Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Mother, probably down to age fatigue helped to produce a right jaffa yesterday. While talking about a hotel they stayed in in New Zealand she mentioned that just before they left she opened a cupboard and found "One of those er...grills, you know...what are they called?... George For...er..." "George Formby! " intercepts my beloved.

Go on, have your way.


While away down in Kent we left our house in the care of LM, Sharon's 17 year-old. She has an 18 year-old boyfriend so yes, you probably won't be surprised to hear that initial observations taken this morning with the benefit of daylight would appear to confirm that while we were away their diet seems to have consisted largely of alcopops and Bisto. The contents of the salad drawer in the fridge have been sent to Area 51 for analysis.


Mum and Dad got back yesterday (Sunday) morning about 10.30am. We were both amazed at their fortitude and stamina. Mum is 71 and Dad is 74; they'd just spent a month flying and driving around Australia and New Zealand, staying in several hotels and friends' houses and had just arrived after a 20 odd hour flight back from Wellington via Sydney and Singapore. No sooner had they walked back in through the door and Mum's off, washing things, sorting through their mail, arranging meals and doling out souvenirs. It's as if she's never been away. Luckily the house appears to pass muster and there's only minimal buffing up to do.

Dad's collared by a time-share saleswoman (they're trying to get rid of the apartment they've had in the Algarve for 20 years) within ten minutes of arriving, which is amazing as the phone has hardly rung while they've been away. Eventually he politely loses patience, telling her he's literally just got back after flying halfway round the world and he's really in no mood. It's unlike him. Despite being sharp and astute over most things, he's strangely quite naive when it comes to pressure selling. I can tell them to eff off - I can be quite surly if I put my mind to it - and put the phone down; he wants to chat and exchange pleasantries while not realising the trap he's being lured into. I ask them what time it is for them and it's late evening. Do they want to go up for a kip? No, no, no. Too much to do and they'd only be awake all night. Later, and rather hilariously, Dad will accuse Mum of pulling faces at him as, while she's regaling us with a story and just prior to the bit that involves him, he falls asleep for a few seconds in a petit-mal/dog-like fashion i.e. eyes open and to all intents and purposes, listening intently. It's only really noticeable by him completely missing the gist of the story and by repeating the embarrassed mantra of all of us who've done similar, "but I wasn't asleep!"He has a proper nap for half an hour later.

Mum and I watch the end of Corrie and then Heartbeat. She's chatting away and again, I'm amazed at how bright she looks for someone who's not slept properly for nigh on 45 hours. At one point her expression is that of a youthful young woman, completely belying both her age and her undoubted fatigue. It's quite apparent that while they're never demonstratively affectionate, there's a deep love between my parents that has been strengthened by their golden anniversary trip. She told us recently that she fell for my Dad before she'd even met him. She'd joined the same cycling club while Dad was away on National Service, only to be told of the nutter who would cycle up walls if he could. He was completely fearless apparently and still is; I've never known him baulk at any challenge. She knew then that even though she'd not met him, they would be married one day. Like most offspring, I never could understand what they actually saw in each other but as I get older I find I can see it. She liked his derring-do unpredictability and she still does, even though that edge of danger stuff isn't quite the same anymore. She still goes along for the ride, never bothered by what he's got lined up for them. If she can't do it, she finds something else to do, completely unperturbed. She too though eventually gives in to fatigue and drops off mid-sentence. But only for half an hour as Dad then gets the cameras out and plugs them in to the telly. A three hour photo and video show then ensues. It's necessary, as we're off the next day and we want to see what they've been doing.

Despite all this and despite it being at full heat when I got up at 7.15, at around 4pm the Aga went out. Tut tut. Welcome home.

And later...

I go to bed at around 1.30am, which is early for me. I turn the computer on for probably the first time proper all day with a view to maybe doing a bit of work. However I only manage to read one e-mail before I'm felled by an overwhelming desire for sleep. The e-mail is from my chum Geoff the Bexleyheathen. It states that we have achieved some kind of google/blogger synchronicity because if one types in the phrase "richard shops hey the pretty thing" into google (as one almost always wants to do but not quite), the search will reveal Geoffrey at No 1 and myself at No 2 out of nearly 4 million possibles. Aren't we just the best?

