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Ring Ring

Talking of mobile phones, it’s always fun to change your ringtone to something different to what came installed on the phone. 

Of late, the original Nokia tune has become a fashionable ringtone again… in an ironic sort of way.

Many people choose a popular tune or a comedic catchphrase, and I myself have added several to my phone.

All are TV theme tunes from the 1970’s and when my phone rings, someone of a similar age to myself will pop their head up and say “Ooh, that sounds familiar…  what is it?”

So, here are the theme tunes for you to have a guess at.

Anyone who gets all five will win a speedboat.*

Number 1

 

Number 2

 

Number 3

 

Number 4

 

Number 5

 

*Not really.

Ringing in the changes

It’s that time again.

It has been two years since I got my current mobile phone and the contract runs out next month.

Now, I am on the Three network which, whilst it has been quite reliable, just hasn’t quite offered the coverage that I get with Vodafone on my company mobile.

And so, I am thinking about jumping ship to another provider, despite having been with Three for a number of years.

And my Sony Xperia phone has been as solid as a rock for the past two years. I’m still very happy with it and would happily stick with it, really.

Except.

Except it is two years old and the battery is knackered. And you can’t just change the battery, because the phone is sealed, because it’s waterproof.

And besides. It’s two years old and I suppose I fancy a change.

But, this is the bit I don’t like, because now I have to choose a new phone and there are just so many out there now to choose from (not including Apple, of course, because… it’s Apple).

And once I have chosen my replacement – which should be easy in theory, considering my minimum requirements – I then have the rubbish task of choosing a network to go with.

Again, that should be easy, because they are all the same.

Well, nearly.

Finally though, it’s the confusing and time-consuming task of choosing a package to suit my needs, without it costing the earth each month.

I think I want unlimited minutes, 4GB of data and 12 texts.

Or maybe I want unlimited minutes, unlimited data and 14 texts.

But, y’know, looking at my current usage, I can probably save money and get away with just 200 mins, 500MB of data and 10 texts.

I just don’t know.

What I do know though, is that hours of surfing the net and scouring mobile phone websites, lies ahead of me, before I lose the will to live and eventually just walk into Carphone Whorehouse and let Johnny No Stars talk me into a package I’ll inevitably regret later on.

Earwig o again

I’ve got one of those earworm things, y’know, when you get a tune stuck in your head and can’t shift it.

As earworms go, it’s not a bad one though.

It’s actually one of my favourite pieces of music and I stumbled upon it by chance, many years ago, when I was visiting some friends in Norwich (we weren’t going to see the quiz of the week, I might add) and I found myself mooching in HMV, whilst my mate and his wife were shopping next door for cushions or some shit like that.

Scherezade is the piece I’m talking about. By Rimsky and the Korsakovs.

It’s a wonderful piece of music, one of my favourites, but annoyingly, I just keep playing the same thirty-second loop in my head and not the whole 40 minutes.

Anyway, on a related note, I was in town t’other day and noticed that our HMV had closed down.

This upset me slightly, as it was the last ‘record store’ in town.

OK, I can’t even remember the last time I actually bought a record or CD from there (or anywhere else)… but it upset me nonetheless.

Gift Horse

Next weekend is the current Mrs Masher’s birthday.

And what does one get for the girl who has, well… me?

Darned if I know.

I can’t get her chocolates, because she’s on a diet.

I can’t buy her clothes because… well, she’s on a diet and what fits now might not fit later.

I can’t get her a 21 piece socket set with a ½ inch drive reversible ratchet,  because I got her one of those for Christmas.

So, I asked her: “What would you like me to get you for your birthday, Mrs M?”

Even she struggled with that one! I was expecting a list of options, but no.

After some thought, she said she wanted a laptop.

A laptop? Now THAT I can do!

I wonder if I should get her a pink one or a white one.

B&B

The erudite Mr Jones mentioned in a post earlier, of how much he enjoys taking his morning tea back to bed with him.

I think he has also mentioned previously, the joy of having breakfast in bed.

You are sadly mistaken, my friend.

Many claim this as an enjoyable little luxury, but does anyone really enjoy having breakfast in bed?

Really?

You know already that I don’t!

I’ve never seen the attraction.

Firstly, I don’t see how sitting upright in bed, propped up with pillows and balancing a bowl of Rice Krispies – other breakfast cereals are available –  can be more comfortable than sitting in a chair at the dining room table. Let’s face it, it’s not.

