01 October 2007 (Monday) Plenty Offish

01 October 2007 (Monday) Plenty Offishmagnify

Some time ago I got directions to a pub in Milton Keynes that served beer from the local brewery. I went there last night - about a twenty minute walk from the hotel. I asked them about the Concrete Cow brewery whose beers the local newspaper clearly says they sell. The "barmaid" (for want of a better description) looked at me blankly, asked the other staff, and then told me quite categorically that they had no idea what I was talking about. She then turned back to serving the thugs that this place seems to attract. So I went to the pub over the road which was far better, cleaner, and the clientele didn't want a fight. They were really friendly in there – I got chatting with the barman who marked on my map a “must see” pub which was on my journey back to the hotel. This place wasn’t quite as good, but still worth a pint and a chat with the locals.

I should have kept up this pub crawl – today was disappointing. There are those people who say going on a work’s training course Is a good skive. I would disagree. Based in a hotel where not one of the staff seems to speak English, spending your spare time making polite conversation with a whole load of people you’ve never met before and will never meet again… I’d rather sit on my own and watch Star Trek DVDs. But tonight the reps took us out for a meal. I suppose it was OK, if you like Thai food. Me – I’d eat cat food if the company was up to scratch. I suppose the company was OK, it’s just that I don’t like to ponce about making polite conversation with a bunch of people who seem to excel at polite conversation. People-watching is always amusing though. I found myself in a minority in that there weren’t many of the eight blokes there who weren’t attempting to have sex with one (or more) of the three women. One of our number (Stormin’ Norman) would seem to excel at this caper. He got out his laptop and showed us a web site. He claimed it was “plenty of fish dot com”. Me – I’m going with “plenty offish dot com”. Billed as the world’s largest dating site, “Stormin’ Norman” claims to get sex on at least 30% of the dates he arranges through this site. Bearing in mind that objectively he’s fatter and marginally less foxy than “Yours Truly” (and over fifty) I’m left wondering if 30% is good or bad.


02 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Dull

02 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Dullmagnify

As part of the hospitality package we get £70 for hotel expenses, so last night was a late one. Whilst I resent paying £4 for a glass of port, if someone else is picking up the bill, I’ll force myself. And so it was 1.30am before I said goodbye to my fellow students and left a hard core of three or four people in the bar. The term “hard core” was quite apt, as “Stormin’ Norman” was showing off some rather risqué videos on his laptop to the last of the three women on the course to still be standing.

The hotel room’s air conditioning was permanently set on “sauna”, and none of the staff seemed able to understand what I was talking about. Added to this it sounded like I had the British Olympic tap-dancing elephants in the next room, so I didn’t sleep well, and was down for brekky at 7am. “StorminNorman” was still on his laptop at the bar. I’d like to think he’d not been there all night. The day’s course was hard going, and I went straight from the course to the town centre. There was a shopping complex there which I’m told puts Ashford’s designer outlet to shame. It might if the shops were open. Billed to be open till 9pm, as I walked round at 6.30pm, 75% of the shops were closed. But I got a box of Star Trek DVDs cheap.

I went back to the hotel, and spent twenty minutes explaining to the staff that I wanted a steak baguette and a glass of Coca-cola. Whilst the rest of the people on the course sat about either making polite conversation or attempting to have sex with each other, I took my steak baguette and Coca-cola back to my room and fell asleep whilst watching Star Trek DVDs.

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03 October 2007 (Wednesday) - Commuting

It took just over two hours to get back from Milton Keynes this afternoon. The journey was dull. I didn’t actually fall asleep at the wheel, but I felt my head nodding once or twice. Brian had lent me some Discworld tapes to pass the time, and I was grateful for them. And I was grateful to get home. The chap who ran our course lives in Liverpool, and he was saying that for most of the time he lives in hotels, travelling all over the country. Apparently he usually get home midweek, and is home for weekends. In the course of his work he covers the entire country and Ireland too, so Liverpool is fairly central.

I couldn’t do that.


04 October 2007 (Thursday) - An Anniversary

04 October 2007 (Thursday) - An Anniversarymagnify


Twenty-one years, eh !


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05 October 2007 (Friday) - Spending the Public's Money

05 October 2007 (Friday) - Spending the Public's Moneymagnify

I see our local post office is threatened with closure. It transpires that nationally the post office is losing four million pounds every week. Well, they aren’t charities, If someone chooses to live in the back of beyond, then they are going to have to travel a bit further to post their parcels now. Providing, of course, that is why they need a post office. Or are these people collecting pensions (which could be paid directly into an account), paying bills (which could have been done by direct debit), getting road tax or fishing licences (which can be done on-line) or anything else which you don't actually *need* a post office for. And it’s tax payer’s money that’s going down the toilet here.

