31 December 2020 (Thursday) - New Year's Eve (?)

Despite a rather vivid nightmare in which I had been charged with running the work’s pantomime (Avenue Q) at incredibly short notice I slept well, waking only a minute or so before the alarm.

I came downstairs and chivvied Sid round the garden where he tiddled, wandered around, then bimbled back into the kitchen; finally dropping turds as he came in. Just as I finished clearing up so Fudge came downstairs. At least he is capable of going outside unsupervised.


I did my COVID-19 test; despite having been jabbed I still have to do them every four days. Then as I scoffed brekkie I watched an episode of “Motherland” before having my daily morning perusal of the Internet. There was a minor squabble kicking off on one of the local Facebook pages in which a well-meaning young mother had tried to organise a charity cake sale and was getting rather harsh criticism from some misery-guts who clearly had no intention of doing anything public-spirited. As I have said before, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

My Facebook feed featured adverts for a local milkman. I suppose he’s not *that* much more expensive than the supermarket, but I can remember walking to school back in the day when doorstep deliveries of milk were commonplace. For those of my loyal readers who are too young to remember, back in the days when dinosaurs walked the Earth, milkmen would drive round at silly o’clock in the morning delivering milk. They would leave it on your doorstep so that when you got up you’d have milk waiting for you. However the local blue tits would peck open the bottles to get at the milk, and bottles on the doorstep were fair game for passing schoolkids – not to drink but to throw around.

I sent out birthday wishes, and got ready for work.


Just as I was finishing scraping the ice from my car one of the normal people came past walking his dog. I was rather impressed - I couldn't see my wolf-pack getting their arses out of bed quite so early in the morning. I said "Hello Pup" to the dog (as I do to most dogs), and that clearly put the wind up the normal person. He sort-of squirmed, and with a very sickly smile muttered "good morning sir" and hurried off as quickly as he could.


I drove half a mile out of my way to Hawks Way where there was a geocache I'd not found before. Bearing in mind there is usually an e-souvenir to be had for logging a find on New Year's Eve I thought a quick find wouldn't hurt.

I found the cache - I didn't get an e-souvenir. After a little farting about I found out that this year the e-souvenir wasn't just for New Year's Eve - it was for any time in the last week of the year and I'd actually received it on Monday afternoon whilst rummaging in a hedgerow five miles from my mother's house.

I've rather got out of geocaching recently. Since all the lock-downs and tiers we've not been able to meet up, and the on-line geo-places have been invaded by the keyboard warriors.  So many hobbies are spoiled by those who don't actually do the hobby but stir up arguments about it instead. When lock-downs lift things will improve as there is no way any of the rather nasty people seemingly infesting cyberspace would ever want to meet anyone in person, but for now hunting Tupperware has become something of a lonely pursuit.


As I drove up the motorway the Education Minister was being interviewed on the radio... I say "being interviewed"; "being harangued" might have been a more accurate description of what was going on. For all that he is a bit of a tit, he did sum up the frustration I was feeling when he (rather tersely) snapped at his inquisitor "... if I could be allowed to finish a single sentence". However at that point the interviewer actually closed her mouth and let him speak more than a few words, thereby allowing him to prove what a twit he was. Not only did he claim that black was white and shit was sugar,  he said that schools both would and would not re-open in January. He claimed that all the problems of the schools would be solved by the troops that were being deployed to assist, even though there would only be one thousand five hundred troops spread out over the nation's three thousand four hundred (and something) secondary schools. Having a degree in mathematics, I've worked that out to be one soldier for every two (and a bit) schools. And the minister was rather vague about exactly what these soldiers would be doing in the schools anyway.

But, as I've said before, it is easy to knock the government. How many of us have ever stood up for public office? Personally I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Throwing rocks from the sidelines is so much easier.


I got to work rather later than usual and (as ever) did my bit. Today I had something of a "platelet clumps" day and may well wax loquacious about the things elsewhere on the Internet over the next few days.


I came home to a very clingy dog. Fudge was very quiet and subdued and wouldn’t leave my side. I think he’s sickening for something.

"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with probably far too much giggle juice. Usually New Year’s Eve is a gathering of the clans in Folkestone for Spanish New Year, but COVID-19 had put paid to that for this year. The plan is a Zoom cyber-meet-up for midnight… if we are still awake.


And that’s it for another year… At the beginning of the year I wrote “Here’s hoping for the future…

This last year has been an odd one.

It started very well with a bracing walk on New Year’s Day. I ran what I thought was a very good geo-meet in February. We had a particularly good few days away in Cambridgeshire over my birthday. We had a very good week away in Wiltshire over the summer. Interspersed with this were quite a few weekend walks.

I could have done so much more if not for that global pandemic which rather pissed on everyone’s chips… Realistically it will pogger up 2021 probably just as much as it did 2020. I have a naïve optimism about life. I try to hope for the best whilst expecting the worst. It is a philosophy which seems to work… and I think that it will be rather applicable for the next few months…

30 December 2020 (Wednesday) - Happy Birthday Sid

Someone was snoring for much of the night. "er indoors TM" or one of the dogs? Whoever it was, I wish they would be quiet next time.

I finally nodded off just before the alarm went off and came downstairs maybe thirty seconds too late to get Sid into the garden (bless him!)


I watched another episode of “Motherland” as I scoffed a bowl of granola, then had my morning rummage round the Internet. Facebook was on the dull side. No one was squabbling at all, which was probably for the best. Other than aliens having phoned from Alpha Centauri, pretty much nothing at all had happened overnight (and it later transpired that the aliens were a false alarm).

