Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Blog Moved

This is the last post on this site and the whole blog has moved. It can now be found here

"Four eunuchs fighting over a split condom"

Politics interests me. In my youth (and I'm talking 45+ years ago....) I was a young Conservative, but only because the girls were generally much prettier. At University, I lost interest, and once at work, I was too busy earning a crust to get actively involved.

The current contest for the leadership of the Labour Party fascinates me. The only candidate who holds any appeal is Diane Abbott, and by all accounts, she has no chance. For me, the whole contest is admirably summed up by this piece in the Independent. Following the publication of the Mandelson memoirs, the Labour Party seems well on the way to self-destructing, which is a shame, because a confident opposition would help keep the coalition government honest.

Quite what the average Trade Unionist or Labour Party activist thinks is a mystery, since they appear to have lost all means of making their voices heard or their opinions known. I, and I suspect a lot of others, will watch with interest.

Monday, 12 July 2010


Well, the World Cup is over, Wimbledon is done, The British Grand Prix has finished and the Open starts this week. A Summer of Sport is well and truly underway.

I've watched a fair bit on the box over the course of the World Cup, and I now urge the BBC to dispense with the services of Alan Shearer. His speciality, like Sybil Fawlty is the bleeding obvious. He has nothing original to say and clearly does little or no research on the sides he is watching. That is simply unacceptable practice for a well paid, supposedly professional, journalist. Alan Hansen isn't much better. The star of the mid and post match commentators has been Lee Dixon.

Time to find a comment page on the BBC website.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Down with Trousers!

I see that this is my 450th post, and I wish I had something really deep and meaningful to say, but I don't. So, like all Brits, when they can't find anything deep and meaningful to say, I shall resort to our favourite national topic of conversation, the weather.

The warm sunshine is great. I love it. I have no wish for rain or cold. It will be a sad day when I have to start wearing socks and long trousers again. I haven't really worn either for a fortnight or so, and it makes me think of being on holiday. I like holidays and always try and get through them wearing shorts and sandals.

Cycling around on Friday, it was very noticeable that a lot of the lawns in neighbouring roads are getting distinctly brown, and I guess that a lot of the keen lawn maintainers will be wishing for some grain.

Monday, 5 July 2010

A painful necessity

The new UK Government is making news with its efforts to cut Public expenditure, and so Government borrowing. I have to say I'm all in favour. The costs of public sector pensions and redundancy packages is simply unaffordable. We may be in for a long summer, autumn and winter of public employee industrial action, but these people just don't realise there their benefits are way more than the equivalent private sector person. This is a problem that has been bubbling away for some years and should have been addressed before now. The Labour Government just didn't have the balls. It is to be hoped that the majority of the working population will support the steps being taken, and that the Government can find the stomach for whatever fight is to come.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


It has been birthday time in our house. Beloved wife and youngest son have had birthdays on consecutive days, so presents have been given and received and family members have been around to wish them the best.

Friday, 25 June 2010

The Garden Room.

The roof is complete. The plaster is dry. I now have to paint and fit the skirting, and then paint the walls. It is looking good, but I'm struggling to find much in the way of enthusiasm.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Well, it was not to be. England won and made it to the knock-out phase. It may not last long, however, and to come second to the USA isn't exactly a highlight.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Hoping for a fall.

Tomorrow afternoon is the crunch match for our wretched football players. I nearly wrote "team" there, but they haven't played or acted like a team, so I didn't.

This may be unpatriotic, but I really hope they fail to get through the group stages. The fallout, backstabbing, and blame game will be magnificent to watch. Far better entertainment than the football. So here's hoping they play like a bunch of strangers again tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


The plasterer and his lad put in an appearance this morning. Result: the Garden Room is now all boarded out, ready for his return tomorrow morning to skim the surface he has created


The pictures above show what it looks like now. The photos show the sun streaming in and I suspect that my beloved and I are going to have a huge dither about the colour that will eventually go on the walls. Not grey, that's for sure!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Who Is Really In Charge?

Like an awful lot of men, I've been taking an interest in the World Cup. I heard a chap from John Lewis on the radio explaining that they were selling a new flat screen television every 30 seconds in the run up to the start of the TV coverage. Looking at the John Lewis website, it seems that most of their TVs mean an investment of upwards of £650, so either:-

Men in the household are in charge of choosing TVs


The ladies are allowing their menfolk to think they are in charge, but have been hoping for a new TV for a while and are using the World Cup to "reluctantly acquiesce" to the necessary purchase. The ladies being secure in the knowledge that they will have the prime use of the device for the next four years (or at least until the summer of 2012 when the London Olympic coverage starts).

Thursday, 10 June 2010


The wretched roof project has distracted me from watching the world on various news web sites, but the time has come to pick out two stories which have caught my eye. Both of them lead one to conclude that some folks allow their desire to support the national football team to completely overwhelm whatever common sense they may have. The first story is one about a giant flag. Apparently the son in the family says that his house is the talk of the village. I bet it is.

