1 December 2018 (Saturday) - Another Late Shift
I’m pretty sure that new-next-door weren’t in last night as their dogs were barking, howling and screaming. Their noise unsettled our wolf-pack and everyone was restless. Their dogs finally shut up at five to three.
I then slept through till half-past eight despite rather vivid dreams in which Donald Trump had taken over the NHS and had converted out blood-testing laboratory into a jam sandwich factory. I wonder just what was going on in my subconscious to have provoked that? Sometimes I wonder what goes on inside my head, but usually I just go with the flow.
I got up and looked at my Lego Advent Calendar. Ever since 2010 I have regaled the world with what the voices in my head think about the Lego advent calendar. I must admit I do myself no favours with the thing; I bought this year’s one on 27 September; I’ve had two months to prepare something for my expectant audience. But I do Advent Calendars properly. I open each window on the right day and hope for the best. Some mornings I have instant inspiration; most mornings I find myself thinking “WTF” for much of the day.
Quite a few other people were showing off Advent Calendars on Facebook too. I like that sort of thing.
Mind you there were quite a few posts about how we shouldn’t forget that this Christmas is all about religion and not about having fun. Some of them were from church-goers; some from people who were presumably just trying to suck up to God.
I had quite a few emails this morning; most were drivel, but one told me that season three of “F is for Family” is now on Netflix. I liked that show. I wonder if this new season will be as good.
I played “Candy Crush” on Facebook and looked at Lego from the 1970s on eBay; all the time hoping the rain would stop so’s we could go out. I’d swapped from my rota-ed early shift to a late today so’s we could go to the Snow Dog event at the Julie Rose stadium, but the continuous rain rather put me off walking round the running track.
Needing some petrol I headed to the filling station in Brookfield Road. One hundred and twenty-five pence per litre sounded a bit pricey. I drove up the motorway to Sainsbury’s in Aylesford where they were knocking the stuff out at one hundred and eighteen pence per litre. That saved over three quid on the petrol and stuck twenty-five pence onto my Nectar balance. It pays to shop around.
I then went in to work. Usually I have a little adventure on the way, but it was raining today and after the frankly awful night's sleep I'd had I wasn't feeling very adventurous. Braving the canteen was adventure enough for today. I had some pasta thingy; I thought I'd be healthy and take the vegetarian option. I wish I'd gone for dead animal now.
Work was rather busy. Not that busy, but a lot busier than it might have been. It was a shame that the motorway was closed when I tried to come home.
On the plus side "er indoors TM" had bought me an apple turnover…
2 December 2018 (Sunday) - High Halden
Last night was a much better night. Breakfast time was somewhat fraught though, with dogs barking at shadows. I wish they wouldn’t. It only needs one of them with a voice in their head saying “bark for no reason” and the other two (on hearing a bark) have to join in.
I uploaded the latest instalment of the Lego Advent Calendar, then we got ourselves together and drove down to High Halden for a little walk.
There are a couple of series of geocaches round High Halden; both ideal for a guided dog walk. And we had an excellent walk today. After the heavy rain of yesterday it was rather wet underfoot, but that wasn’t a problem. Today was the trial run of my new gaiters and they worked very well; unlike Charlotte’s wellies which didn’t. Mind you there were those of our party (Fudge) who just waded belly-deep in the mud because they didn’t care.
Pogo is still new to this “countryside” lark but he made the most of it; discovering the joys of eating sheep poo and rolling in something disgusting. Fudge (an old hand at this game) should have known better than to have messed with an electric fence. He did yelp when the thing zapped him.
Today’s walk was deliberately a short one; we were soon back at the cars and feeling in need of liquid refreshment. We had a look in the Chequers, but what is usually a rather good pub had become an haute-cuisine restaurant for Sunday dinner. So we drove up to the Bull at Bethersden. We settled down for a crafty half but Pogo wasn’t happy. It didn’t take long for us to realise that he was actually guarding the nearby pub’s door. Relocating away from the door soon solved this issue. A pint of MasterBrew, a pint of brown ale, a pint of Spitfire, more crisps than you could shake a stick at…. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
Once home my phone beeped. An email. The fishing tackle shop had sent me a link to their “Christmas Deal of the Day”. A rather good fishing reel; fifty quid off, and out of stock. I suspect most of their stuff is fifty quid off when out of stock.
I then dozed until "er indoors TM" dished up dinner. A rather good bit of gammon.
With "er indoors TM" off bowling I got the ironing board out. It don’t iron itself… Ironing and an evening of Netflix. “The Good Place”, “F is for Family”, “Prison Break”… what with having done a few late shifts recently I’ve rather missed my telly…
3 December 2018 (Monday) - No More Snow Dogs
Some nights are good; last night wasn’t one of them. I don’t like having the dogs on the bed, but I get no say in the matter. I am generally asleep before they come up; you would think they would arrange themselves around those already asleep… but no. I often find myself hanging off of the edge of the bed fighting for a scrap of duvet. Last night was one such night. Several times I got up and arranged the dogs only to have themselves get back to how they were in the split second it would have taken me to get back into my pit.
I was rather glad when the alarm went off.
"er indoors TM" has been shopping; I found some “Deluxe Granola Super Berry” in the cupboard and some full-fat milk in the fridge (blue-top… none of that green-top rubbish) and I scoffed it whilst watching “F is for Family” before opening my Lego advent calendar. Some December mornings I am struck with immediate inspiration with my Lego advent calendar. Today wasn’t one of them. I sparked up the lap-top which my mind churned over what to say about a Lego car. There was nothing of note either in my in-box or on Facebook (mind you I was up *early* this morning) so I got dressed and set off to find where I’d left my car when I came home on Saturday. In retrospect we should have bought a house with a drive; then I’d remember where I’d left it rather than wandering the streets trying to find it.
It eventually came to light up by Dan-Dan’s house (Dan-Dan being a sort-of step-daughter-in-law once removed. Our family is rather complicated).
As I drove toward Pembury (I'm on a week's secondment) the pundits on the radio were discussing Jordi Casamitjana. This chap claims he was sacked from his job by the League Against Cruel Sports after squealing to the world that it invested its pension funds in firms involved in animal testing. In seemingly a tit-for-tat move the League Against Cruel Sports claimed Mr. Casamitjana was guilty of gross misconduct. (Well they would, wouldn't they?)
This chap is going to the courts trying to claim that he has acted according to his vegan principles and wants the courts to declare that veganism is a "philosophical belief akin to religion" and so subject to the protection of the law like other religions.
Apparently there are legal distinctions between religions, beliefs and opinions. From what I could work out it is quite acceptable to laugh at people who claim to have invisible friends *if* that is their belief or opinion. But the moment it becomes a "religion" you dare not say a word against their invisible friend for fear of legal ramifications (to say nothing of plagues of frogs off of God).
There were those on the radio who felt that giving veganism this sort of legal protection would just open the flood-gates to all sorts of other pressure groups wanting such legal status which might cause no end of problems. It was suggested that we might find ourselves in the ridiculous situation where all sorts of activities and things would be both legal and illegal. Imagine the Hunt Saboteurs declaring fishing being against their principles whilst simultaneously the Piscatorial Alliance announcing that fishing is their inalienable right. What happens then?
And then the so-called experts conjured up all sorts of ridiculous scenarios in which the "might-bes" played with the "ifs".
The Home Secretary was wheeled on and was interviewed for twenty minutes. It never fails to amaze me how senior politicians can be live on-air for so long and spout so much hot air whist actually saying very little.
He was of the
opinion that the Prime Minister's Brexit plans *aren't* going straight down the toilet, and glossed over the suggestion that he was in an increasingly shrinking minority of people who shared that view.
As he spouted meaningless platitudes I was very nearly tail-ended up the A21 by a lorry of the Green Flag company. With miles of traffic going at single-figure miles-per-hour did he really need to be quite so close to me for such a long way? I wonder if trade was slack for the Green Flag company, and (specialising in road traffic accidents) the driver thought he might drum up some business?
I got to work. The drive to Pembury is only eight miles longer than the drive to Maidstone but takes half an hour longer. Work was good, but going home time was better.
I had thought about going to the Ashford International Hotel this evening. Tonight was the closing event for the Ashford Snow Dogs and they were all being auctioned. If I went I just knew I would bid money I couldn’t afford so rather than going I tuned in on Facebook Live and watched the charity auction from home for two and a half hours. The average Snow Dog went for between two and three thousand pounds. None went for less than a thousand pounds. The one I would have bid on (Park Life) went for three thousand six hundred pounds, and Doodle Dog went for fifteen thousand quid.
In all over one hundred and forty thousand pounds was raised for the local hospice.
The whole Snow Dog thing has been rather good fun… a shame it is now over.
4 December 2018 (Tuesday) - Cheese and Wine
For once the dogs were still and I slept well. I woke feeling full of energy ad raring to go… some three hours before the alarm was due to go off. After two hours and a half of laying waiting for the alarm I gave up and got up. I had a quick look at my Lego advent calendar, then scoffed more deluxe super berry granola (with full fat milk) whilst watching another episode of “F is for Family”.
With a little time on my hands I wondered what had happened on the Internet overnight. There was very little kicking off on Facebook, and with no emails not going straight in the bin I got myself ready for the morning drive to work.
I had to scrape ice from my car's windscreen this morning. Regular readers of this drivel will know that this marks the official start of winter.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how Parliament is to spend the next five days discussing the Prime Minister's proposed Brexit agreement before voting on it next Tuesday. Five days - what a waste of time. Bearing in mind that it is a foregone conclusion that the thing is dead in the water and the only uncertainty is exactly how many hundreds of votes it will be defeated by, surely it would make sense to have the vote now and get on to the next stage of the Prime Minister's ongoing humiliation. For all that she has a rather impossible job, as Prime Ministers go this one is rather crap, isn't she? Which is a shame.
Mind you I was rather heartened by the interview that the pundits then had with Ofsted's chief inspector of schools. Insisting that parents should take *some* responsibility in the pastoral care of their children she was tacitly admitting that teachers had some such responsibility as well. This was utterly denied by the teachers of the fruits of my loins in years gone by; I'm glad that schools now have admitted that they do have some input into the care and well-being of their charges. After all they spend far more time with children every day than anyone else does.
I got to work and did my bit. usually I'm rather hungry during the day (which is why I am of a more rotund physique). I wasn't today or yesterday. I'm attributing that to the success of deluxe berry granola with full fat milk. Good stuff.
