Monthly Archives: October 2013

I don’t like parsnips

CDC parsnip

CDC parsnip Wikipedia)

You can choose to either hum “Dreadlock Holiday” or “I don’t like Mondays” as you are reading this.   I’m going with the Boomtown Rats.   It fits the mood more closely.

Facebook used to be my playground.   A place to survey they antics of friends who live far away and to post potentially amusing one-liners about what I have been doing and what I may possibly be doing in the very near future.   I have moved on somewhat and pay only the occasional visit now, I’ve been taken by the longer narratives and tales from around the world (in places I am unlikely to visit) that I find on WordPress.

I did pay a visit to Facebook last night.    I’m afraid that I lost it a little bit and used some language that I wouldn’t be happy to use in front of my mother, or my son and possibly even anybody in the world who knows me.

The problem is with the “haters”.   The particular post that made me flip was a comparison between rugby players and football players.   It wasn’t the first time that the gentleman in question had posted such a thing but for some reason last night was the final straw.  A picture depicting 5 silhouettes, four of them marked as different positions played in rugby and one showing an image of Tinkerbell labelled “footballer”.

I don’t mind that the chap doesn’t like football.   I follow football, rugby, cricket and pretty much any sport that I can get to see.   I do very much mind that he is so sad that he feels the need to denigrate the passions of other people and imply some sort of weakness or frailty because of his blinkered and damned near homophobic views.

He isn’t the only hater.   It seems that one can’t turn around in this country without encountering bitterness and anger towards somebody.   I don’t really know if it is generated by a jingoistic press or a general island based xenophobia but so many people put so much effort into hating when they would be better served by putting that same energy into something positive.  Anything positive would do.     Instead of spending countless hours complaining about an influx of immigrants or joining in with the creeping horror that is islamophobia do something good for goodness sake.    Build a playground for the local kids.   Trim an elderly neighbours hedge, stand for election and change things through a proper democratic fashion, just stop whinging and hating.

Meantime, I really don’t like parsnips.   They smell wrong and taste too sweet for their own good.   That doesn’t mean that I’m going to force my opinion on you about them and encourage you to eat swedes instead.  That would be very wrong of me.

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Lost for words

Medieval dentist removing tooth

Medieval dentist removing tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to the dentist.     Every time I go to the dentist (or more accurately, every time I leave the dentist) I think to myself “Why on earth when they had career advice day at school didn’t they say ‘son, be a dentist'”.

My dentist is at the top of a leafy residential Twickenham street.     It would be unfair of me to name them but think of a small republic on the eastern Mediterranean just to the south of Syria and just to the north of Israel and you’d be close to finding their name.

Because they are in a residential street, parking is limited and those of us who are not residents are obliged to pay a fee for the pleasure of laying up our cars for half an hour or so.   This is where the financial outlay starts.   The parking meter is cunningly scaled in 1o minute slots at a ridiculously unconventional price per 10 minutes, it’s something like 47 pence for each slot.   Of course the meter has no facility to provide change.

I play a little game as I enter the surgery.   My little game is called “How much?” and it goes like this.

I’ve opened the door – That has cost me nothing.

I’ve spoken to the receptionist.   That’s about £20.  Now I can sit down and read one of the many (usually up to date) newspapers left around the place.  That will be another tenner.

One thing that I have learned is to avoid making eye contact with the hygienists as they pass through reception.   I don’t think it is my imagination that they have a heavier tread than the rest of the staff.   You can hear them approaching, a heavy footfall and the eery electrical whisper of their dentistry gowns.    They affix each waiting patient with a glare and should they catch your eye there is a knowing smile playing around their lips that you know means “I recognise you and because you don’t floss four times a day plus after each meal you are going to be in so much trouble when I have you strapped to my chair”.   I tend to sit with my head bowed, engrossed in an newspaper article relating ten ways to avoid bloating during the menopause (or something similar).

A positive about the  dentist is that they are nearly always running on time.   An emissary arrived who cheerily called my name and led me (not by the hand, although I did feel the need for comfort) into the dentist’s chamber (I’m not convinced this is the correct term but it fits so well).

There are pictures all around the walls.   I don’t understand this at all.    I expect the dentist to be devoting her time to staring into my mouth, not being amused by prints of yachts sailing into sunny harbours.   The patients obviously can’t see the bloody things because we are horizontal and staring at the ceiling.    I can tell you exactly how many holes there are in the grid of the A/C unit in the roof of the dentistry chamber but not one of the artists of the pictures.   I think the place would be better served by sticking the pictures on the ceiling (but that’s only my opinion).

