Archive for October, 2005

Spooky Story…

Monday, October 31st, 2005

…but not as spooky as a Spooky Halloween Story, I’m afraid.

Lately I’ve been reading a few of the “Inspector Charlie Priest” mysteries by Stuart Pawson.

They aren’t high literachoor or anything, but they’re a bit of light relief compared to “the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005″ and other riveting stuff that I’m expected to learn by heart. The stories are well enough constructed, but what makes them a bit special for me is the one liners, and the comic dialogue between Priest and his CID colleagues. In the one I’m reading at the moment (“The Picasso Scam”), I found:

The phone rang more often than a whore’s doorbell when the party conference is in town

and

“Mr Wood,” I called. “What do you think is the greatest labour saving device known to man?”
Gilbert thought for a moment.
“Brown underpants”

See what I mean? Priceless.

The reason it’s spooky is that I wrote that a few days ago, intending to blog it the next time I had nothing to blog about, and decided this morning that today was going to be the day. Then about lunchtime, I had the following in an email from Mark the Buddhist – so, two book reviews for the price of one:

“Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram” by Iain Banks. One of those “read on a walking holiday” sort of books. It’s about a series of trips around Scotland visting distilleries and sampling malts, together with various anecdotes of recent or not so recent rather laddish behaviour (often under the influence of aforesaid malts). Informative and stimulating if you have an interest in malts (made me want to do some wider tasting myself), and often very funny.

Fire!

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

If you’ve been following the news, you may know that the University of Southampton burned down today.

Well, not all of it…just the electronics building. But the smoke kept the residents of the Flowers Estate indoors for most of the day, so it wasn’t all bad and I bet local car-related crime will take a downward blip for the day. I drove past at just before six o’clock this evening and there was still plenty of emergency services action going on, including a couple of scary-looking tankers pumping up chemical substances.

In other news, the GPS in the Gruntmobile seems to have gone to the great electronics workbench in the sky – with the result that I got really stupidly lost in Basingstoke this afternoon, and also that neither the Gruntmobile Track or Gruntmobile Trace pages are working at the moment.

Fillum Review

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

I watched a film this morning.

I don’t often watch films, but my nose is bunged up and my chest rattles so I didn’t feel like doing anything that couldn’t be done while slumped in front of the telly. So, an ideal opportunity to watch the “Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” DVD wot Jenny and Chris gave me for my birthday. I know the film has had what could best be decribed as mixed reviews, but I quite enjoyed it: It isn’t as true to the radio series, book or TV series as they were to each other, but most films aren’t, although it wouldn’t work as a standalone either – if you’ve neither read the books or heard the radio series, there’s stuff (like the business with the jewelled crabs) that wouldn’t make much sense. But the story was fun, and different enough from what I was expecting to be interesting. And they’ve definitely left the way open for a sequel, which has the potential to be even better.

And of course, the fact that the fabby Zooey Deschanel plays Trillian is good, too.

Numerous Occurrences

Friday, October 28th, 2005

So, what’s been going on that I haven’t told you about already?

Well, first and most important is an addition to our blogging buddies: Over there in “My Blogging Chums” you’ll find a link to “The Bogof Blog”, my good chums John and Marie – regular readers will remember I went to Sunderland for their wedding anniversary in May, and they’re the organisers of the biannual Hospital Radio conferences. Their blog seems to be mainly about pizza and wine so far…

OK, so I’ve been on a course: I told you we had team bonding on Wednesday – here’s a pic of our victorious Pub Quiz team “The Risky Business”, wearing our prizes:


L-R: Nick, Dawn, Brendan, Chris, Kevin, Graham, Gottle

Notice how Nick lived up to his name by nicking the polo shirt from the pile.

Oh, and while I think of it, I told you last Sunday that I did the fabby cache Ghosts of Hampton Gay: The pic I took of the church near the cache is a bit rubbish, so here’s a better picture of another church I passed on the walk to the cache:

And today on the way home I had a second, and this time successful, attempt at the cache Larking About!.

And in other news: Yesterday evening I met my New Wine chums Heather, Georgia and Colin at a chinese restaurant and we had a lovely time. The “Chesty Cough” medicine sold me by the pharmacist yesterday seems to have made my cough worse. And to finish on an upbeat note, Happy Anniversary to Jenny and Chris, who’ve been engaged for one whole year!

