30 July 2009 (Thursday) - A Dull Day

Because I was on a late today I didn’t set my alarm, and I slept through. Which confirms my theory that I wake early some days because I know there’s an alarm with my name on it. Today I was woken by ‘er indoors TM ‘s alarm. Which went on. And on. And on until I poked her. I really don’t know why she bothers with an alarm – it never wakes her. It just disturbs me instead (!)

I had some time to waste before work – so back to NeverWinter where it would seem that kobolds are running riot. It’s as well that I was there to save the world (again). And then to Halfords to buy magnetic tax disc holders for my tax disc & parking permit. Some days of my life are really exciting – others are rather dull.

The highlight of the day was a conversation with a total retard who thought she was clever by naming her house “Shingles”. I just didn’t have the heart to tell her...

I’ve had one or two phone calls and texts today asking about plans for the weekend. Weather forecasts for Saturday range from glorious sunshine through to monsoons, with all eventualities in between being possible. So the garden party planned for Saturday is going ahead regardless of the weather (unlike arky-ologee clubs). We’ve got a gazebo & an offer of a big parasol-ly type thing. And “Daddies Little Angel TM ” has been assigned to tidying out the living room to make space for people.

Things might be a bit tight, but I plan to carry on regardless with idiot enthusiasm. It’s a life choice which hasn’t failed me (too badly) over these last forty-odd years…

29 July 2009 (Wednesday) - Stuff

I woke up feeling a tad thirsty, and so went for a glass of water at 3am. And saw the washing up hadn’t been done. Once I’d scrubbed that and fiddled around with the washing machine, ironed some shirts, blah-de-blah I was nearly late for work.

Work was shorthanded due to the swine flu epidemic. People never think of hospital workers going off sick, do they? And then home to lend Joey a rucksack. It doesn’t seem that long ago since she was five years old and would try to drown me in the swimming pool. For all that she’s now twenty, I still see her as that five year old, and I can’t get my head round the fact that she’s off to Italy.

Tonight’s planned meeting of the arky-ologee club was cancelled at short notice. The plan was to got for a walk in an area of local archaeological interest, but because Michael “no hurricane” Fish says there might be thunder, the whole thing was called off. I can’t pretend to be the keenest member of the club, but if I keep my racket down, I usually get to go to the pub afterwards. Personally I was hoping for a quick thunderstorm, if only to wake up “sleeping beauty”.

Still, on reflection it’s probably for the best that the walk was cancelled – my knee still hurts. It’s been painful for a week now. Cycling is fine – I cycled about fifteen miles last weekend with no problems. But walking to post a card and back nearly did for me.

Whilst I’m listing my ailments in a futile attempt to gain the sympathy vote, my left armpit is still sore. It’s been like that ever since I was bought some pink deodorant at Brighton Kite Festival.

Whilst doing the monthly accounts I had cause to use my shredder. We got a shredder a while back because ‘er indoors TM said to, and who am I to argue? I thought there was something suspicious when I saw that the thing had been emptied. Far be it from me to name names, but it was working fine when I last touched it, and now it’s knacked. And didn’t I see a hand-operated shredder downstairs the other day?

There’s not a very long list of suspects…

28 July 2009 (Tuesday) - Making Money

Notwithstanding the din of “My Boy TM ” quietly (!) going to work at 5.30am this morning, in a novel break with tradition, I stayed in my pit until gone 7am.

There was an interesting article on the radio on the way to work – there’s a craze sweeping America whereby (for no adequately explained reason) you have to throw away most of your possessions – you can only keep one hundred. I wonder how the ladies of the household would respond to that one, bearing in mind we don’t so much live in a house as in an obstacle course.

Meanwhile, worn out from being quiet, “My Boy TM ” had come home from work and was having a kip in the garden. Some of us come home and have a kip. Others come home, do the washing up and get the laundry in. Who’s the daft one?

A phone call – some twonk from GMC finance. Apparently I asked them to phone me because I liked what I’d read about their company. One lives and learns.