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I have a new friend. Mr Barrister Paul Tony Richard has written to me with distressing news about somebody with the same name as me, absolutely dead, along with the rest of his family, every single man jack of them, all around the world and killed in an accident. Luckily he'd put all his money into a bank in Ghana beforehand. How fortuitous that was but how bloody careless to lose your whole family like that. It was probably a wedding and it kicked off. Canvey probably, somewhere like that where they like a good knees up but where "there's always one, eh?" Oh well, in the spirit of friendship and goodness that pervades this blog, I have put him in touch with another friend:

Dr Mr Barrister Paul Richard,

Many thankyous for contacting me in the great Country that is UK. I would like to say I am very interest in your plan because this sound very nice for me. This is very lucky for me because I have some money from my members in backward USA/Canada New York Florida Saskatchewan where they do not have the bank. The Canada/USA send you the money and you send it to me so I arrange for them to send the check for you in Accra Ghana and I send you 10% back. I promise this then you know I am real person. I can then be your next king for the dead man killed in the fatal wedding. This is good cooperate between our two great countries. My email is drpbancompany@yahoo.com.hk.
Mr Barrister Paul Richard do you have a car? Because I am work for the Rac Plc in the country of United Britain and I can give you free roadside repair and recovery anywhere in Ghana with special deal. Contact me on official Rac email address drpbancompany@yahoo.com.hk.and we can help you. If you don't have car, we can train you on how to drive also. If you join now you get free clock with alarm that gos off at 2am every day.
I look forward to hear from you,

your friend
Dr Peter Ban

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moron (II)

I obviously made an impression with Dr Peter Ban from the Rac Plc in United Kingdom also know as Great Britain because he wrote to me again today. I have completed his application form. Unfortunately I will never know whether I get a reply.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2006 3:30 PM

Dear Friend
Hope all is fine over there with you and your house hold i pray that this email fine you well.
Kindly get back to me with all this infromation i as for so that our client can start making out payment to you .
I wait to hear back from you soonest.

FRIST NAME Anthony..Charles Lynton............ LAST NAME...Blair..............
ADDRESS...10 Downing Street .......................
CITY..London....................... STATE.......................
ZIP CODE....SW1A 2AA.............................. COUNTRY...UK..........................
PHONE NUMBERS (S) ...020 7925 0918 (fax only - I don't give my number out)
GENDER.....M................. MARITAL STATUS....Married.................................
AGE..........53 (Is that too old?).................. NATIONALITY..A bit Scottish.................................
ID NUMBER......................... OCCUPATION..Working out notice........................................

Thanks and God Bless you.

Dr Peter Ban.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I believe this blog has now reached perfection. I have been informed by Google that I am No 1 search result in the whole wide world for "Wanking in Lichfield".

I'm made up.


Received this AM.


This is an email from Rac Plc in United Kingdom; also know as Great Britain, We would like to know if you would be interested to work for us, as a part-time job, which would not disturb your current job or your current position?

We have our company here in United Kingdom and we deal on Car Buying, Car care,Insurance, Training on how to drive, Loans and leasing, Motorcycle services and so many more, we have few client from the USA/CANADA,California, Florida, New York, Ontario, Quebec and so many other states in the USA/CANADA, but we have been having problems with most of our clients from USA/CANADA, because some would prefer to pay by Cashiers Check or Money Orders, which we can not cash here, but it is easy to cash over in the USA/CANADA, so we are looking
forward to get representatives around the USA/CANADA that can be working for us as a part-time job, which we are willing to pay 10% of every money you receive from our clients, so you would just need to help us get the payment and get it cashed directly from your bank and send the money to us down here in United Kingdom or to any of our local offices worldwide via Money Gram outlet or western union.

