1 September 2023 (Friday) - This n That
Being wide awake far too early again I got up and consoled myself by having a shave with a new razor blade, what with it being the first of the month today. I'm very mean; I get myself a new razor blade on the first of each month and make it last for a month. There's no denying things get a bit scrapy towards the end of the month.
I made toast, watched an episode of "Shameless" and rolled my eyes at one of the sci-fi related pages on Facebook today. Following a few posts about the show "Blake's Seven" earlier in the week, some idiot had started watching the show. Said idiot was quite enjoying it (it is rather entertaining as I remember) but was furious when he'd read spoilers about how at the end they all die. Mind you, I'm not sure if "spoilers" is the right word bearing in mind the episode in which they all died was first aired nearly forty-two years ago.
(If you didn't know that they all died, sorry!)
I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some chap who is one of the leading lights in the rail industry. It would seem the train drivers are on strike again. This chap claimed that at the moment the average train driver in the UK gets £65,000 basic pay for a four-day week. But this was wrong. The figure is actually £48,500. Mind you, that's not really much difference to worry about when you think that the average UK household income is only £34,000. If I ever need to travel anywhere by train again I shall check the coaches first. And will seriously consider a taxi.
And with all the country's schools looking to start business again over the next few days, the announcement was made that quite a lot of them (about a hundred) are structurally unsound and frankly dangerous. Quite a few schools are looking to have classes in village halls or remotely via Teams video calling as they've already had bits fall down. Apparently a lot of schools were built out of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete which was all very well when it was first made, but now the stuff is crumbling and collapsing. There was an interview about this with some Labour party rabble rouser who claimed that this isn't news; the government knew about it at least five years ago, and it's not just schools but all sorts of other public buildings too.
I got to work and glanced at the ceiling. Was that about to come down on me? As I pondered I had something of a macrocytic sort of day. You get those in my world.
As I peered down my microscope I had a phone call from Mackenzie of Clear Compare. She wanted to know if I had life insurance. I told her that I might have. She wasn't having any of my lip. She demanded to know if I had life insurance. "Yes or no!" she rudely shouted. I told her that if I had it with her company I would be closing the policy, and if I didn't then I would get it from a competitor. I told her that whether I had life insurance or not was none of her business and added her to my phone's growing "blocked" list.
I also had an email from my professional regulator telling me it was time to re-register for another two years. It only took a couple of minutes to do, and I’m going to pay the two hundred pounds by direct debit. I bet those striking train drivers don’t have to pay a professional regulator to be allowed to do their job…
With work done I came home. “er indoors TM” was just finishing so we all went down to Orlestone for a bit of a walk. Orlestone is a very pretty place to walk. And photograph bees.
At one point as the dogs were charging round like things possessed Treacle came back to us hobbling. She’d clearly hurt her leg. She hopped round on three legs for a bit, then straggled really slowly looking very sorry for herself. Then when Morgan and Bailey saw something to chase she also flew off like a bullet from a gun. That leg got better quickly.
“er indoors TM” boiled up fish and chips which we scoffed as we started watching the first episode of the latest season of “SAS: Who Dares Wins” (which has been on the Sky Q box for ages). As always there was a lot of hard-man-talk about being comrades in arms and all for one and all for one… Am I being cynical in wondering what all the other stars of the show kept on taking the money when the original leader Ant Middleton got the push?
As I watched I pulled several thorns out of Bailey who had clearly been running through too many bramble bushes.
I then spent a little while setting up “Hannah” (my GPS unit) for tomorrow’s adventure. I’ve not set it up from my new lap-top before; I hope I’ve done it right. We shall find out in the morning after Dog Club…
As I scoffed toast this morning I saw that two of my Facebook friends had birthdays today… I say “friends” I used to work with both of them over twelve years ago. I’ve seen one of them a couple of times when I randomly bumped into them in a pub, and I’ve not seen the other ever since we stopped working together.
There wasn’t much else happening on-line so we got ready for the day.
As we drove round to Dog Club so Steve was doing the “Lyrics Quiz” on the radio. He read out a couple of lines from a song… they sounded familiar. They were from Kate Bush’s “Babooshka”. Go me!
Dog Club was fun; the dogs charged about and had a great time. But as we arrived there was a minor commotion kicking off. A new dog was having words with another dog, and the same pup had another squabble later. The poor new dog has only been with her current family for a few weeks; previously she was never allowed near any other dogs, and so socializing is a must. There was never any actual contact between the quarrelling dogs; there rarely is. It is usually loads of shouting and shoving which just looks and sounds horrible. We (hopefully) encouraged the chap with her to persevere. Pretty much everyone there was very understanding; especially those whose dogs had been squabbled at.
From Dog Club we drove up the motorway listening to Steve doing the Mystery Year competition on the radio. I had it narrowed down to within five years of 1990… then decided it was 1996. It was 1994.
We drove to Ditton Community Centre where we met up with Karl, Tracey, Jess and Charlotte. What with the vagaries of my shift allocations we’ve not got out for a decent walk for ages. But, as always, the geocaching map came up with a walk for us. A circular walk of four miles (or so) starting from Ditton with a little branch out to East Malling. We walked the route in reverse order to get the road part out of the way first. Sadly that meant we weren’t able to pick up the final of the second geocache (a field puzzle), but I’ve made a note of the location for another time… something to occupy me before a late shift perhaps?
As we walked we saw quite a few normal people coming past. We’d walked past the entrance to the East Malling beer festival. We pondered going in… if it was a pub’s beer festival we might have done. But the way the CAMRA operate their beer festivals mean that it isn’t possible to just have one pint. You get a load of beer tokens,,, and off you go.
It was as well that we didn’t go in. The place had live music. And (like pretty much all live music) they made up for a lack of talent by cranking up the volume. The caterwauling was quite audible from over a mile away.
Geocache-wise it was good to get back to old habits. We searched for twenty-odd caches and found all of them (not counting the one which turned out to be half a mile behind us). Mind you we did struggle to find some of them; between us we had two GPS units and two phones and we all agreed that most of the given GPS co ordinates were about twenty-five feet out. Or that is they were twenty-five feet out *today*. What with atmospheric conditions and tree cover, GPS co-ordinates can be rather variable. I could well go back another time and find they are spot-on. This is what happened to me over the winter when I was setting up all the geocaches in Kings Wood.
All too soon it was time to come home. We said our goodbyes and I stayed awake for much of the way home. As we’d Dog Clubbed and walked today I’d taken a few photos. I put them on-line, then as “er indoors TM” went shopping I had a little look at the geo-admin of today.
I eventually got it done, and then had a little fight with my GPS unit; The new lap-top told it all about all of the geocaches in the Ditton area last night. The GPS knew all about them as we walked today, but it flatly refused to tell my new lap-top which ones we’d found when I plugged it in this afternoon. Eventually I sorted it by creating a new folder somewhere on the C drive. However my GPS unit also seems to think that at some point when walking today I got up to ninety-three miles per hour.
And just as I was on the verge of telling the GPS who was boss, in some sort of electronic solidarity the lap-top’s cursor went invisible.
“er indoors TM” came home from shopping with steak and a rather good bottle of plonk which we devoured whilst watching another episode of “SAS: Who Dares Wins”.
I’ve whinged over the last few days about how dull my life can sometimes be. Today was a rather good day.
I’m reliably informed there’s dessert to follow…
3 September 2023 (Sunday) - Early Shift
Yesterday had been a rather full-on day, but I was
still awake far earlier than I needed to be this morning. I got up, made
toast and once I'd watched a bit of telly I had a
little look at the Internet. Facebook prompted me with a memory - five
years ago today I'd led a dozen hunters of Tupperware on a boat trip
out to a geocache on a sea fort in the Thames estuary. We had a really good
time, but what I remember most about that trip was the sulking and attitude
from those who didn't go. At the time I booked the boat for myself. There
were spaces for twelve people on the boat, so I offered spaces to friends
that I thought might be interested. But word soon got about, and I
had messages from all sorts of people that I didn't know complaining about
how poorly I'd advertised the trip and how they wanted to go. I also had
messages from people that I didn't know telling me (not asking!) that
they were coming and wanting details of where we were all meeting up. All of
these people weren't at all happy that they couldn't come along, but I told
all of these people that they could organise their
own trip, and gave them all the details to do so.
This was followed by a program about pranksters;
people who play practical jokes. It started off sounding rather interesting
but after the first minute or so I found myself listening with a profound
sense of "WTF are they talking about?". The program was best
described as "pretentious bollox" with the presenter making
continual references to operas and obscure historical literature about which
not one person in ten thousand would have heard. I turned off when this idiot
pointed out that pranksters are still in contemporary society, and quoted
Bart Simpson as an example. But (to this idiot) the funniest bit about
The Simpsons was the theme tune which the chap felt was hilarious, and he was
laughing out loud when he played it.
Yesterday I devised a fix to get my GPS talking to my lap-top; I thought I might test out my fix by using it to report the geo-maintenance I’d done on the way to work. It sort-of worked…
4 September 2023 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
Not a lot was happening in the Internet this morning so I got myself and the dogs organized and we set off for our morning walk.
As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the “schools falling down” scandal. There was an interview with a head teacher who said that despite numerous requests he’s had no information whatsoever from the Department of Education about what was happening with his (collapsed) school. However he’d read the newspapers in which it had been claimed that the government would pay to rebuild schools, but it was up to the schools themselves to fund alternate arrangements for teaching the kids whilst the re-build happened. Where the schools are going to get money to pay for alternate accommodation, and to organize school dinners was anyone’s guess.
They then wheeled on the Education Secretary who basically refused to actually say anything at all. But (to be fair to her) she said that bearing in mind that two schools have had ceilings collapse when surveyors said all was fine, she wanted to get a good idea of the scale of the problem… She said she’d have answers by the end of the week.
I wonder if she will have?
We got to Kings Wood and went on a little mission. Over the weekend I’d had reports that four of my geocaches there were missing. So I went out with four spare pots in my pocket, and (sure enough) they were all missing.
I must admit that I chose Kings Wood for somewhere to put geocaches as replacing them can be done during a dog walk. And I am fully aware that replacing missing geocaches is the responsibility of the person who hid the thing. But is it really so much to ask that people carry a few spare plastic pots in their rucksack when they go walking? It takes less time to replace a missing cache than it does to tell me about it. But this is an argument that has been done to death… There are those who contriblute to any hobby and thos who take. As Oliver Hardy once remarked “Twas ever thus”.
We had a good walk. We kept to the narrower paths which were under the trees as much as we could be; Treacle’s been sick a few times over the last few days – I think she might have had too much sun on Saturday. Dogs are a worry.
We came home; I got pastries from the corner shop. I then sparked up the lap-top and told the geo-world that I’d replaced the missing caches.
I then spent a bit of time writing up more CPD, then took myself off to bed for the afternoon.
After four hours asleep (that’s not bad for an afternoon!) I woke up. I came downstairs, and the dogs were all rather excitable; they know when it is time to feed the pond fish. “Feeding the Fish” has become something of a ritual; I pootle about whilst the dogs get more and more worked up until I announce “I’m going to feed the fish” at which point they all sprint down the garden to the pond in the desperate hope that some of the fish food will fall on the side of the pond where they can get it.
