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Sheeple carrier

7:06 pm : Saturday, 4 August 2018  |  ,

Early in 2017 I attempted to follow the herd and become an iPhone user. This I did by purchasing a thoroughly prehistoric 3GS model for all of £22. After years of being an Android devotee I dipped my toe in the water, and found myself just not getting on with it. What did not help was being stuck on an old version of iOS which severely limited the choice of available apps for me.

On Wednesday my partner, who I care for, sent me a link to a site that offered discounts for carers or people who care for someone. I passed the grilling and was admitted to the site. One such offer that was thrown up at me was for the iPhone SE - the smallest of the current bunch but still being sold brand new. The offer was for a free handset, unlimited calls and texts, and 4GB of monthly data for £22 per month. Naturally I bit the worm!

The next day being Thursday, there is a knock at the door, and I am an iPhone user once again. While I may not have been impressed the first time around, a later and faster model with an up-to-date version if iOS is hard to beat. I am a sheep once again. Yes it is a shame to have to retire that Galaxy SIII Mini, but it really did start to hang at the most inopportune moments.

What amazes me about the iPhone is how it comes so immaculately packed in that box. Obviously for the money these things are worth you would expect some degree of opulence thrown in. And yes, I am fully aware that it was likely hand-assembled in China by poor sods who were deprived of sleep and paid a miserable pittance. But then, how can we determine which companies do or don't employ said practices? Do Samsung and Huawei also see their products assembled in similarly unethical circumstances? Sure you can boycott these Goliaths of the tech world, but who do you then turn to when you need a mobile phone? I would suggest that all of these companies are complicit in said tactics, so there's no escaping that - whoever makes your phone.

Another product that comes heavily discounted on that site is Cath Kidston, who just so happen to be adored by my partner! An over-the-shoulder satchel in your finest dotty material for only £30? Of course I don't mind!

Treading on eggshells

9:24 pm : Wednesday, 11 July 2018  |  ,

Very recently I somehow succeeded in getting myself banned from Twitter. While the microblogging site has been under pressure to clamp down on questionable content - and I am very much in favour of them doing so - they do appear to have gone a bit far in their policing of "threatening" content.

While grazing on my Twitter feed, I happened upon a tweet by the satirical news site the Daily Squib:

Notice their use of the hashtag #KillAllMen - a hashtag that has been around since time immemorial, and is clearly designed to rattle those who somehow deserve a good rattling. I responded with the following tweet:

It's Valerie Solanas all over again! #ScumManifesto #KillAllMen

For anyone out there who does not already know: Valerie Solanas was a radical feminist and author who, aside from shooting Andy Warhol, also wrote a publication entitled the SCUM Manifesto - with SCUM being an acronym for "Society for Cutting Up Men". Put simply, she envisioned a world where men would somehow cease to exist. Her views clearly, and views that some people may even sympathise with.

My reply merely referenced this publication, along with the highly-popular #KillAllMen hashtag. I am a man, remember. I may play the flute and also shun beer and football, but I remain a man. I have proof of this, but I am not about to start posting a pic of it. In fact, such pics usually prompt the use of the #KillAllMen hashtag.

Despite these facts, Twitter saw fit to suspend my account for allegedly violating rules on "hateful conduct", and despite my subsequent appeal are choosing not to restore it. A clear case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Rules and regulations going a little too far in their drive to make Twitter a safe place. It clearly makes you not want to say anything or use any hashtag whatsoever, for fear of offending somebody!

A nose that runs faster than Usain Bolt

10:43 pm : Wednesday, 20 June 2018  |  , ,

Yesterday Hannah and I went to visit her grandad in Letchworth. He is 90 years old and is doing very well for his age. The day went well until my hayfever decided to go extreme. While driving through town I was forever rubbing my left eye and getting no relief. Normally I keep a supply of Piriton to hand as it is the only advertised remedy that does anything for me. The one-a-day tablets like Piriteze and Clarityn are totally useless, so dropping up to six Piriton a day is necessary for me to function. Devoid of any Piriton, I was in trouble.

We parked in a car park, and while Hannah and grandad went to the cafe to order drinks, I dashed off - with hand on eye - in search of a chemist. I needed eyedrops urgently! And to make damn sure this heavy bout was dealt with, I also purchased some Phenergan. Sometimes prescribed as a sleeping tablet, it is my only choice of relief for when my hayfever get truly out of hand. Purchase made, I found them outside the cafe, popped in the eyedrops and swallowed one of the blue tablets.

As mentioned already, Phenergan doubles up as a sleeping tablet, and so the packet advises me that it "may cause drowsiness". What it should say is: "don't make any f*cking plans". I then spent the rest of the visit trying so hard to stay awake. Once home in the evening I was straight to bed. I was up the following morning to greet the engineer who had turned up to inspect our faulty shower, and once he had gone, I was back to sleep again! This stuff is not to be fooled with! When I worked at Sainsbury's, I did a stint on the pharmacy counter, and was shown where the Phenergan was kept, and given a list of customers who were forbidden from purchasing it. That is how bad things can get for some people. I have no desire to be knocked out - only to be able to see properly. Plus Hannah does not appreciate when I sneeze, as it sounds like I am shouting the word "TOSSER!"

