Turbulent times for UK

Dear Friends,

Lordy lord is the world becoming a turbulent place to live. UK is sinking in a political quagmire with a power hungry mad man at the helm but the alternatives are not looking much better. Hurricane Dorian shafted the USA as if it wasn’t enough already getting rogered by the President. The German power house is sliding into a recession and Russia’s grandiose plans for expansion into the West are in full swing. Everywhere the populist movement is building walls, separating communities, splitting nations and nationalism is on the rise…..If this trend doesn’t stop soon us men will need to grow a narrow moustache and get used to wearing horse riding boots with black Hugo Boss pants. Hopefully common sense will prevail and we will soon wake up and smell the coffee. Get some proper leadership in place, stop giving decision making power to people that aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and let’s collaborate and work together with nations on big issues like the environment and climate change. Just hearing that B-word is driving me mad and it will be on Halloween (Oct 31st) so perhaps the idea of a vampire or Zombie isn’t too scary in comparison to a no deal Brexit.……but don’t worry it’s all under control here are some photos of the leader who will sail our futures off into the sunset……I am not convinced!!!!

On to happier topics of family life. Blackmail and ransom are marvellous tricks to use for children. Earlier in the year we said to our kids if you get good grades at school, tidy your own room every day, stop fighting, speak politely and with respect to each other and your parents, and manage to do all of the above consistently for 6 months then you will be allowed a puppy. We knew full well we were more likely to win the national lottery than them achieving these impossible goals. I got slightly worried when an old university friend came and stayed with me and said the following “My gosh what have you done to your children they are incredible you don’t hear them, they only speak when spoken to…..are you giving them pharmaceuticals or some sort of anti-depressants.” I said no it’s just the promise of a puppy…..they want it that badly they have transformed into mini-robots that follow every line of code written by the parents. Law and behold after 6 months the parents were defeated and we had to buy them a puppy and we didn’t want one…..can’t believe our children succeeded in this challenge. My wife and I were quite critical of the type of dog we could have. It must not bark (so be a mute), it must not shed, and minimal exercise requirements. Well that is pretty difficult criteria because most dogs will either do 1 or 2 or all three of the above. We found through some friends a Havanese (a little Cuban communist rebel) that met all of the three criteria so it’s practically not a dog but more like owning a little robot where you can take the batteries out when you want it. His name is Bear and he has completely transformed our family. The other day when I was in the park calling his name and the lady next to me had a dog called Teddy we did have a quiet chuckle…..her high pitch voice “Teddy” followed by my gravelly whiskey voice “Bear”.

Bear photo

The summer came and went. We were quite active and managed to take the kids on a motorhome holiday on the East coast of England with some friends. Wifey is not a big fan of camping because she doesn’t regulate temperature well so in a tent she is either sweating like a bi*** or freezing her backside off but isn’t that the case for everyone in a tent?……so I thought next best thing has got to be a motorhome. We rented a 7 meter long beast with space for 6 folks and drove from Cambridge to Norfolk and Suffolk coastline. The kids loved it, marsh mellows around the fireplace cosy bunk bed in back of the motorhome, telling spooky stories around the fireplace late at night….

You do meet some interesting and kind folks on those campsites if you like to discuss welding techniques and latest width of boiler pipes, but this was all about the new doggie and kids. They had a blast, unfortunately our toilet was missing a rubber sealant to keep odours from septic tank at bay so the van smelled like the public toilet of Calcutta train station after 2 nights, and the bed upstairs felt like I was being buried alive as there was only 15cm between my face and the ceiling claustrophobia takes on a whole new meaning and unless you are a 5 ft gold medallist gymnast forget about nuggi nuggi time with wifey, the showers you had to press a button and then you would get scolded by burning water for 5 seconds before you had to hit the button again. Typical British summer weather you would wear shorts and t-shirts then get hit by freezing wind and come back shivering with a wind burn, then the next day you would wear all your warm gear and get caught in blistering sunshine and 29c thinking you were in some desert scene from Lawrence of Arabia. After 5 days of survival for both families we returned gladly to our homes in London and appreciated the services British Gas and Thames Water offered more than ever, but it certainly was an adventure.

