Arriva Derci

September 30, 2016

As I come to the end of my current job, with only six or seven more weeks of work left, I think I’ve become more accepting of the fact that it’s ridiculously hard to get home from Leeds, by bus, on a Friday.

Every other day of the week it’s fine. Days when I finish later I get home earlier than the one day a week I finish earlier because, for some reason, Arriva just drop the ball on a Friday.

And that ball contains most, if not all, of the buses to Huddersfield.

Which is just a tad annoying when you want to get to your home which happens to be just off the bus route, in Huddersfield.

But where once I would be kicking and screaming and tearing my hair out, I am now an island of calm in a sea of serenity. I don’t let it phase me. As the digital display counts down to the arrival of a Huddersfield bus only for it to vanish into the ether when it hits “Due” I just give my head a little shake and a wry smile crosses my face. It’s as though I’ve been told a joke to which I already knew the punchline. But it’s a joke that’s so predictable as to be strangely comforting.

I’m not sure I want to live in Overton, Wakefield, or Liversedge. Knowing that whatever the digital display claims the reason for the delays to be, that I would not be affected. Yesterday was the first bus stop closure for wind of the autumn-winter season and it didn’t even bother me one jot that I hoofed it through Leeds to the bus station only for the bus to drive to, and stop at, the closed stop just next to work. I’m a changed man. I’ve found my inner peace with the whole thing.

There’s no point fighting against the universe because the universe can fight back, especially on a Friday.

I’m going to miss standing for an hour, watching people come to the bus stop and leave on their bus, like I’m watching a time lapse film of the life cycle of an ecosystem through the seasons. People come and people go, and the one constant is me. Waiting for a bus that might take me further than Mirfield (one of the preferred alternative destinations of a Huddersfield bus) so that I can nestle in the loving bosom of my family and watch things from the Sky Planner.

I’m going to miss tweeting their customer services, only for them to feign any knowledge of the fact that they were cutting buses left right and centre and say that they need me to fill in an online form so they can investigate further. Not that I ever do that, because I just want them to know how shit they are. If they can’t improve without my guidance then how can they improve at all?

I started this year saying that 2016 was going to be better. And then I got made redundant, and my dad died. And so it got worse.

It’s good to see, though, that some things remain consistent.


I’m A Real Boy

September 29, 2016

Do you remember when Zayn Malik quit One Direction. Or 1D, as the cool kids call it. He quit and just wanted to be a normal 22-year old? You must remember that. Because it was a defining moment of the current society we live in. Someone willing to turn their back on the trappings of fame, and escape the celebrity limelight, to live a normal life. Usually it’s entirely the other way round.

Yeah, he said he wanted to go and live his life as a normal 22-year old.

So why the bloody hell is he in the paper all the sodding time?

This morning he was in the Metro saying that he doesn’t want to be caught up in the celebrity lifestyle – so, again, seeming to want to go against the grain when it comes to people snatching at the fifteen minutes. And then, in the next sentence, he really hoped his next song would be as good as the last one because he didn’t want to be a one hit wonder.

You know, like all normal people do. Like a traditional, I don’t know, 23-year old (?) would.

I think, in the future, Zayn Malik will be remembered for being famous while constantly sayng he didn’t want to be famous to further the fame that he didn’t want apart from the fame for his songs which were all as good as the last one because he couldn’t be a one-hit wonder as that’s not a proper celebrity. Or something.

I reckon in twenty years he’ll be older and saggier, and his tattoos will look like someone’s drawn on a balloon that has since gone down slightly. And he’ll still be saying he doesn’t want to be famous, and he just wants to live his life like a normal forty-something year-old man.

I mean, he’s the only person I have come across who has posted a picture of himself on a secluded beach, ostensibly taking a walk to find himself or some sort of bollocks like that, but has had someone else go along to the secluded beach and take it for him. You know, like an normal 22 year old would do.

And he occasionally complains that the other members of One Direction don’t talk to him anymore. Not that he’s bothered, of course, because he’s living the life of a normal 20-something man now. He doesn’t need all that nonsense. But if you give him a chance to talk about it, he will certainly mention it.

I went to the cubs once when I was younger. Or scouts. Or something. One of the woggle cults, certainly. I only went once. And then I left because I wanted to live the life of a normal child and not one roped into packing people’s shopping just so I could have a badge to stitch on my sleeves. I don’t complain that the other members of the scouts don’t talk to me, or bring it up at every possible opportunity. But I imagine it’s a lot like leaving One Direction.

