8 December 2023 (Friday) - Late Shift

Apparently during the night I asked which dog had jumped off the bed. I have no memory of this, but one of them must have done so as there was a turd by the back door when I came down this morning. I suppose they’d tried to get outside?
I made toast and had a look at Facebook as I do. A friend (from years ago) was again off on another holiday in the sun. I would post about how can they afford it, but as has been pointed out to me, it is probably cheaper to have a week in a Spanish hotel than it is to turn on the heating in the UK…
As I peered into the Internet I heard some noises outside. The scaffolders had arrived to take the scaffolding down. I was pleasantly surprised at how the dogs didn’t kick off; I’ve been rather paranoid about their barking just recently.
As I put my boots on so “er indoors TM got the leads onto the dogs. The scaffolders held fire for a moment so we could get out. Almost directly outside our house was a car stupidly parked taking up two spaces which was clamped for not having paid road tax. That will be there for a week making parking more difficult…
We drove through the fog (and up out of the fog) to Kings Wood. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the poet Benjamin Zephaniah who had died. The chap had once been a guest editor on Radio Four and he’d run the show on that day only presenting good news. The chap was right to do so; I listen to the news most days and for all that wonderful stuff happens, it rarely gets reported.
We got to the woods and had a good walk. Twice we met forestry commission lorries driving in the woods, and both times the dogs came straight to me when called. We met other dogs and they were good.
The only fly in the ointment was I found myself comparing today’s trip with one we might do over the summer. Over the winter Orlestone Woods is a belly-deep swamp so we avoid it. But a trip to Orlestone, a walk, and the drive back takes just over an hour. Today’s round trip to Kings Wood was over an hour and a half, not including the time taken wash the mud off and then clean the bath out.
Bearing in mind I wouldn’t be home till quite late, I posted today’s instalment of the Advent Calendar story, and set off to the Repton centre to have a chat about Dog Club. A few months ago the chap who ran Dog Club couldn't make one session and wanted a volunteer to open up. I volunteered, and having given me the key the chap was in no hurry to take it back. And then he announced that his shifts had all changed and he couldn't make Dog Club any more. And somehow I now seem to be running the early sessions. Many years ago I found myself similarly embroiled in the snake club. A friend at the time made the observation "you can't just be a member, can you?"
He was right... then and now.
I drove on to work and did my bit. As I read my Kindle at tea break I saw a quote which made me smile. I do like my Kindle; I do read a lot. In the fifth book of the "Game of Thrones" series one of the characters says: "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads a book lives only one".
I like that.

7 December 2023 (Thursday) - Not On Leave

Usually when I need a tiddle in the night I just roll over and clench. I made the schoolboy error of getting up and going to a wazz at three o'clock last night, and came back to find the wolf pack all snoring in the warm spot I'd vacated. I eventually secured enough bed space in which to sleep, but sadly not enough in which to sleep comfortably.
I got up earlier than I might have done, and as I made toast so Morgan came down for a wazz. If only he'd come down when I'd come down a couple of hours earlier I might have managed to get a bit more of the bed.
I watched another episode of "White Gold". Being set in 1983 it brought back quite a few memories. All the girls had those perms, didn't they? And hooky videos. There were always market stalls and blokes on street corners selling incredibly badly copied VHS cassettes of whatever big movie was in the cinemas at the time. Funny how that never took off with DVDs to the same extent.
I then had a look at the Internet as I do. Quite a lot of the Lego Facebook pages were showing winter village scenes; perhaps I might turn my Lego town into a winter one? Perhaps I might do something with my Lego town - I've not done anything with it for ages.
I opened today’s window of the Advent Calendar and despite the torrential rain I set off to the car. It was where I'd left it three streets away. More and more I'm thinking I should spend a little more on house maintenance, sell the house and get one with off-street parking.
I had a quick Munz mission round Ashford; we achieved our first (of four) monthly goal today. And then I set off up the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were all a-twitter about how the Immigration minister Robert Jenrick has resigned. Regular readers of this drivel may recall my rant of only two days ago about the farcical state of Britain's immigration policy. Perhaps the ex-minister read my rant?
And there was a lot of talk about Boris Johnson's giving evidence to the COVID inquiry. If ever there was an idiot, it is him. Given the state of the UK after Brexit, and then a pandemic, no one would have expected the impossible from any Prime Minister. But had he combed his hair, tidied himself up a bit, and given a couple of uplifting rousing speeches, Boris Johnson could have gone down in history with Churchill. Instead he looked like a mess, and mumbled his way through a shambles which was much of his own making. And now history is judging him as the shambling mess that he was.
If ever anyone blew a golden opportunity…
I went in to Sainsbury's before work to stock up on some Christmas supplies. They've got this thing now where certain items are cheaper if you brandish your Nectar card. Doing so got me seven quid off of a bottle of port and ten quid off of a bottle of Bailey's. The price I paid at the till (using the nectar card) was a quarter less than I would have paid had I not had the card.
Just goes to show, doesn't it?
And so to work. Originally today was to be a day's leave, but what with a dodgy weather forecast and one thing and another I cancelled the leave... and soon wished I hadn't. I won't go into petty trivial details, but today was a classic example of the two hundred and eighty-fifth Rule of Acquisition.  No good deed ever goes unpunished.

