Archive for December, 2004

Merry Chrimblymas

Friday, December 10th, 2004

I had a “Merry Christmas” e-mail this morning from Frank Bennet.

“So far, so normal” you’re probably thinking, except for those who are thinking “I wonder who Frank Bennet is?”. The thing is, I’m one of them. I know he works for the same company as me, because it came through the company e-mail system and he’d sent it to all employees, but beyond that he’s an international man of mystery as far as I’m concerned.

For years now there’s been a growing trend to send Christmas cards in all directions, regardless of whether you actually like the people concerned – or in some cases (like Ol’ Frank) even know them. Last year I had a card saying “To all in your home, from all of us at number 1″ – well, that’s unlikely to happen this year, because number 1 is currently empty, but why on earth would you send a Christmas card to people when you don’t even know their names? They’re not the only ones that do it, either.

Then there’s the whole work thing, where people who don’t speak to each other from one year’s end to the next insist on swapping cards because “it’s the right thing to do”. Every year I get a card – a very lavish and personally-produced card – from someone I normally refer to as “The stuck-up cow”. Last year I decided not to prolong the hypocrisy of it, and didn’t send her one, but I’ve still had the usual lavish personalised extravaganza this year.

This year I have exactly the opposite problem: In the last year I’ve joined the blogring and become a regular in the SimonG chatroom, so suddenly I’ve got a load of friends that I’d like to send cards to, whose addresses I don’t have.

If you think you fit this category, email me your address ;-)


Thursday, December 9th, 2004

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that my church group had arranged a fundraising event for Tear Fund: We discovered last night that the charity had benefitted to the tune of £130, which is rather nice. It would have been a bit more, as they were running their own sales stand in another part of the building, selling Christmas cards and stuff like that, but we can’t calculate their profit on that. Their stall took about £120 though.

Having reported that news, there isn’t really much to add: I’m currently hiding from our receptionist at work, not for the usual reason, but because today I broke the photocopier, and she seems to be none too happy about it. Admittedly this wasn’t normal run-of-the-mill photocopier breakage, this was the full works with grinding noises, flashing warning lights and a faint smell of burning, but even so, I’m sure it wasn’t totally my fault.

Oh, and yesterday I was back in Argos for work purposes, this time purchasing a combo TV / DVD unit for our training room. Argos have this new gadget where you type in the catalogue number of what you want, and it tells you whether they have it in stock: If they do, you can click another button to say you want it, insert your credit card, and it prints a receipt for you to take to the collection point. Of course when I tried to use it, the receipt printing thing jammed, and what came out was no good for receipt purchases, so I had to go to the cash desk and get a refund, so they could sell me the goods all over again, this time producing a proper receipt. Only because I’d just bought the last one, the technology wouldn’t let them sell me another.

We got there in the end.

‘Urry up ‘Arry

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

I try not to blog about footie too often – I know that it isn’t to the taste of all my readers – but today is a bit of a sepcial case.

Harry Redknapp, who resigned as Portsmouth manager two weeks ago, was today announced as the new Southampton manager. Many Portsmouth fans and club staff have denounced it as “the ultimate betrayal” for him to join his old club’s arch rivals so quickly.

Two seasons ago, Harry took Pompey from being a struggling first-division club, to the division championship and promotion to the Premiership. Club chairman Milan Mandaric publicly promised him a job at Portsmouth for as long as he wanted it, regardless of what happened in the future.

Last season, against all the odds and in spite of the side being weakened by injuries, Harry kept us up, and we survived to fight in the Premiership another season. So far this season we’ve performed well and we’re currently about mid-table, but Mandaric insisted on appointing a “Director of Football” to the club, in spite of Harry saying he didn’t want one, and the results suggesting that the club didn’t need one. By coincidence the new director is a mate of Mandaric who just happened to be looking for a new job. In spite of protestations to the contrary, this was almost certainly the issue Redknapp resigned over. And now he’s found another job, close enough to his old one that he won’t have to move house.

So, to my fellow Pompey fans, I say – yes, there’s been a betrayal, but it was Mandaric who committed it. Vent your spleen at him. After all he’s done for the club, Redknapp’s been treated shabbily and any loyalty he may have owed to the club (although I’d say the debt went the other way) has been wiped out.

To Saints fans – well done, you’ve got a good one there. I wish he hadn’t joined our rivals,but no blame to your club for taking the best that was on offer. It may prove to be the only sensible decision Rupert Lowe’s ever made.