The post offices could be kept going for a couple more weeks if the government were to abandon this farcical inquest into the death of the Queen of Hearts. Like her or loathe her, she’s been dead for ten years. Are they planning to bring her back from the dead? What is the inquest going to find? The only sure thing to emerge will be that her face still sells newspapers.


06 October 2007 (Saturday) - Folkestone

06 October 2007 (Saturday) - Folkestonemagnify

(In just over a year, this blog has received twenty thousand hits. That’s over fifty a day. I’m impressed! …… And with no further adieu, today’s drivel is about Folkestone. I expect you figured that out from the title and the picture)

The original plan for today didn’t feature me working this morning, but one of my lads had a bit of a family crisis so I stepped into the breach. I don’t mind working Saturday mornings – it’s the one time I know everyone’s glad to see the boss. They all know that when I’m doing a Saturday I bring in doughnuts.

Kate had a friend over last night and this afternoon we ran her back home to Folkestone, and then we had a mooch around. We lived in Folkestone from September 1984 to April 1986, so I consider myself something of an expert on all things Folkestonian. It has to be said that the place has changed somewhat in the intervening twenty one years. The wonderful aquarium shops are gone, as is “Eureka” – the place which sold absolutely everything really cheaply. HMV is no longer in the basement of Debenhams, and WH Smith’s has lost its top floor. The Rotunda and the scenic railway are gone. In fact there’s not a lot left apart from Chambers bar and the ice cream shop.

However, the Leas have been done up, and are very scenic. Renovations include the installation of cider-drinking tramps, invisible friends with whom the mad people can speak, and foreign homosexuals (complete with cravats) for those to whom that sort of thing appeals.

I think I’ll try Eastbourne next weekend…


07 October 2007 (Sunday) - Off to Milton Keynes Again

07 October 2007 (Sunday) - Off to Milton Keynes Againmagnify

Last Sunday I missed out on meeting up with friends. I’m missing out again today.

Not content with having a residential in Milton Keynes last week, I’m doing the same again this week. Last week I learned all about the new software for work – this week is the hardware. My two blood-count-ometersBruce” & “Sheila” are being replaced with “Bruce 2”, “Sheila 2” and “Skippy” together with automated blood film maker/stainer, automated ESR analyser, a conveyor belt system which connects the lot and automated sample filing & retrieval. In layman’s terms, it cost a fortune, it’s the cat’s cock of blood test technology, and I can’t wait to see what bit I can break first.

Milton Keynes here I come. See you all on Thursday…..


08 October 2007 (Monday) - Back in Milton Keynes

08 October 2007 (Monday) - Back in Milton Keynesmagnify

It would seem to be standard practice on these training courses for the reps to take the participants out for a meal on the Monday evening. In order to calm my nerves, I thought I’d have a pint beforehand. And bearing in mind how crap the hotel bar is, I went next door to the Wetherspoons. On the one hand they had “Puritan’s Porter” at £1.89 a pint. On the other hand I was the only person at the bar, there were three bar staff and it took them five minutes to serve me, and the porter was ice-cold. I left half of it and set off to “make polite conversation.

Last week’s course was OK, but it has to be said the place was top-heavy with “normal people”. This week was somewhat better with two of us from Kent, a likeable pair of Glaswegians and four girls from Ireland on a related course with whom we shared the training areas. The chap running the course was someone I’ve known on and off for years, which was good too. Rather than poncing about travelling miles to find a restaurant that specialises in Mongolian, Patagonian or some other obscure part of the world’s food, we walked twenty yards to a “Sam and Maxies”. “Sam and Maxies” sell overpriced dead animals. The food’s good, but I wouldn’t pay their prices. And, it has to be said, their beer selection is somewhat lacking.

Doesn’t anyone in Central Milton Keynes sell a half-way decent ale?


09 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Stroking the Fit Bird

09 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Stroking the Fit Birdmagnify

The course finished quite early today, and with nothing planned for the evening, the chap running the training took us on a car journey around Milton Keynes. It turns out that what I thought was the shopping centre last week was actually only about 10% of the shops. So I thought I’d kill some time there and see what I’d missed last time. I loaded up with loads of Star Trek DVDs, some Xmas pressies, and then, having been menaced by a one-eared Dalek in Waterstones, I scored. A “hyper-fit bird TM” asked if I’d ever heard of the Dead Sea, wittered on about the health giving properties of Dead Sea Salt, invited me to stroke her silky soft bits (!) and then started goosing my hands up.

The town might not have any decent ale, but it’s not all bad….



