Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Excuse me sir....

..."but can you stand back from the door please?"

My front door is two steps up, and I'm a smigin' over six foot on a good day. So I'm looking blank at next doors front door. It slowly dawned on me that it would be good manners to look down at a rather attractive WPC with a crick in her neck.

Five foot three and all uniform. By gum. It rather cooled my virani down a bit when I saw her nervously clutching one of those extendible night-stick thingies.

"Can I see your hands please sir?". So I stepped back a little and used my left hand to raise my right hand where she could see them. She looked kinda relieved, and with a flourish, was empty handed.

"Dee?" She said. "Yup" I said. " Meh, that's a relief. Soz mate". I had a flash of inspiration. "Where's the mob?".

No-one in sight. Dinky police van outside, a single WPC. "I saw the name on the database, and I thought, no way. Can I come in? God, you're looking old"

Well ta. "We had this info that suggested that someone at this address was in possession of controlled substances" While I made her a cup of best Columbian, not that rubbish Bear normally reserves for visitors, she explained that she saw the name, wasn't sure of the address, and so took a chance. Otherwise it would have been a lot of quite hearty chaps quite unsuccessfully hurting their equipment.

Indeed, the Wheelie - aka, Dee, amongst others, does, indeed have one of those airport bags full of drugs. Prescription meds.

Some joker had tried to play silly monkeys. Luckily, I'm known, in a good way, to the local police.

There is a serious point to this. I'm not going to mention cuts to front line policing, honest. It's worth noting tho' that your local Community Coppers and PSO's know their local areas and the people in them, and can make use of that local knowledge to make informed judgements.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Well, that Census thingy was done dusted and posted in ten minutes flat.

Wish I'd had the courage of a friend of mine. He filled it in in the name of his cat.


Despite the government claiming it's private and will be used to target badly needed services effectively, then locked away for 100 years, at the last census he suspected it wasn't as private as they insisted.

Within two weeks he received a council tax bill in the name of his cat.

He's quite right. Though the information wasn't as readily available then, if you dig around a bit, you'll find the census is covered by Section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

A better explanation than I can give can be found here at Hawktalk, the blog of Amberhalk Training Ltd, in a post dated 19th March 2011.

I hope his cat read it :)


Rare Lesser Spotted was right when he said to me that his grandmother used to say, basically, "neither a borrower nor a lender be, and live within your means" But, he continued "But that isn't the way the world works nowadays"

Tis true. I've been playing with my teen's very basic smartphone, and my lads iPhone, and I was impressed. So I had a look around for one that had the facilities I wanted. £500? Eeeek! A whole half-a-grand?

Aha. Thinks you. Get one on a £30 - £35 a month contract. Nope. Being a dyed in the wool bankaphobe, no can do. I hate myself sometimes. Me and my bloomin' principles (sulk.) Wonder how much I can sell The Bear for. Hmm.

Thinking of which, someone said I'd the other day I'd sell my own grandmother. Not true. Long gone. Well past their use-by date. Besides, there's no market for 'em. Bears, however.....


Playing with an open-source (ie - free) desktop publishing package called Scribus. Looks very comprehensive and shows some promise. I may well do a review. Try it yourself - it is free.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Not Bacon.

It's no big secret that I was, for a long time, a member of the Jesus Army.

A fundamentalist community church. We were Style 1. In English, what that means is that we had our own home, but were committed 24/7 to the church and it's activities. Style 3 are those that live in community homes, as a family, with other style 3's and give up everything they have for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Style 2's were, back then, were rare. They lived in their own homes, but their finances were managed by the church. I believe that the majority of Style 2's nowadays live in their own homes, manage their own finances, but contribute any excess to the church. Style 3's live in community houses anyway, but 1's and 2' open their homes for 'house groups' two or three times a week.

That sounds intense, but actually, we enjoyed the companionship, the sisters gathering in the kitchen and chucking us out (except when it came to pot washing) and the worship. Nice.

I am not a religious person. However, they enabled us. I wanted to be useful and it was an opportunity I went for, and I have no regrets. Spiritually, and my belief is that everyone has a spiritual side, I am very grateful for their guidance.

