1 December 2006 (Friday) - December will be magic (again)

1 December 2006 (Friday) - December will be magic (again)magnify

You can’t beat a good squall:

Take a husky to the ice

While Bing Crosby sings White Christmas.

He makes you feel nice.

December will be magic again.

Old Saint Nicholas up the chimney,

Just a-popping up in my memory.

Ooh, dropping down in my parachute,

The white city, she is so beautiful

Upon the black-soot icicled roofs,


December will be magic again.

Light the candle-lights

To conjure Mr. Wilde

Into the Silent Night.

Ooh, it's quiet inside,

Here in Oscar's mind.

December will be magic again.

Don't miss the brightest star.

Kiss under mistletoe.

I want to hear you laugh.

Don't let the mystery go now

One of my colleagues, a normal person at the age of twenty-one, was complaining that Christmas isn’t as much fun now she’s grown up. It might not be for her, but as I approach my forty-third Christmas, they just keep on getting better. Parties, pantos, cubs carol service, and this year I’m even going to be Santa.


02 December 2006 (Saturday) - Beam me up, Scotty

02 December 2006 (Saturday) - Beam me up, Scottymagnify

A rather dull day – work this morning was very dull and because it’s raining, so was the afternoon. So, I did as anyone would do in the rain and watched back-to-back Star Trek until tea time. A quick bit of scoff, then on line. I’ve found something that at first site looked quite promising - http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Portal:Main – the Star Trek Wikipedia, but in true Trekkie style I soon found some mistakes. I wonder how many more I can find…..

And in the meantime here’s a competition for my loyal readers. All the questions refer to the above picture with this blog entry.

1 Name the ship

2 What is its registry number?

3 In what episode do we first see this ship?

4 In what episode do we again see this ship?

5 What’s it doing in the picture?

6 Which baddies have captured it?



03 December 2006 (Sunday) - Peach on Earth and Percy Mild

This afternoon featured my annual trip to church with the all-Ashford cub’s annual carol service and Xmas bunfight. Despite what I can only describe as a piss-poor turnout (only five out of my thirty six cubs - and ten other groups equally poorly represented) we had a great time. The carols started with my cubs serenading the vicar with that well-loved yuletide favourite “Baldy Baldy Over There, What’s It Like To Have No Hair”, and we progressed through the whole gamut. “While Shepherds Washed Their Socks By Night”, “We Three Kings of Stanhope Square”, “Little Donkey (On The M25)” and “Away With The Mongrels” to name but a few. The song sheets were wonderful – half were only printed on one side, and those that were printed properly had some excellent typos. “Peach on Earth” was a classic, and some of the more obscure verses of “Once on Royal David’s Titty” had several lines missing. The reading was inaudible to even the people sitting next to the altar, but the vicar summed up the whole spirit of Christmas in his sermon.

He was bleating about advent, and having four candles which apparently signify the four most important aspects of the whole Christmas story. “Can you tell me what they are?” asked the vicar. Opinion was pretty much unanimous on the first two being Santa and presents. However we weren’t in such agreement on the third, contenders for this position being cake, chocolate, Boxing Day and play station. In order to help us out, the vicar gave us the hint that the answers for which we were searching are people in the bible. So we concluded the fourth one must be that well-loved character, “John the Shepherd”. I’m not sure how the sermon ended – we had a minor “potty emergency” and I spent the end of the sermon waiting for a small beaver scout (aptly named “Christian”) to finish wee-ing up the side of the church hall (as the toilets were locked). I came back to a rousing chorus of “la-la-la-BEFLEHEM !!!!!! BEFLEHEM !!!!!!”  and then it was off to the bunfight.

Our cubs and beavers were very well behaved. Whilst noisy they sat and ate their tea. As always it was the children from the outlying villages, the rich areas, that wouldn’t sit still, had table manners of animals and flung food around.

The afternoon ended with a magician. He was brilliant. As well as being very good with the magic, he was so funny with it - he had me in stitches. I must find out who he was – I’d like to see him again.

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04 December 2006 (Monday) - Loose Aggregates

04 December 2006 (Monday) - Loose Aggregatesmagnify

Avid readers will remember the entry of Friday 3rd November when, ably assisted by My Boy TM and My Gal TM, I “easily” moved a ton of brindle chippings and found we needed more.

More arrived this morning. In fact, double the amount we had a month ago. This time we got shingle as its various colours, shapes and textures will add to the “Rustic CharmTM of the pond.  Last time we mucked about filling various containers to find places to put the stones, but this time due to the wonders of “I don’t get out much TM“ technology we had a spare aggregate bag for our loose aggregates. Dan had loose aggro-guts, but that’s another story.

