01 January 2008 (Tuesday) - New Year's Day

01 January 2008 (Tuesday) - New Year's Daymagnify

My red pants did the trick last night, and after an hour of passing the parcels left, right, up, down and in every direction known to science, I finally guzzled the Oyster Stout. I spent the morning at something of a loose end, waiting for everyone else to get out of their pits. This seems to be something of a theme at the moment.

As I write this, I’m looking out at a garden fence that needs painting, and a lawn that needs mowing. Is it too early to do these in January, or is it another sign of global warming?

And so to Folkestone to collect the Espace – can’t think what it’s doing there. Did a bit of shopping whilst I was at it. That is I tried to do a bit of shopping – all the lame girlie shops were open, but the ones I wanted to go in were closed. A quick detour to Hosey’s where a smashing dinner was scoffed – the littlun’s got a legoKrusty Krab” – how cool is that?

And then to eBay – I’ve ordered up the latest NeverWinter boxed set – I’m hoping that will work. If it don’t I’ll cry


02 January 2008 (Wednesday) - My Mate Rick

02 January 2008 (Wednesday) - My Mate Rickmagnify

I felt like death warmed up last night – so much so that I was in bed by 9.30pm. Today…… for the last few weeks I’ve been switching from feeling grotty to feeling fine and back again every hour or so. And I’ve got an intermittent sore throat which I blame on a dodgy breakfast kipper a week or so ago. Oh well, mustn’t grumble - I’ll either get better or croak. Perhaps I’ll rephrase that – seeing as I’m going to croak anyway (Dec 3rd 2035 according to the death clock) let’s hope I get better before I croak.

One of my many plans for the New Year was to give up with FaceBookit’s absolute rubbish. I was poised to delete my account when an old friend got in touch that way. When “Manky Badger” first hit the air waves of CB radio, “Dicky Doughnut” was there as well. We used to bugle together in the Boys Brigade some twenty five years ago. His brother married the girl who did my first piercing. We were part of the “old boys’ gang” that ran a hiking-camping contest for the Boys Brigade up until 1999. I last saw him some five years ago when we spent an afternoon in the pub at Icklesham. He likes ravioli, and he gets the beers in. I’m hoping I shell meet up with him soon – after all the FILO is in his home town….


03 January 2008 (Thursday) - A Rant about Money

03 January 2008 (Thursday) - A Rant about Moneymagnify

There was an article on the radio tonight when a leading pharmaceutical company was being harangued about why they felt they would have a cure for baldness before they had a cure for malaria. The reason – it’s rather obvious. There’s more money to be had from the bald than there is from those with malaria. The radio show then observed that for all the poverty in India, the average local there could afford many of the pharmaceuticals because as a nation they’d gone for cheap generic drugs, not overpriced brand named ones.

I’m reminded of a commercial rep (many years ago) trying to sell me his overpriced software, and suggesting I asked the Hospital’s League of Friends to stump up for it. I told him he could give it to me as an act of charity, and I never heard from his company again.

I’m also reminded of an interview I had last year with a large pharmaceutical firm. When being shown around their (huge) premises I was told that the work of one lab paid for the entire building.

Yesterday I was offered the opportunity to buy the plaque pictured above. Many years ago some bunch in America latched on to one of the pictures on a kiting website (http://www.e-l-f.org.uk/ - click on “Galleries of Past Events” – Sept 2001 - second piccy down on the left). They entered this piccy in some contest or other, and every few weeks they try to sell something to me on the strength of that photo. Apparently this month I’ve received the “Editor’s Choice Award” – an award which will only cost me $89. Presumably enough idiots stump up each month to make it worth their while continuing their doing this.

So what’s this rant about? On the one hand, surely money should be spent on a cure for malaria before profits are made on a cure for baldness? On the other hand if someone is dumb enough to buy a certificate which certifies they have spent $89 dollars on it, should they be free to do so?

And I was worrying about how right wing I thought I was becoming…..


04 January 2008 (Friday) - Life

SkyPlus forgot to record “Treacle People” this morning. Apparently setting a reminder is different to setting it to record. What’s the good of it reminding me if I’m having a shave at the time? Whilst I’m banging on about quality TV, do any of my loyal readers remember “Scratchy & Co”? It was the brill show where “Animaniacs and ” Pinky and the Brain” started off on UK screens. “Scratchy” has been done by the law on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend. Who would have believed it?

On the way back to Ashford from Canterbury this morning I thought I’d pop into the aquatic section of WyeVale for some pond supplies. Will I never learn about that place?

Me: Hello

Twit: He—lloooo (in a tone reminiscent of Insanity Prawn Boy)

Me: Do you have any pond lights?

Twit: (stares blankly)

Me: Pond Light?

Twit: Uh?

Me: Lights that go in your pond?

Twit: Pond?

Me: This *is* an aquatic supplies shop?

Twit: (Looks around – seems shocked to see fish tanks etc…)

Me: Pond lights?

Twit: Dunno

Me: Shall I come back later?

Twit: We might have some in April….

They’ve still got that huge pergola I tried to buy six months or more ago. I keep going back there. I really shouldn’t – it’s not good for my blood pressure. I need to relax. I need more “Treacle People” !


