The Obligatory Bake Off One

August 24, 2016


That’s my pick for the winner this year. As the twelve bakers were introduced at the very start of the show, Carole made us pick out our favourite based on pretty much nothing. I picked Selasi, Carole picked Kate. Although she’s changed the rules of the picking game and is now #TeamSelasi… which seems very unsportsmanlike of her.

But having GBBO back on our screens is brilliant.

It’s the television event in our house, in that we have to watch it when it’s on. We can’t watch it recorded because things happen – like Baked Alaska-gate, for example – and people ruin it all for us and we have to have them killed by professional hitmen and that costs money. So we have to watch live – which, in this day and age, is a rare thing and something that pretty much only happens with GBBO (and currently Robot Wars because we’re nerds).

And, it would appear, this year the innuendos are coming thick and fast, which will have the Daily Mail up in arms again. Last year they blasted the show as being disgusting and wotnot, but that was primarily so they could keep complaining about Nadia being in with a chance of winning, what with her being a woman and a Muslim.

And this year, it’s not even all coming from Mel and Sue. Because, like that footage of Howard running from several years ago, it’s going to be hard to forget Kate’s “I like the taste of cox” while innocently discussing the relative merits of apple flavours. Couple that with Candice discussing how she plans to penetrate her cake, and you’re half-way to a Carry On film. And you know what, it’s bloody magical.

If Points Of View still exists I imagine there will be a few “disgusted of somewhere-or-other” letters complaining about all of it. And you know that’s bound to get picked up for The Extra Slice on Friday. If it’s not, then I’m going to be writing a disgusted of Huddersfield letter demanding an explanation!

At the other end of the spectrum, I’m kind of rooting for Val to leave because I’m not sure how many weeks I can put up with her wacky kitchen behaviour like dancing while she cooks and listening to her cakes sing. I appreciate that it is a thing, but it just seems to be one bullet in a fully loaded magazine of kooky grandma in a kitchen that she has up her sleeves. If she spent less time dancing and titting about, she might stand a better chance to get her sugars right.

Anyway, Selasi.

Until next Wednesday, when it all might change.

To Infinity And Beyond

August 23, 2016


That’s the sound of either of us enjoying our new internet speed that is massively faster than it was before. As part of the settling in process, we have been advised to use the broadband as much as is humanly possible – so we are downloading stuff left, right and centre, streaming videos, surfing the net and generally just using it. And some of that is even taking place at the same time, which is practically unheard of up to now.

The one thing I think we can be proudest of, though, is that fact that despite the box that the home hub came in saying that it fits most letterboxes it actually doesn’t fit through ours. Carole had to go and collect it from the Post Office this morning, and we’ve both looked at the box and decided that it totally would fit and it was just the postman being awkward.

But the first thing I did when I got home was try and deliver it to ourselves.

And it wouldn’t go. I was all ready to take a picture of it through the door, sticking out of both sides of the letter box, so that I could tweet it to Royal Mail with a pithy “too large for the letterbox” comment and some disgruntlement that the postman clearly didn’t even try. But it didn’t fit. At all. Not even an insanely tight squeeze. There was just no hope of it fitting through.

So I owe an apology to the post office van jockey who tried to deliver it yesterday for besmirching your good name in any kind of in-house discussions we had last night. I was the heat of the moment and I am a nerd who loves new tech and anything I can attach wires to, so I was stupidly excited.

It was all I could do this morning to stop myself hugging the BT Engineer in the street. I walked past him on my way to the bus stop as he was clearly swapping a connection or two over to super things. I wanted to stop and ask him which line he was swapping over and, probably, had I not been on my way to work I would have done just that. And probably asked him if he could show me all the wires. And other geeky stuff like that.

I’d have had to address the issue of being up and out at 6.30 in a morning and not going to work, but I think it would have been worth it to learn the secrets of the wires.

But as it is I’m like a pig in shit. I’m able to do things I haven’t been able to do before – like download things without setting aside a week to do it, not to mention having to constantly pause it because one of us wanted to send a text message or something.

Ah technology.

Take It Back-tivate

August 22, 2016

There are many times when the phrase “we could do that” passes our lips.

When we dine out somewhere, we’re constantly looking at the food we’ve ordered, the menu or other people’s food to steal, poach, borrow and assimilate flavour combinations, ideas or whatever else to make our own at home – and therefore cheaper – food much better.