To Harry – I wish you’d joined someone else, but fair play, you’ve been treated like spit by Mandaric and I don’t blame you for considering yourself a free agent. I can’t quite bring myself to say “good luck”, though ;-) .


Tuesday, December 7th, 2004

I’m suffering a complete “What to blog about” blank.

Nothing happened to me today that was interesting enough to blog about: I asked my chum Morty to suggest a random word (not telling her what it was for), and she said “Pants”. Hmph, I don’t mind writing sock pomes but you’re not getting an ode about my pants.

Oh alright then:

I’ve got a lot of pairs of pants
They’re in my house, and that’s in Hants
Some are white, and some are red
and some I wear upon my head.

That’s a pants poem in more ways than one.

With lots of people I know having rough times at the moment in one way or another, I feel the need to be witty and amusing, but I just don’t seem to have it in me tonight. Maybe I need another 16 hours sleep.


Monday, December 6th, 2004

Well – in the end I slept for about 16 hours, so I can’t quite understand why I’m as tired as I am. Still, there y’go.

Since I knew in advance what the weekend was going to be like, I booked today off work, my last day off of the year (apart from the BHs – as long as things go according to plan I shouldn’t have to work them). The plan was to get my hair cut, sort out my gear from the weekend and write most of my Chrimbo cards.

On Saturday morning, I phoned the barber to ask if I could make a booking for this morning. “No“, he said, “I only do walk-ins on weekdays. Still, I’m not normally busy so just come on up“. Memo to my barber, should he happen to be reading this: The reason you’re not normally busy on Mondays is because you don’t open Mondays, you flippin’ idiot! I discovered this when I got there. So, what’s left of my mane (i.e. the bits round the sides) remain shaggy till Saturday. However, while I was out I went to our local branch of Range and bought some Christmas pressies and a bottle of windscreen wash.

I didn’t get any Christmas cards written. I did sort my rucksack out, though.


Sunday, December 5th, 2004

Well firstly I must say what an excellent guest blog by Mr Mongers. I actually nominated him for one of the King of Sweden’s fine knighthoods on the strength of it, but the mean old misanthrope wasn’t in a generous mood – must be something to do with yesterday’s footie results.

And secondly I must say Happy Birthday to my chums Morty and Plaid-Dragon. It isn’t their birthday but I suspect it will be by the time either of them read this…

Now none of the above should be taken to infer from the title, that Simon, Morty or Plaid-D smell (although I’m not sure about Simon). I did. I’ve now had a shower, but when I came in I most assuredly was a bit iffy. Let me explain…

Most of you know that I sometimes spend time doing radio communications for events: This weekend I travelled up to Banbury to help on the “Tour de Trigs”, a fifty miles competitive walk around North Oxfordshire. I was the assigned radio operator for the “Rescue 2″ team – that’s my team colleagues, plus the Land Rover, in the picture. In 36 hours work we got about an hour’s sleep, the rest of the time was spent charging round the course at high speed, or plodding through the mud and fog trying to sort things out. And since, in the whole day-and-a-half, I didn’t even get time to unlace my boots, you’ll understand that I’ve just thrown the dirty washing out into the back garden, for consideration in the morning.

At one point we were sitting in the Landie, in thick fog, in the middle of both the night and nowhere, when up roared a Ford Fiesta, out leapt Farmer Palmer, and we were treated to a cracking rendition of “Get orrrf moi LAAAAAAAND!“. We moved, but came back after he’d mongoosed off.

Earlier in the day we’d been standing in the middle of a pretty little village, all dressed in our hi-viz gear, while the Parish Council were meeting in the village school. Out popped the guy who was the council chairman.
Him: “I say, is everything alright? Is there a problem?
(He obviously hadn’t read the circular about the event which every local resident had received)
Our team leader: “Oh no sir, no trouble: We’re just surveying part of the route for the new motorway
Luckily council chappie turned out to have a sense of humour.

There’s plenty more, but I’m going to bed for a couple of hours before I fall over.

Wrestling crocodiles

Saturday, December 4th, 2004

Hello! SimonG here, filling in while Paul does big exciting secret things elsewhere which may or may not involve wrestling crocodiles. I have no data either way.