We are looking for a reliable and trust worthy person, which would not take our money and run away, but its always easy to track the person in the USA/CANADA, but we just need to trust you that you will receive the payment and send the money back to us, why we really need you to work for us is because the cost of coming to the States to get the payment and go to cash it our self, will be lot more stressful, because most client would not want to send money via Money Gram or western union.

For Example you receive a payment of $1000.00USD

You deduct your income $100.00USD

Send to us: 900.00USD and you pay the cost of sending from the $900.00 or from
the money left with you after deducting your income.

If you are interested, we would require your (Full Name, Address and Phone Numbers) where we can reach you and also provide us details of where you work and your position in your work place.

We do hope to hear from you as soon as possible,

Regards and await your response,

Dr.Peter Ban.

Replied this AM

Dear Dr Peter Ban.

I are very impressd with this scheme of high importance. I are liver in the United Kingdom also know as Great Britain all my life and speak the England almost good like you. Bobby Charlton!! Didier Drogba!! I am intersted in your position of "Part-time job" with Rac Plc because Rac Plc in Great Britain also know as United Kingdom is important in the deal of car and motorcycle training of how to drive. I learned from man in Plumstead also train how to drive Chris Difford from pop group Squeeze to drive! Yes! I know it must be very hard for Rac Plc to get money from USA/CANADA because these are very backward countries and do not have bank because all there telly is green. They have to send us money on the liners like the Queen to Southampton and it's very slow because the Post Office Cpounters don't cash the money order. Your scheme will make the ebay in the USA/CANADA, Florida,Quebec and the other countries very easy for me to get the goods so now I am very exited to get easy money at 10% from the USA/CANADA, New York Ontario and other states. We down here in the United Britain also know as the Kingdom of Great are good at the banks and know this to make the money less stressfull because it's bad whenn the banks like Barclay and First go put there money in the post office and the man says that "We don't do that any more mate, blame John Prescott and Adam Crozier. Do you want Euros?" I don't know what he mean. You make the bank for the USA/CANADA very simple with me. I will write to you with my name and adress to new Rac Plc Yahoo email adress in Hong Kong like you say.

Yours etc,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I have had an email from my Dad, currently in Cairns or Brisbane or somewhere. I had sent one to their host several days ago to pass on to them telling them that the house was still standing and that, hey, the Aga was still alight. Also that their big telly wasn't working. This will matter as there will be nothing for Dad to fall asleep in front of when they get back. It was dead. No lights or humming sounds. Oh dear. No Holby City or The Royal.

The email from Dad asked me, "Did you switch it on round the left side?" Ha ha. I'm 45, I KNOW how to switch a telly on.

What a ridiculous place to put an on/off switch.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Still down here. Aga's not gone out yet; a fact about which I am inordinately proud.

Went to the pictures on Saturday. I wanted to see The Queen but for some outlandish reason the management of Cineworld Ashford don't deem this to be Saturday evening entertainment so relegate its weekend outings to matinee performances only. Tsk tsk...One of the most critically acclaimed films for years yet I can't make an evening of it and have to cull something from the reels of desperate Hollywood shite instead. Shame on you. We saw "Click", an enjoyable yet fairly standard time-slip film with Adam Sandler (who has to be in everything, doesn't he?), "The Hoff" (who thankfully doesn't) and Christopher Walken playing the only character he's ever played (have James Woods and Christopher Walken ever been in the same film?). Despite being pretty inoffensive and enjoyable in many parts, it contained the single most obvious and over-worked time-slip cliché of all time (which I won't divulge but anyone with an eight-year old, go and read some of their fantasy stories and I bet you'll come across it). It is signalled fairly early on as well and I was very disappointed by that. They did try and redeem it at the end but it had been spoiled for me by then. Kate Beckinsale's bare legs and shorts (pretty much ever-present while she's in shot) did try hard very hard to make up for the lack of substance. Also, Cineworld Ashford, when we've just paid in excess of £7 each to see a film, we want to wait until the last credit rolls off the screen, just in case, and not be subtly hassled out by a kid in a suit standing by the door looking at us.

