June 24, 2017

Mum asked us to pick up a few bits of shopping for her this week so, you know, she doesn’t starve to death or anything.

One of the things she asked for was a loaf of bread.

So, naturally, rather than buy her a loaf, I’ve made her far too many bread rolls for one woman with a tiny appetite. I think she’ll thank me for them.

What makes the whole thing even better than just completely ignoring mum’s requests – I stopped short of copying the TV guide from the Sky box and bought her a TV guide though – is that the rolls I have made fit in no vessel we have here.

I’ve had to put them in a large bowl and cling-film the top. Which, obviously, is exactly how I would present them on Bake Off. Beautifully shaped, uniform rolls stuffed into a mixing bowl.

I used a packet mix for the bread – only because it’s multiseed and life’s too short to source small amounts of anything with the word “seed” in it. While I was shopping for said mix, I noticed that Paul Hollywood – the king of all baked goods – has a selection of bread doughs available.

One is the “white plaited roll mix”.

Yeah, exactly my friends. Exactly.

This mix is for making plaited rolls.

Because it’s an easy mix, I assume that any roll you make plaits itself. I assume there’s none of the 4 over 1 or whatever it is.

It’s not so much a plaited roll mix as just a white bread mix with instructions on the back as to make a plaited loaf.

It’s the baking equivalent of tartan paint.

But supermarkets are filled with stuff like that. I have a soft spot for Sainsbury’s “outdoor bred pork pies.” Because there’s no finer sight in nature than that of a family of pork pies (collective term: buffet) running free, enjoying the sunshine warming their pastry and setting their jelly aquiver.

I’d love to be a pork pie farmer. Sending out the collie to round them up, getting some of the little ones ready for market in picnic season, fattening up the larger ones nearer Christmas.

It must be very rewarding.

Dread And Shoulders

June 23, 2017

I spent twenty minutes earlier fighting with the Sainsbury’s online checkout. To the point where I was thinking that doing the shop in person might be preferable.


One item in the shop – a bottle of shampoo – was preventing me from checking out. Not an age restricted item like wine, or a potentially dangerous item like a knife.

A bottle of medicated shampoo.

The shampoo was available with a discount, but when it came to check out the shop the discount no longer applied. It applied when I did the original order yesterday, all I’d done was go on and order some hilariously age-inappropriate spaghetti shapes for Carole.

The offending iten offered two choices – I could keep it anyway, and stand any price change, or remove it from the shop.

Except that keeping it put me in a cycle where I would be told the shampoo wasn’t on special and did I want to keep it.

If I removed it, the next page of the checkout screen advised me that, amongst things we regularly order, I had not ordered any shampoo. If I added it back on… well, you get the idea.

What made it worse was that the promotion that had run out, and thus caused all this kerfuffle, hadn’t run out. I could see it with my own eyes. I had until the middle of next week to snap up as many 80p savings as I could manage. Not online, obviously, because then the internet got really hot and melted a little.

I tried to trick it by ordering the child’s version (same stuff but there’s a face on the bottle) and the men’s version (same stuff but in a rugged black bottle – like an anti-dandruff batmobile) but to no avail.

However, I know the way my luck works. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shopping arrives tomorrow and in it there are six bottles of shampoo – sone normal, some kid’s, some men’s) because of aome hitherto unknown glitch on the Sainsbury’s website.

Maybe it’s North Korea. Fresh off the back of bringing the NHS to its knees, they’ve set their sights on messing with shampoo orders on a popular supermarket website. It’s not beyond the realm of extreme possibility and if you wanted to bring a civilisation down, that’s where you’d start.

Hit them where it hurts.

Hair care.

The Last Knight

June 22, 2017


They’re barely even robots in disguise nowadays. They’re mainly robots, only transforming to vehicles to get to places. In fact, everyone knows who they are. The whole “in disguise” thing is dead in the water. They should rebrand as “robots who are sometimes cars or planes or some shit.” It doesn’t scan into the song as well, but it gets the message across.