6 December 2023 (Wednesday) - Another Cold Day

I had another rather good night, sleeping right through till five o'clock. I was pleased with that. However having woken at five o'clock, I was then awake. I got up, made toast and watched an episode of "White Gold" starring him who was Boycie's son (in "The Green Green Grass") as a golf-playing yuppie.
With telly watched I had a quick look at the Internet. My cousin was posting her Advent Calendar of Christmas memories as she does every year. So many memories of things we used to have and used to do all those years ago. Today she was talking about the brightly coloured fluorescent towelling socks of the early eighties.  Pink, green, yellow... I had them all. And would always wear odd pairs. However today (forty years later) I earned that you were supposed to wear them in matching pairs. Mismatched fluorescent towelling socks were only worn by "Ultra Spazzes".
One lives and learns.
I scraped the ice off of my car and set off to work.  As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the ongoing enquiry into the government's handling of the COVID pandemic. Today the ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to give evidence. Rather than going over his lies (all of which have long been exposed), the chap presenting the news asked if the enquiry has actually unearthed anything that hadn't already been covered on the news. It would seem it hadn't. There was then a little discussion about the whole point of the COVD enquiry. Was it to learn lessons from the mistakes which had (no matter how well-intentioned) been made, or to assign blame?
The general consensus was that there had been a lot of mistakes made, but was it fair to assign them to Boris Johnson. Bearing in mind the chap's general demeanour, had it been fair on him and on the country to have ever put him into a position of authority in the first place?
Democracy - can't beat it !!!
I got to the work's car park and despite a very cold morning I went for a little walk. A geocache I'd hidden not far from work had been reported as missing. It was, so I replaced it. And I needed to cap a QrewZee as part of this month's Munzee Clan War. So I did.
As I was walking I met a woman with a pair of pugs, and spent a couple of minutes fussing them. They made exactly the same squeaking-huffing noises that dear old Sid used to make. Poor old Sid - I miss him.
I would have walked a bit further, but it was cold. I went in to work and had a cuppa, then cracked on with the day. As I worked I pondered on what I'd got out of my Advent Calendar this morning. I had absolutely no idea what the thing was supposed to be; let alone know what to say about it.
Sadly during the mid-afternoon my musings were put on hold. We had sad news - a colleague's pet chicken (Henrietta) had died. She was four years old, which apparently isn't a bad age for a chicken.
I came home to find the roof work was all done. I really should climb up and have a look before the scaffolding goes… if only I wasn’t too old to go climbing up scaffolds.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we washed down with a bottle of plonk… you can’t beat a midweek bottle of plonk.

