Wednesday, 30 May 2012


My previous post has gone into hibernation for a while. I got a lot of "You can't say that!" and "What's got into you?" "It's not like you" sorta stuff on and off line. And I mean A Hellava Lot. In a nutshell, I should be more, ahum, 'understanding'. Hookay..... Just this once...

Actually, it is like me. Given the right circumstances. I spend a lot of my time, day to day, being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it by people who think they are 'caring'.  Otherwise I'm invisible. It's a bit of a shock when Clark Kent turns into 'SuperGob'. I make no apologies. However, I will attempt to be more measured in my expression of my opinions (rolls eyes). Warning though. The Wheelie is not dead yet..


Went for a wobble to the local 24 hour Asda with The Bear for the first time ever late tonight. Felt closed in, needed to get out. Took us absolutely bloomin' ages.  Takes her half an hour alone, bumping into mates not withstanding.

It was creepy. All that space. Lots of  staff beavering away, and lots of bargains tucked away, I noticed, for unusual stuff for our area, like pitted olives and jarred garlic cloves or sun-dried tomatoes tucked away amongst the horribly expensive. Interesting sales technique.

I was gobsmacked by the space above my head. It seemed to go on for miles. I mean, why? Those odd self service / weight tills are a revelation. They're so inaccurate, so some poor lass had to flit from station to station resetting them. Might as well have a normal checkout.

And what's with the talking escalators? Do I really need to be told when to get on and off? It echo'd around the whole store. I half expected Arnold whats-his-knickers to burst out out, red eye gleaming with his BFG (Rather large weapon, madam) asking us to "Stup aside, I zeed a Kingsmill". 

There was a lift. Yup. A lift. Even that talked to us. Asda, take note. Belt up. You obviously aren't married. I have a missus who insists on that. Show some respect.

I was pleased with the dropped curbs, level access, rails, and safe crossings around the store. Though I'd hate that 20 foot Asda sign shining 24/7 in my window.

On the way back, only a few yards away, I noticed a café I never knew existed. A real, old fashioned café that serves a full English breakfast. Remember those? I may even do a #deathwalk tomorrow when Tots has gone to school. Next door to Asda.

G'night folks.

Monday, 28 May 2012


Might have noticed I mentioned VAT-free in one of my tweets. Hmm. Thorny subject that.

It took me years to discover it, and until they introduce PIP (personal independence payment) when who knows? If you are on Higher Level, or Mid Level Care DLA (disability living allowance) and a number of other aid benefits here in the UK, some aids are available VAT free.

More information here. Yup, I know it's an archive. Interesting in itself that it is. DLA and VAT

This tax relief is meant to cover basic disability aids. This means anything you can get from a Mobility or Disability shop, or anywhere else that supplies that equipment. I won't give you a list. 

But all you need to do, at least until April 2013, is you, or a carer fill in a VAT exception form or provide the details, or provide the details to enable such a form to be filled in.

More, most places require you to present to sign the form. Which, as you can imagine can be difficult.

Which is why it's a thorny subject for me. Word got out, didn't it. For the record, the magic phrase in the document is "products made widely available for a group of people to use".

So electric drills, sanders, bench saws, circular saws, planers, lathes and nail guns et-al are out. 

Yeh. I know. "If I just happened to have one?" it would make life so much easier. True. I wish. 

Sorry chaps. Nice try. ;)


Tomorrow, I'm going to remove the tick boxes from the bottom of these posts for a while. I hope that doesn't inconvenience anyone.

S'alright then

Well, I've been checked out, prodded, and tested. That threw up a "a couple of areas that it might be wise to look at" (isn't it always the case?). Nothing that would cause visual or auditory quirks.

'At the worse' it was speculated,  I could have had a momentary blank-out. Strokes have been known to cause epilepsy-type conditions of varying degrees. Apparently lots of perfectly healthy people have unusual experiences. They just don't talk about it for fear of ridicule. 

So they've said not to worry about it, (which I'm not) and chalk it up to experience. Just to let them know if that sort of thing gets much more frequent. Fair enough.

Which is good. :)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Um, I dunno.

I had a very odd experience this tea time. 

Actually, it was between 16:31 and 16:34. How do I know? Because I've got that kind of mind.

