31 March 2010 (Wednesday) - Not So Dull

I was woken at silly o’clock this morning by a strange sound. I pulled the duvet over my head and went back to kip. It transpired that the strange sound was the rain coming through the hole in the roof: we would seem to have acquired such a hole. That’s a nuisance. I phoned the house insurance people and they have arranged for someone to get in touch with me about said hole. Let’s hope he does it soon – it’s doesn’t look like the rain will stop any time soon.

I then phoned the bank for the sixth time since last Friday and was rude to them. I demanded to speak to someone in my branch, and firmly explained to the chap at the call centre that he could not help me for two reasons. Firstly if he couldn’t pronounce my name he clearly couldn’t speak English. And secondly because he had a script to follow; and the answers to my questions didn’t appear on his script. He eventually admitted that his hesitant and incoherent gibbering as a response to my points completely proved both of them to be valid. And so, conceding defeat, he put me through to someone at my local branch.

I explained the episode which happened to me last Friday – namely that they had refused a payment made on my credit card, and that they had deactivated the account until I told them that I changed the PIN. Having done all that they asked of me, it later turned out that they had actually accepted the payment they told me that they had refused and furthermore denied having had any conversations with me. I wanted to know what was going on. A reasonable enough request?

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing the lady at my local branch admitted that they had no record of any problem with my card, and no record of having put a stop on it on Friday. They had absolutely no explanation whatsoever of what had gone wrong. I’m not impressed…

We had a buffet lunch at work today. One of the secretarial types is retiring. Apropos of nothing I then phoned the finance department to see when I can retire. The calculation of my pension is complicated. I get 1/80 of my final year’s wages as a pension for each year I’ve worked, up to a maximum of 40/80 after forty years. I’ll hit that point on 10 September 2021 (not that I’m counting). However on that date I shall only be 57 (and a bit). I’m not entitled to the full whack unless I retire at or after sixty years of age. But there is a calculation whereby I can get a reduced pension if I choose to retire any time after my fiftieth birthday. I’ve always said that I plan to retire when I’m in my late fifties. I need to do some sums.

And then to arky-ologee club. Due to the vagaries of Operation Stack, ‘er indoors TM found herself stuck on a motorway, and so I was drafted to be her stunt double for the evening. It was my job to take notes on the interesting and informative talk we’d been promised, and it’s no secret that I went along fully expecting to fall asleep. Tonight’s talk on the Historical Environment Record looked to be amongst the dullest talks the club had ever presented; and that was up against some pretty stiff competition.

I was wrong – the chap from Kent County Council was actually very good. He told us about the project to form an index of all sites of historical interest in Kent. With 42,000 current entries, and a backlog of data waiting to be added that will take an estimated two years to clear (that’s without anything new being found), the website is quite impressive. The chap mentioned inaccuracies in the records of various historical sources, and told us of some of the thousands of shipwrecks around the Kent coast. He showed us aerial photographs dating back over fifty years showing land forms that showed things of archaeological importance.

He then asked for help with the project. Firstly to check that what they have got is actually correct. Secondly to come up with new objects for their listings – either stuff that’s not listed but known to people, or stuff that we dig out of the ground ourselves. And thirdly to actually go up to the office at County Hall and help them enter the data onto the web site. A shame it’ss not possible to do this from home….

Yesterday was dull – today, not so….

30 March 2010 (Tuesday) - Dull....

The high spot of my professional life today was a discussion on who would be the putative winner of a hypothetical fight between a “sooki la-la” and a “raw prawn”. Having failed to reach a decision, the rest of the afternoon was spent arguing about how many fingers and toes Brian Blessed has lost to frostbite during his arctic and mountaineering exploits. I was unaware that he’d lost any extremities, and the Internet was not forthcoming on the subject. All I could find was that he’d done his foot in a parachuting accident. If any of my loyal readers could shed any light on how many bits (if any) Mr B has lost, please let me know.

I came home from work to a present -My Boy TM ” has acquired a whole load of plastic jobbies to go into the fish poo filter. They will come in handy. I fed the fish in the rain – they don’t know it’s raining. I wish the rain would stop – I need to do something about the flat roof again, and can’t all the time it’s raining. The chodbin’s still mucking about too. If any of my loyal readers are a dab-hand with toilets, please don't keep it a secret.