They felt they wanted to share their get rich quick scheme with me. It would be very lucrative for me to invest in companies that provide temporary agency staff to work in hospitals. Apparently the NHS is dumb, and is willing to pay far over the odds for agency staff, which means a nice return on their shares. They claimed that a share worth 80p last year was now worth over two quid.

They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the NHS agency gravy train has long since come off the rails, and seemed to take offence when I intimated they were talking rubbish. I’m the one who up until last Friday had been sacking these temps. What do I know…..

27 July 2009 (Monday) - Brighton. In The Rain

Whenever I set my alarm clock (alarm phone) I’m usually awake waiting for it to go off. I think I was awake most of the night waiting for the 5am alarm. An early start, as the train went at 6.20am. “My Boy TM ” gave me a lift to the station, and it was as well that he did. Oh the fun we had with the queue.

One of the normal people wanted a long term season ticket, but refused to have the accompanying photo-card that went with it. Somehow or other that would have impinged on his civil liberties. And then the next one wanted an off-peak ticket, and didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t get one before 10am. He was getting quite shirty, and demanded that since his train was about to go, perhaps the bloke behind the counter could just sell him an off-peak ticket, and he could have the rest of the argument on the train. When eventually I got my turn I didn’t have the heart to tell the ticket bloke that his price was £1.40 more than their web site had quoted.

The train journey to Brighton was OK, once we’d got past Rye. There was some twonk with an iPod who was broadcasting to the world. The fact that no one liked his music was rather upsetting to him. He must have tried over a dozen tracks to find one that the nice lady opposite him liked. He kept asking her opinion, and she kept saying she didn’t like it. It was a shame she didn’t tell him to switch the thing off.

As I came out of the Bo Peep tunnel I had a text message – an update from my correspondent in Brighton. It was pouring hard there, and I could get a number 7 bus straight from the train station to the hospital. Excellent! I walked out of the station and straight onto the bus.

I arrived at the hospital and was immediately glad I hadn’t driven. There was no parking at the hospital. That’s not “all the spaces were taken” – there was no parking at all. I had been told that had I driven I might have been lucky enough to have found a parking space in a nearby street. But all the streets looked very full of cars, and there were more traffic wardens there than I’ve ever seen before anywhere during normal working hours.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital is a funny place. Over the years I’ve visited a lot of hospitals, and I’m sorry to say I took an instant dislike to this one. For all that the place is huge, I found it rather claustrophobic, and more than a little bit shabby and run down. Especially the block which is less than ten years old.

Built on a hillside, the bit where I was going was level 6, and was actually on the ground floor. I was there to formally assess one of their lab’s trainees, and the chap’s manager was a lady with whom I went to college at Brighton Tec from 1981 – 83. Years ago. I felt rather sorry for the poor bloke – he was excellent, and passed with flying colours. And then sat and politely listened whilst me and his boss had a good old gossip.

Before leaving the hospital I thought I’d visit Corinne, who was hard at work on one of the wards. I’m glad I don’t work on a hospital ward – they always look such busy places.

I had this plan to spend a bit of time reviewing old haunts before going home, but pretty much all the shops I used to visit have closed over the last twenty six years. And it was raining hard. So I merely kept up the tradition of taking home a pineapple for ‘er indoors TM. Twenty-odd years ago, every college day, I would bring her home a pineapple. Finding a greengrocer in Brighton took some doing, but eventually I found one.

As luck would have it, the greengrocer was just over the road from the Evening Star – a pub I’ve been meaning to visit for years. It’s got the largest selection of ales I’ve ever seen in a pub, and cider & perry on tap too. So, since I had a few minutes until the train was due, I had a crafty half. Just the one. It’s not as much fun without a gang of mates in tow, but I enjoyed a a pint of their “Original” whilst I tried (and failed) to text a picture of the pump clips to “the usual suspects”. There are currently five pubs on Beer in the Evening’s website that I rate at 9/10. This place might possibly be the sixth.

Whilst there, I took the opportunity to bring home a couple of bottle of expresso – coffee flavoured beer. Dark Star brew a decent drop of ale. It’s a shame the place is two hours away (and twenty quid!) on the train. Maybe one day….