Mind you I had a shock when I looked in the mirror. (Or more of a shock than usual). When I saw my new shirt in the shop I thought it looked rather sexy. And by implication so would I. But when wearing it I look just like Rufus Roughcut's stunt double. I suppose that's not a bad thing. It is probably better than looking like one of the Slag brothers. Not that anyone would remember the Slag brothers. Or Rufus Roughcut, come to that.
The journey home took longer than my usual journey home from Maidstone. But I had none of the problems of the motorway, and being the festive season the villages of Goudhurst, Sissinghurst, Biddenden, High Haden and Bethersden were all rather pretty with the Christmas lights.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed with a bottle of plonk and chased down with a decent helping of cheese. We try to do this at least once a week; the dogs quite like it. As we scoffed we watched the final of “Lego Masters”.
They are asking for applications for the next series…
5 December 2018 (Wednesday) - Stuck in Traffic
"er indoors TM" took a sick day yesterday; when I woke I toyed with the idea of doing the same today. This cold has dragged on and on. But I forced myself out of my pit. Over deluxe berry granola and full fat milk I watched “F is for Family” and then sparked up my lap-top. It had some urgent notifications about the software I never use. It does that.
There wasn’t a lot kicking off on Facebook really, but I did snigger when my cousin had told the world that when she went to drink her morning coffee she just had a cup of hot water as she’d forgotten to add coffee… then I remembered my coffee was still in the kitchen where I’d left it half an hour before.
I had a look at my emails. I liked the look of what the nice people at Ordnance Survey were selling, but when I clicked on the link my lap-top laid an egg. The anti-virus software said that Ordnance Survey’s web site was “very risky”. Who would have thought it of them?
I left for work just after seven o'clock on a wet and dismal morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the government's historic defeat in Parliament yesterday. They interviewed an ex-chief whip who had voted against the Government yesterday and seemed to have taken great joy in sticking in the knife. From what I could work out from what he was saying, yesterday's (apparently) surprising upset for the Government has important implications. When (not if) the Prime Minister's plan for Brexit finally goes tits-up, Parliament can now bring in their own scheme.
Several politicians of various flavours were then wheeled on. It was quite clear that no one wants the Prime Minister's plan. Everyone is really pleased that Parliamentarians will now be able to implement their own plans for Brexit. The fact that no two Parliamentarians (out of over six hundred of them) agree on anything Brexit-related would seem to be irrelevant.
I made reasonable time until I got to Lamberhurst. Usually the traffic grinds to a halt a mile or so up the A21. I knew the road were going to be busy this morning when I ground to a halt some two miles earlier than usual. After half an hour (literally - from eight o'clock to half past eight) of not moving, it was announced on the radio that the A21 had been closed. That explained why the traffic wasn't moving and why nothing had come down the road toward me for half an hour.
You would have thought that whoever it is that closes roads would have put up a sign, wouldn't you?
Realising that I needed to get a shift on before the thousands (literally) of other drivers heard the news I managed to turn my car around and take the scenic route to work through the country lanes. Surprisingly not a single person followed me on my route or was already taking it. I drove straight from the monumental traffic jam to work without delay and was only quarter of an hour late.
Work was much the same as ever. I sniffled through the day. My nasal polyps have become *really* troublesome again. I spent quite a bit of time fighting with various medical receptionists trying to arrange to get them sorted. I've been told to make a phone call on Friday. I shall do that, and if that doesn't work I shall make a formal complaint. It has been my unfortunate experience that if I make a complaint, then things happen. If I don't make a complaint, then things just drag on.
I'd rather not complain...
I came home; the weather was awful. I spent most of the drive home with various idiots far too close up behind me with headlights on full-beam. Whenever possible I let these people pass; what kind of half-wit wants to drive along unlit country lanes in the rain at over seventy miles an hour?
"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good dose of scran, and we scoffed it whilst watching this week’s episode of “Doctor Who”. This season is getting better as it goes along…
6 December 2018 (Thursday) - Collecting A Parcel
Finding myself wide awake I got up rather than laying wide awake trying to sleep. For brekkie I had the last of the deluxe berry granola stuff. It was rather good, but (in all honesty) I rather expected to get more than four servings from the one packet of the stuff.
As I scoffed it I watched more “F is for Family”, then sparked up the Internet to see what had happened overnight. As it happened, for once not much had happened. Amazon had sent me several recommendations for books with recipes of various soups. They claimed this was based on items I’d previously purchased or reviewed from them. I don’t think so.
I opened my Advent Calendar, got dressed and set off.
As I walked to my car I watched a bus drive up the road. Usually the buses round our way have two or three passengers. This one was full. Standing room only; and this was at half past six in the morning. So many people up and about on buses so early. What was that all about?
Seeing how this is my last "routine" shift at Pembury before Christmas I thought I'd take in a tub or two of sweeties for everyone to share. I went to Asda; I suppose somewhere in the world there is a supermarket with a more morose workforce. Oh they were all *so* miserable.
With sweeties bought I drove to the car park by the sports centre. I had a parcel to collect from the sorting office and this was the closest car park. Seeing the traffic wardens lurking (they thought they were hiding) I paid for a parking ticket. I had been tempted not to; it was quarter to seven in a nearly empty car park and I would be there for only a very short while. But with the yellow peril lurking (actually they are green these days) I paid my one pound fifty pence (minimum fee) for ten minutes parking and I got my parcel. I've been waiting for that for two weeks; I shall mark the seller down on their eBay feedback. Two weeks is a tad long to have to wait when the stated expected delivery was last Friday
I drove off to work. Leaving Ashford ten minutes earlier made for much quieter roads. It is amazing how a few minutes makes all the difference in the morning. And with no road closures (for me) I had a good run in to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Prime Minister. I thought she might have taken the opportunity to be interesting, informative, and to sell her Brexit strategy to the nation. Instead she droned like a stuck record, told us that Parliament had three choices, and repeated that statement ad-nauseum for fifteen minutes. I didn’t bother listening for the full duration of the interview.
The pundits on the radio interview all sorts of people. It speaks volumes that the Prime Minister is one of the least interesting people they have on. Such a shame.
I got in to work. As the day went on so other people drifted in. There had been road closures to the north today which hadn't affected me but had affected seemingly everyone else.
As I worked I saw some stomatocytes. You don't see those every day. I shall write up the episode and tell one of the work-related Facebook groups about it. That should be good for an argument or two.
I came home via the KFC. With "er indoors TM" off at a funeral (and its aftermath) today I was left to forage for my dinner. In such situations I usually forage in the general direction of the KFC. I got a couple of extra crispy strips to share with the dogs as well.
We all scoffed whilst watching the last episode of the second season of “Prison Break”. A rather good show.
I should really open the parcel I picked up half a day ago… But I am taking a moral stance. My granddaughter has been given biology homework about the mechanics of the goolies. She is *far* too young to be dealing with that sort of thing…
7 December 2018 (Friday) - Busy, Busy
I slept reasonably well for once; I made a point of being up promptly because I needed to make a phone call at eight o’clock. I need another nasal re-bore. On November 4th 2014 I had one. With so many nasal polyps that I couldn’t breathe I had very little choice. Unfortunately they grew back within eighteen months, and I was due for surgery about the same time that I was due to start a new job. So I spoke to the nice lady at the hospital who said they would postpone the operation for a while… what with one thing and another, two years passed and I’d heard nothing. I eventually got through to the ENT clinic on Wednesday who said that because I’d left it too long I have to go back to the GP and start again. (*I’d* left it too long?).
The GP receptionist said that they would start the process and I didn’t need to see the GP when I phoned them, but they phoned me back an hour later to say that because I hadn’t been to see them for a few years they wanted to see me. Just in case. However they flatly refused to make an appointment at the time, and said I should phone on the morning of any day that suited me. I hinted that the reason they hadn’t seen me for years was that making an appointment isn’t easy, but they were having none of it.
However I managed to make an appointment for mid-day today.
Within minutes of "er indoors TM" setting off for work the dogs went mad as there was a knock on the door. The nice man from the plumber had come to service the boiler. You know it is nearly Christmas when the boiler gets serviced. The nice man fiddled about for twenty minutes (as he does every year) and was soon on his way.
My plan had been to then walk the dogs, but the rain was somewhat torrential, so I gave that idea a miss. Instead I had a look at the accounts, put some washing in to scrub, created a Google Document, loaded up some rubbish into the car, took old toys to the YMCA charity shop, did a tip run, bought new trousers and went to the doctor.
Doctors these days aren’t what they used to be. Back in the day they wouldn’t look like a passing vagrant. But I explained the story of my nose to the quack. He peered up it and told me there was a bloody great polyp up there (as though that was news to me). He said that because it was so huge, corticosteroid sprays wouldn’t be any good as it was blocking up the airway. He told me there was nothing to worry about, but he was going to refer me to the ENT people at the hospital. He seemed quite crestfallen when I said that I knew all of this, and that I was only there for the referral.
I wonder how long it will take.
I took the dogs round the road. It was still raining so we didn’t go far. Three dogs all on leads is hard work. I scoffed a sandwich whilst watching “Prison Break” then laid out the Lego train track. The basic shape is a circle seventy centimetres in diameter, I’ve identified a space; I’ve just got to clear out the rubbish now and get a table.
"er indoors TM" boiled up some fish and chips. I’ve been rather busy on a day off…
8 December 2018 (Saturday) - Ruckinge Woods
Fudge dossed down next to me on my bed last night and grumbled and growled at pretty much everything seemingly constantly. Fortunately he went downstairs at some point in the small hours and I got *some* sleep.
As I scoffed my brekkie "er indoors TM" went to move her car; round the corner is restricted parking. She was gone for less than a minute and the dogs went hysterical and would not be consoled. When I leave for work in the morning no-one bats an eyelid.
I was rather disappointed when I looked at the Internet this morning, Yesterday I unearthed a motorcycling jacket that once belonged to "My Boy TM" and a baby-carrying rucksack that we were going to use to lug "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" about in. Neither has been used for years, so I put them up on various Facebook selling sites. So far there is no interest in them. I was hoping someone might want them.
On the other hand, the article I wrote about stomatocytes had received over seventy “likes”.
And then I saw something which boiled my piss. I saw a video someone had posted. It featured a small dog yapping at an alligator. In the end the alligator killed the dog. I reported the video to the Facebook feds; they replied within minutes saying that the video didn’t breach their “community standards”.
I’ve complained about other things that haven’t breached their “community standards”. If gratuitous videos of oral sex or an alligator killing a dog, or a pack of hounds ripping a fox apart or race hate doesn’t breach Facebook’s standards, I can’t help but wonder what does. I’ve asked them; I doubt they will reply.Much as I like Facebook, it ain’t perfect.
