1 December 2020 (Tuesday) - Robot Crocodiles from Outer Space
I had a very restless night in which I was constantly waiting for my father to give me a lift somewhere or other. Having given up driving, he was never going to pick me up. I knew that, but it didn't stop me waiting though. Sometimes I wonder if my dreams are the battleground between my brain and the voices in my head. If so, I wish they’d declare a truce.
Before going downstairs I opened the first window of my Lego advent calendar and had a "WTF is that" moment. For the last eleven years I've bought a Lego Advent Calendar and been very good and not opened it a moment before I should. But the thing's Facebook page has quite a following and by not giving myself a few months grace I really do make a rod for my own back.
I made myself a bowl of granola, and as Sid snored I watched another episode of "People Just Do Nothing" in which it was Valentine's Day. Or "Valling Times" as our heroes would have us believe, then checked out the Internet. Last night I saw that the first puzzle in my Kings Wood series of geocaches has been found eighty-three times. As those eighty-three people walked round they went through the play zone of a Wherigo which takes about five minutes to play, and involves a hundred-yard detour to go get the final pot. But only fifty-three people did that. Thirty people didn’t bother with it.
According to Google ninety-five per cent of the population have a mobile phone and so have the necessary equipment. The apps are free. So why don’t people do the Wherigos? I asked on one of the local geocaching pages. I got the answer I was pretty much expecting. Those that do Wherigos love them. Those that don't do them have all pretty much given up on them before they have even started.
Why did I ask? - I did have plans to make more Wherigos for the New Year. Will I in the light of what I have been told? Probably...
I set off for work and was again amazed at some of the terrible driving around Ashford. Why drive with so little consideration for other road users when you have got "VJ Technology" emblazoned in three-feet high letters on the side of your van, or when your number plate is so distinctive? (HY GARY S - whoever you are).
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Scottish National Party are angling for another independence referendum. Financially it makes no sense at all, but from a viewpoint of nationalistic jingoism and hating the Sassenachs it makes perfect sense. Rather like Brexit.
And there was a lot of talk about how the Prime Minister is facing a rebellion of Conservative MPs who are planning to vote against his latest COVID-19 legislations. The rebel MPs are faced with choosing between what their leader wants and what their constituents want. On the one hand Boris might not advance their careers if they go against him. On the other hand if they upset the electorate they won't even have a job next time. Heaven forbid they might do what is best for the national interest rather than their own.
I got to work, and had something of a "macrocytosis" day. It made a change from yesterday which was very much a "reactive lymphocyte" day. But I did spend quite a while pondering on just what it was that I'd had in my Lego Advent Calendar. I considered looking it up on the Internet, but that would be cheating.
An early start made for an early finish, but by the time I’d got some petrol it was already getting dark. I thought about taking the hounds out, but it is hard enough work in broad daylight. Instead I had a shower and took a photo of what I’d got out of the Advent Calendar. It would seem that the consensus of opinion is that it is some sort of boat, but in the end I went with what the voices in my head had told me. And from a literary point of view I suspect I can do far more with robot crocodiles from outer space than I can with a boat. But bearing in mind I have absolutely no idea what is to come over the next three (and a bit) weeks I may well regret that rash decision.
You can see today’s instalment of the Advent Calendar by clicking here. Quite a few people have already done so…
2 December 2020 (Wednesday) - Paying Too Much?
Sid was particularly shouty this morning. I wonder what that was all about. He eventually shut up and I scoffed a bowl of muesli whilst watching an episode of “People Just Do Nothing” before sparking up my lap-top.
Last night I saw a friend was posting on Facebook about changing his electricity and gas supplier. Earlier in the year I spent an age investigating the cheapest available option and went with… let’s just say the company I’d been with for years. Having signed up for what really was the cheapest deal I could find I’m now locked in until April 2022, and am paying about three or four times what I would be paying with Octopus Energy. But this reminded me that three weeks ago I contacted the power company because my smart meter was playing up and they still hadn’t replied. I logged into my account with that power company last night and it told me that my monthly estimated energy costs were almost (but not quite) thirty thousand pounds. Unfortunately their live chat thingy was broken. I sent them a message via WhatsApp (!) as their website suggested. This morning as I scoffed my brekkie they told me that their waiting times were longer than expected and that they would be with me as soon as possible.
I also saw my Lego Advent Calendar had got quite a few “likes” but reading the comments I don’t think that all of the people seeing the post quite understood what it was about. Perhaps they don’t have voices in their heads to explain it to them?
I checked my emails – I had a “Needs Maintenance” request on one of my geocaches. Apparently the plastic bag in which I had put the paper log had gone from one of the pots I’d hidden. For those of my loyal readers who don’t hunt Tupperware, this is possibly the most trivial reason imaginable to demand that I drop everything to make an utterly unnecessary maintenance trip. And the same person wrote “didn’t find” logs on caches that she didn’t find because she’d given up and gone home because it was raining.
I had a whinge about it on the local Facebook geocaching page and found myself squabbling with two snowflakes who had never before posted there.
Once I'd scraped the ice off of my car I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were spouting their usual drivel.
The Chinese have landed a probe on the Moon, and intend to fetch some Moon rocks back to Earth. They will come in handy seeing how the Americans have lost one hundred and eighty-four of theirs.
There was also talk of the COVID-19 vaccine that today was licenced for public use in the UK. There are a lot of people who are sceptical about this and feel that the thing has been rushed. I would ask them specifically what was wrong with the testing regime that the MHRA employed, and specifically what further testing they would like to see. (Waving hands in the air and vaguely saying "more testing" because they don't have the faintest idea, or spouting crackpot conspiracy theories aren't acceptable answers here)
And I was rather bemused as to why the BBC would waste valuable peak-time air-time on today's "Thought For The Day" in which some archdeacon or other prattled on for two minutes about how nice Christmas card are.
Work was much the same as ever. I did my bit and came home again. I put some washing in, and "er indoors TM" got KFC for dinner. She then vanished upstairs to do a Zoom meeting with her pals. I sparked up Netflix and watched a film. Or half of a film. “Adult Life Skills” was a total load of old tripe which I turned off half-way through. Others might disagree with me - if ever you get the chance to watch “Adult Life Skills” why not give it a go. You might like it. I didn’t.
Oh – and I’m still waiting to hear back about my smart meter…
3 December 2020 (Thursday) - Messaging Rohit
I had one of those terrible nights in which having woken feeling full of energy at twenty past one, I then lay awake for much of the rest of the night.
I gave up trying to sleep and opened my Lego Advent Calendar and had another "WTF is that" moment. There are a *lot* of those with Lego Advent Calendars. I then made myself feel rather ill by doing a COVID-19 test. To be sure of a proper result you really have to ram the swab right up the nose. And judging by how much my eyes watered I don't think I could have rammed it much further. But after half an hour's incubation it came out negative, which was probably for the best.
I watched an episode of "People Just Do Nothing" which would be hilarious if it clearly wasn't based on so many people that I have met, then got myself ready for work. It takes some doing in these dark mornings. I dare not wake "er indoors TM" or the wolf-pack, but have you ever tried to select a pair of shoes (out of half a dozen) in the dark?
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were broadcasting excerpts from "Prime Minister's Question Time". I was reminded of my days at the Hastings Academy for Budding Geniuses/ Back in the day I would go to the Junior Debating Society (it took me years to work out why everyone referred to it as "mas-"!). There we were taught the rudiments of civilised debate, and how to prove that black was white by talking loudly and confidently and with an utter disregard for any (so-called) fact that might go against your point of view. Parliament operates in exactly that way. Loads of clever-sounding talk, much of it with no basis in reality, and none of it actually achieving anything. There are probably worse ways to run a country, but there certainly must be better ones.
There was a lot of talk about Jersey. The head honchos at Jersey and at Guernsey have apparently had a falling-out over the best way to control the COVID-19 pandemic. With Guernsey (supposedly) not having a single case at the moment and Jersey now entering a one-month lockdown (to ruin Christmas and the New Year) I think we now see who had the right idea.
There was also talk about the collapse of the department store "Debenhams". One of their suppliers was wheeled on. The chap talking would have done well in Parliament; he took umbrage at being called a "supplier" - he led a “retail focussed solution provider group”(!). But taking out the buzz-words and management catchphrases he basically said that the high street shops are going to have to change. He's got a point. "er indoors TM" told me what she wanted for Christmas on Sunday, and I had Amazon deliver it long before I would have had the chance to go shopping. Or take a comic shop that used to be in Canterbury which for years was a regular haunt. One day (about fifteen years ago) the chap running it realised that all of his profit was coming from mail-order and on-line sales, and having a physical shop was actually costing him money. Or take the vineyard's shop on the way to Pembury which charges way over the odds. When I buy something in a physical shop I have to make a special journey costing me time and money, and I am also paying for the running costs of that shop. Supporting local businesses is all very well... but why are we supporting something which is expensive and inconvenient?
I got to work for the early shift. As I started so my phone beeped. Rohit from the power company had sent me a message via WhatsApp. As the day went on messages went to and fro in which she asked the same questions that all her predecessors had asked, and I gave the same answers time and again. After several hours she commented that she was unable to read the meter remotely... which is one part of the problem. She suggested I read it myself and put the readings on to their web site...which is the other part of the problem.
Rohit was happy that the problem was now resolved, and asked if there was anything else she could do. She seemed rather miffed when I replied that the problem was not resolved and she might arrange replacement of the smart meter - like I asked for in the first place.
Once home I messaged her with the reading from the gas meter. The reading was (and still is) “NA”, but Rohhit didn’t reply. Instead one of their automated bots did. So it looks like I shall have to go through all the same conversation again tomorrow…
On the plus side I saw a smiley neutrophil down my microscope today…
I had intended to go on a Munzee resuscitation mission after the early shift, but it was dark and pouring hard. You know the rain is bad when the dogs refuse to go out. I’m so glad we got the roof sorted last weekend.
I wonder what’s for dinner…?
4 December 2020 (Friday) - Snow
I slept for maybe an hour longer than I did last night, but still was wide awake far too early. I gave up trying to sleep at half past four and came downstairs. Sid asked to go out – bearing in mind his track record where anything potty-related is concerned I saw this as a result. He went out – despite the blizzard that was raging. Snow had been forecast, and snowing it was.
I would have had some granola for brekkie, but having forgotten to get milk yesterday, I roughed it with toast and watched an episode of “People Just Do Nothing” in which our hero made himself a sandwich, but didn’t cut the crusts off of the bread because life is too short.
He later regretted that decision.
I then sparked up the lap-top and with a little time on my hands I went through the list of groups I follow on Facebook and left most of them. Dogs, astronomy, sci-fi, painting, Lego, kites, Radio 4, Sparks, 1970s TV adverts, fishing, local travel… no matter what the subject, it is all one big argument and I’m sick of the arguments. You would think that people wouldn’t be so quick to squabble, wouldn’t you?
I’ve also (with a heavy heart) given up on one of the local geocaching groups. Having been such a big part of my life for so long it wasn’t an easy decision. Over the years I’ve organised so much for that group – the rainbow trip to London was just one of many trips to London, the trip to Red Sands fort, the trip to Cornwall, the trip to France, seemingly endless mid-week get-togethers. Over the years there were so many events and activities. But that group isn’t what it once was. Originally it was a group of friends, but more and more the people who made it fun have left and been replaced with people who don’t know the other group members and/or don’t socialise and/or live hundreds of miles away and are are seemingly only looking for a fight. (Which is exactly what happened with the snake club and the kite club and the astro club). I’ve heard from several friends who have also left the local geocaching Facebook group since they too have felt they have been forced out. The squabble I had last night (in which a rather petty posting was blown out of all proportion) is all now sorted, but it was the last straw for me.
It has been suggested that I set up a group on Facebook for those who used to make it fun. I’m not keen on the idea… I don’t have the enthusiasm any more. I shall stick to hunting Tupperware with a small group of friends. Perhaps things might perk up again once lockdown is over.
With a much-trimmed selection of stuff to peruse, the Internet was (suddenly) a much better place. I gave it a few minutes, sent out birthday wishes and then opened up today’s window of my Advent Calendar. A yellow lorry – what was I supposed to say about that? Eventually I had an idea.
