31 October 2009 (Saturday) - Let's Do The Time Warp (Again!)

Earlier in the week I’d been told that today there would be an attempt to break the world record for the amount of people doing the Time Warp. That sounded like fun, so I registered on-line with the event, and was up at 6am and checking for emails. I was rather hoping for an email from the Rocky Horror people to give us the plans for today but nothing arrived. So we just drove off to deepest Sussex hoping for the best. And our hopes weren’t high – the further we went, the more the rain was pouring. But, as always, when it rains we have two choices. We can sulk, or we can make the most of the day. We just hoped the rain wouldn’t put too many people off.

We’d been advised to park outside of Brighton and take the bus in, but for the sake of a few quid we decided to park as close to the west pier as possible. Registration was scheduled to open at 10am, and we were there promptly. I must admit to feeling a tad misled by the organisers. I was under the impression that I would be able to buy racy undercrackers at the venue, and so I didn’t take any with me. On arrival I found that the only costumes they were selling were T shirts and pink boas, so my attire was somewhat tame compared to that of some of the other protagonists. But I think I didn’t look too out of place. Next time I’ll know better.

We then spent an hour or so photographing and being photographed, and trying to work out the gender (and species) of many of our fellow time warpers. Simon and Corrinne arrived and we dragooned them into taking part. I’m not sure that Charlotte knew what she was letting herself in for. I think it’s fair to say that the rehearsal came as something of a shock to her. Over the course of an hour there were five rehearsal sessions. We went in the first one, and were instructed by a choreographer (which was nice). We came out to meet Dave & Tracy, and while they had their rehearsal, we then spent some time chatting with an incredibly foxy bird wearing next to nothing who turned out to live just up the road from me. Other people had travelled down from Birmingham for the day.

Then it was mid day. Everyone came into the arena, and Richard O’Brien himself came onto the stage and led us all through two renditions of the time warp. Oh it was fun. And then he announced that there had been 1570 people taking part, and a new world record had been set for the amount of people doing the time warp at once. Oh yes…. I have another lame to fame.

On the way out I cunningly photographed a fit bird in a skimpy leotard. Well, it passed the time… My loyal readers can see highlights of the day (and of the fit bird in skimpy leotard) here.

To celebrate (both the world record and the fit bird in the leotard) we thought we’d have a crafty pint. We wondered about driving up to the Evening Star, but seeing the queue of traffic waiting to get into the car park, we thought we’d leave the car where it was and walk up. I’m assured there are better pubs in Brighton, and I’m sure there are. But being something of a traditionalist I tend to stick to what I know. And they did have three different porters on. Finding a pub with just one porter on takes some doing these days, so to find one with three… I was happy. When they announced they did cheese baguettes too, I couldn’t believe my luck – bread & cheese & a pint of black beer. Heaven ! (I’m easily pleased)

And then home, and within ten minutes of arriving, we were off again to Shadoxhurst bonfire. First things first – luminous rabbit ears and toy light sabres. Burgers went down well, then we played on the stalls to see what tat we could win. I came away with two teddy bears and an inflatable dolphin. The fire was lit, and fireworks went off. You can’t beat a good bonfire and fireworks on a cold winter evening. And I even got a crackwatch photo too.

And then home to attempt to get the photos up on Facebook. Which was easier said than done. The Facebook photo uploader doesn’t seem to like to upload more than nine photos at once. Which is a pain when I’m trying to upload nearly a hundred photos…

30 October 2009 (Friday) - Astro Club

I put the fennel & nettle tea in the dustbin today. It was foul. I went to Tesco and replaced it with camomile, honey and vanilla tea. Which is awful, but not quite as bad as fennel & nettle tea.

The last Friday of the month, so off to Astronomy club. I made a point of getting there early to help with the (do the) setting up. What with my shift pattern at the moment (last minute and random) I can’t commit to being available every time, but when I can, I do what I can for the club.

Having set up, there’s always an aura of expectancy. I put out chairs for an audience of fifty, and stood looking at an empty hall. Would anyone turn up? In the end, I wound up putting out more seats. We had a huge turn out. Following on from the publicity surrounding last weekend’s AstroBash we had over fifty people along tonight for a tour of the autumn sky. Just as well Stellarium can project the autumn sky, as the real sky was completely clouded over.

