30 September 2021 (Thursday) - Early Shift

Nowadays the nights (when I’m not working) seem to follow the same pattern. I sleep for a couple of hours then go to the loo. When I come back I have to shift Treacle out of the warm space I’d left, and in doing so I disturb Pogo who then takes umbrage. What could be a two-minute-tiddle becomes a full-blown “dog episode” and it is rather difficult to get back to sleep after all the excitement.

I didn’t really get back to sleep after last night’s “dog episode”.


I got up whilst it was still dark, and watched an episode of “Drifters” before having a look at the Internet. There was a little to catch up with on one of the Munzee chat threads (I’m leading a Munzee clan again next month), and there were a lot of updates about which local petrol stations had run out of petrol (all of them).

As I walked to the front door so my hand brushed against the radiator. It was warm. We have the things on a thermostat and (apart from cranking it up once a month to make sure it works) this is the first time since last winter that it has been on. Winter must be coming!


It was rather cold as I drove off to work as well. The car's thermometer was reading four degrees and I had the car's heater going for most of the trip to work. This morning there was no queue of traffic up Brookfield Road like there was yesterday, but there was a car parked outside the petrol station pointing against the traffic with its headlights on full beam. I slowed, but being unable to see any reason for the car's dazzling headlights, I turned mine on to full beam too. Whoever it was in that car took the hint and turned their headlights off. As I drove past that car I saw a closed petrol station. I wonder what that car was playing at with his headlights? Silly buggers, probably. It is a game which gets played quite a bit these days.


Amazingly the pundits on the radio were claiming there is no shortage of HGV drivers, and that hauliers are using their extra drivers having leased the government's emergency tanker fleet. Personally I consider this to be a load of old bollox - I don't think that the current government is organised enough to have an emergency tanker fleet, but what do I know?

There was also a lot of talk about student loans. Back in the day only the cleverest of kids went to university, but this was seen as elitist. Every college and polytechnic then got re-branded as a university and suddenly loads of students went to uni... which cost the country a fortune in student grants. Nowadays students get a loan which they repay when they get a job which pays enough, but it would seem the bar has been set too high. It was claimed that fifty-three per cent of student loans never get repaid as the ex-students never get a job which pays enough to reach the repayment threshold.

The obvious answer is to ask why these kids are going to university in the first place. If they are going to get a degree which is of direct relevance to their chosen career then that makes sense. But so many careers these days are "graduate entry" regardless of what degree the students actually have. I've heard that fifty-two per cent of biology graduates go into banking, and that less than two per cent of history graduates do anything remotely historical.

Why don't employers go back forty years and take on trainees with "A" levels (or whatever they call "O" levels these days) and send them to the universities on a day-release option? Like I did? The cost of the education is paid by the employer as part of the student's wages. As a trainee my money wasn't brilliant. In fact at the time I was matey with a chap who worked in an abattoir who earned far more than I did. But as a trainee, part of my wages was having someone else paying for the courses I was studying (and much of the associated costs too).


I got to work for the early shift and had a relatively good day. As good a day as we could have without cake. At lunch time my phone pinged. A new geocache had gone live only three miles from work. As I left work I saw a “Did Not Find” log on that cache. Someone had been out and couldn’t find it. The First to Find was still up for grabs. Mentally composing a rather gloating FTF log I took a minor diversion on my way home and after fifteen minutes scrubbling on the roadside I had to concede that I couldn’t find it either.

Amazingly I was stealthy enough not to attract the attention of the police who were hammering on the door of the house directly over the road from where I was scrubbling.


I came home and collected the dogs. There was a dodgy moment when I opened the car’s boot and, in her impatience, Treacle head-butted the opening door as she leapt in. That made it open a lot faster. She seemed unharmed, but I kept an eye on her as we walked.

We went to Great Chart and walked from the cricket pitch up to the river and back (not going int the river today – too cold). As we walked we saw a few other dogs and all but one encounter passed off well. Each time another dog came close I made the dogs sit and I blew the whistle. My dogs’ attention was on getting a treat, and the other dog walkers could see we were doing something and gave us a wide berth… all but one plank who deliberately led his dog up thinking that there might be a treat going for his dog too. When it all blew over I explained (in a tone of voice that I would use with a petulant toddler) that my dogs can barely share with each other; let alone some dog they have never met before.

