Category Archives: Uncategorized

Starting with Teeth…

The good news is that I have no more dental work for a while. Having spent the last two weeks with a temporary cap I’m now pleased to record that I’ve just had my new crowns fitted.

I have kept the old ones, because one is gold. I’m thinking, as with the previous one that I kept, that they will be useful if the world banking system collapses. I’m also wondering about the idea of melting them down and using them to make a piece of jewellery for Julia.

Dental gold, I’m told, is about 60% pure, which makes it close to 15 carat gold. This was a standard used by the Victorians and I’ve always liked it. This probably seems strange, but there are some nice items made in 15 carat. It went out of use in 1932. Unfortunately, it’s quite close to 14 carat gold, a tawdry American standard that has been popularised in the UK by TV shopping channels. They have also popularised chocolate diamonds. Brown jewellery, whatever next?

And here is another place where American and English diverge as languages. We have the word carat, which describes the weight of a diamond and the fineness of gold. In America they have carat for the weight of diamonds and karat for the fineness of gold. It is both an example of American logic and the capacity of the English language for absorbing ambiguity.

You only need to think of a metal cleaning solution made in Eastern Europe. That would be Polish polish, and I’m sure most of you instinctively read it as that.

Further to the story of the skip – Julia finally tracked the company down and on being told that they couldn’t do anything, informed them in steely tones that she was sure they could.

They could, she said, either provide us with a skip or refund us for the one they had taken away early.

They are sending us a new skip tomorrow.

Then I left the AA. That for American readers, is like the AAA, but not based in America. My breakdown cover was due to cost me £312. I looked at it and decided I can’t afford it. So I looked at reducing cover, and got it to £171.

At that point I turned to the internet. I could, if I was joining the AA for the first time, get the reduced cover for £25 less. I’ve had this argument with them before and, after 38 years of continuous membership, it finally annoyed me so much I decided to do something about it.

I now have breakdown cover with Green Flag. It has cost me £58 and offers, on paper, the all the important elements of the AA cover.

Of course, I’ll only know if I’ve done the right thing when I’m stranded on a dark road in the middle of a rainy winter night. That’s what always worries me when changing insurance, have I done the right thing or have I sacrificed security for a few quid?

Featured image is a Razorbill. I was just wondering about sticking some lipstick on it and calling it a Puffin.



Apart from the fact that it was Father’s Day, yesterday followed the same format as most Sundays. Started with laundry, then off to the garage to fuel the car and watch a lady hoovering her car. After I watched her hoovering I was able to watch her inflating her tyres, including the spare. After that I was able to do my own tyres.

The design of the bay could do with some improvement, like having the air-line accessible while the hoover is in use.

After being beaten by my Dad and wife at Snakes and Ladders, my sister proceeded to win three of the five games of dominoes. Dad won just one and Julia took the other.

By a process of elimination I’m sure you can see who didn’t win anything. Not that it bothers me, I’m used to be being beaten by an elderly man with dementia, a sister who claims she’s trying to let Dad win, and my wife.  It’s our 30th wedding anniversary this year and I’m fully resigned to life under the thumb.

I did get messages from the kids for Father’s Day, though this was probably due to Julia reminding them, rather than any actual filial feelings.

Number One son has taken up bird watching again, and is enjoying the birding in New Zealand. Number Two son, despite hating the hotel job when doing it in the UK, has taken to hotel work in Canada and is enjoying life in Toronto. This isn’t setting the bar particularly high; he’d enjoy life anywhere that showed sport on TV in a bar.

And that, in brief, was Sunday.

After returning home we had the remains of the vegetable curry from Saturday, watched Gentleman Jack, which has a story line that moves so slowly that glaciers look sprightly by comparison, browsed eBay and fell asleep in the chair.

How different from the evenings of fine food and witty conversation I used to imagine for myself in middle-age…

Fortunately, I have WordPress for that.

Thoughts about Water

It’s been wet for several days and there has been standing water on the roads. It’s been drier today and things are getting back to normal. This is a relief as my joints have been a bit creaky and I’m wondering if this is caused by the damp.

