Thursday, 17 August 2017


Yesterday morn I was greeted by sunshine reaching through the kitchen window, starlings squabbling over the feeders and above streaks of blue mixing with white clouds.
Today I find gray clouds cover the earth, the streets damp with rain and at eight in the morning contractors using power drills and small JCBs to dig up the neighbours paved front garden! 
How am I supposed to hear Radio 3 with that cacophony in the background?
I sit here in the drawing room filled with the emanations from the rubbish bin that has required emptying for a while as four (Polish?) workmen do their best to make as much noise as they can while attempting to ensure the job lasts long enough to claim overtime.  I notice the woman next door has not yet appeared, either she did not expect them and is hiding in the back of the house or she is back in bed with her head under a pillow trying to avoid the noise.  
It is a small front of a bungalow and this was concreted over a while back to allow cars to park, possibly she wishes to amend this either to improve the house and raise the selling price or turn this back into a garden.  Either way it ought to be done when I am elsewhere I say.

Lunchtime has passed, the work next door has not completed yet.  If you take a large tin, fill it with stones and rattle it back and forward for thirty minutes, stop for five then begin again over and over then you will begin to understand what I have endured cheerily this morning. 
In spite of this I have continued to work (HA!) and even exercised as I must in a vain attempt to put life back into this fat bloated hulk of mine.  I was encouraged in this by the nurse, an adorable ex-Stasi Commandant, who offered me a choice of one hours exercise a day or twenty four hours of death a day, tact not being an attitude taught back in Berlin.
I therefore exercised for a while, straining and stretching and aching all over.  All this while the rattling stones outside bounced in their tin.  The small JCB has piled some of the concrete into a pile to be dumped in someones back lane when no-one is about while as yet the woman of the house has not shown her face.  It did strike me that these men possibly have arrived at the wrong house while she is on holiday.  This will give her something to boast about later will it not if that is the case?
It will soon be over, sooner if I find a shotgun!

Funnily enough in spite of the cacophony to my right I found myself accidentally falling asleep after a very healthy lunch (there were no pizzas left), strange how that happened but there you are.  Then as the noise continued I found work hard to cope with and, again accidentally, came across some Euro Champs League football on BTS which I had to watch.  Endure might be a better word as games at this period of the competition are often poor and mean little, especially with teams who's name you cannot pronounce and have not the foggiest where they come from.  
This passed the time until this big green lorry appeared and I knew the noise was about to abate.  He had arrived to remove the rubbish thrown up by the workers and as he left, narrowly avoiding the woman attempting to overtake him, the sound died away.  Now I feel like I have gone deaf as there is no sound, not even from the passing traffic which usually fills the air with rubbish and loud music while they queue up in the rush hour.  The mess left behind is a wonder to behold, mud stains the pavements, loose stones and earth lie all around.  I look forward to tomorrows toil, though in the meantime I had  look to see if they had brought down any of our walls, not yet they haven't.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Tuesday Tittletattle

At a rough estimate I reckon two thousand children, all screaming, shouting, yelling, came through the museum today.  This does not include the mums, grans, grandads, dads, aunts, uncles and others who accompanied them, screaming, shouting, yelling and crying out for coffee or gin and tonic!  
Kids get away with much more when with the indulgent old people than when with mum and dad.  They therefore play this to perfection and it is rare to see a grandad, always a grandad, pay for something in the shop.  Sometimes I am amazed at the energy levels of the old folks although I realise that once the kid is back with mum they will be taking another week to get over it!  
The kids are loving this exhibition, the ones doing the workshops are also enjoying themselves and I have noticed that all too often it is the mums who enjoy this most.  Either they enjoy being among the exhibits or they are enjoying the craft workshops.  Others of course just enjoy a couple of hours without the kids bothering them!  One told me she had cleaned the entire house, the first time since the holidays had started!  
She refused to do mine... 

Before I limped out the door I went through the prodedure to discover which 'House' I was now in.  This did not take long and I appear to be in 'Gryffindor.'
Whatever that means!

