Don’t Have Your Cake And Eat It

February 28, 2017

We took ourselves out for lunch today.

A nice run up to Bolster Moor and its award winning meat-based products for what is fast becoming our usual fare when we go there – the ploughman’s. A gorgeous mix of lots of sexy cheese and pork pie (with lots of nommy jelly) and all the other things you’d expect. Including a cute little loaf of bread.

It’s bloody lovely.

We don’t go enough, to be honest. But it’s usually heaving at lunch times as the beige invaders tend to gravitate there to eat and witter. But, thanks to the weather being crap, it was nice and quiet and relatively free of constantly chewing old people.

So we ate, and we drank and we chatted.

And we left, having decided that we would not go to the shop for any sort of cake-based treat because it’s Pancake Day and we’d be over-eating on all the things we’ve bought in specially to make the pancakes which are supposed to mark the using up of things you had which you would then give up for lent. As with previous years, I am giving up pancakes for lent. I have not yet failed.

Anyway, we made it five minutes – if that – down the road before we had a discussion which resulted in us turning round and driving back so that we could go to the shop and purchase cakey goodness.

Nine pound’s worth of cakey goodness, to be precise. Well, eight pound something of cake and a can of coke for Carole (who is giving up from Monday, as her catchphrase is soon to be).

I don’t know if we should be proud of that or saddened at how weak-willed we are.

We haven’t eaten the cakey goodness, though. Because of the pancakes situation. Which is entirely the reason we didn’t by them in the first place.

Tomorrow though… well, tomorrow I’ll have given up pancakes for lent so all bets are off.


Attic Attack

February 27, 2017

It would appear that there’s a TARDIS at the top of the house.

Not so much the time and space travelling capabilities, but more the massive amount of space afforded by a seemingly small object.

Basically our attic is insanely full of stuff which we have started sorting out today. And by sorting out I mean removing from the house and depositing in a skip at the tip.

We’ve set ourselves a little target to go to the tip every day this week, as Carole’s off work and judging by this morning’s efforts it would appear that it isn’t going to be that hard to come up with stuff to take.

What adds to the fun of it all, though, is that the access hatch is in the back bedroom – you know, the one where we’ve decorated and you’re not allowed anywhere near the walls. The hatch is in the top of a cupboard because, you know, why the hell not and it’s a twat to get in and out of. I assume. It’s beyond my scope as a gymnast anyway so we have to send Carole up there like a Victorian child sweeping a chimney.

And then she starts throwing things through the hatch. Which is all well and good but when they ricochet out of the cupboard top like some kind of unpredictable missile heading towards the walls which we must never ever scrape then it’s a bloody scary thing. Not least because I certainly was not expecting to be attacked by an old cork noticeboard when I got up this morning!

Tomorrow, I think, we’re tackling a “piece” of carpet which is up there as that will give Carole a decent bit of space to work in.

Which makes me wonder how big this piece is. She’s already planning on taking a knife with her in case it gives her any trouble.

The mind boggles how it got up there in the first place…

Turn The Other Cheek

February 26, 2017

So we’ve moved the bed away from the drafty, plaster-blowing roof. We now know what the problem is, after a consultation with our tame roofer, and should be able to fix it pretty easily – it was a choice between the easy self-fix or taking the entire roof off, laying insulation and other things which would have cost a pretty penny.

But, for now, it means we’ve dragged the bed further into the room.

Which means, for me at least, it’s a bugger to get into bed.

Carole, somehow, has more room. And I am forced to either go behind the bed and then clamber over a chair – a chair which Peppa sleeps under – or shuffle along the bottom of the bed.

Both are fraught with danger.

If  go behind the bed, I am in a gap between the bed and the window. What this can mean, if I am not careful, is that I can pull the curtains open with my arse and accidentally moon the street.

Whereas the other way, should the radiator be on, there’s a decent chance I will burn my bum cheeks on the hot metal and Carole will wake to the sound of me screaming, a gentle sizzle as my flesh fries and the smell of a burnt bum.

Neither of them are particularly preferable.

I suppose either indecent exposure or branding is quite an incentive to get down to it and tackle the problem of the windy gap – the roof, that is, not anything else we may have been discussing.

