1 March 2012 (Thursday) - Bat and Bird Cake


Regular readers of this drivel will realise that I do the occasional oil painting. Regular readers of this drivel will also know that I make no secret that my inspiration is the late great Bob Ross. Having done a series link for his show on the Sky Plus box I have several dozen of his shows recorded to watch at my leisure. I usually watch at least one show every morning over a spot of brekkie. Bob always makes great show of how to create the illusion of mist in paintings; it's a skill I'm slowly acquiring. A lot of the problem I have with creating mists in my paintings is that I don't actually see mist that often to know what the stuff looks like.

I was in raptures as I got driven to Canterbury this morning. We drove the scenic route through the village of Wye and through several country lanes. As we went there was mist and fog everywhere. It was so pretty, and it was a lesson on landscape as well. If only every day could start so well.


Unfortunately the day failed to live up to its initial promise. I'd not slept well last night (there's a surprise!), and after a colleague told me about her three year old son asking for "bat and bird cake", I started remembering some of the antics of "Daddies Little Angel TM" and "My Boy TM" from twenty years ago, and I found myself getting quite soppy. Fortunately for me, no one else noticed. I soon got over it. I wonder what that was all about?

And so home again - no mists this evening, but it was quite good coming home in the daylight. And once home we did a catalogue drop. If any of my loyal readers would like the opportunity to purchase some rather wonderful household products at bargain basement prices, just let me know.


My mobile rang. it was Feargal from Vodafone. What network was my mobile phone with? Normally I'd tell cold callers to knack off, but they too are fighting for the buck (just like me). So I answered him. How much was I paying? What phone did I have? And all of a sudden he was chattering on about the new phone that I would be buying from his company at five pounds a month more than I'm paying at the moment for what I would consider to be a poorer phone. Poor Feargal seemed rather miffed when I told him that I wouldn't be taking him up on his offer. Or not so much miffed as affronted. To keep him sweet I suggested he contacted me when my phone contract was up for renewal in a few months time.

One of they joys in writing a blog is that I can find out all sorts of petty details; my contract will be up for renewal on 2 November. I thought it would be sooner than that...




2 March 2012 (Friday) - Chilli, Chat and Choons


Yesterday I waxed lyrical about the beautiful mists on the way to work. This morning the mists were somewhat thicker. Mist is pretty. Fog's flipping thick !!

I did work, and came home again. The journey home took ages - my mobile kept bleeping: offers of lifts for later in the evening and photos for CrackWatch. Once home I got changed and took up the offer of a lift. The clans were gathering: this time in Kennington.


The plan for the evening was Chilli, Chat and Choons. And we did all three. The food was excellent - the home made key lime pies were wonderful, the baked vegetable thingie was excellent. The chilli had chocolate in it. We spotted "Where's Wally", we chatted, exchanged insults.. it was a really good evening with friends (old and new). I had made a decision not to drink very much. I started off well with a tin of Tanglefoot, but the pint of 10% Belgian beer was probably a mistake. And the half a dozen Margaritas were definitely a mistake.

But the evening was really good - for all that I kept nodding off. We eventually left about 1am. Must do it again.


And I'll close today with an interesting statistic - there is ten times more money spent on ringtones for mobile phones than there is spent on research into sustainable nuclear fusion. One is giving you a silly noise to tell you that your mate has a new knob joke; the other will give humanity unlimited power to run those mobile phones. Do I have to spell this one out...?




3 March 2012 (Saturday) - Stuff



By the time we'd got home last night, had a shower and farted about, it was gone 1.30am before I got to bed. But I didn't mind. I know how my brain works, and with no need to be up early I knew I would sleep in.

Or so I thought. "er indoors TM" crashed to bed about 2am and woke me. "My Boy TM" crashed home at 3.30am and must have woke most of the county. I woke bursting for a tiddle shortly before 6am. "My Boy TM" quietly went for a tiddle at 7.30am. He then came back to bed "as quietly as a mouse" fifteen minutes later. Shortly after 8am next door's kids started shrieking for half an hour. At 9am "My Boy TM" started teaching elephants to tap-dance (I can honestly think of nothing else which would have made so much noise).

I gave up trying to sleep and got up.


I had my weekly weigh-in. I'm still losing weight, but at a much slower rate than once I was.. Where a few months ago I was losing three pounds a week, now I've only lost one pound over the last two weeks. Which is probably a far better rate of weight loss. "My Boy TM" asked if I wanted to go up to the town with him. I had some stuff to do in town anyway, so kissing "er indoors TM" goodbye, we set off. We popped round to the Fudgery where I wound up one of my grand-dogs, then we went into Ashford.

First of all to the Old-Bill-o-Drome. Following his getting caught for speeding last week, "My Boy TM" had to present all of his documents at the local cop shop. Doing so was much easier than I thought it would be. Paying a cheque into my bank wasn't so easy though. For some reason my bank have decided not to have counter staff on Saturdays, and I'm afraid to say that their automated systems aren't up to the demand. Paying money into the astro club's account in to the bank over the road (where they did have counter staff on duty) was so much easier. And I got to meet Denver from the astro club in that bank too.


"My Boy TM" was peckish - did I fancy a fry-up? Yes, I did. I've not had one since the diet started six months ago, so we went into The Gorge where I had the full English breakfast. I've since worked out that the brekkie was worth over nine hundred calories, but I did enjoy it. And as the rain started we then had a mooch round the shops..

W.H. Smiths was a disappointment. I have a voucher for that shop, and there was absolutely nothing in it that I wanted. If anyone wants to get anything from WH Smiths, why not give me cash that I can use, and you can use my voucher. We looked in the CEX shop for the "Sons of Anarchy" DVD boxed set. They didn't have it. Wilko's didn't have lighter fuel, and the poundstretcher shop didn't have any canvases. So we went to the milk shake shop where I had a cherry shake and "My Boy TM" had a creme egg shake and we came home.


It would have been good to have done something with the afternoon, but it was raining. So I slobbed in front of the telly for a bit whilst mucking about on Facebook. And once the rain stopped we went out and collected the catalogues we'd dropped on Thursday evening. A nice walk in the sunshine and a bit of exercise to walk of the morning's fry-up can't be bad. I then came home to spend an hour or so doing on-line surveys for financial gain. If you click on this link http://www.free20quid.com/r/1188086 and do the survey I get two quid, and you get twenty quid and the chance to invite others to give you two quids. Everyone's a winner. So please, loyal readers, click on that link. Go on - please do. Let's see how much cash I can get.


And then, being a Saturday night, it was film night. We got chauffeured round to the Chrisarium where we made ourselves comfortable and watched a Johnny English double bill. Rowan Atkinson was very good as Johnny English, but to my mind Johnny English is a very two-dimensional character; within the first ten minutes of the first film I think we'd seen all the film had to offer. And the second film was (in many ways) just a re-hashing of the first one. Very watch-able, but nothing special. Which was a shame. Mind you, they weren't long films. So once they were over we played with the model train set. We even had a head-on collision. Whoops....



4 March 2012 (Sunday) - Tardis-scapes



Bearing in mind how glorious it was last Sunday, I woke this morning with all sorts of plans for what we might do with the day. So much for my plans. Whilst the rain wasn't actually torrential, it was certainly bad enough to put the kibosh on any plans which involved going out of the house this morning.

So over brekkie I spent a few minutes playing on-line scrabble, then spent more time job hunting. Only a couple of hours today. Will anything come of it? I must admit I'm becoming rather disillusioned about the whole "change of career" idea. I've been applying for so many jobs for so long, and so far there's been very little to show for my efforts. I don''t actually dislike my job, and I work with a really good bunch of people. But there's no denying that I spend most of every day absolutely bored rigid.

Mind you, I did get cross with some of the web sites I used for applications today. Why do web site designers think that it's worth having all sorts of bells and whistles on a web site when all that they do is make a web page take five minutes to load when a plain text version would achieve the same result in five seconds.


We still had some catalogues to collect, so despite the rain we set off round the local roads to see if anyone wanted to buy our wares. One or two people were up for a bargain. Not as many as I would have hoped, but more than I might have expected. We came home and dried off, and I sold another painting - that makes five in total. And then I got my paints out and did some more painting. Badger Original Landscapes has developed two more bespoke lines. I now do mini canvases on easels; small paintings which are five inches by seven inches. Or seven inches by five inches, depending on the customer's preference. And the second line is something rather unique - "Tardis-scapes". "Tardis-scapes" will be just like any other landscape, but with a Tardis in there somewhere. I'm hoping to cash in on the sci-fi enthusiast market. I'm not entirely happy with how the first one has turned out, but then I am rarely happy with how any of my paintings ever turn out.


And then I went to the loo for the umpteenth time. I'm not blaming Friday's chilli or yesterday's fry-up. But something has upset my guts. The rumbling can be heard a hundred yards away, and the flappy-woof-woofs are quite rancid. I wonder what has caused the gastric distress - I wish I knew because I wouldn't eat whatever it was again...



