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Pot luck

A little bit of cold weather and here we go again: the damn roads start falling apart.

Not that they were much cop to start with.

There’s a road that I have to take each day, driving into the arse-end of Langley.

It has loads of pot-holes in it, which have been there for a long time.  A bloody long time.

After last winter, the council filled some of them in, but they didn’t do a particularly good job, because they soon appeared again.

And, as the weather has worsened, so the holes have got bigger.

It’s dead easy to spot the drivers who take this road regularly, like myself, as we know exactly where to dodge and weave to avoid the holes. I’m sure we must  look like idiots, weaving from side to side as we drive up a perfectly straight piece of road.

And a recent pot-hole has opened up on one of the roads that I take in the morning, on my way to the M1.

In just a few days, it has become huge. I reckon a Renault Clio could drop into it quite nicely.

But it’s quite safe, as the council have helpfully sprayed some square brackets around it.

Friendly February

I mentioned last week about Time To Talk day.

Well, we were given a sheet of things to try to do, to help with our own mental wellbeing, throughout the month.

So far, there have been ten things to try. I think I have succeeded/tried maybe about half of them.

Today’s challenge is to involve others and get them joining in.

So come on, both my readers, join in!

Else, next Monday’s challenge will be particularly difficult.

Although, I must say, I’m not looking forward to the 26th… I’ll probably end up getting my face slapped.

You’ll like this…

I met up with some people from work yesterday, in Reading, and we went on a bit of a pub crawl.

For charity.

I’m not sure how many pubs we visited (I think it was six, maybe), but by the end of the night, it’s safe to say that I was pretty well pissed.

To be honest, I can’t really remember how I found my way back to my hotel room.

But I did.

And I stopped off on the way, to get a burger and chips… by the looks of the detritus in my room this morning.

But one thing I do remember from last night, is magic.

Those of you who read this drivel, will be well aware that I have been a follower of magic and illusions for many, many years. Since I was a teenager, really.

And when I say I follow magic, I don’t just mean that I watch it on the telly. I have learnt how to do several tricks; I have become adept at one or two sleights of hand and I have practiced and practiced until I have got it right.

For years, I have performed a few card tricks and the like, for family and close friends, but I’ve never had the bottle to perform in front of others… in case I make a mess of it or give the game away.

Last night, was a turning point.

At various points throughout the evening, I produced a deck of cards and a couple of other props and performed several tricks in front of about eight or nine people from work.

And I was a hit!

It all went very well.

Apart from the one I fucked up, right at the end.

Mental note to self: after your seventh pint, Masher, put the cards away!

These boots were made for walking

Having a mutt, means I do a lot of walking.

Which is good, as I need something to persuade me to get my fat backside out of the chair, sometimes.

Problem is, ‘walkies’ is something that has to be done daily.

Twice daily.

Whatever the weather.

As such, I have proper outdoor clothing… bought from proper outdoor clothing shops.

I got myself a new pair of leather walking boots last year. They are a good make and seem to be well made.

They weren’t that cheap, either.

A little tab on the laces says “Waterproof” and I wondered how that could be if stitching is involved, so I asked the shop assistant if they really were waterproof.

“Yes”, he said, “… they are. To a degree.”

Well, he was right, because I took the dog out earlier and after about an hour, my feet were soaked.

Soaked to a hell of a degree.

It’s not like I’m wading through streams or anything, just walking in longish grass.

This is the third pair of walking boots that I’ve owned, which were supposedly waterproof… but actually weren’t.

How can they be tagged as being waterproof, when they clearly aren’t? There must be some sort of trading law that’s being broken here, surely?

Anyway, if the wet weather continues, I may have to dig out my Farmer Giles’ welly boots.

I hate wellies.


If you didn’t already know, yesterday was national Time To Talk day.

At work, cakes and doughnuts were supplied in the canteen and people were encouraged to come along and chat.

Of course, most people just came along for the confectionary, but several did take the time to discuss their problems with a Mental First Aider.


I just went for a doughnut and a cup of tea.

And then a slice of fruitcake – not very apt for a forum discussing mental issues, I thought.

But all in all, the event seemed well attended and my little counter box with the blue buttons was put into play for the first time and showed that 75% of those who attended, felt it was a worthwhile exercise.

The remaining 25% just wanted more cake.


I was walking the mutt, early yesterday morning, as I usually do.

Her morning walk is on a swathe of grass, just a few minutes away and we take a short-cut to it via an alleyway behind some houses.

As we walked toward the alley yesterday, I could hear voices, and as we turned into it, I found the passageway blocked by two 14 year-old boys, on their bikes, with their orange newspaper delivery bags slung around their necks. One held a packet of tobacco and some Rizlas, whilst the other was trying to roll a couple of fags.

As soon as they saw us, they stood aside to let us pass.

I said nothing as we squeezed through, but I gave them a most disparaging look.

I’ve always hated smoking. Hated it with a passion.

It has never appealed to me and I’ve always wondered what the appeal actually is, that makes someone want to start smoking.

It might have looked cool (to a degree) in the old days, but I don’t think anyone thinks that nowadays.

Back in the very old days, of course, people actually believe smoking could cure all manner of illnesses, but in these more enlightened times we know that is definitely not the case.  In fact, it’s the reverse: smoking has been proven to be the cause of many an ailment.

Smoking Kills. It even says so on the packets!

And it smells. It makes your breath smell and it makes your clothes smell.

