Friday, 30 May 2008

Preparation for life?

I've just managed to speak to one of my sons via his mobile. He was walking to the Boathouse at university as he has a regatta tomorrow. He did so with a light heart. His exams have finished. He seems to have no more lectures, so he can settle down to the life of rowing, the beer festival tomorrow, the College Ball, the College picnic, and the other joys of the summer term. It sounds like a wonderful life.

The world of work will come as a shock to him, but who can blame him for making the most of the opportunity he worked so hard at school to create.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Best

The phone has been reconnected. I was impressed by the tenacity and perseverance of Luke, the BT engineer who came and did the job. Due to the extremely cramped position he had to adopt in mum's loft, I offered to act as his mate and pass the required tools and bits of equipment. There was a 30 minute period during which he was atop the telegraph pole between here and the exchange. It was here that the fault lay. However it is now fixed and we are back in touch with the rest of the world.

Mum has the Daily Telegraph for her daily paper, and I used to think of it as a bastion of Englishness and standards. Twice in the last week their English has been lacking. They write that "Limousines will bare the starlets away." , which conjures up an interesting mental picture and "Helicopters baring members of HM forces". Honestly! What school did these people go to? The verb is "to bear".

The news stories regarding the stabbings of young people are truly horrifying. It is hard to know what to suggest. Young people who feel it is necessary to demonstrate their commitment to a group by being part of a violent act are clearly lacking in moral values, and for that surely we can only lay the blame at the door of their parents.

The counter, of course, is the hundreds and hundreds of young people who contribute to to the general good of our society in so many different ways. Long may they continue to be motivated by their idealism, and stir us sceptics and cynics out of our apathy. And please can our media remind us from time to time that there is much good in the world.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Hanging on the telephone.

Once again, we have no telephone here. Quite what has occurred is for BT to discover and fix, but my broadband works fine. I think the temporary repair that was made in January has failed. The message from BT is "That there is a fault between the exchange and your property". The exchange is some 20 - 25 meters from the corner of my mothers bungalow. I can almost reach over the fence and touch it. The wire from the exchange to my mothers house goes via the top of one pole. In this day and age, one would think that over such a small distance, the cable's integrity could be maintained.

The Orange mobile coverage is not good here, either. However, I've found a place in the house where the signal is OK, but while it is in this position, I can't hear my mobile if it rings. Hmmm.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Cooped up with the Patient

Today is a bank holiday. Naturally it is raining, cold and blowing a gale. Oh, splendid.

I am indoors with the tyrant who, as soon as I sit down or leave the room, thinks of something she wants and gets me up or causes me to abort what I am doing. She will be lucky to survive the day at this rate.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Self Satisfied, verging on Smug.

It is nice to be able to return kindness. My mother's neighbour, who my mother would instantly elevate to Sainthood in the unlikely event that she ever became Pope, has a back injury and is temporarily incapacitated. Thus it has become my pleasant duty to look in on her every half day, and this evening she felt sufficiently disconsolate so when I offered her some of our casserole, she accepted my offer with alacrity. She was pathetically grateful when I took the meal in, but she has been so kind to my mother during her long period of incapacity that it seemed the least I could do. I shall be interested to hear what she thought of it. Personally, I thought it was rather good, but I would say that, wouldn't I?

I am also feeling distinctly smug that I drove down here yesterday. There are stories in the media that the roads are in chaos and sundry ginormous traffic jams have occurred on roads to the West Country. While cheerfully engrossed in a Hamish MacBeth audio book on the CD player in the car, I rolled down here yesterday in a very reasonable four and a half hours, averaging 61 m.p.h. and 64.9 m.p.g. of diesel. I am not saying that our Fiat Grande Punto is the greatest car around, but one really is hard pressed to see what more you could want from a car.

Tomorrow, I am going to set off for Sainsbury's at 06:40 to get a long list of stuff that we need. I must now check Granny's bank balance to see that we can afford it all. I've looked. We can.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I'm still here

At home, that is.