We walked out at Great Chart because I had some geo-maintenance to do. Some time ago (9 June 2020) I hid some geocaches along part of the Greensand Way. Supposedly easy to find, one seems to be more difficult than the others. With seven consecutive “Did Not Find” logs over the last two months I thought I’d better go have a look-see in case it had gone missing.

I saw the thing from several yards away, hanging in the hedgerow where I’d put it last June. I checked the location with my geo-app – when I took the photo of the thing my phone said I was three feet from the posted location. That’s about right. So why can’t people find it?


We came home where “er indoors TM” made me a cuppa. I took one sip, threw it away and made another. The milk I’d bought on Tuesday afternoon had gone off. The milk we get from the shop over the road never lasts more than a day or so.

“er indoors TM” also made a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the first episode of the new series of “Taskmaster”. I’ve heard of one of the five celebrities in this series, which is something of a result.

“er indoors TM” is now fighting with the dogs. I’m not getting involved…

29 September 2021 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull

After one of the worst night’s sleeps I’ve ever had I surrendered whatever little bed space I still had to Treacle and got up. I made toast, watched an episode of “Drifters” and then sparked up my lap-top as I do most mornings and waited for yet another negative COVID test to incubate. A friend of mine wound me up. She was posting twee memes about how to lose weight in a desperate attempt to sell some diet milk shake thing she’s pushing. She claims she’s lost a lot of weight with it. She may well have done. I’ve tried all the weight loss tricks I can find – the only one which works for me is having the will power to remain constantly hungry. Many people have told me that being hungry is no way to lose weight. If that is true then I personally have no way to lose weight.

Another friend was still spouting anti-vaccination propaganda. She was absolutely adamant that the COVID vaccination was all part of some huge conspiracy but was utterly unable to explain anything at all about the conspiracy. Much like all conspiracy theorists.

I sent out some birthday wishes, set the dishwasher going, and got ready for work.


I walked out to my car on a very wet and murky morning and set off to work. Seeing the epic queue of cars along Brookfield Road (presumably queueing for petrol?) I took a little diversion (only a mile out of my way) to avoid the traffic. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about Greg Rutherford. Mr Rutherford won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games for long jumping and he's looking good to be a bobsleigh-er at the next Winter Olympics. Personally this is a matter of the utmost indifference to me, but I can only assume that millions of people must be enthralled by this for it to warrant mention on prime-time national radio.

I've mentioned before that I really don't understand the fascination that so many people have with sport.


There was also talk about how the French are up in arms again. According to the terms of the Brexit agreement, in order to get permission to fish in UK waters, French fishing vessels have to show evidence that they always used to fish there before Brexit. Dozens of French fishing vessels have been refused permission to fish in UK waters because of uncertainty as to whether or not they used to fish in what is now UK waters.

Am I the only one who feels that there is no uncertainty and that this could be settled in five minutes? Call up the Google timeline of anyone who works on any of the ships in question. My Google timeline has a very detailed track of my movements over the last seven years. This would provide an answer right away. But I suppose that an ongoing argument is preferable to some, particularly right now bearing in mind Anglo-French relations.


There was also talk on the radio from the Labour party conference in which consternation was being expressed by many that the Labour party is becoming increasingly more "Blair-ite". I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, but it was being seen as a bad thing by many of those at the Labour party conference. Thinking about it,  it probably is terrible for the Labour party. In all the years during which I have been eligible to vote, the only times that the Labour party has won a general election was when Tony Blair was in charge. Obviously doing anything remotely "Blair-ite" will improve their chances at the ballot box and make them more likely to have to actually take responsibility. I've mentioned before that this is demonstrably the last thing that they want.


I got to work and had a busy day during which my D-dimers turned orange and my thermals needed adjusting (it’s a haemostatic thing!). But there was cake. Cake is always good. And (much as I like where I work) so is home time.


“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the latest episode of celebrity “SAS Who Dares Wins”. I quite like the show – I’m treating it as just another series of “SAS Who Dares Wins” as I have no idea who the so-called celebrities are.

I’m thinking of having an early night as I’ve got an early start tomorrow and I feel like death warmed up right now… Today was rather dull.

