Volume 3 – Chapter 273: Anything Else?

It never rains but it pours…

The bathroom is in the final stages (in theory) of being completed.

The broken washing machine is now, thanks to Google, back to fine form without any monetary outlay.

And now the phone line has died on its arse, taking both telephonic communication and the wonders of the internet with it. Which means that I am, basically, connected to the internet at the moment using a device I have made out of some spare forks and a piece of an old saucepan. I saw them make a radio like this in similar fashion on Rough Science once, so I figure it will work as a temporary modem.

Ok, it’s not two forks and a bit of saucepan, it’s a 3 Mobile dongle. So it is more or less is the forks and saucepan thing.

It’s like being in the dark ages at the moment. Albeit a dark ages in which we can do everything we used to be able to do anyway but now can’t tell anyone about it on Facebook or Twitter.

Carole told me that the phone wasn’t working via the medium of text. In fact not even a text, a picture of the phone upon which the words “Check Tele Line” were displayed. I don’t know if any of you have ever been in a position where you’re trying to provide some sort of rudimentary tech support from the upper deck of a bus with someone who texts you the words “There’s a lot of wires. Too many wires. I don’t know what I’m doing” when you haven’t even asked them to do anything near any wires, but it’s not the easiest of things to do. Especially when you find yourself in a position of having to word your text messages back in a way that won’t mean that by the time you get off the bus you’re no longer in a relationship.

I knew I should have taken it as an omen when I went to read my Kindle on the way home and it was flatter than a bottle of coke that’s been left open since the dawn of time.


Volume 3 – Chapter 272: That’s Not My Area Of Expertise. I’m Afraid!

Everyone loves those survival shows, don’t they? Whether it’s Ray “I helped track down Raoul Moat” Mears, Bear Grylls or the one with the woman who used to do the Channel 5 news, everyone loves to sit down and watch other people make a shelter in a tree and hunt down squirrels for food. Or, in Ray Mears’ case, make a lovely meal with some grated cheese he happened to have in his rucksack while Bear Grylls has – conveniently – everything he could possibly need to survive conveniently washed up on the nearest coastline. Oh, and the other one will have some tampons to use as kindling.

So, it was with that kind of enthusiasm that I watched a bit of Discovery Channel’s latest offering, Naked and Afraid.

As you might gather from the title, it involves placing people who are naked in situations in which they are afraid. Which, for most people, would be in any of the myriad of “naked in a public place” dreams that they have, but in this instance it was on an island in the Maldives with no food and no water.

Two survival experts, one male and one female, are dropped off, naked, and have to survive using just their wits for 21 days. The hook being, of course, that the human body can survive without food for that long but if they can’t find water then they’re buggered. Will they do it, or will the camera crew just finish up filming two desiccated skeletons? I know I couldn’t wait to find out.

This is what happened on the bits I saw:-

The male survival expert, being such an expert at survival, got really bad sunburn and had to lie under a bush for four days while the female expert did everything she could to find water, food and clothing for them both (I say clothing – she found a bin bag and two odd flip-flops). And the sunburnt male was so thankful for all this that he just complained about everything she did. Saying that all the coconuts she had collected by climbing to the top of a stupidly high tree were not providing enough liquid for his drinking needs and generally belittling everything she did. But then she wasn’t the colour of a cooked lobster because she didn’t cover up or shelter her naked body at the height of the day.

Oh, and then the woman was put out of action by menstrual cramps, which meant that the chappy had to overcome his sunburn and do some stuff himself. Which he could do, he said, as long as nothing touched him.

Like, say, all the trees and bushes he was about to walk through.

Meanwhile we had a lot of footage of a naked, menstruating woman, doubled up in pain on a log. And then, in quite possibly a masterstroke of editing, some footage of her angrily beating the shit out of an eel in a really quite angry way.

I didn’t watch any more.

I assume they both made it off the island, otherwise they wouldn’t be showing the programme.

But I’m not sure how they’ll have done it…



Volume 3 – Chapter 271: If Only There Was Something To Take Our Mind Off The Bathroom

The bathroom’s not quite finished. Still. It’s coming up for the four week anniversary of it all starting. If it goes on much longer we’ll probably have to buy it a cake and put one of those banners on the front door that loudly advertises to any passing person that someone in your house is older now and that there may be presents worth stealing if they’re quick.

But apparently, there’s two more days work to do on it and then it’ll be done.

I’m not quite sure that’s true because there still seems to be an awful lot to do. But maybe they’re not measuring those particular days using standard Earth time. Maybe it’s a Mars day. Or a Saturn day or something like that. Anything that’s longer than a standard Earth day, anyway, because I really can’t see it will be finished ┬áby the end of Tuesday.