Fluency

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Speak Fluent Stratford-upon-Avon: Lesson One: At the Chemist’s Shop

“Can I help you, sir?”
“Yes, I need some medicine for a chesty cough.”
“No you don’ t, sir”
“Eh?”

“Have you had nasal obstruction?”
“Yes.”
“Is your breathing raspy?”
“Yes”
“Is your cough productive?”
“Yes”
“Hmmm, you need something for a chesty cough”
“Eh?”
(All through this conversation I’ve been holding a bottle of medicine clearly labelled “For chesty coughs”)

“Are you diabetic?”
“Eh?”
“Are you diabetic?”
“Yes”
“Then you need this”
(“This” is a bottle of medicine also clearly labelled “For chesty coughs” and costing twice as much as the one in my hand)
“Oh. Can I buy some then?”
“Not yet sunshine, don’t get cocky. Are you on any prescription medication?”
“Yes”
“Do you have high blood pressure”
“I do now”
“I’ve told you once, don’t get cocky. OK, take this for seven days and tell your doctor you’ve been taking it”
“Thank you”

Bonding

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

We’re having a group bonding exercise this evening. Sadly, this doesn’t mean what I thought it did, so I’ve brought the handcuffs for nothing. On the other hand, the last time we did one of these, one of the group was so ill the next day that we didn’t see her until tea time.

I forgot to mention that I’ve got email receiving sorted at long last, so if you send me an email I should get it, as long as you use the correct address – the one with my surname immediately after the @ is the one to go with. If you sent anything to this address before Monday evening and not had a reply, send it again!

Haunted Hotel

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

This hotel in which I’m staying is quite funny.

It’s the same hotel where all the other courses have been held, so we’ve been coming here for years: Greg, Dawn and I remember the restaurant manager when she was the work experience girl! The hotel is in two parts – the old part, also known as the Garden House, has what could charitably be called the “coach drivers’ rooms”: A bit small, not very well lit, and allegedly haunted. The new part has larger, airy rooms, with desks large enough to use a laptop and a mouse at the same time.

Guess which part of the hotel I’m in?

The Garden House rooms are separatefrom the rest of the hotel, so I have to walk across the garden to get to the restaurant, bar, classroom and the bit of the hotel where wi-fi works. But it was only while going to breakfast this morning that I discovered the hard way that it had rained really hard in the night.

If I stay here again, I’m bringing my wellies.

Diploma-tic Immunity

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Sorry about the rather naff title, but today was day one of the last module of the diploma course. Gahhh. Rather frightening to discover how much I’ve forgotten about one of the subjects, in which I’m supposed to be qualified as an external assessor. What was nice to discover, was that I’ve been on previous courses with all except one of the current mob. I also discovered that the assignment I failed recently had a national pass rate of 23% – so at least I’m not the only stupid one.

Anyway, I mentioned yesterday my trip to Studley Baptist Church: what I failed to mention was how dramatically I got lost on the way there – annoyingly, I discovered on the way back that I’d nearly arrived before I decided I’d gone wrong, and turned round to try another route.

You may be wondering how someone who owns five GPSs can get so badly lost – well, forgetting that you’ve loaned your CF card GPS, the one you need for “talking satnav”, to your mate, is a good starting point. Rob, I hope you’ve still got it, ‘cos if you’ve given it back, I’ve lost it :-(

Right, time for homework – if I’m lucky I’ll finish this lot in time for “Waking the Dead”.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

So, to Stratty for another Health and Safety course. Needless to say, I did a bit of geocaching on the way – firstly to “Hampton Gay”, a nice easy cache by a pretty little church north of Oxford, and then a fail-to-find at “Larking About”, on a hilltop outside Shipston-on-Stour.

Regular readers will remember that back in July, I went to a meeting at Studley Baptist Church, not far from Stratford, so this evening after checking in to the hotel I went up there for the evening service. Heather – their church secretary and my New Wine chum – had her birthday yesterday, the day before me! It was fun seeing Heather and her daughter again, and we’ve got a tentative arrangement for a meeting with some other of our New Wine chums in the week.

More later…

PS

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Two things I ought to mention:

  1. Since Jenny now appears in Simon’s blogring, the link to her blog has moved into My BlogRing Chums
  2. I had to do some emergency repair work on the “Gruntmobile Tracker” page, since the site which hosted it has closed. In doing this work, I stuffed up the “Gruntmobile Trace” page. Sorry about that – all will be put right next weekend

Nefarious In-Tent

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

My luvvly Mum took me out to lunch today, on account of tomorrow being my birthday. We went to the Mucky Duck and both ate far too much.

