This week in bigger pixs
Monday 21st April 2104 week 147 England
Its true, I complain. I never use to. I was once a very easy going chap and accepted what life threw at me, but that’s no longer the case. I put it down to age. The older I get the more the world disappoints me. Surely since humanity has been knocking around for some time now it knows how to iron out the wrinkles on the bed sheet of life?, but no, there’s still plenty to gripe about. Its this realisation that turns optimistic, carefree, happy go lucky chaps like me into grumpy old blokes. This is why I complain.
Now, as I've become more skilled at complaining I've learnt it pays never to rush a complaint. If I do, I'm in danger of walking away and then coming up with a brilliant put-down or witty rebuke. Its one of life’s truisms that the wittiest, or most cutting remarks, always come to you later, once you've chilled out. Its far better to let your frustration settle first. So my advice would be, before you complain, sleep on it. Tomorrow it won't seem as bad and at least you'll have your wits about you when you go back.
Many years ago I emailed the Jeremy Vine show on radio two. I felt compelled to because I can't stand the guy, nor his daft BBC2 programme. His style of reporting, rather than being balanced and impartial, is simply confrontational and sensationalist. That, regrettably, is the way of the media today. People don't want sane rational argument they want to be entertained by buffoons. Consequently the phone-in audience reflects this, most were imbeciles who were encouraged to spout any old reactionary rubbish. You've heard the type. In answer to the question: Should parents be allowed to hit their children? some public school numpty comes on and says: “Well I was thrashed in school and it never did me any harm!” What he omits to tell you is that he now pays a lady in Soho to continue his education.
The programme frequently made my blood boil, until one day, incensed by the banality of it, I emailed the shows producers. Now on a good day, and if you give me long enough I can be a witty piss taker -you may have noticed- which makes for a powerful tool of complaint. In the case of Mr Vine he actually rung me at home, just a pity I was out at the time. He left a very pleasant message on the answering machine which, for weeks after, I played to anyone who visited me. Fair to say I was a bit chuffed and quite liked the fellow after that, but I'm fickle, you know that.
Two years ago, you may remember, she had long blonde hair, living with me in a confined space for that period, and her hairs the colour of her handle bars!
Yesterday, after another rapier like email of complaint, I got a call from Air Angles. -ludicrous name- This is the company that provides the internet service on this camp-site. I'd had lampooned their efforts at length and pointed out, granted perhaps a tad theatrically, that if the eastern Europeans, who've just thrown off the yoke of communist oppression, could provide a first rate wifi service then why couldn't they? -I like to end my complaints on a poser- oh yes, and could I have my money back?
The guy on the other end was both defensive and rude. “We don't give refunds, full stop. And the system is running fine, and oh, did I realise I'd got spelling mistakes in my email of complaint”. That remark was unprofessional and childish and, unbeknown to him, will be mentioned in my review of this site later.
I was now geared up to ring Huewui -another ludicrous name- primed to have a battle of words over my dead phone. I explained that my phone, which I had purchased not 18 month earlier had, hence forth, ceased to function. "Worked fine when I went to bed, but was as dead as a cold halibut the next morning" said. However the chap was jolly nice. Told me to send it back and they’d repair it, free.
Now this last complaint is a bit more complex. You'll remember, I trust, Hazel's parting words to me as she flew off to the USA last week? “Don't get up to any shenanigans”. Right? Good. Problem is, define shenanigans?. Does murder fall outside, or inside, the term?
I'll go into it tomorrow.
Tuesday 15th April 2014 Week 147 England
Murder, and not on the dance floor.
I wouldn't murder anyone. Its not in my nature. I'm also British and we don’t generally knock each other off, we leave that to the Americans. Besides, getting caught, can certainly scupper any future holiday plans you might wanna make. And of course its against the law. Very important that one. But what if I did it accidentally, unintentionally. What if they shuffled off to meet their maker because they were up to no good? What if, they were villains? What then? It's perhaps then not so cut and dried. It all gets slightly morally ambiguous.
Now before you go off thinking: Oh! for fucks sake... what’s he on about now? What's this got to do with camping? I'll tell you, a lot.
We have been on the road for 147 weeks and visited twenty two countries. Drove north and got within sixty miles of the Arctic circle and as far South as the 36th parallel. In all that time I can honestly say I've not once felt nervous, concerned or afraid, neither for ourselves or our belongings. In fact I've become remarkably lax about security often not bothering to lock up when we go out.
This is our third time at the Ferry meadows camp-site on the edge or Peterborough. We come here because its convenient, otherwise, frankly, they could shove the site where the sun don't shine.