For some odd reason, people in the UK they try to hide that they have a spiritual side. Why is that? Is it the Brit thing about not discussing religion and politics?

Sunday, 27 March 2011


As I posted a week ago, another attempt at home made bacon. A few years ago, I used to make it all the time, but the cost of pork went thro' the roof, and it became uneconomical.

I've a more mature attitude towards the cost since then. Well, if mature is the right word. In the time since back then, I've bought custom goods because tho' I've paid extra, for the little extra I paid I got exactly what I wanted, and because a cornerstone of that has been quality and durability, in the long run it's been cheaper.

So I started making bacon again. It's not cheaper than the floppy wet stuff full of nitrites Bear has been picking up at Tesco's. That's about £3 for 2 x 240g or 0.625 p per gram. For the belly pork I used it was more like 2p per gram from Morrisons. By the time I'd spent money on non-iodised sea-salt, herbs, pepper and brown sugar, it was more like 2.3p

I didn't want to use nitrites. I wanted quick cure, and I have the advantage of a frost free fridge/freezer. Frost free works by drawing the moisture out of the air. That has the disadvantage that if you leave something in too long, it can dry out some- home made sauces and gravies f'rinstance.

Home curing? Perfect. A week of rubbing in the salt-mix every 2-3 days, and the drying action of the fridge, and we have perfect bacon. A quick rinse in cold water to remove excess salt and dabbing dry, and it was spot on.

It's not pink. Pink bacon is the result of the injected nitrites and water. It's kinda grey looking. Being belly pork, it's streaky bacon. But it's just how we want it. It's fiddly cutting it (I have a little cheapo electric circular slicer, £20 from Netto's) and the slices are, ahum, variable. At least with Belly pork, you don't get pretty even slices.

Apparently, there's some special offers on for shoulder pork, which is much leaner, so I'm going to try that this week.

Note about nitrites. If you wanted to hang the meat, nitrites may well be essential. Hanging isn't something you should do when it's warm. Nitrites kill bacteria such as botulism. With spring around the corner, unless you can can hang meat below 4 centigrade, don't bother unless you have a modern frost free fridge with plenty of space below that temperature. Hanging takes months.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Tits Up.

Well, the socialising yesterday continued well into the evening, until everyone got nesh.

(Nesh. A Yorkshire-ism. Someone afraid of getting too cold. Often accompanied by the word 'pillock', originally meaning a small hill or mound. In this context, meaning a bit of a 'twit'. Which means...oh, forget it..... )

So I spent 6 am this morning cleaning up empty plates, cups, knives, forks and empty beer cans from the back garden. Moi? I did what I do best last night. Rather comfy settee There. 42 inch tv. There, lights out, windows shut, and old re-runs of Time Team. Oh, yeh, baby.


Something very odd happening with the unemployed around here. In the last two days I've had five people in a panic because they've gone to their banks and found their Jobseekers Allowance hasn't been paid in. When they've queried it with the Jobcentre, they've been told that they've been 'sanctioned', and they have to appeal.

That means, money stopped.

The more savvy of them had pointed out that to appeal they should have had a 'sanction letter' to tell them their benefits were about to be stopped, and it was mandatory to include the letter with the appeal.

The Jobcentre agreed they hadn't been sent one. In every case, they've been told, on the phone, that the reason their benefit hasn't been paid is because they've failed to attend statuary 'training course' interviews. These courses are mandatory for the unemployed who have been unable to find work, any work, after a few weeks. Fair enough, even if it's 'how to use a computer mouse'. Apparently.

In all cases they were told they failed to respond to a letter that they hadn't received. But meanwhile, they had signed on, attended 'Back To Work Interviews' and handed in proof they'd looked for work, including rejection letters.

Guess what? Within a couple of days of complaining, they received the letters, in the same post, and from companies employed to provide these courses. To add insult to injury, when they've contacted these companies, they said they'd never heard of them, or, in one case "mixed up with someone else".