And then home to Folkestone with Stevey and coffee with Trudy. Only the second time we’ve actually met, but through reading her blog, I feel I know her far better than I should on a second meeting. Which is a good thing.

And then home for an early night. Or that was the plan….

29 October 2009 (Thursday) - Remembering Bob...

I mentioned Bob Ross yesterday. Had he lived, he would have been 67 today. He is one of my heroes. It’s one of my greatest regrets that I never met the chap – when I first started daubing oil paint around and buying his books, it came as something of a shock to find he’d died some years previously. But he told us all that we could paint, and (to my utter amazement) he was right. And when I visit family and friends, quite often hanging on a wall somewhere there’s a half-way decent painting which I’ll admire, and then after a few minutes I’ll realise “I did that!”. And then get all self-conscious because I’m admiring my own painting. And then, every time, I offer up silent gratitude to Bob who made it possible. Bob Ross developed a school of painting which was absolutely hated by the art world, because he showed the Great Unwashed that art wasn’t just the province of the “artist”. We can all paint. I must get my paints out again sometime.

Also, I see that AstroBash has made the papers today. The front page of the Ashford Extra, and a centre page spread in the Kentish Express. And still gripped with enthusiasm about the weekend’s event, being on a late start I spent more time preparing my talk on Saturn. That’s several hours work so far, and I haven’t even got a date for the presentation. I’m guessing January or February.

And the telly finally went today. I’m sorry, but I think that taking three days for the buyer to contact me is a tad unreasonable…

28 October 2009 (Wednesday) - Another Day

A death in the family. The frog has croaked. The poor thing was apparently given a Viking funeral. For all that there’s talk of more guinea pigs, I’m hoping that’s the last of the pets. (Fish don’t count as pets)

To Cross’ in the town to get oil painting stuff for “Daddies Little Angel TM ”. Whilst waiting for her to turn up, I got talking with the shop staff. They no longer supply “Bob Ross” oil painting stuff. They haven’t since their Canterbury branch closed two years ago. I must have missed that closing. And what’s more, they had no idea where I might get “Bob Ross” oil painting stuff. Apparently there’s no call for it any more. I feel that’s a shame. Not that I’ve done any painting for years.

I then checked my emails in the forlorn hope that the chap who won the auction for the telly might have been in touch. He hasn’t. I might just chuck the telly in the back of my car and deliver it to him in the next day or so – he only lives a couple of miles away. This is so typical of eBay. I’ve bought and sold things for hundreds of pounds without any problems. It’s the 99p sales that have all the problems.

And then to Lenham for the arky-ologee club. In a novel break with tradition, tonight’s speaker wasn’t some old fossil that had been exhumed at the club’s last dig. It was Joey, who has been a family friend for as long as she’s been alive. She spoke about her university’s latest excavations in Ostia. We could do with more talks like tonight’s…

27 October 2009 (Tuesday) - A Day Off

I was called in to work (again) last night. By the time I’d collected the projector (for Wednesday), finished at work and checked my emails, the evening had gone. Mind you, one of the emails told me my telly had sold. For the princely sum of 99p. I was hoping for a tad more profit, but such is life. Having said that, the lucky winner is yet to contact me, so perhaps I won’t even get that 99p.

I thought I’d take today off work. I deserve it. I cracked on with my PowerPoint presentation on the planet Saturn. I say “my presentation” – it’s based on (i.e. blagged from) something done by Cornell University. But I’ve emailed them and got their permission to use it. To be honest, once I’ve taken out the big words and thrown in some knob jokes, no one would be any the wiser. As they said themselves, if they didn’t want it used by the likes of me, they would never have put it on the Internet in the first place. It’s a good thing that Saturn looks pretty. There are absolutely no comic-book aliens I can illustrate the talk with, and the planet doesn’t sound the slightest bit rude either. Mind you, it does have the Death Star from “Star Wars” in orbit around it, so all is not lost. (It really does – look up “Mimas” on Wikipedia)

And then I had a look at my accounts. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a good idea – I only scare myself. I see that sometime in August I spent £16.10 on assorted groceries in Tesco that still hasn’t appeared on my credit card bill. I shall keep quiet about that. It wouldn’t be the first time Tesco have forgotten to bill me.

I then wasted an hour trying to find my keys. I used them last night to unlock the front door when I came home from work for the second time. But this morning they weren’t with my car key (where they should be). I’ve so much more I could be doing than looking for keys. And then the keys just appeared back on their hook some time during the afternoon. What was that all about?