5 March 2012 (Monday) - This and That



I woke up only a quarter of an hour too early today. Let's hope this is the start of something new and something good. And so to work. I popped into Morrisons to get petrol. They were two pence per litre cheaper than the Esso garage which was not two minutes drive up the road. What was that all about? How do these people stay in business?


This morning I had a phone call from a major international company. I'd applied for a job with them. Apparently one of the managers there recognised my name, and was wondering why I was applying for a job in the North of England. I explained that the job I'd applied for wasn't based in the north. After a few minutes of "oh yes it is", "oh no it isn't" the lady on the phone checked the advert. And then wondered out loud how they'd managed to make that mistake. It turned out that I was in with a better than outside chance; if only I'd been prepared to relocate to Northshire. Maybe in the fullness of time, but not right now, eh?


And then at tea break something happened which has never happened before. My Kindle flashed up a low battery warning. Low battery (!) The battery has never done that before. I'm quite impressed. And so, suitably impressed, I came home and set about ironing the family's shirts. A tedious job, but one which needs doing. Really I should look at getting new shirts; many of my shirts have an eighteen inch collar and at today's measure-up I found that I now have a sixteen inch neck. But with another inch having gone from my waist and hips today, I can't help but wonder how much smaller I am going to end up. After all, I have already bought one pair of trousers which are already too big.

And then the doorbell rang. Having seen what an amazing purchase a mutual friend had made yesterday, Sarah and Steve realised that they needed original artwork too. We chatted for a while, and then as Sarah and Steve set off into the rain with their latest acquisition, I finished off my ironing, and then settled down in front of the telly for the evening. "The Belles of St Trinians" made for entertaining viewing. And it's a sobering thought that the girls who acted in that film are now drawing their pensions.


And in closing today, did you know that we are now in British Pie Week? No? Neither did I. I rather naively assumed that British Pie Week was about increasing the public awareness and perception of the Great British pie. Perhaps it is, but having spent ten minutes perusing their website, I can;t help but feel that he whole sorry idea is just a vehicle for selling a certain brand of pastry.

Am I just getting cynical in my old age?



6 March 2012 (Tuesday) - Tree Huggers



As a paid up member of the Tree Huggers, I'm a bit miffed with them. Yesterday I found out via the astro club committee that they are having a stargazing event later in the year. And I found out this morning through Facebook that they are having a kite-flying event in a few weeks time. It would have been nice to have been told about these events from Tree Hugger HQ directly; I'm left wondering how many other events I might have missed. I would post a whinge on their Facebook page, but the last time I posted there (to report vandalism), my post got deleted.


Being rather bored today I spent a little while perusing various job adverts. I also spent some time revamping the covering letter I send out with my job applications. The new-look cover letter might do some good; it might not. Time will tell. It usually does.

I also added my father-in-law to my LinkedIn account. I must admit that I'm still undecided about the whole LinkedIn thing. I can only describe it as "Facebook for normal people". I am assured that it is intended for setting up a network of contacts for various professional matters. Hopefully it might be good for lining up a job: it don't hurt to try it. The idea is that you can recommend people's services: a shame I can't see how to actually do it.


Being Tuesday the clans gathered - this time at Chris's where, after exchanging a few insults, we watched another episode of "Being Human". For all that the basic premise is rather daft (a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost sharing a house), the show is getting really good.


And then home again where I played on-line scrabble. Possibly for the last time. The game has changed since yesterday - it now has pop-up adverts appearing every time I do anything in the game. Which is a pain, to say the least...




7 March 2012 (Wednesday) - Bargains


Yesterday I mentioned that I'd sexed up the cover letter that I send out with my job applications, and that I'd launched the thing into the Internet. This afternoon it seemed to have worked. I had a phone call from a recruitment agency. We chatted - the chap from the agency was impressed with me. He liked what I was saying. His only concern was that what I was saying wasn't conveyed by my C.V. Had I thought of having my C.V. reviewed by a professional C.V. writer? And before I knew where I was, the chap was asking how I would like to pay. He can go whistle.


And so home. Where it was obvious we'd had a visitor. All the lights were on, the telly was blaring, there was crockery and half-eaten food as far as the eye could see, and the floor was awash with dog biscuits. Just as I started to clear the mess, "Daddies Little Angel TM" burst through the door, complete with grand-dog Sid. She muttered something about tidying up, vanished upstairs for ten minutes and then said she had to go.


I walked up the road with her, partly to exchange insults with her chauffeur, and partly because I was going that way anyway. Mid-week is leafleting time; I had my sights set on Francis Road, and I delivered catalogues to the masses. Or most of the masses. I didn't bother with houses that had signs up saying that they don't want circulars. I had an interesting conversation with one of the residents. Having had one of our catalogues popped through his door, he stood in his garden and hollered down the road for me to come back and take the thing away. I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. The bloke looked just like Ned Flanders from the Simpsons, was trying to appear suave and sophisticated, and was coming over as some sort of half-wit. I politely asked if he didn't want the catalogue. He attempted to look down his nose at it, but merely looked like he was inspecting his moustache for fleas. I took the catalogue, and in parting I mentioned that it was a shame he didn't want to peruse the thing because he looked like he could use a bargain. I managed to keep a respectful tone, and I managed not to laugh at him as he began to bluster as I walked off.


If any of my loyal readers would like to avail themselves of some serious bargains, you might look no further than at the top of this blog entry. There's a box on the right, blue in colour, marked "Stuff for Sale". I may well be adding to my commercial ventures over the next few weeks, but there's one or two bargains there to be getting on with for the time being...



8 March 2012 (Thursday) - Ramblings


Having spent six months job hunting, it finally occurred to me that a family friend works in an employment agency. Iíd not seen her for a while, but she was the young lady in question when I was hauled into the school (many years ago) because "My Boy TM" had been doing snogging in the classroom rather than doing his lessons.

Weíve arranged for me to pop in to the agency for a chat when we can find a mutually convenient time (as Iím not the typical job hunter). Hereís hopingÖ.


Meanwhile I heard that science might have finally discovered the Higgs Boson. Having cost over six billion quid, after four years the Large Hadron Collider has done what it set out do do.

One canít help but wonder what science is now going to do with the Large Hadron Collider now itís found Higgs Bosons. I can remember (in years gone by) the fruits of my loin discarding their unwanted toys once the novelty had worn off. (In fact a humungous exhaust pipe which has been cluttering up my shed for the last few years springs to mind). However at six billion quid, this is rather a pricey novelty to have worn off. If science doesnít want its Large Hadron Collider any more, Iíll have it; Iíll sell the thing on eBay.


One of the members of the astro club sent me a message through Facebook this evening. Did I know when Mars would be visible when you would be looking in a southerly direction? I wish people wouldn't ask me questions like that. For all that I am a very visible and loud presence at the astro club, I don't actually know very much about practical astronomy. I make no secret of the fact; but everyone thinks I am joking. It can make for embarrassing situations. When I say I don't know my Castor from my Pollux, I'm not playing to an audience; I'm making a statement of fact.

For all that I know, Mars could be absolutely anywhere in the sky, and having eventually persuaded Neville that he'd be better off asking someone else (and pointing him in a couple of specific directions) the doorbell rang. My eldest daughter (!) had come round to collect a Mothers Day present. And being a very astute lady she'd decided to spend her money with Badger Original Landscapes. I wish more people would do the same.


I was rather disappointed not to have seen the Northern Lights this evening. With the general public in major panic because the Sun had exploded (apparently), all that we had to show for the explosion was some pretty lights in the sky. Or, that is in some skies. Not in mine. Which was a shame: realistically if Iím going to achieve things in life, I am leaving it all rather late. And in these austere times the only way Iím going to see the Northern Lights is if they come to me. Itís a shame that they didnít.



9 March 2012 (Friday) - Stuff


Being on a late today meant I got to have a bit of a lie-in. But only a bit. Itís always noisy on recycling day. The same dustmen who are really quiet on Wednesdays make a terrible noise on Fridays. Iíve complained in the past and have been told that they make the noise because they donít want to do the recycling. Iíd quite happily swap my current daily round for doing the recycling if any of them really donít want to do it.

And then the drilling started. For no reason that I can establish, workmen have started excavating the pavement just up the road from our house. And this morning they parked a lorry full of all manner of digging apparatus right outside the front of the house, climbed on the back of the lorry, and started banging various lumps of metal together. Probably because they could.


Yesterday I mentioned here about an exhaust pipe that is cluttering up the shed. Whilst I was having some brekkie this morning My Boy TM" came home; I harangued him about his exhaust pipe. Apparently heís going to sell it though Facebook since eBay is ďtoo much like farting aroundĒ. He then went to the shed to get out his fishing gear and realised why I was whinging about the exhaust pipe. There isnít very much room in the shed to begin with; and much of the space is taken up by a huge exhaust pipe. His huge exhaust pipe.