Well, what can I say? We shifted two tons of shingle from the front garden to the back garden. Things sound so much easier when they are written down in a blog, don’t they? Mind you, there were a few moments of worry when it became very obvious that the bag in the back garden was filling far faster than the bag in the front garden was emptying. But we got there in the end

Two tons of shingle in just over three hours - that’s not bad going. And then I realised something quite important. A day off work is never complete without a trip to the tip. No one who’s ever seen my house would believe that I go to the tip with an Espace-full of rubbish at least once a fortnight, and usually more often than that. It didn’t take long to fill the car with rubbish, most of which is now in the tip or the recycling skips, and only a little bit is still spilled in the back of my bus.

KFC was well deserved (by all) for dinner, and the afternoon featured a trip to B&Q and Bybrook Barn for a broom, weed killer, more stone stuff and gardening gloves for My Gal TM. Having emptied the front garden in the morning we just had time to sweep up, slosh round with water, zap the weeds and make good before simultaneously darkness and rain fell.

Oh, how I ache!


05 December 2006 (Tuesday) - Driving

05 December 2006 (Tuesday) - Drivingmagnify

I hate driving. It’s so sucky it’s lame! I had to go to Crawley today. Opinions on the journey time ranged from 45 minutes to three hours, so I took no chances and got up at 5.30am (yawn). The news on Radio 2 said that it was raining, but the rain in the south east would clear up as the morning went on. Five minutes later on BBC1 the weather forecast gave it raining all day long, especially in Kent. Another triumph of continuity for the BBC.

So, a drive of indeterminate duration in indeterminate weather awaited. I had to be there for 9am, so I set off at 6.15am. The weather ranged from yukky to bloody awful and back again continuously, and the traffic would grind to a halt and then start again (at a snail’s pace) for no apparent reason. In the past I’ve got to Clackett Lane services in thirty five minutes. It took over an hour today. Traffic on the M25 was “heavy” (according to the radio). If that traffic was “heavy”, presumably they would describe me as “slender”. Traffic around Crawley was lethal. I can only describe the driving of the locals as “American” – there’s probably some sort of Highway Code, but no one, least of all the people living there, knows what it is. (The above photo is after American driving) I arrived at my destination at 8.15am, a two hour journey.

And as for the trip home….. it was better. Better? Better get a bucket! Pootling along the monsoon ridden M25 the motorway announcement boards proclaimed the excellent news that the M20 was closed between junctions eight and nine. The traffic announcements on the radio told me that the traffic on the M20 was stacked back to junction seven. So, it’s times like this that one realises why God made the A21. A quick glance at the map shows that the distance home from the top of the M26 is pretty much the same whether one goes along a blocked motorway or down the God-given A21 and then cross country. Let’s just say that whilst big G built the A21, it was the other guy (the one from downstairs) who built the A262 and the A28.

And when I finally got home, Katy cheerfully announced that I’d be pleased - Dan’s been working all day long in the garden. A mud-encrusted Daniel then came in. “Oh, it’s you” he said. “Bad news – the garden’s f*cked”.  I haven’t dared look out there yet.

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06 December 2006 (Wednesday) - Space: The Final News Item

06 December 2006 (Wednesday) - Space: The Final News Itemmagnify

When I was a lad, the launch of something into space was big news. Nowadays with shuttle and Soyuz launches to the International Space Station seeming so commonplace, it’s not news anymore. Did you know that currently there are four satellites around Mars and two rovers going around the Martian surface, with plenty more preparing to launch. Cassini has been going around Saturn for two years; there are probes on the way to Venus, Mercury and Pluto.

Today it was announced that there’s been running water found on Mars. I say announced - the radio gave the subject maybe thirty seconds at most, and treated the whole matter as though it little more than trivia. I then had to search the Internet for details. Don’t they realise the Constellation project is well underway http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/main/index.html with Ares boosters becoming a reality more and more each day. Orions are being designed, and the first Moon base will be built at the south lunar pole in less than twenty years. And from there they will launch people to Mars.

This stuff is important. Doesn’t anyone care ?

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07 December 2006 (Thursday) - Ho Ho Ho

07 December 2006 (Thursday) - Ho Ho Homagnify

I was going to have so much fun tomorrow. I’d booked the afternoon off work to go to the play school where I was going to be Santa. “Ho Ho Ho – Have I Got a Surprise For You!” was only one of the lines I had ready. “Of course you can have a pony if that’s what you want and IF your Mummy loves you very much!”. “A PS3 – of course!

It would have been such fun. But it’s been cancelled. With fifteen of the little darlings down with chickenpox, half a dozen stricken with conjunctivitis and the majority of the remainder suffering with impetigo (whatever that is) attendance at play school is on the low side, and the Xmas shindig has been re-scheduled for a day I can’t make.

I’d been looking forward to it so much!



