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A couple of quick notes; firstly, I have just noticed I have been absent since the middle of April. Not sure what happened there. Secondly; this post is likely to only be of interest to people with children, others may struggle to know what the hell I am banging on about.  For this I apologise.

So, here I am sat on my sofa waiting for my daughter to finish the long, slow, laborious process of eating a spready cheese sandwich before we go to her Tuesday afternoon dancing class.  The TV is on; a children’s channel showing daft cartoons and my daughter is engrossed. The programme of choice is called Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.

Its actually a pretty amusing, kooky sort of programme about elves and fairies living at the bottom of a garden in a tiny little kingdom, the main protagonists being a king and queen fairy and their daughter Princess Holly and a family of elves (mummy and daddy elf) and their son Ben.  On the periphery of this bunch are the two best (in my opinion) characters; the Wise Old Elf and Nanny Plum.

i’m not going to go into any more detail; I’m not a critic and you probably don’t care.  On to the point (such as it is) of this post.

I found myself genuinely curious and concerned about the future of the little kingdom earlier, and for good reason. Here is why;

All the fairy children are little girls named after a plant (Holly, Strawberry, Plum, etc) and all the elf children are little boys (with rather more traditional names).

Lets just hope for the sake of the little kingdom that they have the same physiology.

It’s not that I think it would be wrong for elves and fairies to mix; on the contrary it will undoubtably improve the evolutionary chances of success…but what if they can’t reproduce? What if they have the same chances of reprodution as, say, a human and a chimpanzee. Similar enough in many ways; completely incompatable in many others.

That’s it; the end for elves and fairies (at least in this particular kingdom).

It’s worth thinking about anyway, but it is a subject that has yet to be addressed within the programme itself. I will continue to await the episode…

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So today I am mostly going to stay well away from social media.
This is because I know I will just get annoyed and frustrated by people’s opinions of what is happening today in London; namely the funeral of MT.
I consider myself to be fairly apolitical, in much the same way as I am atheist.
The smug self satisfied self serving right wing will all be bleating on at any opportunity today about what a great lady MT was, forgetting the destruction she wrought over massive areas of the country.
They will claim she was strong willed and stood her ground unlike modern day politicians, that her policies saved a once great nation from economic ruin.
They will deliberately forget to mention, or more likely just not care about, the many people who lost jobs, homes and lives because of MT and her aggressive politics.
Meanwhile the left wing will be pouring out a disgraceful tirade if abuse at what amounts to a dead old lady being buried. Celebrating in the streets, drinking champagne and having a party because someone you didn’t like has died is pretty low behaviour.
I voiced this opinion recently and got asked if I believe that it was wrong for people who lived under Gadaffi to celebrate, or any of the other brutal dictator regimes for that matter. After a little bit of thought I came back with a yes.
You see MT was no dictator, she won three general elections. Many people liked her policies and her politics.
But mainly to celebrate the death of someone, another human being, well that doesn’t sit right with me I’m afraid. Sure, be happy that they have gone; if you have lived your life under a brutal dictator and then they are gone, well that must be fantastic. Celebrate your freedom, not their death.
I am fortunate enough to not know what that feels like; oppression. So maybe I’m wrong
But one thing I do know; to avoid getting bloody annoyed at people fawning over the death of a politician (see previous post Death of a Celebrity) they didn’t know or celebrating the death of a sick old woman, I’m going to attempt some will power today.
See you all tomorrow social networkers.

Ps; I’m still in bed at the moment. It sounds wet outside. I may stay here.

I have just returned from my daily dog walk.  I can confirm that, currently, the fields of Hertfordshire are not too muddy and fairly pleasant for an hour or so strolling.

The last part of my daily “chore” is about a three quarter of a mile walk along a road back to chez Mavis.

There I was, dog lead in hand, swinging a bag of dog poo gently in the other, when a car pulled up next to me heading in the same direction.  I turned to look, expecting to see the usual parent-lost-on-way-to-childrens-sporting-endeavour four wheel drive that has stopped me countless times over the last five and a half years.

What I didn’t expect to see was a taxi.

“Hello mate, I’m trying to get to Dunstable”, said a bright, friendly, bearded face.

“Um. OK”. I said, shrugging.

“I need to get to Dunstable”. Less of a smile this time.

Me, smiling wonkily, “Right?”

“…Dunstable?” Hopeful.

At this point I’m thinking “but you’re a taxi driver”, or “where’s Jeremy Beadle?” (I know, I know).

“Well go on then”, I said.

“Is it close then?”

“No. It’s about ten or fifteen miles in that direction”, I said, gesturing roughly. “It’s miles away”, I confirmed helpfully, laughing a touch.

“So I just go down the road and go right, yeah?” More hope.

“Er, no.  You, it’s. No. You’re miles away”.

