Mortgage Help

MoneyOne of my more useful sites is the Mortgage Calculator. Actually, it’s now so useful I’ve renamed it Mortgage Analyser. A calculator is something that sits on your desk which you type 55378008 into and turn it upside down for a juvenile flashback. An analyser however, is something that throws more data at you than you know what to do with.

So what is the point of it? It’s fundamental purpose is to get one over on the banks and building societies. Their goal is to sell you as expensive a mortgage as they can trick you into. Currently, a popular way of doing this is to give you a low rate of interest but hit you with huge arrangement fees. So how do you work out if it’s worth paying a higher fee for a better rate? Well, you could work it out on a bit of paper I suppose.

Or you could analyse it online. Just put the numbers in:

  • The amount you are borrowing
  • How long the mortgage is for
  • The interest rate
  • Any fees

And get the answers instantly. Find out what you will be paying, how much more you’ll be paying if you are on a tracker and the interest rate changes and how much you’ll pay in total. Of course, if you’ve looked at the analyser then you’ll have noticed that it does a lot more than just that.

  • Two mortgages can be directly compared with each other.
  • Fees can be either added on to the mortgage or paid outright. Whichever fees are paid by whatever method, it’s automatically taken into account for the calculations.
  • Discounted rates for limited periods are catered for
  • You can see how much earlier the mortgage will end if you make additional payments into it each month. It will also tell you how much money you’ll save.
  • Because you are borrowing money over decades, inflation starts having an effect on the calculations. While the actual amount you pay doesn’t change over the life of the mortgage, what it’s worth does. In this example, 585 in 40 years time will be the equivalent of what 209 is now. Although you are paying 281019, in real terms the value of the money is only 173823.

There is also a graph which shows how the balance of your mortgage goes down over time.  It’s a bit pointless but it does show that for the first few years you aren’t paying much of it back (the line is quite flat) and it does graphically illustrate how much better off you’d be if you made extra payments each month.

That’s it for this utterly humourless  post.  We now return to the regular programming of swearing and ranting.

Number One!

Searching Google for “brightly coloured poo” brings up my blog as the first hit out of 17,800. Naich’s Blog. Number One for people who like their turds with a bit more colour.

I found that out because the server logs (ho ho ho) showed that 2 people have landed at my page following a search for exactly that term. Other searches that led to my blog were “can you get chickenpox in you bum”, “dark green poo toddler” and (rather disturbingly) “your first enema”.

Highlights for June included “baby clear glob”, “naked bmw driver” and “clearing the nose of vomit” (I’m proud to be number 2 on Google for that one).

It’s then pretty dull until we get to April, with “help masturbation” (sorry, I’m busy at the moment) and “gotta survive or try to stay alive ho how old”. Well quite.

Finally, March has a disturbing “symptom coughing up lung”, presumably followed by a search for “how to clean bits of human organ out of your keyboard”.

Still gasping after 8 months

October 19th 2006. A historic day… President Bush welcomed President-Elect Felipe Calderon of Mexico to the White House, JCC marketing were honored at regional conference, and Schrödinger application scientist Shashi Rao discussed features and capabilities of Phase 2.0, as well as underlying scientific methodologies.

Yes, as you can see, Google is utterly shit at finding interesting events that happened on a certain day.

Another thing it missed was my last ciggy. It’s been 8 months since I gave up and my life is an empty shell without them. Well, not quite but I do miss the little buggers – especially when I go out to pick something up from the shops and I find myself thinking “excellent, just the right time for a little rollie… ah nuts”. Still, I must be healthier than I was. With a good tailwind I can now hurtle along on my deathtrap of a bicycle at truly terrifying velocities (I’ve fixed one of the brakes now, so it’s slightly less suicidal) and I can make it to the top of the stairs without collapsing into a puddle of twitching phlegm at the top. So good news really. But I do miss them.