Some usually does.
And so off to another night shift. Back in the day things were very different. Night shifts were rather lucrative; if rather arduous. People would do the night shifts up until their thirtieth birthday at which point they gave up and the youngsters coming in to the job would take over.
These days people don’t seem to start doing the job until they are over thirty…
5 September 2023 (Tuesday) - Dentists
I was rather glad to see the relief arrive this morning; last night’s shift had been rather hard work. My watch resets at midnight and I’d walked over five thousand steps between midnight and eight o’clock. My daily target is six thousand, and some days I don’t get to it.
Ironically having found the “Operation Brock” stupidity had been removed on my way to work last night, five miles of the way home had been reduced to only two lanes for absolutely no reason that I could fathom.
My piss boiled as I drove home. There was a lot of air-time devoted to “Martha’s Rule”; a suggestion that patients should be able to request a second opinion and review of the case if a loved one’s clinical condition is deteriorating or not improving as it should. As the talk went on there was a lot of stabbing the NHS in the back and airing of all of its faults and failings.
At no point did anyone suggest that “Martha’s Rule” is already in place; people *can* currently request reviews and second opinions. But why would anyone point this out as it would ruin a perfectly good story.
This is typical of the BBC’s attitude to the NHS at the moment; slow to praise and quick to censure. Compare this to only a few short years ago when the BBC was instrumental in having us all on the doorsteps clapping for the NHS like things possessed.
Once home I took myself to bed for the morning. All three dogs came with me, and after a little fight for bed space I was soon asleep.
I woke three hours later, put a load of washing in to scrub and then had my usual root round the Internet. I started off with sending out birthday wishes… Every morning Facebook tells me whose birthday it is (provided that person has told Facebook when their birthday is), and several times each week I’m presented with a “friend” about which I’ve heard absolutely nothing since Facebook last told me it was their birthday last year. I had two friends with birthdays today; one with whom I work, and one I’ve not seen or heard from for at least five years. I *love* Facebook in that it helps me keep in touch with people, but that presupposes that people will use Facebook to interact. Most people don’t. I know so many people who comment to me about all that I post to social media but never actually post anything on-line themselves (not even a “like”).
There were a lot of “back to school” photos this morning; bearing in mind what a shambles Swadelands School was all those years ago I don’t miss “back to school” at all.
I had an email cancelling Friday’s dental appointment. The dentist annoys me when they do that. They’ve not been so bad lately, but back in the day I think it fair to say they cancelled two out of three appointments.
I tried to phone them; the phone just rang and rang. I gave up after half an hour; do they close for lunch?
My plan for today had been gardening. Over the years I’ve tried to create a very low maintenance back garden, but sadly “very low maintenance” isn’t the same as “no maintenance”. My plan was to prune the tree at the end of the garden and to tidy up the overgrowth pouring over the fence from not-so-nice-next-door. I got some of the tree pruned, and some of the overgrowth hacked back. But after a couple of hours I began to wilt, so I ran round with a watering can and settled down in front of the telly and tried phoning the dentist again. After half an hour I gave up and walked down the road to the surgery.
It was mayhem.
I joined the queue and eventually got to the front. After a little chatting with a very harassed receptionist it became clear that the private dental plan I took out (at their insistence) was working against me. Back in the day the entire practice went with Denplan and so if my dentist was on holiday I could see another. But with the passing of time they’ve now only got one Denplan dentist and he only works Fridays. I re-booked the appointment, came home and phoned the Denplan people who tell me they’ve got three Denplan dentists at the surgery I go to, so seeing someone else shouldn’t be an issue. I phoned the surgery again and left a message asking the practice manager to phone me to talk about this…
I wonder if they will phone tomorrow – they didn’t today.
And talking of dentists, “My Boy TM”’s dog Ro-Ro went to the dog dentist today. The poor little thing has had fifteen teeth taken out…
6 September 2023 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull
I slept rather well last night; over seven hours. It’s amazing how a night shift sorts out insomnia albeit temporarily.
I made toast, watched some telly, saw absolutely nothing at all was happening on the Internet, and set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were wittering on about “Martha’s Rule” again. Having conceded that the rule is not news and that people already can ask for second opinions, today they were trying to make an issue of the fact that it is the NHS’s fault that the general public can’t be bothered to educate themselves and don’t know their rights. As I said yesterday, three years ago the BBC had us all on the doorsteps clapping for the NHS like demented sealions. Today they can’t stick the knife in fast enough or deep enough.
This was followed by the “Thought for the Day” in which some Hindu chap spent five minutes ranting on about how brilliant the sun was, and that no one owned it. What a total waste of peak radio air-time.
Work was work; today I was doing some training on issuing of blood and blood products. Giving blood and blood products for transfusions is dead simple as long as you remember the one simple rule “don’t kill anyone!”.
A tad flippant perhaps? Possibly. But that is the secret of working in blood transfusion.
As I worked so I had a phone call. Yesterday I wondered if the dentist’s practice manager might phone me back. She did. I pointed out that I joined a private patient scheme at their suggestion and insistence only to be able to get any sort of dental treatment on a Friday… provided the dentist who only shows up on a Friday isn’t having one of his (seemingly) many long weekends. They asked if I would like to be seen by another dentist. I replied that I don’t care which dentist rummages in my gob as long as I can have a bit of flexibility (i.e. not just Friday) on what day I can get an appointment.
I’m being transferred to a dentist who works more than one day a week…
With “er indoors TM” out with her mates I got myself something special for dinner. Some M&S chicken wings and some posh salted caramel ice cream from the shop over the road.
The M&S chicken wings were rather grim, and the salted caramel ice cream was all ice and no cream.
“er indoors TM” came home with a huge Aldi trifle…
I’ve got guts ache now…
Some days in my life are rather good… some are dull.
7 September 2023 (Thursday) - Travel Fun (!)
I went to bed last night with a guts ache that ached all night. I eventually gave up laying listening to my stomach rumble and got up. I had this idea that some toast might settle my innards.
As I scoffed toast I watched the last episode of the tenth season of "Shameless". Whilst fun to watch, the show would have benefitted from just the smallest bit of effort on the part of the writers. For example, it is just not possible for a trainee pharmacist to get access to blood test results; let alone perform tests herself. A piddling detail perhaps, but a glaring inconsistency to me.
I get dressed and set off to work. It had rained overnight (despite the weather forecasts). As I drove the pundits on the radio announced that the UK is to re-join the EU's flagship research scheme, Horizon. Some so-called expert or other was wheeled on who said that this was just the first announcement of many in which the UK is to re-join many European initiatives that it abandoned during Brexit. Apparently no one really knew what Brexit would entail, and now that the UK "is out of the EU", there's an attempt at damage imitation going on behind the scenes.
And there was a lot of talk about the government setting up an investigation into vet bills following claims that many pet-owners often did not know the price of treatments until after their appointments. It has to be said that vets aren't cheap; I can remember back in the day Sid needing dental work and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” actually shopping around for quotes. And little Fudge's trips to the vets (when he had back issues and kidney problems) rarely came in at less than four hundred quid.
Mind you I'm not sure whether this investigation is trying to lower the prices or just make the public more aware that a trip to the vet will cost a small fortune.
Work was work. It was hard going today, but there was cake. And being on an early shift meant I got out early. Sadly it didn’t mean I got home early though….
Whoever is in charge of organizing the highways in Kent is demonstrably not competent to do the job and should be sacked immediately. Quite frankly some work experience child could do a better job. This afternoon the motorway between Maidstone and Ashford was closed because of “enhanced port security checks” at Dover. However there was absolutely no hold up to traffic going from Ashford to Folkestone.
The practical upshot of all of this was that my journey home took twice as long as it should and I never got within twenty miles of Dover but “er indoors TM” went babysitting within five miles of the place and experienced no problems at all.
Over a rather good bit of scoff sent to me from “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” we watched the last three episodes of “Scarborough”; a rather good TV show. If you’ve not seen it, give it a go…
Oh… and it’s a year since Dad died…
8 September 2023 (Friday) - Late Shift
We’ve been looking at getting a new bathroom recently. Last night I had an incredibly vivid dream in which a friend with whom I used to go to school offered to do the “bathroom” far cheaper than anyone else would do. However my old mucker isn’t a plumber; he is a Baptist minister. He came along, said some prayers in the bathroom, announced that the taps now dispensed holy water, and gave me a bill for several thousand pounds.
Shortly after that the bin men came up the street seeing who could be the noisiest.
I made toast, sparked up the lap-top and saw two people had birthdays today. I sent out birthday wishes to the one who had made the effort to communicate over the last few years, and then had a little rummage in cyber-space. Not a lot was going on.
Once we’d found the dog leads (buried under a bowling ball) I took the dogs out. As we drove to the woods the pundits on the radio were talking about a new scheme whereby YouTube is now verifying health care professionals accounts to stop the spread of disinformation. I thought about signing up; after all I don’t want happy birthday videos, movies from my Lego cities, dog videos and my lip-synching to be labelled as “fake news”, do I?
We got to the woods and had a good walk. Morgan particularly was over-excited as he’d not been out for a couple of days, but with the heatwave it has been too hot recently. We walked two and a half miles and in that time only met one other dog-walker with whose dogs my dogs had a good game of chase.
We came home to the bath; Treacle had been wading in the swamps, Morgan had been rolling in the poo, and Bailey needed a scrub anyway. With dogs washed I popped up the road to the corner shop for pastries, then phoned the car insurance people. My car insurance is due for renewal next week and they’d quoted a price for the next year of a hundred and seventy quid more than I am currently paying. I threatened to go with another company, and the price dropped considerably. And when I said I’d rather pay in one lump sum rather than in monthly installments I ended up paying twenty quid less than I’d paid last year.
It always pays to quibble with car insurance.
I then paid the next year’s road tax for my car. Again I saved money my paying the year’s worth in one hit rather than in installments.
Paying out these lump sums might have left me a tad short, but over the next year I will put money aside each month ready for next year, and I shall be quids in… or that’s the plan.
I did some CPD, had a shower (as I was rather sweaty – yuk!) and set off to work. As I drove away from home I saw that I was right to have taken the dogs out earlier. In the three hours since we'd gone out the temperature had gone up by fifteen degrees.
Seeing the co-op car park full I didn't stop. As I drove up the motorway I saw there was a half-hearted attempt at "Operation Brock", but rather than using the barriers (which obviously had cost a small fortune), there were a few miles of road cones going London-bound and only lorries going coast-bound; cars (presumably) taking the A-road.
Not having been to the co-op I went to Sainsbury's to get lunch. I met some "normal people" there. I got my stuff and joined the queue for the till. As we got to the till, the chap in front saw how little shopping I had compared to him, and suggested I went first as I would get through quicker. I thanked him, but as the cashier ran my stuff through the till, so his wife loudly started shouting about how some people have no manners, and there was a queue. And to my amazement the chap who'd suggested I went first stared loudly agreeing with her. The cashier winked at me and whispered "we get all sorts in here".
