Beyond belief …


Sometimes, things happen that are quite honestly “Beyond Belief.” Our youngest son sometimes proves that. R… is 28 and Autistic. We are gradually phasing him in to full time residential. At present he goes on Monday morning and returns 11 days later for a weekend visit. He gives us the impression that he really enjoys  his life there.

ppeHe has a regular care-team, his own flat and his own motorbility car. During the ‘lock-down’ he went on the 23rd March and did not return until 10th July. Then again he went on the 19th October and was not allowed home, under the rules until 11th December.

All this, he seemed to take in his stride. In fact, we were more stressed and traumatised than he seemed to be. His care team kept us well informed  and rang everyday to let us know what he had been up to and with a weekly FaceTime we just about got through it.

White-one.jpgNow the interesting thing is that his daily life there is different to here. He does things there that we could never even dream he would do. When he is here, his daily routine is to sit in his room, with his laptop and TV. He will come downstairs for his lunch, then goes back to his room and that is it. Occasionally he will come back downstairs and use my laptop for a while.

Whilst in his flat, and this is the thing that amazes us, he takes on household jobs. We have photos of him mopping his kitchen floor, cooking his dinner (usually beans or sausage rolls) loading the washing machine and various other tasks around the place.

He was able to come here for Christmas, although there were times when it looked impossible, but his care-manager and all the teams put enough precautions in place for it to happen, so on Christmas Eve he came home. He would have had to come here anyway as he has a hospital appointment on Tuesday at which his legal guardian (horrible phrase) has to be present.

Now, on Christmas morning, we witnessed first hand something Lichfield Cathedralthat completely amazed us both. In fact, I still cannot get my head around it. My wife and me were downstairs getting things ready, as you do when I that he hadn’t had his morning drink of milk. I took his cup upstairs.

There was some typical Christmas church music playing and I assumed that my wife had not turned the radio off. How wrong I was. Normally, he would have one of the children’s channels on his TV , and he would also have a children’s YouTube video playing on his laptop.

CanterburyNot today. The TV was turned down and he had on his laptop a video of a Christmas church service. This played for an hour and a half before he started another similar video. I later found out that the first one was the Christmas Eve service from Lichfield Cathedral from 2000 and the second one was the previous nights service from Canterbury Cathedral.

By lunchtime he was back to watching old episodes of The Telly Tubbies as if nothing had happened. He did used to go to the local church to see the Christmas service when he was a school, but how he made the decision to watch that kind of video at that particular times, amazed us both

It’s getting closer …


The big ‘Non-event of 2020‘ is getting ever closer and with comes the things you have forgotten, either on purpose or genuinely forgotten.

Christmas cards! Love them or hate, they are always there. Every year I make up my mind not to bother with cards except for family. But every year, the same thing happens. Someone gives you a card with that expectant look in their eye that says “Where’s mine?”

I’m still on furlough as we are still in tier 3, which means that the café can only open for take-aways. So a message came through last evening to that effect, that I wasn’t needed back yet. But also the boss mentioned that if I was in town sometime, I should pop by as there are many Christmas cards for me.

I groaned, as we no cards left and my plan to finally forget giving cards had been thwarted. Mrs Me said I should pop into the charity shop and get some cards from there, as they would not be any more expensive and would support a good cause.

I got back to the car with my chosen selection of festiveness and looked for something firm to rest on whilst I added our names to each card. I knew that I had a crossword book in the pocket behind the passenger seat and as I pulled the book out, a pack of charity Christmas cards came with it. I must have bought those last year and forgotten them.

After a few choice and not so Christmassy words, I wrote my seasonal message in each card. I only needed six, possibly seven cards at the most. All done taking great care not to lick the gummed part of the envelope, I made my way to my place of work wondering if my seven cards would be enough. I should not have worried. There were only two!

Bl**dy postal system …


I fully believe that the British postal system (as run by The Post Office) has hit rock bottom. It’s been getting worse over the past twenty or twenty-five years. How many can remember the days when we received two postal deliveries? There was one early morning, and another around lunchtime. At Christmas time, there was even a delivery on the Sunday before Christmas Day. The delivery was always around the same time. You could almost set your clock by them. Collections from pillar-boxes happened at least twice a day, with an extra collection from your local post office.

It’s all gone now though. We are lucky if we see the postman/woman. It is no wonder that more and more people and organisations are using one of the big courier services when it can be a lot cheaper, and safer. Which brings me to the point of this post.

I ordered some light bulbs from eBay. I didn’t go for the cheapest or the most expensive but settled on one that appeared to have a least a few good reviews. I duly paid and the expected delivery date was the 2nd of November. I got home on the 29th of October and found a parcel on the doorstep. The label told me who it was from and so I knew it was my lightbulbs. However, I could immediately tell that something was wrong. The parcel was squashed at one corner which led me to believe that the ‘post person’ had attempted to post the item through the letterbox. In marked contrast, the delivery by a local courier was hidden behind a planter, with an email showing a photo of the exact spot.

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As I expected, we go into an almost full lock-down on Thursday. I think it was inevitable given what the experts were saying, and have been saying for the past month. Hopefully, this will bring the dreaded “R” rating down, which may mean that the youngest could be home for Christmas. However, I’m not holding my breath. When you listen to Ministers like Micheal Gove, who last week was saying that there was no chance of a ‘lock-down’ and is now saying that may go on beyond the 2nd of December, you have to wonder whose strings are being pulled by whom!

