1 June 2008 (Sunday) - Raining, Sulking, Indecisive

1 June 2008 (Sunday) - Raining, Sulking, Indecisivemagnify

Very tired this morning for no adequately explained reason. I didn’t even get out of my pit until gone 11am, which is unheard of for me. Following a bit of a sulk (because no one told me it was Tonbridge kite festival today) I had this plan to mow the lawn, but it was raining – we certainly picked the right day to go for our walk yesterday.

I then co-opted er indoors to drive me round several car shops to have a look at what’s available. Not a lot in the seven seater range. There’s the nice new-ish Espace I saw on Friday, but I must admit to going off the idea of a seven seater. I got an Espace six years ago with this plan to fill it full of passengers and/or luggage, but generally it never happened. I did big loads of luggage three times a year for kite festivals. And realistically, that was it. I rarely took loads of passengers anywhere. When there was a load of us going anywhere, I hardly ever did the driving. I don’t actually enjoy driving much, and usually I was on the sauce so someone else did the piloting. I’m now beginning to think in terms of the Renault Scenic / Scenic Grande which is a lot less expensive than an Espace of a similar age. We can always hire a van three times a year when we need to load up for camping trips. Or just take less clutter. Decisions, decisions.

In the meantime I’ve given up with my old keyboard. The old one had a very dodgy spacebar, and I would have to do all the typing (of whatever I was writing) and then afterwards put in the spaces between the words. Argos had this wonderful keyboard and mouse combo which had all the multi-media attachments and was USB compliant. The colour was just an added bonus!


02 June 2008 (Monday) - Backing Up

Another example of God laughing when we make plans. With hardly anyone on leave today I had this idea to take the afternoon off work, collect my bus from the garage and give it a good scrub up. Unfortunately when I went to the garage they hadn't started work on it, and said to come back later. Later was 5pm, so I might as well have stayed at work. I couldn't be bothered to clean the bus out. Instead I had a rummage round my hard drive (oo-eer!!) and made another You-Tube extravaganza. This one's rather tame in that it shouldn't upset any censors. Just a whole load of scenic photos from a whole load of scenic walks from the last year. And a prize for the first person to count the number of pubs there.


To view this multimedia content, please click here.

 Some of the die-hard readers may well remember the fun and games I had with Yahoo 360 a few months ago, so if anyone should take umbrage with this video I spent the afternoon transferring the entire blog (all 7Mb and 360+ entries) to a backup server. Well, that is I started to do so, and having done the first year decided to then start from the first of the month and work downwards for the more recent stuff. I'll go back and make it all consistent later. I've still to add various links to it, but it's something that will keep me out of mischief. If nothing else it will be easier to call up certain entries without having to back-page through 100+ pages. Have a look and see what you think so far......


03 June 2008 (Tuesday) - News: For The Public Good?

03 June 2008 (Tuesday) - News: For The Public Good?magnify

Whilst smurfing the net this morning I found the following so-called news about how Jennifer Lopez (who?) and her husband (whoever he is) arrange their child care. Who cares? Honestly, I ask you! Are people's lives that empty that they are concerned about what some actress does in her spare time?

There's very little in the news these days except for celebrity news and people making money for themselves. It seems there's few newsworthy human activities that are actually about anyone doing anything for the common good. Most of it is either scandal or just shows how well someone has feathered their own nest. Which can hardly be a good example for society.

Something that actually has a bearing on our racial future gets hardly anything like the press cover - the discovery of the extra-solar planet MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb some 3000 light years away shows that Earth sized planets are detectable with our technology, and as global warming does or doesn’t trash the planet, we'll need somewhere to go. Especially as now it seems possible. But no one cares. Perhaps if NASA asked some B-list celeb to flop her tits out on the International Space Station........

Meanwhile in a pursuit which is (arguably) for the common good of humanity I took the cubs out tonight. We were putting leaflets through people’s letterboxes to tell them about the fete this Sunday. Two of them had no idea how to actually put anything through a letterbox, and had to be shown. And another flatly refused to leaflet any house who had anyone obviously in residence as he might get told off. Yes – these children ARE stupid !

Oh yes – and “Daddies Little Angel TM” is nineteen today…



04 June 2008 (Wednesday) - Valeting My Car

04 June 2008 (Wednesday) - Valeting My Carmagnify

I’ve just received an email from Santiago Macias who says “I got dirty mind I want to suck ur cock xoxo;] “ That’s nice. Perhaps I should adjust the settings on my spam filter. Or perhaps I shouldn’t. Decisions, decision.

Some time ago Yahoo pictures handed over to Flickr who wouldn’t host the amount of photos I wanted to stick up for free. Ringo would, but now they are packing up too. I need to find a free web photo hosting provider.

Seeing as I’m off to the car showrooms tomorrow (where I’m hoping they’ll give me cash off a new car for my old bus), I thought I’d give the bus a bit of a scrub out this afternoon. Once I’d got the 30+ CDs and tapes out and the myriad teddy bears into a box, I could then start cleaning properly. I found receipts for things which have long since gone in the bin. I found car park tickets with money off vouchers that expired five years ago. I found loads of tent pegs. I found hats, coats, fleeces, bandannas, haemorrhoid ointments, pens, penknives and nappy rash cream. I found a melted squidgy “Boost” bar in the glove compartment that went out of date last year. I fed that to “Daddies Little Angel TM” as a reward for hoovering the car out. She seemed happy with it. She wasn’t overly keen to scoff the mouldy kit-kat remnants we found under the passenger seat, though. Mind you, I wasn’t overly keen on scoffing it either. That’s why I tried to feed it to her.