08 December 2006 (Friday) - Another quiz

A week ago I put up a quiz here – I’ve been told it was too easy. Since I don’t have the planned tales of play schools and Santa suits with which to regale my public today, let’s have another quiz as a thinly veiled space filler. Hopefully this one’s a bit trickier:

            1  Why would we take a bus down to Bognor Regis?

            2  What (and how much) do we eat in Camelot?

            3  Where can you see lions?

            4  How would you defend yourself against a man armed with a banana?

            5  Who is the pilot of the Australian spacecraft ”Fair Dinkum”?

            6  What was Sidney Devious’ profession?

            7  Why doesn’t a Dugong live in a tree?

            8  What happened when danger reared its ugly head?

            9  What did we see in aisle 2?

            10 What makes God quite irate?

Answers to the usual address, and there might really be a prize for the winner this time.

In the meantime My Boy TM is asking the nice lady to "quote him happy" on his H reg wreck. He's not smiling!



9 December 2006 (Saturday) - Eenie Meanie MINE !!!!

9 December 2006 (Saturday) - Eenie Meanie MINE !!!!magnify

Following the afternoon’s performance, it was all back to Chez Moi for a bit of scoff. It’s been some time since we last had a party at home, and it is Xmas, after all. Despite numbers being somewhat thinned by disease and lack of babysitters, Chicken Surprise (the surprise is that it’s chicken) and beef hot-pot went down well, as did the myriad of various desserts that everyone seemed to bring. Bernie was spoiled for choice!

The remainder of the evening was spent watching old Xmas songs and videos on the music channel, and attempting to play “Who’s in the Bag” – an obscure game where you have to give clues to the identity of even obscurer celebrities, has-beens and never-was-es. In the meantime Jose attempted wooden origami.

Far too much ale sunk, half a bottle of Amaretto went, same again next weekend !


10 December 2006 (Sunday) - Not too sad

10 December 2006 (Sunday) - Not too sadmagnify

Following a gutful of ale last night, a lay-in was on the cards. But not too long in bed –  arrows don’t shoot themselves, you know. And this time we had two new recruits - My Boy TM and Emma thought they’d have a go. Dan did quite well – coming second in a shoot-off. Emma had a little trouble to begin with – like me she has the disadvantage that the hand she uses most and the eye she uses most aren’t both on the same side. Most left handed people favour their left eye. Most right handed people favour their right eye. I’m right handed, but my left eye is better than my right. Emma’s left handed but her best eye is the right. People like us have a tricky time figuring out the best way to shoot. If nothing else it gives us an excuse when we have an off day.

This week’s bow snarrows was particularly successful as Batty had acquired a large net to hang behind the targets which caught all but two of the stray arrows. This meant we didn’t waste any time searching endlessly for errant projectiles and could get on with more archery properly (or as properly as is possible for us to do) rather than scratting around for lost arrows. The target cube came out, and as you can see Emma’s blue arrow got the squirrel right up the chuff. Mind you, it was cold today, and while everyone else went in for a warming cuppa, Daniel & me turned the target cube to the rabbit picture and we fired off every arrow we could find. Despite a rousing chorus of “Kill de Wabbit!!” out of over fifty arrows, we scored merely one glancing blow on one of the ears. It’s a good job we weren’t hunting for our supper – or we would have been eating salad tonight!

As well as being cold, it got dark early as well – the light was noticeably fading at 3pm so we packed up and set off for home. “Did you enjoy yourselves?” I asked Emma and Daniel. Dan’s reply was encouraging. He and Emma will be coming to archery sessions again. Apparently out of all the stupid things we’ve done over the years (and apparently we’ve done quite a few stupid things) archery is among the least lame. It fact he was that keen on the activity that he proclaimed that the day had been “Not too sad

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11 December 2006 (Monday) - The True Meaning of Xmas

11 December 2006 (Monday) - The True Meaning of Xmasmagnify

There’s a chap I know who claims to be a Christian. Strange bloke! He doesn’t understand humour unless it involves someone else getting hurt.  He gets very irate this time of year. He maintains he’s not a killjoy, and doesn’t mind all the parties as long as “people remember the true meaning of Christmas

One wonders what he would make of the antics of the Bishop of Southwark last Tuesday night. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/11122006/323/mugging-mystery-partying-bishop-gets-black-eye.html Whilst I was having an early night, the bishop was invited to a reception in London. On his way home “His Grace” (pissed as trousers) was found ransacking a parked car, flinging children’s toys out of it. When challenged, he announced that he was a bishop, and that’s what bishops do. The next morning the Right Reverend has got a black eye, such a lump on his head he can’t wear his bishop-ing hat, he’s lost his belongings and has absolutely no recollection of what happened on the night before.

This evening the bishop declined to be interviewed on Radio Four news, but the owner of the car he ransacked was only too happy to chat. He’s found the bishop’s missing stuff, including a Ruth Rendell novel, a crucifix, a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and some “documents from the Ministry of Defence.

One also wonders if the Bishop would like to come to Dover beer festival with us in eight weeks’ time.


