01 March 2009 (Sunday) - Upgrading

01 March 2009 (Sunday) - Upgradingmagnify

The first day of the month – it’s time to transfer the last month’s blog entries to the backup. With over nine hundred entries and over 15Mb worth of tat going back, two and a half years, it’s an awful lot of rubbish not to have backed up somewhere. Whilst backing up I saw that a couple of weeks ago I was looking to upgrade my mobile. The people I’m with will allow me to upgrade to the phone I want. Other networks claim they will give me the same phone for the same price with a free laptop. I phoned the people I’m with to see if they would match the deal. After ten minutes of being bounced around an automated switchboard, and a further fifteen minutes on hold I eventually got through to someone who could barely speak English and was gibbering about mixing and matching. He couldn’t seem to grasp that I was asking a very simple question – this is the phone I want – this is the price I am prepared to pay – will you give me a free laptop?

The question clearly exceeded the limitations of the script he’d been given, so I gave up with him, and together with ‘er indoors TM we set off for some mobile phone shops. To the McArthur Glen outlet centre. Somewhere which once was nothing but mobile phone shops now only had one. So we mooched to the town centre and tried loads of shops. None of whom were actually offering the deals that they would lead you to believe they were. And the service – when I go in wearing my work clothes (decent trousers, shirt and tie), shop assistants are all over me like a rash. When I go in with old troosers and a beat up T shirt I get studiously ignored to see if I will go away. It eventually transpired that these free laptop deals aren’t that good – there’s no free laptop unless you’re going to fork out nearly fifty quid a month. So I went back home, repeated the ten minutes of being bounced around an automated switchboard, and my new phone will be delivered on Tuesday. I’ve ordered a cover for it from eBay. Now to see if anyone wants my old Nokia N95….

And then I printed off “letter to the chokey #6”. Bearing in mind I spent over two hours trying to print last week’s letter, today’s printed out as easy as anything. Let’s hope the printer has got over its little tantrum.


02 March 2009 (Monday) - News, Stuff, and Woman's Hour

02 March 2009 (Monday) - News, Stuff, and Woman's Hourmagnify

I see that the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny has been voted one of the world’s sexiest cartoons and is staging a comeback. It would seem it is the sexy voice that does it. I wonder if people would feel the same way if they knew it was the voice of Blackadder’s Auntie Whiteadder?

Whilst on the cartoon theme, today would have been the 105th birthday of Dr Seuss. A wonderful author – where would we be without Sneetches or Green Eggs or Mrs McCave?

Meanwhile a website I will recommend today is that of Woman’s Hour on Radio Four. If you should click on it, click on the “listen now” option and voom forwards to about forty-five minutes into the program. The “book of the week” is one of my favourites, and is being read in fifteen minute sections all week.

What would eat if a virus killed off all the grasses, wheats and rice plants?

1 Comment


03 March 2009 (Tuesday) - Another Day

My new phone was delivered today. Today – they couldn’t be more precise than that. Why on Earth not? They should know from experience how long it takes to load the delivery van. From that they would know what time they van will leave the depot. They know the addresses to which they are delivering. So surely it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect them to be able to give you an approximate delivery time, or at least “late morning”, “mid afternoon” or some such?

Last week I moaned to the council about the road works. Today they phoned back. The reason they are taking so long is due to “technicalities in the way they are working”. I mentioned that Whiltfeld Road was done in a fraction of the time. That apparently was because that road was done using a “different technique”.

I see the local councillor is still trying to form a resident’s committee. I didn’t like the tone of the circular he sent round recently and I’ve told him so:

I feel I must take issue with your recent circular which I received on Sunday. Firstly you said that it was a shame that no one attended your recent meeting and you hoped for a better turn-out at the next.

I was at the meeting (debacle might be a better word?) in the hall at the top of Kingnorth Road on 13th February 2008, and I’m afraid I’ve never seen a scarier collection of petty-minded bigots. However I would be prepared to give another meeting a chance provided the meeting had structure and wasn’t another shambles.

But I need more than one day’s notice. I think you are being unreasonable to put the leaflet through my door on Sunday afternoon and expect me to be available the next day.

Let’s see what comes of it. I grumbled to CAMRA about Dover beer Festival and they told me to bog off. And I complained to Tesco about finding string in their cakes and they ignored me. So here’s hoping. You never know – I might end up on the resident’s committee. That might be a laugh.

And I hear Folkestone’s had another earthquake. Divine judgement, perhaps?


04 March 2009 (Wednesday) - Strikes, A Phone Call, A New Phone

04 March 2009 (Wednesday) - Strikes, A Phone Call, A New Phonemagnify

On the way home there was an article on the radio about the Miner’s Strike. The big one – it started twenty five years ago today. Makes you feel old doesn’t it? – Well, it makes me feel old. The BBC were asking for people who were involved with it to send in their memories. Whilst never having been a striking miner myself, I can remember there being NHS strikes at the same time. I was living in the nurses’ home at Ashford Hospital then, and outside the hospital was a picket line, manned by off-duty people who came and went before and after their shifts. Such is industrial action in the NHS – and they wonder why the money and conditions are so bad. Anyway……. One morning, out of the blue, a coach arrived. It was full of striking miners who’d come to show their solidarity with the oppressed NHS workers. Within a few minutes of their arrival the miners had (for no apparent reason) beaten up the policeman who was on duty and all the hospital staff had abandoned the picket line in disgust. But I doubt the Beeb would be interested in that.

A phone call – last Wednesday HMP Slade phoned to check if it was all right for an inmate to phone us. It only took them a week to tell the poor chap he could phone me – but he phoned me tonight in good spirits considering his cell had been the subject of a spot search today. Whilst he went about his daily business, four warders trashed his cell from top to bottom, and told him to be grateful they’d found nothing.

And my new phone is now charged and profiles set up. I can text with it using a standard (though admittedly small) “as God intended” keyboard, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that I may actually start replying to texts that I receive. I’m not sure that the LG phone PC suite software that comes with the thing is working right (or at all), but as you can see above I can get photos out of the thing, and I can put sounds in. That’s all I want…


05 March 2009 (Thursday) - Family Harmony..... ?

05 March 2009 (Thursday) - Family Harmony..... ?magnify

Having spent yesterday evening getting my sexy new phone TM all circuits go, I spent a rather long and lonely day waiting for someone to ring or text it. No one did. But I don’t care – I can even listen to Radio Four on the thing.

Today was an official early start for me (as opposed to my just getting in to work early anyway), and consequently an early finish. I had this plan to get some petrol on the way home, but the queue at the petrol station was right back to the road. Perhaps I picked the wrong time to get petrol – I’ve looked on Google to see if there should be a reason for panic buying of petrol, but couldn’t find anything. I shall try again tomorrow.

