People….

You have to wonder sometimes exactly how people think. We own (well the bank does actually but that’s by the by) an apartment in Brno. We will be moving back there in a couple of months. It’s the ground floor flat in a four story building meaning that we have three neighbors above us. Various services are shared between the tenants and accounted for at the end of each year such as common power, water and a cleaning.

Really, the building is a microcosm of the world I should think. It’s like a bloody soap opera as well.

The people who live at the top of our nice building seem to believe that the common funds are there to pay for their improvements. In the hallway outside of our front door is a door frame and nearby a pile of bricks, plaster and dust. Apparently, our nice neighbor replaced his front door frame and deposited the unwanted materials there because…. ‘the hallways will be redecorated shortly using the common funds and whoever does that can dispose of his crap at the same time’. Can you believe the sheer cheek!

You see, we have been away and renting out place out. He is in for a shock on our return because its all going back up the stairs to be dumped outside of HIS front door.

Now, for some unknown reason our WC and the WC of the people two floors above us share a meter. Every year, the meter is split based on the number of people occupying each apartment by month. Since ours has been lying empty for several months, you would think there could be little question about the relative shares of this bill given that an apartment is charged for one person per month even if its EMPTY by house rules. I.e. we are helping pay for our nice neighbors flushings. You would think they would be grateful right? Nope.

wc

You see, we renovated our place before moving in and then promptly moving out to come to Prague and they suggest that during this reconstruction, we had the builders tap into said WC water supply for other ‘usages’. They claim that they have been watching the meter (its buried in the basement) and that strangely usage has gone up significantly whenever our place is occupied. Of course, they can’t actually show us any evidence of this as they didn’t actually write down meter readings but just ‘observed’ this. Furthermore, they suggest that when our apartment was rented, it was occupied by three not two people as we suggest and therefore, we should be charged more of the meter.

Well, they are right. Sometime during our renter’s stay at our apartment, his wife gave birth. We, as yet, haven’t had an answer to the question we naturally posed – ‘how does a new born baby flush a toilet?’.

Anyway, to return to the main thrust. Of course, there were no changes to the arrangement whereby the WC is served by one water supply and the rest of our flat by another – independently metered and paid for by me. Its just a matter of inviting them down to our place next time we are there and showing them the meter going around when we turn on the shower, bathroom faucet and/or washing machine!

Now apparently they dispute 2012 and 2013 allocations of water charges. They are due to pay around twice what we will. They comprise 5 adults there all year long, we comprise two adults there for 6-months of the year. Yes, it sounds unfair. I think we are paying too much.

The lady who does the accounting for the building as a service has decided to get this resolved she needs to call a meeting of the owners of the building – all four owners! Of course, we were quiet puzzled as to why this involves anyone but ourselves and the sharers of the meter and, just exactly why would we spend 2000CZK in petrol and lose a day at work to drive down there for a meeting over a 500CZK dispute? Yes. Can you believe it – they are disputing $25 over the two years! That’s TWENTY FIVE dollars.

For said $25, our neighbor has been recording the comings and goings of our tenants – she knew the exact date they left – we didn’t. Recording our comings and goings and whether if we visited we were there long enough to possibly flush the lav. She visits the filthy,. cobweb infested cellar to check that meter all the time. And all for $25. What is wrong with this woman??? Especially since its pretty obvious that it is us that overpay. So far our suggestion that they invest in their own separate meter has fallen on deaf ears.

So, you see, I sometimes wonder about people I do. Luckily, the people above us have so far been as sweet as can be….. but you never know do you.

London and the Brits – Observations

I had a quick trip to London this week and I have decided that London is almost unrecognizable to me these days. So much development work and a real shift in eating habits over the last 20-years means that I really am lost there.

I started my career as a Geologist with BP and after moving down from Aberdeen and a spell at the BP Research Center, I was moved to Britannic House – the tower block on the edge of the City of London. Being in the City, I retraced my steps from the Bank tube station as I would have walked to work some 20+ years ago and not only did I recognize very little but I couldn’t find Britannic House at all! I came home thinking it must have been demolished. A little bit of research this morning shows it was redeveloped and is now called CityPoint. No wonder I couldn’t find it as it looks nothing like the building I worked in. In fact, that whole area around the Barbican is a mess of new office blocks and is completely changed.

The Britannic House I recall.

The Britannic House I recall.

Back when I was working in and around the City (London Bridge, Shaftesbury Avenue included) lunch was a sandwich usually made as you waited in a small newsagents or similar. These days it seems to be all sushi and bento box, Pret a Manger and noodle and soup places. If you want a sandwich its Tesco’s or M&S. Coffee shops abound too. It’s rather nice actually to have a great choice of good food at reasonable prices.

CityPoint...

CityPoint…

In fact, London is a nice city. It has been dramatically improved over the years and while I know folk think Prague a nice place, its got nothing on London! Prague is smaller, less busy and easier to get around but if you want the big city – London has everything including history, architecture, excellent entertainment and dining…..

I’d almost move back except that, I’m sorry to say it but its true, the Brits have to be the whiniest people on the planet. Constantly moaning and complaining about everything from the weather to the Government. I think it comes from watching British TV as it seems to me that British news and documentaries are a constant stream of things you should be moaning about. It has become a real British cultural thing to moan about everything – very noticeable to an outsider or visitor. Maybe it was always that way and its me that’s changed having lived overseas these last 23-years…..

All at Sea

See, I have this dream
We are all at sea
Wet, cold bloody misery
Massive waves throw us
From side-to-side
It’s simply a hellish ride
But when the Sun shines
We can dry out on the deck
Singing what the heck
Cos it’s a fine old day
Sailing through our allotted time
Seeking meaning or sign
What a wonderful ride
Following a golden sunbeam
Tumbling through life’s dream

dream

If you enjoy my poems you may like to purchase one of my three books of poetry?