A letter arrived from the chokey today, and “Norman Stanley” phoned just as I was about to open the letter. He seems a lot more positive than he has been – the basketball team is getting coaching – or, that is those members of the team that can be bothered to show up are getting coaching. He scored a basket in their most recent match – and they have improved their scoring by 500%, nor only losing 78-10. He can last the whole twenty minutes without being sick from the exertion. And he’s been to the dentist, who said to come back in a year’s time. That was helpful. I then spent a bit of time working on the next crossword I’m going to send him. A comical, drunken attempt at combat. (10)” Any ideas?

The afternoon was spent alternately in NeverWinter and asleep. Some might say a waste of a day, but I find that my weekends are (usually) so busy that I don’t mind having an occasional day slobbing about...

26 October 2009 (Monday) - Bit Dull, Really

It’s been brought to my attention that with a minimal bit of effort, I could be in the Guinness Book of Records. This weekend there is an attempt to stage the world’s biggest performance of the Time Warp. The current record was performed in Melbourne a while back, and the organisers are trying to get 1500 people along. It could be fun, - after all, it’s “just a jump to the left”. I wonder how many of my loyal readers I might drag along. Judging by the lack of response to the email I’ve sent out (one reply – can’t make it), my hopes aren’t that high. We shall see.

I saw the Rocky Horror show at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury some years ago. I’d like to see it again, but the closest it’s coming (in this year’s run) is Brighton and Bromley. Which is typical of most of the travelling stage shows these days. None of them ever come anywhere near Badger-Land.

And so to Tesco for salad. And more green tea – I’ve run out. I’m now onto the nettle & fennel because of its alleged “cleansing powers”. The stuff smells of liquorice and tastes how I imagine dog poo would taste. But I suppose it’s still anti-oxidant. And all the time I’ve been drinking the stuff I have never been harassed by an oxidant, so it must be doing some good.

And them to work for a meeting.  I volunteered for something. Next week is National Pathology Week and we have the use of a “retail marketing unit” in the town centre. On (or in) this we will mount a display about pathology. I’ve volunteered to lurk around the “retail marketing unit” and talk to the normal people, mainly because I know a good skive when I see one. The only problem is there’s just the slightest bit of uncertainty as to what a “retail marketing unit” is. I’m hoping it’s a shop, but I suspect we’re talking a market –type barrow. We shall see. If any of my loyal readers are around Ashford town centre next weekend, feel free to bring a pint over to the “retail marketing unit”….

25 October 2009 (Sunday) - The Day After

Having the clocks going back an hour last night gave me an extra hour in bed before the church bell up the road started its infernal clanging. The household’s womenfolk set off to London reasonably early, giving me the morning to fiddle around. I managed to change the blog slide show to feature an album of photos from yesterday’s AstroBash. The blog slide show is a strange thing. Having uploaded an album of photos to it, there is then an interval of about twelve hours before the photos become available to use. Annoying…

I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s Astrobash. Now I’m no longer the treasurer, I don’t have access to the finances. But weighing my estimates the cost of the raffle prizes and the hall hire, and other miscellaneous expenses against how many raffle tickets were sold and how many paying punters turned up, I’m of the opinion that the event financially probably broke even. (I’d be interested to find out if I am right in this guesstimate). Having said that, the event wasn’t about making money. It was initially suggested a year ago, and was intended to be a fun event as just one of many events organised nationally for the International Year of Astronomy. As things turned out, there were precious few IYA events locally this year. AstroBash was the only one within many miles that I’d heard of, and even allowing for the weather, I think the day was a resounding success. I hope we organise something similar for next year.

Now my talk on Mars is over and done with, I’m feeling at a bit of a lose end. I see that the astro club program of talks for next year is still to be announced. I wonder if I could do another presentation. After all, yesterday I was described as “something of an institution in the club”, and I have found some eminently blaggable PowerPoint presentations about the planet Saturn on Cornell University’s website. I say “blaggable” – I have no qualms of conscience in using such presentations. I can’t help but feel that if people didn’t want their presentations to be used, they wouldn’t put them on the Internet.

Talking of blagging other people’s work, I found this today. Look at the video about half way down the page. And click on it, to go to the original video on You-Tube. Do you recognise who made that video?