I have already decided that my hair is not going to be a priority over the next few weeks. I did have it cut back in July and have been meaning to go again, but the last time I tried, the barbers were busy (1 customer and 2 waiting) and the time before, it was shut. So I’m not going to bother.

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I purchased one of these yesterday. In fact, I got two for £15.00 which was a saving of over £8.00. Always up for a bargain! I have been meaning to change two of the sockets in the conservatory since we had the new roof and windows. I should have got the electrician to do it then, but never got around to asking. Now I have no excuse. I just have to get into the mood sometime this week.

Taking Christmas down …


As I understand it, the Christian calendar has today (5th January) as being “Twelfth Night”. It is the time when the three Wise Men/Kings visited the new born 3 Wise Menchild. Some cultures have Twelfth Night as the 6th as they count Boxing Day as the 1st day of Christmas. Traditionally, in the West it is the day when Christmas gets put back into the loft, for at least the next 340 days.

So today is the start of the time when you suddenly realise what it has actually cost. This is Credit Cardwhen those credit card bills start to hit the floor and you begin to wonder how on earth you are going to pay for it all. But most people do manage to pay for it, even if it does take until next November.

The worst part of “Taking Christmas Down” and I think a lot will agree is Missedthat there is always that one lone decoration that gets missed. Stuck in an obscure place that you never even think to look at, it sits there all alone. Until that is, when you get a visitor that spots it and you have to either tell them that you’re keeping that one up or laugh embarrassingly at your own incompetence. Hate it!

Of course then there is the tree to deal with. If it’s a real cut tree, you have to find some Xmas Tree way of getting rid of it. Back in the day when I was young, all you did was leave next to your dustbin and the ‘bin-men’ would take it away. Now of course, that rarely happens and it means either a trip to the tip or paying someone. If it is one of those artificial trees, you have the difficulty of getting it back in the bag/box that it came out of. Not an easy task. Last year we bought a small living tree in a pot, and it stood on the deck outside for nearly twelve months. It is in a smallish pot, to try and stunt its growth a little, but it managed to put on about 23/26 cms in height. It just went in the place we wanted, but I doubt it will go there next year.

It’s that time again …


Tonight is the ‘works’ Christmas Party night. They’re going for a Christmas meal and dance at a local venue, all paid for by tChampagne-Glass-Remix-4-by-Merlin2525he boss. I’m not going for the full evening as social events are not my thing. I am not the biggest fan of Christmas either, so having a party with people I only see for a couple of hours a week, to celebrate Christmas, is possibly not going to be the fantastic fun time everyone tells me it will be. I will of course do my best to give the impression that I am enjoying myself and laugh at all the old jokes, but deep inside, I’ll be clockwatching.

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I don’t get the whole idea of ‘compulsory enjoyment’. By that I mean, people seem scroogeto tell me to “just enjoy yourself” and “it will be fun” or “it’ll be good”. It’s as if they know what I like better than I do. But I’m sorry to say, they don’t! And if I say that I’m not going to enjoy myself or have fun, then out comes one of the most over used phrases “Bah, humbug!” Someone even call me a “Grinch” but as I’ve never seen the film I had no response.

So I’m out for an hour between 7pm and 8pm, on a day that the first snows of winter are set to arrive (or so the BBC Weather-planks tell us). Wish me luck.

It seems so much longer …


Strange post title some may think, but today it is three months since I retired from working life. Not a long time, but like the title says “Seems so much longer …” Of course, my initial plan has gone out of the window. My intention was to have a part-time job before Christmas. Nothing too much. Somewhere around 16 hours, just to give me a bit of pocket/petrol money. At the moment, it is not needed and to be honest, there does not seem to have been anything in the offering that I feel I would have enjoyed. However, now that Christmas is over, maybe the type of work I would want to do will start to resurface.

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With work in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I contacted my old boss. My security access card was still sitting in the glove compartment of my car. It was my intention to call in at my old office, just before Christmas (possibly on the day when they had their Christmas fuddle!) and hand my card in then. It never happened. Or more to the point, I never made it happen. I bottled out, I’m afraid to say. There are many reasons for this, but at the moment I want to keep them private.

So, I contacted my old boss to explain and to ask for her address to send the card back. I did the usual and ask how things were going on etc etc. It took a couple of weeks, but she replied today. The email was brief, but had a lot of information, and I felt enough confidence to email a couple of other colleagues to ask how they were.

It is unfortunate that I only have their work email as I feel it takes some of the personal aspect out of it. Still, I hope that they get back to me, as at the moment, I still want/need to keep in contact.

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Yet again, on the subject of blogging I was asked “What is you blog about?” And, yet again I get the same puzzled look when I reply that it is just about ‘What I want to write about, when I want to write it!’ I don’t have a theme, it’s just general ‘rants & raves’ with a slight emphasis on the ranting aspect.

It has given me food for thought though. Maybe, just maybe I could add a paragraph or two about my hobbies! As I say, food for thought.