There was a tap on the front door, and a tall, slim distinguished gentleman with short white hair and a white goatee beard asked for me by my christian name. That got my attention immediately because he used the name I'm normally called by. I have two christain names, I've used my second all my life except for official purposes, when I use both. Long story :)

He shook my hand, asked whether I was well, how Bear and Tots are, (by their real names) looking relaxed but somewhat distracted, then he looked straight at me, hands in trousers pockets, very intently, for at least 20 seconds. During the pause, I got the chance to, well, look him up and down. I'll get to that in a minute.

"Look" he sighed, shrugging and relaxing again "This is going to sound a bit strange, but no worries? Is that ok with you?" I wouldn't have known him from Adam. So I asked, excuse me, but... He replied "I wouldn't bother about that. I just need you to know, ok, yes?" 

He was tall. Taller than me. About 6'4" I'd say. Late 60's early seventies? Very slim, slicked back very short white hair, goatee beard, neat moustache. A thick material suit, with a waistcoat, really out of keeping with the weather (26 C) with a dark, mid brown, almost tartan pattern. Buttoned. Light tan well polished expensive looking laced shoes. I've racked my brains trying to remember his shirt and tie, but I'm stuck on that one.

There was something about his eyes. Can't put my finger on it.

If I'd seen him in the street, I would have noted a tall slightly eccentric but dapper antique dealer. 

Here's the disconcerting bit. He smiled, turned away, and disappeared. 

I was on my doorstep, I can see all the way up my path to my gate. He sort of, went. He turned and he wasn't there. This bloke was solid as a rock. He shook my hand. He just went.

I know what you're thinking. Strokie, brain damage? Right? No. Never hallucinations. No history of any mental illness including depression. 

I've no idea what to make of it. Well, not quite true. I do, but I don't like it.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Y'now, there are certain unwritten rules in business.

That's because if you want to keep in business you need be part of the business community, however loosely. For instance you get more orders than stock in - who do you turn to for stock? If you get overwhelmed, who can you pass trade to, who you know will offer it back if things get slack? A customer has an unusual request, like wise. 

Of course there's nothing wrong in thinking "What's in it for me?". You're in business to make money after all. Competition is good for everyone. But it's the way you conduct yourself that oils the wheels. Honesty, integrity, and gaining respect aren't only principles, they're useful tools.

I made a little deal not long back. We shook hands on it. In my world, that handshake was 'it'. I set the supply chain in motion, drafted the contract and started knocking together the invoices. Then zilch. Nothing.

So I made the call. "Welcome to the real world kid". Kid? I'm over twenty years older. "It's dog eat dog out there. I told them your offer, they bettered it." Ahuh? Quality? Quantity? Supply? As a matter of interest, did you tell them my offer, or use it as base? "Look kid, this is the way it works. I go to an auction, Until that gavel comes down, all options are open, right until the end".

I pointed out that an auction is an open public competition where everyone is present. That's true whether it's a stuffed cow head or a stock trading floor. "F**k" he replied before hanging up. "Can't believe you're so naive."

Nah. I'm not actually. Not the first time I've been at the wrong end of a brain-picking scam. I made a few phone calls, and his accountant is going have to explain on his tax returns about the 'difficult trading environment' to Her Majesties Revenue & Customs. 

He didn't just inconvenience me, after all. But I have good rep, and I was wise enough to have nothing clicking up a gear until I'd bunged the paperwork in. Sorry, in english that means my suppliers won't do their thing until there's a proper paper trail, at my request. I'd never do supplier credit. Too many have gone to the wall doing that. 

Community, integrity, honesty, but most of all, reputation :)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Don't worry be happy

I've just read a restaurant review that that included the word 'excrescences'. Though I hate those places with a passion, I love reading reviews. The reviewer was the excellent Matthew Norman, so I'll let him off. Just this once. Excrescences indeed. I could do without reading words like that at tea-time, aka Lunch, if one's posh.

From Google. 

  • A distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, esp. one that is the result of disease or abnormality.
  • An unattractive or superfluous addition or feature.
Looks over shoulder and whispers.. Hey, you'll never see me wordy like that. Honest.....


Went for a wobble with Bear to a shop. Across the field, then across a main road. It's hills, hills all the way. 

Not bad on the way down. Roads are ok. These have steps and drop kerbs, which is cool. 35 degree fields are not. Yes. I admit it. I measured it. I'm nerdy, and there's an app for that. Oh, and just for the record that's, given a 35 degree angle, and knowing the distance, a roughly 155 foot rise between top and bottom. So there. Don't need an app for that.

