31 January 2024 (Wednesday) - Red Alert

Having taken care to ensure the internet connection and mobile data were switched off on my mobile, it woke me a couple of times (just as I was nodding off) with alerts about things to which it should have been totally oblivious. Even with all connection to the internet severed it still manages to get these alerts. I wish it wouldn't. It never shouts to tell me about anything I really need to know about right away.
“er indoors TM brought the dogs to bed about an hour after my phone finally shut its rattle. As she settled down and started snoring so the dogs fought a pitched battle for the bed space she wasn't occupying. The fact that I was already in it was neither here nor there to the hounds. Eventually an uneasy truce was reached, and I tried to sleep as best I could, twisted around Morgan and Treacle. For all that they are rather small, they take up an awful lot of bed space.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of "Peep Show", then had a look at the Internet. There was a serious squabble kicking off on one of the Facebook pages I moderate. The page is about an obscure series of sci-fi books written over forty years ago. Someone had asked that if the books were made into films, which famous actors would play which characters. And someone else was getting rather nasty that hardly anyone had chosen a racially diverse group of actors. Personally I wouldn't have done so because I would have cast actors according to how the characters were described.
In any case it is incredibly unlikely that the films would ever be made... some people would argue over anything
I set off for work. As I drove I listened to the radio to keep abreast of the news of the day... Or that was my plan. With moonquakes (like an earthquake but on the Moon) where the Americans are planning to build their Moonbase and an entirely new form of life having been found the pundits on the radio were dribbling on about the petty bickering of politicians who will be out on their arses before the year is out.
It never fails to amaze me how much importance the radio puts on petty trivia, and how low the regard in which they hold stuff which may well be the key to the long-term survival of humanity.
I got to work, and five minutes into the early shift I had a red alert. People have entirely the wrong idea about red alerts; they are nowhere near as exciting and sexy as Captain Kirk would have you believe. Fortunately this one was all over in less than ten minutes, but those ten minutes were rather nerve-wracking.
The rest of the day was a tad dull in comparison.
With work worked I came home and cleared the garden of dog dung. Not the most pleasant of tasks, but I’d rather do it before Bailey does it (she can be a foul creature!) and I then did a little more of my Coursera course. After a shaky start it seems to be perking up a bit. Measurement of quality… be careful with what you choose to measure.
As I finished so not-so-nice-next-door started clanging on her piano. I rather thought she was away; I’ve not seen lights on in her house for some time.
“er indoors TMboiled up a rather good bit of scran which we scoffed whilst watching moreJunior Bake Off. She’s now having a go at a jigsaw; I’m going to fight with some geo-puzzles, and have an early night. I end up with more bed space if I get to bed first, get all of it and then have it taken from me rather than trying for a fair fight with the dogs.

30 January 2024 (Tuesday) - A Day Off

I was rather glad when “er indoors TM”’s alarm went off. I was embroiled in a rather vivid dream in which the local geocaching community had decided to resurrect the snake club, but not knowing the first thing about reptiles were trying to muddle through with film pots and sandwich boxes.
I had a quick bit of toast, then got the leads onto the dogs and set off rather quickly as I had a busy morning. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the government’s latest announcement about social housing. Back in the day you either lived in the house you owned, or rented one from the local council, and everyone was happy. Or if not happy, not excessively morose. These days you either live in your own house which you either bought years ago or inherited, or you live in a house rented from a private landlord (and which costs more than actually buying a house). Pretty much all the council houses are reserved for illegal immigrants and those seeking asylum (or so it would seem).
The government has announced that it is changing the rules, and the minister for something-or-other was wheeled on and presented a load of rubbish which was factually inadequate about the public sector’s provision of housing, but he did admit that the authorities are going to start providing “social housing” for locals, and will chuck out the scumbag element which gives some council estates a bad name. I wonder if this means that the local authorities will put illegal immigrants and those seeking asylum into privately rented accommodation and the cost will soar.
We got to Kings Wood and had a very good walk. A bit shorter than usual; only two and a half miles. But the dogs were well behaved and came back when called. And no episodes at all. Something of a result.
We came home, had bellies and paws washed, and once brekkie was scoffed the dogs were soon snoring.
Leaving them with “er indoors TM I set off on a little mission. First of all to Timpson’s where I got some more keys cut for the lock of the paddock in which we have Dog Club. It is daft only having one key. As I paid (with my card) I thought about something my cousin had posted to Facebook earlier. Less than a month ago a shop opened in Hastings making great show of only taking cash payments. It didn’t take long at all for them to abandon that policy. Back in the day shops that took credit cards had signs in the window saying they took cards. Nowadays no one puts up the sign as everyone pays with cards. The chap in Timpson said that he goes days between anyone paying with cash, and that he leaves the till open so that potential robbers can see he’s got nothing to take.
From there I went up to the hospital. There was mayhem in the car park; having parked my car easily some way from the hospital I then watched a swarm of normal people arguing about who could have the space closest to the entrance. If they could, they really would have driven into the place and leaned out of the window to have their appointments.
I didn’t have to wait long before I saw my ENT specialist. I told him I thought those polyps up my nose had returned. He shoved an endoscope up my beak. He showed me my clear and healthy left nostril, and then the two huge polys up the right one. Each looked to be the size of a small grape. Bearing in mind I’ve had polyps cut out three times before and they just came back, he’s suggesting something a tad more radical this time. He wants to do a Caldwell-Luc incision. In the past he’s gone in from the front and carved polyps out. This time he plans to drill through the bone in my upper jaw and come in from behind, which has a ninety-two per cent success rate.
That’ll be something to look forward to; he assures me it is good for three weeks’ sick leave afterwards.
I then went on to the bank to talk to them about the old reptile club’s bank account. They were very polite, but weren’t much help really.
Pausing only briefly to go to Repton to check the new keys worked I came home via the co-op and Belgian buns for lunch. And with those scoffed I cracked on with the ironing. No day off work is complete without doing the ironing. It only took an hour, and with ironing ironed I set about geo-puzzling with varying degrees of success.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of rioja whilst watching telly. As well as Junior Bake Offwe watched the episode of Dogs Behaving (Very) Badlyfor which “er indoors TM and Treacle had been filmed as extras. We were rather disappointed to see they didn’t get onto the telly…

