1 December 2019 (Sunday) Apostrophe's (!)
Treacle was again restless last night. Is it *so* much to ask that she doesn’t spent the night stomping all over me?
I got up at silly o’clock and opened the first window of my Lego advent calendar, saw what I’d got, and spent much of the day then trying to think of what to say about it for Facebook. For the last ten Decembers I’ve been doing my little Advent calendar stories; they seem to have developed a life of their own. I finally came up with an idea… you can see it by clicking here.
I sparked up my lap-top to see what was going on in the world. Friends were on holiday in Alicante; I wasn’t *that* jealous. Other friends had been to Christmas fayres in the West country, or Winter Wonderlands in London.
It was good to see what had been going on.
I had an email. A new geocache only a mile from work… that is “work when in Maidstone”. A shame I was on the early shift in Tunbridge Wells this morning.
It was very dark as I drove to work. It felt colder than it has done recently, even though the care wasn't iced up. Perhaps it was because it was so dark? Going cross-country through all the lanes and getting to work before dawn (for the early shift) was rather different to going up the motorway just as it is getting light.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the tenants of the most southerly farm in the UK. This place was on the utmost part of the Lizard peninsular, and as the interview progressed you could hear a foghorn going off every few seconds. This foghorn can (apparently) be heard for miles around. It would drive me mad!! Mind you, the farmers being interviewed made me think. Being tenant farmers, they seem to move from farm to farm every couple of years. I thought farming was something of a more long-term project?
There was then talk of the demise of the British Apostrophe Protection Society - there really was one; set up to combat the misuse of the apostrophe in the written word. But it would seem that the pedants running this organisation have given up fighting a loosing battle.
Personally I find that people saying "would of" rather than "would have" annoys me, but I'm not going to start a club about it.
I got to work where I had a rather busy early shift. I didn't really want to work today as I being at work meant that I missed the family Christmas party. Every year my brother stages a little get-together for family and friends. I would have liked to have got along to it, but I've already swapped quite a few shifts recently. There's only so much good will I can use up before people get fed up with me.
With my bit done I came home. I’d arrived at work when it was still dark; it was beginning to get dark as I left. And it was raining too. Hearing there was some obscure play on the radio I put my music on and sang along as I drove home. Much as I far prefer working at Maidstone and at Tunbridge Wells compared to where I used to work, there’s no denying that the journey can be trying. Especially the country lanes in the ran at twilight.
I got home, and walked the dogs round the block. We had a rather short walk because the rain was getting worse.
"er indoors TM" is boiling up some dinner. We shall watch “Junior Bake-Off” as we devour it. I do hope the dogs settle tonight…
2 December 2019 (Monday) - Dog Whispering
I found a damp patch on the end of the bed this morning where Treacle had been sucking the sheet overnight. Oh well… if she’s sucking the sheet she’s not stomping all over my head. And sheets are easily washed.
Last night I put my Lego advent calendar album up on Facebook albums. This morning as I scoffed toast I saw that over forty people had clicked the “like” button. I was rather amazed, and a little bit humbled. That put on the pressure for today’s instalment.
I had planned what I was going to say on today’s piccie. In previous years there is a Lego minifigure behind the second window. I’d got it all worked out, and was rather shocked to find that today’s window didn’t have a little Lego person. That’s all the fun of the Lego advent calendar. The thing sits on my shelf unopened for months; I really do open each window on the correct day, and then put no end of pressure on myself to come up with something.
As I had my morning root around Facebook my piss boiled somewhat. A friend from way back when was posting about how Muslim people don’t have to pay council tax if their house is designated as a place of worship. I can understand why this would be annoying to many if it was true. But it isn’t. About twenty seconds on Google showed it was wrong. Why do people re-post such crap? So many people believe any old rubbish that they read on-line. And these people are allowed to vote.
I went to put the leads on the dogs, and then stopped. Last night (and for the last few weeks) we’ve been watching “The Dog Whisperer” on the telly. The format of the show is that it starts with a ravening hell-hound, and ends with a meek, mild, submissive family pet. Last night Cesar (the “Dog Whisperer”) was banging on about how dogs pick up on positive and negative energy. It sounded like a load of old tosh to me but, looking back, every walk is the same. Putting the leads on is always something of a fight. And having got worked up before we leave the house things just go from bad to worse. So today I was deliberately quiet and calm. We all sat and waited patiently to have our leads put on. There was no shouting and hollering from me either t the start or during the walk (like there usually is) and the dogs really did respond to this. We had a very good walk. The dogs played nicely with each other and with the other dogs we met. There was no barking at passers-by or other dogs. There was no pulling and straining at the leads when we were on leads.
There were small issues in getting them to come back when we needed the leads back on, but for a first attempt at “dog whispering” it was an unqualified success. The chap on the telly always maintains that when dogs seem to be a problem it is usually people that are at fault. He might have a point.
I wandered out to find my car. It was with something of a sense of releif that I saw my sandwich box on the passenger seat. I must have left it there yesterday; I'd spent ages this morning hunting for it.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing the good people of Hastings (where I was born) about the upcoming general election. Hastings is one of the very few constituencies which could go any way in the election, and not only is there an amazing amount of people who don't vote, there's a *lot* of people who deliberately have not registered to vote. Many have chosen not to do so because then the bailiffs can't use the electoral register to tract them down about their unpaid debts. Debts incurred because of the unfair welfare system. There's apparently somewhere between five and ten million people in the UK who have chosen not to have a vote in this way.
The very people with a vested interest in voting are choosing not to do so. So much for democracy, eh.
I got to work (at Tunbridge Wells) in an hour. The best time I've ever done that run in. I had a rather busy late shift, fighting with the intricacies of the Kidd blood group system. Don't ever let anyone tell you that blood group O Negative is a universal donor!!
I was glad when the relief arrived.
As I drove home I was very aware that there was no fog. My weather app on my phone had told me that the Met Office had issued a yellow warning of fog. I wonder why…
3 December 2019 (Tuesday) - Another Late Shift
As I sat to scoff brekkie I couldn’t help but look at the shelves above the telly. The top two shelves have loads of souvenir beer glasses from various beer festivals I’ve been to over the years. There’s probably about forty pint glasses there. They’ve been on those shelves for years; only ever moving when I put them through the dishwasher when they get dusty.
I could use those shelves for Lego.
If any of my loyal readers want a souvenir pint glass, let me know. I’ve advertised them on various selling sites on Facebook, but if there’s no interest I shall be chucking the lot at some stage.
As I looked at Facebook there was a lot of postings about the BBC’s recent dramatization of “War of the Worlds”. We were talking about this at work yesterday too. No one seems to like the show. I’ve recorded all of it with the intention of binge-watching at some point, but seeing all the negative comments I might just delete the lot unwatched. There are plenty of other terrible shows that I can find for myself without watching stuff that I’ve already been told isn’t worth watching.
Other people were posting about their upcoming court cases. Some were pleading poverty (clearly having forgotten about the two-month tour of Europe they had only a few short months ago).
I had an email from Leica this morning. They’ve got a vacancy. They are looking for someone to demonstrate their laboratory instruments, troubleshoot and fix problems… All the sorts of things that I would really have wanted to do a few year ago. I looked at the advert and decided against it.
I’m content where I am.
I also had an email about a supposedly missing geocache of mine. But on closer inspection this report was dated from last July and the thing has since been found many times. As I’ve whinged before, why not log an issue or a problem right away?
I took the dogs round the park for a walk. Flushed with the success of yesterday’s walk I had high hopes for today’s outing. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed… the dogs didn’t pull much really, and they did play nicely with other dogs. There was only one “episode” and that was when Treacle ran in terror from a bigger dog (for no reason whatsoever) and Pogo stuck up for her. But the other dog’s owner could see what was happening and laughed it off.
As we walked on a rather misty morning so my phone beeped. Ironically just as I was admiring the pretty mists the Met Office had cancelled the yellow alert fog warning.
With walk walked I put washing in to scrub and set the dishwasher loose on the crockery and opened the third window of my Advent Calendar.
Just as I was walking to my car so my phone beeped. A new geocache had appeared not that far away. It wasn’t really in the right direction for work, but I had hoped to have a little adventure before work this morning. So I postponed that adventure in favour of another. For once I managed to get to be the First to Find. That was something of a result.
So few people put caches out these days. I have automatic notifications of all new geocaches within thirty miles of home. Back in the day I would (on average) get notifications on five days out of seven. Nowadays I’d say I get one or two a week.
As I headed to Tunbridge Wells through all the "-hursts" and the "-dens" and the other villages there was a program on the radio about how difficult it is for the political pollsters to get their polls right. Realistically an opinion poll comes with a rather large margin of error, and (try as they might) opinion polling is never going to be an exact science. You just can't predict the future; that's what makes the future such fun. Ask any weather forecaster or gambler.
As I listened to the so-called experts trying to second guess what might be, I was reminded of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series of novels. Have you read them? They are set in a society in which opinion polling is an exact science, and in which the future could be predicted and planned. The books are rather thought-provoking.
We could seriously do with a Second Foundation right now.
I got to work. During a lull in the proceedings I slipped out to get a flu jab. It only took a few minutes, it didn't hurt. And because I didn't cry (much) I was rewarded with a free jelly and a free pot noodle.
There are those who would turn up their noses at free jelly and free pot noodles; me - I see it as one of life's little victories.
And just as I was about to go home the Met office reinstated their yellow alert fog warning. It was rather foggy as I drove home.
4 December 2019 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull
I had intended to watch another episode of “Man Down” over brekkie, but it no longer seems to be on Netflix? Instead I watched the first episode of “Big School” in which David Walliams attempts (and fails) to “do the dirty deed” with Catherine Tate.
I then had a little look at the Internet as I do.
There was talk of my old French teacher on the Facebook page for old boys of my old school. One of my greatest regrets was how mean we all were to our French teacher. When I left school I became friends with him; Mervyn Clark was one of the kindest people I ever met, and thousands of schoolkids were merciless with him.
I had a few emails. One told me that someone had found one of my geocaches. Specifically the one I’d been told (only yesterday) was missing.
As I walked out to my car I saw not-so-nice next door scraping the ice from her car. I gave her a sickly smile (as I know it annoys her). She made a point of ignoring me. Her car was encrusted in ice. My car was twenty yards down the road and had no ice on it at all. The ice up our road can be very localized.
I drove to Sainsbury's to get petrol. Again the nice lady on the till didn't ask for my Nectar card, and seemed rather surprised when I brandished it at her.