5 December 2023 (Tuesday) - Bit Dull

In a novel break with tradition I had a rather good kip last night. When I went up last night I took Morgan with me, and after he’d spent fifteen minutes running laps of the bed (under the duvet at top speed) he settled and went to sleep. I’d rather he charged about before I go to sleep rather than waking me up later.
I might try taking him up early again.
Over brekkie I started watching something new on Netflix. “White Gold” is a comedy set in 1983 following some Essex-based double glazing salesmen. So far it is quite entertaining.
I then had a look at Facebook, and saw something that made me think. An old friend of mine (from childhood days) was posting yet more photos from yet another exotic holiday destination. Someone had commented asking how he is always on holiday and never working. He pointed out that in his line of work he can work remotely, and that when you tot up the cost of renting a house in the UK and having a car and getting shopping and washing your socks, it is actually cheaper to go from one holiday hotel to another than to have a UK home.
Is it?
I don’t know, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?
I opened today’s window on the Advent Calendar, sent out some birthday wishes, then set off to work. I had a quick voom round Ashford Munzing then set off up the motorway.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the “infected blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s”. This whole subject boils my piss. The simple fact of the matter is that some people (quite a few!) did contract HIV from blood products imported from America. But the reason that blood came from America was that there weren’t enough UK based donors.
And as for “1970s and 1980s”… the first case of HIV in the UK was reported in 1981.
The implication is that health care professionals were negligent in not knowing the first thing about an unknown disease. It wasn’t that long ago that the public were on the doorstep clapping the NHS like things possessed. Now the knives are coming out…
But this is a rant I’ve done many times before, isn’t it?
While I’m ranting, I’ll have a little whinge about the UK’s immigration policy which was outlined on the radio today. Deliberate government policy is making it more and more difficult for immigrant workers to come to the UK; specifically those willing to do the jobs that Brits demonstrably won’t.
On the other hand those wanting to be fed and housed at the tax-payers’ expense are being welcomed with open arms.
Funny old world…
I got to work and did my bit. We had posh shortbread at tea time. And with my bit done I headed home. I came home to a message from the roofer. He’s hoping to get the roof finished tomorrow.
With the roof (nearly) done, I wonder what needs doing next? The house is old… does it need rewiring? That would be a messy job.
“er indoors TM boiled up some sausages for dinner which we devoured whilst watching the Christmas Lego Masters USA celebrity special. It was rather good, but I have no idea who the UK celebrities are in TV shows, let alone the American ones.

4 December 2023 (Monday) - Road Rage

I gave up trying to sleep and got up shortly after five o'clock this morning, made brekkie and watched another episode of "Green Eggs and Ham" which was sadly rather disappointing. I don't think I will bother with the rest of the series.
I had a little look at Facebook. Despite the torrential rain yesterday several people had been out getting real Christmas trees; perhaps the rain had been confined to a very small area down our road?
I opened today’s window on the Advent Calendar, and wondered what to do with today’s model. The wondering took up much of the day.
With time to spare I set off on a pre-work Munzee mission; Points of Interest, joysticks, jewels, crossbows... I capped them all before heading up a very busy motorway. As I drove I listened to the morning news. Sir Kier Starmer has again alienated himself from the rank and file Labour party supporter by singing the praises of Margaret Thatcher.  Love her or loathe her, there's no denying she sorted out a mess when she came to office... even if she did so by stomping over all the little people.
There was an interview with a Ukrainian soldier who claimed the war is going rather badly for them. Anyone who would have volunteered for the Ukrainian army would have done so long ago, and so the standard of recruit they are now getting is leaving quite a bit to be desired, or so it was claimed.
There was reports of an interview with a top American politician who was calling for Israel to ease back on their treatment of the Palestinians; the implication being that Israel is conducting itself in Gaza in such a way that America is fast having to defend the indefensible.
And the Ministry of Defence have got the arse having been told their spending plans are unaffordable. Personally I wouldn't have broadcast that on national radio to absolutely anyone who might be listening, but what do I know.
As I drove the traffic was getting heavier and heavier. I was wondering where it had all come from, and then I found out. There had been an accident on the run-up to junction six. I made the mistake of coming off at that junction...
As I went round the Running Horse roundabout I was nearly tail-ended twice by some chap in a red car who then followed me up Forstal Road (towards Aylesford) not five yards behind me. I pulled over at the first opportunity to let him pass when he dangerously flew in front of me (bashing his car up the kerb). He stormed out of his car, staggered up to my car and started shouting at me about how I had nearly crashed into him twice (even though I was in front of him). When I told him I had no idea what he was talking about he span around (nearly falling over), staggered back to his car and flew off at breakneck speed regardless of the traffic around him.
There are those who've said I should have reported this little road rage to the police. I can't help but think that bearing in mind that the police refused to act on video footage showing “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM's dad being knocked off of his moped and then run over, they aren't going to do anything at all about today's little unwitnessed altercation.
I carried on into Aylesford to the petrol station where the stuff was six pence a litre cheaper than the last time I'd got any, and then on into work. As I worked “er indoors TM messaged to say the roofer had blown it out today. I can't say I blame him for that. It can't be any fun being up on the roof in the rain, and at the moment the roof is (hopefully) waterproof. I really don't want him opening it up in a downpour.
With work worked I came home. As I do. “er indoors TM went bowling and I settled on the sofa with the dogs and watched the Bob Ross documentary on Netflix. There had been quite the squabble about the show on one of the Bob Ross Facebook groups I follow over the weekend. I can’t see what the argument was all about; from what I could work out (in between falling asleep; it was so tedious) what the late Bob Ross did on telly for many years was the work of a business partnership, and when Bob died his partners carried on taking the profit. As happens with business deals all over the world. It would have been nice for his son to have had a bung… but that wasn’t how the business had been arranged.
I really should have an early night…