Seeing that the weather was rather bright outside, and bearing in mind the forecast said it wouldn’t last we took the dogs out. Five new geocaches had gone live near Ruckinge in the week so we thought they might form the basis of a walk. And being nearby would give us a short drive for Pogo to get used to the car. He tends to “blow” on longer drives.
We parked up and had a rather good wander through the woods. It wasn’t *that* muddy really… it could have been a lot worse. As we walked we saw several squirrels. Treacle only saw one, but what she missed in numbers she made up for in enthusiasm. She really put her heart and soul into chasing it; a shame she’d not noticed that the thing had gone up the first tree it had seen and she was chasing shadows.
Geocache-wise… (engaging “rant mode”…) I’m sorry. I can’t recommend the series we walked today. It was put out by a scout group. That in itself tells you all you need to know. It has been my experience that scout groups put out caches for their geocaching badge with no experience of the hobby whatsoever and then loose interest *very* quickly. You really do need to look for scout caches pretty much right away because by the time they need any maintenance, the scouts are all off doing their wig-spotting badge or world domination badge, and the geocaching badge is but a happy memory.
There were some really well-made hides in Ruckinge woods; but they would have been better suited for an urban environment. You *don’t* put something the size of your thumbnail where something the size of a suitcase would be preferable. There were only five caches along a route which could easily have had twelve. And the route was a straight line; there and back again. Two minutes looking at the map might have devised a circular walk with a designated parking area.
Isn’t that all very negative of me? The last time I ran down a scout group’s geocaching efforts I was told I should go help them do it properly. I can’t say I’m keen to get involved; once they get their hooks into you, they never let go (I was a scout leader for thirteen years… my son was eight when I started – he was twenty-one when I got out).
I took a few photos while we walked. Once home I posted them up on-line as I scoffed a Belgian bun for lunch. We got Belgian buns from the co-op today; they do the best ones.
I then messed about with my Lego train layout to find out just how big a table I need for it. I’ll need one which is a metre deep by two metres long. Rather than buying one it might be cheaper to bodge it with a plank of wood from B&Q. I used to make snake vivariums… how hard can it be?
After a plate of sausage and chips "er indoors TM" went off to film night. I settled down in front of the telly with the dogs who eventually stopped looking for "er indoors TM" and went to sleep.
I quite like this Netflix..
9 December 2018 (Sunday) - Early Shift
I woke up full of beans and raring to go only to find it was eleven minutes past one. I then dozed intermittently for four hours. I didn’t have toast for brekkie as I couldn’t find any margarine to stick in it; I considered going to ask "er indoors TM" what she had done with it, but I thought she might not be overly approachable at half past five.
Mind you I found some raisin and almond granola in the cupboard. No full fat milk, but it’ll do. If only can get more than four servings out of the packet I might be on to something.
As I scoffed the granola I watched this week’s episode of “The Good Place” which was rather good. After a couple of rather lame episodes the show has perked up. I would have liked to have watched more, but Netflix are doing this “normal telly” thing where they are only releasing one episode per week. I wish they’d put out the entire season.
As it was far too early for anyone to have put anything at all onto Facebook I set off to work.
It was dark when I left home. Again the street lighting failed to illuminate anything. The roads were quiet as I drove to Pembury, as well you would expect before seven o'clock on a Sunday morning. Being a Sunday the talk on the radio was all of a religious nature. There was talk of the ex-catholic bishop of Birmingham being complicit in a cover-up. It was alleged that the son of author JRR Tolkien was a priest who'd used his position to abuse children, and that the bishop knew of this and tried to hush it all up.
Did the son of "Lord of the Rings" author take advantage of children? Did the bishop know about it? I don't know. I'm not trying to defend or accuse either of them, but we have a (sort-of) celebrity who has been safely dead for fifteen years being accused of all sorts of stuff that happened sixty years ago. How can anyone really have any sort of accurate and reliable memory of what happened so many years ago? I've said before (many times) that if I could find anyone still alive who was in the pantomimes at the White Rock Pavilion in Hastings in the late 1960s I will accuse them of doing all sorts of things to a rather small me. At this remove in history they would be utterly unable to provide any sort of plausible defence or alibi and would settle out of court to avoid the scandal.
The pundits also wheeled on some woman who was rattling on about the ethics and morals of journalism. Apparently a paid journalist working for a national newspaper can rant and take the moral high ground on a range of subjects whilst clearly and demonstrably talking out of their arse. Why? - because there is some ineffable quality about being a paid journalist working for a national newspaper which gives them a God-given right to do so. Apparently. However (so this woman said) one of the many ills of today's society is the upsurge of opinionated nobodies on the Internet writing daily blogs in which they make uneducated and ignorant make comments on things they clearly don't understand…
That's me told, then...
I got to Pembury in the shortest time I have ever done so. It took less than an hour - apart from red traffic lights I didn't actually stop once. Unheard of!
Once at work I made a bee-line for the canteen. They do a rather good cooked brekkie, you know. A plate of sausages, bacon, beans, mushrooms and hash brown set me up for the day; it was two hours after my first brekkie, after all.
I went into action and had a rather busy day. I sulked a little as I worked; it was a bright day outside, and today was my brother’s annual extended family get-together. It would have been good to have got along. "er indoors TM" told me it was a rather good session.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good lasagne this evening which we washed down with a bottle of “Dark Horse” Cabernet Sauvignon (posh red wine) while watching the last episode of the current season of “Doctor Who”. This episode wasn’t bad, but (in all honesty) it didn’t really have much with which to compete. Which is a shame.
10 December 2018 (Monday) - Late Shift
I slept reasonably well; though some nights my CPAP machine does give me a sore nose. Last night was one of them, and I did wake with a rather tender beak.
Over brekkie I had a look at Facebook. It suggested I joined a group supposedly concerned with traffic and travel in Kent. Bearing in mind the fun I’ve been having with the M20 and A21 recently I thought that might be a good idea… I had a look at the group. It was one big row about Brexit with neither side having the faintest idea about what the thing was actually about. Why is it that seemingly no one can get along without squabbling?
I saw that I had received a message through LinkedIn. Someone called Adam Walker (who apparently spends his time “bringing excitement to business through motorsport”?) wanted to know if I had arranged my Christmas do yet and wondered if I would like to zoom around Buckmore Park at high speeds. I had another contact request from someone involved with the management of football clubs in the South London area.
LinkedIn *really* is rubbish. I’m told it is “Facebook for professionals” but the closest I’ve ever come to any kind of professional contact is job agencies asking if I want to take up jobs based hundreds of miles away.
I got the leads on to the dogs, and we went out. Walking up the road was tricky. With the “terrible twins” on the double-ended lead and Fudge on a “standard” lead seemed a sensible proposition. But Fudge kept walking between the twins and knotting all the leads together. I wish he wouldn’t do that.
It was good to get to the park; what with longer working days last week and rain it is some time since I’ve been up to the park. We had a rather good walk; mainly because I watched Pogo like a hawk, and we kept well away from any other dogs which were on leads.
When I used to walk with just fudge it was delightful (mostly). When we added Treacle it became more like hard work. But with three, it is fast becoming a chore. Such a shame; Pogo is such a lovely dog. He’s loving, friendly, does as he’s told, and absolutely *hates* any other dog he sees which is on a lead.
With walk done I settled the hounds (who were already fast asleep) and drove into town. The roads round the town seemed bare without the Snow Dog statues. I had to visit the bank quickly, and then with the bank banked I drove up to Platt's Heath. The daughter of an old friend has moved there and we thought it would be really fun if I just turned up unannounced as she gets really bored during the daytime. I first met her when she was five years old; I've not seen her for ages. Her face would be a picture when she saw me...
I turned up to an empty house; she'd taken the baby out somewhere. Such a shame; I'd not seen her for years and was looking forward to seeing the baby too.
From Platts Heath I drove to Ditton. There is a geocache there that I've tried to find and failed. Armed with a little hint I eventually found the thing today. This one has a reputation for being hard to find... it wasn't *that* hard to find really. It was just a very good hide but with the given co-ordinates being about twelve metes out. But I found it - happy dance! I then spent a few minutes watching the trout swim past in the nearby river.
Mind you the happy mood soon ended at the petrol station. I'd got my petrol at the Aylesford Sainsburys (still cheaper than Ashford) and was about to drive off when some idiot woman flew through the forecourt, recklessly parked her car blocking absolutely everyone in, and then took an age to fanny around getting her petrol in her own sweet time. If any of my loyal readers know who drives the car SE07 OHY, please have a word.
As I was near the place I then popped in to Sainsbury's. I got a couple of bottles of wine and a Christmas cake. And a Christmas pudding too. The nice Sainsburys lady was giving away free samples. I had a rather huge one and felt I should really have one of her puddings. And buy a Christmas dessert too...
And so to work. In the past I would have had McLunch. These days I go to the works canteen. "Feathered steak" was rather good, and it set me up for a rather busy shift…
11 December 2018 (Tuesday) - Out for a Meal
I slept like a log; waking ten minutes before the alarm to find I was cuddling Fudge as though he was a teddy bear. Sometimes that dog can be incredibly soppy.
I scoffed a bowl of granola for brekkie whilst watching an episode of “F is for Family” then opened my Lego Advent Calendar. A train… that will give me something to think about today. I peered into the murk of cyberspace. It was much as I’d left it last night. But I had an email from Nectar saying that if I bought something in Sainsburys in the next two days they would give me five hundred Nectar points.
As I walked out of the house I saw the cars outside were covered in ice. My car (twenty yards down the road) wasn't. What was that all about?
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister has delayed Parliament’s vote on her Brexit withdrawal plan. Bearing in mind that everyone considers the thing to be down the toilet (with the turds), she has gone off to Brussels to beg the EU top-dogs not to pull the flush on it just yet. Even though the EU top dogs have told her to get bent. More than once.
The pundits were interviewing all sorts of people who were saying the Prime Minister should resign and were suggesting all sorts of people who might take over. No one actually wanted to be in the hot-seat themselves though. Who would?
There was also talk about how the Church of England has devised a religious service to celebrate the transition of transexual people from one sex to another. What is that all about? Presumably God stuffed up in the first place by putting them in what they see as the wrong body? So why would anyone thank God when they themselves have put right the mistake that they feel God made?
I don't understand religion.