And so home to find something rather unsettling – the fruits of my loin in the same room and not only not arguing, but actually seeming to get on with each other. Scary – it seemed that “My Boy TM” had a vested interest in keeping his sister sweet – he’s lost his woolly socks and wants to borrow hers for “Operation Haddock” – he’s off fishing this weekend, and the last time he went night fishing his feet got cold. I would see this as being God’s way of telling him not to go night fishing in winter, but what do I know? If he wants socks, he might look in the bathroom – that’s where most of his underwear ends up – I’m fed up with carrying it to the laundry basket for him. I found an old pair of my walking socks he can have. When he’s done with them, those bits of sock that aren’t caked in mud will be running with fish slime. I can see why his sister isn’t keen to part with her white fluffy ones.

Last week I complained to Tesco’s about finding some string in one of their flapjacks. From what friends have told me of their experiences of complaining to supermarkets I was expecting to get twenty quid in vouchers. Today they sent me a fiver’s worth. I suppose that’s the credit crunch in action…..


06 March 2009 (Friday) - John Travolta in a Dress (And Justice)

06 March 2009 (Friday) - John Travolta in a Dress (And Justice)magnify

I had a bit of a thick head this morning. I blame the wine and port that I drank last night whilst we watched “Hairspray” – a truly wonderful film. I don’t know why I’ve never seen it before. It was brill. And in amongst all the fun it tackled issues of prejudice. Fat people have feelings too. And it attacked injustice. Which leads into today’s rant.

Someone (a subject of many recent blog entries) made a genuine error of judgement which ultimately has hurt no one but himself. The eventual outcome of this foolishness was that he went to prison for two years.

Over on the newsgroup uk.legal.moderated in the thread “Driving Licence Revoked”, there is the sad tale of a young lady who has been successfully prosecuted for driving without a driving licence. She thought she had one – she applied for one in the proper way, she received a licence which had her name and photograph, but an eagle eyed policeman spotted something that she’d missed. Namely that whilst her name was “Ivona”, the licence read “Iuona. A subtle difference, I’m sure my loyal readers will agree. But the police took the line that the licence was invalid and have successfully made an issue of it.

Meanwhile someone else made a string of disastrous professional decisions and has stuffed up the UK economy for the foreseeable future, to say nothing of causing hardship and heartache for millions. This chap has taken retirement fifteen years early on a pension of over £700 000 a year.

None of these cases are urban myths (two are fully outlined on the Internet, one I can supply chapter and verse about from my own experience). All have followed due legal process. But surely whilst the cases are legally right, they are also all morally wrong. And how can we have faith in a legal system which allows such injustice?


07 March 2009 (Saturday) - A Walk in the Countryside

07 March 2009 (Saturday) - A Walk in the Countrysidemagnify

Insomnia struck again – at 4am I was awake and compiling a mental list of things I haven’t done at work. By 5.30am I was washed, shaved, laundry done & washing up put away. By 6am I felt a tad tired, so back to bed only to be woken by “Daddies Little Angel TM” watching telly.

About fifteen years ago I bought a couple of books listing circular walks starting and finishing at local pubs. Today we (finally) tried one of the walks out. Whenever I list my hobbies, walking is always high on the list, but I never actually seem to get out walking anywhere near as much as I’d like to. Five (and a half) of us drove out to the Honest Miller at Brook and left the cars whilst we wandered off. Within only a few yards I realised my shoe had a hole in it, but we carried on. A smashing walk – a straight line across the fields almost up to the next road, then after talking with some horses we turned right and exchanged pleasantries with some sheep. We crossed several stiles and streams, and at one point my heart nearly stopped as a pheasant the size of an ostrich took wing less than a yard in front of me. It was rather unnerving to find so many shooting platforms built into the trees around our route – for all the talk of “badger ladders” I think it was fair to say that we passed through several killing fields, if that pheasant was anything to go by.

Through the application of “Really Skilful Navigation TM”, after an hour we found ourselves back in Brook, and after a quick squzz round the church we made our way back to the pub. I left my muddy boots outside – it’s not fair to tread the mud inside. The Honest Miller had two ales on – “Doom Bar” (which is becoming rather common), and “Pride of Pendle” – an ale I’ve never tried before. I had both. Both were fine. The landlord was quite a character, and once joined by Heather and Andy, seven (and a half) of us sat down for a smashing bit of dinner. The service was a tad slow – perhaps the place might benefit from more staff – but the food was excellent. I had the rack of ribs – because I like ribs. And tehn the spotted dick because it sounds rude. They do “ribs nights” which might be worth booking for at some point in the future. And Wednesday nights are quiz nights – that might be worth a trip out at some point as well.

And so home to sort out bank statements, the astronomy club’s accounts and the ironing….


08 March 2009 (Sunday) - Back to the Pond

08 March 2009 (Sunday) - Back to the Pondmagnify

Last night I had a premonition. I could feel in my water that work was going to be phoning me – the phone call came at 11.15pm. How did I know? “Daddies Little Angel TM” came with me for the ride, the problem was soon resolved and we came home via McDonalds. They don’t do milk shakes after 11pm. What’s that all about? We got home and sat down to watch telly together. “Daddies Little Angel TM” had been watching a documentary about “Blackadder” earlier. Somehow she’d managed to miss the entire third series, so we sat down and watched some.

Seeing as it was gone 1am before I got into my pit, today was a bit of a late start. More pottering in the garden. Three years ago I put up a bird box. The ungrateful feathered fellows still haven’t used it – but it did look a bit tatty, so that got painted. There can’t be much left to paint now. Once I’d hung the washing out, another job was to bury the water features’ electrical cables under the shingle. One of the cables was broken. At first I thought the thing had been cut. And then I got wondering who would cut it? It wouldn’t be anyone who was supposed to be in the garden. So an intruder must have done it. But then, if someone was intent on causing damage in the garden, there’s plenty more stuff that could have been done. More damage could have been done much easier. “Daddies Little Angel TM” suggested that the cable had been chewed rather than cut. That would be far more likely. And whilst I’m now relieved I’ve not got burglars, I’ve got six other water features, to say nothing of pond filters and pumps that are now in danger of getting chewed up.

Whilst I was at it, I thought I’d have a quick tidy up of the front garden. It’s a mess - I need to do something serious with that garden, but I am still undecided as to exactly what I should do. Any plans I have usually involve gravel and shingle and concrete stuff from Whelans’ and I am rather reluctant to put out stuff which drunken thugs will merely use as missiles. So I settled for scraping up the weeds and sweeping round. When I finished and turned round to come back in to the house, I found that I couldn’t. “My Boy TM” had returned from “Operation Haddock” with enough kit to sink a battleship. Once he’d finally arranged his stuff so that I could get to the front door, I had a quick mow of the lawn, and then I noticed that the Koi were looking peckish. As it’s getting warmer, I gave them a handful of food which they yummed up. I shall need to get some more Koi food soon – and that stuff isn’t cheap. I suggested a fish shop trip to “My Boy TM”, and he readily agreed. Bearing in mind I’d done some of the nearer fish shops recently we set off for Icklesham Koi – an obscure place in the back of beyond mid way between Rye and Hastings. It is my ambition to buy something from this shop one day. They have the most beautiful fish which are never quite ready for sale. They heat their fish in the winter, and cool them in the summer, so at no time of the year are they at standard pond temperature. And so they can’t sell them. But they always assure me that they are just about to get new stock in. And then there’s the food - they’ve always just sold out of the particular fish food that I want. And their pumps are either too weak or too strong for what I have in mind. I really shouldn’t go there. It just winds me up. We took the scenic route home via Tenterden garden centre. They had no Koi, but they did have frog food and a replacement pump. I also bought a pond light as I never got round to replacing the one that broke last year.