Taking Responsibility

Last night I saw someone had shared an “Occupy Democrat” post on Facebook. I find it quiet interesting how such political propaganda (from all sides) like this gets air time and even more interesting are the comments. However, these things are lies designed to manipulate, polarize and alienate. I will use the words of someone else to describe what I mean…

Lies and Deception are the enemy of the Truth. They are put forward into the minds and hearts of the people of Earth by those who rage against what is. They are spoken, propagated and acted upon by those with a vested interest in keeping the understanding of the Truth from reaching the Consciousness of each individual.

Lies and deception are insidious, for once they have been believed and accepted by well-meaning individuals, these individuals, in their ignorance, become agents for the spread of these falsehoods. This is how lies and propaganda are spread from generation to generation. A parent is indoctrinated into the lie, and then the parent indoctrinates their children, who in turn indoctrinate their children, and so on, down through the generations.
(From Whatonearthishappening.com – Note: I do not suggest that this website is worth visiting but these words struck me as very well written).

I particularly like the phrase ‘rage against what is’. Just take a look at Facebook or any activist website and you will see that these people ‘rage against what is”. I fall in to the same trap at times as I rage against the ignorance and total lack of thinking of people who simply accept this stuff without question.

We all spread these lies often in a well meaning and well intentioned way – but they are insidious lies and propaganda and we need to really take responsibility and stop.

Back to the ‘Occupy Democrats’ propaganda I started with. The crux of the matter is that industry and the jobs have been lost to the USA because ‘big evil money making corporations, supported by their partners in crime, Republicans (crosses himself vigorously) have progressively destroyed US industry via free trade agreements and their greed. Sorry, thats not true.

Here is the truth.

You – yes you. You want more and more consumer goods and luxury items. You want them cheap, you want them now. When you tire of them, you dump them but you dump them for the next best thing because you want more and more for less and less. That’s you in a nutshell right? Well, guess what, this means that you buy cheaper goods from places like China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, even Japan. You don’t buy more expensive goods produced in the US or the UK. Spotting this, business owners try to satisfy your craving by finding ways to bring you those goods at the price you want to pay. So they move the production of the goods to a cheaper location. Hell, it might even by your job that gets moved to China. So you see, the truth is you are to blame. Only when you stop trying to blame everyone and everything and perpetuate political parties that help you think its someone else’s fault, will things get better.

You want a revolution? Start with yourself.

truth hurts

Thrilling, Enjoyable, Classy, Fun, Fast-paced….

There is a common theme to the reviews of The Last Observer – see if you can spot it! Here are a selection of snippets – to read more please visit the publisher’s page.

..script-writers alert; this would make a cracking film! I enjoyed it immensely

..if you just want a great ride, this book will thrill you..

Really enjoyed the book..

The Last Observer is a classy, well crafted novella which leaves the reader satisfied and hooked. Great read.

..a small part of me would love to see the dialogue in Chapter Twenty – Zeltan Speaks performed by Al Pacino just as he did his famous defense of the human condition as Satan in the movie version of The Devil’s Advocate. If you liked that scene, you’ll enjoy this strikingly honest appraisal of modern magic.

..I couldn’t put the book down once I started reading it!!

.. I am still pondering the surprising ending,..

I had trouble putting it down to go to work or sleep.

.. keeps you turning the pages..

The Last Observer is a fun adventure..

It was a captivating mystery from the start with an unexpected twist at the end.

It is a very fast paced read with more emphasis on action than on detail… or so it seems until you realize that along with the dose of entertainment you’ve been drawn in to an intense lesson on the nature of reality.

Definitely a recommended read!

Come on Gary can’t leave it there!

So why not write your review of this talked about and unusual magical tale – buy it here.

LO Cover

Ice Symbols

Finally we have some snow here in Prague. As I look out of the window today of the room that serves for my office, it is that beautiful grey sky, leaden with intent, snowflakes falling gently and undisturbed whiteness everywhere. I love such days. Its forecast to be this way for a few days too so maybe we will get some sledging in before it all melts. Snow is marvelous if you think about. Unique crystals of the stuff that show the miracle of creation in every flake. A warm blanket of cold stuff for Mother Earth. Initially perfect in every way.

I say initially because it melts eventually turning into freezing cold puddles of brownish mess. Before it melts, it gets hardened and compacted and covered with yellowish patches where the dogs melted it. Sometimes the whiteness is washed with dirt and mud from passing cars and the snow becomes a collector of dirt. Eventually, it all melts away and disappears revealing once more the green fecundity it once hid.

1-IMG_1709 (2)

It’s all cycles. Birth and death. Freshness and staleness. Freezing and melting. It’s the natural way of things and if you contemplate it, you will find that like everything else, it is a symbol with many meanings and much to be learned…..

The Journey Home

Did you think there was no coming back
Did you think I was digging my own hole
Eyes seeking eyes lips seeking lips
Anger rises and with words on the attack
Come on surely you didn’t think…
But of course you did, didn’t you
It’s raining memories now as I understand
My dreams and my thoughts just made that link
Insane, it’s just another bloody mess
Life is like that when we truly do learn
Hanging upside down to see you right
Is there something you’d like to confess?
Hand in hand, walking through stills
Pictured the way the lens remembered you
It’s a slog, a long climb towards the Sun
A life rich in bumps, holes and hilly hills
Drenched in salty sweat and tears
Life goes on and on (and on)
I’m drifting, simply drifting away
Carried there by the words of an ageless seer.

staircase