01 October 2006 (Sunday) - excavations have commenced

01 October 2006 (Sunday) - excavations have commencedmagnify

Pausing only to shelter from torrential rain (and later hail) a solid four hours digging has got us a hole three metres long, one metre wide, and of variable depth, some 1.3 metres at the deepest. Having had a brilliant idea to have sloping sides rather than vertical ones (which would only cave in), we’ve probably shifted about a quarter of the soil so far.

Oh how I ache!


02 October 2006 (Monday) To quote Slartibartfast....

To quote Slartibarfast: “I’m a great fan of science”

Following two thunderstorms and a day of torrential rain, there’s currently six inches of water in the bottom of the pond. I say pond, I mean hole. (I wonder what the word for an embryonic pond is.) Anyway, six inches of water rather puts the skids under any more excavations. Or does it? It didn’t stop Dan, who spent an hour in the rain having a go earlier. (Good lad!)

Bringing science to bear on the subject http://www.weebls-stuff.com/toons/science/ it struck me that the soil at the bottom of the hole was rather compacted yesterday as we were walking about on it. If I was to dig the bottom of the hole under the water, that would expose the dry soil which would then soak up the water. (That’s what we in the trade call “logical thinking”)

So there I was, four feet down the hole, up to my ankles in sloppy mud, doing little more than stirring it up, wondering what part of science Slartibartfast was so impressed by.

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03 October 2006 - Reminiscing

Been digging through the photos on my computer. There's loads of things that we've done in the past that have almost been forgotten.  I wonder how much web space I've got in Yahoo photos?

One way to find out.....

If you can't see the photos, try logging in. If you still can't see them, sorry. They *should* be rigged so only a select audience can see them. If you *can* see them.... you're special !! If you can't but want to, email me.Image

1 Comment  (Feb 2008 -  Stop Press – photos now all on Ringo)


04 October 2006 (Wednesday) - Shades of Mr Creosote

04 October 2006 (Wednesday) - Shades of Mr Creosotemagnify

The second film I ever took Tina to see was Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. It was therefore quite appropriate that after tonight’s meal out we were rather dreading the appearance of the “waff-ere thin mint”.

In my world, pubs seem to come into fashion and go again, for no apparent reason. For many years the place to go was the Royal Standard, and then it was the Railway. The Ypres Castle had a passing popularity for a while, and now it’s the Riverside. Tonight we thought we’d try the Royal Standard again, in its new incarnation as an Indian restaurant. Very good – thoroughly recommended. But having a curry reminded me we’ve not had a curry night for years. Anyone fancy boiling up some popadoms?


05 October 2006 (Thursday) - Fun at Wyevale !

One of the early stages of “Operation Pond” requires the construction of a fence. So this lunchtime I went to the garden centre to get the ingredients. Whilst I’m loading fence panels into (onto) my trolley, what I can only describe as a geriatric Lou (pushing a geriatric Andy) demanded that I tell him where the roses are. I told him I thought they were round the corner. He then expected me to tell him all about the “perennials” (whatever they might be.) Obviously unimpressed with my lack of wisdom he then started to quiz me about shrubs, herbaceous borders and the coffee shop. I told him that I had no idea; I was just getting the ingredients for my fence. “Oh, if that’s your attitude!” he announced and stormed off pushing “Geriatric Andy”.

Navigating my trolley to the counter was quite tricky, but as I got closer it was clear that, “Geriatric Lou” was haranguing the garden centre manager most vociferously. Among other phrases, I could hear him shouting “bad attitude”, “unhelpful”, obstructive”, “un co-operative”. When I got to the counter “Geriatric Lou” pointed at me and announced quite loudly “that’s him – the chap in the blue shirt”. The centre manager smiled ruefully at me, and I left him to it.

As I pushed my trolley out, it was starting to rain. Using wit, science, mathematics and pure guesswork I hoped the fence panels would fit in the back of my bus. They did, but only just. It was very awkward manoeuvring the panels in place, and it didn’t take long for an audience of old biddies to congregate. They hadn’t seen anything as amusing as me putting fence panels in the back of an Espace for years.


