1 November 2007 (Thursday) - A Day in the Life...

1 November 2007 (Thursday) - A Day in the Life...magnify

I’m feeling rather sick this morning. Probably due to Mars bar poisoning. In a victory for the “Bah Humbug” brigade, not a single “Genuine Trick or Treater” (as opposed to opportunistic criminal) came calling last night. I find that somewhat sad. Last year we only had two lots, only a single carol singer, and I can’t remember the last Guy Fawkes I saw on a street corner. I shall have to get the cubs on the case…..

Our wonderful police force continues its amazing work in formally cautioning someone for doing their job. A train ticket inspector is sacked and prosecuted for defending passengers from the drunken excesses of a thug. But that’s the transport police for you. When “My Boy TM” was assaulted by the security staff at Ashford International, they refused to do anything. Perhaps if the police were to do the job that the average bloke in the street expects of them (putting away the villains and defending the innocent), then the thug element wouldn’t be able to spoil “trick or treat”. And then it could be good fun for all like it is supposed to be.

Meanwhile, in the same way that you can’t discriminate against people because of race, colour of skin, age or crackpot religion, soon it will be illegal to discriminate on the basis of who the the discriminatee would rather have a nudey sauce romp with. For myself, I think such discrimination is wrong, and the propsed law is a good thing. But interestingly this would make the Bible an illegal publication, as it takes a moral stance on the matter. I would say a wrong moral stance, but what do I know?

It always amazes me that so-called Christians claim there’s nothing wrong with being gay. The bible is quite clear on the subject. Don’t these people agree with the basis of their religion? Or do they have no idea of the basic tenets of their religion? It's odd that people who disagree with their religion actually know more about it than do the religious....

 

2 November 2007 (Friday) - Brownian Motion

Brownian motion is all about things bouncing all over the place in a random way. Somewhat akin to the retards in Tesco’s this morning. All I wanted was doughnuts, an apple and a bag of crisps. But could I walk from the doughnuts to the fruit section to the crisps? Not without physically barging the retards out of the way. They were all aimlessly blundering about, seemingly with no idea where they were or what they were doing, but enjoying the scenery nonetheless.

There’s one thing that pisses me off every morning on the way to work. As I go up the hospital drive I can always see someone or other tottering towards the zebra crossing by the hospital entrance. So I slow down for them to cross. But these people never do cross the road. They stagger to the kerbside and then turn back and tootle off in another direction. They stop at the kerb to have a conversation with their mate. They step onto the road and pull out a mobile phone and start yakking on it. When I beep the hooter and wave them across the road, they stare blankly at me and wonder why I’ve stopped.

This afternoon my boss commented that he’d seen me at lunchtime “power-walking”. Power-walking?” I asked. He said I was striding down the hospital drive at a rate of knots. I’d actually had to park the car a couple of streets away this morning, and I was going to fetch it back. Apparently I was quite clearly storming my way through those who, whilst in their trances, were cluttering up the hospital drive. Am I alone in trying to get from A to B as quickly as possible?

 

3 November 2007 (Saturday) - Art - Pah !

3 November 2007 (Saturday) - Art - Pah !magnify

Some weeks ago we found out that “The Friends of Kings Wood” were organising a guided walk around the woods today. We turned up at the advertised time to find a scratty hand written note pinned to a notice board saying they’d decided to cancel it due to lack of interest. In all there were about a dozen people who’d turned up to be disappointed. As we were there anyway and the pubs didn’t open for an hour or so, we decided to have a troll around the woods. Apparently there’s “art work” in the woods.

Call me old fashioned, but to me, art is when I fart around with oil paints and canvas, I’m sorry, but a fence which has been named “Eleven Years” isn’t art. Neither is a hole in the ground. I ask you – some plank has been given a grant from some airy-fairy poncy arts funding bunch to dig a hole in the ground. It’s called “The Ring”, and as holes in the ground go, it’s not bad. But art? Hardly. There was a bit where the trees had been cut back to the outline of a B52 bomber. Why? And a log cabin. How is a log cabin artistic?

And so to the pub – the Halfway House in Challock does a good bit of scoff, and decent ale too. And four pints later it was back to Brian’s shed to sort the roof out. We’ll finish that tomorrow, eh….

