Monday, 29 March 2010

Your teeth are like stars dear, they come out at night...

Admit it - you've used your teeth to do things you're not supposed to use them for. I couldn't get into a packet of 'Pink & Whites' - "Crunchy wafers filled with pink 'n' white mallow" - (only half a Weightwatchers point) tonight so I used my teeth to tear the packet open. That's what you do isn't it? I couldn't find the scissors and a knife seemed unnecessary and an abuse of force against an innocent plastic wrapper, and in any case, teeth was quicker.

I've tried, in temper, to cut string with teeth when the scissors are at the other end of the house, open one of those plastic sealed CD cases that you can't find the edge of, and tried to cut the tag off a new 't' shirt because I could do it with my hands.

There you are, confession done. I've never tried to open a bottle top with my teeth mind, and I've seen that a few times but I have cut thousands of bits of sellotape over the years with the old gnashers even though my teeth are not in any way sharp.

I've had accidents by losing fillings of course and cracking teeth through eating nuts and toffee etc., but doesn't everyone? I've carried a few plastic bags in my teeth when my hands have been full and taken pen caps off on a daily basis. Pistachio nuts that haven't fully opened can only be opened with teeth because it makes your nails sore.

Teeth are obviously very useful for vampires, dentists and professional whistlers. Smiles can be better for a good set of teeth and they are an essential tool for chewing food and chewing gum. They can be great as comforters when chewing hair, hankies or a favourite teddy bear.

False teeth? Well they are just good for a laugh!

Teeth are also mentioned in the Bible - (King James version, Psalm 58:6) "Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD." In other words, take away the opportunities that hurt us.

Teeth can hurt, cause many tears, fall out, rot and bite someone very hard indeed, or nibble someone if you're lucky. Either way, they can be quite useful.

What do you get if you cross teeth with candy? Dental floss!

Chat soon


Sunday, 28 March 2010

I really haven't the time...

Goodbye GMT and hellllooooooo BST - at last, and what a lovely spring day - but beware, snow forecast for us 'up north' next week. Check the Met Office website if you don't believe me.

"Time is," "Time was," "Time's past."*

Although I've never met anyone who turned up at work late or early because they hadn't adjusted their watches and clocks, there must be some confusion around this issue. We still get a lot of reminders on the media to put the clocks back in the autumn or forward in the spring which I'm grateful for and I usually find one clock that I've missed somewhere in the house.

I thought I'd count the number of 'things' in the house that give the time... and surprisingly it turned out to be 23, comprised of:

Computer - 1
Mantle clock - 1
Wall clocks - 2
Alarm clocks - 5
DVD - 2
Microwave - 1
Cooker - 1
Watches - 5
Mobile phones - 5

If you count cars, it's even more. By the way - I'm not obsessed by mobile phones, alarm clocks or watches - there's five of us in the house today. The problem for me is I have no idea how to change the cooker or microwave clocks without referring to the manuals because the buttons are multifunctional and there's no obvious 'clock button.' I got up this morning and my better half had already done those two thank goodness.

We're generally concerned about time I guess, we live our lives, well most of us anyway regulated by time, when we start work, how long we can have for lunch, when the TV programme starts and I'm pretty hot on being anywhere I have to be before the time allotted. Personally I hate to be late. Some people I know don't give a bugger about time, it means nothing to them that they are late and hold things up and don't even apologise because time is irrelevant.

I heard a moving account the other day of a woman whose father died and there was an important family event and on his death bed the father commented what he would give for another day on earth in order to witness that event. Sadly it was not to be for that family, but shows how time can be crucial for some.

As someone who lives in the 'now' where memories are unalterable and a thing of the past, not existing anymore, (like the future, it doesn't actually exist at this moment in time), planning ahead is important to give some order to my life; some continuity of purpose, a routine to look forward to - in other words to make maximum use of the relatively little time we are allotted on this earth.

Wow, Sunday morning philosophy class over!

Today's story keeps with the theme of time.

A company rep was still a long way from home after an already exhausting car journey down the length of the country so he decided that he needed a nap to make sure he didn't fall asleep at the wheel. As he was just dozing off in a lay-by there came a knock at the car door. Jolting upright, the rep wound down the window and a woman dressed in jogging gear said, "Excuse me, do you have the time?"

