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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Bisto have launched a range of roast potatoes just like they've been done "round the Sunday Joint" as the advertising blurb on the packet says. As they are suitable for vegetarians it must have been a nut roast then.

And whilst on the subject of food, I noticed a pasta called malloredus. It always reminds me of the Disney character Maleficent, the queen in Sleeping Beauty. She scared me witless when I was a young lad, her and Big Chief Kalamakooya, even though he was meant to be a goodie.

Well, if this doesn't prove the failure of our education system I don't know what does. The standard of spelling nowadays is atrocious. And bless The times for looking on the positive side about the possible meaning of the mis-spelling but I think they are probably divesting too much intelligence upon the perpetrators. In my day, graffiti vandals had some sort of style and a basic knowledge of English. I fear we will no more see the likes of "Cats Like Plain Crisps" which was famous in West London and many an evenings beer consumption was spent in philosophical debate about the hidden meaning contained within those four short words.

Of course it could have been "Cats Like Cheese and Onion Crisps". The memory goes, particularly after the number of beers spent in reflection.

Driving through Richmond yesterday I noticed the sales sign for a new development of houses just built on the site of an old school.

Rush quick, 3 bedroom houses "start from just £649,999". How do they have the cheek to use the word "just".

It's madness I tell you, madness.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Kev's eldest daughter is a lucky young lady. She's just turned 17 and her boyfriend of the last few months is a nice young man, or at least he seems so. Toms father is also a successful business man. One reason they perhaps seem to get on so well is that she's quite maternal, even at her age, and Tom lost his mum 4 years ago and I suspect they fit quite well from that point of view, and there's nothing wrong with that if that is the case.

Last week Toms dad decided that they should look for a new holiday home and was considering Lake Como in Italy. Rather than just go look himself he decided he'd make a treat of it for his family and busines partner. So his dad hires a private plane with his business partner, their two girlfriends, Tom and Kelly, and Toms sister and boyfriend, and the 8 of them fly out from Farnborough to the nearest airport to Como. That would have been a treat in itself, but just to get the idea of what the area was like, he had also chartered a yacht from a friend for the next day and they spent a glorious day on the lake, looking around before flying back to Farnborough.

Some people might decide that it was all a bit ostentatious but Toms dad is a really nice bloke, he does have money, but he has worked hard to get it, and Kev has always found him to be pleasant, down to earth, and a genuinely nice guy. I think he just fancied a treat and sharing it. And for Kelly, it was a trip she will never ever forget. Particularly as it happened on her 17th birthday.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I discovered today that if you drop a carrier bag with three jars of beetroot in it onto a concrete floor, they smash.

Now, that's probably not going to win me the Nobel Prize for Physics this year, and neither is the news that Waitrose "Bags For Life" are not particularly good beetroot juice holding containers.

So I'm stood outside out back door on the walkway bleeding juice all over the walkway. As befits my role as a bloke I just stood there and looked at it. Eventually I decided that this wasn't improving matters so I moved the bag and got beetroot juice all over my computer case.

In the end I left the bag outside the back door and then removed it down to the garage when I left home again this evening. Our walkway now has a stain on it which looks as though it was the site for the Valentines Day Massacre. Still no doubt the rain will get rid of it by diluting it and then sending it over the edge onto the property below.

I can't begin to tell you how impressed Linda was.

When I got the present car I knew there was a problem with the sun roof not fitting quite correctly. "Yes" you're thinking "and today water came pouring through in the rain".

Well, no, you're wrong, so there. The water may be getting in via the sunroof but it actually enters the inside of the car via the lights above the central console.

If I had water pouring through the ceiling in the house and running out of the light fittings I would be aware that the fuses might blow at best, and a severe electrocution might take place at worst. As it's in the car I don't seemed to be so worried. Should I be, or is the worst case scenario that I might experience a slight tingle.

At my age, a slight tingle is the best one can hope for. And even then, not too often.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

My mum is the treasurer for the social committee at the flats where she lives. It's getting to her a bit now after 5 years. The work itself isn't a problem as although they are active they probably only have 20-30 financial transactions a month, but she's suffering the usual blues of anyone who has served on such a body.

No matter what you do, no matter how well it's organised, no matter how cheap the cost, the residents do nothing but moan. I've explained it's the same with virtually every social comittee you serve on. I've done it twice. It was exactly the same. On one occasion we decided that we were so fed up with the continual criticism we chose exactly what the comittee wanted to do for the annual outing instead of garnering opinion. Of course, loads of people complained, the typists didn't go because one of the girls in another department wouldn't go, all that usual thing, and in the end 14 of us out of a 115 staff had a great day out, spent all the money and had a wonderful time. Come the next AGM we all offered to resign but of course, they all preferred moaning than actually doing something positive.