Takes The Bear 25 mins alone there and back. Took us 40 mins together. Might have been a bit quicker without Bears swearing breaks. I wos shocked. Shocked I tells you :) Ker-knackered I am.


I spoke to a politician today. I don't know what I expected. I'm old school. Come from a time they made sense, even if it was disagreeable. It started out fine. They phoned me. Hard as I tried, I couldn't get any sense out of the chap.I wheedled, cajoled, jollied, pushed and parried. I reassured him he wan't being recorded. 

And.... ? Nuthin. He talked sound bites and rubbish. I swear he was a confused actor who'd never seen a script. Maybe he had one, but I wasn't following it. I'm not even sure it was English. So here's a word for you.


  • Obfuscation (or beclouding) is the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, wilfully ambiguous, and harder to interpret.
G'night folks.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wow, what a day. Bear, a nephew, father-in-law, and good neighbours have been running trip after trip, at their own expense decanting my lads furniture into his sisters and my place. 

He lost his job at a major bank a few weeks back, was messed around by the Jobcentre - they cancelled his claim because he failed to sign on on a bank holiday. They aren't open on a bloody bank holiday. Luckily, the private company who does housing benefit have refunded his rent, which he'd paid from his meagre reserves, too late. He had to give notice to his private landlord well before that, as he couldn't see any income coming in.

More they agreed to pay his full rent (which he's already paid from his own pocket) until the time he moved out. Beyond that, nope. It's crazy.

Have the Jobcentre admitted their mistake? Hell no. New claim, and he has to appeal. Twots. He should get some income in a few days under the new claim

SO he's moving in with his sister. He was/is given priority preference for social housing. But nah. Nothing. Good job he has somewhere to go, temporarily. Digging around the Net, this isn't unusual.

Meanwhile, I've been cat sitting. A kitty, a three-legged, ours, and a woofler. It's been like negotiating with United Nations, what with pets and people in and out  all day. I'm shattered.

Time alone now though. It's good.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Rough pm


"F*****k benefits fiddler, make 'im bend down and pick his crap up!" Can of beer in his hand, red faced, spittle on his chin and leaning unsteadily over my fence. I built that fence. Little by little, bit by bit, 12 years ago.

Bear was raking up bits of my Budlii as I shaped it. It's just under my front window, and I like to keep it trim so I can see the front gate from where I sit indoors.

I raised an eyebrow,  Star Trek Spok like. Bear and I recently celebrated our 26th year together. So when I sat back on my constant companion, the folding bar stool, sighed and quickly glanced sideways at Bear, she tugged gently at my sleeve.

"Dray, Dray, leave it love?...I'll put the kettle on...." Bless. She knows better than that.

I'm an 'in yer face' confident person, but gently mind. I'm old, old, old, and though her advice was wise, it's nothing I've not seen before. Across my little front lawn, through Bears Aquilegia, I took his empty beer can from him and crushed it underfoot. 

"I read the papers. I know what tw**s like you fiddle. There was some in that can!".  "That's why they're trying to get rid of you". The venom in his voice was palpable. Are you ok mate I asked? "No. They've stopped my Jobseekers for nowt. Bet you have yours" Nope, never claimed it. "Bollocks, everyone has to".

I explained gently he needed to sleep. He's very tired.  A long, deep sleep.  A warm comfy quilt, a comfortable pillow. To stretch out and close his eyes and rest for a few hours. To imagine the safest place he'd ever been and go there. But the important thing was to rest.


He frowned a moment, turned and slouched off, looking at his feet.

I'm used to people like him. I used to be shocked by it, but not any more. When you're known to have disabilities, and you're seen to do a bit of gardening, or heaven forbid, anything you enjoy, you become an easy target because you become, in the minds of some, weak. If you need help with some aspects of your care, then one must be on the fiddle - because, the 'logic' goes, if you need help, you can't do anything. Help = money, therefore if you can do some things, we shouldn't get the money.

We get targeted by the odd idiot, sensationalist and grossly inaccurate tabloids, governments, and their followers, and those who, like that chap become bitter because their own situation takes a down-turn.

