Category Archives: rants

Boom boom

I was thinking of John Lee Hooker with that title.   I was going to go with “Boom boom boom boom”, which is how the song starts, but then realised that was also the title of a Vengaboys song and I just didn’t want to go with trashy europop.  Now I’ve just remembered Basil Brush (you lot not in the UK are going to have to get on your Google) so my vaguely hip subject line has been hijacked by an irritating fox with a hand up his arse.

I happened to notice the daily post email that presumably arrives in my inbox every day and doubtless gets cleared out by my energetic spam checker.   It suggested “Clean” as suitable subject matter and it brought to mind an incident or two last week.

You may remember that I’m not the best sleeper.   It’s been mentioned numerous times on here, go back and read some of my other posts for an in-depth analysis of my nocturnal misery.   I was safely ensconsed in my bed, cosy against the bitter cold of a West London winter (so not really that cold) when a rhythmic beating disturbed my slumber.

Boom, boom, boom, boom.

I checked the clock.  It was just after 2am.   This is a usual time for me to wake up on my own so I was quite cross to be awoken by external influences.

Boom, boom, boom, boom.

I thought perhaps somebody was trying to break in.  It wasn’t a very subtle attempt to gain access and a moments thought made me realise that any burglar worth his salt wouldn’t be so noisy.  I’ve been woken in the past by a broken gas main, or rather the chaps who decided to search for one.  They have a gadget that bashes holes in the floor, it also produces a steady and constant beat but the timbre was all wrong for that.

Boom, boom, boom, boom.

The only thing to do was to investigate.   I donned the Verbal Hedge equivalent of a silk kimono and went in search of the boomer.

The youngest was on the decking in his pyjamas.   The door to the decking wide open, allowing icy blasts of Twickenham air to whistle up my trouserless legs.   He was banging a football boot on the decking.   Boom, boom, boom, boom.

“What on earth are you doing?” is an approximation of what I said to him.    “Cleaning my boots before training tomorrow” was the absolutely obvious answer.   His cleaning method involves bashing the boot on the floor until all of the mud from between the studs has left the boot and landed on my (previously clean) deck.   I reached for a convenient tent peg and showed him how to do the job quietly and thought that would be the end of it.

Two nights later…

Boom, boom, boom, boom.

It was earlier, around midnight.   i was crosser, almost steaming.   I stormed down the stairs, passing youngest on the landing and getting ready to give him an earful.  Hmmm, I passed him on the landing.  What could be causing the bloomin’ booming this time?

We have a tumble dryer.   It lives under the stairs in a previously undiscovered echo chamber.   If you fill it with an entire football kit and several wet towels then the bearings in it give up.   Every rotation of the drum is heralded by a thump that is amplified by the under-the-stairs echo chamber.   After removing roughly half of the contents the thump became a sigh, so I went back to bed and listened to the tumble dryer quietly sobbing to itself for two hours.   At least it gives me something to fix that doesn’t need to be carried down to the shed.

If you click on the daily post link above then you’ll find lots more Clean tales that are far more substantial than this one.

 

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Welcome to the jungle

The daily prompt for today is “Never Surrender”.  I think that this just about qualifies.

I mentioned here about the vegetable patch at the bottom of my garden.   The plot isn’t actually part of the garden but a piece of land to which nobody seems to have claim.  As the land is only accessible by the neighbours and myself and as some of the less renovated dwellings have a garage opening on to this land, we all sort of assume that it is a communal place to do with as we will.

It is quite a sizeable area to be unclaimed.  Adjacent to it is the car park of a church and the church people (with rather unchristian desire) covet our patch of land.    The last invasion attempt involved a couple of cars accidentally reversing into the bordering fence and continuing onwards and backwards towards the rather fine apple trees that somebody planted decades ago.   The apple trees completely outwitted the cars by not falling over and then we residents (in a show of unity not since since the blitz) assembled one Sunday morning and built a sturdier fence that will resist the attacks of the Baptists.   Much like some of the smaller European countries will shall resist our land being annexed.