And so back to the garden for more pottering - we had just got to the stage where all the electricals were all exposed when the rain started. But we got the job done, as well as getting soaked ourselves. The pond light isn’t quite right, but “My Boy TM” says he will sort it out during the week…..


09 March 2009 (Monday) - Watching People

09 March 2009 (Monday) - Watching Peoplemagnify

A late start today. As I was walking in to the hospital via the A&E entrance I noticed a rather odd couple of tramps sitting on the bench opposite the hospital. A weasly-looking tramp was attempting to console a scrawny-looking bag lady who was obviously in pain. The pair of them were haranguing passers by, attempting to get someone to argue their case with the authorities. They thought it unfair that the hospital staff refused them admittance all the time they were smoking their foul smelling roll ups and swigging from cans of special brew. Apparently such discrimination went against “pikey rights”. I wasn’t getting involved and left them to it.

This evening on the way out there were a couple of young nubile eastern European ladies lurking around A&E. One was obviously upset, and the other was consoling her in a most unfraternal way, as only a young nubile eastern European lady could. I would have been quite happy to have gotten involved there, but unfortunately I was already late for the astro club committee.

Tonight’s committee meeting was in the Queens Head in Kingsnorth. As I was driving, I limited myself to only a half of the Summer Lightning. An odd pub – old boys at one end, the youth club at the other. The place needs a lick of paint; I shan’t be going back in a hurry. But a successful meeting – lots planned. And then home to spend half an hour trying to find somewhere to park….


10 March 2009 (Tuesday) - Communications

10 March 2009 (Tuesday) - Communicationsmagnify

I got a message from the Beer in the Evening website today:

Hi I am the new landlord at the Blue Anchor Ruckinge since 02/12/2008. I have noticed that you are a fairly prolific writer on this site and feel that your comments are honest and to the point. Whats more you take the trouble to visit and comment on local pubs. Please visit us soon and post your comments. Kind regards Gordon Russell Landlord the Blue anchor Ruckinge. e.mail: info@the pub . co . uk

It didn’t take a lot of clicking to find that the Blue Anchor is under new management – the people who ran it up until ten years ago have come back. Whilst it’s a scenic enough place, I’ve always found it very much “for the locals”, but the chap’s taken the trouble to contact me, so it would be rude not to go down for a crafty half at some point. With a favourable head wind, Ruckinge is within cycling distance, so that might be an outing for a coming Saturday.

Meanwhile science has discovered that when chimpanzees get a cob-on, they don’t just fling the first rock that comes to hand. They studiously prepare their ammunition in advance, and even use rocks to bash bits of concrete out of walls to chuck. Apparently such behaviour shows the ability to plan exists in monkeys. One would have thought science would have something more constructive on which to waste its time.

And this evening loads of us gathered for a phone call from the chokey. A outging fifteen minute call costs an inmate nearly two quid, but how many inmates have a dozen mates organised enough to get together for a chat? If only we could phone in…..

1 Comment


11 March 2009 (Wednesday) - A School Trip

11 March 2009 (Wednesday) - A School Tripmagnify

From time to time we have various groups of students visiting the laboratory for which I professionally take the blame. This morning we had three groups doing “Health Studies”. The first lot nervously came into the lab, each one timidly clutching another in terror. As anyone who’s ever watched me test a blood sample will know, I always mix the sample as I hold it. The reason is that, left on its own, blood will settle out. To demonstrate this, we’d left a blood sample to stand for an hour. “Is that real blood?” they asked. And when they got the answer, they all screamed. We then showed them a blood analyser in action. When the robotics delivered blood samples to the device, the students all made “yukking” noises in disgust. And one nearly spewed when it saw the blood stained waste going down the drain. One of my lady colleagues attempted to put that into perspective by explaining the various blood stained things ladies put down the loo once a month, but that just set them all off again. When we got to the blood bank there was a glimmer of hope. One brave soul asked if it could hold a bag of blood. But my hopes were soon dashed. As the blood bank was opened, so the brave one fainted in a heap. Teacher and one of my people carried the delicate petal up to A&E. Sometimes working in a hospital can have its advantages.

The second group were rather different. They didn’t scream in terror. They didn’t do very much at all. One rolled its eyes in boredom a few times, and two yawned, but that was about it.

The third lot were obviously the youngest group. There was no silly forced hysteria from them, nor any shows of boredom. They were interested, and asked questions. Why can’t all students be like that? Surely these people know what they are letting themselves in for when they come on a visit to a pathology laboratory? Or is the lure of a day off school/college too much to resist, regardless of what ordeal one must face?


12 March 2009 (Thursday) - Fisher and German Bite

12 March 2009 (Thursday) - Fisher and German Bitemagnify

I spent the day feeling somewhat rough, having been called into work at 1am. Normally there’s interesting stuff on the radio in the middle of the night. This time I was disappointed - the shipping forecast was on the dull side. Having said that, it’s changed over the last thirty years. As a lad I can always remember my father being mesmerised by the weather forecasts, and the entire family would have absolute silence whilst (with a far off stare) he would listen in wonder to tales of precipitation being within sight in Humber, and something or other (I never did find out what) falling more slowly in Cromarty and Forth. But it’s all changed. Finistere has gone. How is that possible? A whole lump of British coastal water just gone. And there’s new ones that have been added – Fitzroy and Trafalgar. I wonder if my dad knows about this….. I was back in bed shortly after 2am, but didn’t really get off to kip properly after that. I blame the excitement about the promise of something in Biscay that was at the time poor, but would later become moderate. I wonder if it did.

A minor disaster in the garden – somehow or other last weekend whilst fiddling with the pond, we must have knocked the filter output so that some of the water wasn’t going down the waterfall, but was splashing over the shingle. We’ve lost six inches of water from the pond. I will hope for rain.

And so to work. In keeping with the rather negative way the day started I found that a bird had messed over my car. I say “bird” – it was probably a flock of ostriches, there was so much dung. Now I’ve always chuckled about a car wash company in Ellingham that advertises “best hand job in Ashford”, so I went there on the way to work, and asked them to hose off the turds. They had a range of prices offering services from a very basic wash up to super-de-luxe scrubbery. I settled for the fourteen quid version in which I sat in the car whilst they pressure-hosed it from all angles, then I got out whilst half a dozen of them clambered all over the insides, scrubbing, cleaning and hoovering. After only ten minutes the thing was immaculate (again).

I can’t help but compare the service with that offered by the surly malcontents in Tesco’s car park who will rub the car with a skanky chamois for a fiver.

Meanwhile on eBay my light blue star has gone purple as my feedback rating storms over 500. That’s only taken six years. At this rate the star should go red some time in 2015…..