And so to work. A minor disappointment: I had been offered the chance to do two night shifts this weekend to help out because of the chaos which would have resulted from ongoing building works. Unfortunately the building works have been postponed, and so the chance of twenty-five hours work (paid at time and a half) has just gone up the Swannee. Which is a shame. Mind you I would have missed the Saturday film night, and missing that is never a good thing.


Meanwhile I bet this chicken has a very sore bumÖ.




10 March 2012 (Saturday) - This n That



We'd heard that there were all sorts of Wii-bargains to be had at giveaway prices at the toy shop in town. We'd heard that they were seriously cheap, so we decided to be on the shop's doorstep for when they opened at 9am.

We finally woke shortly after 10am, had a leisurely brekfast and thought we might try the toy shop later. I had the weekly weigh-in. Yesterday I was two pounds down on last week's weight; this morning I wasn't. So I cut the difference and claimed that I was a pound down. Having started the diet at eighteen stone nine pounds I'm now (about) fourteen stone five pounds. That's over four and a quarter stone lost, but (apparently) still another two stone to go until I'm no longer overweight. I am told that, in much the same way that ex-smokers become very militant anti-smokers, I am becoming a diet-bore. I probably am. But if one is going to lose weeight, it is a full-time committement. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)


My left knee still hurts. On Thursday morning I went to look at my pond, and slipped on the ice on the decking. Somehow I seriously ricked my kneecap, and two days later it's still rather painful. But regardless of the pain, I hobbled bravely to town. It made for a morning out. We went to that toy shop to look for the Wii-bargains. We were disappointed: all that we could find was standard-priced stuff being perused by the Great Unwashed. Literally unwashed. I had to leave the shop, the body odour was that strong.

We went into the pound shop as well, and picked up some bargains. I had another look at spending my W.H. Smiths voucher, but could find nothing I wanted. I suspect I shall end up wasting the voucher on something i don't really want. As I've mentioned before, if any of my loyal readers need anything from W.H. Smiths, please let me know and buy my voucher from me. (He grovelled)


And so home, where I did some more on-line surveys. I did get a bit cross with some of thes survey web sites. Every survey on every site asks my age, date of birth, gender and location (on seperate pages) before deciding that I don't qualify for that particular survey. All of the web sites have this information as part of my profile before I start each survey. I don't see what asking for this information acheives, other than wasting my time.

Mind you, I shouldn't complain. I get credit for doing these surveys. And today I cashed in some of that credit from one of my accounts, and hopefully a voucher for twenty quid for Tessco should come in the post in a few days. I intend to use that money to buy a pair of trousers that fits me.

And still on the theme of chasing that elusive dollar, regular readers may remember that last Wednesday I dropped off some catalogues in Francis Road. This afternoon we went back to collect them. We had a very good return rate, and one or two orders too. It won't make me rich, but it might keep the wolf from the door for another few days.


Being a Saturday night, we went round to Chris's house for film night. FIrst of all we watched "Real Steel" - a Disney film about boxing robots. I've seen worse films but I've seen a lot better too. And then we watched "The Three Musketeers" - it was (surprisingly) good fun. And I stayed awake for both films.....



11 March 2012 (Sunday) - Hythe (?)



It was gone midnight before we got home last night. "My Boy TM" had left some KFC on the table, so I scoffed it, and gave myself guts ache. I then tried to make sense of a load of really odd messages I had read on Facebook. Someone I had considered (for years) to be a good friend had made a posting on Facebook claiming that one of my muckers was being victimised by his circle of friends. It would seem that disjointed fragments of an idle conversation from over a year ago (which I can't actually remember having had) had been dragged up for no reason that I could establish, deliberately mis-represented, mis-construed and then blown out of all proportion. And somehow in all of this, I had become the villain of the piece.

Several people were on-line last night at 1am, including the victim and the person who'd posted the allegations. We got chatting. By the time everyone who was on-line at the time had all kissed and (seemingly) made up it was gone 3.30am. I then had a rather restless few hours in bed, alternating between feeling very sorry for myself because people seem to be so quick to think the worst of me, and feeling very sorry for myself because the warmed-up KFC had given me guts ache.

My phone started bleeping with text messages shortly after 9am, and I then spent the morning re-hashing the previous evening's squabbles with everyone who wasn't awake after midnight last night.


The plan for the day was originally to be a walk round King's wood, but "My Boy TM" suggested that there was a better walk to be had in Hythe. Not knowing Hythe very well, I was happy to go along with his better judgement. So seven of us (and a dog called Fudge) set off to Hythe. We drove to Hythe, and through Hythe and out the other side. Through Seabrook, and to the Folkestone Coastal Park. So much for Hythe.

But Folkestone Coastal Park is good. Littlun enjoyed playing in the park, and then we walked down to the harbour where we had cockles and whelks. (Yum!) My other grand-dog arrived (with his entourage), and we wandered back along the beach. Fudge then disgraced himself. Firstly by pulling "er indoors TM" flat on her face, and secondly by getting out his "lipstick" and attempting a bout of "the love which dare not speak its name" with his dog-cousin Sid. Sid seemed to accept the fact that Fudge was travelling on the other bus, but didn't seem overly keen on Fudge's physical manifestations of his intentions. Fortunately for all, Fudge's urges soon passed; it might be time to have his "pockets picked"?

Seeing the notices that children using the climbing equipment should be supervised, I took the opportunity to clamber all over, up and down the climbing frames with littlun until we were both worn out. As we made our way back to the cars we saw an area for barbecues.

We must go back to the coastal park one evening (mob-handed) for a barby.


And I came home to find that last night's squabble was still in full flow. I was soon messaging the person from whom all the unpleasentness originated via Facebook about the ongoing squabble. When I wondered how on Earth this sorry issue had been dragged up when it was all something over nothing, and had all been sorted out fifteen months ago I got told "f*ck off dave u two faced *ssh*le". Which was nice.

The victim of the piece was also on-lne. I told him about this latest development. He wasn't entirely surprised. And it would seem that I've finally solved the mystery of what the ongoing nastiness was all about.


It transpires that the whole sorry story had been dragged up by someone who delights in stirring up bad feeling. This person is known to have mental health issues and problems with alcohol abuse. And (ironically) is someone for whom I've bent over backwards to help and to whom I've opened my home so many times. Someone I iinvited along on a family holiday last year, and someone for whom I lined up cut-priced tattooing.

I realise that someone who reguarly eats the contents of the medicine cupboard and who has (on occassion) tried to overdose on birth control pills might not be in the most balanced frame of mind, and I will treat their opinions with the contempt that it deserves.

But through his drunkenness/mental illness/outright evil (I really don't know which) I seem (through no fault of my own) to have fallen out with one of my dearest friends.

I cannot forgive this person for having caused that....



12 March 2012 (Monday) - The Old School

I slept reasonably well last night Ė eventually waking at about 5.30am. I expect that this was due (in no small part) to the terrible nightís sleep I had on Saturday night. Wide awake and raring to go (!), I got up, abluted, watched a bit of telly and then set off to work earlier than usual. The boss has suggested that I try something newÖ

As an experiment I shall only work for three days this week; but they will be longer days with no lunch break. I will get all my working hours done in these three days. Everyone else has to do less early and late shifts this week, and I save the cost of two journeys (about fourteen quid). Everyoneís a winner. If it works, more people might take up this way of doing their hours.

I must admit that for years I have quite liked the idea of working fewer days in the week, but longer days. But the theoretical idea is rather different to the actual experience. Leaving home at 7am for twelve and a half hours of sheer unadulterated tedious boredom and then getting home at 9pm made for a long day. Mind you, with "er indoors TM" out bowling tonight, it wasnít as though I was going to miss much at home this evening anyway.


Yesterday I mentioned that Iíd had cockles at the seaside. As I scoffed them I half hoped that Iíd get squits, which would be good for both weight loss and a day off work. It turned out that I ended up egg-bound and spent the day feeling rather bloated (as well as bored); which wasnít nice (!)


Completely out of the blue I had an email though my work email account. ďBarrelĒ (who was one of my contemporaries at Hastings Grammar School in 1975) has started up an ďOld BoysĒ group on Facebook for alumni of our old school, and he wondered if Iíd like to join it. (I had actually already found and joined that list a week or so ago).

When I joined that group I saw some old acquaintances that I remembered, one or two people who wouldnít know me from Adam, and one chap whose eye I blacked for him in the early 1970s.


Do I want to be remembered by those that are left of class 1Z? (And yes Ė it actually was class 1Z!) ? Over the years Iíve made the effort to get in touch with those that I want to get in touch with. As for the rest? It might be good to chat about the old days, but I doubt many of them would remember me. I had some good friends at school, but as one of the schoolís non-sporty fat kids I joined in what I can only describe as an alliance of mutual self-defence with the rest of the halt and the lame. And as such we were generally shunned by the in-crowd. And I donít suppose anyone from that far back would recognise my pseudonym anyway.

Perhaps I should join this group under my proper name? It might confuse less people. I might just start up a Facebook account in my proper name that I could use for when Iím on my best behaviour. (I could use that account for people who donít know me).