The strange thing is that I don’t think I could start smoking again, even if I wanted to. I’ve got a little confession to make. It’s normally considered somewhat reckless to put confessions on web pages that are not only accessible to billions of people worldwide, but will be archived by Google and The Internet Archive, thus making them available to billions of people worldwide for the rest of time, but I’m that sort of person – i.e., stupid.

It was a few weekends back and Jen had left me in charge of wallpapering the tallest bit of the hallway. It was a 15 foot vertical drop where the stairs start and downstairs ceiling stopped, giving way to the full height of the house. Jen had papered up to this point and I had to hang the next roll along, teetering from a ladder propped over the upstairs banisters in a truly shit-crimping way. Jen and Wibs had popped out to go down the park and I was left at home, sweatily labouring under the misapprehension that I could achieve more by trying to wallpaper the hall than by doing the washing up, picking hairs out of the plughole, or just putting my feet up and watching telly. In fact, it would have been better if I had simply burnt the roll of paper – I wouldn’t have wasted the wallpaper paste and the house would have been slightly warmer. But hindsight is something you only get after you discover that a) you’ve cut the paper too short, b) you forgot to fill in the holes in the wall, and c) the bit of paper you are lining up against is on the tilt, meaning you are going to end up with a 3 inch gap at the top. I ripped the soggy paper off and threw the brush down the stairs.


A while ago, while tidying up, I found Jen’s secret emergency stash of 5 squished Malboro lights. I was shocked and chided her for her weakness, giving her a short lecture about willpower (noting how I didn’t need a crutch), and threw them in the bin. Then, when she wasn’t looking, I picked them out again and hid them in my underwear drawer. Yeah, like YOU’VE never done anything that made you feel like a weasel of a hypocrite of a weasel. And it’s a good job I did.  I decided that pathetically standing in the middle of a pile of gluey wallpaper counted as an emergency, so it was time to have a smoke. Upstairs.  Drawer.  Rummage. Pants. Socks. Aha. Outside. Light. Suck. Ahhhh… Agggggghhhh… Blough. Chwoaar. Hwuuurck. Whaaark. Gasp. Holy shit. What the? Again. Suuck. Ahhhhhh? No! Chhwoooagh. Chuurf. Wheeze. Clouarch. Pant. Retch.

What has happened to me? In my time I’ve smoked joss sticks, hay, fireworks, match heads, banana skins (no, they don’t), wood, hemp seeds picked out of bird food (they make little explosions that blast red hot grains into your eyes), and none of those made me cough, gag and retch like this cigarette did. Well, I suppose to be fair, it didn’t make me think I was dying like the time I tried the firework smoke, but it was quite shocking, nonetheless. In the olden days I could out-smoke a petrochemical plant fire but now I can’t even handle a single drag on a low tar stick. I had to put it out after 3 puffs because I felt so sick. I suppose that’s good really.

Right. That’s the entry done. I’ve just got time to nip outside for a quick… oh figs.

Seven things no-one tells you about your first kid

You might be lacking sleep and money, but one thing you won’t be short of is advice. This will come from friends, family, cow-orkers or just people who come up to you in shops. It usually goes along the lines of “don’t worry – it gets easier. After 20 years, ha ha”. Whether you merely fantasise about punching them or whether you actually deck them is up to you, but here is some advice that is slightly more useful.