Some days of my life can be rather dull…

29 March 2010 (Monday) - Cake

Having spent much of the weekend doing gardening, it strikes me that the casual reader finding this blog by chance may form the idea that I like gardening. This is not the case at all. To me my garden is like my tattoos. I really like the look of them, but the actual process of getting them to the stage where they are worth looking at is extremely painful. And rather dull. There are people who enjoy pottering around in gardens. I do not. Which is why most of my garden is gravelled, and why I have only a relatively small lawn. My father has a beautiful garden, and he spends hours in it every day keeping it in shape. Over the years I have developed my garden to be very low maintenance, and if any of my loyal readers have any suggestions about how to reduce the maintenance even more (without bulldozing the lot), I’m all ears.

Daddies Little Angel TM ” had been home to see the quack, and needed transporting back to the coast this evening. Following a frank exchange of views about which was the quickest way, we made a detour to find tea and cake waiting for us. Tea and cake is always good, and once that was scoffed it was then home (via a thunderstorm) to waste an evening in NeverWinter.

28 March 2010 (Sunday) - More Garden

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that I might (only might) have overdone the stout last night. However I’m blaming the excessive garden work yesterday for my feeling somewhat less than 100% this morning.

After a quick bit of bread pudding I was back in the garden. Yesterday’s edging looks excellent (if I do say so myself), but the older edging stones looked a bit squafty – over the years they have settled and all gone crooked in different directions, so I spent a while straightening them up. It might have been useful to have had some loose soil to re-point the edgings. And to think I nearly ruptured myself lugging all that soil to the tip yesterday.

Before mowing the lawn I had a break for some bread pudding. Mowing the lawn is a dull job, but the garden looks so much better for having had a haircut. I then kicked the gravel off of the paving stones – another simple job that makes the garden look so much better afterwards. I found that keeping moving made my aching joints hurt that little bit less.

A quick cup of coffee and some bread pudding and then it was fish feeding time – I seem to be succeeding in getting the Koi to take food from my hand – there was quite a stampede for my hand full of fish food. Whilst playing with the fish I saw the pond has acquired a resident frog – quite a tubby looking beast. I think I must have startled the frog when taking a photo – she jumped into the pond, and seemed to be having a lot of trouble getting out again. In fact I don’t think she could have got out, so I netted her and popped her into a water feature where she is still sitting quite happily. I’ll leave that one switched off for a while

By the time I’d scraped the lawn mower clean and put it away. It was time to leave for Brighton. Or, to be more precise I’d planned to leave for Brighton once the garden stuff was done. But a combination of not getting out of bed early enough combined with forgetting to put the clocks forward meant that I had left it far too late to get to Brighton for 1pm. I phoned my apologies to the A.G.M., and hoped I wasn’t missed. Normally I have a very good sense of time, and pride myself on never being late. But this weekend seems to have gone by so fast.

More bread pudding, and then since Brighton wasn’t going to happen, I got on with next Saturday’s garden job – acquiring a garden statue to replace the water feature I’d moved yesterday. I think “Dave the Lizardy Thing” looks quite cool, and whilst we at it, we got some elves on a see-saw and some Meercats too.

Pausing only briefly for some bread pudding I fed the fish again, and then wondered about the soalr powered lights in the garden. I’m not sure that they’ve survived the winter, but bearing in mind they were cheap tat from the pound shop, I think a trip back to the pound shop to replace them might be a plan for another day.

Oh – did I mention ‘er indoors TM had made some bread pudding?

27 March 2010 (Saturday) - Garden and Party

The plan for the day was garden work, and when I have something planned for the day I’m always awake early. I checked the weather forecast over a bit of brekky, and apparently rain was due for 9am. I looked out of the window - the weather looked OK, and there were a couple of hours until the forecast rain, so I thought I’d make a start whilst I could. I got all of the right hand side fencing fixed that I had intended to by 9am. And with no sign of the forecast rain I decided to crack on with the other fence too. By the time Luke arrived to help with the heavy lifting I had two gravel boards in place, and edged and membraned three quarters of what needed doing. We soon got the edging done and ran out of membrane, so shopping was required.

