Not Yet Dead

Looking at the sad lack of posts on this here site, one could be forgiven for thinking that I have shuffled off this mortal coil.

But that’s not the case.

Things have been happening, I’ve just not bothered mentioning them here.

So what have I been up to?

Well, my garage had an attempted break-in – as I mentioned a couple of posts ago  and I have finally got round to ordering the new door, which should hopefully be fitted in a couple of weeks. I’m really hoping to be able to get my bike out before this mild weather disappears.  Talking of bikes, a couple of us are thinking of doing this years’ Ring Of Red … weather permitting, of course. Feel free to join us if you can. And if you want to.

The mutt continues to dominate the homestead, in as much as we dote on her like a new baby. She’s getting better all the time and is fairly obedient, but develops selective hearing sometimes when she sees another dog and wants to play. Anyone who remembers the video of Fenton will easily be able to visualise me chasing her across the fields, yelling at the top of my voice. Jesus Christ!

I went to the Hamfest up in Newark at the end of September. That was most enjoyable. And I showed great restraint in spending only a ton. Most of that went on a piece of kit called a Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, which transmits a very low power signal that can be picked up by other stations around the world and reported back, thereby giving an idea of how well your aerial is working.  It’s early days and I’ve only tested one of my antennas, but I must say that I’m quite chuffed with the results from my 20 metre antenna¦ which is just a piece of wire strung up in the loft. Especially considering the lack of sunspot activity at the moment.

And, despite it initially looking like it had all gone quite smoothly, since moving my site to a new host, I found that I’ve not been receiving email notifications for any comments that get left.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why, and neither can the Support Desk of my new provider. They have effectively admitted as much and have left it with me. I have spent hours Googling and trying different things, all to no avail. I’m sure that when I do figure it out, it’ll probably be a D’oh! moment, as it is bound to be something simple. Really simple. Bound to be.

And on top of that, the current Mrs Masher decided we should start watching Designated Survivor on Netflix  so there’s three hours gone each evening. Got to admit, it’s bloody good though.

So, there you go: all caught up.

Wasn’t worth the wait really, was it?

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.

Paucity of posts

I know, I know…

I haven’t written anything here for ages. As a result, I’ve had complaints.

But, it happens: sometimes, my blogging mojo just ups and leaves me.

But it usually comes back.

Eventually.

So, what’s been happening in the Masher household during this lack of posts?

Bugger all, that’s what.

The mutt is still getting bigger and is starting to look like a proper pooch now. But, she’s going through her adolescent stage – yep, that’s a thing, apparently. She gets stroppy and disobedient and sulky, whenever it suits her. So, now I have three teenagers in the house. Arrgh!

However, it’s not so bad at the moment, as Mrs Masher and the kids have gone down to the south of France, so me and muttley have had a week to ourselves and, as a result, she has had some serious ‘instruction’.  I’m pleased to say, that she is picking it up quite quickly now.  Just as well, as she is about to spend the next week with my brother-in-law, as I am off now to join the rest of the family in French France.

I’ll bring you back a croissant.

Au revoir

Film Review: Ant Man

I was quite late home from work last night and Mrs Masher instructed me to pick up a McDonald’s as: “I’m not gonna start cooking now!” Dutifully, I did so and arrived home, laden with chicken nuggets and burgers and fries and cokes.

I flopped exhausted onto the sofa with my meal and noticed that a film had been cued up on the telly and was paused in readiness. “We’re watching Ant Man”, Harry said. “Is that OK?”

I nodded wearily, but was also aware that this gave me an opportunity to squeeze at least one more review in.

So.

Ant Man.

Not one of the Marvel Superheroes that I’ve ever been interested in, really. But I did reluctantly see this at the pictures last year, at the kids’ insistence, and I remember enjoying it to a point, but not being particularly impressed.

However, second time round I found it much more enjoyable. There is, of course, plenty of action; there’s a plot line that I can actually follow, and there’s humour.  More humour than Marvel typically go for in their Superhero films.

And there are ants. Hundreds and thousands of CGI ants.

Urgh.

And the fight scenes on Thomas The Tank, as seen from an ant’s perspective and then ours, made me actually guffaw.

