A few pics and a bit of writing …


I have recently been updating my ‘Google Sites‘ page. It’s a strange thing, but until a couple of months ago, I had forgotten I had the site. I have been asking one or two ex-colleagues and they tell me that we all created one as part of our departmental social network. It was back in 2009 and I never really used it at work, in fact I didn’t put anything on the site until the middle of last year when I received an email telling me that the site needed some maintenance. All that meant was that I needed to add a recovery email.

It’s not as intuitive as Google Blogger and like the way WordPress seems to be heading, content is created in blocks. Since I have the site, I thought I might as well use it, but I didn’t know what I would use it for. It then struck me. I do a little bit of ‘creative writing'(?) and was tending to put little bits on my Google blog, but it’s a quite boring site and I don’t really know what I can do there. With having this paid blog on here, it didn’t really make any sense to use Blogger. But I didn’t want to post my writing attempts on WordPress, as I thought I would have to create a new page to put the musings, to keep them separate and I didn’t want to do that. I think some blogs can look a bit messy with many pages.

So that’s what my ‘Google Sites‘ is going to be used for. Because scrolling through a long page full of text may be a little tiring, I have interspersed the writing with some of my photographs. All the writing is my own, and one day I shall bundle them all together and publish my own book, although it will probably be some kind of eBook. It is still a ‘work in progress’ but I will keep updating it (when I remember.)

I like my phone …


My 1st phone
1980’s

Love them or loathe them, mobile phones have come a long way from the house brick of the 1970’s to the razor thin, smartphones that we are now used to. I got my first phone in the mid 80’s, and it was a BT phone on the Orange network. It was about the size of my open hand and just as thick. But the main problem was cost of the calls. At 30p a minute for local calls, it was very expensive to use, so it only got used in emergencies, of which there were thankfully very few. After that, I moved onto a Blackberry type of phone from Nokia and gradually upgraded to my latest Motorola.

Now to the point of this one. About 4 years ago, I took a part-time, free online Creative Writing course. It wasn’t a very good course and I didn’t pursue the offer of a paid course. But, one of the ‘ideas’ that were floated about was about conversations. It was the thought that we can get a better understand on how to write good dialogue, by having a discussion with yourself.

We were supposed to think of a subject, then have an imaginary chat to someone. All this was supposed to go on in your head but I often found myself talking out loud, which can be quite embarrassing, especially in public. To get around this, the tutor advised getting a pair of earphones, the ones with a built in microphone, and use them to pretend you are talking to someone real. I have never tried it, but it was an interesting thought. It made me wonder though, if many of those people you see with earphones in, chatting away are really just talking to themselves.

Should have been ‘Day 1’ …


For a few weeks now, I have been considering writing a journal. Nothing too over the top, just a few lines every day. I’ve been told that writing things down, helps with memory and trying to remember things. May all be rubbish, but it may just work.

So today was the day I was going to start. I’ve been looking for for something suitable to jot down my notes for a few weeks. What I wanted was some kind of soft backed book with lined pages. I wanted it about A5 or A6 size, but I didn’t want it to have dates. I already have a ‘page-to-a-day’ type of diary, and I don’t think it is suitable for what I want. This is what I found and it seemed just the job. It wasn’t until I got home that I discovered that it had plain pages with no lines. It wasn’t expensive, so I’m not going to take it back. It will teach me to read all the small print before jump in and buy anything.

So, I’ve taken the plunge and have bought one (another) from eBay which from the look and description ‘seems’ to be what I want. Price is similar to the other one I purchased and should be here on Wednesday. Fingers crossed, I should be able to start before the whole idea falls by the wayside.

The problem, if it can be called a problem is what to do with the other notebook. As I say, it wasn’t expensive so not really much point in taking back for a refund. I have a distant developing idea that I could use it as a sketch book, which basically what it is but I’m not sure about my artistic abilities. So who knows.

“What’s It All About … Alfie ?


It’s the question I get asked most if the subject of my blog crops up. Well the word “Alfie” isn’t usually part of the quest, Cillaalthough someone did sing that line to me on one occasion. However, it confuses most people when I tell them that it’s “About nothing, but then again about any and everything” And that’s more or less what it’s about. What I want to say and when I want to say it. I don’t have a theme. I tried that when WorkI first started with Blogger and failed, although the “From then to now” posts do have a sort of theme running through them. So this is possibly one of the reasons my posts are more random than some other blogs. Something could affect me today and I’ll post about it and then something else could happen tomorrow and I would post about that. Then it could be a couple of weeks before I’m ready to write again.