Remembering the snow I'd seen earlier I thought I might set off to work a tad earlier than usual. It was as well that I did. I got to the motorway to find the slip road closed, and the road back to the A20 was queued right back and at a standstill. I had this brilliant idea that I might head to Challock, turn left and pick up the A20 at Charing. It would have been a more brilliant idea had (seemingly) ten thousand other people not had it too. But despite them (and two sets of traffic lights on the A20) I eventually got where I was going.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking all sort of drivel as they do. Having become the first country in the world to agree that the COVID-19 vaccine is suitable for use, some British MP has wound up the European Union by claiming that this is a success story for Brexit and that the European regulators are crap. And to wind it all up further the American Presidential medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has denied that he has cast doubts on the British testing protocols.
Unfortunately all this has done is to encourage the crackpot anti-vax brigade. Fortunately social media is trying to shut them up but it speaks volumes about our society that people believe such dangerous and potentially deadly drivel.
There was also talk about how a no-deal Brexit is looking more and more likely. That wasn't supposed to happen, was it?
And the Bank of England have lost fifty billion quid in cash. From what was being said on the radio I don't know what was the most worrying - that they've lost fifty billion quid, or that no one seems to be bothered about it.
Having taken two hours to do a forty minute journey I got to work and humbly apologised to the poor person who'd been on all night and had had to wait for me.
As I did my bit so my phone beeped from time to time. Sarah (this time) from the power company was messaging me. Apparently Rohit misled me yesterday when she said they'd fixed the broken smart meter. The thing remains broken, but Sarah gave me instructions on how to read it. I pointed out that the whole idea of a smart meter is that I don't have to read it; it gets read remotely. I was told this was the only way to get a reading. I shall send them a reading tomorrow (when I can get to the meter in daylight) and we'll see what happens.
As I worked I also kept looking at the travel news. It seemed that a lorry had jack-knifed earlier (which had closed the motorway) but opinion was divided as to whether the motorway had been opened or not. Eventually I hit on the idea of calling up the webcams and seeing there was traffic on the motorway I decided to chance it.
Looking back I’d seen traffic on the eastbound carriageway, and bearing in mind how I was going east, that was all I cared about. As I drove east, not another vehicle came up the westbound carriageway. That was still closed. I wonder if it will be open tomorrow morning? I hope so.
I got home, made a cuppa for me and "er indoors TM", and put a load of shirts in to wash. Double the amount I was intending – I obviously forgot to do my shirts last week. It is just as well I’ve got loads, isn’t it? "er indoors TM" went shopping whilst I ironed, and when she came home we scoffed dinner whilst watching this week’s Star Trek: Discovery. This is a show which seems to be either very good or very bad; I quite liked this evening’s episode.
I think I shall have an early night – I’m feeling a bit under the weather.
5 December 2020 (Saturday) - Watching Telly
Over a brekkie of toast and honey I watched an episode of “People Just Do Nothing” in which our heroes got married. They had a pony at the wedding, but they dad to get it out of the church at the earliest opportunity as it had been fed one McDonalds too many on the way there and the bucket probably wouldn’t have been big enough for what was coming.
For all that I find Facebook invaluable to photo storage and keeping up to date with what friends are doing, it does wind me up. This morning it wasn’t the continual squabbles, it was the adverts. I seem to be getting a *lot* of adverts for two particular companies. “Calzedonia” which features young ladies with legs all the way up to their bums, and “Intimissimi” which specialises in nearly nudey ladies in saucy undercrackers. Bearing in mind I’m on a warning from the Facebook Feds for posting a photo of the porn-mongers who tried to scam me over a year ago, I think there’s something of the pot calling the kettle black going on here.
I opened my Lego Advent Calendar and went to work.
As I drove up the (fortunately open) motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about all the people whose Christmases are now stuffed up. With trains enforcing social distancing, many of the trains on the run-up to Christmas (and after it) having been taking bookings for the greatly reduced number of seats they have, and pretty much all the seats in all the trains in the country are booked for this month with hundreds (if not thousands) of people being unable to get train tickets now.
What with petrol cars going and short-range electric cars clearly being the vision of the future, this lifestyle of travelling to and fro hundreds of miles is clearly going to become a thing of the past.
Here’s a thought… there has been a lot of talk about electric cars in the news recently. At the moment they seem to have one major disadvantage over “normal” car in that they have a much shorter range. I wonder how they will cope in a day like yesterday. Suddenly faced with a journey time of double what was being expected, will driving slower use more battery power? Will major traffic jams of the future be seriously worsened by loads of electric cars conking out? Those who know about these things assure me they won’t… but I remain unconvinced.
I got to work and treated myself to a cooked breakfast. It was rather good.
Suitably replete I went in to work and had a rather good morning. But I was only working the morning today. I came home whilst it was still light. I chased Sid round the garden where he “did” nothing. I took the other three dogs round the block, and came home to a lino awash with Sid turds.
Whilst I was clearing dog turds I thought I might as well see if there were many to be harvested from the garden.
So many people tell me they are so jealous of my wolf-pack. I must admit that the photos I post of them can be misleading. It does look rather fun having dogs playing, taking them for major hikes in the countryside, taking photos of them sleeping on your lap… and then there are all the turds.
With "er indoors TM" out shopping with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" I put the telly on and watched a film. I’ve not seen “The Railway Children” before. It was a rather good film. As was the movie of “Porridge” which came after it.
Having worked for six days on the trot I’m worn out. My shift pattern usually only has three days at a time. I could do with an early night… bet I don’t have one.
6 December 2020 (Sunday) - Out in the Sticks
The dogs slept well, but I didn’t. I woke a couple of times every hour with the most intense headaches. What was that all about?
I came downstairs to a sea of turds. Poor Sid doesn’t like being shut out of the carpeted areas at night, but we have little choice. I sent him outside where he tiddled like a thing possessed; fortunately it is only dung with which he has problems. The joy of dogs…
I opened my Lego Advent Calendar and had another “WTF” moment, then made toast. I opened a fresh pot of margarine as Pogo ate the last one last night, then sparked up my lap-top. I had a message to tell me I’d been tagged in a post on the national geocaching page. There is a problem in that some trackable codes have been made public on a spoiler list. Something similar happened to me a while ago. There is a chap in Australia who delights in doing this. He either thinks he is providing a public service by giving these spoilers, or he gets off on the reactions he sparks on various Internet forums. In the past I used to rise to the bait with the best of them. Today I don’t even follow that page anymore.
Facebook told me a friend had a birthday today… I suppose he did, but he died last January. Did you know that Facebook allows you to assign someone who can pull the plug on your Facebook account when you die? I wonder what happens to all the other accounts – do they just stay there for evermore? I suppose (if nothing else) they are a little keepsake.
I programmed “Hannah” for the day, we got ourselves organised, and drove out to the middle of nowhere.
Earlier in the year I hid a series of geocaches which really were out in the sticks, and I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see if they were still there. Following tier three rules we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte who helped us do a geo-maintenance run.
We had a mostly good walk; it was certainly a lot muddier than when I put the series out in July. And there were a lot more pheasants too. Treacle got rather over-excited about them, and Fudge went missing for half an hour in pursuit of them. Amazingly Pogo is fast becoming the best behaved of the three.
Geocache-wise it was an eye-opener. Having put the caches out myself, quite a few had moved to different locations. Maybe only a few feet away from where I’d left them but had definitely moved. And half a dozen had been replaced. There are those who would lay eggs about that, and rightly so since according to the rules people shouldn’t do that, but I wish I knew who had replaced them so I could thank them. Each replaced geocache represented a journey I didn’t have to make to go out to replace it myself.
And knowing where they were all supposed to be certainly made for a quicker walk.
I took a few photos as we walked. Once home the dogs had a bath (they were filthy), and I posted photos to the Internet and amended some of the cache descriptions from how I’d created them to how they have become.
I phoned my mum… she’s not at all well. She’s bearing up well bearing in mind how ill she is. Like pretty much everyone else she has no understanding of what I do at work and assumes I am some sort of doctor (I am NOT!), and she asked me how long I thought she had left.
How do you answer that?
"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the third episode of “Raised By Wolves” – a rather good sci-fi series. I won’t give any spoilers, but it is rather reminiscent of Earth 2 and BattleStar Galactica.
It was rather good to have dinner without an audience. Rather then scrounging, all dogs were fast asleep. Today’s walk has rather worn them all out.
It has worn me out too… and my face is glowing. I’ve caught the sun today… three (and a bit) weeks before Christmas.
7 December 2020 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
Had I been allowed a fair share of the duvet I might have had a better night. I made the most of what I could get though.
I got up shortly after seven o’clock, chivvied Sid into the garden and cleared that which he’d left on the lino overnight before making myself some toast and having my morning look at the Internet. A family member was again posting very misleading and factually inaccurate rubbish about 5G technology. One of the articles he was posting was using reasoning along the lines of “staring into the sun makes you blind therefore 60-watt light bulbs should be banned”. So many people do this sort of thing. Why do so many people re-post scurrilous lies without fact-checking anything first?
"er indoors TM" came downstairs with the dogs. Fudge seemed particularly under the weather. He was very subdued and was trembling. He sat with me for a few minutes before going back to bed. But the moment he realised I was planning on going for a little work he suddenly perked up.
I drove the dogs out to Great Chart. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the new head honcho at the Natural History Museum. The fellow sounded very interesting. He was passionate about his new role. But… His last job was being the boss of Amazon in the UK and the chairman of the British Heart Foundation. He has previously held senior roles in Government, worked as a partner at consultancy firm McKinsey, was Board Director at Asda-Walmart and was founder of internet start-up Blueheath (the first ever Internet-enabled grocery wholesaler). This chap seems to typify those who are running the country these days – he is a professional manager. Gone are the days when you start at the bottom of whatever it is you do and work up. These days you get a qualification in management and go straight in calling the shots. Perhaps that is somewhere else where I went wrong?
We got to Great Chart (it didn’t take long) and pausing only briefly to replace a missing geocache we walked along the Greensand Way. We walked this stretch a week or so ago and found we couldn’t get as far as the river since it was flooded. It was still flooded today, but we got enough of a walk today. It was rather pretty in the thick fog.
Once home I popped up to the corner shop to get pastries for our morning coffee, then did my COVID-19 testing. There has been a lot of doubt cast on these self-testing kits, mainly because people doing the tests don’t ram the swabs quite far enough up their noses. I can understand why – it isn’t nice.
I then sat down with my laptop and looked at my accounts. Just a quick look today… not *too* shabby at the moment but once the bill for the roof comes in, and when the power company finally sort themselves out I’m sure things will be different.
I wrote up a little CPD, then took myself off to bed for the afternoon.
When I woke I found I had another message from the power company. Swati (this time) asked the same old questions that I have been asked every day for the last week. I spent quarter of an hour shivering outside with the gas meter scrolling through the current time, the current date and the number that they rejected. Eventually I told Swati (politely but firmly) that the gas meter readings since February have been estimated and that the whole idea of a Smart Meter is that there should be no guesswork. I also told her that we had established via the Live Chat on October 24th (some six weeks ago) that the meter needed repair and that someone was supposed to be coming out to fix it.
I expect someone else will be in touch again tomorrow and we will go thought the whole process again.
I told the world about what I got in my Lego Advent Calendar today, then smiled at "er indoors TM" in the hope of getting some dinner.
I’m off to the night shift in a bit. This one is an extra – I volunteered for it…
December 2020 (Tuesday) - Saving Money (?)
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister is off to Brussels himself to sort out a post-Brexit deal. Let’s hope it’s a good one
With less than a minute on Google you can show that (so far) Brexit has cost more than the Apollo program. Britain could have stayed in the European Union, have put twelve British astronauts on the Moon, and still be financially better off than we are today. Did anyone know this at the time of the referendum? I suspect some did, but their opinion was given no more value than anyone else’s. A *lot* of people have since said they voted “out” because they thought Brexit was the cheap option. (Mind you a *lot* of people have since said they voted “out” because they thought Brexit was the right thing to do regardless of cost – was it? Who can tell?).
Much the same is probably true about today’s announcement of the start of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who actually know what they are talking about are finding that their opinion is worth no more than those who feel the whole thing is one big scam. We really do have the words of the Minister for Health being regarded as of no more value than anyone who fancies wearing a tin-foil helmet.