And I’m sure that when I open the paper tomorrow Zayn will be in there. He’ll be having some sort of crisis again when he doesn’t want to be famous but still wants to be famous. It almost makes me yearn for the heady days of the constant scrutiny of Cheryl Cole’s love life.


The Sixth Obligatory Bake Off One

September 28, 2016

Or “The naffest themed week they have ever come up with.”

Since last week’s Bake Off I’ve been working on the assumption that there were two sacrificial lambs in the tent – two contestants who would, for the next two weeks, be the ones leaving the show. That gave a bit of breathing room when it came to the people who I want to stay in the tent.

One sacrificial lamb went tonight. And the other one chuffing upped his game after last week’s performance. So, I think, both lambs are out of commission in one week – something which I hadn’t really counted on.

There were moments of tonight’s show when I genuinely thought that my favourite PE teacher since I was at school was going to head home. Especially when  she produced her meringue that you could have carried home on a dark night and known that the car headlights would reflect off of it. It wasn’t until the halfway point when Paul was saying that it was the lads in trouble that I could breathe a little easier.

Although that did mean that Selasi was in trouble – and he’s been my tip since week one. Carole, this week, announced that if Selasi goes she’ll stop watching the show, so at one point I was making plans for watching the show in future weeks spread out on the couch with my feet up all by myself.

Those dreams went the way of the lambs, and brought the mint sauce with them.

The technical this week was a bunch of fougasse. Leaf shaped bread, which Tom – Carole’s new hate figure since Kate has gone (“I hate it when he doesn’t make stuff like everyone else because he has to be different”) – says is his favourite cinema snack. I have no idea what cinemas he goes to, but if the price of popcorn is anything to go buy then fancy-assed bread is going to be properly expensive. And if he freshly makes it before he goes then I feel sorry for his friends:

“Hey Tom, do you fancy going to the cinema tonight?”
“Aww mate, I would love to but it depends what time the film is, I need at least an hour and a half to prove my fougasse…”
“Ponce.”

I’ll be honest, though. I did like the look of it, so I will be kneading to make some soon.

Ah, bread puns.

They always get a rise out of me.


Creature Feature

September 27, 2016

For most of last night, my laptop was engaged in a series of updates. According to the blurb as the spinning wheel spun and the percentage moved very, very slowly, my laptop would restart several times. I never saw it restart, but I will assume it did as that’s the only explanation for the minimal movement of the completion status.

This evening when I turned it on and logged in, it started to apply the new updates to my profile and encouraged me to click on the “Get Started” app from the Start menu to explore the new features.

Which I dutifully did.

And, I have to say, I couldn’t get as excited about being able to communicate with Cortana from the log in screen as the woman who voiced the video, but hey it’s a new feature. In fact most of the features the disembodied voice told me about were, in some way, Cortana related. If I search in Microsoft Edge, Cortana will provide images to match my search. That’s useful, I’m sure. I mean, I don’t use Edge and Google shows images anyway, but yaay for Cortana doing that. Surely now she has that sort of power she’s only a few updates away from flying the Pillar of Autumn and battling the Covenant.

Anyway, I watched the update video. I was impressed with the fact I could draw on sticky notes, if I was so inclined and/or had the correct hardware to do it.

I was less impressed by the end of the short video when the voice said “And there are plenty more new features, why not explore and find them yourself?”

I like to be told new features. I love to read patch notes. Or be shown a visual representation of those patch notes. I don’t want to be set free to click about, like a blind man in a castanet factory, trying to find something that might be new. I don’t use enough of the features of Windows 10 to know what’s new. But if you actually told me what was new there might be something that appeals to me, or fills a need that I have for a very specific thing.

But I’ll never know that.

I suppose I could search out the patch notes. I could track them down somewhere and find out exactly what has been added. But I shouldn’t have to. I should be told what’s new. I don’t want to be playing spot the difference with a previous operating system build, having no idea how many differences I’m even looking for.

It would appear, from the video at least, that Microsoft think I’ll be at my happiest being able to get at cat pictures without even needing to log in.

Hmm, now I’ve written it like that it does sound like a good idea.


A Man Of Many, Many Words

September 26, 2016

There is a man who sometimes shares the same bus home as me. This man is one of those people who likes to have what many would consider to be conversations best had in private on the phone, on the bus. Loudly.

Loud enough for his conversations to penetrate the soundtrack to whatever it is I’m currently watching on my Kindle. The sort of loud where you can’t help but listen.

