31 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Dying to Death

There’s no denying that I had a bad night. I dozed on and off until half past seven in between coughing and sniffing fits before getting up and spending a couple of hours on the sofa continuing to cough and sniff until my stomach hurt.
I must admit to being really hacked off with this COVID lark; the last time I had it, I wasn’t ill at all. The rules said that I had to stay away from everyone else all the time that I was infectious and so I effectively had a bonus week’s holiday. When I was told yesterday that I can’t come in to work for a week I thought I might get another.
But this time I’m ill.
I spent most of the day on the sofa watching all sorts of tripe. “Blue Planet” and a documentary about snow leopards on the Eden channel, something about a huge oil tanker, and more “Four In A Bed” in which the woman who’d spent three episodes telling everyone how clean her place was had dust thick enough in which to write your name.
Once she’d done her day’s work “er indoors TM drove Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Darcie Waa Waa TM and Pogo home. As we’d all gone down with disease it seemed sensible to suffer together, but with “Darcie Waa Waa TM seemingly on the mend “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” thought it best to go home.
As they went home I was charged with making our dinner. I have a special recipe; I chop up all the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and bung it in a pot together with all the apples and bananas and pineapples that “Darcie Waa Waa TMhadn’t finished. I then stick a little water into the brown sauce and ketchup bottles that are almost (but not quite) empty and squirt that in the pot, then have a rummage round the fridge and the cupboards to see what else I can find. I let it all simmer for an hour or so before serving it all up with rice. Bish bosh(!)
As I cooked I dug out the thermometer and measured my temperature. It was thirty-eight degrees (Celsius) which is high enough to count as a fever.
I said I was poorly…
Mind you today’s step count was over a thousand… just.

30 October 2023 (Monday) - Diseased

On Saturday I mentioned that I’d I was feeling grim, but had done a rona test and it was negative. I perked up a bit yesterday, but as the evening wore on I wasn’t feeing very good. I had an early night, but was coughing and headaching and the throat was getting iffier. I got up for a wazz at half past three, and whilst I was at it I did another rona test. This one was positive.
I immediately messaged the works WhatsApp group to say I wouldn’t be showing up for the early shift, and was surprised at just how many colleagues were awake that early.
I went back to bed, but didn’t sleep much. With “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Darcie Waa Waa TM and Pogo all in the attic room the dogs were all rather excited at every sound that came from above. There was a particularly loud crash just after half past four; I rather expected Pogo to be coming through the ceiling.
I got up shortly before eight o’clock, had a very impressive coughing fit, and made myself some brekkie whilst everyone else was fast asleep.
There was a picture of some children and a horse on one of the Facebook 1970s TV shows pages, and quite a bitter argument was going on about whether the picture was from “Follyfoot” or “Black Beauty”. As if it really mattered.
I can remember every Sunday evening having to have the start of “Black Beauty” on the telly. In the lead-up to the show my brother would be shouting “Black Du-Du, Black Du-Du”. He would burst into tears during the theme tune, and with the theme tune done we could turn the telly off as he’d then lost interest. He used to do the same with episode of “The Good Life” too.
Happy days.
Not much else was happening on Facebook really, so I had a look at my in-box.
I had an email from YouGov about the surveys I do for them (sometimes). In September I did two surveys which was a response rate of only eight per cent (apparently I ignored ninety-two per cent of the emails they sent me) but I was still in the top thirty-six per cent of respondents.
I phoned in to work to find out what the drill was… Apparently today is counted as “Day Zero”; I have to be off until Day Five… so that’s a week off work for me. Ironic really… there is so much I could be doing, and I feel like death warmed up.
Having been awake for much of the night I then slept on the sofa (under a pile of dogs) for two hours. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM got up five minutes before mid-day
We put “The Phantom Tollbooth” on to Amazon Prime and slept through most of it, then put several episodes of “South Park” onto Paramount Plus and slept through those too.
Usually on an average day my watch tells me that I walk over six thousand steps a day; and over twelve thousand on a dog walk day. Today by eight o’clock in the evening I still hadn’t done five hundred steps.
The last time I had rona I must admit I wasn’t impressed with it. At the time I wrote “I must admit that I feel as though I’m testing positive for COVID as opposed to actually having the thing, and I think it fair to say that compared to thousands I seem to have got off very lightly”.
This time I can see what all the fuss is about… I feel rather grotty to say the least….

