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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Chapter 7 - A story about Falmouth and itchy trousers

Ok – so despite my little interludes – It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a full chapter. Please don’t think that I’ve gone back on my 11th resolution...I knew from quite early on that I’d be really busy around this time – so I didn’t want to “force write” something in an hour when I actually wanted to take the time to properly answer some questions and to briefly tell you about what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks. Does that make sense? Anyway  - lets get started…..

I’ll start this chapter by answering a few random questions...... (random being the operative word)

Do you chew pens?
As anyone in my office will happily tell you......Yes. I have a particular fondness for pen lids...meaning that I have a large number of lidless pens in my bag. I have improved though as I no longer leave my much chewed pen lids on the desk (check me out – and for those of you on resolution count – that IS NOT one of them.....

Are you a good cook?
In complete honesty...I think I’m part of a growing number of men that actually really enjoy cooking. Obviously that doesn’t automatically mean that I’m a good cook – but no one has died or got ill from my cooking yet (famous last words). I love making lasagne and Spaghetti Bolognese... Wifey still (without question) makes the best roast dinner though!

What is your most embarrassing moment?
In complete honesty - there are a large number of moments to choose from so I’ll select one.
A couple of years ago I was genuinely chuffed to be invited to join some form of think tank group for our company. At this point I can’t remember what the group was in place to actually do – or what the catchy flashy instantly forgettable name of the group was (like SWAT = stupid word acrostic things – something that our company is VERY fond of) but anyway....The date of the first meeting arrived....and I was ready. I was nervous because the chieftain of the known universe was going to be in the first meeting of this working group (translation = director of company) – but I was ready...I had ideas! I was prepared for action. I put on my best suit in preparation...I even shaved and attempted ironing clothes myself (before failing and begging Wifey to iron stuff for me). I made the journey to the venue.
On getting out of the car I heard a small noise - Nothing drastic...but something that sounded like a little rip. I didn’t think much of it.....but I thought it would be in my best interests just to go to the toilet to make sure that I still looked super smashing. I did the checks...... Shirt intact. No clump of facial hair missed whilst shaving. Hair still looking like Sonic. Nothing in teeth. Jacket clear of low flying seagulls – I quickly concluded that I still looked amazing and that the noise must have come from someone else. Unfortunately - as I ran my hand over the back of my trousers I discovered that this was not the case at all. Now I’m accustomed to rips. We’ve all caught a T-shirt in a tree branch or something stupid like that. But this was not a rip. Ohhh no. This was more of a gaping chasm that no number of safety pins (because there are so many available in an office toilet) could fix. This was a problem (to put it mildly) – but as I’m not one to panic (gulp) I decided to think rationally about my options....whilst realising (in a bit of an “it all makes sense moment”) that the reason everyone had been giggling as I walked passed them to the toilet was actually because they were laughing at me and the sight of my Superman boxers. Any hope I had of escaping this with my dignity intact had now slipped away. It was time for some serious damage limitation....

Option 1 – Find some duct tape (because as everyone knows – duct tape fixes everything). Unfortunately the only duct tape present in my bag was a silver / grey colour and my trousers were black. As I didn’t want to draw further attention to my trousers by creating a racing stripe down my arse - I decided against this plan.

Option 2 – Walk out of the office with my back firmly placed against the wall like some form of caterpillar – perhaps using a disguise (like a plant) to conceal my exit. As everyone had seen me come in to the office though leaving like this would surely show that I now knew what they already knew – and that hugely embarrassed was an understatement for how I was feeling.

Option 3 – Develop a Mission Impossible style exit plan using windows, high-tech rope and things which would help me stick to windows. Whilst this option had its merits – it unfortunately became unstuck at a lack of windows, high tech rope and things which would have helped me stick to the windows. Strangely enough – the fact that I hadn’t recently (and by recently I mean ever) trained for a manoeuvre like this didn’t come in to my thinking……..

Option 4 – Use the items contained within my bag to create an object or item that would instantly make everything ok again. As I had recently emptied my bag – I was fully aware that it contained a notepad, a number of lidless pens, some duct tape, a can of Rio and a Dairylea Dunker. As I am not Macguyver or (much as I might have wanted to be) a member of the A Team – I decided rather quickly that this was the correct solution.