And I don’t want to dwell on it, and worry about whether we’ll ever be able to enjoy the comforts of having a sink and a toilet that is actually fasten to the floor and doesn’t shake like a shitting dog while you’re, well, doing what the dog is doing.

So, luckily, to prevent any of that dwelling malarky, the washing machine has decided to have a bit of an episode. It’s coming up with an error which is not actually listed on the Hoover Washing Machine List Of Made Up Codes (TM) so we think that the code might actually mean “These repairs will cost you more than the actual washing machine” and then some sounds meant to represent evil laughter.

What the error code means may be a mystery, but what the washing machine does is give up whatever washing cycle it is currently in at some indeterminate point during the process. Maybe it will wash the stuff a little bit. Maybe it will completely wash it, and just get bored during a spin cycle. Maybe it will make a half-hearted attempt to drain away the water. Or rinse the clothes with all the enthusiasm of something that has stopped doing anything. Oh, and then even when you’ve managed to drain away the water so that the machine is safe to open, maybe it will refuse to release the door lock leaving you to stare forlornly at your clothes through the little porthole in the door.

Still, at least we now have a bath we could do all the washing in…



Volume 3 – Chapter 270: Don’t You Know Who I Am?

There’s always a sense of dread sweeps over you when the phone goes after half-past nine at night. After that magical telephonic watershed, a phone call goes from being a potentially pleasant chat with a friend or family member to a call riddled with doom, gloom and unassailable crises that require your full and undivided attention and very little sleep. Touch wood, there have been very few phone calls of this nature. Most of the late night calls received here have been wrong numbers at bloody stupid o’clock in the morning rather than the heart-stopping call that a family member has fallen down and can’t get up.

As Carole’s out and about though – and braving the aisles of ASDA on her way home – I have to answer the phone where ordinarily I might let posh Margot the answer machine lady earn her crust because otherwise you just end up with an answer machine full of messages that go “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, it’s me, pick up, pick up, pick up, it’s me, it’s me, it’s me”. And because it might have been Carole I was all ready to run through the comprehensive list of items she is out to get from the shop – soap, butter, some bread rolls and some new potatoes, since you asked.

But it wasn’t Carole. And it wasn’t bad news. It wasn’t good news, either. In fact, as news goes, the phone call was sadly lacking. It was, at best, indifferent with maybe a hint of anger at the end of it.

I let it ring, and ring. Not because I didn’t want to answer it but more because I couldn’t remember where I’d last put the phone, and then Margot kicked in, but I cut her off in her prime.

“Who’s that speaking?” said the voice at the end of the phone.
“Who’s that speaking?”
“Who’s speaking?”
“Yeah, who’s speaking?”
“But, um, you rang me, so wouldn’t you know who was speaking?”

Apparently, he didn’t know who was speaking because he muttered something and hung up.

And maybe it’s actually lucky that he didn’t know who was speaking because while he was muttering he didn’t sound that happy.

Volume 3 – Chapter 269: Legitimate Shoplifting

I thought, this morning, that I was going to pursued through Leeds Station. I thought that cries of “Stop thief!” and “Stop that man!” would have risen up behind me as I made good my exit. I thought I would have been followed and asked, politely, if “I could just have a look at the contents of your bag, sir.”

Because at least three people observed me, to all intents and purposes, steal something from Marks & Spencers.

Now, this isn’t like the time when the checkout lady who doesn’t tell you the total amount or give you a bag even if you say “Yes please I would really like a bag. Thank you kindly, please” didn’t ring through my sandwich when I was on the way to Halifax one evening and I enjoyed a nice egg mayonnaise or somesuch for the princely sum of nothing.

No, this was pure blatant walk-up-to-the-shelf-and-put-an-item-in-my-bag shoplifting.

And the people who watched me do it weren’t to know that I had been given permission to do it. They weren’t to know that my brazen disregard for rules and regulations was, in fact, a fully authorised snatch-and-grab. And yet no-one raised a finger, or their voice, to stop me in anyway.

I bought, a very nice cheese and onion pasty from M&S this morning and as the till lady tipped it up to scan the barcode it came to both out attentions that the packet was, in fact, open and as a consequence, the till area was covered in the sort of high quality pastry shrapnel that you would expect from an outlet such as M&S. And so, as I completed my transaction, I was told that I could just go and get another one on my way out which, in a way, was nice because the one I got as I left looked a million times more lovely than the one I’d originally picked.

I’ve never encountered that before. I’ve never come across a situation in where I, as a shopper, am given carte blanche to pocket an item from a shelf on my way out of the store. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to nip back and pick something up or where the shop assistant has gone and got the item while I waited at the till, but I’ve never been asked to help myself on the way out.

And nor have I ever been in a position where I’ve wanted to go back into a shop afterwards and shout “Sorry! Is no-one going to accuse me of stealing this pasty?!?” in a really incredulous manner.