Back to the vegetable patch.    It is quite large.   I suspect that it is one of the few vegetable patches in West London that can be seen unaided from space.     After 12 months of neglect whilst I was deep in the bowels of Little Project it had become rather overgrown.   Waking at the weekend to the curious sight of no rain I decided to tackle the brambles and the weeds.    If I could only find a medicinal use for blackberry vine and bind weed then I could easily give up on the intoning board and spend my life in luxury.   By Sunday afternoon though I was in a situation where I could sow some seed.

There’s an advert on UK television at the moment for Diet Coke.   It may well be showing world wide.    It features a handsome and muscular gardening chappy pushing a lawn mower.    Several young ladies are watching our hunky hero grafting and one of the beauties rolls a can of Diet Coke down the hill to him.    On opening the can the poor chap is drenched by fizzy soda and so has to remove his shirt and reveal the sort of stomach that can only be gained by hours in the gym (or pushing a lawn mower).   The girls swoon and everybody rushes out to purchase more root beer.

I spent a pleasant hour or so carefully planting seeds into little containers and transporting them to the flimsy lean-to that I laughingly call a greenhouse (it is at least green, mostly from mildew).   There is a water butt that is balanced precariously near to it.  Useful for dipping a watering can in.   The water butt is understandably full to overflowing at the moment.

I approached the water butt, watering implements in hand with the thought of filling.   At this moment the two little cherubs who live next door (aged 6 and 4) approached with some excitement.   “Have you seen the dead fox?”.

Because I was distracted by the little angels, I didn’t pay attention to where I placed my feet.   A quick stumble and I was embracing the water butt in a manner not dissimilar to a fellow cast adrift in a rough sea with only a barrel to keep him afloat.  As I keeled backwards the water butt came with me.    The (full) water butt contains 210 litres (that’s 46 gallons to my colonial cousins) or, to put it another way, roughly four times the amount of fluid it takes me to drive 500 miles in my car.

It was no contest really.   Once it had decided it was going to get me it got me.   The gentle lapping over the side became a torrent as we slowly tumbled backwards.    The girls squealed with delight, this was far more interesting than a dead fox.   Butt and I ended up in a position that would probably be described by my churchy neighbours as “reverse missionary”.    Having disgorged  208 litres of water, Butt then decided that whilst down it would also ejaculate the 2 litres of sludge that had gradually settled at the base of the butt over the last few years.

Wet through and smelling of the stuff that makes roses grow I stood.  Two little girls were rolling on the floor with mirth.

Nobody offered me a Diet Coke.

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Would I lie to you?

The daily prompt asks “is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy”.

It’s a conundrum.   There’s a little puzzle that goes something along the lines of “Cris, Jon and Andy are three friends. One always tells the truth and one always lies, you can ask each of them one question, what questions do you ask to find the fibber”.

Something like that anyway.   I thought I’d put “Truth or dare” into Google to see what it came up with.  Oh my.   The first site on the proffered list lit up the warning signals of my McAfee security thingy like you wouldn’t imagine.    As I’m writing this in a heavily populated office of obviously delicate little angels the HR department descended like a hoard of screaming wraiths.   Chanting something along the lines of “don’t search for porn on company time” I was brutally tongue lashed for daring to type such a phrase whilst I should be designing a really boring invoice layout for a very small company with no colour taste whatsoever.  I wonder what would have happened if I had typed in “Rhino slasher porn”   (I did, I’m still number one!).

Is it better to be too honest?   There’s a game I play occasionally, described by Mark Twain (amongst others) as “a good walk, ruined”.   It would be fair to describe my level of expertise at this game as “somewhat lacking”.  I can make the ball go absolutely anywhere except where I want it to go.   This frequently involves visits into nearby stands of trees and my extremely patient friends will hear a swish, a thwack and an “Oh bollocks” several times before I emerge some yards distant from where I entered.   On reaching our final destination the question is invariably asked “What did you get on that one Rob?”  to which the reply is equally invariably “Seven, I think”.   I’m only cheating myself.

