1 July 2021 (Thursday) - Hic (!)
I watched another half-episode of “Fresh Meat” as I scoffed toast. The show makes me think – it is about a bunch of youngsters sharing a house whilst at university. Bearing in mind I did my degrees and post-graduate stuff whilst working (with small children in the house) I never did the house-sharing thing, and I think I’m pretty glad I didn’t. The closest I ever came to that was two weeks living in Ashford Hospital’s Nurses’ Home in September 1984 and it was pretty much the most miserable time of my life. There were twenty-four rooms in the place and it was filled with people *pretending* to be having a good time. I can remember that putting any food into any communal fridge or cupboard was pretty much the same as giving it away (as you would never see it again). All mail was opened by the resident weirdo who thought all mail was for him. It spoke volumes that for all that everyone was loudly saying what a good place it was to live, there wasn’t anyone who wasn’t actively searching out alternate accommodation. I suppose some people must like that lifestyle; I certainly didn’t.
I sparked up my lap-top and peered at the internet. A couple of days ago I whinged about our Munzee clan. At the last minute last night our Munzee Clan Leader got a shift on, and our clan reached its target. Go us!!!
I then rolled my eyes as I read some of the postings on a work-based Facebook group. Once upon a time that group was educational and helpful and a resource for all. Nowadays random people post photos of random blood cells and say “what do you think?” and people who clearly haven’t got the faintest idea post random guesses ranging from “guts ache” through to “fatal death syndrome” covering pretty much every malady known to medical science in between.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes (both to people called “Andrew” – what are the chances of that?) and got ready for work.
Despite the best efforts of several European lorry drivers who were determined to stop everyone (by driving two abreast nose-to-tail), I eventually got on to the motorway this morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were quite frankly wasting air-time. They were constantly harping on about an episode in Parliament yesterday when the Leader of the Opposition had been haranguing the Prime Minister. The disgraced Minister for Health Matt Hancock had openly breached lockdown rules (by porking his floozie) whilst other people followed the rules and didn't get to spend time with dying relatives. The Prime Minister felt that having had Mr Hancock resign was an end to the matter. Personally I can't help but feel that Mr Hancock should face some sort of prosecution. After all he's the one who brought in the rules he so flagrantly ignored.
Work was work. Despite being on the early shift I was only two hours late getting out. This is the trouble with working in a hospital – if you are busy you *really* can’t leave work till the next day.
I came home, and as er indoors TM” boiled up dinner I tuned in to the Horror channel and watched an episode of “Space 1999”. I watch that show out of a sense of nostalgia… as a child I loved it. However as a sci-fi show it doesn’t work. I like science-fiction, but for science fiction to work, the science bit has to be plausible. Had “Space 1999” been billed as “bollox fiction” it might well work.
We cracked open a bottle of red wine and watched a couple of episodes of “Lego Masters USA”; having stopped recording the show, the SkyQ box suddenly presented us with some episodes. They were rather good. As was the red wine…
2 July 2021 (Friday) - Telly, Lego, Star Trek
Once I’d made toast and scoffed it (whilst watching more “Fresh Meat”) I sparked up my lap-top and looked at the Internet and found myself thinking about my car – my car is fourteen years old. When it finally croaks (and it can’t be long) I will probably sell it for scrap. A friend of mine sold his car for scrap on Wednesday. He got a hundred and fifty quid for it, and this morning he posted on Facebook saying he’d just seen that very same car advertised for sale on the Friday-Ad web site for five hundred quid.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Labour party won the by-election held yesterday in Batley and Spen. Admittedly they did win it in that their candidate got more votes than any other. But that candidate only got thirty-five per cent of the votes cast, and that on a less than fifty per cent turn out. So effectively the MP was voted in by less than one voter in five. And the actual amount of votes cast for the Labour party's candidate was some ten thousand less than that cast at the last election.
Admittedly the Workers Party of Britain had been playing silly beggars, but doesn't this speak volumes about the current state of the Labour party. With the country seemingly facing the imminent threat of being unable to feed itself, a massive rise in the public's lack of confidence in the government's handling of the COVID crisis and the Health Secretary's frankly abysmal behaviour, the public still feel that the Labour party are a bit of a joke.
I was also rather amazed to hear the announcement that COVID vaccinations have only a limited effect in immunocompromised patients. I wasn't amazed so much at the statement as I was amazed that so much air-time was devoted to it. If you've got a condition which affects your immune system (any of the blood cancers), or if you are on any cancer treatment, then the COVID vaccinations won't work as well as they would on anyone else. Isn't this blatantly obvious? Seriously? It is like saying that if you don't regularly charge your mobile phone then it will stop working. Or if you don't put fuel in your car then it won't go. Surely everyone must realise that you are going to struggle to boost an immunity if that which makes immunity is broken? Don't they?
Work was work. An ex-colleague came to visit. A year or so ago he left and went to work in a hospital in Devon. He’d left that place very quickly and had moved on somewhere else. Some of the more isolated blood testing establishments can be rather parochial.
Another colleague announced he was leaving soon; he is moving into hospital management and will be doing a job coaching and mentoring other managers in various projects they may be undertaking.
Isn’t this entirely where the world has gone wrong? Back in the day a manager just got on with it. These days so much as making a cup of tea needs a formal plan which is managed and reviewed at every step of the way with endless meetings and teams getting involved. Back in the day you would have done whatever managing needed to be managed in less time than it would take to stage today’s first preliminary meeting about the thing.
With work done I came home to find Pogo was back in residence. I fussed him, then set about mowing the lawn. It is only nine days since I last mowed it, but you’d think a couple of months had passed; it had grown so much.
er indoors TM” then took the dogs out and I slobbed in front of the telly and watched another episode of “Space 1999”. Yesterday I described it as “bollox fiction” and I wondered if I’d been a tad harsh. But having watched today’s instalment I don’t think I was. It is entertaining, but…
In today’s show a load of space probe thingies landed on the moon (for no apparent reason) and gave it an atmosphere. Having an atmosphere was useful because our heroes could then open the windows on the moon base (opening windows? On a moon base?) before flying off in a space ship (for no apparent reason) and crashing it (for no apparent reason). Rather than seeking help they sat around starving and dying of thirst before getting ripped to the tits on magic mushrooms. In the last five minutes all the space probe thingies took the Moon’s atmosphere away again (for no apparent reason), and the credits were rolled.
I think “bollox fiction” is a very apt description of the show’s genre.
As er indoors TM” boiled up dinner I played about with a new toy – the Voila AI Artist app. I suspect I am going to learn about all sorts of privacy issues with this app and how it has sold all my personal data to the highest bidder, but I quite enjoyed playing with it. The thing has got my humungous nose and wonky eyes just right.
We scoffed a rather good dinner whilst watching the final of “Lego Masters”, which was also rather good. And as we looked for something else to watch after “Lego Masters”, so the second “Star Trek” film started. It was the first film that I took er indoors TM” to see at the cinema. It was the first film we ever hired on video in 1985 when we hired our first-ever VHS video recorder from DER. I’ve seen that film dozens of times, but still we are going to watch it. It’s the law.
One early scene made me sit up and take notice though. Admiral Kirk and Doctor McCoy were taking about getting old on what was Admiral Kirk’s birthday… on which he was five years younger than I am now….
3 July 2021 (Saturday) - Feeling A Bit Tired
In a novel break with tradition I had granola for brekkie rather than toast as I watched an episode of “Fresh Meat” and as yet another negative COVID test incubated.
I sparked up my lap-top to record the negative result, saw absolutely nothing at all had happened on-line overnight, and got ready for yet another early shift.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were doing the "Farming Today" program. A show which has the potential to be very interesting but is often incredibly dull. In between talk of growing clover in with wheat (no - I have no idea why either) there was talk of the disposal of nuclear waste. Apparently over the next hundred years the UK looks set to generate just over five million tons of nuclear waste and some bright spark has come up with the bright idea of getting robots to shift it... on account of it is bloody dangerous stuff and no one wants to go near it.
I suppose that this then begs the question of who *do* they get who is daft enough to shift the stuff at the moment? And exactly where are they sticking it?
I wish I knew how you get the job of being one of these bright sparks. I would love to be paid good money for pointing out the blatantly obvious.
Meanwhile the Hubble Space Telescope is poggered. It has done well to last for thirty-one years.
I got to work and started on my sixth consecutive early shift. This was the fifth Saturday I've worked out of the last seven (the two I didn't work were when I was having a little holiday). For all that I grumble, I quite like working at the weekends really. There is something satisfying about being trusted to get the job done without needing to be watched like a hawk.
As I worked the weather went from torrential rain to glorious sunshine back to torrential rain. When I came hoe the sky was very black, and rain was intermittent as I came back down the motorway. Not wanting to chance the weather I decided against going to the family fun day that “My Boy TM” and Cheryl had organised. Instead I slobbed about at home. Having worked for six days I think I might have overdone it somewhat.
With a frankly awful day forecast for tomorrow I shall have a lie-in in the morning.
4 July 2021 (Sunday) - It Didn't Rain
Having been up at five o’clock for the last six days I slept through till after nine o’clock this morning. Mind you I would rather have got up early to go for our usual weekend walk, but we’d cancelled because of the awful weather forecast for today. I must admit I was rather glad to see that it was raining when I finally got up – we hadn’t cancelled for no reason. The forecast had got the early morning weather right.
However that was all that they had got right. The rest of the day was dry. We *had* cancelled our walk for no reason.
Talking of weather forecasts I am convinced that weather forecasting has got worse over the last year or so. A few years ago we could rely on the BBC’s forecast. These days it seems to be little more than guesswork. I had a little look on-line and found that my feeling was right. The reliability of weather forecasting *has* got worse. The reason – coronageddon. Seriously. With far fewer planes flying about, the meteorologists have got far fewer observations of actual weather on which to base their predictions.
As I munched toast I peered into the Internet I saw the potential for a squabble on the local Facebook geocaching page. Someone new to the ancient and honourable pastime of sticking film pots under rocks had the arse. Having put out three caches in deepest Rochester they were a tad miffed that only two people had logged finds on them. Looking on the map these caches didn’t look to be easily accessible if you don’t know Rochester’s roads very well, but I wonder if this is just symptomatic of geocaching going the way of many other hobbies (kite-flying, astronomy and fishing immediately spring to mind) in that people don’t so much do the hobby any more preferring to pontificate on-line about it instead.
I then wrote a rather depressing obituary on the state of my profession (for a work-based Facebook group) and got dressed (at eleven o’clock).
Just as I was pootling in the garden so the phone beeped. A whole load of geocaches had gone live just down the road. Whilst I’m pleased that someone has taken the time to put these out, it is a shame that this has effectively done for the Greensand Way project that several of us have been working on. Oh well… such is life. Those who’d taken on that stretch of the Greensand Way have had over a year to get the job done.
But seeing the chance of a First to Find, er indoors TM” and the dogs charged out of the house. We set the GPS on a cache we could drive to, but as we drove so an FTF log appeared on it. We drove on to another cache where we saw those who’d got the FTF walking away from it. Our third attempt had us on the wrong side of a flooded ditch, but we got to be First to Find on the fourth attempt. Mind you I don’t think that cache will last. The people in the house over the road seemed absolutely fascinated with what we were doing.
From there we drove over to the back end of Park Farm where there is a little loop of nine geocaches. We had this plan that they would give us an hour’s dog walk before the forecast rain hit.
If ever you fancy hunting out a film pot under a rock, don’t bother with the “Love In A Cache” series. There are two types of people who hide geocaches; those that want them found and those that do not. These caches were clearly hidden by someone from the second camp. With rather poor GPS co-ordinates, frankly meaningless hints, one seemingly drop-kicked into a thicket and one looking to be in someone’s garden I think we were lucky to have found four out of nine (which is an incredibly bad success rate).
Interestingly the person who had supposedly found the caches before us hadn’t signed any of the paper logs, and after two minutes of stalking them on-line I was they had also claimed finds in Carmarthen on the day when they were supposedly in Ashford. Was he cheating? I don’t know. But rules are rules. He is supposed to sign the paper log.
We came home, and sat in the garden drinking beer and enjoying the afternoon sunshine. At five o’clock we hurried inside as the sky grew dark, but after two minutes it brightened up again.
er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching Adrian Edmonson going round Great Britain. He was in Devon in today’s episode making walls and apple pies and gin.