Sunday we went out for drive. Sharon lived in Eastbourne for a few months several years ago so we thought we'd head over there. On the way we stopped off in Appledore. 23 years ago, Paddy, one of my best school friends and a phenomenally good guitarist for his age, went to Tenterden on his motorbike to pick up some groceries for his Mum. When he got back he realised he'd forgotten the sausages so headed back to fetch them. He never made it home as he was hit on a bend by a woman driving too fast and on the wrong side of the road. A few years previously Paddy and two other lads from school, Mark and Mick, formed a three piece doing rock standards but also many original songs. I always wanted to play rhythm guitar with them and I would have done had a lack of equipment not prevented me from doing so. I was content with being the roadie/MC/lights and sound. We were very popular around the villages, especially amongst the biker gangs and that was quite an achievement for an out and out rock band back at the height of punk and Two-Tone. Later I heard that Paddy used to do acoustic sets at local pubs and had got quite a name for himself. Sadly, at the time of his death, I hadn't seen him for close on three years as life, as it nearly always does, had taken us along different roads. Paddy took an immense amount of joy from life and especially from music and it was that which rubbed off on anyone who encountered him. He wasn't a "David Watts" kind of hero; he was crap at sports (an inability that caused as much mirth as frustration; ten minutes to serve a squash ball once had myself and Woody in fits) and he'd never be head boy because he looked like Ian Hunter out of Mott the 'oople. He was just Patrick.

A couple of times before I'd tried to find his grave in the churchyard but usually it had been pouring with rain so I'd given up looking. I knew it was there somewhere as I'd been told it was by friends who'd seen it and been to the funeral. On Sunday I spotted a path in the corner of the churchyard and followed it to another graveyard of which I was unaware and there, in the middle, was Pad's stone. It's a simple one bearing name and dates and an inscription from Robert Louis Stevenson that is particularly apt:

"Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,

Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile."

I knew the accident had been in October but I was very surprised to see that it was actually yesterday that was the anniversary. I decided that I would go back and pay proper respect and take some flowers from the garden and with that, we left.

We continued with our drive about. Went along to Hastings, on to the beach at Pett Level, studiously avoiding the nuddy beach at Fairlight Cove in case there were any hardy vitamin D seekers taking the last of the rays and then doubled back towards Eastbourne up to Beachy Head. Feeling lucky, we drove to the village at East Dean, where another old friend of mine lives, another with whom I've once again lost touch (also a Patrick. Don't make friends with me if you're called Patrick. It won't last). I couldn't remember his address and there was nobody walking about that looked like him so we headed back home via fish and chips in Hastings. On the way back I remember saying that I couldn't remember Paddy's brother's name. Maybe I'd run into somebody tomorrow being as it was the anniversary.

Yesterday was an astoundingly beautiful day for mid-October so I went out and culled a small selection of flowers from what was left in the garden, fashioned them into some kind of portable vase with a cardboard tube, some soaked kitchen roll and a bit of cling-film, attached a note to it and went back to the churchyard. As I had a bag with me I thought I'd dead-head some of the other plants while I was there and as I was doing that I saw a business card sticking out from a bunch of flowers. It turned out to be from Colin, Paddy's brother. The mystery over his name was now solved at least. I must admit, I'd never seen that done before and it intrigued me. When I got back I emailed him and asked if he remembered me. Almost by return I got a reply saying that he did indeed remember me and that every year, just before the anniversary, he puts his own tribute there with his business card attached. He says it's the easiest way to keep in touch as many old friends turn up on the off chance around that time, having lost addresses, not knowing that his parents have moved or whether the family is indeed still around. What a top tip. Just to cap it, Paddy's Mum called me in the evening as she'd been to the grave after me and seen my note. Dad's one of the few names left in the BT phone book so she called on the off-chance, not knowing that I'd been in contact with Colin. I'm going to pop over to see them tomorrow. Their house is full of memories. They don't live in Appledore anymore, they moved to a place they'd bought many years ago for their retirement in Bethersden and in the freezing barn of which the band used to practice. It's been an unusual coincidence-filled couple of days and it will be an interesting visit.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Goodness, I'm having a good week.

