We survived, thanks to Simon Clark of the Drewanda!

So much can happen in a single day...My post earlier on today was very nearly my last ever!

To cut a long story short, I will just copy and paste the contents of a Skype chat message I sent out at 22.55 (UTC+1) this evening to our friend and business colleague who lives aboard his boat about half a mile away from us....

Si, I can't tell you how grateful we are for what you did for us tonight. Without you, we woud both have died of hypothermia. When you heard me shouting, I was in the water, holding onto a bit of rope that wasn't actually tied onto anything aboard properly, hoping to God it wouldn't come away in my hand and force me to have to tread water any more than I was already doing.

Robbie had fallen from the dinghy as he was trying to get aboard with those stupid Chelsea boots of his on (a present from his daughter, so he puts up with the impracticality) and the dinghy slipped out of his reach. He seemed to be trying to get it and then he suddenly went floppy and all that was left showing above the surface was the middle of his back.

It didn't take long to realize that he must be unconscious so I jumped in (hell this water is cold at this time of year!) and swam to him, as best I could with all my thick clothing on (but nothing at all on my feet) and managed to yank his head out of the water, stick my arms around him and jerk my hands together as though he were choking and I was doing that technique that begins with H and I can never recall the name of.

He started to splutter and I tried to get him to kick his feet and help me get him to the boat, and the other dinghy, tied on the back, but he was almost a dead weight, except when he was trying to drag me in the wrong direction for a few seconds when he suddenly realized that I was seriously scared and started flailing around but couldn't control his limbs because of the cold.

We got as far as the side of the boat and held onto the rope but it wouldn't have taken my weight if I had been in any condition to climb it and I held it with one hand and kept Robbie's mouth above the water with the other and we rested for a few minutes. Then he set off towards the dinghy on the back but he couldn't get into it so I started shouting, against the wind: Robbie... grab... the...painter... and... try... to... haul.. yourself... over... the... bow... Follwed by HELP!!! at the top of my lungs. Eventually, he managed to get into the dinghy and then started calling me to join him and it took me ages to get there against the wind and with my limbs all heavy and unwilling to co-operate.

Somehow, we managed between us to get me into the dinghy and I lay on the floor for a couple of minutes, face down and unable to organize my movements, until Robbie helped me to get into his arms and cuddle up close. Having shouted for help at full volume 50 times, I didn't think I could manage any more shouting and hoped that someone might see the dinghy and wonder where Robbie was, although I didn't think it very likely in the dark...

Another half hour like that and we would both have died of hypothermia so you and your friends literally saved our lives. Robbie wants you to come and have supper with us tommorrow night and so do I. Please say you'll come and your friends are invited too. They were so kind.

Thank you so much for caring enough about somebody (you didn't know it was a friend of yours) shouting for help from far away to turn back and take action. So many people would have just thought "Oh, somebody will deal with it, I'm busy" and you didn't. There's a special place reserved for you in heaven and I hope you will find that heaven on this Earth and not have to wait until you die to claim your reward for being such a wonderful guy. No wonder Sarah is so much in love with you. She has the sense to see what really matters in a man and that you have all those qualities. Anyway, sleep well and I'll talk to you in the morning. Good night our new hero!

Topsy's Head

Would you believe I just added the 80th department to the LWA US Shopping Mall?! Like the little girl in the story, whose head just grew and grew, so the department store seems to be expanding in all directions!

Meanwhile, back in the physical world (oh, I do go there occasionally - when there's a power cut and I can't get online, for example :-) politicians in Britain are talking about banning the oldest profession and I wonder if they have lost their minds altogether. Banning alcohol during the Prohibition, with a capital P, in the United States simply spawned an increased quantity of drinkers (humans have a tendency to rebel) and a nightmare underworld full of madmen with machine guns and illegal hooch brewers in the hills around every city.

