Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Medical notes

Welcome to the House of Many Ailments. 

Today, for your entertainment we can offer:

1)  Hideous racking coughs, often with choking and gasping.  The special extended remixed version also features a weak hand pressed to the sweat be-dewed forehead, fluttering eyes like a Victorian heroine dropping into a swoon, followed by effusive swearing.  "Fucking hell.  I am SICK of this FUCKING COUGH." 

Medical advice:  Try not to suffocate, hold onto something solid and wait for it to pass.  And cut down on the swearing. 

2)  Explosive sneezing.  For best effect this happens completely out of the blue, loudly, and for several minutes, leaving the sneezer exhausted and spume-speckled.  The other person in the house must shriek "Will you STOP DOING THAT!" once they recover from their shock. 

Medical advice:  Stay out of the blast radius and make sympathetic noises afterwards to try and mask the shouting you did initially. 

3)  Snot-related trauma.  This often follows the sneezing, and is exemplified by the victim having to run to the nearest box of tissues (we have them in almost every room in the house at the moment) and making noises which would only ever normally be heard in a film about alien slime monsters.  It's like a Giger drawing being interpreted through the medium of sound. 

Medical advice:  Stand clear and make sure there are plenty of tissues at strategic points throughout the house.  And wastepaper bins. 

4)  Headaches. These are vague and usually shortlived, but render the victim incapable of doing more than flopping weakly on the sofa and flicking savagely through the TV channels, hissing through their teeth at the paucity of quality entertainment available at 11am on a Wednesday.  

Medical advice:  Turn off the TV and suggest they take the recycling out.  Fresh air is good for headaches. 

5)  Aches and pains.  These come and go, depending on the level of interest in other stuff going on in the house at the time.  For example, whilst watching a good film, nothing.  All limbs are comfortable and fully-functional.  However, when pottering around in the kitchen, looking hatefully at the accumulated debris of the past ten days it is imperative to walk with bent knees, one hand pressed to the small of the back, shuffling like an aged chimpanzee with advanced gout. 

Medical advice:  The offer of a cup of tea and a mince pie can work wonders.

6)  Knife wounds.  Always at least one of these in the house at any given time.  The sufferer will move through the various behavioural stages of Panic, Dismay, Relief That It's Not Worse, Grouchiness, Forgetfulness and finally Bragging.  During the Forgetfulness stage there will be several incidents where the wounded appendage is knocked or bashed, causing the sufferer to swear and hop about. 

Medical advice:  Ice, pressure, elevation, tea, sympathy, exasperation and finally mockery.

And remember, always ask a trusted medical professional if things seem to be getting too dull.  They always have loads of gruesome anecdotes. 

The entertainment value of injuries may go down as well as up.

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Today you get a photo bonanza*.  It's a rather eclectic mixture, as I haven't uploaded stuff from my camera for a while.  Lucky old you, eh?

In chronological order we have:

1)  The festive decorations outside the garden supply and aquatic shop.  The deer are there all year round, Santa is a seasonal addition.  I think the red noses are also seasonal, but to be honest I am not sure now I look at it again.

2) A seemingly innocent diorama spotted in the window of a charming dolls house shop in Chichester.  I did a double-take, then sneaked a photo.  Whoever dressed the window is a genius. 

Yes, she is wearing a basque and stockings.  And, as Mr WithaY pointed out, her nipples are very realistically painted.  Sorry about the flash bounce but you get the idea.  I think everyone ought to go and buy miniature furniture and whatnot from the shop by way of applause. 

3)  Some rather impressive icebound cobwebs on a garden ornament at Father-in-law WithaY's nursing home.  It was on the day of the Terrifying Ice.  At least it was pretty. 

I did a close-up as well, it was so beautiful. 

Like Narnia.  But in Wiltshire.

4)  Fish!  We have more fish in our tank.  Today we went and got some freshwater shrimp, which move at the speed of light around the tank; all the other fish are shit scared of them, it seems.  They will eat algae and help keep the tank clean.  We got five of those, they are very pretty, and, despite being fish, very appealing. 