3 December 2023 (Sunday) - Fed Up with Feeling Grim

I slept for nine hours last night, and “er indoors TM was up before me. that rarely happens; I must be poorly.
I eventually came downstairs with Morgan and Bailey to find “er indoors TM and Treacle already there. Sometimes this can be an issue; Treacle can get territorial and Bailey gets frightened and when “full” (like we all get overnight) we sometimes have little potty accidents. But this morning all was well.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. Being the start of the Munzee Clan War there was quite a bit of whinging from the rank and file Munzers that they hadn’t received Clan War invites… Even though they had. But isn’t this life in general? There are those who contribute (not that what I do for the Clan War is particularly arduous) and there are those who find fault. Amazingly many of those kicking off were the non-premium people. A “non-premium” Munzer is one who plays the free version of the game. I personally chose to play the premium version for which there is a charge of about fifty pence per week. These people begrudge fifty pence and then complain about what they are getting for free… I decided not to tell them to wind their necks in.
There were several photos on Facebook from the two works parties I missed last night.  I had said that when I finished my shift last night I would go to the works Christmas do in Maidstone, and I’d also said that I would go to the boss’s leaving party in Tunbridge Wells. I forgot about both and came home instead. It looks like I missed some good parties. Perhaps if I’d not been feeling quite so grim?
I also had an email from my local councillor. On 15 November I found a local footpath flooded (yet again). That path has been flooding for over thirty years, and the fix is very easy. I wrote to my local councillor and at the time I wrote here “I wonder if she will do anything”.  Well, she hasn’t. She’s suggested I write to the Environment Agency and sent me a link that doesn’t work.
I opened my Advent Calendar. Today I had a reindeer. Perhaps an easier thing to add to my little Advent adventure.
“er indoors TM set off to Folkestone to deliver Daddy’s Little Angel TM”’s Christmas Tree; for some inexplicable reason we had it in the spare room. And with “er indoors TM off for the morning I took the dogs out. Rather than going to the woods we had a little walk round the local roads. Being the start of Munzee Clan War I wanted to get two Qrates (as one does). I got them, and also ten per cent of the Clan’s total requirement for the month too. Go me!!
Once home I went straight into the garden to harvest the dog dung, and as I was in mid-harvest so the heavens opened. That was rather good timing.
“er indoors TM returned from Christmas Tree delivery duties, and set off to Maidstone. A few months ago we went to Prison Island and had a great time. There was a family outing planned for today. I insisted that “er indoors TM  went and enjoyed herself, but by the time they’d all driven to Maidstone, parked, done the Prison Island rooms and the golf and had dinner, it would have involved leaving the dogs for far too long. And I was still feeling rather grim; the two-mile dog walk of the morning had worn me out.
With the heavy rain continuing and feeling grotty I settled down with the dogs and spent the afternoon staring at the telly.
I watched the last part of “The Couple Next Door” which was rather good. I won’t give spoilers… unlike Facebook did today for last night’s episode of “Doctor Who”.
I watched “King of Thieves”; a film about a jewel heist starring Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent and quite a few other famous actors. I quite liked it as a lot of it featured places I’d been. I’m funny like that; I like seeing places that I’ve been on the telly.  
I watched “Bronson”; a film about the chap considered to be Britain’s most violent criminal.
I watched the last episode ever of “Only Fools and Horses
I watched the Christmas “Blackadder”.
Normally I’d go stir-crazy sitting on my chuff for so long, but apart from getting up once for a cuppa and for a few (quite a few!) coughing fits, I didn’t move all afternoon.
I suppose I feel a bit better than I did this morning, but I’m still all-in.