I've been allowed to help with the garden, I've mended the fence. We have hosted a visit by our friend Sue. We've attended the final assemby for No. 3 son at his school. All he has to do now is take his A levels.

Life is good.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Mending fences

We have lived in our house for 12 and a half years. About 3 years ago we noticed that the horizontal rails which form the main structure of the fence between ourselves and our lovely Indian neighbours were rotting. Idleness set in and we did nothing. This winter, several of the vertical feather edged boards came off because the nails holding then to the rails had nothing to grip on to as the rails had rotted away. Finally today, I went off and bought timber to form new rails.

There are 8 panels in the fence and each has three horizontal rails, so I had to cut and fit 24 rails. This job went more smoothly than I anticipated. I then entered next door's garden to nail the vertical planks to the new rails. After 2 and a half panels, I am finished. I have hit my thumb with the hammer regularly, and in the last few minutes I hit it more often than the nails. So, sod it, I have given up and come in to watch the Cup Final, and I'll finish the job on Monday.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Money, Money, Money

I arrived home at half past nine last evening. Today has been a bit hectic with collecting and banking money. My colleagues on the charity committee had a most successful event last week and raised nearly £1000. As a result there were loads of cheques to be banked and a mass of cash to be counted and banked. One of the lovely ladies who collected all the money had miscounted by £10, so I spent quite a long time trying to work out why I could get the numbers they gave me to balance. When I finally resorted to counting it all to complete the paying-in slip, I found the error. This small error in no way diminishes my admiration for the hard working colleagues who made this event such a success. They obviously have a much better appreciation of what will appeal to the audience than me.

As most of this money was collected from a house which was on my way to the bank, rather than bring it all home to count it, I retired to the cafe in the Library and sat a a discreet but large table to count it all and then complete the paying-in slip. I felt slightly nervous about doing this until I had a good look round at my fellow coffee drinkers. There appeared to be only one person younger than me and the vast majority of the others were little old ladies. I'm pretty sure I could have taken most of them.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Down with long trousers and socks....

For the last two and a half days, I have scuzzed about in shorts and sandals. It is now raining, so I have put on some long trousers. It feels strange. The garden needs the rain, but my legs need fresh air and sunshine, 'cos I want to go back to shorts and sandals. Soon.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Another hard day in the sunshine..

The sun has shone relentlessly again today. This morning was taken up going in to Truro where I had to growl somewhat in Specsavers. Why we had to wait 30 minutes for an adjustment that took 30 seconds is beyond me. Their service is rubbish.

We spent a few bob in Boots, where we invested in a range of odds and ends that need replacing, aided by a most helpful lady who showed us where everything we wanted was. Why are razor blades so expensive?

The ladies in Lakeland were their normal helpful selves and our needs there were soon met.

This afternoon has been spent lazing in the sun - I even made some headway with the Telegraph crossword. Splendid.

Monday, 12 May 2008


Today we have had glorious sunshine. Mum and I have sat outside most of the day and luxuriated in it. Jolly nice it was too.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Visitors and a possible ban...?

Today we have been inundated with visitors. The District Nurse was first at 9:00 and Fran, the carer, was last at 18:45 and there have been seven in between. And we went to the hairdressers this afternoon. I can't speak for my Mum, but I'm exhausted.

I am in danger of being banned from the hairdresser's. During my haircut yesterday, the stylish Alison suggested that a series of themed "Fetish Days" would attract customers. In a discussion, we discussed some ideas for suitable themes. Today, Alison (bless her) repeated some of these ideas in the presence of the proprietor Sarah, and an other male customer who showed significant enthusiasm. Quite how she arrived at the conclusion, I am not sure, but Sarah decided that I was behind all this and that banning me might be the next move. Hmmmmm.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Should have done this ages and ages ago and Dangerous People

Clean the keyboard of my PC, that's what. I burgled 4 antiseptic wipes from Granny's pot of them to clean my keyboard. Good Grief, it was dirty. Then I looked at it closely.... it is the Dan keyboard that came with the computer I bought when we lived in Ware. Thus it is at least 15 years old. I've never cleaned it before, and I very much doubt if anyone else in the family has. So, 15 years of dirty fingers, tea and coffee spills, sweat and crud have been (more or less) removed.