I went to Sainsburys. I got some sugar and some sweeties for work (I'll dosh them out later in the week). I thought I might redeem my five hundred Nectar points that I'd had an email about. There was no five hundred Nectar points. Just like there was no hundreds of Nectar points when I connected my eBay account with my Nectar account.
The people at Nectar have promised me a lot of things... they haven't delivered on all of them. Yet.
I did my bit at work, and came home. I got to Ashford in the usual time; it then took me longer to get half a mile from junction nine to the Drover’s roundabout than it had taken to drive twenty-five miles from work.
This evening was rather good; we’d arranged a pre-Christmas meal. A dozen of us turned up at the French Connection. Burgers, beers, trifles, insults… not a bad way to spend an evening. Really should do it more often…
12 December 2018 (Wednesday) - Cheese Submarine
One of the advantages of recording my daily life is that I have a record of what I did and when I did it. On Saturday 7 October 2006 I went to a wedding where I necked twenty-one pints of London Pride. The next day I got up and built a fence. Last night I had one (rather iffy) pint of Tribute and a pint of San Miguel and this morning I felt like death warmed up.
As I suffered I watched the last episode of this season of “F is for Family” then turned to the Internet to see what I’d missed overnight. There was the usual political pro-and anti- Brexit stuff being bandied about on social media; neither side seemingly letting verifiable facts get in the way of a good rant. It does bother me that people are *so* quick to re-post any old lies or drivel with no care as to whether or not it is true, or how offensive it might be.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how the chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has been granted bail. Apparently she's arranged for her company to go against all sorts of sanctions that the USA has put in place against Iran.
They were saying on the radio that the Chinese constitution states that if the Chinese government was to ask Huawei for access to all the American data, then the firm is legally obliged to hand it over. No one saw that giving all sorts of government-related confidential telecommunication contracts to a Chinese firm was *not* going to keep very much secret…
In the same vein there was also talk about how the American army's secret information is going to be stored in cloud form controlled by servers belonging to various Russian oligarchs.
Does no one think any of this through?
Suddenly there was a "stop press!!" moment when some breaking news was announced. The Conservative Party's officials had received a flurry of letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister this morning. It was announced that there was to be an emergency vote of confidence in her abilities this evening.
Whilst she's doing a rather bad job (quite piss-poor, really), I doubt anyone could do better in the circumstances. And it was rather cowardly of her detractors to wait until she was out of the country before knifing her in the back. Over lunch I read something on Facebook which really sums up Mrs May's predicament.
"Two years ago the Prime Minister resigned because fifty-two per cent of the nation voted that the government should build a submarine out of cheese. Mrs May didn't think that building a submarine out of cheese was a good idea (or even possible), but in order to become Prime Minister she had to pretend it could be done. And to her credit that's what she did. Two years later she presented the nation with a submarine made out of cheese. As cheese submarines go, it was rather nice. Admittedly it was utterly unfit for the purpose for which it was intended. But what do you expect? It was a submarine made out of cheese.
However having built a rather crappy submarine out of cheese she is now faced with all sorts of people claiming that a less crap cheese submarine could have been built. Of course, they are all lying. You can't build a non-crap submarine out of cheese. It can’t be done. But Mrs May can't call anyone out on the matter because she's just spent two years claiming that she *could* make a decent submarine out of cheese.
There are now two obvious questions to be answered. Firstly whatever possessed Mrs. May to think she could build a decent submarine out of cheese in the first place, and secondly who on Earth feels that they or anyone else could now do better."
We had a rather good bit of dinner and a bottle of plonk and had a very enjoyable evening watching “Celebrity Lego Masters” whilst the members of Parliament were voting whether or not to keep on with Mrs. May.
It turned out she lived to fight another day. However her submarine is still made of cheese…
13 December 2018 (Thursday) - Rather Dull
After a reasonable night’s kip I opened my advent calendar, then watched last week’s episode of “South Park”. It was quite entertaining, but again I had the sneaking suspicion that I’d understand it a *lot* more if I was American.
Not much had kicked off on Facebook this morning (for once) so I took the opportunity to post a couple of birthday messages. I also looked at my Nectar account. The nice people at Nectar must have read my whinging from the other day as they’ve given me the bonus points that they promised. It is now one month since I got my Nectar account; in that time I have accrued points worth seven pounds and twenty-four pence. That might not seem much, but it is the price of a half-way decent bottle of plonk, and it is something for nothing.
With no emails of note I got dressed and set off, wondering where I’d left my car last night.
With the ice scraped off of my car I set off to work. As I drove, the pundits on the radio were interviewing Ian Duncan-Smith; a former leader of the Conservative party who had himself been ousted by a vote of no confidence. Just like the one the Prime Minster won last night. He was banging on about although he'd voted to give her the heave-ho, he never intended for her to get the push. He just felt she needed a short sharp shock. But it was clear from the others being interviewed that yesterday's snap vote of confidence in the Prime Minister was just a temporary diversion. The fact remains that her Brexit withdrawal bill is still dead in the water.
The Prime Minister is off to Brussels today to flog a dead horse, and the vote on her dead horse is now delayed until January. The whole Brexit thing is getting rather tedious now.
I did my bit at work. As I came out I looked into the sky wondering if I could see this comet that is supposedly up there somewhere in the general vicinity of the Pleiades.
I couldn't see it. You never can see these supposedly wonderful astronomical thingies. That's one of the reasons I packed up with the astro club. (That and the rather nasty and bitter personal attacks and being utterly blanked…)
With "er indoors TM" off at craft club this evening I shared my dinner with my dogs, then reminded myself of how Wherigos work.
Some days in my life are rather special. Days like today make me appreciate those days…
14 December 2018 (Friday) - This n That
I was *so* glad when the alarm went off this morning. I had been embroiled in a (literal) nightmare scenario in which Prince William had been shot by terrorists and (just like in “Doctor Who”) had regenerated into a transvestite version of Adrian Edmonson. I had been tasked by British intelligent to keep the news of “Princess Adrian” secret whilst “Princess Adrian” was loudly opening a primary school.
I wonder what my subconscious was trying to tell me there?
Over a bowl of granola I watched an episode of “People Just Do Nothing” before sparking up my lap-top. Facebook had made a friend suggestion to me. I won’t say wo the person in question was; let’s just say I knew him some twenty years ago; he was a manager at work. A slimy little weasel who got the elbow. The last I heard of him was that he was selling life insurance in Dover. He’s been suggested to me by the automated system at Facebook because he is Facebook friends with my cousin and an old school mate who both live in Hastings. I should have a word with them…
My in-box was equally devoid of anything of note, so I opened my advent calendar, got myself organised for the day.
As I walked to my car I had another look for that comet. I couldn't see it.
I drove off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about a leak from the on-going Brexit negotiations in Brussels where a meeting had been described as "bad". They were interviewing some Czech official who was quick to offer reassurances. A "bad" meeting isn't one which ends up in one big punch-up. A "bad" meeting is (apparently) one which starts off with no obvious clear outcome.
Surely the whole point of having a meeting is that there is no clear outcome to whatever is being discussed, and that the meeting is to discover that outcome? Presumably there are therefore "good" meetings which do kick off with the outcome already decided. I’ve been to some of those.
I can't help but wonder why anyone would ever waste time having a meeting that wasn't "bad", but there are those whose entire life is spent in meetings and seem to love it.
There was also a lot of talk about how the Army is seven thousand recruits short this year. Blame was a assigned to a failure of the company who looks after army recruitment. It was out-sourced a few years ago to an on-line system. The on-line system was four years late in being delivered and is so complicated that potential soldiers are finding that applying is too much hard work and are giving up at the keyboard rather than at the assault course.
Work was rather good; we had sweeties. Today was “Christmas Jumper Day”. My Christmas jumper once had flashing lights. They are long broken now. Perhaps it is time to get a new Christmas jumper; I might shop about in the January sales.
I came home and walked the dogs round the block. "er indoors TM" soon came home with "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" who is staying for the weekend. He asked if we might watch “Lube-Tube” (as he calls “You-Tube”, and that entertained him for about five minutes…
15 December 2018 (Saturday) - Wherigos, Stormageddon...
I woke full of energy and raring to go at four o’clock. So I did what I sometimes to in those situations. I got up, had a bit of brekkie, watched some telly and went back to bed.
I got up properly at half past eight. With "er indoors TM" having spent the night with "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" in the attic room, our bed hadn’t been filled out with dogs last night. Most restful.
Over brekkie I had a look at the Internet. There was much the same as ever filling out social media. Ranting and trivia abounded. I saw that some friends had gone to the Bruges Christmas market today. Others had gone last weekend. We went to Bruges last year. There had been talk of going to the Christmas market. I would like to have gone before Brexit effectively has the UK declaring war on Europe (!)… There were a few rants on Facebook about Brexit too. I nearly choked on my toast when one chap (who’s well-known locally for his bullying attitude) was chirping up about perceived Euro-bullying. Pots and kettles, pots and kettles.
Having a little time on my hands I produced a little pamphlet about spherocytosis and told the world about it. Or that part of the world that gets over-excited about that sort of thing. Doing so used to take up a large part of my time in a previous life; sometimes I miss it. But I have to show that I’m continually keeping up-to-date with all things work-related. Producing a Google document is the work of ten minutes, and the finished product does look rather special.
Leaving "er indoors TM", "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and the terrible twins at home, Fudge and I walked over to Singleton Lake where we met Karl and Charlotte. We had a rather good (if rather cold) morning playing Wherigos . We carried things over a bridge, we found the Illudium Q36 explosive space modulator, we played “rock paper scissors” against a badger.
The plan was to have a quick half in Singleton Barn and then go on out to Great Chart, but as we got to the pub so the rain started, so we spent an hour or so inside warming up and putting the world to rights.
We came home; "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" had been baking. I had some biscuits. I then dozed on the sofa whilst others went to the pet shop for dog food.
I woke to find a major melt-down was taking place. “Rabbids” on the Wii was clearly beyond a four-year-old’s abilities. Fortunately that stressy fit soon passed, but it was only to be replaced with other stresses. However, “Lube-Tube” came to the rescue. You’d be amazed how many kids’ videos there are on there.
Eventually he tired of the telly and helped put up the Christmas tree…
Having him to stay is hard work…
16 December 2018 (Sunday) - Xmas Cachers' Party
Just as I was about to got to bed last night my lap-top beeped at me. I’d been tagged in a post on Facebook. Stevey had nominated me to do the “book challenge” thingy. Every day for the next week I’ve got to post (on Facebook) the cover of a book I love. Every so often I publish on here a list of my favourite books; although it changes periodically, on the whole my top ten books have remained pretty much constant over the last ten years. I immediately replied by posting up a picture of what I consider to be the best book in the history of the universe (bar none); “The Mote in God’s Eye”, and went to bed.