Talentless bogbrush-eyebrowed Bolivian busker Chris de Burgh has claimed in an interview to have "miraculous powers". I can vouch for this. Whenever he comes on the radio things fly around the room and I develop an involuntary and temporary form of Tourettes that miraculously subsides the moment the frightful noise stops. Praise be...

Sunday, October 08, 2006


It's quite obvious, judging by my last post here, that I have "issues" with certain big business practices. I have little time for companies who take the piss and especially those who boast and in doing so, completely lose the plot. I have now got a large cesspool full of special fishy-smelling ire reserved for a company that, through their ownership of Bentley Motors, has actually brought a degree of renewed prosperity to the town in which I live following the Witch's destruction of our domestic heavy industry (both my home town and my adopted one used to make trains). Step forward Volkswagen Audi and assume the position.

Audi are currently running an advertisement for their A6 model that boasts they have filed half as many patents again while developing a single model than NASA have filed during their lifetime. Pardon me if I get these figures wrong but I believe it was 9651 against 6502. Take a moment to pause and think about that. I don't know how many unique parts and processes are involved in producing a car but to have 9651 of them so substantially different to anything that has gone before that they warrant patents being filed fills me with a certain amount of trepidation. I'm not sure I would want to drive a car that relied so heavily on untried technology, radical new parts or engineering. To my mind that's 9651 things just waiting to go wrong because they've never worked together before. If you want any proof take a look at Nasa itself. Its track record in designing new things is spectacularly bad.

That's not all though. What is this obsession with producing "new" products, especially on such a scale as the A6? The resultant re-tooling of production systems, manufacture of an extra range of spare parts, scrapping of obsolete models, new promo material and goodness knows what else that goes into supporting new products is not being particularly planet friendly, is it? How much energy has been utilised in bringing this thing to market and to what overall benefit? Compare it with the amount required to subtly improve or just maintain existing models efficiently. Scrapping your old car in favour of one only slightly more efficient model is abuse of resources on a grand scale. Irv Gordon is my hero in this respect. His car may not be the most efficient on the road but how many cars have you owned in 37 years? How many are still going after 10?

Back to Audi. Drive past the front of Bentley Motors plant and the forecourt is not much of an advert for one of the world's premier luxury sporting marques (I don't have much of a problem with these oddly enough. They'll last for years, be well looked after and I can't see many doing 15,000 miles a year), it's full of the management's TTs, big VW Tauregs, Passats and Audi A series. All nice and new staff cars probably replacing equally nice and new previous cars except for the fact that VW don't want the competition's badges in front of their bulding. Very smart to look at but a minor ecological disaster otherwise. Back of the class please and 500 lines by morning: "I will not be so profligate with the planet's precious resources in the name of commercial arrogance and oneupmanship ever again".

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I find the news that US coffee shop "brand" Starbucks wants to inflict three times as many branches on the world as it already has extremely disturbing. Look here Starbucks, 24,000 towns without a branch in doesn't mean there are 24,000 towns who necessarily want to subscribe to your peculiarly bland and homogenised rive gauche via Seattle production design house style. If they had felt the need for a coffee shop I'm sure some enterprising young person would have started one already and made it locally relevant into the bargain. Going to a Starbucks isn't a pleasantly bohemian way of spending an hour, it's subscription to a brand identity. These aren't shops, these are 36,000 "outlets" for overpriced company recipe products. American cultural and commercial arrogance of the highest order. And yes, I have visited one. I asked for a white coffee.

It's already bad enough here in the UK that every single town centre is churned out of some talentless central design school but at least I'm spared the sight of these places when I travel. I don't expect to see a Weatherspoons in a converted Amro Bank in The Hague, a Harvester in Madrid or be able to buy a Greggs' sausage roll in Antwerp. A drive-through McDonalds, a Dunkin' Donut, KFC or a Holiday Inn is certainly not my idea of security when I'm abroad. I don't want to feel "at home" on holiday; I wouldn't have spent a small fortune trying to get away for a few days otherwise. If I want to visit mid-town America, I'll go there, I don't want to experience it in the Camargue or Normandy.