These aren't long term unemployed. The people who've spoken to me are those who have lost their jobs due to redundancy, one had been sacked and done their 'thirteen week time' and all have young families. Worse, they've all been given pathetic 'crisis loans' of £50 which are repayable at £18 per week. It's a lot when you have zero income. How does 50 quid divide by 18?

On balance, if one or two had grumbled, I would have thought, "well, maybe". But five? Nah.

So I'm going to have 'gen up' on the system, and go through the chuffin' checks as I have a long unused label I'm going to have to call into service to represent them in their appeals. (For those in the know, I'm "in the book").

Why me? Because they have no-one else. The local advice centre has had it's funding removed due to spending cuts, and is awaiting IT'S appeals and depending on a little private support. With hundreds of potential clients, those volunteers are reduced to 2 hours, twice a week :(

As much as I'm confident of success. I am not a happy chappy.


Update 25/03/11

All cases have had their benefits restored, if they continue to 'sign-on' as usual, though the cases continue on appeal. However, they will not regain any benefits lost in the previous two weeks unless their appeals are successful. They are still liable to repay any 'crisis loan' they may have had, at £18 per week. They have also been advised to claim a further crisis loan until they get an income, and advised that they would get the further crisis loans.

They've all refused a further crisis loan, because £36 per week repayments out of their income is too great. So their depending on food parcels.

If that sounds double-dutch, I'd agree. It seems that they have had their benefits restored because of the weight of evidence. Two pages or more plus photocopies. However, the appeal can't be classed as closed because that evidence is being independently assessed at an office in Doncaster .

The Doncaster office can't be contacted by the public. Which is all very well, but for those two weeks their rent to their landlords and their council tax isn't going to be paid.

Still. A presumed success. And all it took was a PC, scanner and a few phone calls.

Credit to the Jobcentre's for their concern, politeness, and very rapid response to our concerns. Nice.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Four hour power outage today.

Absolutely fascinating. No television, Sky, Virgin Media, Internet, and for most, radio either.

After half an hour, when everyone was visiting everyone else to find out it wasn't just them, with the sound burglar alarms going off all over - it's like a little village around here - it was a hive of activity.

People were sat on the pavement chatting, new neighbours were introducing themselves. They helped each other repairing the ravages of winter on their garden fences and furniture, chatting over cups of tea made by those with gas cookers for those with electric.

Bear busied herself chatting away and making sandwiches, and had a mad half hour cleaning some walls. I was well pleased. It kept her off of F*book.

I was less pleased because I was half way making a loaf in the Bread maker. The instruction book said if the power is off for more than ten mins, dump it, and start again. Heck I would. I paid for those ingredients. The hours ticked by, and the dough rose, and rose and.... Attack of the killer dough.

So when the power kicked back in, I hit the bake only setting (used for cakes and stuff). Omigosh.

Light? Oh yes. You could float it. I had to carve the darn thing out though. Now I know :)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Thank you to..


For referring this post.

Edit :- Who, despite the moniker, isn't! She's a very level headed Disability rights campaigner :)

Sign of.......

"Bear" I growled "Cheap dishwasher tablets - NO!" That got me 'The Look", dinnit?

Me bad. Forgot we had visitors. All between jobs, and at least one who thinks that a dishwasher is a female who's feet are shorter so she can get nearer the sink. Which is almost certainly why he's divorced. He got an almost empty yoghurt pot thrown at his head for smirking.

Good shot shot is my Bear, and unlike yours truly, who after years of practice has developed the reflexes of Bruce Lee, HE developed the vegan equivalent of egg on his face.

Poor Bear is trying to economise. No more bacon butties on the way back from fetching a sliced loaf. After I'd baked one. Hello! Magazine has gone Ta-Ra!, and the "My Granny Was An Axe Killer" magazine I found hidden under her pillow was dated December. 2009.

The 2009 horoscopes were amusing, and I never knew fella's can get that. I hate those mags with a passion. Honest.

So, it's Primark exploding knickers (don't ask), Fairé Liquid - that's what it says on the bottle, Mate Pride flour, and Finalizar pastillas para lavavajillas dishwasher tablets. From Pundland. Yes. Pundland. And my chilli's from Netto's have a picture of a smiling, waving, President Hugo Chavez on them. What more can a man want?

