This was, apparently, not funny. So that's talking to girls.

The shop! We literally take it over at the end of next week (hopefully). We'll try and get something on a website soon so everyone has an idea of what we're up to in terms of courses etc. That's as soon as we figure it out ourselves of course.

Attached is a piccie of Reubs and the little one. Reubs is unequivocally the big brother, and if anyone messes with Isla they would have to deal with seven stone of annoyed timber wolf. Which is rather reassuring.....

Back to unpacking!

Ta, Mont    

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The food chain......

....and my alarming tumble down it.

We've recently moved into our new place down here in Dartmouth, and the house looks like a grenade has gone off in a charity shop. It's bedlam. We sit on packing crates, forage for food like huge racoons, and essentially have gone feral whilst we try to sort our lives out.

One of the most alarming aspects of this for me is a dramatic tumble down the hierarchy of the household. I used to be the boss. Tam would turn to me for manly advice and to lift heavy things. Reubs would trail round after me rapt in complete adoration, drooling and whimpering with devotion. Occasionally the two of them would swap those roles, but the general theme was that I was the baboon with the biggest, bluest bottom.

Since baby Isla has turned up, I've gone from first to second, and then (disturbingly) to third in the Halls household rank structure. That means I'm only just senior to Reubs, and even he's waiting for an opportunity to take a pop at the champ. This was perfectly illustrated the other night.

Tam and Isla took the best bed. A more accurate description might be achieved by substituting the word "only" for the word "best" in that last sentence, that's how dire things have become in the chaos of the move. Anyway, this left me to wander the house blearily in my pants, until the obvious solution presented itself in that Reubs had a nice big cushion to sleep on. It's his bed, he's slept on it for ages. We got it from Pets At Home six months ago. It's covered in spit and unidentified crusty things that seem precious to him.  He was duly booted off, and I slept blissfully on it, snuffling and twitching and dreaming about chasing squirrels. Reubs went off and - presumably - booted a rat out of it's bed in the cellar and slept there. The rat I imagine nudged a beetle from it's home etc etc, and so the circle of life continued.

It's probably very important that I point out that Tam slept on Reubs bed the next night as I did Isla duty, and so the scene has been set. Happily we've recently got another bed, so the natural order of things has been restored. Reubs still eyes me with that "you'll die mad and alone and by the time they find us I'll have eaten your feet" look. The attached photo is of the two of us playing with a rugby ball in Ireland. Which is another way of saying he just bursts the rugby ball and I get furious and chase him round the garden (which as far as he's concerned is simply the finest game ever invented).

Anyway, just completing the legal handover of the shop, at which point we'll start turning it into a divers / wildlife / filming haven. Whatever one of those looks like.

Cheers, Monty    

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The outside lane of the information superhighway.......

Hello all. I'm blogging. I am a blogger. I blog. This is very exciting let me tell you. Having trundled along rather annoyingly in the middle lane of the social media highway, holding everyone up and refusing to look in my mirrors, I have now accelerated into the unknown. My head is out of the window, my nose is wet, and my ears are flapping. Let me tell you, it feels good.

The reasons for setting up this blog are twofold. The first is that we've just moved to the ludicrously beautiful little town of Dartmouth in Devon, in order to set up a wildlife tours / film-making training / diving / sitting round with my friends drinking coffee business. It's due to open on 1st April - how appropriate. The second reason for starting this blog is that someone very clever who knows about these things told me I had to. Facebook being so last year daahhhling (she didn't sound like that at all, but this is my blog so I'm allowed to lie my head off).

So, this blog will chart the errant progress of us setting up the business. It'll provide a tissue thin justification for a man to charge round in a boat trying to film and photograph basking sharks, sunfish, dolphins et al. It'll probably track my inevitable passage into financial ruin on the back of a series of hilariously flawed business decisions. And it'll tell the story of me, Tam, little Isla, and Reuben the dog making our new home here in south Devon. It'll be a dog blog. As well as a sprog blog.

Right, if you've got this far well done. I'm going to try to attach a picture now. There really is no limit to my flair in the IT department it seems.

So, a new home, a new baby, a new business, and a new life. What could possibly go wrong?

Cheers, Mont and family.