The second concerns the slightly (completely?) bonkers gent from Sutton Coldfield who laid turf on his lounge floor.

Quite why anyone would want to do either of these things is beyond me, but then I guess I'm just a boring old fart. I can only assume that my theory that football rots your brain is, in fact true.

Oh Dear.....

One can tell when a project is going wrong, at least I can. The conservatory roof project has had a bad day, some would say a very bad day. The root cause of this sense of impending doom is that the gentleman who came from the factory to measure the job omitted to carry out one basic check. He forgot to check that the room is square. It isn't. Thus we have a beautiful square roof, carefully manufactured in the factory that doesn't fit the rhombus shaped room. The frame can be modified, but the double glazed glass panels can't. Thus a new tapered one will will have to be ordered. Other pieces of the glass roof are being fitted as I type this, and I have to say, the bits in place look really good.

The lack of progress means that it looks likely to not be completed until next week. I am not best pleased.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I love work - I could watch it all day

I have watched with fascination as the two guys struggling with our new conservatory roof have tackled the job. The roof has been designed and supplied to order and a man from the factory came with expensive looking instruments to measure the job. The frame is now up, but it has been an interesting spectacle with bits not fitting and some very indifferent documentation in the form of installation instructions. These do not tie up with the numbers and letters on the bits of metal that have been delivered. The photos below show the project at the end of day 3.

Apparently the real proof of the pudding will be tomorrow when Colin and Tony (after a cup of tea, of course) attempt to fit the glass in the frame they have created.

I shall be watching with interest.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

We are having the roof of our conservatory replaced. The old polycarbonate is being replaced with a new glass roof.

So far the old roof is off, and the rain is steadily filling up what used to be our conservatory. The photos show the current roofless state of the project. It looks rather as though progress today will be hindered by the steady drizzle, but we will see.

Monday, 7 June 2010

A Good Tool

They say (well, women say, mostly) that men are just boys with bigger toys. There is some truth in this. I like my toys, and one I bought some years ago always impresses me. About 7 years ago, I bought a Honda mower. It has a 42cc four-stroke petrol engine which never fails to start, and always produces a decent look to the grass it cuts. Well today, I introduced my Honda to the weed infested lawn at Spalding.

It did its usual amazing job. At the end it produced quite a reasonable look. Our weeds even had stripes (see picture on the left). The roller at the back of the Honda usually manages to get some stripes, and so we had some today. I had to empty the grass box every four lengths, but even so, it was a pleasure to work with a quality tool.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

My Prediction : Beaten Quarter Finalists

Well, the England squad for the World Cup has been chosen. To my mind Don Fabio has played it safe. It seems there is no one in the squad who might set the team alight, in the way that Theo Walcott or Adam Johnson might have.

One of my favourite management maxims was "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got". I think we've done what we've always done and therefore I confidently expect us to get no further than the quarter finals. I hope I'm wrong, but this bunch of journeymen just don't seem to have the creative talent to get any further.

I shall have to revisit this topic as the tournament progresses.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Peter Corrigan, R.I.P.

The sudden passing of someone you know provokes all sorts of feelings. Peter Corrigan was not close friend of ours. He was a man we had met on a couple of occasions, but somehow we knew him and were glad that we did. He loved life and it showed. He was a big chap and leaves a hole in many lives that will not be filled. Many will miss him and mourn him, none more than his beloved family.

It seems unfair that he should depart when he had had so short a time to enjoy his retirement. He had any number of dreams to pursue. If it can happen to Peter, it can happen to any of us, and I start to feel very vulnerable.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Talk about rewarding failure.

My beloved wife told me last evening that this blog is becoming a series of rants. Well, I apologise in advance, but this is another one. A Peerage for Sir Ian Blair, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner is the latest news to raise my blood pressure.

This is a man who led the shambolic police service during the disastrous episode that ended in the killing of Jean-Charles De Menezes. The rest of the world will wonder what on earth we are up to.

Friday, 28 May 2010

More roadside cameras please.

My route back from the swimming pool in the morning takes me across a crossroads controlled by traffic lights. It is noticeable in the prosperous suburb of Birmingham that an increasing number of motorists seem to regard traffic lights as optional. It also seems that it is the well-to-do in their new cars and 4x4's who think that they can drive over the lights on red. These are those who ignore the law on using mobile phones while driving too.

Rather than put in more speed cameras, please could the powers-that-be consider installing cameras that photograph those who drive over red lights, so that they can be banned from driving soonest, thus protecting the rest of us.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Is this a good use of a Policeman's time?

Following in on from yesterdays excitement, the taking of a statement took more than an hour. The two policemen resolutely refused cups of tea, and wrote out my statement which I was then asked to sign. The amount of paperwork was staggering. We need policemen to be out there, deterring and catching criminals, not acting as secretaries.

Perhaps I should stand for Parliament and try and get something done about it.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Bit of Luck

A couple of posts ago I gave brief details of our burglary. Well, somewhat to my surprise, I have both the box trailer and my beloved Brompton back.