05 January 2008 (Saturday) - "And one was so big it won prizes"

05 January 2008 (Saturday) - "And one was so big it won prizes"magnify

Up at 6am and off to Devizes to meet the man with the mega-Koi (and, presumably, with the “objects” of different sizes,). Despite his mother’s panicking, “My Boy TM” offered to do the driving, and six motorways, four counties and 150 miles later we were there. I say Devizes – we met him at a bus stop somewhere near junction 16 of the M4. On the way we stopped for brekkie – aren’t motorway service stations a rip-off. The services near Swindon offered a “full English breakfast (!)” of two scratty sausages, an egg and a few beans for £8.99. Stuff that. We settled for the breakfast deal at Burger King. Two breakfasts at £5.49 is….. ? The idiot behind the till took a dozen goes at the till before giving up and using arithmetic to come up with the price that I’d got by multiplying 5.49 by 2. I was hoping she would find a total that I would be happy with, but left to her own meagre devices (i.e. the till) she never got it less than £13.

Dave” is now in the pond with the other “Daves”. He is now the biggest Koi we have. An excellent eBay bargain – even including the cost of collecting him he was still half the price I would have paid in any local Koi shop. I’m a bit worried that whilst all the other fish are swimming about, the new one’s just sitting at the bottom doing nothing. I’m desperately hoping that he’s just recovering from the stress of the journey – the chap from Devizes has positive feedback from people in Scotland who’ve driven down and collected similar fish and taken them back home several hundred miles and they’ve been fine. But I’m still rather concerned that tomorrow’s blog will feature an obituary. Oh well - time will tell – it always does. And talking of eBay bargains, I now have four sets of pink poker chips – I really must organise a cards night.

The afternoon was spent putting up new shelves and re-organising my back room. After a load of fiddling around and mucking about and swearing I’ve acquired maybe a metre more shelf space. Still not got enough! I need to throw away a lot of stuff. If only I didn’t need so much junk…..


06 January 2008 (Sunday) - "They peel them with their metal knives"

Pond update - "Dave" is swimming around with the other fish. He's swimming slowly, but so are all the other fish - it's a cold day.

My Boy TM” fancied some mashed potato last night, but being a lazy chap he thought he'd use the instant stuff. Being even lazier he made the whole lot in the electric kettle. And he boiled it in the kettle.

I first wised up to the fact that something was amiss when the kettle was frothing, and now (having given it a good scrubbing) the thing doesn't boil - it merely gets a bit warm and then cuts out. He claims he's always made instant mash that way. I can't help but worry about what other little schemes of his are waiting to be discovered. I wonder what he may have been putting in washing machines which might explain why we've got through so many just lately.

A phone call from the secretary of the Astronomy club - he's got the press coming to photograph him with a telescope tomorrow evening. Did I want to come along? Well, I can't make it - I shall be working at the time. But I find myself asking myself that very question. Do I want to go along? If I did go, it would probably mean that I was committing to remaining with the club, but I still can't decide whether or not I want to keep going along. On reflection I think that this phone call sums up entirely the problem with the astronomy club - there are those who are organising the club via email and the web, and there are others who are doing so via telephone & snail mail with no regard for what's been decided already.

I had this vague plan to go out for a walk, or to go to the pond shop, or to generally do something today, but in the end I settled for taking an Espace-full of rubbish to the tip following a mega-tidy-up. I've found some quality tat, including the DVD "Nightmare on Porn Street" which I must have bought for a fiver at some stage. I've put 50+ books (which were lurking in various places) back onto shelves (must put them in alphabetical order at some point) and found at least a dozen books that I've borrowed off other people in the past. I can give them all back now, as well as several audio books and PC games. It certainly looks tidier, but there's still loads of tat to sort through. I've endless fragments of computers: some useful, some not so. Trouble is it all looks the same to me. If anyone wants any CD boxes, I'm your man - they seem too good to throw away, but I've got dozens of them. They will be in the bin on the next sort out. Ditto the "Harry Potter writing set" unless someone wants it....


07 January 2008 (Monday) - A Day in the Life

07 January 2008 (Monday) - A Day in the Lifemagnify

Pond update – “Dave” is still swimming around with the other fish. Mind you, quite often when I go to have a look he’s just sitting there motionless. He’s either on the way out, or doing it to wind me up. The only drawback with buying a fish on eBay from someone 150 miles away is that when it croaks I’ve very little comeback. I’ll not give any feedback for a couple of days and see how things progress.

The saga of the mashed potato continues. The kettle now is seemingly haunted; it not only cuts out when being used, but switches itself on at seemingly random intervals. Fortunately Er Indoors has an emergency backup kettle which (following an overnight de-scale) has stepped into the breach. Though I don’t think it will do as a long-term replacement as it’s probably the wrong colour or some such nonsense.

The morning’s email brings the schedule for the next six months at the Astronomy club. I’m down to be speaking in February and May. I’ve agreed, provided that “others” don’t have a rival schedule (and tracing paper) like they have had in the past. Another email came from Australia from of my ex-students and fellow snake herd. Mark (known to the brats as “Hippy”) was a great chap, and he packed up working with me over ten years ago. Having worked all over the UK, he’s been “down under” for some years and is planning to marry in July. The wedding is all booked on one of the Greek islands. Would I like to go to the wedding? Well, yes I would, but it clashes with Brighton Kite festival.