 

4 November 2007 (Sunday) - Sheds and Beer

4 November 2007 (Sunday) - Sheds and Beermagnify

The phone rang early. Did I fancy a McBreakfast? Ten minutes later I was outside of a sausage & egg McMuffin. Once fed, after a quick detour to B&Q for screws, it was back to fixing the shed roof. And fix it we did, rubbish was taken to the tip, and the clearing of the garden started, ably assisted by a couple of pints of “Pumpking” - a seasonal offering from the Wychwood brewery. It has to be said I needed the couple of pints to calm my nerves – it was somewhat claustrophobic down the back of the shed. I had this “idiot enthusiasm” idea that it would be easy enough to get in there to fix the roof. I had no idea there was only eight inches of space. It looked bigger until I got in there….

Talking of a couple of pints, I’m getting a bit hacked off with “Beer in the Evening” – whilst it’s easy enough to comment on a pub they’ve got on their website, there’s lots of pubs that aren’t listed. I’ve recommended a dozen new pubs to them in the last few months and these pubs have never appeared on their website. I phoned them last week to ask if they’d got my recommendations, and I don’t think they had any idea what I was talking about. So, if you want a job done, do it yourself.

It still needs a little more work though. So far it’s only got the last three pubs I’ve visited on it. It will be a “work in progress” for a while. Especially as Claris Home Page 3.0 doesn’t accept any .jpgs taken on my phone. And Serif WebPlus 10 is doing my head in. If you want to save a file format that is absolutely unrecognisable, but have to export to a website (not forgetting to change the file name every time Grrrrr!) I suppose it’s good. At the moment I’m making do with Microsoft Word to make the website. It seems to work OK so far. I’ll need to dig out some photos of old booze ups….

 

5 November 2007 (Monday) - Burning Guy Fawkes (and others)

5 November 2007 (Monday) - Burning Guy Fawkes (and others)magnify

It’s traditional to burn effigies of Guy Fawkes tonight

Fifteen years ago the two turds pictured above abducted a toddler and cruelly murdered the child. They were released from prison in 2001 for their “good behaviour”. One of them now apparently has religion, and is getting married. His wife-to-be has no idea what she is marrying. Perhaps they’ve reformed, perhaps not. I don’t want to know.

I don't want to be part of a society where this could happen. I want to live in a society which has laws so that anyone guilty of what they did is executed. Publicly. Perhaps Bonfire Night might be a good night to do this?

 

6 November 2007 (Tuesday) - Cubs

6 November 2007 (Tuesday) - Cubsmagnify

We started cubs with a game of “British Ball Dog”. It’s somewhat akin to the traditional game of “British Bulldog”, but with more balls. Or so I am reliably informed.

From this rather physical pursuit we moved onto the project we are trying to do on endangered species. Each six has picked an endangered animal, has been asked to bring in pictures and articles on the particular animal, and tonight they made collages. Blue six (Blue six is to the 6th Ashford scout group what Slytherin House is to Hogwarts School of Magic) were working on the “Bungle Tiger” which apparently comes from animals(!) Green six (Hufflepuff – try hard, bless them) were working on “Panders”. Which are “cute and adorable”, but according to popular opinion not as “cute and adorable” as” Yours Truly”. Having announced that I was cuter and more adorable than a “Pander”, to my amazement, thirty five out of thirty six cubs agreed with me. Red six were “doing Grillers”. I left them to it, and I’m afraid my nerves weren’t up to brown six’s “Bar Nowls”, white six’s “Rivvur dofins” or yellow Six’s “somefing abowt lyuns”.

At one point I developed wind and let rip. As is my custom on these occasions, I looked around quickly and asked loudly “Did you see that duck?” One of our young leaders announced that I used to ask about that duck when he was a cub five years ago. He then came over to me and quietly asked if I’d just farted. I grinned at him, and he then sheepishly admitted that as a cub he’d spent years trying to see that duck. He honestly thought “the duck“ was flying too fast for him to see.

I wonder how many others look for the duck. I didn’t realise I dropped so many in the scout hut….

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7 November 2007 (Wednesday) - News...

