1 December 2022 (Thursday) - The Advent Calendar Begins...
Many years ago (forty-six to be precise) my best mate of the time learned a new word. For a few months absolutely everything in his world was described as "monotonous". Regular readers of this drivel will know that this best describes my mornings. I lay awake for far too long, take puppies into a cold dark morning then take them upstairs where they snore on top of “er indoors TM” as I scoff toast whilst watching whatever drivel that Netflix has to offer.
On some mornings the monotony is broken by my forgetting where I'd parked the car and spending twenty minutes roaming the streets trying to find it, but there was no such excitement this morning.
As I drove to work the pundits of the radio were banging on about how long ambulances wait outside hospitals before they can unload their patients and about various enquiries into quite tragic NHS failings. There has been a very noticeable change in the BBC's attitude toward the NHS over the last few weeks. The BBC clearly doesn't like the idea of strikes in the NHS, and is sticking in the knife. What the BBC tends to ignore is that the NHS is massively overworked, and who on Earth is going to choose a career in the NHS when you can get far more money for far less training and far less responsibility by doing no end of other jobs. For example standing on a train platform swearing at the passengers (as I have experienced) pays ten grand a year more than the average nurse gets.
And then there was the sad tale of Ngozi Fulani (chief executive of Sistah Space) and Lady Susan Hussey (who has resigned as an honorary Lady of the Household, at Buckingham Palace). Ms Fulani was attending some reception at Buckingham Palace where Lady Hussey made the mistake of asking Ms Fulani "Where are you from" even though Ms Fulani is as British as Lady Hussey. But having declared that she found the encounter as a “violation” and said the experience will “never leave me”, Ms Fulani then went on the radio this morning and said that "in her culture" people had respect for the elderly (like Lady Hussey)... Am I being an old reactionary in wondering exactly what Ms Fulani meant by "in her culture"?
In the meantime after sixty years of (unpaid) service to the Royal Family, Lady Hussey has been thrown under the bus.
I went to Sainsburys this morning as I needed some biccie bars for lunch. I got a few bottles of plonk and Baileys and amaretto too. Here's a tip - amaretto is cheaper in Lidl than in Sainsburys. I know that as the nice lady filling the shelves in Sainsbury told me so.
And then when I went to pay... there was no one on the tills so I had to use the self-service checkouts. Because I was scanning bottles of wine they had to be approved. As I scanned the first bottle so the red light above the checkout lit up. At that point the sour-faced old bat (in Sainsburys uniform) who had been watching my every move (like a hawk) made a point of walking away and turning her back so she could pretend she hadn't seen the red light.
Eventually she did what she had to, but it was clearly very much under protest. I suggested that if they had staff operating the proper tills she wouldn't have had to put herself out. She didn't actually say "F*** you, you big fat f***er", but she did sarcastically ask me which of the staff I thought might have gone to the till to open it up. She looked like she was going to explode when I suggested any one of the four people that she'd just been gossiping with.
As I was peering down my microscope so my phone rang. It was the nice lady at Sky TV. Did I have five minutes to spend with her looking at my account to see if there were any savings to be had? We spent five minutes, and she offered to cut my monthly payment by a fiver. That was kind of her. She then said that as I'd been with them for twenty-two years (!) they had a deal with the Sky Cinema package that I might like. I must admit that I wasn't overly keen on the movies, but “er indoors TM” likes them, and the Paramount Plus channel comes free with the Sky Cinema package. And in this brave new world you need the Paramount Plus channel to be able to watch Star Trek. So after the fiver she'd taken off and my loyalty bonus I ended up getting eighteen quid a month's stuff for only four quid extra. I saw that as something of a result.
But I found myself wondering... Twenty-two years? Is it really that long since we got Sky TV? I can remember the first time I ever saw Sky TV. It was at Chris's house and I was absolutely amazed that it had the same adverts as ITV and Channel Four.
With work done I came home and refereed the dogs. With Treacle on one side of me and the puppies on the other I formally declared myself to be a demilitarized zone, but they weren’t having it and insisted on fighting a pitched battle in my lap.
I wish they wouldn’t do that.
Meanwhile the Lego Advent Calendar has kicked off… I’m toying with the idea of having a plot this year. I just need to get one.
2 December 2022 (Friday) - Cake, Telly
Being awake far too early (again) I got up, tiddled the puppies (in about a tenth of the time we took yesterday evening), and then set about brekkie. There was a particularly strange thing in this morning's episode of "Stranger Things"... Given that you are having a gun battle with your arch-nemesis (who has made no secret of the fact that he wants to kill you), and given that your arch-nemesis is laying unarmed and defeated at your feet do you either shoot him in the head, or shoot him continually in the bullet-proof vest until your gun is empty, and then act surprised and frustrated when he gets up, kicks you in the knackers, and runs away?
As I watched telly I listened to the bin men bellowing as they moved the bins about, and again twenty minutes later as they collected the bins.
They really can’t be expecting any Christmas tips this year, can they?
I set off to work listening to the pundits on the radio talking about yesterday’s by-election in somewhere-or-other up north. Labour have increased their majority by thousands. Everyone being interviewed was banging on about how well the Labour party are doing in the polls. But are they *really* doing well? I can't help but think that they are bimbling along in their usual well-intentioned-but-rather-crap way whilst the Conservatives are doing incredibly badly.
There was a lot of talk from the (football) World Cup from which some of the top tipped teams are now on their way home. Surprisingly (apparently) the Japanese team are doing really well. Those who were being interviewed on the matter made no secret that this is because of all the European players that are in the Japanese team... but according to Wikipedia there's no Europeans in the team. Don't believe all that the vacuous windbags spout on the radio...
I got to work far earlier than I needed to be there and had a rather macrocytic day (!) However there was cake. It was a shame I was late getting out, but there’s hospital work, eh?
I came home and eventually parked quite some distance from home, and walked through the rain to be greeted by some rather excited dogs who couldn’t decide whether to say hello to me or to have a fight amongst themselves. It’s a dog thing…
“er indoors TM” sorted a rather good bit of dinner which we devoured whilst watching the last episode of the current series of “Taskmaster”. With that watched we can now make a start on the rest of the crap we’ve recorded, to say nothing of all the movies we’ve now got through Sky Cinema and the stuff I’ve added to my Netflix list.
I could do with retiring if only to find time to watch all the telly I’ve stored up…
3 December 2022 (Saturday) - Early Shift
As I stood in the garden (with tiddling puppies) at five o'clock this morning I had a little look around and was amazed to see there were more houses with lights on than houses in darkness. It's not just me who's up silly early then?
I made toast, planned my morning Munzee mission, and then spent five minutes trying to get out of the house. The front door was jammed. Once I'd woken all the dogs in my fight with the door I eventually got out of the house and walked seemingly miles to where I'd parked the car last night. On the way to the car I deployed a gingerbounce house (it’s a Munzee thing); I've not deployed one of those before. As I walked I passed loads of people all walking about. All dressed in black in the pitch darkness.
I set off up the motorway. After five minutes I gave up listening to "Open Country" in which someone or other went for a walk in the countryside and intended wasting half an hour going "blah blah blah" about it on the radio. Walking for half an hour in the countryside is rather good... listening to someone going "blah blah blah" about it seemed a rather tedious option so I switched over to Ivor Biggun songs and spent the journey wondering about what I could say about what I'd got out of my Lego Advent Calendar this morning.
I drove to one of the roads near work and spent half an hour Munzing in the dark. As part of the Clan War (which started this morning) we have to Munz Munzees which haven't been Munzed for over a year. There's quite a cluster of Munzees near work that were put out over a year ago and hadn't ever been Munzed, so I got eight of the things and found two Qrates as well. Go me!
I toyed with the idea of having the cooked brekkie at work but thought better of it. Instead I cracked on with work and sulked. First because I was missing the Saturday Dog Club; Saturday Dog Club has fast become "a thing" in my world. The pups love it, and Treacle even tolerates it. And a little later in the day I had a sulk that I was missing the Christmas Geo-Meet. Mind you I'm not sure that I was missing much. In years gone by the Christmas Geo-Meet was one of the highlights of the year with dozens of hunters of Tupperware coming along for the event. When I looked this morning there were less than ten people signed up for it. Mind you as I've been saying for some time, geocaching is dying on its arse. Sadly when all the Karens who don't know the first thing about infection control demanded that the hobby close over lockdown, everyone who was seriously active in the game went to the dark side of Munzing (we certainly did) and didn't come back.
With work worked I went to Sainsburys for a few bottles for tomorrow and some fish food. And then the courtesy car told me that its tyres were under pressure (aren’t we all) so I drove over to their filling station and had a fight with the air machine. I managed to get the tyres pumped up; it cost me a quid, and I got a load of grease all over my hands as something of a freebie.
I came home to consternation. “er indoors TM” had the arse as someone had eaten the bathroom mat. No one was actually caught red-handed (paw-ed?) but the sensible money is suspecting Morgan.
Jose and Maria called, and we all drove round to the New Chimneys for a pre-Christmas dinner.
Sadly the New Chimneys might not have been the best venue though. The raw vegetables were bone dry, and a thimble of gravy didn’t go far between seven. Perhaps having had staff who’ve actually left school and weren’t just trying to earn some pocket money might have helped. And personally I’d rather not eat dinner whilst listening to the thug element screaming abuse at the sport on the telly. Someone on an adjacent table asked to speak to the manager and was told he’d gone home (!)
But we had a good catch up and we had a great get-together. Must do it again more often… Somewhere else, though…
4 December 2022 (Sunday) - Family Christmas Party
I was woken shortly after seven o’clock when a wet nose shoved itself up my bum, and as I jumped I ricked my neck. “er indoors TM” had “done the puppies” this morning and brought them up to the bed. I lay awake for a few minutes wondering what was in the Lego Advent Calendar for today. Every year I buy the thing in the early Autumn and it sits on the shelf with each window unopened until the intended day. Every morning in December I open the window and think “WTF” to myself.
As I pondered on what I could say I made toast and had a look at the Internet. There was a squabble kicking off on the Facebook “Lego Scammers Page”. Apparently tricking people out of money by offering to sell a Lego set you haven’t got is big business these days. The etiquette is that when you put up a photo of the set you are selling you put a scrap of paper with your name on, or the picture includes your face. The idea is that buyers can see you actually have the set to sell, and that you haven’t bagged a generic photo from the Internet. This move is proving very popular amongst those who don’t want to be scammed, but is very unpopular with those who are trying to cheat people out of money.
I took the dogs for a little walk round the block. They are getting better on leads. I would rather have gone somewhere else for a decent walk, but the rules say no dogs in the courtesy car. We walked round the cold streets, Munzing as we went.
As we walked so the local church started clanging its bell. They’ve only got the one, and it gets clanged every week. For years I didn’t realise it was a church bell. I always thought it was local kids bashing something against an old tin bath.
We settled the dogs and drove to Folkestone where we collected “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” then headed on to Hastings for the family Christmas gathering. What with work I’ve missed the last few so I was rather glad to get along today. A very good spread with far too much to drink. Fun party games for the littluns (with which I obviously joined in) and I even got to sit on Santa’s knee. Result!
I slept all the way home.
“er indoors TM” dropped me off and took the most recent fruit of my loin to see her brother. Once home I woke the dogs and tiddled them, then all four of us slept whilst Alexa played Christmas music at us until “er indoors TM” came home with KFC.