Played excellently by Paul Rudd, Ant Man was well worth a second look and is probably worth a second film.

McUseless

Here’s an updated picture of Saber. She’s growing quickly now and has settled in nicely.

Having had her second set of injections, she can now go out, so we have taken her on short walks… with mixed success. She loves the park, when we get there, but she is not so keen on the walk to reach it. I daresay that will soon change.

She has met lots of other people and a few other dogs now and she has not been fazed by any of it, I’m pleased to say.

Apart from doggy stuff, it’s been a busy Bank Holiday weekend, so far.

Lots of walking, courtesy of Geocaching – and Saber, of course.

A nice ride out to Jack’s Hill Café.

Shopping – both food and retail.

Running in a new burglar alarm cable because the old one got accidentally cut by the double glazing people.

And an aching back, thanks to some gardening that Mrs M made me do today. Well, I say ‘made’… but really, I just felt guilty after watching her hard at it with a shovel for two hours, so thought I’d better chip in.

So, when it came time for dinner, Mrs M was too tired to cook and we were all knackered anyway and couldn’t be bothered, so I drove up to our local McDonald’s for some veg-out-on-the-sofa-in-front-of-the-telly grub.

It took a bloody age to arrive. I watched as the girl went back several times to check whether it was ready.

Mrs M’s 5-piece Chicken Select meal came very quickly, as did Harry’s 3-piece meal. Amelia’s chicken nugget meal arrived almost immediately.

It was MY order that was causing them such a problem.  Had I ordered something out of the ordinary maybe?

No. I’d ordered a Big Mac Meal.

Their signature dish, so to speak.

The burger meal that the whole brand was built upon.

And it took them three attempts to get it right.

Think I’ll go to the kebab shop next time.

Spring has sprung…

… the grass is riz…

It most definitely is, because I cut it yesterday!

There are many things to indicate that Spring has arrived: plants; animals; insects, all sticking their heads out.

Buzzy bees buzzing around; the daffodils and crocuses (crocii?) in full bloom and an increase in the amount of roadkill littering the lanes, is all a sign that Winter is over and that Spring has finally arrived.

But round these parts, they know it is Spring, when Mr Masher finally gives in and cuts the back lawn. The sound of the noisiest Flymo in the world, being dragged around my garden for forty minutes on a Saturday afternoon, is as accurate an indicator of Spring’s arrival, as anything else.

Another good indicator, is the increased number of motorcyclists on the roads. And today, I added to that number.

I pulled the dustsheets off the bike and was pleasantly surprised when it started first time – having not been used since last November. And then I took to the roads and rode to Hitchin, for a pre-arranged meeting with a couple of guys I had never met before, but had spoken to on Saturday, on the radio.

Pete and John turned out to be a most amiable couple of chaps and we took a very pleasant ride through the back streets of Hertfordshire, before ending up at a biker’s cafe on the A10 for a bit of breakfast.

I look forward to meeting up with them again, some time soon.

And now that Spring has snuck up upon me, I really must pull my finger out and get my latest Geocache puzzle built, before Autumn suddenly arrives and I’m too late.

Again.

Bah!

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.

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.

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.

26. A Song I Would Give To My Offspring

sonosI got nuffin for this one.

Of course, our kids will possibly never hear songs in true Hi-Fi. Yes, LP records are starting to make a comeback, but I daresay they will only appeal to the cognoscenti; the afficionados; the audiophiles.  With all the speed and convenience that downloading an MP3 offers, I can’t see that many youngsters will be rushing down to their local record store, to pay sixteen quid for Ed Sheeran’s latest 12 incher.

I’ll admit that I have also swapped convenience for form. Back in the day, I thought nothing of spending stupid amounts of money on the very latest thing to wow me from the pages of the Hi-Fi magazines: the best British speakers I could afford, standing on ludicrously expensive speaker stands; a properly decent, direct drive, German turntable with a top of the range Ortofon cartridge and a 5mm platter mat and a spindle clamp to hold the record flat; British amplifiers from Cambridge and oxygen-free cables to connect them all up.

It all sounded marvellous.

