Category: People (page 1 of 5)

Not going up in the world

I had a meeting today, up at Emley Moor mast, which – as you can see in the photo – is a bloody great big tower (tallest structure in the UK) that transmits TV and radio signals to large swathes of Yorkshire. Annoyingly, the tower is currently closed for maintenance, so I couldn’t go up it. But I will… one day. I’m determined that I will.

I stayed in a hotel in Barnsley with a small group from work and we were wined and dined, by the company we’d gone up to visit, courtesy of their expense account. It was a great evening.

And then, after our meeting this morning, we were given a tour of the place and I found myself feeling very ‘at home’ in their operations centre, where all the TV and radio signals are monitored.  Ahh, happy days.

Talking of TV signals, this advert managed to worm it’s way past my ad-blocker:

 

 

Intrigued, I clicked on it and was taken to this web page, where it claims that a small antenna that it supplies, will pick up your cable TV signals for free.

Utter bollocks!

Just about every technical fact it quotes, is rubbish and the comments at the bottom are all manufactured.  And all wrong.
Julie from London has one and now no longer needs to pay $65 a month to Comcast.
Apparently.
Bollocks!

Please, if you see this, steer well clear, it is quite obviously a scam.

Musings

I had to smile this morning, when I received an email from Sony: their regular newsletter detailing all their latest offerings, designed to tempt me to part with my hard-earned. Pictures of their latest TVs; Home Cinema systems; Speakers; Headphones; Cameras and Smartphones. It was this last item that made me smile… or rather, wince.

 

Introducing the 21:9 Experience – with a wide screen, borderless design, you can multi-task with ease and enjoy films on your smartphone the way they were meant to be seen.

“… enjoy films on your smartphone, the way they were meant to be seen.”

Meant to be seen?

On a tiny, likkle 6.5 inch smartphone screen, rather than on a bloody great ginormous screen at the cinema?

I don’t think so, somehow, Sony.

 

But, I also had to smile yesterday, when I found myself following a little silver Corsa up the M1, during my morning commute. As we were stationary for quite a while – as is always the case with the M1 on a weekday morning – I was able to read what was written on the back of the car.

It’s a wonder how pepole find time to hate, when life is too short to love

This wasn’t scribbled on a piece of card and placed on the parcel shelf; it was (or at least, looked like it had been) done professionally.

If you are going to pay a professional to sign-write your car with rubbish sayings, you’d like to think they could spell!

 

Weekend activities

My wrists ache.

I know why: my balls were much too heavy last night.

I should have used lighter ones.

But, that’s the trouble I have with bowling balls: only the really heavy ones have holes big enough for my fat fingers.

One ball – with particularly capacious finger holes – reminded me of an old girlfriend… but, that’s another story.

So yes, we went ten-pin bowling last night – a family outing for Amelia’s birthday.   I won.  Of course.  Me and my big heavy balls.

A good start to the weekend.

And this morning, I have been up to Bletchley Park again, where I had a very pleasant wander round.  I went with a colleague from work and I pretty much acted as an unofficial tour guide for him. He certainly seemed happy enough with my commentary. Hopefully, I got my facts right.

The most enjoyable bit for me, though, was visiting the National Radio Centre and explaining to him – a fairly non-technical person – how radio works. He was fascinated by it all and I think he thoroughly enjoyed the visit. We both did.

Tonight will be spent with pizza and a couple of beers in front of the telly, where we will re-watch Infinity Wars from the Marvel canon, in readiness for Endgame, which will be out soon. But not soon enough. I can’t wait.

And Sunday? Well, I’m not sure whether to start on my next project, or whether I should try sorting the garage out.

Now, I know what I should be doing, but… well, you know.

Pinch Punch

Well, there we go: another 28 days worth of drivel out of the way for another year.

Once again, it was a huge success, taking the blogosphere – and the internet in general – by storm.

It was crazy.