I could do that…
5 July 2021 (Monday) - George Cross? Me - I'm Furious!!
I didn’t sleep well, seeing every hour of the night. Eventually I gave up trying to sleep and made some toast. Just as I sat down in front of the telly so my phone beeped. I apparently had a voice mail, and if I could just log into some very dodgy website… It did seem odd that the scammers would be trying it on at five o’clock though.
I watched another episode of “Fresh Meat”, then peered into the Internet. I did chuckle when I saw a "suggested for you" item on Facebook - it was something from a movie-related Facebook site featuring an interview with Roger Moore. Mr Moore said he stopped doing James Bond films when he was about my age because he thought it was rather disgusting seeing someone nearly sixty attempting to do the dirty deed with girls young enough to be his grand-daughter. I'd thought exactly the same when watching this morning's episode of "Fresh Meat" in which one of our heroines was porking her university tutor; a chap old enough to know better.
There wasalso quite the argument kicking off on the Goodies Facebook page in which Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and the late Tim Brooke-Taylor were being accused of racism, sexism and pretty much every -ism imaginable. Amazingly the chap who’d taken offence at The Goodies responded to everyone defending them with the reply “eat shit, man”, and (amazingly) there were some people taking his side. If people don’t find the Goodies funny, then what *do* they find funny? Or is the entire concept of humour offensive to the woke mindset?
I checked my emails. One hundred and twenty-five “found it” logs and twelve favourite points on geocaches I’ve hidden. That was something of a result.
I set off to work. I had been scheduled for the late shift today, but late last night I’d had a message. Could I do the early shift instead? Yes please!!
I drove up the motorway through drizzle, managing to avoid being driven off of the road by a succession of very poorly driven lorries. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the western armed forces are pulling out of Afghanistan and so the Taliban are seemingly making a come-back. When I was a lad I had visions of a future with moon bases and high-tech and freedom and affluence for all, and here we are with great swathes of the world reverting to the dark ages.
There was also a lot of talk about how the Queen has awarded the George Cross to the entire NHS supposedly as a thank you for doing their (our) job over the last year or so.
As an ardent Royalist I must admit to being very disappointed with Her Majesty for being a party to a shameless ploy to help a cheapskate government avoid giving the NHS a decent pay rise. And having given the matter quite a bit of thought today, I can’t help but see this as something of an insult to the brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians who earned the George Cross "properly" and I don’t want anything to do with it.
Work was work - I had something of an "iron deficient" day (as one does). Did you know you can get a good idea of someone's iron levels from the size of their red blood cells? No? - Reading this drivel is an education, isn't it!!
But an early start made for an early finish. Dozing in front of an episode of “Space 1999”, a good bit of scoff, watching Adrian Edmonson tourist-ing in Yorkshire..
I get paid more on a late shift, but I’d rather do an early one.
6 July 2021 (Tuesday) - This N That
As I peered into the Internet last night it seemed that the Queen’s awarding of a George Cross to the NHS hadn’t been received as well as it might have been, and this morning the discontent was still raging. One or two people thought it was a good idea, but generally the feeling was that it was somewhere between a joke and an insult. But yet again many people made the mistake of thinking that the tern “NHS staff” was synonymous with “nurses”.
And I rolled my eyes when I read a post on a certain author’s Facebook page that I follow. Someone had asked for recommendations of other authors in the same genre. You might think that this would be a reasonable request until you consider that this is the only thing that is ever posted on this Facebook page. Didn’t the chap see the dozens of identical requests as he wrote his?
I set out birthday wishes and got ready for work.
I set off to work through a wet and dismal morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were spouting their usual brand of drivel.
There was talk this morning of changing the laws by which refugees can claim asylum in the UK. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for helping people who are fleeing in fear for their lives. But can anyone seriously make that claim when the danger zone they are fleeing is thousands of miles behind them, and they've just travelled through half a dozen safe countries? Look at the armada of small boats crossing the English Channel - are they *really* scared for their lives and fleeing from France?
And there was also talk about how there are moves to change how compensation claims are handled by the NHS after mistakes have been made.
Mistakes do happen. No one can deny that. But at the moment (so it was claimed) the NHS cannot settle a claim for compensation until a court has made a ruling in a claim of gross negligence. There is a world of difference between an honest mistake and gross negligence, and so such claims are taking up to five years to settle and aren't cheap. It was claimed this morning that the amount of money paid out in claims in maternity cases is more than ten times that needed to make up (what is seen by many to be) the shortfall in staffing in that area.
As I've said before this whole "compensation culture" does very little to aid recruitment in the NHS.
I got to work and did my bit whilst the weather outside went from glorious sunshine to torrential rain and back again (several times), and came home to where it seemed to have been dry all day.
We took the dogs out to Great Chart where we met Cheryl and Rolo, and had a good walk up to the river and beyond. I had been in two minds about going out – I was glad that I did.
er indoors TM” boiled up a good bit of dinner then went Zoom-ing at her mates. I used the time to watch drivel on the telly whilst ironing shirts. It never fails to amaze me how long it takes to iron one shirt – let alone eight (and a pair of trousers and two bandannas too). And seeing how my shirts were past their best I had this idea to get some new ones, and to make a saving by getting them from Amazon.
I typed “mens long sleeved shirt with breast pocket” into the search bar and was immediately presented with a selection of forty thousand (so it claimed) shirts. However most were short sleeved and few had breast pockets. Quite a few of them were being modelled by young ladies who had the things unbuttoned down to their belly buttons. Perhaps the young ladies’ breasts made up for the lack of breast pockets?
And the pricing… some of the shirts cost a penny, but the postage was thirty quid. Others quoted the price of the small size, but the XXL price was over double that advertised.
And what’s with the “slim fit”? Do I look “slim fit”? Does no-one cater for the more rotund gentleman these days?
I thought about going to Matalan tomorrow… but their days of the cheapo shirt for a fiver are long gone. I’ve ordered one shirt (to see what it looks like) – it should be here on Thursday… here’s hoping.
7 July 2021 (Wednesday) - Before The Night Shift
I slept well, which was something to be appreciated. Rather than having the usual morning routine we leapt into action and took the dogs to the woods for a little wander. And it was a good wander; if a little dangerous. The ground at Orlestone is currently rock-hard but with a millimetre-thick covering of slimy mud which makes your every step not unlike skating on wet ice. I never actually went arse-over-tit this morning, but it came close several times. But the dogs liked it, even if they did come home covered in mud.
As er indoors TM” scrubbed the mud from Treacle and Pogo so I went into the garden to attack the lawn. I came back in after two minutes though. The fine drizzle had become proper rain.
I made toast, and as yet another negative COVID test incubated I scoffed brekkie and peered into the Internet rather later than usual. I sent out birthday wishes to two friends, and saw something of a squabble kicking off on one of the work-based Facebook groups I follow. It never fails to amaze me how medical opinion varies between countries who provide state healthcare for the public and countries that don’t (i.e. America). I blogged about that particular issue somewhere else, then checked emails.
Apparently my credit score has gone down four points this week. I wonder why?
I was asked to cast my votes for the building society’s AGM – as if I have any understanding of what they are talking about, or any knowledge of the candidates standing for election.
And I was very surprised to see that the nice people at geocaching HQ have given me another set of Adventure Lab Caches to do with as I will.
Adventure Lab Caches are… well… they have the potential to be excellent. In theory the idea is that I create a guided walk that takes you somewhere that you wouldn’t usually go. Once there you have a little wander to answer some questions that have been set for you, and you get five more smiley faces on your geo-score when you get the answers right. However in reality, for every person who goes out and does it properly there are a dozen who use VPN software and geocaching cheat sites on Facebook to blag the things from the comfort of their own living rooms a thousand miles away. I was awarded a set of these Adventure Lab Caches in September 2019, put quite a bit of effort into setting it up, and of the first ten people to do it, seven had clearly cheated.
I expect I shall set the thing up at some point, but what do I do with it? Do I set it up to try to thwart the cheats? Or should I just say “stuff it” and let the cheats do what they will, knowing that there are those who will do it properly and enjoy it. I have a couple of ideas for locations, but none of them are quite what I’d like them to be. But it does seem odd that some people (like me) have now been given two of these whilst others (like er indoors TM”) haven’t had any.
As I checked emails and wrote about the vagaries of the Kell blood group system and pondered maps so not-so-nice-next-door clanged away at her piano. Until recently she regularly started playing at quarter past five in the afternoon, but just recently she has started doing so at eleven o’clock in the morning. Perhaps I’m being unfair when I describe it as “clanged away”. I suppose a professional musician really needs to practice, but is she *really* a professional musician? She must enjoy doing it as she’s been at it for twenty years, but she’s nowhere near as good as you’d think someone who has been at it for twenty years would be. Perhaps she is doing a “Les Dawson” to wind us up? Though it rather suits me having her clanging away to her heart’s content. With a couple of hours of that every day she can’t say a word about the dogs’ barking.
Seeing how the rain hadn’t amounted to much I went out into the garden and mowed the lawn. It wasn’t that wet, and at the rate it is growing it needed cutting sooner rather than later. And with lawn mowed I had a shower and went to bed for the afternoon. Both dogs came up at various times to see what I was doing, and I had a phone call from 07481 443640 which the internet tells me is a number well known for scamming phone calls.
I’m hoping er indoors TM” will boil up some dinner soon, then I am off to the night shift. I was originally supposed to be working last night but I was asked to swap at the weekend. There is some major international football match this evening apparently. Looking on the internet I see it starts at eight o’clock. That should make for a quiet Sainsburys when I go shopping before work…
8 July 2021 (Thursday) - Bit Tired
The England football team won their match last night. As I drove home after the night shift the pundits on the radio could talk about nothing else. They interviewed all sorts of people from all walks of life, all of whom claimed that “it’s coming home”. The talk of football even took over an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer who made the claim that having the national football team win is good for the nation’s economy because (apparently it is a documented fact!) people spend more money after the England team have a big win.
How does that work? How does spending money (and presumably leaving you with less money) improve the nation’s economy? Money moves from one person to another, there is no net gain or loss? Clearly I’m missing something here; maybe I might log in to Coursera and see if they have any “Economics for Dummies” courses.
As I got close to home I saw er indoors TM” and the dogs going for their morning constitutional. They didn’t see me. But having them out made for a quiet house. I got a quick shave and shower done and was in bed before they got home. Usually after a night shift I lay in bed whilst the dogs stomp about me trying to get comfortable.
But despite having been up all night I only managed two and a half hours’ sleep during which the shirt I had ordered on Tuesday had arrived.
Over a late brekkie I peered into the Internet to see what had happened since I’d last had a nosey in there. There was a post on Facebook from the pub run by the woman who owns the house next door (the side that doesn’t hate us) who was saying that on Sunday her pub will only be open to people who’ve booked to watch the football in advance. Apparently the aftermath of last night’s match was something of a debacle with drunken thugs pissing in the streets. From the tone of her posting I got the impression that I was completely wrong in feeling that this was what going to watch football in the pub was all about. One lives and learns.
And I nearly choked on my toast when I saw a couple of Facebook posts from an old colleague. Having been educated to a post-graduate level, some years ago this person packed up hospital work to run sex parties in the Channel Islands before going to prison for selling unlicenced cancer treatments. The reason the cancer treatments were unlicenced was because they simply didn’t work. She hadn’t posted anything on Facebook for some years (the reason being that she had been in prison) but she was posting this morning – posting pandemic-denying twaddle. Why do people do this? An educated person who really does know better.
I got the ironing board out and spent the afternoon sorting the laundry whilst watching episodes of “Fresh Meat”. Doing the ironing after the night shift seems to have become something of a routine for me.
Hopefully “er indoors TM” will boil up some dinner soon. There’s talk of cracking open a bottle of plonk to drink with it today. Across the country the family will be raising a glass to “er indoors TM”’s Uncle Del who died twenty years ago today. I liked Uncle Del – he was a good ‘un.
And in closing today, our old friend science says there is a dinosaur-killer sized asteroid wizzing around in space that might (just possibly) crash onto Earth some time in the next hundred years (or so). That would be a nuisance, wouldn't it?
