Sleeping dogs don’t lie

It’s three o’clock in the morning and I can’t sleep.

I’ll tell you for why.

Last night (Sat/Sun), for the first time, I didn’t put the dog in her cage when we went to bed. She always lays at the top of the stairs, of an evening, and manages to put on the sad doggy look when she is called down to go in her cage at bedtime. “Please let me lay here, I’ll be good”, she says with her eyes. And so, last night, I let her lay there.

Laying at the top of the stairs though, she can hear a lot more of the outside world, as we have the upstairs windows open at night. Several times, she woke me with her growling and low barking, as she could hear people outside – not uncommon on a Saturday night.

“Saber, shhh”

“Saber, be quiet!”

“Saber, knock it off!”

Was the general theme of the night.

And then, early Sunday morning, there was a knock on the door from a neighbour to tell me that my garage had been broken in to.

Bastards.

They never actually got in to the garage, as they were disturbed by a passing car and scarpered – another neighbour witnessed it – but they have damaged the door enough by kicking it in, that I will need to buy a new one.

I have made temporary repairs and have put up a new security light (so that they won’t have to work in the dark if they ever come back) but for the past two hours, I have been laying in bed, listening to every.

little.

sound.

Really, I’d be better off, just listening to the dog.

Car Insurance

My car insurance renewal came through the letterbox today.

I was taken aback somewhat to see that it had gone up… by 54%

FIFTY-FOUR PERCENT!

That’s just mad. It sent me a little giddy, to be honest.

Once I’d regained my composure, I read further down the letter.

“Relax”, it said. “You don’t need to do a thing, as we will automatically take the money from your account on 31st August.”

“NO YOU FUCKING WON’T!!”, I shouted.

And: “Relax”? Who writes these things? You can’t write to a customer telling him that his premium has gone up by 300 quid, but that it’s all OK and he doesn’t need to worry, because you are gonna take it straight out of his account without him having to do a thing.

“Sit down and have a cup of tea and a biscuit whilst we rob your bank account to the tune of 300 sovs.”

Fuck off.

I rang them up.

The guy at the end of the phone was most apologetic, but there was nothing they could do. It was the car that was pushing the premium up, not the bike (I have a six-wheel policy). “Why has it gone up so much?”, I asked. “I drive a Ford Focus, not a Porche 911 Turbo!”. He didn’t have an answer for me, so I told him to cancel my renewal and that I would go elsewhere.

It took me just ten minutes to check online (because I am soooo Money Supermarket, apparently) and I found I could get it from a different bunch of thieving bastards, for just half that price.

I daresay I’ll probably have to do it all again next year when it goes up again, but I don’t mind too much… not if it saves me that amount of money, and let’s face it, it’s easy enough nowadays.

Those of us of a certain age (yes, you two), will remember having to sit down with the Yellow Pages each year, ringing round the different brokers for hours on end, trying to get the best price. Nowadays, we can compare the market in minutes and then it’s us who do the walking, not our fingers.

Get out of my ear!

I’ve got an ear-worm.

I hate that term. It sounds like some sort of gross infection.

I prefer to call it “I’ve got a song stuck in my head”.

Which I have.

I don’t know where it came from, but Ultravox’s hit, Vienna, somehow made its way into my consciousness some weeks back.

I managed to lose it, last week, but then I received a report by email at work, that had not yet been explained to me.

I replied to the sender: “Lovely report, but I’m afraid this means nothing to me”.

BANG! Midge Ure’s dulcet tones were straight back into my bonce. Aarrgh!

But then, it slowly faded over the next couple of days and disappeared again. For a few hours.

I then received an email from my mate Gavin (that’s him, up on my extensive blogroll), saying that he was no longer in Bangkok as he had relocated to… Vienna.

BANG! Aarrgh!

And it is still there now. It’s been nearly three weeks, I think.

And it’s not even the whole song, just the same bit repeating over and over: “… it means nothing to me / it means nothing to me / Ohhh, Viennaaaa / dummm, dum duddah / dummm dum duddah…” And repeat.

It’s there, all the time, just slightly louder than my tinnitus.

And it’s slowly driving me bonkers.

