Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Warning. Long'un.

An interesting week.

First our youngest cat, Smudge, who will be about four next month went missing for a couple of days. Thats not unusual, because he's usually very much an Out Cat. He's also quite a feisty little lad. Usually he will only allow youngest daughter to pick him up for instance.

Smudge is a stray that adopted us when he was a kitty. He's always been a big eater, but has always been tiny - compared to our other cats.

We were a little worried because over those two days and nights temperatures hovered just above freezing.  But since he had a long record of his collar and and name tag disappearing, we strongly suspected that he had a second home, so we weren't too concerned. Out Cats do that.

The Bear spotted him stretched out on teenagers trampoline. He allowed her to pick him up and carry him in,   and that was the first alarm bell. He allowed me to turn him on his back and cuddle him while Bear got him some food. He just laid there, blinking at me with his big green eyes. Ding number two. He'd lost a heck of a lot of weight, and he allowed me to put him in the dog basket, his favorite place, and amazingly, cover him up.

We made him an appointment with the vet, and after a few days were he rarely ate, lost his meow, the vet did a blood test and told us we had a very poorly  puss. He believes he has Feline Leukemia, known as FELV Plus, which he was probably born with.

Effectively, his immune system is knackered. There are some very expensive treatments available. The vet says that it would probably be a waste of money. In a human, we'd be looking at going for it because of the length of our lifespan. However, because a cat averages about 16 years, he said it would be wiser to manage any infections as they happen, and he should live a long and happy life with the the condition.

He's had an antibiotic injection, and for the next few days we have to give him an penicillin tablet twice a day, and he's perked up no end. He's eating well, scrapping when we pick him up, meowing again, and sleeping lots, but won't go out. Down side? He's pooping and peeing all over Tots The Teenagers 'converse' shoes........


Had another mini-stroke a couple of days ago. No probs. Used to it. I would advise anyone to dial emergency services and get admitted. I didn't. Otherwise I'd be in and out like a yo-yo. I'm an 'interesting case' so they would keep me in for up to six weeks at a time, to teach medical students. Bless 'em, but thanks, but no thanks. I just emailed my docs to let them know :) NOT recommended, ok?


My favorite practice nurse retired last Friday. Same age as me (mid fifties). Y'know, The Lady, who also ran our local stroke club, has been a rock in my life for fifteen years. I had lots of questions. Does she still teach young nurses? Will she still phone people to ask how they are? Most unprofessionally, I grabbed her and gave her a cuddle.

"Aw!" she said. "Thats sweet". Aw heck. Sweet in my 50's.

I walked away. I don't do goodbyes.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Morris Minor

Great fun.

A Morris Minor 'broke down' a few streets away. The poor owners gave up pushing the poor beastie outside our place. Don't blame them. We're on the only flat bit in an area surrounded by very steep hills. Even our back garden slopes.

There was a knock on the door "Can we use your phone please ?".  Normally I'd say no. But looking at a wet dishevelled and exhausted elderly couple on my doorstep with the fog blowing behind them, well, I just couldn't.

Craning my neck, I saw outside - a Morris Minor! By golly that brought back memories. So ignoring their plight, and lost in wonder, I wandered up the path. I know. I should have asked them in for a cuppa, but....

I got him to try starting it, theory being that all that pushing might got something into the carb, but nope. So a quick twiddle under the bonnet and knock on the carb (an empty carb sounds different than a full or flooded one) I decided he probably had a flat battery. The Morris was a pain for electrical leakage on cold damp mornings.

"Have you" I asked, against all hope "got a starting handle?"  "Heck" he replied "I might have had once"

I did! A quick dig around in Jabba (my hut) I found the mangled bit of iron work that has been used for just about everything but a starting handle for years. A quick modification with some insulating tape on the business end, and a few taps with something heavy to get it through the rust in where it was supposed fit, and we were in business.

I don't suppose many people don't know what a starting handle is? I'm not going to go into technical detail, but it was once the standard way of getting cars and tractors to start. Stick it in the front, jerk it around a couple of times, swear when it kicks you back painfully somewhere delicate, try again. Car starts, what's left of the battery charge takes over.

So I asked him to turn the ignition on to enable the pump to fill float chamber, then turn off, pull out the choke then I turned engine over with the handle to 'prime' the cylinders leaving the engine at the approach to a compression - then turn on the ignition on again.