I put the finishing touches to the presentation for tomorrow’s interview and now I need to work up some enthusiasm for it… I’m still not convinced I want to go back to being in charge…
5 December 2022 (Monday) - An Interview
I couldn't get warm when I went to bed last night. I eventually nodded off but Treacle came to bed with “er indoors TM” at quarter past midnight. In making herself comfortable, Treacle pulled all the blankets off of me. I lay awake for much of the rest of the night. To add insult to injury, once I'd tiddled the puppies “er indoors TM” was snoring quite impressively when I dumped the puppies on her.
I sparked up the telly with a view to be watching an episode of "Stranger Things" but found myself wrapped up with one of these ten-minute adverts that run on early morning telly. Somme rather foxy young lady (in a very tight leotard) was telling the world that "sitting is the new smoking" and that rather than just "being sedentary" people should be "sitting actively". In order to "sit actively" she advocated some treadmill-thingy that you peddled whilst you sat. It looked interesting; I was actually sold on the thing (and her tight leotard!). I was actually toying with the idea of getting one (the treadmill-thingy, not the tight leotard!) until she told us the price. Two hundred and fifty quid!! I had been prepared to splash out twenty quid on it...
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were gabbling non-stop about how the leading English footballer Raheem Sterling had flown home from the ongoing football world cup. As I drove the story was that his fiancé and children had been held at gun-point by armed robbers. But three hours later the story was that no one had been home at the time of the break-in and no violence had been used.
I find myself wondering just how much of the morning news is “news” and how much is “made up bollox”.
And on seeing how well they are doing in the opinion polls, that idiot Sir Kier Starmer has decided it is time to make the Labour Party unelectable (yet again)
I got to work and bided my time until eleven o’clock when I put on a tie. I had an interview for the newly-created position of departmental training lead. On the one hand I’m very content doing what I’m doing. On the other hand I’ve had everyone from the boss’s boss’s boss to the lowliest trainee all telling me I should apply for it.
The interview went as well as any interview went, but it isn’t how well I did, is it? It is how well the other candidates did. But I’ve been thinking about this job for the last month or so. Do I want it? In all honesty I’m not keen for several reasons. I’d do less nights and weekends (and consequently have less time in the woods with the dogs). And I’d have to do that awful drive to Pembury more often. And I’d have to be sensible again as it is a management position. It would be a lot more hard work for (pretty much) the same money. And I’m actually quite content doing what I’m currently doing.
Mind you, no one’s offered me the job yet. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.
I’d booked the afternoon as leave. I came home and found my new trousers (that I’d ordered from Amazon) thrown against the front door. The Amazon driver has reported on-line that he’d handed them to the resident. He hadn’t…
Once I’d changed out of my suit I walked the dogs round the block. Morgan growled at other dogs as they passed by on the other side of the road. I wish he wouldn’t do that.
I watched an episode of “Stranger Things” as I did some ironing. Ironing is dull. And with ironing ironed I slept through an episode of ”Ancient Aliens” in which ancient aliens had hidden black holes on the sea bed for no explicable reason.
“er indoors TM” went bowling (as she does) and I sat with sleeping dogs and watched a film on Netflix “Strangeways Here We Come” was odd in the extreme… I quite liked it…
I wonder if I’ve got that job… I wonder if I want it?
6 December 2022 (Tuesday) - Home Alone (with the dogs)
I slept right through till half past four last night; I saw that as something of a result. I did my usual routine with the puppies, made toast and watched an episode of "Stranger Things" in which no "things" (strange or otherwise) happened. Sometimes that show can be rather dull.
Pausing only briefly to open today’s window of the Advent Calendar I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the so-called MedPro scandal in which the Labour party are alleging that Baroness Michelle Mone and her family have made millions out of a contract between the government and a firm supplying PPE equipment. I can only think that the Labour party are just stirring trouble here. Has Baroness Michelle Mone actually made any money out of the deal? Yes or no? If yes, has she acted illegally? If yes, call the police. If no, then the Labour party should shut their rattle because it is widely assumed and accepted that all politicians (of all parties) are only in it for what they can get out. And if Labour are mixing it about a particular Tory, it won't take long at all for the Tories to find someone in the Labour party who isn't one hundred per cent beyond reproach, will it?
There was also talk about the Netflix documentary being released about Prince Harry. The general consensus was that everyone hopes he's happy in his new life in America as he has certainly pissed on his chips in the UK with his popularity fast going down the pan. His mother got away with sticking the knife into the Royal Family, but it don't look like he will manage quite so well.
The news rarely features anyone doing anything good, does it?
I got to work and did that which I could not avoid. Quite a few people asked how yesterday’s interview went. Quite a few people seemed rather keen that I might take the job if offered it (I haven’t been offered anything yet). I smiled politely at everyone (as I do). I’m still undecided.
An early start meant for an early finish. It took me an absolute age to get home, and one home I walked the pups round the block. Only a few short months ago we would go to the woods after an early shift; today it was dark when I got home. We walked round the block; we came home. As I took my shoes off I heard a crunching. Morgan was eating something he shouldn’t. He’d got a USB key thingy from somewhere and was sitting in his basket chomping away.. I hope it was nothing irreplaceable…
Once the pups had scoffed their dinner I scoffed mine. With “er indoors TM” and Cheryl off to bingo I’d been left “home alone” and so I’d called in at the works branch of M&S before coming home. Chinese Chicken Wings and turmeric flavoured cauliflower was actually a whole lot better than it sounds.
As I scoffed I watched more “Stranger Things” in which (unlike this morning) some very strange things happened.
I wonder when “er indoors TM” will be home…
7 December 2022 (Wednesday) - Stop That!!!
I had another good night, sleeping right through till five o'clock. I took the dogs out; they both did that which was expected of them right away. Flushed with success I made toast and watched a bit of telly before opening the advent calendar and setting off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about a rather puritanical move by the Indonesian government who have declared that sex outside of marriage is illegal in their jurisdiction. Presumably the singles out there will be clad in stout hessian undergarments as God intended? I can't help but wonder how the Indonesian Feds intend to enforce this law. Are they going to go out actively hunting down those doing the dirty deed?
And that idiot Donald Trump's in trouble again. The last election in the recent bout of elections in America saw his preferred candidate getting beaten, and his company has been found guilty of criminal tax fraud.
Apparently Mr Trump has announced it is all a conspiracy to piss on his chips. Well, he would, wouldn't he?
I got to work and had something of a shock. Back in the day when I was a manager I shared an office with someone for a long time. A short while after I moved out of that office I had something of an episode in life (to which I have alluded from time to time) during which I found out who my friends were. Like quite a few people I'd considered to be good friends, this chap (with whom I'd worked very closely and with whom I'd been in very close contact every day for five years) dropped me like a hot potato. I'd not seen him for a long time, but he had some reason to be talking to the bosses at work today.
He looked a tad sheepish when he saw me. What do you do in such a situation? I couldn't really tell him to get stuffed, could I? Perhaps I should have done? Instead I contented myself with blanking him and telling everyone what a git he was. Perhaps that was a tad petty and harsh of me, but I wasn't in the best frame of mind today. Either the Chinese chicken or the curried cauliflower I'd scoffed last night hadn't sat right, and I had something of a bellyache that lasted all day.
As I worked so my phone rang. It was the people who are fixing my car. I say "fixing"; they phoned with the news that it was fixed. I collect it on Friday morning. I shall be glad to get my car back. The courtesy car is all very well, but it does smell funny. It has got a clean, plastic-y mall that is difficult to describe. Perhaps "not smelling of dogs in any way" is perhaps most accurate and is presumably the main reason why the people who provided it don't want dogs in it.
And then the boss asked if she could have five minutes of my time…. How did I think Monday’s interview went? Would I take the job is offered it? I told her that it wasn’t how well I did, it was how well everyone else did that counted, and that I was still rather unsure. I told her I wasn’t keen on the travelling to Pembury every day, and thought I’d probably get fed up with the travel. She smiled, and said would I prefer a not entirely dissimilar role based at Maidstone?
8 December 2022 (Thursday) - So Cold
It was rather cold when I took the puppies into the garden at dark o'clock this morning. Rather than doing what was expected of them and coming straight back (like they usually do in the morning) there was a lot of "silly beggars" being played today. Eventually I had enough and tried to catch them to carry them in, but they are speedy enough at the best of times; let alone when high-spirited and zooming round an icy dark garden. After I nearly fell in the pond for the second time I gave up and decided they could stay outside and shiver. They must have read my mind since as I opened the back door so I nearly fell over them both as they sprinted inside.
I watched an episode of "Stranger Things" as I scoffed toast; it is quite clear that the writers never expected the show to be as successful as it is and to run for as long as it has. The plot is clearly being made up as it goes along.
Mind you I've been doing that with my Lego Advent Calendar for years, so I'm in no position to take the moral high ground, am I?
I then wandered up the road to find the car. It was a shame I was finding "the" car and not "my" car. "My" car has an ice scraper in it, I spent a few minutes having a go at the ice on the courtesy car's windscreen with the swipe card for the works' car park before eventually setting off.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the planned strikes. There was talk of "travel chaos", but I can't see what chaos there will be. With airport and railway staff on strike, no one will be travelling at all, will they?
It was claimed that the army has got the arse and isn't happy at having to keep the country going as the strikes hit. I can see their point in that this isn't why they signed up, but what else would they be doing?
There was a lot of talk about the government bringing in legislation to ban strikes in critical jobs (like ambulance drivers) but will this achieve much? To my mind this will just make the recruitment problems worse.
I had a little Munzee mission before work. Today as part of the Clan War I had to magnetize a mystery in order to get a jukebox. There's never a dull moment when scanning bar codes stuck to lamp posts, is there? And with mysteries magnetized and jukeboxes found I went to the petrol station. The rules are that the courtesy car has to go back (tomorrow) with half a tank of petrol, so hopefully I put in enough.
There was a minor mishap as I got back into the car after filling it. As I sat down somehow I managed to sit on my knackers. That made me sit up and take notice. I don't know how I managed it; I wish I did. I would certainly not do it again. I spent much of the morning feeling rather sick after that.
I considered using a piccie of “Buster Gonad” as today’s piccie, but thought better of that…
Work was work. We had the inspectors in, but I managed to avoid them. As I worked so my phone rang. It was the nice people fixing my car. Did they want me to deliver it to home tomorrow rather than me going to collect it from Dover? Yes please!
I then paid the excess. Forty-five quid. The nice lady on the phone said that was the lowest excess charge she’d ever seen. Am I onto a bargain with my insurance, or are they just charging too much? Either way it is now nine weeks since they said they would phone me to discuss whether or not the smack to the car was my fault or not, and despite being prompted several times they have not got back to me. Once I’ve got my car back I shall look at getting another insurer.
I came home to find “er indoors TM” and the pups off out on a mission. I left them to it and started the munz-admin for the Clan War (as I am “El Supremo” for our clan this month). It don’t take long, and it’s something I can do easily enough.
A bit of dinner, a bit of Netflix… shame it is so icy cold tonight…
9 December 2022 (Friday) - Before the Night Shift
I finally got warm in bed last night then “er indoors TM” started flapping the duvet about. I got warm again, and she started flapping the duvet about again. And so it continued. In the morning she was adamant she’d been still all night. What was that all about?
“er indoors TM” dealt with the puppies’ toilet ritual this morning. I made toast, then peered into the Internet. It was still there. There was a lot of talk on one of the dachshund Facebook pages about whether or not it was too cold to take dogs out, and whether or not dogs would wear coats. As always everyone had an opinion, and expressing a difference of opinion was tantamount to a declaration of war
Someone was selling a full-sized police box TARDIS. I quite liked the look of it. The thing would sit nicely at the end of the garden and I could put all the electricals for the pond into it… A bargain at only six thousand pounds.
