Saturday, 30 April 2011

What's That Coming Over The Hill?.............

Don't you just hate it when you hear a noise downstairs late at night, and in spite of your age and maturity, part of you still thinks it is a mad axeman waiting to chop you up into little pieces?

There I was in bed last night alone (just in case you wondered), when I heard a noise downstairs. This noise sounded just like the noise my bathroom door makes when it bangs gently against the latch as it is blown by the draught caused by my bathroom window being open. In fact, it sounded so much like it, that ninety percent of my brain told me that it was just my bathroom door banging against the latch.

The trouble is, that late at night,  I don't listen to the ninety percent of my brain. I only listen to the nervous, paranoid ten percent  - the ten percent that was saying "it could just be the bathroom door banging.....but it could also be a psychotic, axe-wielding zombie pirate trying to lure you downstairs." I lay there for a moment, listening. The noise from downstairs continued rhythmically - almost too rhythmically to be just a draught moving the door. As I contemplated my next move, I knew that I wouldn't be able to sleep while the banging noise continued downstairs, but at the same time I didn't want to nip down in my birthday suit (a wrinkly, mo-hair type little number that has seen better days) and come face to face with this:


Mind you, if I had come face to face with this thing whilst I was naked, it would be a toss up (and that is SO not the right phrase to use) who would be the more scared - him or me.

And this is where the problem lies; I like being scared (if you had met my ex-wife, you would understand), and I like horror films, especially the more modern ones with Zombies in. However, once I have watched one, my imagination tries to convince me that in every room with the light off, or in the garden at night there are hordes of these flesh eating monsters just waiting to pounce. As a result, I nearly soil myself every time I lock up and switch off the lights.

That's the thing about the imagination. When I lock up at night, I'm assured that a basic lock in a upvc door will stop a gang of murderers, robbers and pirates from ever getting in and murdering me, stealing my property, and.......erm..........pirating about the place. I find it funny to imagine this group of baddies hiding in the darkness, as I lock my door and say "that'll keep the robbers, murderers and pirates out" - and then they all give a disappointed groan and trudge off, like a group of four year olds at a party that have just been told the clown isn't coming.

I know that there aren't any Zombies waiting for me in the corner of my bathroom while the light is out, but fear is irrational - it removes the comforting, and replaces it with our deepest terrors. So I'll always lock up as fast as I can, and run to turn the light on - because we all know that all monsters are susceptible to a thirty watt bulb.

And of course, if you are to scared to go down and face the monsters or the mad axe man, that are patiently waiting for you (they have got other people to scare you know), you can always resort to the age old, tried and tested anti monster/murderer protection system of pulling the duvet over you head. Nothing protects against axes or flesh eating zombies like a load of polyester stuffed into a cotton outer.

As I finish typing this, I notice the sun has set and darkness surrounds my house. Right now, the zombies, axe murderers, robbers, and pirates, are all congregating in the dark shadows of my garden - discussing the continuing good weather, and how fabulous the Royal Wedding was (perhaps).

In a moment I shall lock my back door - and tell them to bugger off.

Friday, 29 April 2011

It's All About You!

I've just spent an interesting couple of hours in the company of a spectacularly fabulous young lady. Before you all start putting two and two together (and getting five), it wasn't like that. She's not that interesting.

But she is funny and clever, and a joy to be around. I offered to pick her up from work, as I was just sat at home bored with the Royal Wedding. The wedding itself was great to see, but the whole televised event dragged on a bit for me. So, I sent my friend a text offering my taxi services - and sure enough she accepted. I knew she would, the alternative was to get her mother to come pick her up, but she was at a party celebrating the Royal Wedding.

I duly arrived at my friends workplace at 5:15pm, knowing that she wouldn't be finished until 5:30pm. I learnt very quickly not to be late in picking her ladyship up, because when she starts complaining she really complains. So there I was, sat in my car choosing a new CD to play on the journey home when bugger me sideways with a rusty old egg whisk, madam comes strolling out of work ready to leave! And it was only 5:20pm!

I looked at her through the windscreen with a surprised look on my face (here is an example of my surprised look). She looked back at me, and gave me a weird smile - which immediately aroused my suspicions. Something was up.........
She got in the car with her customary greeting - "Lazzer-Bean!!". I asked her if she was alright, and she said yes. I told her that she looked like she had something to tell me. Without looking at me, she said "I've been sacked."

It was then that I realised what was different about her. She hadn't been sacked - she'd been drinking! It quickly transpired that she and her boss had drunk two bottles of wine to "celebrate" the Royal Wedding. By the looks of her, my friend had done most of the celebrating - he eyes were rolling in her head, and she was slurring her words terribly.

I drove her home, and came in to have cup of coffee. Fortunately for me, my friend just happens to live with the best dogs in the world. For those of you who are not familiar with the BDITW, here they are:
These fabulous dogs are Herbie & Joey, and the lovely Megan - and to me they are the best dogs in the world. So I got to catch up with these guys, and have a good old chinwag with my friend. It was all good.

It was also fairly random. You see, you never know quite what you are going to get when he start a conversation. For example, topics in today's conversation included the following:
  • A 'hot' black boy with a six pack. (my apologies if I have used a non politically correct term here - I'm confused as to what is correct and what isn't!)
  • Why Bournemouth is the new "Oak"
  • Why it is better to have a home, than £10,000 in your pocket.
  • How "Banana" is the word most commonly used by my friend in conversation these days.
As you can see, it really is a mixed bag.

All too soon I'm afraid, the time came for me to go home. I was going to wait to say hi to my friends mother, who was due back shortly to feed BDITW - but I was feeling a wee bit nervous at seeing her after so long, as I still love her. So I made my excuses, and left.

On the way home, I felt happy for spending such quality time with my friend, and sad that she, and her brother, and their mum, and BDITW are no longer a major part of my life.

I don't get to see my friend very often, and out of those three previously mentioned people it is only her that keeps in regular touch - which is ironic, because we didn't really get along very well when she was a big part of my life.

In terms of the time we now spend together, it's definitely quality over quantity.

Love you, you goon!! xxx

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Not For The Squeamish (or the Hamish?)

There's a strange knocking noise coming from one wall of my lounge. I don't know if it is the people next door doing something, or if there is something moving about in the wall itself - a rat perhaps. This is an old house, so I suppose that the rat theory is possible although it doesn't sound like scurrying - more like a rat tapping in picture hooks so it can hang tiny pictures of its relatives up. I've just noticed that the noise has stopped, which can mean one of three things: A) It wasn't a rat, B) It is a rat, but he's run out of picture hooks and has nipped out to Homebase to buy some more, or C) It is a rat, he has plenty of picture hooks, but he only has a small family - possibly due to the new traps that have been put down locally.

Maybe it's a rat who has lost his entire family to rat traps and rat poison, and is so depressed that it has decided to end it all, and was building itself a tiny gallows from which to hang itself. Maybe as I type, it's tiny body is swinging lifeless from a length of cotton. Maybe there is a tiny note on the floor beneath the hanging corpse of the rat, confessing to the pain an anguish it felt at the loss of it's family, and how it just couldn't go on any longer. Maybe later, two of the rats friends will come round and find it there and the note, and the full horror and terrible sadness of the whole event will be revealed.

Or maybe it was just the folks next door moving furniture or something.

I'm off to Scotland in just over a weeks time. I'm going up to Fort William in the Highlands, and I am going with my best friend and his brothers and sister. This is an annual trip that my best friend makes, but I haven't gone in the past six years - ever since I've been living in Dorset in fact - because I have had other priorities. I am really looking forward to going again, it will be such a good laugh. I'm not sure what our itinerary this year is - in previous years we have had a base at Fort William, and would then have days out to places - the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, the Glenfiddich distillery to name a few. I'm sure we will do something similar this year. Or maybe something new, who knows?
In terms of me getting to Scotland, the plan as it stands for me is that I drive to Essex on the 5th of May after work (I'd like to finish early that day, please boss) and stay with one of my best friends brothers overnight. On the morning of the 6th, we pick up the other brother and I drive to Peterborough, which is where my best friend lives.
The next stage is to go from Peterborough to Tillicoultry in the fabulously named Clackmannanshire, Scotland. There were meet up with my best friends sister and her fiance, and we all drive to Fort William. My best friend and I are in discussion whether to take two cars (his and mine) to Tilllicoultry, as we will be tight for space in just his car. We have decided to make a final a decision when I get to Peterborough. However, we have agreed that everyone should pack 'light'.

The notion of packing light has raised an interesting dilemma for me. We are going to Scotland on the 6th May, and will be returning on the 15th. I will then drive back to Essex to drop the brothers off, and then come home. Depending on the time of day we leave Scotland, I may have to stay overnight at one of the brothers house and then drive back to Dorset on Monday the 16th (I might also need this day off too, Boss). So I leave Dorset on the 5th and return on the 16th - 11 days later. This means I will need 11 sets of clean underwear, one for each new day.
I do have 11 sets of underwear available to me - but only 11. Of these 11 sets of underwear, 9 are your average pairs of boxer shorts. It's the other 2 that I have the issue with. One is a pair of silk boxers shorts with the words "Party in my pants" emblazoned all over them, and the other is this spectacular little number:

For a moment I entertained the notion of showing you these "on". You have no idea how lucky you are right now.