For all that everyone was up in the attic room with "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" I had a restless night. Pogo came to see me several times. I got up for the loo just before five o’clock and found dog sick in the kitchen. Was it Pogo? He was sick a few times yesterday. For all that he is the biggest of the dogs and is something of a lump, he is very much the baby of the pack. I wonder if he has eaten something he shouldn’t? His sister does all the time.
I got up properly at eight o’clock. Bearing in mind I’m transmitting the advent calendar to the world every evening I thought I might make the book challenge a morning thing to space it all out a bit. After all there is only so much you can put on the Internet at once, isn’t there? I put up my second book choice: “Earth Abides”. A book I must have read over a hundred times. Like my first book choice, I am now on to the second copy of it as the first one fell apart from over-reading.
As "er indoors TM" fought with "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" to get him dressed I realised the soap in the bathroom was rather soggy. I had this plan to dry it out in the microwave. Not one of my better ideas…
We then drove littlun back to Margate where he immediately had something of a meltdown. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had been waiting for him to return so they might put up their Christmas decorations. "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" just wanted to play his computer game. We left them fighting and drove to Leybourne for the county geocachers’ Christmas meet.
It was rather a good meet; a chance to catch up with friends, a few beers, a good laugh, and quite a decent haul in the raffle.
I was presented with a trophy for my efforts for the noble pursuit of hunting Tupperware over the last year; I didn’t think I’d really done that much for the hobby recently. Others would seem to disagree with me.
I took quite a few photos today. I’ve commented recently how over the last year I’ve rather stepped back from the social side of geocaching a little. Perhaps I should get back into it a tad more?
I slept most of the way home. Perhaps the six pints and three large glasses of port had something to do with that?
Once home we woke sleeping dogs. Treacle had a good woof at the balloon we’d brought home, and we had a cuppa and slice of cake (raffle prize).
"er indoors TM" has gone bowling. I wonder what’s on telly?
17 December 2018 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept reasonably well even if my phone did rattle and beep for no reason during the night. Over brekkie I posted my “book challenge piccie” (day three – “Brideshead Revisited”) then had a look at the Internet. I got a tad wound up by what someone had posted on the local “Ashford” Facebook page in which he was listing all the local restaurants and was grumbling about businesses that aren’t in the town. This chap wasn’t at all happy that more restaurants were opening and seemed to feel that “someone” should do something about it. It annoys me that people don’t understand that this is how capitalism works; people set up their own businesses. If he wants a pet shop, or a book shop then he should start one himself. It’s no good whinging at a local council and a county council over things that are beyond their control.
There were also people complaining about the unfortunate lot of the local cyclists. They seem to be universally hated. While I have some sympathy for lycra louts, the cycling community isn’t entirely blameless. As I drove to work in the morning half an hour before dawn every day last week I lost count of the amount of cyclists that were all in black with no lights cycling all over the roads with no regard for anyone else.. Or take the middle-aged cyclist who flew along the cycle path at Singleton Lake on Saturday morning at 11am shouting abuse at pedestrians as he went because they were walking within two feet of the cycle path. Or the cyclist who swerved off of the cycle path in Viccie Park a couple of weeks ago as he tried to kick two different dogs for no apparent reason.
I got the dogs organised, and we went for a little walk round the park. Pogo tried to pick a fight or two as we walked up the road, but once we were at the wetlands park they came off of their leads, and the walk went rather better than I had been expecting. Whilst we didn’t actually play nicely with other dogs, we had a sniff, and there were no squabbles.
It was a rather good morning for a walk; the mist was rather pretty.
Once home I settled the dogs and set off to Tenterden. I had a plan. I would park in the car park on the left as I drove through and have a look in some of the shops. I would drive out to try to find a geocache which was up for resuscitation, and on the way back the Old Dairy brewery would then be on the left. That way I could avoid any right turns across Tenterden High Street.
I got to Tenterden as planned. I parked and went to the shops. I’ve never seen such a rude and ignorant bunch as the shop-keepers in Tenterden. They all looked at me as though I was something they’d just stepped in, and each one broke off talking to me in mid-conversation when another customer walked into their shops.
I drove down to Sedlescombe, totally failed in my geo-mission, and drove back. As I drove I found myself passing Sedlescombe vineyard. I thought I’d have a look in their shop.
I didn’t get as far as the shop. The car park was on a forty-five degree slope. I didn’t fancy leaving the car there; I drove on to the Old Dairy brewery. I got some Christmas beer; I got some abuse from a passer-by because I was wearing my hoodie from the Ringwood brewery.
I came home via Sainsburys. I needed some lunch and some lagers for Christmas (just in case) and other bits and bobs. It only took twenty minutes to get into Sainsburys. The car park was a nightmare, and the shop was heaving. There is still a week to go until Christmas; you would think it was the end of the world.
I was *so* glad to get home. My little road trip had been something of a disaster. I scoffed some lunch whilst watching an episode of “Prison Break” and then sorted undercrackers until the washing machine finished. Then an hour was spent ironing shirts and trousers.
It wasn’t long before "er indoors TM" was home. We had a rather good bit of dinner, then with her off bowling I settled in front of the telly with the dogs.
I had so much planned for today’s rostered day off…
18 December 2018 (Tuesday) - Before the Night Shift
When one of the dogs has a restless night, so does everyone else. If I had been on a day shift today I would have phoned in sick after the sleepless night I had. If the cover wasn’t being pulled off of me, I was being trampled over.
I gave up trying to sleep.
Over toast I had a look-see at the Internet. A friend of a friend had taken offence. The friend had posted an anti-Brexit post to which the friend-of-a-friend had replied with a rant. I’m sure there are many and various good reasons for Brexit but this woman hadn’t given any. Her argument was that if she considers something to be true then it automatically is so, and doubting her word gives personal offence. I pointed out the principles of reasoned debate, and she got the arse.
I posted up today’s book (The Many Coloured Land – fourth of seven) then had a look at my in-box. Amazon were (again) suggesting I buy that which I’ve already bought from them. Angling Direct had sent yet another email (they promised me it would be once a week at most!). LinkedIn hasn’t sent anything (for once) and there was a message from a friend about a possible geo-adventure in France. But perhaps the most interesting was from the council. Apparently they have been out and checked the street lighting round our way. They are in something of a quandary in that for all that the light meters show that the illumination is at the requisite level, it is still too dark to see anything. Interestingly the south Ashford Community Forum have also been complaining about the poor lighting on the footbridge between Victoria Road and Elwick Place. The council have responded by closing the steps to the bridge.
I see that as an admission that the lighting is inadequate.
It came as something of a surprise to find that "er indoors TM" was off work today. Together we took the dogs round the park. Walking three dogs is *so* much easier with help, and a day at home before a night shift is much less lonely with company.
We had a rather good walk round the park. Pogo did play nicely with other dogs today. We met “OrangeHead” and her posse. I didn’t quite laugh out loud, but she is so funny. When I meet her on her own she is chatty. When she is with her posse, she doesn’t say a word. She leaves the talking to her cronies; clearly seeing conversing with the proles as being beneath her.
With dogs walked we came home and over coffee and cake watched “Death on the Tyne”; a UKTV special for Christmas. It was rather good apart from a costuming blunder in which the epaulettes of the ship’s first officer kept changing from one shot to the next. Watch the show and watch his epaulettes. In one scene he will have three bars on them. The camera moves to another character and comes back to the chap who now has four bars on his shoulder. The camera cuts to someone else, comes back and his shoulder has three bars again. And so it catties on changing for the whole show.
You would have thought that continuity people would have sorted something so obvious.
I went to bed for the afternoon. Bearing in mind the terrible night’s sleep I’d just had I would have thought I would have slept rather better. I got up to find "er indoors TM" watching “The Secret Life of Pets” on Netflix. She then spent a few minutes trying to get the dogs to wear Christmas collars and hats.
Fudge wasn’t having any of it.
We’ll have dinner in a minute… then the night shift…
19 December 2018 (Wednesday) - Between the Night Shifts
During a break for a cuppa in the small hours during last night’s night shift I saw that an American friend of mine had taken up the book challenge on Facebook, and quite a literary discussion was going on. I saw that as something of a result.
And with the night shift done I came home through a very wet and windy morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking to the Home Secretary about his plans for the immigration policy of a post-Brexit Britain. He dismissed the concerns of hospital chiefs who have made it quite clear that they are dependent on immigrant workers (what *do* you do when not a single UK national applies for a given job despite its being advertised time and again?). And after dodging several direct questions and then claiming that he was very clear on his policy I think it is fair to say he is completely out of his depth and hasn’t got a clue what he is doing.
I had intended to take the dogs out on getting home, but the rain put paid to that idea. Instead I had a quick look-see at the Internet. Not much had changed since I’d last looked at six o’clock. I posted up my fifth book of the ongoing book challenge (Arthur C Clarke’s “The Songs of Distant Earth”) then went to kip.
I woke about mid-day finding myself somewhat constricted by two dogs on top of the duvet on either side of me. I hoiked them over, and went back to sleep. Apart from that and two “Red Alerts” (one from Pogo, one from Fudge; both false alarms) I slept reasonably well. I finally emerged from my pit just before four o’clock. It was still raining.
I gave the world today’s installment of the Lego calendar saga. The world seems appreciative so far.
"er indoors TM" should be home soon. She was on another day off today and had taken "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" to see Santa. I would like to have gone. If I wasn’t working again tonight I would have gone. But I’m getting too old to be able to manage with that little sleep.
(I’ve asked management if I can do night shifts one-at-a-time. They’ve said they will see if they can accommodate it. Here’s hoping.)
A bit of dinner – I’m off to work again. The day between the night shifts is usually dull. Today was no exception.
20 December 2018 (Thursday) - After The Night Shift
As I drove home after a rather busy night shift I found myself listening to the radio in a sense of disbelief. With Mrs May surely poised to go down in history as one of the worst Prime Ministers that the country has ever had (and that is up against some pretty stiff competition), the pundits on the radio were all a-twitter that the Leader of the Opposition allegedly called her a “stupid woman”.
He says he didn’t.