Monday, 14 August 2017


I'm hooked!
I have been watching these 'cab rides' for days now and cannot get enough of them.
So far this weekend I have been from Kings Cross to Edinburgh via Newcastle, Cannon Street to Hayes (wherever that is?) and Baker Street to Amersham.  This afternoon I travelled in the comfort of my chair all the way from Waterloo to Southampton without once worrying about new people entering the train and annoying me.  How about that!
Now you may say this is all very anorakish and rather silly and I must say you will have a point. However I find train travel very relaxing and these videos, of which there are millions on YouTube, offer similar relaxation.  For one thing as I once travelled regularly on the Kings Cross line it is interesting to see things from the drivers viewpoint, sight seen from the side are different when seen from the front.  As the videos are recorded at different times the scene around you changes as time passes and much of the area I once knew has long since gone.  
The trip allow my mind to wander as it does when in a train (without distractions) and the passing scene offers items to cogitate upon as we travel, it is no different on these videos.  Many topics arise as we hurtle through stations all of which appear to be called 'gentlemen' and the mind muses on the sights seen around the track as we pass through a wide variety of landscapes.  I find myself asking where this or that line curving away leads us to, I ask what are the men in orange suits supposed to be fixing on our line and will the track fail as we pass?  How come trains leaving London and heading south across the river travel over such a complex and messy area while those leaving Kings Cross appear to be in a much tidier part of the line?  The journey from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town does reveal just how filthy London can be if you allow human beings to live there.   
Even trips on the Underground across London reveal sights that while known are different when noted as we leave the tunnel and emerge into the light.  Sights and smells return even if sitting comfortably at home and memories of the stress of London life also rise to greet you as you pass from one area to another, the smiling happy passengers (sorry 'customers') bringing joy into the life around.
Naturally I have done nothing else.
I suppose I can do those things tomorrow...

Friday, 11 August 2017

Frittering Away Friday

Having spent all Wednesday in futile wait for delivery, well at least it arrived so it wasn't actually futile, I spent all day Thursday catching up on things undone.
Friday has been a day where my brain closed down altogether.
Some say no change has been noted.
I tried out my new and exciting (they say) exercise regime and indeed this made a difference.
I woke up, my brain began to work anew, my breathing was considerably deeper and my body responded by aching in all the right places and soon afterwards I fell into a deep slumber.
On waking I found nothing of interest anywhere in the world and have slowly returned to the state of sloth that I found at 07:30 hours this morning.
It's been that sort of a day.

I could have read some of the books piled up in various places around the house but did not have sufficient vim to concentrate on them for long.  (By 'vim' I mean 'energy' not the old scouring powder we used to use.)  There was a thought that hoovering the floor might be a good idea, that was soon pushed aside.  Instead I watched a video of a train crossing the country in the snow at a pace that my brain could follow.  

 'Borrowed' from facebook.

How relaxing train journeys can be!  I can really enjoy a trip by rail, provided it is not overcrowded.  I have endured a commuter train on occasion and this was not a pleasant experience, outside that however such travel is comfortable and relaxing.  
Out side the window we see parts of the country we often miss when travel is by car, railways offer country views as well as the rear end of industrial sights which can on occasion offer something to contemplate also.  Comparing the 'Blue Circle' Cement works (If it is still called that) to the view if the Firth of Forth that lies on the other side of the track is worth comprehending.  While cement has its uses the view of the open sea refreshes in a way a concrete bridge never shall.
Quaint country rail stations can be glimpsed often decorated with flowers by the staff.  These are becoming rarer as cost cutting now offers a bare efficient platform and a glorified bus shelter all to often.  When I used Dunfermline station (Lower, not Upper) there was a complete set of buildings on both sides.  Today while the entrance remains extant the far side platform has a bus shelter for the commuters to Edinburgh and while a view can be seen now quite clearly the absence of proper station buildings is disappointing.  I believe Dunfermline Upper is now a  supermarket or a B&Q!
Maybe I ought to get on a train tomorrow, I better check the weather.


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Amazon UK Delivery Shambles!

I've spent the day looking through this window for the delivery from Amazon.  Using 'Amazon Logistics' whatever that is, they have my book out last night for delivery today (hooray!).  This means sending it to the local carrier at Basildon  (a hundred miles away) and then he leaves the depot just after ten in the morning to deliver.  This sounds acceptable even if the depot is clearly too far away.  The 'OPD' vans come from Chelmsford thirty minutes drive away!   Recalling my delivery experience I know he would arrive here around lunchtime so I await developments.
Now 'OPD' offer a guide on the laptop indicating what time the van will arrive and this I have found works near perfectly.  Amazon do not offer this.  The tracking on the laptop indicates he has left the depot and 'it's out for delivery.'  It gives no indication of time.
Clearly 'OPD' win hands down.
Royal Mail deliver between nine in the morning until lunchtime, though often it can be much later, and with the sorting office being in town it can be reached if I was out and had to collect. There is no chance of getting to Basildon!  