Anyway, I’d like to thank our French and Welsh correspondents (happy St David’s Day, Bren), who regularly join me on this little self-imposed blogging challenge and I’d also like to thank you, my reader; my wife and family for supporting me throughout the month and… anyone else that knows me.

 

What the fax?

One of the young millennials at work approached me yesterday and asked “What’s a fax?”

I was somewhat surprised that she didn’t know, but then realised that this was such an old, outdated technology, that it was very likely she would never have seen one before, never mind actually used one.  I explained what it was/is and she went away… probably not much the wiser.

But it got me to thinking about methods of communication.

In the early eighties, I spent a month travelling in California and I wanted to let my parents know that all was well. It was expensive to make international calls back then and sending a letter could take several weeks. So, I sent a Telegram.

Yes: a telegram. Remember them? I think I still have it, somewhere.

But, of course, telegrams were phased out a few years back and can no longer be sent.

STOP

And what about the humble letter? No-one sits down and writes actual letters anymore, do they?   The speed and convenience of email saw to that.

But even email is being pushed out of favour, as the immediate accessibility of today’s Twitters and  Instafaces persuades people to communicate so much more with each other.

But also actually saying so much less.

Ding

Our microwave oven died on us yesterday, so when I went up to do the weekly grocery shop, I had a look to see if that had anything decent to replace it with.

And they did. A Sharp one that ticked all the boxes and was reduced in price from 80, down to 55, down to 48 quid. “I’ll have some of that”, I thought and put it in my trolley.

I just happened to be near the DVD section and Mrs M had asked me to keep an eye out for the Marvel film, Venom, as we had missed it at the pictures. I never found it, but three others ended up in the trolley: 2001: A Space Odyssey (a classic); Amadeus (one of my all-time favourites) and the Bladerunner sequel (I’ve just finished re-reading the first one, so it was a serendipitous find).

I decided I would buy this lot first and then come back for the food shop, as there wasn’t much room in the trolley.

I found an empty till (unusual) and heaved the microwave onto the conveyor belt, along with the DVDs. The young chap  – Colin, according to the badge pinned to his jacket – scanned it all in and gave me a price.  “No, no, no”, I said, that’s wrong.

“Fifty-five pounds for the microwave; five pounds for…”

“Let me stop you there. The microwave is forty-eight pounds.”

He re-scanned it: “Well, it comes up as fifty-five.”

“Maybe it does, but it said it was marked down to forty-eight, on the shelf.”

He held his hand in the air and another young chap – Nathan – came over. Colin explained the problem.

By now, a bit of a queue had formed and so Nathan suggested that Colin should just put through the DVDs and he would sort out the microwave price issue. With that, he picked up the box and – staggering under the weight – carried it back over to the kitchen section.

I turned back to Colin, who was stabbing his fingers all over the touchscreen and was looking confused. “Is there a problem?”, I asked.

“It won’t let me remove the microwave.”

There was an audible sigh from the queue and I could feel their eyes burning into me, because this was all my fault, obviously.

Colin held up his hand to try and attract a supervisor. I held mine up too, in the hope it might help. Everyone in the queue looked around for a supervisor, but there wasn’t one to be seen anywhere.

“Sorry about this”, Colin said to me.

“Sorry about this”, I said the queue behind me. The old boy directly behind me gave a pained grimace and looked down sadly at his pint of milk… the only thing he’d come in to buy. By rights, he should have been and gone by now.

Eventually, a supervisor responded to Colin’s frantic waving. She tapped on the screen a few times with her magic fingers and suddenly I was able to pay for the DVD’s.

Which I did.

At which point Nathan returned. “It’s forty-eight pounds”, he said.

“I know”.

He looked at the queue behind me and seeing that I had just finished up, he said “Come with me and I’ll put it through a different till”. The relief from the queue was palpable.

He sat at an empty till and scanned the box. It came up as fifty-five quid.  He tapped his screen a couple of times and scanned again, but again it came up as fifty-five quid. He looked puzzled and had another go.

