1 January 2021 (Friday) - New Year's Day
Spanish New Year’s Eve is usually one of the highlights of my year and its forced cancellation did have me thinking that last night was going to be something of a disappointment. But a rather good bit of dinner followed by a family Whatsapp quiz all leading up to a virtual Zoom-ed Spanish New Year turned out to be a rather acceptable substitute. I suppose it isn’t surprising that I slept through till half past nine this morning.
I made some toast and scoffed it whilst "er indoors TM" and four dogs continued to snore. I had my usual root around Facebook and sent out a few birthday wishes. Some friends really did have a birthday today; others just claim that their birthday is today for cyber-security reasons. Personally I don’t use my birthday as my password, but that’s just me…
There wasn’t much happening on Facebook this morning; presumably (like me) everyone was still recovering from the excesses of a night on the razzle. It isn’t until you’ve staged a lager-frenzy at home that you appreciate the health-giving benefits of having to walk (stagger) home after a night on the razzle.
There was a minor squabble kicking off on the fans of Radio Four Facebook page. You’d be surprised how much argument such a dull-sounding Facebook page generates. This morning’s argument was a religious one; apparently one of the radio’s programs gave a rather simplistic view of religion and various people were claiming to be outraged. When I was a steward in the Methodist church (equivalent of a Deacon in the Church of England) it was my experience that the vast majority of so-called Christians (especially the churchgoers) believed all sorts of stuff; very little of which had any bearing or connection to what the church taught or what was written in the Bible. Very few of the active churchgoers seemed to have any understanding of what they professed to believe, and even fewer had actually read the Bible.
As I waited for "er indoors TM" and the dogs to emerge from their pits I got onto EE’s Live Chat and swapped text messages with Harsimranjeet in the hope of reclaiming money which was outstanding on the accounts I had with them which I closed when I realised that Sky did the same thing as EE but far cheaper. Harsimranjeet was very helpful (bearing in mind I’d packed up with them) and after a little fiddling about he asked if I could give him two minutes. After three minutes he said I’d be getting a refund soon. That will be something to look forward to.
Flushed with success at having got a result from a Live Chat thingy I contacted the power company about my still-not-repaired SmartMeter. I got through to Arjit B and told him the entre sorry tale in that the gas meter thinks I should be paying nearly thirty thousand pounds each month, and that I am continually being told that someone will be in touch in two days’ time but no one ever gets back to me. Arjit B asked me to stay connected, and I did. After twenty minutes he told me to try again tomorrow as the SmartMeter department was closed today, and he didn’t have the ability to leave a message for them. He typed “I have tried on my end but it is not letting me” so I suppose he tried…
One of the highlights of the geocaching year has always been the New Year’s Day walk in which up to fifty of us go on an organized walk. However this year that wasn’t possible. A much smaller and scaled down geo-walk was the order of the day for everyone, and a few months ago I’d seen a multi-cache in Charing which looked as though it would be ideal for a lonely walk today.
We got the dogs organised (Fudge seemed surprisingly quiet) and drove off up the A20. We were soon in the car park and our starting point was easily located. My phone’s geo-app felt the given co-ords were out, but I’ve always felt that this particular app isn’t the best for location. We soon got the required information, did the sums (such as they were) and plotted a plausible location where the plastic tub had been concealed. I won’t say where the thing was hidden, but I will say that the walk was ideal for today. Just far enough for a cold day. No mud, and things to nosey at as we walked, One good dog-walk later and we had the cache in hand.
I took a few photos as we walked. We came back to the car park where we let the dogs have a run round the nearby field. As we left I noticed quite a few people approaching from several directions. There was an open-air picnic being staged there. That was a little bit cheeky… So much for Tier 4 rules, eh?
We came home where Fudge was sick. Rather impressively sick. Fudge seems to have something of a TARDIS-stomach; when he “blows” he manages to bring up impressive volumes of vom.
Having mopped up dog-sick I then spent far too long working on my Atlas of Haematology. It’s a project I’ve been working at (on and off) for years. I intended to spend maybe half an hour on it; I was working on it for the duration of the David Walliams TV pantomime and Gene Wilder’s “Willy Wonka”.
I had a quick dunk in the shower, then tuned in to the New Year’s Day virtual geo-meet. We couldn’t meet up in person, but it was good to chat with friends on-line this evening.
"er indoors TM" then popped to the KFC to get dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the New Year’s episode of “Doctor Who” – an excellent story totally spoiled by some rather dreadful characters. I’ve often said that sci-fi only works if you can relate to the people in the story, and it speaks volumes when you find yourself rooting for the daleks rather than the hero’s sidekick. Fortunately two of the leading four characters left the show this evening which has got to be a good thing…
2 January 2021 (Saturday) - Pluckley (Again)
Ideally a lay in would have been a good idea but realising that I had yet another messaging session with the idiots at the power company I found myself wide awake far too early. I watched another episode of “Motherland” as I scoffed toast, then on the stroke of opening time I activated the Live Chat and found myself this time connected to Limakshi. I copied and pasted the rather epic document I am compiling about the ongoing issues with my non-functioning SmartMeter. Limakshi asked for a couple of minutes to check my account. After ten minutes she told me she had decided to lodge a formal complaint on my behalf. My heart sank at his point. I know this mentality. A formal complaint means endless paperwork, and there are those that love paperwork. To be fair to her, Limakshi said she would personally follow up the matter and said she would ”keep following up with you regarding the matter every 3 days ensuring I update you on every actions that I am taking in order to resolve the issue”, but I’m not convinced.
The issue I have with the power company is straightforward – the SmartMeter is broken and needs repair or replacement, but so far nine of their operatives have been unable to arrange this. I do hope Limakshi doesn’t become the tenth.
I then had a little look at the rest of the Internet. There was quite a lot being said about last night’s episode of “Doctor Who”; very little of it being positive. I watch the new shows purely because I’ve watched it from the start and I consider myself a fan, but it isn’t what it once was. Doctor Who worked back in the day because it *didn’t* have good special effects. The scenery did wobble, and the monster really was a bloke in a rubber suit. And so with that in mind the writers created a good plot with plausible characters and the show worked well.
Today the special effects have enough of a “wow factor” that the writers feel they don’t need to work on the plot and the characters are two-dimensional and unconvincing.
I want to like Doctor Who but it disappoints. Time and again.
I caught a jellyfish in our tree house (as you do) and immediately got a notification that the nice people at Munzee had given me an award for having captured a Munzee every day for the last year.
We took the dogs for a walk. Having had a little look at the geo-map I’d worked out a little walk for today. A circular walk of five miles going past six geocaches that we hadn’t previously found (and seventeen that we had). It was a good walk, if a tad muddy. It was a shame that we nearly got run over by a pair of half-wits driving their motorbikes up one of the footpaths, but I expect they will have broken their necks slipping in the mud by now.
We did have a dodgy five minutes when Pogo yelped and started limping; he has definitely done something to his back left leg. After hobbling about for a bit he seemed to be fine, but I shall keep an eye on him. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt him to lose some weight, but then again the same could be said about me.
I took quite a few photos as we walked – Pluckley is a rather pretty place.
Once home the dogs got thoroughly scrubbed, and I spent a little while playing Lego. First of all putting together the 1970s hospital that "er indoors TM" got me for Christmas, then incorporating it into my Lego World. Playing with Lego only took three hours.
As we scoffed a very good curry we watched the David Walliams program in which he farted around watching a school production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” whilst some poor sod was under orders to make a full-sized version of the car that actually flew.
Is it giving any spoilers to say that they succeeded?
3 January 2021 (Sunday) - Pouring Hard
I slept for ten hours last night. That was rather impressive. It was with something of a shock when I saw the clock as I woke. I leapt up to see to Sid, but too late… there were turds on the lino. I chivvied him into the garden where he did a rather impressive tiddle though.
As I scoffed toast I had a look-see at the Internet. This morning I seemed to be bombarded with loads of adverts for an app which would set me walking targets for weight-loss purposes. I told them all to get knotted. I take the dogs on very regular walks. A small walk is over a mile. A circuit of the park or of the woods is two miles. Weekend walks are five to seven miles. And still the weight piles on.
Every morning has a petty squabble; today’s was on the Facebook group “Dad Jokes England”. Usually it is the home of rather corny jokes, but this morning a row was kicking off for the most trivial of reasons. It never fails to amaze me how there are some people who will argue over whether the sky is blue or whether grass is green.
I also saw I had a message from “Ermenegilda Irene” who was trying to direct me to dubious websites. I was having none of it.
And needless to say there was absolutely nothing from the power company or from Limakshi despite her assurances of sending me an email yesterday.
We did have one or two plans for the day… all of them had gone west for various reasons. So with "er indoors TM" having her brekkie I went up to the attic room and spent a little while in Lego World. The far end of my Lego town was always supposed to be a park, but it was something of a shambles so today I took it all apart and had a major re-vamp. I’ve retained the Bill & Ted statue from San Demus, Darth Vader’s riding school and Viz Magazine’s Drunken Bakers, but having re-arranged and having put in some flower beds the area seems to have a tad more structure to it now. I made a little video too.
According to the weather forecast there was supposed to be a break in the weather between one and three o’clock, so that was when we took the dogs out. We went up to the railway station where "er indoors TM" caught a bouncer (it’s a Munzee thing) and we went on to the park. The dogs were (mostly) well-behaved; on the two occasions when they were being bothersome to the normal people, a quick blast on the whistle had them quickly at my side Even though I say it myself, when the whistle training trick works it is quite impressive to behold. Mind you when it doesn’t, it can be something of an embarrassment.
When we were at the part of the walk that had us furthest from home the heavens opened. We hurried homewards, but with the best will in the world it takes a while to walk a mile. And when the rain had soaked through to my pants was when the hailstorm hit.
We got home, and with pants wrung out we watched a few episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which four different Bed and Breakfast establishments tried to out-do each other. I was particularly interested to watch this batch of episodes as one of the contestants was “The Ship” in Dymchurch. I’ve driven past the place several times but have never been in there. Once lockdown is over maybe we shall visit…
I was also rather amazed to see that two of the four contestants in this afternoon’s Bed and Breakfast competition didn’t actually offer breakfast. One had a “cook it yourself” arrangement, and one sent customers down the road to the nearby café. What was that all about?
We had a rather good bit of dinner as we watched last week’s episode of “Star Trek: Discovery”. I suppose the show is just like “Doctor Who” in that having been watching it for as long as I can remember I feel obliged to carry on watching it. I suppose tonight’s episode wasn’t *that* bad. It certainly wasn’t as bad as Friday’s episode of “Doctor Who”.
I suppose (also as is the case with “Doctor Who”) it doesn’t help that I can’t stand the lead character…
I’m not feeling on top form… I might have an early night…
4 January 2021 (Monday) - Back Into Lockdown
It took a while to nod off last night as the latest new-next-door was doing noisy sex. I wish they hadn’t been.
Once I’d chased Sid round the garden this morning and done my COVID-19 test (negative) I watched another episode of “Motherland” as I scoffed brekkie, then peered into the gloom of the Internet to see if I’d missed much overnight.