‘Twas the night before etc etc…


Motifs download - December 10_colourWell, we have got as far as we can. Veg is prepared, table is set and the presents are scattered under the TV. ‘Under the TV’ I hear you question? We have a small fibre-optic tree, which is not really big enough to put the presents under. In the past we have done the real tree, in fact one year we even had a tree that we planted in the garden. But it died! So for the past 10 years or so, we have had the ‘small fibre-optic’ tree. I think though, it is time we sent this one to the great re-cycle plant. I have had to replace the bulb and the whole thing leans to one side. So I think it has passed it’s ‘Display Until’ date by a couple of years.

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I’m not, and I think I may have mentioned this (probably every year) a huge fan of Christmas. I hate what it has become. When I was a child, Christmas was an  amazing time of the year. It was about Christmas Carols, families, pantomime. We never, ever were asked ‘What do you want for Christmas?” XMAS PUDWe got what we were given and were happy about that. We had, what had become a traditional Christmas dinner. Turkey, roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts (ugh) sage and onion stuffing and what seemed like, gallons of gravy. If you could manage it, Christmas pudding followed and in our house we always had custard, not brandy sauce, we were just kids after all. Afterwards, we would watch the Queen, then settle down to watch a variety show.

Now what do we get? It’s called ‘Christmas Lunch’ and although the Turkey is still there, we now see things like Kaletts on the menu. The stuffing has changed to ‘Chestnut and Chive’. Christmas pudding now comes in many flavours, even as an ice-cream. In some places, it is not even served and we get some kind of overpriced chocolate mousse that bears no resemblance to Christmas, apart from the picture of a red candle on the packaging.

I don’t want to get started on television, but … why do we need to see programs that are on everyday? I mean the ‘soaps’ of course? Do we really need to see ‘bumper’ editions of EastEnders/Coronation Street/Emmerdale? Really! Is it also necessary to have ‘Christmas Specials’ of reality shows? I mean come on, Strictly Come Dancing has only just finished and we are treated to the Christmas Special.

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Music. Now there is another cause for a rant. We were at my sister-in-laws for a family get together on Thursday. When we arrived, the TV was on and tuned to one of the many music channels. It was playing the ‘MTV Top 40 Christmas songs”. This in itself is not such a bad thing. It had reached number 5, and they were of course songs from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, which everybody knows and supposedly loves. This of course finished after they had played the number 1, Band-Aid’s “Do they know It’s Christmas?” A very popular and catchy song at the time and still is relevant today. We were then treated to a few adverts before the next program … ‘MTV Top 20 All Time Christmas Hits.’ I will allow you only one guess what was at number 1.

Tonight, we watched the Christmas Carol service from Kings College, Oxford … do I need to say anymore?

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So now, all I have to say is a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all who read this.

Christmas memory …


Let me get one thing clear from the very start … I don’t like Christmas much!  I’m not going to get into the ‘why’s and wherefores’ in this post, but I thought I would share a childhood memory of Christmas.

This morning, I was scanning through my weekly round up of posts when I read this post by teleportingweena which prompted me to put something down.

Now, I’m going back to the early to late 1960’s. As I remember, Leeds had three main department stores in the city centre. These were Woolworths, Lewis’s and Schofield’s. Woolworths was the everyday store for everyone. If you moved up a class (for want of a better word) you went to Lewis’s. On the other hand Scofield’s was for richer or more pretentious person. But at Christmas, Lewis’s was the place to go.

The whole Christmas experience started around the third week in November. Bonfire night was in the past and people were beginning to think about Christmas. The third Thursday in November was the day! It was the day Father Christmas came to town. At just after 7pm on that night, everyone in the neighbourhood assembled on one of the main roads into the centre of Leeds, awaiting the arrival. By 7:30 it was all over. Father Christmas (never seemed to remember him being called Santa) had arrived in Leeds. The assembled crowd had seen a fleeting glance of the big man as his sleigh, mounted on the back of a truck motored past. Everyone cheered and waved. Christmas was nearly here.

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NB: Regular readers may notice a slight departure from the usual ‘grumpy’ tone of my posts. This may not last!

One month down … rest of my life to go …


As the title says, it’s been just a month since I took the plunge and retired. So how’s it gone so far?

Well, my idea, that I would get a part-time job within the first couple of weeks has been a non-starter. I’ve not seen anything that I could honestly is a job I want to do. In fact, that statement has 10 words too many. It should actually read “I’ve not seen anything!” I have looked. Possibly not looked too hard, but when you don’t even get an answer from the ones you do look at, it kind of puts a bit of a damper on the whole thing. But I’m not going to dwell on that … I’m putting that to the back of my mind for the time being.

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It’s “Panto Week” in  Bramham his week. We are not going this year, as neither S***e or A***l are cast members this time. Both of them decided that it is a bit too much to get from their house in Castleford to Bramham for the rehearsals. They are still involved, but it will be the first time S***e has not performed for a number of years. I think they both miss it a little, but things move on and I get the feeling that this year’s effort is not up to the usual standard. I may be wrong.

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I feel I may have been neglecting this blog over the past four weeks. However, I don’t seem to have had much to say if the truth is known. My intention was to write something at least every other day. I think, I’m still at the novelty stage of my retirement. It’s sunk in a little, but it still feels like I’m on holiday. I’ve done a bit of decorating (not a lot, but some) and have been doing a bit more knitting, but that’s about all really. We have been out a couple of days and at the moment, we are sticking to going out one day a week. If we can get the spending that we are used to down a little, then the part-time job may not be necessary. We just need to get Christmas out of the way, then we will know where we stand.