Hosey had a rummage through my drawers last night (ooer!!), and 99% of my computer fragments went up the tip this morning. I’ve decided to be ruthless with my tat – anything which has been gathering dust for more than a year or two is going in the bin. There’s loads of CD boxes to go, the “Harry Potter Writing Set”, coffee jars. I’ve got three (out of date) ordnance survey maps of the Hastings area. Empty coffee jars – the posh ones with the stopper-type lids? They look too good to throw away, but they just accumulate. My old Boys Brigade uniform: I left the BB in 1984, but I’ve still got the uniform. Looking on eBay there’s no resale value on it at all. I sold an old Boys Brigade badge on eBay a couple of years ago. You would think that a souvenir badge from the coronation in 1937 would be worth something. I got 99p. Once the tat is out of the way I can start clearing the shelves of books I’m never going to read….


08 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Big Girls Don't Cry

08 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Big Girls Don't Crymagnify

One of the young leaders was singing tonight. In the words of his song "Big Girls Don't Cry". One of the braver cubs announced they did if you hit them hard enough. As a pre-emptive measure, the girl cubs kicked the proverbial out of him before I could intervene. And then a game. I say a game. Fifteen minutes waiting for them to shut up is closer to the truth. And then dealing with mega-strops because they didn't get their goes because they were too busy talking whilst I told them the rules. I'll hang on to the end of the month because I've promised to help with the Euro-Disney trip, but if Tuesdays at the scout hut continue being the total waste of my time that tonight was, I shall pack it in. I've really had enough of it.

In the meantime, the closet carry on fan claims to have no idea what goes on in the Wonderland Zoo:


09 January 2008 (Wednesday) - Back to NeverWinter

09 January 2008 (Wednesday) - Back to NeverWintermagnify

Some months ago NeverWinter Nights blew up on my PC, and all my attempts to re-install it failed. I roughed it with “Star Trek Away Team” and “Voyager Elite Force” for a bit, but they weren’t the same. And all the time I kept trying to re-install NeverWinter Nights,, and every time the installation didn’t work – when I came to play it kept asking for the game key. I eventually had this idea that the original CDs were knacked, so last week I sent off for new CDs from eBay. They arrived yesterday. Persuading my boss I did’t need to go to a meeting in Margate this afternoon I blagged an afternoon off work (some things are that important), installed it all, and bish-bosh here we go again.

It’s only now that I realise what probably went wrong. During the installation process I had to register the game. I suspect that when I came to re-install, if I’d asked Atari, they’d have sent me new CD keys.

But if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to NeverWinter. Whilst I’ve been gone, those orcs and trolls have run riot. They don’t kill themselves, you know.



10 January 2008 (Thursday) - Doing my Blood Pressure No Good At All

10 January 2008 (Thursday) - Doing my Blood Pressure No Good At Allmagnify

Now I knew there was going to be an article in the paper about the astronomy club, and I really shouldn’t get worked up about what I read in the papers – I’m sure a lot of it is made up by the reporters using poetic licence, but (at the risk of being pedantic):

·         The attendance over the last few months has been seven at most

·         Martin Hemsley is NOT the leader of the club – there have been discussions on two separate occasions when it was decided that leaders and committees and the like weren’t wanted.

·         His telescope wasn’t paid for by his giving up smoking

·         My name is spelt wrongly

·         There have been no talks on the sun or the moon

·         There have been no instructional evenings

·         There have been no viewing sessions

I’m afraid that the article is (at best) misleading, and I’m rather concerned that people are going to turn up to be disappointed.

Whilst I’m having a rant, why can no one ever agree with what any government does? Take the furore over the plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations. Now we’ve got three choices:

1.  Dramatically cut the nation’s energy usage

2.  TOTALLY stuff up the environment by burning stuff to make energy

3.  Nuclear power

Who’s going to give up driving to work and watching telly? And I think that we’re all rather worried about climate change. So, option 3 it is.

I’m going to NeverWinter to take out my temper on some trolls.


11 January 2008 (Friday) - Camping

11 January 2008 (Friday) - Campingmagnify

It’s pouring hard outside. As I write, our scouts are setting up their tents at Gilwell for the national scouts’ winter camp. Thousands of scouts and leaders will spend the weekend in a swamp in Essex, up to their knees in mud. We will have wet muddy tents around the scout hut for at least two weeks whilst we try to dry them. They must be mad! But no one is forcing any scout to go, and there’s twenty-one of our scouts there (and half a dozen leaders) who all wanted to go on what I consider to be a fool’s errand. But they love it!

Several of them asked me if I was going, and seemed quite disappointed that I wasn’t. However, I play a vital part in the winter camp. I’m the home contact. If any of them succumb to swamp fever, trench foot, malaria, frostbite, or any combination of these, it’s my job to tell their mummies and daddies.


12 January 2008 (Saturday) - Bow Snarrows

12 January 2008 (Saturday) - Bow Snarrowsmagnify

As today was the only day for ages that was forecast not to be pouring hard, I was keen to get out and about to do something. To do anything, rather than being stuck indoors. I’d only spend the day in NeverWinter. Having been back on-line with it for three days, I’ve lost three days in there already.

