29 April 2012 (Sunday) - Fleabag Monkeyface

With my beloved out for most of the day hawking candles to an unsuspecting public I was expecting to be at a loose end today. The original plan was to go fossilling in Folkestone, but due to non-stop rain it had been decided to call the fossilling off.
Fortunately for me the first fruit of my loin took pity on me and took me under his wing. We set off in the Dan-mobile. First of all for fuel, then to the market for a mooch. Ongoing rain meant that the market had probably only a tenth of the stalls it would usually have. Which was a shame as I was hoping to look for cheap trousers. And then we went round to Argos for a curtain pole. We didn't have to wait that long for Argos to actually open up. And once equipped with the pole we went to the Fudgery where Cheryl boiled up some bacon baguettes (very tasty!) and we attached the curtain pole to the wall. There was a dodgy five minutes when we felt we needed a hacksaw, but the urge soon passed.
There was another dodgy five minutes when I found a nasty lump on Fudge's head. I was quite worried; but it transpired that the lump was actually dried gravy. And suitably relieved we adjourned upstairs where we failed to sort out the television aerial and we made slight adjustments to the laminate flooring. And having made slight adjustments to the laminate flooring we started again and did it properly.

Pausing only briefly to watch episodes of "Fleabag Monkeyface" and "Dave the Little Princess" on the telly we looked out of the window. Having cancelled fossilling because of the rain, the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. So for want of anything better to do, we drove up to Sheerness to have a look at the garden ornaments in Whelan's. Now he has a garden of his own, the first fruit of my loin is keen to do something with it. He started on a small scale with a couple of lions; but there is talk of going back with my car (with it's larger boot space) in a week or so.

Back to the Fudgery where we unloaded the ornaments and met up with my beloved who had finished touting candles. And after coffee we came home; scoffed, and collected the catalogues I'd touted out last Wednesday. A reasonable return of catalogues this time. As for orders - I haven't looked yet.

And as "er indoors TM" set off bowling I carried on with my preparation for Tuesday's interview. Here's hoping...

28 April 2012 (Saturday) - Still Raining

The weekly weigh-in. During the week I had a crafty go on the scales and my weight was down slightly. This morning it was up a tad. I'll split the difference and call it no change. Having said that... last night at astro club someone I've not seen for months commented on how thin I looked. I agreed - within reason. When I rub my hands together they feel bony. My knees and legs are a lot thinner than they ever where - this is very noticeable when I try to get to sleep at night. I have to arrange my legs so my knee bones don't rub and hurt. And my face and neck are becoming almost gaunt.
Mind you, my stomach is still quite immense, and my moobs are still gargantuan. Why is it the weight is coming off of the wrong places? Perhaps I need to do more (some) sit-ups.

And so to work. Where I spent an irritating five minutes in the car park trying to elucidate where a funny noise in my car was coming from; only to find it was in fact a distant fire alarm. I did my bit at work, and fully expecting to get away about 1pm, I got out six hours later than planned. Still, six hours overtime is good. Bearing in mind the torrential rain that fell all afternoon, I might as well have been at work as anywhere.
On reflection I should have maybe packed more lunch that one sandwich. I could have gone to the League of Fiends shop to get some more scoff, but in the New World Order of austerity I'm not going to line their pockets. Didn't I just say that I have a gut to shift?
And so home. Via Chris's house for the Saturday film night. It was on my way anyway. We started off with "Tower Heist". Noy a film I'd heard of before, but it was really good. And then "Hugo": a film I'd heard described as beautiful but was in fact crap. It just dragged on. And on. And on. Tediously. Mind you even if we do have the odd dodgy film I wouldn't miss the Saturday film night. I do llike watching a movie with a bunch of mates...

27 April 2012 (Friday) - Astro Club

It was always my understanding that emergency service vehicles weren’t supposed to use their klaxons before 7am. I was woken by a particularly noisy police car which came shouting its way past my house shortly before 6am. Regular readers of this drivel will realise how unusual it is for me to sleep that late, and will sympathise with my frustration.

I lay awake for an hour or so, then realising that lying in bed unable to sleep was just winding me up I got up. And having stuffed some brekkie down my neck I started work. The opportunity to work from home doesn’t come along very often, so when it does it’s something I welcome. I had some paperwork to sort, and spent the morning sorting it. Just as I was finishing the phone rang. One of the many and various agencies with which I have had dealings was on the phone. Did I remember such and such a job that we spoke about? Could I attend an interview next week?
There’s no denying that this news cheered me up somewhat.

I then spent a little while preparing for interview. Researching the company, preparing answers for what they will probably ask me, finding out where I need to go (Sevenoaks). And then I suddenly had a revelation. It was sunny outside, and had been all day. It’s been raining for weeks, and rain is forecast for the next week. So with a dry day I got outside and mowed the lawn. My compost bin is getting full – I really need to do a tip run to empty it. Unless any of my gardening loyal readers want a dustbin full of rotting lawn clippings.

With little else going on I spent an hour working on my novel. And conscious of the effect that Wednesday’s writing had on my fragile mood I wrote a (relatively) uplifting bit; the epilogue. I’m quite pleased with it; but bearing in mind that this is only the first draft of the epilogue I expect it will change quite a bit.

And being the last Friday of the month, tonight was astro club. A wonderful evening. At one point I counted over sixty people, and more came after that. We started the evening with an update on the Kepler probe, then had a talk from one of the younger members on his home-made planetarium projector. The main feature of the evening was a fascinating wander round the various Messier objects that can be seen with even a pair of binoculars. And after I got very noisy hawking the raffle, we had a stellarium show of what we might see in the night sky if we lived further south. I learned loads, and spent truly quality time with many great friends.