06 October 2006 (Friday) - What if….

Thirteen and a half years ago someone put an ad in a sci-fi magazine trying to find like minded trekkies in his area. He got two replies, both some forty miles away from him, but within two miles of each other. So he put those two in touch……

One of those two put out some more ads, a dozen like minded people met up in a house in May 1993. Thirteen years later….There’s been endless video nights, beer festivals, camping trips, RPGs, laser battles, trips to London…. We’ve been stranded in London, dressed as Captain Kirk having missed the last train home, we’ve been in adverts on the sci-fi channel, we’ve upset the sisterhood of Klingons, we’ve been invited to a lesbian’s caravan on the Romney Marsh, we’ve met the nice man in the toilet, we’ve emptied tube trains at rush hours, we’ve shaved our heads, we’ve even had rings put through our knobs. We’ve squabbled, laughed and cried together, and over the years there have been five weddings (tomorrow it will be six) all as a direct result of that chap putting an ad in a sci-fi magazine. (We must find out who that bloke was, Chris!)

But what if no one had answered that advert?



07 October 2006 (Saturday) - A Wedding

07 October 2006 (Saturday) - A Weddingmagnify

I'm somewhat late writing my blog entry for today, everyone else has beaten me to it. There's very little (if anything) I can say which hasn't already been said. A wonderful day, and it was an honour to be a part of it.

Real men DO cry !


08 October 2006 (Sunday) - Building a fence.

08 October 2006 (Sunday) - Building a fence.magnify

You bang four metposts into the ground; you stick a pole into each of the metposts; you stick a fence panel between each of the poles. How hard can that be? Bear in mind I’ve got a cold, and for some utterly inexplicable reason I’m not feeling 100% this morning...

The first metpost went in at a “slightly odd” angle. Slightly odd – it was more pissed than I was last night. So we took it out (how easy it is to type that – try doing it) and hammered it back in again. And again. And again. On the seventh attempt we got it straight. Then we realised we should have done the fence BEFORE digging out all this soil. So we abandoned fence construction and shifted about a ton (literally!) of soil. We knew things were going too well when we realised we’d fitted two fence panels in about fifteen minutes with no problems. The hiccup came with the third fence panel. There was nothing wrong with the fence panel itself – it was a very nice fence panel. However it was 180cm long and the gap we were hoping to put it in was 51 cm wide.

Did you know it’s possible to cut a fence panel? It is. We did it. Let’s hope the fence stays up.

The plan now is that we stick a tarpaulin under the fence, and pull it tight up against the fence. We then dig all the soil and heap it up against the fence (which won’t rot as it’s protected by the tarpaulin). Once all the soil is out, we landscape it, and pull the tarpaulin forward over the soil, and cover the whole thing in gravel.

The current problem is that we’ve probably shifted about five cubic metres of soil and that takes up a lot of space (about five cubic metres to be precise). Much as it pains me to do so, we may well have to slightly downsize the pond.


09 October 2006 (Monday) - Diseased

09 October 2006 (Monday) - Diseasedmagnify

The plan was to spend the morning on final excavations, but all we had time for was to get the edging in place when the heavens opened. So much for weather forecasts. The mud is now getting quite thick at the end of the garden, but one more day’s concerted digging should have all the soil shifted.

In the meantime my cold’s getting worse. Its years since I last had one, and I spent the afternoon asleep in front of the telly, alternating between shivering & sweating.



10 October 2006 (Tuesday) - A waste of time

The cubs at the moment are TOTALLY incapable of listening to group instructions.  Telling the whole pack together something is a waste of time.

Any message, instruction or message has to be given personally on a one - to - one basis to each cub personally, or obviously the information is for someone else and doesn't apply to the specific individual. It doesn't matter whether its notes home, rules for a game, instructions for a craft idea, asking for volunteers, even giving out sweets when someone's having a birthday & brought sweets in....

Also, once the message has been received and acknowledged, it only applies for the next five minutes, after which time they all need to be given the information again (individually)

I took four of them aside tonight and asked why they came to cubs. I made it clear it wasn't a telling off, but a genuine question.
Why did they come to cubs?