Speak as I find

1:04 am : Tuesday, 15 May 2018  |  , , ,

On Sunday we visited a couple who lived on the premises of the prestigious Oundle School. This was to collect the aforementioned Ikea Hemnes day bed for the outstanding price of £100. Taking it apart was relatively easy - taking about half an hour - to then cramming it all in the back of a Berlingo. The ride home would then involve me sat with my head bowed neath the longer parts of the bed!

Getting it all together in a freshly-painted spare room took a while, but the result is most satisfactory. Three colossal drawers underneath to hide all manner of crud, and therefore keep this room in order, and a good firm foam mattress to support this pile of Ug. Dress it all up with a mountain of cushions, and it's girly enough for Hannah. So job done.

Yesterday (Monday) we visited the recycling centre in Corby to dispose of the old single bed and a couple of knackered mattresses. Whenever we have visited there, I always caught sight of an area where anything still usable could be left. This time I chose to investigate that area, and my eyes opened wide and my mouth started to salivate. A pair of Mission M73 floorstanding speakers in jolly good condition. Then a man appeared and let me know that nothing was to be taken. Everything left there - including those speakers - was to go to auction. I was aghast. Someone decided to offload some £400 high-end speakers, and they immediately become Council property. I am guessing that whatever they sell for will go straight into the Council's coffers. It is painful to think about. I was very upset, and will probably remain so for a considerable amount of time!

Bedding down

10:01 pm : Thursday, 10 May 2018  |  , , ,

When we moved to our current home, we realised there would be a fair amount of downsizing required. Those two huge Italian sofas had to go as they were beyond practical there, let alone here with a narrower hallway. Hannah's beloved table and chairs had to find a new home. My large office desk was just too large for this room, so a smaller example is in use now.

One thing Hannah tried to do in our last home was inject a little femininity into my office/spare room. Never mind it was my retreat from a home of shabby chic. Can a bloke not have his blokey pit? Well, it would seem she is getting her way here! This Sunday another piece of bargain furniture enters our home - a thoroughly luxurious Ikea Hemnes day bed. Normally priced at £239 without mattress or £409 with, this is costing us £100. Hard to let this one get away.

Before it arrives I had best take the opportunity to do some painting in this room. I was never quite taken by this apple-white shade in here, so I will be turning it brilliant white, with the window wall painted duck egg. I have already succeeded in properly putting up four floating shelves in here. These require ten screws each, which is not too easy when you have rock-solid walls. Nothing shall beat this Ug! I will succeed in making this office/spare room look sizeable, while giving Hannah the femininity she so vehemently desires.

On the subject of painting - why do we still have to put up with oil-based paints? I would have thought that in this day and age it would be possible to come up with a more environmentally-friendly alternative. I have been applying anti-mould paint in the kitchen (and will also have to shlop some on in parts of this room), and the smell just causes aggro for all of us. I get a headache while using it, Hannah feels sick even when the kitchen door is firmly shut, and the cats would rather not come indoors because of this petroleum honk that has commandeered the property! And a small tin of the stuff costs £20. Robbery encapsulated.

Sitting on a fortune

11:58 pm : Monday, 30 April 2018  |  , ,

We moved home back in January, and prior to that move we had to make a painful decision. Of our two sofas, we would only be taking the two-seater one with us. The three-seater sofa would have to be sacrificed. And by sacrificed, I mean cut up with a jigsaw and disposed of at the dump, with a generous sprinkling of sawdust. Both of these sofas were oversized Italian ones, with the larger one originally requiring four men to get indoors, along with the removal of our front door. They were true big b@st*rds. Even getting the smaller one into our new home was a three-man struggle.

Recently we decided that this lonely two-seater was not enough, even for the two of us. The hunt was now on for a chair or something. And this is where those trusty Facebook buy-and-sell pages come into their own. Essentially this involves wading through a selection of thoroughly knackered-looking offerings, and ones that simply would not be able to get through our doors or hallway. And brown sofas.

A post appears - with someone offering three two-seater sofas for £20 each, but these are a fair distance away, and would cost dear to transport. Another post avails itself - this time offering two two-seaters for £150. While much nearer, it causes me to worry about the money! Then, as if sent from up above, a post appears from someone six miles away, offering two two-seaters for free. "WHOA! SNAP IT UP QUICK! BE THE FIRST TO RESPOND!" This morning we succeeded in cramming two two-seater sofas into our home. Both of them in fantastic condition - possibly even unused. Looking thoroughly fresh in their cream/white loose covers, and managing to brighten up the living room.

I then let curiosity get the better of me, and went on the net to look them up, and see just how much they are really worth. The Tetrad "Havana Petit" sofa: £1,350. Two sofas worth a total of £2,700 - and they were given to us for free! All we paid for was the van to move them. The previous owners clearly have money to play with, and were prepared to let go of two near-pristine luxury sofas for nowt. That is generosity beyond all measure. And for us? Well talk about luck! How often are we in the right place at the right time? Not often, that is for damn sure.