Sadly it's become more common since some newspapers have picked up the governments drive to get a grossly overestimated half  a million people off Disability Living Allowance  "and into work".

Errmm? DLA isn't means tested. I'm allowed to work and claim. Get it right, Ian Duncan Smith. Depends on ones abilities which work you can do. 

Some with disabilities are vulnerable. Because of abuse, discrimination and money worries, there's been a marked increase in mental health problems and suicides on top of any disability. Can you imagine paying for care but having the worry of a mortgage or rent and food?

I known people who have been spat on, and/or shouted at and threatened while out shopping or at a bank.

Edit F'rinstance

I'm lucky. My disabilities are physical, not mental, and I have a number of skills at my disposal earned long and hard over more than 50 years. 

I could have punched the chap in the nose.  But ye small gods gave me a voice, and a good 'un, and I know how to use it :)


Sometimes people need champions. So if you have a disability, and you find yourself needing support, leave a comment and I'll point you to a network of friends who can help. Or twitter me at @wheelieslug.


Phew. It's with some relief that we discovered an organisation that not only can provide housing advice and food parcels, but actually wants us to encourage people to contact them.

Guess it was inevitable that once we'd helped a couple of people, word got around and we've had a steady stream of people wanting help for a long time. But we aren't an organisation, just a private household, and I've been really uncomfortable making value judgements. Inevitably, we've had people who've tried to take advantage.

I'd call someone pleading for help with food for a few days, then being seen at the supermarket checkout with 20 cans of Fosters taking the mick? Or another who it turned out had a freezer full but just didn't 'fancy' what they had? Or how about the one provided with a food parcel seen minutes later buying £20 mobile phone credit.

I mean, honestly. 

It's been much more demanding over the last few weeks since the Government brought in a cut off date for Employment Support Allowance, applied retrospectively, which means that thousands of people have found themselves over £99 a week worse off. Add to that the local Advice Centre had it's government funding withdrawn, so their waiting list was humongous.......

We weren't completely alone, but the people that helped US were little fund starved charities, often kept afloat by the dedication of one or two people.

We have bills to pay and a home to run just like anyone else.

To be fair, the charitable one in the household is Bear. I'm more likely to booby trap the fridge, and I've often had a combination of words including 'Camel' 'Sandstorm' and 'Arse' on my C.V. 

As luck would have it, a friend who'd had their benefits stopped mentioned to their GP that they'd been without income for a week and were out of food, and given a number to ring. They asked us to ring on their behalf, and the charity were only too glad to help.

A round of applause for SOAR

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Make do and mend.

I spend a lot time looking at my doormat. My chair/computer chair looks straight down our 18 ft hallway towards the front door.

There was something bugging me about it. It kinda just sat there, doing it's doormat thing. I've watched it doing that. Door opens, people walk in. People walk out, open the door. Heck, some have been known to wipe their feet on it. Teenagers bounce on it, dance on it.......

Stomp, stomp, stomp. Always across the doormat. It's heck of a rough existence. There was something wrong about that. It niggled me. It's probably the most used thing in the house.

Then it hit me. I have an outside light that's solar powered. As usual when I buy something cheap and cheerful like that, I ripped it apart to see how it works. Nothing unexpected. Solar panel trickle feeds power to a couple of rechargeable 'AA' batteries during the day. Not very successfully. It is northern Britain. At night,  a simple proximity sensor detects something nearby and switches it on for a couple of minutes.

Bear with me here.

Coincidently, I'd been sketching a design for a simple foot powered lathe. Nothing sparkling - got the idea from  looking at an old foot powered Singer sewing machine. Also coincidently, some slovenly bugger had chucked over my garden fence a rather battered wind-up lamp.

I'd repaired it, but there was no handle, and it was a really obscure remarkably big fitting for the handle. It would probably cost  more than the lamp to make one, so it's ended up in my 'bits box'. Like the solar light, the principle is straight forward. A couple of 'AA'' 's powered by a handle, that winds a little electric motor, the sort you'd find in a hand-fan. Only it works in reverse. Wind the handle, turns the motor, output is AC (alternating current) the output is shoved through a simple capacitor-four-diode rectifier bridge smoother to produce DC (direct current) that charges the batteries.

See where I'm going here? 

Kerching! So. A simple bellows contraption under the doormat operates a spring thingie that rotates a shaft on the motor. The output is smoothed (rectified) and fed to the outside light to supplement the solar power.