Oh, and pssst! Don't tell anyone, but I caught the Bear trying to thread a needle. Must be that exploding stuff again......

Times must be 'ard :)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bacon Day

I love bacon.

We don't have a local butchers. The supermarkets are within the same travelling distance of the butchers we know of, and the stuff available at the supermarkets is wafer thin and boils rather than fries. Yuk.

The advantage of the butcher is you can specify what you want, for example, thick slices, the part of the pig you'd like it from, how it's cured, ect. The downside? Nowadays, for that kind of service you pay a premium. Fair enough. But if you factor in bus fares/petrol? Nah. Forget it.

So one day, I decided if I wanted 'custom' bacon, I'd make my own.

Part of the reason is that like a lot of cured meats are soaked in a combination of salt and sodium nitrite. Nitrite's are an important part of the preserving process because they reduce the risk of food poisoning. More, in mass produced bacon, it's actually injected with salt, water and nitrites and colouring.

If you like to home cure, you can buy the mixes of salt and preservatives and colouring to do it just like your local supermarket does. Or gawd help us - the butcher.

Since I take a chemical mix of toxic tablets, I'd rather not. End of. So I needed a solution.


As always, at your own risk.

As you may be aware, I'm careful to avoid anything that might get in the way of prescribed medication. So I tend to use herbal methods - not be confused with homoeopathic, which I think is a load of crock.

This is the method I use. Buy a decent boneless belly pork joint, about 3-5 lb's. That'll be 1.5 kilo's and up. You may have to divide it into two - depending how long you need your rashes.

Grab a pan, any pan, and fill it with water. If you're using tap water, the idea is to bring it to the boil to boil off the chlorine. You'll need a measuring jug nearby.

When the water comes to the boil, throw in a tablespoon each of cloves, chines star anise, and mixed herbs. Dried is fine. If you have it, honey.

The basic end mix you're looking far is 3 parts salt, 1 part sugar (feel free to use brown) diluted with 4 times that amount with water.

Doesn't sound very exact, does it? That's basically because what you're looking for is just enough to cover the pork. Don't skimp on the salt - that's your main preservative.

After the spices - which are antibiotics, have boiled for half an hour, sieve the resulting liquid into a jug, and take you maths from there. Allow to cool.

Put your pork into a large bowl or bucket, top up with boiled cooled water. Now leave it for 24 hours.

You could, if you wished, slice and eat it now :) - freezing or chilling the remainder.


Step two. Drain and pat dry. Despite anything you might read on the internet, Table salt can work just fine, as long as you're freezing the rest. I use ground sea salt.

Again, this is a matter of personal preference and judgement. You need enough salt to rub it in all over. I like to add a little brown sugar, herbs, and honey. Honey, you might have noticed never goes off, because it's an antibiotic.

Put the pork in the fridge on a rack, in a container - the idea being to raise the pork so that the salt leaches out the fluid. If you don't have a rack, preferably non metallic, shove a plastic utensil or two underneath to raise it.

Every two days, for a week, drain and clean the containers and put it back, each time turning it and sprinkling with more salt.

After a week, rinse thoroughly, slice, and freeze that you don't need immediately.


You can cut it as thick as you want. It won't be full of water. You can adjust the flavour as you need. If it's too salty, just soak it in water for half an hour.

You can smoke it -errrr... apply flavoured smoke to it, a very American thing, which is out of the scope of this post, or hang it in a cool dark place to dry it.

I have the advantage of having a frost free fridge/freezer. Which can often be a pain, but in this case helps take the moister out and helps the preservation.


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ere' we go

In many ways, as a friend once said, my computers are my lifeline. I don't get out that much because walking is difficult, though not impossible. I depend on others to be available, paid or otherwise to be free if I need to go wobble-about.

My computer network, and my many years of experience of using computers has enabled me to do many things and meet so many people that, had the last few years been 'ordinary' - that is - work, education, travelling there and back, and all the other things that make up family life, well, I'd feel limited.

I wouldn't have had the time to be who I am now. It's quite an astonishing thought really.