As I pointed out to them, if they stayed at home or went round each others’ homes they could continue their fist and kicking fights without me continually interrupting and stopping them.

I’m told the scout association is a wonderful institution. It probably is, but it’s also fast becoming a waste of my time.


11 October 2006 (Wednesday) "If only you said..."

When I was about seventeen I wanted a small tent. So I went out and bought one. When I mentioned to friends that I’d just bought a tent, everyone either knew of a tent that was bigger and lighter than mine, and at half the price, or they had one (far superior to mine) that they’d just thrown away. This incident has set the tone for the rest of my life.

On spending £40 on a royal python, several friends knew of where I could buy one for £30. Having bought a large kite, I was told that I could have had a discount. I once spent £70 getting the wing mirror on my Espace replaced, only to find a friend of a friend was a professional Espace wing mirror fitter who owed him a favour. On buying software, I’m told of freely available shareware that does the same job.

And now, having avoidably missed seeing my favourite band playing quite locally, I’ve spent over £100 on sleepers for the pond. It turns out there’s a load of sleepers lying around in a garden a little way away that are mine for the taking.

Can everyone add a section to their Yahoo 360 page? Can we advertise our unwanted expensive things, our services, whatever I’m about to spend money on please !


12 October 2006 (Thursday) - Philosophical Astronomy

12 October 2006 (Thursday) - Philosophical Astronomymagnify

No matter how bad things may be, always console yourself with the thought that things could always be worse. Spare a thought for poor Pluto.

And remember – “Anything can happen on the moon”.


I sometimes see myself as the Toast King. Nominations please for the role of “Insanity Prawn Boy”

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13 October 2006 (Friday) The wonders of modern medicine

For some weeks, visitors to the local hospital have been serenaded on their entry and exit. An amiable fellow would sing along to strange tunes prompted by the voices in his head. Nurses and physiotherapists, the pregnant and the elderly came to enjoy his songs. So adept and musical were the voices in his head that he would spontaneously sing songs about any and every passing individual.

But due to the wonders of electro-convulsion, pharmacy and group therapies, the voices are gone, and his songs are no more. Wheelchairs and ambulances, podiatrists and biochemists, the halt and the lame come and go in silence.

And the world is strangely a sadder place.


14 October 2006 (Saturday) Eastbourne

14 October 2006 (Saturday) Eastbournemagnify

A birthday, so a trip to the ice cream parlour in Eastbourne is in order. You can never have too much ice cream. And having had a good scoff, there was just time for a trip to the model shop which sold stuff from James Bond, Captain Scarlet, SHADO Mobiles & Skydivers, thunderbirds and daleks. I shall go back there at Christmas time.

The magic shop in Eastbourne was good too. There was a young lady, whose upper garment performed amazing tricks. It totally defied gravity in keeping her jugs in place. I shall go back there as well.


Entry for 15 October 2006 (Sunday) - “I have no status”

Many years ago, together with a gaggle of mates, I'd go to a "Star Trek Event". Between 1993 and 1997 we'd go to all sorts of things. Conventions in the University of London. The Star Trek theme pub in the West End. Trekky/Gaming festivals on Camber Sands. “Trekky Nights” in the gay pub in Canterbury, and the “strangely normal” pub in Margate. To the cinema, all dressed up as Captain Kirk. On one memorable occasion there was over fifty of us at the pictures.

Not any more – it got banned.

I used to keep large snakes as a hobby. You can see them at  http://www.mankybadger.com  At first sight you might think it's a dangerous thing to do, but you would be wrong. No one in the UK has been eaten by their pet python.(though in fairness I believe there have been instances in the US - four in ten years I think) Nevertheless there were those who sought to ban snake keeping, and in the early years of this decade have pretty much succeeded. Where in 1999 I was spoilt for choice for a pet shop, there is now no pet shop with an hour's drive of my house that supplies snakes, equipment or food.

In 1999 there were four reptile societies within an hour's drive of my house. Today there are none.