I hurried away...
Yesterday had been hard work; the late shift was one of the worse ones. And to think I'd asked to swap into it (to go to the dentist appointment which got cancelled!). But eventually the night shift rolled in, and I came home… down the A-road as the coast-bound motorway was closed.
“er indoors TM” boiled up fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching more “Landscape Artist of the Year” in which for every one person coming up with a half-way decent painting there were half a dozen making frankly dreadful messes which (had he scrawled them) my eight-year-old grandson would be embarrassed to show to anyone.
9 September 2023 (Saturday) - Dog Club and Cider
I had a good eight hours asleep last night, eventually being woken by my alarm telling me “Get your arse out of its pit” (it really does say that).
I got my arse out of its pit, made toast and had my usual rummage round the Internet. I sent out birthday messages, then rolled my eyes as I read the petty bickering. There are various “things” that have been going on for years such as Star Trek, Sparks, Blakes’ Seven, dogs, garden ponds, and for each “thing” this morning there were half a dozen half-wits who had discovered it last week and despite knowing absolutely nothing at all about it was now an expert on the matter. And a posting about spiraling vet bills on a Radio Four Facebook page had descended into petty backbiting over whether dogs or cats make the best pets.
I suppose this is the Internet in a nutshell, isn’t it?
We set off for Dog Club. As we drove Steve was doing the “Guess the Lyrics” contest on the radio. I had absolutely no idea what today’s song was.
We got to Dog Club early as I was on opening-up duty, and we had a great time. The dogs all charged about and played. And little Lilly who was so scared and reactive last week is coming on in leaps and bounds.
As we drove home I got the mystery year right away – when did Space 1999 first air? 1975,
Once home the dogs were soon fast asleep. Dog Club wore them out. I hung out washing, harvested dog dung, mowed the lawn, and got out the Bionic Burner. As I bionically burned the front garden so a passer-by asked me about the thing. She’d seen the adverts on the telly and thought it looked too good to be true. I told her it was. The gadget burns away the weeds easily enough, but the advert implies that having been burned away, the weeds stay away. They don’t. They grow back just as fast as when you pull the weeds out by hand, but it saves you reaching down and pulling the weeds.
Having bionically burned I had a sweep-up, and then realized I’d spent an hour on “dull”. So I stopped.
With the dogs still fast asleep after Dog Club we settled them and drove down to Hastings for a family birthday. An afternoon sitting in the beer garden trying out the fruit ciders worked very well. It would have been good to have stayed later, but I wasn’t happy leaving the dogs. So we came home.
“er indoors TM” saw to the dogs; I popped to the kebab shop. We had kebab whilst watching the final of “Bake Off: The Professionals” and the first episode of the remake of “Takeshi’s Castle”.
I might only have one day off this weekend, but I certainly made the most of it.
10 September 2023 (Sunday) - Early Shift
I was woken at five o'clock by the sound of Treacle jumping off of the bed. She seemed rather breathless so I took her into the garden for some fresh air. She's not coping with the current heatwave at all - it's the pug in her. She wandered round the foggy garden, had a *lot* to drink, then went back to bed. I set a fan blowing on her, and made myself some brekkie. As I scoffed toast I watched an episode of "Shameless" then had a little look at the Internet. It would seem I'd missed a showing of "Rocky Horror" at the Marlowe last night. I'd have liked to have seen that. Oh well, there will be other showings (I expect). Trouble is these things book up so quickly. Tickets probably sold out months ago.
With not a lot else going on I set off to work listening to the radio. As I headed off I caught the last part of some new-age-hippy-drivel about "the fifth element"; the fifth element being rather indeterminate and pretty much whatever the hippies wanted it to be at the time. I thought the fifth element was boron, but what do I know.
This was followed by some utter tripe in which some other hippies thought that foxes were actually all Satan. You would have thought that the Prince of Darkness would have had better things to do than rummage through some old bin bags, wouldn't you? Mind you, is that why devil worshipers supposedly sacrifice chickens?
I turned the radio off and sang along to my quality choice of tunes as I drove up the motorway, and pausing only to open a a gold qrate in the works car park I was soon in the thick of things.
Work was rather troublesome today; I was glad when it was home time. But with “er indoors TM” and the dogs off out on a play date with Reggie (and Dee and Elliott) I came home to an empty house. I spent an hour pootling in the garden.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching more “SAS: Who Dares Wins”. I shall watch some more telly drivel until the dishwasher is done… then I shall have an early night. Treacle is snoring epically; I suspect she’s in for another restless night so I shall get some sleep whilst I can.
Yesterday was rather good; today rather dull.
11 September 2023 (Monday) - Robot Goes Psycho
I managed to sleep through to five o'clock this morning which was something of a result. I woke to find Treacle was at the foot of the bed fast asleep, and seemed to be OK. I let sleeping dogs lie, got up and did my morning round. I made toast as I do, watched a bit of telly then sparked up the Internet. And rolled my eyes. People were on the Star Trek Facebook pages asking what was special about the number 1701. Other people were on the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy page asking why everyone was talking about 42.
More and more Facebook pages devoted to specialist interests are being overrun by those who don't know the first thing about said specialist interest. And it is not just Facebook pages... I had an email of advice on Wherigo geocaches this morning from some chap who has just found his second one (and only found his first geocache a couple of months ago).
I set off to work. As I drove there was talk about how the boss of the John Lewis chain was calling for a royal commission to save UK high streets. Apparently what with more people working from home these days and many shopping centres in out-of-town locations and the rise of on-line shopping, fewer and fewer people are going into town centres to squander their money.
Personally I feel I have to question the entire concept of "going shopping". If I "go shopping" I've either got orders from “er indoors TM” to get specific items, or I'm going to get something that I can't get on-line (having done my research first). There are those who go shopping because they have nothing better to do, but the days of wandering to the shops to waste an afternoon squandering hard-earned cash on random crap I don't want or need are long behind me, and long behind most people as well. I wonder how long traditional shops have got left? There will always be a need for food shopping (as it is perishable), but as for everything else? Amazon have the right idea. Order it on-line and have it delivered. I can remember the head honcho of "Whatever Comics" in Canterbury going mail-order-only as having a physical shop cost him too much money, and that was over twenty years ago.
I got to work - it was rather better than it had been yesterday. And being on an early start and consequently an early finish was good too.
I came home, loaded the dogs into the car and we went to the woods. We had a good walk, but as we went we did meet a couple of normal people who were out for a walk. With no dogs of their own they were less than polite about my wolf-pack. There are some people who seem to think that there is something rather sissy-ish and not at all macho about having small dogs, and they had words to say. I smiled politely, and resisted the temptation to tell them to get knotted.
Five minutes from the end of our walk Treacle found a stagnant ditch in which to wallow. One advantage of small dogs is that there is a lot less to wash.
With walk walked we came home for that wash. “er indoors TM” did dinner then went bowling. I ironed shirts whilst watching a film on Netflix. T.I.M. is a typical Netflix movie; an excellent movie made with an incredibly small cast. But it wasn’t an original story… “robot goes psycho” is a very old theme in sci-fi and sadly I found myself comparing this film’s T.I.M. with Dean Koontz’s Proteus IV and Asimov’s TN3. T.I.M. didn’t come close to those who came fifty (or more) years before
And whilst we’re thinking about “robot goes psycho”, one of the mailing lists I follow (for continuing professional development) has set a little competition: “Write 50 words or fewer in response to the following question: How will Artificial Intelligence transform healthcare over the next 10 years?”
That should keep me occupied for a few minutes…
12 September 2023 (Tuesday) - Going Walkabout
I slept reasonably well, which was something of a result, But I was still wide awake far too early. And these days it is now dark at "far too early o'clock". I got up, pootled about, made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless". I'm now into the eleventh season and am realistically only watching it because I've got so far it would be a shame to stop now. Sadly all the interesting characters have left and the plot (such as it is) is seriously beginning to struggle.
As I watched I sorted my undercrackers. They are getting a tad threadbare; maybe it is time to get some new ones before word gets out that I need new ones for Christmas.
I had a very quick look at the Internet; some born-again Christian was spamming the Atheist memes page that I follow. This chap is a strange fellow. Hailing from the USA he is a great advocate of the American Dream and of making as much money as he possibly can at the expense of anyone and everyone else. However he sees no contradiction between his political and religious views. I suppose this is what "faith" is all about; desperately hoping that shit is sugar and ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Certainly works for this chap.
I had a quick Munzee session then set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the collapse of the high street giant Wilko. There was an interview with some woman who was something big in the union to which most Wilko workers belonged. She was lambasting Wilko's management for not having a business plan and not embracing change and generally criticising them for very specific failures. Amazingly pretty much everything she said that Wilko's management should be doing was *exactly* what the railway unions say their management should *not* be doing and are fighting them about.
Funny old world.
This was followed by an interview with some business guru who (quite frankly) just spouted meaningless catchphrases saying that Wilko needed a forward-going vision which would complement its portfolio. Possibly by telling the portfolio it had a smashing blouse? Some of these people wheeled onto the radio really do just spout utter tripe. Mind you I expect they get paid far more than I do...perhaps that is somewhere else that I've been going wrong all these years?
I did my bit at work and drove home. I hadn’t intended going for a dog walk after work as the weather forecast had thunderstorms from two o’clock onwards. But as usual reality bore no relation to the weather forecast. I took the dogs to Orlestone, and just at the furthest point from the car the puppies zoomed into the trees. Having been doing that all walk long I thought nothing of it, as they usually re-appear a few seconds later. This time it was a little longer before they re-appeared.
Three quarters of an hour.
They must have seen a rabbit or a squirrel or something and given chase and got lost. I walked around but couldn’t hear them at all. Eventually a passing dog walker said she’d heard something crashing about in the woods a few hundred yards away and I went in the general direction she said, blowing the whistle periodically.
Eventually I saw Morgan on the edge of the trees. He looked at me with a very uncertain expression, so I called to him and he sprinted up to me. He was whimpering and crying; obviously frightened by his experience. Bailey appeared a minute later (bold as brass) as though nothing had happened.
As we walked back to the car we met “er indoors TM” walking in to the woods. I’d called her when I’d got to the “dogs missing for half an hour” stage.
Once home we had a bit of scoff, then whilst “er indoors TM” went to Zoom at her mates I had a look on the Internet at collar-mounted dog tracking devices. It soon became apparent that they are all crap. They cost a small fortune, they need a monthly subscription fee, and the tracking device talks to your phone’s app via the Internet… Which is all very well all the time you are connected to the Internet. There’s pretty much no signal at all in most of Orlestone Woods or Kings Wood.
There are cheaper ones which work via Bluetooth, but with a (in the woods) range of up to ten metres I’ll see and hear the dog before the tracker does.