We also got five Leopard Cory, which zip about like mad things, often crashing into the shrimp.  They also eat algae, so we will have the cleanest tank in the world, with any luck. 

Just in case we don't, though, we got a glass cleaner thingy which is powered by MAGNETS. I feel like a super-villain now.

I took more, but Mr WithaY has banned me from using the flash so they were all blurry and shite.  Sorry.

5)  Readers of a nervous disposition may wish to look away at this point. 

As I have mentioned previously, we have the remains of a large roast turkey in our kitchen, along with half the population of the UK**, I imagine.  Look:

Mmm, leftovers.

I decided to make a curry (using the Malasian curry mixes sent by Middle Sis), duly donned an apron, picked up the carving knife, and set to with gusto.

Too much gusto.

See that single slice through the leg joint at the top of the picture there?  If you look closely you will see*** that there is a finger-shaped gap in the underside of it. 

I literally made the first incision, the knife slipped and I made a huge deep cut in my left hand index finger.  Fuck me it bled.  There was blood on the floor, on the butchers block where the turkey sat, on the edge of the turkey plate, on the knife, on my slippers, in the sink.  None on the turkey, though. 

I ran to the sink, put my hand under the cold tap, and shrieked for Mr WithaY.  He was cleaning the fishtank gravel so had to stop that, dry off and then run into the kitchen to see what was going on.  His first question was "What have you done?"   I thought it was fairly obvious, what with the huge fuck-off knife and all the blood, but no.

The knife in question:

It's about 10 inches long**** and razor sharp.  Given my track record, I am lucky I didn't manage to stab myself in the head with it, I suppose. 

Mr WithaY was initially very sympathetic, but has more recently taken to waggling his stump at me and making "But did I tell you about this?" noises at me if I whinge that my finger hurts. 

So.  No curry making.  I sat on the sofa and watched the original version of "Miracle on 34th Street" instead.  Much nicer. 

Cold turkey for supper, I think. 

*Sorry, no cowboys though.

**I mean half the population also have cold turkey in their kitchen, not that half the population of the UK is IN our kitchen.  That would be inconvenient.  We'd run out of chairs after 8 of them arrived. 

***No you won't.

****15 if you're a bloke.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Compliments of the season

Hello!  Season's Greetings and all that jazz.   Hope everyone is having a pleasant time. 

We've been having a very quiet Christmas here, which has been (and continues to be) lovely.  My hideous racking cough has diminished, although every now and again it creeps up on me, leaving me wheezing, teary-eyed and panicky.  Mr WithaY has gone down with a merry festive head cold and has spent much of the Christmas period so far on the sofa with a box of tissues and the remote control to hand. 

No relenting on the Christmas tree thing, and to be honest, I've not missed having one.  When we were getting all the boxes of decorations out of the loft it felt like only a few weeks since we put the things up there, so maybe a year off will make us appreciate them more next time.

The fabulous free-range turkey was cooked to perfection, along with half a pig's worth of chipolatas, stuffing and bacon.  We managed to get through about 1/50th of it at lunch yesterday, so I can see a few curries in our future.  Fortuitously, Middle Sis and family have sent us some very interesting looking Malasian curry mixes, so we can try them out.

This is the first Christmas I think I can remember where neither of us got books as gifts.  In years gone by, I would get the new Terry Pratchett, and then spend Boxing Day reading it, but over the last couple of years I have been very impatient and bought them when they come out, rather than waiting a couple of months till Christmas. 

We did, however, get lots of DVDs, so we have spent the last few days sitting on the comfy sofas watching them.  Oh, and chocolate, which was handy whilst watching the DVDs.  The new Star Trek is still excellent, and I still want to run away and join Starfleet.  

It's thawed out now.  Tuesday and Wednesday were terrifying.  Coming back from a neighbour's house at about 11.30 at night, everything was covered in thick sheets of ice.  It looked as though a hose had been turned on over everything, and then allowed to freeze solid. 

Walking home was the most scary thing I have done for many years.  I walked along on the grass where I could, clinging to fences and gates all the way, but I had to strike out across the roads a couple of times, and it was really just luck that I didn't end up face down on the ice.  One of our friends was less fortunate and took a slip and tumble on the way to the party, giving herself some very nasty bruises in the process. 