I got a message that there was a newer version of my anti virus available. Seeing as I’m a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to anti virus software and use the free version, something for nothing is always a good thing. But (as always) the upgrade, whilst simple enough in theory, took an hour to actually do.

And then to Maidstone to visit my god-daughter and her family. We had a brill time, and an excellent bit of scoff. We don’t see them anywhere near enough. Must go back soon…

24 October 2009 (Saturday) - AstroBash

To Argos to get “Daddies Little Angel TM ” the chair she’s been asking for. And then to Tesco for petrol, where I did something I’ve never done before. I reset the car’s fuel consumption gadget. Normally after refuelling it thinks the car has a range of 439 miles until it needs petrol. Now it thinks the range is 516 miles. I just hope I don’t run out of petrol sixty miles sooner than I’m expecting.

To Woodchurch for AstroBash. I had this idea that if I got there for 11am I’d be one of the first ones to arrive, and could help with the setting up. When I turned up, there were a dozen people already in the throes of getting ready. I was able to help with fetching and carrying tables around, and with putting out chairs, and generally getting in people’s way. I then spent ten minutes winding the children up. “No – your daddy hasn’t got to get the planetarium – I just saw him in the pub.” Oh, such fun.

And then the dalek man arrived. One of the members of a nearby astronomy club had made his very own dalek, and brought it along for the day. Would anyone be good enough to sit inside it and operate it for a while? Hmmm… Let me think about that one. Oh, it was brilliant. Sitting inside I could move the thing all over the place, and operate the eye stalk and the plunger. I even had a tin of smoke I could spray out of the exterminator. You can see the video on Facebook. Mind you, it soon got rather hot inside the dalek, to say nothing of being a tad claustrophobic.

I eventually emerged from the dalek to find Lyn had arrived with the bouncy castle, and so we put that up. In the rain. I must admit to being somewhat miffed about the weather. People had put in loads of effort for the day. Me – I’d not done much, really. I’d printed some flyers, got a hand stamp and some raffle tickets, and volunteered to generally dogsbody as required. But others had spent weeks in preparation. The weather looked set to spoil the day. The event formally opened at 2pm, and by 2.30pm we’d only had nine paying punters. So I got myself an ice cream, and I made a conscious decision. The rain was beyond my control, but my attitude to the rain wasn’t. I could sulk, or I could make the most of the day.

Astrobash was a really good event, with loads on offer. The raffle was excellent, with quality prizes - telescopes, books signed by Sir Patrick Moore, and really good airfix kits. There was rocket making and planet painting for the kiddies. There was a stall selling bits of astronomical kit. There was a jam stall with profits going to the club. There was a telescope display. There was a lunar module lander simulator. We had the use of the University’s planetarium with twenty minute presentations going on at intervals all afternoon. Outside we had stomp-rockets, a bouncy castle, and we’d even managed to be able to intercept and decode the signal from orbiting weather satellites. And there were talks from expert speakers (including me – I’m an expert!!)

And as the data from the weather satellites predicted, as the afternoon wore on, the weather got better. By the time I got to my fourth ice cream the rain had stopped, and the hall was rather crowded with people. As always at the astro club, I hawked the raffle noisily. I had to be noisy – AstroBash was a very noisy place. When the time came for my talk I was grateful for the P.A. system. Normally when I speak at the astro club, it’s in a darkened hall and everyone is listening. Today I was speaking with everything going on around me, and it took a while to capture everyone’s attention. I had been given twenty minutes. I went on too long, but I think the punters enjoyed the show.

We called the raffle, and then set up telescopes outside. We were able to see the moon and some stars through breaks in the cloud. And, as always I then helped with the tidying away. There are those members of the club who are far more knowledgeable about telescopy-things than I am, and they are far better employed talking to the “normal people” than I would be. The planetarium had to be returned to the University in Canterbury that night, so I loaded up the car and set off. That was a job that wouldn’t take long. Or so I thought. I rather suspected everyone would have packed up by the time I finished that job, but I drove back to Woodchurch just in case. As I suspected, everyone had gone. Oh well – I knew they would be gone anyway….

You can see the photos here. Same time next year…?