It was suggested that we go for a stroll – I was keen. But a change of plan – bow snarrows! As we haven’t done that for months, I was up for it, and before long half a dozen of us were ensconced at the farm propelling arrows in various directions. Mostly (but by no means entirely) in the general direction of the targets. However it has to be said that an innocent shrubbery took an unfair amount of hits. I maintain there were Frenchies lurking in the undergrowth. It’s funny how much easier it is to shoot accurately in NeverWinter.

Whilst the “Wiganfolk of Women” (sic) went off to cluck at sheep, a “newby-twanger” demonstrated the “Hunting Pose TM”. I must admit that I was impressed with the “Hunting Pose TM”, and when it comes to shooting arrows at a picture of a rat, it can’t be bettered. But were it my husband performing that pose, I would find it necessary to check his undercrackers once he’d got home. I’ve tried the “Hunting Pose TM” myself, but find it chafes somewhat. I tried to photograph it for posterity, but wasn’t quick enough. Which is probably just as well. I’m reliably informed that it looks quite macho, but only when performed by certain archers. Apparently “Batty looks gay when he does it”….


13 January 2008 (Sunday) - British Bullfrog

13 January 2008 (Sunday - British Bullfrogmagnify

The last birthday party we staged for any of our brats was when “My Boy TM” was five years old. After that we went to McDonald’s every time. My nephew’s fourth birthday party was in a nearby church hall, and I suspect next year we’ll be trundling down for a McParty.

I say “fourth birthday” – birthday cards received covered the age range from three to five, and one card was brave enough to say it had no idea how old he was. There were quite a few kids there (I’m told there were thirty-six invited) with ages ranging from four to early teens. As well as all his nursery school friends, Thomas invited a lot of the local hooligans with whom he plays “British Bullfrog” every evening. I can only describe “British Bullfrog” as an incredibly lame version of “British Bulldog” which would seem to be played by puffs. When the cubs play “British Bulldog” it’s full-on contact, violence, aggro, and tears at least every two seconds. “British Bullfrog” has much the same rules, but with girlie-tagging in place of the aggro.

As is so often the case at these sorts of parties I got co-opted to shout, holler and organise everyone (apparently I can be rather loud?). Various cousins looked on in amazement as I bellowed at the assembled throng to “Siddahn and Shaddap”. Well, if they didn’t like it, they won’t ask me to do it again….

Once all the pressies were handed over, we had a few goes of “British Bullfrog” followed by pass the parcel, musical bumps, and then the obligatory bunfight. With assorted relatives having been cooking since 6am, there was a decent spread – plenty for everyone. Were it up to me I would have followed the scoffing with something nice and physical (last one to be sick is the winner), but instead it was another dose of “pass the parcel”.

Same time next year….. I think I’ll suggest a McParty.


14 January 2008 (Monday) - News ?

14 January 2008 (Monday) - News ?magnify

The inquest into the death of Diana Princess of Wales today heard from her ex-butler who reckoned she wasn’t putting it about as some of the sleazier rumours would have us believe. He also thought the Queen wasn’t masterminding a plot to have her killed either. What a twat – how on earth are they going to drag this whole charade out any longer without dirt and gossip? Before long, the general public will wise up to the fact she’s been dead ten years.

Meanwhile in NeverWinter I’ve found this amazing red suit of armour. For those sad acts who appreciate such trivia, the armour has the lowest AC you’ll ever find, but puts your charisma through the roof.


15 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Stuff

15 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Stuffmagnify

I wasn’t supposed to be at Cubs tonight – I was supposed to be with a cub pack in Folkestone, but “Operation Stack” put paid to that idea. The weather put a lot of cubs off coming tonight, but those that arrived were in fine form. “Princess Prawn Cocktail” now goes by the name of “Princess Smoky Bacon”. “Dimwit” is still searching for another alias. “Pinky and the Twit” (pictured above) sang their new theme tune:

“We’re Pinky and the Twit, Pinky and the Twit

One is a genius, the other is sh……”

It was at this point that I rather felt I needed to take a firm line. And then home to find that Kate needed a lift to Canterbury….


16 January 2008 (Wednesday) - Dogs

16 January 2008 (Wednesday) - Dogsmagnify

One of my staff was late in to work today. Her “Lame Excuse TM” was that she’s captured a stray dog and had to return said mutt to its home. I must admit that as lame excuses go, it’s quite a good one. She claims to find strays at the rate of one a month – that’s quite good going!


17 January 2008 (Thursday) - Venus

17 January 2008 (Thursday) - Venusmagnify

A day off work – if only to use up my holiday. I get thirty three days leave per year. And half a day extra for every Saturday morning I work. At one a month that adds up to six more days. I carried over five days leave from the last leave year, so that gave me…. too much holiday. Bearing in mind everyone I work with is in pretty much the same boat, as we get to this time of year, people take days off not because they want to, but because if they don’t they’ll lose the leave. It was actually with a sense of relief that I learned that I’d had my Easter for this leave year, and the one in a few weeks time would have to be taken as holiday.