I'll probably be long-since pushing up the daisies by the time it comes close, but if “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and Lacey survive the environmental collapse I'd rather the planet wasn't wiped out by a rather large space-rock-thingy. But nil desperandum (as they used to say in ancient Rome), the Chinese are on the case. They are proposing to blat it out of the sky with a fleet of Long March 5 rockets, and they claim they can do this far cheaper than the Americans can, and do it fifteen years quicker too.
It might be best to draw a veil over these Long March 5's dubious success rate though. The Chinese have only ever launched six of the things, and one went belly-up in an incredibly spectacular way.
Mind you, all kudos to the Chinese for having a go at the asteroid. I wonder if they will blat it successfully? Here's hoping.
9 July 2021 (Friday) - Another Early Shift
I woke shortly after one o’clock feeling like death warmed up, and then spent the next four hours dozing fitfully plagued with nightmares about having been drafted into the army.
I got up half an hour before the alarm was due to go off, made toast and scoffed It whilst watching an episode of “Fresh Meat” then tuned in to the Internet. There were several posts on one of the work-based groups from American blood bankers who were talking about a rise in patients asking for blood from donors who have not received any of the COVID vaccines. I made the observation that people like this make me wish that together with the “like”, “love”, “care”, HaHa” “Angry” and “Sad” responses, Facebook had one that said “FFS”. What do these vaccine-deniers seriously think the vaccine is going to do other than offer a resistance to a disease?
I put on my new shirt and, taking care to let sleeping dogs lie, I got ready for work. As I walked out of the front door so not-so-nice next door had just come home. I wonder where she'd been to be coming home at half past six? Wherever it was, she seems to go there overnight quite a lot.
She was trying to park her car. "Trying" being the operative word. I wouldn't say that I doubt she's passed a driving test, and I know that parallel parking can be tricky, but every time she pulls up outside the house she reverses the car into the space so it is actually perpendicular to the kerb. The car really does poke out at a right angle, and she then spends about fifteen minutes to-ing and fro-ing trying to turn the car through ninety degrees to get it alongside the kerb in line with all the other cars. As she shuffled forward and backward so she glared daggers at me as I walked past.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about the Prime Minister's announcement that employers should be flexible with their staff on Monday, and if people get that pissed up on Sunday (when watching the football) that they are incapable of coming in to work afterwards, then employers should turn a blind eye. There is even talk of the Prime Minister giving the country an extra Bank Holiday this year if the England football team win the final on Sunday.
You can see why this twit is so popular with the masses, can't you?
Meanwhile the ongoing coronageddon has left councils up and down the country over three billion quid short.
I got to work and made a start on another early shift - the ninth in two weeks. I do like the early start. I did what I had to (taking great care not to volunteer for a bonus shift tomorrow) and, with my bit done, came home again.
When I got home my phone presented me with some memories on Facebook. One of the memories was the album I created which featured various piccies of the pond’s early days. I added one or two more piccies to it to bring it a bit more up to date. I shall add some more at some point – it needs piccies of the sundial, Fudge’s memorial (for want of a better word) and the camouflaging of the pond’s filter adding.
“er indoors TM” and I then took the dogs out to Great Chart where we had a good walk. For some reason the path up to the river was heaving with joggers this evening, but unlike the joggers who plague Viccie park, these ones were all polite and friendly. It was a shame that he dogs found the only mud for miles around, but the mud wasn’t anything a dunk in the river couldn’t sort out.
Being Friday we had fish and chips for dinner which we scoffed watching an episode of “Ade in Britain” in which Adrian Edmondson made cheese and a pork pie, served biscuits to bell ringers and visited a monastery. If anyone else was presenting the show it would be so tedious, but Ade really does bring it to life…
10 July 2021 (Saturday) - A Birthday Bash
I slept through till nine o’clock this morning. As I scoffed toast I peered into the Internet. There was a post on one of the local Facebook geocaching pages from some chap asking about the possibility of meeting up with people to go caching. This brought back memories. At the moment formal geo-meets are all on hold with the pandemic. When I used to work different hours I would advertise on that Facebook page saying I was going on a walk and tell people where and when we might meet up. A thread would then form in which people that I knew would be at work would say that they were working, but one or two of us would meet up each time.
There are one or two people who still do advertise meeting up for a walk on there but organizing these seems to have somewhat died a death lately. I suppose it does take something of a leap of faith to meet up with some stranger in the back of beyond and desperately hope they aren’t an axe-murderer. But I did it. Many times. I’m glad I did – I met so many good friends that way.
Facebook also presented with a video from Jake Ducey (?) who had made a video telling me of five warning signs from the universe. For the benefit of my loyal readers who’ve actually got better things to do than watch crackpot videos the warning signs that the universe might send you are:
Seeing the same thing over and over again
You have negative people coming at you
You’re going through some form of pain
You feel stressed and forget to breathe
You’re being rejected
Although the signs are quite obvious, Jake was a tad vague as to exactly what you might be being warned about. But he was quite clear as to what do you do if you really are getting these warnings from the universe. You should move into the creative plane, mimic the energy of the universe, and spend good money on quack hypnotherapy whilst (presumably) trying not to laugh out loud.
I asked Facebook why they ever thought I would be interested in this sort of twaddle. They didn’t answer.
With the rain hammering down, pootling in the garden wasn’t a practical proposition, so I looked at the geo-map and pondered a few geo-puzzles in the area of where we are going on holiday in a few weeks’ time. I solved some, failed on others, and didn’t even bother with quite a few. Why do some people delight in setting such ridiculously hard or tedious puzzles. A two-hundred piece jigsaw puzzle kept me quiet for over an hour but was just mind-numbingly dull. And reading the descriptions of some of the field puzzles told me the places we shall avoid. If you go to a church and (say) count the windows before going off on a little stroll, then that is simple enough. But going to the east door, counting all the rivets and then going to the west door and counting all the stones around the chancelry before then hunting out half a dozen random graves… I don’t think so.
There was a minor hiccup when I saw the nearest pub was five miles from the cottage we are staying in; especially when we’d been led to believe it was only a short (ish) walk away. After a little confusion it transpired that there are three farms all of the same name within five miles of each other where we are going. I expect that causes quite a bit of confusion. But, as long as we get the right one, “not my circus, not my monkeys!”
I then wasted half an hour trying to access my pension details. After a lot of farting about I eventually got through to something that hadn’t been updated for over two years so I have no sensible idea of how much pension I look to be getting, or when. I have this naïve idea to take semi-retirement in two and a half years’ time, but I need to see some figures before I can find out how practical that would be.
We then settled the dogs and drove round to the New Chimneys for a birthday party. It was good to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
We came home via “My Boy TM”’s house. Cheryl gave me left-over Chinese for supper. It has given me guts ache…
11 July 2021 (Sunday) - Appledore
I looked at the last portion of the left-over Chinese as I farted like a thing possessed, and decided that it might be a more prudent move to give that stuff a miss and stick with toast for brekkie.
I set another negative COVID test incubating and as Treacle tried to eat it I had a little look at the Internet.
This morning Facebook seemed to be flooded out with posts from teachers who were crowing about the start of their summer holidays. Do they *really* have two months of summer holiday?
There was also quite a bit of talk about Bradley Walsh. Having been a part of the team which put the final nail in the coffin of “Doctor Who”, he’s apparently caused uproar with his herbal product “Gaias Choice CBD Gummies” a herbal medicine for supposedly every ailment known to science, Does his “Gaias Choice CBD Gummies” stuff work? Like all of these herbal remedy bolloxes, the answer is yes and no. There *is* an active ingredient in the stuff which has health-giving properties, but the amount of this stuff varies from batch to batch. Does that matter? – Go to Hastings Old Town. Go to a pub in the High Street called the First In Last Out and have a pint of their Ginger Tom (home made ginger beer). Go back a fortnight later and have another. You will find they taste utterly different as no two batches get the same amount of ginger in them. This is what is wrong with all of these herbal (so-called) medicines. The amount of the active ingredient varies massively from one batch to another. That’s why when a doctor prescribes a proper medicine, a pharmacist makes sure you get the right amount. Not too much and not too little.
We got ourselves and the dogs organised, and set off to Appledore. A few months ago a new series of geocaches went live replacing the series which had been archived. Those ones first appeared on 23 October 2013 when I got First to Find on most of them. I can remember that being a very good walk, and together with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte we walked the route again. I say “walked the route again”; it has been extended from what I remember.
We almost fell at the first hurdle when the village car park was closed, but it wasn’t long before the cars were parked somewhere else and we were on the way. We walked through the rather pretty village of Appledore, along a footpath alongside the canal up to Kenardington church, and cross-country through the vineyards back to Appledore. Despite the recent heavy rain the walk wasn’t muddy, and the long grass wasn’t wet. The walk was mostly on flat ground; some of it must have been up hill as there was quite the down hill slope towards the end.
As we walked we met quite a few normal people out and about. One took great exception to a huge pile of rubbish that had been fly-tipped not far from where we’d stopped to have a picnic. Someone had obviously taken the contents of their shed and dumped it in a hedge near Kenardington church. I agreed with the chap – why on Earth do people bring lorry loads of rubbish into the countryside just to fling it into a hedge? But from the way he was ranting I formed the distinct impression that he felt we were responsible for the fly tipping.
It was shortly after this that I and both dogs got rather bogged down in some rather foul slurry. Yuk. But despite that, we had a good walk - I took quite a few photos. It was only a shame that I did for my knee when nearly going arse over tit when not looking where I was going at a kissing gate.
Geocache-wise it was a good series. I must admit that personally I would have put out some larger pots, but that’s very much a personal thing. The GPS co-ordinates were good, hints were helpful, and there were a range of hides. Some straightforward; some not. We found all but one of our targets; the one we didn’t find was a four-stage puzzle based in the churchyard, and we were going past just as the righteous were all getting ready to suck up to God. Having five of us (and two dogs) rooting round the churchyard would have looked a tad suspicious.
After nearly seven miles we got back to the cars where we said our goodbyes and came home. There was an intense scrubbing of foul-smelling slurry from dogs, gaiters and boots, then “er indoors TM” took Pogo off for a little holiday with his mummy. After all, Pogo is “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”’s dog.
On her return “er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner and then we watched the football cup final of whatever cup it was that has been going on for the last few weeks (it wasn’t my idea!).
Seriously - what is the attraction of football? It really did seem incredibly repetitive with the players just hoofing the ball from one to another. Occasionally one or another would make great show of being hurt, then would leap up and carry on proving there had been nothing wrong with them.
After what must have been the most tedious hour and a half of my life the match was a draw and an extra half hour was added to the duration of the thing. That achieved nothing, and it was all decided by a penalty shoot-out. Why couldn’t they have done that at the start and saved us all an excruciatingly dull two hours.
After weeks of being told “it’s coming home” it would seem it isn’t.
I’m told there’s a football world cup next year…
12 July 2021 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
We had a vague idea to go for a walk in the woods this morning but the torrential rain put us off of that idea. It was doubly a shame as a new geocache went live about half a mile from the woods just as we would have been arriving there and a cheeky FTF would have been good.
I made toast and peered into the Internet as I listened to the sound of the rain. Facebook was alive with people congratulating the England football team for very nearly winning last night, and there was also a lot of talk about a whole load of racial abuse that had appeared all over social media last night (and had quickly been removed) directed at the players who had missed penalties in the last five minutes. I’m not defending it at all, but it has always been my experience that racial hatred goes hand-in-hand with defeats for the England football team. Friends of mine of Portuguese extraction told me ten years ago that it wasn’t safe for them to walk the streets for two days after the defeat of the England football team as the thugs needed someone on whom to vent their frustrations.
There was also a lot of consternation being expressed at the Royal Voluntary Service who are running a scheme this month in which people are asked to donate three quid so that hospital workers can be given a cup of coffee. Three quid!!! You can buy a jar of the stuff and get a cuppa every day of the month for that. But people weren’t so much worked up at the price as at the recipients. Admittedly I have had free coffee and free cakes over the last year or so, but when I did it was quite clear that I was just getting the scraps. Most of these freebies go to the high-visibility parts of the hospital. It was being suggested that these schemes weren’t so much for the recipients, more to make those running the schemes look good. Harsh? Possibly.
Seeing a break in the rain I took Treacle for a walk. We walked round to the park where I let her off the lead and she walked closer to my side when off the lead than when on.
