01 Movember 2008 (Saturday) - It Rained
The original plan for today was a lie-in, but as the girl due to be working this morning had pranged both her car and herself, I spent the morning at work. Which was rather dull. But today we did miss the usual “Saturday Morning Irate Patient”. Having been given a form for a blood test which clearly gives the times at which a blood sample can be collected, there’s always one who turns up when he’s been told not to, and then gets cross about it. I’m not sure whether that’s better or worse than another old standard trick that we get a couple of times every week. Most people manage it without problems – you come to the hospital with the blood test form the doctor’s given you. You follow signs to the blood test room and wait your turn. Easy! But a couple of times a week, people will get such a form for a blood test and rather than do what the instructions on the form say, they will fill a jam jar with their own urine, loosely do the lid up, sellotape the blood test form to the jam jar of tiddle, and then leave said jam jar laying around in some random place in the hospital. You have to laugh. You’d cry otherwise.
I had a phone call from “My Boy TM” – he was in the fish shop and was talking about buying another sturgeon. Instead he came home with a fish tank. I’m looking forward to seeing how that progresses.
The plan for today originally featured a trip to Tenterden for a bit of a mooch, a bit of a pub crawl, and then the bonfire procession and firework display. But since it poured hard all day, that idea was put on hold. Me and ‘er indoors TM watched “Casino Royale”, and I was pleasantly surprised. I gave up watching James Bond films some time ago, as if you have seen one, you really have seen the lot. But this one was different, didn’t follow the standard “Bond formula”, and now I actually want to see the one at the cinema. Or this is I will do until I have the entire synopsis told to me several times over the course of the next week….
Don’t forget – start growing the moustaches….
02 Movember 2008 (Sunday) - Swimming In A Duck Pond
Students of naval warfare may well remember the Battle of the Duck House. Happy days. Somewhat more recently, regular visitors to the blog may remember the entry for September 20th when that duck house was removed from its pond for refurbishment. The plan was to put the re-fitted duck house back in place a week later, but as always, God laughs when we make plans.
So here we were six weeks later. Back on the farm with a refurbished duck house. Whilst those whose duck house it was decided where it should go, I chatted with an old friend. “Ugly Sheep” is a daft animal who doesn’t realise he’s supposed to be scared of humans. Whilst the rest of the flock charged away in terror, “Ugly Sheep” trotted up to me when I called him, and I patted and fussed him in much the same way I would a dog. He seemed to like it, and he posed to have his photograph taken. Dozy beast(!)
And then to work. The duck house was to go onto a different pond which wasn’t quite as accessible as other ponds are. I was originally under the misunderstanding that you just chuck a duck house into the pond and that’s it. Job done and off to the pub. But it’s not that simple. The thing has to be tied in place or it will just float to the side of the pond where the rats and mice will invade it. So you need to find two suitable anchoring points to which to secure the duck house. There was one obvious easily accessible candidate tree, but the best tree to use as the second anchoring point wasn’t so easy to get to. Well… it was dead simple to get to really. Some people are so negative and ready to quit at the first obstacle. Next time I might listen to them.
Getting to the tree was easy. You just scrambled over a barbed wire fence and there it was. But then the pond wasn’t quite so accessible from that angle as there was a thicket of brambles and a six foot sheer drop to the pond to negotiate.
This was just another example of the veracity of one of my most tried and tested maxims. Today was a triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense. Having climbed over the barbed wire (with minimal damage to goolies) and secured the rope to the tree in question, I carefully negotiated my way through the brambles, elegantly descended the sheer drop to the pond and gracefully swam over with the end of the rope.
I love writing a blog. It’s so easy to type about “carefully negotiating brambles”, “elegantly descending” and “gracefully swimming”. Since there were witnesses to the episode who may well blab, perhaps I had better elaborate on the episode. Now, (it has to be said) the brambles did rip my legs to ribbons. And there are those who would cast aspersions on the elegance of my entry into the water. And (in retrospect) I think the slight chill of the water actually put me into clinical shock. I’m told my breathing went very fast and shallow and I went a rather strange colour. To be honest there was a dodgy moment half way across the pond when I felt my heart going funny and I honestly thought I was dying from hypothermia, But then I reasoned that I was on the end of a rope, and if I did “go west” the people on the other end could pull me to the shore. And up a six foot slope. And through the brambles. But fortunately for the ducks I made it across with the rope.
There are those who would question the wisdom of swimming in a duck pond in November, but if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and after a whole load of farting around the duck house is in place. I think it looks very good. Apart from the ropes that haven’t yet sunk. If they are still floating in a week or so, I’ll attach some lead sea fishing weights to sink them. Or maybe I’ll wait till next summer when it’s warmed up a bit. I’m told that the thing will need a further refurbishment in a couple of years. We’ll worry about that when the time comes, eh….
Oh – I don’t think the icy waters did my moustache much good….
03 Movember 2008 (Monday) - Another Day in the Life
Whilst quietly getting on with the million and one jobs that is expected of me at work today, it was announced that the first load of visitors had arrived and were ready for me. Nobody had told me it is National Pathology Week this week. It’s amazing what you miss when you’re not paying attention.
Perhaps I was thinking about the sponsored event at the time. Moustaches are now on to Day Three, and so far money pledged to our charity totals £45. Not bad for the first day of touting for trade. Especially when you consider that there’s not a lot to see. What little there is can be seen on Facebook.
