Category: People (page 2 of 5)


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…”

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 🙂

Britain Has Got Talent

Some years ago, I went to see (hear) The Planet Suite by Holst, being played at the Royal Festival Hall.

It was bloody brilliant.  And I found myself slightly star-struck, when I realised I was sitting just two seats away from Julian Lloyd Webber.

Recently I’ve been longing to go and see (hear) it again… although I doubt Jules will be there this time.

And so tonight finds me searching the internets for tickets.

Tickets to see (hear) The Planet Suite.

All of it.

By Gustav Holst.

I couldn’t find any though and somehow I ended up just listening to Jupiter on YouTube.

Which was great.

But, then the ‘YouTube sidebar of time-wasting’ sucked me in, and I found myself clicking on all sorts of videos, only to emerge two hours later, bleary-eyed and finding that everyone had gone to bed.

But, I thought I’d share a couple of favourites that I found, with you… they’re fairly short.

I would love to have been there for this one, but being a southerner, I missed out. I very much doubt it’s ever going to happen in our shopping mall in town.

And this one just made me jealous: the talent of this fella! It’s scenes like this that make me wish I’d paid more attention to my music teacher at school.


That’s two, three and four out of the way

As mentioned in my previous post, Wednesday saw me at a pub in Wooburn Green, out near High Wycombe, for the GB3AL User Group Christmas dinner. It was good to finally meet up with these guys and put faces to names and callsigns.

A good time was had by all and – for me – it was marred only by the food. Bearing in mind it’s the run up to Christmas, I was surprised to see no turkey dinners on the menu, so we ended up having burger and chips. “Gourmet” burger and chips. Don’t get me wrong, it was bloody delicious, but it was a Christmas function and, as such, I was expecting to eat a Christmas dinner.

Thursday was the second works’ Christmas do and about sixty of us descended on an Italian restaurant in Reading town centre. And this place  had a proper Christmas menu – ie, a menu especially for the season. However, once again, not a turkey dinner in sight! I had Crostata Del Giardino to start, followed by Chicken And Polpette Al Forno and finally Christmas Pudding for dessert – their one concession to a traditional Christmas menu.  The food was fantastic though and couldn’t be faulted.

Maybe expecting a traditional English Christmas dinner at an Italian restaurant was too much.

And last Friday’s do was an Indian all-you-can-eat buffet… again, very nice.


That’s three Christmas functions I have been to so far, with not a slice of turkey or a Brussels sprout to be seen.

This can’t be right.


But, I have high hopes of the fifth do next week, which is in a Beefeater pub.

Finally: the stag do we had on Friday was a boozy affair in a local establishment, which ended up with a fight at the end. Whilst I wasn’t a participant, I was one of the party involved and my face is now known, so I doubt I’ll be able to step foot in there again.

Oh well.

One down

Friday was the first Christmas do of the year, for me.

It was the first of three work functions that I’m attending in the run up to Christmas.

But I also have another do next week: the GB3AL User Group Christmas Dinner: half-a-dozen blokes who I have spoken to regularly on the radio over the past year. Never met them, but I’ve been invited to their annual Xmas get-together, so that should be fun. I’m really looking forward to it.

Then we have the second works’ do.

And then on Friday evening: a stag do.

It’s gonna be a boozy week.

But no boozier than the one I went to on Friday.  Because that one had that greatest thing that any Christmas party can have: a free bar. Woohoo!

I was off my tits.

I think.

But, I also had a bit of a boogie on the dance-floor and somehow, that always seems to negate the alcohol. Don’t know if I sweat it out, but for the amount that I drank, I should probably have been on my back (actually, I think I was, a couple of times). Don’t get me wrong, the dancing doesn’t sober me up completely – as was evident by my rubbish fleckerls – but it does seem to help.

So, one party down… four more to go.



A perfect weekend

Yesterday morning found me back at Bletchley Park.

This time – having looked around the Cyber Security exhibit first and finding myself feeling pretty non-plussed about it all – I wandered over to Hut 12, which housed a James Bond exhibition.