But there’s also the thrill that comes from the perceived peril. The rush of adrenaline as I edge past a boiling radiator, or a curtain that moves so very, very easily. Both are like human versions of the game with the loop of wire that you have to navigate without completing the circuit.

Some people throw themselves out of planes, or swing from bridges on a bungee cord.

I choose this.

Extreme bedtime.

Schrodinger’s Oven

February 25, 2017

I love the unpredictability of our oven.

It’s one of those things where part of you thinks you should have a new oven, and part of you loves the fact that you have to second guess things like cooking time and oven temperature because it just seems to do whatever the fudge it likes.

Since Christmas, I’ve been knocking out one or two loaves of bread a week. And it’s only in the past couple of weeks that I’ve managed to actually iron out all the quirks of the oven and the timing to produce a loaf which doesn’t look like it should be sold as “well done” in Sainsbury’s. Seriously, they have well done loaves for sale. Normal people would call them burnt, but apparently it’s a thing.

Anyway, so yes, the quirks of the oven.

Today we made – or attempted to make – a Victoria sponge. The easiest of all the cakes. We mixed, we divided, we placed in oven. We licked spoons and bowls. We enjoyed it very much.

The oven, though, despite being at the prescribed temperature and enveloping the cakes for the correct amount of time just thought it wouldn’t bother with the middles. So we get to attempt it again, which is awesome from the bowl licking perspective, to try and fathom out what the oven actually wants from us in this instance.

I might have to buy an oven thermometer, so that we can find out that actually whatever we set the oven to is either way above or way below where it needs to be. And then we can mutter at it and discuss the merits of a new one. But preferably one that requires no wiring in because you know this house hates change and fights it at every turn.

I’m loathe to even think about replacing this oven because when it comes to be removed it’ll turn out that the gas pipe that feeds it is made from hopes and unicorn farts and needs to be replaced at great expense to the management.

In a lot of ways it’s easier just to experiment repeatedly – eating the results, obviously – until we get there.

And it’s sort of more fun, too, because literally everything is an adventure…

New Trick Into Old Dog Does Go

February 24, 2017

Today my mum watched something on catch-up TV.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal.

But, believe me, it is.

It’s huge.

She’s coming along in leaps and bounds!

Yesterday, while I was over there sifting through the nonsense in the garage, I had to give her a quick run down of how to access, view and generally use any sort of catch-up TV.

For starters, my dad had at some point purchased a Roku box which sat at the side of the TV gathering dust. My mum was convinced that everything on it cost her money, because she remembered dad saying that he wasn’t going to carry on paying for it as he wasn’t that impressed. Now, looking at the channels that were installed, I assume it was either Now TV or Netflix which failed to grab them. Or possibly Angry Birds, as they seem to have the gaming version of the box. Or maybe it was the cowboy channel.

They have all been removed now.

My mum is left with BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 catch-up services.

And bugger me if she can’t now manage to use them.

It was a rocky road, though.

For starters, let’s say the input is HDMI 1. Mum can’t call it that. She can’t even see that it is called that. As far as she is concerned, it’s HDM 11.

So I had that to contend with.

But what you soon learn with my mum is to just go with whatever she calls things. It’s easier in the long run, even if it pains you to do it.

And it did pain me.

Press the “home” button, became “the one with the picture of the house”and things like that. In fact, in the instructions she wrote for herself, she drew pictures – I kid you not – of what she needed to press. Partly, I suspect, because no-one – sometimes even her – can read her handwriting.

But, hey, you can’t fault her. The pictograms worked.

I just fear that she’ll abuse this power and watch Tipping Point and Take Me Out all the time…


Shit My Dad Kept

February 23, 2017

You know when there’s bad weather, and you see a news report about the weather – because the weather becomes news as well as weather – and they say “Do not travel unless absolutely necessary,” do you ever wonder who the people who travel when they don’t need to actually are?

Hello everybody, my names is Jake.

So I went over to mum’s today. I tried to chicken out of it at seven this morning, but mum assured me that the skies were blue in Halifax. So I struck out for the great metropolis of my birth.

It wasn’t fricking blue skies when I got there.

I had things to do prior to seeing mum, and it’s safe to say in the time I took to carry out these side quests I became what I like to call PWT.