The box trailer had been left in a road not far away having had the towing hitch taken off. It was taken by a recovery company who kept it locked up until the SOCOs had checked it for finger prints. I was allowed to go and look at it yesterday. Having taken some dimensions, I set off to buy the parts necessary to recommission it. A hitch, a jockey wheel and a brake bar cost me £260.85 which hurt a bit, and I had to pay £150 to release it from the recovery company.

I spotted the Brompton on eBay, and rang the gent selling it. After he checked a load of details he accepted it was mine and agreed that I could have it back. I collected it this afternoon. I now await the visit by a policeman who is coming to take a statement.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A welcome hot weekend

This weekend has been one of the hottest I can remember. (here I have to admit that my memory is not that good, but it was hot, anyway). We have indulged in some serious inactivity. The puzzles and crosswords have taken a bit of a beating, but all the other jobs have remained undone. I loved it.

Friday, 21 May 2010


While I was away sailing some lowlife stole our box trailer and two bicycles. Thomas's newly acquired racing machine and my beloved Brompton have gone. The trailer has been recovered, but I think our chances of ever seeing the bikes are very, very low.

This experience is new for me, but it begins to make you think that the Saudi punishment of cutting off hands might just be appropriate.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

My new Den

My new Den arrived and was erected on Monday

First photo shows the Den being erected

second photo shows the finished article all painted

third photo is another view, with the doors open to ventilate the place.

Thanks are due to all at Warwick Buildings who were a pleasure to deal with.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Love it, just love it.

I don't often read the Guardian, so when I stumbled upon this comment piece, I smiled at the first para or two. By the end of the piece, I was giggling fit to burst. The tone of the piece just makes tickles my funny bone and I accept that others may not find it funny. See if you do.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Nick Clegg's Dilemma

Is Nick Clegg about to do something very silly? I really do hope not.

People say he has a great opportunity. As I look at things, he seems to have a huge dilemma.

The single thing that the Liberal Democrats want is electoral reform, i.e. a voting method which more fairly reflects the votes cast by the electorate. I don’t think they are going to get any sort of meaningful commitment on the subject from the Conservatives. Therefore, whatever agreement or consensus the Tories and the Lib-Dems have on topics such as the economy, civil liberties, tax, reform of Parliament, etc., if there is not a commitment to a referendum on electoral reform, why would he make any sort of deal with David Cameron? The rank and file of his party will be most uncomfortable.

The trouble is that if the Lib-Dems turn the other way and try and arrive at a deal with Labour, then such a Labour/Lib-Dem alliance would need support from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, DUP, and the other very small parties in order to form a government. In this case, the Celtic representatives (SMP, Plaid, DUP) would demand such a price, almost certainly in cash, that such a deal would be unacceptable to the English. In such an alliance, who would be Prime Minister. Gordon Brown, who suffered a barely credible, last minute, conversion to the PR cause, seems to be unacceptable to the majority of the electorate and to many of his own MPs. They already seem to be looking for a new leader. A new Labour leader (Alan Johnson, David Milliband or Harriet Harman), who has not faced the electorate would generate considerable ill-will, and it is hardly credible that the Labour MPs or party would accept Nick Clegg himself.

What would I do? I think I’d call Brown’s bluff. OK, Gordon, you can stay as PM, I want Vince Cable to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, I want to be (say) Foreign Secretary, and Ed Balls is unacceptable in any ministerial role. We agree that in 6 months we will have a referendum on PR. If PR is accepted, there will be another election in May 2011 and you, Gordon, can fight for your role as Leader of the Labour Party before calling it. The Conservatives can go hang. They will have a huge internal spat about why they failed to win a majority in the 2010 election and are unlikely ever to be in a position to have a majority of MPs in the foreseeable future.

I wrote this post before reading this article from yesterday on the Guardian website. It isn't often that I find myself agreeing with the Guardian, but I do agree with this. It is even more eruditely explained by Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer here, as he says in his last sentence, Nick Clegg is living the nightmare now..

Socks, Laundry of.

I have too may socks. Not just a few too many, but way, way too many. When they get washed, some make a bid for freedom and a number seem to succeed, judging by the bag of odd socks I have.

For some time, I have laid the responsibility for the bids for freedom on the lax security regime my beloved wife has when washing them. I have now proved this to be the case. I washed a load of socks on Friday and at the end of the process had a complete number of pairs. Clearly the stricter regime that applies when I'm in charge prevents successful attempts for freedom.

I accept that I now have the job of washing my socks for the remainder of our marriage, and I've no doubt that my beloved wife is not unhappy about that.

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Politicians We Deserve?

What a lily-livered bunch we are. We, the British Electorate, had the chance to tell the politicians of this country what we thought of them and our discredited electoral system, and we could quite bring ourselves to take it. The saying goes, that we get the politicians we deserve, and boy, we deserve what we get after yesterday.

On a local note, I am delighted that our MP, Lorely Burt won. The Conservatives selected the most unattractive candidate they could find so they cannot, surely, be surprised that they lost. Goodbye, Maggie Throup, may you never re-emerge.