Ah, those of you who know a little electronics. What happens on the upswing of the 'bellows'? Not telling you.

But a few tweaks and cross connections I hope to trickle feed a mobile phone, and I'm going to steam-punk (for the hell of it) the remains of the lamp, and stick it on the other side of the door. 

Good, eh?

Monday, 14 May 2012

My Tot's is doing 6 of her GCSE's a year early. Not that either her or I see the benefit in that for her. She intends to move on to higher education anyway. Not that I'm not proud they consider her capable, but what's the point?

Having said that, over the last couple of years I'm pleased that much of the maths and sciences are more real world based. For instance, how much electricity does a 600 kwph shower use in 15 mins at nine pence per kwph (lol !), or a 60w light bulb (which are no longer for sale and haven't been for a year) in 4 hours.

Dated, but simple and useful maths skills.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Pick me up, before you go go..

My personal mantra :- "Their only thinking of me, their only..." through, I have to admit, gritted teeth. Sometimes.

"How can" a kindly neighbour asked "A bloke like you mess around in the kitchen?" Do what? Bloke like what? Mess? I threatened, dead pan faced, to punch him in the nose. Then I danced a little jig. Ended up slap bang on my arse of course, but it was worth it to see the consternation and everyone run around like headless chickens.

The answer is, of course, as I told him, once I'd been hoisted unceremoniously to my feet in a fit of giggles, is that being a Strokie is bit like sex. Cooking takes careful planning, lots of unnecessary ceremony, is fun to do and hilarious to watch. Metaphorically speaking. Of course.....

It's just that one doesn't leave bruises on the bum. Apparently. I'm told. 

Our kitchen, in fact, our home - Wheelie Towers, as one on line correspondent calls it - has lots of little labour saving devices. We have a cheapo little 'wizzywig'. That's an electric hand mixer with a jug, and a couple of little bowls with blades, a whisk attachment and a thingie to stick into pans and liquidise.

I use an odd little device that consists of a plastic grooved handle and a long rubber strip that was designed to tighten joints in plastic pipes for plumbers. It's excellent to undo jam jars and sauce bottle tops.

I have a hook that enables me to lever open ring pull cans, and something called a 'helping hand', a really simple device about three feet long that has a simple lever action through a string attached to 'jaws'. It's a godsend. I don't have to bend down to pick  something up.

My eternal companion is a folding bar chair. It's was cheap, it's light, and a quick flip of the left wrist unfolds it, whether that's in the kitchen or a couple of mins rest digging the veg patch. Work a little, sit a little works for me.

I'm quite inquisitive, imaginative, and inventive so something as simple as a pop bottle can become a container, funnel, plant drip feeder, thermos, or  a pressure vessel. Handy for small scale home brewing.  

I know I keep  saying this, but..

My point is, one should not get confused between brain and mind. 

I'm fine being seen as a little eccentric. But I was pre-stroke anyway :)

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Dark Arts

Our local Chippie is rubbish, and expensive. Floppy wet oily chips and battered fish that's not bad, but at £2.90 a pop for haddock (my preference, because its sustainable) is way too expensive for a family.

I'm not a big fan of supermarkets, but as our last local fishmonger disappeared long ago, it's a case of "needs must" and we now have a 24 hour Asda 10 minutes away as The Bear walks. Drat.

The intense competition between the three supermarkets within a couple of miles has some unexpected benefits, and has seen some nice price drops on own brand stuff. For instance, Morrison's has two absolutely ginourmmous  chickens for a tenner. Sectioned up and frozen, they're great value for money and last for ages.

Likewise, Bear picked up 500g of frozen haddock for £3. Pieces vary per pack, but there were four in this pack, to cook from frozen.

I know how to make my own batter, but out of curiosity I did a quick google, and discovered that most recipes for batter are basically a Yorkshire Pudding recipe. That is so wrong on so many levels, not least that you end up with a smooth, glossy floppy batter, often with a layer of uncooked batter between the rubbery outside and the fish. Batter should be crisp and bubbly.

So, here's my recipe. You might like to experiment. For instance, using Stout, Bitter or sparkling spring water instead of tap water.

My lot insist I use sunflower oil. Me? I'd prefer beef or pork dripping. But what used to be a quick and cheap sarnie spread is astronomically priced. And I wouldn't use lard if you paid me. Well, maybe if you paid me....

