Jan 17 2017

“It’s dead, Jim”

Well, it was.

For a few weeks now, my PC has been randomly locking up, with just a blank screen showing.

It wouldn’t even switch off and the only way to get it to do so, was to get on my hands and knees and crawl under the desk and feel around the back for the power supply on/off switch. Once it had been power cycled, everything would be OK… until the next time, when I would then have to become a desk rabbit once more.

It was quite annoying and – on more than several occasions – I told myself that “I really must get round to looking at that before it fails completely”.

Last night, it failed completely.

No amount of turning it off and turning it back on again, would bring it back to life.

It would power up and then just sit there. No beeping. Nothing on the screen. Nuffin.

Procrastination had got the better of me. Again.

“Probably time to get round to looking at that”, I thought.

I suspected the memory at first, and swapped that out from the old PC up in the loft. But that didn’t work. After a bit more faffing about, it turned out to be the graphics card that was at fault.

The old one that I have put in, was actually quite a good card… in it’s day.

It’s day though, was sometime in 2007. I know this, because the receipt was still in the box.

And can you get Windows 10 drivers for a card that is ten years old?  Can you ‘eck, as like.

So, until I get round to getting a new card, I’m going to have to put up with the default settings.

Do you know just how horrible the internet looks at 800 x 600 resolution, 4:3 ratio?

It’s all big and horrible.

And everything else is horrible too.

Just typing this post has taken ages, as there is so much scrolling needing to be done and none of the buttons are in their usual places.

So, I’ll be searching Amazon’s website for a new graphics card at some point.

When I get around to it.

Jan 08 2017

Dry January

December was quite a hectic month, what with Christmas and New Year’s Eve an’ all.

I had three Xmas parties in all, plus a birthday bash, Christmas Day itself and the traditional New Years’ Eve riot at my dad’s house.

I probably hadn’t, but, I felt like I’d had more food and drink in one month, than I’d had all year.

So, whilst I’m not one for New Year resolutions, I decided that a Dry January was in order… coupled with a mild diet, as my trousers definitely feel that little bit tighter this year.

So, on January 1, I resolved to drink no alcohol for the rest of the month and also to cut down – even if just a little – on the amount of food that I tend to shovel down my gullet.

And I was doing really well.

For six days.

Having completely forgotten that we were away this weekend.

This past two days caused me to fall off the wagon quite spectacularly.  We have spent the weekend visiting friends in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire, and I (we) have eaten and drank with as much gusto and excess as I (we) did in December.

Purely to be sociable, of course.

At the moment though, I feel like a great big Christmas pudding.

And that doesn’t mean I fancy eating one, it means I feel like I AM one!

We have a holiday coming up later this year, and If I’m going to be able to squeeze into my regular pair of budgie smugglers, then I need to seriously cut back on the food and drink.

A Dry February it is, then.

Dec 31 2016


Once again, I’ve been overlooked in the New Year Honours list.

I’ll be honest: it upsets me a little.

I mean, even Posh Spice got one this year.

Yes! Posh Spice!

For services to… being a skinny, sour-faced, multi-millionaire.


Oh well, maybe next time.

Happy New Year to you both.

Dec 11 2016


Well, we are well into the Christmas season now.

Rather like King Canute’s failed attempts to hold back the waves, I have been trying to resist the oncoming tsunami that is Christmas. But it hasn’t worked, and now all I can do is come to terms with it… rather like a convicted man finds peace, shortly before he faces the hangman’s noose.

Commercial indications aside – hell, Sainsbury’s had mince pies for sale back in October! – the first sign for me, that showed Crimble was imminent, was when we received our first family Christmas card from cousin John. “Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas”, he’d written in it.

“No, John”, I screamed back at the card, “we are not having a wonderful Christmas, because it’s still only NOVEMBER!”

But now, a few weeks on, and with the 25th of the month marching inexorably nearer, we are starting to ‘get in to it’.

All (most) of the presents have been bought (I’m still working on what to get Mrs Masher. Christmas is a traditional time of year, and traditionally I leave it till Christmas Eve to get her something. And then I panic and spend way too much).

