Thursday, April 30, 2009

Between Good And Evil

If you read a bit here you'll know I've been spending a good deal of time and money at the Gym where the personal trainer Adam has had me re-evaluating the nature of pain. His workouts involve a mix of (to me) very heavy weights which I either have to push up or pull around or flex me poor old legs against, together with a refreshing mix of push ups and running very quickly on the treadmill. I have found all this very hard indeed, but I must be honest and say I am enjoying the results - once the pain has worn off.

I was very struck by something Adam remarked upon as I pushed 50KG of weights the other day, a laughably small weight for him but I might as well have been attempting to bench press the Queen Mary. Adam's skill is to add in the 'reps' to take you to just beyond the point of your endurance. Of course the temptation is to quit. But then you will lose face, and this is about as popular in Herne Hill as it is in Hong Kong, at least with me.

Seeing me struggle - I was really pushing with everything my puny body had to offer - and that temptation appear on my face, Adam made a sage remark cleverly designed to motivate the Hendo mentality.

"This is the difference between Good and Evil" he said. "To give up is Evil. To struggle is Good."

I have booked a further ten sessions.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Brief Recap..

My head empties when I work hard and that's been the case in the last few days, hence the radio silence. But here's a few random reflections to end the week.
1. I've been going to work at half past six in the morning and the number of runners pacing the pavements as I sailed past in the Focus has been awesome. A lot of them are wearing rucksacks. Of course they've all been getting ready for the London Marathon and I take my hat off to them. Is not running twenty three miles in the company of thousands of others most peoples idea of Hell? But oddly, I'm tempted, albeit in the way you're tempted to jump off Beachy Head to see what it would be like.
2. Went to a dinner party last night in which the hostess said she found the recession 'really interesting'. Well I'm bloody terrified and the more I read and hear the worse I get. At some point we hacks will get bored of telling you about how deep we're in - roll on that day.
3. My colleague, the excellent Political Correspondent James Landale has returned to work after a battle with Cancer. He looks great and everyone is very pleased. This tends to put reflection no 2 in a sharply reduced perspective. As my Dad says: Who cares about money if you have your health?
4. I have been running a bit and training with scary Adam pretty regularly, and combined with staying (mainly) away from the demon drink some difference is reportedly visible in the Hendo Waistline. Morale was raised when someone remarked on it in the office.
5. The weather is lovely! We went for a regime breaking glass of wine and some lunch at a pub on Friday and sat in the breezy sunshine. Felt good to be alive.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New York Memories

From Chris & Neil In the US

For me most holidays come and go, warmly anticipated then swiftly forgotten. These days I put the pictures in Picasa, the tan fades and the footprint of work swiftly eradicates all the easy going feeling acquired from swanning about in the sunshine.

But one or two trips will always stick in my memory. One was the three weeks Ms T and I spent in California and Nevada around the time of 9/11; infact as I recall we arrived in San Francisco the night before the terrorists struck. Watching America make an overnight transformation from inward looking complacency to huge public grief and sudden outward aggression was something to behold. (CNN: Who ARE the Taliban?... Fox: America Under Attack!). Many people in Europe underestimated the amount of change in the US psychology after the outrage.

The other holiday that I'll never forget was another trip, first to New York and then in the deep south of the US at around the time Princess Diana was killed. Looking through a cupboard I found a big box of photographs and scanned the best ones on to the internet. The shot of New York makes me sad and wistful; I can't see that city's skyline without thinking of the twin towers and the photo now reminds me of a more innocent, more trusting time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Walk On The Heath

To Hampstead for a walk on the heath in bright sunshine and accompanied by a gigantic cheery posse from Urban 75. Beforehand had a fortifying lunch of fish finger sandwiches in the Garden Gate pub. I excused myself to go to the Gents only to encounter there Liam Gallagher, lead singer of Oasis and arguably the finest rock vocalist of his generation, looking after two of his children. What do you say in these circumstances? I elected to say nothing. Oasis fans should know that Liam looked fit, tanned and was wearing a green parka type kagoul much beloved of Mods who have to stand in the rain.

He was having lunch with his family and shook hands with an eleven year old of our party as we were leaving. I thought: this man is utterly unlike the slavering loon depicted in the red tops. Why am I even vaguely suprised about this?

Then it was up the Heath, to look at a Viking ditch, a hollow tree and to do some egg rolling down a hill. I didn't risk a swim in the ponds but if it gets any warmer (always a gamble in the Brit Summer) it could be on the agenda. I fancy a bit of 'wild swimming'.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Twitter is all the rage these days and my cat Dylan now has a twitter account in which he micro blogs his days spent being terrorised by other cats and chilling in the towel rack. Do follow him, if cats are your bag.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

First Day of Summer?