Anyhoo, Mr WithaY was helpful, offering me his arm (which I refused on the grounds that if I was going down I would only take him with me.  Such a hero, me) and some sage advice on how to walk on ice.  You have to "straddle, and walk crabwise" apparently.  At one point I was in the middle of the road, feet slipping wildly, not making any forward progress, when a car turned the corner and headed towards me.  I stayed where I was, unable to get out  of the way, convinced I was either about to break my nose/head/arms on the ice, that or get run over.  The car slid to a stop, and the driver very kindly waited till I had got myself off the road before continuing slowly on his way. 

We went to see Father-in-law WithaY and the roads were like ice rinks, even in the Landrover we were sliding about.  But everything is thawed out now, thankfully. 

Other news:  We have fish in the aquarium!  Some little glowlight tetras, which are small and pretty, and very entertaining to watch.  We started off with eight, but one of them didn't make it, and had to be scooped.  The remaining seven are settling in, chasing each other all over the tank, sometimes swimming in a shoal, sometimes all off in different directions.  They seem to like the pipe where the water comes out of the pump/filter thingy, and queue up to take turns at being pushed away by the flow. 

I like it when they all gather in the corner of the tank and watch the TV.  You can almost hear them: "Ooh, CSI!  I haven't seen this one."

Tomorrow we are going to get some more fish, which hopefully will survive the trip home.  I think barbs are next on the list, but we will take advice from the nice young man at the aquarium supply shop.  Mr WithaY did the science stuff today, testing the pH and so on, and everything was ok for a new tank.  The plants are doing well, so we are taking that as a good sign.

It's all very pleasing, watching the fish.  And good for the blood pressure, apparently.  Just as well after three days of TV-watching and chocolate-eating, really.   Aaah Christmas.

Monday, 21 December 2009


It's snowing!  Hurrah!  We may have a white Christmas.

Spent today down at my lovely Mum's house, which was very pleasant, despite everyone still coughing.  We sounded like a Fourteenth Century peasant re-enactment group* as we walked through town, hacking and spluttering.  Also popped in and visited Youngest Sis and family, including their two new dogs, both mental Jack Russells, but very appealing with it.  

We chickened out and left Sussex a bit earlier than planned, as the weather was closing in.  I am jolly glad we did.  By the time we got to Southampton the rain had turned to sleet, by the time we left the M27 (look on a  map, American readers) it was snowing hard, and getting foggy.  Nice combination.    We arrived home about 6-ish, it kept snowing heavily for about three hours, and has settled.  Or "pitched" as the locals might say.  Well, the locals I worked with in Bath, anyway. 

If it freezes overnight it will be a bit hairy driving around tomorrow, but other than a trip to the supermarket for provisions, we are pretty much set now.  If it is still nice and snowy tomorrow, I suspect more snow animals could be in the offing.

I have not put a tree up this year.  We** got all the decorations down from the attic, and then decided neither of us really felt much like doing a tree, so we have put up a few little bits, and the rest is still in the box.  I might relent and put the tree up but if not, it doesn't matter.  We are spending Christmas at home, just the two of us, for I think the first time in 8 years, and as a result we are doing as we please. Which means being a bit lazy, it seems.

I might make some sausage rolls tomorrow.  I might not.  Ha! 

I like being a grown-up.

*Well, what I imagine such a group would sound like.  Singing Gaudete and spitting a lot.

**Mr WithaY did.  I don't do ladders due to my mighty bulk, and fear of falling.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Setting up

So, we have a fishtank in the sitting room.  No fish yet, because the tank has to acclimate first, or they will die.  DIE! 

It took a fair old bit of setting up.

First we had to put the cabinet into position, with a layer of special squishy expanded polystyrene under it to protect from frost.  Or electric shocks.  Or maybe earth tremors.  I wasn't really listening at that point. 

Then the tank itself, carefully lowered into place by Mr WithaY and I, making sure it was level.  Mr WithaY's spirit level has been much in evidence this weekend.