Alliterative Arses


Spending the amount of time that I do, driving on the M1 and around the M25, I tend see some terrible driving.

I may have mentioned this before.

Once.

On many occasions, the offenders tend to be young lads in VW Golfs, who think they own the road, but of course, I should mention that other vehicle owners are available.

For my own amusement, I have taken to calling these drivers alliterative names, as I see them transgressing the rules of the road and, indeed, general motoring etiquette.

“Git in a Golf”, is ubiquitously used, of course. “Fuckwit in a Focus” is also quite popular.

“Bastard in a Beemer” and “Arsehole in an Astra” crop up regularly, along with the occasional “Prick in a Prius”.

I was also quite pleased recently when I spotted a “Twat in a Twingo”.

Lorry drivers get away with “Lughead in a Lorry”, as that’s the best I could think of.

But, yesterday morning, I was astonished when several cars in front and around me had to brake suddenly to avoid an accident, as a small black Corsa cut across all four lanes at high speed, in an attempt to not miss the exit.

I struggled to come up with a suitably insulting name.

Hazard

Did you know that it’s actually safe and legal to drive at high speed on the hard shoulder, if it is empty and the three lanes of the motorway are at a standstill, so long as you put your hazard lights on.

No, I didn’t know that either.

But I know it must be true, because I have seen so many people doing it recently.

And if you are a motorcyclist, it is OK to drive between the lanes of motorway traffic, at stupidly high speeds, as long as you have your hazard lights on.

Because they will protect you from someone pulling out in front of you.

And if you are driving along a busy road and you want to pull over to the kerb, then the best thing you can do is put your hazard lights on and then pull over, because the car behind will have instinctively figured out where you are going.

Best motoring invention ever.

Hang that bloody DJ

Why do disc jockeys (are they still called that?) play their music so loud?

I’m not talking about the ones on the wireless, I’m moaning about the guys who do the music at a family party.

Every party I’ve ever been to, the DJ has played the music far too loud.

Now, I can (and often am) called a miserable old git for moaning about such things. But that’s not the case. I actually like loud music at a party.

But not TOO loud.

Not so loud that it is literally deafening.

I went to a family party some months back and it was a really good do; lots of people; lots of drink; plenty of food.

But the music was painful.

Not painful in the way that all us old fogeys didn’t recognise half of what was being played – and to be fair, he did play some ‘proper’ stuff too – , but actually painful on my ears.

Because it was TOO loud.

The louder the better, is the creed that most of these disc spinners live by.  But in this case, the music was so loud that it was distorting. The amplifiers could nay take it, Captin.

The music was distorted and my hears were hurting from the sheer amount of decibels trying to force their way past my eardrums.

This wasn’t helped by Mrs Masher also screaming into my ear every time she wanted to tell me something.

DJs need to understand that the music needs to be loud enough to fill the dancefloor, not the entire room.
Because I looked around that night and whilst there were plenty of us boogying away on the polished wooden dancefloor, there were also plenty of people at the far end of the room, shouting at each other to try and be heard.

When I got home that night, my ears were ringing, as oft happens when I get home from a party.

They were still ringing the next day.

And the next.

And now, four months later, they are still ringing. Not quite as bad as the day after, but ringing nonetheless.

It seems that as a result of that overly loud music, I have developed tinnitus.

Much of the time, I can ignore it. But there are other times, like right now as I write this, or when I’m sitting in the car in silence, or I’m trying to get to sleep but I’m not tired… these are times when I’m acutely aware of the constant whine in my ears and, trust me, it can drive you to distraction.

Ironically, it seems there is no proper cure for tinnitus… other than to drown it out with loud music.

Motorway madness

Some years ago, they (whoever they are) did some extensive work, adding an extra lane to a large stretch of the M1.

From junction 10 all the way down to the M25 turn off at junction 7.

Two years it took, but it was worth it, because it made a big difference to the traffic flow once it was finally completed.

Annoyingly, they didn’t extend ithe extra lane further up the M1, choosing instead to go for the cheaper option of opening the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times.

And that works too, making a big improvement to the traffic flow at peak times.

Until there is a problem.