And talking of Facebook, it’s amazing how stupid some people can be. You don’t use it to tell the world that you are pulling a sickie. Perhaps I might use that to check up on those that phone in sick……
04 Movember 2008 (Tuesday) - Then and Now
As the world goes crazy as to who will be elected the next president of the US, I for one am left wondering what difference it will make to me. Very little, I expect. In the wake of all the hype and furore about the election, something actually important - the realisation of working “Star Trek” – type shields has gone totally unnoticed by the world at large. Which is a shame.
Today we had a visitor at work – the chap who
was my old chief in the histology department in
Oh – and the moustache charity fund is now over the £60 mark.
05 Movember 2008 (Wednesday) - A Trip to the Cinema
Seeing how today is “Orange Wednesday” we thought we’d take advantage of the opportunity for cheap cinema tickets, and so off we went to watch the latest James Bond film. It must be over two years since I last went to the cinema, and I can see why. It will be two years before I will want to go again.
On the one hand it is quite spectacular seeing stuff on the big screen. And it has the advantage that seeing a film immediately when it is released makes it difficult for the well-meaning to tell you what happens. But on the other hand, you are herded in like sheep with hundreds of “normal people”. Getting to and from your seat is problematic, to say the least. You may well have some prat kicking the back of your chair the whole way through the film (like I did tonight). The refreshments are overpriced to the point of farce. And the adverts. Good Grief!! Over half an hour’s solid adverts. That alone has put me off going again for some time.
The film – it was good. What happened was….. As I said last weekend, up until the last Bond film, they were all the same. If you had seen one, you had seen the lot. But in the same way “Battlestar Galactica” has been remade better, stronger, faster, the Bond films would seem to have had a similar remake. “Quantum of Solace” is very obviously a sequel to “Casino Royale”, and I have only one criticism of it and that is…. something I’ll discuss personally with my loyal readers once they’ve seen the film.
So this week I’ve seen two excellent Bond films. One in my own house, seen in my own time with the company of my choosing and at minimal cost and maximum comfort. The other one was vastly overpriced even with a 50% reduction, and was watched in discomfort with the hoi polloi. One can understand why people download dodgy copies to watch at home. It’s not just the cost that you might want to avoid.
In other news my colleagues have decided that my so-called moustache is actually a rat which I have trained to cling to the bottom of my nose and to hold on very tightly and very still. They have a name for the unfortunate rodent – it apparently goes by the name of “Chip”. There are those who might see a certain elegance in that.
Oh – and the moustache charity fund is doing better than I’d ever hoped. The sponsor form at work is now well over the £70 mark, and today has seen the first on-line donation (Cheers Guy). It’s easy to donate on-line, you know…
06 Movember 2008 (Thursday) - An Afternoon Off Work
The morning’s meeting was soon over, and I’d booked the rest of the day as holiday. This washing up and ironing doesn’t do itself, you know. I now have the kitchen sink cleared and both the washing and the ironing all done. I bet the dirty laundry basket is overflowing again by bed time. These long winter evenings just fly by…
Once the laundry was done the plan for the afternoon was for a quick bit of scoff and then to put the finishing touches to the presentation I’m doing for the astronomy club in a few weeks time. In practice I scoffed the scoff and fell asleep in front of the telly. Something at which I seem to be getting very good these days.
However, once awake I did some enquiries about this weekend. “This weekend?” I hear some of my loyal readers ask. Three years ago for my post graduate certificate in reflective practice I had to keep a year’s diary (which concentrated mostly on work related stuff). At the end I made a list of my year’s top ten events. Rye Bonfire Parade came in at number 9 of the year 2005-06. Anyone who’s been keeping up to date with my life through this blog would realise that ninth place is quite respectable, bearing in mind the competition. Never a dull moment being me…. well, there are an awful lot of dull moments which usually involve laundry and washing up. But I try to compensate for them.
Anyway – this coming Saturday: For getting to
Talking of going to the pub, regular readers may well remember previous rants I’ve had about the Campaign for Real Ale. On September 6th I ranted about the rubbish pubs that were listed in the Good Beer Guide for this year. My local branch has already made their nominations for next year’s Good Beer Guide. They made them yesterday. In Tenterden – that place which is so easily accessibly by public transport. I phoned the Kent CAMRA office to complain and got politely told to suck it up and get on with it. I joined CAMRA at the Canterbury Beer Festival in 2001, and since that time the local branch has only ever contacted me once a year. I’ve checked their website regularly, but they meet in the most obscure places. It’s as though they don’t actually want people to come along. They make these awards to “Pubs of the Year” and put pubs into the Good Beer Guide, but don’t ask 95% of their membership for their opinion. But enough of my whinging about them - I have resigned. I say “resigned” – but that word implies that there was something I did for CAMRA that I shan’t do any more. All I’ve ever done with them is to give them money. But not any more – I’ve cancelled the direct debit.
07 Movember 2008 (Friday) - Music
In my time I have hob-nobbed
with the famous. I once went carol singing at the house which was once owned
by the drummer who played for Hazel O'Connor. I've shouted at (and been
ignored by) the bloke who played Sulu in "Star Trek".
I’ve leered lustfully at Ms Brighton and have sniffed around Elizabeth Sladen. I’ve got incredibly drunk with a chap who claimed
to have slept (platonically) in the same bed as the fit bird out of Transvision Vamp. I have sold greetings cards whilst
stood next to
Today I can add to my list of lames to fame. I’ve upset Mika. How did I do that – I see one of my better You-Tube efforts has been pulled.