7 November 2007 (Wednesday) - News...magnify

Scientists in America have created “Supermouse”. Stronger, faster, pikey-er and randier than normal mice, it’s billed as a triumph by those who dabble in this sort of thing. One is left wondering exactly what it is a triumph of? I expect money can be made from this somehow.

The secretary-general of the United Nations is off to the Amazon jungles and Antarctica to see the ravages of climate change. Meanwhile the space shuttle “Discoverylanded today, having been up at the International Space Station for a couple of weeks. Nobody knew, nobody cared. Space isn’t news any more. Which is a shame, as yet another possible home for humanity is discovered. We might just need that planet in 55 Cancri before too much longer….

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8 November 2007 (Thursday) - Pubs

8 November 2007 (Thursday) - Pubsmagnify

There are possibly some of my loyal readership who didn’t realise that I’m a member of the Campaign for Real Ale. I joined six years ago at Canterbury Beer Festival, because I was told that by joining I was helping to support the idea of Canterbury Beer Festival. It’s an idea worth supporting. I also support other beer festivals too. I shall be supporting one next week (in the style of a rat!).

The local branch of CAMRA has a newsletter. The current one has a letter ranting about the closure of a pub some fifteen miles away. I suppose the author is right. If people don’t support local pubs, then they will close. So tonight I set off on a mission of “support

The Locomotive

A strange pub – whilst “My Boy TM plays for their pool team, I felt far too young to be there. I got definite vibes of “local pub for local people”, but I live fifty yards away from the place, and had no idea who the “locals” were. In twenty years of living locally, I’d never seen any of them. Also, being a free house in Kent, why choose a Shepherd Neame ale as your guest beer?

The South Eastern

Rebuilt (following the fire) in the style of a youth club, why were all of the three hand pumps pouring out Masterbrew?

The Riverside

We’d planned our route to save the best till last, and we did. But with four hand pumps, only one was working. Fortunately you can’t go wrong with a pint of Timmy Taylor’s “Landlord”, and so we had three of them.

But then, on reflection, “use it or lose it” is only a tenable argument if one can afford to “use it”. Whilst I would take great umbrage at anyone trying to deprive me of my booze-ups, at close on £20 a booze-up, it’s not something I can afford on a regular basis.

 

9 November 2007 (Friday) - Next Door....

I’ve never had much luck with neighbours. As a child I remember the old bat next door that we all hated. We moved house, and soon fell out with people on either side. During my “Folkestone” period, we met the neighbour once – when she asked us to babysit. One of the earliest memories of my brats as toddlers was them standing in the garden, singing at the tops of their voices “Neighbours, we hate the f@*!!**ng neighbours”. Following the solicitors letters with the bunch on one side of us, and the drunken Irishman, it came as a relief to have a couple move in next door who were half-way civil. Through the thin walls we could hear most of their antics. I remember vividly the morning when young William did a wee-wee in his potty rather than in his mummy’s bed.

Last week a lorry turned up at 7am and loaded all their possessions, and off they went without so much as a kiss goodbye. At 11am that morning I met someone coming out of next door – the owner of the house who’d been trying to evict them for months. This evening the debt collector called. Did I know why there were no lights on next door? Had they done a runner? Did I know where they’d moved to? To which I replied yes, yes, no. The debt collector wasn’t happy with the last response. He was sick of people like me keeping secret the locations of his debtors. I told him to try the council, as I believe they re-homed the people who were next door. “Debt collector” doesn’t like the council. They *won’t tell him where his debtors are either.

Let’s hope for better luck with the next lot……

 

10 November 2007 (Saturday) - Hoping for a Good Day....

Today is expected to be one of the highlights of the year, so we'll kick off with one of my party pieces….

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The plan is to spend the morning at work, then a couple of hours this afternoon emptying Brian's garden to the tip, and then off to Rye bonfire parade. Last year's blog entry for the event mentioned "we cheered the epic breasts of the girl in the skimpy red top", so here's hoping. My pink light sabre is ready, and I shall be first in the queue for pink flashing rabbit ears. And first in the queue at the bar too, according to the harsher (and more astute) of my critics.

See you in the Standard at 4.30pm. Or the Old Bell at 5pm. Or the chip shop at 5.30pm….