Of course, getting two sofas indoors was not my only task. I then had to get to work on that filthy old sofa by way of a jigsaw and a Stanley knife, because it was the only sensible way to get that Italian beast through a standard width door!

To earn a crust

12:56 am : Thursday, 22 February 2018  |  ,

We have been in our new home for almost four weeks now, and things are falling into place in their own time. The office/spare bedroom is smaller than at the other place, with my desk slightly overhanging the bed, but it's still progress. The fibre broadband is running at 34 megs which is very pleasing - up from the 28 megs we achieved last week, so that has settled. We did get 38 megs at the last address, but it would be petty to whine about that!

Getting a smart meter to cooperate is another matter entirely. Our electric meter is located in an outside cupboard that appears to offer the insulation properties of a wartime bunker, thus ensuring that no smart meter will be able to communicate with the outside world. Those anti-smart meter sods would love this place! So it is back to the dumb variety for the time being.

There is also another thing to contend with, and one which sadly provides Hannah with sleepless nights. Squirrels in the loft. Last week we observed scratching noises coming from the disused chimney stack. A couple of night later, and there is scratching and scurrying above the bedrooms. I may be fortunate enough to have the mindset of: "They cannot get us", and manage to sleep unhindered, but that is sadly not the case for Hannah. So a call to the council's pest control department has been neccessary. Rats? They do bring to my mind a certain lyric by The Prodigy. You know the one - it goes: "I got the poison, I got the remedy!" But fwuffy wittle squirrels? Don't hurt them!

For this video, allow me to welcome you to the wonderful world of breadfacing. Unfamiliar? Then get acquainted if you will. This sordid practice is summed up in the very name - ie. pushing your face into bread-based product. And why not? Normally the domain of beautiful young women, this video seeks to demonstrate the male equivalent, by utilising crusts. A cheeky little Carole Bayer-Sager tune assists things somewhat.

Bread Face Man - Crust edition

Keep on moving

12:43 pm : Monday, 5 February 2018  |  , , ,

Last week we moved to a nearby village. There is still much chaos, but walls are painted, carpets have been laid, and two unwilling cats have been successfully settled. It was painful being sat in the back of the vehicle with them in their cages, whining mournfully. One of them also vomited and shat in the cage, and we thought her back legs had packed up too. But all is well after all. Just waiting for the phone and broadband to be activated, which they say will happen tomorrow, but I will only believe that when it happens. Until then we are making do with a dongle for our internet, which is about as fast as ye olde dial-up.

On Friday we were in that emporium of good nutrition known as McDonalds in Peterborough. Hannah sat down while I went to order. It was worrying. Youths loitering with no intention of buying, and one crowing: "I'm from East Ham bruv! You wanna take me on yeah?" While we were eating, the Justin Timberlake music got replaced by classical music. It was most wonderful, and I explained to Hannah why they were doing this. Two minutes later she was highly amused at the sight of numerous youths clearing the premises. The simplest tool in the box - classical music. They must have been thinking: "Nah man I can't deal with this bruv, ya git me!"

Saturday saw me present an 80's disco for a charity event. That was a joy. Guilty pleasures were worn with pride that night. To have an audience appreciate Scritti Politti and Haircut 100 was truly wonderful, and to close out the show with the Kane Gang was just beyond measure! The 80's was a decade of variety and colour, and should be worn without shame.

Dotty Christmas

2:57 pm : Monday, 25 December 2017  |  

The big day itself, and the cock is in the oven. The yearly juggling act that is managing to prepare two plates of yum. And the gifts of course. I usually have a bottle of scent at Christmas - invariably Aramis New West - but for this year I decided to go back to 1992, when those dollies behind the men's fragrance counter were forever trying to push this "gorgeous" scent on me. I was in my twenties, and I did not really appreciate something that smelled vaguely of curry and tobacco. 25 years on, enter Herrera For Men. Still packaged in her signature polka dots, and smelling a bit better than I interpreted it back then. To Hannah I smell like a man. Whatever that means.

Wesołych Świąt! Wub

Pull a cracker

1:55 am : Thursday, 21 December 2017  |  , , , ,

Christmas is coming, and we are preparing to move home. Not too far - just five miles away to a nearby village. It will be quieter, and there will be fewer shops, but I will appreciate the quiet and the greenery. Part of this ex-Londoner still craves the nearby 24-hour shops, and nipping out at 3:30AM for Red Bull and 20 Davidoff Classic, but there you go. We will have our usual quiet Christmas with just the two of us and two cats, and then begin the preparations for the move.

Video time, and this one is from the Christmas of 1984. Warwick Records released budget-priced albums in the UK, and this one showcased four of them. I always wanted The Sleighriders one! Yes I know, a medley of Christmas songs in a disco style - some many years after disco's heyday...

Pull a Warwick cracker! 1984 Christmas advert