On the two previous occasions we stayed, bicycles were stolen. Seven were stolen in one night. This is thieving on an industrial scale. The Caravanning club and the police seem powerless to do very much about this. Bike theft comes very low in the scheme of things with the police. Camp site security consists of a sign on the entrance gate. -see photo- This relaxed approach to members security wouldn't be quite so laughable if, as I explained the other day, you didn't need a six digit code to get into the fucking site toilets, sorry!. It annoys me. Clearly, the toilets are maximum security, last thing they want is people steeling the bog paper. The rest of the site is open to all. Thieves have no difficulty in scaling the rickety four foot fence that rings the site, then, using bolt cutters, to relive owners of their bikes, shove them in to a van and take off. I feel particularly sorry, and embarrassed, for foreign visitors. The very first year we had our head lamps stolen from our bikes! but they didn't take the bikes. I think it was then when I realised we really needed to upgrade our bikes. When thieves don't think they're worth stealing its time we invested in a new set of wheels.
Take out the TAC and you've got inept security..
Now I when we booked in last week I asked: “Were they still being plagued by bike thieves?”. The women said, and I quote: “No....., its too early really”. I'm assuming she means by that its not bike thieving season. I didn't know there was one, did you?. Well clearly the season is upon us as one was stolen last night. A member of staff came over and told me yesterday. I told him I lock our bikes inside the awning, adding “they wouldn’t open the zip its too noisy.”
“True” he replied, “they simply cut the side out your awning using a Stanley knife”. Oh for the love of... So they not only nick your bikes, but do hundreds of pounds worth of damage in the process. Mulling it over during the day I started getting a little paranoid. How could I possibly protect the bikes? And it came to me... yes, over a cup of tea.
I've placed them at the rear of the awning, by the side flap which is held in position by a single peg. Remove the peg and there they are. But here’s the rub. I've connected them to the national grid, see photo. Now anyone grabbing them will have a shock, a 240 volt shock. And frankly it will serve them right. I explained this to someone who then pointed out, quite seriously, that it could be extremely dangerous, and possibly even fatal.
So obviously, I'm very very careful not to touch them when I have them plugged-in.
Wednesday 16th April 2014 Week 147 England
It pays to stay in bed.
Do you get those days when the world gangs up on you? Good, not just me then. I should point out that today’s entry is really for women only, blokes won't understand it. It won't interest you guys. I suggest you go off and do something manly, knock a wall down or put up a shelf. Cheers.
I think if they stick around, by the end, they’ll all club together and put a fatwa on my ass for letting my gender down.
First, I need set the scene. The site is quite busy at the moment. Its Easter half term and full, in the main, with grandparents tying to keep their grandchildren under control. Apparently, judging from all the shouting that takes place, this is nowhere as simply a task as it first appears. These kids have boundless energy. The grandparents last about a hour and then need a nap.
Now the second thing I need you to know is.... well let me ask you this. Do you have something you wear at home, just at home, something to flop around in? Something you wouldn't want your neighbours to see you in? If they did, you'd have to move. Perhaps some item so hideously out of fashion but yet extremely comfy you can't bring yourself to chuck out?. I'm sure you have. Good. You’ll understand than.
This morning I thought, what with Hazel back tomorrow, I'll empty the wash basket. I don't mind washing. There’s something satisfying about watching the water change colour, its sign you've done a worthwhile job. It started a cold morning but promised to be sunny and warm with a slight breeze, ideal for drying. So I marched over the laundry and waded into a bag load.
Now a few weeks ago I mentioned to Hazel just how cold the van floor is first thing in the mornings. She suggested I wore her socks. They are not socks as such, they have a name. They have little bits of rubber on the sole. They're thick, warm and very comfy. The only downside is they're a bit pink. Some guys can do pink, not me. They do however keep your feet toasty warm on a cold morning, so I'm in the habit of slipping them on without thinking. And before you say anything, I don't care! I appreciate George Clooney probably doesn’t wear them but he probably has underfloor heating. Besides, whose going to see right?
Standing there this morning, washing, I realised I still had the buggers on. I'd walked, not a care in the world, to the laundry room in them. What anyone thought seeing me stroll along, I shudder to think. I took them off, obviously, and hid them.
This wonderful french house or me in a pair of pink socks, no contest.
Now in amongst the items I'd taken over was a pair of Hazels smalls. She washes mine so I washed hers, why not. It was while hanging the clothes on the airer I considered the full implications of pegging out a pair of red knickers amongst all my manly stuff. It raised a number of questions. As many questions as possibly eyebrows. But I thought 'what the hell', they shouldn't be so nosey.