Oh and The Last Knight is bollocks. As one character says in the film, “It’s all horse-shit.”

The Transformers are wanted, hunted and generally killed by a Transformer hunting force consisting of some soldiers and some knock-off AT-STs from Star Wars. Optimus Prime is floating through space to meet his maker, and everything has gone to shit. Because you can’t get anything done without Optimus. Even though, let’s be honest, Bumblebee does all the work.

Oh and, of course, Transformers were the power behind King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

You know, like I said, horse-shit.

The film spends a long time on pre-amble, during which Optimus Prime turns bad but doesn’t pop up again until near the end in an anti-climactic fight, after which he snaps out of being bad and promises never to betray anyone again, which is accepted without a missed beat by everyone who – mere seconds ago – wanted to kill him.

The Last Knight of the title might be Marky Mark (without his funky bunch) or it might be Optimus. It’s probably Optimus. Because isn’t everything. But it’s not like The Last Knight is the last because there are twelve others – and always had been if you knew where to look.

Oh and after riding a dinosaur in the last movie, he sweeps in on a three-headed dragon this time.

See, horse-shit.

The film jumps between so many locales because it has so many plot strands that it ties together to form what my father would call a bugger’s muddle. It also brings back characters from earlier movies – mainly pointlessly – and introduces a new character in the form of a girl orphaned following a Decepticon attack who is in the film, but doesn’t really do anything. Except have a BB-8-esque non-transforming Transformer sidekick, purely to do one important thing.

And Anthony Hopkins says “dude.”


And when you think it’s all done, with Optimus Prime’s end-of-film monologue planting the seed for the next installment, there’s a post-credits scene to water that seed in.

Sorry, not post credits, because they couldn’t trust anyone would stick around to see it.

It’s post-one-credit.

I know, right?


Mad Mum

June 21, 2017

I think, for some reason, being temporarily without a house phone is driving my mum mad.

Or madder, I suppose.

On the plus side, though, she definitely seems to be getting better at sending texts again. They have spaces in and everything now, it’s all good.

Basically, I’ve received several texts today – all unsolicited – saying that the phone line hasn’t been fixed yet. Which I already know because I’ve looked on the fault tracker. She also sent me a text saying she’d had a text from BT saying to check the fault tracker for any updates. I didn’t dare tell her there were no updates.

One of the last ones this afternoon was a complaining one about there being nothing to do. Which now has me worrying about how much my mum uses the phone normally. Does she dial chatlines?  How has it restricted her doing things?

I daren’t ask.

As far as I know, mum has two phone calls to make. Neither are particular urgent or time consuming. And certainly not worth getting frustrated about not being able to make them. I think, though, it’s like how, during a power cut, all you want to do is use electrical things. It’s the removal of the ability to do the thing that makes it frustrating.

And mum being mum has come back from her holiday raring to tick things off a to do list. And top of that list are phone calls.

One of which might lead to a nightmare involving re-homing my grandma in a nursing home rather than a care home. But the thought of that trauma, and how frustrated it will make mum, is something I’m not ready for yet. Mum’s already decided that the old dragon, to use one of her many pet names, has cursed us and that’s why the phone doesn’t work.

I hope curses aren’t listed in the reasons we have to pay for the mending…

Dustin’ Off, Man

June 20, 2017

Today was impromptu visit to my mum’s house day as I received a text first thing this morning saying that the house phone wasn’t working.

What makes this worse is that it was probably only about ten minutes after my sister – who had taken my mum to Glasgow for a week – had left to return back across the border.

I did a line test from here to see if there was a fault, which there was, but then – of course – there’s the catch. BT are more than happy to fix any fault, but if the fault lies on your property and is the result of things like trees, damp, corrosion, aliens and magic they will charge you £130. I mean, there’s no two ways about it, mum needs to have a working landline up there as the phone signal is shite at the best of times on most mobile networks. And, you know, she’s 70 now and on the wrong side of having had a stroke. We need to be able to get in touch with her…

… but we also don’t want to be in a position where I’m called out BT for a fault and it turns out that all we needed to do was plug something in somewhere.