I wasn’t prepared to start going into ‘end of road, go left, bottom of hill go right…’ etc etc with him.  He was a fucking taxi driver.  A TAXI DRIVER. Surely he can find a town.  Struggling to find an out of the way country house, or a flat or abode in a daftly numbered estate or some such thing; fine. But a whole entire town? Really? Ludicrous.

“Just head towards Whipsnade Zoo”. I said, most helpfully.

“Okay!” He said.  He seemed happy again and drove off.

Am I being unreasonable? Is this idiotic? Why couldn’t he buy a map? Didn’t he have a satnav? Or a phone? What is going on?

This isn’t the most idiotic taxi-based story I know.  The other involves an Australian friend, a stag do in Scotland and a taxi home, but alas is not my story to tell.

Something sinister is afoot. Dark deeds are being perpetrated and unseen evil forces are moving amongst us.  Silently, on four soft ninja-like feet, they do the bidding of Satan.  Otherwordly. Deadly.

Pure evil in a fur covered fourlegged strolling about all cocky and SHITTING IN MY FRONT GARDEN form.

Cats.  That’s what we’re talking about here.

There is a cat that lives somewhere near me and the little bugger regularly digs up part of my front garden and does a little cat poo.  I don’t find it very pleasant.  In fact, if really fucking bugs me.

I don’t even really blame the cat, to be perfectly honest.  I know it isn’t sat at home right now plotting it’s next pooing mission, or moving little poo or cat figures around a map of my garden and laughing maniacally like a demented dictator.  It is just a cat.  He (or she) is more likely licking itself, or sleeping, or coughing up a furball or dropping dead animal remains on a bedroom floor to be trodden on bare foot.  Horrible little shit bag.

Oh, sorry.

As you may be able to tell (or if you have read previous posts, may already know) I am somewhat of a dog man.

I take my dog, a faithful waggy tailed soppy great Labrador, out for excerise once if not twice a day.  One of my jobs on these walks includes the fairly revolting task of inserting my hand into a small plastic bag and picking up the horrific smelling produce that comes out of the rear end of the beast.

I have to pick this up and carry it with me until I find a suitable place to dispose of it, which means that I am, for a short time, carrying a bag of shit with me.

I don’t mind this really, although I feel the need now to point out that I do not enjoy it.

What gets me is this; I have to pick up my dogs rather large and disgusting smelling poo whilst the unknown cat of doom can meander onto my front garden, dig a little bit and do its business then bugger off and I am left with cat poo on my front garden.  Plus, I have also had to pick up poo.  It just seems so unfair.

So I have a plan.  I am going to, ninja style, spy on my front garden so I can identify the feline villain, then follow it home.

When I know the location of the evil feline base I am going to deposit bags of Stanley poo on the front door step.  Tonnes of the bloody stuff.  Bags and bags of pure Labrador poop.

Then sit back, steeple my fingers and laugh.

Unless anyone has got any good suggestions as to how to discourage this feline behaviour that does not involve harming the poor little fucker.

 

Or not, as it happens.

I have made a rather startling discovery today; I CANNOT bake.  Not for love nor money or, as it turns out, cake.

I am utterly at a loss to explain this strange phenomenon.  I can cook fairly well, I can read and I can count.  Putting these simple elements together should mean I could piece together a basic Victoria Sponge whilst following a non-too-complicated recipe, should it not?

But alas.

I tried, initially, to make a really simple chocolate sponge.  Following a recipe I found on the BBC website what I made came out looking basically like two large flat biscuits.  It was chocolately, but not that impressive. It should have been this;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spongecake_1284

The best part appears to have been my daughter, who got to “clean” the bowl with her tongue.

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Actually, I thought it may have been my fault for adding the cocoa powder.  I have been assured that this should not have made too  much difference.

So second I thought I’d do a nice Victoria Sponge from a recipe book I found on our bookshelf that belongs to my wife.  The book is called British Baking by Peyton and Byrne.

Well it can sod off, I can tell you.

I followed the recipe TO THE LETTER and guess what?  I had to leave it in the oven for double the alloted time, plus turn the oven temperature up.  AND IT STILL DIDN’T BASTARD WELL COOK. check out the photo.

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So it appears my career as a master baker is much shorter than I would have suspected. I ended up with this though;

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I have just watched the film “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas”.  About six months ago or so, I read the book.  I was moved by the novel; a small work but packed with emotion and feeling all wrapped around a part of history we all know and seem to have an unstoppable thirst for.

The film was ok,

I know; the book is always better.

But here is why the film was just ok, in my opinion.

Firstly, they all spoke English. I really really think that it would have been so much more believable in German with subtitles.  I don’t often like subtitles..if I want to read I’ll pick up a fucking book; if I want to switch off for a bit I’ll put on a movie.  But this would have been so much better and more emotional. It really would.

Second; in the book it was entirely from the small protagonists point of view; Bruno led us on his adventures with a fantastic innocence.  This was lost a little bit in the film.  It didn’t make it feel like it was us watching Bruno…it was more watching the family and in this lost a little bit of the childish innocence that allows the plot to unravel in the way it does in the pages of the book.