26 July 2009 (Sunday) - Going for a Walk

I woke up early and put some washing in. Someone has to. A quick shave, and back to bed. When I got up, so did everyone else. I thought I’d make a cuppa. So did everyone else. I thought I’d go to the loo. So did everyone else. I thought I’d brush my teeth. So did everyone else. Why is it that with no time pressures at all today, everyone is under my feet, and swearing at me for being in their way?

A phone call from the chokey. He thought he’d surprise us. It did that. Apparently he had a few moments this morning before the wing’s snooker tournament. Once he hung up and went off to pot red, I designed a flier for the astro club. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages. You can see it here. The idea is that what’s on that website is printed either side of a landscaped side of A4, and then with a couple of folds it will make a flier that could be handed out to advertise the club. It’s not quite right yet – all comments & suggestions for improving it are welcomed. There’s a minor hiccup that the publisher program crashes whenever I try to print, but I’m sure I can get round that somehow.

And then I got on with the lawn. It doesn’t mow itself, you know. And I trimmed back the overgrowth from next door. He does like his climbing plants, and I don’t mind their hanging over the fence really. If only they wouldn’t keep dropping petals and leaves all over the place.

In the afternoon me and ‘er indoors TM went for a walk round Ashford Community Woodland. I didn’t even know the place existed, but it’s been there for ten years. It’s a series of woods and heaths connected by various footpaths. All very scenic. Now we know it’s there we may well go more often, but then again, maybe not. At the risk of playing into the hands of other bloggers who describe me as a “fitness freak” (pah!), I must admit that when I go for a walk, I want to take more than half an hour to do so. We left home at about 1.15pm, found the place, strolled round the entire lot and were back in the car less than an hour later. Much as it’s a good place to be, there’s not a lot there. You can’t realistically decide to spend an afternoon at an attraction and be finished by 2pm, can you?

So we drove down to Orlestone woods - just outside Hamstreet. We cycled past there a few weeks ago, and today we spent a little while wandering round the woods, trying (and mostly failing) to photograph butterflies.

Having spent the afternoon in woodlands, I realised a sign of our times. When I was a lad, most trees would have ropes hanging out of them. Ropes close in to the trunk so small boys could climb the tree easier, and ropes a bit further out hanging from branches that small boys would swing on. Today – not a single rope. And not a single child running wild in the woods. Don’t children these days play in woods? I used to, and so did My Boy TM”.

Home via Tesco’s. I never learn, do I? No matter when you go, morning, noon or night. It doesn’t make any difference – the place is heaving with retards. But I bought a nice pink shirt, so the journey wasn’t entirely wasted. I shall wear that shirt in Brighton tomorrow….

25 July 2009 (Saturday) - Ruckinge

A long time ago I received an email from the new landlord of the Blue Anchor in Ruckinge. He’d seen my review of the place on Beer in the Evening, and wondered if I would care to change my opinion seeing as he’d taken over. For a while I’ve considered Ruckinge to be a bit far for a cycle ride, but today four of us set off. It might have been five – maybe next time.

We had a lovely ride through the countryside. Very scenic, marred only by two near fatal collisions. Both with the same car. One where a car came round the corner far too fast and nearly flattened Batty, and then one where the same car nearly flattened me because I was laughing at Batty so much.

We arrived at our destination and met up with the chauffer-driven, only to find that the kitchen in the Blue Anchor was closed today. I’m not impressed. The pub has a website – why not mention that you’re not doing food? I suppose that by not mentioning that, they conned the price of a round of drinks out of us. Money they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Once we’d drunk up we cycled a mile or so along the road into Bilsington. Relying on memory and pot luck rather than cartography, seeing as we’d actually gone so far from home we’d cycled off the edge of the map. We found the White Horse, which did do food, and had a foxy barmaid with a barrel of beer on the counter. Oh yes ! And a stilton ploughmans too. That slipped down well. I had this vague idea that I could navigate us home via the Good Intent, and I did, albeit up a rather steep hill. I didn’t actually get off and push, but it was a close-run thing. A crafty IPA in Aldington Frith, and then home.