"Eight thirty," replied the exhausted rep. He settled down and was just nodding off when another rapping on the window brought him back to his senses. This time a male jogger asked, "Sorry to bother you, can you tell me the time?"

Somewhat fractious, the rep barked out, "Eight thirty seven!" After struggling to get comfortable in his car and just starting to doze, another loud knocking on the window made him jump. Yet another jogger asked the time. "Eight forty!"

Frustrated, angry and past himself, he wrote a note saying, "I don't know the bloody time!" and stuck it on his window. Just as he was falling into a deep sleep he was startled awake by a loud knocking on his window. He wearily wound it down and a jogger said, "It's eight fifty."

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Chat soon

*This is a quote from a legendary brass speaking head, the 'Brazen Head' fabled to have been made by Roger Bacon, many centuries ago.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Public Sector to pay for UK Government Balls Up!

We had some thunder, lightening and hail with sleet this afternoon. Brilliant.

The weekend is with us and as a precursor to it, today was a training and planning day for my unit at work. We all got together for an away day - away from the phones and computers and worked hard at what we we are going to do for the financial year 2010/11. There are lots of positive moves to make and improvements on the horizon for working better as a team to integrate parts of our roles for our business.

The difficulty we all face is the looming spectre of public spending cuts (potentially 25% announced today) on the agenda for all the political parties after the general election which will no doubt come along on 6 May when we have local elections in the UK. Our roles will be looked at and face scrutiny and our future is uncertain.

I'll say this as a last comment on this for now because I don't want to spoil my weekend: We (as a certain public service) have worked damned hard to get to the position we are in providing probably the best service we have done for as long as I can remember. We are doing what Government and the public demand of us more or less and performance is as good as it's ever been and getting better. People provide that service, not computers or machines or equipment. When 85% of your budget is spent on staff, only the staff are going to give way. Government and the public expect (quite properly) to get a decent service. When staff is cut and demand for improvements continue, something has to give and it WILL be performance and the service you get. And yet ladies and gentlemen - you will pay not one penny less in your taxes and services will deteriorate. Why? Because your Government are making YOU pay for THEIR inadequacies on allowing the global financial crisis to happen, failing to manage and regulate and curb PRIVATE sector banking excesses and to boot, bailing them out with OUR money - and its the public sector, already pared to the bone who will bail them out. Is that a triple whammy for us - they must think we're bloody stupid? I can see a real summer of discontent on the horizon - it's already started with British Airways and the railway signalmen's dispute (aren't there any lady signalmen by the way?)

Whoopee bloody doo!

I have been working on a World Cup 2010 (football for the uninitiated) sweep stake system to raise a few pounds at work, some of which will go to charity, the rest to the winners who will have to predict the scores and who will reach the finals. We discussed this today during our break and will be a little fun for the summer. My colleague 'E' will administer the system (she volunteered) and she knows nothing about football at all. That's dedication.

The youngest son is home today, back from University for the Easter break - welcome home!

I hope you enjoy the weekend and catch some of the occasional sunny intervals that will be squeezed between the showers.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Which photo for Facebook?

Have you noticed how everyone is now talking a lot more positively about weekends, days off etc? People at work for example are looking forward to two four-day weeks starting next week either side of Easter; indeed I am thinking more about my holiday in June - we're going to Portugal, somewhere I've never been and I'm really looking forward to it. One little dark cloud on the horizon is this morning I understand Portugal's credit rating has been downgraded because there's a lot of debt, so I hope they don't slip into recession. Perhaps the only advantage might be more euros to the pound over there - is that how it works?

It's my middle son's birthday today - Happy Birthday!

My geranium plug plant have arrived this morning which means I am looking forward to spending some time in the garden this weekend potting them on to 3 inch pots - save to say that rain is forecast - oh joy!

I've put a really boring photograph of the fish on the blog today, not because it's at all interesting other than the fact that they are active now, they are hunting for bits to eat and it's lovely to see their colour emerging from hiding under the weed this winter. I'm feeding them some crushed wheatgerm until the temperature warms up a little after which I can feed them some tasty high protein food which they adore.