As I drove to Tunbridge Wells the pundits on the radio were talking about today's meeting of the heads of the NATO member countries. All is not sweetness and light there; the French president would seem to have upset everyone else, and the Americans are fed up with paying for most of it. Apparently America pays one third of the cost of defending Europe (that's very generous of them!). I can't help but wonder why. Are the Russians planning to invade Europe? Would they want to? You'd think the Russians might have better things to do with their time. Like invading China?
The roads were rather busier today than they have been recently. My journey wasn't helped when I was nearly run off the road by a lorry delivering stuff to various branches of Morrisons. It never fails to amaze me how badly people drive when they have their company's name and phone numbers emblazoned all over what they are driving.
I got to work and did my bit. I was rather tired as I worked today. Was it a combination of a busy Sunday and two late shifts, was it yesterday's flu jab? Much as I like my job, sometimes it can be hard work. Retirement would be good.
I came home to find "er indoors TM" had fed the hounds, and was just off to a works jolly. I went up the kebab shop for my tea and scoffed it whilst watching more “Big School”.
I might eat that pot noodle and jelly in a minute…
5 December 2019 (Friday) - Cold and Icy
I slept right through until the alarm went off this morning. That rarely happens. I got up, made brekkie and watched another episode of “Big School” before sparking up my lap-top.
At the weekend I saw the Lego maxifigure family at a bargain price on eBay. It arrived yesterday… I say “arrived” – it wasn’t so much “delivered” as left laying in the front garden.
Last night I posted a picture of it on one of the Lego Facebook pages I follow. It had received a few comments. All complimentary, but one or two more interested in how I could sell the set at a profit rather than enjoying it for what it is. I suppose I did get a bargain, but I’m not overly keen on selling it just yet.
I also saw a friend was having her birthday today. I sent a little message and again had more than a pang of jealousy. This friend bought her first house in the mid 1980s like I did. And paid about the same price as I did. However her house was a stone’s throw (with a catapult) from London’s docklands area. Within a year the Docklands development took off and she sold her house for over ten times what she’d paid for it.
She bought something palatial in the country, gave up blood testing and re-trained as a primary school teacher. She soon become head teacher and retired to the most beautiful cottage a couple of years ago.
Meanwhile I’m still the wage slave in a terraced suburban house.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not unhappy with my lot. I just want more. And I’ve probably left it rather late in life to get it.
As I walked out to my car I nearly fell over (twice) on the ice on the pavement. It was cold, icy and foggy. But on the plus side it was that cold that the ice just scraped straight off the windscreen.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about Bob Willis. He was something big in cricket in the 1970s. This made me think - there was a *lot* of air time dedicated to him, and I'd never heard of the chap. How much else is there of national importance of which I am totally oblivious.
There was then an interview with the Home Secretary Sajid Javid in which he utterly ignored every question put to him. Instead he just parroted that the Conservatives are better than Labour because Labour are crap. Hardly sound impartial reasoning there?
It took an age to get to work today. I would have made far better time had someone living on a rather narrow road not had a major delivery from B&Q. You'd think sending a delivery on a lorry which was wider than the road (at rush hour) would be something they'd try to avoid, wouldn't you?
I got to work and downloaded an new e-book. I seem to get through a lot of these. Much as I like e-books as they take up no space at all, as a reader I have no idea just how much I'm getting for my money. Take this current e-book - it's the third in a series of three. Each costing over three quid. Together they probably don't make up what you'd get in a "regular" paperback book.
With "er indoors TM" out this evening I was left “Home Alone” so I watched a film on Netflix. I say “watched a film”; I turned “Dirty Grandpa” off half-way through. It was utter tripe.
6 December 2019 (Friday) - This n That
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Big School” in which David Walliams attempted and failed to pork Catherine Tate.
I then had my usual root around the Internet. I saw that the dates for next year’s Brighton Kite Festival have been confirmed. Bearing in mind that the festival of ten years ago was definitely going to be the last, the event is going well. I’d like to go, but all the setting up and taking down of the tents is just too much like hard work. Maybe I might go down for the day?
Not a lot else had happened on Facebook, and with no emails of note I opened my Advent calendar, got dressed and set off to work.
Yesterday morning the thermometer in my car said that the outside temperature was minus four degrees. It was nine degrees this morning. What a difference.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the boss of Marston's brewery. They were trying to get him to comment on political stuff and say bad things about Brexit. They weren't impressed when he suggested they should have been interviewing a politician.
Mind you they later interviewed Michael Gove and some woman from the Labour party; both of whom blamed each other for everything, and neither of whom made anywhere near as much sense as the boss of the brewery. Perhaps he should be running the country. I'm sure he could stage a piss-up there whilst I doubt any of our politicians could.
The radio's "Thought for the Day" section today was seemingly written with me in mind. Yesterday I whinged about how jealous I was of a friend; this morning some Buddhist warned of the dangers of "comparison anxiety". This is apparently sweeping the nation. The speaker warned that we shouldn't worry about how well we are doing compared to everyone else, as no one is completely happy. We should just be content with our lot. Sound advice. I should take it. I suppose I *am* happy with my lot - I just want a lot more...
I stopped off at Aldi (as I was at Maidstone today). I had a plan to get "er indoors TM" a Christmas pressie or two. They didn't have anything worth having as a Christmas pressie (I assumed she didn't want a three-feet tall Kevin the Carrot), so I went in to work, I did my bit, and came home.
"My Boy TM" boiled up dinner today. It was rather good… unlike the rest of the day which was rather dull.
7 December 2019 (Saturday) – Technology
After working for six days continuously I was looking forward to a lie-in. It was such a shame that Treacle had to tread on my goolies quite so early this morning. I didn’t really sleep much after that.
I got up and had a shave. And then took the dogs out for their ablutions. Such a shame they wanted to go one at a time. Still, it is better than their usual charging into the garden all together just to run round shouting. I’ve been trying to stop that, but not with much success.
I made toast, and had a look at Facebook to see what had happened overnight. There was mild consternation on the dog-related Facebook pages at Peter Purves having been dropped from Channel Four’s annual coverage of Crufts. I don’t watch it myself; I must admit I thought that Peter Purves died year ago.
Another friend was banging on about “the true meaning of Christmas”. This is something which has been banged on about for years. What is “the true meaning of Christmas”? Muslim friends of mine have been telling me about their preparations for Christmas. For them (as for millions in the UK) Christmas isn’t a religious thing. It really is one big party for all.
I then programmed “Hannah” for a little mission to hunt some film pots. The GSAK software I use was particularly problematical today. I finally got it to work on the fifth attempt.
Despite the dogs shouting and whining the whole way we drove out to the back of beyond where there is a series of geocaches (would you believe it?). We originally walked them four years ago but in the meantime ten of them have been replaced. Personally I would have replaced the lot rather than just replacing ten, but that’s just me.
We had a good walk… well… it was rather pretty, but the dogs were “difficult”. There were pheasants absolutely everywhere. Fudge was pulling like a train trying to get them, and Pogo and Treacle played up for "er indoors TM" and dragged her about. She got to see what I have to contend with. And it was rather muddy too. I took a few photos as we walked, and once home the dogs all had a bath.
With baths done I took Sid (who is staying with us for a little holiday) to get his claws clipped. You’d think they were trying to murder him judging by the noises he was making. Whilst the nice ladies in the pet salon fought with him I slipped next door to Curry’s to get an HDMI cable.
I wish I hadn’t.
Between the ChromeCast, the Amazon Firestick, the Sky box and the DVD player we’ve got one more HDMI device than the telly has HDMI slots. "er indoors TM" had obtained a second-hand gadget that we could plug the devices into, then plug the gadget into the telly. What a simple and straightforward idea…
Our house is so hopelessly cluttered that I demolished the entire mantlepiece just trying to get to the back of the telly.
I wired it all up, and absolutely nothing worked. The second-hand gadget wasn’t working. But then when I plugged it all back together as it was originally, I had something of a disaster. The ChromeCast and the Amazon Firestick worked, but the SkyPlus box simply said “this display does not support HDCP”.
Oh, how I laughed…
After about three hours of fighting with the thing I have established that (somehow or other) the HDMI output form the SkyPlus box has been poggered. I’ve bodged it all so that we can watch Sky via the scart cable, and over the next few days I shall have to decide if we are happy with this, or do we go SkyQ.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we devoured whilst watching (via scart) the final of “Junior Bake Off”. A rather good show – if you’ve not seen it, it might be on the catch-up thingy…
8 December 2019 (Sunday) - An Afternoon with Daddies Little Angel
The first thing I did today was to test the telly. The Sky HDMI thingy is still poggered. I can watch Sky TV via the scart cable though. Realistically I don’t give a stuff what goes on in the background as long as I can still watch my telly.
Over brekkie I had a look at Facebook. Someone who told me off at the last election for what he felt was my extreme views was today advocating the political party that I was advocating last time. Funny old world…
This chap was making the point that here in Ashford if you want to get rid of the Conservatives you would be better off casting a tactical vote for Labour. Realistically there are only two choices for our next Prime Minister; one is a proven liar, the other a well-intentioned idiot. It speaks volumes about the state of our political system in that we aren’t voting for who we want; we are voting against who we don’t want.
There were quite a few photos from last night’s works Christmas bashes. Both places that I work had their Christmas parties last night. Bearing in mind that I couldn’t go to both I felt it better not to go to either. Mind you it looked as though I’d missed a couple of good sessions.
The plan for this morning had been to take the dogs to Orlstone Woods, but "er indoors TM" had a better offer for the afternoon and time was against us. So we took the hounds round the park. The walk passed off rather well. There were no fights, we played nicely with the other dogs, and with no pheasants near the dogs walked nicely and didn’t pull at all.
With walk walked I popped up the shop. Almond croissants went nicely with a cup of coffee.
"er indoors TM" cleared off out. I gathered up some rubbish and stuck it in the car and I went out too. First of all to Curry’s where I got a new Blu-Ray - DVD player. Eventually. With half a dozen store assistants ignoring me I was on the point of walking out when finally someone wanted to talk to me. Whilst I was there I had a look at the new tellys. Ultra-HD, 4K, 8K… they all looked the same to me. The only difference I could see was the price.
From there I went to Matalan where not one person in ten was paying attention to what was going on. Pretty much everyone was walking around with their noses in their phones; bouncing off of each other as they walked.
It was much the same at the tip; loads of people trying to unload their cars. Everyone seeming to think they were the only person at the tip.