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It’s funny how politics and scandal seem to invade everyday conversation these days. The subject of Boris and the alleged ‘thigh METOOgrab’ came up at work on Monday. My colleague was completely bewildered by why she did not do anything about it at the time. I did try and explain, that 20 years ago someone who is trying to establish themselves and build a career simply did not ‘tell tales’ about an employer. If they did, it could have serious repercussions. It is only since the ‘#me too’ allegations came to the fore, that incidents are now being exposed.

That’s enough ‘politics’ for now. Normal service will be resumed in due course.


Should I, could I? …


Back in 2016, a few months before I retired I heard a rumour that my old school was going to have a reunion. This was to coincide with the ‘celebrations’ marking 50 years since the England football World Cupteam actually won the World Cup. I asked the school friend that I mentioned in my last post if he knew anything but he had not heard anything. I did a bit of Googling, but nothing about a reunion turned up. I did however see a name, linked with the school. The person, I’ll call him “Eric”, was not at the school for very long. He started at the same time, but after about 4 or 5 weeks he left. His father was an English teacher and had got a job in South Africa. As a consequence we did not have much to do with him. I remember him because he was the same size as me and had the same side parting hairstyle. He was on “Linked in” and I ended up sending him a message just out of curiosity. Turned out he is a University lecturer now, but in Australia. We messaged a couple of times, but he was more into Skype and Facetime video messaging which is something I avoid like the plague. As with a lot of these things, the messages dropped off and I only hear from him at Christmas and birthdays.

Then in March this year, out of the blue he emailed me with a pdf document. He had written his autobiography and thought I would like a copy to “…remind me of bygone times…” To be brutally honest, it was dire. I’m no writing guru, but I could have done it better Biowithout trying. Lots of sentences starting with ‘And then…’ or ‘The next day…’ or ‘After that…” For the son of an English teacher, it could not have been worse. But it got me thinking. Should I and could I do my own autobiography? It could not be any worse than “Eric’s” and I would not be publishing it. I wouldn’t want to do a ‘birth to now’ type, but I could concentrate on my work life. It then struck me that I could write it as a series of blog posts, taking say 5 years at a time and writing about the best bits.

So guess what? I’m going to give it a go. I need to work out some kind of time-line and highlight key points and dates before I start, but I think it may just work. So as the saying goes …

Watch

Doing a bit of computer housekeeping …


I (currently) own two laptops. My main one sits on my computer desk in the living room but the previous one lives in S****s (the spare bedroom) bedroom. Both work fine but the old one was beginning to get a little slow. So on Friday I decided to give a good clear out and try and bring it to a more reasonable speed. I first spent about three hours getting the system up-to date. As I tend not to use it as much as I use the more recent one, it had fallen a little behind with the “up-dates”.

On Saturday morning I ran a small piece of software that checks most of my applications to see if there re any updates for them. The list was quite large, but as I was not going to be using all the applications on the laptop, I only updated a few. Later in the day I began to uninstall some of the bigger software apps. I managed to get three done before I got fed up with it. Started again this morning and after around four hours, I was in a position to write this post. The machine is now much faster, and it is my intention to use this one to work on any creative writing I happen to be engaged in.

The problem I had was the the Microsoft cloud storage on the ‘old’ laptop was called “SkyDrive” whereas on the ‘newer’ laptop it’s called “OneDrive”. It caused me a bit of grief to get the two synchronised, but I eventually got it sorted. You see if I wanted to do any work, such as write this blog on a Sunday, it was a problem. R*** like to use my newer laptop before he has his lunch, and this has now become part of his routine. It meant that any ideas I wanted to write down had to wait until he had finished.

Have I answered my own query …


Last month, I posed the question about upgrading to a paid plan rather than the free plan I currently use. The type of blog I write is basically a random thought blog. I think of something or something is on my mind, and I write a few words about it. My wife’s argument was that I ‘…don’t write enough to warrant the fee …’ and my counter was that ‘…it would encourage me to write more…’ Now I’m not sure who wins that particular discussion as I think both are valid. But, and there always is a ‘but’ it’s been over three weeks since I felt the need to sit down and say something, so maybe my wife is correct. On the other hand would a fee encourage me? A lot more thought needs to go into this I think.