29 January 2024 (Monday) - Bit Dull

I watched another episode of "Peep Show" as I scoffed my toast this morning. In this morning's episode our heroes had a new friend called "Gunny"; a gun found in a dead aunt's house. For all the antics they had with "Gunny", no one ever considered why the dead aunt had a gun in the first place.
As I watched, I sorted undercrackers. A dull task, but they don't sort themselves.
I went to work via the Ashford Sainsbury's where I got petrol. Petrol is usually cheaper at the Aylesford end of my journey, but the patrol station at the Aylesford end is now closed for a month or so for refurbishment. I like to go to Sainsburys for the Nectar points... not that I've ever done anything with then other than accrue them. Ironically my phone's Nectar app has logged itself out; I really should log in again. I wonder what the password is?
Whilst I was getting petrol I got a sarnie for lunch too. I do that when getting petrol. It rather made a mockery of spending fifteen minutes trying to find my sandwich box last night, but there it is. Again the old bat on the till flatly refused to touch any of my shopping; waving the bar-code scanner at all angles until it finally registered.
It was rather foggy as I drove up the motorway this morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were saying that the Americans have got the arse. Having been wantonly bombing the shit out of Johnny Foreigner in the Middle East for as long as anyone can remember, Johnny Foreigner has now bombed the Americans back and killed three US servicemen. Like we didn't see that coming? Several of the main suspects are hotly denying responsibility, and I can't say I blame them.
And French farmers have also got the arse, and are blocking Parisian streets in protest. They want more money in their pockets, and aren't happy that the French government is going along with EU deals to import cheaper foods from around the world. There was an interview with one of them on the radio this morning. This farmer felt that the French government shouldn't be importing cheap foreign food when people can buy far more expensive home-produced stuff. It strikes me that despite the French farmers wanting top dollar for their produce, the average Frenchie isn't going to want to shell out more when he can get it cheaper elsewhere, is he? Here's a squabble that will run and run.
For some reason the motorway was rather busy this morning, and frankly dangerous. You'd have thought people would have taken more care in thick fog, wouldn't you?
Work was work, but having started early I was home early. A shame it was such a damp evening; I solved more geo-puzzles until “er indoors TM dished up bangers and mash. She then set off bowling and once I’d ironed shirts I had a look at more of my Coursera course. The lectures played for the best part of an hour; they said an awful lot without actually saying anything and I got ninety per cent in a multiple-choice exam by choosing the answers that weren’t either frankly ridiculous or laughable.
I’m going to look at more geo-puzzles until “er indoors TM comes home. She says she’s coming home via Asda. Here’s hoping…
After a rather good weekend, today was a tad dull

28 January 2024 (Sunday) - Kings Wood

There was some minor consternation on Facebook this morning. The Angling Times has produced a listThe Top 50 Most Influential People In Fishing Right Now”. Matt Hayes (the famous TV angler) isn’t happy because he comes in at fortieth place. He had a bit of a rant on Facebook; if I was in his place I would have done so as well. Why did he score so low? Basically he doesn’t get endless corporate sponsorship. Fishing these days is big business. If you watch any TV show abut fishing these days they are all sponsored by some bait or tackle manufacturer. These companies make the TV shows, pay the anglers, and the money all comes from the massively overpriced fishing tackle. It’s all about making money. The more cash you bring in for the angling companies, the more they give you. On reflection I suppose that is true of any job, isn’t it? But there’s the issue. For many, fishing is now paid employment.
When I was a lad I paid to going fishing out of my pocket money. I couldn’t begin to do that these days. I’ve ranted on here before about the price of fishing tackle.
I have several friends who go fishing and when they catch something impressive post phots onto social media with #acmefishingcorporation because the Acme Fishing Corporation (or whichever company) give them cheap bait in return for the publicity.
Matt Hayes hasn’t had a new show on telly for over ten years. He is now talking about crowdfunding for a new one. Perhaps that is the way forward?
And I saw that this weekend was the Great British Birdwatch in which people sit in their gardens for an hour and count birds. I did that last year and in one rather cold hour I only saw a solitary pigeon. I beat that this morning when I went out to gather up the dog turds and saw a couple of starlings on the fence.
We got ourselves organised and set off to Kings Wood where we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte We went for a little wander following one of the series of Wherigo geocaches I hid earlier last year. We had a good walk; it wasn’t too muddy at all. But (as always) the Wherigo takes an age to play. Once we’d finally ascended to the Porcelain Throne (as one does) and had a picnic lunch time was running away. We had planned another Wheri-adventure, but that will keep for another day.
As we walked we met Amy and Willow from Dog Club, and loads of other people too. When we go mid-week we barely meet another soul; at the weekends the place heaves with normal people.
I took a few photos as we walked, but not many. “er indoors TM blagged my phone to do the Wherigo.
We came home. “er indoors TM had a little kip. I looked at the geo-map. Now that the worst of the winter is past (he laughed!) I’d like to get back in to going for decent walks at the weekends. The trouble is that what with everyone wanting to find caches and precious few people wanting to hide them we have to travel further and further for a decent geo-walk. I found some puzzles which once solved might make for good walks… I started solving puzzles.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good curry which we scoffed whilst watching “Junior Bake Off”, and with telly watched I set about solving more puzzles. As I solved Bailey snored on the sofa next to me. As she snored she grumbled and growled in her dreams.
A dreaming dog is rather sweet…