Facebook was crawling with “I don’t want to go back to work” memes this morning. All posted by people who’ve often commented about how little time they think I spend working whilst they have just had a two-week holiday from work. I only had a three-day holiday from work for Christmas. Mind you I’ve just had another three-day break so I can’t complain. (Glossing over both of them just being three-day weekends)
I also saw that our old friend Science has found some more aliens. Apparently they flew past in their spaceship four years ago. I can remember Oumuamua being discovered – it was the first space-rock-thingy that could definitely be shown to have come from outside the solar system, and at the time expert opinion was that the thing wasn’t of alien origin. But Science would seem to have changed its mind. I suppose watching it speed up as it left the solar system (when it should have been slowing down) takes some explaining.
It had been raining when I chivvied Sid outside earlier. It was still raining when I set off to find my car. More and more I've been wanting to move house; if only to get somewhere with dedicated parking. More and more I find myself roaming the streets trying to remember where I'd managed to find a parking space when I'd last come home.
I eventually found my car (where I'd left it) and set off up the motorway. There was a lot of talk of Coronageddon this morning. Despite another vaccine now being available the pandemic is running out of control. Looking back at my blogs from last year it would seem I was totally wrong about the virus. At the time COVID-19 was just the latest in a long line of scare stories following on from HIV, mad cow disease, SARS, bird flu, swine flu and zika. Surely the media must take some blame here?
The pundits on the radio were interviewing the shadow minister for something-or-other who said (quite rightly) that the government’s tier restrictions on movement would have been quite adequate to contain the virus... it is just a shame that no one was actually complying with them. How right she was. As I drove up the motorway the overhead signs were all showing messages about "Tier 4 - Stay At Home - Essential Travel Only" whilst the motorway itself was as busy as it as ever been over the last year.
There was also talk about how Donald Trump begged the officials in Georgia to lie to pretend he'd won the election in that state when he hadn't. It was rather embarrassing for him that the conversation had been recorded... I wonder if he will face charges for doing that? Somehow I doubt it. Sadly this is typical of the sort of thing that has become expected of Mr Trump and (following his example) pretty much all politicians everywhere.
There must be a better way to run society than by running what is effectively a popularity contest in which the most outrageous gets to win.
I got to work. Having dried out a little on the drive to Maidstone I again got soaked on the short hop from the car park to the hospital building.
Work was work; but a colleague was having a birthday today. Having sent him a birthday video (via Facebook) earlier I scoffed one of the doughnuts he'd brought in. I must admit I was rather puzzled why he was working today. I last worked a birthday on my nineteenth birthday (in 1983). Working on my birthday sucked, and I haven't worked on my birthday ever since.
I came home to a bumper crop of letters. The bill for the boiler servicing (which I think is always worth having done), a sulking letter from EE who had the arse that I’d left them and gone to Sky, a load of bank statements (even though the bank assures me they only send me electronic bank statements) and the Lego cowboys I bought with the money I got from my mum for Christmas.
"er indoors TM" boiled up pie and chips, and we scoffed it whilst watching “The Great”; billed as a comedy-drama it was more “odd” than “funny”. And we also watched the Prime Minister’s broadcast. He’s announced another lock-down. I wonder if this will be enforced?
5 January 2021 (Tuesday) - Front Fastening Bras
What I intended to be a very quick pop to the loo at four o’clock this morning became quite an epic mission as Sid leapt up, scattered turds with gay abandon and then took an age bimbling round the garden in search of the best place to have a tiddle. Having finally found a suitable spot he spent another age emptying out what seemed to be several gallons of tiddle. By the time I’d got back to bed three other dogs had made themselves comfortable in what was once my spot.
Four hours later I then followed Fudge round the garden (in a monsoon) in an attempt to get a bottle full of his tiddle (for the vet). I succeeded, but got incredibly wet in the process (rain, not dog tiddle!)
As I scoffed brekkie I peered into the Internet as I do. There were various opinions being bandied about over last night’s announcement of a third lock-down. Those who have always followed the rules were going along with it, those who don’t realise just how stupid they are weren’t going to have anything to do with it. And everyone had their own interpretation of just what was and was not allowed. Take for instance the ancient and noble art of sticking film pots under rocks… The geo-feds have unilaterally decided not to allow any new geocaches to be created. However they have done nothing about disabling all existing ones .The government COVID-19 website clearly says “you can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure”. The Angling Trust have taken this to mean that fishing is now banned. I thought about posting this question to the local geocaching Facebook page, but in the end I couldn’t be bothered.
I was more interested in the adverts for front fastening bras that Facebook was bombarding me with this morning. What do I want with a front fastening bra?
I drove over to Henwood to collect "er indoors TM"; she’d taken her car to be serviced. As we drove the roads were much quieter than usual. Perhaps people might just be taking this lockdown seriously?
Once home I went straight out again; today was Fudge’s six-monthly kidney check-up. He’s lost more weight, and (perhaps I was being paranoid?) the vet did seem to be a little reticent; not wanting to say very much until he’d got the result of blood and urine tests. The vet was probably quite right not to say anything without that information (I should know!) but I do worry about that silly dog.
With Fudge vetted we came home. I popped to the corner shop. They were open all through the last two lock-downs, and seem determined to stay open through this one. I got a sandwich for overnight and buns for the morning, and then settled down with my lap-top and my Fudge (and a cuppa and a bun) and wrote up a little more CPD. Some time ago I created an Atlas of Haematology; I’m giving the thing something of a facelift. Sometimes I worry that I do far too much CPD; I certainly seem to do more than many of my colleagues do, but better too much than too little…
After an hour or so the vet (Gareth) rang. Fudge’s kidneys are getting worse. SDMA, creatinine and urea levels were all raised on the last test result (which is only to be expected) but… The iffy blood test results *could* be related to the fact that he has a urinary infection. The vet has prescribed a two-week course of antibiotics then a repeat urine test and a check of his blood pressure.
I drove "er indoors TM" back to Henwood to get her car then went to bed for the afternoon. I woke to find Fudge sitting at the foot of the bed. If I’d known he was there I would have helped him up.
I also woke to find I had an email. On Saturday morning I’d spoken with Limaksi (from the power company). She was (is?) the tenth person with whom I’ve dealt about my ongoing smart meter issue. She confirmed what she had said in the Live Chat conversation, and said she was waiting for a reply from the smart metering team. She then rather let herself down by saying that she was aiming to have the matter resolved by January 24th, but I suppose that is far more of a response than anyone else has come up with. I suppose most people do work in weeks rather than minutes…
I’m hoping "er indoors TM" will boil up some dinner, then I’m off to the night shift…
6 January 2021 (Wednesday) Bit Dull, Bit Tired
Some people argue about whether one has lunch or dinner at mid day. Does one eat tea or supper in the evening? Either way, you know what someone is talking about when any of those are mentioned. But what is the name of the meal scoffed at three o’clock in the morning? Whatever it was called, as I scoffed it I had a look at my phone’s Facebook app and saw that quite a few other people were awake, and were reporting snow in various parts of Kent. I then spent the rest of the night shift peering out of the windows but being unable to see anything.
I drove home through drizzle.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were interviewing Nadhim Zahawi who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment). The bloke didn’t come over very well. He answered every single question put to him with the stock phrase “You are right to challenge me on this point” and um then um was um so um hesitant um that um he um didn’t um actually um say um anything.
There was also a lot of talk about how the BBC is to broadcast educational TV shows to help the efforts of parents home-schooling during lock-down. Great show was made of this, even though it is a very old idea – when I was a lad daytime TV consisted entirely of this sort of programming. One of the CBBC channel’s executives was interviewed, and she made great show of wanting to support the school curriculum. Or “criklum” as she insisted on calling it. I would have thought that the BBC would have supported the school curriculum better by having their efforts to do so led by someone who could actually pronounce the word, but what do I know?
I got home and walked the dogs round the block. We didn’t go far as it was a wet morning. As we went Pogo was crapping like a thing possessed; I have no idea what he’d been eating but I wish he’d eat less of it. We certainly were rushing the end of the walk in a desperate bid to get home having crapped our way through a pocketful of dung bags.
With walk walked I went to bed where I slept for three hours, then over a rather late brekkie I had my daily root around the Internet. I hear the “doorstep clapping” thing is to start again. If people want to stand on the doorstep clapping, then that is up to them. However I would ask that none of my loyal readers do so for me. At the time when the weekly clap was “a thing”, many of the intended recipients found it all rather insulting. You don’t clap a bus driver for not crashing, or a nuclear scientist for not blowing up the power station, do you?
I then spent the afternoon doing the ironing whilst watching several episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which the owners of four completely different Bed & Breakfasts tried to out-do each other. As always the cheaper establishments did the best as there is far more scope to underpay an expensive place.
I wrote up a little more CPD, and it will soon be dinner time. I hope.
The day after a night shift is usually dull, and today was no exception…
7 January 2021 (Thursday) - A Bit Ranty...
After four hours asleep Sid woke me with his barking. "er indoors TM" said she’d been down to him three times already. Needing a tiddle I went down to him a fourth time and took him into the garden. He didn’t want to go but I didn’t give him the option, and after a little sulk by the back door he eventually stomped down the garden, did that which was expected of him, and stomped back again. He then settled, and so did I.
I woke seven hours later.
I made some toast and peered into the Internet. Apparently there were riots in Washington last night as Donald Trump and his supporters still refused to accept that they lost in the recent election. This morning there was talk of having Mr Trump removed from office via constitutional methods having him declared medically unfit for office seeing how he is arguably mentally ill.
There was also consternation being expressed that the episode of “Dad’s Army” that appeared on the BBC last Sunday had a disclaimer that the show featured language of the time that viewers today might find offensive. Did anything really find Corporal Jones ranting about “fuzzy wuzzies” to be offensive? Really?
But this is a sign of our times isn’t it? Political correctness gone mad? Possibly. Or is it that those with extreme heartfelt views have got themselves into positions of power to make their opinion mainstream? I’m reminded of the landlady of our flat in Folkestone in 1984 who at the time ran a vegan restaurant in Dover. She was very animal-rights-save-the whales-Greenpeace-eco-friendly and at the time her views were that of a crackpot minority. She once told me that her animal welfare group was seen as a joke, and that they needed the respect that the RSPCA had. Her and her mates stood for office in the RSPCA and within a few short years they had taken it over. Have you ever wondered why (by the mid 1990s) most small pet shops had gone, and why so few of those remaining sold animals any more? Or why the Dogs Trust people wouldn’t have a collecting tin in a pet shop but would have one in a tattoo studio?
What was once crackpot views became mainstream opinion. It is like anything in our society; everyone is quick to find fault. Only a small minority will actually stand up to do anything. Like my crackpot ex-landlady and Donald Trump…
I took the dogs round the block, and spent a few minutes chatting with a couple of chaps who were fitting double glazing into a house’s bay window. It was amazing watching what they were doing; I wouldn’t have a clue where to start.
With a few minutes to spare I had a little look at the Internet; specifically the videos of last year’s “Thursday Clapping” that a family member had posted over the ten weeks of last year’s first lock-down. Clearly in that street the “Thursday Clapping” was a chance to get out and about and mix with the locals and deliberately undo all the good that staying at home had done. That clapping was supposed to have started again this evening. I don’t think it was quite the success it might have been… am I being churlish in being grateful for that? Leaving aside all that it undoes all the benefits of actually staying at home, I find it insulting. No one claps a baker for not incinerating a loaf of bread.
Today was dull…and I’ve been ranty….
