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Saturday, March 29, 2003

Just been reading a blog of a student who's been studying 1960s history. The 60s, history? Oh my God, I'm old enough to remember historical times!

We had one of our regular schoolyear reunions today. There were nine of us and it was by far the best. For whatever reasons, and beer was probably a major one, we spent most of the afternoon in fits of laughter. It did me a world of good. I have however got a slight problem which I'd appreciate some input on in a non-judgemental way.

Part of our group is a woman whom we'll refer to as M, (this would be because her name begins with M and I'm not bright enough to realise I should really think of a differing letter). Now some of you may know that if an opportunity arises of a little fun with a person of the opposite sex I'm not averse, rare as it is. Now, lets start by keeping my morals out of it, since as a bloke you'll agree with them and as a female you'll disagree with them, unless your wife's looking over your shoulder in which case cover your tracks! My dilemma is this.

M brought along a friend called J (yes, it does), some meets ago. I fancy J and would ask her out but I don't know when I'll see her again. I also quite fancy M and am wondering whether to make approaches there. M knows I don't mind a bit of fun and in a previous chat amongst the group she knows that if I fancy someone I'll make a move. I haven't made a move for her yet so she might think I don't fancy her. If I do make overtures, she might be a "nice girl" and not stray from her husband. If that's the case it then might make her feel awkward about coming on the reunions and I'd miss her presence in the group. If I do make a move it would then make it awkward to go after J at a later date, but if I don't go for M but do go for J will that offend M. I don't think either of them has given me the slightest hint they might be interested, but I know in the past there was one girl who did everything but rip her clothes off in front of me to gain my attention and I didn't notice a thing.

What do I do? Go after M? Wait for a chance with J? Just go have a cold shower!?

Friday, March 28, 2003

Prepare yourselves, the age at which you become very forgetful and can't find anything is 46 1/4. So far this last fortnight I have been-
1) Hunting for some software which I had left in a cupboard, checked the cupboard at least three times a day and which turned up in the cupboard yesterday exactly where I knew it was.
2) Looking for a price list which I keep in a bag I carry round with me. Having spent ages looking and then ordering a new list from the supplier I found the previous list in the bag exactly where it was meant to be.

I don't know whether it's the happy pills, "old age", or lack of sleep that's causing it but it's getting to be a pain in the backside.

I've just checked my bank balance in case something has turned up there which was previously missing, i.e. money, but no.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Major rant alert! Major rant alert!

Here's another story in todays news about a policeman who shot dead someone with a replica gun.

I get so mad about this. Not with the police, but those who thing the police have comitted some sort of crime. Disregarding the details of this case the usual thing is, and it's not irrelevant to the above;

1) Someone is seen brandishing " a gun"
2) They have attracted enough attention for an armed response unit to be mobilised.
3) The person with "the gun" takes a member of the public hostage and threatens them with it.
4) The police shoot the person with "the gun".
5) The family bleat about how their relative was killed.

Sorry, I'm not quite seeing where the problem with the police is. If someone holds a gun to my head, I don't give a sod whether it's real or replica you have my permission to shoot them. Fast.

Nobody seems to care that the person who was held hostage might have been scared, traumatised, fearing for their life. Of course not, they are of little significance in this equation, it's all to do with the heavy handed police. Of course, if they do nothing and the gun turns out to be real, the hostage is killed which of course means it's the polices fault for doing bugger all.

As far as I'm concerned, if you go around toting guns of any description you can hardly complain if you find yourself on the wrong end of someone elses.

End of rant.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I've just realised that today is D3sk B Solutions 1st Birthday!

Happy Birthday to us,
Happy Birthday to us,
Happy Birthday all three of us,
Happy Birthday to us.

I'm filling up. Now, where's the cake and the pressies!

I like to think I know a little about direct mail advertising. This was my fathers field and although I swore I would never work for him I did do a couple of years carrying out accounting duties which meant I picked up a reasonable knowledge of such things, at least to the point where I can look at something and think it's good or bad. I know of such concepts as "sell the sizzle, not the steak". Once you ally this to knowledge of the double glazing market I can spot a letter full of bollocks from a hundred paces and I've spotted one this evening.

It's a letter from a local company whom I shan't name as I suppose they could be considered opposition so it wouldn't really be fair, but the following are the mistakes I think they made.