To get to the M1, I have to drive a short stretch of the A505… about half a mile of it. It generally takes me about 60 seconds.

But not yesterday. Yesterday morning, it took me twenty minutes. Because the hard shoulder hadn’t been opened to traffic, and all the vehicles were backing up down the slip road and up the A505.

When I finally got on the motorway and managed to squeeze myself in to the traffic, we crawled along for three miles up to the next junction. There were no vehicles stranded on the hard shoulder. There were no accidents. There was nothing; just an annoyingly empty lane.

I think the man whose job it is to press the button that tells the motorists that the lane is open, just forgot.

Because this has happened several times before.

Including yesterday morning.

And again this morning.

He doesn’t forget to switch on the overhead signs though, does he?  With messages like “Don’t Drink And Drive” and “Remember: Sleep Kills”. Oh, and what’s that other one that I see just about every single bloody day? Oh yes: “Incident. Slow Down”  Slow down? We’re already going slower than a tortoise with a limp!

Because someone forgot to open up the bloody hard shoulder!

Pah!

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.

Probably.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Happy New Year to you both.

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?”

“Why?”

“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?

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.

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.

Wow!!

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.

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.

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.

Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster*

beebnewsThis sort of thing really annoys me!

CLICKY

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.

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.

Well…

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.

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?

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.

28. A Favourite Song From The Last Decade

JackoI got nothing. Again.

So…

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.

Rage Hard

H1The roads haven’t been kind to me this week and I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting in the car.

Monday – Awful journey on the M25. Because it was a Monday. And it was on the M25

Tuesday – Bloody horrendous journey. My normal 90 min journey to Dartford took 3 hours, thanks to an accident causing a 12 mile tailback.

Wednesday – Journey home ruined by a broken down lorry closing one lane of the M1

Thursday – Uncharacteristically busy for a Thursday morning. Ahh, a BMW and  Range Rover had a coming together and we all wanted to have a look.

Friday – A VW camper van caught fire, closing two lanes of the motorway.

In an effort to to quell the raging anger that bubbles within me, just waiting to erupt with a loud “Tsk!”, whilst I sit motionless for hours on our roads, I’ll sometimes put some music on and have a good ol’ sing-along.

Often, I’ll change the words for rude ones.

Because I’m immature.

Over the years, I’ve amused myself greatly just by changing the word “heart” (which is so common in many a tune) for the word “arse”.

There are so many songs where this transposition works so well. Unfortunately though, I can only remember a few:

As Elton John sang to Elkie Brookes “Don’t go breaking my arse”

“Shot through the arse and you’re to blame, you give love a bad name” belted out  Jon Bon Jovi.

And Bonnie Tyler had a Total Eclipse of her arse whilst Tony Bennett left his backside in San Francisco… which was all rather careless.

But, my favourite has to be Sinatra’s “I’ve got you, under my skin… I’ve got you, deep in the arse of me… So deep in my arse, you’re nearly a part of me…”

Well, it helps me while away the time.

Mr Angry

VA Economy seatsOn our flight back from holiday, the chap seated next to me – but across the aisle – was complaining from the moment we got on the plane: the TV screen built in to the seat back in front of him wasn’t working – in fact, none of the screens in a whole section on that side of the plane were working.

He complained to the stewardess, who explained that a reboot of the system was probably required and that she would arrange for it to be done. He sat in his seat, still complaining and swearing. “I ain’t sitting here for eight fucking hours with no entertainment. This isn’t bloody good enough!”

Another stewardess passed by and he stopped her and complained again. She apologised and explained that the reboot would probably fix it, but it couldn’t be done until we had taken off. He sat back in his seat, mumbling and grumbling.

Once we were in the air and the seat belt sign was turned off, he was straight out of his seat and was complaining to a nearby steward who then went to initiate the reboot. Unfortunately, the reboot didn’t work. Steam was starting to come from Mr Angry’s ears by now.

A stewardess explained that they could give him an iPad, which would work over the onboard Wi-Fi and would work just the same as the screen in the seat backs. “I hope they have more than one”, I thought, as there were about 20 seats which had non-working screens.

She duly appeared again a few minutes later with a big box of iPads and started dishing them out. Sure enough, she ran out just as she reached Mr Angry and then disappeared to the back of the plane.