I gave a smart pull on the handle, got a kick on the shin and my thumb from the handle for my trouble.

Started first time. They were chuffed. With some sadness I gave them my handle, told them collect some petrol in a canister (petrol stations don't like you to keep the engine running)  and keep the old girl running for  at least an hour.

And buy a new battery and a modern alternator.

Girl? All cars are girls.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


I mean, c'mon who wouldn't want one?

As Bear says. I can want all I like...... :)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Slappers and stickers

Here's a tip.

I often make my own jams, pickles and chutneys, and it kind of makes sense to me that if I have to spend money on jam jars, I might as well buy jams and wotnot from the shop. So I barter with friends and neighbours. They get a jar of my rather wonderful sweet chilli, piccalilli, jam or chutney if they provide a couple of jars.

Being a Brit, I ignore stupid European Union  rules that re-using jam jars is illegal that could land you with a £5000 fine or even a jail term.

I naturally did the Wheelie thing and phoned the European Commision in London for a friendly and amusing chat. The person I spoke to suggested - when they got back to me after deciding I was mostly harmless, that the "Church of England needed a good slap"

They deny it, saying that it only applies to commercial operations, the EU doesn't have the power to enforce fines, and anyway that it's down to local authorities to enforce it. Don't know British local authorities do they?

Anyways, removing the labels is easy. Soak them for a while in a sink of hot water. Removing the glue left behind used to be a problem. No amount of scrubbing seem to shift it. I used to buy a quite expensive 'orange oil' which was very good, but it isn't cheap.

I have teenage girl. Teenagers like stickers. Bloomin' things turn up everywhere. Doors, on dining chairs. Removing them was easy, but the same old glue problem. Out of orange oil, and fed up of scrubbing, I sat and thought what it was about it that worked.

So I tried orange skin. Nope. Orange juice? Nope. Lemon Juice, nah. So if it wasn't the citrus element?

It had to be the oil. So I tried sunflower oil. Bingo! worked first time. Since then I've discovered that left-behind-adhesive can also be removed by smearing it with vaseline, leaving it for a few minutes, and wiping off.

And the EU rules? I don't recycle guv, honest. I re-purpose. We don't defy rules. We find a way around them :)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Twists and turns.

Life sure has some interesting twists and turns.

Nearly thirty years ago I went through a messy divorce, and my ex disappeared. I won joint custody of our daughter. The problem was enforcing the order 'in absence' . Eventually, she was traced by the courts and I to Fareham, Havant (overlooking Portsmouth) with her then boyfriend, who worked as a bus driver.

As part of the tracing process I spoke to the guy running Portsmouth Transport, who kindly offered me a job in admin! Apparently I had "Good rep" :) He confirmed the address for my ex's partner. I know. That kind of privacy violation would be horrifying nowadays - but he was sympathetic, and wanted to do everything he could to help.

Naturally, I told the Courts, who ordered supervised access at that address. That meant I'd be accompanied by a Social Worker. Fine with me. After all, I was the instigator of the order.

Out of the blue, I had phone call from someone called Ms. Hurell  explaining that  it would 'nicer' if I met my ex and daughter at a local social services centre. Cool.

After a long and arduous journey by coach from here up north via London, I arrived in Havant to a bit of a shock. The massive multiple tower blocks where my ex was supposed to live was a  pile of rubble. Just across road was a little stone built building that I had been told was the 'Social Services Centre' by Ms Hurell.

It was gaily decorated inside, full of kiddy pics. But the only people there were my ex, my daughter, and Ms Hurell who explained that the Centre was in the process of relocation.

It was awful. The Hurell woman launched into a tirade. A total nightmare. I was shouted at, screamed at that she needed me to raise my voice so she could hear anything I said for her notes. She asked for copies of the court papers I carried, and promptly tore them up. Called me a fraud and a cheat. I couldn't believe she could behave that way in front of a child. In the end, I called the police. My wide eyed ex curled up sobbing in a corner :(

Exit one ex, dragging behind her a daughter shouting Daddy, and the Hurell woman. Police arrived, and asked for my name, address, and any court papers. Errrr? They secured the building, and I made the long journey home. My ex disappeared, never to be seen again.