Firstly, just to explain, the letter is a marketing letter touting for new business. They have placed it in a sealed envelope marked private and confidential. (Not likely to endear you to anyone when it's just "junkmail"). The layout of the letter is pushed towards the top with lots of space in the bottom third so it looks out of alignment. The company logo on the letterhead has a printing fault in it which looks sloppy. In the first three line paragraph there are three grammatical mistakes that I can notice and my grammar isn't brilliant. In fact the grammar is wrong all the way through with incorrect choices of words dotted about such as the use of "effect" instead of "affect". It then goes through the process of enticing you with a special discount for being a showhouse, (old hat), and explaining that they had such a good year last year they are passing on the benefit to potential customers. (How philanthropic, I'm surprised they haven't registered themselves as a charity. And this is old hat marketing in the industry as well). The company letter is signed off and then they've spelt their companys name wrongly at the bottom.

All in all it makes a poor advertisement for the firm and as they gave their website adress I went to have a look. Their product page has three lines of text and the quote page is under construction with the typical "roadworks" graphic.

The whole thing is like someone's taken a copy of a letter from the Windows-R-Us book of marketing.

Still, I suppose the worse the competition is, the better it is for me, but I'm my fathers son, and a sloppy piece of direct mail is just too painful.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Today was our trip to Glassex 03. I daren't even begin to describe some of the amazing things we saw there for fear of sending you into a frenzy of fenestrational excitement. Actually I didn't enjoy it as much as last year. This time we knew what to expect and what was out there in the market place, last year it was like being a kid let loose in a sweet shop.

Talking of food, and to me sweets are food, we stopped at the Welcome Break Services at Oxford on the way back. We ate in The Red Hen which cosisted of an incompetent waiter who managed to take our order for sausage & mash, double cheeseburger, and two diet cokes and walk to the till and punch it in as sausage & mash, all-day breakfast and two pots of tea, and then charge us an extra £2 over what we should have been charged. Still, at least this one was open, the Red Hen at Warwick was closed, I mean, whoever would want to eat at 6:30 in the evening?

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Kev has been telling me today that Andie, his wife, as part of her church activities, has been putting together an "emergency pack". The idea being that if as a result of present events they should have to lock themselves away for 72 hours, (not quite certain what events would require the evacuation of Weybridge, but let's not dwell on that bit as it is of no matter here), you have emergency rations and other necessary items to just keep you going.

As he told me the contents of their box I had a vision of other families down in their cellars or whatever and opening their packs containing bottled water, tinned food and perhaps a game or two to keep the kids amused. Imagine, should it have been required at tea-time yesterday, Kev as head of the household opening the box to discover the main contents. A fondue set!

Hands up anyone else who knows someone whose idea of emergency rations includes fondue. By the way, there was no cheese in there to go with it!

Sometimes you just know you're going to be hitting your head against a brick wall.

Cliff, who runs Window 3xchange whom we may take over, is of the old school when it comes to selling. He was 65 yesterday so if anyone has a right to old school membership I guess it's him. One of the things I am looking at introducing is the computerisation of the records using the computer which stands in a corner of the office and is treated pretty much like objet d'art. I have been assessing a package from Ab Initio which, if the software runs to it's best, would control everything in the back office in exactly the way he has said he wants, except there is a problem.

Cliffs idea of record keeping is reasonable, but only when it's reached the stage of being a contract, even he realising that you need to have some sort of record. Admittedly, in extreme cases where he knows the customer, this consists of a contract with "price as per survey" written across it. Not exactly the most useful of information. I have explained today how much detail is required to have the software work at full potential, and despite him agreeing that this must be done, he just isn't the sort of person who answers a phone call and takes notes. I reckon it won't last more than a week before good intentions are forgotten.

Then again, he will be paying for it, whether he uses it or not I have been able to assess the system for D3sk B to use and we probably will, so I shouldn't really complain, but I still might stock up on aspirin just to be on the safe side!

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Just opened the post to find I've been sent two £10 off vouchers for Tootsies in Ealing. That's where we'll be eating tomorrow then.

Just jotting down a few notes abut the impending war with Iraq. And I don't suppose they will find much favour with visitors here either.

If we'd have been allowed to finish the job properly and depose Saddam Hussein last time we probably wouldn't be at this point now.

If I hear one more peace protester going on about how the government is dragging us to a) the edge of an abyss, b) to a nuclear war, c) anything dramatic really, I shall scream. The only people who are really going to be affected in the U.K. are those with service/diplomatic family members out there as well as Iraqi ex-pats. There will no doubt be plenty of coverage of the war but in all honesty I doubt it will ever become so serious that they move Eastenders from it's place in the schedules.

Hopefully we won't lose the majority of our casualties to friendly fire as I think was the case last Gulf War.

If the coalition kill civilians because they are being used as human shields by the Iraqi powers that be, that does not make our side the murderers.

I now understand that the use of the journalists in the front line is to try to get something approaching an honest report of the war. i.e. the use of human shields at military targets rather than just showing the bodies and claiming them as civilian casualties. I accept that there can be no such thing as totally honest reporting as there always will be some censoring.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in this war will be too many, but nowhere near the amount that Saddam has killed over the years for his own ends.