I shall keep my eyes open, but GPS dog trackers seem to be a lot of money straight down the toilet…
13 September 2023 (Wednesday) - Tree's Gone
As I scoffed toast I peered into the Internet. After yesterday’s episode with the puppies, last night I’d posted on-line asking about people’s experience with dog tracking technology. The general consensus was that the stuff doesn’t live up to the adverts (which are at best misleading). Dog tracking needs internet connection to work, and the only suggestions were to either keep them on the leads (which defeats the object of taking them to the woods) or having bells on their collars.
Seeing the weather forecast had completely changed overnight and a dry morning was on the cards I got the dogs onto their leads and took them up to Kings Wood. As the drizzle started so the pundits on the radio were talking about how it was a bright morning in the south-east.
They were also talking about how the Ukrainians have launched a massive attack at the Russians’ navy. To me the big surprise here is how anyone is surprised.
We got to the woods. I let the dogs off their leads. After yesterday’s episode I wasn’t so much worried as interested to see what they would do. But they were as good as gold. They had a good run, they played with other dogs, and came back when called. Today we walked round the top end of the woods and saw far more people than we usually do, but the top end of the woods is usually where the less adventurous people go for short walks.
As we walked I replaced two of my geocaches that had been reported as missing… I say “missing”; someone who’s been caching for years couldn’t find them so I replaced them. I didn’t really have a good look myself so there could be two caches at each of those spots. Still, better two than none.
As we got back to the car we did “boot dogs” and with the dogs in the car’s boot I blew the whistle and gave them a treat. A passing normal person came up to me at this point. She’d seen me blowing the whistle in the woods (when the dogs were setting off to bother some other dogs) and had been really impressed with their recall. I smiled and didn’t tell her about yesterday’s debacle. She then oh-so-politely asked why I was blowing the whistle when the dogs were all captured and in the car’s boot. I explained the principle of whistle training; they associate the sound with a treat and come to the whistle in the hope of food. The look on this woman’s face was a picture; she had wondered why her dog totally ignored her whistle.
We came home for a bath; the dogs had got rather grubby. I hung out washing in the hope that it might stay dry, then popped up the road to the corner shop for pastries. I spent a little while trying to connect my Facebook and Instagram accounts, then wrote up some CPD. A couple of days ago I mentioned a competition on one of the work-based groups I follow: No more than fifty words on ‘How will Artificial Intelligence transform healthcare over the next 10 years?’ Here’s my entry:
It won’t - AI cannot compete with human recalcitrance.
How long does someone endure that irritating symptom before seeking medical advice?
How many people drink and smoke rather than exercise?
How many healthcare managers will see AI as a threat to their own little empire and fight against it?
Forty-nine words. I wonder if I will win?
In between writing up some incredibly dull CPD stuff I charged out to the garden to get the washing in. The rain which had not been forecast was hossing down.
I went to bed for the afternoon; Bailey came up and slept on the bottom of the bed. I got three hours asleep before the sound of her being sick woke me. I hurried her into the garden… to see the tree at the end of the garden had gone. Vanished. I must admit I’m glad to see it gone; it used to drop so much rubbish on the gravel. I had mentioned to the bloke at the end of the drive about getting rid of it; he’s done it. That was good of him.
I’m off to the night shift in a bit…
14 September 2023 (Thursday) - Transmitting to Instagram
Last night’s night shift wasn’t one of the better ones. But during the night I found myself wondering at exactly what point does “late” stop and “early” begin.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about how some private schools aren’t bothering taking their students through GCSE examinations any more as the exams are seen as irrelevant to this modern age. Instead they devising their own exam system which will better prepare the students for “A” levels. The religion minister Steve Chalke was wheeled on. Being a Baptist minister turned politician he blathered platitudes like a thing possessed. And there was also input from Katharine Birbalsingh. Billed as a a British teacher and education reform advocate, she announced that the reals reason that private schools aren’t taking their students through GCSE examinations any more is that their results are dreadful, and this is a good way of hiding the failings of schools that charge twenty-four thousand quid a year. She claimed that we have a society in which everyone at the top is there through some sort of old boys network and that those who run our society are academically far thicker than those who do the work.
Sadly what could have been an interesting debate just
descended into a shouting match. Neither of the two so-called experts would
allow the other to speak and made a point of claiming that absolutely every single thing that the other said was wrong.
I didn’t come straight home; I went to Henwood to collect “er indoors TM” who was waiting outside a garage in Henwood where her car was in for its MOT. With her collected we came home and I went to bed for the morning.
After a few hours in bed I woke (as the dogs crashed off of the bed), made toast, and had a later-than-usual look at the Internet. It was still there.I had a message from the people who make dog-tracking technology. They were very clear that their dog-tracking thing will not work without an active internet connection. And I had a wry smile at a posting from a chap whose son is doing a project for his music “A” level. How much would people be prepared to pay to go to an open-air festival of bands in Viccie Park, and how would they get there? A difficult question really. Given a decent band then I’d pay. However from experience the open-air festivals in Viccie Park seldom attract decent bands. They tend to attract the likes of “Smeg And The Heads” who generally seem to think that cranking up the volume will hide the fact that they are crap.
And I saw that a puzzle geocache had gone live just before I’d left work this morning and that as I’d come home I’d driven past it. Having taken five minutes to solve it I might have had a cheeky FTF this morning… had I checked my email before I’d left work.
I drove “er indoors TM” to get her MOT-ed car, and leaving her at the garage I took the dogs for a walk. I had planned on Kings Wood, but it was rather sunny so we went to Orlestone where there was a bit more shade. Again I kept a very close eye on the dogs, and again they (mostly) stayed close.
I managed to post today’s obligatory dog photo to Instagram as well as Facebook; there are several people I know who’ve commented that they only want to bother with one social media platform and have chosen Instagram, so I’m now transmitting to them as well.
That’s nice, isn’t it?
Mind you, being able to transmit from Facebook to Instagram took some setting up.
With walk walked we came home, and as the dogs snored I set about the ironing. It don’t iron itself, you know.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we helped down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s rioja whilst watching the first episode of the third season of “Lego Masters: USA” in which one of the competitors was teamed up with his mum… Am I wrong in thinking that was a tad odd?
15 September 2023 (Friday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept like a log, finally waking just before eight o’clock this morning. I made toast and scoffed it whilst peering into the internet. Today the place was awash with those annoying motivational memes. All sorts of people were posting twee nonsense. These motivational memes annoy me. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” has never once been said by anyone who has been given lemons by life. There were a lot of people complaining about how woke they consider today’s society to be, even though they prefer to whinge rather than do anything about it. There were arguments about Star Trek, fishing and Lego…
I turned the lap-top off and drove over to the garage.
My car was due for an MOT. In the past I’ve taken dogs to the garage, left the car and and gone for a walk but I had this idea that an MOT wouldn’t take long, I could then come home and then take the dogs out. The good news was that the car passed the MOT; the bad news was that it took over an hour longer to do than I had expected.
I made an appointment to get all the advisories done, then came home and took the dogs down to Orlestone.
We had a reasonable walk. It went better than Tuesday’s debacle. It would have gone better had a squirrel not leapt from a bush and dashed across the path not five yards in front of the pups. And then when almost back to the car park the pups shot into a thicket and a pheasant flew out.
Consequently we were a tad later getting home than we might have been.
I then spent some time in the garden. Mowing the lawn, cleaning the pond filter, replacing the washing line, garden-hoovering the carnage from the removal of the tree at the end of the garden, trimming back not-so-nice-next-door’s roses, and quite some time putting away all the garden tools I’d strewn across the garden as I’d worked.
My plan had been MOT, dog walk, garden, tip run and afternoon in front of the telly. It was half past four before I’d finished in the garden, and by then I could hardly move. I cut straight to the telly; I’ve booked a tip run for Monday morning.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate gardening? Over four hours today and it looks just the same as when I started.
“er indoors TM” boiled up pizza and chips which we scoffed whilst watching the first “Police Academy” film. Did you know that film was released thirty-nine years ago. It was rather good then and could be rather good now… but with the bleeding hearts having censored one specific racist comment the last part of the film made absolutely no sense at all to anyone who hadn’t seen the film in its entirety.
16 September 2023 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift
Again I was woken by my alarm this morning. Two days running… the after-effects of a night shift, perhaps? I made toast and had my usual rummage round the Internet. It was still there. Today my feed was filled with adverts for dog-tracking technology. You would think that whatever technology that had been spying on me researching dog-tracking technology would have seen the messages from the people who make it openly admitting the stuff is no good to me. In between the adverts for dog-tracking technology were adverts from various charities offering to write a will for me… provided I gave them a bung. I’m all for giving charities a bung provided the money goes to “charities” and doesn’t subsidise a government-funded service. No government of any political persuasion is ever going to fund hospitals and schools properly all the time we are popping money into their collection pots, are they?
I also saw that I totally forgot that Neon Street had been playing at the Conningbrook last night. Mind you every time I’ve seen them before I usually find that watching them involves spending upwards of thirty quid at the bar just to get a headache. A little hint to all musicians… if you are playing inside, you *don’t* need an amplifier. You really don’t. Turning up the volume doesn’t improve the sound quality.
Mind you I did see that an old schoolmate is alive and well and living in a forest in North Wales. That’s the sort of thing I want from the Internet. I’m a very nosey person and want to know what people are doing.
I had an email (or two). The price of leccie and gas is going down in October. That’s a result. Sky were trying to sell me their Sky Glass telly… what’s wrong with the current telly?
I deleted a *lot* of unwanted emails, then got ready for the morning.
I was on opening-up duty at Dog Club so I wanted to be a few minutes early. I was first one there and I struggled with the gate; you’d think they’d have made the thing so that you can get your hand through to open it up, wouldn’t you? As I fought with it so the queue of people (and dogs) waiting to get in grew and grew.
Dog club was rather good today. Lilly the rescue dog who was so reactive to other dogs is coming on in leaps and bounds. There was a baby dachshund along for his first time, as well as a very small Jack Russell wearing a coat as he has an allergy to grass. There were about twenty dogs along today. All charging about and sniffing and scrounging for treats and generally having a great time.
All too soon it was time to come home. “er indoors TM” went off to Craft Club; as I drove the dogs home Steve was doing the mystery year competition on the radio. “Brideshead Revisited” gave it away for me. 1981.
Once home I harvested a bumper crop of dog turds from the garden. How can three small dogs crap so much? And then I just sat quietly on the sofa for a while as the dogs slept; dog club really does wear them out.
I loaded up the dishwasher, set it scrubbing and taking care not to wake the dogs I sneaked out. Sadly there's some abysmal parking goes on up our street; I spent a few minutes watching a chap trying (and failing) to park a van in his front garden. I had no option but to watch as he was blocking the entire road. But with him finally out of the way I set off to work.
As I drove I sang along to my strange choice of music in which Meat Loaf gave way to Abba, Kate Bush, Spandau Ballet and Martha and the Muffins.
With a few minutes spare I popped to the branch of Smyths in Aylesford to get this year's Lego Advent Calendar. If I had any sense I'd open it now and give myself a little time in which to plan this year's Advent story... But I don't have any sense, so I won't open it. It will sit on the shelf for two and a half months, and when this year's Advent story comes out no one will be more surprised than me as to how it pans out.