Was Brexit done as a cost-saving or a political move? Are vaccines life-saving or a form of governmental control?
Surely the time has come to do away with democracy until those doing the voting are given correct information and can understand what the consequences of their voting.
I took the dogs down to Orlestone Woods for a walk. The woods were rather busy today. Often we get there early enough so as to not meet anyone else. We met six other dog walkers today. We met the little old lady with the poodle and Jack Russell. We met the nice lady with (what I can only describe as) the floofy spacehopper. We met a young lad with three dogs (we’d not met him before – we had a good chat). We met the posh lady with the Labradors (Fudge tried to “do the dirty deed” with them), we met the nice man with the Red Setters (they told Fudge off when he tried to “do the dirty deed” with them) and we met the old dog in his all-terrain push chair. Pogo barked at all of them; not one took umbrage.
We came home; I opened my Advent Calendar then went to bed for a couple of hours and got up to a message from the power company. They had conceded defeat with the Smart Meter issue and gave me a number to ring so that the dedicated Smart Meter team could deal with it. After a while I got through to what I can only describe as an idiot who was barely capable of reading the script she’d been given. After a very frustrating twenty minutes during which I went through the same old spiel (that I have been through every day for the last week) she put me on hold whilst she phoned the dedicated Smart Meter team. After a further fifteen minutes she told me that “Andrea” from the dedicated Smart Meter team would be phoning me back.
I then ironed for a couple of hours whilst watching episodes of “People Just Do Nothing” then spent an hour or so on the phone. Consolidating the Sky TV, broadband, Netflix and my mobile into the one account has saved me fifty quid a month. Add that to the two hundred quid I saved on the year’s house buildings and contents insurance means I am quids in… The money I’ve saved can go toward the new bathroom roof.
I expect sorting out the new SIM card in my mobile will be a mission in itself. That should be happening this week. The broadband should be in place before Christmas, and the Sky-Q box gets installed in a month or so. I’m hoping for great things here – millions of other people change suppliers with no issues, so why am I so terrified of change?
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “Bake Off” and washed down with a bottle of red wine. Perhaps the starter of Bailey’s was a mistake, but the dogs certainly liked the stilton that came for afters…
Needless to say, “Andrea” has not phoned me back…
9 December 2020 (Wednesday) - A Day Off
I slept like a log and was rather ambivalent to see a turd-free kitchen floor. When there are turds I know that Sid is empty, when there are not I know I will have to gather them once I’ve had a shave. I chivvied Sid out where he tiddled, and after my shave there were no turds. I saw that as a result. Mind you Sid was doing what I can only describe as his “arse carousel” in which he sits on his backside and spins like a merry-go-round with legs all over the place. He seems to enjoy doing that, and gets up to quite a speed. I wish he wouldn’t.
I made toast and peered into the Internet. Since I had a major departure from most of the groups I follow (a few days ago) Facebook was a much friendlier place. But still not without faults. I saw that Facebook had told me that I had been wrong to report a blatant advert by ladies of dubious morals who had been offering to “do the dirty deed” for financial gain. Apparently that advert didn’t breach their community standards even though just one click from that advert to you to graphic photographs of rather unhygienic activities. I then had a little look-see at my “Facebook support inbox”. Over the years I have reported pornography, cruelty to animals, hate speech and all sorts of other offensive posts that I have seen on Facebook. In every instance the Facebook Feds have told me that whatever it is doesn’t breach their community standards. However on a few occasions I have re-posted just the advert’s photo (*without* any links) with a “sort this out Facebook” comment, and each of those posts have earned me a formal warning from the Facebook Feds. On my last formal warning they gave me the option to have my case reviewed by their committee. Today I was told that their committee had too many cases to review, and mine wasn’t selected for their scrutiny.
I had a look at my emails. Over two hundred “found it” logs on geocaches that I have hidden. I’ve been told off a few times (admittedly in a good-natured way) that I don’t read these. I must admit I don’t. I really don’t have the time to do so.
I also saw a new puzzle cache had gone live on Monday. It seemed to be on the way to work (Pembury work) and bearing in mind I will be going there on Friday I thought that might break up my journey. I looked at the puzzle and had the right answer in (quite literally) less than a minute. I looked at the cache page again and saw no one had yet logged a find. Could I be the First to Find? I was going to take the dogs out anyway, so I got myself and the hounds organised and we drove out to… I won’t give spoilers by saying where, but we were soon at the designated parking spot. I was a little perturbed when I read a sign saying “please don’t park in front of this gate” but I managed to get the car off the road and not blocking the gate.
My plan had been to let the dogs run whilst I rummaged in the undergrowth, but on hearing pheasants I thought it best that they stayed on their leads. I rummaged for quite a while before finally finding what I was rummaging for. I really did take ten times longer (at least) to find the cache than I did to solve the puzzle. And I was first to find too… Result!!
With cache found I thought about walking on some more, but it was raining and Fudge was shivering so we came home.
As I drove the Reith Lecture was being broadcast on the radio. Ex-head honcho at the Bank of England Mark Carney was talking about economics. I’m no expert on the subject but he seemed to be contradicting himself. On the one hand he said that the country needs financial wizz-kids to make loads of money. On the other hand he also said that the country needs decent-minded people to ensure the poor don’t get pissed upon. But what is the incentive to get loads of money if you are only going to give it all away?
I got home and loaded the car with rubbish. "er indoors TM" had booked a slot at the tip for us today. We had knacked coats, broken gazebos, loads of assorted rubbish, and half a dozen bags of old carpet that we wanted rid of. I soon had the car full, and set off to the tip… far too early.
In this brave new world of coronageddon you have a time slot at the tip. You can’t get there early or late, and I was far too early. So I wasted time by replacing a missing geocache of mine, getting petrol, and doing some Munzee resuscitations on Hothfield Common whilst checking the place out as a venue for future dog walks.
I got to the tip and emptied the rubbish. Just as I was about to leave so a chap walked past with a Harris Hawk. I got chatting with him – he brings the hawk to the tip three times a week to scare off the seagulls that otherwise would infest the place. Apparently the hawk also has regular bookings at Sheerness docks and St Pancras railway station too.
I then dozed in front of the last episodes of “People Just Do Nothing” and stayed awake for the first two episodes of the new season of “Big Mouth” before telling the world about today’s Lego Advent adventure.
Today was a day’s leave – it was surprisingly busy.
I wonder what’s for dinner…
10 December 2020 (Thursday) - Another Day Off
As I scoffed toast I saw that my Facebook feed has changed. Rather then being filled with adverts for ladies underwear featuring scantily-clad young ladies, I am now being bombarded with adverts for overpriced beer. For those of my loyal readers who don’t drink the stuff, if you are thinking of getting a beer-drinker a Christmas pressie, here’s a tip. If it says “craft beer” and comes in a tin, forget it. There seems to be a growth industry in selling half-pint tins at pint prices.
I’m never going to buy either of them but given the choice I’d rather see the pictures of the saucy ladies.
Also I saw that (yet again) aliens have been found. There have been negotiations for Earth to join their federation which were supposedly held on Mars. Apparently the whole thing was to be announced by Donald Trump but the Galactic Federation stepped in "to prevent mass hysteria".
Have you ever noticed that the political affiliation “Federation” is a term which is only ever used in outer space?
Fudge was quivering as he sat with me. He’s shivered a couple of times on recent walks where he gets cold, but he wasn’t cold this morning. It says on the Internet (so it must be true) that older dogs quiver when in pain; is his back playing him up again? But he soon perked up when he got wind we were going out. But bearing in mind he has got cold recently I insisted he wore his coat. He sulked for a few minutes, but by the time we’d driven to Hemsted Forest he’d got over it.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I hid a series of geocaches in the woods at Hemsted Forest about eighteen months ago. Recently I had reports that three of them had gone missing. With a day free, and dogs needing a walk I thought that I might do a complete circuit of that geo-series today, sorting any issues as we went.
We had a relatively good walk. It was incredibly muddy. About half a mile into the mud we met an idiot in his best trainers and jeans, with mud all the way up to his knees and a dog who was rather scatty (to say the least). At first he seemed rather frightened that I had said hello to him. I got the distinct impression that he rarely (if ever) walks his dog, and *never* visits woodlands. He commented that he hadn’t come out prepared for the conditions… I smiled. Who wears their best trainers in the woods in December? We met other dog walkers too – we met a very friendly Bassett hound, and a little later we met two very friendly Beagles. And my dogs were most indignant when their horse-poo-eating was heckled by passing joggers.
I replaced two of the caches that had been reported as missing; the third was laying out in the open. And I replaced one that had recent “Found It” logs that I couldn’t find. I checked that all the others were fit for purpose, and (hopefully) I shouldn’t need to go out there for some time. In fact with one hundred and sixteen finds over eighteen months I think it is fair to say that the series has pretty much run its course. Perhaps in the new year I might think about replacing it. Possibly adding a second loop in the northern part of the woods.
I took a few photos whilst we walked. Once home I bathed the dogs then posted the photos on-line whilst "er indoors TM" sorted out some soup.
I dozed in front of the telly until "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" came crashing through the front door. They got the rats to pee all over my Lego town, scattered pomegranate fragments all through the living room, churned the lawn to mud, and then set off with “skinhead”. I’d not seen “skinhead” for a while – it was good to catch up.
I told the world about today’s Lego adventure, and that was pretty much it for the day. A walk in the mud and a sleep in front of the telly. Not a bad day off really…
11 December 2020 (Friday) - Before the Late Shift
I slept like a log and woke feeling refreshed
and full of energy… at quarter past midnight. The rest of the night was
rather restless though.
I then spent a little while re-writing the puzzle for a puzzle geocache which I took on which is near Singleton Lake, Last night I’d had a rather passive aggressive “did not find” log on the thing, so I thought I’d better have a look at the problem. Mind you the chap who wrote the rather nasty log is one who I would like to meet in real life, if only to tell him to f… off to his face. This person obviously gets a lot out of geocaching having found over thirteen thousand caches. However he, she or it has only hidden twenty-seven caches. None of those have been hidden in the last six years, and none are currently active. Taking a lot, contributing nothing and always finding fault… this one typifies all that is currently wrong with the noble art of hunting Tupperware.
But if the cache *was* missing I had to do something… either sort it or archive it. So I re-wrote the puzzle this morning and took the dogs out to replace what was actually a missing cache.
If nothing else it showed me that Singleton Lake isn’t a good place to walk the dogs. I let them off the leads, and within fifty yards they were back on the leads. The place was heaving with “precious princess” dogs. A couple of people commented that they would like to try having their dogs off the leads but didn’t dare, but what finished it for me was the very small man with two rottweilers that were stronger than he was. Urban dog walks are usually a disaster, and today’s was a disaster that was narrowly averted.
I replaced the missing geocache and we all came home.
Once home we had an entertaining few minutes as we did the dogs’ flea treatments. It is easy enough to do. You open the little tube of jollop and rub the jollop into the back of each dog’s neck. It smells odd, but doesn’t hurt, and takes a few seconds to do. Fudge never minds it being done. Sid just sits and takes it like he takes life in general. But Pogo and Treacle hate it and run in terror.
With flea treatments done the postman delivered my new Sky sim card. I tried to swap it over into my mobile and met with utter failure. After getting incredibly cross with it I gave up and tried phoning the phone’s help desk. Sky’s help desk was endless recorded messages which eventually told me they’d send me a text, and they hung up.
I think I’ll try the phone unlocking stall in the town centre tomorrow…
As I drove to work the comedy show "Count Arthur Strong" was on the radio. There has been a lot of talk about this show on the Radio 4 Facebook pages. It is obviously something of a "marmite" show in that people either love it or hate it. I was hoping for good things from the show…
Let's just say that I knew it was a comedy because at random intervals canned laughter was played so that the audience realised that they had missed a joke. The show played for half an hour and I didn't crack a smile once. At the risk of appearing uncharitable, it was crap with a capital turd.
I had planned to get sweeties for work seeing how I (probably) won't be at Pembury again before Christmas but having spent far too long fighting with trying to unlock my phone earlier meant I had no time. I'll get sweeties in the New Year...
And other than the Advent Calendar, everything of note in my day was done with by mid day…
12 December 2020 (Saturday) - Pissed Off (!)
Fudge spent the night sleeping on top of me. That rarely happens these days – sometimes he has his soppy moments. Perhaps it was having him close? I slept well.