We haven’t been to the park for some time, but we hadn’t missed much. OrangeHead was there (now grey rather than orange) with an all-new posse. I don’t think they saw us. But we did have a run-in with another dog. Some stupid woman with a huge grey dog came up. Her dog towered over Treacle who hurried away. The dog (and woman) followed her and would not stop bothering her. I told the woman that Treacle was frightened. The woman laughed. I suggested that the woman might like to drag her dog away (as it was on a lead) but she laughed again. I was about to tell her to f… off when there was a yelp. Treacle had nipped her dog which was now pulling on the lead to get away. The woman looked horrified when I exclaimed “now will you leave us alone!”
We came home, and I did some CPD until there was a knock on the door. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that towards the end of last year I had no end of problems with the gas meter and despite daily interactions with the power company I got nowhere. Eventually they told me that many of the smart meters made at the same time as ours simply don’t work.
They offered to give me fifty quid to shut my rattle, and said if I didn’t like it I could whinge to the ombudsman. I did whinge to the ombudsman and they said that the power company should replace the meters with ones that work. And that’s what happened today. Two nice men arrived and replaced the leccie meter and the gas meter. It only took them two hours to do. Initially Treacle wasn’t at all happy about it, but she soon lost interest. It was as well that Pogo is off on a little holiday as the two of them would have wound each other up constantly. And I dread to think of the fuss that would have happened if they’d come when I first raised the issue nine months ago when four dogs would have been shouting.
I went to bed for the afternoon where I managed three hours sleep during which time we (apparently) used seventy-eight pence worth of power. Though whether or not that is a fair estimate of our usage remains to be seen – the nice man who fitted the meter did say that the thing can take a few days to settle down (how does that work?)
I’m hoping that “er indoors TM” will boil up some dinner, then I’m off to the night shift… through the rain. I had hoped to go on a minor Munzee mission on the way. Perhaps I might put that off?
13 July 2021 (Tuesday) - Goodbye to an Old Friend
As I drove home so my phone pinged with the worst news. A good friend
had passed away.
I first met Terry… Probably about twenty years ago. I don’t know exactly when but “er indoors TM” can remember the first time we met. We were camping at Brighton Kite Festival. Terry and Irene had set their camp just up the hill from us, and came to say hello.
It wasn’t long before we soon realized we had a mutual interest in drinking beer and camping. Both of us liked to camp, and both of us despised roughing it in a tent. It was his influence that soon transformed a few rough tents into a luxurious home from home.
It was through Terry that coffee at camp soon became filter coffee in cafetieres rather than instant (and they take some washing up!) And it wasn’t just the coffee. Terry would prepare so many treats for us from the raw ingredients. Bread for example – Terry would make and bake bread whilst at camp, Baking bread can be something like hard work – Terry did it in a tent.
And the drinks cabinet that he brought along to camp was impressive, to say the least. Ice, fruit, mixers…
The oldest photo I can find of us together was at Bat-Camp in 2005. Bat-Camp was a special thing in our lives – only open to a select few and by invitation only. Terry would clearly have been a firm friend long before 2005. Terry and Irene would both cook the meal on the first night at Bat-Camp, and they would always arrive with loads and loads of the most amazing curries.
Terry and Irene would often be back in the country for early February for trips to Dover Beer Festival when the snacks he brought along had to be seen to be believed. When people in other groups had a few bags of crisps, Terry would bring along a huge bag with pork pies and olives and cheeses which we ate off of plates with knives and forks. I can distinctly remember trying to find a stout that he might like at those festivals – just like me he liked a beer, but unlike me he didn’t like the black beers.
I knew he had been poorly – he told me of the start of his troubles when we were drinking to excess in the Maison Dieu in Dover in 2019, but what with the pandemic and lockdowns and stuff we rather lost touch over the last year… which in retrospect probably allowed him to keep his troubles quiet. That was probably how he would have wanted it.
I had the message that he was very ill just over two weeks ago, and I was able to pop up to see him. He was extremely positive as we chatted. I had hoped to see him last week, but the doctor was visiting. I had a vague idea to see him last night before the night shift, but I’d heard he’ taken a turn for the worse.
I shall miss Terry. We’re having a curry this evening as we remember him. With dahl – he introduced us to that stuff.
I’ve heard that quite a few people are doing the same…
14 July 2021 - Qrates, Dinner...
I was fast asleep when the shop over the road had a delivery at five o’clock. I suppose the lorry driver could have made more noise unloading if he’d tried, but he clearly didn’t feel the need as he was making quite enough racket already. That shop is rather odd in that for all that they have a *lot* of deliveries far too early in the morning, the shop itself opens several hours later than you’d think a shop in that location would do.
As I scoffed toast I watched another episode of “Fresh Meat” in which one of our heroes had started studying pharmacology having given up on both zoology and dentistry. In my time I’ve met a few people like this. The actual “going to university” is far more important than what you actually learn whilst there. It seems odd to me that you’d run up a five-figure debt on just any old subject at all. Mind you when I was in the sixth form I can remember hearing that over half of biology graduates went into banking, and no end of people apply for trainee positions at work with utterly unsuitable degrees, so perhaps this *is* what undergraduates do.
I sparked up my lap-top and peered into the Internet. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that geocaching HQ have given me the chance to stage a Community Celebration Event. I’ve been rather at a loss as to what sort of event to run, but yesterday I had a stroke of inspiration. I had an idea to run a workshop showing people how to write a Wherigo cartridge. I asked if there would be much interest on the local geocaching Facebook page. There was some interest, not loads, but enough to make putting on the thing a practical proposition. But my eyes rolled when I saw that a couple of the leading lights from the GAGB (Geocaching Association of Great Britain) had appeared from nowhere and wondered if I might like to write something for their magazine along these lines. I’ve ranted about the GAGB many times before. Claiming to represent all the Tupperware hunters of the UK, I’ve been nominated to their committee a few times, but no one (least of all other committee members) seem to be able to tell me what they actually do, and we only ever hear from them when they want something (usually votes in their committee elections).
I then capped the Tree House and in doing so opened a qrate and released a piggy cubimal (it’s a Munzee thing), set the dishwasher going and got ready for work.
I drove to work up the fast lane of the motorway together with all the other non-HGV traffic. I had little choice as the slow lane was filled with HGVs and the middle lane had a constant stream of HGVs dancing in and out of it trying to pass the ones in the slow lane.
I got to work and did far more than I'd hoped as we were a tad short-handed. A colleague had to suddenly nip home to deal with an unexpected flood (as if there is any other sort of flood). As I worked we all judged another colleague's friend who had sent her a message saying that she had just "done the dirty deed" on a third date. It is many years since I had a third date so I'm a tad out of touch here. - is brandishing the pork sword on a third date good or bad? The general feeling was that it was either something of a result or was particularly un-moral depending on your personal view on nudey prod games.
Rather than coming home this evening I drove to the abode of the first fruit of my loin where “er indoors TM” and Treacle were waiting for me. Cheryl had asked if we liked lamb shanks (oh yes!!) and we spent a rather good evening sitting in the garden having dinner. And pudding.
I might have scoffed too much…
15 July 2021 (Thursday) - Early Shift
When I was sorting out the undercrackers on Tuesday I found I was missing a sock. I wasn't overly worried as these things always turn up. The missing one turned up this morning laying on the kitchen floor. I suspect Treacle had been playing with it. She does that.
I set yet another negative COVID test going, made toast, and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of "Fresh Meat", then had a quick look at the Internet. There was an argument beginning to smoulder on the Facebook "Bottom" group in which some chap was quibbling about inconsistencies in the show regarding Spud Gun's name and family. Bearing in mind the show’s target audience is people who think that belting people round the head with a frying pan is funny, perhaps the best comment in the potential squabble was the friendly but sincere advice that the chap quibbling should get a life. However friendly but sincere advice offered on-line is rarely taken in that vein.
Taking care not to wake “er indoors TM” or Treacle I set off to work. Getting out of Ashford at the moment is something of a pain in the glass (to coin a phrase) as the main west-ward road is blocked completely in two places. But after a ten-minute diversion I was soon weaving around the HGVs on the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the government's plan to introduce a "sugar and salt" tax on foods in our shops.
It was billed as the "World's first proposed 'snack tax' on sugary and salty food" which confused me a tad. Wasn't one introduced a few years ago? I can distinctly remember there being talk about it and I ranted on the subject myself six years ago on 30 November 2015.
Pausing only briefly not to get run off the road by a van brandishing artwork about "Safe UK" (somewhat ironic) I was soon at work.
I did my bit; an early start made for an early finish (as I so often say). I took a little diversion to Penenden to cap five Qrewzees for the Clan War (it’s a Munzee thing) before coming home.
Once home I had a surprise – Pogo was back in residence. We’re having something of a dog-share with Pogo between “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and us. I was a bit dubious about the idea, but so far it seems to be working.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a particularly good bit of dinner which we washed down with a rather good bottle of claret (not bad for four quid!) as we watched “Ade in Britain” in which Adrian Edmondson visited Kent. He went to the Shepherd Neame brewery, and to the Whitstable oyster festival and to a cobnut farm…
I do like that show – bearing in mind it was made about eight years ago I can’t help but wonder how many other gems I’ve missed…
16 July 2021 (Friday) - Feeling Tired
I lay in bed listening to the dustmen crashing about outside for a while, then gave up trying to sleep and got up. Once I’d watched an episode of “Fresh Meat” I peered into the Internet to see what I’d missed. The nice people at the power company had sent me an email welcoming me to their company (I’ve been with them for years!) and saying that I now had smart meters which sent them readings every half-hour (I wondered what those blokes had been doing last Monday!). They gave me a link to their website on which I could review the meter readings, and that website said they still hadn’t received any readings and also said it probably wouldn’t for the first ten days of the meter’s life…
The email says they’ve been receiving readings, the website says not. This is *exactly* the sort of thing that made me contact the ombudsman in the first place… I shall give it a couple of weeks to see what happens.
Sky had sent me an email telling me about he VIP treats they had for me – exclusive access to all sorts of sporting events which didn’t interest me in the slightest.
And I had nearly a hundred “Found It” logs from people saying nice things about the geocaches I’d hidden – including one from the local geo-fed (which was something of a result).
I sent out birthday wishes to both of my god-daughter’s Facebook accounts (twenty-four! – where did the years go?) then peered into the depths of Facebook. Today’s quarrel was about the layout of the rooms at 165 Easton Place in the 1970s TV show “Upstairs Downstairs”. Some people really will argue about anything. Resisting the temptation to point out the factual inaccuracies in the postings from people on both sides of the argument I got ready for work.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about an interview with the leader of the Labour party Sir Kier Starmer in which he had been trying to appeal to ex-Labour voters. From what I heard of Sir Kier he would have done far better to have spoken in English sentences rather than using meaningless management-speak catchphrases. But that is true of most people that they wheel on to the radio these days. Though he did talk about "sweating blood to get voter's respect" - that might be impressive to watch.
There was also talk about the NHS Test and Trace app which has been pinging people living next door to people who've been vaguely near to others who've come in contact with cases of COVID. And this rather over-enthusiastic attitude has apparently got hundreds of thousands of people self-isolating this week which is costing businesses millions of pounds. It would seem that the app is being uninstalled at quite an impressive rate by people who have realised that it is actually a load of crap.
I got to work rather earlier than I might have done and read my Kindle for a while before getting on with that which I couldn't really avoid. As I worked I had an email. A few weeks ago I entered a Trust-wide draw in which some lucky winners (picked at random) would get a packet of Mr Ames Golden Breakfast tea.
I won. Result!
Mind you, I say "Result" - personally I can't stand tea, but I do like winning things. “er indoors TM” can drink the stuff, and if all else fails I can flog it on eBay..
Less of a result was the discomfort I found myself in for much of the day. Eventually I found I had two rather impressive dog-teeth-sized holes in my undercrackers. Bearing in mind that Treacle was playing with the undercrackers when I was sorting the laundry on Tuesday and that Pogo has been on a little holiday for much of the week, the list of suspects isn't long.