One of the pastimes of the last few years has been mass outings to a lovely picnic site at Kearsney Abbey where anyone who knows me will tell you what I do there. I guzzle two bottles of beer and fall asleep. Not any more! I can’t do that any more as the area is now a “zero tolerance for alcohol” zone.

Anyone who knows me knows I enjoy a cigar. For how much longer will I be able to do so?

In 2001 I bought my first power kite. It was great fun. A few months after that we experimented with the fun and frolics of people lifting and “arsing”, but it didn’t take long to realise that what we were doing was potentially dangerous, not only to ourselves, but to passers-by, so we formed a formal kite club and got insurance. Very soon after this we began hearing rumours of certain councils banning kite flying on their land. Wonderful! How many more hobbies will be banned?

But then – Salvation!! This bloke in Yorkshire was getting in touch with all of the kite clubs in the UK. Together we’d be able to form an organisation that would work with councils to educate kite fliers, to formulate a code of practice, to be a unified voice for kite flying across the country. Here was an organisation that would stand up for us.

So we joined up with them from the start, enthusiastically supporting them. Mind you, they were never easy to support. It took some weeks to get a straight answer to the question of how much they wanted off of us as a subscription fee. Our enthusiasm was somewhat blunted by the observation that as members we were liable for anything they did wrong, and incredibly blunted by their flat refusal to take the problem seriously. We let our affiliation lapse until such time as the liability issue was sorted. During this time my support for the ideals of this club remained as enthusiastic as ever. I would regularly post on their club Internet forum, but as time went on, my enthusiasm was more for the ideal than for the club itself. Having drawn up a constitution and having very rudely told me how important said constitution is, the BKFA then flaunted it several times.

To be fair to the BKFA, they are the first to say that the first year was a year wasted, but what has happened since?

Although they set themselves an epic "to-do" list on their own website, they seem reluctant to discuss progress. Any attempts to ask about progress are responded to as though they were personal attacks. In the last year alone I have personally offered to run their website, to moderate their club forum, to advertise the BKFA at the Brighton Kite Festival. Today I got a belated thanking for the offers.

They have opened up the possibility of individual membership, but refuse to say how one can obtain that membership……. I’ll come back to this in a bitImage.

My cold isn’t getting any better, the pond is at a tricky stage, Tina’s ripping the carpet out of the living room, but I was on the train before 9am to get to the BKFA AGM….. You just know it’s going to be bad when everyone stops talking when you walk into the room.

Anyone who knows me knows I like a drink, but I’d like to think I know the difference between “The Annual General Meeting of a National Body to which Interested Parties have been Formally Invited”, and “One Big Piss Up TM”. All I can say is that one of the attendees (an ex-chairman of the BKFA) clearly doesn’t. The meeting started amiably enough, but as the beer went down it transpires that:

“My opinions are irrelevant”

“My questions are not important”

“I have no status”


One would have thought that the current chairman would have taken the trouble to silence the drunkard, but the current chairman had already expressed a desire to stand down. And it is clearly BKFA policy to deal with dissent by use the insulting form of the ad-hominem argument. (Look it up on Wikipedia!). And it just got worse…

They flatly refused to answer the question of how many clubs are members of the BKFA. When asked, one of the committee "questioned his ability to do this at this point"

In order to stem any dissenting voices, their web forum is to be closed down. It would seem that the kite flying world doesn’t like the snide personal attacks that are associated with my name. I kept smiling and hoped that they would realise that I was the one who received the attacks (and not the one who made them), but I’m the scapegoat. Apparently there’s plenty of kiting forums on the Internet already that the likes of me can use. (In the past these have been rudely dismissed, but now they are quite acceptable alternatives to their own forum.)

Having admitted they cannot maintain their website, they’ve now decided to run all communications via this website.

Having been formed as a national meeting place for UK kite fliers, it was effectively agreed that the club should abandon any attempt to secure such national recognition and just do its own sweet thing.

The BKFA was originally formed because of the threats to UK kite flying presented from the activities of the multi-lined power kites (the main reason I bother with the BKFA). For some reason a policy decision was made to disregard the multi line power kite flying fraternity and for the BKFA to concentrate its efforts on single lined and dual lined stunt kites.