But, as my musical interests have waned and my ears no longer capture those subtle harmonic frequencies that added to the soundscape produced by all this kit, I’ve since stuck it all up in the loft and replaced it all with a small midi system that better suited the furniture in our living room.

And it all sounds just fine (although Mrs M would prefer it to have a bit more oomph!).

But, I’m even looking to replace that now.

In the kitchen we have a wireless speaker that is linked into the home WiFi. Using an app on a mobile phone or tablet, we can use it to listen to a bazillion different internet radio stations, although – at Mrs M’s behest – it remains firmly locked on to Kiss FM.

But, it can also stream our entire record collection from a Synology NAS drive that sits in the study and is backed up to a WD Elements drive in the shack. With search functions and playlists, it really is very convenient, and so I’m now looking to add other rooms into the system.

With Mrs M’s musical tastes and her penchant for volume, that may well be something I’ll regret.

So, rather than a song, the latest method of playing them is what I’ll be passing on to my kids.

Each to their own

disgustOn Saturday night, the wife and I did something that we’ve never done before.

She wasn’t too keen, but in the spirit of “I’ll try anything once”, she agreed to give it a go.

Neither of us really enjoyed it though, it has to be said.

To be honest, though I’ve often thought about it, it’s not something I ever envisioned us doing – especially at our age, but as so many other people seem to find it quite pleasurable, I thought we should give it a try.

As it was, it just left us feeling guilty and embarrassed and I very much doubt we’ll ever do it again.

But for those of you who enjoy watching Eurovision: you carry on.

Taste Test Tuesday

DSCF1043Whilst the current Mrs Masher is one for drinking copious amounts of Diet Pepsi, Harry and I have a preference for lemonade.

Usually I will buy a premium brand – R Whites or Schweppes – if it is on offer. If not, I’ll just get Sainsbury’s own brand.

But then, I got to wondering whether we actually prefer one over the other? I think I prefer R Whites, but can I really tell the difference?

The only way to be sure was to do a blind taste test.

So, when I went shopping on Saturday, I bought a bottle of each and yesterday I got Amelia to pour some from each bottle into three glasses.

Without looking, I took a swig from each glass.

The results were pretty much as I would have predicted and here they are ranked in order of preference:

1. R Whites – very fizzy with a distinct lemony taste.
2. Schweppes – not as lemony and not as fizzy.
3. Sainsbury’s – again, not so lemony and less fizzy than the Schweppes, but still pretty decent.

Harry agreed with my findings.

So, there you have it: like Elvis Costello’s dad, I’m a secret R Whites lemonade drinker.

Except it’s no longer a secret.

Moooon River

men2Well, after several days of ointment application, there hasn’t been much in the way of improvement.

And so, Mrs M took a trip to the chemist to see if the pharmacist could recommend anything.

She returned a little later with a box of Germaloids, which is a mix of haemmor… a mix of pile ointment and Germoline – an antiseptic, I believe. These are combined into one handy suppository.

Now, I’ve never had to use one of those before, so this was going to be quite a new experience for me.

Again, Mrs M drew the short straw and got the job of erm…  shoving it up there.

Sweet Holy Mother of God!!!

After that, I tell you now: I am NEVER going to have a prostate examination. Jeez!

In all honesty, I don’t think they have made much of a difference, but I have noticed that my farts now smell of root beer.

She just can’t wait to take them down

In the run up to Christmas, the wife is just as excited about it all as the kids. She loves all the kitsch and would have the Christmas tree up in November, if I’d let her.

But once it’s over, it’s over, as far as she is concerned.

For Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the house looks like a tip, as bits of wrapping paper and torn packaging litter the living room floor amid the thousands of opened presents, whilst we sit amongst it all on the sofa, shoving homemade mince pies down our gullets as we watch Madagascar on the telly for the umpteenth time.

But the day after Boxing Day? Well, that’s it: Christmas is over… despite what the Radio Times may say.

The tree is taken down and put back in the loft for another year. The baubles and the tinsel and the lights are packed up and are too stored away until next year and Christmas cards are un-BluTak’ed from the walls and thrown in the recycle bin.

Then the black rubbish sacks come out and all the Christmas packaging is separated into bags of paper and cardboard and a miscellaneous bag (or three) of plastic and polystyrene.