1 Comment


13 March 2009 (Friday) - Rollercoaster

13 March 2009 (Friday) - Rollercoastermagnify

I see the latest theme park roller coaster has broken before it was opened to the public. The Saw ride at Thorpe Park developed problems during testing on guinea pigs. Or during the celebrity preview, depending on your perspective. I remember as a child when the travelling fun fairs came to Hastings, the opening night was always known as “guinea pig night”. I don’t think anyone actually died on those occassions, but the implication was always there.

I was always to scared to go on the dodgier rides, and said so, but I see there is now an excuse for the twenty-first century. It’s acceptable not to go on the rides if you think your breast implants aren’t up to the stress of the ride. One cannot help but wonder how the jubblies might be adversely affected by G-forces.


14 March 2009 (Saturday) - Bow Snarrows

14 March 2009 (Saturday) - Bow Snarrowsmagnify

I was woken at 6am as “Operation Haddock TM” quietly blasted off. Over the years “My Boy TM” has had plenty of chances to practice being quiet, but he’s still not got the hang of it. Still, after half an hour the noise subsided and I nodded off again.

As we left the house this morning we met up with some of the leaders from scouts. They had a question about obtaining someone’s blood group. Knowing your blood group is a really useless bit of information. When you need to know your blood group, those people who need to know it will test it there and then, regardless of how many times it has been tested before. However things are never as simple as they might seem. It transpired that some of the older scouts are going on an expedition (with the Aspinall Foundation) to deepest Africa. They will be some four hours from the closest hospital, and some twat first-aider has obtained a blood transfusion kit for use in an emergency. And wants to know people’s blood groups.

I can’t help but feel that should there be a calamity in the jungle that requires a blood transfusion, letting some amateur loose with an crappy first aid kit is the surest way to turn a disaster to a fatality. Given that the purported recipient is genuinely in need of blood, and is of the third commonest blood group (B Rh(D) Pos – 8% of the population), the likelihood of having sufficient donors available is pretty slim. So I expect our wannbe medic would merely exsanguinate the healthy to treat the dying. And therefore have two deaths where only one would be necessary. Or given that one of the young ladies was in need of a transfusion and one was successfully administered, there would be a good chance that in the process, the do-gooder had rendered her effectively infertile.

First-aiders annoy me. If they want to go round healing the sick, they should work in a hospital. The reason they don’t is that (generally) they are too dumb. Take the chap who patched up a cub I once broke. He broke his arm which was subsequently bandaged up into a sling by an itinerant first-aider. Whilst we were waiting for the ambulance, this first-aider came back and in all seriousness asked for his bandage back. His first aid kit was no longer complete, and he might need the bandage to deal with an emergency. I shall put some wheels in motion on Monday to have the skids but under this stupid idea.

To Smarden to play with bows and arrows. There are those that think such toys should be treated with respect. There are those who just fire the things off whilst hoping for the best. I know which camp I’m in. Six of us pinged off arrows of assorted shapes and sizes. It is traditional for each protagonist to have arrows of the same shape, size and colour, but over the years we’ve managed to destroy so many that there aren’t that many left that match. We keep talking about having an arrow maintenance workshop, but talk is cheap. Today I was Prince Robin Hood (apparently) and Matt was my assistant, the lovely Hairy Mary Magdalene. I thought she was something biblical, but apparently not. I’d mistaken her for the Sheriff of Nottingham, or so I was told. Last year Chippy went to great trouble and effort to make a stand for the target. Let’s hope he doesn’t see the holes, cracks and assorted damage we did to it today.

We rather lost track of the time, and so arrived at the Flying Horse too late for dinner – the kitchen had closed. So we adjourned to the Chequers where the barmaid had a better class of saucy underwear. A seriously good bit of scoff was devoured, and then we set off to Shirkoak Lake where “Operation Haddock TM” was in full flow. The lads had paid twenty five quid each for two days fishing. It seemed a bit steep to me, but for all the talk of credit crunching, there seemed to be no shortage of people who were happy to pay up…


15 March 2009 (Sunday) - Whelks

15 March 2009 (Sunday) - Whelksmagnify

My niece stayed with us last night, and this morning I was woken by a text message – did we fancy a walk along the coast at Hythe? Ten of us met up at eleven o’clock and wandered a couple of miles along the beach. Today was a glorious day for a walk, and after a couple of miles along the prom in one direction, we followed the canal back to Hythe. It was really peaceful – next time I might just bring a fishing rod. The only thing to mar the walk was the toilets. Or lack of them. Whilst there is a signpost pointing out toilets some two hundred yards away, they weren’t the most obvious of lavatories and they did take some searching out.

Daddies Little Angel TM” announced that because we were at the seaside, we should have whelks. I agreed with that, and so we popped into the Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant and Bar. A strange place. The spotty oik behind the bar was telling one of the gullible that the asahi lager they had on was imported from Japan, hence the premium price. Well, that was wrong. Whilst it’s a Japanese brew, the stuff is actually made (under licence) by the Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham. I however had no chance to impart this information because the staff openly ignored me. In my “Sunday best” I was obviously not the kind of customer they wanted to attract. Still, that’s their loss. Not only shall I take my money elsewhere, I shall advise others to do so too.

However, the search for whelks was still on. Waving goodbye to friends, we set off in search of the elusive molluscs. Remembering a seafood stall we frequented in the past, we set off for Dymchurch to find the place closed. Not just the seafood stall, but Dymchurch as a whole. Because of the glorious weather, we’d overlooked the fact that it was only mid-March, and touristy places don’t usually open until Easter at the earliest. I remembered a stall once being open at Dungeness, but it too was closed. But by now we were hungry so we had sossies & chips in the café. That is the grown ups had sossies & chips. The younger ones had maybe a chip between them. What do teenage girls live on? Photosynthesis? Still, they managed to get tomato ketchup up the walls, so the money wasn’t entirely wasted

With chips scoffed we thought we’d see the sights. Since the visitor centre at the power station closed, there’s only one sight at Dungeness – the light house. It was brilliant. Far more frightening than any fun fair ride. ‘er indoors TM loved it, but the rest of us quivered in terror, not everyone made it as far up as the top, and we had some tears from my niece afterwards, who came down shaking like a leaf. The top of that lighthouse is on the scary side!

After that, actually finding a whelk stall that was open came as something of an anticlimax. Especially as no one wanted whelks by then. We settled down to cockles and prawns, and spent the evening visiting various relatives in Hastings whilst we recovered from the ordeal…..


16 March 2009 (Monday) - Money For Old Rope

16 March 2009 (Monday) - Money For Old Ropemagnify

On the way home tonight there was an article on the radio about “sponsored blogging”. It would seem I can make money out of my daily ramblings. It works like this: I sign up with the sponsored blogging agency, and they tell me to rant on about how good Azox biological washing powder is (or whatever else they are trying to flog). And every time one of my loyal readers buys some Azox biological, I get a bung. Sounds like money for old rope to me. I’ve emailed the nice people at Yahoo – if they say no, then I’ll start up a commercial blog somewhere else (to see how it goes) and keep this one here for my ramblings. And if they say yes, then my blog will soon be featuring commercial breaks.