Once the tank was satisfactorily in position, we added dirt and rocks.  Not just any old dirt and rocks though.  Special Fish Shop dirt and rocks.  Also a background, so the fish don't press their noses to the back of the tank and comment disparagingly on our choice of wallpaper.

After that, there was the artful placing of Big Rocks and Wood.  Again, specially bought from the Fish Shop (I have a feeling they are going to see a lot of us), then thoroughly scrubbed by Mr WithaY to ensure no fish-killing germs are left clinging to them.  He ignored my suggestion that we use bleach.

Once the dirt, gravel, rocks and wood were installed, we could add plants and water.  No fish though.  Not yet.

Hmmm, maybe a bit more water than that?

That's better. 

Now we have to wait for all the sediment to settle, the filter system to get going and the water temperature to get to the required level.  That will take about a week, and then we can add a few fish.

It's all very exciting.

Other news:   I still have a cough, but I feel much better than I did, so, all in all, an improvement.  It's been snowing here today for the first time, not much, but the roads are white.  I expect it will have vanished by morning.  I hope so, as we are driving down to visit my lovely Mum for the day, and driving all the way in snow would be a pain in the arse. 

Also, I made a huge lasagna for dinner tonight, which was bloody excellent.  I can't remember the last time I made one, and it was a very satisfying thing to do for an hour or so on a cold afternoon.  Plus we got a fab meal at the end of it. 

Saturday, 19 December 2009


It's been a busy day today.  I am feeling much better, despite coughing till my eyes fall out several times an hour, and to celebrate we shifted furniture about for a while.  Well, I say "we".  In fact, Mr WithaY did it and I flapped about behind him with a duster. 

Oh, reader, the filth!  The FILTH.  We live in disgusting slatternly surroundings, despite the best efforts of the Staff. 

Why are we moving furniture? You may well ask. 

Is it because we are playing some large-scale Chinese puzzle game with the entire house?

Is it so we can get into those really tricky corners for a good hard clean?

Is it so we can finally measure the exact internal dimensions of the sitting room?


We are getting an aquarium.

It is our Christmas present to ourselves, and we are very excited about it.  It will be a tropical freshwater tank; we plan to get lots of small shoaling fish, hopefully ones which will flit about appealingly and not try to kill each other.  We had a  place for it all planned out, till Mr WithaY read one of his new "How Not To Kill All Your Tropical Freshwater Fish Instantly" books, and we learned that the place we had planned to put the tank was almost exactly wrong. 

We readjusted our thinking and decided on the diametrically opposite corner of the room, hence the need to move furniture.  Oh, and now there's nowhere to put the Christmas tree*.  Bugger.

We collect the tank on Sunday, get it set up, and a week after that we can introduce the fish. 

"Fish, tank. Tank, fish." 

Other news:  We listened to the last hour or so of the last ever Terry Wogan breakfast show this morning, and I had a little tear in my eye at the end of it.  Yes, I know.  But he has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, usually in the background to the early morning getting ready for school/college/work panic, and I will miss that.   Not that I listened much of late, either being on the train and unable to, or in my office at home with Planet Rock on, but hey, it's the thought that counts. 

Oh, also:  I saw this, and I agree. It is a tricky ethical area.

*We're really late with everything this year.  If we carry on at this rate, it will be about February before we get the tree up, and August before the mulled wine and sausage rolls make an appearance.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Ahhh, winter.  The time when all of Nature seems to slow down and sleep for the colder months.  The time when even the little birds in the trees seem sleepy and lazy.  When the plants in the garden furl up and die rest.  Even the light is washed out and tired, pale and disinterested. 

The only exception to this bucolic placidity would appear the be the bastard rats in our garden.  They are getting extra-specially busy.  Perhaps they are swept up in the excitement of the pre-Christmas rush.

I bet they have made"to do" lists:

1)  Run out from under the shed and frisk round the garden (Note: only do this after Mr WithaY's Landrover has left the drive.)
2)  Climb into apple tree and gnaw on remaining apples. 
3)  Remember to glare into the kitchen window while doing this.
4)  Avoid the rat traps.  Especially the one in the top of the compost bin.
5)  Continue with Project S.
6)  Ignore the bread spread with peanut butter outside the shed.  It's another trap. 
7)  Buy kevlar vests.
8)  Get in touch with the mole and remind him that he is spending the rest of Winter with us.
9)  Have a word with the robin about the meaning of the word "Sharing".