I got to work, had a rather good bit of scran from the works canteen, then cracked on with the day. And as is so often the case when on the late shift, the day was effectively all done by the early afternoon.
Mind you there was a minor incident on the way home. As I came down the slip road off of the motorway at junction nine so there was a fox walking down the road. Completely oblivious to the traffic. I slowed down and beeped the hooter; the fox glared at me as if to say “f… off fatso”. He really didn’t care.
How do you teach the Green Cross Code to a fox? I hope I don’t see him squished on the road soon.
17 September 2023 (Sunday) - Lazy Day
The dogs were on top of “er indoors TM” last night so I had a peaceful night with bed space. Result!
The puppies both shoved their noses into my face at half past seven as though to say “Good Morning” but once I’d greeted them, they both went back to sleep.
We all got up an hour later.
I made a cuppa (no toast) and had a look at the Internet. A colleague told me yesterday she’s come off of social media as she spent too long on it. That’s such a shame – I love being nosey and seeing what others do, but she told me that she’s looked back at her posts and what she had been posting up was a sanitized version of her life; history as she would have liked it to have been. Me – I just point the camera (phone) and press the button. Admittedly I do try to get the dogs to pose… but with them any old pose will do.
We then drove into Ashford for the monthly Sunday brekkie with friends. It was good to catch up and put the world to rights for an hour or so. Rather than going for any of the set meals this morning I went for the “make it up yourself” option in which you choose what you want. Amongst which were two poached eggs. Poached eggs… oh yus!!! I shall be having those again.
From brekkie we drove out to Bybrook Barn garden centre because that’s what the normal people do on a Sunday, and we wondered what the attraction was. I got some lawn food (as it is food time of year for the lawn), thought about getting a palm tree, and looked in horror at the garden statues which were about two or three times the price of the stuff in Whelans.
We came home just as the rain started. Rather heavy rain. So with little else to do I watched a film on Netflix. “Superintelligence” featured James Corden as a self-aware computer, and would have been a good film had it been about forty minutes shorter.
By the time it finally drew to an end the rain had eased up so I went into the garden and hacked back some the stuff pouring over the fence from not-so-nice-next-door, and some of the stuff from new-next-door (nowhere near as much on her side though). After an hour or so I was rather knackered, so I sat down and researched the palm tree I’d seen earlier at the garden centre. Apparently if you are thinking of planting a palm tree, this is *exactly* the time of year not to plant one. Early to mid-spring is the time to plant them apparently. Oh well… perhaps I won’t get a palm. After all, the last three I’ve had all died.
I then alternately read my Kindle (Game of Thrones books) and had a kip whilst “er indoors TM” painted the back bedroom we’ve recently had plastered.
Over dinner we watched more Lego Masters: USA…
We didn’t do much today, but I’m worn out from having done it.
18 September 2023 (Monday) - It Rained
I felt a bit rough this morning; when the noise of the rain hadn’t kept me awake, the dogs had. They have this habit of sleeping at the bottom of the bed (which is fine) and then slowly moving up the bed so I find myself hunched up with my knees up by my ears.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet as I do. A surprising amount of people had been camping last night and had posted videos of the noise of the rain in their tents. It’s a few years since I last camped, but I always felt that the sound of rain on a tent was perhaps the most depressing sound ever. You just knew that you’d have a morning in which absolutely everything you’d touch would be sodden.
With not a lot else on and rain stopped but more forecast I thought I’d take the dogs out.
Bearing in mind the overnight rain, Orlestone would have been a swamp, so we went up to Kings Wood. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about Russell Brand. I can’t pretend to know the first thing about him; apparently there’s several rape allegations against him… but these are allegations made firstly to various newspapers, then (so it would seem) as an afterthought to the police. Personally If I’d been raped I’d complain to the police straight away. Admittedly there’s probably more money to be made from selling my story to the newspapers, but what do I know?
There was also an interview with some woman who was a head honcho at the BBC who was ranting about how inappropriate Mr Brand is. During the interview it came out that Mr Brand still has a You-Tube channel which attracts over six million people a day. Personally I’d see that as saying that six million people find him amusing and entertaining, but this woman being interviewed felt that this was six million people whose viewing she needed to censor.
As I say I don’t know anything about this bloke other than what I heard this morning (and later read up on) but as is the case with all these “evil celebrities”, years pass before anyone says anything.
We got to the woods and had a rather good walk. We went for two and a half miles. We met a few other dogs; the meetings went well. The dogs zoomed into hedges and thickets and came back when called. Whilst their behaviour is far from bad in Orlestone, it is noticeable far better at Kings Wood. I wonder what causes the difference.
We came home where the dogs immediately went to sleep. I loaded a load of rubbish from the shed into my car, then made a cuppa (with cake) for me and “er indoors TM”. From the looks on the screen I think her colleagues might have liked a cuppa and cake too. I wrote up a little CPD and as the rain became torrential I drove round to the tip on my way to the late shift.
I was tempted to leave the rubbish in the car for a day or two, but I really needed to empty it out so I braved the elements. I got to the tip and told the nice tip man I had some plaster to shift. He explained I had to pay; I said I knew. So I lugged my bags through the rain past the barriers into the exclusive pay-per-bag area where I had to empty each bag into the skip. Or try to. There was another chap also emptying bags of hardcore. Or trying to. His wife was with him; a quarrelsome old harridan who was keeping up a constant tirade of criticism. The old bat was standing there in the rain (getting in everyone's way) finding fault with every single thing her husband was trying to do. I asked her to excuse me so I could get to the skip; she kept haranguing her husband. I again asked her (a little louder) to move .. She looked at me, and turned back to nagging her husband. After the fourth time that I asked her to move, the nice tip man told the old bat to either help empty the bags of hardcore or get out of everyone's way. She was not all happy about being spoken to in this way, but the nice tip man was adamant; she could either help or get out of the way. As the old bat shuffled away muttering to herself, her henpecked husband quietly thanked the nice tip man.
What must this chap's life be like; saddled with a wife who wants to stand in the torrential rain just to nag him?
I paid the nice tip man twenty quid for allowing me to empty my four bags of plaster, got rid of the rest of my rubbish, washed my hands in the rainwater which had filled a discarded bathroom sink and set off to work through the rain. I probably have driven slower up the motorway but neither I nor anyone else dared go anywhere near what you might call "motorway speed"; at one point (near the junction six turn-off) there was an inch of water covering the slow lane.
I spent much of the afternoon looking out of the window watching the weather alternate from torrential rainstorms to glorious sunshine and back again every fifteen minutes.
It had all dried out by home time.
It was a shame that I had to take a five-miles diversion on the way home as the motorway slip road was closed.
19 September 2023 (Tuesday) - This n That
Bailey woke me in the small hours when she started coughing. Well, I say "coughing". Just like my Fudge used to, Bailey doesn't so much "cough" as "quack". When she coughs she sounds just like an angry duck. It only lasted long enough to wake me up, but from then on I dozed fitfully not getting more than a few minutes' sleep at any time.
Eventually I gave up trying to sleep, got up and made toast, and watched another episode of "Shameless" in which the scriptwriters would have us believe that a sacked trainee pharmacist (with only a few weeks' experience and no qualifications whatsoever) would have a post-graduate level understanding of pharmacology and would be able to make all manner of designer drugs with a child's toy chemistry set. Mind you the same writers would also have us believe that our heroes "did the dirty deed" with their pants still on (again). As I've said before that show could be so much better had the scriptwriters made just the smallest amount of effort.
I set off work-wards listening to the radio as I went. Apparently the leader of the opposition Sir Kier Starmer is travelling at the moment; meeting all sorts of foreign leaders as he goes. Opposition leaders rarely get this treatment from the leaders of other countries. The pundits on the radio saw this as evidence that all these foreign leaders see him as Britain's future, and consequently Rishi Sunak is already seen as history by the rest of the world.
Is he? Time will tell - it always does.
Mind you Sir Kier is apparently keen to re-negotiate the Brexit deal which pretty much everyone in the UK sees as a bad deal. But he will be on a hiding to nothing as there is pretty much no interest at all anywhere in Europe for digging up the past.
And there was more talk about Russell Brand who denies all the allegations made against him (well he would, wouldn't he?) Apparently yesterday the police received rape allegations about incidents which supposedly happened between 2006 to 2013. Whilst I'm not condoning what he might have done, why does someone wait over ten years before going to the police?
And apparently You-Tube have stopped him making money out of his You-Tube channel.
I suspect that will hurt him far more than the adverse publicity.
I got to work and spent most of the day with a guts ache; with a gut the size of mine, that's a lot to ache. And with work worked I came home. “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good chili which we washed down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s red wine. As basic as red wine goes, and far better than stuff four times the price. As we scoffed and guzzled we watched more “Lego Masters: USA”. Not too shabby at all.
And in closing I’ll make the observation that today was International Talk like a pirate day which was seemingly totally missed by everyone
Ten years ago I wrote "In previous years I've blogged about this. I won't go over the old ground; I'll just say that it was a fun idea at the time which has probably long since had its day. It's not been the same since its founder Mad Cap'n Tom threw in the sponge".
I think that was probably fair - now even the website has gone.
20 September 2023 (Wednesday) - Thirty Years Later
I had a reasonable night's sleep - settled dogs help. But I woke with the same niggling toothache that I had when I went to bed last night.
I made toast, turned on the telly and the SkyPlus box refused to do anything. It does that periodically. Nothing that turning it all off at the mains, counting to twenty and turning back on again can't cure, but a pain in the glass (!) nonetheless. Whilst checking that it had all come back on-line I saw that “Star Trek: Lower Decks” was now available on Paramount Plus. When I last looked it was only on Amazon Prime, and I had to pay extra for each episode. So I watched an episode of "Lower Decks" on Paramount Plus and reminded myself that despite being a cartoon, it was rather good. Loads of references to what had gone before if you paid attention.
I quickly checked the Internet - a friend in America had seen a documentary on Dover's Western Heights. I sent through some of the photos from when we'd been exploring there twelve years ago, then set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister is looking to ease up on some of the green legislation he had planned.
There were a lot of people looking to lambast him about this. Not least of which the people who make cars who are spending millions of pounds tooling up to make electric cars. I feel sorry for them having potentially spent a fortune needlessly, but...
The trouble here is that the planning for electric cars is all arse-about-face. As a nation we need the infrastructure to charge electric cars in place *before* everyone is forced to get one. There's no point in people getting a leccie car if you can't charge it anywhere (like I can't).
In any case the whole "UK going green thing" is rather pissing in the wind all the time the USA and China carry on as they are, isn't it?
I got to work and did my thing. I phoned my dentist to see if I could get an appointment for my aching fang; I couldn't.
When I came home I phoned them to see if they had a cancellation. There was no reply so I went down the road to talk to them. According to their website they were open until seven o’clock. According to the sheet of paper blu-tack-ed to their door they closed at five o’clock.
I’m not impressed.