Late afternoon I go on to Twitter and bleat re non delivery from Amazon.  Short time later an answer from Amazon Help " Our couriers deliver until 21:00! Please keep us posted on the delivery! ^MT"
Deliver up till 21:00!!!!  
You expect me to wait until NINE at NIGHT for a delivery!!!???
I sent my deliver no to them and got the reply that Amazon Help do "not have access to account info on Twitter!"  Then what is the point of being on Twitter or being Amazon Help?
I made it clear that of it is not delivered by Six the door will remain closed and I will cancel the order.  I can get books from elsewhere and have them delivered on time.
Tonight I will be watching the Dundee Derby and do not expect to be taken out of my bed (where I will watch it in comfort) to answer the door to a drookit delivery man offering me a parcel in the dark.

A quick search for 'Amazon Logistics, Basildon' reveals a whole host of complaints about bad delivery, non delivery, lies re delivery and another failing company taking on more work than it can handle.  It has too few drivers, too many inexperienced men and far too big a delivery round for them to complete.  In short a shambles and it is all Amazons fault!  Incompetence at the top using a company on the cheap and not equipped or competent enough to do the job.  This ought to have been sent out on Monday (I ordered the book on Sunday) and it would have arrived today by post if Royal Mail was used.  This is a gift for another and that makes it worse.  If I realised both Amazon and Amazon Logistics (previously called APLE) were such cheapskates I would have gone into town and bought one from Waterstones!   If they insist on using this inept company I will never use them Amazon again! 

It's coming up to six O'clock and I am off to prepare for football!

I had just posted this and settled back to work out the grub situation when there was a knock on the door.  My knees and I struggled down while again the door was rapped yet when I got there he was off up the road again!  I called far from cheerily and he returned with my precious book. 
It was as he struggled in the rain to get his failing computerised device to register that I began to feel sorry for him.  A recent immigrant I thought, desperate for legitimate work, being used by the employer and now knowing the grumpiness of the public!  I found it difficult to abuse him however I will be reluctant to use Amazon Logistics ever again as the link on Amazon UK to complaints covers several years and clearly nothing is being done about this. 

Still now I feel relaxed, at 18:15 hours!

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Benefits of the Wireless

Now OK, I realise most folks call it a 'radio' today but I always find the word 'wireless' appearing in my head and so I might as well use it.  When young we did indeed have a 'wirelss,' a great big box with an aerial that looked like a bent birds cage which hung outside the window do obtain a good reception.  I wonder if this was obtained second hand or possibly through my aunt who worked in 'Jenners' Edinburgh's principal shop, the one where all the rich women spent much time drinking tea with their pinkie sticking out and discussing the merits of other women's lives.  My mother did not have the cash for that pleasure and merely gossipped with the neighbours.  
Anyway I recall, possibly before I began school, a large 'Radiogram' appearing in the corner.  This vast cupboard had a lid which when lifted exposed the large dial for the wireless on one side and a record layer (ten '45's at one go!) on the other.  This my elder brother and sisters much enjoyed though I also took happily to their choice of 'Rock & Roll.'  
On the large dial, over a foot in length and several inches wide, there was a list of foreign places from far away.  I cannot mind now but I suppose both Long, Short and Medium wave were available on their however if we listened to the radio we most probably only had three stations at that time, the BBC 'Home Service, the BBC 'Light' programme and Radio Luxembourg which in those days played music young people wished to listen to, the BBC remained rather stuffy until the pirate radio ships gave them a shove in the 60's.  I spent many a Sunday afternoon with my head up against the speaker listening to the 'Billy Cotton Band Show,' 'The Goons' with their 'pictures in the mind' and other comedy shows that abounded in the afternoons.  During the week the 'Tony Hancock Show' brought in an audience of 25 million!  This of course before TV was common and then did similar when transferred to the telly later on.  Those days have long gone and even the dreadful 'soaps' only get 13 million by adding the two showing of the programmes together.