8 January 2021 (Friday) - Before the Mud Melted (Africa by Toto)
I watched the last episode of “Motherland” as I scoffed a bowl of granola, then on seeing the cars outside were still icy I smiled. I could put my plan into action. As I was scraping the ice off of my car in the works car park at nine o’clock last night I had a stroke of genius. If we could get out early for our morning walk we might get to the woods before the mud melted, and so it would be firm underfoot and the dogs wouldn’t get filthy and wouldn’t need a bath when we got home.
As we drove off, the thermometer on the car’s dashboard said it was minus four degrees… that was rather bracing, We got to the car park in Orlestone woods five minutes before sunrise. There wasn’t any other cars there at all. There was the rubbish of someone’s McDonald’s, but there always is. We set off on our walk… and it was then that I realised the flaw in my genius plan. There was a crust of frozen mud over a *lot* of still-squelchy mud. Only the top surface of the mud was frozen. The frozen bit was rather thin; not thick or strong enough to take the weight of a small dog (let alone a tank like Pogo).
We walked our walk, came home and had a bath…
With dogs scrubbed I made some toast and had a little look at the Internet to see if I’d missed much. I saw that my request to join a Facebook group had been accepted. I’m now a member of “A Group Where We Add “Africa by Toto” To Open Polls”. If when you are voting for anything on Facebook and you see “Africa by Toto” as an option, now you know where that is coming from. I wasted no time in suggesting “Africa by Toto” as a candidate in a poll on one of the political pages I follow. So far it hasn’t accrued any votes, but hope springs eternal…
I did my COVID-19 test, wrote up a little CPD, caught a Flat Rob in the Skyland (it’s a Munzee thing), planned a slightly longer dog walk for tomorrow, and an hour after we’d come back from our walk my phone beeped with a weather warning. There might be ice about today.
Those weather warnings are on the case (!)
It had been cold when we'd come home from our walk; it hadn't warmed up much during the morning. As I drove to work I caught the end of some radio program about what living in Britain in the 1980s was like. As is usually the case in these kinds of shows I found myself wondering which part of Britain the program's makers were talking about, as the Britain they were describing bore no relation to the one I used to live in. Mind you the Britain of today that they often describe on the radio seems nothing like where I live either. One of us is wrong... probably me I expect. I usually am...
The comedian (?) Ruby Wax was then on for half an hour supposedly talking about the best way of dealing with stress. Great show was made of the fact that the program had first been broadcast three years ago. Perhaps it was relevant to its time; it just seemed offensive today. Perhaps I was being overly sensitive?
I stopped off on they way for Munzee reasons, earning myself ten Zeds (as one does), and got to work for the late shift where I ended up being rather busier than I had intended to be. But such is life, and it would be a dull old life without non-specific enzyme mediated antibodies, wouldn't it?
It was a shame that the motorway was closed as I tried to drive home down it…
9 January 2021 (Saturday) - Hothfield Bogs & Common
I woke to the sound of Sid’s frantic barking and my heart sank. I know what he is like. When the other dogs need a tiddle they woof once and stand by the back door. Sid yaps constantly until someone comes to sort him out at which point he gets very over-excited, starts running in pissed circles, drops turds and treads in them. Getting to him before the turds emerge is just too ambitious but grabbing him before he dances through the turds can be done. I led him (by the scruff of his neck) outside where he tiddled whilst I went back inside and cleared up the poop.
He then sat next to me on the sofa, snoring loudly, whilst I scoffed toast and peered into the Internet. There was joy and resentment being expressed on Facebook as The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs “has now officially confirmed that angling/fishing (including sea fishing off private boats) can be considered exercise and are hence permitted.”. The joy was from my fishing friends. The resentment was from my golfing friends as golf is still a big no-no during the ongoing lock-down.
There hasn’t been any sense at all in any of the lock-down rules, has there? When you go fishing you walk maybe a hundred yards and then sit on your arse all day long. When you play golf you walk several miles. The one which involves sitting on your arse is supposedly “exercise”. Go figure. Mind you this is from the same government that is giving out the wrong post code for the Brexit lorry park.
Fudge was a worry over brekkie; having turned
down two bowls of dog food and a bowl of biscuits we finally got him to eat
by presenting him with a bowl of dry Cheerios. He’s
a fussy pup. He was also a sulky pup when I insisted he wore a coat on our
The route we followed was interesting. It followed footpaths up to Hothfield Common Nature Reserve, went through the reserve, and then followed footpaths up to Little Chart Forstall where we turned round and came back. The part of the walk through the nature reserve was heaving with normal people, the parts on the footpaths were deserted. Which is why I like the walks we do at the non-lockdown weekends – we get to avoid the normal people.
As we walked Pogo tried to pick a fight with some Highland cattle. I wish he wouldn’t. We also found a Christmas sock hanging of a fence. How on Earth does anyone lose a sock at this time of year?
I took quite a few photos of our walk today.
We came home, and once the dogs had been seriously bathed we all had a lazy afternoon. The dogs snored on the sofa and we started at the telly.
We binge-watched “Back to Life” on Netflix. It is a rather good TV show about a woman’s return to the family home after having spent twenty years in prison. The thing was set in Hythe, and featured a lot of places where I’ve been, including the sound mirror on the White Cliffs. It was just a shame that places ten miles apart are shown as being within walking distance. But it stars Daisy Haggard. Woof!
We then watched the last episode of the current series of Star Trek: Discovery. It was OK I suppose… It really doesn’t help that each week I can’t remember what happened in the previous episode; I think I might need to go right back to the start of Star Trek: Discovery and watch the lot in quick succession.
And we then started watching “Bridgerton”. I’ve heard so much about this show; being a period drama I thought I’d love it… I struggled to stay awake.
10 January 2021 (Sunday) - A Cold Early Shift
I didn't really sleep that well last night, eventually giving up and getting up just after five o'clock. I came downstairs to find Sid was still snoring, which was something of a result. If he was asleep he wouldn't have had the chance to crap in excitement, and a turd free morning is always a bonus. He opened one eye, looked at me, and went back to sleep, for which I was grateful.
I made toast and watched an old episode of "The Office" - can you believe that show is now twenty years old? And seeing absolutely nothing had happened on-line overnight I set off to find my car.
I found it - it was under all the ice in Bond Road. Today's was a frosty morning. When I'd eventually scraped the windscreen clear and got going I saw that the car's thermometer said it was minus seven degrees. That was nippy.
Having heard the motorway was closed this weekend for the removal of the "Operation Brock" barriers I was pleasantly surprised to see it was open. I wasn't impressed to see the barriers were still in place though. For all the government's talk of the Brexit deal, there were still loads of lorries queuing on the coast-bound stretch of the M20 between junctions eight and nine, all waiting to be allowed to proceed to the docks at Dover. The queues have been there since before Christmas.
As I drove I listened to the radio (as I do). There was some utter drivel about a young couple who had joined some sort of hippy commune somewhere in Sussex. There they all live in caravans until their patch of land is enough of a commercial success for them to afford somewhere better to live. This pair admitted they would be in the caravan for the foreseeable future but seemed to be very proud of a log-burning stove which was somehow very environmentally friendly.
Having wasted twenty minutes of national radio's air-time, this was followed by what I can only describe as stark staring nonsense. The government in India is very concerned about people being forced to change their religion. Apparently a lot of Hindu women are marrying Muslim men, and one or the other of each pair is being forced to convert from one religion to another. How on Earth is this a matter of importance? If someone is quite happy to announce that they have swapped one invisible friend for another, who cares? If they are happy to discard one fantasy for another, they couldn't have been very enamoured with their invisible ex-chum in the first place, could they?
I suppose that if they are under duress to make a statement that they are swapping one invisible friend for another, then there might be an issue. You have to wonder just who has got into a position of authority where they can force and cajole the public in this way. For thousands of years people have been at war over whose imaginary friend is real and whose is make-believe, and there are no signs that this sad state of affairs is going to end any time soon.
It amazes me that we can land space probes on other planets but still put such importance on crackpot religion.
I got to work (before sunrise) and did my thing. As it got lighter I had a rather pretty view out of the window of all of the frost-covered trees. The weather forecast has said that today would be milder than yesterday, but I think the weather forecaster lied. Again. A frost-covered view is so pretty... but so cold too(!)
As I did my thing my phone beeped. The nice people at Munzee HQ had seen that I'd capped a POI and released a jellyfish onto the motorway before work (never a dull moment when playing Munzee) and had given me two awards. The "Deploy Super Streak" award for deploying a Munzee every day for the last year, and the "Super Duper ULTRA streak" award for both capping and deploying a Munzee every day for the last year. Getting these awards for a GPS-location based game in a year which featured three lockdowns took some doing. It was as well that much of the game could be done from inside my car, and being a key worker with a fifty-mile journey every day helped too.
Mind you, bearing in mind the Boys in Blue stopped two women yesterday, read them their rights and fined them two hundred quid each after they'd driven five miles to take a walk, and another got a fine for just sitting on a bench, you'd think that other Munzers might be a tad more circumspect. There are those who Munz who haven't quite cottoned on to the fact every bar-code they scan can be used as evidence against them. Making it painfully obvious that you have left the house to play a GPS-location based game often up to three times every day for the last year can be rather difficult to explain to the rozzers (not that I'm going to squeal anyone up just yet...)
One of the highlights of working on a Sunday is that the works canteen does a rather good broccoli cheese. Unfortunately today's wasn't one of the better ones; I spent much of the afternoon farting like a thing possessed (assuming, of course, that possessed things fart excessively).
I came home; "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, and with it scoffed we tuned in to the family quiz which was staged via Whatsapp. We came second, which was a result. It did help that we knew that Shirley Crabtree was actually “Big Daddy” and not Father Christmas as some of the family felt. And it also helped that "My Boy TM" had no idea that Amazon was a river as well as a shopping business.
We then watched the second episode of “Bridgerton” which was an improvement on the first. I think I might have an early night if only to see if my stomach settles…
11 January 2021 (Monday) - Another Cold Early Shift
Again I didn't really sleep very well last night; again giving up and getting up just after five o'clock. I came downstairs to find Sid was still snoring, and I took care to make sure he stayed asleep.
Yesterday I'd got some blueberry hot cross buns from the branch of Marks & Spencer at work, and I had a couple for my brekkie. I am usually disappointed by Marks & Spencer's stuff, and this morning's brekkie was no exception. I blame the advertising. Billing something as super-duper-top-of-the-range gives you expectations. If they just touted it as "blueberry hot cross buns" I would probably have been happy with them, but when you are presented with something advertised as the best thing in the history of the universe you expect slightly better than "average".
As I scoffed my average brekkie I watched another episode of "The Office", then had a little look at the Internet.
Truly stupid people were ranting on the local Facebook pages. One woman was convinced that COVID-19 was all a hoax because her mate had followed all the rules and still caught it. Amazingly she had used this logic to convince quite a few other simpletons. In a perfect world I would have a patronising little laugh at the thickies, but these people are allowed to vote and do jury service, you know.
Surely local Facebook groups are indisputable evidence of the utter failure of our education system?
I was pleasantly surprised to see there was no ice on my car, and I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how Donald Trump has had his social media accounts frozen, and consternation was being expressed that the social media companies have the power to do this. Apparently silencing someone in this way sets a dangerous precedent (!)