29 October 2023 (Sunday) - On The Dull Side

What with a rather late night and (frankly ridiculous) daylight saving we were rather late out of bed this morning. Usually I resent wasting time in my pit, but the weather forecast for today wasn’t good. Having been listening to the rain, hearing a lull I got the dogs into the garden and they did what was expected of them.
I made toast, had a look at a frankly dull internet, then carried on trying to solve a geo-puzzle. This one involves solving a series of on-line jigsaws related to Bagpuss. I completed the one I’d started a couple of nights ago; that one only took five hours in total and made a start on the next. And then I took a deep breath and realised that I hate jigsaw puzzles. I sent a message to the bloke who’d set the puzzle. He said there were twelve in total, all getting increasingly more difficult. Bearing in mind the ninth took five hours to do, I decided to stop at that point.
Seeing a break in the weather I went on a little outing. “er indoors TM is secretary of the scout group and they were having their AGM this afternoon. As she was feeling a tad under the weather I delivered the paperwork that needed delivering. Back in the day a rather dull scout group AGM would take a few minutes after a cubs or scouts meeting, and you wouldn’t really notice the time it took. Nowadays you are expected to give up an entire afternoon to the thing. I must have enjoyed some of my time as a scout leader as I did it for long enough, but I can’t help but feel that I am well out of it.
Is that wrong of me?
I came home via Pets at Home as we needed dog food and fish food. The place was surprisingly busy, and for every customer that was looking were they were going, there was a dozen who were just randomly blundering about. I see this so often in so many places. So many people really do blunder about; seemingly obvious that there are other people in the vicinity into whom they are seemingly constantly crashing. Perhaps I might take to doing that; if only for a bit of a laugh.
As I walked into Pets at Home it had been a glorious day with bright sunshine and blue skies. As I walked out less than ten minutes later there was a completely black sky and torrential rain. By the time I’d got the shopping home we had a blue sky again. This was today in a nutshell; beautiful sunshine alternating with torrential rain. Seeing the sun I took a chance and ran the dogs round the block. We got round without getting soaked, and without incident too.
But once home the rain started again. “er indoors TM cracked open a pot of guacamole dip and we scoffed it with mushroom flavoured crisps (oh yes!!!) whilst watching an episode of “Taskmaster”. Lucy Beaumont was in that show and was not doing very well… I remember her husband John Richardson advising her against spearing in TV quiz shows as no one ever notices who wins, but everyone does notice those who make complete idiots of themselves.
I went into the garden to have a quick measure-up of the pond with a view to enlarge the bog filter. Part of that will involve some serious ground work and sawing of sleepers. But just as I got the tape measure out so the rain started again. I effectively gave up on the afternoon at that point and watched several episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which two half-way decent B&B establishments were up against a canal boat which offered (rather good) accommodation, and a complete sh*t-hole. I’m sorry - there was no other way to describe it. The sh*t-hole was run by some woman who was absolutely convinced that cheap was good, and cheaper was better, and she was accompanied (but *not* assisted) by her husband who considered himself to he a high-flying businessman but was actually a bit of a tit. One of their bathrooms was filmed with toilet roll and soap dispensers being empty, tiles coming off the walls, paint flaking in chucks the size of your hand, and this chap claimed that this was nothing that should warrant any complaint. When challenged that half the light bulbs in the place were missing (they were!) he replied by asking how many light bulbs do people want?
I do love that show.
As I laughed at the antics on the hoteliers, so Morgan and Bailey snuggled with me. They’ve both been rather quiet today; I hope they aren’t sickening for something.
“er indoors TM then drove off to Folkestone and came back with Daddy’s Little Angel TMandDarcie Waa Waa TM (together with Pogo) who all came up for Sunday dinner.
I’m going back to work tomorrow for a bit of peace and quiet…

28 October 2023 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift

I woke to the sound of littlun having a stress fit shortly before seven o’clock. She had several of those yesterday. I thought I’d better get up and have a shave before the onslaught, but by the time I’d had a scrape, all was quiet again.
I made the most of it and had some toast and peered into the Internet. I was bombarded with adverts for sets of first edition coins – I could get a complete set of the first load of coins to feature the new king,. That would be nice… A set of coins which comes to the total value of three pounds eighty-eight pence would set me back thirty-three quid. If I wanted I could pay sixty-six quid and get duplicate coins so I could see both the front and the back of the coins. Or (if I was important enough) I could shell out eighty-five quid on the limited edition set. Presumably limited to as many as they can sell?
If anyone wants a set of these coins, I’ll sort you one out for twenty quid…
I was reminded of a friend of a friend who started a small business (many years ago) in which he bought loads of plain plastic frisbees and lunch boxes and rulers and the like. He printed off a load of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stickers, stuck them on his plastic tat and made a fortune. He took the stickers off of those that didn’t sell and replaced them with Spice Girls stickers and sold more. The last I heard he was still coining it in, milking money from those who were wanting to jump on whatever bandwagon is the latest craze.
I looked at the rain... and looked at the key to the field in which we have Dog Club. If I wasn't the key holder I wouldn't have gone along this morning. I chivvied the dogs downstairs and into their coats and we drove through some rather awful rain to Dog Club. I opened up, and within a couple of minutes Ralph (and his humans) joined us, soon followed by Kai and Polly and their humans. The rain slackened off to mild drizzle, and seven dogs and five humans made the most of it. Some of the dogs were chasing after a ball being thrown, and with far fewer dogs along than usual, Treacle made an attempt to join in. I saw that as a major result.
But the drizzle soon gave way to heavier rain. We all said our goodbyes and left... and then I had a little issue with Morgan who didn't want to go home, and thought that if he stood in the middle of a rather deep puddle I wouldn't be able to get him.
He thought wrong.
As we drove home Steve was doing the mystery year on the radio which I thought was 1978. As the questions went on I became more and more confident... until he mentioned a television show on Channel Four. Channel Four started in 1982. So much for my theory.
Once home the dogs had a hot shower to warm them all up (and shift the mud). I had a complete change of clothes (even my pants were wringing wet), and I went up to the attic room to wake “er indoors TM and “Darcie Waa Waa TM.
We then had an entertaining hour or so in which “Darcie Waa Waa TM and I alternately sang along with Lube-Tube (!) songs (as she used Treacle as a pillow) and went out to the garden to see the water dogs (fish) in the pond. Favourite smallest granddaughter didn't care about the rain; when she pointed to the back door, out we went.
It was raining particularly hard as I drove off to work, but the rain gave way to glorious sunshine, then went back to rain, and then to sunshine again every few minutes. As I drove a familiar car came past and pulled in front of me. “My Boy TM” and his tribe were all off out somewhere. I wonder where?
I got to work, had a bit of dinner, and cracked on with the late shift. As I worked I alternately smiled and sulked as the rain came and went. I don't mind working when it rains, and there was probably equal amounts of rain and shine this afternoon. As I worked “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” sent me some photos - “Darcie Waa Waa TM had gone home and was far more pleased to see Pogo than her.
Work was rather hard work today; it probably didn’t help that as the afternoon wore on I felt progressively more and more grotty. Once I got home I did a ‘rona test to see if I’d caught it from “Darcie Waa Waa TM.
I hadn’t. It was negative. I suppose this is the new world order… every little headache and sore throat from here on in will raise the suspicion of ‘rona.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “Below Deck”; a sort-of cross between “Big Brother” and “Carry on Cruising”. Like all these reality-TV shows I can’t help but think that the characters in it are all actors; are people *really* that stupid?
Mind you, I’m completely hooked with this show…