American business - you just don't don't get it, do you?

Friday, October 06, 2006


Regular readers (constipated ones, leave now) will remember I was on the wireless again in Ireland last week. Twice in fact, promoting this. I am expecting any day now a CD loaded with a copy of the first one, plus all the moany feedback from the much postponed Red FM phone-in mullarky. For any day now, place the emphasis on the "any" as bear in mind these boys are Irish and very easily distracted. The second interview, on Cork's 103FM's North Cork Today Show with Patricia Messenger was much more professionally organised, entirely by ladies I hasten to add, and is now ready for download from here or over there in the sidebar. It's a big file so I won't blame you if you get bored. Mr Scurra may enjoy my comments on politicians.

Hell, everyone else is doing podcasts so what do I care?

Btw this wasn't me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


On Sunday we passed through Biddenden and stopped off for a pint in the Red Lion. Actually we stopped to use the lav but it was such a delightful hostelry, and one I haven't been in for decades, that leaving straight away wasn't an option. While there we both became intrigued by the menu board and decided we had to return. So earlier this evening we did. It was top-hole pub grub, nothing pretentious (the pub down the road is Michelin listed) and not at all expensive but it was very bloody nice. I had the Cumberland pork, served with a simple salad and the best chips I've eaten in years (which, I was later surprised to learn, were actually frozen with skins on, as I saw the landlord carrying a bag of them into the kitchen) and herself had the best beef stroganoff she'd ever tasted. It was very reasonable and with a huge slice of homemade apple pie and custard each afterwards it came to around £25. That wasn't the highlight though.

I went to relieve myself and spotted the prophylactic machine on the wall. This was no modern bells and whistles and blue flashing lights one, this was a local jonny machine for local people featuring a brand I'd not come across before (yes, I did really write that). And distinctly old. Although the coin slots enabled the use of pound coins, the varieties on sale told a different story. Plain and flavoured, that's it. And the flavours were lucky dip! There were at least 15 of them and there was no way of choosing. I only needed to read the first flavour though to hazard a guess that the machine probably hadn't been changed for many a year: lager and lime. This was a 70s letter box.

Lager and lime, eh? When was the last time you drank that, gels? For "one for the ladies" it certainly was. Obviously in an attempt to entice the reluctant fillies into sundry acts of depravity the manufacturers went for the popular drink of the day. I didn't look any further, this would write itself:

70s flavours, guaranteed to excite!

Sophisticated company? Get her in the mood with Cointreau or a lightly ribbed flesh coloured Cinzano Bianco!

Fancy something er...Caribbean? Get her limboing under your bar with a Malibu and orange.

Disco! Karaoke Rum and black flavour!

Off somewhere sunny from Luton? Don't forget to pack the Campari and Lemonade - no duty payable on these!

The Insurance Man calls - G and T and 20 Guards.

Special - Only available in student union bars - Snakebite. (Warning: guaranteed to reveal your lunch to your partner)

Having a few friends round for a party? Watney's Party Seven (Do NOT shake)

Grandad - get her going with a Nice Medium Dry Amontillado (Schooner size packs only)

One for the gentlemen - Babycham (extra tuff)

Grandma's favourite - Mackeson

Only at Christmas? Tempt her with a small Port and Lemon.

Woodpecker. Fnaar fnaar.

Away you go...


This is Bobby. According to my nephew, Luke it's actually Bobby 643 and he appeared two nights ago. The boys mark snails with Tippex or paint or something equally noxious and wait to see where they turn up. I have heard that you can chuck snails into your neighbour's garden and they'll home, just like pigeons but not quite as fast. Might be worth an experiment although the chances of spotting him in 3.5 acres is a bit hit and miss.