Thinking this was an open cashier, an old woman pulled in with her trolley and started putting her stuff on the conveyor.

“Sorry”, said Nathan, “I’m not open”.

She scowled at him and took the stuff off the conveyor and back into the trolley.

Nathan went back to puzzling over how he was going to sell me this microwave oven at the correct price.

Another old lady, spotting the empty conveyor belt, rushed over and started to empty her trolley on to it. “Sorry”, said Nathan, turning towards her, “I’m not open.”

“It doesn’t say that it’s closed”, said the old lady.

“What?”

“It doesn’t say that it’s closed. You should have a sign saying that it’s closed”.

“I only opened it for this gentleman”, said Nathan, nodding his head in my direction.

She looked at me with distaste, as she put her groceries back in the trolley. “Who are you then, the bloody king of Sainsbury’s?” she harrumphed, and then she waddled off to try and find a till without a humongous queue.

Nathan finally figured out how to re-price the microwave and I quickly paid and headed out the door.

It must have taken about twenty minutes to buy this one item and  in doing so I was made to feel guilty for causing such a long hold up.  And on top of that, I was pilloried by an old lady.

My final ignominy was when the alarm sounded as I went out the door, because the box still had the alarm tag thing on it.

Fortunately, the alarm wasn’t loud enough to wake the security guard from his slumber.

Curry Night

I was out on the slosh, last night, so my head is a little woozy this morning.

It was the regular monthly get-together of the BT (Class of the Eighties) Curry Night, at our local Weatherspoons.

Always a good night, but I never make it every month. By the time I get home from work, I usually just can’t be bothered to go out again. But, as I have a couple of days off this week – just using up my annual leave allocation – I had no excuses.

And last night, in addition to the regulars, we had a couple of new faces… well, new old faces.

Firstly, there was Wobber. I don’t know why we call him that, as his name is Roger, but he’s been called Wobber for as long as I can remember (most of the engineers at BT answered to a nickname – including myself, which is where the moniker for this website comes from). This was the first time I’d seen Wobber since 1994 and – unusually for me – I recognised him straight away… despite him having lost all of his hair and now bearing a remarkable resemblance to Wilson Fisk.

And then there was Ralph. Again, first time I’d seen him since I left in ’94. I never used to mix it with Ralph as he was a bit older than me and was always one of the cool kids. But I’ve always held him in high regard, not least because I fell off my motorbike on the way to Bletchley Park for a training course, early one cold and slippery November morning, and I met Ralph (a fellow – and far more experienced – motorcyclist) in the motorcycle parking bay. My bike was pretty bent up, but during his lunch-break, he straightened it out for me, enough that I could ride it home. I’ve always been grateful for that.

There were about a dozen of us there last night, but only four still worked for BT.

The fact that we still get together so regularly, amazes me, but also pleases me greatly.

Not So Close Friends

It used to be that I had plenty of friends that lived locally.

But, people move on, don’t they?

There was my mate, Dave, who I’ve known for years and years. But, he decided to ‘up sticks’ one day and, after a few years of travelling around the country, he has now settled on the Norfolk coast. Bloody miles away. We used to go down the pub together on a weekly basis, back in the day, but now it’s just Christmas cards and the occasional phone call.

My old buddy, Mike, who lived in the next road to me – and who I met through us both being members of the Goon Show fan club – decided to move house quite a while back. He and his missus ended up in Cornwall. Bloody Cornwall! He used to be a five minute walk away, but now it’s a five hour drive!  I used to spend hours around his place, but now it’s just Christmas cards and the odd email between us.

Dave and Graham were good mates who I met through work. But they also decided to move house. One went from Watford, all the way to Tewkesbury and the other from Hemel up to Northamptonshire. OK, Northants isn’t such a bad trek, but it’s still twice as long to get to his gaffe than what it used to take and, as such, we don’t see each other nearly as much as I’d like to.