10 October 2007 (Wednesday) - People Watching

10 October 2007 (Wednesday) - People Watchingmagnify

The Irish girls went home today. Probably for the best – they had a cob-on. As part of the “accommodation package” we get £70 to spend in the hotel. I bought a sandwich & a glass of pop on Sunday and Tuesday nights and a few drinks here and there. The Irish girls thought they’d spend their allowance on phone calls home. No one told them phone calls weren’t included in the deal. As they checked out they were presented with bills for the phone calls. One girl was charged £40 for three calls. There’s a moral to be drawn from this – never phone from a hotel.

As our course went over four days, tonight the remaining four of us got taken out again. One of the reps and her husband took us to a Cantonese restaurant. Chinese food is OK if you like it. I can take it or leave it. Rather than expressing a preference, I just go with the flow. To be fair to the restaurant the food was good. Those in our party who specialise in this stuff were impressed. I would honestly rather go to McDonalds. But that’s me.

And so back to the hotel to drink up the last of our bar allowance. The rest of the evening was spent watching people in the adjacent block of apartments. There was a bloke wandering around in the nip. We saw his bum. It was great! There was a burglar watching porn on the Internet. There was a massage parlour on the top floor. There was “TV Man” who laid back and watched telly whilst “TV Girl” fetched him tins of beer every so often. There was “Kitchen Man” who would alternately get food from his kitchen and scratch his bum. There was what looked like a drugs den next door to what looked like the police watching closed circuit TV. There was a nosy neighbour whose curtain kept twitching. Then “TV Man” got up, took off his trousers, had a rummage with “TV Girl”, and lay down again until “TV Girl” came back and let rip on his face. It was great. I gave up and went to bed at 12.30am, but the rest of our group stayed up till 2.30am.

At first you wonder why these people haven’t heard of curtains. But soon you’re glad they haven’t.


11 October 2007 (Thursday) - Home Again

11 October 2007 (Thursday) - Home Againmagnify

Having spent a week in a hotel, I’m glad to be home again. On the one hand it was good to get up in the morning, walk down to a full English breakfast which was ready whenever I was, to come back to find someone’s made my bed and tidied my room.

On the other hand, there was always some fierce old biddy standing over me at breakfast poised like a coiled spring to take away my plate even though I was still eating. And the air conditioning in my room was rubbish (unless you like a room temperature of 26.5 oC when you wake up). And it took fifteen minutes to pay for a drink at the bar (and that’s with three bar staff all seeing to me). And “room service” meant I ordered what I wanted at the bar, waited for it and then carried it up to my room. And there was no point whatsoever complaining as there wasn’t anyone there who understood sufficient English to understand what I was talking about. Racist? No – a simple statement of fact.

And Milton Keynes itself? From what little I’ve seen of the USA, I get the distinct impression the town is styled on an American city, laid out with horizontal and vertical boulevards. It’s OK to visit, provided you have a car – everything is miles away from everything else. I’ve got the distinct impression that there’s a lot more to see, but I’d need a guide to find it all.

The course finished at mid day, and just as I was making my goodbyes, the company secretary told me that both the M1 and the Thurrock bridge were closed, and that their staff (who were in Ashford) had booked into hotels and were staying put in Kent. What do you do when faced with a dilemma like that? I decided to expect the worst, whilst hoping for the best and set off from home. Idiot enthusiasm usually triumphs over common sense, and again it did today. Yes the M1 was closed – northbound. Southbound was fine. But the Thurrock Bridge was closed, and traffic was using one of the tunnels. With the radio claiming a seventeen mile tail back of traffic, I went the other way around the M25 to that which I was planning to do, and was home only some ten minutes later that I was originally expecting.

Now to put all that I’ve learned into practice…

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12 October 2007 (Friday) - Spending Money Wisely...

As I was driving into work (an hour earlier than I really should have been there) the radio was broadcasting a piece about a chap who is employed at the central criminal courts in London. His job is to wind up all the clocks. Apparently there are a lot of clocks that need winding. Such clocks add to the ambience of the place. And the cost, one would assume.

A couple of nights ago I was in a hotel. I remarked to fellow drunkards that at 10pm there is only one member of staff on duty in any given hospital blood bank. At the same time there were three bar staff being paid to deal with ten hotel residents.

Hotels and legal fees are expensive.

Today’s newspapers complain about the shortcomings of the NHS. Dirty wards, filthy hospitals, etc, etc, blah, blah. But cheap hospitals are a vote winner…?