Which left me with the rather uncomfortable Option 5 – Attach suit jacket around waist (because lets face it attaching anything item of clothing around your waist looks cool)
 and walk out of the office door like nothing has happened. Get into the (very close by) town centre. Buy new trousers. Get back to office in time for meeting. Meeting room door is right by office door so no one should see me come back into the office.
I attached my suit jacket and commenced my completely and utterly foolproof plan.
It’s worth me pointing out at this moment that in fact my plan was not foolproof (because plans conceived in office toilets always are). I’d gotten out of the office ok – that part was fine. But I hadn’t planned on the temperature. I’d somehow forgotten that we were in the middle of a bitingly cold winter and the only part of clothing that could have kept me warm had been placed around my waist. That was a small miscalculation. But for the sake of my dignity – I soldiered on. I also hadn’t really thought out though the actual logistics of my master plan. I say this because although I knew that the town centre was nearby – I didn’t actually know where any form of trouser selling shop was located. I also hadn’t taken into account the time….my meeting was at 09:30 – and at this point it was 08:45. I rushed into what I thought was the town centre to see an abundance of Poundstretcher like shops and shops selling pasties – but I could see nothing that would sell trousers. There wasn’t even a charity shop. I started to panic – the thought of walking into this meeting with Superman showing out of the back out my trousers did not bear thinking about. But then I saw a sign that I can safely say that I’ve never been happy to see before. A sign that gave me hope – M&S. I ran into the shop holding my suit jacket in place and quickly went to the mens clothing section. Trying not to look at the price tags (work trousers are normally purchased from Matalan) I looked through all of the trousers whilst trying to find my size. One pair in all of the smart trousers were my size and most typically – they were the most expensive pair. I grimaced as I paid for them and then put them on straight away. Not only were they expensive – but they were also made of the most uncomfortable material known to man. But it didn’t matter. I had fixed the trouser problem. Feeling quite pleased with myself – I started to think about how and why I had been worried in the first place as I made my way back to the office. I even managed to get in without anyone seeing me and sat down in the meeting room awaiting the rest of the “think tank”.
My friend was the first person to come into the meeting room and I jokingly told them all about my funny experience and about how relieved I was that my ordeal was over. The rest of the group then came into the meeting room (including the chieftain of the universe) – at which point my friend decided to share my story with the whole group as an ice breaker. I felt as if the ground had swallowed me up and all that was left of me was my amazingly itchy yet extremely expensive M&S trousers. Embarrased didn’t cover the feelings I was experiencing. My mind started to drift to the other options that were available to me. If I had taken another option – would the situation have worked out better (lets face it – probably not)? If I combined Dairylea and Rio would it create some form of master virus to give my friend the world’s greatest Zitnose in retaliation? I survived the meeting by saying very little and by sitting sheepishly in the corner. On the positive side though everyone laughed (even the chieftain) and after a day or so I even started to see the funny side of it all…..A feeling that quickly vanished when I went downstairs a couple of days later to discover that Milo the destroyer had put a number of teeth holes in my new M&S swanky trousers…….and had spent the night pretending that my new trousers were his girlfriend…….  
-Later in the week though I had to laugh – as I discovered that a seagull had launched a dirty bomb which had landed perfectly on the back of my friend’s head….

The Cast list

Ben Heppenstall
I’ve known Ben now for about 16 years and as my ex housemate – he knows all about what it is like to live with me (and he’s still my friend!). I’m really lucky to have Ben as one of my guitarists because not only is he is a genius with a guitar – but because he is also a lovely guy. Ben and Matt work so well together in the studio - and between them have probably been behind some of the best moments of my album (their payment is taken in lovingly mocking me and that’s fine because I do it myself) Oh – did I mention that he used to be in a (fantastic) band called Shockabuku and that his band-member nickname was Uncle Spanky? (He's also an amazing husband and Dad...)

Chris Banwell
Friend, confidante, joker and all around cheeky scamp – Chris has been my friend for a number of years and every time I spend time with him it feels like I have known him for so much longer. Chris is an encourager and has a great ability to be able to see truth in situations and in people that others may have missed. He invests his time in people and watches them grow. Banwell also has an amazing ability to inspire others and is one of the most humble people I have ever met.
But perhaps the thing I love and most admire about Banwell is his heart for the people that life has taken apart and chucked aside.

Phil Slatter
Big Friendly Giant is the very brief (yet surprisingly accurate) description that I would use to describe one of my closest friends – Phil Slatter. In a group of people making noise – Phil will speak and the others will silently fall to listen. He isn’t the loudest person (not a bad thing) and he is so calm and collected that you are fully aware that his head and heart are loaded with wisdom and integrity. I’m proud to be able to call Phil my friend and I’ll be forever grateful to him for being so dependable throughout my life. Phil is an avid Wycombe Wanderers fan and is one of the only people I know that I would consider to be a bigger film buff than me. Phil is married to the lovely Rachel (more on her at a later date) and is father to the beautiful Caitlin.

And Introducing (mainly so I can be smug and say that you heard about them here first):
The Fal-Collective
Tuesday 19th February 2013
I spent the evening of the 19th February in the studio with Ben and Matt working on some of Ben’s guitar parts for the album. I’m constantly amazed at how privileged I am to have these guys involved in the recording of my album and I’m still staggered at how much they believe in the project (and actually at how good some of it sounds). One of my favourite things about being in the studio is the banter (which on this occasion was mainly pointed at me) – and this evening was no exception. Above all else though – it’s just great to spend time with people that you really get on with.

Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th February
Location: Falmouth
Not relevant at all....just very funny
A number of months ago my friend Chris arranged for me to head down to deepest darkest Cornwall to hang out with him, his lovely lady Danutia (more on her at a later date as well) and a group of musicians called the Fal-Collective.
Friday evening was spent in a few pubs (with a brief trip to Pizza Express included somewhere in the middle) and just hanging out with Chris, Danutia and their friends. Instantly – I felt at home in Falmouth (even if i am a city boy) and I can’t quite describe how welcome I felt. I’d only briefly met Danutia beforehand – but it didn’t feel like that at all. You know how sometimes situations, conversations and relationships can feel a bit forced or even put on? Well this didn’t feel like that at all. Danutia is a truly amazing lady (Chris has done VERY well for himself) – and I can’t wait to get to know her more because she’s ace!

Saturday morning saw the members of the Fal-Collective (Sophie, Jamie M, Jamie B, Joff and James) and others descend upon the Tardis like flat where Chris (and others) live (I still have no idea who officially lives in the flat) for “meat sweat” levels of bacon, a chance to hang out and a q & a session on worship / a bit of teaching led (vaguely by me). What followed though was amazing – a simple time of “practice” for the evening session (service that evening) led into what can only be described as an immensely powerful time of worshipping God together (in a flat – in Falmouth). I make a point about mentioning that this was in a flat for two reasons. 1. Worship doesn’t just have to happen in a Church on a Sunday. 2. The flat window is on eye level with the top deck of a double decker close your eyes and imagine being on the top deck of a bus and stopping outside a building where you can see 10 people playing guitar (and other very odd instruments inside – NO RAINBOW STRAPS PRESENT THOUGH). On reflection – it must look so weird! Oh well...I digress.
The Saturday evening arrived (after a trip to a different pub) and after setting up the Church building (and after numerous power surges) the Fal – Collective and I led people from the Church in a time of worship (still no rainbow straps). It was a complete honour to be part of and I have the feeling that I have made some very good new of whom has started working on the artwork for the album and so looks AMAZING (thanks again James). I’m so determined to go and hang out again – that I’ve booked in a return trip in June – but this time taking Wifey away for a few days on our own first..........On another note...keep a serious eye open for the Fal – Collective. I might well be biased – but even from my previous industry experience I can say that there is a lot of potential there (Think Bon Iver meets Mumford and throw in a bit of Rend Collective)

Saturday 2nd March
Ahhhh. Stag – Do day. I spent the evening with 50 guys in Cheltenham having a curry for Adam Legge’s  stag – do. And what an amazing time I had! I think what astounded me most though was the sense of community. Everyone was together for one thing, for one reason and for one person – to see him into the next stage of his life. It’s a celebration of the time before – and a welcome into what is approaching. Stag-Do’s get a lot of bad press (some rightly so) – but some that I’ve been on have really surprised me as they have provided me with some of the most memorable moments of my life – and not even through doing stupid things – just through hanging out with a group of friends. I’m often asked what Church should be like (and far be it from me to be an authority on the subject) – but in some ways it should be very much like a stag do with everyone coming together for one purpose – to celebrate one person – whilst always looking out for each other along the way.
Later that night I met up with Andy Howson back in Gloucester for a late night drink whilst Wifey was off babysitting celebrities’ children (no joke). Meeting up with Andy certainly wasn’t by accident either – as I got to my front door only to realise that I’d left my door keys in the curry house. So I went to his house and Andy made me hot chocolate with marshmallows in (how sweet) – and even put up with my “after wine” snoring. Now there my friends is true friendship......

 Sunday 3rd March
Amazing morning at the Holy House followed by a trip with Cass to see my beautiful nieces, sister and brother in law, my parents, Phil and Rachel with gorgeous Kaitlin and my extra family – the Flynns (much more on them to come at some point).  A short summary for the day goes like this: “This day serves as a great reminder that I am incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people around me”.  I can’t really say more about it than that to be was just a great reminder.....and another day to bank (something that probably wasn’t the case for my colleagues on Monday morning as we picked up a curry on the way home and I had beans on toast for lunch).

I’m not going to look at anything else this week but check this story out which I absolutely adored.....

So – I’ve compared church to a stag do, mentioned bowel movements, retold a tale of ripped trousers and found community whilst being reminded about how lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family. My work here is done.

Remember to ask any questions you may have about life, the universe and everything else by emailing – and you can also now subscribe to 10 resolutions by email – simply fill in the big white box above the chapter. Right - I'm off to see if i've just missed the postman delivering my new swanky running shoes.....Until next week.....