And then home to count the takings. Because that’s what treasurers of astro clubs do. I always have a wry smile when counting the takings. One of our number is really generous and always puts a fiver in the tea money. As Treasurer I'd really like to thank whoever it is for this, but I would really like to ask whoever it is that they give the note to one of the people on duty in the kitchen rather than putting it into the money box - it is *really* tricky to get paper money out of the box without ripping it. It took me over ten minutes to tease the fiver out.
We do have a generous bunch at the asto club. Tomorrow we shall be banking over two hundred pounds from tonight's meeting. It's everyone's continued generosity which keeps the club going. We have (and are!) a great group. And I'm proud to be part of it...

26 April 2012 (Thursday) - Dull

When I decided to keep a proper regular diary two thousand and sixty four days ago I decided that I would blog daily. And every day for the last two thousand and sixty four days I have recorded history as I've seen it. Either a record of my day, or my reflections on current events of the day. Some days, like yesterday, were quite eventful. Other days, like today, are not so. I got up, went to work, and came home again. Dull...

Mind you, whilst at work I heard something which amazed me. A colleague needs to travel from Dover to Liverpool and back the next day. The journey costs over two hundred quid. But if he buys a return from Dover to London, and a return from London to Liverpool he saves over fifty quid. How does that work?

Once home I watched a TV show about Frankie Howerd. I never knew he wore a wig. Looking at photos of him I suppose it's rather obvious.

Dull, so dull....

25 April 2012 (Wednesday) - Whilst it Rained

When I came home last night I put the telly on. And fell asleep in front of it several times. I went to bed, and after a couple of hours sleep I lay awake dozing fitfully. I'm getting really fed up with this. I can't help myself but sleep when I have better things to do, and when I should be sleeping, I can't. I've been to the doctor who was rather unhelpful. Enough is enough - I shall do some research on the Internet to see if I can't find a cure.

I got up this morning with all sorts of things planned. Only to find that on day twenty-five of an official drought we still have torrential rain. In fact with a month's worth of rain having fallen today, this has been the wettest day of the year (so far).

I started off with an appointment with the counsellor. Since things went west for me last year it was suggested that I had time with a counsellor. To be honest I'm not entirely sure what I'm expected to achieve in these sessions. There is no point whinging about what might have been; I felt I was coming to terms with my reduced circumstances until this counsellor started depressing me. Today was my third appointment and it started off with her asking me how I was. I told her. I quite enjoy my life even though things could be better. The problem I have is that I don't like my work. Or, to be fair, it's not that I don't like it but it doesn't challenge me. I could do so much more. (Is this the reason why I blog, paint, write, organise social events...) The fact that I am finding it difficult to change jobs probably isn't helping either.
The counsellor lady seemed pleased that I had summarised my problem so succinctly, and seemed surprised that I had effectively summarised in five minutes what she had been planning to string out for an hour. We mutually decided to stop at that point, and I've agreed to get back in touch with her if I need any more counselling. I may go back, but I doubt it. To be honest I'm a practical sort of bloke, and counselling was a bit too airy-fairy for my liking.

I then popped next door to the framing shop and dropped off a couple of paintings. The chap in the shop said he'd try to flog them for me. Here's hoping. I then went home where I had a phone call. An employment agency had a possible job for me and asked me to send them my latest C.V. I wonder if anything will come of this job? I'd like to think so.

Mid-day, and with a break in the rain I went out and delivered some catalogues to an unsuspecting public. One of the punters told me that the Betterware people had been round only the other day. Oh well - such is life. It would be good to be able to co-ordinate with others who do this sort of thing, but I suppose that would go against the whole idea of free enterprise.

Home again, and talking of free enterprise the door bell rang. A young lad wanted to give me a brochure from his company, and could he make an appointment for a no-obligation quote for insulating the double glazing? I rather thought that the whole idea of double glazing was that it was insulation itself, but I agreed they could come back in a couple of days. And fifteen minutes later they phoned back to confirm the appointment and to make sure that both me and my beloved would be home. I asked why they needed both of us to receive a quote and I eventually wheedled the truth: they wanted us both home to sign up to their quote there and then.
They were quite rude when they realised that I'd rumbled them.

And on an otherwise dull afternoon I spent some time working on a small part of my ongoing novel. There is a section in which the heroine / victim / culprit / old trout (depending on your perspective) has a bit of a black mood. And thinking of her black mood rather upset my own. I must watch out for that in future. But having realised the cause of my depression I wrote a rather uplifting bit about two people, one based on me, and one based on many people I've met. That cheered me up. It's very odd how writing can affect my mood. And not wanting to warp my fragile little mind any more I then stopped writing and did some editing.
So far this novel is over ten thousand words long and is (sort of) following the plan I devised. I still have eight major scenes to write, and countless minor bits to add in between the major plot elements. I need to add quite a few more minor characters, and I'm not entirely happy with the names of the characters I have. Naming characters in my novel is rather akin to naming children: no matter what name you come up with you can usually find you know someone you don't like who has that name. I'm not naming my characters after people I don't like.

And then to arky-ologee club. I'd been looking forward to tonight's talk. The speaker in the past had given wonderful talks on the private lives of Nelson, William IV and the children of George IV. Tonight's talk on Georgian England promised to be enthralling. And it was. But the evening was also rather worrying. All through the talk the speaker was visibly shaking. She dropped her spectacles twice. I was expecting her to either have a fit, collapse or drop dead at any moment. Fortunately she lasted the evening, but I must admit I'm waiting for the message from arky-ologee HQ to tell us that Ada has pegged out...

24 April 2012 (Tuesday) - The News

This morning I downloaded my emails. I do this most morning. First of all I use a mailwasher program that has a look-see at what's in my mailbox on the server. And then under my direction it dings out the spam, and then I used Windows Live to download what I actually want. Or that's the theory. Windows Live downloads some emails, but not all of them. I can see from what's left behind on the server that it's done that. there is one email that I catually want from one of the agencies that has been there since early February that Windows Live won't touch. Simularly it doesn't like any Facebook notifications.
This was never a problem until last summer whan I upgraded to Windowns 7. And now that I see that Windows 8 is about to be launched. I can't help but feel that rather than rushing out whole new operating systems, Microsoft might be better advised to iron the bugs out of what's already there. But what do I know?