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Mrs H is out tonight. She has gone with her sister to see a musical play at the theatre in Leeds. R*** went on respite this morning, so I’m ‘Home Alone’ as the saying goes and pondering on what I want to eat. Do I have a bacon and eggs, maybe egg and chips or quite possibly something else and chips? K*** always says ‘Have something nice for dinner …’ and I always reply that I will. It will probably be fish-fingers again. It usually is fish-fingers! Or … I could go out! Now that would be different. But where would I go and what would I get to eat? I did it once, went out that is. It was when K*** was away for a few days back in 2015. I thought ‘I’m going out to eat!’ I ended up at a McDonalds and I ordered the same as I usually order. So it looks like the usual will happen and I’ll settle for fish-fingers (yawn…)

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Been doing a bit of decorating today. The hall and staircase was the task and I had to start with the ceiling. The ceiling has three levels decreasing in size as you come down the stairs. All the ceilings except for the bathrooms have a cornice. It’s a bit 90’s style, but it does break up the height a little. The real issue with decorating the hall and staircase is the access. It almost takes longer to move the ladders round the  area that it does to actually paint the thing. The second issue, and it’s almost big an issue the access, is seeing what you have painted. I’m putting white emulsion on top of white emulsion, so you can probably see where I’m coming from. Still it’s done. The next job is the walls and for that, I’m putting ‘Pale Hessian’ emulsion on guess what? Correct, Pale Hessian. Expect the same volley of bad language as before.

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The on-going saga of the eldest son’s relationship break-up continues. His ex-girlfriend has opted to go down the road of a formal ‘separation agreement’. It’s probably the wisest move as it will legitimise the break-up and all that goes with it, but it is a cost that he cannot afford. We’ve told him not to worry about it as I can cover the cost, but it doesn’t leave him with a comfortable feeling. He doesn’t see why we should get him out of what he calls ‘his mess-up’. We have tried telling him that’s what parents do, but he still finds it difficult. It is going to be a long few weeks ahead. The big issue is that he cannot get his own place until he has been removed from the mortgage/help-to-buy agreement, and that could be a long drawn out procedure. It shouldn’t be, but it could be, if his ‘ex’ does not get the correct advice. Watch this space.

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It has now been over a year since I retired. I’ve been looking for some part-time work, but I may have narrowed my options too far. I’m looking for no more than 12-14 hours per week, in a location around about 5 miles from home, with no weekend work. I gat an application pack for a post in the local council garden centre, but when I looked into it deeper, it turned out to be a ‘zero hours’ contract with no fixed working days. Basically I could be working, for example 20 hours one week then nothing for the next couple of weeks. Just not what I wanted at all, and I’m not sure I want to work in a garden centre.. I’ve an application in to work as a receptionist at a local doctors surgery, but I’m not holding out much hope. When have you ever seen a male doctors receptionist?

It’s been a long week …


I’m referring to the holiday my wife is on at the moment. As I’ve not posted for some time, I’ll get you up to speed. Around the middle of April, K****s sister and daughter, returned from a week away in Gran Canaria. She returned with an offer that K*** should join them on their next trip. There was much discussion about this, with me having a lot of misgivings about the whole thing. Firstly, it’s a ‘beach, bar and pool type of holiday, which I understood was not the type of holiday K*** enjoyed. Secondly there was R*** to consider. How would he react, coming home from respite to find his mother not at home, and not going to be home for another 4 days. Then there is the cost. K*** tells me that it’s a ‘one-off’, but isn’t that waste of all the money it cost for a new passport? And what about all the new clothes … more expense. Anyway, she is back on Tuesday. R*** and me will both be pleased, and as I say, it’s been a long week. I had a list of jobs that I wanted to get done, which I managed to do in between the rain and the wind we had here. I suppose the worst part of the experience is the lack of conversation. I went to the pub a couple of evenings, but there is only so much you can chat about with people that you don’t really know. It will be nice to get back to what we call normality.

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I’ve been a bit lazy with this blog over the past couple of months. To be honest, I’ve not really had much I wanted to say. I wanted to stay clear of politics as that is all that people have been talking about for the past month. I know from past experience, that it is one way to ‘lose friends and annoy people. That is something I can do without any external help, thank you very much.

I tend to update this blog in the late evening. I thought, that this retirement (early) would give me lots more time to do things like this blog, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. It still late at night, when K*** and R*** have gone to bed, that I think ”I must do a blog post”, and then I get distracted and end up not doing anything. I was going to look for a part-time job. That’s not happened. I signed up with a recruitment agency, but the jobs they have come up with are never appropriate. I promised myself that I would do more writing, but I don’t seem to have had any ideas that I could write about. I have done a fair bit of knitting though. A three beanie hats, five headbands, a pair of wrist warmers, a couple of scarves and I’m a quarter of the way through a sleeveless jumper. So I’ve not been sitting on my hands, so to speak.

I shall stop now as I don’t want to start rambling on about anything. I think I shall make a mental note to think about updating this effort at least once a week. I’ll put a note in my diary. See if that makes a difference!

