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!

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.

How was it for you ??

As I understand it, last week was supposed to be the most miserable week of the year! Was yours? Mine certainly wasn’t. Where do these experts get these ideas from. For me, the most miserable week was the three days between Boxing Day and the 30th of December. It seemed to be three days of colleagues moaning about being at work for three days because ‘there’s nothing to do’. Then they started again the first full week back, moaning that ‘there’s too much to do’.

I think Mrs H has been ripped off. Last year she bought herself a cycle. It is one of those sit-up-and-beg’ type of cycles, with a basket on the front. Not what I would bikebuy, but it is what she wanted. It is like this one but a darker red. Well after the first couple of trips out, she got the idea that she would like to know how far she had cycled. I said I would have a look online for a cycle computer, knowing that I could get one locally for about £12.00. However, she decided to go back to the shop she bought the bike from and ask them. They sold he one that cost, in the sale, £39.99!! Well when she showed me, I immediately thought that it was more than she needed. It had been reduced from £49.99, which made me wonder if it was because they could not sell it. Anyway, I opened the package and took out the parts, found the instructions…in all 26 languages. Identified the ones nearest to English, or should I say Engrish, and began to study them. After about ten minutes of trying to understand some of the more bizarre set-up instructions, I gave up and put it all back in the package. This was not what Mrs K needed. One of the instructions was this:

1) position the cycle so that the front tyre valve is at the bottom of the wheel
2) mark in white chalk (yes that specific) on the road, the position of the valve
3) slowly move the cycle in a forward direction until the valve has made a single rotation
4) mark in white chalk (again) the new valve position
5) measure the distance between the two chalk marks

This will be the size of your wheel. Have they never heard PIxR squared.

cateyeAfter Christmas back, we took the thing back. Mrs H had also bought a wing mirror for the bike. When we tried to explain that it was more than she needed, the owner pointed out that it was the best in the shop, and that we did not need to use all the features. We also complained that the mirror seemed to have some part missing, to which the owner pointed out, that it was only a basic mirror and we should not expect much. I have to ask myself his motives here. A piece of equipment that is a luxury, he sells the best (most expensive) item. For something that is a safety feature, she gets the basic model. We came home without changing anything. He convinced Mrs H, that she had got what she needed. I was saying nothing. It was her decision. I would have asked for a refund.

So today, I made an attempt to fit the cycle computer. All the parts seemed to be in order, and once I had deciphered the instructions again, I began. Everything was okay, until I tried to fit the actual computer. It would not fit. You see, it is sort of wireless. In fact it is infrared. So that means the computer needs to be in direct line with the sensor on the wheel. As the cycle has a basket, this would not be possible with out removing the basket, which defeats one of the reasons she bought the bike. Mrs H will be going back to the shop once more. This time for a refund.

On a different note, I may be creating a website to hold my writing. It is not definite yet, as at the moment my WordPress blog seems to be working out. We shall see. Don’t forget to take a look at the two that are there now, and make any comments.