  1. Use drugs. Lots of drugs. Drugs are good. Some drugs work better than others though and, while every baby is different, these are the ones that most people agree are worth smearing on, and inserting into, your little angel.
    • Metanium. You know how it is the day after a really good curry? That’s nothing compared to the state a baby’s bum can get into, and the poor sod didn’t even have the pleasure of a nice hot curry first. The better-known cream, Sudocream is OK for minor instances but when those cheeks look like they are about to burst into flames, a thin smear of Metanium will work wonders, especially overnight. I’ve seen bums that have been about to blister returned virtually to normal overnight with this stuff – it’s that good.
    • Medised. Everyone knows Calpol; it’s nice, safe paracetamol-based strawberry yumminess. Medised is like Calpol, in that it’s got the same amount of paracetamol in it, but it’s also got an antihistamine in it to, er… “help clear the nose”. Yes, it’s to help clear the nose. Honest. It’s just that, well, the type of antihistamine they use is not a non-drowsy one. Ooh, better stick a warning on the box not to drive or operate machinery – nudge nudge. It’s not intended to cause drowsiness, it’s just a side-effect. Wink wink. Yeah. That’s why the last 3 letters of the name are the first three of “sedate”. Ooh, did I mention the “S” word? Nah, it’s not written anywhere on the box so it can’t do that, can it? But I’ll just say that for minor fevers and colds, it can provide a pretty good night’s sleep for everyone concerned. It’s not so good in the day though, when it’ll just get him stoned. While it’s quite funny to see him staggering around the place, it’s not the right one to use and you will feel guilty for laughing.
    • Fenpaed. Once they are old enough to have ibruprofen, this stuff will tame fevers that Calpol can’t touch and it’s good for teething pain. It’s also got a stupid name; what more do you want?
    • Eurax. He’s got chicken pox? Smear this on the spots or you won’t get any sleep. Poor Wibs couldn’t lay down for 2 nights because his spots were driving him mad. If it hadn’t been Easter or if the bastard emergency chemist had actually been open, we could have got some, lathered him up and got more than 2 hours sleep. On the 3rd day, when we did eventually find some and goop him up before bed, he slept like, well, a baby. Forget Camomile lotion or baths in baking soda; they just made things worse for us.
  2. Buy a PVR. It’s the only way you’ll get to see a whole TV program for the next 6 months or so. Well, maybe the news headlines or a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but anything longer will be punctuated with at least one nappy change, feed or rocking session. And even after they grow up enough to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time, you will occasionally have to dash out at a crucial point in a show. In short, get used to watching films in 10 minute chunks. Don’t rent DVDs because you’ll never get to the end of one by the time it has to go back.
  3. Take up smoking. Or start some other addiction; crack cocaine or chocolate maybe? – whatever it is, it’ll be something that you can say to yourself “I might be getting up at 3.30am but at least I can have a smoke/pipe/creme egg afterwards.” Personally, I smoked and found it did genuinely help to have a proper addiction that I could look forward to feeding at any hour of the day or night.
  4. Before your little bundle of noise is born, take the time to cook up several thousand portions of spag bol, shepherds pie, lasagne and bung them in the freezer. Unless you are really into beans on toast, you’ll want some other things you can cook in the 5 minutes you get to yourself every day.
  5. Don’t listen to advice from your parents. It’s been years since you were a baby and they will have forgotten what it was like. Things have changed since then anyway, and modern medicines tend to work better than the bizarre dark age semi-faith-based remedies they’ll come up with. “That’s a good idea, we’ll try it next time” is a good phrase to use when your mum suggests an ice bath with a mercury enema to balance his humours.
  6. Wrap the little bugger up. Try to imagine it from his point of view. There he was, quietly jostling around in the nice warm dark confines of the womb when *squelch* – everything is now really bright, noisy, cold and where the hell have the walls gone? You can make things a bit more womb-like and comforting by strapping the arms in with a blanket. Actually, I’m sometimes tempted to see if it still works on older kids; for example 2-year olds who misbehave. Yes, I’m talking about you, Wibbles.
  7. The following things are normal:
    • Brightly coloured poo, ranging from black to green to yellow. Make sure it’s the right colour though. For example, having green poo when it’s supposed to be yellow means they aren’t getting enough fatty milk or if it’s pale yellow when it’s supposed to be mustard yellow it could indicate jaundice. You think worrying about the colour of poo is a bit odd? Welcome to the world of parenting.
    • Constant illness, sometimes with colds actually overlapping each other so there isn’t even a gap between them. He’ll then pass them on to you.
    • Urine fountains as soon as the nappy is removed. You know how it is – the cold air hits and you just have to go. Accept that you will be pissed on every now and again.
    • Spots everywhere and strange rashes. Get them checked out if they last more than a few days.
    • Hilarious farting noises. I suggest recording them and when he’s a teenager you can use the threat of playing it to his mates/girlfriend as useful leverage.
    • Minor hallucinations from lack of sleep. When I’ve only had 10 minutes sleep in a night I tend to hallucinate pornalised versions of words on signs, adverts etc., .e.g. “Eddie Stobart Whorage” or “Tescos Value Aluminium Fart”. Enjoy them. They provide some light relief from reality.