What you'll need.

A cooking thermometer. Very useful, and you can pick one up from Amazon for a fiver.
About half a litre of any oil. If you want to be posh, (and rich) try walnut, sesame or groundnut.
A wok. Yup, a wok. I wouldn't be seen dead with a chip pan. So uncool.
As much flour as you need. Seriously. I make my own bread, so I always have strong white handy.
A bowl of water, beer, or stout - but not lager.
A level teaspoon of baking powder
A good pinch of salt and pepper. I use Coarse Sea Salt and black pepper.
Fish comes in handy. Any fish, filleted and boned. Try smoked mackerel sometime.
Someone to hold your hand. It's terrifying.

Put some music on. Dancing is allowed, but if you listen to Sinatra or Frankie Vaugh, it'll burn.

Pour the oil into the wok, and bring it gently up to heat. Oh, and open the kitchen window. Check with the food thermometer to get it up to 190 C or more. More is better, because as soon as the fish goes in, the temperature will drop. This is the scary bit because 190-200 C is seriously hot.


A little trick if you don't have a cooking thermometer is to cut a few sugar lump sized pieces of potato. If you see the oil begin to smoke slightly, drop in a potato cube. It will sink. If it sinks, and takes time to rise, the oil (or fat) is too cool. Fish it out and chuck it. 

When one is immediately surrounded by bubbles and rises quickly to the surface, the oil is at temperature. Works with chips too.

Water in one bowl. A good couple or three handfuls of flour in another. Same again in the final bowl, but stir enough of your chosen liquid to make a thick, cloying paste. Too thin? Add more flour. Stir in the baking powder.

Dip the fish in the water. Shake. Not you, you fool, the fish. Dip in the dry flour. Dip into the batter, and immediately, and gently, lower into the hot oil. It'll fizz.  Using tongs or a fork - it should float - turn until it's a deep, bubbly golden yellow. Next.

Serve immediately. 

The left over flour and stuff? Meh. Slap in an egg, beat it like you ARE the one washing the pots, Presto. Yorkshire Pud.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Learn, make and mend

I try to keep myself sharp by attempting to learn something new at least once a day, however small. 


One of the handy little features of Windows 7 is being able to drag and drop icons oft used programs to the task bar. Like 'quick launch' on XP with bells on. But if it's an icon for for a batch file, it won't work.

A batch file ends in dot bat. ie, run.bat. It's just a very old fashioned and useful way of running one or more programs from a list, (and much more) or in my case, a java script program. To cut to the chase, to solve the problem right click the icon, click on the shortcut tab, and put 'cmd.exe /C' and a space in front of the text in box marked Target. So in my case that would be cmd.exe /C "C:\Program Files (x86)\Bayer HealthCare\GLUCOFACTS Deluxe\run.bat".

You'll now be able drag and drop the icon onto the task bar. 


Only got a few mins to type this, but basically, a photo of a bit of rock will replace this text later/tomorrow. A neighbour heard  on the grapevine I used to do a bit of carving.

Last week he gave me a teeny, tiny, tungsten steel double ended chisel. 

This week he's picked up a 6" x 6" piece of multi layered soft flaky millions of years old sandstone while out walking his dogs on a local field. Gosh, the history of that rock....

So, I'm going to carve on it a wild Boar. Left handed, 'cos I can't do fine work right handed. 


I'm married. Wanna list? :)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Well, there's a to do. 

I've discovered that technically, we are financially negative. That should be way impossible.With most people, that would bring to mind direct debits coming out too early, bank charges, the good old fashioned 'never-never' or house hold outgoings greater than income. Nope. Don't have those problems.

What's happened, and it took a little luck, is that, ahem, a household member has been feeling sorry for many, many people who are on unemployment benefits who borrowed and were unable to pay back 'on time'.

I say luck, because I couldn't get a straight answer, and offered to pay pay 'me' back £20 - "However" he and his partner explained "we need to buy a bus pass, and we need some food in "So could he pay me back £10 now, and £10 in a few days?"

Being the master of the dead-pan face, sure, I said, sure. A few joking quips and and a bit of pointed banter later, I discerned they had a freezer (note they own and run a freezer)  full of food, but little veg. I later had a chat to eldest daughter, and found out I wasn't the only one. She'd had a fall out with the same couple after lending them money, and while nipping down to a local supermarket later the same evening they'd visited us, seen them at the checkout with a 20-can pack of beer.