I asked young Mort what to write about and she suggested “Write about how ace he is. and put that awful pic that you drew on there”. I’m not sure what the awful picture is that she refers to – I did recently do an excellent sketch of Mort and Paul, but it could hardly be described as awful, as you can see for yourselves:

I should emphasize that the above is a drawing, not a photograph, no matter how much it might look like one.

With regard to Paul’s aceness, whilst this isn’t something I would dispute, I’m very much disinclined to make the point too strongly in his own blog for fear that none of his hats would fit any more after he’d read it, particularly since his scalp is otherwise unprotected from the elements. I will therefore satisfy myself with the observation that if you were to take all the short fat bald blokes in the world, and make them stand on one another’s heads in order of aceness, where the less ace s.f.b. blokes are nearer the top, our resident s.f.b.b. would end up considerably on account of the very large number of s.f.b.b.s on top of him. And considerably deader, come to think of it, so it’s a good thing that this is only a hypothetical experiment.

I seem to have fulfilled the terms of my brief, so I’ll go now. Goodnight.


Friday, December 3rd, 2004

I had an e-mail from Paypal this morning.

For those of you who don’t know, Paypal act as a secure intermediary when you’re buying on-line: They have your credit card details, and if you buy something from someone whom you wouldn’t normally trust with such things (i.e. a total stranger who isn’t a trader), Paypal handle the transaction.

Anyway, today’s e-mail said that they needed to check my membership details, so would I kindly click on the enclosed link and in the appropriate box, enter my user name and password. Do they think I’m stupid? I mean, that is so obviously a fraud that even after ten bottles of Old Speckled Hen, no-one would be taken in by it.

Of course the link isn’t to the official Paypal website: In fact it leads to a sub-directory of the website of an american charity called “Sheltering Arms for Kids”: Their website was hacked by some miscreant who set up a bogus site, for the purposes of harvesting people’s log-in information: No doubt his next stage would have been to pay himself vast sums of money from the victims’ accounts. I just tried clicking on the link to see how convincing the pseudo-site was, and it’s already been replaced by a fraud warning, so that’s OK.

In other news, I won’t be here tomorrow, and your bloggage entertainment will be provided the redoubtable SimonG. I’m back on Sunday, hopefully with some exciting pics of my weekend’s activity.

Tee hee

Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

Thanks to my chum Plaid-Dragon, who posted this link on her blog. Try it out now and create your own Mr Man or Little Miss!

Well anyway, it’s better than reading me rant about Marks and Spencer.


Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

Bloody Christmas Shopping!

I had an idea for a pressie for my Mum. I decided that as I was passing Marks and Spencer* today, I’d call in, little knowing that today is “20% off” day in M&S and the place was heaving. I couldn’t find a parking space, and when I did there was almost no room to move in the store. When I finally found what I was looking for, I then couldn’t find the cash desk, and when I did, I couldn’t find the end of the queue. In fact, in a fit of temper I slammed my putative purchase down on the nearest flat surface and stomped out. There are other Marks and Spencers’s and there are still a few other shopping days before Chrimbo.

I didn’t do too well at buying birthday cards either – I’ve got a lovely card, but it’s too big for the envelope I got with it. Still, at least I got to play with the self service till in Tesco.

*Nothing but the best for my Mum, y’know.


Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

Well, response to my new feature (see below) has been fairly positive – at least in the context where “fairly positive” equals only one death threat. Even more amazingly, it’s been running for nearly a day now, and has failed to bring crashing to its knees. I feel SimonG could learn from me.

I had a “damp expert” come and look at my walls yesterday (I said “walls”, clean yer glasses!), and while I can’t claim to understand all of his explanation, I do at least now have one. Apparently it’s to do with the age of the house, bombing during the war, and the fact that the affected rooms have recently been decorated (eh?). The cure involves a lot of money, and can’t be done until January at the earliest.

Also involving a lot of money is the next Hospital Radio conference next April: As regular readers will know, it’s due to happen in Belfast, and today FlyBe opened bookings for that weekend on the Southampton – Belfast route I was quite pleased that my return ticket was only going to cost me forty-two squids, but rapidly became less pleased when “airport taxes and other charges” doubled that figure. Wombatting hell. Then there’ll be either parking at the airport or two taxi journeys, and now because you need photo ID to get on a flight, I have to either renew my passport or get one of those new-fangled photocard driving licences.

Oh gerbils.

Still, I have an exciting time this evening to look forward to, nailing my living room floorboards back down.