27 October 2023 (Friday) - Viruses, Petrol, Stuff...

With “er indoors TM and “Darcie Waa Waa TM spending the night in the attic room, all the dogs wanted to be up there too. “er indoors TM had said "NO!" on Saturday night and the dogs had just whinged all night long, so last night she relented and (if nothing else) I got a good night's kip. I have a vague recollection of them all stomping downstairs in the small hours, but that might have been a dream.
I made toast, watched an episode of "Big Mouth", and then turned the telly off and put the remote control where favourite smallest granddaughter wouldn't be able to reach it. Last night she was quite aggressively pointing at it and demanding "Give it!” Letting her loose on it would be a recipe for disaster.
With a few minutes spare I had a little look at the Internet and rolled my eyes at Facebook. This morning there was quite the argument kicking off on one of the Star Trek related pages I follow. Someone who obviously hasn't watched much Star Trek was asking who would win in a fight between one load of fictional aliens and another. Loads of people were weighing in with various opinions; all seemingly oblivious that this hypothetical fight had formed the basis of the entire third season of "Star Trek: Picard". It never fails to amaze me how so many people get into so many bitter fights over that about which they know absolutely nothing.
And then my phone asked for a virus scan, and whilst it was at it, it checked out my Internet connection which is “fast”. Or so it claims. Is it? I have no idea.
I got dressed. With everyone else up in the attic room I could get dressed in the bedroom with the light on. There is something strangely satisfying in knowing that your undercrackers are the right way round *before* you pull them up.
I resisted the temptation to go upstairs to say goodbye to everyone, and letting sleeping dogs (and llittluns) lie I set off to work. I am reliably informed that “Darcie Waa Waa TM eventually woke up some three hours after I left.
As I set off so the bin lorry came up the road. I'd heard their advance party shouting to each other earlier.
I drove up the motorway listening to the pundits on the radio who were talking about the mass shooting in America where some maniac with a gun has killed eighteen people, injured a dozen more, and is still on the loose. The point was made that this isn't really news as this sort of thing has already happened over five hundred times in America this year. There have been a few calls to ban guns, but no one is really listening to the "let's not kill everyone" lobby; clearly those who make guns have quite a bit of power over there.
It would also seem that the "let's not kill everyone" lobby is doing equally badly in the Middle East with the Gaza situation going from bad to worse, and the Americans now bombing Iranian installations in Syria.
When I was a lad the future looked to bright... I despair for what “Darcie Waa Waa TM is going to get when she grows up.
As I drove I kept looking at the car's dashboard. I'd left home with the trip meter thingy telling me I'd driven four hundred and sixty miles since I'd last got petrol. I thought I would probably be OK to get to the filling station in Aylesford (and if I wasn't then that would be an adventure for today's diary). The car gave quite a loud alarm five miles up the motorway telling me that I had forty miles of petrol left, and the gauge's needle seemed to be dropping fast as I found myself slowing behind the stream of traffic.
I got to the petrol station without conking out though; which was probably for the best. And from there I popped over to the Sainsbury's supermarket for a sandwich and some sugar and stuff. That trip also passed off without incident, which was a mild disappointment. The sour faced battleaxe who works there who had been the subject of bitter gossip in the filling station was nowhere to be seen this morning. That was something of a shame; whenever I go into Sainsburys in the mornings I've taken to smiling at her and asking innocuous questions just to provoke her. You'd be amazed at the nasty and spiteful replies she gives to the most innocent remarks. I have complained in the past (to no avail) but winding her up is much more fun.
I got to work where I had something of a "glandular fever" sort of day. I blame the kids getting bored during the half-term holidays.
For those of my loyal readers who aren't up on the intricacies of virology, the virus which causes glandular fever is a rather weedy thing. It dies when out of the human body for only a few minutes. It is spread by close contact; most easily by snogging. A few years ago I was telling the trainees about glandular fever. One young lady trainee proudly announced that she'd had glandular fever. Another looked her up and down with great contempt and announced "yeah... you look the sort".
They didn't actually come to blows, but things were tense for a while.
And talking of not being up on the intricacies of virology, “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” remains diseased. To be fair to her, viruses are rather small things so it is easy to lose sight of the little blighters. But whilst she remains moribund we get to keep hold of “Darcie Waa Waa TM for another night, which is far easier to write about than to actually do. It has to be said it would be a lot easier if she weren't constantly trying to snog the dogs. Poor Bailey looks absolutely exhausted with it all.
As I write this “er indoors TM is doing bath time with Darcie Waa Waa TM. All three dogs are in the bathroom too. I think they are gloating as they probably see bath time as some sort of punishment; in their world it probably is. The sounds emanating from the tub all sound rather traumatic, but I’m enjoying a wonderful moment of peace and quiet.
It won’t last long.