I found myself wondering what planet these people were on. The social media companies aren't "social" at all - they are privately run companies with their own rules. We don't have a right to a Facebook account. We are allowed one *if* we play by their rules, and if we flagrantly flout those rules then we get our plugs pulled.
I got to work where we had a rather exciting day… if intracellular parasites excite you. They do it for me… all the time they are in someone else’s cells. And with work done I came home.
On the way to work I’d driven along the fifteen miles of dual carriageway which was once a motorway. All the way I’d driven at fifty miles per hour (which is the speed limit), and all the way I’d had a huge lorry just a few feet behind constantly flashing his lights in an attempt to force me to go faster even though there was a queue of cars going at the same speed in front of me. On the way home I had exactly the same happening.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching two more episodes of “Bridgerton”. The plot is beginning to liven up…
12 January 2021 (Tuesday) - Dull
At the weekend I scoffed a packet of peanuts. I’ve still got the guts ache now. I sat feeling very uncomfortable as I scoffed toast and watched another episode of “The Office” in which the winner of the pub quiz was decided by determining who could throw a shoe over a pub.
I sparked up my lap-top, recorded the result of today’s COVID-19 test (negative) and had a look-see to find out if I’d missed anything overnight. I do this every day… what did people do before social media? I can remember CB radio being popular in the early 1980s, and I think we used to read newspapers too?
This morning not a lot was going on. Some woman was trying to troll various Sparks groups (on Facebook) with anti-vax propaganda but no one was rising to the bait. She’d been told not to be silly, and pretty much everyone had moved on. If only more of the Internet was like that.
And I saw that a friend’s dog had died.
I walked through the drizzle to my car, and as I drove off so a torrential downpour kicked off. Ironically it was at this point that the weather forecaster was talking about how the south of England would be mostly dry today.
There was also a lot of talk about football. With many sports having shut down during Lockdown-3, football game are continuing. But over the weekend there were no end of breaches of social distancing both in the stadia and televised from the changing rooms. Added to this is the seemingly endless scandals of individual footballers holding parties for loads of their chums. The head honcho at Arsenal FC was on the radio wondering just how long it will be before football gets the kibosh from the government. Personally I can't stand the sport... compare it to other activities and games. there is so little skill in football. You just hoof the ball around. If you watch a game of football for five minutes (be it a gang of kids in the park or the World Cup final) you will see all the game has to offer...
Perhaps its simplicity is why it is so popular?
There was also a lot of talk about Donald Trump. Permanently banned from Twitter and facing a second impeachment the chap is in a class of his own. Were I a conspiracy theory crackpot I would wonder if he doesn't so much wield power as draw attention away from those who actually wield power in the shadows.
Work was work. I did my bit, and came home again. As I watched some telly whilst "er indoors TM" boiled up some dinner there was an advert for pet insurance. “Bought by Many” claimed to be the cheapest on the market and claimed they would take on pets with existing health issues. There’s no denying that Fudge’s insurance costs a small fortune, so when "er indoors TM" wandered upstairs to Zoom with her pals I went on-line and got a quote. “Bought by Many” offered me a policy which costs double what I’m already paying. I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
I wrote up some more CPD, farted a *lot* (peanuts !!!) and thought about today. Oh, it was dull…
13 January 2021 (Wednesday) - A Day Off
With no alarm set I slept like a log. It was only a shame to come downstairs to a floor full of turds. On seeing me Sid immediately went frantic, demanding to be let outside. As I fumbled with the key so he got more and more agitated. I opened the door, he saw the rain and immediately went back toward his bed. I wasn’t having that and took him outside. If I go out with him, he goes. He did a gallon of tiddle.
I made toast and peered into a rather dull internet. There was a half-hearted argument on one of the Lego groups. Some chap was demanding that the only way to make a Lego town was to plan the whole thing out on a computer-aided-design program. Others were saying that that made it up as they went along, and the CAD advocate was getting worked up about that. I suppose that as long as people enjoy it, either way is right? Me – I rely on the voices in my head to tell me what goes where, and it changes all the time as the voices change their minds.
Seeing how the rain had abated to a mild drizzle I took the dogs out to Great Chart. As I drove there was a feature on the radio about how law-abiding people are complying with the lockdown rules. There was an interview with a rather annoying woman who was ranting about how she has been furloughed and her parents cannot child-mind (because of lockdown rules). This rather stupid woman was rather angrily demanding to know how she is supposed to deal with two small children when she isn’t a trained nursery teacher. Now I know my views are very outdated but why have children if you don’t want to actually have them?
We got to Great Chart and saw a woman walking through the very spot where we usually park. As I slowed down so she stopped and grinned at me. After a couple of minutes of her grimacing like a loon I wound down the window and explained that she was standing exactly where I was trying to park the car. She reacted as though she’d not seen the car, and jumped out of the way as though I was about to run her over.
Why do I attract these loonies?
We walked from the cricket pitch up to the railway and back again. I would have gone further, but there is a gate at the railway line which I have to open for the dogs. Quite frankly I got so fed up waiting for Fudge that I cut the walk short. Treacle and Pogo keep up with me, but Fudge dithers and bimbles and then having taken ten minutes to walk forward five yards he will then sprint a hundred yards back the way we’ve come from.
I took the dogs home, and as "er indoors TM" gave them their brekkie I set off to Hastings to visit mum. She came out of hospital a couple of days ago. She was in bed but seemed in good spirits. She’s turned down a space in the hospice (for now), and this afternoon a hospital bed was being delivered and assembled in the front room which should make things easier for her.
I left just as the district nurse was about to do her thing.
I came home to find the postman had been. The new “Viz” had arrived, and so I took it to the toilet to read it.
I then scoffed the last blueberry hot cross bun, and made this year’s birthday video and posed it to You-Tube. Whenever Facebook tells me that someone is having a birthday I send them a link to a little birthday video. I try to make a new one every January, and (if I remember) my nephew will be the first recipient of this one tomorrow.
I then worked on my Atlas of Haematology until the washing machine finished, then I ironed some shirs whilst watching episodes of “Four In A Bed” whilst my undercrackers tumble-dried. And once the tumble drier finished I carried on Atlas-ing. I’ve got about half of it into the new format now. I need to beef it all up a bit (lot) though…
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Bridgerton” in which the dirty deed was finally done. It was only a shame that there is no one to take a moral stance here…
14 January 2021 (Thursday) - This n That
well… until I had a rather disturbing dream in which I went on a drunken
rampage with a rather over-excited John Travolta. I didn’t really get back to
sleep after that.
As I drove
through rather heavy rain the pundits on the radio were interviewing some
postman. This chap has become a Tik-Tok
internet sensation through singing sea shanties. He might be a sensation
on Tik-Tok - he was something of a let-down on Radio Four, giving closed
one-word answers to everything asked to him. He only elaborated on one
question when he described how whaling boats would rip the tongue from whales
and eat it. A bit too much for peak time radio, perhaps?
I made my way up one half of a motorway carriageway through some of the busiest traffic I have seen for a long time. It makes me laugh when those with political axes to grind claim that Brexit has had little (if any) effect and that the lock-down is being taken seriously by the public. Those who disagree with me might like to try driving on the M20 occasionally.
Pausing only briefly to get petrol I was soon at work. We had cake today. As always I posted a photo of the cake to Facebook, and as always I was mildly surprised by the responses. Does no one else work in a place where people having a birthday bring in cakes?
I had something of an A-Pos day today, and was rather late getting out. This was compounded by not being able to park anywhere near the house when I got home. I ended up parking by the park gates. If only people could park sensible and not have half a car’s length in front and behind each car…
"er indoors TM" has gone shopping. I could have gone shopping for her, but I’d rather she did it. Apparently she likes it when Ido the shopping because of the “pot luck” element of what I bring home. I just hope she brings home some dinner… I’m getting a tad peckish.
15 January 2021 (Friday) - Another Dull Day
As I scoffed my bowl of granola I watched an episode of “The Office” in which our heroes were pondering which was worse – a weasel-faced arse or an arse-faced weasel.
I then sparked up my lap-top for a quick look-see at the Internet. Once it finally got itself going I saw a post on Facebook about an ex-teacher from my old school who had died. People who hadn’t cared for the bloke at the time and who hadn’t given him a second thought in forty years were all crying crocodile tears about the fellow.
There was also an anti-vaccination squabble kicking off on one of the work-related Facebook groups I follow. It does make me laugh – people following Facebook groups about geocaching, dogs, fishing, Sparks, Laurel and Hardy, and Lego are all unanimously for the coronavirus vaccine. The only dissent comes from a biomedical group full of people who really should know better.
I saw I had an email from Limakshi from the power company. I had hoped she had some news about our ongoing issue with the smart meter which still resists all attempts to read it. But no… she was just telling me that she was still unable to contact the smart meter department. Can one department of the power company *really* be unable to contact another?
And LinkedIn had sent me an email to tell me that someone I have never met (and probably never will) has got a new job (with an utterly meaningless title).
I left home about twenty minutes earlier than I might normally have done. I needed to walk up to the park gates to get my car this morning. As I walked it was cold, but I was grateful that it wasn't raining. I capped a couple of virtual snowballs as I went (it's a Munzee thing), and it wasn't *that* long before I found my car.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking to the founder of Wikipedia. Can you believe that today is the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the on-line encyclopaedia?
There was also a lot of talk about free school dinners. There is something of a scandal in how little the kids get given to eat compared with how much the government spends out on them. Someone somewhere is making a fast buck out of the deal, but for me the amazing thing is that anyone is surprised by this. Surely the whole idea of privatizing a public service is so that someone can make a profit out of it.
I got to work where I had a rather busy day. And (in a novel break with tradition) there was no cake. Mind you there was biscuits though, so the day wasn't entirely a bad one.
"er indoors TM" boiled up fish and chips, and as we scoffed it we watched the last episode of “Bridgerton”. I hear there’s to be a second season… It was entertaining enough, but (call me a puritan if you will) but a few more heaving bosoms and a few less unfettered jugs might be better.
16 January 2021 (Saturday) - So Bored...
Finding myself wide awake at silly o’clock I got up and had a very early brekkie whilst watching an episode of “The Office” before going back to bed. I slept for a few more hours until Sid started a woofing fit. I got to him before he could “do” anything. When he saw the rain he was reluctant to go out to do anything, but go out he did. I went with him and saw that the forecast snow had fallen. There had been enough to leave a white covering on the lawn.
Peering into the Internet I sent out some clan invites (it’s a Munzee thing), and rolled my eyes at some of the postings on the Kent-based fishing pages. Several people were posting selfies from where they were fishing this morning. There is something of a macho-element in fishing circles; there is supposedly some merit in sitting in a puddle of slushy mud whilst the rain hammers down around you. I can’t see it myself, but many other “proper” fishermen have often lambasted me for not going fishing in the most extreme of conditions.
With freezing conditions and torrential rain outside our plans for a longer dog walk were a non-starter. Fortunately the dogs seemed happy to carry on sleeping, so I spent the morning carrying on with my Atlas of Haematology. Rather dull, but it passed the morning.
I ironed a couple of shirts whilst watching a camping special “Four In A Bed” in which four camping and caravan sites were up against each other. As always the show made for good viewing, but they never compare like with like. In today’s show one titled couple were operating a glamping site in the garden of their castle whilst another couple were running a budget campsite on a wasteland in order to raise enough money for a full set of teeth.