There was a knock on the door. The nice man had arrived with my car. It looked just like it used to before the side got all scuffed up; it’s only a shame it took the insurance people three months to sort out what the local garage could have done (cheaper) in a couple of days.
I left the nice man with the courtesy car and put my boots on whilst “er indoors TM” got the dogs into their coats. Some went easier than others but I think it fair to say that none of them are as bad with a coat as Fudge used to be.
We drove through the fog up to Kings Wood, and set off on a walk. After a couple of minutes I realised that Bailey had escaped from her coat; it was laying on the path behind us. She had her coat put back on but soon escaped from it again. Eventually I tired of stuffing her back into her coat. I couldn’t work out if she deliberately wriggles out of it, or whether she walks out of it as it is too big.
And then I lost her…
I could hear a woofing. Bailey had gone straight through the mesh of a wire fence and was bothering a couple of horses. I say “bothering”; the horses didn’t seem fussed. I blew on the whistle and when she came for the treat I dragged her back through the fence. This is a tad worrying… we’ve been walking past this fence several times a week over the last few months and she’s shown no interest in it before. Mind you there’s never been anything in that field before.
And then on finding the fox poo too frozen to roll in, she ate it. Bailey was rather troublesome this morning.
Morgan and Treacle were as good as gold…
We came home; I popped up to the corner shop. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I went up there to get something to scoff with our morning coffee when the car went for fixing but they’d sold out back then. At the time I said “Sometimes they’ve got loads left at mid-day, other times they’ve sold out at ten o’clock”. Today they had loads left at eleven o’clock.
I made a cuppa and tried to warm croissant and pain au chocolat in the microwave… Eventually I managed. It has to be said that for all that the builder chap made a thoroughly excellent job of fitting the new kitchen, I absolutely hate it, and would willingly pay to have it all put back as it used to be.
“er indoors TM” scoffed her pain au chocolat as she did her working from home. I scoffed my croissant as I did my CPD. Despite my CPD blog being almost as dull as this drivel, it has been viewed over six hundred times over the last week.
And then it was mid-day… I went to bed for the afternoon and slept for over three hours, which was something of a result. With “er indoors TM” working from home the dogs all wanted to stay downstairs with her, and so I had no one competing for the hot water bottle, and no one flapping the duvet about either..
I’ll have a bit of scoff in a minute, then I’m off to the night shift…
10 December 2022 (Saturday) - I've Got Cruise Control
As I drove home from a rather busy night shift I pressed the button to turn on the cruise control like I’d been doing for the last couple of weeks in the courtesy car, and carried on singing along to my (rather odd) choice of music. Half way though a rousing chorus of Dragostea Din Tei I had a revelation. The cruise control was working… The car I’ve been driving around in for a year has got cruise control. I had no idea. I suppose this is yet another example of “if all else fails, read the instructions”.
I got home, loaded the dogs and “er indoors TM” into the car, and we all drove round to Repton Community Centre for dog club. All but one of the dogs were running round wearing coats, and on talking to everyone it seemed that most of the coats were being worn under protest.
Despite the cold we had a rather good meet-up. Talking about all things dog with like-minded dog-herds is always good, and the dogs love it too… Well, most of them do. Treacle wasn’t keen, but towards the end of the session she started joining in. Perseverance is the key with her.
We came home; I went to bed for a few hours. “er indoors TM” produced some KFC from out of the freezer which she microwaved for lunch. The chicken wasn’t bad, but microwaved frozen chips were… “interesting” is perhaps the best word?
After a rather dull afternoon we drove down to Folkestone to collect “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and we went to Walmer Castle where we’d bought tickets to see the Christmas lights. It was pretty, but not sixty quid’s worth of pretty. I might have been a little more impressed had my back not been playing up quite so much. I’ve noticed that about eight hours into a night shift I develop a backache which lasts for a day or so.
I wonder why…
We came home via Newtown where I dropped “er indoors TM” at her works Christmas bash. I’ve got orders to collect her later.
I wonder how much later… I shall have a little doze until the phone rings.
11 December 2022 (Sunday) - Non Stop
I slept for eight hours solidly last night, but then being post night shift does that. I took the puppies outside to a very frosty morning. There had been no snow overnight; there had been threats of it and friends in Hastings has posted to Facebook yesterday evening to say there was snow there.
The puppies did their thing then went to bother “er indoors TM” as I had brekkie.
What with the bitterly cold weather and snow having been forecast we’d not planned much for today. I peered into the internet with a vague wondering of what the day might hold. A few of the local pubs were posting that they had some limited availability for Sunday lunch, and a few were posting that they were already fully booked. The Reindeer Farm were posting that they were looking forward to seeing everyone who had bought tickets. And one or two people were selling tickets to the Christmas thingy at Leeds Castle. Isn’t this a sign of our times? Back in the day you would just turn up and hope. Nowadays everything has to be booked up long in advance.
I set the heating to be on all day. It’s very cold, and the idiot government are giving me sixty quid a month toward the cost of the heating bill, so why not. Mind you it seems odd that the government can put a cap on the price of gas bought from Russia, but can’t (or won’t) on anyone else.
As the house warmed up I went into the garden and harvested a bumper crop of dog dung. Dog dung is much easier to harvest when it is frozen solid.
We then spent the morning up in the attic room tidying up. You wouldn’t believe just how much crap we’d accumulated up there… figurative crap mind you. It was a shame that Morgan felt the need to add some actual crap. He got told off about that.
As “er indoors TM” sorted some of the boxes we’d unearthed I spent a few minutes chiselling away at the ice in the freezer. The freezer had iced up so much that the door wasn’t closing properly. And with the freezer door finally closing I started carrying boxes of rubbish out to the shed for storage until I can do a tip run later in the week. It was then when I slipped. Morgan had done a tiddle on the patio earlier which had frozen and I nearly went arse over tit over it. That rather hurt…
Bearing in mind that by early afternoon the temperature had got about as warm as it was ever going to get, I took the dogs round the block. We were only out for ten minutes but still managed two episodes.
In the first I upset a young mother. With her children screaming “dooooooog!!” and sprinting straight at us, I hurriedly led the (terrified) dogs over the road. Young mother was indignant that her children were friendly and wanted to see the dogs. I said they could see my dogs from the other side of the road; they had no idea that they’d frightened the pups. She tried to start an argument; I left her to it.
And then when we were nearly home a small child walking down the pavement toward us sprinted into the road in front of an oncoming car, and then calmly announced that it was frightened of dogs. Father smiled an embarrassed smile at me and at the driver who’d just nearly flattened the brat and told the brat it should be more frightened of getting run over.
Once home Bailey asked to go into the garden, and despite my earlier efforts immediately found a turd to eat. So I went round again and found another bumper crop of dog dung.
As I harvested so the nice builder man arrived and chopped a lump or two out of the cupboard around the boiler so that (hopefully) the boiler man can service it.
Father-in-law popped in for a chat, and then I read up some more on the car’s cruise control before falling asleep with the dogs for an hour or so.
When I woke there was snow. An eight of an inch of the stuff had laid. The puppies had never seen snow before; I’m not sure they were impressed. They’d not seen a Christmas tree before either; it was a shame Morgan had to eat one of the baubles. Much of the bauble has gone – presumably down his neck. He seems none the worse for it, but I wish he wouldn’t do that.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good curry which we washed down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s Pinot Noir.
Today had promised to be rather dull – I didn’t stop.
12 December 2022 (Monday - Snowmaggeddon
When I went to my pit last night I could hear the rain outside, So I’d confidently expected the rain to have washed all the snow away by the morning. How wrong I was; I came down and took the puppies out into half an inch of snow. Amazingly for once Morgan marched right down the garden through the snow to bail out rather than peeing by the doorstep.
I dumped two rather damp puppies on top of a sleeping “er indoors TM”, made toast and had a little look on-line. I was probably up too early for anything interesting on-line. Those people who were up were either asking about the state of the roads, or telling everyone they weren’t too bad. I thought about “pulling a snow day” but decided better of that.
With pretty much nothing happening on-line I had a little look at the SmartMeter. Each month I’m paying (near enough) two hundred quid a month for gas and leccie. That pays for (about) six pounds fifty pence worth a day. Over the last week we’ve been averaging eight quid a day, and over the weekend when we had the heating on continually we got through fourteen quid’s’ worth each day. Up to this morning we’d shifted half the monthly budget (a hundred quid’s worth) in a third of the month (eleven days). Time to economise possibly? Mind you when you feature in the government’s sixty quid bung each month, come the New Year we’ll only be forty quid over budget for the month.
When the puppies had tiddled this morning I’d dug the long-handled snow scraper out of the shed, so I got dressed and made a start about half an hour earlier than I usually do. It didn't take *that* long to scrape the snow from the car, and I set off through the slush. The pavements were very icy but the roads round Ashford were quite passable. Mind you it was cold and the car did wobble on ice a few times. And there were several idiots out on pedal bikes too.
The motorway was clear, but when I came off the motorway it was obvious that Maidstone had had more snow than Ashford. I had one or two issues on the road getting from the motorway to work. The problem was with abandoned cars. Probably a dozen drivers last night had decided that the conditions were too bad for them and had abandoned their cars. But that wasn't "abandoned at the roadside", that was "got out and left them where they were". And so this morning I and all the other drivers were slaloming round cars which had been just randomly left in the middle of the road. It has to be said that the country goes to pieces when it snows, but we in the UK get pretty much no snow at all compared to some places. Other places that are under feet of snow for months at a time are geared up for it. Here in the UK we aren't.
Much of the talk on this morning's radio talk was about four children who'd fallen through ice whilst playing on a frozen pond. I suppose this is another example of where we in the UK aren't used to these conditions?
There was also talk about the government's COBRA committee meeting today to try to minimise chaos caused by the upcoming strikes. I can't help but think that the strikes will be an example of the old adage "a creaking gate gets oiled"; those that go on strike will get some of what they are asking for... and those of us that don't will get nothing at all. Again.
There was also an interview with one of the head honchos of the UK pharmacy industry who was complaining that UK pharmacies are struggling to get prescription medicines for less than the price of a prescription and so are losing money every time someone comes from the GP with a prescription.
I got to the works car park at about the usual time I would on an early shift; I was right to have left home early. There was about three to four inches of snow in the works car park. I trudged into work and got on with the day. Today I had a rather odd version of the song "Frosty The Snowman" stuck in my head. Many years ago four of us used to walk to school together. One of our number would always sing loudly on the way. His winter song had one verse repeated ad nauseum:
"Frosty the Snowman
Lost his left ball in a fight
Then by a strange co-incidence
The same happened to the right"
Hearing this song every winter’s day for several years whilst plodding through three miles of ice-cold snow meant that song used to get rather tedious.
By another strange co-incidence the song's author is now living in Sweden.
Of the other two who used to walk with us, one is now a minister in the Baptist church in west country, and the other is now a multi-millionaire. It just goes to show, doesn't it?
As I worked I watched the snow melting on the trees outside the window. By home time much of it had gone, and we had gone past the “pretty” stage of snow which lasts for about an hour and were (and are) into the “frankly dangerous” stage of having ice everywhere for about a week. Having nearly gone arse over tit on the ice on my way to my car as I walked out of work I thought better about my planned Sainsbury’s mission and came straight home.
“er indoors TM” went bowling, and as the dogs all slept I slobbed in front of the telly until I found myself falling asleep.