So, what did I do with a wet Thursday in January? Well, I see that I’m due to talk about the planet Venus in a few weeks time; so a lot of time today was spent preparing for that. I must admit I’m no expert on the subject, but it’s amazing what you can find out from Wikipedia and the NASA website. Bung in a healthy dose of Google Images, thump it all with PowerPoint and you can come up with a presentation that’s half-way decent. Did you know that up until the nineteenth century it was thought Venus had a large moon? And that it rains sulphuric acid there? And that……. – you’ll have to come along to find out.

Do come along. Please! (he begged). Those of my loyal readers who listened to me drone on about Mars a few weeks ago might like to hear this sequel. Those of my loyal readers who weren’t there might like a night out. At the last talk I gave to the astronomy club, half the audience was my “rent-a-mob.” In all honesty I’m rather concerned that there won’t be enough of an audience in six weeks time to make it worth my while.

And for the rest of my day off, I’ll do the laundry. It’s something of a tradition….


18 January 2008 (Friday) - Still Raining

18 January 2008 (Friday) - Still Rainingmagnify

Another day off work – again to use up my holiday. And again it’s pouring outside, so plans to mow the lawn and paint fences were put on hold. I did the obligatory tip run. The place was deserted – no one does rubbish in the rain. I will go there in the rain more often in future. What often wasted half an hour in the dry took less than two minutes today. I was back home by 9.30am in time to do the ironing. Having the house to myself, for once I got to use the SkyPlus. I spend £37 a month of my own personal cash for the SkyPlus, and I am very occasionally grudgingly allowed to watch “Treacle People” on it (if I’m lucky). Well, a month ago I recorded the Battlestar Galactica movie on SkyPlus, and this morning I got to watch it. Admittedly I was doing the ironing at the time, but it was good. I liked it, but in true “Glaktikker” form there’s a lot of the story told in flashbacks, and watching it with one eye on the ironing board left me a bit confused in places. I can’t wait for season four. Trouble is I don’t want to watch it as it comes on the TV. I prefer to watch a season like I watched the last season of ”Galactica” – all in one go. Six episodes at once on four consecutive days. I can’t watch only one episode a week – I forget what’s going on.

And then to the KFC for some scran. I’m assuming my loyal readership knows what I mean by “scran”? A recent survey at work showed most people under the age of thirty had no idea what “scran” is. “Scran” was scoffed whilst watching the last episode of F.U. Francis Urquhart was a wonderful Prime Minister – but I’m glad he’s only a fictional character. He’s quite a nasty piece of work. That DVD boxed set was the best Xmas pressie I’ve had off my mother for years. Far better that the obligatory “pullover for the middle aged that I never wear TM”.

And then to NeverWinter. Half way through killing a band of trolls there was a knocking on the door. “Skinhead” had arrived to see “My Little Girl TM”. “My Little Girl TM” was working in Canterbury, and had left instructions for “Skinhead” to wait in her bedroom. As I type this, “Skinhead” is tidying “My Little Girl TM”‘s bedroom for her. Not out of any sense of loyalty or duty, but so’s she’ll have somewhere to sit down whilst waiting.

She can hoover the living room when she’s done tidying…..


19 January 2008 (Saturday) - Five Hundred Blog Entries

19 January 2008 (Saturday) - Five Hundred Blog Entriesmagnify

The five hundredth blog entry. And with over twenty-five thousand hits, that’s about fifty hits a day. And I thought my life was dull – as evidenced by today.

Back to work – if only for the morning. When I first started as an apprentice blood tester, on a busy day we would do two hundred and fifty blood counts. Today we had more than that left over from the previous evening. So the morning was spent doing what twenty years ago would be done by ten people in a whole day. Admittedly there is a degree of automation these days which would have seemed like sci-fi to the degree of “Star Trek” back in the early eighties, but it was still the busiest Saturday morning I’ve ever worked. Its things like this which those who knock the NHS never see, or care about. Talking of which I had a complaint today. Some fellow wasn’t happy. I listened patiently until he called me a F*!?! dimwit, at which point I told him that Trust policy said I didn’t have to listen to abuse, and I put the phone down. I expect that there’ll be a written complaint. I also expect I’ll be in the wrong again. I usually am.

As a treat – McDinner. I asked for a chicken wrap. I was asked if I wanted Cajun chicken. Rather a stupid question as that’s the only chicken wraps they did. And then I snored all the way to Lakeside Retail Park. Decathlon is good for spare arrows. I wanted a new bow, but they only had weak girlie bows. The bloke muttered something about new stock soon, but they’ve said that every time we’ve been up there. I thought I’d get a new pair of troosers too, but someone had mixed all the sizes up. In the end I settled for a pink scarf, and then on to the next shop.

Borders bookshop is famous for the quality selection of books, DVDs, music, reference and fiction sections….. I found out today it’s got a smutty DVD section. I was shocked. And announced as much to Chippy & Brian who were on the other side of the shop. It’s funny how all the “normal people TM” made a point of ignoring the big loud lout, but as soon as I was out of the way they all made a bee-line for the filth.