12 December 2006 (Tuesday) - Planning ahead

12 December 2006 (Tuesday) - Planning aheadmagnify

As a child I would dream of a wonderful place where everything was magic, where I could be with friends, and be happy, where gentle music would play in the serene background, where the food would as ambrosia, and the drink as nectar.

Well, it ain’t that good, but it’s better than a poke up the arse with a sharp stick. The details are out for next year’s Dover Beer Festival. http://www.camra-dds.org.uk/ Make a date in your diary – Saturday 3rd February. We’ll be leaving Ashford International railway station around 9.30 a.m. I expect, and we’ll come home some time in 2007. (Past combatants will realise the folly of trying to give a better estimate than that) At £2 per head to get in, beer at £2 a pint and strong enough that you’ll fall over for less than a fiver, wild horses wouldn’t keep me away.

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13th December 2006 (Wednesday) - Xmas Appeal

I sometimes have on-line squabbles. “How surprisingly unlike you!!” I hear you exclaim! Some of these arguments are in the Google newsgroup uk.local.kent. There’s a chap there who posts under various names, and I’ve had countless disagreements with him over the years, some quite serious. But at heart he’s a decent chap, I’ve met him, and he’s bought me beer, so he’s a friend for life.

This Xmas he’s raising money for a young autistic lad who’s had his laptop stolen. You can find out more at http://www.tigar.co.uk/view-news.asp?ID=14 and you can donate towards the new laptop by clicking the PayPal link.

If you can spare a bit of cash, tell him that I told you about the appeal. Perhaps he’ll be more gentle with me in our next spat.


14 December 2006 (Thursday) - We're In The Money

If I was a rich man

Yaddle diddle daddle diddle daddle  dum

All day long I’d diddle daddle dum

If I were a wealthy man


Or so, in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, sang Topov the Monkey. I often wonder what Topov the Monkey was doing in a musical. Surely Hartley Hare would have noticed he was moonlighting from “Pipkins”. And if he hadn’t, surely Pig or Tortoise or Octavia the Ostrich would have done. To say nothing of the aptly named Mooney the Badger.

Anyway…. Topov can dream on. It’s me that’s going to “diddle daddle dum” all day long, as I’m now rich. Very rich.

I’ve just had an email from Fred Thabo, a South African attorney who tells me that my long lost uncle, “Mr Adams Badger” died in a ghastly motor  accident along Port  Louis-Reduit  express (wherever that might be) on August 13, 2001. Apparently his wife (presumably my Aunty Badger?) and his two sons also died in this accident. Fred the attorney has spent years scouring the internet to find the legitimate heirs of Adams Badger, and it transpires I’m his last living relative. Strange, that! Going back to just a common grandparent, on my mother’s side I can count at least a dozen living relatives, and on my Dad’s side, there are loads of them. Still, I’m not letting that lot know about Uncle Adams Badger. He was rich. He had twenty five million dollars, and I get half of that. The attorney Fred Thabo gets 45%, and the rest goes in inheritance tax. All I have to do is send Fred several thousand dollars to cover his immediate expenses….

Why don’t you email Fred to see if you’ve got a dead rich relative too – his email is fredthabo2005@hotmail.com Do these people think I’m THAT stupid? I suppose enough people must fall for these scams to make it worth their while.



15 December 2006 (Friday) - Getting all environmental.

15 December 2006 (Friday) - Getting all environmental.magnify

I didn’t realise until today that there was such a beast as the Chinese River Dolphin. Well, there isn’t. Not any more. They were declared extinct today. They’ve been on the way out for years due to a variety of causes, including dam-building, environmental degradation, hunting by humans, and ship collisions (according to Wikipedia). But although this is news to me, they were first officially declared endangered twenty seven years ago.

All my life I’ve heard about “endangered species” – but they are only “endangered” – someone knows about the problems and is doing something about it. Aren’t they ? OK, people didn’t know an awful lot about conservation when we killed off the Dodo and the Quagga, but surely we all learned our lesson when the Barbary Lion went extinct within living memory in 1922? Or when the Thylacine went in 1930? Or the Golden Toad in 1989? Didn’t we? We’ve had twenty seven years to do something about the Chinese River Dolphin, and achieved nothing.

Now its gone. How many more species will we kill off?

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16 December 2006 (Saturday) - Party time

16 December 2006 (Saturday) - Party timemagnify

A particularly seasonal day began with festive wishes from the Liberal Democrat party of Ashford. It was a shame that they couldn't stretch to a cheap tacky Xmas card like they did in previous years, but instead had to resort to a folded up scrap of paper. But the thought was there. As a vote-winner they are in the lead for no better reason than no other political party has yet sent me an Xmas card.