“er indoors TM” took Treacle and Pogo out for a walk this evening. I stayed at home and dozed in front of the telly. I wasn’t feeling that well this evening… and I’ve got yet another early start in the morning. I think I might have felt a tad better had the bin men kept their noise down before five o’clock this morning. I have formally complained to the council about them before, but the chap at the council told me that he had no intention of following up any complaints about the dustmen as his priority is to appease the contractor. Doesn’t that speak volumes…
And today marks three months since my Fudge-dog died. I miss him so much….I’ve blubbed at least once every day since he went…
17 July 2021 (Saturday) - Busy, Busy...
I woke still feeling less than one hundred per cent, made toast and slobbed in front of the telly watching an episode of "Fresh Meat" in which one of our heroes had the misfortune of having her mother come to visit. I particularly dislike TV shows in which parents are shown to be less than perfect. The implication is always that all parents are rubbish which disrespects those that aren't, and is particularly upsetting for those who could have done better. Like me.
I resisted the temptation to rummage in the Internet this morning; I had to be at Pembury rather early so I got going.
As I drove down the road there was some utter drivel on the radio so I turned it off and sang along to my rather "special" choice of music. Ultravox, ELO, Sparks, Ivor Biggun, Kate Bush, Boomtown Rats, Martha and the Muffins... I howled along with the best of them. As I drove I realised something. I've been doing driving all wrong for these last forty years. If you look at any road you will see a broken white line running down the middle. I always though that it divided the road into two sides so the traffic going in opposite directions doesn't crash head-on into each other. Judging by the traffic on the A28, A262 and A21 this morning it seems that is *not* what it is for. It would appear that when driving you are supposed to drive along that dotted white line, and if anyone comes in the other direction you then play a game of "chicken" with them in the hope that they will get out of your way. After thirty miles this became rather tiresome.
I got to work for my sixteenth weekend shift of this year. It was rather busy, and featured a "Red Alert". A "Red Alert" is a lot more stressful and a lot less exciting than when you see them on "Star Trek". If I had my time again I would work somewhere that doesn't have them on a regular basis.
Being the weekend I treated myself to dinner in the works canteen. Chili and rice, chocolate pudding with custard. Good stuff. As I worked I looked out of the window at the glorious day outside. I don't mind working at the weekends when the weather is grotty, but I'm less keen on it when the weather is good. A colleague told me her daughter was going swimming today. It looked like a good day for swimming. I was told that it was the ideal sort of day for swimming during a pandemic.
Have you been swimming recently? Apparently the swimming pool in Tunbridge Wells doesn't offer any changing facilities any more. In this brave new world of coronageddon you are expected to turn up already in your swimmies. The pool staff offer you a box into which you drop your robe and anything that doesn't go into the pool with you. And then once you've done your swimming you go home dripping wet.
I slipped out of work a few minutes early. As I’d driven to work earlier the car had sounded a tad noisy, and when I looked at my car in the car park the exhaust pipe looked to be hanging off. The local Kwik Fit was less than two miles from work and they said they could have a look at it for me.
I must admit I have reservations about Kwik Fit. The Ashford branch once replaced an exhaust pipe on a car of mine and managed to weld the main lead from the battery to that pipe and short circuit the entire car. However that episode happened long before “My Boy TM” was born and that branch was bulldozed in 1992. In the meantime I have had very good experiences with other branches of Kwik Fit. I really should give them the credit they deserve.
I got to Kwik Fit. They got the car up on the ramp, saw the problem, fixed it, and I was on my way in less than twenty minutes. There was also an added bonus. The problem I’d had was that one of the brackets holding the exhaust pipe in place had rusted through, and the other was about to throw in the sponge too. I said to replace both. As I sat waiting I heard one chap bellow across the workshop to his mate asking how much the brackets cost. His mate replied that they were forty-eight quid each not counting VAT. When I came to pay the bill was ninety-six quid. That was the cost of the two brackets, no VAT and no labour charge. Result!
I came home and (for want of anything else to do) mowed the lawn. The grass had grown impressively in the few short days since I last mowed it. And by the time I’d mowed it the temperature had fallen enough to take the dogs out.
With walk walked we watched more “Ade in Britain” whilst scoffing pizza and ironing shirts. We’ve now got the film “Star Trek III” on the telly. They only have a yellow alert in that film. Perhaps I might get on better with yellow alerts rather than red ones…
18 July 2021 (Sunday) - Far Too Hot
I slept for nine hours last night. That was something
of a result. I came downstairs, and as I made brekkie
I saw that the warning light on the smart meter was yellow. The thing has
three lights warning us of power usage. Green is good. Amber is getting a tad
keen. Red is “Turn stuff off. Now!” At the time I noticed the amber
light we had two fridges, a freezer, two digital clocks, the fish tank and
the pond filter going as well as the kettle and toaster making my brekkie.
When the kettle and toaster finished, so the smart meter went green. I wondered
if it was seriously telling me that we really shouldn’t be using any more
power than the bare minimum? I’ve already been into its settings once to
increase what it thinks is our power budget to what we actually
spend. But after a little while spent playing silly beggars it would seem that the smart meter has a serious aversion
to the electric kettle.
I peered into the internet as I scoffed toast (my lap-top not sending the smart meter back into amber). I was immediately presented with memories of a walk round Swanley this time last year. I smiled as I remembered, and sulked a little as we didn’t have a walk planned for today. With much of our party in ten-day isolation we’d cancelled, and it was as well that we had. Today was forecast to be the hottest day of the year, and black dogs don’t do well in bright sunshine.
I had an email from The Wine Caverns which I immediately deleted. The Wine Caverns seem to have an address in East Grinstead and are flogging massively overpriced wine. I suppose there must be a market for massively overpriced wine, but I know (from experience) that stuff in Sainsburys costing seven quid is far better than the pretentious stuff costing thirty quid.
With temperatures far too hot we sat in the garden (in what shade we could find). I took the opportunity to carry on reading my current e-book. Whitten by Liu Cixin (billed as China’s answer to Arthur C Clark) it explores the Fermi Paradox. For those of my loyal readers who’ve not heard of it, the Fermi Paradox is one of the biggest unanswered questions. Knowing what we do about our own planet and knowing what we do of others (from all sorts of space probes and telescopes) we can make a fair guess of how many alien species there are in our galaxy. Although there are a lot of variables to be considered, in theory there should be a *lot* of alien civilisations in our galaxy. *In theory.* In practice we’ve not seen any aliens.
One particularly worrying explanation is the “Dark Forest Hypothesis”. Put simply with life seeming to be constantly expanding (look at humanity) but with very limited resources (look at the state of our environment), someone else’s resources are a very valuable commodity. Leaving the aliens alone gives you nothing. Talking what they’ve got gives you loads… Invasion by aliens is a joke… right?
Or is it a risk best not taken? It makes sense not to let aliens know where you are.
In my e-book one of the leading characters sends a message of friendship to Alpha Centauri and ends up wishing she hadn’t.
As I read my e-book I had a bottle of wheat beer. Then a bottle of Hobgoblin Gold. Then a bottle of Golden Goose. Then I went into the living room and had a little lay down. After a couple of minutes Pogo joined me and we both dozed on the sofa for three hours.
The plan had been to walk the dogs in the evening when it was cooler, but it was still twenty-six degrees at six o’clock, and doth dogs were listless and hot and bothered.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the last episode of “Ade in Britain”. I wonder what we will watch next.
“er indoors TM” then tuned in to the Sunday zoom meet in which absolutely nothing at all happened.
Having been at work for large parts of the last six days and planning to be at work for the next five days, today was my only day off. It was pretty much wasted. I shall blame that on the excessive heat. It had been billed as the hottest day of the year…
19 July 2021 (Monday) - Freedom Day (?!)
Last night was hot. I woke at least once every hour because of the heat, and much more than that because of restless dogs. Eventually I gave up trying to sleep and came downstairs where I made toast and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of “Fresh Meat” whilst my sixtieth negative COVID test incubated.
I then sparked up the lap-top to register my negative test and to see if I’d missed anything overnight. I saw had a message from “Itz Lizy Bae” a young lady with a rather epic chest and a pair of pants which did a rather poor job of covering her bum. She suggested I might like to invest in “BIT Investment – a platform where you can make a fortune”. I did think that “Itz Lizy Bae” might like to invest in that. If she were to make a fortune she might be able to afford some clothes.
I sent out some birthday wishes then rolled my eyes as I read about “Freedom Day” Today has been billed as “Freedom Day” in which the government dropped most of the COVID restrictions despite infection rates demonstrably going through the roof.
The public are being asked to use common sense…
This is the same public many of whom phoned the emergency services where there was a tram crash on “Coronation Street”, and sent the BBC tens of thousands of pounds to pay for a wedding between two of the poorer characters in “Eastenders”. Some of the more genius of the public were on Facebook this morning posting that “Lions don’t wear masks”.
This “using common sense” is going to work, isn’t it!
The most obvious effect of this easing to me is the closure of the M20 motorway with the re-introduction of “Operation Brock” for no apparent reason. As I crawled up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about just how many people are self-isolating across the country. Despite all the COVID restrictions having been thrown out the window, the head honcho at the supermarket chain Iceland said that they were having to close stores as they had over a thousand of their employees isolating. And some chap from the RMT union claimed that a quarter of all rail staff in the North-East were isolating.
There was quite a bit of consternation being expressed on the matter seeing how the Prime Minister himself had been told to isolate himself at the weekend and had tried to weasel his way out of doing that which he currently demands of everyone else.
(And *still* the electorate see him as a better option than any of the alternatives. Speaks volumes about Sir Kier Starmer and whoever is in charge of the Dribbling Democraps, doesn't it?)
The weather forecast for today then came on, and predicted "Gin clear skies". I'd never heard that expression today. I looked it up on the Internet. Its meaning was utterly unlike what happened.
We had a good day at work. Not only did two different people bring in cake, we had an impromptu half-hour display of gymnastics just outside our window from some chap wearing a pair of orange pants. I was quite impressed, both at the gymnastic prowess, and at the pants. I probably spent far too long watching him and yrying to take photos.
He started off doing rather impressive back flips and cartwheels. But he did start to go down in my estimation though when he tried and failed to do the W.O.R.M. a la “Scotty Too Hotty”. I could tell he was running out of ideas when he was crawling round pretending to be a tiger, and it was shortly after he had a fight with a tree that a nice lady came out and led him away.
After that the rest of the day was something of an anticlimax…
20 July 2021 (Tuesday) - Stuff
It was marginally cooler last night than it had been the night before. But only marginally. Having a hot dog snuggling up for much of the night didn’t help.
I made toast and watched an episode of “Fresh Meat” in which our heroes were supposedly “doing the dirty deed” but were obviously not as they still had their pants on. However during this bout of unmorality one porked the other with such vigour, enthusiasm and ferocity that she snapped her associate’s banjo string (apparently it’s a thing). I can’t help but think that if they’d removed their undercrackers then they might have had a less traumatic session, but what do I know?
I had a little look at the internet where there were some squabbles kicking off. There was quite a good argument on one of the pond-related group on Facebook. Some people’s ponds were attracting mosquitos which were then biting them. There was a theory being banded about that people who eat copious quantities of marmite don’t get bitted by mozzies. Those who adhere to this idea wouldn’t hear a word against it. Those who eat copious quantities of marmite but still get bitten by mozzies said that it didn’t work. You would think that in light of evidence proving that it doesn’t work the theory would have been abandoned, wouldn’t you? But those who believed in it (despite not eating marmite themselves) clung to it religiously.
I popped to the co-op on my way to work to get a bag of crisps. I don't usually use the self-service checkouts, but I did this morning. As I struggled with the machine, the chap using the other one made the observation that he too doesn't like the things, but he prefers the self-service checkouts to the infection-spreading old and tatty gloves being worn by the woman on the till.
My sentiments entirely.
Rather than going up what passes for a motorway in these "Operation Brock" times I headed westwards to Pembury. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the Prime Minister's ex-adviser Dominic Cummings. Having been sacked after quite a bit of scandal, he's agreed to give an interview in which he looks to have dished a *lot* of dirt on the Prime Minister.
Making all sorts of nasty claims aren't going to hurt the Prime Minister, are they? The masses love Boris, and anything which paints him as a maverick and a bit of a lad can only help him. Can't it?
There was also talk of how yesterday saw the most illegal immigrants cross the English Channel in a single day. I can't work out why people are surprised about this. For years migration from the war zones in Africa and the Middle East were a European problem in which twenty-seven countries dealt with the issue. Nowadays the European Union isn't where the migrants want to be; it is somewhere that the migrants pass through, and the remaining twenty-six EU countries are happy to see them go. So much so that yesterday a French warship escorted a boatful of migrants to the British mainland.