Mostly though, the movie just missed the mark slightly untill the swift, dramatic and tragic ending.  Standing in the rain aware of what has happened, the father cuts a distraught figure.  There is a scene where we just see a door.  It’s a few seconds long; just a door.  We know what has happened on the other side of this door and it makes it quite powerful.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, it was just, well, ok.

But what the hell do I know?

Watch it if you fancy it; read it if you have the time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkzIC_bwxT8

Today as I took the dog for a walk I saw a sight you don’t see everyday.
A group of school children, on their way up the hill to the local secondary school. A couple of them had modes of transport; a bike, a skateboard tucked under an arm.
One of them was very competently riding a unicycle. What a terrific effort. He was only about ten or twelve years old. It just struck me as it isn’t a regular thing to see.
More people should ride unicycles, or penny farthings….

In other news, if any of you would like updates to your email accounts when I blather on about any old rubbish then there should be a little “follow” option on here, bottom left. Just in case.

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Or bottom right, even…

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Since my childhood I have always been a little bit of an ideas person.  I’ve had loads of (what I consider) to be great ideas in my life. Some people would disagree with me on this and say that most of them are idiotic, at best.  But that’s just their opinion.  And they’re wrong.

Take for example my idea of a mobile cooling machine.  A classic, if I may say so. Basically it involved carrying an old car door around with you, with the window done up.  The idea here is if you get hot you just open the window and allow the air to flow, thus cooling you down.  It works in my car, ergo…

Actually you know it doesn’t have to be an old car door at all, you could get a new one if you wanted, or even one of those really modern (in the nineties) ones that open upwards.  It’s up to you, although obviously old and used ones will be cheaper.

You see some people would suggest that this is a daft idea.  I like t think of it as unusual, yes, but just thinking outside the box.  Thinking five dimensionally, as I like to say (I’ve never said that before, I just made it up).

Another of my awesome ideas is for a home-based reality TV programme.  You’ve all seen them before; person goes out, team of people arrive and decorate entire house/garden, person arrives home and looks surprised/delighted.

Well mine would be called “Surprise Gardeners” and would have a little bit of a twist. Basically a team of people would hide in someones garden and when the said person goes into the garden, they all jump out and scare the crap out of them.  They could dress up, or hide in wierd places; the possibilties are endless.  It’s sort of Jeremy Beadle meets Charlie Dimmock.

As I said, I’ve got loads of ideas me.

Ideas I have had as an adult include;

  • Squintissentials – a series of photos of quintissentially British scenes done out of focus so the veiwer has to squint.
  • The Adventures of Mavis the Ninja – where I dress up as a ninja and perform really basic household chores, or go shopping to Waitrose or walk the dog.
  • Shit Pub Gardens – a book documenting pub garden failures around the country.

Personally I think there is mileage in all of these. Check out my Mavis the Ninja first attempt at the top of the post (an introduction).

So no stealing my big ideas, ok? I’ll be a millionnaire next year…

If everybody had stuck to this rather sensible advice from The Bard then we wouldn’t have banks.
In particular the situation where I was in a mood in a bank trying to close an account and being told by an obnoxious jumped up branch manager not to shout and then having to explain I wasn’t shouting I was just louder than her, and besides if she hadn’t stomped out from the back of the branch to talk to me I would already have managed to leave and would in fact be outside by now would not have happened.
So now I have to go back to Santander next week in my free time to close an account that in the last couple of months has cost me a small fortune mainly due to disgraceful charging policies on account of the aforementioned bank. I’ll admit, my money management isn’t great, but with charging policies that mean they can charge me when I go over a limit because they have charged me what fucking chance do I have?
In short; I hate banks. If I could keep my small amount of money under my bed or in my wardrobe I would. I don’t like being forced to give my money to a bunch of incompetent unreliable and untrustworthy buffoons, but such is life.
Okay, deep breath. Rant over. As you were.

So we’re nearly at March already. How did that happen? Haven’t we only just had NYE?
Anyway they say as you get older time goes faster. Or is that as you get older you’ll get up in the night for a wee more often? I forget. Apparently age also affects the memory, but I can’t remember who told me that. Also, I may get up in the night for a wee more often. And my memory may go, too.
Right, stop that.
So my daughter is three years old in a couple of weeks. Flippin’ ‘eck. I cannot believe how fast 2023 is going. Apparently as you get older time goes faster…
I’ve had an up and down year so far; a swift and unplanned change of jobs, a twelve week scan (eeeeeehh!) and guess what?
I’ve only gone and bloomin’ well started to do a bit of writing haven’t I?! It’s all a bit naff so far I think, but I have actually done a bit of planning, plus a little actual writing. It’s very exciting (for me at least).
Anyway that’s all I’ve got for now, plus I don’t want to bore anyone. You’ve all got lives to lead, plus I have a cup of tea to finish.
Have a good one folks!