13 October 2007 (Saturday) - Eastbourne

13 October 2007 (Saturday) - Eastbournemagnify

The plan was to meet up in Eastbourne. The route is a familiar one, but for a laugh we thought we’d follow the advice of the scrat-nav. Scrat-nav took us along an interesting route. It can be programmed for fastest, quickest, via points of interest. Today I think it was set to “the navigator is pissed mode” as it took us a route that never in my wildest imagination would I use to get to Eastbourne. As luck would have it, we passed an old stomping ground, Great Wood in Battle. Half an hour was spent mooching along old haunts before resuming a rather circuitous route to Eastbourne.

Arriving somewhat earlier than planned, we popped into the Buccaneer for a couple of pints and some chips before crossing the road to the ice cream parlour where loads of us scoffed ice cream until we felt sick, and the rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the shops, walking off the pig-out. A few Xmas pressies were bought, and then one of the normal people leapt out of a bus stop and announced that Jesus was his friend, Jesus loves him and also loves all of us too. I’ve heard this mentioned before, but I must admit that I am somewhat sceptical. I asked the “sunbeam” why is it that (if Jesus loves us so much) he allows small children to die slowly from leukaemia? The “sunbeam” was somewhat vague on this point, so I pointed out that as him and Jesus were such good friends, perhaps he might ask Jesus why this happens. The “sunbeam” then backtracked somewhat and admitted that he wasn’t on quite such close terms with the almighty as he’d originally led us to believe.

Goodbyes were said, scrat-nav re-activated and home we went. Along a completely different route to the one we’d taken on the way down. One which led us into an unmarked police speed trap. OK, so the locals might speed along a certain stretch of road and having been caught doing so a few times, then maybe the law might be enforced. But if the speed limit is unclear to the visitor to the area, surely the policeman would use his discretion and send that visitor away with nothing more than a slapped wrist? You might think so.

Perhaps if I hadn’t disrespected a certain deity earlier in the day, things might have ended differently….


14 October 2007 (Sunday) - Bored

14 October 2007 (Sunday) - Boredmagnify

Being the 941st anniversary of the battle of Hastings, we should have gone to see the re-enactment, but I never got round to organising anything, and I didn’t get out of my pit early enough anyway.

The lawn got its first mowing for three weeks, and pleasantries were exchanged with the bloke next door. Diplomatic relations have been somewhat frosty for some years, so hopefully this is a good sign. I asked him if he’d like me to pass him his apples which are overhanging our garden. He said we could have them – apple pie for tea!

The poor washing machine hasn’t stopped. Currently on it’s sixth load of the day, it’s my plan to be able to be able to put all the dirty washing into the dirty laundry basket by the end of the day. In years gone by I wouldn’t have imagined having an empty laundry basket as one of my life goals, but one keeps smiling.

And as NeverWinter Nights still fails to load up, I’m wasting my time with “Mr Matt”, an addictive shareware silly game that you really don’t want to download…


15 October 2007 (Monday) - On The Beer - Not For Much Longer...

15 October 2007 (Monday) - On The Beer - Not For Much Longer...magnify

Much as I like a crafty pint, I don’t actually spend that much time (or money) in the pub. I often wonder if I shouldn’t support pubs more – after all, they are businesses, and if they don’t make a profit, they close. I also wonder how profitable they can be – it you pop into the one round the corner midweek, it’s all but empty. And now the government plans to stick the knife in even more. There are plans to increase taxes on pubs with quiz nights, football teams or even dartboards.

Brilliant thinking – that should empty the pubs even more….


16 October 2007 (Tuesday) - The Flight of the Death Toilet

16 October 2007 (Tuesday) - The Flight of the Death Toiletmagnify

The day started badly when some problems with next week’s staffing rota were pointed out to me. Next Tuesday I was down to be working both early and late shifts, and on next Wednesday, two of the three people scheduled to be working late were both me. I set off to have it out with the twit who’d devised this rota, only to realise that it was me who’d committed this faux pas. Woops!

The rest of the day continued in much the same vein. It was with something of a sense of relief that I left early for cubs. I haven’t been along for a couple of weeks, and they are as noisy as ever. “Big Jimmy Spanner” was up to his old tricks. He flatly refused to shut up for anyone this evening. He just wittered on spouting drivel in his attempts at attention seeking. It doesn’t work with me – I tell him to shut up and get on with whatever we are doing (learning to tie a reef knot this time) but he just forced tears out. One of the lady leaders then took him off to a corner. Which was exactly the attention he was seeking, and encourages him to continue his disruptive behaviour.

The next activity was making paper aeroplanes, and seeing who could fly one the furthest. Fortunately for all, “Big Jimmy Spanner” only managed a maiden flight of eighteen inches. He then spent the rest of the evening sulking in a corner about his abysmal performance. With him out of the way we were then able to achieve something with the other 30+ cubs. Planes were named and decorated and flown, and it has to be said that my own effort (pictured above) finished in the top half-dozen. I can now proudly boast that I can make a paper aeroplane that flies better than paper aeroplanes made by the average eight year old.