Black’s have a reputation as one of the better suppliers of outdoor and camping requisites. However it seems that they don’t seem to cater for the more rotund gentleman. I suppose they assume us porkers sit indoors all day long? The biggest trousers they did were still some eight inches too small around the middle for me. As I am reliably informed, a “Real Man TM” waist size begins with a “4”. Following a brief diversion to Toys R Us (for which I’m hoping to line up a discount in the near future) we picked up an Argos catalogue from their latest employee – Superman. How are the mighty fallen! And then to Maplins for my new mouse. Isn’t it sexy?!?! The bloke in the bed shop was wearing his jim-jams. His boss said it was a good sales gimmick. He hated it, but I thought it looked cool.

And then home to seven hundred emails, downloaded courtesy of my new sexy pink mouse. With the exception of one email from Chris, all the other emails seemed like fugitives from the smut section of Border’s bookshop. It’s a good job there’s people like me to take a moral stand.


20 January 2008 (Sunday) - Money, 70s music, and At the Farm

20 January 2008 (Sunday) - Money, 70s music, and At the Farmmagnify

"Er Indoors" received "Jackie, The Album" on three compact discs as an Xmas gift. Whenever we go anywhere in the car, it's non-stop seventies all the way. Perhaps the latest dose of You-Tube will get those CDs put back in the box? If this doesn't work I shall do all three CDs worth. Or as many as I can find on the free MP3 downloads website.

The morning was nearly spent going back to Lakeside to retrieve a certain credit card. Fortunately this wasn't necessary, and so I did the accounts instead. Boring !!!! Mind you, it's amazing how the monthly phone bill goes up and down. At nearly forty quid last month , it was only £25 this time. And now I've gone to paperless billing I shall save 50p each month. That's over two pints of beer more for me in a year. Some people might sneer at such piddling amounts, but if everyone went to paperless billing I could get seriously plastered. For the next three months there are no council tax payments. If I was sensible I'd put that money aside for a service for the car.

On the other hand I could get a decent Koi for the pond instead. Mind you, the last big Koi I got - to be fair it's not dead, but it doesn't do much. I know fish don't do much at the best of times - they just sort of swim around a bit. Well, this one doesn't even do that unless you poke it. Perhaps he'll get livelier as it warms up in the spring. Let's hope so.

Yesterday in Border's bookshop as well as briefly perusing the porno DVD section, I saw they had a "proper" DVD I've been after for a while. But I wasn't paying £20 for it - so this morning a quick root around in eBay found it for £8 including P&P.

And then to the farm- Moses had never had a go at cows before….


21 January 2008 (Monday) - A Moan

It was dark when I got home tonight. I got out of the car, came round to the passenger side to get some stuff out, and then I leapt into a hedge to avoid the prat cyclist. Zooming down the pavement in the dark, with no lights, clothed entirely in black, with walkman earphones in place. I was tempted to stay put and cause a crash, but he’d only damage my car, and spotty goth twats aren’t renown for having comprehensive insurance.


22 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Another World

22 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Another Worldmagnify

As we’re only taking one girl cub to Eurodisney, she’ll be dossing down with girl cubs from another pack. Tonight we went to meet this pack so that little Jenny knows who she’ll be sharing a room with.

Horror of horrors – they are “normal”. When their leaders asked for quiet, they got it. There’s no cheeky ones, no spirited ones…. When their leader told them all to sit down, our little Jenny turned to me and whispered “no one said - and shaddap!” When playing games, if one fell over or wasn’t fast enough, the others would wait for them to catch up. Ours would trample on the weakest, and devil take the hindmost. In the craft sessions, where I would bellow out instructions as we went along, the leader sat them down, told them what was to happen and had them write down instructions of what they should do. And they sat in silence and did just that.

I noticed that compared to our cubs, on average this bunch had far fewer badges. But the ones they did have – the “group faith badge”, the “My Faith” badge….. that bothered me for some reason. Why were they so worryingly normal? Perhaps the religious element is to blame? Or the fact they had no “spanners” or “gobby ones”?

Would I want to be a leader there? On the one hand they got so much done in the evening as there was no time wasted calling for quiet – I can waste nearly half the evening (literally half the evening) trying to get our cubs attention. On the other hand, there wasn’t much spark about the cubs there. Well, that’s unfair - there were characters there, but you had to look for them. If anyone new comes to my cubs, the gobby little beggars go up and say hello. These cubs were talkative enough, once I’d made the effort. But oh-so polite.

I shall reflect on this….


23 January 2008 (Wednesday) - I.T. issues

The Network Haematology DCW returned from beyond the grave today. Apparently there are a couple of problems with it that the IT people want to go over tomorrow. I said that was OK – would it take long. “Not long” they said “there are only a few problems”. “A few”, I asked. “Well, some”, they replied. “How many?” I asked. “Sixty-seven” was the answer.

That’s my plans for tomorrow out the window.


24 January 2008 (Thursday) - Life Goes On....

24 January 2008 (hursday) - Life Goes On....magnify

Last night I was driven home in the back of my bus. It’s only on special occasions that ‘er indoors is allowed to drive. It was quite disconcerting to hear all the knocking and rattling that I don’t normally hear from the driver’s seat. Imagine my relief this morning when I found that the noises wasn’t the exhaust falling off, but two bottles of lemonade, a power extension cable and a big tool box all rattling round. It’s amazing what you forget that you’ve put in the car.