Apparently the UK and French governments struck a deal last November to tackle illegal Channel crossings but details of that deal remain sketchy as the French authorities have so far resisted the idea of having dinghies sent back to their northern beaches.
Of course they have. Why are people acting surprised about this?
Pausing only briefly to hit a pigeon as it tried to fly under my car's front wheels, I got to work and told everyone of the chap I'd seen outside the window yesterday doing his odd exercises. The consensus of opinion was that the chap was actually doing a "Primal Movement Workout"; some new thing (originally from Australia) in which you have a keep-fit routine based on movements that you tend to do naturally in daily life anyway rather than just for the sake of doing exercise. Apparently sit-ups and press-ups aren't natural, but crawling round like a tiger and fighting a tree are.
One lives and learns…
21 July 2021 (Wednesday) - More Stuff
After a night wracked with nightmares of
trying to stop “er indoors TM” joyriding twocked cars round
the local car parks I woke feeling like death warmed up. I made brekkie and
watched another episode of "Fresh Meat" in which our heroes
were again "doing the dirty deed" with their pants still on.
One of them then stood for election for the position of president of the
student's union with the single policy of cheap chips for all. This was very
much a vote-winning policy and would probably sway much of the country's
electorate at the next General Election.
Leaving everyone else asleep I set off for work. I was rather amazed by the pundits on the radio this morning. Not for what they'd said, but for what they hadn't. Last night the long-awaited interview Dominic Cummings had been broadcast.
Having been one of the leading lights in the "Vote Leave" campaign during the Brexit referendum the chap now openly admitted that he felt Brexit had possibly been a mistake. He also spoke at great length about how he had been instrumental in Boris Johnson's rise to power, and also about how he and various others (as yet anonymous) had spoken about removing Boris Johnson from office as he wasn't up to the job. During an hour's interview this chap implied (many times) the existence of a shadowy cabal (of which he was a part) who exert puppet-master control of the country. Is this sour grapes from someone who was sacked, the fictional ramblings of a deranged mind, or something we should be rather worried about? Mind you Dominic Cummings did say (several times) that the electorate aren't able to understand that which they are voting for... he's got a point there. I've ranted about this many times in the past. Is having a shadowy cabal running the show (rather than a government appointed by a public wanting cheap chips) such a bad thing?
There was however a lot of talk about how the UK Government wants to overhaul the Northern Ireland Protocol. Right from the outset of the Brexit negotiations it was clear that the position of Northern Ireland was going to be problematical.
The head honcho of Marks and Spencer has already said that their Christmas lines in stores in Northern Ireland will be but a shadow of what they usually are.
Car dealers in Northern Ireland are finding it cheaper to source used cars from Japan rather than Mainland Britain.
Something's got to give. I suspect that which will be given will be Northern Ireland itself; being handed back to the Republic of Ireland before very much longer.
There was also talk about the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill introduced in Parliament a few weeks ago.
Everyone knows that dogs and cats are sentient. Just look at them. They clearly have feelings. You can tell when they are happy or sad. You could see from his expression just how much Fudge liked cheese, and he *definitely* used to sulk when he didn't get his own way or when I (incredibly rarely) told him off. But according to the legislation, all vertebrate animals will be recognised as sentient beings for the first time in UK law. This has quite a few implications... Obviously this will improve the lives of farm animals but many animals are farmed purely for their meat. Can we legally eat a sentient creature? Personally I can *if* is is bred for that reason, has not been mistreated and has been killed in a humane way. But if we can't scoff them any more, then cows and sheep and pigs will vanish from the fields. Only those who can afford a very expensive pet them will breed them.
And fishing for sport... that will be a thing of the past.
I stopped off at Tesco on the way to work. There were two Qrewzees in the car park this morning. There aren't any more (it's a Munzee thing). I then went shopping. I put on my face mask mainly because that is what everyone else was doing, and I didn't want to be on the receiving end of the tutting and glares that most of the masked shoppers were pointedly giving the one unmasked shopper.
I'd left home early to give me time for Qrewzees and Tesco. Together the two took me five minutes so I got to work half an hour earlier than I had planned to. And so whenever this happens I use the time productively and constructively. I went to the works canteen for a bit of second brekkie. Second brekkie was good.
Suitably replete I got on with work. The boss had spent good money on an Olympus DP23 camera which (once hooked up to a microscope) I rather monopolised for the day. After forty years I still like taking photos of things far too small to see without serious magnification.
It was a shame that the wonderful brekkie gave me a guts ache which lasted all day…
22 July 2021 (Thursday) - Currant Affairs
I had a stroke of genius this morning. When I got up I turned on the Sky-Q box *before* having a shave and making toast. That way it did all its re-setting and farting about whilst I was doing other stuff and was ready to go when I wanted to watch telly. Like most modern technology the Sky-Q box upgrades its software several times a week. This is all very well, but it does leave the thing utterly useless at the very time when want to use it.
I watched an episode of “Fresh Meat” in which our heroes again tried to do a nudey sauce romp whilst fully clothed, then I sparked up my lap-top. I say “then sparked up my lap-top” – the lap-top gets sparked up some ten minutes before the TV show ends to allow it to do all of its farting about so that it is ready to go when I want to use it.
I peered into Facebook where this morning’s row was about the pay offer that had been made to NHS staff. Many people are furious at the three per cent pay offer (which is seen as an insult) and were talking about the difficulty of organising cover for any strike action. I resisted the temptation to ask what a strike would achieve if the strikers have arranged cover for themselves, but thought better of doing so. Someone else pointed out on one of the NHS Staff Facebook pages that accepting a very poor pay increase might go against the Code of Conduct of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It struck me that *if* doing so did go against that Code of Conduct, then this would only be an issue for nurses and midwives. It wouldn’t have any bearing on pharmacists, physiotherapists, transfusion practitioners, cleaners, cooks, biomedical scientists, podiatrists, speech therapists, cardiographers, gardeners, dieticians, porters, secretaries, med lab assistants, biochemists, radiographers, O.D.A.s and the majority of the professions who work in hospitals… but I didn’t say anything. The average nurse gets rather offended when they are told that there are other staff in hospitals other than doctors and nurses.
Needing some petrol I drove round to Sainsburys and wished I hadn't. I'd forgotten that the staff in the Ashford branch have unilaterally decided to make the place self-service. If you want to buy anything then it is up to you to scan it through the till (that they are sitting in front of). And if there isn't space for you to put you shopping down and scan it, then that is your problem and not theirs. Usually I get petrol at Sainsburys in Maidstone where the staff are helpful, but when working at Pembury there is little option for fuel. The petrol at the Sainsburys nearest work there is usually (at least) eight pence per litre more expensive than the Ashford one. And no one else does Nectar points.
As I drove west-wards this morning I found myself staring at the van which I followed for over twenty miles. Whoever owned the van (presumably F.G.S. Pilcher) had spent a lot of money having his name painted on the van in huge letters. And in letters almost as big he'd had his web site painted. I found myself wondering why. Was this advertising his firm? If so, it was rather poor advertising. What does F.G.S. Pilcher do. Is he a plumber or a dog groomer? Does he specialise in waste removal or does he deliver stuff? Is he a painter or an electrician? It turns out he does groundwork (whatever that is), but you would never know that from the van. Just sticking a name and a website on a van and automatically expecting everyone to know what it's all about isn't good advertising.
There was also talk of the University of Exeter which had somehow accepted far too many students onto its undergraduate medical program starting in a couple of months’ time. Rather than admitting their mistake, the university is offering ten thousand pounds in cash to anyone who will defer their course for a year, and on top of that are offering a year's free accommodation next year.
And we all wonder where our tax money goes.
I got to work and made the most of the day, even though yesterday's guts ache continued to rumble. As I worked I saw that the boss was getting busy with the notice board, and had created a new section on it for "Current Notices". When she wasn't looking I shuffled stuff about on the board and created a section next to it for "Currant Notices" which now features a picture of Tesco's Organic Currants. The boss hasn't seen this yet, but she did wonder why everyone developed a fit of the giggles every time she walked past the board.
I shall deny everything; I usually do.
23 July 2021 (Friday) - Early Shift
I was woken in the small hours by a mass exodus from the bedroom. “er indoors TM” went to the loo, and Treacle and Pogo followed her. Both dogs hit the floor like sacks of spuds, stomped down the stairs as though they were trying to go through the stairs, and had a bit of a quarrel when they came back as both wanted to sleep where the other was.
I eventually gave up on sleep, did yet another negative COVID test and scoffed toast as I watched an episode of "Fresh Meat" in which one of our heroes realised what a waste of time and money a poorly considered university degree can be. Having spent three years studying geology the chap wanted to work in the media and was having something of a melt-down.
Speaking as someone with multiple post-graduate qualifications, I've always felt that a university degree can be an over-rated commodity. Getting a degree is expected these days, isn’t it?. But why? What does the degree achieve? Is it a means to an end, or an end in itself? I once read that fifty-two per cent of biology graduates end up in banking, and only two per cent of history graduates ever gain employment in anything where their degree is remotely useful.
As Evelyn Waugh wrote in Brideshead Revisited (seventy-six years ago) "a degree just means you start life three years behind the other fellow". Unless you are going into a profession which requires graduate and post-graduate knowledge (testing blood springs to mind for no apparent reason), having a degree for its own sake just means that you can fart in Latin… doesn't it? Does a degree get you on in life? I don’t know.
I got dressed as the dogs (and “er indoors TM”) snored, and set off to work. Being Friday the pavement was less of a place to walk and more of an obstacle course set by the local bin-men. Seeing their lorry strategically blocking the road I took the long way round to get to the A28.
As I drove there was talk on the radio about the consternation being expressed by many disgruntled hospital workers who aren't happy with a three per cent pay rise. I can't say I'm impressed with the offer, but what option do we have? Unless people are prepared to do a proper strike (and let the bodies pile up) then we have two choices. Take it or leave it. I can remember when I was a union rep many years ago being told by the full-time union officer that unless we were prepared to go on strike for months on end then we had no option but to take whatever pay rise we were offered, and to be grateful for it. The chap had a point.
Mind you, the masses all stood on their doorsteps banging their saucepans for me, didn't they? You can't put a price on that, can you?
There was also a lot of talk about the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo today. Much of the talk focussed on Kentarō Kobayashi who having organised the opening ceremony was then sacked yesterday for some comment he made twenty-three years ago. Admittedly the comment was in very (incredibly) bad taste, but it was twenty-three years ago. This is setting something of a dangerous precedent, isn't it? Are we all to be looking over our shoulders waiting to be bitten on the arse by long forgotten comments made in our immature youth?
As I parked my car I was glad to turn the radio off. I have no idea who was being interviewed, or what they were talking about but it was on BBC Radio 4. It was not some bunch of thugs in the pub. In the conversation on the radio something had been necessary and so apparently someone "would of hat" to do something or other.
In my world someone "would have had" to do something or other. No one ever (in the history of the universe) "would of hat" to do anything. A subtle distinction, but an important one.
Is being able to speak English no longer a requirement for the interviewees on Radio 4, or am I just becoming a snob?
I went in to work, and had a far busier day than I had intended to have. Not that I get much say in how the day goes. But there were doughnuts, and an early start made for an early finish. I drove home (singing along to my Ivor Biggun CDs), collected the dogs, and took them down to Orlestone for a little walk. We’d not been there for a while – the recent hot spell had dried out the mud and we had a good walk.
Really must get back in the habit of going down there…
We came home, and I then slobbed in front of the telly. I’ve worked all but one day of the last two weeks… I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow.
24 July 2021 (Saturday) - It Didn't Rain
With no need to be up at silly o’clock I had hoped for a decent night’s sleep, and (as always) God laughs when we make plans. Pogo decided to growl at the curtains tapping against the window frame in the small hours, and “er indoors TM” told him off. Several times. Someone’s car alarm went off for over an hour. When that finally stopped, new-next-door’s son turned up outside (at five o’clock) shouting that he’d lost his keys. “er indoors TM” and dogs had snoring fits, and there were three separate thunderstorms between seven and eight o’clock.
I eventually dozed off, and woke shortly before nine o’clock.