As time goes by, one finds ones self treasuring these small victories…



17 October 2007 (Wednesday) - I've Had an E-Mail

17 October 2007 (Wednesday) - I've Had an E-Mailmagnify

I had an email today. Well, between 7.30am and 6pm I had 547 of them. One of them advertised this really interesting web site, featuring ladies of loose morals. Hot on the heels of my getting sniffed up by the defoliation bird last week, my life is getting somewhat racy. Registration with this web site is totally free as well. It claims I’m guaranteed a 89% change of having a nudey sauce romp with someone living in my neighbourhood. That’s better than a poke up the bum with a sharp stick. Let’s review my potential protagonists:

Number 1 (lilprecious3B) is a 25 year old (pah) female (allegedly) UK Amazon hunting Viking

Number 2 (NOLADY4UV) is a 24 year old female who “needs it bad” (!)

Number 3 (fvgit4873498M) is a 27 year old female who is “looking for her Romeo.

Number 4 (HotCoco001AH) is a 26 year old female who is “looking for hot, anywhere sex!

However, there’s only one small snag preventing me bringing home a dose of the raging knobrot – far from “living in my neighbourhood”, this bunch of boilers are all based in China.

Which is probably for the best…..



18 October 2007 (Thursday) - At The Doctor's

Went to the quack’s today. Some eighteen months after landing on my chuff in a freak rollerblading accident, it still hurts. The quack didn’t laugh (much) and suggested anti-inflammatory cream. If this don’t work, then I will have to undergo physiotherapy of the arse. One wonders what exercises it will have to undergo. In the meantime, it’s official that I don’t have a fat ass - it’s inflamed.

As I walked out, I was intrigued by one of the posters on the wall. They are offering flu jabs, and they are reminding people that in order to get a flu jab, the quack needs to get at the patient’s arm. Therefore patients are asked to please not walk into the consulting room still wearing coats, jumpers and pullovers. There are those who think this is harsh, but I remember when I used to be on “taking blood out of people’s arms duty” (admittedly many years ago now) I could stick the needle in, take the blood, bottle & label it and put on the plaster in 30 seconds. But it could take some old biddies up to fifteen minutes to get the copious layers off, and even longer to get them back on again. Telling them to come in for a jab already prepared is common sense really, but it’s a shame that people are so thick they need to be told this.

There was also a poster saying that in the last month, 268 people had missed appointments. This apparently represents a waste of 45 working hours to the surgery. Perhaps these 268 people should be charged for the waste of time. That’s one way that the NHS could try to balance the books….



19 October 2007 (Friday) - Justice?

19 October 2007 (Friday) - Justice?magnify

Mr Ernest Norton, late of Erith, lived within fifty miles of my house. Last year he was killed by a bunch of young thugs. Today those thugs were jailed for a mere two years. The detective inspector who was leading the prosecution claimed the thugs had received a "tough sentence" and that "justice has been done".

"Tough sentence" my inflamed arse!!!

These brats should be executed. Executed, for all to see, on live TV. And then their corpses hung on London Bridge to serve as a warning to others. I’d pull the lever myself. I really would. What kind of society do we have where it’s not safe to play a game of cricket at the local leisure centre?

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20 October 2007 (Saturday) - A Walk in the Countryside

20 October 2007 (Saturday) - A Walk in the Countrysidemagnify

Our last excursion into the unknown ended up with us heading slightly off course, so in addition to a map, this time a compass was packed as well. Seven of us set out from “chez Chip”, the plan being to walk across the Eastwell estate to the Flying Horse at Boughton Aluph.

There was just the teensiest hiccup. On arriving at the splendid gates to the Eastwell estate, they were barred. A sign read “No pedestrian access”. On the other side of the gate was a dog with more teeth than sense. A quick change of plan had us walking a slightly longer route. But a much more scenic route. We found the remains of St Mary’s church, dating back from at least five hundred years ago. That’s somewhere for some arky-ologee. We found a huge lake we never knew existed. We saw hobbiton in the distance. We made friends with the local cattle.

And after little more than an hour we found a crisps shop. And (would you believe it?) that crisps shop sold beer! Courage Best, Spitfire and Greene King IPA. I know – I had a pint of all of them. They also did home made burgers which were very tasty. Unusually for our Saturday walks, this pub was busy. Funnily enough, most places we walk to are quiet – this place wasn’t. It’s obviously the place to go in Boughton Aluph. To be honest, it’s the only place to go in Boughton Aluph.