What with all the problems the nation faces it speaks volumes that this is headline news. How ironic that the nation should have (possibly) its most useless Prime Minister at *exactly* the same time as it has its (apparently) most incompetent Leader of the Opposition. No matter how much of a stuff-up Mrs May makes of Brexit (and consequently the country), the vast majority of people would still prefer her over Mr Corbyn.
Is he really as bad as he is painted? I doubt it, but he’s made quite a reputation for himself. Sometimes I wonder if him and his deputy Diane Abbott are actually secret agents for the Conservative party whose mission is to make the Labour party unelectable. It pains me that they are doing a *very* good job of it.
There was also talk on the radio that the House of Commons is now packing up for its Christmas break. That’s nice for them. I understand quite a few people are also starting their Christmas holidays now. Good for them. I must admit to a twinge of jealousy. But only a twinge.
I get quite a bit of stick about the hours I work (or don’t work). Most of it is good natured; some isn’t. There’s no denying that I seem to have a *lot* of free time during the year. Like today. Quite often I am off on jollies and pub crawls and walks and stuff in my rostered time off when everyone else is taking a day’s holiday.
However the flip side of that is this time of year.
I *seem* to have a lot of time off because I work the same amount of hours as everyone else, but I work them in a place that never closes. Where everyone else does their work-time nine-to five on Mondays to Fridays (and Bank Holidays off), my working hours can be any time of night or day, any day of the year. Whilst everyone else is now breaking up for the Christmas holidays and firms are closing for up to a two-week break, I’m not. This year I shall be at work until nine o’clock on Christmas Eve. Mind you this year I’m off on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day which is something of a result. I’ve worked three of the last four Christmas Days.
I came home to three rather excited dogs. The torrential rain had finally stopped, and it was a bright morning. I took the wolf-pack for a little walk. We did our usual circuit in reverse.
The co-op field was a swamp, and the area in the park below the Chinese garden was under quite a bit of water. Chest-deep on Pogo. I made a little video of them playing in the flood.
Having pinched another dog’s tennis ball, Pogo then played nicely with a little Jack Russell we meet from time to time. This little dog is a timid hound; having been attacked by a large Alsatian he is usually a bag of nerves. It was good to see him playing nicely with Pogo (of all dogs). It was such a shame that Pogo had to then pick a fight with a passing Collie.
We came home; "er indoors TM" had left me orders to unblock the dishwasher. The hose to the drain was rather badly clogged with what looked like dog hairs.
With dishwasher unblocked I had a scrub, and managed two hours asleep in bed before Fudge declared “Red Alert”; the postman had the audacity to deliver some letters.
I got up to see what he had delivered. There was a letter from the GP about my referral to the ENT people. The GP had sent me login details so I could book my own appointment on-line. He *could* probably have given me those when I saw him two weeks ago.
I logged on; the website banged on about how important it was that I had a choice of to where I could be referred. I had a choice of one hospital. The website also said that the average wait for an appointment was eight days, and then didn’t offer me anything earlier than March. Once I’d booked it all it asked if I’d like to take part in a customer satisfaction survey. I did so, told them how crap it all was, and was asked if I’d like to join some on-line community of what looks like whingers and troublemakers. I said I’d give it a go; looks like I would be at home there.
Postie had also delivered the invoice for the boiler service that was done the other week. I paid that on-line, then told the world about my sixth choice of book for the book challenge.
“Three Men in a Boat” is a classic. Everyone has heard of it; I doubt one person in a thousand has read it. I first read it over thirty years ago. I still laugh out loud at parts of it. Despite being written in an age before mobile phones and the Internet (twenty-five years before the First World War), people then were just the same as people now. If anyone takes up only one of my book choices, this would be the one to go for.
I emptied the washing machine, hung out laundry round the radiators and put another load in; if only to check the drain wasn’t leaking from where I’d had it all apart earlier. I then made myself a cuppa and had a mince pie with it. "er indoors TM" had left orders that I was to eat them. One box of mince pies is for visitors and for show. The other one (the one that Treacle has had) is for me to get scoffed as quickly as possible.
I did have all sorts of stuff I could have done, but two night shifts had done for me so I slobbed in front of the telly watching episodes of “Prison Break” until "er indoors TM" came home. We had a rather good bit of dinner and a bottle of plonk. Not too shabby…
21 December 2018 (Friday) - Another Rostered Day Off
I slept like a log. I got up and over brekkie told the world my seventh (and final) choice for the book challenge thingy. Today was Asimov’s “Second Foundation”; I couldn’t not have anything by Asimov, could I?
Coming up with seven books over the last week has been rather difficult. There are so many books I could have put on to the list; in the end I went with old favourites; books I have read countless times over thirty years (or more). (Perhaps I should do a challenge of more recently- discovered treasures?)
Tomorrow I might publish a list of runners-up.
I spent a little while looking at today’s offering from the Advent Calendar wondering what on Earth I was going to say about it, then got dressed. I took the dogs out for a walk. I was planning on the route we took yesterday, but half-way across the co-op field I changed direction. There is a chap with a large red setter who when he sees us insists on fussing the dogs and making sure they play with his dog incessantly. Don’t get me wrong - I like my dogs to play with other dogs. For a while. But if this chap wants a life-long playmate for his dog then he should get another dog of his own and not try to hijack mine.
Narrowly avoiding being delayed for most of the morning we took a circuitous route in to the back of the park and had a rather good walk along a very full river. Bowens field wetland park was very wet; while we were there I made another video of the dogs playing. Watching the video might be a bit disconcerting - I wish Fudge wouldn’t snarl so. I’m reliably informed that it is a sign that he is happy and excited, but it sounds terrible.
With walk walked I settled the hounds and drove round to collect "My Boy TM". We drove down to Rocky’s café for a fry-up, and then walked over to the fishing tackle shop where I got him his Christmas pressie. I am a great believer in having someone tell me what they want for a pressie rather than being polite and trying to hide their disappointment when I have bought totally the wrong thing. Mind you although I have bought *exactly* what he wanted, I’ve brought it home with me. He will unwrap it in four days’ time and pretend to be surprised. Them’s the rules(!).
I came home and got out the ironing board. With so much that I could have done today, I ironed for a bit. As I ironed, I watched the latest film that Netflix had been touting. Bird Box was… well, I’ve spent a little while trying to phrase it better, but it was crap. The premise was nonsensical; the world has been taken over by invisible demons that send you mad when you look at them, and so the only way to stay sane is to walk round with a blindfold on. Sandra Bullock’s character wasn’t likeable, and as a film with (effectively) only one main character that didn’t make for good viewing. And Sandra Bullock’s character was pregnant. Pregnant? She’s only five months and five days younger than me and I’m a grandparent.
Basically if you liked films like “28 Days Later” or “Day of the Triffids” you will think this is the sort of thing you’d like, and you’d be disappointed.
I did a little C.P.D. (it’s a work thing) then dozed on the sofa for an hour or so until all three dogs started barking for no reason whatsoever. Having been woken I watched some “Prison Break” then put up today’s instalment of the Lego Advent Calendar. Today I’d opened the window to find a candy cane with a clock on it. With no idea whatsoever I just used it as a backdrop. I’ve only three days to go with the calendar… people seem to like it though.
With "er indoors TM" off at her works Christmas party I was left “home alone” with the dogs. We watched more “Prison Break”. Or that is I did. Fudge and Treacle slept on either side of me, and Pogo watched from the other sofa. He looked as though he was about to cry. There was room for him with us, but he sat and sulked.
I worry too much about these dogs…
22 December 2018 (Saturday) - Locked Out
I had something of an early night last night. Just as I was nodding off I heard a sniffing. Fudge was by the side of the bed. I picked him up and we were soon both out for the count until "er indoors TM" and the rest of the wolf-pack came to bed at half past two. Pogo then spent much of the rest of the night stomping about keeping me awake. I eventually nodded off just before the alarm went off.
Over brekkie I watched the Christmas episode of "Bottom" (Gold, Frankenstein and Grrr) then set off to work. It was too early for the usual news on the radio; instead there was some utter drivel being broadcast about how farmers try to supplement their meagre incomes at this time of year. There is nothing more infuriating to me than someone who is demonstrably wealthier than I am who is banging on about how hard-up they are.
I turned the radio off and sang along to my frankly terrible choice of music.
With a little time on my hands I stopped off for McBrekkie. I quite like a sausage and egg McMuffin. So does the vast majority of Kent police judging by the amount of police cars in the car park and the amount of coppers stuffing their faces with McScoff. Far be it from me to advocate organised crime, but if I was a villain who was planning something nefarious, I'd have a stooge keeping watch on the Mc-Car-Park to let me know when all the forces of the law were busy feeding their faces.
Work was work, and having done my bit I came home to a locked house. "er indoors TM" had gone shopping and I couldn’t find my keys. I made a quick phone call to work - my keys were in the lock of my locker. Whoops!
I popped round to borrow the spare from "My Boy TM".
Once finally home I had something of a doze until "er indoors TM" came home. We then went to Tesco to get the Christmas food shopping. Tesco wasn’t *quite* as manic as it might have been; we blew over a hundred quid on food we didn’t really need. But what is Christmas for, if not to buy satsumas, dates and nuts to throw away in the New Year.
We got the shopping home; Treacle made a start on the Wensleydale. That dog is getting a bit above herself. There was minor chaos as Brian and Rachel came round to collect some bits and bobs. They brought their little girl dog. Both Pogo and Fudge tried to hump her. They don’t usually do that sort of thing. I pointed out that it wasn’t the polite thing to do, but my remonstrations fell on deaf ears.
It will soon be dinner time. I might make a start on the stout…
23 December 2018 (Sunday) - Rain Stopped Play
I would have slept better if I hadn’t had to keep moving dogs seemingly all night long. They do make themselves comfortable at my expense. Much like I was doing to them, really.
I opened my Advent Calendar, then had some brekkie as I listened to the rain outside. We had plans for a walk today. We *could* have gone out… and got soaked through. One wet dog is a nuisance. Three wet dogs isn’t really practical. The walk will still be there when the rain stops.
I had a look at Facebook. There were some rather disparaging posts about Ashford’s new cinema. I can’t understand why anyone would build a cinema in this day and age. For the price of two people seeing one film you can get three months’ worth of Netflix. And watch it in the comfort of your own living room where the sweeties aren’t three times the price of Tesco and the Great Unwashed aren’t burping and farting all around you.
We took the dogs round the park. The needed a walk, and going round the park means they can go straight into scrub on finishing the walk, and we don’t find ourselves trying to have a crafty pint with wet muddy dogs running riot. As we went round the park we saw the kiddies Park Run was in full flow. A few dozen kids of various ages were being forced to run round the park by parents who should have known better. Not one child looked like they wanted to be there, and a few of the smaller girls were crying as they ran.
