10 December 2023 (Sunday) - New Boots, Canterbury, Munzing

I went to bed last night with something of an iffy stomach. I blame the sweet chili wrap I had for lunch on Friday; I’ve been farting like a fruitbat ever since. Assuming of course that fruitbats fart a lot. Do they? – I’ve never got that close to one.
I had a really good night’s sleep. I was licked awake by all three dogs at what seemed like the middle of the night only to find it was five past nine.
I got up and farted quite a bit more. I made some toast in the hope of settling my innards, but as I scoffed it I came over rather light headed.
“er indoors TM went off to the monthly brekkie meet-up. I didn’t go. Last time we went Treacle spent the entire time barking. I’m getting paranoid about the noise she might or might not make, so feeling a tad iffy anyway I wasn’t taking any chances.
I posted up today’s instalment of the Advent Calendar, did some CPD, and didn’t have any time to watch telly before “er indoors TM returned.
The plan for today was to walk the dogs on a little Munzee session round Canterbury. Being on pavements we’d avoid the mud, and we’d get an hour’s walk in before the forecast rain hit. Sadly the forecast rain came early, but we got a mile or so’s walking in; Munzing loads of Munzees as we went.
Having had to cut the walk short we popped into “Go Outdoors”. Back in the day when I worked night shifts in Canterbury I used to go into that place before seemingly every night shift. But I’d not been in the place for years. As well as having a nosey around I needed new walking boots. I used to be very good at waxing and polishing my walking boots, but over the last few months I got a tad lax and the leather had actually split. So I got some new boots.
I also got some pickled onion flavoured peanuts too.
We came home where “er indoors TM dropped me and the dogs off before going off shopping. We settled in front of the telly and I watched more “White Gold” as the dogs snored. They’d not had much of an outing, but they were worn out.
“er indoors TM returned and we had the pickled onion flavoured peanuts. Sadly they were something of a disappointment. Another disappointment was the children’s service from Canterbury Cathedral that was happening this afternoon. We got to watch it via You-Tube and did so for the simple reason that one of the smaller members of our tribe was singing in the choir. After a while we eventually spotted Bella who (sadly) looked rather miserable. The vicar giving the verbals was something of a let-down too. He was trying to persuade the kids that some fat bishop was actually Santa, and was encouraging the kids to write to the Prime Minister about the recent COP28 climate talks.
It’s been a while since I last watched a church service, and it will be a while before I watch another.
As we watched we got the news that someone had driven a van through “My Boy TM”’s garden fence, demolished it and drove off.
“er indoors TM boiled up a decent bit of scran which we washed down with a bottle of Malbec whilst watching “Taskmaster: New Zealand”. Whilst it passed an otherwise potentially dull half-hour, it isn’t a patch on the UK version.
I’m still not feeling on top form… but that might be the Malbec.

9 December 2023 (Saturday) - Another Late Shift

I woke feeling particularly morose this morning; I wish I knew why. I suppose these dark mornings and seemingly constant heavy rain don’t help.
I opened today’s window of the Advent Calendar, made toast, and had a look at the Internet. There’s a Facebook page I help moderate about a series of books. Rather good books. There was talk about having them made into a TV series, and the general consensus was that this would be a bad thing. Why do books have to be made into TV series and films? It rarely (if ever) works well. Most times it happens the TV series and film end up making an entirely different story (as happened with “Foundation” and “Game of Thrones” and pretty much every “James Bond” book). Or they try to follow the books but can’t condense what is in the book into such a short time-frame so just televise the most cinematic bits of the book. And so have just a disjointed series of scenes which mean nothing to anyone who hasn’t read the books. Like they did with “Harry Potter”.
I helped “er indoors TM load up her car, and with her off on her mission I got the dogs into their coats and we drove round to Dog Club. With the awful rain there were only five dogs along (including our three), but with a smaller attendance Treacle had a go at playing with other dogs. Bailey kept instigating games of chase with a bigger dog, and then screaming in terror when she got chased.
We had a good time, but it was rather wet. After twenty minutes we reluctantly gave up.
We came home for hot showers and brekkie. And with the dogs washed and fed I took off wet clothes. I was soaked through to the skin. My pants couldn’t have been wetter had I tiddled them. I stuck the wet stuff into the washing machine and got the Mystery Year contest right on the radio. It was odd not listening to that on the car’s radio.
I slobbed on the sofa with dogs until “er indoors TM returned from her mission and I then set off to work. It was still rather damp as I drove,  and I got progressively more wet as I drove. The driver's seat was still wet from our earlier return from Dog Club.
As I drove up the motorway I listened to my frankly wonderful choice of music, and the MP3 player in the car randomly selected the Electric Light Orchestra's "Concerto for a Rainy Day" as I drove past Lenham.
How apt.
Have you ever listened to the "Concerto for a Rainy Day"? It is the first side of the second LP in the double album "Out of the Blue" and was absolutely spot for my day today. Having started "Standing in the Rain" at Dog Club, I ended up looking out of the works window at a glorious afternoon (Mr Blue Sky!)
I hadn't really been supposed to be working today, but I volunteered to cover a minor disaster. When I've mentioned this before, most people make comments about ignoring the phone and pretending you've something else better to do that day... Most people are also begrudging the striking doctors too, but expect a hospital to be open all day every day. I can't say I dislike my job, but given my time again I would work somewhere that puts up a "Closed" sign from time to time.
Being on a late meant I was rather late home. Over a late dinner we watched today’s episode of Doctor Who in which the new chap took over. To be honest he should have taken over three episodes ago: I really can’t see what bringing David Tennant back was all about.
The new chap gets his first proper outing on Christmas Day…  

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…