With scant regard for previous constitutional arguments, the meeting closed with a nomination of the committee for the next year. And in a move astounding even me, “Yours Truly” was offered an individual membership and a place on the committee (!)

So where do I go from here? I’m reminded of a meeting with TrekNet sometime in the mid 1990s…. you know the one…… and where are they now?

The power kites go on eBay tomorrow….



16 October 2006 (Monday) - That's the kind of guy I am!

A reflection (possibly) generated from the arse-kicking I received yesterday…..

In 1996 I found out that a local reptile club had been started a few months previously. I rounded up a gaggle of mates who might like an evening out (I wasn’t going on my own – it might be full of weirdoes like me who kept snakes) and off we went to an evening about boa constrictors. My favourite animal is the boa constrictor, there’s one on my Yahoo avatar and they are lovely beasts. Julian was a darling, and even the evil ones that bit didn’t hurt much and… (takes deep breath and doesn’t* really* want any more, but those twenty four babies that Sophie had were SO cute…)

Where was I? – Oh yes – reptile club. Anyway, I’d been there for an hour, long having left my mates to their own devices and I was pathetically in love with this beautiful lady. Nine feet long, she was and gentle as a lamb. She could probably have eaten a lamb whole, but that didn’t bother me…. Anyway, it was announced that the committee would like to know if anyone would be interested in producing a club newsletter. As this was about the time when I was editing “Energize News” I volunteered, and on my first visit to the reptile club I was on the committee. One of my friends that I’d taken along (and abandoned) quite accurately commented about me “You can’t just be a member, can you?” (10 points if you can remember who said that!)

But that is a very accurate comment about me.  How true those words are. I really find it very difficult to “just be a member”. I did it with Trekky-ing, and the same has happened with kite flying. I’ve found myself volunteering to be on committees and in meetings (and re-living the squabbles that took place with TrekNet all those years ago) because I find it so hard to “just be a member”.

And now, the pond is nearly at the end of the digging phase and will all-to-soon be ready for the fish. There’s Koi clubs locally.

I’m looking around quite seriously for a left-handed bow for “Operation Twang Things" (see Jose’s blog for details). There’s ten archery clubs in the county. We’re just going to have to go to one.

Can I “just be a member” this time please?


17 October 2006 (Tuesday) - Stuff

17 October 2006 (Tuesday) - Stuffmagnify

As we reach the end of the excavation stage, a metal screw is unearthed. Found some two feet deep in soil that has not been disturbed for at least fifteen years, it looks brand new. I’m left wondering what else is under my back garden.

After the sci-fi TV evening, the subject of an Xmas party came up. Whilst some of us will be going down to join the Brighton Kite Fliers Xmas do, it was suggested we have something midweek and early evening that the kiddies can come to. Does anyone fancy this idea – shall I see if the Riverside will have us again?



18 October 2006 (Wednesday) - Closing the Post Office

I heard on the news today there’s uproar over the proposed closure of some rural post offices. Initially my heart went out to these people who are about to lose a vital part of their community. But then I thought….. We moved to our current home in 1991 because it’s centrally located, with shops, post office, doctors, pharmacy, supermarket, town centre, and train and bus connections all within easy walking distance.

At about the same time my boss (at the time) moved to what I can only describe as “the arse end of nowhere” because it had no shops, post office, doctors, pharmacy, supermarket… in short no facilities at all apart from a pub about a couple of miles away. There were two buses per week. He could leave on the bus that called nearby on Tuesday afternoon and return again on Friday morning.

I spoke to him last week. Having been retired some ten years he’s finding it rather difficult to drive, but because of his choice of home he needs to make at least two or three car trips every day. He’s moving somewhere more practical.

Back to the news: A government spokesman then came on the radio. Apparently there are some eighty post offices in various places across the country which each get less than sixteen customers per day. How can that be commercially viable? Well, it’s not, is it? They are kept open by the injection of millions of pounds of taxpayers money.