The result and other things …


I have decided. There shall be NO single theme in this blog. There are a few reasons, but the main one is that this blog is just me. I started it as a means of practicing my writing. The intention was that I would mainly read other writers posts and glean what knowledge and tips I could pick up to improve my writing and use that to post my own work. That part of the plan is still working, but to post my own work, I have to do some!

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Today it’s “Let’s Rip Off People By Pretending We Care About The Romantic Things In Life When They Have Just Started To Get Over Christmas” Day. Or as it is known “Valentines Day.” To be accurate it’s actually Saint Valentines Day, but in this day and age of religious intolerance, people tend to forget the ‘Saint’ part. It is just a money making con by retailers, to encourage people to part with money that they don’t probably have. You may have guessed by now, that I’m not a fan! I shall leave it there!

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One of the things I said I would do when I retire was to clear out some the junk we have horded over the past twenty (call that forty) years. The loft is ridiculously full of said junk, and the garage is not far behind. I took some stuff to the tip last week and yesterday spent a couple of hours trying to identify what we wanted to get rid of. I found a bag full of trousers. Some of them were mine that had mysteriously shrunk over the years, particularly in the waist area. I don’t know how that happens at all! Some of them were new pants that K*** had bought for R*** in the sales and such. This brings me, in a round about way to the sizing of some of those clothes.

I was ironing some of them this morning and was making a note of the leg length. Four pairs had an inside leg measurement of 29”, but they all seemed to be different lengths. Out with my trusted tape measure, and I find that one pair is indeed 29”, but two pairs are 31” and one was actually 32”. All were from the same store and all the same style. Then to cap it all, another pair had a size of ‘15 years’! How do they measure a size by a persons age? When I was 15, I was just a little over 5ft. Most of my class were around the 5ft 6in, but there was at least two, maybe three guys who were over 6ft.

I really do get a bit frustrated and angry with how clothes are sized.

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To IMAG0559finish up, this is the latest of my knitting ‘projects’. It’s a simple scarf that I have been on with for a couple of days. It was an easy pattern to work with and I thought I would share it with you. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not going to have a theme for my blog, and I’ll just throw in things like this whenever the fancy takes me.

Why do they have to be ‘projects’? It’s just a hobby.

Is it a scam …?


Yesterday, I received an email direct to my WordPress email from an organisation that calls itself  ‘My Trending Stories’. Having a quick look on their website, it seems that they collect posts from various people on various subjects.

The email drops a few flattering phrases into the body, such as “…and strongly admire the content. Your writing abilities and ability to engage readers is remarkable and a very rare asset…” and “…strongly believe that your writing aligns with our core value…” and concludes with “…we only allow a certain amount of writers on the website in order to provide mentorship and personal growth…”. Now, this all sounds very interesting and promising, but is there a catch? I emailed them back for more details, and the reply was very much of the same. It appears that I would have to post regularly eg two or three times a week and can even repost work I have posted on my blog at WordPress.

I did a little Googling around, and I understand that a number of people are among the ‘certain amount of writers’ that this site  is attempting to attract. I have to say, that I am a little intrigued, even interested, but I have doubts. Nothing I can put my finger on, but I’m a bit uncertain. Maybe it’s the commitment or maybe it’s the excessive flattery that worries me, I don’t know.

I would be interested to know if any of my followers/readers have had the same email or any experience of this site.

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Now for the “Rant of The Day.” I’m not the biggest fan of tennis. In fact, I’m not really a sports fan at all. But K*** like to watch Wimbledon, especially when it’s Andy Murray. So the point of my rant today is how it is shown on television. The BBC covers all the big matches, but they seem to like to mess around with the channels. Tonight, Mr Murray’s match was on BBC 1 until around 6pm when it was moved to BBC 2, to allow for the news. It then flipped back to BBC1. Why? Why could they not re-arrange the schedules and put the tennis on BBC 2 and BBC 3? It’s not as if they haven’t done it before. I have an idea, that it is to stop people from ‘live pausing’ the matches. That is all well and good and some of us can remember the days before live pausing, but it is a feature that a lot of people have and we should be able to use it. Come on BBC, get your act together.

A Rant, A Query and a bit of a Moan


I’m going to start with a bit of a rant. I know I have mentioned this before, but I can knit. Not huge amounts of clothes but usually small crafty items, such as daffodils and hearts and the like. DaffsI’ve done it on and off since I as about 8 years old, and when I’m in the mood, I really enjoy it. Now the issue I have, is that nearly all the magazines and websites dedicated to knitting do not seems to tailor any  of their content to the male knitter. Men have always knitted, and while todays society is a little less ‘macho’ enforced it is still rare to see a man knitting in public. I’ve done it, and you do feel very self conscious. It is not until your public realise that it can be quite intricate and that you are quite good at it, that some semblance of normality creeps in.