It has to be said that “Daddies Little Angel TM” did a good job on hoovering the car out. I just hope it was worth her while. A quick squzz on eBay has led me to the sad conclusion that my dear old bus is probably worth about two-thirds of four-fifths of stuff all. The number plate is probably worth several times what the car is worth. I’ll see what the garage offers me in trade in, and if it’s more than what I’ve been quoted for the number plate, I’ll take it. ‘er indoors says that the CD changer is worth keeping. It’s ten years old though, and the front is broken. I’ll haggle with prospective buyers. By the time I’ve mucked around forcing it into a new car I’d just as soon get a new one. Chances are any new car will be on MP3 technology. But I just know that once I’ve sold it at whatever price, someone will crawl out of the woodwork and offer me twice as much as I’ve just accepted…..



05 June 2008 (Thursday) - Stuff

Went to the Renault showrooms this morning and test-drived my new car to Charing and back. All I have to do now is pay for it. They have said they’ll take my old bus and effectively swap it for a roof rack and top box and fit them. Which, having done a bit of pricing up, is probably more generous than I was expecting.

Meanwhile transferring my blog’s archives to its new home proceeds apace. I intend to keep using Yahoo 360, but this will make looking up previous entries easier, and the lovely landlord over at energize-group doesn’t mind me linking off to You-Tube (as long as it’s in a different window so as not to use up bandwidth). I’m reliably informed that “Daddies Little Angel TM” has already claimed publishing rights and intents to make a fortune by selling the blog in book form. She’ll be disappointed….


06 June 2008 (Friday) - My Wages

06 June 2008 (Friday) - My Wagesmagnify

My sexy new car isn’t big enough to fit in the old camping tables. A minor dilemma. The old bus which is with me for only another week has £50+ worth of petrol in it. It makes sense to drive the old bus up to Decathlon to get some smaller tables that will fit into the new car. That could be a job for tomorrow morning. Trouble is, I’ve plans for 11am, so if the insomnia strikes, I shall set off to Essex at 7.30am.

I see I’m up for a pay rise. That should help pay for the new car. I’m told by the unions that we’re not getting enough of a rise, but in my line of work what do you do? Do we go on strike for more cash, and let the sickies die? Or do we go on strike and leave a skeleton staff to cover for emergencies, and then come back the next day and catch up on what we didn’t do when we were on strike? Like we did last time? I can see the management quaking in their boots over that one. Bearing in mind that when management told us that we would be working longer hours earlier and later in the day last year, the vast majority of staff just rolled over and took it, I for one am grateful for any pay rise at all.

But what gets me is that I not only do I need to justify my pay rise, but the fact that I need to justify my salary at all. It’s apparently painfully obvious that anyone who works in a hospital who isn’t a doctor or nurse is a waste of public money. And that’s the public’s personal money – which every Tom, Dick or Harry feels they have a right to comment about as they are “public”. They are quite happy to pay the highest fuel costs in the universe, or go into any high street and pay over £3 for a cup of coffee, but the fact that hospital workers are paid from government funds incenses them. Perhaps I should get a “proper job” and do voluntary work in the hospital? People are quite happy to pay for their vets bills, but begrudge paying for their own health.

And talking of NHS money - I see there’s controversy about how the NHS hasn’t spent all it’s budget. Last year we were overspent and there was hell to pay. This year the entire workforce has worked wonders and we’ve come in under budget, and still there’s complaints. Money not going where it’s needed. The wrong bits being underspent, more money needed for certain sectors. As a nation we need to decide what you’ll get on the national health (specs & dentures?) and what you won’t (vasectomies & sex changes?). People moan about the NHS, whilst in the USA I see one of the presidential candidates is advocating something not entirely unlike the NHS…….


07 June 2008 (Saturday) - Woodchurch Beer Festival

07 June 2008 (Saturday) - Woodchurch Beer Festivalmagnify

Woke up at 6am and thought that it was a little early to set off to Decathlon. Five minutes more kip took me to 9am, and that was too late. So I popped round to Argos to get a collapsible aluminium table and thought we’d give it a trial run today.

Off to Woodchurch beer festival. Bearing in mind the scrum that was the bus ride last year, this time we took nominated drivers. A much more pleasant journey. A few years ago we would sit on a blanket and either get sunburned or shelter from the rain under a hedge. Now we take along a gazebo, table and chairs and a feast. Starting off with good old oyster stout and Goacher’s mild, I moved onto black pig mild and something with purple in the name. I then found they’d got Level Best, and that was me done for the afternoon. They had a band in the background, and as I don’t remember them as being in any way utterly dreadful, they must have been better than previous bands at this session. Six of us were there promptly, and two more followed after a couple of hours. It was just as well they had a real lager…..


08 June 2008 (Sunday) - Shiny Metal Things

08 June 2008 (Sunday) - Shiny Metal Thingsmagnify

Following yesterday’s failure to go to Decathlon I arranged to go today. And I lay awake from about 5am because we’d arranged an early start. Five minutes before I should have got out of my pit, I dozed off. But the Bat, Brian and me were on the way by 9am (not bad for the day following a beer festival). A quick belt of McBrekkie is always a good plan. I’ve never seen McDonalds emptier. It’s usually busy on a Sunday morning, but not today. Johnny-no-stars was getting a serious ticking off from the McBoss for no adequately explained reason. Whilst we scoffed McMuffins and McPorridge (I do like McPorridge) I watched the McBoss. A lazy fellow. He didn’t actually do anything himself, other than walk round moaning at others. Usually poor Johnny-no-stars.

Brekky scoffed, it was off to Essex. Normally I wouldn’t drive. It’s no secret I’m usually the passenger. I’ll drive if people want me to, but I don’t actually like driving. But today was different. Any petrol that’s still in my Espace on Thursday (when I get my new car) goes with it. So we might as well use that as use someone else’s. To Decathlon - where for once I was disappointed. Their camping tables were lower, shoddier and more expensive than those in Argos. So we went to Argos and got two, and then after a quick mooch round the bookshop, home again.