27 January 2024 (Saturday) - After the Night Shift

That letter from the bank (about the old reptile club's accounts that arrived yesterday) had me spending spent much of last night's night shift thinking about the old reptile club. I can remember the club's first meeting at The Plough in Brabourne some time in the mid 1990s (it must have been about then - according to my old snake-herding website I gave my first talk on snakes in 1997). It was rumoured that the landlord there kept snakes; particularly a huge python. Everyone knew the rumours of this snake but no one ever actually saw it.
At that first club meeting I got talking with the chap who'd arranged it, and I offered to produce a newsletter for the club (I was keen on my Serif desktop publishing package back then). I can distinctly remember just after making that offer being told by a friend "you can't just be a member, can you?"
I soon became very much wrapped up with that club. Initially there was a minor battle between the two local reptile shops as to which one would hold sway... I say "battle"; the shop which tried to call the shots soon went bust.
The chap who started the club very soon disappeared (never to be seen again), but the club grew without him. The chap who became chairman of the club became a good friend of mine. It turned out that his wife knew me from my religious days in Hastings in the early 1980s. The club moved to The Fox in Willesborough, and then on to The Albion. We had speakers and quizzes. Guest experts would come along; we once had a vet who said he loved reptile keepers as they always knew what was up with their animals and all he ever had to do was sell the medicine. The club would put on displays for local schools and clubs. We had a great time.
Sadly after three or four years it all fell apart. Looking back it is probably fair to say the club over-reached itself. There was talk about setting up an animal sanctuary as a registered charity, and people who had been firm friends suddenly felt they were competing for jobs in a business which was never going to exist.
By then I'd become treasurer of the club (I seem to become treasurer of clubs) and a rather aggressive woman from Stanhope (I think she might have been an "Audrey") was also on the committee and was watching me like a hawk. She insisted that she counted all money collected at club events before it was ever handed to me, and she was regularly demanding to look at the bank statements. She was absolutely convinced that every month I was giving thirty quid of the club money to some other committee member (who I can vaguely remember being called Adrian and who was a cub scout leader in Bethersden). She was particularly angry about the matter because I was supposedly managing to hide this thirty quid so well it never appeared in any of the accounts. To shut her up we had the accounts professionally audited, but that just wound her up more.
Personally I suspected she just wanted some of the cash for herself, and thought if she made enough fuss I might hand some over.
Eventually the club stopped being fun. Having some harridan constantly publicly accusing you of embezzlement does that. I walked away from the club which then folded a couple of months later.
Sadly clubs seem to do that. The Kent-wide Trekkie club got rather nasty (I was accused of fiddling the money there as well!). The attempts to form a UK-wide kite club got very bitter. Astro club used to be fun. In my blacker moments I wonder how long Dog Club has got left...
Talking of which, once the early shift arrived this morning I set off to Dog Club. The initial plan was to drive home, collect everyone, and then drive them round to Dog Club. But some genius at Kent County Council had put two sets of temporary traffic lights between home and Dog Club. So having looked at my journey on Google Maps I was faced with a decision. Either arrive at Dog Club on my own fifteen minutes early and let “er indoors TMfetch Darcie Waa Waa TM and the dogs, or go home and collect everyone and arrive fifteen minutes late. Bearing in mind there is only one key to the paddock and that key was in my pocket I thought it best not to keep anyone waiting.
Dog Club went very well. I spent a few minutes bunging up the holes in the fence before people arrived, and we had a great session. A few people wondered if their dogs should graduate up to the “middle dogs” group that follows ours, so we stayed with them rather later than we usually do.
It was good to do the dog thing (even if Max did tiddle up my wellies) but we missed the Mystery Year contest on the radio.
We came home; “Darcie Waa Waa TM sang along with all sorts of nonsense on You-Tube. Rather than going to bed I sat on the sofa to be with her… and fell asleep there instead.
After far too many Dave And Ava Songs  “er indoors TMtook “Darcie Waa Waa TM home. I had a very late shave, dishwashered and generally got ready for the evening.
Chris soon arrived with the Infinity Table, and once it was set up, Steve and Sarah arrived; followed by Martin and Tony. We had a rather good evening playing “Ticket To Ride”; I managed to win a game (heaven only knows how!)
It’s a shame that there is a limit as to how many people can play the game. Next time we’ll set up another table with something else going on.
Usually the day after a night shift is a tad dull. Today was rather good…