Fast forward 30 years. Bear makes contact with someone on facebook with exactly the same name as my daughter. If she hadn't married that is. Looks exactly - seriously- like my sister. Even the pictures I have, and this lady has, when she was a toddler ARE the same pictures. Same photos, same location.

"I know who my dad is. It's not your hubby. Good luck" :(


I've contacted social services in Portsmouth. They've done some very thorough checks, and confirmed that along with the tower blocks my ex was supposed to live in, the social services centre was 'not in use' at that time. They have no record of me, nor do they have any record of anyone ever employed by them called 'Hurell'.

She was a fake. Crazy. I mean, wow.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Oh Wow! Someone has gifted me with an original 1930's detective book. It's wonderful. It actually starts with "It's was a cold night in the the windy city..."

As my sister would say "Yeah. She rolled her eyes, he rolled them back" I absolutely love 1930's detective pulp fiction. The hyperbole, the overuse of adjectives, the sexism "Honey, step aside, this is a mans job"

"His barrel was long, oiled, glistening, and the rain beat relentlessly against the cracked glass" Oh, Matron!

It can't get better than that. I just love it.

Beats the hell outa 50 shades of grey mummy porn......

Friday, 12 October 2012

Doing my thing.

I managed to fall out with a neighbour or two. Couldn't be happier!

Neighbour Mr A from day to day is a nice enough chap. Friendly, courteous, helpful and jovial. When he gets a few beers down his neck though, he's downright racist. I guess I just became fed up with him proudly telling me that he was "English as the day is long. English as chips and fish, English as Roast Beef and Bacon and Eggs!" which is his pet phrase when he's had a few.

I went into smart arsed pedant mode. I pointed out we are on the Julian calendar, which is technically Roman.

Battered fish is a long held Jewish tradition and English chips originated in what is now Belgium. The first    commercial fish and chip shop is recognised as run by the Isaacs family in what is now Whitechapel in London in the 1860's. The Isaacs, were, of course, Jewish. You'll even find references to Fried Fish in Charles Dickens Oliver Twist  published in 1838. (reference? read it)

In my opinion, the Belgians still make the best chips.

Roast beef came from everywhere. It's impossible to pin it down, though my favorite is the French, despite their teenagers tendency to shout "Oy, Roas Biff!" to make fun of their english counterparts if the spend any time there. As I did. My favourite point of origin for purely romantic reasons is Morocco. Though they used cinnamon.

Bacon. Preserving meat and fish in salt has been done around the world for those cultures that could afford it for ever. Salt has been a currency for thousands of years in those cultures that have access to it. Food preserved in salt had extra value. Eat your heart out Mc Donalds.

Just to be awkward, I pointed out that the British Royal Family are actually called Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. See. Told you I hit pedant mode.

Neighbours Mr and Miss B, Pensioner and daughter (he's a widower) kept asking to borrow a tenner (£10).

I don't mind as a one off, but it happened a little too often. So I've called them in. Yup. I asked them to come down so I can explain, because it's so daft.

They're short of money. So they ask to borrow. So they do. For gas/electricity/food whatever. Thats a tenner they have to pay back next time, which means that when they get their income they're short of money.

If they ask to borrow on a regular basis, I'm down by, lets say a tenner, and so are they. The bottom line is, I've had to be kind and tell them they're just have to go without. I referred them to two food banks who won't ask too many questions, who'll provide them with food per person for a week.

Not made me popular........

Don't provide blow, cigs and beer tho' do they? :) 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Apples at Wheelies

A bright and breezy day. Managed to get plenty of sleep - well, in short bursts, despite the best efforts of Jazzy the kitten, whose preferred method of getting me up is to lick my beard or crawl under the quilt and nibble whatever's closest. This morning she nibbled. Shot out of bed like a rocket.

Whoo Hoo! Me time! Picks self up off the floor. Hello Floor.

Luckily I don't mind being up at 04:45. Sleep can be an annoying interruption to life. Usual routine. Once out of the bathroom, news on, while a pint pot of strong tea brews, then text editor on and tapping out notes while keeping an eye on the time while listening to Paul Lewis podcasts on my phone.

06:00. Checks blood sugar levels. 5.4 A teeny bit low. Tablets. Counts tablets. 13? Bear's got it right. Have to take 'em, otherwise I feel like I have a bad case of flu - streaming eyes, streaming nose. Is it a side effect of taking them in the first place? I dunno.