Or we’ll see something in a magazine, on TV or, most recently, on someone’s instagram that we think we could steal, borrow from or adapt to suit an idea we’ve had at home. Currently under review are display ideas for Lego figures and a kind of washing line, with pegs, to hang photos from.

But last night the phrase came at a time when I didn’t expect it. At all. It came out of nowhere and is based on a collection of experience, between the two of us, that amounts to just slightly less than feck all. But still, the phrase is out there. “We could do that…” was uttered.

Not by me, I hasten to add. Because I don’t believe we could. But Carole, very much a modern day Pollyanna, thinks it could.

When she said “we could do that” we were watching Robot Wars. A show about battling robots, built by hobbiests to kick the living crap, artificially speaking, out of each other. A show to which Carole is a recent convert. A show she still hasn’t actually got the gist of yet.

But she’s all for us building a robot.

I know nothing abour robot building. Well, I know a very tiny anount based on the fact that I used to get a robot-building part work magazine thing with which I built a bit of a robot. It worked, I just never saw it past tracking lines on a piece of paper.

Unless she’s kept it very quiet, which is extremely unlikely, I’m fairly sure Carole has never built a robot either. Or has any sort of real-life workable knowledge of electronics.

So we could do that. If we had the requisite skills, knowledge or design skill.

Which we don’t. By the bucket load.

Bye In The Sky

August 21, 2016

We’re due to change broadband providers in two days so, obviously, every slight discrepancy, loss of signal or slightest untoward flicker from the current router and we’re sure it’s Sky not giving a shit anymore.

We probably wouldn’t feel like that if they hadn’t sent us a slightly aggressive leaving letter. But, you know, they did. So it’s clear that they’re quite put out by all this.

The letter, which we received about a day after swapping providers reminds us of Sky’s award-winning broadband and how we’re clearly fools for turning our back on it. It doesn’t say what award it won. I could probably go online and look, but the broadband speed is so slow that the picture of it would just download line by line.

The broadband’s currently off at the moment. I’m sure it’s for some purely legitimate reason and not because one of the Sky boffins has got a bit trigger happy with our leaving date.

I mean if I was Sky and I wanted to rub our faces in it, I’d go out of my way to up the speed as much as possible for the final forty-eight hours, giving us blisteringly fast download speeds without the need to see Usain Bolt dancing, and then send us sn email on Tuesday entitled “ha ha” which is just a picture of Nelson from the Simpsons.

And then just unplug us from the award-winning broadband. That we’ve had for years and have nearly finished downloading a movie on…

Pasta Point Of No Return

August 20, 2016

I go back to work on Monday after a couple of weeks of relaxation, stately homes, gardens, the 1900s and whatever else I have done.

And so it stands to reason that this weekend would be the peak weekend for productivity in the household.

I tackled the wires behind the TV, and I tackled them good. I know things now that I didn’t know before. Like, for example, that if you were a spider in the Huddersfield area and you were thinking that your time on this Earth was running short, you would make your way to our TV stand and die amongst the wires. I could have stood upon the bodies of the dead and proclaimed myself their destroyer, there were so many.

And the wires were in an awful mess, somehow. You could see where I have adopted the lazy approach to moving items – not unplugging and rewiring them, but just moving them as is, so that all the wires criss-crossed like I was weaving a carpet in a loom. And trying to trace them – because, of course, they’re all black – from start to finish was like one of those puzzles you used to get in kids puzzle books all the time where you have to work out which of the twisty lines takes you from the start to the prize at the end.

That’s as well as wondering what the hell you were thinking when you’ve used an ethernet cable that’s at least five metres long to cover a distant of less than  a fifth of that. You’re already creating the start of an epic tangle/spider graveyard right there, with hardly any effort. I can still see the wire now, taunting me from the edge of the unit as it’s still in situ until I can face a rummage through my wire collection for something of a more suitable length. Because there will be one. There are cables of almost all imaginable lengths. And some that are entirely unimaginable as well. I cater to all.

What tidying all the wires did lead to, though, is a complete reshuffle of the furniture in the front room. A task usually set aside for when you have something you really should be doing but have, instead, chosen to procrastinate by putting yourself in a situation that you just can leave until you’ve completely sorted it out. Which is, I believe, how Houdini got into escapology – he had something that needed doing to meet a deadline and just as he was about to get on with it started wondering if he could escape from being chained up. The rest is history.