Being a big Bond fan, I had high hopes for this, but they were ultimately dashed once I stepped inside. The exhibition was  – in the main – a load of paintings hung on the walls, each with a Bond connection. For some, that connection was vague, to say the least.

Far more interesting (to me, at least) was a couple of glass cases, that housed original letters typed and signed by Ian Fleming to the high-ups at Bletchley Park.

As Personal Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Fleming had a high security clearance, giving him access to many high level reports in his role to find ways of intercepting enemy coding materials.

He even contrived a scheme to get hold of Enigma paperwork, by disguising a British aircrew as Germans and then crashing them into the Atlantic in a captured German bomber, to lure a German rescue ship. The crew would then overpower and kill their rescuers and capture the papers and/or an Enigma machine.

Operation Ruthless – as it came to be called – never happened, due to a lack of suitable targets, but with that sort of cunning and imagination, it’s easy to see where the James Bond stories came from.

After all that, I headed to Oxford, where I met up with some friends from work and we saw the sights did a pub crawl.

I got back to my hotel in the early hours and slept like a log – well, I probably would have, if I didn’t have the bladder of a small child and the need to get up several times in the night!   My head was thumping this morning, but a hearty breakfast and several mugs of tea later and I am as right as rain.

Which is exactly what it’s been doing all day, so that means I can’t cut the grass, as planned.

Shame. 🙂


This morning, I visited the National Radio Centre in Bletchley Park.

It was this: most excellent!

By chance, I’d happened to pick a day when an event to celebrate the breaking of the Enigma code was taking place.

An Amateur Radio station in Italy, was broadcasting messages in Morse code, that had been encrypted with the Enigma cipher and various stations around the world were trying to pick up these signals and decrypt them.   I – along with many others – watched with interest as the amateur radio operators received and decoded the Morse code, writing the 5-character blocks onto a replica form to that which was used in Bletchley Park during WW2.

This was then handed to another chap, who was giving a superb presentation on the workings of a genuine Enigma machine that sat on a table before him. His audience was enthralled as he decoded the message letter by letter.

Afterwards, I took a quick walk around the mansion house. It had changed a lot since I last visited it back in the eighties, when I worked for BT. Back then, we used it mainly for recreation, as I remember, but it has now been restored to it’s former glory.  The picture above shows one of the downstairs rooms which – when we used to go there and if memory serves me correctly – housed a pool table. It now – as you can see – gives an accurate depiction of what it would have looked like in the 1940s.

All too soon, my time ran out and I had to leave.

But I’ll go back again soon.


PS – still got that damned tune in my head!

Monkeying about

Last week, I went ape.

We did a sort of team-build event at work, where about sixty of us descended on the Go Ape tree-top adventure park in Slough (other sites are available).

Wearing our safety harnesses, we spent an enjoyable couple of hours clambering about a 30ft-high obstacle course, up in the trees.

Many parts of the course had multiple routes that you could take: Easy, Difficult or Extreme, each ending with a long zip-wire finish.

Of course, I always opted for the Extreme routes.  However, I do sometimes forget that I’m not as fit and strong as once I was and several of the routes were quite… challenging.  Still, not to be outdone by my younger colleagues, I tackled each one with gusto.

One route in particular was really hard. Marked as “Extreme”, I suggested to staff afterwards that it should be re-classified as “Ridiculous”.
Metal rings – only just big enough for me to get my size 12 plates into – hung from ropes, and the idea was to “walk” across, using the rings as stepping stones. Of course, they swung about wildly as you tried to do so.

With a captive audience up in the trees with me – I played it for laughs: allowing the rings to swing apart causing me to do the splits; getting my feet stuck in the rings; spinning uncontrollably; whilst all the time shouting about it -“Ooohh; Help! Yikes!” etc.

I kept it restrained just enough from going into the full Norman Wisdom, but that extra monkeying around really takes it out of you!

The day was enormous fun and if you get a chance to have a go, I highly recommend that you do.

And if you are anything like me, you’ll sleep like a log afterwards.

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