I wish the war wasn't happening.

I hope my brother in law comes back o.k.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Sorry for the lack of posts. There's a heck of a lot of work going on and when the work recedes I need to do quite a lot of thinking about things. Time is the enemy, not a lack of will.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

If you're old enough to remember Junior Choice or maybe even Childrens Favourites then you can't fail to remember Right Said Fred by Bernard Cribbins, one of the many comedy songs that amused us kids back then. For those of a slightly younger age it was this song that the early '90s group named themselves after. As a real treat you can download the song here in real audio format to sing along to.

There was a point to this post however, which was that today I helped Kev move a piano into his home. That's what put me in mind of the song. It was only an upright but still took 5 of us to control it on it's outward journey from the donor and 7 of us to get it into his house. Pianos are incredibly heavy bits of stuff. Despite the fact that we were all tremendous manly specimens, honed to the peak of physical perfection, (Oi, shut it!), there was a lot of breathlessness, swearing, laughter, swearing, puzzlement, swearing and general taking of the piss. Injuries were luckily only rendered to the piano, a piece of the bottom tearing off where we dropped it on a step, and a door frame, where we lost directional control and drove into it at an angle. The piano is now at it's final resting place in the front room and Kevs son, Christopher, for whom the piano was obtained, is already well on his way to driving the next door neighbours to homicidal thoughts. Kev too is wondering whether we should have perhaps dropped the piano slightly more often and from a slightly higher point.

Friday, March 14, 2003

The answer to my previous post is that I was visiting Embassies. Now you know that, you can probably follow the cryptic hints from Nick/DNC. Embassies are always an extention of the country they represent rather than the territory of the country they are hosted in, if that makes sense. i.e. the French Embassy in London is French territory not English.

For three years one of the most interesting contracts I had when couriering was to deliver diplomatic diaries to all the Embassies and Consulates in London, from memory about 120, and very strange some of them were too. I suppose my "highlights" were;

The most threatening - Probably the Russian Embassy, (may still have been USSR back then). Walking down the drive you could see the cctv cameras following you. As you approached the door it automatically opened and the two things you noticed first were the armed Red Guards (machine guns) and the massive portrait of President Gorbachev. They were friendly enough but I always found that one a bit disconcerting.

The most beautiful - The Japanese Embassy opened into a carved mahogany wood panelled room. I'm not a great lover of wood but it was truly wonderful.

The most security conscious One or two of the Middle Eastern Embassies insisted on opening every package (30-40) while I waited so they could check the contents.

The most easy going - Strangely, following my previous award, it was the Israeli Embassy which always seemed pretty laid back secutiry wise where I'd expected them to be very hardline. I'm not saying they weren't security conscious, more that they carried it off with low-key ease.

The most surprising - The Dutch Embassy could be a real pain. They would get all security minded and insist on finding the correct people to take delivery. They were nearly as hard line as the Middle Eastern embassies but, perhaps on the face of it you would have thought, with less need.

The one I never found - The Papal Nunciate. I had the address, I was in the right place, but I never found it. Within weeks of giving up the courier company and working for 3verest I had an appointment that led me straight past the door. Typical.

Hopefully I haven't broken too many bits of the Official Secrets Act by mentioning this. If it all goes very quiet for the next few weeks you'll know I was carted away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I heard a lateral puzzle today which I didn't get, (no surprise there), but was annoyed I hadn't because it was relevant to me. So for your delectation I present it to you here, corrupted to make me the star of the piece, as you would expect when dealing with the ego of a blogger.

In 1990 I spent three weeks visiting over 50 countries. I never had a passport but was welcomed by each and left of my own accord. How come?

Answer when I can be bothered. Or probably by the first person to visit because I was the last person never to have heard this question before.

Trying to do three jobs at once isn't really working. It would be bearable if it generated three lots of income but I appear to have found one of those rules whereby the number of jobs you do reduces your income by the multiple of the number of jobs.

Kennamatics Rule of Income

W = S/J

W = New wage or income.
J = New total number of jobs.
S = Salary of when you only had one job.

Actually things are probably a bit worse than that. I think I should add the extention " x 0 "!