Seeing a break in the rain we quickly took the dogs round the block, then once home had a cuppa. I was rather amazed when Fudge stole my biccie. I would expect it from the other dogs, but not from Fudge. I did more work on my Atlas, then got a message from "My Boy TM". He has started watching “Bridgerton” on Lacey’s recommendation. My granddaughter has seen the lot… I was shocked. But then when I was her age I can remember me and a mate trying to snaffle his gran’s movie projector so we could watch “Gymslip Rampage”; a rather dubious film that we’d got from an iffy shop in Hastings Old Town. Thinking back I can remember we got caught trying to snaffle the movie projector. We never did see Gymslip Rampage”. I wonder what happened to it?
"er indoors TM" boiled up bangers and mash. They were rather good. As we scoffed them we watched the James Bond film “Spectre”. We’d tried watching it some time ago but the sound quality on the DVD (or whatever it was) had been rather dodgy and we’d had to give up about half-way through. Tonight we watched it (having recorded it over Christmas) and… I think last time we’d seen the best bit. Like all the James Bond films it started well, but lacking very much of a plot, it just dragged on and on and ended up being perhaps an hour too long. Such a disappointment – I’d been looking forward to it for some time…
Today was *so* dull… Usually on dull days I’ve had a full working day in the middle to give me something to do, but terrible weather and lockdowns put the kibosh on doing anything today. It is as well that I’m a “key worker” (I *hate* that phrase) – I would go stir crazy if I was cooped up at home much longer.
17 January 2021 (Sunday) -Before the Night Shift
I slept well, finally getting up shortly after nine o’clock. Mind you I did feel rather rough when I got up. Fudge was keen to go out to the garden so we came downstairs and whilst Fudge and Sid went up the garden I cleared up all the turds from the kitchen, There were several today.
I made toast and got the lap-top going. I had a message (via Facebook) from Anggi Auzy who had said “dating site naughty whore” and had given a website address which presumably would take me to a dating site and/or a naughty whore. I thought better of clicking on that link. I’d had a similar message on Friday from someone else who is still going on Facebook. I saw a friend was telling the world that he too had received a dubious message through Facebook this morning. However he’d made the error of telling the world the message in its entirety. Unfortunately the Facebook bots will pick up on his posting and will brand him to be the pornmonger.
I had a message (via the geocaching website) from a friend who had said “The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has already gone far indeed with our neighbour”. There was then a link supposedly to geocaching messenger which was actually to some other web site. I posted a warning to the local geocaching Facebook page, and it would seem that several people’s geo-accounts have been hacked. You have to ask why… what can anyone steal from a geocaching account that is worth having?
I then gathered turds from the garden. There weren’t as many as usual.
Bearing in mind pretty much everywhere that we might walk the dogs would be a swamp (after yesterday’s rain) we took them round the park, but made the schoolboy error of going after ten o’clock. The place was absolutely heaving. There were other dog walkers who were quite obviously out for their one walk of the week. There were small children on bikes and scooters not looking where they were going. There were small children on bikes and scooters constantly falling off because their parents demanded they went at walking pace. There were endless people blundering around seemingly oblivious to the hundreds of people around them. And through this were all sorts of people running and cycling and determined not to let anyone slow them down.
And to completely boil my piss, Pogo decided to go completely rogue.
Never go to the park after ten o’clock in the morning…
We came home; I went to bed and slept for five hours. That’s more than I usually sleep in the afternoon. And having felt grim when I woke this morning and when I went to bed at mid day, I still didn’t feel right when I got up the second time.
Perhaps I am sickening for something?
I’m off to the night shift soon… life is so dull right now… It comes to something when gathering turds is the highlight of the day,
18 January 2021 (Monday) - After the Night Shift
The night shift was much as most night shifts are these days. When I first started doing night duties as a blood tester (in August 1985) things were very different. Weekend and night work was paid as overtime. We would work a standard nine-to-five shift from Monday to Friday and then all go home. One of us would (on a rota system) be available each night and each weekend, and we would then be called in from home when required. And we would then work a standard nine-to-five shift afterwards. (At the weekends people would be on duty for forty-eight hours without a break. And then work the nine-to-five shift on the Monday too. We would regularly be on duty for up to seventy hours every week). But the workload was so much easier back then. Being called in more than four times (i.e. for four patients) between five o'clock in the afternoon and nine o'clock the following morning was considered to be busy. More than sixteen call-outs during a weekend (forty-eight hours) was seen to be excessive.
As the workload grew, travelling to and from home became impractical. We were given a room in the hospital accommodation where we would sleep between calls. And after an amazing concession from management we were allowed to go home one hour early for each time we were called out of bed after midnight.
But since the halcyon days of yore the workload has escalated exponentially (and the pandemic hasn't helped). Far from being called in for a named patient, doing our bit (as overtime) and going home again, these days our night and weekend work is done as standard shifts, and the workload is constant. Last night was actually a quiet one by today’s standards, but I had blood samples from over fifty different patients and I produced just under a thousand different individual blood test results.
How times have changed.
Shortly before three o'clock this morning I had whatever it is you call the meal that you eat at three o'clock. As I scoffed I looked at the Facebook app on my phone. Some complete f...wit was posting to one of the Ashford chat sites about how COVID-19 and face masks are a hoax, and how he wished that people wouldn't go along with what he saw as a conspiracy. Other half-wits were posting anti-vaccination propaganda which was simply wrong. I considered posting about how my night was going but thought better of it. As Mark Twain once remarked, "Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience".
Amazingly someone I've known for over thirty years was also posting how he wouldn't have the COVID-19 vaccine when he will be offered it. I asked him why. He said he didn't want it because he "couldn't wrap his head around it" but said that he wasn't surprised that I'd had the vaccine because I understand that sort of thing. I did think of pointing out the incongruity that he has no problem smoking dodgy stuff that even dodgier people pass to him under pub tables but he won't take a reputably produced and licenced medical product, but thought better of that too...
As always it was with a sense of relief that I greeted the early shift when she arrived, and once I’d scraped the ice off of my car I set off homewards down the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the frankly amazing effort that vaccination teams have been performing. On average the NHS is doing one hundred and fourteen vaccinations every minute right now, but still people were looking to find fault.
Once home I took the dogs round the road for a quick outing. We didn’t go very far, but they were *far* better behaved than they had been yesterday. Their behaviour is much worse whenever "er indoors TM" comes along. I have this theory that Pogo is trying to protect her, and his heightened excitement winds the others up. Whilst his intentions are all very admirable, it does make him (and consequently all three dogs) something of a pain in the glass.
With dogs walked I then took Fudge to the vet. He walked very happily as far as Bond Road as he knows I often park the car there, but as we walked past Bond Road so he stopped and dug his heels in. He flatly refused to go any further down the road as he knows the only reason we go that way is to go to the vet. In the end I had to carry him as he would not walk.
We got to the vet’s; I popped him on the scales. He was nine point two kilogrammes. He was trembling n terror when we got called in. But it was good news. His kidney infection has cleared up, and the weight loss is probably due to a lack of appetite caused by the antibiotics which stop tomorrow.
He’s booked in for a blood pressure test next week.
I went to bed for a few hours, and woke in time to spend the afternoon slobbed out in front of the telly watching “Four in a Bed”. Today’s contestants featured two rather good places offering rooms, a rather posh spa and a rather downmarket place in Blackpool catering for the budget end of the market. I quite liked the place in Blackpool, but as the show went on I took a serious dislike to the woman who ran the place. She had a major chip on her shoulder, admitting to a resentment to anyone who lived south of Birmingham.
One of the other places featured was a pub offering accommodation which was just down the road in Rye. "er indoors TM" has been there a few times. The place looked rather nice, but I wonder… the show was rather misleading in that in the “Rye episode” it featured several places in East Sussex which are all many miles apart but would have had us believe they were all local to Rye.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a documentary about the making of the “Mr Bean” programs. Can you believe that the first one was made over thirty years ago?
19 January 2021 (Tuesday) - Technology
I was fast asleep when "er indoors TM"
and the dogs came to bed at two o’clock. They all of them stomped about
trying to get comfortable, then they did it all again when Treacle kicked off
because she wasn’t happy with the bit of bed she’d been allocated. Eventually
they all settled and were all snoring whilst I lay awake listening to them.
They replied “Our policies offer a very high level and quality of cover. They also come with unique features such as zero excess, money back if you don't claim, £15k vet fee cover per year. This means we won't always be the cheapest I'm afraid!”
These companies are a shambles. They claim to be both the cheapest and not the cheapest. How does that work? I did snigger when several other people replied to my comment saying that they too had got better pet insurance cheaper elsewhere.
A couple of days ago I had a message (through Facebook) from Anggi Auzy who had said “Dating site, naughty whore” and had given me a link to what was presumably a rather dubious website. This morning I had the same “Dating site, naughty whore” message from Maryam Wheeler who also followed up with a link to what was also presumably a rather dubious website. I also had a message from Starla who said “I need an s3x partner in my room. Looking for a man who can satisfy me”. She too had sent a link that I didn’t want to click.
Facebook is a wonderful resource – using it I keep in touch with friends I haven’t seen for years, with friends who live all over the world, but it is far from perfect. You would think they would do something to get rid of the pornmongers, wouldn’t you? And they don’t help themselves by giving out formal warnings to people who report the pornmongers.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program. It would seem that in much the same way that the general public are completely unaware of the reasoning behind wearing face coverings, they are also blissfully unaware of how vaccination works too. It would seem that many people see the jab as being their way out of lockdown, and once jabbed feel that all the lockdown rules and regulations don't apply to them any more, and so are free to go about potentially spreading the virus to the susceptible whilst now being immune to the thing themselves.
And it would seem that science has discovered the biggest dinosaur ever.
I got to work and sent the night shift home. They were glad to go. I had a surprisingly busy day, but was given the opportunity to tune in to a webinar on haemoglobinopathies. That’s not something you get every day, is it? (!)
Being on the early shift meant I got out early (dur!), and once home I had a little ponder. We’ve had our new broadband for a few weeks… is it actually any better than what went before? I went on a little webspeed checker site and saw that my download speed is averaging at sixty-seven (and a bit) Mbps (whatever they are) and I am uploading at nearly nineteen Mbps. I’m quite impressed with that, even though I have no idea whether or not I should be.
We scoffed a particularly good bit of dinner then spent a little while Zoom-ing at Karl and Tracey. It has been over a month since we last met up – we spent two hours Zoom-chatting this evening. It was so good to catch up. We shall do it again – soon!!
Zoom – webinars - Facebook – we take the technology for granted. It really is wonderful stuff though, isn’t it?
20 January 2021 (Wednesday) - He's Gone
I slept well, waking just before the alarm was due to go off. Leaving Sid asleep I got a bowl of granola and devoured it whilst watching another episode of “The Office” whilst my COVID-19 test incubated. It was negative, as I rather thought it might be. Having had the first jab it would be unlikely to be positive, but you never know. By rights I should have had the second jab yesterday but it has been put off for a couple of months on the whim of some politician or other.
I sparked up my lap-top and sent out birthday wishes to today’s birthday boys, then rolled my eyes as I opened Facebook. A little while ago they gave me a formal warning when I told them that I was being spammed on their site by a pornmonger. This morning I was greeted with adverts for ladies of dubious morals which were appearing as sponsored adverts. I reported it to the Facebook Feds, but I doubt they would do anything.