I got my shears out and treated myself to a haircut. One of my better ideas was to buy a pair of shears about ten years ago. It cost me fifteen quid, and I’ve never paid for a haircut since. However, a minor hiccup today – I think I had them set a tad short. Still, it’ll grow back. Or it won’t.

And then a walk up town. I wanted to pop into Waterstones, and I needed to get a birthday card to send to “Norman Stanley”. Have you ever tried to get a birthday card suitable to send into a prison? They all bleat on about having a wonderful day, happy day… in the end I got him one with a knob joke, and I’m hoping for the best.

24 July 2009 (Friday) - To The Post Office

To the post office to collect a parcel. They now insist that you produce some identification before they hand over your parcel to you. The fact that you’ve got the slip they left isn’t good enough. Apparently someone might be sneaky enough to have broken into your house to nick that slip. So I showed the retard-on-duty my passport.

It was actually rather embarrassing watching him trying to read the name and address on my passport and attempt to compare it to the information on the parcel. Eventually he satisfied himself that they matched, and handed both back to me. I pointed out that surely he should have compared the photo on the passport with my face. Surely all that any I.D. with an address on can show is that you got that I.D. from the same place where the post office’s slip was left. I might have nicked that passport whilst I was nicking the delivery slip. And therefore what he’d so laboriously scrutinised was no better than just producing the slip the postman left in the first place. Surely you need to know that the person collecting the parcel is who they claim to be, not that they have potentially stolen several things from the same address?

However the application of intelligence was way beyond this retard’s capability, and I left him standing with a look of utter confusion on his dial. I think I might become a retard – life would be so much simpler.

Today was the last day of my secondment, and I got given another epic task to do. I wonder if I shouldn’t have accepted that job at the hospital at Chatham all those months ago.

Despite torrential rain I went to Margate for the last time (for a while). My lecture today was on leukaemia, and it seemed to go down well. One of the students was on holiday, but she came in especially for my session. What was supposed to be twenty minutes went on for an hour and a half.

A shame that this secondment has to end – I’ve got so much done in three months. And all the students have said they’ve got more done with me in three months than in the last year or so. I’ve gently suggested they write to management.

And for all that I hate driving, I actually like driving to Margate – well, I like driving home from Margate. Stopping of at Pegwell Bay for a crafty cuppa and to watch the kite surfers. And then the view of the cross-channel ferries from Jubilee Way driving down into Dover. I shall miss all that.

When I got home, despite the torrential rain, I mucked out the pond’s fish poo filter. There was no one home, and so I had this idea that if I was quick, I wouldn’t get any grief for doing so. I’ve taken to cleaning the thing out in the bath, as it’s easier all round. I don’t have to lug buckets of water all over the place, and the carp turds go down the plughole. The only drawback is that (for no adequately explored reason) the women get all twitchy about it. But I had the thing apart, scrubbed, back in place and myself bathed before they came home. They will never know…

23 July 2009 (Thursday) - A Tad Dull

All things considered, today was a tad dull, and just another day in the life. It’s amazing how quickly one takes not laying awake all night for granted, and I would probably have snored on for half the day had My Boy TM ” not done an impression of the explosion of Krakatoa as he closed the front door at 5.30am this morning.

To work – sometimes I love working for the NHS. With two days of my secondment left, I am given a task which would take lesser mortals weeks to do. Fortunately I am wonderful, and rose to the occasion. Having started early, I came home early and put the finishing touches to two of my most recent major projects. Both are still very much “works in progress”, but as my secondment ends tomorrow, I doubt I’ll get time to finish them. I’m not doing in in my own time.

Because I work in a laboratory, we can’t have a drink while we work – we have to go for formal tea breaks. In my breaks I’ve been reading the “Twilight” series of books. I’ve borrowed them, and have been reading them for the last couple of months. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, much as I’ve enjoyed them, now I’ve finished, I’m disappointed. In several thousand pages of books, nothing actually happened.