The dentist said “So what can we do for you today?”.   I always think there are two appropriate replies.   Reply number one being something along the lines of  “Fleece me for every penny I have” and reply number two being “You’re the bloody dentist and you made the appointment – you tell me”.    I’ve never quite plucked up the courage to say either but one day…

The dentist did know exactly what she wanted to do to me today.   Inflict pain and misery.   Unusually for her though she decided to go for mental pain and misery rather than the physical type.    Some time previously I had lost a molar (I hadn’t actually lost it, it wasn’t like I went for a walk in the park, tapped my mouth absentmindedly and thought “where have I put that tooth?”), the top of it had been removed because of some enamel crisis that I hadn’t previously been aware of, leaving me with a root and a gappy grin.

The dentist had kindly offered to provide me with a crown (I was briefly very excited, king of Twickenham sprung to mind) to make me look less like an ageing pugilist and more like a movie star (admittedly, not MUCH more like a movie star) but before doing so I had to have a deep root filling.   This deep root filling could only possibly be performed by some gentleman in a Harley Street practice (why is it a practice?  I would prefer them to be called totallycompetents or something equally confidence inspiring) and so I had spent a four figure sum (before decimal places) having some bearded halitosis-ridden buffoon spend three hours filling my mouth with plasticine and then drilling a hole such that a troupe of Chilean miners could cheerfully escape from their deep mining of my maxilla.

The dentist needed to x-ray the root before making the mold for the crown.   I don’t know about your dentist but this involves me biting on a gag-inducing piece of plastic wrapped lead whilst the dentist and her assistant hide behind a wall.  It’s quite amusing that the lead for the x-ray machine remote control isn’t quite long enough to reach round the wall so there is always a hand protruding to press the button.   I have visions of the dentist going home after a long week of fillings with a slightly glowing hand.

X-rays produced and on a screen (that I also can’t see because I’m still on my back fighting back a retch whilst gripping the armrests of the dentists chair and the dentist has one hand in my mouth restricting any movement of my head at all) and dentist said “Oh dear”.

It seems that somewhere during the dental dialogue the depth of the depression in my damaged denture had become disrupted.   The filling was exactly 1 mm shorter than it should have been.

I was a little bit cross.   What I really needed to do was to pour forth my wrath in a string of obscenities and decry the parentage of every dentist in the world.    The only thing that I could do was bite the hand of the dentist.  So I did.  Quite hard.  She wasn’t impressed at all but it did give some satisfaction.    The only problem is that I have to go back in a couple of weeks and I’m dreading the reception that will greet me.    It is only for a check up but once they’ve got you strapped in that chair anything can happen.

You can read other tales of how people have expressed themselves (or not) by clicking on this daily post link.

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It’s frankly quite absurd

Do you want the good news?

Well, do you?

Thought as much.

All that time that I thought the boy was wasting in his bedroom has actually been put to good use (sort of, I think, tell me if you agree).  He has been playing a game called Minecraft.   I must confess to knowing nothing about this game other than it seems to be exceedingly popular and quite flexible in what you can do with it.   So, he’s been messing around and he’s set up a server of some sort and he’s made some mods (or something like that, I’m not actually clear on the details) and he’s posted a copy of what his thingymajigs do on YouTube.

It seems that he’s built London.   Out of what looks like electronic Lego, and you can ride around it on an electronic Lego horse.

How useful is that!

A horse

The remarkable thing about this is that he’s making money from it.   At my last check (13:45 on 18th October) there had been 133,884 people view the YouTube thingy and close on 5500 people had given it the thumbs up.  There have been 45k downloads from his site and countless other downloads from other sites and YouTube are actually paying him advertising revenue.    That is astounding I think you will agree.  It makes his little video thingy approximately 45000 times more popular than my most popular ever blog post.  I was so pleased that I forgot to eat my lunch.

As the proud father of a fledgling games developer I rushed to show work colleagues.   They, like me, have absolutely no idea what minecraft is but hey!   The boy done good.

The trouble is, it has introduced a niggle in the back of my mind.   There’s stuff out there that I have no idea about.   I’m not thinking nuclear physics or sailing a three masted schooner.   It’s the electronic things that make up the lives of the young.

There’s so many things!    I am just old enough to have missed out on playing computer games and so I have no concept of what happens inside (or outside, come to think of it) of an Xbox or a playstation thingy.    I can sort of understand the concept of all of the wireless things that run around my house but making them click together?