Old dressing gowns and slippers - changed for shiny new, soft and cosy replacements from Marks and Sparks – are also bagged up and thrown in the back of the car, ready for disposal.

Then, whilst I’m arguing with some Romanian council worker at the tidy tip –  because he’s spotted a bit of cellophane as I’ve emptied my bag of cardboard into the appropriate skip – the kids have locked themselves and their new toys in their bedrooms while Mrs Masher, Mr Muscle and Mr Sheen go ape-shit around the house.

I return to find a gleaming abode with not a hint of Xmas to be seen.

Normality has been resumed.

It’s just a Sunday.

Trying to fix Xmas tree lights that were working fine when I put them away last year, but now half of them are dead

xmas treeWell, there’s three hours of my life that I won’t get back.

Seated at the bottom of the stairs with the floor of the hallway covered in Christmas tree lights, half of them twinkling, the other half not.

Bulbs with wires so small that it’s almost impossible to check them with a meter.

Packets of spare bulbs litter the bottom of the Xmas box that I’ve just retrieved from the loft, yet NONE of them fit the string of lights that I’m trying to fix.

I find a broken wire and fixing that starts a set of about twenty lights blinking furiously.

Eventually, I manage to get about 90% of them working and they get wrapped around the tree. No-one is going to notice a few dead ones anyway, not with THAT amount of baubles and tinsel and tat thrown over it.

The tree sits in the corner of the living room, blinking away, drawing my eye from the television every so often and reminding me that  the big day draws ever nearer and that I haven’t yet bought anything for Mrs M. and that I’m getting panicky because I have no idea what to get her,

I hate this part of Christmas.

The pain, the pain

Agony; that’s what I’m in.

As you both know, I’ve long been a martyr to my back. It doesn’t take much to put it out, and that’s exactly what I did at the weekend.

Badly.

On Monday morning, the pain was so bad that I had to ask Mrs Masher to put my socks and shoes on my feet for me. Now, several days into the week, it is only just starting to get better.

I’ve been walking around like I’ve shit myself. I think it’s impossible to look any other way, when one has to walk so gingerly that the slightest jar can send pain spasming through your body.

At work, I had to get one of my colleagues to carry my toolbag for me… as I hobbled ten paces behind him, looking like I’d badly soiled myself.

Fortunately, driving hasn’t been too bad – I’m currently working in Northern Ireland and there is plenty of driving required – although getting in and out of the car has been a slow process.

So, what caused this terrible inconvenience?

What was I doing to cripple myself so badly?

Well, I’ll tell you: I was playing “Smacka-dat-bum” with Amelia.

I’d just caught her a cracker on the backside and was running up the stairs gleefully, with her in hot pursuit, eager to get me back. As I ran for the safety of my big swivel chair in the shack, I wiggled my arse at her in a taunting fashion.

 

“Ha Ha”, I said, “You can’t catch me!”

Then something clicked and I stopped suddenly as a bolt of pain shot through my lower back.  A second later, there was another painful sensation, as Amelia’s hand delivered a stinging slap to my posterior. She giggled as she quickly turned and made her retreat, whilst I limped into my room and slowly lowered myself onto the chair.

“Don’t you want to play anymore, Daddy?”, she asked, walking into the room cautiously. I grimaced a smile at her and shook my head.

“Have you hurt your back again?”

I nodded.

“Bother!” she said.

“Arses!” I agreed

Rotten Tomato

10000 daysMrs M is a bit rubbish when it comes to films.

We can go see a big action blockbuster at our local picture-house and then, six months later when it’s shown on Channel Four, she’ll sit down to watch it again, swearing blind that she’s never seen it before.

And she’s really good at picking out rubbish DVDs too, which is why I cringed last Sunday when she returned home from the shops with a cheery “I got us a DVD to watch after dinner”.

She has a passion for the post-apocalyptic genre: 2012; The Day After Tomorrow; Deep Impact… that sort of thing.

And so we all sat down – as a family – after a full-monty Sunday roast and watched 10, 000 Days, a film about the survivors on Earth after it has been hit  by a large comet and has entered a new Ice Age.