I chose to live somewhere sensible. Why should I subsidise someone who doesn’t?


19 October 2006 (Thursday) - Daddy's little soldier

19 October 2006 (Thursday) - Daddy's little soldiermagnify

Where does the time go?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that my little soldier was born. When he was small he would be travel sick whenever we went anywhere. He totally disgraced himself by getting a one day ban from a summer play scheme. He was a beaver scout, he got me into cubbing. He went up to scouts and left me behind. He wouldn’t go fishing with me any more because he caught bigger fish than I did. He started secondary school, and got into all sorts of mischief. Where other boys would do carol singing or trick or treat, he would demand money with menaces. He put his foot through the ceiling; he got a paper round and delivered pizzas. He got his first tattoo, and I was SO proud. He got a girlfriend. He got noisy…..

And next week he’s going away for a week to work in Salisbury. When he leaves on Sunday night I will try not to let him see me blubbing.



20 October 2006 (Friday) - Night Shift

For many years I would work any and every hour of the day and the night, sometimes working a seventy hour week. Why would I do this? Because the unsocial hours warranted a higher rate of pay.

But for how much longer will this be the case?


Policewomen have been to an industrial tribunal. Staff working any and all hours got a higher rate of pay for being up all night long. The young mothers complained that they could not work all hours because they had child care commitments, but they wanted the higher rate of pay too. They claimed that working 9 – 5 was the same as working a night shift. Management disagreed arguing the staff at night had less support, namely those who’ve pissed off home due to the child care issues.

However the tribunal disagreed and backed the women. So you can get an unsocial hours enhancement to your wage without working unsocial hours.

Presumably now part time staff will claim full time pay because “they would if they could”.

Funny old world.


21 October 2006 (Saturday) - Oooohhhhh yusssss (You had to be there!)

21 October 2006 (Saturday) - Oooohhhhh yusssss (You had to be there!)magnify

The weather forecast had been against me all week, but regardless of what the heavens threw at me, I was determined to get the pond liner in place today. I was assisted by some wonderful people.

It didn’t rain, and we, the magnificent seven, not only got the liner in place, but we bought most of the required electricals, buried the cabling, put in the stone edging & gravel over the cabling AND staged an evening barby in celebration of a day well done.

The rain held off until ten minutes after we went in, when the rain chucked it down, hopefully washing away all of the mud we’d spread all over the patio. The evening was spent drinking more beer and watching Robin Hood and Wallace and Gromit.

As Daniel would say, “Oooohhhhh yusssss.”

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22 October 2006 (Sunday) Rain

The threatened rain came today. The rain didn’t deter Brian coming round to see if I wanted to play in the mud, and we spent a pleasant half an hour in the rain stirring the mud about. The idea was that having now filled the pond and got the sleepers in place, we could lift up the liner, one side at a time, to build up a gentle slope so rainwater would run away. However the mud didn’t lend itself to being landscaped. Sticking to everything and making a right mess, yes. Landscaping, no. It’s rather frustrating, when you recall how well we got on yesterday, and how I wasted the excellent weather of last Sunday. Still, with the money spent so far on “Operation Pond” fast approaching £700, a day I don’t do anything is a day I don’t spend money.

The Bat arrived, and we had a pleasant tour around some fish shops looking at very small Koi. Against my better judgement we got four ghost Koi. Oh, they look so sweet, they are about two inches long, dark silver in colour, and are totally lost in the pond.

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the pond from a distance to ensure that the cats, seagulls and various other predatory wildlife didn’t come close.

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23 October 2006 (Monday) Torchwood - not TOO many spoilers, but some.

SOME spoilers - don't read if you haven't seen it yet - you have been warned.

What was all that in the last season of Doctor Who involving Queen Victoria and a very efficient organisation operating out of Canary Wharf? It certainly had nothing in common with last night's TV show of the same name. Was it good? No. It was OK at best. Will I watch it again? Possibly, if I remember. There was nothing about it that made me want to keep up with it. In fact...

