Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Grandchildren: they Rock! We Roll!

To grandparents it's a joy to look after your grandchildren. Tiring but educational - we learn a lot.

Only this week my 4 year old granddaughter securely enthroned in her back seat in the car obviously misses nothing. I'd missed my turning though and before I could turn the car around another car appeared from nowhere. I uttered annoyingly "Blinking car!" I waited for a clear road and tried again. But before I could manoeuvre, another car approached at speed. "Another blinking car granddad!" she accurately stated from the back. I'm so relieved that my language was luckily very modest.

My two year old granddaughter is obviously destined to be an artist. We took her to McDonald's and I think she may have been there more times than us as she knew all about the kids' crayons and drawing paper - we did not. To add flavour to her portion of chicken nuggets and fries we opened her tiny carton of tomato sauce and thinking she would be happy munching into her meal, munched into our burgers.

I looked round after a while to check that she was enjoying her grub and found that she was really enjoying herself. Not eating but painting: dipping a chip into the tomato sauce, using it as a paintbrush and making sweeping brushstrokes onto the paper in vivid red tomato sauce. We didn't take the masterpiece home to stick on the wall - and it would have too. But maybe we should have as in artistic circles it would probably be considered very creative and would definitely win prizes.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Television Dramas




 I enjoy some of the current drama series on the tv but do get confused with the actors that sometimes appear in simultaneous productions. Identifying the the correct actor to the correct character to the correct drama can be a problem. There seems to be quite a shallow pool of actors that get fished out for all the best parts.The same actor might be a serial murderer in one drama (literally), a detective in another and giving birth in another; a man in one drama, a woman in another drama, a chimpanzee in another and an alien in another - all scheduled in the same month. With all the TV gismos we now have it's very easy to record several dramas and to have a playback pick n mix on our memory bank. And when you select to watch an episode at a later date it results in a who's who mind game to place the correct actor to the correct show. Meanwhile you've missed the action, lost the plot and have to rewind and recap.

Monday, 14 August 2017

ONLINE SURVEYS




What’s bugging me right now are those requests about products you have bought or services used. You receive an automated online survey by email to complete. ‘How did we do?’ or ‘We’d appreciate your feedback’ they crave. ’It will only take two minutes’ it lies, they take forever. It’s all automated and they are very annoying. There is never a way of making a specific point of your own, especially a negative one. Most seem devised to receive a pack on the back, not a boot up the backside. I mostly delete them on arrival but one where the service I received was excellent, deserved some praise I thought. It was page after page, mostly asking about their call centre staff. But it was their man who visited to sort a gas problem out I wanted to praise. Sadly there was no way to do this. I could praise the person who first answered the phone to me, but not the person who rectified the breakdown. I persisted however: ‘You’re nearly there’ ‘You’re nearly there, honest!’ it encouraged. It then arrived at the point for the information it really wanted to get from me in the first place: You’re profession? Are you married? Your earnings bracket? Do you own your own house?  And as a finale asking how would I would describe my home: comfy? toasty? snuggly? ‘B***** idiots!’ I yelled, and that’s exactly how I’d describe them - if there was a way to do it online that is. I cursed their stupidity and my gullibility to have even gone this far. DELETED! Never again. Never!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Natural Born Pest Killer? Not Me!

Natural Born Pest Killer? Not Me!

As an ex farmer I had a survival mentality regarding pests on the farm. However I didn't go shooting all and sundry with a shotgun, spending trigger-happy hours camouflaged, blazing away. In fact, although I did have a small .410 bore shotgun. I only used it twice in ten years for pigeons, but missed both times by a mile. I didn't allow much rough shooting on my grassland farm but did give permission for two villagers, each on a mission to shoot pigeons or foxes. Pigeons weren't a problem, or rabbits, but after a fox massacred 40 of my free-range hens and left their bloody and headless carcasses strewn  over a half mile radius  I gave permission to the foxy one to go a hunting. He spent several weeks,  perched in a tree every night, overnight. And he finally shouted up at my bedroom window at five in the morning to display his trophy - a handsome red dog fox. 'Ok if I keep it?' he asked. 'Yes please' I yawned. So I killed by proxy. I'm obviously not a natural-born killer.

These days I have a suburban garden and the pests are smaller, but equally hard-hitting. I used to kill wasps on sight, but apparently they are now good insects, killing other insects that eat or maim plants and pollinating, so I now have a live, let live and avoid wasps philosophy. 
Not so with slugs and snails: I squish and quash, trap, drown, get them drunk and poison them with little conscience. It's a messy job, and I've got to do it, no-one else in the family will. 
But I'm getting soft in my dotage. Killing these creatures is bothering me. Yesterday I sat on my patio in the sun with a cup of coffee in my hand, watching an elongated black slug slithering towards a pot of enticing young seedlings. It had visited there the previous night - threadbare stalks were left as evidence. As I watched it get nearer and nearer its succulent goal I knew what I had to do, but I really didn't want to be its executioner. Finally and reluctantly I plucked up courage, picked up a brick and did the deed. Crunching snails is having a similar effect on me.
I spoke to an irishman who was in my audience recently, and he told me that as boys back in Ireland, they used to earn a few bob from the local farmer. They had to crawl on hands and knees through root crops, pick out the slugs and squish them between their forefingers and thumbs. He had to admit that the work was extremely messy and unenjoyable.
Not for me definitely.
And here's my slug dedication to Doug - my pet slug (Illustrations Don Mann)





Monday, 22 February 2016

Plumber Anyone?