Meanwhile have you ever wondered just why it is that Cheesy Poofs are so wonderful? Don’t you just love them?

The security of the hospital’s car park gave me cause for concern today. One of my people was a tad late back from lunch. (Yes – I know – I try to get them to have dinner, but there’s no reasoning with some of them). Anyway, he had this idea to save time by not going to the petrol station, but to fill his car with petrol from the spare tank he carries round with him. However he had a minor problem in that his key snapped off in the filler cap. So he wrestled with it a bit, kicked it a few times and then went off to find a crowbar with which he eventually prised off the filler cap. Apparently he managed to salvage enough of the key out of the filler cap to be able to shove in the ignition and turn with a pair of pliers. It’s rather worrying that the thousands of pounds spent on CCTV either didn’t see this episode or didn’t care about it…..

I love cheesy poofs

You love cheesy poofs.

If we didn't eat cheesy poofs,

We'd be Lame.

(This message brought to you by Snacky Smores, the delicious taste of smores in a delightful cookie crunch)



17 March 2009 (Tuesday) - Stuff

17 March 2009 (Tuesday) - Stuffmagnify

Sometimes when I am on a late start the couple of hours I have in the morning I spend in bed. Sometimes I watch a DVD, sometimes I spend the time in NeverWinter. Today I wasted two hours putting the “LemmiWinks” song onto my phone. For those of you who are into that sort of thing, it’s a good version of the song. For those of you who aren’t, I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

There was an interesting article on the radio today. When the various banks went west, some people got money from the government in compensation, others did not. Various county councils didn’t because they were “informed investors”. It’s strange how a county council doesn’t get anything because it’s an “informed investor”, but a bank gets billions of quid because it isn’t.

To Chris’s house to watch the latest Star Trek fan-made episode – “Of Gods and Men”. I loved it. Because I’m the sad geek who can recall endless trivia about Star Trek. But people who don’t have endless memories about the minutiae of Star Trek would spend the whole time wondering what was going on. If you search around the Internet there’s loads of fan-made trekky stuff out there. And most of it is utterly unwatchable to the general public because it’s directed at the trivia-obsessed geek market. Which is a shame….


18 March 2009 (Wednesday) - The End of an Era ?

18 March 2009 (Wednesday) - The End of an Era ?magnify

A couple of days ago I pondered on the possibility of making money from my daily ramblings. To be sure I wouldn’t find myself closed down from breaching any terms and conditions of service, I emailed the nice people at Yahoo 360 to ask if it would be OK for me to run a sponsored blog. They emailed back and said:

After careful consideration, we have decided to close the Yahoo! 360 sites in early 2009

Well, that’s me told, then. They went on to say that they wouldn’t delete the blog, and would provide help in transferring the content. I wondered where it might get transferred to, and I asked them. They sent back a standard email which in no way answered any of my questions. Fortunately for humanity at large I have backups of my drivel. After all there are nine hundred and twenty five entries going back two and a half years and totalling over 15Mb of web space. I wonder where it might end up. If any of my loyal readers have any ideas or suggestions for decent blogging sites, I’m all ears.


19 March 2009 (Thursday) - Awesome

19 March 2009 (Thursday) - Awesomemagnify

Work was rather difficult today. It was the annual visit of the students from the University of Kent. Six groups of them needed showing round as part of their degree. Each group requiring half an hour of my time, and the day’s work still needed doing as well. Easy really. Start early and don’t eat my sandwich until 5pm. Wish I’d thought of it earlier.

Usually we have fun laughing at the silly hats the students wear, but this year there wasn’t a silly hat in sight. A couple had “Vote for Pedro” T shirts – I can’t help but wonder who Pedro is or was. But during their mid afternoon tea break, one group were overheard telling another that “the bloke with the piercings was awesome!” so I suppose someone appreciates my efforts.

And then home feeling absolutely washed out. Only to find ‘er indoors TM has a gaggle of women all squawking about the mucky underwear one of them is trying to flog to the others. “My Boy TM” just came back from the loo and said they’ve now started on the battery powered stuff. All I want is for them all to shove off so I can have a shower and go to kip…


20 March 2009 (Friday) - A Birthday Party

20 March 2009 (Friday) - A Birthday Partymagnify

To Hastings for my Godson’s eighteenth birthday party. Eighteen – where do the years go? The party was in the hospital’s social club. The social club at the William Harvey closed down years ago, and I suppose the fact that the place can be booked for a private party on a Friday night speaks volumes about a hospital social club

I met one or two old friends. An ex-Boys Brigade mate who now does bows and arrows properly – even making his own arrows. How about that ! And the chap who used to run our Boys Brigade. He’s a sprightly eighty years old and we had a long chat about the good old days. I get the impression that my time in the Boys Brigade was one of the better times in the life of the 8th Hastings BB. He told me our old vaulting horse has been thrown away because of the woodworm. Heresy – that old vaulting horse should be a national treasure. With absolutely no qualified instructors at all, we used to fling ourselves over the thing in a range of ways. I once mis-cued and vaulted straight into a wall, but in all the years we did it, I can only ever remember one bone breaking. And it wasn’t mine, so that was all right. Health and Safety would put the kibosh on that sort of thing today, but it was good fun. No one ever got hurt. Or seriously hurt. Except Adrian’s collar bone.

And the old Boys Brigade band instruments have all been sent to Africa. What was that all about? – Once a month early on a Sunday morning we would march round the local streets making a God-awful racket whilst obstructing the traffic. It was great fun. Kids today don’t know what they are missing.

And I met an old teacher. Thirty years ago the chap saw me through a Latin “O” level – he remembered me, the friend I sat with, and he recounted one or two of our exploits, including a trip to the British Museum where we came back with one less child than we took.

And then some banter was exchanged with the younger ones. Sean is eighteen. Jacob looks more like his father every time I see him. Thea is the image of her mother (who died a few years ago), and is always ready to go and get cake for Uncle Fat Bloke. I wonder if in thirty years time these kids will sit round over some beers and recount tales of that fat bloke from Ashford……


21 March 2009 (Saturday) - A Pub Crawl

21 March 2009 (Saturday) - A Pub Crawlmagnify

Despite having a few beers last night, I was wide awake at 5am, and watching South Park episodes by 6am. As I was working today I decided to walk to work, and after a relatively dull morning I wandered down to the Blacksmith’s Arms to await the arrival of the rest of the “Saturday Pub Crew”. A funny day – as I walked into work at 7.30am there was frost and ice about. By mid day it was warm enough to sit in the beer garden. I necked a pint of Summer Lightning whilst listening to other peoples’ conversations. There’s nothing more entertaining than other people. There was one young lady who was quite obviously breaking up with a soon to be ex-girlfriend on the mobile phone whilst being consoled by the new girlfriend. Meanwhile there was a particularly scruffy oik trying to impress another equally scruffy oik, both of whom had pretensions of being “businessmen”. Just as both conversations got interesting, ‘er indoors TM called me into the pub for dinner. Rather bad timing (!)