If you were reading earlier in the week, you’ll remember that I found all of the clues for the geocache Geovial Pursuit, but being sans GPS was unable to finish off. When I say I found all the clues on Tuesday, that’s only slightly true – at one location, there were two possible answers and they both made sense, so this afternoon I had two locations to try out.

Most caches come with an encrypted clue, so that if you’re sure you’re in the right area, you can decrypt the clue and get a bit of extra help in finding the cache. The clue for this one begins “In a tent formed by…” and goes on to describe various bits of vegetation. At the first potential co-ordinates, I had a thrash around, and found some vegetation that fitted the clue – and in the vegetation, as the picture shows, I found – a tent! Needless to say, I was a bit suspicious about handling it too much: It looked and felt like some homeless person’s shelter for the night, but it just might have been something much less innocent.

A quick phone call to Andy the Bear – who found it last week – confirmed that I should have been looking at the other potential co-ordinates, so I hied myself off there, and soon found the cache. And, as you can see, somebody’s lunch. That’s a piece of pitta bread by the foil wrapper, by the way.

Tomorrow I’m back in Stratford-upon-Avon for another week’s course: Hopefully this time I’ll get to meet up with JG and Ned – although knowing my luck they’ll whizz off on their delayed hollibobs as soon as I get a free evening.

Another Rant About the BBC

Friday, October 21st, 2005

I’ve just been watching the televised coverage of the Trafalgar 200 celebrations.

Regular readers may remember another Trafalgar 200 celebration back in June. Well, yes – that was then and this is now. Most of the televised coverage was pretty good – and the bit from Wales, where the beacon being lit by the Princess Royal failed to ignite, was pretty funny. But then the Band of the Royal Marines came on.

Some of you may know that I really like brass and military band music – Jenny, I know, has particular recollections – and the Royal Marines Band is without doubt the best in the world. So why did BBC commentator Huw Edwards feel the need to keep up a stream of inane waffle all through their superb playing? Why did the producer let him? And why didn’t the sound mixer rip his mike cable from the wall and throw it in Portsmouth Harbour, to make sure he never did it again?

For goodness’ sake, he even kept up his incessant droning through “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” and “The Evening Hymn”.

I’m not a violent man – really I’m not – but I strongly suspect that if I ever catch the idiot Edwards with a microphone in his hand, I’m likely to perform an operation which could be termed an “electric enema” – especially when I wire the other end of the mike cable up to the mains.

Light Bulb Jokes

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Apologies to the non-churchy among my readers, who might do better to jump straight to paragraph three:

How many … does it take to change a light bulb?

  • Baptists: One to change the bulb, and eight to form a music group to praise the Lord for the light1
  • Charismatics: Eleven thousand, to hold a prayer meeting to pray for the recovery of the old bulb2
  • Anglo-Catholics: One to change the candle, another to light it, and one to swing the incense
  • Anglicans: CHANGE?????

Sadly, according to this news story, for parishioners at St Benet’s in Suffolk, the answer appears to be four electricians and a heck of a lot of gear: It seems that someone convinced the church that the new “Working at Heights Regulations 2005″ meant that the only way to do the job was to use four electricians and a lot of expensive scaffolding, at a cost of over £1300. It’s tempting to bash the European Union for daft new legislation – as some of the papers did yesterday – but my first question is, where was the Diocesan Health and Safety Advisor? The Regulations don’t stipulate anything of the sort, and he/she should have known that. As often happens in the world of Health and Safety3, it seems like someone with only a rudimentary grasp of the requirements has gone way over the top of what the Regulations require in the name of playing it safe.

Mind you, I also have to ask where were the congregation? Surely they’ve got someone there – or someone knows someone – who could have done it perfectly safely without anyone having to be paid?

1 And one to operate the sound desk, one to do the lights, and one to operate the Powerpoint presentation.
2 For those who don’t know me, I should say that I’m from the Charismatic tendency – so I’m only taking the mickey a little bit.
3 And also in the world of Quality Management, which was my profession before I saw the light and abandoned the Dark Arts

Ongoing Items

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

I suppose that I could have told you yesterday about Jenny’s new blog, which you can find at this site. It doesn’t look very nice at the moment – I need to have a fiddle with some of the settings – but it’s there and ready for Jenny to start blogging.