26 October 2023 (Thursday) - Banners Flying (Apparently)

I woke up at three o'clock this morning in need of a tiddle, rolled over and then slept through until quarter top six when I was seriously in need of a tiddle. But sleeping probably two hours more than yesterday was something of a result. I got up, had that tiddle, made toast and started on the seventh season of "Big Mouth" (which was quite entertaining) as I sorted the undercrackers which had tumble-dried.
And with telly watched I had my usual root around the Internet. The Facebook page for people who went to my old school was having something of a retrospective on one of the old maths teachers this morning. "Fred Bread" taught us maths for a year whilst I was at secondary school... Mind you when I say "taught us maths", I need to point out that our maths class was immediately after the morning break. Immediately before the morning break "Fred Bread" was teaching at the Priory Road school on the other side of town (our school had two branches), and immediately after the break he was supposed to be teaching us some three miles away. The chap flatly refused to travel during the break time and so consequently arrived twenty-five minutes late for every lesson with us. He would then spend most of the remaining lesson time grumbling about how he shouldn't be expected to travel in break time. Through his "expert tuition" I managed a twenty per cent score in the end of year exams, and much of the next year was spent with the next maths teacher amazed at how little we'd learned in the previous year.
I can remember a "Brains Trust" quiz competition as a fund raiser at school in which "Fred Bread" publicly asked "If you had a third hand, where would you put it?" and another teacher (who went on to become a vicar) replying (equally publicly) "punched down your throat" with quite some venom.
However most people offering an opinion this morning seemed to think that "Fred Bread" was perhaps the most able teacher of mathematics who ever lived. It is strange how people's recollections differ.
Pausing only briefly to be awarded the Munzee "Banners Flying" e-badge (what was that all about?) I set off through the rain up the motorway to Maidstone. As I set off my piss boiled somewhat. There was a lot of talk about how university students are running up such massive debts to pay their tuition and accommodation fees. I can't help but think that perhaps we (as a nation) might revisit higher education. What is it all about? Why do people run up massive debts studying the most random of subjects? Why not go down the old "apprenticeship" scheme and get degrees and qualifications which are relevant to your work and obtained as you work, the costs of which being paid as part of your wages? Like I did when I had six years working four days a week and going to various colleges on the fifth? I can remember conversations of years ago with friends who'd got degrees they weren't going to use, and with massive debts... who at the time were starting jobs effectively three years behind where they might have been.
There was a lot of other stuff on the radio this morning too, mostly about the ongoing war in Gaza. There was brief mention about developments in cosmology theories, but this was quite clearly considered (by those resenting the news) nowhere near as important as the latest antics of Ant & Dec. I didn't really pay that much attention to the radio; I must admit that most of my attention was on staying alive; driving up the dark motorway in the rain can be something of a challenge.
Work was work; I had a rather good day, but was still glad when home time came. Having got to work rather early in the hope of avoiding traffic light hold-ups I was stuck in the thick of them on the way home. I’ve grumbled about the mentality of people who organise the county’s traffic before, but you really would think that having one way to the hospital being blocked up would be enough, wouldn’t you? Do you *really* need road works on the other ways too?
I got home and fed the hounds, then “er indoors TM arrived with Darcie Waa Waa TM”. Daddy’s Little Angel TM” has gone down with the rona, and seriously needed a good night’s sleep.
Much as I do like having littlun to stay, she is hard work…

25 October 2023 (Wednesday) - A Visitor

Finding myself wide awake far too early I gave up trying to sleep, made brekkie and watched the last episode of “Foundation” on Apple TV. Now I’ve seen it all (so far…) I’m still not sure what to make of it. The show is based on a series of short stories that Isaac Asimov wrote about seventy years ago. The stories follow the collapse of an empire and the growth of its successor over hundreds of years. The stories were rather good. The TV show sort-of takes some of these stories and sort-of uses them in a rather disjointed sort of way. Watching the TV show I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking “that’s not supposed to happen” or “those characters lived a hundred years apart”. I also spent far too long concerned that a colony living in prefabricated huts was still living in those same huts a hundred years later when the writers would have us believe they were well on the way to empire themselves. But my biggest gripe with the show was that I had a vague idea what was going on because I’d read the books. Anyone who’d not read them (or had forgotten them) would have been all at sea. Just like what happened when the “Harry Potter” books were made into films.
Now that’s watched I wonder what will be occupying me in the early morning tomorrow?
I had a little look at the Internet as I do most mornings. It was still there. This morning there was quite a lot of talk about how more animated episodes of “Doctor Who” are to be made from the original audio footage. I’ve got some of these myself; they are rather good. There were also quite a few photos of people who’ve been out picking pumpkins. At first I thought it odd that people would be doing that mid-week, but (apparently) all the schools are on half-term this week? I’ve rather got out of touch with that sort of thing.
I sent out birthday wishes to the one friend who is having a birthday today, then got ready for work.
Having swapped out of doing last night's night shift, as I set off to work I found myself wishing I'd done that night shift. If I had, I wouldn't have been driving through a dark wet miserable morning to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were banging on about how many amateur rugby games are being cancelled at the moment because clubs can't get enough members to field a team to play the games.  And professional rugby teams are concerned that with amateur teams struggling, they too will struggle to get players coming through the system, and rugby fans are worried for the future of their passion. But (so it would seem) not worried enough to go scrum down themselves. For myself I can't see the attraction of watching sport. For me sport is done, not watched. But look at the popularity of it - entire TV channels devoted to the stuff. I would seem to be in the minority on this one... Mind you, I wouldn't mind playing a game of rugby; I'm certainly up for it, if not up to it.
And there was loads of talk on the radio about the ongoing conflict in Gaza... specifically talk about the talk about the situation in Gaza. Both Sir Kier Starmer  and the Secretary General of the United Nations would seem to have either said too much or not said enough and have caused all sorts of upset and offence. Isn't it frankly amazing that what someone or other has to say about the news is considered to be more interesting than the news itself?
Work was dull. At tea break I had a message; “er indoors TM has taken to putting out sunflower seeds on the lock-ups outside the kitchen window at home so she can watch the birds as she works, This morning a squirrel came down for some elevensies. And three dogs who (without fail) go ballistic about squirrels in the woods apparently slept through the entire squirrine visit.
I came home where “er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner whilst the washing machine sorted out the undercrackers, and I had a look at the monthly accounts. Not too shabby really… they would be a whole lot better if I didn’t keep squandering good money on crap which I neither need nor want.
I wonder how they will hold up to retirement?