Where I found “My Boy TM” boasting about his “hench beast”. He screws it on his car somewhere and it makes a noise. How appropriate! I suppose it will keep him out of mischief. I left him to it and mowed the lawn. It had gone somewhat mad over the last week or so. The pond looks murky. I shall have to do something about that, but I’m not quite sure what. I spent a couple of minutes checking the new tables work, and then (ably assisted by ‘er indoors) it was off for a quick mooch round the town. It was either than or slobbing round the house, and I get bored with that…



09 June 2008 (Monday) - Getting Ready......

Off to Smarden to pick up a load of camping gear. On the way the radio had an article about a brilliant wheeze being orchestrated by members of the European parliament. Apparently in order to offset the administrative expenses they might incur, the MEPs can claim something of the order of £200 a day to cover “office costs”. But they don’t have to show any receipts, bills or accounts. They can just take the cash and for all the taxpayers know, they could pee it up a wall. And this is all legal, and in keeping with the rules. Apparently because of the recent scandals about the British MPs’ expenses, the British MEPs are asking for more accountability. Apparently the other MEPs aren’t too keen. And who could blame them? If I was getting £6K a month as a perk I wouldn’t do anything to rock the boat. Would you?

And so to a barn in Smarden where I found a load of camping gear. I’ll have a proper sort out of this lot tomorrow when hopefully people can identify what is theirs and we can work out what we need and what we don’t. I know what I need – and I’ve arranged to collect twenty litres of it on Wednesday evening…..


10 June 2008 (Tuesday) - Going For A Walk

10 June 2008 (Tuesday) - Going For A Walkmagnify

Whilst some of the cubs were playing football, I took those that don’t like football for a walk. One of them had a metaphysical dilemma. He started off by checking with me that it was God who made all the animals. Alarm bells went off at this point for me – I’ve been here before. I remained rather non-committal. He pushed the issue, so I said that I supposed so, with the proviso that I wasn’t actually there at the time. So (went the discussion) if God made all the animals, he made all their “bits” as well. I again gave a very conditional “suppose so”. After a thoughtful silence, the train of thought went off on a strange tack. Was it true that when a bee stings it dies? I was on safer ground here. Yes. To the best of my knowledge that is true. And I was then told that the reason the bee dies is because when it stings, its’ bum falls off. Before I could put right this anatomical misunderstanding we were back onto religion. Why had God got bees’ bums wrong? Jellyfish and wasps can sting without their bums falling off, can’t they? So why had God made such a glaring error with bees?

This lad had clearly given the matter some considerable thought and seemed in rather a crisis of confidence in his beliefs. Of the beliefs that someone else had indoctrinated into him. I suggested that maybe God had run out of bum nails when he made bees. I ventured that the Almighty could have used one or two more bum nails when he made my chuff, and to illustrate my point I let rip the biggest trouser cough you ever did hear. For some reason this reassured the lad who seemed visibly happier.

At this point I was glad of the distraction of a young couple snogging in the bus shelter. We spent a happy two minutes pointing at them and shouting “they’re in luuuurrrrve !!!!” and making “YUK!” noises. We then took great care when walking along the path alongside the river. One side is for pedestrians. The other side is not, as you might think, for cyclists. It is apparently for mad axe murderers. I was glad to be back on safer ground. I’d rather not discuss the logic of creationism, but I’m quite happy with snogging and mad axe murderers….



11 June 2008 (Wednesday) - A Brewery (Booze-up to follow)

11 June 2008 (Wednesday) - A Brewery (Booze-up to follow)magnify

Bearing in mind the amount of beer I guzzle over a weekend’s holiday, it’s an economy to buy the stuff in bulk from a brewery. And bearing in mind that (in theory) I say goodbye to my bus tomorrow, I need to use up the petrol. This evening I killed two birds with one stone by driving down to a certain brewery I know in Hastings to collect a bulk order of beer. But when I got there I saw they’d got the ginger beer and the mild on. For some strange reason I’d taken some empty containers with me just in case (divine inspiration?). As well as the twenty litres of Crofters I’d ordered, I came home with a gallon each of Ginger Tom and Mike’s Mild. All at 70p a pint cheaper that Canterbury CAMRA’s pub of the year sells take-out beer. I wonder how long it will last?

I now start a long weekend off work. In theory I collect my new car tomorrow. And then take the seats out and spend the afternoon loading it up for the kite festival. I wonder if it will be ready…..


12 June 2008 (Thursday) - Hello John! (Gotta new motor)

12 June 2008 (Thursday) - Hello John! (Gotta new motor)magnify

Many years ago I went on a week’s residential course with the Open University. The bedroom was somewhere that I would crash for a few hours between lectures and booze ups, but it was with a great sense of sadness that I left that room for the last time. I can be soppy like that, so I was rather amazed at how painless saying goodbye to my old bus was this morning.

I suppose it’s true that modern cars are higher-tech than the Apollos that went to the moon. With automatic windscreen wipers and headlights (to say nothing of handbrake-free technology) my sexy new car is super sexy. The removable seats are really light, and it’s got loads of secret compartments. I say “secret compartments” – they aren’t that secret, but I’ll soon fill them with rubbish.

There are those that would be like a kid with a new toy. Whilst I’m happy with my new car, I must admit I’m more scared of it than pleased with it. Some people like driving. I do not. I drive because it’s easier than walking the distances involved, but with no stretch of the imagination could I be described as a “natural” driver. Having got used to the ways of the old bus, this new car will take some getting used to. Take the brakes for example. Just thinking about the footbrake is akin to dropping an anchor. The thing just stops dead - so much so that at the petrol station I apologized to the woman who’d been following me. She smiled when I said it was a new car – she said that with all the sudden stopping, she actually thought I was drunk.