These were a comedy gift from a very good friend of mine. She bought them for me along with two comedy boxer shorts that had Kermit the Frog, and Big Bird from Sesame Street on them respectively. Ironically, I disposed of those comedy boxers along with a pair of Action Man boxer shorts that were a present from my Nephew (sorry Joseph)  shortly before I was due to  entertain a lady recently. I obviously thought that the comedy boxers would not give the right impression if I wore them, whereas a sparkly thong would make a far more eloquent statement. How I wish I had Big Bird, Kermit, and Action Man now!

I have never worn the garment in the pictures. I will only ever wear them in the most dire of emergency situations.

So I will pack the 'disco budgie smugglers', but will endeavour to purchase another set of normal boxer shorts while I am up in Scotland. I don't want to be left with no other option but to wear the sparkly thong, on the day we come back. 8 hours in a car with those steadily climbing northwards, doesn't sound like fun to me.

Apart from my exotic underwear I shall just be taking two pairs of jeans, a few t-shirts, a warm top (jumper/sweatshirt/hoody), a coat, walking boots, and trainers. And I shall try to compact this all into as small a space as possible. A bit like that thong if I wear it for too long.

I am planning to continue my blog whilst I am away. All I need is Wi-Fi access, and I can use the app on my phone. In the event that I cannot update my blog daily from Scotland, I will make notes and will post 12 entries upon my return.

I take no responsibility for any nightmares or mental breakdowns brought on by the images in this post.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Guide Dogs Are Only The Beginning.........

I have been inspired to write today's post by a comment left by my second cousin in response to a previous blog entry.

So if you don't like it, I can supply her contact details for you to send your hate mail to in the format of your choice - letter, e-mail, text, or brick-through-window (uses same address as for letter format).


As part of my sign language course, I have had to do some research on organisations that work with Deaf and Hearing Impaired people. One of the organisations I looked at was "Hearing Dogs for The Deaf", who train dogs to alert their hearing impaired owners to such sounds as the Doorbell, Telephone, Alarm Clock, and Fire Alarm. The dogs are trained to alert their owner to a noise by either nudging them with their nose, or touching them with a paw. The owner then asks the dog "what is it?" - either verbally, or through a specific hand gesture. The dog then leads their owner to the source of the noise. In the event of the noise being the fire alarm however, when the dog is asked "what is it?", it lies down - to indicate danger to the owner.

I think this is a genius thing to happen - just like guide dogs for the blind. Did you know when a blind person with a guide dog wants to cross the road, it is the owner that makes the decision to go, but if the dog doesn't think it is safe to do so, it will not move. Well, that is the general idea anyway. There was a German Shepard called 'Lucky' in Germany (ironically), who had been found to be responsible for the deaths of his previous FOUR owners. Apparently, he walked his first owner out in front of a bus, and his second off the end of a pier. He is alledged to have nudged his third owner off a railway platform, just as the Franfurt to Hamburg express was approaching, and led his fourth owner/victim into busy traffic before abandoning him and running to safety. According to the owner of the Guide Dog training school that supplied 'Lucky', "apart from suffering from epileptic fits, Lucky is a lovely dog with a wonderful temperement - and Guide Dogs are so hard to train these days".

So anyway, all this talk of dogs that help humans got me thinking that it couldn't be that difficult to set up a system where a dog could make someone a cup of tea, could it?

I imagine there would have to be a set of floor pads or pedals which the dog is taught to press. The first issue is how and where to boil the water. There would have to be a set up similar to a toilet cistern, where when you flush the cistern it re-fills with water until the flow is cut off via a floating stop cock which shuts off the water once the correct amount is filled. Combine this with a heating element in the bottom of the water container, and you have the water heating system. So, in the first instance the dog presses the first pedal, which turns on the heating element and heats the water. For safety's sake the first pedal would have a red LED light which would come one when the pedal is pressed and be switched off automatically once the water is boiling.

With me so far? Good.

While the water is boiling, the dog can then select either Tea or Coffee (let's not complicate things here) - again by pressing a pedal embosssed with either the letter "T" or "C". This would be linked to a kind of vending machine set up where you get tea or coffee with the desired amount of sugar (this is all programmed in the initial set up of the system). The dog presses the pedal of choice and either tea or coffee, with or without sugar is dispensed into a cup. Again, a LED light would appear on the pedal that has been pressed to tell the dog that it has made a selection. The next pedal is for Milk (or not - again this is down to the owners preference, and can be set up at installation), and the same method for Tea or Coffee applies.

When the water has boiled, the heating element cuts out, just like in a kettle. At this moment, the red LED on the first pedal goes out, and a blue LED lights up on the next pedal - the pedal after the one for Milk. The dog then presses the pedal with the blue LED which pours the boiling water into the cup - but not directly. The water container rotates on it's base until it's spout is in the correct position. One side of the base lifts up, tilting the container so that exactly the right amount of water pours out of it's spout and into a tiny metal channel (think of a metal tube cut in half horizontally, on legs), which runs across the kitchen work surface - against the wall, to minimise the space it takes up - with a slight downward slope to help water flow. This channel is constructed like Scalextric, so it can go round corners and avoid obstacles. The channel leads directly to the waiting cup. The cup is rotating slowly to enable adequate mixing of water and tea or coffee (which would normally be done by stirring).

The cup rotates for a minute to allow infusion, while the water container lowers back down to it's starting position and re-fills with water. When ready, an audible noise is made to alert the dog - probably a noise similar to the ping of a microwave. When the dog hears the ping it collects the cup from the work surface. Before you ask "how?" - I've thought of that. The cup has a special handle, which can be locked vertically, or at ninety degrees. When at ninety degress, the dog can pick the cup up by the handle and take it to it's owner. The owner then simply unlocks the handle from it's ninety degree position (by holding in a small button on the handle perhaps), and twists it to vertical, where it locks in again, enabling the owner to drink from the cup. When finished, the owner puts the handle back in the ninety degree position, and the dog takes it back to its place on the kitchen side ready to be used again.

I'm looking for a £250, 000 investment in return for a 49% share of the company. Sorry - for a moment there, I thought I was on "Dragons Den".

By the way - no, the cup doesn't get washed up. I figure if you are that disbled that you have to have this elaborate system of  channels and rotating and lifting things, and LED lights and embossed pedals etc. you are not going to be too bothered about how clean your cup is.

It sounds complicated, and yet suprisingly feasible. The technology is avialable to make something like this work. And in terms of training a dog, it's only got to press five pedals! Incidentally, I chose a dog because cats are too independant, and wouldn't see the job through. They might only get as far as selecting Tea or Coffee, before getting bored and going out. Plus I don't know if a cat would have the body weight behind it to press the pedals. It certainly couldn't carry the cup.

So, a dog trained to use a home beverage delivery system. Obviously, you would have to add an extra couple of pedals so that the dog could get its own food and water - otherwise about three days in, you are going to stop getting any Tea or Coffee.

Because the dog would be dead, not because it would be on strike for better working conditions.

And there are other animals you could train to help around the home. You could train small birds and squirrels to hang your washing out. The birds hold each item of clothing up while the squirrel runs along the clothesline attaching the pegs. Once dry, they do it in reverse - the squirrel removes the pegs and the birds take down the clothes and put them in the basket. They wouildn't be able to do any folding however (small wings).

You could train hummingbirds to either A) clean your false teeth, or b) remove earwax from your ears. Their narrow beaks and long tongues make them the perfect choice.

You could get cleaner fish to do your washing up. Just pop your dirty dishes in their tank, and watch them greedily nibble them clean.

That is a far as I got with my "training animals to help humans" idea............but I'm sure there are more that could be found.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Moses, Frustration, Grip, and Blisters

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: They don't make films like they used to. For all of today's CGI and special effects technology, you still don't get the grandeur you experienced watching the classic "swords and sandal" movies. As I type this, the Cecil B. Demille Biblical epic "The Ten Commandments" is on TV. Good old Charlton Heston as Moses, and Yul Brinner as Rameses II. This film literally had a cast of thousands, and this famous clip shows the scale and the impact that you just don't get in modern films: 

If you haven't ever watched "The Ten Commandments", you really should.
Incidentally, in later years, Moses would often use Gods power for more mundane tasks:

This next bit is especially for you Beezer.......