On top of all that, it costs a bloody fortune. I’m told a packet of twenty fags costs about ten quid, nowadays.

It really doesn’t have much going for it.

So, can someone tell me why the idiot youngsters of today still take it up?

You must be joking

It annoys me that I can never remember jokes.

Even the good ones.

I heard one yesterday morning on a podcast: a nice quick two-liner. “Ahh, that’s a good one”, I thought, “I’ll tell that to the kids when I get home.”

Fat chance!

Could I remember it?

Could I ‘eck as like.

I was doing my food shopping in Sainsbury’s on Saturday, when I bumped into an old fellow as we both went for the free-range carrots at the same time. We explained niceties for moment, apologising to each other in the way us British do, and then he said to me – apropos of nothing – “Did you hear the one about…” and he proceeded to tell me a joke.

I smiled and gave a little laugh as I tried to back away toward the weighing scales. I remember thinking that it was actually quite a good joke… even though he telegraphed the punchline.

But, I’m damned if I can remember it now.

Then, as I was rummaging through the broccoli, there was a tap on my arm and I turned to see him standing there, smiling at me, although his trolley was still over by the carrots. “Two nuns walk into a bar…” He was evidently enjoying the opportunity to try his material out on someone other than his grand-kids and he told me three jokes in all… none of which I can remember now.

I laughed politely and continued with my shopping, aware that he was only a few steps behind me as I walked on.

I think I lost him in the next aisle, somewhere between the onions and the stringless beans.

He might still be there now, accosting any shopper that will listen.

“My wife’s so fat…”

All Hi and no Fi

Well, it wasn’t the way I planned to spend my Sunday afternoon , but it was enjoyable, nonetheless.

My aging Pure Legato II Hi-Fi started playing up a while ago, giving me its own equivalent of the Blue Screen Of Death: it’s LCD panel, lighting up of its own volition and then refusing to do anything whatsoever.

A factory reset brought it back to its senses, but it didn’t last long and it died again, last week.

I was going to try re-installing the firmware, but Mrs M wanted a quick fix, as she can’t do her ironing without loud music.

Very loud music.

And so, as a temporary measure, I got one of my old amplifiers out of the loft: the venerable Arcam Alpha 5, from the nineties and connected it up to the Sonos system in the living room.

It worked brilliantly… out of one speaker.

The other speaker was quieter than a church mouse with slippers on.

Hmmm… I’m sure it was all working fine when I put it away, all those years ago.

I took the lid off and had a poke around inside. There was nothing obviously wrong, that I could see and so I squirted some switch cleaner onto the switches and pots and gave them a twiddle… wouldn’t do any harm. But still, the left channel refused to make any kind of sound.

And then I noticed the output fuses. I removed and checked them both, only to find that they were intact.

But, when I put them back in, both speakers suddenly sprang into life! I’d fixed it! Yay, me.

I tried wiggling the fuse-holders to see if there was a dodgy joint, but I couldn’t replicate the fault. Maybe it was just some oxidation on the fuse holder blades, I don’t know, but either way it was working, so I put it all back together and fitted it inside the cabinet.

For good measure, I replaced the speakers with something a bit oomphier: a set of Tannoy Revolution R1s.

OK, it took several hours to get it all up and running properly, but Mrs M is happy: she doesn’t care that the sound quality is better than the old one, or that the treble attack is that much faster; she’s just pleased that it’s that bit louder than before.

Count your blessings

 A young chap at work has the enviable task of talking to members of the public about the Water Board’s plans for the area.

I say ‘enviable’, but he enjoys it. He’s that sort of chap. It doesn’t appeal to me at all. Horses for courses and all that.

But, he was telling me that when he goes along to an event and sets up his tent, he has no-way of keeping track of how many visitors he has had and whether the experience has benefited them at all.

So, I built him a counter. Just a simple thing, shown in the picture attached to this post.

It only took me a weekend to build the electronics and fine-tune the software that someone cleverer than me, put together.

However, it then took many weekends to design and build a wooden box to put it in.

Far too many weekends.

Because my woodworking skills suck. As you can see.

So, I was somewhat apprehensive when I presented it to him last week.

But, he was over the moon.


Exactly what he needs, apparently.

Other ideas for its use, have been offered up from other parties who have seen it in the office and I feel that I might get commissioned to build another one.

I’m happy to.

Happy to do the electronics, but someone else can build the bloody box for it!

Neighbourhood Watch

It’s three o’clock in the morning, as I type this.

Yes, three of the clock!

You might think this is blogathon dedication, but no.


I have been awoken from my slumber by two things:

  • A weak bladder
  • Two women having an argument outside somewhere.

The first was easily rectified, but the second  really annoyed me, because it went on for ages… and I couldn’t see it.

I opened the bedroom curtains just enough to peek through, but couldn’t see anybody.

I craned my neck to look as far down the road as I could, and then the other way, as far as I could up the road.

But, frustratingly, whilst I could hear the arguing, I couldn’t see who it was.

In fact, the only thing I could see, was the bedroom curtains twitching at the house across the road.  I think they had a much better view.

I’ll readily admit to being a nosey neighbour… if something is going on in our road, I want to know about it.

I mean, everyone likes a bit of gossip, don’t they?

But, disappointingly,  I have none; I have nothing to show for having been awake for the past hour.

I know one of my neighbours was arguing, but I don’t know who it was.

Or what it was about.

But I bet them over the road, do.

I just might have to pop over for a cup of tea, later 🙂

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