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I think that’s just about it. No … wait …had a lovely chat with an ‘ex’ colleague on Sunday. I got to hear about all the hopes and fears that my ex-workers are going through. It made me realise even more that I did the right thing by finishing.

I’ve not really had much to do with the people I used to work with. To be honest, I’m not really that bothered about most of them. But it was a nice surprise when K***e messaged me, to ask how things were. I have to admit, I have a lot of respect for K***e. She is the only one out of our ‘team’ that I miss. When I say that, I mean that I miss a lot of people for one reason or another, but K***e was a special person. Without question, there was nobody that a bad word for her. I have never worked with anybody before that was so universally liked by everyone that met her. It may sound a bit twee, but she did make the day pass a lot more pleasantly.

Start as I mean to go on


Work tomorrow. First day back after our enforced  Christmas break. Well, official first day back. This ‘enforced’ break has come about by the need for Local Government to save money. What happens is that non-critical services are shut-down between Christmas Eve and the first working day after New Years day. Staff take either time out of their annual leave or apply for  unpaid leave. It is an attempt to save on heating and lighting costs, and apparently it is working. However the nameless internet trolls that frequent the comment pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post have a different take on it. A couple of ‘people’ seem to think that if some services can be shut for ten days, then why do we need them at all. But when you look at what leave people are actually taking, it is only really shutting down for three days. It just means that the offices will not be lit-up and heated for ten days.

Whilst I have not actually done any work since Christmas Eve, I have logged on the work network and checked emails and the like. I always have done. It means I can get rid of the rubbish before I start work. I have seen people spend the first few hours of the day, after a break ‘dealing with emails’, most of which can be dumped as they are no longer valid. A colleague once told me to just “delete any email that are more than two days old. If it (the email) is important, then they will email again.” To be honest, I have never had the courage to do it, but it does kind of make sense.

Also tomorrow is the start of wondering if I will get an interview for the job I applied for. I think I should hear within a couple of weeks, then the worrying about the interview should start. Although I’m quite determined not to let it worry me, it probably will.

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This is the first of my intended weekly posting. I’m still trying to find some kind of ‘theme’ to post about, but until  then, it is just going to be the usual ramblings and occasional rants that I usually post.

So until then …….

So this is Christmas (cue song)


Well, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m at work. Nothing much happening and I’m beginning to wish I had taken a leave day. I don’t think anybo1229694269493111958sheikh_tuhin_Christmas_svg_meddy would have minded as it is not as if anything could have been fixed if there had been a problem. Although saying that, someone needed to be onsite.

There are very few colleagues in today and of course, being Britain it’s raining. A quick check of the support email inbox shows that as yet, nobody has forgotten their password/login name/own name (there is still plenty of time) and nobody has asked for a new user to be created.

Disappointed that the snack van did not turn up this morning. Had a feeling that it wouldn’t, so feeling more than a little peckish.

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What will the New Year bring? Well I’m tempted to try and take at least one day a month where I work from home. Then maybe build it up to two days a month. Others in the wider team seem to do it without any issue. Mind yhappy-new-year-mdou, I may not be in the same team this time next month. I put in my application form in for the job in the team I’m working with at the moment, and today is the cut-off date. I should hear by the middle of next month if I have got an interview. The interview will be the big test. I have not had a proper interview for about 10 years. All the job changes over the past few years have been ‘slot-in’ interviews which are just meetings to see if you are interested in the job. However, I’m not going to worry about it. If I succeed I succeed and if I don’t, I haven’t really lost anything.

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I suppose I should consider where this blog is going. Do I want it to be more specific? Should I have a theme? Should I have a set target for posting? Or should I just carry the way I am doing, with random posts on random themes? All things I need to consider over the festive period. I will also have to consider if I’m going take up one the many excellent WordPress blogging courses that will be on offer next year. Only time and commitment will answer that one.

 

Survived another year!


Well it’s over for another twelve months. It is not as dramatic as it sounds, but I hate Halloween. I didn’t used to. It was great when I was a child. We used to go to a neighbour’s house and have a party. We would get dressed up and play games for a couple of hours. Eat party food and generally have fun.

But it has all changed! We now have imported from America Trick or Treat. In Britain, this basically involves kids dressing up in cheap, dangerous fancy dress costumes (usually imported from Chinese sweat-shops) going round the streets knocking doors and asking for sweets. This is now accompanied by the phrase “Trick or Treat. Smell my feet…..” which then trails off into nothing as the kid has not bothered to learn the rest of the rhyme.

Now whilst this is all seen as harmless fun, it has quite serious undertones. For some kids, it teaches that it is okay to make demands with threats. How far is it from “Give me some sweets or I’ll play a trick on you” to “Give me your wallet or I’ll hit you with this brick”. It is that that worries me when I see these kids out there having so called ‘a bit of fun.’

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Now the other thing Halloween gives, is the right for everyone to get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’. Christmas lights can now be officially turned on. You’ll start to hear ‘Christmassy’ songs on the radio. Prices will start to rise as stock become apparently shorter. Christmas stuff will now start to take a more prominent place in the shops. I could go on …. and on …. and on …. and I have not even mentioned the ubiquitous Christmas Present Lists.

Rants are now over. I shall now sit back and relax with my favourite seasonal novel which is ?????