Over some toast I peered into the Internet. There was quite a row kicking off on the Radio Four Facebook page about that show I listened to yesterday. “Count Arthur Strong” is the Woody Allen of the radio. There are those that find the show hilarious and those who don’t find it remotely amusing. It is a shame that the two sides can’t disagree politely.
And disagreeing politely would be a good thing on the global scale. With Brexit talks about to finally go belly-up, four warships have been dispatched to guard the nations fishing grounds. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I predicted that following Brexit the UK would be involved in another European war within my lifetime. I so hope I am wrong.
We got the dogs organised and set off to Knowle Park. We missed out on our usual day of hunting geocaches in favour of joining in with a Munzee event that was planned for today. They don’t happen very often so we thought we’d give it a go. In retrospect I wish we hadn’t… Whilst the event was well organised and was fun, it didn’t go at all well for us.
Getting there was a problem. Imagine that you are on a clock face and want to go from the “eleven” position to the “twelve” position. You would *not* go via “six”, would you? That’s pretty much how our sat-nav took us.
We eventually got to Knowle Park only to be turned away by some officious twat who declared that since we hadn’t pre-booked our spot in the car park he couldn’t let us in.
So we went into Sevenoaks to find a public car park, and got a little lost on the epic trek into Knowle Park.
As we walked through Knowle Park we saw plenty of spaces in the car park which did little for my mood.
Because of the deer the dogs couldn’t be allowed off of the leads and so they pulled (like trains) for the entire time.
The place was heaving with normal people.
And it was cold and my nose was running the entire time.
As we walked we met the organiser; I’d messaged with her a few times. I felt a little sorry for her – she’d put in such a lot of effort into setting up the day and I had a proper sulk-on over so many things that were utterly out of her control.
I took a few photos of our walk. It was a good outing really… I suppose.
As we walked back to the car my phone beeped. Yesterday I whinged about a chap who had boiled my piss. He’d messaged me with an apology. I must admit I was impressed by that.
We came home, had a spot of lunch and went up to town. Yesterday I’d completely failed to unlock my phone from its network. I thought the nice man in the shop might be able to do it for me. He said to leave the phone with him so we did…
We went for a little walk. As we walked we met Bernie and had a chat; it was good to catch up. I saw several new shops, and quite a few closed ones. And after an hour we went back to the phone shop where the nice man had completely failed to unlock my phone but he said that he could do something-or-other and send me a code to unlock it. Like a fool I agreed to that.
The whole point of going to the shop was to have someone do it for me, *not* to have to enter the code myself. Been there – done that doesn’t work
And when I came home I found that neither my lap-top nor "er indoors TM"’s can see my phone any more. I rang the nice man in the shop who was adamant that noting he had done could have in any way caused what has happened.
After a couple of hours of getting progressively more and more angry with the thing I eventually found a temporary fix on-line. Every time I want to unload photos from it I now have to dive deep into the settings to remind it to allow lap-tops to access it. It isn’t a perfect fix, but it makes the phone more useable than it was.
I’ve had enough of today… but I suppose it could always be worse.
13 December 2020 (Sunday) - Early Shift
Fudge spent another
night on the bed. It amazes me how he can be so still and inoffensive all
night long whilst Pogo and Treacle have to stomp about like things possessed.
The original plan didn't have me working today. But a colleague needed to swap her shifts, and a frankly dreadful weather forecast meant I was only too happy to help out.
It was rather cold as I walked to find my car, and there was quite a bit of ice to scrape from my windscreen. With the external ice scraped I was rather concerned to find that the inside of the car's windscreen wasn't clearing. After a rather panic-stricken few minutes (plagued by visions of garage bills) I realised the blowers were set to blowing the warm air at me rather than up the inside of the windscreen. (Dur!) I twiddled the knob, and all was fine (as is so often the case).
As I drove out of Ashford I was amazed at how many buses were driving about - all of which with seats for up to fifty people, and all of which were empty. That's not "only a few passengers", that's "empty - no passengers at all". I suppose that there's not that many people needing buses before seven o'clock on a Sunday morning. Back in the day there used to be much smaller buses - surely it would make sense to run those when hardly any passengers are about?
I got to the motorway and found it closed. That was useful... One of the many benefits of Brexit (!) is that the motorway is being closed on a regular basis. So I drove up the A20 instead; I drove up it far faster today than I did when snow closed the motorway a couple of weeks ago. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how president-elect Joe Biden has ordered the White House to be thoroughly scrubbed out before he takes up residence. He's not keen to go in there until it's been deep-cleaned bearing in mind just how COVID-19-ridden President Trump's cronies seem to be, and I think he might have a point.
There was also a lot of talk about some chap and some young lady who found religion over lock-down. One has converted to Islam, one has become a Buddhist. Both seemed happy with their decisions... most religious people seem to be. I pretended that I was happy some forty years ago (until I saw the darkness). The young lady being interviewed said that she'd always been jealous of religious people as they had some certainty in their life that she seemed to be lacking. Looking back I never had religious certainly - I just desperately hoped that my version of crackpot religion was correct as it promised me the creator of the universe as a best friend, and (let's be honest here) that's certainly appealing.
I got to work (with about two minutes to spare) where I did my thing. As I worked I kept glancing out of the window at a rather damp and dismal day. I was right to have gone to work today, even if it was a tad busier than I might have liked it to have been.
Having left home in darkness and got to work in twilight I left work in twilight and came home in darkness. Just as I was coming home the pundits on the radio were talking about a recently published book. “The Arrest” by Jonathan Lethem sounds just like the sort of post-apocalyptic fiction that I love… but over seven quid for an e-book? Really?
I got home to find
visitors. "My Boy TM" and Cheryl had called
round. We bandied insults for a while, then they went dinner-wards. I
Advent Calendar, took a photo with my phone, and managed to get the photo
onto my lap-top far quicker than I did yesterday. My phone is far from
perfect right now, but I can get stuff out of it which is a vast improvement
on what it was, even if I do have to go into the developer options every time
to tell it what to do with its USB.
14 December 2020 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
Fudge didn’t sleep on the bed last night – he was sulking. Last night he went out for a tiddle just before bed time and came back in carrying half a turkey carcass and looking incredibly pleased with himself. Where did that come from? He wasn’t at all impressed when I took it from him. He was still rather off with me as I scoffed toast this morning, turning his nose up at the crusts.
As I peered into the Internet this morning I saw I had another friend request on Facebook. I wonder who this person is. She has no friends in common with me, claims to live in Copenhagen, and on occasion would seem to run round in the nip. Unlike many of the friend requests I seem to get on Facebook she isn’t actively peddling filth, but yet again I have a friend request on Facebook from someone I don’t know, with whom I have nothing in common, and not only is a nudey lady, but also has no clothes on either. This time I decided against reporting her to the Facebook Feds as it is me who gets in trouble for doing so. To be fair to Diana there are far more photos on her Facebook page of her with clothes than without, but if I don’t take a moral stand, who will.
I also saw an advert on Facebook for “playful lingerie” featuring several young ladies wearing little more than saucy smiles. You really do have to wonder at just how these Facebook anti-smut algorithms work, don’t you?
A friend of mine was grumbling on Facebook about the ridiculous COVID-19 restrictions. There is a publican who lives near him who has done a lot to support local musicians. This chap wanted to hold a pre-Christmas ticketed COVID-19-safe live music event. But the local council has said because his primary licence is to serve alcohol and his music licence is secondary, he has to operate as a pub. That means no tickets, people have to buy food to be able to buy anything alcoholic, only one drink per course and people have to leave as soon as they have finished scoffing. Definitely no nursing a single pint through the evening. But *if* he had been running a licenced music venue with a secondary licence to serve alcohol, he could have put on a ticketed music event where people could have bought as much booze as they wanted and without any food at all.
Where’s the sense in that?
I got some excited dogs onto their leads and took them out. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I had a little recce at Hothfield Common last week. It looked good for a walk, so I took the hounds up there today. As we walked we met other dogs and said hello nicely. We had a short walk; we will have longer ones as we explore and figure out where to go. In the meantime I will follow the signposts.
I then went up into town to see if the nice people in the mobile phone shop might be able to help with the unlocking of my mobile phone. As I walked round the town I was amazed at the amount of people walking around with either no masks, or masks under their noses. Keeping your mask over your nose is easy – just bend the wire and it stays put. And for those who aren’t wearing face masks – whether they like it or not, it’s the law. Some claim medical exemptions… if they have a respiratory condition preventing them wearing a face covering should they really be out of their house during a global pandemic?
I got to the mobile phone shop. I walked in… that is I got one foot inside the shop when the nice man in the shop screamed and came running over. What did I want? Did I have an appointment? I explained that I was having trouble unlocking my phone… he didn’t actually say to “f… off” but he clearly didn’t want anything to do with having me in the shop.
I came home and phoned the network provider like the nice man in the shop said. It is all very well having an unlock code, but precisely where do you stick it? After a *lot* of farting about I finally got to the stage of having an unlocked phone. I put in the new Sky card and went through the instructions… the Sky website said my phone was registered but it wasn’t working. It did say to give it time, but I’m not a very patient person. In my line of work, everything is very “immediate” and over forty years of dealing with real-life “red alerts” I’ve become a very “immediate” person.
As I photographed today’s instalment of the Advent adventure so I got a text. The phone circuit of my phone was up and running on the Sky network, albeit with the wrong number. Sky had sent me an email saying the transfer of the phone number would happen tomorrow, so I shall have to wait patiently.
I went to bed where I slept patiently for a few hours and woke to find my phone’s mobile data still wasn’t working. After another *lot* of farting about I eventually phone a phone number for Sky which was answered by a human. To be fair to him the chap was incredibly helpful, and after not *quite* so much farting about we established that I didn’t have any APN settings. I didn’t even know there were such wonders as APN setting, let alone that I was lacking them.
Matters were further complicated by finding that inside our house isn’t a particularly good reception area for Sky mobile data, but that is why God made home wi-fi.
It is widely claimed that changing mobile phone provider is dead simple – I have found it to be rather stressful… I hope the change of broadband goes easier next week.
I’m off to the night shift now.
15 December 2020 (Tuesday) - After the Night Shift
Last night was rather busy, but I’m not complaining at all. I quite like the night shifts. After all the nastiness of nine years ago it is good to be trusted to be left alone to do the job for a substantial period of time, but it is always with a sense of relief when the relief arrives.
It was also with a sense of relief that I saw the “Operation Brock” stupidity has stopped for now and that the motorway was open.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were interviewing some minister or other from the Treasury about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With confirmed cases going through the roof, concern was expressed about the proposed relaxation of rules for Christmas. It spoke volumes about who is calling the shots when a financial minister is interviewed rather than a health minister, but either way, what can the government do…
They *could* actually enforce a proper lockdown, but politically they dare not. The dead have no votes, and the electorate would remember (at the ballot box) being given what they need rather than what they want. Lacking the political will to enforce proper safety precautions the government have decided to allow that which they realistically have no will to prevent.
There was also talk about the Olympic Games. Postponed from last summer, the games are looking set to take place this coming summer, but there are calls to abandon them because there won’t be quite so many people watching them in the stadia.
How does that work?
Are the Olympic Games a sporting contest or a form of live entertainment?
Once home I went to bed for the morning with something of a sense of frustration. I hadn’t had any messages from Sky about my phone number having been transferred. I’d been told that it would happen at some time today, and when I went to bed, today was nine hours old. I’d been awake for all of them. But (to be fair to them) realistically I was going to bed just as the Sky offices were opening, but I was still impatient.
I was still impatient when I woke three hours later.
I had some brekkie for lunch (as you do) and then took the dogs out for a walk. We went to Hothfield Common again, and today we followed the green signs round the “Bogs and Giants” walk. A good walk, but a tad muddy in parts. Someone had built boardwalks over the boggier sections; it was a shame that Treacle had to jump off of the boardwalk into the swamp. And even more of a shame that Fudge and Pogo had to follow her.
As we walked so my phone beeped with five messages. My old phone number had been changed over onto the new network. Getting my phone from one network onto another has been (possibly) one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done, and now that it is sorted I don’t intend to change it again any time soon. But I am now getting twice as much out of the phone for half the price.