With the dogs settled we went out for the evening for a little get-together. Thirty and a half years ago I answered a letter in the TV Zone sci-fi magazine asking if there were any Star Trek fans in Kent. It turned out there were three. The chap who’d asked the question (who lived thirty miles away in Ramsgate) and two of us in Ashford. Shortly after that a little Ashford-based Star Trek fan club started up. With twelve of us at the first ever meeting (in May 1993 in my living room) over the years the numbers grew. People came and went. Eventually we called an end when lockdowns put paid to pretty much everything three years ago. But over the years we had such fun. Star Trek conventions and role-playing games and booze-ups. Weddings and christenings. We even had a couple of funerals along the way. Over thirty years we lost touch with some people, and what with people having moved away and illness and one thing and another we couldn’t all get together tonight. But some of us did.
We will *not* leave it so long before out next get-together…
21 September 2023 (Thursday) - A Day's Leave
I woke at one o’clock to find myself in front of the telly with Morgan asleep by my side. I blame the fourth pint of plum porter.
I took myself off to bed and slept rather well.
Over brekkie I saw that the photos I’d posted from the pub last night had received quite a few comments. It had been rather good to catch up last night. Back in the day we used to talk all sorts of geeky stuff with each other; last night we were mostly comparing ailments.
And I sent out some birthday videos this morning; people were having birthdays today. People do that.
Rather than messing about with a phone that never gets answered I went down the road to the dentist and was first one through the door to get an emergence appointment. The woman behind the counter told me they didn’t have any… I told her “No!”, told her I’d been fobbed off yesterday and that I was having an appointment. She booked one for half past five… Emergency, eh?
With “er indoors TM” going in to the office today I’d booked a day’s leave to be on dog-sitting duty. I took the dogs out. As we drove up to Kings Wood the pundits on the radio were talking about how Poland had stopped sending military hardware to Ukraine. Snowed out with Ukrainian refugees, not getting the grain shipments that were promised, and seemingly fed up with the loudly expressed ingratitude of the Ukrainian leadership, with an election coming the Polish leaders have had enough.
We got to the woods and had a walk… not one of the better ones with impeccable behavior, and not one of the worse ones either. Rather average really. As we walked we met a nice lady with two small dogs who played with the puppies. The nice lady said she doesn’t come to Kings Wood very often and asked if she was on the right path to get to White Hill. She was. I told her that if she stayed on the path for a mile and a half it would take her straight to the lower car park. Her face fell. “A mile and a half?” she asked. I checked my watch which had been recording the route. When I confirmed the distance she didn’t actually cry, but it wasn’t far off.
After five miles we got back to the car and came home to have our bellies washed (as they were rather grubby). The dogs had a late brekkie and their monthly flea treatments and I put a load of shirts in to wash.
As I scoffed a bit of dinner I started on an epic telly session. As I scoffed dinner and ironed I watched none episodes of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” until it was time for my emergency dental appointment.
After a little fiddling about and an X-ray the dentist declared that the iffy tooth was a bit loose and that the root canal didn’t look right. It did look different to the tooth next to it on the X-ray. He’s recommending a root canal filling which might do the trick, and if it don’t then the tooth will have to come out and I’ll get a falsie.
I’ve got to wait a couple of weeks for the root canal filling. Oh well… the tooth only hurts when I bite down on it. I shall chew with the other half of my gob.
“er indoors TM” boiled up some rather good dinner which we scoffed whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”.
Despite having done little more than watch telly today, I’m feeling rather worn out.
22 September 2023 (Friday) - Geo-Meet
One of the smaller dogs moved in their sleep last night and Treacle got very agitated about it. She can be quite the grump when woken up in the small hours. But she has no difficulty in getting back to sleep. I dozed on and off for a couple of hours, then gave up trying to sleep, and made toast, Rather than watching "Shameless" I watched more "Star Trek: Lower Decks" which was rather good; today's episode had loads of references to what had gone before; quite possibly too many. I suspect people who hadn't been watching Star Trek twenty-five years ago would have had no idea what was going on.
I then had a little look at the Internet (my mornings follow a definite routine); there were still “likes” and comments appearing on the photos from Wednesday’s meet-up. And since then I’ve been thinking… I can distinctly remember that there were twelve people along to our first-ever trekkie meeting in May 1993. Five of us were at the pub on Wednesday. One was (and still is) in America. One was (and still is) in Hastings. I can picture three others who have completely disappeared… and I can’t remember the other two at all.
Taking care not to disturb anyone (especially a grumpy Treacle) I got ready for work and set off through a very dark and foggy morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how President Biden has announced that (unlike Poland) he is continuing to fund the Ukrainians' war efforts. I suppose the difference between Poland and the USA is that Poland can't afford to pay for someone else's war and that the Russians are very nearly on the Polish doorstep, whereas the USA is only too happy to fund the war against Russia that they dare not actually fight themselves.
And a year after ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss comprehensively poggered the UK economy the Labour party has suggested that any major changes to the UK's financial policies be reviewed by the official watchdogs.
That's a very good idea. But why not extend this beyond the Treasury. Why not have the same for education and health? It's no secret that every change to the country's health policy has been instigated and abandoned on the whim of the current political climate without a thought for whether or not a policy might (or did) work.
I went to work via the petrol station where they didn't have any sandwiches. having forgotten to make any this morning I needed some scoff. So I drove over to Sainsburys where I got lunch. And again my piss boiled. I managed to work the self-service checkouts as I'm not entirely useless. However quite a few other customers did struggle with them. There were several rather bored members of staff standing round idle. Those that weren't fiddling on their phones were sneering at the customers who were having trouble with the checkouts. You'd think they'd put these staff on the manned checkouts, wouldn't you? After all this is a very regular occurrence.
Work was work; I did my bit. But as the day went on I felt progressively more and more grotty. I was glad to be on an early shift. But once home early I didn’t take the dogs out. “er indoors TM” had taken them out at lunch time and brought them home covered in poo. Dogs is foul creatures.
Instead I sat quietly on the sofa and wrote up some CPD.
By the early evening I’d perked up a bit, so we settled the dogs and drove out to Badlesmere where there was a geo-meet going on. It was good to catch up with friends I see oh-so rarely.
Three pints later we came home (via the kebab shop) and watched more “Lego Masters: USA” in which each team of contestants was given an extra team member – a dog. They then had to make a Lego model of their canine team member. It turned out to be rather harder than it looked, with three of the models collapsing into a thousand (or more) pieces at the vital moment of judging.
23 September 2023 (Saturday) - Still Here
I was rather glad to wake up this morning. Apparently yesterday was the end of the world. Mind you for all that Facebook had been crawling with memes about it all week, there was precious little that I could actually find on-line to explain why yesterday was supposedly the end of the world.
Mind you I can remember the first “end of the world” on the first of January 1980. Apparently Nostradaumus had said that everything would come to a crashing halt. But it didn’t. I spent quite a bit of that day walking round Hastings with my mate Douggie Small; both of us rather disappointed that the world was still there.
Since then there have been quite a few “ends of the world” but none of them lived up to the disappointment of that first one.
“er indoors TM” was off out with her mates this morning leaving me with the dogs. As she went out and closed the front door so all three turned to me and looked at me with a rather disappointed air. “Oh, the spare human’s in charge now?”. I did their brekkie and they all went straight back to sleep. I did my brekkie and had a little look at the Internet.
There was a posting on the Kent Dachshund Facebook page. Someone’s dog had seven puppies on Wednesday and had died (of sepsis) overnight leaving the newborn puppies. How do you bring up seven orphaned three-day-old puppies? I just wished I could offer more than just twee platitudes.
I loaded the dogs into the car and we drove round to Dog Club where I was on opening up duty. I open the gate and hang up the collection pot and a carrier bag for the poop. An easy enough thing to do.
Dog club went well. Little Lilly who was so reactive and nervous a few weeks ago is coming on in leaps and bounds.
There was a spaniel along for her first time; on arrival she stood at the edge of the field barking in terror at everyone. But after a few minutes she was in the thick of it all seemingly having a great time.
And at one point Treacle was part of a group of seven or eight dogs clustered around me getting tiny treats. When we first started Dog Club Treacle could barely tolerate Morgan and Bailey getting treats from me, and wouldn’t let any other dogs get between me and her; today she was part of a large group of dogs with whom I was sharing treats and she was happy to wait her turn. She’ll never be running and playing with the other dogs like the puppies do, but today was a major achievement for her.
As we drove home Steve was doing the Mystery Year on the radio. It was one of “the hippy years”…Was it 1970? It was.
Once home I emptied the washing machine and hung it out on the new line I’d put up a week or so ago. What with the seemingly constant rain we’ve had recently this was the first time I got to test my new washing line.
I made myself a cuppa and watched more “Star Trek: Lower Decks”, then settled the dogs (they were asleep anyway) and set off to work.
As I got on to the motorway there were a few miles of dual carriageway as the cones were out. There were a few more miles of dual carriageway at Junction eight as well. Having had an open motorway for a week or so, the roadworks have been back in place for a few days. Doubly so today as Junction five was also coned off meaning that I had to drive up to Junction four and double back to get to work. Mind you I was right to go up to Junction four and double back. Everyone else was taking the short cut at Junction six and the traffic was doubled back for probably about three quarters of a mile.
Don't get me wrong - I have no problems with highway maintenance and agree entirely that the roads need to be in tip-top shape. However I *do* have an issue with ten miles of coned-off motorway and no one actually doing any roadworks. That's not "not many" - that's "I've not seen a single person all week no matter what time of day or night I drive up and down the motorway".
I got to work where I had dinner in the works canteen. I often do when working at the weekend. A plate of macaroni cheese and chips with a bowl of apple pie and custard for pudding. Large portions served with a smile, and change out of four quid. Over the years I've heard so many snide comments about hospital food; all I can say is that the stuff I scoff is rather good.
I then cracked on with the business of the day. I've often mentioned that I don't mind working at the weekends... but I did mind today. Probably because the weather was so good.
I came home to mayhem… favourite smallest granddaughter “Darcie Waa Waa TM” has come for a sleepover. She and her grandmother and the dogs are all up in the attic room… Telly time for me!
24 September 2023 (Sunday) - Prison Island
With “er indoors TM” and the dogs up in the attic room with “Darcie Waa Waa TM” I had a rather good night’s sleep. As I made toast this morning Morgan and Bailey came downstairs, went outside, did their “thing” and went back to the attic room.
I sat and scoffed brekkie; making the most of the peace and quiet before the chaos. As I scoffed toast I smiled at the Internet. There was consternation on one of the atheist meme pages I follow on Facebook. Someone who had posted some anti-religion meme had had her Facebook profile attacked by a load of angry Christians. Apparently. I’m not sure how one goes about attacking a Facebook profile; presumably having God on your side makes it easier (or possible). And my nephew sent me a link to the official trailer for the upcoming Doctor Who episode(s). It looks rather like Alexei Sayle’s blockbuster spectacular “Things Exploding”; it looks rather good, but then trailers do. Personally I wish they hadn’t brought back David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Am I being cynical in thinking that the writers have done so because they need something pretty damn spectacular to recover from the utterly dire last season?