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11 November 2007 (Sunday) - Hangover, Remembrance, and a Hike

11 November 2007 (Sunday) - Hangover, Remembrance, and a Hikemagnify

I felt somewhat delicate this morning. I can’t think why this should be. It has been mentioned that the barrel of Hobgoblin at yesterday’s fourth pub may have a role in my being under the weather. There’s no denying that we did go at that barrel until there was none left, in fact on the last round we did empty it. I’ve also one or two bruises from being savaged by endless streams of toddlers brandishing light sabres. I must stop provoking the children. But, once again, Rye bonfire parade was excellent, enjoyed by the 20+ friends in our party, and I’m looking forward to next year’s.

This morning was the remembrance ceremony in town. There was a disappointing turnout of beavers, cubs and scouts, but those that were there behaved themselves and all went well.

Then, to blow some cobwebs away, this week’s walk was from Walderslade to Burham (and back again). With plenty of squirrels on the way, I had no idea the Medway Towns could be quite so picturesque. A Sunday roast dinner was scoffed at the “Robin Hood” in Burham –not somewhere you'll find by accident - it's up an obscure track off of an obscure country lane. It’s an ideal stopping off point on a hike for the walkers amongst us, and may well feature in future expeditions next summer. Talking of which – does any of my loyal readers fancy a day’s hike from Hastings to Rye next year?

 

12 November 2007 (Monday) - Autumn

12 November 2007 (Monday) - Autumnmagnify

Some twonk was quoting Keats on the radio. “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness” Mists & fruit? Since when has there been mist & fruit associated with Autumn? They come in the summer. Perhaps things were different when Keats wrote it in 1820….

It’s yet another stupid poem from some stupid (dead) poet that sounds impressive, but means nothing. He got rich by writing rubbish like that…

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13 November 2007 (Tuesday) -At Work

13 November 2007 (Tuesday) -At Workmagnify

Today we saw something out of the ordinary. Sleeping sickness! Caused by the blood borne parasite Trypanosoma brucei, it’s a nasty disease. But for us in the lab, it’s quite interesting, and makes a change from malaria.

 

 

14 November 2007 (Wednesday) - At The Optician

14 November 2007 (Wednesday) - At The Opticianmagnify

I got a letter last week from the optician telling me my eye examination was due – and it would only cost me £10. So I trotted up to town where they peered into my eyes, shone flashing lights at me, blew air in my eyes and finally announced that my prescription was pretty much unchanged from what it was last time. But the frames on my current specs are apparently down to the bare metal. That will give me allergic reactions, so I’d better get new ones (or so I’m told).

Well, I’ve had no allergic reactions so far, and if I do, a fine coat of clear varnish will seal the metal. The last set of specs I got cost over two hundred quid. I’m not spending out if I can get away with it.

And even though the letter said the eye examination would cost £10, they charged me £18.95. I should have taken the letter with me…..

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15 November 2007 (Thursday) - Life....

An odd day – having decided that I’ll give up on the idea of the astronomy club, it transpires that him who loves the sound of his own voice had a letter from one of the new members. Apparently this chap was well impressed with my talk. Perhaps I’ll give it another go.

Someone from America commented on one of my You-Tube videos. That was nice. I get quite a few comments on them these days. Mostly advertising porn websites, so I delete those with puritanical vigour.

And then to work.….. it always amazes me how hospitals have the power to rob people of the ability to read. Any hospital you care to visit is full of people walking in small circles, looking for out-patients or ward 4 or a toilet, utterly oblivious of the huge maps and signs every few yards. I took pity on a pair of obviously lost people today and asked where they needed to get to. It transpired they needed to get to the women’s giblets ward, and then they went into excruciatingly painful detail about the specific giblet malfunction which precipitated the need for surgery. It quite put me off my dinner….

 

16 November 2007 (Friday) - On The Beer

16 November 2007 (Friday) - On The Beermagnify

The day stared badly – I had a car full of paper to take for recycling. If only I could find where I’d left my car! After I’d searched all the local streets I eventually remembered where I’d left it. Once I’d unloaded and refuelled, it was off to Hastings - a favourite pub was having a beer festival. Having arrived we found (to my embarrassment) that the beer festival was an evening thing. Still, with four decent home brewed beers, who needs more? And, it transpired, one of the festival ales was a new one from the pub in question. And, because they know us, we got a pint of the new stuff. That place annoys me! – It’s not enough to have four quality beers I can’t choose between. Now they have five !.