I also now know that a piece of dried macaroni is the hardest thing to get out of an original model Dyson vacuum cleaner, and that each time you think it is out it will taunt you by rattling around in the dust cylinder.

And that when you have got it out, you still hear phantom rattles.

Damn that macaroni.


What’s In A Name? Some Letters That Shouldn’t Be…

August 19, 2016

I took in a parcel for next door today. Noisy, annoying, feral next door. Not lawns mowed and patio washing next door. I take in a lot of parcels for next door during my time at home on Wednesdays, so it was nice to mix it up a bit this week and get one on Friday instead.

The parcels are, for the most part, delivered by the same guy. A tiny asian man who looks a little bit like Ben the Boffin from when Ben the Boffin was a thing on The Big Breakfast. He comes to the door and knocks feebly, and always looks surprised when the door is answered.

He then, always, apologetically says it’s a parcel for next door. Almost as if he knows that next door really annoy me and there’s a seventy percent chance that I’ll hold onto the parcel as some sort of ransom until I’m allowed to smash the living daylights out of their stereo system or at least snap off the volume knob.

So I take the parcel in. I always take the parcel in. I don’t think anyone’s actually ever not taken a parcel in for a neighbour, have they? It’s not something you say no to. Because then you look like a complete and utter dick. And no-one wants that.

And then he asks for my surname. Now, my surname is unusual, I will grant you. Well, up here it’s unusual. Down in Swanage, we’re 10-a-penny and it’s somewhere my dad had wanted to go back to, so we’ll probably make some sort of pilgrimage at some point. Anyway, my surname. It’s eight letters long. And very repetitive. Of those eight letters, six of them are made of three letters. It’s just the vowels that change.

I say it. I spell it. I never just say it because people hear it and freak out. So I spell it out. Again, it’s not hard.

But the parcel guy, he takes the Subway sandwich artist approach to the whole thing – that is to say, you just throw things at it and whatever sticks is what you get. So every time he stabs letters on his little digital doodah and every single time I’ve been given an entirely different name. Always almost right, but never completely right. I didn’t even think there were that many variations to my name – despite the best efforts of my school years to prove otherwise. And the database at the opticians. And probably a load of other things.

Including, and this is my favourite, the wedding certificate of my grandma and grandad on my dad’s side.

So maybe I’m wrong and the parcel guy is right. Occasionally.


The Wire

August 18, 2016

We’re swapping over internet providers next week in the hope that we will have access to a service which will allow both of us to be online, and maybe even one of us downloading something, at the same time without grinding to a shuddering halt.

So, in preparation for all that shenanigans – which, of course, is scheduled to take place on a work day – my mind has drifted to wires, wiring and how many different devices will need to be re-registered.

I’ve had a to make a list. And even then I’m not convinced I’ve got everything. I’m sure something else will come out of the woodwork later that I really should have realised. Like my phone or something. Hang on… no, no my phone is on the list.

So yes. Wires.

There are a couple of things that are currently on wired connections. And that will probably stay on wired connections moving forward. But as anyone who has been near any sort of wire could tell you, left unattended they form into what my father used to affectionately refer to as a bunch of bastards.

I have a packet of cable ties – purloined, this may surprise you, from a mammoth supply of them in my dad’s garage and the intention is to tidy everything up before next week so that the whole changeover is smooth and easy.

The thing is, I’m scared to even look.

I know that I ran all the cables neatly, but even a cursory glance over the top of the Sky box, or round the back of the TV shows me that my cables are no longer neat. That they have become entwined in such a way that to pull one is to pull them all. And, somewhere along the line, they have completely assimilated the sensor bar for the Wii. It’s no longer on top of the TV, and I’m willing to bet it’s entangled in a wiry prison, much like someone trying to run through a sentient forest may become ensnared in the roots of an evil tree.

I know I have to do it though. I should do it. I owe it to the wires. I owe it to myself. Neat wires brings a happy home. And, usually, a discovery shortly afterwards that you’d tied one up so that it’s just slightly too short for what you need it for even though it was perfectly fine when you did it.

Because that’s what wires are like.

Just the thought of it makes me shudder.

I might tackle it tomorrow.

If you haven’t heard from me by Saturday, send help.


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