Monday, March 10, 2003

Went to buy some light bulbs at Homebase today, looked for the loyalty cards to get my measly few reward points and discovered it wasn't in my wallet. No problem, I know where it is, but what is it about wallets these days and card storage. My wallet contains far more bits of plastic than cash notes, unfortunately. My wallet has 5 spaces for cards but the cards I carry on me which I may need at no notice are;

Bank Cash Card.
My bank credit card.
Tesco Clubcard.
Company Debit Card.
Nectar Loyalty card.
Lindas Credit card.
M&S card.
W H Smith loyalty card.
My company Nectar loyalty card.
My company Tesco Clubcard.
Bank Cheque Guarantee card.
Body Shop Loyalty card.
Capital One credit card.
My casino membership card.
Old Orleans Restaurant discount card.
RAC breakdown card.
Walton Snooker Club Membership card.
MENSA membership card. (just until my face gets known).
Office World Loyalty card.
Kinetica Gym Membership card.
Company P.O.Box no. identification card.

I then have around a dozen others I would quite like on me but I no longer have enoungh room to carry them. I know there are the big fold out credit card wallets but I'm running out of pockets and I can't quite bring myself to carry a handbag.

How many do you carry at all times?

Saturday, March 08, 2003

I was listening to a snippet of radio where they were discussing a number of anti- and pro-war records which are being released in the next few days and weeks. The presenter was mentioning that perhaps we could fight wars by each side singing at each other. This is a great idea, particularly as the UK has, under the auspices of The Eurovision Song Contest a number of relevant and highly strategic songs to fight with.

In the beginning when we need to know who is backing which side we should open with Making Your Mind Up. There's bound to be a few straglers and perhaps we could entice them to our cause with a rousing chorus of Save All Your Kisses For Me. As we get down to the final few days we can form our allies up towards the front line and serenade them with Power To All Our Friends. This will have an added advantage, because if we get Cliff Richard there to lead the singing he will no doubt resort to the rather hilarious arm waving dance that he performs to this number and will distract the enemy by forcing them to collapse with laughter. Then we hit them with the artillery - Boom Bang-a-Bang. They'll never know what hit them and our glorious choir boys will return home with the sound of Congratulations ringing in their ears.

There would be one other advantage at the present time in carrying out warfare this way. At the moment no-one knows what to do after the war is finished if the regime is changed. Under our rules of engagement you would just install a Puppet On A String!

Thursday, March 06, 2003

I just think this is a great headline - Cher's Wig Recovered.

I just have visions of a thief running down the road with the ageing, cosmetically enhanced singer and her entourage charging after them.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

We are about to have the Second Gulf War and what's in the news today? Cheshire Bakery May Have World's Biggest Sandwich.

This is the sort of story that makes you proud to be British!

It reminds me of my favourite sketch from Alas Smith and Jones. It was one of the news headline type sketches;

Smith (Newsreader) - A British man was seriously hurt in Beirut today............................by a comment about the cut of his suit.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

It's 22 years today since Linda and I started going out. You'd have thought I'd have been let off now for good behaviour wouldn't you!?

Monday, March 03, 2003

6000 extra troops are going out to Kuwait tomorrow and my brother-in-law is one of them. We were hoping he was missing this tour.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Did a bit of geocacing this morning on the way to see my mum. She's not had a good couple of weeks so we decided we'd go out for a drive and find a pub somewhere for lunch. Me and mum in a car is usually a recipe, if not for disaster, for at least a large amount of laughing as I can never find anywhere when we are together. Give me an address to find under normal circumstances and I'll drive straight to it, put my mum in the car and I'll probably never turn up. Our greatest "success" was years ago when I first learnt to drive.

My mum and dad had split up when I was about 16 so as soon as I passed my driving test the following year my mum, brother, who would have been 12/13 at the time, and myself would go for days out. We really wanted to get to Chessington Zoo, this was the days before it became a theme park. Off we went one week looking for a fun day out but we never got there, despite following signs for Chessington. No problem, the following week we set off again in high hopes and still no success. We weren't however going to let this beat us. We hatched our failsafe plan. The number 65 bus, which went from Ealing Broadway ran to Chessington Zoo on a Sunday. All we had to do was follow it. And follow it we did. Through Brentford, by Richmond, past Kingston, it's normal destination, towards Hook and then...............disaster. We got caught at a set of lights as the bus trundled casually around the next corner. The light went green and I stepped on the gas, but to no avail, the bus had disappeared into thin air and worse still, we didn't know where we were. (No we didn't have a map, I don't need maps, I'm a man!). It had taken us about an hour and a half to get that far and we then spent the next half hour curled up with laughter, the normal result of a days outing. Around then, the same bus came back the other way, so we turned round, no doubt using my recently admired 3 point turn, and followed the bus back to civilisation. We never ever got to Chessington.

Today, we had no particular destination in mind, but we arrived at the one my mum needed most, lost in the middle of the Hertfordshire countryside, with tears of laughter pouring down her face. No amount of maps, no amount of planning and no amount of skill could have improved that journey.