The man from Iceland (not the country) knocked on the door yesterday morning, and unloaded enough food into our hallway to feed a small third-world country for a month.

And yesterday – after much badgering – I reluctantly went up into the loft and brought down the tree, and all the lights and tinsel and shit. It’s downstairs now, sitting in the corner of the living room, looking all gaudy and blinking annoyingly and making it difficult to see the telly.

We had our first Christmas do last weekend; Mrs M has had her works’ do this past week and I have two works’ functions to get through, this week.

I went to Sainsbury’s yesterday and got in the beers, wines and spirits. There’s now enough beer, cider, whisky, vodka, rum, and Tia Maria in the house, to sozzle half of the sailors on the Ark Royal.

Christmas eh? Well, we only do it for the kids.

Nov 29 2016

There’s a BAFTA on it’s way, I’m sure of it

Last Friday, I was ‘working’ in that London and so I decided to “let the train take the strain”… that’s an old British Rail advert, as I remember.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I travelled into that London by train, for work purposes, and I’d forgotten just how busy it gets, but luckily, getting on so far up the line always assures me of a seat.

And so, as we chuffety-chuffed our way to the Big Smoke, I sat and watched my fellow passengers – always a favourite pastime.

Unfortunately, I never saw The Girl From Harpenden, but the rather attractive red-head in the leather trousers who sat opposite me, made up for that.

Most of those seated or stood around me, had their heads buried in their phones: either playing games or reading or texting or watching videos or listening to music via the ubiquitous white earphones that hung from their lugholes. Indeed, the young chap in the blue suit, seated across the aisle from me, was having a whale of a time as his fingers flicked across the 4.8” screen of his smartphone. Whatever he was playing, was pleasing him greatly, judging by the enormous rictus-like grin plastered across his face for most of the journey.

But it wasn’t long before I reached my destination and so had to curtail my people-watching activities.

So, what was I doing in that London? Well, it was a bit of a team-build event.

And we were building the team with Plasticine!

Some animators from Aardman – the people wot brought us Wallace & Gromit – had set up their own company to do these sort of events and, with their help, each team made a small animated film (Water Board based, obviously).

The end-product is in post-production and I doubt I’d be able to show it here, but here are a couple of photos I took with my phone.


dsc_00455dsc_0041dsc_0043I always knew that patience was required for stop-motion animation, but I never realised just how much. It takes about ten minutes and a VERY steady hand just to make your character blink! (our team decided that, as effective as it looked, our characters probably only needed to blink once throughout the entire sixty-second film).

It was a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’ll give up my day job just yet.

Nov 20 2016

All shopped out

oxford-st“I’m stressed and I need some retail therapy”, wailed Mrs M, yesterday morning.

I had to admit: she’d been working a ridiculous amount of hours recently and it sounded like she’d been having a torrid time of it at work.

As much as I hate going shopping with her, she deserved a little treat, and if shopping was what she wanted, then I felt I could put up with it for a couple of hours.

“OK”, I said, “what if we pop into town later and then we can grab a bite to eat afterward?”

“I don’t want to go into “town”’ she cried, indignantly. “I want to go to Oxford Street!”

I explained, in a quiet and measured voice, how that probably wasn’t a good idea, what with the higher prices and the difficulty in parking and the overcrowded streets. And everything.

I explained that it would end up being a very long and tiring day and that it would be so much easier just to nip into town.

I explained that Harry and I could probably just about cope with a couple of hours in town, but that a full-on shopping trip with females would probably see us off.

And so it was, that a couple of hours later, we found ourselves in that London, squeezing into a parking space just off the Bayswater Road.


Mrs M and Amelia set off at a goodly pace, darting into every shop containing female apparel, whilst Harry and I followed dutifully behind, taking the opportunity to sit down at the entrance to the store, whenever the chance arose.

We walked from one end of Oxford Street to the other.

And then we walked back down the other side.

And then we walked back up again… to check out some shops that we had missed or that hadn’t yet opened when we passed them the first time round.