We came home; “boot dogs” then became “bath dogs”, and once scrubbed the dogs were soon snoring. I told the world about my Advent Calendar, set the dishwasher and the washing machine going, and spent a couple of hours writing up CPD with Pogo snuggled up next to me. For all that he is seen to be a very boisterous noisy lump, he is secretly the most soppy and loving of all of the dogs.
A week has passed sine I last had any contact with the power company. I’ve sent them a complaint – I doubt that will get the broken gas meter fixed, but I live in hope…
I wonder what’s for dinner…
16 December 2020 (Wednesday) - Cleaning The Car Out
I slept like a log. Being post-night shift and a bottle of red wine do that for me. Pausing only briefly to chivvy Sid round the garden I made myself some toast then had my morning peer into the Internet. (Regular readers of this drivel will know that I am a creature of habit).
There wasn’t much happening on Facebook at all today. I sent out a couple of birthday wishes and scrolled through the adverts looking for anything of note. Mind you the adverts were quite interesting. I believe that social media somehow tailors its advertising to its specific readers. I seem to get a *lot* of adverts for women’s underwear. Whilst I’m not averse to seeing pictures on saucy ladies wearing little more than a smile, I’m not going to pay over a hundred quid for a bra (I clicked the link – seriously – a hundred quid for a bra!!!). Bearing in mind how quick Facebook are to have me up for breaches of their community standards I have to wonder how the undercrackers merchants get away with it?
I checked my emails. I had an email (timed shortly after midnight) telling me that "My Boy TM"’s Christmas pressie had been delivered. It had actually been delivered about fourteen hours previously. I did a quick You-Gov survey, and then took the dogs out for a walk. The nice man was coming to service the boiler this morning and the last thing he needed would have been a sea of dogs getting in the way.
We went down to Orlestone. Just lately we’ve walked round Hothfield Common, but the place isn’t that big. I had a look-see on-line last night. The “Bogs & Giants” walk we did yesterday at Hothfield was billed as one of the longer trails, and it was only a mile or so. Down at Orlestone our standard walk is twice that, and we miss out a *lot* of the woods. And Hothfield Common does seem to be swarming with the normal people. There are far fewer people at Orlestone, but it is muddier.
We had a good walk round Orlestone woods, even if the dogs did get filthy (and roll in fox poo). It was a shame that I twisted my knee, but there it is. As we walked we saw only one other group, and they were two hundred yards in the distance and walking away from us.
Going to Orlestone also meant I could test my phone. The old network struggled to get coverage there. The new one isn’t perfect but was far better. I managed to post the obligatory dog photo in seconds rather than in minutes, and I could send instant messages to "er indoors TM" where previously the thing has struggled.
We came home to find the boiler all serviced, and once I’d got the dogs bathed I settled down with a cuppa. Then the dogs went mad – postie had arrived. Every year at the Christmas geo-meet those of us who’ve found squillions of geocaches get certificates of achievement. I got one through the post today… It made me realise just how much I miss the geo-meets. Over the last year geo-meets have stopped because of coronageddon, and the geocaching Facebook pages have filled with the keyboard warriors who would run a mile rather than say hello to anyone in person. The sooner we can all meet up again the better.
I told the world about my Advent Calendar, and seeing how the time was flying I got changed and set off.
I drove round to B&Q. The back seat of my car has become something of a disaster zone so I had this plan to get a plastic box into which to put the wellington boots and coats and extending dog leads and shopping bags and all the general clutter. As I walked in to B&Q I was rather dismayed to see that they had the very boxes I wanted at about twenty quid each. I wasn't going to shell out twenty quid for a plastic box. I walked into the shop and round to the plastic box department where they had pretty much the same boxes (but without lids) for three quid. It pays to shop around.
I got one of those and set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how at the last election the Labour party were held up to ridicule because of their spending promises, and that there was no such thing as a "magic money tree". What with the pandemic, the Labour party's promises were but a drop in the ocean compared to what the government has now actually spent. An attempt was made to explain where all the borrowed money came from. Keeping businesses afloat, furlough payments - it runs to billions of pounds. But from what was being said all the money really would seem to have come from a "magic money tree". Whilst there was talk of paying back all the borrowing, there was no mention at all made of to who, what or where this money needs to be paid.
I got the impression the so-called debt could be magic-ed away in much the same way that the money had been magic-ed into existence in the first place.
I got to the works car park, and with a few minutes spare I brushed and scrubbed my car out. It is far from pristine, but looks a whole lot better than it was. So much so that non-canine passengers might now consent to get into the thing. (We had a near-refusal a couple of weeks ago...!)
As I worked my phone rang. According to whoever is on the other end of 020 8044 3842 a warrant has been issued for my arrest due to some tax evasion scam of which I am a part. I told them to get knackered.
If there is no update tomorrow, you'll know I'll be in the chokey...
17 December 2020 (Thursday) - Bit Dull
I was sleeping like a log when my phone
beeped with a message to tell me that my new broadband router would be
delivered sometime in the following fourteen hours. That was rather imprecise,
Some teacher friends of mine were whinging on-line about how hard being a teacher is. Their Christmas holiday started a few days ago, and their work doesn’t resume until the new year. This year I have one of the longest Christmas breaks I have ever had – three days. And a family member was posting photos of his garden – he can get fourteen cars parked in the drive outside his house in the countryside. He pays for that by writing articles for magazines that no one reads.
Yet again I find myself questioning my career choices.
With "er indoors TM" having a day off we both took the dogs down to Orlestone for a rather muddy walk. Fudge straggled, all the dogs spuddled in stagnant ponds… Their behaviour is far worse when "er indoors TM" is along for the walk.
But with "er indoors TM" having the day off she got to bath the dogs. Result ! We then had a cuppa and as we did so "er indoors TM"’s phone beeped. Her Amazon delivery had arrived and been “handed to the resident”. Really? We found it laying outside the front door. Home delivery is all very well when you can be sure of getting that which you are ordering.
I told the world about today’s Advent adventure and set off to Matalan. My works trousers are getting a tad threadbare. Unfortunately they didn't have any in my size. Few clothing shops cater for the more rotund gentleman, and fewer still cater for the fat-arsed. I shall have a look on-line.
I drove to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how pandemics never stopped Shakespeare. They were talking in such a way that they rather expected their audience to know all about his works. I must admit I don't. I read Julius Caesar for O-level English literature, and our English teacher did his utmost to kill the play stone-dead. Looking back he did the same with several other books that turned out to be actually rather good (Lord of the Flies, All Quiet on the Western Front, Fahrenheit 451, 2001 - A Space Odyssey to name but four). Perhaps I should give Shakespeare another chance.
I got to work and did my bit... whilst hobbling about. I twisted my knee yesterday and I think that I didn't do it any favours by going out in the mud on it today. As I hobbled "er indoors TM" sent a message to say that the router arrived some time in the mid-afternoon. And that she’d poggered her car window. That’s useful…
18 December 2020 (Friday) - Rostered Day Off
With no reason to be up early I was wide awake about three hours earlier than I had intended. I gave up trying to sleep as my CPAP machine was making enough noise to wake the dead, and came downstairs. I was rather pleased to se no turds, and chivvied Sid outside where he crapped, then trod in it.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Big Mouth” then peered into the Internet. Last night I made a video of our adventure in the woods yesterday and had posted it on Facebook – several people had clicked the “like” button.
Recently my Facebook feed has been filled with adverts for ladies underwear, but today I was bombarded with adverts for beer. One of these adverts amazed me. Most of the beers for sale were about the same price except one. Ironically the one that was out on its own was the closest one to me. A new start-up in Folkestone was charging fourteen quid for three tins where everyone else had a going rate of twelve quid for eight bottles. A couple of people had commented on how expensive the Folkestone brewery was, and whoever it is that runs this new start-up had posted a little rant about supporting local businesses and paying their suppliers a fair price. Someone else can support this local business and pay their suppliers vastly over the odds. I don’t think I will be doing so.
I got dressed, woke the dogs, and took them down to Orlestone a lot earlier than usual. Checking the Internet I saw that we arrived a minute after sunrise. Without "er indoors TM" the dogs messed about far less. There was no jumping in the swamps. We did meet one other person – his dog was something of a “precious princess” but it all passed off without incident.
As I walked I was giving some thought to why we keep going back to Orlestone. What do I want from a dog-walk location? Principally somewhere that I can manage three dogs with minimum fuss. Somewhere that the dogs can jump from the car boot, run (about) two miles with not having to worry about crossing lanes and tracks and stiles and gates. Somewhere with no hills or farm animals or pheasants. Somewhere with a bare minimum of normal people. Orlestone ticks all the boxes.
We came home, had a bath and I popped up to town. On Saturday I paid one of the shops in the town to unlock my mobile phone. They told me they would be in touch by text within two days . Having heard nothing from them I eventually got the thing unlocked myself, and I went back to the shop today to see if I could get a refund. The chap behind the counter openly admitted he’d forgotten all about it, but flatly refused to give a refund. I wasn’t expecting one and (in all honesty) I’d written that money off anyway. But I’ve put in a complaint to the Trading Standards people just in case.
I came home via Asda. The place was heaving with young mothers all shrieking into their phones whilst their children ran riot. But it was the old bat in front of me in the queue that boiled my piss. Whenever she had anything to say (and she had a *lot* to say) she took off her face covering.
Once home again I made a cuppa and we scoffed the Belgian buns I’d got in Asda. It has to be said that I am quite the connoisseur of Belgian buns and (sadly) Asda’s aren’t the best. But it was better than nothing. As I scoffed I got on to Matalan’s website and ordered up the trousers that their shop didn’t have yesterday. I also made a start on getting my ENT appointment re-scheduled,
We then went out for a third time to collect "er indoors TM"’s car – she’d found someone to un-pogger the window, then I put “Trailer Park Boys” on Netflx and spent a couple of hours doing the ironing before falling asleep in front of the telly.
"er indoors TM" got fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching the latest episode of “Star Trek: Discovery”. Now into its third season, the show seems to be either very good, or terrible. Tonight’s was rather good – if only for the blatant harking back to Captain Kirk…
A day off – it has been non-stop.
19 December 2020 (Saturday) - Tier 4
I slept like a log right until "er indoors TM"’s alarm went off. And then went off again. I got up and was nearly run over by Fudge sprinting to the back door. Seeing a turd-free floor I chivvied Sid out as well. Fudge was only too keen to get outside, Sid was rather indignant about being turfed out into the rain. He’s a funny dog. He will only ever pee in one particular spot, but that spot is a couple of yards onto the lawn, and he *really* hates getting his paws wet. For all that turds pop out with frustrating regularity, he can hold amazing amounts of pee. Some time passed before he realised he wasn’t going to be allowed back in until he’s done something. He daintily picked his way across a very wet lawn and then peed what seemed to be a couple of gallons before glaring at me and stomping angrily to the back door where Fudge was waiting to go inside.
I made toast, and peered into the Internet. Several friends were complaining about the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not defending him in the slightest. From what I’ve seen and heard of him in the news he appears to be an odious little pipsqueak. But what gets me is that for all that Rees-Mogg certainly appears to be undoubtedly a vile and loathsome person with no redeeming features, he has won a legitimate election to be in Parliament, and he got more votes than all the other candidates put together.
Are the opposition parties in such disarray that they really can’t offer up anyone better?
There was mild consternation on the local geocaching Facebook page this morning (the one of which I am still a member). I’d posted a photo of the certificate I’d received earlier in the week and another friend had posted a piccie of hers. These certificates are things given out to people who have attended the Kent Christmas geo-meet and celebrate how much Tupperware we’ve located. Very much a by-us-and-for-us thing, this year they got posted out to those who would have been at the meet had we been allowed to have one. Someone (living on the north Norfolk coast) was whinging that he’d not got a certificate. Facebook groups are not only no substitute for monthly get-togethers, but they also encourage the keyboard warriors who would run a mile rather than say hello to anyone in person.
There were also quite a few posts from people who’ve now packed up for Christmas, and are looking forward to (at least) a two-week break. I’ve still got five more working days before my Christmas break starts (at quarter to four in the afternoon of Christmas Day). But I’m not complaining in the slightest. One of my “memories” that came up on Facebook this morning was of the Christmas jumper day at work from three years ago. Having spent so many years in what was a very toxic environment, it is so good to work somewhere where I don’t lay awake at night feeling physically sick at the prospect of going to work.
