The Money Programme

Well, it seems that my old domain name has actually been purchased by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Yes, the BBC now control masher.co.uk!

They don’t seem to have done much with it, so far though… it just goes to a Beeb holding page. I’m intrigued to know what their intentions for it are.

Meanwhile, I’d like to thank all you licence payers out there for the wedge of cash I got for it 😉

But, if I’d known it was Auntie’s purse that was shelling out, I’d have probably held out for more.

Nerdy nostalgia

Still cleaning out the loft (little bit at a time) and yesterday, in an old cardboard box, tucked away at the back, I found books and sloppy disks all related to Supercalc, Paradox and Wordperfect for DOS – all on 5.25inch disks!

I daresay there are plenty of qualified IT people out there nowadays who have never handled such antiquated storage, but when they came out and saved me from spending hours saving stuff to tape, I thought they were the best thing ever.

And, as I dug out and dusted off my old LP collection, I was aware that I have grown nephews who have never “played a record”. The CD Generation.

Suddenly I feel very old.

Evicted from the marital bed

My daughter was very sick yesterday evening – throwing up constantly. Something she picked up from her little brother, who had it 24 hrs earlier.

When I finally rolled up to bed at about one – after watching what could have been a promising film, but which ultimately turned out to be a pile of poo – I found her fast asleep in bed with mummy.  As she’d had a pretty restless night so far, I decided to leave her there.

The bed in the spare room is currently covered in junk (read ‘potentially useful stuff’) – as is much of the spare room itself – due to the big spring clean in the loft (yesterday, I threw out two never-used DMAC satellite decoders that I never knew I even had! Still in their original packaging, but with no call for such things nowadays, there’s point in ebaying them). And there was no way my 15-stone frame was going to fit onto a child’s 4-foot bed, and so I found myself sleeping on the sofa downstairs.
It was a terrible night’s rest – I doubt I had more than four hour’s kip.

I think I’m starting to see the practicality of those horrible sofa-bed things.

Spring cleaning

The trouble with being one of the great unwashed and being out of work is that I am busier than ever. The current Mrs Masher is making sure that I don’t sit around and enjoy my enforced leisure time, by providing me with plenty of little jobs around the home.

Today, she had me cleaning out the loft… well, part of it: it’ll take several days. The problem is, I’m a hoarder. Always have been. I hate throwing stuff away if there is the slightest chance that I might use it again one day. Or that I might be able to fix it sometime. Or it has sentimental value. Or it’s a nice colour. Hence, the loft and the garage (and the spare room) are full of what some – including my darling wife – might refer to as junk. I prefer to think of it as ‘potentially’ useful stuff.

Anyway, there is so much stuff in the loft (not ALL of it mine, I hasten to add) that I have so far taken three carloads to the local Tidy Tip and I guess I’ll probably have to take several more. The third trip today saw me dumping four VHS video recorders – one of which worked perfectly and just needed a remote control – four computer monitors, all in good working order, a working Freeview box that just needed 5 minutes work with a soldering iron and two CD players that worked but were, well… old. There are still two video recorders in the loft, that I couldn’t bear to part with: one SVHS machine in perfect working order and a Panasonic machine that is so gorgeous I cannot let it go. It needs new heads. Twenty-five quid and an hour of my time and I could have it back on it’s feet. It’ll never happen though, as I have no need of it: this house hasn’t seen a video recorder since we went all digital about 4 years ago. And so, it will languish in the corner of the loft until the next big clean out comes along.

Not everything has been skipped though: much of it – at the boss’ insistence – has gone on eBay.
I doubt we’ll make much from it (well, I certainly won’t), but if we make enough to hire a skip, I’ll be able to start on the garage.

Know your audience – pt2

Blimey, I haven’t written anything since last year!

I gave blood earlier this week (Thursday). The chief receptionist at the donor clinic gave me a bit of a rollicking for my Polonium 210 joke last month, claiming I had seriously upset the receptionist on duty at that time, and being heavily pregnant she shouldn’t be getting upset. I apologised.

“Well, it’s OK apologising, but you need to think about what you are saying and who you are saying it to. Some people can get easily upset. Please be more careful and think about what you say to people.”

“OK”

“Right, we’ll have no more said about it. Anyway, What are you doing here on a weekday? Shouldn’t you be at work, you lazy bugger?”

“I’ve been made redundant.”

[sheepishly] “Oh.”