“Oh look”, she said, “they’ve got a Jessops. Do you want to go in and have a look?”

“No. I’ll just want to spend money. And I really don’t need anything anyway. I’ve got all the camera gear I need.”

“Well, it won’t hurt to take a look then, will it?” she said, walking through the door.

With a heavy sigh, I followed her in.

Twenty minutes later, I came out again.

With a new camera.


We walked some more and headed down Regent Street, where the kids forcibly dragged us into Hamley’s.

An hour and several shopping bags later, we managed to escape and continued our way down to Piccadilly Circus and onto Leicester Square, where the M&M store enticed the kids in, wide-eyed and trance-like, as if the Pied Piper himself were leading them in. Within about ten seconds, we’d lost them as they scattered every-which-way, excited by all the red and yellow chocolate wares that were on show. I don’t know if either of you have ever been to the M&M store, but it is a massive two (actually three, as it has a mezzanine) floor shop that is entirely devoted to the American M&M, candy-covered-chocolate-which-are-not-as-good-as-British-Smarties sweet.


Anyway, once we had extricated ourselves from there, we piled into Chiquitos – one of our favourite restaurants to visit. God, we just love Mexican food!

After that, it was a brisk two mile walk back to the car – despite my insistence that we should take the tube. Mrs M’s postie legs are obviously used to such exercise and she and Amelia set off at a quick pace, whilst Harry and I followed behind, trying to keep up and not lose sight of them in the crowds as they pulled further away from us. Curse my short legs!

The drive home was scary, as Mrs M put her foot down.  Everything I complain about in other drivers – going too fast; driving too close; cutting in and out of lanes – is encapsulated in Mrs Masher’s driving style. I find it best just to close my eyes and keep my fingers crossed.

Last night, I slept like a dog.

A dog that had been walked to exhaustion and was full of burritos.

Nov 05 2016

Tish Tash

tashThis month is Movember.

Yes, I spelt that correctly: Movember.

So called, because it calls upon all men to grow a moustache.

For charity.

Now, I’ve done many things for charity, over the years. I’ve walked and I’ve cycled and I’ve abseiled and I’ve jumped out of aeroplanes.

I’ve even sat in a bath of baked beans for a day.

But I will not grow a moustache. Not even for charity.

Because I can’t.

I’m just not man enough, y’see.  If I have a shave on a Monday morning, I’ll start getting a five o’clock shadow sometime around Wednesday tea-time.

Which is fine with me, because I’m not the hirsute type.

So, I won’t be growing a moustache for charity.

Instead, I shall be sponsoring the current Mrs M… hers is much better than mine.

Oct 29 2016

No fun

fonejackThe phone rang earlier and it it wasn’t a number I recognised.

I answered it anyway and was greeted with a few seconds of silence before an Indian voice cut in and introduced himself as Alex from Microsoft.

“Excellent, a scammer”, I thought, “Haven’t had one of these for ages.” and I readied myself for some fun.

“Firstly, can I check that you are the owner of the computer at your house”, Alex said, going straight into his spiel.

I assured him I was.

“That is good”, he said, “Unfortunately, we are getting many alarms spreading on to the internet from your PC”.

I tried to sound shocked. “On the Internet, you say? From MY computer? Oh dear.”

At that point ‘Alex’ suddenly started giggling, but he tried to continue. “Yes… [snigger] we have traced the alarms… [chortle] to your computer [titter} and…”

I cut in: “You’re not very good at this, are you Alex?”

“No, I’m not”, he guffawed, as he put the phone down.

I was genuinely disappointed.

Please Alex, get some training from your scamming mates and ring me back soon.

Oct 28 2016

Drilling for gold

idtheftI went to the dentist today.

The receptionist smiled at me as I approached the desk. “Can I help you?”

“Yes. The name’s Masher. I have an appointment at 8:30 with Miss Patel”.

She looked at her screen quizzically for a moment and then: “Ahh yes, here you are. Could you confirm your date of birth for me, please?”


“It’s just an extra security question”, she said.

I gave her my date of birth, but then, as I sat down, I got to wondering.