An hour and a half after her alarm had woken me, "er indoors TM" emerged from her pit. I shoved a swab up my nose and did my COVID-19 test (negative), cleared the turds from the garden, and settled the dogs, then we went on a little delivering Christmas pressies journey to Hastings. Bearing in mind that they too are now Tier 3, that was allowed by the rules.
And talking of the rules.. We got home to a message from Karl, and we immediately turned on the telly. The Prime Minister was telling the nation that where we live is now subject to Tier 4 restrictions. Which means we can socialise with only one other person that we don’t live with… It does seem odd that those who are still working can come into contact with dozens of people in their workplaces, but only one person outside the workplace. But these are the rules… I shall follow them but I suspect I will be in the minority.
Personally I can’t help but feel that the Prime Minister would command more respect if he didn’t look like he had just been dragged through a hedge backwards.
This isn’t a problem in Lego Advent World…
20 December 2020 (Sunday) - Pluckley
Finding myself wide awake at three o’clock I got up and watched the episodes of “Four In A Bed” that I had recorded yesterday evening. Have you ever watched it? It’s quite fun. The owners of four bed-and-breakfasts spend a night in each other’s establishments and find fault with them. It can all get rather bitchy. But what makes me laugh is when the cameras record mould and filth in the bedrooms, and the owners of that bedroom flatly deny it.
After three episodes I finally felt tired and went back to bed.
At seven o’clock I had a text from Royal Mail telling me that they had been unable to deliver the parcel that they delivered on Friday. I nodded off again, and at eight o’clock I had a text from Sky saying that the new broadband would be going live some time on Tuesday.
Oh, how I laughed.
I made some toast and half of it got wedged in the toaster, so there was a minor delay whilst I took the toaster into the garden to salvage what I could. As I scoffed cold toast I peered into the Internet. I was expecting a lot more whinging about yesterday’s announcement that we were all in Tier 4; there was surprisingly little. I suppose all the whinging has been done already, and there is little left to say.
Having been put into Tier 4 our plans for today had gone west. But the dogs needed an outing so geo-maintenance was the order of the day. We drove down to Rolvenden and waded through a swamp to replace a small cache, and then to pull Fudge and Pogo out of a rabbit hole.
From there we drove out to Pluckley where we walked half a mile across a field and back to replace another cache. All three dogs got filthy and we lost Fudge for five minutes. I took a few photos as we walked, and as we drove home it became apparent where Fudge had been. He’d found fox poo to roll in; the stench was unmistakable.
With the dogs scrubbed "er indoors TM" went off shopping. Since the Tier 4 rules say that only one member of each household needs to go shopping I stayed in and watched the telly for a bit as the dogs slept.
I told the world about today’s instalment of the Advent Calendar, and "er indoors TM" came home and boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we devoured whilst watching one of the many “Bake-Off” compilations and washed it down with a bottle of Liebfraumilch (old skool!)
We’re currently tuned in to the Ener-guys Christmas Zoom meet… it’s not the same as insulting people face-to-face…
21 December 2020 (Monday) - Not Doing Chrstmas Cards
I went to the loo in the small hours and as I
walked a furry bullet flew past me. Fudge was desperate to get out. Whether
he needed a pee or needed to play silly beggars was a matter of conjecture -
he does like running round the garden in the dark. He didn't run round it for
long - it was pouring hard at three o'clock this morning. Sid wanted to go
out as well - I saw that as a minor victory.
I made toast, and whilst everyone else snored I watched an episode of "Big Mouth" before having a look at the Internet. Facebook was heaving with posts supporting Boris Johnson this morning. The general thrust of people's arguments was that he was doing the best he could in a poor situation.
I must admit I disagree with that. If you keep up with the news it is apparent that Boris Johnson is not a man of action. He is a man of inaction. Rather than leading decisively and talking decisions that could have a positive effect, he tends to let matters slide. Opportunities are missed and in the end avoidable events dictate poor outcomes. But because most people *don't* keep up with the news, most people miss this and don't realise that Boris Johnson is generally in a mess of his own making. The current Brexit debacle and the hated Tier 4 restrictions are both examples of that.
As I drove to work (through the rain) the pundits on the radio were talking about Brexit and Tier 4 restrictions and how the Port of Dover is closed. As I drove west-ward along the M20 there was not a single vehicle heading east-wards as the motorway was closed east-bound. The French have banned all travel from the UK (for totally avoidable reasons) and who can blame them?
I drove to Sainsburys. Rather than giving out Christmas cards to colleagues I'd decided to give them sweeties, flapjacks and cookies for the simple reason that given the choice of either a Christmas card or sweeties, flapjacks and cookies, I know what I'd rather have.
Sainsbury's was heaving at 7.30am this morning. What with many people's Christmas plans having gone tits up (thank you Prime Minister) a lot of people were panic-buying the ingredients for the Christmas dinners which they had hoped someone else would be cooking for them. Me - I was panic-buying toilet roll. I was rather amazed to see shelves full of the stuff and so I thought I'd get some before everyone else had the idea of panic-buying.
The fact that we needed some was neither here nor there.
I got to work, bit my bit, and came home down the A20. I had been expecting the journey from hell coming home (what with the motorway being closed) but I was only twenty minutes late getting home.
"er indoors TM" boiled up pie and chips which we scoffed whilst watching the first episode of “Moonbase 8”. I won’t say it was crap, but we won’t be bothering with the second episode.
I told the world about today’s instalment of the Advent adventure, then called up the website of the goat sanctuary. What with one thing and another we’ve not got ourselves organised enough to give out Christmas cards this year, and so rather than giving out cards, I’ve made a donation to the goats.
And in closing today this is (probably) the last blog entry to be posted through the current Internet connection. If there is no update tomorrow you’ll know that the great broadband swap-over went horribly wrong…
22 December 2020 (Tuesday) - New Broadband
"er indoors TM" and the dogs slept very well last night - I don't know who was snoring the loudest, but I clouted all of them several times during the night.
I got up and wasted five minutes chasing Sid round the back yard before making brekkie. As I settled down to scoff it I tuned in to Netflix only to get a "Quack-Quack-Oops" message. Overnight the old broadband provider had clearly thrown in the sponge. I scoffed toast and set off for work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were dribbling on about the traffic chaos on the M20 and were talking about how the east-bound carriageway was now open. Don't believe what you hear - it wasn't open.
There was also talk about traffic chaos in France featuring a frankly embarrassing interview with the manager of the port of Calais who spoke several disjointed and contradictory phrases before announcing that he had another phone call waiting, and hanging up. I've said before that the presenter of Radio Four should avoid live interviews unless they are sure that the person to who they are speaking won't be a total waste of air-time.
There was a lot of speculation about the new strain of the COVID virus in which the presenter tried (and failed) to simplify PhD level virology into layman's terms.
Like yesterday I'd left home expecting motorway madness, and again I got to work far faster than I had expected. I went for a little walk (scattering Munzees as I went) before getting on with the day's round
Just as I started so "er indoors TM" sent a text. She wasn't happy that the internet connection wasn't working. Being twenty-five miles away I felt brave enough to remind her that I'd told her about this several times over the last few weeks.
At half past nine she texted to say the new broadband was working.
At half past ten she texted to say it wasn't.
At quarter to eleven she texted to say the new broadband was working again, and that the police had called asking if we had heard anything on Saturday evening.
Just as I came back from lunch I had a message from the old broadband provider to say that they'd jacked it all in.
An hour later I had a text from Sky to say the new broadband was up and running and that they would be testing it in ten days’ time (!)
Bearing in mind the chaos on the motorway I checked Google Map's traffic information before leaving work this evening. It told me the quickest way home would be via the M20 which bypassed the heavy traffic on the M20 (?)
I came home down the M20’s “Operation Brock” contraflow past several miles of queuing lorries. There were speed limits, but I got home much quicker than yesterday.
Once home it was a matter of seconds to get my phone and lap-top up and running on the new broadband connection and I told the world about today’s Advent instalment, Compared to the hard work that was sorting out the transfer of my mobile phone, the broadband seems to have gone painlessly.
I wonder if it will still be working tomorrow…?
23 December 2020 (Wednesday) - Dog Turds
Finally managing to have a decent night’s sleep I got up and as I walked to the stairs I felt that unmistakable squelch of a humungous dog turd under my foot. As I hopped to get some bleach and a bucket of water from the bathroom I found another epic pile of turd at the foot of the stairs. I have no way of knowing for sure which dog was the culprit, but I doubt whether Sid, Fudge or Treacle could ever create such massive dumps.
With carpet cleaned and slippers in the bin (they were turded beyond redemption) I made some toast and watched the last episode of the current season of “Big Mouth” on Netflix. Netflix was working this morning. Not that I thought it wouldn’t be, but yesterday evening there was a minor hiccup in that the SkyPlus box had lost its internet connection and we seemingly had no way to restore it. Personally I was happy to let it go as we’ve got a Sky-Q box coming in a couple of weeks’ time but "er indoors TM" was having none of it, and got stuck in. I’d left her fighting with the thing when I went to bed last night.
Seeing I had a working internet connection I used it to see what was happening on Facebook. There was quite a lot of blame being assigned on the local Facebook groups. Be it Brexit, the ongoing pandemic, the weather, or the cat’s guts-ache, everyone was blaming everyone else for the ills of the world.
Pausing only briefly to magnetise the tree house and the Skyland (it’s a Munzee thing) I had another search for errant dog turds, set the dishwasher going and got myself ready for work, glaring at a sleeping Pogo as I dressed.
I wandered down the road to find my car, inadvertently walking straight past it. I'd walked a few hundred yards before I realised my mistake. It wasn't *that* far to back-track.
Fortunately the traffic lights at the end of the road were working (they had been broken since Saturday) so getting out of Beaver Road was a lot less stressful than it has been.
As I drove there was a lot of talk on the radio about how mental health services are struggling with the upsurge in demand that the pandemic has generated. I won't go into details, but mental health services have been a major part of my life (for reasons that I have glossed over) during this last year. Sadly in-patient mental health care in Kent consists of very little more than locking up the patients and drugging them, and formal complaints getting replies of "what more can we do?" Hopefully mental health care will be improved as a result of this pandemic; it could be improved locally by the instant dismissal of two consultant psychiatrists (who I won't name here) whose only medical ability seems to be to increase the dosage.
This was followed by the "Thought for the Day" section in which some vicar or other cautioned us against wishful thinking and putting our hopes into not breaking chain letters and reading horoscopes. Somehow those were just a load of old tosh, but all the Nativity stories are real. Go figure.
There was also talk about how the French have opened their borders. Being in the European Union certainly never removed their control of their borders, did it? But for all that the Port of Dover was back in business, lorries were still queued ten miles or more up the coast-bound carriageway of the motorway as I drove to Maidstone.
I got to work where I realised that what with all the excitement of dog turds and having a working internet connection I'd forgotten to do my COVID test.
I booked a vet appointment for Fudge (ongoing kidney stuff) and got on with that which I couldn't avoid.
Despite the lorries having been supposedly moving across the Channel all day, there were still lorries queued back as far up the motorway as Maidstone this evening; a twenty-five mile journey home took over an hour. As I came round the cows roundabout in Ashford there were loads of lorries going round it to use the A-road, One of them got rather close to a car. Too close. I watched the car shaking and heard the noise of the lorry scraping up the side of the car. The car’s driver leapt out of the car – the lorry kept going.
Once finally home I told the world about the penultimate Advent adventure (of this year) and once the dogs had been fed "er indoors TM" popped up to the KFC for dinner. We scoffed it whilst watching “Bake-Off”.
My feet are cold… I could do with new slippers…
24 December 2020 (Thursday) - Christmas Eve ?
Last night one of the dogs curled up on the bed at my feet. You would think that was rather nice, but that dog then grumbled and growled every time I moved the slightest amount. Eventually I tired of the grumbling and got up. Bearing in mind yesterday’s disaster U used the torch on my phone to check for errant turds rather than walking in the darkness.