23 October 2009 (Friday) - Going to Mars...

It’s occurred to me that if I’m actually going to be part of the Mars 500 project, I’m going to need some time off work. I’ve checked the NHS guidelines on taking extended periods of leave. The document covered eventualities such as paternity leave, jury service, voluntary work, military service. However the person who drew up the publication wasn’t as far sighted as they might have been. Nowhere is there mention of leave for simulations of interplanatery missions. The closest I could find was “extraordinary circumstances”. I suppose being locked in a warehouse in Moscow pretending to be on a spaceship counts as “extraordinary circumstances”. In these cases, leave can be granted at the discretion of management. My boss didn’t actually say no when I asked him. Come to that he didn’t actually say anything. He was rather silent for a bit, and then he started laughing.

A reaction shared by most people, actually. Some people are so negative. And others are practical. A colleague today asked what the toilet arrangements would be on the voyage. Suggestions ranged from shoving one’s bottom out the window to using nappies. There was talk of a complicated arrangement with a vacuum cleaner, but I pretended not to listen to that. There were also questions asked about the catering. I’m told that on the trip I would get “rations”. That would be a result. I just need to lose a bit more weight, and learn to speak Russian, and then I shall be off to Mars. Or Moscow, at least.

Meanwhile over on eBay the bids on the telly would seem to have peaked at 99p. I’d like to think that great things will happen with this auction over the weekend, but my hopes aren’t that high.

And then to the Chinese restaurant in town for a work’s bash. A fun evening and the food was good. Shame about the service….

22 October 2009 (Thursday) - A Sabbatical?

I was up with the lark today, shirts ironed and off to Tesco for “lunch”. As always I used the self service tills. It would seem that these are the future. Tesco are now opening branches that only have self-service tills. That would suit me, but where are the retards going to shop? My guess would be Asda, as they seem to be against the whole self-service idea.

I must admit to a degree of disappointment with regard to how well my telly is doing on eBay. The thing has only been looked at 23 times, and six of those were me. It’s finally off the mark with a single bid at the starting price of 99p, I‘m hoping to end up with at least the price of a pint. Mind you, it’s got two “watchers”, and I’ve had a couple of questions emailed in about the thing.

I spent a final five minutes on my Mars presentation for the weekend. I know I should leave it alone, but I found something to add. The European Space Agency wants volunteers for a mock-up of a mission to Mars. These volunteers will spend 520 days in a simulated spaceship (in reality somewhere outside Moscow), and then make themselves available for up to a year afterwards. I qualify for some of the required criteria – I’m the right age and height, and have one of the required scientific backgrounds. The family are supportive. Or, that is, they were once they stopped laughing and realised I was serious about it. Which I am. A Mars simulation might be fun.

The two main stumbling blocks are that I’m too fat and I don’t speak Russian. Well, the diet’s progressing well. I just wonder how long it would take to get fluent in another language. “Perestroika, Glasnost. Roubles” – I’m half way there already…

21 October 2009 (Wednesday) - A Trip to the Wicked City

On average, work requires me to go to the University of Westminster a couple of times a year. I say “on average” as today was my first trip up there for three years. Things started as usual. The price of the tickets quoted on the Internet bore no relation to the actual price of the ticket. Reality wanted three pounds more. I took the train to Charing Cross and then rather than taking the tube (four stops) I walked to the University along Charing Cross Road and then up Tottenham Court Road. I don’t like London, and this was confirmed as I saw all the homeless people sleeping in the alleys along Charing Cross Road. My plan was to pop into some of the bookshops. “Murder One”, (one of the better bookshops) has gone. It’s not there any more. Neither is the Virgin MegaStore or HMV. Which was a bit of a problem, as I had this naïve idea to get some Xmas pressies.

I contented myself by looking in some of the electrical shops along Tottenham Court Road. There are a lot that specialise in mobile phones, computers, cameras, that sort of thing. And all have names that end in –tronics. Presumably because that sounds electrical-ish to people who speak English very badly. The assistant in one shop wondered if she could help me. I said I was browsing for ideas for the wife’s Chrimbo pressie. That foxed her. So I explained that I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but was looking for something for my wife’s Christmas present. She asked if it was a present for a special occasion. Christmas, I told her. She then asked if it was a present for a special person. The wife. She asked if *he* was special. I resisted the temptation to reply with “no, just some fish featured fat bum who hangs around the house generating laundry”. Instead I made my excuses and wandered to the next shop.