The afternoon was spent at the scout hut - a party to celebrate ninety years of cub scouting. We chose a medieval theme and dressed accordingly. Plenty of games and fun, with craft activities of making princess pink girlie bracelets and making huge balls of snot proving to be very popular. Parents had been asked to provide some party food, and with twenty two sets of parents each providing enough to feed everyone, it took over an hour to scoff our way through the food.

The evening was the Energize Xmas bash – Heather & Andy put on a smashing evening. You know that you’re in good company when not only are there éclairs on the table, there are backup éclairs prepared in readiness and also emergency éclairs as well. Great fun was had by all, involving me winning at the sausages game (No one said I couldn’t gyrate sexily at Chippy!), and brains were stretched at the QI DVD. Plans for the future were made, including a hike to a pub for a Saturday in January, a formal meal in February, a mega-hike to Bethersden in March, and a formal meal in full Trekkie costume for all the Ener-guys & gals at Teston in June. The evening was something of a profit on the beer front – I took four bottles, drank five and took seven home with me. Must go back there again soon!


17 December 2006 (Sunday) - Another day in paradise

With blog entries storming over the hundred mark, and the blog having been scrutinised over three thousand times (over 130 times in the last week alone) I am left wondering what people find so interesting here. After all, in the words of the song, “it sucks to be me”.

Anyway – today – went to bed at 2am, got up at 7.30 am. Did the washing up, put some washing in, did the ironing, watched “Logan’s Run” on the Sky Plus (lame!), had brekkie and watched three episodes of Star Trek before Tina got up. Then we piled into the car and measured the distance of the hike planned for March (a round trip of about 15 miles), fired off a few arrows, had a smashing bit of dinner and three puddings. Came home again, did more laundry and more ironing, wrapped some “Secret Santa” pressies and watched more Star Trek. Kicked some butt in NeverWinter and I expect I’ll go to kip in a bit.

As I said at the start – it’s just another day in paradise.


18 December 2006 (Monday) - Sky Plus ? - Minus !

18 December 2006 (Monday) - Sky Plus ? - Minus !magnify

I remember the first ever video recorder we had. It was rented (you rented ALL your stuff in those days) from D.E.R. in Folkestone in 1985. The first night we got it we hired two films (Star Trek II and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life) and sat up till all hours watching them. Then we experimented with the “record” button and never looked back (Well, not until September 2006).

Last autumn when we were preparing to decorate downstairs I looked back (!) I took a day off work to take several Espace-fuls of videos to the dump. All stuff we'd recorded off the telly. There was a dozen tapes of random Star Trek episodes, half a dozen tapes of random Monty Python, half a dozen tapes of random Laurel & Hardy films. There were tapes of random episodes of Alexi Sayle, Space Above & Beyond, Earth 2, BlackAdder, Red Dwarf, Steve Coogan, Harry Enfield, Paul Merton, Superman, you name it, it was there. There were films we’d taped off the telly in 1986, replaced with pre-recorded tapes which themselves have been replaced with DVDs, but still we’d kept them. There was all sorts of drivel there. All stuff we’d recorded. Some of it we’d even actually watched, (admittedly), but nothing had gone into the video player for at least five years. So in the tip all the tapes went and we welcomed back the use of half a dozen shelves.

Five days ago our Sky Plus box arrived. The thing already has hours of viewing on it. Random episodes of The Jeremy Kyle Show, Deal or No Deal, Miami Ink, Two Pints of Lager, Brittas Empire, Keeping Up Appearances, Only Fools and Horses, Torchwood and Queer Eye (among other rubbish) abound in the stored memory. I myself have actually only recorded one thing on it (Logan’s Run), watched it, and deleted it.

And this thing can record two programs at once. Think about that – you accumulate drivel at twice the speed you can watch it. It’s got a hole into which you can plug a DVD recorder. Here we go again.


19 December 2006 (Tuesday) - Progress ?

As a child when I felt ikky we would visit Dr Mitchell in his “surgery”. I say “surgery” – it was actually his house which was a few doors up the road from my Gran’s house. When ill, we would wait in his front room (which had enough room for half a dozen sickies) all under the gimlet glare of a miserable harridan masquerading as a receptionist who would dispense appointments and indifference in equal measure. Dr Mitchell himself was based in what my Grandmother would have described as the scullery. He was kept company in his scullery by a stuffed owl in a glass case which dated from some time in the previous century, and I always felt that the shock of a good fart would be all that was needed for all the owl’s feathers to fall off. (On re-reading this I feel I should say that the fart would come from one of the patients, the owl's farting days being long behind it as it was stuffed - in more ways than one) Together Dr Mitchell and the owl would deal with every malady known to the science of the era, and would do so uncomplainingly at any time, night and day.

Nowadays when feeling ikky it’s somewhat different. One does not go to a “surgery”; one haggles for an appointment at a multi-storey “primary health care centre.” With half a dozen doctors in attendance, to say nothing of nurse practitioners, chiropodists, dentists - there’s even some of my own staff seconded along to run the anticoagulant clinic. The waiting room can seat over eighty people and has an electronic notice board to not only tell you when it’s your turn but also to direct you to whatever consulting room (on whatever floor) you will be seen in.