My mate, Alan, who I met via the radio (and who likes to leave silly comments on this here blog), used to live only a mile or so away, but a few years ago, he moved as far south as he could go without falling into the sea. We talk once a week on the phone, but it’s not the same as the long natters over several cups of tea, that we used to have.

And then, there is my eldest and dearest mate, Paul. The best man at my wedding and a friend whom I love like a brother.  He deserted me and fucked off to Gloucestershire some years ago, when he met a bird! We see each other maybe once a year, now.

I’m starting to wonder: was it something I said?

Simon

There’s a bloke that lives somewhere near here. Not sure where, exactly, but I often bump into him when I’m walking the dog.

He’s a little – and it’s probably incredibly politically incorrect to say this, nowadays – simple.

He’s a perfectly nice chap, but he does like to talk… which is fine. If you have the time.

Unfortunately, his topics of conversation are pretty banal, so I find it difficult to talk with him for anything longer than a couple of minutes.

But he likes to chat and so I try to be friendly and chat back, when I have the time. Which I don’t always have.

Of course, if he sees me now, he’ll make a beeline for me, knowing that I’ll converse with him.

A couple of weeks back he did this, when I really didn’t have the time, and in order to get out what he felt he needed to say, he walked alongside me for about five minutes, as I walked the dog… even though it was in the opposite direction to the way he was originally going!

Last night, I bumped into him again. His opening gambit to me wasn’t “Hello” or “Good evening”, but rather: “Have you tried that fish & chip shop up by the Old Moat House?”

“Er, no”, I said.

“It’s very good. Mind you, that one over by the sports pub is alright, as well”, he said, pointing in completely the wrong direction.

“Yes, I know”, I said. We talked about chips for a minute or so and then I tried to get away, as it was getting dark and I needed to get the mutt exercised. “Well, I’d better…”

“Potatoes can be expensive.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I grow them on my allotment. But when you add up the cost of the seeds and the chicken fertiliser, it can get expensive.”

He continued to tell me about how his carrots seem to grow better in moister soil… or something, I wasn’t really listening anymore.

“Anyway”, I said, taking a step past him, “I really must be gett…”

“It squeaks really loudly”

“What does?”

“My bicycle chain. I’ve put WD40 on it, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference”, he said, with a glum look.

I quickly explained the vagaries of WD40 and how it’s better to use proper oil, especially on a chain, and then I went on to explain how it was more likely to be the pedal crank than the actual chain, because chains don’t really creak, and then – before he could get a word in – I said my goodbyes and quickly walked on.

And then, I wondered why I felt bad.

If this had been any normal boring person, I’d have been pleased with myself for getting away from him, but because he wasn’t quite the full ticket (non-PC, again), I felt like I was being rotten to someone with a disability.

Society has really fucked up my sensibilities.

Hooray!

At last, we can rejoice!

A few years ago, some ne’er-do-wells moved into the close.

Awful people.

Right from the start, they got on everybody’s nerves, by taking up all the available parking with the inordinate number of vehicles they owned.

And the really loud garden parties that went into the small hours.

Regularly.

On weekdays.

Who has a late-night party on a Wednesday, for fuck sake!

And then there was the drug dealing (that we all knew was happening, but which the Police were never able to prove)

And the violence (one of them ended up in gaol recently, for violent assault).

When the For Sale sign went up last year, there was a silent, but palpable excitement that buzzed round the close.

“Have you seen the sign?”

“Yes! Isn’t it great!”

But then the sign came down again and we all went into a sulk.

But then it went up again and it was followed not long after by another sign that said “SOLD”.

My God, we nearly had a street party!

But then the sign came down and we all silently cried into our beer, once more.

But, then it went up again.

This time, we didn’t get our hopes up… there’s only so much heartbreak that thirty-six people and  four dogs can take.

But, they’ve gone: the house is now empty and we are all overjoyed.

Of course, new people will move in at some point and it’s always daunting getting new neighbours but, whoever moves in CANNOT be any worse.

Hopefully.

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