Friday, May 30, 2008

Deep Joy

I am still sitting in the library next to people with unimaginable freshness problems and trying to hide from them some of the more embarrassing language found on your pages of late.

For the sake of wanting something to do I have checked my stats and it has given me great pleasure to see that someone has bothered to visit my diary and translate it into the German! Oh the wonders of the Internest.

I do hope the link survives

Friday, May 23, 2008

Woops, I've bolloxed it.

I have done something very wrong. I don't know what I've done wrong but I'm writing this in the library. About 2 minutes before the United of Manchester's triumphant victory over the liars, cheats and acrobats of Chelsea the other evening, my laptop gave a sigh and passed out. I think it may have been the excitement. I've not been able to rouse it since. All the correct blue lights come on but its pupils are fully fixed and dilated and there are no other signs of respiration.

I think it may have been a virus. About 3 weeks ago I was flooded with some trojans that came in on the back of a spurious activex control masquerading as something quite legitimate. AVG picked 4 up immediately and killed them to death but I think one may have escaped and done nasty things to the laptop's innards. As soon as I can afford it I will have the machine eviscerated and the hard disk swept but for the time being I'm stuffed. Please somebody go and shoot Bill Gates and do the world a favour. If anyone thinks I'm important enough to send emails to you'd better do it via my yahoo account which is at (standard email address disguising conventions apply):

operator073 at

The next person who justifies virus writers by saying they're doing everyone a service by getting companies to tighten up security, just ask yourself the following question and then go and play on the West Coast Mainline: just who is the threat?

See you soon.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


That's my garden, that is. I'm not lazy, I've not long moved in and have not had time to really get at it yet. The place had been empty for several months prior to me taking it over and I don't think the previous occupant was too bothered about anything judging by the state of the interior decoration. What happened? I asked of my neighbours. She died, they replied. Besides, the only gardening implements I have to hand are a pair of Sharon's shears and an old pair of small secateurs bought from a boot market last week for 50p. This could be a challenge.

I like boot markets. I went to the boot market this morning, two of them in fact. I went with the intention of maybe purchasing some tools and I really needed a trivet to save the new worktop in the kitchen and some other essential stuff but heavens, someone there had a load of old fishing kit and damn, I'm in like Flynn. Last year I bought an old split cane rod in fantastic condition for a tenner down in Ashford and I've been looking for a decent centre pin reel to go with it. £2? Done! I did actually find a trivet, about which I was quite chuffed. I really had to force myself not to pick up the handset to the second-hand Amstrad E-mailer and yell "For suggesting I put this useless pile of crap out in my name, Jeremy, you're fired" down it.

Boot markets are excellent. There is nothing quite like rummaging through someone else's old tat but every now and again you chance upon something quite trivial and it's like a real blast from the past. This morning I spotted a set of plastic ice-lolly molds. Nothing unusual except they were identical to the ones we used to make lollies with when we were kids 40 years ago. I mentioned this to the stallholder and she said she too could remember using them decades ago and that she'd been clearing out her mother's house and I suppose, when I looked at her we were probably around the same age. Our parents were war children and knew the value of thrift. Nothing gets thrown away unless it's completely outlived its original use, or in my Dad's case, any other supplementary use he can devise for it (which may not be for another 15 35 years). See my previous post about sheds.

I'm probably of the last generation who were exhorted to eat it all up and think of the starving children in India/Africa wherever or if you don't eat it now, you'll get it later for tea. The Sunday roast in my parents' house still extends through until at least Wednesday once a cold collation has been done on Monday, a curry on Tuesday and finally some sort of stew forced out of what's left. I am glad I've inherited some of these traits although I do draw the line at scraping the microscopic bits of butter or spread out of one container and into the next one. When I look around my new house I see very little is new. The furniture is courtesy of what we call locally "The 3 Cs" and a two piece suite, pine bedstead and double mattress all in very good condition cost me all of £15. My table and chairs and most of my kitchen utensils are via Freecycle, a brilliant initiative and to my mind, the Internet at its absolute best. Recycling is so much more than taking cans to the tip once a week. My only regret is that I've been unable to source a decent fridge and cooker and I've had to go new for those. Rest assured, they will not be replaced until they break down irreparably. To go back to my parents, they've been using the same fridge for close on 50 years. It may not be the most efficient anymore but their mindset won't allow them to replace it until it's completely buggered. This is good as the longer an appliance is kept alive it's not using energy being recycled or a new one isn't being manufactured.

Along the same lines, I am not a gadget freak. I will not be coerced into replacing something that is perfectly serviceable on the premise that the newer version has better technology. I can't understand why manufacturers can't get their collective heads around the fact that new technology is baffling to probably 80% of the population at any one time and as such, quite worthless. My mobile phone is used to make calls and text and er...take photos. I don't want to use it to buy bus tickets, surf the interweb, ask my fridge if I've run out of taramasalata or turn my heating on. Technology is not the universal panacea it's made out to be, it's by and large just a marketing device. It doesn't make life better, it makes life more complicated and you still have to plug it in. Now, everyone go and send your Sky boxes back to Rupert and maybe we can all watch the cricket on the BBC where it's meant to be, like good civilised people, through the aerial that's already attached to the roof that can get loads of stuff in that I already have no intention of ever watching because I have a life but is free anyway and doesn't require some idiot nailing a frying pan to your front wall. Go to boot markets and keep our national game alive and our children away from Grand Theft Auto 19! Both of the markets I went to today are held on local cricket pitches ensuring the clubs receive valuable funds to provide proper recreational facilities without having to flog bits of land to developers. Recycling. Good, eh?