26 January 2024 (Friday) - Before the Night Shift

I slept like a log, and unlike last night didn’t get up at all during the night. I made toast and tuned in to the Internet as I do where there was quite the squabble happening on Facebook’s “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” page. Last night someone had asked how Ford Prefect had got his name, and I made the schoolboy error of pointing out the bit of the book where this is explained (towards the start of the very first chapter!). Ford had mistaken the dominant form of life on Earth and seeing motor vehicles everywhere he’d thought that “Ford Prefect” was nicely inconspicuous.
Fifty years later people in America who’d discovered “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” through the most recent film had the arse because this explanation only made any sense to people who lived in the UK. The fact that it originated on an obscure UK radio channel was neither here nor there.
I find this happening more and more. Particularly with Star Trek and Doctor Who related Facebook pages… people who’ve just discovered something which has been going since before they were born (and who clearly don’t know the first thing about it) are very quick to start arguments about that something; if only to show their ignorance.
Not much else was happening on-line, but our Munzee Clan had reached its target for this month. A result… if sticking bar codes onto lamp posts does it for you.
I got the dogs onto their leads and we set off. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about home-schooling children. I can remember having home-schooled children being brought along to cubs back when I was a cub scout leader. They were all the same; the moment their parents left they either stayed at the side of a leader (in stark terror) or physically clung to them (me!). They were utterly unable to interact with the other children in any way at all; flatly refused to join in with any activity that meant they had to deal with the other children, and looked at the other children as though they were dangerous wild animals. In more recent years a friend’s wife did home schooling with her children. One of them did nothing but play tennis all day long. The other hoped to get into college but had the disadvantage that at age sixteen he couldn’t read or write.
We got to Kings Wood and had a rather better walk than we did yesterday. There was mud, but nowhere near as much as there had been in Orlestone Woods. There were quite a few more people, but once away from the car park we walked for over three miles and only met one other group; the young mothers and dogs running group.
With walk walked we came home and went into the bath for paws and bellies to be washed. They were grubby, but we didn’t need the intensive scrubbing we had yesterday. I did a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM”, then wrote up some CPD and enrolled on another coursera course.
Suddenly Treacle went berserk; the postman had dared to deliver a letter. The bank wanted to know what to do with the money left in the account of the reptile club. That club packed up in a particularly vicious argument years ago. I’m not sure how many years ago but there is no mention of it in any previous blog entries so it must have been sometime before September 2006. From what I can remember I thought I’d resigned as Treasurer before the club folded? The nice lady at the bank suggested I filled in the form they’d sent, and we might take it from there…
I went to bed for the afternoon. I woke to find “er indoors TM had gone to collect “Darcie Waa Waa TM. She’s babysitting tonight. So while I waited for mayhem to ensue, I cracked on with the Coursera course I’d signed up to earlier. It’s about “quality management”. For some years this has been the big thing at work… but I’ve always been rather sceptical about it. Maybe I might learn something? I’ve passed the first week with a score of eighty per cent, but I achieved that by remembering certain figures that were given during the (frankly rather dull) video lectures.
I know it is early days for this course, but I enrolled because I’ve always considered “Quality Management” to be a load of blah-blah-blah that gets in the way of doing my job, and for years I’ve been wondering just what I’m missing. I must be missing something.
So far the course has been nothing but blah-blah-blah, and all it is doing is confirming my preconceptions.
So… engaging “reflective mode”. Why do I consider this Quality Management course to be a load of blah-blah-blah? Because there are loads of words and loads of talk and very little practical example of improvement.
Bearing in mind this was an introductory week, the course might perk up. I hope so.
The girls should be home soon; they’ve been in Asda for over half an hour. I’m off to the night shift now. Ideally I wouldn’t have been doing one tonight. Ideally I would have stayed home with the littlun. But there it is. Hospitals never close, and so I have to work at all hours.
If I had my time again I would work somewhere that periodically puts up a “closed” sign.
And in closing, today would have been my Dad’s eighty-eighth birthday.

25 January 2024 (Thursday) - Before the Late Shift

I didn’t have the best of nights; I was up to the loo twice. I suppose I’m now of the age when that sort of thing happens. I’ll give it a couple of weeks and if things don’t improve I’ll see about talking to the doctor.
I’d rather not, but there it is.
I got up and sulked as I looked at the rain. I did have a plan for the morning.
Instead I got on with my usual morning round. I made toast and had a look at the Internet. Three Facebook friends had birthdays today. I sent birthday wishes to the one with whom I went to college for four years (1983 – 1987), and wondered who the other two are. One I think is a friend of a friend of someone I met through kite flying fifteen years ago, and the other might be a very distant in-law?
I found out that the petrol station I use near work is closing for five weeks. That’s a pain in the glass.
And I had some emails. The bank emailed to tell me that the bank statement I downloaded yesterday was ready to be downloaded. That was nice.
Seeing the rain had slackened off to mild drizzle I got the leads on to the dogs and we went for that planned walk. Not really having time to go up to Kings Wood I thought we might have a look at Orlesone Woods. That place was always a favourite back in the day, but I rather gave up with it last year. For all that it is much closer to home and a shorter walk (we can get there, walk, and be home in half the time we take at Kings Wood) it is *very* muddy, and Morgan and Bailey’s behaviour has always been noticeably much worse there than in Kings Wood.
I had this idea that now they have grown up a bit, they might behave better.
I was wrong.
For all that they did (mostly) come back when I whistled, the one time they chose not to was the one time that they were running on the road. We can’t have that.
And as we walked we met the Forestry England people who were either doing necessary forestry work or wantonly vandalising the woods, depending on your personal perspective. Bearing in mind the woods are a Site of Special Scientific Interest I wasn’t allowed to put geocaches there because of potential damage to the local environment. However the Forestry England people had driven all sorts of land-moving equipment, fuel tanks and toilets through the woods and were intently blocking off footpaths and destroying the forest.
We came home. The dogs needed a serious scrub. I thought they might get muddy; they certainly did. I made a cuppa for “er indoors TM and myself, and sent a long-overdue complaint to Kent Highways. Having been delayed on our way to the woods this morning by temporary traffic lights around a hole in the ground (in which no one was working) and also delayed on our way back by another hole in the ground (in which no one was working), my piss was boiling (it does that).
Whilst I understand that road works need to be done, is it really *that* unreasonable to suggest that the contractors might actually get on with the work rather than putting up the traffic lights and then pissing off and not actually getting on with the work (like they demonstrably do)?
Alternatively given that there are road works going on in an area, is it unreasonable to suggest that all available contractors get on with that job and no more work be started in the area until it is finished?
Having sent a complaint to the email address given on the Highways department’s website, they replied within minutes saying that I needed to complain to the Highways department, and not to Adult Social Services…
I complained again, then set off to work... via the co-op.  They'd emailed me a little while ago telling me that they were changing the way their loyalty card operated so I cashed in my balance. It was only a bit over three quid, but it bought me a chicken sandwich.
Driving up the motorway in daylight without huge lorries playing silly beggars certainly made for an easier ride than I've had recently.
I got to work and did my bit. At tea break I finished my Kindle e-book. For those who've seen the TV series "Orange is the New Black", don't bother with the book. It is rare to see a film or TV adaptation of a book that is actually better than the book, but here's one. I've now started another read of "Ender's Game" which I remember being rather good, but with a dreadful sequel.
As I read my Kindle at tea time I scoffed a caramel wafer. Apparently one of my colleagues claimed she owed me? I have no idea what she owed me for, but I will happily scoff a caramel wafer.

