The night shift was.. It was OK really. Six years ago my professional circumstances were somewhat different; I never thought I'd be asked to do night work again. For all that I would rather not be up all night, there is something satisfying about being trusted to do the job unsupervised. It is only after that has been taken away (albeit only for a couple of years) that you appreciate it.
Usually after a night shift I would drive home and have my piss boil as I listened to the radio. But my car was in for repair this morning. With the relief arriving only seven minutes before the train was due to leave, and having the train station some fifteen minutes walk away, I took my time and went to the works canteen for brekkie.
As I queued up I found myself biting my tongue. The fry-up is self-service; how is it possible for someone to take ten minutes (I timed them) to put scrambled egg, beans, mushrooms and two sausages on to a plate?
It is my habit to check the Internet over brekkie; it is much easier to do this with toast and a lap-top than with a fry-up and a mobile, but I had a go.
One email made me sit up and take notice. I did say "fuksake" out loud, but I don't think anyone noticed. A few weeks ago there was an article on Radio Four all about just how poorly understood are the numbers and habits of the mammals of the United Kingdom. The public were asked to download an app to their phones so they could report sightings of mammals to enable the experts at the to figure out how much of what we've got, and where we've got it.
I was dead keen to get involved. And I did. But this morning whoever it is at the other end of the "mammals" app on my phone sent me an email. They have rejected the deer sighting that I logged on Monday because the location that the GPS on my phone gave them is "outside the known range of deer."
We saw the thing and I took a photo of it, and used the app to log the sighting. From the geocaching I'd been doing on that phone that day I know that the GPS is accurate to a couple of metres.
So... rather than learning from evidence and updating their database, the people at the UK Mammal Society are sticking to what they know, even if it is wrong. I must admit that sticking to what I know, even if it is wrong is the sort of thing that I tend to do. but then again I didn't go on Radio Four to launch a nationwide campaign that I then chose to ignore.
With brekkie scoffed I wandered down to Barming railway station and was soon on the train home. Yesterday evening on the way to work I'd picked up a discarded "Evening Standard" and this morning I had a go at the crossword. I had this idea that it would keep me awake on the way home, and I wouldn't wake up an hour past my stop finding myself in Ramsgate. After all, I've slept past my stop once or twice before. It was an idea which worked. I transmitted photos of my progress to Facebook, and several of us had fun doing the crossword.
I got home an hour later than usual after the night shift, and took the dogs round the park. We had a good walk; we didn’t have any untoward incidents (which is always a good thing). I video-ed the dogs and posted it to Facebook, but it didn’t elicit much response. Photos on social media get quite a bit of attention; videos not so much.
I came home, and went to bed. I slept for a few hours until the garage phoned to say the car was ready. I took the hounds out again to collect the car. On Monday the nice man at the garage said that the parts alone would cost five hundred quid. Today I paid for the parts, the labour, a re-gassing of the air-con, and the VAT, and it came in at fifty quid *less* than the parts alone were supposed to have cost.
I’m not complaining.
It was good to drive home. Once home again the dogs settled and I spent the afternoon doing the ironing. Dull, but a job which needs doing. Just as I was finishing "er indoors TM" messaged to say she would be going out straight from work. Me and my dogs had kebab for tea…
I’ve been rather thoughtful and reflective over the last day or so. Yesterday I received an invitation to a party, but was warned “but so-and-so is going to be there.” “So-and-so” is an odd fellow. Over the course of five years he went from being everyone’s favourite person to being a universally disliked bully. It is commonly said that one should stand up to bullies, so at the time I did so. But everyone else who was being subjected to his nastiness continued to kow-tow to him so effectively I found myself isolated and have done ever since.
I sent an apology in reply to the party invitation; not perhaps that polite an apology, but one explaining in no uncertain terms why it wouldn’t bother me if I never saw “So-and-so” again. I got an instant reply which was rather sympathetic. I was told I wasn’t alone in feeling that way; no one likes him. When I asked why he remains part of the social circle which I have decided to abandon, and specifically why he got invited to this party at all, I got rather vague evasive answers.
Should I have not stood up to this fellow? Should I have stayed quiet and remained “part of the gang”? If being “part of the gang” involves being part of a social group which is beholden to his bullying ways I’m glad to be out of it.