A preacher friend once held my hand and said, "If there's one thing I've learned in over 70 years, the only consistent thing about life is change". Darn right. I'm ready for that.


A few Stroke facts (2011).

An estimated 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year. It accounts for around 53,000 deaths each year, and is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales, after heart disease and cancer.

Stroke accounts for 9 per cent of all deaths in men and 13 per cent of deaths in women in the UK. it has a greater disability impact than any other chronic disease. Over 300,000 people are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of stroke.

Each year over 130,000 people in England and Wales have a stroke. About 10,000 of these are under 65, about a third under 35 and from what I can see, roughly 10% of those being children.

A third of all stroke survivors suffer paralysis of one form or another- the good news of course, is that two thirds don't.

There doesn't seem to be much in the way of information about other difficulties. For instance, single or double incontinence, aphasia or other speech or cognition problems. Same with mobility problems.

A stroke survivor of any age may not have paralysis but other factors, such as balance may be affected.

It should be noted that lack of ability to understand or communicate with others bears no resemblance and has no reflection of the intellect of the stroke survivor.

Monday, 14 March 2011

You know you are getting on a bit... Part 1

When you find yourself singing along, word perfect, to a Coca Cola advert - only to find out it was originally televised in 1971. Forty years ago. I'd be... er.... don't want to think about it.....

"I'd like to give the world a...". Gw'on. Admit you know it.

Your next door neighbour gives a sincere round of applause while your singing Frank Sinatra's 'Moon River' while you're vigorously pruning your Buddleia Davidii. "Cool" she said. "Barry White meets Sinatra"

Barry who? ;)

Er'indoors grumbles "What was up with you last night?" and tho' you look wide eyed and say 'Eh?" you know EXACTLY what she means. And you don't even have the decency to blush.

You ask your mid Twenties daughter to pick up some Horlicks while she's at the supermarket, and she asks "What's Horlicks?"

A prospective client leans on you "What makes you think you have the qualities to take take on this job?". So you make like a goldfish, and the first words you say are "Like, um, er.....?" Because you can't remember.

You bend down to pick something up, astonished you can do it with your legs straight, to find you are balancing with the top of your head on the floor. Only to have to wait for someone to straighten you up.

Son'o'Mine explaining "I knew you were in Pops, I could see the sun glinting off that solar panel on the top of your head" . Huh. 'Pops' indeed :(

You try to see said solar panel in a mirror. I dare you to try it.

You look down in the shower because you dropped the soap, and you can't see it. Then you stand on it.....

The local ladies give give you a cuddle and a kiss when they visit. And leave. Because you're grey, and therefore safe. Safe? Safe? I'm sure I should be offended, but I can't quite work out why.

Over to you folks.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Absolutely horrifying the ongoing events in Japan. I despair at the tens of thousands of deaths.

The internet connection is better than expected. Not good. Just better. It was originally designed by the US military to withstand the breakdown of communications in the event of a nuclear war. Multiple node redundancy I was taught as a little 'un.

As you're probably aware, the Japanese people have a strong work ethic and are very efficient in much that they do. Given a challenge in adversity, they rise to it. I've often been impressed by their 'can do' attitude - and communication is one of them. Effectively - I've been asked not to describe in detail quite how - (clue, 'multiple node redundancy') - there's a Net overlaying a Net clicking into place.

A downside of their efficiency is an overbearing bureaucracy. You need a permit for everything.

I have a friend who's working in the relief effort. What follows is an extract from a message I received a short while ago.

"Hi Dee mate. We got here on a (...edited....) and it's much worse than I imagined. We are all sharing a ten man tent with four dogs and it's sooooo cold. As you know, the difference between rescue and recovery is 5 days, so we need to get shifting cos we're half way through. Unfortunately, (they) [have] said that we need a permit to get stuck in. We need one like now. But we're been told it might take 5 days before a permit comes through. But we said that if that's the case we might as well go home now. It's been asked we have it in 24.

[paragraph mine] Can you ask those that pray, and even that dont that we get permits asap to keep us in their thoughts Dee?"


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Rain drops on Roses...