I am a lifelong Arsenal fan, but I am frustrated at the way we have imploded in terms of the Premiership Title race. The skill that our players posses is obvious for all to see, and I think it is fair to say that supporters of all football teams would agree that Arsenal can play some beautiful football. However, skill and beautiful football is not enough - there has to be passion, commitment, mental strength, and belief also. For me, too often have Arsenal tried to score the perfect goal, or have tried to almost walk the ball into the net. I have watched them play recently and have seen opportunities for a shot from outside the box, or an early cross, but these have not been taken. Instead more intricate passing has been the preferred option.
I have heard that some fans are calling for Arsene Wenger to be sacked, but I don't think he should. He has been a fantastic manager for Arsenal, and although we have not won anything for six years, we have been consistent in terms of our final finishing in the Premiership table (within the top 4 for the past 14 seasons I believe), and have consistently qualified for the Champions League. He has done wonders without spending as much money as other Premiership Managers. I do however believe that he should spend some money and get some new players in. We need to win Silverware - that is the only way success is measured. I'm not an expert on football, and these comments are purely my opinion, but it is so frustrating watching Arsenal throw games away.

I've always been told that it's better to have a firm handshake rather than a weak one, and that you can tell a lot about a man by the firmness of his handshake. Following on from this, I also believe that when two men who both have firm handshakes meet, there is a bit of competition while the handshaking takes place. Each man gauges the firmness of the other mans grip, and increases his grip accordingly. In polite society this competition only lasts a few moments, until the grip is released. However there have been cases known where two men who each refuse to back down have remained locked in an ever increasingly tightly gripped handshake for days, each grimacing at the other in pain and determination. The only way to break this vice like handshake is to amputate each mans hand. The occurences are rare and subsequently never publicised, but they do occur.

I took a walk earlier today to break in the walking boots I will be taking to Scotland. I did about four miles in total, and at the end of it, my boots were starting to rub. As I got home I saw my neighbour and she asked where I had been so I told her about breaking the boots in and the fact that they were rubbing. She said that there was something you could soak your feet in to help prevent getting blisters, but couldn't remember what it was. I was sure that you soaked your feet in Vinegar, and them roasted them for two hours to toughen them.

Or is that conkers?

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Milestone, Garden, Tight Jeans, Slob.

Today my blog has reached it first big milestone - 1000 page views. I'll be the first to admit that a good few of these page views have been my own as I read comments or look to re-design it, but still my little nonsensical blog has proved to be quite a success. In fact, I could go as far as to say that I am on my way to becoming a global sensation because my blog has also been viewed in the United States of America, Singapore, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, the Netherlands, Belarus, Germany and India. Sod it - I will go as far. I'm a global sensation!

I'm actually writing this post early in the day for once. Usually my entries are made in the early evening, so I can use my experiences of the day as inspiration for the mindless rubbish that I put down for you good people to read and enjoy.
Well, read anyway. You might not enjoy it - but that's not my problem. If you choose to continue to read something that you don't like, that is up to you. Similarly, if you choose to smack yourself in the face repeatedly with a rolled up copy of "Hello!" magazine, who am I to stop you?.

Yeah, insult those who read my blog - that should get the page views down! Well, not down obviously - just not up as much as I would have hoped. Or maybe it would........maybe some of you will read this post, and be offended by it. You will mention how offended you are to friends and family who - being outraged at the insult to their loved one - will read this blog to gauge what type of insensitive monster could write such terrible things. As a result, page views increase ten fold, and everybody wins. But mainly me.

If you are reading this for the first time, hello! I'm not a bad guy really - if you read all my other blog entries you will see what a nice (if a little strange) guy I am.

In fact I am such a nice guy, that I am going to have a barbecue at my place before the summer is out. I have a very nice little garden which is perfect for entertaining in. Here is a picture of it:

As you can see, it's a nice little space just big enough for a few friends. And here is a picture of me enjoying my garden:

And here is a picture of me in my garden - sad that I've got no one to share it with:

So, I will be having a barbecue at some stage, and those of you local to me are welcome.Actually, all who know me, wherever you live are welcome.  I don't have enough room to let anyone stay - unless you are female and single. I can find room for as many single females as you can shake a stick at!

I was going to have a Winter barbecue, but my garden looked like this:

That's not me in the picture by the way, that's the pole for my washing line.

(After the line above was typed, Larry remembered he had been invited out to a barbecue - and left the house)


(Seven hours later, Larry returns home)

I've had a great afternoon in the company of friends, and will be going out shortly for a few beers. I have two minor dilemmas: Firstly, I have very little money. I am basically using money that had been originally allocated for groceries, and so will have to watch what I spend in Scotland in order to ensure that I can buy groceries for the rest of the month once I get back from my holiday.
Secondly, I need to find some comfortable jeans. The ones I am currently wearing are really tight because I've been stuffing my face all afternoon.

Seriously, I'm not comfortable.

I'm thinking about going back to boxing training. I only stopped because my back was hurting quite frequently, and I couldn't move properly because of the pain. I stress that I was only doing the boxing training - I have no intention of taking up boxing properly as I have a medical condition which won't allow me. I'm allergic to getting punched in the face. My back has not given me any pain for about three months now, after I visited an Osteopath so I feel (I hope) it has improved sufficiently for me to get back into some sort of exercise.

At this time, it is just a thought. However, I do need to be doing some form of exercise, as I am gradually turning into a fat and lazy slob.

Incidentally, I'm still single :-)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Man's Best Friend Makes Tea

My toaster hates me, I'm convinced of it.

When I clean my kitchen, I take my toaster outside into the garden and shake all the crumbs out of it. Once cleared, it gets returned to the pristine kitchen work surface (which is cleaned once all appliances etc. have been removed). I don't rush this job, because I know that one or two shakes is not enough to get all the crumbs out. Lately it has been taking gradually longer and longer for me to clear the crumbs out, as I get more and more determined to get every last crumb. In fact, I don't imagine that it will be too long before I start using a brush to root out the stubborn bits.
So why is it that in spite of my careful cleaning of the kitchen side, and the meticulous attention to detail when de-crumbing the toaster, there's always one crumb that appears on the kitchen side when I put the toaster back?
It really does wind me up. It's almost like the toaster waits until I put it back in the kitchen, and then spits out one crumb and waits for me to see it. I don't know why it does it - maybe it's feeling neglected because I generally use my bread to make sandwiches rather than toast.

That's the trouble with toasters - very emotional. Not like the kettle, who is always only too happy to help. Even if you have been out all day, and haven't used it in hours, it starts without any fuss whatsoever.. Its a bit like a dog, a kettle - always pleased to see you.

I was hoping to go out tonight with some friends, but they have taken a rain check. I could still go, but I haven't really got the money. The problem is that I'm so bored staying in all the time - this is all part of the hard time I'm having financially, before it all gets much better in June.
Anyway, I've got to stay in now as I have not long ago  put on some jacket potatoes for tea. The good news is that I'm been invited to another barbecue tomorrow, so that will even the bored/entertained stakes out . But what to do tonight? Well I shall do a bit more of my sign language course - revision most likely as it has been a while since I did any (not including last night of course), and may have to play some Call of Duty on the Wii. I'll see what films are on later, just in case something grabs my eye.

For some reason I have felt very lonely today. Its just a phase, and I will be back to my normal self tomorrow - but today I have definitely missed the company of others. But then again, the difficulties I am experiencing at the moment are just part of the process of change which is leading ultimately towards a better life for myself..

Friday, 22 April 2011

God Bless You Louise Mossop!

I'm happy to say that today has not got according to plan. I had planned to do nothing all day, as I had no plans and was quite prepared to spend the entire day in bed. Yes, I know it would have been a terrible waste of a glorious day, but as I said things didn't turn out the way I expected them to.

So get off my case.

The day started fine; I was lying in bed at 7:00am having just woken up, and was contemplating the nothingness I was about to embrace in terms of the activity for the day ahead. Foolishly however, I looked at Facebook on my mobile, and saw that an old School friend had stated that she always got up early (the phrase she used was "with the lark"), no matter how late the night before was. I commented light heartedly that she wasn't trying hard enough, and that if the Lark tried to tell me to get up, it would get a punch up the wazoo. Having set my former classmate straight on a few things, I put my mobile down and prepared to do nothing for the rest of the day.
The trouble was that now I was unable to lie there in peace. The notion of getting up early had been planted in my mind, and it kept miaowing outside the back door of my thoughts. A greater example of inception could not have been found at that moment in time. A few minutes later (having gone back onto Facebook and adding another comment to my friends status) I was up and dressed, pouring myself a cup of tea. I sat down with my tea and watched the news for a moment.
As I sipped at my tea, trying not to get too depressed by the doom and gloom of the news, I looked around my home and decided that it needed a good cleaning. So I finished my tea, cleared the washing up in the sink and on the draining board, and did my housework. I cleaned the bathroom, and the kitchen; I hoovered my bedroom and the lounge, and even did a bit of dusting. While I was doing this, the washing machine gurgled and spun with a load of my dirty washing.

I didn't actually need to say that it was dirty washing did I? You all took it for granted that if I was going to put on a wash load, the garments and items that made up that load would indeed need washing.