I’ve also found myself thinking about other people’s religions. As I had my morning rummage round Facebook I saw a few friends thanking God for every trivial little incident that happened in their lives whilst drawing a blank over the much larger horrible episodes. I remember a friend of mine (now a Baptist minister) once offering up a prayer when he found a fifty-pence coin on the street but then saying that treading in a dog turd five minutes later was just blind chance.
As I scoffed my toast my phone beeped with a reminder from my google calendar that I had an appointment with the dentist this morning. I’d forgotten about that. Despite bombarding me with texts telling me about cancellations they’ve had and would I like an appointment at short notice, the dentist didn’t think to send me a message about the appointment I *did* have.
So with half an hour spare I devoured my toast and set off to the fang-quack. It is very handy having a dentist which is just a couple of hundred yards down the road.
Today was the first go with the new dentist. I’ve not had a lady dentist before. She rummaged in my gob, took some X-rays and found all sorts of problems that the hygienist didn’t spot last week. Don’t hygienists look for that sort of thing? Did the hygienist miss my dental dilemmas? Is the dentist just touting for trade?
I’ve got to go back in a few weeks’ time to get it all put right. I eventually managed to make an appointment; I couldn’t really hear what the receptionist was mumbling over the noise of the radio.
I came home and once the washing was pegged out I took the dogs round the park. Fudge was comical; at the point of our closest approach to the river he stopped and looked at me as though he was asking. “Oh go on then” I said, and he smiled (as he does) and ran straight to the dog beach. I ; he stands in the river and barks for you to throw stones onto the water. He then runs to where the stone went in, and barks for you to throw another.
We played for a few minutes before coming home. More washing got pegged out, and I had a go at some flaking paint with a wire brush (as one does) before running round the living room with the Hoover. The thing worked far better once I’d emptied it out…
I watched more “Trailer Park Boys” over a sandwich, then went to bed for the afternoon. For once the dogs didn’t bark incessantly at nothing, and I got a good three hours asleep.
Once I’d got the washing in I then updated the McAfee anti-virus thingy on my lap-top. That took some updating.
"er indoors TM" will be home soon. A spot of dinner, then I shall get the train to the night shift. I had hoped my car would be fixed by now. To be honest I never thought it would be ready; I just hoped it would be. Still, I’ve done that train trip twice this week already. I should be good at it by now…
Every night before I go to sleep I check my phone is not connected to the Internet. Mobile data off, wi-fi off. And still (somehow or other) it manages to randomly connect itself to the World Wide Wubbish. It did so at half past two last night and started shouting with notifications about all sorts of stuff. Why didn’t it leave me asleep?
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Trailer Park Boys” then had a look to see what my phone thought had been so urgent in the middle of the night. It turned out that there wasn’t much of note. There rarely is.
Mind you I did snigger when I saw one post on Facebook. Someone who used to live over the road from us was posting an ADHD awareness meme. She used to have the world’s worst-behaved brat who would periodically come over to play with "My Boy TM" when he was younger. When in his own home this brat would hang from the first-floor windowsills screaming, would sprint up and down the middle of the street… When he came to our house he was as good as gold because I told him we weren’t having any of his crap, and he respected that stance. He didn’t have ADHD at all; his mother had announced he had it as an excuse for not dealing with his bad behaviour. I used to see this when I was a cub leader; for every child that *really* did have ADHD, there was a dozen diagnosed by mothers who had ill-behaved brats.
With the car still in car-hospital I walked up the road to the railway station and was soon on the train to Barming. I found a copy of “The Metro” and occupied myself with the crossword. Half an hour passed rather uneventfully, and then a twenty-minute walk had me in work. I’d not been in at Maidstone for a couple of weeks; nothing much had changed. I did my bit, took a shortened lunch break, and skived off a few minutes early so I could get the earlier train.
The train home was marginally more exciting than the train to work. I found a discarded “Evening Standard” and had a go at its crossword. It was far trickier than that in “The Metro”. Did you know that a sabot is a wooden shoe? No? I didn’t either.
I must admit to having spent a few minutes watching a young mother giving her child a severe telling-off. The child’s crimes were the sort of things of which most children are guilty, but the mother was decidedly odd. She had exactly the same hair style as “Vir Coto” out of the sci-fi show Babylon 5. I wonder if she knew?
I arrived home at exactly the same time as "er indoors TM" and we walked the dogs round the park. It was a rather good evening for a walk. Usually Tuesday would see the clans gathering, but events conspired against that today, so we walked a little further than usual.
I wonder what’s for dinner…