Let us now hope that some Grown-ups take charge, and we get a government who put the country, rather than their own party, first.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Duty done.

I voted. Now we just have to wait to see if the result is what I hoped for.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Interesting Times?

Apparently there is an old Chinese curse "May you live in Interesting Times"

Tomorrow there is a day of calm. Our hectoring politicians are silenced and we the electorate can have our say. My vote will go to the one party who will make a real change if they succeed. I cannot forgive the Labour Party for eroding our liberties so severely over the last 13 years and I cannot vote for the party which supports none of the Pledge demands listed by Power 2010.

It would have been more interesting if the three parties had told us what they really think will have to be done to reduce the deficit. The European Commission certainly seem to think that our new government will have to make it a priority.

I am certainly hoping that no party wins an overall majority and then Friday and Saturday will be Interesting Times.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Project 1 of 6, or is it 7?

The new Greenhouse has arrived. It arrived in a van at a quarter to eight this morning and had been erected and the paint touched up by 9:45. The photo shows it sitting on its plinth. Very fine it looks too.

I just hope I shall be allowed in it from time to time.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Darth Vader and Imperial Storm Troopers in Lincolnshire!!

In a development that seems to have completely passed our political leaders by, Darth Vader, Imperial Storm Troopers, Daleks and Doctor Who were seen in Spalding this afternoon. They were joined by, among others, James Bond, Shrek, Batman and several Robins, Wonderwoman, and a host of Disney Princesses.

The occasion was the Annual Spalding Flower Parade where the theme was Screen Heroes. Some 40 floats made up the parade and many of them were fantastic. The amount of work and creativity that has been put into their design and building is amazing.

The photos shows Darth Vader briefing one of his Imperial Storm Troopers about the following Combine Harvester that is about to run them down!

The the next photo two Daleks are seen with Dr Who nonchalantly strolling along in the foreground apparently unaware that he may be exterminated at any moment.

The whole event was extremely well organised with people sitting in their own deck chairs at the side of the road while the parade passed by. While waiting, it was noticeable that policemen were happy to chat to children and even let them sit in police cars.

It was simply a delightful family afternoon out, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it.

Friday, 30 April 2010

They still don't get it, do they?

The debates are over. There is less than a week to go. And they still don't get it.

This item from last night's Question Time says it all. The young lady could not have put it better and it is no wonder that she got a huge round of applause. Our politicians treat us like children. My plea to everyone is that we rise up and poke them violently in the eye on Thursday next. And it was especially nice to see that weasel Ed Balls being the one who was on the end of the young lady's tirade. Bless her.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Working with Robin

Not our daughter, but with the Robin who owns our front garden (amongst others, I suspect). The borders in the front have become clogged with weeds, so today I took some tools and hand weeded the most visible stretches. Within 5 minutes, I had been joined by a small robin who explained, by a tilt of his head that I should pause in my grubbing around in the soil every so often so that he could have a turn. He was clearly not frightened of me and so long as I sat on my stool and kept my tools out of his way, he was prepared to sit and wait, while I cleared some weeds, then he hopped onto the soil and fished out all the tasty grubs he could find, before indicating that it was my turn again.

For most of an hour he was within two feet of me and quite often, I could have stretched out a hand and touched the little fellow if he had let me. As it was I kept still while he ate the grubs I'd uncovered, so we got on very well. As I slowly moved along the bed moving my stool along the tarmac, he would occasionally fly off but would return in a few seconds to check on my progress and indicate that he should have a turn.

The noise of passing traffic and people simply ceased to exist as I got lost in wonder at his presence, and thanks to his company, I stuck at the task for longer than I would have done otherwise.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Risk Management - Where Was It?

The reaction of the authorities to the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano has been interesting. The initial reaction to ban all flights was probably the correct thing to do. It gave everyone time to assess the scale of the problems caused by the ash and see where the winds would take the cloud. However, it has taken chaos and a Dunkirk spirit to apparently cause people to think and do a proper assessment of the risks and hazards of flying. The airlines, who need to stop losing money at the current rate, finally got round to sending up some planes and pilots to see what flying with ash in the air was really like. Result - modern planes, well flown to avoid the worst of the ash, cope very well.

Now all we have to do is work out how to get all the poor souls who have been stranded back to where they want to go.

Seriously, after day 1 and, perhaps, 2, this has not been one of the finest hours for the aviation authorities of Europe. I can't help thinking that our American cousins would have managed it differently.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Use it or Lose it.

Life seems to be hectic at the moment. There are a number of projects on the go, and while nothing has gone wrong, I'm finding managing them is causing brain-ache. While I was working, I'd have walked it, but the old grey cells have not been used for this kind of activity for a while, and hence I am out of practice. I'm not used to working this hard.

Monday, 12 April 2010


Some months ago, I signed up to the Power 2010 campaign. I contributed to the choice of the the five changes that would be thought to bring about the most profound and needed change to the political system in the UK.