As I came home this evening I looked for the spectacular sight in the sky, but couldn't see it because of the fog. And I had a sly smile at the thought of the new-age hippies who will be getting all of a quiver tonight. Venus and Jupiter are having a conjunction. Anyone whoís looked into the night sky recently must have seen the bright lights of Venus and Jupiter. Several people have asked me what the bright things are; and Iíve amazed myself by being able to answer.

Over the next day or so they will be very close together. It looks pretty, but as for any special significance of this conjunctionÖ well any significance which is assigned to conjunctions is a load of crystal balls. The bright lights might look close together in the sky, but that is merely an optical illusion based on our perspective. Far from actually being close together, one of those planets is five times further away from us than the other is.

Mind you, that doesnít stop the hippy-types assigning all sorts of meaningless significances to the conjunction...



13 March 2012 (Tuesday) - Another Tardiscape



Yesterday I mentioned that I was doing three extended working days this week. Today was one of my non-working days. It was an odd day. I tried to lie in, but I found myself far too hot, so I pulled the cover back a bit. Five minutes later I was too cold. So I pulled the cover back up and got too hot again. I spent half an hour alternating between shivering and sweating before giving up and getting up.

With little else planned I spent three hours perusing the Internet for jobs. I must have applied for fifty jobs, and have already been turned down for most of them. This job hunting is becoming profoundly depressing. But I did get two phone calls from the agencies, so the morning wasn't entirely wasted.


As my stomach started seriously rumbling I warmed up last night's left-overs and scoffed whilst watching a DVD of the Royle Family. Jim and Barbara were off on a holiday to the Pearl of Prestatyn, and Dave was in terrible trouble for driving in kilometres and for flirting with the sat-nav. I couldn't help but feel it was better that he flirted with the sat-nav than with Beverly Macca, but what do I know?

Whilst Jim Royle ranted I did some on-line surveys. It passed the time, and raked in a couple of quid. I don't get rich by doing these surveys, but it's a few quid in the back pocket I wouldn't otherwise have had. I've also been accepted as an on-line author: the plan is that people will announce subjects on which they want articles, and I (and others) will write articles for them in exchange for cash. In theory it's a nice little earner. In practice I doubt I'll get rich. But it might help to pass the time, and might take my mind off of fretting.


I then got my paints out and did another Tardiscape. I really need to sort out the photography I'm doing of my paintings. The paintings aren't that bad, but my photographs make them look really awful. Today I tried with different cameras, in different places, with and without flash; and the above piccy is the best of a very bad lot. ANd here's a thought: if any of my loyal readers want to surprise heir mother with a unique original present on Mothers Day this weekend, you might do a wholoe lot woprse than get them something from Badger Original Landscapes. There's stuff available from the gallery, and there's still time to commission something.


Being Tuesday the clans gathered. This time in Folkestone where we exchaged insults. My grand-dog Sid seemed to have recovered from the amourous advances of his dog-cousin from last weekend. Mind you, Sid was tooting like a thing possessed. Pausing only briefly to frape the Facebook account of the most recent fruit of my loin, we watched an episode of "Firefly". It was really good - it's ages since I last watched "Firefly"...



14 March 2012 (Wednesday) Ė Stuff



Hereís a thought. On the drive to work this morning I heard the news that sales of casserole dishes and stepladders are down. Seriously down. So seriously down that their sales have been removed from the official figures used by the government to measure sales of things like (but now not including) casserole dishes and stepladders.

There is speculation that todayís houses have lower ceilings and so do not require the use of stepladders. I wondered if, with the lower ceilings, one might obtain the same result one used to get from a stepladder by merely standing on a casserole dish. However that would not explain why sales of casserole dishes are down. Perhaps people arenít eating casseroles any more because itís not hygienic to use a dish thatís been used as a stepladder?


And so on with the second of my extended working days. My colleagues are watching my progress with this experiment with interest; some are very keen to work longer days (as I am doing this week); others are dead against the idea. For myself I am (so far) quite keen on the idea. Getting to Canterbury for 7.45am means that I miss much of the traffic that I encounter when I would otherwise leave Ashford at 7.30am. And leaving Canterbury after 8pm means that again the roads are clear. Fewer journeys with much less starting and stopping must be good for the carís fuel economy.

And the day itself? I used to blog elsewhere about work. I donít any longer. There are a variety of reasons for this; suffice it to say that my heartís not in it any more. I got to work at 7.45am, put a smile on my face (to fool the public) did my bit (and far more; I was that bored), and eventually walked out again over twelve hours later.

Regular readers of this drivel may recall that two days ago I mentioned that I was egg-bound. The highlight of my working day today was sneaking a crafty fifteen minutes for a ďKapow!Ēon the chodbin with my Kindle during the late afternoon. (I wonder if I should add the chodbin to the ďDramatis PersonaeĒ list which can be accessed above?)


Meanwhile kiddies of today would seem to have exactly the same problems with their fangs as I have. My teeth are rubbish, and itís commonly known that I am of a generation which ate far too many sweets, and the sugar has done for our teeth. Exactly the same is happening with the kids of today. But rather than having sugary sweets, they are having healthy fruit. ďHealthyĒ Ė perhaps not. The acidic juices and natural sugars would seem to be just as bad as the sweet that I used to scoff.

Now proven equally bad, given the choice of fruit or sweets I know what I'd have...



15 March 2012 (Thursday) - Laminate Flooring


Doing three long working days this week meant for another day off work today. Like Tuesday I had planned a lie-in, but workmen up the road started drilling shortly after 8am. So I got up, only to find "Daddies Little Angel TM" throwing dog biscuits all over the floor. Apparently the dog bowl hadn't been washed up. So I set her to doing the washing up and wished I hadn't: she used more washing-up liquid in one bowlful than I use in a month.

I checked emails over brekkie and found I'd been turned down for more jobs. I'm sure the agencies don't actually read my C.V. and covering letter: I'm sure they scan it and assume an awful lot about me. Perhaps another re-write might be in order.

I got dressed, and did another catalogue drop. it was a lovely day for it. And having spent half an hour doing that, I then went into the garden and mucked out the pond's fish poo filter. A smelly job, but one which needed doing. I should really have done it back when I turned the fish poo filter off back in the autumn, but such is life. And I continued in the garden with mowing the lawn and mucking out the back yard. The recycling had got rather out of control.

There are two schools of thought on the subject of recycling. One is that you gather together all recyclable material, and periodically take it to a central collection point. The other is that you open the back door and fling all sorts of rubbish out into a pile that you call "the recycling". I think we are subscribing to the wrong theory.


I spent an hour or so doing on-line surveys for (hopefully) financial gain, and then "My Boy TM" came home muttering about laminate flooring. Fudge and his entourage are moving house at the weekend and needed to lay a laminate flooring in the new residence. Having laid one such floor once (some five years ago) made me an expert on the subject, and so I was co-opted to help. I fetched, carried, sawed (rightly and wrongly), laid laminate, took up wrongly laid laminate and laid it properly, and generally helped out. Lacey's new bedroom is small, and it only took us a couple of hours to sort out the floor.

And so home, where "er indoors TM" was boiling up scran. She does boil a decent bit of scran. Whilst in the shower I noticed a very odd rash on my shoulder. I'm told it's from the heavy bag of catalogues I was lugging about earlier. Let's hope so.

We then scoffed said scran whilst watching a film. "In Bruges" started well, but dragged on a bit. It would probably have seemed a better film if I hadn't nodded off several times....




16 March 2012 (Friday) - Stuff



Can I start today with an apology to any of my loyal readers whoíve been waiting for me to do my turn in the twenty-odd games of on-line scrabble I have on the go. I tried to catch up with some of the games this morning before work. But now every game I try to play is delayed by a pop-up window. It stays on screen for ten seconds before I can close it. Ten seconds might not sound very long, but when you have far too many games on the go those seconds soon add up.

I am seriously considering packing up on-line scrabble because of these pop-up windows. So much for advertising (!)


And then to work - the end of the week Ė the end of the great experiment. Iíve just worked the same amount of hours in three days (Monday, Wednesday and today) that I would normally work in five days. Rather than doing seven and a half hours each day, I did twelve and a half hours.

How did it go? I liked it. What with chronic insomnia and getting to work early anyway to miss the traffic, the early start made no difference to me. And the late finishes? Er indoors goes bowling on Mondays and swimming on Wednesdays and flogs candles to the masses on Fridays, so I didnít miss much at home. And having days off mid-week gave me the opportunity to not waste my weekend in chores such as job-hunting and laundry and gardening, and gave me some quality time for doing some painting with the fruits of my loin. Alternating days off with days working meant that (oddly) I didnít have that ďMonday feelingĒ this week.

The boss has hinted that she thought it went well for the department (as no one wants to do the late finishes), so this might just be the way of the future. If so it might make getting to astro club tricky, but Iím sure I can sort something out once a month. After all, thatís what annual leave is all about.