Why do they need extra proof that I am who I say I am?

I’ve already given her my name, the time of the appointment and the name of the dentist I am seeing. Surely, that should be enough.

I know that identity theft is rife nowadays, but would someone who has stolen my ID and is impersonating me for financial gain (yeah, good luck with that one), really go so far as to attend my dental appointments too?

I don’t think so.

Oct 25 2016

Our M6 correspondent…

masher_van… sent me this, today.

Now, I’ve mentioned before (I think), that personalised plates are an affectation of those with money than sense.

However, I’d willingly fork out twenty quid to bolt this particular one to my car.


Oct 17 2016

It’s been so long…

numbers… since I wrote here last, that I actually struggled to remember my log in password!


So, what has been happening?

Not much really, hence the dearth of posts.

I’ve been to a couple of family functions in ye olde Ruislip: a funeral and a 50th wedding anniversary (I was a page boy at that particular wedding 50 years ago – I looked bloody gorgeous).

I visited Newark Showground at the beginning of the month, where I spent a happy few hours in the company of a couple of thousand nerds, at the UK Hamfest – the country’s largest Amateur Radio rally.  I showed great restraint in only spending a couple of hundred pounds. Mrs M would be so proud of me… if she knew.

And I’ve spent a fair amount of time pondering Graham’s Number: a number that is so indescribably huge, that if you wrote a digit on a grain of rice and then filled up all the empty space in the universe with digitized grains of rice, there still wouldn’t be enough room for Graham’s Number.

And yet… we know it ends in a 7.


Anyway, other than that, I have just been working and sitting in traffic – which I’m fed up with moaning about. So I won’t.

But hasn’t the M4 been a bag of bollocks lately?

At least the inevitable drawing in of the dark winter nights has been brightened up with the welcome return of Strictly to our telly screens. Although, this weekend, the great British public showed that once again that they can’t be trusted with a democratic vote.

First we had the debacle that is Brexit, then on Sunday night, Naga was voted out of the ballroom, when EVERYBODY knows that it should have been Ed Balls and his God-awful rendition of a Paso Doble.

“With great power, comes great responsibility”, a wise man once said (I think it was Spiderman’s Uncle Ben).

Perhaps those words should be flashed up on the screen as a reminder, before every voting opportunity.

Sep 24 2016

Driven to distraction

traffic-jamI spent six and a half hours on the road yesterday.

Six and a half hours!

I only went to Dartford and back.

Six and a half hours to do 120 miles.

It would literally have been quicker for me to have gone on my pushbike.

Of course, this was all down to stupid people.

Stupid people who have accidents on the road.

They drive too fast.

They talk on the phone.

And they fucking text whilst they drive.

I’ve seen it: people driving with their phone on the steering wheel in front of them, so that they can answer the oh-so-important text that they have just received: “Gr8 time last nite babe. LOLZ”.

This sort of thing goes on all the time and despite threats of larger fines and penalties, it continues, because 9 times out of 10 people get away with it.

But it causes accidents, and whilst for most of us that can mean the considerable inconvenience of being stuck in traffic for hours upon end, for those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of an idiot driver’s actions, it can mean a hell of a lot more.

I found this video on the YouTubes and it shows quite graphically what can happen when stupid people are let behind the wheel.

Unfortunately – as is evident from the comments below the video – stupid people seem to outnumber the rest of us.

Sep 13 2016

More of Auntie’s hyperbole

hyperboleThe Internet?



C’mon BBC, you’re better than this.

At least, you used to be.

Sep 03 2016

We are all idiots… apparently

boots instructionsI got a new pair of safety boots t’other day.

Interestingly, they came with instructions.


For boots.

OK, yes, there was stuff in the 26 language booklet about how to clean them and what their electrical resistance is and shit like that, but there was also this:

Before use, try on the footwear and make sure that it fits properly.

Now, I’d never have thought of that if I’d not looked at the instructions.

But there was also:

The footwear’s fastening systems must be used in the correct way.

Fastening system? You mean the laces?

Do the laces up.

Now that would never have occurred to me.