So, not only am I domesticated, but I can multi-task too. I'm a real catch!

The house so much better once I had cleaned through, and this put me in a good mood. I hung out my washing, swept up the Apple Blossom that had fallen from the Apple tree in my garden, and put another load of washing on. Feeling pleased with myself, I sat down and played a bit of Call Of Duty Black Ops. It was 10:30am, and I deserved a break. About 30 minutes later, having been useless at Call of Duty, I decided to go and get my groceries. I had no money technically - but that is what overdrafts are for. So I jumped in my car, and drove to Tescos.
Evidence of mass simultaneous thinking must be being hidden by the government, because it definitely happens. How can you explain the fact that the world and his wife and their four kids all decided to also go to Tesco? It was more rammed in there than a male sheep that had been stuffed as far as possible into a tube, which in turn was being used to break down the gates of a castle under siege. If you can imagine an outbreak of panic buying the last weekend before Christmas, you'll have some idea. I battled my way around that store, asking everyone I passed "where have these people come from? don't they know it's sunny outside?". I had to go up and down every single aisle, even though I only wanted milk and bread. Don't ask me why, but it's just what I have to do. To not do it would feel wrong.
Having escaped the multitudes, I filled up the car with petrol, and drove home. As I carried my shopping from my car to home, two of my friends beeped the horn of their car as they drove past. With both my hands full of shopping I was unable to wave, so I moved my head from side to side vigorously. I got home, put the shopping away, made a coffee and turned on my laptop.
I am in the process of re-designing my blog. The keen eyed amongst you will have already noticed that my blog today looks different to how it looked yesterday. I fear the same may be said for tomorrows, as there is a lot to learn about changing the layout, background, colours, fonts, pictures - you name it, everything to do with this blog. It is definitely a work in progress. Anyway, I messed about with it for a while, and then my mobile rang.

Well pluck my feathers and stick me in a roasting tin, if it wasn't the very friend who had sounded his horn at me earlier! He just called (not to say he loved me - although I'm sure he does, all my friends do) to invite me over to his parents house for a barbecue that was taken place that very moment. He had barely finished speaking when I was out the door.
The barbecue was brilliant - good food, great company, and a few beers to boot. We had a right laugh. The sun was beating down on us (I had factor 10 on my head), and the world was good. During the course of the afternoon my friends and I made plans to socialise this weekend, and discussed such high brow topics as the daylight robbery that gas and electric companies get away with, footballers dropping silverware, and the future. It was all very enjoyable, but too soon the time came for me to leave. I walked home (I had walked there, so it seemed only right), and have been here ever since - about two hours.

Before I wrote this post tonight, I did a bit more of my online sign language course. I've just finished a module about greeting people, asking basic questions (how old are you? where do you live? what job do you do? etc.), and I learnt some place and country names. From here on in, it starts to get a bit more complicated - but I'm still enjoying it. There is an evening sign language class starting in September at Yeovil college, and I want to complete this online course before I start that one. That evening class is one of a few goals that I have set myself to achieve this year. The others include:

  • Becoming financially stable - get some savings, and more money in my pocket for enjoying myself.
  • Buy a Suit
  • Complete my second story
These may not sound like very important goals, but they are to me - and listing them will help me to visualise them and in turn achieve them. My list of goals sits on the front of my fridge, where I will see them everyday. Once I complete these goals I will set myself new goals to achieve.

I have had a full and varied day today - and I'm putting it down to the status update made by my friend, that led to my day being as good as it was. Who knows what sort of day I would have had if I hadn't seen Facebook?

I hope you all have had a good day today. I know that many of you will have had to work. It looks like the good weather is going to continue, so I hope you get to get out in it at some point.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Robbers, Self-Induced Heart Attacks, and No Chocolate?????

It's the Bank Holiday weekend at last! Things have been really busy at work lately, and I'm really looking forward to the extra days off.
Not that I can do anything, or go anywhere - I'm out of cash, and don't even have enough to put petrol in my car. So, it will be walking, and sitting in the park or my garden. If the weather stays like it is, it will be a fine weekend.
Regular followers of my blog will know that money for me is tight at the moment, and in fact will be until I get paid at the end of May. I'm watching every penny, and have had to cut back and make do just to keep things under control. So you can imagine how pleased I was when I got a letter the other day from Admiral insurance telling me that I owed them £52.43.

That's right - I wasn't pleased at all.

I used to be with Admiral for my car Insurance - 3rd party. In March I had to replace the windscreen in my car, and being 3rd party this proved to be rather expensive. Afterwards I decided to change to fully comprehensive cover, and contacted Admiral to see what they would want. What they wanted, was double what my 3rd party cover was costing me, so I declined and looked elsewhere. I soon found another insurer that would give me fully comprehensive cover for just £4 more a month than my 3rd party cover. So when my renewal pack came through from Admiral, I rang them and told them that I wasn't going to renew as I'd found cheaper insurance elsewhere. That was that, and I considered the matter closed.

And now this letter arrives, telling me I owe Admiral money for "Cancelling my policy". I started planning for how I was going to pay this money - but inside I didn't feel that it was right. So today I rang Admiral and queried it with them.
And do you know what? Without a murmur or a conversation, they cancelled the money due. All they said was that the letter had been sent out in error. And to think that I was prepared to pay that money to them! How many people get letters like that "in error", and still pay it?

Take my advice - if you have any doubts, question every letter you get that tells you that you owe somebody money.

Admiral? Pirates more like!

It has been glorious weather lately, and gloriously hot too. The last few days I've coming home sweating like a good 'un, and have had a shower to wash the day off me. Now normally, I wait for the water to heat up - but yesterday, I had one of my "bright ideas". I decided that I was so hot that I would get under the shower without waiting for the water to warm up. Just as I turned the water on, I recalled tales of how sudden shocks to the system can cause a heart attack, and then stood there hyperventilating as the ice cold water ran down my body. For a few moments, I waited for the feeling of my chest being crushed in a vice as my heart gave out due to the shock, but fortunately it never came. After what seemed like 10 minutes, the water warmed up, and I enjoyed the rest of my shower.
To be honest, I quite enjoyed the cold shower. It was invigorating, and certainly got the blood pumping!

Whether I'll shower this way all the time, is another matter.

I hope you all enjoy this Easter Weekend - for the first time in my life, I have no Easter eggs to eat due to my financial situation. No matter, I'll get one half price in a week or so after I get paid.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Come in Number 6, Your Time is Up. Are You in Trouble, Number 9?

I've been thinking about numbers today - probably because I've been picking orders all day long, and have had to think about a lot of quantities of a lot of different products. For one of our customers, I write a packing list which is attached to the delivery note. The packing list details every item on every layer of every pallet. I hand write it as I pick the order, and then type it up and send it with the delivery note. It can be a bit of a pain to do, but it has totally eliminated notices of shortages or overages on deliveries.
So anyway, because I have had numbers running through my mind all day, I started to think about how we use them, and how we use words for numbers. If that sounds a bit vague, let me explain.

We all know that the number 1 is written as One, and either can be used to describe a single thing (pretty much anything in existence). Following on from that, the number 2 is written as Two, but we often also say 'a couple' - as in "a couple of pints". On top of this the word "couple" is used to describe two people, usually in a relationship, as they are two individual people. Next in line is the number 3; this is where the system gets a bit vague. The only other words for 3 of anything are "Trio", and "Hat-Trick" (to the best of my knowledge) - unless you count the word "few", as in "we had a few games of pool".

Now this is where it starts to really tick along nicely - I apologise if I stop making sense.

Is the word "few" used only to describe 3 of something, or could it be used to describe 4? If you asked me (and let's assume you are) I would have said that the word people think of to describe 4 of something is "some", because it doesn't imply a large number, but at the same time would not be used for a small number - you would use "a few", or "a couple".
I wouldn't use the word "some" to describe 5 people. I would use the word "group" - mainly because in the musical sense of the word, a group is quite often five people (Boyzone, Take That, Westlife etc.) I know that there are hundreds of musical acts with 2, 3, or 4 members and that they are called a Group - but I'm just trying to reason things out in my head. So 5 is a group - but is it also a bunch? Another expression for punching someone is to give them "a bunch of fives", as there are five digits on your hand - unless you are the baddie in Peter Pan, in which case you give them a left hook.
Diverting slightly, you also give a bunch of flowers - but there isn't just five flowers in a bunch is there? There are lots of flowers, so a bunch could mean more than five. Also, at what point does a bunch become a bouquet? A bouquet of flowers is bigger than a bunch just going by the image the name suggests, but where is the cut off point? In terms of the number of flowers used, does just one extra make a bunch a bouquet, and vice versa?
And why do we not use the word "Bouquet" to describe a number larger than  a "bunch"? why do we not say "I was trying to sleep last night, but this bouquet of idiots in their cars decided to race up and down the street all night". We don't use it, because it doesn't suit the use in this case.

Stop answering your own questions, Larry.