But back to my Mum. There is a new woman come to live in the flats, and although she won't take over this year, she will help Mum out and then take over the year after. That is assuming that the moaners don't frighten her off first.

My return trip to Devon to pick Kev up will be Saturday so at least that's one day this week when I know what I'm doing.

It would be useful if the drug companies could come up with a "get your head in gear" pill. I haven't had a drink since Kev went away 10 days ago, it must be the lack of beer affecting me!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Blimey, Eliminator by ZZ Top is 21 years old. How can that be?

Today I visited Hanwell Carnival. It's held in our local park and I haven't been for years. When I was a kid it seemed quite grand but now it looks exactly like what it is, a local fair put on by local people.

It always starts with a procession of floats which parade through the district before terminating at the park. As a Cub & Scout we always had a float and whilst I must have been on at least half a dozen or more over the years the only one I can remember is where I was dressed as a little dutch girl! (Dont ask, and no there aren't any pictures!).

Chatting with a friend yesterday who works in I.T. he was saying that he was explaining to a young guy in his department that he was 26 before he touched a computer. The young man said he meant a p.c., but John had to explain that no, he meant any sort of computer. It was no doubt the arrival of the ZX Spectrum that started him on his career. What a great invention that was. By programming it yourself for about half an hour you could actually get it to multiply two single figure sums together!

My dad had one, he was very excited with it and I too had a go at this programming lark and there was a sense of satisfaction on finally getting the equation into the system and working.

John was saying that this colleague, who's in his early 20s, just looked at John as though it had never occurred to him there was a time without computers.

Computer technology has moved on so swiftly in those 25 years. When I started my courier business in the late 1980s I bought myself an Amstrad 3286. It cost over £3000 with an early Canon bubble jet printer. I was told the hard disk was so immense that I would never need to buy another computer ever again. Indeed, I never did fill the hard disk space, all 33mb of it.

I suppose for those youngsters now who have their first computers, they will look back and talk about when you only had 80gb of storage, there were actually towers the size of shoe boxes for all these drives, and people actually recorded data on c.d.

Still, musn't wallow in nostalgia for too long otherwise I'll have to reminisce about the first time I saw a VATman calculator!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

One of the good things about the IVA is that if a creditor gets in touch I can use it like cross in the face of a vampire and they shrink back.

Perhaps insolvency practitioners should club together and run adverts along the lines of "IVAs, every home should have one, stuns 99% of known creditors instantly."

I've seen a veg van! It's years since I've seen anyone selling fresh produce from the back of a van in the street. Maybe it goes on all over the country still, but the proximity of so many local supermarkets to where I live has reduced the need not only for mobile purveyors of comestibles, but has pretty much seen off the local shops as well. We are lucky that we still have one on the local parade of shops and in fact it's not too bad a mix compared to some places. Starting at my end of the parade we have;

Dry Cleaners, Nepalese Tandoori, The New Happiness Garden Chinese Restaurant (highly recommended), Plumb Base, Grocery Store, Tote Bookmakers, A trade lighting distributor, A very strange souvenir shop, (why, in the middle of a London suburb with no passing tourist trade), an industrial washing machine company, a hairdressers, Post Office, Newsagents, Off Licence, Irish Bar (and centre of local crime wave!), Chinese Take-away, an empty shop, previously an estate agent and presently metamorphosising into something else.

One upon a time it also included a butcher, a baker, no candle stick maker!, a proper chemist and a hardware store where you could buy small amounts of nails/fuses/screws/other bits and pieces and not a mega-jumbo-family-gargantuan tub of 5000 nails when you want to join just two bits of wood together.

You can see my age showing again. First it starts off as a nostalgic walk through yesteryear and then turns into a rant about modern shopping practices and "it weren't like that in the old days" monologue. There you go, the truth will out. Now, where have I put my Werthers Originals?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

On my way back to Waterloo Station I was stopped by an old woman, probably in her sixties or seventies, whom I presumed to be either homeless or hosteled, who was about to touch me up for some money. I explained her bad run of luck continues. With 10 million people working in London each day she's just picked someone who's up for bankruptcy. I was however able to give her the correct time and a few minutes conversation, the first she'd had that day.

Postponed from yesterday, I visited The High Courts today to swear an affadavit and hand in my application for an IVA.