Meanwhile I had a wry smile at the news. Apparently those with considerably more money than is good for anyone to possess have come up with a plan to make even more wonga. They are going to send automated mining ships into space - specifically to asteroids rich in minerals. And then fetch those resources back to Earth at tremendous profit. The bleeding hearts and looney lefties are up in arms over the idea, but since NASA pulled out of doing space exploration themselves (preferring to contract the hard work to others) can anyone really be surprised at this development?

23 April 2012 (Monday) - St George's Day

It now seems an eternity ago, but it was only four days since I went to the theatre. Avenue Q was a wonderful show - a very adult version of Sesame Street. Over the last few days I've lost count of the people who were rather miffed to find that they'd missed a treat, thinking it was a children's show. A colleague who went to the Saturday showing told me about her experiences at the theatre. As she took her seat she was amazed by the amount of children in the audience. And within fifteen minutes of the start of the show all of the children had been marched out by their very indignant parents.
This raises two questions in my mind. First of all don't parents do any research to find out what they are letting their children in for? And secondly don't the theatre have any kind of obligation not to let kiddies in to what is clearly not a children's show?

Talking of children, the most recent fruit of my loin phoned today. Having been rear-ended a few weeks ago her neck has been giving her gyp. She phoned NHS direct today which achieved little but to upset her. My suggestion, for what it was worth, was that she should speak to her G.P. The G.P., quick to pass responsibility suggested she should bypass him altogether and go for an X-ray. And after an hour's waiting I'm told she gave up with the hospital.  In days gone by I might have defended the NHS, but in the New World Order I shall help her draft her formal complaint.

Meanwhile today is Saint George's day. In years gone by we would have taken the cubs and the scouts out and have done something special to celebrate over the weekend that's just gone. And it transpires that thousands of scouts all over the country did just that yesterday. As for me - I've done nothing to celebrate the national day. And in all honesty neither have pretty much most of the population. Perhaps I should have done something. I wonder what...

22 April 2012 (Sunday) - Folkestone

As we walked home last night I couldn't help but admire the beauty of the night sky. No clouds, and a wonderful view of the stars. And I had a but of a giggle at the misfortunes of others.
A small contingent of the astro club have gone to the Kelling Heath star party. They went up on last Thursday, travelled hundreds of miles to join hundreds of other stargazers who have gathered from around the country. And for three consecutive nights there has been complete cloud cover at Kelling Heath. Last night we spent an enjoyable few hours exchanging messages via texts and Facebook telling them what a wonderful sky we had here at home, whilst they sent messages back telling us of the torrential rain they had.

Over a spot of brekkie I fiddled with the blog settings - specifically those to do with adding comments. In the past I've had the thing set to make it rather laborious to add comments. I've mucked about to make it easier for people to comment on my rantings and ramblings. So, loyal readers, feel free to comment away to your heart's content by clicking on the word "comments" below.
Mind you if I start getting bombarded by spam I'll set the thing back how it once was.

And so to Folkestone. To the Admiralty first. We'd heard reports that the place was falling down. It wasn't. The plaster had blown in one of the rooms; fixing that will make a blog entry in a few weeks' time. And the flashing on the roof needs a bit of attention. If any of my loyal readers have a ladder and the means of getting said ladder to Folkestone, please do let me know.
We then walked into Folkestone for a spot of shopping. A week or so ago I commented about all the empty shops in Ashford town centre. Folkestone is much the same, So many shops have closed down. Whilst in the area I thought I'd see if there was anything I wanted in WH Smiths; I have a gift voucher for them. I searched: I could find nothing at all that I wanted. If any of my loyal readers want to make a purchase from WH Smiths, please give me the cash and use my voucher.

To Argos for a replacement toilet seat for the Admiralty; then back to that august maritime establishment for a spot of lunch. And whilst the assembled throng watched all manner of programme on the TV, I slept. I hate that. Everyone else can sleep at night when I am laying awake. And when everyone else is together and doing stuff, I am snoring.
Whilst in Folkestone we visited the Hoseys who would seem to be recovering from chickenpox, and then home. I depressed myself by doing the monthly accounts, then had tea. Beef stew from the slow cooker. Very tasty(!)
And as my beloved went off bowling I realised that a recent rain shower had put paid to my plans to mow the lawn, so I settled in front of the telly and whilst drivel about Tommy Cooper and Frank Wild played I wrote a thousand more words of my novel....

21 April 2012 (Saturday) - Bikes and a Birthday

Having fallen asleep in front of the telly last night I woke with a stiff neck and a headache at 1.30am. A few hours sleep, and I was busting for a tiddle. How is that possible? Whilst out of my pit at silly o'clock I did the weekly weigh-in. No change this week. Still, no change is better than weight gain.
I went back to my pit and lay fitfully for a couple of hours. I was disturbed by a hammering on the door, and wend downstairs to find it was next door that had the visitor. And after another half hour wasted trying to sleep the phone rang. Someone was trying to sell me a legally binding will. I have a will - it's on this blog (see the link above). I told the bloke on the phone that I'd written my own will. He said that most home-written wills fail probate. I shall phone the probate office and find out why.

I wrote another chapter of my novel, and then the first fruit of my loin arrived with Fudge in tow. Or, more accurately, with Fudge towing him. We exchanged a few insults then all set off on our bikes round to collect the girls. Six of us then went for a bike ride. Not a particularly adventurous one this time, as Lacey is only five years old, and has a rather novel way of cycling. She can only cycle in straight lines, and can only stop by crashing into things. But notwithstanding the idiosyncrasies of her chosen method of cycling we made our way to the play park at Great Chart where one small girl and three rather large boys had great fun on the climbing frames. And then we got on our bikes and made our way to Viccy Park where we played on the zip lines until it started raining. The weather this morning had been glorious; and suddenly the rain was torrential. So we beat a hasty retreat home. There was dodgy five minutes when Lacey misjudged a corner and rebounded off of a tree. We had tears - shock more than anything else. And then back to the girls' place where we were treated to lunch. I do love a cheese baguette, and we mucked about for an hour or so until the rain eased off.