It annoys me when you see articles about knitting STheSin magazines or on the internet, that they almost always show pictures of women with their needles (never call them pins!) in their hands. It is the same with sewing and embroidery … never men. I recently signed up to an online knitting forum, with the intention expressing my concerns in the area on male knitting. I was more than disappointed when my registration confirmation email, which was addressed to Anthony Huby, started with “Dear Ms …” I’m still awaiting comments on that first post!

Here endeth today’s rant.

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I’m pondering at the moment, as to what software to use to write. I have Microsoft Word, which I tend to use mostly. However, there are a lot of suggestions that I need to write with software that has a cleaner interface. By that I mean not as many ‘whistles and bells’. Something a little plainer. More than a simple text editor such as Wordpad though, and possibly software that is dedicated for writers.

The two top mentioned software applications seems to be Scrivener and yWriter. I found both very confusing to use. Scrivener was a trial version, and had a number of features that were not available, but even so, I found it difficult to understand. yWriter is freeware, but was even more confusing as it tries to concentrate your mind on breaking chapters down into what it calls ‘scenes’.

I have tried both but think I am going to go back to Word. It’s an application that I know quite well and have used for a long (long) time. I’m loathe to pay for more software (don’t like paying for anything if the truth were known) if what I have got does the job.

What do all you writers out there in WordPress land use, and just as importantly, is it free?

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Back to work tomorrow! Not looking forward to it at all. I still feel a little under the weather, but not ill enough to warrant any more time off. Of course, the question I always get asked (we have a ‘return to work interview’) will be “Are you back to 100%?” I’ve not been 100% for many years, I tend to hover around a normal level of around 92%, so the question always winds me up a little.

I’ll get the usual raised eyebrows when I mention I’ve been off with a ‘cold’. These are the same people that would complain if they caught a cold, that “…they got it from ‘so and so’ who has been sneezing all over the place …” Can’t win with a simple cold!See what I mean

We are also starting with a new telephone system tomorrow. It uses Skype for Business as its exchange and means that laptop users, which most of us are, will have to wear a headset, when making or receiving a phone call. I’m expecting to look like an overpaid telephonist (no offence). It is supposed to save the Council. The theory, as I understand it is that as we already use Skype for Business for instant messaging, using it as a phone does not coast any more. Training on the new system seems to be a bit sporadic, but as ‘The Team’ are classed as IT people, I think we are supposed to just get on with it. That part of tomorrow could be quite intriguing.

Just thinking out aloud …


I’ve had a WordPress blog account for a long time now. In fact looking back, it’s been almost ten years since my first post. There has been times when I have thought ‘…is it worth it…’ and ‘…who reads this…’ and there has been the odd time when I have just stopped writing for a couple of months. Basically, could not be bothered! But my anticipated early retirement has started me thinking, that I may have more time on my hands for writing. I am looking to go down the path of ‘creative writing’ with the intention of getting some work published. I not holding my breath on this, but I suppose we have to have a dream of sorts. To this end, I have been considering creating a second blog, which would be dedicated to my (intended) creative writing.

Many moons ago, I had a Blogger account which I was trying to use as a cross-posting blog. The idea was to upload the same post to WordPress and Blogger. It did not really get off the ground, and I abandoned the project after about four posts. There was no easy way of posting the same work to two separate without ‘copy and paste’ which did not work at all.

Over the past week or so, I have attempted to reinvigorate my Blogger account, but it still seems to be a lot more difficult to use than WordPress and the available themes not a patch on those that WordPress have to offer. This leads me to think, that a second WordPress account may be the way forward.

So a decision has to be made, and I think I am close to making that decision. Don’t be surprised if in the next month or so, some my posts have a test link to another WordPress blog.

Have you ever ?


Some time ago, I had a go at recording a Vlog. I think that’s the name for posting a video as a blog post. When I say ‘I had a go’ what I really mean is that I sat in front of my Webcam and tried to make a recording. It was as I expected a total disaster. So much so that it/they got deleted from my computer within minutes of watching it/them back.

I tried two ways of doing the recording. The first attempt was completely off the cuff. I prepared nothing at all and just spoke, as if I was writing. The problem with that method is that unless you are utterly focused you can just clam up. When I’m writing a post, such as this, I often will stop … pour a glass of wine …look at what my wife is watching on TV  and things like that. It never is a straight forward sit and write until it’s done. That doesn’t work with a video, unless you are an expert in video editing.

The second attempt saw me writing out my monologue/rant/story and trying to read as I recorded. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it looked like. Even though I had practised and rehearsed, it just looked like I was a 1950’s newsreader giving the headlines with no auto-cue. So I don’t really think the Vlog is for me. I may willing to have another go sometime in the future, the distant future, but I think I will need a lot of help if I’m to take it at all serious.