The Internet has been a blessing regarding listening to the wireless as the BBC iplayer allows me to catch programmes I usually miss and indeed many of those programmes once hear while munching mums salad rolls on Summer Sunday afternoons.   Now we possess the updated (though the names do need updating once again) Radio's 1,2,3,4, plus 5Live, the rather juvenile station, plus the World Service once the best of them all now dumbed down and as PC as the rest of the BBC and Radio 4 Extra, a station that plays old programmes, mostly sad to say dramas, stories and pap.  However via the iplayer I can catch some wonderful programmes and today I have been working my way through the Radio 3 excellent 'Essay' series.  In particular I have been enjoying some of the 'Free Thinking' programmes, I listened to the 15 minute ones where one person spouted their opinion on a topic (many wide and varied) and dis so in an intelligent and thoughtful manner.  I did not always agree, some were spectacularly wrong, but I had to listen and wanted to hear more.  There are so many talk shows on Radio 4 that are decidedly middle calls and usually aimed at women with problems that when you hear grown up women talk on Radio 3 you wonder if it is not time for a change in the programming layout somewhere.  Maybe the Radio 3 audience is more open to reason?

I must confess that I have had a fill of thinking talk for a while and may well retire to the West Wing and place my dull ear to the speaker again and listen out for something that either takes me out from this box or makes me laugh, I don't as yet now which.  Either way it will be better for me that glueing my face to the box in the corner where 50 channels, when they work, offer me little of value.  Once again there I must reach for the TV iplayer and seek something worthy.  

Friday, 4 August 2017

Memory Loss

I wandered around the gardens this afternoon attempting to lose the stiffness caused by my intense exercise session this morning.  At least ten minutes is intense enough for me!  Having got there my memory failed me as I forgot the kids were out and about with mum making use of the gardens to fill in the time.  

With most of the flowers now fading away and a few new ones appearing it showed the garden staff were thinking about what was being planted and making a good effort to provide variety and colour all the time.  
As I wandered and took a picture here, a picture there, knowing when I got home I could either attempt to improve them or delete them as required I also considered appropriate words to go with them.  On realisation that the sun was beginning to hide itself once again I took a wander round the town, stopped off at Tesco and trudged my way home. 

It was while watching the first half of the Sunderland v Derby game that I realised that all the fine words I came up with earlier had been forgotten.  I had also forgotten to attempt to post them as stuffing my fat face took priority.  Now, with the score standing at 1-1, I am straining to finish this before the game restarts, and have failed.  Had I written this earlier it would have made some sense, or so I say anyway.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Nothing Happened Again Today.

Trapped indoors by the rain that has fallen continually since late this morning I can tell you truthfully nothing has happened.  Wullie the wood pigeon sits on the aerial also enduring the rain and does not look too happy about it.  Surely he is old enough to know this is 'summer' and this is how 'summer' is every year.  Nothing on the news today as politicians are either on holiday sunning themselves in foreign climes or on 'fact finding trips' at the public's expense.  I wonder if any 'fact' they find comes to fruition somewhere in the nation?  
Some consider Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, retiring from his duties worthy of comment.  To me the benefit scroungers of the royal family possibly all ought to retire or find themselves something useful to do all day.  At least this man, born on a kitchen table to a deaf and dumb mother somewhere in Greece, did at least keep up a good record of the 'public duties' he undertook.  He opened events, named railway engines and paraded around factories asking all the right questions and feigning interest as he ought.  The fact that he called Chinese folks 'slitty eyed' and questioned Scots workers drinking abilities at work is of course not relevant.  He often said what others wished to say and we must respect a man who endured many a 'Variety Command Performance' without once producing a shotgun and ending all of the tat that appeared on stage to the benefit of all of us.
Some women are heard grumbling about the changes to their pension and whine about the struggle they endure.  They appear in the paper, they are on TV and radio constantly grumbling that they are losing out.  I note none of them grumbled about men working until 65 while women retired at 60!  This went on from the early 50's until recently and not one objection was made then, possibly this was neither 'sexist' or did not upset 'equality' not that men ever get any of that.

Searching the cupboards I think I have found something that might help us cope with the kids and mums at the museum.  Either make use of it early and smile your way through the day or wait until home and then indulge for a while as the cares and bruises of the day slink away into the past.  However after six weeks of this I suspect some folks might become addicted so possibly this is not really a long term answer after all.  I might try it later and see if it works.

So the Heart of Midlothian reach another historic moment.  The departing Ian Cathro brought a breath of fresh air to the stilted Scots football world, received abuse from jealous failures and in the end failed to get his message across and obtain the results his style deserved.  Either he or the players failed, it is difficult to know which.  We now await the new man, whoever he is, and hopefully he will be attack minded and capable of leading from the front.  We await with trembling nerves.