We sunk the last of the third pint, set off, and soon were back home again. When I list my hobbies, I always have “walking” in the top three. But I don’t get out walking nearly as much as I’d like. Today’s jaunt couldn’t have been more than 5km, and I really ache…..

Make a date in your diaries – the next walk is two weeks today – Saturday 3rd November at Kings Wood in Challock. It’s a guided walk starting at 10am, and finishing at mid day so there’s plenty of time for a bag of crisps afterwards.


21 October 2007 (Sunday) - Fun with a Wardrobe

21 October 2007 (Sunday) - Fun with a Wardrobemagnify

With NeverWinter Nights still seemingly un-installable, I’m powering through Star Trek DVDs. I’ll have run out soon, so yesterday I popped up town to get season four of Voyager. They didn’t have it. I phoned HMV in Canterbury who did, but they were about to close. They said they’d put it to one side and I could pick it up at 10am this morning. There was only one flaw with this plan – 10am – pah ! They didn’t actually open until 10.30am. So I mooched about Canterbury in the cold for a bit. For some reason there was a queue of about fifty old biddies waiting to get into the Canterbury Tales. One wonders what the attraction is for them there on a Sunday morning. Another favourite, Canterbury Gifts, now resembles a building site. The entire inside has been stripped out. I can’t help but wonder what’s going on. For years this has been the place to buy Xmas pressies for ‘er indoors. This year it will have to be eBay.

And so home. With nothing planned for the day, I’d thought to do a tip run. Brian had some rubbish to ding out as well, so I had an Espace full. Part of the rubbish to be dinged (or should that be “dung”?) was a bed. A bed too long to fit in the Espace. So, to the amusement of passers-by we set about the bed in the street with a saw. The tip was attracting the same twits as ever. There were those kissing goodbye to each scrap of rubbish individually, those with maybe half a carrier bag full, but at least with the new queuing system you can get in and out a lot quicker.

And so back to Brian’s where, having emptied out the spare room, he had space for the wardrobe. The wardrobe which was in the garden shed. It has to be said that the ladder was a bit touch and go at times, but in a triumph of idiot enthusiasm the wardrobe went into the house through the upstairs back window.

Now to get these Star Trek DVDs watched…..


22 October 2007 (Monday) - Beta Thalassaemia Major

22 October 2007 (Monday) - Beta Thalassaemia Majormagnify

Today was dull. I got up, watched some DVDs, went to work, got stressed with it, and came home again. And today I heard about something that annoyed me. There’s a new screening program for a range of diseases, the haemoglobinopathies. I did my thesis on those, you know. But the people who are most in need of screening for these conditions can opt out if they want to.

Why? If having declined pre natal screening they bring into this world a child with thalassaemia major then what? The child has untold suffering, dies early and runs up a bill to the NHS of tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of pounds. Avoidable suffering and expense.

Either people want the benefits of a twenty first century health care system or they do not. I’m reminded of a pikey relative of mine who refused all blood tests while pregnant. Whilst pissed at Xmas one year we were talking about her baby. I made the observation “if it lives”. She was shocked. She thought that we stuck needles into people and sucked their blood out for fun, to pass the time. She, like so many others, had no conception that it was for the health and well being of mother and baby. …


23 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Another Silly Game

23 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Another Silly Gamemagnify

These late starts give me the morning free to do whatever I want to get up to. A DVD or two, did the monthly accounts and wasted some time on an old computer game - Star Trek Away Team.

To view this multimedia content, please enable Javascript.

Originally released some years ago and devised to run on Windows 95, it passes the time until I can get NeverWinter fixed. Which (it has to be said) is looking less likely as time goes by.

I can install NeverWinter Nights. That seems to work and is playable. But when I then install the expansion, that's when it goes tits. It seems to install ok, takes the CD registration key fine, seems to install, but when I come to play, just before the actual playing the game bit it constantly asks for the CD key. The numbers & letters which it accepted fine on installing aren't accepted, and I can get no further. I *think* I can manage without the expansions - I'll have to find out. But there's more to life than a silly computer game (he desperately tried to convince himself)


24 October 2007 (Wednesday) - The Neo-Inquisition

24 October 2007 (Wednesday) - The Neo-Inquisitionmagnify

Some four hundred years ago Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest for life for his theories on the Earth not being the centre of the universe. As evidence in his defence he quoted the moons going round Jupiter, and offered to show them to the inquisition. The inquisitors refused to look through the telescope. They knew what was right and what was wrong without the confusing influence of “facts”.