24 January 2024 (Wednesday) - Oi-Oi-Oi (!)

Despite a relatively good night asleep I was still wide awake half an hour before the alarm would have gone off. Note that is "would have" and not "would of". No one in the entire history of the English language "would of" ever done anything. Neither has anyone ever "might of", "should of" or "could of" done anything either...
This is one of my pet hates. Such a petty and trivially insignificant thing, but it boils my piss to the limit and beyond.
I got up, made toast and watched another episode of "Peep Show" as best I could. As I watched telly not-so-nice-next-door was making strange noises. Not particularly loud, but there was a constant stream of her shouting "Oi - Oi - Oi" coming through the wall. I wonder what that was all about? Some sort of exercise routine perhaps? Back in the day she used to go running very early every morning. Perhaps she does aerobics now?
With telly watched and "Oi - Oi - Oi" stopped I had a little look at the Internet. There was a minor squabble on one of the local Facebook groups in which someone was claiming that they were being victimised. All of this woman's posts to this particular group weren't passing the moderators, but other people were posting stuff containing swear words with impunity. It seemed that the moderators of that group had no problem with swearing but didn't want a constant stream of posts trying to sell stuff which people neither needed nor wanted. Personally I would have taken my tat elsewhere to flog it (and in days gone by I did just that), but this woman seemed to enjoy playing the victim. I suppose we all do really; I certainly have done from time to time.
Taking care not to wake “er indoors TM or the dogs I got ready for work and wondered whether to go up or down the road. Ideally I needed to go in the direction which would have taken me to my car... if only I remembered where I'd parked it yesterday. I took pot luck and went down the road pressing the unlock button on the key. Eventually I saw some orange indicator lights flashing in the distance.
As I drove there was more talk on the radio about Royal Mail deliveries. Yesterday there was talk about their cutting the frequency of deliveries. Yesterday I mentioned that I don't think we get daily deliveries any more. It was intimated  that not everyone does, even though Royal Mail have a legal obligation to do so. The chap being interviewed today pointed out that at the moment Royal Mail only get a third of the letters they are geared up to deal with. Various possibilities for the future of Royal Mail were discussed, one of which being that the government actually pay for a public service and learn the lessons from the fallacy of selling off public services to make a quick profit.
A lesson I think we all learned years ago.
The "Yesterday in Parliament" session was interesting... I say "interesting". Our elected leaders were braying and shouting like ill-behaved schoolchildren. Were they to conduct themselves with a little more decorum then people might have a little more respect for them.
There was quite a bit of talk about how Simon Clark (MP for  Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) has called for the Prime Minister to resign because Rishi Sunak “is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred” because “he does not get what Britain needs. And he is not listening to what the British people want.” Bearing in mind that Mr Clarke was a leading light in the utter debacle that was Liz Truss's government, I can't help but think that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Or lob rocks. The general consensus from those wheeled on to the radio was that Mr Sunak is doing the best that he can under less than ideal circumstances. It was also hinted that that bearing in mind the Conservatives will be out on their arse at the next election anyway, it would be kinder to blame him for an election defeat *after* it happened rather than before.
This left me wondering why anyone would ever want to go into politics. Unless you give the feeble-minded what they want when they want it, you just get chucked out of office in favour of the next smiling smarmy git who says that shit is sugar.
Work was work, but one of the benefits of being on an early is that I get out early. I came home, made “er indoors TM and myself a cuppa each, and had my monthly look at the accounts. Not too shabby really. They could be better, but they have certainly been worse.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Junior Bake Off” and then “Dogs Behaving (very) Badly”. When I see how bad some people’s dogs are, I realise that my three could be a whole lot worse…