And then I tuned into the news. Disaster! The company that makes the best shoes in the world is in financial difficulties. I realise that the less fashion conscious among us have mocked my crocs - what do they know? But crocs are no more. A sad sign of our times. Because the things don’t fall apart within a week, there’s no profit to be made from them, and the firm that makes them is slowly going west….

22 July 2009 (Wednesday) - Stuff

I slept right through until 6am today. I was impressed, and ironed six shirts in celebration. As I hung the washing on the line, the fish were particularly noisy. Bloodworms seem to breed in the filter box, and the fish lurk by the waterfall to get the bloodworms as they fall out. The fish were slurping particularly loudly this morning. You wouldn’t think a carp could be a noisy animal. I suppose they’ve been taking lessons from the rest of the family.

As I got in my car today, I found myself giving my roof box an experimental prod. It seems that baboons in a safari park have learned how to open the boxes. Not content with ripping off wing mirrors and windscreen wipers, they now destroy roof boxes. I can’t imagine how anyone would be so dumb as to drive through one of those places – and I can vouch for having done some pretty dumb things.

I looked out of the window this evening to a scary sight. Not only had “My Boy TM ” not been arguing with his sister for a full half an hour, but he was also getting the laundry in from the washing line. That boy is up to something. I wonder what…

And then to the World’s Wonder – my current “favourite pub”. With a decent ale (Wonderbrew) and food which really is home made, it’s a shame this place isn’t closer to home. In a few weeks time they are having “A Night of Nostalgia with an Old Time Sing-A-Long”. This event apparently features Elspeth at the pianoforte, and I wouldn’t miss it for all the tea in China.

We were at the pub for a meal to celebrate Chris’ birthday. He’s fifty, you know. Fifty. That’s ancient. I shall be fifty in five years time. I don’t feel old at all. I suppose everything is relative, as Albert once said. Mind you, I am hobbling about like an old man today. My right knee has been incredibly painful all day. At 10pm ‘er indoors TM admitted she’d hoofed me in the knee last night because the gentle sounds of my rhythmic breathing were keeping her awake. Pah !

21 July 2009 (Tuesday) - Noise

Being on a late start, I was rather naively hoping for a bit of a lie in this morning. Last night I even prompted “My Boy TM ” about keeping the noise down. To his credit, he merely crashed down the stairs at 5.30am, not thundering as he usually would. And he closed the front door quietly – the impact of the closure only being audible for a few hundred yards – not miles as is usually the case. However the rest of the tribe made up for him this morning. “Daddies Little Angel TM ” sang beatifically with the voice of a (hell’s) angel, and rather than typing in the standard manner, ‘er indoors TM operated her computer’s keyboard with what sounded like hammers. I didn’t want to sleep, anyway.

I spent a bit of time updating the blog’s “Dates for the Diary” section. I tend to agree to all sorts of things and then forget about them, so it might help as a bit of an aide-memoir. There are those who claim it may be used as an open invitation to burglars. It’s more likely to be used by My Boy TM ” to know when the coast is clear to get up to mischief, and the thought of him being caught mid-prod by a burglar is something I’ve been sniggering about for most of the day.

One of the events featured on the “Dates for the Diary” is a cycle ride I’ve got in mind for this weekend – a trip to Ruckinge & back. Because I was a tad bored before work this morning, I drove the proposed route to see how feasible it would be. It took about fifteen minutes in the car, so I reckon an hour on the bike should be about right. See you all at the Blue Anchor….

20 July 2009 (Monday) - Forty Years Ago

Forty years ago today, men first walked on the moon. I don’t actually remember Apollo 11, but I can remember the world-wide panic when Apollo 13 got into difficulties, and I can remember sprinting home from school at dinner time to see whatever the astronauts had been up to. And having watched the moon landings, I confidently looked forward to a bright future in which humanity expanded.