An early night wouldn’t hurt…
13 December 2022 (Tuesday) - Lego Club
Every night before I go to kip I make a point of checking that my phone's connection to the Internet is switched off so that the thing doesn't keep waking me up with alerts about the most trivial drivel. And every so often it turns itself back on (like it did last night) and keeps waking me up with alerts about the most trivial drivel. I turned it off again; it turned itself on again...
I gave up, got up and took the dogs outside. They did what was expected of them, and then as they harassed “er indoors TM” I made toast and watched another episode of "Stranger Things". The show started well, but as I'm coming to the end of the fourth series, watching it is becoming a chore. But having watched it so far, I'm hoping it will pick up before the end.
I had a little look at the Internet. I sent out a couple of birthday wishes, and saw that the argument about taking dogs out in the snow was still raging on several Facebook pages. If people don't want to take a dog for a walk, why don't they just say "I can't be arsed" rather than trying to concoct some hare-brained bollox which doesn't stand up to any reasoned argument?
I scraped thick ice from the car's windows and set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the upcoming rail strikes. There was an interview with Mick Lynch who is the head honcho of one of the rail unions. Having been asked a question by the interviewer and then been interrupted before he could say more than a dozen words (several times), he told the interviewer to shut up and listen (which needed to be said). In some ways the chap made valid points, in other ways he didn't. I did wonder about his refusal to even discuss the possibility of driver-only trains. When I was a lad buses had a driver and a conductor... conductors have been gone for forty years. Time for the trains to join the twenty-first century perhaps? But as I said yesterday about the unions, a creaking gate gets oiled.
Well... it will get oiled this time. There was also talk about newly-retired people flooding back into work as they find they can't afford retirement. I wonder if the unionised railway workers will soon find themselves competing with those who just want to top up a pension rather than get a full-time wage?
I then listened to "Thought For The Day" in utter disbelief whilst some pompous windbag just gibbered utterly unrelated sentences whilst making no attempt to be coherent in any way at all.
I got to junction five of the motorway, and joined the queue. The traffic was nose-to-tail heading towards the hospital, so I took a circuitous diversion. Going the long way might have been a bit further, but the traffic was flowing. The cars which had been abandoned up Hermitage Lane were still causing a serious obstruction.
It only took an hour and a half to get to work this morning.
Work was work... we had a "Red Alert" during the morning. How many people do you know (other than the cast of "Star Trek") who regularly have "Red Alerts" as part of their working day?
I was rather pleased to see that the snow had pretty much gone from the motorway as I finished, and took the opportunity to test out (play with) the cruise control. It seems to work just as the instruction manual says in all but one way: no icon appears on the dashboard. I shall continue to fiddle with it, and if all else fails I shall ask the nice man in the garage.
Rather than coming home I carried on down the motorway to Hythe and the Lego Club. We had a few more bigguns along this time, and this evening we randomly made whatever we fancied whilst chatting about all things Lego. It’s a simple little evening, but one I enjoy.
I shall get a slightly bigger box of random Lego for next time.
When I got home the dogs were all “doing their thing” in the garden. I opened the door and called them. On hearing my voice they all sprinted into the house, ran straight past me, and spent quite some time searching the living room looking for me… Eventually they found me. Standing by the door where they’d just run past. Silly pups.
“er indoors TM” boiled up sausages and chips as a rather later dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the “Shaun the Sheep” Christmas special. I think it’s fair to say that no one enjoyed it more than Bailey. The little dog was fascinated by it. She seems to enjoy watching the telly…
14 December 2022 (Wednesday) - Hunter's Chicken
The puppies are really getting the hang of the early morning tiddle. Later in the day things can be a tad hit-and-miss (figuratively and literally), but first thing in the morning is when they've got it nailed.
They went off to bother “er indoors TM”; I loaded the dishwasher with all the stuff I'd left laying about over the last day or so, then made toast. I watched half an episode of "Stranger Things" then set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the poor people of the Shetland Islands who have lost power because of the snows. There was an interview with one of the local councillors who was talking about how the average Shetland Islanders are prepared for this sort of thing, and about how over a hundred engineers have just arrived on the islands to sort out the problems. Personally I can't help but think that if you live in the back of beyond then you really should be prepared to be cut off from civilisation at the drop of a hat (or the drop of several feet of snow), and I can't help but wonder who (if anyone) is subsidising the one hundred and more engineers who have just turned up there.
There was also a lot of talk about inflation and whether or not it is fair to expect public sector workers to accept a piss-poor pay rise... interestingly taking a diametrically opposed line to the one they took yesterday morning when talking about the train strikes.
Interestingly no one wanted to give more than passing mention to yesterday's announcement about a nuclear fusion reaction which for the first time ever generated more energy than had been put into it. Something with massive ramifications for the entire future of humanity was treated as a bit of a joke whilst trivia which will be forgotten tomorrow was blown out of all proportion.
A classic example of this then followed when there was a ten-minute diatribe about which team the UK population should be cheering on in tonight’s football match between France and Morocco based on which team had beaten the UK team most recently and most often, and which team was most likely to win.
Work was work. I did my bit teaching a trainee the mysteries of the microscopic world today. I quite enjoyed it. And with work worked I popped to Sainsbury’s to get some fizz for Chrimbo. There was a minor episode at the till when I paid for my own shopping myself rather than letting some ill-behaved brat do it for me. Perhaps I was being over-cautious, but the rather iffy-looking parent didn’t look above doing a runner with said brat had I let it brandish my card at the machine.
I came home down what passes for a motorway these days. According to the news “Operation Brock” was re-instigated today. In reality “Operation Brock” has never gone away. All that happened today was that the traffic was diverted down the contraflow bit of the M20 rather than the coned off section of the eastbound carriageway.
Lugging the shopping into the house took some doing. Sixteen litres of fizz is heavy stuff. I told the world about today’s instalment of my Lego Advent Calendar and then “er indoors TM” boiled up some dinner. Hunter’s chicken and a bottle of hock… not too shabby at all.
15 December 2022 (Thursday) - New Mattress (Eventually!)
I was rather sad when I got up this morning. Last night was the last night on the old mattress. Personally I was quite happy with the thing but “er indoors TM” has various aches and pains which she’s attributed to it, and so it is history.
Needing an early start “er indoors TM” got up and saw to the puppies. She doesn’t go out into the garden with them though; she trusts them to do that which is expected of them I expect Bailey to do what is expected of her, and I expect Morgan to do what is expected of him – but in his case on the floor of the back bedroom. I take no chances.
I gave her ten minutes then came down and as she did her thing I made toast and had a look at the Internet. It was still there.
“er indoors TM” set off. Today was her works beano; the idea was that she and her gang would fart around the office for an hour or so then all get chauffeured to Birmingham for an epic booze-up. With her away someone needed to be on dog duty…
The plan for the day was that Iwould wait about until the new mattress arrived, then take the dogs to the woods. It was such a good plan.
When we ordered the mattress (a month ago) the arrangement was that they would contact me two days before delivery to say whether it would be a morning or afternoon slot. Having heard nothing by yesterday I phoned them and after they assured me they had sent text messages (to the right number!) they told me the thing would be delivered some time during the mid-morning. Ten o’clock was actually specified. So… I had time to get the ironing done before the mattress arrived.
I put “Stranger Things” on the telly and started ironing. And with the ironing ironed I put away the ironing board and carried on watching “Stranger Things”. It has to be said that if I didn’t have to stay put I would have turned it off and given up with it. The last episode played for two and a half hours and was tedious in the extreme.
At mid-day I phoned the bed company to see where the mattress had got to. “Karen” said it wouldn’t be long, and oh-so-politely suggested I might shut my rattle as the so-called “delivery slots” were at best a guess and the thing might be delivered at any time at all during the day. I explained that this was not what I’d paid for, and had I known this would be the case, I would have gone with any number of other companies who could give a delivery time. She then tried to claim I did know this. She added that she’d checked the itinerary and judging by the deliveries that had been made he would definitely be with me by one o’clock.
At half past one my phone rang. It was the delivery driver who said he would be with me about three o’clock because he was stuck in traffic at Ashford’s outlet centre. I told him that if he was to stick his head out of his lorry and shout I would hear him because Ashford’s outlet centre is that close to my house.
He then claimed to have several other deliveries to do first which were between Ashford’s outlet centre and my house. I asked if they were in Beaver Road. He said not. I explained that in that case there were no other roads with houses on them between where he was and my house, and he could come to me straight away.
I then phoned the bed shop (which is a two-minute walk from home) to complain, and they told me my earlier complaints were on record, and that the driver had just left them.
He arrived with the mattress an hour later at half past two with all sorts of excuses about backlogs because of the snow. I suggested that if he knew he was running late then he should have rung me as (unlike his head office) he demonstrably had my phone number. From the look on his face it was clear this had never occurred to him.
By the time I’d made the bed it was already getting noticeably dark outside. We had a quick walk round the block then I settled down with the dogs and we watched the film “People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan”. I’ve been wanting to see this film for some time, and now I’ve got Sky Cinema I could. It was very much in keeping with the series it followed, and wasn’t too shabby at all.
With film watched and dogs still snoring I sparked up the Paramount app on my Sky-Q box (now I’ve got Sky Cinema I could) and watched the first few episodes of “Star Trek: Prodigy” which wasn’t too bad at all. Certainly streets ahead of “Stranger Things”.
When the dogs get up I will sort their dinners… but for the time being I am letting sleeping dogs lie. They’ve slept quite a lot today.
16 December 2022 (Friday) - Still Cold
Once Treacle finally shut up (four woofing fits at bed time for absolutely no reason whatsoever!) I got to try out the new mattress. It wasn’t bad, I suppose. The trouble is that after yesterday’s debacle, I really don’t want the thing and would quite happily throw it away and write off the cost. Isn’t that petty of me?
Mind you the mattress is a lot thicker than the old one, and I fell out of bed rather than got up this morning.
The dogs were a little excitable this morning so we went for an early walk… although it was cold, we weren’t out early enough; the roads were solid with traffic. I had this plan to go up to Kings Wood, but having queued for fifteen minutes and only moved a hundred yards, and with still about a mile to the motorway’s roundabout I changed plans. The mud in Orlestone Woods would be frozen, so we went there instead.
As we drove down so the pundits on the radio were giving very mixed messages. On the one hand there was righteous indignation about the nurses going on strike yesterday. And on the other hand there was consternation about nurses having to get hand-outs from food banks because they can afford to keep their families either warm or fed, but not both.
We got to the woods. We’ve not been there for some time (since 18th October) and the about of forestry work that had happened was amazing. So many trees had been felled. We did our usual circuit, and sure enough the usually phenomenally muddy bits were still phenomenally muddy but were frozen solid, so we didn’t get too mucky. But Morgan was something of a pain. In Kings Wood the path from the car park goes directly away from the road. In Orlestone Woods it runs parallel with the road (albeit a hundred yards away through the woods) for a while, and as we came back to the car so Morgan ran through the woods and across the road. He’s done that before. And there’s another part of Orlestone where he runs amok too. He’s as good as gold in Kings Wood, but goes mental at Orlestone.
Such a shame.
We came home for a late brekkie. As I scoffed so the dogs snored and I had a look at the Internet. The bed company had the cheek to ask me to fill in a customer satisfaction questionnaire… I wasn’t polite.
They also sent a second email an hour or so later asking me to fill out a second questionnaire about the actual delivery…
I also had an email from the power company. They estimate that next year I will use two pounds ninety-three pence more leccie and nine pence less gas compared to this year… Bearing in mind the soaring energy costs I’m rather sceptical about their estimates.