To get into Torchwood, one enters a tacky run down office and presses a secret button. Just like they did on "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." forty years ago.
A keen young copper starts getting nosy and ends up being co-opted into Torchwood. Wasn't that how Paul Foster joined S.H.A.D.O.?
We'll gloss over the fact that they drive around in an SPV and Captain Jack is actually Captain Scarlett shall we? We'll not mention the "Men in Black" mind wipes or the X-files beast from the sewers.

Alien sex monsters has been done to death, but at least Star Trek waited until the ratings were seriously struggling before playing the "lesbian snogging" scene.

It's not original TV.



24 October 2006 (Tuesday) - Still poorly

The cold with which I’ve been suffering for some three weeks has matured into sinusitis and conjunctivitis. Which is a bit pathetic really. I didn’t realise that being ill was some sort of a competition.

Whenever anyone hears how I’ve gone home from work early as I’m not well, they immediately regale me with a list of their symptoms, ailments and debilities which would do credit to the staunchest hypochondriac.

No one else ever has “a bit of a headache” – it’s “such a migraine” or nothing. No one else ever has “a bit of a cold” – it’s always full blown flu.

My tablets are a bit run of the mill too. Amoxycillin is so passé. It’s Chlorambuciphenotoxocytomyelozenamol or nothing these days.

So go on – tell me you’ve got bubonic plague.



25 October 2006 (Wednesday) - The wonderful postal system

The other day I moaned about country post offices. Today I’ll moan about urban ones.

A week or so ago Mr. Postman couldn’t be bothered to deliver a parcel. He came to the door, wrote out the “we tried to deliver…” note, stuffed it through the letterbox and shoved off. I know that he did this as I was sitting by the PC and heard the clunk of the letter box as the note came through, so I would definitely have heard the doorbell or him knocking on the door.

Now the note said to give it four hours, and then collect my parcel from the Appledore post office. So I gave it a while and phoned Appledore post office. They didn’t have the parcel. They said to try the Ashford sorting office as they share post vans and the postmen never seem to take any notice of which pre-printed notes they are using. I phoned the Ashford sorting office - they had the parcel, and I then queued with a load of other people who were grumbling about how their postman never knocks or rings but just leaves the notes. For some reason no one else had to provide any form of identification, but the chap behind the counter flatly refused to let me have my parcel without I.D. Needless to say I’d left my wallet at home.

I popped in the next morning before work when the nice lady behind the counter handed the parcel over without asking for any proof of identification at all.

 Last week I put some kites up for sale on eBay. An Australian chap asked me how much the postage would be. I took the kite to the post office to find out. They poked it, prodded it, weighed it and told me postage would be in the range of £25 - £30, depending on how well I wrapped it. Today when I went to post the thing to Australia I’m charged £11.98. When I asked the woman behind the counter why this was less than half of what she’d quoted four days ago she looked blankly at me as though she’d never seen me before in her life.

Now I’m all in favour of charging a little over the odds to cover the price of packing materials & eBay & PayPal costs, but £18 is a little bit keen.

I now appear to be deliberately ripping off eBay buyers. I’ve refunded as much as I can, but PayPal flatly refuses to allow me to refund more than £6.18 to the chap. I sense another negative feedback coming on. Thank you, the Post Office.



26 October 2006 (Thursday) - Doing what I do best.

26 October 2006 (Thursday) - Doing what I do best.magnify

I’m still diseased, I did something today I’ve not done in over ten years – I took a day off work sick. I sat on the settee and watched twelve episodes of “Star Trek: Enterprise” non-stop. It was brill. I feel so much better for it.



27 October 2006 (Friday) - Stupid people

One of the most endearing qualities about truly stupid people is that they don’t realise that everyone else isn’t (quite) as stupid as they are.

Take today’s stupid person who buys an ice lolly, but is so busy gossiping with the other stupid people that she doesn’t realise that if an ice lolly isn’t eaten, it melts. So there we have Ms Stupid standing in a pool of molten slop gossiping with her cronies. When finally the gossiping is over and she goes to walk away she (to quote the witnesses) “went arse over tit in a puddle of her own making”. Despite having just bought the lolly, and the lolly wrapper still being in her hand she then denied ever having had an ice lolly in her life and tried to blame the fall on the cleaners. She then waddled off to phone the “claims 4 U helpline”.