Mr Angry started fidgeting in his seat. I watched with some amusement, from the corner of my eye whilst I put my headphones on and selected something to watch on my fully working screen. He looked like he was about to blow his top. “Well, that’s just fucking great!”, he said, “No fucking iPads either!”

The man in front of him turned round and offered his. “Here,” he said, “have this one. Please.”

Mr Angry thanked him but declined. He was primed and ready to blow… and he looked like he wanted to.

The stewardess returned a moment later with another box of iPads and dished them out to everybody, including Mr Angry, denying him the chance to explode. I continued to watch from the corner of my eye, as I selected a TV programme to watch. Mr Angry was calming down now and was flicking through the selection of films, finally settling on Alan Bennett’s The Lady In The Van.

A half hour later, my episode of Peep Show had finished and I looked over toward Mr Angry.

Dame Maggie Smith was acting her heart out on the little 8″ screen.

Mr Angry was fast asleep.

Trolley Dolly Folly

easyjet-1I flew up to Edinburgh t’other day, on business.

It was the earliest morning flight out of Luton and the SleazyJet plane was half empty.

Business men and women (and me) were spread out throughout the aircraft, with many of us having a row of seats to ourselves… which was nice. One or two were reading books, but most of us had our noses in the complimentary newspapers.

When the hostesses did their little safety demonstration, I put my paper down and paid attention.

I paid attention because it was polite to do so.

I’d already checked where the exits where and I’d spotted the low-level lighting on the floor. And I’ve been on enough planes now to know where my life jacket is stowed and how and when to inflate it. And I know it has a light and a whistle to attract attention. Which is lovely.

So, I know all that already, but I pay some attention, because I’ve been politely asked to.

But when I looked down the cabin, I could see that I was one of only a handful of people who were actually paying any attention.

It must be quite demoralising for these hostesses (and stewards) to stand there, going through all that rigmarole, day-in, day-out, trying to do their job professionally, whilst knowing that no-one is paying bugger-all attention to them.

So come on people: we know you are all seasoned flyers and we know you’ve seen it all a dozen times before, but surely you can spare two minutes away from the gossip pages to pay a little attention to someone who is just trying to do their job… and don’t forget, they are doing it for your safety.

It’s just courtesy, if nothing else.

I’ll put a spell on you

DSC_5925As you both know, I love a spelling mistake.

Let me rephrase that.

As you both know, I hate spelling mistakes.

I also have an annoying penchant for pointing them out to people.

At work, we have a weekly meeting where we review the previous week’s successes and failures.

A report showing a million fact, figures, graphs and various metrics is displayed on the large screen at one end of the room and we painstakingly go through pretty much most of them.

But, there is a spelling mistake on one particular graph, where it shows “Incomming Jobs”. I spotted it in my very first meeting, but I didn’t mention it… as I was the new boy.

But now, several months in, I have decided that I’m going to have to.  It doesn’t seem to bother anyone else – or, maybe not being as anal as me, they just haven’t noticed it – but for me, my eyes go straight to it.

Every time.

And it rankles me.

So, I’ve decided to get it sorted… just for the sake of my own sensibilities, if no-one elses.

And once that’s done, I shall try to remedy the one on the fire escape door downstairs too. That doesn’t seem to bother anyone else, either.

DSC_0011Meantime here are a couple I spotted recently, that I thought I’d share.

The photo at the top is a van on the A13 (I think it was) Surely, being able to spell is a major requisite of a sign-writer’s job?

And this one I took yesterday in a store.

Finest quality coffee, maybe… not so sure about the mugs.

Enslaved

phoneFollowing on from yesterday’s little moan about mobile phones, I thought I’d mention another thing about them that annoys me.

I was on a course a couple of weeks back… just for a day.
An introduction to project management, if you must know.

Now, in the old days, when we used to go on courses, when the instructor stopped for a break or for lunch, everybody would get up and go for a walk to stretch their legs, or they’d go outside to grab some fresh air… or have a fag.

But, we don’t do that anymore, I noticed.  On this course, when the instructor reached a suitable stopping point and announced that we would be stopping for a half-hour lunch break, nobody got out of their seats.