I preferred Dr Mitchell’s house.


20 December 2006 (Wednesday) - Dib Dib Do What ?!?!?

As a scout I make a promise to keep the scout law – if you’re bored you can look it up. Basically it’s (arguably) the best basis for any kind of society. The fourth part of it says “A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.” In the past it was worded slightly differently and mentioned a worldwide brotherhood. Either way, we are a family. And it must be true, as I am quite glowing with vicarious parental pride at the scout from Dartford who told Jim Davidson precisely what he thought of him.


If only it had been one of mine……



21 December 2006 (Thursday) - Holiday Season

I’m now off work till next Wednesday. Xmas “holidays”? Not really. I love Xmas, but holiday? – tomorrow is preparing for mother’s visit, which will be fun, but having had parents & brother come here on Saturday, we then all troop to brother’s house on Xmas day, and then all to parent’s house on boxing day. Somewhere in there we’ll also visit all flavours of in-laws and as usual spend all the so-called “holiday” driving from one set of relations to another. All of whom sympathise, and tell me that we should be firm – they all tell me that for once we should say “NO!” to all the family stuff and that for once we should have a peaceful Xmas at home. And then they end this advice with the disclaimer “but you ARE still coming to see us, aren’t you!” and then make it quite clear that if we don’t visit they will be mortally offended.

I’ll fill the car with petrol, shall I…..


22 December 2006 (Friday) - Heaven and Hell

22 December 2006 (Friday) - Heaven and Hellmagnify

Belinda Carlisle once sang “Heaven in a Place on Earth”. And I’ve squalled along in (and out of) tune several times.

Heaven on Earth – I’ve been there. It’s many places. It’s a successful scouting event, and it’s Teston Bridge picnic site in July and August; it’s Sooke in British Columbia, it’s the top of the slope at Stanmer Park in July, it’s the Maison Dieu in Dover every February, it’s standing in the cold in Rye in a November night, it’s a barn in Nackington in July, it's being with my mates pretty much anywhere, it’s even been my living room on a Tuesday evening……. And today I’ve found another. On November 18th I mentioned a beer called “Level Best”. Today I went to the place where they make it. It is the most scenic barn in the most beautiful location overlooking the Rother Valley, making the world’s best beer, AND it features a “Kirsty-Class Fit BirdTM in the office.

Hell – Hell is Tesco’s three days before Xmas trying to convince the old biddies that Tesco’s is for shopping, not gossiping.



23 December 2006 (Saturday) - hic !

For some time I’ve been threatening to stage a proper beer tasting session where we can compare beers of “the same sort”. Today I had a test run at doing so, using my brother as a guinea pig. Eighteen beers tasted:

IPA: Marston's Old Empire, Greene King, Deuchars

Brown Ale: Manns Brown Ale, Newcastle Brown, Maxim

Wheat Beers: Summer Lightning, Bateman’s Combined Harvest, Whitstable Brewery Wheat Beer

Fruit Beers: Whitstable Brewery Raspberry Wheat, Bellevue Kriek, Banana Bread

Badger Beers: Tanglefoot (bottled), Tanglefoot (canned), First Gold

Wychwood Beers: Wychcraft, Hobgoblin, Goliath

He seemed to like the choice. Next time I can expand the Wychwood selection somewhat, and even have a run on stouts and porters. Anyone fancy a tasting in the new year?

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24 December 2006 (Sunday) - Doing the Family Thing

24 December 2006 (Sunday) - Doing the Family Thingmagnify

Following five pints of Blues on Friday night and an assorted nine pints yesterday, today I've not so much got a bum as a broken ice cream machine. Notwithstanding the discomfort, a day’s bow snarrows in the cold is always a good laugh – and just at the point where I could no longer feel any extremities due to frostbite “My Gal” TM turned up to have a go.

We then had our first family sit down together meal for months, and both children must be ill as they decided to share an ice cream, a degree of co-operation that we haven’t seen for years – must be a special occasion!

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25 December 2006 (Xmas day) - Festive (!) Reflections

In typical Xmas fashion at 11 am I was desperately driving round Ashford trying to find batteries. As the righteous were on the radio banging on about "the true meaning of Christmas", I was reminded of a blog entry back at the beginning of the month when I mentioned that the cubs thought the most important parts of Xmas were Santa and pressies.

Historians are pretty much convinced that Jesus wasn't born in December - Christians took over the December 25th holidays of Natalis Solis Invicti, festival of the birth of the invincible sun, as well as Saturnalia and various Germanic mid-winter festival celebrations which used evergreen trees and holly as symbols of eternal life.