Friday, May 09, 2008


Spotted in Crewe library earlier today. There is something so intrinsically right about the conjunction of those two words. Next week: the bits of wood in an old bucket, odd nails, the spare allen keys from flat-packs and an old tobacco tin full of crap to put in your garden palace. It really will come in useful sometime over the next 50 years, honest.

They must know you're back in the country, Zoe.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Teh Polticks

As you all know I have returned to the golden sunsets and endless sun-kissed beaches of the North-West's favourite resort town of Crewe. I've been back since Good Friday and I can only say that it's been all go ever since.

My return has heralded the triumphant escape from relegation to the Fourth Division for the local footballing team by virtue of the other clubs in the grey area above the relegation zone canceling out a 1-4 defeat by playing even shittier than Crewe did. But that's not all; I now have my own little house, courtesy of the good offices of the Manchester and District Housing Association. I have a bed, a two piece suite, a kettle, mug and a packet of cup-a-soup. I am independent again although I have to nick Sharon's interwebs to do this. And her phone, cooker and fridge. And food.

Even more momentous is the fact that due to the death of much admired local Labour MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody, Crewe and Nantwich has been forced lock stock and barrel into the public eye - there will be a by-election here on May 22nd and, since the Labour Party managed to cock up royally last week in the locals and Gwyneth was not known to be particularly sympathetic to New Labour, the world's media has descended to watch more kicks aimed squarely into the groin of a flailing government, especially as Gwyneth's 7000 majority is being touted equally as safe and vulnerable - because it was personality not party based. It's the first by-election anyone in Crewe can remember as Gwyneth was MP for 34 years and her predecessor for well over 20. The place is crawling with the world's media. Apparently.

I went into Do It All ysterday lunchtime and saw an ITN transmission van in the car park. That was it. Watching the news later I was a bit surprised to see that I'd missed it. Everything. A few days ago I'd made a vow on Jules' blog that I was definitely going to get on the telly sometime during this campaign, not because I have a particular political axe to grind but because I really want to shout something rude at any visiting Tories. Damn. I cocked up big time there.

So, who came to town? Well, for the Lib Dems it was Vince Cable. He's the Lib Dems and they call him the shadow chancellor. There's rumour that the local party had their candidate thrown at them by central office. It wasn't a woman to start with, now it is. Nobody knows, it's all denied, she's the officially selected candidate, no, not a woman because Gwyneth was. No, definitely not. Supporting official Labour candidate Tamsin Dunwoody, Gwyneth's daughter and former Welsh Assembly member, Labour wheeled in big gun justice minister and Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw. He looks disturbingly more like my Dad every time I see him. I don't mind Mrs Dunwoody Jr, she's very nice and I spoke to her on the phone on Monday. She wants to do the job and she knows the area well. I wouldn't have shouted at her.

We have a Monster Raving Loony but I'm not sure anyone cares anymore since David Sutch rather unwittingly lost his final deposit some years ago. We do have another comedy candidate though, one Gemma Garrett from Norniron who is Miss Britain and is representing the Beauties for Britain party. She knows pig all about politics, even less about the trains and posh cars for which the town is justly famous and probably doesn't even know where Crewe is. But she has big tits and that's fine. There was TV footage on BBC North West of a local teen sniggering like Tim Nice-but-Dim because the interviewer had suggested Miss Garrett was attractive. This is great stuff - another two weeks of it please.

What really pissed me off is that while I was in Aldi, I missed my chance to throw something perishable or shout searching questions (probably involving a lot of swearing I'm afraid) at public school manofthepeople and top Tory, Dave "Boy" Cameron. I really don't think I could have resisted it as I find that as I get older, I care less and less about making an arse of myself in public (unless it involves singing, which I just won't do, OK?).

That was yesterday. This morning I was quietly minding my own business around the Market Square, clutching a bag of pigs' ears for the dog and a second hand coat rack for my hallway when I became aware of some media presence, not least from the young man with a microphone from BBC 5 Live imploring a young and appreciably fleshy market trader to yell out one of his cries. He declined saying he would be losing business while doing so. Had the interviewer chosen to point his mic at me I would have made some comment about the value of recycling to the local economy. The recycling in this case being the very same wrecked video game rifle I saw in a skip at the local tip the previous evening and onto which I'd just tipped a pile of dog-soiled carpet tiles. There was further presence: bulkier men with curly wires coming out of their ears and the kind of mobile you don't get in Phones 4 U plus several policemen and a few curious PCSOs. Then I saw Mrs Dunwoody Jr and shook her hand, saying that we'd spoken a couple of days previously to which she replied that we indeed had and that it was nice to meet me at last. She is now in full election mode and obviously fully stripped of her primary faculties, especially the ones that suggest she knew me from a two-minute phone conversation two days previously and without the benefit of any formal introduction.

The security wasn't for her, however as the Foreign Secretary, David Mini-Egg was performing the function of party big-gun in the provinces. That's him on the left of the picture, Mrs Dunwoody Jr is in the red coat on the right. Mr Milli Vanilli is of Polish descent so he certainly wouldn't have felt out of place in the market, where the prevailing chatter is almost exclusively in his mother's native tongue. I resisted the urge to run forward and present the Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs my bag of pigs' ears with the instruction to hand them to his boss in recognition of his handling of just about everything during the last year, although on closer examination of that picture, the presence of the microphone in his face has made me regret my hesitancy. I need glasses.

I wonder who's coming tomorrow? Please tell me it's Boris.