There were no “names” in the cast list, save for the little-known blond-haired bloke out of the Dukes Of Hazzard TV series… and he wasn’t up to much.

So, what can I say about it? The acting was terrible, the storyline was truly awful and the special effects were atrocious.

Both kids left the room after about five minutes and Mrs M fell asleep half an hour into it, waking ten minutes before the end to exclaim that “it was a bit of a weird ending”.

I sat through it, determined to get our three quid’s worth, but it has to be one of the biggest piles of poo I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch.

If you see this DVD going for 99p in your local pikey Asda store, you’d do well to steer well clear.

But, it’ll probably be on the telly soon anyway… and Mrs M will be able to enjoy all again.

 

Catching up

DSC_5903_2It was Amelia’s 12th birthday last Friday. I know: 12! Where did that go?

She and a few of her friends had a trampolining party. Yep, that’s a new one on me too.  In my day *cough* when we had a birthday party, we had a few friends round for tea and jelly and ice-cream and we played Pass The Parcel and Pin The Tail On The Donkey.

Nowadays, there are all sorts of specialist parties that the kids can have: bouncing; swimming; juggling; going ape-shit in a padded fun factory; dancing; ten-pin bowling…, the list goes on.  Harry went to a party a few weeks ago where they were all taught how to street dance. He came home and showed me his ‘moves”. I threw a few shapes back at him in response, but he wasn’t impressed with my efforts.

Mrs Masher’s bestie made Amelia a cake – that’s it in the picture above. Cool eh? We made short work of that, I can tell you.

This week, I have been working away oop north. Morecambe, to be precise. I had to work nights. Outside. I’ve never been so cold!  I had two pairs of everything on, but I was still freezing.  At three in the morning it was cold enough anyway, somewhere around 2C, but it was blowing a gale and the wind chill factor made it feel like -20C. My teeth were chattering so hard, my eyes wouldn’t focus, as I tried to wire up a new MUX unit.

It was so cold that some penguins started pestering me. Or maybe I was starting to hallucinate. Anyway, a passing polar bear saw them off.

Yesterday afternoon, Mrs M asked if we could go to Ikea to get some bookcases for Amelia’s bedroom. She showed me the ones she wanted on the website and as they seemed reasonably priced, working out to about eighty pounds, I readily agreed.  This wouldn’t take too long, I thought, as we had already sorted out what we wanted.

I should have known better. Four hours later, at 9pm, we finally emerged from the store, full of Swedish meatballs (well, you’ve got to) and two hundred and fifty quid lighter, having bought something completely different that was bigger and three times more expensive than what we had originally planned for.

Well, I now know what I’m going to be doing this Bank Holiday weekend.

I’d better put my electric screwdriver on charge.

Not very PC

blue motherboard“I’m thinking of doing a rebuild on the PC”, I said to Mrs M earlier today, “it’s slowed right down. It’s about due for an upgrade anyway”.

“Oh, OK”, she said.

And then, out of nowhere, she asked “What motherboard are you going to get, then?”.

I was taken aback slightly as, not only has she never shown any interest in the internal workings of a computer, but she certainly has no real knowledge about them, as far as I’m aware. But, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

“Well, I’m not sure yet which one to go for”, I said, “but it’ll most likely be an AM3+ socket with USB3, DDR3 RAM and a SATA3 interface.”

She rolled her eyes at me and at that point, I realised the correct answer that I should have given was: “I’m going to get a blue one.”

One man’s junk…

yamahaA short while back, I was chatting with my neighbour whilst he was having a sort out in his garage; slinging unwanted items into the back of his van to take to the tip.

He picked up an electronic keyboard that was propped up against the side wall and went to throw it in the van.

“You slinging that?” I asked, rather stupidly.

“Yeah, it’s been here for years. Doesn’t work. Why, do you want it? I’ve got a stand for it here somewhere.” I said I’d take it off his hands and he gladly handed it over.

Back home, I brushed all the dirt and cobwebs off, put it on the dining room table and powered it up. Sure enough it was dead and so I unplugged it, got a screwdriver and opened it up. There must have been about 40 screws to undo!

I soon found the fault – it was just a dodgy joint which I resoldered. I powered it up again and was pleased to see it worked perfectly.