The 5 things are:
  1. Introduce a proportional voting system
  2. Scrap ID cards and roll back the database state
  3. Replace the House of Lords with an elected Chamber
  4. Allow only English MPs to vote on English Laws
  5. Draw up a written constitution
Together these form the Power 2010 Pledge. As part of the campaign, we were asked to email the prospective candidates in our constituency and ask which of these they support. The outcome here in Solihull has been quite instructive.
The Tory Candidate does not support any of them, even no 4 (!) - somehow, this response comes as no surprise.
The Lib-Dem candidate supports them all as they are Lib-Dem policy
The Labour candidate has not replied (somehow this doesn't surprise me either).

My reaction is that the response of the two major parties is PATHETIC. It is enough to make me weep. Rise up, fellow voters and give the two major parties the most tremendous kick in the goolies!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Public Sector Waste? Of Course There Is!

The first two years of my working life were spent in the Civil Service. From 1974 onwards, I earned my crust in the commercial world. I was always convinced that the public sector wasted resources in a way that a commercial enterprise could not have countenanced. As the debate hots up in the election campaign about the Tory claim to be able to save vast sums of money by making the public sector more efficient, I admit to being convinced. This article in today's Times helped to convince me.

I don't think that Gordon Brown's assertion that business leaders have been mislead hold water either. These people didn't get where they are by being easily fooled - unlike some of our politicians.

Respect for the Police

Recently, I bought a second-hand copy of the book "Editor" by Max Hastings for our youngest son. I took the liberty of reading it, and enjoyed it hugely. In the book. Max contrasts the level of intellect displayed by senior Police Officers with that of senior Military Officers, the military being, in his view, far more impressive.

A number of incidents starting with the killing of Jean-Charles De Menezes at Stockwell Tube Station have increased my concern that our police service is an example of "Lions led by Donkeys". This story is another example. Surely, any well led organisation should have processes in place to ensure that behaviour such as these officers does not happen. I accept that every organisation will have a few rotten apples, but this is another story that will erode respect for the police.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

None of the Above

Well, the great race for Government has started.

Half of me wants to trash the TV, cancel the papers and fix the radio tuner to Radio 7 - the other half is fascinated by the choice we are faced with. I have nearly finished reading Andrew Rawnsley's book "The End of the Party". It was recommended by a good friend. It should be required reading for all of us who intend to vote.

Sadly, I suspect that David Cameron's style would be very like that of Tony Blair, so it looks like Nick Clegg and Vince Cable for me.

Monday, 29 March 2010

With Friends Like These....

.......GB must be doing his nut. One of his government ministers has a go at Joanna Lumley who feels the need to defend herself in a press conference. Minister, and Prime Minister hastily try to retract what they allegedly said. Honestly. What a bunch of numbskulls. Ms Lumley, as a result of her campaigning efforts won a just deal for those who put their life on the line for this country. She is almost certainly trusted by the public more than all government ministers put together. To try to do down such a person must rate as shooting yourself in both feet.

I do hope that Kevin Jones gets the "hairdryer" treatment from No. 10, because if ever anyone deserves it, he does. What a pillock.

Something of a difference

Today I've had an opportunity to contrast the attitudes that prevail in the public and private sectors. The council operate an attractive looking scheme at the local tip which is akin to a loyalty card scheme. For each load of green waste you take to the tip, you get a card stamped and with 5 stamps you can claim a free bag of compost. When I enquired, I was told "We haven't got any cards, and we haven't had any for months". So it was home to phone the council who said earnestly, "Ah, they shouldn't be saying that, I'll get some one from the waste management dept. to look into it". They took my phone number and I shall be amazed if I hear any more.

In contrast, a double glazing company called on the dot of the time agreed on Friday, clearly keen to get a quote in for a job and make a sale.

The public sector need a good shake up.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Another Good Night

Last evening we attended a a performance of Variety Lives, compered by Arthur Smith. I've always wanted to see him live, and having done so, it only reinforces my opinion that he is one of the funniest men around. His introductions only came slightly unstuck when he attempted a Knock, Knock joke. In response to the Knock, Knock opening line, there came a very loud "Hello" from a lady in the audience. This brought Arthur to something of a half and he declared that this was the first time that he had ever encountered such a response and admitted that it put him distinctly off his stride. He then declared that it was a splendid response and he would use it himself from now on in an attempt to unsettle his fellow comedians.

A conversation followed with the lady who had derailed the joke and it turned out she was Italian. Arthur recited the only bit of Italian he knew and asked the lady to translate it. "Oh No, it's far too rude" was her reply. Big laughs all round.

Also on the bit were Ruby and Noah, (and her voice is amazing), Luke Wright an extraordinary performance poet, and Hattie Hayridge, who is best known for her performances as Holly in Red Dwarf.

I certainly came away with a big smile.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Get on with it Gordon.

Well, Alistair Darling has spoken. And I'm none the wiser. The budget does nothing for me - in all senses of that phrase. At present, I can see no reason to vote for any of the political parties. This is a dilemma, because I fervently believe that I should vote. Our democracy was a hard won right, and I have a duty to exercise my franchise. I just wish I could work out who to vote for.