I made myself a bowl of granola (I’d forgotten we had the stuff) then watched Netflix. “Alien Worlds” is a sort-of documentary about how life might evolve on other planets. I’d been meaning to watch it for some time. I settled down to find out all about the fictitious skygrazers on the equally fictitious plant of Atlas only to find that Fudge had got up and didn’t like skygrazers. I think it was the noise they made, but he growled at them quite impressively. He only stopped growling when Sid dropped a turd whilst straining to climb the dog-ladder (we have a ladder to help the dogs get on to the sofa). At that point Fudge ran upstairs so that he didn’t get the blame.
I had a little rummage round Facebook but it wasn't long before I saw comments saying that the motorway was still closed. So not wanting to spend much of the morning stuck in traffic I got myself ready and set off to work.
Sure enough the motorway was still closed.
I took the A20 to work. The A20 is a standard A-road, but I was amazed at the amount of half-wit drivers who treated it as a motorway in that they expected it to have more than one carriageway in each direction, and found themselves driving head-on at oncoming traffic (i.e. me).
As I drove the radio was interesting. At this time of year the morning news program has guest editors. Today's guest editor was Prue Leith (of "Bake-Off" fame) who had told them that the news articles had to be factual news - *not* unfounded speculation. Those presenting made no secret that sticking to known facts and avoiding unfounded speculation was difficult and seriously cut down that which they could say.
Doubly so this morning with a Brexit deal being strongly rumoured.
I'd not brought lunch; I thought I might get a sandwich when I got petrol this morning. I eventually got to the Sainsbury's filling station in Ayleford where they had three sandwiches left. Three! I asked the woman behind the till if they were deliberately running the stock down for Christmas; she laughed and said those were the left-overs. All of their sandwiches for today were on a lorry stuck in a traffic jam somewhere.
I got to work and found myself reflecting on the first Christmas Eve that I worked as a professional blood tester back in Hastings. It was very different to how today went. Back then the hospital was pretty much emptied of patients on the run-up to Christmas. There would only be a handful of in-patients where usually there were hundreds. (Who wants to spend Christmas in a hospital?) All of the GP surgeries were closed for Christmas back then as well. We would have maybe ten percent (at most) of our usual workload. We would spend the first hour of the day setting up the analysers as we did every day (and still do), and then we would go for a tea break... where the beer flowed. We would drink ourselves silly until mid-day when (leaving management running the show) we would walk from the old Royal East Sussex Hospital to French's in Robertson Street where we would carry on drinking. At about three o'clock in the afternoon we would get a pang of guilt about having left the boss working all on her own and would all stagger back to work where we would find that she had long since gone home, and the night shift (which back then was from five o'clock in the afternoon) had started early.
Over the years things rather calmed down as hospitals became more and more busy. A day on the beer became a long lunchtime with a couple of pints and going home early. And that became a half of shandy over lunch... Eventually hospitals stopped winding down for Christmas... and today was pretty much just the same as any other day at work.
Such a shame...
It is also a shame that today was supposed to have been my last ever Christmas Eve at work as I should have been retiring in less than nine months’ time... but that is a rant that has been done to death.
I did my bit which today in a very un-seasonal way featured malaria and leukaemia, and I got a date for my COVID-19 jab (next week) as well.
And the traffic chaos which had made for a closed motorway this morning was still there and made for a closed motorway this evening. Thousands of drivers are in for a rather dull Christmas…
And here’s the last Advent adventure... of this year at least….
25 December 2020 (Friday) - Early Shift (!)
"er indoors TM" had the place lit up like Piccadilly Circus shortly after midnight and was having quite the rumpus with the dogs shortly before four o'clock when they suddenly all formed an alliance and captured all of the duvet from me.
I gave up trying to sleep, went downstairs and scoffed a bowl of granola whilst watching the second episode of "Alien Worlds". Today's episode looked at things which manage to live in the most extreme of environments and mentioned "Janus" - a fictional tidally-locked planet.
Expecting the motorway to be closed I left early for work. It was rather cold this morning, and sure enough the motorway was closed so I went up the A road. I could see hundreds of lorries queuing on the motorway, and as I went up the A20 I couldn't help but notice that pretty much every space on the roadside that was big enough had a parked lorry on it. I saw several of the drivers sitting in their cabs looking rather morose, and who could blame them. There has been such chaos caused by the French closing their border for only two short days.
As I drove I listened to the radio. Rather than the usual morning program, today they were broadcasting an episode of "Something Understood"; an hour long special which through great writers, poets and composers the presenter found comfort in the face of adversity... or so the BBC website said. Personally having listened to it for about forty minutes I thought it was a load of pretentious old tripe. Surely the BBC could have come up with something better for Christmas morning?
It really is as though the BBC are legally obliged to put on religious content, but knowing full well that hardly anyone will listen to it, they put minimum effort into it... or they deliberately put on a load of old crap as some sort of a joke.
I got to work. Looking back through my diaries I seem to work two out of every three Christmas Days. And it rather goes with the territory - hospitals don't close. I don't *really* mind working on Christmas Day, but if I had my time again I would work somewhere that (if only occasionally) puts up a "closed" sign.
Before I started I took a selfie and posted it to Facebook. I did that once where I used to work and received a written disciplinary warning for doing so, but now I am in a more enlightened working environment. I posted the piccie to both my own page and the works Facebook page, and the “likes” flew in.
Work was work; as is always the way, Christmas Day can be surprisingly busy. I was glad when the relief arrived.
I came home along as much of the motorway as I could, and down the A-road where the motorway was closed. At several points where the A-road was close to the motorway there were white vans parked and people unloading supplies for the lorry drivers stranded on the motorway.
I got home where we had a socially distanced Christmas dinner in which I ate and drank far too much…
26 December 2020 (Saturday) - Lazy Boxing Day
A combination of a week of rather long days (what with the motorway closure), disturbed nights and having eaten and drunk far too much yesterday had taken their toll. I slept for ten hours last night. "er indoors TM" is *never* up before me.
Over some toast I peered into the Internet. A couple of days ago I posted up the last instalment of this year’s Advent calendar and there were a lot of kind comments about it. Over the years the thing seems to have developed a life of its own. I do enjoy doing it, but it can be daunting when I open a window and see a boat or a car of some obscure could-be-anything and I wonder just how I can make a story out of it. Fortunately the voices in my head seem to come up trumps for me.
Yesterday I mentioned that ‘d posted a selfie from work. The posting to the official works page had been “liked” over eighty times (including “likes” from senior managers). The posting to my personal page had got over a hundred and thirty reactions.
Quite a few people were already selling unwanted Christmas presents through the Facebook selling pages, and those with political axes to grind were already singing the praises of (or finding fault with) the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. Bearing in mind that the thing was only announced two days ago (and we had Christmas yesterday) and also bearing in mind the treaty is twice the length of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has anyone read it in full and understood it?
Having seen postings from both sides of the argument it would seem that the deal is the best that could be expected but is (by its very nature) a worse deal than the UK had as a member of the European Union. It bothered me that some people from the “leave” side were surprised to realise this.
We got the dogs onto their new leads and collars and went for a little walk round the park. For all that we are supposedly in Tier 4 there were *loads* of people out walking. We met lots of other dogs, and only had one “episode” and that was when Pogo ran in terror from a bigger dog. One chap walking past with his dog stopped to fuss our dogs and made some comment about how good it was to see all these dogs in the park, as though seeing dogs in the park was some sort of novelty. I formed the distinct impression that he (like so many other dog owners) only took his dog out on holidays and high days.
As we walked round Singleton Lake so Pogo and Treacle chased ducks. Treacle came back dripping wet; I think she fell in the lake. And then we had a moment of sheer panic. Pogo started screaming, and his back leg was sticking out at a very odd angle. At first glance it looked to be broken. I sprinted through the swamp to get to him; he was quite happy to be picked up and didn’t seem bothered when we examined his leg. I carried him for a little, and then we tried him walking. He hobbled for a bit, but soon seemed to forget whatever it was that had given him gyp. Had he twisted his leg chasing a duck? Trodden on a sharp stone? I spent the rest of the walk watching him “like a pork” (to coin a phrase).
We came home for coffee and Christmas cake. I’d got us a good (expensive) cake from Marks and Spencer as a treat.. it was something of a disappointment.
Usually we would be off visiting or having visitors on Boxing Day. But Tier 4 restrictions had put a stop to that. So "er indoors TM" did a Christmas jigsaw whilst I spent the afternoon laying on the sofa watching “Carry On” films that hadn’t stood the test of time. Laying on the sofa was probably a good idea - I wasn’t feeling on top form today. My stomach’s not been right since I scoffed a bag of peanuts from the shop over the road last Sunday.
I watched Carry On until I could stand no more, then had a little look-see at the monthly accounts. I could be a whole lot worse off really…
"er indoors TM"
boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a film.
I’d thought that “A Street
Cat Named Bob” was going to be a lot more Christmassy that it was,
but I’m glad we watched it.
27 December 2020 (Sunday) - Floods
I slept for eight hours lat night – not as much as the night before, but still something of a result. I woke to the forecast torrential rain which put Sid off of going out to “do things”. Once my back were turned he “did things” on the lino. Ho hum…
With the rain having put the kibosh on pretty much anything outside today I set the washing machine loose on some shirts, then thought about brekkie. I made some toast and scoffed it whilst watching the third episode of “Alien Worlds” in which we visited the fictional planet of “Eden” which was orbiting a binary star.
I then sparked up the lap-top to peer into the Internet. There wasn’t much going on today compared to some argumentative days. There were some ungrateful people selling off unwanted Christmas pressies… but I suppose if you’ve been given something you don’t want why not try and make something out of it?
I sent out birthday wishes and seeing that the washing machine had stopped I ironed five shirts whilst watching an old episode of “Hornblower” – is that show *really* twenty years old?
Three hours after I’d first got up "er indoors TM" surfaced along with the dogs. Whilst they did their morning farting about I drove round to Matalan as I’d had an email telling me my trousers were ready to be collected.
I arrived to an empty car park and was about to go home when I saw lights on inside the place. As I walked to the door a woman came out and shrieked about it being “click and collect only”. She didn’t actually say “f… off fatso” but that was clearly her intent. She wasn’t impressed when I gave her my click and collect number, and she grudgingly went and got my parcel. As she handed it to me so a delivery driver rolled up. She glared at him and went and got a colleague, and the two of them told the delivery driver they weren’t accepting deliveries. They were giving deliveries out (to the likes of me) but not taking them in. I couldn’t help but wonder where my parcel had come from… but “not my circus, not my monkeys”. I left them arguing.
I came home, gathered a rather epic crop of dog turds from the back garden and then my phone beeped. The Met Office had cancelled their Yellow Alert of wind and rain and had issued a Yellow Alert of snow and ice instead. Seeing no wind, rain, snow or ice at that moment we thought we might get a quick dog walk in before the weather did turn.
We went round the park only to find floods everywhere – not so much a park as a swamp. But the dogs enjoyed spuddling in the water.
We came home, had cake and I fell asleep in front of the telly whilst “A Shark’s Tale” played. Once I’d woken I built some of the Lego I’d got for Christmas, then watched a few episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which the proprietor of the crappiest little B&B found fault with establishments streets ahead of his own (as always happens on this show).
I think an evening on the beer is in order… the plan for today was to have friends round for dinner… Once this Tier 4 malarkey is over we will do…
28 December 2020 (Monday) - Another Day Off
Again I slept well – over eight hours in the land of nod… can’t be bad. I got up and my piss boiled… What is it with weather forecasts? Why do we take any notice of them? Why don’t Tomasz Schafernaker, Carol Kirkwood, Michael Fish and the like just be honest and admit that they haven’t got a clue what the weather is going to do? With overnight snow and ice and constant rain forecast for today I woke to a glorious morning. I wish I could be as incompetent in my job as weather forecasters are. “Oh – was it cancer? I thought it was a cold!” and then we all have a good laugh….
I came downstairs, gathered up Sid’s turds and then chivvied him outside where he had a tiddle. I suppose turd is easier to clear up than tiddle. Did I ever mention that I never wanted dogs? I made toast and scoffed it whilst watching the last of Netflix’s “Alien Worlds” series in which a fictitious intelligent alien civilisation was moving house (planet). There was quite a bit of speculation in this episode, but it made for good viewing whilst I waited for "er indoors TM" to emerge from her pit.