‘Tis the season ….. blah blah blah


Well it’s here again. Christmas!! I don’t like Christmas. Or more to the point, I don’t like what Christmas has become. It seems to have become just a reason to eat, drink and spend to excess. A couple of years ago, I was asked “What would I like at Christmas, if money was no object?” My reply of “What has money got to do with Christmas?” drew more than its fair share of open-mouthed expressions! I still think it is a relevant reply. In my little opinion, Christmas is not about buying the latest games console or scouring the shops for the cheapest offers. It’s not about stocking up the wine cellar or drinks cabinet. It’s not about giving people the most expensive piece of folded card they can find (always taking into account their religious beliefs). It’s not about Christmas Doctor Who Special on the TV and it’s not about going out wearing a stupid hat and drinking yourself into a stupor!

It’s about people! It’s about respect! It’s about understanding! It’s about caring! It’s about realising that you’re not the most important person in the world!

Nothing more to say on this except that I will conform. I will endure the compulsory happiness. I will join in. All this I will do on the surface, but deep down inside, I will be, and always will be a ……….

Right Miserable Old Git

Happy 14th December to you all!!

Back home …..


Well, back home. Yesterday in fact. It was a pretty uneventful day. The weather, whilst not bad, was not as good as it had been. It was going home weather. We stopped off at a gift centre for a look around. My god, these place do depress me at times. Here we are at the start of November and the place was full of Christmas decorations and gift ideas. I don’t know about you, but I think it is far too early. Some of these places have had Christmas stuff for sale since mid-October! Most stores have been planning for the Christmas period from around the end of May. Takes all the symbolism out of the occasion if you ask me. I remember when I was young, there was a department store in the centre of Leeds called “Lewis’s”. On the top floor, at Christmas time, there was Santa’s Grotto and Santa used to arrive on the 1st Wednesday in December, with the Grotto opening the following Friday. Christmas time started in December not November or October. How times have changed.

I digress. I was going to start this post by talking about what I call the “Twat Gap”. How big should the Twat Gap be? Should its size depend on certain conditions? Should there be a minimum size? Maybe a maximum size? What about penalties for abusing the Twat Gap. Now I know some of you will be wondering what a Twat Gap is. Well, you know when you’re driving, you leave a space between the front of your car and the back of the car in front. That is the Twat Gap! Why is it called the Twat Gap? It’s because it does not matter how small that gap is, some twat will try and squeeze into it when they overtake. The Twat Gap!

Tablet virgin no longer


 So this is the first post using my new tablet. I decided long ago that I did not want an iPad of any sort. I know they are very good (or so I’m told anyway) but I’ve never really had any desires to own one. I always fancied a Galaxy or something similar. Then along comes Tesco and the ‘hudl’! I read up on the kit and decided just after Christmas that I would save up and get one. Well as soon as Mrs H heard that, we were off to Tesco the next day to pick it up.

 So here I am, gingerly tapping this out, directly into WordPress. Much fun!!!

 

 

Getting back to normal (or as normal as it gets)


     After surviving Christmas, the next task was to get through New Years Eve. We did!! R*** was on respite, as he struggles with the NYE fireworks. It’s not the fireworks themselves that are the problem, it’s the randomness of the explosions coupled with the unexpectedness, if that’s the word I’m looking for. So he was away for two nights and came back on Thursday evening. Sounds like he had a successful time, there were no reported issues. S**** and his girlfriend A**** and another friend from his university days, went to a party. They were all staying over, so that left me and K*** ‘home alone’ as they say. So what did we do… go to the pub? go to a party? go into town??? Nope, we watched the television. Well that sounds a bit simplistic, but it was a nice evening. We had a nice meal, some nice wine and spent the evening relaxing.

     Then it was back to work on the 2nd. That was a more stressful day than the whole of Christmas and New Year together. It appears now, that the work review that we are going through is changing somewhat. We were originally told, that our service would be “picked up and dropped into the new service” and that “new opportunities would present themselves.” We are now told that we will be “slotted in” but will have to push ourselves forward and sort of make a case for our existence. So that sounds interesting! We have also been told, that we need to make a brief ‘pitch’ to promote each one of us. My direct manager, S**** was pushing the idea, that this was going to be some sort of ‘presentation’ and that I should use Microsoft PowerPoint to do it. Ten minutes each was the suggested time frame for each one of us. The fact that this meeting was only booked for an hour with eight people to speak did not seem to matter. It is now down to a two minute talk about who we are, what we do, where we come from and where do we want to go. I am not looking forward to it at all. I’m not one of those people that enjoys self promotion. I’m a background person that just want to get on with the job in hand. I’ve been told that I should always be looking for better opportunities. Sorry, that’s not for me. So we will see what happens at this meeting on Friday.

     I now have a Tesco ‘hudl’. th I mentioned it to K*** just after Christmas, that I was going to see if they were reduced in the sales. I’m not a fan of Apple products, so the Ipad or Ipad Mini were not something I could ever see me using, but thought it might be useful to have some form of tablet computer.She got a bit annoyed with me as she did not know that I wanted one. We looked on the Tesco website, and she bought me a red one. We shall see how useful it proves to be. With it being an Android device, I am quite used to the operating system, which is the same as my smartphone. I just need to be careful that it does not turn into a smartphone without the telephone part.