So what comes next in terms of describing a quantity? I suppose after a "bunch" there is "lots" or "loads". The word "Loads" probably goes back to perhaps Victorian or Edwardian times when the amount of goods or commodity you could get onto a cart or wagon would have been called "one load". I'm purely speculating here, I don't know this for a fact. If someone said to you "Loads of us went up London", apart from balking at the appalling grammar, you would assume that quite a large number was involved - maybe 10 plus. I think "loads" is where the word association ends, as it can be used to describe anything between 10 and a hundred. After that the system kicks in with "Hundreds" used for 100 - 999, "Thousands" for 1000 upwards, and so on. Some might say that people use words like "masses" or "tons" to describe a quantity larger than 10 but less than 100, but I think that is more of a regional variation. From East Anglia to the North east, and as far west as Devon and Cornwall, each area has it's own "local" words or phrases.

I have no answers, only questions. It just struck me as curious as how the words we use to describe quantity (other than the written versions of numbers) are open to interpretation.

Numbers can be used to describe yourself differently. I have just turned 40 years old - but I tell people I'm only 480 months old. Although it's a bigger number, combining it with a relatively short space of time in the grand scheme of things like a month, plus the fact that we associate ages in months with infants and very young children, doesn't make it sound so bad.

The flip side of that is now that I have turned 40, I'll probably only see another 10 World Cups in my life. And England won't win any of them.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Off Milk, Food Lies, and Dad Smells

Firstly (and that's the second time this week I've started with that word) a word of warning. If you are cooking jacket potatoes, and the temperature dial on the cooker goes up to 250 and then switches to GRILL - make sure you don't turn it too far. In about 20 minutes you'll be wondering what that burning smell coming from your oven is, and will then curse loudly when you realise your mistake.

Tomorrow: Why a toaster in the bathroom is both convenient AND dangerous.

Right, on to today's post. I have to be quick as I've got a lot on tonight. I've got to write this blog,  and do some Sign Language revision. I've not been doing it for a while, but as I'm going to evening classes in September I want to get this online course under my belt. On top of that, I want to watch the Newcastle vs Man Utd match - I'm hoping that Newcastle can beat Man Utd as that would be a massive boost to Arsenal, who were their usual rubbish against Liverpool. Apologies if this post is patchy, I've got lots of little things to say, and one bigger thing.

Living by myself means that stuff like milk lasts a long time. I get through 4 pints in a week if I have cereal every morning,  and have lots of cups of tea. Sometimes, I will take longer to use the milk up, and as a result get slightly suspicious of the milk as I get closer to the bottom of the plastic carton. Now this might be psychosomatic, but often when I pour the last of the milk into my tea it looks like it's coming out lumpy - as it would if it had gone off. Generally this occurrence is followed by a check of my tea to see if any telltale white lumps float to the surface, and a cursory sniff of the milk carton. I don't know why I bother sniffing the milk carton AFTER I've poured the milk - I'm hardly likely to pour the milk, see the floating white blobs of badness, sniff the carton and then say to myself "oh, it is off!" and then still drink the tea (whilst trying not to vomit).
Although, I do on a regular basis take a cup of tea to bed and forget to drink it - that is, until the following morning.

We all know the urban myth about eating cheese late at night makes you have nightmares. It doesn't - it's a fallacy (is that the right word? I always worry that I'm using the one that refers to the Penis). What it does do, is give you cheddar breath, and that means no kissing anyone. Unless of course the person you intend to kiss has been eating Branston Pickle, raw onion, ham, or Marmite. or anything else that goes nicely with cheese.

If you haven't tried cheese and Marmite - you should.

There should be more food myths, something like these:
Eating Yogurt late at night makes you sleepwalk. If you eat too many Bananas, the overdose of Potassium will change the colour of your eyes. Spicy foods limit how high you can sing. Broccoli is poisonous to Albinos.
The potential here is limitless. Parents could use this system to get picky children to eat the foods they don't like - "You don't like Spinach? I knew a boy down the street who used to run all day, but he didn't like Spinach either. Then one day - both his legs fell off. He never ran again. You like to run, don't you?"

I'm sure it would work.

It will be 12 years this May since my Dad died. he died on the 17th May - three days before his birthday. I've been told by members of my extended family that I am a lot like him in my mannerisms and personality. Some say I look like him, but I'm not so sure. I've certainly inherited his sense of humour but will never be as great a man as he was.
There is something else of my fathers that I have inherited. This may sound a bit weird, but I've inherited his smell. I'm not talking about the smell of sweat or anything like that, but he had a smell, a scent might be a better word. I remember sitting on his lap when I was small and just hearing him and smelling him.
Now, I have the same smell - not all the time, but every now and then. I noticed it tonight as I was getting changed out of my work clothes. Whenever I smell it, I smell my dad and it's like I am small again, sitting on his lap, or giving him a cuddle.

For all children, it's always too early to lose a parent. When my dad died, I was 28. I had my own place, a full time job, great friends - but I still needed him. His job wasn't finished, and it still wouldn't be finished today if he were alive. I miss him each and every day - but the fact that I can still smell him brings me so much comfort and happiness.

One last thing. I've just run the spell check and the word Yogurt doesn't look right to me. I've spelt it again with an extra "H" (yoghurt), but that looks wrong too. If I have spelt it wrong I apologise. I should have used "cream".

Don't Roll Your Eyes at Me, and Nocturnal Strangeness

Firstly, let me apologise for not posting this post yesterday (18th April 2011). As my Facebook friends will know, I went out to a quiz night last night. What they (and you) don't know is that I didn't get back until late after having a wee bit too much to drink and was too tired and wasted to write my blog, or even focus.

So without further Fondue, here is yesterday's blog:

I've just been grossed out by a cartoon. I had just got in from work, and stuck the TV on while I had my post working day cup of tea. The Simpsons was on Sky One, and as a big fan it was the obvious choice. But on this occasion, I found it unpleasant to watch. The story was about how Lisa found a flower or a herb that gave off a scent that improved peoples mood. This pharmaceutical company made it into a pill for the elderly - but Bart started to sell it to old folk off the street before it had been properly tested. Initially, all seems fine; the old folk are happier and more active, and Bart is making a load of money. But then, the previously unknown side effect kicks in - and people eyes start falling out of their sockets and dangle in front of their heads, like this:
In this particular example, Principal Skinner's Mother is having trouble with a squirrel that want her eye. In the cartoon, other characters have similar misfortune: one gets one eye caught in a mail box, another is looking down at her cats when her eyes fall out, and the cats start swiping at them as if they were a toy.
Now all of this was very funny to me -  but the whole eye dangling from the socket bit was just too disgusting for me. Ironically, I've seen eyes ripped, squeezed and gouged from people's sockets in horror movies, and it doesn't bother me at all.

I love the Simpsons, but they should leave eyes alone.

Recently I've been having weird nights in bed. I am usually a quite heavy sleeper, but I do take a long time to get to sleep. I find it hard to get comfortable, and spend a lot of my time changing position, taking the duvet off me, putting it back on,  and turning over the pillow to get the cool side - you have to have the cool side, am I right?. Everything has to be just right. You know how a dog walks round in a tight circle before lying down? Well I do the equivalent in bed.
You would think that after spending so much time sorting myself out, I would be able to enjoy a peaceful and restful nights sleep. I would certainly like to think that, but oh no - this is me we're talking about. You may recall I recently offered up the concept of the brain having a day shift and a night shift - each looking after the brain in different ways. Well recently, my night shift hasn't been doing it's job properly but instead has been messing around and generally playing silly buggers. The result is that I am waking up really badly disorientated. The most recent example of this was Sunday night. I went to bed around Midnight on Sunday, which is far too late if I'm working the next day I might add. After a good twenty minutes wrestling with the duvet (the duvet won by submission) I fell asleep. About half an hour later I woke up - convinced that it was 6am and time to get up. The fact that there was no light coming through the chink in the curtains (I could make a horrendously non politically correct joke about Oriental home furnishings here, but I won't) made no difference. It was only the fact that my radio alarm clock sits on top of the dresser where my underwear is kept that alerted me to the real time. As I rushed towards the dresser, the orange blur that was the digital display of the clock came into focus, and several pennies dropped. I stood there for a moment in silence, mentally asking my bladder if it needed the loo. When I got no response, I went back to bed, and to sleep.

I woke up again at about 4:30am - but much more bizarrely. I sat bolt upright in bed, shouted "It's alright, I heard it!" and then switched my bedside lamp on and off three times. And the reason for this weirdness? I was having a dream where me and my partner, whoever that was (Cameron Diaz I hope) were in some sort of game show and we had to light our light when we heard a specific noise. I don't know what the noise was that we were listening out for - a cow coughing, crisp packets being run over on gravel, or the sound that doves make when they cry (I saw a Prince video on TV earlier) - but the moment I heard it, I knew I had to light the light. Which is why I turned my bedside lamp on and off three times. And why did I shout "It's alright, I heard it!"? Because as gorgeous as she is, Cameron Diaz got a bit excited when she heard the noise, and she kept jumping up and down screaming "that's the noise Larry! that's the noise!". But that's Cameron Diaz for you - physical perfection, but a bit annoying at times.
Anyway, the light going on and off three times brought me to my senses and I realised where I was. I also realised that Cameron Diaz wasn't with me - so I laid back down and cried myself to sleep.