24 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Not on the Night Shift

When I woke after a reasonable night's sleep I noticed something. Treacle was at the foot of the bed (not in anyone's way) and both Morgan and Bailey were lined up with me and “er indoors TM. With all of us orientated the same way there was a lot more space on the bed. I'm sure this was far more through random chance than judgement, but it was something of a result nonetheless.
I got up, made toast and watched more "Foundation" which wasn't that bad really, then had a little look at the Internet. It was still there.  However it was relatively peaceful this morning. Apart from some petty sarcasm on the home-made Daleks Facebook page (there's some obscure stuff there if you look for it!) there wasn't anything kicking off for once. Mind you there was bad news... I say "bad news"... Chambers Bar in Folkestone is up for sale. Chambers Bar is always a "must visit" place on any pub crawl round Folkestone. The place usually has five decent ales on, and for many years the Easter beer festival was one of the highlights of the year. Apparently after twenty-five years the people who own it have had enough. I suspect running something like that is hard work, but with pubs closing left, right and centre, will they be able to sell the place as a going concern? I hope so.
I sent off birthday wishes to the one friend who was having a birthday today and got ready for work.
The original plan for today had me doing the night shift but a colleague has asked if she could do the night as it would make her child care arrangements much easier. I was quite happy to get out of the night shift but this did mean doing day shifts today and tomorrow at Pembury. So I drove off west-wards through a very dark and rainy morning.
As I drove along the lanes I listened to the radio as I do. Much of the talk this morning was about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East in which everyone interviewed differed in the specifics of their opinion, but everyone interviewed agreed that the conflict has been going on for years and will continue to do so. In between the doom and gloom were a couple of interesting snippets.
Apparently the Earth's core has sprung a leak. I wonder if it will deflate?
And a recently run simulation of the creation and subsequent evolution of the universe has shown that current cosmology theories are wrong. However the professor being interviewed was rather pleased about this...  all the time science needs a better theory, the chap still has a job.
And then it was time for "Thought for the Day". If you have a minute, see if you can call it up on the i-player. Some fatuous vicar was banging on about how the frankly dire situation in the Middle East proves how wonderful and loving his god is. To me, all he did was prove that right is wrong and black is white, but what do I know?
Work was work… it wasn’t a bad day but I’ve had better. To be honest I always say I love working at Pembury but hate going there. I hate the coming home as well. As I drove in to work through the dark this morning and came home through the dark this evening probably a quarter of the ongoing vehicles had their light on high beam and had no intention of dipping them.
I did get home safely, but it can only be a matter of time before I’m driven into a ditch by a boy racer or because I was blinded by the lights.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner. It was good to be scoffing it at home and not being at work tonight. I wonder how many more night shifts I can swap out of…

23 October 2023 (Monday) - Whinging

I had a rather good sleep last night - when the dogs are peaceful, so is everyone else. I made toast and watched more "Foundation" then had a quick look on-line. Periodically all those memes about "I'm here for you" and "if anyone needs a friend" appear on Facebook; quite often posted by those people who turned their backs when others really did need a friend. I'm afraid my piss boiled with a couple of them, and I had to stop myself embarking on a little name-and-shame session this morning. Am I being cynical in thinking that there is far more kudos to be had from appearing to be a friend than actually being one?
No one seemed to be having a birthday this morning, and with no emails of note I got myself organised and set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how shoplifting locally is on the increase. This made me think. Shoplifting has always been a thing in the south east. In the late 1970s most of class 4B at school would take sweetie orders during the mornings and at lunchtime go to the local shop and nick that for which they had orders. After lunchtimes the local shop looked like the locusts had passed through. I can remember that after a week of this the headmaster announced that the local shops were out of bounds. I can remember this very distinctly; our total snob of a headmaster wasn't upset by the shoplifting but by the damage to the school's reputation.
And when “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” used to run a shop in Margate a few years back she and all the shops in the area used to close up at school chuck-out time because of the amount of stuff that would get pilfered.
It would seem that after forty years of this being commonplace the authorities have finally decided to do something about it. As well they should.
There was loads of other drivel on the radio too; over-runs of budgets on HS2, bombings the the middle east, George Harrison. I didn't really pay that much attention to the radio. I was concentrating on staying alive. With the motorway mostly three lanes from Ashford to Maidstone I'd sadly managed to coincide going up the motorway with the emptying of one of the ferries. You can always tell; there are miles of slow moving lorries in the motorway's slow lane and miles of lorries going about one mile per hour faster in the middle lane. Once I'd managed to get onto the motorway (the lorries don't like letting you on!) I had the choice of travelling in the slow lane at just under forty miles an hour, or in the fast lane with idiots only yards from the back bumper flashing their lights in their impatience no matter how fast I went.
Work was work; I got my pension form signed and witnessed and returned to management and then had a rather good day. And being on the early shift I got out early.
I drove home with good intentions of taking the dogs to Orlestone, but as I came down the motorway so the drizzle started. And then the tyre low pressure warning came on for all four tyres. Coming on for all four tyres isn’t as bad as just one coming on. If t is just one, then there’s probably a nail through it. All four going at the same time is just air slowly escaping over time (I hope!).
I got home, pumped up all four tyres, and ended up filthy. Back in the day I used to get equally grubby hands when tightening the chain on my motorbike, and back in the day I always had a tub of Swarfega in the house for the clean-up. Apparently the stuff is still going; I thought they went bust years ago. I shall have to get some; soap and a nail brush doesn’t come close to what the green stuff used to do.
Once I’d finally got my hands reasonably clean the drizzle had become full-on rain. The dogs weren’t overly keen on feeding the fish, so I quietly cancelled the walk round Orlestone with a clear conscience.
I wonder what’s for dinner?