There are those who seem to confuse human expansion into space with fanciful science fiction. But they are wrong. The urge to explore is something fundamental to humanity – ever since the first cave man wondered what was on the other side of the first hill he found. And so that was what I was expecting as a child – a world with orbital laboratories, colonies on the Moon, Mars, and the satellites of the outer planets. Instead, after Neil Armstrong’s “Giant Leap” humanity has taken a “Big Stand Still”, and will be standing still for at least another ten years.

In between work I phoned the prison to book my next visit. I got through relatively quickly this time – it only took seven hours for them to answer. But the visit is booked. If it takes as long to get through next time I shall complain to the governor. I wonder what his response might be.

And then in keeping with the astronomical theme of the day I left work and went straight to the committee meeting of the astro club. I was only an hour late, and managed to miss pretty much everything. Sometimes I detest late shifts. But the view of the sunset from the pub was rather pretty….

19 July 2009 (Sunday) - To The Cinema

I wasn’t sure what the plan for today was, but I was hoping for something. A walk, a bike ride. But I woke up to drizzle, and the day never really cheered up much. I got the lawn mowed, which was a result, and I thought about cleaning out the fish pond filter. But I thought better of that idea. I might do it one evening in the week – I really couldn’t face smelling of carp poo today.

To the cinema with Chris. I’ve been wanting to see the new Harry Potter film ever since I read the book four years ago. I can remember queuing up at midnight to buy the book when it first came out, and spending much of that weekend sitting with a gaggle of friends in Kearsney Abbey. I enjoyed the book. Like any sixth book in a series, it relied heavily on what had gone before. And if I hadn’t read the previous five books prior to reading it, I would have been somewhat confused. But that’s how a series works. Take the Star Wars films for example. One follows nicely into the next. To use a technical tern, it’s got “continuity”.

****Minor spoiler alert*****

I’m afraid to say that today’s film was, like all Harry Potter films, rubbish. It only works as an illustration of some of the scenes from the book. As a self-contained work of cinematic art, it fails at the first hurdle. If you’ve read the book then you will recognise the various scenes of the film. If you’ve read the book and know the characters, some of the scenes are variously amusing, well done, emotional and scary. And they are done so well that you don’t realise that the scenes are utterly disjointed and that the film actually lacks any continuity whatsoever. Why on Earth were the characters of Neville, Fred, George, Luna, Tonks and Lupin in this film at all? They lent nothing to the plot (such as it was) and having been given centre stage for a scene or two, they never appeared again. What was that with Dumbledore’s hand? Or the pensieve? Or the phoenix?

Compare this to a film I watched earlier in the year. “Twilight” worked as a film of a book because some things from the book were left out, and the story was consistent without those dropped elements. The Harry Potter film wasn’t. It didn’t have a plot that could be followed, and only made any sense if you’d read the book.

On another note, I was amazed how busy the cinema was at 1pm on a Sunday – heaving. And I felt rather sorry for the parents of the hoards of six year olds who’d taken their kiddies to see what wasn’t (by any stretch of the imagination) a child’s film. There will be nightmares tonight….

18 July 2009 (Saturday) - Dungeness

A day at the seaside. A gaggle of us went to Dungeness. The lighthouse is a good place to visit, if a tad scary if you’re not good with heights. Which I’m not. But half a dozen of us braved the heights. The view from the top was good, and we wondered about the naval ship that was sailing past. We looked for dolphins, but didn’t see any. But I got to take quite a few photos with my USB binoculars, and they are now sitting on Facebook. If you scroll down a bit, on the right hand side of this page there’s a link to my Facebook photo albums. I had a plan to move all my photos to Picasa so’s they would be accessible in slide shows via the Blogger software, but in the end, I couldn’t be bothered.

Climbing down the lighthouse was probably more scary than going up it, and then we adjourned for a bite to eat. There’s only one pub near the lighthouse, and whilst the food was good, it wasn’t cheap. And there was a bit of an attitude from staff. OK, I can understand that they are not keen on providing bowls of warm water for warming baby food. I can see that there may well be health and safety issues. However if a bowl of warm water is to be labelled as a danger, then so must be bowls of soup, and cups of tea and coffee.