And so home – the parcel shelf and three chairs have been removed. And it’s now full of luggage for the weekend’s jaunt to Teston. The sexy new car is surprisingly smaller in the back than the Espace was, so Brian and I spent some time carefully planning how we’d pack. And because we thought about what we were doing rather than just lobbing it all in, we’ve still got quite a bit of space in the back. Mind you, I suppose an element of the space creation must be the fact that we’ve been somewhat more judicious in what we’ve packed. Only one gazebo rather than three. Only enough chairs rather than all of them. Only the tents we need rather than all of them. Getting to the pod is a bit tricky – perhaps I might invest in a ladder.

And I finally found my hiking boots that have been missing for ages – they were underneath some kite bags. All of which were covered in dust. Must do something about that….


13 June 2008 (Friday) - Teston Kite Festival (for the eleventh time)

13 June 2008 (Friday) - Teston Kite Festival (for the eleventh time)magnify

Up early and off to Teston. Or that was the plan. We were recalled as er indoors couldn’t unload her car – the luggage was too heavy. And then back off to Teston again. One of the features of my sexy new car is that it tells you how many miles it can do before it needs petrol. When we left home it could manage 277 miles. Half way up Brookfield Road it thought it was good for 280 miles. I’m not entirely sure it doesn’t have a petrol generator inside – the further it goes the further it can go. By the time we got to Teston, rather than having used fuel, we were good for 378 more miles – we’d increased our range by 101 miles. I’m impressed.

We arrived at Teston to find our spot being guarded for us by the Sevenoaks contingent, who stayed long enough to help us assemble “Brown and Smelly” before nipping off to collect the families. Tents soon went up, banners went up, cars were unloaded and taken to the car parks… it sounds so easy. Thirty seconds to type and four hours to do. And then tea – chicken fajitas. Oh yes!! – very good. As long as someone else is able to do the cooking, I’m quite happy to wash up. I suppose I could cook if I had to, but it’s something for which we have volunteers, and I don’t mind doing the washing up. As we finished getting our bit of the campsite together, so everyone else started arriving. I must admit I like setting up camp early – it gives you the evening free to laze around, watch the kites and soak up the ambiance. And talking of soaking up ambience, following my trip to the brewery two days ago we had a box of beer which needed to settle. So whilst that settled, we finished off a gallon of ginger beer and a gallon of mild. And then we wandered around the camp site visiting old friends and swapping news and drinks. And then going back to find where we’d left our newest recruit – who had ploughed into the booze with a vengeance and was somewhat the worse for wear!

To bed at 1am…


14 June 2008 (Saturday) - No Wind

14 June 2008 (Saturday) - No Windmagnify

Since the sexy new car isn’t as big as the bus was, we’ve had to be somewhat judicious in what we brought along. For no adequately explained reason I packed my kites, but not the lines (!), so kite flying was out. Instead, after a smashing bit of brekky, whilst the “rear admiral” sailed the seven seas (!) some of us wandered off along the river to meet Matt who’d come out on the train to spend the day with us. The plan was then to watch the kites for the afternoon, but as there was so little wind, hardly any kites were able to get up. So instead of flying kites into trees, we watched people flying remote controlled planes and hang gliders into trees. Which gave us something to point and laugh at. After a ploughman’s lunch, we played a few games of Blokus.

Saturday evening at Teston is traditionally a barbecue, and this year we barbied for over twenty people and then, having found that the beer had settled, we had something to do until 1am. Or that is, I had something to do whilst everyone else was doing an impromptu candle party. Or doing moonies. Or both….


15 June 2008 (Sunday) - Old Friends

15 June 2008 (Sunday) - Old Friendsmagnify

Whilst waiting for our own brekky to arrive, we wandered over to find that Simon was offering free kippers to all who wanted a kipper for brekky. “Daddies Little Angel TM” was new to the entire concept of kippers, and wasn’t overly impressed. She preferred to stick to what she knows.

Apart from one kite going straight in to a tree (and staying there), the day was rather uneventful from a kite-flying perspective. Again – no wind. But we had a wonderful day – Terry and Irene were over from Jakarta and brought with them Indonesian beer, coffee, tea, cigars and keyrings, and we spent a wonderful afternoon catching up with them. Me especially – what with work and scouting commitments I missed their previous two visits. We really must take them up on their offer of going over to visit. Hopefully we’ll meet up again before they go back, but their itinerary is rather packed.

After they’d gone we carried on chatting with friends and family, but all too soon the afternoon was spent, and as some of us continued enjoying the afternoon sun, everyone else was packing away around us. Because it’s a school day tomorrow, most people have to take the littluns home. After an hour of saying goodbyes there were only a dozen of us left in the field. But half of that dozen was our group.

A pleasant hour was spent in the kiddies play park before retiring into “Brown and Smelly”. We didn’t stay up too late – we’d emptied the last of the beer by 5pm and for all that Brian was sitting around in shirtsleeves, I was shivering. I might have had a touch of sun or something, but the evening was really cold.


16 June 2008 (Monday) - Home Again

16 June 2008 (Monday) - Home Againmagnify

There’s something odd about Monday morning on the first Teston kite festival. Rather than waking up to a load of friends and family and grumbling about how the children were up playing football at 4am (again), you wake up to an empty field. With maybe a caravan or another tent somewhere off in the distance. After a quick brekky we had a concerted effort at packing the gear away and we were all packed and gone from the field by 11.30am. And then just as we were unpacking at home, the rain started. And it poured. And as I was putting the seats back into my sexy new car I bashed the brake light and took a chunk out of it. I’m told it’s not noticeable. I used to drive my old bus into walls and I didn’t care. But I’ve got a right cob-on over a rather insignificant ding on my new car. A ding that needs to be pointed out before anyone can notice it.