Since we needed to drive, we thought we’d take the excess soil I’d dug to the tip. Soil is heavy stuff. It was heavy enough as I was hoiking it into the compost bin, but when we came to lift the compost bin, we could barely budge it. We certainly turned red whilst carrying the thing through the house, and heaving it into the boot of the car took some doing. And when we got the compost bin to the tip… oh dear! We managed to get it out of thecar. With superhuman effort we dragged it as far as the garden waste skip, but the lip of the skip is about four feet high. We heaved and strained and struggled. It took up over ten minutes to lift the thing high enough to empty it. And when we had emptied it the smell was awful. Terrible. So bad that we chucked the compost bin itself into the tip.

To Bybrook Barn for more membrane, a replacement compost bin, some gravel and clippers for guinea pig claws. We weren’t sure how much gravel we’d need, so we carefully calculated our requirements. We then thought that what we’d worked out didn’t seem anywhere near enough so we kept piling bags of gravel into the trolley until the frame started to bend.

Home for hot cross buns and coffee before going back to the garden. After a quick dose of paint we got the last edging done and then we were ready for the gravel. Except that the gravel was still in the boot of the car. More heavy lifting, but this time with girls helping it seemed much easier. After twenty minutes’ effort we used every last bit of gravel. We had guessed and bought exactly the right amount – another triumph of pot luck over common sense. As we did the last job I had planned for today (moving a very heavy water feature), the heavens opened. We’d timed that exactly right, and the gravel needed a good dose of rain to wash it all off. I have lots more to do in the garden, but I’d reached a point of “enough”. By now it was 3pm. Where had the day gone? – I’d thought it was about 12.30pm.

A quick trip to Sainsbury’s for stout, porter and mabilu (!) and then into the shower to prepare for tonight. The clans had gathered for a surprise birthday party. Maria had excelled herself in the kitchen, and we chatted and drank to the wee small hours….

26 March 2010 (Friday) - Phone Calls, Saturn

‘er indoors TM tried to use my credit card this afternoon. Tried, and failed. The bank refused payment. They then sent me a text to tell me to get in touch with their fraud prevention office. After a lot of mucking about I finally got through to someone who’s spoken English was marginally better than my spoken Punjabi. I eventually figured out that they were trying to tell me that my credit card was among thousands they thought had been cloned. I would have thought that they would have warned me of this the moment they realised what had happened. They did not. Instead they just put a stop on the card and waited for it to get refused before doing anything about it. They didn’t seem at all bothered about the inconvenience and embarrassment this had caused me, and they told me that they would continue to refuse to honour the card until I changed the PIN, and told them that I had done so. I’ve now done that – I shall see if the new PIN works tomorrow.

And then another phone call from another person who could barely speak English. This one was from my mobile phone company. Would I like to have a second mobile phone contract with them at a reduced rate? They weren’t offering to reduce my current payments, but wanted me to get a second phone with them. I asked the obvious question. “Why would I want a second phone?” For some reason this question wasn’t included in her script, and so she tried to jibber on with her rehearsed spiel. But I wasn’t having any of it. I asked how many conversations she thought I could conduct simultaneously. She then realised I didn’t want a second phone, and seemed amazed I was turning down such a bargain.

To the astronomy club. Today is three years (to the day) since the club started. Going back through blog entries from a while back, it’s no secret that the club had a very shaky start, but now it’s going from strength to strength. With over seventy paid up members, tonight saw the launch of the club’s solar telescope, a presentation by one of the youngest members on his astro-photography and an invitation for the club to visit the large telescope at Cranbrook school. The highlight of the evening (I’m reliably informed) was my talk on the planet Saturn; most of which I shamelessly blagged from the Internet. This was the eighth talk I’ve given to the astro club, and in retrospect it was somewhat tamer that my usual spiels. Mind you it did feature the Death Star (from Star Wars), Doom Bar ale and a rant about our government. I hope the punters were amused. I’m told that edited highlights might appear on You-Tube at some point…

And so home to check my emails. A message from Facebook – one of my cousins has found me. Over the years I’ve lost touch with so many of my family. The Internet is a great way of keeping in touch…

25 March 2010 (Thursday) - Another Rant (Sorry)

I’ve now got my lawn edgings from WyeVale. My visit there was rather dull, marred only by the checkout girl asking if I was a member of their gardening club. Normally such a question would be met with the reply “do you want a fight?!”, but having such a card gives you a discount of ten per cent off the cost, so (much as I am ashamed to admit) I’ve got one of them. In my defence, ‘er indoors TM made me get it several months ago.