Aug 20 2016


Mrs Masher has gone.

And she’s taken the kids with her.

There was nothing I could have said or done that would have prevented her leaving.

So I didn’t.

It’s now five in the morning, and an hour ago, I watched them disappear into the night, in the back of a taxi.

So, now I’m all on my own.


But I’ll be fine.

Sainsbury’s do a fine range of microwave meals.

And, of course, when they all come back from their holiday in the south of France, in a fortnight’s time, I’ll be as pleased as punch to see them.

Till then though, I’m single again.

I have two weeks in which to let my hair down and be a batchelor boy once more.

Come and go as I please.

Do what I want, when I want.

Wherever the fancy takes me.

Think I’ll start with some tea and toast.

Then maybe I’ll do a bit of hoovering.

Aug 09 2016

Taste Test Tuesday

TTTwaterWorking for the water board, as I now do, and having seen what goes into providing clean, safe drinking water to the populace, I find myself advocating tap water over mineral water, more and more.

In truth, I used to do this anyway, long before I was actually involved with the wet stuff. I’m an educated man, y’see; I read books and I watch the Discovery Channel, so I was already aware that tap water goes through so much cleaning and filtering that by the time it reaches the consumer, it is as clean and safe to drink as any of the “Bottled at source” waters that can be bought off the shelves of one’s local supermarket.

Now, the current Mrs M is prone to buying bottled water and I always moan at her about it and again extol the virtues of Affinity Water’s finest.  And her argument is always the same: “I don’t care how clean and safe it is, it just doesn’t taste as nice as bottled water”.

I wondered whether she was right. A blind taste test would tell us and so, I purchased some bottled water: Evian – probably the best known of all the brands – and Sainsbury’s Scottish Still Water and I stuck them in the fridge along with an Oasis bottle that I had rinsed out and filled with water from the tap, so that they would all be at the same temperature.

This evening, I decanted the water into three identical glasses – A, B and C – and presented them to Mrs M for tasting.

She took her time, sipping from each glass several times to be sure, before announcing that she preferred the taste of Glass C.

I could barely contain my victory dance: Glass C was indeed filled with water from the tap.

Of course, as everyone knows, Evian is backwards for naive.

I’ll say no more.

Aug 06 2016

Honest John’s Motors

ArthurDaleyThe current Mrs M has bought herself a nice new car.

This meant that she needed to sell the old one, of course.

Not being one to want to faff about with a constant stream of visitors wanting to take test drives, and looking for a quick sale, she thought she’d give WeBuyAnyCar dot com a try.

So, having done some research on prices of similar cars of similar ages and condition, she entered all the details into the WeBuyAnyCar website and was pleasantly surprised when it offered her a price pretty much around what she wanted and expected – £1850. Of course, this was all subject to a proper evaluation, so she booked an appointment with our local WeBuyAnyCar office – a portacabin in the corner of Currys’ car park.

On the day, I took the car up for it’s appointment, as Mrs M was delayed at work. I presented the chap with all the paperwork and details of it’s full service history by a local Vauxhall dealer. And both keys. Then, armed with his clipboard, he took a walk around the car, checking things over, before we went back to his ‘office’, where he offered me eight hundred and fifty quid.

A thousand pounds less than what the online quote had offered!

And on top of that, there was a £49.00 admin charge!

When I queried this new offer, he explained that the car wasn’t in as good a condition, as had been entered on the online form. Really? Trust me, there was nothing wrong with the condition of this car. Yes, it had a few very small scratches and marks, but nothing more than what you would expect from an eight-year old vehicle. In fact, for its age, it was in a bloody good condition.

He also pointed out that the mileage was higher than had been stated: Mrs M had put 56,000 down. It now read (two days later) 56,020.

I politely told him that I wasn’t interested and walked out.

Dejected, Mrs M said “Fuck it, I’m gonna stick it on ebay”.

Within an hour, it had forty people watching it and then, four hours later, it was sold. The following day a chap came round to collect it and, having given it a once over, he paid the full asking price of 1850 quid without a quibble… in used twenty pound notes.