The first thing we all did – and I include myself in this – was to get our phones out and check for missed calls/texts/emails. Most of us would then spend the next ten minutes responding: either talking or tapping away at our tiny keypads, before actually heading over to the tray of dry cheese sandwiches perched on the windowsill.

The mobile phone is a marvelous invention and the ability to send and receive emails and such on it, is wonderfully clever and very useful sometimes.

But, our inability to turn the damn thing off when we are away from the office; when we are on holiday or at the pictures or down the pub, means that we are not just slaves to the technology, but to the workplace also.

Owning the road

RoadrageI left for work yesterday morning at my usual time of about 6.30

I drove up Humberstone Road, with several cars ahead of me and a Range Rover behind me. We were all driving slightly faster than the speed limit, in an attempt to get to the traffic lights before they changed.

Looking in my mirror, I noticed the Range Rover had veered out behind me and was now driving on the wrong side of the road, as if he were about to overtake me. “What’s this twat doing?”, I thought.  He pulled back in behind me as we all reached the lights and turned right toward the motorway.

Now, the sliproad onto the motorway starts as two lanes and very rapidly goes down to just one. The logical, obvious and civilised way is for all the vehicles to merge into the single lane in turn: one from the right, one from the left, etc.

The cars in front of me were doing this and dutifully, I dropped back slightly to let a car from the right-hand lane pull in front of me.

Twat in a Range Rover was close up behind me though and obviously had no intention of doing the same. A silver Astra to the right of him was indicating to be let in, but Twat in a Range Rover wasn’t having any of it and kept his speed up to prevent the Astra from coming over.

In the end, the Astra forced his nose in, not having much choice as he was rapidly running out of road.

Twat in a  Range Rover started sounding his horn and flashing his headlights and making wanker signs at the Astra driver.

Like he was in the wrong.

This twat in a Range Rover was fuming… and all because another car had managed to get ten feet in front of him.

He needs to use his rear view mirror more: to take a good hard look at himself and his driving etiquette.

Twat.

Besides, he doesn’t own the road. I think he’ll find the current Mrs Masher holds that particular claim.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, but…

doggieYesterday, I went up to Wigan and then on to Liverpool.

No, this wasn’t a holiday… it was work related.

However, I can’t really mention it here due to commercial confidence… or summat. Anyway, trust me: it’s nothing exciting.

But, as I strode the streets of Liverpool, I noticed something that I haven’t seen in quite a while.

Dog shit.

I traversed three separate streets and saw dog mess on all of them.

Seeing doggie do’s on the pavement is quite a rarity, nowadays, I find.

Most dog owners are responsible enough to either clean up after their dog, or to not let it do it’s business there in the first place.

But it seems that there are still those that think it is OK for their dog to foul the pavement.

Obviously, the possibility of receiving a fine, means little to these owners. They know that the chances of getting caught are minimal

A recent scheme has been started, where dog owners allow a sample of their dog’s DNA to be taken. The idea is that any dog poo found on the streets can then be sampled and analysed and traced back to the dirty dog that did it.  This is all very well, except that it is a voluntary scheme and so regular offenders are somewhat unlikely to volunteer their dog to be put on a DNA register.

My suggestion is somewhat more Draconian.

The death penalty.

Bring back hanging. Just for those owners who allow their animals to defecate in our streets.

It would only need one person to get caught and all the others would seriously think twice about letting their dogs mess up our roads.

It might seem a rad harsh, but I bet it would work.

So much easier in the old days

GoodOldDaysAs I mentioned earlier, I’m toying with the idea of getting a new camera.

And of course, when it comes to buying a new toy, the internets is a boon for doing some research on it.

Or is it?

In the old days – before the internets – if I wanted to buy something, I would generally just go and buy it, after having slobbered over it in the shop window for a couple of days.

If it was a more expensive item – like a camera or a piece of hi-fi equipment – I might go to WHSmiths and buy What Expensive Item Monthly magazine, to give me some guidance before parting with my hard-earned.

But now we have the internets.