Being right next door to the hospital, the Blacksmiths is somewhere I’ve visited a few times over the last twenty five years. It’s been redecorated, and it seems a lot smaller than I remember it. The food was good, and four ales on the hand pump is always a good thing.

After a rather good bit of scoff, we set off for the White Horse. Some on foot. Some in car. Unfortunately the parking was non-existent, so we lost some of our party at this point. Despite it being the second closest pub to the hospital, I’d never been there before. And to be honest I don’t intend to go back. It was a frankly average pub which was spoiled by the sport on the wide screen TV. I suppose the people who run pubs have done their research, and there must be more people who want to scream at a telly than don’t, but they won’t see me back again. It was here that the Bat-Pants began to chafe, and in order to maximise comfort, the elastic of said undergarment was cut. I thought this a rather rash step to take, but kept (mostly) quiet. It was here that we tried to soak beer into the next envelope to be sent into HMP Slade. We had this idea that Jimbo might like to smell the beer on the envelope. I’m not sure the plan worked.

From here we wandered round to the Hooden on the Hill. A (potentially) really good pub with a decent selection of ales – and a mild – but again spoiled by sport on the TV. This place has put a TV projector into an outside area so the smokers can scream at the TV and upset everyone in the garden whilst having their fags. It seems odd that the people who own the pub have spent so much time and money making such a lovely beer garden only to spoil it in this way, but what do I know? I consoled myself with ridiculing the Bat-Pants which by now with no restraining elastic had ridden up quite uncomfortably.

A minor hike up Hythe Road brought us to the Fox – now renamed the Windmill. A rather average beer selection, but a friendly enough welcome, and a pleasant enough place for a crafty pint. Once the crafty pint was shifted, we wandered down to Upmarket. It was rumoured that Upmarket had a “mucky accessories” department. It did. I was quite amazed at the various implements one could purchase. For only thirty quid, one could obtain an inflatable grandmother. With no more ado, I beat a hasty retreat to the chip shop for some tea.

We wandered home along the river with plans to have a quick wazz in Asda. That is, in the toilets in Asda, not in Asda itself. The gents in Asda had suffered a malfunction, and male lavatarians were directed into the disabled toilets. I’m not quite sure how, but I ended up in the ladies. For some reason I’ve always thought that ladies toilets were ideal heaven-on-earth places. This one was rather skanky and smelled of girl plops. Whilst in Asda I bought some new jim-jams and some undercrackers. He who had taken the opportunity to abandon pants two pubs ago didn’t like the look of the Asda undercrackers and went without. Some people are so fussy….


22 March 2009 (Sunday) - Mother's Day

22 March 2009 (Sunday) - Mother's Daymagnify

Despite feeling absolutely knackered when I went to kip last night, I was wide awake and worrying about work by 6am. I try not to blog about the place too much, but it’s doing my head in at the moment. Perhaps it might help to write a paragraph or two and put things into perspective.

I find myself given processes and methods and rotas to implement by managers who have no idea of the actual constraints under which I work. Take for example the rota I use to give out night and weekend work. I am told by senior management that I need a minimum of seven qualified people to operate that rota. I have five. And I am criticized by the same senior managers that two of these five people are never in the department during routine hours because I am assigning them evening and weekend work. When I point out that this would leave me three people to run a rota which needs seven people, I am variously being “obstructive”, negative” and “confrontational”. Or take tomorrow morning when I have been formally ordered to a meeting to which I have absolutely nothing to contribute, and all that I will achieve by going is to get behind with the rest of my work. I am in no way in charge of my department, merely the person who takes the blame.

There is a vacancy at a hospital up the motorway. The position is a couple of grades down on my current position, but I spent the morning drafting an application. The money might be less – I will just spend less on beer. There might be more time spent travelling, but I am leaving for work over an hour early at the moment anyway. They might not want me. Let’s hope they do…

To Hastings for Mothers Day. Flowers were duly given out, and tea drank. My father in law proudly showed me his new scooter. It’s got a range of some twenty-five miles, and a top speed of eight miles an hour. Frank tells me it’s given him freedom, but I suspect he won’t use it for getting about much. For some reason I can see it being used by grandchildren to ride around the garden. He once hired an allotment and bought a rotavator purely to keep the kids amused.

We came home via “World of Water” in Rolvenden. On the way down we visited Icklesham Koi. I grumbled about them a fortnight ago. Whilst they have now got fish in, they didn’t have many, and the ones they had were a tad overpriced. So I went to an old favourite and I got a mega-tub of Koi food, and some white mollies. And some neons because I like them…


23 March 2009 (Monday) - Mistakes

23 March 2009 (Monday) - Mistakesmagnify

Insomnia again – up and wide awake by 6am. Laundry out on the line and off to work by 7.30am. And then a minor hiccup. One of the chaps who was due to be on a late start this morning was finishing off the night shift. So if he was working all last night, he wouldn’t be doing today’s late shift. So I came back home again, wasted three hours and went back later. Although I’d made the mistake with the rota-ing, the rota had been on the wall for a month. Surely someone would have seen the mistake? Another example of why I’m fed up with my current role….

Talking of mistakes, yesterday I spent eighty quid on Koi food. I could have saved twenty quid if I’d tried eBay first. Koi are fussy fish. Once upon a time they were happy with the cheapo blue striped “Happy Shopper” style fish food. And then I won a big tub of expensive Koi food as second prize in the fish shop raffle and the finny fellows have never looked back. At feeding time they practically climb out of the pond and come to meet me. Provided I’ve got the expensive stuff. If I give them the cheap stuff, they don’t even come to the surface. If I mix the cheap with the expensive, they scoff the lot and selectively spit the cheap out. I could also have bought a job lot of two hundred neons. That would make an impressive show in a tank.

A rather dull morning was then spent in NeverWinter, interspersed with runs to the washing machine – the poor thing’s on overload to keep up with “Daddies Little Angel TM”’s idea to have a spring clean.

And then back to work again. Where I whinged to my boss about life, the universe and everything, and asked him for a reference for the hospital up the road. He’s suggested a compromise which might make things easier for me – I shall have to think about it….


24 March 2009 (Tuesday) - In The Garden

24 March 2009 (Tuesday) - In The Gardenmagnify

A rather embarrassing episode yesterday evening – I sent out some text messages about a forthcoming phone call from HMP Slade, and had back some replies from the wrong people. It would seem that one or two of the numbers I have in my phone aren’t as right as they might be. If I start asking my loyal readers what their mobile phone number is, please bear with me…

Due to -< rant omitted >- I find myself working the night shift tonight. Because I didn’t need to be into work until the evening, I spent this morning pootling about in the garden. First of all to deal with a mishap – the pond was even emptier than I thought – the fish poo filter had blocked up again. This seems to happen on an annoyingly regular basis, but I wasn’t expecting it quite so soon. The filter has only been running for a month this year. I was expecting it would have lasted to Easter at least.

So whist the pond was re-filled, I sorted out the excess fish dung. I don’t mind unbunging the filter. Some people get a bit squeamish about being up to their elbows in fish poo. It doesn’t bother me, except that it’s a bit cold, smelly and I get backache.