Pausing only briefly to greet father, we made a brief detour to a very grim pub for a quick wazz. And then on to the White Rock Hotel, who not only had four decent local ales on the pumps, but also had some decent local beers in bottles. Including Russian Stout at 10% APV ! (hic) And so home, via the Riverside only to wake up in front of the PC some six hours later, wondering where the evening went…..

 

17 November 2007 (Saturday) - More Beer, Doctor Who, and Fit Barmaids

17 November 2007 (Saturday) - More Beer, Doctor Who, and Fit Barmaidsmagnify

In all the excitement and alcohol fuelled haze last night I missed the "Children in Need" TV spectacular. Which is probably for the best. Every so often the country goes mad on "charidee" and things seem to get out of hand. Visitors to the hospital this week were beset by a geriatric pink fairy that wouldn't let people in or out unless they put cash in the fairy's collecting bucket. It's a safe bet that a large number of people coming in or out of a hospital are having a traumatic time, with either serious illness befalling themselves or a close friend or relative. It's not fair to pester these people for money. Last year I lost count of the people who demanded cash from me for "Children in Need".

Following an afternoon shredding Brian's garden, the evening was earmarked for a "candle party". Those two of us that didn't fancy candles went for a pint. I had this idea that Wye was only six minutes away on the train, so we could do a crawl around Wye. However due to divine intervention (the train doors didn't open) we spent an hour at the Woolpack in Chilham. OK, it's a Shepherd Neame pub, but the ale's OK, and there was a seriously fit “fit bird TM” behind the bar. Must go back again soon. Well, I'd like to go back, but I have to wonder if it will be possible. Whilst the restaurant was reasonably full, the bar had no one in it but us. That's not "not many". That's "no one". We arrived at 9pm to an empty bar, and sat there for half an hour with just us two and the fit barmaid. After half an hour, a Dutch couple who were staying in the hotel joined us for a pint. I can't help but wonder how these places make their money….

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18 November 2007 (Sunday) - Doing Absolutely Nothing

18 November 2007 (Sunday) - Doing Absolutely Nothingmagnify

It’s a cold, rainy day in November. The day was wasted in front of the PC playing “Star Trek – Elite Force”. It’s at times like this I miss “NeverWinter Nights”. Perhaps a new PC might cure the problem – I’ve said that before…..

The "nice man" from the astronomy club phoned tonight and told me what he'd decided for the rest of the year. He means well, but he won't stop until he's killed the club stone dead.

 

19 November 2007 (Monday) - Epistaxis

19 November 2007 (Monday) - Epistaxismagnify

I woke up at five am this morning with a nose bleed. My face was clotted to the pillow. Charming!

I haven’t had a good nose bleed for ages. Nose bleeds are a family thing – from my father’s side. All my aunts and uncles had them, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had my nose cauterised in the ENT department of various hospitals. And both the brats suffer too. I remember once being asked to collect “My Boy TM” from primary school because he had a nose bleed. He looked like something from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. His shirt was red all over. The reason – the two idiot teachers looking after him kept alternately yanking his head forward and backward in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding.

As a child I had them all the time, and soon found that everyone has a cure for nose bleeds that doesn’t work. If you have a nose bleed, and see a first aider, don’t be polite – tell them to f*?! off. They will insist that you bite on lumps of wood, that you have cold keys stuck down your neck, that you tilt your head forwards, or tilt your head backwards. And pinching the nose. That’s a good one! If you are actually going to stop the flow of blood to the damaged vessels, you’ll have to crush the cartilage in the nose. Pinching the nose can’t possibly stop the nose bleed. But everyone who’s never had a nose bleed insists you do it. None of these suggestions make the nose bleed stop any faster than just sitting with a bit of bog roll held to your schnozz. None of them ! Not one!