I drove on to Chilham for a quick geo-adventure (and a few munzees too), then on to Morrisons in Canterbury. That place has had a serious make-over since I was last there. I got one or two bits ("Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had given me a shopping list) before spending the afternoon with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM".
I came home and plugged in the new Blu-Ray - DVD player… it didn’t work. I have a theory that yesterday’s little episode has poggered the HDMI input on the telly. I might get a new one in the sales.
As I wrestled with the telly the dogs were getting rather fractious. I gave hem their tea… or to be more precise I put down four bowls of dog food and stood guard so that there was no squabbling. Some wolf their food down, some savour every mouthful. Feeding time is hard work.
"er indoors TM" has said she’ll be late home. I’ve made toast for dinner…
9 December 2019 (Monday) - Bit Dull Really
I had a rather restless night… When Treacle and Pogo don’t sleep, nor does anyone else.
I set the washing machine going and made some toast. As I scoffed it I watched an episode of “Big School” whilst Sid sucked my pyjama bottoms. Fudge came downstairs, humped Sid, and went back to bed.
With telly watched I had a look at the Internet.
I saw on Facebook that Rene Auberjonois had died overnight. He played “Odo” in Star Trek… over twenty years ago. A *lot* of people had picked up on this. Far fewer had realised that Robert Walker Jr had also died; he played “Charlie X” in Star Trek about thirty yeas before Rene Auberjonois was cast as “Odo”. Steve Coogan had been in my favourite pub in Hastings, and quite a few people had put up their Christmas trees.
I had one or two emails this morning. Amazon was offering me cut-price Terry Pratchett e-books. I might get some. I’ve already got a dozen or so; I must admit that I was put off of Pratchett’s stuff by people raving about how good it was and the books didn’t live up to the hype.
I hung out the washing, put on one of the new shirts I bought in Matalan yesterday and set off to work.
As I drove to work on a very wet and dark morning the pundits on the radio were interviewing the leader of the Liberal Democrats. They were giving Ms Swinson a very hard time about the place of trans people in today's society (for no reason that I could fathom). She seemed to be getting very angry about an issue which, whilst important, isn't perhaps what the nation is focussing on right now. I can't help but wonder if someone at the BBC was playing silly beggars by deliberately wasting her air-time in that way?
This was followed by a squabble between John McDonell (Labour's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) and John Caudwell (the billionaire who pays the most tax in the UK). Apparently the Labour people had said that there shouldn't be any billionaires in the world, Mr Caudwell had disagreed, and in the subsequent bickering neither side convinced the other of anything.
Mind you, as Mr Caudwell said, all of the Labour party's plans hinge on their being able to tax the billionaires. If Labour wins the upcoming election and all the billionaires go and live abroad (like many have threatened to do) then the Labour party will be left high and dry. You'd think it would make sense *not* to piss on your chips, wouldn't you?
I got to work and wasted ten minutes trying to photograph a squirrel in the car park. It looked particularly photogenic all the time I was pointing my phone's camera the other way, but managed to avoid me quite well.
I did my bit. At tea break I saw quite the bargain appear on one of the Facebook Lego-related groups. I've handed over my money... here's hoping the bargain arrives.
Having driven to work in the dark I drove home in the dark too. Mind you the Christmas decorations in the houses in the villages were rather pretty.
I arrived home just as "er indoors TM" was taking the wolf pack out for a walk. We went round the block, then came home for a rather good bit of dinner. "er indoors TM" then went bowling. I did the ironing.
I think I got the worse end of that deal…
10 December 2019 (Tuesday) - Poggered Hoover
Thankfully the dogs were quiet last night and so I slept like a log despite a rather vivid dream in which Boris Johnson had somehow become my best mate.
That was rather unsettling.
I scoffed toast as I watched the last episode of “Big School” (I now need to find something else to pass the time), then had a look at the Internet to see what had happened overnight. A friend was transmitting from the far side of the world; he seemed to be having a good holiday. Not much else had seemed to happen though.
I had a look at my emails. I had loads, but none that were worth having. Amazon were suggesting e-books that I’d either already bought or didn’t interest me. LinkedIn suggested I applied for a job as a GP in Hastings. I deleted quite a few emails without even looking at them.
With Fudge snoring on one side of me and Sid on the other, I then spent a few minutes geo-puzzling. A new series of geo-puzzles appeared in the (vaguely) Orpington area last week and I’ve struggling with some of them. There is a conundrum to solve and having solved it you have a word. You then take that word, turn the letters into numbers (A=1, B=2 etc)… the numbers is the easy bit. Solving the conundrums is hard. All of the answers begin with the letter “Q” – Q is for oats is “Quaker”. “ Q is for bike is “Quad”. Easy… so what about “Q is for Yes Minister!” or “Q is for very powerful”? And what on Earth is “Q is for Australians getting in a jam”? Despite being a genius (!) with post-graduate qualifications, these (and most) geo-puzzles have me foxed.
I opened the tenth window of my Lego advent calendar (to give me something to be thinking about during the day), put on the other new shirt I bought at the weekend, and set off to work.
As I drove to work on a very dark morning the pundits on the radio had the hump. They had boiled the Prime Minister's piss yesterday, and so he's now hinted that the government will review the funding of the BBC. And he's got a point. When I watch some channels I have to put up with adverts; when I watch others I specifically pay for those channels. Why should I be legally obliged to pay for a channel which I rarely (if ever) watch? OK - I listen to a *lot* of BBC radio, but why can't they fund themselves like every other TV or radio channel does?
They then carried on their series of interviews with the leaders of the major political parties. Today they wheeled on the leader of the Scottish Nationalists Nicola Sturgeon who (surprisingly) made a lot of sense about Brexit, the NHS and Scottish independence. If there was an SNP candidate standing on the south coast of England, I'd consider voting for them after what I heard this morning.
In stark contrast the actor Hugh Grant then came on and made a complete pig's ear of trying to make the case for tactical voting. Being a lovable upper-class twit might work on soppy films, but it doesn't make for a convincing political stance.
I did my bit at work, and was a tad late getting home. I managed to sneak in without a single dog realising; they were all too busy scoffing their dinner.
Whilst dinner boiled, "er indoors TM" did some hoovering. The hoover’s poggered… apparently it’s my fault.
11 December 2019 (Wednesday) - Early Shift
"er indoors TM" spent much of the night arguing with the dogs (for no reason that I could ascertain). They kept this up until five minutes before my alarm was due to go off, then they all settled and went to sleep. I got up, supervised Sid and Fudge in the garden at five o’clock, and made some toast.
I peered into the Internet as I scoffed toast. One of the Lego-related Facebook groups had a rather pointed post from one of the moderators who was laying down the law. Apparently there had been some rather vitriolic squabbling on that group. Lego!? - some people will argue about anything.
I saw several adverts for next year’s ComicCon – I was told that I should go as this would be the last UK appearance of Tom Skerritt. (No – I have no idea who he is either).
The local Facebook crime awareness pages were reporting a pair of fake police officers who were supposedly trying to gain access to people’s houses not five miles from home. I sometimes wonder about the local Facebook crime awareness pages. Reading them you’d think I live in a modern-day Dodge City. I’m not sure if all the myriad of “crimes” reported daily are just made up or are an over-reaction. There was a major upset a few weeks ago when someone was seen committing the heinous offence of sitting on a local bench drinking a can of lager.
I then opened the eleventh window of my Advent Calendar and wondered just what I might say about it. My Lego advent calendar has developed something of a life of its own with about thirty people following it. Coming up with an instalment every day is quite a challenge.
Taking care not to wake anyone who was finally asleep I get dressed and set off work-wards.
I got to my car and was rather pleased to see that there was only condensation on the windscreen, not ice. But as I wiped it off so it froze.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were all a-twitter about tomorrow's election. With the outcome still up for grabs it would seem that it's going to be all about choosing the least worst option. The Liberal Democrat vote has collapsed, and with the Brexit party in disarray (it turns out that a party needs to do more than just send them all back on the next banana boat to gain any credibility), British politics is back to the two-horse race it has always been. So... Do we want a proven liar or a well-intentioned idiot running the country?
Interestingly the leader of the Welsh Nationalists came on the radio proposing that it should be made a criminal offence for a politician to lie. He might have a point. Mind you this article makes for interesting reading. Having pretty much everything they’ve said been proved to be inaccurate hasn’t hurt the Conservative party at all.
The roads were rather busy this morning. Driving to Tunbridge Wells an hour and a half earlier than usual, I thought they would be quieter. I was wrong.
I did that which I couldn't avoid, and at tea break I finished my latest e-book. You can see what I thought of it by clicking here.
I like the early shifts - an early start made for an early finish. Once home I walked the dogs round the roads and fed them. Single handed. With full bellies the hounds soon settled and we all slept in front of the telly until "er indoors TM" came home (to feed me).
Oh – and David Bellamy died today…
12 December 2019 (Thursday) - Election Day
Not being allowed that much of the duvet made for something of a cold night. I eventually gave up shivering at seven o’clock and got up.
Over toast I had a look at the Internet. Some chap was posting on Facebook about my old school’s Commemoration services. I spent much of the day reminiscing about these.
Every year we would have two afternoons off school; the school would close at mid day and seven hundred pupils would have two hours to make their way (unsupervised) to a church three miles away. We would in the first instance go to St Clement’s church where we would all be allocated a seat and be told the importance of sitting down and shutting up, and then told to go home. That was the “practice”; two days later we used to have the real thing when we would have a rather tedious church service (in front of the local mayor, MP and all sorts of other dignitaries) before being sent home rather later than we would usually be sent home. I can remember that me and my old mate David Thornton would walk there together through the park and via a café. We used to have a great time – we called the walk and the café “Plan X”. Mind you I can remember that the actual services wasn’t something I’d recommend. With no attendance register ever being called, I can’t help but wonder why we didn’t bunk off (like I did every Wednesday afternoon when I was supposed to be doing “games”).
There was one of these “Commemoration” services yesterday. You can see the photos here if you want. I can’t help but wonder if (in this day and age) the kids make their own way to the church, or if they are driven to and fro; guarded all the way?
Amazingly there was pretty much nothing else at all of note on Facebook this morning.
And my emails were rather dull too.
Mind you I did feel a pang of jealousy when I saw that some of my Facebook friends were starting their Christmas holidays. Three weeks off work from today? This year I get Christmas day off, and that’s it.
As I scoffed toast "er indoors TM" referee-ed the dogs whilst they had breakfast. Some of hem scoff it down as fast as they can before trying to steal the other dogs’ food. Some take their time seemingly deliberately waiting for the oncoming fight. I don’t like being in charge of feeding time; it can be hard work.