My phone rang whilst at work. Stevieís phone had gone berserk and had randomly decided to phone me. Mobile phones do that Ė only the other day I had a rather bizarre text message from another friend whose phone had chosen to pick a random text message from its message history and send it to me. I do hope my phone doesnít feel the need to join in.


I feel the need to apologise for my ire, but this morningís news annoyed me. I see that the Archbishop of Canterbury is jacking it in, and is going off to run a university. I realise that I too am planning to abandon one career in favour of another, but Iím not an Archbishop. Being an Archbishop is something of a vocation: you donít pack up being an Archbishop and go and do something else instead. You either retire, or drop dead in harness.

Itís odd that as someone whoís not been active in religion for nearly thirty years I find that this story has actually rather wound me up.




17 March 2012 (Saturday) - The Pink Bunkadoo



I had been asked to help out at work on the night shifts last weekend. With major building work planned I would be needed to help out because of the ensuing chaos. But with only a few hours to go, the building work was cancelled, and I wasn't needed. The building work was postponed to this weekend, and again I was asked to go in for the night shifts this weekend. And again (with very little notice) the building work was cancelled.

I can't say that I want to be up all night long for two nights running, but there's no denying that the extra money would come in handy. And I'm now feeling rather messed about.


We had planned to go to Hastings for a family gathering today for Mother's Day. The plan was that we'd booked out a restaurant for a major gathering,but at the last minute the restaurant told us that they were operating a "first come first served" scheme. So, bearing in mind how long it takes us to get going in the mornings, we would probably be driving for an hour just to find that the place was full already. So we abandoned that plan.


After some brekkie we set off to the Fudgery. With the denizens of the Fudgery moving house, we'd volunteered to fetch and carry, lift and shift, give orders and drink coffee. I disassembled two beds, loaded the fragments onto the van (together with some wardrobes), got chauffeured round to the new Fudgery, unloaded, and then went back for sofas. We were told all manner of horror stories about how difficult it would be to get the sofas out of the house: we did it in less than five minutes. And with sofas delivered we went back for the fridge, the electric cooker, the washing machine, the barbecue and the garden slide before saying goodbye to Dave and his van. And as Dave drove off with his van we remembered the garden swing and all the other stuff for which we needed his van. Oh well,, such is life.


I then reassembled beds and wardrobes whilst "er indoors TM" plumbed in the washing machine. It's still leaking now. And having flooded out the kitchen, we left them to it and came home for a spot of lunch. I would have stayed longer, but all the fetching and carrying had been done. All that remained was the unpacking, and you can't really do someone else's unpacking for them.

Once lunched we popped into town (despite the rain), and did what we had to do. Being Saturday afternoon, on our way back we collected the catalogues I'd delivered on Thursday. And then went home. I was glad to get home. Two days ago I'd had a day off work. The weather was glorious. Today was cold, overcast and wet. So we spent an hour or so watching stuff we'd recorded onto the Sky Plus box. Whilst we did this I signed up with another writing website. The idea is that people will pay me to write blog articles. I signed up with another such website a week or so ago, and so far the generated demand for my talents has remained constant (!).


And then after a little while spent messing on the laptop we set off for the Saturday film night. First of all "In Time"; an almost watchable cross between Robin Hood and Logan's Run. And then a classic - "Time Bandits". I've not seen that for years -it's brilliant.




18 March 2012 (Sunday) - Angry Birds



Having come home late after the film night last night we were slobbing about watching telly when (at 1.30am) the door bell rang. There was a small army of police on the door step, complete with police vans. The lead copper looked me up and down and asked me if they were at the wrong address. Did we have any Romanians about the place? And before I could tell him that we didn't, all the coppers turned and wandered back to their old-bill-mobile.


With all the excitement of having had the law visiting I was left wondering who or what this Romanian had done to warrant so many coppers to come chasing him, and so I'm blaming that for my restless night.

I got up slightly earlier than I might have on a Sunday and did the weekly weigh-in .I did the weigh-in yesterday only to find my weight was unchanged over the week. I thought I'd try again today, and still no change. I suppose that holding constant is better than putting weight on, but there's no denying there is still quite a bit of weight still to be shifted.


I then got the laptop going over a sot of brekkie. Some on-line surveys, then I wasted an hour on the latest waste of time that is sweeping the universe - "Angry Birds". Like most games it is somewhere where you can lose hours, but I stayed there long enough to hand her "er indoors TM" her arse. Which was nice.

"My Boy TM" came visiting with a wodge of tulips for his mummy, and seeing it was Mothers Day we set off to Hastings to do the filial thing. The mother-in-law was on holiday, but my mum was home, so we popped in for a cuppa. We exchanged insults, and I tried on a suit. My Dad had found a suit he hadn't worn for ages, and was wondering if I was now thin enough to fit into it. I'm not quite thin enough yet.

Then we went on to visit my sister-in-law. We hadn't seen her since her wedding at New Year. We keep saying we should meet up more often. We should do, but never seem to get round to it. And so home via Tesco's (which I've never know to have been so cold), and then we quickly went round the block collecting catalogues and orders.


Tea, and as "er indoors TM" set off bowling I settled down to do some more job hunting. Or that was my intention. I set the washing machine going and thought I'd spend just five minutes playing "Angry Birds". Three hours later I was still catapulting birds about...

And then the reason that telly was invested - "Upstairs Downstairs" - it gets better and better...



19 March 2012 (Monday) - The Olympic Flame



It was a clear night last night. Or so I read on a friendís Facebook status. I should really have taken my telescope out and had a look at this and that. But I couldnít be bothered. When you think about it, astronomy is a rubbish hobby. You either can't see anything because it's too cloudy, or you lose the enthusiasm to look at anything because its too cold. And why shiver when the Hubble telescope is in orbit taking better pictures than I could ever get?

I expect the clear night accounts for the thick ice that was over my car this morning. It wasnít anything a bottle of cold water couldnít sort out, but it was a pain having to sort out the bottle of cold water.


Work was dull. I sat quietly for much of the day whilst blokes far younger than me talked at length about their plans for this year for their allotments. Allotments(!) I suppose if one enjoys a hobby, then the enjoyment is merit enough for that hobby. But I for one still canít shake my life-long conviction that gardening is either an old manís hobby, or a necessary chore. Thereís no pleasure to be had from it for me.

Talking of things with no pleasure in it for me, I spent an hour this evening applying for various jobs. I must admit that one of the most annoying adverts on telly at the moment is (for me) the advert for reed.co.uk. Some hip young thing is singing about "Love Mondays". I don't, and am rather jealous of friends of mine who seem to do so. I hope something comes of all these job applications soon.

I see that the route of the Olympic flame has been published today. And I see that the flame is coming to Ashford on Wednesday 18 July. And itís not just coming to Ashford: itís coming right past my front door. I had half a plan to take the day off work to watch the thing come past. Bearing in mind the chaos that ensued when the Tour de France came past a couple of years ago I either need to have the day off work or be on a twelve hour day on the day in question. I suspect all traffic movement around the town will (again) be stopped for a whole day for something which will be all over in half an hour.

I mentioned this to "er indoors TM" who seemed very enthusiastic about the whole idea, so we've decided to make a day of it. If any of my loyal readers fancy taking the day off work for a once in a lifetime event, why not come and shout "Woo Hoo" from my front garden... and bring a bottle of beer and something for the barby as well....



20 March 2012 (Tuesday) - Chilli


Regular readers of this drivel must have realised that there are several things about this life which boil my piss. Today Iím going to rant about my duvet.

Every night when I clamber into my pit I arrange the duvet neatly and tidily over the bed. When itís time to get up in the morning I canít actually get out of said pit. Instead I have to untangle myself from the miles of duvet which have migrated in my direction overnight, wrapped themselves around me, and have attempted to smother me. Ďer indoors TM has maybe six inches of  duvet cover, and I have several yards of the thing round my arms, up the wall, over the floor  - all in my way as Iím trying to get up. How does it get there? Bring back blankets Ė you canít go wrong with a blanket.


To work (dull). Yesterday I mentioned that I was planning to shout ďWoo HooĒ as the bearer of the Olympic torch will run past my house with the thing in a few monthsí time. So today I put in for the day off. It looks like quite a few other people have had the same idea. Oh well Ė if I donít get the leave I might just have more reason to sulk about the job. And I donít really need any more of that.


Yesterday I mentioned that Iíd applied for some jobs. Today one of the agencies rang back. They seemed very keen about my chances with one of the positions Iíd applied for. Hereís hoping.

And a CV writing company phoned. Theyíd offered a free appraisal of my C.V., so Iíd sent it to them. They wittered on down the phone for quite some time without actually saying anything; then announced that their next step would cost me over three hundred quid. I told them it wouldnít, and hung up.


 And being Tuesday the clans gathered. This time in Cheriton. Weíd not been to Paulís before, and he did us proud. An excellent chilli, and weíd not laughed so much in ages.

Really must do it againÖ.