And then there’s the tray – if you have one. Again, balancing a tray containing a bowl of cereal and/or toast; a cup of tea/coffee; a glass of juice etc, isn’t easy. One wrong move – a sudden burst of hiccups – and it’s all over your 10 tog, duck-feather duvet – of course, other tog values are available.

Then there are the crumbs – especially if you have toast.  Doesn’t matter how careful you are, there will be crumbage. Which you won’t find until you get back into bed later that evening, when it will feel like half of Yarmouth beach is in bed with you – other, stonier, British beaches are available.

So please, tell me, where’s the luxury in that?

Or am I missing something.

Nothing on the telly

Working – as I do – alongside people of a younger generation, I’m constantly reminded of just how fucking old I am.

I was chatting with one such millennial the other day, and he was saying about how he was thinking of getting Sky TV, because he was a bit of a night owl and there’s not much on the thirty-or-so terrestrial (Freeview) channels after midnight.

He was genuinely taken aback when I told him that I could remember when we only had three TV channels: BBC1; BBC2 and ITV and that they would all switch off sometime just after 11pm, after playing the national anthem.

I told him of how – in 1982 – I made a special effort to get home from work early, just so I could watch the launch of Channel 4.  I was so excited at the time: an extra TV channel! This was history in the making.

Of course, nowadays, new TV channels come and go regularly. Some have fleeting lives, lasting only a few months whilst others seem to go on forever, despite the niche audience they are targeted at.

For today’s generations, this is the norm: super-thin flat-screen TVs with a gazillion channels.

But for us old farts, four channels was always enough.

Some would say it still is.

Knowledge Is Power

I don’t mind admitting that, when I was young, I was a bit of a swot.

I loved reading and I loved learning from reading.

Even if I were reading a storybook (a novel, in adult parlance), I would generally learn something. 

About the world.

About nature.

About humanity.

Something.

Many times, I would just learn a new word. I loved learning new words and would often take two books to bed with me: a novel and a dictionary – so I could look up any words I didn’t understand.

It’s no idle boast that as a young teenager, I easily had the largest vocabulary in my family.

My parents bought me a small set of encyclopaedias – I remember they had purple covers – and they took pride of place on my bookshelf.  I’m pretty sure that I read them from cover to cover more than once, over the years.

On a Saturday, I would go into town on the bus and would spend a happy couple of hours in the Town Library… just reading anything that took my fancy or – more often than not – looking up something that I’d heard or read about and just felt I needed to know more.

Once I started work, I never had the time so much, to go into the library. More than that, my thirst for knowledge became more immediate: if I wanted to know about something, I wanted to know about it now! And so, I spent over a thousand pounds on a set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

A beautiful set of books and, undoubtedly, the best repository of knowledge that money could buy… at the time.

I kept them for years.

And then Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

A game changer.

In an amazingly short period of time, all the major knowledge houses had their encyclopaedias or dictionaries and the like, online. Even Microsoft got in on the act with it’s own encyclopaedia: Encarta, which, to be fair, was really very good.

And then, of course, we got Wikipedia – another game changer… because it was free.

Nowadays, just about anything you want to know (and at any time you want to know it), is available somewhere online. For free. It’s bloody fantastic!

And, at Amelia’s Parent’s Evening, last night, the teachers were extolling the virtues of several websites, aimed specifically at helping kids with their education, by providing online, extra-curricular lessons and teaching.

Wow! If I’d had all this when I was their age, maybe I would have done better at school than I did.

Maybe I’d have gone on to university and made a huge success of my life.

Or maybe I’d have been a winner on The Chase.

I need to become a glass half-full, kinda person

I spent yesterday at Epsom Downs Racecourse.

And very nice it was too.

I wasn’t there for the dobbin racing though, but rather, for a conference.

I’ve mentioned before how the firm loves a conference.

The management team spoke at length, about how the company will be transformed and improved over the coming years.

They told us what they were going to put in place, to make us into a successful company. 

Into a company where the customer always gets a fantastic service.

Into a company where the workforce just love coming to work.

And they told us how we are all a part of it.

I’ve been around, so I’ve heard it all before, of course.

But, it does sound promising. 

And results are already being seen… if facts and figures are to be believed.

So, maybe, just maybe, it will be different this time round.

I really do hope so. 

My personal highlight of the day? Lunch.

Crapachino

I’ve mentioned it before but, I still cannot get my head around how important coffee is. 