I would have taken photos but they aren't up for that. It's not a dramatically beautiful building inside, although you would recognise the outside as whenever someone is cleared of murder on appeal etc, it is often this building that you see behind the reporter, but it has got both the majesterial and magesterial feel you would expect walking through the great hall of the highest court in the UK judicial system. Various portraits of past Lord Chief Justices look down upon you as you walk the 200 odd feet to the other end and the other buildings beyond. There is a feel in the air that the place is important, but it isn't overpowering in a negative way.

There were people being led around by what I imagine were solicitors or junior barristers, the silks moving between courts, of which there appears to be the best part of 100 housed there, courts that is. All down the middle of the hall are the boards with the days hearings listed, starting with those in front of the Lord Justices and then slowly moving down the judicial heirarchy. Cases involved mainly in obtaining rulings on points of law which have the potential to affect our lives should we find ourselves in the same predicament as those named to appear.

Whether you can get into the actual courts I have no idea, but you are certainly allowed into the great hall and it's enclaves as they allow you through the security checks without knowing what business brings you there. Oh, and they even have a souvenir shop! I didn't go in because I was pressed for time, but if I have to go back again I will definitely check out what they stock. Perhaps a teddy in judges robes, or a nodding Lord Denning for the back shelf of your car, maybe even a t-shirt inscribed "my parents appeared at The High Courts of Justice on appeal and all I got was this lousy horse-hair wig!".

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Whilst on about adverts. I like the one from someone who is publishing a guide to Wimbledon 2004. It's loads of amateur tennis players making complete prats of themselves as they infest the public courts for those two weeks a year.

Many a true word filmed in jest.

I saw an advert on telly as I passed through the kitchen from the government agency that deals with cleanliness in the home. That's probably the Dept of Environment, but I aren't certain. Anyway, they were extolling the virtues of cleanliness to stop the spread of food poisoning.

I suspect it was sponsored by The Obssesive Compulsive Assoc of Great Britain. No wonder people get paranoid about cleanliness. All they had to do was actually show people cleaning their hands between touching each item and it'd have been a documentary into OCD.

I think there certainly are rules to follow, such as not leaving fresh meat out of a fridge during this weather and other common sense rules like that, but they've managed to make it look like a trail of death and destruction just because you touch a piece of meat and then touch something else. There is a strong body of opinion that one reason the nations health isn't as good as it once was is that we are trying to make our living arrangements as sterile as possible. If we don't have germs about we can't build up a resistance, and if we don't have the resistance we'll find people reacting badly to infections we have dealt with for years.

I remember my Grandma, and my mother still, using the expression "we all eat our pound of dirt" for when stuff got dropped on the floor and just quickly rinsed under the tap. Whether we ever eat a pounds worth or not let's not add cleanliness to the scare stories we are surrounded with.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Tomorrow I go to theHigh Court to swear an affadavit for my voluntary agreement to stave off the bankruptcy. It will be the first time I've been to that court. I'd like to feel that perhaps I now have such court experience that this visit has been bestowed as an honour for my service to keeping various ushers throughout the London courts in employment.

Kevin's gone to stay with friends in Devon for a fortnight and I acted as chauffeur. The 400+ mile round trip was broken up with a stop at Stonehenge for an ice-cream. Picture commemorating the event is here. I'm obviously the good looking taller one!

Soon, not only will you not be able to park there, but you won't see it by car either. They are building a road tunnel through the area. Whilst this may well help the stones, thought not those who will have to walk 2 miles from the proposed car park and visitor centre, but you will not see it on the journey to or from the South West. It's one of those landmarks on the journey by which you know how well you are doing time wise.

Not too far past that there is a mixture of single and dual carriageways and we crested a hill and there, some 200 yards away, were the Police checking speed limits with a mobile unit. I think I was probably o.k. anyway but I had the presence of mind to show the road conditions just in case. I was probably only doing mid-60s but certainly not the 70mph limit However, if it is true that they only cover accident blackspots, and it has nothing to do with increasing revenue, can anyone explain why this section of road was chosen!

I shall be repeating the journey in reverse to get Kev, but not necessarily repeating the ice-cream experience. And also hopefully not repeating the heat. I knew there would come a day when I really missed having air-conditioning in the car!

Friday, June 11, 2004

I can't exactly say thay I'm awaitingthe election results with baited breath. It's the first time that I can honestly say I felt absolutely no interest in an election. I did vote, but no-one inspired me in any of the voted we had to make in London.

I had a drink with a lifelong Labour-supporting friend yesterday evening and he was telling me for the first time ever he hadn't voted for Labour. I wasn't sure who to vote for either and a bit of tactical voting in the end.