Well I've gone and done it and I said I wouldn't - I've reactivated my Facebook account. I have no real idea why because it was taking a fair bit of time keeping up to date, but I need to use technology to help me do more automatic tasks like publish links to this blog on it. Then the dilemma of a photograph. I take such a poor one and they are never flattering - oh the choice! I guess I like to people watch in truth and keep up with colleagues and acquaintances I only ever see or hear from occasionally, so if you are on Facebook and follow this blog and would like to add me, let me know and I'll pass you my details.

It was my first day back to work today after six days off and whilst I didn't get to do all I wanted to, it was fairly relaxing. I was welcomed back this morning by some and others mentioned they hadn't seen me around which is cool and I welcome the friendly atmosphere in which I work. Another colleague is coming back to work tomorrow, only she's been off for quite a while because she's been bringing up new child into the world. I know she would rather not be at work, but for us, it will be good to have her back.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I haven't spoken to my mother in law for thirty years. Oh, we haven't fallen out - I just can't get a word in edge ways. I always know when she's coming round - before she gets here the mice are throwing themselves on the traps. She offered to cook a meal for us which, seriously, is very kind. The trouble is she's a terrible cook. Her rhubarb pie is one foot long and an inch wide. Pygmies come and dip their darts in her custard. We did have one argument once: She said to me, "When you're dead, I'll dance on your grave." "Good," I said, "I'm being buried at sea!" That's why I've never been married twice - I couldn't stand breaking in another mother in law. What's your like?

Hope you are enjoying the week.

Chat soon


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Rain stops play

I'm conscious that this is only the sixth posting this month and I realise why. I'm spending so much more time 'out' and doing more active things instead of sitting in looking out onto frosty and snow covered land. However, that keen need to get out has come to a grinding halt as the rain from last night persists today.

I had my Christmas work night out and it was great. Good company, good food and NO Santa hats thank goodness. We started in a lovely Italian Restaurant on Princes Avenue in Hull and I had garlic mushrooms for a starter followed by special chicken in a most delicious and subtle sauce. The atmosphere in the place was great and you could literally 'taste' the garlic in the air. We then went on what I suppose I would call a 'pub crawl', into three different bars. I haven't done this for around fifteen years! All very enjoyable, noisy, packed to the gunnel's but a safe environment. I wasn't drinking, four bottles of sparkling water that's all, but it didn't make it any less enjoyable.

It started to rain while we were eating last night and in quick time it became heavy and persistent - as Peter Kay would say, 'the stuff that soaks you through.' My three female companions covered their heads with small handbags as we scampered from bar to bar - us roughie toughie blokes didn't bother of course and we got wet. We sat outside one bar at a pavement table because the bar was too hot inside and sheltered by a huge awning and warmed by an outside heat lamp, it was very bearable - and we're still in March. I found home about 11.30 pm.

I had Friday off and spent some time in the garden and we have Blue Tits showing an interest in one of the bird boxes I put up a couple of years ago. Despite me sat in the garden waiting nearby, they weren't put off and explored it for many minutes. I couldn't capture a bird flying in, but have got one just perched on the hole looking in.

Talking about parties, the following historically famous people were invited to a party:

Nelson said he'd give his right arm for a good party;
Einstein said it would be relatively easy to attend;
Marie Curie radiated enthusiasm;
Dr Jekyll was in two minds;
Morse's reply was, 'I'll be there on the dot, can't stop, must dash;'
Edison said it would be an enlightening experience;
Chairman Mao said he'd write the date down in his little red book;
Ohm resisted the idea at first;
Wilbur Wright accepted the invitation providing he and Orville could get a flight;

Chat soon

Thanks to Geoff Tibballs

Friday, 19 March 2010

Merry Christmas

What a lovely spring day; warm breeze, sunny and everyone seems in a good mood. I had a busy half week at work and on Wednesday afternoon I trundled off to Lincolnshire to do a lecture/presentation to a media course which I am invited to twice a year to 25 experienced journalists and marketing people. I've taken a few days leave to finish off my annual leave entitlement and I'm going to use it to relax as best I can.