I’ve also got my membrane as well. All I need now is the gravel, and I can get on with the next phase of the garden. Luke came round after work this evening to help me shift some statuary and water features in readiness for getting on with this next garden project, but again rain stopped play. Which was probably for the best.

And then I read the news websites. People who find my blog by chance, or are referred to it by friends before they meet me have told me that I come over as a very intolerant person. I’d like to think that I’m rather tolerant of most of humanity, but it has to be said that some people with whom I share this world are just plain stupid.

Take the chap who hacked into President Obama’s Twitter account (among other crimes). He claimed he was doing it to highlight security failures. Rubbish!! He faces a two year jail sentence if found guilty. He should face execution (!)

A few years ago when computers were toys, then maybe, just maybe this idiot might have had a case. But nowadays when computers are such a major part of society, can anyone claim to be hacking into my PC for a laugh? They’d be far more likely to be seeing if I was dumb enough to put my banking passwords where they might be found. After all, does anyone break into a bank to expose the shortcomings in the vault’s integrity? Hackers aren’t errant children any more. They are criminals, and should be dealt with as such…

24 March 2010 (Wednesday) - Visiting the G.P.

Daddies Little Angel TM ” had a blackout yesterday, so she popped up to the local hospital (in Folkestone). They determined she was in no immediate danger of death, but said to see her GP urgently. She phoned the GP who said to shove off and not to bother them. When she insisted, they said to phone back in a day or so. A while later I got wind of this, and phoned the GP to rant at them myself. I explained to the receptionist that we weren’t to be fobbed off, and I was not sorry for being rude, because being rude gets appointments quicker. She agreed, and she said that that because I’d used the magic words “make a formal complaint” they would see us within the hour. That prompted another rant because I wasn’t able to leave work to collect the patient then. But had the receptionist offered this appointment in the first place we could have taken it. She suggested we tried again in the morning.

So we were on the doorstep of the surgery as it opened this morning, and “Daddies Little Angel TM ” was seen right away. ECGs and blood tests will have to wait for a fortnight though. As I sat and waited I couldn’t help but wonder what infirmities were besetting the bunch of workshy layabouts who were haunting the doctor’s waiting room.

This morning’s radio had an article about how GPs workloads are escalating out of control. GPs interviewed were concerned about the growing numbers of “worried well” – people with nothing wrong with them who insist on seeing their GP every time they so much as fart. It was mentioned that of every hundred people who see the GP every day, ninety get better regardless of anything that the doctor does.

I remember a conversation with a friend who lives in the Channel Isles. There is a charge to see the GP over there. Once you’ve paid up, then you get treated for your maladies, but having to stump up forty quid seems to keep the malingerers at bay…

23 March 2010 (Tuesday) - Literature and Sculpture

A while ago I was in a hotel in St Leonards having a literary discussion with several pretentious types I’d met at the bar. One of whom was handing out his calling card – he was fashioning himself as “The Bard”. I often go under various pseudonyms so I suppose I have no grounds for undermining another for using an alias. But “The Bard”? Perhaps it was as well that I was a tad tipsy.

The pretentious were extolling the virtues of various accomplished authors. Initially “The Bard” and his entourage had looked down their noses at the tattooed thug (me!) who’d dared to express an opinion on the matter. But their attitude changed when they realised that I’d met the poet laureate, and that one of my offspring was a published poet. The conversation moved onto preferred genres of literature, and I remarked that I liked a good biography. Those who like the sound of their own voices had all sorts of meaningless big words and phrases to explain the relevance of biography to today’s gestalt and zeitgeist (whatever that means). By this time the ale was beginning to kick in, I’d had enough pretension, and I left them with the remark that I like biography because basically I’m a thoroughly nosey bugger and I want to find out what other people are getting up to.

Which is why today I’m rather glad to see a commitment from one of my loyal readers to blog more himself. I subscribe to a dozen different blogs of friends, and I love seeing what’s going on in other people’s lives. I’m looking forward to being even more nosey.

Another late start meant I needed another lame excuse not to do anything in the garden. This time I will go with “Rain Stopped Play”. Instead I mucked about in NeverWinter. Having threatened to visit WyeVale today, I set off early, and thought I’d call into the builder’s centre on the way to get more gravel boards. I’m not sure how, but buying gravel boards took over half an hour, and I didn’t have time for WyeVale. Which was probably for the best. I’ll call in tomorrow, and hope I don’t regret it.