28 September 2021 (Tuesday) - Rostered Day Off. (Day Off ?!)

I spent a few minutes peering into the Internet as I scoffed toast. Some chap I used to know forty-five years ago had been posting photos to my old school’s Facebook page. I suppose it is a sign of our times that photos are far more readily available (to create and to share) these days, but my old school’s Facebook page really does sum up one of the fundamental principles of that school. If you weren’t good enough to be in the spots team then you could f… off. There are quite a few photos on that Facebook page… mostly all of the same dozen faces. When I was at the school there was (about) seven hundred and fifty boys there. You’d never know that looking at most of the remaining photos.

Are schools today like that?

I saw an ex-colleague was spreading anti-vaccine conspiracy theory bollox based on the principle that modern science is a fabrication made up by the big pharma companies who are trying to sell their products. I chuckled and resisted the temptation to point out that big pharma companies are big because their products work. Unlike the supposedly cancer-curing products my ex-colleague tried to sell until she went to prison for selling unlicenced crackpot cures (that didn’t work).


Once the dogs had scoffed their brekkie I took them out. Having spent quite a bit of time creating a Wherigo cartridge the thing was ready for testing. So we took a little drive out. As we drove there was more talk on the radio about the recent panic-buying of petrol. This made me think.

I spent twenty-five minutes queuing for petrol yesterday. It wasn’t that bad. But something’s occurred to me. The government wants the sale of petrol and diesel cars to have stopped by 2030. Whilst there will still be petrol and diesel cars about, more and more electric cars will be the norm.

So… where will we charge the things? New houses will be legally required to have a charging point for an electric car. But my house doesn’t have one and there’s no point installing one as I’ve no guarantee of parking the car outside. As I type this, my car is parked about two hundred yards away. I will have to use some public charging point. As will thousands of other people.

The electrical infrastructure for anything like enough charging points simply isn’t there so I shall be queueing up for some time to then sit about waiting half an hour for my (as yet unbought) electric car to charge. And as my (as yet unbought) electric car will have a range of about half that of my current car, where I currently spend about five minutes a week fuelling the car, in future this will be a chore of several hours twice a week. I suspect the advent of the electric car (and demise of the petrol one) will force me to move house or into retirement.


We got to where we wanted to be, and I started up the Wherigo cartridge. We walked for two and a half miles and it was a good walk. Apart from a roll in fox poo the dogs were as good as gold. The field testing of the Wherigo cartridge worked well. There were a couple of mistakes I’d made in it which were easily corrected, but it has got one problem in that whenever a typed response is required it gives a “scan QR” button. I wish it wouldn’t.

As we walked back to the car so the dogs started pulling like things possessed. Someone had left a dressed rabbit on the side of the path. Not a dead rabbit covered in gore that a fox might have had. A dressed rabbit, perfectly skinned like you might see in a butcher’s shop window. What was that all about?


We drove home through torrential rain; we’d been lucky. If we’d walked for five minutes more we would have been soaked through. It didn’t take *that* long to scrub the fox poo off of the dogs. I put a load of washing in to scrub, ran round with the Hoover and made a start correcting the mistakes in the Wherigo cartridge. As I fiddled on-line I had an ongoing Facebook messenger row with the bank who seemed to be determined to log a complaint on my behalf about the bad service they felt I’d had from their telephone helpline. They seemed to be utterly unwilling to address my actual question (NOT complaint) about why they were sharing confidential information about my accounts with third parties. Eventually they effectively admitted that there was no such thing as banker-customer confidentiality and that they would tell anything to anyone who asked, but refused to say anything more unless I lodged a formal complaint.


By then the washing was done. I hung it out round the house and ironed shirts whilst watching a film. “Wild Rose” was… I won’t say it was good and I won’t say it was bad. I will say it was incomprehensible. With many of the leading characters speaking in a thick Glaswegian accent I couldn’t understand any of what was being said so I turned it off half-way through.

I spent a few minutes (over an hour) sorting out the cache pages for my latest Wheri-project then looked out some pots to use as the caches. It was at this point when “er indoors TM” came home. I had intended to mow the lawn and clean the pond filter today but never got round to it – where did the day go ? For a rostered day off I’ve been busier than if I’d gone to work.

But we’ve got a bottle of rioja ready for dinner time…