I have broken their code.  I know what Project S is all about.  It's about gnawing a hole in the floor of the shed from underneath so they can get in there and play with all our stuff.  I fully anticipate seeing a team of rats riding my bicycle* round the garden before Spring. 

The garden, incidentally, which is being gradually converted from a moss-infested dank wilderness to a tidy, fertile home for all manner of fruits and flowers.  I planted raspberry canes the other weekend, before I went down with the Black Lung.  I also planted up the big stone trough with Spring bulbs, so with any luck we will have tulips, irises, crocuses, hyacinths and narcissi.  Assuming the resident wildlife doesn't start using the place as a snack bar, of course. 

I saw a squirrel in the apple tree again, he was tucking into the peanut feeder we hung there for the birds.  He stopped stealing nuts for long enough to stick two fingers up at me, then went back to his thieving.  Mr WithaY recently saw a rat in there too, calmly eating one of the apples without a care in the world. 

Earlier today I saw a woodpecker on the same feeder, tucking into the nuts.  We've also had blue tits, coal tits, great tits, wrens, sparrows, jackdaws, greenfinches, pigeons, collared doves, starlings and a crow.  Oh, and the scary robin.  He is a terror.  All the other birds seems to be afraid of him, and I can see why.

Other news:  I am on the mend.  Hurrah.  I am still coughing like a pauper from a Victorian workhouse, but the pain in my chest has lessened and I don't think I have a temperature any more. 

*And, to be honest, that would be the first time it has been ridden in 8 years.  Anyone want to buy it?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Hack, revisited

I'm ill.  Very, very ill*.  So ill, I might even up and die**. 

Must be nearly Christmas.  How do I know?

It's because I have my annual chest infection.  Hurrah for the good old seasonal traditions. 

It started last Wednesday, made itself properly felt on Thursday, and has me coughing like a wiry old docker with a 60-a-day habit.  Knowing from bitter experience that the only thing to shift a chest infection for me is a course of terrifyingly powerful antibiotics, I made an emergency appointment with a doctor for Saturday morning.  He listened to my chest, looked down my throat and up my nose, said lots of sympathetic and encouraging things, then prescribed me a week's worth of erythromycin.

I looked up the list of possible side effects, and rather wish I hadn't now.    One of them is "temporary deafeness." 


So, my chest hurts where my "big tubes" are infected.  My lungs hurt.  My back muscles are sore from coughing.  My head aches from a mixture of the deep, echoey coughs and the lack of sleep.  My throat is sore from barking like a seal.  My stomach is decidedly dodgy from the antibiotics.  Not deaf yet though. 

We had a long-planned dinner party last night.  Mr WithaY and I had been preparing for it for several days.  The food looked lovely.  The wines were well-chosen.  I'd even made a chocolate bread and butter pudding.  Delicious. 

Our mates arrived and a good time was in full swing.  I made it through the starter and half of the main course before feeling so awful*** that I had to take myself off to bed.  Half past nine on a Saturday night.  Ever the perfect hostess, me.


I have to go into London tomorrow for a meeting, because it is one that I have already postphoned once, and really can't again.  I will go in late, come home early and hope that I don't distress too many people with my hideous, racking cough while I'm there. 

*Not that ill, truth be told, really.

**No I won't. 

***Really, really sick.  Another delightful side effect of the antibiotics.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Lord of the Pings

Hello!  Were you missing me at all?  I can't believe it's already Thursday, and I haven't hardly* been here since the weekend. 

Where have I been, readers?  Why, I have been to London, working like a slave.  A SLAVE, I tell you.  And Bristol, which was less toilsome, and rather more relaxing as it is half the commute that I normally do.  So hurrah for Bristol.

Today I had to take my work laptop to the office** to get it fixed.  It has been temperamental of late, shying at connecting me to the work system, and dropping me off the edge of the intranet world and into the offline abyss at random. 