I sent out birthday wishes, downloaded bank statements then the family came downstairs,,,
We spent a pleasant hour crawling round the floor, chasing dogs, singing silly songs and feeding toast to the dogs. Neither “Darcie Waa Waa TM” nor dogs like marmite on toast.
“er indoors TM” took “Darcie Waa Waa TM” home and I spent an hour in the garden. I harvested dog turds, hung out the washing, harvested dog turds, started mowing the lawn, harvested dog turds, continued mowing the lawn, harvested dog turds... You wouldn’t believe how much dung three small dogs can generate.
With lawn mowed I pruned plants and bionically burned weeds. The bionic burner I bought a few months ago does kill the weeds, but unlike the marketing blurb would have me believe, the weeds do keep coming back. But a few minutes blasting the thing around achieves the same as what I would do scrabbling on my hands and knees for half an hour.
After an hour or so “er indoors TM” returned and I stopped gardening. I was knackered. We had a cuppa, settled the dogs and drove up to Maidstone where we met “My Boy TM” and Cheryl. As it is his birthday soon we thought we might have a bit of fun today. I had no idea what to expect; I’d never even heard of the place before. “Prison Island” was really good fun.
The first bit was an hour in a series of rooms in which we faced various puzzles and tasks. I hesitate to mention any telly shows or say anything which might give the wrong impression, but after a couple of minutes I seriously expected to see Richard O’Brien running along next to me. In our hour we managed to try fifteen of over twenty games. In retrospect I think my biggest mistake was that it never occurred to me that I might stand up in the ball pit.
The second part was perhaps the craziest crazy golf I’ve ever played. I shall certainly be going back again.
From Prison Island we drove out to the Toby Carvery for far too much to eat. And a pudding. I gave myself a stomach ache.
I took a few photos this afternoon.
We got home, woke the dogs, and watched an episode of “Lego Masters: USA” in which the contestants had eight hours to build a Lego pirate ship. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that last winter I built one… it took me months.
And then I had a look at those bank statements I downloaded earlier. The fifty quid worth of new T-shirts and pants and stuff I got for the summer holiday still hasn’t appeared on my credit card statement. And the combined leccie and gas bill is now over forty quid a month less than it was.
Bearing in mind I worked yesterday, today’s been a rather good weekend.
25 September 2023 (Monday) - Birthdays
Finding myself wide awake far too early (yet again) I thought about making toast and strawberry milk shake for “er indoors TM”. Thirty-six years ago last night we'd had toast and strawberry milk shake in the small hours when she was in early labour starting the process of squeezing “My Boy TM” out. For a couple of years it became something of a tradition when awake with small babies, but as they started sleeping through the night so did we (or tried to). But not being brave enough to wake her I thought better of the idea.
I tried to get back to sleep and dozed on and off for a while, before giving up with sleep and I got up. Or attempted it. Moving hurt; I blame an episode at Prison Island yesterday when I dived into the ball pit and tried to "swim" in the balls rather than stepping in and walking.
I hobbled downstairs and started my morning routine. As I made toast I was surprised to see not-so-nice-next-door was in darkness. There is usually a light or two on in there from five o'clock onward. Was she having a lie-in?
I made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless" in which today the scriptwriters showed their utter ignorance of the Scout Association. For a show which started so well, the writers soon gave up any attempt at doing any research on their storylines.
And with telly watched I had a little look at the Internet. There was an extremely nasty squabble on one of the Lego pages about the right way to stick one bit of Lego to another. Taking a thin Lego plate and wedging it at ninety degrees between the studs of another brick was seriously being frowned upon. And someone who was asking for help and advice on one of the Garden Ponds pages was getting nothing but unnecessary sarcasm.
Taking care not to wake those who'd moved into what had once been my bit of the bed I got dressed and set off to work. As I drove I listened to the pundits on the radio. This morning they were rather concerned that the army is on standby as armed police officers are handing in their licences to kill. I can't say I blame them - an armed copper was sent in to a dangerous situation in which he had to make a split-second decision and now he's being charged for committing murder. Understandably other armed coppers aren't keen on going to prison for doing their job. Presumably the squaddies aren't fussed, or they just do as they are told?
Meanwhile our old friend science was getting rather excited as fragments of the asteroid Bennu have safely been retrieved.
And there was an interview with the leader of the Dribbling Democraps who said an awful lot without actually saying anything at all.
I got to work and cracked on with that which I couldn't avoid. As I worked I was surprised to see one of the secretaries in at work; this morning Facebook had told me it was her birthday. Going to work on your birthday? I worked on my birthday once. It was in 1983, it seriously sucked, and I have never worked on my birthday ever since. If my birthday wasn't a weekend day I would take the day (usually the whole week) off.
And talking of birthdays, as well as “My Boy TM” and my Facebook friend, Treacle is having her birthday today. She is seven. She's a funny thing. Sometimes she's a grumpy old lady of whom both puppies are (very) frightened and who can't stand the company at Dog Club; other times she's running off with slippers and socks wanting to play a game. She *loves" "FEED THE FISH!" She's a very intelligent dog and she understands a lot of what we say; she will fetch specific items when asked, and understands when I tell her all the food is gone when I'm sharing scraps.
She’s currently fast asleep next to me on the sofa. Dogs don’t seem to understand birthdays…
26 September 2023 (Tuesday) - Before the Night Shift
I slept well for a change. I made toast and scoffed it sitting on the sofa with a very quiet, subdued and soppy Morgan. What was that all about? As I scoffed I had my usual look at Facebook. This morning it was rather entertaining. There was a rather nasty rant about anti-same-sex relationships on one of the groups I follow… apparently Donald Trump and some bunch of religious crackpots being in agreement automatically made anything true. It is odd how some people really cannot distinguish between what is factually correct as being “true” and what they personally believe as being “true”. Quite often these people take to putting the word “Fact!” after ludicrous nonsense as though that makes it true.
There was a mini-squabble about the origin of the name “Hastings” on another group; several theories were being put forward despite no one having any actual evidence for any of them.
A friend who often pleads poverty was jetting off on yet another international holiday.
And someone who regularly spams all the local Facebook pages for her own favourite pet projects was lambasting others for doing the same… and getting quite a bit of stick for doing so.
And I had an email that the geo-feds had archived one of my geocaches… that was kind of them. I emailed a complaint.
I got the dogs onto their leads and set off for a little walk. As we drove there was a rather interesting article on the radio about extremely rich people. It started off with concern being expressed about how international leaders are queuing up for meetings with the rich. Elon Musk was mentioned. It was then claimed that being extremely rich and influential was nothing new, and there was a mini biography of Henry Ford who (so it was claimed) spent a small fortune on anti-Semitic stuff. This was followed by an equally rich and influential person who lived in the eighteenth century. I’d have loved to have known who it was but the woman speaking had such I thick accent that I could only understand about half of her words.
Why do they allow these people on the radio?
We got to the woods and had a rather good three and a half miles walk. The last time we were in the woods the puppies’ recall wasn’t what it might have been, so we worked on whistle training and treats today, and did (mostly) rather well. We had one occasion when they were a tad slow coming back, but today was a vast improvement on the last walk.
As we walked I noticed Morgan doing “the hop”; I think he’s got the patellar luxation thing that Fudge had. I shall have to keep an eye on him.
We came home. Treacle had her paws washed as during our walk she’d made a point of being a swamp monster. Morgan and Bailey walked (ran) round all the muddy puddles and swamps; Treacle proudly marched through all of them whilst looking at me seemingly incredibly pleased with herself for doing so.
I then popped to the corner shop for pastries. “er indoors TM” had hers as she worked; I scoffed mine as I wrote up CPD. Dull, but I have to. Mind you, yesterday when staring down the microscope I saw something interesting. Having a CPD blog means I can gloat about it.
I had a shower, then went to bed for the afternoon. I slept for nearly four hours, which was rather good.
I’m hoping that “er indoors TM” will boil up some dinner in a bit, then I shall set off to the night shift.
Can’t say I’m keen on the idea…
27 September 2023 (Wednesday) - Ranting After the Night Shift
There's no denying I'd not been looking forward to last night's night shift. The worst night shift I ever had was the night of a 26th September, and I get a tad superstitious sometimes. The one that had me worried was in 1987; the day after “My Boy TM” was born. Ideally I wouldn't have been working that day but... Over the years the people I've worked with have come and gone. Sometimes work has been fun, other times not so. I'm probably working with the best group of people I've ever worked with at the moment, but things weren't so peachy in 1987. I'll gloss over the "delightful people" with whom I worked at the time; but I'll say that it speaks volumes that at that time no one was prepared to swap a night shift the day after my first child had been born. I went in to work feeling exhausted back then and during that shift there was crisis after crisis. I did compatibility testing on over fifty units of blood (these days more than four in a night shift is rather excessive).
Last night's shift wasn't anywhere near as bad, for which I was rather pleased. But I was still glad when the early shift rolled in to take over this morning.
I listened to the radio as I drove home (as I do) and rolled my eyes. The Home Secretary was being lambasted for making some very harsh anti-refugee comments and for threatening to take the UK out of the international conventions on migration.
What boiled my piss here was that she is making these nasty comments and the masses think she’s wonderful because they want anyone they see as competition for their dole to be sent back on the next banana boat. What the masses don’t see is that voting for her is voting for the government who has been allowing all these immigrants in for the last ten (or more) years.
I got home, had a shower and shave and went to bed. Morgan and Bailey came with me and as I tried to sleep so they had a play-fight. After half an hour (!) they wore themselves out and I slept through till mid-day when I put some washing into the machine, made toast, and remembered that yesterday evening when I went to Sainsburys I’d meant to get some jam.
I put peanut butter and marmalade on my toast (don’t say “yuk!”, try it!) and had a little look at the Internet. Yesterday I mentioned that the geo-feds had archived one of my geocaches. The thing had been supposedly missing, and my plan had been to replace it tomorrow. However I had an email today telling me that “once a cache has been archived for non maintenance it can't be unarchived”. Bearing in mind that others have been unarchived before I was a tad pissed off about this. Also bearing in mind that geocaching dot com openly admit that their notification system isn’t reliable you’d think that they’d make sure I got the message before pulling the plug.
Oh well… it was one of a series of caches along the Greensand Way; those ones have run their course. Rather than doing the maintenance run I’d planned, I shall archive the lot.
I hung out washing, then got out the tape measure. Ever since “er indoors TM” got me my new SmartWatch at Christmas I’ve been rather obsessed with my step count. But (to be honest) the step count never really meant very much… until today. After a few measurements I’ve worked out that twenty steps is fourteen metres sixty-five centimetres. Which means that one step is seventy-three and a quarter centimetres. So my daily target of six thousand steps is four point three nine five kilometres or two point seven three miles (in English). I thought it was more…
I got out the garden vacuum, sucked up all the dead leaves from everyone else’s trees that were littering my lawn, then mowed the lawn. And with lawn mowed I sat by the poind and read more of my “Game of Thrones” e-book. As I read so Bailey yelped. She’d been sitting on the lawn doing nothing (much like me) when she screamed, jumped up and flew into the house where she seemed very sorry for herself and wanted lots of cuddles whilst holding up her front right paw. Had something bitten or stung her?