The next shop didn’t employ any native English speakers either. Neither did any of the electrical shops. Or the gift shops. Or the market stalls. Or Starbucks, where I stopped for a Frappuchino (!). And then I realised that everyone walking past who was using a mobile phone was gabbling away in every language under the sun except English. As I walked past the Scientologists place I saw they had a stand with their equivalent of the Bible on display. In Chinese, Polish, Arabic and (again) everything except English.

I realise the last time I touched on the topic of multi-lingualism I got anonymous hate mail. So let me be clear. I’m not advocating neo-nazi policies (as my critics would accuse me), it just seems amazing that so few people in England’s capital city have English as their first language.

And then I nearly got arrested.

For any of my loyal readers who’ve never been to London, never use a public telephone. They are actually quite shocking. Most of the phone boxes in London are festooned with postcard adverts. All put there by ladies of loose morals (or their associates) advertising their services and their mobile phone number. And these adverts aren’t shy in describing exactly what services these ladies of loose morals offer. And the pictures on these postcards leave little to the imagination. Some of them are rather disgusting. So, faced with filth in every phone box, I thought I’d take a couple of these “calling cards” to post into the chokey with the next letter. It’s odd how these things always seem to be a good idea at the time.

As I picked up a couple of cards, a snotty young constable cornered me in the phone box. Arrogantly he demanded to know what I was doing. As I explained, I saw a look of amazement on his face. “You speak English” he said. So I again explained what I was doing. He told me it was illegal to put up these adverts in phone boxes, and how he is expected to remove them and destroy them. Bearing in mind how close I was to being nicked, I thought it prudent not to point out how poor a job he was doing (if the amount of adverts up and down the road was anything to go by). I asked if I could keep the two postcards I had. He said no, took them off me and ripped them up. He then warned me that if he caught me putting up any more mucky adverts, he’d arrest me. He then marched off down the road with a rather self-important manner. Silly constable! I walked up the road to the next phone box and took two mucky adverts from that one instead. I shall post them into HMP Slade next Monday. I just hope “Norman Stanley” appreciates what I went through for him today…

20 October 2009 (Tuesday) - Stuff

If you look at the bottom of this page, you’ll see a link marked “View Site Stats”. This link fascinates me. Not only does it tell me how many people have looked at this blog, it tells me if they are first time visitors as well. It would seem that there would be an addition to my regular subscribers. There’s now someone in the Sydney (Australia) area. G’Day!!

I revamped the Astro club flyer this morning. It’s not too bad, but the maps could probably be better. I have a sneaking suspicion I might have missed a committee meeting last night, but then, I’m not on the committee any more. Not that such a trivial point would prevent me from sticking my oar in, anyway.

I wasted an hour or so getting the AstroBash logo onto the Blogger website. I can’t say I’m 100% happy with the result, but it’s now better than my first attempts were. I’m hoping to use “blatant plugging” to scare up some sponsorship next month. If my loyal readership thought last year’s charity moustache-growing was bad, this year I’m going for the full beard. It’s less than two weeks till Mo-Vember and I’ve already got a team of seven (so far) poised to grow assorted facial hair. If any of my loyal readers want to join in, feel free. Interestingly, all the stuff I did last year is no longer on the Mo-Vember web site. The team has gone; my log-in is not recognised. Perhaps everyone starts afresh each year. Which is probably for the best…

19 October 2009 (Monday) - Frogs, eBay, Polystyrene

A near crisis last night – the family frog disappeared. I wonder how many of my loyal readers knew we have a family frog. His name is “Stewie”, he’s about an inch long, and we had tears until he was found again. He was lurking under the log in his tank. Which is where he was supposed to be all along.

A late start today meant I had some time on my hands, so yet more revisions to my presentation for Saturday’s AstroBash. I really should stop mucking it about now, but I know what will happen. No matter how many times I go through it, on the day I will pop up a slide with some strange picture, and have absolutely no idea what I am supposed to say about it, and go completely blank with hundreds of people staring at me. It’s a good job I don’t embarrass easily.

And then I put our old telly up on eBay. Whilst it’s now surplus to requirements, it’s still a good working telly, and (I think) it’s too good to throw away. Someone might want it, so I thought I’d try a 99p starting bid on eBay, and see what happens. You can see the auction here. And what fun I had listing the thing. First of all it quite happily found the picture and showed it on the listing, but I still had a warning that the picture’s web address wasn’t valid. And then eBay formally warned me about the item title. You’ll see I’ve described it as “used”. This is acceptable. My initial description of “not new” was misleading, as people will interpret that to imply the thing is new. Or so eBay told me. For the sake of 99p, next time I have an old telly I shall take it up the tip.