Sadly this isn't the first time that I've woken up and done weird things. Once I woke up, grabbed a clean pair of boxers out of a drawer and then got back into bed and went back to sleep firmly clutching them to my chest.
Another time I woke up, got my portable stereo and wrapped the power lead around it several times. I then put it on the floor with a shoe stood upright on top of it, and put a can of deodorant in the opening of the shoe. Why? because I knew I had to make a beacon to warn somebody.....

I'm beginning to see a pattern forming which could lead to understanding why I am single.......

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Less Haste, More Speed

Although I'm determined to see it through, this period of having no money is tough to bear. I know that I am already more fortunate than a lot of people, and I'm not saying what I am saying because I want sympathy.

Basically, I've got no money left until payday, and as a result I'm not going anywhere at the weekends (I'm even avoiding using the car because I'm almost out of petrol and will need enough to get to Tesco next time to fill up). So I was sat at home this morning going a bit stir crazy, I didn't want to be sat inside staring at the same four walls again. Luckily for me - and for you I hope - it has been a glorious day today, so I decided to get out of the house and take a walk down to the local park and sit in the sun for a while. I was just about to go out of the door when I remembered that I was going to have a shave and then shave my head with my clippers, as my hair was getting a bit long. So, I quickly sorted that out - and I mean quickly: it takes about 5 minutes, and the sum of all the hair trimmed off my head fits in the palm of my hand, which is quite sad.

Especially when you consider that if you shaved all the hair off my back, you could fill a bath with it. And that is quite enough to make anyone vomit.Anyway, having made myself more aerodynamic, I grabbed my sunglasses and headed to the park.

The effect on my mood was instantaneous. I sat under a tree, with the warm sun on my face. The grass spread out all around me like a green carpet, and a gentle breeze kissed me softly on the cheek. It was very quiet and peaceful, and I felt relaxed, and calm, and happy. The only cloud in my sky was the fact that I didn't have anyone there to share it with. However, I wasn't feeling sorry for myself. Instead I fortified my resolution to get myself sorted so that I can be in a better position when I meet someone, and enjoy a good relationship.I sat on that grass, leant against a tree and watched the world go by. In my head I went over in my mind what I want to achieve, and looked forward to meeting someone, and what the future would hold. I know I'm a good person, and that I have a lot to offer.

It was then that I felt an itch in my right ear, scratched it - and found  I still had shaving foam in my ear. I had walked to the park and sat for the past hour or so thinking about the future and all I have to offer someone, and all the while had shaving foam hanging out of my ears.

Two phrases sprung to mind: "Let's not run before we can walk" and "attention to detail".

I'm still looking forward to the future, but I'll try not to get carried away.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Movies, Old Folk, and Not Being Able To Help Myself.....

Some of you may have noticed that my blog has a new appearance. I'm in the process of trying to improve how it looks, in an effort to make it more enjoyable for those that read it. I hasten to add that the current scheme is temporary, as I have discovered that the variety of themes available, and the choices regarding layout etc. seem almost infinite and I will be spending a long time finding and choosing a design that says what I want it to say. I hope you approve of what I am trying to do - I welcome your comments.

 I saw an advert today on TV for the a new animated film - "Rio". Apparently, this film is available to watch in 'eye popping' 3D. Now I don't know about you folks, but if I am going to go to the cinema and pay £7.50 to watch a film, I don't really want my eyes popping. To be honest,  I imagine that it would spoil my enjoyment of the film somewhat. Plus when you consider how much it costs to go and see a film, you will understand that I would already be less happy than I would like, and the popping of my eyes would only increase my anger and resentment.
Of course I know that my eyes wouldn't actually pop - it's just a gimmick to get people to go and see the film - but it's the increasingly extravagant choice of words they use to promote films that gets me. My other "favourite" phrase used to sell films is 'a roller coaster ride'. I hate roller coasters; when I see a film advertised as a roller coaster ride, I imagine that I'll have to queue for hours to get in to see it, then sit through the whole thing with my eyes shut tight, and finally end up either being sick, or pooing myself. Or both.
Film promoters should treat us like adults and just be honest with us. I'd like to see Films advertised with these sort of tag lines:

'It's a rom-com; She'll love it, you'll hate it - but for a first date it's a winner'.
'Cars, Girls, Explosions - no plot'
'Just when you thought they couldn't squeeze another sequel out of this tired idea....'
'Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise. Everybody wins'

We all know that as we get older, our ears and noses keep growing. Or, our heads gradually shrink. Either way, old people have got MASSIVE ears. If you have never realised this, check out your gran and grandad, or the next old person you see. You'll be able to tell from a distance - so don't got running up to the elderly shouting "show me your ears!", as they will be likely to have a heart attack, and you'll get arrested.
Incidentally, it is ironic that in spite of the fact that they have ears only dwarfed by Elephants ears, old people suffer with poor hearing. You would think that the larger the ears got, the better they would hear, but oh no. The size of an elderly persons ears is purely for show - and for keeping them cool in the summer (they flap them in the same way that Elephants do). They do also play a part in settling the hierarchy in retirement homes, as the owners of the largest ears becomes the Alpha Male and Female, and as such get first dibs at the meals, and get to choose what is watched on TV.

It's true!

It's been a good day today right from the word go, and this morning I was walking through town in a great mood. I was opening doors for people, holding back to let people pass on a narrow bit of pavement, and was saying  "morning" to everyone I passed. So of course, I couldn't resist could I?
I was walking along the pavement saying "morning" to a couple of people, as I had been since I left the house and a few shops along in front of me, the shop keeper was pulling out the canopy  that hangs over her shop window. So as I walked past her, (this is so childish) I said "Awning!" - to which she replied "good morning!"
I walked on, laughing to myself. I only wish I had seen someone else with their hand over their mouth, and another person exchanging an item for cash at a Pawnbrokers - that way I could have said "Yawning!" and "Pawning!"

You know what they say, it's the little things in life that count.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Brain. Shrink. Cougar Vs Shrimp

Before I went to work this morning, I prepared my lunch. When I say prepared,  I mean put a sachet of Tomato Cup-a-Soup and two Ryvita in my lunchbox and closed the lid. I put my lunchbox on the kitchen side, and the Ryvita packet back in the cupboard. I then made my self a cup of tea, and sat in the lounge and watched the breakfast news..
Soon enough, the time came for me to leave for work, so I put on my trainers, fetched my coat, and went to grab my lunchbox off the kitchen side.
Except - it wasn't there.

Now my kitchen is not very big, and my lunchbox is not very small (feel free to supply your own innuendo here) - so locating it should not have been a problem. One 360 degree turn later, I was still without my lunchbox. I tried to think back to when I prepared my lunch, but could not visualise in my head what I had done with it. There was nothing else for it; a systematic search of my kitchen was required. I opened the cupboard nearest to me - and there was my lunchbox, waiting patiently to be discovered, next to the packet of Ryvita I had put away. Obviously, but for some unknown reason, I had put my lunchbox in the cupboard with the Ryvita. What is worrying though is the fact that I have no memory at all of doing it.

However, I do have a theory regarding why I did it.

As you all know, when we are asleep our bodies rest and recuperate. Our brains rest too - but they also work. They consolidate all the information we have absorbed during the day - both consciously and subconsciously - and create memories and links between bits of information. Think of it like the "Disk Defragmenter" on your PC - consolidating information, maximising the available space, and improving the capacity and speed of your brain.
I believe that all of this consolidating is done by different parts of the brain to the parts that we usually use during the day. It's like a day and a night shift; the night shift has fewer people in it, but then not as many people are needed, and then can get on and tidy up and prepare for the day shift without the usually interruptions the day shift experience. In the morning, as you wake up the night shift leaves and the day shift begins. Is this making sense?

Anyway, I think that this mornings lunchbox incident happened because my brain was at shift handover time. The night shift, having done their work, were clocking off, while the day shift were just turning up to work. And for the briefest of moments, while the night shift left and the day shift arrived, and they passed each other by the clocking in machine (exchanging nods of recognition),  my brain was left unattended. And in that moment, my lunchbox got put in the cupboard with the Ryvita without my realising it.
It is quite possible the the suggestion to put the lunchbox in the cupboard was made by a group of bad ideas, who have held a grudge ever since being sacked from the day shift for poor work performance.

Quick note - it's 4:06pm and the sun has come out. I hope it's a good weekend weather wise. And everything else wise of course. If I wrote off my car, had my wallet stolen, found my home broken into and then set alight, I would find little comfort in the fact that "it's nice out".