I spent a few minutes trying to sort out getting rid of the old mattress… getting shot of it don’t come cheap. I put it up on the freebie websites and asked the bulk waste removal company if they took mattresses.
They never replied. If any of my loyal readers want a mattress…
“er indoors TM” came home shortly after mid-day and the dogs were *so* pleased to see her. They make no secret as to who is their favourite.
There was so much we could have done today, but everywhere is still icy from Monday’s snow and it is so cold. So we slobbed in front of the telly watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation whilst watching the SmartMeter’s dial fly as we’d put the living room heater on.
We watched a couple of episodes of “The Crown” over a rather good curry… I’ve had a rather good couple of days off work cuddled up on the sofa with the dogs. I didn’t get any of the things done which I had planned. I’m blaming the snow for that.
17 December 2022 (Saturday) - A Little Drinkie
“er indoors TM” says that the jury is still out on the new mattress. Judging by the lack of snoring last night the thing has gone up slightly in my estimation.
I got up and took the puppies into the garden. Recently I’ve remarked on how quick they get done in the garden, but over the last few days they’ve been playing silly beggars in the garden during the first tiddle. I *think* they like playing in the snow and ice as they certainly won’t come in when called.
As they made themselves comfortable on the new bed with “er indoors TM” and Treacle I opened today’s window on the Advent Calendar… and again wished I’d opened the thing months ago when I first bought it.
I scraped the ice from the car, and we drove the dogs over to the Repton estate for Dog Club. As we turned up the drive to the car park so the puppies started squealing in excitement; they knew where they were going.
We had a good Dog Club. The puppies loved it, and despite an initial grouchiness, Treacle eventually started joining in; she found a pug with whom she wasn’t entirely disagreeable. Morgan charged around like a loon with everyone and everything. It was a shame that Bailey had to eat another dog’s poop, but that’ the kind of dog she is.
Several people had bought cup of coffee (in an insulated mug); next time I might just do the same. I took a few photos of Dog Club; it is a simple idea, but such a good one. For a pound per dog we get to charge round in a contained area playing with other dogs and talking to other dog-herds. And with an early start we are home by ten o’clock.
We came home via the co-op where we got buns for morning coffee. And as we got home so the rain started. It has to be said we need rain to wash away the ice which is the aftermath of Monday’s snow.
We then took care not to wake the now sleeping dogs, and “er indoors TM” drove me and “My Boy TM” to Rye where she abandoned us. She and sister-in-law went off doing whatever it is that they do, and together with my brother and more nephews than sense (two) we went on a little pub crawl.
Back in the day a pub crawl round Rye was one of my favourite pastimes, but I’d not had a session there for years… Had the place changed much?
Our first port of call was the Crown. It was one of those places that looked rather scary as you walked in, but the locals were friendly, and we stayed for a couple of pints of Timmy Taylor and a few games of pool (which were free). After the pool, the first fruit of my loin suggested a game where everyone starts with three points and you lose a point every time you fail to pot a ball. Bearing in mind I was first one to get rid of all my points, I’m claiming a victory.
From there we walked up to the Cinque Ports Arms. Very welcoming locals here as well. One of them was having a birthday and very kindly invited us to share the spread. Sausage rolls, pastry things… very tasty. And a pint of Directors in a Shepherd Neame pub too – unheard of.
We then went to the toilet. Quite literally. The Water Works is a tiny little micro-pub built in what used to be the old public conveniences. The place was wonderful, and despite its miniscule size they had ten ales and fourteen ciders on. I had a pint of plum porter and a pint of something from somewhere near Tonbridge. Others in our bunch had toffee apple cider, rhubarb cider, and the best pepperoni sticks you ever did taste.
And the toilet flush was a “Doom Bar” hand pump too.
An excellent beer selection, and such attentive staff… If it hadn’t been a week before Christmas we would have stayed all day, but the place was so full we’d had to set up in the outdoor seating area. The heaters were doing their best, but it was time to move on.
Just up the road was the Outside Inn; a relatively new addition to the Rye pub circuit. The staff were friendly enough but the place seemed deserted… Our previous five rounds had averaged about twenty quid. A round of drinks in here was thirty-six quid. And the bottled ales were taken from the fridge. Seriously?
We had one drink (for me a rather grim bottle of Harvey’s Christmas Ale) then moved on.
The Queens Head was a disappointment. Many years ago it was warm and quirky. I can remember sitting in leather armchairs playing chess with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”. But today all that had character had been stripped out. We had a pint of the American Red and a game of pool then went down to the Mardi Lounge for a rather good curry.
The pint of Tiger that went with the rather good curry made for the gallon of beer, and then it all was rather vague. We went back to the Crown for another pint and a game of pool, and found that one of the normal people was covered in blood having somehow hit his head on the low ceiling in the toilet. We joined in the fussing for a while, and then got the message that the ladies had arrived to take up home.
I’m told that the car heading towards Hastings was equipped with buckets, and that one was needed…
Must go on another pub crawl round Rye again…
18 December 2022 (Sunday) - Family Bingo & Quiz Night
I’m told I was in bed shortly after nine o’clock last night. I woke feeling surprisingly chipper only to find it was ten past midnight, and the rest of the night was somewhat restless.
Over brekkie I posted up yesterday’s diary entry, then reviewed the places we’d been to yesterday on TripAdvisor. It turned out that “er indoors TM” and sister-in-law had discovered a model village in Rye that opens in the New Years they want to go and visit, so a return to Rye is on the cards. Result!
I opened the eighteenth window of my Lego Advent calendar, wondered just what I was supposed to say about a rocking horse and a nuclear missile, and then wasted an hour playing a “Bubble-Pop” game whilst “er indoors TM” got stressy with the dogs. I keep telling her that if she leaves her stuff where the dogs can eat it, the dogs will eat it. And the more I tell her, the more stressy she gets. And here’s me being helpful. In a spirit of being helpful I offered to do the hoovering, but “er indoors TM” said that she would do it properly later…
Pausing only briefly to repair the damage done when someone smacked the wing mirror off of the “er indoors TM” -mobile we set off on a little mission. First to Kennington for a MOB and a couple of Qrewzees, and with those done the group efforts for the current Munzee Clan War were done. All that remains is the individual stuff.
We then went to Folkestone to visit “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” (“Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” is with his dad this week). The most recent fruit of my loins was teaching my favourite youngest granddaughter how to play pool on the PlayStation, but there was a minor contretemps when her virtual opponent (Tiffany Bigjobs or some such name) snookered her, and consequently made her foul herself (“Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, not “Darcie Waa Waa TM”!)
I settled down on the sofa, ate her left-over pizza and went to sleep.
We then went shopping. First of all to The Bargain Warehouse where they flog no end of stuff super-cheap as it is past its best-before date (as opposed to its use-by date). Some of their stuff is rather good. Some of it is stuff I’d never touch in a million years. It pays to be judicious in what you are buying and not just pile the trolley sky-high.
We piled our trolley sky-high and got rather wet in the car park as we stood in the rain loading stuff from trolley to car boot, then went on to Aldi where we got all the stuff that does go off and really needs to be bought before it goes rancid.
The plan had been for me to come home and take the dogs out whilst “er indoors TM” did Aldi, but it was hossing down. The dogs don’t seem to mind getting cold if they stay dry, but I wasn’t happy for them to get cold *and* wet.
We came home. It didn’t take *that* long to unload the car. “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner, then (using Microsoft Teams) we tuned in to the Christmas family bingo session. It was great fun… and I ended up quids up on the deal… and won the quiz we followed it up with.
I shall be gloating for some time…
19 December 2022 (Monday) - Rather Dull
I slept like a log last night, but the morning ritual was somewhat different today. It was pouring hard and both puppies refused point-blank to go out in the rain. I dumped them on “er indoors TM” with instructions that they were both "fully loaded" and she had to watch them "like a pork" as “My Boy TM” used to say.
I made toast and watched an episode of "Star Trek: Prodigy" which was surprisingly good, then had a look at the Internet. I glossed over the petty squabbles on Facebook then struggled to get dressed. The new mattress is very much higher than the old one, and sitting on it whilst I do socks and stuff can't be done.
Leaving “er indoors TM” and the dogs snoring (so much for watching them "like a pork"!) I wandered off to find my car parked two streets away. As I drove I saw the thing's thermometer thought it was ten degrees outside - about fourteen degrees warmer that the mornings of last week had been.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were all a-twitter about the football world cup final that had taken place last night (apparently). It seems that Argentina won, and (quite frankly) far too much air-time was devoted to something which really didn’t warrant it. Argentina won. How could that be dragged out over twenty minutes?
There was also talk about tomorrow’s threatened ambulance strike in which it was claimed that ambulances will only attend life-or-death cases. It was claimed that heart attacks and strokes aren’t life-or-death, and anyone with a broken leg should make their own way to hospital. Seriously? I think the BBC are talking twaddle here.
Work was work. The nice nurses at the cancer centre came up to the blood bank with a box of chocolates for us, which was kind of them. I scoffed some, did my bit, and came home.
It was only a few short months ago when after an early shift I would have taken the dogs to the woods, but it was fully dark half an hour before I got home today.
I put the dogs’ reflective collars on them and we went round the block.
And then when I came to record history this evening the lap-top took an absolute age to get going this evening. It simply won’t load up the Firefox browser, and I think it is fast approaching the end. It is six and a half years old… how long do you get out of a lap-top these days?
After a rather eventful weekend, today was dull.
20 December 2022 (Tuesday) - My Back Hurts
The new mattress is not too shabby at all for getting a good night’s kip. I slept like a log. And (unlike yesterday morning) with no rain the puppies went outside and did that which was expected of them.
With them ensconced firmly on top of “er indoors TM” I made toast and watched another episode of “Star Trek: Prodigy” which is rather good, and probably the most Star Trek – like show of al the latest gamut of new versions of Star Trek.
I had a look at the Internet as I had a few minutes spare. It was there, and much the same as ever. No matter what anyone was posting, someone else was trying to argue about it.
There was an interesting email from the nice people who run the local Neighbourhood Watch. Apparently a good scam to get in on is to order something cheap in Amazon and track your parcel. In tracking where the Amazon van is, you can follow it and steal all the parcels from where they get left on the doorsteps. I would never have thought of that one. Also sheds are being ransacked for Chrimbo pressies. And (would you believe it) criminal gangs know that bikes bought for children will be dropped in the gardens at two o’clock on Christmas Day (when dinner is served) and are poised to drive round stealing them whilst people scoff their turkeys.
It’s a sad old world, isn’t it? I honestly believe that if decent people were to catch just one of these criminals, break them, and exhibit their broken body in a stocks in the town centre, the world would suddenly become a better place. We’d only need to break one (as an example).
I tried to perch on the edge of the mattress to get dressed, opened the Advent Calendar and then set off to work
It was twelve degrees as I drove this morning. Still dark, but nowhere near as cold as it has been lately. As I drove the pundits on the radio devoted five minutes to the Perseverance rover which is currently trundling round Mars gathering up rocks in the hope that someone is going to fetch the things back to NASA HQ. The expert being interviewed was a tad vague about exactly who was going to carry the rocks across interplanetary space, but seemed confident that someone would.
There was also talk about the nurses strikes in all the country's NHS Trusts today... The BBC were clear that there were strikes in *all* Trusts. There certainly weren't any where I was working today. I wonder how many people were led to believe there were?
Before going up to work I stopped off for petrol. the stuff was five pence per litre cheaper in Maidstone than in Ashford. It certainly pays to shop around... provided you've got reason to drive twenty-five miles to get petrol.