It’s commonly said that history repeats itself. On the way home tonight I was listening to “The Moral Maze” on Radio Four. It transpires that it’s been established for years that there are racial variations in whatever it is that we define as “intelligence”. Take as one measure, I.Q. scores. It transpires that when the test was devised, the average man in the street would score 100. But the average man in the street was white Caucasian when the test was devised. The average Chinese bloke scores 105, the average bloke from sub-Saharan Africa scores 75. It would seem that from hundreds of surveys and investigations over many years, there are racial variations in average intelligence. That’s not to say everyone from sub-Saharan Africa is thick. (There’s plenty of doctors from there!). And that’s not making any moral judgments on genetic superiority. There’s probably untold numbers of environmental factors coming into play. But the fact remains that on average people from some parts of the world are (on average) brighter than people from other parts. Some racial groups generally are better athletes, that has been known for years. And there are racial variations in blood groups and haemoglobin that I could witter on about ad-nauseum.

Let’s be clear on what I’m saying here. There are variations in all manner of things between different racial groups. Just look at us – we are different colours for a start. That’s not making any assertions of superiority of one group over another, just a simple statement of fact.

Some silly cow on the radio program this evening was attacking one of the many scientists who’d come up with some of this information because “it was wrong”. She openly admitted she’d not seen the research. She went on to say she didn’t want to see it either. She didn’t need to see the research to know it was wrong. But this wasn’t any silly cow. This was a highly educated ……… neo-inquisitor... ?


25 October 2007 (Thursday) - On The Moon

25 October 2007 (Thursday) - On The Moonmagnify

Yesterday the Chinese sent a probe off to the moon. It’s going to do reconnaissance for a landing mission planned for 2012, and manned missions in about 2017. Which is about a year before NASA plans to land on the moon again.

I say again. One can’t help but wonder if they really did land on the moon in 1969. Because if they did, why is it taking them so long to get back?

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26 October 2007 (Friday) - A Load of Rubbish

26 October 2007 (Friday) - A Load of Rubbishmagnify

Should you have a late start or a day off work on a Friday and you live up our road, you have a 50% chance of getting a lie in. Every other Friday is recycling day. It’s quite apparent that the bin men don’t want to do this job, judging by watching them and listening to the noise they make.

Today they didn’t collect our blue box because “it hadn’t been left out for them”. As you can see, I have been inconsiderate by not putting the bin closer to the pavement. Had the bin man collected it, he would have had to walk some two metres to collect the bin, but not to put it back (because they don’t). By my rough and ready calculations, if everyone up my street had been so thoughtless as to leave their bins by the front door this would have added slightly less than six minutes to the length of time it takes to do the road. But then, there’s half a dozen doing the job, so I don’t honestly think it would be noticeable.

I phoned the council, and got the runaround, finally being phoned back to be told that they’d send someone to collect the stuff. The chap I spoke to politely asked if I would try to remember to put the stuff out in future. Although he admitted it was only a very small distance, apparently we all need to “appease the contractor”. It would seem the £99 council tax I pay each month isn’t appeasement enough…..



27 October 2007 (Saturday) - Paying Attention

27 October 2007 (Saturday) - Paying Attentionmagnify

After I finished work it was home for a quick bit of dinner and then round to Brian’s. I’d promised to take some stuff to the tip with him. And I was glad that I did. We got the tat to the tip, and once it was all dinged out into the relevant bins, I got surveyed by the “foxy survey bird TM”. She had a super sexy high-vis KCC jacket, and a moustache. Something to grab hold of – Woof ! She asked me about the “whole visiting the tip experience” and asked me to rate the various elements of the episode on a scale of one to five. I had an element she could rate, but not at the tip.

Back to Brian’s, where we carefully dismantled Brian’s shed. Brian’s got the scars to show how careful my efforts at dismantling were. And then home for a wash and brush up before the evening’s excursion. Apparently I’d been told about Shadoxhurst bonfire some weeks before, but I hadn’t been listening. I really should pay more attention to “er indoor’s rattle”. Take my current guts ache for example (I am farting like a thing that farts really badly at the moment). At mid day today what I heard was “blah blah blah, pork pie for your dinner”. “Pork pie” was all I needed to know. Or so I thought. What she’d actually said was “It’s six weeks past it’s sell by date, gone rancid and has been in the sunshine for a month but would you like this mouldy pork pie for your dinner”. It’s amazing what you miss when you’re not paying attention.

Shadoxhurst bonfire was really good – a huge fire, good fireworks, and a mini-fun fair where I won a teddy bear to go with my pink light sabre. That scared the normal people.