I wouldn't say that I am a huge fan of American sit-coms. I like "Friends" (who didn't), and do enjoy a recent discovery, "Mike & Molly" - but considering the quantity of shows out there, the ones I like are few and far between.
However, I do have a favourite. "Frasier" is by far the one sitcom I can watch all day, everyday. For those of you who know what this programme is, it is a spin off from the 80's series "Cheers", and stars Kelsey Grammar (below) as the radio psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane.

The Show is set in Seattle, where Frasier lives quite a luxurious lifestyle as somewhat of a celebrity - he has a prime apartment, he enjoys the finest wines and restaurants, and he regularly goes to the Opera. Always striving for perfection, he is somewhat hampered by his ex-cop father, Martin Crane who lives with him - along with his dog, Eddie. Frasier's brother, Niles is a regular of the show and is madly in love with Martin Crane's live in phsyiotherapist, Daphne.
The Elitism, and pompousness of Fraiser in counteracted by the humorous situations he ends up in. While I admit that I don't understand the many references to classical music or the arts, or psychiatry that abound in the programme, the relationship between the main characters is a joy to behold, and the comedy is plain to see.

I would agree that it is not everyone's cup of tea - but I like it.

I have noticed, that there is a distinct bias in terms of the use of animal names to describe Men and Women.
The Women get all the good names, and men get all the bad names. Think about it - Bridget Bardot was referred to as a "Sex Kitten", an sexually attractive female can be called a "Fox" or a "Vixen", or a "Minx". More recently, older women have been given the name "Cougar". Today I misheard a woman saying she was going for a pamper weekend. I thought she said "Panther" weekend, and I wondered was this a weekend for women who were one up from "Cougar"? My mind boggled at what might go on at these weekends!!

So Women in general are called complimentary names. What do men get called? We are given such loving references as "Worm", "maggot", "Pig", "Snake", "weasel", "Shrimp". Surely that is not fair! There must be nicer animal names you ladies can give us? What about "Tiger" or "Falcon", or "Three-Toed Sloth"?

Well, maybe not the last one.

I appreciate it's not easy. And I am fully aware of the fact that not all the names we give women are complimentary, which is partly why I have not listed them. All I am saying is how about some equality in the use of animal names for each other?. Can't we all just get along??

Well, another weekend is here. Tomorrow (Saturday) I will be doing some work in the garden. I don't do gardening - I don't have green fingers, so this is a first for me. Before you start applauding and calling me Alan Titchmarsh, I must tell you that 95% of my garden is concrete. The "work" I will be doing will be mainly pruning, and sweeping up leaves. It's not much, but for me it's a start.

This weekend I will also be attempting to improve the appearance of this blog. I know it is already a delight to read, but I have seen some other blogs, and they look awesome. So hopefully, I can make this one even more appealing.

Enjoy your weekend, and remember to catch up with my blog tomorrow and Sunday.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sun, Touch, Pop, Dirty, Hurrah!, and.......hmmm maybe?

Let me get straight to the point; Do they have sign language for music videos?

We all know that if you turn the TV on late at night, or on a Sunday morning, there's a good chance that you will see a familiar programme being repeated with a small oval in one bottom corner containing a person doing sign language to interpret for the deaf what is being said. Every now and then they pause, and look up at the action on screen - as if they are there, and not in some dingy studio somewhere with a green screen behind them.
But do they do that for music videos? I know that there doesn't appear to be much point, but think of how many great lyrics of songs you know? For example, here's some to get you singing along..........

"We're caught in a trap..........I can't walk out.........."

Put your hands up if you automatically sang "Because I love you too much baby......."

I knew you would!!

So, why shouldn't hearing impaired people (I've gone all politically correct now) be able to know and understand great lyrics like the rest of us? There must be music videos shown for the hard of hearing? maybe not some of the rap ones, with their explicit lyrics - but the rest are alright, surely. And if they are, does the person in the corner of the screen dance along whilst signing? do they get to hear the music? can they hear the music? are the people used to sign for hearing impaired people on TV programmes, hearing impaired themselves???
Surely they can't be - as they need to hear what is being said in order to sign it.

Unless, they have someone signing for know when you stand between two mirrors, and you see infinite reflections of yourself trailing back into the distance, well maybe that is what it is like for the people signing for the hearing impaired. Maybe the person signing on the TV is being signed to, and that person is being signed to by someone else, who in turn is being signed to by another person, and so on, and so on for eternity - you never know.
It could be happening as we speak.

Touch screen technology is all the rage these days. Many of us have mobile phones without keypads, and the I-Phone and I-pad have taken the world by storm - both without a button in sight. So how long before we see this technology in the office? How long before we have a touch screen keyboard built in to the surface of our desk?
Think of the advantages; no more dirty keyboards with bits of food, saliva and pubic hair stuck between the keys. Never again will you turn the keyboard upside down and shake it as part of your annual "spring clean" of your workspace, and watch in fascination as several paperclips, post it notes, and half a cheese roll fall on to your desk. There will be more space on your desk for you to work, rather than you having to pile your paperwork up in one corner, only for it to slowly spread across the entire desk during the course of the day. You will be able to organise your paperwork better which, in turn will increase your efficiency and productivity. This itself will help to increase your company's output, which will increase profits, help the economy, and get the great country back to it's feet!!!
A touch screen keyboard would be easy to clean, space saving, and would make your desk look sleek and professional.
There will be one drawback, however. Instead of pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete to close any unresponsive programmes, you will have to smack your head firmly on the desk.

Everybody knows what the three second rule is; it is the acceptable amount of time for a piece of food that has fallen to the floor to be picked up, blowed on, and put back on the plate, or in the mouth.
Someone today tried to tell me that there was a ten second rule - but this is clearly wrong on all levels. In ten seconds enough bacteria can penetrate the food in question to make it lethal. In three seconds, only enough bacteria penetrate the food to give it an additional taste that can only be described as "Rustic".
The ten second rule only applies to the time between lighting the fuse and detonation of a cartoon bomb - or is the average completion time for a teenage boys first sexual experience.
Please also be aware that the three second rule only applies to "dry" food - pasta, vegetables, cake, biscuits etc. It does not work for custard, soup, bolognese, trifle, or any other liquid based foods. In these instances, the only thing you can do is cut your losses - forget about whatever has slipped off your plate, out of your bowl, off the serving spoon etc. and just enjoy what you are left with.
This simple rhyme should help you remember: "if it's runny, forget it; if it's solid - go get it!"

Rulers are great for allowing you to draw a straight line, but if you want to drawer a square on a blank piece of paper it's still difficult to get it perfectly square. Even though the ruler might look straight, it could be at a slight angle - which would make drawing a square impossible right away.
So why not have rulers with a spirit level built in? That way, you could tell when the ruler was dead straight and you would know that the line you are drawing was a straight line, no worries.

Just an idea.......

For most of us the weekend of the 9th and 10th April was a glorious weekend in terms of the weather. The sun was shining, and it was lovely and warm. It is quite incredible how a little bit of sunshine can improve everyone's mood. It was very noticeable to me - people were smiling, they were in a good mood and everyone was having a good time. That one or two days of sunshine raised the spirits of the whole country, it's fairly safe to say.
So isn't it ironic that the countries in the Middle East - where they have a lot of sunshine it seems - appear to have the most unrest and trouble? I think they have taken their sunshine for granted, and have forgotten about the simple pleasures in life if they just stopped, and looked up at the sun shining in the blue sky above them, they would feel differently about things.. Perhaps if we took the leaders of Israel and Palestine, and the warring factions in Afghanistan and let them stay in Britain from October to March, the cold climate might make them appreciate more where they live. At the same time, I'm sure a load of British people wouldn't mind spending winter closer to the Equator, topping up their tan on Boxing Day. The Israelis and Palestinians, and the troubled souls of Afghanistan would go home in March, be greeted by the warmth of the sun, and experience the same euphoria we feel here when the first sunny day after winter comes around, and it might very well give them a new appreciation of what they have.

Please make sure you spell my name correctly on my Nobel Peace prize.

Today this blog has reached it's first milestone. Today's post is my 32nd - which means I have been writing my blog for just over one month. Already I can't remember all the topics I covered; I know I have talked a lot of rubbish, and that I have bared my soul quite a bit too. It's been difficult at times, but massively enjoyable throughout. People have read my blog over 700 times since I started, and my audience reaches from Australia to America, and included Singapore, Belarus, and the Netherlands. I am truly grateful for the support I have been shown - but I am greedy for more, so if you like my blog, follow me on it - you can do it via email, just look to the right of this post, and you will see "Follow This Blog by Email". Enter your email address in the box, and click "submit".
And if you really like my blog, tell your friends to read it - and tell them to tell their friends to read it.

Unless their friends are your friends, in which case you can tell them.

One last thing: At work I use the mug I have my coffee in to also have my cup-a-soup in. I rinse it out with hot water, but don't clean it properly.