22 October 2023 (Sunday) - Family Day

I had a rather bad night. Wanting to ensure that “Darcie Waa Waa TM was asleep so as not to disturb her when I came up with the dogs, I waited for the “all-clear” from “er indoors TM which came at half past eleven. I went up at midnight. As did the dogs who made a bee-line to the top bedroom, weren’t impressed to find the door (deliberately) closed and all started whinging. I gathered the dogs, marched them to my bedroom, closed the door and formally ordered silence.
At two o’clock I was changing the bedding as one of them (possibly Bailey) had a “potty emergency” and couldn’t get to the lino-ed area by the back door. We then stomped and paced and thrashed about until I gave up, marched them all downstairs and I watched an episode of “Foundation” until it got light outside.
I hung the washed bedspread on the line, then peered into the Internet. There was talk of a pub crawl round London with some old friends on one of the Facebook Groups I follow… ten selected pubs over five miles… Sadly in London and at London prices, by the time you’d got the train there and thrown in a kebab there wouldn’t be much change out of a hundred quid and nothing but a few photos and a headache to show for the day. Mind you if it goes ahead I shall be there.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes, then on hearing Darcie Waa Waa TM shouting “Dog Dog Dog” I turned off the laptop and prepared for the onslaught.
The morning went rather painlessly. We had a brekkie of Tesco’s Choco Hoops. We both had a bowl of the things. I scoffed all of mine myself, littlun threw quite a few of hers at the dogs. Whilst “er indoors TM got dressed, I sang the wrong words to various Lube-Tube (!) songs to littlun’s amusement, then I drove us all down to Rye Harbour where we met father-in-law and we went for a little walk out to the estuary and back again. Rye Harbour is a pretty place to walk around, but with today being low tide there wasn’t any chance of seeing seals. And the place does heave with normal people. Half of the normal people had dogs off of the leads which were marching up to everyone, and all of these people were rather shocked when Treacle firmly told all of their dogs off. The other half of the normal people had small children on bicycles…
Have you ever seen a small child on a bicycle? There are two schools of thought about small children on bicycles. Either you demand that they cycle at walking pace and pretend to be surprised when they keep falling off. Or you stick stabilizers on the bike, keep shouting at the child and watch (with a stupid expression on your face) as the child who is staring back at you cycles straight into oncoming pedestrians. Time and time again.
Just as we came toward the end of our walk so Treacle jumped into belly-deep stagnant mud and looked at me clearly very pleased with herself…
We said goodbye to father-in-law, and as we loaded up the dogs and littlun into the car we had a few people asking if we were going. The free car park at Rye Harbour fills up rather quickly; we could probably have sold our parking space for hard cash today. If ever you fancy a walk at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, I’d suggest getting there no later than half past ten in the morning.
Darcie Waa Waa TM fell asleep half-way to Folkestone, and was still snoring when we dropped her with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” who had had over twelve hours sleep herself. I would have liked to have stayed with them for a bit, but Treacle was seriously stinking the car out. There was only one place she was going when she left the car’s boot, and that was into the bath.
“er indoors TM and I came home. Treacle got a serious scrub which shifted most (but not all) of the stench.
“er indoors TM cracked on with painting the back bedroom. I was still feeling a tad grim (I’ve not felt right for a few days) so I sat on the sofa with dogs and pretended not to notice the foul whiffs emanating from Treacle as I dozed through episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which a vindictive harridan from Yorkshire was fool enough to allow the television cameras to record just how filthy her hotel was, and then tried to lambast people whose bed and breakfast establishments were demonstrably far cleaner than hers.
Over a rather good bit of scoff we watched the last episode of “Detectorists”… or the last that is on Netflix. There was a Christmas special last year. I wonder where I can find that one…
Having had a complete weekend off is something of a rarity in my world. It’s been a rather good one.
I am reliably informed that Treacle will be doused with air freshener before bed time.

21 October 2023 (Saturday) - It Rained. A Lot...

The alarm woke me this morning at half past seven. That was something of a result. I made toast and had a look at Facebook like I so often do. My friends list was eight people shorter than when I’d last looked. Eight people who were once Facebook friends aren’t any more. I wonder what I did to offend them? And I wonder which (ex) friends they were? I’ve identified one of them and sent a message. For all that Facebook claims it doesn’t randomly delete people from your friends list, I’ve had people asking me why I’ve defriended them when I haven’t.
I also had a message via geocaching dot com. Last weekend a couple of people from Bournemouth had stayed locally overnight to do all my Kings Wood geocaches. They had had a good time and enjoyed the woods. I was rather pleased about that.
There wasn’t much else happening in cyber space so despite the rain we went to Dog Club. Today was probably the lowest attendance we’ve ever had at Dog Club with more people (ten) than dogs (nine) but as always a great time was had by all. Treacle proudly carried a ball around. Morgan and Bailey played with the bigger dogs and Morgan got told off a few times. And (unusually) today wasn’t endless treats all round.
As we drove home Steve was doing the Mystery Year on the radio. The Laughing Gnome… I got it right away… and then “er indoors TM got me doubting myself. But when Steve said that the films released that year included “Live and Let Die” I realized I was right all along.
“er indoors TM dropped me off three streets from home where I’d parked my car last night and I then drove round to B&Q for a new light switch. The one in the living room was a dimmer switch which must have been in place for over thirty years. The dimming bit hasn’t worked for years, and recently we’ve had issues with the LED lights constantly flickering. It says on the internet (so it must be true) that old dimmer switches make LED lights flicker.
I spent fifteen minutes marching round B&Q. You’d think they’d have put the light switches in the lighting section, wouldn’t you?
Once home it took longer to clear all the rubbish out of the way of the mains power switch than to change the light switch. The thing is now installed, and it is rather nice to sit in the living room without constantly flickering lights.
And with light switch replaced there was so much I could have done. The lawn doesn’t mow itself. The temporary fix on the outflow from the pond’s bog filter needs reviewing. The shed needs a tidy-up and the rubbish taking to the tip. But the drizzle we’d tolerated at Dog Club had become a full-on downpour. So I looked at filling in the paperwork for my retirement. I’d had a glance at it last night and had despaired. So many questions asking things that I don’t understand, let alone know the answers. My plan was to go through the twelve page document and come up with a list of what I need to find out, and send that list back to the pension people asking “WTF?” I wasted three quarters of an hour compiling a quite comprehensive list of what I didn’t understand before realising all I needed to fill out was my personal details, and someone else would fill in the tricky stuff.
The sun came out. But by the time I’d turned off the lap-top and decided what garden jobs to do, so the rain started again. Even harder than it had been.
“er indoors TM set off to Folkestone whilst I ironed shirts, then sat on the sofa with the dogs watching episodes of “Foundation” until she returned with “Darcie Waa Waa TM who is having a sleepover with us. We spent a pleasant afternoon dog-snogging and singing various versions of various songs until littlun became just a little too fractious.
The girls are up in the top bedroom making quite a bit of racket. The dogs are impatiently waiting by the living room door, occasionally squeaking. The moment I open the door, all three will fly to the top bedroom too. I shall give it another hour until I’m sure littlun is fast asleep before letting the dogs up… I shall watch another episode of “Foundation”… for all that I have been rather critical of it, they’ve got the young Hober Mallow spot on…