I was so glad we came to Teston this year. Having been watching the weather forecast like a hawk all last week I was seriously considering not going. And then I’d resigned myself to spending a weekend sheltering from the rain and going home with loads of wet tents. As it happened we had a couple of light showers and loads of sunshine. Simon’s mentioned the possibility of a few of us going to Dieppe Kite Festival in the second week in September. I’m rather tempted by the idea…..


17 June 2008 (Tuesday) - At The River

17 June 2008 (Tuesday) - At The Rivermagnify

In a couple of weeks there’s a district cubs football competition. Whilst some of the cubs played football and practiced for the contest, I took a contingent of those who don’t like football off for a walk. It struck me that a few years ago the river Stour was little more than a dumping ground for rubbish. Today there’s fish to be seen in a lot of places. So as part of the “Global Constipation” badge we set off to look for fish. We found quite a few. On the way I was told about the man who thought he saw a piranha but it wasn’t but it might have been and it didn’t eat him but if it was a piranha it might have. Scary stuff, eh? I suppose I should admit to my loyal readers that this was an edited resume of the tale of the man who thought he saw a piranha. The original took fifteen minutes in the telling, and to be honest it wasn’t quite as catchy. In fact it did tend to drag a bit. I was also told about salmon farms. Salmon are the same as chickens (apparently) in that they both lay eggs so you get them on farms. Have you ever seen salmon eggs in Tesco’s? No? Neither have I, which apparently proves the point.

We arrived back at the scout hut to find one of the older more sensible cubs in tears. An absolute bundle of snot and snivel. His problem? His team hadn’t won at football. A draw wasn’t good enough. They had to win. All the other leaders had tried to reason with him, but he was inconsolable. He admitted he’s usually a good sport and wins or loses all sorts of games with good grace. But not football. Football’s special. Special in that it clearly brings out the worst in people. If this is how it affects people, perhaps we won’t enter that competition after all…



18 June 2008 (Wednesday) - A Religious Rant

18 June 2008 (Wednesday) - A Religious Rantmagnify

I see some gay vicars have got married in a church service. I personally don’t have a problem with the concept of gay marriages in general, or with homosexuality. But I have a major problem with this specific marriage between these specific people. According the cornerstone of their beliefs, homosexuality is wrong. The bible is quite clear on this in Leviticus 18:22, & 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:26-27. It’s quite straightforward really. According to their beliefs, what they have done is wrong. Perhaps I’m something of a fundamentalist at heart, but this is one (of many) things which winds me up about religion. You’ve got a set of instructions from the Almighty. There’s no farting around with visions and oracles – you’ve actually got written instructions from On High. So how to run your religion is straightforward. God’s gone to the trouble of giving you a rule book. So why do so many of the righteous only follow the rules that suit themselves?

And while I’m ranting about religion….. there are a myriad of diseases that can be detected in early stages of pregnancy. Some are mere inconveniences, others cause death of the fetus, or result in a rather shortened lifetime of misery. But you can refuse these tests on religious grounds. Which means that you believe it’s OK to have a child that will have a very short life of pain. I don’t understand that at all. A God that is so all-loving demands the child be allowed to be born? And the research with makes such suffering avoidable is the work of the devil?

We’ve recently had a letter from the local church saying that they will be calling in the next few days to see what they can offer me. I think I’ll pretend not to hear the door….


19 June 2008 (Thursday) - Not Going To Alaska

19 June 2008 (Thursday) - Not Going To Alaskamagnify

I spent the morning (before going to work) revisiting the accounts for the Alaska trip. Some of the scout group are going to Alaska in a couple of months’ time. A three week trip. For a while today I had a pang of regret that I wasn’t going with them. I’ve done two “big” international trips before. To Vancouver Island in 2000, and a three-centre trip to America and Canada in 2004. Whilst (in all honesty) I wasn’t as impressed with Seattle, I really liked Canada. Is it too late to sign up and go with the group? Well, on reflection, yes it probably is. And that’s probably for the best. Last time I went, the resident “spanner” did my head in. And this time not only is he going again but there’s two others as well. I’m really not cut out for the “special needs” kids. A couple of hours really are all I can take of them. An unremitting three weeks is too much. Far too much. I must admit that I would resent spending £2000 to be little more than “Big Jimmy Spanner’s” babysitter. Also I’d be expected to do some of the driving. I really hated the driving last time. Not only are there the “spanners” having their fits of stupidity, and screaming for no adequately explored reasons, there’s no gear stick, the steering wheel is on the wrong side, the rear view mirror’s not where you expect and there’s a "parking brake" where the (non existent) clutch should be. And that’s just inside the car. Outside you have to contend with no roundabouts, but four way stop junctions where no one has any priority over anyone else. The traffic lights flash various colours to the amazement of everyone, including locals who've driven there for years. No one knows what the flashing traffic lights mean. The pedestrians have a legal right to lunge out in front of the cars whenever the mood takes them. And the carriageways are VERY narrow – narrower than the cars that drive along them. And then there’s the camping. They will be sleeping in tents. For all that I go tenting a lot; I actually hate camping with a passion. I do it because it’s very cheap accommodation. And I get homesick. Isn’t that stupid? When I look back at my trips in 2000 and 2004 I really enjoyed what we did, but I can remember counting the days until I’d be home again. No – I’m probably best off staying home.

So why do I feel I’m missing out……


20 June 2008 (Friday) - Running Up Bills

20 June 2008 (Friday) - Running Up Billsmagnify

It’s been a week since I got my sexy new car. I’ve dinged it, and a bird has dropped a turd on it. Such is life. I spent this morning going through the paperwork that came with the car. Gap insurance, service agreements, extended warranties, repayments, everyone wants money.