I had a music centre.   I know, it’s not a music centre.  It’s probably an multi-function audio playback device or something.  It was a music centre.  A radiogram with a record player.  It also had a wireless connection in it and a hard disk drive so that you could fill it up with music and “never look at a CD again” –  This isn’t necessarily a good thing as I mentioned here but I spent many a painful hour putting the Abba to Zeppelin onto the hard disk.   For a few months it took me about an hour to find the bits of music that I wanted and then for a few months more I could actually listen to the music that I wanted to when I wanted to and the little screen on the music centre showed the sleeve of the album that was playing.   Brilliant!  Sadly my planning was slightly askew.   I didn’t consider the asparagus fern sitting above the music centre and it seems that whilst the asparagus fern really liked to be watered the little electronic device beneath it was not so appreciative.   There was a fizz and a bang and the kitchen was silent (but a little bit smoky and with a vague smell of electrical burning about it).    I don’t have courage to purchase a new one.   It’s far too bewildering.

My computer at home has a touch screen.   I keep forgetting this and occasionally will flick away a piece of dust that has settled on the screen.   This fires everything on the screen to the left (where it presumably falls off the screen, bounces along the desk and ends up on top of my guitar).   I really don’t know why I have a touch screen when I have a perfectly good keyboard and mouse.

Anyway, I bet that the boy could probably build an entire electronic Lego planet with a touch screen.   He may even be able to expand into a new electronic Lego universe that has jet powered horses and music centres that grow on trees so you have to water them.    I’m not going to let him use it though, it will end up with fingerprints all over it.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/daily-prompt-incredible/

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The kids are alright

The daily prompt suggests that today be designated “Person X day” and I can choose who person X is.   This is going to be tenuous to say the least!

Regular visitors will know from a previous post that I am left handed.  This is causing me some grief at the moment I have a poorly arm or possibly a wonky wrist.   It may be that it is an erroneous elbow or even a malfunctioning shoulder.

It all started back in July.   I have no idea how or why but I awoke with a pain in my wrist that could only be alleviated by moving my arm in a similar sort of way to that of a ventriloquist with an extremely active dummy.    The pain likes to migrate from time to time.  I have a vision of my arm as a tiny and rather idiosyncratic  savannah and the pain is a herd of Wildebeest wandering around looking for the best place to graze.

I decided to visit the doctor to see what was going on.   Bless.   There was a new doctor at my surgery.   It could be that I am just getting that syndrome whereby everyone looks a lot younger than expected (I think it is called old age) but goodness me, she was barely out of school.   One giveaway was the One Direction poster on the wall next to the eye chart, I didn’t really know whether to offer up my arm for examination or ask her when her mum was coming back.

I was provided with an array of tablets to make the swelling go down (I think it must have been invisible swelling of some sort, or maybe it was similar to those sounds that only young people can hear, I couldn’t see anything) and told to come back if it hadn’t gone away in a month  (the pain, not my arm, I’d be in a right pickle if my arm went away without me).

The pain didn’t go away (I’m not sure about the invisible swelling, it seemed to improve but who can tell) so I re-visited.   This time with a lollipop and a teddy bear to get on her good side.        It seems that I need to see a physiotherapist.   No problems.   I can do that.  I’ll wait for the call.

So on Friday I received the call to arms (so to speak) from what sounded like a toddler and was summonsed to “O” building to see the physio.   As I put the phone down the pain went away.  Just like that.   No.  More.  Pain.

I thought it best to visit the physio just in case.   She was (possibly) the younger sister of the doctor.   To be fair she was very professional and knew all about the bits that make up my arm but it was a bit disconcerting that she had a Pepper pig plaster on her finger.   I’m hoping that it was the only plaster available and not that she believed that Pepper would kiss her wound better than a band-aid would.    She is of the opinion that I have been overworking my arm and some of the tendons have been damaged (readers of  the other blog will know of my propensity for repeatedly hitting things with a large hammer) and so I must rest it.   I have a splint and some rather pleasing exercises to do.   One of them (would you believe) involving a glossy magazine.   I fear that her image of how my arm had become overused was somewhat different to my own.

In summary, I nominate the toddler who made the phone call to me that made my pain go away.   The NHS should be cloning her and putting the clones on every telephone in every hospital in the country.  Happy telephonist day.

Please take the time to look at the other posts on the daily prompt. They are always worth reading and never as ridiculous as mine.

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Five get wet in Richmond

Sue and Polly wanted to go swimming.    “Gosh, Polly” said Sue, “How spiffing it would be to splash around in the water for a while, shall we go to Richmond Park?”