Work was work… we had an emergency. And with my bit done I eventually made my way home. It took fifteen minutes to get out of the hospital’s car park, and twenty minutes longer than usual to get down the motorway. There was no apparent cause for either delay; what was that all about.
My old back pain has been acting up all day… I hope it stops hurting soon…
21 December 2022 (Wednesday) - Xmas Buffet
I slept well, but my back was certainly on the iffy side when I got up this morning. I let the puppies out, but when they did their usual charge up the stairs, Morgan slipped and fell. He seemed OK, but I shall have to keep an eye on him.
I made toast and watched a couple of episodes of “Star Trek: Prodigy” then had a little look at the Internet. After a rather fraught weekend with the lap-top taking an age to get going, the device was working far better this morning. Perhaps it realises I’m getting just a tad fed up with it.
Facebook was a tad annoying this morning… is “annoying” the right word? Yet again I’m questioning my career choice and wondering if hospital work is a mug’s game. As the current strikes are showing, the wages are piss-poor compared to all sorts of other jobs. The hours suck. This morning so many people were gloating that they had already packed up for Christmas, and even signed off of social media for the holidays… holidays which don’t start in my world for another three and a bit days.
I dosed myself up with ibuprofen in the hope it would sort out my back, and walked down the road Munzing like a thing possessed at virtual lifebelts and virtual volt-meters (never a dull moment in the world of Munzee), As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were banging on about how the Scottish Parliament is proposing changes to the law which will remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to receive a gender recognition certificate. And would lower the minimum age for applicants for such a certificate to sixteen, and would and reduce the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months (or six for people aged under eighteen). So much air-time was devoted to the younger trans community with regard to this.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t doubt for one minute that there are genuine trans people who really are in the wrong bodies. But how many children are jumping on the bandwagon here? When my father was a teenager you could dress up as mods and rockers to show off. When I was a lad we shocked our parents by being punk rockers. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” used to enjoy being a chav and putting on a show to wind me up. My favourite oldest granddaughter recently told me there are twenty children in her class claiming to be trans because it causes problems for the teachers.
As I said, don’t get me wrong. I don’t doubt for one minute that there are genuine trans people who really are in the wrong bodies. But twenty in just one school class..? Seriously?
I got to work and hobbled about as best I could with a still-iffy back. Fortunately I was doing a lot of training today so sitting about was good.
Something else which was good was the works Christmas buffet. The idea was that everyone brought in something or other, and everyone shares it all out. I brought in far too many of the weird and wonderful crisps that the sell in the Polish shop over the road. The mushroom flavoured crisps were rather popular.
With work worked I came home. “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed, then I fell asleep whilst watching whatever was on telly. I hate that…
22 December 2022 (Thursday) - Rostered Day Off
I had something of a lie-in last night, sleeping through until “er indoors TM”’s alarm went off at seven o’clock. I let her see to the puppies, then hobbled downstairs. I made toast and scoffed it with some ibuprofen. Whenever I hear mention of ibuprofen I think of my old mucker Dave who died nearly fourteen years ago. His wife used to work in the factory where the stuff was made which (in his mind) made him a leading authority on the stuff… even though he knew pretty much nothing at all about it and couldn’t even pronounce the word “ibuprofen” (he always called it ibuferan).
As I scoffed brekkie I peered into the Internet and saw consternation on the Lego pages. It generally abounds there. But here’s a word of warning… the latest scam to hit is people making fake old Lego kits. Mind you when I say “scam”. the adverts being touted were quite clear on what they were selling.
Someone or other had looked up an old Lego set from the 1970s, found exactly what bricks came in the kit, got them all from one of many sellers, printed off a copy of the original box and of the original instructions, and sold it all as a reproduction. Other sellers were flogging just the newly-printed boxes (quite openly advertised as reproductions). Bearing in mind that the boxes on 1970s Lego sets are fifty years old and consequently pretty knackered, people are printing new boxes and selling them. Also bearing in mind mint condition original boxes of kits from fifty years ago sell for over two thousand quid (for just a box!!!) there’s clearly a market.
Several people who hadn’t read the descriptions of the adverts then had the arse.
I was reminded of an incident from over fifty years ago when my aunt got a new food processor. As she opened it all so my mother passed over the instructions. My aunt sneered, said that instructions were for people who didn’t know what they were doing, and promptly sprayed cake mix all over the ceiling. If all else fails, read the instructions, eh?
I loaded the dogs into the car and we drove over to Henwood. “er indoors TM” had taken her car there to get the mirror sorted so we picked her up and drove her to her work. Three dogs who are always silent when it is just me and them in the car went absolutely mental at the sound of her voice.
We drove through a foggy morning to drop her off, and then drove up to Kings Wood. Having told “er indoors TM” that it is rarely foggy at Kings Wood (because it is so high) it was rather embarrassing to see thick fog. But, reasoning that fog is just low clouds, rain drops out of clouds and it never rains when it is foggy we went off for our walk… and got quite seriously rained on.
We met one or two other dog-walkers as we walked… and one idiot. Said idiot had two huge dogs yanking about on leads he could barely hold. On seeing him approaching we diverted into the woods and stood and waited (a hundred yards away) for him to pass. He just stood at the end of the path. After a few minutes I called out and asked if he was going to move, or if he was just guarding the path. Without any comment he just shoved off. A passing dog-walker coming up behind said she’d encountered him before, and said he was weird.
I seem to attract them.
With only a hundred yards to go before we got to the car park Bailey excelled herself by rolling in fox poo, eating fox poo, and getting peed all over by a big dog…
We walked a much shorter walk than usual today, and I took a walking stick too. Perhaps I should have rested my back, but the dogs haven’t had a decent outing for some time, and I had a plan that after a decent walk they might sleep.
We came home for a bath. The trouble with bath time is that no matter how tired the dogs, bath time always sets them into a frenzy, and they come out of the bath charging about like lunatics for fifteen minutes before they eventually settle.
They all got a wash. Bailey had two quite vigorous scrubs, and after fifteen minutes of absolute mayhem they all three eventually settled. Bailey still had a fishy whiff of fox poo about her though…
As the dogs slept I cracked on with the ironing; what else does anyone do on a day off? As I ironed I watched more “Star Trek: Prodigy”. For all that this is clearly a children’s show (made by the Nickelodeon channel) it has clearly been made by people who have actually watched Star Trek, which (sadly) is more than can be said for those who have made many of the other new Treks.
With ironing ironed I went off to collect “er indoors TM”. I left a few minutes early to indulge in a spot of geocaching before picking her up. Regular readers of this drivel may recall how that used to be such a major part of my life; it has been two months since I last found a film pot under a rock. But I found another one today.
I collected “er indoors TM”, left her at the garage and got home about half past four. In the dark. Mind you with yesterday being the solstice the evenings should start getting lighter soon.
“er indoors TM” got home a few minutes later. Her car wasn’t ready so the garage have lent her a courtesy car. She seems quite impressed with it.
“er indoors TM” carried on working from home and I had a look at the Advent Calendar. And with that looked at (and working from home worked) we watched more Netflix whilst getting stomach ache from scoffing too much dinner.
For a supposed day off, it has been non-stop today. I’m going to work tomorrow for a rest… *if* my back is any better.
23 December 2022 (Friday) - Late Shift (Really?)
I woke in the small hours and had a fight with Treacle in which I tried to get some bed space. After a protracted battle I got an extra six inches, but struggled to get back to sleep after that, I eventually dozed off, but was woken by the bin men “quietly” coming up the road just before six o’clock.
Determined not to get up I stayed in my pit but gave up when “er indoors TM” ‘s alarm went off.
I opened the door to take the puppies out only to find it was pouring hard. So much for my plans for the morning, eh? So I made toast and had a look at the Internet. Someone with whom I work had signed up to be an organ donor, so I’ve done the same. You can do so by clicking here. But don’t tell “My Boy TM”; he still thinks I’m about to croak from when I started to make a list of what he needs to know for what I do croak.
Other than that, not a lot was happening on social media. I considered braving the elements with the dogs, but with the rain hammering against the window I thought better of it. The dogs were asleep on the sofa, so instead I sparked up the telly, and watched a film on Netflix until it was time to go to work. It was rather good.
I popped up the road to the corner shop to get a sandwich only to find they didn't have any. They were waiting for their delivery. Their driver was leaving it rather late.
So I went to the co-op instead. I must admit I don't like going to the co-op as it does attract "a certain sort". There were a family of those in the queue in front of me. Once they'd paid they deliberately waited for me to go to the till, and I rather offended mother by not letting her grubby child maul my sandwich. Having watched it pick up and crush pretty much everything else in the shop I wasn't going to let it destroy my dinner. I didn't say anything; just picked up my stuff from the counter as the brat reached for it, and gave the brat a glare. Mother wasn't at all happy and marched the brat out of the shop loudly muttering about "some people...".
The woman behind the till smiled at me, and said that family regularly come in purely so that the brat can rub its sticky grubby hands over everything it can touch.
You would have thought that the shop staff would have said something, wouldn't you?
As I drove up the motorway so the sun came out. A shame it couldn't have done that a couple of hours earlier. I fiddled and played with the cruise control on my car as I went. Having read the manual and asked on various on-line forums there seems to be an issue with the car’s cruise control in that the cruise control display doesn't seem to work. The cruise control bit works fine. But the gauges and dials don't. I shall ask the nice man in the garage.
I got to work in record time. Having been told (by Google Maps) that there were major hold-ups on the motorway I used the sat-nav. That took me straight up the motorway where there was not a hold-up in sight.
I scoffed my (non-mauled) sandwich and got on with what was effectively a routine day's work.…. As I did my bit I found myself thinking of the first time I worked the “last working day before the Christmas break”. It was Thursday 24th December 1981. We all came in to work and did the morning set-up on the blood testing analysers and then tested half a dozen samples. Back then at Christmas hospitals pretty much emptied of all but the most extreme cases, and most GPs had shut up shop.
Forty-one years ago the day’s work was done by at half past eleven. The boss then sent us down the pub; she would cover whilst we were gone. We went down the pub and drank ourselves silly, staggering back shortly before three o’clock. We found the one who was doing the night shift (on call as it was back then) in residence, having sent the boss home an hour previously. We then sat around and drank whisky until it was all gone, then staggered off to find a bus home.
Forty-one years later, today was just the same as any other working day.
24 December 2022 (Saturday) - Christmas Eve
My phone turned its internet connection on again last night and woke me to tell me about an utterly trivial email at four o’clock. I wish it wouldn’t do that. I nodded off again and dozed thought till half past seven when my phone told me to get my arse out of its pit (it quite literally does that).
I made toast and peered into the internet. It was still there, and there was quite an impressive argument going on. There is some German woman who likes to tell the world about her cats. You might think that was fair enough; after all I tell the world about my dogs via the Internet. However… this woman uses several Facebook pages related to the band Sparks to do so. There was a couple of rather bitter argument about how the local vet had given this woman an unwanted cat and whether or not it was pregnant. Didn’t the vet know? And what she was going to do with the kittens was anyone’s guess… all on a page about Sparks?
I also found myself presented with an advert for a three-month cruise round the Antarctic for the bargain price of eight thousand pounds. Like I’m going on that?
We then drove round to the Repton estate for the Christmas Dog Club. There was quite a good turn-out today. Last week the field was frozen; today it was rather muddy. The puppies had a whale of a time, but Treacle wasn’t so keen. She *really* doesn’t like other dogs which is strange bearing in mind she’s never at any point in her life been an only dog. But Dog Club’s full name is “Ashford Dog Socialising Group”, and (ever so slowly) Treacle is getting socialised.