Why?  I have no idea.  I knew I wanted it fixed, though.  So, I lugged my ancient laptop all the way to the big city, then phoned the IT helpdesk. 

"Bring it to the tenth floor" they ordered. 

"Ok..." I replied.

"Do you know how to get to the tenth floor?" they asked me.

"Why yes, of course," I replied, breezily, confidence flooding my very soul. 

But no!  It turned out I didn't.  I had assumed that you just got in the lift and pressed the button marked "10". 

No no no.

You get in the lift and go up to the NINTH floor, where you disembark, looking furtively around to make sure you aren't being followed. Then, carrying your laptop, you make your way through the offices on the ninth floor, walking briskly and purposefully.

When you get to the far end of the office, you find a small secret door, hidden behind some cupboards.  You walk through the door, keeping your eyes tightly closed, or the enchantment fails, and there is a magical stairwell, leading up to the secret IT room on the tenth floor. 

Up the secret stairs, through about fifteen fire doors, where you half expect to end up out on the roof, and there is the IT office door.  Finally! 

You open the door, peering into the room cautiously in case there is a Watcher At The Gate made of cables, or some other technology Balrog to bar your entry.  Peering around the stacks of cardboard boxes and cages full of dead and dying computer equipment, what do you see?  It's those rarest, shyest and loveliest of creatures, the IT Helpdesk Trolls. 

They all turn, like synchronised swimmers, perfectly in time with one another, and fix you with their chilly basilisk stares.  This is rapidly sucking the will to live from you, so you hold your broken laptop out like a talisman.  Their eyes immediately shift to the computer, and they point wordessly to the troll in the corner, who will fix it. 

You have to creep deep into the bowels of the office, approaching the laptop specialist.  The other trolls return to their own screens, whispering arcane mysteries into their headsets.  I think I catch a few words, right on the cusp of hearing....."Switch it off...and on again...ok, how about now?" 

It's truly educational.

I fled back down ten flights of stairs to the land of the living, and waited for them to call me back, which they did a short while later.  I will find out tomorrow if it really does work, or if they were just dicking with me.

And being dicked by an IT troll is not something I think any of us want to be thinking about. 

*Living in Wiltshire is rubbing off on me

**In London.  It was bloody heaving, what with it being two weeks before Christmas and all.  Gah.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Shopping list

Mr WithaY is out, wandering the wide open spaces of West Wiltshire, somewhere in the rain.  Where can he be, I wonder? 

Possibly sat in his Landrover stuck in a huge hole that even his mighty entrenching tool can't remedy? 

Possibly up a tree, clinging to a branch with a pack of snarling stoats after his blood, desperately trying to get a signal on his mobile to call for an airstrike*? 

Possibly sneakily shopping in Salisbury, buying me a fabulous Christmas present? 

Possibly sat in someone else's kitchen, drinking tea and eating cake?

I have no idea.  He'll be back eventually.  Given his track record, I am always slightly apprehensive if he's gone for more than a few hours, but fingers crossed, eh. 

I decided to Get Stuff Done, so went into town** and ran errands like a woman possessed.  I have ordered us a turkey for Christmas from the local butcher.  A free-range bronze, which sounds like it will be mighty tasty.  As the butcher was filling in the order form I asked him "It'll be dead, will it?"  He looked up at me for a moment, not quite sure if I was joking, then said "No, madam, but it will be in a box.  You'll just need to get it out and kill it."  He then did an exceptionally good mime of a man taking a live turkey out of a box, upside down.  If he gives up butchering the man has a career in alternative theatre just waiting for him.

I bought Christmas cards.  We decided this year we are not sending out hundreds of cards, but instead will make a donation to charity.  Most of the cards we get are just "To Name and Name love from Name and Name (and Name and Name and dog.)"   I always try to write a message in every card, because otherwise it seems like a bit of a waste of time, to be honest.  Anyway, we will send out some cards, but far fewer than we usually do.  I will have to make more of an effort and actually ring people to talk to them. 