There were several people posting “goodbye and good riddance” messages on-line about Donald Trump as Joe Biden was sworn in as the new President of the USA. I have six hundred and something people on my Facebook Friends list. Of them, four live in America. They rarely mention Trump. But I get so wound up by the UK residents who have been so aggressively anti-Trump despite his having pretty much nothing to do with them at all. Personally I’m glad to see the back of Donald Trump. Not for whatever he might or might not have done, but because the bloke is a distraction. Look at what is going on in the UK at the moment… I say “UK” – look at what is going on within walking distance of my house. Due to the incompetence of our government we have lorries queuing and blocking the motorway because of the utterly unnecessary delays at the docks. We have French haulage firms refusing to bring goods to the UK because of the shambles at Dover. Look at the swarms of people in the park at the weekend - the lock-down rules change from day to day and the UK has the UK has the highest death rate in the world. We now only get the postman visiting once a week. Look at my bank balance – our household bills are going through the roof as the hidden costs of Brexit are coming to light…
And still people would rather rant about the Orange Irrelevance.
I set off west-wards towards Pembury through the dark. Going to work at Maidstone is easy – I just go straight up the motorway. Going to Pembury can be rather more problematical. The journey is only eight miles further, but takes about double the time as I am going along country lanes and (like today) finding many sets of traffic lights and road closures where people have gone far too fast and ended up embedded in hedges.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were mostly talking about the American presidential inauguration, but they did mention that quite a few musicians have got the hump. They all seem to think that they should be exempt from the laws that require British people to have visas in order to be allowed to travel to Europe. Ironically some of the of the most vocal complainants had also been very vocal in their support for Brexit and would now seem to be regretting having pissed on their chips.
I got to work where I had a rather good day. And with work done I came home. I do like working at Pembury, but I don’t like going there or coming home. A thirty-mile drive took an hour and a half, and that was on rather quiet roads.
"er indoors TM" is boiling up dinner. I shall scoff that, then have an early night. I always say that, but I really hope I do tonight. I’m on an early shift tomorrow which means I need to be leaving home shortly after six o’clock tomorrow morning…
21 January 2021 (Thursday) - Feeling Rough
The benefit of having had an early night was
more than wiped out by "er indoors TM" and the
dogs going up to visit the rats shortly before midnight. And having made
enough noise to wake the dead, Treacle then reprised the gist of the
performance by getting stuck in a carrier bag and then having a fight with it
at two o'clock.
There was a minor hiccup as I left home. I looked over the road to where I'd left my car to see it wasn't there. After a few moments I realised that it was the day before yesterday when I'd parked the car there; yesterday I'd parked it down the road.
We really do need to move to somewhere with off-street parking so I know where to find my car..
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were still talking about the new American president who is doing his level best to reverse all that Donald Trump did. Which is probably for the best.
There was also talk of the pandemic (as always), and how people might possibly be able to take overseas holidays this year. I hope we can - having paid out for a holiday which was put on hold last year I'm hoping to go to Grand Canaria in June. Interestingly Saga ( the over-fifties holiday company) have announced that anyone going on holiday with them has to have had the COVID-19 vaccine before travelling. The bleeding heart brigade are up in arms about this - apparently this goes against their right to choose not to have a vaccination. Personally I say stuff them. Everyone these days has rights, and no one has responsibilities. It is someone's right not to have a vaccination. It is *not* their right to go round spreading contamination like Typhoid Mary.
As I drove it was dark. Very dark. As I drove through Bethersden, High Halden, Biddenden, Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Pembury I saw all these places have has the LED street lights fitted. Each light vaguely illuminated a patch of ground maybe a yard or so in diameter, and left ninety-nine per cent of the local area in darkness. These LED street lights might save energy, but they certainly don't illuminate anything.
I made better time to Pembury than I did yesterday, and having a few minutes to spare I went in to Tesco at Pembury. I've said before that I go in there as it is the only supermarket on my journey. If there was any alternative I would stop going there; the staff today didn't actually say the words "f... off fatso", but you would have to go a long way before finding a more surly and unhelpful bunch of miseries.
I got to work just as it was getting light, and sent the night shift home. As is always the way, the chap on the night shift was very happy to go home.
As I did my bit my phone rang. It was the power company who still had no news about my non-functioning smart meter, but were adamant they would have an answer for me by Sunday. Again I told them there was no need for the endless paperwork; they just needed to replace the thing. But the woman with whom I spoke had her script to follow. She wanted me to go through the entire rigmarole of explaining the issue (yet again) with the smart meter department before anything practical might be considered. Oh well… they’ve got a couple of days to do something. I wonder if the smart meter people will be in touch by Sunday? Somehow I doubt it.
An early start made from an early finish (as it does). Having got to work as it was getting light, I got home as it was getting dark. I got home feeling particularly rough. I wonder if I am sickening for something. Probably nothing a good night’s sleep wouldn’t sort out. I sat in front of the telly for a bit feeling grim, and at half-past six I tuned in to the virtual geo-meet. It was good to catch up with a few friends, but it was no real substitute for a proper meet-up.
I think another early night might be a good idea..
22 January 2021 (Friday) - Another Early Shift
Treacle stomped about the bed quite a bit
last night, but compared to her previous antics she didn't disturb me much. I
was far more disturbed by a particularly vivid dream in which the Queen and
Prince Philip had somehow become my best mates and were encouraging me into
all sorts of breaches of lockdown law since if anyone challenged us, the
Queen could simply shout "Off with his head".
I put on an episode of "The Office", scoffed a bowl of granola and sorted tumble-dried undercrackers whilst I calmed down.
Pausing only briefly to scrape the ice from my car (there was a lot to scrape today) I was soon on my way west-wards to Pembury. Today was far colder than yesterday - I managed to skid on the icy road once. Not much of a skid really, but enough to make me sit up and take notice.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the United Kingdom has wasted no time at all in picking a fight with the European Union. The UK is refusing to grant full ambassadorial status to the ambassador from the EU. The Foreign Office is taking the line that he is not an ambassador of a foreign country; he is the representative of an international organisation. It is a shame that the United Kingdom is the only country in the world to take this stance, but there it is.
Arguably in a tit-for-tat way, Germany has asked permission from Argentina (*not* the UK) for one of its ships to dock at Port Stanley and for two of its planes to fly over the Falkland Islands, thereby recognising the Falklands as Argentinian and not British.
We all knew that this sort of thing would happen. Didn't we?
I got to work. Yesterday's early shift was rather easy; today's not so. I'd identified a new anti-Kp(a) before the day staff came in (something which exceeded the expectations of even my most staunch supporters) and went on to find Dohle bodies at lunch time.
But on the plus side we had cake.
I did that which I couldn’t avoid, and came home via the petrol station. The price of that stuff has gone up recently(!)
Once home I wrote up a little CPD, then "er indoors TM" got KFC and we watched a few episodes of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” which aired on Amazon Prime today. It’s a cartoon show. I watched it fully expecting to hate it; we watched four episodes. It wasn’t bad at all. Probably the best Star Trek show to have been produced in the last twenty years. It’s streets ahead of Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. Which is such a shame for the franchise…
23 January 2021 (Saturday) - A Locked Down Saturday
I slept like a log last night, finally emerging from my pit at half past eight. Four hours later than the last couple of days. I came downstairs to find that "er indoors TM" had dealt with Sid’s turding, which was something of a result for me. Less so for "er indoors TM".
I made toast and peered into the Internet. A few days ago a friend had messaged me about creating a Munzee garden in Kennington. I immediately suggested doing it in the co-op field for selfish reasons purely because that would suit me better. The wheels were put in motion, and overnight quite the Munzee garden had sprung up in the co-op field. I managed to get first to Munz on one whilst sitting in my living room.
As I pootled on-line the power company sent me a text message. Was I happy with how they were dealing with my complaint? I told them I wasn’t. They asked why, so I told them that they hadn’t actually done anything. They thanked me for the replay and assured me that they would learn from this and would strive to do better. I wonder if they will.
Jose then sent me a link to a Lego bargain. Unfortunately it was a super-bargain which had sold overnight, but in his searching about he found another Lego bargain on Facebook marketplace just down the road from me which I drove out to collect.
As "er indoors TM" Zoom-ed at her mates I wrote up more CPD. Today was Dohle bodies and cytoplasmic blebbing. A dull task, but one day it might prove worthwhile.
We had hot cross buns and a cuppa, then took the dogs out.
Bearing in mind that woods and fields would be muddy, and also bearing in mind how busy the park was last weekend, I had a plan to drive down to Park Farm where we could walk a circular route along the hard-standing paths up to the bypass and back through the paths through the estate. What with lock-down we are allowed out for a dog walk, but you can’t be silly with it (well, we don’t but others do). I’d planned our walk with three geocaches along the way that I thought we might use as waypoints to guide us.
Our first geo-target had a rather good hint: “Located at the root of a tree next to a small stream beside the bridge”. We found the obvious tree, and there was a rather obvious little hidey-hole, but no cache. We were just about to give up when "er indoors TM" saw what we were looking for floating in the stream. I didn’t fall in whilst retrieving the cache, but it was close.
Our second geo-target hadn’t been found since October and had a couple of “did not find” comments on it, so we felt rather pleased with ourselves when we found it.
The third one we saw from ten yards away.
I had planned our walk to avoid the mud, but we still got muddy enough that the dogs needed a bath when we got home. And whilst we were at it, Sid got a bath too. He doesn’t go for long walks as they are too much for him, but he needed a bath. He had been getting whiffy recently. It has to be said he wasn’t keen it; so much so that he crapped in the bath.
Did I ever mention that I never wanted dogs?
We watched some episodes of “Four in a Bed” whilst I ironed shirts and "er indoors TM" boiled up dinner. We scoffed dinner wating another episode of “Star Trek; Lower Decks” then tuned in to what has become a weekly event – the family Zoom quiz. I didn’t come last… but it was close…
24 January 2021 (Sunday) - A Locked Down Sunday
Another good night’s sleep, finally waking when "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" phoned shortly after nine o’clock. I got up and made some toast to scoff whilst peering into the Internet. It was much the same as it ever was.
I downloaded bank statements, and saw that my credit card statement was also available. For years the bank would send me a credit card statement on the same day of every month. Nowadays it is randomly generated some time toward the end of the month, and as you can imagine it is rather difficult to organise finances when you have no idea when the credit card statement is coming. I thought I might see if I could talk to the bank about this and had an attempt at an on-line chat with the bank.
I eventually got connected to Rhodora who asked for a few minutes to pull up my account details. Now I don’t work in banking so I don’t know, but how long does it take to pull up account details? It actually took her eight minutes to do this, but it seemed an absolute age as I was waiting. Rhodora gave me a list of dates on which statements will be produced this year, which is what I wanted. It was only a shame that the bank couldn’t have done this years ago (like I have asked them many times).
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" came to visit. Whilst she shouted at "er indoors TM" I took Fudge out for a walk. We walked out to Hythe Road and back via a geocache I’d hidden some years ago. I’d had a report that it had gone missing so I thought I’d have a little look-see. Sure enough it was gone.
We walked home through hail and sleet.