So much for writing everyday !


Some time ago, I made the rather rash decision to write at least a few line everyday. That was back in the middle of February, and I had every intention of doing so, even if it meant just a few lines. Well, that didn’t last. Looking back, I think it lasted a grand total of four days!

(Note to self … avoid publishing rash statements.)

Not too much happened since I last posted. Work still continues to be a drag. People not doing what they are asked to do. People expecting too much … I mean how am I expected to know that “those people sat over there” are one team and “those sat over here (except for those two)” are another team. I’ll tell you what, just give me a list of who is in what team and I’ll have a go at working it out. But that’s not the way we work.

Talking of work. I have applied for another job. It is basically similar to what I’m doing now, but I feel it will be a little more structured than the shambles I’m currently used to. I do like structure. I find the sometimes ‘ad-hoc’ nature of the way our team works very difficult at times. What I also have difficulty with these days, is the constant stress of having to learn something new every couple of weeks. What seems to happen frequently is that we are sent on a training course to learn a new application( or product as we now seem to call them) and then we never use what we learn for a few months. This of course means, for me at least, that I have forgotten everything I learned. It’s the old phrase use it or lose it” and it certainly rings true.

Anyway, back to the job application. The closing date was the 3rd May, so knowing the way the Council operates, if I have got an interview I should get to hear by the end of this week, beginning of the next. It will be quite strange if I do get through the selection process. I’ve not had a ‘proper’ interview for years. The past few interviews I have had have all been part of restructures, which really means that you’ve got the job as long as you don’t totally mess up. This one will be out of my comfort zone, should it happen.

I did also apply for a job through the jobs page on LinkedIn. It was a local job, but nothing has come of it and If the truth were known, I didn’t think anything would. It has probably gone to someone already earmarked for the job.

Worrying day, going well …


I was going to have a go at with the new Writing Prompt app today (might still do later) but things that we were expecting to go bad, didn’t. I shall elaborate.

Mrs H*** decide, some time ago, that she wanted the rendering on the outside walls replacing. It has become damaged somewhat, and the last paint job did not work well at all. The issue has DSCF0167been that the paint is flaking off and exposing the ‘bare’ render. It is not a small job and requires that the old render be chipped off and a new render applied. My personal view was P1010864that it just needed the rest of the paint removing and the render skimming. As ‘Master of The House’ I was, of course out voted and we went for the a full re-application. Whatever we had decided on, it meant that the house needed scaffolding erecting. Today was the day that the scaffolders arrived. We were both worried that the noise would upset R***, as because of his Autism, anything out of the ordinary can cause him a problem. He was brilliant, and it did not seem to worry him in the least. He skipped from room to room looking out of every window, just watching everything that was going on.

Then, just we thought that we had cracked it came the the ‘big hit’. One of the guys knocked on the door and explained, that because of the position of our satellite dish and the positioning of the scaffold around it, we would lose the signal. Now whilst (whilst or while … which would you use?) this was a bit inconvenient, me and Mrs H were not too bothered. But R***! He watches (at least it is on all the time) the same programmes every day. From around 8am until 10:30pm it’s ‘Nick Jnr Too’. He then switches to ‘BBC2 NI’ until 8am the next day. This happens all the time he is at home with us. Never changes. So how will he cope with this? He seemed to be okay when he was having his lunch and when he finished, I managed to load up Thomas the Tank Engine DVD. Surprisingly enough, he accepted this without any issue. We were both amazed. He is now on his 4th DVD and has even picked his own choice. This certainly not what we were expecting at all. There is a lot of finger crossing and hoping at the moment, as he could just turn at any time. We will know when  it gets to BBC2 NI time!

Writing prompts – this looks interesting …


For some time now I have struggled to get any kind of inspiration to write. Not just a blog post, but any kind of writing. It’s not writers block as I understand it, it’s just a lack of ideas. I’ve seen many places that will email you random words and/or subjects, but they don’t seem to do anything for me.

Then, while I was waiting to set off this morning, I came across this site: Writing Exercises.co.uk. It is a UK site that offers more that the usual writing prompts. I’ve not had a thorough delve into all its possibilities, but it looks very interesting. It also has an app for Android, but unfortunately no iPhone app.

I’m going to give it a try, and I’ll try and post any resulting pieces of work, that look at least reasonable.

(I don’t think this post will count though ….. )

Just write something …


For the past few weeks, I’ve have been trying figure out what I want this blog to be. What direction I want it to take. Should I have a theme? Should I write about something I know? Whilst I been thinking about this, I’ve also been looking up on the Internet about ‘what makes a good blog.’ There are shed loads of websites that claim to give the best advice to ‘bloggers’ on how to make their blog count. How to make it successful. How to make post go ‘viral.’