Add to that the gas and leccie bills which knock eighty quid a month. And water rates. I pay one bunch to deliver the water and another bunch to take it away. That’s thirty quid a month. And then the council want their bit. A ton a month and what do I get? Dustmen with attitude (!) By the time I’ve shelled out another monthly ton for life’s little luxuries such as the telly, phone bills, and the dentist, (to say nothing of the cost of the internet connection) there’s not much left to squander on beer and loose living.

Daddies Little Angel TM” helped by mowing the lawn last night. The lawnmower is now destroyed beyond redemption. How much does a new one cost? Add to that a front door which periodically refuses to open. One is left wondering what the going rate for spare body parts is on eBay.

However, help is at hand. Following a “discussion” about finances with “Daddies Little Angel TM” I’ve decided on my future fiscal policy. I’m not going to pay any of the bills any more. Instead when creditors ask me for money I will tell them to stop “chattin sh*t” and I will walk away. Seems like a winning strategy to me…..

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21 June 2008 (Saturday) - Gilwell

21 June 2008 (Saturday) - Gilwellmagnify

An early start – round to Jemmett Road and on to the coach for the annual pilgrimage to Gilwell – the international headquarters of the Scout Association. The driver had clearly wised up to us – the route out of Ashford didn’t pass a single pub we could shout at. There was a dubious few minutes when we were at traffic lights alongside another coach – the cubs wanted to play “bus pirates” and steal what they thought was a better vehicle. However I headed them off at the pass with a game of I-Spy. This went well for about ten minutes until William spied something beginning with O.G.T. It transpired this was “Ollie’s Gay Trousers”, and it earned William “a serious attack in the private area”.

The trip to Gilwell took nearly two hours, each second of which was rather painful. On arrival we told the cubs that they could split up into small groups and do their own things – the place is on private land owned by the Scout Association and there were thousands of other scouty-types about for a fun day, so they would be as safe there as anywhere. I had intended to mooch off with the other leaders for a swift cuppa, but three of the cubs (including Ollie of the gay trousers) wanted me to go with them. I was rather flattered by this – three more than I would have expected. So we set off together. Up the climbing wall, made some ropes and it was back to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. I asked some of our gobbier cubs what they had done. They all seemed quite unhappy. The first thing they’d done was to embark on an ice cream eating contest. Having scoffed four or five ices each they had no money left, and so had spent their time jealously watching everyone else enjoying the various rides and activities. I went mental at them. Why on earth don’t they listen? All the rides and stuff are free!!!! I shouted this at each one individually, and then asked each one individually how much the rides cost. They had the answer – they are all free.

So, with food scoffed it was back to the fray. Everyone into smaller groups – I still had my three and we did funfair rides for a couple of hours. And then I met the gobby contingent who all looked thoroughly miserable. What was the matter now? Well, I’d told them the rides were free. So they went straight back to the ice cream stall, found sweets weren’t free and assumed I’d either been lying or was mistaken. And had spent more time bored watching everyone else. I told them again that stuff was free, and left them to it. Out of six hours at the fun day, they probably enjoyed just over an hour of activities. Because they refuse to listen to what they are told. Well, to be honest, Good! It is their loss, not mine. And perhaps next time they will listen. But my group was having fun. Waltzers, bouncy castles, a few craft-type activities, faces painted, pockets full of free sweets (there were free sweets if you knew where to go and had listened!) and back to the coach.

And then – trouble. Some strange looking woman wearing the weirdest dress you ever did see marched up to me and stopped about six inches in front of my nose. She made a great show of looking me up and down and then asked if I was in any way connected with the scout association. Now you might think the uniform is a bit of a giveaway, but some people don’t always notice something that obvious from only six inches away. She then demanded to know the whereabouts, schedule, plans and location of the 1st Mundy Bois Beaver colony. I explained who and what I was, the fact I’d never heard of Mundy Bois, let alone knew the place had a scout group, and pointed her in the direction of a huge field where thousands of cubs and beavers were congregating. She wanted to know specifically where to find the 1st Mundy Bois Beaver colony. I told her I had no idea. She changed her tack. She wanted to know who was in charge. I pointed her in the direction of the Chief Scout’s office in the White House (there IS a White House at Gilwell where the bosses hang out!) and she stormed off muttering about the shambolic organisation and how unhelpful I’d been. Silly cow!

We found the rest of our group and soon set off for home, but ten minutes into the trip we found a problem. Ricky (who a few weeks ago had seen a UFO land in South Ashford) stood on his seat and loudly announced that the coach’s life support system had been sabotaged. He would attempt to effect repairs, but in the meantime it would help if people tried not to breathe much. After ten minutes he announced that the problem was serious, and that a fellow cub had contracted a computer virus. When said cub refused to show any symptoms of said virus, Ricky punched him in the ear for dramatic effect. Ricky continued delivering status reports every few minutes. We were lucky to get home when we did – he was about to save most of the cubs by cutting off life support to the back row. Guess where I was sitting.

I like the Gilwell fun days…..

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22 June 2008 (Sunday) - Stuff

22 June 2008 (Sunday) - Stuffmagnify

Didn’t get to bed till gone 1am last night – too wrapped up in a book I’ve borrowed. When I did get to kip I was very soon awoken. Work phoned at 2.30am. Did I remember what I’d shown her last Thursday? Would I talk her through it again? I don’t mind, really. I’d rather they phoned and we sorted the problem than leave it. But I was tired when the alarm went off. Just time to watch Doctor Who on the Sky Plus….. The Sky Plus hadn’t worked. Just as well you can watch recent episodes on the BBC’s website!

er indoors TM still wasn’t out of it’s pit, so I cleaned out the pond’s fish poo filter. The pond is getting incredibly murky. I’m told the ultra-violet lamp needs replacing every year. Our one’s been in use for eighteen months, which hopefully is the reason the water is so grubby. We’ll replace the bulb and see what happens.