You may also be interested to know that a few nights ago I spotted another snail apparently eating a dead cranefly. I honestly had no idea they were carnivores so do please be aware while dawdling around the garden in case of ambush, especially when it's been raining.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Route 1

Mum and Dad have many computers. This doesn't mean to say they know how to use them, most are old and were used for specific purposes such as timing the local 10K road race that they organised for hundreds of years until last year. They are all in my old bedroom and one of them is connected to teh interwebs by string. About 18 months ago they bought a laptop so Mum can compute from the kitchen table because it's cold upstairs in the winter. It is probably the only laptop in existence that is ceremoniously put to bed with the dust cloth still over the keyboard as it was when first taken out of the box.

Mum has been goading Dad into getting broadband for ages because being very tight thrifty he was still on the old cheap after 6 dial-up and that made sending photos and stuff very difficult and nobody could ring in the evening. After they asked us to housesit, he had very little choice; we couldn't come down for a month and not be able to work so he was going to have to do something. Tiscali broadband was eventually pumped in a few weeks ago. This left the problem of both of us being able to work at the same time, so we would need a wireless router, like we have at home. We would sort that out then. On Saturday we went to PC World and bought one, got it home, went to connect it to the modem only to find the modem didn't have an ethernet port because it's one of those USB linked ones. Too late to go back; S is by now getting very frustrated and not a little scary.

On Sunday I trooped up to PC World again, stood in the queue for an hour and got a Philips one in exchange. This was a modem/router, like our D-Link one at home. The only problem there was I would have to phone Tiscali to check the router settings and of course, I'm not my Dad so I don't know what his security questions are although he'd left his login and password. And Tiscali have an overseas call centre where they are all taught to speak in emotionless monotone off a script, no deviation but plenty of repetition. Joy!! On the box it said all settings were pre-loaded. Phew, no need to tell porkies then.

I got home, unpacked it, spread it out on the carpet, plugged it in, loaded the disc as ordered, chose the correct parameters and waited for teh interwebs to come flooding into the living room as promised. Oh. No Russian granny pr0n or Japanese spam. Connection details all wrong. Bummer, I would have to phone Tiscali. To cut a long story only slightly shorter, I called them once; he tried to make very bad forced conversation about having to work on weekends but accepted my lie about doing this for my Dad while he was on holiday. I answered all the other security questions, no problem. Unfortunately he couldn't help me, couldn't see what was wrong but that they didn't have the latest settings for the Philips. Grr...An hour later I phoned back in desperation after trying it on Sharon's lappy without success and got a woman this time. Totally emotionless and I'm sorry to say totally unhelpful and now,
despite being in Perth, WA at the time, my poor Dad has got a black mark against his name for calling all Tiscali operatives a bunch of things using short words he probably hasn't spoken in the same sentence since he was demobbed in 1953. Sorry Dad. I hate call centres at the best of time but those operated by very obviously foreigners with no empathy whatsoever for their core customers really do annoy me intensely. It seems to be the very antithesis of customer service - I know what's cheapest, let's staff our customer services with people who can't understand anyone who deviates from the script and charge a premium rate for it and hope nobody notices they're being ripped off.

Went back to PC World yet again, got apologetic smile from lad who'd served me earlier and a trusty Belkin modem/router in exchange. With £10 off as they'd left the wrong label on the shelf. 5 minutes after getting in, everyone is up and running and downloading the same kind of shit as we were a week earlier. Philips' settings were all wrong; I can't think of any Philips kit I've owned that's ever worked properly so that didn't really come as a surprise, maybe it's something to do with the smoking rooms in Eindhoven. Of course, the supreme irony of all this is that Tiscali, as of this week, have been advertising free wireless routers. Totla cnuts.

Yesterday I boiled the kettle on the Aga, something I've done hundreds of times over the years. It's an Aga kettle with a large base for best heat transfer meaning it's a little ungainly. Yesterday I wasn't thinking and as I filled the teapot, it was still bubbling and it blew back. Onto me. I was expecting instant and extreme pain, but no. Luckily, despite these trousers being very thin, they are baggy and I do not go commando.

Shortly I will be taking the dog for a walk in the woods, where the chestnuts have just begun to fall. The Aga is very good for roasting them. No jokes.