And talking of music – tonight we went to
Oh – and the moustache charity fund is doing better than I’d ever dared hope. The sponsor form at work is now well over the £80 mark, and all sorts of people are taking a sponsor form to their places of work (Cheers Dan’s Mum). You can also donate on-line, you know…
2008 (Saturday) -
The morning was spent alternately looking out the window and checking the weather forecast. But would rain actually make any difference to the plans? Bonfires had been built, fireworks had been bought and barrels of beer had been organised. All was in readiness regardless of the weather, so at 2.30pm the “advance party” set off. Ashford International railway station was crawling with police for no adequately explored reason, but generally as is the case with plod, if you leave them alone they’ve normally got someone else to bother.
The train journey was quite fun. For the first part of the trip we shared a carriage with the Potato Brothers. An intellectually challenged pair who owe their family name to the fact that they had heads that looked like potatoes. One of them seemed quite distraught due to the fact that “Ee was in my face”. I never did elucidate who “Ee” was, but the other Potato brother vouched for the fact that “Ee” had been warned by ten different people not to get in the face of the first potato brother. Bearing in mind the fact that they were rather an ugly pair I can’t imagine anyone wanting to get in his face, but such is life.
I was filled with a sense of disappointment when the Potatoes got off the train at the first stop. But nil desperandum (as the dead Romans used to say) – their place was taken by “Junior Chavette” who spent the journey from Ham Street to Rye phoning up everyone and anyone to lambaste them about not coming out in the rain. One potential suitor was given quite serious grief about not wanting to “get his ikkle head wet”.
We cheered at the bonfire procession,
attacked a certain pair of Cliffe Bonfire Boys with said pink light sabre, oo-ed and aa-ed at the fireworks, and all too soon it was
time to go home. Via a café which was selling chicken curry and jacket
potatoes. Very tasty(!) Having scared the nice ladies on the train, I
suddenly realised that I’d somehow managed to lose everyone else (It’s amazing what happens when you’re
not paying attention), and Brian and I popped into the
Same time next year……
09 Movember 2008 (Sunday) - Another Wet Sunday
It really is amazing what happens when you’re not paying attention. Despite “Daddies Little Angel TM” being accosted by a drunk on the way home, and “My Boy TM” having no recollection of the night whatsoever, I think it’s fair to say that (all things considered) a good time was had by all last night. It was also the first time for absolutely ages we’ve been anywhere as a family.
This morning’s haul of emails brought a missive from one Ignacio Fry who claims to be “probably the horniest girl you will ever meet”. Well, from his/her/its website he/she/it seems to be a rather grim-looking boiler. For only one dollar I can get to see him/her/it totally naked. I wonder if he/she/it realises there’s plenty of that nudey caper on the Internet for free?
I realised today that what with all the rain we’ve had, not a lot of water has come down from the holes we drilled in the guttering a few weeks ago. The reason was simple – the holes had blocked up with mud. That’s something I’m going to need to keep an eye on, otherwise the leaking roof will get worse. Mind you, there’s an easy fix. I just opened the bedroom window and had a poke around the hole in question with a coat hanger. Water soon flooded out.
Talking of water, together with ‘er indoors TM I had a look round the fish section of “Pets at Home”, and then spent most of the rest of the day killing things that were infesting NeverWinter.
I must admit to feeling a sense of being at a loose end now that Rye Bonfire Parade has been and gone. The year has certain milestones, and fireworks are one of them. The bonfire season is now pretty much over and done with, and there’s not a lot on the agenda before Xmas.
Or is there? Next weekend I understand I’m
being “Bob the Builder”, and there’s an evening of astronomy. A week
or so later I’m talking to the astro club about
Mars. Then there are a couple of Xmas parties (including one at home and
10 Movember 2008 (Monday) - Moustache Update
Yesterday I mentioned an email from one Ignacio Fry who claims to be “probably the horniest girl you will ever meet”. Today I received one from Ferdinand Hahn who asked me to “do me how I like it from the back”. Interestingly both Ignacio and Ferdinand have the same web site. Or at least claim to. This evening I came home to find Kent Nichols is also touting the same email filth. I suspect shenanigans!
The moustache is now one third of the way through its lifetime. I hate the thing with a passion. Heaven only knows what possesses anyone to keep one of them as a pet. One of my deputies went hysterical when he saw it this morning. I’m glad he was amused. I just frighten myself when I see it in the mirror. Last week opinion was unanimous that I looked like Captain Mainwaring, but over the weekend Rene from “Allo Allo” was suggested. Today Ned Flanders has been bandied about. My only consolation is that it’s all in a good cause; with money pledged now well over the hundred pounds mark. This evening saw my second on-line donation (cheers Colin). Did I mention you can donate on-line,…
11 Movember 2008 (Tuesday) - Stuff
German Rich emailed me this morning. He/she/it has offered to do something quite unspeakable to me. I see he/she/it shares a web site with Ignacio Fry, Ferdinand Hahn and Kent Nichols. At first sight you might wonder why they do it – apparently these spammers only get lucky once in every twelve million emails, but even with a low success rate it still would seem to be more profitable than the way I sell myself every day.
Sometimes I despair about the future of humanity. In a desperate bid to battle obesity, rather than giving families bus passes, fat families are to receive financial incentives to walk their fat brats to school. However on the other hand was the news on local radio this morning that local councils are planning to refuse licences to roadside cafes that don’t offer a healthy alternative to the burger. The radio program had interviews with café owners who were up in arms. If there was money to be made from salads, they’d be making it already. They felt they are being forced to get in stuff that wouldn’t sell and would be costing them. Understandably so. If the good lord had intended us to eat salad, why did he make animals out of meat?