However, the one piece of advice that seems to be consistent is ‘Just write!’ Don’t get bogged down with trying to write for others, just write what you want to write. Now, that said, I did try this ‘once upon another blog’ and I don’t think it worked. So I sat down earlier this evening and tried to work out why I write a blog. What motivates me to sit down once a week and tap out the stuff I produce?

Vanity! That is the conclusion I came to. That and a desire to be recognised. A desire to part of a group that people want to listen to. So I have decided that I am not going to change my blog. It is going to what it is. If people want to read it, they will. If not, then why worry. I’m going to continue (or maybe start) being me. Whoever that is!

Let’s give it a go!


Now usually I use a Microsoft Word template to write a post. However, I have decided to install the new WordPress app for Windows. I have tried a number of methods of writing posts since I started this blog. If I remember correctly I first used Windows Live Writer, which I was told was an ideal blogging tool built into Windows. I think there were some problems with that when I upgraded to Win 7.

I then had a go with the WordPress online editor, but did not like the old interface used at the time.

I then began to use Word 2013. We had got a great deal through work, that allowd me to purchase Office 2013 Premium at a much much cheaper cost. I was just using it to compose and then I would cut and paste the text straight into the WordPress editor. It was a bit of a bind, but I was using software I knew (and it has a much needed spell checker.) After a while, I discovered that Word 2013 had it’s own Blog Post template. One try and I was hooked. It was so easy to set-up and use and i have used it eversince with the occasional venture back to the online editor if my laptop was not available.

Back to where I started. I downloaded the app at the beginning of the week and was impressed with the speed of its loading. “Must give this a try!” I said to myself. Well I didn’t actually say anything, but the thought was in my head. For the first attempt, again I am very impressesed. Its simple and clean interface is quite refreshing and the only things I am missing at the moment is a spell checker, and a way to insert a Tab (always like to indent the first line of a paragraph …. old school.) I’ve not attempted an image yet. That is for the next Weekly Photo Challenge.

Does the title count? – #writing 101


“There. It’s done. One hundred word flash fiction” I said.

“Err … actually … it’s a hundred and four” he said, the smile spreading across his face. “Count them. A hundred and four.”

“No, there were ninety-eight until I added the two ‘buts’ and that made one hundred, exactly.” It was my turn to smile.

“You forgot the title” he said. “That’s the extra four.”

“You can’t count the title” I shouted. “It’s not part of the text.”

“It’s still part of the story” he smirked. “So it counts.”

“Bloody challenge” I said. “I hate this stuff. Hate it all.”

Writing and Not Writing – #writing101


What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking?

Well I basically get on with life. Writing is something I do to fill a gap in the day, but it’s not at the top of day-to-day list. The small amount of writing I do is just a hobby. One of a number that do. I’m not such an accomplished writer that it can be anything else but a hobby. One of the reasons for my joining this challenge, was to improve my writing, and I think it is beginning to work.

But I enjoy …….

  • Reading (fiction and non)
  • Walking
  • Social media
  • Listening to music
  • Cooking and eating

Then the more unusual ……

  • Knitting
  • Ironing (clothes)

The rest of the time is spent working, sleeping and coping with life in general.

Sunday Write-Up – August 2015


This is for the August Sunday Write-Up. It’s a couple of weeks late, but at least I eventually did it.

It completely threw him. So much that he ended the call without saying anything. He had no idea why she would say something as stupid as “Hello handsome.” I was not a voice he recognised, and he knew all the receptionists quite well. Since his operation, he had needed regular blood tests, to ensure that his Warfarin was doing its job. It was not just the words that she said, it was the way she said them. It was almost as if she knew him personally. It was quite erotic.

“She must be new” he thought. He tried to picture what she might look like, but knowing the other receptionists well, it proved very difficult.

“I’ll have to go in to the surgery to arrange my test” he said to himself. He knew that they would not be able to test straight away and it would be at least a week later. They would, of course ask why he didn’t telephone. What would he say? How could he explain his rudeness when they asked about his call? It would be all on the phone records. No! There was no way he could go in to book his appointment. He would have to ring again.

He picked his phone up and tapped the Contacts app. The app opened and he tapped ‘D’ into the search screen. It should have found the Drs number straight away, but no! What the search found was an entry called ‘Date Me’.

It then hit him. His brother had used his phone while he was staying with him. His recently divorced brother. The brother who was looking for a ‘friend’.