Home again - and back out again to collect the catalogues I'd delivered on Thursday. That didn't take long, but with the weather being decidedly changeable we came home. It looked really sunny outside so I thought about mowing the lawn. Then the hailstones came down with a vengeance, so I stayed in and worked on my novel. With seven and a half thousand words written I've stopped myself and I've now gone right back to the start and written a plan for the thing. It still needs a title, but one will come later I expect. These sorts of things usually do.

And after an hour playing "Angry Birds" the Bat arrived and we set off to Yeung's for a birthday meal. The Folkestonians were already there, and taking our seats with "The Man with no Alias" (patent pending) we had a wonderful time. However there is a problem with an "all you can eat" buffet - I can eat up to half an hour after the point at which I should have stopped, which makes for quite a spectacular guts ache. And having set off such a guts ache we went round to the birthday boy's house for a cuppa, and chatted into the early hours....

20 April 2012 (Friday) - Dull

I spent a large part of last night farting like a thing possessed. I do hope it wasn't the meal at Nando's: Nando's has now overtaken MacDonalds in my favourite place to eat out. It would be a shame if every visit was synonymous with a night ot "Trumpet Involuntary". Mind you if that is the way it is to be, then so be it.

I got up this morning; did my usual morning round, set off to work, did my thing. I spent an awful lot of time playing with Westgard rules today. It sounds like a slogan you might read emblazoned on the railway arches "Westgard Rules - OK". But it isn't, and he doesn't. And then I came home again. How easy it is to gloss over fourteen hours.

Once home I popped to next door to collect a parcel, and then spent fifteen minutes cleaning up the mess that the house had been left in, and then over a rather tasty bit of gammon we watched an episode of "Grimm". It's a good series, even though it doesn't actually seem to be going anywhere.
Next on the list of TV programs to catch up on was "Alcatraz", and I slept though it very well.
Here's a sign of the times. A French firm is suing Google.They aren't happy that Google Maps are free; they would rather have the general public pay for their maps, rather than get Google Maps for nothing.
Personally I'd rather get Google Maps for free. Or that is I'd rather get Google Maps for free all the time I'm not expecting to get any profit from the opposition. It suddenly occurs to me that my rabid support for free ebooks may well find itself evaporating when my novel reaches the point at which I might hope to get cash for it. Not that this will happen any time soon...

I'd been looking forward to yesterday's theatre outing for months. Today was something of an anti-climax.

19 April 2012 (Thursday) - An Evening in Canterbury

Apologies to my loyal readers who read this drivel over their brekkie and were disappointed yesterday morning to find no blog entry. I usually post blog entries in the late evening, but I fell asleep in front of the telly the night before and woke up far too late (with a headache) and went to bed with a rotten headache. In the process forgetting to post my blog entry.
I woke this morning with that same headache to find the first fruit of my loin in residence. We exchanged pleasantries, and i was about to do my own thing when I slowly became conscious that he was expecting something of me. I'd completely forgotten that I'd asked him to come round to help me with (do for me) some heavy lifting in the garden. The original plan from a year or so ago would have made today's efforts redundant. I had planned to replace the pond filter with a self-cleaning one. But in this new age of austerity, self cleaning pond filters are but a pipe dream. Which is a shame.
I could have managed on my own, really. If I had to. But it was the sort of job that I could do on my own in an hour, or in five minutes with some help. It took us about three minutes to get the pond sorted. And once the ambient temperature improves I shall turn the pond back on.

 I spent a little while doing on-line surveys. My political views and my opinions on insurance advertising were sought. The doorbell rang. Some normal people had come about the scooter. I wondered what scooter. So did they. Clearly they'd come to the wrong house. I then wrote another thousand words of my novel, including three deaths. I was quite pleased with the death scene; even if it was a bit of a blood-bath. I think it's the only one I'm going to have. But if any of the characters piss me off, then they will be brown bread. Writing, like painting, gives you a world over which you have absolute power.

We then went out delivering catalogues to the masses. The idea is simple. I stick the catalogue through the door. The punter is amazed at the bargains (top quality at low prices). They fill out their order form and leave it and the catalogue on the doorstep for me to collect a day or so later. My loyal readers can get the bargains on-line by clicking on the link labelled "Stuff for Sale" above.
Some people don't like having things put through their letterboxes and have signs up asking for no junk mail or circulars. When I see such a sign I respect it and don't deliver a catalogue to that house. Today I found a house which had taken it's prejudice against junk mail to the extreme. The letter box was sealed, was absolutely gummed up shut and un-openable through the judicious application of several miles of sellotape.
 I'd never seen so much sellotape. Whoever lived in that house was determined that nothing would ever get through that letterbox.

Home for a spot of lunch.  As luck would have it we got home just minutes before the rain started. Again plans for stuff to do in the garden were put on hold. I sparked up my lap-top and sat in front of the telly. If nothing else it was a chance to get stuff watched from the Sky-Plus box. Talking of which the Sky-Plus box packed up half way through an episode of Time Team. It just stopped working. Pulling the plug and re-booting the device got it working again. Let's hope the thing isn't on the way out.

And so to Canterbury. Six of us found our way to Nando's for a spot of tea. Very nice. I'd been told my work's I.D. badge was good for twenty per cent off of the bill. I was - sort of. It was good for twenty per cent of off my bill. My bill. For me. Not for anyone else in the party. I thought that was a tad misleading, but it was better than a poke up the bum; and Nando's is good scoff, so I can't complain really.
We popped into the lady Luck for a swift half, and then we went round to the Marlowe theatre where we met up with the rest of our party. Over a dozen of us sat down to watch one of my favourite musicals - Avenue Q.
This was the third time I've seen the show, and it was excellent. I can't wait to go again...