Twenty years ago I started my career at GE Capital, back in the corporate heydays when spending on young graduates was infinite. The days where corporate greed was good and young graduates benefited with global training programmes that just wouldn’t get approved by today’s penny pinching HR departments. We were 10 Europeans that got hired during the tech boom and went to Stamford Connecticut to meet with our 30 US colleagues to start a 6 week boot camp of coding, networking, presenting and learning to deal with massive hangovers and still get up every day to go to work. A good skill to learn. To say we had a blast is an understatement it was basically an extension of university but with money in our pockets so we fixed the main issue we had while at college. Our liver was evil so it got punished, we worked hard and we drank hard and we had the youthful spark in our eye full of naive optimism that the world owed us something. I organised a re-union at the same establishment and 20 of us turned up. During those twenty years a lot had happened…. we now have the smart phone, social media, war on terror and the tables had turned we now had families, mortgages, divorces, children, successes, failures, everything that life could throw at us had happened so we turned up with bigger waistlines, grey hair, wrinkles, but deep down we were all still the same. We had the same sense of humour, we laughed at the same jokes but our tolerance for alcohol and partying had gone down….where before we stayed up until 5am now we all decided to retire to our hotel rooms at 2am. We had matured into delicate middle age adults that were sensible so even though life had tried to grind us down most of us maintained the youthful spark required to make the trip happen. Here is a snapshot of the motley crew in 1999 and then again 2019……

Don’t worry we didn’t have a fatality rate of 50% it is just everyone is busy so it is difficult to make it happen. We have all weathered a bit….but on the whole it’s not too shabby when you think about what life threw at us! On that happy bomb-shell I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Autumn…..

All the breast,

Danepack Shakur

Have a fantastic summer

Dear Friends,

I keep harbouring on about climate change and it still infuriates me when people say it doesn’t exist. In March we had 26c and then in early May it went back down 3c……these are the symptoms of mother earth with a high fever. When I was a kid growing up in the 1980’s weather was consistent we had 4 seasons and summer was predictable. We spend most of the days by the beach and then on the odd day where it rained we would do some other family activity. Now you simply couldn’t plan that, being a weather forecaster today and getting it right 5 days ahead is like winning the national lottery. A few days ago it rained the entire month of June’s predicted rainfall in 6 hours. Flooding and river banks overflowing and having 4 seasons in the week is becoming the norm. Yet some political leaders still deny it……WHY? Now explain to me is it just a random coincidence that 5 of the hottest summers ever recorded were in the last 8 years, Co2 levels in the last 70 years have gone up to 400 parts per million when historically for 800.000 years it always ranged between 180-280ppm.  Come on its like saying Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK alone from that book store. You just know it isn’t true.  The evidence is too strong that we human beings are writing cheques for mother earth that we can’t cash. Now if you really want to have an impact become vegan, don’t travel, wear sandals, grow a beard, turn farmland back into forests, reduce consumption of plastics, control population growth etc….the list goes on. But are we willing to sacrifice all these luxuries we take for granted? Doing the above sounds a bit like joining ISIS and then going to Chernobyl reactor 4 in April 1986’……it will be hot and sure as hell not much fun but one day we might not have a choice.

During the kids half term we went to York to see my Viking ancestors as if that wasn’t enough for a 10 and 7.5 year old we decided to swing by Stonehenge and to torture the kids even further we decided to visit the Salisbury Cathedral. The kids were like great another old building with moss growing up the side and lots old farts standing there going “oohhh, wow, beautiful, look at that stained glass”…Then just in between all the history and architecture we would drive on Britain’s congested road network and I would have to endure “Dad are we there yet?” “How much longer before we are there” I would occasionally respond don’t worry there are more old building waiting for you and somehow it stopped them asking any further questions.  The tragedy of it was when you ask them afterwards the highlight of the half term was visiting KFC and watching Aladdin and Secret Life of Pets 2. Forget about the fascinating 1200 year history, amazing architecture, and stained glass, nope give them some fast food and a bit of Hollywood and they are in their element. Why do we bother with all that holiday expense when I all I need to do is drive to nearest fast food joint and get them a cinema nearby. If I put on my kids glasses and think back to 1982 which was the time I saw my dad cry to E.T, I am sure my parents also brought me to see old buildings but do I remember them, nope not one little bit!!! but I do remember they opened the first McDonald’s in my hometown and I saw E.T. You see we are no different from our kids and we are more like our parents than you think.