Once er indoors TM was ready, it was off to Andy’s to help with the sort out for Heather’s arrival back home sometime this week. We started with bacon rolls, and once I’d helped Chippy put a fence panel in upside down and back to front, I helped Robert take it out and put it in properly. And then stuff went up into the attic, starting with Chip. Half a dozen of us spent the morning hard at it, but Andy’s still got quite a bit of tidying to do. I must admit to a sense of feeling rather useless. I’ve plenty of my own mess I don’t know what to do with. I felt rather awkward trying to sort out someone else’s.

A quick McDinner, and then to the fish pond shop for a new ultra-violet lamp. I really shouldn’t go there – I’ve seen several more ideas for water features. Whilst mooching around their display ponds we saw a hippopotamoo in the next field. A rather strange looking beast.

I got the new lamp – it rattles. There’s a loose ball bearing in it. I’m told it’s a feature and it’s supposed to be there. We shall see. We got it home, reassembled the fish poo filter and switched it on. I then thought I’d give the filter a hand by dredging the dead sparrow out of the pond. I’m helpful like that. The filter’s been running for a couple of hours now, and it don’t look any clearer yet. I’ll give it a couple of days and hope for the best.

By 3pm all was done, and I’d even found time to give myself a quick short back and slap. So, whilst everyone else did their thing, I sat in the back garden and read more of Bernie’s book. It’s good. What happens is……


23 June 2008 (Monday) - Joey

23 June 2008 (Monday) - Joeymagnify

Back in the happy days when brats did (mostly) what they were told, our two brats were quite matey with another couple of brats at mother & toddlers. I can remember nearly getting drowned by Christine and Joey several times in the swimming pool, but the last I heard was that these two were somewhere in America. I came home today to find one of them on the sofa. In the intervening fifteen years she’s grown quite a bit. In more ways than one. Two, to be precise. They do that. I told her so. It’s amazing what happens when you’re not paying attention.

Talking of what happens when you’re not paying attention… the namby-pamby airy-fairy limp wristed do –gooders are up in arms about the misuse of security cameras. Apparently (among other things) security cameras are being used to clamp down on littering and dogs crapping in the streets. This is a bad thing because…. Well, I don’t know why it’s a bad thing. It strikes me as a useful tool in crime fighting. I expect it impinges some scumbag’s human rights to allow his mutt (paid for by the taxpayer) to crap all over the pavement. What on earth is the point of these security cameras if we’re not going to use them against the villains?


24 June 2008 (Tuesday) - Pond Dipping

24 June 2008 (Tuesday) - Pond Dippingmagnify

We took the cubs up to the woods this evening. The plan was to do a bit of pond dipping, a bit of rubbish clearance, a bit of the “global constipation” badge, a few games and then home again. We all met up at 6pm, and it was 6.20pm before the “little sh*t” element shut up and listened. With half the pack obviously failing to take multiple notes home over the last few weeks about tonight's being in the woods (and presumably standing outside a locked scout hut) we only had twenty cubs along. But three of them were “little sh*ts” who are determined to do their own thing preferably at the expense of everyone else’s time. By the time they’d finally shut up and we’d explained what the plan was, we were already running half an hour behind schedule.

On arrival at the pond, the three “little sh*ts” immediately heaved in a huge log. So much for wasting my breath on them. But the rest of the cubs had a good pond dip. We took nets and buckets and caught minnows, gudgeon, cod, haddock, lager tins and a ribbed tickler. A quick five minutes of tree identification and a rubbish gather, and it was home time.

One of the “little sh*ts” mother wanted to speak to whichever leader had been doing tree identification with him. That was me. What was the problem? It transpired he’d rubbed up against a nettle, poison ivy, or some other obnoxious undergrowth and come out in a rash. Could I tell her what plant had caused the rash? I could not. I explained that from the start he’d flatly refused to listen to a word he was told and had done his own sweet thing. I explained I wasn’t at all surprised he’d got nettled – he’s been charging around like a wild animal. Mother was horrified. She had no idea what had gotten into him tonight. I put her mind at rest and assured here that nothing was wrong. This was his typical behaviour. I explained that I had expected nothing more of the boy - there are some children that make my being a cub leader an utter misery and waste of time. Her son is one of them. I reminded her that this “little sh*t’s” older brother was just the same. I told her not to worry, when all thirty-six cubs are present he’s only one of four or five obnoxious gits, and that there are thirty other decent children there who I actually like.

I don’t think anyone had ever explained this to her before.....

(What’s the scout association going to do? – sack me?)


25 June 2008 (Wednesday) - Arky Ologee

25 June 2008 (Wednesday) - Arky Ologeemagnify

The last Wednesday of the month – arky-ologee club. Tonight was a night out. We were set loose on some land alongside the motorway. Apparently if enough people go along this land, the owners become eligible for some grant or other. So we all signed up to say we’d been there.

There were a few mouldy old rocks which apparently were once a Victorian ice house, and the evening was spent digging at these rocks. That is, the evening was spent by some digging at the rocks. The evening was spent by others watching the lower orders digging at the rocks. Me – I had a dig, and saw a fox, some moo-bears and a lizard. It has to be said I found more artefacts in my back garden in five minutes than we found tonight.

And then (because I’d behaved myself) to the pub. We downed three pints in the company of the bottle collectors – a decent group of blokes who have promised us a trip to a really decent pub next time. Hope springs eternal.


26 June 2008 (Thursday) - Dull

26 June 2008 (Thursday) - Dullmagnify

A certain trainee found a spider in the lab today. It was quite a huge one, so he had this idea to catch it and scare his manager with it. As he bent over to pick up the unfortunate animal, his trousers split at the seams. I call it divine retribution!