Whilst this was not a General Election, although you wouldn''t know it from the way the media go on, I think there is a malaise setting in big time. I thinkk it comes from many people being turned off by media politics instead of engaging with people. In the end who wants to vote for sound-bites.

When Margaret Thatcher was P.M. there were many who couldn't stand her and others who thought she walked on water. Whichever side of the fence people were on at least there were strong opinions. It's what we need now from politics. Something to get our teeth into.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Time to get sheared I think. My hair isn't as long as it was when I was at school, but it's over my collar which was the sign that the headmaster would be gunning for you. If I have it cut shorrt enough the next one will be due just before Blackpool so I'm looking good for all those ladies in Blackpool.

No comments about best keep it long then!

And as surely as night follows day it looks like Kevs marriage has finally collapsed. Those of us who've known him for years have been waiting for this to happen. There has been an inevitability that it had to come to this point.

He has temporarily moved out to his Dads, but come the weekend he is likely to go down to Devon to see friends for a fortnight or so. Don't know how Andie will cope. Her family and the church will have to look after her wellbeing, but in the long run, if her life is to improve she needs to get into therapy. The breakup of the marriage has been a self-fulfilling prophecy for her. She's always gone on about how this happens in marriages and has pretty much driven him to this point. No doubt, as always, she will work on the fact that not one iota of blame can be laid at her door. She needs help, I hope she gets it.

Who knows whether they'll manage to patch things up, again, but it will only be like trying to build a wall in an eartquake. I've done split-up and divorce before and I didn't have kids involved and he isn't going to find it at all easy. Work for him stops for the moment whilst he gets sorted.

When things like this happen I always think of Cliff Richards' "When Two Worlds Drift Apart". I guess it must have been out when mine was going on.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Not often a technological advance in our industry hits the headlines.

Self-cleaning glass.

Not the first of it's kind, but potentially the first that actually works. We have just used it in one of our installations.

It does have some restrictions though. You can't use it if the window has lead or face fixed georgian bars.

It also has the possibility that if we can get burglars to stick to it they will slowly be eaten away thereby ridding society of a problem.

Too humid. Don't like it!

Saturday, June 05, 2004

My good friend J.C. reaches his 60th birthday this year. I have on occasion produced either a poem or photocard to celebrate previous birthdays, none of which, being as it is he who introduced me to my annual Blackpool escapades, can be reproduced here. He has "commissioned" me to write a poem to celebrate this momentous occasion so I am considering plagearising If by Rudyard Kipling.

It's as well that RK is dead otherwise I think he might be on the warpath.

If however, I just can't get it to work, I'll have to devise a new opus instead.

The church activity went off well. I think Kev was pleased and the youths involved seemed to enjoy it all.

Andie and I managed to avoid each other all night and made sure we were never in the same room together, which required a reasonable amount of nifty footwork to achieve.

So, now having strained a muscle playing badminton, thrilled myself with an amazing skill at shove halfpenny and been the guinea-pig for testing the photo round and discovering, or really confirming, that I am useless at them, that is the end, so it's back to work.

I discovered afterwards that the young man I had picked to help with the registration process, and who probably registered as many competitors as the rest put together, was autistic. Everyone had been a bit worried about how he might be but he handled it admirably. I'm glad they hadn't told me in advance in case I'd have allowed them to persuade me otherwise as to the suitability of him doing the job.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Kev is running an event for his church youth group tomorrow night. I've sort of helped out and am probably going to be there. This really pleases his wife, not. She already thinks I'm the anti-christ and I suspect she will be doing everythng she can behind the scenes to get me excluded. It's no big deal to me whether I'm there or not, but Kev needs a hand with some of the scorekeeping etc and as I've devised all the score sheets it makes sense for me to oversee it.

I can't honestly say that part of my motivation isn't because I know it is winding her up. I'm afraid I care little if people hate me that I don't care about, and she falls into that category, but if they want to try playing silly buggers with me, they'll have picked the wrong person.

She really is a deeply unhappy person, and I shouldn't goad her for that reason, but she believes in her own perfection to such a degree, and hates others with such an animosity, that I can't stop myself really.

Anyway, if anyone else at the church asks that I don't attend I will of course oblige them. I'm not out to cause trouble, just to undermine her.

For someone who believes herself to be a strongly religious person she shows little or no sign of tolerance, forgiveness, love, humlity or virtually any other trait that one would assume a Christian to have.

Why is it that those who proclaim their piety the loudest usually have the least reason to do so!