Being December the nice boiler man came to give the boiler its annual servicing (woof!) There are those who say I pay too much for the annual servicing. All I can say about this is that I went for years (literally) trying to find a plumber who would actually come out to service the boiler, and when I eventually found one, the thing was so far gone that a new one was the only option. My current chap comes out regularly and has helped me out (at short notice) when I’ve had other disasters. So I’m sticking with what works.
With boiler services I took the dogs out for a walk. I did my “dog whispering”. All was calm and placid. We were all walking nicely at heel. And then a cat ran across the road. The dogs didn’t see the cat, but it saw them, stopped, and deliberately came back to provoke them.
The rest of the walk was rather fraught.
I came home and had a cuppa to recuperate.
As I drank coffee I wrote up some CPD (as I do). The dogs eventually settled, but two minutes after the last one started snoring so the postman delivered some letters. I say “delivered some letters” – you’d think he was trying to kick the door down judging by the noise he made to deliver one small Christmas card.
When the dogs settled again I quietly slipped out. I went up the road to the church hall which today was doubling up as the polling station. I chatted with the nice ladies on the counter, got my ballot paper and went into the voting booth. I was presented with five choices:
I cast my vote, then drove off to Tenterden. I went to the Old Dairy brewery shop where I got twelve bottles of Snow Top. Last year I got the same and it lasted well into the New Year.
I then drove on to Cranbrook where there used to be a rather good off-licence. There used to be... it has long since closed. I shall go elsewhere for what I wanted. but whilst I was there I had a little look up and down the High Street. It was strange seeing all the family-run independent shops. Not a chain store in sight. It was like going back fifty years or more. I'd like to live there.... I wonder if "er indoors TM" is up for moving?
Whilst there I got all the information I hoped I need to solve a nearby geo-puzzle, then drove on to work.
I went to the works canteen for lunch. As I scoffed beef lasagne I was very conscious of a rather noisy child on the next table. But as I listened to the commotion I soon worked out what was going on. The young lad was with both of his grandmothers. They were awaiting the arrival of the boy's father, then they would all go up to the maternity ward together to meet the new-born sister. I spent much of the afternoon smiling about that.
You don't get this in any other line of work.
The rest of the day was rather dull...
13 December 2019 (Friday) - Raven-Haired Temptresses
Another restless night. To be fair to the hounds, they were quiet. But (somehow or other) I managed to do something to my left hip yesterday and I couldn’t get comfortable.
I got up early, and over brekkie watched an episode of “Flowers”. It passed twenty minutes whilst Sid and Fudge snored. Treacle and Pogo stayed upstairs. And with telly watched I had a look at the Internet. Facebook seemed to be strangely quiet this morning.
I looked at the election results. The Conservatives had won. I then had a look at the local result. Compared to the last election the Conservative vote was up five per cent and was again more than all the other votes combined. The Liberal Democrat vote was down two per cent and the Labour vote was down an amazing twenty-five per cent on 2017. Interestingly the Green vote was nearly double what it was last time.
Bearing in mind that in the run-up to the election my Facebook feed was alive with people proud to be voting Labour and no one was brave enough to say they supported the Tories, I have to wonder if this either this election was in some way fixed or whether social media is no reflection of society?
As I drove to work the talk on the radio was all about yesterday's election. A resounding success for the Conservatives... but as the talk went on I don't think that the Conservatives won it so much as Labour lost it. In many of the seats which Labour lost, their votes went to the Brexit party. It was hinted that we hadn't so much had an election as had staged a popularity contest between a likable (if lying) showman and a idiot who was disliked by the media.
Mind you the election went on outside of England in the other parts of the UK too. The Scottish Nationalists did well (and will probably ask for independence next week), and there's now more nationalist Irish MPs than unionist
What will happen next? - time will tell.
I stopped off in Tesco on my way to work. I felt we deserved some sweeties for work. I got a bottle of plonk too; you can't go that far wrong with Bulgarian Merlot, can you?.
I went in to work; my hip got worse as the day went on. I wish I knew what I'd done to it; I certainly wouldn't do it again. The sweeties I'd bought went down well. We also had some Christmas puzzles to work on... Christmassy words from A to Z? My favourite was "Raven-haired temptress" for R.
As I worked, the I.T. people were busying about in the background. They were getting rather heated in their discussions about reflexed P-maps (as opposed to unsolicited ones). Matters were further confused when P-maps were being mistaken for R-Y messages (as opposed to point-to-point queuing or L-His flags).
In the end the decision was made to go with what they'd got, but there seemed to be quite a bit of uncertainty as to what it was that they'd actually got.
It's another world, isn't it?
Meanwhile as I type this, Treacle is trying to eat half a coat-hanger. I wish she wouldn’t…
14 December 2019 (Saturday) - In A&E
Yesterday I mentioned that my left hip had been giving my grief. I woke at three o’clock this morning in absolute agony. Bearing in mind that the hospital is (usually) not that busy in the small hours I got "er indoors TM" to run me up there.
I arrived and found two other patients in the waiting room; one bloke who was fast asleep, and a young teenage girl who was whining and howling about how much it hurt. (I never did find out what it was that hurt)
I went to the counter, gave the nice lady my sob story and sat down. Half an hour later I was called into the triage room where I repeated what was wrong with me. They measured my blood pressure and sent me back to the waiting room where the lady behind the counter had struck up a conversation with two other members of staff.
After half an hour the whining teenaged girl was called. She then stopped whining about how much it hurt and started whining about how she’d got comfortable and didn’t want to move. So her mother went off with the doctor instead.
An hour later I was called by a nurse. I repeated what was wrong with me (for the third time) and I was then moved to another waiting room. Here I was lumped in with two deaf old people and three vagrants openly hoping for free drugs from the NHS. All of us were watching the antics of a chap in a side room. The door of this side room was open; there was no attempt at privacy. This chap had been found on the train (stark naked) and had been detained in the side room by British Transport Police. He’d been there some time, and his medical history was no secret; one of the coppers was loudly telly everyone and anyone this chap’s business.
Eventually (just before seven o’clock) I was called by a doctor. She asked what was wrong with me. I explained for a fourth time. This doctor was either deaf or didn’t understand me as she repeated each question three times. She then mauled me about and said I needed an X-ray and a blood test. I agreed. I suggested that the triage nurse might have arranged these at half past three, but my suggestions fell on deaf ears.
A nice porter took me round to the X-ray department where a rather foxy young radiographer asked if I would like to drop my trousers for her. Such a shame that my hip was that bad that I could hardly move…
With X-rays done I sat about for half an hour after which time I was told that they’d forgotten about me. I was then wheeled back to the waiting room. Blood was taken at quarter to nine, and for some reason they took the blood via a cannula which was left in my arm. I asked why it had been left in my arm; no one seemed to know.
Bearing in mind I know blood-testers I made a phone call, and was assured that the results were available by quarter past nine. I told the nursing staff that the results were available; they assured me they weren’t.
Finally at half past ten a doctor called me. He mauled me about again, showed me the X-rays, told me that the blood tests were normal, and announced that I’d ripped a tensor muscle in my leg and this was aggravating an arthritic hip. He also hinted that I might (just possibly) be above my ideal weight. Pain killers, weight loss, not slouching and light exercise should do the trick.
"er indoors TM" picked me up eight hours after she’d dropped me off.
It is customary to praise the NHS. As an NHS worker myself I don’t like hearing anything bad about the NHS. But (it has to be said) I was not at all impressed with my experience. Had the triage nurse ordered the X-ray and the blood tests then I could have been out at seven o’clock rather than eleven o’clock. And for all that the staff might have been busy, they made no attempt to get out of the public’s gaze when they were spending half an hour (I timed them!) gossiping.
As one of the deaf old men said, they were treating each patient as though that was the first patient that had ever been treated by the NHS. There was no method or system in what they were doing.
"er indoors TM" drove me to Timpson’s where I got a walking stick. I can’t say I like having the thing but t does help.
We then drove up to Leybourne where a gaggle of us met up for a rather good meal to celebrate Tracy’s birthday. It was rather good to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen for a while. We would have liked to have stayed longer at the geo-meet that followed, but time was against us and visiting the most recent fruit of my loin was on the agenda.
With "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" visited we came home. My hip’s still tender, but the pain killers are working. The doctor says it will be as good as new in a month…
15 December 2019 (Sunday) - Excercing A Poggered Hip
I had a much better night in that I was in my own bed rather than sitting in the A&E department. Sleeping on my back (as advised by the A&E doctor) did make for a much less painful hip.
I got up, tiddled the dogs, and saw that yesterday’s high winds had brought the fence down. Hopefully my hip will be up for fixing that next weekend? Two years ago today I was out fixing that fence. Having those big panels doesn’t work as they catch the wind. I shall have to think about how I’m going to fix it.
As I looked at Facebook there was a *lot* of political talk going on still. Personally I’m of the opinion that the election is over, and unless anyone has got a time machine so they can go back and change things, then we should just move on.
There was also a lot of people wishing me well after my experience at the hospital yesterday. That was kind of many people. I’ve been giving the matter thought and I have decided to send the hospital’s patient experience department an email. I don’t want to put in a formal complaint. Rather than saying “you are a load of crap” I want to be constructive. They might consider doing blood tests and X-rays *before* patients see the doctor. How about not repeating the five-minute questioning six times. Why have a two-hour wait between deciding to do a blood test and actually sticking the needle in. And why put unnecessary cannulas into everyone (I’ve made a rough estimate that this alone could save a hundred quid a day).
We got the dogs organised. (with four dogs, that takes some doing) and we drove out to the countryside where we met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. We had planned a little walk to conceal (rather than unearth) Tupperware. Bearing in mind my knackered hip I dd wonder if this was a good idea, but the doctor did say to exercise the thing.
We had a good walk. We walked for a couple of hours. Fudge only ran off once, but Sid did exceed the expectations of even his staunchest supporters by going rogue. He’s *never* wandered off on his own before. There’s no denying that we spent ten minutes sheltering from the rain, but the rain went just as quickly as it came. A bit muddy in places, but it was a good walk. If any of my loyal readers find themselves at a loose end on New Year’s Day they could do a whole lot worse than coming along for the geo-walk we planned today.
With walk done we popped into a local pub where we had a rather good bit of dinner. The home-made soup was excellent. The roast pork was particularly good, and the “tart of the day” (!) was rather impressive. Washed down with mild, Christmas ale and a glass of port, this was one of the better meals out that I’ve had for a long time. And (as the icing on the cake) the dogs were rather well-behaved too.