Moustache update (I hate the thing so much!) – Two new names have entered the “You look just like…” list – Hercule Poirot and Groucho Marx. I was actually aiming for Oliver Hardy. But despite a load of banter about cod flavoured Pizza, this evening’s Tuesday evening had a decent bung to the sponsorship, and you can still donate on-line, If you want to chart progress of the offending growth, you can see the album here.
12 Movember 2008 (Wednesday) - Dull
“My Boy TM” would seem to have vanished – I’ve not seen him for days. I wanted to quiz him about the fact that where he works is in the news. Apparently the chap who runs the café has been done it. Dodgy!
It was cold this morning. Apparently that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Without global warming, we’d be enjoying an ice age. Keep burning those fossil fuels!
13 Movember 2008 (Thursday) - Computers
When not on a late start, I get in to work far too early for several reasons. To avoid the rows at home between two of my favourite ladies who aren’t “morning people”. To be able to get a parking space. To have time for a brew. To have a crafty surf on the internet. To get done all sorts of various tasks at work for which I otherwise don’t get time. But above all, because I choose to. I must admit to being somewhat miffed to find the bosses called a meeting today an hour before my official start time because “I’m always in anyway”.
Today had something of an I.T. theme. On the one hand a rather minor interface was set up, tested and worked fine. (It’s the small victories that make it worthwhile) On the other hand there is the on-line ordering system. In the bad old days I’d scribble on a scrap of paper that I wanted dangerous chemical from the dangerous chemical company and a few days later they would arrive. Now it’s all been automated, and now I fill in an on-line form for dangerous chemicals. The automated system first denies all knowledge of said dangerous chemicals. Then it emails one of my deputies to tell her I’m trying to spend government money, and would she reprimand me for doing so. Then it emails another deputy to ask her permission for me to have the things I’ve ordered. Then it emails me to tell the supplies department that they can order the stuff. What once took five minutes now takes half a day. That’s computers for you. And then data capture….. rather than reading people’s writing and copying it into a computer, that too has been automated. You can clearly read “John Smith”. Well, I can clearly read “John Smith”. The computer can clearly read “sdjhfgs ~!~!2 ffdfg #1”. But I keep smiling. It’s in my job description.
Since I was actually doing work an hour early at someone else’s behest today I came home an hour early. It’s odd, but there are more parking spaces down my road at 5.45pm then there ever are at 4.45pm. I came home to find “Daddies Little Angel TM” had been doing art – making prints from wood carvings. I was impressed.
Moustache update (Seventeen days
until I can scrape the thing off!) – One of the junior staff from another
department asked for a private word with me today. She felt she needed to
tell me how awful the moustache looked. Bless her! Finally
I got compared to Oliver Hardy today. And an email from the astronomy club
asking about the pornstar who’s joined the society.
(Did you know there is a wrestler called “Pornstar
14 Movember 2008 (Friday) - Harry Potter and Belly Dancing
We watched the latest Harry Potter film last night. If you’ve read the book, it would be one of the best films you’d ever seen. If you haven’t read the book, you’d be wondering who 90% of the people were, what they were, where they were and what they were doing. For example, who was the weird teacher with the odd glasses? Who was the git with the white hair? What was all that about with Kreacher? And what was Helena Bonham-Carter (WOOF!!!) up to? It’s a classic “film of the book” – a very good film of the book. Provided you know what’s happening before you start, it’s a really good film. Which, to my mind, makes it a rubbish film.
And so to work – today is “Children in Need Day” – a rather lame excuse for people to come to work dressed stupidly and piddle about because it’s all for “charidee” without actually sorting out any money for said “charidee”. I was summoned into another department today where the staff had arranged for some scantily clad nurse to belly dance at me. It has to be said I have seen foxier. (In the mirror!) I told her I’d stick with my moustache and wandered off. I had work to be getting on with – I’m a busy man! Now if it had been Helena Bonham Carter in the belly dancing kit, I might have shown more interest.
And then home – I found I could translate Facebook in to “pirate”. Which I did. And then translated it back. Because “pirate” was lame. These long winter evenings just fly by….
15 Movember 2008 (Saturday) - Conservatories, Astronomy
I have a theory about my insomnia. I only seem to spend most of the night awake when I’ve set the clock radio alarm. If I’ve set the alarm on my mobile phone (which is rather gentle), or if I have no alarms set, I seem to sleep alright.
To Walderslade to build a conservatory. I’m not sure how or why I got co-opted into helping with the job. Don’t get me wrong - not that I minded at all. It was good fun; I enjoy helping out with DIY projects but in all honesty if I was choosing people to build a conservatory, I’d be rather down the list of people I’d get to do the job. Whilst I can fetch and carry with the best of them and I can do “holding things steady”, that is pretty much the full extent of my practical expertise. When we arrived the lower parts of the walls were already built. Our job was to get the windowed sections and the framework for the roof in place. And basically that’s what we did. I say “we” – I just fetched, carried and held things steady. You can see piccies of the event here. And for all that it was a cold day in November, I caught the sun. My face is quite red and glowing.
Back home in time for tea. On Facebook I learned how to become a fan of celebrities. Why is it that Goddess Anthea Turner (WOOF!!) only has twenty six fans whilst Brian Blessed has over four thousand.