After the lecture, convivial company and a sound nights sleep accompanied by the effects of some very nice Argentinian wine, I meandered back through the pleasant Lincolnshire countryside to see an old colleague of mine Gemma and her new baby boy who is gorgeous if not a little under the weather at the moment.

I guess I'm not only lucky to have some good friends and acquaintances, but to live in a lovely part of the country. It's not spectacular, it doesn't make you draw breath in admiration but it's really very green and interesting. Undulating countryside either side of the Humber basin makes the vista interesting and being in a geographical backwater does give it a somewhat rural feeling even in some of the urban areas.

Believe it or not, I am going out on a works Christmas night out tonight at an Italian Restaurant in Hull. No - it's not a celebration of this year's Christmas to get in before the rush, but a belated celebration for last year after two or three dates were cancelled due to important family commitments of the team. Woe betide anyone who turns up in a Santa hat!

I'm not a big drinker and tonight I'll be driving, so no booze for me, but the company will be excellent and an opportunity to relax with colleagues over what I hope will be a nice meal. It won't cost us anything because we run a small sweepstake for fun guessing football scores every week with a pound contribution each week during the footy season, so the night is paid for.

The Wii Fit says I've lost another three pounds, in the last three weeks which is good. I'm still losing weight but only two to three pounds a month so it's just close to levelling out, but more to lose yet. I hate it when it when the Wii balance board squeals when you stand on it!

Over the last few days, I've started to feed the fish in the pond again as the temperature is rising. I cleaned the pond out, getting rid of the detritus and I spotted some baby fish, about an inch long and all black. This is marvellous news and gives me an indication that the fish are healthy and the environment seems okay. I'm going to see if I can get a picture of them.

Bit of gardening today - gentle stuff, bit more heavy pruning tomorrow if the rain keeps off.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Chat soon


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday and Loo Rolls

Bit of a strange day today; sadly our dog died having become ill overnight, the Vet did the kindest thing and we await her ashes.

Cindy, a Spaniel, was 14 years of age and part of the family, very close to the children and as soft as a brush. She had deteriorated in the last two years or so becoming deaf and increasingly blind, but she was still active.

Years ago, she was one of twin bitches kept together by someone we knew and was being attacked by her twin sister bitch. We took Cindy, the docile one of the two, just a year old, a few months after moving into our present house. She'll be missed.

Mother's day today and both mothers had a visit and we took them some potted plants to brighten their days. My mother is progressing well after having a hip replacement and is walking about even visiting Tescos yesterday with the trolley as support.

I didn't know this until I read it on Wikipedia, but Mothering Sunday has a religious origin going back to neolithic times and as the Romans converted to Christianity, the masses would go to the local cathedral to honour the Virgin Mary and the mother church and the modern revival of the day came about in World War 2 and has been popular ever since, not least by shops!

Here's the thing, although I have no figures for the UK, according to IBISWorld, for Mother's Day, the Americans spend $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering items such as spas etc., and $68 million on greetings cards. Phew.

I thought I would give you an update on the toilet roll situation. I've stopped collecting now and put them to good use and here they are...

They are potted up and standing in the greenhouse with sweet pea seeds in them and hopefully in about two weeks time, they'll be poking their little green leaves through. I lost all my Begonia tubers this winter which is a shame, but I got twelve free with some plants I bought - so all is well and they are now in their pots. I've managed two half days in the garden this weekend and I've scared the sun and the neighbours with wearing my shorts - that's got to be some sort of record - mid March, but with virtually no breeze, it's been pleasantly warm.

The compost bin has been mostly emptied, a new border has been created around a fountain we
bought last year and the fresh compost has been dug in ready for some red geraniums late spring early summer. I've even given the grass its first cut and (don't tell any gardening professionals) it was a very low cut and managed to get all the remaining straggling leaves, twigs and other rubbish off the grass and it looks very presentable. I promise to raise the blades for cutting for the next few weeks. It really does have some moss in it which is my fault for cutting so low, but I'm thinking of getting someone in to give it a treatment; they come and put stuff on your lawn which can't be bought four times a year. My brother in law next door has it done and it looks great - no moss and wonderfully green.