And so to work, where during a dull day I found my likeness (pictured above) immortalised in packing squiggles. I’m told the resemblance is uncanny…

22 March 2010 (Monday) - Still in the Garden

Yesterday evening I spent an hour in a virtual castle, being utterly unable to find a way to open a door. Today the same problem took me two minutes. Sometimes I hate NeverWinter Nights.

Being on (yet another) late start I had considered using my time wisely. The plan for the morning involved more fence work, but I had the excuse that I might hit unexpected difficulties. I didn’t want to have to leave the job half way done when I had to leave for work. I therefore decided it best to wait until I had more time. The fact that I couldn’t be bothered was neither here nor there.

Talking of “couldn’t be bothered”, another morning job I had planned involved shifting some heavy water features round the garden, but my assistant couldn’t be bothered to get his bum out of bed. It would seem he also had much the same attitude about the washing up I’d left for him.

Interestingly ‘er indoors TM had done her assigned task, and had taken all the glass jars and bottles for recycling. Last night’s rant must have worked.

I then spent some time hand-feeding the Koi. They seem to be getting the hang of being hand-fed, but haven’t quite got posing for the camera as sussed as they might have.

And then to Bybrook Barn. Having got the fence on one side of the garden half-way fixed I’ve got a plan to similarly board the bottom of the other fence and put in a gravelled area too. So I thought I’d price up to see how much the project would cost. After all, as my critics say I have very little money sense, and if I don’t spend this month’s wages wisely on the garden I’ll only have another tattoo done, or spend it all on beer (again). I’ve estimated that the boards, gravel & membrane will set me back sixty quid. But there’s a minor hiccup in that Bybrook Barn have sold out of edging stones. Against my better judgement, I shall have a look in WyeVale tomorrow.

21 March 2010 (Sunday) - Fences and Ponds

I woke early and thought I’d visit the loo before I might go back to bed for a lie in. Having got up I decided that if I shaved, it might save time later. I then changed the dressing on my tattoo, and put the telly on whilst I was doing it. Having seen the start of an episode of SpongeBob, I had to watch it to its conclusion. I then wanted to see how the pond was doing, and noticed that the filter was beginning to overflow. Having chucked in something to get rid of all the green algae last week I’d overlooked the fact that the dead algae had to go somewhere. Namely into the filter. So I then spent an hour cleaning out the filter, before reactivating the filtration system and pouring in yesterday’s bottle of flocculant.

Whilst having a spot of brekky I realised that it was getting on for 10am, and was probably a tad late to go back to bed for a lie-in. Lie-ins only give me back ache anyway. So I decided to crack on in the garden and get the gravel boards into place on the fence. Whilst getting my fence ingredients out of the shed I found a bottle of flocculant left over from last year. So yesterday I’d wasted twelve quid. Ho hum…

To the fence, where I raked up loads of gravel, put the membranes in place, screwed a board over the top of the membrane, painted the board and replaced the gravel. Easy enough to type, but rather physical work to do. Mind you, it only took an hour and the result didn’t look too bad, and it will add a few years life to the fence. By the time I’d done the third fence panel I was a bit cold, aching rather badly and the rain had started, so I decided that with the job half done I’d give up and come back later. Using the electric drill in the rain isn’t a good idea.

I then took a handful of fish food to the pond and tried to get the Koi to take the food from my hand. They did – I got nibbled and sucked by several of the larger fish.

I then had a sarnie for lunch and fell asleep. I got my lie-in eventually, and was dozing contentedly until ‘er indoors TM kicked me awake and we went on the now obligatory Sunday afternoon trip to Lidl. I quite like Lidl – the food is cheap, and they have a selection of tat for sale. Binoculars, screwdrivers, tents, something different every week. All sorts of cheap stuff of varying quality.

We then visited Heather and Andy who were getting rid of some books, and had offered us anything we fancied. The book “I am Legend” is one I’ve been meaning to read for many years, but have never got round to. Now I have my chance; I hope I won’t be disappointed.