And then a knock at the door – they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and “Biggles” Fernandez had arrived in time for the evening’s fun. The astronomy club had arranged (some months ago) to have an observing session with the Friends of Kings Wood. The plan was to meet up at the car park in Kings Wood at 7.30pm from where we would have an evening’s stargazing. The backup plan was to meet in a nearby village hall for an informal chat if the weather was against us. Four of us arrived at 7.25pm to find the car park deserted, but we had fun star-spotting – the night was so clear. We even scared off one car full of doggers – I did laugh. But by 7.45pm I thought it odd that no one else had arrived. So we went to the village hall which had been booked to host “Plan B”. The village hall was full. I’d got the time wrong. If we’d arrived when we were supposed to have been there we would have found a cloudy sky, which was why everyone had adjourned to the village hall. We arrived in time for the end of the chairman’s informal presentation, and we then spent half an hour outside spotting stars and the moon through clouds.
All too soon it was time to pack up. Whilst others set off for the Saturday night film show I realised that I had the opportunity of having the house to myself. And when such an opportunity arises, I take full advantage. With a “Red Dwarf-a-thon” on the telly, I spent the rest of the evening doing everyone else’s ironing……
2008 (Sunday) -
I had a theory about my insomnia. With no alarms set last night and no need to be up early, my theory predicted I would have a good night’s sleep. However I was wide awake sorting laundry at 4am. Perhaps I need a new theory?
Yesterday Chippy asked if we fancied going
shopping with him – he needed a new seedy rack. He specifically wanted one
from the “Benny” range. (Each to their own). So, to Pikea
for a mooch. Pikea at
The next stop was Costco – another strange place. It’s not strictly open to the public. You have to be a member and pay for the privilege. But membership would seem to be open to pretty much anyone what wants to stump up the requisite fee. There were one or two bargains to be had, but the price advertised was the price before VAT – the actual price was somewhat less obvious. In these warehouse-type shops you feel that you’ll get bargains, but in many ways they are a trap for the unwary. I was keen on getting some shirts until I realised they were four times the price of what I get in Matalan. The electrical goods didn’t look to be much cheaper than elsewhere, and the vintage port, whilst elegantly boxed, was more expensive than Tesco. If you’re very cagey about what you buy you’ll not be the loser. But if you figure in your petrol money and how much you value your own time, you’re probably better off shopping locally.
I was also disappointed to see that Borders bookshop had gone. That was always somewhere to visit, but not any more. Which is a shame…..
17 Movember 2008 (Monday) - Globe-Trotting
An email this morning from Marguerita who claims: “I have seen your add and I think that you are a very interesting person. So I decided to use the chance to get to know you. Hope I will be lucky:-)” I can’t help but wonder which “add” she has seen – it’s some time since I last tried to flog anything on eBay, and nothing else springs to mind. She goes on to say “The only one I miss is a beloved person and I want to have a family”. Well, whilst it has to be said that I’m lovely, she’s obviously overlooked the fact that I had my bits cut off ten years ago. so she’s not going to get lucky with me. Which is a shame. She ends by saying “I with impatience will look forward to hearing from you, as you have very much interested me.” Not wishing to disappoint her, I’ve stuck her email address into my spam filter. It might be harsh in the short term, but it will be a kindness (all round) in the long run.
I can’t help but feel that Marguerita has lost something in translation. It’s amaziong what goes on in the rest of the world. Whilst
mooching through some of my favourite web sites last night I found that some
friends have recently been to the Komodo National Park.
Komodo – where the dragons come from. Whilst it’s quite a way away for me,
it’s not that far from
Sometimes I think I should travel more. I didn’t go abroad at all until I was into my mid thirties. Apart from kiting, scouting and work-related trips (which someone else would have organised for me) I can only recall going abroad once. And that was a day trip to Cite-Europe. My international trips so far have been:
It’s not much, really. And those places I have
gone to I’ve either been busy doing work stuff or up to my eyes organising
cubs. And although the kiting trips abroad have been really good fun, if
you’re not careful it’s very easy for the international festivals to become “going
to a kite festival” rather than “going abroad”. Which is why I
enjoyed our “going native” when we went to
I’d like to go back to the places I’ve
visited and play at being a tourist there. And there are other places I’d
like to go to. I’d like to go to
I might go round the world one day, but I can’t see it somehow….
18 Movember 2008 (Tuesday) - Easy Money
This morning’s email wasn’t smut-related,
which makes a change. Instead, Amazon (dot co dot
And I see that petrol isn’t as cheap as it might be – and it’s all someone else’s fault. Oil prices have fallen by fifty per cent. Petrol prices by ten per cent. Apparently it’s all the fault of the US dollar being worth a lot more in pounds sterling than it once was. Isn’t there something morally wrong with the entire global currency market? How is it that people make a living by selling ten pounds to buy polish zlotys, selling the zlotys to buy roubles, selling the roubles to buy dollars, and then selling the dollars to buy more than the ten pounds than they started with? How does that work? Who has benefited from this “labour”? From my limited grasp of economics, it would seem that it’s people who dabble in this sort of farting around who are in difficulties in the current financial turmoil. Good! Perhaps they might jack in blatant profiteering and do an honest day’s work for a change.