Among the most central and recognizable symbols of Christmas today is the Christmas tree — and it has nothing to do with Christianity, Christ, or Jesus. (The practice of cutting down trees and taking them home to decorate them with gold and silver is even condemned by Christianity in the book of Jeremiah). I don't recall anywhere in the bible saying about the amount of "bling" we decorate our houses with. Stuffing ourselves silly, turkeys, Brussels sprouts and Yule Logs don't seem overly prominent in orthodox theology. And there is no mention whatsoever of reindeer, red nosed or otherwise. And my cigar has no religious overtones whatsoever.

I received an Xmas card from a Muslim lady this year - she's at home with her Muslim family enjoying Xmas. As is a Buddhist colleague.

Xmas as it is celebrated by the vast majority is far from a religious occasion. It's a traditional midwinter party. Always has been.

If anyone wants to "do the religion", then carry on, I'm not knocking it, but as I told a colleague who (only last Thursday) was trying to insist that only practicing Christians should be allowed to take the time off work, it's been a midwinter piss up for hundreds of years before the righteous tried to hijack it.


26 December 2006 (Boxing Day) - Goodwill To All Men?

Typical boxing day, really. At least today we were fed. If you’re invited for Xmas day and told that there’s a buffet, you expect to be given food before 6pm, don’t you? Or am I just being awkward?

Boxing Day is a fun time to watch the nieces and nephews with their new toys. First of all there’s a stressy fit as to which one can plug their gadget into Gran’s TV – is it to be the arcade simulator, or the play station? And aren’t children’s games so educational these days. “Gook-Hunter 3000” is a wonderful way to learn all about people of different cultures and how to obliterate them in a gory blood bath. And then it’s fun to bait the in-laws. As the latest game to be banned the world over goes into the play station I made the innocent comment of “Oh isn’t that game banned the world over?” Blank stares from in-laws. They’ve obviously never read the box to find out that this game is set in a virtual school and one scores by being the best (or worst depending on your perspective) bully one can be. Probably to placate me, the game is then deemed “unsuitable for Boxing Day.” and so it’s back to “Gook-Hunter 3000”.

Funny old world, it’s acceptable to shoot and kill people with all manner of virtual firearms, but it’s not OK to kick them in the nuts.

And then it’s on to other in-laws where technology has been abandoned in favour of good old Top Trumps. This time – World Wrestling Entertainment cards and Barbie Fashion cards. All things considered, bearing in mind it’s the season of goodwill to all men (except virtual gooks), I prefer the Top Trumps.

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27 December 2006 (Wednesday) - Back to the Grind

Well, holidays are over – back to the grind. And what a grind it can be. Perhaps it’s the come-down after Xmas.

One spends years accumulating qualifications to gain a position of seniority to find…….. some people like the power of command. Me – I hate it. In my job there is effectively only one boss – the Minister for Health. All I ever do is send down his edicts as they trickle through the several tiers of management above me. And when staff come to me with ideas, gripes and suggestions….. I can do nothing about it. I have all of the responsibility and no authority.

Take the latest marvel. Management are imposing a “European Working Time Directive Compliant” way of working. Effectively it’s cutting out the concept of overtime. People will work all hours day and night, but never more that 37.5 hours each week. Effectively we’ll be one person less per day. We have problems getting the work done as it is. I’ve formally told management this. Their – it’s my job to make it work. When I ask how, I’m informed that “they don’t do details”.

One keeps smiling.



28 December 2006 (Thursday) - Upgrade the PC Time ?

28 December 2006 (Thursday) - Upgrade the PC Time ?magnify

I only ever upgrade my computer for one of two reasons. Either Jose tells me to, or I buy some lump of software for 2p that won’t run and I need to spend £10000000 to create a better spec machine. This time I’ve been sensible (!) and done my research first. NeverWinter Nights 2 will set me back £25. But what hardware do I need:

Windows XP Sorted

Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or Athlon XP 2000 or equivalent £150 (inc new motherboard)

512 MB RAM Sorted – but only just – might need more - £50

5.5 GB hard disk space Sorted

DirectX 9.0c Sorted (I think)

GeForce 6600 or Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card with PS 2.0 or better £150

A new PC looks cheaper, or I stick with the original NeverWinter Nights.



29 December 2006 (Friday) - Cards

29 December 2006 (Friday) - Cardsmagnify

Over the last year, it’s amazing how popular the game of poker has become. With nearly twenty close friends now keen on the game, when I eventually host a game it will have to be first come, first served for places. There really is a limit to how many people can cram into a house, let alone around a table.

As there were a couple of spaces at tonight’s table appearing at the last minute, I was able to ask “My Boy TM” and “His Bird TM” if they fancied a game of cards. It transpired that they did. Just as well really as if “His Bird TM” didn’t drive there was probably no way I would be able to relieve Chip of any of his box of ale. And good stuff it is (was) too.