OK, I know WeBuyAnyCar is a business and needs to make money but, by offering less than half of the car’s true value?

Seems a little unethical to me.

Jul 31 2016

Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster*

beebnewsThis sort of thing really annoys me!


They are not ‘engineers’.

They are blokes digging up the road and laying plastic ducts to carry cables.

And they are not even employed directly by Virgin Media.

They are contractors.

Another example of media hyperbole being used for attention grabbing headlines.

If it’s a slow news day and you are going to publish inane stories for filler, please at least get your facts right, BBC.

* No, he didn’t. It was a complete fabrication by the media.

Jul 20 2016

Innit hot?

pigeonRight, that’s enough talk about the weather.

Regular readers will be aware of me using my blog to rant and rave and moan about the pigeons shitting on my car, on numerous occasions.

Both of you may even remember me saying that if I had half a chance, I’d kill the little blighters.


On Saturday, I took my car up to the local car wash so that they could use their high-powered jet wash on all the bird crap that was covering my car. The sods crap on it daily as they fly into the tree, and after just a couple of days, there is a right mess.

And in this warm weather, it dries out and goes hard and is bloody difficult to get off with a sponge and warm water.

So, I got it cleaned and parked it on the drive, all shiny and gleaming.

A perfect target.

Two hours later, I went out to get something out of the boot and there was this enormous green and white bird poo – still wet – sliding down the side of the car.

I was bloody annoyed. Incensed. Bubbling with anger. “Grrr”, I said.

I got some wet paper towels and cleaned it off, all the time muttering to myself about the bloody pigeons and how I was gonna kill one and nail it to the tree as a warning to other pigeons.

As I walked through the gate, into the back garden, there was a pigeon, just standing on the path, outside the back door, just a few feet away from me.

I swung a kick at it, not really expecting to connect. And I didn’t. But rather than it flying off, as I’d expected, it sort of hopped and flapped it’s way down the garden path, obviously injured somehow. I gave chase and soon had it cornered between the garage and the shed.

This was my chance!

But I couldn’t do it.

If it had been in the tree and I’d had an air rifle or an AK47 or something, I am 100% sure that I’d have had no qualms about ending it.

But, kicking it to death with my slippered feet, as it just lay there looking terrified? I couldn’t do it.

So, instead, I gave it a damn good talking to.

It continued to just lay there, its chest rapidly rising and falling in terror; unable to escape, as I gave it a verbal dressing down.

“.. and if you and your mates carry on shitting on my car, I won’t be so fucking lenient next time!”

That was four days ago.

Unbelievably, my car is still clean.

Jul 16 2016

Fishing for info


phishThis piece of phishing spam managed to sneak past my filters today.

So well written is it, that it very nearly fooled me.

Purporting to come from Amazon, it was after my bank details.

Obligingly, I clicked on the link (removed here for your safety :)) and populated all the fields with false information, just so that they might get a little excited, thinking they’d hooked someone.

We had blocked the unusual tries of connection on your account .

As part of our security your account was provisionally lock for reasons of security. 
Please click on link below to prove your account .
Verify Your account
Warning : if you did not have prove your account, we would otherwise be obliged to go about things has the fence of your account to avoid it please follow given instructions.
The team of security
As you can see, really well written.
These spammers are getting more sophisticated, so let’s be careful, people.

Jul 12 2016

The smell of the greasepaint

Hathi_JrYesterday evening, we went to see Harry’s end of term school play: a slightly revamped version of The Jungle Book.

Eleven year-old kids are bloody rubbish at acting, aren’t they?

Yesterday proved that much, as child after child read out his/her lines in a stilted monotonous voice, with no pausing or intonation or characterisation.

All except for Harry. He was excellent.

Of course.

Easily, the best of all the elephants.

I reckon.

But by far, the best one there was the kid playing Kaa the hypnotic snake. Enveloped in a purple sleeping bag with attached spots, he slithered his way across the floor and had us in stitches as he swerved and swayed around, putting all the sibilance he could muster into his voice.