Once home I had a look at the household accounts. Whilst I am far better off than I was a few short years ago, I am still nowhere near as wealthy as I would like to be… or I might have been. The other day I Googled the job of an old school friend of mine. One of the boys who walked to school with me every day is now earning (about) ten times that which I am earning. Mind you one of the others with whom I walked to school is now in Sweden and another is a vicar, so I suppose I got off lightly.
I spent another hour working on my Atlas of Haematology updating the sections on beta thalassaemia and mitotic figures… mainly because there is nothing else to do during lockdown.
As I so often do these days I spent a couple of hours this afternoon engrossed in “Four in a Bed”. Today’s competition saw two bed and breakfasts, a pub with rooms, and a castle. The castle was an eye-opener. Bath Lodge Castle was supposedly run by a couple. The wife of the pair claimed to do all of the work whilst the husband said that his role was to engage in conversation with those guests who interested him (!) When their castle played hosts to the other contestants, this chap sat down to breakfast with the other contestants whilst the staff did all the work. This fellow was an odd chap; I’m sure he was putting on an act as he made a point of treating everyone else as though they were the shit on his shoe.
I looked this place up on Google reviews. Scoring rather badly (an average score of two point seven out of five), it seemed that most people judging the place had done so on its abysmal appearance on “Four in a Bed”. Hardly anyone had actually been to the place. So I had a look on TripAdvisor where they only accept reviews from people who’ve been there. There were far fewer reviews there, but those people who’ve been there would seem to score them lower than people who’ve only seen the place on the telly, with their guests only giving them an average score of one out of five.
If they weren’t charging over two hundred quid a night I’d be inclined to go have a look for myself.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching another episode of “Junior Bake Off”, then we tuned in to the Sunday night Zoom meet.
These locked down days are incredibly dull…
25 January 2021 (Monday) - A Locked Down Day Off
I slept for twelve hours last night – that was something of a result. I woke to find that "er indoors TM" Treacle and Pogo had already gone downstairs. Fudge was curled up on a blanket, and was out for the count. He didn’t stir when I fussed him. I put a load of washing into the washing machine to scrub, and as I made toast so he came downstairs and asked to go into the garden where he was sick. And having been sick he then snuggled up against me on the sofa shivering and generally feeling sorry for himself.
As I fretted about my dog I peered into the Internet. A friend had posted to the local geocaching Facebook pages asking people to keep an eye out for a dog which had been stolen. There was a link given about the theft. Apparently the police are involved, and there is CCTV footage of the dog being bundled into a van. Can’t the police track this van? Or won’t they? I don’t know, but I honestly am coming to the conclusion that the entire concept of a police force was an experiment that has now failed. I am in no way suggesting that armed vigilantes roam the streets, but if a few more decent people gave a few more slaps to a few more thugs…?
With little else happening on-line I did some more CPD whilst waiting for the washing machine to finish, and with washing eventually onto the clothes horse I quickly zoomed round the garden… and then slowed down as I slipped in the ice. Taking my time I gathered up three bowlfuls of frozen dog turds. It has to be said that it is far easier (and a lot less feral) gathering turds which are frozen rather than are “as God intended”.
With turds gathered I took Fudge to the vets for a blood pressure check. We arrived and put him on the scales. He’d lost more weight. The nurse then took him in to the consulting room. Some veterinary nurses let me in with him, others don’t. This one didn’t. I was rather disappointed – I had been hoping to get a photo of him being blood pressured. When Fudge has his blood pressure monitored, the pressure cuff goes on his tail.
We came home, collected Pogo and Treacle and went for a short walk. I had intended to walk out to Hythe Road and back past Asda like I walked with Fudge yesterday, but every pavement that was in shadow was covered in sheet ice. Having nearing been dragged arse over tit twice in two minutes (Pogo!) I cut the walk short and came home.
Bearing in mind that Limakshi from the power company had assured me that my broken smart meter would be fixed by yesterday I emailed her to see if there had been any developments. Needless to say she hasn’t replied.
I got the ironing board out and set about the laundry whilst watching some episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which today’s contestants were rather nice to each other. That made for a dull show.
The vet then phoned. Fudge’s blood pressure is borderline high. Possibly due to the stress of going to the vets, possibly not. Fudge is to have a whole day in dog hospital next week during which he will hopefully calm down so as to give a normal blood pressure reading (in which case all is relatively well) or he will calm down and still have high blood pressure (in which case we shall worry about it if it happens).
"er indoors TM" made a good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching episodes of “Junior Bake Off” and “Star Trek: Lower Decks”.
Today was a day’s holiday. I’ve got several days to take off work before the end of March. If I don’t use the leave, I lose the leave. But with the world in lock-down there’s not a lot to do…
26 January 2021 (Tuesday) - Another Locked Down Day Off
I slept well; another nine hours of kip. It was only a shame that I came downstairs to a sea of dog turds. Nice one Sid!
I made toast, and it got cold whilst I tried to quieten the dogs. One would bark for absolutely no reason whatsoever which would set the others off who join in for the simple reason that another dog is barking. And once all dogs are barking it is very difficult to break the barking cycle. As soon as one dog shuts up it instantly starts barking again because all the others are making a racket. And when quiet is finally re-established they are on tenterhooks for the next fifteen minutes poised to start yapping at the slightest provocation. I love each dog dearly… but together we have too many dogs.
I set off on my morning mission. A woman just round the road was selling a bargain load of Lego so I picked it up on the way to Tesco. Tesco was much the same as ever; I didn’t actually point and laugh, but it never fails to amaze me that the hired thugs who now guard the entrances to supermarkets have more personal protective equipment than those working where they actually need to wear the stuff. As I shopped I met someone with whom I used to work four years ago. Looking back I was never overly happy where I used to work and it would seem the place has gone from bad to worse. A new manager had driven several staff to extended periods of sick leave (with workplace induced extreme depression) and following a formal investigation the manager has been reinstated. Much the same happened when I used to work there. Because the place has a zero tolerance for bullying of staff, no allegations of bullying will be considered by senior management because they feel that simply having a no bullying policy means it can’t possibly happen.
I’m so glad to be out of that place.
I then drove down to Hastings to see mum and dad. Today was dad’s birthday; I took him a card and some special biscuits and gave him instructions to let me know if he wants anything in particular. I could have wasted money on something he would have put in the bin, but thought I’d rather get him something he wants.
Mum was as well as can be expected; she was out of bed and sitting up. But she was very drowsy. Morphine does that.
I stayed with them for an hour or so before coming home.
Once home I walked the dogs round the block. Pogo pulled and Fudge straggled. It comes to something when Treacle (the pain in the glass) is the best behaved dog. I then unpacked my Lego bargain. There were a couple of blue angled tiles which were just what I wanted to complete my Lego Renault, and there were a couple of police maxifigures. These alone warranted the cost of what I paid… and all else was a bonus.
My phone beeped – I had an email. “Sandra” wanted to be my chum on LinkedIn and was offering me a twenty quid bung for accepting her. I’ll be anyone’s mate for a cake. She’ll earn my undying devotion for twenty quid. On Facebook they beg friendship by offering pornography… does this mean you get a better class of spammer on LinkedIn? I was wondering if she would ever stump it up when she said she would have to give me an eligibility check, and then said she would pass me on to her project manager Ashley. Ashley then phoned me and gave me an eligibly check… I wasn’t eligible.
Oh well. I would only have squandered the money on Lego anyway…
Limakshi from the power company emailed me back. It turns out that the inability to read my smart meter was a known problem and asked me to submit my own readings. Unfortunately the power company’s website wanted readings for both electricity and gas… which rather defeats the object of having a smart meter, doesn’t it?
I’m going back to work tomorrow… these locked-down days aren’t good. I managed four days. How have people managed nearly a year of it?
27 January 2021 (Wednesday) - Back to Work
I slept well, but with an alarm set I did wake about three hours earlier than I did yesterday when no alarm was set. One advantage of getting up early is that Sid hasn’t had time to crap.
I sparked up Netflix and watched an episode of “Superstore”; an American version of “Trollied”, then sparked up the Internet. There was a lot of talk on the Facebook page dedicated to the old boys of my old secondary school. Today they were talking about the old senior PE teacher “Killer” Smith. He seemed to be coming in for a lot of hatred and vituperation this morning, but as I remember he was “just another teacher”, neither good nor bad. Reading that page always makes me think… I would say “brings back memories” but I clearly remember the place very differently to how everyone else does. The teachers who are viewed with love and affection are ones I remember with indifference at best, and the ones who are generally hated are (for me) just names from forty years ago.
There was also a row kicking off on one of the local geocaching Facebook pages. Despite everyone supposed to be staying at home except for certain prescribed exceptions, someone in Sussex has driven twenty miles to go find a geocache to keep a daily streak of finds going. The implication is that since a streak (find one every day without a break) was involved, driving twenty miles would be a daily event for this person.
Obviously this is against all the lockdown rules, and a squabble kicked off about what if they had a valid reason to be out. This person didn’t, but what bothers me is that people are playing a GPS location-based game in which they leave a permanent record of their (frankly illegal) movements. These people are allowed to vote, you know.
I got myself ready for work. In the time it had taken me to get dressed, Sid had got up, crapped all over the kitchen floor, and gone back to bed. He was unceremoniously frogmarched into the garden (much to his disgust) where he tiddled. He's house-trained for tiddle... just not for poop - he can't help it, bless him.
I set off to work on a rather foggy morning. As I drove I listened to the radio. Not having heard any news since Friday I was wondering what I'd missed. It would seem I'd missed nothing. The pundits on the radio had nothing to say but utterly unfounded speculation on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When will lock-down be relaxed? Who knows? The Poet Laureate was wheeled on; he dribbled a rather pretentious poem about trees and birds which was supposed (in some way) to commemorate everyone who has died in the pandemic.
I got to work, and made a point of blanking the security guard at the door. I suppose I am being unfair to the chap, but surely it is a sad state of affairs when a hospital has someone hired to guard the place?
And my piss boiled even further when I looked up the word "mesothelioma". "Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that is caused by inhaled asbestos fibres and forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Symptoms can include shortness of breath and chest pain." You can read about it on Wikipedia. I couldn't remember much about it so I typed it in to Google. Go on - type "mesothelioma" into Google. The first term I got was from an ambulance-chasing website offering "Specialist Legal Service Team Available. Contact Our Legal Experts For Free Advice. Experts For Over 85 Years. Legal Representation From No Win No Fee Solicitors. Personal Injury Experts. Enquire Online. No Win No Fee. 85+ Years Experience. Free To Call." I hate these ambulance-chasers. Ow would they like it if their loved ones were left to die because no was was brave enough to treat them for fear of litigation?
I did my bit at work, and being at work meant the time didn’t drag like it has done at home recently. As I left work to come home there was some strange chap in a hi-vis jacket standing in one of the hospital corridors telling everyone that it was foggy outside and kept repeating “be seen!”
I wonder what that was all about?
I think my car headlights did the job as I drove home…
28 January 2021 (Thursday) - Late Shift
With no alarm set I woke about three hours later than I did yesterday; but fortunately I was still up before Sid, who hadn’t yet done his signature move on the kitchen lino. With no turds to gather I chivvied him into the garden.
I made myself some toast and scoffed it with Treacle watching me like a hawk. Periodically she would have a little tantrum because I wasn’t sharing it. Treacle really does have little tantrums much like a toddler does.