     My attempt at writing a story based on letters from the main character is coming along, albeit slowly. I have a good idea where I am taking it, but I’m just not sure whether it is moving along to fast or even too slow. I decided to write this back in October 2013 and had the idea that each of the letters is a chapter of the story. I’m now up to chapter six, and this is where my doubts seem to be creeping in. I will finish it though, but not sure when.

Another Christmas over…..


     Well, when I say over, I mean that the ritual present giving and over eating is finally coming to an end. It’s been a reasonable time. Nothing spectacular, but then I don’t like Christmas, spectacular or otherwise. I’ll not go into the reasons at this time. I will leave that for another day. So rather than wait until the New Years,  I’ll do a “Quick Review” now!

What happend:

  1. We survived last New Year Eve
  2. I was notified that I was part of another workplace review
  3. I got a new smart phone
  4. We got a new family car
  5. S**** got a new phone (same as mine)
  6. Was told ‘You were always going to get this job….’
  7. Heard that we are to be ‘slotted in’ to the new roles as part of the review
  8. S**** got a new job
  9. S**** got a new girlfriend
  10. I got a new car
  11. S**** got a new car (same as mine)
  12. We survived Christmas

So that was the ‘12 Days Of 2013’ In the grand scheme of things, not a lot happened really.

At the risk of sounding ……


I hate Christmas!

     Now I suppose, I should justify that statement. I hate to use that tired old cliché, but I hate what Christmas has become. When I was a child, Christmas was at the end of December, and it lasted, at the most three days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. That was it! Santa had his Grotto in the main department stores, but not before the 1st of December and most people did not put up their decorations until around the 20th December. Some of the local shops did their decorations a bit earlier, but I don’t really remember them doing much.

     Of course, there was not the mass media hype that we have now. Television did not have the power it now has, so Christmas advertising was mainly driven by what we would call small, posters. Now we have Christmas from around the beginning of October, with all the pressures that it brings. It is a similar thing with bonfire night. It used to be Mischief Night on the 4th of November, when we would go around knocking on peoples doors or pinching wood from other bonfires. Sometime, the older ones would let off ‘bangers’ and then run away. Then there was bonfire night itself. The only night when fireworks could be legally set off. Now it starts at the end of October and mixes with Halloween (I refuse to call is ‘Trick or Treat’), then goes of until the weekend after bonfire night. It’s turned into ‘bonfire weekend’.

     But I digress. This rant is a Christmas rant. this is also the time of year, when charities feel obliged to try and wring more money out of us, by mentioning ‘Christmas Spirit’. I don’t have a problem with giving to charity and regularly do so. My problem is that you get inundated with them, and you cannot give to them all. That does not include the professional charity collectors. Chuggers, they are called. They are the ones that stop you in the high street, carrying their obligatory clipboard, to sign you up to give only £2.00 a week. With their usual mantra of ‘….it can do so much….’ they attempt to make you feel as guilty as possible so as to convince you that £5.00 will do so much more!

     Now, we are in the midst of the worst austerity measures in  British history, with Local Authorities being forced to strip millions from their budgets. Yet they are still expected to spend many thousands of pounds on Christmas Illuminations and the ‘C’ lest celebrities to switch them on.

     To cap it all, when it’s all over, it will be only four months to Easter!

Decisions decisions


So what should I do ? Should I write up a blog post or should I just carry on with my story ? Well seeing as this post is is now on the blog, you can guess what I decided.

     My story, and I suppose it is a story, it at the stage, where I neither know where it is going next or how it’s going to get there. I have the bare bones of the idea, but when I make notes, it just does not seem to work. To be honest, I’m not that sure, that this is the story I want to write. This could be the problem. I think I need to have a more structured approach.

     I have finally subscribed to a magazine for writers. It’s called Writing Magazine. There appears to be a great deal of content, that will hopefully be useful to me. I’m also following a number of writers blogs (they know who they are) and the tips and resources are very welcome

—————–

     The Christmas decorations came down yesterday. They are all packed away in the loft, ready for next year. We can now get back to what passes for normality in this house. I’m saying ‘all packed away’, there are bound to be a couple of items that have escaped our scrutiny and are sat somewhere, just waiting to be discovered sometime in February.

     Tomorrow, Mrs H is starting some kind of diet. I think it is going to be one of those diets, where the portions sizes are small and the alcohol is non-existent, well until the weekend anyway. We have done this kind of thing before, and we usually last a month, and when we see that there is no discernable effect, we give up. But we shall wait and see.

Welcome to another year


     Well 2013 arrived, and the expected, and dreaded firework trauma did not happen. We had given R***  1mg of his PRN medication at around 23:15, as a precaution. But we had none of the usual ‘incidents’ that we have had over that past four or five years. To be honest, there was not as many fireworks going off around here, as we normally get. In fact, there were more on Christmas Day than last night. So the question is: why was he better last night than before? The “psych’s” will tell us that it was the drugs that settled him and they will try and use it to give credence to solutions. I rather think, that it was just the lack of the fireworks that did it. Whatever it was, it was 1000% better than previous years.