The first time I encountered him he was having a heated debate about a three hundred pound paypal payment which had been done in error, or to a fraudster or something. He basicalky berated whoever was at the other end of the phone for nearly thirty minutes because he needed that money to pay his car insurance or something. And then, having ranted and raved for thirty minutes he accused whoever was on the phone of being obsessed with the money. He, he said, wasn’t bothered about it all.

So that, obviously, triggered my memory to create a vocal recognition routine, so that if I ever heard him again I would instantly recognise his voice and become more attentive.

Tonight, his phone call consisted of him explaining the reasons why he is staying with his partner. You may not be surprised to hear that they weren’t deep and meaningful. He wasn’t staying with her for her, or because he loved her. He wasn’t staying because of the kids. He was staying because he didn’t want to be lonely.

I’m no relationship expert. But the offchance you might feel lonely if you split up doesn’t sound like the most solid foundation for a couple to build upon. And how chuffed must his offspring feel, having a dad that sticks around so he’s got someone to chat to rather than for any deep rooted affection.

I hope he’s on the bus tomorrow…


Going The Extra Miles

September 25, 2016

We’ve been to see Miles Jupp at City Varieties tonight and he was, as ever, incredibly funny. And the City Varieties was as beautiful as ever and it was all just rather lovely, really – Radio 4 audience and all.

But a few hours earlier it looked as if we wouldn’t be going. A few hours earlier we were both in that kind of stage where you want to go, you want the prize at the end of it, but you can’t be arsed with the process of getting there. Like getting the toy out a Kinder Egg. You want that, but you don’t necessarily want to eat the chocolate.

For us, it was the faff of getting ready and going to Leeds. Especially as we were both filled to the gunnels with food from a late lunch/early dinner “grill up” (like a fry up but, you know, grilled) and were quite happy just letting our food babies slowly digest in our stomachs while enjoying the complete absence of any sort of gansta rap or otherwise shit music coming through the walls of next door.

I mean, we totally made the right decision in going because a) we’d paid for it and b) it was a really, really good show but honestly, who books things in Leeds for a Sunday night? What sort of idiot would do that. Clearly this sort. And the sort that’s currently upstairs sleeping soundly after a warming mug of Freddo hot chocolate (she’s a grown adult, ladies and gentlemen).

In a parallel universe somewhere, there’s a parallel us who didn’t go and see Miles Jupp tonight. They stayed home instead and streamed the last five episodes of Lucifer off of Amazon (because that is totally what we would have done) in just their pants while wondering why they had that grill up in the middle of the afternoon, other than it afforded them a perfect binge watching viewing window uninterrupted by the need to eat an evening meal. I’m sure parallel us had a lovely time doing that and, annoyingly, they’re now further ahead with Lucifer than we are so hopefully we don’t bump into them otherwise spoilers, sweetie.

I’m sure they had fun. But we had fun too. Fun at the show. Fun at Carole’s shock and horror that all the shops were closed on a Sunday evening. Just shock at the fact that the McDonalds that used to be a Wendy’s about twenty years ago no longer exists. It’s too much to hope that the Wendy’s could come back, I suppose. And fun because watching a man far, far older than his years raving about all butter shortbread and what a man from Lincolnshire would make of his current show is the perfect antidote to having to listen to your neighbour’s shit music for two and a half fucking hours.

I bet the parallel us don’t get that.


Stop ‘n’ List

September 24, 2016

Smartphones are wonderful things. They keep you connected to everyone and everything. Anything you want to do, there’s an app for that. They’re not wonderful if you standing in front of the sandwiches in Tesco jabbering away on one, but that’s more of a reflection on the man than on the phone.

They are amazing things.

One of the apps available for human consumption is “Todoist” which is a to do list, but without the l for reasons that are not inherently clear. This is now the app of choice for Carole to compile her lists of things that need to be done.  I more or less had to download the app as I was receiving emails telling me that I had been selected to carry out certain jobs around the house which I knew nothing about, had not agreed to or negotiated any sort of terms in connection with them.

One of the jobs I had been selected for – a fun task involving the cat flap – led to me receiving several snotty emails saying that the work I should have carried out was overdue and that I really should get around to it. “This item is one day overdue”, “This item is two days overdue”, “This item is three days overdue”.

You get the idea.

Carole has always liked a good list. She makes to do lists that include “make a to do list” as an item so that she can immediately tick it off because, you know, yaay. But somehow giving her access to an electronic one, especially one she can just assign me tasks, has created a monster.

Albeit a well organised one.