Time, I decided, to do the thing I hate the most. Make some phone calls. I've discovered that 'we' are owed a rather large amount of money, £20-£25 a pop spread across many people. Most who can run mobile phones, flat screen tv's and have overdrafts, loans and credit cards, but thought I knew they can't pay back on time.

I've explained that they know what thought did, and it was messy.

We aren't too disadvantaged.  Up to date and extra with house hold bills, food on the table, warm house, rent in front and no bank stuff to worry about. Bloody good job, innit?

I've got a promise that it's not going to happen again, and I'll get the money back. It was a little here and a little there, and  "They promised to pay back on time, all of them" 'Course they did.

I don't know. I really don't. What's that old saying? 'There's one born every minute'. Yup.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Boom and ...

Now, I couldn't compete with that. 

Some years ago I had a nice little sideline designing and printing bespoke business cards. Time rolled on, and the days of the 8-bit computer such as the Amiga and Atari ST came and (almost) went.

Industry woke up to the idea that home users and businesses people would pay for anonymous, mass produced simple PC's. That they were actually quite limited compared to the 8-bits,  didn't matter. They did the job. I know. I still have all three.

So there was a surplus of Atari's ST's in particular. The price plummeted. 

This was the days of the 'greed is good' era. Everyone wanted to be a high flyer in the financial world, get themselves known, and for a while, trade was brisk. Then some bright spark bought up hundreds of Atari ST's,  chucked them in even more aged, repainted Space Invader cabinets with some robust dot matrix printers.

They planted them in Service Stations and Hotel lobbies along motorways across the UK, mass producing five black and white cards for a quid. I couldn't charge less than £1.20 a colour card, and that was a minimum 60p per card, bulk a cost, or 75p per card for small amounts with a shaving of profit. I was stuffed.

Damn, I wish I'd thought of that.

Today I watched a TV advert where they are selling 250 colour business cards, various designs, for £2.50.

Despite understanding the business model, and and knowing their swimming in invisible investment (Debt And Deal - I was self  financing). 1p per colour card retail including vat?  I'm impressed.

Shows you though how small companies can struggle to compete, and why the banks are unwilling to lend to them. 

By the way, check out's 'video cards'  - birthday, anniversary, that sort of thing - for a good idea.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


Getting lots of people around here needing help.

Basically, what's happening is that for peeps on Employment Service Allowance through ill health and disability, there have been changes that mean that anyone on ESA  is stuffed.(It used be called Incapacity Benefits)  It used to be reviewed every 2 years. Now it's reviewed once a year. Retrospectively.  Worse, a lot of those people are unable to work.

So people who have been too ill to work who have been on ESA for years are suddenly without an income, and having to look for work. But the present coalition government have shut down Remploy, who employed a lot of people who were in receipt of  IB & ESA. But the work is unavailable because employers want the brightest and the best, not someone who needs support to do a job.

Personal view. I'm not on ESA, IB, Nor on Job Seekers. We are an ordinary family providing food from our own stocks.

It seems that there are 'food banks' popping up all over the UK, so I'm in tentative negotiation with local Catholic and Methodist churches to host one. But they're very reticent. I'm tired, so if you'll forgive me, I'll explain what that means in another post.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Blow that.

Is it just me, or am I the only one who finds makings personal attacks, being abusive of politicians, and just being nasty to people, uncalled for?

Some of the nicest people I've come across on the 'tinterent have turned out to have a dark side, and they wonder why they can't further their cause.

I'm fine with a little leg pulling, maybe a little sarcasm, but just being nasty - nah. Don't get that.

If that's the way the world works, please let me off at the next stop.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Should you be doing that?

I was using my jigsaw to shape a piece of wood.

"I mean, no offence, but couldn't you get someone to do that for you?" said my neighbour.

Sigh. I'm sure they mean well. Sure, I could get someone to do things for me, but would defeat the object. A powered jigsaw may seem an unlikely disability aid, but then again, so is an electric hand mixer, or an arm to lean on. 

I can't use a hand saw, but then again, I never could. Couldn't cut a straight line by hand in a million years :)

Power tools that most people use as a quick and convenient aid also allow me independence, and that's the real point. Anything that releases me from dependence on others is a big plus.