18 April 2012 (Wednesday) - More Writing

I got some email replies to some of the job applications I made yesterday. Interestingly there was a common theme in the rejections: companies wanted a specific trait in their candidates. They all wanted someone who was already working for one of their competitors. I suppose that’s a sign of the times, really.

I also got some petrol today as well. They certainly aren't giving that stuff away these days; it's over £1.40 per litre. And it's not cheaper in Canterbury any more. Once upon a time it was five pence per litre cheaper over here. No more. Mind you, since I had the car serviced I now get an extra forty miles from a full tank. That's a bonus journey each time I fill up. I shall be grateful for small mercies.

 This evening I got another thousand words done on my novel. Following an informal chat with a published author who has mentioned me in acknowledgements in one of his novels, (not that I’m showing off or anything!), I’ve decided that I actually need to devise a formal plan for this novel.

So far I’ve started at the beginning and worked forward. And then today gone before the beginning with a bit of a pre-amble. And the next bit will be a pre-pre-amble set in Roman times (I think). A formal plan is a must. A novel needs a start, a middle, and end and a plot. And some characters. On reflection I need more characters. The ones I have so far are based mostly on me, except one which is based on a very rare kind of person: someone I dislike. There aren’t many of those in this world really. I might just put one or two people that I know into the novel; if only to see if people recognise themselves when (and if) they read my magnum opus. Or magnificent octopus, depending on your perspective.

17 April 2012 (Tuesday) - Whilst it Rained

I had an interview (over Skype) with an employment agency this morning. They felt that one of the shortcomings on my C.V. was my lack of sales experience. I mentioned about selling oil paintings on line, and flogging cleaning stuff, and unloading all manner of tat to the astro club. The employment agency remained unconvinced - they felt that there was more to selling something than producing the advertising. This confused me, and I asked what they were talking about. We then had a very confused conversation. At the end it transpired that I was using the phrase "commercial skills" to mean selling stuff, and they were reading the phrase "commercial skills" to mean making adverts. Perhaps yet another re-write of my C.V. might be in order.

I had loads planned for the rest of the morning. A lawn to mow, a pond to overhaul, a yard to tidy, a bike shed to rebuild, a load of catalogues to deliver. But the rain started hammering down and so all plans were off. The other day I'd bought the makings of some beer for an upcoming camp, so I started the beer going. But that was all that I had planned for the day.
With nothing else on the agenda for today I re-wrote that C.V. and put the revised version onto several agencies' web sites I wasted the rest of the morning applying for dozens more jobs that I (realistically) will never hear back from. If any of my loyal readers know of any job opportunities, please don't hesitate to let me know: I'm interested in absolutely anything.

Over the course of the morning both fruits of my loin came visiting. The first fruit came home - he'd been up to the school as littlun had been in a minor accident, which turned out to be a load of fuss over nothing, but was a cause for worry at the time. And then the most recent fruit came home for want of any better offer (as far as I could determine). Sid was with her, and he spent the day farting. Much as I love that dog, he does stink. If ever a dog needed charcoal biscuits, it's that one.

To pass the time I ironed a load of shirts, and then spent a large part of the afternoon on the phone. I had four different people who could barely speak English phone me on the pretext of conducting consumer research only to try to sell me things. Having revised my C.V. yet again and put it on the Internet I'd asked one of the agencies for a "free and impartial evaluation" of that C.V.. The trouble with evaluations of C.V.s is that everyone has a different opinion. I was told that my latest C.V. is inconsistent and not pitched at the right level. Whatever that means. When I asked what that meant I was offered the opportunity of having the thing professionally written  for a bargain price of two hundred quid(!) I was somewhat reticent about that idea, and as a sweetener the nice lady kept on about how for that two hundred quid I would have a consultation which would "help me discover my transferable skills and evidence them". If any of my loyal readers know where any of my discoverable skills might be lurking, could they return them; preferably together with a note of evidence.
And then one of the agencies phoned with a possible vacancy that might suit me. From the way the nice lady spoke, I somehow doubt it, but hope springs eternal. And then I got a rather aggressive phone call from a double glazing firm who'd picked up my C.V. from the Internet and seemed quite angry that I wasn't available immediately to sell windows for them.
In between phone calls I got on with the novel I'm writing. It's now over three thousand words long. Still lacking quite a bit in the plot department, but it's slowly getting somewhere. I'm not quite sure where, but it's getting somewhere.

By the time the phone stopped ringing it was gone 5pm. the rain had stopped, but any urge to go out and to get on with the day's original plans had long since subsided. So I watched Harry Enfield on the telly with the most recent fruit of my loin whilst Sid scattered his food all over the kitchen floor.  And the most recent fruit then went off on her mission, leaving me dog-sitting. My beloved phoned with instructions for my to start boiling up some dinner, so I boiled up dinner. And as my beloved came home so we scoffed our dinner. And Sid slept. It was quite nice having dinner with a dog present without the dog constantly scrounging.

Being Tuesday the clans gathered - tonight at the Chrisery for another episode of "Being Human". I do like that show...

16 April 2012 (Monday) - Stuff

I took a fresh a box of cereal out of the cupboard for brekkie this morning. The box was huge; at first sight I thought that it would last a while. I opened the box and realised the truth. Whilst the box was over half full, it was certainly less than two thirds full because either the cereal had settled in transit, or the packaging was designed to make you think you were getting more for your money. Admittedly the box had the content's weight written on it, but when I opened the box to find it was nowhere near full, I did feel somewhat short-changed.
And so to work; after I'd scraped the ice off of the car. It's now mid April and still we are having frosts. Yesterday I bought a replacement ultra-violet light for the fish pond filter, but with the nights still being so cold I am rather loathe to turn the pond filter back on. But I will have to do so before too much longer.