In between all the commotion a small pug (called Sharkey) peed up my leg. Everyone but me seemed worried about it. I thought it rather funny.
We came home where we washed dogs and trousers, and then had a cuppa. Morgan and Treacle were soon asleep; Bailey just wanted to fight, but she eventually settled.
We did a little tidying of the living room in readiness for tomorrow, then I told the world about the last instalment of this year’s Advent adventure. This is the thirteenth year I’ve done an Advent story, and I think it is probably fair to say that no one is more surprised than me to read what comes up each day.
I took myself off to bed for the afternoon, but didn’t really sleep well. I gave up and got up. By the time I got up “er indoors TM” had gone for a Christmas meet up with her mum, and then with her dad. I made myself some toast, then sat with the dogs and watched several episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which again the most picky people were shown to be running the shabbiest B&Bs.
With the dogs settled I set off to work. I’d volunteered to work tonight… the idea is that with the shift done I then get the rest of Christmas off. However in my mind I feel Christmas don’t start until the shift is done. And by the time I’ve had a bit of a kip in the morning I think I will have missed out on a day and a half of Christmas.
25 December 2022 (Sunday) - Christmas Day
Christmas Eve night is an odd one in hospitals. Some years it can be incredibly busy, and I have had the quietest night ever (one blood sample all night) on a Christmas Eve night. Last night I processed fifty blood counts, twenty-eight clotting investigation, issued one bag of platelets for transfusion, accepted delivery of a load of blood for the stock fridge and dispatched one sample to the reference lab for specialist investigations. There were blood samples coming in all night long too. Compared to last year the workload was definitely up.
Something else that was up was the traffic on the road this morning. I can remember Dad picking me up after a Christmas Eve night shift in the mid-eighties. On the thirty-mile drive back to Hastings we saw six other cars (we counted). I lost count of the amount of cars about by the time I’d got to the motorway this morning, and the motorway was as busy as any Sunday morning really.
I got home and went to bed. After an hour “er indoors TM” went to collect “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”,“Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and made the schoolgirl error of not letting Treacle come upstairs. Treacle howled and whined and barked for attention, so I only got an hour’s sleep. I got dressed, came downstairs and sat on the sofa trying to doze with the dogs until everyone arrived.
Just as I was nodding off so the door flew open and the carnage started. In her excitement of seeing everyone Bailey tiddled all over me, so there was a two-minute hiatus whilst I got changed.
Littluns unwrapped (ripped open) pressies, Alexa alternately played Christmas music and fart sounds. As did “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” who is trying to be able to fart on command. After all, if the Alexa can do it, why shouldn’t he be able to do so?
“er indoors TM” boiled up a frankly amazing Christmas dinner. Wine, beer and snowballs flowed. In previous years we’ve played all sorts of Christmas games. This year we just sat at the table talking and farting and eating (and drinking) far too much.
Half-way through the evening “My Boy TM” and Cheryl arrived and stayed for an hour or so.
And all too soon it was bed time. “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” went to bed… and came down to the toilet. And went back to bed… and came down to the toilet. He must have come down to the toilet at least ten times.
I’d not been feeling at all Christmassy this year, but today was a rather good Christmas…
26 December 2022 (Monday) - Boxing Day
“Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” had been rather good yesterday, but this morning he wasn’t happy. The plan was that he would spend today with his Dad. He didn’t want to… or so he said. It seems to me that he only ever wants to do that which he is doing right that second. If he is at his Mum’s place, that’s where he wants to be. If he then gets dragged (kicking and screaming) to Nanny’s house, then that’s where he always wanted to be and hated being at Mum’s place earlier. He was adamant that he didn’t want to go to his Dad’s today, but I expect that within five minutes he would have been settled and would be refusing to go anywhere else.
After a very late brekkie “er indoors TM” drove the kids back to Folkestone to their various lairs. I wanted to go, but it is rather a squash in the car so I stayed behind and walked the dogs round the block. We didn’t go far, and when we came home they were asleep in minutes.
I hung out the washing that I’d put in earlier, and fed the dishwasher yet another load. What with yesterday’s epic feast the poor dishwasher has never been so busy.
“er indoors TM” returned, and we then had a rather lazy day. Whilst she did jigsaw puzzles I settled myself in front of the telly for an epic slobbing session. “Doctor Who and the Daleks”, “Mary Poppins” and “Ghostbusters” filled the afternoon, and as we scoffed cold meat and pickle we watched the Christmas “Celebrity Lego Masters” show.
As I watched telly I fiddled with my new SmartWatch. My old one was six years old and was worn out. The battery was on the way out and the strap had worn through. The new one is pretty much set to how I want it… but I need to measure my blood pressure so’s I can calibrate the fitness app’s blood pressure monitor, and I have no idea what the dials on the lower half are measuring.
I expect I will find out eventually…
27 December 2022 (Tuesday) - Professor Plums
After I’d been trying to get comfortable for a couple of hours this morning I had a sudden revelation. My ongoing back pain started about the same time that this new mattress arrived…
I said I didn’t like the thing.
I got up, did the puppies, and as they snuggled with “er indoors TM” upstairs I made toast and watched the Christmas “Detectorists” special. It was really good.
I then sparked up the Internet.
Our Munzee Clan had reached our target for the monthly Clan War. That was something of a result. Someone had walked some of my geocaches over the Christmas break and found some which had been reported as missing. That too was a result, as I had been looking to archive those ones. Mind you had they actually found them, or replaced them? Don’t know, don’t care.
At the moment it would seem I am the person with most active geocaches in Kent, and I’ve (sadly) made the decision that if no one else can be bothered to contribute to the hobby, then I won’t either. I shall replace any missing ones in Kings Wood (as that is a dog walk for me), but few of the others are really in a convenient place to replace, and I shall archive any of those that go missing or supposedly need maintenance. After all, (as I have said so many times before) if people going out looking for them carry a couple of old pots and a scrap of paper in their pockets, they can do any maintenance in less time that it takes to write me a message saying it needs doing. *If* they could be bothered.
There was quite the argument kicking off on Facebook this morning. Some new chap had joined the page for old boys of my old secondary school and had voiced a controversial opinion. There are many on that page who (for years) have waxed loquacious about the good old days, and how school sports afternoon led them to glory in football cricket, hockey, long-distance running and pro-celebrity arm-wrestling at county and national level.
Someone had dared to say that school sports were enjoyed by a small minority, and that the teachers used to bully the rest of us to take part. I think this chap has got a point. As the class fat lad I hated school sports with a passion. I honestly believed that as long as the light blue shirt I wore got round the course (which got House points), the fat lad wearing it could drop dead immediately afterwards for all that the teachers cared.
After a couple of years of several of us being crap at sports the teachers suddenly realized that there were two sorts of kids in sports set five; those who wanted to do sports but really were on the crap side, and those with no interest in sport whatsoever. The dozen or so of us with no interest in sport were relegated to the newly created sports set six and every week we’d go for a two or three mile country walk with the Latin teacher…
And I’ve been walking for miles through the country ever since…
And then my new watch started vibrating. The cheeky thing told me that I’d not done any steps at all and it was time to get moving.
The thing probably had a point.
I moved round the garden harvesting a bumper crop of dog dung. It never fails to amaze me just how much dung three rather small dogs create. And with dung harvested I emptied all the nonsense from the back seat of the car, loaded up “er indoors TM” and the dogs, collected “My Boy TM”, Cheryl and Ro-Ro and we all went up to Kings Wood for a little walk.
I’d never seen the car park so full; we got the last parking space. There were loads of normal people swarming about, but once we were five minutes from the car park we had the woods to ourselves and had a good walk. After a minute or so of starting, my new watch asked if it might record the exercise activity. I gave it my regal permission to do so, and after we did a rather shorter walk that usual it told me we’d walked a shade under four kilometres and I’d shifted just over a thousand calories.
We came home for a quick wash-up, and with the dogs snoring we went round to “My Boy TM”, Cheryl (and Ro-Ro) for a rather good afternoon of eating far too much and playing “Cluedo”. I got to be Professor Plums, but despite my assertion that Colonel Mustard had done it in the lavatory with Miss Pink, I lost every game. I don’t pretend to be any good at “Cluedo” but there’s a lot worse ways of spending an afternoon and evening. Even if my new watch did tell me to get up and start moving. Twice.
I’ve eaten far too much and have a belly ache now… And today was the puppies first birthday.
28 December 2022 (Wednesday) - (Would Have Been) Mum's Birthday
I woke (with a backache) at five o'clock and realised that Christmas was over for another year. Still, I've had two clear days away from work so I mustn't grumble. I got up and took the puppies into the garden where they did their things, then ran back inside. They don't like the rain.
As I had my morning shave I used some of the "Harry's" eucalyptus shaving cream I'd got for a pressie... it has to be said that you don't get much of the stuff in the tube.
As toast cooked I loaded the dishwasher; I seem to have done little else but eat and load the dishwasher over the last few days, and then I scoffed toast whist watching another episode of "Star Trek: Prodigy" which was again very good. I then had a quick look at the Internet. The squabbles about my old school were still going on; having now descended into personal name-calling and the instigator of the squabble being accused of being "attention-seeking" and "bi-polar"... Everything eventually becomes an argument, doesn’t it? Such a shame.
Facebook also told me that today was my mother’s birthday. I told it that she died nearly two years ago. I asked them to memorialise her account – I think it looks better now rather than just hanging about with nothing happening to it like it was.
Mum would have been eighty-seven today; what with work I rarely got to see her on her birthday…
I put on my watch which thought I’d walked over a hundred steps when I picked it up (?) and set off to work through the rain, and had to brake sharply when a car flew out of the filling station. I wouldn't have thought it possible to accelerate so much in so short a time; the idiot behind the wheel looked to be truly shocked and surprised to see that there were other cars on the road. Mind you more and more people drive that way these days.
I stopped off at the co-op to get lunch; my sandwich box has been co-opted by “er indoors TM” for use as a biscuit barrel. The woman behind the counter seemed to be as pleased to be working this morning as I was. In a spirit of camaraderie I explained I'd only had a short time off for Christmas too, and she immediately saw this as a challenge and tried to start a "who's worked most over Christmas" argument.
I smiled sweetly and conceded defeat.. she would only take it out on the next customer.
The motorway was surprisingly busy. I eventually lost the idiot Frenchman who kept overtaking me, then slowing right down to thirty miles per hour in an attempt to encourage me to overtake him. What was that all about? With him finally left behind I activated cruise control and glided through the rain at a stead forty-nine miles per hour whilst listening to the radio.
This morning there was a lot of talk about Afghanistan. Apparently the crackpot religious government have ordered all female aid workers out of the country because women offend their silly ideas of religion (or some other stark nonsense). The United Nations Security Council have told them not to be so silly. You would think that a country dependent on foreign aid would realise that beggars can't be choosers, wouldn't you? By the same argument, you would also think that anyone with any sense would realise that if their god was all it was cracked up to be, they wouldn't be living in a tin-pot third-world backwater. Wouldn't you? It never fails to amaze me just how strong a grip crackpot religion has on so much of the world... and how the so-called educated parts of the world feel it is an inalienable human right to be able to believe in stark staring nonsense.
There was then an interview with the chair of the government's select committee on something or other who wanted the public to be aware that Iran wasn't so much a country as a gang of terrorists.
Mind you today's guest editor on the morning's radio was Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, so that probably explains a lot.