     I find it rather disturbing, that for a country that is in such a dire financial situation, we still have money to waste on the New Year Celebrations. The London fireworks lasted for 15 minutes. How much must that have cost ? There would be the actual cost of the fireworks (22,000 in total). Then the cost of the organisation and planning. Where did all this money come from ? And the scenes were repeated, albeit on a smaller scale, throughout the country. If we are a country with such a large deficit that we are cutting welfare payments to the most needy, do we really need to ‘burn’ so much money just because the number of the year changed ?

Goodbye to a long year


     By the time you read this, 2012 will nearly be over. It’s a year that has had it’s ups and downs and I’m probably glad to see the back of it. Some the downsides have been quite traumatic: finding out that the job you’ve been doing for the past seven years, will no longer exist; Mrs H finding out she had a Melanoma on her arm; coming home to find the Police in the house after R*** had had a melt down; discovering that there was a plan in place to section R*** if needed and that the ‘plan’ had nearly been invoked twice, must all rank at the top of the downers. Then of course there was the uppers: getting a new job; R*** settling in at his new place; R*** taking to his respite without a problem; S**** getting a great review for his part in the local panto; surviving Christmas (still have New Years Eve) are all up there with good times. I also got a new laptop, and I was not sure if it was an upper or a downer. It was struggle to get it to how i wanted it, but when it was all done, it was brilliant!
     My writing is coming along. It is a slow progress, because I think in my own mind, that I’m not good enough to do it. I will have days when I will just sit at the keyboard, and do not know what to write. Then on other days, I will hammer out a couple of hundred words. But then i read back what I’ve written, and realise that it is nonsense, and I have to start again. I’m currently writing a story that has a troll involved. I’ve got up to 4000 words, but I don’t know where I am going from here, or even if going to take it any further. I may just use this a practice piece whilst I figure out what I really want to write about. I did start writing a blog for a national magazine and wrote a few  posts, about the local area and what was happening, but the stats were very disappointing, with no comments neither good or bad. You do need people to comment. Even if they just tell how bad the piece is, it shows that they have interested enough to read it and offer advice. I gave up after four posts and have not written anything for it since December 2011.
     I have recently taken one of the pieces I have written and turned it into a sketch/play. It still needs some work, but with that one, I know what I need to do. I’ve been reading and bought a couple of books about Creative Writing, and am now beginning to understand where I have to start from, and how to develop ideas. It is going to a long process, but as I have indicated to HR at work, I am interested in taking voluntary early retirement in March 2015, I need to get my skates on, so to speak.
     I suppose, that the last sentence needs a little more explaining. I work for local government, and without going in to the politics of it (especially my views) a number of staff in the 55 – 65 age bracket, have been asked to consider either early retirement (VER) or voluntary severance (VS). As I fall in to that age category, I decided to apply for VER. I have sufficient service to give me that maximum payout, and although the pension will not be full amount, I would only be eligible for a further £2000.00 a year if a I stayed on until I was 66. It has yet to be passed by management, but at my level, I do not think there will be a problem. It will mean a massive change, and I will need to get some kind of part-time job, to help with the finance situation, but I think it will be okay. So you see, if I can get my head around writing and develop the skills I need to write creatively, the boredom factor that people get when they retire should not creep in. Who knows, I may even make a few pounds from the experience.

 

     Well, I think I have blathered on for long enough. All that is left now is to wish you all a  very prosperous and successful new year, and hope that 2013 brings you everything you wish for.

It gets closer …..


    I don’t need to tell anyone, but it just over a week to go. Then we can get back to some form of normality, whatever that may be. Just a couple of presents to get, (last minute hints from Mrs H) and I should be done. So I’ll be nipping off to the White Rose centre tomorrow, and I also need to pay a visit to Aldi too. I need to get some Parmesan, and it seems to be one of the best places to buy it. We also bought some ‘mini’ mince pies there last year. They came out top in the Which Best Buy.

     This week will see the usual Christmas Fuddles start. Ours is on Friday, but I’ve also been invited to the one at my previous office, on Wednesday. I made the mistake of saying I would go there on Monday or Tuesday and was told that I was invited. I now have to find an excuse not to go. I never liked it when I worked there, so I’m not going to like it now. I think D*** will get it, but the rest of them won’t.

     K*** and me went to R***’s college on Friday. It is just outside Barnsley, and we (replace the with ‘I’) had to drive through dreadful weather. It was icy, foggy, and rainy at the same time. There had been numerous accidents on the M1, and it had been closed in parts, so we opted to travel the A1 instead. I think, if the weather had been better, it would have proved to be the more suitable road. It certainly seemed a lot easier to find his college this time, and I don’t think it was anything to do with the fact we have been three times before.

     It was a good day, and it was nice to see the flat where R*** has his base, and to meet the support staff he works with. I have just thought though. He currently uses this flat just as a day base. He does not sleep there when he is on respite, because it is/was a shared resource. The person who shared with him, will be based in another flat in the future. I wonder if they have given any thought to R*** using this flat as his respite flat now. To me it makes sense, although there may be many reason why the management cannot put this in place. However, it is worth a phone call next week. I shall let you know.