So I took myself over to mum’s with a spring in my step and some generic muttering in my lungs and carried out all the tests that any self-respecting call centre would ask you to do while they waited on the phone. Or, to put it bluntly, I plugged the phone into the test socket to see what would happen.

Which was nothing.

Confirming that the fault was definitely a fault and that I could have pulled the trigger on it from the comfort of my own couch without any of the faff of getting dressed and going to Halifax.

Mum, though, is now worried that she needs to dust her sockets. As though that is the cause of the problem or that the BT engineer will, when he comes to ensure everything is tickety-boo, will recoil in horror at the general level of neglect the top of the phone socket has suffered.

If I’d known that was the issue I’d have mentioned it on the online chat with the call centre. At the bit when they ask if there’s anything else they can help with I could have chipped in with something about the dust, just to get an expert’s opinion on these things. You know, just to reassure my mother.

Bless her.


June 19, 2017

Apparently I’m getting to the age where my childhood is dying off. Batman went last week and now it’s Brian Cant.

I mean, come on guys.

I liked Brian Cant. I liked it when he popped up on Play School. But I loved it when he presented Bric-A-Brac.

Bric-A-Brac was a children’s show set in a shop filled with all manner of nick-nacks and, well, bric-a-brac. As far as I can remember, each episode was themed around a letter of tge alphabet – like a pre-pubescent QI – and Brian’s character, as the shop keeper, would bring out a series of items beginning with that letter.

The thing I loved though – and I mean really loved – were the little mechanical toys he’d bring out. A show without a mechanical toy was a Bric-A-Brac not worth knowing.

One that stuck with me – in much the same way as the chocolate biscuit factory from Bagpuss – was a wind-up model of two trams/cable car type things that ran up and down an incline on rails. As one went up, the other went down.

I found it endlessly fascinating.

So much so that I still remember them now, painted green, chugging up and down. And I remember always hoping, as the show started, with its theme tune made of of plunks, plonks, plinks and boings, that it would be that particular episode. Just so I could see then again.

I think, probably, Bric-A-Brac is the reason why I can’t resist having a go with anything interactive. You give me a button to press, handle to turn or crank to wind and I will do it.

And, even now, I’ll probably still get a sense of joy from it akin to watching Brian Cant wind up a novelty money box or an automaton that would somersault. Or, of course, two box cars going up and down a mountain.

I miss those simpler times…

Reading The Shows

June 18, 2017

You know when you get into reading a series of books and then you can’t get hold of one and it’s really frustrating. Even though you don’t need to read them in order as they don’t tie in other than to introduce the next book at the end of each one.

Yeah, that.

Now, this is not to say I can’t get the book. I could, if I wanted to spend thirty quid on a paperback from the 1930s, rather thab the 3-4 pounds of Kindle money.

Welcome, my friends, to the world of Perry Mason.

I thought I’d read the books and try them out. And I enjoy them. Well, the two of them I’ve read.

Because the third one is where everything comes crashing down.

The Kindle versions seem to exist for every case for the legal eagle aside from the third one. For me, at the moment, there is no case of the lucky legs. All I have is a tantalising hint involving a picture of a girl in a short skirt with long legs and a telegram from a mysterious woman, received at the end of the Case Of The Sulky Girl (true fact).

And without a thirty quid outlay, no way to enjoy it.

I could, I suppose, leap straight to the Case Of The Howling Dog but it feels naughty. Like I’m cheating somehow. Although Howling Dog was the first story adapted as a film so maybe there is some precident there, somewhere. If I can live with myself.

Still, at least we’re doing better than The Saint, the adventures of Simon Templar, which start with book 2.

Maybe I’ll have to go back to Lovejoy and see how many women he’s punching for no real reason whatsoever. Other than that literature Lovejoy is a twat, rather than the loveable rogue television led us to believe.

I suppose I could try the library but with all the funding cuts they’re more likely to be the ones selling the Perry Mason books at thirty quid a chuck than letting anyone borrow them…