This Blog about water leaks is not on the same scale as the recent catastrophic flooding in parts of the UK obviously, but all the same, having a bathroom leak soaking through to the kitchen and a complete central heating breakdown in the same week was high on my personal shortlist of household disasters. It was all sorted out by a very competent plumber and equally competent central heating engineer, all covered by insurance I'm relieved to state.

However, in a previous year I was not so sensible and chose not to have insurance cover. And this is my recollection.

We had a dripping bathroom tap. The cold one. It had dripped for seven years, but now it was threatening to break into a run. I had to act. Popping down to the DIY store for washers and packets of EasyTapfix and Stoppatapdrip, I returned fully equipped. I was looking forward to enjoying future baths piping-hot from head to toe – not with a freezing left foot, courtesy of that dratted tap.

After an hour, punctuated by frequent cups of tea, banging my fingers with a hammer and swearing, the job was done. The tap still dripped of course, but as my wife generously said: ‘At least you tried’.

I had a similar problem with an overflow pipe sticking out of my roof. It had been dripping constantly due to a leaking ball valve in the water tank in my loft. I knew this because I had a look-see about a year before. It had been very useful this drip however, it saved me no end of time and effort with the watering can: the potted plants that live outside under the overflow have enjoyed constant irrigation and boasted luxuriant green foliage.

The problem with drips is, tamper with them and they get worse. That’s why I leave well alone. The previous week my overflow drip had accelerated into a meaningful and urgent piddle, so I had to act. I had a spare ball valve stored in my shed for about 20 years for emergencies just like this. And to cut a long story short, replaced it, completing the job efficiently and successfully. I boasted to my wife that she hadn’t made a mistake – I really was the macho protector of the household after all. I made frequent visits to the garden with any members of the family around at the time to observe the overflow not overflowing. We were all impressed.

Alas, some are born to DIY, some aspire to DIY, some have DIY thrust upon them - and some are just plain useless. Two hours later the kitchen had developed a flood. When I had turned the stopcock off/on it had somehow sprung a leak. Water from the mains was now oozing in, and turning off the stopcock made no difference. But as my wife again generously said: ‘At least you tried’.

My helpful water company said: ‘Not our problem’. A plumber said after a short pause to calculate the spending money he’d require for his Bahamas holiday cocktails: ‘£100 for the first half hour’. And I said: ‘****!!!***’.  I decided to wait until after the weekend when I could find another plumber who holidayed in Yarmouth and drank bitter.

Down to the DIY store again and I take advice about temporary plugging leaks from an assistant with even less DIY savvy than me. So I bound the offending pipe with bandages saturated with some revolting sticky stuff that hasn’t worked and I’d been mopping up for two days. 


Why didn’t my daughter marry a plumber? Why didn’t my daughter train to be a plumber?  Why isn’t one of my sons a plumber? Or indeed, why didn’t one of my sons marry a plumber?  I don’t have any friends that are plumbers either, why am I so bad at family planning? There are many unfortunates like me out there. We have to rely on the Yellow Pages, classified ads, calling cards put through the letterbox and cross our fingers.  

The result: a plumber with a heart answered my prayers, probably the only one in Christendom. He gave a free estimate and eventually made out water system water proof. Maybe they ain't so bad after all!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Most Embarrassing Moments

Most Embarrassing Moments



We all have embarrassing moments. Some of us more than others. I’ve just compiled a list of my most embarrassing moments and I’m up to number 197 – and that’s not bad for one week! I’d like to tell you about my embarrassing moment number 197: it would definitely feature in any Television ‘The Top 50 Most Embarrassing Things Bob Has Ever Done’ compilation.

I try to keep fit, in a lazy, stop, start sort of way, and drive nimbly to the fitness centre, one mile away whenever the guilt overwhelms me. This tends to be about once a week, or sometime less. I cane a selection of machines, run and row, committing my stomach to an hour of humiliating and very public wobbling, and then drive home, sweaty and not nice to be near for a luxurious soak in my own comfortable bath. After this I fall asleep, utterly exhausted for the rest of the day. For the remainder of the week I can live righteously on the experience, and bore all my friends, family and work colleagues as I relate how I achieved nine pull-ups with just the one break for a drink and a posing session at the cold-water fountain. Then cap this by boasting of out-sprinting a lady on the adjacent running machine while she was engrossed, discussing her fitness programme with a rather too young, over-muscled and square jawed I thought, physical trainer.

On the morning of my 197th I was in a rush. I squeezed on my Lycra sportswear and an odd pair of socks and grabbed a towel from the laundry basket heaped with the family’s fresh-dried clothing, then I jogged through my front door to the car.  I parked outside the leisure centre, wrapped my towel up into a neat roll, and then strode through the entrance to pay. At that moment, from the corner of my eye,  I noticed something dangling from my towel. I looked down. I was agape. It was a pair of sexy pink panties.

There it is then, my 197th most embarrassing moment. You cannot explain away something like that; you would only dig yourself further into the hole you had prepared earlier. So I said nothing, turned about, strode back to my car, opened the door, glanced around the car park to make sure that I wasn’t being observed - and removed my panties. 

When I said that I removed my panties, I’m sure you know what I mean. Subsequently I concealed the panties under my AA road atlas on the back seat, making a mental note to return them to the laundry basket immediately to avoid further complications, and then went back to commence my work out.  This you will agree was very embarrassing moment. To think that just a few days earlier, I had walked the mile to town wearing a pair of combat trousers from the said laundry basket with a pair of women's tights swinging from side to side stuck by the Velcro on my back pocket. (That was my embarrassing moment number 196 by the way.)