Some radio presenter implied that it was incumbent upon all good Christians to stamp it out. I wonder what Jesus Christ would have had to say about that. Doesn't it say in the Bible that two of his closest lady friends were in that very same profession?

Don't get me wrong - I am not saying that these things should not be regulated, for the sake of the ladies involved, their clients and the society around them, but trying to stop the profession from existing altogether can only bring about worse problems than exist already. Apart from the fact that the profession exists because the consenting adult people on both sides of the deal want it to, I would love to know what makes some of the women that decry it so vehemently think that it is so different from marrying a man and expecting him to support one, even when there are no children who need one to stay at home? Is having an exclusive deal with a single man, to whom one would never admit that one wanted his money, so much more morally righteous than having lots of clients with whom one is completely honest about what is expected?

What would I know? Less than most people, I suspect. My life has been blessed by endless opportunities to earn a living with other assets than my own body but I have been to plenty of places where many women had nothing else whatsoever with which to earn enough money to feed the children whose father had simply vanished when he became bored with his responsibilities.

Why are politicians always so much more interested in stopping things from happening than they seem to be in making better things happen and accepting that the bad things will fade away if enough good things are being created to keep people occupied?

Speaking of keeping oneself occupied: I made some banners so other sites can link to us if they want to and I notice that the most popular one, so far, is the one I like best too. It says: "Just Windows Shopping, Honey".
I put a few free classified ads online too and I would have taken a couple of the paid deals on offer, except that I wasn't offered a payment method that I could use! Pity, because one deal was less than $4 for three months and another was $11.99 for a whole year! That's about the level of investment I can afford at the moment! Don't laugh!

The nuisance of the week was when I tried to transfer part of the money it had already taken three weeks to get from my bank into MoneyBookers across to PayPal and was told that 'for '
security reasons' it is not possible to transfer money from MoneyBookers to PayPal or PayPal to MoneyBookers! As MoneyBookers is British and I am advertising an American Mall on American classifieds sites, it doesn't come up as an option which is a shame, because it is just as quick for someone in the USA to get their money as for anyone in a large numer of countries and it is a heck of a lot faster too.

Well, visitors are starting to find their way into the Mall and discovering that everyone gets the red carpet treatment wheher they are buying or just looking and, for fun, I tried putting LWA US Mall into Google.com although I thought it might be a little early yet, to get a mention, Imagine my surprise when it came up at the #1 slot! On the other hand, I then went on to put my home site address in, including the www. and it didn't show up at all although it had always come up at #1 before! Hmmm...

Now I am busy putting little treasure chests in different departments.... Closed ones are full of special offers and hot bargains and the open one will reward the first person to find it each day with a small prize from one of the 1000+ merchants whose stores are represented in LWA US Mall so far.

I know it shouldn't really make a difference whether a merchant is a small business or a household name but I can't help getting a little more excited and feeling proud when another big name approves me as an affiliate. Partly because it says I am doing something they like the look of and partly because it means my visitors really will be able to find everyone who is anyone, conveniently gathered together.

Yesterday I launched my trademark 'minimallist' page which has little logo banners from as many of the merchants as I could convenietly obtain one from, ten across and sixty down, so anyone in too much of a hurry to stroll round the 2D departments can go to the list and quickly find the store they want, unless it is one of the ones I haven't managed to add yet, of course. That was a lot of fun to do as well. In fact, whether the Mall is the success I hope it will be or not, I will have had so much fun creating it that I won't mind half as much as I do about the project I spent half of last year on, for a client who ended up not being able to pay for my time.

I have ended up owning a website I don't really want and a domain name that has been soured by the fact that he owed a lot of people money by the time he disappeared! The only thing I salvaged that is worth having is the host server package that does not expire until 2008 and I will use that to put MarineZine on, or maybe the malls, depending which needs a new package first. Still, that's only less than $200-worth - hardly worth months of my time and effort!

Never mind! That is behind me and I have a good feeling about 2006 already...