Once that job was done, there was a bit of fence to make. (Only a little bit). I needed a small portion of trellis, but unfortunately the stuff only cones in one size, so I hammered and bashed and sawed, and made a lump the size I wanted from a standard sized bit of trellis, and threw away the other three quarters of the thing. It’s now nailed in place, and looks OK from a distance, but on closer examination it does ooze with “rustic charm TM. I’m blaming the fence posts to which it is attached. They aren’t in quite the straight line they might be. Nor are they quite as level as is traditional for fence posts. Such is life.

Washing put into the washing machine, hung out on the line, more washing in, blah-de-blah, - it’s amazing how quickly a morning can go. As I don’t do many nights (at the moment) what with today being something of a special occasion I thought I’d treat myself to KFC. Mind you, more often than not, the occasion of me being home at mid day for any reason is usually cause enough to celebrate with KFC. They’ve got a till which shows how much tax you’ve paid on your purchases. Out of the £4.39 I spent on a “variety meal”, 57 pence was tax. That’s a lot (!)

I then came home and, KFC scoffed, the plan was to see if I could get some sleep. The people who do night work always grumble that it’s not possible to sleep when you want to, and that it would be good to get some kip in advance before the night shift, but God didn’t make us with “off” buttons. Well, for all that I don’t sleep much at nights; I slept like a log this afternoon. Let’s see what the night shift brings….


25 March 2009 (Wednesday) - Tired

25 March 2009 (Wednesday) - Tiredmagnify

Last’s night’s shift was…… difficult to describe. Not exactly busy, but plenty of work to keep me going. I went in with all sorts of admin work I planned to do, but never got close to doing any of it. But, what I did like about the night was just getting on with the job. There was no one else around, and I could just do my own thing. Would I want to go back to doing night work? – possibly. Having the day off before was useful for me, but this morning I slept like a log in front of the telly, and I’m sure it will take a couple of days to get over it.

A few days ago I mentioned that Yahoo 360 were planning to close down. It’s now been a week since their last email – I’m going to carry on blogging here and hope for the best. Whilst expecting the worst. Just lately I’ve been bombarded with friend requests on Yahoo 360 from people either blatantly advertising cross dressing web sites, or from men in dresses. Or in women’s underwear. Whilst I’ve no problem with that (each to their own), I can’t help but remember a series of emails I received from Yahoo 360 over a picture from NeverWinter. The picture apparently breached some code or other, and a blog entry got pulled, but there are reams of Yahoo 360 pages blatantly advertising porn sites. Just find someone in your friends list, click on to their friends, and find someone you don’t know, look in their friends list. It doesn’t take long to find pornmongers.

Meanwhile in the news I see an announcement has been made. I was there, back in the early 80s when Spandau Ballet first started. Their first album, “Journeys to Glory” was excellent, but after that, they went all disco-pop rubbish and I gave up with them. Despite their all ending up in one big legal fight ten years later, today they announced that they were re-forming. I suppose I would too – wander up onto a stage, sing a bit, and laugh all the way to the bank. It could be such a sweet life.

On a more mundane level, my kettle is knacked – it doesn’t switch off. The last kettle we had never survived the ordeal of being used to make instant mashed potato – I have checked for signs of Smash, but perhaps this time “My Boy TM” is innocent.

And then to the arky-ologee club. Tonight’s speaker was a retired Air Commodore who spoke about the early days of British Aviation. Most of which happened on the Isle of Sheppey. In a complete break with tradition the club tonight had a speaker who didn’t send me to sleep. Let’s hope it continues…


26 March 2009 (Thursday) - Education

26 March 2009 (Thursday) - Educationmagnify

I see that the so-called guardians of public morality are up in arms because children are to be taught the rudiments of the Internet at primary school. Oh, it makes me see red. Our education system clings to the past and tries to pretend we’re still in the nineteenth century. Let’s utterly ignore teaching the kids something useful like how to use a spreadsheet, but teach them something utterly useless like long division with pencil & paper.

While on the subject of learning something useless, I had more students to show round at work today. As this lot are studying for the degree designed for people who want to work in a path lab, I asked them what they planned to do with their degrees. The answers amazed me. One wanted to be a dentist, and one a doctor. So they train to be a biomedical scientist instead? Another is doing the course because her friend said it was good, but she has no idea about what she wants to do with the degree. One said she’s doing it because she got bad grades at A level and didn’t get her first course choice. It amazes me that these kids spend years and run up thousands of pounds of debts learning stuff they will never use in their lives.

Meanwhile in the rest of the group, two Sapphic young ladies just giggled and cuddled each other, whilst another was rather epically breasted, and from what I could see, didn’t seem to be wearing anything under her lab coat. Time to take a moral stance.

On another note, we’re getting suggestive porno-drivel from Britney. Spandau Ballet have certainly got a hill to climb….


27 March 2009 (Friday) - Disappointment

27 March 2009 (Friday) - Disappointmentmagnify

Due to unexpected illness at work I found myself doing a late shift today, which gave me a couple of hours to catch up on the telly. There’s very little I record on the Sky Plus box, and now that Battlestar Galactica has finished, there’s not anything. Which is probably for the best.

I remember many years ago watching the movie 2001. It was great. Sci-fi and spaceships. Mad computers and believable characters. And then the last half hour of the film was total arty-farty dross which I don’t think anyone on the planet has ever understood.

I’ve recently (for the last few years) been watching the reimagined remade Battlestar Galactica, thinking it was a remake of the 70s series of the same name. It turns out I was wrong. It was a remake of 2001. It started really well, and continued in the same vein for three and a half seasons. Sci-fi and spaceships. Mad computers (Cylons) and believable characters. And then the last episode was total arty-farty dross which I don’t think anyone on the planet will ever understand. When you compare it to the end of other comparable sci-fi series (various Star Treks, Babylon 5, Survivors, Tin Man, 10th Kingdom), it was lame. What a disappointment.

Another disappointment was that because I was doing the late shift, I was late getting to astronomy club, and missed the talk on dark matter. One of our number is doing PhD research at the University, and I’d been looking forward to his presentation. Oh well, such is life…


28 March 2009 (Saturday) - Saturday

28 March 2009 (Saturday) - Saturdaymagnify

In a novel break with tradition I didn’t go to the pub for dinner today. Much as I like a pub dinner, it’s a hobby which can get a bit pricey after a while. Together with Hosey an hour was spent in various shops looking at wide screen televisions. Last April I decided to sell two weeks leave of this leave year, and this month I got the dosh. An extra two weeks wages. Rather than squandering it on beer, I thought I’d get something useful. Like a new telly. However tellys aren’t cheap. I was expecting to shell out about three hundred quid. I’ll be lucky to get one the right size for less than five hundred.

And then back for scoff – Maria had made a brill spread (she does that so well) and then we looked on line for cheap tellys. There weren’t any. So we consoled ourselves playing lego. Lego Mario was on the toilet. He had lego toilet roll and everything (!) Ands then lego Star Wars. Obi-Wan-Fell-Over and his two droids RU12 and ICUP did battle with Jeff Vader, and lego James Bond got killed to death. It was all too much for me, so I sat with Maria and we watched “Mamma Mia” (again).