23 January 2024 (Tuesday) - Seven Years Later

Treacle woke me shortly before the alarm was due to go off; she was having a nightmare. She was whimpering and growling in her sleep, so I fussed her until she settled. Dogs really do dream.
I had a shave, made toast and watched another episode of "Peep Show". I'm now into the fifth season of it; apparently there are nine seasons so I am now half-way through. It passes an otherwise dull half-hour whilst I scoff toast. Some episodes are more entertaining than others, but unless something changes rather radically, if you see one episode, you've seen the lot.
With toast scoffed I had a look at the Internet. It was still there. Not much had happened overnight other than me getting an email from the power company who have looked at my gas and leccie usage over the last year. Despite leccie and gas prices soaring and the last year's rampant inflation, they have decided to cut my monthly bills by thirty quid. I'm now paying sixty quid a month less than I had been paying two years ago. How does that work?
I got dressed; Treacle was sleeping peacefully by then. I set off to work through two sets of temporary traffic lights. No one was working at either... Am I being hopelessly naive in thinking that if no one is working at traffic lights then the contractors should put down huge metal sheets (over which the traffic could drive) and open up the road? I'm reliably informed that road works carry on overnight in other parts of the world.
As I drove up Brookfield Road I was conscious of a large van behind me. Driving far too close behind me with his headlights dazzling me. This chap stayed at a constant two yards behind me until he eventually came alongside at the traffic lights for the Godinton estate where he flew off rather dangerously. I've often said that if people want to drive like idiots that is up to them, but doing so with their company's name emblazoned all over their vehicle can be somewhat counterproductive. Look at the Google reviews of this company (picking one totally at random). No one comments on their construction abilities; just their poor driving.
As I headed up the motorway I listened to the pundits on the radio as I do most days. There was quite a bit of talk about Royal Mail and how often they deliver. Back in the day there were two letter deliveries a day, but back in the day they were delivering twenty billion letters every year. Nowadays they shift less than half of that amount, and this morning there was talk of delivering twice weekly rather than twice daily. I'm not sure who was doing the talking though; I'm sure we currently only have deliveries twice a week.
And overnight American and British forces have given the Houthi rebels in Yemen yet another slap. It doesn't seem to have discouraged them though. History tells us that those who think they are fighting a religious war won't let up easily, doesn't it? Talking of religion, India is gearing up for presidential elections, and the hopefuls are making a point of being seen acting very piously in the temples.
Here we are in the third decade of the twenty-first century and still superstition triumphs over common sense.
I got to work for the early shift. Today was something of a milestone at work; it is seven years since I started working at Maidstone. There’s no denying that I was rather apprehensive about leaving where I used to work. I’d had good times and bad times there; toward the end some incredibly bad times. But having worked in a place for thirty-two years, leaving takes quite a serious leap of faith. Seven years ago I said about my new job “I rarely blog about work, and I’m not going to do so today. Suffice it to say I quite like the look of what I saw and I fully intend to go back tomorrow”.
I had written a rather bitter diatribe about where I used to work, but on re-reading it all sounded rather petty. Let’s just say that looking back I think I might well have had grounds for a constructive dismissal case against where I used to work. In retrospect I am well out of that place. It’s been seven years and I am still getting used to be happy in my workplace.
“er indoors TM sent a message at lunch time. She had the arse. Having spent a little while making the bed, Bailey promptly trashed it. Bearing in mind Bailey is too small to get onto the bed unaided I suspect we've pissed on our own chips here.
She also gave me a shopping list of what I might buy on my way home (or else). Milk was OK - I can get milk. but "vegetable oil"... WTF is that? She sent me a photo of the stuff (which was helpful). Those of my colleagues who do shopping assure me it is used to make chips.
I came home via Tesco where I got milk and vegetable oil. I got cream cakes as well. I had to act fast though; when I came to pay, the idiot on the counter stuffed it all into a carrier bag and almost put the milk on top of the cakes, and when I stopped him he honestly couldn’t see anything wrong with doing so.
Once home we had the cakes with a cuppa. Bringing home cakes keeps “er indoors TM happy, but there’s no denying that cream slices have shrunk over the years.
“er indoors TM boiled up some sausages. The vegetable oil might have been involved; I have no idea. As we scoffed them we watched “Junior Bake Off”. Have you ever watched it? The children are hilarious. In today’s episode (actually broadcast some time ago) the children had to bake a gingerbread model of what they thought was the most important invention in history. Models included cars, televisions, space rockets, mobile phones, clocks… but my favourite was chicken nuggets and chips. One lad put chicken nuggets and chips as the pinnacle of human achievement.
I think he’s not entirely wrong.

22 January 2024 (Monday) - Feeling "Bleaugh"


I woke feeling vaguely "Bleaugh" this morning. I thought about staying in bed, but only thought about it. I had this idea that I might perk up if I got up, so I got up, and got on with my morning routine. Shave, make a sarnie for lunch, toast, telly, look at Internet. What I do every morning...
Telly was rather dull this morning. The internet wasn't much better.  I had yet another friend request on Facebook ostensibly from a young lady offering all sorts of mucky promises. You have to wonder why they do it? Presumably enough sad acts are taken in by them?
And (somewhat ironically) there was a twee meme on my feed posted by someone who was once a rather good friend. This meme banged on about how we can't change other people and how we must accept others or walk away from them... I've always felt it a shame that when I felt forced to walk away from her pals I had to walk away from her too.
I got ready for work, found the car, and headed off up the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the BBC is to face scrutiny for it's supposed lack of impartiality. I've heard complaints about bias in the BBC news reporting from friends whose opinions range all across the political spectrum. The right wing claim the BBC is leftie, the lefties say it is right wing. Is the Beeb biased? Probably. Aren't we all?
That idiot Donald Trump looks set to get the Republican nomination for the upcoming American presidential election now that his main rival has thrown in the towel. There's no denying that Donald Trump is less than perfect. Are there no other alternatives? I suspect Mr Trump will get in again. He's a showman; the public want to be entertained. Love him or loathe him, he's entertaining.
And there was a lot of fuss about the storm that hit overnight.
I got to work ahead of whatever it was that bunged up the traffic in Maidstone today. Being on the early shift I got in early (as one does) but those who tried to come in for the core shift all got stuck in traffic jams.
I'd rather get to work before the traffic builds up...
I did my bit on what turned out to be a rather "hypersegmented" sort of day. Sadly (for me), having not phoned in sick on the hope that I might have perked up turned out to be little more than wishful thinking; the vague feeling of "Bleaugh" with which I woke got more and more "Bleaugh" as the day wore on.
With work worked I came home. “er indoors TM boiled up some scoff then set off bowling. I looked at putting a film on the telly, but that would play for too long and I would probably have fallen asleep. A couple of episodes of “Peep Show” watched from underneath a pile of dogs did the trick for the evening.
I wonder how long this feeling "Bleaugh" will last?