A supposedly early start and finish for me, but having dealt with unforeseen catastrophes I wasn’t out any earlier than usual. As it’s Thursday I thought I’d mow the lawn. I’d forgotten that “Daddies Little Angel TM” had destroyed the lawn mower. There’s only so much you can do with a strimmer. I’ll look at getting a new mower tomorrow. I got some garden centre vouchers last Xmas (!) – shame they are for WyeVale.



27 June 2008 (Friday) - It Pays to Shop Around

27 June 2008 (Friday) - It Pays to Shop Aroundmagnify

Even though I had a late start at work today, I was up wit the lark (well, a lark that gets up early anyway) to chauffer the troops around. er indoors TM was off on the beer with her fit mate and needed a lift to work, and “Daddies Little Angel TM” needed a lift to the oldbiddydrome where she’s temping as a trainee biddy-keeper. Before going to work I thought I’d do some shopping.

To Matalan to get some shirts. £6 each. Quality ! To Tescos to get doughnuts for the troops. And to Argos for the new lawnmower. The same lawnmower on the WyeVale website was £20 cheaper in Argos. It’s a good lawnmower – its eco-friendly with a very low carbon footprint and zero emissions. My gran used to have one like it. Rather than plugging it in, you shove it round a bit. It’s still in the box. It needs some assembly. I’ll do that tomorrow. And then to the garden centre for an underwater pond light. You can get them on eBay for less than £20 (including postage). Or you can get the same thing in the shop for over £60.

And eventually to work. Todays burning issue – who would win in a fight? Scooby Doo or Huxley Pig? What do you mean you’ve never heard of Hux ? Type him into You-Tube – I daren’t.


28 June 2008 (Saturday) - I ache....

28 June 2008 (Saturday) - I ache....magnify

Something woke me at 4am. I went for a crafty wazz to find er indoors TM and “My Boy TM” staging a “who’s the most drunk” contest in the living room. Getting back to kip after that took some doing.

An early start to deposit “Daddies Little Angel TM” at the “oldbiddydrome”. She seems to love it. And then to work. Where there were problems. It was one of those days. One where I worked a good hour or so longer than I should have.

But on the plus side, the new ultra-violet light seems to have done the trick in the pond.

After a quick sarnie it was round to Brian’s garden. The plan was to get it under control. There are various theories about getting a garden under control. One can either delicately plan or one can utterly destroy and make good later. It’s no secret that I tend to lean toward the latter hypothesis, and I managed to convince Brian of the benefits of such a course of action. After a few hours of ripping out undergrowth we’ve tamed perhaps a quarter of the garden. We would have continued but for two reasons. Firstly we ran out of rubbish sacks, and secondly the Bat turned up and suggested a pub trip. Having trolled round the local villages to find the pubs all closed, we met up with er indoors TM at the Riverside. After a gallon of ale and a curry it was back home to see the latest Doctor Who….. if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. Click on that link, and watch the episode. Really! Do it now, before you do anything else…..

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29 June 2008 (Sunday) - Bored and Resentful

29 June 2008 (Sunday) - Bored and Resentfulmagnify

Another relatively sleepless night. As the person covering at work today was half-expected to phone in sick, I was awake from about 5am waiting for the phone to ring. It finally rang at 8am to say that she was in, but not feeling well. She’d soldier on, but if she got worse she’d phone me. I did have this plan to go round the pond shops today to get a pond light. That never happened – a job for next week perhaps? Effectively I spent the whole the day under house arrest waiting for a phone call that never came.

I put the new lawn mower together despite (rather than with the help of) the instructions. An example of how helpful the instructions were was the constant reference to “nuts and blots” (!). After half an hour I got to have a go with it. Having a mower that you push along may be all very environmentally friendly, but it’s hard work. I shall preserve for a bit, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I have a proper hover mower within a month or so.

And the rest of the day – mooching around some tunnels and killing giant spiders in NeverWinter. I rather resent wasting my weekend days…..


30 June 2008 (Monday) - Deja Vu (I hope not!)

30 June 2008 (Monday) - Deja Vu (I hope not!)magnify

I got my first snake some time in the early 90s. After a while I met up with other snake-herds and found out there was a local snake club. I joined, and before long I was in the thick of committee. For some years I was the club’s treasurer. Until following what I can only describe as a “civil war” some seven years ago when I resigned the post of treasurer. (Among other unpleasantness I was accused of stealing £30 from the kitty each month). As far as I remember a rather strange looking gnome took on the position. But no one ever told the bank about this change, and within weeks of this happening the club folded anyway. Over the intervening years I’ve lost touch with everyone from that club. People have moved houses and changed jobs. Shops have closed and I’ve no idea where any of the old snake-herds are. But I still get bank statements for that current account every month. There’s £129.77 of the (now defunct) club’s money still there. The bank tells me that I can go into the branch and have my name taken off of the account. But they are rather cagey about what will happen to that money if I do.

In 1997 when the scout group started to make plans to go to Canada in 2000, I was given the task of looking after the money for the trip. It took me hours to do every week, and I had nothing but complaints about what I did. Among other tribulations, at one point I had a scouting official criticizing me because I only gave receipts when I received money. He wanted me to give them when I paid out money too (!) I got my fair share of grief when making accounts for the 2004 trip and I’m thoroughly fed up with the accounts for the trip planned to Alaska in a month’s time.

It’s with a degree of trepidation that I am going to the astronomy club after work tonight. There’s to be a formal AGM and a committee elected. The roles of chairman and secretary are (in my mind) a foregone conclusion. But with a rather transient membership over the last eighteen months there are precious few candidates for the third committee role: that of treasurer. I don’t want to do the money again. I wonder if I can’t dragoon someone else to do it……