In Early June my wife and I celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary and my youngest daughter (Mila 7 years old) who is quite the romantic said “Dad tonight Maya and I will go early to bed so you and mum can have a romantic evening, we will put out the candles for you and help you prepare a dessert” I thought how sweet and considerate is that. During the day we were out shopping for the romantic evening and we stopped by a specialist confectionery shop to buy some salted caramel fudge. During the drive on the way home I made a comment to mummy on the front seat with some slightly sexual undertones where I said “I can’t wait to have some of your fudge tonight” My youngest daughter giggled on backseat and said “dad I know what you meant”- she caught me red handed but I quickly denied it. The following day when we came down for breakfast my daughter looked at me and said “How was mum’s fudge last night” (and then she winked at me)……I was lost for words but her timing and delivery was a master class in comedy – I am shocked at how much kids understand these days even our adult code language has been broken…….I feel like I am driving with Bletchley park (code breakers) on the back seat and they have completely unravelled our enigma machine. On that happy bombshell I want to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful summer and be careful next time you speak next to young kids they understand a whole lot more than you think.

All the best,

Danepack Shakur

Danepack gets on with Spring 2019

Dear Friends,

Brexit analogy: We have all been on a night out with a mate who says “Its shit here – lets go somewhere else” Then when you leave the place you realise he has no idea where to go and the place you left won’t let you back in…..the UK is standing in a kebab shop at 2am arguing about whose fault it is – when I read this twitter message I laughed but there is also a painful truth to it. Theresa May doesn’t have a clue, parliament is about as clear headed as Joe Fraizer was in the 14th round of the Thriller in Manilla, The EU is fed up with negotiating and just wants to get on with more important matters and if one more person uses the “B” word I will vomit. The uncertainty is continuing and all the people who voted for it are slowly dying or losing their jobs as global companies decide to shift focus to places that are in the zone where the market is. Humanity is a funny old thing….we take a few steps forward and then somehow our imperfections allow us to take a giant leap backwards. Last time Europe decided to go all nationalist and independent 70 years ago it didn’t end too well for about 50 million people but it seems everyone has forgotten that so let’s just press ahead with our nationalist agenda and forget about collaboration, partnership and closeness of our neighbours. I simply can’t wait to spend endless hours at embassies applying for Visa’s, standing in long queues in airports and to pay £12 for some strawberries……UK is going back to the 1970’s I can’t wait to wear bell bottoms, brown, purple and yellow clothes…….. Unfortunately my thinning hair won’t really stand up to a 1970’s afro but I will try my best to participate with enthusiasm in riots, demonstrations, football hooliganism, fuel and energy rations.

2019 has actually started out really well for us. Business is booming, wife needs to visit a chiropractor soon from carrying all the gold bullion into the bamboo hut in our garden, the cleaner has asked for a 20% pay rise and I went berserk in the garden and deforested most of it. I must have watched too many Vietnam War movies as a child, Agent Orange doesn’t have a leg on me! When I went into the garden hung over on one cold winter day with an axe, garden shears and a saw…..after two hours of screaming, moaning and covered in thorns from top to toe there were no winners…..only survivors. I butchered every living green thing that had survived winter. I was merciless, ruthless, and brutal and annihilated every organic biomass matter.  Wife came out screaming “what have you done!!!!!” I turned around and had the same frenzy look as Jack Nicholson in the Shining when he popped his head through the bathroom door and yelled back “Daddy is in the garden”. I left nothing to chance it was like the first images of Hiroshima in August 1945 just me, some garden equipment, a bit of blood and lots of dead green stuff on the ground.  The next thing I heard was ….”oh my god my beautiful rose bush…..this thing has survived the war and look what you did to it” Well who knows maybe it was Nazi spy….it had to go. It was evil, covered in thorns and only for a few weeks gave me something nice to look at. Get rid of the bitch (I am referring to the rose bush). She immediately ordered me to stop my savagery…my old Viking blood was flowing and swinging that axe into a defenceless bush or tree felt like year 950 AD when my ancestors occupied this bloody island. She ordered me to ring an expensive tree surgeon to rescue the damage I had done. OH my god what is he going to say when he sees my battlefield of Nam in 69’. I chose someone based on their image, he made Charles Bronson look like kindergarten kid. When he arrived he complimented my work and said don’t worry the rose bush will be back in no time. …phew! That was a close one the wife didn’t castrate me and I came back from the spare room. Of course I tipped the guy £50 quid for his compliments. If you ever need a tree surgeon I can highly recommend him. Here is a photo:

Treet Surgeon

The kids had half-term last month and we thought now with the future political bleak outlook we might as well get used to spending holidays in Britain. So we drove down to Shoreham on Sea to stay on a houseboat. It was a marvellous experience – we stayed on a boat, inside a boat within another boat. Yes you read that right. The Houseboat consisted of a Dodge Fire engine truck that had been converted into a house boat. The roof was another boat that was upside down and then when you came inside the boat you slept inside a catamaran hobie cat 16 as a bed frame. Whatever the artist was smoking or drinking I want some of that because his creative juices were endless. See some photos attached.

We had some blissful days playing scrabble, cards, listening to music, walking along the beach and getting some much needed time and love with the family.  Life is as good as it gets….and long may it continue. I hope you and your loved ones had a terrific start to 2019.

All the best,
Danepack Shakur

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear Friends,

Christmas has kicked in the booze is free flowing and the cholesterol levels have shut through the roof and you know what? It feels great to feel the pulse and heart rate slow down, the internal combustion engine trying to fight its way through the grease, honestly I think my internal organs need some lubrication all those vegetables and boring salads throughout the year have made my internal pipework a little rusty from all that healthy stuff. My waistline has already gone up a notch I noticed the thread on my button for my favourite “large trousers” is looking a little stretched and thinning just like my hair.

I was outside the school gates earlier this month and one of the parents came up to me and said “hey you ….(the big round one she was undoubtedly thinking), would you mind being Santa Clause for the kids Christmas fair this year”. Oh really that sounds exciting, sitting inside a small room with a huge costume on for 5 hours with kids screaming on your lap, wow the perfect recipe for getting over a hangover, NOT. Then my youngest daughter walked up to me and said “wow daddy I can’t believe they asked you to be Santa Clause….that’s amazing please do it (she was thinking major bragging rights my dad is Santa)” Of course when someone asks you that politely it was a no brainer I am doing it. Here I was seeing myself like a mixture between Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp in the looks department but in reality it is more like Dan Akroyd and John Belushi. As I was getting ready one of the parents peeked into the changing room and said “Oh how great you don’t need much make up or padding you already look like Santa Clause” Fantastic way to empower my self-esteem right on I really feel like Santa now. Grumpy, overweight, high cholesterol, red cheeks and ready to scare the kids. As I was sitting in the school grotto I was impressed by my statistics, out of the 60 kids I saw only 7 ran away screaming and crying and about 40 were completely shocked and didn’t say a word just drooled on themselves like me after a heavy night out of course without the drool as I am too dehydrated and have no saliva. Three kids said “hey its Mila H dad” and a few just thought “mum and dad are you happy now I got to see this Santa who really doesn’t exist and you have been lying to me for a decade and when I grow up I will need to see a psychiatrist to sort out my emotional issues as a result of this lie”.

Now the good news was that after 5 hours in a hot grotto I lost 3 kg so you see even events you might not always look forward to can end up having a positive outcome. Furthermore, imagine on 60 fridges around London there is a photo of Santa sitting looking mighty big and saying “ho ho ho”, it made my daughter very proud and for some of those kids the idea behind Santa is still alive and kicking.

On that happy bombshell, I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.  I am sending you a virtual toast and as we say in Denmark “Skaal” or in the UK “bottoms up”.

I look forward to connecting with you in 2019.