Does that make me bad?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

In Case You Are Interested, I Usually Write My Post and Then Choose a Title For it. Not This Time.

A few moments ago, I was half way through writing this post. But I was writing about my current financial situation, and it was getting a bit boring. I'm conscious of the fact that many people are giving me a bit of their time when they read this blog, and so feel that I should try to make them as enjoyable and interesting to read as I can. That being said, I also know that if I just start making stuff up, people could be equally turned off what I write.

Funnily enough, that's almost exactly what former U.S President Bill Clinton said to me at lunchtime when I bumped into him outside the Co-Op. He's just moved into the area and is a sucker for the Co-Ops freshly baked crusty rolls. Got to love those rolls Bill, got to love those rolls....

So, with the words Bill Clinton mumbled to me with a mouthful of crusty roll ringing in my ears, I decided to re-write this post. And this is as far as I have got before starting to run out of ideas. I find it very difficult to think about what to write. Many a night I have sat here with my laptop on my legs, and nothing typed on the screen. What I should do is carry a small notebook or secretary around with me so that I can record ideas as they come to me. Recently I appear to have been getting a lot if inspiration in the morning - well, if I had a secretary with me at that time, I know I would.

Does the fact that I seem to get my random and bizarre ideas in the morning make me a Morning person? Morning people by definition are "better" in the mornings - they are raring to go, full of the joys of Spring etc. as opposed to Evening people, who seem to perk up later in the day. The trouble is, I'm not perky and full of beans in the morning generally. Today in fact I started my day in a neutral mode (or "Park" if you are an automatic), and then it quickly descended into a bad mode when I manage to knock a pallet over and had to re-stack it. And at no time did any good ideas for today's post come into view.
Happily, my mood improved. My day didn't make any great leaps towards being classed as "good", but it was okay.

I don't know if I am a morning or afternoon/evening person. I think I'm at the same level fairly constantly. Yes, I have bad days - when I get in a bad mood, I'm terrible. I'm ashamed to say that I still have a tendency to sulk, and I do take my bad mood out on others by the way I talk to them. My bad days are not very common, and I would hope that in general I am in a good mood.

I need to get on and complete this post. There's football on the telly (Spurs Vs Real Madrid), and I need chocolate. Again. To be honest, I haven't had any chocolate since..well, lunchtime when I had a bag of Mini eggs. But apart from that, it's been a good few days.
Actually, I don't know if it has. I have a sneaky feeling that I have had chocolate this week - but I can't really remember. That is a bit worrying really, as it either means that I'm blacking out every time I eat chocolate, or it means that subconsciously, I'm feeling guilty about the volume of chocolate I get through.
I can't see why I would be feeling guilty about eating chocolate, after all, It's not like I do it everyday.

Mind you, if I'm blacking out when I do eat chocolate, I'd never know.

Technically, I shouldn't buy any chocolate anyway. April is a tight month for me financially, and I've got to watch the pennies between now and payday - which is still 16 days away. I'm having to re-visit my seriously in debt days in terms of meals - pasta, jacket potatoes, beans - cheap food, very little variation in meal types. It isn't the most appealing thought, but I have to get through it. Part of the reason I have no money is that I'm saving for a long overdue return to the Highlands of Scotland next month with my best friend (should that be in capitals?) which I am really looking forward to. And then, from my May payday onwards, I will be able to put a little money away, and have more money for enjoying myself.
So, I'm on the brink of better financial stability, which is one of a few areas of my life which I am improving now that I have reached forty years. Once the money situation is improved, I will be continuing my personal development, returning to some previous enjoyable activities (stand up comedy, and story writing), and during all this be ever hopeful that romance may pay me a visit.

I'm going to be busy, aren't I?

And yes, at half time in the football this evening, I will be nipping out to get chocolate.

That was going to be my final word on this post, but I have just read through it, and realised that it does not flow very well, and I do jump from subject to subject. I know it doesn't read very well - but I'm writing it as I think it. I could almost use bullet points for each topic, and it wouldn't vary the readability of it too much. Maybe this is a by-product of the lack of planning. Maybe you all expect too much.
I will try to imrpove the quality of my posts. If anyone knows of a secretary who can help me find some inspiration, please get in touch.


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Potato Abandonment, Potato Inspiration, and Sherlock Holmes

Tonight, I solved a mystery.

For the past few days, I have been noticing a strange smell in my house. It was a kind of musty, earthy smell, with a bit of standing water thrown in. I thought that it was the drains, and that I would be forced to get out the drain rods again and investigate the sewage system..

Incidentally, those drain rods cost me £14 pounds plus postage, so I am determined to get the use out of them in one way or another. Possible alternative uses I have contemplated include:
  • Hitting the snooze button on my clock radio which sits on my chest of drawers, approximately two metres from my bed.
erm....that's it so far actually. I'm struggling to think of additional uses for them as I'm rather put off by the smell they have. If I think of anymore during the course of this post, I'll insert them randomly.

And when I say insert them randomly, I mean of course, into this post - you filthy minded lot!

Anyway, there has been a strange smell in my house - predominantly in the kitchen. This led me to initially think that something in my fridge had gone off, most likely vegetables. I assumed it would be the vegetables because my diet over the past week or so has wandered out of its nutritional lane on the motorway of healthy eating, ploughed through the central reservation of everything in moderation, and piled head first into the oncoming traffic of overindulgence causing a pile up with amongst other things chocolate, beer, Mcdonalds, and curry.
So, I checked my vegetables - as every man should, regularly - but found that they were fine. Now I was confused; not because I couldn't find my way back out of the fridge, but because I couldn't think what the smell could be. There was nothing else in my fridge that could go off - I had no milk, I had no beer, and although I keep my chocolate in the fridge because I like it cold, it's only ever in there for an hour or so before being consumed.
I was just beginning to think "dead rat", when it hit me - not a rat, but the answer. If I had even seen a rat, let alone come into contact with one, I would have screamed louder than an Eight year old in the front row at a Justin Bieber concert.
Friday night. Jacket potato. BIG Jacket potato. Big jacket potato that I put into the microwave for 10 minutes, to prepare it for transportation to the pre-heated oven where it would be baked for two hours to ensure through cooking.

Big jacket potato that I put in the microwave for 10 minutes and then promptly forgot about for four days.

I opened the microwave, and a waft of manky potato shot up my nostrils. There, lying on a microwaveable plate was the potato - it's tiny eyes staring lifeless out at me. For a moment I felt a pang of guilt at abandoning this innocent potato, but that soon passed as the rotten smell of the potato reached my stomach and, like a firm alarm, instructed its contents to evacuate as quickly as possible. Luckily for me, I threw the potato in the bin, and managed to keep my stomach contents down.

I don't know why I forgot to finish off my jacket potato. I don't know what I had for dinner on Friday night. Maybe my memory is failing me. More likely is the fact that I was distracted by something shiny on the floor, or bright colours on the TV.

Surprisingly, the unpleasant discovery of the jacket potato did not put me off using potatoes in my dinner tonight. I decided to have sausages with new potatoes and parsnips, and was merrily preparing to dish it up, when inspiration slapped me in the face and said "How about trying a little twist on this classic meal?"
You see, I was cooking my parsnips by slicing them and boiling them in the same water as the New potatoes. Suddenly I decided that mashing the potato and parsnips together could be a taste sensation. And it was!!

That bit of this post was a lot shorter than I thought it would be. Weird.......

Which brings me nicely to the final topic of today's post: Sherlock Holmes is my all time favourite detective. Arthur Conan Doyle's stories of his adventures are a joy for me to both read in book form, and watch in film and TV form. In terms of on screen reincarnations, Holmes has been played by many actors including Tom Baker, John Cleese, Peter Cushing (an actor my mum fancied like mad by the way), Charlton Heston, and Peter Cook. But for me, there are three actors who have in their own unique way brought the great detective to life:

Basil Rathbone, who played Sherlock Holmes between 1939 and 1946. Probably the greatest embodiment of Holmes, he really brought the character to life. His partnership with Nigel Bruce who gave an often comic portrayal of  Doctor Watson, remains one of the greatest pairings on screen of all time.

Jeremy Brett is the Holmes I have watched the most. He is more of a troubled soul than the Basil Rathbone Holmes, but had a rapier wit to match his razor sharp intellect. The dramatisation of the Holmes mysteries with Jeremy Brett in are among my favourites.

Benedict Cumberbatch - the newest incarnation of Holmes. He brings Holmes into the modern era, and yet maintains in his own style the aura that Rathbone and Brett portrayed so well. His relationship with Watson (Martin Freeman) is not yet a strong (there has only been one series so far), but the chemistry between them is there. Both actors give excellent performances, which makes this era of Holmes all the more enjoyable to watch.

So, I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes - who would have guessed that?

Well, Sherlock Holmes I would hope - or I've really been calling this one wrong........

And no further uses for Drain Rods. Probably a good idea.