21 March 2012 (Wednesday) - Guts Ache


Last night I had a wonderful time with wonderful company. And thereís no denying that I ate and drank far too much. When I came home my stomach was definitely suffering from overindulgence. And it carried on rumbling and complaining most of the night. In retrospect I can see my mistake. I had far too much of the rice, and washing it down with three beers didnít help. The beer made the rice swell up, and that was what made it hurt so much. I came home last night and went straight to bed. I didnít even pause to write my blog last night. And that is quite unlike me (!)


As well as having a serious guts ache, I woke this morning with such a hangover. One bottle of spitfire and two (small) bottles of San Miguel, and I felt like death warmed up. Over the last few months Iíve certainly suffered whenever Iíve had a drink. Perhaps I should give it a miss from now on?

I gradually became more human over a spot of brekky, and having been inspired by Bob Ross I set off to work. It was a foggy morning; I couldnít see more than twenty yards through the fog. And so many people were driving at break-neck speed with no lights on their cars. Idiots!


Today the chancellor of the exchequer announced his budget plans for the next year. It seems heís bashed the rich to give to the poor. In this new era of austerity, I might (just possibly) have benefited. I say *might* - I suspect I havenít. Itís been my experience that what the government give in a budget with one hand, they take with the other. Any bung I might get from raising of tax thresholds will be more than wiped out by the summerís rise in fuel duty. But am I downheartedÖ


Yesterday I mentioned that a C.V. writing company had phoned me. Today another one did. I was expecting the worst, and was about to tell them to get knotted when it suddenly became very clear that the chap on the phone had actually read my C.V. He had a useful suggestion. And another useful suggestion. He talked for about half an hour. He wasnít surprised that Iím not having much luck with my job applications because he felt the C.V. I was submitting was rubbish.

It turned out that my C.V. was little more than my previous job descriptions. Anyone could have done that. What I should be doing in a C.V. is saying about what skills Iíve got, and how I apply them. I should say how I do what I do, not what I do. So Iíve done (yet another) major C.V. re-write. Hopefully some of my loyal readers might give it the once-over and offer their sage wisdom before I try the new C.V. out in a day or so?


And in closing, it's Smarden duck race in a couple of week's time. If you're up for it, let me know...



22 March 2012 (Thursday) - Last Will and Testament

I woke this morning to see a missed call on my mobile. "Daddies Little Angel TM" had called me at silly o'clock and I'd clearly slept through the call. Suspecting the worst (why else would she phone at silly o'clock), but suspecting her to be asleep at 5.40am, I sent a text message, and spent an hour worrying. Eventually I got a text back apologising for the call. She'd been randomly pressing buttons and had called me by mistake.


To work (dull), and home again. I met up with an old friend on the way home, and spent half an hour chatting about this and that. And then I spent a few minutes delivering catalogues to the masses. I do hope the masses want the bargains I'm unloading onto them.

Eventually I got home to find that the most recent fruit of my loin had visited today. All my moaning, nagging and whinging about the dog biscuits has done some good as she's obviously swept up errant bonios. Mind you the cereal bowls, cups of tea and human biccies were still strewn everywhere.


The phone rang. It was some bloke from Trust Inheritance. Had I thought about making a will? Yes I had. Would I be wanting to make it soon? Yes - I should do. Why didn't I take advantage of the special offer in which I could get a will drawn up for only sixty-five quid?

And then that's when it all got a little nasty. I asked why I should pay up sixty-five quid when I was quite capable of writing down my own instructions, or finding a will template for free on the Internet. The answer I got was a lie. The bloke on the phone told me that paying cash for his will made it a legally binding document. A home-made one (apparently) wouldn't be legally binding. What rubbish. If you write a will, then that's it. It's your will regardless of anything. And if anyone wants to contest it, then they can contest it, regardless of how much wonga you might have paid for the will.


So here's my will. If I croak first, "er indoors TM" gets the lot. If "er indoors TM" has already croaked when I kick the bucket, then all is shared equally between the fruits of my loin. Seems quite straightforward to me...



23 March 2012 (Friday) - A Lazy Day


A very late start at work today gave me loads of time to fiddle about. I started with the (now seemingly obligatory) hour of applying for jobs which I don't have a hope of getting, and them I mowed he lawn. In the past I've never done anything in the garden before Easter. This is the lawn's second mowing and Easter is still two weeks away.

I then tided up general mess (I knew him when he was a corporal!), and then looked at the bike shelter. With the aid of "My Boy TM" I built a shelter for the bikes a couple of yeas ago. Those years have been hard on the bike shelter - it's collapsed. I've covered the bikes with some tarpaulin, and if any of my loyal readers are feeling particularly good at handicraft, feel free to give me a hand rebuilding the thing.


"My Boy TM" then had a flying visit. He was sniggering about the misfortunes of my grand-dog Fudge. Being a dog of base instincts (and a rather handsome dog too), Fudge had taken out to stud this morning. He seemed quite enthusiastic about the idea, but when push came to shove (to coin a phrase), he couldn't find the right (or any) hole. After half an hour the attempt was abandoned. I did laugh. I doubt Fudge did though.


Over a spot of lunch my phone rang. An employment agency had seen my C.V. and thought I was quite suited to one of the vacancies they had on their books. Did I have any sales experience? I mentioned the commercial ventures outlined above on this very blog, and the nice lady from the agency nearly tiddled her knickers in excitement. And she went on to tell me that I really should include them on my C.V. Which was completely at odds with the formal C.V. advice I received earlier in the week when I was specifically advised *not* to mention "Badger Original Landscapes".

This is the problem with writing a C.V. - what one person feels is good, another hates. But the nice lady has asked me to re-write my C.V. and email it to her for Monday morning. I can do that.


At 2pm I went to bed; hoping to sleep for a few hours. I lay awake. Wide awake. At 3.30pm I gave up and got up again. I expect later when I want t be awake I shall be nodding off. If only we had switches and timers so sleep wasn't such a vague quantity.


And so, at 7pm, to work. Two weeks ago I was offered two nights overtime at the weekend because of the chaos which would ensue because of building works at work. Half way through the preceding Friday the building works were postponed for a week.

And so last weekend I was offered two nights overtime because of the chaos which would ensue because of building works at work. And again half way through last Friday the building works were again postponed.

In theory the building works are to take place tonight and tomorrow night. Will they actually go ahead this time? I've had no phone calls to say that they won't. Let's hope they are going ahead. Because I shall be claiming for a night's overtime whatever happens...



24 March 2012 (Saturday) - Viccy Park




Last night I'd volunteered to do the night shift because of the mayhem that would follow because of the building works that were scheduled to take place at work last night. I suspected the worst as I arrived at the hospital grounds: as I drove in, so the builder's van drove out. I went in to find not a builder in sight. Fortunately the boss had given me other jobs to do overnight as well as generally chipping in where I could. Unfortunately I finished the jobs she'd given me within a couple of hours. I was rather miffed. Having been messed about for the two previous weekends and having trashed my plans for this weekend, there was no way I was going to come home and give up the overtime. So (being an industrious soul) I found some other jobs that needed doing, and kept myself busy all night long.
It was odd: during the evenings at home I am always dropping off. Being at work I stayed awake all night without a problem. And when the day shift came in I gave the shift leader an earful, and instructions to let me know if I would be needed tonight. I would rather not go in if I can avoid it, for all that I need the wonga.

As I walked to my car, so the contractors arrived. I (politely) asked them what they were playing at. They were quite happy and told me that he works were scheduled from 8am this morning to 8am tomorrow morning. Oh well. A night's money is always useful. And as I got home so my mobile rang - it was  the shift leader confirming that I was needed tonight.

I went to bed and slept for about an hour or so, and then lay awake wishing I could sleep more, and got up about mid day. Over a late brekkie I perused Facebook, and then went over the road with the offer of a cup of tea. I'd noticed a bus on the pavement over the road from us. It had clearly broken down, so we wondered if the driver would like a cuppa. He was grateful for the offer, but had been to the corner shop for refreshment already.
We left him awaiting the recovery vehicle, and wandered to the park where we met up with the denizens of Queen Street (what a wonderful street name!). We spent a pleasant afternoon at the park, playing with the kiddies on swings and roundabouts and zip lines. Viccy park is a far better place than people give it credit for, and it was good to see it being used by so many people. It was a glorious day, with the sun shining, daffodils out, and people picnic-ing, playing games, and generally enjoying themselves. I can hardly believe that only six weeks ago we were sledging in that same park.

On the way home we picked up catalogues dropped earlier in the week, and came home to find the broken bus was still where we'd left it. And then I slobbed in front of the telly, sulking about the thought of having to go to work. Over the last few months I've really come to see the Saturday film night as one of the week's highlights, and really resented having to miss the gathering tonight...