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28 October 2007 (Sunday) - Rainy Sunday

28 October 2007 (Sunday) - Rainy Sundaymagnify

Up early and off to collect the projector for tomorrow’s meeting of the Astronomy club. And then to some of the shops surrounding Lakeside. Which sounds easier than it is. In many ways the retail park surrounding Lakeside is akin to Milton Keynes – it’s not designed for the pedestrian. By the time we’d navigated the traffic and parked at Decathlon, navigated the traffic again and parked at PC World and navigated the traffic again and parked at B&Q we’d spent the best part of three hours and only seen three shops. An hour a shop isn’t good going. But I did get my walking stick and a sexy pink fleece. Just wait till the next hike. I know one of my loyal readers who will lay an egg!

And then home to find that the self-appointed secretary of the Astronomy club had phoned. Would I call him back? If I had his number, I would. Fortunately his was the last call to the house, so 1471 worked its magic. “I hear you were thinking about doing something about Mars tomorrow” he announced in a rather disparaging tone. (As it happens, I had been thinking about doing something on Mars tomorrow night. I’ve been thinking and planning something for a couple of months.) He then went on to imply that whatever it was that I might have planned, could I get it over with as quickly as possible. It transpires that we may have new members, and the evening would be better spent with him talking to them rather than me.

He means well…..


29 October 2007 (Monday) - Illudium Phosdex

29 October 2007 (Monday) - Illudium Phosdexmagnify

On 18th October I posted about my experiences at the doctors because my **** hurt. Apparently someone took offence to the photo and complained. Earlier today the entry was actually gone, but I see it’s come back now. I’ve asked the people at Yahoo 360 exactly what was offensive in that picture. I really don’t want to offend anyone, but I honestly don’t think that a picture of a fat bum is “mature content”. I’ve censored the picture anyway, just to keep everyone happy. Perhaps it’s far ruder to the American audience than it is to the UK?

Far ruder was the reception I had at the astronomy club. Having spent some months preparing for tonight, at the risk of sounding big-headed I must admit I was pleased with what I did. A historical perspective of Mars, a summary of the more important probes to Mars, a synopsis of some of the science we’ve learned, and an overview of future plans for exploration of Mars. All with the occasional mysteron and ice warrior thrown in. I amazed myself by explaining potassium/argon dating of Martian meteorites; in retrospect I forgot to mention Illudium Phosdex.

And then I was curtly and abruptly shut up so that those who prefer the sound of their own voice could attempt to share that sound with the audience. Attempt being the operative word, as Kat used the PC/projector to play a HUGE game of minesweeper which the audience found far more interesting. I’m glad she did – it made me smile, rather than explode. But still that voice continued, even though it really had nothing to say.

I must admit I was somewhat disappointed at the turn-out tonight. The old hands and one-time regulars are falling by the wayside, and you can’t blame them. No matter what anyone tries to do or say, “the voice” drones on with its own agenda, ignoring and drowning out everyone else. It now wants a formal organisation with elected officials. This suggestion has been discussed before and thrown out. Perhaps we should elect officials and officially tell him to shut up…



30 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Comets

30 October 2007 (Tuesday) - Cometsmagnify

If you go out after just after dark and look directly overhead you’ll see six stars making a W-shape. That’s Cassiopeia. If you follow an imaginary line from Cassiopeia down to the moon, on the way you’ll find three stars making a triangle. The bottom left of these stars is comet Holmes. If you look at it through binoculars you’ll see it’s not a star at all, but a blob.

I’m now 43, and this is only the third comet I’ve ever seen. My grandmother saw six by the time she was seven years old. 1910 was a good year for comets.


31 October 2007 (Wednesday) - Hallowe'en

31 October 2007 (Wednesday) - Hallowe'enmagnify

Over the last few years, “Trick or Treat” has become more than just an imported American-ism. It’s become a tradition. Personally I liken it to carol singing. As a child I was an avid carol singer. Me and a gaggle of mates would swarm round the streets, bashing on front doors. Once someone answered the door, we’d squall at them that we wished them a merry Xmas. Half of the people we’d serenaded would tell us to clear off, half would give us five pence. In those days you could get two lumps of chicken and a bag of chips from the KFC for 42p, so we’d squall for about half an hour, have supper and go home. “Trick or Treat” is similar in some ways, but it takes a little more effort from those doing it. OK, so you have to dress like a ghostie or a goolie, but there are lots of costumes cheaply available in the shops.

I’ve got a load of fun sized mars bars ready to hand out to the kiddies who come calling tonight. There won’t be many callers, and anything that don’t get given out I can scoff myself later. I’m looking forward to it. Last night as I took the projector back to its rightful home I saw on a few doors people had put up signs asking that people don’t call doing “Trick or Treat”. I find that rather sad, but I’m told that by encouraging “Trick or Treaters” I’m just contributing to anti-social behaviour. I can’t see it myself…