I think that’s about it. Good luck.

Things I don’t like

I haven’t been almost run over by a bus for a few weeks now and to be honest, it feels a bit odd. Maybe fate is storing up a biggy for me? Look out for reports in the papers of someone being simultaneously squished between two buses and a BMW. In the meantime here is a nice easy piece with some feeble bleatings that I thought I’d chuck in for lack of anything better to write about. Oh, and by “easy” I mean easy for me to write. You’ll probably hate it.

Here is a list of things I don’t like. Original, eh?

  • People who make these sorts of lists and miss out world hunger, peace etc. What is the worst thing about living on this planet? Is it being unable to program the video recorder or running out of bog roll? I don’t fucking think so. How about watching your loved ones die from malnutrition because of famine, war, genocide or one of the other myriad ways that us humans have found of being complete and utter bastards to each other? Oh, sorry, that doesn’t count because there isn’t a comedy angle. Hello genie from the bottle. Three wishes? I’ll get rid of traffic wardens, make myself a millionaire and add an inch to my knob. Fuck everyone else. Twats. Yes, I do realise that I’m getting a bit worked up about a situation that is unlikely to actually occur in real life but it’s the principle that counts.
  • The christian god and possibly some of the other gods too. Sorry, this might start getting a bit more humourous soon but in the meantime consider that this world and all the horrible things that go on in it (see point 1 above) was created by a god that knew it was going to happen (omniescent) and could have prevented it (omnipotent). So he’s either watching us suffer for his amusement or he’s a bit incompetent. Oh, what’s that you’re bleating on about? Free will? Complete cock and I’ll tell you why. I’m not a god (no really), but I do make things that have the potential to hurt. I’m thinking about some of the precision mains-powered equipment I’ve built for students and researchers to use as door stops, hammers etc. Now, am I infringing on their free will by covering up the dangerous high voltage bits so they don’t kill themselves? I know – in future I’ll leave all the wiring exposed, knowing full well that eventually someone is going to kill themselves on it, and simply explain to the judge all about free will and how it’s not really my fault that someone got fried. That’ll go down a treat. Or should I just do what god apparently can’t, and carry on making things that work properly without causing unimaginable suffering? Yes, I know that god doesn’t really exist but it’s the hypocrisy of christians thinking that only they can be truly moral, whilst worshipping something that’s either truly evil or really stupid that gets me. I really shouldn’t care about it.
  • People who use the word “Literally” when the mean “Metaphorically”.  No, you didn’t “literally laugh your head off” because there isn’t a bloody stump on the top of your shoulders.  There is, however,  a squidgy lump with a brain in it that can’t use the English language correctly.  “Literally” means that something is exactly as you say it, and people who use it for emphasis literally make me vomit.  No, of course they don’t; that’s an example of how stupid it is.  Earlier on this evening Zoe Ball said that the fate of the contestants on that Grease is the Word thing was “literally in your hands”.  Well, Zoe, let me tell you that the only thing in my hands at the time was my head, as I pondered the irony that such a brilliant human being as Johnny Ball could have such an empty headed tart as you for a daughter.
  • Microsoft. Ooh, I’m going after the hard targets here, aren’t I? I’ll keep this one short. Huge company makes massive profits selling cheap stuff for lots of money by having a sales team who know how to manipulate the cretins that make purchasing decisions at work for the poor sods that have to use their crappy software. The poor sods learn to handle it at work and want to use it at home too, thinking that it’s normal for software to be buggy, slow, hungry and traitorous. Of course it’s far more complicated than that but I can’t be arsed to go into it here. In the meantime, please download Ubuntu Linux and see how good life can be without Microsoft shackles. You don’t need to install anything, just burn it to a CD, insert and reboot. Your computer’s hard drive will remain untouched but you might be touched by how different your computer behaves.
  • Complicated VCR programming procedures. It’s traditional. Fuck it – why not?
  • Running out of ideas after only 4 sections. Ummm…