I went to Lidl.  Ahhhhhh Lidl.  What a great shop.  You can get anything in there, if you turn up on the right day.  Today they were offering electronic keyboards, brioche pans (I bought one), slippers in a huge range of styles and sizes but only one colour*** and a drummer's stool.  A seat, I mean.  For sitting on.  Oh, and a nice little wooden cabinet with a glass-inlaid door.  Well, that's what I thought it was.  Turns out it is a box to keep tea bags in, but I like my idea better.  Anyway, I bought one.  I can't resist their weird bargains. 

I bought a couple of bottles of their Champagne which is usually not half bad, and some cheap brandy as the Christmas cake has finished all ours.  Greedy bloody cake that it is.  I swear it's started moving around the kitchen on its own, rummaging through the cupboards and mocking my crockery.

Where else...Ah yes. 

I went to Argos, as we needed a new iron**** and I can't be arsed with looking at stuff in electrical shops for hours.  All the Argos catalogues were open at the Wii pages, which I thought was funny.  I left a few open at the Ironing Accoutrement Pages so that people will think "Some poor bastard is in for a miserable Christmas present."  Heh. 

Other news:  I have been learning to play the acoustic version of "Hey Ya", the Obadiah Parker version.  Look it up on YouTube if you've never heard it.  Lovely.

Oh, and a mate put me onto Jeff Healey, who (shamefully) I had never heard of.  Disgraceful, I know.  What an astonishingly talented man. 

Unfortunately, though, when I see people who can play guitar like that it doesn't inspre me to become as good as them.  I just think "Why do I even bother?" and think about selling all my guitars.  I won't, but it is interesting to see exactly how uncompetitive I am in some areas.  Whilst still being dreadfully, inappropriately competitive in others, of course. 

Right. Time for a cup of tea.  I love Saturdays. 

*This one's my favourite idea.



****Rock and Roll, man!  Rock and fucking roll.

Creative cookery

There was a great story on the radio today.  People were sending in tales of how they had cooked meals anyway, after discovering they had run out of a key ingredient.  Using salted peanuts in a chilli when they found they had no salt, that kind of thing.

Someone sent in a tale of how they were making a lovely stew.  Mmmmm stew.

They made the stew, and then prepared to make the dumplings.  But oh no! No suet!  And we all know a stew isn't a stew without the delicious suety goodness of dumplings.  What to do?

Apparently the hapless chef looked out of the window at the bird table, and had a dreadful, dreadful idea.

He ran outside, grabbed the block of birdfood suet and brought it into the kitchen.  He shaved off the "dirty bits", then grated up the remainder to make dumplings.  And only told his wife what he'd done several days later, when it was all eaten up. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hair raising

When I was on the train home the other night, amid the usual crowds of commuters, a gentleman came and sat in front of me.  Not something I usually pay much attention to, as the train is intended for the use of more than one person. 

In an ideal world I would have my own train, with a comfy sofa and an endless supply of entertaining and educational dvds to watch on the journey in every day.  I could learn other languages, or take a Masters degree, or become a silversmith.  I assume you can do all those things by watching someone else doing it?  Anyway, if not, on my perfect train, I would be able to. 

I'd also have a bed to snooze on if I didn't feel up to the rigours of education so early in the day.  Oh, and good books.  And some tropical fish in a huge aquarium for me to look at. 

There would be fresh flowers every day on my train, and a proper cooked breakfast served to me by a proper chef in a tall hat.  And a spa with a huge bath, and maybe a hot tub for the trip home, so I could arrive back all relaxed and fragrant.  And a hairdresser, a dry cleaner and an old-fashioned wise-cracking shoeshine chap to keep me smart without having to do it myself. 

In fact, sod it, let's just put my office in it and I'll work there too. 

Sadly, reality is far crueller.  The train is a packed, stuffy, uncomfortable mass transit system that gets me to London more or less on time, most of the time.  As an added bonus, if you live West of Gillingham, this week you'd be stuffed into a bus for a big chunk of your trip, due to a landslide blocking the train tracks.  Travel in the 21st Century.

Anyhoo, this bloke who sat in front of me.  Why did I notice him?