Almost.

Half a dozen of the keys didn’t work or needed to be pressed really hard in order to get a note out them. And so, I stripped the keys section down, cleaned it all up and put it all back together.

Result! It now worked proper perfectly. A rub down with a duster and some Mr Sheen and it was looking almost as good as new. It had taken about two hours to fix, but we now had a fully working Yamaha electronic musical keyboard.

It now sits proudly on it’s matching stand in the corner of the dining room and often, at the weekends, as a family, we will all gather round it… wishing one of us could play the damn thing.

Time on my hands

I’ve been very busy of late.

Except, I haven’t.

Far from it.

I finished the last project at work, at the end of November. Since then, apart from tidying up some paperwork and doing  a bit of training for the next project, I have done bugger all work-wise.

Of course, having all this time on my hands, has presented me with the opportunity to get lots done at home.

But I haven’t.

Because I put things off. I procrastinate terribly (or very well, depending on how you look at it).

And the more time I have spare, the worse I am. Knowing that I have free time for the next month or so turns “I’ll do that tomorrow” into “I’ll do that next week” rather than “I’ll do that now” , as it should be in both cases.

It’s a problem that I really wish I could sort out – even though I have tried several times in the past and, evidently, failed.

My dad has the Nike philosophy of Just Do It, whereas my ethos seems to be more that of the Caramel Bunny.

Bath Time

bathI had a bath last night.  First one I’ve had for ages.

I don’t enjoy baths, see…  I’m more of a shower person.

But last night I had a bath, purely because Harry had had a steam bath to help clear his chesty cough and the water was still clean when he got out. Letting a whole tub of hot water go down the plughole seemed such a waste and, as Mrs M – a regular bather – had already had one, I thought I may as well give it a go.

I lay in it for about five minutes before losing interest and getting out.

Many people love taking a long soak in the bath, but I really can’t see the attraction.

The current Mrs Masher has a bath daily (sometimes, two) and she’ll lay in there for up to an hour!

Others, I am told (mainly women, it must be said), like to place lighted candles on the edge of the bath, whilst laying in the water, as they get all prune-like.

Candles? What’s the point in that? Just turn the bloody light on!

I am assured that – for a special treat – these same women also drop rose petals into the water.

Now, who wants bits of soggy flowers sticking to them whilst they try to bathe? That can’t be nice, surely?

Apparently, various oils and unguents can also be added to the soup, along with bubbles. For what purpose, I don’t know. I mean: bubbles. Really?

But, this is called Luxuriating.

Apparently.

Rubbish! This is how you should take a bath: get in, have a quick rubdown with a bar of carbolic and then get out again.

Nuff sed.

Quick poll in the comments, please: Bath or shower?

Michelin Man

I was looking in the mirror as I got out of the shower, the other day.Xmas mince pies

“Jeez, Masher”, I thought to myself, “Christmas hasn’t been kind to you”.

Mr Blobby looked back at me from the mirror and winced. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

I think my eight-pack is still in there, somewhere, but it seems to have garnered a thick protective coating.

Both of my chins have merged into one, er… bigger chin.

And if my moobs get any bigger, I won’t be able to see my mangina.

Of course, I totally blame Mrs Masher for my current – somewhat inflated – predicament: huge plates of delicious homemade sausage rolls and mince pies; an advent calendar chock-full of lager and the complete lack of, erm… exercise, that comes after 20 years of marriage, have all contributed to making me twice the man I once was.

Something needs to be done and, whilst I’m not one for New Year resolutions, I’ve resolved that I’m going to do something about it.

Will power, that’s all it takes.

I just need to finish the lager off first. And the remains of that Yule Log. Oh, and that box of After Eights. But then I’ll make a start.

Promise.

Rear Window

I’ve been “working from home” for the past couple of weeks.  It’s that time of year when things dry up a bit workwise and so I’ve just been helping out with a bit of paperwork, and there’s no need to drive 60 miles to the office to do that!

I don’t mind working from home – even if the paperwork side of things is a bit boring – because once I’ve got the kids off to school and I have the house to myself, I can get quite a bit of work done.