But, I’m glad we didn’t have plays when I was at school. Up on the stage, in front of people, is not for me.

Another thing I’m glad we didn’t have, is the school prom. Like Trick Or Treat, a relatively recent American import that costs parents a small fortune.  Mrs M has bought Harry a suit for the occasion and he looks very smart in it, but he’ll probably only get to wear it once, before he outgrows it.

And he’s told me he won’t be dancing with any girls. Because – as every body knows – girls smell.

I’m wondering how long it will be before he realises that they can sometimes smell quite nice.

Jul 07 2016

Having a shit

toiletDropping the kids off at the pool; negotiating the release of some chocolate hostages; bombing Porcelain Harbour; curling one out; taking a dump.

It’s a natural bodily function. We all do it (apart from Her Majesty The Queen, of course). It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

But we do it in private. Because that’s the polite thing to do.

Cleaning up after oneself is also the polite thing to do.

I’ve mentioned it before.

But, it amazes me sometimes, the mess some people leave behind (when I say ‘people’, I mean ‘men’, as I rarely venture into the ladies loos nowadays).

Many is the time I have stood over the toilet at work, trying to piss away someone else’s skid mark.

Even though, there is a bog brush at the side, some people just can’t be bothered.

Today, I walked in to the loo and judging from the smell, it had only just been vacated.

Wow! What a stink.

It made my eyes sting!

I lifted the lid with trepidation and was met with a heavily soiled pan, despite it having been flushed.

I cleaned it as best I could, but I just hadn’t had enough to drink.

But what distressed me even further, is that when I went to wash my hands, it was quite evident that the previous occupant hadn’t: the sink was bone dry.

How can someone make a mess like that and not even wash their hands afterwards?

I know I’m forever having to drum the importance of hygiene into my kids, but have I got to do it with adults as well now?

Jul 05 2016

Out of touch

mobile phoneI left my phone(s) at home yesterday when I went to work.

This is something I’ve done a little too frequently, but luckily, I normally notice when I’m just a few minutes down the road.

But not yesterday.

Yesterday, I realised I was phoneless when I was about halfway through my two-hour journey to work.

I wasn’t going to turn round and go back!

“I’ll just have to be uncontactable, for the day”, I thought.  I actually thought it might be quite liberating.

It wasn’t.

I found it quite traumatic, actually.

Being uncontactable by work colleagues was a worry to me. What would they think? That I was skiving off somewhere?

But not being able to be called by any friends or family was even worse – even though it’s fairly rare that any of them do call me during working hours.

It was just that thought of being incommunicado for a whole day that worried me.

What if one of the kids has an accident and the school can’t call me?

What if my dad falls off a stepladder and no-one is able to let me know?

What if there is a major incident at work and I can’t be contacted to escalate it?

What if…

Of course none of that happened, but it did leave me wondering how I coped, back before mobile phones were invented.

Jul 03 2016

Two-wheel triumph

policebikeToday, I have been out riding with a police motorcyclist.

The feds do a Ride Safe scheme, y’see, where you go out for a ride and a police motorcyclist – on his police bike and wearing all his police garb – follows you closely and then afterward he critiques your riding performance.

And it’s all for free!

Now, I consider myself to be a competent rider – hell, I’ve been riding for thirty-seven years! – but also a careful one.

But, in thirty-seven years, it’s easy to pick up some bad habits, so I thought being assessed by a professional would be worth a go, just to see how my level had dropped.

Especially as it’s free.

The idea, of course, is to ride how one would normally ride. There is no point in riding like you are taking your test.

And so, I tried to forget he was there – not easy when you have a hi-viz clad policeman looming in your mirrors all the time – and just took a normal Sunday ride. Maybe, just maybe, I paid a tad more attention to the speed limits!

Back at the station, Gareth gave me my assessment. I have to admit to being quite chuffed.

“Have you had any further rider training since you passed your test back in… when was it…1979?”

I shook my head and he seemed genuinely surprised.

He went on to explain that I was riding pretty much perfectly, for my level (ie, not advanced) and that if he had to pick me up on anything (he had to, of course) then it would be that I didn’t make enough use of the available road when positioning the bike.