And if I want to buy something – a camera; a piece of Hi-Fi; a radio; a TV; some furniture; a fridge; a fondue set; a cuddly toy; almost anything – I will look it up on the internets first.

I will look at different retailers and compare prices.

Then I will read the customer reviews.

And that’s where it all goes wrong. Because I only have to read one review which isn’t so good, and I’m suddenly torn. I’m no longer sure if that’s the item I should be getting.

There could be forty-five 5-star reviews and then one person gives it a 3 and I find myself questioning my prospective purchase.

I’ll look around for a similar item by a different manufacturer.

And once I’ve found one I like, I’ll start reading all the reviews for that one.

And so it goes on.

Despite making it so much easier for me to choose, the internets have made it so much harder for me to choose.

It’s just as well there’s only one internets, because if I had to choose one and then started to use the internets to research the internets that I’m going to be choosing for researching the internets, I’d rapidly find myself going round in ever decreasing circles, until I eventually disappeared up my own backside in a puff of ill-informed logic.

R.O.B.bers

dootythreeI’ve been thinking of buying a new camera, for use on our forthcoming holiday later this year.

As usual, the one I fancy is a bit pricey, so I’ve been looking around t’internet, trying to find the best price.

And then, I wondered about actually buying it from the Duty Free shop at the airport.

Now, I’ve never bought anything from these shops, as the prices don’t seem much keener than those on the high street but, I thought it worth a look. You never know.

And so I compared prices between goods from the Dixons Travel website – which reflects the prices of their stores in the airports – and those of a high street retailer.  My suspicions were confirmed.  Bearing in mind that these goods are supposedly being sold without VAT (20%) on them, they didn’t seem that much cheaper.

So, here are a few comparisons (you’ll note I’ve done all the maths for you and some of the figures are rounded up/down to the nearest quid):

Fitbit watch: High Street  – £100.00  Dixons – £95.00  A saving of £5.00 = 5%
iPad Pro:  High Street – £680.00  Dixons  – £640.00  A saving of £40.00  = 6%
Apple Watch: High Street – £250.00  Dixons – £224.00  A saving of £26.00  = 10.5%
Fujifilm Instax 8 Camera: High Street – £64.00  Dixons – £63.00 A saving of £1.00  = 1.5%
Sonos Play1 speaker: High Street – £160.00  Dixons – £159.00 A saving of £1.00 = 0.6%

Of course, I could be comparing the prices with those of a ridiculously low priced high street retailer. But I’m not. The high street retailer I am using is Currys… whose parent company is, of course, Dixons.

A little search on the net revealed that it is the Duty Free shops themselves that are benefiting from all this, as they avoid having to pay the duty on each item, but they are not passing that saving on to the customer.

Another example of Rip Off Britain?

Gone

end-of-motorwayI drove to Chingford yesterday morning.

Northeast London.

Now, whenever I drive that way, my satnav always tells me to take the M10.

However, ever since they did the major changes to that area of the M1 some years back, I’ve always missed the M10 turnoff. I assumed this to be because they moved the sliproad and I haven’t shelled out to have my sat nav updated. And I’ve never noticed or been bothered by it, because I just continue down to the M25 and turn left. No problem.

But, yesterday morning I made a concerted effort to look for the M10 turnoff and take it.

But, I never saw it.

It wasn’t there. How can it not be there? How can a whole motorway disappear?

If anyone would know, it would be SpratNav. I gave him a call and he explained that the M10 had been declassified. It was now the A414.

Declassified? Well, I know it was quite short and not that busy, but it always had a lot more traffic on it than the M45 which goes between the M1 and the A45 to Coventry.  You can sometimes drive on there and not see another vehicle.

So maybe they’ll declassify that one too.

And what’s with this whole declassifying thing anyway? What’s the point.? It’s a working road with working road signs that tell people where they are going. It works. What’s the point of changing it all?

Or ,maybe it’s a conspiracy with the Sat Nav companies, forcing people to upgrade and then they split the profits.

And where will it end? Small towns could get declassified and converted to villages.

Rutland could get declassified and become part of Northamptonshire.

Wales could get declassified and… well, you get the idea. Whole countries could get declassified.

Hell, they might even consider declassifying whole planets next.

Oh, hold on…