I didn't get to bed until three-ish this morning after doing a paranormal investigation in an old building in the old part of Hull. It was a very interesting night, although there were very few spirits around, it was a good atmosphere and a good little team of ten thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm going to sift through all the photographs and video footage to see if we captured anything. The beauty of digital cameras and their instant accessibility to pictures allowed one or two of the team to see that they had captured some unexpected and unexplained anomalies on their photographs.

Hope you've had a good weekend, have a great week.

Chat soon


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Sunshine and Optimism

I hope you've all had a good week and the sunshine has seemed to have brought a little optimism about the place which is very welcome indeed.

I've just come back from doing Tarot readings for a couple of dear friends and distant work colleagues and have enjoyed a lovely relaxing night in good company. G was slightly worried about having a reading, she's never had one before and right up to me turning up was considering whether or not to cancel. The reading went ahead and was done with compassion, truth and tact and in fact was entirely positive as I knew it would be. Both friends will give a small donation to charity for the readings which they said they enjoyed which is fantastic and I am grateful to them for their hospitality and generosity to good causes.

Well I have so much to do in the garden this weekend. I was in Liverpool for the first decent weekend for months last weekend so missed out so I'm going to have to graft to get the place tidied up, trimming and pruning done and what I can't recycle and compost, get off to the tip.

My compost bin has filled up during the winter with peelings from the kitchen that are perfectly preserved in the cold and haven't started to rot down at all, but I guess after the first lawn trim in a couple of weeks, the grass clippings will help to get some warmth going as it decomposes and starts the composting processes going. I need to put the compost from the bottom of the bin on the borders.

Signs are about of growth: the daffs are slow this year bit the snowdrops are just flowering and the birds are chasing each other. The grass verges on the city's dual carriageways are full of crocus and the purples, yellows and white are adding much needed colour to faded and washed out green grass. Nights are pulling out and I went to work in a fleece rather than a padded jacket today!

Time for a list, haven't done one for a while.

Although I'm 30+ years out of practice in the art of picking up members of the opposite gender, there are some lines I'd definitely NOT use...

"You wanna see my collection of Jack the Ripper memorabilia?"
"Let's make the most of this because I'm only out on day release."
"Excuse me while I use my phone. I have to ring my mother if I'm going to be out after nine thirty."
"Who wants safe sex anyway?"
"It's late - you'll do."

"I work in a slaughterhouse - how about you?"

"What are your views on handcuffs?"

"I'm a lawyer - Trust me!"

"You'd be a real babe if you lost three stones."

Have a great weekend.

Chat soon


Thanks to Goeff Tibballs for the lines

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A Welcome in Liverpool

The iconic Liver Building viewed from the River Mersey Ferry on Saturday 6 march 2010

I've arrived at the end of the weekend tired but elated after a g
reat two days in Liverpool. We took the opportunity to visit my son who is at Liverpool University and we stayed at a hotel on the Albert Dock in Liverpool, close to the city centre and overlooking the mighty River Mersey. Although Saturday was overcast, Sunday was glorious, cold and wall to wall sunshine - a real feel of spring.

We only saw a little of Liverpool of course, it's a huge city but what I can say is if you've never been - go and visit, it's worth every second of the stay. Talk about progressive, clean and looking after visitors; it makes my close to hand city of Hull look like a third world backwater.

The 'Wheel' outside the Echo Exhibition building, opposite Albert Dock, Liverpool

We were met on Friday night by a big wheel, lit against the city sky just opposite our hotel. It was very late and more or less went straight to bed in the magnificent Albert Dock buildings, converted dockside warehouses of extraordinary quality. Saturday, after meeting 'our kid,' we visited the dock area because there was so much to see.

First was the Beatles Story Museum which was next door to our hotel. This is a great experience, particularly if you're a Beatles fan like my family. It is a top quality museum, fully interactive and takes you through the Beatles story from humble beginnings to the end of the group as the Fab Four, and a little beyond. There are hundreds if not thousands of artifacts and exhibitions, posters video and mock ups of the famous Cavern.

We then toddled along to the Maritime Museum
and you can imagine with the great history of the city, there was plenty to see. The Titanic exhibition, Customs and Excise exhibition, the Thompson photography exhibition, and the Slavery exhibition. If anyone needs to see how to run a modern museum, then this must be the benchmark.