Come on, you miserable bugger Gordon, call an election and then, maybe, someone will spell out a compelling argument that will attract my vote.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Havant Duck Race

The weather this morning is a great improvement over yesterday, which must have come as a great relief to the organisers of a Duck Race that took place in the park opposite my daughter's house at 11:00.

Promptly, at the appointed hour, some 500 or so ducks were released into the small stream and made their way down to the finish. It was a distance of a quarter of a mile or so. What impressed me was the atmosphere that surrounded the event. It was a real family outing with children of all ages, dogs, and family members enjoying the occasion.

Our eye had been caught by the arrival of a trailer bearing tent, cooking equipment, tables, chairs and all the other paraphernalia necessary. They started to set up at around 8 a.m. and by 10, it was all in place. Members of the scout troupe turned up early in their wellington boots, to help set up and then to release and recover the plastic ducks at the end of the race. At the conclusion of the race, tea,coffee and burgers were available, and many seemed to be using this a a substitute for breakfast.

Amidst all the stories of antisocial behaviour by young people, it was nice to witness a reminder that there is much that is good about this country.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Night at the Opera

Last evening we enjoyed an evening of opera at the Hippodrome in Birmingham. We were kindly given tickets to go and enjoy the Welsh National Opera (WNO) production of Abduction from the Seraglio with music by Mozart.

The music was most enjoyable, but the production lacked a spark to ignite in me an emotion like awe, admiration or wonder. I admired the professionalism, and the quality of the set, but somehow it lacked something. The WNO certainly packed the accompanying programme with references to their other productions and activities, so they are clearly a lively company.

The production was set on the Orient Express in 1920 or '21 and the set constrained the piece. There was no room to move up or down, or forwards or backwards. All movement was left or right. The singers took an Act to get warmed up. The first Act was a bit flat (not in the musical sense, though my musical ability is such that I probably could not tell if the were!), but the second and third Acts were much livelier.

I came away having enjoyed the entertainment, but thinking that opera is a very inefficient way of telling a story. Perhaps I've watched the DVDs of the Bourne trilogy too often.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Trains that work and people that don't.

Another visit to London has been and gone. I went yesterday and returned this morning. If the rest of the country wants to see how a railway should be run, I suggest that they have a good look at Chiltern Railways. Marlylebone Station is clean and has everything you need (though 30 pence for a pee is a bit steep!), the trains are clean and run on time, the information boards on the platforms and in the trains work and the people are pleasant. More more could you want? Oh, and the fares are ridiculously low if you book in advance.

The people who travel on said trains don't, however, seem any more blessed with brains than the drivers at the tip last week. Why more don't print their tickets at home and save a fortune is beyond me. And why don't people who are told by the ticket barrier to "Seek Assistance" do just that? Rather, they continue to offer their ticket to a machine that has rejected it, often more than once. People pay £2.10 for coffee on the train, but they can buy the same coffee at Marylebone for £1.60 before they board the train..... I don't understand it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Tip Rage ?

Today got off to a great start. A swim, followed by a trip into town where Boots had my drugs ready, the ticket machine at the stations coughed up my train tickets for a trip to London on Monday, and the queues in the two banks I had to visit were manageable.

It all started to go wrong when I took a trailer load of green rubbish to the tip. The people using the tip this morning all seemed to have had a brainectomy. Cars were strewn around and the standard of driving was appalling. How did these people pass a test? As a result it took me two minutes to empty the trailer, but around 15 minutes to extricate the Land Rover and trailer from the melee. It is a good job that the chief culprit (a man in a Ford C Max, with his wife as co-pilot) were having a row some distance off my trajectory as I came out, because by this time, I was beginning to think that a scratch or two on the old Defender might be a price worth paying to get them into a ditch. I suppose you'd have to call it "Tip Rage".

It was my half yearly back service at the Chiropractors and while I was waiting, I was joined by a teacher who used to teach the twins. He could hardly walk, poor man, having started to exercise and done his back in on the treadmill at the gym he has just joined. That will teach him to listen to his new wife. I do hope he is better soon, because I do have some idea of the discomfort he was in.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Fire or Tip?

At long last! The weather has been rather kinder today. It was still quite cold, but the sun shone and things dried out enough for me to get out in the garden of our new house. It is plain to see that the garden has been completely neglected for the best part of 2 years and everything has grown unhindered by any pruning or training. Hence, trees and shrubs are all growing into one another. I've had a god hack at the two big trees and removed all of the ground growth and many of the lower branches. I now have a huge stack of brushwood which needs to be disposed of. Either I need the goods trailer or an incinerator. My heart says fire is the way to go, but my head is not so sure.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Yesterday evening was the occasion of the AGM of the allotment association. It was something of a revelation. There are 38 full-size allotments and some are divided into half plots and a few are divided into quarters. As a result there are 59 members of the association (plot holders). Forty two (that's right, 42) turned out for the AGM. I was gobsmacked. Most of the clubs and societies I've had anything to do with have huge difficulty getting people to attend their AGMs, but a 70% turn-out for the AGM is something I have never encountered before. I am proud to be a member of such an august bunch.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

We do some things right.