Today at work we had a great idea to save the government money and to reduce the national debt. A radical review of health provision in the UK; anyone requiring the services of the NHS from now on will be issued with a plaster. If their malady can be treated with a plaster, then they survive. If they are so unwell that their recovery is dependent on more than a plaster then they can go private.
The NHS is thus saved expense, and the nation's books are out of the red. So far I have not found anyone who can argue with the fiscal logic behind this plan.
Admittedly on an ethical basis it sucks fish, but in these austere days one can't have everything. Or anything more than a sticking plaster in the New World Order.

Meanwhile back in reality I got given my shifts for the next few weeks, and realised that I might need to change some plans I'd made for the next few weekends. It's not really a problem: there's nothing in my diary that I couldn't change easily enough. If any of my loyal readers were planning to walk with me from Appledore to the Isle of Oxney, or couldn't because the date was inconvenient, it might be worth checking the date again. I've changed it.

As some of us celebrate (if that is the right word) the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, it's perhaps a sad indictment of our society that quite a few people don't realise that the Titanic was a real ship. A sizeable minority thinks that the whole Titanic story was something made up for the Hollywood film.
In the same way, quite a few people thought that the Apollo 13 film was rubbish because in real life the astronauts would never have survived what happened.

Surely it speaks volumes about our society that people cannot tell fact from fiction.

15 April 2012 (Sunday) - Visiting Relatives

For no reason that I could determine, the womenfolk of the family had decided to go visiting family in Hastings today. With nothing else to do, I'd said I'd go along with them. So after checking the Internet to see what was new in the world over a spot of brekky, we set off. Or that is we set off once the most recent  fruit of my loin told me to put some pants on.

First of all to Westfield to visit my father-in-law. He's been incredibly supportive of my oil painting venture just lately, and we had a good chat. One or two ideas for subjects for future paintings, and he's suggested I might have a word with a local restaurant or hotel about exhibiting my paintings with them. The only problem is that I can't think of anywhere locally which might be interested.
If any of my loyal readers have any suggestions, I'd be all ears.

And then on to my brother's house. We found him outside painting it. Regular readers of this drivel may recall my whinging about the price of beer last week. My brother told me that the pub just up the road from him charges five pounds for a pint of lager. Five pounds!! And then my brother recited a list of pubs in the area which have closed down. At a fiver a pint, it's hardly surprising.
We stayed a while, Sid and Razzle (my dog-niece) either played nicely or fought; opinion was divided on what was happening. We exchanged insults and plans, and all too soon it was time to move on. I was conscious of forever chivvying the girls today; but with a list of places to be and a deadline, someone had to chivvy them.

To my brother-in-law's, where the most recent fruit of my loin obtained her second free phone of the day. She seemed to be collecting phones for no adequately explored reason. The out-laws are planning to go to an organised camping site in a few weeks' time. At nearly fifty quid a night I thought they were paying over the odds, but I suppose that is the going rate.

And then on to see my mum. Dad wasn't in: he was down the beach. He loves that fishing club. Mum was pleased to see us, and wasn't in the least put out when Sid's fart gassed the house out. That dog seriously needs some charcoal biscuits.

We said our goodbyes; four visits in four hours was (I thought) quite good going. And we set off to Folkestone to deliver the most recent fruit of my loin to its lair. I disagreed with the sat-nav on the way home and we went via Camber rather than via Brenzett. Looking at Google maps I'm not sure that I was right to have done this, but it made for a more scenic route for those of us who stayed awake to appreciate the scenery.
We got to the Admiralty, had a tiddle, and promptly set off again. Time was pressing. We gathered in some of the catalogues we didn't get yesterday. Today I banged on doors to ask for catalogues back. At seventy five pence a throw they are too pricey to write off. We got back more than I was expecting that way.

And then home. Whilst my beloved boiled up some scran I sat in front of the telly checking out the Internet on my lap-top. There was a huge crash at the front door, and the living room door burst open. Fudge stood in the doorway. He looked at me and I looked at him. After a few seconds I said hello to him, and he leapt over the lap-top full into my face. The first fruit of my loin followed Fudge into the room. They'd been to "Pets at Home" and had spoken with the resident vet. Fudge is to have his "boy bits" removed. We are reliably assured that this will be a relief for all concerned. Except for Fudge himself, I expect....

14 April 2012 (Saturday) - Aldington, Twilight

I have a theory about insomnia. If I need to be up early, I don't sleep well. With no reason to be up with the lark I was expecting a good night's sleep. I had a terrible night. The reason - I could be wrong, but I blame the demon drink. We had a bottle of Chateau eu de Chat with tea last night. Two glasses of the stuff and I felt wrecked when I went to bed. I woke after four hours sleep feeling physically knacked and lay awake feeling grotty till 8am. I have mentioned that I am considering giving up the drink. As well as the ever-spiralling cost which I resent paying, the day after hurts too much.

The weekly weigh-in: another pound lost. Since I started taking note of what I've been shovelling down my gullet I've lost four and a half stone in weight. I am quite literally only three quarters of the man I once was. Is this the legacy of having cut out the drink?

A quick spot of brekky, a quick zoom to Beaver Lane to collect Fudge, and then back home to meet the Bat. And then, pausing only briefly at the bookies to back a horse that would lose the Grand National, we set off to Aldington. Last year me and my beloved took a stroll round the countryside round Aldington on a route suggested by our AA walking guide. It was a good walk, and we always intended to do the walk again. Today fifteen of us (and four dogs) met at Aldington village hall and set off on the walk. For a large part we followed the Saxon Shore Way. Up hills and down dales; across fields and footpaths, along lanes and bridleways. Picnic-ing in  the sunshine. The scenery was wonderful, the company excellent. We were out for nearly three hours - and as always there are photos of the outing on Facebook.

I can see from the Internet that on that walk I burned off (about) six hundred calories. Back in the bad old days, having the walk finish at a pub would have seen me going into that pub. And as well as having stodge and chips, I would have had three pints of ale. And those three pints would contain (about) six hundred calories. Clearly this is where I've gone wrong in the past. For all that I've been physically active, I unwittingly counteracted any benefits of exercise with the beer. Not any more (!)