Talking of an honest day’s work, have you
ever considered piracy
as a professional career? There are pirates at work off the coast of
19 Movember 2008 (Wednesday) - Leeches
Today’s Wednesday lunchtime talk was on the use of medicinal leeches. And the speaker brought some in. They are quite sweet little things, really. And the medical uses for the things would seem to be endless. They have been used to reconstruct tongues after piercings have gone wrong, to clear up scarring after plastic surgery, and it is even claimed that they make your naughty bits grow bigger. One lives and learns. It’s quite amazing that in today’s high-tech world you can’t beat a good old dose of leeches. And on the subject of animals to which most people would say “Yuk!”, seven hundred years after the Pied Piper did his thing, Hamelin is again awash with rats.
Moustache update (eleven days until I can scrape the thing off!) – I think I finally look like “Babe”. “Who is Babe?” I hear my loyal readers ask. (Go on – look on Google). However other names are being bandied about including Rudyard Kipling, Albert Einstein and Freddy Mercury. Still – it’s all in a good cause. Or it will be once everyone has stumped up. It’s not too late to donate on-line you know. And if you want to chart progress of the offending growth, you can see the album here.
20 Movember 2008 (Thursday) - Reflecting on Pastimes
I’ve heard from a couple of sources that I’m being missed at cubs. I must admit that I don’t miss it at all. Whilst some (to be honest - most) of the kids were fun to be with, there were too many little turds there with the sole intention of spoiling it for everyone. Over the last year or so it became quite clear I wasn’t going to achieve much. Also getting along on a Tuesday night was becoming too much of a rush. And as I’m getting older, the camping and sleepovers are becoming too much. I need more than three hours sleep each night. And then there were all the extra stuff. What was originally explained to me as an hour a week soon became more. Whilst I was under no obligation to go on all the trips and outings, it was quite clear that I was needed to make up the adult/child ratios. Two hours in a coach with bored brats isn’t fun. And then there was that interminable newspaper collection every month.
I’d like to still help out in some way, but I don’t know quite what I could do. However, looking back I did it for twelve years. That was enough. I started helping when “My Boy TM” was eight. He’s now twenty-one. It’s time for someone else to have a go.
Being on a late shift gave me the morning to put the finishing touches to next Monday’s talk for the Astronomy club. Last October 29th I gave a talk about Mars to the astronomy club which at the time I felt was on its last legs. A year later the thing has improved beyond all recognition, and I’m giving the talk again. But slightly re-hashed as things Martian have moved on in the last year. There’s a committee meeting the week after, so (because I’m the Treasurer) I got the accounts ready. Did you know we’ve got….. perhaps I’d better not give pounds and pence here, but suffice it to say we’ve had over five hundred quid in donations. The plan is to buy a decent telescope. Sometimes I feel a little out of my depth with the club. Everyone else seems to have decent telescopes, and know what all the starts are. But then, I can see decent piccies on “Google Images” if I want, and I find the club fun and informative. And having blagged my way through giving a few talks I think I’ve managed to fool people into thinking I’m not a complete novice. Let’s hope no one has any questions on Monday…..
21 Movember 2008 (Friday) - Preparing for Monday
I must admit to having a sulk on. As all my
mates set off to
Moustache update (Three weeks done - nine days to go!) – either Ron Mael, or Savlonic. It’s not too late to donate on-line you know. And if you want to chart progress of the offending growth, you can see the album here.
22 Movember 2008 (Saturday) - Visiting Friends
I had no end of problems posting last night’s blog. For some reason Yahoo didn’t like the hyperlink to the “p*rn-*-th*n”. Which was probably for the best. And then with no need to be up early, and hoping for a decent lie-in, I was up washing dishes and doing laundry at 4am.
And then a little while was spent planning my diary for next year – you can see it from mankybadger dot com. I think I’ve included all the year’s major events, but I expect I’ve missed something important. Do let me know what it is.
The morning’s mail brought my CAMRA membership card for the next year. Rather ironic seeing as how I’ve packed up my membership. Still, I shall keep hold of the card and use it fraudulently over the next year.
To Sevenoaks to deliver candle stuff to the Sevenoaks contingent. And then having wound up “Brokeback Dogs” (who have eaten their “gay pride” collars), we set off for a pub dinner. Or “lunch” for those that were that way inclined. We found somewhere quite scenic in the nearby countryside, and I must admit my heart fell when I saw the Shepherd Neame sign. But this was truly a pub in a million. A Shepherd Neame pub with a guest ale on. I have never seen that before. Shepherd Neame pubs only do Shepherd Neame beers. It’s their policy. Which is why I try to avoid them. Because much as the beer is good, you know what they’ve got before you walk through the door. Talking to the barman, he told me that he has two other guest beers coming up. So I guzzled the guest, and had a plate of ham, egg & chips. Others had all sorts of scoff. And then pudding. Lots of it – including “Eton Mess” which Harry assures me is what someone has sicked up – “eaten mess” (!) We had a great time – two hours in the pub scaring the normal people. We should do it more often - it’s such a shame so many friends live so far away.
And then home via the Halfway house in Challock for a bowl of their soup. Or that was the plan. I fell asleep in front of the open fire, and had to admit I was so stuffed I couldn’t eat another thing……..
23 Movember 2008 (Sunday) - Lounge Suits & Laptops
I woke up to find my sexy new car covered in snow, but by the time I’d dug out my camera, the rain had washed it all off. The rain also washed enough gunge off of the roof into the gutter to bung up the holes I drilled a few weeks ago. So it was time to get out the coat hanger and have a good root around.
Having sorted out the ironing in the living room and the undead in NeverWinter (not sure which was trickier), I revamped mankybadger dot com. There’s absolutely nothing new there, I’ve just laid it out differently. It wasted half an hour and I’ll probably put it back how it was in a little while, but such is life.