Don't bother with Facebook. Not my thing. My Bear loves it though. To be honest, I'm not very sociable. I'm the original Grumpy Old Man. Tried some toast. Not into toast. Can't see the sense of it. Why buy bread if you want to burn it? I paid a quid fifty for that loaf. Or rather, she did. Dog eats toast, Dad drinks tea. Much keyboard tapping, ensure I'm decent for video conference with mates in Japan and Sweden.

You did notice I said nothing about getting clothes on didn't you? Gotchya.

O7:00. Follow Dog around garden with carrier bag for poop. Talking dog tells me he wants a walk on nearby field. Stuffed get.

Plans Bears itinerary for the day. Based on what she may or may not have told me. All through this, I'm tapping out notes on my text editor, and knocking together my personal non-profit newssheet Apples. Thinking of making it online only. Does a risk assessment of idea. Hmmmm.

08:30 Shouts Bear. Told to get stuffed. So I do, for an half hours rest. 10:00 "Why didn't you get me up?" Sigh.

Yes dear.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Chuff 'eads

I. Am. Getting.

Increasingly annoyed with the media.

They request an article. I submit it. They would like some changes. Sigh. Ok. Used to that. It's fine with me that they file it for future reference. As long as they pay me. Tick, tick, tick Ermmm. Pay up please?

I know editorial edit. I know "when they feel like it"

Then you get some annoying 20 year old (estimated) who's just left some kids media course who's just got their 'first break' telling me I have to be re-assessed. WTF? Re-What?

Meanwhile I have to frug about with my income. Twots.  I feel better after that :)


I'm told I'm Tighter than a camel's arse in a sandstorm.

Personally, I would question the wisdom of anyone who would acquaint themselves with the nether regions
of a camel at any time, ne'er mind in a sandstorm. I can confirm however that the front end spits, bites, tries to eat your hair, and their breath smells pretty disgusting.

They sport a massive set of teeth, usually attached via a rope to equally obnoxious gentlemen, who say things like "You now pay more for Lady, or I make Big Boy run!".

Naturally, I respectfully declined.

Man, those things can shift. There was much screaming, bouncing, cursing and throwing up as camel and Lady disappear into the distance. Lady gave an impressive repeat performance in the office the following morning when I offered her a cushion.

No pleasing some people.


Been doing a bit of bouncing myself.

Went for a wobble to a local shop with The Bear, and a rather inconsiderate wall jumped out and clobbered me. Wouldn't have minded so much if it hit the strokie side, which has less sensation. But nope, the inconsiderate pig took a swipe at the left dinnit. Wee-hoo, it hurt. 

I now sport a bruise the size of a plate a beautiful royal purple colour.  I really have to watch it with walls. Their like those things in Dr. Who that jump on you if you blink. As a result, I have one side that won't do as it's told, and the other arm in a sling. Marvelous. Not.


The prospect of getting a Mobility Scooter is looking increasingly attractive. There have been a few obstructions to that so far.

One is, my experience of them is often being clipped on the back of the heel by out of control little old ladies.   I don't get out that often, and I've harboured a sneaking suspicion that they lurk, waiting for me.

Another biggie is cost. They start at upwards of £1500. I would need it adapting so any throttle would be on  the left, which costs extra.

However, I may have found a solution. A tip from a Strokie friend (Ta Lyn!) led me to checking local forums, as it seems that people change them every couple of years for a more modern model. A quick look showed a two year old model goes for £250-£300.

The downside is they come without guarantee. The upside is I won't have to worry about voiding a guarantee! So, since I'm a bit of a wiz with things electronic, I can adapt it as much as I like myself.

Then I can go play bumper cars with lethal little old ladies, once I raise the funds. Besides, since The Bear and neighbours don't like me going out alone, it will quite amusing to have her jogging alongside......


One final thought, about this 'out alone' bit. It's something they are going to have to accept at some point that whatever their worries, it's important that I'm free to do it.

To that end, I've pointed out that I have Google Maps and Navigation on my mobile. I've setup a shortcut on the  home screen set to our address. One tap, wherever I am, and voila! I have a route home. Secondly, I've downloaded an App called ICE (In Case of Emergency) and set it on my my lock-screen to open with some emergency numbers and emergency instructions.

Good eh?