Problem is: none of my neighbours have seen Hazel. They arrived after she left last week. What they make of me, a 'single' guy, strolling around the camp site in a pair of quite ridiculous socks and now with lacy knickers hanging on the line is well, quite frankly, anyone’s guess.
It wouldn't surprise me if they've warned their grandchildren to give 'the funny bloke over there' a wide birth.
Such is life.
Thursday 17h April 2014 week 147 England.
Give em a break!
I see smokers are once again in the line of fire. Its a topic I tend to gravitate towards because I do feel a small indefinite quantity of human compassion for smokers. Unlike many reformed smokers I can still remember being a nicotine addict myself.
This government, however, has done a cracking job of demonising them. So much so smokers now huddle in corners and darkened shadows, like conspirators in a bomb plot, getting their fix. They have also become apologist for their habit. The rest of us can now fill out lungs with clean air. Yeah right!. That’s if you ignore the pollution from industry, the tons we dump daily onto our streets from our cars and also the pollution caused each time we switch on the central heating. Still, look on the bright side, we don’t have to breath in all that nasty fag smoke. Its just a pity society can't gang up, in the same way, and target some of the real polluters. Still, smokers were easier target. Try going after the airline industry, see how easy that would be. Just one flight dumps tens of thousands of cubic meters of pollutants into the atmosphere. A cocktail of pollutants is now shrouding our planet form a verity of sources and will change the way generation will live eventually. Still, at leasts we don’t have to breath in nasty fag smoke.
Photo we took in France, so cool I thought I'd post it again.
I also find an element of hypocrisy in a government that's turned the smoker into the black sheep of the family while relying on, and counting out, the billions of tax revenue these addicted people pour into the treasury coffers each year. If smokers quit tomorrow we would all pay the price, the short fall would have to be made u by us. Worth considering that next time we pass a bunch of freezing smokers cowering from the elements outside pub.
And before anyone suggest the cost to the NHS. I'd like to point out that according to the NHS, smoking related illness account for around one in twenty hospital admissions. Yet the tax revenues paid by smokers far exceeds any cost incurred by their hospitalisation. To say they drain NHS resources is erroneous propaganda. And, like us, they also pay national insurance, so they pay twice!
Anyway, what’s caused me mention it today is that the humble electronic fag is now in the cross hairs. The anti smoking lobby don't like them. For a start they look like fags!. Smokers are enjoying them!. They create little whiffs of fake smoke!. Its all to much! Christ! its a a fag!! they say.
Personally I'd encourage anything that might prove helpful to people who want to cut down, give up, or simply reduce their tax burden. I was very interested to hear a heath expert say: 'electronic cigarettes are to real cigarettes, as water it to scotch'. Sounds encouraging. I hope you'll agree.
The thing is, the anti smoking brigade are gathering momentum and some are calling for a ban. The country of Whales is working toward a ban. They say, in defence of a ban, 'its sending the wrong message to children'. Interesting way of looking at something that. Monitoring what children might think about an issue and then making laws up accordingly. I think kids would have a lot to say about.......oh Maybe? Our biggest export being weapons. Accidentally dropping bombs on innocent people in Afghanistan. Politicians fiddle their expenses, and then being allowed to hand it back rather than face prosecuted or expulsion. Justice in the UK being far tougher on the poor than it is on the wealthy and powerful. I could go on. I just wonder what message does any of that send to our kids? I think the Welsh assembly ought to get a grip and focus on real issues.
'In a perfect world no one would smoke', some righteous non smoking twat once said to me. 'In a perfect world people would be tolerant of others weaknesses, we'd all focus on our own business and less on others and, oh yes, you'd get a life'. I replied.
Friday 18th April 2014 week 147 England
What’s on my mind?.
A real short piece today after yesterdays erm.... rant. We are driving to Scotland to stay with friends. So today I'm just going to say this, its a thing...... it's not a joke.
An alcoholic walking home falls into a pit. He tries to climb out but can't. A Priest passes. He calls to the priest. “Hello father, can you help me?, I can't get out” The priest looks down and says “You should pray for heavenly guidance my son” and walks off. A few minutes later a politician walks past. The guy calls to the politician, “Hey, excuse me, can you help me?, I'm stuck”. The politician looks down and says “Vote for me, and once I am in power then I can” and he too walks off. Suddenly his friend walks past. He calls to him “Hey Joe! can you help me? I'm stuck down this hole”. Joe sees him and jumps down into the hole with him. “Why did you jump in the hole Joe?” the man asks. Joe answers “ I've been here before, I know the way out!”.
The thing is: You may never have walked in someone else’s shoes, nor find yourself in the low place some find themselves in but maybe, just maybe, by talking to them you can help them find a way out.
Being a good human....... isn't hard.
You all have a good weekend.