In many ways it is more like November than June. I remember a summer like this before. I must have been about twelve at the time and the mental picture of me staring out of a window at rain for an entire summer holiday is still with me. It has haunted me for years. The sense of loss, and being cheated out of six weeks of holiday, must have been really strong for me still to remember it so clearly.

Apart from that there is little I can think of to write about. Rain is not a terribly interesting subject, though if, due to the magic of WordPress, you are reading this in the middle of a drought, I can only apologise for my insensitivity.

I tend to stay off politics and other contentious subjects, as I don’t want to offend people, but I’ve only just thought of water in this context. It’s obvious really, when you think that the next series of World Wars, if we escape annihilation over religion, is likely to be over water. I have read that the Nile is likely to be a source of problems, and that the Portuguese are concerned with the way the Spanish are using all the water on the Iberian Peninsula.

When you have massive salad crops, as the Spanish do, you need water. Personally, I’d solve that one by banning lettuce, but you know how I feel about salad.

This is what happens when you mess with nature. Spain should stick to growing olives and grapes and we should stick to eating salads only in summer. In summer they are a necessary evil; in winter they are self-indulgent and wrecking the planet.

At last! I have found moral high ground concerning salad!

Normally I try to limit myself to one exclamation mark a day, but I think this discovery merits two.

What I Saw on my Way to Work

This morning’s journey was like a scene from a sci-fi film. It’s the second time it’s happened, but last Monday we put it down to school holidays.

Image result for post apocalypse movies

We found ourselves in the middle of an eerie situation where there were hardly any cars about, and no buses. There weren’t even many cyclists or walkers about, so it isn’t as if everyone has changed from cars to other sorts of transport. It was just like one of those films where everyone has fallen victim to a virus and the streets are empty apart from a little litter (which is the post-apocalyptic version of tumbleweed in a black and white western).

(That’s actually a picture from the web, not an accurate representation of Nottingham this morning. Just in case you were wondering.)

It built up a little as we drove through town but even so it was companionable rather than crowded.

I had the time to observe several strange sights, such as a cyclist dressed in purple and pink. Those seem to be the colours of Nottingham Trent University sports teams these days, but you don’t see many adults wearing it. He’s either an ex-student, a man of low sartorial standards, or an early riser who dressed in the dark.

Despite his dress sense he’s clearly a decent cyclist as we passed him within the first 500 yards of the journey and, ten minutes later, he passed us as we sat at traffic lights in the centre of town.

If I was going to breed a race of supercyclists I’d certainly be happy to include him in the programme, though he’d have to be paired up with a woman of highly developed fashion sense in order to breed out his unfortunate tendency to garishness.

We also saw one of the strangest sights I’ve ever seen.

As we approached the Goose Fair roundabout (a term which may mystify those of you who don’t know about the Goose Fair, or about British traffic systems – I was told, years ago, that they don’t have roundabouts in Canada, though this may not be true) I saw a youngish, though bulky woman, on the pavement. She had thighs that were probably twice the size of mine (and mine are ample) and just as white, though I relieve the whiteness of mine with a filigree effect of varicose veins.

I also keep mine decently covered with trousers.

The woman on the footpath didn’t conceal much at all. She may well have been on her way back from a night working as a burlesque dancer, or she may have been on her way to a superhero convention, but her outfit was definitely on the skimpy side.

I don’t remember much about the costume, because I mostly remember the beaming smile.

She may have been deliriously happy, demented or drugged to the eyeballs, but, whatever the cause, she was definitely smiling.

She cheered my day up. By the end of the day she will, I suspect have done more for the cause of normal women than all the female athletes and supermodels combined. She’s certainly advanced the case for plus-sized women more than any dry, thin academic talking on TV.

And so, I will now start work with a smile on my face and a song in my heart…

No photos for this, apart from the one from the web, but I’ll try harder for the rest of the week.

The Scone Chronicles XX

I’ve decided to stick with Roman Numbers for the time being – it seems rather lightweight to use the word Chronicles then use ordinary numbers. With snowflakes, Millennials and all the rest of that stuff, we don’t need more lightweights. We need austerity, Spartan living conditions and more of those rough grey blankets we used to use as bedding when I was a lad.

Duvets, I suspect, have a lot to answer for in the softening of the species.