Having watched a recording of Colin Firth thanking the fridge repair man for interrupting him sending an email, I loved this article in the Independent this morning. I've never really understood the attraction of the BAFTAs, especially to the Americans, but this goes a long way to explaining it. It sounds as though our academy treats people like grown-ups. I wish our government would do the same.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Now what?

One of our two desktop computers has stopped working. This is a serious pain in the bottom. I now don't know what to do....

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The clear-out begins

The long slow sort out of the garage has started. I have enough hardware to open my own branch of B&Q. Why do I buy so many packets of screws? Much of the stuff is useful, and a great big sort out is needed. It will have to wait until it has got to Spalding.

The open trailer is filling up with things that I no longer want, so a trip to the tip is looming. At present, I can only bear to spend an hour out there as my hands get so cold. It seems that there will have to be two or more trips with the Land Rover and Box trailer dedicated to getting the contents of the garage over the 100 miles to our new house. Ah well, it's better than working.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

It's all too much.

All the indications are that a General Election will take place in May. Already, I am fed up with the campaigning that is going on. Chief among my hates is the site of Peter Mandelson looking so smug as he spouts another collection of lies. The Tories do not seem to be able to construct and maintain a consistent policy on anything, so I think I shall be rooting for the Liberal Democrats.

Mind you, if I had friends like Gordon Brown whose ex colleague, Lance Price's article in the Independent today, I'd just call and election now and have done with it.

If the wretched politicians can just keep the campaigning down to an acceptable level until the weather gets better, then I can retire to the allotment and live there (without the "benefit" of a TV) during the campaign itself.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

I don't like the Cold.

Today we have explored Boston and Kings Lynn. I particularly liked Kings Lynn and we shall have to go back there when it is so cold. Boy, it was bitter today!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Terry fiasco.

The fuss over one John Terry and the captaincy of the England football team has me completely bemused. Fabio Capello has surely taken the only sensible decision. John Terry would certainly not play in any team I managed. What would the atmosphere in the England dressing room be like? How could he possibly command any respect from his team mates? The man appears to be a complete idiot, who cannot keep his tackle in his trousers. Idiot!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Snow stops play

When I came to this morning, there was a dusting of snow on the ground. As a result, the pressure washer did not get an outing and our cars remain dirty and caked in more salt spray than they were yesterday.

Perhaps tomorrow, after we've been to IKEA

Sunday, 31 January 2010

A New Toy.

There is a school of thought that men never really grow up, their toys simply get bigger and more expensive. Like most of these sayings, there is a a grain of truth in it.

For some time the ability of a pressure washers has impressed me. They get things clean, dislodge salt and road debris from vehicles. I have hankered after one for a while, but always thought they were expensive. Well in a recent email, Halfords offered one for £33, so I have taken the plunge and bought one. If the weather warms up a bit in the next day or so, the Land Rover and Thomas's car will benefit from a good clean. We will see how it goes.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Off to the Smoke

Tomorrow I am off to London. The weather seems to be set fair, so I shall take the beloved Brompton and enjoy the ride through Hyde Park.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Visitors - eventually

Our good friends, Chris and Bren, came to see the new house today. In the process of building a new road (to be numbered the A16) from Peterborough to Spalding, the authorities have mucked up all sat-navs and internet route planners. I had to rescue our visitors from Sainsburys car park (itself something of a war zone this morning) and lead the back to the house. Even then another road had been closed and we had a small diversion. I see why I go to the supermarket on my bike now.

The problem is that a new roundabout has been created on the A16 (to reconnect the new road with the current A16) about 200 yards NE of an existing one, the exit from the existing roundabout has been blocked off and the diversions are nothing like adequately signed.

I have mentally written a note to myself to contact everyone who is scheduled to come and visit and ensure that they know the way, or that their sat-nav is updated.

You have been warned.

Coming together?

A week has gone by. A week of decorating and jobs.

We have a date for the delivery of new carpet and new wardrobes. Things are looking good.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Painting and Evensong

The bedroom sure looks different. The couple who owned our house had everything painted cream. Apparently the lady had a problem with her vision, so everything was the same light cream colour. Our bedroom has been transformed by a coat of paint. It took a while to do and I, for one, am knackered.

This evening we went to enjoy a choral evensong. It is a lovely service, one has time to listen and think about the words that are being said or sung. It really is my favourite.

Monday, 11 January 2010

There must be a way......

With the weather being so miserable, I find myself with time to read the paper from cover to cover and read articles and opinion columns from other papers via the web. Three articles have caught my eye today. The Independent, the Times and the Guardian all have articles which spell out that our Prime Minister is a much disliked man.