To some.

I just don’t understand what it means to some people to have a ‘proper’ cup of coffee.

Maybe that’s because, whilst I don’t mind the occasional cup of Joe – as our American cousins inexplicably call it – I am, in the main, a tea drinker.

I don’t want to pay extortionate prices for a skinny-flat-white-mocha-latte-cappucino (essentially, two spoons of Nescafe topped up with hot milk), when I can get a whole jar of Maxwell House for the same price.

But I seem to be in an ever-shrinking minority.

More and more coffee shops proliferate our high streets and they always seem busy: full of people holding huge, white, ceramic cups full of the dark brown liquid.

Trains and public areas are littered with cardboard cups, all bearing various logos from the well-known establishments.

At work, we have recently been getting visits from a mobile ‘proper’ coffee wagon. It pulls up outside a few times a day and beeps its horn. Within a few minutes, there is a line of people queueing up, to get their morning fix.

Honestly, I have seen some of them stand there for up to fifteen minutes, in freezing temperatures, just to get a cup of coffee.

Fifteen minutes!

I’m on my second cup of PG by then!

From a Great Height Part 2

A few years later – somewhere around 1989/90 – the same thing happened again: a chap at work brought in a leaflet and said that we should all do a parachute jump as a team, for charity.

Now, at the time, I had a bit of rivalry going on with Pat. He was always trying to outdo me at work – completing more surveys; finishing the job a bit quicker, that sort of thing. And I was doing the same to him. It started as friendly rivalry, but developed a bit of a harsh edge as the months passed.

It also didn’t help that we were both vying for the affections of the same girl in the office: Liz.

Liz was intelligent, easy to talk to and – being a former beauty contestant winner – was as pretty as they come.

She was also up for a challenge, so she put her name down for the parachute jump. Having already done one, I put put my name down too, without hesitation.  Not wanting to lose face in front of me or Liz, Pat also signed up, despite obviously being as nervous as hell about it.

When the time came, we went to the airfield and -as I had done before – spent the whole of Saturday learning the correct way to fall out of an aeroplane.

It was a bright Sunday morning, as we lined up on the airfield, wearing all our kit and caboodle. We had been told in training that the last person on the plane would be first to jump, and so I made an effort to get in the line before Pat. I wanted him to jump before me, because I knew he was bricking it and I wanted to see the horror on  his face when it was his turn to jump.

The jump-master made his way along the line, checking that each of us had strapped on our parachutes correctly. When he got to me, he stopped and gave my chute a good checking over. “How much do you weigh?” he asked, looking me up and down. I told him. “You need a bigger chute”, he said matter-of-factly, “Double over to the chute-hut and get another.”

I legged it over to the large barn that stored all the parachutes and plonked my one on the counter. “I need a bigger one”, I said.

“That’s the biggest we do”, said the chap behind the counter. “You’ll have to have a cargo chute”.

“A cargo chute? Will that be OK?”

He nodded and so I grabbed it and ran back to the plane, where everybody was now on board, waiting for me. The jump-master helped me on with my chute and bundled me on board the waiting aircraft, where I had to squeeze in at the back.

On my first jump, a few years earlier, we went up in a small 6-seater (with the seats removed) and when it was time to jump, you sat in the doorway with your legs outside and pushed yourself out when you were ready.  This plane was much larger and held about 15 people (older readers may remember seeing it, as it featured as part of an advert for the Abbey National back then) and the back was open, so you just stepped out and dropped. A very different kettle of fish: a worserer kettle of fish!

“You ready?” asked the jump-master.

I stood up in position and found Liz’ face amongst all the crash helmets staring back at me. She gave me a little smile of encouragement.

And then I saw Pat, grinning at me like a loon. He was loving that I had to go first.

The jump-master tapped me on the shoulder: my cue.

I gave Pat a wry smile, turned, and without hesitation, stepped out of the door.

“ONE THOUSAND… TWO THOUSAND… THREE THOUSAND… CHECK CANOPY”

Like a seasoned pro.

On the ground, I gathered up my chute, and looked up to my colleagues who were still falling from the sky.  I kind of hoped that Pat would have bottled it, but he didn’t. No-one did: everybody made the jump and there were no injuries.

Apart from Liz, who twisted her ankle upon landing. 

Stuart- the storeman – helped her hobble back to the training area and took her chute in for her.

They started dating the following weekend.

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