I took a few photos of our adventure.
We came home via WH Smiths where my piss boiled. I had a parcel to collect. In the past, parcels could be collected from the sorting office. Opening at six o’clock in the morning and closing at eight o’clock at night no one ever had a problem collecting a parcel. According to the Internet WH Smiths were open till four o’clock this afternoon. We got there at three o’clock; an hour after the post office bit had closed. I had a little rant at the manager. Why advertise on-line that you are open until a certain time knowing full well that you close two hours earlier?
I *could* come back tomorrow to collect my parcel… *if* they didn’t open an hour after I’ve left for work and close at the same time that I am leaving Tunbridge Wells in the evening. I’ve messaged the sender of the parcel to tell him that it will probably be returned to him as I have no way of collecting the thing.
You have to ask what idiot decided that this would be a good way to operate.
"er indoors TM" says she can collect it… here’s hoping.
16 December 2019 (Monday) - This n That
I woke feeling full of energy and raring to go, only to find it was ten past two. I *hate* it when that happens. And is usually the case when that happens, I felt like death warmed up when it was actually time to get up.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Flowers” which featured an appearance of Fat Matilda. Whether Fat Matilda will become a part of the ensemble, or just be a one-off remains to be seen.
I then sparked up my lap-top to see what I’d missed overnight. There had been quite a few “likes” on the pictures I’d posted on Facebook yesterday. One or two other people had been out taking photos of their live yesterday as well. Being a nosey person I quite like seeing what others have been up to.
I did chuckle when I looked at some of the work-related Facebook pages I follow. Supposedly intended to be for post-graduate lever discussions, they are more and more becoming filled with very basic yes/no questions poorly translated from all manner of languages with the occasional bit of religious rubbish thrown in. This morning I found adverts for “belly fat burning juice” and rather pathetic religious-based vitriol directed at anyone using contraception who wasn’t married on pages supposedly about the practicalities of blood tests. Do these pages not have admins?
I had a couple of dozen emails: none worth having. I opened the advent calendar, wondered what on Earth I could say about it today, got dressed and hobbled up the road to my car.
With the election now becoming "so last week" it was good to have the pundits on the radio talking about something other than the election. There was quite a bit of talk about vaccinations; apparently the demand for flu jabs this year was so much that suppliers can't keep up with demand.
There was then an interview with Andy McDonald; the Labour party's Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. He was wheeled on to supposedly talk about how the Labour party are going to replace Jeremy Corbyn as their leader. Beaning in mind that the Labour party have for years been determined to make themselves unelectable I was intrigued to hear what he had in mind. Also bearing in mind how badly Jeremy Corbyn did in the mind of the public, I was wondering if they might have been considering having Frank "Oooh Betty" Spencer or Zippy (from "Rainbow") in charge. However the fellow being interviewed was far more interested in ranting about BBC bias. Last week I mentioned that the Prime Minister is threatening the BBC with scrapping the licence fee (because he feels they have been anti-Conservative recently); today the Labour party also feel the BBC have got the knives out for them as well.
I stopped off at Tesco to get some ibuprofen for my gammy leg. As I was picking it up a passing assistant told me that I could only have two packets. I thanked her for her advice, and she then asked if I would like to buy either of the other two brands of ibuprofen that they were selling. Exactly the same stuff but double and quadruple the price of the cheapo generic stuff I was getting. Branded medicines amaze me - it's the same stuff but costs *far* more. People really do think they are getting something extra from a fancy packet and having paid more.
I drove on to work. As I got out of my car I regretted not having brought my walking stick along. I hobbled in to work anyway. I did wonder about phoning in sick today, but I've had quite a bit of time off work on the sick leave recently, and the doctor did say to keep the leg moving.
I came home to find that "er indoors TM" had collected my parcel… Result !!
17 December 2019 (Tuesday) - Reviewing a Lawnmower
I woke in the small hours in something of a cold sweat. Jeff Lynne (the front-man of the Electric Light Orchestra) had hand-picked me to be the lead saxophone player on his new album. Having been paid an extortionate amount of money I was desperately trying to cover up the fact that I’d not touched my sax in over four years.
As I became more and more panic-stricken at being discovered to be the world’s worst saxophonist, at no stage did it occur to me that I might actually get the instrument out and have a little practice.
Seeing as it was only a week till Christmas I opened the Christmas jam for my brekkie. It had to be said that cherry brandy conserve was something of a disappointment.
As I scoffed toast I watched another episode of “Flowers” (which featured another appearance from Fat Matilda), then I had my usual rummage round the Internet. Sparks have released a new single; it’s rather catchy, and quite topical. Mind you, there’d not many bands still going forty-eight years after their first album was released. I sent out birthday wishes to family and friends on Facebook, and then had a look at my emails.
B&Q had sent me a rather apologetic email. They felt they were unable to post the review I’d written about the lawnmower I’d bought from them recently. I’d written:
“It's a f***ing lawnmower. Will you stop bombarding me with emails about the most trivial things. Are you *really* monitoring every single thing I buy? If so, this will be the last thing I ever buy from you. And I will advise family and friends to similarly take their money elsewhere”.
Such a shame they felt they couldn’t publish the review; I felt it summed up my purchasing experience quite succinctly.
I then had a little look-see at the box of Lego that "er indoors TM" picked up from the post office for me yesterday. A week ago I said of the thing “I've handed over my money... here's hoping the bargain arrives”. It has turned out to be quite the bargain. In addition to the bits I wanted I’ve also got eight maxifigures, two motors and some road-baseplates. I might redesign the train track on my Lego town to incorporate those base plates.
Talking of Lego I then opened today’s window of the Advent calendar (to give me something to ponder during the day), got dressed, and set off to find where I’d left my car.
I headed westwards through the driving rain on a rather dark and dismal morning and chuckled as the weather forecast talked about the possibility of light showers in the South East. As I drove there was talk of the European Space Agency's latest mission which will hopefully examine planets orbiting other stars. It never fails to amaze me just how little air-time things like this gets compared to the adventures of politicians which are forgotten by the next day.
I got to work; I did my bit. As I worked so my phone beeped with a message from the hospital where I'd spent much of last Friday night. Would I recommend them to family and friends? No I would not. Why not... Well. now they've asked I feel justified in telling them their shortcomings.
Facebook messenger also messaged me. Had I sold those glasses that I advertised the other day? If not would I like them to re-advertise them? Yes please. Mind you I doubt that they will sell. I think they are destined for the dustbin.
Do any of my loyal readers want souvenir beer glasses? I don’t…
18 December 2019 (Wednesday) - Missing Wigs
Having wasted much of yesterday evening fast asleep on the sofa in front of the telly I then found myself wide awake for much of the night, finally nodding off just before the alarm shouted at me.
I had some more of that cherry brandy jam on toast for brekkie. It’s not all that good. As I scoffed it I watched another episode of “Flowers” in which Fat Mildred did not make an appearance, but Fat Mildred’s paramour’s sister was branded as a “sapphic succubus” so that was something of a result.
The Internet was something of a disappointment this morning; my Facebook feed seemed to be filled with people trying to get money for stuff which really they should be taking to the tip. A bit like me with those beer glasses. And with no emails at all I turned off my lap-top and went to my Advent calendar.
As I drove to work I reflected on how I've been whinging lately about these dark and dismal mornings. But I'm not really complaining. I knew what the journey would be when I applied for the job three years ago, and there is no denying that I am far happier working where I am rather than where I was. Three years ago I would feel physically sick every morning at the thought of what trivial piece of pedantry the boss was going to blow out of all proportion. And I quite like my drive. When the dawn breaks the drive is through some rather pretty parts of the work. And I get to listen to the radio too.
This morning the pundits on that radio were interviewing prospective leaders of the Labour party. Having finally realised that Jeremy Corbyn was the worst thing that the Labour party have ever done (since their last great blunder) they are now looking for a new leader. Those interviewed were banging on about how the Labour party faces an existential crisis and how it is about to collapse in on itself. In fact they were saying all the doom-and-gloom that was being spoken about the Conservative party only six months ago.
I alluded to this yesterday; politics is so transient. What is immediate and pressing today is very soon forgotten tomorrow.
Talking of politics there is currently consternation in the House of Commons. The new Speaker of the house, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has decided that in order to bring respect and dignity back to politics he would wear the ceremonial wig that the Speaker has always worn.
However it's gone missing.
Apparently no one has seen the thing since it was last used in 1992. Has someone nicked it for financial gain? I'd be intrigued to find the going rate for a purloined ceremonial syrup-of-figs on eBay.
Some wig-maker has kindly offered to supply a new one at a cost of over a thousand pounds. I can't help but think that this is an economy that he country could do with making.
I got to work; as I walked in the smell of the cooked breakfast was so good that I couldn't resist it. I had quite the fry up. Usually a Full English breakfast sets me up for the day; unfortunately this one just gave me wind.
I farted through what turned out to be an otherwise not-too-shabby day…
19 December 2019 (Thursday) - Savings
When I went to bed last night the Met Office had issued a flood warning for our local area. I was rather pleased to get up to find that downstairs wasn’t under water. I wasn’t quite so pleased to find a couple of turds on the kitchen floor (Sid?) but you can’t have everything.
I watched another episode of “Flowers” (which is getting weirder and weirder), then I had my morning’s rummage round the Internet. Facebook was rather disappointing this morning. I liked seeing the pictures my cousin had posted from her trip to London yesterday, and quite a few people seemed to have liked yesterday’s instalment of my Advent Calendar, but there wasn’t really much else that had happened. My Facebook feed was filled with adverts for new-age-hippy-nonsense from the Romney Marsh and adverts for some woman’s boyfriend’s skills as a handyman.
As a naturally nosey person, I wish more people would put up pictures of what they’ve been doing.
I drove round to the petrol station to re-fuel. Whilst there I got into a conversation with the nice lady behind the till. She told me that you can make a rather good Christmassy drink by dissolving Werther's Original boiled sweets in vodka, and then mixing the resultant juice with cream. I shall have a go at that...
On the subject of petrol stations I had a pang of guilt as I approached Biddenden. There is a petrol station there. The place is always festooned with signs exhorting the public to support them as they are a family-run business. I'd be inclined to support them if their petrol wasn't five pence a litre more expensive than Sainsbury's. Not counting my Nectar card I save a tenner a month by going to Sainsburys.