Other than that, I was the dog’s bollocks.

Based on that, I’m kind of tempted to train for the advanced test.

If nothing else, it’ll get me out on the bike a bit more.

Jul 01 2016

Those that can’t…

boy_scouts_-_troop_leaderToday is my wedding anniversary.

By curious, lucky coincidence, it is also that of the current Mrs Masher.

As such, we would normally celebrate it jointly, such as we did last year.

But tonight, I’m home alone, whilst the kids are at Scouts and Mrs M is out, knocking back lattes with her bestie.

Last week, I too was at Scouts.

I was teaching them Semaphore.

And Morse Code.

And the Phonetic Alphabet.

And they seemed to really enjoy it.

It was the first time I’d ever done anything like that – standing in front of a class – but I really quite enjoyed it too.

I can see now why people go into teaching.

Imparting knowledge on to others is really quite rewarding.

I’ve been asked if I might be interested in going back and teach them some basic electronics.

You know what… I just might.

Jun 30 2016

30. A Song I’ve Heard From Someone Else That I Like

racketAbout ten years ago, maybe more, I heard this noise.

A right racket, it was.

It was coming from a car that was just pulling into the car park at work.

The car parked up and turned the engine off, but the occupant stayed inside, listening to the music. From outside the vehicle, all I could really hear was the boomy bass sounds.

I wandered over and opened the car door. “Hi Ralph”, I said, “What the fuck are you listening to? Sounds awful!”

“Limp Bizkit”, he replied. “Would you like to borrow it?”

I listened for a bit longer to what was playing before replying.

“Yes”, I said, “I think I would”.

Jun 29 2016

29. My All Time Favourite Song

moonAsk me that on my death bed, because I might have an answer then.

Because things can change.

It’s difficult to have a single all-time favourite.

I have favourite pop songs; favourite rock songs; favourite classical tunes. But, it’s really hard to pick a single favourite from each category, never mind overall.

But, if I had to choose… if you were to put a bun to my head and force me to pick one, then I would probably go with Fly Me To The Moon, a song that I have long heralded as a personal favourite.  Of course, Frank Sinatra had a big hit with it, but I’ve always preferred Julie London’s version.

In 2002, it became even more special to me. The current Mrs Masher and I were on a cruise ship out Singapore way, for my birthday. Each night, after dinner, we would finish up in our favourite bar, where long-legged Asian girls with improbably small bottoms and impossibly short skirts, would serve us free cocktails, whilst a pianist played gentle tunes in the corner.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

One evening, after downing several Black Russians, I wandered over and asked him to play Fly Me To The Moon. and he did.

And he played it the next night.

And the next.

In fact, wherever there was a piano, Ronald – for that was his name – would play it whenever he saw me. In the bar; in the casino; in the main dining hall. Even as we were disembarking at the end of the cruise, I heard it playing and turned to see Ronald smiling at me as he played it on the grand piano at the bottom of the stairs.

It was ‘our tune’. Mine and Ronald’s.

Jun 28 2016

28. A Favourite Song From The Last Decade

JackoI got nothing. Again.


I can’t remember how long it took, but a while later, Jacko was back on his feet and the concert was re-scheduled. Of course, they honoured our original tickets.

Mrs M and I duly went along, this time with other members of her family, as the original lot weren’t able to make it this time round.

Following on from what had happened to Mrs M previously, we chose to sit down in the seating area, rather than in the crush in front of the stage.

And I was very happy with our seats. Having got there reasonably early, we managed to get a spot quite near to the stage and just off to the right, affording us a very good view.

I don’t remember a support act playing this time round, but what I do remember, is that when MJ came onto the stage and started his first number, everyone went wild: standing up from their seats and shouting and screaming and waving their arms.

I stayed seated, waiting for everyone to sit down again.

But they didn’t.

Everyone remained on their feet.

For the whole set.

What is the bloody point of having seats if you are not going to sit in them?

I wasn’t happy anymore.

And, classical music aside, I’ve never been to another concert since.

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