Polly wasn’t so sure about this, “We should take the boys as well, then we will be safe should we meet any strangers, especially ones with foreign accents, or a patch on their eye, or a limp”.   Sue agreed and send a text to Willy and Billy  – “swm @ rchmnd lol up4it?”.

Willy and Billy were brothers who lived in a nearby mansion.    They often played around with Sue and Polly but because of an incident once involving some carrots and a donkey they were always accompanied by their friend and carer, Uncle Bob.   After checking that Uncle Bob was free Willy texted back to Sue “Yah lol. CU@l8er”.

Polly packed a picnic and they met up at one of the ponds in Richmond ready for a swim.   The sun was shining and there was lots of birds in the water.   “I say” said Billy, “Are those tits?”.    “Don’t be silly” said Sue.   “Tits don’t go in the water, I think they must be kingfishers, now let us get our costumes on”.

The gang ran behind some bushes to get changed.   Willy and Billy on one side of a little causeway and Polly and Sue on the other.   “We can see you getting changed” shouted Polly merrily to the boys, followed by a shriek from Sue – “Yikes, I’m wet already!” as she slipped on some mud and tumbled over.

The four of them rushed into the water.    “Crikey” cried Billy, “It’s awfully cold,  Look!  Willy seems to have gone all wrinkly and small”.   They all looked and laughed because Willy had indeed shrunk to half his normal size.    Billy grabbed Polly and ducked her under the water and then swam powerfully away, his golden head cleaving the water as he avoided Polly who went down and came back up spluttering.   “It tastes awful” she said, “do you think we will be safe if we swallow it?”.

After a healthy and vigorous session in the water they all agreed that they should investigate the contents of the Polly’s hamper.   “I’m famished” said Willy, “I could eat a horse”.    They all looked at Polly but she explained that the delicious pork pie had come from the local butcher and so was probably made entirely of organic pork.     They all tucked into the tasty feast and then Sue surprised everybody by revealing a muffin she had brought along.   “Who wants some of this” she cried and they all tucked in.   Even Uncle Bob had a little taste of it.

All i can say is – Blame the Daily Prompt for making me think of Enid Blyton.

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Ain’t no sunshine

Bill Withers was chuntering on about missing somebody.  I think (I haven’t checked the Guinness Book of Records) that the song holds the record for the most repeated phrase in history.   By my reckoning he sings “I know” 23 times in a row.   I know.   It is sad.  You can perhaps envision me, eyes closed, singing the song in my head and counting on my fingers.

The sunshine in West London has vanished.   I generally expect (I have some experience in this) summer to gradually blend into a cooler but still pleasant autumn and then for autumn to slowly turn down the heat so one gradually dons more clothes as each day passes.   This year it seems that somebody threw a switch on Monday evening and suddenly I’m dressed like an Alaskan (not Sarah Palin though, I’m thinking more rugged and fur wrapped).

I think I know what caused it.   This is obviously speculation and I wouldn’t dream of laying the blame squarely at the feet of any adults who I may share a house with so I will just lay out the facts and leave you to draw your own conclusions.

The temperature started dropping at 19:35 on Monday evening.   At 19:40 I received a phone call from my beloved.

“Hi.  I’m in an ambulance”.

I am sure that you will agree that whilst this is certainly an ice breaker when it comes to opening a conversation it isn’t necessarily what you want to hear when:

  1. You’ve just poured your second glass of wine.
  2. You are waiting for somebody else to cook your dinner.
  3. You have just settled down to watch the end of the film you recorded the previous night.
  4. It is your partner on the telephone.

I should add that the above list is not in order of importance at all.  Definitely not.

It seems that whilst out for an invigorating and healthy run there had been a tumble (no doubt caused by a stray leaf being in the wrong place at the wrong time) resulting in a trip to A&E and several stitches to repair a wound described as “Down to the bone” (not be me I hasten to add, it was a qualified medic who said that).

In retrospect I find it hard to believe that the tumble and the fall in temperature are not related.   My partner is of a naturally sunny disposition and I think that she watched her knee bleed she also subconsciously caused the temperature to drop by rightly being upset at not being able to get home in time to prepare our evening meal (I know I’m safe in saying this as she never reads the blog).

So now you know who might be to blame for winter arriving so suddenly.   Just in case,  I would like to apologise on behalf of my family for the rapid deterioration of the weather and offer my personal condolences to anyone who had planned the week off to tidy up the garden before it gets cold.