We met OrangeHead who wasn’t happy. Her dog had been wilful. That was brave of him.
Once home we scraped mud from the dogs, got on dry clothes, and drove out to Brenchley. The weather was certainly against a day’s walk, but we could still meet up and have the post-walk-pint though. The Halfway House in Brenchley is the ideal pub for the ale lover. With ten barrels of ale on, they do a rather good dinner too.
We kicked off with a pint of Tunbridge “Rustic”. Karl, Tracey and the girls soon arrived and we celebrated with a pint of Ringwood’s “forty-niner”. A pint of Young’s “Special” was supped as an aperitif, and then a rather good dinner of liver and bacon was washed down with a pint of the Gun brewery’s “Scaramanga”. And a plate of Christmas pudding was accompanied by half a pint of the Cellar Head Brewing Company’s “IOS 18”. There are those who might mock beer by the half-pint. Generally those who mock aren’t the sort of people who drink beer of 8.7% ABV.
It was such a shame that the weather had been against a walk today, but it was really good to have met up for dinner.
I slept much of the way back to Ashford.
Before going home we called in to say hello to "My Boy TM" and his entourage. We chatted for a bit; I fussed Rolo. He’s a good dog. I was offered a beer… if only there had been beer rather than lager.
"er indoors TM" has gone bowling. I shall make myself comfortable in front of the telly, and try not to doze off…
24 December 2018 (Christmas Eve) - Back In The Day
The dogs had a restless night last night, and consequently so did I. Apparently Treacle was sick shortly after I dozed off. "er indoors TM" cleared it up; I cleared that which Fudge brought up after having eaten far too much brekkie.
Over a little brekkie of my own I had a look at the Internet. It was still there. I didn’t get much of a look at it as treacle jumped on to the lap-top and tried to fight me. She does that from time to time. Presumably she’d recovered from whatever made her throw up in the night?
"er indoors TM" put Christmas collars on to the dogs. Fudge got his off within seconds (he *hated* it) and it wasn’t long before Pogo and Treacle were playing tug-o-war with it.
We got ourselves and the hounds organised and went for a little walk round the park. As we went up the road one of the local tramps was having a tiddle up the side of the church. A surfeit of special brew at half past nine? Well, it is Christmas.
We walked round Bowens field int the park. Although it wasn’t raining (such an improvement on yesterday) it was still very damp underfoot. As we walked Pogo picked a couple of fights. All with dogs on leads. He’s fine with other dogs all the time they aren’t on leads.
With walk walked we came home and I told the Internet about this year’s last instalment of the Lego Advent calendar, then got myself ready to set off in the general direction of work.
As I drove I didn't have the radio playing its usual brand of drivel. Instead I listened to a CD. "Mr Hankey's Christmas Classics" got me into quite the festive mood. Something which has been somewhat lacking for me this year. I sand along to all the old favourites as I drove up the motorway.
I soon got to work; the pre-Christmas buffet was in full flow. I scoffed myself silly. And then I did OK in the Secret Santa draw - a book about fishing, a slab of chocolate and a bottle of rather decent ale. Apparently I was one of the easier choices of people to have in the "Secret Santa" draw; one look at my Facebook feed told everyone that anything fishing-or beer- related would be appreciated. As would anything geocaching, but no one really knew what that was all about...
We had a rather busy day at work. As I worked I found myself reflecting on my first ever Christmas Eve at work; Christmas 1981. And all the Christmasses back in the day. For a few years, on Christmas Eve work stopped at mid-day and everyone but the boss went to the pub. The boss stayed behind and did what little work there was whilst we drank in the pub. I can remember being absolutely legless by half past twelve. We would drink until about half past two when we would stagger back to work; arriving at three o'clock. Much the same time as the night shift (who would get in *very* early). The night shift would take over, and we would then drink a small glass of whiskey with the boss (pretending we liked it) until we all staggered off to our various homes just after four o'clock.
Things were very different back then. Today I was rather non-stop until the night shift arrived at nine o’clock.
I miss the old Christmas Eves at work…
25 December 2018 (Christmas Day) - The Evening Was Good...
As I came home last night there was a burglar alarm making noise on the house two door up the road. I reported it to Kent police who (to be fair to them) came out right away. They had a look round the house, didn’t find any burglars, and cleared off leaving the thing still making noise. I phoned the police again at half past eleven. Apparently the police have no control over burglar alarms; it is quite legal and acceptable for a burglar alarm to make noise all night long, but if I go out and clout it with a hammer, that constitutes criminal damage.
New-next-door came home about midnight and all went quiet. Apparently they’d somehow “disconnected” it. I wonder if the alarm survived the process? I hope not.
I didn’t sleep well. When I am wide awake in the small hours I sometimes get up and watch telly. I watched an episode of “Bottom” at three o’clock (nudey wombles), put the dishwasher on, and went back to bed for an hour or so. I tried to sleep; I got up at six o’clock for a shave and to empty the dishwasher before trying to sleep again.
I got up at eight o’clock. "er indoors TM" stayed asleep.
Over toast I had a look at the Internet. Some Muslim friends had proudly posted photos of the Christmas decorations in their house; clearly showing that Christmas is no longer a “Christian” thing (if it ever was). And then I had an email – a new geocache had gone live not ten miles away. I leapt into action and sped out to the back of beyond. Joe and Andrea had parked their car two minutes before me, but a joint First to Find and climbing a tree before nine o’clock on a Christmas morning can’t be bad.
With the First to Find found, "er indoors TM" and I took the dogs for their morning constitutional. They don’t understand nonsense like Christmas. As we walked we smiled sweetly at all sorts of people. Several people were out on new bikes and new go-karts and new scooters. Pogo only picked two fights.
We came home and did the pressie thing. I had a rather good haul. We then started a bit of a tidy-up in readiness for the tribal gathering tomorrow. I say “we started”; "er indoors TM" worked wonders; I spent much of the afternoon asleep on the sofa with Fudge.
I eventually awoke, and having settled the pups we walked round the road where we spent a rather good evening being pampered by friends. Meats, prawns, cheeses, champagne, probably half a bottle of port just for me.
We really should do that sort of thing more often.
"er indoors TM" is now asking Siri how to boil up a turkey. I’m not getting involved…
26 December 2018 (Boxing Day) - Tribal Gathering
As I walked the dogs home from the park this morning (only one fight – not too shabby) a passing poorly-tattooed skinhead thug had a serious go at me. I was really wrong to have bought two staffie pups for Christmas. As I wondered what he was talking about he continued rating that only a f…. f….f….. gets a puppy for Christmas and I was a seriously f… f… f… for having got two. I considered telling him that they weren’t puppies but were two years old, however judging by how drunk he was (at nine o’clock) I didn’t think it was worth the aggro of getting involved in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
With dogs walked we tidied up the living room and got as organised as we could. It wasn’t long before the fruits of my loin and their various accomplices were gathered. We nearly had the full tribe together, but oldest grandson was off at his mother’s for the day. We started off with drinks, and then "er indoors TM" excelled herself. Two different home-made soups, turkey, spuds, parsnips, carrots, sprouts… far too much to eat. And then chocolate cake and Christmas pudding.
Some then played a few hands of cards, others played “Beat the Flush” ("Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" ‘s toilet-based game). We scoffed cheese and pickles until we all felt sick, then had the customary Christmas cigar. I do like a cigar; I have about one every two years these days.
Not a bad day really -I feel incredibly bloated right now…
That’s Christmas done for another year.
27 December 2018 (Thursday) - Back to Work
Another restless night; I’m sure being able to breathe would go some way to being able to sleep. Mind you having eaten far too much yesterday probably didn’t help either.
Over some toast I sparked up Netflix and watched an episode of “Bottom” (the Ferris wheel – emergency bitter – Deidre McFrenzy) then had a look at the Internet. Facebook was remarkably busy at half past six on the day after Boxing Day. Quite a few people were selling unwanted Christmas pressies. On the one hand I felt that was rather ungrateful; on the other hand (as I said a few days ago) it’s far better to ask someone what they want before guessing wrongly.
I also checked my in-box. Amazon was suggesting I bought stuff in which I had no interest whatsoever, and LinkedIn was suggesting I chummed up with some bloke who runs an old people’s home in Bromley. (Why?)
I stuck yet another load into the dishwasher, and taking great care to let sleeping dogs (and "er indoors TM") lie I set off to work.
Today was rather a frosty morning. As I drove I couldn't help but notice how quiet the roads were. Most people were still on their Christmas break. As I drove I listened to the radio. Over the Christmas period Radio Four's news and current affairs program is turned over to a series of guest editors who run a series of articles about whatever nonsense floats their boat. I'm not sure who today's guest editor was, but whoever it was, they clearly had issues. There was a *lot* of talk about environment stuff which are *very* important but saying that "man-made" climate change can only be reversed by “feminist” policies is rather insulting.
They then wheeled on some vicar to blather on for the "Thought for the Day". This chap was banging on about how good the BBC's adaptation of "Watership Down" had been, and he then proceeded to give quite a few spoilers about the show. I've not seen it yet; I wasn't impressed.
I did my bit at work on a rather quiet day and made good time home on rather empty roads. Once home I saw that "er indoors TM" had been busy tidying up. She’d also made a rather good turkey curry. We scoffed it whilst watching “The Lady in the Van”; a film I’ve been intending to watch for ages. It was rather good…
28 December 2018 (Friday) - Radio, Telly
I slept reasonably well I suppose. Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Bottom” in which out heroes enjoyed “Sprouts Mexicaine” and found that little Dave Hedgehog’s daughter Doreen wasn’t actually Satan.
I sparked up my lap-top to see what (if anything) had been going on in cyberspace overnight. Yesterday evening I’d read an advert on Facebook on one of the local selling pages. Would I like to lose ten kilogrammes in a month? I asked how much it would cost and had received a private message of a whole load of corporate-speak. I again asked how much, and this morning was told it would be a shade under two hundred quid. Two hundred quid? I can lose weight by counting the calories and going hungry, and spend the savings on Lego.
With nothing else of note going on I got dressed and set off to work. As I drove through a rather dark morning I listened to the radio. Today's guest editor was Angelina Jolie who started the show off with a denial of an article run by yesterday's guest editor. Yesterday the pundits had been talking about the plight of some Arabian princess who was supposedly in fear for her life. Today they wheeled on this princess's solicitor who denied everything that had been broadcast yesterday (even though this chap admitted to never having seen her). There were several other articles which didn't grip my attention at all, and there was a rather harrowing expose on female genital mutilation in the Democratic Republic of Congo which I thought was rather graphic for ten past eight in the morning.