I got to work and sulked that I had to be there rather than at home. As I pootled about I phoned the bed company. After twenty minutes I got through to someone to whom I expounded my theory that their mattress has given me a permanent backache. The bloke was polite enough, but said that unless the mattress was physically broken, their policy is that I persevere with it for forty days before they will even consider replacing it. I suggested I spent the next month sleeping on the sofa as I'd get a better sleep and he would be none the wiser, but I think the sarcasm was lost on him.
Perhaps we should have looked at the company's reviews on Google *before* we spent good money with them. One point three out of five as an average score... and other review sites don't rate them with reviews.io giving them an overall customer satisfaction rating of "Terrible", and sitejabber only gives them one out of five.
I think I will be lugging the mattress to the tip in the new year, writing off the money spent, and getting another one from a less crap company...
With work done I came home to dog excitement. Usually after an early shift we’d go for a walk, but it was dark and raining so I just watched as the puppies ran round the living room like loonies. They had the opportunity to go outside. Treacle and Bailey went willingly; Morgan had to be hoiked out.
“er indoors TM” did her usual decent bit of scran… but my innards are still recovering from the excesses of the last few days…
29 December 2022 (Thursday) - Nose Bleed(s)
had a look at the Internet as I scoffed toast this morning. I did chuckle as
someone had joined the Adult Lego Facebook group and on seeing the word “adult”
had totally misunderstood what the group was all about and who was in it.
Having made all sorts of comments about the sad sacks that play Lego and how
he would “entertain” their bored partners he then found out that
the vast majority of the group’s members are women. Quite a few of their
partners were chipping in offering games of “fencing with the pork sword”,
and the sad sack who’d made the offer was getting rather offended and really
did seem to think that blokes on the other side of the world were going to
forcibly “do the dirty deed” on him. There was also quite a bitter
tirade on a Dalek-related Facebook group about the amount of religion-related
content appearing on that page.
With my sandwich box still full of biccies I drove round to the co-op to get lunch. Today’s co-op assistant asked if I had a co-op card. I had and I brandished it… and she took fifty pence off of the bill. Yesterday’s co-op assistant didn’t do that.
The radio was rather interesting this morning. There was talk of Russian cyber-attacks in their ongoing war with Ukraine, talk of internet security, and a tour round GCCHQ (as best as you can tour on the radio). Today’s guest editor was the head honcho of GCHQ and he was far more interesting that any other guest editor who has ever been wheeled on.
I got to work, and immediately skived off to get a flu jab. Mind you it wasn’t the skive it once was. Going to the occupational health department was a walk of two minutes today. Back in the day when I worked at the (now demolished) Royal East Sussex Hospital the occupational health department was at the (also now demolished) St Helen’s Hospital on the other side of town, and a trip there and back could be spun out over an entire morning.
Having said that, I can’t remember ever being offered a flu jab in the three years that I worked there.
had a rather good day today doing microscopy training, but there was a minor
disaster at lunch time. I had a nose bleed. As a
child I had them all the time. At least once a day, and often more. Despite
having had my nose cauterised many times they still kept
coming. And the worst thing about nose bleeds is that *everyone* has a
cure for nose bleeds that simply doesn’t work. And the less often anyone has
had nose bleeds, the more forceful they are with their useless cures. A
lifetime’s experience of the things has shown me that absolutely nothing
works better than bunging up your nostril with some bogroll
and waiting for the bleeding to stop. And any cure which works with the same
efficiency as bunging up your nostril with some bogroll
and waiting for it to stop is either uncomfortable, painful or both.
With work worked I came home to find “er indoors TM” had done an incredible job of tidying up, but had a thick lip where one of the dogs (probably Morgan) had head-butted her in excitement. Dogs do that; they don’t mean any harm, they just get over-excited.
indoors TM” went up the KFC for dinner. We scoffed it whilst
watching “Gangsta Grannie”;
another wonderful bit of telly which I’d managed to miss for over nine years.
30 December 2022 (Friday) - Raining Before the Late Shift
I slept like a log last night, and woke after nine hours in my pit, which was something of a result. I was strangely disappointed that yesterday’s flu jab seems to have had no lasting effects whatsoever. I have a vague memory of having been poorly after a flu jab once (many years ago) but these days it seems everyone else has dibs on reactions to immunisations.
I took the puppies out into the garden and had my second disappointment of the day. It was raining. Having a morning free I did have a plan to take the dogs (and “er indoors TM”) to the woods for a walk. We could have gone anyway, but where’s the fun in getting soaking wet?
Whilst the puppies snuggled with “er indoors TM” I made toast and had a look at the Internet. There was a lot of talk on-line about how the Pope is asking people to pray for retired Pope Benedict XVI who is incredibly ill. I *really* don’t understand the entire concept of “prayers for the dying”. Are the prayers supposed to encourage whichever god it might be to stop the people dying? Don’t pretty much all the religions have us believe that when we croak we go to a better place? As I have said before, back in the day I was *incredibly* religious (I used to be a Steward in the Methodist Church) and one thing which made me see sense was the fact that pretty much everyone with whom I went to church was terrified of dying even though the whole concept of the church was that we really were going to a far better place when we croaked.
I also saw that I had an invitation to a masquerade party at the Dorchester hotel in London for tomorrow night… I say “invitation”; invitation to buy a ticket” was the actual truth of the matter. At over five hundred quid a ticket (and a room in the hotel being extra) I replied suggesting that they weren’t reaching their target audience.
With the rain getting heavier I then looked at writing up a little CPD. One article I found caught my eye. The article is written by someone who does the same job as me, but in the USA where they don’t have free health care. You can read it by clicking here, but it is heavy going. Just skip to the last paragraph:
“I can’t help but think about the disparities associated with cancer and the inaccessibility of potentially lifesaving or life-prolonging treatments. … what if we had equal access to cutting edge, personalized therapies? What if the only therapy available was too costly to bear? Just because a cancer might be rare… it doesn’t mean access to a proven effective therapy should also be rare. Even with drug assistance programs, so many patients face the harsh reality of tapping into their life savings to just to save their own life… Now, it’s time that pharmaceutical companies and our healthcare system as a whole work together to provide high quality, low-cost, readily accessible and personalized treatment options to every patient. They deserve that chance to overcome or at least manage their cancer”
We’ve got this in the UK right now, and have had for over seventy years. When I took scouts to America I was told that the NHS was a “commie-pinko set-up” but it would seem that there are those over there who are coming to realise the value of what we’ve got. But for how much longer? Rather than standing on the doorstep clapping like things possessed, write to your MP about the slow insidious selling-off of the NHS that has been going on for ages, and still is.
I then spent a few minutes messaging fellow hunters of Tupperware about tomorrow’s geo-meet. A year ago I wrote “I’m hoping that we might re-boot the noble and ancient art of rummaging under rocks for film pots”, but sadly it didn’t happen. Might we re-enthuse people tomorrow?
As I pootled on-line so the dogs played with their Christmas toys. “Played” being “ripping the stuffing out”. “er indoors TM” had got the room looking immaculate yesterday. This morning there was stuffing everywhere.
I got to work just as the rain was easing off, and rather sulked as I worked. Back in the day the days between Christmas and New Year used to be incredibly quiet with pretty much no one at all wanting any sort of medical interventions, least of all a blood test. As a lad I was told that taking leave at this time of year was a waste of leave as it was so quiet. Sadly that mind-set has stayed with me over the years, and these days I subconsciously expect a very quiet time when in fact work really is as busy as ever.
I came home via a little diversion to Bethersden to collect “My Boy TM” and his tribe who had been partying all evening.
Next year I’m going to book time off work… if I haven’t retired by then.
And today would have been Sid’s twelfth birthday…
31 December 2022 (Saturday) - New Year's Eve
I was again plagued with nightmares about the where I used to work ten years ago. What’s that all about? I’m well out of that place.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet as I do. The New Year Honours List had been published in which seemingly random people are chosen and given a medal, whilst others who’ve done exactly the same thing (often for longer) got nothing. Take the England Women’s football team that did very well earlier in the year for example. Four of the team got medals. There were over twenty in the team – what about the others?
Various celebrities got awards ostensibly for their charity work… it’s rather easier to do charity stuff when you have the time and money to do so…
Quite a few civil servants and NHS managers also got singled out too, and got public recognition for doing the job for which they are paid. Meanwhile voluntary leaders of scout groups and all sorts of clubs and societies go unrecognised.
It’s high time the UK’s honours system was revisited and made fit for purpose
It’s a rant I’ve ranted before, but one which needs to be ranted. Why should I put myself out for a place of work, missing endless children’s birthday parties and family events and having nightmares about it years later, when the manager (who was part of a management board under which the hospital got the lowest possible rating from the government inspector and consequently put into special measures) gets given an MBE?
Leaving “er indoors TM” and Treacle in bed, I took the puppies out to Dog Club. As we drove so the rain hossed down, but it stopped as we got to the car park, so I decided to persevere; if the heavy rain came back we could easily run back to the car and come home. Over a dozen people had thought the same, and despite the field being a quagmire, we had an excellent Dog Club meeting. Especially Morgan who managed to find and roll in a quite impressive range of poo. As something of a first today he was sporting a six-inch-wide smear of bird poo on his right shoulder. Have I ever mentioned that dogs are feral creatures?
Morgan was covered in poo; many of the other dogs were caked in mud. Very impressively caked.
After forty minutes our session was up and the bigger dogs arrived. Morgan wanted to play with them too, and had to be dragged away. I felt rather sorry for the two groups following us. The field was muddy enough when we were there; after our dogs and the medium dogs had been at the field I dread to think what state the ground would have been in for the biggest dogs who come in for the last session.
As we drove home so I phoned “er indoors TM” and gave instructions to prepare the bath, a scrubbing brush and industrial quantities of dog shampoo.
She scrubbed the dogs as I changed into clean (and dry) trousers, and with dogs scrubbed we had a cuppa and a Belgian bun. Today’s came from Lidl and was rather good. Over the years we’ve become connoisseurs of the Belgian bun. The best come from the co-op, and the poorest (amazingly) come from our local family baker’s shop which is just down the road.
With the rain showing no sign of letting up we loaded ourselves and the dogs into the “er indoors TM”-mobile and went round to Singleton Barn where the Hunters of Tupperware were gathering for the New Year’s Eve meet-up. A couple of dozen of us had a very good meet-up. There was a minor disaster when we were asked to move to make space for a group that had pre-booked only to find (fifteen minutes later) that the pre-booked group was us.
We had a good bit of dinner, and then came home where “er indoors TM” got on with her jigsaw and I and the dogs snored for an hour or so.
“er indoors TM” sorted dinner, and we spent a rather dull evening watching (appropriately) episodes of “Not Going Out” and scoffing choccies until it was time to tune in to the New Year Zoom meet-up. In the past we’ve always had New Year parties, but with COVID we moved to on-line meet-ups, and I wasn’t keen to leave the dogs so late at night.
A dozen of us chatted until the fireworks went off at midnight… well a dozen chatted. I sat quietly as my stomach rumbled as I’d eaten far too many choccies.
I suppose it is time for something of a retrospective. It has been a rather eventful year.
· I had my nose surgically re-bored (for the third time)
· I got COVID and missed a holiday
· We got the puppies
· I got a new granddaughter
· We had a week in Gran Canaria
· I buried two family rats
· We had a week in the New Forest
· My Dad had major stroke and died
· I pranged my car
· I joined dog club and Lego club
· We had an excellent family pub crawl round Rye
· To say nothing of the country having had three Prime Minister, the Queen dying and our getting a new King
Happy New Year one and all… I wonder what we’ll get in 2023?