As I drove, the pundits on the radio were also talking about savings. Some politician or other was talking about the cost of military equipment. What with all the talk of the NHS wanting funding there is a feeling that the armed forces are missing out. However it would seem that military spending seems to over-run. Take for example the navy's latest warship. The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth II was supposed to cost three and a half billion quid. It actually cost double that (and that was without any aircraft to carry). The chap being interviewed tried to claim that this massive overspend could be justified by sailing the ship round the world frightening "Johnny Foreigner" by showing that a post-Brexit Britain was still "Billy-Big-Bollox".
I got to work... there were quite a few sweeties to be had on the run-up to Christmas. Note that it is still "the run-up to Christmas". It never fails to amaze me how many people have so much time off work at this time of year. As I checked the Internet this evening I saw that even more people have packed up work and quite a few are already going away.
I shall stay home and scoff. I think I might have to go on a diet in the New Year. Again…
20 December 2019 (Friday) - Rather Wet
Just as I nodded off last night I was woken by a text from the Environment Agency to say that there was a flood warning for our area. It then rained hard for much of the night, but the Environment Agency lifted the flood warning in the small hours. I know this because they phoned to tell me. I wish they hadn’t.
I got up to find that "er indoors TM" had put the Christmas tree up. That was nice.
It was rather wet outside at six o’clock when I chivvied Sid out for his morning rake-out. Fudge went of his own accord (despite the rain) but I don’t trust Sid not to “go” on the kitchen floor. He can be lazy like that.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Flowers” (which is getting decidedly weird), then had a look at the Internet. It would seem that quite a few friends have been to see the new Star Wars film. Back in the day I would have organised an outing to go see it mob-handed at the midnight showing. (Possibly). Mind you I must admit I’ve still not seen the last Star Wars film. They’ve never really appealed to me. If you see one, you really have seen the lot.
Other friends were posting from foreign holidays around the world. I was a tad jealous. Still… I’ve got holidays planned for next year.
I'm not sure that the flood warnings should have been lifted; as I drove westwards to the roads were very wet. There were huge puddles, and the entire road was under water in several places. Ironically it was as I drove through the worst of the floods that the pundits on the radio were talking about how Brexit will remove all sorts of fishing quota restrictions from the British fisherman. This boiled my piss on several scores. Family friends who have been commercially fishing from the Hastings beaches for years have bored me to death on this subject many times, and I shall share their sage wisdom...
Firstly the fishing quotas are there for a reason - you can't take all of the fish out of the sea and expect commercial fishing to remain a viable proposition. And why does it take Brexit for the British fishing fleet to be free of the European restrictions? The French fishing fleet have *never* followed the European rulings (they've been in the news about this several times). And why does anyone expect the French to respect the British territorial fishing zones when the French have been fishing it for years (they've been in the news about this several times as well) because by ignoring the quotas they emptied their traditional fishing grounds years ago.
As I drove a Rabbi spoke on the "Thought for the Day" slot, and he was quite engrossing. I had no idea what Hanukkah was all about; the chap brought the thing to life for me.
Interestingly no one on the radio wanted to mention that aliens have been up to no good.
Apparently when compared with star maps made fifty years ago, modern star maps would seem to show that about a hundred stars have vanished. What's that all about? Where have they gone?
Yesterday I mentioned that the nice lady in the petrol station had told me about making some odd cocktail with Werther's Originals, vodka and cream. I stopped off at Tesco to get some of each, then went in to work.
And with my bit done I came home. With "er indoors TM" off out on the razzle I was in sole command. There's no denying that the dogs take a lot more notice of her than they do of me. It started badly when I came home to a rather humungous turd. I’m not entirely sure who it was, but the smaller dogs were (obviously) not to blame, and when we all went into the garden, Fudge, Sid and Treacle all did huge turds of their own whilst Pogo stood looking rather sheepish.
They then had their dinner; I had mine. As I scoffed it I put the Werthers sweets into the vodka. It’s all gone an interesting brown colour. It’s looking rather promising… I wonder when I put the cream in?
21 December 2019 (Saturday) - Late Shift
My phone went off at one o’clock this morning. It was the Environment Agency telling me there was a flood warning. I really should have a look at whatever it is that prompts these notifications.
I went back to sleep, and slept well. Perhaps this was the result of a good helping of my new cocktail. The Werther’s sweeties had (mostly) dissolved into the vodka by ten o’clock last night so I chucked in the cream, gave it a mix and had a go… In all honesty it wasn’t that bad really. As a “proof of concept” I think it was a resounding success, but I must admit that the Werther’s flavour could be replaced with something better. And "er indoors TM" says I put too much cream into it. I have a plan for a Mk II.
I slept through till after eight o’clock when I started the dog tiddle routine. With four dogs this is quite the process. Fudge can be trusted unsupervised, but Sid can’t, and I’m beginning to have my reservations about Pogo. I’m wondering if having seen Sid have “little potty accidents”, Pogo thinks he might get away with it too.
Over brekkie I had a look at the Internet. I think I need to tweak the settings on Facebook. I love Facebook because I love seeing what people have been getting up to, but this morning I saw pretty much nothing but the same six adverts posted on a dozen different selling sites.
I wrote up a little CPD, then programmed “Hannah” for tomorrow. Again I struggled with GSAK. I think someone at geocaching dot com has fiddled with the settings. The thing was finding geocaches ten miles from where I’d centred it, but not the ones at the centre which was the ones I wanted. I’ve found a work-around… who would have thought that rummaging in the undergrowth for plastic pots could be so stressful.
We took the dogs for a walk; we went up to the river to see what all the flood warnings were about. Admittedly the river was rather full, but I've seen it higher, and we do live quite some distance from the river as well. I don't think the Environment Agency needed to phone me quite so early.
As we walked I found a Munzee - I was First to Munz. The thing had been out for three weeks and no one else had been near. No one rushes out for new Munzees like they do geocaches.
We came home, and I set off for work. The pundits in the radio were staging yet another post-mortem of the Labour party's recent crashing defeat in the recent General Election. It would seem that pretty much everyone but the Labour party themselves is of the opinion that Jeremy Corbyn lost the election single-handedly, and that the sooner the Labour party realise this, the better it would be for themselves.
To be honest I soon got fed up with them re-hashing the same old arguments, and I turned over to listen to my rather odd choice of music.
I eventually got to work; the A21 was gridlocked so I diverted cross-country.
It wasn't my original plan to work this afternoon. I had all sorts of better things to do today. But a colleague had gone off sick at short notice, and with very few people not already working this weekend who weren't hundreds of miles away on holiday I thought I could step into the breach. If nothing else it should stand me in good stead for not having to work any other shifts at short notice over the Christmas period.
Work was rather busy - and I even found a new case of hereditary elliptocytosis. Go me!!
I came home via Steve and Sarah's. The original plan was for me to have spent the evening there, but that was not to be.
"er indoors TM" needed picking up as the "er indoors TM"-mobile's clutch had possibly gone west. It was good to catch up with friends. What with one thing and another I’ve not been in touch as much as I have been. Must remedy that in the New Year…
22 December 2019 (Sunday) - Ash - In The Rain
Having had the environment agency messaging me the last couple of nights, I was woken at half past two by the boss to ask if I would swap shifts later in the week… The messages stopped at three o’clock, and I eventually got back to sleep.
I got up four hours later and spent a frustrating ten minutes stopping Fudge “playing piggyback” on Sid. I wish he wouldn’t do that. As I scoffed toast I peered into the Internet. Some eight-year-old child has made twenty-six million dollars this year through reviewing toys on You-Tube. Again I have to question some of my life choices.
We got ourselves organised. With the reliability of the "er indoors TM"-mobile’s clutch still undecided, I drove us all out to Ash where we met Karl, Tracy and Charlotte. As we left home it was raining, but the weather forecast said the rain would soon be gone. When we got to Ash I did wonder if anyone had told the rain what the weather forecast had said. But I put on my waterproofs as did everyone else, and we set off confident in the belief that idiot enthusiasm would triumph over common sense.
We started off walking across what I can only describe as a quagmire, but the dogs always love the opportunity to run off of the leads. And the rain soon stopped. We had a rather good walk along some rather pretty fields and lanes. We saw donkeys and rather bedraggled sheep (that I mistook for pigs). Treacle found a rather humungous stick to carry (she loves a big stick). I must admit that I did wonder if we should have abandoned before we started; I’m glad we went ahead with the walk.
Mind you there was one “episode”… Toward the end of the walk a rabbit shot across the field. Pogo set off in hot pursuit. For no reason that I could fathom the rabbit turned one hundred and eighty degrees and sprinted back the way it came. Just as Fudge and Treacle saw the rabbit, the stupid lagomorph (that’s posh for “rabbit”!) ran head-first into a tree. We are of the opinion that this stunned the rabbit and it was this that allowed it to be captured. In the few seconds it took me to get to the three dogs they were sharing the spoils of their victory.
The take-home message here is to *never* let your dog near anyone’s pet rabbit, but I suppose that at least it was a quick clean kill… and is it wrong of me to feel just the teensiest bit of pride in my dogs? – they really are wolves at heart.
Geocache-wise it was a rather good outing. All caches needed a puzzle to be solved in order to locate them. The puzzles were relatively easily solved, and the caches were (mostly) straightforward finds. And on the way I found my twelve thousandth cache too.
I took a few photos whilst we walked.
We said our goodbyes, and from Ash we drove up to Margate. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had given us a mission to perform for her. Whilst we were in Margate we took the dogs for a little walk along the sea front. Half an hour on Margate sea front was *far* colder than three hours walking across fields and footpaths.
We came home. Fortunately I was able to park outside the house when we came in. When we’d left, everything was packed nicely. When we came home everything was strewn across the back seat of the car. But (amazingly) the dogs were quite clean. In the past they’ve needed baths after a walk like today’s. Today a wet wipe did the trick. I suspect all the mud and dirt is in the back of my car.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, and as it is that time of year we opened the Christmas stout. You can’t go that far wrong with a bottle of Snow Top. As we scoffed and guzzled we watched “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol”. It was rather good. I then slept through the new Netflix film “Klaus”.
Oh – and we drank the last of the Werther’s sweetie vodka stuff… I might make a Mark II tomorrow so we’ve got something for Christmas…
23 December 2019 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
With no messages from either the Environment Agency or the boss in the small hours I slept right through till half past eight. I got up, as did Fudge and Sid. I chivvied both dogs outside to “do their business”.
As I made toast, Sid asked to go out again. I’ve formed a theory about Sid and “his business”. When the other dogs “want to go” they hand around the back door and whine and fuss until they are sent out. Sid doesn’t. he asks once, and having asked once he then feels justified in crapping on the lino.