21 January 2024 (Sunday) - The Tower on Holly Hill

I managed to lay in bed until by back ached last night… usually a sign of having had a good night’s sleep.
I got up and made toast. As I scoffed it I peered into the Internet as I do so often. It was still there. A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was seeing adverts for the MP for Milton Keynes on my Facebook feed. After having seen quite a few I commented on one of them saying “The fourth time your advert has appeared on my feed. I'm over a hundred miles away. If I were you I'd ask for my money back...” I got a rather aggressive response from some right-wing chap this morning. And on a Star Trek related pages other people were getting very nasty with each other about trade unions. One of the sad things about social media is it gives the cowardly the opportunity to be rude to people safe in the knowledge they will never have to face them in real life.
There was a semi-religious argument going on too. Someone on one of the pages I follow had gone to her local vicar asking for help for her money worries. The vicar had suggested she prayed; prayer being the answer to all life’s problems. And at the next church service the same vicar was demanding hard cash from the congregation. I was reminded of a wedding I once went to (at the big church in the centre of Rye) where they had the cheek to pass the collection plate round three times at different points of the service. And then at the reception the vicar was the first one at the bar and was handing over twenty-pound notes.
I then looked up videos on how to top up screen wash on Skoda Fabias. The screen wash hasn’t been flowing quite as freely as it might in my car. I’ve never topped it up; topping up screen wash has always happened in the garage at services up until now.
It looked straightforward on the video so I got dressed…
Having spent a week fretting and worrying about topping up the screenwash it was a really simple thing to do, and was all over in less than two minutes. I was surprised at how little screenwash the thing took. Flushed with success I cleaned the windscreen wiper blades and washed the dog nose art off the back windscreen. Go me.
“er indoors TM had an errand to run in Canterbury, and with errand run we took a circuitous route home via Holly Hill. The dogs needed a walk… There is a small series of geocaches there leading the Hunters of Tupperware on a circular walk from a small car park up to a derelict tower and back again. Usually we would want a much longer walk but for a short outing for the dogs on a very windy afternoon, this was ideal.
I took a few photos whilst we were out.
Also whilst we were out I had another friend request on Facebook from what looked to be the sort of lady that my mum warned me about.
We came home following what the sat nav said was the fastest route. Sat navs seem to think that you can do the national speed limit down the narrowest of country lanes.
Once home the dogs had their paws and bellies washed, “er indoors TM put on a DVD (how old skool!) and I started reading my Kindle.
I woke up two hours later to the sound of not-so-nice-next-door playing her piano. Mostly she clangs away playing frankly dreadful attempts at scales, but just occasionally she plays a half-decent tune. Very rarely, but she managed to do so for five minutes this evening.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s Merlot, and then I scoffed some of the leftover Christmas cheese and biccies. The dogs sat with me for cheesy biccies, and on the very moment we had the last biccie they went straight back to “er indoors TM.
They make no secret as to who their favourite is.
Yesterday was dull; today was rather better.

20 January 2024 (Saturday) - Lazy Day

Just lately social media has been crawling with memes about not letting dogs go out into the cold… pretty much all posted by people with absolutely no experience of dogs whatsoever. Morgan and Bailey love going into the garden to sniff round no matter what time of day. After umpteen sessions of “silly beggars” this morning I said no – they could not go out again, and whilst I had a shave one crapped by the back door.
“er indoors TM set off out for the day leaving me and the dogs “home alone”. I made toast. Overnight a jar of honey had appeared by the toaster. As I scoffed toast I had a look at the Internet. This morning’s main argument on Facebook was about garden ponds. You wouldn’t believe how aggressive people get about garden ponds. I turn off the pumps on my pond when it gets cold. Physics tells us that water is densest at four degrees centigrade, so if you don’t stir the water, the warmest water sinks as it is heavier than the stuff which freezes at the top. Thereby leaving liquid stud for the fish to swim in.
And physics also tells us that a pond filter full of ice-cold water will freeze up and pogger itself.
However it is plain that physics holds little sway in pond keeping circles with many people demanding that pumps and filters be kept running all year long. And also with the same people asking where they can buy new pumps and filters because once their pond froze entirely, their pumps and filters got poggered by the ice as well.
I also saw that three people on my Facebook Friends list had birthdays today. I sent birthday wishes to the one who has made any effort to keep in touch over the last seven years then got the leads onto the dogs.
We drove round to Repton where I opened up the field and we had a rather good Dog Club. We chased and played and had a great time, even if there was a definite shortage of tennis balls. Some new dogs were along for the first time; they seemed a little daunted at first but soon got into the thick of things.
As all the dogs charged and played I became conscious that I couldn’t see Bailey. I whistled and Morgan came running. But not Bailey. I walked round the rest of the paddock and I heard someone calling. A woman in her dressing gown was standing on her doorstep asking if we’d lost a dog. When I looked closer I found my missing pup in her arms. Somehow Bailey had escaped. That was embarrassing.
What with errant dogs I was a tad late getting out of Dog Club this morning and so missed most of the clues for the Mystery Year competition on the radio. That was a shame; I like that.
I had considered taking the pups to Kings Wood as the Friends of Kings Wood had organised a “dog friendly” walk starting in the late morning. But after an email to the organiser it turned out that the walk wasn’t so much “dog friendly” as “dogs tolerated but must be on leads the entire time”. Bearing in mind my three are used to running free for miles round Kings Wood I thought better of going.
We came home and I harvested an epic bumper crop of dog dung from the garden. Something odd is happening in the world of dog dung; I cleared the garden of the stuff late yesterday afternoon. Could three rather small dogs *really* have generated so much poop overnight; especially when you consider that one of them (the escape artist) has a penchant for running round eating turds.
I then gently cracked the thick ice on the pond, then came inside. Once I’d got the washing machine showing my undercrackers who was boss I tried to run round with the Hoover. You’d think this would be a simple task, but both Morgan and Bailey had declared war on it and were trying to bite lumps out of it every time I moved the thing.
By the time I sat down with a cuppa and the last of the Christmas cake I was worn out. With the Hoover put away the dogs soon settled and it wasn’t long before they were snoring. I cracked on with the ironing whilst watching episodes of “Peep Show” in which our heroes were competing to “do the dirty deed” with with Big Suze.
With ironing done I sat with the dogs and read “Orange is the New Black” on my Kindle App (which gave me another award), then after a little sleep watched episodes of “Star Trek: Voyager” until “er indoors TM came home with kebabs. We scoffed kebabs whilst watching “McDonald and Dobbs”.
Sometimes you can’t beat a lazy day.