From Regents Park Walk 150409

To Regents Park for a walk from Ms T's new London Walk book. I like this for two reasons, the first being that I get to see aspects of the capital I haven't seen before, and the other being that there's always a pub in easy strike range. We walked through the park next to the massive Georgian residences, then along the canal for lunch at a little bistro called L'Absinthe. I had the steak frites, to nobody's surprise. (I had been in the gym at 8 that morning. Life can't be all hard work etc etc).

Passing the zoo we saw a group of young men wearing orange tabards, standing around next to a fence. Closer up I could see lettering on their jackets which read 'Community Payback'. One of them was painting the railings. The others were watching him.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Double Indemnity

When Ms T and I were away in Greece we read a short novel called 'Double Indemnity' by James M Cain. It's pretty brief but the story of the crooked insurance salesman and his murderous girlfriend exercises a real grip seven decades after the author came up with it. A few years after it saw the light Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler turned it into a movie - and even though it was made in 1944 it's still a scorcher, as I found out when I dragged myself out of bed after a night shift and put it in the DVD.

Barbara Stanwyck, who plays the adulterous killer got one of the movies seven Oscar nominations. Time hasn't blunted her erotic force; in this film she's hot, end of. She spends most of the film in a blonde wig and an anklet which exercises a fatal sexual pull on the hapless Fred MacMurray. And infact she carries the film, although Edward G Robinson as an insurance analyst is also pretty good. When I saw the date of production I wrongly assumed it had been scooped by Gone with the Wind, but no, another movie called 'Going My Way' - a Bing Crosby vehicle - swept the board. Heard of that film? No, neither have I. Double Indemnity is better written up on an excellent blog called Modern Times, and hat tip to them for the poster I've put on the top of this entry.

Ms Stanwyck got her due in the end. On Youtube you can see her get her honorary award from the Academy, presented by a terribly young John Travolta.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Some aircraft are like popstars and have fanclubs. But can there be any more idolised machine than Concorde? When I grew up in Manchester it was a source of civic woe that BA didn't operate scheduled flights of the noisy elitist monster from 'Ringway', as it was called in those days. This was natural from a city which gave birth to Rolls Royce and acted as a midwife to the computer. Now BA has retired its fleet the techy Mancunians have got their wish and have installed one of the beasts in its own pristine purpose built hangar in their airport's viewing area.

I went to see it the other day but my fiver only got me as far as the glass wall of the new building. They're fitting up a restaurant so you can view the machine as you eat your burger. When they're actually open (it was closed at 4pm...why?) they want another fiver for the privilege of going in there and getting on board. I bet they're not short of takers; when Concorde occasionally flew in over our house on chartered flights my Dad would shout and actually run into the garden to see it up closer. It would take passengers on joyrides over the Bay of Biscay. All subsonic. Nobody cared. They were flying in Concorde.

People would pile into their cars, drive out to the airport and literally press their noses into the fence. This graceful bird, white, shiny and a source of national pride was sitting just a few hundred yards away! It could droop its nose! The wings changed shape when it broke the sound barrier! It didn't just fly at Mach 1, it did Mach 2.2! The Yanks had nothing like it! People would shake their heads, turn away, then turn back for some more. And now they can have as much as they like, for a tenner.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dumping the Tech, Hefting the Filofax

For the last few weeks I've changed the way I run my life in a small but retro way.
I used to be leading edge in my organising. My diary was online and synced with my PDA, a Palm TX which was in many ways ahead of its time. And it even played Scrabble! It fitted my geeky staus to a tee. But the truth was that while very high tech - and oh so much part of the 'cloud computing' age we're said to live in - the system was a pain in the bum. It really was tedious to deal with. Just putting in what I was doing next Tuesday seemed to take ages - putting appointments and my work schedule online seemed to take forever.

Now it's a new era for while on a lunchtime wander in Westfield Shopping Centre I was lured by the charms of an A5 Filofax 'Kendal' (see above). It has a chunky serious look about it which seems to suggest that, yes, this is what important people record their things to do in. Infact it even has a 'things to do' section. In short, it tickles my pompous side. And it's so easy; got something to do next Tuesday? Well, just write it in.

A Filofax. They're so Eighties. Back in that decade I used to have one with an embroidered cover which everyone thought was hilariously camp. Now they've survived the hype - and the label of witless yuppie accessory - and become timelessly cool. Well they are, until I see the next funky gadget.

Filofax paid Hendo no money for this blogpost, in case you're wondering.