I think my threshold for truthfulness flounders at the feet of exaggeration.  It is where I fall down time and again.   Hyperbole is as much a part of my life as eating five pieces of fruit a day, every day.  Is it just me who always reads hyperbole as hyper bole?   Should I ever use the word in conversation things may get very confusing.   My listener would think I was referring to a tournament of such great renown that the mere Superbowl pales into insignificance.

I would argue that the embellishment of everyday facts is a quintessential part of me.   You could say that the sum of the facts add up to far more than the total.   Certainly in both this blog and the other one (the Macbeth blog, if you will) I try to brighten things by gilding the lily from time to time.   It’s not necessarily lies, just using my imagination.   It’s no worse than airbrushing to make a picture look better.

So in summary, I think that what I’ve just said is that to any of you who uses Photoshop, any of you who use a literary device to help write your blog.

Liar liar, pants on fire.

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Escalator Etiquette

Forgive me but I need to have a bit of a grumble.   I know it’s not a fair grumble and I should rightly be castigated for even thinking of it but it needs to be said, I feel quite strongly about this.   My complaint is about “other people”.

Other people as in people who are not me and don’t understand the specific rules that make my life run smoothly.

I had cause to visit a different city recently.   I’ve been living in London or thereabouts for close on a decade now and I like to think that I’ve trained the people of London to behave as they should.    In this other city (my home town of Birmingham) they should still remember the rules that I left them with but it seems that things have gone to pot since the end of the ’80’s.

Escalators, you know, those things that you stand on and then move you up (or down) from one floor to another.   Some people prefer to stand still and be transported purely mechanically and some take a more advanced approach and walk down (or up) the moving stairs whilst also being moved.   Speeds things up you see.

I have a foot in both camps.   Sometimes I stand and sometimes I walk – it rather depends on how much of a hurry I am to get to my destination.   A visit to the dentist may involve slow backwards steps whilst the promise of a cream cake will see me move like Mo Farrah.

It may be that London has a lot more escalators than Birmingham (there are 426 on the underground alone) but I don’t think that is any excuse.   If you are not going to be self-propelled on the escalator then you stand on the right, leaving a clear passage (no rucksacks etc) for those in need of speed to whiz past cleanly.   People of Birmingham take note.   You definitely do not…

  • Snog on the elevator (unless you are on different steps and even then, not in front of me).
  • Gossip with fellow shoppers (again, unless you are on different steps).
  • Stand on the left and shuffle to the right and then shuffle to the left to get a good view of the shops you are about to visit.

There are a couple of other points that do need to be raised, just so that you understand how to make getting around faster and easier for everybody (but mostly for me).

If you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to not be in gainful employment.    How about doing your shopping whilst everybody else is at work.   That way the shops will have full utilisation both during the week and on weekends.   Shop assistants will have somebody to assist on a Tuesday afternoon and I won’t have to wait in a long queue on a Friday evening to buy my bottle of gin.   I understand that you may miss out on some of those bargains that are available when goods are nearing their best before date, but it is a small price to pay for the good of humanity.

Finally, and this is the most immensely frustrating thing of all.   This offence should be punished by being placed in the stocks and pelted with rotting fruit. When it is time to queue in the supermarket to pay for your purchases, why, why, WHY, must you wait for the checkout person to say “That will be £14.53 please” before you open your handbag, root around amongst the forgotten debris of a thousand days out for your purse, open it, get the correct change out, close the purse, put it back into your bag, give the assistant your money, remember that you have a voucher, open your bag, root around through the miriad different (often out of date) vouchers for a dozen different shops, produce the voucher, close your bag, open your bag, remove your purse, put in the receipt, close the purse, put it back in your bag, close your bag and then start putting your shopping away.

Coincidentally, this rant chimes almost perfectly with today’s Daily Prompt of “Intense!”.    Others will have far more reasoned and far less selfish opinions than I.

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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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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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