Mind you, it's not been without it's problems. When you have a soft hearted Bear and power tools, a week rarely goes past without someone wanting to borrow them. Someone borrowed my rather expensive powered wood plane a few weeks ago. A couple of weeks later when asked to give it back, they refused, claiming it was theirs and they'd always had it. 

A couple of days later they got rather drunk, and told one of my kids "Well, it's not like HE is ever going to need it any more, is it?" 

Y'know, it's just not worth arguing and getting stressed out with people like that. Life's too short. As you can imagine though, the good hearted souls that got to hear about that quietly disconnected from them. It's lonely in the wilderness. Neighbours certainly won't lend them anything. 

I'm really disturbed by the attitude though. I read in horror about "The Sun" Shop a Benefit Cheat phone line. The Department For Work and Pensions has run one for years. Their officially released figure show that 97.4%  of all complaints to their benefits fraud line are unjustified - but they say they have talk to everyone accused.

When you consider that a lot of people with disabilities have mental health issues, by that I mean their disability is mental health,  and those with physical problems have clinical depression, how to goodness do the 97.4% innocent cope with that?

Mr. S, does a little gardening. Mrs B. struggles to the corner shop. Maybe one or the other went on holiday. We are a weird nation. We celebrate Olympic Paraolympians, then report them because they acheive. Sick.


Oops! :) Quick update. Had a visitor a few mins ago. "Read your blog. You know it was a different make and model, he said he'd told you". Uhuh. So, how, I asked, unless he had the two, side by side, does he know it's a different make and model? And what make and model is it? And no he didn't. 

"What?" How does he know it's different? I said. Unless he'd used the two? 

Exit stage left one totally perplexed visitor. Bit's may be borked dear reader, nothing wrong with my mind. Bless you.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Five Fingers Of Steel

This, over at JULES FOOD looks delicious. If I can get The Bear to stand still long enough, we'll do it this evening.

Bear deals with the day to day cooking and baking, I do the fancy stuff, and breads, pickles and chutneys, under strict supervision. I don't know what they think I'm going to do. Fall into the bread maker maybe? Mind you, having a team mate comes in useful for the bending down to get stuff out of cupboards stuff.

Not that I can't bend down. Down is easy. I do down a lot. What can I say? I laugh in the face of danger.... It's  the up bit that's a little bit of a problem :)

I had a cerebellum and left a sided stroke. The left side was a 'minor' which means my right side is a little inconvenienced. The rare cerebellum stroke virtually wiped out the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance and motor control. Technically, I should be unable to walk at all.

Interestingly, the loss or severe damage to the cerebellum is also a symptom of severe alcoholism. Which some sneaky medic tests for now and again. I'm cool with that. Always negative of course. Can't say I blame them. If caught unguarded I can appear as pissed as a newt.

I've adapted very well to floors that, if I stop thinking about it, would turn into the deck of a heaving ship that would slap me in the nose to say hello, and cups that even now insist on moving before my hand reaches them. Bear and I were having a laugh last night about how my fork insists on poking in my ear if I get distracted while eating, and the problems of getting turmeric out of a white shirt.

Having said that, its astonishing how the human brain adapts. Better still, the mind. If the mind isn't strong, the body is borked anyway. I'm lucky in that a circuit clicked in that realised as far as limbs were concerned, there is nothing wrong with them. It's the control centre that's sugared. So it's a mechanical dysfunction. Easy :)

I took great inspiration from an Isaac Asimov short story, where the basic plot was that a humanoid robot controlled five others in a mining operation, who began to act randomly. Cracking good yarn. I believe it's called 'Five Fingers of Steel'.


I'm terrible when it comes to food. I love to cook. Not so good on the eating bit. After my first stroke, a peculiar side effect was I lost the ability to feel hungry. So if I'm busy, or being my stubborn single minded, pig-head self, I'll forget. In response, Bear will cook me these gynourmous meals, and file them in the fridge.

Then each of those meals can last me three days. Gotta give her ten out of ten for effort :)

Have to go. Idiot dog has dumped a well-slimey ball on my lap and giving me the big brown eye look. Recommend  a woofler if you don't have one. And Sniff the slightly demented 15 year old cat is having a mad half hour. She's sat on my keyboard swatting at my head and I'm having to type around her bum......