Jenny Blog Update:

  1. Jenny has now blogged for the first time!
  2. You can now find Jenny’s blog using the much-easier-to-remember address www.sybilbaggins.me.uk
  3. Alternatively, there’s a link over there under “My Blogging Chums”

Last night after work I headed for the gym – only to find when I got there that I’d forgotten to pack a shower towel :-( . Instead, I headed for Southampton Common, where a two-mile walk took me to all the clues for the relatively-new geocache Geovial Pursuit. Sadly I didn’t have my GPS with me, so I couldn’t use the information to go and find the cache, but I’m much closer to getting it than I was before.

Oh, and my assignment re-submission went in the post yesterday, so that’s one less thing to worry about. And there’s only 23 Monday mornings between now and the next Hospital Radio Conference (Blackpool, Spring 2006)!

Nothing

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Move along there, nothing to see here.

Normal service will be resumed soon, with a bit of luck.

Fiction

Monday, October 17th, 2005

What follows is a work of fiction. It certainly never happened to me.

There’s this guy – lets call him “Toggle” – who hires a minibus for a weekend meeting with some chums. He collects the bus to be told, very apologetically, “We forgot to clean it and it’s filthy – if you don’t complain, I’ll tell the office it went out with half a tank of diesel, when the tank’s full really”. Our hero thinks this sounds like a good deal, and agrees. Of course, if this story wasn’t fiction, the minibus-hiring person could get into serious trouble if he was ever found out.

When Toggle goes to return the minibus, he debates whether to put fuel in, but decides he’ll just get away with it – this means that the charity which organised the weekend event gets away without actually paying for any diesel at all. Unfortunately, the minibus-checking-back-in person seems to have something going on of his own, and claims there’s only a quarter of a tank left.

This is when Toggle discovers that “Mental Rinibus Limited” charge for overused fuel at ten pence a litre LESS than pump prices at the nearest garage. Result.

It’s just occurred to me that for anyone who doesn’t regularly move in the rarified world of rental vehicles this will be a really pointless story, but I liked it.

Hospital Radio Conference

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

I blogged a while ago about the Paulsgrove Estate, north of Portsmouth: Recently placed second in the “Britain’s Chavviest Neighbourhood??? competition, it’s famous as the home of the mob who burned down the home of a paediatrician, not knowing the difference between that and a paedophile. Luckily the conference travels didn’t take us anywhere near the estate, but one of my Hospital Radio chums, at lunch on Saturday, described it as “The sort of place where, if you leave a horse unattended, you’ll come back to find it on four piles of bricks???.

Needless to say, a visit to a strange new town (and they don’t come much stranger than Pompey) is an excuse to go geocaching: There’s only one cache anywhere near here that I haven’t already done, so I led the expedition in search of Stone Moat: We didn’t find it, but we enjoyed the search, and got very muddy. We also found “Shopping??? – a bit less of a challenge, since I found it months ago, but I didn’t give the others any help and they found it without trouble.

On Saturday afternoon, in a break between meetings, I discovered that my Ickle Godson’s Mummy is “Joint Rubbishest in the Whole World??? at Crazy Golf. Sadly, I’m the other joint rubbishest, and we drew the round on about a million strokes each – oh, and if anyone can explain how you can lose a ball playing crazy golf, the course attendant wants to know.

(more…)

Opportunity

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

I heard about a theft that happened in Eastleigh the other night.

There’s this company (let’s call them Sausages-R-Us), who have a large fleet of lorries making daily deliveries of their product to customers.

A few years ago, the Sozzies-R-Us distribution people decided this was an opportunity to branch out (improving job security for everyone), and they started doing third party deliveries on behalf of a firm who supply goods to small independent grocers. The small stores are generally on their routes anyway, so there’s little extra cost involved: The firm do a bulk delivery to the Sozzies’ distribution depot, where it’s split down and allocated to the routes it needs to go on.

Obviously this makes a bit of a security issue – the normal product has such a low unit value, it isn’t really worth stealing, but the small store deliveries tend to include high value items like bottles of alcohol and packets of cigarettes. Anyway, apparently on Monday night, two guys went onto Sozzies’ site, broke into a portacabin and stole two hi-viz jackets with the company’s name on the back, then drove their car round to the despatch bay and loaded up 7½ grands worth of ciggies! Several of the staff spoke to them, but because of the jackets assumed they were temporary staff working in other departments.