All the best,

Danepack Shakur

Danepack Shakur Dec 2018 Update

Dear Friends,
Trump is busy firing his staff, Putin is busy sharing his power, money and control with himself and good old Teresa May is getting more grey by the day as Brexit negotiations are gripping her by the crotch and pulling her into the quicksand. Honestly it has to be the worst job in the world. Imagine every time she goes to Brussels the 27 former school mates see her as an outcast, no one wants to include her in their games, she is a goner. When she then takes the Eurostar back to the UK 16 million people (49% who voted remain) think the government has lost the plot. If she proposes another referendum the 17 million people who voted leave will go bananas – honestly that job is rough – In the meantime the dude who got us into this terrible mess is swanning about getting paid extra ordinary fees to open his Etonian small lips at large conferences – several posters sprang to my mind

 

 

 

I have often discussed ageing and its side effects. One of the common symptoms is being slightly more forgetful, having trouble to remember names of people, sometimes even just remembering certain words. One of my good German friends from University after the third pint of lager would begin to struggle with words and he would just start to name people, cars, houses, university degree, pet anything would become “Thingy”. For example it would go like this “Hallo Junge the other day I saw this girl driving her favourite “thingy” along campus, she went into the building with the big thingy on the roof and when I met her at the student bar she was wearing this thingy with fluorescent colours” In most of the times it didn’t matter to me because as a human being listening to the story I could in 9 out of 10 times figure out what was meant by thingy. Unfortunately for my children they are not quite so understanding of me when every 4th word I use is “thingy”. And even worse for kids “thingy” is often used in the playground to describe their private parts. So here dad is screaming “Come on Maya can you please pick up this “thingy” (which is some doll/toy) and she starts giggling because she thinks it refers to something else.

 

The other day I proved that human beings are still more incredible than Robots and Artificial Intelligence. Google has invested billions of dollars into AI (Artificial intelligence) and currently have 100 million servers trying to use data with robots and machine learning to figure out everything about you.  I was looking for an electrical splitter but I typed in “I need thingy to separate mains electric supply”. The robot couldn’t do diddly squat, it went blank, 100 million servers and big data went straight down the toilet. One hour later I walked into an electrical shop where the man behind the counter certainly wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and within 1 split second he named what I needed – so the human being could figure out “thingy” but the robots couldn’t. Oh god don’t you just love humans. Now speaking of robots and AI am I the only person who ends up shouting abuse at AI when I can’t get through to a human being at a contact centre. I wanted to cancel my sky subscription but the robots just wouldn’t let me speak to anyone yet their small robot ears were incredibly bad at understanding what I said. I would spend 15 mins just to identify who I am – ffs I know who I am but for your narrow little robot mind it just isnt enough, more security checks and you are a terrible listener. Honestly, human beings for now are still Human 2-0 Robots.

 

I love GOD but did he really have to include mosquitoes and moths on Noah’s ark. For many years in our house no matter what I did to my favourite Cashmere jumpers they would get ravaged by some nasty moths, and I had the Hells Angels of Moth’s living in our house. They had no fear. It didn’t matter which cupboard I hid my jumper in the moths would use their GPS location system and send some heavy hitters into the cupboard and with their pin point accuracy attack the part most visible to human beings. I mean I am a charitable dude and would gladly have shared some cashmere from the arm-pit part of jumper, but somehow oh no that wasn’t good enough for the moth’s in our house. They would always target the stomach section of the jumper so if you did wear it everyone knew the moths had a threesome in your jumper. And the weird part was the moths would use big data and share locations of which part of jumper to attack so generation after generation they always went on holiday on the same part of every cashmere jumper……honestly those fuckers must have ruined thousands of pounds worth of jumpers in our household in the past 2 decades. But there is a happy ending to this story you see moths are posh bastards and very picky – they revel in cashmere but it has to be the expensive one so as we started buying more stuff from Primark, TK Maxx and other discount outlets the posh little bastard turned their snobbish little noses up at us. As our neighbourhood gentrified and many new home owners with new cashmere jumper’s moved in across the road the moths gave us the finger and moved out. You see the morale of the story is don’t buy expensive clothes if you want to live in peace and quiet comfort, on the contrary if you fancy a moth orgy in your house go to Harrods and get the latest cashmere jumpers.