The sources available to journalists such as these are a completely closed book to me, I simply have no idea how they get their stories. However, it is clear that three quality papers have a consensus. Gordon Brown is a basket case, and no-one wants to work with him. His colleagues believe he is incapable of changing and expect, even want to lose the General Election so that they can get rid of him.

How do we, the electorate, get to have a man with these personality flaws as our leader (or non leader – see this piece in the Guardian)? We are disenfranchised when it comes to our leaders. (Please someone explain: How do I stop that buffoon Ed Balls from getting the job?)

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for Prime Minister, I want someone who will treat me like an adult, not pretend that he or she can solve all our problems and who tells in no uncertain terms that we shall have to work together to make this country a better place. The trouble is, I can't see anyone who might fit the bill. Depressing really.

Snow (again) again

Needless to say, it did snow again and Alan and I have both had to recreate the paths across our drives to the pavement.

The phone has rung a good deal this morning and one caller was Kat who wanted to park on our drive while she went into Birmingham for an interview. I failed to recognise her voice and while I am happy that "Chris's friend" parked on our drive, the poor girl must have thought I was becoming senile as the phone conversation we had was somewhat bizarre. Senility is setting in.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snow (again)

The Midlands has been much less affected by snow than many other parts of the country. However, it is snowing gently this morning and having spent the last week or so looking at our snow covered drive, I felt that I had to make a token effort. Armed with a shovel retrieved from the shed, I cleared a path from the front door to the pavement. It was easier than I expected and satisfying. The reason I think I found it satisfying is that for not too much effort, one can see immediate and concrete results. Jobs like this always leave me with a warm feeling (and it's not just the different form of exercise).

The task was undertaken because our friend, Alan, across the road cleared a path yesterday morning and peer pressure is a wonderful motivator.

So if you want to feel good spend 30 minutes shovelling some of the white stuff. As for Alan and me, if it continues to snow, we shall both be out there doing it again tomorrow.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Some Brilliant Service

This article in the Independent caught my eye earlier in the week. It catches the essence of why the John Lewis Partnership are such a pleasant outfit with which to do business. They are just nice to their customers. Today I was the recipient of another example.

We have an old box trailer. Incorporated into the towing hitch is an hydraulic ram that activates the trailer's brakes and the ram itself is protected from dust, dirt and general grime by a rubber bellows which is secured by some clips. In the freezing cold the old bellows have given up the ghost and disintegrated. I rang the manufacturers of the trailer hitch - a company called Bradley - where a most helpful gentleman named Adrian was pleased to tell me exactly what I needed and explained that they preferred customers to buy spare parts from their dealers. Having explained that I lived in the Midlands he pointed me towards their local dealer and assured me that they would have what I needed in stock and would be happy to post it to me.

The local dealers are a company named L and S Engineers in Walsall (who regrettably do not seem to have a website). There a delightful chap called Wyn was pleased to take my order and explain that the process of replacing the bellows was within the compass of a DIY mechanic and that instructions came with the kit of parts. He then quizzed me for a minute to see what other bits of plant I possessed and what else he could sell me. He seemed only mildly disappointed that I owned nothing else that might require his company's services and it was done in such a cheerful straightforward manner that I could only smile. My payment details were taken and I was assured the parts would be in the post today.

Two examples of outstanding service which go to show that the concept is very much alive and well in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector of our economy. Brilliant.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

One Great Lady and a bunch of Control Freaks

Tonight, we are reliably informed, will be the coldest night of the winter so far. We are urged not to travel. Gas usage will be at its peak as we try and keep our homes warm. It dominates the news.

Two stories caught my eye (well, one my eye and one my ears). The good news was the story in the Independent about Sarah Hodgson who walked some 14 miles to work, setting out at 5 a.m. to make sure she was ready to work at 11 a.m. Surely this was an example to us all. She deserves great credit for her commitment.

The less good news is that which I heard on the BBC TV News Channel, which describes the Central Government as taking over the "coordination" for the most efficient use of the dwindling supplies of grit and salt. We are governed by a bunch of Control Freaks. Leave our local government alone. Let them stand or fall by their own efforts. Surely the people who will be involved in the "coordinating the most effective use of grit and salt" have day jobs? Let them do those.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Past or Future?

All the news media is dominated by the weather. Not the weather that actually prevails, more the fact that substantial falls of snow are forecast. Have I got this wrong, but surely the News is supposed to be what has happened in the world.

What we have currently is the Speculation which somehow is a lot less interesting.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year

Three of us have adjourned to Lincolnshire for the New Year. It has been very peaceful. We have no television here, so that is one pastime we cannot indulge in. The alternatives of books, the radio and an audiobook have given us good value.

The weather has been cold and miserable, which I guess is not a surprise at this time of year, and yesterday we went for a long walk. We decided to go while the sun was shining, but by the time we had been going 10 minutes, the sun had vanished and a cold wind had arisen. We were in need of a cuppa when we got home.

Quite a number of small jobs have been completed and we are about to embark on our first decorating project.

Since this is the first post of 2010, let me wish everyone who reads these rants, a very Happy New Year.