25 March 2012 (Sunday) - Folkestone Warren



Went to work last night, did the night shift. It wasn't exciting. Mind you I did regular night shifts for twenty years and they never were exciting. Best described then as hours of boredom interspersed by moments of panic, in the intervening years it would seem that nothing has changed. I've always said that I don't mind night work. I don't, but I really have to qualify that statement. I don't mind the actual night work itself, but I hate spending the day before the night shift sulking at the thought of having to do the night shift. It's never anywhere near as bad as I expect it to be; I just resent the fact the I have work to look forward to. I'd rather get up each morning and go straight to work.
Having done my second twelve and a half hour shift this weekend I came home, shaved, was in bed by 9am, but was wide awake, up and raring to go by 11.30am. I was up long before "er indoors TM" this morning, who is fast developing her late Grandmother's nocturnal lifestyle

The clans gathered, and we set off to Folkestone's East Cliff where we looked at the battleship moored just outside Folkstone harbour. I have no idea what a naval ship was doing off of Folkestone. If any of my loyal readers know, please tell me (because I'm nosey like that).
We met up with more of our number and wandered down to the beach and along the warren. It's odd: it can't be more than three years since I went to Folkestone warren for the first time, but I would have to say that it is one of my favourite places to be. We wandered along the coast in the sunshine. There was a minor panic when grand-dog Sid started limping. Close scrutiny of his paw showed he'd trodden on a thorn, and with the thorn pulled out, he was back to his usual self.

I've since been told that we walked about five miles today; I think that's a fair estimate. It was really good to get out and about: I must start doing it a lot more now that spring is here. There's another walk planned for next weekend, and a bike ride in the not too distant future. If any of my loyal readers would like to come along, please drop me a line.

And so home where we quickly zoomed round the roads collecting catalogues before having a very rushed bit of tea - the clocks going forward an hour last night had thrown us somewhat. And with "er indoors TM" off bowling, I slobbed in front of the telly for a bit. There  was a documentary about Sandhurst  (the military academy) which was rather interesting. One of the instructors interviewed described the place as "Hogwarts with guns". And then two episodes of "Outnumbered", and the season finale of "Upstairs Downstairs". I did like that show. I don't know what I shall do on Sunday evenings from now on...



26 March 2012 (Monday) - Stuff



Regular readers of this drivel must get fed up with reading about my nocturnal habits. But last night was a novel break with tradition. I went to bed about 11pm, and slept for eight hours. Eight whole hours: it must be years since that last happened. In retrospect I suppose that only having had less than eight hours sleep from Thursday evening to Sunday evening must have had some bearing on the subject. Being on a late start this morning I lay dozing, and finally emerged from my pit when one of the employment agencies rang me about a possible opening.

Once roused I had brekkie, and then wasted an hour playing ďAngry BirdsĒ before setting off to work. I went a rather scenic route this morning. Firstly via the farm shop where the posh people were out in force (and looking down their noses at me!), and then via Dunelm Mill where my piss boiled. I wanted a couple of small canvases for some painting ideas I have. But could I get to the craft section? There were about twenty to thirty people in the shop; all utterly oblivious of the fact that anyone else was trying to shop there. They were all wandering about blindly, all getting in everyone elseís way, blundering into merchandise, displays and each other. What should have taken thirty seconds took me quarter of an hour by the time Iíd navigated my way through the swarm. At the till I loudly suggested to the assistant that they should have a sign on the door warning shoppers that other people were in the store; that the store catered to more than one customer at a time. The nice assistant laughed Ė she knew exactly what I meant.

And so to work. Dull, as always. However the monotony of the day was broken up somewhat by the seagulls. They were attempting to do unspeakable acts to each other (the beasts!), using the departmentís windows in order to get some purchase. Iím told that this is the time of the year for unspeakable acts; and itís only natural. I canít condone such immorality. Personally I feel that if I donít take a moral stance, who will? Certainly not the seagulls.

And after a dull afternoon, and an especially dull evening I came home. With "er indoors TM" out bowling I had run of the house, and do over tea I watched a film. "Essex Boys" is good viewing, and as an added bonus River Soong from Doctor Who flopped out her jubblies. You can only have so much of a moral stance....



March 27 2011 (Tuesday) Ė Chilham



Another good night's sleep, which was a good start to a mini-holiday. I have the last of my annual leave to use up. In retrospect, given the choice I wouldn't have worked last weekend and I wouldn't have worked yesterday. But I wasn't given the choice.

It was a shame that having forgotten to set her alarm for the last two working days, "er indoors TM" forgot to turn the thing off for this morning, but despite being on holiday I had to be up promptly this morning. One of the employment agencies wanted to have a Skpye-interview with me this morning. Oddly enough it's years since I last used Skype: not only did I have to install all of the software again, I'd forgotten all my account details and had to set up a new one. And so I found myself sitting on the sofa in shirt, tie and pyjama bottoms at 9.30am waiting for a call. It's years since I last had a Skype call - I was wondering exactly what was going to happen.

Perhaps I should have had a practice call with someone beforehand. I must admit to feeling rather unprepared for the skype-interview. Normally I over-prepare for this sort of thing. But this agency only contacted me half way through Friday, and had suggested some major re-writes to my C.V. By the time I'd done two night shifts and my usual busy weekend, I didn't have much time left for re-writing C.V.s. I spoke with them yesterday morning, and it was then they mentioned about Skyping. Perhaps I shouldn't have played "Angry Birds" yesterday before going to work.
For some reason the agency phoned me on my mobile this morning to see if I was ready for Skype, and the actual call started five minutes later than planned. We chatted for quarter of an hour; the interview seemed to go well. Mind you they always do. It's how well everyone else's interview went that counts.

We then had a minor disaster: as "er indoors TM"  was pegging out the washing, so the washing line snapped. Over the winter the rope has become so brittle I can snap it with my bare hands. Really easily. Fortunately there was some rope left in the shed: hopefully that will last the summer. I know I'm getting really mean in this new world order of austerity, but every little helps. And following on from yesterday I played "Angry Birds" for an hour whilst waiting for "er indoors TM" to get a shift on.

And then on with the business of the day. To Chilham for a walk. We followed footpaths and bridleways and the south stour walk through some beautiful countryside. It was a lovely day to be out and about, and we had a really good picnic in the sunshine. After an hour and a half we had made our way down to Godmersham where I was amazed to find the community hall had been demolished. Bearing in mind that I drive past the place every day, it can only show how observant I am. And then we made our way (in a circular route) back to where we'd parked the car. In total we walked for three hours. And now we know the way, this would make a good walk to do mob-handed over the summer.

Back home, where "My Boy TM" was in residence. I asked if he was busy. He wasn't. I asked if he fancied finishing off the tattoo he started on my leg on March 2nd 2011. He said he did, and he did. And I realised why I'd waited a year to have the tattoo finished. Oh, having tattoos hurts. I like the finished product; I really don't like having them done.

And then, being Tuesday, the clans gathered. Round to Matt's where we admired his progress with his railway, and then watched an episode of "Being Human". It just keeps on getting better...



28 March 2011 (Wednesday) - More Stuff

After a spot of brekkie I went off to see a counsellor. Bearing in mind all the unpleasantness of the last year, my new boss felt that seeing a counsellor might help me. Not wishing to appear negative I thought I'd give it a go.

We met in a darkened room (which I didn't like), and she asked me what had prompted me to seek counselling. I told it like it was. We chatted for a bit; and the counsellor felt that I might benefit from writing down what had happened, and my feelings about the matter. So here we go.

I made a mistake at work last year for which I was demoted. I've since been moved to a job twenty miles away at half the wages I was on; having to say "Yes Sir" to people half my age that I once trained. The fact that the mistake I made was something I'd predicted and had made plans to avoid was deemed to be irrelevant. as was the two-inch thick defence document I produced, and the signed testimonies from many of my colleagues testifying to my competence and ability.  A formal hearing decided against me.
I appealed the decision - there was a second hearing at which I received a character assassination. It transpired that there were two possibilities to explain my mistake; either the mistake was made because of the systemic reasons I'd outlined, or because of the "fact" that I am careless and irresponsible. Despite the evidence I supplied and the evidence of signed affidavits from those who've worked with me for years attesting to my competence, those who don't know me from Adam decided I must be rubbish.
I suppose that (over the years) I should have copied everyone else and cowardly kow-towed to top management, rather than actually speaking out when need arose. But it's too late now. What's done is done. And here I am. Worrying myself sick about money, but realising that things could be an awful lot worse. Admiral Byng was in a not entirely dissimilar position two hundred years ago. Despite those who understood the situation speaking in his defence, those in authority had him shot (pour encourager les autres, to coin a phrase).
The counsellor then asked what I hoped to get from the counselling. I said that I'd like to stop worrying about things that are beyond my control. Her face lit up at that - she had some"strategies" that might help, and next time we might investigate those.
Perhaps I should give this counselling a chance. Perhaps I'm not the kind of guy who blathers platitudes. But I do need to stop wallowing in self-pity. To be fair to myself I'm doing it less and less with time. I expect I shall get over it.