I hope you and your loved ones are doing well.

All the breast,

Danepack Shakur

PS Separate Christmas message to follow in late Dec…….

 

Enjoy the Autumn of 2018

Dear Friends,

Following up on my previous meteorological observations from two decades of writing a blog I have to conclude this was just the most astonishing summer. I am afraid to say global warming is without a doubt alive and kicking and did we reap the benefits in Northern Europe this summer ‘oh yeah baby it was da’ bomb’. I do feel terribly sorry for the polar bears and the Inuit’s working along the fractured ice caps at the poles but from a purely selfish standpoint and living in London it is marvellous. It was pretty much 25-33c full sun and blue sky for 3 months non-stop and when you live in a country that is normally grey, raining and drizzly something magical happens when the sun shines down. The gorgeous girls in London wear very skimpy outfits, everyone is glowing with happiness, health and good looks, no one cares about work, you can smell BBQ’s every night and the sound of laughter across the neighbourhood and beer bottles clinking together is the sound of music to my ears. Perhaps because I don’t need to take public transport for work I reap the benefits even more with daily trips into the garden to feel those warm rays. Yes I know the heatware caused widespread droughts, hose pipe bans, crop failures, wildfires, trouble sleeping at night, increased stress, but come on folks did you forget about all the fantastic moments sitting with a cold beer enjoying the company of friends smelling that delicious food on the BBQ. Hot summer days with continuous BBQ’s are great as long as you are not a pig, chicken, cow, aubergine or courgette. I love the sun and finally I can say that my Vitamin D is overflowing and when the heatwave ended on August 7th it was actually quite nice to see grey skies, feeling the cooler weather and after a few days of rain my garden looks as green as I can ever remember it.

Photos that remind me of Heatwave in 2018

Every three years my in-laws come to Europe for some adventure and since our last convoy in 2015 where we visited 7 countries in 10 days it was time again for the Great Dane to be travelling on the road not travelled with 3 sleeping Malaysian Chinese passengers and two half-baked ones on the back seat. This time it was minus my brother in law who remained in KL with his other half and our dog Miro was watching us from doggie heaven wishing us safe travels. He was a loyal and dependable co-pilot but the girls didn’t miss his breath and smell I am of course referring to the dog and not the other passengers. There was a sense of cold case files on this trip. My in-laws had a church wedding on the 25th of August 1973 in Salzburg but this was during a time with no mobile phones, no digital photography, it was 10 years before PC’s and as a result they had lost all evidence of where this event took place. But we did have three old photographs with wild hair, bell bottoms and Asian Abba lookalikes. So our detective work began could we find the church based on those photographs?

I am quite ruthless when it comes to driving trips. The waffen SS would envy my efficiency. My father in-law is 77 years old and my mother in-law is 70 so they are not exactly spring chickens and I kept them on a tough travel regime with strict routines. I only allow each passenger a small amount of water so we don’t need to stop for regular  breaks, secondly I feed passengers plenty of animal protein so I stop their digestive system from functioning so they don’t need the restroom for 3 days for a number 2. Each stop at a gas stations looks like a McLaren F1 pit stop, I jump out of the car and fill it up as quickly as possible, rush everyone around with loud commands to ensure maximum efficiency and minimum waste of time – each passenger checks the tyre pressure on their side. I want to get to the destination as quickly as possible. In laws from Malaysia always nag about the importance of drinking lots of water so for them to get into my car takes a lot of courage and I keep telling them the human body is not a human toilet – don’t flush it too often you will lose all the good minerals.