2 December 2023 (Saturday) - Late Shift

I slept better last night; the sniffle appears to have turned into a cough. I got up, and immediately opened my Advent Calendar. For all that I do like my little annual Advent story, and for all that I don’t think anyone is more amazed than I am at how the story progresses, I have certainly made a rod for my own back by not opening the windows in advance.
I looked at a little Lego signpost with something of a sense of dismay this morning… what could I possibly say about that? Eventually I had an idea.
I had a shave, made toast, and had a look at the Internet. It was still there. There had been heavy (for Kent) snow across the east of the county overnight. I turned off the lap-top and went to get ready for the morning somewhat earlier than usual.
I scraped the ice off of the car, and with “er indoors TM off out on a mission with her mates I got the dogs into the car and drove round to the Repton estate. We collected the money pot for Dog Club, then went on and opened up. Despite it being a cold morning there was quite a good turn out for Dog Club. Morgan and Bailey charged about having a great time. Treacle didn’t really join in, but I spent quite a bit of time playing “ball” with her which she seemed to enjoy. As we Dog Club-ed there was a load of messages flying here and there via WhatsApp about the organisation of Dog Club. It seems there’s issues about collecting the money pot at the end of the last session, and from here on it Dog Club will be going cashless.
From Dog Club we came home listening to Steve on the radio. The mystery year was some time in the late 1970s… and each clue made me think it was earlier and earlier. Eventually I plumped for 1977 and was right.
I put a load of washing in to scrub, and as the dogs snored I made a cuppa. Usually before a late shift I do so much that by the time I get to work I’m worn out. But what with this ongoing lurgy I wasn’t feeling on top form, so with Dog Club done, a quiet morning cuddling dogs suited me.
Eventually I had to go to work. As I drove up the motorway "Any Questions" was on the radio in which a panel of politicians, business people and the less simple-minded celebrities were asked their opinions on the questions of the day. Some aggressive feminist was up in arms because there weren't enough women at the COP28 climate talks; she was up in arms because there were any men there at all. Apparently climate change is entirely a man- (as opposed to woman-) made problem, as (so she claimed) are all the wars currently raging round the world and all the wars that have ever raged. Some chap came on and made the point that Britain has halved its carbon dioxide emissions since 1990. This was a red rag to a bull to this aggressive feminist. Had a woman delivered this announcement then it would have been heigh, ho, pip and dandy. But how dare a man say it?
There was then the question of who owned the Elgin marbles, Britain or Greece? Another woman on the panel gave the view of most of the UK; up until doing her research prior to coming on the radio she'd thought the Elgin marbles were a bag of toy marbles like those with which children play.
A Conservative politician then bemoaned how expensive houses were, despite their ridiculously high prices being a result of the market forces about which he was so enthusiastic.
Some people do talk utter rubbish on the radio...
I got to work and coughed a lot as did my bit. Mind you it has to be said that being too mean to turn the heating on, being at work this afternoon was much warmer than being at home had been this morning.
And with work worked I drove home through sub-zero temperature and fog. “er indoors TM had turned the heating on and had sorted out pizza which we scoffed whilst watching this evening’s episode of “Doctor Who”. It was watchable, but I’m wondering why they brought back David Tennant; I don’t see what he’s giving to the show that a new actor couldn’t.
I hope I feel a bit better tomorrow; I’m fed up with feeling grotty.