20 October 2023 (Friday) - Wondering

I woke feeling particularly grim this morning, but that's nothing unusual these days. I got up, farted around, then made toast. Needing something new to watch on telly I started on the second season of "Foundation" on Apple TV. Despite being based on Asimov's famous series of books and despite being produced by Asimov's daughter, apart from the names of the main characters the show bears pretty much no relation whatsoever to the books. However, like so many other TV series, having watched the first season I really feel I need to see it through to the bitter end.
With telly tellied I set off to work. As I walked up the road I picked my way round the discarded emptied bins scattered across the pavement, walked past the bin men who were bellowing across the street at each other, and into the corner shop where there was quite the anti-bin men tirade going on. |I wasn't the only one who'd had to negotiate a rather tortuous route round the emptied bins they'd just flung. The local bin men aren't going to win any popularity contests.
I set off west-wards to work listening to the radio as I went. There was a lot of talk about the two by-elections yesterday in which the Conservatives had their arses handed to them on a plate as Labour won both in landslide victories.
Mind you it would seem this isn't any damning of government policy or glowing endorsement for the Labour party. The so-called expert who was wheeled on to discuss the matter seemed to think that the Labour victory was all about how the electorate fancy Sir Kier Starmer more than they fancy Rishi Sunak. And the observation was made that if that idiot Boris Johnson was still in power the Conservatives wouldn't have lost. For all that the bloke has been caught out in lie after lie,  the masses love him
There was talk about President Biden's trip to Israel and how he's trying to milk Congress for billions of dollars to give to the Israelis. And how faced with a new war in the Middle East, interest in the war in Ukraine is rapidly dwindling. Is war *really* something just to entertain the Western world? From what was said on this morning's radio it would seem so.
And then the fatuous windbag on the morning's "Thought For The Day" said not to really worry too much about what is going on in Gaza as God will sort it all out... one way or another. Like God has demonstrably sorted out so much else?
As I drove I was very conscious of the idiot who was not five yards from my rear bumper for pretty much the length of the A262. I also saw that the two cars which had gone through the hedges near Sissinghurst last night had been extricated, but the one which had come off the road just outside Biddenden last week was still in the hedge there. This made me wonder...
And I spent much of the day wondering.
Do I really want to keep making this journey? And is the trip to Maidstone *that* much easier? - on Monday I had to take a five-mile diversion to avoid the carnage at junction five of the motorway.
I left home this morning at seven o’clock and got home this evening at seven o'clock.And then parked three streets away as there wasn’t anywhere closer to park.
When I retire I might just knock hospital work on the head entirely.  There must be something else I could do... something that doesn't involve round trips of sixty miles every day and not getting home so late and not working nights and weekends.
I wonder what

19 October 2023 (Thursday) - Late Shift

I slept through until nearly eight o’clock this morning which was a major result. I had a shave and bearing in mind the weather wasn’t good and forecast to get worse I thought I’d get our walk in as quickly as possible. I took the dogs up to the park and back through the drizzle. Morgan pulled a bit, but nowhere near as much as he has done in the past, and we didn’t bark at anyone or anything despite some provocation. I understand that not everyone likes dogs, but when walking past dogs just walk past them. If you don’t like them, don’t shy away in terror as this scares them. I think my three were rather good in not reacting like so many passers-by did this morning.
We came home and I had a quick voom round the garden despite the rain. I harvested a bumper crop of dog dung, and had a little fiddle with the pond’s bog filter. Having filled what was once a splash pool with pond plants, the outlet seems to be bunging up somewhat. I think I’ve fixed it for now…
We came inside, set the washing machine going, made toast and scoffed it whilst watching the last episode of “Alice in Borderland”. Like the last episode of all Netflix series it was much longer than most episodes, but sadly could all have been done in twenty minutes. There’s a third season being made. Will I watch it? Possibly. It was a good show but probably lost quite a bit in translation.

I was rather late looking at Facebook this morning. It told me that as a paid-up Munzer I’d been given a little prezzie. I’d got a bung of one hundred and twenty five Zeds. That’s ninety-four pence. And I saw something which made me think… One day in 1975 I asked a friend to come to Boys Brigade with me. The Boys Brigade is a very religious organisation and makes no secret it is all about getting children into church. That friend and I stayed in the Boys Brigade for years… eventually I saw through the brainwashing but my old mate lapped it up and a few years ago packed up a very well paid job and is now a Baptist minister down in the West Country. Every morning someone from his church does a webinar “Prayers at Ten”. Today it was my old mucker. The chap who for many years was my best mate was on my lap-top screen so earnestly preaching utterly stark staring nonsense which didn’t stand up to any reasoning or thought whatsoever. I can’t help but feel responsible that the chap is clearly living in a fantasy world.
“er indoors TM says he’s clearly happy enough. He probably is… but he seems utterly mad. I suppose that’s religion for you. I’m told that those who escape religion become very anti-religious… perhaps I am.

Bearing in mind we’d gone out for our walk earlier because the rain was supposed to be getting worse as the day went on, I was rather miffed to see sunshine as I set off west-wards to the late shift. As I drove, the "From Our Own Correspondent" show on the radio was talking about how religious leaders in Senegal adopt no end of children and then send them out on the streets as professional beggars. The government won't do anything about this as professional begging is too lucrative and those adopting/employing the children have become too powerful a pressure group. I suppose I should be grateful that my old mate hasn't jumped on this bandwagon.
This was followed by a book program about Sir Ernest Shackleton's biography. "South: The Endurance Expedition" is a first-hand account of Sir Ernest's abortive attempt to cross Antarctica. I quite liked the program as I've read the book and could relate to what they were talking about. I've got it at home somewhere.
As I drove I only went through three sets of traffic light for temporary road works. In a novel break with tradition, two of them had people working on them. As I drove the sunshine at home gave way to rain in Betherseden, more sun at Biddenden, gloom at Sissinghurst and more rain in Goudhurst.
There was also a rather humungous lorry bunging up the tight corner by the church in Goudhurst; there often is.
Work was work; During the afternoon I had a formal meeting with the boss about my upcoming retirement. Both the boss and the nice admin lady were jealous of me retiring. In all honesty I was jealous that they didn't make "old man in pain" noises when they sat down, but I didn't say anything. I outlined my plan that after my birthday next year I take my pension and carry on doing pretty much the same as I am now work-wise, but only do half the hours I'm currently doing. The boss seemed quite happy with this, and the nice admin lady commented on how easy and straightforward my plan was.
We filled in all the forms and now we just have to wait to see what the first obstacle to semi-retirement will be. I'm sure there will be some problem or other cropping up. I would be very surprised if there wasn't.
I can't pretend I don't like my job, but I'm rather excited at the thought of having quite a bit more spare time next year... It has to be said that working five days a week is a tad dull.
Anyone who’s been following this drivel over the last week or so will know I’ve been whinging about the speed at which people have been flying along the A262 recently. As I drove home this evening I found two cars wedged in a hedge at a right-angle to the road just outside Sissinghurst with a swarm of stopped cars around them...