And so back to NeverWinter – I’m banished from downstairs. There’s a roomful of women squawking about candles down there…


25 January 2008 (Friday) - Off To Eurodisney

25 January 2008 (Friday) - Off To Eurodisneymagnify

As is so often the way, with a day off work and no need to get up early, I was wide awake and bored with lying in bed by 6am. I shall be tired later. And then a trip to town to buy some last minute bits for this weekend’s excursion. Shopping is so dull – how can so many people make a hobby of it?

I came home to sort out the undercrackers – I put a load in to wash and tumble dry – how come there’s always an odd sock left over. I’ve heard all the old tips about keeping odd socks beause the other one always turns up. It doesn’t. I’ve loads of odd socks that I have to throw away when ‘er indoors isn’t looking.

Socks, shopping, my life is so exciting, isn’t it. Let’s hope things perk up this weekend. They ought to – there’s seven coaches taking three hundred of us to Eurodisney. It’s a shame that the twelve kids we’re taking include all of the “special” ones. Mind you, I’m not dreading this outing like I do so many of our residential trips. Perhaps because there’s not going to be much for me to do – we’re either on a coach, in the theme park, eating or asleep. Let’s expect the worst, but hope for the best….


26 January 2008 (Saturday) - To Insanity And Beyond

26 January 2008 (Saturday) - To Insanity And Beyondmagnify

I was amazed how well we slept – following six hours on the coach I was expecting the cubs to be hyperactive and up half the night. We arrived at the Davy Crockett Ranch at 11pm, and went straight to our cabins (sheds). I loudly announced that they should get into their pyjamas, fully expecting this to be only the start of a going to bed ritual lasting several hours. They were changed in minutes, asked for hot chocolate, took themselves to bed and were snoring within twenty minutes.

An early start – VERY early. Brekky was to be picked up from the canteen shed at 7.30am, so not only did I have to be there in time, but I also needed to have two cubs kicked into the kitchen to be getting ready, and another to come to help me collect the scoff. Brekky was scoffed, coats on, and it was to the coach to the theme park. Singing our happy tune (“Frosty the Snowman died to death of die-er-rear” – only the one line, constantly repeated ad-nauseum) we made our way to the “Thunder Mountain” ride and queued patiently for half an hour until it broke down. We got given free fast pass tickets for later in the day, and then made our way to the haunted house where one of the older, calmer, better behaved cubs went hysterical in terror. I couldn’t believe it – I’ve known this lad since he was a Beaver, probably over four years. The sort of lad that makes doing cubs worthwhile. He went completely mental when he saw there was a ride inside the haunted house. Not knowing what else to do, I bundled him on the ride, gave him a hug and waited for him to realise it was actually good fun. He came out wanting another go….

And then to the Buzz Lightyear ride – a new one in which you can spin your carriage yourself and have laser guns to zap aliens. Having saved the universe it was time for scoff. As part of the weekend, we had vouchers for the fast food places in the park. “Fast Food” he laughed. Let’s draw a line over their incompetence – suffice it to say that once we’d eventually got to the counter it took half an hour to provide sixteen burgers & chips. But chips take a while to settle – it’s oh so easy to spin them back up again. So I put my foot down and we went on my second favourite ride – it goes round and round and up and down all at once. AWSIS !!!!!

I can’t help but feel we could have achieved more had we been a bit more attentive to our surroundings. We had to go back to Star Tours to retrieve a rucksack, back to two gift shops to actually pick up what we’d bought, and when we finally got to go on “Thunder Mountain” we left several hats behind.

All too soon it got dark, and it was time for tea. In Planet Hollywood with the rest of our party. We were part of seven coach loads of cubs from Kent numbering over three hundred, and we’d booked Planet Hollywood for ourselves. More burgers all round, slightly (but not much) faster than the mid day burger, and then it was back to the park for our favourite ride of all. The toilet must have been THE favourite ride, as we spent so much time there, at one point making four calls in an hour. A quick whiz round the park on the train, and it was 9pm and the coaches were leaving back to the Davy Crockett Ranch.

Again the lads got pyjamed up quickly, but there was a problem. Whilst we’d been out, the maid had come in, made the beds, tidied up, and skidded William’s bed. Or so William claimed, William having no other explanation for how his bed had skid marks. Personally I suspected Terry who had earlier been having a “nudey fit” in William’s bed, but I didn’t like to say anything. People tend to get hold of the wrong end of the stick over things like that, so we’ll blame the maid. You would think she’d have better things to do with her time, really.


27 January 2008 (Sunday) - Home From Eurodisney

27 January 2008 (Sunday) - Home From Eurodisneymagnify

I woke at four am with backache, and so we were all up in plenty of time for the off. For some reason the coaches were late starting off, and by the time we got to the Disney studios part of the park the queues were already long. We queued for the new Nemo ride, and it was quite frustrating to see that (true to the stereotype) so many of the locals didn’t understand the idea of queueing. Normally I’d give them some gob, but when in scout attire one has to keep up (some) appearances. By the time we’d done this ride (it was good!!) it was 11am.

Bearing in mind the fiasco that was yesterday’s meal we thought we’d eat early today. There was no queue, and it took forty five minutes to serve sixteen burgers & chips. I’m afraid the catering there was absolutely hopeless. The only good part about the entire sorry tale that was dinner was that I was glad we were at the front of the queue. Bearing in mind the coach was leaving at 1.15pm, we hadn’t time for any more rides, so we wandered around, meeting Lilo and Stitch (I got to cuddle Stitch, much to the smaller cubs’ excitement).