I sparked up the lap-top and had my morning rummage round Facebook. Apparently sexy Asian women in Ashford are looking for men over thirty-five. No specific reason was given but the implication was for a nudey-sauce-romp. They needn’t look at me. Other than that, Facebook was fairly peaceful this morning.
And with no emails at all, I got the dogs onto their leads and took them out.
We had a little walk up to what used to be B&Q, and followed the river round and back home. What used to be B&Q has now been entirely demolished to make space for more houses. I rather expected that it might have been demolished over twenty years ago when the international railway station was built, but for twenty years the place has effectively been wasteland. As we walked I got a photo of the dogs. I try for one of those most times when we go out. It has to be said that it was far easier to stop them wandering off today when they were on their leads. I got a photo in less than a minute – a fraction of the time it usually takes.
I came home to find “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” in residence. She made a cuppa, ran round the house shrieking, then went off to visit her mate. I wrote up some more CPD, then set off in the general (ish) direction of work.
I went via Sainsburys. I had orders to get some Katsu curry sause. Have you ever had it? It’s good stuff!! Mind you, Sainsburys was hard work. The normal people were out in force. One chap was intently staring at his phone whilst listening to God-knows-what on his headphones as he blundered round the store, crashing into all the other people who weren’t looking where they were going. Others were randomly jabbering away to the voices in their heads, but the one who wound me up was the one in front of me in the queue for the checkout. As the nice lady on the till scanned each of her items, this one reacted in total surprise as though she had never seen that item before. With the entire lot eventually scanned, she then told whoever was listening (no-one actually was) about how much she loves her shopping, and then spent five minutes searching in her purse to find the scrap on paper on which she had written the PIN for her credit card.
I suppose she could have gone slower if she’d tried.
As I drove to work there was a minor bit of excitement as the traffic was held up by a lorry which had spilled its load; its load being a caravan.
After this, the rest of the day was rather dull… but still streets ahead of being locked down.
29 January 2021 (Friday) - Another Late Shift
I slept like a log last night, finally woken by a rather vivid dream of lightning in the bedroom… “er indoors TM” was taking photographs of sleeping dogs.
Over brekkie I peered into the Internet as I do, wondering if I had missed much overnight. I rarely ever do, but one day there will be something monumental that happened whilst I slept. It wasn’t last night.
Firefox (the internet browser) had updated itself and despite its proud boasts was exactly the same as it had ever been. As was the Internet. There was pretty much nothing of note on Facebook, but for some reason there was another glut of “Thank You NHS” posts. I wish people wouldn’t post these twee memes. You don’t thank a bus driver for not crashing, do you. If people *really* want to thank the NHS why do they not write to their MP? People might suggest that the pay of the average NHS worker be such that after six years of formal study they don’t get far less than a train driver who has done three months training?
I had a message from the Hop Fuzz brewery inviting me to their on-line beer tasing event. The idea is that you sign up to the event, they send you the beers and samples of some of the ingredients, and you then join in their Zoom meeting in a couple of weeks’ time. You can see the details here. I was all for it until I saw the price. Thirty quid!!! For three pints!!! I told them that was a bit steep.
And Netflix told me they are putting their prices up too. They can go whistle; I will get Netflix free with my Sky-Q box… whenever coronageddon allows the thing to be installed.
I took the dogs for a little walk round the block. I did consider the woods or the park but there had been heavy rain overnight and they would have been rather muddy. I suppose had I been thinking we could have walked at Great Chart, but I wasn’t thinking. We walked up the road and followed the river home just like we did yesterday.
I came home to a message from the Hop Fuzz Brewery. I think I’d upset them when I’d commented on the advert that they had put on my Facebook feed. They pointed out that the bottles of beer weren’t pint bottles, they were 500ml bottles, and they whinged on about the cost of packaging, cost of pint glasses, cost of Zoom accounts, blah blah blah. So for reasons of accuracy I feel I should correct what I ranted a few lines ago. Thirty quid!!! For just over two and a half pints!!! Mind you this got me thinking… in years gone by next weekend would be one of the highlights of the year – Dover Beer Festival at which we would scale heights of drunkenness which would make your hair curl (if you had any). I wonder if we could stage an on-line beer festival. It would be easy enough to come up with a few ales available in any supermarket. I wonder if there would be any interest?
Rain had not been forecast for today, so I was rather disappointed to be walking through a monsoon to get to my car. I drove out to Argos to collect some shelving; I have a little project in mind for the weekend.
I then headed west. As I drove to Tunbridge Wells the pundits on the radio were interviewing the head honcho at Netflix. The chap was rather interesting - apparently he had tried to go into partnership with the people who ran Blockbuster Video when he first started. They didn't want to know. Who's laughing now?
The chap was saying he has a very relaxed attitude to running Netflix; take staff leave for example. Staff don't have fixed amounts of annual leave like most workplaces; they just take off as must as they want or need. Personally if I had that sort of arrangement I would take the piss, but that is just me. isn't it?
I stopped off at the Tesco in Pembury to get a sandwich for lunch. As I tried to go into the place I couldn't help but see some old biddy at one of the now ubiquitous hand sanitising stations that are everywhere. This woman has put a good dollop of hand sanitising gel onto her woollen gloves and was wondering why she was just getting into a mess.
I didn't actually point and laugh. I know that the buzzword of the day is "be kind" but some people do make it difficult…
30 January (Saturday) - New Shelves, Bingo Night
I had another good night, waking five hours later than I usually do when I have an alarm set. Bearing in mind yesterday’s weather forecast failure I was hoping today’s would have been wrong too. A day which had been forecast to be sunny was rather wet yesterday. But today’s forecast for heavy rain turned out to be correct.
I made toast and had a quick look at the Internet. I sent out some birthday wishes and then had a look-see at what was happening. Someone on one of the (relatively) local geocaching Facebook pages was asking for some help. She has a series of caches in the Chichester area which need a little maintenance. Could anyone help as Chichester isn’t that local to her. There are those who say that if she can’t maintain them then she shouldn’t put them out. But those who say that are those who don’t actually put any geocaches out themselves at all. It’s a rant I’ve done to death… I expect I will do it once or twice more before giving up.
There was also an advert on Facebook from my local dentist featuring a grinning bimbo; the implication of the advert being that if you spent a small fortune on their teeth-whitening procedure you would have a far better chance of “doing the dirty deed” with that grinning bimbo. I wasn’t falling for that.
It was at this point that “er indoors TM” started ranting. A couple of days ago Treacle had run off with one of her slippers. She’d just found that slipper whilst taking Sid out for what dogs go out to do. The slipper was on the lawn, in the rain and in the mud.
I quickly popped round to B&Q to get some plastic boxes; six larger ones and four smaller ones. The chap on the till only charged me for one of the larger ones. That saved eight quid.
I then came home and went up to the attic room. Over the last year or so I’ve been accumulating Lego and popping it either under the table I’ve got my Lego town on, or in a rather precarious stack. I had this plan to put up some shelves, and sort the Lego into boxes and put them on the shelves. That way I wouldn’t get backache rummaging under the table, and I could find out what I’ve actually got. I got the shelves up easily enough, then spent five hours sorting Lego. I had various categories into which I was sorting the Lego; basic bricks by colour, flat pieces, roof pieces, wheels, minifigs, maxifigs, trees and plants, and “assorted crap”. I made good progress I found all sorts of things I’d forgotten that I had. Unfortunately after five hours of sorting there was more in the “assorted crap” pile than in all the others put together. Realising that I will need to go through the “assorted crap” and sort it somewhat better I popped to B&Q for more boxes. Unfortunately this time the girl on the till was on the ball and charged me the right price. Ho hum.
As I started the car to come home I had a warning on the dashboard. ”Top up oil level”. I was gripped by panic. I have no idea what oil the car takes; let alone where it goes. Fortunately Halfords is just over the road from B&Q, and for a fiver the nice man put the oil in for me. When I opened the bonnet (I can do that!) I found four possible places where oil might have gone. It was as well that the nice man from Halfords knew which of the possibilities was for oil and which was the screen wash and which was the power steering. Whilst he was at it, the nice man checked the car’s battery, all the lights and the windscreen wipers too, and gave them all the thumbs-up That was a fiver well spent!
I came home to a friend request on Facebook. “Olamilakan Oluwaseyi (goddessmary)” wanted to be friends with me. she said that she was “seeking for a loyal submissive orsissy to be dominate and owned by her. Fully” I did wonder what an “orsissy” was, but I didn’t really like to ask.
We had a rather good bit of dinner, then (eventually) tuned in to the family Zoom meeting. Tonight we had three rounds of bingo. Having each popped a tenner into the kitty it was all to play for… and was rather embarrassing in that out of the hundred quid in that kitty, “er indoors TM” and I won sixty of it. I’ve already spent my forty quid on more Lego.
We then had a family Zoom quiz – a quiz with a difference. “60 M in a H” is 60 minutes in an hour. “90 D in a RA” is 90 degrees in a right angle. However “8 T on an O” is *not* “8 tits on an organ”, much as my beloved daughter-in-law would have us believe.
I won the quiz too… Go me !!
31 January 2021 (Sunday) - Rather Dull
After a rather good evening yesterday I slept like a log last night, finally being forced out of the bed as Pogo and Fudge made themselves comfortable. Last night was originally supposed to have been a night shift for me, but a colleague had asked if he could do it. I was only too happy to let him.
I came downstairs to find a pile of turds on the foot of the stairs. It wasn’t Sid – his turds were on the lino. Judging by the size I suspect Treacle. It comes to something when you can match the turd to the dog.
With multiple dungs gathered I had a little look at Facebook – there wasn’t a lot going on, so whilst “er indoors TM” Zoomed at her mates I went back up to the attic room. Yesterday I sorted Lego and had created a huge box of what I could only describe as “assorted crap”. Today I went through the “assorted crap” and started taking out that which is worth having. I’ve got about a third of the box of “assorted crap” now sorted.
After a couple of hours “er indoors TM” stopped Zooming, so we took the dogs out for a walk. We thought we might try Hatch Park which is a public park in the Brabourne estate. We’d heard good things about the place… I wasn’t impressed. For me the top priority for somewhere to take dogs is that the dogs can be allowed to run off of the leads. But we arrived to see signs insisting that dogs be on leads, and every other dog in sight was on a lead. It wasn’t *that* muddy really, but there was deer dung as far as the eye could see, and Fudge reprised his trademark move of rolling in fox poo.
For all that it wasn’t *that* muddy it was very cold. I was glad to get home for a warming cuppa.
“er indoors TM” went off shopping at Dobbies; I stayed home and watched a load of episodes of “Four in a Bed”. I do like that show, but some of the contestants are a bit thick. Take some of today’s entries. Four bed and breakfast establishments…
The one that has you cook your own breakfast was more expensive than one that cooks it for you. And the one that doesn’t cook the brekkie tries to make out that not cooking brekkie is a feature and so warrants the extra price.
There were two B&Bs that were identical in every respect except cost; one was twice the price of the other, and the expensive place couldn’t work out why people preferred the cheaper one.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of chardonnay. The dinner was rather good, the chardonnay not so. As we scoffed we watched more “Junior Bake off” in which some rather talented kids made some rather good food.
I will probably regret the amount of amaretto that I poured down my neck…