It reminded me of when I used to work for the carpet factory. Carpets were stored in the warehouse in huge roll: The lower-value stuff was shipped out to retailers by the roll, but the better quality stuff could be cut to the size of your room and shipped directly to your house. Traditionally, the cutters used to work like mad on Friday afternoons cutting stuuf, and leave it for loading and despatch on Monday – I suppose it was to give them an easy start to the week. Anyway, it started to be noticed that stuff was going missing over the weekend – this was expensive, top-quality carpet and was worth nicking. Eventually the thefts reached the level that “Something had to be done”.

What was done, was that on Friday afternoon, one of the articulated lorries was reversed into the warehouse, loaded with carpet, and locked. I’m sure you can guess what happened.

They stole the lorry as well.

I shan’t be around much over the next few days – expect major Bloggy Update on Monday

Excited

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

My new lappytoppy has arrived, so I’m afraid I’m too excited to blog. Goodni…

What?

Oh, OK then…

You may remember that Joanna Toye, part of the production team of “The Archers”, rang me and asked me to contact her. There was much speculation as to whether she wanted to offer me a part, or perhaps they were researching a geocaching storyline.

Anyway, what had really happened, was that by some means she’d spotted this picture on my Mum’s needlework website: Somehow, from that she’d found my contact details through the Archer’s Addicts fan club, and called to ask permission to use the photograph in the next edition of Village Voice, the fan club magazine. The next edition is due out at the end of November – just in time to remind everyone to buy their Archers souvenirs from the Chrimbo gift catalogue which will be included.

I was careful to stress that that’s a pretty old picture (if I remember right, it was taken at the Aberdeen Hospital Radio Conference, which makes it October 2000). I’ve lost LOADS of weight since then.

I was also dead chuffed to discover that the all day meeting I was supposed to be going to next Tuesday now doesn’t need me after all. That’s a bonus day to get course assignments sorted out :-)

Now then…back to the lappy. G’night all

Carrot!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

This won’t mean much to the non-Discworlders, but…


You scored as Carrot Ironfounderson. You are Captain Carrot Ironfounderson of the City Watch in the greatest city on the Disc: Ankh-Morpork! A truly good natured, honest guy, who knows everyone, and is liked by all. Technically a dwarf, but only by adoption. You’d rather not be reminded that you are the true heir to the throne, but that does explain why people naturally follow your orders…

Carrot Ironfounderson

63%

The Librarian

50%

Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax

50%

Death

44%

Rincewind

44%

Gytha (Nanny) Ogg

38%

Greebo

38%

Cohen The Barbarian

38%

Commander Samuel Vimes

31%

Lord Havelock Vetinari

25%

Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with QuizFarm.com



I’m not sure I agree with the assessment – I may have swung the results slightly by strenuously avoiding the responses that were obviously leading me to be the Librarian (oook!)

Mid-Term Review

Monday, October 10th, 2005

I normally wait until the end of the month to share the odd search terms that have led people to click on this site. But these three have only had one hit each, and might drop off the end of the chart by the end of the month (at least, I hope they will…):

  • ie mangage add-ons windows genuine advantage
  • mecca of the midlands mind your language
  • wheel of fortune bonus puzzle answer 10/1/2005

There’s some sick minds out there.

Anyway, yesterday was the Great South Run: If you were reading my blog last year you’ll have already heard my opinion of the fact that the Great North Run has a whole day of television time, where the Great South has ten minutes at two in the morning, on a channel that only 5% of the country can receive. Actually it was quite fun – I was working in Traffic Control – the same place I worked on Trafalgar 200, and yes, the views from the windows in the Gents’ toilet is still good. There was a bit of fun near the five mile point, where the lead car and lead police motorbike both went the right way, but for some reason a TV crew motorbike went the wrong way – guess who the lead runners followed? Heh heh.

Once it was all over, I went caching – I found The First of Many fairly quickly after a nice walk. The other one I looked for wasn’t so much fun – of course, failing to find was a bit of a downer, but the fact that the “clue” was more like something out of the Guardian crossword than an actual useful hint didn’t help. Mind you, the walk to it was lovely.

Then I went home and ate chinese. And today I have mostly been working my gerbils off, having had my last course assignment returned and told to try again :-( . I have until Friday week to complete both the resubmission, and the next assignment.