And then to Tesco. Over the last few weeks I've been doing on-line surveys and my Tesco vouchers (as a thank-you) arrived. So I went to get some trousers that actually fitted. Tesco's didn't have much choice - they now seem to be  geared up to shorts rather than trousers, but I got a pair. The last set of trousers I bought was a forty-four inch waist; today's was a thirty-eight. Which is a positive thing I suppose. I shall tell the counsellor lady about it next time (!)

The sun was shining, so I bombarded Bond Road with catalogues. And so home -  "Daddies Little Angel TM" was home with Sid. She was tidying the kitchen; which was another thing I should be grateful for. And as she carried on tidying, I got my painting stuff out. Not oils and canvases this time: fences. The front garden fence needed doing. Over the years I think that rain water has got into the fence paint: it did seem to be rather runny. But I got the fence done. And then I got the bikes out from under the tarpaulin I'd bodged over them and pumped up their tyres in readiness for next week's inaugural cycle ride.

The phone rang. Someone with  the thickest Indian accent you ever did hear (claiming to be called Michael) was ringing to sort out my PPI claim. That was nice. It was about the loan I'd taken out in 2003, but for security purposes could I tell him who I'd had the loan with. Bearing in mind that this was an unsolicited cold caller and I had not taken out any such loan, I called his bluff. I told him that if he was truly working on my behalf he'd know who my loan was with, and he could tell me. Michael was quite adamant that I had to tell him, and he actually kept talking over me every time I asked him who this loan was with. In the end I shouted at him. I told him to actually close his mouth and listen. He shut up. I told him that if his company wasn't a bunch of con men he would tell me who this supposed loan was with. And failure on his part to tell me that information was an admission on his part that he was a con man. That foxed him. He still refused to tell me what company he thought I'd taken a loan from. He did give me three possibilities, and would I choose from one of them. Needless to say I'd not had a loan from any of the companies he listed. Therefore this bloke was a con man; and he was in the embarrassing position of being unable to deny the fact.

I spent the rest of the afternoon designing a website for a colleague. I wonder if there might be any mileage in "Badger Web Designs"? And then, being the last Wednesday of the month it was arky-ologee club. Tonight was billed as members talks. We started off with the club's youngest member talking about William Shakespeare. Young Anthony is over thirty years younger than the club's second-youngest member, and he gave a really good talk. Wayne then spoke about the bronze age horde he found a few months ago, and the evening was wound up with a talk about the pubs of Ashford; illustrated with bottles and flagons from the local inns and hostelries from two centuries ago.
That's two consecutive meetings of the arky-ologee club that have been worth going to.



29 March 2012 (Thursday) - A Birthday



Despite being on holiday, I was up rather earlier than I would have liked today: it was the carís MOT & service, and so I had the car round to D & D autos and I was back home and playing ďAngry BirdsĒ before 8.15am. I wasted a few minutes with ďAngry BirdsĒ before setting out again: this time to the dentist. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that a few weeks ago I gave up half a dayís leave to go to the dentist because I chipped a tooth. At the time the dentist seemed rather disinterested, and said there was no cause for concern. Today he took loads of photographs of the damaged fang, and told me I needed to make appointments to get the fang fixed. Why couldnít he have done that a few weeks ago?
Mind you, the nice dentist did remark on how svelte Iím looking. I got on the scales this morning and saw Iíd lost another pound.

Back home, where I carried on working on my colleagueís web site; and then gave Badger Original Landscapes an overhaul. Donít forget, loyal readers, that your friends and loved ones would far prefer to have a painting than chocolate this Easter (!) And then I had a go at the monthly accounts. They could be a lot better, but thereís no denying that they could be an awful lot worse.

I then spent a little while fiddling with the ďDates for the DiaryĒ section of this blog. After a few minutes I found out how to export my Facebook events into my Google Calendar. That should make it much easier to keep the ďDates for the DiaryĒ section up to date. Whilst I was at it, I created two more events for the next few weeks. In April weíll have a walk round Aldington, and in May weíll go back to Appledore and Stone in Oxney. I toyed with the idea of setting more dates. After all thereís a walk round Pluckley and a walk round Chilham to be done. To say nothing of walking round Teston and even returning to Capel. But itís still only March. All sorts of things might get planned in the meantime.

My phone rang - my car was ready for collection. Would I like them to send a courtesy driver to collect me? Yes please. The driver was with me very quickly, and four hundred pounds later I had my car back. Four hundred pounds!!! I didn't cry, but it was close.

And then to Folkestone to celebrate a birthday. Chinese for scoff, and then an evening exchanging insults. And in a novel break with tradition the birthday boy gave me a pressie - a binatone tablet PC. ANd then whilst girlie-types gossiped, the blokes fiddled with tablet PCs. Because we could....



30 March 2012 (Friday) - Another Birthday


Have I ever mentioned that I dabble in oils? I've been watching Bob Ross on telly for years, and about ten years ago a colleague told me about art classes in the Bob Ross style. The first Bob Ross style painting I ever did was of some trees in a field with a footpath and some mountains in the background. That painting still hangs in my mother's hallway. It's not particularly good; at the time I thought I could do better and since then (without wishing to sound conceited) I have. Since then I've painted all sorts of scenes and landscapes; but I still like the simple concept of that first painting, and from time to time I've gone back to it and tried to do it again.

Today I returned to the theme for the fourth time. I quite like the red sky and the mountain - a mountain without snow isn't something I've tried before. The trees are OK - for all that I tried to keep them simple, they could be better. And the painting has a fence in it. Just lately I seem to like fences in my paintings.

I'm quite pleased with the finished result. And (like all the paintings I do) it's available to buy....

Whilst I was painting my mobile rang: one of the employment agencies had a vacancy that might interest me. We chatted - the vacancy did interest me, and my C.V. has been forwarded to the employer. Will anything come of this? Here's hoping.
And then a C.V. company phoned. Unlike the last lot, this lot had no advice to offer; they were just trying to extort money from me. They failed.

Painting was all done by mid day. I watched a film, and dozed in front of the telly until the first fruit of my loin (and his entourage) came to visit. They weren't here long, and when they went they asked if I wanted to go with them - apparently I looked bored. I must admit I was rather bored. I've nowhere to hang another painting and I'd done all the on-line surveys that were available. I would have gone with them, but the Rear Admiral was on the way.

He arrived, and after I boiled up some scran we collected Stevey and set off to the astro club. Tonight marked the club's fifth birthday. From a shaky start, the astro club has really come on in leaps and bounds. Tonight's talk was about the Moon landings, and was really good. We had cake with tea, and then we had a really good telescope session: I got to see Mars, Venus and Saturn. And I've decided that I really should get my telescope out more often...



31 March 2012 (Saturday) - Tintin


There's no denying that by the I'd sorted out the money from last night's astro club meeting it was rather late - by the time I crawled into my pit it was gone 1am. I was pleasantly surprised to find that (again) I slept though till 7am. I had a tiddle, thought I'd go back to bed for a few more minutes, and woke up at 10.30am.

The first fruit of my loin was grumbling - his 10.30am appointment hadn't turned up, and he wasn't happy. It must be a disappointment when your 10.30am doesn't show; it certainly was for him. He also had words to say about the workmen up the road. they would seem to have returned, and were making "bear racket". For those of my loyal readers who (like me) require translation, "bear racket" is not some form of ursine sports equipment - it is actually excessive noise. One lives and learns.

I then went out and collected the catalogues I delivered on Wednesday. We got most of the catalogues back. And at half the houses there was the catalogue I'd delivered as well as an identical catalogue someone else had delivered. The trouble with flogging Kleeneze is that there is no co-ordination between agents; no one has "a patch". It's a total free-for-all. there are (at least) three people operating within walking distance of my house. We need to find an area where there is no one doing this caper.

We then delivered last week's sales, and went up to the town. I had the proceeds of last night's astro club meeting to pay into the bank. Between membership renewals, tea money and a rather lucrative raffle there was over three hundred quid to go into the bank. I suppose that if the worst comes to the worst I can always embezzle the astro club funds. Mind you, if I'm going to embezzle the astro club funds the best time to do it would be whilst I had three hundred quid in used notes in my hand; not after I'd paid it into the bank and need two other people's signatures to get it back out again.

We then carried on wandering round the town, but I couldn't get home quick enough: it seemed to be "National Take Your Screaming Brat to Town Day" today. Ashford was awash with screaming, howling, whining horrors. Finishing off the shopping came as a blessed relief.

And so home, where I slobbed in front of the telly for a while whilst surfing the net on my laptop. I tried touting the painting I did yesterday on some local Facebook selling pages. I didn't shift the thing, but my beloved managed to get herself a free haircut from Facebook. It's amazing what you can do on social networking. And then the Bat arrived and treated us to a visit to Nandos to celebrate there being a "y" in the day. I'd not been to Nandos before. It's quite good.
And then, suitably replete, the clans gathered for the now traditional Saturday film night. First off we watched "Tintin". The animation and graphics were excellent. And then "Justice" with Nicholas Cage. A film which was surprisingly good.....