A short pointless and boring video of one of the world's most famous ferries

The next adventure was the Ferry across the Mersey from the Pier Head, in the shadow of the famous Liver Building across the river to Woodside on the Royal Iris Ferry. At Woodside there is the 'U-Boat Story' which tells the life of U-534, a submarine of the German Navy in WW2 that refused to surrender and was sunk by the allies. The boat was recovered in 1993 and now rests at Woodside for all to see and explore.
There was so much more to see and do but the weekend ran out of time and we will certainly go back and continue the tour and see the attractions we missed.

The conning tower of the U-534 at Woodside Ferry Terminal, Liverpool

Liverpool is a clean, busy city with a lovely atmos
phere, very welcoming indeed. There is a mixture of the old buildings and infrastructure , beautifully preserved and the startlingly new living side by side quite comfortably. The people are friendly and their accent most endearing and attractive. The weekend finished with a trip to the 'local' Makro store, a 30 minute drive away for 'bits and pieces' for a poor student through good quality open straight roads which get you from A to B quickly and without fuss which is refreshing.

Could do with a weekend to get over it! Good to be back.

Hope you have a great week.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

March on...

I hope the week has treated you well. The first week of the month is always busy for me where meetings take place on an evening: First Monday in the month for this, first Tuesday for that, first Wednesday for this etc.

I never even got chance to do the monthly feature about this new month. (15 second tour - March, third month of the Gregorian calendar named after Mars, Roman god of war; birthstones aquamarine and bloodstone (meaning courage) and the birth flower is the Narcissus. Famous days are St David's Day - the first, St Patrick's Day - the seventeenth and of course, Mothering Sunday on the fourteenth.)

I'm looking forward to a weekend trip to sunny Liverpool to see the sights of that great city for the first time and it will be nice to see my youngest son again who is at university there. I'm hoping the snow which is forecast (will it ever end!?) stays away long enough for us to enjoy a walk around. I'll put some pics on the blog when I get back.

In some ways, I'm sorry to be going and leaving the home area because my mum has just had a hip replacement operation on Wednesday and she is recovering well although at 72, nothing is ever quite straight forward is it. She and dad seem to have everything worked out and planned and my eldest son is around if they need anything over the weekend and she may or may not be out of hospital on Saturday depending on how her physiotherapy goes.

Work is busy right now and I spent most of the day helping a colleague to refresh and update their departments Intranet site which keeps staff informed of what's going on in their area of business. I tinker with my unit's intranet site to try to keep it fresh and informative.

I had an interesting psychic experience on Tuesday night at the circle. In the second half of the evening we hold a - well I can only describe it as something akin to a seance round a table. Although it varies in the way it runs and unfolds, I tried to get into a deep medatitive state and get really relaxed. Using the energy from those round the table, and just for a few seconds, I was overshadowed by a spirit. What does that mean? I spoke for a few seconds with his words and after that I simply got a psychic contact and was able to relay a message from him.

It was a weird sensation and it's the first time it's ever happened to me, although I have witnessed it in others a few times. I got a headache, like a pressure all around my head prior to it happening and felt slightly disorientated. I can't tell you right now who he was and the message he gave because I think there may be more to complete the story of why he came to me and I hope to find out from which era he came from, where he lived and what his identity was and what his story was in life.

Odd eh? Seven years ago, I was an open minded sceptic about this stuff - not anymore.

I've just finished watching England beat the Egyptians 3 - 1 at Wembley in a friendly and the first half was awful for England who played badly and went one-nil down. The second half they were a different team, scored three and ended up being easy winners. Interestingly, John Terry was booed by his own fans (not all thank goodness,) whenever he got the ball. Why do the fans boo their own team and players?

It amazes me - like the national media revel in screwing our own heroes and celebrities and anyone else who is remotely successful in this country - destroying lives over petty personal things which mean nothing to anyone except the individuals themselves - we seem to have the ability to press the self destruct button so easily and why? To sell more papers and put money in the pockets of shareholders and for a news editor or journalist to say, "I'm responsible for bringing that person down." Make your own mind up.

If I don't get on again before the end of the weekend, have a good one.

Chat soon