I sent out birthday wishes, then got myself ready for work.


Pausing only briefly for Munzee purposes I went off to find my car. It was easy to find - it was the one under all the ice. Five minutes of vigorous scraping soon got it ready to go and I set off work-wards. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about various countries’ attitudes toward taxation and funding of public services. Great show was made of the American tax system in which tax rates are very low compared to other countries; the idea being a very small state-run sector is a good thing. If the public want anything at all they can pay for it from private sector suppliers on an as-needed-for-profit basis. For example why should I fund schools when my children stopped going to them fifteen years ago? Or why should I pay for the hospitals which I use oh-so-rarely?

Personally I don't hold with this school of thought – Take the hospitals that I don’t use very often. When I do use them (like my nasal surgery or my dodgy hip of last year) I run up a bill of thousands which I am very glad that I don’t have to pay myself. And following on from that example... Veterinary care is provided by the private sector here in the UK and is a microcosm of the pay-as-you-need-it American healthcare system.  Fudge's iffy kidneys cost me the thick end of sixty quid a month. As it was pointed out on the radio, American health care is effectively a luxury for the rich.


As I did my bit at work so my phone rang. It was my local hospital. I had an out-patient appointment with then in a few weeks' time as a follow-up to the surgery I'd had done on my nose last year. They'd phoned me to cancel the appointment. They've cancelled all out-patient appointment for January. That's a tad worrying - so much for the COVID-deniers, eh?


With work done I came home and spent a little while on the insurance comparison websites. Bearing in mind the savings I made by consolidating mobile phone, telly and internet with Sky, and also bearing in mind I halved the cost of our house building and contents insurance I wondered if I might get a more competitive quote for Fudge.

I couldn’t.

What with his spondylosis and his chronic kidney failure, no company wanted to take him on. We shall stick with what we’ve got as we seem to have little choice.


And in closing, today is Sid’s birthday. He is ten. Of all the dogs he has been in the family the longest and is firmly at the bottom of the pecking order. He’s a lazy little thing, often going to hide when “walkies” is mentioned. He’s a greedy little thing, being first in the queue whenever there is any hint of scraps of food.

He’s ten today.

29 December 2020 (Tuesday) - Back to Work

I slept well, and for once the alarm woke me. I came downstairs to find Sid demanding to be let out of the kitchen. To his disgust he was let out of the kitchen into the garden but having done “that which was expected of him” I let him into the carpeted areas now that he was “empty”.

I made toast and scoffed it whist watching an episode of “Motherland”; yet another series I seem to have missed on its first time around. And with telly watched I peered into the Internet. Facebook was much the same as ever. Those (mostly teachers) who’ve often berated me for supposedly having so much time off work (not seeming to think that night and weekend work counts for anything) were complaining about how endless the Christmas holidays seem to be. Those who live fifty miles from any coast were suddenly experts on the UK fishing industry and were up in arms about the government’s supposed betrayal of the UK’s fishermen in the Brexit deal. Has the UK got any professional fishermen any more? Back in the 1970s the fishmongers of the historic Cinque Port of Hastings were getting their supplies from Billingsgate as the local fishermen didn’t bring in enough to supply the town, let alone the nation.


It was cold as I went off to find my car, but not as cold as it might have been. Again the forecast snow and ice had come to nothing, and I was glad to see the motorway was now open... but probably nowhere near as glad as the drivers that had been stuck on it over the long Christmas break.

As I drove to work today the pundits on the radio were pretty much ignoring the burning issues of the day. Today's guest editor Margaret Atwood (who?) seemed to have an axe to grind about Canadian history.  There was a lot of talk about the persecution of the Inuit (Eskimo) people, likening the early Canadian settlers' treatment of the locals to the Holocaust. Was it that bad? I don't know, but even if it was, what on Earth can be done about it now?


I got to work; I did my thing. At lunchtime I slipped out and joined the queue for the COVID-19 vaccination. I filled in my questionnaire, had a chat with the doctor, had a chat with the nurse, and had the injection. As did a *lot* of other people. It is daft - I don't mind having blood taken. In the past I would let the trainees practice taking blood from me. I am covered in tattoos (and that *hurts*). But I really don't like injections.

And with injection done I sat and carried on doing my thing with a throbbing arm... but the arm which was throbbing was not the one that the injection had gone in to. What was that all about.

Just before I went back to work I posted to Facebook to tell the world that I had had the jab in the hope I might scare up some crackpot reaction. It has to be said that I had been hoping for "you must be mad - no one know what is in that untested muck – my grannie’s cat’s girlfriend said that Elon Musk uses the co-called vaccine to inject you with tracking microchips" reactions from people who have no idea what is in their tattoo ink or what makes their sparkly gin so glittery. But all I got was support and mild jealousy that I got the jab so early. Perhaps the nut-case element were safe in their tin-foil helmets?


I came home via Aldi as I was short on shower gel. Whilst I was at it I got one or two other bits and bobs, and tried not to scream out loud as about fifty or so of the Great Unwashed blundered about utterly   oblivious that there were forty-nine or so other people in the shop. As I walked out a colleague of mine was walking in. I warned her that no one was watching where they were going. The two people following me had the good grace to go red, look at their feet and mumble apologies.


I came home to an empty house… I say “empty” – there were more dogs than sense but "er indoors TM" was missing. I wonder where she’s gone – I wonder who will cook my tea?