And so to the O’Lata’s
Only a flying visit - a quick bite to eat, filing cabinets and mattresses hoiked down the stairs and off to
And then the rest of the afternoon was spent transferring tomorrow night’s presentation onto my laptop. And practicing it. I’m hoping for the best tomorrow – my laptop is basically old and knackered, and takes a good ten minutes to boot up. And it really struggles to run a PowerPoint presentation. I’d welcome advice on a decent cheapo replacement. I don’t actually use a laptop for much except these presentations, but then that’s probably because my current laptop is knacked anyway. My PC is now a couple of years old, and maybe rather than replacing it, I might get a new laptop and use the PC for games & data storage. But then the advantage of having an old knacked laptop is that when I take it out it don’t really matter if it gets banged about. Perhaps I need to find out how cheap a “cheap” laptop would be.
Anyway, if any of my loyal readers are bored tomorrow night, and are in the vicinity of Stanhope parish hall at 7.30pm, you could find out all about Mars…..
24 Movember 2008 (Monday) - Patrick Moore and Mars
Looking through my blog archives I see that a year ago I was rather negative about the future of the astronomy club. In many ways the meeting in November 2007 was “make or break” for the club. In the last year we’ve come on in leaps and bounds. Whereas a year ago we were averaging a turn out of ten (at most), tonight’s attendance was nearly forty people.
This evening started with an ad-hoc presentation from one of our members who gave a slide show of her recent trip to visit Patrick Moore at his house. She’s brought back for the club a text book written by Patrick Moore that he had signed, and another book that he had given to our club with a note of encouragement he’d written inside.
And then the rest of the evening was me talking about Mars. Seeing as what had gone before, I felt had rather a mountain to climb, but I spoke for half an hour, and the punters seemed happy with what I spouted. Whilst nominally about Mars, I brought in such diverse subjects as dinosaurs, blood, pink fleeces and we even had a demonstration of flying a remote-controlled helicopter. I was asked several questions at the end, so people had been listening (!), and the poor laptop only froze up once.
I shall be speaking in the new year on the seventh planet from the sun. Purely so’s I can shout “your -anus” a lot.
Moustache update (Six days to go!) – there is now talk of releasing the moustache back into the wild. Totally abusing my position in the astronomy club, I put out a collecting box tonight and raked in over ten quid. It’s still not too late to donate on-line you know. And if you want to chart progress of the offending growth, you can see the album here.
25 Movember 2008 (Tuesday) - Dentists, and a Fan Club
A rather restless night followed by a rather dull day. I knocked off work early to go to the dentist for a check-up. Having got over the obligatory confusing me for my namesake (who is twenty years older than me), I actually got to see what the fangquack was up to whilst rooting round my gob. He has some amazing camera which he used to photograph my mouth’s MOT failures. The advantage of paying into a dental scheme is that next week’s work doesn’t cost anything more than I’m already paying, so I should be grateful for small mercies. It’s probably as well that I have to go back next week, as I broke a tooth chewing on dinner this evening.
Moustache update (Five days to go!) – There has been talk of nothing else at work for over three weeks. One of the dopier secretaries today loudly asked if I realised that I looked like Hitler. Bless her. At this late stage I would seem to have developed a fan club. Bearing in mind that I have been taken for the father-in-law of the instigator, I’m assuming my putative daughter has her adopted mother’s moustache (!)
26 Movember 2008 (Wednesday) - Bored, so Bored
I filled my car with petrol this evening. Letting it get even emptier than last month, the bill this time is still nearly ten pounds less than last time. How on earth does that work? Yes, I know the international price of oil goes up and down, but so does the international prices of everything. You don’t see bags of crisps fluctuating in price from day to day, do you?
And then the mechanics of actually filling the car with petrol. Why is it that everyone else can stick the nozzle in the hole, give it a good squirt and that’s it? Every time I try to fill the tank, the pump keeps cutting out after every 20p’s worth of petrol. It gets on my wick – I seem to take far longer than everyone else. I’m sure I must be doing something wrong.
And so to the archaeology club. Which gets worse every time. Going there is somewhat reminiscent of one episode of “Gilbert Ratchet” in which Gilbert visits the “dull museum of bits of broken pots”. It can only be a matter of time until the evening’s talk is given by (rather than about) something that has been dug out of the ground. Tonight’s talk was dull. It could have been interesting – there’s no end of scope in a bronze-age cross-channel ferry. But it was delivered in a dreary monotone that so many people slept through. I don’t pretend to be the world’s best speaker, but when I do give a talk (like I did two nights ago) I try to keep it short – no more than twenty minutes. And have some fancy piccies – PowerPoint is your friend. And a healthy smattering of knob jokes never goes amiss.
Having said “no more” to cubs and CAMRA, perhaps I could go for the hat trick and knock this one on the head too…..
(You'll have to look up Gilbert Ratchet” on Wikipedia - Yahoo 360 doesn't seem to want to allow me to hyperlink him)
27 Movember 2008 (Thursday) - Ranting and Gloating
I’ll start off today with a bit of a rant. I’m sorry but something which really winds me up is what I call “the cryptic answer”. I ask a question which clearly has a “yes” or “no” response, but I have to deduce which it is for myself from the clues in the answer. I get this everywhere I go – it so winds me up. For example:
Q: “Would you like a cup of tea?”
A: “Well, my haemorrhoids are playing up today”
The clue is clearly in the haemorrhoids – does tea make them better? Or does it aggravate them? I have no idea, but the response indicates I should be painfully aware of which is the correct possibility. Or, how about this one:
Q: “Have we got any biscuits?”