We then took Fudge home, and collected the catalogues that I posted on Thursday. And home where I slobbed in front of the with the most recent fruit of my loin. Whilst I posted photos onto Facebook we watched episodes of South Park. Quality !!!

And then to Lidl's to stock up with essentials before the Saturday night film-a-thon. Tonight we watched two of the Twilight films. Watch-able enough, I suppose. The trouble with the Twilight films is that once you've seen one, you've seen the lot. No real plot, just soppy nonsense featuring some bimbo which can't decide whether to pork a vampire or a werewolf. It's an interesting enough premise, but stretching the idea over five films is thrashing the idea somewhat...

13 April 2012 (Friday) - Mixed Messages

You have to admire the sensationalism of the press. Take this headline in today's news - "Do night shifts really give you diabetes?" The implication from that headline is clear. The implication is that working night shifts is really bad for you. The article starts off with some quite serious scaremongering, and then gets a bit wordy, then goes on some more, and then, quite a way after everyone has given up and gone off elsewhere on the Internet, the article ends with saying "However, given the highly controlled nature of this study, we cannot confidently say whether these results would occur in everyday life". So clearly night shifts don't give you diabetes, but the possibility of it makes for a good news story. I'd expect more from an NHS website. 

And in other news, whilst leading scientists warn that no more coal powered power stations should be built in Scotland (or anywhere) because of all the carbon emissions, protesters are up in arms about wind power.

Meanwhile spare a thought for those of my loyal readers who've come home from Spain with chickenpox.... We're not gloating very much...

12 April 2012 (Thursday) - Stuff

With a day to myself I could probably have done more with it. A spot of brekkie whilst the washing machine did it's thing, and then once I'd hung out the washing (leaving Sid and the most fruit of my loin in residence) I set off on a catalogue drop. I had planned to mow the lawn, but it was still rather damp: I thought I might mow it later.
Unloading catalogues  to the punters didn't take long, and so once back home I did my weekly search round employment agencies web sites. I probably applied for about two dozen jobs. Will anything come of it? Possibly: I got one personalised email back from an agency, and two phone calls from others. Here's hoping. By the time I'd been through all the employment agencies in my list my stomach was rumbling: it was gone 1pm.

A sandwich and an apple and I settled down in front of the telly. Over the weekend I'd borrowed a DVD compilation of old episodes of "The  Goodies", and I watched the giant kitten, the beanstalk, the crown jewels. I'd been warned that the episodes probably weren't going to be as good as I'd remembered them, but I was pleasantly surprised by the antics of  Tim, Graham and Bill. I had planned to mow the lawn, but a sudden downpour and thunderstorm put paid to that plan. Which was a shame, really. Instead I slept through episodes of Star Trek on the Sky Atlantic channel. A shame there are so many adverts; but you can't have everything.
Once I woke I activated  my lap-top and did a few on-line surveys; one of which was about writing a will. Did I think wills  were important? Should everyone have one? As the survey went on so I realised I was being somewhat hypocritical. I hadn't got a will.... Well; we drew one up years ago. It's now very much out of date, and lost as well. So I've stuck a will here. There's a link to it above. I've done a bit of research and I think that what I've done is as legally binding a will as any I would pay someone else to produce for me.
It's  quite simple, and being on-line here means it can't get lost and I don't have to  pay banks and solicitors to look after it for me. And being here, anyone who feels they have a vested interest in my estate can contest it with me directly, rather than squabbling about what my wishes were after I've croaked.
It sounds quite morbid really, but I suppose  it's something that needs to be sorted out.

The first fruit of my loin came home and clumped about the house for a while. Apparently he's in the throes of building a kennel for Fudge for when Fudge is in the garden. Talking of whom, Fudge is in trouble - he's eaten his collar.
And as he (the first fruit of my loin; not Fudge) went off on a mission so his sister (and Sid) returned, and we made vague plans for the weekend, as well as vague talk of a weekend in a caravan next year; which would be nice.
My beloved then phoned to say she was going out on the razzle with he mates and that I should boil myself up some scran. Whilst thinking about what scran I might boil up I wished that I'd taken up a friend's offer to go to the Wetherspoons curry night, and I worked on my novel.
Did I mention I'm writing a novel? It's  something that's been  at the back of my mind since the early 1980s. It's about.... well, to be honest I don't really know what it's about. I've always had this idea of how three characters might interact, one of whom isn't your average character. The trouble is that I have characters, but not plot or  title. However I have four pages and vague interest from a local publisher, so here's hoping something will come of it. I'd like to think that Hollywood will snap up the book once I've written the obvious successor to Harry Potter and the Twilight series. But realistically I know  that authors far better than me have not managed the success they deserve. I suppose, like with my paintings, that if I can cover my costs and my public is happy with what they get, then I will have achieved success.

11 April 2012 (Wednesday) - Light Pollution

As I walked across the car park this evening I saw Venus bright in the sky. There's not a lot of light pollution in the direction I look in as I walk to my car. And talking of which, here's something I've been saying for a few years:

Light pollution is getting so bad that it's not possible to see most of the night's stars. Most parts of the UK are unable to see two thirds of the stars visible in places like where we have the astro club (we didn't pick it at random, you know...)
But we knew that anyway - didn't we? I've certainly been ranting about this for some time. It seems odd to me that well-known established facts are presented as "news". I suppose it's a sad reflection of our times that few people actually go out to look at the glory of the night sky these days, and those that do venture abroad after dark are more concerned that there be a decent amount of illumination so that they don't get mugged.
Amazingly some twit on the news this evening tried to claim that cars are more likely to break down in unlit areas.
And talking of spacey things, it would seem that a (relatively) nearby star has more planets than our sun does. The star HD10180 has (at least) one more planet than our Sun, if you don't count Pluto. It's quite amazing that we can detect planets round other starts really. It's something I never expected to see in my lifetime. I wonder how long it will be before we actually send people to them...