I got to mum’s, though, and it wasn’t all bad as she’d lit a fire which was roaring away, and had a coat hanger on standby to whisk away my jacket and let it dry. And she looked at me and went “awww, your t-shirt’s all wet.” Which it was. Any t-shirt not covered by jacket was PWT. But a bit of time in front of the fire would be fine. I’d be dry in no time.

I had occasion to go to the loo – the cold wind having cut very much to the quick on my bladder.

And it’s safe to say that I didn’t have to worry too much about my t-shirt being wet. Because when you looked at it, my t-shirt had made a valiant effort to stop my trousers getting wet, and they in turn had made a similarly valiant effort to stop my undies getting wet.

All those had failed.

But due to the cold, I hadn’t even realised that I was basically as wet as I would have been if I had jumped into a swimming pool immediately after leaving the house.

Absolutely pissed wet through.

And when your mum’s in the house you have to draw the line at taking all your clothes off and sitting in front of the fire wrapped in a blanket. It’s generally frowned upon.

So instead I took myself off into the garage and busied myself sorting stuff out in there.

It was bloody cold in that garage.

The absolute perfect place for someone who is, basically, wearing wet clothes to be. Bear Grylls would be appalled. I should have had all my clothes off and rubbed myself down with snow, or something, to warm up. Instead I was trying to work out why dad had a pot of about 17 toothbrushes – all too filthy to use for cleaning anything – tucked away on the shelf of a unit.

Next to a box containing a lot of frying pans without handles.

And thirty-six candles (nowhere near as funny as four) – in case of a power cut – placed at the back end of a garage that is hard enough to traverse in the light, let alone the artificial darkness of an electrical failure.

And an old radio alarm clock that rattled and had yellowed with age.

And a box of assorted metal things including what appeared to be a perfectly good cheese knife.

All of which are the tip of a very cluttered iceberg that, for reasons no-one really knows, we’ve been putting off sorting out for a year or so…

Who knows what else we’ll find.

After all, dad once found something that used to be a hedgehog…

Just Drive

February 22, 2017

Mum rang today to say she’s “having the drive done tomorrow,” which immediately conjured up horrible images of scruffy people with next-to-no-teeth – you know, the sort of people that have a horse on some string – going door-to-door trying to get people to let them do their drive to “get rid of this bit of tarmac” they had left over from something.

Probably a theft from the tarmac factory, or something.

As it happens, I’m going over to mum’s tomorrow to tackle the garage – it’s been a year, we really should do something – so I’ll be around to make sure he’s not some kind of conman charlatan type who thinks he has found a vulnerable old lady he can squeeze for all she’s worth.

It’s funny because it always used to be a thing with my parents that you never went with anyone who just showed up at your door. That was one of the rules.

There were many.

Never open the door to old women selling apples was another. Because, apparently, our rules came mainly from Fairy Tales. I’ll never forget the time my mum kicked the spinning wheel away from my sister just before she pricked her finger on the needle and fell asleep for one hundred years. That was a lucky escape. Which I have entirely made up for comic effect.

Other rules were things like never buy the last of anything, there must be something wrong with it otherwise it would have been bought already.

So it wasn’t all Fairy Tale-based. Although you could, in a way, relate that to Jack and the Beanstalk because why had no-one else taken those magic beans, hmmm?

Anyway, so the rule about hiring itinerant workers has gone out of the window completely. And there is a small part of me that does worry about the whole vulnerable woman-nefarious workman dynamic you see on Watchdog and things of that nature. And I love the fact that my mum, during discussions in which she haggled him down on price, kept mentioning discussing it with her son and that I will be there on the day that he happens to be there. Which is a complete coincidence, but he doesn’t need to know that. I’ll just be in the garage staring at him through the window and doing that thing where I point at my eyes and then at him in a menacing fashion.

Unless he’s massive, in which case whatever mate, help yourself.

But there’s another part of me that thinks, and knows, that neither me nor mum can in any way be arsed enough to weedkiller the drive, pressure wash it, scrape up any remaining weeds and re-sand the whole thing. Not now. It’s reached a point where it’s above and beyond the scope of our interest to do it. It’ll be fine to maintain it from this point onwards, but no, getting a man in to do it is amazing. It has been abandoned to the elements over the last year and has begun to look a lot like a ruined city in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Even if he turns out to be the slipperiest of all conmen, if he at least does the weedkiller and washing bit before vanishing with the money then I’m happy with that…