"Thought for the Day" was given by the world-famous archbishop Desmond Tutu who was a grave disappointment. He droned on and on, and he might as well have repeated the phrase "blah, blah, platitude" for five minutes for all the sense he made.
I wonder if the BBC might be better off re-thinking the idea of having guest editors; so far they haven't made for very interesting radio.
I stopped off at Aldi for jam and went in to work. During a tea break I phoned my mum - it is her birthday today. She seemed well, which was a result.
Work was rather busy, and with my bit done I came home to find "er indoors TM" had made a rather good bubble & squeak which we scoffed with cold meats and stout. As we scoffed we watched the Christmas episode of “Trollied” which is apparently the last one which will be made. On the one hand it’s a shame they are calling time on such a good show. On the other hand it is good that the thing ends on a high.
We then watched “Alice in Wonderland”; a rather good film which I have watched before (on Thursday 17 January 2013) but apart from it featuring Matt Lucas as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum I didn’t remember it at all. It was rather good…
29 December 2018 (Saturday) - Flogging Stuff
Yesterday evening I unearthed my old astronomical web-cam. Sometime in February 2011 I spent a hundred and thirty quid buying a web-cam that would fit into a telescope so’s I could fart around taking photographs of things in space. It only took one frustrating night shivering in the darkness for me to realise what hard work doing so could be. And I only had to type “astronomical photograph” into Google to get far better photos that I or anyone on Earth could ever get (because you can get them direct from the Hubble space telescope). That web-cam has since been lurking behind my sofa gathering dust for seven years. I dug it out and dusted it off and had this naïve idea that I might sell it. Comparable things are on eBay for over two hundred quid. Last night I put it on several local selling pages, and this morning I woke to find it had garnered absolutely no interest whatsoever.
Mind you I did manage to shift it later. I shall squander the profit on a 1970s Lego café that I have had my eye on for some time.
Over brekkie I read something on one of the local Facebook community pages. Apparently a bunch of teenagers are causing havoc round the town. As usual the police aren’t interested (one can’t help but wonder why we have a police force); everyone is whinging and a couple of people were advocating being vigilantes. I wonder if it will come to that?
I had a look at the household accounts. Could be better; could be worse. Either way flogging that web-cam would be a bonus.
We drove round to collect "My Boy TM" and together we all went to “Go Outdoors”. Over the summer when I was looking for a trolley for my fishing gear no one was selling them for under two hundred quid. But when he wants one, “Go Outdoors” are knocking them out at sixty quid if you have a “Go Outdoors” loyalty card. He doesn’t have one, but his dad does.
We also had a look at B&M bargains as we were nearby. When I worked in Canterbury I was in that shop several times each week. I quite miss the place; it is sort-of a budget version of Aldi but with far more cheap tat that will end up in the dustbin.
The plan was to then drive on to Margate to see "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM", but with the most recent fruit of my loin being poorly we came back to Ashford. First of all to Angling Direct where I squandered some of my Christmas money on a rather good reel (for fishing). And then on to Brookfield café for a very tasty bit of dinner. Mine was rather good. A mixed grill of all sorts of meat… did I want chips or salad with it? Let me think…
I think the nice lady in the café made a mistake – she only charged twenty quid for the three of us. Something of a bargain.
We came home and took the dogs round the park. We met several other dogs. There was sniffing and playing but not a single fight (if you don’t count squirrels), which was something of a bonus.
There were several children trying out their Christmas bikes and scooters with varying degrees of success, the most entertaining of which was a four-year old screaming “how do I get off this stupid thing!”
With dogs walked I fell asleep in front of the telly for an hour or so, then watched the classic film “Escape to Victory” which I seem to watch at about his time every year. And with telly watched I spent a little while going through a box of records that "er indoors TM" had found whilst tidying up. Bearing in mind we’ve not had a record player for years they must all be rather old. But back when we did have a record player I would play an LP once to record it on to tape cassette and then never play it again, so they must be in good condition. I went onto Amazon and eBay to price them up. It was rather odd – the ones I thought were crap were going for over a tenner. The ones I rather liked weren’t selling at all. I’ve made an album of albums. You never know – some might sell…
I’ve done some geo-sums for a short stomp through the mud tomorrow… I wonder what’s on telly?
30 December 2018 (Sunday) - Pett Level
Fudge spent the night curled up with me. I say “curled up”; “sprawled out” might be a better description of how he was lying.
Eventually I got up; if I spend too long with the CPAP machine blowing air up my nose I get a sore beak.
Over brekkie I saw I’d got a taker for one of the records I was trying to flog. That’s two quid I wasn’t expecting. To be honest I’m not fussed for the two quid. Having priced the lot up (from seeing the same things on Amazon and eBay) I was actually rather hoping that someone would offer me fifty quid for the lot. No such luck.
I spent a few minutes playing “Candy Crush” then had a look round the rest of Facebook. I was absolutely amazed to see that fox hunting (with hounds) had been going on over Christmas. If a fox is a nuisance there are *far* better ways to deal with it than to charge round the countryside with horses and dog and ripping the thing to shreds. Aren’t there?
We settled the dogs and drove down to Hastings. The journey is a bit far for Pogo just yet. We went to see mum – it was her birthday two days ago. We had an interesting chat about Brexit which she started by saying she didn’t understand it and that she had loads of questions. She went on to demonstrate she didn’t have the faintest idea of anything remotely related to the subject. I did suggest that she might have asked these questions *before* casting her vote rather than two years after. For some inexplicable reason she had an unshakable conviction that once Brexit is implemented, she will be able to buy New Zealand cheese in her local supermarket, and that was her only consideration when voting.
Did I ever mention that I don’t believe in democracy?
My brother soon arrived; today was his birthday. We exchanged insults. They were all going off for lunch, so we left them to it and slowly headed homewards. Firstly via a geocache in Fairlight which hadn’t been found for over a year. We found it. Happy dance.
We then stopped in Pett Level for a little wander about finding a couple of geocaches as we went. As we approached our quarry we met a couple of young children who proudly announced they were geocaching, and showed us what they had found.
We made our way back along the beach to the car and drove off. We were feeling peckish so thought we might hunt out some lunch. We hadn’t been driving long when we found The Red Pig. The Red Pig is rather unique; it is a small rather ramshackle caravan in a lay-by serving home-made food. We sat inside with several other people. It was a tad cosy, but everyone was friendly. We had the eight-inch sausages; they were really good. But we want to go back to try some of the other dishes that people were having.
I took a few photos of our walk and our lunch.
We came home and took the dogs round the park. As we went Pogo didn’t fight with any other dogs which was something of a result. We met OrangeHead who was out with her Chunky Little Friend. They’ve not been together for months. C.L.F. had her little dog along. I knew he’d been ill; it was good to see he was on the mend.
I did intend getting our old living room table out of the shed in readiness for “Project Lego” but by the time we’d finished doing this and that it was getting dark. I thought I could do that at some other time,
Having had a rather substantial lunch neither of us felt very hungry, so "er indoors TM" suggested she made mushroom soup for tea. She boils up a rather good bit of soup. Usually. However this evening she was subject to food blender malfunction. Fortunately the dogs were ale to clear up that which went all over the floor. I swabbed up the worktop a little while later, and I kept well out of the way as she wiped it off the walls not too long after that.
The soup she did make was very tasty, but I am led to believe that we’ll be getting a new food blender soon.
Matt came round for one of the records I was flogging (I didn’t take his money), then with "er indoors TM" off bowling I spent the evening watching a docu-drama about the life of Hattie Jacques whilst ironing some shirts. They don’t iron themselves, you know…
31 December 2018 (Monday) - New Year's Eve
Treacle was rather restless last night, and when she is restless, so is everyone else. I managed to put up with her fidgeting, and got up shortly before the alarm was due to go off.
Over a bowl of rather yukky muesli I watched an episode of “Bottom” (in which our heroes had spent four thousand pounds on a weekend trip to Doncaster), then I sparked up the lap-top to see what I’d missed on-line overnight. I hadn’t missed much.
It seemed darker than usual as I walked to my car and drove off to work. The roads were certainly quieter than they have been. As I drove the pundits on the radio were running article after article about Winston Churchill. Today's guest editor would seem to be fixated on the chap. Whilst it was all rather interesting, I prefer it when there is a variety of topics on the radio. After a while you soon get bored with the same old drivel (I certainly do).
Having a few minutes spare I took a ten-minute diversion for geo-purposes. Usually there is a meet-up on New Year's Eve. This year there wasn't for the simple reason that no one had organised one. So I got my New Year's Eve geo-souvenir for acting suspiciously round a village sign in Sandling. As I took my little geo-diversion it became apparent that my phone had upgraded itself overnight. The driving directions were given in a different voice to what it has used in the past, and the distances were given in metric units rather than imperial. I wonder how I turn it back? Personally I'd like it to use metres and miles, but I don't think that's an option.
With a few minutes spare I stopped off at Aldi for a look-see. I got some of their granola. I didn't get any of their muesli. I don't like their muesli; it is like sawdust. I do like Alpen. Trouble is, it ain't cheap. Aldi didn’t have any Alpen, so it was all academic anyway.
Whilst I was in Aldi I got a combination ice-scraper/snow-sweeper for the car as it was in the cheapo-bargain section. It only cost three quid. I suspect it may well collapse on its first usage. We shall see.
Work was work; as the day went on I felt more and more tired and washed out. I seriously considered giving the evening’s party a miss; I was glad I didn’t. Maria put on a wonderful spread, we watched “Mama Mia II”, we did the New Year grapes. We had a really good evening.
We came home rather late and found Fudge was stuck on the window sill. He’d got on there to look for us and couldn’t get back.
And that’s it for another year. I see a lot of people have been posting on Facebook saying what a crappy year it was…
One of my many cringeworthy talents is that I never let the fact that I am incredibly bad at karaoke stop me from having a go. One of my more memorable numbers is my rendition of Belinda Carlisle’s “Total Eclipse of the Fart” which I’ve been howling it since it was first released. One of the lines in the song struck a chord when I first howled it some thirty-five years ago: “every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by”. In my blacker moments I do worry that the best of all the years have gone by. But for all thirty-four of those years I had no cause for concern. Despite losing father-in-law Frank, this year has certainly been one of the better ones.
I wonder what next year has in store?