We travelled 16-17 hours from London to Berlin, set off at 4am and 1 fresh Viking arrived with 5 emancipated Malaysian Chinese passengers at 20.30. The next three days we did between 14,000-20,000 steps daily to explore Berlin during a 35c heatwave, this was followed by 3 days in Prague with even more walking in even hotter weather. At this point it didn’t really matter how much water they drank they were dehydrated so never asked for me to stop the car – All I heard was “We love the car’s air-con, please don’t stop again, the old building looks just fine from the car”.  After those two great cities we arrived in Austria 65 km south of Salzburg where we had a beautiful chalet in the Alps.  The Austrian’s are wonderful and clever too. They managed for Hitler to become German and Beethoven Austrian….enough said. We went hiking, swimming, ate Wiener schnitzel and the fresh Alpine air was a most welcome break. On our second day in the Alps we began the detective work to locate the church in Salzburg? Was it still around? Had it been demolished? 45 years is a long time in urban planning but law and behold the Austrian’s had left Salzburg untouched since Mozart was born there and we found it on our first try along the beautiful river. By studying one of the old photographs we could recognise the two large columns on a staircase. The priest had died a long time ago but the church stood in its splendid glory looking more beautiful than ever. In that old photo you could see the hopes and dreams of a young couple just married and here we were half a century later with three generations on the same stair case – La vita e bella.

Kids are brilliant but so is school which takes them away from home. Stressed-out parents want summer to end after just 13 days, according to new research.  The pressure to entertain is great. In fact, 64 percent of parents have felt like they were letting their kid down because they wanted them to do, see, or have something one of their friends had. So what kinds of things are causing parents to be filled with guilt? It turns out that the number one reason for PSG (Parental Summer Guilt) was when their kids stayed in the house rather than getting out and about. Honestly, what’s wrong with a dark cold basement, no running water or electricity? 1 meal a day, no ipad and a regular clip behind the ear. My old man’s stories are getting a bit tiring for them……You should be thankful for above scenario……Imagine if you were a Syrian refugee with polio in both legs walking across Europe in flip-flops with a string made from barb-wife between your toes. Imagine if when you were born the brain surgeon removed part of your brain so you lack imagination and easily get bored. Only children that had that surgery at birth gets bored, unfortunately I think they are starting to understand my stories are baloney and they can see right through them. If I use granddad’s analogies then the stories are even more black and white. “Only boring people get bored”. I have to say last week the kids went back to school and we miss them, they never once said “I am bored” during the summer holiday because they know better if that word gets used around here it’s all over.

On that happy bombshell, I hope you and your loved will have a wonderful autumn.

All the best,

Danepack Shakur

 

Enjoy the Summer of 2018

Dear Friends,

Oh god I love some of the side effects of global warming.  Every morning when I wake up in London I am staring down the barrel of another heatwave. Past 6 weeks we have had really warm days often reaching 30c, and then suddenly followed by cold days of 12c. The temperature fluctuations look like Hitler’s cardio diagnostics on April 29th 1945 when the Red Army knocked on his bunker’s door and he screamed “Scheisse”.  The climate is properly unstable, it resembles the mind-set of Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas when he is having some proper mood swings, hot, cold, thunderstorm, hail storm, rain, amazing blue sky…..it just can’t quite decide, but generally it’s been pretty amazing. Looking into our garden gives me flashbacks from Nam’ in 69’ especially when the wife is wearing her black pyjamas in the morning. Our garden is like a jungle, this heavy rain combined with a lot of sunshine is putting every plant on some super growth path. The trees are greener, the plants are larger and I have a feeling the Gardner (me) won’t get a pay rise even though it’s twice the trimming and pruning.

I have harboured on about ageing and its effects on the mind and body. Well here are a few observations that really brought it home to me that it is really happening in front of my eyes. The other day the kids and I thought the house was on fire as mummy came screaming into the kitchen “oh my god I have missed my appointment on the 14th …..today is the 18th how stupid why did you not remember, you should have put a reminder in outlook, we are such idiots how can we miss this critical appointment.” I replied can I see the notice darling “Hey honey it says 14th of May, today is the 18th of April so you are 3 weeks ahead of schedule” My wife really looks forward, she loves the future but unfortunately in this instance she was 1 month ahead of herself. The Second reminder of ageing was in my krav maga class (Krav Maga is a military self-defence and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces that derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate, along with realistic fight training). Weekly a friend of mine and I attend this bashing session with lots of young, strong fit women and a few guys. Visions of Ralph Macchio from Karate Kid generally come up in my mind but after two body slams to the floor I realise most of the other participants think I am more like Mr Miaki without the technique. We had to do fight conditioning which involves someone holding your head down in a lock while kneeing you in the rips. After about 5 mins I saw my friend who is 50 limping off extraordinarily red in the face with a twisted neck. I laughed quite a bit and 5 mins later I looked like the dude below.