The plan for the evening had been to wander round to the local Baptist church where the South Ashford Community Forum was being re-launched. I’d seen the meeting advertised on Facebook and had asked what it was all about. Shortly after my asking that, commenting on the event was turned off.
The South Ashford Community Forum was originally set up from a feeling that the local council and councilors don't have a clue about the people they serve, don't communicate and basically get away with things because there's no interaction. A community forum would give people a voice and let them know what's planned. The South Ashford Community Forum has run as a Facebook group for some time, but apparently (so I was told) the deputy mayor wanted to re-launch it to make herself look good. Cynical? Perhaps. I might ask if has any politician ever done anything other than self-aggrandizement but that’s probably not the case for local councilors; if for no other reason that no one really cares about local councils. Take for example my rant of ten years ago when I pointed out that the local councilor at the time got in with only seven point six of the electorate voting for him. That was ten years ago and look at the most recent election. With just over two thousand people eligible to vote, the winning candidate came in with one hundred and sixty-one votes; seven point eight per cent of the electorate.
With everyone else utterly apathetic about local matters would I be wasting my time? Mind you I was rather knackered after yesterday’s night shift so I sent my apologies.
Instead we cracked open a bottle of montepulciano (as one does) and watched an episode of “Lego Masters: USA” whilst Bailey sat with me and quivered. She’s not well. If she doesn’t perk up, we’re off to the vet.
28 September 2023 (Thursday) - Rostered Day Off
A night shift and a bottle of red wine meant I slept like a log last night. I was licked awake at half past seven by three rather excited dogs, the smallest of which seemed to have got over whatever it was that had upset her yesterday.
I made toast (with jam) and had a look at the Internet. It was still there. I looked at a few holiday photos… here’s a thought. If you home-school your kids you can get to go on holiday when it is a lot cheaper when everyone else is at school. I sent out a birthday wish to someone who was one of my trainees thirty years ago. She was fifty today. Fifty - where do the years go?
And I looked at the geo-map. Yesterday I mentioned that the geo-feds had archived one of my caches without my having received any notification that there was a problem with it. I saw on the map that another of my caches in that series had been disabled by officialdom because of perceived problems with it that they hadn’t told me about. I can’t be poring over the geo-map every day looking to see if there’s issues with what I’ve hidden. I archived all my ones along the Greensand Way (as that seemed to be where the problem was).
I also heard that last night’s launch of the South Ashford Community Forum wasn’t the success that it might have been. There were four local councilors (who really had to be there), two members of the “Friends of Victoria Park”, four members of the public (at whom the meeting was aimed), the chairman of the South Ashford Community Forum, and the secretary of the church which was hosting the meeting. As I suspected, apathy was the winner here.
And with not a lot else happening in cyberspace I turned off the lap-top and cracked on with the day.
Yesterday I did loads of washing which just didn’t dry, so I hung it on the line again. That took ages. And with it done I took the dogs for a walk. We went up to Kings Wood where we walked for three and a half miles. We arrived to see a Dalmatian running round the car park; he followed us (at a distance) into the woods but wandered off after a while. I hope he’s OK – he was a hundred yards behind us for a while, then suddenly just disappeared.
As we went we did whistle practice which worked with varying degrees of success. Treacle rarely left my side, by when she did the whistle brought her back in near panic. Bailey would come at top speed, but being only little and being keen to wander, coming back took a while for her even if she did respond immediately. And Morgan would come in his own good time when he was ready. But whistle training did work (even if it took a while).
With walk walked we came home where I put a load of washing into scrub, got the washing in off the line, and started an epic session of ironing. As I ironed I watched the last episodes of “Shameless”; I started watching the series on May 5th; it has only taken just under six months to watch. And with the last of “Shameless” watched and pants still to sort, I put on a Netflix film.
“Paradise” is a sci-fi (ish) film, the premise of which is that you can sell years of your life for financial gain or to pay off debts. However (like “Shameless”) the writers would have benefitted from the teensiest bit of research. *If*it were possible to extend human life, telomere transplantation would be a sensible place to start… and for the film-makers this would involve something which would look like a blood transfusion. Physically ripping years out of someone’s back in much the same way that a butcher might remove the kidneys from a carcass simply doesn’t work. And having the leading characters being in total disagreement, but each alternately taking different sides of the argument didn’t work. The film was originally made in German; perhaps it lost something in translation? I think it fair to say “es war krappenschite”.
“er indoors TM” came home from a day in the office and the dogs all got rather over-excited to see her. She boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we devoured whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”. There’s a new series of “Bake Off” going on to the Sky-Q box, but we’ll get Lego watched before we start on that…
Today was a rostered day off… I think I needed it after Tuesday’s night shift…
29 September 2023 (Friday) - Trousers
I've a vague recollection of pushing a dog so that I could roll over in the night, but other than that I had a good night's sleep. I got up, and as I wandered to the bathroom I noticed all the light on next door. As I took Bailey for a tiddle last night at 9pm the only light on next door was the one in the back bedroom. She clearly goes to bed and gets up several hours earlier than most.
I made toast (with jam again - because we've now got some), and as I scoffed toast watched the most recent episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks" that was released last night. Am I being rather sad in thinking that Lt Tendi is perhaps the foxiest woman in all of Star Trek?
I got dressed in the dark; something I do for five to six months every year over the winter. It is mostly much the same as getting dressed with the light on, but you don't wake anyone else up. However you do run the risk of spending the day with your undercrackers either inside out or back to front.
As I left the house I saw we'd not moved out recycling bin to the pavement. With the bin lorry coming up the road (you probably heard them shouting thins morning, no matter where in the world you are) I moved the recycling bin two yards from the front of the house to the pavement so that they could empty it. The bin men flatly refuse to walk the two yards from the pavement to the front of the house where the recycling bin lives... I've complained to the council before; the chap with whom I spoke admitted that it was rather pathetic, but made it clear that we all need to "appease the contractors"...
As I drove through the rain up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister is seemingly sucking up to motorists. It was alleged that there's more potential votes for him from those who drive cars than from those who get about using any other form of transport. He can suck up to me all he wants, I'd piss on the voting slip before voting for him.
And there was a lot of talk about how Labour are looking to win a lot of seats from the Scottish Nationalists.
I thought it rather strange how there is clearly a fascination with national politics whilst locally there is utter apathy.
Work was work; I did my bit on the early shift, then (with the afternoon off) walked out at mid-day and wandered over to the vaccination hub where (after a ten minute wait) I got my COVID jab in one arm and my flu jab in the other.
I then came home. I thought about taking the dogs up to the woods, but it was perhaps rather too hot for a long walk, so we wandered round the local roads. A geocache I’d hidden not far from home was supposedly missing and had had reports of being inaccessible because of massively overgrown weeds. We didn’t have any problem getting to where it was supposed to be. Was the old one still there? In all honesty, don’t know, don’t care. I dropped off a new one and we walked home again.
I then had a little sort out. I had planned to go to Cotton Traders on my way home for new trousers and a new fleece. The pocket of my work trousers has worn through (the keys do that to all my trousers) and the cuffs of my fleece have frayed away after many years. But rather than buying new I thought I might have a little look-see upstairs. I have a habit of buying new clothes, chucking them in the cupboard and forgetting about them. Sure enough there was a new fleece there. That saved a bit of cash. But as for trousers… There were over a dozen new pairs in the cupboard, but all too small for me. If any of my loyal readers would like a dozen pairs of new trousers (waist 40 inches, inside leg 29 inches) just drop me a line.
I then had a little sleep for an hour or so. Why was I so tired? I blame the vaccinations.
“er indoors TM” sorted out fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”. I’ll have a look on Amazon for new trousers in a minute…
30 September 2023 (Saturday) - Family Staying
After yesterday’s vaccinations (one in each arm) I woke with my left arm aching and my right arm was fine. What was that all about?
As I made toast I saw that the clock in the kitchen had stopped. What is it with stopped clocks? Whenever one has stopped at home or at work I notice it all the time, but when it is running I’m not conscious of ever even looking at the thing.
I sparked up my lap-top and peered into the Internet. Facebook was crawling with posts about some tree that had got chopped down in Scotland. Am I being cynical in wondering if more than one or two of the dozens of people posting about the tree had ever heard of it before, let alone seen it. I certainly hadn’t. There’s a lot of this on the Internet – post up about some bandwagon or other and everyone jumps on it.
Someone else asked about good places to go for a walk – I suggested Orlestone and Kings Wood; someone else immediately claimed both places were ideal places for getting a car broken into. Seriously? I’ve been going to both for years and never heard of any issues there. I said as much… and the chap who’d said about break ins then said he’d never actually been to either but had a vague inkling that he’d heard rumours.
Isn’t the Internet wonderful…
Being Saturday we loaded up the dogs and drove round to Repton for Dog Club. We had a great time running and charging about. Little Lilly who was so nervous and reactive a few weeks ago is coming on in leaps and bounds. The two Spaniels who came for their first time last week (and just barked in nervous terror) were in the thick of all the games. And a tiny dachshund who came for her first time today had a whale of a time.
As we came home we listened to Steve’s Mystery Year competition on the radio. As we’d driven to Dog Club there was a competition to name a tune being played backwards – it was Super Trooper by Abba. Go me. And I got the Mystery Year too – 1992. As we messaged to Steve, that year was famous for being the late Queen’s horrible anus.
Once home I ran out the pond hose pipe, rigged it to the filter and had the filter cleaned out and all the accessories away in just under twenty-five minutes. Pond filter cleaning with the pressure filter is so much easier than it used to be. All I need now is a round pole to act as a spindle for my big reel thing.
Just as I’d tidied up I had a message. Someone had left the padlocks at Dog Club locked. Yes. I had. Deliberately. I thought if I left them open then passing herberts might nick them, and that whoever locks up might use their key to open the padlocks prior to locking up. However it turns out that Dog Club only has one key to the gates (the one in my pocket) and that locking up is dependent on me leaving the locks open.
I popped back to Dog Club where the big dogs session was in full swing and unlocked.
I came home via Waitrose as I thought we deserved Belgian buns. Two Belgian buns from Waitrose was just under a quid cheaper than the co-op.
We drove down to Folkestone to collect “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” (and Pogo). We brought them home and after a sandwich and a “Feed The Fish” ceremony we went round to the park. We’d heard the council had spent (literally) millions doing up the park, and they had. New climbing frames, trampolines, swings, zip lines… there were hundreds of people at the new play area and we spent over an hour there with the littluns. You really don’t mind paying council tax when it is spent on projects like that.
Eventually we were played out and come home for a KFC dinner, and then spent a little while watching Lube-Tube videos. Baby songs and gallium and crochet… the evening passed rather quickly.
“Darcie Waa Waa TM” is asleep; “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” is doing crochet with his grandmother. Pogo hasn’t screamed for at least fifteen minutes. I’m rather exhausted with it all…