     His psychiatrist and the community nurse, that works with us, told K*** that they wanted to have their next meeting at a different place from usual. They tried to sell it to me as a way of getting him used to different places. However, it came out in Friday’s meeting, that this place is some kind of secure unit/place of safety. It did not click at first, but his psychiatrist want to get him on to an anti-psychotic drug to help manage his behaviour. Now we had this before, when he was put on a drug, and it completely disagreed with him. It made him worse. He was depressed, sobbing and weeping often, and also self-harming. The self-harm was only minor, hitting the side of his head and nipping himself, but the specialist wanted to increase the drug, bur we said we wanted to stop it. After a day or too, he was back to ’normal’ or as normal as he was before.  So what this new psychiatrist want to do, is to take him into ‘hospital’ so they can observe and monitor him whilst on this drug. This secure unit is the ‘hospital’ they want to use. We are going to have to be very careful here. I don’t want him on any anti-psychotics, and I think K*** feels the same, but I feel that there may be plans that we are not party to. A year ago, he was a teenager with Autism and challenging behaviour. Now it seems that he some kind of psychopath and a danger to the community !!!!! When did that all change.

It’s beginning to feel like etc etc etc….


     Yesterday was the first real day of Christmas here. The day also goes under the celebratory name of “I-need-to-clean-the-whole-house-and-you-need-to-clamber-around-in-the-loft-and-find-all-the-decorations-because-its-Christmas” Day!!!! Today is yesterday, part the second. With the sounds of  “Scrooge”, “Grinch”, “Miserable Old Sod”, “Humbug” and all the other seasonal insults around me, I reluctantly begin to fall into place. I have to say, I hate Christmas! More to the point, I hate what Christmas has become. It just seems to be a time for eating, drinking and spending more than is good for anyone. What has happened to the spirit of Christmas ? Seems to me that it now comes ‘gift pack’ with a 35ml bottle and a tacky glass.

     We don’t have a real tree anymore. We gave that up a while back, when tThe Treehe price of a piece of dead wood became too high. We now have a three foot high (including basket) fibre optic tree. It does the job, looks good and is always a talking point. The really good thing, is that there are no nasty needles to sweep up afterwards. Because, you never get them all. There will be one day, probably mid January, when you’re walking around in your bare feet, and you’ll find one !!! Never a good time.

     It’s ‘Panto’ time in Bramham again. I’m not going to go into the ‘oh no it isn’t – oh yes it is’ routine……. ah I just did! S**** is again one of the stars. This years effort has again been written by a local lad, and it is a version of Aladdin, but it’s more Persian than the usual Chinese offering. S**** plays the part of the Aladdin’s simple brother, Cy. He seems to be on stage for most of the performance, and his part is very slapstick. He is coming home very battered and bruised from all the knockabout routines, but he says it is great fun, and it certainly was very energetic, when K*** and me saw it on Thursday. I’ll post some pictures later, when they get uploaded.

     My writing efforts continue. I’m working on a short story at the moment, that may involve a troll. Not the internet type, but the type of troll that might live under a bridge. Still not sure where it’s going yet, but I’m managing to knock out a couple of hundred words every other day. I’m working on the idea that I should just write, and when I come to the end, then start to edit and correct it. It’s difficult, as I seem to see what is not right every time I come to write some more. Both style and content are a work in progress. I’m also in the process of writing a small play/sketch. This started as listening in to two separate conversations and then expanding it into a very short story. someone then suggested that it would probably make a good (or adequate was the word) sketch. So I’m giving it a go. Who knows, it may even end up being performed by the drama group.

…….after Christmas


So today is the first day back after the Christmas break. Including the weekend, we, at the office, have had 4 days off. What would be the first thing you would think the staff would ask ???? I don’t suppose you would guess at “What time can we finish ??” Well that was what they were asking !!! The dissapointment showed no bounds, when they were told that it would be 5 o’clock. A lot of coughing and spluttering as they groped for the words “But…but….it’s Christmas !!!!” Nope, that was why you were off, with pay for the past two days. Today is Wednesday, the only connection with the festive season, is that it is 3 days after Christmas Day. They are all looking to go home early on Friday too,”…cos it’s New Years Eve Eve”

You see, what these people forget, is that they are ‘public servants’. People, paid by the public to provide a service. They seem to think, that ‘someone’ owes them the job, and the public should be grateful that they are there. Well this time next year, some of them may not be there ! The way this country is going, there will be no public sector, and the job they are doing will be with a private company. That will be a much needed wake up call.

Here endeth my Christmas message.

Back to work


     Well not really ‘back to work’ in the sense that others may say. It was back to work after the New Year. Of course, the IT system failed again. Lost a couple of network drives over the weekend, so the automatic program that should have run at 5 past midnight did not run. That put me back a couple of hours, so some of today’s work will have to be done tomorrow.

     Big problems with the youngest last night. Screaming and shouting and intense anger  at around 10pm. Nothing seemed to calm him down at first, then he was awake up until about 2am. Tonight, much the same. At around 9pm, we got the screaming and shouting and the anger, but tonight he was crying and saying he was so unhappy. Now, he was probably reciting a DVD or video that he has remembered, but it was very upsetting, and had me convinced it was him trying to tell us what is going on !! Who knows. This could be the side effects of the small dose anti-depressant that he has been prescribed, or it may just be another development is his Autism !!! It is now 11pm and he seems to have settled down, but he could turn at any moment.

     Christmas cards are now beginning to get me down !!!! Just want it all to be over. I know, I know, only a couple of days to go, but it is not soon enough. If I had my way, the decorations would go up on the 24th, and come down again on the 26th !!!! I know what you’re thinking …… and I have been expecting a visit from the three Christmas ghosts for many years.