Twisted neck

Age is a hell of price to pay for wisdom as George Carlin said. We both left the class in agony and went straight home with our sore twisted necks. The only conditioning we got to improve was swallowing pain killers and applying deep-heat on the neck muscles which I guess is a good thing coming of age.  On the other end of the spectrum the innocence of youth is also deeply endearing. We went shopping in the supermarket and suddenly I heart my youngest daughter (6 years old) scream look at this dwarf daddy. She was in fact pointing at a garden gnome like the one in the picture below, unfortunately there was a real dwarf standing next to it admiring it, so I quickly ran up to her to correct her language and apologised. The garden gnome was expressionless but the dwarf wasn’t.

Garden gnome

Back in the late 90’s I started playing computer games online. Then came broadband in 2003 and the experience got a lot better. Now I would consider myself quite a seasoned gamer with 2 decades of experience. I play mainly first person shooter games that involve some element of strategy and team work. My gaming name is knightmorphed and in one game I have to play a squad leader where I have to coordinate 8 fellow soldiers to build bases, set up defences, attack and capture points. You get quite involved and passionate and quite verbal over the radio communication. Now I don’t know what it is about gamers but they often chose quite bizarre gaming names. Recently I was leading a squad with a group of players that had the following names:  Brumhilda Bavarian Bitch, Buttminster Browncrack, Slippery pickle, Lord Fluffinstein, Glitterfart, Beef_curtain, Weirdo , Whip_me_grandma. I was in the living room screaming commands to my team mates, and only afterwards did it occur to me that with kids sitting next to me watching a TV show maybe it was time to get a quiet room with some confidentiality:

This is an actual transcript from the game:
Knightmorphed: “Slippery pickle come to me now I need to put down a rally point near the enemy base. Weirdo and Slippery Pickle place your big gun at the centre of ammo hill and cover west to north-west. Buttminster Browncrack and Glitterfart cover the rear to ensure we don’t get flanked by insurgents….Don’t let them past the Eastern perimeter. Brumhilda Bavarian Bitch and whip_me_Grandma spawn as medics, Lord Fluffingstein hold out for as long as you can on the Southern perimeter, I will ask beef_curtain to come and strengthen your flank in 2 minutes”. The amount of sexual innuendos in the above transcript from my gaming session is ridiculous and as a result I was ordered by the boss to only play this game when the kids are in bed and to keep my commands down to a reasonable level. Unfortunately with a large headset on and in the middle of battle I scream like William Wallace in the battle scene of Braveheart.

Last month the large middle age and chubby torso of the honourable Danepack Shakur got to tick another box on the bucket list. A very generous friend of mine invited me to fly a jet plane. Not just any boring jet plane but a military jet from the 1960’s that saw active combat duty in the early 70’s in the Middle East (still had scars from 1 bullet hole on the tail). The pilot was Putin’s sister, her name was Tatiana and she knew a thing or two about g-forces. We had a 1 hour briefing about how to pull the ejector seat at which point your spine experiences 25G…..so in my case that would be 2500kg of pressure on my tight glutes and tailbone. It doesn’t sound too good for a middle aged man with lower back problems, somehow I don’t think my Pilates classes will help. It was a 45 mins flight over the North Sea with some aerobatics, let’s just say Tatiana knew that if she wanted to survive this flight she better go easy on the control’s or I would have given her a stiff left hook on the chin. I flew the plane for majority of the time and I have to say the controls were more sensitive than my privates, a minor flick of the control and the plane barrel rolled, we did a few loops and my breakfast almost came up, then we headed towards the sea at 700km/h and when we were 10 meters above we did a sharp turn and my underwear was more damaged than after a night out on laxatives after consuming a spicy curry. Glad to have experienced it, but even gladder Tatiana brought me back in 1 piece.

 

Well on that happy bombshell, I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful summer. May you get time to relax, unwind, and laugh in the sunshine!

All the best,

Danepack shakur