Talking of the tip, I went there today to ding out all the cardboard about the place. Where does it all come from? I also thought I’d throw away the bags of packaging in the shed. When I got to the tip, I found the bags had holes in them. The polystyrene wotsits went everywhere. Oh the man at the tip did laugh….

18 October 2009 (Sunday) - A New Telly

I wasn’t on top form this morning – can’t imagine why I might be feeling under the weather. So you can imagine my reaction when “Daddies Little Angel TM ” was ringing the doorbell at 8am, having locked herself out. I got back to bed, and waited for the church bell to start. It didn’t, but then I heard the front door opening, and “coo-eee!!” echoed up the stairs. Nathan was visiting. Then the phone rang. Had we received an email from the arky-ologee club? No. Had we forwarded it to the other club members? Obviously not. Why not…? Then “Norman Stanley” rang. Things aren’t as peachy as they might be in HMP Slade..

Whilst preparing myself a spot of brekky, I found some tea bags in the sugar bowl. I’m told that keeping the two in the same container saves time in the mornings. And then to Facebook whilst scoffing said brekky. Yesterday in Hastings I spent all day lugging around a rucksack full of bottles of beer that I never drank. And I thought it was a shame that I never met up with Andrew and Sandra. Sandra has put up a photo of me from last night drinking a bottle of that beer. It’s amazing what you miss when you’re not paying attention.

The plan for today was to go to Chip’s house to collect his old telly, but he phoned and said he’d bring it round. I’ve been getting a tad fed up with our old non-widescreen telly. It’s surprising how much of the action of a TV show is happening off the edge of our screen. Chip was getting a new telly, and said we could have his old one. There was a minor hiccup – the stand it came with was four inches too big to fit into the space we had. And so to Argos to collect a TV stand. I had this idea that we could be to Argos, back and have the tellys swapped over in an hour. I forgot about the fun that is flat-packed furniture. Mind you, over the years the quality of flat packed furniture instructions has improved. I got the new stand together in less than two hours. And then I turned the telly on. It didn’t work. So I re-tuned it. Nothing. Not a sausage. So I wondered if I had the right scart lead plugged in – I had half a dozen to choose from.

It was at this point that I got the red mist, and stripped all the shelves off. We have so much rubbish in the living room. Over the years, if a scart lead has been a bit iffy, we’ve just got a new one and left the old one in place. I dinged out half a dozen assorted leads from behind the Sky box, to say nothing of a VHS deck, amplifier, tape deck and CD player that aren’t connected to anything. They can go into the attic for later. With the spaghetti of cables simplified to those that were actually doing something, the TV started working. The “on” switch is being somewhat problematical (in that it don’t work), but judicious fiddling with the program button does the trick.

And now it’s Sunday evening. Time to write to the chokey again.

17 October 2009 (Saturday) - Hastings Bonfire

Together with Brian we got the train to Hastings. ‘er indoors TM phoned just as we got off the train. Where were we? I said we were going for a pint of lunch, and she said she’d join us. So we walked up to the FILO where they had a beer festival on, and ordered two pints of the house mild. And then my mobile went. Her exact words were “how far have you got?”, so I replied “half way through the first pint”. What she actually meant was “where are you?” – I’d apparently said I was going to the kite flying before going to the pub. I don’t know why she’d ever have thought that. But soon she was in the pub with us. Together with friends from far and wide, including Kev with whom I went to Boys Brigade all those years ago.

After four pints of the mild, we thought we’d brave the beer festival selection, and had a storming pint of something black from a barrel, before going back onto the mild. At the gallon point, it was time for chips, and so to the Blue Dolphin chip shop where we met up with more friends and more family. Suitably fed, we then joined the thronging thousands to cheer the bonfire procession.

Hastings bonfire procession can be a bit of a scrum. It’s quite easy to lose people in the crowds. Especially when you are part of a party of nearly thirty people. And even more so when (for no adequately explained reason) you are feeling the need to tiddle every few minutes. But the procession was fun, the fireworks were good, and I think (hope) I managed to say goodbye to everyone before sleeping all the way home.

Same time next year….