As I scoffed brekkie I saw a new geocache had appeared on the route we’d be taking when we went to see Dad. There was a puzzle to solve before you would know where to look. After ten minutes of brain strain I gave up. Not so much because I couldn’t solve the puzzle as because I had no idea what the puzzle was.
We drove down to see Dad.
We arrived to find a skip in his front garden. Over the last few weeks he’s taken down his greenhouse. For years he loved his greenhouse – now it has gone. We also arrived to find all the Christmas decoration boxes out. Over the years mum had accumulated loads of really pretty Christmas ornaments, and Dad wanted rid of most of them. We’ve taken some. He seems to be clearing out pretty much everything.
We had a cuppa and cake with Dad, and another cuppa and more cake, then popped round to see mother-in-law. She seemed well after her spell in hospital having fallen off of a ladder.
As we drove home I had a stroke of genius. I still had no idea how to solve that geo-puzzle but I had an inkling of where that new geocache might be. To cut a long story short it wasn’t where I thought it might be, but as I was leaning on a crash barrier and peering inside so I saw movement by my hand. I’d put my hand right next to a little lizard who obligingly stayed still long enough for me to take a photo.
We came home and I ran the lawn mower over the lawn until “er indoors TM”’s parcel arrived, then we drove out to the Warren where we met Cheryl and Rolo and we had a good (if relatively short) walk. It was a shame that Rolo (a yorkie-chihuahua cross) picked and won a fight with a Great Dane. I say “shame”; it was something of a result really. A result for Rolo in that not only did he win, but he didn’t get eaten alive either.
With walk walked we came home. “er indoors TM” wanted to go up to the co-op field for Munzee reasons. I didn’t. perhaps I should have done? She was not at all happy with Pogo when she came home; Pogo had found a foul ditch and I’m not sure whether the black slime or the foul smell took longest to scrub off of him.
With dinner scoffed “er indoors TM” set off to the Saturday film night and I stayed home and ironed shirts whilst watching more episodes of “Fresh Meat”.
It has been a rather busy day today. It wasn’t a bad day, but I’m not happy. The BBC’s weather forecast had been crystal clear on the subject all week long. Today was going to be endless rain. The rain actually stopped at eight o’clock this morning. Again we were wrong to have cancelled plans. That’s another day of my life that the BBC’s frankly abysmal attempts at weather forecasting have spoiled.
Someone at the BBC’s weather forecasting department needs to be sacked. No one else is allowed to be anywhere near as crap at the job that they do as weather forecasters demonstrably are...
25 July 2021 (Sunday) - More Ranting
I slept well. I had rather hoped to have been woken by thunderstorms in the night – not so much because I like thunderstorms as to restore my confidence in weather forecasts. But there wasn’t a drop of rain during the supposedly torrential night.
I made brekkie and looked at that geo-puzzle that had stumped me yesterday. I remained stumped. Some people put out geocaches to be found, and others put them out for the perverse satisfaction of *not* having them found. Take the one in question… the puzzle might very well be solved by using the following (so-called) logic:
The only information given in the puzzle is the first three stanzas to the song “Hi Ho Silver Lining”. Silver – that is an element… Element – elementary – “elementary my dear Watson” was what Sherlock Homes used to say. Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street… Baker… There’s the answer. You find where the cache by typing “bake crusty loaf” into the “What Three Words” app.
I sent the chap who set the puzzle a cry for help yesterday. He hasn’t replied
Pausing only briefly to send out some birthday wishes I had a look at the monthly accounts. They could have been a whole lot worse. I shouldn’t complain.
We then drove down to the pet shop for fish food, then went round to “My Boy TM”’s house. They’d all gone to Chessington World of Adventure, and we collected little Rolo who was coming for an adventure with us.
We drove up to Kings Wood. As we drove so the rain started. I was glad to see the rain because that meant we hadn’t cancelled our walk for no reason… and then the rain stopped – less than a minute after it started.
(I say rain – does half a dozen drops count?)
We got to King Wood, and had a bit of a wander round. We walked for two hours during which time there was glorious sunshine, cloud, overcast skies… and not a drop of rain. Treacle and Pogo were very well behaved, but little Rolo let the side down several times. Treacle and Pogo would come to the sound of the whistle and watch as other dogs walked past… but little Rolo saw other dogs as an opportunity for a fight. Mind you, he eventually got the idea of whistle training and two of the last three dogs we met passed by without incident.
With walk walked we came home and sat in the garden and had a spot of late lunch. Just as we sat down so there was a clap of thunder. Just one though. About half an hour later the rain started in earnest. It did come down hard, but didn’t really last long.
I set about some geo-puzzles that *were* intended to be solved in readiness for our upcoming holiday, and as I puzzled so Cheryl collected Rolo. They’d given up on Chessington because they’d got rained off – and got given free tickets to come back when it wasn’t raining. At least someone had rain today!
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a couple of episodes of “Richard Osman’s House of Games”… and in closing I will rant about the weather forecast.
I’m getting rather fed up with abandoning plans on the strength of utterly wrong weather forecasts. Look at ten of the hours from today’s BBC weather forecast. Six of them were wrong.
Compare that with your local GP who sees six patients an hour for eight hours each day. That’s (about) ten thousand patients a week. If she mis-diagnoses only one of these, she is crucified by the newspapers and faces investigation by the British Medical Council and being sacked. Why is a one in ten thousand failure rate unacceptable for a doctor, but a sixty per cent failure rate (quite frankly) what we expect from a meteorologist?
26 July 2021 (Monday) - Not Ranting about the Weather
I found myself sitting bolt upright in bed
shouting at “er indoors TM” (for no reason that I could
fathom) shortly after three o'clock this morning. I wonder what that was
I made toast and watched the last episode of "Fresh Meat". It wasn't the best show on the telly, but it certainly wasn't the worst, and it passed the time as I scoffed toast whilst everyone else snored.. Now that I've seen the lot, I wonder what I can find to watch instead. I'm toying with the idea of watching "Game of Thrones" all the way through... I wonder if it is on Netflix?
With telly watched I had a quick look at the Internet. There was quite the quarrel kicking off on one of the Lego Facebook pages I follow. Having made their own Lego models, some people sell the plans on-line. Others forward their plans to the Lego corporation to see if the nice people at the Lego corporation want to market a set based on the designs that have been sent in to them. If you sell your own designs on-line you can get up to twenty dollars per sale. (It sounds daft to me, but people really do pay that). If you send your design to the Lego corporation (who have already got their own design staff) you give up all rights to your design and probably won't get anything at all (unless the Lego corporation market a set based on your design which is *extremely* unlikely, and even then you probably wouldn't get anything like as much money as if you'd sold the plans on-line yourself).
Personally I would take the money and run, but there was quite the squabble going on. Those who'd sent their plans to the Lego Corporation (who hadn't wanted them in the first place) felt there was some merit in choosing the least lucrative option.
I drove off west-wards along the A28. There was a minor hiccup at Bethersden. I could tell something odd was happening when the traffic stopped whilst a double-decker bus did a three-point turn. A hundred yards after this the traffic then slalomed round four fire engines which were parked in random places across the road for no apparent reason. And then after another few hundred yards the traffic was mounting the pavement to get past signs telling the east-bound traffic that the road was closed. I would have thought that telling the west-bound traffic about the road closure *before* they'd all gone through the closed bit might have been a good idea, but what do I know?
As I drove the pundits on the radio amazed me. They were in Whitby interviewing a pub's landlady who was having to close her pub on some days as she couldn't get enough staff to run the place. Last week they had a live broadcast from Scarborough (not twenty miles from Whitby) and had been making a point of how people in seaside towns can't find work.
Which is it, Radio 4? No jobs or no staff? Or is it the old chestnut that the immigrant workers have all gone home and the hospitality industry doesn't pay anywhere near good enough money for local people to want to do the job?
There was also a lot of griping about the BBC's coverage of the Olympics. Apparently the BBC can only broadcast two live events at the same time because the Discovery Channel paid the Olympic money a ton of cash for the broadcasting rights. The BBC can only get whatever scraps it is thrown by the Discovery Channel, and if the BBC wants more coverage, it can pay for it.. and (from what was said on the radio) pay a *lot* of money for it. After all, the Discovery Channel has paid out loads for the broadcasting rights, and they aren't a charity.
There were those on the radio this morning whinging how this is incredibly unfair to public service broadcasters who don't have much money to throw around. There were also those on the radio saying that this is capitalism in action and the bleeding-heart-lefties should suck it up.
I find myself rather torn here. As a "bleeding-heart-leftie" I'm not keen on sucking anything up. But as someone who finds most sports incredibly tedious to watch I'm glad that not too much of my licence fee is being squandered on something in which I have absolutely no interest whatsoever.
Pausing only briefly to make a sizeable detour for geo-purposes I was soon at work where my geo-detour had given me wet feet which stayed annoyingly damp for much of the day. And as well as wet feet, another day-long annoyance was that I had the "Waddley-Archer" song stuck in my head.
I did my bit and came home. Once home I fiddled about on my lap-top for a few minutes whilst “er indoors TM” walked the hounds.
Over a rather good bit of dinner we watched more of “Richard Osman’s House of Games” during which I was rather embarrassed not to be able to remember the date of the Mutiny on the Bounty.
And in closing today I’ll mention that there is a rash going around. I won’t say who’s got it, but I will say that the rash app says that if you’ve got a hot tub in the garden, make sure the water stays pristine…
27 July 2021 (Tuesday) - Buns, Schools, Stuff
Finding myself at something of a loose end as to what to watch whilst I scoffed toast, I put on the first episode of "Chewing Gum" and stared at it as yet another negative COVID test incubated. As I logged that negative result I had a quick look at the Munzee map. I'd got up early this morning to go on a little Munzee mission to scan a certain type of bar-code needed for our current clan war, but overnight someone else had scanned all that needed scanning. So... with no need to have been up anywhere near as early as I had been I watched another episode of "Chewing Gum" in which our heroine (like all TV show heroines) "did the dirty deed" whilst keeping her pants on. At least she had the good grace to have a nose bleed whenever she did anything un-moral; she felt un-morality was rather stressful.
With time on my hands I stopped off in Goudhurst on my way to work. I had a plan that I might set up my geocaching Adventure Lab there. My idea was to create a guided tour of the village based on those blue circular plaques that you find on old houses where the famous once lived. Goudhurst is a pretty village; a walk round there would be just the thing... Or it would have been *if* there were any of those blue circular plaques that you find on the houses. I couldn't see any. I asked a passing local who told me that she'd never seen any of them in Goudhurst. The closest ones were in Cranbrook five miles away. So much for that plan...
As I was passing I popped in to the local bakery; the Belgian buns looked nice. The local thugs getting their sandwiches didn't, but you can't blame the shop for the sort of thug it attracts. And then as I walked back to my car so my idiot magnet turned itself on. A passing dog walker asked if I knew her dog. I said that I didn't. She told me that her dog certainly knew me - she could tell from the way the dog was looking at me. I fussed the dog, and the woman took this as a tacit admission that I *did* know her dog. I tried to explain that I fuss all dogs, but she wasn't having any of it. If I didn't know her dog, why was I talking to him?
Doesn't everyone talk to every dog they meet?
As I then drove on to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how Members of Parliament are calling for a register of all children who are undergoing home schooling rather than being educated at a proper school.
It was claimed that there is no formal record of which children are in state schools, which are in private schools, which are being educated at home, and which are running feral. Those wanting some documentation of what the children are doing said that some families in England face being forced into home schooling their children (partly) due to a lack of support for children with special educational needs and disabilities. That's probably true - Swadelands School in Lenham forced us to home-school “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” for the end of her last school year because they couldn't cope with her "challenging" behaviour, and that wasn't a success.
There was some odd woman from the Home Schooling Association being interviewed on the matter. She was dead against any register of home-schooling, was rather aggressive toward everything asked of her and sounded as though she was about to burst into tears at any moment. Failing to address any of the points put to her, she just demanded that home schooling was by far the best way to educate a child whilst offering no evidence to support this (at all).
Personally I have major reservations about home schooling. You need a variety of experts to educate a child. If I had to, I could (probably) teach maths and science, but that would be all. I'd need someone else to teach history and languages and geography and stuff like that. I don't doubt home schooling could be done well, but it would take some doing. But then, that's why we have schools, isn't it?