So, dear readers, if you have a favourite cure for a nose bleed, please do me a favour. Forget your cure. It doesn’t work. Honestly – it doesn’t. All of my family will have had it forced on us several times. We’ve tried it – it failed! At best it’s no better than sitting quietly with a bit of bog roll held to your schnozz, and at worst it causes unnecessary suffering.

 

20 November 2007 (Tuesday) - Princess Prawn Cocktail and Dimwit

20 November 2007 (Tuesday) - Princess Prawn Cocktail and Dimwitmagnify

A regular yearly activity with the cubs is the plaster of Paris moulds. Some ten years ago “My Boy TM” used one to make his grandmother a calendar. The calendar’s well out of date, but still it hangs in my mother’s living room. And still making and painting the lumps of plaster remains popular.

A minor hiccup with two of the boy cubs tonight. “William” will no longer answer to his given name, preferring to be addressed as “Princess Prawn Cocktail”. And to make matters worse, he’s convinced his mate to only reply to the name of “Dimwit”. I’m sure there’s a rule somewhere that prevents me referring to a cub as “Dimwit”, but sometimes needs must.

One of the girl cubs suggested a game of “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” which passed a few minutes whilst the young leaders showed me the filth on their mobile phones. Shocking!

 

21 November 2007 (Wednesday) - More Cubs

21 November 2007 (Wednesday) - More Cubsmagnify

To the county scout headquarters for a meeting about the Eurodisney trip in January. Three years ago Kent Scouts took us (and a few other cubs) to Eurodisney for a weekend. In January we’re going back with cubs from twenty five other groups from all across Kent. That’s seven coachfuls, and the trip has a budget of £50 000. A shame that Eurodisney in January is below zero, and has snow, but in life you can’t have everything.

On a more local scouting level, we’ve had a letter of complaint. One of the more special cubs has been somewhat problematical, and wouldn’t be quiet. So, in a moment of helpfulness, “Big Jimmy Spanner” told him to “button it or get a knuckle sandwich”. I’m told that rewarding “Big Jimmy Spanner” with Seconder’s stripes would only aggravate the situation….

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22 November 2007 (Thursday) - chlostridium difficile

22 November 2007 (Thursday) - chlostridium difficilemagnify

There was an article on the radio this morning about the latest superbug to hit the hospitals. Apparently it’s new to science, science is baffled, it’s proved beyond doubt how crap the NHS is, and it’s called chlostridium difficile. It’s new? One lives and learns. I originally learned about it some twenty five years ago when it was apparently already well acquainted with science. Perhaps science forgot about it, or lost its address?

What the scaremongers fail to realise is that us humans aren’t immortal, and as soon as science cures one way of croaking, nature wheels on another. But then scaremongers are in the business of selling newspapers. And a good way to do that is to demonstrate how crap the NHS is, regardless of any so-called “facts”

Meanwhile – disaster. Beer consumption hits an all-time low. Much as I don’t like hearing that, I can’t say I’m surprised. At knocking three quid a pint, going for a crafty shandy or two don’t come cheap these days.

 

23 November 2007 (Friday) - The Washing Machine's Fixed

23 November 2007 (Friday) - The Washing Machine's Fixedmagnify

I came home tonight to a strange sound. It took me a while to work out what it was. The washing machine has returned from the grave! Contrary to popular opinion, usually I’m quite particular about to whom I allow access to my undercrackers. However with the washing machine having been “tits up” (for want of a better description) for this last month, I’ve been dependent on the generosity of my loyal readership to get my smalls recycled.

I’m reliably informed that the poor washing machine had a surge that blew it in three different ways. I should be so lucky! Apparently the tumble drier circuit is still squafty, but the nice fix-it lady will deal with it on Monday. I might take the afternoon off, and join the queue to be “dealt with”.

In other news….. well, to be honest, that’s it. There is no other news. My washing machine has been partially fixed. I must admit that as a child back in the 1970s, I had such high hopes for the brave new world that would be the twenty-first century, and the highlight of the week is getting my washing machine fixed. I’m not sure what I expected from the future, but I expected more excitement that this….

 

24 November 2007 (Saturday) - Live 07

24 November 2007 (Saturday) - Live 07magnify

Bang Bang – You’re dead

Fifty bullets in your head.