Home for a quick download – the latest Yahoo messenger, and Stellarium – a wonderful bit of freeware for plotting stars and stuff. And then round to Andy & Heather for a game of cards. In an amazing turn of fate, I came third out of five, and wasn’t first one out as usual. I love a game of cards – I should do it more often. I can’t remember the last time I played….


29 March 2009 (Sunday) - To Brighton

29 March 2009 (Sunday) - To Brightonmagnify

The clocks went forward today. Why? It’s not as though fiddling with the clocks makes the day any longer or not. The evenings might be lighter, but the mornings are darker. Those who work outside should merely get up earlier in the morning. And then later in the year the clocks go back which merely hacks off those who want it to be light in the evening. The actual amount of time that is daylight isn’t changed in any way by farting around with the clocks, so why do we still fiddle with them. After all, the technology behind light bulbs is getting on for a hundred years old now. It’s not as though creating artificial light is difficult. Perhaps there’s something to be achieved by going through the inconvenience of spending half the day putting all the clocks and timers right.

Off to Brighton for the Annual General meeting of the Brighton Kite Flyers. Yes – I know – my membership lapsed some time ago. But I keep meaning to re-join. Subscriptions are due in May, so I shall pay up then, Honestly!

The trip to Brighton is a pig of a journey, no matter what way you go. There are a range of cross-country routes, all of which take over two hours to cover a distance of about sixty miles. The motorway route is about twice the journey, and also takes a couple of hours. If only there was a decent coastal motorway. “Daddies Little Angel TM” was up for a day out to see her mates, so we set off for deepest Sussex. We had this plan to get Sunday roast dinner on the way. Whenever you travel anywhere on a Sunday, all the pubs have signs advertising Sunday roast for a fiver. Well, not today. We travelled for an hour and a half before we saw the first sign advertising a carvery, and seeing as by that time it was nearly 2pm, we stopped for some scoff. The May Garland in Horam is somewhere I’ve driven past many times, and in all honesty it is somewhere I shall continue to drive past.

When I have the car, I don’t drink at all. I stay on the coke. As we walked in I commented to “Daddies Little Angel TM” that it seemed odd going to a pub and not having a beer. I needn’t have worried. Six hand pumps – only one working. And that serving Harvey’s Best. Not a bad beer, but Harvey’s Best is to Sussex what MasterBrew is to Kent. You get it everywhere. The landlord ignored us as he watched sport on the telly, so we ignored him back again, and followed the barmaid’s instructions to find the food. We settled down to scoff. The good thing about arriving late to a carvery is they give you bigger portions to get rid of the stuff. Kate got given a slab of lamb which would feed our entire family, and still have enough left over for the next day. My beef was similarly humungous. But the veggies were a bit iffy, and the parsnips were drier than a dry thing. The puddings were OK, but merely OK. I shall slate this place on Beer in the Evening.

On reflection, I’m never happy to judge a pub harshly. But the beer selection was rubbish – there’s no getting away from that. The landlord simply couldn’t care less – that much was obvious. But the food was OK. It’s just that having become something of an aficionado of pub grub lately, I have had a lot of pub meals which have been a lot better. This place is a victim of the rising standards of pubs in general – it’s got a mountain to climb to reach the standard of the rest.

We arrived at the AGM with an hour to spare, and whilst Kate and Sabrina wandered off to explore the beach, I settled down and chatted with old friends. In years gone by I would have been rather vocal at a meeting like this – three years ago I was quite active in the politics of the world of kite flying. But now…. It’s not that I don’t care any more, it’s just that I’ve said my standard speech so many times I’m sick of hearing it. So I sat quietly. This time there wasn’t anything particularly contentious. The only time I felt myself biting my tongue was when the BKF’s magazine “Aerodyne” was discussed. It’s a quarterly publication, and I must admit I enjoy reading it. The problem is that with a membership of over a hundred people, less than half a dozen people regularly contribute articles to the thing. I submit maybe an article a year, and seeing how regularly I blog I could easily put in more. And shall do in future. But the rank and file membership don’t contribute anything. There was an overwhelming vote in favour of keeping the thing going, but the vote was from those who rarely actually write anything. One of the normal people got rather vociferous that he sent in something via email two years ago that got lost in cyberspace. And because his article never appeared, he’s never going to send in anything else ever again. And spent quite a bit of time saying as much.

I can remember the snake club magazine being much the same – we did a monthly rag – twelve sides of A5 that we struggled to fill. The latest edition of another periodical with which I am connected – the “Energize News” – is some two years late. And I have formally proposed that the Astronomy club doesn’t have a magazine for this very reason.

The business of the meeting was soon over, and we set about cakes. Always a good move. And then the raffle was called. Simon hit the nail on the head when he thanked people for providing the prizes. People come up with their unwanted rubbish, then are bullied out of good money to win that same rubbish back again. I came away with a mis-shaped kite winder, a bubble-blowing sword and a tub of pancake mix. “Daddies Little Angel TM” won chocolate biscuits and creme eggs. And some manky bowls too.

Goodbyes were said, and then home. Via Hastings to see relatives. I wish Brighton was closer. Or at least easier to get to…..


30 March 2009 (Monday) - A Waste of Public Money

30 March 2009 (Monday) - A Waste of Public Moneymagnify

A late start at work, so the morning was pretty much wasted doing laundry. Dull, dull, dull.

There was a near riot down the road from work today – it turns out that the Julie Rose sports stadium is threatened with closure. Personally my view was “so what – who cares”. It turns out hundreds of people care because hundreds turned up to protest the closure. and it would seem the protestors got a last minute victory. The local council is to take the place over.

I can’t help but wonder how much my council tax will go up, and how much the schools’ fundings will be cut to pay for this stadium…



31 March 2009 (Tuesday) - You-Tube and Haircuts

31 March 2009 (Tuesday) - You-Tube and Haircutsmagnify

You-Tube have got a cob-on with me. Well, to be precise, those people who own music copyrights have. Some of my best works of video art have had the audio disabled, some have adverts planted all over them, and in short have been stuffed up even more than they were already – my renditions of “Grace Kelly”, “The Shoop-Shoop Song”, “Birdhouse in Your Soul”, “The Time Warp” and “Blame Canada” are all gone. I honestly can’t see what harm they do – they’ve each had maybe a few dozen views each.

And it’s not just me – lots of other silly beggars who’ve made music videos have had their stuff pulled. Why? It’s hardly going to break the bank of any of these musicians. Surely the good will they would have generated would have been worth more than the bad feeling they’ve now stirred up.

Tuesday night is sci-fi night. The plot of the 4400 has taken a novel twist. Now members of the general public seem to be developing unique supernatural powers. Several of them, including “Gordon Collins” (you had to be there) seem to have the power to develop very bad haircuts on TV. Say what you will about Battlestar Galactica (and many people do), but A Cylon never had a bad hair day….