19 January 2024 (Friday) - Some Rants, Some New Friends

Apart from being rudely awoken by a cold wet nose being shoved up my bum in the small hours I slept well. There was a minor dilemma when I found we'd run out of jam and honey, so I made do with marmalade on toast as I watched an episode of "Peep Show", then I had a little look at the Internet.
This morning there was a squabble kicking off on one of the Doctor Who related Facebook pages I follow. Some chap in Portsmouth was giving away a load of Doctor Who VHS tapes to anyone who would come and collect them. People were competing to ask how far this chap was willing to travel to deliver these tapes for free, and some were getting quite nasty with him. They really didn't like being told that the tapes were being offered for free and it was unreasonable to expect him to drive a round trip of over a hundred miles to do a favour to someone he'd never previously met.
I set off to work. As I drove home yesterday the pundits on the radio said that yesterday was the last cold morning of the wintery spell and that things would be warming up today.
They lied.
It didn't take *that* long to scrape all the ice from the car's windows.
I drove to the petrol station at Ashford's Sainsburys. Despite the car's thermometer telling me it was minus four degrees, some idiot was standing at the petrol pump in Bermuda shorts and a rather flimsy jacket. There was a minor issue when I came to pay. I'd bought myself a sandwich and a bag of crisps. In the past the battleaxe on the till has expected me to scan all my shopping myself. This morning she scanned it... or tried to. She pointed the bar-code scanner in the general direction of the shopping, and waved it round and round to try to get the stuff to scan. It was painfully apparent that she was *not* going to actually touch what I was trying to buy.
I would complain, but it was actually rather amusing to watch. I suppose if you were in a rush it might be a nuisance; there's no denying that quite a queue built up whilst she farted about.
My piss boiled as I listened to the radio as drove up the motorway.  The Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has given America's President Biden (and the rest of the world) two fingers as he publicly rejected everyone's telling him to stop killing the innocent.
And OFSTED's chief inspector announced that school teachers have been forced to lock themselves in their classrooms due to "safety concerns", while other teachers have been stopped by children for stepping into 'no-go' areas in schools.
The problem in both cases is the same. We have a world ostensibly run by pussies.
In the first instance everyone should cut off all foreign aid to Israel and let them try to pay for their own wars.
In the second instance kids should be told who is in charge in the schools; by force if necessary. Seriously. If any kid tries to order a teacher about they should be thrashed in front of the rest of the school in order to discourage the impressionable. I can remember the Packington brothers getting slippered when I was at Red Lake Primary School. I was terrified; little girls watching were crying... We all knuckled down and behaved ourselves after that.
A bit old fashioned? When the bleeding heart looney lefty human rights brigade kick off, they can get knotted (sorry – not sorry!). They've had their chance and demonstrably their silly ideas didn't work. I can remember one such advocate of the bleeding heart looney lefty human rights brigade who was a leader when I was in the Boys Brigade forty-something years ago. The kids used to get away with murder and laugh in his face when he tried to reason with them. The leaders who took no crap achieved far more with the kids as the kids respected them.
I took a deep breath and drove on to work. As I drove into the car park my phone beeped. Some young lady with a frankly gargantuan chest wanted to be my friend on Facebook. She was dressed as a nurse, but I suspect that was a ruse. Proper nurses don't come in "wipe-clean" costumes.
I had a second dubious friend request at lunch time. I think this one was female as well (it is difficult to be sure). This one was also wearing a "wipe-clean" costume but was already in the bath. Was that good or bad? Mind you she looks more cross-eyed than my smallest dog and her left hand doesn’t look right. I’m not entirely sure she isn’t AI-generated.
I have to wonder what these people hope to achieve by sending me friend requests. They had stopped on the run-up to Christmas but seem to be picking up again.
With work worked I came home. In daylight, which was something of a result. “er indoors TM boiled up some fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching the last episodes of “The Reluctant Landlord”. That was a rather good show… we’ve got to find something else to watch whilst scoffing our dinner now.
Bearing in mind that if I was to press the “play” button on the Sky-Q box now, the stuff we’ve got recorded would probably play for weeks (if not months), finding something shouldn’t be an issue.

18 January 2024 (Thursday) - Rather Dull

Last night’s shift wasn’t bad, but I was still glad when the early shift rolled up. Pausing only briefly to scrape the ice from the car’s windscreen I was soon driving down the motorway listening to the pundits talking drivel on the radio. The Prime Minister has got his way getting Parliament to agree (in principle) to sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. Am I being harsh in thinking that not a single one of those coming over the channel in small boats is actually an asylum seeker? I don’t deny they are felling from something nasty, but the moment they arrived in mainland Europe they were safe and in a position to seek asylum.
There was also talk of Pakistan and Iran hurling missiles at each other.
Am I being hopelessly naïve in wondering why people can’t make the effort to get on with each other for a change?
I got home, had a shower and a shave and went to bed for a couple of hours.
On waking I took the dogs for a little wander round the roads. I’d had a message that one of my nearby geocaches had gone missing. It had, so I replaced it.
We came home, I put the kettle on and had a couple of croissants (that were going cheap in Sainsbury’s last night) for a late brekkie, and put on a film. “The Football Factory” is an old favourite of mine; is it really twenty years old? As I watched I shared a bag of pork scratchings with the dogs. They seem to like pork scratchings.
And then I had my look at the Internet. It was still there; not much had happened since I’d had a look in the small hours whilst at work. So I made a cuppa, cut myself a lump of Christmas cake, and dozed in front of the telly watching episodes of “Peep Show” until “er indoors TM came home.
The trouble with doing a night shift is that once I’ve done one, I’m no good for anything and so the day after a night shift is effectively a day wasted. Having done the ironing on Tuesday evening, the highlight of today really was sharing a bag of pork scratchings with the dogs.