I detest pubs (or any business come to that) who feel that because of their location they have a monopoly and can act as arrogantly as they please. I suppose they make their money from the tourist trade, and don’t expect people to return. A shame, because next time I’m in Dungeness, we shall drive elsewhere to find a pub.

And then we popped into the lifeboat station to have a look around. It never fails to amaze me that lifeboats are funded on an entirely voluntary basis. When you think of what the government wastes money on, surely lifeboats deserve a contribution?

17 July 2009 (Friday) - Canterbury Beer Festival

The morning’s haul of emails brought one from eBay. I have received an “unpaid item strike”. A couple of weeks ago I tried to buy a battery for my mobile phone. I paid for the thing, and received an email to say they’d posted it. Five days later they refunded my money. I asked what was going on. They’d refunded because they didn’t have what I’d ordered. So because they’d claimed to have posted the thing, they’d clearly lied to me. And so I gave them negative feedback. So in revenge they contacted eBay and claimed I’d never paid them, and I got an “unpaid item strike”. I wasn’t standing for that, filled out the on-line form to complain, and by return of post, eBay’s automated system removed the strike.

Bearing in mind the problems I had actually getting hold of my shed the other week, I’m a tad fed up with eBay at the moment. Its fine all the time things go well, but when things don’t, it would always have been easier to have dealt with a “proper” shop.

And then to Canterbury beer festival, via train and antique bus, picking up more of our number as we went. As always we made our way to Canterbury bus station and queued up with the Great Unwashed. And many of them were very great and rather unwashed. There was even a yeti in the queue. There queue is huge – it always is on the Friday afternoon session. Mainly because that is the free session – all the other times there’s a charge of about a fiver to get in. They must make thousands.

Once off the bus, some of our number queued. I zoomed in to bag seats and a table. Which in the event was easier said than done. But eventually we were ensconced with more beer, curry, peanuts and olives than sense. To everyone’s consternation I won three things in the tombola – last year’s Good Beer Guide, some lame CAMRA leaflets, and a false beard which I used to scare the normal people.

And then beer - as always I started off choosing the beer with the silliest names. “Dark Side of the Moose” was OK, but “Dartford Wobbler” tasted of raw potatoes. After “Wicked Women”, “Daffy’s Elixir” and “Old Stoatwobbler” thisng became rather vague, and so we left the festival a tad early so as to miss the last minute scrum in which several hundred people can’t all fit on the last bus.

A mooch round the piercing studios in Canterbury, then on to the Hobgoblin for a game of Farlke and a cigar. Both of which slipped down pleasantly. And then we walked out and…. I’m not quite sure what happened. All of a sudden we were half the number we were five minutes previously. So we adjourned to the Bishop’s Finger for a couple of pints, and (having regrouped) it was on to the Rose and Crown for a couple more.

Too much to drink, but a good fun day out. Same time next year……

16 July 2009 (Thursday) - Health & Games

I had a pig of a drive to Margate today. Pretty much every white van that had ever been built spent part of the journey trying to drive up my exhaust pipe this morning. In the end I got so fed up with them that I drove through Birchington at 15 mph just to wind them up a bit.

There was an interesting article on the radio on the way home. Some do-gooding busybody wants to do away with the concept of retirement. Apparently working until you finally drop dead is good for the body, mind and spirit as well as giving meaning to life. Whereas retiring causes low self esteem and is upsetting and insulting to the retired. I wish some people would bog off. I’d retire tomorrow if I could.

And so to the occupational health department. I hate sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms. They are full of helpful leaflets which explain why you’ve probably got every disease known to science, why you lead the unhealthiest life on the planet and tell you that you are too fat and that you drink too much. In the end, I wasn’t in there for very long. I’ve had enough of being a manager and having given my bosses a list of twenty-plus reasons why I feel I can’t cope with my current job I’ve asked for a grade reduction. Management wanted occupational health’s agreement that I was suffering from stress. After two minutes the doctor wrote the letter. I’m not sure what happens next, but for once the future at work looks a tad brighter. I doubt it will last.

Meanwhile back in reality the Azure Star has found pirates, and I’ve got to the second Mario world…