Sorry about the grumble in the last post. I'm a very rational and logical chap, with a wealth of experience over a massive range of experience. That's not a boast. It's a fact.

To do that, you have maintain contacts and keep up to date. No one whom I'm in contact with has any illusions otherwise. The well worn phrase that "it's not what you know, but who you know" is valid up to a point. But only applicable as far as the information your sources are given is valid.

There is something very odd happening in the Social Services in the UK at the moment. Putting aside performance targets, and the media spotlight many have found themselves in, and arrgghhh! don't get me into that...

They've found themselves 'dropped on'. They're working on a case, and bang, they're shifted off to another, and someone else takes over, starting from scratch. When you consider the horrendous workload, that's just stupid.

Worse, they aren't given a reason, which leaves them worrying whether they've made an error. They wouldn't know. They aren't told.

The basic complaint I hear is that they are fed up that the administrative work has overtaken the caring that they want to do. They don't want to be talking to a client and worrying about the administrative consequences - something the police have had to to deal with for so long they feel they've become ineffectual.

So where does that leave a client? A sad public impression of someone who has contact with the social services is that they are somewhat lacking in some way.

Wrong. The social services are there to support anyone to provide those services THAT THEY ADMINISTER that enable people to live full and productive lives, or provide information to those in the local community to help themselves and to support and protect their communities.

About time these unsung heroes got a reputation upgrade.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Going to have to wait for a decision on respite. It seems that in theory it's quite straight forward, but in reality due to spending cuts and staff shortages I need to be re-assessed. Whenever. Fine by me. No rush.

Truth be told, I wish local government would get their heads straight. Do it or or don't. Makes no difference to us. We would like to know where we are at so we can get on with it. In the end, that's what the end result is. Support. No support. Meh.

Chuff' em :(

Friday, 4 March 2011


Should I go quiet for a few days, it's because I've a list of appointments ahead of me - that time of year. Tablet review, Diabetic pre-appointment, diabetic appointment, (all that foot fiddling blurrgghhh!) six month check up, opticians, all that jazz. And since I'm not used to getting out much, I'm going to be shattered.

My aphasia (speech problem) is getting worse, as is my walking - I'm having far too may 'hello floor' moments.

Interestingly, it seems I'm entitled to respite care now and again. Just a couple of days, and free.

Respite works two ways. For me, it gets me into an environment where I get some me time, I can take on zero responsibilities, and get to meet and chat with other people like me. I find the concept quite alien to be honest. Having never done it, I really don't know what to expect. I'm a bit apprehensive, tho' it comes highly recommended.

The second, and most important thing is that Bear has a break from me. The contribution Bear makes to my independence is immeasurable. A lot of her world is centred around me, and if anyone really needs a break - indeed, needs to learn to have a break, it's her.

Not decided yet, but that's a major factor


My faithfull electric can opener broke - it's one of those One-Touch thingies. Marvellous invention. Plonk it on, hit the button, and it's done in two ticks.

As I can't use a normal can opener, it's a bit of a disaster. So Google it was. I typed in +wilkinsons +tin-opener. And got this. Worth a read.

Excuse the language.....

Body Builders Forum.

Bear and I haven't stopped laughing all morning.

Nice to know I'm not the only one that has a few problems. I'd suggest a solution :)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates.

Bear and I were chatting about the so-called Age Of Austerity - hence the wartime poster in the post below. Luckily, mainly because I'm a bit good in the finance department, we've noticed the pinch a bit, but ye small gods willing, it's not hit us as hard as some I've spoken to.

/Rant mode on

Quick grumble. Why the heck do unemployed people have bank accounts, and, god forbid, overdrafts or even credit cards? Sheer lunacy. In the uk, they are entitled to a Post Office Account, not to be confused with a bank account. Their benefits - and nothing else - are paid into it. There are no overdrafts and associated charges, interest charges, ATM charges or any other fees. Mind you, there are no loans or credit facilities. Uk Gov pays it in and they withdraw the balance as required. Effectively, ring-fenced. No more Bank charges.