Back home to carry on training the fish. In the past we’ve been rather sporadic in trying to get them to eat from our hands, and they’ve usually been too frightened to do so. Bearing in mind they have only just started eating after the winter, the theory is that they should be hungry enough to take food regardless of me being so close. The theory seems to be working so far…

20 March 2010 (Saturday) - Tattoos and Beer

I didn’t sleep well. That’s nothing new. But last night I was laying awake dreading this morning. A few weeks ago I decided to get a tattoo done. Eagle eyed readers might notice a slight discrepancy between this blog entry and the one from a few weeks ago when I had my most recent tattoo started. A few weeks ago I miscounted. My large sleeve on my right leg is actually my eighteenth tattoo, and today was my twenty third time under the tattooing needle

Bearing in mind I had my first one done some time in 1982 and during the intervening years I have had another seventeen done (to say nothing of time spent on recent touch-ups of old fading tattoos), I really should have known what I was letting myself in for. Well, I did. I knew it was going to hurt. But the trouble with a tattoo is that once it’s started you can’t give up half way through, or it will look stupid. My latest one is by far the largest I’ve ever had, and so is probably the most painful; not only just the needle, but the backache I get for lying on the couch for so long.

Today’s session only lasted for an hour and a bit, and I made a point of laying flat out so’s my back wouldn’t be twisted. And the tattooing did hurt. But on the plus side was the fact that they told me that I’d already paid for the tattoo last time. I thought today’s session would be extra, but it was all included in the price. So despite the pain, I hobbled out of the studio with a smile on my face. The thing is pictured above – I feel I should say that the red in the tattoo is nowhere near as vivid as it looks on the picture, and that it will all dull down in time.

Whilst under the needle the tattooists were chatting with another customer about pain-free tattooing. Apparently for smaller pieces you can apply anaesthetic gel beforehand, and the anaesthetic lasts for about forty minutes. After forty minutes it wears off and it hurts twice as bad, which is why they don’t recommend it on larger works. I was fascinated by the whole idea, and I’m tempted to get one of my older tattoos coloured in using this stuff, if only to see what happens.

I came home to find ‘er indoors TM dismantling the chodbin. It’s not been flushing right for some time, and bearing in mind what a sterling job she made of fixing the thing last time, I suggested she might like to fix it again. She’s been having problems with rusty nuts and her ballcock; it would seem to have swollen over the years and now is too big for the cistern in which it sits.

I’d rather pay a plumber to do the job, but it’s been my experience of plumbers that they simply don’t want to do the jobs that they claim they will do in their advertisements. No matter what job I ask plumbers to do, they always say they aren’t interested. And there’s supposedly a recession on.

The original plan for the day was to go kite flying at Hastings. But as I’d not heard anything about this for a while I booked the tattoo appointment a week or so ago. Having made the appointment I then found the kiting event confirmed, so I made all sorts of plans to get to Hastings via train, car and scrounging lifts depending on what time my tattoo was finished. And then the kiting was cancelled because of the forecast bad weather.

Daddies Little Angel TM ” came home with her entourage, and bearing in mind that with this morning’s tattoo being somewhat cheaper than I’d planned, at the last minute I treated everyone to dinner at the pub. The Swan in Wittersham is somewhere I’ve been a few times, and despite the ale selection I hadn’t felt very comfortable there on my last few visits. Today was a great improvement on my last visit. With friendly locals, we kicked off with Rother Valley’s “Smild”, followed by Dark Star’s “American Pale Ale” with a wonderful plate of steak and kidney pudding with chips. Back to the Rother Valley brewery for pint number three – “Honey Fuzz”, and then to the Westerham brewery for “WGV” to enjoy with dessert. I’ve been dismissive of the Swan before, but the food and ale was good. And more importantly it’s lost that “Royston Vasey” vibe it had a couple of years ago. Also four of us ate and drank more and cheaper than three of us did in another pub last weekend.

We hadn’t picked the Swan at random. It was (relatively) close to the pond shop in Rolvenden. So we called in for some flocculant. We spent a few minutes looking at ponds and planning gardens people’s gardens for them before coming home via the Bull in Bethersden. Another pub of which I’ve been dismissive in the past, but unfortunately today I saw nothing to change my opinion of the place. The tables are all still disgustingly sticky, and the place is full of “the Great Unwashed”. Literally unwashed – one of our number asked if there was a colliery nearby as the noisy locals were all rather grubby. I say “rather grubby” – I mean outright filthy. Mind you, the place is at a decent cycling distance. I may well give it another chance.