Of course, there are distractions. The radio  is always on and by way of a break, I’ll often have a bit of a chat with somebody for ten minutes or so. Then there are the delivery drivers: two or three a day and if they’re not for us, they’re for the neighbours – not that I have any problem at all taking in parcels for other people. And of course, there is the window. Working from the spare upstairs bedroom affords me a reasonable view of the street and I’m forever nosing outside whenever I hear a car door slam or loud footsteps. I’m a regular one man neighbourhood watch. Though, like James Stewart in the Hitchcock classic that I titled this post after, I may one day see something I don’t want to… like the lesbo’s in the house at the back getting it on. *shudder*

And I’ve got myself into a regular lunchtime routine, sitting down with a bowl of betty or a ham sandwich and watching a repeat of The Professionals on ITV4.  I used to absolutely love The Professionals: whilst all my mates were into Starsky and Hutch, I was a Bodie and Doyle fan.  And I enjoy it today as much as I did then, even though I’ve seen some of them several times.  Yes, the dialogue is a bit cheesey and the sideburns are somewhat iffy and – when you watch a dozen episodes in a row – it’s easy to spot the many continuity discrepancies but, for a programme that is well over thirty years old, I think it still holds together quite well.

Sky tried to reboot the series a while back with The New Professionals, starring Edward Woodwood and a couple of unknown heavies, but it lacked the chemistry of the original and rightly disappeared, never to be seen again.

If only they’d stuck with the 3.0 litre Capris…

Christmas: we just do it for the kids, really

adventbeerI answered the door to find a delivery chap holding a large box. He was clearly struggling with the weight of it..

“There you go”, he said, handing it over. “Careful, it’s heavy.”

I took the box and placed it on the floor wondering what it could be, as I signed his electronic pad thingy with an unintelligible signature that only vaguely resembled my own.

Then Mrs Masher appeared behind me, a big grin on her face. “It’s a couple of days late, but you can open that. It’s your advent calendar.

Intrigued, I removed the outer packaging to reveal a large box with 25 round advent windows.

And under each one is a half-litre bottle of German beer; a different one for each day.

How cool is that!

It was worth it

I walked into the kitchen to find Mrs Masher giving the kids a tongue-lashing. Normally I’ll stay well out of it, but this time I just had to chip in at the end.

Kids: “But we DID tidy our rooms”

Mrs M: “No you didn’t! They are still in a right…”

Kids: “We did!”

Mrs M: “And that’s another thing that I’m getting fed up with: every time I tell you something, you contradict me. If I say that your room is untidy, you say it isn’t; if I say that you need to have a bath, you say that you don’t.  You contradict me all the time and quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of it!”

Me: “No you’re not”

OK, it may have earned me some time in the doghouse, but I just couldn’t resist.

It’s annoying that I was the only one who thought it funny.

… and now for something completely brilliant

DSC_6001IMG_20140718_201627This weekend saw me at the O2 with my mate Paul, where we went to see Monty Python Live.

‘Twas marvelous and our seats afforded us a great view of the stage, which just made it even more annoying when the batteries in my camera died after only a couple of shots.

On Frank Skinner’s radio show, a couple of weeks back, he said how much he’d enjoyed the live show, having grown up with Python… much like myself. “You know those terrible bores you get in pubs, who can recite every word of the Python sketches?”, he went on, “Well, that was me.”  Listening to that, I realised that I too was one of those terrible bores. In fact, I must still be today, as I can still quote large chunks of various sketches word for word and sing every one of the team’s song lyrics near perfectly.

IMG_20140718_220654But, I’m not alone. The like-minded audience in the O2 whistled and cheered asDSC_6002 each sketch started, knowing
exactly what was about to happen before a word had even been said. We all sang along with each and every song, and we all verbalised every sketch as it played out on the stage.

Some audience members had even dressed specifically for the show, with many wearing knotted hankies and braces a lá T F Gumby (Brain Specialist). There were also a trio of guys looking resplendent in the bright red costumes of the Spanish Inquisition. “I certainly didn’t expect to see them here”, I quipped to Paul, showing absolutely no originality whatsoever.

All in all, a brilliant evening.

Sunday wasn’t quite so brilliant, as I spent much of it up a ladder cleaning out my guttering.