Somehow the keyboard still looks old, but now it looks loved and cared for and I feel affection for it. Here's to another 15 years. Let's be honest, there aren't many bits of PCs that last that long and still work well.

I took a return ferry trip from St. Mawes to Falmouth this afternoon. For more or less the entire trip it rained. On the return trip the inside cabin of the ferry was full (there must have been around 24 of us) and four of the passengers, 3 women and 1 man grinned the whole time at the rest of us. Now I found this somewhat disturbing. I have Grumpy Old Man (GOM) tendencies, and in my world, people who smile all the time just aren't right in the head. So on arriving back at St. Mawes, I was glad to get off and distance myself from these dangerous characters. They should be incarcerated for the safety of us Grumpies. There are more of us than them. Grumpy is Good. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Monday, 5 May 2008

A Bank Holiday

Today has been a bank holiday. The weather was pants here this morning, but cleared up sufficiently for us to have a bar-b-que this afternoon. Very enjoyable it was too. Despite the rain, it has been very warm, and I could swear that the grass grows visibly in this sort of weather.

All too soon it will be time to head for Cornwall, and I shall do so with mixed feelings. My mother reports with a note of triumph in her voice that she has not fallen over today. I suppose I should be grateful, but I don't really feel anything but dread and then I feel guilty about that. Watching someone I've known and loved as an active parent descend into frailty, dependency and despair makes me miserable. It occurs to me that this process is something that almost all of us have to experience, given that we are lucky enough to survive our parents, and I resolve to try and find whatever positives I can. Amongst these positives is the innate goodness of just about all of the people my Mum and I have encountered over the last year. Despite all of the ghastly headlines, and today has its share, there are an awful lot of good people in the world. Thanks to you all.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

A good friend of mine is a member of the Labour Party and lives with his family in Clapham. I feel for him today. I have Conservative tendencies, and I am both surprised and delighted at their success. Ken Livingstone had passed his "sell by" date as Mayor of London, and while I have enormous admiration for what he has done and the profile he has created for the position of Mayor of London, I think he and his advisors ran a poor campaign and deserved to get beaten.

As for what our revered Prime Minister is thinking today, I cannot begin to guess. What seems so incomprehensible is that he seems unable to grasp that this is largely his own fault. Since the non-election in October/November, he has made some astonishing decisions which have brought him and his government to this point. Winning the next General Election from where he is today will take an awful lot of doing, and I rather suspect that he does not have the personality nor the cabinet colleagues to pull it off.

Friday, 2 May 2008


Today has been a day of doing not much. I can hear my wife's reaction "Just like every other day, you mean?". Well, a bit I suppose. This morning we went to the Farmers Market here in Solihull, then we went to see No. 1 son in Leamington Spa. We had to take over some things he needed.

Our Farmers Market is one of those institutions that I like. There is lots of local produce nicely laid out and being sold by people who are closely involved in growing or producing it. Of particular interest was a stall selling sauces. Curry sauces, bourguignon, sweet and sour etc., all in jars and most available to taste. Jolly good they were too, at least the ones I was able to taste. I added the availability of a Farmers Market to the list of requirements for any future living place. I think it just means we have to live in a market town.

The news concerning the local elections has surprised me slightly. Not that I expected anything other than a bad day for Labour, but the scale of their disaster surprises me. When we brits get fed up with a political party we don't reject them a little bit, do we? We throw them out, kick them down and stamp on them for good measure. Perhaps it is the only chance we get to legally behave violently. Labour's doom will be complete if, as seems likely, Boris Johnson is elected Mayor of London later tonight.