Paintball

I went paintballing again yesterday. With the inclement weather conditions and the fact that we are still in the holiday period, I wasn’t expecting many people to be attending. However, there were at least 60 of us and so a good time was had by all – the more players, the more enjoyable it is. Adding to the fun was the mud. The recent downpours, coupled with three-score of camouflaged, booted idiots running around, had caused the grounds to turn into a quagmire of wet, sloppy mud that we revelled in rolling around in. Like pigs. No worries – new Aerial at 30 degrees will get that off. Apparently.

Once again, I was struck – not just by paintballs… of which I was struck by many – but by the realisation of the extreme danger of infantry warfare. That sounds a bit silly and obvious. But, when a 14 year old boy can hit you square between the eyes when you stick your head above the parapet… from 200 feet… with a paintball gun which has all the ballistic accuracy of a sock full of custard launched from a catapult (well, mine was about that accurate!), then you realise just how little chance you’d stand against trained soldiers with high powered rifles and telescopic sights. All good fun for us, running around pretending we are Johnny Rambo, but it’s a very far cry from the real thing.

Still, this morning I ache somewhat and have many bruises to prove that I am worthy of receiving the Ministry of Paintball’s VC… if they did such a thing (I received a round of applause for my brave but foolhardy, single-handed attack on the enemy’s flag – my subsequent death being both dramatic and Oscar worthy).

I realised my age though – and the fact that I was one of the eldest there – when my intended humorous cry of “FIX BAYONETS!” fell on uncomprehending ears and raised not a titter.

Ahh well.

Oh, and I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Am I bovvered?

Well, it’s the last day of work for me today.

Not just the last day of work before Christmas, but the last day of work completely.

I am to be considered a victim of the latest round of redundancies to hit the company.

But, in truth, I am happy to be going. It’s time for me to move on… my work here is done [dons Lone Ranger mask and rides off into the sunset].

After 26 years in telecommunications, I need a change.

I have a plan to make myself and my family financially secure: I’m going to spend my entire redundancy package on lottery tickets.

That’ll work.

Won’t it?

Treading the boards

My little girl had her very first appearance in a school play, earlier this evening.  She had the dramatic and demanding role of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in her nursery’s production of The Angel Who Broke Her Wings.

I arrived with her, 30 minutes before “curtain up” to allow her time to get ready.

“Hello Amelia” said one of the nursery teachers, as we walked through the door.

“Shhh”, I said, “Call her Rudolph: she’s in character.”

I was met with a blank look.

“She’s taking it very seriously”, I explained. “Like De Niro, she totally immerses herself into her character. She’s spent all afternoon watching a wildlife documentary on the reindeer in Lapland, so that she can get a feel for the part”.

Another blank look.

“C’mon Amelia”, I said, pushing her through the door, “we’ll be late.”

Every little helps… part 4

I posted several entries on the old site, regarding our rather childish antics at our local Tesco’s in Hemel, where we had been posting our own inane comments on their comments board, under the name of Arthur Pewty.

These comments stayed on the board for many weeks and we occasionally noticed people reading them and smiling.

Mission achieved, then.

However, the Tesco Humour Police eventually discovered them. Our mole in the store said that two chaps in suits were seen reading them… and they were not smiling. A short while later, the comments were removed. Oh well.

Watch out for further capers, where we aim ultimately to replace one of the checkout girls with our own comedy version.

Know your audience

I was supposed to be giving blood today, but as I’ve been feeling a bit unwell lately, I thought it best to give it a miss.

I phoned in yesterday to cancel my appointment, and I spoke to a new girl on the reception desk:

Hello, it’s Masher. I’d like to cancel tomorrow’s appointment please.

OK. Is there anything wrong?

No, I just have a touch of that Polonium 210 poisoning.

[giggle] OK. Do you want to make another appointment.

Best not. The doctors say it may take a while to clear up, what with it having a half-life of 138 days an’ all.

Er, OK. Thanks for letting us know.

20 mins later, my phone rang. It was the chief staff nurse (or whatever they are nowadays) at the donor centre.

Right, she says, what’s the story here? How did you get this radiation poisoning?

I was in… I was having… erm… I was joking.

Right. So what exactly is wrong with you then, that you’re not coming in tomorrow?

[meekly] I have a bit of a cough.

A cough?

Yes [forces rather feeble cough out]

You sod! You had us worried! [click]

Wild Thing

As I mentioned, a couple of posts ago, I am on my own this week.