I almost got run over by a bus as I was cycling home the other day. People jumping red traffic lights is a common enough occurance round here but – and I don’t know why – it’s somehow a bit more shocking when it’s a fucking great green double decker bastard fucking bus. Sorry for all the swearing but it was a double decker bus, it was green, fucking great in size and driven by a fucking bastard.

Now this wasn’t merely the sort of going-for-the-amber-light- and-mis-timing-it-type jumping of a red light that merely pisses me off but doesn’t warrant it’s own entry on a blog that nobody reads, this was the sort of it’s-red-fuck-it-and-fuck-everyone-else- I’m-coming-through-type of driving favoured by wankers.

Let’s go back in time a bit to get the full context – and there I am, waiting patiently to turn right from a side road into the main road. The light I was waiting for had just gone green and I was just starting to wobble Dying Fleath across the intersection when


in from the right, a green blur disappearing down the road to the left. Holy shit! That was about 2 inches away from my front wheel. I slammed on the brakes, the red mist descended. He’s not getting away with that.

Hurredly turning left instead, I sped up and got into his slipstream. He was doing about 30 MPH but I could keep up with him. Swinging out slightly,I saw his face in the mirror – narrow eyes, sweaty brow – he was looking worried, and with good reason. It was pretty obvious that I was fit, pissed off and coming after him. But he had to stop some time; and he did, at the next bus stop. I pulled along side and banged on his window. He gave me the finger.

Now that’s just rude.

I decided to teach him some manners. Hopping off the bike, I laid it down in front of the bus, preventing him from escaping. I decided to start on the panels under the windows at the side of the bus. The metal was surprisingly thin and my kicks made quite a mess of them. While I couldn’t actually puncture the metal, kicking the same spot produced dents about an inch deep. I could hear the driver shouting but he didn’t dare come out of his cab. He was shouting through a shut window – threats or pleas for mercy? I didn’t know and didn’t care. Two things were for sure though – buses bend when attacked by a vengeful cyclist and he was starting to regret running that red light.

After a minute there was a line of glorious dents down the side of the bus so I started on the lights – popping them with short but powerful jabs of my feet. It felt good. A crowd had started to gather by now. People stared in awe at my performance. A few of them at the back started clapping – at last someone was fighting back against the forces of green double-deckered hugeness and the bullying of bikes. Was I a hero? No, I was just a regular guy dishing out the metal-crunching just desserts with toppings of broken headlight. The buckled metal and broken glass on the floor was a reminder that a red light means stop, you bastard.

Yeah, this is obviously complete bollocks. The next thing that happens is that the women start taking their clothes off because I’m so hunky and they can’t resist me. See what I mean? Utter drivel. Sorry about that. The lies started after I wrote “I slammed on the brakes”, way up there. All that garbage is what I wished I had done, once the near-death adrenaline had subsided enough for such irrational thoughts. And it goes without saying that it’s far more exciting than what happened in real life – namely that I cycled home, shaking with futile anger and fear. Then I whinged about it to Jen for about 15 minutes. Then we put Wibbles to bed, had tea and watched telly for a while.