We couldn’t add to the chronicles at Bempton, because there wasn’t room. It was quite crowded and, despite the rain, even the outside tables were all taken. There was room at some, but people seemed to be indicating a preference for solitude by the way they were spreading their kit about.

The only table with nobody on it was one that was ringed with tripods and telescopes, indicating that someone would be back to use it. Or that tripods are becoming sentient and demanding food.

I’ve probably been reading too much Terry Pratchett…

You’d have thought they might have made provision for a seasonal rush.

We had, as you can see from the photograph, prawn sandwiches from Tesco, whilst sitting in the car on the seafront at Scarborough. That tiny stump in the distance is Scarborough Castle. It’s more impressive in real life, and it has a colony of Kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs below.

One the way home we had chips at Filey. They are excellent chips and the fish is probably the freshest I’ve had from a chip shop.

You do, however, pay a premium for this. At £6.50 a portion it’s nearly as expensive as sitting down in some places. That is the dilemma – eat excellent fish and chips in the car whilst watching the sea, or, for almost the same price, have peas and tea, and sit at a plastic table that exudes an aura of stickiness whilst moaning about the poor quality fish.

Decisions, decisions…


You couldn’t make this up…

I arrived home last night, parked and did what I believe is known as a double take.

The skip, that has been in the drive for the last few weeks, and which was far from full as we unclutter at the pace of a sleepy snail, had gone.

“What’s happened to the skip?” I asked Julia, who had arrived home slightly before me.

“Nothing, as far as I know.” she said. “Have people been putting things in?”

“Look for yourself.”

She ambled to the door muttering.


It was the heartrending yell of a woman who had been planning to fill a skip on Bank Holiday Monday. Skipless and bereft, she stood on the doorstep wailing and rending and doing whatever thwarted declutterers do…

She had, in case you haven’t guessed, been in a world of her own when she returned home, and had completely missed the fact that a large steel rubbish receptacle had disappeared from the drive.

And that is not the strangest thing.

The skip company, when we finally got hold of them, deny all knowledge of the skip being taken away, which means that we have clearly been the subject of a skip robbery.

It’s an unusual crime, as it’s hardly the same as slipping an unconsidered trifle into your pocket. You need a lorry with the correct lifting gear for one thing. So it’s either been stolen by a rival company, or we’ve hired it off a company staffed by incompetent idiots who have collected it at random. . Julia has been looking at the feedback on their site. Some of the feedback is slightly more forthright than my comments.

It is looking likely that we have hired a skip off a company of incompetent idiots.

Truth Being Stranger Than Fiction

I was manoeuvering through a set of multiple lights with crossings and shrubberies this morning and contemplating the question I always contemplate at the same point each week. This question is “If I get a quick start, put my foot down and risk going through on amber, could I get through without having to stop at the second set of lights?”

The answer is, of course, “no”.

It’s the same answer every time.

However, I wasn’t the only one asking the same question this morning. A cyclist, his mind clearly on the same conundrum, though from a different direction, decided to test the question for himself.

He burst from behind some shrubbery and zoomed across the road in front of me while the lights were still in my favour.

Fortunately, resigned to the inevitable, I was already slowing in preparation to stop. If I’d been intent on bursting through on amber there could well have been an unfortunate meeting of machinery.

It would have been less unfortunate for me than for the cyclist.

At least he was wearing a helmet. He could be squashed flat, rendered comatose or confined to a wheelchair, but his head would be protected and his parting would still be neat as they performed the post mortem.

I’m thinking of writing to the Prime Minister with some suggestions for better road safety for cyclists, though I’m not expecting she will do anything about it.

Number one on the list is sumo suits. Alternatively, and needing slightly more development, is the lycra cycling suit with air bags. Under sudden impact the air bags would inflate and prevent serious injury.  The main problem would be carrying a cylinder of compressed air. I have some thoughts on where to put it, but the cyclists would probably not be keen on my suggestion. Anyway, not all bicycles have crossbars.

Scratch that – they’ve already been developed for motorcyclists and pedestrian airbags also exist (attached to cars to prevent injury, not actually fitted to pedestrians). I was looking up a history of airbags when I found them.

Truth truly is stranger than fiction.