One is metal, so is two

All the rest are made of poo

Or so James told me on the coach to the Millennium Dome (or the 02 arena as it’s now known). The coach left at 8.45 to take us to what was billed as “a festival of Scouting, an extravaganza to celebrate the best of Scouting in 2007. It will be the perfect opportunity to reflect on our Scouting history, remember the fun times in 2007 and look towards the next 100 years and beyond.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Fifty-one of us set off early. Although the show didn’t start till 1.30pm, our instructions told us there were all sorts of stuff to see and do before the show, and that it was important to have had your dinner before going in as no personal luggage would be allowed because of the intense security at the arena.

Now I won’t say that we were lied to, but events certainly didn’t live up to expectations. The “loads of stuff to see and do” beforehand consisted of a few stiltwalkers to watch, and a brass band. There was an ice-skating rink if you were prepared to pay £7.50. We weren’t. We ate our lunch and then took our bags back to the coach so we could then go into the arena. I must admit there were loads of security people swarming around, but not one checked any of the bags that everyone else was carrying in. One security bod even asked us why we’d not got packed lunches. He went on to say that everyone else was eating their lunch in the arena whilst waiting for the show to start. We’d been told that all drinks containers would be opened and checked for alcohol (alcohol in an eight year old’s dalek water bottle!!) as the place was supposedly alcohol-free. In fact every refreshment stall was selling lager.

We settled into our seats for “an extravaganza to celebrate the best of Scouting”. The presenters (some fit birds off of Blue Peter & Newsround) came on and it soon became painfully apparent there was only one working microphone in the arena. There was lots of running about swapping microphones every few seconds from then on. A lot of the show relied on presentations on the large video screen. Unfortunately the sound system didn’t work at all. These presentations went ahead with picture only, with the audience chanting “Oggie Oggie Oggie” to pass the time. Despite all this, the show must go on, and go on it did. It had some highlights, but I could hardly describe it as a three hour extravaganza. Maybe an hour of good stuff with a lot of space fillers. We watched explorer scouts doing an obstacle course, we watched beaver scouts rapping, cub scouts doing parachute games, scouts having a cook off, a rather religious camp fire …. I was reminded of the annual displays that I used to do when I was a lad with the Boys Brigade. Although the participants had obviously worked long and hard to perfect their act, an awful lot of the acts were things which are fun to do, but dull to watch. At one point the cubs woke me to tell me that another of our leaders was also asleep. To be fair to the event, I’m told there was something with hovercrafts that was OK that was on whilst I was asleep.

It could have been a good show. But it went on far too long, and with the continual failures of the sound system it was a disappointment. In the past after a scouting event the coach home is alive with chatter about the events of the day. No one mentioned the show at all on the way back. I can only console myself that our journey home was only that of an hour or so. The scouts sitting next to me had come from Liverpool, had boarded their coaches at 4am, and didn’t expect to be home until 2am the next morning.

 

25 November 2007 (Sunday) - Sunday (!)

25 November 2007 (Sunday) - Sunday (!)magnify

With only so many shopping days till Christmas, there’s not a lot of free weekends. And before long, all the decent beer sells out. So today we had a trip to Biddenden Vineyard to get (amongst other stuff) a crate of “Blues”. From there it made sense to deliver the crate to my brother’s house (one less thing to lug about on the day). We went via Hawkhurst pond centre, where “My Boy TM” had a good goosing as pictured above. Well, “swanning” really, but he can’t tell the difference. In fact he maintains there isn’t a difference. Apparently a swan is a white goose. One lives and learns.

We also stopped off at the White Hart in Newenden for a spot of dinner. There are lots of places where you can get Sunday roast, and White Hart is a bit pricey, but they had “Level Best” and “Smiles” on the hand pump. Not many places have that. Then onto family to do the family thing, and home in time for tea…

 

26 November 2007 (Monday) - Seeing Stars

26 November 2007 (Monday) - Seeing Starsmagnify

I spent most of the day trying to decide whether or not to go to the astronomy club tonight. In the end I went.