As such, I’ve managed to complete a couple of things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able.

A complete strip down and rewire of the computer desk in my study, for example. As I’ve added bits and pieces over the years, the cabling had become an unmanageable tangle and despite having a copious amount of power sockets, I had run out. And so, a sort out was in order. 4 hours later it was done: the spaghetti was gone and six extra power sockets fitted to the back of the desk, brought the total up to 30. That should see me through for a while!

But it occurred to me last night that despite having this week of freedom; despite being able to come and go as I please; despite not having to stay in to babysit the kids whilst the wife is at work, I have not actually left the house in the evening at all this week. I’ve stayed in every night.  And so, after dinner, I resolved that I would go out. Tonight I would not stay in and fall asleep in front of the telly. Tonight I would not stay up half the night, tinkering nerd-like on my computer. Tonight I would put my new-found freedom to good use: I would most definitely go out. Somewhere.
So, I went round my sister’s.

For a cup of tea.

Rock on!

… and ne’er a drop to drink

A few weeks back, we had a water meter fitted. Our local water authority have been pushing water meters (makes them sound like some kind of meter dealer!) on the basis that they want to make people more aware of the amounts of water they use, in the hope that they will cut down on their consumption and so aid the environment.

Of course, I had it fitted in the hope that it will just work out cheaper. It grates me that unmetered consumption (water rates) is based on the rateable value of your home. So, a little old lady, living on her own, would pay the same as the family of five living next door, running their Hand Car Wash business in their back garden.

So, that’s why I had it fitted: I’m tight.

A salutary side-effect of this frugalness though, has been that it HAS made me/us more aware of the amount of water we use – and that’s gotta be a good thing. I’m in the habit now of turning the tap off when I clean my teeth. When I bathe the kids, I no longer fill the tub as much as I used to. So, hopefully, I’m saving money AND doing my bit for the environment.

In the film Meet The Fokkers, Dustin Hoffman explains to Robert DeNiro in one scene that they try to conserve water. The rule when it comes to using the lavatory is “If it’s yellow, let it mellow… if it’s brown, flush it down.”

The Masher household hasn’t quite reached that stage.

Yet.

Home Alone

Today, Mrs Masher has taken the kids to CenterParcs for the week.

I’ve been looking forward to it as much as they have, as it means I get a bit of a holiday as well: no having to rush home in time for the missus to go to work; no having to bathe the kids and get them ready for bed; no being stuck indoors all night, unable to visit friends.

I can come and go as I please. For a whole week.

And I’m bored already.

I have so many things that I can do… so many things that I need to do. But suddenly being out of a routine has thrown me and I’ve found myself at a loss of what to do. Consequently, I have mainly just vegged out in front of the telly tonight.

I’ll have the hang of this by the end of the week though: by then I’ll be used to having my batchelor’s freedom back.

Just in time for them to come home.

Down that London

Just spent a marvellous weekend (sans kids) down in that London with the current Mrs Masher.

Saturday morning, we got down there and did a little shopping.
Dumping the bags off at our hotel on Oxford Street in the afternoon, we made our way down to the Dominion Theatre to see We Will Rock You – the Queen musical. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then I’ve always been a fan of the group. I found Ben Elton’s storyline a bit contrived (well, it had to be really) but the music more than made up for it. They sang 37 Queen hits – 23 had to be left out in order to keep the show down to 150 mins!
Anyway, after that, we changed and went out to dinner, at Smollensky’s on The Strand. Three-course meal, bottle of wine, couple of beers. Very nice.
This morning we had a lie-in and made it down to breakfast just before closing, then went out and did some more shopping – well, Mrs Masher did: I went and spent a happy couple of hours in Waterstones.
Then we made our way home.

And how much did all this cost me? The hotel? The show? The meal? (forget all the bloody shopping.)

Zilch. Nothing. Nada.

I won it. I won it all. In a cheese competition.

I feel compelled to go out and buy a quarter of Norwegian Jarlsberger right now, just to say thankyou.

But I won’t.

… in with the new

Blimey, it all happened a lot quicker than I was expecting.

Here’s the new site…. needs some work on it yet – I have plenty of tinkering to do.

Gotta try get my head round PHP now as most of this template is written in it.

I’ll be adding more pages, to get it back to how it was(ish), over the coming weeks… and I may yet change the layout altogether. We’ll see.

I’ve tried importing all my old posts, but it ain’t working. Oh well.

Gotta go now, I have a headache.