18 October 2023 (Wednesday) - Rainy Day

I woke feeling rather grim this morning, but cracked on with the day in the hope that I might perk up a little. Leaving “er indoors TM and the dogs snoring I went downstairs, had a shave and scoffed toast as I watched telly. "Alice in Borderland" is now getting a bit silly. Given that you are part of a gang of six (all of whom have rather lethal guns) and you are facing one evil baddie, what do you do? Shoot him from a safe distance, then once he’s down shoot him between the eyes at close range? That's what I'd do. But our half-dozen heroes all charged the evil baddie, dropped their weapons and took it in turns to have a fist fight with him. And all acted surprised when they all lost. And then despite all of the gang of six getting multiple stabbings and gunshots to the gut and the head, all of them survived to do it all again in the next episode.
I got dressed. As I got dressed I was a tad miffed to find that “er indoors TM and the dogs had all stopped snoring. It's a shame they can't do their snoring once I've gone to work rather than when I'm trying to get a bit of kip...
I walked seemingly miles to find my car. When I came home last night there were no parking spaces to be had. This morning I walked past a dozen.
I drove up the motorway (Maidstone again today) through miles of coned-off-only-two-lanes with not a single road work actually being done. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how a hospital in Gaza has been bombed. Both sides blamed the other; the Arab leaders have all refused to meet with the American President in protest, things go from bad to worse… and the poor people on the streets remain shat upon. Sadly in that part of the world, twas ever thus and probably ever will be. Even though it doesn’t have to be.
Meanwhile it was announced that Oxford university will be the international headquarters for the “Breakthrough Listen Initiative”; an astronomical programme searching for “technosignatures” - of past or present technology that would signal the presence of life in other parts of the universe. After ten minutes of the interviewers having no embarrassment of their ignorance, the chap being interviewed was quite open that they hadn’t found any aliens to the total surprise of the interviewer. His “Dur!” at the rather simplistic interviewer was quite apparent in his tone.
Needing petrol I stopped off at the Sainsbury’s petrol station in Aylesford. The staff on the till were quite openly talking about the attitude of the staff in the main supermarket. I’ve blogged about how rude they are before (many times); this morning the people in the petrol station were egging customers on to make formal complaints and telling everyone the name of the old harridan to mention in the formal complaints.
That store must be a delightful place in which to work…
I got to work. Today was a rather good day in that it rained, and when it rains a puddle forms on the flat roof outside our window and the goldfinches come for a bath in it. I have seen more goldfinches before, but they are fun to watch.
Mind you the same rain made getting home something of a nightmare…
I felt grim when I got up… I still feel grim now…

17 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Retirement, Cauliflower Cheese

Morgan slept through last night which was a result. He was a bit fidgety at three o'clock, but isn't everyone?
I got up whilst it was still cold, and as I shaved I had the bathroom fan heater running. The nice builder who quoted for a new bathroom said we can't have a fan heater in a rebuilt bathroom as that's against the building regulations. Stuff that - for quite a bit of the year the room is too cold not to have one.
I made toast and watched more "Alice in Borderland" in which the leading characters took all their kits off in a prelude to "doing the dirty deed" but decided against it at the last minute. Usually when on telly the dirty deed is (supposedly) done whilst fully clothed. Not that I'm advocating unmorality (!) but you'd think the program writers would make their minds up, wouldn't you?
I set off to work. As I went I had a little Munzee session. Among other things I captured two Vorpal swords (as one does) and was rewarded with ten Zeds. Zeds are the crypto-currency used in Munzee; ten Zeds is a shade over seven and a half pence.
Suitably rewarded I headed off west-wards. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking with some squash player or other (apparently whoever it was is famous?) about how squash is to be an Olympic event in the future. As is cricket.
There was also an interview with the leading light of some exam board who have announced that GCSEs will be done on-line in future, starting with Italian and Polish next year. In theory a brilliant announcement; in practice not at all thought out. Schools will need to buy dozens of laptops, and at exam time pogger each one so that it can access the exams, but not access Google so that that the kids can’t cheat. And then un-pogger them all again afterwards so that the laptops can be used properly. That will take some time...
There was also a lot of air-time about how President Biden is heading off to the Middle East to try to stop everyone killing each other.  He's not the first to try this, and sadly he probably won't be the last.  Interestingly since it all kicked off in Gaza last week, no one has mentioned Ukraine on the radio... Am I being cynical in wondering if the Ukrainian situation is now (quite literally) yesterday's news?
I got to work; I did my bit. I had a chat with the pension advisers. The process for retirement seems quite straightforward and simple. I've got a meeting on Thursday with the boss to thrash out the details...
Having left home in the dark and arrived at work in daylight, I left work in daylight and got home in the dark. “er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of cauliflower cheese which we washed down with a bottle of plonk. I quite like cauliflower cheese.
And in closing spare a though for Kirsty Smitten; a pretty-much unknown genius who has quite probably saved the human race. With antibiotic resistance becoming so prevalent, it is forecast that more people will die from septicaemia than cancer by the year 2050, with untreatable infections causing ten million deaths per year (one death every three seconds). However Ms Smitten has developed nanotechnology that will do for bacteria just like penicillin did for them a hundred years ago.
But Ms Smitten died last week. Aged only twenty-nine.