The evening started predictably enough with the newbies wiping the floor with everyone, but as time went on it was painfully apparent that “My Boy TM” had been listening to “Old Man TM” as he clearly thought he had “to be in it to win it” and never folded a hand. There were others present as the alternative of houseful of women was just beyond the pale. Perhaps it was the threat of the houseful of women that enabled him to come back from being all-in four times, in hands that, if not worthy of song, were allegedly worthy of rather bad poetry.

Rabbit Boy” let down even his staunchest supporters by paying close attention to the game, needing prompting even less than did “Yours Truly”, and he spawned the new catch-phrase of “Allan Be Praised” (sic). By the end of the evening we had a record number of “busts” with 67% of the original combatants going bankrupt. Even though my victory dance was used to very good effect on many occasions, it wasn’t enough, and I went out with twenty minutes to go. Which (for me) wasn’t bad at all.

Why is it that when I’m dealt a decent pair of hole cards (kings, aces, etc) I always lose, but something crappy (like a pair of twos or threes) never fails?


30 December 2006 (Saturday) - Upgrade Revisited

I really want to play NeverWinter Nights 2……

I’m told by my resident PC guru that for £50 less than the price of the PC upgrade I guesstimated two days ago I can buy a new PC with intrafibrillating contrdibuflobualtors, the ability to reflange my intranodal capacitators, more RAM than sense, and a gargantuan Bertha that makes fat Agnes look svelte.

Tomorrow morning I’m off to the computer shop, and then my New Year’s Resolution will be to get the new computer to actually work.

Then re-install all the Internet settings

Then re-install all the Office programs

Then re-install all the silly little games I like

Then re-install all the Yahoo stuff

Then re-install all the porn…….

Bearing in mind what happened last time I sodded about with the settings, I plan to start playing NeverWinter Nights 2 some time in April if all goes well.

There may therefore be a slight hiatus in the progress of this blog – normal service will be resumed as soon as possible….


31 December 2006 (Sunday) - Preparing to Upgrade

31 December 2006 (Sunday) - Preparing to Upgrademagnify

Easier said than done….

First of all we traipsed round to Comet in Folkestone, where Jose was able to get the intramegulating squaftiflobulator 2000 that he was after, but we weren’t sure about the intramegulating squaftiflobulator 2000 with go-faster stripes for me, especially after the nice man in the shop opened it up and there seemed to be a dearth of slots for any bonus hard drives. So off to another shop.

We stopped off for fags in Tesco’s. Have you ever been to Tesco’s in Folkestone? Milf central !!!! Including “Jose’s Fit Cousin TM”. (CILF TM) On the flip side was a double helping of ‘er indoorses accompanied by “Jose’s Mum TM” (funny how they always turn up when you’re having a perve!), but still the place is well worth a visit. I’m going back.

Pissy World in Ashford was good, especially as they had NeverWinter Nights 2 priced at £32.99, but only charged £19.99, but all their pissies were osmofrenetically inverted (or something), so that was no good to me. Comet in Ashford had what would seem to be the ideal pissy for me, but……..

Across the panel you remove to get to the works was a “warranty void if removed” sticker. The “clueless sales-bimbo TM” was quite adamant that you should stay out of the box. That is for the engineers only, apparently. Interestingly she seemed quite unable to answer why any shop would sell graphics cards and RAM and sound cards and other things you plug into a pissy. She was clearly “talking bollocks TM”, especially as she was utterly unable to explain why the chap in Folkestone was able to open the cases there.

So we told the “clueless sales-bimbo TM” where to stick it, and went back to Pissy World and asked then their opinion on shoving components into a pissy. The “boss tekkie TM was a bit vague. Apparently it’s OK to open up the box and fart around inside PROVIDED you don’t stuff anything up. If however you do stuff anything up, then the warranty is voided. Well, it don’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that, but as the “boss tekkie TM pointed out, if you’ve had the side off, and something’s titsed you’ll have a sod of a job to prove it wasn’t you that titsed it. So, back to Comet, and we waited until the “clueless sales-bimbo TM” shoved off for a cup of tea before buying what we’d originally seen an hour previously.

So, where do we (I) go from here? I am now terrified to take the side off for a year. This is the provisional plan:

1 Make all drives on my current pissy shared drives

2 Plug my current pissy in where the living room pissy currently is.

3 Spark up the new one and get it going

4 Copy back over the network all I want/need from the old pissy

5 Swap the hard drives on my old pissy with those in Tina’s pissy

6 Swap my old pissy for Tina’s pissy

So we end up with Tina’s old machine downstairs with shared drives on which we can store all manner of nonsense, Tina has my old machine with her current hard drive that won’t be constantly bleating about not having a genuine copy of Windows (for no adequately explained reason) and I’ll have a pissy which, if not quite the dog’s bollox, is certainly the cat’s cock.

As I said yesterday, I expect to be playing NeverWinter Nights 2 sometime in April…