And then, of course, I wrote a load of old cack about it in my blog a couple of days later. See? Dull dull dull. Next time (as long as I’m still alive, haven’t actually crapped myself and as long as I can stop shaking enough to keep up with a bus), I’m going to go for the naked women option.

The art of communication

I had an interesting conversation with a BMW driver this morning. Well, the conversation itself wasn’t all that great (as you’ll see later); what made it interesting was the fact that it happened at all, that it contained more than 2 words, wasn’t shouted and didn’t have accompanying hand gestures.

Let’s be plain here – I’m not a morning person. Come to think of it, daytime isn’t that great either and evenings are best left out of it. Nights? Yeah I’m probably at my most charming when I’m unconscious. So in effect that means I’m not actually a person at all. So what exactly am I? If you really want to describe me and what I’m like, I’m probably best visualised as a loose bag of skin stuffed with impatience, futility and caffeine, holding a Bosch cordless drill with a flat battery, wailing at a hole in the wall I’ve just drilled in the wrong place. So you can imagine what I’m like when I’m cycling my rust bucket to work at 8.00 in the morning. I’m all that, I’m out of breath and I haven’t woken up properly yet.

And the BMW driver? Let’s not beat around the bush. All BMW drivers are crap. Oh, hang on, do you drive one? Well, you’re not crap, obviously; just every other BMW driver. Yes. All of them. It’s sometimes difficult to see this. For example when driving – you won’t be able to tell that there is a BMW behind you because the front badge will be out of your line of sight, 2 inches away from your rear number plate. Always. Man, woman, young or old; there they’ll be – filling your mirrors with the extreme close-up of a toss pot. They are fairly easy to spot when on a bike though. They are the ones that have to get past you. They must must must must get past. Got to get past. Can’t stay behind a bike. Not for a second. Must get past. Go go go. Everyone else get out of my way.

Which brings me neatly back to the story, where I’m currently screeching gently to a halt behind a car waiting at the red light. A black shape comes along side me, matching my deceleration to the miles per hour per second. It’s a Renault 5. Ha! Gotcha! Of course it isn’t – it’s a twat in a BMW. If he can’t overtake me, he has to be along side me. Not behind. Never behind.

So we stop, side by side, and I take a look at him. It’s a narrow road and he’s sticking about 3 feet over the centre line, into other side of the road and the oncoming traffic. I also notice that the passenger window is slightly open. Hmm. I paddle backwards and peer in to see him and a passenger sitting there, both trying very hard to not notice me. Middle aged blokes, expensive suits – unlikely to resort to violence. I’ll have a chat.

“Hello!” I say through the gap. I might as well be friendly, after all he didn’t actually do anything dangerous to me. “What did you do that for?”

They both stare straight ahead. Ah, I’m not being very clear what I’m talking about. “I mean why did you feel the need to come along side me as we stopped?” Stare stare stare… The ignoring continues. “If you had stayed behind me, you wouldn’t be stuck out into the other side of the road like that”. By now the ignoring has reached fever pitch. These guys are good – I could start singing “Staying Alive” while waving my genitals at them and I don’t think they would bat an eyelid. I press on regardless. “I mean I’m just going to go in front of that car, into that cycle box anyway…” It’s true. The junction has one of those red boxes drawn on the road for cycles at the front. However, if this news has any impact on the two BMWers, they make a good job of hiding it. They aren’t blinking and I’m pretty sure they aren’t breathing either. “Is it that hard to stay behind a bike?” Time passes like a drugged slug. They are probably regretting choosing the “ignore him and he’ll go away” strategy over an alternative one such as “talk to him”, “wind the window up fast” or “abandon the car and run away”. I give up. “OK, well. Thanks for listening”.

It starts to dawn on me that I might possibly be coming across as a bit of a nutter.

As stories go, this one sort of fizzles out here. I go to the front, sit in the red box for a few seconds and then go on my creaking way when the lights turn green. It is heartening to note though, that when I’m overtaken by the BMW a few hundred metres up the road, he gives me a VERY wide berth. Nice. Maybe it was worthwhile after all?