10 April 2012 (Tuesday) - The News

Having pretty much wasted yesterday doing absolutely nothing, it now transpires that a good friend of mine who lives but a stone's  throw from my house went geocaching round the neighbourhood yesterday. Geocaching involves using sat-nav  technology to find message capsules which have been left by other geoocachers. As he geocached on his own he felt he needed company, and further felt that I would really enjoy geocaching. In retrospect I don't think I would have liked being out in the rain yesterday, but I do like the sound of geocaching. That might just be something to do over the summer.

On the radio today the top news story was the amazing fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has said he was shocked to discover some of Britain's wealthiest people pay virtually no income tax.
At the risk of appearing cynical I think the pundits have missed the point of this sorry tale. Surely the shocking part isn't that those with money are tax-dodging. That's not news - it never has been. Those with money understand money, and know how to squander, fritter and spend it in such a way that it isn't taxable. It's us mere mortals who get stung for tax. Always was; always will be.
The shocking part of this story is either that the Chancellor is so thick that he really is shocked by the news (and I can't really believe that), or that the Chancellor has made a news story out of something that realistically has been known for years. And if he has done so; why has he done that? What is he playing at? Are the Tories declaring war on those who traditionally have funded them?

Meanwhile boffins are planning to mature whisky on the International Space Station. Apparently they want to see if and how fermentation can work in zero-G and to see how the resultant whisky will taste. One thing's for sure - it can't taste any worse than Earth-brewed whisky.

Talking of the ISS, commercial rocketry firms who are competing for the contract to supply NASA with spacecraft are almost ready to send their rockets to the ISS. Apparently they might launch as early as 30 April - three weeks away.
Mind you, Frank Culbertson (a former astronaut) says things could go wrong. That's encouraging...

9 April 2012 (Easter Monday) - So Bored...

Having had plans for three of the days of  the long weekend, I'd not actually got round to thinking up something to do today. Last year on Easter Monday we took a picnic up to Caesar's camp, and then I met one of my grand-cats for the first time. The year before we had family over to visit on Easter Monday. And the three years before that were spent doing gardening. Interestingly it would seem that the weather on the last five Easter Mondays was (if not glorious) good enough to get out and about to do something.
Today we had nothing planned, and the weather was awful.

Over a spot of brekkie we turned on the telly. UK Gold were having a Wallace-and-Gromit-a-thon. And with precious little to do, I watched the antics of plasticine whilst fiddling about on my lap-top. As total boredom set in I got off my bum and scrubbed the bathroom ceiling before wasting much of the afternoon playing "Angry Birds" and "Words with Friends" whilst watching repeats of "Only Fools and Horses" on UK Gold. And when I could play no more games on Facebook I did some ironing. Being Bank Holiday there was no league bowling this evening, but "er indoors TM" had arranged to spend the evening with a bowling buddy so I was left "Home Alone".  I spent a couple of hours watching yet more repeats of "Only Fools and Horses" on UK Gold before turning over to "The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery". It wasn't as good as I remembered it. I then went back to what I'd done all day and watched an episode of "Rock and Chips" which I'd recorded onto the Sky Plus box a week or so ago. It turns out that  there are only three episodes of "Rock and Chips". Tonight I saw the third one. I've seen the first one a dozen times, and never seen the second one...

Having just had a really enjoyable three days I found today thoroughly depressing. With nothing planned, and heavy rain stopping anything being done outside, the day was pretty much a day wasted.

8 April 2012 (Sunday) - Smarden Duck Race

Just as I was about to go to bed last night, the first fruit of my loin came home; as refreshed as a rat. He took himself off to his pit, as he does. And I did likewise.
At 3.30am there was a frantic hammering on the front door. I opened the door to some very apologetic drunken lads - it turned out that the drunkard upstairs had (for some reason) been entrusted with everyone's keys and  had come home with them all.
With keys eventually sorted everyone went back to their respective pits. At 8am I was woken by a phone call. The Brighton contingent was wondering if the Duck Race was still on. Quite frankly so was I. But idiot enthusiasm usually trumps common sense and we decided to stick with the day's original plan. As I tried to doze off again, so several text messages came in; all asking about the Duck Race. As I had a spot of brekkie I desperately hoped the Duck Race was still on.

And so, with a sense of hope we picked up Steve and Sarah and set off to Smarden. The Brightonians had already arrived at the Farm, as had nearly everyone else, and after  a quick cuppa we made  our way into the village where another of our number was waiting. I'd been worried about today - a lot of people had cried off with other commitments: was anyone going to come? But in the end over a dozen of us queued up to buy our ducks. For a quid we got a numbered plastic duck. And then nine hundred of these numbered plastic ducks were chucked into the river a hundred yards upstream of the bridge. The first duck to the bridge would win the prize. We stood by the river's edge  and cheered for our ducks. I hollered and bellowed for duck #823, but duck #823 did not win. Which was a shame. Mind you,  winning isn't everything. Just being there for the duck race was  quite sufficient.
And so back to the farm. The plan was far a barbie, and despite the weather a barbie is what we had. There were a few spots of rain, but I've barbied in far worse over the years. And having eaten far too much and suitably replete we wandered across the fields to see the aminals and fishes. And then, having said goodbye to some of our number, an advance party for the planned June camp made its way to Dering farm to check out the lie of the land. With quite a major camp planned for a few weeks' time, we thought it a good idea to see where we would be camping. I'd not been down to the lower field at Dering farm for years - it has potential.
And all too soon it was time to come home: a shame - I'd had a great day with family and friends, and there are some friends I see far too infrequently. And from one group of friends I don't see enough of, we went round to see others we also don't see often enough. Today marked ten years since Heather and Andy got married. I was there for the wedding, and this evening saw a little soiree to celebrate. It was a really good evening with friends; and again all too soon it was time to come home.
There have been days in my life that I couldn't wait to be over; today could have lasted a lot longer....