As I looked at Facebook I saw that a friend had taken her children to Lapland, and on arriving the entire family had had gone down with norovirus. If it was anyone else I would have gloated, but she gets all of life’s bad luck. I played a little “Hero Wars” because Facebook has been constantly bombarding me with adverts about the app. It was rubbish.
Pausing only briefly to open the penultimate window of my advent calendar I went out into the garden. Back in the day I used to grumble when we only had one dog’s turds to harvest. Now we have four, and I have to be careful not to block up the chod-bin, the turd harvest is so plentiful. The back garden was quite the swamp. Fortunately nice-next-door have bodged the fence good enough for now. I can’t do a proper fix without churning the lawn beyond repair.
We then took the dogs for a walk. They had great fun running through the floods in Bowen’s Field. Or that is Fudge, Treacle and Pogo did. After a few minutes we realised we’d lost Sid. I eventually spotted him a hundred yards back. He’d not liked the look of the floods, had turned round and was heading home.
We then played nicely with other dogs. We met a young family who asked (very politely) if they could stroke the dogs. We had a good walk; marred only by Fudge’s insistence on trying to “play piggyback” with Sid. I *really* wish he wouldn’t do that.
Once home I popped over to the shop to get the ingredients for my Christmas cocktail MkII. It is again vodka-based, but this time I’ve bunged in Cadbury’s chocolate eclairs and I’ve got some Elmlea to chuck in it later. At the moment the chocolate eclairs are dissolving quite nicely.
We had a croissant for lunch, then I took myself off to bed for the afternoon whilst "er indoors TM" went shopping. Just as I’d made myself comfortable so all the dogs came up and made themselves comfortable too. We all slept nicely for about five minutes after which time they all charged downstairs barking and shouting for no reason that I could determine. They then all came back to bed for five minutes, and that was the way of things for the next four hours.
The day before the night shift is usually a dull one, and even though it is Christmas week, today followed the usual pattern.
A bit of dinner, then off to the night shift…
24 December 2019 (Tuesday) - Christmas Eve
When I got to work last night, not having been at Maidstone work for a while I checked the "secret Santa" box. The pressie with my name on was the biggest one. And seeing how I wouldn't be in during the daytime today (when the pressies get opened) the late shift who were going home and my night colleague all agreed I could open my pressie. I got a bazooka-thingy which fires tennis balls up to thirty metres. I'm hoping for great things from this with regard to keeping the dogs entertained. Fudge has never been big on chasing tennis balls (he prefers to eat them) and chasing anything is too energetic for Sid, but I have high hopes for Pogo and Treacle.
As the day wore on I saw that the chap for whom I’d bought the “secret Santa” gift had posted a photo of it on Facebook and seemed to be happy with it. I was pleased about that – buying a pressie can be difficult… or (to be precise) buying the pressie is easy – buying something that someone wants is difficult.
In the past I would traditionally do the night shift of the day before Christmas Eve. "er indoors TM" and the children would go down to Hastings, and I would follow on the train on Christmas Eve morning. My brother would meet me at the train station, and we would drink ourselves silly before going round Sainsburys in a drunken frenzy buying all sorts of stuff we didn't need or want. We really should do that again some time.
The early shift arrived and I set off. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing various members of the legal professions who were all rather concerned about how difficult it is to convict murderers. Witnesses aren’t overly keen to squeal people up for fear of retribution from the friends of the accused. You’d think the legal professions would have investigated this years ago…
I got home and took Fudge, Treacle and Pogo out. "er indoors TM" was collecting "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and was going to visit relatives. We thought they might like some “Sid Time”.
I took the other three hounds to Orlestone Woods where we had a rather good (if muddy) walk.
I like Orlestone Woods. You pretty much get the place to yourself, and any other dog walkers you meet generally seem to understand what dogs are like and consequently you get far fewer “episodes”.
Just as we finished the walk so I got a text message. The "er indoors TM"-mobile had gone west.
The thing had been problematical on Saturday but having had a little episode of its own it seemed to recover. I did suggest taking it to the car doctor on Sunday or yesterday, but I was over-ruled. Far be it from me to say “I told you so”, but this morning the thing threw in the sponge in a quite spectacular fashion.
I took the dogs home, we all had a bath, and I went to bed.
"er indoors TM", "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" decided to carry on with their mission using my car. They came home to collect it, then set off leaving me wide awake.
I tried to get back to sleep, but I wasn’t happening. So I set about laundry whilst watching the second season of “Mars” on Netflix. It is quite watchable, but (like so many TV shows) it tries to feature genuine science whilst having no idea whatsoever what genuine science looks like.
After a while "My Boy TM" came round and drove me back to his house. "er indoors TM" eventually joined us, and we had a good evening. Far too much to eat, and a good time spent playing the “Family Fortunes” game.
I never knew that the first fruit of my loin was such a fan of Carol Vordeman…
Today was good… it would have been *so* much better had I been allowed more than an hour’s sleep…
25 December 2019 (Wednesday) - Christmas Day
I woke for a tiddle at five o’clock. I chivvied Sid out who had a tiddle of his own, then came back in and crapped on the carpet.
I cleared it all up, and went back to bed.
Even though it was Christmas I still had toast and peered at the Internet. I was hoping and expecting Facebook to be filled with pictures of happy families with loads of pressies. There were a few, but there was no end of posts on the local pages about the real and imagined crimes which had supposedly taken place yesterday.
I got dressed, drove out to Canterbury to collect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and then on to Folkestone where we collected "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". We came home, and played Lego for a while whilst "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good Christmas dinner before returning "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" back from whence they’d come.
With the day’s driving done I settled in front of the telly with a can of mild and a bottle of stout to wash down the left-over Christmas dinner, and fell asleep in front of “Carry on Camping”.
I woke just in time for us to pop round the corner for an evening with Brian and Rachel. We sat in front of the open fire and had a rather good evening which got progressively more vague as time rolled on.
Not the busiest of Christmases… I wonder what we’ll do next time?
26 December 2019 (Thursday) - Boxing Day? Late Shift!
Perhaps it was all the driving yesterday, perhaps it was the port and cheese last night. But whatever it was I slept like a log. It was a shame that I woke feeling quite so grim – was that the port?
As I scoffed toast so Sid sauntered downstairs. I take no chances with him – he went straight outside where he did “both flavours of business” for which I was grateful. He went back to bed; I thought about doing so, but I was up. I had a little look at the Internet. The couple of piccies I’d posted last night had got one or two comments. And (unlike yesterday morning) people had been posting up pictures of what they’d been up to. Being a nosey person I like seeing that.
We had intended to take the dogs out, but the torrential rain put us off of that idea. Instead we slobbed on the sofa and watched “Carry On Henry”. The film was rather good, but it was such a shame that they had to put on such depressing adverts.
With a little while spare, I had a look at the monthly accounts. As I always say, they could be better but they could be a whole lot worse. Is it wrong of me to want a *lot* more money?
"er indoors TM" served up cold meat and pickle which I devoured, then I set off towards work. Months ago when we were asked what shifts we'd want to do at Christmas time I chose Boxing Day late shift thinking it might suit me best... I wish I'd chosen a shift earlier in the holiday now. And I must admit that (yet again) I have to question my choice of career. A rostered shift on Boxing Day got me paid at time and a third. A friend (in a completely different line of work) was offered a thousand pounds for two hours' work yesterday. And he turned it down too!!
As I drove up the motorway through the rain I was rather amazed at just how much traffic there was. It wasn't really any different to any other day. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how much money people spend on sporting activities... not so much doing the activities, but on joining the clubs. Apparently golf clubs across the country are struggling because although there's just as many people wielding golf clubs as ever, there's fewer and fewer people wanting to pay to be a member of a golf club.
I suppose that the general public are asking themselves if they want to actually do an activity, or just talk about it.
I drove to the petrol station; with the "er indoors TM" -mobile out of action and me doing the driving at the moment we've used a week's worth of petrol in two days.
Suitably re-fuelled I then went in to the late shift. For all that I might have grumbled about it, and for all that lone working does have its moments (like my bank accounts) it could be a whole lot worse.
I did my bit; I scoffed some of the mince pies which had been left over from Christmas Eve. There was quite a bit of food left over from Christmas Eve; I could have scoffed loads, but I think I ate too much yesterday. I wasn't feeling on top form and I left loads for those coming after me.
I’ve felt rather grim all day… perhaps an early night might sort it out?
27 December 2019 (Friday) - Sulking
As I had my morning shave so "er indoors TM" let the dogs out to “do their business”. Unfortunately to humans “doing your business” involves tiddles and poops. To dogs “doing your business” means shouting a lot then going back to bed. Perhaps half past five isn’t the best time to “do canine business”?
With everyone else gone back to bed I made toast using the last of the cherry brandy conserve. I’m glad that stuff has all gone, I then watched the first episode of the second season of “Flowers” before sparking up my lap-top to see if I’d missed much overnight. There were a few people posting on Facebook; one or two (like me) were getting ready for work. Quite a few were still on holiday. Whilst I don’t dislike my job, if I had my time again I’d work somewhere that puts up a “closed” sign from time to time. But it could be worse… I went through my diaries last night – I’ve actually had three complete Christmases (Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day) off in the last ten years.
I was rather interested to read some of the posts on the Munzee-related Facebook pages; apparently the parent company is about to go bankrupt?
Yesterday I mentioned that the roads at mid day were as busy as any other day. This morning at seven o'clock the roads to Pembury were the quietest I've ever known them. It took me less than an hour to do a journey which usually takes an hour and a half. Usually there is hold-up after hold-up. I didn't stop once on the entire journey.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking their usual brand of nonsense. This morning the country's top Judge Lady Hale was the guest editor for the morning news program. There was a lot of talk about how the legal system is in disarray because the average person can't afford justice. Rather than paying barristers, people finding themselves in court are defending themselves with varying degrees of success. An attempt was made by some other legal bigwig to justify the salaries of those working in the courts. The argument made was that barristers and solicitors should be paid a fortune because the financial whizz-kids in the city get paid far too much as well. I must admit that I wasn't convinced. By that reasoning, everyone doing anything should be paid a fortune too?
It was also suggested that more women should be employed as judges because it was claimed that there are different outcomes when women judge a case (as opposed to male judges).
How does that work? How does justice depend on the gender of the person assessing it?
As I parked my car I reflected that I've never really thought that much of the British legal system, and now I have reason for feeling that way.