One wonders how much she can sue herself for.


28 October 2006 (Saturday) - Feeling like a Merry Man (!)

28 October 2006 (Saturday) - Feeling like a Merry Man (!)magnify

My bow & arrows arrived today. I had this wonderful idea to fake a picture of me with an arrow in my bum, but by the time I got round to it, everyone had gone out, so I thought I’d cheat and type “arrow in the arse” into Google and see what I got. I got the above picture. I love the internet.

Anyway, following the failure to find any archery shops on Wednesday, we’d tracked one down in Ramsgate. I say “tracked one down” – we had an address. Have you ever been to Ashburnham Road in Ramsgate? – I’m sure it’s a lovely place filled with lovely people, but I got the impression that if I’d gone on my own, one of the locals would have eaten me. We found the shop – not so much a shop as a sign by an alley. If I was on my own I would now be running away very fast, but there were three of us, so we felt brave as we ventured up this alley.

Not many shops have an archery range inside the shop, and it‘s always good to see the stuff “in the flesh”, but we won’t be going back there. I should have known that eBay would be SO much cheaper.

So now we have the bows, the arrows, the quivers, the bracers and the tabs. Batty has a target, and there’s some skanky old teddy bears in the scout hut that we need rid of. Anyone fancy a game of Robin Hood?



29 October 2006 (Sunday) - The pond is nearly done

I’m knackered. The day was spent “landscaping” – a technical term which means moving five tons of soil around until it looks pretty. The next move is to cover it all with a membrane & some pretty stones and then sit back, look at it and decide how we will do the next one differently. As work on the pond nears completion, the total spent stampedes towards four figures. I’m glad I decided to “do the pond myself”. The nice people at the pond centre near Hawkhurst offer a service where they come and “do the pond for you.” At the moment it looks as though the total that it will have cost me (including making the garden around it look pretty) will be about a quarter of what the pond centre people would charge for the pond alone. So it’s a saving really.

In the meantime I received an email from the British Kite Flying Association.

They have abandoned their decision to protect the privacy of my email address by broadcasting it to all and sundry on their mailing list. They have forgotten that it’s only two weeks since they told me that “my opinions are irrelevant”, “my questions are not important” and that “I have no status” as they are asking me for help. That’s two policy decisions reversed in two weeks. I REALLY resent having given up a whole Sunday to have been at their meeting. Anyway…. they have some scheme in which they are encouraging schools and youth groups to get involved with kite flying. I suppose it’s a laudable project, but I spent two years offering to help them. If they are now taking me up on that offer, they must be desperate.



30 October 2006 (Monday) - A telephone conversation

“Good afternoon, Acme garden centre, how can I help you?”

“Hello. I was in at the weekend and I saw you had two bags of brindle chippings. Could I order thirty bags for this weekend please?”

“We’ve got a delivery in three weeks time”

“I really wanted thirty bags this weekend.

“Three weeks time”

“Ok – can you reserve me thirty bags please”

“We’re - getting – thirty – bags – in – three – weeks – time - ! - ! - !”

“So if I want thirty bags, and someone else gets there first, then I’m stuffed, am I?”



And they say the customer is always right. I shall take my money elsewhere.



31 October 2006 (Halloween) Ghosties and Goolies

31 October 2006 (Halloween) Ghosties and Gooliesmagnify

We’re not allowed to have Halloween parties at cubs. The righteous say it’s devil worship, so we have a “Fright Night” and usually get away with it. There’s an increasing amount of people who are dead against Halloween. It’s a shame – it can be such fun, but as always a couple of troublemakers spoil it for everyone.

The cubs had an evening of fun and silly games, apple bobbing, wrapping the smallest in toilet roll to make a Mummy, silly beggars with cornflower.

I’d like to think the cubs enjoyed it. I did. Which is unusual. I used to be really keen about cubs, but it’s becoming more and more of a chore these days.