Of the children I know who were home schooled, one's education consisted of playing tennis and reading wikipedia, and another got to the age of seventeen and still couldn't read.
I got to work, made myself a cuppa and scoffed that Belgian bun I'd bought in Goudhurst. Over the years I've become something of an expert in Belgian buns and this one was perhaps the worst one I have ever had. It certainly wasn't baked today, and I would be very surprised if it had been baked yesterday. If you were to type the word "stale" into Google you might well see a picture of that very bun.
It was shortly after this that I had a minor panic. I'd lost my swipe card. It wasn't in my pocket where it should have been. Realising that I'd needed it to get into work I must have lost it somewhere after the laboratory door. So I re-traced my steps to no avail. It wasn't in the tea-break room. It wasn't in (or down) the toilet. I hadn't (somehow) dropped it in any of the bins. Having re-traced my steps three times I eventually found it laying on the floor at the exact spot where I realised I'd lost it. Woops!
At tea break my phone beeped at me. Not only had that geocache I'd hidden yesterday gone live, it had been found too. Yesterday I put out a geocache not far from Goudhurst church. To find it you need to solve a simple puzzle based on the Battle of Goudhurst. I'd deliberately not mentioned it on here yesterday as there are those who follow this diary in the hope of getting hints to new geocaches that I might hide, and then go out to find them before they are released for everyone to find.
Work was work, and with my bit done I came home and we watched the final of “Bake Off: The Professionals”. I do love all the “Bake Off” shows… I like watching others cook, but having been a paid cook for two years I’m not keen on cooking myself. Mind you, if things had turned out differently I could have been on “Bake Off: The Professionals”…
28 July 2021 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull
I woke in something of a cold sweat. I’d had a nightmare in which a group of clones of “Bake Off: The Professionals” judge Cherish Finden were running a protection racket at work, and a gang of colleagues were retaliating by breaking the clones’ necks with a vigorous twist. The boss was concerned… not so much at the wanton murder as at the fact that we didn’t have a formal documented process for breaking the necks of extortionists.
I didn’t get back to sleep after that.
I made brekkie and scoffed it as I watched another episode of “Chewing Gum” in which “dirty deeds” were being done with various degrees of enthusiasm. Perhaps I should choose more moral viewing?
Brekkie telly is lonely these days. Whilst (towards the end) Fudge wouldn’t get out of his basket (he used to just lay there). I miss him not being there.
With brekkie scoffed I set off to work. The roads were rather quiet this morning, and as I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about Team GB’s success at the Olympics. For all that I am pleased for the success of the various athletes I can’t pretend to any patriotic pride over it. I must admit I can’t understand the attitude of those that do. People who (only a week ago) had never heard of synchronised diving or taekwondo are now supposedly experts on the matter. I’m sure I must be missing something.
I stopped off at Tesco. I needed some granola bars for lunch, and I got some beers for the weekend whilst I was at it. Tesco also had some of the same garden pots that I got from them last year. I picked up a couple with a vague idea to do something with them… I have no idea what though.
Work was work… we had a new girl start today. “Hello” I said “How are you?” “I’m fine” she replied. “My God is with me.” I used to think like that once; a long time ago. Mind you for all that her God was with her, he/she/it didn’t seem to get in the way at all, which was probably for the best on what was a busy day.
With work done I came home. The drive from Pembury is not that much longer than the drive from Maidstone, but it is hard work. From Maidstone I have a straight run down the motorway. Getting to and from Pembury involves a lot of country lanes and it is tiring. I got home just as “er indoors TM” was taking the dogs out. Usually I look forward to the dog walk… this evening I just wanted the five minutes peace while they all went out.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good dinner. We scoffed it whilst watching “Richard Osman’s House of Games”. Have you ever seen it? If not I can thoroughly recommend it. But like all TV quiz shows over the last fifty years the first round should be “who are the celebrity contestants”. In this evening’s show I recognised half of them, which was a very high success rate.
Today was dull…
29 July 2021 (Thursday) - Cake, Picnic Table
In this morning's episode of "Chewing Gum" our heroine met a unicorn... which was certainly utterly unlike anything I might have expected, and took unmorality to a whole new height. I shall stick to fluffy pink ones with rainbows, and idly wonder why my male friends who are "on the other bus" seem to be obsessed with them. If any of my loyal readers don't know what "unicorns" are, you can find out on Google, but I wouldn't recommend it.
There were a couple of squabbles kicking off on Facebook this morning. The co-op are selling ice cubes made with British water. "British water" ?! How does that work - have the co-op never hear of the water cycle? Water goes all over the planet. I suspect that the co-op means that by using water sourced from Britain they are reducing transport costs. However in doing so they are encouraging the half-witted jingoistic element who had been ranting (on various Facebook pages) that British water was far superior to foreign water. I rolled my eyes, and on reading about the next squabble I wondered if I would be going to prison any time soon...
For some odd reason several people were (independently) insisting that it was illegal to own a sword. According to what I can glean from the government's own website it is perfectly legal to have a sword (or two) in the house. But it is illegal to brandish them in the street or to try to sell them privately. However there were those who didn't hold with formal government advice and insisted that owning a sword was illegal because their mate said so and he was told by a policeman.
I did the final bit of admin on this month's Munzee clan war (there's lots of swords in there!) and set off to work.
As well as loads of talk of the Olympics on the radio there was also talk about COVID vaccinations and how several big companies (Google and Facebook were mentioned) are insisting that their employees be vaccinated against COVID before being allowed on their premises. This seems to be perfectly reasonable to most people, but the crackpot lunatic fringe were kicking off. Civil liberties were being infringed. Apparently it is one's God-given right to spread infection far and wide(!)
Interestingly most of the people I know who advocate against the COVID vaccine do so because they claim the thing is an unknown quantity, but have no problems (at all) in sourcing recreational drugs from dubious characters lurking on unlit street corners.
There was also talk about the threatened demise of the BTec. As someone with both an Ordinary and a Higher BTec certificate I would be sorry to see them go. I spent four rather good years getting those, and met many good friends as I did. There was some chap singing the praises of the BTecs on the radio today, but whereas in the past there would have been an interview with a lecturer or a college principal, the chap talking today was the chief executive of a local college. Isn't that a sign of our times?
Pausing only briefly to avoid being run off the road by a lorry of "Better Fencing Ltd" I was soon at work. The early shift started rather frantically, but eventually calmed down. We had a substantially better day than yesterday for two reasons. Firstly I didn't have to step up to cover for the boss (who had been off sick), and secondly because there was cake. More cake than sense.
An early start made for an early finish. I came home, mowed the lawn, and watched “er indoors TM” put the new picnic table together. We only had one serious mistake during assembly, but that was put right in less than five minutes. I must admit the thing is rather smaller than I thought it might be, and some of the wood is quite seriously pissed, but the table is together.
I wonder how long it will be before I drive the scraps of it to the tip…
30 July 2021 (Friday) - Another Facebook Friend ?
By the time we'd put the picnic table together last night it was rather late so “er indoors TM” went up to the KCF to get our dinner. Much as I like that stuff, it is rather salty, and I was up a few times in the night for copious amounts of orange squash, and consequently copious amounts of tiddling.
I eventually tired of going up and down the stairs and made an early brekkie As I scoffed it I watched another episode of "Chewing Gum" in which our heroine was surprisingly non-un-moral for once.
Needing to make an early start I didn't bother with the Internet this morning. I headed off to work. Initially I went in completely the wrong direction; the car needed petrol. Sainsburys does the cheapest petrol and does Nectar points too.
As I went into the kiosk to pay for petrol I took my time getting a sandwich and a bag of crisps. The argumentative old biddies on the tills were being particularly nasty about the customer who had just walked out, and having completely slagged off pretty much everything about the chap one said to the other "but he was nothing; you should have seen the one who came in on Wednesday". It was at this point that they realised that I could hear every word and they went quiet, which was a shame. I would have liked to have heard about "the one who came in on Wednesday".
As I drove in the right direction for work the pundits on the radio were talking about how Team GB has won a gold medal in the women's BMX bike riding event (and a silver medal in the men's event). It would seem that BMX bike riding is now an Olympic event with multiple categories. The commentator was trying to make a big story out of the fact that the woman who won the gold medal had paid for all of her expenses for the Olympics by crowdfunding. She's raised over fifty thousand quid that way. Good for her. Since she didn't have fifty thousand quid of her own to pay for it, she raised the money she needed. That's what I did when I was part of a team that took scouts to Canada (twice).
Mind you, the implication was that the British Olympic team should be funded by the government (and ultimately by extension by us). Most other sporting events are paid for by the sponsorship, with the participants being paid a wage and paid expenses. Is it fair to expect the taxpayers to pay for the Olympic team? I'm certainly not keen in the idea.
But after a little looking about on-line it seems that he UK Government *did* fund the BMX teams, but cut funding to the women's team to pay for the men’s team.
That's an entirely different can of worms.
There was also talk of a growing "thing" in that some employers are offering unlimited annual leave to their staff The idea is that if you can show your boss that you've done all your work then you can have a day off. And you can have as many days off as you like *provided* you've done all your work. I quite like the sound of this... at the moment the hard workers and the skivers get equal amounts of leave. But under this sort of regime some (me!) would have a couple of days off every week, and some would never have a day off again. Ever.
I suppose the scheme is all very well all the time you are the one getting time off. The take home message is to take advantage of your mate's efforts whilst dumping all your crap on him.... *if* you can get away with it.
I got to work. As I walked in I did chuckle. There is a lot of landscaping being done at work. One of the contractors turned to another, and as I walked past he announced "they want a shrubbery!" Since when did the Knights Who Say Ni! control the hospital grounds?
I did my bit at work, and got away early (being on another early shift). I drove home singing along to Ivor Biggun’s second album “More Filth Dirt Cheap”.
Once home I walked Treacle and Pogo up to the park and back. They were as good as gold. We saw several other dogs; Treacle ignored them all, and Pogo looked at each one and then looked at me as though to say “look – I’m being good”.
“er indoors TM” boiled up fish and chips which we scoffed whist watching an episode of “Richard Osman’s House of Games” in which one of the celebrity contestants (I won’t say who) appeared to be drunk. I wonder if she was?
I did some ironing, wrote up some CPD, and then got a friend request on Facebook. Liane Francke He, she or it claims to have started a new group of adults for WhatsApp featuring many single girls who are willing to “do the dirty deed” for free. If I join this group I get the opportunity to “do the dirty deed” with “my type of girl”. I considered telling him, her or it that “my type of girl” is one that feeds me, and (quite frankly) all the time “my type of girl” is wasting time on “doing the dirty deed”, she’s not getting busy in the kitchen.
I’ve reported Liane Francks to the Facebook authorities – I wonder what they will do.
31 July 2021 (Saturday) - Family Get-Together
There was a minor bit of excitement this morning as my COVID test came out positive. After a moment’s panic I realised what I thought had been a second pink line was actually a bit of jam on the test card. I did chuckle as I registered yet another negative result.
I sparked up my lap-top and peered into the Internet. The amazingly wanton Liane Francke had disappeared from Facebook overnight (which was probably just as well). I sent out three birthday wishes, then had a look to see what people were arguing about today. I did roll my eyes at one post I saw. Someone with whom I used to work is constantly posting anti-vaccination propaganda despite having only recently been released from a French prison (having been banged up for over a year for selling unlicenced and unproven cancer treatments). This morning she was posting more of the stuff. I think she’s on a hiding to nothing; yesterday the pundits on the radio were saying how die-hard anti-vaxxers in the USA were taking the vaccines having been offered a hundred dollars with each jab.
I took Pogo and Treacle over to the co-op field for a bit of a run. Yesterday they were as good as gold; today we had a little grumbling at other dogs. And with dogs walked I got ready for the day. The event shelter went up, chairs and tables went out… tidying and organising… “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” arrived, and me and her sat and had a drinkie or two until the rest of the family arrived.
We had a good afternoon with all the tribe. Sitting in the garden, eating far too much… The threatened rain which was forecast for three o’clock was no more than a couple of drips, and the rain held off ubtil after six o’clock by which time things were incredibly vague. I took a few photos during the afternoon, if only to remind myself what happened.
Apparently I won thirty quid during the family Zoom bingo session later in the evening… that was a result.