I got to work and parked up. Apparently the nice Prime Minister has announced that there will be free parking for NHS staff next year... when they are on night shift. I pay a set amount every month and park whenever my seemingly random shift pattern requires me to show up. I wonder how this free parking at night will work. Will I get a rebate? I suspect that (like most political promises) this hasn't been thought through very well.
As I worked my brother phoned. My mum had been taken poorly yesterday and had spent the night in hospital, but she would seem to be on the mend now.
With work done I came home again. As I do… The roads were quiet on the way home too. Over a typical Christmassy dinner of cold meat, cheese and pickle (washed down with port and stout) we watched the Christmas Bake-Off. It was rather good…
28 December 2019 (Saturday) - Early Shift
I had something of a restless night. "er indoors TM" was arguing with one of the dogs in the small hours. I'm not sure which one; I pretended to be asleep; I wasn't getting involved.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of "Flowers" then set off to Maidstone and work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking to some of the farmers on the island of Iona. Every year thousands of holidaymakers invade the local farms thinking that the farmland is fair game for walking and running their dogs and staging picnics and parties. Some of the local farmers were getting rather irate. Why do people not respect farmland? I walk through enough if the stuff. It's not that hard to follow footpaths, keep the dogs on leads and generally *not* run amok.
There was then talk of the New year Honours list. When I was a lad I had this idea that I would like to end up with an OBE. Today's recipients of honours included Elton John, Floella Benjamin (from "Play School"), Nadiya Hussain (off of "Bake Off"), Olivia Newton John and the drummer out of "Queen". Perhaps if more mention had been made of why honours had been given out rather than of who got them then I might have taken more notice.
I got to work and did my bit. As I did my bit I was thinking quite a bit about holidays. Yesterday Cheryl announced that this year's family holiday will be to the Cape Verde islands. I said "Yes Ma'am" and booked the week off. If any of my loyal readers fancy dog-sitting for a week in July...
And yesterday evening I was chatting on-line to a friend who was taking her family for a day trip to the Lego theme park in Denmark. With a flight from Stansted to Bilund costing twenty-three quid, the thing can be done as a day trip. I'm vaguely thinking going in February if anyone fancies a day out. Either as a trip to the Lego theme park, or as a day hunting Tupperware. I’m not sure which yet.
I came home to find "er indoors TM" had gone shopping. I also came home to find a kitchen floor awash with dog diarrhoea (or dire rear as I texted to "er indoors TM"). It didn’t take that long to clear up. Mopping up with bleach took a little longer, but it is all part of the whole “dog” experience.
Did I ever mention that I never wanted a dog? Let alone four…
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, and as we scoffed it we watched the new re-make of “Worzel Gummidge”. A lot of people have been very negative about it on-line. I thought it was rather good…
29 December 2019 (Sunday) - Visiting Mum
Despite "er indoors TM" having a squabble with one or other of the hounds in the small hours I slept through till eight o’clock. Mind you I felt rough when I got up. I’ve been feeling a bit grim for this last week; I’ve no idea why. But when I feel iffy I have two choices; I can either sulk or I can get on with it.
So I got on with it.
Pausing only briefly to dispose of the turd on the kitchen floor (Sid?) I made some toast and had a look at the Internet. For once my Facebook feed wasn’t snowed out with adverts. It would seem that I wasn’t the only person feeling under the weather. And we weren’t the only people who’s watched “Worzel Gummidge” yesterday, and unlike the initial reaction to the show, several people seemed to have liked it.
Other people were still posting to Facebook from extended holidays and seemed to be having a good time.
I quickly had a go at a geo-puzzle then we took the dogs out.
We did our usual circuit of Bowens Field and the park. The dogs set off in hot pursuit of a squirrel in Bowens Field. I chuckled as the squirrel shot up a tree, but my heart was pounding when the squirrel slipped, fell out of the tree and landed not three feet from the dogs. Had I fell from a tree I would have been fit for nothing, but squirrels are made of sterner stuff. It went straight back up the tree like a bullet from a gun.
As we walked through the park we met quite a few other dogs. There was only one “episode” and that was with a dog whose owner was treating him as a precious princess. I’m still trying to figure out how Pogo’s brain works (if indeed it does) but he seems to get on better with dogs that come up to him to say hello, or with ones that ignore him. Ones that cower in terror or ones whose owners shriek like pink Debbies in flowery dresses seem to set him off.
We came home, settled the dogs and set off. Pausing only briefly to collect "My Boy TM" we drove down to Hastings. We had McLunch and found a Munzee in the car park. "er indoors TM" got to be the “First to Munz” on it. Geocaches are usually found within a couple of hours of going live; this Munzee had been out for six months and no one had Munzed it.
We then went and got the geocache for which I’d solved the puzzle earlier, then it was up to Tesco to get presents for the invalid. My mum was still in hospital, and "My Boy TM" wanted to get her “grapes and shit”. I got an attack of the giggles with a mental image of him turning up at the hospital bearing a bowl containing two turds and a bunch of grapes.
We got grapes (but no “shit”) and drove up to the hospital. We spent a couple of hours with Mum. She’d had a collapse on Christmas evening and has been in hospital ever since. As time has gone on and as tests and more tests are done, the consensus of opinion is that she had a vasovagal attack. (Or fainted, to those who’d prefer less technical terminology). She seemed well; she’s scheduled for a scan of some sort tomorrow, and should be home soon.
I had intended to make a quick getaway to be home before dark (I don’t like driving in the dark), but as we walked out so we met my brother.
We weren’t *that* late home.
"er indoors TM" made cauliflower cheese. We discovered that Fudge likes raw cauliflower. I struggled with more geo-puzzles with varying degrees of success until "er indoors TM" dished up dinner. She boiled up a particularly good bit of cauliflower cheese, then went bowling. I cracked on with the ironing whilst watching the Christmas special episode of “Gavin and Stacey” which was quite good.
Not a bad day off really…
30 December 2019 (Monday) - Early Shift
Over an early brekkie I watched another episode of the National Geographic Channel’s “Mars” series. It was rather good. As I watched I sorted undercrackers and ended up with quite a few odd socks. How does that happen?
I sparked up my lap-top to send a birthday video to my brother, and on seeing nothing had happened on-line overnight I put my undercrackers away (because Treacle would have them if they were left out) and set off to find where I left my car yesterday.
Bearing in mind the weather forecasts had been talking about very mild weather I was rather surprised to have to scrape quite so much ice off of my car this morning.
With ice scraped I set off to work. The pundits on the radio were talking doom and gloom about environmental catastrophe. Today's guest editor of the morning current affairs program was the environmental activist Greta Thunberg and she ran the show in pretty much the same way she seems to have captured the world's attention. Whilst I don't want to detract from Ms Thunberg in any way, she strikes me as being very full of concern and anger, but very short of any practical ideas.
I got to work and checked my emails. It had been rather early when I left home. I might have had an email in the meantime, but no. I had been hoping for a notification of a new geocache. Over the last seven years this has become something of a way of life. Something to do with an odd five minutes; a guided dog walk. Always going somewhere different... Always? Perhaps not for much longer. Over the years I've found twelve thousand of the things; an average of one hundred and forty a month. in this last month only fifteen new ones have been created within thirty miles of home. For all that there are a *lot* of friends who go out hunting for film pots under rocks, there are precious few people who actually hide the things for us all to go searching for. I particularly like series of caches which form the basis of our weekend dog walks; I've got maybe half a dozen such series left within an hour's drive of home. There's few enough people who hide caches; very few who hide a series of twenty or so.
As I drove to work this morning I did have a wry smile at the weather forecast which spoke of a mild morning with only isolated patches of frost. Ashford was frozen. I drove through thick fog which last ed all the morning. As the fog cleared at mid-day so my phone beeped. A "Yellow Alert" warning of possible fog.
In the last year the weather forecasts have got noticeably worse.
"My Boy TM" sent me a message as I worked. The fishery were we sometime go to drown maggots is up for sale. At a shade over a million quid I spent much of the day wondering just how anyone could afford to buy it. Clearly some people can, and clearly I’ve made seriously wrong life choices because I can’t.
An early start made for an early finish. I came home and met "er indoors TM" and the dogs at the park, then took "er indoors TM" to collect her car. Having spent a small fortune getting it fixed, the nice man in the garage gave he a list of things (as long as your arm) that needs doing to her car.
As "er indoors TM" boiled up scran so I strained my brain trying to solve some puzzle geocaches in the Tonbridge area. I solved some, but there are still some that have me foxed.
As we scoffed a rather good bit of dinner (washed down with Bulgarian Merlot) we watched a film on “Netflix”. “Downsizing” started good but it went on. And on. Like so many films it would have been so much better if it was a *lot* shorter.
31 December 2019 (Tuesday) - New Year's Eve
The dogs had a good night and so consequently did I. Over brekkie I watched the last episode of the second season of “Mars”. It was a good show; I wonder if there will be a third season?
I did chuckle as I looked at Facebook this morning. Someone was selling their old tat and was making great show of how their rubbish as being sold at a bargain price, even though you could buy the same things (brand new) cheaper in the shops. “NEED GONE!” was the caption on several items. If you need it gone, why not consider the dustbin. I’ve got quite a lot of stuff that I’d like to sell if only anyone would pay for it.
This morning the radio's current affairs program was edited by "George The Poet". No - I'd never heard of him either. He's some (c)rapper who seemed to be pretending to be fifteen years younger than he actually was. With the "Thought for the Day" presented by "Guvna B" and great swathes of the show devoted to the influence of grime music on British culture, the entire thing sounded like an episode of "People Just Do Nothing". Which is quite a fun show to watch all the time you realise that the show is a piss-take, and not intended to be taken seriously. Bearing in mind some of the other guest editors they have had on the radio over the Christmas period, I can't help but think that the BBC could have done a whole lot better today.
I stopped off at Aldi; I must admit that I have to ask myself why. I didn't really need anything and I didn't get anything. But I suppose that (bearing in mind the wonders of their centre ailes) I might have done.
Work was work. I did my bit. As I worked I was rather conscious that there was a geo-meet today and that friends were out walking whilst I was working. But I've done this "oh-I'm-working" sulk to death over the last week or so.
As I worked I had a phone call. Mum was being discharged from hospital. Having been in the place for six days the doctors had decided that she'd had "one of those things", was probably better, and had sent her home.
Once home I settled the dogs, put on my red pants (it’s a Spanish thing) and the bat drove us down to the traditional New Year bash with Jose and Maria. We had a rather good evening; I stayed awake for the grapes and Spanish New Year at eleven o’clock, but for the first time ever I slept through the New Year at midnight… I’m getting old.