Yet every bloomin' time I suggest it, the unemployed I speak to baulk at the idea of no credit, even though it's costing them in charges from an already meagre income. They'll ask me to help sort out fuel or rent or mortgage or phone bills - but as someone said to me a couple days ago "How are you supposed to get what you want without credit, are you some kind of idiot?".. S'cuse me? Crazy, crazy.

/Rant mode off

Edit 03/03/2011

Perhaps I should note where I'm coming from. I'm not a Debt Councillor, but I am pretty good with facts and figures. For many years Bear and I were members of the Free Churches, finally with the Jesus Army where I was a minor leader.

The JA are a wonderful community, working across the whole gamut of society, and despite their high profile image,
quietly. It is however, a 24/7 church. After my first stroke, I gently, and deliberately faded away. I was unable to maintain my commitment to them. How they put up with me, a totally non-religious, but not unspiritual person, I'll never know. There, I learned to care. I also learned how to deal with the 'the system', deal with pig-headed social workers.

( Grin!)

Banks, building societies, adoption agencies, the police, pimps, gangzters, politicians and prime misters.

I still have many mates there.

But most of all, I learned to love.

Bless you for reading.

Indeed :)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Now I've gorn an' dunnit.

I said I'd build a new gate, didn't I?

Last night the neighbour who sold me the wood (for an excellent price, cheers Matt!) brought around his holy of holies, his bits bowl. Not a box. Not a jar. A great big chuff-off washing up Alladins cave of a bowl.

Perhaps I should explain. I sure there are many reasons why some people are into diy (do it yourself). I, and my mate Matt, like to dabble because (a) It's cheaper than paying someone else. (b) It's quite gratifying to see a job well done. Of course it's well done. I've done it, see? Oh, and (c) There's nothing like waving around some devilishly noisy Big Boys Toys and perhaps a chisel or hammer or three to guarantee a bit of 'me time'.

In other words, one is saying to the better half "This is my play pen, and you're not coming in". So there. "Go and do ermm... whatever women do". It's understood. Isn't it? No. Not around here it isn't - more on that in a min.

Yon bog-off bowl. Now then. Brackets. Screws. Nails in various states of disorder. Nuts. Bolts. That bit of whatever it is left over from that flat-pack furniture you conquered five years ago. Fuses. You just can't go binning it. It costs money that does.

You have to hide it. It, being, a rather large jar. That catering sized Nescafé tin('s' - ahum.) If you're really posh, a library of neatly sorted Tupperware containers. (I don't agree with those. It's not natural)

If you don't hide it, the tidy demon strikes while your watching Wales v England Rugby. It's a Man Thing. It's ones Ark of the Covenant. Anyone touching it should be dispatched forthwith. I'm sure you've been there. Just as you're shouting at the TV "G'won Y' (eh?, what?, yes dear?) b*****d, Sorry, what was that sweetie?" "Nothing pumpkin" - and bang - you've sold your soul.....

But Matt has a five gallon bowl, for crying out loud. For a chap to offer another chap his Ark, and even say "Go on, take what you need" is unthinkable. But he did. Once I regained conciousness, having being wafted with what looked suspiciously like a well worn sanding disk, 3 grade, 1985, I knew I had a friend.

I think I'm in love. With the bowl.


I've been fortunate to be reminded why The Bear is know as The Bear. Not only because she looks like Paddington (I sleep with Paddington? Oh my....) down to the hat. (She doesn't sleep in the hat. Usually... ah ah - behave.).

I said.

I'd build.

A Gate.

SoWe'reHavingANewGate. Please save me. Imagine Thomas The Tank Engine. Got that? Good. Now imagine a Bear faced bulldozer. I said I'd build a gate, and by 'eck, it appears I WILL build a bloomin' gate. Apparently.

I'm sat there - it's not like I'm going to run away. And I've now being given a strict timetable. When, how....

May I let you into a little secret? I stared intently thinking:-

"The elephant is a graceful bird, it flits from bough to bough. It lays it's eggs in a rhubarb tree, and whistles like a cow"

I'm now off to sit in Jabba, my hut, and play with my screws.

It's a Man Thing.

Shhhhhh...... :)