A: “I’ve just been to Tesco’s”
Not so obvious. Yes, we have biscuits because we’ve been to Tesco’s. Or no, we don’t have biscuits because they were forgotten at Tesco’s. Another favourite is
Q: “Is this the way to the pub?”
A: “The Post Office and McDonalds are just round the corner ”
So what !?!?! What possible relevance does that have? I get this all the time, in all walks of life. Why won’t anyone ever give me a straight answer?
However, on another note I’m engaging “smug mode”. Among this evening’s flock of emails were some from the astro club’s webmaster. He’d received (via the club’s website) glowing praise from people who were in the audience at my presentation on Monday:
“great presentation the other night”
“entertaining & informative without being stuffy & overbearing (which seems to happen all too frequently in the work meetings I'm forced to endure!!)."
"It was certainly a pleasurable way of spending some very precious free time”
I shall ask the webmistress of Lenham Archaeological Society if last night’s entrancing and enthralling seminar received similar rapturous acclamation. Or then again (if I fancy living to tell the tale) perhaps I won’t.
28 Movember 2008 (Friday) - A Day in the Life
A late start today, so a little while was spent in NeverWinter. Those goblins and trolls run riot if someone doesn’t take a firm hand. And then I started working on my next presentation for the astronomy club. Packed with all sorts of informative and interesting (yet light-hearted) information about the seventh planet from the Sun, it’s no secret that it won’t be so much a talk as me shouting “ANUS!!” a lot. Did you know that….. I won’t tell you – come along in a few months time and find out for yourself.
And so to work where the fire alarm was going off. One of the annoying retards that inhabit the hospital grabbed hold of me and forcibly dragged me away from the building as I came across the car park. I had to physically push the idiot off and swear at him before he would leave me alone. The fire alarm goes off all the time, and the alarm that was sounding was one to warn of a fire somewhere else in the building anyway. In any event the whole thing was a false alarm.
Work was work, and then home again to forage for tea. Since ‘er indoors TM has taken to flogging candles to an unsuspecting public, I have to forage for my tea an awful lot. This evening I foraged at the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop where a young lady recognised me as the father of “My Boy TM” and “Daddies Little Angel TM”. I had to be a Styles because of the eyebrow piercing (!)……
Moustache update (two days to go!) – I popped into Tesco’s on the way to work. As today will be the last day at work with this blasted moustache, I thought I’d see the thing off with a minor party. Doughnuts are always popular. The woman behind the till asked if it was my birthday. I explained all about the moustache charity thing. She fell about laughing, and said she’d seen me in Tesco’s several times over the last couple of weeks and thought that my moustache was probably the worst thing she’d ever seen in her life. Apparently she was quite relieved to find it was all a big joke – she was quite worried that I was growing it seriously. Perhaps I should have stung her for the charity fund?
29 Movember 2008 (Saturday) - On The Beer
A lie in, because it’s Saturday. After a
morning spent preparing the next talk for the astro
club, we set of to do research
in Bearstead. A pint of Ruddles in the
Home to wash dinner off my jumper, a kip and to re-install windows onto a lap-top. It’s not re-installing very well….
30 Movember 2008 (Sunday) - Uranus, Water, NeverWinter & Night Work
My presentation about the “rudely named planet” is now pretty much complete. I doubt I’ll actually be giving the talk for some months, but it never hurts to be prepared. Once that was done, I spent the latter part of the morning doing the monthly accounts – everyone has their hand out these days. The water board has suggested I insure against the water pipes outside the house going west. The arrangement with water is an odd one. Apparently it belongs to South East Water until it comes out of the tap. And the moment it goes down the plughole it becomes the property of Southern Water. But the responsibility for the upkeep of all the pipes is down to me. The insurance is a tenner a year, and bearing in mind we moved in here over fifteen years ago and the pipes were old then, those pipes must be knocking on a bit. Perhaps I’ll stump up the tenner. Heaven only knows how much it would cost to replace them, and I bet the household insurance wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.
I may well recoup some of the tenner from packing up my account with UseNet. A few years ago I actually enjoyed using the thing. Nowadays I only subscribe to half a dozen newsgroups. The NeverWinter group is moribund. The kite group is dead. The astronomy ones never mention anything actually newsworthy. The sci-fi groups are just full of anoraks calling each other silly names. The work-related ones are full of crackpots, and the local one (which was once so good in the past) is little more than self-interested whinging these days.
Whilst ‘er indoors TM and “Daddies Little Angel TM” went shopping, I scrubbed the fish turds out of the fish pond filter. From bitter experience that is a job best done at a time which suits me, rather than ignoring it until it bungs up solidly with carp turds. And then finding myself having to do it in a rush in the rain when I’m supposed to be elsewhere. And then the rest of the afternoon was spent in a dungeon in NeverWinter.
Spare a thought for me tonight. Due to sickness and everyone else being on long-booked holidays I shall be doing the twelve hour night shift at work. When the kids were young I did a lot of night work, but things weren’t as busy then. When I started, the informal arrangement was that you did night work until you were thirty and then the youngsters took over. I did it until I was forty and that was quite enough. I’ve not done an all-nighter for years – I’m not looking forward to it. And due to the wonderful pay deal we had a while ago, I’ll not get paid anything extra for being up all night. Instead I’ll have twelve hours lieu time owed to me. Seven of which I shall have tomorrow during the day when I shall be fast asleep……