31 May 2023 (Wednesday) - Another Early Shift

I slept like a log last night which was something of a result. I was woken by my alarm… and that happens oh so rarely.
With no hour spare for an episode of telly I made toast and had a quick look at the Internet. There were a lot of photos from Sparks’ second sell-out gig at the Royal Albert Hall last night. When I heard about the concert last year the tickets had already sold out. I must admit to a bit of a sulk – I would have liked to have gone. But it turns out they only did three or four of (for me) their better songs and concentrated on all the new stuff I’m not keen on. Perhaps I didn’t miss as much as I thought I might have done.
I rolled my eyes as I saw that some half-wit was trying to start an argument on one of the Facebook pages I follow. He was pointing out the inconsistency of atheism. He asked “Why do (most) atheists have no problem in believing that there were once dinosaurs, but mock Christians for believing in God”? He seemed to be serious… they let these people vote and do jury service, you know.
And (as always) squabbles abounded. There were some rather nasty ones (over the most petty things) on the garden ponds pages and the Lego pages.
Talking of ponds… I’ve found a relatively local garden pond club… I say “garden pond”; it’s the South East Koi Club. Based in Orpington it might be a good day out at some point. And talking of clubs reminded me that I’ve heard nothing about the Lego club recently. Apparently they moved into a gaming shop in Folkstone and had a meet whilst I was at the wedding a couple of weeks ago. It’s amazing what you miss when you aren’t paying attention.
I set off to work listening to the drivel spewed by the pundits on the radio. They were interviewing the Labour spokesman on international trade about some trade deal between the UK and Australia which comes into effect today. Apparently pretty much everyone with an opinion to offer seemed to think this deal was something of a shambles; being seen as a sad shadow of what the UK used to have back in the day, and a financial masterstroke for the Aussies who will be laughing all the way to the bank.
The Labour spokesman on international trade was asked his opinion. He didn't give it. Either on the Australian deal or any other subject. He was speaking on the radio for a good five minutes but never actually said anything. A nice trick if you can do it.
There was also loads of talk about the rise of artificial intelligence and how this might well lead to the extinction of humanity. Either through the social chaos that the AI might inadvertently generate, or through the machines actually rising up against their human oppressors.
To my mind there was a lot of Luddite attitude being expressed. Why is everyone automatically terrified by that which they don't understand?
I got to work and did that which I couldn't avoid. As I worked I had a phone call; the insurance on Dad's house is now sorted for another year. I'm hoping that a year's worth is overkill and that in a few months I can get a refund on the rest of the year, but that is a worry for another day.
And a colleague told me she's had an estimate for getting a mega-tattoo on her back. What she has in mind would need to be done in three sessions and will set her back a thousand pounds. Tattoos never were cheap, but (like everything these days) the prices are now nothing short of daft. I think the most I ever spent on a tattoo was a hundred and fifty quid... and that was on something which was over six hours work when tattoo artists were charging sixty quid an hour. I got a bargain then...
With work worked I took the dogs to the woods. I would say that we had a good walk… We had no “episodes” but as we walked I had a very eerie sense of being watched. As we came to the end of the walk there was a huge rustling and crashing in the trees about ten yards from me. I thought the dogs were particularly noisy, and then I saw them running to me from the opposite direction as I heard whatever it was in the woods heading away. Deer? Boar? Another dog? People doing the dirty deed? I wonder what that noise was… and if it was in any way connected to my feeling watched.
As we walked I was rather pleased at the dogs not getting grubby. At the end of our walk as the dogs jumped into the boot of the car I saw Treacle was filthy. Somehow or other she’d found a swamp when I wasn’t looking. She went straight in the bath when we got home.
We scoffed a rather good dinner as we watched an episode of “Taskmaster”. I think I must be getting old… we had salad for scran – and I liked it.

30 May 2023 (Tuesday) - Feeling Grim

You'd think that a night shift followed by an afternoon on the beer would have been conducive to a good night's kip, wouldn't you?
But the dogs were restless last night and it was a hot night. And I was wide awake at five o'clock.
I made toast and watched more "Shameless" before setting off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were saying that there has been heavy shelling in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev from Russian forces. And there have also been drone strikes on Moscow too. The identity of who was taking a poke at Moscow was rather vague, but I must admit I'm surprised that it has taken this long for anyone to take the fight back to the Russians. If no one claims responsibility it will be interesting to see who gets given the blame.
There was also talk about how pubs are despairing for the future as their bills skyrocket. Having heard this I found myself wondering why someone locally would spend a hundred thousand quid on a local pub which has already gone bust recently.
I got to work and did my bit. I could have done with sleeping last night as I felt like death warmed up for much of the day. But being on an early was something of a result – I got out early.
I came home and took the dogs to Orlestone where I took a chance. Morgan has a history of running amok there so rather than our usual walk (which goes too close to the road) we went to the southernmost part of the woods where it is often incredibly muddy. But the mud had pretty much all dried up today. And Morgan didn’t run amok at all today.
With no mud, no dogs needed a bath when we got home. As we got home my phone pinged… a friend request from a rather dubious looking young lady looking rather younger than my children.
Today was a tad dull… I think I shall have an early night and get some kip before the bed is invaded by dogs…


29 May 2023 (Monday) - Family after the Night Shift

With the car's music thingy now reading USB sticks I listened to "The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte" (the latest album from Sparks) as I drove to work last night. I listened to it on the way home this morning as well. Bearing in mind I consider myself to be a life-long fan of Sparks I feel I should say something good about the album. So...
It is probably their best album in twenty-five years (since "Plagiarism" in 1997). Sadly that's not saying very much. There's one track I really like, two or three half-way decent tracks, half a dozen "meh" ones, and three or four stinkers.
Having listened to it in its entirety twice I'm rather disappointed that I'm in no rush to do so again. In all honesty I had to force myself not to keep pressing the “skip” button as I drove home this morning. Other bands and musicians I like (Queen, ELO, Hazel O'Connor, Kate Bush...) make albums that you want to listen to the whole way through. For me, Sparks haven't done that since they released "Angst in my Pants" in 1982. I wondered if perhaps I've gone off the band since their halcyon days of the mid-to-late seventies, but I don't think that's the case. For me, the other bands and musicians I like (Queen, ELO, Hazel O'Connor, Kate Bush...) have output which all of a muchness; all very good. But more and more nowadays Sparks come up with songs which are either absolutely totally marvelous or just a bit "meh".
Such a shame.
I got home, had a shower and shave and went to bed. I’d told “er indoors TM that if she went out she was to close the dogs in the bedroom with me so that it they started fits of barking I was on hand to shut them up,
It worked.
I was woken once by Treacle who immediately shut up when told. If she’s downstairs she feels brave enough to ignore my shouts until I get up to her.
After a couple of hours asleep I got up, made toast, and once my lap-top had finally updated itself I had a look at the Internet. It was much the same as it had been when I’d last looked at it a few short hours previously.
I got dressed, and prepared for the afternoon.  It didn’t take long to get garden stuff laid out, and before long we were all organized for the afternoon.
The family gathered.  Too much beer, a rather good bit of dinner…. It was a shame it was so windy this afternoon, but we had a rather good time. Really should get together more often.
As always I took one or two photos.
And having had a rather good day I find myself wondering if my watch is poggered – it tells me I walked twelve thousand steps today… Seriously? Eight hours at work and then pootling round the garden drinking beer?
Compare this with twenty thousand on Saturday on quite a major hike round the woods…