And then home to find My Boy TM ” has also had a tattoo done today. By the same chap who did my one…

19 March 2010 (Friday) - Rather Dull, Really

One of my colleagues had mentioned that he *really* doesn’t like the song “Dancing Queen” by Abba. I’m glad he’d done that, so’s we could be sure that the track didn’t get played at work by mistake. Another colleague brought in the CD, and I spent the day egging others on to play the song, then I would grass them up.

Rather childish, but it brightened an otherwise dull day. I put an album of the event on Facebook, and it’s proved to be one of the most popular things I’ve ever done there.

My Boy TM ” has announced he intends to take up horticulture. Together with the mate what got arrested at Xmas and “Pie-Man” he intends to grow a harvest of strawberries and potatoes. The three of them intend to go round the garden centres for advice over the weekend. I advised them to save their efforts and buy their veg from the supermarket like I do.

And then with another “offspring free” evening we sat down with wine, port and cheese to watch a DVD. Hic !

18 March 2010 (Thursday) - Hot Cross Buns. And Aliens

I was again up at silly o’clock and doing more ironing. I’ve always worn a shirt & tie to work, and each shirt takes five minutes to iron. I had eight to do today, which took just over forty minutes. I was chatting with a friend a week or so ago who told me that he pays someone else to iron his shirts for him. He pays one pound per shirt. I could do that as a little earner (!)

To Asda where I thought I’d get some hot cross buns for work. Having no idea how much they cost, I asked for a fiver’s worth. I got sixty for that - I was quite impressed. Whist scoffing one, it was gently hinted to me that I’d been somewhat inconsiderate in buying hot cross buns. I was (apparently) being discriminatory to the non-christians in the workplace. One lives and learns. I might bring in Cadbury’s mini-eggs next to see if they also offend. Hopefully they will.

Last Thursday I mentioned about the students we had visiting the workplace. We had some more today. One of them was a celebrity – “Alien” out of the Alien movies. Or (at least) I thought so: her head was the right shape. One of the lads was a touch dainty, and nearly came over a little queer at one point. Bless. How can you be on the third year of a degree all about blood and not be able to stand the sight of the stuff? And two young lady students found it difficult to restrain from showing their affection for each other in very physical ways. They were all over each other like a rash. I really thought they were going to start snogging each other whilst I explained the mysteries of blood’s ability to clot. Shocking!!

And then out for a crafty half at the Hooden in Great Chart. I’ve never been there on a weekday evening before – the place was full with diners, but there was a corner for me and a mate to enjoy a crafty half (or four). I won’t go into detail about what I was up to, but in a year or so’s time I predict that I will compose a blog entry about a book which will be published then. And I will be gloating that I contributed (albeit in a small way) to that book…

17 March 2010 (Wednesday) - Another Day

Up with the lark and on with the ironing. I’ve not done any for over a week. After half an hour’s ironing there was a frantic clattering at the front door. I assumed it was one or other of the fruits of my loin coming home, but as I went to open the door I recognised my next door neighbour through the glass. My heart sank as I saw a hand written note fall to the door mat as he walked off. Over the years relations with next door have been fraught (at best). I spoke with the chap at the weekend about the repairs I planned to make to his fence, and at the time all seemed well. However yesterday I’d switched on the pond filter. It had been switched off over the winter, and during that time he’d made comments implying that my pond was the cause of the local rat problem. I was fully expecting his note to be a demand for me to turn off the filter and fill the pond in. Instead it was a polite request that I use screws rather than nails to repair the fence.

On reading this, the whole incident must seem trivial, but the sense of dread I had when I saw him posting a note, and the sense of relief when I realised that all was well was indescribable.

I then had some excitement. Terry Farrell is coming to Ashford. To me Terry Farrell is a rather foxy fit bird out of Star Trek. I was out of luck. Apparently there are several different Terry Farrells. The one we’re getting is an architect, and quite frankly rather a disappointment compared to what I was hoping for. Such is life. Mind you, the Cheeky Girls and Ulrika-ka-ka have all been to Ashford only to be heckled by “My Boy TM”, so I expect it will all be for the best.

And having a brat-free evening we settled down to watch “Airheads” on DVD whilst consuming far too much red wine and port. A tough job, but someone has to do it…