Category: People (page 1 of 5)

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?


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.”


“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.


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.


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.



Last night we went to the pictures, to see Alita.

It was alright.

If you like that kind of thing.

On our way home, it was late, and we spotted some activity in the woods where we walk Saber. It was brightly lit up and we could see flashing red and blue lights at the far end.

At our end, a fire engine was parked, partially blocking the roundabout. Mrs M was very excited as we drove past. “Something’s ‘appening”, she said, stating the obvious.

When we got home, she said “I’m just taking the dog out for a quick walk.” I knew where she was going, of course.

So did Amelia. “Wait for me” she said, and they both disappeared out the door.

Harry went up to bed, as did I, but it took a while to get to sleep, as the Police helicopter then arrived and seemed to be hovering almost overhead for about fifteen minutes.

The girls eventually arrived back home and Mrs M woke me as she climbed into bed, freezing bloody cold, and started telling me all about it.

A young woman had gone missing and police suspected she might be in the woods. They had showed Mrs M a picture of the woman, but she didn’t recognise her.

Mrs M reckoned that with both the Police and the Fire Brigade, there must have been about forty people combing through the woods, and Saber apparently had a lovely time, meeting all the German Shepherd police dogs.

We don’t know the outcome: whether they found the woman or not. I’ve looked on the local news this morning, but there’s not a mention of it.

My fingers are crossed that it turns out well.

A lorra lorra lorries

As our Cilla used to paraphrase.

Well, I made it to the conference yesterday.

I left even earlier, just to be on the safe side. However, when I reached the slip road for the M1, there was a big tailback, thanks to four vehicles having a shunt, right at the top of the slip road.

“I don’t belieeeeve it!”, I shouted, turning into Richard Wilson from One Foot In The Grave.

But, once I’d got past it, my journey was OK… I just didn’t arrive quite as early as I’d hoped.

And getting out of Newbury Racecourse was horrendous! Imagine trying to get out of Wembley Arena after a Take That concert, and you won’t be far wrong.

And then the M4 did what the M4 does best – it snarled up.

It was nearly eight pm when I got home.

And today, I have to be in Dartford, bright and early for an 8am meeting.

With the luck I’ve been having on the motorways this week, I really haven’t got a chance!


Yesterday, I was supposed to be at Newbury Racecourse for a conference.  (as I’ve said before, we do love a conference, at the Water Board).

As it was further to go than my usual journey, I left earlier to allow a little extra time… just in case.

Of course, I never made it.

My sat-nav estimated that I would arrive at about 8:30. “Yeah right”, I thought, “we’ll see.” And then my rubbish superpower kicked into action and just ten minutes into my journey up the M1, we ground to a halt.

Then the overhead gantry signs came on to say that there was a 90 minute delay on the M25.

The M25? Gimme a break, I haven’t even got there yet. Can’t blame that one on me!

I turned the radio on and the travel announcer cheerily told me that the jam I was sitting in, was caused by two vans coming together and closing the motorway at Hemel Hempstead.

The jam on the M25 was caused by four lorries and had closed three lanes between junctions 17 and 16.

My overly optimistic sat-nav  changed it’s earlier estimate from 8:30 to 12:30.

The M1 blockage was eventually cleared, but as the M25 one was still in place, I decided to abort and when I got the opportunity, I came off at Hemel, turned round and went home.

Luckily (!), I get another chance as the conference is also on today, so I’m going to have a second attempt.

I’m just hoping I can hold my superpower in.

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!


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.

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