He’s dead, Jim.

Jen bought me the third series of the original Star Trek on DVD for xmas, completing my collection of all three series. Yay! 80 episodes of trekky goodness. The only trouble is that watching so many episodes in such a short space of time results in a blurring of that thin line between reality and Star Trek. It was the same when I used to play Doom for 4 or 5 hours every evening. Back in the real world, I’d start pressing walls to see if there was a secret door and walking sideways round corners in case there was a monster waiting to pounce. It actually got quite disturbing – seriously. I was having genuine flashbacks during the day. Although I’ve not actually walked into a door yet, I’m still half expecting them to schwiish open as I approach.

So in the spirit of my current mental state, I’ve been thinking way too much about things that happen on Star Trek, particularly things that happen to those “security” people – the ones in the red shirts that act as a buffer between death and the important members of the crew. They are known as the “Expendables” and I’ve been working out how long one of them could expect to survive. So here is my handy guide to your life expectancy, should you ever be unlucky enough to find yourself in the position of an Expendable under the command of Captain Kirk.

You start off with an average life expectancy of around five minutes. This is the time from beaming down with the landing party to having your salt sucked out, being vaporised by a carpet, impaled by a giant spear, blown up by an exploding rock etc. Various factors can increase or reduce that time and if you can increase it to around 40 minutes, you might make it to the end of the episode. Good luck!

  • Do you have a name? If the captain actually refers to you by name, you can expect to live longer than if he calls you “you there” or just waggles his phaser at you while telling you to go off on your own to look for some hideous monster that has already killed 20 people and is impervious to phaser fire. Yes: Add 10 minutes
  • Do you say anything? Having a line can be your ticket to the end of the episode. Spending that extra money on you to have you say something instantly makes you a larger investment, more valuable, and more likely not to be reduced to cube of basic elements and squished. Be aware that this doesn’t count if your only line is “Aaaaarrrgghh”. Yes: Add 20 minutes
  • Did your father go to the Academy with the Captain? You’ve got it made if he did. Things might look bleak for a while, but rest assured that the Captain will make sure you stay alive in order to regale you with stories about their exploits at the end of the episode. Please try to look interested in them, even though they are mostly about how Kirk used to dress up in women’s clothing “for laughs”. Yes: Go to the end of the episode
  • Did you go to the academy with the Captain? If you did then you are totally fucked. Sorry. You might as well get a phaser and just kill yourself right now to avoid the unpleasant death that awaits you. Feeling pain over the loss of an old (but previously unseen and unmentioned) friend is something the Captain does best. And a lot of. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get hit by a lightning bolt on the way to the transporter room. Yes: Subtract 40 minutes, keel over and die right now.
  • Is there more than one expendable? On each trip, at least one expendable has to be squished/impaled/fried/drained before the situation can be officially classified as dangerous. The ship’s health and safety officer did object to this policy but Kirk put him in a red shirt and beamed him down to the nearest planet. His replacement stopped objecting. If you are the only expendable then it’s going to be you. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. However, if there are two then you’ve got a 50% chance to make it past that first squish/thunk/sizzle/slurp. It’s the ones that get sent off to scout the area that tend to come to the nastiest ends so try to hang around the Captain – but not too close in case you get between him and something aimed at him. Yes: Add 10 minutes.
  • Is the music going “de de DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH de de doo doo”? You could be in luck – that’s the music for someone important being in trouble, which means whatever wants to kill you is otherwise engaged. Expendables don’t get anything more than (at most) an orchestral sting as they are killed so if you are still alive, run away. Run as fast as your legs will carry you. Run and hide until everyone else has gone home. Yes: Add 5 minutes
  • Were you about to get married before the current crisis interrupted the service? As you didn’t actually get married she won’t officially be your widow and won’t get a widow’s pension, so take out as much life insurance in her name as you can. Accept that there is no question of you surviving the episode. You might still be moving but you are dead. Please make sure your will is up to date and say your final farewells to your family. Yes: Subtract 40 minutes and accept that your widow-to-be will soon be being “consoled” by the captain.