The last few Euros were squandered on plastic rubbish, two more trips to the loo (the cubs LOVE the toilet) and then six hours on the coach home again. Joseph had a tiddle half way up the motorway, and again at the terminal, and again once we were on the shuttle, and then half way through the tunnel in his pants.

A good trip – I’d certainly do it again, but….. I’m left thinking what a waste of money it was for some of the parents. The trip had cost each child about a couple of hundred pounds (don’t believe the bargains in the papers – it’s not cheap). We took ten cubs, at least three of which would have had as much fun having a sleepover-cum-fight at home, as they didn’t go on any ride that I didn’t formally order them on to. Some of them were even scared of the Carousel.

But I had a good time!


28 January 2008 (Monday) - The Astronomy Club (Again)

Tonight’s subject was “The Winter Stars”. The talk was informal, light hearted, but informative. I learned loads. And then the post talk chat was cut short so that the element that likes the sound of his own voice could show off the new telescope. It would seem that the fact that we don’t really know much about our new telescope was clearly neither here nor there.

Tonight saw the highest turn-out since the club started. 75% new people on the strength of the newspaper article a month ago. Those who like the sound of their own voice were quite happy to have a new cohort to bore. The fact that over the last year so many have come and left has been either ignored or not realised.

Next month I’m supposed to be giving the talk. Had I not already prepared the presentation, I wouldn’t bother. But it’s ready to roll, so I’ll do it. On one condition. Mine is the voice we hear the most of that night…..


29 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Caring for the Birds

29 January 2008 (Tuesday) - Caring for the Birdsmagnify

For no adequately explained reason tonight was spent looking out for our feathered friends. Foul odours emanated from the scout hut’s kitchen as bird seed was mixed with molten lard to make bird feeders. The average sparrow is quite keen on bird seed and dried fruit in lard, and it’s easy enough to knock together. Bearing in mind the fun I had watching the sparrows on my bird feeder last year (until they destroyed it), I’m tempted to boil some up myself.

Thirty-six sets of parents were invited to help with the woodwork of building a bird table. We got two Dads along. But they were keen. And they knew about woodwork, which was more than I did. I can saw wood, and clout things with a hammer, but that’s about my lot. One bird table was completed, and it didn’t look too bad. Other tables still need a bit of work, but most of the cubs seemed to enjoy themselves. All except “Big Jimmy Spanner” who (on learning his brother would be cooking with the scouts later) spent the evening crying because he would be missing the chance to shovel more food into his face.


30 January 2008 (Wednesday) - Getting Ready

30 January 2008 (Wednesday) - Getting Readymagnify

Not that I’m preparing for the weekend or anything, but those with stronger livers than brains might like to print out the lyrics below for “Men of Harlech”. It will probably come in handy early on Saturday afternoon. Those who have no idea of the relevance of this song should count themselves lucky. Suffice it to say that we shall be accompanied by a drunk fellow playing the hose pipe.

Tongues of fire on Idris flaring,
News of foemen near declaring,
To heroic deeds of daring,
Call you, Harlech men.
Groans of wounded peasants dying,
Wails of wives and children flying,
For the distant succour crying,
Call you, Harlech Men.
Shall the voice of wailing,
Now be an unavailing,
You to rouse, who never yet
In battle's hour were failing?
This our answer, crowds down pouring,
Swift as winter torrents roaring.
Not in vain the voice imploring
Calls on Harlech men.

Loud the martial pipes are sounding,
Every manly heart is bounding,
As our trusted chief surrounding,
March we, Harlech men.
Short the sleep the foe is taking;
Ere the morrow's morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
Roused by Harlech Men.
Mothers, cease your weeping,
Calm may be your sleeping,
You and yours in safety now,
The Harlech men are keeping.
Ere the sun is high in heaven,
They you fear, by panic riven,
Shall, like frightened sheep, be driven,
Far, by Harlech men.

Well, those are the proper words from Wikipedia. Me – I usually sing a song which describes the picture above. You can find my version here. And whilst we’re on the subject of singing and beer, do you remember Ivan and Abdul?

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

At the risk of offending anyone's sensibilities, I'd like to remind the world that the above YouTube video was regularly shown on children's TV many years ago.


31 January 2008 (Thursday) - The News

Yesterday’s blog entry has been read seventy times. But only two people have voted in the poll. Whilst you’re practicing singing “Men of Harlech”, here’s something on which you might care to reflect.

The home secretary announced that rural schools shouldn’t be closed. A laudable stance. But then the same government criticises local councils for having up to 25% of its schools places vacant making these rural schools cost a fortune to keep going.

Not so long ago universities were closing their science departments. Today’s radio has a grumble from the government that there’s not going to be enough people qualified to run the next generation of nuclear power stations.

It’s a funny old world. Why is stating the blooming obvious seen as being newsworthy?

It’s my birthday in three weeks time. Does anyone fancy a trip to “Dickens World” in Rochester on Thursday 21st Feb? Or a trip to the FILO any time during that week?