There were seven of us. Over the last few months, attendance has fallen off dramatically. Over half the people along tonight were on their first or second meeting. We’ve lost many of the original members. The main cause for the piss-poor turnout assures me that this is how clubs work, people come and go. I’m also told that part of the reason for this might be that the club hasn’t gone the way it was intended to. Among other problems, there were supposed to be observing evenings which no one organised (!) Having hijacked the December topic for tonight’s presentation, it then announced that there won’t be a December meeting, and that we will re-launch the club in the New Year.

Oh dear, that all sounds very negative, doesn’t it? But I’m glad I went – if I’d missed tonight I would probably have knocked the whole idea on the head. But we got talking, and on the plus side, I must admit that I came out of the meeting a lot keener on the idea of the club than when I went in. It’s a good idea, we’ve got a cheap place to meet and there are some decent people there. It was decided tonight by an ad-hoc committee that we would (over the next few weeks) plan a series of talks for 2008. Whilst the tea was made by some of this ad-hoc committee, the rest of it finalised that series of talks for 2008. Time to dust off that talk on Mars, time to find out about Venus, and WTF is an “extra-solar planet”?

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27 November 2007 (Tuesday) - Cubs Leaders' Meeting

No cubs tonight – a leaders meeting instead. That didn’t stop half a dozen kids turning up with parents who swore blind no notes had been sent home.

Plans for the future include an evening at Pitch n Putt, which is always good for an injury. There’s a visit from the “Tree lady” and making bird boxes for the global constipation badge. On pancake night we will have a pancake scoffing contest and see how many “blow”. For the end of February, to celebrate the leap year we will have a “Frog night”, Welsh and Irish nights for Saint’s days, and April will be spent on the Air Activities badge. I’d like to take the cubs to a mosque (again), but I don’t know if there are any locally.

Well, that’s the theory. We’ll see how it turns out. Normally a plan for two weeks ends up spun out over two months…..

 

28 November 2007 (Wednesday) - Knights Templar

28 November 2007 (Wednesday) - Knights Templarmagnify

Today featured the works Xmas raffle. I won a very lame crystal healing set and a cheap bottle of Bucks Fizz (which I’m sure is a Spoonerism).

The evening featured a trip to the archaeology club where we had a “Bethersden Marble” class talk about the "Knights Templar". Apparently, formed by Pope Clarence XV, the Knights Templar were outlawed in some century or other because they prevented those who were off to the crusades in Jerusalem from getting mugged off pirates on the A2. I’m reliable informed it was all very interesting. I’m sure it was. I woke up in time to go down the pub afterwards…

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29 November 2007 (Thursday) - The Fit Bird Visited

If you weren’t expected at work until mid day, how would you spend your morning? I’m sure you wouldn’t be up and ironing before 7am, would you? I then spent some time on eBay. The idea was to see if anyone was flogging the archaeology club’s resistivity meter – some git nicked it! I ended up buying more Star Trek DVDs. I love eBay. A pair of Doc Marten shoes which are £55 in the shops was mine for £20. And then to work – whilst I like the late starts, I spend so much time looking for parking spaces. At the hospital when I arrive there, and then when I come home again.

The fit body-shop bird came to visit this evening. Woof! She delivered boxes of “women’s stuff”, and is currently trying to dragoon er indoors into flogging it. God only knows what any of this body-shop gear is. Exfoliator – isn’t that what the Americans used on the forests in Vietnam? Emery boards – expensive lollipop sticks? Being a woman would seem to be harder work that you’d first think.

 

30 November 2007 (Friday) - The World Today

The world’s gone mad.

A primary school teacher goes to jail because of the choice of name her class made for a teddy bear. And to add insult to injury, there’s calls for her execution

. Surely we've had enough of this rubbish. Send in the SAS to extract her from this foreign jail, and cut off all foreign aid to the country in question.

Radio Two gets letters of complaint about their playing "Donald, Where's Your Troosers" on St Andrews Day.

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Meanwhile The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has found dangerous chemicals in so-called traditional Chinese herbal medicines, including aristolochic acid which has been known to cause kidney failure and cancer. If you've got any Xiao Qin Long Wan , Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan , Bai Tou Weng Wan or Xie Gan Wan, I'd chuck it in the dustbin if I were you. I thought we'd all learned our lessons from the Bai-Lin tea scandal all those years ago...

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