Good luck on your trip down to the planet. As you prepare to die, here are some sites to keep you amused:

Wikipedia definition of a Redshirt

Star Trek inspirational posters

Death Race 2006

Ever heard of “risk compensation“? It’s “an effect whereby individual animals may tend to adjust their behaviour in response to perceived changes in risk”. Being an individual sort of animal with a reduced risk of smoking related illness, there has been an adjustment in my behaviour when it comes to cycling.

My old heap (it’s called Dying Fleath and was bought as a replacement for my previous bike, Flying Death) is a fairly sorry sort of piss-poor excuse for a bicycle. The gears change of their own accord so they’ll chunk into top gear as I go up hills (imagine trying to submerge a continent by pushing it down with your foot), before dropping down into bottom gear for the other side, making my legs spin round like windmills. They need copious swearing and brute force to pursuade them into any sort of remotely useful state. There is no bell, the entire frame and handlebar assembly is just a ball of rust, and the brakes are broke. Well, actually, they do sort of work in that they make a lot of noise to alert people to my presence. They just don’t slow me down much. An emergency stop for me means a noise like a howler monkey being cooked alive on a spit accompanied by a gentle glide to a halt over the equivalent length of two football pitches. In short, I make oil tankers look nimble.

So you would think that I ride it fairly slowly, wouldn’t you? Well, I did when I was smoking. My lung capacity prevented me reaching any speeds even remotely close to double figures (either KMPH or MPH – take your pick). Now that I can get to the end of the road without coughing up lung nuts the size of acorns, I can go a hell of a lot faster than is sane, safe, sensible or smushy. Sorry, I ran out of adjectives beginning with S there. My increased physique, coupled with my perceived reduced risk has made me a danger to other road users, path users and people who have just chucked themselves in a bush because they thought they were about to get attacked by a charred howler monkey. Not only do I have the capability to zip along at an un-snail-like pace, I can’t stop doing it. For some reason I feel that I now have to ride at 100% all the time. It’s very disturbing for someone as deeply and fundamentally lazy as me. If there isn’t already a psychological term for being unable to cycle a death trap at anything less than 100% effort, then I’d like it to be called “Ohfuckshit Syndrome” after the noises made by it’s sufferers as they hurtle towards oblivion.

It’s even worse in the rain. If there is one thing I don’t like (actually there are several; you might have noticed), it’s getting wet. If you see someone riding a bike-shaped lump of rust, dressed up in cheap, leaking waterproofs and enveloped by a blue haze of obscenities, that’ll be me. Of course, in order to reduce the amount of time I spend getting wet I have to go even faster. And the brakes are even worse in the wet. And they stop making that noise so you can’t even hear me coming. And it’s fucking lethal – far more dangerous than smoking ever was.

If you see me coming, get out of the way.

How long is it now?

(Checks…) About a month and a quarter – probably time for another moan about how much I miss ciggies and how bunged up I am. Do people actually read this drivel? Probably not.


I now feel that I belong properly to that club of elite ex-smokers, otherwise known as sanctimonious, self-righteous wankers. I can tut-tut at people hanging around in a cloud of smoke outside the hospital doors. I can make exaggerated coughing noises as I strut past to show how much it offends me. I am sound in the knowledge that I am a better person than any of those pathetic weaklings. Yes, I have given up the evil weed and I am so ever-so-fucking proud of it. Read my almighty blog and weep, hopeless addicts, I am an Ex Smoker.

Is that a bit over the top? Yes. And I don’t do any of that. I still want a ciggy and I still love the smell. Anyway, disregarding the above lies, it shows that my system works, doesn’t it? I can tell you are impressed.