I sparked up my lap-top. I had yet another friend request from a young lady of (possibly) dubious morals. I considered telling the Facebook Feds about her but decided against doing so – it has been well established over the years that it is quite acceptable for others to try to peddle filth at me on Facebook, but I am not allowed to mention that they have done so.
Seeing a bright morning we took the dogs to the park. As we walked there was a a minor ruckus on a doorstep in Christchurch Road. Some chap with a “Deliveroo” bag was delivering McBreakfast to a house… or was trying to. A hysterical voice inside the house was repeatedly screeching “who the f… is it?” Who the f… did she think it was going to be?
We got to the park; we had a good walk; but not the best. Pogo was a tad shouty and Fudge was a tad wilful. But with the woods being a swamp after the recent heavy rains, the park was probably the best bet for today.
And with walk walked we settled the hounds and drove down to Hastings to spend a bit of time with Mum on her birthday. Probably not Tier 4 compliant, but Mum’s not as well as she has been, and (in all honesty) just how many people *are* following the rules? (I say “rules” – the so-called COVID rules are vague suggestions at best!)
We came home, and we spent the afternoon on the sofa watching episodes of “Four in a Bed”. I did think about doing more Lego, but a lazy afternoon was a good plan.
"er indoors TM" sorted out cold meat and pickle (it is the week after Christmas, after all!) and we scoffed it whilst watching the most recent episode of “Star Trek: Discovery”. It wasn’t a bad episode… I suppose. It would have been better had I cared about any of the main characters. The minor characters in the show are quite likeable, but the lead characters are (for me) like bread and butter pudding with legs.
Such a shame.
29 December 2020 (Tuesday) - Back to Work
I slept well, and for once the alarm woke me. I came downstairs to find Sid demanding to be let out of the kitchen. To his disgust he was let out of the kitchen into the garden but having done “that which was expected of him” I let him into the carpeted areas now that he was “empty”.
I made toast and scoffed it whist watching an episode of “Motherland”; yet another series I seem to have missed on its first time around. And with telly watched I peered into the Internet. Facebook was much the same as ever. Those (mostly teachers) who’ve often berated me for supposedly having so much time off work (not seeming to think that night and weekend work counts for anything) were complaining about how endless the Christmas holidays seem to be. Those who live fifty miles from any coast were suddenly experts on the UK fishing industry and were up in arms about the government’s supposed betrayal of the UK’s fishermen in the Brexit deal. Has the UK got any professional fishermen any more? Back in the 1970s the fishmongers of the historic Cinque Port of Hastings were getting their supplies from Billingsgate as the local fishermen didn’t bring in enough to supply the town, let alone the nation.
It was cold as I went off to find my car, but not as cold as it might have been. Again the forecast snow and ice had come to nothing, and I was glad to see the motorway was now open... but probably nowhere near as glad as the drivers that had been stuck on it over the long Christmas break.
As I drove to work today the pundits on the radio were pretty much ignoring the burning issues of the day. Today's guest editor Margaret Atwood (who?) seemed to have an axe to grind about Canadian history. There was a lot of talk about the persecution of the Inuit (Eskimo) people, likening the early Canadian settlers' treatment of the locals to the Holocaust. Was it that bad? I don't know, but even if it was, what on Earth can be done about it now?
I got to work; I did my thing. At lunchtime I slipped out and joined the queue for the COVID-19 vaccination. I filled in my questionnaire, had a chat with the doctor, had a chat with the nurse, and had the injection. As did a *lot* of other people. It is daft - I don't mind having blood taken. In the past I would let the trainees practice taking blood from me. I am covered in tattoos (and that *hurts*). But I really don't like injections.
And with injection done I sat and carried on doing my thing with a throbbing arm... but the arm which was throbbing was not the one that the injection had gone in to. What was that all about.
Just before I went back to work I posted to Facebook to tell the world that I had had the jab in the hope I might scare up some crackpot reaction. It has to be said that I had been hoping for "you must be mad - no one know what is in that untested muck – my grannie’s cat’s girlfriend said that Elon Musk uses the co-called vaccine to inject you with tracking microchips" reactions from people who have no idea what is in their tattoo ink or what makes their sparkly gin so glittery. But all I got was support and mild jealousy that I got the jab so early. Perhaps the nut-case element were safe in their tin-foil helmets?
I came home via Aldi as I was short on shower gel. Whilst I was at it I got one or two other bits and bobs, and tried not to scream out loud as about fifty or so of the Great Unwashed blundered about utterly oblivious that there were forty-nine or so other people in the shop. As I walked out a colleague of mine was walking in. I warned her that no one was watching where they were going. The two people following me had the good grace to go red, look at their feet and mumble apologies.
I came home to an empty house… I say “empty” – there were more dogs than sense but "er indoors TM" was missing. I wonder where she’s gone – I wonder who will cook my tea?
30 December 2020 (Wednesday) - Happy Birthday Sid
Someone was snoring for much of the night. "er indoors TM" or one of the dogs? Whoever it was, I wish they would be quiet next time.
I finally nodded off just before the alarm went off and came downstairs maybe thirty seconds too late to get Sid into the garden (bless him!)
I watched another episode of “Motherland” as I scoffed a bowl of granola, then had my morning rummage round the Internet. Facebook was on the dull side. No one was squabbling at all, which was probably for the best. Other than aliens having phoned from Alpha Centauri, pretty much nothing at all had happened overnight (and it later transpired that the aliens were a false alarm).
I sent out birthday wishes, then got myself ready for work.
Pausing only briefly for Munzee purposes I went off to find my car. It was easy to find - it was the one under all the ice. Five minutes of vigorous scraping soon got it ready to go and I set off work-wards. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about various countries’ attitudes toward taxation and funding of public services. Great show was made of the American tax system in which tax rates are very low compared to other countries; the idea being a very small state-run sector is a good thing. If the public want anything at all they can pay for it from private sector suppliers on an as-needed-for-profit basis. For example why should I fund schools when my children stopped going to them fifteen years ago? Or why should I pay for the hospitals which I use oh-so-rarely?
Personally I don't hold with this school of thought – Take the hospitals that I don’t use very often. When I do use them (like my nasal surgery or my dodgy hip of last year) I run up a bill of thousands which I am very glad that I don’t have to pay myself. And following on from that example... Veterinary care is provided by the private sector here in the UK and is a microcosm of the pay-as-you-need-it American healthcare system. Fudge's iffy kidneys cost me the thick end of sixty quid a month. As it was pointed out on the radio, American health care is effectively a luxury for the rich.
As I did my bit at work so my phone rang. It was my local hospital. I had an out-patient appointment with then in a few weeks' time as a follow-up to the surgery I'd had done on my nose last year. They'd phoned me to cancel the appointment. They've cancelled all out-patient appointment for January. That's a tad worrying - so much for the COVID-deniers, eh?
With work done I came home and spent a little while on the insurance comparison websites. Bearing in mind the savings I made by consolidating mobile phone, telly and internet with Sky, and also bearing in mind I halved the cost of our house building and contents insurance I wondered if I might get a more competitive quote for Fudge.
What with his spondylosis and his chronic kidney failure, no company wanted to take him on. We shall stick with what we’ve got as we seem to have little choice.
And in closing, today is Sid’s birthday. He is ten. Of all the dogs he has been in the family the longest and is firmly at the bottom of the pecking order. He’s a lazy little thing, often going to hide when “walkies” is mentioned. He’s a greedy little thing, being first in the queue whenever there is any hint of scraps of food.
He’s ten today.
31 December 2020 (Thursday) - New Year's Eve (?)
Despite a rather vivid nightmare in which I had been charged with running the work’s pantomime (Avenue Q) at incredibly short notice I slept well, waking only a minute or so before the alarm.
I came downstairs and chivvied Sid round the garden where he tiddled, wandered around, then bimbled back into the kitchen; finally dropping turds as he came in. Just as I finished clearing up so Fudge came downstairs. At least he is capable of going outside unsupervised.
I did my COVID-19 test; despite having been jabbed I still have to do them every four days. Then as I scoffed brekkie I watched an episode of “Motherland” before having my daily morning perusal of the Internet. There was a minor squabble kicking off on one of the local Facebook pages in which a well-meaning young mother had tried to organise a charity cake sale and was getting rather harsh criticism from some misery-guts who clearly had no intention of doing anything public-spirited. As I have said before, no good deed ever goes unpunished.
My Facebook feed featured adverts for a local milkman. I suppose he’s not *that* much more expensive than the supermarket, but I can remember walking to school back in the day when doorstep deliveries of milk were commonplace. For those of my loyal readers who are too young to remember, back in the days when dinosaurs walked the Earth, milkmen would drive round at silly o’clock in the morning delivering milk. They would leave it on your doorstep so that when you got up you’d have milk waiting for you. However the local blue tits would peck open the bottles to get at the milk, and bottles on the doorstep were fair game for passing schoolkids – not to drink but to throw around.
I sent out birthday wishes, and got ready for work.
Just as I was finishing scraping the ice from my car one of the normal people came past walking his dog. I was rather impressed - I couldn't see my wolf-pack getting their arses out of bed quite so early in the morning. I said "Hello Pup" to the dog (as I do to most dogs), and that clearly put the wind up the normal person. He sort-of squirmed, and with a very sickly smile muttered "good morning sir" and hurried off as quickly as he could.
I drove half a mile out of my way to Hawks Way where there was a geocache I'd not found before. Bearing in mind there is usually an e-souvenir to be had for logging a find on New Year's Eve I thought a quick find wouldn't hurt.
I found the cache - I didn't get an e-souvenir. After a little farting about I found out that this year the e-souvenir wasn't just for New Year's Eve - it was for any time in the last week of the year and I'd actually received it on Monday afternoon whilst rummaging in a hedgerow five miles from my mother's house.
I've rather got out of geocaching recently. Since all the lock-downs and tiers we've not been able to meet up, and the on-line geo-places have been invaded by the keyboard warriors. So many hobbies are spoiled by those who don't actually do the hobby but stir up arguments about it instead. When lock-downs lift things will improve as there is no way any of the rather nasty people seemingly infesting cyberspace would ever want to meet anyone in person, but for now hunting Tupperware has become something of a lonely pursuit.
As I drove up the motorway the Education Minister was being interviewed on the radio... I say "being interviewed"; "being harangued" might have been a more accurate description of what was going on. For all that he is a bit of a tit, he did sum up the frustration I was feeling when he (rather tersely) snapped at his inquisitor "... if I could be allowed to finish a single sentence". However at that point the interviewer actually closed her mouth and let him speak more than a few words, thereby allowing him to prove what a twit he was. Not only did he claim that black was white and shit was sugar, he said that schools both would and would not re-open in January. He claimed that all the problems of the schools would be solved by the troops that were being deployed to assist, even though there would only be one thousand five hundred troops spread out over the nation's three thousand four hundred (and something) secondary schools. Having a degree in mathematics, I've worked that out to be one soldier for every two (and a bit) schools. And the minister was rather vague about exactly what these soldiers would be doing in the schools anyway.
But, as I've said before, it is easy to knock the government. How many of us have ever stood up for public office? Personally I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Throwing rocks from the sidelines is so much easier.
I got to work rather later than usual and (as ever) did my bit. Today I had something of a "platelet clumps" day and may well wax loquacious about the things elsewhere on the Internet over the next few days.
I came home to a very clingy dog. Fudge was very quiet and subdued and wouldn’t leave my side. I think he’s sickening for something.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with probably far too much giggle juice. Usually New Year’s Eve is a gathering of the clans in Folkestone for Spanish New Year, but COVID-19 had put paid to that for this year. The plan is a Zoom cyber-meet-up for midnight… if we are still awake.
And that’s it for another year… At the beginning of the year I wrote “Here’s hoping for the future…”
This last year has been an odd one.
It started very well with a bracing walk on New Year’s Day. I ran what I thought was a very good geo-meet in February. We had a particularly good few days away in Cambridgeshire over my birthday. We had a very good week away in Wiltshire over the summer. Interspersed with this were quite a few weekend walks.
I could have done so much more if not for that global pandemic which rather pissed on everyone’s chips… Realistically it will pogger up 2021 probably just as much as it did 2020. I have a naïve optimism about life. I try to hope for the best whilst expecting the worst. It is a philosophy which seems to work… and I think that it will be rather applicable for the next few months…