To be fair, I like the coming of the cold.   There is a crispness about the mornings (I’m always mentioning crisps in my blogs – My personal recommendation are Tyrell’s crisps, there’s a family link). I love the way my local park changes from a verdant wonderland to bleak and brittle.    I like the way toddlers are dressed up in warm clothes such that their shape changes to resemble a little round ball with rosy cheeks shining out.   I’m always a bit surprised that my wine tastes swing from from white to red and I much prefer the hearty stews and big tasting meat dishes to the slightly whimsical summer salads that I’ve been eating.    The curious thing is though that come April I shall be saying exactly the opposite and welcoming the coming summer with just as much anticipation.    I suppose that must mean that I am lucky to live somewhere with such varied seasons.

I suppose I should mention that the stitched knee is getting well again and will soon be able to help control the vacuum cleaner.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/daily-prompt-seasons-2/

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A total turn off

Woo hoo!    I’ve made it to the top of Google search.  An absolute and definite first on the list.

Close up image of analog color screen

Turn the TV on (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may remember in my last post (about adverts on the internet) I tagged “Rhino slasher porn”.   In a moment of quiet contemplation I thought I would search for this phrase to see what happened.  Now it may be that the internet has already noted that I  (or maybe this computer) have an interest in such things and as such presents me with items most likely to attract my attention.  I’m not complaining, it worked for me.

The Daily Post wonders what we do when we turn off the glowing boxes that are our constant companions.    It made me consider first of all what glowing boxes are there in my household that grab the attention.    There’s a raft of computers (not literally, you couldn’t set sail on them like Thor Heyerdahl did on Kon Tiki did.  You’d find yourself very damp if you tried that), there are a couple of TV screens.   One is used for TV viewing and the other one seems to be involved in a permanent Call of Duty battle that also seems to elicit far more conversation from the young combatant involved than anything that happens around the dining room table.

There’s a bunch of mobile phones (again, they’ve not been picked from the garden and are stuck in a vase, that would be silly) but at least one of them is permanently on and likes to chirrup away merrily at the amusing thoughts posted all over the internet by sundry acquaintances.

So lets turn them all off.   Here comes a targeted power cut that stops everything with a screen from working.   Three, two, one…

Well.  We’re not going anywhere in my car.   There’s a little screen that controls pretty much everything that happens.   I touch it for information and I touch it for music and I touch it to tell me how much fuel I have left.

There’s a thud.   That’ll be the boy fainting at the thought of not being connected to anything.   If he’s banged his head I’ll Google the correct way to bandage him up.  Oh.  Wait.  No I won’t.

There are lots of things to do whilst we have daylight.    I can happily potter around on the vegetable patch.    It was sadly neglected this year just after planting and so I’m finding all sorts of curious things that I’d forgotten I had planted.  I spent a good chunk of this weekend clearing an area for planting next years garlic and onions and I found a whole row of purple carrots and the best part of two dozen parsnips that I’d forgotten that I had planted.    There’s also a little motorbike that I’m working on that keeps me quiet for hours so I’m going to be as happy as Larry whilst the sun is on the correct side of the planet.

Night time may prove more of a challenge.   I’m fortunate enough to not own a kindle or similar so I can definitely read a book if it takes my fancy as they don’t require a screen.     We could perhaps play board games (the boy calls them bored games, he is such a wit).     The last family encounter with a deck of cards ended up in an unfortunate situation involving a bowl of peanuts (ostensibly being used as coinage for gambling) self-propelling across a table and having an unfortunate and ultimately terminal encounter with the corner of a dresser (that’ll be a piece of furniture, not Tom Courtenay pandering to Albert Finney’s every whim).

We are fortunate in our house that we can manage to carry a conversation on for hours.   Admittedly the many strands of conversation don’t necessarily relate to one another but that just goes to make it more entertaining.     I am sure that I’m not the only  person in the world who has taken part in a conversation that goes like this.

“I’ve just finished the paintwork on the bike”

“We need some milk.  What colour?”

“Did you see that article in the newspaper about children who are working from the age of 6?”

“I think Liverpool are going to finish in the top four this season, do we have any milk?”

“Can I get a lift over to Kingston ”

“Buncie on COD got shot 4 times in about a minute.   I’m dropping him from the team”

“Red”

“I’ve been working since I was 4”

“Go and get some milk then”

So I don’t think we will actually struggle too much when the screens are turned off.   One of the big benefits may be that there will be no CCTV to record the carnage after several hours of us behaving naturally

.

There will be others with a far more entertaining view on “Unplugged” at the Daily Post page.  Why not while away the hours by reading their visions (providing you can find a screen that works of course).

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