Update your readers over a cup of coffee – #writing 101


Hmmm, I thought when I saw this. It’s not something I would normally do. Then I decided to ‘think outside the box’ as the saying goes. So this is my imaginary video conversation with an imaginary friend.

“Well hello there. Finally got this video call thing working. Thanks for the help.”

“No, no I was really struggling. I thought I was going to have to get an Apple. I never thought you would have Skype what with FaceTime and that.”

“So how’s the coffee?”

“You’re having tea? I didn’t think you Americans drank tea!”

“Ah. Of course. I had forgotten you were at Uni here.”

“Me. Yeah coffee is good. I bought a new machine last week. I just need to learn how to make anything but espresso.”

“Noooo. I love espresso, but I can’t drink more than two a day”

”I was just going to ask you that.”

“Well a couple of things since the last time I emailed. I’ve been doing more on my blog.”

“I’ve had it a couple of years now. It’s just starting to take off.”

“It’s a WordPress one.”

“Yeah, I tried Blogger but it was bit of a pain to set up.”

“Err … it’s not really about anything in particular. It’s just what I think at the time.”

“Like I say, it’s just beginning to take off properly now.”

“I’m  following a couple of challenges.”

“Yeah, you get a prompt or something like that and you post something that relates to it.”

“I suppose it does do away with the spontaneity, but it has increased my readership and it does kind of force me to do something.”

“So, how’s the family ………….”

This is the point when I thought I had gone on long enough.

Reinvent the letter format – #writing 101


Dear Knees,

I appreciate that you may be feeling a little left out at the moment and I know you’re missing the cod liver oil capsules. However I feel that you may not be aware of the reasons for my discontinuation of that Omega 3 supplement that you so cherish.

I am unsure if Brain actually mentioned this, but in June of last year Heart went through a bit of a traumatic experience. Brain did assure me that the correct signals had been issued, but he is getting on a bit, and may have missed you off the list.

To cut a short story even shorter, Heart had a procedure undertaken in a medical establishment. This procedure meant that Heart had one of his valves (I understand it was a Mitral valve) being replaced or repaired. I am reliably advised that you would have been informed at some point. At the end of the day, the procedure and resulting medications mean that the Omega 3 supplement (that you know as Cod Liver Oil) has had to be withdrawn. Now, I am not aware of the full reason for this, but Mouth says (and this is in Mouths words) that “… it buggers up your INR and messes with the Warfarin …” Eyes had Googled this and it seems that the information is accurate as far as Wikipedia is concerned.

So that is it in a nutshell. In order that Heart keeps up its proscribed function, it needs this Warfarin stuff. For that to work properly, the Omega 3 supplement has to be forgone. I can understand your reluctance to accept this, but I hope you realise that without Heart, your position as Knees are untenable.

Yours sincerely

Body

Hook ’em with a quote – #writing101


“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

“Well,” she asked. “Did you get it?”

She knew the answer before he spoke. “Of course you didn’t. How could you? Dressed like that!”

“Like what? What’s wrong with the way I’m dressed?” he said as he looked down at his feet.

“Cheap. That’s what’s wrong with the way you dress. Cheap and nasty,” she said.

“But this is how I always dress,” he answered. “It’s not cheap. This suit cost nearly a hundred pounds.”

“Like I said … cheap. Tesco’s finest. Off the peg. You’re never going to impress anyone like that,” she said. “These people know that kind of thing.”

She turned away and walked toward the window. She was angry. Angry with him. Angry with herself for letting him be like that. She had told him that the job was important. She hadn’t told him why it was so important. Why that extra £4,000.00 a year raise was important. Then there was the annual bonus … and the car. God how important would a car be now.

“It was just a job,” he said. “I’m not sure I really wanted it in the first place.”

You wanted…” she said. “Not sure that ‘you’ wanted it.” She turned, “Have not even considered what I wanted? What I needed. What ‘we’ needed.”

She walked back to the coffee table and picked up her wine glass.

“Do you know who got it?” she said.

“Daniel,” he replied. “Daniel Lofthouse ….”

“I know who ‘Daniel’ is,” she snapped. “I know his wife. She’ll not let me forget this. It’ll be all over the golf club by the morning.”

“Like I said. It’s only a job. Daniel was always going to be favourite to get it. I didn’t stand a chance really.” He swilled the whisky round in his glass, then drank it down in one.

“God,” she cried, “you simply don’t get it do you? Daniel got the job because of who he is. What he is. How he acts. What he says. What he does. He got the job, because he is Daniel.”

She walked right up to him and looked him straight in the eye.

“Why can’t you be more like him?” she screamed at him.

He turned, and walked to the door. “Because …… because …… I’m not Daniel. I’m me.”